On Gear and Crutches   39 comments

One of the things that I have always been a pretty firm believer in has been the thought that gear does not make the player. During my time in WoW, I’ve seen some of the best players that I’ve ever played with school people in their blue gear; and conversely, I’ve seen some of the worst players that I’ve ever played with decked out in full BiS gear from the most recent tier. I’ve always felt it’s worth the risk to take a chance on an undergeared player with “potential”, because gear is easy enough to obtain, while skill is either natural or trained through hard work, desire and practice.

As such, one of my biggest pet peeves as a player is when someone writes off a lackluster performance because “I don’t have the gear” – and then stops any further evaluation of their play. While it is true, that gear can, and will, have some impact on your ability to perform, I feel that too often it’s a crutch that people lean on to explain away why they can’t become a better player. Too often I’ll look through logs where I will find areas to improve that are completely unrelated to gear. DoT uptimes that are too low, HoT uptimes that are too low, poor use of mana regen mechanics, a significantly lower number of cast/attack x, cooldowns that go unused. And yet, rather than understanding what a player can do to perform better, so many times they will lean on the crutch of “my gear”.

If I’m being perfectly honest, it infuriates me. I think the reason that I feel so passionately about it is because gear is a valid reason for lower performance, but it is rarely the only, or even the main reason. And yet so many people are satisfied with the excuse that their gear isn’t good enough to do better that they don’t take the time to look past it and evaluate what else they could be doing to improve as a player. And because of that I think that they are doing themselves a disservice.

Gear isn’t a crutch, it’s a reason to try harder and become a better player.

For me, I look at having lower gear as a challenge. It’s the true “hard mode”. When you don’t have the same resources as someone else, it forces you to think outside of the box and be more creative. But more importantly, it requires you to be more focused on playing well, on being perfect, because one small mistake, one mis-timed cooldown, has the potential to have severe consequences on how well you perform. I refuse to use gear as an exucse for why I can’t play well. Rather, I’m going to use it to prove that I’m a good player regardless of the circumstances.

Sure, maybe I have to use a mana pot on encounters that most people laugh off. Maybe I have to lean on my innervate as much as possible when others aren’t bothered enough with mana to use it even once. Maybe I need to flask to help make up the difference on content that you normally wouldn’t bother. But you can damn well bet that I’m doing everything that I can to make up for the fact that my gear places me at a disadvantage – because I don’t want people to know that I have a disadvantage. I want them to inspect me and go “holy shit, how did she do that with her gear?!”.

Practice what you Preach

(edit: because there seems to be some confusion regarding my intent with this section, let me clarify. This section is about me.  It’s not intended to bash LFR folks or LFR – hence why their names have been blurred – the intent is to show my belief and philosophy that even with lesser gear, you can still be a performer, which is what is illustrated. I went beyond that to show that it wasn’t just my experience with the encounters that allowed me to do well.)

Let me share a story with you that I feel illustrates some of what I’ve said above. I know that I mentioned that I was leveling an alliance druid so that I had an opportunity to see some of the alliance quests, but also a character that was able to participate in shenanigans with my alliance friends. Well, on Sunday she reached level 85. On Monday, after I finished an assortment of guild chores, I ran a handful of the new instances with Tikari, Jasyla and Kurn. Not only was it a lot of fun (Tikari totally killed Kurn and I – don’t let him tell you any bunk about how we were “seen”!), but between the BoE gear that I tossed at myself and the gear I picked up in those four or five instances, I logged out for the night looking a bit like this:

Regardless of the fact that my equipped iLevel was 346, and that I was still sporting some 316 green shoulders, my heirloom helm, a 333 blue neck, it wasn’t physically possible for me to reach my haste cap and I hadn’t gotten all of my enchants completed, I was at an acquired iLevel high enough for me to queue into LFR. And so the next night when I got back from my PT and finished my household chores, I decided that I would indeed queue into LFR. I sent Derwent a tell linking my green shoulders and joking about how horrible my gear was, and how I was about to unleash myself onto the LFR community heirloom helm and all!

And at the end of the night, the logs for the four boss kills we saw looked like this:

Not only had I topped the meters for the entire run, I topped them for each individual boss as well – and sometimes by a very healthy margin. In my green shoulders. Not haste capped. And wearing my heirloom helm. I realized during Zon’ozz that I didn’t have any concentration potions (remedied right after that LFR), and sobbed as my mana bar gasped, but somehow managed to pull through (tip! use less rejuv at lower gear levels to get more out of your mana!).

But Beru! You have SO Much experience healing these fights as a druid – that’s not fair! And to you, I say “you’re wrong”. When we finished, I took the time to armory each of the other healers (most of whom had completed at least the first half of LFR multiple times, and one of whom looks to have done it almost weekly since it became available). And here is what I found:

  • The Priest had a 380 iLevel but was missing gems (including a meta), enchants and a glyph. He was Discipline, but I’m not knowledgeable enough to speak about his spec.
  • The second Druid was at a  387 iLevel but was using the wrong spec, was not haste capped and hadn’t reforged a single item.
  • The first Shaman was at a 377 iLevel but was not gemmed or enchanted. I am not knowledgable enough to speak to his spec.
  • The second Shaman was at a 380 iLevel but was not gemmed or enchanted. I am not knowledgable enough to speak to his spec.
  • The third Druid was at a 382 iLevel, and was only present for the first two bosses in the zone. However, they were partially gemmed, not enchanted, utilizing the wrong spec and not haste capped.
  • The fourth Druid was at a 388 iLevel, and was only present for the last two bosses in the zone. However, they were not enchanted, not gemmed properly and not haste capped.

After I looked at all of that, I went ahead and looked at each druid’s healing, because that is where I feel the most comfortable offering feedback. And here is what I pretty consistently found:

  • Low LB uptimes across the board (one of them had 28% uptime on one of the bosses!).
  • Low harmony uptimes across the board (one of them was at 35% uptime on one of the bosses!).
  • Little, or no, innervate usage.
  • Little, or no, ToL use.
  • Little, or no, Tranquilty use.
  • Some questionable spell priorities (one of them had regrowth as their second healing spell!).

My healing wasn’t on top because  I had so much familiarity with the encounters, I mean sure, it didn’t hurt, but I was on top because I understood  my class. Because I went in with the mindset that my gear wasn’t a barrier to performing well. And because I gave my best effort, even if it was just “lawls LFR”.

The next time that someone tells you that they can’t perform better because their gear limits them, ask them what else they could have done better. And if they can’t provide you with an answer (because, come on, everyone can always improve on something), then chances are good that they are limiting themselves as a player because of their gear, and their gear isn’t what is limiting their growth.

Posted March 21, 2012 by Beruthiel in Deep Thoughts

39 responses to “On Gear and Crutches

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  1. I couldn’t agree more. Gear does make a difference and is a help to raid progressions but its a distant third to playing your character right, and being smart about your encounter. My biggest example for this is one of our raiders who during the end of T11 essentially swapped mains 3 times as he created and leveled new alts and guess what, he was always 1st or 2nd in the damage done meters from the first time whatever new character stepped into the raid. He just knew how to DPS, it didn’t matter which tool he was using.

    • We have a guy in our guild who is absolutely amazing on any character he plays as well. I would feel 100% comfortable bringing any alt that he has into a raid, because I know that he would be a performer.

  2. Is the graph Heals? or Heals + Absorbs? Not to excuse the priest’s lack of gems, enchants and glyphs(!!), but if he was disc shields *should* have played a big part in his rotation. Of course, even if that was just Heals it’s still embarrassing for him.

  3. Firstlies, well done!

    Howevers, while I feels what there be a place fer lookin’ ta see how I can do better at killin’ stuff or keepin’ buggers alive, and is many times what that be me goal, if’n the goal is “always be lookin’ fer how ya can do better”, then ain’t the real answer “stop playin’ video games an’ go do sumthin’ in the outside world”? Afters all, video games be a dead end. The awesomest heals in WoW don’t translates inta anythin’ in real life, unfortunatelies. So, sometimes, me goal is sumthin’ else. And I’s okay with that.

    I owes me raidmates certain things when I join an LFR. I owes them not fer ta ignore oozes, or kill the wrong tentacle, or run the wrong direction durin’ lightning phase, or just stand there doin’ nuthin’. What I don’t owe them is performance at a arbitrary standard what they selected fer me, geared up or no. So, should somebody question me performance, the proper response is not “me gear sucks”, but rathers ta politely reminds them what as long as I do me job, how well I do it ain’t they’s business.

    • Hey Ratshag!

      Honestly, I would agree with your statements…if you were playing a solo game where your play had zero impact on anyone but yourself. At the point that you choose to participate in an activity where you are part of a group or a team (even if it is just for those brief moments that you are thrown together in LFD/LFR) I do feel that you have some measure of obligation to make an effort. I’m not saying that everyone needs to spend hours on end pouring over logs or min/maxing their play. But I do feel that a little bit of effort should be made to make sure that you understand the basics of your class, and that you have everything in order, so that while you might not be the best performer in the raid, you are also not hindering the raid either.

      You are right that there is a line there to be walked, but I think that if you choose to participate in an activity where your performance has an effect on more than just you as an individual, you should be trying to make sure that, at the minimum, you are pulling your fair share of the collective burden of success.

      • Hey Beru!

        Shoot, in a single-player game, I’s been known fer ta steal all the moneys or blow up me own starship or drown me sims in they’s swimmin’ pool, just fer the five seconds of amusements it gives me. Is a far cry from merelies not bein’ haste capped or not toppin’ the meters.

        Say I’d brought me team’s resto druid to yer LFR run. She’s got sufficient gear (373), it’s gemmed an’ enchanted, her talent build came from a reputable site, an’ she’s got her glyphs. We run add-ons what give much better infos than the default UI do. I’s a reasonably intelligent fluggernunder, an’ I knows the fights. But I has no doubt what if’n she’d been there what you’d’ve crushed her like a bug on the meters. Why? ‘Cause yer in the top 2.5% of 10/25-man raidin’, which means yer prolly in the top 1% of folks in LFR. And I ain’t nowheres near that that good, not even on me main, an’ I never will be. An’ there’s not a damn thing wrong with that.

        “A little bit of effort” “understand the basics” “pulling your fair share” – that’s what these buggers did. Is why you onlies beat them, ‘stead of fuhggin’ annihilaficated them.

  4. Class-to-Class comparisons on progression content (i.e. the “i dont have a legendary” defense) fit this perfectly. But I don’t think this fits into LFR simply because LFR isn’t difficult to make healing at a “heroic-level” a requirement. Those players likely only know LFR as their endgame,and the way they play is good enough to be rewarded by the instance. You can say people should “try to be their best” but to them, that likely IS their best or the only best they know (or they know that they can play like that and still win, which arguably is just fine).

    The premise is spot on, but the data/use of LFR isn’t a great example (unless those players said themselves it’s because of gear). There are much better instances of this happening in raid groups where players are holding their raids back using the “bad gear” excuse.

    • The example of LFR was more to illustrate that good play, at a lower level of gear, isn’t an unreasonable expectation. The focus of the post wasn’t on “omg, look how terrible these players in LFR are” – but rather on the ability to still be a performer regardless of the limitations of your gear.

      However, that being said, I have to respectfully disagree with some of your statements. If LFR is the “end game” to those players, then why is over half the gear ungemmed and unenchanted? And LFR, Normal or Heroic raiding doesn’t mean that a player shouldn’t have some base knowledge of their class and abilities, does it? In all of the examples I used above – there is nothing there that I placed the expectation of “heroic level” of healing. They are all things that can, and should, be learned throughout the leveling and gearing process. As an example, keeping LB on the tank is pretty fundamental – and each of those druids had spec’d into talents that had massive benefits for utilizing LB. It’s very much akin to keeping an earth shield active. I suppose I just had the assumption that they paid attention to what each talent did as they selected it – this is all information they have in the game without having to go somewhere else to track it down.

      I also have to disagree that anyone should accept “it’s good enough to get the job done”. That’s how we foster a lot of the play and poor attitudes that we see in the game today. If that’s how peopel want to play, there isn’t anything wrong with it, I’m just not sure that a group setting is the place to have that kind of mentality. Honestly, I would have been happy to sit down with any of the three druids from my raid last night to offer them feedback – but the truth of the matter is that any effort on my part probably would have been meet with hostility on theirs. A lot of people just don’t desire improve or even acknowledge that they have areas in which they can be improving.

  5. Yep. Spending even a little time with Simcraft for a DPS will reveal exactly the same thing. Gear does not account for the wide shift in performance that most people attribute to it.

    • Yes! Honestly, I wish people would just forget about their gear and look for areas of improvement.

      I don’t even think people need to necissarily run themselves through simcraft tools, I think they just need to have a basic understanding of how their class works, what their toolkit offers them, why their spec uses certain talents and what the benefit of those talents are. Everyone has room for growth, and it makes me a little frustrated when people deny that and look for reasons they can’t grow rather than ask “what could I have done better”.

      • The very first thing I do when playing a new character is look up the EJ thread for that class/spec and read it. I may be a little biased, in that I’m a math nerd and a rotation hound, but what draws me to new classes is learning a different play style and mastering a new rotation/mechanics. That 30 minutes spent reading through the guide is worth more than 30 minutes spent on a dummy, simply because it outlines exactly the details you describe: what are my skill priorities, how does my resource system work, what’s my toolkit, etc.

      • Oh yeah! I certainly did not mean that anyone needed to go to Simcraft… it is one of those tools that gets quoted a lot and misused a lot.

        What I meant by my comment was “if you load up Simcraft and play with it, and let’s be honest, many of us who are DPS do this…. well, you will realize that the difference between Item X and Item Y is 200 DPS! and that’s a tiny number!” Then the more important question is “why is my performance so way different than what simcraft says?” and that is not a question of gear at all. Simcraft is an excellent tool for dispelling myths about how much DPS buffs add or gear adds.

        I can’t wait for gear-leveled challenge modes!! Those are one of the things about MOP that have me most seriously pumped. Competitive PVE without people blaming gear differentials. I’m down!

  6. Half the problem is that the game gives you no indication of what to do to get better. it doesn’t even have a baseline damage meter so you can see how much damage you are doing. it’s safe to say that at least 85% of the players play the game with the default UI and spend their offline time on facebook and youtube, not EJ. And why not? It’s a freaking game, a fun time-killer. I play a fire mage, and I couldn’t do half as well as I do without the damned combustion timer mod that puts all the relevant info in one place. Even then, timing a combustion is half guesswork and half waiting for a decent crit. God I hate that ability. But in any case, I can’t blame people too much for not knowing what to do when there is nothing telling them or giving them any feedback at all, other than random jerks screaming at them in dungeons.

    • “it’s safe to say that at least 85% of the players play the game with the default UI and spend their offline time on facebook and youtube, not EJ.”

      While very true, I don’t think these people exist in the world beru’s article is written for/about. I would say reading this blog, or being in a raiding guild of someone that reads this blog pretty much takes for granted that you’re someone interested in doing something in a raid, and making progress towards further bosses in the raid. Not someone who’s completely satisfied to just kill some time in a 5 man or LFR and that be the end all of their wow experience.

      Those 85% of players don’t say “its a gear issue, I only have my 2 piece bonus and don’t have the gurthalak proc”. This article is aimed at the player that in the raiding group that cares and believes that the only way they can improve their performance is to get shiner loot.

    • If the game did give you an indicator, do you think it would matter?

  7. “LFM DS10 ILVL380+ pst” This is all I see in trade. Seems like a pretty high ilvl average…

  8. Wow… no gems or enchants on most of the healers? I don’t feel so bad for forgetting to enchant one new piece of fear for my latest LFR on my 4th alt now ><

    I actually wonder though, whether the main spec of most of those people is dps or tanking, or even pvp, and so they don't bother to think too much about their heal spec/gear that they use to get a faster LFR queue?

    Either way, absolutely agree that a lot of people put a poor performance down to their gear, in a non LFR raid. But they are welcome to, so long as they ain't in my guild!

  9. The thing is, over the long run, gear does make the difference. I’m currently solo-ing LK 5-mans on my hunter. This isn’t something I could have done during wrath. It’s the Cata stat inflation that makes it possible no matter how good a hunter I am (and I’m not). We get the same experience leveling too: eventually you can one-shot the murloc that killed you before and all without becoming a better player.

    Now, obviously, the gear boost within an expansion is much smaller but the lesson over time is that better gear trumps all skill. When someone explains poor performance by pointing to their gear, they’re applying a key lesson in WoW. If they also lack the log-parsing tools to discover how they might improve and/or the temperament to work towards bettering their performance, it’s easy to see how that might be their only reason.

    And as for “good enough,” that’s exactly what LFR is about. There’s nothing there beyond the group playing “well enough” to get the loot/points. No rewards for being top of the meters, no achievements, no pats on the back, no earning a raid spot, no progression, no incentives to play better.

    • I don’t know about you, but for me the reward is knowing that I did well and wasn’t just phoning in a performance. As far as gear goes, it certainly can and does make a difference, but not always the amount of difference that people want it to. If you are playing poorly no amount of gear is going to fix that, and you are still going to underperform for your gear level.

  10. This was demonstrated to me, once upon a time, by the Apotheosis token gnome warrior, Daey. He was all in greens from levelling up to 70. We took him to Kara. He demolished everyone on the meters while doing what he was asked to do.

    Similarly, I’m pretty certain I can outdamage (without being a bad player) many better-geared players, even though my equipped ilvl on Kurn is 381. (Stupid 346 bow…)

    And finally, I wish more people like you would unleash themselves on LFR and do their jobs as appropriately as you seem to have done. It’s tragic to see the breakdown of the healers you wrote up and it makes me SO SAD. I’m one of those weird people who will NOT inflict my sorry self on a group of people without being hit-capped, for example, or knowledgeable about my class.

    That said, we should LFR together at some point. I need a new bow!!

    • I’m totally down to LFR! Just let me know when :)

      Your green geared warrior is a great example! So many times it’s just having a basic understanding of what you are doing that can set you apart from the pack. It’s not even that the others out geared me, so much as it is was that I understood what I was doing.

  11. While I’m not excusing the completely un-gemmed, un-enchanted, and un-reforged players that you do see in LFR, a little mercy could be justified. I just levelled a (third) priest on a server far, far away from my main. (All my slots were full and I didn’t want to delete any of my toons.) And it’s jolly EXPENSIVE to get all that done when it’s your first toon. Making gold is relatively easy, when you have multiple maxed toons with various crafting professions on your server, or belong to a guild that can afford to help you out. For new people, in new guilds, it’s much, much harder, especially since there ARE so many of us who have been playing for a while and can afford the higher prices. (A guildy eventually loaned me 2K so I could get raid-ready. Or I’d still be without various chants. Thank-you Foo.)

    For a new player, it’s not cost effective to put expensive buffs onto/into <384 gear when you're gonna replace it relatively soon. And it won't stop you conquering the LFR bosses, all 25 of you could have no gems or chants or forges and the bad guys would still die–it's not like you're really ruining someone else's day by doing LFR without this stuff.

    If your end-game is going to be LFR, probably you don't have the WoW time to commit to a raiding guild and probably you don't have the grind time to farm the gold you need to min-max your gear entirely. Possibly you've never even heard of EJ and you don't have any interest in it anyways. You just want to logon and kill dragons for a couple of hours a week.

    I think not giving a *best effort* in a video game that you spend a small amount of leisure time on a week is perfectly fine. It's not an indication of flawed character or moral weakness. Min-max if you want. Strive for personal improvement. Parse logs til you drop with exhaustion. (I did, after a horrible night on H Yor Sahj.) But recognise that LFR is there for the player base that is probably not interested in those things, and there's no good reason why they should be. Pearl clutching when we glimpse perfidious players in LFR with bad specs or without gems or chants, is kinda sad.

    • I think you took the wrong thing out of my post. It really wasn’t about belittling people in LFR, it was more about looking at what I was able to do at a much lower level of gear – that whole segment was meant simply as an example. I did add a clarification into the post to that regard.

  12. I have to admit – my second druid, on which I sometimes do LFR, looks like this: http://eu.battle.net/wow/en/character/alonsus/talliss/advanced I’m not going to enchant/reforge/spend one moment of time on any gear under ilvl 384. And I haven’t spent a lot of time on good gear either, simply because I usually log in and want to kill something – laziness, pretty much. As others have pointed out – it’s LFR and the bottom line is that it doesn’t matter. You don’t *need* enchants and reforges and the best spec. 6 healers is at least 2 more than the place needs, so no one will suffer if my gear is a bit shit… after all, I do know what buttons to push and I do know the fights. I won’t top any meters, but the run will go just as smooth as it would if I was on my main.
    (In case it wasn’t clear, I’m not a min/maxer, despite being in a guild that’s working on H Madness. I do it on my main because it’s expected, but I find min/maxing the opposite of fun; I love sites like AskMrRobot which tell me what to do!)

    • I don’t know, I try to make sure that any toon that I’m going to be doing anything of significance with is at least in order. That could just be a difference of philosophy on play, though :)

  13. This wasn’t a discussion about properly preparing your gear for LFR. Indeed, it is more interesting at some level to see how you can do without properly prepared gear (more of the gear “disadvantage” if you will). Rather, it is what can you do to improve OUTSIDE of gear considerations…

    Namour of Llane

  14. I agree with Beru. I’ve seen far too many instances of LFR where people just don’t care enough to push themselves. I have 8 85s now, and I’ve gotten them each to within the minimum allowable iLvl for LFR. I’m very rarely top on my fresh 85s, but I’ve never been bottom… hell, I’ve rarely been below midline on a meter, just because I like to learn my characters and play to the best I can.

    A large part of the problem of LFR is that it’s in large cases anonymous. People feel they’re never going to see any of their fellow raiders again, so they feel comfortable with not being a valuable player. Griefing aside, I very rarely see a guilded group join an LFR where each member wasn’t at least trying… it’s almost always the people who are solo queuing who “have nothing to prove” to anyone else.

    There was a post on the community forums a while back with a rather vitriolic “tank” swearing he’d kick any healer who joined his group wearing PvP gear to get required iLvl to queue into HoTs… without bothering to give them a chance. It’s people like this I believe Beru’s alluding to. They believe that the measure of a person’s worth relates directly to the gear they’re wearing, whereas a skilled player knows that gear only gives you more tools to stretch your performance.

    Gear is certainly a contributor… there have been several fights this tier where I’ve felt like I could’ve beaten our lead rogue if he wasn’t a stage or 2’s worth of daggers ahead of me (I was damned close regardless)… but now that I have my legendaries too… I plan on making him work for a spot at the top of the meters ;)

    • Unfortunately, this post isn’t even really about LFR. It’s more about the mentality in general. I do wish people would take a little more time to look past their iLevel to see where they could find an opportunity to improve.

  15. Lots of people saying “it’s LFR, it doesn’t matter” – I was just in a LFR group that failed 3 times on madness, because people weren’t switching to the bloods and 2/3 of the dps was sub 30k. LFR does matter, because there are 24 other people there relying on you. Don’t waste their time.

    • I sometimes think it would be amusifyin’ fer ta have an LFR where all 24 other buggers go /follow /afk, and they follows me around like me own personal Army of the Dead. Of course, we wouldn’t be ables fer ta kill nuthin’, but the story’d be fun ta tell.

      But we ain’t talkin’ ’bout that here, an’ we ain’t talkin’ about the occassional wipe ’cause ya got unlucky and drew a real lousy group. Beru’s post don’t mention a single wipe, but it do say they killed all four bosses. In other words, folks performed good enough. They done met the requirements as defined by the game. They didn’t let nobodies down. They didn’t waste nobody’s time. What they didn’t do were ta meet some arbitrary standard set unilaterallies by a srs bzns pro-league raider. An’ me response ta that be “so what?”

    • I also get frustrated at the mentality that “x doesn’t matter” – largely because at the juncture that you decide to participate in a group activity, you are no longer engaging in solo play and your contribution to the group does matter. If you are just learning, that’s fine! But to say it doesn’t matter because it’s “only xyz” is unfair to everyone else in your group.

  16. I take it that the point of this post was to show how much improvement can be had from non-gear related sources. It pretty clearly succeeds at that. For whatever reason (LFR is their endgame, they’re on alts they don’t care too much about, etc.), all of the other healers in this particular LFR group were underperforming their gear level. This is established when we see that better performance can be achieved with lesser gear.

    Complaining about gear is almost always a crutch. There are, of course, exceptions. One instance in which it may not be a crutch is when it comes to legendaries. Before the DTR nerf, for example, casters got, at a minimum a 10% boost to their performance. Given other synergies the staff may have with their class mechanics (eclipse, for example, and increasing NG uptime), the boost would’ve been more. And it’s purely for free. Takes no skill to take advantage of.

    Another example is not gear related but buff related. DI, for example. On Ultraxion whether our lock is in and giving me DI is worth ~2k. That’s considerable, just over a 5% swing. DTW + DI? Now we’re talking some SERIOUS swings in performance that are fully skill independent. This is one reason it’s so tough to evaluate caster dps performance over the past two tiers. You can’t just comb through WoL rankings. When we were progressing on Ultraxion a few months ago I was helping our ele shammy look for ranking parses. We literally could not find one ranked parse from range 100-200 that did not have a legendary. Very frustrating to get a handle on where we thought she should be and how she could improve.

    DI and DTW are other topics. As it stands, I can’t see any way that this post doesn’t beautifully achieve its goal

    • “I take it that the point of this post was to show how much improvement can be had from non-gear related sources.”

      Yes! This is exactly the point that I am attempting to make!

  17. While it’s not at all my intent to berate or belittle, I feel you’re not being terribly humble about the experience. You’re making leaps of comparison that just aren’t fair.

    First of all, I find it convenient that you cut out the “Active Time” column from your report, which clearly shows that 3 of the other healers at or below 90% activity, with the second person still only at 95%. Yes, you beat healers who literally stood around doing nothing, regardless of gear. You beat people who weren’t competing. Meanwhile you’re healing non-stop (which is great, I do the same, of course) and they’re letting you have it all, as they only see the damage you haven’t healed yet and are presumably slow to respond. It’s not impressive. I can only speak for myself, but I have literally done over 50% of total healing on many fights in LFR, just due to the huge discrepancy of skill and gear, and the fact that…generally speaking…LFR healers tend to be embarrassingly terrible compared to dedicated Hard Mode healers like you or I.

    You’re an experience Hard Mode raider competing against alts and relative newbies. People who likely have far less understanding of the game as a whole, and who almost certainly have very poor understandings of true min/max for their class. It’s no coincidence that the people you beat were unenchanted/gemmed/forged: they’re a radically different type of player than you are. Of course skill > gear when the levels of skill are to such extremes, but is it really a useful or valid comparison? Would it impress you if I said that I can outdps the best geared Mage in the world if all he did was wand?

    In order for the argument to seem even remotely supported by your “experiment”, the skill gap would have to be much closer than you indicate. Sure, “skill > gear” is fully supported when competing against a set of newbies/alts in the non-serious LFR (where they have little motivation for improving [or even staying at their keyboard, for that matter], compared to a guild-run group). But how would the results look if one of your healing members had been a 385 geared 2/8H healer who at least knew the basics of their class? How would your ~365 ilvl (heirlooms are counted as level 1 items, significantly tanking your equipped ilvl from what it “really” is) druid compare to my 376 ilvl druid alt? That’s the far more interesting question…not whether you can beat some half-sleeping alts and players (potentially young children, even) who don’t care at all about their performance. I have no doubt that you’re a far more experienced and skilled druid than I (I main a Shaman), but with all due respect, I honestly don’t think you could “out skill” the gear discrepancy, since I at least fundamentally understand Druid healing, even though my actual performance would undoubtedly be sub-optimal.

    Skill > Gear is true when looking at extremes as you have. It’s also applicable when recruiting for a guild, as gear will certainly come and go while the guild gains more by having the more skilled player. But skill levels in the same ballpark cannot always overcome gear discrepancies.

    Everyone should strive for improvement, absolutely. But let’s not make bragging posts about beating random players who *clearly* don’t take their character or role very seriously and then falsely boast how all gear gaps can be overcome by skill. Gear *does* matter. A lot.


    Random Resto Shaman,

    • I’d be happy to take my druid in and heal with your druid and see where the cards fell. Of course, the fact that you opted to come and anonymously comment on my opinion on the matter means that is likely never going to happen. Belittling me because I put in effort over people who didn’t (i.e. my active time) seems to me to do nothing but prove the point that I’m trying to make. My gear didn’t mean shit. My mindset, skill and attitude when I stepped to play on the other hand, did. Why should I be chided, or told I’m not being humble, for playing well? Shouldn’t the expectation of anyone who joins into a group activity be that you are going to do your best?

      Your statements also make the assumption that I haven’t been in positions where I’ve played with people who have both more experience and more gear than I do and not done well – which is a poor assumption to make. Lastly, I never said that gear didn’t matter. In fact, it’s pretty clearly stated in the third paragraph on my post that it is a factor. It’s just often not the factor that many people want to attribute to it.

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