Wednesday, July 24, 2013

What is an Appropriate Gear Level for Someone That Does Not Raid?

I believe this is an interesting question and I suspect that I will get a wide degree of opinions about it.  Many most likely calling me out for asking too much of people that are casual players.  In a recent discussion about raiding and some people using gear as an excuse for not doing well it raised two questions in my mind.

1) What gear do you need to do current content? (which I will not address now as it is not all about gear and that is a topic in and of itself)

2) How geared can you get even with no raid drops?

So many people keep saying, when trying to get into our 25 man, that they just can't get any gear.  I've become relatively fed up with hearing this.  If someone makes an effort, even a minor one, they can gear up.  But what constitutes a reasonable effort?

I have one character, which while they do have a few raid kills they have never received one raid drop, that is currently sitting at 516.  They have every item you can buy with valor, the only thing they do not have is the shoulders you can buy with gold as they are not exalted with the shado-pan assault.  They are an alt that I play once in a while here and there and if I raid even the LFR with them once a month it is a lot.

They have managed to not only get every single valor piece they can get, but they got one piece from nalak.  They do not have the legendary cloak because quite frankly I have not even tried to get it on any character besides my main.  The have one trinket that is 483 and the rest of their items are 502 raid finder level.  So 516, with little to no real effort put into gearing them up.

I have another character, which as well raided and has one raid drop, that is 517.  I have two others that I have not even played at all in any way shape or form in a month that are 512 and 514 respectively.  Just from the little I did play them.

I have one character that has just been lucky with heroic scenarios.  They have yet to even finished the LFR version of ToT but they are rocking a 518 item level.  A 518 item level and they have not even done all four of the ToTs yet.  Not kidding.

So if you were to ask me I would say that a 510 item level is the bare minimum anyone that has been playing since the patch came out should have even if they are a part time player if they have the intention to try to raid.

So basically when someone comes to me and says, "If I get some drops I can do better" I just want to ask them, what are you doing with your time online to not even have a 500 item level yet?

I see some people online every day.  As in every single day they are on and for substantial amounts of time.  These are people that want to raid, they keep asking to raid, so what are they doing with their time online to only have a 485 to 498 item level?

Am I just being too demanding to think that someone that is online at least a few times a week should have at least a 510 item level if their intention is to raid?

How is 510 too much to ask of someone that is online most days?  With valor gear alone you should be able to get mostly there.  Running the LFRs, heroic scenarios, nalak, oon, and even crafted items if you are willing to spend the money, 510 does not seem like all that high to me.

As a matter of fact, looking over my raid team I see people that have been raiding since the get go this patch and two of them are only at 517.  How the hell do you raid every single week and be only at 517 at this point.  Sure, I know we are not downing a lot of bosses each week and there might not have been many drops for you, but to be an every day raider since the patch dropped and be only 517 shows you are not trying.

Sure, there could be the issue with drops, but you should have your cloak by now, you should have every valor piece by now, you should have 1 or 2 nalak pieces if you got lucky and maybe even an Oon one.  You should have everything upgraded or near upgraded.  How is it possible to be only at 517 as a regular raider at this point?  If my tank was that it would be acceptable as it is an alt, even if I used it, and I pass on everything so mains can get it first.  And I still have higher than that having passed on everything.

More and more I wonder if people just do not try.  If they take the fact this is a casual raid guild to mean that trying is not needed.  That gear is not needed.  Well, it is needed, even if doing mechanics right is needed more, the gear is still needed.  I do not care if we are casual.  If you can not cap on valor each week to make yourself better when we are not downing bosses or you are not getting drops, you are not trying and sorry, you are not a raider.

A raider, even at the casual level, in my opinion is someone that tries to do what they can do.  That means the simple things like capping valor, upgrading items, working on reputations needed to buy things.  I do not except casual as an excuse for not trying.

While I believe that 510 should be attainable by anyone that even tries a tiny bit I believe that 520 should be the absolute minimum anyone that considers themselves a raider, or wanna be raider, should be at by now in the patch.  I understand it is really hard to get much further without luck or without actually raiding.  But 520 should be an easy mark to get to if you are really trying and 510 should be an easy mark to get to if you want to raid.

Unless you are a new 90 or super casual, as in only one once or twice a week, anything under 510 means you are not really interested in raiding or not really dedicated enough to want to raid for me to let you raid.

I think the appropriate item level for a non raiding character to be 510 or near it.  What do you think?  Or do you think I am over estimating that mark as easy to get for a casual player or wanna be raider?

It would be easy for my view to be tainted as I have a few characters over that level.  So perhaps I am being too harsh in saying that at this point anything less than 510 is not really trying.  What do you think the appropriate gear level for someone that does not raid is right now?

Note:  LFR does not count as raiding for this example, it is just another method to grind gear, rep and quest items, nothing more, nothing less.


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    1. Okay, lets say you wanted to raid. What do you think would be the level of your gear should be to start at this stage of the game.

      I think if you wanted to jump into my raid group, and were not a new 90 or a part time player, you should have a 510 item level at this stage.

      That is what I was looking for.

      Not saying anything bad against non raiders. Just saying that non raiders that want to raid should at least be ready to raid and not expect to be invited at a 460 item level, like I get people all the time. They get pissed off at me for saying no, get some gear first.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. In all 496 gear good players could easily down current content. That is true. Most need a little more to feel comfortable. I know I did not feel comfortable at first myself until I was a little over 500.

  2. 510 sounds about right. I have only downed the first boss in Tot normal on my resto druid. I did get the back piece that drops via a bonus roll.

    I have only done the first 2 parts if Tot in LFR...maybe 4 times each, the last time possibly in April.

    I've only done 1 heroic scenario. I did get the staff.

    I crafted the 522 boots and helm, and cap valor each week.

    Never won a world boss tier item so far. They all hate me.

    Look up Sarrge on Tanaris. So ya it's doable.

    1. Wow, someone I have more luck than. I got one piece from the world bosses on my hunter doing it every week and using a coin every week.

      I was thinking 510 sounded doable. At least at this point in the raid tier.

  3. I'd say that you two are the 1% and I'm a representative of the 99%. With the time I can play each week, I only have one of my seven 90s at 510. My second-most played character is at 502. The others are baseline 458 from crafted blues with no time to run heroics to gear 460 to run LFR. I've been capping valor on the 1st toon for ten or so weeks. The 2nd toon doesn't cap each week even with the 50% buff. Just not enough time. Since heroic scenarios require joining as a group and I'm in a casual guild, that's not an option for me. So I cap by dailies, LFR, heroic LFD and normal scenarios (which I avoid as I just don't like the scenarios.) I find bonus rolls to be nothing but a tease. I've been rolling on the two shield drops for eight weeks - yay gold bags. I forgot that Spirit Kings drops a shield as well, so I need to take time away from the 2nd toon's valor cap to run MV's 2nd wing on the 1st toon. There goes another 40 minutes waiting in the DPS LFR queue.

    Sufferwell, my best reason to call you a 1% is that you've acquired enough haunting spirits to craft two 522s. I've only received one haunting spirit across all my toons in MOP. Just one. I can't imagine having 14. Nor spending the gold on my server for 13 more. My 1st is Tarrna at Alleria. Maybe I'm doing things wrong. But I know more players below my ilvl than the levels the two of you are citing as a minimum.

    Grumpy I was going to ask about getting on your standby list so I could get some normal runs in with a solid group, but I realize now that you'd most likely laugh at a casual like me.

    1. Actually I would never laugh at someone making an effort. If you make an effort, you are welcome. I've said it a million times. All I ask is for people to try.

      I was looking for the comments like yours. Something to see how it is like from the other end, so to speak. As I have higher geared characters and know the fast track to gear having done it, it is hard for me to judge and be objective. That is why I ask others. In an effort to keep me grounded.

      I joke, but it is probably true, that one 90 I have on a server all by itself, so supporting characters, just it alone, is probably what the majority of the player base is like.

      In defense of sufferwell and the haunting spirits they are easy enough to get if you have the gold. Depends on how you play the game. I have purchased the boots for my hunter early on when they were really expensive and 4 other pieces for other character since then. I have never, repeat never, received a haunting spirit once. I purchased them.

      Just hang around trade or ask someone in guild to let you know if they see someone selling. When you see someone selling stacks of 20 they are a duper. Which means they are duping the items. You can easily talk them down to 2K a piece or less and that is when I usually buy them. Sure, it might be wrong buying it from them, but I used to report them, they never get banned. So might as well use them to my advantage. If you really wanted to you could buy them and resell them, but that might bring unwanted attention, so I never do that.

      There are ways to gear up and I think 510 is reasonable for someone that plays at least two says a week.

    2. My druid is my only toon above 510. My second closest is my DK at maybe 506, but I only use him to run old raids now. Now other toon is above 480...I have 6 level 90s. Those are the only 2 toons I semi regularly play now. Real life has sucked my WoW time up.

      With the haunting spirits I just bought them off of the AH, and I crafted those items late, about a few weeks ago. They were going for around 2500 each, which was a huge anomaly at the time. Now they were back around 4-5k

      So I think I got lucky on those, because I wouldn't be anywhere near 510 without them.

      I just cap valor by doing one heroic dungeon, normal scenario, and a couple Angler or Tiller quests each day to cap.

      Maybe I am in the minority lol.

    3. I think they were referring more to me. I freely admit I put an extra effort into it. I actively try to gear up as best I can even on alts I have no intention of raiding with.

      There are not many people, at least in this expansion where there is no quick catch up mechanic, that would be willing to have as many geared characters as I do, if we are calling 510 or better geared that is.

      All in all I would say I only have 1 toon geared, my hunter. And I did os by capping valor every week and upgrading everything and getting the cloak. Only 2 of my items are from a raid. That is it, 2, and I am still 530. And that is what I would say is a very well geared (for normals) character, or a starting heroics character.

    4. Couldn't resist:

      "I find bonus rolls to be nothing but a tease. I've been rolling on the two shield drops for eight weeks - yay gold bags."

      Same here. I've been rolling on helms and shields (any offhands, really) since the beginning of ToT, I always do wings that drop these items first lest I miss a chance on them. Nothing. I would gladly trade all drops that I didn't need (there were like 10) for one shield. :-(

    5. I feel your pain. Last tier I would do the ToES LFR week after week three times using a coin each time just to try and get the bow. Never got it. Even when ToT came out I still did ToES every week and used a coin. Still took me another 4 or so weeks to get it even with the improved drop rate.

      Coins do seem like a tease. I think they can do something better with this bonus design. Sometimes like if you down a boss you can spend 5 coins to "buy" something that boss would have dropped. That was you know, as a matter of fact, that you will get something every five coins as five coins buys something.

  4. I have two raiding toons. My 2/13 main hunter is at 536 and my 11/12 alt shaman is at 520. My hunter walked into ToT on day one with a 504 ilvl and my shaman walked in about six weeks ago at a 490 ilvl. Both did fine, obviously. I'm not a heroic raider (though we push into heroics a little once the normal tier is cleared), but I do end up raiding over 20 hours a week on different toons.

    We have a good laugh when we see Raid Finder heroes trying to pug groups with ridiculous gear standards like 510 ilvl. Is your heroic scenario and Nalak loot really what's going to save you from boss mechanics? Because you got 516 bracers from a scenario box, you think you're awesome enough to do normal raiding? LOL.

    Try following the mechanics. Stay out of the fire, stack up for healing, use your personals, communicate in vent/mumble, push your class as far as it can go, etc, etc, etc.

    When one of our tanks had an emergency, one of the healers from the main group brought in their fresh 90 DK. He had a 450 ilvl. And we cleared all the way through Iron Qon that night. Do you want to guess how much "Oon" loot he had on?

    Forget your ilvls, and stop trying to nanny your raiders by tracking their every move online. That's not raid leading, that's being a creep. Get good players who want to show up, who want to be prepared, and who want to down bosses, and your ilvl, valor capping, and Nalak kills go entirely out the window.

    And just an aside - if you're going to judge people by their gear, don't cry when the same happens to you. Because, yes, we have a good laugh at scrubs like you in their heroic scenario and double upgraded valor gear. Oh you got your tier gloves off Nalak? Wooooooo. Have fun LFG, we'll be downing bosses in our blues and greens.

    1. I agree, one week we had no tanks so we took two tanks that were in the 490 range and did the first three. When people know what they are doing it can be done. Most people however need that little extra.

      When the average player in 510 gear thinks that 50K is doing good DPS, then mechanics can only get you so far. You will not down bosses doing 50K even if you do perfect mechanics. If you need to baby them and get them more gear so they can do more DPS you have to do that.

      Don't judge the population of a bad server with that of a good one. You or I could do just fine in 490-500 but most can't.

  5. I'll agree that 510 is a reasonable expectation for somebody who has been actively playing at 90 for this entire tier, but not everybody is starting from that point. Average people start becoming viable raiders around 490-500, even earlier if they have the right focus and attitude. The extra slog from 500-510 can be longer than 480-500, and real raid experience in a good group is the best motivation to improve both skill and equipment.

    1. I would say that someone could get to 490 pretty easily with a little luck even if they only hit 90 a month or so ago. I agree however that 500 to 510 could be a real trouble maker without some luck or a lot of valor gear, which takes time.

    2. The time is the real determining factor. Borrowing from goblin vendors, "Time is gearscore, friend."

      My first response was 600 words longer with a rough timeline that the two characters I geared in this tier followed , but I cut it down to just the TL;DR version of the actual answer.

      The two characters were geared consecutively with a small overlap, and followed very similar patterns. Each took roughly 2-3 weeks of ToT LFR and valor to reach 490 and an additional ~6 weeks to get near 510 after a particularly lucky week with 3-5 upgrade drops. (Not to be confused with "I'm already wearing this, or something much better" drops. My priest received every weapon in ToT before getting a set piece, which replaced another LFR drop. LFR loot can be really stupid.)

      Neither character has done much normal mode raiding, mostly because I haven't been actively looking for a group to go with.

    3. I have had two completely different ends of the spectrum myself when gearing.

      My DK recently (as in after the drop rate increase in the old LFRs) ran 8 straight week, using a coin on all 16 bosses, and won nothing. That is right. Nothing. It is still to this day sitting at 472 because I gave up. If it can not win with increased drop rates, screw it.

      My monk, hit 90. Put on some crafted gear and finished the klaxxi quest line and golden lotus quest line (thanks to the warbringers) getting them exalted and the 489 ring and 489 neck and 463 chest and 463 weapon in the process. Went into the LFRs and ran through them all winning off nearly every boss. Even winning 2 out of 3 in all 4 of the ToT LFRs and was item level of 497 the first day of its 90 life.

      So time and luck play huge factors. My DK worked its ass off for 8 weeks and moved no where while my monk played one day and outgeared it by 26 points at the end of that day.

      I think the key here for many people is the RNG. Too much luck involved in gearing up. I hate the gearing up through the LFR and luck of this expansion.

  6. I am not sure what would be proper expectations of ilvl for raiding, since I don't raid, but I can give you this data point:

    I play a couple (2-3) hours every day taking a day off here and there, so, let's say 6 days a week. About 80% of my playtime is PVP. I don't cap valor every week on anyone, not even my "main". I do LFR on three characters. The ilvls of PVE sets of these three characters are: 512, 509, 504.

    Whenever I see someone in less than 500 I think they are a new alt or have recently returned to the game after putting it off for a couple of months (nothing wrong with that, mind you).

    1. That seems quite reasonable, between 500-510 for a non raider which is what you say your guys are at. It seems acceptable to be around that item level.

      Someone with raiding experience could easily do the fights in less than 500 item level but for someone starting at this stage of the game, if you wanted to, I think all your characters would be perfectly in range.

  7. To answer your original question, "What's an appropriate gear level for someone who doesn't raid?", it's enough gear to do the content that they want to do.

    If they just run 5-mans and scenarios then quest gear is pretty much all that's required. Pet battler? No gear requirement. Retro raid participant? No gear requirement.

    Anything above those in the "gear required" category do have gear requirements. I think the Blizzard requirements for LFR and HS are generally pretty good for average players (better players could perform with less, below-average would need more to perform, but generally they're about right).

    For normal raids I think being i20 above the LFR requirement is MORE than enough. HoF and Terrace drop i496 gear in normal so i496 should be plenty to get started in ToT. I've used that as my personal ballpark for when a toon is ready for normal ToT... i496+ and an appropriate weapon, with a lesser weapon I'd need a few more iLvl to be comfortable.

    i510 is overkill as a requirement for someone going into ToT for the first time, assuming they perform at a decent level.

    Basiclly, if someone comes in on a ToT run and underperforms, I'd only allow gear to come into the discussion IF it's below i500. If they're at or above that level, I'd be sticking to a performance/execution discussion. If someone has i505 and blames their performance on not getting gear, I'd consider that a huge red flag, you won't get much incremental improvement from any drops they get in your run. i500 should be enough gear to be useful in killing some bosses.

    As for the final point of "What gear level should non-raiders be able to hit?", there are far too many factors in play there, it depends too much on personal circumstances. If they only have one toon I'd have higher expectations. Multiple toons, lower. Regular PvPer, lower. Only if their sole focus is to get a toon geared up for normal raids would I have an i510-i520 expectation for a non-raiding toon. With a 1K/week VP cap there's no way to gear up a toon that way in anything less than 3 months and I'd never expect world bosses to drop anything for anyone, assuming they can even get runs (I can't even get Nalak runs on Tue anymore).

    TL;DR: i496-i500 would be my minimum gear requirement for someone going into ToT for the first time but they'd have to be decent+ players. They come in with that gear with incomplete/improper rotations, different discussion.

    1. I agree with the concept that HoF/ToES 496 gear should be the start for ToT but I do not believe it was designed really well, in my opinion at least.

      My guild went in an killed the first boss no problem but in but the second boss was hell until we got a little gear. Maybe now that it has been nerfed a few times an average, not great, group around 500 can do it, but I would still doubt it. Just my opinion of course.

      What you said in there, relating to skill, is a huge factor in what is enough gear. It is also why I consider 510 to be more reasonable. Based on how I see people do trying out for our 25s that seems to be the minimum breaking point for a fair deal of the player base. Most can't do at 510 what I was able to do at 490 but they can still do enough to at least get some bosses down. Hence the reason I decided on that being the arbitrary level I set in mind.

      You mention things outside of raiding and while it was not my intention to make it seem like I was asking that, that too is a very good question.

      You are right, the game puts in fair, not good but fair, markers for group content. But I do not think it is enough. I've seen my fair share of 30K DPS in 480 gear and I am sure you have as well. There is no way to factor in skill, but other than that I think their numbers are fair. 480 should be good enough for the content even for people that are somewhat lacking.

      Out in the world, even on my non raiding alts, I want the highest possible item level I can get without raiding. Just because I am not raiding does not mean I should not have good gear. It makes getting quests done faster, killing mobs to skin faster, doing achievements faster, dungeon runs faster. There is no reason to ever let a character sit at a low item level if you intend to play it. As I see it at least.

      Even if I can kill rares on the island with my 442 hunter I would rather kill them on my hunter with a 473 item level or the one with the 530 item level. Maybe it is just me however. But even if I never stepped foot into a raid, I would rather have a 530 item level than a 442 item level any day.

    2. I agree, but it takes a LOT of time to get gear no matter how you look at it. When I have a toon that I'm looking to make "ToT-ready", that basically means i500 and an appropriate weapon (i491, basically... upgraded LFR Sha weapon or equivalent). Once my toons hit that level, gearing up outside of normal raids becomes considerably slower... I could get 4 toons from i480-i500 in the time it'd take to get 1 from i500-i510.

      Generally I'm actually with you, I'd like to have the best gear I can get on all my toons but these days I'm a lot more likely to spend a night getting gear on a toon with i470 gear than one with i500... the i500 toon is good enough and even with the amount that I play, I can't run LFR on every toon every week. I'd rather do it on toons that are less likely to get duplicate items or sidegrades.

      So, am I a failure by only having 1 toon over i510 and 4 stuck in the i500-i510 range? By your criteria, I probably am, but in my case I think I can easily justify it... if one of my i500 toons wasn't keeping up (looks sideways at the damned fire mage) I'd bench them until that changes, or in that case I *would* spend the time to get more gear. But for ME, at my particular level of skill, i500 is generally fine for the content I'm running or could potentially run. For the guys doing 60K in i520 gear, though, it'd be a different discussion entirely. The time that player probably picked up by going from i500 to i520 would have been MUCH better spent learning to push buttons than chain-running heroics or scenarios to VP cap for a couple of months for better gear.

      As for Horridon, yes, it was overtuned at first but even then, an average group with i500 gear would have eventually improved to the point of getting it, the key seemed to be execution and avoiding bad stuff, that just takes time and can't REALLY be overgeared... the venom priests only got 1 cast off the first time we did that fight and we still aren't generally killing them before that first cast, we're just interrupting it now. It was a progression fight... too early in the instance, IMO, but that's just how it played. I've never seen an instance like ToT before with a ski-slope kill rate (big drop-offs for the first 4 or 5 bosses, then it smooths out to the point where once you've killed 7, you're almost guaranteed a relatively quick completion).

    3. Not a failure. You are ready to go into it at 500. I just consider 510 a buffer. I take people 460, so it is not like I am saying I expect people to be 510. But that is the number I think shows someone is "really trying" to break into raiding.

      You are also talking multiple characters. I would be willing to bet that if you worked on one character only, even without raiding, the amount of time you spend on multiple characters, you would be 520+ in that time.

      Go frost on your mage at that item level. Fire is very gear dependent. You will do awesome with frost as it is less gear dependent. Just a suggestion. Someone suggested it to me and I nearly doubled my DPS. That character is now in the dreaded 509 phase where it will take luck to get to 510.

      Horridon took us a while. Mostly because my group is not the greatest at execution, it takes them longer to learn than others. But you are right. We hit a bump at the turtle to some RNG and some learning to kick and rotate healer cooldowns, but nothing after that was even half the trouble that horridon was. I said in a previous post that the saurok and horridon should switch places. He seemed more like a #2 boss and the dino seemed more like a #7 boss in my opinion.

    4. Yeah, I made a recent comment here that Frost seemed to scale very well with lower gear levels, my i440ish mage is ripping up the 5-mans as Frost, doing 60-80K on most boss fights. My i505 fire mage is barely doing more than that, although on longer fights. 90K seems to be a bit of a cap unless I get really lucky with a few optimal combustions. I've switched over to frost on my mage but he's stuck with fire gear (crit, crit and more crit), sub-optimal for frost but close enough for government work.

      How are you finding Meg to be, assuming you've gotten past that? At this point we generally cruise past the first 4 but Meg has blocked us 4 of the last 5 weeks for no real reason... it's usually a one-shot the next night in, just seems to cause us issues late in our first raid night and I can't explain why.

      And yeah, if they'd somehow been able to swap bosses 10 and 11 with bosses 2 and 4 I think the difficulty would be better scaled. Too late now, though, and it sounds like they've learned from that going into 5.4.

      Plus, Flex. So looking forward to having that.

    5. Just reforge everything you can into haste for the frost and you can do okay with it. I do not really try to do the rotation perfect, do the simple version of it, and 100K is usually easy at 509 item level. I am sure if I worked on it and tried to time things better I could get upwards of 120K with it. With fire that would never happen unless you get really lucky at that gear level.

      Meg is what I would consider the second easiest boss in there. The saurok being the first. But that is only because it happens to work toward out strengths. Shaman healers, which are stack up gods, and high DPS.

      We were able to 2 shot it our first time there and usually one shot it. But like I said, it plays to our strengths, so it would be hard to judge from that.

      Two was hell, and four was a bit of an annoyance. Still is. We have our, oh crap, bad luck placement, wipe almost every week before killing it.

      Flex seems like it could be fin, depending on how they balance it and how easy it is. If they make it easy enough to "average" players. Kind of like DS with the 30% or ICC with the 30% sort of difficulty, then I think it will be good.