Someone mentioned something in passing in one of the comments from the other day that got me to thinking. I know, it can be dangerous to do that. He mentioned about having issues on one of the bosses because of under geared tanks and the first thing that popped into my mind is that they were not under geared, they were probably appropriately geared, item level wise at least.
The issue could have very well been they were wearing the wrong type of gear or they were sitting at that exact number or maybe, like most people you see in the LFR, they were ungemmed and enchanted. Now add all that together with the possibility that they are less skilled at their class than someone else that raids more often and has better gear and you have a tank that will get squished easily and be a drain on healer mana and most likely be the cause of a wipe.
So who is really to blame here?
Is it the tank for coming it at the 496 item level blizzard suggests?
I do not believe that to be true. If blizzard said 496 is required and they reach the 496 item level they have every single right to be in there just as much as the tank with the 560 item level. Sure, the 560 tank will be sitting a 1M hit points where the 496 tank might be closer to half that. But is it the tanks fault? Absolutely not, it is blizzard fault for setting the bar too low for the content.
Is it the tank for not being very skilled at his/her class?
I do not believe this to be true either. This is LFR, the skill level required to do it is lower and should be lower. It is meant, as least I believe, for people that want to raid but are not actually what most would consider raiders or for raiders that have no other options because of time reasons. So of course the skill level of said tank will usually be lower.
The tank could very well be in the learning process just as he/her character is in the gearing process and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. As I love to say when I take new people with me on a raid, everyone needs to learn somewhere. LFR should be the place where they learn even if it is not really all that good for that. It can still be a place to practice your craft be it tanking or healing or damage dealing. Maybe the content is just a little too hard for those up and coming tanks that have not yet learned how to use their cooldowns for the best mitigation.
Is it the tank for not being gemmed, enchanted and reforged?
Once more I do not believe that to be true. Blizzard implemented an item level check and that is it. There is no gem check, no enchant check, no reforge check, and there never should be one in my opinion. Basically it means that gems, enchants, etc, should not be required for the LFR being there is no check for them. This is LFR, not organized raiding, there is no need for every little bit of gear to be optimized for maximum potential to do it, or at least there shouldn't be.
I think there is a minor error in blizzards design because they assume that everyone will be all decked out when the fact is they will not. Even myself, who I would like to think of as a person that tries, will not bother gemming, or enchanting anything under item level 522 at the moment. So if I were in all 496 gear, even as a person that normally tries, I would be ungemmed and unenchanted as well.
Is it the tank for not having glyphs, flask, potions and food?
Lets go with the I do not believe that to be true line again. Starting to sound like a broken record aren't I? The fact is, just like I already said, there is an item level check and that is all there is. So none of this stuff should be needed as it is not in any way, shape or form required to reach the 496 item level and surely not to do the content at hand.
Is it the tank for not having the appropriate gear?
I can flip a coin on this one, maybe, maybe not, but over all lets stick with the company line, I do not believe that to be true. 496 is a low number, a very low number when talking about current gear, so anyone in that range is surely still in what could be refereed to as the gearing up process. Most people, either logically or illogically, will take almost anything that is useful, even if it is not perfect, when gearing up.
A tank taking a wrist with haste and mastery even if someone thinks that is a DPS piece, is not really a bad thing. Sure, they might, just might, be better off with a tanking item, but as long as that is plate and they are a plate wearer, go for it. When you reach current level (as in current item level gear) you should have the appropriate gear for your class and spec but when gearing up and at a dreadfully low 496 item level, take what you can get and I would not blame you for it.
So what does our make believe tank look like now?
Lets call him a warrior named Bobslam and gear him up with a 437 weapon he got while questing in the dread wastes. We will give him a blue 442 shield he purchased off the auction house for a steal of 800 gold. We will then fill out his gear with the assortment of timeless island 496 gear. Most of that gear will only have one stat on it which is par for the course. Two of those pieces, lets say waist and legs, he used a burden on. One he got from the chest that guarantees you one and the other he got lucky with and it dropped off evermaw. He also managed to get two 496 trinkets. How you might ask being there is only one type of trinket for each role but that has a simple answer. He is using one tank trinket and one damage dealer trinket. Just take a look around your next LFR and you will find at least one or two people in every group that are capable of having two different types of trinkets that actually have them both 496 ones on.
Now lets give you a little history about Bobslam the warrior. This is his first max level character. He is not a horrible player but not a good one either. He has never played at max level but he knows enough that this gear is not that great and the price for gems and enchants is just insane and he doesn't have a great deal of gold. He has all intentions of gemming and enchanting, just not something he is hoping to replace really soon, like the stuff he is wearing now.
He knew enough to download some addons like the one that showed him where all the chests on the timeless island were. He also downloaded a threat plate addon and even downloaded deadly boss mobs, all of which immediately places him above many people you will find in the LFR. He even spent some time on icy veins and noxxic to get an idea how to play his class, even if he never once tried to tank before. This too places him well above most of the people you will see in the LFR.
So at his 496 item level, ungemmed, unenchanted, not reforged, with no flask, no potions, no food and absolutely no experience tanking, ever, he sees the lure of instant queue vs that of 45 minutes to an hour and decides he would rather spend his time playing instead of his time waiting to play and he joins the SoO LFR as a tank. Can we really blame him?
Now I ask you, who's fault is that?
He met all the requirements, he even went above and beyond by reading up on his class, even if he has never practiced it, and has a boss mod addon which is worth its weight in gold. Now I have to ask you, is he really an under geared tank or is he the exact person that is supposed to be there in the SoO LFR tanking?
I do not believe that the 496 item level is in tune with the difficulty of the content. Sure, you or I might look at the SoO version of the raid as a joke, as face roll, as a loot dispenser, but for Bobslam and many like him this is their end game raiding and they are stepping into it under geared because the game says it is designed for them to be able to do it under geared.
One thing blizzard does not seem to grasp is that they can not only design it for the item level, they need to design it for the people that will come in at that item level.
The people that would gem, enchant, know their class and how to play it, be ready, read strategy, do all the right things so to speak, are not at a 496 item level. The people at a 496 item level are alts, part timers, new players, people without much time or resources, people like Bobslam.
So if they are going to design for a 496 item level they need to design it with the idea that the 496 gear is not gemmed, not reforged, not enchanted, and the person will come with no glyphs, no flasks, no potions and quite possibly no skill what so ever at the role they are attempting to play.
Is the content fine for a "good" player in 496 gear? Absolutely. A person that knows how to play their class well and has it all decked out and knows the fights will stomp all over it in 496 gear. LFR people are not those people. 496 is WAY to low of an item level requirement if that is going to be the only line you ask people to cross to get into it.
Lets give poor Bobslam a break and stop picking on him. It is not his fault he is woefully under geared and not ready for SoO, it is blizzard fault for letting him come into it like that. As I said, he is not under geared, he is just new and everyone needs to learn somewhere, the content is just not meant for him, even if blizzard likes to play pretend like it is.
I'll end this with linking something else many people might find surprising and then throw you something interesting to chew on as far as potential for a 496 item level.
Take a look at the DPS ranking for a 496 item level player, in the best itemized 496 gear, at absolute perfection on a patchwork fight at noxxic. The best of the best at absolute perfection would be 133K and the worst at absolute perfection would be 95K. Lets call that an average of 114K, which seems close to accurate. And that is at absolute perfection. Who here has ever been at the level of perfection? Not me. So 114K is completely an unreasonable expectation of a damage dealer in LFR if they are at the item level required to enter it. Can you just imagine how hard some fights would be if everyone were under 114K? Impossible. And remember, that 114K is absolute perfection at a 496 item level. Think about that for a minute and consider it.
Now remember, if you have read here, what I always say about damage dealers and numbers. If you can pull within 80% of your theoretical maximum DPS you are doing well. So that would lower that number to 91K DPS is "good" in 496 gear, in my opinion.
Now lets subtract gems and enchants and people being reforged correctly with the right glyphs and a flask and food. I do not know the exact numbers but I recall reading that all that could be worth upwards of 20% of your output for a damage dealer, I also recall reading 30% somewhere, but I will use the lower number and deduct another 20%, or 23K, from our original maximum potential. So now we are looking at 68K.
That 68K is now in the unfinished format with no gems and such but it is still assuming someone is a "good" player and doing 80% of the maximum potential. Now I don't want to call most of the people in the LFR bad, but I can say most are not good. So lets say they can not do that 80% potential, they are more like 50% potential.
So where would that place the average LFR damage dealer in 496 gear with no gems and no enchants? 34K. Yes, 34K.
That is using that 114K best possible DPS for 496 as a marker, considering the person is performing at 50% of their maximum potential, and then deducting 23K for the lack of gems, enchants, proper reforging, glyphs and flask.
Now, with that in mind, do you think that the SoO LFR would ever get any bosses down with two 496 tanks and their extremely low health and avoidance and all the damage dealers doing around 34K with the few "good" ones doing 68K?
Lets not even talk about what a healer in 496 gear that was not decked out could handle. They would be screwed having to heal to the enrage timer ever fight and trying to keep those paper bag tanks up.
Nope, sorry blizzard, you did not design SoO for players in 496 gear. Not even close.
Perhaps that is why there are so many issues. Do you think blizzard is just assuming that there will always be a fair share of part time raiders sitting around 520-530 and full time raiders sitting between 550-570 to carry everyone? If so, that is bad design. If it requires 496, it should be designed for 496. 496 with bad gear choices, no gems, no enchants, no anything, oh, and sub par skill with all of that other stuff absent.
So my opinion, absolutely not, 496 is not appropriate for LFR. Or maybe it should be the LFR is not appropriate for 496.
So the next time we see someone in there doing 40K or a tank with only 500K health, they are not doing bad, they are the person that is supposed to be in there, blizzard just didn't design it for them. They made it the item level for those people, just not the difficulty level for those people. So we should be complaining to blizzard that they are doing 40K or only have 500K health, not to the player. They are in the right gear doing the right things.
And people wonder why I keep saying I don't think anyone at blizzard plays their own game.