With all the bad things people can say about warlords it is very easy to forgot about some of things that the expansion did well. You can complain about no dailies, no reason to do dungeons after release which valor and it associated gear could have cured early on, no flight at release, ashran not living up to what some people expected and I could go on and on with more, very reasonable, complaints we have heard. Because of things like those ones I mentioned it is a fairly safe assumption warlords is near the bottom of more than a fair amount of peoples lists, but that does not mean that warlords did not do a few things right.
In the second of a series of posts addressing the things they did right,
and only those things, I want to take a look at the crafted gear,
which in my opinion, was done pretty well this expansion.
Warlords did crafted gear well, not perfect, but very well.
There are a few things I can still pick at with the crafted gear that I did not like such as the limit three, but seeing how high the item level was (lower heroic level at the end) it is understandable why they had to have some limit, and the random secondary stats. This expansion way over used random as content for its design and not even the well designed crafted gear this expansion escaped that error in creative judgement.
But putting the questionable decisions to the side crafted gear did something this expansion that it had never been able to do before, and that was they became a viable way to get at least a few piece of gear for everyone throughout the entire expansion. That is something I consider huge. I major plus in the design of crafted gear.
So where did they go right in my opinion? Lets start at the beginning.
The crafted gear was a high item level to start and it could be perfect starter gear once you hit 100, or even better, perfect leveling gear as it could be equip at level 91. It made it so that way even the base items always had value throughout the entire expansion. Whether it was get a few decent pieces right off the bat once you hit 100, or to throw a few, over powered for the level, pieces on your alt while leveling thanks to the very low and extremely generous level 91 requirement.
As I mentioned I did not like the randomized stats, however I did like the fact there was an item to reorganize the stats. It could have been done better, it could have been less random, but at least it was there. Something that we have to give some credit to the people who designed the crafted gear for adding.
So we had decent level gear we would upgrade, we had stats we could customize, and we could actually equip these items at a level low level to enjoy the power they gave up while leveling. All this sounds great, but it was only the start of what made crafting gear so good this expansion.
What made it all the better was that the key ingredient for the patterns, Savage Blood, was attainable by everyone and it was not soulbound. It was unlike anything we had ever seen before. It was not like Primordial Saronite from Wrath that was attained predominantly from raids as an rare drop. It was not like Chaos Orbs that were BoP and rolled on by every crafter to share in Cataclysm. It was not like Haunting Spirits that required disenchanting raid gear in Mists to get or like the motes that were random world drops and could not be traded at the start of Mists as well.
What made the key ingredient, Savage Blood, so great this expansion was it was something simple that everyone, even a non raider could get and it was not bound to you so your main could collect them and send them over to your crafting alts. So you could farm them to sell or have all your alts working on them so your crafter could make gear for your main. I think this was one of the best changes that could happen to the way crafted gear was made, making the key ingredient so accessible.
So no matter if you were a raider or not, a main or an alt, a powerful player or a weak one that needed to group up, no matter what, you could get savage blood to make your gear and that was awesome for everyone. And it did not stop with savage blood. Even as new gear levels came out the new key ingredient of Felblight, while it might have given a small edge to people with gathering professions, it too could be attained by anyone just by joining in on a fight with the world boss, leaving the idea that the key ingredient for crafted gear was something everyone could get if they just put in a little effort of going out to get it.
Speaking of new levels of gear comes the #1 reason why I think crafted gear was done so well this expansion.
One of my largest complaints with blizzards designers over the years was that everything they make seems to come from a mindset of "this is the last patch we will ever release". They do not make anything thinking about how will this work next expansion or even next patch. They make things with no concept of "how will this work in the future" and I have often criticized that, rightfully so I believe. While it remains true that they still seem to run the game mostly in that "pay no mind" to the future design philosophy, the people who designed the crafted gear apparently wanted nothing to do with that and it was designed to last not one raid, not two raids, but the entire expansion long.
What is even better was that as the upgrades went along, the older upgrades decreased in the number of materials needed to make them. Once again showing spectacular forethought in the development of crafted gear that would last an entire expansion and great execution in carrying it out.
The idea that the patterns we got for the first craftable gear items we made was still good at the end of the expansion is something we have never seen in the history of the game. Usually the first time a new patch comes out everything before that patch becomes useless and I think crafting gear this expansion showed that you can do things differently and it can work well.
Sure making a piece of gear all the way to max level at the end of the expansion took a lot of materials, but the materials were all within grasp of every single player and the key ingredients were capable of being traded on the auction house if you needed more.
I liked crafted gear, even with the few shortcomings that they had, because they lasted the entire expansion, because they seemed to be well thought out and because they were one of the things that warlords did right and I would love to see them keep this design philosophy in future expansion and maybe we can remember it as "the one good thing" that came from warlords.