Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Is Gearing a Solved Problem?

In reading all the discussion about Azerite gear, a thought occurred to me: is gearing in WoW a solved problem?

It feels like in Legion and BfA, Blizzard thought gearing up was a little too bland, and sought to "spice" it up a little. And then the playerbase gets upset with the mechanisms like Legendaries and Azerite gear which add the spice.

So is the following gear situation ideal:
  • Has Str, Int, and Agi, so they're useful for multiple specializations
  • Armor has plate, mail, leather, cloth types
  • About four secondary stats
  • One or two secondaries are clearly best for a given specialization, but the others aren't far behind
  • 15 ilvls per raid tier
  • 5 ilvls per mythic dungeon level
  • Warforging and titanforging
  • Sockets and tertiary stats are randomly gained
  • Neck and trinkets don't have a primary stat, just secondaries
  • Weapons and trinkets are role-specific
That's pretty much the baseline Legion and BfA gear system. 

It's a pretty solid core. You can use most of your armour for alternate specializations. You just need a weapon and trinkets. But if you're truly hardcore, you have to have correct secondaries, so you'll maintain a second full or partial set.

There are different axes of competition. For example, a Holy Paladin competes with other plate-wearers for armor; with other critical strike users for jewellery; and with other healers for trinkets and weapons.

Warforging adds some randomness and doesn't make weaker content a total waste of time. Determining if an item is better is not strictly ilvl, but mostly ilvl + correct secondaries. This gives you some gear to chase, but doesn't make replacing gear a trivial decision. A simple heuristic like "go with higher ilvl if the increase is 15 or more ilvls, otherwise pick the better secondaries" will give you good enough results. But people can always use stat weight addons like Pawn or sim their character if they really want to.


The one thing this system is missing is a replacement for class sets. Some sort of collectible that players chase. But class sets don't really work well with the rest of the system. Getting a new titanforged piece and having to choose between it and your 4-piece bonus is annoying.

Perhaps something like guarantee that the major armor pieces (head, shoulders, body, legs) have a gem socket. Then the bosses drop "class trophies" which can go into sockets. Then the trophies, which are all unique-equipped, have the set bonuses. You can use regular gems until you get the class trophies you need. 

(I feel like I'm describing a system I've seen before, but I don't remember where. Maybe Diablo 3 legendary gems? Or the set bonus system used in Rift?)

The one problem with this is replacing gear with trophies when you don't have another copy.  Perhaps the trophy follows the Heirloom model, where getting one unlocks the ability to make more soulbound copies.

End Tangent

In any case, maybe the core gear system of Legion and BfA is strong enough, and doesn't need improvements. Perhaps Blizzard should treat it as a "solved problem" and put their design efforts into non-gear systems.


  1. Right now, I'm carrying 3 different sets of Azerite gears because I actually play all 3 specs of my Paladin. I have to carry a seperate Motherload!! parts farming set (engineering goggle) to farm the robots parts for the mount. I really wish Azerite gears can be spec switchable.

    1. Well, you could always just take the general talent. That's what I do when levelling. I just use general talents, so I can switch specs freely.

  2. While I also would prefer that azurite gear would spec swap(to make it easier to get bis traits), the 'oh no, 'm carrying different sets'-argument never really worked for me. But I also always build full sets for my offspecs because of secondaries, and am used to this since I started playing before stat swapping and am used to having completely different spec gear.

    1. Yeah, I'm fine with multiple sets as well. But perhaps it was a bit too much for the people who just carried a single set.

      Perhaps it's role-specific. Like maybe the tanks and healers always carried different gear for different roles, but the DPS got in the habit of not needing to do so. This is especially true for things like trinkets.

  3. I think there was a big problem with set boni when the set bonus from the next raid tier was "weaker" than the bonus from previous tier, causing big outcry in the community and unnecessary rerolls to more "fortunate" classes.

    In addition, set bonuses caused disparity between raid and mythic+ gear, making later less desirable.

    1. Yeah, sadly, armor set bonuses don't really work with the modern game anymore.

      But collecting armor for the set bonus was fun, and would nice to have back in some form. There's collecting sets for transmog, but it isn't quite the same.