As you probably know, I think Vanilla WoW was awesome and BC was shit with no redeeming value. Okay, time for looking back and comparing with WotLK.
WotLK has a terrible heroic system, a terrible badge system. BC was... well just flat out better.
Back in BC I got this great welfare axe. It was comparable to some tier that I was nowhere near. I was proud to have that thing. I felt like I'd earned it. I felt like it was an accomplishment. I was proud to have it.
Nothing in WotLK has come close. There has been no badge item that made me think "I earned this." It's all just... grind. grind grind grind. Finally the grind is over! Okay next item grind.
Oh but this is a special case! It's a weapon. For a melee, or really anyone, those are special. I agree. This is a special case. Weapons just feel bigger. They're visible, they have the highest stats, highest effect on DPS. You can pull it out and beat the crap out of someone with it. Armor can't do that.
Why doesn't WotLK have any badge weapons? Sorry, emblem weapons. Why not? I recall they gave some explanation, but I forgot it. It was probably something boring and not particularly convincing, more or less "lol badges r 4 nubz u get no weapon". Yes, GC does type like that. You just saw it! Direct quote.
Weapons are too important to be left on the RNG.
The spaces in between
How many tier pieces did you buy with badges? Trick question? Maybe. Okay yes thank you, zero! What did you buy? Non-set gear. Trinkets, rings, poorly itemized armor. Why would anyone want that shit? Because the RNG hates us. Badges filled gaps. Sometimes we did make our entire sets from them (woo, welfare badges and non-rated PvP gear!), but they were clearly inferior. It was clear that badges were not the end-all of gear. Not even part of the end-all. That's right, no need to farm heroics to get emblems to buy the gear for that raid token that just dropped.
This strikes me as a great idea, being able to grind a decent, though inferior, alternative if they RNG is being cruel. Or to build up to a strong level outside of raiding. But not the top. Yes, I am ignoring the upgrade available from raid tokens, since those are bumping up the already-existing set, not outright making the set. The raid was independent and superior to the badge.
Diminishing Returns on Easy
LK heroics are almost entirely trivial, even without being overgeared. Only HoR challenges people much, though the higher tuning of the ICC heroics in general makes them a bit less trivial. What fights have really been hard?
Can you think of any fights that compare to the ogre in Shattered Halls? Or Shadow Labyrinth? I will concede that that was the least labyrinthine labyrinth ever, but still, fun boss. Ironically he got harder with better gear as the DPS started to two-shot the healer. Fun times. The last boss of Arcatraz was perhaps too 'hard', since without a backup healer a back-to-back stun could be a wipe. Remember how Mechanar was so easy? How about the boss with the three fire elementals? Not so easy! Oh, and then there's the last boss of Mana Tombs.
This was the brilliance of it. Oh yes, people often skipped the harder heroics. That's fine by me. If you wanted a dozen emblems in a day, you did the few really easy heroics and waited to the next day. If you wanted more you had to take on some challenges.
There were more clear limits on badge farming. Sure, I did once do practically every heroic in a day and got a ton of badges, but that's rare. I had to run the hard places, like Arcatraz, SL, and SH for those. It took some time too. Now I could get the equivalent from half the time running trivial randoms, likely getting the same easy place more than once. Not only is that easier, it's also more repetitive. Doing a heroic 7 times in a week is repetitive enough, 7 times in a day is just excessive. Honestly, my limit is more like 4 times in a day, but I think that's because I got so disgusted that I stopped. Emblems are effectively unlimited, just based on throwing in more time. Badges were more limited and harder as you went for more in a day. This helped somewhat to control inflation, and made badge costs mean something. Remember that weapon I loved so much? It was expensive!
There's not much about BC that I look back on and think "that was a great idea", but I have to admit, it handled badges and heroics much better. Players shouldn't be so afraid of challenges, and part of curing that fear is making us directly confront them.