When do we learn that gear is for certain roles?

| Monday, January 4, 2010
A few days ago I happened to inspect another paladin in Orgrimmar and noticed that her gear was... odd. It was a mix of holy, ret, and prot gear. If you check my armory I might be wearing a prot chest and PvP boots and trinket in what is otherwise a decent ret DPS set, so I would seem to be a hypocrite for seeming critical of the person in Orgrimmar. Maybe I am! But there is one thing which I think stands out: enchants and gems. I am clearly wearing a tanking chest and PvP boots and they are gemmed and enchanted as such, so presumably I know they they don't belong. The paladin I ran into had the LW AP 'enchant' on her wrists, which were holy wrists.

This seems pretty stupid, right? Perhaps. But I try to avoid quickly dismissing people as stupid. Instead I believe the person in question may have not had the idea that gear is designed for certain roles. That sounds obvious, but is it really? The holy bracers had crit, SP, and intellect on them along with stamina which doesn't really differentiate anything one way or another since it's on everything. The crit, since it was unified with the introduction of 3.0 (or was it 2.0?) is definitely useful for DPS. Spell power is a weak stat, but someone could honestly and accurately claim that is is a beneficial stat, since many of our DPS abilities do scale with spell power. We even have a talent to increase it, so it's not so ridiculous to assume that spell power is a good ret stat.

Experienced players automatically do a lot of meta-gaming, trying to figure out what the devs intend, so as to gain an advantage. To us it seems perfectly logical that the devs would break gear into five different categories: DPS, tanking, healing, PvP, and cosmetic. So of course we'd see spell power and put it into casting: DPS or healing, and then judge that since they are plate they would be intended for paladin/warrior/DK, see that none of caster DPS trees, and reach the logical conclusion that they are for holy paladins: healing.

Imagine if you didn't break gear into those categories automatically but instead were shown gear and asked to determine if it is an upgrade. That would be a much more difficult task because you must evaluate a much larger pool of gear rather than being able to automatically throw away two-thirds of the possibilities. As with so many automatic human processes, these save time but not perfect; they are effectively a variation of stereotyping and can cause upgrades to escape us because they're not supposed to be DPS gear.

Oh there I went rambling on and on... When did you start calling some items healing gear and other items DPS gear and still others DPS? Did someone tell you one day when you rolled need on the wrong type of gear or did you figure it out on your own? Perhaps there was some guide which explained it? I've never seen such thing, but I don't see why it wouldn't exist. Perhaps it should if it doesn't!


jeffo said...

There was no 'aha!' moment for me, it was the sort of knowledge that just sort of seems to creep in over time until you just 'know' it, and it seems like you've always known it.

As for that Paladin -- I know when the pre-Wrath shake-up occurred with it's AP/SP scaling, I spent a great deal of time trying to juggle gear to take advantage of both to eke out any extra bit of dps for questing (pre-dual spec and I was Holy and not changing for nothing!). There's a certain logic in what this Pally was doing, but I suspect they'll eventually learn what I learned fairly quickly: I did more damage in my straight up Holy set than trying to throw in some AP bits here and there. She'll probably find herself vote-kicked out of groups pretty quickly in that kind of set-up.

Dwism said...

Having spend a lot of my free time lately teaching my 10 yr old cousin how to play WoW, and teaching my 83 yr old grandma' how to use a pc, I can tell you with some certainty that your examples are just the very very tip of an humungus iceberg.

I think diablo taught me my most basics of gear choosings, however there where a lot of stuff I learned in that game that still is a huge disadvantage for me in wow. But those things are a thing of many vanilla mistakes :)

Dorgol said...

I have a friend leveling a hunter (go fig) with me. Trying to discuss gear choices was bad enough when we were just 2-manning stuff. Now I'm trying to keep him clear on what gear he should be looking for AND the social dynamics of the LFG tool.

He at least is on the right track of focusing on Agility. :)

G-Rebel said...

@ jeffo: Your first paragraph is me 100%.

Like Dorgol also said, understanding the social aspects of LFG is just as important as gear/gem/enchant priority. To quote Agent K from MiB, "A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it".

While you or I may be willing to listen for 30 sec to a person giving a well thought explanation of his gear/enchant selections, put us in a group and generally we'll follow the most callous opinion of "let's vote-kick the noob" for fear of getting kicked ourselves, or some other phychological reason Klep can teach us about.

Shintar said...

I started playing with a friend who had already been playing WoW for a while before me, and he told me that I should go for int and spirit as a priest. I don't think I would have had a clue otherwise, seeing how this is not something that gets explained in the game much. (Yes, there are tooltips, but eh...) Later on I learned to look at help sites. It must be particularly hard for classes that had their stats completely revamped, like how all paladins used to like spell power in BC, then rets were converted to strength, and then prots with WOTLK too... if you're not the kind of player who reads a lot, it's hard to stay on top of these things - just another reason to be grateful for the stat simplifications coming in Cataclysm.

Klepsacovic said...

@jeffo: I know what you mean; it's hard to remember being a complete noob. And yet I know I was.

If she's lucky no one will notice. If she's really lucky, someone nice will notice. She logged while I was inspecting, so I'm off the hook on that. :)

@Dw-redux: I played KotoR, somehow didn't learn much from that. Maybe I was too mindless. OMG LIGHTSABERS!!!!

@Dorgol: Sounds like you're a good friend.

@G-Rebel: Failure is frightening. I tend to ask people about their specs if they are really strange and then explain if they give a terrible answer such as "I dunno" or "they looked pretty."

@Shintar: Ah, paladin stat changes, such a mess.

Hana said...

I think my noobness lasted until the late 50s, maybe until I was 60, back in vanilla WoW. I had this notion that since I was a druid all stats were good for me (though because I died a lot I had a soft spot for agility because it also improved my armor) so I picked upgrades based on the total overall stat increase they gave me.

Few items had spellpower or attack power in vanilla WoW unless you raided so I didn't really know or understand anything about them. I didn't get into meta-gaming until TBC because I wanted to do this raiding thing that I'd never done in vanilla.

Klepsacovic said...

@Hana: Well if you kept shifting out of kitty to spam moonfire, you'd definitely need a lot of agility of kitty and intellect for your rapidly-drained mana pool.

As I recall, SP wasn't very popular before raiding. Mana pools and regen were so low, that it was thought to be better to increase mana and be able to cast more than to try to make spells marginally more powerful. How things have changed! Oh wait... we still stack int, at least paladins do.

Green Armadillo said...

There is an inherent assumption that anyone who is serious enough about the game to care will read third party sites, or at least hear from someone who does. Take the hit cap, for instance, which is not documented in the game in any way whatsoever, but which the crab defends as an interesting choice in gear optimization.

Tam said...

You know, I have no idea - I can only presume it must be some sort of weird ritualistic in-game osmosis. Actually I hit precisely this issue myself when I was levelling my tree-druid. I was trying to pick a quest reward (and this was in Northrend so itemisation was at issue) and I suddenly realised I had no idea what I should be prioritising... I guess I just haven't been paying as much attention to the theorycrafting on druid blogs as priest blogs but I was genuinely thrown and floundering. I mean, I'm an experienced WoW player, right, I should *KNOW* this inherently =P

Klepsacovic said...

@Green Armadillo: It's less strange of an assumption now that target dummies make it easier to test.

@Tam: Heh, I've experienced that too.

Anonymous said...

I try and assume that various classes know what a particular stat would be useful for. - My hunter took a ring with expertise because every other stat was useful on it ( and yeah for no strength!) it wasn't questioned, but still I was ready to justify why - I'm not sure if there is a class by class cheat sheet beyond EJ or forums like Shadowpriest.com that give weightings to stats for roles, and the evolution of those stat weightings eg look at shadow priests change to haste ratings, and even apparently back in the day sp was good for hunters arcane shot, and was even on their tier gear. How laughable is that? So I guess its not just understanding the best stats for roles is, but what it is right now and depending on what you read - when its undertandable why somepeople get confused, and why some hunters still have sp gear!

Klepsacovic said...

@pugnaciouspriest: Bah, hunters! I've played shamans and paladins through so many stat changes... and my warlock, I was so confused when suddenly spirit became useful. I remember in vanilla some random person called me a ninja because I had a staff with spirit on it. How times change, and yet stay the same.

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