In addition to spending a lot of time playing WoW, I also spend a lot of time planning to play WoW. That pretty much means that I spend a lot of time researching talent trees, abilities, gear, and strategies on various WoW-related sites (WoW forums, Curse, TankSpot, Wowhead, and the like) during maintenance or when I just need to give my brain a break or when I need a little hand getting up to speed on something. Owing to the extraordinary amount of downtime lately, I’ve been spending more time reading about WoW and less time playing it and I’ve seen some common themes and questions. I don’t think any of these people ever really expected an answer (and really, the chances of them ever seeing this one are slim, anyway), but I figured I’d answer the questions/concerns, anyway.
One of the more common concerns goes something like this: “Why can’t I get into any raids? Everyone says my gearscore is too low.” Checking the would-be-raider’s armory profile reveals (if you’re lucky) a piece or two of the 232 emblem gear and a smattering of 200 epics (at best) and they ponder why they can’t get into ToC or even ICC. This person often has decided to ‘solve’ this ‘problem’ by putting together their own raid group and not worrying about gearscore. I wish them luck and am truly sorry for the heartbreak I know is in their future, because (and I hate myself for having to defend the stupid gear nazis) gear matters. Yes, the gear nazis often go about implementing this principle in the wrong way. Whether a player is being overly ambitious or just genuinely clueless, it’s no excuse to be an asshat about it. However, the asshats do have a point.
I know what some of you are thinking by now, and yes, skill matters, too, especially at the higher end of the raiding spectrum. You’ll often hear these people pointing out that some players will vastly outperform somebody with a much higher gear score. Naturally it is entirely possible to have great gear and still suck at your class. What these people never acknowledge though is that this doesn’t exactly work both ways. Gear determines the maximum possible throughput at whatever it is you’re trying to do (threat, healing, damage). Two players with equal gear and equal buffs will have the same maximum throughput, and it is skill that determines the percentage of that maximum that gets realized. So one player might play with 99% efficiency and another might play with 85% efficiency. However, these are relative numbers and can be misleading. People get confused when differing gearscores get entered into the equation because player A’s 99% might be lower in pure dps than player B’s 85%. However, the raid doesn’t care what your efficiency is or how you get it. If you need everyone to provide 3,000 dps to beat the enrage timer, you absolutely positively must average 3k dps. It doesn’t matter if it’s 3k out of a possible 3.1k or 3k out of a possible 5k. You need 3k and no amount of talent is going to squeeze 3k dps out of 2k dps gear because no player is ever capable of playing at over 100% efficiency. It’s simply not mathematically possible. In short, the answer to this question, sadly, is all-too-often exactly what the jerks said while they laughed at you and told you to l2p: “your gearscore is too low.”
So what to do about? Well, unfortunately, you’re going to have to start small and work your way up, just like all the other big boys. If you want to run the top-tier raids, you’ll need the gear to get there. That will take time and effort. In the meantime, set your sights a little lower.
- Emblem gear is better and more available than ever before: run as many heroics for emblems as you can and keep doing it until you get the best set of gear you can get, even if you’ve assembled a raid-ready set of gear. Being “raid ready” doesn’t mean you can stop working on your gear; “ready” is just the beginning, not the goal.
- Run some of the lower-level and easier raids, like Naxx and OS, and some of the tougher heroics like the new Icecrown 5-mans and HToC. These will provide you not only with valuable emblems and gear upgrades, but also provides an all-important introduction to some of the more common mechanics you’ll run into while raiding.
- Check out the videos and strategy guides on sites like TankSpot, Wowhead, and WowWiki. This is no substitute for actual raid experience with the encounter you are facing, but it’s a major step up from flying blind.
At the end of the day what you want to do is give yourself every possible advantage not just to get into a group, but also to be successful when you do.