Monday, March 15, 2010

The Plight of the Gear Score Reject

We have a lot of temps in my office. They come and go in cycles, many of them returning for multiple contracts with us. One of them is a WoW player, and I hadn't seen him in a few months, but he came back today.

He's in much the same position as my feral druid, in that he's on a server largely by himself with no support. The first thing he said to me after the pleasantries was, "I want to kill whoever came up with Gear Score."

My initial thought was perhaps he was undergeared, because I knew he was a non-raiding casual player, more of a once or twice a week person rather than the daily sort, but he rang up 4900 on the Gear Score mod. That pretty much means he's exhausted every piece of triumph gear he could possibly buy. My feral was 4900 even while wearing a piece of T10. The dude's geared for ICC 10. The problem was, no one would take him.

One issue is that he's a rogue. Properly geared tanks and healers can get spots because the dps need them, but when the 5.9k gs rogue is barking in trade about how he needs a non-fail ICC 10 pug, who are you going to bring? The 4.9k or the 5.9k? It's not that he lacks the gear. It's that people would rather take someone who already knows the fights and probably can carry the rest of the raid.

I admit I kind of laughed the matter off to our temp, not to be mean, but because I didn't think he should be so glum about it. Where there's a will there's a way. I told him about my feral, who has been to ICC 10/25 three times now despite barely breaking the 5k mark.

He has a couple options available to him. One is to gear up through ToC/Onyxia 25 pugs. Sometimes people ask for gear scores for those, but not always. The first and only time my feral cleared ToC 25 was with a pug that didn't ask for gear score or an achievement. (Oddly enough, the pugs that did, failed.)

Why was that pug good? I went on a run where a trinket was reserved. It was a bunch of raiders from an established raid guild running a pug to help their friend. Check the guild tag of the person who's running the pug when it's a reserve run. If it's a good raiding guild, there are probably several guildies going along to help out.

The other option is to get gold, a lot of it. ICC BoEs can be found in the AH and there are several nice crafted pieces from ToC and ICC. One of my guildies has an alt with 5200 gear score and has never done ToC 25 or set foot in ICC past a rep farming run.

In addition to that, GDKP runs are cropping up on a lot of servers these days. Money talks. I'm sure the raid leader of the GDKP run I went on last Friday was quite happy to see me and the other feral druid bidding up to 11,000 gold on [Distant Land] (other druid won, I capped out at 10k). My gear's borderline for ICC 25 and I was bottom of the dps meter, but as a person with a pocketbook the GDKP leader wants me to come. Even if I didn't win, my bidding fueled the other druid's bidding, and in turn led to a larger pot for the raid as a whole.

What I told our temp is to find a way to work the system. I hear people whining in trade about gear score and proof of achievements and I agree it's unfortunate, but pugs aren't looking to give other people a chance. They either take an extra body because it doesn't matter how bad they are as long as they aren't afk and don't wipe the raid (my guild has done this on occasion for raid weeklies) or they look for the person who will give them the best chance for success (or maybe just a reasonable chance, if they've been waiting a while or are impatient).

So what he needs to do is give them a reason to bring him.

The very first ToC 25 I went on with my feral I told the raid leader my gear score, which wasn't that good, but I also told him point blank that I knew all the fights, could follow instructions, and that I would not die in a fire (and I didn't). I got the invite.

I don't think that works for every situation, but it helps to point out why a raid leader should take me over some other pugger and, depending on what the raid leader thinks of their current raid setup, allows them to make an educated decision. It turns out that ToC 25 pug couldn't get past Faction Champs, and struggled with Jaraxxus, so my ability to not stand in fires was actually better than quite a few other people in the raid.

As a rogue, our temp could possibly tout his ability on interrupts (because there are a lot of fail rogues who don't), as well as following instructions and not dying in fires. He could conceivably sweeten the deal by offering gold if he "fails" so the raid leader knows he's serious. (Since he hasn't raided ICC he can't tout his knowledge of the fights, which is admittedly one advantage I have on my feral, since my main is farther in ICC than the GDKP runs I've been on.)

Then when he's lucky enough to get in a raid (either by convincing the raid leader or offering cash), he needs to not muck up. It can take a few runs to get any gear, just because of the luck of the drops, so the most important thing is to not be the dead weight that prevents the raid from getting those crucial achievements. My feral might have been the worst dps in her last ICC 25 GDKP run, but her dps is fine for her gear and she was not horribly behind the next two or three people. She's not dying in fire, ignoring calls to innervate or battle rez. She's not the idiot who can't follow instructions about where to take the slimes on Rotface. She doesn't get herself prematurely killed.

Sure, she's being carried, it was a GDKP run, but she wasn't making the job of the carriers harder than it had to be. There hasn't where a wipe where someone could say, "Oh, that's because Darkker screwed up."

I finally went on an ICC 10 with my feral the other night, after having linked my achievements showing my 25-man Rotface, Festergut, and Blood Prince kills. I told the raid leader I hadn't done 10-man before though, so he wouldn’t be surprised when the achievements rang up.

It was a so-so raid, only clearing the Lower Spire, but considering I've had fail ToC 10s that didn't make it past Northrend Beasts, I guess it wasn't so bad. And the fact I got to go at all was largely due to the achievements I'd earned from the 25-man GDKP run.

Where there's a will there's a way, even on a server dominated by gear score lovers.

And there is something of a final option for someone who wants to put a boot through gear score and pretend it doesn't exist, and that's scouting out another, less progressed server that doesn't care. On Skywall, where my main is, you will never see a pug raid forming with the request for your gear score. In fact, I have my gear score add-on turned off on Skywall. If I have to fill an open spot in a raid I care more about what a person has done rather than the ilevel of their purples.

We're not as progressed over here and I'm sure anyone with 4-piece T9 would be welcome in an ICC10 pug. The pug might not get as far as others on other servers, but the 80 that's completely run out of triumph upgrades will get to go. Particularly on Skywall, because we're more casual focused, there are more people with ICC item levels who aren't nearly as progressed as my 10-man guild, so the value of the gear score add-on (in relation to expected performance) is much reduced.

But it's a trade off, ICC 25 pugs are crazy rare, ToC 25 a little less so. When the best raid guild on the server hosts a GDKP run it's ToC 25 rather than ICC 25. Raids on Skywall are more likely to give newbies a chance because the expectations of a pug's progression aren't as high.

I hesitate to say that Skywall's totally in the sticks for raiding, because it's not, there are servers behind us as well, but we've always been one of the more casual servers (even our top raid guild doesn't raid more than three nights a week) so it's more forgiving to the casual player because of it.

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