Skill > gear is the usual construction of the argument I see. With the horde guild’s renewed interest in raiding some few weeks since Cataclysm arrived, naturally there must be some explanation for the miserable failures last week. And no one likes to think of themselves as unskilled at this game. Makes one feel a bit moronic. Deflates the ego. So I can say with some certainty that I am not skilled at the new raid encounters.
Skill at one’s class in general doesn’t necessarily translate into skill at a particular encounter. Especially when said encounter is part of a brand new dungeon one’s never seen, or even read about, or watched some video for it. This is where we found ourselves last week; and this is where I expect the guild will find itself for some time. So, I took the plunge and declined the scheduled raid times for this week.
The game is hardly lacking for things to do. And I see little value in racking up repair bills in the name of ‘learning the fight.’ I can build my characters more productively spending those three hours running random dungeons instead. Freaking Archaeology would be time better spent.
Some time ago, in the Lich King era, I read about the Greedy Goblin’s Undergeared project with interest. This was when blue gear meant not using the myriad ways to acquire easy epics in the WotLK era; epics mean…a little more now than they used to, but we’ll see how long that lasts. But in blue gear, they took on and beat a bunch of Icecrown Citadel bosses, the ‘new’ heroics like Halls of Reflection; they raided Naxxramas, Ulduar, just about every raid encounter in WotLK that I could tell.
In Naxx, his theory was that Naxx 10 rewarded item level 200 epics, and thus was for people who wanted/needed that…meaning they were wearing blue gear.
The Undergeared project was the stuff of comedy for quite awhile. In the era of ‘welfare epics’ raining from the sky, heroic dungeon speed runs, and ICC pity buffs, it was profoundly amusing to me to participate in raids that could not down bosses while the Undergeared folks in their blue gear could get it done.
But they had skill. Lacking the crutch of epics out the wazoo, their raid composition had to be flawless. They had to make no mistakes. They had to devise new and innovative ways to use their relatively nerfed toons to optimum effect. Skill > gear …when you have the skill. And right now, we clearly lack gear! So where does that leave us?
Blackwing Descent appears to drop item level 359 epics, meaning it’s theoretically designed to challenge raiders who want that. Data from Wowhead seems to suggest that raiders will graduate from ilvl 346 heroic blues to ilvl 359 epics, with ilvl 372 versions available from the heroic or ‘hard mode’ raids.
I’m not counting the PvP rewards; I don’t think we’re expected to do that as raid prep. I should count the ilvl 359 epics that we can acquire with valor points from running daily heroics, it’ll take awhile but it is sort of a bridge. There’s also some crafted epics out there.
So the progression may rightly be seen as 85 normal dungeon pieces -> 85 heroic dungeon pieces -> valor point purchases/crafted epics/Blackwing Descent drops. Yet the horde guild waltzes in there with whoever will go, in whatever gear they have on, and expects to learn the fight and win.
My death knight’s DPS gear is close to optimal. Not all there yet, but close. I was asked to tank instead, because of course no other tanks are supported in any way, they’re just expected to grow on trees I guess. Likewise for everyone else. They just assume that everyone who signs up to raid is just as hardcore as, say, the resident MT.
I’ve climbed the hardcore mountain, and I know I don’t have it in me to keep doing that. I did it, and I know I could do it, and that’s enough for me. I wish I knew who these guys in the horde guild think they’re kidding. It’s not a hardcore guild. But the few people who are…and there’s always a few…cannot avoid this trap. Expecting everyone else to be up to their standard. And they’re not.
It is a social failing, I suppose, to talk of gear and skill as if, well, everyone is skilled, it’s just bad luck. Just have to learn the fight and it’ll be ok. Mind you, ‘learning the fight’ is a euphemism for gaining skill. Some time down the line, I am sure we will actually beat these encounters. And I am just as sure that nobody will associate those wins with better gear. In the abstract they can talk skill all day! But up close and personal, it is rarely said.
In the hardcore guild I was in some time ago, of course…that is exactly what was said. As good old Kologarn used to say back in Ulduar, YOU FAIL!