GearScore, minus the “Score” (part 2)

In part 1 of this series I very briefly explained how gear no longer equates to experience (and therefore skill set), while also trying to explain a slight problem in the GearScore addon.  The problem with the GS addon is that is values gear solely based on the item level of the gear, and not how the gear was acquired.

Ironically, gear acquired through the badge system undermines the whole gearing system if you’re looking for PUG raids.  In a guild scenario, this is not really a problem.

But in a PUG – gear in and of itself – holds about as much bearing as the player’s name.  And here’s why.


PUG raid leaders – by definition – are not the raid leader for a guild.  There may be an extremely  small percentage of the population that leads successful raids for their guild, and also leads PUG raids on the weekends.  Although I’ve done zero research on the subject, I can safely presume that these players are in the vast minority.  When you PUG, you’ll not be getting a typical guild raid leader.  PUG leaders typically have little to no experience leading successful raids, and certainly not when the raids are brand new.  They will usually wait until everyone is overgeared (or otherwise intimately familiar with the instance) then go back (either on their alt, or main) for additional loots.  That in and of itself is not wrong, or bad.  But the method(s) they use to build these groups are wrong – at least one of them.

It goes back to what I said in part 1 of this series that there’s a misconception that gear = skill.  Players assume if you have a certain level of gear that you obviously possess a specific set of skills and are also prepared for challenges related to your level of gear.  Although I said it in part 1, I’ll restate a couple things here.

One of the main problems with this assumption is that players can attain a very high level of gear without having to overcome any challenges and without displaying any skill whatsoever.  It’s not to say that everyone with badge gear is completely unskilled – it’s just that they have not had to “prove” themselves in order to get the gear.  All you really have to do is not piss the rest of your groups off enough so that they kick you.  A player dies every boss attempt because he doesn’t move out of the fire?  No biggie, the healer just rezzes him.  A player doing 1500 DPS in full Tier 9 gear?  No biggie, the others think that’s “good enough” for “just a 5 man” anyway.  But at the end of the day, this player will be able to buy high level gear via the badge vendors.


So you and I know that gear in and of itself does not equate to skill.  But then why do 99% of PUG raid leaders still require you to provide an arbitrary number, that’s solely based on just the item level of your gear?

A PUG raid leader is trying to get the best players available.  They are also wanting to just get in, kill some bosses, and go home.  He’s smart enough to know that he will not be getting the creme of the crop, as they are doing raids with their guild.  He is – unfortunately – stupid enough to think that any measure of gear is indication of future performance.  I’d like to say it’s not entirely his fault, but it pretty much is.  I’d like to say there aren’t other means available to measure one’s possible performance in whatever raid you’re wanting to do today – but there are.  Past achievements for one are a huge indicator of how a player is likely to perform in future raids.  A player with 2 bosses killed in Naxx, 3 in Ulduar, and 2 in ToC?  He’s probably just done enough of those instance in order to get the weekly raid bosses a few weeks for 5 “EZ” Frost badges.  A player with hard mode Ulduar achievements has the potential to be magnitudes more valuable to any raid.  I personally would take the Ulduar hard mode guy over the “weekly raid farmer” guy even if he had an inferior gear score.  His résumé is better.

There are other options available, such as checking the gem/enchant selections of the player and verifying it against a site such as Elitiest Jerks.  These other options generally require much more work to inspect each player in the raid – either upfront,  or on the spot – as they need to verify caps and theories regarding each spec in the game and how it pertains to the individual player.  Multiply that by 9 or 24 players in the raid and it’s no doubt that PUG raid leaders are looking for the easy way out.  So they choose an easier method of selecting – supposedly – better candidates.

Their “theory” is that a higher level of gear equates to a higher chance of success on the upcoming boss (or rather a lower chance of the player failing).  The big problem with this (other than being a lazy and inferior way to judge players) is that;

  • encounters are designed more or less gear independent
  • encounters are designed around meeting minimum levels of performance, while gear only provides a maximum level of performance
  • the benefits that additional gear does provide are only shown (ironically) on players that do not need the additional gear to be successful

Those last 3 points I go over in more detail in part 3 of this series.

raid on



~ by Andenthal on June 22, 2010.

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