GearScore, minus the “Score” (part 3)

In part 2 of this series, I breifly went over part of why PUG leaders lead raids the way they do (and I use the word “lead” very loosely here.)  It comes down to being inexperienced and/or being lazy.  At the end of part 2, I had 3 points that highlighted why choosing gear as a basis for future performance is flawed in its theory.  Those 3 points again for your enjoyment;

  • encounters are designed to be 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
  • Tools for the Job

    Firstly, the failure or succuess of any given encounter is totally independant of gear.

    Of course when I say this I’m talking about your average run of the mill normal mode encounter.  Heroic modes do not count.  Resistance based encounters do not count.  For pretty much every other fight in the game  – what gear the raid is wearing is more or less irrelevant. 

    What are instances dependant upon?  Execution.  Move out of the ooze, cleanse the debuff, switch to the add, interupt the Cast of Doom.  Failing to properly handle those situations is generally what wipes a raid – and none of them technically require gear.  There are only a handful of encounters with strict enough enrage timers that they could argueably be considered “gear checks”.  The vast majority of encounters focus more on execution of either proactively or reactively dealing with a specific ability. The vast majority of fights either do not have hard enrage timers, or have extremely generous ones that essentially render them null.  Simply put, low DPS/healing numbers is rarely the main cause of a wipe.  For the cases that it is the cause (gear checks) – keep reading, I go over that below.

    The item level of a player’s gear does not tell me if he will be able to correctly handle the above scenarios.  I’ve seen the argurment that, “A bad player with a 5k GS will do better than a bad player with a 4k GS.”  I would argue that can only be theorectically true for tanks.  A healer with 5k GS that can not dispel or heal the correct target is useless.  5k GS ranged DPSers that continue to DPS Saurfang while the Beasts are up are not helping the raid – but rather hindering it.  A 5k GS tank that fails to move out of Marrowgar’s fire, or Deathwhisper’s D&D can be healed through much easier than a 4k GS tank could – but that’s about the extent of it.

    Again – the failure or succuess of any given encounter is totally independant of gear – as it does not show that a player can adequately prevent things that actually wipe raids on the majority of fights.  It is mostly failure to react, or prepare for specific events.  It’s lack of execution.   Or as I see it, competency – that is, the player knows what to do, just fails to actually perform the act needed to ensure he survives or the boss dies. 


    Secondly, even entertaining the idea that fights are dependant upon gear – gear is not a minimum, it’s a maximum.  It’s impossible to do 10k single target DPS with a 3k GearScore – that just has to do the limitations of the game.  It is very possible to do 2k DPS with a 5k GS – there’s nothing hard coded that says for every point of item level, all mobs around you take XXX damage per second.  Your gear only acts as a limiter in what you can do (to an extent), but does not provide a basis for any minimums. 

    You can say that a player with a 5k GearScore “should” be able to do XXX DPS.  If you’re making that assumption, you’re assuming the player is competent enough to research his class and spec, and put forth effort into ensuring his character performs at a high level – that his enchants/gems/glyphs/etc are all appropriate.  If you’re assuming that, then it really doesn’t matter what gear that player has on – as we’ve all ready established his competencies – and as above, that’s what determines the success (or failure) of raids anyway. 

    As above, there are a handful of fights where gear may very well be the determining factor in success (tight enrage timer, DPS burn bosses).  If we’re assuming that the game designers made it hard, if not impossible, to kill the boss without a certain level of gear – we must also assume they designed the fight knowing players would have a high enough skillset to make good use of the gear (again, that they are competent).  See also: previous paragraph.

    If a raid can not fully utilize their gear (can not pass the “gear check”), then – technically speaking – the raid’s gear must increase in order to compensate for their deficiencies, as that’s what gear does.  Now we’re at a catch-22.  A raid needs better gear – which drops from the boss they can not kill.  But they can not kill the boss, because they need better gear.  The onus is on the player to utilize his gear, not the gear to carry the player.  

    But the gear can not lift the player up to that level.  A player that does a paltry 2k DPS with a 4500 GS, will surely do more DPS with a 6k GS.  Assuming all things stay the same, his gear simply allows him to output more damage via increased AP/SP/Crit/Haste/whatever.  But will it be enough?  Assume Festergut with his 9.5 mill HP and a raid group of 2 tanks, 3 healers and 5 DPSers.  Assume the tanks are doing 1/2 the damage of a DPSer, so in essense you have 6 DPS.  You need an average of ~5280 DPS to kill him before his 5 min hard enrage timer.  Going from a 4500 GS to a 6k GS would have to increase his DPS 264% in order for him to do the average needed to kill Festergut.   The player above that does 2k DPS with a 4500 GS will not do 5280 with a 6k GS.

    Again, gear does not give you a minimum only a maximum.  When strategizing any particular encounter, you are only worried about minimums.  “We need a minimum of 100k raid-wide DPS to kill the boss.”  “We need to heal at least XXX dmg that the boss will do to the tank.” “We need to cleanse the debuff.”  Gear – which gives us a player’s maximum potential – is irrelevant.  Now it’s no longer a “gear check” fight – I.E. does a player have this gear level – but more of a “can the player(s) fully utilize the gear they have?” fight.  It’s a competency check fight.

    Therefore, gear does not tell if a player can do the bare minimum even on supposed “gear check” fights.

    More is not always More

    Lastly, this one is slightly ironic, but still needs to be said.  Again, as above, you see this all the time, “A nub with a 5.5k GS is better than a nub with a 4k GS.  I disagree.  If you accept that what I said above – things that wipe a raid are gear independant – then the gear on the nub is irrelevant.  What is relevant is that he is a nub.  A Hunter with 5.5k GS that stands in the fire, or doesn’t DPS the Beasts on Saurfang, isn’t going to be any more help than a 4k GS Hunter.  Actually, if the 4k GS Hunter CAN move out of the fire, and CAN DPS the Beasts, then he’s more than likely going to be more valuable to the raid than the 5.5k GS nub Hunter.

    Gear only makes things quicker and more efficient for those that all ready know what to do.  Gear does not turn nubs or scrubs (or whatever term you feel like using) into competent players.  Gear can not boost an incompetent player’s performance to an acceptable level.


    ~ by Andenthal on July 30, 2010.

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