Progress: LFR week, challenge mode gear scaling

After running LFR on various toons for a week, I finally got my rogue to hit iLevel 355 and halfway through the twilight dungeon quests. My feral druid completed the Kalimdor midsummer fire achievement and my paladin completed the Northrend ones. Gosh, it’ll be a couple more years before I get the purple drake, if ever. At least the whole shared achievement means that I can do it on different toons depending on what I’m in the mood of playing at that time.

My priest got four (yes, FOUR) drops from the LFR in one run, so he’s at iLevel 380 now, has 4pc tier bonus, and only missing chest piece from looking like this. My mage got the chest piece and now has 2pc tier bonus, which looks seriously wonky. I haven’t tried it on the training dummy, but it’s seriously gonna step up the arcane rotation pace a little bit.

On the other news, Blizzard just clarified the challenge mode gear scaling here. I agree with their rationales, mostly centered around keeping hit caps and expertise caps intact while scaling down everything else. But there are a few issues with this approach:

  • Most people that’s “that good” (i.e., have hopes of completing gold level challenges) are probably in a raiding team somewhere, or will be sporting raid-level gear shortly. These people are going to gem and reforge their gear around raid boss hit-caps, as opposed to heroic boss hit-caps. For casters, there’s a HUGE leap from being hit-capped against level 92 mobs to against level 93. That’s a lot of item budgets wasted if Blizzard insists on keeping the hit-cap. With the item budget as scarce as it is due to downscaling, this is a huge blow to the other secondary stats. Note to self: find out how to properly spell hit-cap. Hit cap? hitcap? hit-cap? hit_cap?
  • Some people gear around soft-caps such as haste plateaus. If you keep the hit-cap but scale down the haste, you might seriously mess up a warlock / spriest / boomkin’s dps, or a resto druid’s hps.
  • Let’s not even get to tanks where there’s an intricate interaction between mastery (for shield tanks), dodge, and parry.

With those inconveniences, I expect that there will be a lot of people keeping an extra set of gear, gemmed and reforged exactly for the purpose of entering a dungeon mode challenge. There will be theorycrafters out there explaining how to game the downscaling system so that you “land” on the haste plateaus you want. There will be a Mr. Robot-like sites or addons figuring this out. Another alternative that’s been suggested by WowInsider commenters are:

  1. Have a fixed stats for people upon entering the dungeon. If you’re going to play as a combat rogue, this is your stat, period. Well, it does solve all the issues I raised above, but it introduces other issues, namely:
    • Research / Preparation. Dungeon challenge is not meant to be brute-forced with gear, true, but it’s also not meant to take away the how-well-do-you-know-your-class part. Part of what differentiates great players from good players are knowing what the soft caps are and how to utilize them. I remember that when I was finally able to reach a the sixth tick of rejuvenation on my druid, suddenly my “rotation” (if there’s ever such thing for a healer) changes. I prioritize rejuvenation a little bit more, knowing that it heals for more. I usually don’t give much credit to raiders who know how to look things up online. I don’t consider that “skill.” What I consider skill is the ability to understand why those stats are weighed that way and how to respond accordingly when your stats change.
    • Interaction with talent system. I haven’t seen ALL the talents of the class I play (which is like, almost all of them), but there might be talent choices that begets different caps or even stat priorities.
    • Personalization / Playstyle. At some point in Cata, there were to viable styles of discipline priest. I think one was bubble spam, the other was heal spam. I dunno I forget, I didn’t have a level 85 priest back then. I thought that was pretty cool that Blizz was able to tune it so closely so that there’s no clear winner. I’m sure some other classes have that choice too. The two styles also require different stat priorities.
  2. Let each toon chooses the stats they want to scale down while keeping others intact. As a druid, I wouldn’t care about crit or mastery for example, but I want to keep my spirit and my haste where they are. As a mage, I would want to keep my hit rating but I don’t care about the others. Doesn’t solve the level 92 vs 93 mob conundrum but it solves the other ones.
  3. Let each toon BUDGET their stats themselves. Upon entering a dungeon (or previously, where you can save a profile), you are given this much item budget, and it’s up to you how to allocate them. This is probably the best approach functionally, but it’s horribe from the user experience point of view. Raiders and seasoned players would be able to figure this out quickly. But what about your regular joe players who are new and trying to click at “hey what is this dungeon challenge button?” and then BAM, hit with a window full of knobs and buttons that doesn’t make much sense?

I honestly don’t know what the best solution is. Maybe they have thought this through and still think that the solution they put forth was the lesser of all evils.

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