Let's say that you are a mage entering Wrath of the Lich King with a [Mark of Defiance] (that's 32 spell damage and a mana regen on spellcast proc) and an [Airman's Ribbon of Gallantry] (that's 34 crit rating - good for both crit and some mana regen via Master of Elements - and a damage proc). Now let's say that you complete a quest and receive a choice of the following two trinkets:
- 18 mana/5s, on use 120 Haste Rating for 20 sec (2 min cooldown)
- 43 Crit rating, on use 183 damage for 20 sec (2 min cooldown)
I won't link the quest because I'm not sure if links to WoWhead's Wrath beta site will still work in a week, and because some of you may consider it a spoiler, but that's a real pair of reward choices.
Well, the Crit trinket looks like it was intended for DPS casters, and is an upgrade from my Airman's Ribbon, provided I remember to activate it. That said, trinkets with crit rating are much more common than trinkets with mana regen, at least as quest rewards, and the mana regen trinkets almost always force a choice like this one between a traditionally DPS trinket and a traditionally healing trinket (there's a very similar choice in the next zone over between mana regen and haste rating). If I take the crit trinket now, I'm going to replace it with another, better DPS trinket (perhaps even a week or two later), but the mana regen trinket could actually stay with me for use in a farming set.
You can't keep everything
Here's a picture of Cheerydeth's bank and bags from the Wrath Beta. I did opt to hold onto the starting DK gear for its distinct look, but basically I managed to fill up an entire bank - the main area plus seven expansion slots with 16+ slot bags in each - with gear. This isn't even all the quest rewards in Northrend - I had to vendor several bags worth in order to make room.
Cheery did enter Northrend with random level 66-68 quest reward gear, and I didn't really know enough about melee stats to do an effective job weeding out the upgrades. She also has a set of tanking gear and a set of spell damage gear (which doesn't actually benefit DK's, but I wanted to keep one for testing purposes). However, as I've noted before, Wrath uses more stats than TBC did, so even a veteran player is likely to find some upgrades, or at least situational items, pretty early on.
And so we get some tough choices. Do I want to be holding a mana regen set for farming? A spell hit set in case I ever wind up filling a loose spot in a pick up raid? A haste set in case I decide I want to conjure up food for the raid the old fashioned way? And, of course, as a "pure" DPS class, the mage's life is much easier than what the other classes face, with healing and tanking sets to accompany DPS and PVP.
Time for Trade-Ins?
Sunwell introduced the concept of vendors who would exchange raid loot for alternate variations of the item aimed at different specs. At the time, this was more of a way to stretch the loot table to accommodate hybrid specs, but it could, in principle, be used to allow players to trade in certain quest rewards. Obviously, that's not a decision to be taken lightly; allowing easy swapping out of quest rewards would make the decisions of which rewards to select a lot less meaningful. But what if there was a cost to balance the exchange? Say, for example, that the questgiver will only do me this favor if I'm exalted with their faction, and if I pay some fee?
Again, this is less of an issue for my mage, but a huge issue for my Pally - with proper reward choices, I was able to get a very decent tanking set together for the Pally, and I wouldn't have had that option without very careful planning of my gear choices. Let's say that I level as Ret this time out and then decided I wanted to heal or DPS. I wouldn't have the gear to do so effectively, so I would have to join groups as a Ret spec and roll on off-spec gear in order to get the stuff I'd need to even begin to try and learn how to tank/heal.
Given the lack of storage space, limited number of quest alternatives, and increasing abundance of specialized gear, it may be time for something to change.