Friday, September 24, 2010
Two days later, my gearscore is up to the mid-3000's and my DPS is consistently at or above 2.2K. A large portion of this increase came from a single lucky weapon drop, that allowed me to replace an old ilvl 171 blue sword from DTK normal with an epic ilvl 219 mace. (I'd rate the new hammer 3rd best in the 5-man game for an Arms warrior, behind only the axe from Heroic Pit of Saron and Quel'Delar, which I would frankly sell rather than claim on an alt this close to an expansion.)
Obviously, it's at least somewhat fun to see the numbers piling up at such a rapid pace. Due to Wrath's massive gear inflation, even the Hunter and Tank gear that drops in the newer instances is generally an upgrade. At the same time, the pacing of this gear upgrade bonanza only emphasizes the complaint that I've had about Wrath's 5-man game for a while now; it is set up as a way to provide players with entry level raid gear, rather than as a legitimate game in its own right.
Within a week or so, I expect to have picked off almost all of the upgrades from heroic loot tables. After that, it's a question of how much effort I'm prepared to spend on grinding out tokens and repeating the last dungeon or two that offers significant upgrades. With no plans to raid and an expansion gear reset looming, the answer is almost certainly going to be "not that much".
RNG vs Tokens in the Zerg Era
The irony is that I would have been prepared to spend far more time working on a weapon upgrade, precisely because it is such big deal for Warrior DPS. Instead, I won the weapon I will probably carry into Cataclysm on the very first attempt, while the guy who tanked on that same instance run bemoaned having killed the final boss dozens of times in search of a shield that just wasn't dropping. Such is the blessing and the curse of having the random number generator decide on loot - some players win the best upgrades too quickly while others end up no longer enjoying the grind.
I recognize that there is a psychological advantage to obtaining your item outright, especially if you have pursued it for longer than I had. You're not going to be as excited to get the same loot in exchange for your 60th token, especially if the token comes from something anticlimactic like zerging down trivial content. Even so, I wonder if the RNG really serves any useful purpose in the modern WoW 5-man game.
The big strength of the system is that you can click on the random button and land in one of sixteen dungeons, some of which you probably have not seen in weeks. When you've cleaned out all but that one last upgrade, you're reduced to repeating the same one dungeon, an exercise that will either be a complete win or an equally complete failure. Running the dungeon until the thing finally drops isn't really difficult given how quick dungeon runs are and how likely they are to succeed. The only thing that random loot accomplishes in the modern version of WoW 5-mans is to lock you out of the other fifteen dungeons, reducing the variety and ultimately the quality of the experience.