Saturday, June 9, 2012
For those of you who follow this blog at all, it’s been made apparent that I place some value on the acquisition of gear.
“I place some value on the acquisition of gear” can be taken a myriad of ways. In WoW there are people who will do anything to get an upgrade. Guild masters and raid leaders go to great lengths to implement impartial systems to help manage not just these players, but all loot distribution. I hope at the end of this post it is apparent that I’m not one of those people who might be branded as a “loot whore” or worse. I don’t think I am. The following situation may lead you to think otherwise.
Before I proceed, I’d like to lay down a little context before I dive into what happened. This blog details fairly well the story arc of my raid progression in this game and more specifically in Cataclysm. To summarize: this blog has its name for a reason. Prior to February 2012, I was by any measure of raid progress, a casual player. I still am, but I’ve moved into a different tax bracket so to speak. In February I was lucky enough to apply to join my current guild, Apotheosis of Eldre’Thalas. At the time, I think Apoth was 4/8 in heroic Dragon Soul. The guild I came from was 8/8 normal with no real game plan for conquering heroic modes pre-nerf.
My reasons for leaving Cereal Killers of Kael’Thas were simple. First, our raid times were a bit unrealistic. My body does poorly with six hours of sleep or less. Secondly, I have always wanted to be a part of a raid team that progresses to high levels. I’m not the kind of guy that could belong to a group like Blood Legion or Method. I don’t think I have the talent, but besides that, I have a social life that I’m pretty attached to. Apotheosis is a focused group that knows how to get things done effectively and efficiently. I feel so lucky to be a contributing part of this group. The last four months, in which I helped the guild get its first heroic Zon’ozz, Ultraxion, Blackhorn, and Madness kills, have been all that I could have hoped for.
Given my history of *never* being a part of a progression guild, I have found myself thirsting for tokens of my experience. Titles, gearsets, achievements, mounts; obvious “things” that most progression raiders want. My feelings toward this experience can be likened to that of a kid going to their first concert. You go, you buy the t-shirt, and you keep that ticket stub in your sock drawer till the end of time. Well, maybe that’s not close enough. What I’ve gone through sort of feels like I got drafted in to the NBA straight from high school. You bet your ass I’m going to keep the shoes and jersey from my championship game forever.
Attaining these symbols of my achievements in Cataclysm is only one aspect of why I value gear acquisition. I’m competitive and I like doing DPS in a raid. Naturally, I like getting stuff that makes my numbers go up. I’m a whack-a-mole playing, button mashing retribution paladin. Somewhere along the line we (rets) collectively got hit with this “meathead club” label. It’s like, in a raid, we’re the equivalent of that dimwitted lineman on the football team that just gets pointed in the direction of the bad guys and gets a single, unfuckupable instruction: kill. I try to avoid that. In my casualness, I take my role in raids pretty seriously. I always do my best to exercise my utility to make things flow smoothly for our group. I do things to make myself feel like I’m earning both my raid spot and the items I receive. Part of that is doing maximum damage. Say what you will about the simplicity of ret DPS; I take pride in my work regardless of public opinion on such nonsense.
Now, to get to the point, the conflict at hand surrounds a weapon. Heroic Gurthalak, Voice of The Deeps (this name is full of delicious puns that get often overlooked.) To say that Gurthalak is coveted by several raiders in our group is a gross understatement. Now, it’s important to note that my guild uses the EP/GP loot system. How it actually works is a bit more complicated than I’d like to get into, but like most systems it rewards raid attendance and penalizes via loot acquisition. EP points are awarded for things like coming to raid on time, killing bosses, clearing new content, etc. Loot costs EP. When you acquire loot, you lose priority in the system, which allows a person below you to move up in the list and be next in line for the item they’re after. I really enjoy the EP/GP system because it’s fair and objective, and the priority aspect helps combat the problem with DKP systems where people stockpile points.
Prior to this week’s raid lockout, I was aware of my standing in the EP/GP priority and I knew that if one of our warriors got a piece of loot before Madness, I’d be in line to get the next Gurthalak. At least, that’s what I thought. See, there was a measure of assumption on my part. Our blood death knight was actually above me in priority, so when the sword dropped, he ended up getting it. Based on the strict parameters of the addon we use for EP/GP, it was perfectly legitimate. However, I was dumbfounded.
What unfolded ended with me getting the sword. After our DK won the roll, I whispered our GM and cried outrage. Keep in mind that my statements and responses were metered, polite, and reasonable, but I was shocked and a little mad. From that moment, I simply waited while the officers assessed the situation. About five minutes later, our DK traded me the sword.
Much after the fact, I was given details on precisely what happened. Even before I got a whisper off to our GM, conversations were already set in motion to question the decision. At the eye of this storm was a request given to the tank by our GM, which was that he provide a reputable source to show that HGurth is better than H Slicer. At that point our DK concluded that getting the weapon wasn't worth causing a fuss and he decided to give it to me. The officers of the guild didn't tell him the had to, he just did it. I actually didn't know these details until this morning, but frankly I'm not surprised. Chronis has always been a classy team player.
Situations like this lead me to my next question: is heroic Gurthalak a tanking weapon? Before I answer that, I need to point out that I’m not a blood death knight, nor do I profess to know how to play one. Don’t get me wrong, I know the basic mechanics, but I’m not a skilled player like the guy who wanted the Gurty. That being said, to answer the question: no I absolutely don't think Gurthalak is a tank weapon.
The issue of what is or isn’t a blood tanking weapon is full of gray areas. The very nature of the fact that death knights use a two handed weapon to tank (where no other class in the game does, save druids with polearms and staves,) makes this question exceedingly hard to actually answer. From my armchair analyst perspective, it is my opinion that the usefulness of the stats on said weapon will qualify or disqualify it as being an item “for tanking.” Speaking specifically of Gurthalak, one could argue that it has more strength and stamina than heroic Experimental Specimen Slicer. Strength gives death knights parry, and stamina is a top stat for a lot of end game encounters. I think citing those stats as a legitimate reason to give the weapon to a tank over a DPS is reaching a bit. The complete lack of secondary stats on Gurthalak, in my opinion, further disqualifies it as a tanking weapon. I have a strong suspicion that the best in slot blood dk weapon for end game is the slicer. It’s covered in mastery, and reforgable crit. It also has a socket that can be utilized to further tailor the weapon however the DK pleases.
In this same vein, I was presented with an argument for tank gear levels. If a tank is geared enough that they can afford to have no (or almost no) avoidance or mitigation stats on a weapon, does that present a valid reason for the player to use the weapon? At this gear level, there is absolutely no argument to be made for the threat benefits of a higher item level weapon. Threat for tanks now only matters at the beginning and transitions of fights. As I mentioned before, our blood DK is a great player, so the threat argument is even more moot. The next question asks, “why isn’t it beneficial to have the tank do more DPS?” Well, if DPS matters enough that we need our tanks to step up, then that in its self is the reason we shouldn’t give the Gurthalak to the tank first. Let the DPS get theirs, then drops can go to tanks and offspec DPSr’s.
Absolutely all of this is based off of my own opinions and suppositions. The black and white of it is that the player who was originally awarded the sword was the one with the priority to receive it. I made an argument for my cause and won. These words are not self-congratulatory. I don't feel awesome. That doesn't mean I don't think I am right when I assert my opinion on this situation. The whole thing is just so bittersweet.