Gear is not everything…
Since I am so obsessed with gear, and its designed applications for different encounters and situations, I may go a bit overboard with the use of gear sets. I talk a great deal about how you should tailor the gear that you wear to the encounter which you are about to tank. This is a great philosophy for progression encounters, because it shows not only that you understand what is about to happen, but you are trying to maximize your survival. This is important when pushing the envelope of your progression, because a tank death is very very hard to recover from, but what you may not see is the healing stress that you cause from wearing the wrong gear, which adversely effects the rest of the raid healing.
All that sounds perfect, and will more than likely be the case for the top guilds in the world, but what about the rest of the guilds? Tengen over at Firstandtengen wrote a very nice post about the recent buff that Blizzard added to ICC. In his Price of Pride post, he outlines the internal conflict over this 5% buff and whether or not the people who are still killing bosses should feel like they should turn off the buff. I threw a comment up on his blog to relay my thoughts on the buff, and I will share them with you as well.
The thing to remember about the buff is that, while it is there and it is enflating your dps, there is really no reason that you should not use it if you still have bosses to kill.
The difference between the first few 100 guilds and the rest is quite substantial. You have to remember that top 100-200 guilds clear content in the previous tier of gear. The buff is the same as being a few weeks behind. The relative gain in raid dps/healing/ tank survival increases every week with the introduction of gear.
Think of the buff as that perfect week of gear dropping for you.
Now this comes from the perspective of a tank on the very precipice of that cliff between raiding in previous tier gear and current tier gear. When we killed Lich King, I had one more piece of 264 gear than the MT of Vodka did when they got their LK kill, however we did it two weeks later so our raid as a whole was more geared.
It is easy to say Gear isn’t everything if you have all the gear
I wanted to share a story with you today to show you that if you are a guild who is behind on progression in comparison to the best in the world, and you think that your roadblock is gear, you may be mistaken.
Aside: While I am aware of Gevlon’s experiments, and although they are intriguing, his perspective does not align with mine when it comes to people and this game.
A few nights ago, our 10 man group stepped into ICC 10 with the goal of knocking out every hard mode and any leftover achievements we could do on hard modes for our drakes. Our main competition from the alliance side, Crisis got theirs very early on and we feel that its time to push some hard modes so they are not the only ones with shiny new toys. Now I do not want to denounce what Crisis did, they are a great guild who out of no where snagged a top 20 world wide ranking in 10 mans and a US second Drake, if any of you happen to stop by, a congratulations is well deserved.
When we walked into the upper spire of the instance, I always swap back to my AoE spec and threat gear. This is just because of the amount of trash that is there and the fact that it is an AoE fest. Nothing says tanking is fun like 12k dps on trash. Soon enough, we found ourselves face to face with Festergut, and the Instance was set to Hard Mode. I will agree with some of the elite out there that once you understand the new mechanics of the fight, Festergut is quite easy to kill. However, that does not discount the fact that he hits like a truck.
The ready check came back, and I pulled the boss. About 10 seconds into the fight, I noticed that he was hitting a lot harder than usual, and my health was dipping quite a bit lower. It took a few more seconds to kick in that it should of because of the beer I had been drinking, but I was still in my threat set. That means I was about 5000 armor and 6000 health down. That is a very, very big difference when it comes to tank survival during the third inhale. The hidden bonus for me was my numbers were larger than life when i hit 9 stacks, dropped Righteous Fury, Salved myself, and went to town on the boss. I am happy to report that no one said a thing about my ease of healing, and the boss was one shot.
Reflection on gear and encounters
While I would never recommend to a tank who is new to this encounter to nerf themselves by that much (almost 10k effective health), it doesn’t mean that you need to be very geared to do this fight. A lot of people, myself included, thought that the 10 man version of ICC was a bit overturned for players in strict 10 man guilds. However, after that experience, I would say that this is a misconception. While I understand that my healers and dps were still geared to the teeth, it is important to note that I never got into AD range, and was able to manage the damage with properly timed cool downs.
I hope that people who are in the position of progression, struggling on a fight in ICC, understand that gear is not everything, and in fact it is a very small part of the contribution to your overall success. The more gear you have, the easier the encounters get, however they are doable in what ever you are wearing currently, you just have to play effectively.