This post may be best appreciated while wearing a tinfoil hat.
Something in the comments on this post sparked a thought in me. one of the commenters noted that
Yes, my 369 ilvl spriest and my 363 ilvl boomkin got it before my 370 ilvl dk…
Now, I’m not entirely sure whether that’s an intentionally self-deprecating comment, given that the ilvls mentioned are quite close together and generally low. However, I’m going to discuss on the basis of it being honest truth because it’s actually pretty close to how our raid-groups are geared.
Effectively, what we have is a couple of guys – one tank and one healer – who have high ilvl gear. For the sake of discussion, we’ll consider high ilvl to be around 375. In the meantime, pretty much everyone else is hanging around 365-370. At one point I was complimented on my priest’s gear by a guildie. I’m ilvl 371. Thought he was kidding, until I took a look at the rest of the group. After all, 3 months into raiding t11 pretty much everyone and their dog was sitting at ilvl 358 or so – I was expecting similar effect here.
Now, I keep hammering on about how some extremely poor decisions were made in FL gear design. What I want to think about is this: there are three factors that make bosses easier. Experience, gear and nerfs.
Most raid-groups had already gotten as much experience as they could manage before the nerfs hit. Sure, some were still working on new bosses, but especially for the HC guilds, most of them had been skill-capped. Naturally, you’d expect the gear level of characters to increase over time to push that skill cap, but… that wasn’t happening.
There are too few bosses, too few drops, everything – up to crafting materials – is limited by raid kills. In t11 if you couldn’t get Nef down then you could at least gear off Conclave or in BoT. Or you could get crafted/rep items in some slots. The rep items this tier are either lackluster and behind a month of dailies, or gated by the raid faction itself, which requires – you guessed it – boss kills to get to the higher ranks. And even then, the trinkets from FL raid faction are just plainly terrible for most specs.
Blizzard’s stated design goal is that each tier should be tackled by players in an average ilvl of normal-level gear from the previous tier. Given how long it’s taken to gear players just to 370… well, for the majority, 378 just wasn’t going to happen before 4.3 hits.
I may well be way off the point here, but I think perhaps what we’re seeing is that Blizzard may have realised that their decisions in this tier are going to knock on badly to the accessibility of the next. Their extensive planned revamp of the gearing process in 4.3 speaks volumes to me about their awareness that there have been some bottlenecks, and that they’re trying to sort them out. I really hope that they do.