One of the things I have noticed lately in high level PUGs is the effect of having a big variation in gearing between group members. It is very common these days to have three or more characters in a 5 man group with well over 5k gear score (that means they’re using a fair amount of raid gear).
Not a bad thing, you’d think. Better geared groups get through the instance faster.
But if I’m playing a lesser geared alt and I am thrown in with really well geared dps, there’s a chance that mobs will die before I’ve had to chance to use my full rotation. On my new Death Knight, if the overgeared chap is a ranged class and is especially keen, the mob might be pulled over to the other side of the room and almost dead before I even get a touch on it. So I am in two minds, I guess faster instances is good, but actually I want to play my new alt and get some practice. And having seriously overgeared dps in the group means that the mobs just die too fast for me to do that. I would probably have more fun in a group which had a much closer gear score variance.
Or the other side is when you have a really high geared healer thrown into the mix with lesser geared/ experienced tanks or dps. “Pull faster,” says the healer with infinite spellpower and mana regen on their gear, “You can pull as fast as you like with me here.” Well, no. Actually the main limiting factor on fast one can complete an instance is not usually the healing.
Sure, it’s possible that the infinite healer could keep a tank alive as she pulled the entire instance in a single land-speed record breaking rush … but someone still has to actually kill the mobs. Plus some pulls can’t be rushed anyway.
In fact, I have come to the conclusion that having an overgeared healer in your PUG is a waste of otherwise useful gear score. They get bored, and it doesn’t actually help anyone else make shorter work of the instance (if that was your goal). Even my resto druid, sporting a few emblem items and generally teetering just below ICC entry levels, can snooze through a 5 man with just a few sleepy HoTs and nourish spells to keep things going. I can’t imagine how bored a player would be with 1k more gear score than that. I guess that’s a bonus if you want an easy life as a reward for all the hard work in raids.
This is really a design issue with the holy trinity (tank/ heal/ dps) and that if there is limited damage being taken then the healer part of the trinity doesn’t have much to do. I personally think that if Cataclysm does encourage healers to throw some dps into the mix it will be a step forwards, although I know a lot of healers won’t share my opinions.
So my proposal this week is this: how about the notion of an average group gearscore? When you zone into a PUG, the game could tweak everyone’s gear appropriately to make sure that any differences were evened out. Maybe things would be more fun if the average gear level was even a function of the instance and not of the individuals. That way the challenge level would be more stable.
I know this will never happen. People like their individual rewards too much. But gear scaling in Wrath has made the 5 man game very strange indeed.