Saturday, March 29, 2014

Dragon Soul LFR Loot:

Hey, so remember that article three articles back? Well, a Blizzard rep has stated that they would like to add an NPC (hopefully in 6.0) who will allow you to enter the instance on LFR mode in a private group of any side.

While my quest to get a full set of Normal-Mode Time Lord Regalia on my Mage is coming along decently (at this point, he just needs the chest and the matching belt - pants and boots are pretty much irrelevant for a Draenei in a robe,) I'd love to complete the LFR set as well (and get a sweet Blue Ti'tahk, the Steps of Time.)

Presumably, this NPC would be partnered with corresponding ones for the Mists raids, given that after we hit 91, the LFR version of your various tier 14-16 would otherwise be unattainable.

I realize that there are some things that they like to keep as a "you had to be there" thing, which is why it's likely that there will be no way to get the Mists Challenge Mode sets or Phoenixes from Warlords on (particularly sad for DKs, as I think that's probably the best DK armor model they ever did... except maybe Warrior tier 3,) but it is ironic to me that the form of raiding that is by far the easiest and most accessible is the one that has the most fleeting rewards. (Need to find a PuG for Normal Siege so I can get that wolf, now that I think about it.)

Anyway, if this goes live (caveat: it's just an idea that's been tossed out there) it would be an excellent fix to one of the funny problems brought on by LFR.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Reaper of Souls and Loot 2.0

I got Diablo 3 as part of the annual pass offer for World of Warcraft. Stay subscribed for a year, and they gave you D3, a cool, Tyrael-themed mount, and guaranteed that you could get into the Mists Beta (though a lot of people interpreted that to mean that they would be in the first round of Beta invites, which was of course pretty unrealistic, given how hard that would be on the Beta servers.)

Diablo 3 was pretty fun, but it has some glaring problems. The biggest was loot. Unlike in WoW (mostly,) loot in Diablo has randomized stats, and loot drops are not guaranteed from particular bosses.

In Diablo 3, most of your loot was utter crap. You'd be on your wizard and get a sword with strength and dexterity on it, or you'd get a ton of Barbarian-specific Mighty Belts. Even when you did get a Wizard-specific piece, it might have awful stats.

One solution to this was the auction house, allowing players to trade their items around and see if others had better stuff. Infamously, there was an option in the auction house to buy and sell things with real money. The problem, however, was that getting an item off the auction house felt pretty lame. You would be very powerful for a while, but then you'd eventually out-level that gear and feel the need to go back.

It didn't really fit with the idea of an RPG.

In WoW, this isn't as much of a problem. For one thing, it's rare that you can buy truly powerful items from other players, or for in-game gold. This admittedly causes a bit of gold-inflation, but most powerful items must be attained through effort in challenging content - either as boss-drops, or as rewards bought with a special non-gold currency that is earned by doing that same challenging content.

Diablo 3 has been vastly improved by changing this system. First off, the auction house is completely gone. I believe you can still trade gear with other players online, but only if you are in a party with them (I don't know this for a fact, though, as I have not tried it.) Legendary items (which are not as unusual as they are in WoW) are account-bound, meaning that while you can hand them off to your alts, you're only going to be able to get a hold of them on your own.

This would seem to make the game more difficult if it were not for the fact that the game is now much better at assigning loot. First of all, the overall quality has improved, but you're also far more likely to get loot you can actually use (though it's not always an upgrade, of course.) On occasion I will see a Dexterity piece on my Wizard, but this happens so infrequently that it's not really a problem, and is only frustrating when that happens on a Legendary item.

Legendaries were also made cooler. Most of them seem to have unique effects. For example, I have a one-handed axe that summons a demon ghost to attack my enemies, or a ring that causes a little treasure goblin to follow me around, picking up common gear and spitting out a rare, or even legendary item for every 16 common pieces he picks up.

Overall, the game just feel a lot better, and gives more of the impression that you can actually gear yourself up well by playing it.

On a bit of an impulse, I preordered the expansion, Reaper of Souls, which comes out on tuesday (true to the title of this blog, I did it mainly because of the new Crusader class - Paladins represent!)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Pitfalls of RNG Loot in WoW: Imagining a Better Bonus Roll

Having played the game for quite a long time now (I've begun to realize that there are now players who think of Wrath of the Lich King as that mythic, prehistoric time before they or anyone they play with began,) it's easy to forget some of the things that really surprised me about the game. One of them was randomized loot.

I never played Diablo before WoW. Instead, most of my RPG experience was in JRPGs like Final Fantasy, and one of my all-time-favorites, Super Mario RPG (which, made by Squaresoft, was really a simple Final Fantasy game with Mario characters.) Gear in those games was typically less important than character level, but it was a factor. However, gear was something that would come to you at fixed points in the course of a fairly linear story. Many pieces were fairly obvious - Bowser's best weapon in Mario RPG was bought off a vendor. Sometimes there were secret, powerful weapons, but typically you'd have to do a side-quest to get them. If I recall correctly, Magus' best weapon in Chrono-Trigger was just in a chest in one of the dungeons.

In WoW, you kill bosses in dungeons, and they have a set list of loot, but they will only drop a certain number of those items. Before Mists, this was how all boss loot worked. You kill a boss, and if you're in a five-person dungeon, one item drops (or two if it's the final boss.) If you're in a 10-man raid, you'll get two items, and perhaps get some tier tokens in addition to the items.

It feels great to get your loot. When you kill that massive abomination and then you get a kick-ass shield that looks like a flaming skull, it's a great feeling.

The problem, however, is that more often than not, you don't get that shield. The flip side to the joy of seeing your piece drop is the frustration of not seeing it drop.

And it's not even symmetrical. The first time that shield drops, you get excited. The other tank's a Druid, so he's not going to take it, and that means that the shield is for you and you alone. But next week, you down Patchwerk again, and that shield drops. Your group's Arms Warrior shrugs and says, "well, ok, I guess I can take it for my Prot set." But Patchwerk heard your wishes for that shield two weeks ago and feels he just hasn't given that thing up enough. Meanwhile, the three Mages in the raid all really, really want that cloak to drop, but it just won't drop because that stupid shield is dropping instead. At least you guys brought an enchanter who can turn those excess shields into shards for enchants.

Though not with personal loot.

Personal loot rolls were introduced in Mists, and don't get me wrong: Personal Loot has done wonders to reduce the amount of drama in groups of strangers. LFR during Dragon Soul was nightmarish when it came to loot distribution. There were the jerk-needers ("I need the gold I'd get from vendoring it,") or the guild-cartels ("All our Mages are going to need on that staff so that we can give it to the one among us who actually wants it") and hostage-takers ("I needed on that tier shoulder token whose corresponding piece I already have so I can trade it for something I actually want.") But Personal Loot has created its own problems as well.

Nowadays, there are more random numbers being thrown around. First, we find out whether we get a piece of loot from the boss for making the kill. Usually that's a no, but if it's a yes, then we get a randomly-selected piece of loot that could theoretically be useful to us, regardless of whether we actually want it (such as giving a Prot Paladin the dodge/parry helmet rather than the haste/mastery one) and regardless of whether we have that piece already. (I have gotten four of the tier 16 pants off the celestials on my Tankadin, and still have my Lightning Emperor's Handguards.) It actually makes us hope that a boss only has one thing we want from it, for fear of getting the wrong piece.

But then there's bonus rolls, and this is where I start to get worried. Bonus Rolls give us more interaction with the personal loot system by giving us a choice. We work hard to get them, gathering 50 (though it was 90 at the beginning of the expansion) Lesser Charms to get a maximum of three bonus roll coins per week. We are then presented with a choice: do we spend our hard-earned Warforged Seal or equivalent in the hopes of getting a piece of gear? The problem is that what this does is simply repeats the process again. Again we roll to see if we get anything at all (and again that's usually a no,) and again, if it does roll favorably for us, we then get another roll to see which piece we get.

Another anecdote: Today I ran my Monk through Gates of Retribution (I go back and forth on whether he's a Windwalker or a Brewmaster, but I think it boils down to Windwalker in LFR and soloing and Brewmaster otherwise.) For a long time he's been in mostly Timeless Isle pieces. So I get in on the Dark Shaman, and I'm happy to see that the tanks are good and the raid actually kills the adds, so we wind up one-shotting both the Dark Shaman and Nazgrim. I get the cloak off Dark Shaman and use one of my Seals to see if I can get a trinket or one of the many other pieces I could use. But no: I get the exact same cloak. On Nazgrim, I get a pair of shoulders. Cool, I think. Now let's see if I can get my 2-piece bonus... oh, it's those damn shoulders again.

The problem is that even when you see the wheel stop on the little loot-bag, you're still highly likely to discover that you didn't get anything useful.

So what do we do about this?

In the past, this has been the purpose of Valor Points and its forebears. You get a bad luck streak, that's too bad, but at least you can pick up a nice piece of gear at the vendor.

But since 5.4, Valor Points have shifted from being a fantastic anti-bad-luck mechanic to being a pure, boring grind. With no new valor gear equivalent to the SoO gear, the only viable use of the points is to upgrade their gear, which they first must be lucky enough to see drop.

Personally, I advocate a robust selection of valor gear. Yes, maybe the late tiers of Wrath, where you purchased your entire tier set for Emblems, was a little excessive, but on a personal and subjective level, I found the fully-predictable Emblem grind to be a great supplement to WoW's traditional random loot drops.

But if you're worried that people will just grind easy, old content to get that gear, instead of challenging themselves, you can simply make use of the already-implemented tiered currency system. If Valor was only awarded by beating bosses in the current raid, you'd still have plenty of people motivated to raid that content, but they would be less likely to tear out their hair after Thok refused to drop that stupid freaking trinket again.

The use of bonus rolls is, I think, somewhat problematic, but has room for improvement. Ultimately, while they can be used in content that does not use personalized loot, I saw them more as a mechanic to replace the usual need or greed decision that a player makes when receiving an item. Perhaps it's a psychological trick to make us feel like we have more control over our rewards, but I think that, with some tweaking, it could feel more like a real bad-luck protection mechanic instead of just giving us another way to feel unlucky.

We now have loot lists in the dungeon journal. The loot table of a boss is now open knowledge, and not something you have to hunt down on WoW Head or use AtlasLoot to look up. Rather than simply subjecting us to the same frustrating RNG fest as the first roll - one roll to determine whether you got anything and one to determine which piece you get, there could be a more predictable system.

Let's say you're a Frost DK and you really, really want that axe off of Garrosh. You have taken the Warchief down twenty times, and you just can't get it. Here's what you'd do under this hypothetical system:

You go into the dungeon journal and selected Xalatoh, Desecrated Image of Gorehowl and check off a little box there. The next time you take down Garrosh, you use one of your Warforged Seals to bonus-roll for it.

The first change is that this bonus roll would only ever give you Xalatoh. Not anything else from the loot table - just the axe - so you know you are shooting for a specific goal.

You spend your coin, and... nope, you didn't get it. You let out a wild scream of unholy fury.

But next to your bonus roll window, a little circle fills up. It's now a quarter full.

What this means is that the next time you roll for this item, you get an additional 25% chance to get it. The next week, you down Garrosh, and you get that Stamina/Crit trinket that is maybe good for Warrior Tanks? But not for your DK. No, you still want that Xalatoh, so you spend another Warforged Seal.

Blast! Again, no luck. But oh, check it out, that circle is now a full 50% full.

You return to the Siege of Orgrimmar. You're a good little Death Knight, and you immediately switch targets when people get mind controlled and you kill all the adds from his Empowered Whirlwind. Now, with 50% on top of your innate chance of looting the axe, you spend another Seal, and this time it finally drops! Whoohoo! But you're also secure in the knowledge that if it hadn't dropped, you'd have a 75+whatever innate chance% next week, and the week after that, it would have been a guaranteed drop.

There's still a thrill of seeing the loot drop, and it still requires you to keep coming back to that boss. This eliminates the two biggest critiques of the pure currency model (where people could simply do one wing of ToT to unlock all the SPA gear and then run dungeons to get a near-set of 522 gear.)

Personally, I still think that VP gear should remain an option (some people, ahem, like to run content in smaller groups,) but I think that this proposal could make Bonus Rolls a serious anti-frustration feature, rather than adding to the problem by cruelly mocking my need to get the damned tier gloves off those damned Celestials.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Transmogging That Which is Lost

During Cataclysm, I leveled up a second mage, this time on Alliance - a Draenei named Goraas. LFR was new then, and we were all hitting up Dragon Soul to the degree that we were willing to put up with LFR (while I think the difficulty was tuned fairly well, the loot system led to a lot of awful behavior.) While running Goraas through, I somehow managed to, on his first run of both wings, get the four-piece tier set, with helmet, shoulders, robe, and pants.

Now, I should point out here that I think Mage Tier 13, "Timelord Regalia," is probably my favorite armor set in World of Warcraft.

LFR gear, both in Dragon Soul and all the Mists raids, has a different color scheme. Much as normal and heroic gear are differentiated, LFR gear has its own color scheme (which seems to often involve green.)

The problem, of course, is that while Normal, Heroic, and under the new Warlords raid paradigm of normal, heroic, and mythic, you can always just change the difficulty of the raid to pick up old pieces, in the case of LFR, once you out level a raid, you can never go back and run that on LFR.

I would love to be able to fill out my Mage's tier 13 set with the icy white, grey, and blues of the LFR version of tier 13, but there is no way for me to get into that version of the instance anymore.

Months ago, I suggested allowing players to run raid at LFR difficulty without the LFR group-finder, essentially just using LFR as a template for "Easy" mode, treating the LFR matchmaking system the same way that one treats the Dungeon Finder.

The solution may actually lie in the new raiding scheme. Unless they decide that they now want to do four color schemes for each item, they will probably stick to having two of the difficulties share a style. Right now, Flex Mode and Normal Mode gear looks identical (my DK now has a cool purple sword, which I think looks way better - and more Draenei-appropriate - than the green LFR one.) The solution therefore might be to just switch it so that LFR and Flex (which, to make things not at all more confusing, will be called Normal in Warlords) share a scheme.

However, to work retroactively, some other changes should perhaps be implemented. There is no flex mode for tiers 13-15, and so Dragon Soul LFR gear is unattainable, and by 2015, so will all the LFR gear from Mists (well, theoretically you could lock your XP at 90, but good luck waiting in that queue.)

For tier pieces, it could be as simple as allowing you to trade in a tier token for a lower-iLevel version of the corresponding piece. But of course, that leaves out non-set pieces.

Indeed, it might require that we see an overhaul to the transmog system. The upcoming Diablo 3 transmog system will work off a checklist of gear you have had, rather than gear that you currently have. Therefore, it would be pretty easy to allow you to just make a higher-quality version of a piece count for all inferior versions. Let's say you run Heroic Dragon Soul, and you get the purple version of Gurthalak. With a checklist-based system, having the heroic version could just count as having all three versions. Having the normal version could count as both that one (red) and the LFR one (blue.)

Adopting a checklist-based transmog system would probably make the entire feature a lot more elegant (not to mention the fact that it would probably mean they could get rid of Void Storage.)

From its first introduction, I have been a great fan of transmogrification. It gives us another way to express the characters that we are playing. There's essentially no downside to it, so I think it's one of those features that Blizzard should eagerly expand to be as user-friendly as possible.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Flight and Draenor

One of the most controversial statements made in the recent trickle of Warlords info is that 6.0's lack of flying is meant as an experiment - that they might, if they think it works out, just not let us fly in Draenor at all.

I understand where they are coming from. Keeping things on the ground level requires you to navigate the terrain. You have to figure out how to get around that cliff, or find the gate in that massive wall. Cataclysm's late-level zones did sometimes feel a little disconnected - you could just hop up on your mount and move on to the next quest area indicated on your map. You might even do that just to get to the next cultist you had to kill. Dense wilderness was something that you passed over, rather than being forced to cut your way through.

But I don't think that getting rid of flight is a good idea. And I am not merely speaking from a perspective of making things more convenient.

Flight should be exciting, and it should feel dangerous. If zones are designed as one big plain, then yeah, it's not all that exciting to just pass over it. But when a zone is designed with verticality in mind, flight can add to immersion.

There is, of course, a distinction that some make, which is that flight can be seen as a reward for leveling up. Having reached that pinnacle, you then get to fly past the quests that you were less likely to even want to do now, or the areas where you had already completed the quests.

But while I think that this method, rewarding flight at the level cap does work - we've seen in in Outland during Burning Crusade* and Pandaria during Mists - what I think is a far more interesting issue to discuss is how to make flying immersive, and thus make it an attractive tool when designing a zone, and not thinking of it as an afterthought for once you're "done" with an area.

I've made this argument before, but it bears repeating: Icecrown and Storm Peaks were designed around flying mounts, in a way that even the Cataclysm zones were not. In Icecrown, one of the major quest hubs for each faction was an airship. Flight made sense as a requirement, because before you claimed the Shadow Vault, there was literally nowhere in the zone other than a small Argent Crusade fort on the border that was safe for you to land.

Storm Peaks approached flight in a different way, sending us to looming peaks and inside vast Titan structures. We had to fly to fully explore the zone.

In all honesty, looking back, the zones of Pandaria were a little underwhelming geographically. Valley of the Four Winds, Kun-Lai Summit, and Townlong Steppes were all somewhat homogenous expanses. And I think that allowing flight may have made those zones trivial while leveling.

I respect the notion that sometimes, flight is inappropriate. But I also think that Blizzard could make far more impressive zones if they designed them with flight in mind. I wonder why we have never returned to the Wrath model for flight - where flight is achieved during the leveling process - not at the beginning of the continent, but before one hits the level cap.

There are many ways that one can prevent flight from making things feel disconnected. They can do things as simple as sending us into large structures and caves, or they can give zones some kind of quest chain to unlock the ability.

My point, basically, is that flight can, and often is, good for the game. I wouldn't want to see them throw away that tool.

So here's my vote in favor of flight.

*I'll do an upcoming Memory Lane article about the history of mounts and the levels at which we could ride them.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Blizzard Announces Warlords of Draenor's Absolute Latest Release Date

There are actually several items to discuss, but the biggest bit of news is that Blizzard has announced that Warlords of Draenor will be released on or before December 20th of this year.

This is, I have to imagine, their most conservative estimate. They want there to be a date just so they can start getting people pre-ordering. But we haven't had a beta yet, and it's still nine months from then, which I think is more than enough time for them to get the expansion out.

So before we go into panic mode and imagine 5.4 lasting fifteen months, I think we can probably, with a fair degree of confidence, assume that Warlords is going to release before this date, and I would predict far earlier, even.

But for now, December 20th is the date they've basically guaranteed us that we will be in Draenor, fighting the Iron Horde.

The other big news today is that the level 90 character boost is now online. While I do not know if pre-orders and the affiliated free boost are online yet, the paid service is. Boosted 90s will get a full set of 483 greens (equivalent to Heart of Fear and Terrace of Endless Spring LFR gear,) 22-slot bags, and if you boost a character who is already level 60 or above, it will max out their professions to 600 as well (no word if it automatically gives clean-shaven characters badass mustaches, but the trailer seems to make that promise.)

UPDATE: A Blizzard representative tweeted that they said December 20th because it was the "technical definition for the last day of fall." This seems to imply that they are expecting a fall release. I still hope that it comes out sooner, though, because even at the earliest, a fall release would be September 21st, which would still mean 5.4 goes on for a full year.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Healing in Warlords: Avoiding the Pitfalls of Cataclysm

So here's the big old grain of salt with all of this: I have never played a healer seriously at max level. While I do have my Horde Monk (who is level 87,) I have never healed in a raid, or a heroic dungeon for that matter. So all of this commentary will be in the context of theory and concept. Healing is, of course, also relevant to tanks, so I will approach the subject from that perspective as well.

Blizzard is once again looking at changing healing to address some of the concerns they have with the way it works now. Currently, mana regeneration and throughput are so high that players tend to spam powerful heals, and as a result, they have had to tune the damage of bosses and other enemies to be far more powerful relative to players' health.

Essentially, the situation is fairly similar to how it was in Wrath of the Lich King. During 3.1, there was a term called "the Ulduar Splat," which meant that a tank's health would bounce up and down from the massive hits they were taking and the massive heals they were receiving. Basically, if you didn't dodge, block, or parry two hits in a row, you might be dead. Tanks during Wrath ignored avoidance stats and focused almost entirely on stacking stamina and bonus armor where they could to increase the number of hits they could take before they went splat. Icecrown Citadel, when it came out, had a zone-wide debuff that reduced dodge chance by 20% so that they could tune the damage dealt by bosses lower, and all because healers were spamming too much. (In case you couldn't tell, WoW is a complicated game.)

The attempt to remedy this in Cataclysm was to nerf mana regeneration. Healers who had been used to spamming their most expensive heals now had to cut that out, lest they go out of mana. Unfortunately, this was a real crash for a lot of experienced healers. Indeed, this may be the single biggest contributor to my guild's fall from regular raiding in the beginning of Cataclysm, as many of our veteran healers refused to play the role anymore.

As the expansion progressed, and healers gained more spirit, healing became less painful, but the damage was done.

However, Blizzard still wants healers to have to use their full toolkit, and spamming powerful heals is not the way to do that. So now they are taking a different approach.

First of all, health pools relative to damage and healing will be roughly doubling. Obviously, it won't look like we have more health because of the item squish, but the idea is that with twice as much health, the healer has more time to figure out what the best heal for the situation is, and has more time to get the player healed up to full, but pays for that by having to work harder to get that person to full health.

In a way, really what this is doing is slowing down the healing game. This means that there's less likelihood that a HoT will wind up over healing. If your Paladin tank hits his 5-Bastion-stack Word of Glory right after you throw a Riptide on him, it will now be more likely that there is still healing to be done, and thus the Riptide is not a waste.

One of the reasons that the mana regeneration nerf in Cataclysm was so painful was the transition of gear. Players who had spent a year in ICC-quality epics at level 80 were suddenly reintroduced to being in low-powered greens and blues, and the spells they used to spam were now draining them of mana. This was also back when Intellect increased mana pools, so they also had to deal with the fact that a spell that once cost 2% of their total mana was now costing 8% (numbers are made up, but you get the idea.)

In a way, the static mana pool (and the fact that heals have to balanced around that percentage of your total mana regardless of your gear) has already done its part in solving this problem.

But Blizzard is going farther by increasing baseline mana regeneration and reducing the amount of Spirit one has on one's gear. The idea here is to flatten the difference in mana regeneration between a fresh 100 healer versus a tier 19 (one assumes that's the final tier for Warlords) raider.

With mana pools static and the delta in mana regeneration narrowed, what, then, does a healer gear for? Throughput. With bigger health pools relative to damage and healing, the best thing a healer can work on is maximizing their throughput.

The solution does have some potential pitfalls - for example, if it gets to a point where you can cast your expensive spells without going out of mana, we may return to spammy gameplay. But I think that this solution seems like it will be easier to adjust to than the Cataclysm changes.

One little note for tanks: we're not exempt here. Self-healing is going to be less powerful than it has been relative to our health pools, but again, we'll have more time to react. I suspect that active mitigation abilities will still be powerful. Indeed, this might make Shield Block and Savage Defense more attractive compared to Shield Barrier and Enraged Regeneration. The one tank healing ability I doubt will be affected is Death Strike, as it is already proportional to damage taken, and seeing as that will be nerfed equally with allies' healing, it will be appropriately nerfed by default. I do suspect that Death Strike's minimum healing, which is based on the Death Knight's health, might be the one aspect of that ability that gets a true nerf.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Bringing Stats In Line

Warriors love crit. I mean that they LOVE it. Crit is so important to Warriors that an upgrade piece from a new raid may not, in fact, actually be better if it does not have this holiest of stats (well, not Holy, that's Paladins. Most Brutal?)

Warriors are designed around critical strikes. In addition to the obvious benefit of the crit - doubling the damage of any attack - Warriors are also fueled by crit through Enrage, a passive that causes their major abilities to increase their damage and grant them a bit of Rage every time they crit. Currently, tanks favor dodge and parry, but only because Riposte gives them crit from those stats on top of the benefit of avoidance.

The three Mage specs are each built to focus on a particular stat. Much like Warriors, Fire gets a lot of benefit from crit, as it fuels the Hot Streak proc that really forms the central mechanic of the spec. Arcane is built entirely around its Mastery, which makes the management of Mana not only about having enough to cast your next spell, but also just making sure that you're staying as topped up as you can. Frost, admittedly, has less of a special reason to favor Haste, but the point here is that Blizzard clearly designs these specs around favoring a different secondary stat - it's reflected even in the various Armor spells that they use. The Arcane-flavored Mage Armor increases Mastery, the Fire-flavored Molten Armor grants Crit, and Frost Armor grants Haste.

These days, through enchanting, gemming, and reforging, there's basically an expectation for us to try to squeeze absolutely as much out of that one secondary stat we want as we can.

But this can't really be sustained in the face of the changes coming to us in 6.0. Reforging is going away completely. Likewise, gem sockets will be rarer (though the gems that fill them will be more powerful, so it could balance out.)

Hit and Expertise are going away, but DPS will simply replace them with Readiness and Multistrike (barring further cuts.) Dodge and Parry are also going away, and tanks will start using the same stats as DPS.

Now granted, gear will be more commonly available to us. There will be more gear we can use than there used to be. Really, armor will only be divided between the four armor classes. Rogues will be able to use any kind of Leather. Warriors will be able to use any kind of Plate.

And given that wider availability (and the likelihood of expansion of the LFR-style of loot assignment making competition a non-issue, at least in any automatically-matchmade group,) we may simply have more gear to pick and choose from, and more easily be able to put together a set of gear that emphasizes our preferred secondary stats.

Yet I also feel like this is an opportunity to really look at the value of these stats to various specs and classes. Sure, crit is great for Warriors, but why not make the other stats interesting? For instance, Haste does relatively little for a DPS Warrior, and even less for a Tank - it increases the speed of their auto-attacks, which grants a little Rage (in Battle or Berserker stance,) and might make their Deep Wounds tick more frequently, but it's not nearly enough to compete.

Honestly, though, I'm not a theory crafter, and I realize that in many of these cases, Blizzard doesn't go out of their way to make a stat better or worse. Indeed, Frost Death Knights seem like they ought to like Crit the least, given how Killing Machine devalues it, yet the math (apparently) says that crit's the way to go - even gemming pure crit instead of emphasizing Strength (though one of my upcoming experiments is to switch around my DK's gems to go the strength route and see what effect that has on his DPS, if only because I just don't get how crit is supposed to be so good for them.)

Still, with somewhat less customization in our gear (which is fine, if you ask me,) it would, I think, behoove Blizzard to work on bringing things in line.