Please don’t. A rebuttal to “Please remove reforging”

Expertise. Yeah.

One of the topics that seemed to come up a few times in my reading during the past several weeks has been the idea that Hit Rating and Expertise Rating are essentially redundant – which Matthew Rossi wrote about in October at WoW Insider – and that there may be changes in the future around those two stats.

Of course, any commentary by a developer will bring out all kinds of internet people suggesting drastic changes and issuing ultimatums (for example, “if you don’t ________ I’m going to unsub for good” is a grossly-overused classic). Regarding this topic, “Please remove reforging” is one such sledgehammer-to-the-game suggestion, lifted from a twitter exchange on December 6th between Ghostcrawler and @HunterSalty. I picked it up by reading MMO Champion’s blue tweet highlights on December 28th.*

*Not sure why this came up over three weeks later on MMO-C’s blue tracker, but I digress…

Here is @HunterSalty’s tweet:

@Ghostcrawler @Saraphite Amen. Please remove reforging. Also eliminates need to go to external sites to tell you how exactly to reforge.

For the full exchange, click the link above to see how ping-pongy a conversation can go on Twitter… or, here’s me paraphrasing it:

@Saraphite says: Gemming, reforging, enchanting, upgrading is too much stuff to do.

@Ghostcrawler says: We agree. Back in the day, you wore what you got.

@HunterSalty says: Amen. Remove reforging, etc. (see above)

@Ghostcrawler says: Actually we like reforging except for hit and expertise.

@CM_Zarhym says: Actually, I look forward to getting new gear and reforging between stats and hit/expertise.

@Zarasz says: Many people enjoy it. If it’s not fun for you, don’t do it.

@Ghostcrawler says: Can you explain how reforging is fun? Many players use a spreadsheet to make those decisions.

PING pong. ping PONG.

It’s a real conversation, and yet it’s all over the place. Yes, all of that is too much. No, reforging is fine except for hit/exp. Wait, how do you find it fun?

Wait, Greg Street. “Fun” is a broad term. An extremely broad term. I suppose my answer to your question would be that, on a process level, I like the challenge and process of using what parts and pieces I have available in order to come up with the best possible stat combination for me. And on a meta level, I like that the freedom to do so is available. Is that good enough? I’m not so enamored with mathematical challenges that I feel the same feeling – exhilaration, or whatever – that I feel after a new boss kill; nor am I so in love with the look and feel of Mr. Robot’s website that I just can’t wait to go see if I can use it again. So it’s not fun in that sense. It’s interesting, and it provides satisfaction, and it’s currently a (somewhat passive) part of the recipe for betterment, so I like it from those standpoints. But no, I don’t think to myself, “It’s a beautiful day, I think I’ll go on a reforging binge” or something like that, like pet battles or PvP weekends or chain-running heroics with friends on our alts on New Years Eve.

Yeah, that’s what I did on New Years Eve. It was most definitely a lot of fun.

Anyway… when I started this article on Dec. 28, the GC “fun” tweet hadn’t been made yet, and my thought was “Thank God Ghostcrawler is smart enough to take the ‘absolutes’ that people tell him on Twitter as what they are – individual perspectives.” Now, however, I don’t know what the hell to think. At any rate, I started writing this post, and I intend to finish it, keeping in mind the nature of Twitter conversations and their inherent limitations.

The error of a personal absolute

I find it both amusing and tiring when I see people, both in-game and on the World Wide Webinator, get all upset about reforging. I’ve been thinking about this a lot over the past several days, and for me, it boils down to this: if you play competitively – that is, whether you PvP or raid or Brawl or extreme solo, etc. – you’re min-maxing anyway, shuffling gems and weighing enchant options and deciding which side-grade has slightly better stats for you and whether last tier’s 4-piece is better than this tier’s 2-piece. Reforging further allows you to squeeze as much power as possible from your set of items by refining your available stat pool to knife-edge perfection. And if you’re not playing competitively, then it matters quite a bit less, and you’re probably not working to maximize your output, because it doesn’t matter as much for quests and so on.

This is a generalization, of course.

However, so is “get rid of reforging” – it suggests a thorough hammer-smash treatment for a game feature that someone doesn’t like, even though that feature is something that many people find fun (O.o, see “fun” part above), interesting, and challenging. Reforging has been part of the game for more than two years now, and is as big of a component as gemming and enchanting and gear selection, more or less, to varying degrees.

We wore what dropped

I remember back in Wrath, when (for instance) I would get a new piece of gear that had Crit and Haste on it, and I would have to make a decision about whether to use it in place of something that had Hit and/or Expertise on it. Deciding either way could at times mean that I sat down with a piece of paper and made a diagram of each slot and its secondary stats and sockets, and figured out whether I could swap in enough Hit or Exp gems without losing too much Armor Pen, or whatever, and still have the piece be a DPS upgrade. Now, I didn’t necessarily dislike this process; in fact, stat management has long been one aspect of WoW that I’ve enjoyed over the years.

However, with the advent of reforging in 4.0.1, things changed quickly. It was like the stat world opened up, and a whole new realm of possibilities with it. Instead of building something with only big blocks and small blocks like before, you now had big blocks and small blocks and blocks that you could cut into two pieces so they would fit better, making for better optimization and giving players more choices when it came to setting up their gear.

If we wore what dropped, today

If reforging didn’t exist today, but everything else remained unchanged, the following circumstances would be real and brutal in my own WoW life:

1. My hunter would be way over the Hit cap, and way, way under the Expertise cap. I would subsequently be missing (dodged) a lot and hitting with less power, less frequently, with less chance to crit, due to all of the stat budget wasted on excess Hit Rating.

2. My prot warrior wouldn’t have a chance in hell of even approaching the soft Expertise cap, making active mitigation much more difficult due to the dodges and parries of even quest mobs, and his passive mitigation/avoidance stats would be extremely unbalanced (not enough Mastery and Parry, too much Dodge).

3. My mage would likewise be way under the Hit cap. See above.

Therefore, it’s safe to say that a reversion to reforging being non-existent would require massive changes that would approach the scale of the gear changes that took place in 4.0.1 and Cataclysm.

Possible required changes

(A tip of the hat to my friend Squido, who reminded me of some key points on this issue when I was discussing this post with him last night.)

If reforging were removed from the game, there would have to be big changes to gear, and perhaps to classes, in order to make things work. It’s easy to imagine that – taking for granted that, for instance, most (if not all) DPS specs need to be at either 7.5% Hit/7.5% Exp (physical) or 15% combined Hit/Exp (spell) – stat itemization would have to be adjusted fairly radically in order to ensure that players had a fair chance of meeting caps. And for tanks, there would have to be appropriate amounts of avoidance stats on gear…

Which leads us to an even greater issue: that of class individuality as it relates to both gear and stats. For example, as many people know, different tank specs prioritize different stats. Regarding secondary stats, my warrior prioritizes Hit/Exp to caps > Mastery > twice as much Parry as Dodge, in general. On the other hand, Squido’s paladin looks at stats very differently, with Haste, which is virtually worthless to prot warriors, having some benefit for prot pallies.

In order to make a non-reforging world work as well as a reforging one does, some combination of these changes might have to happen:

1. They homogenize role specs to the point where they value the same stats. “All Agility classes value Crit over Haste,” etc… I can’t imagine how wrong and how utterly boring that would be. That would be a big step in the wrong direction, in my opinion.

2. They make a lot more pieces of gear available from each boss, as well as from Valor Points, etc. in order to cover all of the statistical bases if they don’t homogenize similar role specs. That way, there’s a chance, however minuscule, that the perfect piece will drop for you. Then again, that means every boss will be a loot pinata with a loot table approaching the size of Sha of Anger’s or Argaloth’s or Archavon’s. How many people will have super pissy-fits in that type of situation, due to the fact that, while their piece drops off this boss, it never drops because there are so many things that it could drop that the common drop chance is diluted? I know, right?

3. They put less passive stats and a lot more gem slots on gear, so that each piece has some level of customization, so that those players that don’t get “the perfect piece” (and there will be a lot of those) can still add stats to make up any shortfalls dealt them by RNG while still allowing them to raid competitively.

4. Absent these things, they make bosses “easier” since hardly anyone will have the opportunity to optimize their gear. Or…

5. Absent these things and keeping bosses at current difficulty levels, there is less progression, leading to less raiders, more frustration among the player base, and, eventually, lower subscriber numbers, due to a massive design downgrade.

Ghostcrawler obviously understands this, and so it’s likely that whatever solution he and his team working on won’t be a knee-jerk, hammer-smash change that certain people in the Internet think will be just jolly-good-fine. At least, I hope that’s the case…

Choice

As a side note…

Contrary to the beliefs of some, reforging does allow for choice, even if that choice can be stunted by the need to meet caps for Hit and Expertise.

Jasyla has written about how she doesn’t max out her Spirit on her resto druid, preferring to enjoy the mana management game and concentrate on throughput, whereas many healers I know of are loading up on Spirit like going-out-of-business Twinkies.

Tanks can choose to maximize Hit and Exp to smooth out their mitigation rotations, or they can take a walk on the wild side and max out their passive mitigation stats and ride the spike-damage coaster.

Certain DPS classes can prioritize Crit over Haste, or Haste over Crit, with little difference in results but a big difference in playstyle.

So there is choice, within limits, and it’s not quite as contingent on that next gear drop like it was before.

“Eliminates the need to go to external sites…”

Let’s do a little Q&A…

Q: How many classes have best-in-slot gear lists and rotation/priority advice written about them on blogs and forums for each patch?

A: Come on, really? All of them. In spades.

So yes, if reforging were removed, people wouldn’t have to go to the Internet to reforge, logically. I’ll give you that. But they’d been going to blogs and forums and sims and podcasts for several years before reforging was available. WoW is a game where many people spend a lot of time on the game outside of the game, and it’s been that way for a long time. So it won’t stop if reforging is removed.

In fact, with reforging removed, gear lists – both their sizes and their viewership – would likely go through the roof, along with gemming strategies and other related topics, because of #2 in the above section on Possible required changes. So if there’s a “problem” with people going outside the game for information – which is, by this point, a time-honored tradition – then getting rid of reforging will certainly not “fix” it.

Closing

I just don’t see how reforging is so bad that it needs to be removed. I don’t think that most of the progression raiding/PvP playerbase thinks that way, either. Maybe I’m completely wrong. If so, then I’ll just be wrong.

There may indeed be changes on the distant horizon with regard to Hit and Expertise, and when the time comes, I’m interested to see how they solve their perceived issues with it. But I don’t think reforging is the problem. Hit and Expertise are the problem. (Edited for poorly used quotes, etc.)

I see reforging as a very valuable tool that’s preferable to what came before, and I also think that it helps to smooth out some of the RNG issues that, while still frustrating, can be mitigated to a certain extent through “stat-swapping.” I was happy when it arrived, and I don’t want to go back to when it wasn’t.

- – -

Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!

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12 Comments on “Please don’t. A rebuttal to “Please remove reforging””

  1. Jaeger says:

    Agreed.

    I find Reforging to be a slight annoyance, but only because of Hit/Exp caps. Because of the caps, I just use the ReforgeLite addon and let it handle the optimization for me.

    I’d say just give everyone the 7.5%/15% cap they need and let us focus on the other stats.

    I really like your gemming idea though. I think gear should only have basic stats and everything else comes from gems and enchants. Plate is Plate, Mail is Mail, a Sword is a Sword, etc. You gem/enchant it as needed for your class/spec.

    • Mushan says:

      I’ve often used Mr. Robot for a basic reforge, but since, according to the blog, there are many different “best” options, there have been many times I’ve disliked their result and instead done it myself, which I don’t mind doing at all. Never used ReforgeLite, but my girlfriend (who raids at a higher level than I do) uses it all the time and loves it.

      We may see a future where Hit/Exp becomes a given, indeed. We’ll see when they start making changes public in the “Post-Garrosh Azeroth” expansion beta!

      Thanks, Jaeger. :)

      • Chrystie says:

        I’m curious as to your opinion on the concept of “consequence” currently in the game, a la glyphs, regarding balancing around hit/expertise. Would secondary stat choices still be as meaningful?

  2. You’ve made me a lot more sympathetic to reforging with this post; I was pretty anti before I read it. Thanks for the new perspective. :)

    I wonder how much of the upset over reforging is about 1) what a pain in the ass and a waste of time reforging is, period, end of sentence(.), and how much is about 2) what a pain it is specifically to have to reforge between raid fights. How many objections to the existence of reforging would be dropped if there were the rough equivalent of an Expensive Mammoth of Convenient Selling of Grey Items or a Jeeves that could be used to reforge on the fly?

    • Mushan says:

      Wow, I’m glad I could give the perspective! Thanks, Rfeann. :)

      I’d be all over a transmog/reforge mammoth or a little Ethereal dude that could be used like Jeeves in raids (or ‘out and about’ for that matter). You could have your reforge macros ready, change your setup, presto! I’ve got the gold, Blizz. Ready to pay.

    • Kaliy says:

      There is. The new Yak lets you reforge. However, you have to leave the raid for that and the new raids don’t have portals (instead they teleport you to checkpoints when you enter) which means you have to run aaaaall the way back to the start to reforge if you change spec.

  3. Reforging is great.
    I like to be able to squeeze as much use from a collection of items as possible.
    How something behaves is important.
    If you want to remove something, remove transmogrification.
    How something looks is not important.

  4. Nyxrinne says:

    The anti-reforging crowd seem to put a lot of weight on the idea that it’s a joy to win a piece and equip it right away. The simplicity and immediacy of that is supposed to outstrip all else.

    I find myself highly suspicious of this automatically because the last time I recall equipping stuff without deep thought was in classic. It was in classic that I failed my level 10 rogue quest over and over because I kept right-clicking a mob to pick-pocket it, and it was also in classic that I sold my trousers to buy a cat with a saddle on it, because cat with a saddle on it.

    Stats have evolved since then, the average player is better far better informed about how to optimise their character, and I feel the calls for reforging to be removed are just an attempt to superimpose old simplicity over what is an enjoyably complex system. Is system the right word? I don’t know, it’s late, and I’m only going to be echoing your consideration of what such a change would mean as things stand. (Thank you for writing that section in particular!)

    I definitely understand the desire to have hit and expertise caps cut, because those are such negative stats: make sure you -don’t- miss, as opposed to -adding- to your character’s strengths. But cutting reforging perplexes me. I like flexibility. I like the limitation of annoyance when an upgrade drops and it sports one of my weaker stats. How is more tiresome to port to a city and reforge than to put up with a subpar stat you can’t cut into at all? (I guess that part’s subjective, just like fun.)

  5. Bristal says:

    If someone can build a website that tells me exactly how to reforge for my spec, why can’t Blizz just auto reforge my gear based on my current spec? Avoids Blizz having to create so much gear, and the pointless mental masturbation required of all those people to create stat weights, etc.

    Then, for über raiders and chronic, OCD mental masturbators, make manual reforging situationally helpful for individual challenge bosses, and heroic raid bosses. People who want to can tinker to their hearts content and blog about it, the rest of us can read about it and then just push the button that says “ideal for current spec”. And if they succeed in making it suitably complex enough, the likelihood of “generic best reforge for boss X” being published is low.

  6. […] Mushan, Etc.: Please don’t. A rebuttal to “Please remove reforging” […]


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