Numbers make me nervous, you know. However, numbers are great for helping you understand stuff, like how good your gear is. That’s why Gear Score became as popular as it undoubtedly is (until people twigged it was slowing down their machines’ performance): a simple number told people what you’d done and where you’d been. Like it or not, it simplified a lot of processes. Hell, even Blizzard introduced a way of checking the iLevel of your gear in game, if there was any confusion as to the significance. We all know however that Best in Slot is not necessarily the highest iLevel item. I’ve seen enough fights about ToTC 25 trinkets to be able to tell you that the best gear is not always the most current.

I periodically do an average iLevel check using PuG Checker. After a swift ICC25 on P this morning collapsed, but left me with Zod’s Repeating Longbow, I thought it was high time I did a recheck. The results were a bit of a surprise.

P: 254.38
W: 253.06
M (Druid): 244.50
K: 243.35
M (Shaman): 242.59
G: 235.82
M (Rogue): 227.18

On this list four alts have seen inside ICC: Hunter #1, Lock, Druid and Shaman, yet the percentage scores across the seven 80’s are far closer than I’d expect would have been possible a year ago. The rogue is ample proof if it were needed that running five mans alone is more than capable of gearing you to a decent standard to attempt any ten man raid. The Druid’s not seen a single piece of ICC loot but got lucky with VoA, as has the Mage, and those key pieces of loot help to close the gaps. If it were possible with enough hours in the day (and more skill than I possess) I could, I suppose, raid them all. That certainly wasn’t the case come the end of TBC. A great deal has changed with the Elbow Loots and VoA’s weekly raids.

So, I find myself thinking towards Cataclysm, and wondering where the benchmark will be set. Blizzard have already stated that starter raids will be completable in Cataclysm Blues (which was the case last time around with Naxx) The speed at which the Hardcores cleared Naxx 25, most of them without a single Outland Blue to their name, makes me wonder whether this time around there will be an even smaller disparity between the high-end heroic gears and the starter Expansion gears. With seven 80’s in the Family (plus at least a priest who’ll get there for the Professions) is it worth making sure everyone is geared now to a standard that makes them easier to level fast come the Expansion, or is it time to draw a line?

 Yes, it may be the Devil’s Addon, but Gearscore has changed the way we look at our armour.

I reckon an average iLevel of 240 or above is going to be more than sufficient to send those alts who possess it through Cataclysm without too much of a problem. iLevel 245 (25 Man Normal Trial of the Crusader) feels like a decent level to be aiming at, and although very few of that kind of raid run currently, I’m seeing an increase across my Server, especially at weekends. The trinkets particularly are attractive for people and there’s a very decent range that drop there (decent enough for ninja-ing to be on the rise) As it’s possible to get a full set of Tier 9 without ever seeing the Coliseum people are now looking for the upgrade tokens too, as the legs/hands for these sets are still grabbable in VoA (most PuG’s do Frost + Fire boss before imploding) If you’re fastidious with your Daily Random there’s enough pieces of 264 purchasable gear to make up the shortfall created if you don’t do ICC.

This means of course that two members of the family are geared and ready. Three more, thanks in the main to VoA and rotating my dailies, are pretty much there too. I have to say I’m impressed at the changes that gear choices have bought to the game, and with a bit of thought across the Summer months I reckon everyone can be geared and prepared for Cataclysm, whenever it finally hits us. You just need a bit of thought and some planning, and of course a healthy does of luck when it comes to the Random Number Generator…

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