Skill and gear: Who’s myth is really being debunked?

Skill vs gear. Its one of the oldest and most discussed topics amongst WoW players. Its up there with “casual vs hardcore” ™  as one of the favourite things WoW players like to argue about amongst themselves. Its like one of the biggest philosophical questions we ask to each other, who cares about the meaning of life: Is it gear or is it skill that is most important?

Gevlon have over the last week been working on a series of post where he tries to really debunk the issue of gear entirely when it comes to raiding. First, he gets a 10 man group together, gets them all in blues and does Ulduar 10. He then goes to argue how this accomplishment proves that gear is only an amplifier for existing skill, and by not any means a prerequisite of progress. In such it cannot be used as an excuse for failing, ever again. Its easier to gain skill then gear, and the ultimate solution is then to buy your way into trialist spots.

The Greedy Goblins contentious writing style has already been well commented this week by Tobold, but this time I will let myself be provoked. I am bated, cause I have been engaged by this age-old gear vs skill debate. Mostly, cause I am not sure who Gevlon is arguing against.

Who is actually saying that gear matters more then skill? Who is fronting the war of stats and pixels over experience and knowledge? I haven’t seen any.

In over 4 years of playing and studying this game – I have never once heard anyone saying that gear is more important then skill. Gear used as an excuse to exclude/include someone in a group, sure. Gear used as an excuse for lack of progress, sure. Gear used as filter when looking at applications, sure. But, when confronted with it, someone actually saying ” gear > skill ” – no way!  Gevlon seems to be knocking in open doors.

What I have heard alot of, is people complaining about the skill level of others. Complaining cause other players are not approaching the game with the same mentality as they do. Gevlon has neatly labeled everyone who don’t treat the game with an instrumental approach of reaching goals, critical learning and effectiveness as M&S (morons&slackers).

The argument that skill > gear seems more then anything to be a desire to prove to this M&S group (also referred to as casual players or socials) that they are failing at the game because they don’t have the skill set, and gear will not help with that. To Gevlon they are failing cause they don’t read Elitist Jerks, they are failing cause they cant do more then 1500 dps, they are failing cause they are standing in the fire. Its an argument towards as group of players, who simply bring a different set of ideals and values when they engage with the game. An argument for them to play like him.

Its valid enough to encourage and motivate others to approach the game the same way as you, but is that really relevant in the gear vs skill debate? It sounds more like a hardcore vs casual debate to me. After all, the main argument is that if you approach the game in a hardcore way (defined by reading strategies, theorycrafting, min maxing the potential of the character, doing boring tasks like rep or money farm in order to get benefits) you will have the skill necessary to succeed. Gear is after all irrelevant, is it not?

    7 thoughts on “Skill and gear: Who’s myth is really being debunked?

    1. I’m trying not to play anymore, but the only reason we refuse recruits based on gear is if we need someone immediately. If you are going to go straight into a group working on hardmodes, you need the gear to be useful. Spending 2 weeks gearing up someone who just might have what it takes, but most likely don’t, isn’t an option. Gear is far from irrelevant when it comes to performance, it would be quite ridiculous if it was, since the incentive to gear up would be gone :)

      Skill is one of the most vaguely defined aspects of WoW. It’s got more diverse meanings than just about anything else. To me skill in wow has to do with perception, anticipation and adaptation in an encounter. The ability to perform reliably and learn quickly is far more important than having strategic knowledge beforehand and 140k gold in your bank. And this is where the biggest differences is between the “hardcore” players. Those who need 2 tries to “get” an encounter vs those who need 10. The dps’ers who can mostly stand still, vs those who constantly need to move. The tank who will immediately know how to best move a mob, or get it before it hits someone a few times, even in chaotic situations. Etc.

    2. Just want to point out that I wasnt trying to say that gear is irrelevant, I think gear is a critical element of the game!
      What I am saying is that taking someone with great gear who acts and plays like a 2 year old, is out of the question. However, you might be willing to consider a undergeared player who seem to know his/her stuff. In such I see skill as greater then gear. Though in most cases its more a skill < -> gear aka. they co produce each other: without gear or skill its unlikely that a player get to progress through the game to develop both.

      I totally agree on the “Skill is one of the most vaguely defined aspects of WoW”.
      I remember speaking to you several years ago and you mentioned EJ. At the time you were raiding Naxx and I was just considering getting my guild to try Molten Core. EJ was actually elitist then. It was only a select group that cared for that stuff. Now, any classrelated questions in general gets answered with “l2 read EJ noob!” (or variations thereof). Skill is not only poorly defined in WoW, its what it once was.

      Was planning to make a follow up post called “The myth of skill”, perhaps ill get a chance to type it up tonight :)

    3. No, I totally agree on the relevance between skill and gear. We often recruit undergeared people if they aren’t needed right away, specially if they are friends of excisting members and they can vouch for them. Skill is way more important than gear, but at the end of the day, you need both to be useful :)

      In the start, the amount of decent raiding guilds were pretty much limited to people with previous experience from MMO or other competetive games. Almost all our members when we started raiding MC was people from various Quake clans, RTCW/ET or even as far back as UO, mostly Norwegians. Most of the other well known guilds came over directly from DAOC or EQ raids. It was pretty much amature night compared to now. Blizzard have worked hard to open up the raiding game for the public and they have succeeded to a large degree. I think it’s good, but then I don’t care that much for the elitist part anymore :D

      I’m only playing drums in guitar hero atm, now THAT takes skill! :D

    4. What be driving me nuts in Gevlon’s posts is his lumping of everything what ain’t gear into a single “got skill” category. Knowing not to stand in the fire, reading EJ, being able ta whump the freak outta a target dummy, making enough gold on the AH fer ta rent a slot in a raid and be carried along by thems what progressed up fer they’s slots, keeping drama to a minimum, being able ta clear the instance in yer sleep ’cause ya done it every week fer months – that’s all one thing, far as he’s concerned. If ya know one, then ya knows them all, and you have “skill”. Some of us is able fer ta distinguish between these things, but I guess we’s all just morons and slackers fer trying ta point out where he gets it wrong.

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