9.2 Tier Sets. Power and Acquisition

The intent of this post is to get some insight on the upcoming patch and what the plans are with player power and gear acquisition.

Player Power

We’ll be leaving Shards of Domination behind and acquiring Tier sets and a 2nd legendary as we venture into 9.2.

Shards of Domination provided an insane amount of player power, more than we’ve pretty much ever had in a single patch system and as soon as we enter the next season of content it’s all gone. 10-15% of player power just removed. The replacement is Tier Sets which we’ll have to work towards and a 2nd legendary which has a wildly varying amount of power.

One of these legendaries is covenant locked which means players who want to optimise will no longer have freedom of expression in that regard as it’s not just covenant, its covenant + legendary. Some covenant legendaries provide utility, minimal power gains and some have huge synergies with the ability. There is a clear imbalance that has yet to be resolved from 9.1. Some work has been done, but we’re still a good way off from this expansion level system reaching its potential (in the final patch?).

If additional data is needed on this front I’m sure we can work to get data from various Theory players to support it.

The feeling from a pure numeric perspective is going to feel quite bad for the player. You go from doing say 11k DPS in 9.1.5 to doing 9.5k in 9.2. Your character is progressing through the expansion story and getting weaker. It just doesn’t feel right.

Acquisition

Tokens vs Armor Drops

Let’s take a bit of a deeper dive into the Tier sets. We have yet to see how they are acquired. The last time we had Tier sets we had Master Looter and Tokens.

When Master Looter was used you had tokens that you could freely distribute.
When Personal Loot was used you just received the armor piece.

I sincerely hope that we will have tokens as drops that you can click to turn into the armor (rather than auto-opening as it did with Personal Loot in Legion) else we’re going to have very awkward scenarios again where say if you are the only rogue in a raid team, you are the only chance of getting the gear.

During Legion (with Master Looter enabled) tokens dropped in the following arrangement:

Type Classes
Conqueror Paladin, Priest, Warlock, Demon Hunter
Protector Warrior, Hunter, Shaman, Monk
Vanquisher Rogue, Death Knight, Mage, Druid

So in this scenario, the rogue could get their Tier bonus from other DKs, Mages and Druids.

Loot Amounts

With Shadowlands we have seen the rate of gear acquisition reduced however with Tier as this represents such a huge power spike for people which they will desire and I’d very strongly argue need for their raid/pvp/M+ progression is this fair to lock behind the limitations we had so far this expansion?

Tier dropped as extra pieces of loot before when Master Looter was enabled so you would suffer from bad RnG which is the case for a lot of things this expansion (looking at you Painsmith Weapons). Whilst loot philosophy for this expansion at least was that the power gains are greater from each item therefore less are required to achieve the same end result as having more drops I don’t feel this should be extended towards Tier pieces as they’re such a core piece.

I know there’s a system in place to Convert items from M+/PvP into Tier pieces but this has yet to see the light on PTR yet. Is it possible to get more information on how this works? Does it require a certain amount of activity on Zereth Mortis?

Additionally, we previously had 6 slots of Tier to mix and match with before to obtain the bonuses faster however on the PTR this looks to be locked to 5. Is this going to expand to 6?

Armor Slots

Quite a few legendaries are only able to be crafted on slots that conflict with Tier. Players have had to recraft legendaries each Patch already and as some Legendaries conflict with all potential Tier slots this means that if you loot a Tier piece in your Legendary slot you have a choice:

  1. Spend a lot of gold and recraft the legendary (potentially multiple times) to get the Tier Bonus
  2. Not use the Tier bonus as you simply cannot afford to.
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We’ve just posted an outline of several aspects of these issues that we’re updating in the PTR soon.

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Awesome to see this! I’m especially excited for the change to use tokens.

Will they use the same class allocation as previous tokens, or a new allocation?

Firstly. Great communication. Keep stuff like this coming. It really helps build trust and confidence.

With regards to the creation catalyst I feel that introducing it that late makes it a bit of a non starter of a system and more of a catch up mechanism rather than an bad luck protecting one?

8 weeks in. Most if not all players who are actively progressing will have their tier sorted. The players who have not at this point are likely gonna quit as it’s a major competitive power loss (as was not getting domination shards this tier).

Whilst it’s fantastic for alts and returning players I’d hate for this system to be tainted with a late start and forever stained.

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After hearing some of the extra info around these tokens, why is tier not going to be tradable?

If a player has their 4 set already, and an appropriate ilvl 5th slot, and that 5th slot drops, they wont be able to trade it? Why? That 5th slot is “technically” useless to you as a player, but your guildie on 3 piece set and needs the one you just got but it can’t be traded to them?

It just doesn’t make sense to me, would love to hear some dev thoughts on the system and why this is the way to go with tier, especially with the Creation Catalyst taking so long to activate.

On the note of the catalyst, if its primarily intended as a catch up mechanic, and not bad luck protection, fine. Its a good system for alts, and doesn’t incentivize stacking cosmic flux and not upgrading legendaries on mains. That’s good.
If its intended as bad luck protection, I think 8 weeks is too long.

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It says in the forum post that it is intended as a catchup mechanism. Catchup in this case would also apply to bad luck protection, if you have been really unlucky and are missing something by week 8, you would be ‘catching up’ if you are missing some pieces.

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The catchup mechanism aspect is with regards to the Global recharge timer. Which will still be the case if introduced earlier.

My gripe is here, if you’re 8 weeks in and you’re in for every boss with Tokens this scenario is so insanely unlikely. If you look at Sanctum this was not the case this far into the tier and it had arguably the worst acquisition system of all time.

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If you do organised raiding with a guild, then I’m sure it’s true that it’s very unlikely not to have your entire set. Not all players play like that, though. If you are more casual in your approach and mostly raid through pugs, or if you aren’t able to play every week, then this system would allow you to fill in the slots you are missing.

From the way I read the post, it doesn’t look like the system is intended to fill in your gear slots from the start, or even the first few weeks of the raid season, but instead mostly caters to players who, for one reason or another, is late to the tier set party.

(Although I do agree that 8 weeks might be a bit much.)

There are a few issues with the way we’re hearing tier trading will work. It will have two parts. I’m not sure if this can be touched on more or discussed?

  1. You need to have had a set pieced of that slot equipped
  2. You need a piece in that slot if equal to or greater ilvl(current)

So we tacked on an additional requirement for trading tier. There are assumptions as to why(Once week 8 rolls around the first requirement becomes “less” of a requirement and almost passive), and that’s leaning towards stopping split runs or giving players less reason to run splits.

The first problem I already see happening in the circles that I reside in is that splitting still isn’t going to go away, and even if it did this just causes issues for players at the highest level due to these barriers. For example lets say you have say 2 of a class, one class gets their 4pc sooner than another is currently upwards of 15%+ dps gains. Even with the more moderate goal of 10%(Although multiple classes right now are upwards of 15-20%) for every 2+4 set 10% is still a huge number and people will get sat based on this almost identical to how domination shards played out on the HoF raiders during SoD. This basically leaves me as a raider leader a choice, do I take the player that is “better” mechanically but does 10% less damage than his competition due to totally random loot drops, or do I take the one that just does more damage. In most instances people are just going to take the player that does the most damage, especially considering the gap between players isn’t as significant.

By making trading harder it’s going to make unlucky players feel terrible. Having to wait 2, 3, or 4 weeks to obtain a 4pc that all depends on luck with no way for a player to do more outside of 3 PvP weekly boxes, 3 M+ weekly bosses, and raid clears and hoping for a huge drop. Instead of us having the option to trade normal tier pieces to a class that it’s much stronger for, which is an unfortunate reality of DPS in WoW, we are now in a much worse position if for example our healers, and our tanks are the ones who decide to get crazy lucky getting their 4 set insanely quickly. I’d much rather my DPS gain 10-15% than a tank gaining 5-10%.

Tier Tokens worked very well with ML, because it allowed as a team to help push your raid ahead by giving the classes that had the biggest upgrades their tier first. Tier tokens would work well with PL as well to an extent because you could go into normal and help get tier pieces on classes who either got very unlucky or try and rush 4pc on someone who it’s very powerful for. But it’s going to feel bad when you get unlucky, and you feel there are “consequences” to being unlucky and there’s nothing your team can do to help get tier on each other faster.

The catalyst system also won’t help this as early progression is a staple of Mythic raiding. The first weeks are crucial in setting the pace for the entire tier.

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Some answers!!

I genuinely hope that after you have 4pieces you are able to trade the other 1/2(?) pieces because it would once again lead to a lot of loot being wasted.
There is no benefit whatsoever of equipping more than 4 other than a flat ilvl upgrade on a slot when I could help a guildie get their 4piece instead. It would feel extra bad if you already have a higher ilvl in the extra slot(s) but still aren’t allowed to trade them.

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It’s probably a systems thing, but I completely agree. Getting a 5th piece that someone else needs and you can’t trade just feels terrible. Liquid (former Limit) Maximum was talking about it on his stream the other day, how it just doesn’t feel good for anyone.

Players want to succeed and kill bosses. Yes this is a generalization, but true none-the-less. There is no satisfaction in this that I can see - at any level.

In addition to all that, the class distribution of the sets doesn’t make much sense from an accessibility standpoint. I understand if there are some lore related reasons, but having Mage, Druid, Hunter share a token, when they are 3 of the most played classes in the game? Those tokens will be more contested than the DK, DH, Warlock token, for example.

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I feel like letting people trade it causes zero problems it really should be allowed

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Looking at the Creation Catalyst specifically. I’m worried that it’s not clear as to what it does and the cooldown of it.

Right now there’s no real indication of a cooldown and a player may be inclined to upgrade their lowest value piece (non-tier) into one with better stats to then have it have a perceived level of value.

This can then lead to scenarios where a player is missing out on tier because the tier crafting system allows you to not craft tier pieces.

Also, as has been mentioned many times before. Acquisition of tier and the purpose of the Creation Catalyst. For myself, this serves as a way for me to upgrade my Heroic/Normal pieces to Mythic ones with bad vault RNG, and to obtain transmog to complete tier sets. Maybe I’m not the demographic of the system but it feels kind of flat?

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In this new Wowhead article, its been discovered that the final bosses tier drops are at a higher ilvl than the rest of the raid.

Can we get some clarification on if these pieces will be tradeable following the same or different rules?

I think especially in high end groups who have already been asking for fully tradable tier gear, but also normal/heroic only groups this will be a bad system if its not tradable because of the 7 ilvl difference.

In my experience and in my circles, the goal is always to help the raid group. Having a player loot a tier piece as bonus loot on an early boss, or in their vault, only to get the same slot on a 7 ilvl higher token and it not be tradable to a member of their group without the slot filled yet just won’t be fun.

I’ll concede one thing about tier set trading, if you want to keep the rule of not trading the first piece of tier gear, fine. But please allow us to trade higher ilvl tier, and more importantly, the 5th, useless piece to members of our group who need it.

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Let’s play through a realistic hypothetical scenario for many guilds out there. You’re progressing through Heroic Sepulcher at a reasonable pace to achieve Ahead of the Curve.

You loot a pair of shoulders from M+ and upgrade it as you’re 1.8k M+ score. This gets you to Heroic item level and you make tier shoulders to get your 4 set bonus. You finally kill Heroic Lords of Dread and loot a pair of tier shoulders and bam, you can’t trade them. You have the heroic counterpart of this already.

This hypothetical scenario will also play out for Mythic but there’s no amount of Vault RNG or gear upgrading you can do through PvP/M+ to outplay this.

It’s the same problems from Sanctum with Domination pieces repeated :expressionless:

Two issues here:

  • Gear trading as a concept is changed fundamentally with no in-game way of knowing how this works as it’s expressed purely via external communications (should a player have to be constantly up to date with third party resources to know how the game works)
  • It’s arbitrarily restricted. If there’s a clear reason for this that is good for the health of the game, sure. But if it’s just to curb the RWF progression then it is not good. Those players will do whatever they can to get an advantage. The entire player base shouldn’t be at a disadvantage just because of a group of ~100 people.

Now let’s go a step further, legendary recrafting. There are legendaries that are still only available in tier slots Qa’pla, Eredun War Order for example and players may find themselves in a situation where they will opt to recraft these based on what tier items they have.

Legendaries aren’t getting cheaper and you can be priced out of simply equipping your 4 piece bonus. It’s insane this has yet to be addressed in any capacity.

Two issues here:

  • Legendaries cost wayyyyyyyyyyyyyy too much and it’s not siphoning gold out of the economy in any meaningful way. It’s transferring gold between players.
  • Legendary crafting slots are restricted for no meaningful purpose. Unity being available in every slot is a clear indicator that there’s no thematic purpose for legendaries to be on certain slots.
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To add more on this first point about Valor upgrading for Tier combinations.

Valor is a weekly capped currency during progression so this will cause even more choice paralysis over what you will spend your Valor on, and can lead people to be overwhelmed by that choice and not spending it at all as there are so many ways to spend it “wrong”.

There’s no incentive to be a team player here. You have to be selfish.

Take for example this hypothetical: It’s Thursday, you have a boss coming up that you need just a little bit more damage on, so you spend your Valor to upgrade your worst piece. It’s the best thing you can get right now but now you’ve opened up the chance that next week it’s wasted or bricks your vault or even worse in some cases because of the Ilvl variance you can’t even trade what you get thereafter.

Two potential solutions here:

  • Some kind of Valor refund when you break your upgraded item.
  • Uncapping Valor.
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Would work the same way for PvP if they just uncapped Conquest and Honor it would solve almost all the gearing problems people are having and actually let the people play the game

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With the top guilds in the world finishing up their splits, we’ve seen plenty about how the loot system has worked. Needless to say… it’s not great. In addition to that, we still don’t have a heroic jailer kill in the world because no one feels its worth their time. Could we actually see Mythic Jailer go down before heroic?

I was scrolling twitter this morning and saw one of the best ideas about the jailer yet, from Xerwo, a raider in Echo.

A token like this would mean needing a vendor for the tokens, but I think that’s ok. Still lock it to the class groups as they already are, but it would 1 extra chance to fill any slot, and make looting the Jailer MUCH more valuable. It’s not too late to implement this. Only a few guilds have killed normal Jailer so far anyway, and it could be added to the loot table 1-2 weeks after the boss is released. And be a fantastic addition to the loot table, after we’ve seen the lengths the top guilds went through to get their sets.

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With the race to WF done there should be no reason we have to wait until the 12th for the Creation Catalyst to release. There are thousands of players doing everything they can to get a piece of tier only to come up empty handed as the RNG can be a bit of a pain.

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