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Off-Spec Loot and what it means for LFR

Blizzard has announced and began implementing into the Patch 5.3 PTR a new feature called Loot Specialization. This new feature essentially allows players to enter into an instance(such as a LFR instance) and opt to receive loot for a particular specialization other than the specilization you’re currently in. As an example, if I was a Mistweaver Monk entering into an LFR, originally I would receive leather gear with Intellect and Spirit. In the current patch 5.3 I would be able to enter into a LFR as Mistweaver, but I can opt to receive leather gear with Agility and Stamina, as if I was Windwalker DPS or Brewmaster Tank. A great change right? Maybe, but we have some concerns…

First let’s look at the positives. This could be a fantastic way of gearing up a player for a different specialization and different play style other than the one you’re currently playing. Players that may have only DPSed on their characters previously will be able to select their chosen off-spec gear i.e healing. Gear can often be a significant hurdle when becoming a successful new Tank or Healer, and this change should ease that transition somewhat. This off-loot specialization option will even be implemented for quests, so even while questing you can choose to gear as a healer in preparation.

We here at HealingWoW are all for more players seeing the light and coming over to the healing side! We are also stoked that there may be more Tanks in the game for us to heal. This should mean faster queue times and we all love faster queue times. But we can’t help but see the negative possibilities with this change.

Have I missed something?

I may have missed something with this change, but I can’t see how this new option won’t be abused, as most other WoW systems have been in the past. Item level requirements for Heroics and Looking for Raid in it’s current form looks at your average item level of all items that you own, not necessarily your spec-matching items, and not even those equipped. Once you reach an average item level appropriate you’re allowed to queue for dungeons and raids for that item level, but it doesn’t appear to matter if your spec matches that gear, or if you’re even wearing that gear, it just need to be in your bags(if I’m not wrong).

Now, with the limited amount of ‘normal’ dungeons before max level and the strong focus on questing in Mists of Pandaria, a lot of players are most likely going to be levelling as a DPS spec before hitting Scenarios or Heroics. This is because we believe there isn’t enough healing content during levelling(which we have previously covered and you can read about here). So let’s say you’ve levelled up and geared yourself as DPS, you’ve reached your 440 Item Level and you’re ready for Heroics. You hit heroics and gear up to the required 460 Item Level as DPS. Cool, no problems.

Here’s where it gets tricky.

I’m a DPS spec, I want DPS gear, but I don’t want DPS queues. Now with the new option, I can queue for LFR as a Tank or Healer, get a fast queue, but choose my DPS spec as my “off-spec”. Now I’ve got a fast queue and I will enter the LFR and either be a non-contributing, weak healer and get carried by others. Or once I’m in the LFR as a “healer” I’ll just switch spec, DPS the boss and the other healers can suffer while they carry me. Yes, this could cause my fellow raiders to kick me after the fight, but by then it’s too late because loot has dropped, I’ve got what I wanted and being kicked won’t stop me from queueing all over again.

It could also work in the opposite if you want to look at it that way, although there’s not much reason to do it. You could queue as DPS and heal instead. This would in turn decrease the amount of damage the raid is putting out and cause raids to reach enrage timers and possibly eventually wipe. Either way, you’re being carried.

Both of the above situations can be achieved in LFR in it’s current form already, however we believe this new off-spec loot option may give players incentive to abuse the system because they can now select the type of loot they want.

Imagine if this was on the latest LFR content. Say the 5.4 raid, whatever that may be. You’re sitting in an unfinished raid and you constantly end up with undergeared “healers” who are simply there for DPS loot via the off-spec option. Could you stand even more yelling in LFR to the sounds of “OMG your healing gear is terrible!” or “you’re just here for the off-spec loot!”.

Other problems that could arise.

Some players around the community are also saying that it could cause other problems. Some view Tanking and Healing as such a stressful and pressured role, that if those players can enter into LFR as DPS(with less pressure) but continue to get gear for the role they prefer playing with guildies, then DPS queues could get longer. If you can get Tank gear without being yelled at by the rest of the Raid, then why would you Tank?

Another problem we see is experience and skill levels. With each tier of raiding, the mechanics and the bosses are getting harder. Compare the Stone Guards to Lei Shen. Even Sha of Fear to Lei Shen. Lei Shen’s mechanics are pretty unforgiving when it comes to making mistakes. But essentially, with this new feature, you could gear up as DPS(with Heal-specced off-spec-loot) all the way through the Intro Raids(MSV, HoF and ToES and even early ToT) and suddenly decide to Heal some of Throne of Thunder encounters. All of a sudden the raid has a fully geared Healer who has no idea how to play their class.

Honestly, we see where this change is meant to improve gameplay. It’s highly appreciated by us healers because we roll almost exclusively as a Healer on all our characters and still have questing greens for our dailies and scenarios. Being able to get off-spec pieces is a welcome change, but we just can’t see how this new feature won’t be abused.

Is there a solution?

What do you think? Should item level requirements be based on “on-spec” loot that is currently equipped? Should spec-switching be turned off once you’ve entered the LFR? What other issues could this new change cause? Do you have any solutions? Or are you just so excited about this change and can’t wait for it to be implemented? Let us know in the comments below.

Originally published on April 26th, 2013 by on HealingWoW.com, Last modified: in the News category/s.

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