Home > In which vel rants > Average iLevel, worse than gearscore?

Average iLevel, worse than gearscore?

Sorry about the quietness for a week, I like everyone else has been getting wrapped up in cataclysm, and what a breath of fresh air it is! Blizzard has hit the with almost everything in cataclysm. But today I’ve decided I’m going to talk about one place I feel they haven’t hit the mark. In fact I feel they’re way of.

The average item level UI

Today I’m going to talk about a part of the blizzard stock UI, average ilevel, and compare it with its community counterpart, and in all likely hood inspiration, gearscore. First of all lets compare both of these.

Average ilevel takes both equipped gear and gear in your bags (I believe its only your highest ilevel, usable gear), and calculates a straight out average of your gear to provide a metric to assess a players gear.

Gearscore takes only your equipped gear, and calculates a score based on ilevel, which slot the gear is in, and its rarity. It then adds all these scores together to provide a metric to assess a players gear.

Both do fairly similar things, both provide a metric for accessing a characters gear, although both do it a slightly different manner to each other. Many people upon seeing average ilevel in game will almost immediately amuse its superior than gearscore because blizzard made it, and blizzard support it, and so on. But lets stop for a moment and assess the metrics they provide, and which is potentially better/worse, but before we get to deep into this, lets have a look at how the stats on a item are decided, to give this some context.

The stats on a item are determined by  a set process. First of all the budget is calculated, this is determined by 3 things, its ilevel, slot and rarity. Once we have this budget stats go on the piece of gear, each stat has a cost per point, a lot of this hasn’t been fully worked out (or has changed since being worked out), and is in need of being updated, but the basic theory is still there. For further reading I suggest wowpedias article on it.

Comparing metrics
Average ilevel provides a easy to understand metric. “Average ilevel 333? Oh those drop from normals, he’s ready for heroics”, with a little bit of knowledge you can, with some ease, easily figure out what they are capable of running. It also highlights with easy the stupidity of asking for a high ilevel for a lower instance. Imagine people asking for average ilevel 250 for naxx in wotlk. Its an intuitive mentric to understand.

Accounting for gear in someones bags is both a help and a hindrance. If you queue as both a healer and a dps, but your dps set isn’t quite as geared, it doesn’t care. But on the flip side, If I’m putting together a group, I don’t care if your ilevel 350, if that average is brought up by the tank set in your bags and I’m having you dps in your gearset that is really only ilevel 302 or some such. It also allows players to artificially boost this with getting bad gear and holding it in their bags to boost this number. It gives players a reason to want gear they have no right wanting. While this won’t effect guilds (or I hope it won’t, if it effects your I recommend you leave now), I can see this becoming a issue with pugs, we already saw ele shamans rolling on spirit based gear in wotlk, what will we see in cata?

Gear score weights items by the slot and rarity. A chest piece provides more stats than a wrist item, this is easily seen by simply comparing 2 equal ilevel/rarity items. A blue item is better than a green item. Yet in the eyes of blizzards average ilevel calculator, all items have equal value. But does the rarity of a item mean all that much? Are there 346 green items? (I’m actually not sure, are there?) This only matters at low gear levels, when comparing say a 333 ilevel player in quest greens, to a 333 ilevel player in dungeon blues. Both players are equal in the eyes of blizzards ilevel, but when you come to comparing heroic geared players, when there are no greens of ilevel 346, the point of bringing this into comparison becomes moot. While it matters now, in raid gear, or in another tier the point of comparing rarity will be mostly moot.

Gearscores metric is hard to understand. Just what exactly does 7000 gearscore mean? Am I ready for heroics? Am I ready for raids? Am I in level 83 quest greens? This led (in part) to the stupidity of people in wotlk asking for 5k gearscore for something as simple as wotlk, people didn’t understand it, it wasn’t very intuitive. Sadly this is due in part to the method in which it calculates its number, it takes into account a lot.

Both of these metrics encourage players to stack higher ilevel gear, with no care for which stats are better, worse, or downright useless for a given class. We saw this in wotlk with warlocks using badge trinkets with int and mp5 procs over absolutely over powered trinkets like abyssal rune, all for a few hundred gain in gearscore. What will we see in cata? Casters dps taking spirit, healers taking hit gear, and so on. These metrics completely ignore that a lower ilevel item can be better than a higher ilevel item. Average ilevel takes this issue one step further. It ignores the fact that a chest piece upgrade is worth more than a bracer upgrade. Both of these metrics are merely different shades of the same bad idea, that you can compare players based on gear alone.

If I had to compare to players, I would use gearscore. The fact that player A could have a epic wand, and green 333 chest, and player B a epic chest and blue 333 wand, and be identical in the eyes of blizzards ilevel is to large a issue for me to be able to ignore. The blizzard average ilevel takes the idea from gearscore, that items of equal ilevel are of equal worth, and takes it further. It doesn’t care whether its a green, blue or epic. It doesn’t care which slot its in. A 333 item is a 333 item. But in reality both metrics are bad, and simply slightly different shades of an attempt to solve a unsolvable problem. The problem being that there is no quantifiable method to judge a player by. This problem has no reasonable solution, this is why raiding guilds have trial periods. Because you need to test players, see how they play, rather than just how they gear up. I’m sorry blizzard, but with implementing this, you really missed the mark.

  1. Andrew (D4rty) Dart
    December 13, 2010 at 4:08 pm

    First up, great right up. I agree with your points that both gearscore and ilevel encourage players to take loot that may not be appropriate to their roll.
    I do however approve of Blizzard using ilevel as a minimum requirement to join a heroic dungeon with the dungeon finder. This sets a clear benchmark so players know “That dungeon is tuned for players with that level gear.” This alteast stops players being both bad and undergeared, hindering their PUG groups.

    Unfortunately I do not see either method of assessing a “players skill” going away. Maybe a gearscore based on hardmode raiding achievements?

    • December 14, 2010 at 6:15 am

      I think the problem that you’ll find is that players will cheat the systems to get into heroics.

      You’ll find warriors wearing agi trinkets, caster dps wearing spirit gear, people wearing armor outside of their armor class, but to raise that average ilevel a few points to get into heroics, none of which are helpful to improving your dps/healing/tanking.

      This isn’t a case of find another pug if they don’t like your GS, its set and implemented by blizzard.

      • Andrew (D4rty) Dart
        December 14, 2010 at 10:38 am

        Yes I agree totally.

        But unfortunately with any system that is implemented by players or Blizzard, there will be those few who always look for loopholes to exploit it.

        I also believe that those who choose to wear the wrong gear to deliberately cheat the system are few to none (Especially in the lower tier of raiding).
        Those on the other hand who either just don’t understand their roll’s stats, and those who simply don’t have anything better to use, run rampant throughout the game. However in these scenario’s One is bad, one is acceptable. So how do you filter the bads? Because as you pointed out, the 2 players in this scenario would have the same GS/iL.
        Now the latter scenario is quite solid right now in the game. As every player is really, still gearing for raiding. I myself have worn the odd spirit piece simply because the int increase was by far, justifiable to equip that piece on its own. And I think players are always going to do this. Unfortunately this is not just a black and white issue. You also need to consider what that warrior had before he equipped that agi trinket.

        In conclusion to this wall of text. At this stage, whilst both gearscore and ilevel systems are flawed in assessing the bad players from the good, and that both systems are prone to exploitation. I think it is unfair to simply assume that a player if a player is wearing gear for another roll, that they are deliberately cheating the system.

        I think the best system in this case, is to simply ask why they are wearing that piece of gear. 🙂

      • December 14, 2010 at 11:38 am

        See, you think it happens because people chose not to try to understand, I believe it happens because of GS. Over the last 2 years I’ve noticed a large change in pugs, people have gone from judging gear based on if its a upgrade or not, to if its higher ilevel or not. Is this in spite of, or because of GS? I take the side thats its because of. Why go to all that trouble when you can just look at the ilevel?

        and in lowest tiers cheating the system is even more prevalent, I myself picked up a spirit head piece to get into heroics that I never used, I know of several guidies that have done the same with various pieces of gear.

        Will this continue into (pug) raids? I’m not sure, it depends on how tightly tuned they are, and hence how strict pug raid leaders have to be to complete those instances. If the normal versions aren’t super tightly tuned then its very likely we will see players in pvp gear, wearing wrong/bad gear, similar to wotlk.

  2. Andrew (D4rty) Dart
    December 14, 2010 at 1:44 pm

    I think the problem needs to be clarrified. As I dont think that everytime someone takes loot from a group that doesnt fit their roll, are doing it to increase their iLevel. The problems as I see it are:

    problem one: players taking gear that isn’t fit for their roll in pug groups.
    problem two: players taking any piece of wearable gear to increase their ilevel in pug groups.

    The issue of players taking gear that is not theirs has been around long before the introduction of gearscore, ilevel or even the WotLK Expansion Pack. It is evident as you have put it, that players are still doing it now, which inclines me to believe that they choose not to try and understand. Gearscore and ilevel in this regard just creates an even easier way for players to blindly hit need. The problem itself existed since the games launch back in 2004. And sadly, players will continue to need roll incorrect gear. Why? Because they don’t understand the systems in wow to fully get the most in their characters progression.

    The issue of players taking gear simply to increase their ilevel i still think is rare. Atleast from my immediate wow community. I, more often than not, see players taking loot that they cannot use. Which if this attributes to ilevel. Then the system is seriously flawed.
    I also do not agree for ilevel working from gear in your bags however. The gear in your bags in no way, contributes to your your dps. However, from a blizzard standpoint, I can see its effectiveness and why it was introduced.
    Hypothetically talking: A healer queues for a heroic instance, there is a 15min queue. He is questing in his low par dps set which does not meet the requirements. This player however has the required healing gear in his bag, which simply gets swapped when he joins the dungeon group.
    This situation uses the system for what its designed for. A dps however who has healing ilevel 333 and dps ilevel278 would however be accepted into the group, even with his subpar dps set. This case is blatent abuse of the system, and should not be allowed.
    A fix for the ilevel system would be a tab set up for players to declare the gear they will use for the roll that they play. And have the dungeon finder use this gearset to assess if they meet the standards for said dungeon. you could even go one step further and then lock players to using that gear for the instance unless they change roles, or win an upgrade.

    Concerning you and your guild mates who have acquired gear simply to get into heroics faster: simply by doing this you have proven that you understand the systems that are in place by blizzard. And by understanding any system, you can take advantage of it. Be it inside or outside of wow. And I believe this level of understanding of systems is rare amongst the majority of the wow player base. Which is why I continue to believe that players continue to not understand.
    You only need to look over the wow community forums to see the amount of players that cannot adapt or understand the changes and why they were needed so direly with cataclysm.

    Your wall of text skill has increased by 1 point

    • December 14, 2010 at 2:05 pm

      Agreed on all points, but I think the problem has increased significantly with the introduction of gearscore.

      Players who might of previously done research to see what items are better, learnt about gearscore and item levels. And that was it, if it increased gearscore it was an ‘upgrade’ for them. Why go and research when gearscore provides a easy metric? Its the same as assessing players for pugs, why inspect when you can use gearscore/average ilevel?

      I’ve talked to people (in wotlk) about why they, for example, used the crappy ToC10 trinket, when the ToC5 one was easier to get, and in fact far far superior (it was BiS up until reign iirc). The answer was almost always GS. (for the record, I used either that, or embrace of the spider (naxx10) up until I got my halion caster trinket)

      Another example would be running BRC early into cata, I had a warrior take the agi trinket. He was geared, knew what he was doing (was fully gemmed for crit, which WAS arp) but he still took it. He didn’t give a reason sadly, and was quickly booted from the group. >.>

  3. Andrew (D4rty) Dart
    December 14, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    To your warrior problem, I think in that case he was just a jerk. This is another problem with players now. With the massive region wide battle group, players can basically do what they want in the dungeon finder and not be punished for it. This itself is allowing players to hit need on almost any piece of gear that allows them to do it. Without fear of being punished past the point of being kicked.

    However I think overall, the only solution to this is guilds. No mod or gear rating system, but guilds. Pug groups have and are always going to have these problems. On the other hand, guilded runs by good guilds always work their loot out accordingly and fairly. The guilds I’ve been in in the past always required a good reason as to why you deserve that item on top of what ever dkp system was in place.
    On that, I’ll leave this debate with this: It’s never been better to be in a guild than now. Because of the reasons we have discussed and I also believe because of the increased heroic difficulty, I think guilds will expand past their normal raid group and players will again respect each other. WotLK taught players that the entire content could be solo’d in pug groups. Those that are bad, refuse to adapt and learn, and those who are plain jerks to others in regards to the looting system, are in for a good kick up the arse this expansion!

    • December 14, 2010 at 2:59 pm

      Agree with your conclusion. 🙂

  4. December 18, 2010 at 1:53 am

    By far, one of the best article l have come across on this great subject. I quite concur with your suppositions and will eagerly look forward to your coming updates.

  5. December 18, 2010 at 3:23 am

    Hey there, Vel. We follow each other on Twitter and it just occured to me that I have never visited your blog before. So, here I am!

    I like the idea of using the 329 minimum iLevel as a personal goal or benchmark. For example, I was lingering in the 325/326 iLevel range for a while and I had a few guildies that were eager to take me into Heroics and offered to get me in with that. I didn’t feel ready. I knew I wasn’t ready. I wanted to, in good conscience, know that I could be the best healer that I could to them in those Heroic instances.

    Once I did finally hit 329, I still didn’t feel I was ready. I have a green robe and up until yesterday, green bracers and I’m still hesitant to do chain Heroics now. Kurn and her brother were extremely kind enough to take me into their Heroic Stonecore run and we had an amazing time. I think I did well and I got told that I did. But I still felt like I had work to do.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that people should take the opportunity to understand why they’re being asked to be at a minimum iLevel and then to ask themselves if they’re really ready for such things. Self-awareness can be a wonderful tool and I would like to say that the minimum iLevel has certainly brought that out in me. I only wish I could say the same for other players.


    • December 18, 2010 at 8:18 pm

      Yup, average ilevel is very good at telling people what gear they should be at in order to run heroics, this is a major advantage of average ilevel.

      Sadly unlike you people seem to still be stuck with the idea that heroics are easy, and cheat the system thinking everything will be ok etc. People aren’t taking the time to understand that they might not be ready, unlike you.

  6. Rand0m
    December 20, 2010 at 6:11 pm

    You mentioned using gear just in your bags to boost your gs…. hPal is my main and I was one point away from getting into heroics so I was on a guild run in reg and they did not need the gear so I was needing on everything with a higher item level.. tanking, dps, or healing didn’t matter… so ended up with a ton of items i would never use but it bumped me high enough to get into heroics even though that hit trink was never equipped.. Lame system if you ask me… and no went into the heroics and did just fine… Tons of water drinking but got it done.

  1. December 14, 2010 at 12:54 am

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