I know I’ve said this before, but I think it bears repeating – I’m pretty much a Wrath-baby. So, I don’t really know what it was like gearing up to do heroics and raids in BC or even in Vanilla. What I do know is that in WotLK, we had downed our first wing in Naxxramus before we’d spent two weeks at level 80.

Both of my shaman are level 85 now, and already I am frustrated with the realities of gearing for heroics. You are not allowed to queue for heroic dungeons until you have a minimum average item level of 329. Both of my shaman are stuck at 326, which sounds like it’s not a big deal, right?

I’ve spent hours (literally, hours) on WoWhead looking for upgrades. The sad reality is, there just aren’t that many ACTUAL upgrades to be had. Item level upgrades? Are still scarce.  Access to pieces with an item level higher than 333 (the standard for non-heroic level 85 dungeon drops) is extremely limited.  But trading any piece I’m wearing that currently has either haste or mastery for a piece that has neither is not a functional upgrade at this point.

The only upside to this I can see is that you are not required to have an average EQUIPPED item level of 329 in order to queue for heroics. So the healing trinkets I’ve been lucky enough to hoover up on Krikket count towards my minimum, even though it’d be a DPS downgrade to put them on.

I see this problem as being multi-faceted. Getting to 85 was a quick process, leveling professions seems to be a much slower one, so I’m not seeing the crafted gear I would need to do heroics even available for purchase. Justice points are capped at a handful per day until you have access to heroics. Rep grinding is slow since the tabards only work in three instances prior to heroics.

But I think the biggest problem, at least for the elemental shaman, is Blizzard’s attitude in regards to “secondary stats”:

We want your choice of secondary start to mix up your playstyle, if only a little. Unlike primary stats, we want those secondary stats (i.e. crit, haste & mastery) to be a choice. If one is far better or far worse than the others, then we haven’t delivered on our design intent. Since some of our players have become such great rules lawyers, I am hesitant to mention a magic number at which point the ratios become unacceptable to us. Let’s just say you shouldn’t often be in a situation where you pass on an item in a later tier of content and keep an item from an earlier tier solely because of the stat allocation.

Due to the way that elemental shaman talents & abilities are structured, crit rating – at least at these lower gear levels – is so far inferior to both haste and mastery, I don’t want it. From talents we get 3% crit. From Elemental Oath, we get 5% crit. We have a glyph option that provides a flat 2% crit.  We get crit from the Intellect that we’re trying to stack into the stratosphere.

Alix has slightly more crit on her gear right now than Krikket does, and with a crit rating of a paltry 312, she sitting at over 17% crit. Her haste rating is over 1400, and that only gives her about 11% haste. Is it just me, or has Blizzard failed to deliver on their design intent on this one?

It’s hard to get excited about grinding up rep to buy what are – in my opinion – poorly itemized pieces for my spec (I’m looking at you, Epic Boots of Fail from the Earthen Ring).  And I don’t want to spend the next several weeks running Grim Batol, Halls of Origination, and Lost City of Tol’Vir hoping for a trash drop blue which seems to be the only appropriately itemized mail hat from pre-heroics.

Yes, I get that heroics are challenging, and that I don’t want to blindly flail around in them under-prepared. But I don’t think I’ll perform any better in the amazing crafted iLvL  339 resilience / spirit boots than I will in the iLvL 272 boots I’m currently wearing.