Blizzard internally discussed Ulduar Tier Sets and decided they will not see any further adjustments past the normal 6 item level bump in Wrath Classic.
We talked about this a fair amount before the holidays and sort of went back and forth about what to do with Tier Sets, and in the end, we’ve decided that it will not see any further adjustments past the normal 6 item level bump. There were definitely proponents of buffing it further on our team internally and we’d like to share some of the reasoning why we are leaving it the way it is. For simplicity I am only going to make reference to 25-player item levels for the remainder of this post.
When discussing this internally, one thing we kept coming back to was that, for most guilds, the jump from 232 to 252 will not be quick and most groups can expect to be wearing a lot of 232 gear for most of the time that Ulduar is current content. The reason for this is twofold;
The hard modes are actually fairly hard and clearing all of them week 1 is not a given for all guilds. Some will clear them all quickly, most will not.
Ulduar is not itemized like ToC and ICC heroic are, e.g. there is not a full hard mode loot table for every boss, and when you complete a hard mode kill, you will only recieve a single extra piece of ilvl 252 loot from most bosses.
This means that if you are looking at your BiS list and plan on getting a full set of 252 gear, and if you assume every other person in your 25 player raid wants the same, you’ll be looking at over 33 weeks of full clearing all hard modes to fully gear your raid out in 252. This is also assuming zero “waste” in terms of disenchanting duplicate or unwanted items.
I think some folks have been looking at the 252 gear and fixating on that as they are thinking of their BiS lists. In reality however, some of those 252 pieces will be “chase” items you may be seeking for many weeks or months and may never get based on RNG or loot competition. And really, that’s fine. That’s a very “classic” model and gearing up first in 232 and then slowly replacing those pieces with the rare but highly desirable 252 gear should give the gear progression in Ulduar a long and satisfying arc. This is how this worked in the original Ulduar as well, the only difference being that hard mode items were perhaps not as compelling considering their modest power gain over normal, especially when compared to the very significant increase in challenge for Hard Mode bosses.
So, could we have bumped tier to keep it relevant longer? Yes, but ultimately, we are increasing player power significantly as it is, and we feel like we are in a really nice place when you combine the pre-nerf boss difficulty with the ilvl bumps we have now. Hard modes will be really, really, hard for many guilds coming into ulduar in mostly full 213 gear but will get steadily easier as 232 gear is gathered. If we inject too much more power past that 6 ilvl normal jump or add additional drops to hard modes as some players have suggested, it could cut the legs off of that Hard Mode progression much faster than we’d like.
Time will tell how it actually plays out, but for now, the team is very happy with the difficulty vs. reward within Ulduar in general. It’s likely your tier set gear isn’t your ultimate BiS for the phase, but it may still last you many weeks or months while you work towards those hard mode items and are waiting your turn to get them. We think that will feel pretty good and provide a great sense of progression within the phase as you take those stepstone upgrades.
I hope that helps clarify our thoughts on this. Sorry for the length of this post and thank you for taking the time to read it. In previous communications we stated we’d like to spend more time explaining the “why” behind certain decisions, and as we’ve seen a lot of debate about this issue, we felt this was a good topic to chime in on. We really appreciate the feedback we’ve gotten for Ulduar so far and are super excited to see it go live in the not-too-distant future.
Thanks to everyone who joined us on PTR for Ulduar testing and we hope everyone had a great holiday!