You must have 5k+ GS to read this post!!!

We’ve all seen it.  LFM (insert here) must have #### GS… Is anyone besides me sort of tired of it?

It’s pretty amazing how fast a mod can all but take over the game when you really think about it.  I first started hearing about GearScore a few months ago, but at least on my server I didn’t really start noticing it in the [Trade] and [LFG] channels until the last month or 2.  Now, almost anytime you see anyone looking for more for a raid, you seen a Gearscore req posted along with it.  I’m even starting to see it in guild recruitment posts.  Honestly, I’m sort of tired of it, but at the same time I totally understand.

Just remember you have to have at least a 5K GearScore to keep reading this 😛 !

What is GearScore?

Before we really get going, it’s important that you understand exactly what GearScore is.  The official website for the mod can be found here  To quote that site, it answers the question this way.

“GearScore is an addon for World of Warcraft that allows you to quickly and easily judge a player’s level of Gear. Simply mouse-over any player in the game and their GearScore will appear in their tooltip. No need to visit the armory!”

How does it work?

Again, the following is taken directly from the above-mentioned official website.

“Whenever you mouseover a player in the game GearScore will scan that player’s gear and calculate a score. The scores are based on how blizzard assigns stats to an item and take in account ilevel, rarity, and equipment slot location. Scores scale smoothly as player’s level up and obtain new items.”

Essentially, it functions much like the item-level system Blizz has built into the game, except that it appears that GearScore puts more weight into items in certain slots, specifically weapons, and major armor pieces, where “average item level” is just that, no one piece is any more valuable than any other.  GS does not, however (at least in my experience) actually reflect how well a given item is itemized for your particular character or build.

In practice, what happens is that when you mouse over someone in-game, a new line is present in their little tool-tip bubble.  It will say “GearScore: 4657” or some such.  It gives you a general idea of how well-geared a player is.

Gearscore in practice

If it seems like I was complaining about this mod in the intro to this post, I was.  Sort of.  But I run the mod, and I do use it as well.  What bugs me is that some people seem to blindly follow it.

As a player I have found it frustrating in the past.  For example, not too long ago, I was sitting in FLR for a variety of runs, Ony 25 among them.  I got a whisper from someone asking — “Are you a geared tank?”

I responded — “What do you consider geared?”

reply — “4500 GS”

I respond — “4485 here, want me to link my 10-man ach?”

reply — “We found someone, thanks”

Now I’m not getting all bent, but honestly, I’d already tanked in Ony 25, just never gotten her down.  I was one of the “off-tanks” true, picking up the whelps, and then assigned to getting the elites that come down the pathway.  But anyone that’s been to Ony knows that honestly, there’s almost no difference tanking between 10 and 25.  either you can pick up the adds, of you can’t, it’s that simple.  Personally, I think that warriors may actually have an easier time picking up the whelps than most of the other classes.  While our AoE threat is our weak point, I’ve found the whelps seem to have a communal agro pool, and as long as you position yourself right, and time it properly, one Thunderclap is sufficient to get the attention of a wave, and allow you to back into the center of the room, Cleaving as you walk back.  But that’s tanking theory, another post, another time.

As far as Ony goes, it’s much more of an issue of everyone staying out of the Deep Breath, out of the blast that the elite adds do, and such.  Ony’s about execution, not gear.

From the perspective of a tank and raid leader, GearScore is a tool.  If I’m looking for people to fill out something, or an initial target for my Vigilance, I’ll use it to give me an idea of who might be best.  But I don’t view it as the be-all, end-all of evaluation.

Let’s say for example, I’m tanking a random 5-man, and I want to throw my Vig on someone.  Generally speaking, I look for one of the 3 following options.  High GS melee DPSers, particularly those that wear plate, higher GS hunters (I play one, I know the agro they generate), well-geared warlocks.  Failing that, a rogue, mage, or feral druid, usually by whoever has the higher GS.  But I do watch my Omen, and I’ll change if I see that someone is consistently pulling high threat levels.

Use GearScore wisely

Remember, while gear is important, if we’re being honest about it, skill trumps gear every time, within reason.  Sure, if you’ve got someone in higher-level epics, they’re more than likely going to perform better than someone in quest blues/greens that just dinged 80 yesterday.  But the line blurs shortly there-after.

I’ve watched, and paid attention as I’ve gotten my hunter out of the moth-balls recently.  He’s reasonably geared (about 4500GS) but (because I was being cheap back  when I was playing him) he had almost all blue-grade gems.  But I have been consistently able to out-perform people with GS of 5k or better, all the while using Misdirection, etc, doing anything I could to make the runs go easier.  And that while using cheap vendor ammo, not even the blue stuff we all used for raiding before the new epic Ashen Verdict patterns came out.  I even out-did a couple other hunters.

Does that mean that perhaps I’m a more skilled player than average?  Maybe, I dunno, I don’t think I’m anything too special, yeah I know how to play my class(es), but I’m by no means some sort of expert, at least I don’t think so.  Maybe I’ve just run with batchs of well-geared goof-offs.  But when it happens almost every time I’m in a run, I kind of doubt it.

Another thing to remember is that for some builds certain items may be better, despite having inferior GS ratings.  For example, on my hunter I had been using Journey’s End, but I swapped it out for Marrowstrike.  Both are great choices for a hunter, but Journey’s End actually rates higher both by GS and ilvl, even though the itemization on Marrowstrike makes it a slightly better choice for my MM build.

Also, remember that GS doesn’t at all consider builds or classes, I know for a fact that it values something like the Keystone Great Ring the same (on a hunter, I’ve seen it) as Hemorraging Circle.  Obviously, one is much better than the other for a hunter.  So GearScore only reflects the quality of the gear someone is wearing, not weather or not the item is actually itemized for their class/build.

Basically, what I’m saying is, GearScore is a tool, but just because one person has a value higher than another person doesn’t mean a whole lot.  Frankly, if you’re building a raid, it still merits inspecting the people, and seeing who has exactly what gear.  But GearScore should not EVER be the only criteria that is used to select someone for something, except for possibly positioning people for encounters like Flame Leviathon, where item-level actually matters.  To do so would be to assume 2 things.

1)  Everyone is of equal skill level, and that all classes are perfectly balanced relative to each other.

2)  Everyone knows how to appropriately gear their characters.

If you actually believe the 2 statements above, please contact me, I have a couple of bridges, along with some ocean-front property in Kansas that I’m thinking of selling, and perhaps you’d be interested.

Seriously folks, just think about it before you start demanding some arbitrary number.  It’s one thing to have a general idea of where you want people geared, it’s another to blindly follow a number.  Like with all things, you’re still going to have to do a little work on your own.  You’re not going to ever find a mod that can filter out all the people you don’t want to play with for you.


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