As I’ve written about before, K- and I came late WoW, picking the game up over a year after the release of The Burning Crusade. As we were pretty avid PVPers, we accumulated enough honor and marks to be able to step into full sets of Season 2/Season 3 the day we hit 70. Shortly afterwards, the raiding bug bit us (again) and we joined a guild that had just started working through Serpentshrine Cavern. While we were decked out in purples, we knew we weren’t correctly geared for PVE. As a resto druid, for example, my PVP gear had phenomenal stamina but zero spirit.
We had some catching up to do gear-wise so that we could meet the guild’s standards for raiding T5 content. This meant running a lot of heroics, doing the obligatory weekly Kara run, and saving up all those Badges of Justice to buy some very nice gear. 150 for the Gavel of Naaru Blessings. 100 for the Shroud of Nature’s Harmony. As I raided, I upgraded my other items too (belt, boots, pants, rings) but I never really “outgrew” the need for that Kara badge run — in part because badge gear was comparable (if not better) than the loot I could get via raiding and in part because badge gear cost an absolute shit-ton of badges.
When I hit 80 with Khaeli, tradition dictated, “do heroics.” I did heroics; I got badges. And after only a night or two of instancing, I had enough Emblems of Heroism to buy an off-hand; a few days later, I could get a trinket. Then, with a smattering of gear from heroics and faction and badge vendors, I found myself running 25-mans. Boss kills gave Emblems of Valor, and these badges bought better gear. Within a week or two, I had received so many upgrades from Naxx-25 that there wasn’t a single thing left to buy for Khaeli with my badges from heroics or 10-mans. So I bought my shaman the heritage chainmail shoulders. I bought my warlock a trinket. I bought my druid the leather shoulders. I bought frozen orbs to sell on the Auction House. After a month or two of 25-man raiding, there’s now nothing to buy with the Emblems of Valor either. I am now saving up to buy an alt the BOE epic bracers.
In a few weeks, Ulduar will institute another tier of badges and another badge gear vendor. If the trend of previous tiers persists, it will take only a couple of weeks of raiding a zone with 14 bosses to accumulate enough badges to buy something.
It already feels as though there’s no need to run heroics. Khaeli is exalted with all the Northrend factions. There are no gear upgrades to be found in any of the dungeons or 10-man raids. There are no upgrades to be purchased by saving up 100s of Emblems of Heroism. What will happen to these zones with the release of the new raid zone? Will anyone run them? I mean, why would you bother?
I’m not sure that the design of the badge system that forced us to run Karazhan ’til we wanted to slit our wrists was ideal; but I’m not sure Blizzard has it quite right with the current system either.