When to Need on Offspec Gear

Since the advent of the Looking For Dungeon tool in World of Warcraft, an old thorny issue has raised its head again: When should a player roll need versus greed on a piece of loot? Most particularly, if a player has the dual talent specialization, should they roll need on equipment for their ‘off-spec’, the talent tree they’re currently not using?
Before I go any further into this, I’ll clarify that I’m talking about five man instances only, be they regular or heroic. For actual raids of ten man and above, it’s likely the raid leader will specify loot rules at the beginning, and by staying in the group, I would consider the player to be implicitly agreeing to those rules. Likewise, if you’re running a five man instance entirely with friends and/or guild members, you can make up your own rules. If they can’t be trusted to stick to those rules, you need new friends and/or guild members.

With the Looking For Dungeon tool, no one person has initiated the group; you’re all jumping into a queue to be placed with four other random people. Despite the opinions of some players, this to me would make it implicit that no one member of the party is entitled to say what the loot rules should be. If the group discusses it before hand and everyone agrees, fair enough. But in my experience, you’re struggling to get a ‘hello’ out of everyone ninety percent of the time. And even if you end up in a group of chattery types, if you can get five World of Warcraft players to agree unanimously on something, you might want to take up something more rewarding, like brokering peace in the Middle East, or herding cats.

Assuming no such magical agreement has been reached, the game is afoot, and you’re off killing mobs. Now personally, with the trash mobs and their drops, I never tend to need, at least not in the level 80 Northrend dungeons. Any greens that drop are going to end up being disenchanted and used for their materials; with the best will in the world, any enchanter who tells you he ‘needs’ the items for mats is a worthless liar, and should earn a place on your /ignore list. Need is almost universally agreed upon, unusually, as something you click if you’re actually planning to wear the equipment. My main is an enchanter, and I’d never dream of trying something that self-centered.

The boss drops are a little trickier. They’re almost always Bind on Pickup, which means if you greed, you’re either disenchanting them, or selling them to a vendor. And this is where the apparently controversial opinions come in. Some people feel you should only be able to need on something if you’re going to use it in the role you’re playing. In other words, if you’re healing, you should only roll on healing gear, likewise tanking and DPS.

To hell with that.

I have two level 80 characters. A mage, where the issue is irrelevant, as you can have any two specs you like, as long as they’re DPS, and a shaman. And I defy any non-shaman to tell me why a piece of spellcasting gear is better suited to a resto healing spec, versus a DPS elemental spec. Barring minor tweaks to MP5 and Hit Rate, the two are interchangeable. Besides, who else is going to roll on spellcasting mail gear as something they’d need? Hunters? Don’t make me laugh. (Enhancement Shamans and Hunters, however, are probably going to have to duke it out).

Still, I look at it this way. The majority of the random groups you run with, there are going to be no agreed upon rules beforehand. Some times, you can’t even rely on the whole group being able to speak English well (and here, I’m not even thinking about people from countries where English isn’t the first language; I’ve met Americans who can’t spell LOL). The only agreed upon loot mechanics you have are those hardwired into the game. Use those, need on offspec if you like. If you feel someone is abusing these mechanics, you have the votekick and ignore options. So do they. You’ll be surprised how infrequently you may have to use them.

A final note: If you still feel uncomfortable needing on something, ask the group if anyone minds. In the vast majority of cases, no-one will care. It might be useless to their class, and even if they could use it, odds are at this late stage of Wrath of the Lich King, they have something better than that level 200 blue anyhow