Hey folks, I wanted to do an overview of the problems I feel the "Forged" system encounters in it's current design and my suggestions for overhauling to make it more fit for purpose.
Why Keep Warforged?
The Forged System is a really cool solution to a problem I never thought they'd fix. Raiders who have finished progression on their appropriate difficulties will face the prospect of farming the instance for the long months to come. Eventually raiders will acquire their BIS gear and will wonder why they even bother killing these bosses every week. Knowing that there is absolutely nothing you need in the raid is a massive motivation sink. The "Forged" system keeps those raiders feeling that there is potential for an upgrade.
This is the main reason why War/Thunderforged loot is in the game. Killing a progression boss once and having a warforged trinket drop is a happy side-effect. Giving an even bigger rush to the lucky player who gets the loot.
Overall, the system has very good positives, but is let down by it's implementation.
The Current Problems with Warforged
It's difficult to discuss this in a flowing fashion as all the problems are different from each other. So I'll just use a list.
The Forged System is controlled by the guild
This is the biggest issue I feel. The boss dies and the loot is shown. Your guild has control over how this loot is distributed. A lot of guilds will try to be efficient in this distribution. Which leads to this scenario:
Warforged Trinket Drops
Player A has Normal Version of Trinket
Player B doesn't have the trinket at all
The most efficient way to distribute this loot is to give it to player B. This is a sucker punch for Player A. This problem gets exacerbated in 10man where you are lucky to have 1 trinket drop in the first place, and you may have up to 4-5 people in the raid team who need it. Even with coins, Player A probably faces the idea that they will never get a Warforged Trinket until the rest of the team have caught up. And it is not efficient to use your coin purely for the warforged possibility. It is better served on a boss where a normal piece is still an upgrade.
Of course, this all depends on your guilds loot distribution but I feel this outcome will be the most common in the majority of guilds.
10 vs 25
This problem is pretty huge in 10 man. Building up a Full Warforged set is only something that can be done during long periods of farm. During long periods of farm, guilds will start to recruit for the next tier as core raiders retire. Key items like trinkets and rings are so rare that a guild would want to distribute it efficiently. You have to remember that the vast majority of guilds are still on progression. Distributing the loot evenly is overall a raid performance increase which is what you need to push the numbers on progression. This would mean Player B would win the trinket. Player A is left on an island. Being the lucky guy to win the first trinket is now a double edged sword as you would have to wait the longest for a warforged version to be yours as well. That really, is not fun.
With more items dropping in 25man and a higher chance of Warforged loot, you see the loot enough to keep feeling that it will drop the next time if you don't win it that time.
At the top level, 10man guilds were simply behind in terms of ilvl compared to 25man guilds and it's very challenging for Blizzard to tune encounters by ilvl when you have Warforged loot. Explained a bit in a scenario:
Control Guild A are 10 man and clear everything in the first week
Control Guild B are 25 man and clear everything in the first week
Both guilds clear for the same numbers of weeks. When the next teir comes around, Control Guild B will have a higher overall ilvl than Control Guild A.
Yes, this problem will be gone in WoD due to Mythic - however - it shows how powerful the Warforged system actually is and how it can affect progression.
The impossibility of being "BIS"
If something is so unobtainable - so out of reach - it is a pointless goal. Getting Full BIS including Warforged is so unobtainable that most don't even consider it. This solves the problem of long periods of farming but creates a new problem that is fairly unique to WoW.
We are used to being able to min-max our characters and do everything we possibly can to make it the strongest it can be. Part of this was always obtaining our BIS. Warforged becomes our new BIS and the normal versions are just a weaker set. That's not really engaging gameplay. Never feeling that your character is the strongest it can possibly be and that your efforts have been rewarded is kind of dissapointing.
I feel that Warforged should be a system that is actually obtainable after long periods of farming whilst avoiding someone being lucky and getting it all at the start.
My proposed Changes
First of all, some things this requires.
1. Items are not upgradeable by valor by default
2. Bosses don't drop "Forged" loot at all.
Under the new system. You will have a personal tracker which records the amount of bosses you have killed in the lockout. After some breakpoint(I feel 4 is a good number in SoO) you will earn a satchel from your faction leaders acknowledging your efforts. You can only obtain one satchel per lockout.
This satchel contains things such as spec appropriate flasks, pots, food and has the chance to contain "Forged Plans" of the same difficulty as the lockout.
(It's important to note all difficulties have separate lockouts in WoD and will thus be tracked individually, killing 3 bosses on normal and 1 boss on heroic in SoO will not earn you the heroic satchel)
These Forged Plans can be used on any soulbound item of matching difficulty & ilvl and will allow you to upgrade the item - up to twice - by spending valor just as you do now.
What does this fix?
The Warforged loot is now controlled by the player and not the guild so you don't need to feel that you're going to have to pass on a Warforged trinket for someone else.
The player can choose which items to upgrade first. Who really enjoys having warforged bracers and normal trinkets?
Forged Plans only dropping once a raid will alleviate power spikes, allowing Blizzard to tune encounters by ilvl much more closely. Valor can act as a gating method too.
With the drop chance high enough, the player could feel that they have the possibility of getting "true" full BIS.
Even if you don't get the forged plans, the consolation prizes will be welcomed.
Guilds often sit players who don't need anything from the boss so they can test trials. This can lead to players only participating in 1-2 bosses per lockout which is not fun for those affected. Now those players will be in for at least the breakpoint value, giving them some enjoyment in the raid.
Some predicted FAQs
Wouldn't this be just ANOTHER thing to farm? I have enough just trying to get my coins in a week!
This is simply killing X amount of bosses. You don't need to pick up a quest from outside the raid once a week either. It can all be done within the raid and doesn't require any work outside other than farming valor. I feel valor farming is still important as it gets you to do other activities with your character.
How would this be tracked?
I considered putting this inside the difficulty hover-over on the mini-map.
"25 man Heroic Difficulty
2/4 Enemies Vanquished"
Would these rollover? I.e, I kill 2 bosses on heroic week 1, then the same 2 the next week. Do I get the satchel?
No, the "Forged" system is intended to fix long farming periods with no possible power increases. If you are starting this progression, then this does not apply to you. I feel the items those 2 bosses will drop, along with farming the rest of the bosses on the lower difficulty(and thus obtaining that satchel) will give you the ilvl you need to conquer harder bosses.
Which items can be upgraded under the new system?
All equippable items of the matching ilvl can be upgraded. This includes tier. This will add longevity to the system, whilst avoiding the idea that your tier is actually weaker than your other pieces, but is only used because of set bonuses.
Will this drop in all difficulties?
All difficulties apart from LFR. I might receive some flak from this, but I don't feel LFR players truly put in enough effort to justify their faction leaders rewarding them.
I understand that some players may not have the time to raid with guilds but I also feel that person doesn't have the problem that they are farming the raid for long periods of time and have acquired their BIS. I feel LFR players drop in and out and avoid that scenario entirely.
Is there any downsides?
I can see people eventually not even caring what the boss drops, but instead opening their bags to see whats inside the shiny satchel. Which takes away from the boss itself. Lorewise it makes more sense for your faction leaders to acknowledge your efforts and give you the satchel so it shouldn't be a boss drop.
Players could be cautious over the use of their forged plans. They could hold on to them for the "power items", BIS trinkets, weapons, etc. I actually feel this is a good design choice though. On progression is it really worth it to hold onto these when you could upgrade a lesser item, which will in turn help you defeat the boss.
I'd like to hear what other people think about this, maybe its been suggested before! If you have a completely different idea, etc. All opinions are welcome. I may not have explained something right, or you have questions. Overall I'm really excited for WoD even though I highly doubt this idea would ever be used.
Thanks for reading!