LFM ICC 10-man. Must have 3.3k Gearscore or Lower

Today we’re going to take a break from crazy Cataclysm gushing and instead focus on something that I think is very, very important: skill is more important that gear.

Everyone says they agree with this then attributes every person who out-dpses them and every raid that does better than them it’s about gear.

I’ve railed about the whole skill is greater than gear thing before, on several occasions. While my philosophy (and the philosophy of the WHU) is that you should do everything you can do to optimize your character to do the best that you can at whatever you’re doing, none of that matters if you’re standing in void zones or obsessing over meters instead of shooting what you’re supposed to. I’ve talked about the surprisingly low impact of gear, I’ve shown the math for it, I’ve run heroics naked, and the world is still filled with people who blame gear on the failure of their raids.

Well enter Gevlon, of Greedy Goblin fame, who has been preaching the same thing, in much stronger terms, for a long time. And he has put his money where his mouth is, quite literally. Gevlon founded and funded the guild Undergeared, whose purpose was to raid Wrath content only in blue gear. After leveling up the stalwart band of 3.3k Gearscore raiders starting taking down bosses.

As of the time of this writing they’ve cleared Naxx, Sartharion, Malygos, Ulduar, and TotC. They are now working on ICC and are currently 7/12 bosses in. According to Wowprogress, more than 1/3 of the guilds out there have failed to progress as far into ICC as they have… in nothing but blue gear.

Gevlon was kind enough to agree to an interview for the WHU, to talk about what they’ve done and answer some of the more common questions.


Frostheim: What made you want to do the Undergeared project? What were you hoping to accomplish?

Gevlon: It is mostly answered in this post. In short, bad players blame lack of gear for their terrible play and lot of OK players accept this nonsense and “help them gear up”. This means to stick with them, boosting them over ICC first wing and ToC again and again. I want to prove that normal mode content needs no gear and those who do 2.5K DPS or die in the first minute are not undergeared but stupid. OK players should leave them rot and go to better guilds where they can play with other OK players.

You talk about OK players, rather than good or skilled players. What skill level do you find is necessary to do all the raid content in blues?

Unfortunately skill have no accepted metric. So saying “skill must be high” is meaningless. I can say he’d better pull 2500+ DPS on the dummy and 3.5K+ in raid environment with all the movements.

What are the rules of Undergeared? What gear are you allowed to use?

Blue quality gear, blue gems, enchants without abyss crystal and profession bonuses (including epic leg enchant and epic head for engineers)

So could a hunter engineer make himself an epic Nesingwary 4000? If he wasn’t an engineer, could he have an engineer make one for him?

No. Nesingwary is crafted BoE. The only exception from the blue-only rule is the engi-only head, that requires you to be engineer. It’s like the JC trinket just for some reason Blizzard painted it purple, despite it’s not better than JC trinket.

Can you use rep enchants like Sons of Hodir honored/exalted should enchant?

Only Sons of Hodir honored. When we started it, SoH exalted needed daily quests and people claimed it’s “no life” to have SoH exalted.

How much of your gold have you spent funding Undergeared?

50K

When you first started Undergeared, how far into raiding content did you think you would get?

I was sure we can clear all content in time. When I started it, ICC was impossible and some bosses are still hard with 20% buff. However Blizzard will nerf it down enough to let every living body kill Arthas.

How far do you think you’ll get now?

I guess we’ll be 11/12 at or before 25% and kill Arthas in the summer.

I know many people knew you could do Ulduar in blues, since that’s been done before. I also know you had lots of people telling you what bosses you wouldn’t possibly be able to do in blue gear. What were the bosses that “common knowledge” said you could never beat in only blue gear?

This “barrier” increase by every raid. First Gormok will oneshot the tank. We oneshotted him. Then came Anub who is absolutely impossible. Oneshotted. Marrogar will surely kill us: 3 tries. Saurfang was the next impossible, he died first try after 20% buff. Currently Festergut, BQL and Sindy are the favorites of the naysayers, but soon they will have to find new “impossible” boss.

How experienced are the raiders in Undergeared? Do they all have mains doing hardmodes?

I have no idea. However some people clearly show signs of being at that boss first time.

Do you use raid stacking to defeat certain bosses, ie. taking very specific combinations of classes for the maximum benefit?

If we can, of course we do. But stacking is very limited by “who is online”.

How do you make sure you only have skilled players? Did you have any unskilled people join up? How did you handle that?

I simply don’t invite to raid those who are performing well (if I have alternative). However really failure people have not came to us. Such people don’t come here because – you know – “content needs gear” and we have none.

Many people argue that while high gear levels may not be needed, they make the content easier, give more room for mistakes, and let you take players who may not otherwise be able to hack it and let you kill bosses with fewer wipes. Do you think this is a valid argument?

No. The gear needs to be gained at the first place. You might save a wipe (10 mins) if you get a badge piece for 60 badge = 30 daily heroics = 450 mins. Bad deal.

Since you can only use the same blue gear from boss to boss… what do you do with the loot?

We have the standard loot window popping up and if someone wants it, press need. They will be good for leveling to 85.

Undergeared is experiencing raid content in a very different way from mostof us. Most of us get upgrades before moving to the next tier of content, so while the bosses are tougher, so are we, so other than new mechanics the difficulty doesn’t really increase. I imagine for Undergeared each tier of content actually gets harder and harder. What has it been like progressing to tougher bosses without better gear?

The “bosses getting tougher” is not true. ToC was considerably easier than Ulduar. Even ICC first wing is at the difficulty of Ulduar keepers. Only Rotface and Blood princes reached the complexity and difficulty of Yogg. Ulduar was a failure from Blizzard’s standpoint, very few people killed Yogg. So the subsequent instances were tuned much easier. ICC in relevant gear (245) is much easier than Ulduar was in 213.

Do healers and casters actually have mana problems in all blues?

Yes. But mana tide totem and flask of pure mojo helps.

I imagine that in the later content like TotC and ICC the fights are taking much longer than they would with a geared raid team. Have you found the need to adjust any strategies to compensate for low dps throughput and limited mana?

The healer mana can be conserved by limiting avoidable damage (not standing in the fire). Low DPS is usually not a problem, few bosses have tight enrage. The fight is simply longer.

What were some of the hardest bosses for Undergeared? What bosses were a easier than you expected?

The hardest was definitely Thorim, oneshotting healers in the arena. Then came Auiraya and Blood princes in ICC. ToC was surprisingly easy. I mean we expected it to be not hard, but oneshotting Anub in blues was a bit shocking.

What is the most times that you have wiped on one boss?

Thorim took several days and about 30 wipes. Blood princes were 18 wipes.

Now that you’re downing ICC bosses, are you using the raid buff?

Yes, just like everyone else.

We all see pugs advertising for ICC lower spire runs requiring at least a 5,000 Gearscore — and honestly a lot of those pugs fail. Undergeared demonstrates that good gear isn’t necessary — not just in theory, but in practice. If you can do it all in blues, why do you think so many raids wipe so much?

Including useless players. Some of them do considerably less damage than we in blue gear, others cause more damage to the team than they do to the boss. The guy who stand in the face of the bloodbeast and feed Saurfang with energy comes to mind. Also they abuse the tank and the healers for not being able to save them from their own stupidity. If we add “brb mum said bring down the garbage” or “brb phone” in the middle of the bossfight, we get total disaster.

How far into content will Undergeared go? When are you done?

Full Naxx, OS, Maly, Ulduar except yogg (we want three lights), ToC, ICC 6/12

Common wisdom and theorycrafting here at the WHU suggests that hunters are the best class to bring to… well to anything. Have you found this to be true in Undergeared?

Yes. In low gear hunters, especially BM are about 10-15% stronger than other classes. The pet does not scale well with gear, so it has a high base damage. We often see BM pet significantly outdamaging the hunter.

What are Undergeared plans for Cataclysm? Will you continue the mission?

Absolutely. This time we will start raiding the content with everyone else, so we’ll be ahead of many guilds, proving the point even more.

Is Undergeared recruiting?

Yes and will always do .

Thank you so much for your time and in demonstrating to the world that raids are beatable by basic skills, rather than awesome gear.

Thanks for being interested in Undergeared.


Now the big question is: is it possible for a raid of all blue-geared raiders — dpsers in blue gear, tanks in blue gear, healers in blue gear — to actually take down Festergut? The big “gear check” boss in ICC with a dps check as well as a healing tank cooldown blast from hell. Think they can do it?

Yeah, trick question. Shortly after my interview with Gevlon they took him down. Undergeared are now 8/12 in ICC. I don’t want to sound mean here or anything… but if your guild is not that progressed… well, that’s gotta really hurt now. There Festergut kill video is Here.

I leave you with this video of their Rotface kill — and I have to say that is the most appropriate Rotface music ever!

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  1. Valling says:

    Wow. This is incredible. Imagine if we put these guys in gear that everyone else is wearing. I have huge respect for Gevlon and his guild.

  2. Corso says:

    “OK players should leave them rot and go to better guilds where they can play with other OK players.”

    I understand its not really an option for pugs but helping other guild members learn to play their classes better and also learning from others is part of the game I’ve always enjoyed.

  3. Aizs says:

    Note,
    it’s not all just about player skill, tactics is important too.
    I have been in a lot a raid groups that don’t use any tactics they think you can just walk in and have chaos to kill a boss.
    come on, it’s a battle you have to have a plan, good players will follow that plan.

  4. Good Gracious says:

    I’m completely on the same page with Skill> Gear. I think it’s awesome what they are doing and all good luck to them. @Aizs Following Tactics comes with Skill… No Skill means that tactics aren’t followed.

    BUT…. having read his blog post… I have a problem with how far he takes it ethically. If I choose to carry my guild mates for whatever reason that does not make me a bad person, and it certainly doesn’t make them bad people either.

    “They cater the scum, supporting their useless existence.” skill. We gear them up because we think that gear mitigates the gaps in skill that occur because we’re tired and it’s the end of the week, and we’ve got the focus for playing an hour tops. And maybe if we can give them the boost, then we’ll get the boss down before our oomph runs out.

    But that’s why we’re a casual, social guild. We all do the best we can, with the tools we have.

  5. Good Gracious says:

    Umm…. there’s bits missing out of the middle of that – my bad, I think it thought it was HTML… (i’ll repost the last bit so it makes sense:)

    “They cater the scum, supporting their useless existence.”
    Very emotive language is used in his blog post.

    My guild mates are people I know in RL. Some don’t have the spatial awareness or concentration to perform at other people’s high expectations. We’re older than your usual players.

    They don’t gear up, and we don’t gear them up because we think gear > skill. We gear them up because we think that gear mitigates the gaps in skill that occur because we’re tired and it’s the end of the week, and we’ve got the focus for playing an hour tops. And maybe if we can give them the boost, then we’ll get the boss down before our oomph runs out.

    But that’s why we’re a casual, social guild. We all do the best we can, with the tools we have.

  6. Dianth says:

    wow! This interview has answered a few questions I’ve had about how Undergeared do what they do. I’ve followed Gevlon for a few years now and while I don’t always agree with him, as a professional educator, I have always been fascinated by his outside the box thinking.

  7. Valacia says:

    I wish I had the cohones and time to dedicate to raiding like this. Not that I am particularly enamored with the concept of not getting upgraded gear, but because I AM enamored with the concept of playing with skilled players. The most frustrating thing in the world is facing wipe after wipe because someone wasn’t paying attention.

    No gear means they have no hope of progressing without that skill and dedication, so you can be sure that every single time you step foot into the raid you aren’t going to be wasting time, and knowing that makes wiping a TON easier to swallow.

  8. Methuus says:

    Gracious, the thing to keep in mind is that Gevlon’s views are much more extreme than most, but almost all of us operate the way he does to a lesser degree.

    By that I mean that you most probably don’t spend all your game time helping out absolutely anybody who asks. You’ve picked a small group of people, your casual, social guild, and spend some of your in game time to help out the, in your view, less skilled (aka. the “morons & slackers” in Gevlon’s terminology :).

    But you, most likely, don’t spend all your time helping out everyone. For example, do you drop what you’re doing everytime a player you don’t know in tradechat says “plz run me thru deadmines”.

    What I’m getting at is that Gevlon simply treats everyone the same way normal people treat most of the players on the server.

  9. Methuus says:

    Valacia, you might be interested in the other guild that Gevlon runs, The PuG. Here’s his post introducing the concept:

    http://greedygoblin.blogspot.com/2010/06/pug.html

    It’s hard to explain exactly, you need to read the post to get the whole picture. But he’s sort of trying to run a raiding guild like a pug. (And they do use epics.)

  10. Chessier says:

    Somehow this theory just leaves me demoralized. No room for learning or improvement if you cant hit 2.5k in blues then you never will? As someone who has come into gaming at a later age the learning curve can be steep, but I pay my dues. perhaps I don’t deserve to raid?

  11. hunter22 says:

    If you read all his posts, you will see that he encourages & advises people who can’t hit the 2.5k dummy benchmark. It’s not that you can “never” raid, it’s just that you’re clearly not ready yet, so you need to do some more research & practice.

  12. gorix says:

    so far the best project about wow i have ever seen ( waiting for some dwarf hunter army at higher level). It’s a long time since i thought something like that, those guys just did it. My jaw simply felt down when i saw that video. And the good is that despite my better hope, i already found some guild mate ready to try such a way to raid.
    But… after all, frostheim, aren ‘t u also wondering ( now) how far can go a hunterparty only in blue gear?

  13. Mascaron says:

    It’s hard to determine where I stand with Gevlon and his undergeared raiding. On one hand he sounds pretty elitist and he cares about what other people think far too much. On the other hand he turned all that into action.

    in the end he can play the game anyway he wants.

  14. Chessier says:

    hunter22 thanks for that. I haven’t read all his post’s but I am glad you have. One of the many reasons Hunters are so awesome is there attitude towards there fellow Hunter’s. I’am very happy too learn and practice, improvement is such a buzz. The trouble is you see so much discouragement whilst running pugs it makes you wonder where does this attitude come from.

  15. Dharion says:

    Coming from a server (Silver Hand) where Gearscore> everything else, I applaud Undergeared’s efforts. I have always said that gear will NEVER be greater than skill. Yes, it can enhance skill if you have it, but it can never replace it.

  16. grimbow says:

    He lost me when he referred to someone being stupid because they aren’t very good at this game? Get a grip dude and lighten up.

    Worst article i have ever read on this site.

  17. Ottanok says:

    Gorix message makes me thing about something.
    “how far a raid of hunter could go in Cataclysm?”
    With a 95% raid dps healing themselves with new Chimera Shot bonus that heals them, and 5% Extreme solo build max stamina to make their pet tank… That could be fun.
    Small problem would be to heal the Tank hunter (would need to be BM to tank, not MM with the self heal). Maybe special trinket will exist (like the 500hp/5sec of Onyxia) or “heal your friend nearby.
    Any thoughts? Seems viable ^^

  18. Undra says:

    I wish them the best, but ICC is a special case for raiding with that increasing buff. In honest 251 gear, Arthas10 was nigh impossible until the 15% buff. I expect Gevlon’s crew to have ICC completed after the buff peaks, but any progress they make before then I’ll applaud just as loudly.

    I guess I’m one of the naysayers, i jsut know how close our first kills were in proper gear, So pulling off what amount to perfect runs is definitely an accomplishment. I certainly echo the sentiment, gear doesn’t matter, skill does. But there simply are fights where numbers have to be met and you can have all the skill in the world, but you can’t squeeze a pitcher of juice from one orange.

  19. Good Gracious says:

    @ Methuus
    Thanks for helping me out with the M&S terminology. I was wondering what that was about.

    Actually, apart from not being in trade chat, because I get sick of the potty mouths, and posturing, 9 times out of 10 when someone asks for help I do help. I’ve probably been lucky because I play in Australian evenings (which are US before 9am) so I don’t get the teens who the majority of the asshats. The people who’ve whispered for help have been polite and grateful. They’ve wanted help on quests, or how to level their hunter – and I’m glad to help.

    I’m very much the case of ‘Teach them to fish’. Gevlon’s stature is ‘let them starve’. It’s very Ayn Rand and Elitist and yeah it’s extreme. Which is why it illicits strong reactions and it polarises views. Neither of which is a good thing (TM).

    But it’s not my behaviour generally at any time to exclude people from my help for bad skill – bad attitudes? Yeah. But I do make the distinction. Gevlon does not.

  20. Dorianchika says:

    @Undra – Arthas is far from impossible without 15%+ buff. Its just a matter of a bit of practice handling defiles and having a strat in place for Vile Spirits. I imagine that Undergeared would eat Arthas alive if they can only pass the “Stamina” checks beforehand. Arthas is about technique, not a dps race when all is said and done.

  21. Aaeryn says:

    Well, the problem is that it doesn’t really matter what a raid group of unusually high skilled players can do outside of us simply being enamored at their achievements. Unless the majority of whatever server you all play on shares players of that same caliber, the experiment is wasted.

  22. Aaeryn says:

    …and I should add, I’ve seen that video of the rogue soloing patchwork, but does that mean that all rogues should be able to solo patchwork, and those that don’t have no business playing WoW? Because you don’t see one man ICC raid guilds, the obvious answer here is no.

  23. gevlon says:

    Thanks for the interview. Since it was created, we killed Festergut (8/12) and 2 bosses in RS.

    And yes, you should make a 21 hunters + 4 healers raid. I guess it could go up to Arthas (doubts about killing him since the valkyr must be stunned by someone)

  24. Saithir says:

    @Valacia – there’s very low amount of time that’s required for Undergeared – at least once you get your gear (and level up if you rerolled), there’s really only the raid on Saturday evening.

    @comments about Gevlon and his philosophy – fortunately, agreeing with all of his ideas is not a requirement for Undergeared. ;)

    Since there was a question about healers, and I play as Misaka the resto shaman there. I didn’t have any mana problems until Saurfang – IIRC, that was the first time I had to switch to mp5 flask and food.

  25. hunter22 says:

    If you’re not “good at this game”, we could say you “lack spacial awareness” because that’s really the only “skill” involved. Spatial awareness is usually considered to be a component of intelligence, so stupid is just shorthand.

  26. schu says:

    “Now that you’re downing ICC bosses, are you using the raid buff?

    Yes, just like everyone else.”

    Are they clearing it without the buffs until they down them once then use the buff up to that point?

    Either way awesome job keep it up.

  27. Gamerunknown says:

    Perhaps (if Gevlon reads this) for Sindragosa the brutal damage tanks take from frost breath could be mitigated by using a hunter’s pet to tank as Frostheim’s raid did? You could use savage (or brutal) gear to reach the uncrittable mark.

    Also, I’m not sure his philosophies can accurately be compared to those of Ayn Rand. Sure, some similarities could be posited (her disregard for the emotions of those who she did not deem to be worthy), but the core of her philosophy was mutual trade between equals, not fraud. I could dig up a quotation from Atlas Shrugged which mirrors her viewpoint on this if you want. If I could channel her, I think promoting the iceblade arrow scam would be something a “looter” would do. Likewise, I think she would be loath to label anything promoting those you care about as socialist. There was a quotation in Atlas Shrugged about how helping others to better themselves is a virtue, but helping others because they are worse than you is a vice. And perhaps, with her strong work ethic, she’d simply dismiss playing video games as a waste of time.

  28. Chimy says:

    I got the wrong impression from reading this interview… Gevlon seems a lot more elitist than he does on his actual site. His site is actually really amusing.

    I’ll be honest.. my guild is only 6/12. And does that mean we have some baddies in our guild. Absolutely. Is one of them me? Occasionally yes. I mess up on fights. And I rely on my gear and that of others to save my @ss. But I think the real reason why we wipe is because there are people who haven’t encountered some of the fight mechanics before and have to learn them before we get anywhere. Learning to do your job, while following a set of rules is a knowledge based skill and has to be obtained.

    Personally, I like what he’s doing and find it interesting that he’s challenging our perspectives on gearscore. Although I’ve seen his ruby sanctum postcard, I think that part of the reason they do as well as they do is that users who are used to fight mechanics need to be less reliant on gear to help them out. I also think that expert raid leaders are priceless. And I think he has both of those things going for him, in Undergeared.

    My only contention is that there’s really no way in wow, aside from spending a few hundred gold wiping, for new players to learn fight mechanics while doing their jobs. You just have to watch tankspot, find a group of people, and get a few corpse-runs under your belt. I don’t claim to have the answers, but it seems to me that instances are not raids, and they need to make potential raiders do a little more than kill 10 worgs, 5 million times in order to get from level 1 to 80. People are just too green when they first start out. In fact, I remember 8 months ago, I got my first 80 and had never entered a Northrend instance. I just never knew to do it!

  29. Mnemnosyne says:

    Fight mechanics don’t take weeks or months to learn, they take hours. Especially if it’s an older fight with detailed stratagems written all over the internet, and videos posted showing the mechanics and exactly what to do.

    If you’re not limiting yourself to blue gear, and you’re failing more than 5 or so times before succeeding at any fight (except perhaps the most extremely complex ones), the problem is that people are not learning. They’re not paying attention, not improving, not realizing their mistakes and no one is pointing them out to them, not accepting that they made mistakes, or some other factor that is preventing them from learning the fight.

    Some. People. Are. Stupid. They will not improve, no matter how many tries you give them. The only way to beat a fight when you have such people, is for the people that do improve to improve so much that they make the utter failures irrelevant. Some are capable of improvement but refuse to put in the necessary effort, because others are willing and able to carry them.

  30. Anony says:

    @gevlon, for a team of hunters the valkries don’t need to be killed as a spin disengage will send the targeted hunters right back onto the platform.

  31. Chessier says:

    Here we see the nub of the problem, Mnemnosyne says “Some. People. Are. Stupid.” which is of course completely true…. but making mistakes in a game is not authoritative evidence of such. In fact it only proves that at that time on that occasion they were failing. It may have been that they acted stupidly but that’s not the same thing. Tarring people with names does nothing to help them improve and may induce them to fail further as they become more stressed or nervous.

    Believe me I am no bleeding heart liberal but I think better player management and inter person skills would improve most “Stupid” peoples play by a noticeable amount. Oh and there are many people I’m happy to carry (within reason obviously) because they bring something else other than pure dps into a raid.

  32. Derp says:

    This is pointless and stupid, want a challenge? Turn the damn buff off, going in ICC with shit gear saying “oh look what I can do in blues lol@gearscore” shut up, don’t be stupid, is this some way of trying to prove your a good player? Because from the outside it makes you look like an idiot.

  33. Frostheim says:

    @Derp: please read the FAQ for posting guidelines and information on how you can disagree with someone without resorting to personal attacks.

    The point of Undergeared was not to prove how great they were at raiding — quite the opposite! The point is to prove how easy raiding is if your raid doesn’t have people playing with blinders. Nearly half the guilds out there — all of them in full epics, over 5k gearscores — have not progressed as far as Undergeared. Undergeared is proving that the problem is not gear.

  34. Chimy says:

    @Mnemnosyne: Ok. Fair enough. I’m not in total disagreement with you. But you mention, “better player management and inter person(al) skills”. Let’s say we’re wiping on dreamwalker. I’m not the raid leader. What’s the best way to figure out who ‘isn’t learning’ and who is? What’s the best way to figure out what to tell them to do? I think that’s where most of the problem lies… assigning blame (gently) and correcting behavior. I mean, ensidiafails can give you some information, I guess.. but in a raid where you’re scraping to get 10 people together for an ICC10.. What are your options? Replace a guildie with a pug? You can’t make people learn faster or be more aware and “Stupid” is the wrong word. Some people are better at multitasking. Others are better at focusing. A lot of the fights require you to pay attention to several things at once, and until you know the fight cold, you’re going to miss a few, unless you’re skilled at raiding. When you’re used to raiding all the time, then you get better at adapting to new strategies.

  35. elite says:

    if i culd i whould join with all the chars i got so to say, i’m no fanatic of GS nor do i fancy getting gear when i know i can do both healing, tanking and dps sufficient enough while other’s B-ch about “it’s my gear”… i realy cant see the need for getting better gear while letting u’r skill witter away… and by that i mean that u farm 1 instance, raid or not, only to get an item witch give’s about 20 more points in GS becos u didnt come over the GS-bar for ICC, when u culd help out downing one boss in ICC and maby saving u’r guild or firend’s from getting a, sorry the phrace, dumb FK that realy shuld read upp the entire place befor even thinking about going to ICC… and just so u know, i have healed ICC on my priest witch is dual holy and shadow and GS is not even close to 4k!

  36. Gatyaa says:

    at what server is this

  37. Cortx says:

    these guys are my heros…ever since coming back to WoW after a year, all they care about is GS and not skill, miss the old days of real playing. Keep it up guys even though I’m out of blue gear I still have alot of respect for true players and not rude little kids who won’t take you if you have one blue