Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Guide to Gear Score

Love it or hate it, the concept of Gear Score has become a persistent part of life in Azeroth. It often plays a roll in determining what groups you can get into, what guilds you can apply to, and generally how other players perceive you and your character. Despite these facts, many players do not understand exactly what a "Gear Score" is, let alone how it works. Thankfully, I intend to clear that all up below.

What is Gear Score?

Generally speaking, a Gear Score is a numerical value assigned to a character based on the quality of the gear that player has equipped. There are many different programs and websites which can tell you your "Gear Score," but the number scale and value associated with each piece of gear can vary greatly from one source to the next. When referred to in game, however, players are generally referring to the number generated by the GearScore addon available on Curse Gaming and if someone in game asks you what your Gear Score is, they likely want to know what number the add on assigns to you.

What is My Gear Score?

There are two ways to find out your Gear Score. The first is to simply ask someone with the GearScore add on to tell you what it is in game. Generally a "Can someone whisper me my Gear Score" posted in Trade Chat will generate some quick responses. Keep in mind that the Gear Score you get from other players might be out of date as your number is only updated for other players when they actually encounter you in game.

The other, better way to learn your Gear Score is by installing the add on yourself. You can download the GearScore addon from You can then follow the install instructions listed under the "Install" tab to activate the add on. The next time you log into World of Warcraft, GearScore will be running and your Gear Score will be posted on your character page. Additionally, over time, you will start seeing the Gear Scores of other players whenever you mouse over them. Welcome to the future!

How is Gear Score Calculated?

GearScore looks at each and every item a player has equipped and assigns it a numerical value. The number is affected by both the items quality (Blue, Epic, etc.) and the stats on the item. Generally speaking, items with a higher Blizzard assigned "ilevel" will also have a higher Gear Score. The add on then adds the numbers for all a player's items together and viola: Gear Score.

How Can I Raise My Gear Score?

The simple answer is get better gear, but there are some tricks you can use to quickly or artificially inflate your Gear Score. First, go all Epics as soon as you can. Gearscore severely penalizes items that are not purple so even a single holdout blue item can drop your Gear Score by hundreds of points.

Second, get some PvP gear. One of GearScore's biggest weaknesses is that it does not differentiate between PvP and PvE gear. That means that even though your ilevel 232 PvE boots may be better for your performance, ilevel 252 PvP boots will net you a significantly higher Gear Score. Cashing in a handful of Honor Tokens is a fast easy way to boost your Gear Score, especially if you only have those pesky blue quest boots holding you back from full Epics.

Third, you can plan your upgrades around your Gear Score. The GearScore add on will not only show you players' composite Gear Scores, but will also show the Gear Score point value associated with each piece of armor in the game. Once you install the add on, you will be able to tell which pieces of equipment are holding your Gear Score back. By replacing these items first, your can push up your Gear Score as quickly as you can.

Lastly, as you can use PvP items to inflate your Gear Score, you can also use powerful items that are not particularly helpful for your character. Whether it is a high ilevel off-spec item or a random greed roll purple you picked up in a heroic, GearScore does not care if you need or want an item. GearScore only cares how powerful an item itself is. A melee swapping out his green Attack Power Trinket for an Epic Spellpower one can easily fool GearScore and get you in groups your "real" trinket might bar you from.

Isn't Gear Score Unfair?

Some would say it is, others would say it isn't. Really, the add on itself is just a tool that players can use in fair ways and unfair ways. Aside from the tricks above, GearScore is relatively successful at giving a raid leader a snapshot of the quality of a player's gear. However, as any good World of Warcraft player knows, gear is only part of the equation. There are plenty of heroes wandering Azeroth that have amazing gear, but little skill. Likewise, there are tons of green laden alts and noobs out there who know every raid encounter and their class like the back of their hands.

With some discretion, a reasonable Gear Score requirement for a particular raid or guild is not a bad thing in and of itself. It is when the requirements become unreasonable or all discretion goes out the window that the GearScore add on starts to get a bad rap. Fair or unfair though, Gear Score is something that will affect how you play World of Warcraft, so it is best to understand it.


  1. Oh, gear-score.

    It's such a double-edged sword. Like you said, the ad-on itself isn't a problem but how people abuse it can be. Kind of like back in the days of yore when achievements came out, and you had to link it in order to get into raids.

    The issue with it's abuse is that there is a significant gap now between what you can get from grinding heroics and current content. From what I've seen, many new 80's and alts can get somewhere between 4800 and 5100 from triumph badges and drops from the ICC dungeons. Many pugs require 5500+ so there's a bit of a no-man's land from content people don't run much anymore (Ulduar / TotC).

    That's when your tricking methods of useless epics and pvp gear come in very handy, haha.

    Good read.

  2. Thanks, I am glad you enjoyed it.

    "No-man's land" is a perfect way to describe it. Without getting dragged through ICC 10 a couple times it is incredibly tough to hit even the gear score many people expect for VoA.

    It might be interesting to see what the maximum possible gear score would be without raiding, using PvP gear and/or cashing in Frost Badges. I bet your estimate is spot on and most players would scoff at those kind of numbers as too low to raid.

  3. I'm actually almost there. Resto shaman @ about 4980 right now, there is little more I can upgrade via triumph badges that would actually benefit my spec. I've got a few pieces of 264 PvP gear, and I'm farming some ICC 5's for a trinket or two.
    I'll let you know once I have hit rock bottom what I end up with XD.