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World of Warcraft Gear Score
Practically anyone who's ever attempted to jump into a raid or even a heroic instance in World of Warcraft has at one time encountered the dreaded gear score requirement. Some raid leaders, eager to fill spots but wary of allowing players with gear that may not be up to snuff for a particular instance, blatantly discriminate based on the number they receive when they plug your character name into a gear score website or addon.
The first time I encountered it, I had no idea what gear score was. Now I watch it closely.
For those who aren't sure what the whole WoW gear score thing is all about, we present a basic introduction, as well as info on where you can find out your own score.
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What is WoW Gear Score?
Gear score, in a nutshell, is a combination of the ilvl values of every piece of equipment that you wear, combined with the value of any enchantments or other enhancements you have added to them. The formula adds up everything you're wearing and produces a score, essentially a sum of all the values.
It is a good way to get a quick general idea of the quality of the equipment a character is wearing. If you're still rocking your level 80 greens, for instance, then you are going to score far lower than someone fully decked out in gear from Ice Crown. In general terms, it provides a measurement of the level of content a character has experienced, based on their ability to acquire and equip items from certain level content.
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Advantages of WoW Gear Score
If you're trying to fill up a raid quickly, and you have to choose between several players of the same class, gear score provides a quick and easy way to get an approximation of their gear. Unless a player is equipping the wrong type of equipment (wrong stats, leather for a tank, stuff like that) then chances are you're going to be better off picking the player with the higher score.
When the difference in score is vast, then it's usually a good way to tell which player is going to be more successful. When the score is closer, though, the player with the higher score is not always the best choice.
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Disadvantages of WoW GearScore
Gear score fails to take into account the ability of the player in question. That low-scoring Priest might be the alt of a very experienced player, while the higher-scoring Druid you're considering instead might just be someone's little brother who hopped on his account. You never know until you actually play with a person.
Gear score is not fool-proof. Players can artificially inflate their score by equipping items that, while they have a high ilvl score, don't necessarily fit their class or spec. A tank wearing a full set of tier 8 DPS gear is going to have a high gear score, certainly, but when you get into the instance you're quickly going to discover you've made the wrong choice.
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How do I check my World of Warcraft Gear Score?
WoW Heroes is an old favorite, providing players with both their overall gear score and an approximation of what instances they should be qualified to run.
WTF is my Gear Score is another easily-remembered website that can provide your score at a glance. It's a bit more basic, but if the score is all you're after, then you can find it quickly.
If you're looking for an in-game solution, check out the GearScore addon. After you install it, you can simply mouse over a character to see their gear score. The addon stores scores in a database so you can access them even when you're nowhere near the character. GearScore also sports integrated armory functionality, allowing you to check out the armory without leaving the game.