As far as expansions and beta testing goes, some changes are made with big announcements and lots of attention. Others are slipped in and almost go unnoticed by the community. Most of the time the community focuses on the big flashy announcement, but that doesn't mean the other changes are unimportant. Once such change was made recently, and you probably want to pay attention to it.
As we all know, a meta gem's above average bonus comes with a cost. To activate a meta gem, the other gems you have equipped must meet a specific criteria. Typically these meta gem requirements are fairly small like "Must have two Blue Gems Equipped" or "Must have one Red and one Yellow Gem Equipped." For example, in WotLK the requirements for the Chaotic Skyflare Diamond was to have two blue gems equipped. It was a little inconvenient because blue was our worst colored gem for most of the expansion, but needing to equip just to wasn't a big pain because it could be done with Purple gems and it was just 2 gems.
We've known for some time that this was going to change in Cataclysm because the Chaotic Shadowspirit Diamond had different requirements, but they recently got worse.
Chaotic Shadowspirit Diamond Activation Requirements:
# Old: Requires more Blue Gems then Yellow Gems.
# New: Requires more Blue Gems then Red Gems.
Not only that, but they've gone back and changed the older versions of the Chaotic meta to have the same requirement as the Chaotic Shadowspirit Diamond.
How it works and what this means:
As most of you know the hybrid gem colors green, orange and purple count as multiple gem colors. For example, a single green gem counts as both a blue gem and a yellow gem when it comes to meta requirements and socket bonuses. In WotLK his worked to our advantage, because we could use hybrid gems to meet socket and meta requirements, why still getting some Spellpower/Intellect from our favored gem color red.
If the current meta gem requirements in beta go live, then the hybrid gem colors will actually work against us in most cases and will change the way we gem all socket colors. For every red or orange gem you have socketed you will have to have a blue or green gem socketed plus one additional blue or green gem. Purple gems don't factor into the equation since they count as both a blue and a red gem. Lets take it by socket type and see what the possibilities are (assuming you want to get the socket bonus).
Red & Prismatic Sockets: Ideally we will want to socket Brilliant/Int gems in the red sockets. This shouldn't be hard to achieve since you are likely to have more yellow and blue sockets then red sockets. However, if you have an abundance of red sockets that can't be balanced by your yellow and blue sockets, you may need to put a few purple gems into your red sockets to balance the Meta Gem requirement.
Yellow Sockets: Depending on your needs for hit, yellow sockets should be socketed with either a Quick gem (yellow) or a Lightning gem (green). Orange gems would only be useful if you had very few Red sockets and significantly more blue gems socketed then red gems.
Blue Sockets: Again, depending on your needs for hit, blue sockets should be socketed with either a Sparkling gem (blue) or Lightning gem (green). Purple gems would only be useful in blue sockets if they didn't upset the balance of red to blue gems, as in you have a lot of blue gems socketed but few red gems socketed.
Why this is a Problem:
This change is inconvenient for sure, but my problems with this change go beyond me just disliking it as a player. In my opinion, the new Chaotic meta gem requirement is a clear example of bad design. I know that a lot of players like to call anything they don't like "bad design," but I try not to use those words for anything I simply don't like or disagree with. In this case, I think the new requirement runs counter to several of Blizzards implied stated goals and design philosophies.
1. It creates a trap. When it comes to choosing DPS gems a couple of things are fairly clear for caster DPS at least. Red and red hybrid gems are the best because they provide Intellect our primary DPS stat. After you do a little math it's also clear that the Chaotic meta gem is the best meta gem. Yet, the new requirement sets these two basic rules against each other and creates a situation that is counter intuitive and confusing to players. Blizzard has said in the past they don't like to have traps in the talent trees. If that is true, then they shouldn't like meta gems that create a trap as well.
2. It works against profession bonuses. In WotLK, Blizzard worked really hard to keep the profession bonuses relatively equal in terms of stats and game play. As a result most of the professions provided around 47 spell power and it didn't matter a lot which crafting professions you had. The problem is that two of the profession bonuses are centered around gems and gem sockets. Jewelcrafting can probably work around it, but it's a big problem for Blacksmithing, since it's profession bonus is two prismatic gem sockets. This means that a blacksmith has to have two additional blue gems as well and may have to down grade another gem just to activate his meta.
3. It's a higher requirement then other Meta gems. All of the other meta gems have a simple to understand requirement like "Requires at least 2 yellow gems." I realize that the chaotic meta is very valuable for DPS specs, but the requirement is inconsistent when compared to the other meta gems. Tanks and healers aren't being asked to jump through similar hoops. For the Austere meta, the requirement is two yellow gems. It's not ideal, but not hard comply with either. The Eternal meta gem requires 3 blue gems which a tank will have by default. The healing meta's designed along the same lines, and that makes me wonder why DPS is being singled out for difficult to meat meta requirement.
4. It makes gear upgrades complicated and expensive. Under the new requirement, any gear change could upset the balance of your meta gem requirement For example, if you have a pair boots with two gem sockets and replace them with some boots without gem sockets, then you may have to regem an item unrelated to the upgrade to maintain your socket balance.
This change is more then just inconvenient. It changes the way Moonkin and other DPS specs will gem their gear completely. It forces us away from our favored stats and creates a situation where the correct gemming choices are counter intuative.
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