WoW can live without reforging, but it wasn’t all bad. I want to point out the reasons I like it, in hopes that those elements remain in the game in some form.
Now, reforging for most specializations wasn’t engaging. Most specs had a static stat priority, and all reforging brought to the table was a cascading money sink to change some of your bad stats into good stats and to reach hard caps. It was the way for most specs, but as Brewmasters we got to experience many of its redeeming features, beyond reaching hit and expertise caps. And I think these features are worth perserving in one way or another.
1. Temporary stat customization.
Here at the 5.4 endgame, we Brewmasters have two common stat priorities: mastery for smoothing and crit for dps. We are flexible enough that we can go to either extreme or compromise in the middle and that choice added additional gameplay to our class. Beyond personal customization, this gave us another way to adapt to each encounter (if you’re one of those people who reforged often). If one boss was hitting particularly hard, then you could reforge to mastery and feel like you contributed as much as you could to the progression effort, and it made you feel intelligent for understanding your stats.
In 6.0, the only ways to customize our gear will be gems and enchants. Gems will be very rare, so we can’t count on their existence or our ability to swap gems around on a whim. Enchants will probably remain inconvenient as ever, though the developers have suggested that we will have more choices for enchants. We can also count talents as temporary customization, and that’s a more elegant system to begin with. However, temporary stat customization will likely be a thing of the past. To be fair, only a handful of raiders actually employed this use of reforging.
2. Personal customization of haste and other soft-capped or subjective stats.
Haste and spirit were two stats that were often up to the player. There was no right answer for everyone, and for most players you had to experiment to find the level you were comfortable with. If you look at the top brewmasters in both 10 and 25, they will often have a wide spread of haste. Some have very low, some have very high, some have 6k some have 8k, etc. Reforging helped to meet those personal caps precisely. On top of haste, in 6.0 we will have another soft-capped stat in the form of cooldown reduction.
Without reforging, our only avenue for personal customization will be through gems and enchants. We will lose precise control, but hopefully enchants will offer a variety of choices of secondary stats like haste and cooldown recovery.
3. Reforging made bad gear taste better.
Besides reaching caps, I seem to remember that this was one of the big reasons reforging was implemented. It sucks to have a piece of your tier with a bad stat. For brewmasters, the only stats we really didn’t like were dodge and hit/exp when already over cap, and those are going away. This is more something I remember from playing a druid in Cata, when haste was abysmal and all over our gear and tier. Reforging made that pill a little easier to swallow, so that we could alleviate that painful haste into something better. Now that tier sets will be shared among all three specs, this might be even more painful because the tier can never be optimized for your spec.
Unlike the other two, I don’t see how Blizzard can make this better unless they magically balance all classes so that all stats have at least some value. I don’t think that can happen. It’s possible that the choosing to keep a lower ilvl piece of well-itemized gear over a higher ilvl piece is now an acceptable decision, or well-itemized off pieces over poorly itemized tier, whereas a few years ago that was something they wanted to avoid.
Reforge No More
Reforging wasn’t a perfect mechanic. It wasn’t fun for most specs, and a hassle for everyone with hard caps. However, when I first heard it was “…gone!”, I was very unhappy because for me it does introduce a lot of interesting gameplay. After thinking about it for a while, I now realize that it brought too much un-engaging complication to the game. I hope that gems, enchants, and other forms of gear customization can fill the hole left by reforging.