Gear score is a numerical value based on the statistics of a player’s gear. It is (supposedly) the maximum potential of a player’s performance. However, it is up to the player to perform that well. In addition to item level (ilvl), the item’s actual statistics or abilities may or may not be included for calculation, as determined by specific formulas or addons.
The purpose of GS is to show other party or raid members your equipped gear items in a tooltip, without “Inspect” operation. Server periodically scans character’s gear and put their score in the data base. The GS system is not exactly anyway – it will show you the same gear level for items even if the items are or not gemmed and are or not enchanted. This system points will not change if a Glyph is applied or not. This system will not change depending by character DPS level, player skills and player’s raid encounter tactic knowledge. The GS will not analysis the item if it is useful for specified class. For example, when ele shaman equips some enhancement shaman’s gear or hunter gear ilevel264, with agility and attack power attributes, this will have the same GS points as any eligible “elemental” gear ilvl264, with Intellect and Spell Power attributes, in the same slot. In general case GS is still very useful and you will not be invited in mostly Northrend raids if your GS is below 5,000GS(5kGS).
Most commonly, gear scores are a metric used to evaluate the relative strength of a player’s equipment as a way of determining if that player meets a given threshold to join in certain raids or groups going through an instance. It should be noted that a given gear score, no matter which formula is used, does not necessarily mean that other players can not demand higher scores from others before joining a raid or group.
The usage of gear scores has caused a large amount of controversy due to a proportion of players who view it as unnecessary and distracting in the face of others options like DPS or Achievements.
Players often feel they are skilled enough to overcome their lack of gear. They feel upset that they are not given the chance to prove themselves because they fail whatever gear score requirement was imposed by the raid leader. A veteran player with a low gear score can outperform a newer player with a high gear score. Similarly a high gear score tank can be the counterweight for a low gear score healer or vice versa.
GS levels in Wotlk instances:
1. 2000 – 2500 GS. This is the average gear level for most players, which arrives to Northrend after Outland zones. This gear will help to complete mostly quests during leveling and to run only Nexus, Utgarde Keep, Azjol-Nerub normal mode dungeons.
2. 2500 – 3000 GS. This gear rating is possible to have only from Northrend quests rewards and most normal mode dungeons.
3. 3000 – 3900 GS. This GS is available after farming most Northrend dungeons in Heroic mode and by buying rare and epic items from different faction quartermasters (they offer some gear ilvl 185-200 mostly), after increasing the reputation to Revered or Exalted to them.
4. 3900 – 4900 GS. The barrier of 4kGS is hard enough to overcome. This is the point where some epic items from AH, by crafting them or buying through early farmed Frost and Triumph Emblems will help a lot. At 4100 GS (all items should be over level 200 to be allowed there) is possible to start The Frozen Halls dungeons farming in Normal mode, by starting the quest chains – Inside the Frozen Citadel. If your character is in a guild, then this process will be much easier. The Frozen Halls farming in Normal and Heroic modes will help to upgrade your character gear to 5000 GS. If you have some online friends or your guild is patient enough, then at 4500 GS is possible to do some raids in VoA, OS and OL 10 mode only! In this case some well geared tanks and healers are required and, moreover, personal tactic mistakes are not allowed.
6. 5300 – 5600 GS. Probably at this GS interval the real Wotlk PVE raiding begins. This interval opens the access to ICC10 Normal, Ulduar25, RS10 Normal, ToC25 Normal and ToC10 Heroic and all early described of course. These raids bosses drops epic items lvl 245-251, which can help to tune your character spec in the most flexible and full mode (all slots), and overall gearing going very fast, especially by raiding with guild.
7. 5600 – 6050 GS. This score is required to complete ICC25 Normal, RS25 N, ICC10 Heroic and ToC25 Heroic and to get the Kingslayer title in the most common mode. I should to admit that ToC25 HC is harder than ICC25 N or RS25 N. These raids take about 60% of raid events which happens on Wotlk realms, and gear score near 6k is a ticket to do most of them in guilds or with “pugs”.
8. 6050 – 6600 GS. The gear is referred to ICC25 HC and RS25 HC only. This GS is the “Final Goal” of any PVE raider, which helps to make a BiS characters through raiding. Usually it can take 5 – 6 months to make a BiS geared character by raiding every week, even with a very skilled and organized guild. The marketplace will help here a lot anyway.
9. 6600 – 7000 GS. This is the Legendary Gear Score! Such rating can have only DK, Paladins and Warriors only, by wearing Shadowmourne axe and a lot of ilvl284. The paladins and DK can stack their GS to 6800-6900 GS through useful BiS gear. Only Warriors can have 7kGS, because they can stack more useful gear lvl284 (I once seen such warrior).
Tip. The GS is not the absolute condition to participate in raid events. You should to prove you character eligibility by demonstrating some completed raid achievements and DPS score. To get some achievements and raiding skills the guilds, with normal raid mode progression, are the only one way. With pugs is near impossible to complete more than 50% raid progression to get some valuable achievements (none Heroic even), because players will leave permanently, another don’t know tactics well, third – just farming some boss item and after specified boss will DC or gone AFK. If you will find some very skilled and prepared players, then put them in your friends list. With them is possible to complete most 10 mode raids easily and fast. To count GS score is required to install the addon GearScore 3.3.5 (watch paragraph 2.7. Our Friendly Addons).