Gear changes are coming! First, in Patch 5.4.8 (which is currently in testing on the PTR), all upgradable epic items introduced to the game in Patch 5.4 will be given the option to upgrade 2 more times for a grand total of 16 item levels. This change will be applied to all items found on the Timeless Isle and in Siege of Orgrimmar. For instance, if you have an item level 553 Greatsword of Pride’s Fall and its Upgrade Level is 2/2 making it item level 561, once the new patch goes live it will display 2/4 and allow you the opportunity to bump it up to item level 569. Whether you’re working on a newly boosted character or progressing through Siege of Orgrimmar, we hope this change will provide you with the extra punch you need to take down your foes.In practical terms, here's what it means:
If you've been diligently earning and upgrading gear, the day of the patch you can boost your overall ilvl by 4 by upgrading half of the your items (the most powerful ones first) due to saving 3000 Valor and earning another 1000. Then you can upgrade the rest over a period of 4 weeks. This is why I'm guessing that they WON'T reset valor -- so the people who get the biggest benefit are the people who don't need Valor currently (because they've been farming and upgraded their gear already).
If you're progressing constantly still and have pieces you've been upgrading and thus not valor capped, you can still focus your upgrades on more important items (and special items like Warforged which you probably won't replace for a while) but you'll get less of a benefit (but will eventually rise to the same bonus).
If you're undergeared/new, you can focus your upgrades but practically everything needs to be upgraded and will be replaced so you won't get much benefit until your gear is more constant (since you're already desperately spending all valor each week).
Or, in other words, the more stable and upgraded your gear is (which directly correlates to either farming full clears or being stuck on a boss and farming the previous ones for a while) the more of an immediate benefit you'll get. Over the long time everyone will get the full benefit but you get far less if you're not at the point where you need a nerf to help you get the next boss down.
I'm of three minds on this (yes, three).
First, Blizzard swore they weren't going to do zone-wide nerfs and would instead do targeted nerfs. So, they lied. Which is irritating because it makes it very hard to trust anything they say on this sort of thing.
Second, I don't really like the fact that Cutting Edge achievements are going to be available with a further nerfed Garrosh. A further 8 ilvls across your character is about a 12-16% power increase (more in some cases) which is equivalent to a 11-14% nerf. Firelands nerfs came way too soon. Dragon Soul nerfs made the timing of Firelands nerfs look amazing (like 8 weeks with winter holidays during that time). But now? We're like eight months into the tier.
If you can earn a Heroic Garrosh kill by the time the patch comes in a few weeks, great. But still offering it after 9+ months into a tier WITH a 10%+ nerf on top of that seems ridiculous for an achievement that is supposed to be a status symbol which is supposed to make heroic raiders not care as much about nerfs like this! It's extremely weird.
Third...at least the way they're going about it is better than anything in the past, for several reasons. There were three major issues with the zone-wide nerfs.
A. you didn't do anything, it just happened.
B. if you were stuck, better off just waiting for the next 5%.
C. if you just formed a raid and stepped into the content, you benefited from the nerf. It was meant to be for people who were ALREADY progressing and getting stuck, to push them over the edge...not to help characters who hadn't stepped foot into the zone before.
As you might guess, this method conveniently addresses ALL three of those problems.
A. you have to actually upgrade your items by earning the valor and obtaining the items in the first place.
B. there is no future nerf planned (that we know of and I'm fairly confident there won't be given this nerf) until 6.0, so sitting around won't help.
C. as mentioned above, this benefits people who have been farming/upgrading gear already the most -- it'll barely help a new alt for a long time. So it will actually help the guilds who need (perhaps even deserve) it the most.
On a side note, I've seen some people suggesting valor upgrades be cut to 125 each or that items drop at 2/4 upgraded already. This would be a BAD thing because it cuts against the point from earlier -- that this is meant to help the guilds who ALREADY have mostly upgraded gear because they've been progressing and farming. If you haven't been working on the content then you don't get much of a nerf to the content -- but you WILL if you keep working and farming. That's the "beauty."
All in all, I'm not thrilled by it (mainly due to Blizzard saying they WOULDN'T do this and because Cutting Edge will still be available) but it doesn't leave as sour a taste in my mouth due to their exact method -- which is massively better than ICC/FL/DS.
Dare I point out, though, that if Blizzard timed their expansions properly that WoD would be out already or out within a month or two and thus this wouldn't even be an necessity?