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Buying crown gear for gold

Dec 02, 2008
Quite some time ago, the decision was made to add crown gear to the game to try to get people to pay more, but to let players buy the same gear in shops for gold, to avoid being one of those dreaded games where you have to buy from the item mall to compete. There was seasonal fluff gear that couldn't be bought for gold, but neither did it give any gameplay advantage over that which could be bought, so that didn't unbalance anything.

Pat O'Gold seems to have changed that model. Most of the items still fit the old approach. For example, compare:

Gold Stringed Harp (crown gear)
5 cards
50 life damage
No level requirement

Antique Wand (shop gear)
7 cards
50 life damage
Requires level 5

Antique Wand requires level 5, but wands really aren't useful until then. It gives two extra cards, making it arguably the better wand. Clover Wand and Pot o' Gold Wand are identical to Gold Stringed Harp, and hardly objectionable.

About the same happens with most of the rest of Pat O'Gold's wands, with level 15, 25, and 35 variants, all slightly inferior to what's buyable in shops. One could argue that Pat's level 25 and 35 gear have the very slight advantage that they're purchaseable in Wizard City, rather than having to wait until you reach Marleybone or Mooshu, respectively, but that's pretty minor.

Until you get to page 3 of what she offers. Whoever set up the crown gear knows this, as they made the other items cost a lot more.

Scepter of the Shield
5 cards
75 life damage
No level requirement

What you have there is basically a level 25 wand without the level requirement, and with 1 card fewer than Glowing Jade Wand, which is bought in the Marleybone wand shop. Pat O'Gold's level 15 wand likewise does a lot more damage than a normal level 15 wand. Then comes the level 25 wand.

Harp o' the Emerald Isle
5 cards
90 life damage
1 pip
Requires level 25

The nearest comparison to that is from the Mooshu shop.

Staff of Deep Thought
5 cards
85 life damage
1 pip
Requires level 35

That requires a player to be ten levels higher and gives 5 life damage less. Compared to the Marleybone wands, this not only does more damage, but also gives an extra pip. This is basically using crowns to buy better gear sooner.

One could argue that this isn't really a new thing. What crown gear has done all along is to let people who buy crowns get better gear sooner as they level up. Someone who wished to buy with gold wouldn't have enough gold for everything, though at least they were given the token option.

Here's what is new, though.

Charmed Shamrock Staff
5 cards
95 life damage
1 power pip
Requires level 45

If Dragonspyre had a wand shop, those are the stats that the life wand in it would have. Dragonspyre does not have a wand shop, however. The extra damage may not be a big thing, but the difference between a normal pip and a power pip is huge. This is far superior to the best normal shop purchaseable wand in the game, and it's only available for crowns.

That said, it's not the best gear in the game. Zora Steelwielder drops an identical wand. Valeska Redwind drops a slightly better one, doing 100 damage rather than 95. There are other Dragonspyre bosses that drop analogous wands that do other damage types.

Crown gear always made me nervous, and inching toward making it more important really makes me nervous. Is this to be the model for future seasonal holidays: offering non-fluff crown gear that isn't buyable for gold in shops?