Yeaaaah, this is late. I'm just not going to make an excuse and jump right into things. XD
Admittedly, my article on welfare epics was outdated long before I posted it. So think of this as a bit of a continuation of that article so I can update the argument to include the newest content.
Last time, my argument was that there was some relative truth to the "welfare epics" theory. Generally speaking, the PvP gear is interchangeable with PvE gear despite stressing different functions (longevity versus instantaneous results) and the same is not true vice versa due to the resilience stat. So the new question is, if Seasons one through three were comparable to Tier four through six, what does that make Season 4? Is it unfair that there's a Season 4 available and not a Tier 7?
Now, my first instinct is to say the PvEr's got first advantage with the release of Sunwell in patch 2.4. However, before I form a real opinion, I need to compare the available gear to one another to see which, if either, is superior. I will once again compare Paladin Holy gear for simplicity's sake.
Sunwell |||| Season 4
------- |||| -----------
Armor..............8104 |||| Armor..............8055
Stamina...........207 |||| Stamina...........313
Intelligence.....194 |||| Intelligence.....192
Spell Crit.........93 (100) |||| Spell Crit.........185 (189)
+ Healing........550 |||| + Healing........397
+ Mp5.............65 (70) |||| + Mp5.............0
Resilience.......0 |||| Resilience.......136 (143)
Spell Haste.....64 |||| Spell Haste.....0
5x Red Socket |||| 4x Red Socket
3x Yellow Socket |||| 2x Yellow Socket
3x Blue socket |||| 0x Blue Socket
1x Meta Socket |||| 1x Meta Socket
It is also worth noting that there is no set bonus for having the Sunwell pieces - they aren't part of a set, I'm just comparing the two sets. The lack of slots in comparison on the S4 gear is made up by the two miscellaneous bonuses: The Glove equip which gives a +2% crit chance to Flash of Light spells, and the 4 pc bonus which gives +30% healing to Holy Shock spells.
What we see here is a relative change, but not because of the direct scale in between the gear. Only because we have, at this point, reached the highest tiers and it's gear expectation that scales terribly, not the gear itself. While you could gem for a decent amount of Mp5 to make up for the deficiency, it wouldn't be *enough* for Sunwell standards. To be honest, that could also be true for the S3 to T6 comparison. However, wearing S4 would make you pretty much set on T5 content and under - and it's arguably quite easy to get at least a couple pieces of S4.
The problem of welfare epics, therefore, is not that they're interchangeable at the same level, but that they are easier to obtain to blast through lower level content. Basically, you can skip T4 content, jump straight into T5 and early T6, and get to late T6 to Sunwell content without half the effort other players put into the work. That is the ethical issue that I, and many others, have the problem with.
Even badge gear can't be considered "welfare" as you really do have to work to get the amount of badges it takes to get similar gear. Heroics aren't easy unless you have people way outgearing it, and it's simply a lot easier to grind honor or arena points than it is to farm badges. Perhaps that's a personal opinion, but anyone can jump into a BG or make a 2's team for points - gathering a tank, a healer, and two others to do a Heroic (or gathering a 10-man raid for Kara) is a little more difficult.
What I think I'm most annoyed with is that Blizzard keeps saying they try to make PvP and PvE interchangeable, yet they failed miserably at it by introducing the Resilience stat. There really wasn't a reason to introduce it in the first place - all it really accomplished is screwing over all crit-based damage classes, such as Rogues, Mages, Retribution Paladins, and Boomkins. They all *rely* on their ability to do burst damage, especially when fighting healers. All Resilience did was tip the scales in the healer's favor for survivability - it doesn't really help any of the other classes or specs.
To answer my self-imposed question, Season 4 is not fair - at the very least, it provides near-equivalent T6 (or superior in some cases) Gloves to every class except Tanks for practically no effort. As to the answer for Welfare Epics, while I don't like the concept, I can't say I don't use them. Granted, Blizzard didn't provide me in particular much of a choice - let me know when you see some actual Retribution Paladin gear drop in PvE content. I'll start looking for the flying pigs. =P
Tomorrow, I'll start the delve into the new Paladin talents. That will be the next three posts - distinct analysis on each of the trees for paladins. Unfortunately, I won't be doing this for other classes, since I simply don't possess the knowledge for high-end talents for any other class. Though I may be persuaded to do some rough one-day analysis of particular classes and my thoughts if people really have a demand for it. Simply comment in the next few days and I'll be happy to comply!