Today's post is in response to a thoughtful post by Viktory over at World of Matticus. Viktory gives a few examples of where BoP drops from bosses have been disenchanted for the maelstrom crystals, despite them being either a slight upgrade or a good offspec piece. There were exceptional circumstances in one case, but we will go into that later.
The argument for DEing is that the crystal can be used for a high level enchant, and this enchant will be of more benefit to the toon than the slight upgrade. On the surface, this seems like decent logic. However, my main issue with this is the price of the crystal on the AH. On most servers, the crystals sit at around 1k. So the choice you have is between a BoP upgrade or 1k.
In Cataclysm, gold in so easy to make that it isn't ever an issue for many players. I find it unlikely that any self-respecting raider is lacking maxed (or near maxed) professions. Most professions can make 1k with little time or effort. If you have the mental capacity to raid, you can make money on the AH.
Even if the epic was a slight upgrade or an off-spec piece, I feel the drop would benefit the guild far more than a measly 1k. The benefit of the guild is the key issue here - which is worth more to the guild: A slightly improved main spec (or vastly improved offspec) or an easily made 1k? Note that you are not making a direct choice between the gear or the enchant.
To me, if that offspec is used in just one progression raid then the trade-off has been worth it. I would go so far as to say that if a guildmate was choosing between an off-spec piece or a crystal, I would give them 1k and let them keep the drop, as it is better for the guild overall. The fact that some of the maelstrom enchants are only marginally better than the cheaper counterparts make this decision even easier in some cases.
The exception mentioned earlier is if the raider knows they would replace the piece immediately following the raid, for example if they now have enough valor points for the tier piece. In that case it might be fair enough to DE. But even still, if that piece of gear is the difference between killing the next boss or not (unlikely I know, but every little helps!) then that would be worth 1k to me. Another exception would be choosing to save DKP for a later upgrade, as that is a totally different issue.
How many boss kills do you think this slight upgrade (or off-spec) would have to take part in before it is worth the 1k you would otherwise have had?