After lots of quests in Hellfire Peninsula, and many runs to Hellfire Rampart and Blood Furnace, my equipment on my undead priest main has changed. I have two new staves, the green Totemic Staff from the Mag'har quest line, which with its +80 to spell damage and healing is great for soloing. And the Crystalfire Staff from the second rampart boss, which only has +46 to spell damage and healing, but has better +int bonus, for group play. I have two new wands, both better than Hakkar's Touch of Chaos, and carry them both around, in case some mob is immune against one of them. I also have a new ring, and some new trinkets I swap in and out with my old ones. But my armor is still 5 pieces of tier 1 gear from Molten Core, and 3 pieces of tier 2 gear from Ragnaros, Onyxia, and BWL.
Up to now I simply haven't received any drop or quest reward that was better than the raid armor I had. Some came pretty close, but why would I want to lose my set bonus to replace a set piece with something of roughly the same power level? In many cases the Burning Crusade items I found had a better bonus to stamina, and a less high bonus to intellect, and that isn't really what I need for my priest. What I need is high +int and +spirit bonus for groups, and high +spell damage bonus for soloing. Up to now my major increase of soloing power is through having gotten that PvP wand with 97 dps, with a secondary contribution of the +80 spell damage staff, and not a single piece of armor found which would help me soloing.
If I wasn't eager to raise the level of my main character to keep up with my guild, I'd have better luck with gear playing my warrior or the human priest, both of which are running around in tier 0 gear. For them most quest items and instance loot would be an improvement. But the raid character is vendoring most of the soulbound armor he gets from instances and quests. I guess I will have to wait to level 65 or higher before I have all of my pre-BC raid gear replaced. And I wonder how Burning Crusade plays for somebody who is already wearing tier 3 armor.
So as far as armor goes, the early Burning Crusade levels equalize everybody to where the raiders already were, closing the gap between raiders and non-raiders, and giving better weapons to both of them. On the one side that makes sense, because it offers everybody a fresh start into the next round of endgame. But on the other hand it raises expectations that the next expansion will do the same. And then it becomes a case of "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me." I certainly want to *see* the new Burning Crusade raid dungeons. But do I want to visit each of them a hundred times, and grind whatever the equivalent of Silithus is in Burning Crusade between raids, just to acquire gear which makes my experience of the next expansion less fun? I don't think so. The raiding endgame concept only makes sense if it *is* the end. As an activity for a temporary stop it is rather foolish, especially in view of all the guild drama it usually causes.