So taking all of this into consideration, a player could theoretically get 4 pieces of Tier 8 gear without ever setting foot into Ulduar, simply by grinding out Heroics and getting a couple of lucky drops from Emalon. To get the Tier 8 hat and gloves, you would need a combined total of 116 badges. At roughly four badges per Heroic, that's just shy of 30 Heroics. That sounds like a lot, but when you take into consideration how people got their gear in The Burning Crusade, it really sort of... isn't a lot at all. This is a big step away from what the developers stated they want to do, but as I said, I imagine it's a change made in the interest of encouraging people to continue running Heroics.
Of course, Conquest badges won't be the best of the best in patch 3.2, because we're getting our hands on Emblems of Triumph, the new Tier 9 badges. However, they're doing something differently here, too: Both 10man and 25man versions of the Tier 9 raids will drop the same Emblems, there is no longer a split. That means the 10man version of the raids will be able to get their hands on the same iLevel gear as the 25man version, unless there's some crazy black magic afoot that we won't get to see until we're on the PTR ourselves.
Of course, Emblems aren't even limited to the Tier 9 raids. Someone who has never stepped foot in a raid in their lives can get Tier 9 badge rewards if they're dedicated enough. The daily dungeon quests hand out Emblems of Triumph one or two at a time depending on your chosen difficulty. Someone who has never touched a raid can eventually get Tier 9 badge loot. Heck, someone who has never touched a Heroic can get Tier 9 badge loot. It will just take awhile. If current badge loot is any indicator of the cost of Tier 9 gear, it will take them around 60 days of doing the daily to get a piece of tier gear. That's a long enough time to justify that, I think.
So is this all bad? In the case of the Emblem of Conquest change, I don't think it's bad given the game's current landscape. People aren't running Heroics, and they need to be given a reason to do so. Letting them get Emblems of Conquest will give them reason to do those dungeons. I don't think it's the best possible solution and I hope they come up with something better for the next expansion, but for now? This is probably a good move. Wrath of the Lich King really does not encourage people to do 5-mans, so hopefully this will do it.
In the case of Emblems of Triumph, there doesn't seem to be a 10/25 man split. I've already heard theories that this means there won't be different loot for 10 and 25man raids, but it's far too early to start screaming about that, either for it or against it. Maybe we'll see something like 10man raids getting fewer badges than 25man raids, so it takes the 10man raid longer to get 25man equivalent gear? We don't know, and while this change seems weird, I can't immediately say it's bad. My opinion could quickly change upon seeing the implementation.
Like I said, I see the Emblem of Conquest change as a quick fix, a temporary solution. You can't get the best of the best gear with Emblems of Conquest in patch 3.2, but it's still going to encourage the behavior they initially wanted to discourage. They absolutely need to get people running Heroics again, but is this the way to do it? Long term, I don't think so. Short term, yeah, I can agree with it.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to calculate roughly how many Heroics and Emalon kills I'll need to get all of my alt 4-piece Tier 8. Add the seven, carry the four, divide by three...
Patch 3.2 will bring about a new 5, 10, and 25 man instance to WoW, and usher in a new 40-man battleground called the Isle of Conquest. WoW.com will have you covered every step of the way, from extensive PTR coverage through the official live release. Check out WoW.com's Guide to Patch 3.2 for all the latest!