Holy Paladins: Special snowflakes
Holy paladins are the only spec in the game that uses intellect plate. Out of the 34 specs that will be present in Mists of Pandaria, only we will be rolling on intellect plate. While there may only be a couple of specs that use caster leather and mail, caster plate is reserved just for us. There's nothing wrong with that. There's no law of game design that says that a spec can't have something a little special. Paladins, as a class and archetype, have been designed around plate for decades.
The problem isn't that only holy paladins can use intellect plate, it's that every group might not have a holy paladin. When a 10-player raid defeats the Spine of Deathwing encounter without a holy paladin, they don't want to see Gauntlets of the Golden Thorn in the Cache of the Aspects. While cloth gear can at least be used somewhat ineffectively by restoration druids and restoration shaman can pick up some caster leather, plate armor is restricted to only a few classes.
There's no perfect fix
There are a handful of suggestions for fixing the intellect plate issue, but none of them are very elegant. Some have suggested that holy paladins start wearing plate DPS gear by converting the strength stat to spellpower somehow. The problem with this idea is complexity. What would a holy paladin want expertise for? Would all of that strength gear allow us to deal decent damage in melee range? The idea of completely jumbling around stats doesn't make sense, and it would be confusing for players.
I've also heard that holy paladins should start to wear mail healing gear, sharing it with the shaman. I don't like this idea, because you end up splitting paladins in half, where some can use plate and others can't. What would happen to any plate gear you were wearing when you switched specs? The class' art style is also designed around the idea of tough plate gear.
The truth is that we're stuck with intellect plate, unless the developers can come up with a more elegant solution. I'm not complaining, as I personally love the art style and the idea of being a heavily armored healer. World of Warcraft's classes need more diversity, not less.
Wasted loot happens anyway
Even if intellect plate were replaced today, there would still be wasted loot in every raid. Rogues are the only class that typically sports daggers, while one-handed strength weapons are worthless to feral druid tanks. There are at least nine different types of gear in the game, and finding a 10-man raid that wants all of them would be tough work. And gear compatibility aside, there's always the issue of getting too much of a good thing. Certain pieces of gear are often sharded because they drop too often and everyone who can use it already has it.
Removing intellect plate might seem like it would do a lot of good, but simple math proves otherwise. While not having a holy paladin might be common, you're almost guaranteed to be missing a class for another gear type as well. Do you always have someone representing the eight other gear types? Sure, your raid might lack a holy paladin, but do you have a priest healer, a mage, a feral druid, a caster druid, an enhancement shaman (now I know you're lying), a caster shaman, a plate tank, and a plate DPSer? The combined wasted loot from the other gear types definitely exceeds what intellect plate contributes to the equation.
The truth is that most of the wasted loot in WoW actually comes from the other eight types of gear not being needed and from gear that nobody wants because they already have it. In addition, and especially in Dragon Soul, there are so few items available in general that there isn't a glut of intellect plate on the bosses' loot tables anyway.
Another fix to the problem of intellect plate dropping when there are no holy paladins around could come in the form of intelligent drops. Raid bosses could only drop intellect plate when holy paladins were around and only drop intellect leather when druids were around, and so on. The only wasted loot then would be gear that everyone already acquired.
The issue with a system like this would be exploitation, as a player could stack a raid to his liking to ensure that the piece he wanted would have the highest chance of dropping. An entire guild could collude to stack their raids to customize the loot they received, giving them a significant advantage over guilds without the same roster flexibility.
There's no quick solution to the problem of wasted loot. The developers of every MMO have struggled with this issue, and WoW is no different. The key is to remember that intellect plate is only a small piece of the puzzle. Even if you feel cheated by the RNG for causing intellect plate to drop every week, try to remember that it could easily have been another piece of gear that nobody needed either.
The Light and How to Swing It: Holy helps holy paladins become the powerful healers we're destined to be. Find out just how masterful mastery healing can be, gear up with the latest gear, and learn how to PvP as a holy paladin.