Rather than try to figure how to consolidate a reply into 140 characters, I thought this would be simpler.
There was a time that I would not mind running raid content over and over to learn the fights, and hope that some piece of gear would drop that I could use to help me do better in the raid, to learn a fight to down a boss, an endless cycle of gear up, kill things over and over a dozen or more times, rinse, repeat for the next tier. I no longer have the time to spend focused on that one part of the game, I enjoy trying everything out, there is plenty to do, and the time commitment to do even a tenth of the content is enormous now. They gave us a ton of things to work on in Mists, thinking that we would tackle things in our own time, unfortunately we hit everything at a full head of speed and this last year when we could have been working on things like the Tillers, or Nat Pagle. But they made an error locking ways for us to upgrade our gear behind the reputations we needed.
Your question/answer, why do we need gear if we do not raid. It is an, I don’t want to say argument, but more of a statement, that I have heard over and over for years. We want the better gear because we want to be powerful, we want to be able to pull large groups and feel like a god. I had mentioned to you that I gear up to raid, I do not raid to get gear. ANd that’s true. When I had the time and desire to work at fights for weeks on end, the gear was not all that important, because just through repetition you learned the fights, learned when to move, when to interrupt things, getting a piece of gear meant that the next time you fought this boss it would be a bit easier, and if you wanted to go back to a raid a tier prior it was easier to beat a fight that may have had you stumped. I am an average player. I work very hard at getting every upgrade I have ever gotten, it is a reward for me, and gives me an opportunity to sometimes step into a raid group, and not feel like I am causing it to fail because I have not done it 50+ times.
Many people I read every day say, Challenge mode gold is stupid easy, Proving grounds Silver+ is simple enough that a 5 year old could do it. I have never gotten either, never finished one challenge mode at any level. Because I am not the kind of player those parts of the game were designed for. If I can do something I will, if I cannot, I go back and work on improving my gear to a point that I can defeat it. The design of PG and CM’s is more skill over gear, and for me it makes it more difficult than I wish to even attempt, because if doing something for an hour or more makes me angry enough to just want to log out and not play, then that is a problem for me. So I just stay away from them. If Warlords is more content appropriate for what the development team feels is the right level of difficulty then I will be doing less than I am now. It comes down to what value does my time in game have. Am I getting my $15 a month. Being able to run out by myself to Timeless Isle for the weekly, or grouping up with someone in guild just hitting level 90 and destroying mobs of frogs, or getting them rep for the Emperor quickly because I have become a powerful character in game, has value beyond the content. Being able to run over to help someone out having trouble, being able to go back to Black Temple to help 2 people get the achievement because they do not know their way around, going into ICC 25 heroic with 3 people and getting the crazy achievements we would never had tried back in the day, it all has value to myself and many others.
Part of the good design for World of Warcraft has been alternative means to become powerful, if we all had just blue gear from quests and dungeons until we raided then I think many would just stop playing, it may be fine for a period of time leveling to have to work hard to down a mob, but eventually, we want to be able to just breeze through what is in our way to get to where we want to go. We want to be able to walk up and strike down that creature and anything with it in short order.
I don’t know if any of this makes any sense, just the ramblings of one average casual player that tries to do the best he can in “All” of the game.