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In World of Warcraft, your player character over time acquires new pieces of armor, weapons, trinkets; gear that makes the questing process (and later raiding and PvP) more achievable. You gear depending on your class will help a caster cast more potent spells, a melee fighter hit harder, a tank take damage longer. Gear also allows for a player to last longer with increased health and larger ability pools.
But armor isn't invincible. It can and will break over time. Unlike in other mmorpgs, armor in World of Warcraft doesn't disappear or become lost; it simply breaks until it is repaired at a vendor. In the lower levels armor isn't a big thing as most items merely add a few increases in stats. But past level 40 or so, most gear start to contribute more obvious increases and start to have built in additions like extra spell power or bonuses.
Broken armor despite it being visible on your person is no better than having your character naked.
Money and repairs.
The only way to fix up a low durability back to 100% is to go to a weapons smith, or vendor with an anvil icon. They will of course request gold for this. Repair costs will quickly add up especially for tanks and heavy raiders. Always keep repair costs in mind as you quest. It is best to have gear fully functioning then buying things that can wait like the latest skill upgrades.
Graveyards; that fabulous place where you'll eventually end up after bad pull, a rough night of raiding, ganking...Graveyards can if used save you from the lengthy corpse run back to your corpse, and can be a cheap way of leaving a group if things are going south.
But be forewarned: you don't just get resurrection sickness from accepting the nice spirit healer's hand. You also accept the extra damage to your gear, damage that is of a percentage and affect all gear that is on your person and in your bags while in just a corpse run the damage only effects your worn gear by a way smaller margin.
Abilities are lessened including set bonuses.
The higher you go in levels, the more likely your acquired gear will have extra stats aside from the base increases such as health, stamina, spirit and other stat sheet items. Many extra bonuses will be written in green beneath the gear, mentioning things like extra critical strike, or spell power, or an effect that is gained from the new gear.
Some pieces of gear especially those belonging to a named set give even more bonuses depending on how many pieces of that set is worn. Extra perks from gear is awesome and at times act as if you are wearing an extra trinket beyond the given weapon slot.
Durability can sabotage this though - the further down in durability you gear goes, the first things that go is the set bonus, then stats, down to nothing! Only enchants and slotted gems tend to circumvent this but having yourself at barely a third capacity is not fun especially when you need that lost hit rating to hit the boss, or that extra healing boost to keep people alive!
Tanks and armor.
Tank classes have to be especially aware of their durability at all times. Tank classes are highly dependent on their armor, health and defense. These stats are imperative for a tank to be able to handle the constant abuse from mobs especially hard hitting bosses. Since durability drops the fastest from taking direct hits, a tank's durability drops the fastest from other players groups including physical dps.
Constant bashing like this takes it's toll on a tank loosing stats and spending a decent amount of gold. Save for Druid tanks, most tank classes wear plate which is the most expensive gear type to repair (with cloth being the cheapest).
It is a common practice for main tanks to have guildies port them (mount up on a mount with a vendor or drop a repair bot) to allow for a tank and the rest of the raid to repair. Many also carry secondary sets of armor in case their main set breaks which tends to happen especially during a long raid night learning a boss.