I think I can see where they are trying to go with this. When the game was shiny and new, to get exotics you had to max a craft and make them, which was choked up by low T6 mat drop rates; buy with Karma in Orr; or do some heavy dungeon runs.
Now a year out, people have stockpiled so much karma thakittens trivial to run to Orr and buy a set without blinking an eye. We have world events, laurels, or salvaged dungeon items to flip instantly for T6 mats to craft what we want. The player base got highly efficient at speed clearing dungeons for tokens. And retro achievement chests left people sitting on stacks of badges of honor.
Basically, even if you have little to no gold at all, its dumb easy to gear out a character as soon as you hit 80. There is little to no investment in time or effort at all. We get best in slot gear for a new alt with the crap we have laying around.
It was so easy to get exotics that every other piece of gear in the game was trivialized. Merch food and ecto salvage.
Ascended gear remedies this by making the crafts available from random elements of the game. Instead of farming Orr for moldy bags, we go do a few jumping puzzles, some world events, a mini dungeon or two and kill some champs. Meanwhile, we are also getting rid of the stockpile of hundreds of thousands of lower tier mats that are clogging up the trading post and our inventories. Exotics remain useful as gear and get more valuable as salvage.
Ascended also require fewer T6 materials and Ecto than they do any other material. To lend to the idea of getting rid of excess lower tier mats while letting you hold on to the majority of your high end materials for legendary progress.
This is how exotics should have been. Require time, investment and a diverse style of play in order to gear out a character; while still being able to progress towards your ultimate goal but not deprecating the quality below it.
The philosophy and implementation are rock solid. With exception to one bit…
Ascended materials should be daily bound to a character, not to an account. The way it sounds to me, if I have a hunstman and a weaponsmith at 500, if one refines a material then the other is locked out. My characters shouldn’t be stepping on each others toes in pursuit of their individual crafts. My Thief should be able to craft a bow for my Ranger, while my ranger is crafting a staff for my Mesmer, while my Mesmer is crafting a sword for my Thief. I don’t mind each of them having an individual cooldown. But all of them sharing a cooldown is overly limiting.