Well, in answer of your question, Greg recently nerfed Vanilla pretty hard (which is why he now has his own modpack (unhinged) ) . If you want to play without Gregtech (and the nerfs that the mod entails) then I advise you to use Unleashed instead. It also contains some mods that weren't included in Unhinged for various reasons, such as the wonderful Tinker's Construct and Natura.Well i am not entirely new here. Been using this mod almost 4 / 5 months. But i just used the unleashed with added GT mods. And notice that it really hard to even makes everything from iron and above.
I played on the 1.5.2 wgt v0.8 before and at that time vanilla even haven't been touched by GT at all.