I am not a believer in gear lists. There, I said it. I know that ‘Gearing for Heroics’, ‘Gearing for ‘Insert Raid Here’ lists and the like are very popular with people, but quite frankly, I find them to be very irritating to read. I will admit I have looked at one before (specifically for my druid, since I know diddly squat about tanking), but I have never felt the need to use one for my Warlock. We only have one cap that we really NEED to worry about, and then gearing is (relatively) simple if we keep in mind a couple of basic principles. Of course, these rules aren’t necessarily set in stone, and sometimes breaking them a little bit will give you better results. Not to mention people always disagree on what should be aimed for!
1. Hit -> Haste <-> Damage -> Crit.
Hit will always be the most important stat. Point for point hit is more valuable than any other stat, and all the damage or crit in the world wont help you when your spells resist. The hit cap at level 80 is as follows:
Untalented Hit Cap: 446
Talented and Grouped with Draenei: 342
Haste is highly beneficial for Fire Destruction as it maximises the already slightly shorter cast times of fire spells, and allows you to cast more Incinerates during the duration of an Immolate. This allows you to take advantage of the ‘deals more damage while the target has Immolate’ mechanic. Keep in mind the GCD on instant casts (Curses, Corruption, Conflagrate and Shadowflame) can only be reduced to one second.
1% increase in cast speed: 32.78998947 Haste.
The reasoning behind having Haste and Damage being somewhat equal is that they both need to be balanced. Clearly having a heap of haste but little damage isn’t going to help you, and vice versa. My usual tactic where possible here is to aim for small chunks of both stats at a time. In BC, I would aim to increase my Crit in 5% increments, then my damage by 100-200. Might not be the best approach, but I found that I felt less ‘gimped’ on a stat working that way. I will probably adopt a similar approach with Haste and Damage in Wrath.
2. Spi <-> Sta -> Int.
To be honest, I am still really umming and ahhing over this. Stamina has always been a primary stat for Warlocks, but with Spirit now having an impact on Spell Damage (thanks to Fel Armor) and directly affecting Life Tap, I would say they are equally important. Intellect is overrated (in my opinion), providing a minor increase in spell crit rating and increasing your mana pool. While a large mana pool is nice, it is not essential. One overlooked benefit of Intellect is that it will also increase your Imp’s critical strike rating, which gives you those shiny Empowered Imp buffs!
166.6666709 Intellect = 1% Crit
30% of your Spirit = Spell Power WHILE Fel Armor is active
Life Tap (Rank 8): Converts (1490+Spi*3) Health into (1490+Spi*3) Mana.
So, my basic rule when looking at upgrades? Don’t focus on too high above your current content level, look at what is to be had and compare it to your current gear. If it drops and you think it is better (keeping these things in mind), go for it. Remember you will be competing with ALL cloth wearers for drops, and try to remember that what is good for you may be good for someone else as well!
Credit must be given where due! Now, we all know I am horrible at maths. Most numbers stolen from Whitetooth’s post on the EJ forums (Thanks!!)