Archive for the “Gear Analysis” Category

Posts which discuss the nature of gear, whether this be theory crafting or a different analysis of the usefulness of gear.

Unicorn: an imaginary creature traditionally represented as a white horse with a long horn growing from its forehead.  Early descriptions of the unicorn characterized it as having the body of a horse, feet of the elephant, a swine’s tail and the head of a stag with a four-foot horn in the middle of its forehead.

Bre over at Gun Lovin’ Dwarf Chick started off something huge when she discussed her unicorn – the Sonic Spear.  Yes, in the world of WoW Blogging, Bre has redefined a Unicorn: it is now that elusive damn drop you always wanted and were just never able to get.  We all have one (or at least, that is what I tell myself every time something fails to drop for me).

So, what was Sar’s unicorn?  Looking back, I think I have several posts where I mention this… all the way back at the beginning of when I started writing this blog.  It wasn’t a hard drop to get, most everyone I knew had one.  It didn’t take an especial amount of skill or luck, but the numbers were against me and I could not have it. 

Wub’s Cursed Hexblade

That stupid blade just would not drop.  OK, OK, I lie.  It dropped once.  I think I rolled a 3, and the Boomkin of Doom won it.  I never saw it again after that day.  Every ZA run made me want to poke my eyes out with a pointy stick.  I finished BC in T6/T6 equivalent gear, and still using Prince’s Stupid Dagger.  *Epic Sigh*.  I felt so insecure about that dagger that I actually traded it in for a staff, despite my strict No Staff policy on Saresa.   Staves just don’t have that ring of awesome evil about them, as I have said time and time again.  Potentially being stabbed in the back versus whacked over the head with a big stick?  Only 2 people can make staves look bad ass – Gandalf and Onyxia.

For Hermia, the T4 helm was equally elusive.  People often were confused as to how she was in full epics… except for her pimp hat.  Of course, without fail, every run that I was a little late for or just couldn’t make her token would drop.  All this beautiful shiny Kara gear… one crafted Leather helm.

Blizzard – please stop hating me!

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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 (Suppression and/or Cataclysm): 368

Talented and Grouped with Draenei: 342

For the purposes of being hit capped, I would aim for the 368 mark rather than banking on the Heroic Presence buff.  This is of course assuming you have put talents in Cataclysm!

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!!)

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When I write gear posts, one thing which I really do not make clear is that I always consider value for money in my advice. I may not always recommend the absolute ‘best’ thing that you can get in slot, or enchanted on that item, but I DO recommend what I think is the best thing at a reasonable price. I do not see the sense in purchasing something that is insanely over priced for what you get out of it. I also take into account what the average person is doing with their time – I assume that most people who might find my posts useful are at a level of progression which is equal or lesser to myself, not further along. What would someone in Sunwell be looking at my ideas for anyway?

Anyway, the point of this is that there is a much better pair of gloves in the game than what I have. Actually, there are two pairs which are better and could be considered to be attainable by anyone (one through badges, and one crafted), but the increase in quality between the two badge pairs is really not enough for me to ever worry about upgrading between them. However, there is a wonderfully, amazingly, beautifully awesome pair of gloves which can be crafted from a pattern which drops in Sunwell, which blow mine out of the water.

Sunfire Handwraps versus Studious Wraps

Currently I have the Studious Wraps equipped. These are relatively cheap (60 Badges) and I have yet to see a replacement drop from a boss I have defeated. They have served me well, and I think they are a pretty sweet pair of gloves. However, clearly the Sunfire Handwraps beat them hands down (tehe, sorry, couldn’t resist!) With better socket options, 12 more crit, and 13 more damage, they are much heftier than what I am wearing. Of course, there are always other considerations, as I said before.

The mats for the Sunfire Handwraps are fricking INSANE. There is no other way to describe it. 10 Shadowcloth, 10 Spellcloth, 6 Sunmotes? Jinkies! Talk about a gold sink and a half! Sure, you COULD plausibly farm all the mats, especially if you were a tailor. It would be slow, waiting for that cloth cooldown to finish, and bloody painful. Trying to get ahold of 6 Sunmotes I gather would be hard (I am basing this merely off the experiences of people I know who frequently farm Sunwell – they get a nice stash of gems, occasionally a pattern, and rarely a Sunmote). On my server, Sunmotes go for around 1k a pop.

A Warlock in my guild just got those gloves made for him. He is my nemesis on the damage meters, pounding me senseless, and he takes minmaxing to a WHOLE new level. I shudder to think how much these set him back, and the first thought that occured to me was ‘Are they even worth it?’

There are two responses to this. The minmaxers amongst us would argue that they are clearly worth it, because they are the best that can be attained without having to kill anything. Some raid leaders and guild leaders would also argue that they are worth it – we all know that everyone should strive to be the best that they can be to assist progression.

I come (clearly) from the other school of thought. While I believe people should be geared to a minimum standard for a boss fight, I don’t believe in wasting valuable resources and time to overgear yourself extremely. Gloves like that are probably absolutely fantastic if you are fighting in Sunwell. They would even be nice for Illidan and Archimonde, although clearly not required. For a guild like mine, who is 2/5 MH and 3/9 BT, I would consider it to be a waste of resources for sure. Of course, it IS your time and gold, so it is really up to the inividual. This is just my two cents.

Disclaimer: This post is in NO way influenced by the Green Eyed Monster. I swear! Ok… well maybe just a little.

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I am sure that you have all heard that itemisation is going to be radically different in Wrath of the Lich King with the removal of +damage and +healing to gear, and the introduction of +Spellpower. There seems to be some apprehension about this in the community (or maybe I am the only one who is feeling a little apprehensive, who knows?), so I am going to try to clear some things up. Oh, and don’t think I am doing this for you! As usual, my motives are purely selfish… by working this out on ‘paper’, I can get a better understanding of it, and feel better about it. My mind just works like that.

Please note that this is all based on available information so far, and I can not test it myself unless Blizz pony up with a beta invite *scowls*.

So, first things first:

What the heck is Spellpower?

Spellpower is the new term used for the damage or healing on an item. Lets take a look at a current item in WoW and break it down, shall we?

On this item, the essential stats would stay the same. It would still have +34 sta, +35 Int, and +31 Spi. However, the healing and damage done would be removed, and replaced with 26 Spellpower. This would mean that a caster class would get 26 damage, while the healer class would get the scaled healing of 77. Now, these numbers are clearly not going to be the same as what is on the item, because I doubt that many casters would like to have 26 damage on their chest piece! (If I HAD to take a stab at what the spellpower would be, I would guess maybe… 30-40?) I am just using them as examples to explain what the item will look like.

It makes a little more sense when you look at a non-healer piece of gear:

The 62 Spell Damage and Healing on these robes becomes 62 Spellpower. Easy!

So, will items be better for healers now, or casters?

In theory, all items are meant to be of equal value for either healers or casters, thanks to the scaling of spellpower to the various spells, as well as to damage and to healing. Something that would give me great damage as a warlock would also give a priest great healing. This means that there is a ‘one size fits all’ approach to spellpower.

How can the item ‘tell’ if you are a caster or a healer?

Well, the item can’t really. From what I can gather from Blizzard’s notes (stuck way down at the bottom if you want to see), it is the spells themselves which are affected, not the actual caster. Respeccing into a healer spec doesn’t suddenly grant you a massive amount of healing. Instead, I do believe that the spells themselves are affected. Your damage spells would do a certain amount of damage based upon spellpower, and your healing spells will heal for a certain amount based upon spellpower. This does NOT mean that people are going to be able to spec into a healing tree and do immense amounts of damage, or into a damage tree and also be great healers (once again, in theory). Blizzard are also putting the usual talents in which increase your damage or healing accordingly. So Holy Priest X and Saresa could be dressed in the exact same gear, but Holy Priest would not be able to out-dps Saresa (unless she was being a super-noob, or the Priest was absolutely fantastic!).

My understanding of what Blizzard have written is that the spells themselves are going to change. So, if a spell’s tooltip currently says ‘heals for 100′, it will say ‘heals for [insert number larger than 100 here]‘. I am still not sure how this works exactly, and I definitely do not have the math on hand. Once again… beta invite Blizz! Beta invite! This plus healing will of course be increased and buffed by the talents in the holy/restoration tree, ensuring people have to spec to heal to heal well.

Edit – thanks the the knowledge that I have now, I can clarify this.  My initial supposition was incorrect, and the way Spellpower works with healing is that the tooltip stays the same, but the coefficient between spellpower and the amount healed has changed, so 1 point of Spellpower packs a lot more punch than 1 point of +Healing.

What about other stats? Spellpower is great and all…

Yep, I was confused by this as well. Sure, we may share Spellpower, but we all know that certain stats are more desirable for some classes than others. Warlocks do love their Stamina (as well as certain Mages who steal Lock gear for PvP *mutters*), Mages love Intellect, and Priests like Spirit. Pieces could still be determined to be better for some classes than others based entirely on stats (as was done much more in Azeroth than Outland, where massive arguments could occur over a cloth piece with Stamina and Intellect on it!). However, I think that Blizzard are going to itemise all their items with every stat that could possibly be applicable to a cloth wearer, or a leather wearer, or a plate wearer. So cloth will have Stamina, Intellect, and Spirit, almost all the time. Why do I think this?

Mainly because they are giving Warlocks talents based upon Spirit. We have never had a use for Spirit. Sar’s spirit is currently at 145. The base Spirit for a level 70 human is – 145. She has NOTHING with Spirit on it. Why should she? It is completely useless for locks. Soon however, she will be stuck with the afore mentioned Spirit through the new itemisation. What Blizzard have done is given us a use (arbitrary as this is, I think) for Spirit through Fel Armor now being improved by it.

While this sounds like it has massive implications for healers, who all stack stats differently according to class, I think that they will be the ones who are most benefited by this. Why? No healers compete over basic armor (unless they wear the wrong thing!) Priests wear cloth, Druids love their leathers, Shaman mail, and Paladins wear Plate. They can continue to itemise these items appropriately for each healer. It will more than likely be the casters who get the short end of the stick. Mages and Warlocks get stuck with Spirit. I would be very interested to see how they blanace leather for Resto Druids, who use very little crit, with Boomkin, who live off crit. Paladins? I don’t know enough about them I am afraid, ask Siha (who has a beta invite BTW, and would be much more reliable than me anyhow)! There are only a couple of ways around this that I can think of:

- Itemise somewhere in between the caster and healer extremes, pleasing no one.

- Amend talents for all classes so that everyone is benefited by everything (some evidence of this already – Warlocks using Spi, Resto Druids having better access to direct heals, making crit more attractive). Probably what they will do, although I think it removes a lot of flavour from the classes and the game. I enjoy having loot that’s specifically good for locks!

- Still have gear which is better for some than others. A possibility, although I really think this removes the purpose of the Spellpower in the first place.

So Why Introduce Spellpower?

It’s been a while, and I am bad at hunting down comments made by Blues. From memory, there were two reasons given:

- Make it easier to gear up. People do get frustrated with farming an instance for that one elusive drop (Sonic Spear, anyone?) Less items, higher drop rates, much easier. The only issue I have with this is that demand is also going to go up. I take Sar into an instance after item X. It has a 35% drop rate off Boss A, so there’s a pretty good chance it will drop. Unfortunately, Mage and Priest are also interested in Item X, so I now only have a 1/3 chance of winning. I still forsee a lot of instance grinding, especially with my bad dice!

- Make it easier for some classes to respec and not have to worry about offset gear. Great for Druids (balance and resto, still need to farm a feral offset!), Shaman (elemental and resto), and Priests. Too bad if you are a Paladin I guess, unless plate is going to be good for prot, holy, and ret!

Blizzard’s notes on Spellpower

These will probably make much more sense than what I have written!


  • All items and effects which grant bonuses to spell damage and spell healing are being consolidated into a single stat, Spellpower. This stat will appear with the same values found on items which grant “increased spell damage and healing” such as on typical Mage and Warlock itemization.
  • For classes which do not heal, they should see no change in the character sheet other than new tooltip wording.
  • Healing characters will see their bonus healing numbers on the character sheet decrease, however, all healing spells have been modified to receive more benefit from spellpower than they received from bonus healing, with a net effect of no change to the amount healed by their spells. Some talents have had to be rebalanced to accommodate this change, but the amount healed will remain roughly the same. In addition, some talents will provide only healing spell power.

Of course, someone out there probably has a much firmer grasp on this than I do, so be sure to keep reading up. How do you think Spellpower is going to affect you?

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The other day I said that enchanting a warlock is a fairly simple business. However, I guess it may not be all that simple to some of us! This is my guide to the enchants which I chose for Sar, why I chose them, and occasionally some viable alternatives which I think should be considered.

Helm: Glyph of Power.

Fairly easy to obtain, at what I consider to be a reasonable price (considering how rarely helms get replaced). I honestly don’t think there is any better out there.

Shoulders: Greater Inscription of the Orb.

I am Scryer, so this is the obvious choice for me. Aldor warlocks can also go for Greater Inscription of Discipline. Both choices are almost equal, although I am a fan of the spell crit on mine!

Cloak: Subtlety

I wrote a fairly lengthy post on Subtlety, so I wont rewrite it all again!

Hands: Major Spellpower

Gloves are a tricky proposition, because there are 3 very viable enchants that you can have. At the moment I actually have Blasting on my gloves, which I think is almost as good as Major Spellpower. If hit is an issue for you, there is also Spell Strike, which is a great enchant to boost that all-important hit!

Chest: Exceptional Stats

I personally do not believe there are many good enchants out there for warlock chest pieces. Basically, you are torn between Exceptional Stats and Exceptional Health (Exceptional Mana is also a possibility if you are really lacking in that department!) The only reason I value Exceptional Stats over the Health is that you get the benefit of the plus to intellect, which does yield you that smidgen more crit.

Legs: Runic Spellthread

Runic Spellthread is simply the best caster enchant for legs that you can get, and is also cheap and easily available with Primal Nethers no longer being bind on pickup. If you are in the middle of gearing yourself up and don’t want to blow the gold on expensive leg enchants, you can also go for the much cheaper Mystic Spellthread.

Boots: Fortitude

At the moment, the jury is out on which boot enchant is the best – Fortitude or Vitality. The only reason I came down on the side of Fortitude is that it is a cheaper enchant, and a little bit of extra health never goes astray on a boss fight. Also, being the spec that I am, if I know that health is going to be an issue I sacrifice my voidwalker for the extra 200 health every four seconds.

Bracers: Spellpower

Obviously, once again the spell damage enchant is the best one to go for here.

Weapon: Soulfrost

There are 3 enchants which are viable for warlocks to have on their weapon: Soulfrost, Sunfire, and Major Spell Power. I had Major Spell Power for quite a long time, but when I got a weapon I was satisfied I would be keeping for a while (and I have had it for maybe, oh, 6 months?) I spent the gold and got Soulfrost put on it. Soulfrost would obviously be beneficial to most warlocks, however, our firey friends would clearly prefer a Sunfire enchant.

Oh, and if you really want to give it a test run… Deathfrost would be interesting, but I would suggest that the proc would not make up for the lost DPS.

Have fun with your enchanting! Oh, and enchanters, do not forget about your +12 spell damage to rings!

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As you all know, I recently (as in yesterday) got back into the arena side of things. And I did awesomely, with a grand total of 2 wins and 10 losses on my 2v2, and 2 wins, 8 losses on my 3v3. What can I say, I am an arena star!

Anyway, arenaing naturally leads one to look at the gear that you dream of getting, but know you will never attain when you are a total scrub like myself. I knew this before, but doing more arena reminded me of an old gripe that I have had: Warlock Sets.

Why is it that Blizzard deems it appropriate for Warlocks to have two sets for PvP, but only one set for PvE? I have always been jealous of those classes who get more than one set for different specs. I want lots of shiny Tier pieces! I want to be able to take a token for ‘off set’ over and over. Of course, you may argue that there isn’t as much differentiation between Warlock specs as there is, say, Warrior specs. You would be right. I would argue, however, that there is enough differentiation between Warlock specs to warrant more than one set.

For argument’s sake, let us look at the existing sets. In arena, there are two Warlock sets for each season, and these work around two very basic principles.

1. A Damage/Crit set: Obviously for our pewpew Warlocks!

2. A Damage set: Higher spell damage than the Damage/Crit set, this is aimed at our feardotdot Warlocks.

This works quite well, as it allows people to gear to their spec. For instance, because I am of the feardotdot school of PvP Warlocks, I will aim for pieces which are straight spell damage. Crit for DoTs, as we all know, is useless (DoTs don’t crit!)

Then, on the other hand, we have the PvE sets.

Tier 4: Voidheart Raiment: The Voidheart set I believe is fairly balanced across the board. The two set bonus is my favourite bonus across all sets, and is useful for anyone. Plus damage always makes me smile! The 4 set bonus is great for Affliction locks, but useful for most every spec. At this gear level, I believe most shadow mage specced locks would still be using Immolate. If you are not, then the 4 set bonus is clearly useless.

VERDICT: Across the board, leaning towards Affliction.

Tier 5: Corruptor Raiment: The two set bonus here is out and out demonology. In particular, it’s a total waste for shadow mages like myself, as I do not have a pet. The four set bonus is also craptacular for shadow mages, but is nice for Affliction locks and some Demonology locks (especially any locks with insta Corruption). It would also be great for Fire Locks.

VERDICT: Demonology is favoured, Affliction and Fire Locks do well out of the 4 set bonus, and Shadow Mages are left hung out to dry.

Tier 6: Malefic Raiment: The two set bonus again favours Affliction, Demonology, and Fire Locks. Shadow mages who don’t use DoTs (or use limited DoTs) gain no benefit from this. However, the four set bonus is again fantastic for all classes. More plus damage? Yes please!

VERDICT: Realistically, great for all classes. However, the 2 set bonus is not especially great for shadow mages. However, on fights where healing was a foreseen issue, I am sure it wouldn’t be hard to whack up a DoT or two.

Clearly the set bonuses tend to favour one spec over another for each set. However, the itemisation of the raid sets is also a concern in my opinion. I believe that there should be a choice between gear that has crit on it, and gear that has more damage and no crit. At the bare minimum those two options should be present. Not all warlocks want crit. We are already able to select non-crit based weapons, why should we be stuck with essentially ‘useless’ crit on gear? If our PvPing brethren can choose between crit and damage based gear, then our PvE friends should be able to as well. It would also mean warlocks no longer felt they ‘had’ to spec a certain way because that is the way the gear pushes us. Is it just me who thinks this would be more fair?

Edit: I know the links aren’t to the sets, and I apologise. I thought it would be more beneficial to have the Wowhead mouse overs of an individual piece to show the set bonuses. Apologies for any inconvenience!

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Back on to warlocky goodness, today’s little post is about the enchant ‘Subtlety‘. It’s a pretty basic, yet pricey, enchant. It is applied to Cloaks, and reduces threat to the wearer by 2%. Now, 2% might not sound like much at all to you, but sometimes it is enough to save your scrawny little warlock rear.

I recently got an upgrade to my cloak. Now, in all honesty, I should not be wearing my new cloak, because I haven’t gotten it enchanted yet. However, me being the little damage loving freak that I am, wanted to do more DPS darn it! I could have shelled out the gold for it, but I am in the midst of one of my stingy ‘will farm all mats!’ phases since I am perpetually poor. So, I have been raiding with my new, unenchanted cloak. Nasty stuff.

In my spec I have an inherent 10% threat reduction to my Destruction spells through the talent Destructive Reach. Since I only use Destruction spells (excepting Curse of Doom where appropriate), it basically means I generate 10% less threat. In raids, I also have Greater Blessing of Salvation on at all times, which is another 30% threat reduction. So I have 37% threat reduction (38% with Subtlety) *See comment below for the math, thanks heaps Higgins!* . Why is this 2% so important you ask?

First, because I like to gloat, lets look at the damage meter for our fight against Morogrim Tidewalker yesterday.

Now, if I was an intelligent creature, I also would have also screened the ‘threat’ part of the damage meter. Since I didn’t, we will just have to work with what we have. For this fight, most of my DPS was on the boss – so one tank had to consistently stay above me in threat to hold aggro. For the AoE parts of the fight, I was water tombed, or just plain ignorant, so I did very little AoE damage. The vast majority of my time was spent on Tidewalker.

On the threat meter, much of my time was spent hovering between just below the MT, to above him but just short of the ‘pull’ mark. Since monsters are lazy, ranged DPS can exceed the MT’s threat by up to 29.9% before pulling aggro (monsters just can’t be assed running!). I had determined that I would try and save Soulshatter to when Morogrim was at 50%, because the length of the cooldown is so prohibitive. This meant that I did have some times where I had to ease up on the pedal and let the tank get a bit more of a lead. Time not casting is lost DPS, lost DPS means the whole raid is disadvantaged. So the extra 2% threat reduction means perhaps an extra cast. A little less dependence on Soulshatter. A bit more of an advantage to the raid. Think of it as a +damage enchant even!


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