Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Affliction Warlock Gearing 102

I wanted to revisit a topic that is probably an old hat for most of us: gearing. By this stage of the game, you have probably done your homework and have a pretty good idea of what stats you're looking for. If you're still unsure, here's the short version of the story: get to spell hit cap as quickly as you can, and then try to snag up as much spellpower as possible. It's really that simple early on.

Now, I'm not talking about folks who are far down the gearing ladder. Gearing 101 would be for the folks who are levelling or just starting our their lives at 80. It's my belief at that point that you really can keep it that simple. Don't worry too much about hit when you're levelling, but it's good to start collecting it for when you hit 80 and want to start running group things. Keeping things simple = good in my book.

The point I wanted to bring across today is what starts to occur after you've gotten the basics covered. There will come a point sometime when you're nearing the end of Naxx that you'll start to realize you're not seeing as many "big" upgrades. That is to say, where before you were probably finding pieces that were just better across all stats than your previous pieces, now you're probably starting to see that some trade-offs must be made.

For instance, perhaps you have a piece drop that will only give you like 1 more SP, but is loaded up on Int and Haste. Or you are debating whether to keep your hit talents to make up that extra 3% when you could just gear for it and spend those talents elsewhere. The point here is that you're going to eventually reach a threshold where "keeping it simple" is no longer "simple". What happens then? If you're like me, you don't really want to overcomplicate things and do tons of spreadsheets and lists and maths. There are some people that love to do that kind of thing, and there are plenty of gear lists out there to consult.

In my experience, however, I've found that since my playtime is pretty limited, I don't have time to go after all the "best in slot" pieces. I pretty much have to make the best of what drops come my way, and I can't always plan them out in an organized, spreadsheeted manner. So how do we keep it simple in this case?

The easiest way is to be sure you understand the weights of each stat as it goes towards our DPS. You don't have to do tons of research to break this one down. In fact, I'll give you the link where it's already been done. Nibuca, who has long been my favorite affliction warlock did the maths for us several moons ago. You can find that particular article here. It's one of my faves.

She does a wonderful job explaining things and I've found that my playstyle and gear levels usually end up being very similar to hers, so I'm choosing to take most of her calculations at face value*. The simplest way to do things is to get the addon Pawn, use Nib's values, and, for the most part, trust the numbers that it kicks out. The addon even lets you compare two pieces. However, I never want to advocate blind usage of an addon, and we should strive to at least have a basic understand of what's going on, even if we use an addon to make life easier.

In that spirit, lets look at what Nib's stats are really telling us. Pawn basically allows the user to add a weight to each stat, so it can calculate how they go together and give you a simple value for comparison. Obviously, different stats will weight differently in how they effect our DPS. Ignoring the weights everything except for major stats, we get the follow weight relationships.

Int=0.17, Crit=0.69, Spirit=0.67, Hit=1.5, SP=1.37, Haste=0.77.

These numbers are mostly arbitrary, in that it's not so important what they are, but whats vital is how they relate to each other. Thefore, we can set a simple priority ranking of stats that looks like this: Hit (until capped)>SP>Haste>Spirit/Crit>>Int, and we can look at the relative weights in order to make an informed gear choice.

It's interesting to note that Haste is really our second best stat after we're hit capped and is roughly half of the DPS gain that SP is. Thus, if you're looking at two pieces and one bumps you up by 1 SP but the other bumps you up by 3 Haste, pick the haste piece ftw. That's a very cut down example, but it illustrates what we're looking at I think. An addon like Pawn makes this very simple, but we can also keep in mind the relative weights and make an informed decision on our own. It make take a little more work, but at least we know what's going on.

I mention haste specifically, because I think it is an often overlooked stat for us. It really is that good. Yes, better than spirit. Even with the 1/3 to SP conversion. That is taken into account with these weightings.

You can apply the same principles to talents and gem slots. If they increase a certain stat, you can check out the ratings and compare your trade-offs. I don't have specific numbers for talents, but gems are a bit easier to compare (Nibs actually gives pawn values for these, which is nice): you just need to figure out what gem you'd like to put in, and then you'll know the stats you're looking at, and it's back to a basic stat comparison. If you, for instance, always put in +19 SP gems, you can just take that on to the other stats when you're doing your comparison.

I would certainly recommend proper usage of the Pawn addon as well as a perusal of Nibuca's wonderful article, but the point here is that we obtain a basic understanding of what is really going on with these things. Thus, if, say, patch 3.2 hits and stuff gets changed, you can adapt your thinking, find some new numbers on the intrawebs, and get on with (fantasy) life.

I don't know about you, but I certainly prefer to maximize my playtime... without sacrificing the top spot on the meters of course ;-).

*Note: Better gear changes these weights because of diminishing returns and other miscellanea. You'd have to download, install, and run (there's a great guide at the Den too)your own Simulationcraft to get your personal numbers. I don't do this, but rather "ballpark" it to try and make an intelligent decision. This is also why I don't blindly rely on pawn. Nibs gives several gear level examples in her article, and the important thing to note here is that the relationships mostly stay the same. In fact, haste seems to get more weight as you gear up. I'd be somewhere around the T7 set curve now, so I should probably modify my pawn numbers, I just haven't yet. If you're going to use her numbers, keep in mind the gear level she's advertising. If you prefer Elitist Jerks T8 values, you can find those here, as they do the same kind of thing with a lot more mathiness.


  1. 3.2 hits today! new stuff to discuss, commence! (once the servers are up... so sometime next week? :P)

  2. Yeah, they don't even have the patch notes up on the official WoW site yet, so I'm going to withhold my discussion until tomorrow. I want official, live notes before I start pontificating. :-)

  3. WOOT!

    When I get back from offically become Mrs. Fuubaar.


  4. Crit (0.69) > Spi (0.67)

  5. @Fin - yeah, I fixed it. I really wanted to put "spirit or crit" so I used a slash, since they're pretty much weighted the same. I don't think the accuracy of the numbers (since I'm ballparking it) is within .02. Probably an order of magnitude higher at +/- .01.