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WoW Rookie: All you needed to know about stats, part 2


For those of you who have been playing World of Warcraft since launch, this information is going to be ancient history. However, for players newer to the game, I imagine that many of the stats you'll find on armor and weapons remain something of a mystery -- and it's for the new players in the audience that this post was written. That said, if you haven't read our recent post attempting to explain the five basic attributes, you ought to start there, because the basic stats all impact the more advanced stats we'll be discussing here.

In part 2, we're going to be talking about stats that improve physical DPS -- if that sounds interesting to you, read on!

Attack power (AP): Increases your melee damage per second (DPS) by 1 for every 14 AP. Other than equipping gear that specifically increases attack power, you can increase your AP by equipping gear with agility (for Hunters, Rogues, and cat form Druids), by equipping gear with strength (for all classes).
  • AP is the bread and butter of melee damage classes -- Rogues, feral Druids, DPS Warriors, and Retribution Paladins can always use attack power, which directly improves their DPS.
  • Each class can calculate their attack power as follows:
    • Druid (caster form), Paladin, Warrior: strength x 2 - 20
    • Druid (bear form): (strength x 2) + (level x 3) - 20
    • Druid (cat form): (strength x 2 + agility) + (level x 2) - 20
    • Hunter (melee), Rogue: strength + agility - 20 (Attention hunters! You aren't out there meleeing, are you? Are you?! If you are, stop it!)
    • Mage, Priest, Warlock: strength - 10
    • Shaman: (strength x 2) + (level x 2) - 20
  • Is there such a thing as too much attack power? Maybe. You can't focus on any one stat to the exclusion of all others, and getting all attack power while skipping out on stamina, for example, could land you in trouble when you don't have enough hit points to survive a single fight. However, some classes and builds focus on killing things faster than they can kill you -- you'll have to find the right balance between damage and defense for your playstyle.
  • Beyond gear, some classes have talents that improve AP:
    • At tier 4 in the Feral tree, Druids can acquire Predatory Strikes, which (for three talent points) increases the Druid's attack power while in feral forms by 150% of their level. (So for a level 70 Druid, it increases AP by 105. This isn't an incredible amount for that level, but it is required for higher level talents in the tree.)
    • At tier 7 in the Marksmanship tree, Hunters can acquire Trueshot Aura, which (for one talent point) increases the ranged and melee attack power by 125 (while active) for the Hunter and party (while in range). (Note: numbers given for the highest rank of this ability, acquired at level 70.)
    • At tier 6 in the Subtlety tree, Rogues can acquire Deadliness, which (for five talent points) increases their attack power by 10%.
Ranged attack power (RAP): Increases your ranged damage per second (DPS) by 1 for every 14 RAP. You can increase your RAP by equipping gear with agility (for Hunters, Rogues, and Warriors).
  • Obviously, RAP is what every hunter wants -- it directly improves their primary source of damage. But while it does improve the ranged damage done by rogues and warriors, their ranged damage is such a small portion of their overall damage that RAP shouldn't be a concern for them (at all!).
  • As with AP itself, it's possible to overdo it with RAP. While RAP is excellent for hunters, remember that to keep doing damage you still need hit points to stay alive and mana points to keep throwing out high-damage skills.
  • As mentioned above, Hunters are the only class that should worry about RAP. Their RAP numbers can be calculated thusly:
    • agility + (level x 2) - 10
  • Since RAP is really only important for Hunters, there are fewer talents that improve RAP, but there are a couple in the Hunter trees:
    • At tier 8 in the Marksmanship tree, Hunters can acquire Master Marksman, which (for five talent points) increases the ranged attack power of the Hunter by 10%.
    • As mentioned in the attack power section above, the Hunter Marksmanship talent Trueshot Aura increases both ranged and melee attack power for hunter and party (while active).
Note: We're about to talk about critical strike rating and hit rating. Why, you ask, are we discussing "ratings" instead of "percentages?" In their pre-BC patch, Blizzard changed the way they did itemization for crit chance, hit chance, and a few other things. Instead of gear having a flat 1% crit on it, gear would have +14 critical strike rating -- and different amounts of critical strike rating give you different critical strike percentages at different levels. This change allows the gear to scale better: now Blizzard can put crit rating on low level gear, which will be great for a while, but you'll outgrow eventually as you need more crit rating to equal the same amount of crit percentage. However, it also meant that level 60s who may have been raiding since the game's release would outgrow their gear and have to replace with better stuff to keep the same benefit. (This change put the new ratings more in line with the existing five basic attributes, which already scaled with level.) However, while gear now grants "ratings," you'll find that talents still give you a flat percentage improvement.

Critical strike rating: Physical critical strikes are special attacks that do 200% normal damage. You have a small chance to score a critical strike with each hit and you can improve that chance by equipping gear with agility on it or by equipping gear with critical strike rating on it.
  • When's critical strike rating useful?
    • In PvP. Though critical strike is random, huge crits that let you bring opponents down fast (and one-shot those cloth-wearers) are exactly what you're after. Sure, having more attack power and hit rating will increase your non-crit damage (your "white" damage), but PvP is all about bringing people down fast -- which is just what crits do.
    • In solo PvE. As with PvP, your goal is to bring things down fast, and a big crit will help you do just that.
    • When you have a talent or ability that comes into play only after you score a critical strike. (Scroll down and you'll find a list of such talents at the bottom of this section.)
  • When's critical strike rating less useful?
    • In PvE groups. This isn't to say that if you do a lot of group PvE that you don't want any crit -- but you need to be aware that the high spikes of damage your critical strikes cause could be just the thing to pull that boss off of your heavily armored tank friend and on to you. The tank has to be on the ball in order to pull the boss off of you and your healer may or may not be prepared (or have the mana available) to heal you.
      • I'm not saying to completely neglect crit, but be aware that other attributes may help your overall damage just as much without the danger of pulling aggro that crit has. If you do a lot of PvE groups, it may be worth considering attack power and hit rating to improve your white damage.
Before we continue, I have to interlude with some basic information on how threat works. (After all, how are you to know whether you're in danger of pulling aggro if you don't understand it?) Basically, when you attack a monster, the monster has "threat list" containing everyone it's noticed (everyone who's done damage to it, buffed or healed someone who's done damage to it, body pulled, pulled a linked mob, etc). The tank's job in any situation is to stay on top of this threat list. So what causes threat? Some basic definitions:
  • One point of damage equals one point of threat. Some attacks cause more threat than their damage would indicate -- these are usually noted in the skill's tooltip.
  • Each point of healing causes a half a point of threat. This is only for actual health restored -- overhealing does not cause threat.
  • Buffs cause a small amount of threat when cast.
  • Gaining mana, energy, or rage causes a small amount of threat. So health potions, mana potions, and skills like Life Tap all generate threat -- and can pull aggro! (So if you've just pulled aggro for some reason or another and the tank pulled it off you again -- a healing potion to bring yourself back to decent shape can pull that boss right back to you. Trust me, I've done it!)
  • Some monsters (bosses, usually), have abilities that reduce players' threat on them. (Either just the tank or all players.)
To prevent monsters from jumping constantly from target to target, you have to go well above the top target on the threat list before the monster will turn to you.
  • If you're in melee range, you need 110% threat of the monster's target to pull aggro.
  • If you're ranged, you need 130% threat of the monster's target to pull aggro.
All taunt abilities will give you equal threat to the highest person on the threat list of your target.

For more detailed information on threat mechanics, I point you towards Kenco of Perenolde's Guide to Threat.

Now, back to the subject of what you can do about critical strikes -- and how to avoid pulling aggro.
      • If you have an ability to reduce your threat, you don't have to be as careful. If you're pulling aggro, consider throwing one of these abilities into your normal mix of skills:
        • Rogues can Vanish, which completely drops aggro and removes them from combat. However, it uses a reagent and has a 5 minute cooldown. (Because it uses a reagent and is on a longish cooldown, I don't recommend using it unless it's a do-or-die situation.)
        • Rogues can Feint, which lowers their threat.
        • Hunters can Feign Death, which completely drops aggro and removes them from combat, on a nice 30 second cooldown. The short cooldown means that if you can just Feign Death every so often to keep your threat near nothing.
        • Hunters can Disengage, which lowers their threat. However, this is a melee ability -- so for general threat reduction, occasionally hitting Feign Death is probably less dangerous!
        • Druids in cat form can Cower, which lowers their threat.
        • Priests can Fade, which temporarily reduces their threat. Because this only temporarily reduces threat (unlike the others mentioned here, which permanately reduce threat), you only want to use it when you've pulled aggro -- it should send the mob running right back to the tank and give him or her a chance to regain aggro with no harm done.
        • Mages can use Invisibility which will completely bring them out of combat and reset their threat.
        • If you aren't one of the lucky classes who has an ability to reduce threat, there are a few items in the game (all for higher level players, however) that will do the same:
          • The epic crafted dagger Black Amnesty has a chance on hit to reduce threat. (Whether it's worth those crafting materials in the post-BC era is another question, however!)
          • You can acquire the Timelapse Shard trinket when you become exalted with the Keepers of Time. It will reduce threat on use, with a 2 minute cooldown.
          • You can acquire the Grace of Earth trinket by doing turnin quests for the Cenarion Circle in Silithus. It reduces threat on use, with a 5 minute cooldown.
          • The Jewel of Charismatic Mystique trinket drops from Grandmaster Vorpil in Shadow Labyrinth (both normal and heroic). It reduces threat on use, with a 5 minute cooldown.
          • You can acquire the Muck-Covered Drape cloak when you become honored with Sporeggar. It reduces threat on use, with a 5 minute cooldown.
          • You can acquire the Hypnotist's Watch trinket by completing the Voidwalkers Gone Wild quest in Hellfire Penninsula. It reduces threat on use, with a 5 minute cooldown. Of the items on this list, this is going to be the easiest one to obtain.
          • If you've got nothing else, you can buy and use Shrouding Potions to reduce threat -- but they use your potion cooldown, so if you're counting on these, you'd better be sure you aren't going to need a health or mana potion in the next 2 minutes.
  • At level 70, you need 22.1 critical strike rating to get 1% critical strike chance.
  • Several classes have talents that will improve their critical strike chance:
    • At tier 3 in the Feral tree, Druids can acquire Sharpened Claws, which (for three talent points) increases their critical strike chance by 6% while in feral forms.
    • At tier 7 in the Feral tree, Druids can acquire Leader of the Pack, which (for one talent point) increases the critical strike chance of the Druid and everyone in the Druid's party (within range) by 5% while the Druid is in cat or bear form.
    • At tier 4 in the Beast Mastery tree, Hunters can acquire Ferocity, which (for five talent points) increases the critical strike chance of the Hunter's pet by 10%.
    • At tier 1 in the Marksmanship tree, Hunters can acquire Lethal Shots, which (for five talent points), increases their critical strike chance with ranged weapons by 5%.
    • At tier 5 in the Survival tree, Hunters can acquire Killer Instinct, which (for three talent points) increases their critical strike chance with all attacks by 3%.
    • At tier 3 in the Retribution tree, Paladins can acquire Conviction, which (for five talent points) increases their critical strike chance with melee weapons by 5%.
    • At tier 1 in the Assassination tree, Rogues can acquire Malice, which (for five talent points) increases their critical strike chance by 5%.
    • At tier 5 in the Assassination tree, Rogues can acquire Cold Blood, a spell which (for one talent point) increases the critical strike chance of their next offensive spell by 100%.
    • At tier 4 in the Combat tree, Rogues can acquire Dagger Specialization, which (for five talent points) increases their critical strike chance with daggers by 5%.
    • At tier 5 in the Combat tree, Rogues can acquire Fist Weapon Specialization, which (for five talent points) increases their critical strike chance with fist weapons by 5%.
    • At tier 2 in the Enhancement tree, Shamans can acquire Thundering Strikes, which (for five talent points) increases their critical strike chance with weapons by 5%.
    • At tier 5 in the Arms tree, Warriors can acquire Poleaxe Specialization, which (for five talent points) increases their critical strike chance with axes and polearms by 5%.
    • At tier 1 in the Fury tree, Warriors can acquire Cruelty, which (for five talent points) increases their critical strike chance with weapons by 5%.
  • Several classes have talents that will improve their critical strike damage:
    • At tier 8 in the Feral tree, Druids can acquire Predatory Instincts, which (for five talent points) increases critical strike damage done by 10% (making crits hit for 210% damage).
    • At tier 4 in the Marksmanship tree, Hunters can acquire Mortal Shots, which (for five talent points) increases critical strike damage done by 30% (making crits hit for 230% damage).
    • At tier 3 in the Assassination tree, Rogues can acquire Lethality, which (for five talent points) increases critical strike damage done by Sinister Strike, Gouge, Backstab, Ghostly Strike, Mutilate, Shiv, and Hemorrhage by 30% (making crits with these abilities hit for 230% damage). (Note: I'm pretty sure this covers all special abilities that can crit.)
    • At tier 4 in the Arms tree, Warriors can acquire Impale, which (for three talent points) increases critical strike damage bonus of abilities used in Battle, Berserker, and Defensive stances (yep, that's all the stances you've got) by 20% (making crits hit for 220% damage).
  • Several classes have other interesting abilities that are triggered by crits:
    • At tier 4 in the Feral tree, Druids can acquire Primal Fury, which (for two talent points), gives the Druid a 100% chance to regenerate 5 rage on a crit in bear form or add an extra combo point in cat form.
    • At tier 6 in the Beast Mastery tree, Hunters can acquire Frenzy, which (for five talent points) increases the attack speed of the Hunter's pet by 100% after scoring a critical strike.
    • At tier 6 in the Beast Mastery tree, Hunters can acquire Ferocious Inspiration, which (for three talent points) increases the Hunter's party's damage (melee, ranged, and spell) by 3% every time the Hunter's pet scores a critical strike.
    • At tier 3 in the Marksmanship tree, Hunters can acquire Go for the Throat, which (for two talent points) causes the Hunter's pet to regenerate 50 focus every time the Hunter scores a critical strike.
    • At tier 7 in the Survival tree, Hunters can acquire Expose Weakness, which (for three talent points) causes the Hunter's ranged critical strikes to apply the Expose Weakness debuff on the target, increasing the attack power of all attackers on that target by 25% of the Hunter's agility.
    • At tier 6 in the Assassination tree, Rogues can acquire Seal Fate, which (for five talent points) gives Rogues a 100% chance to generate an extra combo point on crits with abilities that generate combo points.
    • At tier 4 in the Enhancement tree, Shamans can acquire Flurry, which (for five talent points) increases the Shaman's attack speed for the next 3 swings by 30% after scoring a critical strike.
    • At tier 6 in the Fury tree, Warriors can acquire Flurry, which (for five talent points) increases the Warrior's attack speed for the next 3 swings by 25% after scoring a critical strike.
    • At tier 8 in the Enhancement tree, Shamans can acquire Unleashed Rage, which (for five talent points) increases the Shaman's party's melee attack power by 10% for 10 seconds (if within range).
    • At tier 3 in the Arms tree, Warriors can acquire Deep Wounds, which (for three talent points) does 60% of the Warrior's average weapon damage over 12 seconds.
Attack Tables: The so-called attack table is a chart that explains how the game determines which type of attack will land on any given attack (a crit? a hit? a miss? a glancing blow?) -- and it's important to know a little bit about before we discuss hit rating below. While Blizzard doesn't release specific details on how these calculations are done, they drop the occasional major clue on how they work:

The way WoW calculates crit rate is over ALL attacks. Crit rate is not based on hits only. In other words, if you have a 5% crit rate, that 5% chance includes misses. (Source: CM Aeus on the European forums.)

What's this mean? The result of any of your attacks is determined by a single random number generated by the game. So a random number is generated and then compared to a table of possible results to determine how your attack lands. Let's look at some examples by Satrina of Stormrage.

Here's a sample attack table, presuming a random number between 0 and 999:
  • 000-049 = Miss (5%)
  • 050-149 = Dodge (10%)
  • 150-249 = Parry (10%)
  • 250-349 = Block (10%)
  • 350-499 = Critical Hit (15%)
  • 500-999 = Hit (50%)
So your attacks have a 5% chance to be missed, a 10% chance to be dodged, a 10% chance to be parried, a 10% chance to be blocked, a 15% chance to crit, and a 50% chance to simply hit. Let's say you add 1% to hit to your character, through gear or talents. The table would look like this:
  • 000-039 = Miss (4%)
  • 040-139 = Dodge (10%)
  • 140-239 = Parry (10%)
  • 240-339 = Block (10%)
  • 340-489 = Critical Hit (15%)
  • 490-999 = Hit (51%)
Since the table can't add up to more than 100%, adding to your hit chance subtracts from your miss chance. Now let's see what happens if we add 1% to crit:
  • 000-049 = Miss (5%)
  • 050-149 = Dodge (10%)
  • 150-249 = Parry (10%)
  • 250-349 = Block (10%)
  • 350-509 = Critical Hit (16%)
  • 510-999 = Hit (49%)
Again, since the numbers can't add up to more than 100%, adding 1% to crit, reduces your chance to score a normal hit by 1%. And what if you add 1% to hit and 1% to crit?
  • 000-039 = Miss (4%)
  • 040-139 = Dodge (10%)
  • 140-239 = Parry (10%)
  • 240-339 = Block (10%)
  • 340-499 = Critical Hit (16%)
  • 500-999 = Hit (50%)
While these examples are going to vary depending on gear and talents, this should give you an idea of how attacks are calculated.

Hit Rating: Additional hit rating improves your chance to hit (instead of miss) a monster with a physical attack.
  • Your base chance to miss (on mobs of equal level -- your chance to miss gets higher the greater the level difference) is 5% if you're using a one-handed weapon with no off-hand, 9% if you're using a two-handed weapon, and 24% if you're dual-wielding. (Hunters note: ranged weapons fall under that default 5% chance to miss.)
    • This would make a sample hit table for someone wielding a two-handed weapon look more like this:
      • 000-099 = Miss (9%)
      • 100-149 = Dodge (10%)
      • 150-249 = Parry (10%)
      • 250-349 = Block (10%)
      • 350-499 = Critical Hit (15%)
      • 500-999 = Hit (46%)
    • And if you're dual-wielding?
      • 000-239 = Miss (24%)
      • 240-149 = Dodge (10%)
      • 150-249 = Parry (10%)
      • 250-349 = Block (10%)
      • 350-499 = Critical Hit (15%)
      • 500-999 = Hit (31%)
  • For each level above you a target is, you gain an additional 1% chance to miss.
  • So when's +hit useful?
    • Obviously, if you've got no additional hit gear, your chance can be pretty high. A miss is zero damage -- which is not so good.
    • Maxxing out your hit rating can be important for players focusing on PvE raids, as this increases your white damage without giving the aggro-pulling spikes crit rating does. (More discussion on this in the crit rating section above.)
  • When's +hit not so useful?
    • If you've managed to completely counteract your chance to miss, adding more +hit is pointless.
  • At level 70, 15.8 hit rating grants 1% hit chance.
  • Several classes have talents that will increase their ability to hit with weapons:
    • At tier 4 in the Survival tree, Hunters can acquire Surefooted, which (for three talent points) improves their chance to hit by 3%.
    • At tier 2 in the Protection tree, Paladins can acquire Precision, which (for three talent points) improves their chance to hit by 3%.
    • At tier 2 in the Combat tree, Rogues can acquire Precision, which (for five talent points) improves their chance to hit by 5%.
    • At tier 6 in the Fury tree, Warriors can acquire Precision, which (for three talent points) improves their chance to hit by 3%.
    • At tier 7 in Enhancement tree, Shamans can acquire Dual Wield Specialization, which (for three talent points) increases their chance to hit while dual wielding by 6%.
    • At tier 3 in the Restoration tree, Shamans can acquire Nature's Guidance, which (for three talent points) increases their chance to hit with melee attacks by 3%.
Weapon Skill Rating: Improves your skill with weapons. While not heavily itemized, weapon skill rating is swell, because it gives you a bit of everything good in the melee world -- however, it gives you a very small bit of everything good.
  • For each point that your weapon skill gains in relation to your opponent's defense you will gain:
    • 0.024% to hit
    • 0.04% to crit
    • 0.04% reduction to target's dodge chance
    • 0.04% reduction to target's parry chance
    • 0.04% reduction to target's block chance
  • At level 70, 3.9 weapon skill rating grants 1 skill point.
  • Several classes have talents that increase their skill with weapons:
    • At tier 8 in the Protection tree, Paladins can acquire Weapon Expertise, which (for five talent points) increases their skill with all weapons by 10.
    • At tier 6 in the Combat tree, Rogues can acquire Weapon Expertise, which (for two talent points) increases their skill with sword, fist, and dagger weapons by 10.
    • At tier 5 in the Combat tree, Rogues can acquire Mace Specialization, which (for five talent points) increases their skill with maces by 10.
    • At tier 6 in the Arms tree, Warriors can acquire Weapon Mastery, which (for two talent points) increases their skill with all weapons by 4.

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