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WoW Rookie: All you needed to know about stats, part 3


In today's continuation of our series on what the various stats in World of Warcraft do for you, we're going to be discussing caster stats. And, while a long-time player probably knows everything I'm talking about here, someone who's newer to the game might find spelling all of these things out to be handy. Curious as to how gear with +spell damage helps you out? Not quite sure how useful gear with mana per five seconds on it is for your class? You're in the right place.

However, before you keep reading, it's well worth it to check out part 1 (covering the five main game attributes) and part 2 (covering statistics effecting physical damage). Coming up our next installment we'll talk about defensive statistics (armor, dodge, parry, resilience, etc), so stay tuned!

Applying +damage and healing to spells: Before we get into different types of spell damage and healing, it helps to understand how those numbers are applied to your spells. (It works the same way whether it's simple +spell damage, +frost damage, or +healing.)
  • Spells with a cast time of 3.5 seconds or greater receive 100% of your +spell damage gear. (The extra spell damage or healing is added directly to the spell's usual damage or healing.) Spells with a cast time of less than 3.5 seconds receive a percentage of the benefit from gear -- this sort of scaling prevents spells with a short cast time from becoming more appealing as you gain more spell damage.
  • Damage over time spells (and heal over time spells!) are given 100% of your +spell damage or healing, spread out over the duration of the spell, so long as they're 15s duration or greater. (Less than 15s, less spell damage/healing is applied.)
  • Spells with secondary effects (i.e. they do things other than pure damage) have their usual +spell damage bonus cut in half. Examples: Warlock's Drain Life also heals, Priest's Mind Flay also slows.
  • Lower level spells (level learned compared to your level) get less bonus from spell damage or healing. In general, you can expect to use your top two or three ranks of a spell without penalty. But if you want to know specifics...
    • Look at the level at which a spell's power stops increasing -- yes, your current rank spells get a little boost each time you level, usually up to the point that you get a new rank of the spell. We'll consider this the spell's maximum level
    • Once you're six levels higher than that, the spell will start gaining less and less of a boost from your spell damage or healing gear. (This was implemented primarily to stop healers with huge amounts of +healing gear from being able to cast low rank heals forever.)
    • The specific calculation is:
      • ((spell max level) + 6) / (player level) = percentage of the bonus from spell damage the spell gets (this percentage is applied on top of whatever +spell damage or healing the spell normally receives)

Spell damage: Spell damage improves the amount of damage you do with all damage and healing spells.
  • Several classes have talents that will increase the bonuses given by spell damage:
    • At tier 8 in the Balance tree, Druids can acquire Wrath of Cenarius, which (for five talent points) increases the +damage bonus given to Starfire by 20% and increases the +damage bonus given to Wrath by 10%.
    • At tier 8 in the Fire tree, Mages can acquire Empowered Fireball, which (for five talent points) increases the +damage bonus given to Fireball by 15%.
    • At tier 8 in the Frost tree, Mages can acquire Empowered Frostbolt, which (for five talent points) increases the +damage bonus given to Frostbolt by 10%
    • At tier 4 in the Affliction tree, Warlocks can acquire Empowered Corruption, which (for three talent points) increases the +damage bonus given to Corruption spell by 36%.
    • At tier 8 in the Destruction tree, Warlocks can acquire Shadow and Flame, which (for five talent points) increases the +damage bonus given to Shadow Bolt and Incinerate by 20%.

Spell healing: Spell healing improves the amount of healing you do with all healing spells. While you may be inclined to look for gear with +spell damage on it for its bonuses to both damage and healing, you will find that you'll get more overall healing on equal level +healing gear. (With gear of equal level and quality, you can expect to find about twice as much +healing as you would +spell damage -- so be aware if you take the +spell damage route, you're sacrificing quite a bit of healing power.
  • Several classes have talents that will increase the bonuses given by spell healing:
    • At tier 8 in the Restoration tree, Druids can acquire Empowered Rejuvenation, which increases the +healing bonus given to the Druid's heal over time spells (HoTs) by 20%.
    • At tier 8 in the Holy tree, Priests can acquire Empowered Healing, which increases the +healing bonus given to the Priest's Greater Heal spell by 20% and increases the +healing bonus given to the Priest's Flash Heal and Binding Heal by 10%.

Arcane/fire/frost/nature/shadow/holy damage: As with straight out spell damage, any of these will improve your damage with spells -- though only spells within the indicated school of magic.
  • Why choose a specific school of damage over +spell damage?
    • Most casting classes have access to multiple schools of magic (Priests can use holy and shadow; Warlocks can use fire and shadow; Mages can use arcane, frost, and fire; Shamans can use nature, frost, and fire; Druids can use nature; Paladins can use holy.), so restricting yourself to one school of magic can limit your damage-dealing abilities in the other. (Also note that this can be a big problem if you run into a mob that resists your favored school of magic.)
    • However, bonuses to single-school magic damage are more generously itemized than +spell damage is -- so if you pick a single school of magic and stick to it, you're likely to be able to find gear that will allow you to do more overall damage than if you only chose +spell damage gear.

Mana per 5 seconds (MP5): Grants you X amount of mana every 5 seconds, regardless of whether you're in or out of the five second rule.
  • For most casters, MP5 is the preferred way to regenerate mana. Though the amount it regenerates is usually small, it works constantly and you don't have to worry about taking breaks during casting in order to regenerate more mana.
  • If you're a healer and have a style of casting in spurts and then taking a break -- you may find spirit similarly appealing. Spirit can regenerate a good amount of mana (and with the right talents, can provide some regeneration while casting!), but you have to stop casting to get its full benefits, so it depends on your casting style as to whether you'd rather stack MP5 gear or spirit gear.

Spell critical strike rating: Spell critical strikes are special attacks that do 150% normal damage (though most casting classes have talents that can improve that). You can improve your chance to get spell critical strikes by equipping gear with intellect on it or by equipping gear with spell critical strike rating on it.
  • Several classes have talents that improve their chance to score a critical strike with spells:
    • At tier 5 in the Arcane tree, Mages can acquire Arcane Instability, which (for three talent points) increases their chance to score a critical strike by 3%.
    • At tier 5 in the Fire tree, Mages can acquire Critical Mass, which (for three talent points) increases their chance to score a critical strike with Fire spells by 6%.
    • At tier 7 in the Fire tree, Mages can acquire Pyromaniac, which (for three talent points) increases their chance to score a critical strike with Fire spells by 3%.
    • At tier 8 in the Frost tree, Mages can acquire Empowered Frostbolt, which (for five talent points) increases the critical strike chance of Frostbolt by 5%.
    • At tier 6 in the Holy tree, Paladins can acquire Holy Power, which (for five talent points) increases their chance to score a critical strike with Holy spells by 5%.
    • At tier 6 in the Discipline tree, Priests can acquire Force of Will, which (for five talent points) increases their chance to score a critical strike with offensive spells by 5%.
    • At tier 1 in the Holy tree, Priests can acquire Holy Specialization, which (for five talent points) increases their chance to score a critical strike with holy spells by 5%. (Yes, this will stack with Force of Will, above.)
    • At tier 7 in the Shadow tree, Priests can acquire Shadow Power, which (for five talent points) increases their chance to score a critical strike with Mind Blast and Shadow Word: Death (the only Shadow spells that can crit) by 15%.
    • At tier 3 in the Elemental tree, Shamans can acquire Call of Thunder, which (for five talent points) increases their chance to score a critical strike with Lightning Bolt and Chain Lightning by 6%.
    • At tier 7 in the Elemental tree, Shamans can acquire Elemental Mastery, a spell which (for one talent point) increases the critical strike chance of the Shaman's next Fire, Frost, or Nature spell by 100%.
    • At tier 4 in the Restoration tree, Shamans can acquire Tidal Mastery, which (for five talent points) increases the critical strike chance of their healing and lightning spells by 5%.
    • At tier 8 in the Demonology tree, Warlocks can acquire Demonic Tactics, which (for five talent points) increases their critical strike chance with spells by 5%.
    • At tier 3 in the Destruction tree, Warlocks can acquire Devastation, which (for five talent points) increases their chance to score a critical strike with Destruction spells by 5%.
  • Several classes have talents that improve their critical strike damage with spells:
    • At tier 4 in the Balance tree, Druids can acquire Vengeance, which (for five talent points) increases the damage done by spell crits by 100% (making spell crits hit for 200% normal damage).
    • At tier 6 in the Arcane tree, Mages can acquire Spell Power, which (for two talent points) increases the damage done by spell crits by 50% (making spell crits hit for 175% normal damage).
    • At tier 2 in the Frost tree, Mages can acquire Ice Shards, which (for five talent points) increases the damage done by Frost spell crits by 100% (making spell crits hit for 200% normal damage). Note: yes, you can have both Ice Shards and Spell Power if you really want to.
    • At tier 5 in the Elemental tree, Shamans can acquire Elemental Fury, which (for one talent point) increase the damage done by spell crits by 100% (making spell crits hit for 200% normal damage). Note: this talent technically only effects your Searing, Magma, and Fire Nova Totems as well as your Fire, Frost, and Nature spells. (I think that covers all offensive spells Shamans can cast, but there's always chance I've overlooked something...)
    • At tier 5 in the Destruction tree, Warlocks can acquire Ruin, which (for one talent point) increases the damage done by Destruction spell crits by 100% (making spell crits hit for 200% normal damage). Note: Destruction spells are, at present, the only Warlock spells that can crit.
  • Several classes have other interesting abilities that are triggered by spell crits:
    • At tier 5 in the Balance tree, Druids can acquire Nature's Grace, which (for one talent point) will reduce the casting time of the Druid's next spell by 0.5 seconds after a crit.
    • At tier 4 in the Holy tree, Paladins can acquire Illumination, which (for five talent points) will cause spell crits to refund 60% of the mana cost of the spell.
    • At tier 6 in the Holy tree, Priests can acquire Surge of Light, which (for two talent points) gives spell crits a 50% chance to make your next Smite spell cost no mana, but be incapable of a critical strike.
Spell hit rating: The higher your chance to hit with spells is, the more likely you are to hit (instead of miss) your target. (Though the message on a spell miss is "resisted," I'm going to continue referring to spells that don't hit as "misses" in order to avoid confusion with spell resistances as discussed below.)
  • Your chance to hit is based on the level difference between you and your target:
    • Same level: 96% chance to hit (4% chance to miss).
    • +1 level: 95% chance to hit (5% chance to miss).
    • +2 levels: 94% chance to hit (6% chance to miss).
    • +3 levels: 83% if the target is a monster, 87% if the target is a player (17/13% chance to miss). Note: the highest level raid bosses in the game are level 73, so this is the category you're going to be falling in to for end-game PvE.
    • +4 levels: 72% if the target is a monster, 80% if the target is a player (28/20% chance to miss).
    • +5 levels: 61% if the target is a monster, 73% if the target is a player (39/27% chance to miss).
  • Regardless of gear, you'll always have at least a 1% chance to miss -- so if you're fighting equal-level monsters, more than +3% to hit is wasted.
  • Several classes have talents that improve their chance to hit with spells:
    • At tier 6 in the Balance tree, Druids can acquire Balance of Power, which (for two talent points) will increase the Druid's chance to hit with spells by 4%.
    • At tier 6 in the Elemental tree, Shamans can acquire Elemental Precision, which (for three talent points) will increase the Shaman's chance to hit with Fire, Frost, and Nature spells 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 spells attacks by 3%.
Binary spells: To fully understand how spell hit rating (discussed below) works, you need to know the difference between binary and non-binary spells.
  • A non-binary spell...
    • Just does damage. That's it! This includes spells such as the Warlock's Shadowbolt, the Mage's Fireball, and the Druid's Wrath.
    • Because they don't do anything besides damage, these spells can hit for full or partial damage, based on the target's spell resistances.
  • A binary spell...
    • Does damage and also has some sort of secondary effect. This includes spells such as the Warlock's Drain Life (which returns health to the Warlock), the Priest's Mind Flay (which slows the target), and the Mage's Frost Bolt (which slows the target).
    • Because they have secondary effects, these spells will always hit either for full damage or for no damage -- since there's no good way to determine whether the secondary effect would be applied on partial resists, so Blizzard simply decided to make binary spells hit for all or nothing.
Spell resistance: Now that you know what is and what isn't a binary spell, we can discuss spell resistance.
  • The average number of resists you'll get = (your target's resistance / (caster level x 5)) x 0.75.
  • If your non-binary spell successfully hits, a resistance check is then applied. Depending on your target's resistances, it can resist 0%, 25%, 50%, or 75% of your spell damage. (There are no in-betweens.)
  • Eyonix provides us with this example of spell resistance and hit rating:
    • Eyonix the Mage (level 60) fires a Frostbolt at Yeti of Doom (level 63). Eyonix is wearing a total of +6% spell hit gear. Yeti of Doom has frost resistance such that he takes 50% from level 60 frost attacks. So, here's the hit calculation:
      • 0.83 (83% for +3 levels monster) + 0.06 (+6% spell hit) = 0.89 -- this is Eyonix's overall chance to hit his target.
      • 0.89*0.5 (50% damage from frost) = 0.445 -- this is his target's likelihood to resist his hit.
      • The game will roll a number between 0 and 1, and if it's less than 0.445, the frost bolt will hit for full damage. Otherwise, a resist message will appear. (Since Frostbolt is a binary spell which also applies a movement slowing effect on hit, it will either fully hit or be fully resisted.)
    • After the resist, Eyonix decides to fire a Fireball at Yeti of Doom. Eyonix still has +6% spell hit. Fireball only does direct damage and is thus not a binary spell, so it can be partially resisted Here's the calculation:
      • 0.83+0.06= 0.89 -- as above, this is Eyonix's chance to hit. It's the same regardless of whether he's using frost spells or fire spells.
      • The game will roll a number between 0 and 1, and if its less than 0.89, the fireball will hit. Otherwise, a resist message will appear. After the fireball lands, the game will then apply spell resistance to determine a partial resist, if any. Assuming the yeti also has 50% fire resistance, on average, 50% of the damage will be resisted.
Spell penetration: Spell penetration rating will reduce your target's chance to resist your spells (based on their resistances -- as opposed to spell hit rating, which will reduce your target's chance to resist your spells based on their level). Very little is known about how spell penetration actually works and how much of it is needed to counter different levels of spell resistance.
  • If the monster or player you're attacking has 0 spell resistance, then any spell penetration gear you're wearing is wasted (resistances can't go into negative numbers).
  • For PvP, a spell penetration level of 40 seems to be enough to counter the benefit given by Mark of the Wild.
  • Some players say spell penetration is worthless in PvP and PvE. I say it's just very situational -- you don't know how much resistance an average monster or player will have, so you can't predict how much spell penetration gear you need, in general, to overcome resistances. Try some out, and see if it seems to help -- but your mileage may vary.

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