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Blizzard: Gearing in Warlords of Draenor

Draenei gear
Along with the BlizzCon announcement of a new WoW expansion came, of course, a discussion of the way the game will be changing with that expansion. One of the most jarring changes will be the gear system -- and trying to wrap our heads around the way everything will work in the future has been a bit of an exercise.

Never fear, fellow WoW players, it's Community Manager Crithto to the rescue in the forums today, with a long and detailed post going over exactly how (for the moment, at least) the developers are designing gear for Warlords of Draenor. This is a fascinating insight into the thought process behind the design, which strikes me as rather flowchart-like, in a good way. There are, in a sense, stat tiers within the design of each piece, meant to make our gear both more flexible and more customizable.

Gear is divided into two categories: armor (head, shoulders, chest, legs, gloves, belt, boots, and bracers) and non-armor (weapons, rings, cloak, necklace, and trinkets). In general, armor pieces will have primary stats, and non-armor pieces will not, with the exception of weapons. As far as stats go, there are three types: primary, secondary, and tertiary. Primary stats can be one of three things: Strength, Agility, or Intellect. A gear piece's primary stat will change depending on your class and spec. In addition, all armor pieces will possess some value of Stamina and Armor, and that will not change depending on your stat.

Secondary stats will not change based on your class or spec--they are fixed on an item. Secondary stats include things like Haste, Crit, Mastery, Spirit, and Bonus Armor. In addition, Blizzard is exploring new possibilities for secondary stats, for example, things like Readiness, Amplify, and Multi-Strike. These are still in development, and nothing is yet certain. Armor pieces (as listed above) will not possess Spirit or Bonus Armor. Non-armor pieces, however, can.

After secondary stats, each armor and non-armor piece has the chance to possess one of three additional properties: a gem socket, a higher item level than normal for their tier of content, or a tertiary stat. Gems are where you'll find the option to add Spirit or Bonus Armor to a piece of gear. If your gear has a tertiary stat, that's where you might find something like Movement Speed, Avoidance, or Cleave.

Furthermore: it is possible for a piece of gear to possess more than one of these options (higher ilevel, gem slot, tertiary stats), but it will be very, very rare. We can presume that a piece of gear which has both a gem socket and a tertiary stat value will be highly sought after within a raid group.

In summary: armor pieces have primary stats, secondary stats (but not Spirit or Bonus Armor), and either a higher ilevel, a socket, or a tertiary stat. Non-armor pieces have secondary stats, including Spirit or Bonus Armor, and either a higher ilevel, a socket, or a tertiary stat. Weapons will have primary stats, secondary stats--including the potential for Spirit or Bonus Armor--and either a higher ileve, a socket, or a tertiary stat. Make sense? Keep in mind that any and all of this may change in the coming months, and that nothing is set in stone! The full blue post is next.

Crithto -- Gear Changes in Warlords of Draenor
Now that BlizzCon is over and Warlords of Draenor has been unveiled, we've been getting some additional questions about the gear changes currently planned for the expansion. To help shed some more light on what you can expect, we thought we'd take a bit of time to clarify a few things.

Keep in mind that as with anything still in development, the information we share now will likely change as we progress, but this should help give you a good understanding of our goals and thinking.

Armor Pieces: Head, Shoulders, Chest, Legs, Gloves, Belt, Boots, and Bracers

Primary Stats

One of our main intents for primary stats is to make sure that higher Item Level (ilvl) pieces from new content are almost always superior to items from older content. Further, the changes we're making to primary stats will help make pieces more universal, so groups will find gear drops more useful more often. This means you'll be disenchanting less Intellect plate (only usable by Paladins today) or Agility mail (only usable by Hunters and Enhancement Shamans today). As we discussed at BlizzCon, we're accomplishing this by making it so primary stats for a given piece of gear will change based on your current spec, though it's likely that only new gear added in Warlords will work like this, as it might be impossible to implement this for all existing gear. Here are some additional points to know regarding the changes to primary stats:
  • Armor pieces will always have some amount of Stamina and Armor value.
  • Armor pieces always have Strength, Intellect, or Agility as a primary stat. Plate has either Strength or Intellect. Mail and Leather have either Agility or Intellect. Cloth has Intellect.
  • In the cases of Plate, Mail, and Leather, the primary stat will change depending on your current spec. Specifically, casters (including healers) will get Intellect, and melee or tank specs will get Strength or Agility.
Secondary Stats

Our intent for secondary stats is to differentiate pieces that occupy the same slot, allow for player customization, and to further differentiate specs within a class. Here are a few important points regarding the changes that are currently planned for secondary stats:
  • Secondary stats don't change based on spec on armor pieces (or any piece).
  • Secondary stats on armor pieces can still include Haste, Crit, and/or Mastery.
  • Secondary stats on armor pieces will no longer include Hit, Expertise, Dodge, or Parry. These are being retired in Warlords, and will likely be removed even from existing gear.
  • Secondary stats on armor pieces will also no longer include Spirit, nor will they include Bonus Armor, which are reserved exclusively for non-armor pieces (which are explained below).
  • In addition, secondary stats on armor pieces may include several new stats we are exploring such as Readiness, Amplify, and Multi-strike. Technical Game Designer Chadd "Celestalon" Nervig has been sharing more details about these on his Twitter account.
Additional Properties

Armor pieces may have three other properties at random. First, items may be higher Item Level than normal. For sake of this discussion, we'll call these items Warforged for now.

Second, items may have gem sockets. Unlike gem sockets today, gem sockets in Warlords of Draenor will be rarer but more powerful. There will be no socket bonuses, but we are strongly considering requiring the right color gem for the socket. All gems will grant secondary stats, including Spirit and Bonus Armor (see below).

Finally, items may have tertiary stats. These include things like a bonus to Movement Speed, Sturdiness, Life Steal, Avoidance (less AoE damage), and Cleave. Because of the rarity of tertiary starts, stacking them to produce (for example) a Movement Speed set will take enormous effort.

The design intent of these additional qualities on items is to make itemization more exciting and to give it more longevity. Rather than waiting weeks to get a breastplate, you might get one pretty quickly-but to get a true "best-in-slot" item will take much more effort and a bit of luck. Here are a few more points to consider for these properties:

We haven't decided on exact numbers yet, but for the current discussion, assume something like a 10% chance for an item to have an additional property. It's possible for one item to have all three of these properties, but the chance of that is very small.
The properties are determined at the time an item is looted (and possibly even includes crafted gear). For example, if an ogre boss drops two copies of the Bracers of Crithto, one might be a normal version, while another might have a tertiary stat.

Being Warforged, having a socket, or having a tertiary stat do not count against the stat budget of the item-they are strictly bonuses. The item will not have reduced primary or secondary stats in order to have these additional properties.

Set Bonuses

Similar to primary stats, set bonuses will also change depending on your current spec. This means a Paladin may only need one tier set rather than one for Holy and one for Retribution. It also means that set bonuses can be more tailored towards a spec. For instance, Marksman Hunter set bonuses can have different bonuses or different numbers than a Survival Hunter set. Like today, not every helmet, chest piece, or other piece of armor that drops will be part of a tier set.

Non-Armor Pieces: Weapons, Rings, Cloak, Necklace, and Trinkets

Primary Stats

In general, most of these pieces will not have Strength, Agility, or Intellect. Instead, they may have Attack Power or Spell Power to make sure they are more universal. However, our current thought it to keep primary stats on weapons so that they continue to feel iconic and special. Many of the items will have Stamina as well.

Secondary Stats

The information about secondary stats on armor above also applies here. In addition, Spirit and Bonus Armor can appear on these items. Spirit is only useful for healers. Bonus Armor is generally only useful for tanks. A Spell Power piece without Spirit may be attractive to healers or may be attractive to DPS casters instead.

The intent of including Spirit and Bonus Armor on these pieces is to make sure some items are still valuable only to healer and tank specs, helping to make sure they don't have too much competition for gear against the more numerous DPS players in a given group. These are also stats we consider interesting, because how much of each of these stats a tank or healer might want is more subjective. For example, one tank in a group might prefer more Bonus Armor while another might prefer more Haste.

In the case of Spirit, imagine that stacking Spirit on every non-armor slot will give you more mana regeneration than you would reasonably need. That is to say, you likely won't need Spirit on every single spot in order to function as a healer.

In the case of Bonus Armor, this stat fills the niche that Dodge and Parry fill today. We like tanks avoiding attacks as a mechanic, but it hasn't proven to be a particularly interesting gearing strategy. However, we still want a dedicated damage-mitigation stat, and Bonus Armor will be it.

Additional Qualities

These items will also have a chance to have one of the additional qualities discussed above (Warforged, gems, and tertiary stats), and the information related to these qualities on armor still applies here.

Examples

A Holy Paladin has a raid tier set from the Blackrock Foundry. If she switches to her Retribution spec, the tier set is still functional, as the primary stats and set bonuses change. However, if she prefers Haste for her Retribution spec and Crit in her Holy spec (and is someone who enjoys the min-max game), then a single set of armor may not be optimal.

For her healing set, let's assume this player also has one ring with Spirit, a shield with Spirit, and a trinket that procs on heals. The trinket is almost useless in her Retribution set. The shield is also useless, since Retribution is designed to wield a two-handed weapon. The ring will be sub-optimal because Spirit is useless to a Retribution Paladin, but if it has another valuable stat (e.g. Haste), it may still be worth using-again depending on how min-max-focused the player is.

A more casual player would probably be fine just using the trinket anyway and using a lower Item Level two-handed mace when she plays Retribution. A more min-max player would probably want separate rings, cloaks, trinkets, neck pieces, and weapons to use in the different specs. A very min-max player-such as someone competing in world-first Mythic raid progression-might even want different heads, shoulders, chests, and so on depending on the mix of secondary stats. This player might even swap out gems between the two specs.

This may seem like a lot to take in now, but we'll continue to watch feedback and answer any additional questions where we can. And again, keep in mind that as with anything still in development, this information or some of the details will likely change as we progress.

As always, we welcome your constructive feedback, and we look forward to reading what you think.

Filed under: News items, Warlords of Draenor

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