Thursday, December 3, 2009

Shake it UP, Cuz this is Learning!

In a recent post, I mentioned that some interesting DPS things happened in my run through Violet Hold. The interesting part is due to the picture above. Those that recognize the website I captured it from may groan, but I plan on using the info above as a learning tool, and I may possibly show how it CAN be useful.

For those that don’t recognize the picture above, it’s a screen cap of a character comparison from the website The reason for the possible (likely?) groans is that the main use for that website is to review a character’s “Gear Score” or “GS”, and there has been a recent trend (in both PUGs and Guilds) to focus a bit too much on this number. All it is, is a means to get a VERY rough idea how well geared someone is. It says nothing about how appropriate the gear is, or how skilled the player is. It just says how “powerful” all the gear is. I could gear my pally in all iLevel 200 cloth, caster gear, and I could get my GS to be as high as I want. I would be an EPIC FAIL if I played with that gear, but I could “easily” get a high score that way.

Anyhow, back to my point, and the commentary about my raid into Violet Hold.

During the raid, the other melee DPS player was a Fury Warrior (who happened to be a REALY nice guy to play with). At the start of the raid, we were both running about 1,400 DPS for each fight. As the raid progressed, and we both “got into the grove” we both made it into the low/mid 1,700 range. He was slightly ahead. (I didn’t screen cap, but the numbers I recall are me – 1,720 and him – 1,740) Also, he was doing a bit better in getting into the fights faster, because his overall damage was a bit higher than the slightly higher DPS would cause.


I know I was paying a fair bit of attention to Recount (my DPS meter) though this was mainly to try to make sure I was “doing ok”. And yeah, a bit of a competitive blood stirred. So I was a *little* disappointed that he out DPSes and out DMGed me, even though the numbers were pretty darned close.

After the fight, I decided to see if he had worse gear than me. After all, it would be a competitive blow to be out done by someone who wasn’t even geared as well as I was.

Such was not the case.

If you look at the numbers listed in the picture at the top (click to see large version), you’ll notice his score was roughly 2,100, and mine is roughly 1,100.


Also important is the fact that the gear that shows up here is my tank gear. (I must have been in Wintegrasp doing PvP prior to the data up/download, because I wear my tank gear to PvP. It just lets me live a bit longer…)

My original thought was that my DPS gear would be similar in score, so I just went with it.

And here comes the learning part: evidently I was doing at least reasonably well, because I was performing pretty much the same as a guy in a very similar class (melee DPS) and I had significantly “lesser” gear.

He had clearly put moderately good enchants on all his items, way more than I had (though he was missing one gem for an empty slot) and even though some of his gear was “tanky” (more stamina/defense as opposed to strength/hit) it was still pretty dang good. (and heck, some of *MY* “DPS” gear was also tanky)

A couple days later, I FINALLY remembered to make sure I logged off with my DPS gear equipped and was a bit surprised to find that my DPS gear was worse than my tank gear. By a LOT. My GS for my DPS gear was less than 850.

So what does all this numbery mumbo jumbo mean? Well here are a few general take-aways…

1 – A higher GS does NOT equate to better numbers. It can certainly help, but on its own, it means little.

2 – Focus your gear, as much as possible, on what your particular class/spec needs. Obviously, gearing yourself during leveling/questing is far different from the specialization that occurs during raids.

3 – Know how to play your class to the best of your abilities. There’s no need to obsess, but knowing more never hurts…

4 – Pay attention during the battles. As I mentioned, our DPS was pretty close, but overall damage was distinctly in the other guy’s favor. Why? Because he was getting into the fight a bit faster, he was staying on target more (like when one dies, he got his next target faster) Overall, he just did better.

5 – Damage Done will nearly always be the more important number, since it’s total damage that kills the bad guys. The bosses don’t simply keel over if the RATE of damage (DPS) gets to a certain point, they keep going until ALL their hp are gone.

6 – I may have obsessed more over the details of playing/gearing a ret pal, and I have probably read EJ more and practiced my rotation more, but if you look at the Damage:DPS ratio, it’s clear that he did better. Player focus during a fight and experience during a fight will almost always do better, even if everything else isn’t exactly optimal.

Pictured below is my latest gear set for my DPS spec. It’s now 1072! That’s up over 200 points from a few days ago, and the gear is getting more focused on what I need. (click to enlarge, if you’re so inclined)

As for the near future, based on my recent fights as well as some test dummy info I need the following:

1 – Get my 2 handed mace skill up to 400. It’s at 389 right now, and during my fights, I still see a number of “glancing blows”. That’s 11 “free” skill points. It may not prevent misses and glancing blows, but against a Boss, every bit helps. I may switch weapon types later, but I can worry about “topping” that skill off later.

2 – Increase my “Hit” score. On the test dummy and in battle I have a fair number of misses. Increasing my hit will help. As the screen cap below shows, my hit is a bit low. It’s about 200, and should be closer to the “max” of 263. (known as the “soft cap”, and prevents melee misses)

3 – Increase my Crit. For my Pally, Exorcism accounts for 8-12% of my total damage. The problem is that it’s only an useful attack if another attack crits (which procs Art of War, aka AoW) Even with my old 2H axe (Axe of Frozen Death ) , I would have the occasional situation where Exorcism would be ready to cast, but AoW wasn’t active. And this is a weapon that has 43 crit points. When using my new 2H mace (Titansteel Destroyer ) which has zero crit, I find that AoW is ready only 1/3 to 1/2 the time. Since I don’t always notice that AoW isn’t ready, I will sit there casting, which wastes 1.5 seconds, which slows my attacks, etc, etc, etc… Now, the fact that my weapon skill for the mace isn’t maximized will also affect this.

4 – L2p. (learn to play) As I mentioned above, my raid experience, focus and such aren’t ideal. Unfortunately this isn’t something that can be gemmed for: you can’t gem against stupid. BUT, I can do as many raids as I can to remove this debuff lol.

5 - Work on better gear. Even though I've got my GS up a fair amount, looking at my list of gear, it's pretty obvious I still have a few green pieces there. That's not exactly conducive to better performance.

Ah well.... it's all good and getting better. :)


I am currently using the crafted purple chest piece: Bulwark of the Ancient Kings LINK with 3 gems:

Etched Ametrine (10 str & 10 Hit)
Rigid Autumn's Glow (16 hit)
Bold Cardinal Ruby (20 Str)

This gives a final "as used" stats of:

1825 armor
+70 str
+56 sta
+51 hit
+41 crit

PLUS - "on use" I get 1,500 extra health and 150 extra strength

My other DPS chest is Breastplate of Undeath LINK which has:

2166 armor
+80 str
+112 Agi
+75 sta
+45 hit

The gains in Str, Sta & armor are (to me) pretty small (and I'm now over my hit cap, so I could swap out the Etched Ametrine for another bold ruby) so that it's nearly a wash... The AGI (works out to 2.15% crit) is more problematic

BUT, that extra strength and health has become a VERY nice thing to have in Boss fights.

*sigh* If I got a chest piece that was equivalent to the Undeath one WITH gem slots, it would be a no-brainer. But I'm having a hard time giving it up... "Bulwark... I can't quit you..."


  1. I must admit, I like that site - it's very easy to do a once-over of enchants and gems (and make sure there are none missing) and gives a quick look at your gear and what hasn't been upgraded in a while (like I looked yesterday at my shaman, most of the gear is from ToC 10 and 25 man, but I'm wearing an Ulduar 10-level cloak - clearly needs to be replaced).

    A note about the "log out in my dps gear" bit - in your second picture, see the two specs (with one greyed out)? You should just be able to click the other one and it should bring up the gear that you have "saved" for that spec. So you don't have to log out in the particular spec you want to see, just make sure your gear is updated for both specs and you can click around on the different specs at will. This is also helpful if you want to see the gear of someone that you know to play, say, protection, but the site is showing them as having logged out in their holy spec - just click on protection and you can check out the gear for that spec. :-)

  2. All else being equal, if two people know what they're doing, are of the same class and spec, and both pick stats intelligently, then yes, the one with the higher gear score will be more effective.

    But it would be a huge fallacy to ignore those if- statements there. A lot of people look *just* at gear score and fall victim to that fallacy. It's important to keep the "know what you're doing" part in perspective. (Some try to get around that by insisting on linking achievements, but there's inherent fallacies in that too. Catch-22 for one thing, and also the possibility of having been carried to the achievement for another.)

    But it's also important to establish that assuming you do know what you're doing - whether you are amazingly awesome or merely reasonably good at doing that, *will* depend entirely on your gear, and can result in incredibly varied results by gear alone.

    Ultimately we need both shiny big numbers on our gear, as well as knowledge and experience and the competence to apply that, to be effective.

  3. Thanks for the respone :)

    @"d" I don't have an account at wow-heroes, I just use the search function. Thanks to some really good information by Gnomeageddon, I've started using's character storage, asw well as RAWR and characterprofiler:

    BUT, I will have to create a wow-heroes account. That would solve many issues :)

    @ vil - I wasn't trying to say that GS means nothing (though -rereading my post, I guess it sounds that way - oops) and I COMPLETELY agree that with 2 same skilled players, it will be GS that determines performance. But, since peoples' skill & knowledge often seem to be all over the place, well you know :)

    I will say in defense of the "must have WXYZ Gear Score" folks: they have no other way of making any kind of judgement about the *possible* utility of a given PuG joiner. They can't really do anything to determine skill, all they can do is minimize the "risk" by ensuring that gear is NOT the determing factor. But, as most know, GS is as much an e-peen issue as anything lately...

  4. IMHO at the moment, when you've reached a good level of skill you'll also know, that skill matters a lot more, than gear.

    On the other like you say, it's a way of minimizig the risk, when putting together a pug.

    Most players these days are totally overgeared for heroics anyway, so it kinda comes down to bad luck, if a group fails.

    Just inspected your gear again:
    I'm wondering how much longer you'll have to hold on to those BC items you got... ;-)

  5. @ Sarge lol ... I'm only doing 2-3 heroics a week, so my new gear is a tad slow in coming. Some things are "easy" to upgrade, (helm, shoulders, feet, weapon) since I can craft them myself.

    Other things are "easy" but require a *crazy* outlay of gold (buying the 4 dragon's eyes for my ring was a bit of a shock - and that's with me farming the rest of the mats myself)

    The rest are just a matter of accumulating enough tokens, or getting a lucky drop.

    I've gemmed the crap outta of my Chest piece, and since it's my first crafted epic, it has a special place in my heart. I *do* have a slightly better DPS chest (Breastplate of Undeath) but even though the new one is *slightly* better, I'm having a tough time getting rid of it. (I'll edit the above post with the info)