One of the pillars of playing the World of Warcraft is the earning, crafting, trading or purchase of gear. Early on, it’s fairly easy to identify what is considered right and what is not. You can easily see if the armor type matches your class, for one thing. Item level is also a generally understood way to determine how good a piece of gear is. There are other numbers to look at, including the primary or secondary stats on the gear, followed by what abilities and throughput is improved.

If I lost you at all, then you’re in the right place. I’m Soul, bringing to you the Word of Warcraft and today we’re going to do a very high level overview of what stats mean in the World of Warcraft. This is more or less a beginners guide to understanding the details of gearing and not so much for veteran players, but if you happen to skim through this guide and find it worthwhile, share it with friends or anyone you think could use a helping hand.

Since this is just an overview, I won’t be able to get into specifics on how best to gear your specific class or spec, and the methods of optimizing gear will change as time goes by. The idea of this guide is to help build a foundation to understand current and future changes. So let’s start from the top with primary stats. Primary stats include Stamina, which determines health for all classes, and a second stat depending on your class and spec. It could be strength, agility or intelligence, but they all basically share the same role depending on the specialization you use. For damage dealers, these stats translate into attack or spell power.

For healers, who only use intelligence, this also translates into spell power. For tanks it’s slightly more complicated, but on top of attack power, tanks that use strength get a little bit of parry, while tanks that use agility get a little bit of dodge. Dodge and parry make tanks tank better. Attack and spell power are the foundation of nearly every spell and ability in the World of Warcraft. Avenger’s Shield, a protection paladin skill, might strike a target for 200% of our attack power, while as a holy paladin, casting Flash of Light to heal might heal for 125% of our spellpower.

Those are just two fictional examples but hopefully you get the idea. In general, when looking for gear upgrades, going for the highest primary stats are the safe way to go. Fortunately, Blizzard includes a metric called item level that is more or less an indicator or how high the primary stats are. Secondary stats have the same premise of improving our character’s performance. Let’s go over them really quick. Critical strike rating determines the chance our attacks and abilities have to score extra damage or healing. Versatility rating increases our damage and at the same time reduces the damage we take by a certain amount.

Haste does a number of things. It reduces the time between the swinging of our weapons, how long it takes for us to cast a spell and for some classes, how fast energy regenerates. It also reduces the cooldown time of some of our abilities and shortens the global cooldown. The global cooldown, by the way, is a short period that passes between almost every button we press. Mastery is probably the most vague stat because it affects classes and specs in many different ways, from how much a shield blocks for, to attack power to our maximum health and healing taken. Check out your character sheet here to see what mastery does for your class. There are special attributes that can sometimes appear on gear that drops too, which can have a little to a lot of difference when choosing the gear you want to wear. I won’t get into them but here’s a quick description: Leech takes a percentage of your damage or healing and heals you. Indestructible makes that piece of gear not take durability damage from fighting or dying. Avoidance reduces the damage you take from area effect attacks.

Speed increases your run speed by a little bit. Finally a gem socket can appear allowing you to add the primary or secondary stat of your choice. The four secondary stats give each class and spec a certain feel and performance difference. For the most part, all four stats provide some benefit for our characters, but they’re not equal – some stats are better than others, and it can be difficult to understand.

Let’s use my protection paladin as an example and for the sake of the guide I’ll keep things simple. As a tank, my goal is to survive, so between the different secondary stats, which works best? Looking at each stat, versatility is a good solid stat that will passively reduce the damage I take in every situation. Haste will let me attack faster but more importantly, give me more opportunities to use abilities that keep me alive, because some of my cooldowns are reduced. Mastery increases my ability to block attacks and even gives me some extra attack power. Finally critical strike increases my chance to hit extra hard, and happens to increase my parry chance, too. They all sound good, but in this case and in the case of all classes and specs, these stats aren’t made equal; some are better than others. Since most gear has only two secondary stats on them, the more in-depth approach to gearing is to get certain gear so you have more of your two best stats than the others. This is just the start of min-maxing – the practice of minimizing your least desired attributes and maximizing your most desired.

Versatility might be great for a tank who usually needs to prioritize how to take less damage, but this might not be the same case for a healer or damage dealer. Legion, World of Warcraft’s sixth expansion, presents a strange occurrence where some secondary stats are so strong that they’re even better than primary stats. It’s led to some confusion between players as to what an upgrade means and has put into question the reliability of using item level as an easy measurement. Hopefully this won’t be the case as time goes on. Even still there’s a deeper level to dive into like meeting soft caps, and breakpoints, and this video won’t get into that, but there’s a question to ask first. How do you find out which are your best stats in the first place? There are multiple approaches to take here, with their benefits and drawbacks. One method is to simply trust the item level system and ignore most of the complications of min-maxing your character.

It’s the easiest approach that requires the least amount of thinking on your part, but in a video like this, this might not be the answer you’re looking for. As you are watching this video, another safe and popular approach would be to check out the numerous sources of information out there in the community. Throughout the WoW community is an incredible pool of talented players and analysts called theorycrafters who simulate and math out performance rankings based on not just what gear to use, but what talents to take and which rotation of abilities you should use to maximize your performance. It’s easy enough to run a google search on your class and spec for what’s the best way to gear but I’ll point out two resources I use myself. Icy Veins is a solid site that gives reasonably up to date information on the most recent changes in the game.

Also there is a link to the class discords, which is a collection of communication channels that cover all classes and specs. Joining up is easy and there are consistent discussions going on. It’s great to have a huge community that pools together for questions and answers, but in a way it also challenges an individual player’s desire to discover things on their own. A much more advanced and less popular way of determining your ideal stats is to do it on your own. Now that you have some understanding of primary and secondary stats, it can be up to you to decide just how much critical strike or haste you think you need or want, for example. It depends on your toolkit of skills, your talents and playstyle.

Consider the following when deciding on your stats: Which stat appears to benefit abilities you commonly use? If you have a normal rotation set up, could get even better with more haste? Possibly less haste? What are the benefits of your mastery? And there are so many more questions to ask. Feel free to pick and choose where you need the community’s help or where you want to discover it for yourself. There are resources out there that can tell you how to gear and play. But you can choose to not have these resources make decisions for you. For example if I want to focus on critical strike, which is the unpopular choice for a protection paladin, I can do that. That might not get me the best performance compared to the best players in the world, but maybe I want to find my own way there, because that’s how I want to play. And you should play the way you want too. I hope this guide was useful and gets you a bit closer to becoming a more effective player. Like and share and check out the links below for some in depth guides.

Thanks for coming, I’ll see you in game, and stay breezy..

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