Thursday, June 5, 2014

[WoW] A Hasty and Critical Look at the Spirit, Mastery, and Versitility of Secondary and Tertiary Statistics

Blizzard dropped two relatively large dumps of data on us yesterday. The first being a look at secondary and minor (tertiary) stats, and the second being the alpha client. Clearly the second is the bigger of the two, but since I don’t have access to the alpha client, instead I’ll be talking a bit about the secondary stat watercooler and my thoughts on the upcoming changes.

As a reminder, in case you weren’t aware, gear in the next expansion will have Stamina plus a “primary” stat of either Agility, Strength, or Intellect, which will change based on what spec you are—for example, if you’re a Holy Paladin, all that plate will have Intellect and Stamina. If you’re Ret, then it’ll all look like it has Strength and Stamina. This makes gearing simple as far as your primary stat goes. Higher ilvl is better, plain and simple.

Gear also comes with a combination of secondary stats. These stats will be allocated on gear as per an item level budget. In an ideal world, this means that if you got exactly the same benefit from Crit, Haste, and Mastery, then an item of ilvl 650 with 100 Crit and 100 Mastery should be the same as the same ilvl, but with 100 Mastery and 100 Haste. Now, we don’t play perfectly spherical classes with no air resistance, so it won’t be perfect. Some classes will still get slightly better benefit from different secondary stats than others.

Items may also roll minor (tertiary) stats. These do NOT count against an item level budget. They’re purely a bonus. Not all items will have a tertiary stat, and when they do, it won’t always be the same.

Finally, gem slots as well as whether an item is “forged” or not (i.e.: slightly higher ilvl than normal) may also show up on the piece of gear at random.

So, all armor items will have a primary stat that is malleable based on spec, stamina, one or two secondary stats (as per a budget), and may roll with a gem slot, a tertiary stat, and/or it will be forged. Trinkets, rings, and neck pieces will have secondary stats, and possibly extra effects (especially trinkets), and potentially the gem slot/tertiary stat/forged. Weapons I’m still unsure of off-hand, but I think they largely follow the same pattern.

The watercooler talks about the changes, and I recommend reading through it as I won’t be going over it in detail, just my thoughts. However, for ease, here’s the complete list:

Secondary Stats
  • Haste: (Unchanged) Increases attack speed, spell casting speed, and some resource generation
  • Critical Strike: (Unchanged) Increases your chance to critically strike, dealing double damage
  • Mastery: (Unchanged) Increases the effectiveness of your specialization-specific Mastery
  • Multistrike: (New) Grants two chances for your damage and healing effects to fire an additional time, each at 30% effectiveness
  • Versatility: (New) Increases damage and healing, and reduces damage taken
  • Spirit: (Unchanged, healer-only) Increases mana regeneration rate
  • Bonus Armor: (New, tank-only) Increases your armor

Minor Stats
  • Movement Speed: (New) Increases your movement speed
  • Indestructible: (New) Causes the item to not take durability damage
  • Leech: (New) Causes you to be healed for a portion of all damage and healing done
  • Avoidance: (New) Reduces your damage taken from area-of-effect attacks.

First thing you may notice is that Amplify and Readiness are gone. And frankly, good riddance.

Amplify had strange effects in terms of making all of your other secondary stats even more powerful. However, it would quickly snowball into being the best stat quite easily. Why go for 3% extra Crit when you could have 1% extra Crit, Mastery, Haste, Multistrike, Spirit, Bonus Armor, etcetera?

Readiness also had odd effects. It’s easier to make things like Haste and Crit relatively equal, but for a stat like Readiness? If you’re an Enhancement Shaman, where a LOT of your DPS comes from cooldowns, Readiness easily becomes insanely powerful. When you’re a Retribution Paladin, who in WoD will only have Avenging Wrath, effectively, Readiness becomes extremely lackluster. Why go for Readiness when really you could just go for Mastery or Crit and get a passive 30% boost to your throughput? The balance there just couldn’t be reached. I’m intrigued by the stat, don’t get me wrong. I will miss my 3.45 minute Fire Elemental come WoD, because I love him so, but at the same time, it seems to me to be a little wonky as a stat.

Multistrike isn’t terribly complex as a stat. It’s basically a slightly steadier version of Crit, really. Less damage per strike (since Crit doubles your damage but Multistrike only increases it by 30% - 60% depending on if you get one or two), but you’ll trigger it more often. With a visual effect similar to Dragonwrath or Echo of the Elements, it’ll have a bit more visual oomph than Crit which will probably make it more fun. The only real difference between Crit and Multistrike will come in as class flavor, like Frost Mages triggering Brain Freeze off Multistrikes instead of Crits.

Spirit is the same as always. Now with it only available on jewelry pieces, however, I wonder how swingy regen will be if you have it on one item versus all of your items? With triage healing making a return, raw throughput becomes quite important, and a balance between Spirit and other secondary stats I think will be an interesting question.

Bonus Armor isn’t great. It’ll be useful on physical bosses; it’ll be useless on most other bosses with magic damage. I think tanks, as usual, will want multiple trinkets and will be switching them out as needed.

Versatility is brand new, and at first blush sounds extremely overpowered and not much different from Amplify. The devil is in the details, however. With a boost to healing, damage, and damage reduction, it has the potential to be extremely interesting. Clearly it won’t be equal to the other secondaries for anything they do. I’d expect 1% Crit to be a bigger damage or healing boost than the Versatility rating required to boost damage 0.5%. But the fact that it does all three things makes it a potentially attractive option for hybrid roles and tanks.

Take, for example, the Enhancement Shaman. Look below to see an excerpt from our guild’s 10N Malkorok kill last night. I pulled 114k HPS as Enhancement, and still pulled nearly 300k DPS. As one of the only off-healers our raid has (everyone else is a pure DPS class), my off-heals are powerful and important for being able to two heal encounters; I’m usually like half a healer (Malkorok is an anomaly that I can take advantage of to pad my numbers in a way that still helps the raid). A stat like Versatility which boosts both my heals and my damage would be amazing for my role.
Malkorok 10N. Note the icon on the left for my Shaman's spec.
For tanks, where it increases their damage, healing, and reduces damage taken, it could be a good defensive stat. It depends on how active mitigation works out in the next iteration, as it will be competing with Haste, Crit, and Mastery, depending on the class.

Another case could be the entire raid stacking Versatility to reduce the overall damage taken. Imagine an entire Mythic raiding team using enough to reduce total damage taken on a healing intensive fight like 5 to 8%, and benching a healer and adding another DPS instead. That could be the difference between a kill and a wipe when you’re talking that cutting edge.

It still has an amplify-like effect, though, as the faster you can cast spells, or the more often you can crit, or the more Mastery you have, the harder your abilities will hit in the first place. It also kind of impinges upon Mastery’s place in a lot of classes, like Retribution Paladins, whose Mastery is a straight up damage boost in the form of an extra Holy attack. I’m not sure how much thought they’ve put into it yet.

For the minor stats, nothing too ground-breaking here. Movement speed is nice, but not surprising. Cleave going away is also not really surprising, given how meh it was for DPS and awesome it was for healers. Indestructible is a fun little bonus, wouldn’t mind seeing that on my weapons since they always break quickly (hooray dual-wielders). Avoidance is interesting, and I can see that being useful for tanks especially, but honestly with the amount of AoE that goes out in WoW, it’s probably great for anybody, really. Leech giving you a percentage of your own heals is great, too. I loved getting that on my Paladin in the past.

Overall, I’m enjoying the changes. Versatility could be terrible or really interesting, and I’m happy they shelved Readiness and Amplify. I like the fact that gearing will be similar to Diablo III’s style, but since we have much smaller loot tables and know exactly when loot will drop (but not what will drop), it feels more acceptable to me to have the chance of getting something perfect, but more likely you’ll get things that are decent. What gear we’re shelving for offspecs because of the primary stat malleability will be taken up by having more pieces with different secondaries/tertiaries, and that feels like a more interesting gearing strategy to me. It remains to be seen what the “drop rates” on tertiary stats, gem slots, and the forged attribute will be, but personally I am much happier with the new system in theory than the current.
#WarlordsOfDraenor, #Blizzard


  1. "Bonus Armor isn’t great. It’ll be useful on physical bosses; it’ll be useless on most other bosses with magic damage."

    Incorrect due to this:

    At a minimum it won't be useless and depending on how much bonus armor exists it might wind up being always the best due to the DPS increase.

    1. Oh wow, and with Str/Agi being reduced to 1 AP per point as well, that makes Bonus Armor as powerful as your primary stat. Good thing they're not letting you have a choice between primary and secondary.

  2. I think Versatility will end up being the 3rd stat on everyone's ranking. You'll have two secondary stats that you will chase, and will probably vary from class to class. Then gear with one of the Top 2 secondary stats + Versatility will be the second rank of gear. Second-best in slot, but still pretty decent.

    1. One of those things where you don't hate it, but wouldn't necessarily choose it, eh? I could see that for a lot of folks. Frankly, healers less so unless they're Monks/Disc Priests, but tanks/hybrid DPS that makes sense.