How To Choose The Right Gear
I use a few acronyms in this article and Egwene told me that she got a bit confused when she read it. If you don’t know what some of them mean, head over to my WoW Glossary to get an explanation.
The third and last significant change you’ll see around level 10 is gear and weapons that have stat bonuses. I mentioned in my Leveling to 10 article that there are six quality levels of items in WoW and I covered Gray and White (Poor and Common) there. The first thing we’re going to do here is take a look at the other four quality levels.
Green, or Uncommon, items are actually quite common from level 10 on. They are the first items to have attribute bonuses. When you come across a Green item, I recommend you do one of three things with it:
1) Equip it. If you can use the item and the stats are good for you, then slap that puppy on.
2) AH it. If you don’t want the item, chances are someone else does. Stick it in the AH and make some money.
3) DE it. If you are an enchanter, DE it for the enchanting mats. Nearly all Greens can be disenchanted
Blue, or Rare, items are the next quality level and are significantly more rare (and valuable) than Green items. The majority of Blue items drop from bosses in dungeons and are BoP. However, there are quite a few BoE blues that drop in the world and are usually in high demand among other players. If you happen to find a Blue BoE item, I recommend selling it in the AH. If the item is good for your class, then you can equip it, but I would make sure that it is absolutely ideal before I decided to use it. Never ever DE a Blue BoE item. You will make much more from selling it than by selling the DE mats.
Purple, or Epic, items are most commonly found at the level cap. In addition to dropping from raid bosses, Epics can also be obtained through BGs and the Arena. Nearly all Epics are BoP but there are a rare few that are BoE. There is maybe a .1% chance that you will find an Epic while leveling. If you do, thank your lucky dice and treat it as you would a Blue.
Orange, or Legendary, items are the highest quality items in WoW. They are only found at the level cap and usually require significant resources to create.
So now that you know about the different levels of gear, let’s take a look at the different stats that come on gear and which stats you want to go for. There are 5 main character attributes: Strength, Agility, Stamina, Intellect, and Spirit.
Strength – Strength increases melee attack power for all classes. It also increases the amount of damage your character can block with a shield (for Warriors, Paladins and Shaman).
Agility – Agility increases ranged attack power, armor, dodge, and crit chance for all classes. Additionally, it increases melee attack power for Rogues and cat form Druids.
Stamina – Stamina increases your HP.
Intellect – Intellect increases mana and spell crit chance. It also increases the rate at which your character learns weapon skills, but this is really a trivial effect.
Spirit – Spirit increases the rate at which your character regenerates HP and mana.
Quick note on Spirit: In order to use Spirit effectively, you need to know a little bit more about how it works. Health only regenerates out of combat (except for Trolls who have a wee tiny health regen in combat). During combat, your health will only go down (unless you are healed), and when the fight is over it will start to go back up. Mana, on the other hand, will regen in combat, but only under one condition, called the 5 Second Rule. The 5 Second Rule says that mana will not begin to regenerate until 5 seconds after your last spell cast. We’ll cover the implications of this later.
As you level, you may also see items that have other attribute bonuses on them, such as attack power, spell power, crit rating, hit rating and healing power. These bonuses are all pretty much self-explanatory, and chances are you won’t see many of them until higher levels.
Now that you know all about stat bonuses, let’s figure out what kind of gear you want to get for your character. For this section, instead of going class by class, I’m going to divide the classes into 5 groups: Tanks, Melee DPS, Casters, Healers and Hunters. This way you can know what kind of gear you want to try for by what role(s) you like to play.
One thing to mention first is that I’m not going to discuss what types of weapons and armor each class can equip here. By this point in the game you should already be familiar with what your character can and can’t use. If you need a refresher course, head here to read up on it.
Tanks – Tanks of any class want Stamina, Strength, and Agility. Stamina, obviously, for high HP, Strength for increased shield effectiveness (and AP), and Agility for increased armor and dodge chance. Tanks are also the only group that the actual AC of the item will matter to. That is to say, the amount of armor given by the item is important to tanks, as they need to soak up as much damage as possible. AC is not much of a concern to the other groups.
Melee DPS – Melee DPS classes want Stamina, Strength, and Agility. Stamina will help their survivability, Strength increases AP, and Agility increases Crit Chance. Rogues (and Cat form Druids) get AP from Agility as well, making that stat even more desirable for them. Mana-using Melee DPS, such as Retribution Paladins and Enhancement Shaman, will also need to get some Intellect on their gear to add to their mana pool.
Casters – Casters’ primary stats are Intellect and Stamina. “But what about Spirit,” you may saying. “I want my mana regen to be super duper!” Remember what I said about the 5 Second rule? In the vast majority of fights as a caster, you will be chain-casting until the fight is over. There won’t be any pauses in combat for your mana to start regenerating. (The only possible exception to this is Shadow Priests, who have the Spirit Tap talent, which can allow for a limited amount of mana regen while casting. However, even with this talent, Shadow Priests will want to go primarily for Intellect and get Spirit when they can.)
Another thing to note as a caster is the existence of Spell Power gear. Spell Power, similar to Attack Power, makes your spells hit for more damage. However, unlike melee classes who get Attack Power from their primary stats, casters often have to choose between Intellect/Stamina gear (staying power for longer fights), and Spell Power (more damage done in a short amount of time). There are few pieces of gear with both Intellect and Spell Power at the lower levels (although some may be coming in Patch 2.3). Personally, when I’ve leveled casters, I’ve usually chosen to go with as much Spell Power as possible, but the choice is up to you.
Healers – Healers’ primary stats are Stamina and Spirit, with Intellect coming in third. Spirit is effective for healers because they often have pauses in between casting. Something like Heal, Pause, Heal, Pause, Pause, Heal, Fight Over. Additionally, if things get hairy, they can heal themselves OOM, wand for a bit to help with the DPS, and then get back to healing once they’ve gotten back some mana (and hopefully no one has died). Although it comes in third, Intellect is still valuable for healers as they do need to have a good size mana pool to begin with.
Hunters – Hunters get their own section because well, they’re special. Hunters’ primary stats are Agility, for Attack Power and Crit Chance, and Stamina. Hunters also need Intellect to some extent but this is definitely less important than Agility.
Public Service Announcement: Hunters, even if you’re skimming over everything else, please read this section. You, as a Hunter, are a ranged DPS class. This means that you will rarely, if ever, engage in melee combat. If you find yourself in melee combat, you should strive to get back out to ranged. You have no need for melee weapons with “Chance on hit” bonuses. These bonuses only occur during melee combat, so please let the melee classes in your group take them. We now return you to your regularly scheduled article.
You’ll note that I’ve mentioned Stamina as a primary stat for each class. You’ll have to gauge for yourself how much you need. Tanks and Melee DPS are probably going to need more than Casters, Healers and Hunters. Also, anyone who solos a lot will need a fair bit, as will anyone who PvPs a lot. Experiment with different gear and you’ll find a balance that suits you.
One last thing before I wrap this up. I want to mention again the importance of knowing what kinds of gear your class can use. I’ve been in too many groups where Rogues have rolled on Axes, Hunters on Maces, and Casters on Mail armor with Stamina and Intellect. If you make a mistake like that, apologize and tell people that you’re a newbie, and they’re likely to forgive the whole thing. However, it’s better that the situation never arise. If you’re not totally sure what you can and can’t use, head back up to that Class link and do some reading
Allright, that’s pretty much everything you need to know about attributes and what kind of gear you want to go for. At this point, you’re very close to not being a newbie anymore! In the next part of the Newbie’s Guide to WoW, I’ll cover grouping and instances and what to expect from them. Happy playing!