Gear Optimisation Guide (WoW WoW 5.4)

No matter how well you master your character's spell/ability rotation and playstyle, you will not reach your maximum potential if your gear is not well optimised. In this guide, we will walk you through everything you need to do in order to get the most out of your character's gear.

1. Introduction↑top

In this guide, we will discuss the four ways of improving and optimising your gear:

  • Choosing the correct items;
  • Gemming your gear;
  • Reforging your gear;
  • Enchanting your gear.

While each of these processes is independent from the others, they all lead together towards the same common goal: to maximise the statistics that are most desirable to your class and spec. In the case of some specs (mostly DPS), in addition to simply maximising your desirable statistics, you must also reach certain caps.

2. Statistics↑top

Statistics, informally known as stats, are the various bonuses that are found on your gear. They are divided in primary and secondary statistics, as follows:

Primary statistics Secondary statistics
  • Agility
  • Intellect
  • Stamina
  • Strength
  • Critical Strike Rating
  • Dodge Rating
  • Expertise Rating
  • Haste Rating
  • Hit Rating
  • Mastery Rating
  • Parry Rating
  • Spirit

Each class/spec combination has a primary statistic associated with it. The complete list is:

Agility Intellect
  • Feral Druids
  • Hunters
  • Brewmaster and Windwalker Monks
  • Rogues
  • Enhancement Shamans
  • Balance and Restoration Druids
  • Mages
  • Mistweaver Monks
  • Holy Paladins
  • Priests
  • Elemental and Restoration Shamans
  • Warlocks
Stamina Strength
  • Blood Death Knights
  • Guardian Druids
  • Protection Paladins
  • Protection Warriors
  • Frost and Unholy Death Knights
  • Retribution Paladins
  • Arms and Fury Warriors

As a rule, every class/spec combination values its primary statistic more than any secondary statistic. The relative value of secondary statistics differs between class/spec combinations. In any case, your general goal when it comes to the statistics on your gear is to maximise your primary statistic and the most valued of your secondary statistics.

2.1. Caps

Due to certain game mechanics, a number of class/spec combinations require a minimum amount of one or more statistics in order to be able to perform their role competitively.

Most commonly, these statistics are Hit Rating and Expertise Rating, ensuring that all of the player's attacks or spells will hit their target. Other classes may have Haste Rating or even Critical Strike Rating caps, due to their own mechanics, although this is more rare.

As a rule, these caps have the highest priority among all other stats (possibly second to the primary statistic, in some cases). After the caps are met, the value of the capped stat drops considerably (often to the point where the stat becomes totally useless).

2.2. Example of Statistics Priority

We will provide you with an example of a class' statistic priority, and show you (briefly) how you should optimise your stats.

In this example, we will look at the statistic priority of Beast Mastery Hunters. In our guide, we list the statistic priority as being:

  1. Agility
  2. Hit Rating and Expertise Rating (until 7.5% each)
  3. Critical Strike Rating
  4. Haste Rating
  5. Mastery Rating

To summarise, this means that you value Agility more than any other statistic. After maximising your Agility, your next goal is reaching the hit and expertise caps. Once this is achieved (remember that, after reaching the cap, the value of additional Hit Rating and Expertise Rating is zero), your next most important statistic is Critical Strike Rating.

Therefore, you should do the following:

  • Maximise the amount of Agility that you have;
  • Reach the hit and expertise caps;
  • Maximise your Critical Strike Rating (first and foremost) and Haste Rating at the expense of Mastery Rating.

3. Choosing the Correct Items↑top

This is the first step you should take. When choosing the best items for your class/spec, there are three things to keep in mind (in this order):

  1. Choose items of your character's armor type (cloth, leather, mail or plate), because there is a sizeable bonus for using the correct armor type;
  2. Choose items that have the highest amount of your primary statistic. This generally means that you want items of a higher item level, but you should also check the available sockets (a lower item level item with an extra socket and a socket bonus of your primary statistic may be better than another, higher item level item);
  3. Choose items that have the secondary statistics most desired by your class/spec. In our example of the Beast Mastery Hunter, you would want to avoid items that have Mastery Rating as a secondary statistic, and aim for items that combine Critical Strike Rating and Haste Rating/Hit Rating.

4. Gemming↑top

Sockets are sometimes found on gear. A socket is essentially a hole in which a gem can be inserted. Gems offer extra amounts of certain statistics (of your choice). There are several kinds of sockets:

  • Meta Socket Meta-sockets: sockets in which a meta-gem can be inserted. Meta-gems generally offer something special when compared to other gems (such as increased movement speed or increased armor). Only head items have a meta socket.
  • Red Socket Yellow Socket Blue Socket Red, yellow and blue sockets: these coloured sockets allow any type of gem (except for meta-gems) to be inserted in them. However, matching the colour of each socket of an item will activate the socket bonus. The bonus is a moderate amount of a given statistic.
  • Prismatic Socket Prismatic sockets: this special type of socket allows you to obtain the socket bonus regardless of what colour gem you insert in it.
  • Cogwheel Socket Cogwheel sockets: these sockets are only usable by Engineers. They are found on head items crafted by Engineers and they can only be filled with Cogwheels Gems.

For most DPS classes, it is ideal to gem your primary statistic in most sockets. Healers and tanks usually have different gemming recommendations, based on the need for versatility in their playstyle. In all of our guides, we provide you with the best gemming strategy.

4.1. Gemming Table for Beast Mastery Hunters

We will once again look at the Beast Mastery Hunter, as an example for applying our recommended gemming strategy. Our recommendations are simple, as follows:

Sockets Gems
Meta Socket Agile Primal Diamond Icon Agile Primal Diamond or Capacitive Primal Diamond Icon Capacitive Primal Diamond (better)
Red Socket Prismatic Socket
Yellow Socket Deadly Vermilion Onyx Icon Deadly Vermilion Onyx/Perfect Deadly Tiger Opal Icon Perfect Deadly Tiger Opal
Blue Socket

As you can see, Beast Mastery Hunters do not aim at maximising Agility, their primary statistic above all. Indeed, they can obtain twice more Expertise Rating and Hit Rating than Agility from gems, and Agility is not more than twice more valuable than Expertise Rating or Hit Rating. So, if they still need to reach the expertise or the hit cap, they can safely gem for Expertise Rating or Hit Rating.

The same hold for other classes and other secondary stats. For example, Fury Warriors will prefer using pure Critical Strike gems in yellow sockets.

5. Reforging↑top

Reforging is an in-game feature that allows you to redistribute 40% of a chosen secondary statistic on an item into another secondary statistic. Reforging is subject to a series of restrictions, mentioned below. Reforging is done by talking to specific NPCs located in Stormwind City and Orgrimmar.

5.1. Restrictions

Reforging is subject to a series of restrictions:

  • only secondary statistics can be used for reforging;
  • you can only reforge to a secondary statistic that is not already present on the item in question;
  • only items of item level 200 or higher can be used for reforging.

The cost of reforging an item is the same as the item's vendor value (i.e., how much a vendor will give you for the item if you sell it to them).

5.2. Reforge as a Healer or Tank

Usually, healers and tanks do not have to reach statistics caps. This makes it very easy to reforge, as they simply have to repeat the same task for each of their items.

For each item, if the two secondary statistics are not your two best secondary statistics, take the weakest of the two and reforge it into the best secondary statistics available.

Therefore, it is usually not mandatory to use a reforging tool, but it can help check that you reforged properly. Below, we explain how to use WoW Reforge, an online reforging tool.

5.3. Reforge as a DPS

All DPS classes have to reach hard caps (Hit, Expertise) and/or soft caps (Hit, Haste, Crit, etc.). This makes it much harder to reforge manually as you want to reach exactly the caps (for example, 15% hit for casters, not 15.5%), as otherwise statistics points are wasted.

Fortunately, there are tools to help you do that, as we will see in a further section.

6. Enchanting↑top

Enchanting is a means of improving your gear. It works by allowing you to add certain amounts of statistics to most of your gear pieces (neck items, rings and trinkets are excluded).

Even though there are multiple choices for what you can enchant an item with (both primary and secondary statistics, in most cases), there are usually very few viable options and it is best to follow a very clear and simple enchanting strategy. In all of our guides, we provide you with a comprehensive list of the best enchants to choose for each specific gear slot.

6.1. Enchanting Table for Beast Mastery Hunters

Slot Main Enchantments Extra Enchantments
Shoulders
Back
Chest Enchant Chest - Glorious Stats Icon Enchant Chest - Glorious Stats
Wrists Socket Bracer Icon Socket Bracer (Blacksmithing)
Hands
Waist Living Steel Belt Buckle Icon Living Steel Belt Buckle
Legs
Feet
Rings Enchant Ring - Greater Agility Icon Enchant Ring - Greater Agility (Enchanting)
Weapon

7. Optimising Gear with Ask Mr Robot↑top

To optimise your gear as precisely as possible, we advise the use of Ask Mr. Robot, which will tell you how to reforge and what enchants and gems to use.

This very nice tutorial will teach you everything you need to know about Ask Mr. Robot. It is important to read this tutorial, because otherwise you may find some recommendations to be confusing.

8. Changelog↑top

  • 04 Feb. 2014: Added monks to the tables in the second section.