This isn’t my typical post here, so as a fair warning – this is about World of Warcraft Gear. I’d posted this over in my guild forums and had wanted to share it with a friend outside of the guild and realized it might be useful to have this somewhere other than in the archives of our guild forums. So with that intro, here is an introductory overview to WoW Gear, and how to pick your gear and know what you are looking at.
I was having a discussion with someone the other day about gear, and thought I’d write up a bit about gear in case anyone else can benefit from it. I’ve included item links below so you can click through to the items and see the information being discussed.
To start with the basics, gear has “what material is it” (cloth, leather, mail, plate) which determines if you can wear the piece at all and stats. For example: [Web Winder Gloves] has Stam, Int, Haste and Spell power. At the same time this is a piece of plate. This would be a fine piece for a Holy Paladin (since no other healer could wear it) but it would look kind of funny on a Death Knight as they have no use for int or spell power.
Depending on your class and spec different stats are more important. Depending on your current gear, different stats are more valuable to you. For example hit isn’t a primary stat for Protection Warriors, but if the Prot Warrior is below hit cap (how much additional hit is needed to not miss a mob) the hit rating of a piece of gear may make the item more valuable.
Next up is the “color” of the gear. For the most part we are looking at “greens” like [Ancestral Chestplates], blues like [Patina-Coated Breastplate] and purples like [Breastplate of the Afterlife]. If you
mouse over click the links those items you will see that the name of the item has a particular color. Greens are known as “uncommon”, blues “rare, purples “epic”. As you might guess greens < blues < purples. So when you hear someone say “oh he’s in all greens” that’s what they are talking about. A very simple gear check (which may or may not be useful) that people will do is to just check the color of the items in a person’s gear.
Now the greens < blues < purples is a general rule but that isn’t always the case. With each expansion the old purples became worth less than the greens of the next expansion. So for example [Blinkstrike], a nice purple sword from Outland, might get replaced by a green [Blade of Diligence] from Northrend. You might guess this simply from the stats, but another way to see the difference is from the item level (ilevel).
As a general rule the higher item level is likely to be the better gear – but again, the stats, and how they relate to your class and spec are what are going to be primary. However, when someone says “Oh their gear score is X”, what that is based on is the item levels of the gear they are wearing (and whatever formula their addon does to come up with the number.) Again, it can be used as a quick glance evaluation of someone’s gear, but again with variable usefulness.
Next up is Tier gear. Tier gear is gear that makes up a “set” and when you wear enough pieces of a set you get a “set bonus”. For example
[Wrynn’s Pauldrons of Conquest] has 2 set bonus that affects taunt and devastate, and a 4 set bonus that decreases the cooldown of shield block. If a toon was wearing 2 or more pieces of the Wrynn Plate set they would get the 2 set bonus, if they were wearing 4 they would get the 4 set bonus (in addition to the 2 set.) Tier gear usually is associated with a particular raid instance. Tier 8 gear came from Ulduar, Tier 9 is associated with Trial of the Crusader (ToC). Tier gear is acquired by getting a token for the piece of gear and/or by using emblems. For example
[Breastplate of the Wayward Protector] a token can be used to buy one of six different ( tier 8 ) chestpieces. These tokens were acquired either by them being dropped in the raid instance or by buying them with emblems ([Emblem of Conquest] in this case.) The vendors for the tier gear are either in Dalaran, or in the case of Tier 9 at the Tournament Grounds. You can find how many emblems you have in your character tab under currency. Also note, not all gear bought with emblems is tier gear. (Look for the set bonus information if you aren’t sure.)
As you might guess, the higher tiers are designed as upgrades from the lower tiers. So is tier gear better? Not necessarily. Often it comes down to evaluating stats versus set bonuses. If you look at the Best in Slot (BiS) lists a lot of the gear is not tier. Again, it depends on stats and what type of a gear set you are looking for.
Gear sets? Yes, in addition to general for your class stat priorities there may be different functions you want your gear to perform. This usually isn’t relevant until you are working on refining your game for specific fights. (And I don’t know if it is relevant for all classes. I’ve only seen details on tanks and paladin healers.) When gearing up your first priority is to just get a good set of gear that meets the needs of your class and spec. You can ignore this next section if you want but I thought I should include this since it is something discussed in the forums and something that took me a while to get my head around.
The specific purpose gear sets are sort of an elaboration of the “what stats are important”. For example, a protection tank may have 3 (or 4) different priorities, Effective Health – how much damage they can take from a boss before they go splat, Avoidance – How much they can avoid being hit by the boss, or Threat – How much they can make the boss pay attention to them over the rest of the raid team. Different sets would be used for different fights depending on the boss mechanics. Because of the limits of the stats you can’t have maximum health, maximum avoidance and maximum threat, you have to pick one. While it is something you can do to some extent just playing with the gear you have, I usually look around on the forums and look at examples that other people who actually find all the gear and do the math come up with.
I know that this covered a lot of details on gear. To recap start with the basics. Know what stats are relevant to your class, and what your various “caps” are. Then work on getting better gear moving from greens to blues to purples. Often looking at what drops from various bosses on WoWWiki can give you an idea of places to go for upgrades. You can also look at sites like Wow-Loot, and many more. As usual if you have questions or corrections, fire away.
Happy gearing up!