6 Mar 2010

Hit It Like You Mean It

Ask a mage to talk about the Hit Cap, and you’ll probably get a tirade of ranting. They’ll start to froth at the mouth as this haze of madness descends upon them, a rage of arguments involving calculations and forecasts that seem like some encrypted mathematical riddle. It’s a horrible stat that never feels ‘useful’, just one of those things that you need to have enough of. Not too much though – anything more than enough is a waste.

To understand more on the problems mages face with the Hit Cap, it’s worth reading the WoWWiki article. The amount of hit needed from gear, enchants and gems can change dramatically based on what talent spec you have as well as what racial abilities you have and who else you have in the group. And since you can’t bank on having the same group make-up every time, you end up building your gear based on worse case scenarios.

Add on to this Blizzard’s habit of ‘tweaking’ and you have a recipe for frustration. In the start of Wrath of the Lich King, Deep Fire had the highest damage output. While you were gearing up, a solid Arcane spec would allow you to pick up talents like Precision and Arcane Focus. We even had progression, from Arcane, to Frostfire, to Deep Fire, as we geared up. Then patch 3.2.2 came out and suddenly the spec that provided the most hit was also the one with the highest DPS output. Overnight every high end mage had to go out, respec and re-asses their gear. It was a nightmare.

This form of ‘stat tetris’ is something that Blizzard are working on with Cataclysm, in order to make hit gear more useful. But then again, if you look at the overall stat changes that are planned for Cataclysm there are still some questions that remain. Looking at what’s being planned, we’ll have the following stats to juggle.

  • Stamina – affecting our health pools, possibly impacting spell damage
  • Intellect – affecting our mana pools and spell damage
  • Haste – how fast we can cast our spells
  • Crit rating  – a spell’s chance to critically hit
  • Mastery – a ‘bonus’ stat for wearing gear relevant to us (cloth)
  • Spell damage – no longer on gear, but will remain on weapons
  • Hit rating

Currently, the responses on how hit rating will work are pretty vague. Is it something that we’ll need more of as we go into higher tier brackets of dungeons, becoming part of the ‘gear check’ that we’ll need to leap over regardless of skill? Is it one of these stats that’s going to scale pretty linearly up to a soft cap, in the same way that haste and crit rating do now? Will it have a multiplier or booster affect on our other stats, but without a cap? Currently these are unknowns and will probably remain so until the launch of Beta later this year.

Why not ask another question though – why is hit needed as part of the spellcaster damage mechanics? Does it have an important role to play as a stat in the overall damage calculation, or is it there to serve purely as a gating or limiting mechanic? Does it need to exist as a stat in talent trees, or can it be moved out to be a purely gear-based stat?

Does it need to exist at all, or can it be thrown in the trash?

I’ll be eagerly waiting on further news, but I really hope that we can avoid having to juggle stats around a pivot point of some magical number. After all, I’d rather play Peggle instead of Tetris.

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