The Vengeful Polyglot

Int and Str and Agi, Oh My!

Posted on: September 6, 2011

For players rolling a new alt of a class they’re unfamiliar with, or players just starting WoW altogether, gear decisions can be tricky. Particularly for those who aren’t familiar with RPG archetypes, knowing which stats you want for a given spec isn’t necessarily intuitive. In the hopes of assisting any confused WoWers out there, here’s a little cheat sheet as to which classes and specs use which stats, and on which type of gear.

For convenience sake, I’m going to group specs into categories to more easily generalize when possible:

  • Healers: Holy Priest, Discipline Priest, Holy Paladin, Restoration Shaman, Restoration Druid
  • Tanks: Protection Warrior, Protection Paladin, Feral Druid (bear), Blood Death Knight
  • Cloth DPS: Shadow Priest, Mage, Warlock
  • Leather Spell DPS: Balance Druid
  • Leather Melee DPS: Feral Druid (cat), Rogue
  • Mail Spell DPS: Elemental Shaman
  • Mail Melee/Ranged DPS: Ehancement Shaman, Hunter
  • Plate DPS: Fury Warrior, Arms Warrior, Retribution Paladin, Unholy Death Knight, Frost Death Knight

While at least two “primary” attributes (stamina, strength, intellect, etc.) exist as-is on most gear, secondary stats (haste, critical strike, expertise, mastery, etc.) appear in the form of rating. There are specific conversions from a rating on gear into the actual percent increase, e.g. haste rating to percent haste; it’s best to look these up on an as-needed basis, as specific spec modifiers and diminishing returns can apply, as well.



Who: Everyone, especially Tanks

Provides: Health (10 per point after the first 20, which give only 1 health per point)

Stamina is present on almost every piece of gear in the game, and all classes can benefit from the added survivability it provides. It is particularly valuable to tanks as it increases the amount of damage they can take before dying, thereby increasing how well they can perform their role. Because of this, gear optimized for tanks can have more stamina than another piece of the same level.



Who: Tanks (except Feral Druids), Plate DPS

Provides: Attack power (2 per point for plate wearers), some parry rating (for tanks)

This is the primary stat for plate DPS. Strength mainly serves to provide Attack Power, which beefs up your attacks. Strength is also the primary stat for three of the four tanks (bear tanks use Agility instead), though stamina is generally a more important concern for tanking as it is “defensive” rather than “offensive.” In addition, plate-wearing tanks get about a quarter of their strength from gear as parry rating.



Who: Leather Melee DPS, Mail Melee/Ranged DPS, Feral Druid Tanks

Provides: Attack power (2 per point for mail and leather wearers), some critical strike and dodge rating

This is the primary stat for mail and leather melee/ranged DPS. In contrast to strength, agility provides some “bonus” stats in addition to Attack Power — it also increases a character’s chance to have a critical strike or dodge. While the amount of these per point is relatively low, it surely adds up, making agility a great “bang for your buck” stat for classes that use it. This is also the primary stat for feral druid tanks (rather than strength like the rest of their compatriots); in addition to the attack power, which is neither here nor there for tanking purposes, the provided dodge change makes agility one of a bear tank’s best mitigation stats.



Who: Healers, Cloth DPS, Leather Spell DPS, Mail Spell DPS

Provides: Spell power (1 per point), mana (~17.5 per point), some critical strike rating, passive regeneration bonuses

Intellect is the catch-all, primary stat for both healing and DPS casters, and its benefits are manifold. It increases the potency of spells, provides mana, and also (like agility above) increase critical strike chance. In addition to its direct benefits, intellect also provides a passive increase to many mana regeneration mechanics. For instance, abilities like Replenishment and Innervate give mana returns based on a character’s maximum mana, which is increased via intellect.



Who: Healers, Shadow Priests, Leather Spell DPS, Mail Spell DPS

Provides: Mana regeneration

Generally speaking, spirit was revamped as a “healer only” stat in Cataclysm. It increases healers’ in-combat mana regeneration, and is a very valuable since healers are intended to “worry” more about mana and regeneration than other caster specs. However, due to the distribution of caster stats for different armor classes, the caster DPS specs of classes that can heal (Elemental Shaman, Shadow Priests, Balance Druids) have talents which convert spirit from gear to hit rating. That way, even though there are only two mail caster specs, for instance, both can make use of gear with spirit. These DPS classes, therefore, have use for spirit despite not being healers.


Hit Rating

Who: Everyone except Healers

Provides: An increase in the chance to hit with spells and attacks.

Hit is useful to all roles except healing (heals cannot miss). Hit is generally more valuable to DPS than tanks, though, as taunts cannot miss and “threat” stats are considered less useful than survivability stats. Hit can be stacked to a “cap” at endgame which eliminates the chance to miss against bosses, after which hit is severely devalued.


Expertise Rating

Who: Tanks, Leather Melee DPS, Mail Melee DPS (not Hunters), Plate DPS

Provides: A reduction in the chance that an enemy can dodge an attack

Unlike hit, expertise is only useful to melee DPS and tanks. Spells can’t be dodged (and neither can heals, for that matter), so casters have no need for this stat. Expertise is also much more valuable to DPS than tanks, since threat stats are typically passed over in preference to mitigation. Expertise also has a cap for endgame bosses, after which it becomes more or less useless.


Critical Strike Rating

Who: Everyone except Tanks

Provides:  An increase in the chance to critically hit with spells and attacks

Critical strike rating increases the chance that you spells or attacks will hit for extra damage, or that heals will heal for more. Typically, critical strikes hit for twice the damage or healing they would normally have, though there are class-specific modifications on this formula for various abilities. Channeled spells, HoTs, and DoTs are able to have critical strikes on a per-tick basis.


Haste Rating

Who: Everyone except Tanks

Provides:  A reduction in the GCD (down to a minimum of 1 second), an increase in the speed of spell casts and attacks

Haste is a very attractive throughput stat for all specs except those which tank (since attacking faster is not a priority for tanks). Haste is a dependable increase in output because, unlike with critical strike rating, it’s not left up to chance. Haste can reduce the global cooldown from 1.5 seconds to 1 second, reducing the amount of time between instant attacks. For caster DPS and healers, it increases the speed of individual spell casts, as well as the time between ticks of channeled spells, HoTs, and spell DoTs. For melee and ranged DPS, it increases the regeneration of resources and rate of attack.


Parry Rating

Who: Tanks

Provides: An increased chance to parry an incoming attack

Parry is a survival or mitigation stat intended to help tanks divert or avoid incoming damage. Parrying an attack makes that attack and the next attack (provided it hits) hit for half the damage they would otherwise hit for. Currently, parry and dodge (not including talent or spec modifiers) are equally effective and experience the same diminishing returns.


Dodge Rating

Who: Tanks

Provides: An increased chance to dodge an incoming attack

Dodge is a survival or mitigation stat intended to help tanks divert or avoid incoming damage. Dodging an attack avoids all damage from that attack. As mentioned above, parry and dodge (not including talent or spec modifiers) are currently equally effective and experience the same diminishing returns.


Mastery Rating

Who: Everyone (after level 80)

Provides: A spec-specific benefit

All specs benefit from mastery. However, as the mastery for each spec is different, the value of this stat varies wildly. Your mileage may vary.


Further Reading

Obviously, I’ve been far from comprehensive here. There are a lot of sites which will let you research the specific stat ins and outs for a spec, particularly if you’re in the endgame rather than just starting out. Elitist Jerks has very detailed high-level information, TankSpot and PlusHeal have role specific forums and guides, and WoW Insider is an all-around good source, especially their beginner/newbie columns.

Don’t be intimidated! Managing stats sounds way more difficult than it is. 🙂


3 Responses to "Int and Str and Agi, Oh My!"

I understand so much now. I like the liitle blue dress on the troll.

Thanks! Just started yet another alt, and I always jump into playing without checking this stuff. It’s nice to see that people will still offer useful info. 😉

I’m so glad it was helpful to someone! 🙂

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