Recount and general ignorance

There's been a lot of talk in the WoW blogosphere as of late about performance expectations in heroic groups, about how much dps you can expect from people depending on the gear they have, and how judgemental you should be when people don't live up to your expectations. At first I found myself agreeing a lot with the people who claimed that there's no excuse to do less than X dps no matter what, but after thinking about it some more, I came to the conclusion that all of these posts completely brush over one very important point: that WoW itself doesn't teach you how to play your class, at all.

Yesterday I was in a heroic Halls of Stone run with an enhancement shaman who did fairly poor dps, and after inspecting him it turned out that his gear was all over the place: a cloak made for tanking, some spell power here, and so on and so forth. I considered giving him a few friendly words of advice, but since I was the tank I didn't really want to stop the run dead by pausing to have a chat with him.

It made me think however: It's so easy to take the knowledge about which stats are best for which class for granted, but if I'm being honest I never would have learned these things if other people and external websites hadn't told me about them first. Abilities and talents have tooltips, yes, but to be honest they are often pretty poor. Whenever these things get changed in a major patch, people almost always have to do some theorycrafting and testing first to find out what's the new optimal spec and rotation, and yet we expect everyone to figure these things out on their own when it comes down to it?

When I log onto my level twenty-six rogue alt for example, his character panel tells me that he has 48 strength, which increases his attack power by 38, and 110 agility, which increases his attack power by 100. Using layman's math, agility comes out as being only marginally better than strength here, while "common knowledge" tells me that a rogue gets twice as much attack power from agility than from strength. How is the average player supposed to know that when the game tells them something else?

Back when I was a wee newbie priest, I also liked gear with agility on it, because the tooltip at the time told me that agility increased my chance to dodge and my ranged attack power. Yay, dodging attacks is always good, right? Except that obviously, as a priest I shouldn't find myself in a position where I have to dodge attacks very often, and I would get much better use out of other stats. But how should I have known that? As for the ranged attack power, I thought that increased my wand damage, which I think was a perfectly logical conclusion to come to. Except that once again, that's not how it actually works, but again there was nothing in the game that actually told me so.

Also, one of the earliest purchases I made as a newbie priest was a Quarter Staff. It had more dps than my old one, right? For some reason I assumed that having a weapon with X damage per second equipped would automatically mean that my character would do X damage per second while fighting, not realising that this only applied if I actually whacked things over the head with it (i.e. played a melee class). Very wrong, but again not exactly something that was completely illogical!

Similarly, knowing how much dps we do is something that most of us have become very used to, but fact of the matter is that Recount is an addon, not part of the default interface, and I'm sure I'm the not the only one who played without any addons whatsoever for a long time. Without a tool like that, there is no way to tell how much dps you do, the only measurement you have is whether a mob that you attack dies quickly or slowly. As long as it dies quickly enough, you have no reason to worry, and considering the ease of soloing in WoW, you can get away with just auto-attacking most of the time anyway. People accuse players with low dps of not even trying, when they might in fact not even know that they are doing something wrong in the first place!

The point is, you can get very far in WoW by just taking the game at face value, not understanding which stats are best for you and not knowing how much damage you do. It will most likely just make you a rather poor player in a group. Yes, I boggle at death knights doing 500 dps in heroics too, but that still doesn't necessarily make them lazy or stupid, most likely just ignorant, and ignorance about a game is hardly a crime. I know I didn't use to be the type who researched stuff online, the only reason I ended up doing so after a while was because a friend linked me to an article about priest healing, and others kept making references to this thottbot website that I should check out. I wouldn't have become the player I am today if I hadn't received so much help from others. I just feel sorry for those really poor dpsers in heroics for clearly not having any good friends that are willing to share their knowledge. Vote-kicking and berating them will teach them a new lesson for sure, but I don't think it's the right one.


  1. Agility increased the critical hit chance of your wand, and I think it
    still does. :)

    The the blue level 60 dungeon set for priests, the set for mages and
    the set for warlocks had agility on it. And a lot of agility. That
    agility was later changed into (a lot less) spirit.

    The AQ40 set for hunters (http://www.wowhead.com/?itemset=509) has
    spell power and spirit on it.

    There are a lot of items in the game which are for your class but have
    the wrong stats. So, yes, not even does WoW not teach you these
    things. It even gives the wrong precedence.

  2. I think we all started doing things the wrong way, and for me is perfectly acceptable a character wearing wrong gear up to certain level, specially if he plays a class like enhancement shaman, wehre you do not only physical attacks, so spellpower seems attractive. But at certain levels these mistakes shouldn't happen. Not because the game should have taught you what to wear (this is something WotLK has finally addressed with the quest rewards) but you should already have some information, either from friends, guildmates or just inspecting other chars. Reaching level 70 or further wearing that miscellanea gear just means you're all alone in a game played by over 11 million people, which seems hard to conceive, or refuse to listen to any advice. Or maybe that's too easy to reach level without knowing what's your class all about.
    Theorycrafting is another game, if you're a healer you'll want things with sp and mp5/spi, but then maths tell you would do better stacking int. I'm not up for the "hardcore numbers" and try to have some balance, but I usually follow the simple guidelines that sites like raider101.com give. Any player should have access to that information from start. Blizz should include some kind of miniguide ingame telling you what basic stats (leaving aside the haste vs crit discussion or simmilar) your char should aim for.

  3. @Kurnak: That's the thing, you can make your way to eighty without interacting with other players. I wouldn't want to play that way myself, but some do. I do think something like you said, like a small in-game manual would be useful, giving you basic tips for how to gear and play your class.

  4. I have a long reponce on my blog--as the embedded window doesn't show up on the work PCs.

    The summary: WoW is just the Oculus writ large.