Wednesday, December 31, 2014

[WoW] Secondary Wars: The Socket Strikes Back

Last week I took a look at what point did it make sense for you to take a gear upgrade regardless of the secondaries involved. One of the criticisms leveled at it was I used a pretty odd slot (bracers), given how small of a contribution it gives. Totally valid, because it's harder to see the exponential curve as stats go up.

I also glazed over Sockets pretty quickly, and between my conversation in the comments with Balkoth, as well as more thought on it myself, I wanted to do a more thorough analysis, and also perform a comparison versus Warforged. But first, let's talk secondary stats a second time.

Secondary Stats Revisited

So last week I chose bracers. This week, let's go the other direction, let's pick the chest piece, one of the--if not the--biggest chunks of stats on a single piece of gear.

I nabbed plate chest pieces this time, and when you compare it to the bracers last week, it provides nearly twice the secondary stats as the bracers did (and about 50% more primary stat). So I ran through the same calculations I did last week for both Retribution Paladin and Enhancement Shaman stat weightings.

Retribution Stat Weights. You'll note they're much closer together than the Enhance weights were.
As before, I choose to make the best piece mathematically possible for the base one, and check against the mathematically worse Warforged version to see if it's worthwhile.

Retribution Chest
Item Level 630 Item Level 636
167 Strength 177 Strength
216 Mastery 229 Versatility
1632.3 = (167 * 5.7) + (216 * 3.15) 1627.2 = (177 * 5.7) + (229 * 2.70)

Item Level 685 Item Level 691
279 Strength 295 Strength
365 Mastery 385 Versatility
2740.05 = (279 * 5.7) + (365 * 3.15) 2721.00 = (295 * 5.7) + (385 * 2.70)

As we can see, it's really quite close. Close to the point where 10 ilvls would be overkill for Paladins. Chances are, Warforged anything is better than the plain piece you're running. But they have a much closer stat spread than other classes, so let's take a look at Enhancement Shaman based on the spreads last week.

Enhancement Chest
Item Level 630 Item Level 636
167 Agility 177 Agility
216 Haste 229 Versatility
1463.4 = (167 * 5.4) + (216 * 2.6) 1413.8 = (177 * 5.4) + (229 * 2.0)

Item Level 685 Item Level 691
279 Agility 295 Agility
365 Haste 385 Versatility
2455.6 = (279 * 5.4) + (365 * 2.6) 2363.0 = (295 * 5.4) + (385 * 2.0)

So a larger gap, but the calculations for 640 item (1467.6 = [184 * 5.4] + [237 * 2.0]) show that 10 ilvls is still sufficient to overcome the disparity. And frankly, like last week, if you pick the more reasonable stats where you choose the best two secondaries and compare them to the worst two, Warforged is actually generally an upgrade for Ret:

Retribution Chest
Item Level 630 Item Level 636
167 Strength 177 Strength
121 Mastery 128 Versatility
95 Haste 101 Crit
1618.05 = (167 * 5.7) + (121 * 3.15) + (95 * 3.0) 1637.30 = (177 * 5.7) + (128 * 2.70) + (101 * 2.8)

Item Level 685 Item Level 691
279 Strength 295 Strength
197 Mastery 208 Versatility
168 Haste 177 Crit
2714.85 = (279 * 5.7) + (197 * 3.15) + (168 * 3.0) 2738.70 = (295 * 5.7) + (208 * 2.70) + (177 * 2.8)

But for Enhancement it's actually a (very minor) downgrade, but so minor I'm not sure it's worth bothering with unless you think that extra ~20 DPS you'll get is worth it:

Enhancement Chest
Item Level 630 Item Level 636
167 Agility 177 Agility
121 Haste 128 Versatility
95 Mastery 101 Multistrike
1420.65 = (167 * 5.4) + (121 * 2.6) + (95 * 2.15) 1418.85 = (177 * 5.4) + (128 * 2.0) + (101 * 2.05)

Item Level 685 Item Level 691
279 Agility 295 Agility
197 Haste 208 Versatility
168 Mastery 177 Multistrike
2380.00 = (279 * 5.4) + (197 * 2.6) + (168 * 2.15) 2371.85 = (295 * 5.4) + (208 * 2.0) + (177 * 2.05)

So the conclusions I came to last week still hold as far as vanilla vs. Warforged. 15 ilvls is still a no-brainer, and unless you have a really broad stat spread (broader than Enhancement's), even 10 ilvls is solid regardless of secondaries on the piece. Add in the extra Stamina for survivability, and it's an even bigger boon.

The "exponential" stat curve is still really low at the ilvls where we are, so even on a chest piece doesn't show it too deeply. That exponential curve really starts showing in aggregate, as the combined stat budget of all of your items starts scaling quickly as you go up ilvls. It'll be interesting to see how that changes when we hit T18 in a patch or two.

Warforged Versus Sockets

As Balkoth brought up last week, Sockets are a static bonus, and as stat budgets increase exponentially, the relative value of a Socket will decrease. Also, when you look at say, bracers, which have a smaller overall budget than say, a chest piece, it has a greater relative effect. That is, a gem is going to compare more favorably to Warforged in bracers than in a chest.

So using Enhancement stat weights, I graphed the difference in stat weights for worst Warforged, best Warforged, and +50 sockets with the best secondary.

That graph needs some explanation. I took two baselines for 630/640/655/670/685, one with the best possible secondary, and one with the worst possible secondary. Then, I have the stat score for a Warforged item of that ilvl with the best/worst as a base, and I have the stat score for a +50 Haste gem in that ilvl with the best/worst item as a base, the idea being reality will lie between the maximum/minimum values of best/worst stat scores.

The green line, the worst secondary baseline, is clearly terrible. Everything is better. The best secondary baseline, however, is better than either gems or sockets. But that makes sense given sidegrades, and the much larger chunk of base stats to work off of. The baselines of course change depending on the stat spread of a given class.

Really, the more interesting piece of information we can glean from this is that there's an inflection point where a +50 gem goes from better to worse than Warforged, as predicted by Balkoth in our conversations prior. The inflection point for Enhancement chest pieces lies somewhere between ~665 ilvl (worst stats, Warforged vs. +50 Socket) and ~687 ilvl (best stats, Warforged vs. +50 Socket), depending on the secondary stats on your item.

Given just how close it is for even the best--and you'll not likely see to many chest pieces with nothing but Haste--for Mythic/Heroic pieces, Warforged is probably about the same as Sockets, or Sockets eke out Warforged slightly until Mythic, which Warforged wins (barely). So I'd expect in this scenario at least, we'll hit the full inflection point somewhere in Mythic Foundry gear.

Let's take a look at Bracers:

No contest. Sockets > Warforged all the way through Mythic, and beyond. The inflection point likely lies in T18, I'm going to guess somewhere in the range of 705 ilvl.

So Enhancement has a decently wide stat spread, and Agility is worth a lot compared to even the best secondary. Let's perform the same exercise for Retribution, which has a much closer spread, and a primary that isn't worth as much comparatively.

Retribution mimics Enhancement relatively closely. For both chest and bracers we're looking at nearly identical inflection points. That may be a fluke, however, so let's take a third spec, Frost Mage, which has an even wider stat spread than Enhance.

Frost Mage Stat Weights. Versatility isn't last? Wow!

Even more interesting, the inflection point for a Frost Mage chest item is actually beyond Mythic for the best case item, probably about 3 - 5 ilvls if I were to guess visually. And of course, bracers it'll likely be by 710ish where that inflection point hits.

So with all of that, I'm quite confident that Sockets are better than Warforged for this tier, excepting perhaps Mythic Blackrock Foundry gear for the big ticket items (i.e.: chest). For smaller items, Sockets will be better than Warforged into T18, unless Blizzard introduces Epic gems or something, in which case Sockets will likely be king for the whole expac as long as you're using +50 gems--which if you're using Heroic or better gear, when that +15 difference starts to really matter, you should be.

The caveat on this are weapons and trinkets. Weapons rely heavily on weapon damage/spell power boosts. I would bet money that Warforged for those would be better than Sockets (though I haven't done the math to prove it). Trinkets I think it'll depend on the proc, as Warforged would boost the proc effect, but a Socket would not. Also noting that I'm ignoring Stamina still, but given how low Versatility is on the totem pole, many people seem to be ignoring the benefits of survivability.

All of this will get a bit more interesting once we toss in Blackrock Foundry gear, given it's 10 ilvls off Highmaul (650/665/680/695), giving us more options for in-between gear, and side-grades where we may have to decide if 4 or 6 ilvls are worth dropping a Socket (they won't be given Sockets > Warforged in all but the super-top-end gear, and Warforged is just 6 ilvls) or if 10 ilvls are worth dropping a Socket, or so on.

Addendum: Link to the spreadsheet where all my work on this is stored for perusal.
#WorldOfWarcraft, #Theorycrafting


  1. FYI, your Retribution Bracer graph is labeled as Chest :)

    Nice analysis!

    1. Nooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

      I was so careful, too, lol. Good catch! And thanks!