Archive

Weapons Guide

Updated Fri, Mar 07, 2008 by Ethec

A quick guide to players' tools of destruction in World of Warcraft

Perhaps you thought your warrior was stuck with the big hammer he was born holding, or that your mage couldn't equip a sword in the tradition of a certain white wizard of yore. I did, until a kindly soul introduced me to the local weapon master, and unwittingly prompted the idea for the guide set before you know. While weaponry is more crucial for front-line melee'ers, just about any class can benefit from an understanding of the attribute boosts provided by weapons and other equipment; something discussed later in this article.

Before we get into the crux of the issue, let's take a moment to understand the weapon's stats: the information presented to you when you mouse-over the weapon's icon.

Understanding Damage and DPS

Damage is a hit point range describing how much hurt you'll put on your target per hit, and speed is how often you'll have a chance to hit. The damage range and speed (or "delay" between swings) in your weapon stats culminate in a value called "damage per second." This number is a simple average of the damage range divided by speed; it does not take into account critical damage, weapon bonuses (which typically benefit fast weapons more than slow ones; since bonuses are applied to each hit and faster weapons obviously hit more often) and the range of special abilities your character may enjoy by using a certain type of weapon. Nonetheless, DPS is an important baseline value when comparing weapons which otherwise similarly complement your skills and abilities.

Weapon Speed (Or Why a Slow 44 DPS Weapon May Beat Out A Fast 44 DPS Weapon)

There are times when you want a fast weapon, such as when you're fighting casters and want more chances to interrupt their spell casting. More often, however, you'll want to use as slow a weapon as you can find with the biggest max damage.  Many abilities cue off of the weapon's damage to determine ability damage.  Also, many of these abilities are "instants" - or instantly applied within the same combat round as your normal melee swings.  This means that if you have an ability that does a bonus of 100% weapon damage, and you only have a 2.0 speed weapon that hits for 75-100 per hit (or roughly 44dps) , it will do 100 base damage + 100 bonus damage.    If you had a 4.0 speed weapon that did 150-200 (still roughly 44dps), it would do 200 base + 200 bonus damage. Since most of these abilities are on a cooldown timer of some duration (10-30 seconds) it means you will get to use it the same number of times per minute for each weapon.  

Assume a 10 second cooldown and the ability above. With the fast 44dps weapon you would get additional 600 damage over the course of 1 minute (assuming you have mana, rage, energy to use the ability every 10 seconds).  If you did the same with the slow 44dps weapon you would cause an additional 1200 damage over the same time.

One-Handed (1H) & Two-Handed (2H) Weapons, and Dual Wield

The pros and cons of using 1H vs. 2H vs. a Dual Wield setup is a hotly-debated topic. To my mind, you can't go wrong if you accommodate your play style, maximize your crucial stats, and finally maximize your overall DPS (as opposed to the simple DPS reported in your weapons stats - a UI mod like CTMod is useful for computing "overall" DPS), you can't go far wrong. I'll leave a detailed statistical analysis to the mathematicians; we'll stick to the basics.

The primary benefit to using a one-handed weapons is that your off-hand is free to carry a shield or stat-boosting item. Other advantages include the aforementioned damage bonus being applied more often, the fact that more "hits" due to the higher speed of these weapons give you more chances to interrupt a caster (not to mention a higher chance of your weapon proc'ing- for a definition of proc, see below). Dual wield allows some classes (at a later point in the game) to equip a second one-handed weapon in exchange for a higher percentage of misses. Slower two-handed weapons do an incredible amount of damage for the reasons mentioned in the "Weapon Speed" section.

So which is the right approach for you? It pretty much comes down to playstyle and stats. A shield opens up a whole line of abilities for warriors and paladins geared toward protection, so its probably pretty important for meat shields to carry a one-handed weapon. Rogues need a dagger (a weapon seemingly favored by many DPS classes) to carry out their backstab-related abilities. Casters need a lot of intellect, and staves, polearms, and daggers typically provide. For all the classes however, stats are king, and your weapons load out should perhaps be slightly more geared to stats than DPS performance. To a point. It's hard to see how a 15 DPS weapon could ever win out stats-wise over a 25 DPS weapon for a melee-intensive character.

You might have seen this graph before, but it's important to understand what attributes contribute to your playstyle:

Stat Bonuses from Weapons & Other Equipment

Stat
Benefit
The "Math"
Best for...
Strength
Higher DPS, better chance to block
1 Strength = +2 Attack Power
14 Attack Power = +1 DPS (Damage per second)...
Therefore,
7 Strength = +1 DPS
Balanced melee roles
Agility
More melee critical hits, better chance to dodge, primary attribute for damage (rogues & hunters only)
2 Agility = 1 Armor point
20 Agility = +1% to Critical hit (Rogues require 29 agility points to generate +1% Crit, +1% Dodge, Hunters require 53 points per percent increase of Dodge and chance of Critical Hit)
20 Agility = +1% to Dodge
Offensive roles / burst combat (PvP)
Spirit
Increases health & mana regen
4 Spirit = 1 Mana regenerated every 2 seconds
Magic users in an evenly-paced setting (e.g. a PvE dungeon crawl) where limited rest time is available between battles
Stamina
Increases hit point pool
1 Stamina = 10 Health points
Defensive roles
Intellect
Increases mana pool, slightly more magical critical hits

1 Intellect = 15 Mana
1 Intellect = +.01% to Critical Hit on spells (small, but it can add up!)

All casters

As I was saying, some weapons are better suited to some of these stats rather than others. Swords, axes, and maces are more likely to carry bonuses to strength and stamina, while some say daggers and staves are more likely to provide intellect and spirit boosts. Agility seems pretty well divided between all the weapons (from my cursory overview of the market on my shard). Be sure to look into the higher branches of your talent tree to see if you'd like to build your character to take advantage of any particular weapon-based abilities.

+To Hit Bonus

Some weapons and armor have +to hit bonuses. This number effects your base chance to hit your enemy. Against an enemy that is the same level as you are you have a base 5% chance to miss with melee and 4% with spells, assuming that you have maxed weapon skill for that level. By raising the to hit ability you can reduce your chance to miss down to 0% for melee and ranged and 1% chance to miss with spells. The number of points to lower the percentage chance to miss varies based on your level but is 79 points for melee at level 70. To reduce spell miss to 1% at level 70 you need 38 points. You can find all the number needed per level here in our What's with all these Crazy Numbers? guide.

+To Crit Bonus

Some weapons and armor have a base +to crit chance. This number effects your base chance to inflict a critical hit on your enemy. The number of points required to raise this by 1% depends on your level, but is 14 points for both melee and spell critical at level 70.

You can find all the number needed per level here in our What's with all these Crazy Numbers? guide.

Weapon Expertise

Some weapons and armor have a bonus called expertise. This number reduces your opponents chance to dodge or parry your attack by 0.25% per skill point. The number of expertise needed to gain a skill point varies by level. At level 70 you require 3.0 points to gain a skill point.

Procs & Other Weapon Bonuses

A proc is a chance to trigger a special bonus attack. The percentage chance of a proc is measured in PPM, or procs per minute- weapons with procs usually have a set PPM. PPM is then compared to the weapons speed and converted to a percentage base per hit.

So for example if you are dealing with a 6ppm weapon proc:

2.0 spd wep:  2.0 (seconds per swing)/ 10 (seconds per proc) = .2 procs per swing. = 20% proc/swing

3.5 spd wep:  3.5 (seconds per swing)/ 10 (seconds per proc) = .35 procs per swing. = 35% proc/swing

What this means is that in general you are much better off with a slower weapon to get procs on more hits.

Other weapons offer bonuses to healing skills, damage, shadow damage, etc. Be sure to read through all the information available on a weapon before committing to buy it (or sell it at a certain price, for that matter). Some weapon bonuses can really rack up the damage; e.g. a fire damage bonus would tear up against "cold" enemies.

Ranged Weapons

From my own unofficial analysis of the DPS stats of higher-end bows, crossbows, and guns, the three types of melee-class ranged weapons seem fairly similar. Crossbows are toughest to find (having the least variety), and are slow, but hit for the hardest- which might be best for one-shot pullers like warriors. Back-row death-dealers might enjoy using bows (which hit for slightly more) or guns (which are oh-so-slightly faster).

Mages and warlocks have their own form of ranged weapon: their wand. Wands can be interrupted just like traditional ranged weapons, but can be used when a caster is stifled, but have no activation cost to use and generate little aggro..

Weapons Each Class Can Equip

Either through inherent knowledge, weapons master training, or talents, each class can learn to use a variety of weapons. The "Xs" and notations below indicate which class can equip which weapon type.

Class  Staves 1H / 2H Swords 1H / 2H Axes 1H / 2H Maces Daggers Fist Weapons Polearms Bows Crossbows Guns Thrown Weapons Wands
Warriors
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
Paladins
X
X
X
X
Rogues
1H Only
1H Only
X
X
X
X
X
X
Hunters
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
Mages
X
1H Only
X
X
Warlocks
X
1H Only
X
X
Druids
X
X
X
X
Priest
X
1H Only
X
X
Shamans
X
X
X
X
X

(Our thanks to Eldanar - Human Paladin of server Argent Dawn, Milton - Warlock of server Frostbane, Harmsway of server Laughing Skull, Quickfire of server Vek'nilash, Adraga of the Sentinels server, and Kusanage - Paladin of server Dragonblight for pointing out errors in the paladin (x3), hunter, priest, and shaman portion of the table!)

Learning New Weapons Skills

If you should wish to train in a weapon skill that you don't already possess, you can learn some new weapons skills from "Weapons Masters" located in the major Horde and Alliance cities (some skills may only be learned through the talent system). When seeking a weapons master for the first time, chat with a guard (or "grunt" or "brave" - whatever moniker the local guards wear) for precise directions to this or any trainer NPC in the major cities.

Note that "wand proficiency" - which is very much like a ranged combat skill - is limited to pure casters (mage and warlock) and cannot be learned by other classes. It costs 10 silver to train a weapons skill (except polearms, which costs 1 gold), so plan ahead! If you're interested in several weapons, it's a good idea to keep different load outs with you and switch them out from time to time. Doing so will keep your skills sharp.

Horde Weapons Masters

City   Weapons Master Staves 1H / 2H Swords 1H / 2H Axes 1H / 2H Maces Daggers Fist Weapons Polearms Bows Crossbows Guns Thrown Weapons
Thunder Bluff
Ansekhwa (tauren, on the Hunter's Rise)
X
X
X
Undercity
Archibald (undead, in the War Quarter)
X
X
X
X
Orgrimmar
Sayoc (orc in the Valley of Honor)
X
X
X
X
X
Orgrimmar
Hanashi (troll in the Valley of Honor)
X
X
X
X
Silvermoon City
Ileda (blood elf in Farstrider's Square)
X
X
X
X
X

Alliance Weapons Masters

City Weapons Master Staff 1H / 2H Swords 1H / 2H Axes 1H / 2H Maces Daggers Fist Weapons Polearms Bows Crossbows Guns Thrown Weapons
Darnassus
Ilyenia (night elf at the Warrior's Terrace)
X
X
X
X
Ironforge
Buliwyf (dwarf at the Timberline Arms)
X
X
X
X
Ironforge
Bixi Wobblebonk (gnome at the Timberline Arms)
X
X
X
Stormwind
Woo Ping (human at Weller's Arsenal)
X
X
X
X
X
Exodar
Handiir (in the Warrior's Terrace of the Trader's Tier)
X
X
X
X

Thanks for reading! Have something you'd like to include in the Ten Ton Hammer WoW Weapons Guide? Let us know through email or by starting a thread in the TTH World of Warcraft forums!

WarlockWallpaper.jpg
Five classes that would be excellent additions to World of Warcraft.
Features
Fri, Jun 20, 2014
Mem
HotSAlphaLoad.jpg
Five things players should expect during the Alpha test of Warlords of Draenor.
Features
Fri, Jun 13, 2014
Mem
GG_25_02

I really don't understand racism in the real world. People are what people are, regardless of skin pigmentation or where their ancestors came from. There's really only one real-world race - the Human Race - and I loathe everyone equally.

Opinions
Mon, Jun 09, 2014
gunky
GarrisonTownHall.jpg
A basic guide to Garrisons in Warlords of Draenor.
Basics, Features, Guides
Fri, Jun 06, 2014
Mem

News from around the 'Net