Updated Tue, Feb 15, 2011 by Xerin
There are a lot of statistics to track in World of Warcraft and a lot of them can be somewhat confusing. There is a group of statistics that we call “Combat Ratings” which grants your character powerful offensive or defensive boons in the form of increased damage or the ability to mitigate incoming damage. These combat ratings are expressed in a simple number form that can translate into an easy to understand percentage (such as 1% to avoid an attack or 1% chance to do double damage).
Originally, in vanilla WoW, all “Combat Ratings” were shown in simple percentages. However, it would be fairly unbalanced if, when the level cap increased, the percentages on current gear did not. Thus the Combat Rating System was born and it has undergone two revamps. The latest one was with the release of World of Warcraft: Cataclysm when the entire system was changed to make it simpler and easier to understand.
Combat Ratings begin to appear on gear around level 10, although at lower levels just one or two points of a single rating can give you a huge boost. At higher levels they become more and more important until you reach the level cap in which case you will need to worry about making sure you have the right stats for your class. Be sure to check out our Class Guides to help you decide which stats are important for your class.
Looking for a way to view your character's stats offline or delve deeper into its gear or statistics? Be sure to check out PlayerScore which will allow you not only to view your character's gear, stats, and more offline but show your rankings to other players across the world.
On most uncommon or higher level gear (green, blue, purple, and orange) you will see something similar to “Equip: Increases your critical strike rating by 4.” At level 40 this would translate into roughly a .4% chance to gain a critical strike (which does double damage). Yet, at level 80, this would translate into something obscenely low, like .0004% chance. As you gain more levels, the amount of a combat rating you need to gain a positive effect increases.
There are currently nine different combat ratings you can find on gear. Below is a simplified list of them and what they do:
As you can see, different ratings do different things, but all of them are beneficial. Some classes and specializations gain benefit from some ratings while others do not. For instance, no caster will gain any benefit from Dodge, Parry, Block, or Expertise Rating which is why none of these stats are on cloth gear.
Some stats, such as Block Rating, require a shield in order be useful.
Most Combat Ratings are affected by diminishing returns. Meaning the more rating you have in one statistic the less effective the next point of rating is. This is figured out through extremely complicated formulas that are beyond the scope of this article. So for all intents and purposes, we’ll avoid talking about diminishing returns, which are usually only a problem for characters with extremely powerful gear.
Let’s delve deep into what each of these ratings mean on the next page.