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Totem Talk: Hit rating, expertise, and enhancement in Mists of Pandaria

Josh Myers

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Totem Talk for elemental, enhancement, and restoration shaman. Once a lonely tauren shaman in a bad Scarlet Crusade-themed transmog set, Josh Myers is now a female dwarf shaman with pigtails who raids as all three specs on a regular basis. He kept the same transmog set, though.

A long time ago, in a Mulgore far, far away, I was a young tauren shaman who was attempting to gear up as enhancement after hitting level 70 for the first time. Enhancement shaman who have only started playing within the last two years won't remember the confusing beast that was enhancement gearing of yesteryear, but it was an adventure.

First off, we gemmed strength exclusively. Yes, strength. Despite sharing gear with hunters, we got more (read: any) attack power from strength than we did from agility. More importantly, and this is where Mists of Pandaria changes will come into play, the enhancement shaman of The Burning Crusade didn't try for hit rating on their gear. In fact, we avoided it like a bear tank gemming agility avoids sunders on Warmaster Blackhorn. We did like expertise, which made the few items it existed on like Shard of Contempt best in slot, but it was almost never included on items, and there were no expertise gems. As a result, the majority of enhancement shaman ran with nearly zero hit rating and zero expertise.

If you're reading this today, your jaw might have hit the floor. Never, you'll say, while pulling up your character sheet and crying over the whopping 2,284 secondary stat points we need to put into hit rating and expertise. Yes, you read that correctly. We spend 2,284 stat points simply making sure we can actually hit the boss.

The Burning Crusade: Not known for class balance

Now, while I may sound bitter, I'm really not. As attractive as not gearing for hit/expertise sounds, it wasn't necessarily a good thing in The Burning Crusade. The reason we didn't want hit rating was because we got 6% melee hit from enh talents and 3% spell and melee hit (these were once separate stats, /shudder) from subspeccing restoration. As you probably know, 9% melee hit is enough to cap special attacks, and auto-attacks have never been consequential enough to hit cap for enhancement.

A shaman wearing tier 5
This left us with an incredibly high 3% spell hit, with only 14% to go. Since spell hit rating at that time was its own separate stat and didn't appear on either agility or strength gear, the only way for us to get it was to gem for it. However, that wasn't useful either; the only spells in our rotation in those dark days were Flame Shock, Earth Shock, and Searing Totem. Technically, we also had Flametongue Weapon, but we used Windfury on both weapons in The Burning Crusade. Shocking every 6 seconds and dropping Searing once a minute wasn't enough spell damage to make capping spell hit at all worthwhile, so we ignored it.

Wrath of the Hit Capping

Wrath of the Lich King gave some much-needed changes to enhancement but also set us on the path to the obscene amount of hit we need to gear for now. It introduced us to using Flametongue Weapon, gave us Static Shock, and saw the introduction of Maelstrom Weapon. Being able to hit with spells suddenly became very important to us.

In the same expansion, expertise became more of a thing we could gear for. While we shared gear with hunters, for whom expertise mail is the only thing in the game that doesn't make them go "Hunter loot!" and spam-click need, we received enough expertise on gear each tier to cap. This is also where we got the expertise buff on Unleashed Rage, making it easier to gear for.

Death Knight vs. Shaman on the cliffs of Howling Fjord
So our dependency on hit and expertise are actually very good things, if only because they were born from necessary changes that allowed our class to progress. While I feel that it's gone on entirely too long, I'm not actually mad at the 2,284 secondary stats we're currently spending to hit and expertise cap, because I understand the progression enhancement has made to get there.

Why Mists of Pandaria has my eyes misting

That said, I am beyond ecstatic to hear that it's changing. In a recent blog post, our crustacean overlord Ghostcrawler (Greg Street, lead systems designer) shared some thoughts about stats in MoP, and the parts about hit and expertise have me particularly excited.

First off, hit rating, which currently gives spell hit and melee hit, will simply give hit in MoP. This isn't a particularly large change, but it will allow the 20 spirit we currently get from our chest enchants to give us melee hit, which is cool. Going along with this, this means that spell hit and melee hit will require the same amount of rating to equal 1% of hit. This means that when we reach 7.5% melee hit, we will also have 7.5% spell hit; currently, the ratings are skewed and don't match up as nicely.

More importantly, though, expertise rating is being changed to effect dodge and spell hit rating. Following in hit's footsteps, it will do this at the same pace as hit rating. So, if in MoP, 200 hit rating is 1% melee hit and 1% spell hit, 200 expertise would be 1% dodge and 1% spell hit.

Finally, hit is being normalized so that spell hit is equal to melee hit + dodge. To unpack this, this means a few things. First, we'll be spell hit capped simply by capping our melee hit and dodge; ensuring our Stormstrikes and Lava Lashes hit will also make sure our Lightning Bolts and Flame Shocks don't miss. Moreover, the entire hit system is being revamped so that every class in the game needs the exact same amount of rating to make sure they hit the boss. Spell characters will need to have hit rating equal to what melee characters are doing through hit and expertise, and melee characters with spells won't need any more rating than a normal melee. All in all, this is some pretty awesome news to come out of MoP.

A melee pandaren preparing to punish the next person who makes a Kung Fu Panda joke.
That said, I have a few questions that I hope to answer when MoP beta becomes available. First off, as far as I can tell, enhancement doesn't get the expertise bonus from Unleashed Rage anymore, and I haven't seen any hit or expertise buffs in the MoP talent calculator for other specs. It could be that our expertise buff is forever lost, but that's to be expected if Blizzard truly wants to normalize the rating requirement. As we get closer to launch, I'm sure we'll see this verified.

Also, I'm really interested to see how MoP stat ratings are going to treat the dual wielding hit penalty. With expertise giving spell hit, we'll have no reason to push our hit rating past the special hit cap, which historically been about one third of the dual wield hit cap. I'm honestly hoping to see some changes to the dual wield system in the coming weeks, possibly removing the dual wield hit cap entirely. It's a radical idea but one I'd love to see implemented.

Show your totemic mastery by reading Totem Talk: Enhancement every week. We've got enhancement-specific advice on 4 ways to increase your DPS, the ups and downs of enhancement in Dragon Soul, and gearing up for Raid Finder raids.

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