Stats 201: Getting your secondary stats just right

Though we did an article covering the game's basic stats that will guide you through leveling any character, once you hit level 90 you need to start considering your secondary stats. These stats, like hit and expertise, become more important when you stop leveling through content and gear to stop at top-tier content. Unfortunately, figuring out what these stats are, what they do, and what you need isn't exactly self-explanatory -- sometimes even requiring you to consult an addon or website to figure out whether a new piece of gear is really an upgrade.

Fortunately, Blizzard is working on simplifying the system with Warlords of Draenor, removing a some secondary stats and the ability to reforge gear -- which will make it a lot easier to tell what gear is an upgrade and start using it immediately. Unfortunately, if you're a new 90 or you've just boosted a new character to 90, you still have to deal with the current system, so we'll lay out just what the secondary stats on your gear mean -- and how to tweak them to your liking with reforging so you're ready to hop into LFR or whatever else you want to do.

The secondary stats you need to know

Though you'll see more numbers and stats than this on your character sheet ("C") -- and they'll be split up into melee, ranged, spell, and defense to make things more confusing -- these are the stats you'll be seeing on gear, so they're what we're going to be talking about.

  • Haste: Increases the speed of your abilities, whether those attacks are melee, ranged, or spells. Haste will also increase the rate at which you regenerate energy, runic power, rune, and focus regeneration -- but not mana regeneration, which is governed by spirit. Though you can gear up with as much haste as you like, there are specific numbers certain classes and specializations aim for.

  • Hit chance: Like the name implies, this is your chance to actually hit a monster with your attacks. Those doing physical damage want +7.5% hit chance (that's 2550 hit rating) at level 90 so attacks won't miss against raid-level bosses. Those doing magic damage want +15% hit chance (that's 5100 hit rating) at level 90 so attacks won't miss against a raid-level boss. If you're raiding, it's important to get up to those numbers to ensure your attacks are always hitting -- but once you hit them, you'll do better to look for other stats to improve your abilities. Reforging can be very handy for getting these numbers just right. (More on that later.)

  • Expertise: While hit increases the chance your attacks will hit, expertise reduces the chance that your target will dodge or parry. And just like hit, you want to get enough expertise to where your attacks won't be dodged or parried -- but no more. Those doing physical damage want +7.5% expertise chance (that's 2550 rating). Casters luck out here -- since spells can't be dodged or parried, they don't need to worry about expertise at all.

  • Crit chance: All damage-dealers will want this stat, which increases the chance of scoring a critical strike which causes abilities to hit for double damage. Unlike hit or expertise, you can't have too much crit: it will always improve your overall damage. Healers may also be interested in crit, as it will make heals hit harder, too -- but crit is unpredictable, so boosting your crit chance won't necessarily help you heal when you need it.

  • Mastery: Mastery gives a specific bonus depending on your class specialization. For some specs, you'll want to pile on the mastery, while others may find it less useful. To see what your mastery bonus is, mouseover mastery on your character screen ("C").

  • Dodge: A key stat for tanks, dodge is your chance to completely dodge melee attacks. How much dodge you want -- and whether dodge is particularly important to you -- will depend on your class.

  • Parry: Another tanking stat, this lets you parry incoming attacks so they deal no damage. Like dodge, how much parry you want will depend on your class.

  • PvP power: This PvP-only stat increases the damage dealt and healing done in. If you participate in PvP, you'll want PvP power.

  • PvP resilience: The other PvP-specific stat, resilience reduces damage taken in PvP. Again, PvPers will want resilience.

As we've mentioned, the value of some of these stats vary a lot depending on your class and specialization. For more details on just how these stats work for your character, we recommend Icy Veins class guides (select your spec and then click to navigate to the "Statistics Priority and Reforging" section) and Wowhead's class guides, both of which will give you details on the exact stats you'll want to play your best.

Reforge, gem, and enchant to get your gear just right

Now that you know which stats you want, it's time to talk about reforging. Reforging lets you tweak your gear to have the exact stats you want by changing one stat to another. This can be very handy when you're trying to hit precise numbers for hit and expertise, because it lets you adjust your gear to be just what you need. But it can also be a tedious exercise that you need to do whenever you get a new set of gear. To make reforging easier, we definitely recommend using addons which will figure out the best way to reforge to get the most out of your gear -- and make this a lot less of a chore.

Also helpful for boosting your stats are gems and enchants -- whenever you pick up a piece of gear you intend to keep for a while, you should check out the available gems and enchants to make good gear even better. Though this won't help boost your item level or get you into higher level raids, it will boost your ability to tank, DPS, or heal, which will make approaching higher level content easier.

Changes to stats are on the way

If you've read -- or skimmed -- through all of this and think it sounds really complicated, that's because it is. Even Blizzard agrees, and at BlizzCon they unveiled big plans to simplify gearing in Warlords of Draenor.

Here's the big news: hit, expertise, dodge, parry, and reforging are all going to be things of the past, so there are fewer stats to fiddle with. You'll also find the number of items you can enchant and gem reduced, which means you'll be spending less time optimizing your gear and more time playing the game -- something we definitely like the sound of.

But until Warlords arrives, you'll want to keep up with reforging -- and everything else. Good luck out there!

Just because you're a newbie doesn't mean you can't bring your A-game to World of Warcraft! Visit the WoW Rookie Guide for links to everything you need to get started as a new player, from the seven things every newbie ought to know to how to get started as a healer or as a tank.