At the end of Wrath of the Lich King, Blizzard decided to massively simplify the stats for all characters. They removed the lethally complex Armor Penetration and Spell Penetration stats, seriously limited the use of Attack Power, and generally tuned everything up to a fine sheen. And then they added Mastery, possibly the most confusing stat ever in the game. So, in WoW, what IS Mastery? And is it any good for you?
In brief – Mastery is a “bonus stat”, which grants completely different bonuses to each and every talent spec in the game. Some of these bonuses are so good that they make it the strongest stat in the game for that class. Others are so rubbish as to barely be worth using.
For Unholy Death Knights, Mastery grants Deathblade, for which each point of Mastery increases Shadow damage by an additional 2.5%. A significant chunk of an Unholy Death Knight’s DPS comes from Shadow, but not all of it, making it about in the middle of the stat weightings – it’s nowhere near as good as Haste, but it’s better than Expertise.
Meanwhile, Blood Death Knights get Blood Shield from their Mastery. This means that as a Blood DK, Each time you heal yourself with Death Strike while in Blood Presence, you gain 0% of the amount healed as a damage absorption shield. Each point of Mastery increases the shield by an additional 6.25%. This is an astonishingly good ability to have, making DK tanks over twice as tough as other tanks in some situations (like Shannox in the Firelands), and meaning that Mastery is pretty much Blood’s best stat.
Finally, Subtlety Rogues gain the Mastery Executioner. This increases the damage done by your finishing moves, and the effectiveness of your Slice and Dice, by 2.5% per point of Mastery. Now, that might sound awesome, but actually, for complex theorycrafting reasons, it’s just awful, the worst stat for Subtlety short of nearly-maximum Hit.
Oh, and just to make things complicated enough, Mastery Rating is not the same thing as Mastery. Mastery Rating, which is what you’ll see on armour and weapons, translates to Mastery in a heinously complex way, just like Hit Rating does to Hit, depending on level. At Level 85, 179 Mastery Rating will equal 1 Mastery.
So how do I figure out if Mastery is good for my spec?
The short answer is – you don’t.
At least, you don’t using just in-game tools. Trying to figure out if Mastery is a good stat for you based just on in-game information is basically impossible. The level of maths and patience it requires to do this sort of theorycrafting is out of reach for most players.
The best way to determine if Mastery is a stat you want is to consult a piece of software that simulates your character and suggests stat weightings for you. Of these, there are three excellent options:
- Rawr is a complex, detailed stand-alone program for determining the best stats for your character. It’s not very easy to use but is what the top raiding guilds would recommend.
- Ask Mr Robot is a Web-based program for suggesting gear improvements. It’s good, simpler to use than Rawr (and doesn’t require you to install software) but is less complete.
- Reforgenator is a simple in-game addon that will give you good reforging advice. It’s not very accurate, but it’s far from awful. Pawn is an alternative, more accurate, but requiring more work to upkeep.
Failing that, your best option is to consult a guide. Sites like Elitist Jerks offer hugely detailed advice on stats for every class – however, they’re not exactly user-friendly. Alternatively, here at the MMO Melting Pot, we have quick-start guides for all classes for the latest patch, currently Patch 4.2 – these should give you enough information to make decisions, without overloading you with walls of text!
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