A Quick and Dirty Guide to Rawr

6 10 2009

For the uninitiated, Rawr is a program that players can use to evaluate different pieces of gear. Rawr does fuzzy math things which I am not qualified to talk about and gives a value for every item available to you, with the highest value being the best item. What is optimal may change, however, based on your current gear. For example, if you have capped expertise as a DPS, items with expertise on them will not be valued highly. You can set filters to ignore, say, Trial of the Grand Crusader-25. Finally, Rawr gives an estimate of your DPS on a 10-minute (that’s the default time) patchwerk-esque encounter where you set what buffs you have and what rotation you use.

Rawr can be a little bit intimidating when you first download it, and this guide will help you get started and hopefully make you fall in love with Rawr.

Step 1: Download Rawr and load up your character (File -> Load from Armory)

Make sure your character has the correct gear (i.e. DPS gear if you are a DPS character) when you log off so that you don’t have to go in and change each piece of gear manually. Before you go off and look at upgrades or die of shock at the fact that Rawr is telling you that your DPS is only 2400 there are a few important steps to take.

Step 2: Check off buffs that your raid group regularly has (under the buffs tab)

Since Rawr evaluates gear based on your current stats (including buffs you have), it’s important to select buffs that accurately portray a regular raid night for your guild. If you only raid 10s, for example, don’t go checking off every available buff or you won’t get accurate information.

Step 3: Make sure your rotation, talent spec and glyphs are correct

The rotation is found under Options, just hit the Rotation Details button. Pick whatever is appropriate to your spec and modify as needed. The default rotations are taken from EJ discussion, so if you follow that you’re probably familiar with them already. Review talents and glyphs to make sure everything is up to date (sometimes Armory can be slow and/or stupid). Also make sure to set up any enchants that disappeared in the move from Armory to Rawr.

Now for the good stuff

Those are the basic steps you need to take to start using Rawr. Now you can use it to test out what items are upgrades and which are not. A few things to note before you start that, though:

  • Just because an item does not have Strength doesn’t mean it’s not an upgrade (for me, Collar of Ceaseless Torment is pre-25 hardmode BiS)
  • Remember that while an item might be BiS with one set of gear it won’t necessarily be BiS all the time (item values are dynamic and change based on your current gear)
  • Leather is an option too
  • You still have to use your judgment; for example, exclusively following WoW will not always keep you at the Hit or Expertise cap, so if you prefer to keep them capped you have to consider that on your own

The easiest piece of gear to look at for a Death Knight is the sigil. Since it doesn’t provide any complex stats (i.e. Hit, ArPen, Expertise) it’s not going to change very much based on your gear and stats.

On the right part of Rawr, select the dropdown menu next to “Slot: Gear” and choose Ranged

Now you’ll get a numerical value (DPS) for each sigil. The one with the highest value is worth the most DPS. So go out, find that sigil, and now you’ve got a piece of BiS. Other slots, especially head, shoulders, chest, legs and gloves, are more complicated (these are the slots tier pieces go in). The most important thing when using Rawr is to keep an open mind while still thinking critically. Don’t let Rawr make all your decisions for you. That said, it’s a great tool for evaluating pieces of gear and comparing items. This is especially true when comparing Agility items to Strength ones, since it’s usually not obvious (you typically lose a few AP) that one or the other is better.


Some News, Some Thoughts

30 06 2009

Option to change factions in the works (source)

Some may herald this as the downfall of WoW (as with so many other things, like the mount changes) but to me it’s another way for a) Blizzard to make money, since the transfer will probably cost 25$ and b) to make the playing experience more customisable and fun. It also basically doubles any given guild’s recruiting pool. Not only can you recruit horde from your own server, but it gives you far more transfer options. Maybe you’ll be able to combine server/faction switches, for ease of guild swaps. Wild speculation aside, this change falls in line with other things we never thought we’d see like PvE to PvP transfers and dual specs. I look forward to more changes along these lines.

New Wintergrasp gear, the emblem change and the “ease of getting gear” dilemma

MMO-Champion recently reported new items being added to Wintergrasp (see the new items here), stuff that is either ilvl 232 or 226. While I’m not surprised at this (it happened with 3.1 as well) there has been a significant lack of whining on my radar about this addition compared to the conquest emblems dropping everywhere. First, the two changes are connected. If you have a choice between running Wintergrasp, BGs and fail-arenas for points and getting ilvl 213-226 gear and running heroics to get ilvl 200 gear, well, which one would you choose to gear up to raid the fastest? My guess is PvP.

The change that makes all heroics and entry-level raids drop Emblems of Conquest is intended (I believe) to make sure people still run that content. It’s never Blizzard’s intention to have old content completely abandoned, especially for fresh 80s, so a change was necessary to incentivize people into doing that content.

The change to the emblem system also has the effect of making t8.5 and ilvl 226 gear available from running heroics. Some are bothered by this, feeling like it’s a kind of undeserved handout. Personally, I have everything I want from Emblems of Conquest on my main (and have for a while, so much so that I bought Emblems of Heroism with them) so this change affects my DK very little if at all. I believe the situation to be similar for all other guilds who are progressing well into Ulduar. In the next patch, when this change occurs, these raiders will be doing the Crusaders’ Coliseum rather than raiding Ulduar anyways, and Emblems of Triumph will be the ones we want, not Conquest. So basically my alts get gear faster and easier, which is a plus in my books.

Raid lockout extension

Cool. Probably not necessary in the next patch (the new raid instance has what, 5 bosses?) but again it’s nice to have control over stuff like this, especially for guilds like mine who only raid 9 hours of 25-man a week.

Common token for all tier pieces

Sweet. AWESOME. I love this change. If you haven’t looked at the stats for the DK t9, I’ll tell you that the one piece with ArPen on it is the legs. All the other pieces are decently optimized, with one piece that has haste (unfortunately) and the rest a mix of crit, expertise and hit. Streamlining the way loot works in this manner also plays into Blizzard’s idea that picking your upgrades should be a thinking process, which means they don’t want us assuming that every single new item that drops is an upgrade. While this change is great, it’s a bit lackluster compared to the state of loot overall.

Things like relics and mail with spellpower are very class-specific. If you either are that class, or your raid has none of that class, it can be quite frustrating. I think it would be best to put niche-items like tanking guns into professions like Engineering and Blacksmithing or into the emblem loot system.  This (or a similar change) would mean less wasted loot overall as well as fewer rotting badges.

1 RP = 10 Mana!

31 05 2009

Yes, it’s true! Apparently, through the fluke of a Death Knight on EJ somehow getting Power Infusioned and realizing that his Frost Strikes only cost 22 RP while under the buff, this discovery was made. Tests were done with various random items, such as Robes of Insight, of which the on-use ability grants 500 mana off the next spell cast in 10 seconds. It also makes Frost Strikes free. Burst of Knowledge, a trinket with a proc that reduces mana cost of spells cast by 100 mana, reduced the cost of Frost Strikes to 22 RP each.

The strange conclusion of this information was the realisation that Spark of Hope, if it worked in the same way as other mana-reduction items and took 4.2 RP off the cost of FS, would be the second-best Frost DPS trinket currently available, behind only the Greatness deck. While this is most likely a bug of some kind, it’s pretty amusing nonetheless. If you can somehow get your hands on a Spark of Hope, let me/EJ know what you find out.

Mana is the new RP.

Mana is the new RP.

edit: Here’s the EJ post

edit #2: Reports coming in from EJ that Blizzard has gotten their act together and fixed the bug.

The Non-Upgrade

30 05 2009

Blizzard’s new design philosophies, from raids to PvP to itemization, are very frustrating. Here’s a recent blue post from the notorious Ghostcrawler:

When bosses reward too well then groups finish the content too quickly and then ask why we haven’t released anything new yet.

If an item drops that improves some of your stats but lowers others, that is far more interesting from a game-design point of view than if you *always* knew you were going to get an upgrade. One thing I always stress is that games should be about interesting decisions. Deciding if you can afford the loss of hit to get more stren[g]th*, or trying to decide if the parry rating is worth losing a little stamina are interesting decisions. There are not always clear cut answers. It lets players demonstrate mastery of the game when they can make the right choice for their character. A best in slot item is not worth it if you have to sacrifice too much of another stat to use it. An item with tons of defense can be the best thing for you if you are wearing blues to hit the cap, or the worst thing for you if you are already comfortably above the cap.


First up, I don’t think gear is the deciding factor in clearing content quickly. Yes, it helps to have all the newest gear, but in reality I think the learning curve of various fights will have more to do with when a boss gets downed. Blizzard has also consistently been pushing back enrage timers, almost to the point of making them irrelevant on normal mode. Let’s take the XT-002 encounter as an example.

I'm back!

I'm back!

When my guild first encountered this mysteriously childish robot, we hit the enrage timer multiple times. The next week when we went back, and the encounter had been nerfed and the enrage timer lengthened, it became significantly easier. There were no significant gear upgrades in the intervening period – we simply came back the next raid day and beat him. People in the raid learned what to do and we came up with a strategy that functioned well enough to allow us to win.

And now to talk of the non-upgrade and the side-grade

The first week my guild was in Ulduar, we were sharding loot. We still shard a lot, and when you consider that much of the raid still has pieces from Naxx (myself included), it is disheartening to see loot drop the first month in a new instance and have to disenchant it. Is this going to continue in 3.2 and onwards? I certainly hope not. GC states that this forces us to make choices, which is more interesting than simply taking whatever drops. The way loot works, however, means that we rarely get to make these choices. Say that Rune Edge drops for my guild (I’m still wearing the Betrayer of Humanity). When I look at the stats, and see lots of armor penetration and agility, I become sad. I cannot take this weapon and trade it in for one that has strength and crit.

My choice ends up being between “take this mediocre upgrade that’s badly itemized for almost every class that wants it” and “get nothing.” You can hold out for certain items, but they could be months from dropping (grrrrr, Sigil of the Vengeful Heart!), which means that the obvious choice is to take the mediocre upgrade that has actually dropped.  If weapon drops were replaced with tokens, allowing you to choose between, say, Rune Edge and Worldcarver then I’d have to make an informed decision based on what stats I have and what stats I want most. That would be interesting.


GC says a best-in-slot item “is not worth it if you have to sacrifice too much of another stat to use it.” Best-in-slot is not one item, but a set of items which make up a best-in-slot gear set that will likely accomplish the main goals of gearing as a DPS DK:

  • The hit cap
  • Close to or at the expertise soft cap
  • Maximizing strength while avoiding armor penetration and other weak stats as much as possible

So if you acquire one part of the best-in-slot set, you won’t necessarily want to wear it until you have the other pieces. The interesting decisions are great in theorycrafting, and it’s important to know what items you really want should they drop, but the choices are often made by RNG. If Worldcarver never drops for you, but you see Rune Edge every week, guess which one you’re going to take?

These choices are also made less interesting by the prevalence of stats that are completely unattractive. While hit, crit and strength are all excellent to have, for a Frost DK like myself, especially one using a rotation with less than 30% of damage affected by armor penetration, any item with this unpleasant stat will likely be avoided unless my current piece is similarly terrible. For example, I upgraded from Ring of Invincibility to Strength of the Automaton because the former was itemized for classes that like agility and the latter for plate classes (well, mainly Warriors and Blood DKs, since they’re the only ones who really like armor pen). It isn’t interesting to choose between two badly itemized drops or one badly itemized drop and one well itemized drop. I want to choose between similarly well itemized pieces of gear that have different stats on them, like Death’s Bite and Inevitable Defeat.