Players attributes (statistics) were not always what they are today. At release, you had basic and secondary attributes¹.
Basic attributes: Strength, Agility, Stamina, Intelligence and Spirit
Secondary attributes: Health, Mana, Energy, Rage, Attack (Attack Rating), Power (Attack Power), Damage, Defense, Armor and Resistances.
That was it! Since the introduction of the game we have seen the addition of spell-power, armor penetration, resilience (then the removal, then the addition), expertise, and mp5. Tier 1 gear didn’t require a calculator to figure out your percentage of critical strike rating–the gear had critical strike rating as a percentage!
Then came patch 2.0.1, the release of The Burning Crusade. The Combat Rating system changed the way we looked at attributes forever. While the basic attributes remained the same, the secondary attributes section of our character pane exploded with new information. At the beginning of TBC we had:
Armor penetration rating, block rating, critical strike rating, defense rating, dodge rating, expertise rating, haste rating, hit rating, parry rating, resilience rating, spell haste rating, spell hit rating, spell critical strike rating and weapon skill rating.
Eyonix posted prior to the release giving us a breakdown of the conversions at level 60. Confusion reigned as people struggled with the idea that Attribute 1 with 14 points = 1%, while Attribute 2 only required 2.5 points to get a 1% bonus. The concern of the devs in turning to this flat stacking system was that eventually, people would be able to gear for a 100% bonus since it really doesn’t feel like an upgrade if you don’t see ALL of your stats increase marginally.
However, the attribute explosion has never really been explained to any relevant degree. Attributes that used to be primarily gained through other attributes (avoidance stats like parry/dodge/block were primarily gained through Defense with a few points gained at the end of Vanilla WoW on actual gear) were now pulled out and must be accounted for separately. The spread-sheet era began.
In TBC on my tankadin, I had a pad with every piece of gear and its avoidance stats by my desk at all times during raids. When gear was dropped, I needed to be able to quickly convert the stats on that piece, compare to my current piece (including any gems or enchants) and make a prompt decision as to whether I could wear it immediately or not. Often, with some gear wrangling in other departments or a trip to my bank, it was possible. However, knowing what I had on was never sufficient to make a determination, and many times, it would be an upgrade if I could get piece x, y, or z.
How did I know what I needed? When the magical number of 102.4% was the clarion call of protection paladins the world over, did I sent in front of my screen pulling together piece after piece of gear until I finally hit on the magic number? Did I pull out my college calculus text and figure out the nifty formula scribbled on notecards, napkins and listed in spreadsheets on many a desk? Hell no! I went to Maintankadin and threw my trust behind a random person who told me: these are the magic numbers. With these, you shall be a tank of epic proportions… without them, you shall fail and your children’s children shall shun the name Lyre. Thank God for math people!
Life got a little easier for me with the coming of Wrath of the Lich King. I only had one number that required an eagle eye, my defense, and some middling attention to expertise, hit rating, and oh, yes, my overall avoidance. However, I wouldn’t be thrown under the bus if it didn’t hit a magical number, just mauled a bit… much better. My other characters have a general “Let’s see how it goes” attitude, randomly trying on pieces that LOOK like an upgrade and hoping for the best. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but I still check out plenty of reputable sites when on alts to make sure I’m hitting all the proper soft or hard caps as necessary: expertise, hit rating, armor penetration, and haste.
Now, there is an upcoming change on the horizon. A new expansion is coming and the attributes will be morphing once again with the addition…I mean, removal! of many secondary attributes now seen today. For the most part secondary attributes will be folded into the basic attributes, reducing the total number significantly.
Strength: Now includes includes agility for plate wearers.
Agility: Now includes attack power for agility and leather and mail wearers. No more of that TBC/WotLK non-sense of Warriors wearing leather (and the occasional Paladin too I’m sure).
Stamina: Increased across the board.
Intelligence: Providing all your mana pool AND spellpower needs.
Spirit: Replacing mp5. All applicable classes will gain a meditation like ability. Bye bye 5-second rule!
Defense: Totally removed. Provided by talents.
Armor Penetration: Totally removed. Provided by Mastery (really super special talents)
Haste: Looks like it’ll still be ticking!
Block: Say goodbye to block value. All blocks will now prevent a percentage of damage. Who ever wanted two stats in one anyway?
Stamina, Mana, Energy, Rage, Runic Power: Staying around for the long haul baby (all original stats except for R. Power)
To date, I haven’t seen any information about hit, expertise or dodge, so until I hear differently, I’m assuming they’re still included as is.
Wandering around various forums and blogs I am shocked, amazed even, at the amount of crying occurring over the “destruction” of the game. Apparently, their are a lot more whiz kids than bely my observation judging by the number of people crying over the lack of “simple math.” Oh, really?
When you start up a discussion with someone over talents, how often do you hear, “I armoried the top player and did that,” or “EJ said this spec is great,” while watching them carrying the wrong weapons, itemized improperly, or downright just clueless as to why they would want those talents. And don’t even get me started on stats. I know one person… ONE who actually tests out his specs, rotations, and spell usage every time he gets a new weapon (yes, he’s a rogue). If you use a spreadsheet that you didn’t create yourself to determine the values of gears, spells, or talents for your character… guess what? You’re just plugging in some data and waiting for the answer to get handed to you. While I admire your ability to read and download questionable data from total strangers, I can’t really say that you’re the whiz kid figuring out your item management.
“But all the information is available on the internet, people are just too lazy!” You know, you’re right, the information is available, dutifully copied and pasted from the small percentage of players who have the time and inclination to do the number crunching by the people are extremely interested in being at the top of their game. However, I don’t begrudge people wanting to spend their free time in WoW instead of running hither and yon from Source A to Source B trying to find all the pertinent information on their class and spec. I know I resent it! I’ve parked a character in town for days or weeks because I just knew I needed to run the numbers and check whether those couple of new pieces I got were an upgrade right now or if I had throw them into the bank to wait for other pieces for them to constitute a real upgrade.
I relish being able to pick up a piece of gear, eye-ball the stats and go “yep, it’s an upgrade” and toss out those undesirable pieces of gear I am now forced to keep just in case. I surely don’t begrudge players with less time on their hands, or an ignorance of outside sources of information the ability to do the same. Honestly, there are still new players. There are still players like my father in law who dutifully follows all the quests, talents to the best of his ability, and wouldn’t know the name of a WoW news site to save his kitten from an untimely death. He’s not a bad player, he understands basic stats, hell, he beta-tested countless table-top games back in the day.
Honestly, if you want attributes to remain the same, with multiple stats requiring different totals equaling 1%, then do a better job of explaining how stats work, and which ones benefit your character. I’d love to see my trainer have a little bubble under “Dual-specialization?” that says “Defense?” or “Armor Penetration?” or the countless other stats available in game. WoW doesn’t hit you with them early in the game–they are gradually introduced on gear as you go along, and if they’d introduce the ramifications and usages of what they do and how much is good I’d be all for the current system remaining just the same. I can count the number of times on one hand that I’ve missed a “must-have” talent when doing it myself, yet, without third party information sources, I would never have discovered the defense minimums, armor penetration, hit rating, or expertise soft and hard caps. There is simply not information available in-game, and I simply don’t have enough patience, even with all the numbers available to discover that X rating = I can hit, I can’t hit, I won’t be crushed, and I won’t fail at my video game.
Guess what? Bad players aren’t magically going to becomes gods of video gaming, and good players won’t suddenly suck if stats look more like they did when the game released. There will always be a gap in player achievement and adaptability, no matter the stats, no matter the gear, because some players just play games better than others. However, everyone will get more time to do what we all enjoy–play the game.