Friday, November 12, 2010

DPS Meta Gem Requirements for Retribution.

UPDATE: Blizzard have announced an intention to revert the colour requirements of 3% Crit Damage Meta Gems back to 3.3 specs - 2 Blue one Red for Chaotics and one of each colour for Relentless. The changes should come into effect in an upcoming patch, making the rest of this article moot unless the revert is reversed.

Level 85 Meta Gems have been implemented on the Beta Servers, or perhaps that should be partially implemented. You can find the full list of Meta Gems discovered so far on Wowhead Beta Site here, but lets have a quick look at those useful to Melee Specs. Note that rare gems in the Beta (the highest Tier available so far) have a budget of +40 stats i.e. +40 Strength/Hit Rating/Expertise Rating etc.

PvE Melee/Caster DPS

Chaotic Shadowspirit Diamond
+54 Critical Strike Rating and 3% Increased Critical Damage
Requires more Blue gems than Red gems

PvE Tanking

Austere Shadowspirit Diamond
+81 Stamina and 2% Increased Armor Value from Items
Requires at least 2 Yellow gems

Eternal Shadowspirit Diamond
+81 Stamina and +5% Shield Block Value
Requires at least 3 Blue gems

PvP Melee/Caster

Destructive Shadowspirit Diamond
+54 Critical Strike Rating and 1% Spell Reflect
Requires at least 2 Red gems

Enigmatic Shadowspirit Diamond
+54 Critical Strike Rating and Reduces Snare/Root Duration by 10%
Requires at least 1 Blue gems
Requires at least 1 Yellow gems

Fleet Shadowspirit Diamond
+54 Mastery Rating and Minor Run Speed Increase
Requires at least 2 Yellow gems

Impassive Shadowspirit Diamond
+54 Critical Strike Rating and Fear Duration Reduced by 10%
Requires at least 1 Blue gems
Requires at least 1 Yellow gems

Powerful Shadowspirit Diamond
+81 Stamina and Stun Duration Reduced by 10%
Requires at least 2 Blue gems

Obviously the majority of these are variations on a theme intended for PvP, no biggie. But look at the change to the Chaotic gem requirements - "More Blue than Red Gems". With the changes in 4.0 melee DPS can finally get some use out of Blue Gems via the Hit Rating, but in the case of Retribution Red +Strength Gems are still point for point on the order of 33% better when below the Hit Cap. We can't even revert back to a level 80 RED, both it and Chaotic Skyflare are being retroactively changed to have the same Blue>Red requirements.

For Retribution, and many other specs if what I'm hearing bears out, whether or not to satisfy Meta Gems requirements is going to be a thorny issue. Tier 11 gearing levels will include 8 sockets at minimum and 12 or more in optimal configurations, so that's between 7 and 11 Purple gems and 1 Blue gem. In Ret's case, when below the Hit Cap you're trading up-to 260 Strength (all-Red) for 260 Hit Rating (Blue>Red), obviously a reduction in overall DPS. To be an attractive proposition this has to be less than the value of +3% Critical Strike Damage.

So, is it better to socket all Red rather than aim for the Meta Requirements? Well, it's a tough call. Current World of Logs parses indicate the +3% Critical Strike damage bonus is a not inconsiderable ~1% of total DPS, but the relative value of 260 Strength over 260 Hit is in that ball-park too. There's not an awful lot in it, but the equation gets much worse for Chaotic Shadowspirit as you gain more sockets, discover gems with higher stat bonuses, reforge Crit into other stats, or surpass the Hit Cap. For what it's worth, quick calculations of my own lead me to believe that running with the Chaotic Meta is fractionally better than not.

If 3% Crit Damage is worth it Gemming and Reforging priorities won't be affected, though the numbers game would become more interesting. Gems choices will tend to be Purple Etched Demonseye (as they are more convenient for item socket bonuses) plus one Rigid Ocean Sapphire or Green Gem with +Hit/+Other Rating when near the Cap.

Reaching the opposite conclusion - that 3% Crit Damage just isn't worth it - will mean you have to reforge much more aggressively to reach all the relevant Caps. The priority of Hit then Expertise will remain in place but you may find yourself reforging away stats that in an ideal world you'd like to keep. It goes without saying that the Meta Gem of choice when gemming straight red would be the Destructive Shadowspirit Diamond.

But that's not all, for that would be too easy, there are still Socket Bonuses to cogitate over. Cataclysm Socket bonuses are much, much more significant than they are in Wrath itemisation, to the extent that it's not uncommon to see +20 and even +30 bonuses in key slots. Any bonuses valued at 10 Strength or greater per off-colour choice will be valuable, and they occur with considerable frequency at Tier 11. Yellow gem slots are ideally filled by Inscribed Ember Topaz until +Strength/+Haste Orange gems are included, but don't forget to balance with an additional blue if you're aiming for the more stringent Meta bonus.


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