Poor item design

Poor item design. Poor stat distribution on purpose or accidental? It's hard to say, but I'm sure many people have wondered why some items just suck so badly that nobody in the raid wants the item when it drops. Or some items with a vastly superior item level are such minor upgrades compared to other items.

Am i going too fast? I suppose i am, let's start from the beginning. World of Warcraft uses a specific formula to determine the height and quality of each item. These are the major factors :
* Height of stats : An item with 40 agility will have less of a budget for other stats than an item with 20 agi and 20 strength.
* Item Quality : Uncommon, Rare, Epic, etc
* Itemlevel : Internal value, you can show this value by getting RatingBuster.

* Slot modifier : Chest items will have higher values than rings of bracers.
* Stat modifier : Attack power is worth half as much as Str or Agi.

These modifiers are explained in great detail at the Formulas:Item Values page at wowwiki. Also, there are certain tools that you can use to manually experiment with slots and ilvl.

It all boils down to the simple fact that most epic items will be better than rare items, and epics from endgame raiding (ilvl 141+) will be better than epics found inside heroics (ilvl 110). In some rare cases however some items won't be clear upgrades.


Items are designed by people, but are made to fit within a certain budget which is determined by the ilvl and other factors I just mentioned.

Basically you start with a naked item with no stats. Each stat point costs a certain value. You can add 1 Agi, and it'll cost you 1 point of this value. (it's actually more complex than that, just look at this page) Next you can add 1 Str, also for 1 point. If you however wished to add a second point of Agi, it'll cost 1.05 points to add to it.

So higher stats will cost increasingly more on your budget. The result to this is that you could waste your entire item budget with two very high stats, or spread the budget into three or more stat types and come up with a lower individual value, but a much higher "total" value. Which is what most DPS classes will be aiming for.

Some examples

The left item is generally inferior to the item on the right. With the exception of the Thalassian wildercloak all the items on the right are lower or equal in ilvl.

* Farstrider Wildercloak vs Drape of the Dark Reavers
* Saberclaw Talisman vs Worgen Claw Necklace
* Rapscallion Boots vs Edgewalker Longboots
* Deadly Cuffs vs Insidious Bands
* Don Alejandro's Money Belt vs Belt of One-Hundred Deaths
* Drape of the Dark Reavers vs Thalassian Wildercloak
* Talon of Azshara vs Blade of Infamy

Not all are perfect example, mainly the ones from Karazhan are quite distinguishable from each other. Look at the first example Farstrider Wildercloak(ilvl 128) vs Drape of the Dark Reavers(ilvl 115) a difference of 13 ilvls. Meaning the wildercloak "could" have a far superior number of stats on it.

But, Blizzard decided to waste all it's stats on only two things, stamina and attack power. Compared to the Drape which uses four different stats, the conclusion is quite simple. Even with 13 ilvls lower, the Drape is a vastly superior item. This seems strange, as the drape is from Aran, and the Wildercloak drops from a later boss in Karazhan (Prince). If you are not a rogue the Royal Cloak of Arathi Kings is also better.

Why would blizzard do this? You'd think higher level bosses would drop better items. And though they do, due to poor itemization the resulting item is actually worse.


Weapons are another category upon themselves. With the availability of arena gear this category is even more stressed than the others. Obviously the Talon of Azshara will be "slightly" better than the S2 sword, however the S3 sword is slightly better than the Blade of Infamy from Hyjal. Which is rather weird.

This means you'd actually have to do pvp arena to get competitive weapons to use in PvE. Most won't mind, but it's still a strange design as blizzard has stated in the past that the arena items would be best for PvP, while the PvE items would be best for PvE. This means that either the items in PvE were poorly designed, or the items in PvP a lot better.

I'll opt for the second option. So let's look at the sword in question, why is it so poor?

Blade of Infamy (ilvl 141)
182 - 339 Damage, Speed 2.60 (100.2 damage per second)
+28 Agility
+56 Attack power

Talon of Azshara (ilvl 134)
182 - 339 Damage, Speed 2.70 (96.5 damage per second)
+168 Armor
+15 Agility
+20 Hit rating
+40 Attack power

The damage range of 182-339 is identical between the two, meaning each hit will do the same damage. It's got slightly more DPS as it hits faster but it has less stats which will result in weaker hits.

Improving what is broken : Stats

As you hopefully know, rogues rely on slow weapons to do bigger hits with their instant attacks. A small difference as small as 0.1 second attack speed could result in a difference of nearly 10 effective DPS. This is one reason why the Merciless S2 sword with 2.6 attack speed and 97.7 DPS is actually inferior to the Talon with 96.5 DPS. The min+max damage on the Talon is better, and it's got a few more stats. Even so, it's a pretty minor upgrade.

As you can see in the above example, the Blade of Infamy has more DPS than the Talon, but it's faster and has less total stats. The resulting effective dps makes it only a mere 5 DPS better than the Talon. While with better stat distribution, it could give as much as 10 or 20 DPS extra.

Blade of Infamy Improved (ilvl 141)
182 - 339 Damage, Speed 2.60 (100.2 damage per second)
+18 Agility
+18 hit rating
+18 crit rating
+35 Attack power

Difference from original : -10 Agi, -21 AP, +18 Hit, +18 Crit
Net gain : 15,5 stat points.

Improving what is broken : Weapon Speed

Alternatively, the sword could be made slower. This won't affect it's ilvl at all, but will increase the DPS for instant attacks by a huge amount.

Speed 2.70 : 192 - 349 Damage (100,185 DPS)
Speed 2.60 : 182 - 339 Damage (100,192 DPS)

10 min and 10 max damage per instant attack extra.

This is also why many rogues shed loads of drool over the Warglaives, with 2.8 sec attack speed, 109.3 DPS and a load of stats they're the clearly superior weapon choice for any raiding rogue.

So why?

Why would Blizzard intentionally make some items worse than others? It doesn't really make sense. Not to me anyway. Of course they could be just creating diversity in items to give people a choice on items, but when one item is just clearly superior to another item, do we really have a choice?


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