The Rating System. Or, Why Good Gear Turns Bad

You’re all decked out in your iLvL 264 (or higher) ICC gear.  You’re a WoW superstar.   You hit monsters so hard that heroic instance bosses have stopped fighting you.  They just hand you Emblems of Frost when you enter the instance.  Your heals are so big that you can resurrect inactive accounts.

You might think that your uber-gear can carry you easily to level 85 in Cataclysm.  After all, its just 5 measly levels, right?

So lets say that you’ve got your nice ICC gear and you’re sitting at 315 hit rating, putting you exactly at the poison cap.  You check your tooltip, and you see that you have +9.6% melee hit (currently, 32.77 hit rating = 1% melee hit).  Cataclysm comes out, and you venture forth into the new content.  You’re proud of your ICC purples, so you refuse to take any gear from quest rewards, even when they might be upgrades.

In short order, you level to 81.  A quick check of your tooltip gives you a surprise.  Your 315 hit rating now only gives you 7.8% chance for melee hit!

Suspecting a bug, you continue to blaze through new zones.  You’re all jazzed when you ding 82.  Your buzz is killed, though, when you check the tooltip and see that your 315 hit rating now only gets you +5.9% melee hit!



Scaling is a big reason that the Rating system was implemented.  If you had a piece of gear that said, “increases hit by 1%,” then that would be 1% no matter what level you are or what level your target is.  That wouldn’t scale well with higher content, so Blizzard doesn’t do that.

Instead, you get hit rating, crit rating, etc..  With those, they can make your character scale by changing the conversion from rating to % as your level increases.

You’ll see similar changes in your crit chance.  Even though your gear is not changing, your percentages are decreasing.  That’s because the conversion from rating to % changes with each level, and it changes a lot.


Whitetooth at Elitist Jerks has been datamining the rating conversions for the current beta build.  Nothing is set in stone yet, of course, but what he has so far is:

  • at level 81, 40.3836 hit rating = 1% melee hit
  • at level 82, 53.0304 hit rating = 1% melee hit
  • at level 83, 69.6653 hit rating = 1% melee hit
  • at level 84, 91.4738 hit rating = 1% melee hit
  • at level 85, 120.109 hit rating = 1% melee hit

Lets say that you want to get to +8% melee hit.  As a level 80 rogue in Wrath, assuming that you had full points in Precision (+5% hit) you would only need an additional +3% hit from hit rating to reach that goal.  To get that 3% hit you need 99 hit rating.

Now at level 85 in Cataclysm you want to do the same thing.  Precision (first tier Combat talent, so everyone will take it) is now +6% hit instead of 5%.  Therefore, to get to 8% melee hit you only need +2% from your hit rating.  To get that you need 2 x 120.109 = 241 hit rating.  That’s a significant change.

You’ll see that as you level in Cataclysm, your existing gear becomes less powerful because the rating conversion changes.  Of course, we expect that the new gear we get in Cataclysm will be itemized with appropriate levels of hit and crit rating.  It mostly means that any “caps” you have come to learn will need to be refigured.


3 Responses to “The Rating System. Or, Why Good Gear Turns Bad”

  1. September 27, 2010 at 11:08 am

    I take it you also saw the news about caps rising in each successive tier of raiding?

    • September 27, 2010 at 8:05 pm

      Yes, I saw that. Interesting decision on their part, but I’m not sold on it.

      It almost sounds like each tier of gear doesn’t make you any more powerful, it just keeps you at the status quo with respect to the bosses.

      If that’s the case, then I’m unhappy. I don’t want to be on a gear treadmill, working just to keep up rather than improve.

  2. September 28, 2010 at 4:28 am

    I never take the time to stop and comment on peoples sites but I had to stop and drop a comment to tell you that I love your site. I find it very unique and entertaining. Keep up the good work. Great post too by the way!

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