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The Mathematical Tale of Miss Liyly and the Hit Cap, or How to not Miss

June 20, 2011

Too much Gear, too many VP!

(note: the information contained in this post is current as of patch 4.2)

Two circumstances have expedited this post.  See if you can figure them out from the screenshot above!

Did you get it?  Yup!

  • My bags are full of gear
  • I have 3710 Valor Points, 3540 Justice Points, and patch 4.2 is only weeks away

I’ve had very few forays into the new Cataclysm raids since reaching the level cap.  Early on I tried to build a raid set where I was hit-capped against raid bosses but was unsuccessful – I couldn’t come close with the amount of hit that was on the gear I had, and wasn’t raiding consistently enough to justify spending all the time and gold to try to get there.  Furthermore, I wasn’t exactly convinced that capping hit would result in a dps increase.1  Well, there are more gear options now and there is no real reason for that wonderful Pyroblast! proc to miss Magmaw anymore!

No Excuses!

Let’s go over a few basics about this stat quick: spell hit rating is a statistic which lowers your chance to miss when casting a spell.  If you check out your character information sheet you’ll see the amount that you currently have under the ‘Spell’ category.  In addition, when you hover over the amount, you can see a broken-down chart that shows your chance to miss against different level targets.  I’ll talk more about that in a bit.  To put it simply, because spell hit rating and chance to miss are in an inverse linear relationship, it’s possible to bring your chance to miss to zero with sufficient hit rating.

Now remember when we saw how our miss chance varied according to different levels of targets in the character sheet?  That’s one of the logical beauties of this stat – you can adjust your chance to miss to be as low as you need depending on your needs.  When you PvP at max level, you will never be attacking any target that is higher than level 85.  A level 85 attacking another level 85 will miss with spells 4% of the time.  You can bring this 4% chance to miss to 0 with 410 hit rating.  In heroic level 85 dungeons the bosses are never higher than level 87.  The 6% of your casts that would miss them can be eliminated with 615 hit rating.  Raid bosses (skull-level) are considered three levels above yours.  The large sum of 1742 hit rating will bring your miss chance to 0 against them.

There’s one final thing you need to know about hit before we move on.  Once you’ve reached your desired cap, any excess hit is wasted – you can’t miss less than 0% of the time and not go crazy pondering what that might mean.  If you want more information regarding the mechanics of spell hit, please visit Wowpedia’s Spell Hit article.  There is also this very useful online hit calculator. Just make sure you use the spell hit data since physical hit is calculated differently!

Let me summarize these different amounts (for level 85 characters):2

Miss Chance Hit Required
Raiding 17% 1742
Heroics 6% 615
PvP 4% 410

Back to my story…

My goal was to be hit capped for raiding, so I had to come up with 1742 points of hit rating somehow.  Luckily, as you saw in my screenshot above, I had quite a few options.  To accomplish this I made a spreadsheet listing all the gear options I currently owned for each slot, to which I added any other gear above iLvl 346 that had +hit on it that I’d reasonably be able to acquire.  I then set up some drop-down menus for each slot that called the corresponding amount of hit when chosen using the VLOOKUP excel function.  This made it really easy to play around with options and find a good solution that used my best gear while reaching (but not exceeding) the hit cap.

I expected that reaching the cap of 1742 rating (17%) would be challenging – requiring gemming, enchanting, and reforging to squeeze out every little bit of hit I could get.  Much to my surprise, it wasn’t difficult at all.  Granted, I already had some great gear options at my disposal (like the purchasable parts of T11 and the wonderful TB hit trinket), but I easily had hit to spare.

So how do I do it?

Although we’ve never needed a hit rating as high as the current raiding cap of 1742, we’ve never had more options available to make this possible.  Here are our sources of hit:

Let me discuss these sources in more detail.  I’ll hold off on gear until the end, but one caveat – the easiest (and best) way to reach this cap is through gear and it should be your primary source.  You’ll hamper your other stats much less if you choose hit pieces of gear first and then use the other sources to fill in the gaps than if you start by sticking +40 hit Rigid Ocean Sapphires in all your slots.  (Please don’t do this… please, I beg you!)

Gems & Socket Bonuses

After gear, gemming is a great way to get some additional hit.  (Don’t expect to get more than about 100-150 hit from this if you gem efficiently, though.)  As a general rule, I would only consider putting in a Rigid Ocean Sapphire (+40 hit) or a Veiled Demonseye (+20 hit and +20 int) into a blue slot that has a +hit or +int socket bonus.  Otherwise, a straight-up Brilliant Inferno Ruby (+40 int) is better.

Enchants

There are two cataclysm enchants that provide +hit:

The bracer enchant may be cheaper to make (the other requires an Elixir of Impossible Accuracy, which can be hard to find and/or costly).  Furthermore, both slots have other enchants that will do more to increase your dps, so don’t choose the hit enchants without needing them.

Reforging

Remember that you can reforge a portion of any secondary stat on an item to another that is not already present on the item.  This means that any item that doesn’t have hit on it could potentially have some if you’re willing to sacrifice some crit, haste, or mastery.  Only 40% of the original stat can be reforged, however.  There are multiple calculators and optimizers out there that can help you figure out how to cap hit through reforging.  I recommend Wow Reforge, but Reforge Master is another alternative.

While a little addition is required to add up your resultant hit, the trickier problem with reforging is deciding which stat to do away with, and by how much.  Different specs value crit, haste, and mastery differently.  For instance, as a fire mage, crit means more to me than mastery or haste, so I’d choose to reforge one of those stats to hit before I’d ever reforge crit to hit.3  I haven’t done the research to say how these secondary stats rank for arcane and frost, but I know that others have.  Check out the EJ links I posted above for starters, or be a scientist and do some testing on your own!

Consumables

Another temporary way to be hit-capped is through the use of food buffs and elixirs.  There are two Cataclysm foods that provide hit, Grilled Dragon and Seasoned Crab, giving 90 and 60 hit rating (respectively) for an hour.4  Both are easily cooked and can also probably be purchased off the AH.  On my realm, at least, I can regularly sell these foods.

When it comes to consumables that provide hit, however, the Elixir of Impossible Accuracy is hard to beat.  This will give you an additional 225 hit rating for an hour, which translates into over 2% at level 85.  The cost of using this elixir, however, is that you then cannot use the 300 additional intellect (and spellpower) which comes from the Flask of the Draconic Mind.

Using Grilled Dragon and an Elixir of Impossible Accuracy in combination will provide a temporary sum of 315 hit rating (a bit over 3% at level 85).  This is certainly a viable option, but whether or not to use consumables to reach the cap seems to be a bit of an equal trade-off.  For one, you become dependent upon a supply of the food or elixir.  Furthermore, it requires remembering to refresh the buff every hour.  But if you don’t regularly raid, then this option could be preferable as you won’t have the unnecessary hit on your gear when you run heroics.

Gear

Since patch 4.1 was released we now have access to much better gear that has hit rating on it.  I’m not going to list every piece of gear out there that has hit simply because that will make an already-long post that much longer.  I will highlight some pieces that you surely won’t want to miss, though, and if you want more comprehensive data, I’d be happy to share my spreadsheet or answer any questions.  For the list below I limit my options to heroic-level gear (iLvl 346 or higher) and also omit any items that you’d have to raid to have access to (typically iLvl 359 or higher).

Head: Collar of Bones

  • 198 hit (iLvl 353)
  • Drops from Daakara, the final boss in Zul’Aman
  • Hands-down the best pre-raiding helm option for mages.  If you are unlucky with drops or have a hard time finding groups that can make it through ZA, you can also get 162 hit from the Cowl of Pleasant Gloom (costs 2200 JP) or the Helm of the Typhonic Beast (from heroic Halls of Origination).

Neck: String of Beaded Bubbles

  • 112 hit (iLvl 346)
  • Purchasable with 1250 JP
  • This is the only pre-raiding neck item with hit.  Fortunately it’s easy to come by, but if you’re not hurting for hit this is one item I’d replace early on.

Shoulders: Jan’alai’s Spaulders

  • 147 hit (iLvl 353)
  • Drops from Jan’alai, the Dragonhawk boss in Zul’Aman
  • Another great reason to run ZA!  Another good option is the Mantle of the Eastern Lords with 130 hit (from heroic Shadowfang Keep)

Cloak: Hakkari Loa Drape

  • 127 hit (iLvl 353)
  • Drops from Bloodlord Mandokir in Zul’Gurub
  • Need I emphasize how helpful ZA and ZG have been in assisting us mages get hit-capped?  The only other cloak with hit on it is the Shadow of Perfect Bliss, which comes from heroic Vortex Pinnacle and has 85 hit.

Chest:

  • There are two iLvl 346 pieces that have hit – Inquisition Robes with 202 hit (from heroic Blackrock Caverns) and the Robes of Orsis (192 hit, purchasable from the Ramkahen after reaching revered status).  But because I expect you’ll be running ZA and ZG often enough and racking up some Valor Points, you will probably be better served by purchasing the T11 piece (2200 VP).

Wrist:

  • No great options here.  You can get 112 hit from the Sand Silk Wristband (from heroic Lost City of the Tol’vir), or if you happen to have friends in high places or are very rich you can get 127 hit from the Bracers of the Dark Pool (raid BoE drop).

Hands:

  • Your only option is the Mnemiopsis Gloves.  They have 150 hit and drop from heroic Throne of the Tides.  But like with what I said regarding chest options above, I would consider purchasing the T11 gloves (1650 VP) instead to get the set bonus, assuming you can find other ways to cap your hit.

Waist: Dreamless Belt

  • 149 hit (iLvl 359)
  • Crafted with Tailoring
  • There’s not much reason to not have this belt.  On my realm prices of the cloth crafted items have steadily decreased, and you can pick this belt up for around 2000g easily.  Further more, stick a Rigid Ocean Sapphire (+40 hit) or a Veiled Demonseye (+20 hit and +20 int) into the gem slot and get the +10 hit socket bonus for an additional 50/30 hit.  But if you can’t get your hands on this, there is the Stratosphere Belt  with 111 hit that drops in heroic Vortex Pinnacle.

Legs: Firelord’s Leggings

  • 188 hit (iLvl 359)
  • Drops off Argaloth in Baradin Hold or purchasable with 2200 Valor Points
  • This piece has strong competition in the Serpentine Leggings.  They actually have more hit, 211, and drop from High Priest Venoxis in Zul’Gurub.  And, if you’re able to cap hit with other gear items, the crafted Breeches of Mended Nightmares are also worth considering.

Feet: Desert Walker Sandals

  • 169 hit (iLvl 359)
  • Rep reward from the Ramkahen (exalted)
  • If for some reason you’re not exalted with Ramkahen yet and have lots of gold or VP lying around there are also the Melodious Slippers (149 hit), a BoE item purchasable with 1650 VP.  A third option drops in heroic Stonecore: the Slippers of the Twilight Prophet with 130 hit.  But get exalted with Ramkahen – even if it’s just because they have the prettiest tabard!

Rings:

Trinkets:

  • Stump of Time.  321 hit.  Get it.  Do TB dailies.  This the most hit you can get on an item in the game currently, and it helps immensely in reaching the raiding hit cap.  It costs 125 Tol Barad Commendations and is purchasable from the quartermasters for your faction on the peninsula.  Assuming you win a TB battle and do all the dailies on the island and peninsula, that’s 15 commendations a day, which means you can get this in a little over a week.
  • The only other trinket that provides hit is Anhuur’s Hymnal with 285 hit.  It drops in heroic Halls of Origination.

Wand: Zulian Voodoo Stick

  • 66 hit (iLvl 353)
  • Drops from any of the 4 different summoned archaeology bosses in Zul’Gurub.
  • You can also get 56 hit from Corla’s Baton (from heroic Blackrock Caverns).  There’s also Theresa’s Booklight with 72 hit.  It’s another raiding BoE that you might find on the AH for exorbitant prices.

Main hand:

  • The Cerith Spire Staff is the only staff with hit.  It has 202 hit rating and drops in heroic Throne of the Tides.
  • Neither the ZG staff or the ZA dagger have any hit, but they are good options to consider if you can cap hit elsewhere.
  • Other daggers with hit include the Elementium Spellblade (86 hit, crafted by blacksmiths) and Modgud’s Blade (78 hit, from heroic Grim Batol).
  • Last but not least is the Vitreous Beak of Julak-Doom.  With 86 hit, this is a raid-level item (iLvl 359) which drops from the world boss Julak-Doom which roams in the Twilight Highlands.  It’s BoE, so you might find it on the AH also.

Off-hand:

Now, go get capped,  hit capped!

And so it finally happened that through her effort, research, and perseverance, Miss Liyly finally succeeded in not missing.  Yessir, if you had a sudden hankering for toasted Hairy Armadillo, all it would take is a single flick of her lithe wrist to scorch one for you.  Oh, and if Sinestra desired some flame orbs?  Well, Liyly was right there, serving up orb after orb, minute after minute, without fail.  She was the happiest little mage, and her reputation for accuracy grew, throughout her server and amongst her swarms of non-combat pets.

I hope you have found this guide helpful.  If you have found inaccuracies or have further questions or comments please let me know and I’ll be happy to oblige.

-Liyly

Footnotes

1 When I first started to raid only a month or two into the expansion the jury was still out as to whether it was worth capping hit or not.  Due to the high opportunity cost with other stats, it wasn’t as obvious whether being hit-capped resulted in a dps gain.  I haven’t done any math or theorycrafting into the matter, but it seems logical that if you only miss 1% of the time but have much higher chance to crit or a significant increase in spellpower that this is a plausible trade-off.  For purposes of today’s post I’m going to assume that like in previous states of WoW, being hit-capped is the single-most important way to increase one’s dps.  If you need more convincing of this, I refer the interested reader to WoW Insider’s resident mage Christian Bale’s recent post on the matter or the mage forums at Elitist Jerks.

2 The exact numerical relationship between hit rating and miss chance varies with level. If you’re not level 85, you will need less rating then the numbers discussed here to cap against your peers in PvP and raid bosses. Want to cap your level 10 alt against your friend’s level 13?  Merely come up with 4 points of hit rating and you won’t miss!  I suspect there’s a way to even hit cap a level 1 against a level 85, theoretically, at least.  I can’t find any data for the miss chance when the level difference is greater than 5 levels, however.

3 Deciding each spec’s best secondary stats is even further complicated by the fact that you want to stay at least as high as the first haste plateau for specs like fire that rely on DoTs – if you have at least 12.5% haste, you’ll get an extra tick on every one!

4 Of course, there are also other pre-Cata options that provide less hit if you happen to be less than 60 hit rating below the cap.  These might actually prove to be scarcer and more expensive now a days though.

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