Affliction Secondary Stats, SimCraft and Limitations

More than anything else, threads and posts on the Warlock forum on MMO-Champion are created about the value of secondary stats for Affliction and by people looking for suggestions on how to reforge or how to interpret the results given by SimulationCraft. People are perpetually puzzled by what all those numbers mean and consider them as the first source of issues when they are looking to improve their play.

This post is about how all of it is mostly meaningless.

I’ll use an example to illustrate all of this:

Look at that sexy beast in a clown suit.

Look at that sexy beast in a clown suit.

That’s me, and I’ll be walking through my results with SimCraft as well as my thought process when deciding what to do with them.


At the time of this writing, I’ve reforged my character into 6638 Haste, out of everything Crit, and gemmed in somewhat of a haphazard way. I’ll explain these later, but here’s what one of my SimCraft graphs looks like:

Scale Factor plot – Rvst on 12/15/2012 – SimC 510-5 – the INT value is 3.90

What does it all mean?

The plot above is usually what people end up with when they use SimCraft for the first time.   They see that, or the line that says “Ranking: Int > SP > Haste > Mastery > Hit > Crit” and they say to themselves: “that is how I’m going to reforge. Crit is crap, Hit is crap, Mastery is less crap, Haste is the best. Bam.”

Of course, that is absolutely the worst way you could use that information.

What the scale factors are is a guide for gemming, and gemming itself isn’t particularly important (something to cover on a later date, maybe). But when you look at any scale factors, these are the questions that you should look to get answered:

  • Is my primary stat (Int), worth more than double my secondary stats (Haste or Mastery)? No, so I should gem for secondary stats, and that means Greens (blue slots), Yellows (yellow slots) and Oranges (red slots), as opposed to Purples, Oranges and Reds.
  • Is there any stat that is just horrible in relation to the others? Yes – in this case, it’s Crit. The gap between it and the other stats means that it’s okay to reforge everything out of Crit into the other secondary stats.

And that’s it. Why is that it? The takeaway, and I’m going to bold it and underline it is: The difference between Haste and Mastery is very small. Haste is slightly better than Mastery here, that’s true. But secondary stats interact with each other multiplicatively, so it’s not a good idea to reforge everything into Haste.

Secondary Stats Explained

What does it mean when I say that “stats interact multiplicatively”? Essentially, how much each stat is worth isn’t set in stone, but what it’s worth is dependent on your other stats. So while my scale factors above say that “Spellpower > Crit”, what I’m saying is that I only know that’s true for my current numbers. We can see this with an example character:

10000 Spellpower
0 Crit Rating
5% Base Crit

So if that character casts a spell that scales 1:1 with spell power, he’ll do 10k damage. He also has base crit of 5%, so on average he will do 10.5k damage. If you add 1% Crit (600 rating), then he will do 10.6k damage, for a 100 damage increase. If you add 600 spellpower he’ll do 10600 * 1.05, 11.13k damage, or 630 more damage. SP is worth 6.3x Crit at those numbers. Pretty straightforward.

But what if our character looks like this?

10000000 Spellpower (10m SP)
0 Crit Rating
5% Base Crit

So now he does 10m damage with his spell. With crit factored in, he does 10.5m damage. With 1% Crit, 600 rating, he does 10.6m damage, for an increase of 100k damage. If he got 600 more spellpower instead, he’d do 10500630 damage – or 630 more damage. So for our new character, Crit rating is worth 158.7 times that of spellpower.

So there’s an important lesson here – stats are dependent on other stats. We can see from the above that there’s some point where Spellpower is worth just as much as Crit. And all the stats work just as they do above – you can stack Haste all you want, but at some point your DoTs are ticking so quickly that it’s probably better to make each of those ticks do more damage.

So what do I do instead?

Given that you can’t just reforge based on the scale factors, what should you do? The suggestion that everyone else gives is to reforge based on the reforge plot generated by SimulationCraft. Here’s what mine looked like:

Rvst – Reforge Plot – 12/15/2012 – generated by SimC 510-5

This is a fine suggestion. It generally gives you a good idea of how to reforge, and if you’re truly into min/maxing, then go ahead and follow this. What you should not do, however, is agonize about hitting any of the reforge points or Haste thresholds.

Look closely at the numbers on the side – those are DPS numbers. Every result from 2000 Haste to Mastery to 5000 Mastery to Haste falls within a narrow band of DPS – around 600 DPS from peak to trough. 600 DPS on a sim of 98k DPS – or .6%.

That’s the other takeaway: If  you are struggling with DPS, please don’t look at your secondary stats. You could reforge any way you want to and it would have a performance impact of less than 1%.

Instead, you should wait a few days, and then I’ll write a guide that probably rehashes everything that other Warlock guides have, and then you should read that for some tips.


2 thoughts on “Affliction Secondary Stats, SimCraft and Limitations

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