Captain Hit the golden age hero

Lately a lot of discussion has risen regarding the Hit stat; previously the subject of the dogma “hitcapped first, then the rest”, this stat seems to have fallen in disfavor a bit with Shadowpriests in general. Time to take a look at the Hit stat, its ratings, and how much we stand to gain or lose from it. Note that while mathy, this post is not “theorycraft” and only touches upon the basics. The old adage of “to know more details, you have to Sim it” still holds today.

Hit Rating

Hit rating converts into Hit Chance at the ratio of 1% per roughly 102.4 rating points. A total of 17% hit is required to never miss, which means a total of 1741 Hit Rating (Source: here). This is a considerable investment, especially since we’ve lost all of our inherent Hit bonuses from the Shadow talent tree.

Clarification, thanks to HoHo:

Spirit and Hit are completely equivalent – once you have 2/2 Twisted Faith, Spirit gives Hit. The only benefit of Spirit over Hit is its extra Mana regeneration outside of combat. Take whatever you can get with the minimum amount of fuss – if you have more Warlocks and Mages than Priests in the raid, go for Spirit; if you have more Priests, go for Hit items.

What we stand to lose

Every time a spell we cast is resisted, we are subject to the following penalties:

  • Time spent casting the spell, or the Global Cooldown for instant casts, is lost to no effect
  • Mana spent on the spell is lost to no effect
  • Re-casting the spell costs again mana and the same cast time/GCD
  • DoTs which start their first tick with a delay after the casting will take more time to start ticking

DoTs tick every X seconds, where X is determined by your Haste and the base time between ticks as dictated by the spell (the average is 3 seconds). So if a DoT ticks every 3 seconds, without any Haste, it means that the first tick occurs 3 seconds after the spell has been cast.

Example of Lost DPS on a miss

As an example, let’s take a spell that has the following parameters:

  • Duration 12 seconds
  • Ticks every 3 seconds
  • Ticks for 3000 damage, times 4 ticks, 12.000 damage total (1000 DPS)
  • No cast time, only GCD-limited (1.5 Seconds)

If you hit with this spell, the following happens:

  • 1.5 Second Global Cooldown (No other spells castable yet)
  • 4.5 Seconds: First Tick

If you miss with this spell, you have incurred the following penalties:

  • You spent 1.5 seconds in the GCD with no effect
  • You spent another 1.5 seconds in the GCD
  • 6 Seconds: First tick

This means that (discounting Haste) you stand to lose a lot on a miss – if this would happen regularly, you’d be spending a lot of extra time and mana on the same spells someone who is hitcapped would not. This leads to a simple conclusion: Not being hitcapped is worth it only if you can be reasonably sure that the lost damage is countered by the extra damage of focusing on other, non-hit stats.

In Cataclysm, with ratings going much higher and with the loss of our innate Hit talents, reaching the Hit cap is harder because we actually have to put it on our gear, where before we only needed 10% to be Hit capped. We now have to invest the full 17% in either Hit or Spirit gear.

There’s a whole discussion on Hit found in (among others) the following thread on in two places and featured in the gear listing. It seems that there are basically 2 camps – 1) Get the hit capped to be safe and lower RNG and 2) Try to find a sweet spot for you and replace the rest of the Hit with Crit gear.

Camp 1 – Hit Cap

The Pros of trying to reach the Hit Cap are that you eliminate one factor of RNG: the ability of spells to miss. This means that you are able to reliably refresh your DoTs right before they expire, ensuring maximum downtime. You won’t have to fear that a spell misses, forcing you to recast it – and if it was refreshing a DoT, having to wait another X seconds for the first tick instead of simply extending the duration.

The Cons of this method are obvious: Hit is expensive, so it leaves little room for other stats other than Haste. Most of your pieces will be Spirit/Haste with the occasional Spirit/Crit. Considering you don’t always get to pick from the items that drop, you might have to settle for Mastery on gear as well, which will reduce your DPS.

Basic concept: reliable, smaller hits without loss of fluidity in playstyle.

Camp 2 – Sweet Spot

The Pros of this approach to Hit is that you don’t have to be too strict with your gear choices. Instead of wasting a lot of budget on Hit, you will be able to acquire a fair number of Haste/Crit items to supplement your gear. You still have to juggle the numbers (hint: below 10% hit is certainly not good), but whenever you miss, you can simply recast the spell. And for every spell you miss, the spells that do connect will hit that much harder.

The Con of this approach is basically unreliability. It requires you to be able to make split-second judgments on when a spell missed (eye on the DoTtimer or a spell alert for misses) and recast it before the duration of your previous DoT expires. If you are on the move, or in a transition phase, or killing adds, this method will kill your DPS. On stationary fights with more time to focus on your rotation, it will shine.

Basic concept: If I miss some of the time, I simply make up for it with harder hits on my other spells

So what should I do?

Personally, I hate RNG and the effects it has always had on our DoTs. However, DoTs are no longer reduced in duration and the inflation of the price in Hit makes it that much harder to reach the Hit cap in a cheap way.

Most often it would simply rely on playstyle and experience. If you are very new to the Shadowpriest and are still learning the rotations, simply get (as close to) Hit Cap as possible. You want to make sure you are reliable and consistent, until the priorities and recasting times are second nature.

If you are experienced, who am I to tell you to Hit Cap? A 1-3% chance of a spell missing (which means in practice about 5-6 times in a raid time) is not all that much and you may be able to compensate for the misses if you are quick enough at detecting a miss and recasting before the DoT drops off.

Another consideration is of course your gear availability. If you are running in a raid with a lot of other cloth casters (warlocks and mages) competition on the good gear is heavy, and you simply may not be able to get the gear to get the Hit Cap.

Regardless, whether you want to get Hit-capped or not, this only applies to Hit/Spirit found on gear. For good socket bonuses (+20 Intellect or more) it’s ok to socket an Int/Spi gem. And 40 Spirit on chest is a very good enchant because it is well itemized – but the other Spirit enchants aren’t. So other than these two guidelines, it is not worth it to socket or enchant for Hit/Spirit.

This may mean that the Hit Cap is not within reach until Hard-mode epics – so be it. While I heartily recommend discussions on Spirit/Hit versus Crit on gear, seeing epic gear full of Hit gems and enchants makes me cry.


Novice Shadowpriests:

  • Spirit/Haste and Spirit/Crit on gear to reach (as close as possible) to 17% Hit
  • Int/Spirit gem in a blue socket if the socket bonus is good (+20 Int or more)
  • +40 Spirit on chest is fine, otherwise do not enchant for Hit

Experienced Shadowpriests:

  • Spirit/Haste and Crit/Haste gear, Hit% probably between 15-17%
  • Int/Spirit gem in a blue socket if the socket bonus is good (+20 Int or more)
  • No enchanting for Hit

8 Responses to “Captain Hit the golden age hero”

  1. What’s with all the talk about spirit everywhere instead of hit? As shadow spirit only gives us out of combat regen so for anything important it’s identical to hit and I’d say it’s a bit less confusing to talk about hit than spirit. Could be just me though :)

    “+40 Spirit on chest is fine, otherwise do not enchant for Hit”

    Depends what would be the alternative. 15 stats isn’t expensive and it would be 15 int (~16.5 buffed) vs 25 hit. Close, but stats would be slightly better. 20 stats would be far better than 40spi.

    Overall I agree with what you are saying. Being hitcapped means you won’t have to pay as much attention to if your spells land or not so makes it a bit easier to play.

    Before cata hit used to be far best stat while not capped, not so any more in cata. It’s just yet another stat and comparable to others in per-point DPS value. Technically you’ll get roughly equal DPS increase from 100 crit and 100 hit, just getting hit will mean you’ll miss less often and crit means you’ll do more damage as as long as spells land.

    As for picking gear, int is so much more valuable than anything else now that except for trinkets there really is no reason to ever use a lower ilvl item over a higher ilvl one, no matter what stats they have, at least assuming that you won’t go over hitcap with the higher ilvl one. After picking the highest ilvl item for that particular slot try to get stuff with haste/whatever and if you want you can reforge that whatever into hit/spirit but never reforge haste.

    • Well, I could just refer to Hit, but Spirit is slightly cheaper on the item budget last time I checked, so more bang for the buck. Also, Spirit affects mana regeneration when not casting in combat as well as outside combat, so it provides a (really) slight benefit in fights with phase transitions and in between trash pulls.

      It also serves as a reminder to raid leaders who might be reading that Shadowpriests, like Shamans and Boomkins, can use both stats well.

      As for the enchant, it depends on what you want. +15 stats is certainly not expensive, and is overall the best enchant unless you need more Hit specifically, then the +40 Spirit is more generous in budget.

      The enchants that require Maelstrom Crystals are (at least on my server) still prohibitively expensive to be used on all but the Best in Slot gear.

      • “Well, I could just refer to Hit, but Spirit is slightly cheaper on the item budget last time I checked”

        Are you sure? I’m fairly certain all secondary stats are equal in terms of item budget. If I’m wrong I’d like to read about it as it doesn’t quite make sense to make some secondary stats cheaper than others.

        “Also, Spirit affects mana regeneration when not casting in combat”

        Unless wow char tooltips are wrong spirit does not give any in-combat regen for non-healers. I tried reforging the TB hit trinket to spirit and only thing changing on my char sheet was OOC regen. In-combat remained constant. Same happened when I swaped around non-spirit and spirit gear. Though that was about 1.5 months ago, maybe things have changed now.

        • As for the item budget, you’re correct. Must’ve been from quite some time ago, when Spirit was only a useful stat to healers, and they made it cheaper because healers needed so much of it. Comparing the Belt of the Raven Queen and the Dreamless Belt, they have 169/149 Stat divisions, so equal in budget.

          I also think you’re right with regards to the in-combat regen. I assumed that in-combat was just a small percentage of the Spirit-based regen, with healers getting lots more because of their Meditation. However, if this is not the case, and the in-combat regen is a fixed value, then this point is moot.

          Then the only remaining point to go for Spirit over Hit is because of lesser competition, but that’s based on your raid composition. For a time I was the only cloth-wearing Spirit-user, so had dibs on it all. That was preferable to bidding against our 3 mages and 3 warlocks. Even now, we have only one other Priest, so it’s still easier for me to get Spirit items than Hit items.

          So in the end, I guess it comes down to Spirit = Hit, grab whatever you can get cheaply.

          Edited the post to reflect this.

  2. Great post! I’m linking to it from our guild forums. :)

  3. Great summary.

  4. Even if I don’t dps that often, I’m a big partisan of being hit capped.
    The loss in dps from missing can be way more important than just spending 1.5 seconds doing nothing valuable.

    Imagine your Mind Blast miss, and replenishment + your shadow orbs buff to your DoTs fades. That’s a 10% dps loss for you for the next 8 seconds, and a 700 mana loss for all casters in your raid (it may very well happen that you are the only replenishment source in a 10 man raid). Be that unlucky a few times in a row and your dps will sink dramatically.

    Your analysis of the pros and cons of both camps is nice though :)

  5. Spirit=Hit… unless you are human! Then we get a 3% bonus to spirit, so we get slightly more benefit per point of spirit than we do hit.

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