This a basic guide to optimizing gear and generating gear lists, upgrade paths and evaluating whether that new piece of equipment is an improvement over what you have currently. Due to the complexity of balancing disparate stats available on gear it is possible to construct many potential gear set from that available to you. For example, when equipping a DPS warrior Strength is the single most important DPS stat. However, in order to translate Strength into damage a warrior must successfully hit the target. Therefore, Hit rating and Expertise are valuable stats to stack to their caps. With three stats to balance selecting gear from that available from all the potential sources is complex. Fortunately, there are two tools that make the construction of gear sets and picking gear very simple.

Lootrank is a gear list database that allows custom queries to be run against it. By giving a weight to each stat relative to the others it is possible to rank the gear from most to least valuable for each slot. The difficulty is in deciding what weight to give each stat that can increase DPS. This is complicated by the ways in which stats act upon one another: as one stat increases it’s relative value and the value of others changes. So we need a tool to calculate how we should value each stat with our current gear. Then we can generate a list of the potential upgrades.

First things first, generating a set of stat weights is thankfully trivialized by the development of the Simulationcraft tool. Download and install it. Next take yourself to Chardev and create an account, this will allow you to create (and edit) a profile of our character.

So fire up Simulationcraft and select the Options tab, select the sub-tab General. Change the number of iterations to 10, 000, this will allow you a far greater degree of accuracy in your simulations. Next select Stats, you can guess what to do here, select those stats you know are valuable to your character. (Really not sure? Stop by ElitistJerks and do some research on your stats and rotation.) Next select the Import tab, then select the Chardev sub-tab. This will load the Chardev webpage, Log in. On the Chardev page select character planner from the menu. On the sub menu select Import again. This page presents a simple three field dialog to import your character, with your current gear, from the official Armoury. The fields are simple: Name, Server and Region (e.g. US or EU).

Once your character has been imported from the Armoury you can of course edit it. You can change individual pieces of gear, enchants and gems. Once you’re ready to simulate combat select save (you must be logged in to Chardev to save a profile) and then select Click here to view your saved profile. Click the Import button at the bottom of the Simulationcraft window. To simulate combat iterations (10, 000 times) select the Simulate tab and click the Simulate button.

It takes some time to simulate combat (actually the Patchwerk fight) ten thousand times. Also bear in mind that only one fight in Warcraft resembles the Patchwerk fight: the Patchwerk fight in Naxxramas. In Cataclysm no fight resembles this one and that is the necessary limitation of any tool like Simulationcraft: it’s difficult, if not impossible, to simulate how people can react to situations that necessarily have a degree of randomness and movement which in most situations will directly impact DPS.

At the top of the results page you will see a DPS score, so if you simulate several gear sets you can see which would deliver the most potential DPS. Better still is set of stat weightings for your char. It’s then just a question of punching these numbers directly into Lootrank. Lootrank also has a fine set of filters. Not doing PvP? You can deselect all PvP and Arena items. Not raiding? Deselect all the Cata raid instances. If your char is only ready for Cata normals then deselect all heroic instances and you can evaluate the gear drops relative to those available to you.

I would suggest you ignore the trinket ranking though. It’s difficult to calculate the on use and on equip proc bonuses on trinkets. Simply use Simulationcraft. Import your gear; remove both trinkets; simulate; add the trinket you want to evaluate; compare the difference in DPS. That will assist you in ranking trinkets.

Guildox Lootrank and Simulationcraft combined automate and simplify the process of building a solid gear set. It won’t remove the necessity of making intelligent choices between two equally good pieces of gear with different stats or plan gemming and reforging strategies. It will, however, assist by telling you, in pure DPS terms, how two pieces of gear compare and help you decide which item to equip.