Friday, June 20, 2008

Weapon Speeds

One of the weird things about WoW melee combat is that you almost always want a slow weapon. There's only a few situations where a faster weapon is better. This is because a lot of abilities depend on "weapon damage" and slower weapons have a higher damage range than faster weapons with the same DPS. So given two weapons, you almost always want the slower weapon.

This seems odd to me. It seems like there should be some advantage to using a faster weapon, some trade-off that would make faster weapons better in some situations. You'd think that effects that have a chance of occurring on a hit--also called procs--would be lend themselves to fast weapons, but because Blizzard uses a Proc-Per-Minute system for most of these effects, there's no advantage to a fast weapon.

(A quick explanation of Proc-Per-Minute (PPM): The probability of proc happening is independent of the weapon speed. For example, Seal of Command will proc an average of 7 times a minute, regardless of how fast or slow your weapon is.)

The few times a fast weapon is desired usually occurs when one of these two trends is broken. For example, combat rogues desire fast off-hands because none of their regular abilities rely on off-hand weapon damage, and because Combat Potency returns energy on every swing (a non-PPM system).

I think it would be better if fast weapons had some innate advantage, to balance the extra damage that slow weapons give to your abilities. Right now, I think weapon speed makes a bit too much of a difference in the quality of weapons, and that makes several drops less desireable than they should be.

Note: Slam Warriors and Hunters don't adhere to the slow weapon rule. Because of the way their abilities interact with the weapon swing/shot timer, there's usually a specific "best" speed for them. The weapons still suffer from the same problem, in that a weapon can be much better or worse than others of the same DPS, just because it happens to have a specific speed.


  1. I think "weapon speed" is a gross oversimplification.

    In reality speed rarely matters (other than for the few odd effects like Combat Potency and Seal of Command), it is damage ranges that people look for.

    If I have two 100 DPS weapons, one a 3.0 speed and one a 3.8 speed I'm going to use the slower one. Why? For the weapon to have 100 DPS that means the 3.0 speed weapon will do 300 damage each swing while the 3.8 does 380 damage. Since the 3.8 speed has a higher damage range specials will be hitting for harder while the base DPS is still the same between the two (meaning white DPS is equal).

    Now if my 3.0 speed weapon was 130 DPS it would be hitting for an average of 390, meaning it is now better than the slow weapon.

    So it really is less of "speed" that matters and more of simple damage ranges. It just so happens that slower weapons at equal DPS will always have higher damage ranges, meaning slower weapons will almost always be better.

  2. I was under the impression that Seal/Judgement of Light & Wisdom didn't use PPM and thus faster weapons were beneficial. Do you happen to know if they do or don't?

  3. Dazanna, while you are correct, I was assuming that the weapons I am comparing had the same DPS. Either way, I think you should have a reason to use a weapon with a smaller damage range, but hits more often.

    Indy, *Seal* of Light/Wisdom is on a PPM system (I think it's about 20 PPM). So speed doesn't matter for Seals. However, *Judgement* of Light/Wisdom is a flat percentage. So if you are concerned about getting mana/health back from a Judgement on the mob, a fast weapon is better.

  4. Dazanna

    It's been too long since I did the math so I can't remember, but does Swing Speed have an impact on the DPS afforded by the PPM mechanics of SoC due to AP contribution? I.e. given equal average damage the weapon with slower swing speed will have a higher SoC (proc only) DPS than the faster weapon?

    If there is a difference, is it significant and can it off-set associated white DPS loss?

    (All this makes me thankful for the Normalisation change in 1.8)

  5. Swing speed affects non-normalized attacks when determining their AP contributions, which Seal of Command falls into the category of.

    Seal of Command is odd because in addition to being a NNA it is also a PPM, meaning you will always have the same procs regardless of weapon speed (unlike, for example, Seal of Blood, which is a NNA but is not a PPM so you gain more procs per minute for using a faster weapon, balancing out the loss of AP contributions and making weapon speed less important). This means SoC gains more from a slower weapon in all regards; higher base damage ranges, higher AP contributions, and equal proc rates, which translates into a lot more damage.

    I actually wrote a big post on Retpally about this if you want the real nitty-gritty stuff.

  6. Bah, the link didn't copy correctly.

    Click here

  7. As a rogue, in PvP, faster weapons create more spell pushback. However I find that most casters have their anti-pushback talent maxed, which means no more pushback. I am wondering why they give us something with the right hand only to be removed by the left.

  8. Ele shammies will use flametongue with a fast weapon for maximum fire damage as the weapon buff gets a good boost from spell damage and applied evenly every swing. (Ignoring the fact that an ele shammy doesn't want to be in melee...) Doesn't seal of righteousness work in the same way? Would a paladin ever use this with judgement of the crusader and a fast weapon?

  9. Mark, Seal of Righteousness scales with Weapon Speed. The coefficent is something like 10% per 1.0s of weapon speed.