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Revisiting the Stave vs. Off-hand Problem

February 9, 2011

(For an updated version of this discussion, current to patch 4.2, please see this article.)

A while back, I wrote a post explaining why using a one-hand weapon plus an off-hand frill was always better for a resto druid than a stave.  Within 48 hours Blizzard had updated their patch notes for 4.0.6, rendering all my precious math obsolete.  Curse you, Ghostcrawler! (I kid, I kid … oh god, please don’t nerf me!!)

At the time, the reason that the off-hand combination was always superior was because of the +100 Intellect off-hand enchant introduced at the beginning of Cataclysm.  Now that has been reduced to a +40 Intellect bonus, in order to make our weapon options a little more equal.  Has Blizzard succeeded?  To find out, let’s take a look at that Intellect to Spellpower ratio again:

1 point of Intellect = 1.17 points of Spellpower
(This includes bonuses from Mark of the Wild, Heart of the Wild, and our armor specialization.)

The answer is pretty simple to work out, because the amount of Intellect and spellpower on a weapon is consistent according to iLevel and weapon type.  So by using the Intellect:Spellpower ratio and then adding in the additional spellpower from the weapon itself, we can figure out exactly how much spellpower is on every weapon combination:

Rank Weapon Type and iLevel Spellpower from Int Spellpower Total
1 359 1H&OH 440 1954 2394
2 359 1H/346 OH 414 1954 2368
3 359 2H 367 1955 2322
4 346 1H/OH 395 1729 2124
5 346 2H 353 1732 2085

Based on spellpower values alone, our answer remains clear: a one-hand weapon is still better for us than a stave.  What’s amazing to me, though, is that even a 359 weapon with a lesser (i.e. 346) off-hand also beats the 359 stave.  This is especially good news because there really aren’t an overabundance of 359 healing off-hands available; we can choose from the Scepter of Ice that drops from Ascendant Council, or cross our fingers that a Heartbound Tome can be found for a reasonable price on our realm’s AH.

Yes, there will be a difference in the secondary stats on these weapons, and that may be the deciding difference for you if you’re desperately in need of the additional Spirit provided by a stave like Chelley’s Staff of Dark Mending.  Remember, though, that while Spirit does contribute to our mp5 it does not increase our maximum mana or our throughput.  Intellect remains our strongest stat.

And now that I’ve wasted more time and lines of HTML tables on this subject, hopefully Blizzard won’t introduce yet another hotfix to change it – or if it’s absolutely necessary, can you guys at least wait a week or two this go-around?


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