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WoW has many game mechanics that we experience in Dungeons and Raids that require us to stack up, spread out, run in a circle, and many others that require our direct interaction. As you play the game and experience these mechanics you can describe them well.

There are also less obvious game mechanics. They are not in tooltips and are typically not documented anywhere in-game. To learn more about them you must search for deleted Blue posts, track down information in comments, or if you are truly adventurous, query WoW spell data. Ones that you can experience frequently will be listed below.

Real Procs Per Minute (RPPM)

Real Procs Per Minute (RPPM) was added in Mists of Pandaria and took over percentage based procs. In its simplest form, if an item has 2 RPPM you could expect the effect to proc 2 times every minute.

RPPM can either be the base value listed on an item, such as 2, or it can be the base value + Haste. If an item has an RPPM of 2, and you have 25% Haste, the new RPPM of the effect would be 2 * 1.25 = 2.5 RPPM. Attack speed does NOT increase RPPM. Zeal is an example of an attack speed modifier that will NOT increase RPPM.

The general rule of thumb is that if the effect increases your stats such as Haste, Crit, Mastery, Versatility, or Main stat, the effect will not be hasted. If the proc is a damaging effect, it will typically be affected by Haste.

To view the RPPM of something you should first pull it up on Wowhead. We can use Torment in a Jar as our example. On the main page you will notice that RPPM is not listed anywhere. Once you highlight the effect you will see a tooltip that shows "Approximately 12 procs per minute". This is not reliable, and it is best to click on the effect and now you will properly see "Approximately [12 + Haste] procs per minute". These instructions can be followed for most effects with a few exceptions such as Vision of Perfection.

The reason for not having stat procs affected by haste is that it can create a feedback loop causing stats to scale more than intended. In some cases, this is known as "Double Dipping" and will be explained later.

Internal Cooldown (ICD)

An Internal Cooldown (ICD) is exactly what it sounds like. These effects were much more common before the introduction of RPPM. Typically, a trinket could have a 15% chance to proc and a 45 second ICD.

Some RPPM effects still have a small ICD. The Azerite Trait Empyrean Power has a 2 second ICD as an example. This information is not found on Wowhead and require you to use a spell query in SimC.

Global Cooldown (GCD)

The Global Cooldown (GCD) is the cooldown between using abilities. The base GCD is 1.5 seconds for Retribution. This is reduced by Haste to a minimum of 0.75 seconds.

Some abilities are not on the GCD such as Lay on Hands.

The cooldown of our abilities is directly tied to the GCD. Some of these abilities also have their cooldown reduced by Haste. Blade of Justice has a cooldown of 10.5 which is equal to 7 GCDs. The cooldowns of Judgment, Hammer of Wrath, and Crusader Strike are 8, 5, and 4 GCDs respectively.

These all scale linearly up to 100% Haste at which point the GCD is reduced to the minimum of 0.75 seconds, but the cooldowns of our abilities will continue to be reduced with more Haste.

Due to the relation of this scaling we frequently remind people that Haste does not reduce downtime. It only has the potential to increase our Actions Per Minute (APM). Once we exceed 100% Haste, which is exceedingly rare, we will see Haste reduce downtime.

Dynamic Cooldown

Dynamic Cooldowns were introduced in Warlords of Draenor.

Take an ability cooldown that is affected by Haste, such as Crusader Strike, and it is on cooldown for 3 seconds. Now you get a Haste proc effect and your total Haste is now 25.06% up from 18.63%. the remaining cooldown is reduced from 3 to 3 * 1.1863/1.2506 = 2.84 seconds.

Any loss of Haste while an ability is on cooldown will not increase the remaining cooldown.

Whitelist

Battle for Azeroth introduced the concept of Whitelisting to WoW. Many people are still not aware that is exists. Non-class abilities such as damaging trinkets had major problems in Legion that caused them to do significantly more damage on some classes versus others, e.g., Warriors and Draught of Souls. To combat this a majority of cooldown abilities such as Avenging Wrath have an explicit list of what they're allowed to buff.

Looking at Avenging Wrath on Wowhead you will see there are multiple effect listed. We know based on the tooltip that Avenging Wrath will increase our damage, healing, and critical strike chance increased by 20%. We can see that Effects 1, 2, and 3 limit which abilities can receive this benefit. In general, these are limited to class specific abilities. We can see some additional Effects as well such as Auto Attack damage, the ability to use Hammer of Wrath during wings, and the Avenging Wrath buff that guarantees our first Templar's Verdict or Divine Storm to crit.

This can be applied to any of our spells including Mastery: Hand of Light. Even though the tooltip states it increases Holy damage it does not apply to abilities such as Shield of Vengeance, and Light's Judgment.

"Systematic Regression" Trinket Scaling

"Systematic Regression" trinket scaling was first introduced during the raid Uldir in Battle for Azeroth. It is named after the Disc of Systematic Regression trinket.

Once of the design changes from Legion to Battle for Azeroth was to make AoE trinkets split damage equally amongst all targets. This entirely killed the idea of an AoE focused trinket until Systematic Regression scaling.

Systematic Regression scaling will cause the trinket to do 15% increased damage per target up to 6 targets for a maximum of 90% increased damage.

To identify a trinket that is affected by Systematic Regression it will have the following text in its description "Deals increased damage when striking multiple targets."

Speed

Speed specifically refers to Active and Passive bonuses in this context. If you have multiple Active, and Passive speed increases you will only benefit from the highest Active, and Passive benefit.

I'll also take this time to remind you that Divine Steed is technically a mount and benefits from Heart of the Crusader.

Spell Queue

Prior to Warlords of Draenor WoW used to spell batches every 400 milliseconds. Now spells and their effects can occur near instantly. To avoid players having small gaps in their rotation the Spell Queue Window was created.

Originally this window was set to 250 milliseconds but during Legion the default was increased to 400 milliseconds. This caused many people to notice that not all their button presses were being registered in time causing non-optimal casts. This was especially prevalent with high Haste classes such as Ret Paladins.

If you think this issue is affecting you, use the following command to check your current value change your Spell Queue Window. It is important to not set this too low. A lower value will increase the number of small gaps in your rotation and at times you will find button presses not being registered at all. Personally, I have mine set at 160 and I would highly recommend not going any lower than that.

/dump GetCVar("SpellQueueWindow")
/console SpellQueueWindow 250

Immunity

You may think you have immunity, but you don't.

Cheat Death abilities have a cap on the amount of damage you can take before it triggers. Divine Intervention had a cap of 2x your Max HP in Legion.

Divine Shield also had a maximum cap of 100M damage in Legion. This caused Call Vellius to kill us on Mythic even if we had Divine Shield active. Currently if there is a cap it is not present in spell data.

There are also many Raid mechanics that either ignore all immunities or just specific immunities such as Divine Shield, and Blessing of Protection.

Multi-school Damage

WoW has many damage schools such as Holy, Fire, Shadow, and Nature. When 2 or more of these abilities are combined, they create a multi-school damage ability.

Wake of Ashes does Radiant damage which is a combination of Holy and Fire. If we have both a bonus to Holy damage and Fire damage Wake of Ashes would use whichever value is greater.

Specialization Aura

Every specialization in WoW has a hidden aura that modifies various aspects of the class such as damage and healing. The Warcraft devs use this aura as one of the available tuning knobs.

Retribution Paladin is our hidden specialization aura. You can see that Effect 1 applies a -27% modifier to most of our abilities. Effect 14 is what causes our Crusader Strike to generate 1 Holy Power.

Attack Power to Spell Power Conversion

As a Melee class we primarily scale off Attack Power. We are hybrids; however, we are a Hybrid and some of our abilities scale off Spell Power. The most prevalent ability being Judgment.

Our Retribution Paladin spec aura has a modifier on Effect 10 that sets our Spell Power to 96% of our Attack Power. Why 96% you ask? We have no idea. Protection Paladin is 101% as an example.

Damage Formula

You might remember datamining during BfA Beta that abilities would scale off Attack Power instead of Weapon Damage. Or you might look at a tooltip on Wowhead and see Templar's Verdict deals 194% of Attack Power as Holy damage. This is only a small part of the equation and Weapon DPS is still part of the formula.

In reality to calculate the damage of Templar's Verdict it would look like this: (Attack Power + Weapon DPS * 6) * AP Coefficient * Spec Aura * Mastery * Vers. The "6" is the current value for WoW's AP Scalar and does not change based on spec.

If you have 10,745 Attack Power, a 545.8 DPS Weapon, 32.44% Mastery, and 16.51% Vers the formula would look like this: (10745 + 545.8 * 6) * 1.94 * 0.73 * 1.3244 * 1.1651 = 30,637 damage.

Judgment scales off Spell Power but the formula is the same. Just remember to multiply by our Spell Power Coefficient of 0.96.

Blade of Justice deals physical damage so you would have to account for armor reduction. The exact number requires you to extra Boss armor from the game data as well as a "K" value. This usually ends up around ~30%. So, you would need to multiply by 0.7 in your damage formula.

Stat Conversion

Each secondary stat has a value of how much rating is required for 1%. These values are pulled from WoW spell data.

Haste requires 10.06 rating for 1%.

Crit requires 10.67 rating for 1%.

Mastery requires 10.67 rating for 1%.

Versatility damage increase requires 12.19 rating for 1%.

Versatility damage reduction requires 24.39 rating for 1%.

Shadowlands will introduce Secondary Stat Diminishing Returns. Once you reach a certain rating threshold. This is a progressive system meaning it only applies to any rating that puts you above a certain threshold.

  • 0 to 30% has 0 reduction.
  • 30% to 39% has a 10% reduction.
  • 39% to 47% has a 20% reduction.
  • 47% to 54% has a 30 % reduction.
  • 54% to 66% has a 40% reduction.
  • 66% to 126% has a 50% reduction.

The maximum amount of rating you can receive from your gear is 126%.

This only applies to sources that increase your stat rating. Buffs such as Bloodlust and Crusade that apply a percentage based modifier are not affected by this system.

Mastery Multiplier

Each spec has a different Mastery. This makes it hard to balance Mastery across all 36 specs. To make Mastery “balanced” each spec converts Mastery at a different rate.

Mastery: Hand of Light has a built in 1.6x modifier. You can see this as "({term('spmod_colon')}1.6)" under Effects 1, and 2. This means 1% of Mastery is 1.6%.

Mistweaver Monks have Mastery: Gust of Mists which is a 3x modifier.

Pandemic

Pandemic was a Mists of Pandaria Warlock talent that caused refreshing your DoTs to add to the remaining duration up to a maximum of 50%. This made the management of DoT much easier as prior you had to refresh them at the very last second for optimal execution.

This was widely well received and turned into a core game mechanic for multiple specs. It also works slightly differently. When you have a buff or de-buff that has 30% or less of the original duration remaining, you can refresh the effect without losing any duration.

For Ret this applies directly to Inquisition. At 3 Holy Power Inquisition lasts 45 seconds. This means once the buff reaches 13.5 seconds or less, you can cast a 3 Holy Power Inquisition and the duration would be refreshed to 58.5 seconds.

Not every buff or de-buff will pandemic, however. This typically needs to be tested in game. Expurgation is considered a "Legacy Refresh". This means additional applications just overwrite the remain duration to the maximum of 6 seconds. Ignite is a 3rd type of refresh. This does not apply to Ret but it is named after the Mage ability. Additional applications of the effect will refresh the duration as well as contribute to the effect such as the amount of damage it deals.

Additive vs Multiplicative

Damage and Stat bonuses are either Additive or Multiplicative.

The new Seraphim is an example that is both additive and multiplicative. The Crit, Vers, and Mastery are all additive. If you have 10% Crit Seraphim would increase your total Crit to 18%.

The Haste on Seraphim is multiplicative. If you have 15.12% Haste Seraphim will increase it to 1.1512 * 1.08 = 1.2432, or 24.32% Haste.

Typically, Crit, Vers, and Mastery will be additive. Haste will be multiplicative. The only way to know for sure is to test it for yourself. Look at your current percent, activate your buff, then determine if it was additive or multiplicative.

Damaging effects are almost always multiplicative. Righteous Verdict and Divine Purpose are both multiplicative. If your Templar's Verdict says it deals 25,000 damage and your next use is buffed by Righteous Verdict and Divine Purpose, it would deal 25,000 * 1.15 * 1.2 = 32,200.

Normalization

If you used to play WoW a long time ago you might remember people telling you to ignore the DPS on a Weapon and instead use the Weapon that was slower. This is no longer relevant as damage formulas are now based off Weapon DPS.

Double Dipping

Double Dipping occurs when a spell benefits from a secondary stat in more than 1 way. This can be intentional but often it is not.

The Expurgation Azerite trait is a prime example of this. It will proc off of every Blade of Justice Crit and the DoT can also Crit. This causes Crit to become heavily valued.

In the RPPM section I mentioned that damaging effects are typically Hasted. Certain effects would double dip on this Haste. The 2 most recent examples are Briny Barnacle and Geti'ikku, Cut of Death. At the start of BfA both items were Hasted RPPM and their damage would apply more frequently with Haste. Blizzard did what they do best and fixed them in separate ways. Geti'ikku, Cut of Death kept its Hasted RPPM but the bleed stopped scaling with Haste. Briny Barnacle lost its Hasted RPPM but its DoT kept scaling with Haste.

Target Caps

In Shadowlands many abilities are having their AoE damage capped.

Soft-cap abilities will do full up to 20 targets. The 20-target cap has been implemented since Mists of Pandaria 5.2. Prior to this it was capped at 10 targets starting in Wrath of the Lich King 3.3. Additional targets cause the damage to be split equally. Not many of these abilities exist anymore, but Sanctified Wrath is one example.

Hard-cap abilities have a set number of targets. Divine Storm is set to 5 targets as an example.

Square Root Scaling is the newest addition. These abilities have no target cap but will deal reduced damage for each additional enemy hit. Wake of Ashes will deal full damage to your primary target and reduced damage to secondary targets. To calculate how much damage it deals to secondary targets it would be Damage / (Sqrt(Targets)). Assuming Wake of Ashes hits 4 targets does 2,950 damage to your main target, secondary targets will take 4500 / (Sqrt(4)) = 1,475 damage.