Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Darksend's Weekly Tip: Are socket bonuses worth matching?

In a follow-up to the first tip, today's tip will focus on how to determine if a socket bonus is worth matching. (At the end I will include a small note for Jewelcrafters as most of this applies differently or not at all for those with access to prismatic gems).

There are some general rules to follow when gemming an item:

  1. Guild progression.

  2. How many sockets are on the item?

  3. What color is the socket?

  4. Is your meta active?

  5. What are you using the item for - EH, avoidance, or threat?

  6. What is the bonus?
Now, some of you may be asking yourself: How can the actual bonus be last on the priority list? Don't worry, all in due time. Lets go down the list in order.

Rule 1: Guild Progression

Guild progression is first for a single reason,
Effective health (or EH). Short version, EH is the total amount of damage you can take without a heal before you die through a combination of stam, armor, and things like the mother bear talent and defensive stance. Avoidance has no effect on EH. The best way to help your guild progress as a tank in new content is by gearing for EH.

What does this mean? When gemming for guild progression you will have 24 stam gems in every slot and (unless there are 12 stam socket bonuses) you will never match a socket that is not blue. (On a personal note Xav and I were discussing how we both felt that avoidance has never been weaker than it will be in 3.1, based on the Ulduar encounters that we have tested on PTR so far.)

Rules 2 and 3: Number and Color

The next two rules are almost interchangeable, except when you consider that the bonus for matching a single socket will be something like 4 agi 8 ap or 6 stam, while the socket bonuses for matching 2 sockets are 1.5x more, 6 agi 12 ap or 9 stam.

My thought process on these two looks something like this:

It is that simple sometimes. Even if the bonus is bad, through a combination of 16 agi gems, 8 agi 12 stam gems, and 24 stam gems, you will almost never lose out by matching any socket that does not require a yellow gem (more on this in the summary).

This leaves 4 possible items, as only one item in LK has 3 sockets. Those 4 items are items which contain:

  1. 1 yellow socket
  2. 2 yellow sockets
  3. 1 red socket 1 yellow socket
  4. 1 blue socket 1 yellow socket

Rule 4: Meta

The next rule is one that does not come up very often but is something that must be addressed immeditaly: Is your meta active?

  • The only meta that one might possibly use as a tank that has a yellow as a requirement is the RED. While I would strongly recommend against using it, if you are and you only have one yellow socket in all your gear, it is a given you will match the bonus no matter what it is.
  • If you need either a red or blue gem to activate your meta and your gear only has enough sockets to just meet the meta requirements regardless of socket color, chances are your gear is at the point you still need to stack 24 stam gems and this is a null argument.
  • If you do not have enough blue or red slots to met the meta and you wish to match the bonus that leaves you with an 8 hit/12 stam if you need a blue for your meta, and either an 8 agi/8 hit or an 8 hit/8 expertise if you need a red for your meta.

Rules 5 and 6: Item Purpose and Bonus

Finally, you need to look at what set you are going to put that item into. This is also the first place the socket bonus will actually matter.

  • 1 yellow socket: As we already mentioned, items with only a single socket generally have weaker bonuses. As such, when using the item for pure EH, you will never match this bonus. For threat, you will always match this using either a 16 hit or an 8 hit/8 expertise. Now for avoidance, finally the bonus maters. If the bonus is an agi bonus then match it with an 8 agi/8 hit. Otherwise, use a straight 16 agi gem.

  • 2 yellow sockets: Only one item in the game so far has two yellow sockets, but there will almost definitely be more. Again, no bonus can make up for the amount of EH lost by using 2 yellows gems. For threat, this is an amazing combination and you will match any bonus with any 2 16 hit or 8 hit/8 expertise gems. For avoidance, while a single slot trades 4 agi for 8 hit, here you trade 10 agi for 16 hit. Especially if you have already matched a lot of single yellow slots, it is probably best to avoid this bonus even if it is 6 agi in your avoidance set (and that was definatly not on purpose).

  • 1 yellow 1 red: 3/3, yellow gems for EH just do not work. For threat this is another dream combo, and will match the bonus no matter what it is, only now you can also use a 16 expertise gem. For avoidance, you are trading 2 agi for 8 hit, so an agi bonus would absolutly be worth it.

  • 1 yellow 1 blue: Finally, a yellow socket you will want to match for EH, using an 8 hit/12 stam along with a 24 stam to match a stam bonus, but avoid other bonuses. This is a decent combo for threat if the bonus is hit or expertise, using an 8 (insert more needed stat)/12 stam gem and a 16 hit (or 8 hit/8 expertise if the last insert was expertise). Avoid this for avoidance (/sigh I know I know) even if it is an agi bonus.

As you can see, only in 4 possible configurations of sockets did the bonus even matter, and in even more cases you will pick up extremely sub-par bonuses simply because the color was good. Take the free bonus and move on. Lets be real you would never gem a yellow in a 6 stam blue socket or a 4 agi red would you? So why gem a yellow for an 8 ap blue or 4 crit red socket? Even though I have personally already stated my disgust at that bonus on our t8 shoulders, I am still going to get it simply because it is there, it is red, and it is free. Also, activating your meta is not something that comes up very much, but having a dead meta happens more than you would think (last time I did it I did not notice for 3 weeks because it was my DPS meta) and you do not want to be that guy who gets called out on vent "hey dark, where is your second blue gem for your RED?" And yes for those who may be new to the game, the BC version of the RED took 2 of every color to activate.

Sorry, this is actually a lot longer than I thought it would be so for Jewelcrafters, consider yourself lucky. You not only never have to worry about your meta, but you have extreme versatility. You can pick up those 9 stam and 6 agi yellow bonuses. Number 6 holds much much more importance to you than it does non JCers, but you cannot ignore the others. A double yellow is not the place to put 2 prismatics to pick up a bonus, and if you can avoid it never put 2 prismatics in the same item. You still want to gem 41 stams for progression, and you can use 27 hits or expertise gems in blue slots for your threat pieces.

Like I said this is getting way to long so again I apologize for there being nothing in 2 weeks as I will be without internet till the 6th and I simply did not have enough time to finish my next topic (since I wanted to get the threat write-up done before PTR closed). I may put it up later in the week after I get back we will have to see.


  1. Dude I'm sure this contains useful information - however, the writing style is so obtuse I just gave up 1/2 way through.

  2. Sorry you feel that way, but that is not a very helpful comment. I have edited it some but perhaps you would like to point out where you feel it is obtuse.

    However, having stated this in the first weekly tip, the weekly tips are meant to be full blown articles not little snipets. If you are reading them with the expectation of them being small inserts then I cannot help you.

  3. Sorry to be unhelpful in my feedback. I'm not literature professor, but it reads like a train of thought from inside your own mind that has not been crafted for communication to the outside world.

    Writing is hard because its about communicating with other people, not copying your internal thoughts onto paper. You may or may not undertand the difference I'm speaking about.

    eg the diagram means nothing to me after checking it several times, yet diagrams are supposed to clarify a point.

    A sentence like "The only meta that one might possibly tank in that has a yellow as a requirement is a RED" .... well I'm sure that sentence means something to you, but to me, I would summarise its meaning as "there are these things called metas that one needs for tanking, and the meta you want is RED. It requires yellow." ----- huh???? The word RED links to a meta gem. Double huh???

    Now I know that's not what you mean in your own internal mind, but that's what is communicated. So, your force the reader to work very hard to understand your internal mind, rather than you, the writer, working hard to translate your internal mind for other people.....

    Also, your basic points are entirely lost on me. I'm unconvinced by anything you said by the end - even the bits I did follow. Something is stated as true & factual, with no reasoning.

    Hope that helps somewhat. I'm smart enough, and could devour several chapters of a college math textbook before I'd had my morning coffee without problem. So I'm no stranger to complex ideas and subtle logic. Just so you dont think I was disappointed because I didnt get a "Lolz gems are cool, match em if you like" type of article.

  4. Fixed the chart, apparently the phrase "The item has x sockets:" and the lack of arrows makes it to hard to understand.

    RED is the agi/crit meta? I checked the link it's to the right item?

    Do you play WoW? or are you just some random person who stumbled across this and read it with no context as to the background?

  5. Dude! No need to insult me. I'm not some random member of the online grammar police, who stumbled across your blog and saw it needed a fx. I'm just a passionate wow player... checked out your blog because you linked it from tankspot, and couldnt make any sense of an interesting looking article.

    Having just taken up JC, I'm amazed at how OP it is for tanks in particular, and how easy it is to decide where to put my prismatics, based upon socket colors and my tanking roles.

    Will probably gem for EH in 3.1 too.... though I suspect, as always, we'll wipe or suceed in direct measure to how good our teamwork & leadership is, and very little else (we're all awesome at min/maxing, but still havent managed immortal yet. Most of us have had every 10/25 raid achievement for ages except that one. Its been partly bad luck & mostly a leadership failure, I'd say)

    Good luck with the blog anyways. Dont neglect your schooling for your gaming :)

  6. My two cents as a reader. I do not think the blog is meant as a source for individuals with no background knowledge of the class. It could really go one of two ways. Either add more details and background to supplement individuals who have little if any background knowledge or keep it as is a walkthrough of sorts that requires at least some familiarity and understanding of the class. For example RED is a very common abbreviation used in JC discussions for the relentless earthstorm diamond. I believe the goal is to condense some of the information and writing so it was assumed the reader knows this already.

    Anyhow good stuff.