4 February 2008

The deal with spell hit

Spell hit describes the chance your spells have to, er, hit your target. It's very similar to the standard hit rating for melee, which determines whether a blow will land or miss, but casters have a few quirks to deal with.

On an even levelled mob, your spells have a base chance of 96% to land. The chance goes up for lower level mobs and down for higher level mobs. At level 70, the highest level mobs you will face are raid bosses and for the purposes of spell hit they are considered level 73. Against a level 73 mob, you have an 83% chance to hit with spells.

Here's the first bit of quirkiness for casters. When a spell misses, you won't see 'miss' anywhere on the screen; it will say 'resisted'. This is confusing, because there is a second type of resistance which applies to the amount of damage your spell does. But for this discussion, that's a red herring. All you need to know is that when you see the word 'resisted' pop up above your target, your spell missed. (I might talk about the second resistance another time, but only if I can get my head around spell penetration first...)

And here's the second quirk. Spell hit caps at 99%, regardless of all other factors. A level one creature has a 1% chance to resist everything a level 70 player may throw at it. Clearly, this is not a good chance. If you were a lowly scarlet convert from Deathknell facing a level 70 mage, you would not bet the church that that incoming pyroblast will slip off you like a pair of cheap knickers. You are doomed. No, all this fact means to the practicing shadow priest is you have a shorter ground to cover when improving your hit rating than our thuggish cousins, who can reach a 100% chance to hit. Don't ask me why.

Anyhoo, now you know what spell hit is and you have an eye on those instance bosses with their malevolent 17% chance to resist your spells. They are not good odds for a shadow priest. You have a limited mana pool and can't afford to be recasting every sixth spell. So what can you do about it?

The first thing you should do is put five talent points into shadow affinity. This will reduce your target's chance to resist your spells by 10%. Ten whole, huge, amazing percentage points. Those are the best five points you will spend. This is one of those rare occasions where you have the upper hand on the competition. Only shaman can beat a flat 10% improvement to their spell hit by talents alone, and they have to spec deep into two trees to achieve it.

Speaking of shammies, that's the second thing you can do. Find a lovely elemental shaman and rub up close to their totem of wrath. This will add another 3% chance to hit.

But given how hard ele shammies are to come by in end game, you're going to have to plug roughly 6% through itemisation. 12.6 points equals 1%, so your target is 75.6; call it 76. And surprisingly, it's not that hard. Lots of Outland gear includes spell hit points and you can also get spell hit gems. The spellstrike set, which I recommended in my last post, gives a whopping 38 spell hit from just two items — and that's before gems. You may well find some spell hit items lack in other aspects, such as stamina, damage or intellect. You'll have to decide on a personal level whether you think the trade-off is worth it, but the prevailing wisdom is that 1% spell hit equates roughly 1% additional damage in the long run. The amount of damage you would need to compensate for a loss of 1% spell hit is beyond the computation of my puny brain, but I think it's big.

One last option is the spellstrike enchant for gloves, which adds 15 hit points for some modest materials.

So there you have it, the deal with spell hit. I'm currently languishing at around 68 spell hit, but will let you know when I'm capped.

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