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Akasha January 17, 2009 05:41 AM

How to look for gear improvements
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How to look for gear improvements

Everyone wants the best gear they can get. Once you hit 80, improving your gear is one of the primary goals, even if you're not aware of it. If you want to instance and do a good job - you need good gear. If you want to raid and be of value, it's even more important you have good gear. PvP, Arena, yup - you need good gear.

I've always been of the mindset that people should be able to help themselves. It's your $15 a month you're spending on the game, so why would you want someone else telling you what to wear? Sure, sometimes you can get stuck or just need someone to help you nut some finer details out, but researching and locating gear yourself is much more rewarding. And once you know how, you'll always be able to find the best available to you.

If you're the type of person to create posts with "Here's my Armory profile, what can I upgrade?", then this is the guide for you.

Step 1 - Finding the Items
Finding items that are better than what you are currently wearing is your first step. There are numerous tools out there to help you do this.

WoW Armory 'Find an Upgrade'
The official WoW Armory has a build in 'find an upgrade' tool which can be used to start locating some items that are upgrades for you. I personally use this in conjunction with the other tools at my disposal because I haven't always been sold on what they offer me. But, it's something to help give you an idea of things to aim for.

Direct your browser to either the US Armory, or Euro Armory depending on your location, and locate your character. Once you can see the items your character is wearing, simply mouse over the slot you wish to improve and a small tab with an arrow on it. Mousing over the arrow pops out the 'Find an Upgrade' option.

When you click to find an upgrade, it will show you a screen listing all the items above what you are currently wearing in that slot as well as where you can get the upgrades from. If I look at my neck item for example, it only shows one possible upgrade as the Fool's Trial is what I have equipped.

If I look at my head slot however, I can see right off the mark that there are a lot of options to upgrade.

The armory is a great starter tool to help you find upgrades, or at least get a good idea on what items could be upgrades. If you combine the information you can gather from this, along with other tools at your disposal, you should have no troubles locating items that are improvements, as well as where to obtain them.

Look up other Warlocks
While you're on the armory, look up other Warlocks to see what they're wearing. If you've run with any other Warlocks who seem to do better than you, take note of their names and look them up. Same goes for Warlocks in well known guilds on your server, although I would avoid looking up Warlocks in 'the' top guilds, you know, Nihilum for example. Chances are they have a hell of a lot more play time than you and access to far superior items. After all, WoW raiding is their life, and if you were able to compete at their level, you wouldn't be needing this guide.

Most of you should have a couple of guilds on your server however that know their stuff and have created a name for themselves. If you don't know who they are, periodic searches for /who Naxx or /who Obsidian will start to give you an idea. Once you have your search results, click the menu at the top of the who window to show guild names, then left-click the menu to sort by guild and viola, you now have an idea of some of the raiding guilds on your server.

Alternatively, instead of sorting by build, you can click the 'class' heading to sort by class and take note of the Warlocks involved. Then look them up to see what they're wearing and if you can obtain any of the items they have. (link)
Kaliban's Class Loot List's, is just that. A list of all the loot separated by class. Clicking on the Warlock icon will show you a list of the item dropped in each dungeon. It's a handy 'all-on-one-page' search result basically. It allows you to quickly glance at each instance and see what items drop off which bosses that might be of interest to you. It is by no means a "warlock's have exclusive rights to this" list, so you will be competing against any other Mages and possibly Shadow Priests, but it does give you an idea of what items can drop in there.

Loot Rank (link)
I'm a new comer to this site, but already love it! The first section allows you to fill in your class, armor type and select which slot you want to find upgrades for (you can select all). But it gets better. After that, you can untick any boxes that don't apply to you. For example, if you aren't able to raid the 10 or 25 man zones, untick them. Same for any professions that don't apply to you, or PvP if that's not your forte.

  • Define what the maximum quality of the gems you will be using are. Loot Rank will figure that you will have access to those gems when making you lists. If you are looking to see a “best of everything” list, then leave it on “epic.” If you are still working on gearing up, you may want to change it to “rare.”
  • Exclude BT/MH Gems. Given that we are now in WotLK, Black Temple and Mount Hyjal gems are probably not an option anymore. I'd leave that unticked.
  • Checking “Force Socket Colors” will ensure that you get every socket bonus you can (except for meta). Generally speaking, we don’t want to do this when looking for PvE gear, as many socket bonuses are not that great. If you are looking for PvP gear, socket bonuses are an excellent source of survival stats (resilience and stamina), so you would want to force socket colors.
  • As for the raid and profession boxes, if you want to know about all the gear out there, then leave all the boxes checked. Otherwise, toggle off gear from professions that you don’t have, and raids you are not into yet, etc. BC Raid Items are probably no longer applicable to most...
  • Weapon speeds can be ignored. For PvP, you may potentially seek a fast wand, but beyond that the weapon speed section isn’t worth messing with. Leaving the ranges as 1-4 will return a list of all weapons available.
  • Emblem of Heroism and Valor are the token items you exchange for gear, the WotLK 'badges'. If you are running heriocs, tick that. If you are running 25 man raids, you can tick yes to Valor as well.

The second section allows you to add score weights against each applicable ability.

Above is the default stat weights. Obviously we don't need Stamina or Agility, so you can change those to zero. The rest of the stats are dependent on your play style, talent spec and many other factors, and as such you need to work out what you want.
  • If you decide you want 2 Stamina to every 1 Intellect, you put a 2 in Stamina and a 1 in Intellect (meaning Stamina is twice as valuable as Intellect). You can use any ratio when entering stats (4 Stamina to 2 Int would be the same as 2 Stamina to 1 Int).
  • Weigh meta gem (optional). This is tricky. This parameter is how much weight you want to give a meta gem. It is used when comparing helms with a meta gem slot to those without one. Meta gems can grant some interesting (and difficult to account for) bonuses, such as 5% stun resistance or a chance of mana return on spell cast. When you are are first starting out, just leave the Meta gem value as 0. Loot Rank will just assign the value of what it thinks to be the best meta gem for you to the scoring. Once you have gotten a better feel for this, you may start wanting to assign your own scores.

This part is where I really love Loot Rank. This part allows you to pull the info on your character from the Armory to give you more tailored listings. The best part is that the items you are wearing show up (or don't if they're that bad) in the list and you can see exactly what items are an upgrade to you, and by how much. When I input the stats I want, type in my character details and hit the 'Get Items from Armory' button, it refreshes to give me a beautiful list of item upgrades below. Using this example, this is what my head slot section currently shows:

The highlighted item (Toothslice Helm) is what I am currently wearing. This shows you that there are six items which are supposedly better than that. It shows me the gem slots they have, as well as recommended gems to put in them, and where to get the items from. You'll also notice that this list is different to the one provided by the WoW Armory...

Another option, which I personally don't think is as good because you can't select specific instances, is

Step 2 - Figuring out which items are really upgrades for you.
Once you have found items that are better than what you're wearing, you need to figure out which items are truly upgrades, and which items you want to be aiming for. There's no point spending hours trying to get item A, when B or even D are even better. There of course will be factors that will stop you aiming for item X, Y or Z - such as not being able to raid the instances they come from. But if you can find 2 or 3 items that are with in reach, you want to figure out which one is the best.

WoWHead - Item Comparison
This is a great tool for those (like me) who can't always tell from just looking at an item if it's an upgrade or not. What this allows you to do, is compare a number if items side by side. For anyone that has used the RatingBuster Addon, this is basically an offline version in that it does the same thing. ((RatingBuster is a fantastic mod to have for in game drops. If you've ever had an piece drop in an instance and can't tell if it's really an upgrade, this is the mod for you!!))

You can use this tool a few ways. The first is from the menu option, fairly obvious. It's found under the tools menu and when selecting, presents you with a clear and empty list:

From there you can click on the option to add a single item at a time, or the to add a set.
  • Item – Opens a live search that displays item suggestions as you type the name of an item. Clicking on a suggestion will add that item to your comparison.
  • Item set – Opens a live search that displays item set suggestions as you type the name of an item set. Clicking on a suggestion will add all of the items in that set to your comparison.
Other other way to compare items is via the button which is shown on every item in the top right corner. This kicks off your item comparison page where you can then add other items via the links mentioned above, or by hitting compare on any other item page. All pieces accumulate until you clear them.

Also, viewing search results or any page with a list of items, checkboxes are displayed next to items which can be equipped. You may select one or more items and click the Compare button at the top of the list.

Note: If you have a comparison saved, and you add items to your comparison from elsewhere on the site, you will be given the option to add them to your saved comparison or create a new one. If you don't have a saved comparison, a new comparison will automatically be created and saved with the selected items.

Once you have your items comparing though, the real fun begins! This is where this tool really comes into it's own and helps anyone decide for themselves which items are upgrades and which are not. When you have two or more items, you can set the focus on one item (usually the one you're currently wearing) and it shows total gains and losses for each item compared to yours. To set the focus, click on the 'eye' icon on the item you wish to target.

In the image below I compared the [Frozen Shadoweave Robe] to the Tier 7 [Heroes' Plagueheart Robe]. By setting the focus to the FSW, you can see the immediate upgrades the Tier 7 Robe brings, right down to the sockets where you can see you gain 1 Red socket, but loose 1 Blue one. If that wasn't enough to help you, you can see at the very bottom the 'gains' box.

You can compare more than two items as well, which is really handy when you find three or four (or ten) items that are within your reach, yet you don't know which one to aim for. Using the same focus option as above, simply add all the items you think are upgrades, and set the focus to the item you are wearing. In the image below I'm comparing [Frozen Shadoweave Robe] with [Drakewing Raiments], [Water-Drenched Robe], [Egg Sac Robes] and [Heroes' Plagueheart Robe]. With the focus set to the FSW, you can see how much each individual item will upgrade you.

Weight Scales
If that wasn't enough, you can also add stat weighting scales, to see (an estimation of) how good the item is overall for your class and spec. To add a weight scale to your comparison, click on the Add a weight scale link in the top right corner. You may select a weight scale from our predefined presets or create one of your own. Each weight scale may be given a name that will appear in the score tooltips to help differentiate the different scores. You may add as many weight scales as you like.

To remove a weight scale, click on the X next to the appropriate score in any group. To toggle between normalized (default), raw, and percent score mode, click on the score in any group.

Note: Unlike the weighted item search, these weight scales do not automatically select gems or include socket bonuses in the score at this time.


Expanded Details:


This is a great tool that everyone should play with. You can drag colums around to put them in an order you like, you can group items by dragging one on top of the other, this is particularly helpful if you want to compare a Staff with say a Dagger and an Off-Hand item. To learn more about what you can do, have a look at the WoWhead Item Comparison Help page.

Step 3 - How make your gear sparkle
Once you have the gear you've been aiming for, it's time to make it even better! You can enhance nearly every piece of gear with either a socket, or enchant, or both!

Gemfinder (link)
If you have an item with sockets, then Gemfinder is the website to help you find the best match. It allows you to search for socketable gems from all those available in World of Warcraft, and provides a list of gem filters that you can apply. As per the website's How do I use the gem finder? information, you can:
  • Combine filters by selecting its tick box or you can jump straight to a filter by selecting its link.
  • Sort filters that have values (e.g. agility) by selecting [sort] in the gem filters list or next to the effect you just selected.
  • Hide gems that give a certain bonus by adding that filter then selecting [hide] next to it or from the filter list at the top.
So, for example. Say you have an item with a red socket, and you don't know what gem to put in it. The first thing you'd tick is the 'Red Socket' box. When you do this, the page will refresh and a lot of the buffs under the 'Only show gems that give you' menu will turn grey. This leaves you with only options that can be found on gems that fit into a red socket.

Ticking another option, such as 'Spell Power' blanks out even more options, while also changing the list to show all gems that have spell power on them. If you are still a little low on +Hit Rating, you might also put a tick beside that option. The result? 7 Gems found...

Enchants are a hard one. There's isn't really website to go to and have tell you what enchants you should be getting. This is going to require you to think what you need to improve - be it spell power, hit rating, etc - and then find the enchants yourself.
** There is currently a guide in the Library listing enchants, however I haven't had a chance to update it since WotLK. It's next on my list.Enchanting your gear - Recommended Warlock Enchants
Lootrank does tell you enchants for each slot, but doesn't always list the best ones. I found a lot of the enchants that it listed for me weren't ones I would get.

WoWhead is probably your best bet until I can get the guide above updated. If you enter 'Enchant Chest' for example, a drop down list will appear. Ignore that and hit [Enter] instead. You will then get the full search results page listing all the enchants that can be placed on your chest. Have a look through the list to find which one best suits your character.

Bilgefilth January 17, 2009 12:47 PM

Re: How to look for gear improvements
Excellent guide. Many thanks. I have looked on Be Imba! - the online Character Auditor for World of Warcraft for ideas on enchants and found it very informative. Once you've added your Character name and server (EU or US), you are given a detailed breakdown of your character's gear etc and what enchants would improve you. It also gives a rough idea on where you are as a character within the game. This relates to Heroic Instances and indeed Raiding. How your gear will perhaps hold up in these areas.

Nereida January 17, 2009 12:59 PM

Re: How to look for gear improvements
If you feel up to adding another option you may also want to create a section on Gear Wishlist using the MaxDPS option for ranking. It's another nice tool out there for those working on figuring out just what needs upgraded and where to get it done.

Vaell January 17, 2009 04:32 PM

Re: How to look for gear improvements
Sweet guide, Akasha! (o)l

Barkle January 17, 2009 04:34 PM

Re: How to look for gear improvements
Wowwiki has a nice list of all enchants, listed by gear slot. Pretty much includes everything.

Enchantments by slot - WoWWiki - Your guide to the World of Warcraft

Weeba January 18, 2009 03:34 AM

Re: How to look for gear improvements
Awesome guide! I think a lot of people out there should be forced to read this hehe.

Midnight January 18, 2009 03:40 AM

Re: How to look for gear improvements
You put so much work into your guides Akasha. A+ every time. Superb!

Sanevink January 18, 2009 10:38 AM

Re: How to look for gear improvements
Wow Heroes ( will also list enchants it thinks you should have on each slot.

froshaka January 19, 2009 10:06 AM

Re: How to look for gear improvements
Another extremely helpful thing that helps me accurately determine the value of the stats of a piece of gear is an addon called RatingBuster. You can find it on curse or any of the sites that feature addons. The addon shows you what the item's total Hit, crit, spell power, etc all are after adding in values from Stam, Spirit, int, etc.. When you hold donw the shift key and mouse over an item in your bag it will even compare its stats against whatever you currently have equipped.

Akasha January 20, 2009 06:08 AM

Re: How to look for gear improvements
Yes, ratingsbuster is listed in the guide. However, this guide is about off line tools to help you find the gear. RatingBuster helps when gear drops.

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