L2Ret – The Cold Hard Truth About Diminishing Returns

Wait…  What?

I thought diminishing returns was something only tanks had to deal with?

Well, yes and no.

As a game mechanic, yes, tanks are the famous ones, but they are not the only ones.  Ever heard of a haste “soft cap”?  That is a diminished return as well, if you use haste past the cap that blizz enforces.

What is diminishing returns?

I am absolutely enthralled by physics (yes, I am a science geek).  I am no good at it (squeaked by my second year in college, and glad I don’t have to take it again), but it amazes me what scientists can come up with.

A big topic, especially with space travel and exploration becoming so relevant in our society again, is of course travelling at the speed of light.  And you know what?  At the current level of technology, we are not going to send humans, let alone a single particle, the speed of light.

You see, getting anything to the speed of light takes a LOT of energy.  How much?  Well, with what we currently know about physics – an infinite amount of energy, actually.  Harness the power of the sun?  Still not enough.  Somehow mimic sci-fi Star Trek – Yeah, not even close.  It would take all of the energy of the universe, and even then we STILL would not have enough energy.

You see, travelling at the speed of light suffers from diminishing returns – you add energy, you go faster.  To go even faster, you need to add even more energy.  Soon, you are going so fast, that it takes twice the amount of energy that you are currently producing to go 1 mph faster.  Then triple, then quadruple, and it spirals out of control.  It soon becomes that the amount of energy that you can produce is simply just maintaining your speed, and you cannot produce any more energy.

Put into WoW context

Simply put into WoW context, adding that 5th strength gem is not going to give you as much of a dps increase as, perhaps, a haste, or crit gem.

Now, just you wait, don’t go screaming to EJ that I am telling you not to gem for STR.  Put all the STR you want into your gear.  STR is great.  At current levels, STR is the best stat, by a wide margin, point for point as a dps increse.  You will always see your DPS increase by dropping STR into your socket.

What I am talking about here is for those who are just starting gearing out their toon, and for those in the highest of the high gear – ICCH (to borrow from Amber (of bubble fame), Ice Cream Social Heroic).  Those of you in the middle of your gear progression, this does not effect you so much, but be mindful when picking your gear.

Let me put my own toon on the chopping block.  Right now, I have approximately 2100 STR, and 32% crit (which is a smidge lower than I would like it), raid buffs not withstanding.  Let’s do some thought experiments, shall we?  Keep in mind that 1 point of STR is about 2.6 AP (when properly talented and buffed).

Let’s say I walk in and one shot Morrowgar.  We all know that isnt happening, but this is a though experiment, and I can haz illusions of grandeur, right?  🙂   ANYWAY,  back on topic.  Miraculously, two upgrades drop for me.  But just as I go loot him, a GM pops in and says that I cannot down morrowgar heroic with just one person, I exploited something, and I must choose just one upgrade (Stay with me people, this is a though experiment, not the complete truth).

Anyway, the two pieces that drop are the following:

Boots of Awesomesauce

Trinket of Uberleet

The net effect of the trinket would be an additional 5% crit.

The net effect of the boots would be 200 STR.

Which would you choose, if you had my toons stats, above?

The answer should be the Boots of Awesomesauce.  Why?  Because at some point, crit really doesn’t give us much more benefit that we can’t gain, in greater amounts, from an equal amount of STR.

Lets swap my stats around for a moment.  Lets say I have 2100 STR, and 14% crit.  What would you choose now?

The answer, hand over fist, should be the trinket.  Why?

Remember that Ret’s are built around crits.  We are designed to hit hard, and crit hard.  Between Vengeance stacks (which proc off of crits), and Art of War proc’s, a not-so-insignificant portion of Ret’s DPS come directly from crit.  In the above setup, yes, I could technically gain a good amount of DPS from the STR boots.  But that is the mistake that I see so many ret’s make.  STR is *big* in your stat allocation.  Huge!  But, if you don’t have the crit to back it up, you don’t have anything.  Point for point, at this low of a crit, your crit pieces will be worth more than your STR.

The point I am making here, is that each stat has its own curve of diminishing returns.  STR is kind of your “go to” stat, and will, in most cases, increase your DPS more than any other stat.  However, at low crit (and now haste, to get the SoV stacks up faster), the pull of those stats outweigh your need for STR.

As I said in the Stats and Gems Superpost, Ret is all about balancing.  Part of that balancing is knowing when, point for point, Haste, or Crit is going to be better for you than just piling on more STR.


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