Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Softcore Pawn: how to use the loot ranking addon

I am lazy. Very lazy in fact. So when I was facing gearing up Kam to healbot levels, I thought to myself, surely there has to be an easier way that staring at endless gear lists and quest rewards, trying to balance this stat against that stat and make agonising decisions over which piece of gear to use and which to vendor.

Luckily I was tipped off by frequent mentions of the Pawn addon on internet sites. This little addon will show a number in the tooltip for an item which rates how "good" the item is. When comparing items, the rating can then be compared instead to make a snap decision. Is this the best way to compare items? No. Is it a quick way to compare items? Yes.

The catch is that the rating for an item is created based on the stats the item has. The Pawn addon functions in a similar way to those "Equivalence Point" systems all over the WoW space; each stat is given a fixed weight or a multiplier, all the stats are multiplied by their weights and then added up, giving you the rating for the item. Each set of weights is known as a "Scale" in Pawn.

The easy (and lazy) part comes where, instead of working out how much you value each stat relative to each other, you just take a commonly accepted set of values, slap that into the Pawn addon and start comparing items. That's exactly what I've done. To follow this you need to have installed the Pawn addon into your WoW client. Grab it from WoW UI.

Here is the main menu of Pawn, brought up by the /pawn command. It is showing the weights for the stats for the "Shaman Healing" scale, one I've already added. I shall add an Enhancement scale as an example, to follow click the "Import" button.

The import dialog appears with a text entry field where the Scale can be pasted. In the Pawn installation directory, in <WoW dir>/Interface/Addons/Pawn/, there is a "Sample scales.htm" file which contains sample scales. I shall take "Shamans: Malan's Elitist Jerks Enhancement Points (EP)" scale for Tier 4 which goes something like this

( Pawn: v1: "Enhancement Points": Ap=1, Strength=2, Agility=1.74, CritRating=1.97, HitRating=1.34, HasteRating=1.28, ArmorPenetration=0.22, ExpertiseRating=3.18, RedSocket=16, YellowSocket=15.88, BlueSocket=8, MetaSocket=20.88, MainHandDps=9.03, OffHandDps=3.7, OneHandDps=3.7 )
Copy and Paste that whole thing into the text entry field in the import dialog. Hit Ok.

The scale definition contains it's own name which shows up as "Enhancement Points" here. If you prefer a different colour click on the Blue box to the left of "Change Color" and choose a better shade; I've gone for a nice red. Ensure "Show this scale in tooltips" is checked. Now click "Close". The Scale is all set up and should start appearing in tooltips.

I have some random gear lying around I've collected for an enhancement set, so lets go take a look at how good it is. This Demonblood Eviscerator gets a score of 729.8
whereas the Rockbiter Cutter of the Tiger gets 296.6. Note you can only use such weapon scores to compare weapons with each other, never weapons to armour. So in this case for a mainhand the Eviscerator is best. For weapons Pawn uses the stats and the DPS values to compare, the Eviscerator has more raw DPS plus some expertise so I guess that is why it is rated higher. Note Pawn doesn't take the weapon speed into account, so here knowledge that an Enhancement Shaman is after a speed of 2.6 or slower is useful; luckily the speeds are both the same so that doesn't muddy the comparison.

I'll try comparing some shoulders which will pick up the various stats on the shoulders. These Mantle of Perenolde get 128.1.
These Exotic Spiked Shoulders get 80.7. When an item has sockets, Pawn will give each socket a flat value, in this case 16 for a red socket. If I was to put a +8 Strength gem into a red socket, Pawn would give the 8 Strength a rating of 16 (the Scale gives each Strength 2 points) and so this value of 16 for the socket would be sensible. If I stuck uncommon gems in a red socket, this flat value of 16 would be somewhat off.

Finally if you stick sets of gear in the bank, an addon which shows bank contents like Altoholic will let you get the numbers on items when comparing quest rewards. As a hybrid who is collecting 3 sets of gear for Resto, Elemental and Enhancement, this is invaluable.

The Shaman Healing scale which is shown is also a sample scale which comes with Pawn and I have used it to collect up my Resto set. However, I have always to keep in mind my target stats of 1200 +healing and 120 mp5; the scale encourages mp5 over +healing, which is fine when collecting gear, but when I had hit 120 mp5 I needed to start getting more +healing, at which point I had to use my own judgement.

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