Thursday, November 11, 2010

Chaotic Meta Gems in Cata: We have a Problem!

As far as expansions and beta testing goes, some changes are made with big announcements and lots of attention. Others are slipped in and almost go unnoticed by the community. Most of the time the community focuses on the big flashy announcement, but that doesn't mean the other changes are unimportant. Once such change was made recently, and you probably want to pay attention to it.

What Changed:

As we all know, a meta gem's above average bonus comes with a cost. To activate a meta gem, the other gems you have equipped must meet a specific criteria. Typically these meta gem requirements are fairly small like "Must have two Blue Gems Equipped" or "Must have one Red and one Yellow Gem Equipped." For example, in WotLK the requirements for the Chaotic Skyflare Diamond was to have two blue gems equipped. It was a little inconvenient because blue was our worst colored gem for most of the expansion, but needing to equip just to wasn't a big pain because it could be done with Purple gems and it was just 2 gems.

We've known for some time that this was going to change in Cataclysm because the Chaotic Shadowspirit Diamond had different requirements, but they recently got worse.

Chaotic Shadowspirit Diamond Activation Requirements:
  • Old: Requires more Blue Gems then Yellow Gems.
  • New: Requires more Blue Gems then Red Gems.
  • Not only that, but they've gone back and changed the older versions of the Chaotic meta to have the same requirement as the Chaotic Shadowspirit Diamond.

    How it works and what this means:

    As most of you know the hybrid gem colors green, orange and purple count as multiple gem colors. For example, a single green gem counts as both a blue gem and a yellow gem when it comes to meta requirements and socket bonuses. In WotLK his worked to our advantage, because we could use hybrid gems to meet socket and meta requirements, why still getting some Spellpower/Intellect from our favored gem color red.

    If the current meta gem requirements in beta go live, then the hybrid gem colors will actually work against us in most cases and will change the way we gem all socket colors. For every red or orange gem you have socketed you will have to have a blue or green gem socketed plus one additional blue or green gem. Purple gems don't factor into the equation since they count as both a blue and a red gem. Lets take it by socket type and see what the possibilities are (assuming you want to get the socket bonus).

    Red & Prismatic Sockets: Ideally we will want to socket Brilliant/Int gems in the red sockets. This shouldn't be hard to achieve since you are likely to have more yellow and blue sockets then red sockets. However, if you have an abundance of red sockets that can't be balanced by your yellow and blue sockets, you may need to put a few purple gems into your red sockets to balance the Meta Gem requirement.

    Yellow Sockets: Depending on your needs for hit, yellow sockets should be socketed with either a Quick gem (yellow) or a Lightning gem (green). Orange gems would only be useful if you had very few Red sockets and significantly more blue gems socketed then red gems.

    Blue Sockets: Again, depending on your needs for hit, blue sockets should be socketed with either a Sparkling gem (blue) or Lightning gem (green). Purple gems would only be useful in blue sockets if they didn't upset the balance of red to blue gems, as in you have a lot of blue gems socketed but few red gems socketed.

    Why this is a Problem:

    This change is inconvenient for sure, but my problems with this change go beyond me just disliking it as a player. In my opinion, the new Chaotic meta gem requirement is a clear example of bad design. I know that a lot of players like to call anything they don't like "bad design," but I try not to use those words for anything I simply don't like or disagree with. In this case, I think the new requirement runs counter to several of Blizzards implied stated goals and design philosophies.
    1. It creates a trap. When it comes to choosing DPS gems a couple of things are fairly clear for caster DPS at least. Red and red hybrid gems are the best because they provide Intellect our primary DPS stat. After you do a little math it's also clear that the Chaotic meta gem is the best meta gem. Yet, the new requirement sets these two basic rules against each other and creates a situation that is counter intuitive and confusing to players. Blizzard has said in the past they don't like to have traps in the talent trees. If that is true, then they shouldn't like meta gems that create a trap as well.

    2. It works against profession bonuses. In WotLK, Blizzard worked really hard to keep the profession bonuses relatively equal in terms of stats and game play. As a result most of the professions provided around 47 spell power and it didn't matter a lot which crafting professions you had. The problem is that two of the profession bonuses are centered around gems and gem sockets. Jewelcrafting can probably work around it, but it's a big problem for Blacksmithing, since it's profession bonus is two prismatic gem sockets. This means that a blacksmith has to have two additional blue gems as well and may have to down grade another gem just to activate his meta.

    3. It's a higher requirement then other Meta gems. All of the other meta gems have a simple to understand requirement like "Requires at least 2 yellow gems." I realize that the chaotic meta is very valuable for DPS specs, but the requirement is inconsistent when compared to the other meta gems. Tanks and healers aren't being asked to jump through similar hoops. For the Austere meta, the requirement is two yellow gems. It's not ideal, but not hard comply with either. The Eternal meta gem requires 3 blue gems which a tank will have by default. The healing meta's designed along the same lines, and that makes me wonder why DPS is being singled out for difficult to meat meta requirement.

    4. It makes gear upgrades complicated and expensive. Under the new requirement, any gear change could upset the balance of your meta gem requirement For example, if you have a pair boots with two gem sockets and replace them with some boots without gem sockets, then you may have to regem an item unrelated to the upgrade to maintain your socket balance.

    This change is more then just inconvenient. It changes the way Moonkin and other DPS specs will gem their gear completely. It forces us away from our favored stats and creates a situation where the correct gemming choices are counter intuative.


    Demosthanes said...

    This forces moonkin, and by extension, all dps specs into the situation of gemming primarily for secondary stats rather than primary ones. For some dps specs, this isn't necessarily all that harmful, as it stands Mastery is almost equal to the primary stat for some specs. For other specs, this could cause a dps loss where one is better off using a less useful meta in order to use more red gems. Interesting conundrum, and very mathy and complicated. Definitely not new player friendly.

    Diablo said...

    wow, thanks for pointing that out graylo, it does realy seem to be must more demanding than other metas. Even if it had been require more blue gems that yello gems it would have been a hassle to use since you would be quite limited for the number of Int/Haste gems you can use(and it probably is significant)

    Gevlon said...

    For blue, you can gem for +hit and then reforge your hit in gear.

    Or, you can go for Bracing Shadowspirit. It will add extra thinking and min-maxing options

    Sephirix said...

    Great post Graylo, thanks for pointing this out.

    I agree completely that its a bad design move, I'd be willing to overlook the fact that tanks have more relaxed meta requirements, if our meta requirement made sense - but it doesn't.

    They're essentially making it so that we have to regem more often, for inferrior stats. Even with reforging, your end gains will still be significantly lower than with the meta requirements we know.

    Here's hoping there's more to this and it isn't the nerf/pain it appears to be.

    Anonymous said...

    Not looking forward to this :( Why do they have to make things so complicated? If it's not broken... don't break it.

    Graylo said...


    Yes, you can gem hit and reforge it from your gear, but how does that help?

    You can't reforge into Int or Spell power. So you might as well use green gems and gem for Haste instead of reforging it off.

    The problem is that this meta pushes DPS specs away from their primary stats (Int,Agi,Str).

    It adds extra thinking for sure, but not any additonal min-maxing options. It just changes the rule. Lets assume for a second you only want three stats (Int, Hit, and Haste). In this situation it doesn't matter how you gem your sockets. As long as you have one more blue gem then red gem you will have the exact same stats no matter what combination of gems you use. It doesn't add any depth, it just makes it more complicated.

    As for the Bracing Shadowspirt Diamond, it's not really an option. I am thinking about doing a follow up post that looks at the other meta possibilities, but I am fairly certain that none of them can measure up to the Chaotic meta. At best they may be compare able at low levels of gear. A higher levels of gear the Chaotic will likely win out.

    In short this change doesn't add any depth to the game. It just makes it more complicated and counter intuitive.

    Tilgare said...

    Very, very interesting. I wonder if under certain conditions, a different meta gem will yield more dps. As you said, the Chaotic meta has always been a no brainer if you looked at the math, but that was also when it cared about two gems and not your whole compliment of gems. With the meta benefits and the meta requirements pitted against each other, I wonder which one will win out.

    Unknown said...

    At higher gear lvl's you also get more sockets and a greater penalty for the meta.
    A rough guess would say you loose over 100 int to seconadary stats, worth at best 2/3'rd of a point of int. At early gear lvls with around 10 sockets.
    My guess is you'lll loose around 25% of the possible int from sockets on your gear. (plus another 54 on the meta iselt, in relation to one with in, instead of Chaotic's critt.)

    Come back with some math for us on this please. compaering with other alternative metas.

    Tulveli said...

    With the changes to int, wouldn't Ember Skyflare (25 sp and 2% int)and it's cata upgrade now be a very decent option? Especially if this chaotic gem change goes live.

    I expect they changed it because every dps will now have a few blue gems to help meet their hit cap... but the change is aweful.

    Kittybabies said...

    @Tulveli: Unfortunately, the ember skyflare is no longer +25 sp & 2% int. It is now +21 int and 2% max mana. This is understandable since having two stats that directly contribute to a main dps stat would be quite overpowered.

    Fawr said...

    Boomkin may be stacking int, but I've seen lost of other casters stacking mastery gems.

    If you stack mastery gems then this doesn't hurt you as much, particually in early content where you will want some hit gear (blue gems) anyway.

    BC said...

    - Bracing ShadowSpirit Diamond
    +54 Intellect and 2% Reduced Threat

    I'm thinking of using that one at least pre-85 raiding. Threat is one issue with me that I can't stand, especially when we no longer have threat reduction or have a threat dump like other classes do (god why can't we have the warlock threat dump).

    54 int > 54 crit.

    2% less threat = 3% crit damage.

    Since we are not crit chickens anymore, the 3% crit damage won't help us as much. I mean we will gem haste, not crit. I believe the 2% less threat will be better because dead dps does zero dps.

    BC said...

    Forgot to add that the Bracing ShadowSpirit Diamond has a requirement of at least one blue gem and at least one green gem. Easily done by socketing one green in your gear. Then you can have all int gems for the rest.

    Depending on the gear, this might prove to be a higher dps gain if you count the fact you can gem as many red int gems as you want.

    BC said...

    Sorry typo. Mod edit my previous post to say at least one blue gem and at least one yellow gem making one green gem will turn on this meta.

    Eluial said...


    In general, yes, that will be our best second choice. I did a little rough mathing out, using one person's level 85 stats in T11. Without considering the benefits of reforging and just simply switching around gems to stay at the hit cap, the bracing was a DPS loss of about 75. Seems fairly insignificant, and I think even that could be overcome by reforging some crit or mastery to hit on your gear, instead of using more than the 1 obligatory green gem.

    However, don't totally disregard 3% crit damage. With a chaotic meta, our total crit damage multiplier comes out to be 209%, while other classes get 206%. It's true crit simply isn't as valuable to us anymore, but the better our gear gets, the more we'll have simply in virtue of what's on the gear. It's possible that at T11 levels, Bracing will win, while at later gear levels chaotic will again be the gem of choice.

    It's definitely a tough decision, and honestly, I'm not as against it as Graylo, but the points he makes are valid re: new/less math inclined players.

    Genaro said...

    Are we missing something here?

    Socket bonuses on Tier 11 pieces are invariably very good (+20 intellect on most and +30 on the helm).

    To get these bonuses you need to socket more blue than red gems.

    As this pattern also seems to be followed on a lot of the other BIS pieces I have seen on MMO Champion then we may not need to worry...

    Graylo said...


    Your missing the fact that Purple gems count as both a red and a blue gem, and that orange gems count as a red gem.

    Yes, the T11 socket bonuses are very good, and yes there seem to be more blue sockets then red in T11 gear. However, normally we would put red gems in the red and prismatic sockets, Orange gems in the yellow, and purple in the blue.

    Now we will have to put purple in the red and prismatic, and yellow in the yellow. Basically for every red, prismatic and yellow socket we have we lose 10int and gain 10 haste or hit.

    Mathias said...

    I have no idea, what the game designers have in mind with these meta gem requirements.
    Probably we will never see Moonkins with 60% crit chance in raids again, so the +3% crit damage will lose much of its value, at least as soon as we meet the hitcap without needing gems.
    Besides, i'm not in the mood for regeming after every new item, so in my opinion the Bracing Shadow Spirit Diamond will be a good choice-reduced threat and no problems when i use my favourite (red) gems.

    Anonymous said...

    As it stands now, and I'm sure it may be even worse in Cata, Moonkins may want to to choose the Bracing Shadowspirit Diamond(1Blue/1Yellow) for the reduced threat.

    Now that being said, I've only played the beta for a few minutes with a new copied character, But I had to stuff every socket with hit to make the cap and still couldn't get hit capped. So maybe blue gems are what we will primarily be using on the first raid tier anyways.

    Espoire said...

    "I believe the 2% less threat will be better because dead dps does zero dps."

    I think that needs more justification.

    I'm going to begin by assuming that if threat is a problem, you will throttle your damage output (otherwise you're a baddie, and any DPS problems you have won't be fixed by changing your gear anyway.)

    2% less threat will allow you to do 1/.98 = 1.0204 times as much damage before you need to throttle your damage, if you are threat capped.

    For ease of reading the next section,
    Let cdm = crit damage multiplier.
    Let cc = crit chance.

    With the 3% crit damage, you will deal ((1 - cc) + (cdm * (1.5 * 1.03 - 1) + 1) * cc) / ((1 - cc) + (cdm * (1.5 - 1) + 1) * cc). If your class' cdm = 2.0, as most class' cdm does, then that ratio is (1 + 1.09cc) / (1 + cc). This value is equal to 1.0204 when cc equals 0.2931.

    So, the two meta effects are of roughly equivalent value when they are of value, however the Bracing meta is only of value if you're threat-capped, and the Chaotic is useless if you would have been threat-capped without it.

    So, the Bracing is definitely of more value if your tank is incompetent, but again, I would say that if that's the case, you need to change something other than your meta gem.

    I would say you can only choose Bracing if the value of not having to meet the "Requires more Blue gems than Red gems" clause gains you at least 2% DPS, because the meta effect certainly shouldn't be helping you.

    Anonymous said...

    I have heard from very concrete and reliable sources that the current requirement for this meta is a BUG and will be fixed soon. Mark my words.

    lissanna said...

    people keep talking about mastery rating. However, mastery rating is a yellow gem color. Your choices for Blue gems is only hit/spirit/stamina. IF they required more yellow than red, this would actually provide intelligent decision making. Blue just constrains without adding choice.

    I would almost want to go for Bracing shadow spirit diamond (+int & -2% threat), just so that we won't have to hold back as much to not pull threat, if threat will be more of a problem in Cata.

    Serrac said...

    One thing I've noticed trolling the tank info (especially DK tanks, which is most relevant to my raid situation), is that increasingly they are making tradeoffs between threat and mitigation. Whether it be pally tanks spending Holy Power on Word of Glory instead of another Shield of the Righteous or Blood DKs dropping the diseases in favor of more damage shielding, its looking more and more like threat mitigation might be a larger dps buff.

    mushu said...

    I will certainly be going for the Bracing shadow spirit diamond for the reduced threat, at least for a while. As it stands now, without using starfall on Lich King phase 1, even waiting for tank to position him, I can pull aggro just using my normal rotation before the transition. And since I'm always #2 on Omen, if the tank goes down so do I.

    Perhaps Blizz is thinking that the increased hit requirements at level 85 are bad enough to require more blue gems? I'm in full 5-piece Sanctified and heroic off-pieces, and even after reforging I am still sitting at 775 +hit! But I'm wondering if I'll be able to easily get to the almost double that requirement at level 85...