Monday, November 22, 2010

Meta Gems: What do we do now?

Last weeks I wrote a post on the new Chaotic Meta Gem requirement. Talking with other players and guildies it seems to me that the change is hated by most people if not everyone. As much as this change sucks, the unfortunate truth is that we are probably just going to have to deal with it. In this post I want to explore the different meta gems options and a general gemming strategy we are likely to employ in Cataclysm.

The Options:

[Chaotic Shadowspirit Diamond]: I detailed the math on the Chaotic Meta gem in a post a couple of years ago. The theory behind the Chaotic meta gem hasn't changed in those two years. While the 54 crit rating isn't that attractive, the 3% increase to crit damage is easily still the best Meta gem buff. The question now is if it's worth the increased cost imposed by the new meta gem requirement.

Intellect Gems ([Bracing] , [Ember]): The Int gems are just the opposite of the Chaotic meta. Picking up an additional 54 Int is very attractive but the meta buffs are situational at best.
I've seen a couple of people advocating the Bracing meta because they are uncertain about threat in Cataclysm. Personally I have a hard time buying that argument. A 2% threat reduction shouldn't be much of a DPS increase. In most cases, if threat is really an issue then either you or your tank is probably doing something wrong.

The Ember meta gem would have been a much more attractive option a couple of months ago, but mana no longer seems to be a huge issue for Moonkin. If you're not running Oom, then an additional 2% mana is useless.

There are other meta gems that provide Int, but I believe them to be more PvP oriented since they provide bonuses that reduce stuns, silences and such.

[Fleet Shadowspirit Diamond]: I'm a little hesitant to list this gem at all but it provides a unique opportunity. If you've read my blog for a while then you probably remember threat I am a big fan of the Minor Run Speed Increase bonus. I like the additional utility it provides, and I've traditionally picked it up as a boot enchant because the other enchant options are relatively weak. However, in Cataclysm things seem to be changing a little bit. Minor Run Speed Increases don't stack, so it doesn't make sense to have both the gem and the boot enchant. Therefore, if you decide to use the Fleet meta, you can choose a different boot enchant. Most likely the 50 hit rating enchant. These means the Fleeting Shadowspirit Diamond provides you with 50 hit rating and 19 mastery mating if you assume that the Minor Run Speed increase will be picked up in either the boot slot or with the meta gem.

Other Options: There are other options that provide Crit rating and what I think are PvP bonuses. None of these are worth considering in my opinion.

The Math:

Hamlet recently posted an updated version of the level 85 WrathCalcs, and I'm using that evaluate the different options. It works a lot like the old El Jefe spreadsheet which will make some of you happy, and I used it to evaluate the Chaotic Meta and the Bracing Meta.

The gear I chose is all ilevel 359 epic gear. I didn't always make the optimal choice and favored pieces that were easier to obtain when possible. The gear set I used is very plausible at least in the early raiding of this tier. I did make the optimal gem, enchant, and reforging choices, and I used this talent spec.

The Cost: To use the Chaotic Meta gem I have to make some gem choices that would not be optimal without the meta requirement. When compared to the Int gems, I lose 154 Int as a result and gain 100 Spirit/Hit, 54 Crit rating, and the 3% increase to Crit damage. The cost of using Int gem is the exact opposite.

The Results: When I plugged these numbers into the spread sheet these are the numbers I got:

Chaotic Meta:20,663 DPS
Int Meta:20,468 DPS
Fleet Meta:20,319 DPS

As you can see the Chaotic Meta was still the clear winner even with the suboptimal gemming requirement.

The Gemming Strategy:

How we socket our Meta socket may not be changing but it does require a change in how we socket our other gem sockets. It's a lot more confusing then how we've done it in the past, but I will try and outline it as simply as possible.

Simple Version: This version of my strategy makes an assumption that should be true most of the time, but probably not always. That assumption is that you have more Yellow and Blue sockets then you have Red and Prismatic sockets. This assumption isn't true for our T10 gear, but it looks to be true for T11, and think it will be the norm through out Cataclysm. I hope this is the case because it makes the gemming strategy a lot easier to explain.

Red/Prismatic Socket: [Brilliant Inferno Ruby]

Yellow Socket: Socket a [Lightning Dream Emerald] until you have no yellow sockets left or until you have one more green gem socketed then you have red gems socketed.

Blue Sockets: If the number of green gems you have socketed is less than or equal to the number of Red gems socketed, then socket your blue sockets with [Sparkling Ocean Sapphire] until you have one more green gem socketed then you have red gems socketed. At this point your meta requirement is met.

Other Sockets: Now you need to balance the rest of your sockets to make sure the meta requirement is still met. Here are the steps you need to follow:

  1. For every pair of yellow sockets you have left socket one with a [Reckless Ember Topaz] and a [Lightning Dream Emerald] until zero or just one yellow socket left.

  2. If you have one yellow socket left and at least one blue socket left, then socket the yellow with a [Reckless Ember Topaz] and one blue socket with a [Sparkling Ocean Sapphire]. If you have one yellow socket left and no blue sockets left socket the yellow socket with a [Lightning Dream Emerald].

  3. Socket the remaining blue sockets with [Purified Demonseye].
Ok, that turned out to be more complicated then I thought it would be. However, it can get worse.

Advanced Version: Hamlet made a much more mathy explanation of the system on his Elitist Jerks blog which you can find here. This post and another one of his EJ posts led me to creating another explanation of the strategy using math expressions. Some of you might find it easier to understand.

  1. Let R be minimum(number of red+prismatic sockets , blue+yellow sockets - 1 ).
  2. Put R red gems into red/prismatic sockets.
  3. If there are still red/prismatic sockets left over, put purple in them.
  4. Let Y be minimum(R+1, yellow sockets)
  5. Put Y green gems into yellow sockets.
  6. Put R-Y+1 blue gems into blue sockets -- Meta requirement now satisfied.
  7. For each remaining pair of blue/yellow sockets, socket one blue and one orange gem.
  8. If yellow are left, fill with half green and half orange, favoring Green if odd number. If blue are left, fill with purple.
The only time it brakes down as far as I can tell is if you have all red sockets which is highly unlikely. You also won't be able to have a perfectly balanced meta requirement if you have zero blue sockets and and odd number of yellow sockets that total more then your Red/Prismatic sockets.


The Chaotic Meta gem is still the best meta gem choice by far. The DPS benefits of the other meta gem options just don't measure up even when you take the new Chaotic Meta gem requirement into account.

However, the new Chaotic Meta gem requirement does make our gemming strategy much more complicated then it has been in the past. The strategies I've outlined above will make sure your gear is gemmed optimally while still meeting the meta requirement. That said, you should be extra vigilant when making gear changes to make sure your gemming is still optimized.


jam said...

I don't think "Chaotic is better by far" is really an accurate statement. Given your numbers:

Chaotic Meta: 20,663 DPS
Int Meta: 20,468 DPS
Fleet Meta: 20,319 DPS

That puts Chaotic as better by ~1%.

Which doesn't take into account:

1) DPS lost by moving-out-of-the-fire time. (I remember reading about run speed vs +agility to boots for melee dps. It takes very little movement before the run speed is better than the tiny amount of agility you would get.)

2) Difficulty maintaining your meta activation once you get a new piece of gear. (Going from gear with 1B to 1R1Y, etc.)

3) Rotation complexity. Hard to put a number on this, but if +hit/spirit is valuable, then you aren't at the hit cap. If you aren't capped, then occasionally you are going to miss, which can screw up your human rotation. (Missed that IS was resisted, takes 10s before you cast it again, is that 10s without IS close to 1% of your total dps?)

I'm actually pretty happy to see how close the gems are. Since that means you actually have choice. Go with Chaotic for raw throughput, at a cost of lots of complexity.

Dinte said...

When you set up the profiles for testing the various meta gems, did you change the boot enchant for the Fleet meta?

Anonymous said...

Im confused as to why you socket your blue sockets with the 40 spirit gems instead of the green haste/hit gems. Wouldn't those be more beneficial (assuming you aren't way under capped) while still providing socket bonuses as well as increasing blue gem count for the meta?

LXj said...

What if you continue to use the old meta? It has less stats, but the same bonus to crit damage and not as severe requirements

After all, pure +N stat will never scale as well as +N% stat

Duskstorm said...

I'd say take the easiest, most natural one to gem for if it's within 1-2% of the dps of the max "spreadsheet" choice.

Why? Because Blizzard will certainly tweak the numbers a lot. Meaning, today, you might get a slight boost with the awkward-but-slightly-better choice, but in a month that could be the awkward-and-worse choice. When you pick the meta that is naturally the easiest one to gem for, you're probably picking the route that Blizzard is designing for you.

Remember when Eclipse first came out, and you could still put out equivalent DPS with starfire spam? Eventually, Blizzard made sure that we had the mathematical incentive to use eclipse.

In my opinion, early in an expansion, it's more important to make the decisions the way Blizzard designed us to make them. Otherwise, you're going to be changing gems around, rotation, enchants, etc. constantly every time Blizzard plays with the numbers. You may do a bit more damage on a spreadsheet, but the added comfort bonus of not having your character change as much will probably make up for it.

There's a difference between "how much damage do we need to do to comfortably complete the encounter" vs. "how much damage can I possibly do." I'm sick and tired of going balls out trying eek out every last ounce of DPS when the guys around me aren't doing the same.

Graylo said...


The Chaotic is better by far. Think about it this way. First, a majority of that 20k DPS has nothing to do with meta gems. If you don't socket a meta gem the spreadsheet says I would do 20,044 DPS. That means the Chaotic is almost 50% better then the Int gem, even though it's just a 1% increase to total DPS. That said, a 1% increase to DPS is not something to dismiss. We make a lot of other choices because they have a similar impact.

Now on to your other points.

1) I am a big fan of the Minor Run Speed increase as I said in the post, but it's a much better idea to pick it up from your boot enchant then the meta gem in terms of DPS and the two increases don't stack so you don't want both.

2) Yes, it will suck to regem other items when we get a new peice of gear, but if this prevents you from using the best meta gem in terms of DPS, then 90% of what I write in this blog doesn't matter to you, because your not trying to maximize your DPS.

3) Your third point is completely irrelevant to my post. You can and should hit cap no matter what meta gem you use. Therefore, the hit cap has not relevance to the conversation.

Silinix said...

I'm glad to see that the numbers are so close. I think that your gemming strategy will be a badge of honor, but it will be useful primarily for guild applications (i.e. "Is that boomkin doing the confusing, optimal strat? If so, s/he must be good!"). A difference of 1% or so of dps will be easily subsumed by other issues in any given fight.

Indeed, the int meta that gives +2% extra mana may be better for early tier raiding if we're still risking going OOM.

Graylo said...

Yes, I did.


You could put green gems in instead of the blue gems. Rightly or wrongly I was assuming that Hit > Haste in which case the blues would maximize the value of yoru sockets. Second, I don't think we are going to be in a situation where we are grossly over the hit cap. Now that we have to reach the 17% hit cap entirely with gear it is much harder then it was in the past, and the 40 spirit gems will be pretty attractive.

The changed the meta requirement on all Chaotic meta gems. I thought about using an older version as well but it won't work.


I completely disagree with your statement.

Yes, Blizzard is certainally going to tweak a lot of things, but unless you have some info I don't we have no clue as to what that is. We don't know if they will change the meta bonuses or their requirements. Therefore, it's best to make the choice that results in the most damage in most cases and having to regem a little more is not a good reason to not use the best meta gem.

If yoru sick and tired of you working your but off and others around you slacking, then it sounds like you need to find a new guild.

Eluial said...

I'm confused on a few of your gemming suggestions in the strategy you outline (and Hamlet's as well).

My main question is why would you fill in your yellow slots before your blue slots?

By filling your blue slots with lightening gems, and your red/pris slots with brilliant, you can then see how many yellow slots are left over, and split the difference with reckless gems (for instance, if you had 5 blue slots,3 red/pris and and 3 yellow, you would fill the red/blue first, then you could put 2 reckless and 1 lightening in the yellow sockets, giving you more of the more valuable stats than if you had filled in the yellow first).

But if you fill your yellow slots with lightening first, you're left having to use purple gems in your blue slots, possibly, which isn't as good as reckless.

Thoughts? What's the obvious thing I'm missing here?

Graylo said...


This strategy assumes Int > Hit > Haste. To be completely honest I'm not 100% sure that Hit is better then Haste, but we are definately sure that Int is better then the other two. So, that means you want to maximize the amount of Int you get from your gems.

With that in mind, you put green gems in your yellow sockets for two reasons.

1) If Hit > Haste, then green gems are better itemization than a yellow gem.

2) If you put green gems in your yellow sockets then you can put a purple gem in you blue sockets.

The goal is to maximize int. You can't put in gems in your yellow sockets because they would have to be balanced. Purple gems on the other hand balance themselves, so you want to meet the requirement with green gems in yellow sockets and use as many blue sockets for purple gems as you can.

Hamlet said...

Due to reforging, it's actually probably best to consider hit and haste as equally valuable for your basic rule of thumb. This tends to make gemming options a bit easier to grasp for everyday purposes, and works out fine in most situations.

The people making complexity arguments are missing the point. Yes, it can be worthwhile to give up small amounts of on-paper DPS to simplify your _rotation_ and play better in real encounters. But that's not what we're talking about here--your rotation, and how you play in an actual encounter, is completely unchanged no matter what meta you use. The only added "complexity" in using Chaotic lies in taking a few extra minutes beforehand to sort out the correct gemming.

Hamlet said...

Oh, and Graylo--one thing I never brought up in the blog post was dropping socket bonuses. This will be in my guide later (it's already in the draft), but it's probably optimal to socket Brilliant gems in yellow sockets if the bonus is something other than Int.

Graylo said...


"Oh, and Graylo--one thing I never brought up in the blog post was dropping socket bonuses. This will be in my guide later (it's already in the draft), but it's probably optimal to socket Brilliant gems in yellow sockets if the bonus is something other than Int."

That would only be true if you are replacing an Orange gem with a Red gem. Otherwise what you gain from the red gem would be negated by other changes you would have to make to maintain the balance.

Anonymous said...

Just a side not, but the spec you linked is for level 80.

All this seems a bit of a mess at the moment. If all is well with mana and threat I will probably use the "complicated one", but I do see the value of a reduced threat meta as it will allow you to DPS a little more without holding back, which could account for more than a 1% loss.


Anonymous said...

Hey Graylo, what do you think about these ideas/bugfixes?

First, when shooting stars procs while you are already casting starsurge, it consumes the proc -> very annoying and deadly for your potential PvP burst.

Second, the moonkin mastery is the worst in the whole game. In PvE it affects you only half of the time, making it even worse than crit. In PvP (especially arena) it might not affect you at all! I mean, how hard could it have been to make the bonus damage from mastery not constant and in eclipse state only, but depending on your energy state!
Example: at 100 energy you gain 12% bonus damage, at 50 energy you gain 6%, at 0 you gain 0%. Arcane mages have that (their damage is dependant on their mana pool), why can't we?

The PvP set idea could be fine, if they remove the need to get critted (this ability already has 6 seconds CD, what else do you need?) or lower the CD to 2-4 seconds at least.

Naturi said...

Hey Gray,

A few questions, firstly I am trying to make a simple spreadsheet for the gemming. I am a little confused about the first line "Let R be minimum(number of red+prismatic sockets , blue+yellow sockets - 1 )"

Is it meant to read Let R be minimum number of red+prismatic sockets + blue+yellow sockets - 1 .

Also with the new race changes out, is there any advantage in dsp for either races (both ally and horde). While the Worgen have the 1% extra crit, their base int is lower

Shyner said...

If this was already asked, sorry! I'm at work and don't have another 15 min break to read all the comments!

Why socket pure hit? The reason that spriets, boomkins, and ele's get a spirit to hit conversion talent is so blizzard did not have to make resto/healing gear AND caster dps gear. Instead, we use the same but spirit gives us a beneficial hit bonus now. Assuming that our offpieces will have spirit on them, won't we be way over cap if socketing pure spirit?

Lespaul said...

Mastery isn't quite that bad: with Euphoria procs and dot damage carrying the eclipse effect through periods of downtime, mastery affects nearer 66% of damage rather than 80.

As far as gemming goes, the complication as I see it more towards not overcapping hit than loosing out on int. If you follow the philosophy of gemming Lightning in yellow and Purified in blue, and reforging as much spirit as possible, you shouldn't have too much trouble taking Brilliant in red sockets.

Serrac said...

@ Anon guy with the bug fixes.

I had not seen that particular proposed change to the balance Mastery, but I wanted to note that I LOVE it. That's a spectacular way to fix it which seems balanced as well, to my eye.

Note that my eye is only law school grade, and not hypermathed like Ham or Gray.

Cæli said...

At a bis level of gear, the chaotic is a small dps gain (less than 1 %) but still a gain
Don't understand the point of changing the requirement though, this is complicated and not fun
I also noticed a strange requirement for the 70 chaotic
Are we sure that Blizzard wanted to change the chaotics and that it is not just a bug ?

Assuming it remains, I may be totally wrong but from what I understand :
I think that gemming with Sparkling in order to get hit capped can be a dps loss.
First, if you gem Sparkling instead of a purple int/hit, you are trading hit for int, which has to be avoided because under the hit cap, int > hit
Second, if you gem green (hit/haste) instead of Sparkling, you loose 20 hit, and you gain 20 haste. Loosing 20 haste for 20 hit by using the Sparkling is not the better choice; reforging 50 crit or mastery is better, reforging this way lets you have a dps gain.
With the stats weights in the new wrathcalc with a high level of gear, reforging 50 mastery for 20 hit + 30 mastery is a 7.47 dps loss with this specific gear configuration; losing 20 haste for 20 hit is a 13.24 dps loss;
we could also say as soon as 30 mastery is < than 20 haste, Sparkling is a loss
This is why i think Sparkling has to be avoided

Reforging crit/haste seems the best way to get hit capped, the dps lost by switching a no hit/spirit piece of gear to gain some hit seems not beneficial when considering a high level of gear, there is chances it's the same for lower levels

Graylo said...


No, my Min statement means "Which number is smaller? Red + Prismatic or Blue + Yellow -1.

You should use the smaller of those two numbers.

As far as Races go, without doing any math I am 99% sure that Trolls and Worgen will be the best choices from a pure DPS standpoint. Remeber the 1% additional crit is equivalent to 176 Crit rating. That is definately better then a few Int.


First, I think hit capping is going to be a lot tougher then most people expect. Remember we have to get to 17% now without the help of buffs like the old BoP and Imp FF. That's 1746 Hit rating.

Second, Spirit and hit rating are not as abundant as you seem to think they are. Four out of our five tier items don't have spirit or Hit on them. Our boots, belt, and bracers are pretty much guarenteed to have spirit on them, but these sockets also have some of the smallest Itemization budges. Our other 9 sockets are not leather and could have any combination of stats.

Third, there isn't a better option for your blue sockets. Hit and Spirit are the only two blue stats that provide any DPS increase.

Finally, even if it does put you way over the cap you can reforge down to pick up a better stat.

Swen said...

With the final gemming strategy you say the only time it breaks down is if you have all red gems but isn't that impossible due to the belt prismatic socket? Socketing that with a blue and the rest with purple would satisfy the requirement

Spyra said...

I would love and addon that tracked your total gem colors. Does that make me lazy for wanting that?

Anonymous said...

The Meta's are getting restored to pre 4.0.3a requirements in a future patch.

Check out

Anonymous said...

Changes being reverted, blue post.

Duskstorm said...

@Graylo, I think you extracted a larger strategy of "screw math, just be good enough" from my post that any reasonable raider would disagree with unless you look at the context. We're talking about a teensy difference. Of the things that gate a raiding guild's progression, that 1% will be way down the list.

Luckily, Blizzard seems to be following a consistent pattern of designing the class in house with a specific play style and gear/glyph/gem strategy, watching as the theorycrafters break it down, and making adjustments if it turns out the raiders start down a different path than the one they intended because the "math works out."

They've done it time and time again. If they want you to use eclipse they will buff until you are forced to. If eclipse makes your DPS suck because it can't tolerate movement, they change the mechanic. If the T8 2pc is so OP that you don't even wear T9 4P, they will nerf T8 2pc. If the best meta gem is awkward to obtain with the gear you have, they'll either change the meta gem reqs, or have you use a different one.

Anonymous said...

reverting at 85 at least to old requirements.

in the meantime, whoever made this change needs slapped.