The Math of Combat (WoW)  

Understanding the particulars of combat is an extremely complicated task. There is some basic information to understand about how fighting works, and there are some much more intricate specifics to those who are truly trying to optimize performance.

Overall, understanding combat can be broken down into a few categories -- the hit table, how damage is dealt, the effects of generating threat, and the impact character attributes have on each of these.

This article will briefly discuss some of these concepts, but for more details, it is recommended that you check the individual topics.

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The Hit Table

See Hit Table

The Hit Table, also sometimes called the Attack Table, is the process of deciding if an attack is a normal hit, a miss, a dodge, a parry, a crit, or any other number of possible actions that can occur. Instead of rolling each potential chance individually, the game compiles all possible outcomes into a table to determine which effect will occur. Because there is only a limited amount of space, characters can push off certain effects like crushing or critical attacks and prevent them from occurring.


See Damage.

Physical Damage

The damage from basic attacks are generally determined by the following process:

  1. A number in the weapon's damage range is selected.
  2. One-fourteenth of the character's attack power, multiplied by the weapon's delay, is added to this amount.
  3. Other possible bonus effects are also factored in.
  4. The damage is reduced by some percentage, based on the target's armor.

Example: a hunter with 700 attack power has a bow with a damage range of 100-150 with a delay of 3.0 seconds.

  • The game chooses 120 as a number in the weapon's damage range.
  • 700 AP / 14 = 50 DPS, multiplied by 3.0 delay for 150 additional damage. (270 total.)
  • The hunter has a scope and an ammunition bonus that end up adding 30 more damage. (300 total.) Additionally, the hunter has a talent that adds 5% to the damage of all ranged attacks, increasing the total from 300 to 315.
  • The hunter's target has 20% damage mitigation from its armor. The remaining 80% of the 315 damage is dealt, for a blow of 252.

A critical strike for a physical attack will typically double the damage.

Spell Damage and Healing

Spells have a slightly different process.

  1. A number is chosen in the range of the spell's damage (or healing.) (Damage Over Time spells will only have a single value for each tick of the spell.)
  2. The caster's spell damage (or healing) is multiplied by the spell coefficient for that particular spell.
  3. The two are added together, along with any other modifiers that need to be applied, and then possibly reduced by some amount if the target has a partial resist.

Example: a mage casts a Frost Bolt that has a damage range of 174 to 190. The mage has +70 spell damage.

  • The game chooses 183 as a number from the spell's damage range.
  • The 70 spell damage is multiplied by Frost Bolt's coefficient, 81.43%.[1] The result, 57, is added to the spell damage for a total of 240.
  • The mage has a talent that adds 6% damage to all frost spells, raising the total to 254. The target does not resist at all, so this is the final damage dealt.

Healing uses the same general process. All spells typically add 50% of their value on a crit.


See Threat.

Threat is the amount of hatred a computer-controlled enemy has built up toward you based on the actions it has experienced from you. Generally, the enemy will attack the target with the most threat. Each point of damage is counted as 1 point of threat, and each point of healing is half of a threat point, however many other actions generate threat and some damage spells have extra threat. A group has to make sure that the tank has more threat than the other members as often as possible.

An enemy will switch targets if another group member exceeds the current target's threat by at least 10%, or 30% if the new target is at range. This means reclaiming aggro once it has been ripped is not as simple as just getting to 1 more point than the other party.


Most attributes either increase damage or healing, enhance your chance to hit or decrease an opponent's chance to miss, or simply improve your character's longevity. See attribute for more specific details.

This page last modified 2008-06-10 08:30:49.