weapons (WoW)  

Weapons are an important part of the game for many classes, and still an important piece of equipment for everyone else.

Your character will begin with a rudimentary weapon related to your class, (or two in the case of hunters.) As you use that weapon, you will become more skilled with that type of weapon. You will also be able to use other types of weapons, some of which you are already proficient with and some of which you will need to learn proficiency. Other weapon types may be completely unlearnable.

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Types of Weapons

Weapons can be equipped in one of three different Equipment Slots: Main Hand, Off-Hand, and Ranged. All weapons will either be One-handed, Two-handed or Range.

Axes, maces, swords, daggers, and fist weapons are all one-handed. Two-handed axes, two-handed maces, two-handed swords, staves, and polearms are all two-handed. Bows, guns, crossbows, and wands are all ranged weapons.

Several important notes about this information:

  1. A mace is considered different from a two-handed mace. Priests and rogues can use only the one-handed variety. Even for classes that can use both, they are considered separate weapon skills.
  2. One-handed weapons can be equipped in the main hand or the off-hand by certain classes. This is known as Dual Wielding, when the player equips a weapon in each.
  3. For classes that can dual wield, some one-handed specify that they may only be equipped in Main Hand or Off-hand. It is rare that a weapon is Off-hand only, but there are quite a few Main Hand weapons.
  4. It is possible for anyone to fight without a weapon. Both this and Fist Weapons use the skill of Unarmed, however this does not mean that anyone can equip a Fist Weapon.

Characteristics of a Weapon

Every weapon is unique. In addition to being a standard piece of equipment, with the normal attributes that equipment often has, a weapon will be in one of 13 categories. Additionally, each weapon will have a damage range it will do naturally when striking, and an attack speed. Based on these two pieces of information, the game will also provide a Damage Per Second value.

Generally speaking, a character will consider a weapon an upgrade when the DPS value is higher. This means the rate of damage being dealt is higher. There are some obvious exceptions, however:

  • Some players care heavily about their weapon speed and damage range. A hunter might want a bow that fires more quickly to fit in more Steady Shots. A shaman might prefer a slow axe that will get greater benefit from the bonus attack of Windfury Weapon.
  • Classes often do not fight with their weapon, and prefer to use it as a "stat stick" that simply has better attribute bonuses. In fact, some caster-oriented weapons will actually have a lower-than-expected damage output in exchange for better stats. A rogue dagger and a mage dagger look very different.
  • A weapon might simply be off-limits to a character. Rogues would probably love to, but they are not able to use any two-handed weapons. Paladins cannot equip anything ranged. See the table below for available weapons for each class.

Class Weapon Proficiencies
Weapon typeWarriorPaladinShamanHunterRogueDruidPriestMageWarlock
Daggers X - X + O + X X O
Swords O X - X X - - X X
Axes X X X + X - - - -
Maces X X + - X + X - -
Two-handed Swords X X - X - - - - -
Two-handed Axes X X X X - - - - -
Two-handed Maces X O X - - X - - -
Staves X - + X - O O O X
Polearms X X - X - X - - -
Fist Weapons X - - X X X - - -
Guns, Bows, and Crossbows X - - O X - - - -
Wands - - - - - - + + +
O = starting weapon, + = starting proficiency, X = trainable, - = unlearnable.
Note that some classes, notably hunters, start with different weapons based on their race.
It is possible, for this reason, that the table is not 100% accurate.

Weapon Skills

To learn a skill your character is able to learn, but does not possess, you must visit a weapon trainer. You will find at least one of these individuals in each major city, and the guards will give you directions to them. Unfortunately, weapon trainers do not specialize in every single type of weapon that exists. However, they will also inform you of which other weapon trainers you might be interested in visiting.

When a player first begins to work with a weapon, they will have a skill rating of 1. At level one, this would be a skill of 1 out of 5 (1/5) in the Skills Menu. When a player is less accomplished with a weapon, they will miss almost exclusively against higher-level targets until their skill climbs to a level where it approaches five times the target's level. They will also be incredibly unlikely to score a critical hit. Fortunately, at this stage, their weapon skill will go up with nearly every use of the weapon.

When a player's weapon skill matches his opponent's Defense, he should have a 5% chance to miss. Targets higher than your level will always have more defense than your weapon skill, and so this chance to miss is noticeably elevated. Until patch 2.3, there were means in the game to raise one's weapon skill through Racial Bonuses and stats on items. (These have since been replaced with the attribute of Expertise.)

Alternatives to Weapons

There are other items that can be equipped in some of the weapon slots. Many of these are caster-oriented items that state "Held in Hand". These items are intended to be equipped in the off-hand. Even more common that those are Shields, which warriors, paladins and shamans can use for a stupendous bonus to their armor.

Without access to missile weapons or wands, the three hybrid classes, (druid, paladin and shaman,) have nothing they are able to equip in their ranged slot. As a result, Blizzard has a few special items that these classes can use for very specific bonuses. The actual name varies per class, but generally these items are referred to as Relics.

This page last modified 2011-11-13 14:30:08.