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Death Knight Statistics Primer

Author: Daniel Whitcomb Source: wowinsider

   We've seen a wealth of people asking these questions as we've been getting into the expansion: Now that we are trying to gear by Death Knights, what stats should we get? What's good for a Death Knight? Which armor should we take. We've started getting in that somewhat in the last few columns, with advice on reputation gear and starting zone gear, but we figured today we should delve a little bit more into the why of Death Knight stats.

Today we will talk about a little bit of primer on how Death Knights get their power, and what stats you should be looking for on armor in general to make your Death Knight the best it can be. It's not completely in depth, but it should get you well on the road to understanding just how Death Knights get all that awesome power and sexiness.
The content we will divide into three parts. The Good are stats that are excellent choices for DPS, Tanks, or both. The So-So are stats which still do us some good, but are pretty situational or conditional in their usefulness. The Outcasts are those stats that you should avoid - Well, we'd say avoid like the plague, but we're Death Knights. We like the plague around here. So we'll just say you should avoid them.

The Good:
Strength and Attack Power: Strength is the number one stat for most types of Death Knight DPS, and is hardly a slouch for tanking either. 1 strength converts to 2 attack power, and that attack power scales into spell power for the purpose of a Death Knight's spells, which include diseases and non-weapon attacks such as Death Coil. In addition, 4 strength converts into 1 parry rating.
Long story short, Strength is going to be your mainstay for DPS, and it's no slouch for tanking either, providing both extra parry rating and extra threat. You'll probably end up taking attack power gear every once in a while, especially rings and amulets, and it will work fine for you, but remember that strength does go that extra mile as well.
Critical Strike Rating: This is easily the second most important DPS stat for a Death Knight, especially since it affects both melee and spell critical strike percentage. Death Knights need critical strikes to activate talents such as Bloody Vengeance, Killing Machine, and Wandering Plague, and everyone appreciates a good Death Strike crit when they're low on health. Don't neglect this statistic, especially if you have one of the above talents or a talent that increases your critical strike damage bonus.

Hit Rating: I cannot emphasize the importance of hit rating enough. You can have all the strength in the world, and it doesn't matter much if you can't hit the broad side of a dragon. One of the best ways for a tank to up their threat level is to get some hit rating. At the same time, once you have enough hit rating, getting more won't do you much good.
The problem is, right now, there's some disagreement over how much hit one needs. Traditionally, one needs 5% hit rating to hit like-level mobs or PCs with 2-handed weapons and special attacks, 9% to hit boss-level (level 83) mobs with the same, and 17% to hit boss level mobs with spells. However, some are claiming that the new boss-level hit cap is now 8% for melee special attacks, and parses of damage meters seem to be offering conflicting information on whether this is true or not.
For now, I'd recommend that you try to get around 5% melee hit rating while leveling, grinding, or doing 5-mans, and somewhere between 8-9% melee hit rating for raiding until we know more for sure. At 80, 32.7 hit rating equal 1% of melee hit, and 26 hit rating equals 1% of spell hit. That means you'll want somewhere between 270-296 hit rating for that raid cap.
If you want to try to cap out your spell hit rating, you should probably take Virulence in the Unholy tree, then aim for the approximately 365 spell hit rating you'll need to make up the other 14%. Dual wielders have even further to go, with approximately 28% before they cap out white damage hit percentage. If you focus on getting to the spell hit cap and take Nerves of Cold Steel, though, you might be able to squeak through with less.

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