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Weapon skill represents your proficiency with a particular Weapon. The basic formula for your maximum weapon skill at a particular level is (5 * level). The rate at which you gain them depends on your Intellect score and the speed of the weapon. It's typically better to use a fast weapon to train up your skills.


Effects of Weapon Skill

For each point that your weapon skill exceeds your opponent's defense, you gain the following:

  • Your chance to miss decreases by 0.04%.
  • Your chance to score a critical hit increases by 0.04%.
  • Your opponent's chance to block your attack decreases by 0.04%.
  • Your opponent's chance to parry your attack decreases by 0.04%.
  • Your opponent's chance to dodge your attack decreases by 0.04%.

Effectively, you can consider weapon skill to be the inverse of the defense skill.

Glancing blows

Against mobs with defense roughly equal to or higher than your attack rating, you will have a chance to land a glancing blow instead of a normal hit. A glancing blow only occurs on white melee damage, cannot crit, and has a damage reduction proportional to the difference between the attacker's weapon skill and the target's defense. Weapon skill above your level * 5, as from gear or racial bonuses, reduces the severity of the damage reduction, but not your chance to land a glancing blow.

Glancing Blow chance

Players have a chance to perform a glancing blow against mobs equal to 10% plus 2% per point of difference between attack rating and defense. Non-melee classes level 30 and higher have a 60% chance to glancing blow. Non-melee classes from level 11 to level 29 have a (level - 10) * 3% chance of a glancing blow. As noted above, your maximum attack rating in this formula is 5 times your level. A mob's Defense skill is equal to its level * 5.

This formula means that, for a level 60 player with fully trained weapon skill, 30% of all white-damage melee attacks will be Glancing Blows against level 62 mobs, and 40% of all white-damage melee attacks will be Glancing Blows against level 63 mobs.

The presence of your weapon skill in this formula, rather than just your level, explains why training up a newly-acquired weapon skill against mobs close to your own level results in many, many Glancing Blows at first.

Glancing Blow damage reduction

The damage of a glancing blow is complicated. It starts by calculating the difference of Defense minus attack rating. This is then used to calculate a minimum and maximum damage factor. The actual damage factor is then randomized between these two values. The low value starts at 1.3 - 0.05 * rating difference. If the attacker is a caster then this is reduced by 0.7 more. The smaller value of this and 0.6 is kept as the low end. If the attacker is a melee class then instead the lower value of 0.91 and (1.3 - 0.05 * rating difference) is used for the low. Regardless, the low end will not go below 0.01.

The high end of the range starts at 1.2 - 0.03 * rating difference. Casters are reduced a further 0.3. The high value regardless of class is kept between 0.2 and 0.99.

The average reduction from a glancing blow is therefore (high + low) / 2 using the formulae above. This gives a level 60 player, with fully trained but otherwise unbuffed weapon skill, a 15% damage reduction with all Glancing Blows against level 62 mobs, and a 35% damage reduction with all Glancing Blows against level 63 mobs.

Unlike the chances of getting a glancing blow, the player's weapon skill is not capped at level * 5 in the damage reduction formula. With +5 weapon skill, a level 60 player attacking a level 63 NPC will see the same amount of glancing blows (40%), but only 15% damage reduction. With +10 weapon skill, the damage reduction becomes a negligible 5%.

Glancing Blow Implications

With + to weapon skill you will have the exact same percentage of glancing blows, but each glancing blow will land harder. With enough + to weapon skill, all your glancing blows will hit just as hard as your normal, non-glancing blows.

The fact that 40% of all white-damage melee attacks made against a Boss Mob will be Glancing Blows, no matter what you do, has serious implications when choosing how much +crit% gear to use. Due to the table-based nature of WoW's attack resolution system, Glancing Blows take precedence over critical hits. If your combined miss, dodge, parry, block, glancing blow, and crit chance against a mob is 100% or higher, you will never see a normal white-damage hit made against that mob (all your hits will be either glancing blows or critical hits). If it exceeds 100%, it is your critical hit chance that gets "pushed off the end" of the table. Any +crit% gear added past this point will not improve your critical hit chance with white-damage melee attacks at all. This is sometimes called the "Crit cap" (see below).

Instant attacks, and "yellow damage" on-next-swing attacks such as Heroic Strike, do not produce Glancing Blows. For these attacks, added +crit% gear beyond the "Crit cap" described above will improve your critical hit chance.

Ranged weapon attacks (Bows, guns and crossbows) do not have glancing blows at all, thus weapon skill does not affect this for them. It works the same for all classes that can use ranged weapons (hunters, rogues and warriors).

Glancing Blows in the Burning Crusade

According to the 2.0 patch notes, the following changes are occuring in WoW 2.0:

  • Weapon skill will no longer reduce the percentage damage lost due to glancing.
  • The player will gain 0.1% to their critical strike rating per weapon skill against monsters above their level.

Crit Cap

With no +skill/+hit gear on, attacks made by a dual wielder against a level 63 mob will have the following table from the front:

ResultChance
Miss24.6%
Dodge5.6%
Parry5.6%
Block5.6%
Glancing Blow40.0%
Combined hit + crit18.6%

Attacking from the back prevents block and parry, giving 29.8% combined hit + crit. (Attacks from the back can still be dodged.)

If the same character attacks the same mob from the front with a 2-handed weapon, it is not as bad:

ResultChance
Miss5.6%
Dodge5.6%
Parry5.6%
Block5.6%
Glancing Blow40.0%
Combined hit + crit37.6%

This is a 37.6% + your +hit crit cap from the front, 48.8% from the back.

All these crit caps can be increased by increasing your +skill (.16% increase per point from the front, .08% from the back) and by +hit (1% increase per point).


Dual wield full raid buffs (including mongoose and elemental sharpening stones) example from the front:

+0 hit +50% crit: 5.6% dodge, 5.6% parry, 24.6% miss, 5.6% block, 40% glancing blow, 18.6% crit 
                  = 31.4% of your crit rate did nothing
+6 hit +40% crit: 5.6% dodge, 5.6% parry, 5.6% block, 18.6% miss, 40% glancing blow, 24.6% crit 
                  = 15.4% of your crit rate did nothing
+15 hit +33% crit: 5.6% dodge, 5.6% parry, 5.6% block, 9.6% miss, 40% glancing blow, 33% crit, 0.8% hit 
                  = no +crit was wasted in this example 

Dual wield full raid buffs (including mongoose and elemental sharpening stones) example from the back:

+0 hit +50% crit: 5.6% dodge, 24.6% miss, 40% glancing blow, 29.8% crit 
                  = 20.2% of your crit rate did nothing
+6 hit +40% crit: 5.6% dodge, 18.6% miss, 40% glancing blow, 35.8% crit 
                  = 4.2% of your crit rate did nothing
+15hit +33% crit: 5.6% dodge, 9.6% miss, 40% glancing blow, 33% crit, 12% hit 
                  = no +crit was wasted in this example

DPS Implications

+skill and +hit both become much more important than previously believed due to the crit cap and glancing blow damage reduction. The following shows the difference in white damage between various stat options

Assuming 25.2% crit and 0% hit its
5.6% block for say 80% damage (depends on a lot of things)
18.6% crit for 200% damage (impale doesnt work!)
40% glancing blow for 70% damage
35.8% no damage
per swing its an average of .056 * .8 + .186 *2 + .4 * .7 
= 69.68% of your damage per swing
With +10 skill its
5.2% block for say 80% damage (depends on a lot of things)
20.2% crit for 200% damage (impale doesnt work!)
40% glancing blow for 100% damage
34.6% no damage
so per swing its an average of .052 * .8 + .202 *2 + .4 * 1 
= 84.56% of your damage per swing
(84.56 - 69.68)/69.68 = 21.3% white damage increase with +10 skill
Assuming you have +5 hit, the numbers become...
5.6% block for say 80% damage (depends on a lot of things)
23.6% crit for 200% damage (impale doesnt work!)
40% glancing blow for 70% damage
30.8% no damage
so per swing its an average of .056 * .8 + .236 *2 + .4 * .7 
= 79.68% of your damage per swing
With +5 hit and +10 skill its
5.2% block for say 80% damage (depends on a lot of things)
25.2% crit for 200% damage (impale doesnt work!)
40% glancing blow for 100% damage
34.6% no damage
so per swing its an average of .052 * .8 + .252 *2 + .4 * 1 
= 94.56% of your damage per swing
(94.56 - 79.68)/79.68 = 18.7% white damage increase with +10 skill

Itemization

Itemization for +weapon skill is extremely lacking. The following is a complete list of all items with +weapon skill

Item+ SkillSlotType
Daggers
Distracting Dagger+6OffhandDagger
Death's Sting+3One-HandDagger
Skilled Fighting Blade+4One-HandDagger
Aged Core Leather Gloves+5HandsLeather
Circlet of Restless Dreams+6HeadLeather
Mugger's Belt+5WaistLeather
Edgemaster's Handguards+7HandsMail
Swords
Maladath+4One HandedSword
The Twin Blades of Hakkari+6Main + OffhandSet Bonus
Edgemaster's Handguards+7HandsMail
The Hungering Cold+6One HandedSword
Axes
Zulian Hacker+2One Handed Axe
Expert Goldminer's Helmet+7Head Leather
Edgemaster's Handguards+7HandsMail
Maces
Anubisath Warhammer+4One HandedMace
Sceptre of Smiting+2One HandedMace
2H Swords
Obsidian Edged Blade+8Two HandedSword
2H Axes
Huge Thorium Battleaxe+10Two HandedAxe
Dwarven Tree Chopper+2Two HandedAxe
2H Maces
Servomechanic Sledgehammer+8Two HandedMace
Bows
The Eye of Nerub+4Two Handed Polearm
Infernal Trickster Leggings+4Legs Mail
Trueaim Gauntlets+8HandsMail
Marksman Bands+2BracersMail
Sash of the Grand Hunt+2BeltMail
Crossbows
The Eye of Nerub+4Two Handed Polearm
Stoneshatter+4RangedCrossbow
Trueaim Gauntlets+8HandsMail
Marksman Bands+2BracersMail
Sash of the Grand Hunt+2BeltMail
Guns
The Eye of Nerub+4Two Handed Polearm
Flawless Arcanite Rifle+4RangedGun
Trueaim Gauntlets+8HandsMail
Marksman Bands+2BracersMail
Sash of the Grand Hunt+2BeltMail

Talents

Rogues:

  • Weapon Expertise talent increases skill with Swords, Fists and Daggers by 3 (rank 1) or by 5 (rank 2)
  • Mace Specialization talent increases skill with Maces by 1 per talent point spent (max 5).

Racial Bonuses

  • Humans: +5 sword skill, +5 mace skill, +5 two-handed sword skill, +5 two-handed mace skill
  • Dwarves: +5 gun skill
  • Orcs: +5 axe skill, +5 two-handed axe skill
  • Trolls: +5 bow skill, +5 throwing weapon skill

Weapon Skills Under Change in Future

In PTR Patch Notes 2.0.1, weapon skill receive such changes

- Weapon Skill now does the following:

- Weapon skill will no longer reduce the percentage damage lost due to glancing.

- The player will gain 0.1% to their critical strike rating per weapon skill against monsters above their level.

Other effect yet to be determined.

Sources

Slant's ToHit FAQ

Zoroaster's Crit, Hit, Weapon Skill and damage formulas

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