Fictional reader letter:

Halp!  I got a new piece of gear and I should be overjoyed, right?  But now I’m over hit cap.  I can shuffle a few things around to shed some hit, but I want to keep my 2 piece bonus – and don’t know which 2 pieces I should keep.  I have a bunch of sidegrades in the bank, but it’s hard to know which ones would be useful.

OK, help is on the way.  It’s called RAWR.

Rawr is a lovely program that analyzes your gear together with your spec and buffs.  The value of each piece of gear isn’t based solely on the ilvl of the item like gearscore, but rather is calculated for your maximum potential dps.  Each piece of gear is analyzed based on the rest of your gear (and your spec and your buffs) and how it contributes to your gear set as a whole.

Rawr is very smart.

  • It knows all the relevant caps for your spec, class, and buffs combined.  It will tell you when you’re overcapped and suggest alternatives.
  • It knows what stats are good and what stats are mediocre for you.
  • It knows what gems and enchants you should use.  This analysis is based on your spec, gear, and buffs.
  • It knows the value of set bonuses.

Ready to get started?  OK!  Don’t be afraid.  If I can do it, you can do it.

Setting Up

Download Rawr

I’m not going to lie – this takes a while.  It’s a huge hog.  And it seems like they update it every week and you will need to download a new one.

Then unzip.  This takes a while too.

Launch the program and select your class and, if applicable, spec.  If you can’t select it because it immediately defaults to druid – bear (mine did)… then select your race, class, and spec in the dropdown.

What about Rawr 3.0 Beta?

You can load the beta in the browser, but it doesn’t have all the features implemented yet.  Stick to the release version.

Import Your Armory Toon

You’re going to want to import your toon so you don’t have to manually fill in spec, current gear, etc.  You can use this as a starting point for comparison.

1.  Make sure you log out in the correct spec and gear.

2. Import!

3.  “Save as”.  That way you can revert back to your toon’s default without reimporting.

Set Your Buffs

This matters because you’re trying to maximize your DPS in a raid setting.  If you run with a 25-crew, chances are that you will have all relevant buffs when you are pewpewing.  If you are part of a 10-person team, you may have to be more selective in picking out your “usual buffs.”  For example, I almost never have the luxury of replenishment, dammit.

What if the boomkin sometimes shows up and sometimes does not?  That will drastically change what Rawr calculates for your necessary spell hit cap.  In such a situation, where it’s a pretty crucial buff, you should go through the process of evaluating your gear with the buff, and then repeat for without the buff.

You can, of course, save your toon with various buff “sets” so that you don’t have to repeat the tedious buff setup procedure.

Set Up Other Stuff? Noes!

Honestly, I leave the rest of these settings alone because I’m not “special snowflake” enough to have a unique rotation. Also, whatever value rawr puts on damage versus survivability is OK with me.  But if you want to mess around with that wacky stuff… do it later.  After you’re more comfortable with Rawr.

Finding and Evaluating Upgrades

Is this One Piece An Upgrade?

Well… maybe?  Set up your toon, input your buffs, and swap in the piece.  Did your “number” increase or go down?

If your number did not increase, why not? Check for stats with an asterisk next to them. Those stats are over or under cap (hover over the stat to see by how much you are over/under).  Maybe your new piece wasn’t that great because it simply put you over cap.Maybe you can re-gem to fix that problem.  (You can select your current gear pieces with different gems in them in the simulation and see if that helps.)

Rawr’s Suggested Upgrades

Rawr will suggest upgrades, in that the list for each slot is ordered in upgrade value order. But remember: one piece of gear can change everything, and suddenly your “upgrade” isn’t an upgrade anymore. Gloves that are an upgrade now may not be an upgrade after you replace your chest piece. If you are thinking of purchasing multiple items with badges, make sure the whole set works together before you plop down your hard-earned badges.

Is this Set Bonus Worth It?

Again, take your current set, and swap in the set pieces… see if your number goes up.  Your number may go down with the first set piece, only to go back up once you achieve the bonus.

It shocked the crap out of me when, for kitty, 2 piece t8.5 + 2 piece t9 was better than 4 piece t9.  It does that math for you.  Hooray for not doing math.

Optimize Feature

This is what I call the “Rawr shuffle”. A piece that is not an “upgrade” with your current gear may very well be able to be combined with gear available to you (sidegrades in the bank, badge items) to upgrade your overall set. This is particularly true if the piece in question is a huge upgrade in overall stats, but it puts you way over cap on a crucial stat.

1. Mark all gear easily available to you for each slot (mark the gear piece by clicking the diamond next to it). All the stuff you’re wearing (which should be already selected), all the stuff in your bank, and anything that you can easily buy with badges (either you have all the badges, or you are about to).

2. Click “Optimize”

3. Rawr will highlight things that you should swap (the blank slots mean that Rawr thinks you should keep your current gear in that slot). Sometimes it’s just a gem. Sometimes it’s a big shuffle, causing you to dig out random “retired” pieces from your bank.


I hate to say it, but Optimize isn’t foolproof. If you only have enough badges for 2 pieces of t-10, you can’t configure Optimize to spit out only 2 pieces. If you say all the pieces of t-10 are “available” to you, then you might end up with your “best” possible gear set being 5 pieces of t-10, which you can’t yet afford (though now you will know that it’s something to aim for!).

So we’re gonna have to do some swapping. Manually. Oh the tedium! Optimize the gear set based on having the legs and chest available to you. Repeat with the legs and shoulders available. Etc… Write down your numbers every time. Sure, you have to optimize multiple times with multiple fictional gear sets, but in the end you will know which pieces will give you the most bang for your buck, given the rest of your gear.

I just did this – and Rawr says: hey get 5 pieces of tier 10. However, I will have enough badges for 4 pieces – gloves, shoulders, and 2 of the “large” pieces.

So I optimized 3 times swapping in and out the large pieces. I set the gloves and shoulders as constants.

  1. t-10 Pants + t-10 Chest + any available hat = 9432
  2. t-10 Pants + t-10 Hat + any available chest = 9431
  3. t-10 Chest + t-10 Hat + any available pants = 9491

Ding ding, we have a winner. I know that with what I currently have or can easily get, buying the chest and hat will give me more bang for my buck. If I get an upgrade ANYWHERE on my gear set between now and the date I have enough badges for the purchase, I will run the simulation again.

Healing, what what?

I don’t use Rawr for healing. You can, and Lissanna has a good article on how, but I prefer not to. The reason is that, at least for me, a lot of healing is by “feel”. If healing “feels” too slow, people might die. If I run out of mana at the end of a fight, then mana regen is too low, period. Unlike DPS, bigger isn’t necessarily better. Bigger might lead to overheal. Also, the “right heal for the job” isn’t the same as a DPS rotation. Different healers will use their spells differently, and that is OK! So I might use Rawr as a mock-up to see “if I got the 4 piece t-10, what would my haste be?” but I rarely use “optimize.”


Using Rawr for DPS (it does math so you don’t have to) — 8 Comments

  1. Does this include the new Rawr 3.0 they’ve been developing, or is this just the downloadable one? I’ve been using the hosted one over at Elitist Jerks and have had some good results with it :)

    • I tried Rawr 3.0 but there were a few features marked Not Yet Implemented (NYI) that I wanted to use.  I think it’s not quiiite done.

  2. Awesome! I’ve been wanting to try something like RAWR, now that I have an article on how to do it, I will definitely give it a try. I’ve been skipping my T10 4pc bonus because I have gear that individually is better, but not sure if the bonus outweighs it.. I’m assuming that RAWR would be able to tell me?

    • It probably would – with the caveat that if the rest of your gear didn’t play nice with the 4pc set (for whatever reason) it might not be worth it.

  3. Toppest tips wot I have learned when playing with Rawr:
    1) Go into the options and in General Settings you’ll find a tickbox to show you the names of the buff sources, which show up as  “Sanctified Retribution (Ret Paladin)” etc. Handy if you can’t remember who gives what buff
    2) Also in the general options is the ability to include the names of gems as well as their stat values. For the dopey (i.e. me) this is handy.
    3) Each class-specific module has its own little quirks and individual options. For example, the Holy Paladin module WILL NOT show you any items which have spirit or hit by default. Yes, I know holydins don’t stack spirit (or hit), but that doesn’t help me much with my noobish healing set gathered from spare badges and unwanted raid drops, does it Mr Rawr?
    4) In the Tools menu, there’s an option “Refine Types of Items Listed”. This allows you to choose whether to include gear types “below” you (i.e. cloth for leather wearers, leather & cloth for mail wearers etc). As, depending on your gear, items from a lower armour type are often BIS it’s best to check this.
    5) The ret paladin module always seems to reset the priorities on the FCFS (rotation) simulator. *grumble*
    6) Don’t forget to go to the gems dropdown and mark available any gems you don’t have currently equipped which are appropriate. That way optimise can diddle with your gems properly too.
    7) If you are a nerd like me, and your class’s module supports it, you can probably view a graph of stat values. On the Ret module, it’s a button marked “stat graph”. On the mage module, the stats graph is in “slot” dropdown somewhere. Here you can see the relative scaling of different stats and any plateaus (softcaps, hardcaps, practical boundaries). It’s fascinating.
    No, really, it is.
    IT IS!

    • Usually optimize automatically marks the item I have with various gem configurations when I select the item.  I select one diamond, and 3 pop up.

  4. I use Rawr with a large gain of salt.  Rawr keeps telling me to get more hit despite me being well over the hit cap with talents and buffs.  I use it more to give me a rough idea as to what is an upgrade for my main  (Elemental) and as a strong recommendation for my alts which I’m not overly familiar with.

    I prefer to run my own numbers independently.

    • I am shocked and appalled that Rawr gets something as basic as hit rating WRONG.

      For me, I generally DIY my gear for casters (healers or dps) and use Rawr for my kitteh because I’m just a moron when it comes to expertise, crit, arpen, and all that other junk.