Some theory – weapon and shield selection
One of the early decisions for a lot of melee – heck, let’s remember I’ve got a shaman and stay with that tight a focus – is whether it’s better to go for one hand weapon plus shield or for two hand weapon.
I wrote, and just killed, a huge post. I hope you’re happy (grin). Let’s do this straight by starting with the conclusion.
The general rule is that you are better served by taking the two hand weapon over one hand and shield. CAVEATS: Talents and enchantments, of course. And assuming we’re talking a pair of weapons of nominal equal level. And if your shield has an armor value of 8.5% or better of your armor cap, you’re probably better off with the one hand and shield. Finally, and not insignificant, I’m talking levels below 40. Now let’s walk the numbers, ok?
Let’s start with a finding I made. In general, when you compare sibling weapons (ie, a one vs two hand of equal level and type) the two-hander will have approximately 25% more DPS than the one hander. That means (in reversal) that the one hander has approximately 2/3 the DPS of the two hander. (tighter example. If the one hander has a DPS of ~15, it’s sibling two hander’s DPS will be approximately 20.)
What this means is that we can kill things approximately 25% faster with the two hander than with the one hander. BUT… we are giving up armor to do so. Now, people get really confused about armor. See, a given armor value adds less armor mitigation as it’s added to higher levels of preceding armor. However, a given armor value adds approximately the same amount of bonus time to live (time till you die) regardless of whether it’s your first armor or it’s what takes you to the cap. In this situation, the time to live is what matters.
If I kill things 25% faster, then this is good if my TTL decreases by less than 25%, and bad if my TTL decreases by more than 25%. Fortunately this turns out to be an easy thing to check.
Assume your base time to live is at zero armor. At your armor cap – 75% armor mitigation – your TTL is 400% your base TTL. Now since the increase is 300%, and since armor points increase TTL linearly, we do not have to do any fancy calculations to figure out what reduces us by 25% TTL. In fact…
Armor cap for levels 1-59 is simplified as 1455 * level (of attacker). That is, a level 20 facing other level 20s needs 29100 armor points to have 75% damage reduction which is 400% base TTL. Now for the magic trick…
29100 / 300 = 97. So every 97 armor points is a 1% change in TTL for a level 20.
Using the two hander kills 25% faster. 25 * 97 means that unless my shield has 2425 armor points, I am better off with the two hander — My increase in killing the mob is greater than it’s increase in speed of killing me. oh, by the way… 2425/29100 = 8.3333…% And final by the way – as a level 20, the “best” armor value shield you can have is the crest of Darkshire, with a whopping 661 Armor. That’s a 6.8% TTL change.
OK, let’s get into all those caveats.
Talents and enchantments, which include the bonuses on the weapon and the shield. The biggest and most obvious is with a two hander you get one enchantment slot, while with one-hand and shield you potentially get two. This might not be insignificant, though it mostly boils down to modifying one of two values – speed of killing and time to live. The latter by increasing your stamina or your armor, the former by increasing your damage potential. Pretty easy, right? Talents… whoo, boy. Pick up a talent that adds damage to one handers, and it definitely changes things. Same deal is, for example, being a warrior who fights in defense stance. The shield matters, suddenly.
Pretty obvious is that this doesn’t apply if your weapons are of equivalent level. I mean, if you’ve got a twink dagger and a basic green two-handed axe, the dagger’s DPS may be a far and away winner. But I expect you to be reasonable here.
Also, and coming back to the talents and such, once you break 40 your abilities — and more importantly the synergy of all the pieces — may make the base rule inapplicable. Of course, once you’re level 60 or better the armor rules change again, too. I’m going to leave that alone for now – I’m low level on this character, I’m just going to do the low level work.
Final caveat not mentioned above – all this is assuming solo work. When you’re in a group, sometimes your GROUP will work better if you give up your uber ability. That slight edge in TTL may mean the group blasts through mobs faster since there’s less stopping for the priest to regain mana, spent racing to keep you the tank alive… yeah. There is no hard and fast rule, here. Recognize the exceptions and adjust accordingly.
But still… in general, for solo work two handed weapon beats one hand plus shield. Just something to consider…
Go have fun.