But what about dual wield?

[edit.  Much of this is, while accurate, misleading.  Please read More Melee for clarity.]I just finished discussing one vs two hander. And inevitably, “fine, but I use dual wield” comes up. Let’s start with the bottom lines, and then go to numbers, ok?

Before you add talents, spells, enchants, or other specials, two handers do the most DPS, single hand is second, and dual wield is last. If you are looking at flat base DPS, this is the important line.


Before you add talents, spells, enchants and other specials, the most hits per battle will be done by dual wield, followed by single hand, followed by two handers.

Let’s break some numbers.

Again, let’s stick with a nominal fact – a 2 hander does 1.33 times the DPS of its 1 handed cousin. Let’s add a second nominal fact. A 2 hander tends to be 50% slower than its 1 handed cousin. So if your one-hand has a weapon speed of 2, its two handed version will be about 3.

We need to add one more fact – hit chance. The base chance of hitting with a one and two handed weapon is 95%. Yes, it can be adjusted both by +hit gear and talents, not to mention the fun of fighting mobs and players of other levels than ours. But I’m sticking to the basics here. So basically, for our sub-40 player, the base chance to hit is 95%. Dual wield has an additional 19% penalty, which means that EACH weapon wielded has a hit chance of 76%.

One more fact and we can get to thinking about the implications. When dual wielding, the offhand weapon does 50% its normal damage.

With this, we can figure the “true” dps of all three category of weapon. We’ll assume our nominal 10 dps onehand – adjust to your level.

Our one hand is .95 * 10 = 9.5 DPS.

Our two hand is .95 * 1.33 * 10 = 12.635 DPS

Our dual wield is (.76 * 10) + (.76 * 10 * .5) = (.76 * 15) = 9.234 DPS

“But,” you cry, “Then why bother dual wielding? I mean, besides it looking cool and everything…” Because of talents and spells and enchants.

The rogue’s got a talent (or did, haven’t checked recently) that makes the offhand have a damage of .75 instead of .5. For that player, the dual wield is (.76 * 17.5) = 13.3 DPS. That’s pretty much a no-brainer. For the other players, the magic is in the number of hits. (Actually this matters to the rogue too, but we’ll ignore those scurvy fellows for a bit, shall we?)

The magic phrase, regardless of talent/spell/enchant, is “chance on hit”. “chance to” is a proc per minute effect, which means you’ll get that many over a minute regardless how many times you hit. Well, with some “instant” caveats that I’m not going into at this time. Anyway, “chance on hit” is a flat percentage chance, and the more often you hit the more often you’ll see this proc. One limiter to it, of course, is what’s called the “hidden cooldown”. Some serious theorycrafters think they’ve identified some of these – times when regardless what the odds say, if it’s too soon, the proc just doesn’t trigger. I’m going to ignore this too, for a moment – basics, remember?

Let’s assume our nominal WS2 single (and dual wield)/ WS3 twohand in a full one-minute fight. (I know, but we need the time to see the effect). Remember our hit chances apply.

Single is 60 (seconds in a minute) / 2 (second per swing) * .95 (chance swing hits) = 28.5 hits per minute (HPM)

Dual is 2 (weapons) * 60 / 2 * .76 (all the rest same sequence) = 45.6 hpm

Two-hand is 60 / 3 * .95 = 19 hpm.

So anything “on hit” is almost three times as likely with dual wield as it is with a two hander.

Which means that if frequency of hit is the key, dual wield wins.

One more bit of adjustment before I quit, though it’s not going to apply to the under 40 crowd – in fact, probably not for anyone under 60 for the most part. That’s a return to that bit about “hit rate”.

If you plan to dual wield “just because”, then +hit gear is extremely important. Remember that our “base” DPS is 9.234, and the two-hander blows it away with12.635. Let’s assume, for a moment, that you get enough hit rating to cap both – 99% all the way around. Yes, the twohand wielder needed less +hit than you, but bear with me.

2hand: .99 * 1.33 * 10 = 13.167.

Dual: .99 * 15 = 14.85

Yeah, that’s the ticket. So to repeat myself…

If you’ve no talents or other multipliers, then for DPS consideration alone 2 hand beats 1 hand beats dual wield. For number of hits per interval, dual wield beats one hand beats two hand.

Which is better depends on what you need. Plus, of course, what talents, enchants, gear, and other things you have which shift the numbers. Still, there’s the basics.

Have fun.


~ by Kirk on May 14, 2008.

One Response to “But what about dual wield?”

  1. You wanna check your math? For me, 15 * 0.76 = 11.4. And second, physical attacks, unlike spells, cap at 100%, so your hit-capped 2-hander vs dual-wield = 13.3 vs. 15.

    Oddly, shamans are the only class that can make the hit cap vs. raid bosses with yellow attacks with only talents. But only when dual wielding.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: