I play a Warlock, which is a pure DPS class, which means I play a class with all three specs for the (specifically caster) DPS role. As a pure DPS in the raiding scene, I’m expected to play all three of my specs to a decent standard, even if I prefer one of them as my mainspec. Since Wrath of the Lich King (patches 3.X), we’ve been used to a dual spec, which means I’ve been quite used to playing at least two of my three specs in raid settings, without any game mechanic barrier to switching between the two (other than being out of combat), and reaching the third by adding another Warlock to my character slots or by switching that second spec around often.
In Legion, we can swap specs freely out of combat such that dual-spec is opening up to tri-spec for us, but our standard of competency within spec-swapping will still be limited by a new factor: artifact weapons. Artifact weapons have a main tree of 34 traits and then a 20-stack trait that increases all damage done after the main tree is finished. The catch is that each artifact is leveled independently of the other specs, all of them using a resource called Artifact Power, which the player gains as a character to spend on one spec or another. So while my main spec might have a fully powered artifact weapon, my other two specs will be incomplete in varying degrees of lagging behind.
So my question going into Legion is: how well can I dual-spec and possibly tri-spec? Given what we know about artifacts, Artifact Power (AP), and the catch-up mechanic for Artifact Power, Artifact Knowledge (AK), I decided to try to find out.
I initially copied and modified a spreadsheet by Kerriodos of <Temerity> US-Windrunner that had some early AK levels and all of the total AP levels.
I then found & was linked a spreadsheet going around about the maximum AP levels as well as some extrapolation using targeted daily values of AP grinds to see, with AK progression in mind, how long it would take to reach a certain trait rank. The sheet has Discord name Kib#2498 as the owner.
- My modified version of Kerriodos’s + some multispeccing total AP costs
- My sheet of artifact gold trait lines + 1-bar-AP
- AK — Artifact Knowledge
- AK# — Artifact Knowledge rank #
- AP — Artifact Power
- MS — MainSpec
- OS — OffSpec
- WQ — World Quest
Multispec or multispeccing: I’m defining “multispeccing” as keeping two or more artifact weapons up to a determined trait rank (equals) or set of trait ranks (MS/OS) such that I could play both/all chosen multispecs to a reasonably competitive degree.
“Reasonably competitive degree” is intentionally vague because I want to leave it open to further determination of AP ranks involved as determined by the writer as to how hardcore or casual a mindset is involved. “Reasonably competitive degree” therefore means whatever you have to do to keep that spec to the standards you want to uphold in whatever content you’re playing.
My particular version of “reasonably competitive degree” doesn’t mean that I’ve kept them to their fullest or best degree, just that I’ve hit the point where I’m accomplishing the DPS to pull my weight on a boss fight. It means I can be in a group to do that fight, not that I will necessarily pwn it or be the best class/spec at it. This is usually measured by my mainspec’s advancement, such that my offspec is within 2-3 traits of my mainspec.
AP trait or rank: I use these interchangeably almost but with a subtle difference.
When I talk ranks, I’m usually talking about the experience bar aspect of it, so I’m referring to that amount of AP you need to get the next trait, or being in the middle of completing that rank/trait.
When I talk traits, I’m usually talking about the progression line to a gold trait, or the act of completing a rank’s worth of AP by picking a specific trait.
This is made even more confusing because I might say “I’m at trait 13” meaning that I’ve gotten/spent 13 traits and I’m actually “in”/progressing on rank 14.
Total AP spent while multispeccing
It’s quite obvious that the more weapons you try to keep current, the more work on gaining AP you’re going to have to do. The first question I set off to explore was to see how much more effort was involved — would I have to go balls-to-the-wall hardcore grinding AP to multispec at all or would I be able to be fairly casual about things while still keeping specs reasonable up to date?
The common argument against multispeccing artifacts is that whatever you spent in your offspec is wasted AP that you didn’t spend in your mainspec. So I decided to look at how much keeping two/three/four specs equal or slightly apart would compare to the rank you would have if you had spent all that AP in one artifact weapon. If all AP ranks were equal in amount of AP per rank, then logic holds that it’ll take you two, three, four times the AP gain to keep as many specs up. However, AP ranks increase in value as they go up, so the amount of AP you need for rank 2 is more than you needed for rank 1, etc., such that spending X amount of AP across two specs doesn’t necessarily translate to the combined total of ranks in one spec.
I did 1x artifact for a base comparison, 2x equal ranks (dual-spec or Demon Hunter all-specs case), 3x equal ranks (pure DPS all-specs case), 4x equal ranks (Druid all-specs case), and a dual-spec MS/OS case where the OS constantly trails the MS by 3 ranks. I totaled up all the AP spent in both/all specs at a given rank of the mainspec and using the 1x artifact guide, I found approximately where the equivalent 1x artifact spending rank would be, including partial progress into a rank.
And then I graphed it.
- In the spreadsheet for a way bigger & interactive picture, it’s the Equiv AP in artifacts tab.
- The horizontal axis (X) is the number of traits spent in the mainspec, whether it is leading or equal to the rank of the other spec(s).
- The vertical axis (Y) is the equivalent rank progress you would have if you had put into one artifact all the AP spread across your multiple spec artifacts.
- You’d look up the rank X of your two equal artifacts, looking along the red dotted line to find the Y equivalent rank progress.
- Colored lines:
- blue = 1x artifact
- red = 2x equals
- yellow = 3x equals
- green = 4x equals
- purple = MS/OS
Some error analysis & where I might do it differently
The graphs only go up to a maxed out artifact (54 traits = 34 main tree + 20 hidden/flat increase traits) on the vertical axis, because I don’t know how I should compare after that. Perhaps I should have done a percent of the last rank (54th) or perhaps, when I have more time to make sure I’ve done it properly, I can see how far into a second one-go artifact you would have done.
Either way, I decided to show how far each of my multispeccing samples would go within the bounds of one 54-traits artifact, since the argument against multispeccing is usually concerned with the detriment to the mainspec artifact, not caring so much about when the other specs will also be complete.
I also could have explored the more pure-DPS appropriate situation of a raiding tier split between all three specs, MS/OS/OS, where you have one mainspec and two offspecs of different trailing ranks, but I didn’t think of it at the time, and I will may update later when I want to do that amount of work. Besides, raid tiers are most commonly split between two specs of the same pure DPS class, although this is possibly due to our dual-spec history influencing raidwide encounter design. For example, in Hellfire Citadel’s 13 fights, Warlocks are swapping between Affliction and Destruction on most fights, with only one fight (Kormrok) being notable for a strong Demonology showing.
Again, the bigger sheet version is here if you want interaction with specific values, but the picture is enough to get my main point across.
The blue line (1x Artifact) is straight y=x, because as the base identity spec setup here, the x-axis and y-axis are measuring the same thing. Our previous simple logic is also apparent here, that keeping up fewer traits at a time spends less AP, such that keeping the MS/OS going at a 3-trait difference will be less AP than keeping two specs equal. However, spending the least AP is not my question — I knew going in that it would take more AP to keep 2+ specs going at once — I’m asking how far behind is multispeccing compared to filling one artifact.
Looking at the graph you notice two spots where the lines either converge at a plateau or branch off into much more AP than usual. I’m going to discuss the graph backwards, starting with the end of the graph, because the beginning of the graph is more fun and rolls better into the discussion of how I explored AK’s effects.
Hidden trait break-off
The spot where all the lines start to break off from each other late in the graph is where the AP rank curve for one artifact really ramps up in the millions of AP — right where you’ve finished the main tree of 34 traits and where you begin the hidden/flat increase traits.
I looked at how many hidden traits you would have had in the 1x Artifact scenario given the AP you spent in the multispeccing samples around the main tree completion mark (rank 34), and then using the Warlock hidden trait increase amounts, I estimated how much percent damage increase you would be missing from the mainspec had you put everything into one artifact.
|Percent damage increase missing from mainspec
due to multispeccing hidden traits
|Rank||2x Equals||3x Equals||4x Equals||1xMS/1xOS|
The important catch here is how much that first hidden trait at rank 35 gives you in flat damage increase, which in the case of Warlocks is 5%, with rank 36 at 6% damage increase, and the rest of the ranks proceeding at probably a 0.5% increase that gets rounded in a tooltip after that (37 = 6%, 38 = 7%, 39 = 7%, etc.). Since even missing the first hidden trait into a mainspec is enough of a missed increase, once you get past rank 30-31 in any spec, you need to decide which is your mainspec and stick to it.
Even if we started with a multispeccing optimistic 1% instead of 5%, theorycrafters would argue that missing out on even 3 hidden traits (~2-3% damage increase) would border on too much to sacrifice for a mainspec. But with the 5% first trait, it’s already out of the question to spend into any hidden traits outside of your mainspec, even if you play a little more casually than the world-first raider.
That middle part of all-straight(-ish) lines
So, if you can’t multispec into hidden traits, do you need to stop earlier, or can you multispec up until that point?
The bulk of your main tree trait acquisition (ranks 14-34) has a mostly straight line for all of the multispeccing samples I graphed out, which means you’re at a relatively constant rank difference from one artifact’s worth when multispeccing. This rank difference does widen near the end of the main tree (ranks 33-34), which is the point we already determined from the hidden trait line discussion when we need to pick a mainspec.
My conclusion is that you can multispec up to finishing your main tree, depending on two factors: a) the effort you want to put into the grind, and b) your definition of “reasonably competitive degree” of performance based off your specific artifacts’ impacts on your specs.
You can continue dual-speccing like we have been doing without too much rank difference between your given specs, but to keep up tri-spec and quad-spec, you’ll definitely need to put more time into the game. Tri-speccing and quad-speccing result in about double to triple the 1-artifact rank dip that even the heaviest dual-spec setup has (2x Equals), and this bigger extra AP effort may be further restricted by daily AP limitations like world quests.
The short version:
|Rank difference range between multispeccing & 1x artifact spending|
|Rank||2x Equals||3x Equals||4x Equals||1xMS/1xOS|
The long version:
|Rank difference between multispeccing & 1x artifact spending|
|Rank||2x Equals||3x Equals||4x Equals||1xMS/1xOS|
If you look at the AP ranks in one artifact, you don’t even need this multispec graph to notice a bump in AP gain early on. You will spend more AP to get trait 14 (6840 AP) than you spent for all of traits 1-13 combined (6500 total AP). Similarly, there’s a bump and then plateau in this range of ranks for all multispeccing samples.
|Equivalent Trait Rank per spent AP|
|MS Rank||2x Equals||3x Equals||4x Equals||1xMS/1xOS|
Even when I go as far as keep four specs at the same rank, everything seems to catch up in AP spent at around rank 13-14 and then breaks back out to a steady but higher climb again at rank 14-15. This plateau was weird but didn’t make much sense until I got to my analysis of how AK affects AP gain.
Impact of Artifact Knowledge for offspecs
For alts, Artifact Knowledge may or may not be of some help. I’m not sure what the AK research rate is, since my older Warlock has a longer research time than my newer Druid does. However, my Warlock’s AK research time just went up from 2 days to 3 days to 4 days, so it’s possible that the research rate is fluid depending on how much AK you have researched, which at this point (12 July 2016) is only up to AK 12 or 13, only a month since the AK system debuted in mid-June in its currently tuned pace.
But I’m talking here about offspecs, which can benefit from AK being researched while smaller AP spending occurs in the mainspec.
AK affects the AP gain from an AP item; AK doesn’t affect the total AP you have to gain to get the next trait. So my analysis of total AP spent across multispecs is still relevant regardless of what AK I may or may not have at the time, because we’re spending that amount of AP regardless of AK ranks.
My questions always come back to “but why does it matter,” and for AK, it’s to make the grind feel like less of a grind. The most visceral impact I thought comes from watching your trait rank fill up with AP on your experience bar that sits across your action bars on the default UI. Most players express how far they are into or away from a level in terms of of the little 5% bars that split up the big experience bar. Getting one bar of AP is visually visceral to the player, so I set off to see how much AP per trait you’d need to get 1 bar (5%).
Kib’s sheet tackles looking at AK and AP together in a progression picture, looking at how long it would take to reach certain traits, given AK and AP available in daily forms like world quests and dungeons. I wanted an example, not a complete prediction, so I chose the daily first heroic dungeon of the day AP reward, which is 400 AP at its base.
Click the image for a bigger picture; click here for the spreadsheet tab.
The lightest grey text on the bottom left of the table is where the amount of AP gained from doing a daily heroic was deemed too small to be very noticeable on the AP rank experience bar (0.25 of a bar is the lowest I figured one would care).
The light (but not lightest) grey text on the upper right corner of the table is where the amount of AP gained from doing a daily heroic is worth entire AP ranks, essentially where you are collecting 20 * 5% bars (100%) or more of AP.
The highlighted grey cells are where the amount of AP gained from doing a daily heroic is between 0.75 and 1.25 of a bar, since a quarter of a bar was my lowest “visual” amount I would go.
The 1-bar or 5% amounts are colored just so I could see the magnitudes more easily when I was originally thinking through this.
- Orange is ranks 1-13 where 5% < 100 AP.
- Yellow is ranks 14-21 where 5% < 2,000 AP.
- Green is ranks 22-29 where 5% < 20,000 AP.
- Blue is ranks 30-32 where 5% < 40,000 AP.
- Purple is ranks 33 & 34 where 5% < 80,000 AP.
- 35+ ranks are left white because they are hidden traits, where I expect the AP gain to be ridiculously grindy anyway.
Curiously, AK0 starts with your daily heroic giving you just over 1 bar of AP at rank 14 — which is right where the AP levels off in the multispeccing spending graph — almost like you’re supposed to be 110 and starting AK at that point. The AK ranks then proceed down the trait ranks, keeping each new trait in line with each new rank of AK granting a daily heroic as approximately 1 bar. AK24 and AK25 finish up right at the main tree completion by granting 1 bar of AP around ranks 35-36, where you start your hidden traits.
What about trait progression?
While AP numbers are important for completion of traits, many players would argue that some specific traits are more important to a spec than others, so the question of being competent or not depends less on when do you get all of your traits and more on when do you get the ones that impact you the most.
At the moment, SimulationCraft isn’t complete with Warlock default profiles and numbers tuning is still occurring in beta builds, and will probably still occur until at least the Mythic race gets underway, so I’m not confident in picking out particular Warlock traits as definitely more important than others (I can guess fairly well, but I’m a guidewriter mainspec, theorycrafter offspec).
Gold traits are visually distinctive as milemarkers for progress in the artifact tree completion, but looking at even the three Warlock specs, it’s obvious that not everyone gets to a gold trait at the same trait rank every time. Even within a spec, it depends on the path you’ve taken to get to a gold trait.
I set out to look at what ranks each Warlock spec might arrive at a gold trait and finish their artifacts. I decided to try priorities of getting all three gold traits as fast as possible as well as trying to pick the bigger PvE endgame impact trait when I had a choice of path to take. Although those who like to make snap judgments won’t read this line, these artifact paths are by no means final or best-in-slot progressions; they are simply examples to explore AP progression with.
Click the picture for a bigger picture; click here for the spreadsheet tab. Purple shaded cells are the artifact active abilities followed by the freebie 1st rank. Yellow shaded cells are the gold traits.
Affliction and Demonology proceed along their shortest paths at about the same pace, only being one rank off by the last gold trait. Destruction can get two gold traits more quickly but then has to make up that length in getting the final gold trait.
Affliction’s progress varies most on which of a handful of choice traits the player picks. Notably, two interesting traits Compounding Horror and Fatal Echoes are not gold traits, but are out of the way or in between nonessential traits. Thus, Affliction can be delayed in getting gold traits if they try to pick these two unique traits up or they will have to wait to pick these two up to get to all the gold traits first.
Demonology’s artifact tree shape is not only symmetrical but also circular, so its length of progression is rather fixed no matter which way the player decides, so long as the player is going for gold traits over regular traits.
Destruction has its two shortest paths to gold traits also directly next to the freebie 1st rank and the active artifact ability, so it will likely go for those traits first. The gold trait Dimensional Ripper is at the bottom of the staff shape, and has the longest gold trait length (11) from the freebie rank of any of the Warlock specs, so it will take longer to get that gold trait whether it goes first or not.
So how does my gold trait progression fit into the AP and AK pictures? Even if it’s not temporally possible to have researched AK X by AP rank Y gained by the player, let’s look at where we might be if we were able to keep that daily heroic = 1 bar AP pace going while spending in a mainspec only.
- Rank 8-9 / sub-110: I’ll get my first gold trait, which is probably going to be during leveling close to 110 (if not, just after hitting 110 and doing world quests), depending on how leveling sources of AP go.
- Rank 13-14 / AK0: When the AP curve starts to get rough and I need to research AK, I’ll be about halfway to my second gold trait.
- Rank 15-16 / AK1-2: I have my second gold trait, and I’m probably at AK1 or AK2 if I’m keeping up with my daily heroic 1-bar pace.
- Ranks 23-26 / AK10-13: I’m approaching or grabbing my third and final gold trait. AK10 to AK13 is where I’ll be if I keep the daily heroic to the 1-bar pace.
- Rank 34 / AK22-23: I’ve finished my main artifact tree and have picked a spec to begin spending hidden traits in. I’m almost done with AK research to the current known cap, if I can keep the research going at the daily heroic 1-bar pace.
- Rank 35+ / AK25+: At this point, it’s a grind no matter how you slice it, so I don’t see the point of bitching about it.
If I’m catching up an offspec quickly after having finished out a mainspec, what ranks of AK help me quickly gain specific rank levels?
- AK# = covers Rank A-B in a daily heroic
- AK5 = Ranks 1-13 (1.5 Gold+): AK5 means that your daily heroic provides enough AP to cover ranks 1-13 in one go.
- AK15 = Ranks 1-16 (2 Gold+): It takes AK13 to cover that one additional rank above 13; go to AK 15 if you want to be sure of grabbing 2 gold traits in one daily heroic AP reward.
- AK20 = Ranks 1-20 (2.5 Gold+): I found it nifty that AK20 means the daily heroic AP reward covers 20 ranks in one go.
- AK25 = Ranks 1-24 (3 Gold fastest): You don’t quite get a full rank 25 from AK25 doing a daily heroic, but considering you’ll be doing other things alongside that, you can easily get to 25 or 26 within a couple days, thus definitely nabbing your third gold trait.
- So far, AK doesn’t reach such that 1x daily heroic would net you your entire artifact tree. However, that’s probably a good thing.
Are these relations realistic to what’s happening on beta? I’m not confident that my artifact weapons have been good examples of multispeccing, as I’ve been darting back and forth between specs all beta long in an effort to cover all the Warlock things.
I asked Ranor as a mainspec Mistweaver (MW) researching from day 1 of AK, who recently caught up his offspec Windwalker (WW) weapon, how his artifact traits and AK was going. At AK 12, Ranor’s MW weapon was at rank 23, and he was able to get 1-14 very easily with his AK 12, only having to work a little bit through world quests and some dungeon runs to get his WW weapon up to rank 16. So this seems actually reasonable compared to how beta is shaping up in terms of Artifact Knowledge pacing when it comes to both mainspec progression and speedy offspec catch-up.
More than half your artifact progression in one activity?! Isn’t this being a bit TOO hyperbolic about a lot of reward for not much effort? Yes, you could get almost 25 ranks of AP within a daily heroic provided you had AK25. However, to get AK 25, even if research for every rank of AK were down to 1 day, you’d have to spend nearly a month of daily research logins to get to AK25 to begin with. You might as well be playing the rest of the game including other AP sources at that point. Furthermore, if AK research is slower like 4-5 days, it’s going to take something like 3 months to max out your AK.
What’s probably more relevant to players is how much AK helps you once you’re in the thick of AP ranks (the 20s ranks), rather than looking at the pure catch-up of a 1-X gain. You can look at the full spreadsheet for details, but in summary, higher AK in higher ranks of AP keeps the grind interesting without being totally effort-negated by insane all-in-one gains. At AK10-20, in the 20s ranks of AP, you’re getting AP in terms of multiple 5% bars (juuuuuust riiiiight!) rather than in terms of slivers of bars (too grindy!) or in terms of entire ranks (too fast!).
Can you multispec in Legion? Yes, to an extent. The extent continues to depend on what each player considers to be reasonably competitive in whatever endgame content they are attempting.
All-speccing is viable through the first gold traits of all specs. Dual-speccing is definitely viable through the main artifact tree progressions; tri-speccing and quad-speccing are not recommended due to extra effort involved, but can probably be done if really wanted. Ultimately, players will want to choose a single mainspec when they reach hidden traits in any spec, for these require so much Artifact Power that multispeccing hidden traits requires vastly more effort than most players would be willing to put forth.
Offspec gains can be sped up and completed in a single daily heroic reward at speeds relative to how much Artifact Knowledge one has. Low AK (AK5) results in 1 gold trait catch-up, medium AK (AK15) results in 2 gold traits catch-up, and current max AK (AK25) results in almost if not 3 gold traits catch-up; however, not even max AK will finish the entire main artifact tree in one daily heroic. Of course, players will be gaining other sources of AP and will not need drastic levels of AP generated in one go, but the point is that a lot of investment into AK research is needed for even hyperbolic gains of AP. AK is currently tuned such that it keeps a long grind viscerally interesting via the visual experience bar where Artifact Points are represented in each trait rank amount.