History of NPC and Item Scaling in MoP

In light of Blizzard’s recent announcement that Flexible Raids are coming in Patch 5.4, I’m going to take a look at various NPC and item scaling tech used previously in Mists of Pandaria. Looking closely at item scaling should help clarify some confusion about trinket procs in general as well.

NPC scaling

In Flex Raiding, the bosses you fight will scale based on the number of players in the raid (between 10-25), while still remaining easier than Normal modes. We’ve previously seen scaling boss abilities in Mists of Pandaria, as well as mobs that scale based on the number of players attacking.

Scaling has been used on outdoor elite mobs in MoP, such as the Isle of Thunder and Battlefield Barrens mobs scaling up in difficulty based on the number of players fighting them. In WoWMartiean‘s Rare Champions of Lei Shen video, you can see Goda’s HP scaling around 2:10.

In MoP’s beta, spell IDs for boss abilities were consolidated for many bosses. This allowed spell IDs for dungeon bosses to scale between Normal, Heroic, and Challenge Modes, and spell IDs for raid bosses to scale between LFR, 10N, 10H, 25N, and 25H. In Patch 5.3, this was also applied to Normal and Heroic scenarios.

A good example is The Lich King’s Defile. Instead of a different ID for each difficulty, they’ve been combined into spell ID 72754. Looking under Effect #1 now displays the following scaling data:

  • School Damage (Shadow)
  • Value: 3000
  • Value: 5000 – 25 Player
  • Value: 6500 – 10 Player (Heroic)
  • Value: 10000 – 25 Player (Heroic)

Another obvious example is looking at Gandling’s Immolate in Scholomance. As it’s used by a level 43 and level 93 NPC, the values under the Effect tab vary greatly, even though the main tooltip text displays the Challenge Mode values.

  • Apply Aura: Periodic Damage
  • Value: 94 to 105 every 3 seconds
  • Value: 9425 to 10575 every 3 seconds – Heroic
  • Value: 60000 every 3 seconds – Challenge Mode

Effect #2 School Damage (Fire)

  • Value: 225
  • Value: 35000 – Heroic
  • Value: 50000 – Challenge Mode

An example of an old boss not affected by this new scaling is Kel’Thuzad. His 10-player Frostbolt is Spell ID 28478 and his 25-player Frostbolt is Spell ID 55802.

Item Scaling

In MoP, items gained the ability to have their base stats modified, both temporarily and permanently. This has allowed gear to temporarily be scaled down to ilvl 463 in Challenge Modes and down to 496 in Arenas and Battlegrounds in Patch 5.3. It’s also allowed for gear to scale up, as is the case with low-level battlegrounds in 5.3 where players get their gear scaled up to the bracket’s maximum level.

In addition, it’s allowed players to permanently modify stats with item upgrades. Previously, each ilvl version of an item strictly corresponded to a different item ID.

With so many versions of an item available in 5.4 (LFR, Flex, Normal, Normal Thunderforged, Heroic, Heroic Thunderforged), there’s also been some consolidation in handling trinket procs which is not completely intuitive.

To facilitate this scaling, spell IDs for trinket procs had to be changed. Pre-MoP, each unique trinket was attached to a different spell ID. The 10-normal version of Muradin’s Spyglass is tied to spell ID 71571 and the Heroic 10 version, is tied to spell ID 71573.

In MoP, all trinkets display their proc value for an ilvl 463 version as their base amount. From there, the procs scale up (raid items) or down (quest rewards, Normals) depending on the item’s ilvl.

Aside: for those curious about the exact manner of the scaling, it is an exponential growth at the rate of just under 1% per ilvl (0.936%). An increase of 15 ilvls increases stats by 15%, and an increase of 75 ilvls doubles the stats.   ~Hamlet

A spell ID is now frequently used by multiple items as well. For example, every version of Bad Juju (LFR, Normal, Normal TF, Heroic, Heroic TF) uses the same spell ID for the agi/Gnome proc. Viewing the spell proc’s page displays “you have a chance to gain 4232 Agility,” which is the ilvl 463 amount–you’ll only see this when zoning into a Challenge Mode. Viewing each item’s page and tooltip will bring up the correctly-scaled agility amount.

Trinket scaling also came in handy when item upgrades were introduced in Patch 5.1. Since procs needed to scale along with base item stats, it would make sense for trinkets to stay attached to one spell ID. It would get unwieldy coming up with new trinket spell IDs for every possible raid difficulty and upgrade combination.

Several months after launch, there was some minor confusion over an apparent nerf to Darkmoon Faire trinkets. Datamining suggested that their procs had been nerfed, but what really occurred was that Faire trinkets were fixed to allow for dynamic scaling. Previously, their procs weren’t affected by scaling–the base spell data reflected a static ilvl 476 proc, instead of an ilvl 463 dynamic base value. However, users just saw that the trinket proc had a lower amount, and assumed things were nerfed.

With the tweak to Darkmoon Faire trinkets, this now allowed those trinkets to have their procs increase via item upgrades. It also was a nerf in one aspect–the trinkets correctly scaled down in Challenge Modes now, which they did not do at launch.

Hamlet and I are working on a blog post covering the social implications of Flex Mode, but for now, this should provide a useful explanation for some new tech introduced in Mists of Pandaria that’s only now becoming more visible to players.

4 thoughts on “History of NPC and Item Scaling in MoP

  1. Not sure if you’re looking for a complete history of item scaling, but there was also level scaling introduced to leveling BGs in 5.2 (with mixed results) and the current scaling up of most items in leveling BGS in 5.3. It’s possible to have a item level average of 500+ at level 85 now when in a BG, with the health and hit of a level 89 character.

    • Thanks for pointing that out, I had it in my notes but forgot to mention the 5.3 scaling.

      I think it would be good to include an example of gear scaling up in a zone instead of just down.

  2. Is there any more detailed analysis of scaling rules (suitable for spreadsheet-type applications)? Do the same rules typically apply to all stats (armor, stamina, …)?

    I’m pretty sure that set-bonuses, number of gem sockets, and socket bonuses don’t scale. However, gem sockets have a budget which is subtracted from post-scaling stats. That budget is a bit low (about 80 primary + 80 secondary stats), and it is difficult to tell which stats were subtracted.

    For trinkets, I assume that typically the proc size scales, but for some RPPM trinkets, it is the RPPM number that scales.

    I try to maintain a PvP spreadsheet, and in 5.4 the PvP ilvl cap will change from week to week, so I’m hoping somebody has good understanding of the scaling rules.

    • As far as I know it’s just what we went over in the forum–stats (before sockets) are determined using the exponential formula, and then primary/secondary are reduced by constants after that. Everything I’ve see that scales uses the same exponential constant: stats, and the magnitude or RPPM frequency of proc effects.

      So for PvP cap increases, I’d assume you can have all stats increase by the usual % per ilvl each time, subject to correction for sockets. Might want to confirm scaling on PvP power the first time and see whether it seems affected by sockets.

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