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Combat has multiple meanings in World of Warcraft:

  1. The state where your character is considered actively fighting and prevents actions that can only be done out of combat.
  2. Anything having to do with fighting, especially physical combat with weapons and armor.
  3. One of the rogue talent trees.

The Combat Flag

When a character attacks or is attacked, they will be flagged by the game as being in combat. This state is denoted to the player with an icon of two crossing swords next to their character portrait. Many actions and abilities cannot be used while you are in combat, making knowing how to get into and out of combat very important, especially in PvP combat.

In PvP, a player will leave combat if they have not attacked or been attacked for 6 seconds, or all the enemy characters that have attacked you are killed.

Under most circumstances in PvE, once all monsters have lost interest in you, you will be removed from combat.

Actions that will get you into combat

  • Attacking
  • Casting an offensive Spell
  • Casting a Buff or Healing spell on a unit that is in combat
  • Getting on a mob's Aggro list
  • Certain bosses always put everyone in the group (or raid) in combat when engaged, regardless their distance from the boss

Abilities that cannot be used while in combat

When in combat, several abilities become unavailable including drinking, eating, mounting, and accepting a summon. In addition:

  • Resurrection abilities may not be used, including items that resurrect. The only exception is the druid's [Rebirth] ability which is on a 10-minute cooldown.
  • Drinking and eating are not possible while in combat.
  • [Portal] and [Teleport] spells may not be cast while in combat. You may, however, enter a portal already created.
  • Rogues cannot use [Stealth] while in combat, although they can [Vanish] (see below).
  • Rogues may not [Sap] a character that is in combat.
  • [Charge] cannot be used in combat.

Abilities that allow you to escape combat

Some classes have abilities that remove them from combat instantly. However, if they are dotted they will usually be brought back into combat the next time they take damage. Note that these abilities no longer remove you from combat during Boss Fights (only at the end of wipes if you time it correctly).

  • [Vanish] requires Flash Powder but makes the rogue completely invisible for 10 seconds, then drops him into stealth. It is on a 5-minute cooldown (3 minute, 45 seconds with 5/5 [Elusiveness] specced), though with a talent rogues have an ability that resets all their cooldowns.
  • [Feign Death], on a 30-second cooldown, removes the hunter from combat. In PvP, this is usually used to remove the hunter as a target and cancelling all incoming spellcasts. In PvE, it will cause mobs to forget about the hunter.
  • [Divine Intervention], removes another player of the paladin's choosing from combat at the cost of paladin's life. Removing the buff prematurely can result in a death if the character is in combat with an opponent beyond their means.

General combat concepts

Aggro and adds

Using your favorite high-damage spell to pull a mob is not the best idea in the world. For one, it can make it very difficult for other players, such as warriors, to pull it off you (in the case of taunt resists, etc), increasing the likelihood that you will go down. Secondly, high-threat spells have a much higher chance of pulling other creatures around the mob, which can also be dangerous. In most cases, if you are a caster and you are pulling, you would be better off to use your wand, as even a crit from a wand is relatively low threat, whereas your Frostbolt is not.

If you are in combat and you have undesirable aggro (on a low-armor character, for example) you may want to follow one of the following courses of action. Which one you choose depends on a variety of factors, including the class that is tanking (paladin or warrior, or whatever else), the talent build of that player (specced for protection, or whatever), and his skill at maintaining aggro and the abilities at his disposal.

If the tank's build (and skill) allows him to build aggro on multiple mobs that he is tanking, you may want to change targets to one of the other mobs he has aggro on, and then switch back perhaps after he has established good aggro on the one that began attacking you.

If the tank's build (and skill) does not allow him to maintain good aggro on multiple mobs, you may want to just stop attacking for a while, or use an ability that you might have which reduces your aggro, and wait for a moment before commencing fire.

What you definitely do not want to do is run away from the mob in an undisciplined manner. It would be best to run towards the tank, so that he can see that you have aggro. This of course may be unwise if the mob he is tanking deals damage in an area of effect.

Mana and health

Keeping an eye on your mana and health before and during battle can mean the difference between life and death. Make sure to glance at it often. It is also a good idea to try to anticipate how much damage you will be taking during the battle so you know when it would be a good idea to use any cooldown abilities or a potion that may just save your life.

While in a group while questing or (more likely) going through an instance, it also helps to keep an eye on health and mana of the rest of your party. Especially for those who were designated to start the fights (i.e. Pull) you are going to put your companions and yourself into grave danger if you start a new fight while your main healer is still sitting down to get his mana back up.

Ready attack before in range

Sometimes you might want to right-click on a mob to attack it when it is out of range. Why? Because you can run toward it and your character will melee attack as soon as you get in range. This tactic gives you a slightly quicker attack than running close enough and then attacking.

This tactic also helps against caster and other ranged mobs, since you can sometimes run up and get a hit in before they finish casting their first spell.

Ranged weapons

Also called pulling, try to use a ranged weapon or spell to begin combat with most creatures in the distance. This gives you an extra hit before melee combat begins. If you have one, try to use a powerful attack to inflict the most damage before a fight. For example if you have a spell that sports a long casting time that is generally very difficult to use in combat, eg. Starfire for a druid or Pyroblast for a fire mage, use that because of the amount of damage done.

Be careful with this tactic against ranged caster mobs, since melee combat can have the advantage of interrupting or delaying spells where ranged attacks generally give the caster ample casting time to cast spells.

An advanced tactic to use in combination with a range weapon or spell is to try and perpetually run away from your opponent in circles (making sure you don't aggro anything else of course) allowing yourself just enough time to get a hit off but proceed running. This is called kiting. If done properly the opponent may never lay a finger on you.

Running away

Icon-time.svg This section concerns content that is out-of-date.

Never eliminate the option of running away, if a battle starts going badly; but only when you are not in an instance.

Watch how much damage per hit an opponent does and when you get to about half health, you might want to think about running if you can't heal or won't kill the opponent before you die. Especially consider running, if you are fighting more than one opponent. Note that many humanoid mobs will flee themselves when they are at 15% of their normal health level (on average; some mobs will run before they reach 15%, and some don't run until they are very close to dying). However, after a few seconds of wandering off, they will return to fight you. Be careful, usually they take this time to bring more mobs with them if possible.

Good times to run
  • Many mobs won't follow you into water (river, lake, sea or ocean), but beware of water mobs (Sharks or Threshers), amphibious mobs (such as crocolisks or murlocs), or humanoids that can swim. They will swim at your normal run speed, but you will swim at reduced speed.
  • Conversely, many water mobs won't follow you on land, but also beware of amphibious mobs.
  • Also beware of mobs that have a ranged attack. They can pelt you from afar with spells and the like if you're slowly swimming in water. Usually though, these types of mobs won't chase you very far.
  • Run to friendly guard NPCs, since they will sometimes aid you, and most likely there are no enemy mobs in such an area.
  • Run to player characters not fighting who are around or higher than the level of the mob. Sometimes they will help you out, but not always. Be aware that it can be considered poor etiquette to "train" mobs over to another player.
  • Even if you know you will die, it will frequently be helpful to consider where you will resurrect when you return to your corpse after you die. In many cases, you can die near a wall, and resurrect yourself on the other side of that wall in safety.
Some things not to do when running
  • Don't run where there are other mobs whom you might aggro.
  • Don't run toward a hill or mountain or a valley that might lead to a dead end or require a lot of maneuvering to get around.
  • Don't run off a cliff that may kill you from the drop.
  • Don't make a lot of turns and try to "juke" the mob. The AI, executing on the server, is infinitely responsive and will "head you off at the pass" and catch up that much faster.
  • Don't attack, or stun, fear, sleep, etc. a mob, they will chase you further than they would if you had just run.[citation needed]
Useful things anyone can do before you run or while running
  • Drink a healing potion (or any equivalent) if you have it.
  • Yell for help in some way (/say, /yell, etc.).
  • Watch for and avoid obstacles like fences and walls; these will slow or stop a player without affecting a pursuing mob.
  • If you have enough health to take a few more hits from the mob, turn around (if that is necessary) and use a movement impairing effect or a stun effect on it, then proceed running.
  • Quickly strafing (sidestepping) left and right while running away will make it easier to escape mobs in pursuit.
  • Drink a Swiftness Potion, if you have one. This is an easy way to put quick distance between you and most pursuers.
  • If you are a worgen, you can use Darkflight to get a head start. This only last 10 seconds, so use it wisely.
Some useful things to do before you run or while running, by class (not comprehensive and not including talents)
  • Druid
    • [Entangling Roots] roots an opponent before you run.
    • [Rejuvenation] or [Lifebloom] can be cast while running for slight healing.
    • [Barkskin] can help a druid survive long enough to get out of range of an attacker.
    • [Bear Form] can be usefull to provide some extra survivability if Dazed. Don't be affraid to use [Frenzied Regeneration] to take advantage of any rage generated from being hit.
    • While in [Bear Form], use [Bash] to stun an opponent before you run.
    • [Hibernate] to sleep any beast or dragonkin opponents.
    • In [Cat Form], [Dash] can give you an extra boost of speed for a short period of time.
    • [Travel Form] gives a smaller speed boost than [Dash] but lasts as long as you are in that form.
    • Changing forms removes most immobilization or slowing effects and cancels [Polymorph].
  • Hunter
    • Send your pet on the opponent before or while you run.
    • [Aspect of the Cheetah] allows you to run away faster, but watch out for the daze effect if hit.
    • [Scare Beast] can get a beast opponent off your back, but may cause adds.
    • [Feign Death] may work to figure a path for running away or to lose aggro entirely.
    • [Wing Clip] before you start to run will cause the mob to run slower.
    • [Concussive Shot] as you're running away will also cause the mob to run slower.
    • [Scatter Shot] before you run to incapacitate the target for a short time.
    • [Freezing Trap] can be used to stop a single enemy and Frost Trap can be used to slow multiple enemies, giving a hunter more time to get away. Be careful, as with all magic, Traps can be Resisted.
  • Mage
    • [Frostbolt] slows a single opponent before you run. (Tip: The level 1 spell has same effect in slowing but takes less time; the effect lasts less time, as well.)
    • [Cone of Cold] slows multiple opponents in a cone in front of you.
    • [Polymorph] works great before you run. Use on adds also, but be sure you continue to run, as the prior sheep will break when you sheep a new mob.
    • [Frost Nova] roots multiple opponents before you run.
    • [Slow Fall] allows you to run off cliffs that you otherwise might not (though be sure to pack plenty of Feathers.
    • [Frost Ward] and [Fire Ward] absorb some frost and fire damage, in case a mob does that.
    • [Blink] teleports you a few yards forward, a very useful ability for running away. (Beware blink may sometimes malfunction and cause you to be teleported backwards due to terrain issues. Learn the places you cannot use blink and avoid using it there.)
    • [Mana Shield] (damage absorb) can be cast on the run, and prevents you from being dazed as long as it holds.
    • If you are frost specced, [Ice Barrier] also prevents being dazed without eating up your mana like Mana Shield does.
  • Paladin
    • [Divine Protection] or [Divine Shield] can be cast while running. This removes all undesirable effects on yourself, and blocks you from all damage for a given amount of time. This spell causes Forbearance and will not work if you have that debuff on you.
    • Hand of Protection can also be cast while running, but prevents only physical damage, and doesn't last as long, but can be cast on anyone in your party (including yourself). This spell also causes Forbearance, and will not work if your target (which is probably yourself) has that debuff.
    • Hammer of Justice stuns a target before you run, or while running.
    • Lay on Hands heals completely, but has a long cooldown.
    • Hand of Freedom makes you immune to all movement impairing effects except daze.
  • Priest
    • Power Word: Shield (damage absorb) can be cast while running, and prevents you from being dazed as long as the shield holds.
    • Renew (heal over time) can also be cast while running.
    • Psychic Scream can get opponents off your back, but may cause adds.
    • Fade can be used if you are in a party, as it drops aggro.
    • Shackle Undead roots an undead opponent before you run.
    • Levitate to run away by jumping off a cliff or to run on water (but be careful about taking damage).
  • Rogue
    • Gouge incapacitates a target before you run.
    • Evasion lets you get hit less, but only if the mobs aren't behind you.
    • Sprint allows you to run faster away, one of the better things to do.
    • Kick interrupts casting, to do before you run against a caster.
    • Vanish allows you to enter stealth mode while in combat, instantly losing all aggro. It will break if a Damage over Time is active.
    • Blind allows you to incapacitate an opponent for 10 seconds, which is good to do before you Vanish, run, bandage, etc.
  • Shaman
    • Earthbind Totem slows multiple opponents for when you run.
    • Stoneclaw Totem distracts opponent(s) from you and has a 50% chance to stun them if hit.
    • Wind Shear interrupts casting, to do before you run against a caster.
    • Frost Shock slows a single opponent before you run, but causes a high threat (aggro).
    • Water Walking to run away on water (but be careful about taking damage).
    • Ghost Wolf to give you a small but considerable run speed boost.
  • Warlock
    • Send your pet on the opponent before or while you run.
    • Use a Healthstone to heal yourself before you run.
    • Curse of Weakness will make chasing mob do slightly less damage.
    • Curse of Exhaustion will slow the enemy, and does not require that you face them.
    • Fear can get an opponent off your back, but may cause adds.
    • Death Coil will make the enemy run only minimally, causing less chance of aggroing adds and also will heal you a little.
    • Banish on an elemental or demon opponent before you run.
    • Voidwalker Sacrifice will hurt your Voidwalker for a small amount of health and give you a bubble shield, which will also prevent you from being dazed for as long as it holds. Previous to patch 3.1.2, this ability killed your Voidwalker entirely.
  • Warrior
    • Hamstring slows a single opponent before you run.
    • Shield Bash interrupts casting, to do before you run against a caster.
    • Disarm so your opponent does less damage (only if he carried a weapon in the first place)
    • Intimidating Shout gets any extra opponents off your back briefly.
    • Piercing Howl will slow all mobs around you, giving you a head start.

Physical combat

Melee vs. ranged

The choice between melee and ranged combat depends mostly on your class. Most classes have all their best abilities in one category. Some are lucky enough to have some abilities designed to help them switch to their preferred range, such as Wing Clip. Below are tactics for keeping your foe at your preferred range (especially when it is not theirs).

1% basics

Mists of Pandaria This section concerns content exclusive to Mists of Pandaria.

This data could change, since it is from the Template:Msist-inline Mists of Pandaria Beta#Mist_of_Pandaria. Also currently druid specific.[1]
At level 85 At level 90 Stat (amount needed for 1%)
265.08 1035 Dodge
265.08 1035 Parry
88.36 345 Block
102.45 400 Hit
102.45 400 Expertise
128.06 500 Haste
179.28 700 Critical strike
179.28 700 Mastery
322.58 1259.52 Agility → Crit (Druid)
648.91 2533.66 Intellect → Crit (Druid)
11092 12567 Boss armor (level 88=11977, level 93=13452)

Dual wielding

Your total damage output when fighting with two weapons should be higher than fighting with one weapon and a shield, but roughly equal to fighting with a two-handed weapon. Off-hand weapon attacks deal 50% of the weapon's designated damage. Therefore, it's wise to always put the best "damage dealer" weapon in the main hand. Dual wielding also increases your base miss chance using the formula 80% × M + 20% where M is your miss chance when not dual-wielding. Your usual miss chance against an opponent of equal level is 5% which means the typical miss chance while dual-wielding is 24%.

A Rogue with the dual-wield talent increases the off-hand weapon's damage from 50% up to 75%. They must also have 5 points in Precision, which increases chance to hit by 5%.

A Fury-talented Warrior with the dual-wield talent increases the off-hand weapon's damage from 50% up to 62.5%.

Dual wielding versus two-handed weapons

First a note:
Rogues are not included in this because they are built around dual wielding. They have no ability to use 2 handed weapons.
Also not included are sword and shield. That setup is for defense and will never compete for DPS.
For both those situations, you would have the same weapon versus the same weapon x2 and since the miss rate and offhand damage reduction do not equal 100% reduction (if they did, no one would ever dual wield) debating the dps merits would be pointless.
Druids are a special situation. When shape shifted they do not derive ANY dps from their weapons and cannot choose to dual wield or not.

About each class:
DW talents:
Dual wield specialization: 25% increase to offhand damage
2 Hand talents:
Two Handed Weapon Specialization: 5% increase to 2 handed weapon damage
Precision: +3% to hit (This affects both and it is possible to get it with either talent spec, but is more likely in a DW build, so we'll ignore it.)
Sword/Poleaxe Specialization: +5% Crit/+5% chance extra hit (This also affects both talent specs, but is more likely in a 2 hand, so we'll ignore it)

DW talents:
Dual Wield Specialization: +6% to hit when dual wielding
No 2 handed talents.
Nature's Guidance: +3% to hit

The talents are pretty much a dead give away as to the viability of DW or 2 handed for Shamans, but we'll run the math anyway. (Also note the shaman abilities are weighted toward dual wielding. Stormstrike is unnormalized and hits with both weapons. Shamanistic Rage gives mana on hit and is not based on weapon damage.)

Some Basic DPS Math:

  • Assume two 1H weapons, each delivering x DPS
  • Assume one 2H weapon with y DPS
All classes capable of dual wielding without any applicable dual-wield specialization
1.5x × (1 - 0.24) = 1.14x
Warriors with top-rank dual-wield Specialization
1.625x × (1 - 0.24) = 1.235x
Shamans with top-rank dual-wield Specialization
1.5x × (1 - 0.18) = 1.23x
2H weapon for Shaman or Warrior without talent
y × (1 - 0.05) = 0.95y
2H weapon for Warrior with talent
1.05y × (1 - 0.05) = 0.9975y

+ Section below not yet modified +

For weapons of equal dps, x will be approximately .76y.

We know from these equations then, that:

  1. Dual-wielding classes not dual-wield-talented have their DPS increased by 20% when wielding two weapons with the same DPS. (1.14 / 0.95 = 1.2)
  2. Warriors with top-rank dual wield talent have their DPS increased by 30% when wielding two weapons with the same DPS. (1.235 / 0.95 = 1.3)
  3. Two-hand or sword-and-board warriors have their DPS reduced by 5%, unless modified by talents and +hit gear.
  4. Shamans with top-rank dual-wield talent have their DPS increased by 30% when wielding two weapons with the same DPS. (1.23 / 0.95 = 1.3)

In order to determine which weapon combination is superior, then we equate the two formulas:

For non-dual wield specialization warriors
0.95y = 1.14x
Which then reduces to
y = 1.2x

This tells us then that a two-handed sword must at least have about 20% more DPS than each of the two individual swords.

This also means that dual wielding receives 1.2 times the damage bonus from attack power. This is because power affects both main- and off-hand. Thus with enough power, dual wielding will always be better than using a two-hander. Imagine having a 80 DPS two-hander and two 10 DPS swords. But you have 5600 attack power.

Two-hand DPS becomes (using above formula): 0.95 × [80 + (5600 / 14)] = 0.95 × 480 = 456

Dual-wield DPS becomes: 1.14 × [10 + (5600 / 14)] = 467.4

The level 15 white one handed swords do more DPS than the hardcore raid epic two-hander!

This is of course a rather irrational example as it is impossible to attain 5600 power, but it illustrates that attack power scales better with dual wielding.

For dual wield specialization warriors
0.95y = 1.235x
Which then reduces to
y = 1.3x

This tells us then that a two-handed sword must at least have about 30% more DPS than the DPS of each of the two individual swords. And that the dual wielder receives 30% more bonus from attack power.

Examples seen in weapons

Taking a look on Thottbot to see what 1H and 2H "green"-quality swords there are around level 30-35 will give us the Nobles Brand set of 1H swords (22.1 DPS, level 35) and the Frost Tiger Blade (28.8 DPS, level 35). The 2H blade's DPS is about 30% more than the 1H blade. Another example would be the 1H Jade Serpentblade (18.3 DPS, level 30) vs 2H Stonecutter at (23.9 DPS, level 30). The 2H blade's DPS here is again 30% more than the 1H blade.

We can then conclude that unless you are a Fury Warrior with dual wield specialization, the better weapon choice to increase DPS is to use a two-handed blade. Even with dual wield specialization, a two-hand weapon is equal to two one-handed weapons of the same quality. However, the extra rage generation given by the tier 2 warrior talent Unbridled Wrath tips the balance in favor of dual wielding for fury warriors that take both talents.

Dual-Wield benefit Conclusions
  • If your 2H weapon shows more than 20% (for non-dual wield builds) or 30% (for dual wield specialization builds) extra DPS than your 1H weapons, and you don't have Unbridled Wrath (for Warriors), you're better off using that.
  • keep in mind that you also receive 20% (or 30% for the spec builds) bonus to the DPS from attack power while dual wielding. It's up to you to decide if your attack power is high enough to bridge the quite probable gap with 2H DPS.
  • Basic dual wield gives a 20% DPS increase over using a one-hand weapon and shield.
  • It also gives you a 20% bonus to the DPS gained from attack power.
  • Warriors and Shamans with Dual-Wield Specialization get an additional 30% increase on their base DPS (or 10% on top of the basic dual-wield DPS without talents).
  • Rogues with Dual-Wield Specialization get an additional 50% increase on their base DPS (or 30% on top of the basic dual-wield DPS without talents).
  • These same percentages apply to the DPS bonus from attack power.



Don't forget that opponents of a much higher level than you have a fair chance of resisting any magical attacks, so don't always rely on initial crowd control, damage, or root/snare spells to set up a fight. Don't be unprepared if the target resists a spell or two.

Also consider specific types of spells against targets that might have specific types of resistances. Magical cold or water mobs might have a frost resistance, for example.

Cast time and interruption

The longer it takes to cast a spell, the more times you're going to get whacked (further delaying the spell) and the more likely it is that your opponent will be able to use a stun or other spell-interrupting skill on you. This is of particular importance in PvP since the other player has to react fast enough to interrupt you, and a faster spell gives them a smaller time to do that.

Damage avoidance

Melee combat is resolved using a chart of possible results for each attack. The sequence of results is: auto-crit (a target not standing up is always critically hit, and this value is either 0% or 100% for each attack), miss, dodge, parry, glancing blow (players versus monsters only), block, critical hit, crushing blow (monsters versus players only), and finally a normal hit. If the percentage chances add up to more than 100% then latter results will not be performed at the expected % rate because the random roll used to get a result from the chart is from only 1 to 100.

Ways of avoiding damage are miss, dodge, evade, parry, block, absorb, resist, immune, and reflect. There's also an hypothetical deflect outcome about which we need more information.

Only applicable to physical damage. Any physical attack, assuming that both attacker and attacked are the same level and have no modifiers to their hit rate, has a 5% chance to miss.
Only applicable to melee attacks. Your chance to dodge is increased by agility and defense.
Only applicable to melee attacks. Your chance to parry is increased by defense. Only certain classes are capable of learning how to parry attacks, and only attacks from your front may be parried.
Applicable to any type of damage, or even non-damaging debuff. A mob that is in a position where the game believes players are using an exploit to avoid being damaged will go into Evade mode at which point it is effectively immune to all attacks.
Applicable to any type of damage. This is usually the result of having a buff such as Power Word: Shield, which absorbs a limited amount of damage before failing. Certain shields can only absorb certain kinds of damage, so read the description before wondering why you're still getting hurt.
Only applicable to magical damage. This is basically the magical version of a miss. Your chance to resist a spell or other effect is based on your resist of that element, as well as your level. You can also partially resist some spells, taking only 25%, 50%, or 75% of the normal damage.
Applicable to any type of damage. This is the result of a mob having a coded ability to be immune to certain attacks (i.e. Scorpid Sting does not work on most bosses) or a player using some skill or item to protect them from damage (i.e. a Paladin's Blessing of Protection). These are either permanent (mob immunity) or time-limited (Paladin blessing) and will not fail regardless of how much damage you throw at it.
Applicable on non-AoE spells only. A Reflected spell will bounce back to its caster, acting as if it was cast on him. A Reflect can be caused by a buff such as improved mage's Frost Ward or Fire Ward, a Warrior's Spell Reflection, Destructive Skyfire Diamond's proc, or certain mobs' innate abilities.
This is an outcome which has been found by looking to GlobalStrings and CombatFeedback lua files, in Blizzard's UI (FrameXML), which might be added later by Blizzard to possible results for auto-attacks and physical abilities.


See also

External links

Mists of Pandaria β