… or “Why is that paladin rolling on my cloth shoulders?”
iLevel is the “item level” of a piece of equipment. It is a measure of the item’s value. Items of the same slot, iLevel, and quality have the same “stats budget” and are generally considered to be equal in value. Generally speaking, the higher the iLevel of an item, the more stats that item will have.
While not a perfect indicator of the benefit of an item to you, or on whether or not something is an upgrade, it can give a general idea. For instance, Wowhead.com lists Primal Mooncloth Robe as having an iLevel of 120. Masquerade Gown has an iLevel of 115. From that, one could make a reasonable guess that the PMC robe would be a better item than the Gown. (Note: I would not use the iLevel as the be-all-end-all of item comparisons. For example: I have been hording a wand with what I consider to be the perfect stats, despite the fact that wands of a higher iLevel have dropped for me. Always be smart and look at the stats of an item to determine if it is an upgrade for you.) Again, iLevel can really only be compared on items of the same slot and same quality (uncommon, rare, epic, etc.).
This is used to ensure that items that drop from similar places are equally useful to characters of quite differing classes. If you are giving a mage 50 spell damage on an pair of gloves, how much attack power should you be giving a rogue on theirs? An example from WoWWiki: 12 spirit could equal 5mp5. 100 + damage could equal 188 +healing. And so on. Different stats have different weights. Think of iLevel as the total of all the weighted values of the stats on the item.
What am I getting at? Well, the armor rating of an item is a stat value that counts towards the iLevel of that item (up to items of an iLevel of 100 or so). Yes, your paladin brethren who insist on “only wearing plate” may be limiting their healing from gear. I know, part of the draw of being a paladin healer is being able to take a few hits if needed, which makes armor a necessity if that is your line of thinking. But in end game content, how often should healers be taking melee damage? All signs point to: “If healers are being beaten on, your raid is screwed.”
One point of armor value on gear is roughly equal to a 0.02222… * bonus to healing. Now, that doesn’t sound like a lot, but on level 70 gear it could add up. Let’s go through an example to illustrate my point as simply as possible:
In Karazhan, the plate healing shoulders and cloth healing shoulders that drop there just happen to have the same +heal on them. The cloth shoulders, Pauldrons of the Solace-Giver, drop off of Curator and have 146 armor. Pauldrons of the Justice-Seeker, the plate shoulders, drop off of Shade of Aran and have 1087 armor. They both +57 healing and an iLevel of 115.
How much more +heal could the plate shoulders have than the cloth shoulders if their armor was the same?
Again, 1 point of armor is supposedly equal to 0.022222… +healing*. The two shoulders have a difference of 941 armor points. Simple multiplication of the two tells you that would be about 21 extra +heal that the plate shoulders could have over the cloth ones if armor wasn’t factored in to their “stat budget”.
Naturally, extra iLevel points that are not spent on armor aren’t necessarily converted directly into +heal. they could go toward any stat. This was just an example.
Now, I am not saying that classes with higher armor than priests should be given equal opportunity for cloth drops, for three reasons:
- Cloth healing items are designed for priests and generally contain stats that reflect that. A cloth healing item may have a lot of spirit on it, which is useful to a priest, but not as much to a paladin. Always remember what stats each class should be looking for from healing gear.
- The stat value from armor does not scale at the same rate for items iLevel 100 and above. High level gear appears to be normalized past this point, with the weight of the armor stat decreases drastically.
- Priests can only ever roll on cloth gear. Their armor restrictions do not give them the freedom and flexibility that other healers have on itemization.
Keeping those three points in mind, I ask you to please give consideration to your druid, shaman, and paladin brethren when rolling on healing loot. If it is a side-grade for you, and an upgrade for them, then do the right thing and PASS! Afterall, we healers all play for the same team.
* I am working off of the most recent stat values that I can find. These values are calculated from Wowwiki.com’s guide to iLevels and StatMods. Even if the math is a bit off, the point remains the same.