Why “Best In Slot” lists are a thing of the past

“Best In Slot” lists, or “BiS” for short, are gear lists identifying the best possible combination of items for each spec. Sometimes there can be differing opinions, or different lists for different talent combinations, but the reason why they are popular is because they’re essentially a shopping list of items to get.

However, these lists are somewhat impractical outside of “thought experiments” or SimulationCraft default profile restrictions because of one thing: random item bonuses.


Prior to Throne of Thunder when an item dropped there was only one item level it could have. ToT introduced “Thunderforged” which was a bonus 6 item levels to an item, which could only occur once. Siege of Orgrimmar continued this with “Warforged”, which persisted into Warlords of Draenor with bonus gem sockets and “tertiary stats” like Avoidance or Leech. Even then, since there was still only 6 bonus levels a “Best in Slot” list was reasonably practical.

With the introduction of Titanforging and the chance to have any item boosted to the maximum item level possible (895 prior to Nighthold and currently 925) it means that even a “bad” item for your spec, using the two worst secondary stats, may actually be an upgrade if it rolls a high enough Titanforge bonus. For non-jewelry items this is driven by the fact that there is significantly more of your primary stat on an item than secondaries, which means even a +5 ilvl gain can be enough to make an item with the two “worst” stats better than an item with your two “best” stats. Rings and Necklaces can extend this out to 10-15 ilvls, depending on stat weight differences and how stats are distributed.

The TL;DR version is that nobody can give you a list of item items to collect because there’s so much gear variation now that what would normally be considered a “bad” item is an upgrade due to the bonuses it gained.

Significant Time Investment

Even prior to Legion a number of Theorycrafters & Guide Writers were not producing these item lists, myself included. This is partially because significant amounts of time are spent building these lists, and then arguing about them with other players who think certain items should be replaced for various reasons. I don’t think I’ve seen a single universally accepted and unchallenged best in slot list in some time.


About binkenstein
I'm a geek, living in Christchurch, New Zealand.

5 Responses to Why “Best In Slot” lists are a thing of the past

  1. Correction: Thunderforging was 6 itemlevels, not 7. For example, ToT normal gear could was normally 522, but could thunderforge up to 528. WoD 5 man heroic gear was base 630 and could WF up to 636.

    • binkenstein says:

      Thanks, fixed it.

  2. Oru says:

    I totally agree with this approach, but my question here is: How can you have minimal control that the raiders are requesting the loot properly? So far, we had a list of BIS of each class / raider and this was easily checked. Now it’s a headache…

    • titreano says:

      we tend to do this from an individuals stat priority

  3. mcattle says:

    Also, with the branching away from cookie-cutter builds toward variable builds that match differing play styles, there’s additional variables in the build that would affect the stat weighting behind these lists.

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