Warlords of Draenor: Hunter Theorycrafting - Weapon damage normalization
After talking to a couple of friends, it occurred to me that I wasn't 100% sure of how weapon normalization worked these days. First of all what is weapon normalization? Weapon normalization is an attempt to make the speed a weapon not matter for special attacks ("yellow damage"). For auto shots it doesn't matter: a bow that did 1000 damage every 3 seconds would have the same DPS as a bow that did 900 damage every 2.7 seconds. But if you have a special ability that deals X% weapon damage, the speed doesn't matter. You'd want the slowest weapon possible because your special attacks would have a bigger number to work with.
Hunter weapons are normalized to 2.8 speed, at least traditionally. (The trend lately has been to only put 3s weapons into the game, so I was curious if weapons were normalized to that now). This means that some numbers are going to be adjusted so that your special attacks are calculated as if your weapon were converted to a 2.8 speed weapon. Sort of. First of all, weapon damage takes into account your AP which adds a certain amount of damage per time: AP/3.5 = DPS. Note that time is already a factor in this calculation, so if we want to convert it to damage we could multiply by our normalize value, 2.8, and get that damage. But are the weapon stats normalized too? Basically, we want to know if the formula is (weapon + AP/3.5*2.8) or (weapon*2.8/weaponspeed + AP/2.8).
First of all, you may want to look at the character sheet to see how it does it. Don't bother - main hand damage appears to just be AP/3.5*speed and doesn't include your weapon's damage range nor does it do any normalization. So much for that.
So on the beta I grabbed a BM spec and got naked except for my bow, giving me 1660 AP and a weapon range of 952-1430. Arcane shot has a base coefficient of 95% weapon damage, plus a 20% draenor perk, so 1.14. I proceeded to fire off ~100 arcane shots and note the range. To be fair, this isn't very many, and more extensive testing would be welcome. But perhaps it is enough to see how normalization works. My smallest hitting arcane shot did 2616 damage and the hardest was 3117.
Normalize just the AP component:
Normalize weapon stats too:
It looks like just the AP component is normalized. I admit I was surprised by this, as it does mean that slower weapons are better. To be fair, the benefit is going to be small, and the trend since MoP has been to only add weapons with 3s speeds, so the question is mostly academic. Also, weapon normalization is nothing new. I believe it was implemented either in late BC or for WotLK. If anyone knows of any good theorycraft discussion from that time, let me know!
edit: After some discussion with other theorycrafters (mostly Theck), it appears that normalizing just the AP component has been how normalization always worked. Normalization for monks, in particular 1H dual wielding, uses a unique method that is outside the scope of this post.