Settling the Socket Debate... WITH MATHS
I know. You don't come here for math. My maths, they are bad. BUT! The other way to look at this, is if even my mathtarded self can figure this out, you can too! Hurrah!

I figured the best way to settle the socket bonus debate was to simply math it out. So, I turned to BobTurkey for the source numbers (because that is definitely waaay beyond my capabilities) since I trust him, and figure his weight values are pretty good.

So I could try and explain what I did, but spreadsheets are way cooler. Please note, these numbers are for a Discipline Priest - the numbers for a Holy Priest are different, and you should go clicky the link to BobTurkey's Theorycrafting House of Pain to figure it out (also, he does not call it House of Pain - that is merely a reference to my brain hurting).

This is what my current gem setup looks like. As you can see, Spellpower was my priority. Whenever a socket bonus required a blue socket, I used a nasty, dirty, death knight birthing Purified Dreadstone. Whenever a socket bonus required a yellow socket, I used either a Reckless Ametrine or a Potent Ametrine, depending on what boss I had just wiped on and current prices on the AH.

As a side note, if you're wondering why I choose Spirit over Mp5, the answer is simple. Both are blue gems - however, Spirit scales with Blessing of Kings, whereas Mp5 does not. In addition, though Mp5 and Spirit are roughly equal in value to a Disc Priest, Spirit is far better for a Holy Priest, and I would like to be able to use the same gear when I run Holy.

All in all, it's not bad. The total item value number thingie is approximately 454. I have no idea how BobTurkey got his numbers, because everything he wrote about that translated into "BWUH??!" in my head. Since I primarily heal the MT in ICC, I might argue that Haste has a slightly higher value to me, but I can in no way quantify that, so I don't even want to open that can of worms.

Okay, now you've seen teh maths about my current gem setup. What if I ignored all socket bonuses, and simply put a Runed Cardinal Ruby in every socket? Please note that you still need to make sure to fulfill your meta gem requirement. Since I am using Ember Skyflare Diamond, I don't even worry about it, but if you use something different (and many do), that is something you should consider.

Here is the magic spreadsheet I generated. If you want to try this method, please note that you need to check your socket bonus requirements. Unfortunately, NONE of my current gear had a socket bonus that could be satisfied purely by Red Cardinal Rubies. That is why in the (Bonus) row, every calculation is zero.

See that super yellow and red number (that hopefully matches my website)? That number cries "HAHA UR RONG NOOB" and taunts me with its additional 6 points.

The differences between these two gem setups come down to this: Ignoring socket bonuses gains me 34 spellpower, at the expense of 30 crit, 20 haste, and 20 spirit.

Unfortunately, BobTurkey has not yet provided weight numbers that quantify the amount of hair I will rip out and gold I will spend and expletives I will shriek trying to change my gems YET AGAIN. If I were a min-maxer, I would probably care more. If you are a min-maxer, maybe you DO care, so there you have it.

Does that mean that all Spellpower gems is the best solution? Not necessarily. I'm sure someone much smarter than me can come up with a formula that will tell you the best gems to pick, based on your current soft caps and raid buffs and all that jazz (I believe it's called RAWR), but now you're just being picky. I threw together an alternative gem selection that would be better than both of the previous, just to give you an example.

So here you go. If I assume that BobTurkey's numbers are ideal, the gemming for crit, spellpower, and spirit is still superior to gemming solely for spellpower. The magic number 468.594 tells me so.

It's actually a pretty simple spreadsheet to throw together if you feel so inclined, but this is the part where I give you the disclaimer.

I have the utmost faith in BobTurkey's theorycrafting abilities - but nothing changes the fact that this is theorycrafting. It assumes certain variables. If you're raiding without Replenishment for whatever reason; If you are primarily raid healing and not MT healing, and find yourself nearly always under the influence of Borrowed Time; If you don't raid and stick to 5 mans; If you raid with 24 Druids - all of these factors can change the value of these numbers for you.

If I think about all that too much, my head esplodes so I just... don't. Contrary to popular belief, I like numbers even if I am not as capable as BobTurkey and Codi in figuring out what the best numbers are. But I am also the kind of person who critiques others' research and statistics as a hobby, so I am all about encouraging people to read the numbers with a healthy dose of skepticism and realistic consideration. Dont drink and theorycraft!

One time, I made a post on the forums that some other priest disliked, so in order to pwn me hardcore, I guess he checked me out on armory in an effort to find something glaringly wrong and nooby. In the end he pointed fingers and lawled at my gem selection. At first I was insulted, and then after thinking about it, I was rather flattered. Aww, that's so cute. You couldn't find anything to criticize me for, so instead, you turned to the default criticism that you can use against anyone: YOU GEM LIKE A NOOB.

The fact is, there are several different "gemming philosophies" (though I suspect I'm one of the few people who would call it that). What people have a tendency to forget is that these gems are very small amounts. They are nice additions that you don't want to skip, but at the same time, choosing a Reckless Ametrine over a Potent Ametrine doesn't actually make that big of a difference.

The way you choose your gems will differ depending no gear level, what you are currently healing through, and whether or not you are pushing up against the hardest content available. If you are trying to conquer hard modes, you will likely have to do some min-maxing. Otherwise? It doesn't really matter, as long as you pick stats relevant to your class and spec for gemming (i.e. no strength for priests, no hit for healers).

Why am I adding this? Because I don't want you to think I am suggesting everyone should put together a spreadsheet and try to figure out the "ideal" gem selection based on stat values. My point in this little experiment was merely to show that it is completely legitimate to gem for socket bonuses - and you can even use math to back it up if you like.
27 Responses
  1. Grimmtooth Says:

    I am too tired and too boozled to comprehend, but I am not too tired or too boozled to realize that if I don't bookmark this, ima gonna hate myself at some point in the near future. Nice, meaty stuff here and the House of Pain.

    (Bob, give in now. House of Pain is now the official name. Don't fight it, it'll only drain ya.)

  2. Eversor Says:

    Ha ha...see now I'm lost. What I'd like is for some theorycrafting genius to just take my hand, lead me to the AH and tell me exactly what gems to get. Then again, I don't raid, definitely not HC so why shouldn't I just have fun and get my gem socketing bonuses....

  3. Shintar Says:

    I have to admit I really dislike this kind of theorycrafting as a healer. There are some general dos (spell power is important) and some don'ts (don't gem for mp5 if you're a resto druid), but otherwise no two healers are the same in terms of what they heal, in what kind of raid, and with which spells, so trying to find the one and only ideal solution is simply a moot point.

    P.S.: I always gem for socket bonuses myself. ;)

  4. @Grimm

    Ha! good choice - never drink and theorycraft. Also, it probably looks a lot more important than it actually is. BEHOLD THE POWER OF THE SPREADSHEET.


    It's actually way simpler than people think it is - it's just that there are so many different philosophies on how you should gem. Personally, I just pick Spellpower for the red sockets, Crit/Haste/intellect for yellow sockets (depending on what is cheapest!), and spirit for blue sockets. Voila! I use that as my priority, and maintain my socket bonuses.


    I added a few paragraphs after reading your comment. I don't want anyone to think I am saying you should whip out a spreadsheet and do the maths to try and achieve some ideal gem selection. My purpose was actually just to show that gemming for socket bonuses is completely legit, and if you wanted to, you could use a stat priority system to justify it.

  5. Tam Says:

    I'm sure this is awesome but I just can't get behind it - I CANNOT COPE without my socket bonuses ;)

  6. @Tam

    I tried to cope. I DID. But the little bonus numbers stalked me in my sleep. So, in order to justify my preference for socket bonuses, i made various spreadsheets.

    Surely there is something wrong with this picture?

  7. Kayllnn Says:

    Jess, do you not have a JC? I thought you would, I know you run a ton of 5 mans, or used to, so use your stonekeeper's shards to buy honor and turn them in at SW for the epic gemz. Then you can get our old friend Siffy to cut them, cuz that is what I do, I am cheap lol. But ya gemming is expensive much better when you use your useless crap to buy them. Then you won't feel so bad, and oh, so you feel better dpsers have to have 2 blue gems to use their meta. So on my mage all my gems are not straight SP, I have two sp/spirit gems.

  8. Kayllnn Says:
    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  9. kayllnn Says:

    hmmm sorry for all the comments, it kept saying error, please feel free to delete lol.

  10. Wikwocket: Says:

    Excellent analysis and writeup. You did a great job showing how gemming for socket bonuses is good, gemming for your preferred stats is better, and gemming for your preferred stats, while also going for socket bonuses that result in a net gain, is best!

    And if I may say something, although I too realize that gem selection is a tiny thing in comparison to one's overall gearing and play style, this is the kind of theorycrafting I love. Sure we may obsess over tiny details, spending hours analyzing the difference between 10 crit rating vs. 8 spell power, but once we complete our analyses, we learn something about the game and about how we play our characters. And that knowledge lasts forever, and can be shared with everyone. And more importantly, it's fun, darnit!

  11. Fuubaar Says:


    I'll bet you put a TON of work into all of this and I would like to read it and all but...



    I can't read any of it :(

    Please change it so that I may Judge you and your maths :)

  12. @Fuubaar

    You know me better than that. I used this as an excuse to make another pretty spreadsheet, it was totally not that much work.

    Also, yellow is the general color for HIGHLIGHTING SOMETHING. Don't tell me you would prefer pink. omg you are such a girl!

  13. bhorg Says:

    Wait - you aren't talking about this gem?

    Min/maxing is fun. I don't know how much it truly helps me, but I like knowing that I am making good choices. Thanks for the great post and enjoy the Jem! song.

  14. @bhorg


    did you know that my initials in real life are J.E.M. and that I have been haunted by that 80s cartoon figure all my life?


  15. Fuubaar Says:

    @ Jess

    No actually it could be brown for all I care. I seriously am unable to read the Headers that are in yellow. I understand that they are suppose to represent the Yellow Gem Options:


    But that's just a pure guess as to which one is which with your "lovely" choice of Yellow. How about a darker yellow perchance?

    If you do not meet my demands for a color change, I shall allow a Blood beast to nom on your face!

    <3 Fuu

  16. Codi Says:

    @ Jess: Okay, you know what I'm going to say, don't you? :P Let me start with the admission that I'm far too lazy to work up stat weights of my own for Disc priests right now, so I'm just going with what you use.

    1) You really should be using an IED meta and not a ESD one. Seeing as the IED has a 5% proc rate on a 15 second ICD on returning 600 mana, it works out to about 70mp5. Using your weights, the IED = 95.9329 HEP and the ESD = 82.35438 HEP. (I used your INT totals on the armory to arrive at that, BTW. :P) The IED is the clear winner, especially as it's purely a mana regen meta and allows you to gem for throughput in your other sockets.

    2) You said that Spirit and MP5 are almost the same for Disc priests, but your weightings show that is very wrong. MP5 has over -twice- the HEP that Spirit does for Disc.

    3) I went through your spreadsheet and plugged in what you would get if you switched your gems to activating an IED meta. This means gemming all SP in 8 sockets and only going for socket bonuses on your helm (with a SP/crit gem) and your boots (with a SP/MP5 gem). I chose those socket bonuses to get because they are the largest returns. My HEP total? 475.61

    So, grand totals including metas:

    Mine = 571.5429 HEP
    Yours = 550.94838 HEP

    ...that is a -big- difference.

  17. Eversor Says:

    Well afterall....Jem is truly outrageous....

  18. @Codi

    Woohoo! I always get excited when you arrive, because I love talking shop with you woman.

    Okay, I used to use the IED, but once I started rocking Disc, I eventually switched to ESD. 2% Int is superior to 21 Int at my intellect levels, even without the Arcane Intellect buff. Secondly, I *want* the extra throughput from my meta, i.e. the 25 SP. Third, I do not raid heal via shield spamming. I spend more time doing longer casts since I am primarily the MT healer (at least in ICC). This reduces the amount of actual casts I make, and therefore how often I will proc the mana return. Fourthly, up until the past week, when I swapped my gems around, I was not concerned about my mana regen - in fact I was ending with 25-30% of my mana pool remaining. I am willing to sacrifice a piece of that for increased spellpower. Since I'm running with a druid who can innervate me in a real emergency, I am more interested in increasing my throughput than in higher mana regen. Fifthly, gotta love that 3 red gem requirement, because I will always have red gems, even if I do experiment with different gems and socket bonuses.

    SO what was the point of that? After all, if I used the numbers in this experiment, it completely says I should switch back to IED. But, this is also why I don't use those numbers without taking into account playstyle factors, a la i like haste a lot right now. Also, isn't it fun how I said "No no i don't care about mana regen, shutup" even though just yesterday i was all like "OMG OOM". My primary raiding focus right now is my ICC team, which has Replenishment, whereas the Ulduar run I was complaining about did not have Replenishment, and also was definitely not an optimal raid makeup.

    Spirit vs Mp5 - I'm sooo glad you brought this up. If you look only at those numbers, yes, Mp5 is over twice as super as spirit. HOWEVER, the gems that have Mp5 only have 5 mp5, whereas the ones with spirit have 10. And, since spirit scales with kings, 10 spirit = 11 spirit, whereas 5 mp5 will ALWAYS equal 5 mp5.

    So, what you end up with is 11*.4272 = 4.6992 and 5*1 = 5

    4.7 vs 5. Clearly, Mp5 is still superior. But, if I want to use this same gear for my Holy Spec (and I do), I am willing to sacrifice that .3 item value (actually .6 since there are two gems that use blue) for the sake of easing my gemming pocketbook, my sanity, and my laziness.

    The meta gem swap I made came from a plusheal forum debate regarding which meta gem to use, and I decided to try something different, because when I switched to MT healing, I had a noticeable decrease in how often the mana return proc'ed.

    If I *really* wanted to math it all up, I'd have to take some measurements while healing, instead of depending on others' measurements - because IED was awesome when I was Holy, and much less so now that I'm Disc.

  19. Codi Says:

    @ Jess: You can -less- when you tank heal as Disc? Really? o_o I cast -more!- Well, at least on difficult fights. And if the fight isn't difficult, you might as well heal with no meta at all.

    I like how you try to disprove people giving you crap about your gemming with numbers and then when I try to disprove your disproving with number, you whip out the "numbers don't show everything!" card. XD It's so darned circular!

    See, what I'm saying is that if you go with the superior meta, you can gear more crit/haste gear and drop some of that inferior Spirit on your gear. :P Thus, more bang for your buck. It's about getting the most out of your item budget, it really is.

    ...and I totally just blogged about IED vs. ESD for healadins, BTW. Because this is the second time I've seen the "ESD FTW!" argument and it makes me facepalm. :D

  20. @Codi

    INORITE? But hey, at least I'm honest about my circular...ity. I could be all like NO UR RONG and give my angryface, but I totally know you're right. As long as you laugh while you /facepalm about me, I'm happy!

    I ran out of space in my comment, but what I wanted to add was that I'm testing out a bunch of different things as Disc.. Currently, I'm trying to utilize Greater Heal more, which is why I actually cast less, if that makes sense. That's why a lot of my recent posts have been more about trying to test out various things, and see what works best. I didn't mean to discount your comment, really and truly. I was hoping you would comment, because I take your suggestions very seriously. Everytime I post anything theorycrafting ish, I always hope you will respond and help me hash it out, because you know how I struggle with it.

    I did understand what you meant about the meta gem thing, and it's something I am going to think about more the next time I sit down to reevaluate my gems. Honest to God though, scout's honor, I'm not trying to be stubborn... I've just already spent about 2k gold over the past week regemming, and so at this point if I had sockets full of +Defense gems I'd still be saying "SCREW IT IM JUST DONE"

    When I made this post, i didn't truly realize people would think I was suggesting you make spreadsheets and analyze your gems this way in order to make a choice... I was simply trying to show that gemming for socket bonuses is not a horribly noobtastic thing to do.

    Next time I can look at my gems without wanting to scratch my eyes out in agony, I will reevaluate my meta gem. I promise. But i do want to continue playing around with it a bit and maybe get some numbers before I abandon my current meta completely. You know me, I never trust other people's numbers until I test them out myself to see if I can replicate them. E.G. the whole Divine Aegis/ Power Word Shield which comes first etc thingie.

    OH regarding the stuff I have that has spirit on it vs haste/crit gear - I am picking up all haste/crit gear whenever I can, but it has to drop for me first. Sadly, Blizzard has not yet implemented "mail Miss Medicina all haste/crit epics because she is a dwarf" rule, although the way the game is changing, I'm expecting my package any day now. I AM actively pursuing haste/crit gear to replace my spirit stuff, but it doesn't happen overnight. But yes, that is partially why I keep having to rebalance things - everytime I replace a spirit item with a haste/crit item, I have to look over things again. The drops have been slow in coming lately though.

  21. Kaethir Says:

    I've always thought that it's better to gem for your socket bonuses than to just put whatever in there you think you need to stack, no matter what role you are playing.

    In my case, as a tank, I think it's especially important, because a lot of tanks just stack stamina. You know what that gets you? You can take a bigger hit, but it's harder for your healers to keep you up over the course of a long fight.

  22. Codi Says:

    @ Jess: Oh, I feel you on the gem switching pain. When they switched how GotEM for Trees and made it so that gemming haste until you're soft capped is more throughput than gemming all SP... I WAS PISSED. XD And stubborn! I still haven't changed to gemming haste because I don't wanna!!! GRRRR! It helps that I'm not playing her much anymore. :P My priest is becoming my primary alt.

  23. Kira Says:

    I play a disc/holy priest, however I haven't been holy for a few months.

    After reading your initial gem post and getting linked to Penance Priest (yay!), I started to seriously consider my own gem selections and resocketed half of my gems 3 times. It made me rather insane after a while.

    I'm also a sucker for socket bonuses, and Paolo's posts do tend to make you feel guilty for gemming for them. However, what I did was to look at the gear of one of the highest priests in the top guild on my server. He gems for bonuses, and by looking at his gear, I also discovered the wonderful Intricate Eye of Zul have I have put in several of my blue sockets. With haste in particular, I have set a goal of about 17%, so I will switch gems around accordingly to keep up with that.

    The main holy paladin in my guild concerns himself with all Int gems. However, I think priests are more complicated that that. We have to be concerned with mana regen, crit, haste, and spellpower. This also changes depending on your raid makeup. I am in a 10 man guild (we've cleared ICC Plague Wing), so being 1/2 healers in a raid, I have to tank and raid heal. If I gemmed for raid healing power bubbles as Paolo suggests with all SP gems, my haste would be severely affected for my tank heals.

    So, I really think it boils down to your healing role, and your average raid comp. And most of all, you being happy with what your character can do with your current gems.

  24. Chirri Says:

    Socket bonuses often feel more like an insult than a lure to me. When they first came out I felt that way, and that feeling hasn't changed. I'm not entirely certain why - probably because, in the age of 3 digit stat bonuses, a single digit "bonus" just seems, well, rude!

    Your observation about relying on Replenishment is ... far too clever. :) My gemming, as I posted before, is all Red, with the possible exception of whatever it was I needed to set off my Meta gem. I think I raided for the first time without Replen last night, and I noticed it. It was painful to experience for me, personally, but somehow the healer team managed to hold it together (even the pally with a ridiculously massive mana pool was OOM toward the end of the fight).

    I think part of my problem with matching ALL the socket bonuses for me was simply that there were so many options. Do I feel like Haste with my Spell Power today, or Crit? Perhaps some Int? A blue socket, eh? How Spirit or MP5? It really was entirely a matter of my mood more than anything else, and it always left me feeling like I was doing it wrong. Straight Runed takes little to no thought.

    As you say, your current gear and what you're actually encountering has a huge impact on how you'll need or want to gem. A lot of my gear has both Haste and Crit on it, Int and Stamina, with lots of blue sockets staring me down. Spirit time, perhaps?

  25. @Kiri

    I agree with this. In actuality, I set up a priority system. Spellpower first, Haste/Crit second, Spirit third.

    All my gems are at least half spellpower. I just find it really hard to completely waste socket bonuses, at least if they are spellpower bonuses.

    Gems are excellent for filling out gaps in your gear and helping you smooth the transition between different stat priorities in your gear. For instance, when I first switched from Holy to Disc, I had way too much mana regen, so I swapped my meta and all my Int gems out.

    As Codi pointed out though, I may be getting to the point where I have so much haste/crit gear, I can go back to my gems and meta and switch them our for more mana return, such as using the IED meta.

  26. @Chirri

    Oh no. Spirit is sooooo last season. I think it's time for some Agility, don't you think?

    I think Blizzard seriously needs to buff the socket bonuses a bit. At least there are now more spellpower socket bonuses than before - remember when half of them seemed to be spirit bonuses or something else fairly stupid? Every healer likes spellpower.

  27. bhorg Says:

    Jess -
    I had no idea that bad 80s cartoons could cause emotional trauma, but I am neither a smurf nor a gummy bear, so I am out of the loop.

    I am totally broke on my priest and I'm not about to raid the guild bank to re-gem. As my money comes in, or as I get new gear, I try to gem +SP. If there is a +SP bonus, I might gem +SP/+Haste (I'm nowhere near cap). In any event, I am in the middle of our trio of healers, as far as gearscore goes. We're about 4900, 5100, 5300. Nevertheless, on most fights I have 10% more effective heals than they do. Healing is almost never an issue for our progression. If it were, I'd try to tighten up a bit, until then, I love know what I'm supposed to be doing - - - - whether or not I actually do it!

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