A StatStick refers to items that are equipped solely for their bonus effects, (eg Attribute boosts, Spell Damage, Ranged Attack Power, mp5, etc), and are unlikely to be used to attack with in combat, rather like Off Hand gear.
The term is most commonly used to refer to caster's melee weapons, seeing as a Mage, Priest or Warlock does not care how much damage he can cause in melee with their staff, as they will always be casting spells, and out of melee range. However it can be used to refer to any of the following:
- Hunter Melee Weapons
- A hunter does the best damage from range, and has low melee survivability compared to tanking classes such as Warriors or Paladins. In the best case scenario, the melee weapons will never be used, meaning that the melee weapons do not contribute to dps directly, and only the boosts to ranged attack power, agility and mana regeneration are going to be remotely useful.
- Warriors and Rogues put out the best possible damage when in melee range, and the only use for the ranged weapons are to Pull mobs to the warrior if there is no nearby Hunter, or to use Deadly Throw to interrupt a caster in PvP. Other than that, they have no real dps benefit from their ranged weapons, as they will be in melee range the whole time, and only benefit from the melee stat boosts they provide. The engineer created Armor Plated Combat Shotgun, which provides defense stats, is an example of an epic StatStick, meant to be equipped by tanking Warriors, who may never use a gun except possibly for pulling.
- Casters will never use anything except spells in a best case scenario, as the dps provided by a wand or staff is vastly inferior to that provided by a spell, and so it is far more beneficial to choose a weapon and wand that will boost spell damage / healing, maximum mana or mana regeneration.
- Druid Weapons
- A druid, who is specced for Healing, or for ranged dps is not likely to be engaged in melee combat, and it is therefore far more beneficial for them to choose a weapon with high caster-friendly stats, such as mana regen, spell damage / healing, etc over a weapon with high melee dps for obvious reasons. Feral druids used to have staves specifically tailored for them with huge amounts of attack power to make up for the fact that they do not actually swing their weapons, but now they gain bonus AP based on weapon DPS and in Cataclysm will use the DPS directly.
- Caster Shields
- Shields are used by Warriors, Paladins, and Shamans for mitigating damage in melee combat. The two latter classes, which use mana, may use shields that give caster stats such as +spell power, +spirit, or +MP5. Paladins, if specced Retribution, will probably use a two handed weapon, and if specced Holy, will probably be healing when in a group. Shamans, who also use shields, will rarely if ever, use a shield for damage mitigation, as both Elemental and Restoration shamans will fight by using ranged spells, while an Enhancement Shaman, despite being a melee oriented spec, will dual wield weapons at later levels.