Archive for June, 2009

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Guest Post: The Evolution of a Tree

June 30, 2009

Jov’s still on vacation but, fortunately for you, Mr. Seri has had something on his mind…

Nothing to see here, move along.Hi, I’m Mr. Seri and I’m a tree.

I play WoW casually (far more casually than my wife and our friends) and since earlier this year I’ve been raiding with a progression raid guild as a resto druid.

A few months ago I started raiding with Seri and Jov’s raid team. From the outset I had some marks against me – my gear wasn’t super great, I didn’t have as much experience as others (although I did have some SSC/TK 25 man experience in Burning Crusade, and Karazhan experience with Seri/Jov/Tarsus) and I certainly didn’t have the WoW skills that others did. However, I had enthusiasm, I could type (without using ’1337 speak’) and I could take direction. (And Jov thought I was funny.)

In the last few months I’ve learned three things: the psychology of the raider, a firm hand is better than a gentle one, and trees have bark.

Psychology of the Raider

It’s fair to point out that in the overall hierarchy of gamer types I could easily be described as a ‘social’ gamer. I am here to play with friends, hang out, swap cool stories and have fun. The surroundings (raid) matter little to me, loot matters little to me, and achievements and other doodads really don’t float my boat. However, over the last few months I’ve found my mindset changing in the time I’ve been in the guild. In the beginning I was sort of wide-eyed, not really understanding what was going on or what ‘I think we’ve lost focus’ or ‘You just need to concentrate on executing’ meant.  Now however, I’ve developed a better sense for raid psychology. I have learned that ‘focus’ isn’t some made up phrase, it actually has real meaning in terms of the morale of the team and how people are digging in to win no matter what. In one of our recent raids I found myself getting really frustrated because I felt like a good chunk of the raid wasn’t taking this particular progression fight seriously – there was a ton of joking, laughing, people trying to kill each other. I didn’t feel like the part of the fight we were working on was overly difficult, it just required near-perfection. But it seemed like with every attempt, people just cared less and less – they’d try for ten, twenty seconds and then just give up and run around trying to kill each other. I know that isn’t the reality, but that’s how it felt to me, at least.

I’ve learned that to excel in a progression guild you need to have that drive to win. You don’t necessarily need to be a ‘win at all costs’ type, or the sort that always wants to be the top of the healing/DPS charts. But you need to have that desire to know you’re one of a small subset of guilds that can do what you do. To be fair, I never thought I’d succeed in a guild like the one we’re currently in. My ex-guildmates in RHOT were positive that I’d last maybe 2 weeks, 4  weeks max before I’d be frustrated and taking off. And to be fair, learning to accept a called raid wipe was weird for me – I wasn’t used to it. You need to put yourself in a mindset where you accept that the raid leader is looking thirty, sixty, ninety seconds or minutes ahead and can see that this just isn’t going to happen and everyone just needs to die fast and get back in there. I accepted this far more easily than I thought I would. In fact, I’m so amused by the concept of the ‘Mandatory Wipe’ that when I won a 120 GB iPod at work I named it that exactly.

I’ve slowly found myself changing. I focus more on bettering my game now, I check our various stats in our saved logs to see how I did. Tweaking my rotations slightly, or my positioning, or learning how better to maneuver and shift around and keep my healing presence high. To be fair, I have two really good healing leads (one is Jov) and a great ‘senior druid’ (Hi Ling!) who has helped me along. I had healed 25 man raids before Wrath but not since the change-over, so it took some relearning to figure out the ‘new’ ways of doing stuff. And I even surprised myself when discussing my talent tree with Ling – as I saying things like, “Well, this particular talent accounts for sixteen percent of my overall healing, which means we’ll need to make sure that these changes exceed that in order to see any sort of positive change in my healing numbers…” Yeah, I never figured I’d be saying stuff like that.

A Firm Hand Is Better Than A Gentle OneAre those.. arms?

This one comes out of learning how this particular guild runs fights. When I started, the guildmaster lead almost every single raid. There was the often quoted ‘Vesht Mod’ – essentially a running verbal tally of everything that was going on. So for example, it might go something like this: “Alright, everyone’s here. Let’s go: five, four, three, two one, go go go….alright, spread out, spread out, good positioning. Group two, move to the left a bit good good … good. Shadow Crash on Ling, move, moving, good, good, boss is transitioning, on him, good, Mark on Bas, move Bas, there you go, great, boss is shifting, flame explosion in ten, Shadow Crash on Jov, move Jov, there you go, explosion in five … and out, move out, great, excellent movement, and …….back in, reposition…”

It was this never ending comforting litany of everything that was going on. Now, there’s a plus in this  – you always know what’s going on, but there’s a negative as well. It requires your ‘boss mod’ to always be there – and people sometimes can neglect their own situational awareness capabilities in lieu of just waiting to be told to move. In the end as this particular guildmaster started raid leading less this changed – and the ‘new’ raid leaders didn’t keep that running tally in quite the same way. However, they’ve kept the second trait I saw that the GM had – the firm hand. By that I mean, if you die he/she wants to know why. Not in an insulting way, but more like: “Hey Bas, I know this is only your first time doing this fight, but look through your combat log and whisper me why you died.” And once you explain it, you get a simple, “Alright, cool. Lets avoid that in the future, try not to let it happen again.”

I think raid leading is just like managing any other group – one person has to be in charge, one person has to try to manage all the people that want to back-seat drive (and trust me, there’s a ton of that)  and they have to both cajole and constructively criticize those folks that need it to help step up their performance. I’ve experience both the gentle-hand-no-real-firmness-not-calling people on stuff raid leading, and I’ve experienced the sort of raid leading where there’s no question who is in charge. I prefer the latter.

Trees Have Bark

By this, I mean that you need to have a thick skin to raid with a progression raiding guild, I’ve found. Tensions get high when you’ve been wiping on the same boss for 4 hrs, and before that last night you wiped for 3.5 hrs on the same darn guy – people blow off steam and you need to have a thick skin. You have to not take it personally when a raid leader says ‘Hey, you messed up there, don’t do that.’ You have to not take it personally when someone asks you to change your talent spec because they believe it’s wrong. You have to accept that a leader has to try to lift you up by your bootstraps and get you energized and excited about winning – and sometimes that means being frank enough to say, “We can do better, we know it, we need to not suck. We’re better than that.” It’s hard to hear in the beginning and there were definitely times when I was learning OS+3 or 6 minute Malygos that I wanted to throw my display out the window with frustration. But that frustration subtly shifted over time – I wasn’t ticked off because someone called me on dying to the lava eruptions, I was ticked off because I knew I was a half-second late on moving, and that was why I died. The focus shifted less from feeling bad because someone ‘called me out’ and more to being annoyed at myself because I knew I could be better.

You gotta be able to let that stuff slide off your back. Last week I had a healer call me out on the healing channel when I was (without realizing it) standing too close to her during one particular fight. I didn’t realize it (for other reasons that aren’t important to go into) and had to accept that hey, she was right. I shouldn’t stand so close to her during this fight.

The bark thing also applies internally. As a healer, there are many times that I have to watch us wipe because we’ve lost too many DPS, or we lost a tank because someone missed an interrupt or what have you. Many, many many times I’ve had to die just because someone else didn’t do something right. And that was pretty frustrating for me in the beginning, and I still struggle with it. It’s hard to keep ‘up’ when you know your seven other healers are all kicking butt and someone else just screwed up. (Conversely, I’m sure it’s just as frustrating to be a tank or DPS and have the reverse happen.)

Now what?TL;DR

I like being a progression raider. God help me, I never thought I would. But I do. I like the challenge, I like continuing to hone yourself by tiny little increments. I like the people, I like knowing I’m in a select subset of guilds worldwide that get to do this stuff. Granted, the guild I’m in isn’t the best in the world, but I’m darn proud of what we do. And much to my surprise, I find myself digging each time we step in to fight a new, largely unknown boss.

Many thanks to Kaylan e. of Drawing on Walls for the artwork!

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Seri sez: Wowhead Profiler — Yet another Armory tool?

June 26, 2009

Introducing Wowhead ProfilerThe folks over at Wowhead launched their new character profiler tool, Wowhead Profiler, yesterday. According to the announcement in their blog, it has been under development for over 2 years and they’re extremely excited about it. I can’t say my initial enthusiasm was matched… do we really need yet another caching tool? Nonetheless, it’s from Wowhead, which has a pretty good history of making good tools…. I kind of felt obligated to check it out, and I figured as long as I was at it I would regurgitate some of the experience for your benefit.

Wowhead Profiler has the bonus of a pretty familiar interface for searching. When you load up the main profiles page it will by default show you everything. You can then use filters to narrow your search down, or choose a Region, Realm and type in a character name to jump to someone specific. The filters are pretty nifty. You can narrow the results down by level, region, realm, character name, faction, guild, arena teams, gear rating, profession and… much more.

If a character hasn’t been seen yet, Wowhead Profiler consults the armory. (It does have a surprising amount of seed data, though a lot of it is old.) You can also tell it to manually add a character to the resync queue, though the refresh may not be immediate depending on current traffic. The site is designed to keep its armory requests spread out, which I’m sure Blizzard appreciates. Characters that haven’t been updated in a while seem to be automatically added to the resync queue when you pull up their profile page. You can tell, because the ‘Resync’ button becomes grayed out and there’s a message at the top of the profile letting you know that it is resyncing.

Theoretically, you can use the profiler as a sandbox to swap gems/enchants and items around and see how they affect your stats but I didn’t have much luck with that. Right clicking an item brings up a menu with options to choose from, but when I chose ‘equip item’ and entered the name of an item in the search field it did a whole lot of nothing. Thinking that maybe it was a browser problem (I’m using the Firefox 3.5 beta at the moment), I swapped to Safari (4.0) and discovered that right-clicking did absolutely nothing there. :(

You can also save copies of the profile if you want to build multiple gear sets, which is potentially awesome for hybrids and off-spec planning… assuming others don’t have the functionality problems that I encountered when it comes to swapping gear around. (Presumably it’s working for someone or they wouldn’t have released the tool.)

Other features include a summary box that shows you at-a-glance where a character stands as far as gear ranking, raid progression, and badges earned. That has the potential to be pretty handy. While I don’t put much stock in gear rankings, being able to see whether someone has the raid experience they claim at a glance like that is pretty valuable. You can also quickly search for upgrades using Wowhead’s default stat weights or your own, which is handy.At-a-glance summary: mousing over the raid icons shows you which achievements they have & haven't completed.

Other misc thoughts…

It’s faster than the Armory when it comes to looking up item information, and as mentioned before the interface is very familiar to folks that have spent any time using Wowhead.

I found I encountered frequent slowdowns when loading character profiles while I was looking it over, but it is probably just due to traffic since the tool is so new.

I was a bit perplexed at first by the empty space in the middle of the character profile pages, uncertain what was supposed to go there until I switched browsers and discovered that it’s an advertising frame (thank you AdBlockPlus). That gave me a bit of a chuckle… a giant advertisement in the middle of the page? GG, Wowhead.

On the whole… it has potential but I’m underwhelmed. I’ll have to check on it later to see if I can actually use the gear-swapping options and play around with it some more, but in the meantime I’ll just keep using Chardev.

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Seri sez: Celebrating Diversity, Snarkcraft-style.

June 25, 2009

With Jov out of town for the week, Seri is once again bereft of an outlet for her random musings, as well as a not insignificant source of daily entertainment. Well, when the cat’s away the mice will play…

Here at World of Snarkcraft we embrace diversity and recognize that no two raiders are alike but we can all co-exist in tree-hugging harmony. In fact, there’s a whole spectrum of different types of raiders out there that I thought I might explore today for lack of something better to do. For kicks, I threw in some non-raider archetypes too as a basis for comparison. Purely scientific, I swear.

  • Raid-Oblivious: Sure, you may have heard of that Naxxramas instance but you’re not sure where it is and your guild isn’t big enough for 5-mans anyway so mostly you just stick to questing and PvP.
  • Raid-Repulsed: The mere idea of raiding turns your stomach and it actually irks you that Blizzard caters to “those people”. You may or may not attend rallies in a bedsheet with eye holes.
  • Raid-Indifferent: You never really understood what all the fuss is about when it comes to raiding. Maybe you’ve been on a few raids, maybe you haven’t. Whatever.
  • Raid-Curious: You have some friends that have tried raiding and seem to like it, but you’re not sure if it’s for you. However, if you get drunk enough you’ll try anything once.
  • Raid-Reluctant: You raid because your friends like to raid, but really you’d be just as happy drinking Shasta & braiding each other’s hair.
  • Raid-Cautious: You raid regularly (and enjoy it) but are careful not to get too invested. You have a life outside the game and you do like to visit it between raids. Or, at least, you are pretty sure your S.O. will cut you off if you don’t.
  • Raid-Obsessed: You raid more than is probably healthy. When you’re not raiding, you’re thinking about and/or planning for raids. You may have developed a taste for progressive German speed metal and six-armed women on those late, late nights in Black Temple.
  • Raid-Shackled: You aren’t as into raiding as you used to be, but you keep doing it for some reason. Maybe you’ve been doing it so long you don’t know what else to, or you feel like you can’t set it aside because your guild/friends need you.
  • Raid-Retired: You used to raid, but for whatever reason you had to pull the plug. Maybe you still play the game, maybe you don’t, but every now and then you like to reconnect with your old buddies and talk about the glory days. These young whippersnappers just don’t know how good they have it.

What description fits you the best? Be honest.

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Guest Post: Yuki Learns You Stat Weighting (p3)

June 25, 2009

sleepyukiAs stated last week, here’s the post outlining how to determine weights to plug into lootrank to figure out your best in slot.  It’s a general list written by (alas) a DPS-type, so it’s not aimed at healers specifically, but I hope you all can still find it useful.  Yuki’s been my guildie, my buddy, and enabler of my anime addiction for several years now.  He’s also the first person who told me that such a thing as mathcraft exists.  Be warned, there’s numbers ahead.

Step 5:  Final Complications

There are basically two things left that haven’t been modeled.  The first is mana regen, which creates some difficulties, and the second is trinkets and the like with activated or proc effects, which presents others.

5a:  Mana Regen

The main thing about mana regen is that it only matters if you run out of mana.  This can make it hard  to model, since it’s not something that easily converts directly into spellpower or attack power.

Probably the most common way of modeling mana regen is in terms of how many extra spells it lets you cast if you WERE to cast until you ran out.  Basically, you figure out how long you can cast without running out of mana, and how much effective healing or damage you’d do on average. Then you see how much 1mp5 would let you cast.  You compare how much a point of spell damage would have added vs. the amount the mp5 added to determine the effective spellpower value of a point of mp5.  This is a popular method because it’s pretty straightforward, and you can modify it a little to include out of 5 second rule regen if you’d like.

Another method is to work backwards:  essentially, you take a length of time longer than the amount of time it would take you to run out of mana chain casting and then calculate how much less time you have to spend on 5-second-rule regen to determine how many more spells you could cast, and use that to derive the relative value.

As you can probably guess, there really isn’t a great way to graft mp5 onto spellpower. Still, these two methods at least produce something, which can be modestly useful for modeling gear.

5b:  Procs

So, we’ve basically covered how to model static stats; what about ones that aren’t so static?  Generally these are in the form of either active abilities (clicky trinkets, for instance) or passive procs (chance-on-hit/crit trinkets).  How to model these?

Actives are actually pretty easy.  You can basically model them as “permanent” power by dividing their effect by the amount of time it spends on cooldown.  So, for instance, a trinket that provides 200 spellpower for 15 seconds on a 1 minute cooldown is effectively the same as one that grants 50 spellpower all the time.  This isn’t wholly accurate (since you can stack some cooldowns to get more out of them, like an unholy DK blowing Gargoyle while her trinket buffs are up), but it’s good enough for government work.

Passives are trickier.  You need to know the proc rate and internal cooldown, which are almost never listed; you’ll need to get them from datamining or testing.  Use these to calculate the average uptime % (which is the proc duration divided by average time to proc + internal cooldown), then multiply the value of the proc by that.  Since this requires you to use the average time to proc, which can vary wildly for low-chance trinkets, and it shares the flaw of not modeling stacked-burst very well with the active version, it’s not wholly accurate, but it gets the job done well enough to compare trinkets.

Step 6:  Putting it all together

At this stage, you have enough information to generate final stat weights:  for each overall stat, add up the weights you calculated for each of their effective ratings you calculated above to determine the final overall weight of that stat.  So, for instance, the value of a point of int is:

Int ESP = Any Value From Talents + (Effective Crit Rating) * (Crit Rating ESP) + (Effective mp5 Rating) * (mp5 ESP)

I used Int on purpose, because an observant reader will note that it provides a benefit we haven’t modeled:  an increase to your base mana pool.  You’ll have to determine what weight (if any) you give to that similarly to how you chose to calculate mp5; I didn’t mention it there mostly so that I could point out that at this stage you should be on the look out for stat effects that you hadn’t considered yet!

Once you’ve done this for everything, you’ll have your final weights for stats as calculated against your baseline!  Now you can use them to help consider gear . . . until you move too far away from your baseline and have to recalculate them.

Closing Thoughts

I’ve always been fairly skeptical of stat weights as anything other than very general comparisons of how “strong” a given stat is.  Having seen this demonstration of what hot dogs are made up, you can probably see why:  there’s a lot of assumptions in the process, and the end result loses value considerably as you move away from your baseline. I tend to agree with Ghostcrawler’s assessment that if you’re just pulling “best” gear from somewhere based on this stuff, you’re not necessarily doing yourself a service as it won’t necessarily actually be “best” for you if your gear is different than the assumptions.

One thing this process will teach you, though, is the underlying mechanics of your class, including what scales with what and how things interact, which is probably the most important thing to learn for any form of theorycraft.  The numbers generated may be of limited value, but the process of generating them has some fairly valuable lessons to be learned along the way.

Aaand done!  You’ve made it!  Special huge thanks to Yuki for putting this together and trying to learn us some math.  Did it work for you?

Also, there’s not gonna be a Tuesday post for me next week.  I’m currently in California visiting my family with the Tarsus; and my mom doesn’t really live in this century as far as internet goes.  But I’ll catch you all the next week!

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Seri sez: You’re a unique, special snowflake… just like everyone else.

June 24, 2009

With Jov out of town for the week, Seri is once again bereft of an outlet for her random musings, as well as a not insignificant source of daily entertainment. Well, when the cat’s away the mice will play…

I’ve been noticing a growing trend on the Guild Recruitment Forum. See if this sounds familiar to you:

“Hi, I’m an awesome <insert spec here> <insert class here> and I’m totally looking for a raid guild. Leave me a message, but if it’s a canned response you can die in a fire.”

Ok, so maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but if you spend a little time browsing the Guild Recruitment Forum you’ll see a lot of anti-canned-response sentiment. People make disparaging remarks about it all the damn time and I just don’t get it. Obviously, they’ve never had to recruit for a raid guild before. If I had to sit down and write a custom-tailored reply to everyone I was even remotely interested in, I’d be eating shaving cream on public transport in a matter of hours.

It’s not that I am blind to the plight of the guild-seeking raider. Looking for a guild is kind of like walking blindfolded through a minefield with magnets strapped to your shoes. But what is about canned responses that these people find so offensive? I can’t imagine that they all think they’re just too good for them, so there must be something else. Why not state what that something is? Don’t, as they say, throw the baby out with the bath water.

As tempting as it is to ignore these posters, I still end up replying in their threads because let’s face it… I’m recruiting because I need people and as prevalent as these requests have become I’d be missing out on a lot of opportunities. (Not to mention that it’s hard enough to find people with decent gear and a compatible schedule.) If I’m feeling spunky I’ll add a customized sentence or two at the beginning, just to give their request a nod. Sometimes it’s not even snarky.

Related posts:

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Guest Post: Yuki Learns you Stat Weighting (p2)

June 24, 2009

sleepyukiAs stated last week, here’s the post outlining how to determine weights to plug into lootrank to figure out your best in slot.  It’s a general list written by (alas) a DPS-type, so it’s not aimed at healers specifically, but I hope you all can still find it useful.  Yuki’s been my guildie, my buddy, and enabler of my anime addiction for several years now.  He’s also the first person who told me that such a thing as mathcraft exists.  Be warned, there’s numbers ahead.

Step 4:  Methodological Chaos

At this point, there are basically three potential methodologies for settling on the final values to be used:  The Quick and Dirty method, the Numerical Model method, and the Simulation method.

Whichever method you choose, at this point you’ll need to know a few things: the average non-crit heal/damage/threat/whatever for each ability you use, whether and how each ability scales with your baseline stat (so, for instance, if an ability gains extra potency per spellpower due to a talent), and whether the ability scales with any other stats (can it crit?  affected in any way by haste?  etc), and how frequently you use each ability.  For the quick method, you can get the last one from a WWS report, but in general you’ll get better results if you determine it from your ideal usage or rotation.

4a:  Quick and Dirty

The fastest way to generate values is to just do them based on a parse.  First you’ll need to know how much a point of spell power adds to each ability’s net effectiveness.  Look up its scaling coefficient and figure out how much 1 spellpower would actually increase that average use of the ability.  You’ll be using this as a point of comparison to determine how much each ability actually scales per point of other things; I’ll henceforth be referring to it as “the baseline scaling value” of for that ability.

Second, you pull out all your averages for all your abilities, and your % usage for each.  Next, figure out how much each would scale with 1% effectiveness of each rating you’re trying to calculate a weight for.  Divide this value by your baseline scaling value, then multiply it by the % of usage your WWS report shows; sum these values up to get your effective spell/attack power value for 1% of each rating, from which you derive the final ESP/EAP per rating point by dividing by its conversion factor for you level.

Advantages/Disadvantages: The advantages of this method should be clear, as well as its drawbacks:  it’s pretty easy, doesn’t take too long, and requires relatively little mathematical modeling, but it’s also really, really bad at things like haste on abilities with cooldowns. But if you’re just looking for a quick approximation and you don’t plan to redo your weights ever, its numbers aren’t too horribly off unless you’re very dependent on those kinds of things.

4b:  Numerical Modeling

This is the “purest” methodology, and also the one that’ll be your best bet if you’re planning to really do a lot of your own stat weighting, since it’s the easiest to revise.

Essentially, you model what your ideal rotation would look like in practice.  I’m going to use an offensive spell as my example, because it’ll give me a chance to show how to model hit and similar stats.

Start with the average base damage of the spell. Because you’ve already determined how your rotation works, you’ll know how many times you can cast it during that time.  Therefore its total contribution of damage during your rotation is:

Damage = (Times cast) * (Average Base damage)

Now, we add in spell damage scaling:

Damage = (Times cast) * (Average Base Damage + [Baseline Scaling Value * Spellpower] )

To add crit, we’ll start with the value of a crit, which is (1 + Crit Bonus Damage Value).  Now we multiply that by your chance of actually getting a crit, which is Base Crit + Crit Rating/Crit Conversion.  Add all that to one and multiply it by the original  value and you’ll have modeled what your damage from that ability would be with crit!

Damage = (Times cast) * (Average Base Damage + [Baseline Scaling Value * Spellpower]) * (1 + (1 + Crit Bonus Damage Value) * (Base Crit + Crit Rating/Crit Conversion)

Hit works as basically a “penalty” on damage until it’s capped.  Whatever damage you could have been doing would be a miss, so it’s 1 – Miss Rate + Hit Rating/Hit Conversion in a ceiling function that can never be above one.  For notational simplicity I’ll just assume we’re below the hit cap.  Note that  “Miss Rate” above includes everything other than hit rating that increases your chance to hit (like misery or a draenei aura), because we’re only comparing the gear stats, so those should be included in the baseline of the model.

Damage = (Times cast) * (Average Base Damage + [Baseline Scaling Value * Spellpower]) * (1 + (1 + Crit Bonus Damage Value) * (Base Crit + Crit Rating/Crit Conversion) * (1 – Miss Rate + Hit Rating/Hit Conversion)

Haste is where things get interesting.  If the ability in question is not cooldown limited, you can effectively cast it “more times”, so our Times Cast actually scales with haste.

Damage = (Times cast * (1 + Haste Rating/Haste Conversion) * (Average Base Damage + [Baseline Scaling Value * Spellpower]) * (1 + (1 + Crit Bonus Damage Value) * (Base Crit + Crit Rating/Crit Conversion) * (1 – Miss Rate + Hit Rating/Hit Conversion)

What if it IS cooldown limited?  Well, in this case, it basically doesn’t scale with haste even if its casting time would be reduced; you can never cast any more of them than the cooldown allows.  But because you’re casting it faster, you have more room for casting other things in your rotation, so those can actually generally be modeled as scaling normally with haste unless you’re trying for complete precision, because they can fill in the extra time left open even though you’re squeezing them between cooldown casts.

This example should show you basically how to handle all the various ways to scale when modeling.  Your final equation will be the sum of all these terms. Run through it first for only the baseline stats you selected earlier, then once for spell damage; the difference between these two becomes your baseline scaling value for the whole rotation.  Now just add a point to a rating and solve through and divide by the baseline scaling value for the ESP/EAP value of that stat.

Advantages/Disadvantages: If your eyes glazed over reading this section you will probably hate this method. It’s very math intensive, and requires you to think like a numerical modeler, which can be hard if you’re not a numbers person.  Also, an error in the model can lead to grossly inaccurate results; this can occur as a math error, or just in terms of how you model your ideal rotation, so there’s a lot of points of potential fail.

On the other hand, if you get it right, you have a comparatively easy way to change your baseline (just change the values), and you’re ahead of the game if your rotation changes (since you can just fiddle with the numbers a bit).  If done well it also produces the best numbers theoretically possible.

4c:  Simulation

This method is both similar to and very different from the previous.  Basically you build (or download) a simulator for your class that effectively “runs” a combat action-by-action for an arbitrarily large amount of time and reports back its results.  You basically just tweak a base value, run the simulation, and compare it to a baseline simulation to determine the comparative value of each stat.

Advantages/Disadvantages: Building your own sim would, of course, require programming knowledge and a slightly less rigorous form of numerical modeling.  Downloading someone else’s requires neither of these, but also requires that you trust THEIR programming knowledge and numerical modeling.  You could also run in issues of RNG-fail, but a sufficiently arbitrarily large number of actions should statistically smooth those out.

The biggest advantage that this method has is that it’s the best option for procs and other random mechanics.  Trying to do a numerical model for something like Windfury (a 20% proc with a 3 second internal cooldown) will quickly make you want to throw yourself under a bus.  I’ll talk about trying to model procs in the following section, but suffice to say this method produces more accurate results than that one.

Part two is done!  You’ve almost made it.  Stay tuned for the final bit tomorrow!

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Seri sez: I’ve got the (holiday) blues.

June 23, 2009

With Jov out of town for the week, Seri is once again bereft of an outlet for her random musings, as well as a not insignificant source of daily entertainment. Well, when the cat’s away the mice will play… a random double-post Tuesday could be the least of your worries by the end of the week.

I’m not sure what it is about WoW holidays that doesn’t excite me anymore. I used to get super pumped for them. I’d trot out all of my alts (of which I had/have many, having two accounts to work with) daily to do whatever repetitive tasks were required to accumulate a pile of seasonal goodies. I chaperoned orphans all over the world, multiple times, for pets. I… I kissed dwarves. For mistletoe. When no one really gave a shit about Spirit. (Ok, except Jov.)

These days, I’m lucky to complete half of the available activities on a single character. I just don’t care any more. I’m sure part of it is the ‘been there, done that’ aspect of the seasonal content. Don’t get me wrong, I think that Blizzard has done a pretty good job of changing things up here and there to make it a little different each time. But… if you’ve seen one Lunar Festival you’ve seen them all, maybe. (You know, I’m not sure I have *ever* killed Omen.)

Even titles and achievements haven’t sparked my interest, probably because they’re such a pain in the ass to complete. Either you’re visiting every zone in Azeroth to talk to an NPC (or, in the case of Midsummer, get ganked) or you’re hunting for some random drop rare item from an hourly chat with an innkeeper to complete your holiday collection. It seems like the more the holidays “mature” the more of a chore they become.

What do I like about holidays? What could Blizzard do more of to make me look forward to them again?

1. Decorations.

They’ve got this one down pretty well. All the holidays have some pretty cool decorations, and I like the change of scenery when I’m wandering around.

2. Seasonal recipes. (and other craftables)

Call me crazy, but I like being able to make seasonal foodstuffs. I would like it more if I could buy holiday spices in July. Hell, it’d give me something to do with all these useless Badges of Justice. *grimace* One of the things they did right with the Lunar Festival and Winter Veil was give us something fun to do with our professions. I’d like to see more of that.

3. Seasonal food & beverages, preferably of the cheap variety.

Make it a real holiday, give us some cheap food/drinks we can buy (with coin, not stupid holiday tokens) to celebrate in style, even if they provide no additional buffs. Though, I wouldn’t turn down additional buffs…

4. Anything I can wear/use after the holiday is over.

I admit it… I still have Midsummer festival-wear from last year in my bank. It was the only reason I did any of the activities last year, and I really only did just enough of them to get the pieces I wanted. I also have a Winter Veil costume, a snowball machine, every Children’s Week pet and a Brewfest outfit/mount. That’s right.. I collect useless shit. And I love it. I hate limited-duration items… give me a broom I can use all year long, dammit! *fistshake*

5. Something to launch myself or my friends out of.

I keep meaning to write a post about my love of giant cannons, harpoons and other toon-gone-projectile devices. Really, the Alliance has the edge in this area, as they have several quest lines that involve launching themselves into the air at high velocity. Pretty much the only thing the Horde has is the Darkmoon cannon and the Demolishers in Ulduar and I’m telling you… that shit never gets old for me. The only thing that’d be better than the ability to turn myself into an elvish projectile would be the ability to load friends up, aim, and shoot. Just… wear this helmet, man. Tuck and roll, it’ll all be fine.

It could only get better if I were dressed in a hand-made costume with a free beer in one hand and a seasonal vanity pet trailing along behind.

Then again, that sounds kind of like an SCA event gone horribly awry.

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Guest Post: Yuki Learns You Stat Weighting (p1)

June 23, 2009

sleepyuki

As stated last week, here’s the post outlining how to determine weights to plug into lootrank to figure out your best in slot.  It’s a general list written by (alas) a DPS-type, so it’s not aimed at healers specifically, but I hope you all can still find it useful.  Yuki’s been my guildie, my buddy, and enabler of my anime addiction for several years now.  He’s also the first person who told me that such a thing as mathcraft exists.  Be warned, there’s numbers ahead.

Step 1:  Choosing A Baseline

In order to compare various stats that scale in wildly different ways, the easiest solution is to create a baseline to compare.  Traditionally, this is either Attack Power  (Effective Attack Power or EAP) for physical classes or Spellpower (Effective Spellpower or ESP) for casters.

Why are they chosen?  Because their effects on damage are very easy to measure.  You could potentially model in terms of direct effect (that is, you could chose the baseline of “1 Effective H/DPS”), but that would make some of the calculations a bit messier and would make the resulting values a bit harder to read, as well as making the model even more sensitive to changes in other stats, so it’s generally better to stick with the simpler version.

You also need to decide at this point whether you’re going to model things that simply provide a percentage increase to your baseline (for instance, the 10% AP buff).  You can in theory leave them out because they can be “canceled out” in that they provide the same benefit to all stats once you’ve converted them to the baseline, but this may not work entirely in practice, which is why you sometimes see stat weights with have things like “1 AP = 1.1 AP” or the like.  I prefer to leave them in even if they’re notationally confusing, simply because it makes the model more robust.

Step 2:  Doing the Easy Math

This is the easy part:  calculating the stat weights for things that simply convert directly into your baseline. For instance, a paladin gets 2 AP from a point of Strength, so before considering other matters, Str would have a value of 2 EAP.

Next, include other scaling factors like talents or percentage-based buffs. Because most paladin builds that care about strength have a talent that increases your total strength by 15%, a point of Strength from gear actually gives you 1.15 strength; furthermore, you should have Blessing of Kings for another 10% (and these are multiplicitive), so the final weight is 1 Str = 2.53 EAP (actually it’s not because I haven’t included Sheath of Light, but I’m simplifying for pedagogical purposes)

You should also take this opportunity to convert stats into their “effective values” of other stats. For example, 166.6… Int = 1% spell crit = 45.91 Critical Strike Rating, so 1 Int is approximately equal to 0.2754 Critical Strike Rating (this math is, of course, for the base value of Int; once you include any talents that increase Int by a percentage and Blessing of Kings, you will of course have a higher amount of effective critical strike per point of Int).

Mana regen is a bit of a special case since it scales with other stats, so we’ll leave it to the side for now.

Step 3:  Setting the Baseline Stats

Because some stats scale as a percentage of your totals (Crit, Hit, Haste, ArP, etc), and other stats scale with each other (Int & Spi => Mp5), in order to compare them, you need a baseline set of stats.  This step is why stat weights will always vary as your gear varies:  where the baseline is set has a fairly direct effect on the values of the various stats, so as you move the stats of the baseline around (by changing the gear, which adds and subtracts stats from your baseline values), your values for each stat will change.  This step is also why people calculating these things rarely agree on the exact value of any given stat.

Most stat weights are done with either a sort of “average” stat mix for a given tier of content (that is, “we expect that most people doing this content will have X spellpower, Y% crit, and Z% haste on their gear when they start”), or by taking the best or average gear from the tier below and using that as the base.  This produces numbers which are not terribly accurate to anyone in particular’s circumstances, but it can be useful to spot trends in gear scaling at your content level; it’s also the only option you have if you’re looking to provide weights for a class/spec rather than for yourself.

If you’re doing this for yourself, the ideal choice is your actual current stats! That way, your final results will tell you what effects adding or subtracting stats will actually have on you.  This is a very good approach for checking out a single piece of gear, but it’ll still be problematic if you’re just trying to figure out what the best overall pieces of gear are for you, since it’s somewhat piecemeal.

At this point, you should also be able to calculate your “effective mp5″ per int or spirit, since you can plug the base values into the regen formula (which I don’t have handy since I don’t ever use it), and then figure out how much MP5 a point in either one would be worth.

Continued in: Yuki Learns You Stat Weighting (p2)

Thanks for reading part 1 (of 3) of this week’s Overwhelming Numbers series.  God I love guest posters!

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The Top 10 Rumors Why Seri Didn’t Write A Post This Week

June 18, 2009

Top 10!#10. Alien abduction.

#9. Got distracted by—ooo, shiny!

#8.

#7.

#6. Er, where was I? Oh, right…

#5. Completely engrossed in Iran election coverage.

#4. Potion sickness.

#3. Busy thwarting zombie apocalypse.

#2. Brokenspacebar.

…and the #1 rumor why Seri didn’t write a post this week:

Guild destroyed by Matticus. (rimshot)

Thank you, please tip your waiter.

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Jov sez: Does this Robe make my butt look fat?

June 16, 2009

A few weeks ago, we got an email requesting we update/continue Dwarfpriest’s lovely gear list.  Well, this post is to say sorry, but we’re not going to be doing that.

Why no gear lists?

Short answer: I’m lazy.  More accurate answer: lists are somewhat misleading.  Contrary to the implications of some, I don’t feel that there’s a universal stat measurement that holds true to every individual of the same class/spec in every situation. I’m not really talking the difference between the needs of a Holy and Disc priest when it comes to gearing (because I think everyone here can agree that they’re not gonna be using the same priorities) but more the difference in the needs between Boo and Sarahbutt (shut up, I’m using my cats.  You know you’ve done it, too…), two Holy Priests with very different priorities and needs.

catpriests

Boo is in a guild just starting on Mimiron in Ulduar 25.  She finds herself placed almost exclusively on raid healing.  Her primary heals in a given night tend to be CoH, ProM, and Flash-hasted PoH.  She’s worked hard on getting her haste up because she’s in a very competitive raid healing team, but now is finding herself hurting a bit in the crit and regen departments.  She’d like to work on that, but is completely unwilling to sacrifice haste to do so.

Sarahbutt is in a smaller guild and duo-healing the pants out of Naxx-10 with her buddy the resto druid.  She’s thought about going Disc, but can’t bring herself to give up the fun toys in deep holy.  Even still, she finds herself healing tanks pretty often, so has worked on upping her crit and regen as much as possible to take advantage of SoL and HC procs for her, Inspiration for her tank.  Her primary spells are Flash, Flash-hasted Greaters, ProM and CoH.  She feels she’s currently pretty good where she’s at, but loves the big numbers more crit grants her, so is always keeping an eye out for more of it.

Okay, so?

If you’re going by best in slot gear lists, certain values have been assigned to certain stats to hold true for everyone of that spec/class.  Dwarfpriest used the following:

Here are the stat weights used:

0.74 Intellect
0.54 Spirit
0.35 Haste
0.15 Crit
1.00 MP5
0.60 Spellpower

To translate, mp5 is valued approx twice as much as spirit and spellpower, three times as much as haste, and six times as much as crit.  Haste is valued twice as much as crit.  Her Int:Spirit ratio is 1.3:1.  I’m not going to get into my opinions of her weights, I’m just using them as an example.  That is a best in slot list for Dwarfpriest, her weights worked for her.

What works for Dwarfpriest doesn’t necessarily work for Sarahbutt or Boo.  Or you.  Or me.  Likewise, any list I come up with will work for me, but not necessarily anyone else, either.  There is no universal stat weight list that works best for everyone.

So what’s the tl;dr?

In short, it’s this:  Stat weights vary based not just on class and spec, but based on task, content, raid group, current gear/stats, and healing style. In short, they’re always changing.

In the above example, Boo‘s current gear weighs Haste and Spellpower higher than Crit and Regen.  For upgrades, she would like to give Crit and Regen more import (increasing their weight) without losing her high focus on Haste (maintaining it’s weight).

Sarahbutt, on the other hand, gives higher weights to Crit and RegenSpellpower is middling, and Haste is barely a blip on her radar.  Her future gear plan follows this trend.

It would be impossible for me to make a post outlining BiS gear when weights are so very subjective.  I admire the people who attempt to do it, but… it’s not for me.

And fear not, gentle readers.  Next week, there will be a guest post outlining exactly how to determine stat weights, for those of you who want an actual answer. :)

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