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Posts with tag theorycraft

Encrypted Text: Even rogues have homework


Every week, WoW Insider brings you Encrypted Text for assassination, combat and subtlety rogues. Chase Christian will be your guide to the world of shadows every Wednesday. Feel free to email me with any screenshots you'd like to see featured here or any questions you might have!

I hate homework. When I was in school, I was always finding creative ways to turn my assignments in as late as possible. I completed most my English assignments the night before they were due, and I've solved a few calculus questions in the car on my way to class. No matter how important the assignment was, there was always something more interesting that I would rather do. When it comes down to a heads-up match between playing Warcraft 2 and studying biology flashcards, there's really no contest.

Playing a rogue successfully in the endgame of World of Warcraft requires a lot of homework. We've talked before about the very math-centric natures of rogue theorycrafting. Without a spreadsheet or other mathematical tool, it's almost impossible to create a working model for testing DPS and checking gear. Boss abilities are constantly changing and being added, and they often interact with our abilities in non-standard ways. Blizzard's developers are implementing fixes on a daily basis. In order to keep up with the pace of WoW's development, you simply have to do your homework.

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Filed under: Rogue, (Rogue) Encrypted Text

In defense of gear simulations

Josh Myers is not a scientist. The closest he's ever come to being one is winning the Science Fair in 8th grade and getting straight As in physics in high school. Despite these clear signs telling him to look for a career in science, he decided instead to go for a degree in English. His wallet hasn't forgiven him since.

"Just sim it" is a phrase almost everyone who has played World of Warcraft in the past few years is familiar with. Should my enhancement shaman use Tunic of Failed Experiments or Voltage Source Chestguard? Sim it. How much of a DPS increase is the four-piece Firelord's Vestments bonus? Spreadsheet it. How much DPS am I losing since I can't afford a Flask of the Winds on my hunter? SIM IT!

I'll be the very first to say that saying "just sim it" isn't a constructive thing to say. Beyond being slightly rude, it doesn't explain why simming is such a good idea. However, while I find "just sim it" to be in poor taste, the actual act of simming or spreadsheeting gear choices is a really good idea. This post aims to address why we encourage spreadsheeting your DPS choices.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Raiding, Cataclysm

Knowledge, newbies, and why kindness pays off

I played WoW on dial-up for a while, and during that time, it was close to impossible for me to raid anything but add-light 10-man content. So I did the only thing that seemed doable: leveled alts. A lot of them. While previously I had vowed to only level my rogue (my original main) to max level in any given expansion, I was suddenly the proud owner of six level 80 characters.

Even after I got back on actual broadband internet, Cataclysm's introduction of new races (especially Races That Are Worgen) gave me some more incentive to bring my number of max-level characters up to, well, its maximum level. So I finally listened to Matt Rossi and made a worgen warrior. He's awesome. And he tanks, a first for me. I've been leveling him almost exclusively through the dungeon finder, taking advantage of the instant queues for a dog what wears plate armor.

I'm still pretty new to tanking, but between new talent trees, heirlooms, and questing/dungeon gear with better stat balance, most low-level instances are a breeze. So I move fast. Sometimes a little faster than other people. The same kinds of people who attack from the front as a melee class or hit "need" on spirit weapons as a mage. And I would make snide remarks to those kinds of people.

Then I realized something. I was being kind of a jackass.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

Totem Talk: Post-patch enhancement shaman still waiting for buffs

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Totem Talk for elemental, enhancement, and restoration shamans. Rich Maloy lives and breathes enhancement: his main spec is enhance, his off-spec is enhance. He blogs about the life and times of enhance and leads the guild Big Crits (Season 2 Ep 06 now out!) as the enhancement shaman Stoneybaby.

We're now two full weeks into patch 4.0.1 with our new and improved enhancement spec. Improved? Actually, no. Our DPS is only marginally improved over the previous incarnation, while our fellow melee brethren were buffed to the teeth. My rough analysis shows the difference between us and top melee DPS, usually warrior and death knight, has widened significantly since the patch.

I'm going to preface all of this analysis by saying that I am not the top enhancement shaman, by far. I play well, I study my class, I optimize my spec, gems, forging, gear and rotations. I don't die to stupid stuff -- well, at least not often! In other words, I try to push my damage without sacrificing myself. Be forewarned that some of these numbers I'm embarrassed to post in such a public manner, and while I'm hardly the benchmark for DPS, I can at least provide a baseline of what your average progression raider's numbers look like.

On average across eight of 12 hard-mode fights in ICC (excluding the gimmick fights Gunship, VDW and BQL, and excluding H-LK because we're just now working on him), the top melee DPS was doing 50 percent more damage than me pre-patch and 64 percent more post-patch. I could narrow that gap down to about 15 percent on a standstill fight such as Deathbringer Saurfang, but on high-movement fights such as Sindy, the top melee would do as much as 80 percent more damage than me overall.

As much as it pains me to say this, as a raid leader I have to ask the question: Am I dead weight in raids right now? Will level 85 with Unleash Elements bring better output?

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Filed under: Shaman, (Shaman) Totem Talk

Spiritual Guidance: Shield spam and Divine Aegis, a theorycrafting story

In the beginning there were priests. Then Blizzard said "Let there be other classes!" Things have been a lot more complicated ever since. Fortunately, there is Spiritual Guidance, WoW.com's bi-weekly guide for priests. On Sundays you can enjoy discussion on discipline, holy, and healing in the company of Dawn Moore. We don't have cookies here, but only because we call them biscuits, and serve them with tea, sandwiches, and scones. Did you want one lump, or two?

A couple of months ago I found myself talking to a non-priest about the gems I had slotted on my character. He was of the understanding that disc priests wanted nothing but crit, and thought it was strange that I had gemmed straight spellpower on all my gear. Figuring he was behind on the times, I happily explained to him that I was using the standard gem set up for shield spamming disc priests, which works around the premise that if the majority of what we do is cast shields, then we should stack as much spellpower as possible in order to make our most used spell (Power Word: Shield) absorb more. This is the standard practice advised to shield spammers throughout the priest community, and I've advised it here on Spiritual Guidance before as well.

The non-priest still didn't understand though. He kept insisting "but crit ..." which inclined me to gently stroke back his hair and say "there there, poor little confused non-priest, it's all right." I allowed him his dignity though, and instead went on with my explanation. I told him that alternative stats like crit and haste didn't do much for shield spamming since Power Word: Shield can't crit, and Borrowed Time removes the necessity for haste since the talent carries us down to the 1 second GCD soft cap whenever we cast Power Word: Shield. The non-priest still didn't understand, so I explained to him that a disc priest's primary interest in crit was Divine Aegis, a talent which applies a second shield whenever one of your spells crits. "But shields don't crit," I reiterated. "The heal from the Glyph of Power Word: Shield can, but that would only add say ... 500 extra absorption from Divine Aegis. The spellpower is still better."

As I typed out those last words, they boomeranged back and hit me square in the face. Startled, I peeled the sans serif off my nose and and reexamined the limp letters in my hands. Suddenly I wondered, "is that really true?"

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Filed under: Priest, (Priest) Spiritual Guidance

TheoryCraft 101: Melee haste

TheoryCraft101 is here to introduce the more hardcore aspects of theorycrafting in a more casual approach. Have questions about attack speed? Do you know what PPM stands for? We have the answers right here.

Another week, another article dealing with the math behind the scenes of World of Warcraft. Last week, the discussion focused around caster haste; this week will be a continuation of that as we delve into the world of melee haste. Haste follows a pretty different system between spells and melee attacks. When it comes to casters, haste influences how fast a spell is cast as well as the GCD for all abilities, allowing for the standard 1.5-second GCD to be reduced to 1 second. Haste for melee attacks, however, only increases the swing timer of auto-attacks and does not reduce the GCD on physical abilities.

This has created a pretty big disparity between how melee value haste over casters, with casters generally favoring haste far more than melee classes. Blizzard has attempted to equalize this in some ways throughout Wrath of the Lich King by increasing the amount of haste that melee get per point of rating, yet that really hasn't made much of a difference. Cataclysm will attempt to address this disparity once again by increasing the resource gain of melee classes through haste. Obviously the finer points of this mechanic are not known to the community at large yet, and it is unlikely that Blizzard has the system fine tuned at this point anyway, so this article will not address that fact. It is something to remember for the future, though.

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Encrypted Text: How to gear your rogue to be raid-ready


Every Wednesday, Chase Christian of Encrypted Text invites you to enter the world of shadows, as we explore the secrets and mechanics of the rogue class. This week, we talk about the proper way to start gearing your rogue to succeed in the raiding scene. Step 1: Don't forget your pants.

I would love to see the Horde conduct a democratic election. We've heard that Garrosh will be taking the reins from Thrall, but just think of the fun that we could have watching various candidates debate the issues. I can assume that Garrosh would be in support of stricter immigration policies, while Vol'jin would be voting for any measure that protected the Echo Isles rainforest. Sylvanas would be accused of campaign fraud by some pro-Earthmother TAC (Tauren Action Committee) members, who would then mysteriously disappear a week later without a trace.

The hot topics would obviously be the economy (or what's left of it, after Basil's had his shot), setting up a universal epic system, and perhaps the most controversial matter: GearScore. The primary cause for PUG elitism is the mentality that anyone with worse gear than me is a scrub, and anyone with better gear than me is a nerd. GearScore is only a means to an end, which is to make it easy for a raid leader to quickly judge players. Rather than complaining, there's an even easier way to bring your rogue up to the minimum GS bar set by trade chat: let's get you into some new gear!

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Filed under: Rogue, (Rogue) Encrypted Text

TheoryCraft 101: Caster haste

TheoryCraft101 is here to introduce the more hardcore aspects of theorycrafting in a more casual approach. Do you need to know how quickly you can get that spell to cast? We've got your answers right here!

Welcome back once again to another installment of TheoryCraft 101. Past TheoryCraft 101 articles have already covered aspects of spellpower and melee hit; this week we are going to be discussing the ins and outs of caster haste. Haste, unlike other mechanics within the game, is a rather flat system. Haste is universal. There isn't a long list of exceptions, as you find with spellpower; every spell's cast time is changed by haste in the exact same way. Although boring, there is something beautiful in the simplicity of haste. The stat is so clean, the rules so set, that it is actually easy to predict.

For how simple the mechanic is theoretically, it is far more convoluted in practice. Haste is an odd stat in that it is the only DPS stat people stack that doesn't directly increase the damage potential of their spells. A hasted Fireball will do exactly the same amount of damage as an unhasted Fireball; it will merely do it faster. For this reason, haste is something of a fickle mistress. Haste is beautiful in that is holds no RNG variables in theory. 1% haste is always 1% haste; a spell's cast time will always be changed by the exact same amount without fail.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

Theorycraft 101: Spellpower

Theorycrafting was once just a thing for the geekiest of geeks, the hardest of the hardcore, the most nerdiest, basement dwelling-est, living with mom-est gamers out there. As the World of Warcraft has grown in popularity and end-game raiding content has become more and more accessible, however, theorycrafting has become something that is relevant to the everyday casual gamer as well. Through sites such as Elitist Jerks, more and more people have become exposed to the deeper mathematical concepts that drive this game. Such sites, however, are often fraught with convoluted, difficult-to-follow information and strings of calculations that can be hard for users to understand. I will admit that there are many times when the math some of the players post in these places can go way over my head.

To that end, there have been many easy-to-use tools developed in order to simplify the aspects of theorycrafting into a practical application that players can use. Things such as Rawr or Simcraft have become a very popular source of information regarding theoretical data and how it can be used within the game, giving access to information such as talent spec choices and gearing upgrades. Even still, such programs are not without their flaws, and often the theoretical mechanics used by such programs can be rather confusing to follow. It's my wish to bring theorycrafting to the general population in a different approach. Instead of merely tossing out information at random with the hopes that someone out there will grasp the concept, I wish for people to understand the basics that fuel theorycrafting by presenting it in such a way that is easy to understand.

To that end, I wish to present the theory behind the mathematical calculations for spellpower. How does spellpower scaling function? What effect does the stat really have for increasing a player's power? Why does spellpower behave the way that it does? These are all questions that form the basic principles behind theorycrafting, and it is the allure of figuring such things out that draws people to theorycrafting. As the game becomes more accessible to more people, so too should the theory that drives it.

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Blood Pact: Using SimulationCraft for gear selection

Blood Pact is your weekly warlock digest brought to you by Dominic Hobbs. "He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast." ~ Leonardo da Vinci

As warlocks, we're used to delving into the mysterious depths of the occult to seek the knowledge that brings us power. This week I'm going to attempt to lift the veil of mystery that covers what is possibly the most powerful theorycrafting tool at our disposal. SimulationCraft is a tool that anyone who has frequented the Elitist Jerks forums will no doubt have run into at least once. In my experience many people take one look and run screaming from all the "maths" that starts to intrude on their game.

With this article I would like to reduce the "fear factor" of SimulationCraft and show one way in which it can be very useful. Many of us put together lists of upgrades that we would like to get our hands on and we all do that by comparing the stats on each item. We may also use lists produced by others or even give different values or weights to an item's stats by using scores we find -- these tend to be based on theoretical 'model' warlock's gear set. What I want to show you is how you can generate these lists and scores for yourself based on your own gear.

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Filed under: Warlock, Analysis / Opinion, Raiding, (Warlock) Blood Pact

Drop chance probability

Probability is a greatly misunderstood area of math that impacts most areas of WoW gameplay, but none so intensely debated as drop chances. You don't have to be a math expert to want to know how many times you need to kill a boss to have even odds of seeing that drop you're seeking. Unfortunately everyone seems to be saying something different about how probability works.

If you hope to get the rare Deathcharger's Reins mount from Baron Rivendare for example, we know that it has a 1% drop chance. That means that every time you kill the Black Baron you have a 1% chance of getting the mount. 1% on the first kill, and 1% on the 100th kill. However, over the course of 100 kills, you have a much higher probability of getting the mount. But not 100%. Never 100%.

Join me after the cut where we take a friendly and gentle look at understanding probability, and give you a cool tool to automatically calculate drop probabilities for you!

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Filed under: Items, Instances, Raiding

Ask Mr. Robot


Simulators for WoW are nothing new -- Rawr, for instance, has been around for years, and is steadily snowballing into a one-stop shop for simulating all classes (it's not there yet, but I still love it). In case you're scratching your head at this point, a simulator is like a spreadsheet, but much smarter -- instead of using some general approximations to calculate how your gear is going to change your DPS, it basically goes ahead and plays a model version of the game for you. Edit: apparently Rawr is not a simulator -- it uses formulas that come up with the same answer every time, much like spreadsheets. We still love it anyway.

What is new about the simulator I want to talk about today, which seems to be entitled "Mr. Robot," is that it runs on the web, in Microsoft's Silverlight framework (Silverlight seems to have come about because someone at MS saw Flash and decided they wanted one too). This means it's cross-platform and there's nothing to install (well, except Silverlight, but you may have that already). They're only doing sims for Death Knights right now, but the team says more classes are coming (I hear Warlock is next, but don't quote me).

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Filed under: Classes, Death Knight

BobTurkey updates Priest theorycraft


Disc Holy
MP5 1.0000 1.0000
Spirit 0.3317 0.6397
Intellect 0.7853 0.7480
SP 0.6000 0.6000
Crit rating 0.3564 0.3763
Stamina 0.2000 0.2000
Haste rating 0.2925 0.3059
I love theorycraft. One of my favorite things about WoW is the fact that you can do math about it, and that math can help you play better. One of the better examples of theorycraft out there was MK, author of A Dwarf Priest, who did some seriously cool work on Holy gear ranking for Wrath.

However, MK hasn't been seen around lately, and hasn't updated the information for patch 3.1, with its big changes to spirit and to Priest talents. Fortunately, a blogger named BobTurkey has stepped in and thoroughly reworked all the numbers, at great and interesting length. It's times like these that I really love the WoW community.

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Filed under: Priest, Items

Ghostcrawler on the mechanics behind Armor Penetration

There is a great thread over on the Damage Dealing Forums started by a Rogue about the mechanics of the Armor Penetration cap/observed effectiveness. Armor Pen is a statistic that will allow an attack to ignore a given amount of armor.

The thread and the contents inside it are notable in that it is, by my recollection, the first time a Blizzard employee has given out the complete rundown of an in-game formula. While there have been hints and comments about how certain statistics impact the game from patch notes and game designer posts in the past, there has never been a "step a, step b, step c" like algorithmic definition to all those stats contained within the black box of theorycrafting.

In giving out the computations behind Armor Penetration, Ghostcrawler makes note to point out that Blizzard is not, and will not, get in a habit of delivering theorycrafting to players. They like the idea that players have to test out game mechanics, and that while the starting and end results are known, what happens in the middle of combat isn't written in stone. In the case of the Armor Penetration rating, they released it due to quite a bit of (somewhat) inaccurate information out there.

The armor penetration formula, and an example, after the break.

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Filed under: Odds and ends

Is Wrath too easy, or are we just better?

In the eternal question of whether Wrath of the Lich King is too easy, Our Girl Friday posits an answer that I've often wondered about myself. Is it really that WotLK is so gosh-darned easy, or could the issue actually be that maybe, just maybe, the players have gotten better?

The wealth of knowledge about the nuts-and-bolts of theorycraft has never been more available. New players and old veterans alike have resources like WoW Insider, Wowhead, WoWwiki, or that juggernaut of theorycraft, Elitist Jerks. There are strategy videos, stategy manuals, and even a few strategy comics. The forums themselves have never been more informative, especially when you consider Ghostcrawler laying down wisdom all over the place. The information about how to play is out there for the taking.

And, c'mon. It's been about half a decade and near 12 million subscribers. Once you've done Nethekurse or Zereketh, you should know that you're not supposed to stand in pink, black, or red circles. Really, just don't stand in stuff. Is that really such a deep and meaningful skill that you have to relearn "Don't stand in stuff!" for Kel'Thuzad? So, if the Wrath raids aren't demanding a gear-based progression (meaning, it's all a gear check), then we should entertain the idea that we've gotten pretty good at not standing in stuff. That's certainly not the only raiding skill, but I'm using it as an indication that we're meeting the basic "skill" requirements.

Of course, even Ghostcrawler has acknowledged that Naxxramas is somewhat the new welfare epics. We know that Ulduar's going to be noticeably more "difficult." But until then, we could probably accept that the current accessibility of content owes some part to us getting better as players.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Tips, Tricks, Blizzard, Guides

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