Melee friendly raids, ah, cool, pardon, come again?

Ah, such wonderful flame-bait, blogger-bait, and diversive material; how-do-we-define-melee-friendly from WoW Insider’s post and the related interview from Blizzard. I’m blogging it as it is an ongoing joke amongst some of the melee folks I regularly chat with. I love it when I hear a fight is melee friendly, especially when it comes from a non-melee (really healer, its not easy up the backside of this giant ogre). The WI blog is a long post, and worth a read if you have not looked.

Then join me here as I meander through my thoughts a bit…

Q. How do you know if a fight is melee friendly?

A. If the dps contribution on excellent attempts or a range of kills does not have melee behind in the overall damage done then the fight is probably not unfriendly to melee or range.

Any other measure is not based on what the players are doing, and should be questioned. It is overly melee friendly if the range dps cannot keep up with the melee, and vice-versa.

Q. How do you design for melee (or range) friendly?

A. At a high level view, not in a minute by minute breakdown.

I think it is ok for fights to have bias. The balance should be across the raid instance content, and also hopefully across the phases; but not stress about within one phase, or even one fight.

I love a good melee fight. Primarily that is because a lot of my time over the years has been played on a Death Knight. Before that I played on a Warlock or a Paladin, but only rarely did dps as the Paladin because early days the Pallys were not so hot in dps. So at the time that Wrath came out I switched to a DK and have only hooched around on a Boomkin, Warlock, or Shadow Priest as range dps since.

Secondly I’ll add to that I’m a little lazy these days in fights, or said another way I prefer fights that have mechanics that make sense, and that when combined form complexity in the encounter.

A principal example is Lei-Shen from Throne of Thunder. I think it is a great fight because:

  • As an end boss it is unforgiving of mistakes. Good. It frustrates the absolute crap out of me that a player can grief his team by repeatedly making mistakes, and sometimes even dedicated players make mistakes (that might feel like griefing), but it is worse when a fight is too easy, and I support end bosses being tough.
  • Almost every attack or mechanic has been used before on the raiders in trash, pve areas, or a previous boss. Bloody excellent. No excuse for not understanding the basics. The complexity comes when responding to multiples at the same time.
  • With the exception of the “blue swirls of ephemeral bad” near the boss, the bad poo on the floor is blisteringly obvious. When one quarter of the floor space lights up and sparkles just after the lightning reactors overload…yes, you, you’re standing in bad stuff. MOVE. B-res pls lol.
  • If done well, both Range Dps and Melee Dps have roles to do which means that no style is significantly disadvantaged. In LFR and Normal that is, I never saw Heroic mode, but can imagine it is as much fun, expect with razor blade thick-shakes and booster rockets.

Continue reading

DK DPS on WoW Patch 5.4 … again

I shouldn’t look at DPS Rankings, as they are skewed in ways that mean they are one source of input for performance and are nothing like a perfect. That said, the recent updates from SimCraft are giving me deja vu.

I wrote about the 5.3 Dps rankings in August this year, and this post could use many of the same words. Meaning the upward geared DKs will be fighting harder to get the same dps as some other classes. Ref: http://www.noxxic.com/wow/dps-rankings/realistic#553. 

This is the Ranking for ilevel 553-ish gear, and I’m uninspired by how the ilevels scale.

5-4-dps-rank-553-gearWhat do we have here for Patch 5.4? Continue reading

Can the Trinity be damned?

Can the trinity of tank, heal, damage roles in online rpg games be removed? Really?

An old question, and perhaps one which is both too subjective for each game style in question, and also blisteringly obvious for MMOs. Blessing of Kings has a great post where the discussion thread is the perfect primer for the issues and the potential degrees of how effective the solutions will be. A darn good read.

trinity-dangerousTo me it is all about degrees of effectiveness vs the suspension of disbelief. No solution I’ve ever read provided a summary for an MMORPG that has no role based system, without a set of quasi-magical powers to manipulate the monster’s behaviour. And that is not what might really happen.

If nine of my friends and I decided to attack a giant, I don’t think the giant would understand taunts enough to only swing at one person, or that two of us were good at recovering from wounds so might be better to kill early. The giant is going to kill easy targets, targets that hurt it a lot, and then the rest of us.

Similarly a grizzly bear will attack one of us until it can get a good meal, unless we keep poking it with spears in which case it will hurt the spear carrier and probably ignore any others just standing to the side waving their hands (healing, caster dps).

In MMORPGs I don’t think it can be totally removed. I don’t think I’d want it removed either. We have a method which is essentially in support of the fun, and while the mechanics of that illusion might be tweaked, the illusion is useful.

Why in hell is DK dps so low?

I went digging for relative DPS performance of each class and spec. Why? Well I heard grumblings that Boomkins were shitty dps in patch 5.3, and Mages were getting nurfed. Apparently Shadow Priests were doing poorly too. I did not want to accept that on face value, so had to dig.

dpsRanking5-3(Source: Noxxic’s rankings, based upon SimCraft. http://www.noxxic.com/wow/dps-rankings/realistic, for patch 5.3 using normal mode gear)

As a DK what I found made be bloody angry. It seems that the rough simulations performed by the SimulationCraft app for both “ideal” and “realistic” conditions have Death Knights as the lowest dps regardless of their spec choice.

Yup, that means all the banter normally seen between which playstyle is performing better is basically moot when you consider that any choice a DK makes can be out performed by every other class. Continue reading

Great feature – Loot Spec Selection

Aside

One aspect introduced recently in World of Warcraft was the option to select your preferred spec for Loot. By golly! It is great. If you are a hybrid class and not doing this then you should really should give it some thought. My Tank set has been improved by this feature more than once already.
2-Loot-specialisation-choice
It is one of the best quality of life type improvements I think have been made ever.

Results from SimCrafting a character

Al little while ago I started fusking about with SimCraft to test differences between items where the set bonuses apply. It is a pretty wild tool. It basically runs tens of thousands of dps simulations to seem what factors, abilities, and stats affect the dps the most for your character. Min dps 73.5k, max 96k – well I do somewhere in the middle, very close to the average depending on the fight. Yup, makes sense.

simCraft-Mort-12-12-22-b

For example I can see the spread of which abilities are used for dps, and then can compare that to the figures that the EJ folks have. The White area above in the pie chart is waiting – that is a bad sign that there is a significant amount of time in the rotation where an ability is not used when reaching the optimal dps figures.

below I can also see how powerful relative to each other some abilities are – for example I knew that Soul Reaper was good, but not that it was stand out so much better than all other abilities. Take a look, the difference is huge!

Then also the dps scaling weights – which are much argued in forums for what stat has what weighting. Well I know now what measures I should put into a custom config of stat weightings for reforging to get the optimal response for my current build. No surprise, just slight tweaks in the values.

simCraft-Mort-12-12-22-aAll in all, an excellent little slice of information, and something i will resist each time a major item alters in my gear. Happy killing.

Mathy question on DK set bonuses and gear item levels

dk-symbolOn first drop I was stoked – the tier gear is something that I crave due to the old days when the BiS gear was almost always Tier only, and all the rest of the gear was a poor shadowy reflection of the Tier gear. And the Tier generally was a great looking matched set and transmog was still a gleam in the lead dev’s eye.

I had the pleasure of getting a few Tier tokens from kills (four items in two weeks – DPS LFR Chest and Normal Gloves, and also LFR Chest and Gloves) and now have a ponder-some issue for DPS gear is due to a difference in item level between my current Chest item (489), and the Raid Finder DK set Chest (483).

TLDR = To get the Tier 14 2 set bonus I have to drop the chest item level down 6 item levels. Is the set bonus of +10% damage to key dps abilities better than 6 item levels of stats other stats?

I’m really not sure. It is likely an overall dps loss, but if so by how much? Does that DPS loss become mitigated by the 4 set bonus if I can get those drops instead? Hmm.

In thinking through the solution I compared the 489 Tier 14 with the 489 Breastplate I was using and they are almost on par, with the current one (King’s Guard) a smidge ahead. This however does not include the benefit of adding either of the Tier bonuses themselves, which I’d argue makes the Tier Breastplate at 489 better.

By comparison the items show a clear difference, which is to be expected with 6 ilevels.

questionT14-1

Left is the LFR T14 Chest, and the right column shows the 489 King’s Guard chest.

Overall gains of 62 Str, 590 Mastery, and 186 Haste vs the 694 Crit is the point of differentiation, as the Stamina and Armor is moot.

So then I thought to apply the stat weightings for  Frost DKs via Wowhead. The goal was to see what difference for teh item alone was, in terms of marginal upgrade or significant upgrade.

This showed the combined weighting value of 156,784 pts for the T14 LFR Chest, and 161,280 for the 489 Chest; meaning a difference of only approx 3% in the two items. Ignoring that this is probably not the way to use item weightings (?) it shows that the LFR item is only a minor downgrade.

It also made me realise that even if I know what the weighting is for the items themselves, I do not have a dps value to compare too, as I cannot ratify a specific DPS figure increase against items level without a set of repeated simulations (like SimCraft).  I don’t know a way to settle what the difference is. Fark. Continue reading

Frosty dps tip

Aside

dk-symbolQuick note – Recently the 2-hander dps cycle for Frost started to make more sense, and the extra bit that “clicked” was sometimes needing to wait rather than mash buttons (I love mashing buttons). When KM procs and the next Obliterate or Frost Strike will be a crit, but due to resource cooldowns and various random things the Obliterate ability is often not usable, but Frost Strike is. Generally I would hit Frost Strike if OB was more than 3 seconds away.

What made this frustrating is that sometimes the FS would trigger OB to come up, or the OB might seem it was 4-6 seconds away, and then snap to ready a second later. Meaning maybe I should have waited. Recently I said “stuff it” and started waiting. It has made a small difference, I think a slight DPS increase.

What is really hard is altering the “muscle memory” of the frost style to not snap that FS button. My finger literally hesitates over the button now, and I’m trying to re-train my fingers so that I’m mashing OB first, or better yet – not mashing at all. Some folks will say dps is easy, but not all Dps is easy; sometimes the hardest thing is not doing what you’ve trained yourself to do. Unlearn.

So it was worth it – the advice from EJ and such as always been to do this, just that its easier to read than actually implement.

Happy Killing

cropped-mortigen-tank-banner.jpg

Mortigen, back in the old days in Dalaran. When Naxx v2.0 gear was awesome, no transmogs were around, and we walked to school in the snow, uphill, etc.

dps rankings for pve raiding

Saw the wowinsider post about dps performance in raids, 10 man through LFR to 25 man Heroic. The disparity (based upon raidbot) between Unholy vs Frost Death Knights is wider than I thought, especially when you show the data given an average, and the Unholy is below average; approx 10-20% difference based upon ideal scenarios, depending on what style of raid you are playing in. Bugger.

Nobody likes being below average. 🙂 I’ll have to rectify my spec choice asap. 10% might translate doing ~12.5% of the dps in a fight into ~13%, which could also be considered a slightly faster transition between boss phases in most fights. That is a key factor in killing bosses successfully!

What is disparaging is that some classes-specs are not suffering a 10% gap, they’re in the 22-35% below average range! Some BM Hunter, Frost mages, and one Rogue spec are horrid, and Monks are not far behind them. By comparison a DK being 10% shy of average is doing OK. Now in contrast Rogues and Mages have a spec each that can do well, so all is not lost. Afflic Warlocks, Fire Mages and Shadow Priests should be lighting up the dps charts.

What should this type of information lead to?

Perhaps it should create awareness of the potential to improve by switching play styles amongst characters, and it should certainly serve as some guide for who to take to a raid. Taking a Mage who is not spec’ed into Fire is not doing the raid any favours (that is not to say don’t bring the player, et al – just be aware).

It should not be taken as an excuse to whine about balance and favoritism, there is enough of that already. As always theory crafting, especially via graphs should always be taken with a grain of salt. Happy killing.

Which? Unholy vs Frost presence for PvE DPS

Aside

In the 5.0.4 Mists changes again the style and some of the details for Presences for DKs. All the detail of the changes can be put aside as the rule remains unchanged from Cataclysm: All PvE DPS DKs use Unholy Presence.

If you wish to know more about the changes then I highly recommend the summary threads on the EJ forums, as they are concise and clear. In fact the thread covers far more than just the presence, it gives good reasons for most recommendations, and tells you when the choice is immaterial. Go forth and commit mayhem. Continue reading

Should DPS Death Knights learn to Tank?

Good topic on wow insider a while ago asking if Healing priests should learn shadow, and it has resonance with a DK’s dps role. So I’ll rhetorically ask:

Should DPS Death Knights learn to Tank? And vice versa?

I’d like to give you a balanced and well rounded opinion on this, complete with examples and war stories, but I can’t. The answer is so bloody obvious it makes me wonder how you could have the opposite view – my answer is by hell and damnation they should.

Everyone will play better and understand roles better when they have a wider set of experience. If you have not done it, go try a different role in 5 mans. Do 20 runs in each role, and then see if it changed your attitude.

Disagree? Please tell me why.

Frost DK update for 4.1

The patch updates from 4.1 for the Death Knight class has changed Frost dps significantly. A Frost DK should review the new EJ notes which seem accurate to my quick testing (repeat wiping on Neferian) in last night’s raid.

Important updates:

  • Blood Strike is now removed from the rotation / priority, as Blood of the North gives Frost Death Knights all their Blood runes as Death runes. I love this, it feels so much better to be managing one less resource, and instead trying to balance the use of those extra runes for Obliterate strikes.
  • Unholy presence is now the default presence. This changes all the previous information for DPS as Frost, and is probably the biggest change in the update. It may also not stay that way, depending on what the percieved issues are with the Frost presence being almost redundant. I also really like this as it gives a great movement boost, which so many raids need. It is however still a huge debate in progress, being based upon all sorts of parses of combat logs. It may be that in a stand and spank fight the Frost presence might pull ahead, rather than Unholy presence which is excellent for movement fights. My bias is based upon doing kiting and high movement fights. I’d expect that eventually an optimal will be found.
  • Check your Glyphs, especially the Hungering Cold glyph. I’m finding that as Frost DK my job is often to kite something, so this glyph is very powerful as you can ignore the normal resources needed to trigger it. I’ve changed from the standard build to have better CC options for our raid, and hopefully the increased control will be a suitable compensation for a reduction in dps.

Still to test is which of the off-spec talents are actually better, give the balance of diseases increased duration vs the persistent dps increase from other talents.

algorithm for need vs greed rolls by role

I’ve bashed the LFD Call to Arms as not going far enough, and not being an effective solution; and as a blogger with no leverage or responsibility in the game that is easy to do. So instead of a blog post which grumbles, here is a blog post with a suggestion.

Item stat based rules for Need vs Greed, for group roles.

The random dungeon finder tool now filters on armour type, but no further. I’m proposing that there is an algorithm which can filter the Need vs Greed option even further, so that gear is far less likely to be awarded to the wrong role. Using this the players would be getting gear with a far higher (but not imperfect) degree of focus on the role they joined to execute.

We have four roles and a range of special cases for gear within the class combinations created by those roles (Range DPS, Melee DPS, Tank, and Heal). It’s a bad thing to see a Need roll on an item which will never be used, such as a Death Knight rolling need on a Plate item which has Int on it, or a Hunter rolling on a staff with Spirit.

Here is a suggested solution to improve the algorithm which filters Need vs Greed selection:

Use role based filters for all Need role which restrict based upon:

  • Apply a primary stat filter, where the item must have that stat present.
  • Apply a secondary stat filter, where any one of the listed stats must be present.
  • Apply a secondary stat filter, where if any of the listed stats are present then the character is excluded from the Need roll.

This allows for the armor type restriction to hold as currently implemented, and the armor type restriction would still act as a restriction. It allows trinkets, rings, necks and other non-armor type items to be classified using the stats assigned to the item. This mean that it is not an arbitrary assignment of priority, but one based on the stats which the item has and how they are valued as recognised by item weightings.

The rules allow for an item within a armour type that a role might current role on to be corrected, like Int plate vs Dodge plate, or a trinket with only one stat, and allows for ignoring the Stamina values on gear. While this might disadvantage Tanks slightly, I am not sure of many items which would otherwise be selectable which would not also be valid choices for DPS characters – so the degree of impact is less.

All that we need to do is decide on the primary stat for each class & role combination, set a valid list of secondary stats, and also set some stats to exclude. It is worth noting that the inclusion of a stat in the included or excluded list is not mean to dictate a priority amongst them, it just means that this is a potentially valid stat for the class-role.

For example: It would be a shame for a range Tank to miss a role for an upgrade with Dodge on it just because a DPS in the same group rolls need.

The syntax is = Class Role: Prime-Stat / Stats Included / Stats Excluded

DK mdps: str / mast, crit, hit, expertise, haste / !int, !spirit, !dodge, !parry, !block
Pally mdps: as above
War mdps: as above

Druid mdps: agi / mast, crit, hit, expertise, haste /  !int, !spirit, !dodge, !parry, !block
Rogue mdps: as above
Shaman mdps: as above

DK tank: str / dod, parr, mast, exp, hit / !block, !int, !spirit
Druid tank: agi / dod, mast, exp, hit / !block, !parry, !int, !spirit
Pally tank: str / dod, parr, block, mast, exp, hit / !int, !spirit
War tank: as above

Druid rdps: int / spell power, hit, crit, haste, mastery /
Hunter rdps: agi / hit, crit, haste, mastery / !int, !spi
Mage rdps: as per Druid
Priest rdps: int / spell power, hit, crit, haste, mastery, spirit /
Shaman rdps: as per Druid
Warlock rdps: as per Druid

Druid heal: spi/ int, mastery, crit, hate, spellpower / !hit
Pally heal: as above
Priest heal: as above
Shaman heal: as above

As a basic this does it. It could be expanded to understand the ratio of Spirit to Int in comparison of caster items, where one is valued to dps higher than healers.

It could be expanded to ignore the rules if the person who could roll Need already has an item in that location which exceeds the item weight by ~20%. Meaning a player could not roll Need on a ilevel: 333 item if they already have a ilevel 356 in that location. For them it becomes a forced Greed.  That might mean that another player is the only one who can greed, or that nobody can roll need. You could also open the rolling so that if nobody is normally allowed to roll Need due to this rule, then the system lets them role Need if it is in their armour type. This way a offset item goes to somebody who might actually use it, not to disenchant or vendor.

And I’m sure there is a huge range of exceptions that might apply for funny items. No way in hell I was going to try and parse all of the WoWHead data to validate this.

On plan I think this is a solid idea. What do you think?

Happy Gearing

Reward the rare in Random Dungeons?

Blizzard has announced a new scheme which will reward the rare types of role in the queue with rewards. If you are the role that is most needed – you’ll have extra cash, pets, mounts, all the good stuff. But it feels like a solution looking for a problem.

It will be worth tanking – but only slightly more. Not significantly more, and as the reward is not gained for guild groups – so we’re actually discouraging friends from playing together. Why? It should at least allow 2 people to sign-up together, and 3 would be better. Would it matter if 3 guildies took 2 stranges with them on a run? Wouldn’t that speed the rewards a little too?

It won’t fix the fact that dps rolls on my Tank gear, and vice versa.

It won’t stop any role gear going to the wrong roles at all, which is what pisses me off the most. Almost every dungeon the loot from the last roll will be a series of Need rolls. Why? Because there is no recourse to stop them doing it.

It won’t stop people being rude, or kicking without reason.

It won’t stop the time wasters, the AFK’ers, and the gogogo-moron-boys.

It won’t stop Loot Fever. Except it could be easily stopped, as we have had roles for a long time, and its just lazy to think that we can code specially for Orbs, or for some mounts, but can’t figure out that gear with Dodge is a Tank item. Total bullshit.

I really hope my friends and guild are happy to keep doing runs, and I’d rather run with them than get a new mount. I’d rather walk.

Happy killing….end rant.

Unholy vs Frost presence for PvE DPS

A quick note to help clarify something obvious. Cataclysm has totally changed the choice of which presence to use. We are in a new and highly logical world where the two choices are Frost or Unholy. Please do not use Blood Presence for DPS any more, its a Tank Presence now.

Update 26-Sep-2011: Use Unholy presence for DPS. The rest of this post is based upon old information, and has changed. I would not expect an update to this now until after patch 4.3, or even in the next expansion.

From now onward the choice of DPS presence is between Frost and Unholy. Generally if you are an Unholy DK, then use Unholy Presence especially where fights require a lot of movement. When doing AoE where you have time to switch out of Unholy, and will not be moving back to single target quickly you can switch over to Frost Presence.

Also if you’re a Frost DK then use Frost presence for dual-weild and Unholy for using a two handed weapon (see links for proof). This is a deliberate change in style so that the spec matches the presence.

So the DPS rule is now: 2h weapon = Unholy, x2 single handed weapons = Frost.

I posted a long time ago in Wrath about which presence to use, but that post is now totally out of date. I’m posting this now because my old post still gets a lot of traffic and it needs to be corrected, and also because I’m starting to play a DK again and I’m having to retrain myself as well. Heck – I still switch to Blood sometimes by habit.

Apologies if this is stating the obvious. Happy Killing.