Category: Theorycraft

As a damage dealer, our main concern is making sure we output enough damage. Most people (myself included) copy spell priorities down from reputable sources, and just use those. Same thing goes for specs. A long time ago in wow these priorities used to be termed “rotations” and the term is still largely used today even though the collective feeling is that “priority” is a closer estimation to what the list actually is. What is it prioritizing? Well damage of course, and let’s talk about how.
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We’re going to get right into today and wrap up the rest of the straightforward spells in the Affliction spell book so we can spend a little time discussing Curse of Elements and how it interacts with your spells. If you haven’t read the last post, I suggest you do, or some of this might not make sense to you.
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Today’s post is going to be about getting to know our Affliction Spell Book. I’m not going to cover the spells: Curse of Tongues, Curse of Weakness, Fear, Howl of Terror, or Life Tap, because really they’re just not that interesting right now. The tool tips are straightforward, and the only interesting thing about them is deciding where and when to use them. I might cover them later on, but we’ll see.

For this little experiment, I have a character on the PTR standing in front of the training dummies in the Exodar (for peace and quiet’s sake). I’m not doing any statistical analysis, or scientific research here, so my sample size is very very tiny. All I’m doing here is getting a feel for the spells and drawing inferences. If you want to verify any of my findings by increasing the sample size and doing a real experiment feel free, I’m just not doing that here. At least not right now.

I reduce my 85 lock down to just his tabard (thankfully no one comes to the Exodar anymore) and make sure that “Show Beginner Tooltips” isn’t checked in my options panel so I can see the actual numbers for damage in my spell book.
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I started writing my first post for this project, and realized I really needed to do more of an introduction piece on what I want to accomplish and how I hope to approach it. First my goals are simple. I want to be able to understand the Warlock class better than I have in the past. I want to understand the advice I have been given and adopted rather than just take it at face value. I want to hopefully improve your understanding of your little Warlock, or maybe even of your chosen class other than Warlock too.
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In the last post we got your character into the tool and ran a quick simulation and briefly looked at the output.

Now I’m going to take you down the path I first went down with SimulationCraft, and that is gear evaluations. Tier upgrades are pretty straightforward, but if you ever want to evaluate side-grades, I always found SimulationCraft to be an informed and unbiased third party. I especially liked it for trinkets, since the numbers on those are much tougher, at least on the interesting ones.
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First thing you need is to download it.

Go here: and download the Windows or Mac version.  Once you have it downloaded unzip the file and congratulations you just installed SimulationCraft.

Let’s take a look inside.  The majority of these files aren’t important to you, especially at this point in the process.  I have the windows version, so Mac users this might be a little different for you.
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My favorite external tool by far has to be SimulationCraft.  There are so many facets to it and it’s incredibly powerful.  It can be daunting to people who have never used it before so I’m going to be starting a series getting people into the tool and transforming you into a real power user.

Trust me knowing SimulationCraft will not only improve your knowledge of your character, this game, and your gear, but it will be helpful to reading this blog!

Here’s a basic outline of this series and what to expect

  1. Get simulationcraft up and running with your character data.
  2. Understanding SimulationCraft’s available options.
  3. Understanding a parsing the output of a SimulationCraft run.
  4. Using CharDev to compare gearing choices
  5. Running SimulationCraft for a batch of configurations
  6. Advanced SimulationCraft applications

I don’t think I’ll run this series every post for the next few weeks, but expect me to trickle these out as I can.  Anything you’ve ever had a question on and want me to cover?  Let me know in the comments.

After each raid I upload a log file to World of Logs for parsing and analysis.  I don’t always get the chance to do a real in depth analysis, but when I do I like it to be quick and accurate.  One of the things I analyze is rotations.  I don’t mean DPS, I mean actually analyzing someones rotation and evaluate them on how they’re executing it.

There’s the fast and slightly inaccurate way which would be to look at proportions.  Running a simulationcraft of the player or looking at someone else with comparable gear that you know is correct will give you a rough idea what the relative damage sources should be.  Comparing the ratio between the two can give you an idea if something is drastically wrong.  Quick, but not terribly accurate.

To figure out how to get a more accurate number, it helps to understand how I define optimal.  Executing a priority based ability selection system perfectly means always choosing the highest priority ability when you have to make a choice.  This should directly correlate to the highest priority ability being re-activated the fastest whether it be cooldown based, or duration based.  Once the ability should be re-used, it is, and it should be done faster than any other ability.

In world of logs, when you are browsing a particular fight log, you can access the individual combat lines for that fight by going to the log browser options underneath the menu that initially says “Dashboard”.  This section is particularly useful because I can only show the combat lines I want.  For instance,  I would be able to analyze my usage of the spell Corruption and see when that dropped off the target, and when I re-applied it, and the duration between.  The important number here is average duration between optimal availability and actual application.

To try this out, assuming you have a warlock in the party, or you can substitute with other classes and abilities if you choose, click “Add Query” in the window.  Choose “Spell Cast” from the checkboxes, enter the player name for “Source” and enter “Corruption” or whatever ability you want in “Spell”.  Now we need to run the default filter that shows everything so click “Remove” next to that.  Once that’s been added, hit “Run” and it will pull out those lines.

Running this will show you all the times that player activated that ability.  Now we need to determine optimal cast time for the ability.  If it is a DoT ability, keep in mind that it will be affected by Time Warp/Bloodlust/Heroism as well as other Haste buffs and procs like Improved Soul Fire, Dark Intent, or from trinkets.  Calculating the actual duration of Corruption for that point during the fight is complicated and probably more detail then we need.  Thanks to the way DoTs work now, DoT classes have some leeway, so we can round a bit in our math and still arrive at a comfortable number.  If it is a cooldown based ability then the optimal re-activation time would be the duration of the cooldown.  If it is a cast ability, the optimal re-activation time would be the cast time.  For cast time and DoT duration just use the haste number from the character to calculate it.

From here it get’s really fun.  I copy and paste all of those lines and bring them into Excel, or any other spreadsheet program you would like to use.  Both Open Office and Google Docs should be able to handle this.  I sometimes find it easier to bring the lines into notepad first.  The only thing in these lines we really need to analyze is the time stamp.  I remove all the other data from the line and end up with a column of time stamps.  For example, if the line was initially

[23:55:29.275] Thisius casts Corruption on Magmaw

I import this line into Excel:


Once it’s in Excel, I write a formula in an adjacent column.  Assuming your data starts at A1, I write the following formula into B2:


This gives you the amount of seconds between the times.  If your combat log rolls over midnight, you’ll notice one line won’t parse right and you’ll see nothing but “#########”.  If this happens, replace that cell with the following formula:


That will give you the proper amount of seconds.

From here you can create a graph, calculate min, max, average, or any other numerical analysis you want.

So if we do this for every spell in the rotation we’d be able to come up with an average wait time for each spell and you should notice a trend that the highest priority spell has the lowest wait time, while the filler spell should be longest wait time.