Tag Archive: 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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Improving Myself

So I’m all about improving my skills, both in game and in real life. I’m constantly struggling with a lot of different things, and some are the most basic. Secretly, I’m a terrible WoW player, I’m certain of it. I think during the 4.2 testing phase I’m going to take you readers on a scary adventure. An adventure where I learn a lot more about my favorite class than I ever have before.
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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:

23:55:29.275

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:

=(A2-A1)*24*60*60

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:

=(1+(A8+A7))*24*60*60

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.

Gearing Up In Cataclysm

I have been playing this game a long time, but I have been playing it at a high level for a relatively short time.  When the WotLK expansion hit, it was a gear-continuation expansion.  Players who had the highest tier items from BC could and did raid right away in Naxx with those.  BC and Cataclysm are gear reset expansions.  Highest tier level items in WotLK won’t carry you to max level, never mind raiding.

What WotLK did was give many more people in the game a taste of the elite life.  Anyone who wanted to could have an entire suite of purples and you could pick up the game in the last few months of the expansion and still kill Arthas.  Coming into Cataclysm, people want to still have that but things are tougher now.  In this post I want to explain my gearing strategy for the expansion.

I have three levels of gear I’m looking at right now.  First is a BiS-ByZone profile, next is a BiS-PreHeroics, and finally we have a BiS-PreRaid profile.  The idea being this:  I want to get an idea of what is going to be an incremental upgrade for me as I go along, as well as what is going to be the best in slot for normals, and best in slot for heroics.

We start by going to our favorite theorycrafters Elitist Jerks.  They have a great column in there for current Simulationcraft numbers.  I’ll have a post dedicated to how to use Simulationcraft later on.  It’s a valuable tool, and when you know how to use it, the better you will be on understanding parses from it.

In that forum post, the OP updates with the latest results.  All results are run assuming BiS gear for the current tier.  What you’re looking for is the section on stat weights.  Assuming you are using the build in the simulation, these stat numbers are good enough to start from when it comes to weighing the different stats.  The parse also gives links to lootrank and wowhead to filter out gear and give it a numerical dps value to you.  I prefer loot rank so let’s head over there.

Initially loot rank shows you the top 15 items for each slot based on your stat weights from all the gear currently available.  There is a box to type in your character name and realm name.  Do that and it will add your currently equipped gear piece and the calculation of that piece so you can see how much of an upgrade it is for you.  There’s also check boxes up top to filter out what gear is shown based on how it is obtained.

Here’s where the fun, manual part of the process takes place.  I have a spreadsheet on Google Docs, with a tab for Quest items, normal 5-man items, crafted items, and reputation items.  I uncheck all the items on the Loot Rank page except quest items and re-submit.  Now I have a list of all the crafted gear available and it’s relative DPS value in comparison to my currently equipped stuff.  I write all of them down and sort them by zone so as I quest in a zone I know if a piece is an upgrade or not.  I immediately disenchant all the things that aren’t upgrades.

I do this same thing for reputation items, normal 5-man items, and crafted items.  It’s important to realize two things.  First, uncheck the box that says “include reforged value”.  What ends up happening is nearly every item is reforged to hit giving it a much higher actual value, when realistically you might just end up over cap if you reforged everything.  Reforging should be done latter to fill in any wholes your gear and enchants don’t take care of.  Second thing to remember is that crafted items have two filters, crafted BoE gear and a separate filter for crafted BoP gear, so make sure the check out the gear your profession can make that’s BoP.

Now that I have this huge list I can move through and level and know at any moment if that item I’m getting is an upgrade for me or not.  I know before I ever start questing a zone, or enter a new dungeon, what items in here are relevant to me, and which are not.

Hopefully this helped some people clarify things for themselves on how to approach gearing.  This concept applies to new tiers of content as well, but it’s a little different for me then, and I’ll write up a post later on about coming up with your own BiS list for a raiding tier.