Worst in Bags

Worst in Bags WoW Addon - Bank

People don’t like old gear junking up their bags and bank. But it can sometimes be difficult to determine which items can be safely discarded… what if I might need it for an off spec or a different build some day?

Mr. Robot has you covered: Worst in Bags will help you find your junk, and then conveniently dispose of it with our in-game addon. Continue reading

A new kind of Warcraft class guide

Everything has a cycle, even guides for a video game. Back in the day, guides and opinions were everywhere and hard to find – if you didn’t know the name of the fan-site for your class, you didn’t know where to go. After years of this, we all just wanted a way to get everything in one spot, regardless of the class. So sites like Noxxic and Icy-Veins were born.

With each expansion,  guides have gotten even more consolidated – to the point that many of the Icy-Veins and WoWhead guides are written by the same person, who also happens to run the class Discord. While this consistency has the advantage of giving you confidence in making a decision, it has a downside as well: a lack of diversity for alternative, viable ways to play.

96% of players surveyed want guides to offer more choices.

We want to show you multiple ways to play that are also good enough to get you a top rank. We do this by sharing data so that you can make an informed choice. Sharing data also has some side benefits: it improves build customization and  helpful interactions between teammates.

Our guides don’t explain every little nuance of how to play – other guides exist for that. Instead, we focus on the following:

  1. Presenting choices
  2. Sharing data
  3. Reality checks

Each section of our guide draws from those things, and we hope you find them helpful. You can check our our new World of Warcraft guides here. But if you have some time to spare, keep reading this post for more in-depth information,  a mini video about the Talent Build compare tool, and an overview of the rotation flow charts.

Update: We have made some UI improvements, outlined in this forum post, mostly around the talent tool. Thanks for everyone’s initial feedback so we could make it more clear.

Continue reading

Personal Loot in BfA – A review

Now that we’ve gone a full raid tier without officially having Master Loot, how do people feel about it?

  • How have teams adapted Personal Loot systems to fit their team?
  • What is the popularity of each loot system?
  • Are people happy with their team’s loot system?
  • How do people feel about the iLevel and bonus roll trade restrictions?

Continue reading

Best in Bags – Customize Feature

Raise your hand if you’ve ever wanted to customize Mr. Robot’s Best in Bags gear suggestion, even just a little bit?

Customize Gear

/raises hand

Mr. Robot understands that us humans can be particular about certain things, or prefer something because we like it better (a concept he is still trying to learn).  He also knows that the way we play our characters, or the situation we find ourselves in, could mean an alternate gearing strategy ends up more helpful than the original one he found. You get it – you’ve been there.

The latest feature lets you customize the mathematically best solution with things that you might like better. Combining math and feelings isn’t easy, but admittedly, it’s quite useful! Mr. Robot starts with your Best in Bags solution and then offers you alternatives, quantified so you can see the trade-off.

This lets us think of gear not in the terms of one ultimate set, but instead as a cloud of top-performing sets. The idea is to give you the information you need to confidently choose your gear setup.

How To Use It

If you refresh the page and don’t see the feature, it’s because the site is using your cached data. You can force it to update by re-importing your character, or change any setting on the Best in Bags setup screen.

After running Best in Bags to get your optimized gear, you will now see a third tab after the results tab.

Customize Best in Bags - Top tier gear setups

Click on that to see a list of alternate setups that you could use. Each alternate favors a particular Azerite trait, stat, or both.

Alternate options - top tier stat and azerite options

Click on one, and Re-Optimize will light up. Press that to see your new result with those preferences in place. If you have a preference chosen, it will show above your gear table. Customize Best in Bags - top tier gear preference

When you get a bunch of new gear and do Best in Bags again, your preference will be remembered. Mr. Robot will continue to use your preference unless you tell him otherwise or the solution is no longer good enough (your score is too low compared to the original Best in Bags solution).

To clear your preference, click the delete icon next to your preference (as seen in above screenshot). Or go back to the Customize tab, clear your preference, and pick a new one if you’d like.

Top tier gear selections - clear preference

What does tier 1, 2 and 3 mean?

Each alternate setup is assigned a tier.

Tier 1: Nearly equal in value to the best possible set of gear in your bags. You probably won’t be able to notice the difference in-game, so confidently use whichever tier 1 setup you like the best.

Tier 2: You might be able to see/feel a little loss in-game, but it won’t be enough to seriously impact your performance. You could still rank high and raid at the mythic level without compromising your team in any way. Other hard-to-measure factors could still make one of these setups the best for your personal situation.

Tier 3: You will definitely feel a tad weaker with these setups in most cases. You would probably only want to pick one of these if you either really like playing it, or there is something very specific about your team or a boss fight that makes it work better for you.

Why do we use tiers instead of showing you a list with specific scores like… 0.6% worse than the best setup, 1.1% worse than the best setup, etc.? To prevent undo bias against a particular setup. For example, say that one alternate setup is 0.1% worse than the best in bags solution, and another is 0.15% worse. If we put those in order and show those numbers, people are going to tend to pick the highest one. That’s just human nature. But those are so close to each other… nobody can definitively say which would perform better in-game. So we band them together in tiers to eliminate that bias and encourage people to try different setups. The idea is to help you feel confident picking anything within a tier because they are all so close to each other.

Azerite and gem/enchant thresholds

When you have chosen an alternate solution that prefers a specific azerite trait and/or stat, we disable the Best in Bags azerite threshold and gem/enchant threshold options. We do this because gems and enchants are one of the easiest ways to get more of a particular stat, and preferring a particular stat is implicitly saying “get me more of this stat regardless of score.” Same idea with azerite traits: by setting a preference you are saying “put this azerite trait on as many items as you can, regardless of score.”

We’ll keep an eye on this if it ends up not working out that well — it would be pretty complicated to come up with some kind of “threshold” that works in conjunction with these new preferences at the same time, but not impossible.

How It Works

Here are some details about how we choose the alternatives to show you, and how it picks the specific gear that it does for each alternative.

How do we pick setups?

Say that you have 1 billion possible combinations of gear in your bags (pretty typical for someone who raids and does Mythic+ a decent amount). You might assume that we suggest alternate setups like this:

  1. Score all 1 billion combinations of gear
  2. Put them in order from best to worst
  3. Show you the top 30 or so setups

We do not do it like this.

Why not? Because the top 30 setups will usually be very small variations of each other. For example, the #2 setup would probably be the #1 setup with your wrist slot swapped out for an item that is the same item level with the same stats but in slightly different amounts. That’s not very interesting, and furthermore, those two setups would be so close in value that calling one of them #1 and the other #2 is kind of silly. You could use either one and never tell the difference in-game, both from a performance perspective (meters) and a gameplay perspective (how it feels to you).

Our goal is to show you about 30 significantly different ways to gear — setups that favor different azerite powers to the extent that your gear allows, heavily favor particular stats to the extent that your gear allows, or a combination of the two. This gives you way more interesting choices than 30 slight variations of one set of gear.

How do we pick the gear in each setup?

To understand this, first we need to understand how Best in Bags picks the main setup. The approach is simple in concept (but quite difficult to execute):

  1. Generate a ton of simulation data ahead of time (we sim everything for you, so you don’t have to spend time doing it yourself)
  2. Do a bunch of fancy statistics to turn the simulation data into a thing that can quickly and accurately score any combination of talents, stats, azerite, trinkets, etc.
  3. Run an optimization algorithm on your gear to find the one highest-scoring setup from the billions or trillions available to you

So now we want to find alternatives to the highest-scoring setup. Each of the alternatives represents a “preference” in the optimizer for a specific azerite trait, a specific stat, or both. This gets tricky because the optimizer can no longer rely on “highest score” alone — we have introduced some fairly complex constraints.

Without getting bogged down in the computer programmer details of it: we find the highest-scoring set of gear that favors the preferred azerite trait and/or stat without being dumb. By “being dumb” I mean that we won’t put on an azerite item that is 60 item levels lower just to pick up an azerite trait. We use some heuristics to keep it reasonable. Same idea with stats — if your only ring with your favored stat is significantly lower item level than your best one, we won’t use it.

There is no single “right” answer for these rules of thumb — you are making a trade off between score and how much of the trait/stat you want to get. “Score” is a pretty objective measure. “How much I like Critical Strike” though… can’t really be measured objectively. That said, we think that we’re using a pretty reasonable threshold. If you see any cases where you feel it should be going more or less aggressively for your preferences, please tell us!

There Can Be More Than One

Besides being super convenient, a major goal with this customization feature is to dispel the myth that there is only one way to gear in World of Warcraft. This is a topic that warrants a longer discussion, but here’s the short version: for most specs, you could heavily favor completely different stats, or use completely different azerite powers, and still perform at the highest level — both on paper and in the real game. This has been proven both in-game (via combat logs, etc.) and out of the game (via simulators, calculations, etc.).

It is challenging to present multiple choices to people in a clear way, and in a way that quantifies just how much damage/healing/toughness you might be trading off to get your preferences. But it is a challenge that we think is important to tackle. The game is just more fun if you have more choices, and can confidently make those choices.

Best in Bags: Multiple setups

Best in Bags now allows for multiple setups per spec. That means your main spec can have a Raid setup and a Mythic+ setup (with different talents, too).  Or anything you want, really.

 You must get addon version 65 or higher to use Best in Bags now. 

Stick around for a tutorial and some Zooper-tips. Continue reading

Unexpected Azerite Power & Gear Suggestions

Your bonus roll finally works and you get a new Azerite item (gratz!) You break out the champagne, go to equip the item and then Mr. Robot says…

“Nope, keep the old one on.”

W. T. F. ?!

Mr. Robot isn’t trying to rain on your parade, I promise. He’s just really good at math, and breaking out legendary math-nerd skills at any party tends to be a buzzkill.

You see, (pushes glasses up nose), if your Heart of Azeroth level isn’t high enough to unlock some powers on the higher iLevel item, it can be better to keep the lower one equipped. Mr. Robot compares the items based on simulations he’s done for you and figures out which is best, even if it seems counter-intuitive and ruins your day. But hey, it does more damage (or healing or tankiness), and it probably got some shelter puppies adopted too. So you can sleep well at night.

There are a lot of nuances like this when it comes to evaluating gear. If you’ve run into something that seems completely unexpected, this post should help explain why that suggestion is the smart thing to do. Continue reading

Tank Gear Optimizer

Today we released some major updates to the tank gear optimizer. We have a brand new Toughness Level feature that replaces The Blender, and several other tweaks to improve scoring across the board, but especially for lower item level characters.

Toughness Level

When you choose a tank gearing strategy on any of the optimizer features (Best in Bags, Gear Check, Best in Slot), you will see a Toughness Level slider below the list of Mr. Robot’s strategies. Simply drag the indicator to your desired toughness level, or click anywhere on the slider to move it. Press SET STRATEGY, then continue with your optimization.

(To get to this slider, click the Gearing Strategy drop down box, as shown in ‘Step 1’ in this picture.) Continue reading

Reorigination Array Info & Rankings

If you are killing 3 bosses in Uldir a week, you’re building up your Reorigination Array stacks. I’ll explain what this buff is and all of the details around how it works. Then I’ll jump into some ranking information to see how good it is for you.

How does Reorigination Array work?

The Reorigination Array is a buff that gets activated in Uldir. The buff adds 75 points to your highest secondary stat. So if Crit is your highest stat and you have 1,000 Crit. The Reorigination Array buff will bring your Crit up to 1,075.

You need to meet a few conditions to activate it.

 Condition #1 : You must equip an Azerite item that drops from Uldir.

 Condition #2 : You must be able to unlock the outer ring of traits on that Azerite item.

 Condition #3 : You must activate one of the following Azerite Powers on that outer ring (note, all Uldir Azerite gear has one of these powers):

 Condition #4 : You must also have killed 3 bosses in Uldir in a week, on any difficulty (including LFR). Doing this adds a permanent stack to the buff, up to a total of 10 stacks, for a total of 750 extra of your highest secondary stat.

This last condition, #4, is being tracked in-game, even if you haven’t met any other condition. Continue reading

Get Ready for ULDIR – for FREE!!

Mr. Robot wants to make sure you are ready for Uldir and help evaluate all of the new drops you’ll be getting. So he’s making all of his premium features free Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, Sept 3-5, 2018.

When we say free, it’s simple & fair. You get to use every premium feature without ever entering a credit card.

You will need an account so we can save settings (which is necessary for some of the features), but we will never email you marketing stuff. Ever. Not even after the free stuff is over.

Continue reading

Healer sims (part 4) – different heal styles & theorycraft

There are a lot of ways to effectively heal your team and keep your teammates alive. Healing simulations let us experiment with different styles of healing and determine which ones can keep a team alive.

Simulation also lets us compare the potential healing output of these different styles. Ultimately, any style that keeps everyone alive is equivalent for all practical purposes, but it is fun to also try to maximize the healing per second.

How to determine the best ways to heal?

A tool like this makes it possible to test different ideas with each class and quantify the results. You’ll see us doing that a lot and pushing healing theorycraft into a new frontier.

Okay, maybe that’s overstating it a bit, but you will see us discovering non-traditional ways to heal that work as well as the popular styles. We’re excited to share these with you and break a few traditional rules without sacrificing your ability to keep people alive.

Let’s look at an example set of rotations for Holy Priests to demonstrate this.

Holy Priests have really strong AoE healing, so ‘rotations’ that focus almost entirely on AoE are quite popular.  Even though their AoE is so strong, we wanted to see if a mix of AoE and spot healing could stand up to the power of a rotation focused mainly on AoE.

To test this, we set up a rotation for each style in the simulator.

  • All AoE healing (see rotation): uses Prayer of Healing liberally to keep the raid topped up, only using single direct heals if a player is in a lot of danger.
  • Mix of AoE & spot healing (see rotation): makes good use of the single target, mana-efficient spell, Heal, when there isn’t a lot of danger to the raid.

Next we simulated each one and compared the results:

Holy Priest AoE Healing sims

 

The spell usage for each rotation is significantly different. But they both end up with the same healing effectiveness.

“Finding unexpected or surprising results makes theorycraft fun.” -Swol

This example was particularly surprising. Most people (including us), wouldn’t have expected the Mix AoE/Spot healing rotation to be equal to (or surpass) the power of the AoE-focused rotation. But we tested it anyway and found another viable way to heal.

Developing rotations: a philosophy

We approach rotations with no pre-conceived ideas of what “should” be the best way to heal. We know what’s popular and already working, but we like to keep an open mind to other possibilities.

We experiment with and test any and every idea we (and our users) think of. Once we find something that keeps everyone alive, we also try to maximize the potential HPS.

Our thinking is that we will give more flexibility to your raid team to absorb mistakes, like standing in blood pools during fights. We generally avoid extremely ‘specialized’ healing styles for our own theorycraft since most people don’t play Warcraft at a level where they can just have one very specific healing task in the fight. Most healers have to be a “jack of all trades” in their raids, sometimes AoE-ing, sometimes spot-healing, and sometimes hitting that darn emergency button.

Metrics: HPS & Ally Deaths

I talked a lot about measuring the effectiveness of different healing styles. That means we need some metrics in order to compare them. Let’s dig into those a bit more.

Healing simulations

HPS (Healing per Second). Most of us healers have a love/hate relationship with this metric. It’s actually a very good metric for measuring total throughput (how much total healing can you do?). That’s a great number to have. But it’s gotten a bad reputation from people abusing it by healing specifically to top the meters.

When someone tries to cheese the system, they knowingly snarf heals and use big cooldowns before anyone else so they can keep their healing numbers high. (I previously reported on this over at Blizzard Watch, if you are interested). They are focused on topping the meters, rather than healing the right target at the right time.

But the simulator isn’t trying to cheese the meters, so it removes that factor from the equation, making HPS a great way to quantify healing.

Another way to measure healing is to figure out what results in the least deaths. We call this “Ally Deaths” on the simulation reports. Our goal is to help you select talents, gear, and answer any other questions in a way that results in the least number of deaths.

Accounting for your mana

The simulator knows how much mana each spell costs. It knows your Global Cooldown (GCD) and how much your cast times are reduced by Haste. It knows when a proc happens making your next heal spell free, and so on.

The simulator knows how much mana you started with and how much you have throughout the fight. This allows the simulator to cast spells, use up mana, regen mana back, and continue just like you would in a real boss fight. It can even execute logic that triggers certain spells or trinkets if you have less than (or more than) a specific amount of mana (like an on-use trinket that restores mana).

If you run out of mana, the simulator isn’t able to cast spells, which will result in lower HPS or more Ally Deaths. This makes it easy to measure things like:

  • The impact of high-Haste builds: if you are running out of mana, more Haste isn’t going to help you as much as Mastery or Crit would.
  • Mana trinkets: if you are running out of mana, a mana trinket might be your best option over one that does extra healing.
  • Mana-efficient heals: you can determine if more mana efficient heals would result in more healing until you get better gear.

Mana also factors into your ‘healing style’ choice. If you heal too aggressively, you run out of mana. If you are too passive, people die. Simulations help you find  that balance.

Conclusion

Simming healers requires a much more complex system than DPS. I hope I covered enough details to answer all (or most) of your questions. If you want to discuss anything about healing sims, or have any remaining questions, head over to this forum thread.

If you are excited to test things out on your own healer, head over to the simulator and load your character.

Lastly, we’re always testing ideas on fun, effective ways to heal. We post some of the more interesting findings in articles. If you want to be notified when those come out, sign up for my email list.

I personally write every email and I promise to never include promotions or spammy things. I send 1-4 emails a month, depending on how much we have to share.

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