Author: yellowfive

Optimizer Customization Tutorial

Best in Bags and all of the other gear-advice on our site is based on simulations and a lot of math. This comes up with ‘right’ answer, mathematically. But that doesn’t account for our human likes, dislikes, and specific scenarios that we might want to gear for. A while back we released some extra features that let you customize the results. Everyone really liked it, so we’ve expanded on it even more. Yellowfive (our developer) took some time to explain the newest customization features for you.

-Zoopercat

General Approach

The general idea when customizing is this: you tell us the couple of really important things that you want to customize, and we’ll fill in the rest based on our gearing strategies.

Best in Bags and Best in Slot have a “Setup” tab on which you start. This hasn’t changed — you specify the “high level” things here, such as which general Gearing Strategy you want to use, which talents and major essence you prefer, and a handful of common options. Then we have added a second “Customize” tab. You can go to this by clicking on the tab itself, or pressing “Customize Strategy” below the “Find Best in Bags” or “Find Best in Slot” button.

This new Customize tab has a whole bunch of new options, all of which are disabled by default. You can turn on/off whichever settings interest you. The rest of this post will describe each setting in detail.

Secondary Stats

One of the most common things that people want to change is which secondary stats they prefer: Critical Strike, Haste, Mastery, or Versatility. Our optimizer uses a lot of math and statistics to choose a good balance of these four stats, but in reality, there are many different allocations that work nearly as well. Now you can easily experiment with any combination.

When enabled, you will see a pie chart of the four secondary stats. You can drag the ends of the dividers between the pie slices to change how much is allocated to each stat.

Stat distribution weights for World of Warcraft, BFA

The pie shows you a typical amount of secondary stats that you would have on high level gear. You then tell us, if you had that many secondary stats available to you, how much you would allocate to each stat. A few notes:

  1. You are essentially defining a “ratio” of stats — if you have much lower item level gear than this, we will scale it down for you, and keep the relative amounts the same.
  2. The dividers move in 1% increments.
  3. You cannot allocate less than 5% of the total to any single stat. Practically speaking, it is really hard to end up with less than this in any given stat due to how the game puts stats on gear (almost every item has two secondary stats on it).
  4. It follows that you cannot allocate more than 85% of the total to any single stat. Same idea — this “restriction” doesn’t limit your ability to customize, instead it protects you from choosing impossible stat combinations.

This is not a “rating perfect” allocation!

By this we mean that you are not saying “get me exactly 1437 Critical Strike rating and 833 Haste Rating.” That’s not how it works, and that’s not the best way to think about stats. Instead think of this as a rough “target” for your stats. We’ll try to get you as close to this target as possible, and use our own statistical models to resolve any “tie breakers”. Depending on the gear available to you, a little trial and error may be required to get things how you like them.

Minor Stats

Minor stats are Avoidance, Leech, and Movement Speed. The main source of these stats on gear is as a bonus stat on items that can be Warforged. We let you customize how valuable each of these stats are to you by telling us roughly how many “item levels” that stat is worth to you. This is best explained via an example:

Minor stats iLevel tradeoff in Battle for Azeroth

Say you have a pair of ilvl430 Guantlets of the Mega-Puncher, no minor stats or socket on it. Then you get a second pair of ilvl425 Gauntlets of the Mega-Puncher but they have Avoidance on them. Which is better? If you think the ones with Avoidance are better, set the Avoidance slider to +6 or higher. If you think the higher item level ones without Avoidance are better, set the Avoidance slider to +4 or lower. If you think they are worth the same, set it to +5.

You can also go all the way to zero to make a minor stat worth nothing to you. The max value is +10 — anything above that would be highly improbable.

As with secondary stats, some trial and error may be required to find settings that do what you like. There are a lot of calculations going on under the hood that will add a bit of “fuzz” to these minor stat options.

Gems and Enchants

These are some fairly self-explanatory options to give you stricter control over how gems and enchants are chosen.

Customize Gem and Enchant Rules

You can force the optimizer to always use Critical Strike gems, or always use jewelcrafter gems regardless of how we think they score compared to regular gems, and so on.

Important note: the gem and enchant “threshold” option on the setup step is automatically disabled if you use any of these custom gem and enchant rules. The threshold is incompatible with these options for various technical and logical reasons.

Gem and Enchant disabled

Azerite Powers

This section gives you complete control over picking different combinations of Azerite Powers. It is a priority list of rules that you want the optimizer to follow. There are three types of rules that you can make:

  1. As many as possible: stack as many of this power as possible (the most you can get is 3, one on each slot)
  2. Exactly one: get exactly one of this power, no more, no less
  3. Zero: never pick this power under any circumstance

Custom Azerite Trait rules

With “as many as possible” and “exactly one” type rules, you also specify how many item levels you are willing to sacrifice to get that power. For example, if your highest item level azerite item in your Head slot is ilvl 445, but you would rather use an ilvl 430 item with your preferred power, then you are willing to sacrifice up to 15 item levels to get that power.

The optimizer will start at the top of your list of rules and work down, trying to meet each rule as it goes. Meeting any higher priority rule is always more important than meeting any number of lower priority rules. For example, if it is possible to meet your first rule only with one setup, or your second and third rule with another, the setup that meets the first rule will always win.

“Zero” rules (excluding azerite powers) can go anywhere in the list — we recommend putting all your exclusions at the bottom of the list to keep things organized. These rules will always be met no matter what.

Special note: The Upgrade Finder won’t take these custom rules into account. Setting a custom rule doesn’t assign a numeric value, which is necessary for ranking items in the upgrade finder. Instead, we suggest that you use the search box filter on the upgrade finder to search for items with your preferred Azerite Powers.

Special Items

This section lets you control the value of special effects on trinkets and other items. When you enable this section, a list of special items will load. Initially every item is disabled, and we show you roughly what our gearing strategies think each special effect is worth.

It is worth noting that the specific ranks and values we show as our defailts in that list are not the final ones used to rank your gear when we do Best in Bags. We use simulation data specific to each gear combination to do our final gear suggestion. This list shows just one of those data point sets.

When you adjust the value, you are essentially overriding the simulation value of specific special effects that you like more or less than our default strategies, and letting our default strategy handle everything else.

Trinket Rankings - BfA simulations override

How to use this feature:

  • To customize the value of an item, check the box to the left of it, enter a new value in the textbox at the right, then press enter. The list will re-order based on your new value. If you increased the value, it will show a green bar (like Zoatroid Egg Sac in the screenshot). If you decreased the value, it will show a red bar (like Trident of Deep Ocean in the screenshot).
  • You can uncheck the box on the left to reset the value to the default based on simulations.
  • You can filter the list with the search box right above the list, with the same filter options found on the rest of the site, including:
    • Source: Filter by zone, boss name, etc
    • Stat: filter by a specific stat
  • You can also type ‘custom’ (no quotation marks) into the search box to filter down to items that have your customized values.

Ranking special item effects is very difficult… you should be aware of a couple things when using this feature:

You are ranking only the special effect

The value that you enter is not for the entire item including its stats, it is only for the special effect(s) on the item. For example, say a trinket has +500 strength, and on equip: gives you 1000 crit for 20 sec, 1 rppm. You are ranking only the 1000 crit proc effect. Do not include the value of the 500 strength.

You are ranking the effect at a specific item level

We show each item only once in the list, at a common but high item level that you might see it drop. Rank the special effect appropriately for that item level. We will automatically scale your custom ranking up or down to higher or lower item level versions of the item. Most special effects in the game scale predictably with item level, especially over small item level differences.

Additional Notes

As with some of the other settings, some trial and error may be necessary to get things ranking how you like. This is not a “perfect” ranking — e.g. if you say a special effect is worth 2.13% of your total score whereas our default thinks it is worth 1.01%, you won’t necessarily see exactly a 1.12% increase in score (assuming nothing else changes). It will be close to that, but there are a lot of things going on under the hood that are beyond the scope of this article to explain.

It is better to think of this as a “relative” ranking — increase the value of something that you want the optimizer to favor until it does so. If that means setting it 0.5% higher than you think you “need to” that is fine. The goal here is to get the optimization that you want, not find some magical combination of numbers.

There are a few special effects that you cannot override, notably the Mechagon logic loop and bit band combos, and the punchcards. Sorry… those are just too complicated to handle, and we have very solid rankings for those already. It is very doubtful that you would need to change them.

Lock and exclude specific items

Once you click the “Find Best in Bags” button, you will see the results screen, like the one below.

Best in Bags - Find your best gear

 

From the results screen, you can do a couple further customizations. These aren’t new, but worth pointing out in this blog post since it’s all about customization.

Locking items, Gems, Enchants, and Azerite Powers

Any item (or gem, etc) suggestion can be overridden by clicking on the suggested result.

Lock and exclude gear, gems, enchants, and azerite powers

For example, click on the Logic Loop of Recursion ring to bring up the list of items that I own. Then choose another ring, Thornwoven Band for this example, and it will lock in. This is indicated by the orange lock icon next to the item in the results view.

Items can also be excluded, which is handy if you just don’t like a specific item. In the item list, click the ‘no’ symbol to the right to exclude it.

After you make these customizations, click the green “Re-Optimize” button below the results to get a new set of results that follow your rules. You can also clear all exclusions and unlock everything with additional buttons below the results view.

Thanks Yellowfive, now a message from Zoopercat

I added screenshots to Yellowfive’s tutorial. If anything is unclear or you want more visuals, let me know on the forums. Any further questions or feedback can be directed there as well. (I also encourage leaving happy notes, as Mr. Robot and our 3-human team gain Stamina from positive feedback).

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

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.

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

Measuring Tanks: TUF

TUF

Is there anything tougher than an acronym that sounds exactly like the word “tough”? There is: a made-up word written in all caps that actually isn’t an acronym at all and also sounds exactly like “tough”. TUF.

TUF is a new take on the “NPS” tanking metric that we used in Legion.

In a sentence: “TUF” measures how good you are at staying alive and negating incoming damage.

In a shorter sentence: “TUF” measures how tough you are.

Continue reading

BfA Tank Diminishing Returns

Diminishing returns shows up in many places in Battle for Azeroth: damage reduction from Armor, Stagger and blocking attacks, and chance to dodge, parry or block attacks are the most prominent. Calling it an “often misunderstood” topic isn’t quite right… most people get it. People tend to argue about it a lot more than they actually misunderstand it, because there are a lot of valid ways to look at it… it’s like the Necker cube of WoW.

We are going to talk specifically about Armor, but the same logic applies to block amount, dodge chance, etc. — they all use a fundamentally similar formula. Continue reading

Diminishing Returns & Other BfA Tank Formulas

In Battle for Azeroth, how does diminishing returns affect Armor, Block Amount, Stagger, Dodge, Parry, and Block Chance?

Some things haven’t changed and you’ll be familiar with them. Other things are a little different with Battle for Azeroth. We’ve figured out everything you need to know through data mining and a dizzying amount of in-game testing. Continue reading

Simulator Client Roadmap

Over the next several weeks we will be releasing updates to the simulation client to support a lot of cool upcoming features. We will do this in stages so that we have an opportunity to test out each stage and work out any issues that people might encounter.

General Features

These new general features are available as of this post, a few that have been there and a few you may not have noticed:

  1. The client auto-updates now. Once you download it and start it, you can theoretically let it run forever.
  2. There is a new “Clear Queue” option in the menu on the client program. Use this to cancel all running and pending simulations. Useful if you accidentally started a long-running simulation with the wrong settings, for example.
  3. As of 2/6, the client uses a different mode that can more fully utilize most CPUs, but uses a bit more memory. Should be faster for most people.

Continue reading

Stat Weights vs Machine Learning

We’re big into ranking gear at Ask Mr. Robot. We probably like it more than WoW itself. OK… almost more than WoW. We like WoW more because it lets us have fun ranking gear.

Throughout Legion, we ranked stats on gear with a Machine Learning methodology. We’ll be using Machine Learning to rank gear with BfA as well (no surprise, considering how much better it is).

Machine learning replaces stat weights. Stat weights are dead to us. OK not really, I was being a bit dramatic. If you want,  you can still use stat weights on the site like you always did, and they will still work like they always have, forever. But machine learning is way better and way cooler, and it ranks gear incredibly well. Read on to learn why! Continue reading

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