Category: Tutorials (page 1 of 3)

Tips, tricks, and tutorials for AMR features

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).

Upgrade Finder Tutorial

Upgrade Finder

The Upgrade Finder gives  gear suggestions for any content you want to do. For example, Mr. Robot will give you advice on what bosses you should use bonus rolls on. Or help you figure out what you can get in your Mythic+ cache.

Here’s a 1-minute video showing you some of the ranked lists and their customizable features. The video has no sound (no, your speakers aren’t broken). If you don’t want to view the video, I have screenshots below, so keep reading.

How to setup the Upgrade search

First, you’ll need to pick the Best in Bags setup that you want to do the search for. This is required because Mr. Robot needs to know what setup you want to consider when evaluating gear. For example, you might be looking for gear for your healer spec, which would be different than gear for your DPS spec. Same goes for a Raid setup vs a Mythic+ setup.

Find upgrades in Battle for Azeroth

Find upgrades for each spec

The screenshot above shows that chose to look at Balance. If I want to search for Feral items, I select Feral. I also selected to find upgrades in Regular Dungeons, set to Normal difficulty. Here’s what the results look like for my not-quite-120 alt.

Find upgrades - normal dungeons

Search through the list with advanced filtering

You can also search through this list to narrow it down.

  • Search by stat or stats by typing the stat into the search box (ex: Haste)
  • By slot (type Trinket or Legs into the search box.
  • Source (name of boss, for example)
  • Azerite (search for the word Azerite to find Azerite gear)
  • A specific Azerite Power by name

How to spend your bonus rolls

This Upgrade search gets some extra special features.

The setup screen lets you choose things like the Mythic+ level and the raid difficulty you’ll be doing that week. You can also expand the raid, dungeon, and world boss section to select specific bosses. Let’s take an example from earlier in the expansion: Say you wanted to clear Normal Uldir and then kill first several bosses on Heroic. You could set it up like this:

Bonus rolls - how to spend them and get upgrades

Now let’s look at the results because I have a couple things worth pointing out.

Find Upgrades - bonus rolls uldir and mythic

Let’s start with the big yellow arrow pointing at the Boss Ranking Method, set to “Biggest Upgrade” in the screenshot. There are three ways to sort the ranked list:

  • Biggest Upgrade – ranks it by the biggest upgrade the boss drops.
  • Highest Chance – ranks by the boss with the highest chance to give you an upgrade, regardless of the size of the upgrade. For example, if a boss has 5 drops that you could win and 4 are upgrades, you’d have an 80% chance that if you win a bonus role, the item would be an upgrade. If another boss has 2 drops that you could win and both are upgrades, you’d have a 100% chance of an item being an upgrade if you win the bonus roll.
  • Weighted Average – it ranks by a combination of the two. Mr. Robot looks at the size of each upgrade the boss drops and the chance you’ll get an upgrade if you win the bonus roll.

You can also expand any boss to see the items it drops and how big of an upgrade each one is (and you can also see how many are downgrades). You can click anywhere on the boss to expand the list (but I highlighted the expand arrow with a yellow circle, because if you see this anywhere on the site, it means you can expand it for more stuff).

Upgrade to Premium for $12 a year

If you are already premium, a huge thanks. As a 3-person small business, we really appreciate every person who upgrades. We get to make this site as our ‘day jobs’ and that is only possible because of people like you.

If you haven’t upgraded yet and like the features, Best in Bags and the Upgrade Finder save you a lot of time and give you really accurate gear advice based on simulations custom to you (that we’ve already done for you).. It’s $12 a year, or $2 if you want to pay monthly. You can upgrade here.

Everyone gets a free trial (no credit card is required, because that is just trickery and we don’t do that). You might have used up your free trial in a previous expansion. If you would like it reset so you can try the features for BfA, use the contact form on the website and send us a message. I will personally reset your free trial. I know you’ll love the features and I want you to see them for yourself.

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

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

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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