Category: Tutorials (page 2 of 3)

Tips, tricks, and tutorials for AMR features

Healer sims (Part 2) – modeling boss fights

Part 2 in this series looks at how boss mechanics and phases get incorporated into a healing simulation.

As a real (human) healer, you react to your environment. If the raid takes a ton of damage all at once, you use a big AoE cooldown. If a tank takes spike damage, you use an instant heal. If no one is under immediate danger, you HoT a few people or use small, mana efficient heal.

Every time you fight that boss, it seems like chaos. However, boss mechanics are very predictable and happen on a specific timer. That means it is easy to model into a simulator.

Each attempt on the boss feels chaotic because who gets hit and how many people get hit changes on each attempt. Some people run out of fires quickly, others don’t.

Our healing simulations can account for all of this. Below are some examples, but everything can be customized since the simulator is controlled by the open-source wiki.

Defining boss mechanics in the simulator

This is best explained by example.  Let’s take a common boss mechanic where someone is randomly targeted to take a lot of damage, and that repeats on a timeline.

To create that spell in the simulator, I’d have to designate a target, when it happens, and how much it hits for. Not so bad, right?

To make that work, I would program the following variables into the boss script:

  • Target: 1 random player, melee or ranged
  • Time: target someone 15 seconds into the fight and repeat every 20 seconds thereafter, until phase two.
  • Damage: 50% of ally health

To continue this example, let’s say some raid-wide damage happens at the start of phase 2. There are a few things I would program differently:

  • Target: entire raid
  • Time: start of phase 2
  • Damage: 70% damage multiplied by a random variant (to account for differing health pools)
  • Event type: Predictable AoE

Notice that the ‘Event Type: Predictable AoE’ flag shows up. This is important because it lets the simulator act like a human would, and it holds your big AoE heal until this event happens.

While the Single Target spell is predictable on a timeline, we don’t know who it will hit, so as a healer, it’s not possible to plan ahead. But for something like the AoE event,  healers can plan ahead.

Player positioning

Sometimes it matters where each player is – maybe they take more damage from a mechanic, or maybe it affects the healing they get. The simulator accounts for both.

For example, sometimes when the boss casts an AoE spell, players take less damage the further away they are (like the transition phase for Garothi). In the simulator, we can program melee to take more damage than ranged if we want to assume they don’t run as far away. Or we could  add an even greater variance in damage formula to account for some people running really far and others not so much.

In another example, some healing spells heal a group of players in a targeted area. We can define the number of players in an area and how far apart they are spread out.

Tanks also get special treatment in the simulator

Tanks are one of the most important targets to keep alive since a wipe is very likely if one goes down. So they’ve earned some special logic in the healing simulations.

Regular boss mechanics are easily programmable, like auto attacks and other single-target hits that focus on the tank instead of the rest of the raid. But let’s look at something a little more tricky and life-threatening.

Let’s say a boss applies a stacking debuff that causes the tank to take bigger and bigger hits. The tank starts to take critical, life-threatening damage at 4 stacks, but can’t swap with the OffTank until 6 stacks. Here’s how I’d program that into the simulator:

  • Target: tank
  • Time: start at 10 seconds
  • Repeat: stack debuff every 3 seconds
  • Max stacks: 6 (tank swap)
  • Damage: 15% of tank’s health per stack
  • Event Type: Tank

You might recognize the “Event Type” flag from the AoE example. This time, it is telling the simulator that is a predictable mechanic for the tank, who will be taking a large amount of damage. This lets the simulator plan ahead and pre-HoT the tank before she reaches 4 stacks and then gets ready to pop cooldowns and use big heals until the tank swap.

But what about that guy who stands in fire?

We all have a firestander on the team, don’t we? (I admit, I’ve stood in my fair share of fires, no judging here!) One common concern regarding healing simulations is, “You can’t predict when someone will stand in a fire.”

That’s true, you can’t predict it. Neither can a simulator.

So both humans and computers are in the same boat… neither can see the future. But we can simulate the chance of this happening, which would looks like this:

  • Create a damage effect in the boss script – let’s call it “Fire Patch”
  • Give Fire Patch a chance to target someone
  • Once someone is targeted, give Fire Patch a chance to either do damage, or not do damage (to simulate someone who moves out of it). This could be adjusted to the average your teammates tend to stand in fire.

There’s also one more important thing to consider: we use healing simulations to determine what talents to use, what gear to pick, and which stats are best. And all of those things have to be chosen before the fight begins – you can’t change talents mid-fight to cast bigger heals on a fire stander.  You can’t magically change all of your gems and enchants to haste mid fight so you can spam heals on a tank who’s about to die.

We have to make some decisions before the fight begins.

My advice is to choose one of the following strategies ahead of time, then use the simulator to account for that. For example, you might want to pick talents and gear assuming one of the following…

  • Your team will execute the fight really well
  • Some people on your team will mess up, but nothing drastic
  • The number of fire standers in your raid will drive you crazy

If you pick the first option, you might end up with gear that does the most overall healing. If you pick the last option, you might end up with gear that has really high burst healing but not as much total throughput. You could even do something crazy and have one of your healers on the team gear assuming the worst, and everyone else gear assuming the best or somewhere in between. That way, if someone does take a huge spike in damage, you have a healer equipped to cover it.

Up Next

Now that I covered the incoming raid damage, next I’ll talk about how to heal that damage. Healers don’t have a ‘rotation’ like DPSers do, but their logic is still very programmable. Simulate healers - part 3 - healing rotation

Healer simulations (Part 1) – Factors that need to be accounted for

Healers have gone so long without a simulation model, that “you can’t sim healers” often gets passed off as a fact.

It’s obviously more difficult to sim healers than DPS, but nowhere near impossible.

We started working on this in Legion and we’ve iterated on healing simulation models throughout that expansion. It proved to be pretty solid for the last tier, so now it’s ready for a featured debut in BfA.

I probably shouldn’t call this article series a ‘featured debut’ because that makes it sound like I have an action-packed, entertaining line up for you.  This is probably going to read more like a documentary… it won’t be as entertaining, but like any good documentary it should be educational, eye-opening, and dispel some myths. I just hope it doesn’t put you to sleep.

What factors need to be taken into account for a healing simulation?

One of the biggest challenges when creating a healing simulator has been, “Can we account for all of the necessary variables?”

To get a starting point, let’s look at DPS for a just a moment. Simulating DPS boils down to damaging a boss, switching to adds when necessary, and moving out of fire (among a few other small things).

Simulating healers requires reacting not only to boss mechanics, but the ever-changing health of each raid member. Things get a lot more complicated for healing sims.

So what’s needed to build an accurate healing simulation?

Damage taken by raid members: you have to know how much people get hit for so you know who to heal and how much healing they need.

  • Tank damage, including auto attacks from the boss, raid-wide damage, and spike damage
  • Player damage, including random-target boss mechanics and standing in fire
  • Raid damage, including raid-wide AoE damage

Boss fight mechanics and phases: this is important so the simulator can plan ahead just like you would in a real fight. For example, this allows the simulator to account for things like:

  • Phases: Pre-HoT team members before a big AoE spell
  • Phases: Save big healing cooldowns for a specific phase of the fight
  • Mechanics: tank swaps might make you change healing targets or heal differently if one of the tanks has a stacked debuff or a ticking DoT

Other sources of healing: 

  • Other healers on the team, including how many and how much they heal
  • The aggressiveness and/or skill of your other healers. This accounts for healers that might always outheal or underheal the rest of the team, which factors into overhealing
  • Overhealing: other healers are being simulated with their own logic, which lets us sim overhealing for all of your spells
  • Sharing big cooldowns: some parts of a fight benefit from coordinating the use of big heal cooldowns within the healing team

Your healing: The simulator needs to know  how you heal in a real fight so it can make decisions like a real player.

As a healer, you don’t really have a ‘rotation,’ you have a set of rules that respond to the environment and players’ health bars. You react to what’s going on around you. Here are some examples:

  • Heal the player with the lowest health first
  • If no one is missing a lot of health, use a small, mana-efficient heal on people who aren’t at 100%
  • Keep HoTs on the tank
  • If someone takes spike damage, use an instant, big heal to save them

Metrics: When you simulate a healer, you need some outputs to determine which talent or item has potential to do more healing.

  • HPS (Healing per Second) – A good measure of total throughput (on meters, it isn’t always a good measure of who your best healers are)
  • Ally Deaths – Another measure of how good a healer is – how many people died in the fight?
  • Mana – did you run out of mana? How much did that affect your total healing?

Simulating everything in these lists:

The simulator accounts for everything listed above (and more), which we’ll get into during this series of articles.  Meanwhile, if you think something is missing or have questions or ideas, head over to the forums to discuss these articles.

Healing simulations - modeling boss damage

Measuring Tanks: 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

Tank sims (Part 3) – DPS, Heals, & Metrics

As a tank, do you have enough gear to live through damage spikes? Can you live long enough for your healing team to help you recover? Are you tanky enough that you can use gear and talents that favor DPS a bit more?

By accurately modeling a healing team and measuring your tankiness vs damage, we can use tank simulations to answer these questions. Continue reading

Tank Sims (Part 2) – Modeling bosses & rotations

There isn’t much use for a tank simulator unless you have something to tank. I know, I’m captain obvious over here.

The boss mechanics and how tank ‘rotations’ interact with them are the core of tank simulations (and I think, the most interesting). I’m covering both of those things in this post (Part 2). Continue reading

Tank sims (Part 1) – Overview

Simulating DPS, even as a tank, is pretty straightforward. Most people who are familiar with simulators ‘get’ this concept and have used tank sims for this purpose.

Simulating your survival as a tank isn’t as straightforward and requires a more complex system. Since it’s complex and new to most people, I’ll be covering the system in detail in this series of tank-simulation articles. Continue reading

Uldir – Taloc guide to analyzing DPS

Taloc is mostly single target, with a phase in the middle where you kill some adds. There’s a moderate amount of movement, some of which puts melee out of range of the boss. This isn’t a guide on how to kill the boss, rather some analysis on how the boss will impact your damage, trinkets, and other gear. Continue reading

Stat Analysis – automatic “stat weights”

I put “stat weights” in quotes, because there’s a lot more to stats than just a simple set of weights. Stats seem simple, but they are actually quite complex if you want to “min-max.”

Stats are complicated because… Continue reading

Join the GloNet for BfA

If you’ve ever wished you didn’t have to run ‘stat weights’ every time you changed talents or gear, you’re reading the right article.

We’ve been doing it for you throughout most of Legion. That’s what our “Adaptive Gearing Strategies” do – they use simulation data that’s customized to your character. That’s possible because we’ve already simulated the required talent and gear setups for you, ahead of time. Continue reading

Best in Bags Tutorial

Be confident in your gearing choices

Best in Bags looks through all of the gear you own to find your best setups. This is all based on simulation that we do for you, behind the scenes, so you don’t have to spend time setting up a sim and waiting for the results.

Best in Bags uses the power of simulators to recommend gear, without making you sim anything. We’ve already simulated it for you.

In order to get the most out of the tool, I thought it would be helpful to give a basic explanation on how it works behind the scenes. Then I jump into some specifics for each feature, including a UI overview, setting up Best in Bags for multiple specs, and locking in your favorite items.

I also have more in-depth tutorials for some of the Best in Bags features:

Best in Bags

How does it work?

There are a lot of ways to play and a lot of ways to gear. And a portion of those are so close in damage (or healing, or tank toughness), that they are considered equal. We find you possible solutions within that ‘top tier’ of performance. We even find alternatives that perform just as well, in case you want a different play style, stat preference, or azerite power preference. (See “Alternate Best in Bags.”)

The process of providing top sets of gear is quite complex. You see… what if one Azerite Power is great, but only with a high-crit build? What if two trinkets interact really well, amplifying the effect of each other?

Simulation can answer this, but not as easily as you might initially think. The entire set of gear has to be evaluated in order to decide what is best. And there are a lot of combinations just sitting in your bags right now. If you had just 3 items per slot to choose from, that’s almost 5 million combinations of gear (which would be about 25 billion simulation iterations). You’d have to wait a loooong time for that simulation to finish!

Mr. Robot solved this problem with Best in Bags. You click 1 button and get an answer in seconds.

I just said simulating this would take a long time, so how can we get you such a fast answer?! First, we simulate all of the relevant combinations of gear, including trinkets and Azerite Powers, for your character. We do this over thousands of computers and it takes about 2 weeks to get through every spec, including simulating tanks and healers.

Then we store that in a database, so we can quickly look it up when you want to run Best in Bags. That lets Mr. Robot search through all of them with some fancy logic and machine learning, all so he can pick a best set(s) in seconds.

Best in Bags Tutorial

Best in Bags is really powerful and customizable. So even if you are familiar with the feature, the tutorial images below might reveal something new and helpful.

First, here’s a short 2-minute video to give you a quick rundown on how to import and export gear between the addon and website.

Next up, I have a couple of screenshots of the UI with explanation on what they do and how to use them. Click for larger images (don’t strain your eyes!)

Best in Bags Setup - recommending the top gear from your bags

Best in Bags setup step

Best in Bags Results - see the top gear from your bags

Best in Bags results

Let’s jump into the specifics of each feature:

Stat Analysis

This feature tells you what stats you should focus on for your next few items. Because we’ve simmed everything for you already, it replaces the need to sim your own stat weights. Now you can spend all of that time playing the game instead of simming the game. Learn more about how it all works on our Stat Analysis article.

Let’s talk about the Stat Analysis in the context of Best in Bags and start with an example:

  • Pretend Haste is your best stat.
  • Pretend that Crit should be 80% of your Haste (so for every 100 Haste, you’d want 80 Crit).
  • There’s an awesome Azerite Power that scales really well with Crit.

So, what happens if you get a chest piece with that awesome Azerite Power that scales incredibly well with Crit? When you do Best in Bags, Mr. Robot checks all of your gear and sees if a high Crit build, paired with that Azerite Power, is better than the standard high-Haste build (in our pretend little example here). If so, he’ll suggest it. But because of this, there is no way for you to definitively say that one stat (Haste in this example) will always be best.

But you know what we can do? Aggregate a metric-ton of data and give you a really high-probability suggestion of what stats you should focus on next.

How does this work? First, recall that Mr. Robot has already simulated all of the necessary gear (and Azerite Power) combinations that you could get, and stored that in his database. So all he has to do is look up your current gear and then compare it to setups that do more damage (or healing or tanking) at your current iLevel.

Recommended stat weights / analysis for BfAHe then analyzes all of the stats in all of those setups and looks for trends. He might find that 85% of them have more Haste and less Mastery, in which case, he would tell you to focus on getting more Haste and less Mastery on your next few items.

The advice shows up in this Stat Analysis section, followed by a graph. The graph shows the stats on your current Best in Bags gear, and the arrows tell you what to increase, decrease, and what should stay roughly the same.

While 85% of setups might have more Haste, that doesn’t mean only high-Haste builds are going to be better for you. In this example, 15% of the better-than-your-current gear sets don’t have more Haste than you do now.

You can also see a graph of the data Mr. Robot analyzed for you. This lets you see that, yep, a whole bunch of these are stacking Haste, but a few have relatively low Haste.  Click the “View optimal stat graph” link to see the top performing stat distributions for your item level (or any item level).

Multiple Specs

People often want to do different Best in Bags setups, so we added in that functionality for BfA. For example: one for raiding and one for Mythic+. Or maybe you also want a second raid setup for bosses where you switch talents.

Raid Mythic+ optimize multiple specs

You can switch between any setup by clicking on one in the Setup List on the left side of the Best in Bags section.

Addon gear sets multiple specs in game

The addon has a dropdown menu now, to swap between your setups and specs.

When you export your setups to the addon, all of them get exported. You can switch between them in the drop down menu at the top of the Gear tab.

Addon in-game equipment manager best gear sets

In-Game equipment manager – Ask Mr. Robot addon exports right to it.

Once you equip one of the setups, our addon also creates a gear set in the in-game equipment manager.

For a more in-depth tutorial on creating multiple gear setups, check out this post.

Locking items, gems, enchants, and Azerite Powers

Sometimes, you just want to make sure Mr. Robot keeps your favorite trinket or Azerite Power and works around that. No problem! He’s happy to oblige. This is where locking comes into play.

You could always lock items, gems, and enchants during Legion. But it was a power user feature that was hard to figure out on your own. Since locking things in is a big part of customizing your gear, we’ve put it front-and-center.

Lock gems, enchants, and Azerite Powers

Every lockable thing now has a lock icon next to it. Click the lock icon to bring up a list of items, gems, enchants, or Azerite Powers. Choose the one you want and it will lock in. If something is locked, the icon turns orange. Click it again to unlock.

Alternate setups

After you get your initial Best in Bags recommendation, Mr. Robot provides you with alternate options that are just as good as the one he recommended. Since so many gear combinations are basically equal, this lets you choose a setup that matches your playstyle or is most fun for you to play.

To check out the alternate setups, look for the Customize tab after running Best in Bags.

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

For more information on this feature, including an explanation on the tiers, how to select an alternate, and how to reset it, read the Alternate Best in Bags tutorial.

What if a Best in Bags recommendation looks wrong?

There’s a difference between unexpected and incorrect. If Mr. Robot suggests an item that is 15 iLevels lower, there is a good chance he is correct, even though it is unexpected.

Since all of your gear is evaluated when trying to find a best gear set, an uncommon combination can be found, that us mere humans wouldn’t have even considered. This is one of the reasons this tool is so powerful.

However, it is possible that the suggestion is incorrect (oooooh, don’t tell Mr. Robot I said that!). If this is the case, report it on our forums and we’ll get it fixed right away (bugs rarely last more than a day after being reported). For more information on what might be unexpected vs what might be a bug, check out this “Unexpected” blog post where I categorize unusual scenarios.

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.

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