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.

Talent builds, quantified

The talent section of our guides show you all viable builds. We do this with data, not opinion. As you probably already wondered, what do we mean by viable?

To one person, viable might mean anything within 1%, but to someone else it might mean 10%. My personal opinion is anything within 3% is fine, but that won’t be the same for you.

When surveyed, 19% think no tradeoff is acceptable (not even 0.25%) while 23% players think a 10% (or more) DPS loss is perfectly fine.

Instead of making the judgement call on your behalf, we let you customize these percentages. Then you can see how many top builds each talent falls into, and play with the system until you find a build you like or want to experiment with.

This 1-minute video gives you a quick overview. It has captions for those of you not able to play sound right now. UPDATE: The bars for each talent USED to represent the number of top builds they were in (like the video shows). They NOW represent the actual damage, which is much better. I will have an updated video soon.

Rotations

Rotations can be hard to learn and even harder to master.

1 in 3 players report their rotation as the biggest thing holding back their performance.

Rotations aren’t really a sequence that you repeat, they are more of a priority list with decision points. You know what helps visualize something like that? Flow charts. We hope our unique layout can make mastering your rotation easier.

Here an example flow chart excerpt from the Feral Druid guide.

World of Warcraft guide - rotation feral

Rotation Analysis

Rotations are complicated, and it’s hard to know when a piece of logic will increase your DPS (and by how much). The Rotation Analysis section of these guides will answer those questions.

How does this work? First, we pick something to test. Let’s take Elemental Shamans as an example – we might want to test something like this: 

Should you pool Maelstrom before Stormkeeper so that both Lightning Bolts can benefit from Surge of Power?

We set up two rotations to test this – one that pools and one that doesn’t. Then these rotations are tested again a variety of talent and gear combinations that sample across all relevant builds (not just one or two builds). This is actually necessary in order for the test to be practical, since few people have ‘the best gear.’

Then we share the results like this:

World of Warcraft guide - rotation analysis Elemental Shaman

 

Let’s take a look at the different numbers that are shared in that Rotation Analysis screenshot:

  • DPS Delta: This shows you the DPS gain (or loss) from the test. In this example, pooling Maelstrom before Stormkeeper results in an average DPS gain of 0.67%. The max from a specific set of gear and talents was 1.84%, and the worst gear setup lost 0.42% DPS. This information lets you decide if a piece of rotation logic is worth it for you.
  • Top Tier Setups: Each test is run across a variety of talent + gear setups, but it is useful to have some statistics on only the top setups. In this example, 85% of the top setups saw a DPS gain and 15% saw no change from this test.
  • All Setups: This section shows the percentage of talent + gear setups that saw a DPS gain, loss, or no gain. You can see that 0.15% of the setups lost DPS.

Not all tests result in DPS gains and we share those too.

Warcraft rotation guide shaman

In this example, the Top Tier setups column shows that 20% of the talent + gear setups did result in a DPS gain. The average was 0.04% but some setups got as much as 1.95%. However, you can also see that 60% of the Top Tier setups were worse, up to almost a 2% loss.

This data also demonstrates that one rotation doesn’t ‘rule them all’ – there are a lot of ways to play that work well across various setups.

We currently have the rotation analysis for Elemental Shamans posted up. The rest of the specs are being worked on and we’ll be adding more analysis day after day.

Comparing to logs

Our guides are based on a lot of theoretical data. I say theoretical because a simulator is a model of the game, not the game itself. So we take one last step with our guides and compare them to logs of top players. When the two sources match, we know our advice is realistic.

We don’t just compare the most popular builds to logs, we look at ‘off-meta’ ones as well. We keep an eye out for top-ranked logs that use less popular builds and share the the log-comparison with you in case you want to try it out too.

What if the guides say something different than what’s out there?

They definitely will. That’s half the point of our guides: we’re offering a lot of choices that you won’t find elsewhere. It’s up to you to decide which of the choices are best for you.

The guides are based off data that is also tested against logs to ensure they are accurate and realistic. Here’s a few things we do:

  • Our simulator is based on realistic boss fights with things like movement (which can change how you cast spells and our rotations account for this).
  • Our rotations are tested against top logs, to verify they can actually be executed (and not too ‘robotic’ or impossible). We currently compare these to top Heroic Grong logs with our Grong simulation script.
  • We optimize for all talent builds, not just the most popular one(s). This means you will sometimes see ‘bad’ builds be much closer to the ‘best’ builds on our site & simulator because we spent time optimizing even ‘bad’ builds them to give them a fair shake.

It’s okay if we say something different. It’s healthy. It’s good for the community. It challenges the status quo and makes adopting new things possible. Forcing one ‘right way to play’ on people makes it hard for each person to figure out what works best for themselves. It also leeches fun out of the game.

I can confidently tell you this: if you make choices based on the data in our guides, you will  perform well. If you follow advice from other guides, you’ll also perform well. You don’t have to pledge loyalty to one source. Read them all and pick what works best for you.

Tell us what you think:

This is the first iteration and we want to know how you like them – check the guides out here. What do you love? What do you want to see added? Do you have any specific questions we can answer with our rotation comparisons? Post feedback on our forums.