Author: yellowfive (page 1 of 2)

Tips for optimizing Classic like a pro

I wanted to share some tips for the Classic optimizer that will help you get the most use out of it. This isn’t a starter tutorial (you can find that here), it’s more about the nuances you’ll come across for different roles and specs.

Specs

Classic does not have explicit “specs” like retail WoW — you can pick whatever talents you want and play however you want with those talents. But we found that it is really convenient to keep the idea of a “spec” on the classic optimizer. Here’s how it works for Classic:

Detecting Spec

When you import a character from the addon, we inspect your talents to take a guess at which spec you are probably using. Most of the time this will work just fine, but maybe you are using an unusual build — no problem! Use the spec picker up by your character name and the “Import from Addon” button to change to the spec you want to optimize, and you’re good to go.

Talents

The first time you import your character, we’ll automatically populate your talents for you with that spec. After that, you’ll have to manually adjust your talents to be what you want them to be. This works exactly the same as the optimizer for retail WoW. We do it like this for a couple of reasons:

  1. You have the flexibility to pick any talents you want for whatever spec you want, e.g. you could pick Fury talents for your Protection warrior spec.
  2. The optimizer allows you to create multiple setups per spec. It is very common that you will want to save different talents with each setup. If we were to automatically overwrite your talents whenever you import… it would get very annoying very quickly.

So bottom line: keep your talents up to date on each of your setups! The optimizer adjusts for every talent in the game.

Spec Is Important

The spec you have chosen determines how the optimizer behaves. For example if you are a paladin, choosing Holy will optimize you as a healer, Protection as a tank, and Retribution as a damage dealer. It doesn’t matter what talents you pick — you could choose Holy spec and then select all Retribution talents… we’re still going to assume you are a healer. This approach gives you maximum flexibility to use any build that you want for any role.

Warriors are Snowflakes

WoW Classic Warrior IconWarriors in Classic are super special. For example, a lot of people like to tank while dual-wielding with a mostly Fury build. We can handle all of these builds through the use of spec and the toughness slider on the strategy picker (more about the toughness slider below).

  1. Arms spec: we will assume that you are using a 2-handed weapon exclusively.
  2. Fury spec: we will assume that you are either dual-wielding or using a 2-handed weapon, but not using a shield.
  3. Protection spec: we will assume that you are using a 1-hander and a shield.

Now that we know what kind of weapons you want to use, the toughness slider tells us how you want to play:

Classic Warrior Tanking

  1. Arms and Fury spec: if the toughness slider is all the way to the left (DPS), we assume you are a pure DPS; any other value we assume you are tanking
  2. Protection spec: we assume you are always tanking

Whether you are tanking or not has an impact on things like your chance to be parried and rage generation. The toughness slider controls how much emphasis you want on defensive vs. offensive gear. You can do really offensive or really defensive builds with any warrior spec.

Outlaw Rogues

WoW Classic Rogue IconIn WoW Classic they were called Combat rogues. But we left the labeling as Outlaw… because it sounds cooler.

Arcane Mages

WoW Classic Mage IconYeah so… not really a thing, but you can use the spec as you see fit. If you have the Improved Fireball talent, the optimizer will score/play like a fire mage. If you don’t, it will score/play like a frost mage.

Gearing Strategy Picker

The gearing strategy picker is the first option in the Best in Bags and Best in Slot feature, above your talents. This controls how the optimizer will behave for your character. At launch, there is only one strategy per spec. It is likely that this won’t change — we are going to focus more on customization options than creating multiple strategies. We think that makes more sense for how Classic plays.

There is one important option in the strategy picker though:

Toughness Slider

For tank specs and all Warrior specs, you will see a toughness slider under the strategy when you open the picker. You can use this to control how much you care about offense vs. defense.

Classic Warrior Tanking

This slider is completely relative — there is no “correct” place to put it. Move it up or down until you get a blend that you like. We default it to the toughest setting for tank specs, but that is not meant to be a suggestion. Please change it to what you prefer!

Healer Customization

Ranking gear for healers has always been tricky. For Classic we’re using an old but popular and effective approach: you tell us roughly what your spell usage breakdown looks like, then we choose gear for you that works well with that play style.

We have some reasonable defaults for each spec, but you should customize as you see fit! Your raid team may require that you play differently, or you may just prefer a different approach. To change your spell usage:

  1. Click on the “Customize” tab next to the Set Up tab for Best in Bags or Best in Slot, or click the Customize Strategy button below the Find Best in Bags or Find Best in Slot button in the Set Up step.
    Classic Wow Healer Customization
  2. Check Customize your healing spell breakdown (shown below)
  3. You will see a default set of rules. Remove them and add new ones as you see fit. Note that you can re-order the rules, but it has no impact on the optimization — it is purely for your own organizational purposes.

WoW Classic Healer Rules

Easy as that! Then optimize and see your gear suggestions change to match your spell breakdown.

Note that we have also included decurse spells in the list. If you tend to spend a lot of mana on decursing, add it to the list and that will be factored into the calculation.

Unusual Best in Slot

You will notice that our algorithms pick about 95% of the same gear as you’ll see on pretty much any Classic Best in Slot guide out there. But every now and again you’ll see a particular item that the optimizer seems to like more than what you are used to seeing.

Most people’s first reaction is that it must be a bug. Feel free to tell us about such cases and we’ll look into it! But let’s say that we look at it and there is no bug — the stats look correct, estimates of any special effects look correct, and so on. Now that begs the question:

If this mathematical formula picks 95% of the same gear as everyone else, but then picks this one item that is different… maybe that different item is better than everyone thinks? I know… blasphemy! There is no room for new thinking in Classic! But it would be kind of weird for a purely mathematical system to be selectively incorrect… you’d expect it to be systematically incorrect.

Anyway — just some food for thought. Let us know if any anomalies that you find on our forums, but also keep an open mind!

How to Keep Up in 8.3

Dailies, assaults, visions, emissaries, islands, missions, dungeons, raids… dang dude, that’s a lot of stuff. So what do you really have to be doing to keep your character caught up and raid ready?

This little guide is not targeted at people who have time to play WoW for 4+ hours every day. This is targeted at the WoW player who wants to raid or do Mythic+ two or three times a week with their team, and that’s it! (Or maybe you want to play more, but life gets in the way.) We will also target this at players who aren’t interested in putting in a lot of time to get cosmetic rewards such as mounts. We’ll order it by activity, and do an analysis of the time vs. reward for each.

(There’s also an infographic summarizing everything at the end of the post).

This post was updated Jan 22 with the changes for amount of Coalescing Visions earned from Minor Horrific Visions (1500, up from 1000) and dailies (250 each, up from 50).

Assaults

Each week there is a “major” assault that you can do which gives you a cache that has a Vessel key in it for a Horrific vision.

You can also do two “minor” assaults. The minor assault resets on Tuesday and then again on Friday night, rewarding 5,500 Coalescing Visions each. The location will rotate between Uldum and the Vale of Eternal Blossoms, and will show up on your map.

These are worth doing. They don’t take very long, you don’t need to do them every day, and they essentially reward 2 keys (a key from the Major and a total of 11k Coalescing Visions from the minor).

Minor Visions

Each day, there is a “minor” horrific vision that you can do. The first week it was in the Vale of Eternal Blossoms. It shows up on your map, and looks like a pillar with a quest-giver near it with a blue/daily quest to go inside and do a simple objective like kill enemies, rescue people, or close portals. You can do this once a day and it rewards 1000  1500 Coalescing Visions, 3000 for the first one each week.

These are worth doing. It usually takes less than 5 minutes.

Daily Quests

Uldum and the Vale of Eternal Blossoms have new daily quests tied to two new factions. These daily quests also reward 50 250 Coalescing Visions each and a good chunk of War Resources. If you do every daily quest for both zones every day, you’ll get around 14,000 Coalescing Visions per week, enough for an extra key.

You will also average around 3500 reputation with each faction per week if you do every assault and every daily quest. This means that it will take you roughly 5 weeks to reach revered with each faction. (Note that some people could certainly do it faster in calendar time, but it will require many hours of extra farming of the zones — out of the scope for the type of player we’re talking about in this guide.)

The only interesting rewards (in terms of raiding) for reaching revered are rank 3 of the essences Breath of the Dying, Spirit of Preservation, and Touch of the Everlasting.

A person who is pretty efficient about doing daily quests can finish them in around 20-30 minutes for each zone, depending on the quests that day. So plan around 40-60 minutes per day, or 4.5-7 hours per week. To put this in terms of rewards:

  1. 12-18 hours of total play to go from Rank 2 to Rank 3 of Breath of the Dying
  2. Another 12-18 hours of total play to go from Rank 2 to Rank 3 of Spirit of Preservation and Touch of the Everlasting
  3. 3-5 hours of total play to earn enough Coalescing Vision to do an extra Horrific Vision

Without doing these dailies, you can earn enough Coalescing Visions to do 3.3 Horrific Visions each week for a total of about 2.5 hours of play… so roughly 45 minutes of play to earn enough to do a vision via assaults and the very short “minor” vision quest… having to spend 3-5 hours to get another vision is not a great use of your time.

12-18 hours of total play time to upgrade an essence from Rank 2 to Rank 3 is also not a great use of your time. At best, you are looking at a 1-2% increase in DPS or tanking/healing performance, given that you will have other good Rank 3 essence alternatives.

Dailies are not worth doing. It’s that simple — just skip them entirely if you don’t feel like doing them! You will be able to keep up just fine without them.

Other Stuff

Some other activities are still worth your time:

  1. Emissary quests that reward artifact power
  2. Emissary quests that reward gear that is an upgrade, or a higher item level than something you already have
  3. The weekly island quest for artifact power and the extra table mission
  4. Heroic Darkshore warfront — do it once for the quest each time it is available
  5. Table missions
  6. New world bosses (available as of Jan 21st)

Any other emissary or world quests are not a good use of time. Doing islands other than for the weekly reward is also a bad use of your time.

This is a lot of stuff… so if you want to save more of your time, skip islands entirely, and skip any emissary quest that is not artifact power.

Horrific Visions

These are important and you should do them!

This is a new activity in 8.3, can’t miss them if you do the main story quests. There has been quite a bit of “stress” about these after the first week because the number of times you can attempt them is limited by how many Coalescing Visions you get. If you fail, you don’t get any reward, and you just wasted 10,000 of your Coalescing Visions. But as of January 22nd, Blizzard increased the amount of CV you earn from various activities so failing isn’t nearly as punishing.

If you do the activities above without dailies, you will end up with essentially 33,000 Coalescing Visions per week (23k from activities and 1 key from the major assault). That’s 3 keys a week and that feels much more flexible. If you fail a key, you can now farm dailies for the week to earn a key back.

Horrific Visions have the following rewards:

Legendary Cloak Upgrades

Wrathion gives you quests to upgrade your legendary cloak. This is important! It is the only way to increase your corruption resistance, which is very important for increasing your power this patch. Each quest will tell you what to do in the Horrific Vision.

  • Rank 1-5 only require that you kill the main boss in the center area (Thrall or Alleria).
  • Rank 6-11 require that you clear objectives in the “corrupted” areas around the center (the tooltip on the map labels them as such).
  • Rank 12-15 require that you clear objectives in the “lost” areas around the center (the tooltip on the map labels them as such).

You can only reach Rank 6 up until Jan 21st (when the raid starts). After that, you will be able to increase your cloak one rank each week, up to Rank 15. This is why you don’t need to worry too much if you failed once or twice: you’ll be able to do more Horrific Visions than are required to rank up your cloak.

Gear

Gear drops from the chests at the end of a Horrific Vision. You get better gear for completing more objectives, and eventually doing the Horrific Vision with “masks” activated. For the target audience of this guide (someone who wants to raid), the gear is not worth worrying about until you can clear all 5 objectives. That will drop ilvl445 gear. After that, each Faceless Mask activated will increase gear rewards by 5 item levels.

Blizzard posted all of the gear levels on their forum in this post: Horrific Visions Rewards.

Essence Upgrades

You get items to upgrade Spark of Inspiration, Unwavering Ward, and Strength of the Warden in Horrific Visions. You’ll get rank 2 pretty quickly without worrying about it, but rank 3 will take a bit longer. If you can full-clear all 5 objectives, you can get to rank 3 faster.

Optimal Use of Coalescing Visions

The number of Horrific Visions you can run each week is extremely limited, so you want to make the best use of them to upgrade your cloak.

Rule 1: never* run a Horrific Vision unless you have a quest to upgrade your cloak, or you would waste Coalescing Visions. Bank your Coalescing Visions for the following week instead. (To bank more than the Coalescing Visions currency cap, purchase the item to open a Horrific Vision, you can hold up to 5 of them in your inventory.

*Since Blizzard increased the amount of Coalescing Visions you can earn from the daily Horrific Vision (1500, up from 1000) and dailies (250 each, up from 50), you can now earn enough to get spare keys. This allows you to do extra runs for Mementos or Gear.

Rule 2: never use a mask unless you are 100% confident that you can complete the objectives needed for your cloak quests.

Next, you want to ensure maximum progress when you do run a Horrific Vision:

  • Rank 2-5 you should not leave the center area, just kill the boss (Thrall or Alleria) and be done
  • Rank 6-11 you should clear both Corrupted Areas, you still make progress even if you don’t kill the main boss!
  • Rank 12+ doesn’t have as much data out there, but likely you should go for the 2 Lost Areas first to ensure maximum progress

Projected progress for Cloak upgrades

If you are doing only the time-efficient activities suggested above, you would earn 23k Coalescing Visions each week plus 1 key from the Major Assault. Here is what “perfect” progress would look like in terms of the runs required to max your Cloak’s rank for the week, the rank of your cloak, and the remaining resources.

(see infographic below for a nice chart of this data)

  • Week 1:  5 runs to get to Rank 6 with 0 resources leftover (in reality, you would likely have a bit extra from looting rares, chests, etc).
  • Week 2:  1 run to get to Rank 7 with 13k CV  leftover + 1 key
  • Week 3: 1 run, Rank 8 with 16k CV + 3 keys (after converting 10k CV to a key to avoid capping CV)
  • Week 4: 2 runs, Rank 9 with 19k CV + 4 keys
  • Week 5: 3 runs, Rank 10, 12k CV + 5 keys
  • Week 6: 4 runs, Rank 11, 5k CV + 5 keys
  • Week 7: 1 run, Rank 12, 18k CV + 6 keys (use a spare key this week)
  • Week 8: 3 runs, Rank 13, 21k CV + 5 keys (speculating you can only get 2 of the quest item per run for this rank and higher… but not sure)
  • Week 9: 6 runs, Rank 14, 4k CV + 4 keys
  • Week 10: 7 runs, Rank 14, 7k + 0 keys (not enough to complete it this week, but if you did dailies just this week, you would have enough for 2 more runs)
  • Week 11: 2 runs, Rank 15, 10k CV + 1 key

Horrific Visions infographic

This is a lot of data and to make it a bit more fun to read, we put together an infographic (click for full size).

Horrific Visions Farm Coalescing Visions Infographic Guide

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

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