Archive for Theorycraft

Using the Combat Log to Improve Your DPS

The last few days, Stormshaper has been taking part in 10 man content. There hasn’t been a lot of success in terms of drops – in fact, not a single piece of gear has dropped that she can use. No matter, this is all good practice for improving her DPS.

As well as in-game items, such as enchants and gems, another way to increase your DPS is by studying the content of your combat log. There are a few ways to do this, and one particularly easy way is using an on-line service, such as World of Logs, or, my preference, WowWebStats.

How these online services work is, they allow you to upload your combat log, or a portion of it which pertains to the time you spent raiding, and it breaks down every event in the combat log, and presents it to you in an easy to read format, showing any number of things that you might be interested in.

I’ve been using WoWWebStats for a few years now, it’s fast, its easy to read their output, its a decent method of improving your overall performance.

I’m going to write a couple of posts on how to use WowWebStats, and what you should be looking for, as an enhancement shaman taking part in a 5, 10, 25 or 40 man raid.

WoW Web Stats

Okay, if you don’t have an account with them, you should make one. There’s a link to the account creation area on their main page. There’s no catch to this, you receive no spam from them at all, its just to allow you to logon to their service, save raid reports, and a myriad of other things. You can find out more about the services available though WowWebStats here When you’ve created an account and verified it, you’re away.

The next thing you need to do is download their Java client. The Java client will present you with a dialog for you to select your combat log.

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Once selected, you can give it a comment, such as “10 man Trial of the Crusader” or whatever, something meaningful for you. Once you’ve done that, simply click “Host Report” and the Java client will start its parse of your combat log, upload it to the WowWebStats website where you can then review any number of reports about the content.

Here is an overview of our 10 man raid that took out XT-002 Deconstructor in Ulduar as part of the weekly raid quest available in Dalaran.

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As you can see, the fight lasted for a total of 2 minutes and 39 seconds, and Stormshaper was present for 95% of the fight. (This means it took her a few seconds to run across and get in the correct position for her to start whaling away at the XT-002 Deconstructor and his exposed heart. In the time she was active, she caused 941854 damage to XT-002 Deconstructor, amounting to 16% of the overall damage.

That’s a fairly easy to follow report, and it shows you some key components such as overall damage, your percentage of the raid damage, your overall DPS (6,586 DPS for Stormshaper – go go raid buffs!).

You can drill down into the report to get some in-depth information about how your damage was done, i.e. what attacks you used, and how much damage they did. To view this report simply click the name of the player in the raid you want to view (yes, the report contains all the information for every player in the raid, not just you), and you will see the more detailed screen.

If anyone bothers to click my name, you’ll see that I have a tremor totem down, for no good reason other than we went to Ulduar after doing Faction Champions in Trial of the Crusader and I never changed my totem set up back to how it should be. *BLUSH*

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Okay, so, we know looking at that, that Stormshaper’s DPS could have been improved by her using a Strength of Earth totem rather than a tremor totem. She could also get an improvement if and when she completes the achingly long quest chain to unlock the incredibly boring Sons of Hodir dailies to get her shoulder enchants. That’s a given. However, she was doing over 6K DPS without those two items.

So, what else contributed significantly to her DPS? Her swings caused 267,700 damage, or 29%. More tellingly 9% of her swings missed the target which would account for approximately 24,000 damage. A significant amount. So, looking at that tells me that Stormshaper’s hit rating needs a slight adjustment. Windfury and Lightning Bolt attacks were her next highest attacks, rattling up 13% and 11% damage.

Another thing the report tells you is the damage done by your pets. So you can see Spirit Wolves accounted for 68,289 of Stormshaper’s total damage. Her Fire Elemental accounted for 110,345 damage. Substantial by any means.

This is a high level overview of the information offered by combat log parsers. In the next post I’ll delve into other issues, such as how long were totems up for. In a fight like XT-002 Deconstructor, the totem times will be pretty near to Stormshaper’s total time in the fight. On a fight that requires a bit of movement, like Krick and Ick in Pit of Saron, these timings will be less, as you have to evade the poison and the explosive charges rather than standing there smashing away at the boss. So we’ll see what can be learned from static versus mobile fights as an enhancement Shaman.


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Set Bonus and Talent Rebuild

When Stormshaper got her second piece of her tier 9 DPS set, she triggered the following set bonus.

At this point – it was time for Stormshaper to redo her talent tree specificiation, because while levelling her to 80, I neglected to put any points at all in Static Shock.

This was Stormshaper’s old talent tree:

And here is her new talent tree:

So there are a few subtle differences, which we’ll discuss here.

In the Elemental Tree, she removed the point she had in Elemental Focus as it wasn’t giving her any benefit whatsoever, and put that point into Call of Flame, meaning that she’s maxed that talent. Doing this increases the damage done by her Fire Nova by 5% and Lava Burst by 2%. As she doesn’t use Lava Burst that much, the latter isn’t that relevant, but the increase from Fire Nova is substantial.

In the Enhancement tree, she’s dropped three points from Ancestral Knowledge, meaning her increase in intellect has dropped from 10% to 4%. The three points have instead been moved into Static Shock. This is a nice little bonus to a shaman’s burst damage. With the 2 piece bonus, the chance to trigger Static Shock is increased with an additional 3% taking that up to a 9% chance to trigger.

So, with her two piece set bonus and her talent tree sorted out, Stormshaper is ready to go!

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Have you seen the forum post which offers a little bit more information on the forthcoming “Mastery” system that will come along when Deathwing reappears? Reading through MMO Champion’s BlueTracker system reveals a few more follow up posts from the developers.

Back at the Blizzard DevCon, the developers announced that the talent tree system was going to receive a complete overhaul with some talent selections going away, to be replaced by passive bonuses. This would simplify the talent trees for each class significantly. The passive bonuses would be activated as you spent your talent points in various trees.

Applying these passive bonuses as talent points are spent in each tree would move people away from hybrid talent spreads, where they try to unlock talents from across all three available talent trees. The game has moved on somewhat from when you could do that and remain viable in your chosen role (tank/dps/healer).

One thing it could possibly lead to is all the various classes having pretty much the same talent spread with little or no deviation. I know that they’re bringing in the forging talent to alter stats on gear slightly (not dis-similar to the bonuses available from gems), but will the condensing of the talent trees lead to all healing paladins having spec ‘x’, all Enhancement shamans having spec ‘y’, all unholy death knights having spec ‘z’?

If so, won’t that make the game a little less challenging, and very, very samey?

The developers seem to be really buzzing about this change in the talent system, so I’ll wait and see what’s coming along. For myself, the only caveat I have is that as long as it doesn’t make every player uniformly the same no matter what, with talent spreads only dictated by class balancing then that’s fine. If talent spreads are going to be dictated by alterations on patch day then that’s not really going to be much fun at all.

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Bringing The Deeps

Things are starting to fall into place with Stormshaper. Slowly, inevitably, she is accruing the badges to buy tier 9 gear. As you gear up, its important to read up on what brings you the best DPS you can muster. With a hunter, you’re looking at armour penetration, agility and hit rating. With a Death Knight, you’re looking at strength, expertise and a bit of stamina thrown in for good measure, to make sure you can survive any big hits that come your way.

With an enhancement shaman, its a little bit of both. Expertise is one of the statistics an enhancement shaman needs to get to the maximum level as quickly possible because expertise reduces the chance that your attack will be blocked/dodged/parried. If your attacks are hitting home, you’re causing damage, which is giving you maelstrom weapon procs, which stack up rapidly, and on five stacks you can let go instant cast chain lightning or lightning bolts, which means your DPS is going to go through the roof.

Another statistic an enhancement shaman needs is hit. Not because hit gives you crit, but because hit means you are going to miss less. Less missing means pretty much the same as above. Hit and expertise together will mean that you’re smacking your target on pretty much every swing and that’s what you are after.

So, last night, after Stormshaper picked up her second piece of tier gear, Nobundo’s Grips of Conquest, I powered up Rawr, and proceeded to do a lot of ‘what if’ analysis, going through various gems and enchants, in order to see what combination of both will give Stormshaper a significant DPS increase.

You can follow the socket bonuses available from gem slots on gear, but, truthfully? You don’t need to, and sometimes it benefits you enormously to ignore those available bonuses.

In Stormshaper’s case, the gem that gave her the best DPS in each slot were those gems that gave her expertise. So in her gloves and shoulders went a Precise Cardinal Ruby. Both of these gems give Stormshaper the best DPS over all the other gems available in the game, and no, they don’t match the socket, so she does lose the socket bonus, but 4 agility and 8 attack power is small potatoes in comparison to the DPS increase from the gem alone.

To see if I could prove this point, and find out the overall effect one of these gems would have on Stormshaper’s overall DPS, I used Enhsim and Rawr together to perform two simulations. One with the gem, and one without.

In Rawr, I disabled all the buffs available apart from those from racial and tradeskills, and ran a simulation which showed that with the gem equipped in her glove socket, Stormshaper was doing an estimated 2097.60 DPS. Then, with the gem removed from the glove socket, I re-ran the same simulation which resulted in her doing an estimated 2086.01 DPS.

According to Enhsim therefore, one Precise Cardinal Ruby adds 11.59 DPS to Stormshaper, given her current equipment. Certainly a lot better than a socket bonus of 4 agility.

I pressed on with the expertise and hit gemming and in Stormshaper’s boots and chest piece went Accurate Ametrine, again the chest piece socket bonus is missed, but 2 mana every 5 seconds? Who’s going to miss that? This gem in the boots enables the socket bonus, so that’s all well and good.

After gemming, I sauntered along to the target dummies and spent a little while attacking them, trying out various attacks. I could see that the DPS increase was significant, – perhaps not as clearly as Enhsim shows, but certainly the numbers were higher than previously, and significantly so.

There is a lot of improvement in Stormshaper’s performance now, but even with level 200 blue-quality weapons and a level 70 enchant on each one (Mongoose), she’s still doing 2.4K – 2.6K DPS in heroics, which isn’t too shabby by any standards.

By the end of the week, Stormshaper will be in four piece tier gear and she’ll exploit the four set bonus, which increases damage done by her shock spells by 25% which is a significant jump, so I’m aiming for her to be around the 3K – 4K mark before she progresses on the weapon front.

Let’s see how it pans out.

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Gear Choices, Theorycrafting EnhSim and Rawr

Stormshaper has four very, very good one handed weapons at her disposal now. Two main hand items, Arm Blade of Augelmir and Borean Smasher and two items that can go into either hand, Venerable Mass of McGowan and Rising Tide.

The task now is to decide which two of the four will benefit her the most.

To do this, I’m going to go all Elitist Jerks and use the Enhsim and Rawr applications to simulate DPS using these different weapons in different combinations.

If you want to know what Enhsim and Rawr are, read this.

I used Rawr to equip each weapon combination, exported that data to Enhsim and ran the simulations. Three simulations for each weapon combination. Then I averaged out the DPS, MPS, MP2Min, MRPS and Out of Mana time. Here are the results:

1.Borean Smasher (MH)(WF) and Venerable Mace of McGowan (OH)(FT)

DPS 1118.92
MPS 204.14
MP2Min 24496.06
MRPS 180.31
OOM 11.29

2. Arm Blade of (MH)(WF) Augelmir and Venerable Mace of McGowan (OH)(FT)

DPS 1114.94
MPS 202.81
MP2Min 24040.06
MRPS 178.92
OOM 11.57

3. Borean Smasher (MH)(WF) and Rising Tide (OH)(FT)

DPS 1098.91
MPS 203.49
MP2Min 24418.70
MRPS 179.65
OOM 11.47

4. Arm Blade of Augelmir (MH)(WF) and Rising Tide (OH)(FT)

DPS 1094.62
MPS 202.21
MP2Min 24265.11
MRPS 178.32
OOM 11.72

5. Venerable Mace of McGowan (MH)(WF) and Rising Tide (OH)(FT)

DPS 1141.46
MPS 203.98
MP2Min 24476.97
MRPS 180.15
OOM 11.33

6. Equipped with Rising Tide (MH)(WF) and Venerable Mace of McGowan (OH)(FT)

DPS 1132.39
MPS 204.02
MP2Min 24481.65
MRPS 180.20
OOM 11.31

What these tests showed was that the best combination for Stormshaper is the Venerable Mace of McGowan in her main hand and Rising Tide in her offhand. This is to be expected, because up until level 80, the BoA items are in most cases better than available equipment at the same level.

If you don’t have any BoA items on your shaman, and you have a choice between the Borean Smasher and the Arm Blade of Augelmir as a main hand weapon, for me as I understand the data above, the Borean Smasher is the better of the two weapons. As I look at my item comparison of all four weapons, the attributes of the Arm Blade of Augelmir look to outshine the Borean Smasher, but the slower speed of the Borean Smasher really brings it to the fore for Enhancement Shamans.

Of course, that all might be complete rubbish, and if it is, I’d love someone to correct it for me. But as I understand it, the Borean Smasher is king. I’m actually going to pass the Venerable Mace of McGowan over to my paladin so Stormshaper’s weapon choices just got a little bit easier.

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