Monday, February 28, 2011

A Revisit to Reforging

Elkagorasa to the rescue! Last Friday there was a nice little post over at Elk's site in response to my Reforging for Dummies article. The article generated a lot of Twitter buzz, because, as we discovered, there is a moderate amount of confusion among Affliction 'locks about what to reforge. Some were thinking Mastery was better, and that Crit should be our prime candidate for expulsion (as opposed to my published negativism toward Mastery).

After some research and discussion, we verified that, for the most part, Mastery is going to be our least favored stat, though Crit is a close second. Still, my advice should hold from the article. Yet, I was unsatisfied. I didn't feel optimized, but I certainly didn't want to go and try to figure it all out manually. Surely there is a resource out there to do this for me.

Enter Elk and a Friday endorsement of the Ask Mr. Robot website that is even now linked in my resource area. Having been sucked in to the article by the piece of blog candy that sucks in all of us e-writers (yes, a link... and I'm jk, Elk is firmly ensconced in my reader anyway), I was rather intrigued by the site. I had been using WoW-heroes for many moons now, but find it woefully lacking for reforging advice.

Mr. Robot does it for you. Check out Elk's article for some wonderful screenies and a quick run down of what the site does. That's what I did. Then I went and tried it out for myself. Wonder amongst wonders, the site was not yet caught by the work filter, so double bonus. It loaded my character from the armory, populated it's lists, and even gave me an Affliction stat weighting that looked pretty decent with what I expected.

Click, click... optimize... and we're off! Mr. Robot crunched all the numbers for me and offered an optimized solution in a manner of seconds. Over the weekend, I decided to take the plunge and blindly follow the advice. It's only gold, right?

Reforging at the behest of the laudable Mr. Robot found me completely rearranging everything from gems, to enchants, to gear stats. When I was done, I had followed all of the reforging advice, all of the enchanting advice, and most of the gemming advice. (I will not cave and ruin my color matching OCD, though Mr. Robot even takes whether or not the bonus is worth it into account it seems.)

After dropping about 1k of gold to do all this (with some help from the guild bank as far as gems), I got a chance to run a heroic. Imagine my surprise when I found myself about 2k higher. 2k! From just rearranging stats. (Side note: I was trying to add Shadowflame when I could as well, so that may have slightly skewed things upward too, but I wouldn't call its addition successful because I have a compulsion against running into 8yd range. One which I didn't overcome as much as you'd think. Fwiw - I went from around 11/12k to around 13/14k.)

So I'm going to jump on the band wagon here. It doesn't get much simpler than letting a Robot crunch the numbers for you. For the casual among us, the default stat weightings seem to be grounded well enough that they'll be applicable (Elk notes that the devs make use of SimC for this). For the more hardcore theorycrafters, you can tweak until your heart's content to get the perfect weighting. After just a short weekend of trial and error, I love this site, and it's definitely improved my damage output. The initial investment to get on board was high, but I did replace one piece of gear after my initial foray and re-ran the optimizer. I was pleasantly surprised that I only had to shift around a few things. Carrying on like this should be minimal, especially since I really shouldn't have to re-gem or re-enchant, having obtained all my hit from gear reforges.

So, to you, Ask Mr. Roboto: Domo arigato!


  1. The Robot is only as goods as the stat weights he scores from, mind you. (& Yes, I do love Mr. Robot, anyway.)

    I do like using a calculator as much as anyone, but I still try to learn algebra anyway. >.>

  2. Garbage in = Garbage out... of course.

    Still, the out of box weights weren't bad, and what is important isn't so much the numbers as their relation to each other. If Haste is higher than Crit, then the program will reforge appropriately.

    For judgement on whether the gem bonuses are worth it, however, it totally matters.

    It's always better to understand the underlying science behind a tool, but it's not always necessary to get valid use out said tool.

  3. Be very wary of Mr. Robot. I've gone to Mr. Robot on a number of occasions and it has drastically changed my BiS/gear/gems/enchants from one day to the next without my adding in any new gear or talents.

    It also takes into account FULL raid buffs, so it's going to optimize you based on the fact that you're going to be having the 5% haste buff from a boomkin, and stuff like that.

    Like the tagline: Buyer beware!

  4. Really? It's been pretty consistent for me and agreed with I expected.

    How is it for just reforging? I don't rely heavily on the other parts (because I think any gear "bot" will have issues to a certain degree).

    I did find it useful in helping me find upgrades I overlooked (like the Elementium Spellblade and the Flamebloom Hands that I totally just forgot about).

    I've only used it in "Pre-raid" format too... if that matters.

  5. Yeah, going back and forth between pre-raid and raid gives you some rather odd numbers.

    Like, for my hubby it spat out that he was supposed to break 2 gem slots (+20 crit, +10 hit) for a mere extra +20 strength? Why should I put my chimaera's eye gems in an off-color socket on an item that has a red socket with a chimaera's eye already in it? It makes little to no sense from day to day. I've even played with the stats, and it still gives me wonky numbers.

    I'm finding for my own sanity to not trust it.

  6. Yeah, I went into it planning to ignore it for gems because I always ignore that advice.

    Have you found any issues with reforging? Because I've found that to be spot on. Maybe the take home here is "still use your brain when gemming" but this will get you in the ballpark as far as everything else (though you should still use your brain).

    For me, it seems a great solution to keeping reforging simple instead of trying to come up with some complex rules and sketch hit numbers out on my notpad to try and get to 17% on the nose. This was extremely useful in that endeavor.

  7. Mr. Robot does give you an awesome gear listing, though. I've found that the gear it gives me is a fairly substantial mesh of hit/haste gear with crit and mastery being the lesser of the stats.

    Just can't wait for DMF to come along so I can turn in my Volcanic Deck to get my trinket!

  8. Yes, I totally agree. I only take any site's suggestions with a grain of salt. I always think back to when visiting a competitor gear site and it was suggesting weapons/trinkets that proc on heals (i.e. Brewfest Egg ... drain life heals, right?! I actually picked one up in Wrath thinking it would help.. Yeah that's what I get for blindly following bad advice.) I've learned to think twice about their suggestions. So far, I haven't seen anything like that on Mr. Robot (yet). Even better, the suggestions make sense to me.

    In addition, I find the flexibility that Mr Robot offers with the stat weighting and their desire to customize the site admirable. It appears that they are actively trying to update the weighting options for all classes, constantly. The changes you mention Deidra, may be due to those adjustments.

  9. I just wanted to stop by and say thanks for checking out the site! One of the human team members has actually done a lot of raiding with a warlock ;)

    For those of you who have been using it fairly regularly over the past couple of weeks, you definitely will notice a difference in the suggestions. We realize it is annoying, but, this is due to improvements in our optimization algorithm. We have one more update coming out today or tomorrow, and then the suggestions should be stable - unless someone brings a small bug to our attention. (And please do if you find one!) The accuracy of the site is extremely solid now - by this we mean that it will get you very, very close to the set of gear/gems/enchants/reforges with highest total EP value. (Usually within 0.25%).

    A couple people mentioned that they were planning on taking the reforge advice and not the gem advice... Mr. Robot only guarantees results if you follow ALL the advice ;) This is because he creates entire sets of gear, and does not look at gems, enchants, or reforges separately. Mr. Robot will never suggest skipping a socket bonus (or getting a socket bonus) unless it will lead to a higher total EP value. Mr. Robot recommends that you adjust the stat weights to achieve your preferred results!

    We are going to do a thorough review of warlock and mage stat weights (using SimC) in the next day or two now that SimC has gone through more revisions since 4.0.6. Look for a summary of our analysis on the site very soon!

  10. Cool and thanks for stopping by to let us know! It's always nice to hear from the mech behind the curtain :-).

  11. Just wanted to let you guys to know that I had to push the warlock and mage stat weight review to next week. I fell behind a bit in my work this week and will be out of town all weekend. I didn't forget! I shamelessly favor caster classes in my priorities since that is what I play ;)

  12. Look at resto-druids and symbiosis. It begs you to HoT and then direct heal. This very similar to how I used to abuse Borrowed Time on my disco-priest, bubble and direct heal.
    Regrowth used to be a fire and forget spell with the long HoT that is used to have. Now it is a quick heal with a short HoT. Outside of the short HoT it is essentially Flash Heal. If you need a quick heal then you can use it but you'd better not spam it.
    Using Nourish to keep LB up is not much different than trying to keep your grace stack up on a disco priest.
    They used to be different. Not so much now. They're not equal, yet. It just looks like it is headed that way. I'm not trying to troll, that is just the way I see it.

  13. So, I've finished looking at stat weights for Affliction Warlocks. I have a somewhat lengthy summary of my process that will be available on Mr. Robot's site tomorrow and the updated stat weights will start being used as well. I'll post a link when it is up. I would be interested to see if folks here who optimize using these new weights find the results optimal or not. I feel pretty good about them! Demonology and Destruction are in the works!

  14. Cool. Thanks for the update. I'll take a look and probably do a short write up if I find that it's leading me to significant changes.

  15. I did not notice changes in stat priorities. This was more of a refinement of the stat weights to work more optimally with currently available gear. That way folks using Mr. Robot for warlocks don't need to do it "with a grain of salt."

  16. The summary of how I found our new default stat weights is here:

  17. Thanks and great write up. I'll try to touch on it this week.

  18. One observation that I left out of my write up completely... but which I have always found interesting... is how high SimC estimates DPS. Do you know anyone that could get anywhere near 20611 DPS with only blues (except for crafted belt and pants)? A really, really good player on a tank and spank fight with that level of gear would hit like... 17k? Maybe 18? We have tweaked Mr. Robot's algorithm and results many times to take into account these simulation tools... but I think it is really worth considering that players will never get within a few THOUSAND dps of what SimC says. Saying we found a set of gear that can do 100 more DPS in a theoretical SimC output doesn't really mean a whole lot in that context. Even dropping the skill level of the sim from "elite" to "average" does more DPS than you would expect from even the most skilled player. Do any of you know how to adjust SimC to give more realistic results?

  19. No, unfortunately I do not. I've noticed that problem as well and tried not to let it make me feel inferior :-).

    One thing I did notice that I wonder about: your sims seem to be run using Drain Life as filler. Did you run any with Sbolts? Is DL just that much better?

  20. The reason I used drain life as a filler is because it does almost the same DPS as shadow bolt. Sims suggest drain life is very slightly higher, but close enough you can go by personal preference.

    My thinking is that if you can use drain life as a filler and not lose DPS, why *not* use it? Healing yourself for that much in raids has value which I would consider non-negligible.

    I am trying to think if using shadow bolt instead would impact the results... Does drain life get treated as a DoT? (Like Mind Flay for shadow priests.) If that were the case, I could see crit pulling ahead of mastery in the stat weights for shadow bolt filler. Other than that I can't think of much of a change between the two.

  21. Without SB as filler, you lose the Shadow and Flame debuff on the boss. In my ten man, I believe we use S&F. That's the only big difference I can think off right now.

  22. With the extension of S & F to 30 seconds I think that issue is somewhat lessened, but you make a good point.

    You will probably get a nightfall proc once every 30 seconds, right? Otherwise just toss out a SB once every 30 seconds - would that be a big DPS loss?

  23. No, if you can attend to that in addition to the stricter timing requirements of a DL rotation. Personally, I don't play well enough to get the timing out without worrying about S&F. Remember that you have to avoid DL clipping at all costs and keep everything else up. It is not a forgiving rotation.

    But yes, if you're skilled enough where you can do that and keep up S&F, then you'd probably fare better that way. In addition with the PTR changes and the way DL scales (see the Blood Pact post on WoW Insider), DL may become even more attractive as we gear up.

    For now, I'm in Sbolt land, but it may not always be that way.

  24. I understand. I went from playing a warlock to shadow priest, and thought I'd hate the channeled filler mechanic... once I got used to it and put on a decent cast bar mod like quartz, it really isn't as bad as I figured it would be. The game is pretty forgiving now on clipping that last tick.

    You know what I really miss, though? SB spec from BC. That was when I loved this game the most... I only needed one button to play. I looked so good at WoW.