Theorycraft 101: How to Compute Uptime of a Proc-based Buff

Update: There is now a continuation of this post here, which gets into some more detail and trickier topics.

About a year ago I did a few posts in a series I called “Theorycraft 101”.  The basic point is to have post outlining basic computations/formulas I use in making spreadsheets and like, so other people who do these things don’t have to reinvent the wheel.  I think there’s often not a lot of communication across classes on these things, so I want to make non class-specific references for things that come up a lot.

For reference, here are the past ones:

 

Today’s Topic: Proc Uptime

Blizzard recently posted a description of a new system for procs, used for Windsong and presumably other similar new enchants.  We’re going get to the details of the new Windsong at the end.  For now, some short background.

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Why More Spirit is not the Answer to your Healing Problems

[4/8/13: Six months later and I see this post getting quite a lot of attention on various forums. While I’m glad of that, I do want to make sure people finding their way to it just now also see the follow-up posts in the Healing Theory sequence. The first is here, and the third is particularly relevant to this discussion. Those posts are further developments of the ideas that first came to me while writing this one. While I still stand by the main ideas of this post, it was more of a reaction to certain discussions at the launch of the expansion, whereas the later sequence is meant to be a more general exploration of healing principles and conclusions. ~H]

When I recently made a post on EJ about how healers are, as they always do at the beginning of an expansion, overly obsessing about Spirit, the first reply I got explained it in the most simple and accurate way possible: “Fundamentally I’m pretty sure most healers are very, very bad theorycrafters. There’s always been a lot of magical thinking, faulty logic and poor contextual analysis.”

Based on my experiences theorycrafting and writing for a healing class for a few years now, I can’t deny that in any fashion.  When I quoted it on twitter someone told me, “you don’t have to be a theorycrafter to be a good healer.”  Well, that’s partially true.  You don’t have to be an “active” theorycrafter to be good at any class.  You don’t have to be the one making the spreadsheet–after all, there’s only one of him.  But you have to have enough of an understanding of the numbers underlying the class to interpret what that person tells you and reflect it in your play.  This is well-accepted for DPS, but for healing, people have difficulty thinking the same way.  Just because your task varies more with context, you’re not going to be a good player by just going and doing whatever you feel like without regard to the same kinds of tools.

Mana Regen

I’m just going to pick out one piece of it today, one that arises regularly at the beginning of each expansion.  Everyone goes nuts for more mana regen.  Picking Spirit items and gemming Spirit is one thing, but talk about using Spirit flasks and Spirit food is very common.  In fact in most communities the common wisdom is that that makes more sense than using Int food/flasks.  Now, for the spoiler version: that’s wrong.  Use Int food and flasks.  But you can read below for more on both the right and wrong thought processes here.

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Stop Cooking That Food

If you are looking to improve your character for Mists of Pandaria raids, going out and getting a stack of +300 food is generally not where to start. Yet in these early few weeks of the expansion, there is an irrational emphasis on cooking. Spending hours to acquire an extra +25 of a stat is the weakest way you can enhance your character–and it also takes the most amount of time. It’s the wrong set of priorities. However, players should be rewarded for choosing to farm top-end consumables, which I’ll address too.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t cook this food under any circumstance, but to put it in perspective–have you done the following?

  • Run enough random dungeons to get a significant amount of VP?
  • Run specific dungeons to get all possible ilvl 463 drops?
  • PvPed to fill in any unlucky drops/well-itemized armor?
  • Done daily quests to unlock epic rewards at Honored and make a dent towards Revered?
  • Gotten top gems, enchants, potions, flasks etc?
  • Poured gold for a Darkmoon Faire deck/BMAH epic?
  • Poured more gold into any other 476 BoE?
  • Read up on a boss fight, since you didn’t get to test them out since they were open on beta when you were at work?
  • Sit at a target dummy for an hour practicing your new rotation?

If so (and you have the time leftover), grats! Farming up those +300 foods is now your next priority. If you haven’t, doing any of these things on the list will increase your output more so than cooking. (A point could be made that Pandaren get +50 from top-level food instead of +25, but that’s still less than the overall benefit of buying a 476 BoE that would at least last until LFR.)

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