Quick Notes on Using the Wrong Gems

This was prompted by two recent conversations I had–first, the one surrounding this tweet, and second, someone telling me about a guildmate of theirs complaining about a different guildmate who was using bad gems for their class.

So, the odd thing about someone using completely wrong gems (or some comparable character setup choice) is that it doesn’t matter, on its face.  Gems (especially now) are such a tiny fraction of your overall character strength, and the difference between two secondary stats is such a small fraction of that, that you’re pretty hard-pressed to conclude that someone using the wrong gems has any effect on anything whatsoever.  Maybe in some unusually strong cases, that 1 person out of the 20 in your raid will have a 1% shortfall in their output?  Even that much is probably rather rare.

Basically, if you imagine that you couldn’t inspect people’s character sheets or stats directly, I’d posit that there’s no experiment you could conduct that would reveal to you whether the people in the raid had optimal gems or slightly suboptimal gems.

So why do they matter?  I’ve always only thought there was one reason, and this is including all the way back when I was in a very serious high-level guild and would review applicants.  It’s a way of showing that you’ve researched your class.  That is something you want to know about an applicant or raid member, and is kind of hard to find out directly.

It’s a little tricky because they don’t necessarily need to be able to know the theorycraft rationale for why that stat is preferred.  Just like the gems themselves aren’t the actual point of interest, being able to do/understand a lot of math isn’t the right criterion either.  It’s entirely possible for someone to understand the spellcasting decisions, which is the actual important issue, without articulating the theory.  But I think what it comes down is, there’s really no way to develop an good practical understanding of the class that won’t, somewhere along the way, involve the information about what stats are best.

Practically speaking, the only way to get solid information on the best play of a class is by reading resources written by others who used some kind of mathematical tool.  And those always include information on stats (conceivably they might not include that topic, but that would be rather odd).  The only exception is if you’re the person making the tool, in which case you of course can work out the stats for yourself as well.  If you’ve gotten all of your class understanding from sources (including “play experience alone”) that don’t contain stat information, then you must not have looked at things which are rigorous.  And that actually is something worth selecting for in applicants and guildmates.

So gems turn out to be good signal.  It’s not very discriminating, sure.  Someone might be using the right ones just by some whim, or by following their Attunement (which is often right), or from seeing other players do it.  But I’m of course not saying you should conclude that anyone with the right gems will be a great person to play with (wouldn’t be nice if that worked).  I am saying that using wrong ones all but rules out that the person has used any meaningful resources in learning to play their class.  And that is very likely to have more than a 1% effect on their performance.

Quick Notes on Menagerie Pet XP Farming

Today is the Grubbles/Scrags/Stings daily at the Menagerie.  It’s one of the ones that’s suitable for farming rapidly for XP (although not quite as well-known for this as the Jahan daily).  I figured I’d use the chance to mention a few thoughts on Pet Battles.

I captured a short video to make clear what I’m talking about.  This is two repetitions of the fight, with a carry pet, in 2.5 minutes.  It gets the carry pet (Frostwolf Pup) from level 1-12, although it would go considerably faster if I had both levels of Pet Treat on in addition to the Safari Hat.  With those it’s 4 battles to level up to around 22 (at which point it’s easier to get the last few with Training Stones).  So you can grind this as much as you want on the appropriate days, powerleveling as much as 1 pet every 5 minutes.

The basic question is whether or not this should be prevented, but that question brings up a few interesting points about how the Pet Battle system as changed since its introduction.

Levels, Rarities, and Breeds

I see Pet Battles as possibly exceeding anyone’s expectations as far as how rich they wound up being.  As of now, the gameplay inherent in the massive number of pets alone (and their complex combat interactions) would be a great game, even if there were no levels, rarities, or breeds.  I know why those things are needed to some extent (rarities give some excitement to wild pets, levels so that initial progression exists).  But it’s worth pointing out that most pet battling among enthusiasts is all max level and among rares (both PvP and PvE), so these mechanics don’t play much part, and it has no shortage of good complexity.

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Healing Discussion Podcast #7

With the arrival of the first 6.1 patch notes today, we did an impromptu show where we read through them together and discussed points of interest to healers.

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The whole show is us discussing patch note items. It generally goes in the order things are written in the notes.
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Healing Discussion Podcast #6

After a few more weeks of raiding, challenge modes, and hotfix and patch notes to discusses, we get together for another chat about healer goings-on.

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0:00 Intro & catching up (My recent post we mentioned, as well as the videos I’ve been working on)
3:15 Healer Balance, with bonus digression on Ko’ragh mechanics
7:30 Patch 6.1 Notes, Mana Tea, and making healers want mana
20:15 Recent Hotfix: How do you solve a problem like PW:S?
41:30 Recent Hotfix: Haste buff and implications for healers
52:30 Challenge Mode healing thoughts
1:11:00 Outro & good night

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Resto Druids: Haste vs. Mastery

With all the various things I focus on lately, one thing I haven’t been doing often enough is giving play advice and analysis of my favorite class, Resto Druids.  Today I want to give a detailed discussion of one of the topics that has gotten a lot of attention lately–whether our most favored stat should be haste or mastery.  In my Resto Guide I say haste, but don’t have the opportunity in that format to explain the recommendation in detail.  Here, my goal is to work through the question very thoroughly, answer your questions, and see if I can help get you comfortable with a stat decision for this expansion.

The Stats

Mastery increases the bonus from Harmony by 1% per 88 rating.  It is additive with a flat bonus of 16.25% from the baseline effect and raid buff.  Measured against a starting point of having no mastery from gear, each relative 1% increase requires 102.3 mastery rating.  So long as the buff is maintained, it improves all healing other than the Lifebloom bloom, Ysera’s Gift, and Dream of Cenarius.

Haste has two effects.  First, it increases the tick frequency and therefore the total healing per cast (I described the mechanics details here) of any HoT effect by 1% for every 90 points (as of this week).  With Resto’s attunement taken into account, this is 1% every 85.7 points (haste rating is not additive with anything).  Second, it reduces the time it takes to cast all spells by the same amount.

Breaking Down Haste

Because so much of Resto’s healing is in the form of HoTs, haste, above and beyond its cast time and GCD reduction, directly adds healing done to many of our spells.  For most other healers this is a feature generally reserved to non-haste stats, which contributes to my low view of haste for other healers.  For Druids, most heals go against the general rule and increase their output with haste like they do with other stats.  This includes Rejuvenation (except for initial tick), Wild Growth, Lifebloom (except the bloom) and Wild Mushroom.  It also includes a few rarer spells, Force of Nature and Dream of Cenarius, which are essentially throughput increases since they get cast time reductions with no related mana cost.

The important heal effects which are not improved by haste beyond the reduction to cast time are Tranquility, Swiftmend, Healing Touch, and Regrowth.

The basic analysis of haste in this post will be done by keeping the two components separate throughout, and remembering that haste is as strong as their sum:

  • The cast-time reduction, which applies to all spells, but does not improve healing per cast.  Therefore, it increases HPCT (healing per unit cast time), but not HPM (healing per mana), of all spells, by an amount equal to the haste percentage.  Because some spells have cooldowns and some don’t, it only increases the cast frequency of certain spells.
  • The value of added healing on certain spells, which increases HPCT and HPM to those spells and does nothing for the others.

The result is a complex mosaic of effects, unlike Mastery’s totally uniform HPCT and HPM increase to nearly all spells.  Some spells have their healing per cast increased and not the rate at which you cast them (Wild Growth), so the effect is parallel and easily comparable to mastery.  Some spells don’t have any healing per cast, HPM, or frequency increased at all (Nature’s Swiftness-HT).  And on the flip side, some get an HPM increase as well as a double-dipped HPCT increase (Rejuvenation).  So there’s no simple comparison; it will largely come down to the frequency with which you use the various types of spells.

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Healing Discussion Podcast #5

Coming back after the holidays to catch up on a variety of topics.  Enjoy!

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0:00 Intro & welcome back
1:45 Revisiting Warlords and Spirit scaling (recent post)  (a few other posts that relate to this)
12:30 Raid CDs, how they’re different in Warlords vs MoP, and how to use them (Dayani’s recent post)
41:30 Healer Raid Spots in Warlords
55:10 Biweekly update on annoying things about Disc Priests (Glyph of Reflective Shield)
58:00 Wild Growth breakpointing (post explaining partial ticks)

1:02:45 Consumables: Draenic Channeled Mana Potion vs. Draenic Mana Potion; Healing Tonic vs. Shieldtronic Shield*; (Dayani’s referenced tweets about mana in M Butcher)
1:20:10 Outro & Happy New Year!

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*We said that Shield is about half the size of Healing Tonic; it’s actually 3/4 the size. The argument/discussion doesn’t change, but it’s less of a dramatic difference.