HealerCalcs

I’ve included in various Warlords alpha posts the spreadsheet that I’ve been making to help with healer theorycraft.  It’s far enough along now that I put it on its own page (link under the site banner as well), along with a detailed description, so other people can take a closer look.  Let me know what you think!

Gaming Questionnaire

Jasyla has been doing a bunch of blogging about non-WoW games lately, and recently posted this questionnaire to get people talking about games.  I’ll take a little break from work and Warlords today to muse on my favorite games and talk about some of my background with them.

When did you start playing video games?
What is the first game you remember playing?

The first game I remember playing is Space Invaders on an old Texas Instruments-made computer.  So that’s technically when I started playing games, but what’s probably more meaningful is the Sega Master System I got soon after, which I started playing regularly.  The first game I played a lot on it was Missile Defense 3-D, a lightgun-based Missile Command remake which was in 3D.  As you probably wouldn’t expect for a console made in 1985, the SMS had a 3D feature that worked rather well (the glasses plugged into the zillionconsole and synchronized with alternating frames on the display).  So that was pretty cool.

Just to throw it out there, the SMS game I got into the most was Zillion, a pretty great 2-D combat/exploration game that was somewhat like Metroid.  I’ve gone back and beaten it later.

PC or Console?
XBox, PlayStation, or Wii?

I’ve always played games on both and don’t have strong feelings; in recent years it’s been mostly PC just because of WoW.  I haven’t bought recent-generation consoles because not I’m sure I’d play them enough, given how I don’t get to play games as much as I’d like.  I also have a strong tendency to play a small number of games a huge amount rather than play a bunch of different games, so consoles feel hard to justify.  This might be a bad decision if it cuts me off from finding console exclusives that would sweep me away.  That said, the games that did so came to PC anyway (XCOM: Enemy UnknownDark Souls).  Dark Souls is a notable example because it was PS3 exclusive, but became so famous that the clamor for a PC release caused a company with no PC experience to just release it anyway.

There’s no general answer to what console I would buy; it’s whatever one had an exclusive that gave me a desire to play which I couldn’t get out of my head.  Nintendo is probably the most likely, since I’ve always loved their games (their first-party ones in particular) and for the most part you can’t play them on PC.  If Zelda ever went back to its roots, there’s probably no way I could resist.

Oh wait, Zelda did go back to its roots with A Link Between Worlds, which was for 3DS, a system I have.  So there you go.

Continue reading

First Spell Tuning, continued

My previous two posts: suggestions for healer spell tuning from the last build, and comments on the changes that were visible in patch notes.

As noted in that comments post, the patch notes didn’t show the changes to coefficients or similar “numbers” changes, so we had to wait for today’s build and corresponding spell data (scroll down) to see the full picture.  Here are notes on those changes.  This will be abbreviated since it’s late for me; hopefully within a few days I’ll be looking in a detail on what I think further changes should look like.  If you haven’t read the last two posts I linked above, they’re probably good for context.  I might leave out some changes that I don’t have comments on off the top of my head.

Druid

Wild Growth heal and cost decreased by 15%.  Tricky spell to place correctly, but this is basically what I was thinking was needed so far. The burst throughput is not quite so huge, but the efficiency is unchanged.  Overall I’d like to see the mana cost come down slightly more–I think the HPM could be a bit higher, especially when thinking about how WG suffered more than most heals in the great de-smartening of heals. It is a HoT and will overheal quite a bit when targeted randomly.

That reminds me, I’d been meaning to try to make an argument, but hadn’t gotten around to it yet, that WG should go back to being (gasp) smart.  It might sound weird, but I think it makes sense for this spell more than most others.

Swiftmend mana cost reduced by 40%.  This helps a lot, and in particular, helps ameliorate any doubts I may have had about asking for SotF to be nerfed.  SM is finally an attractive cast without the help of talents, and making use of SotF is less expensive, making it easier to reasonably tune.  Will have to think about how to evaluate Rampant Growth now.

Noted in last post, Incarnation didn’t really change even though the mechanics changed.  Will have to give new SotF a little time to understand how its new tuning looks, but Incarnation is probably still too good.  There were some little changes to FoN in the build, but nothing to put in the same ballpark as SotF or Incarn.

Slight decrease to Healing Touch and increase to HotW.  Minor numbers tweaks to balance spells/talents, nothing exciting.

Summary: they agreed with a lot of my changes.  They didn’t make Rejuv slightly more efficient, but I was doubting that one anyway.  They can probably use it as a fine-tuning for Druid efficiency later on if needed.

Continue reading

First Spell Tuning Followup

Today’s patch notes showed the first signs of healer tuning fixes, so I’m going to make a quick post with my reactions (rather than dumping them onto twitter as I read).  Also, since my last post was meant to be a list of concise, actionable healer tuning items, it seems good to follow up now that there’s a round of changes.  However, I’m guessing we’ve only seen part of the changes, namely the changes that appear in patch notes, which usually doesn’t include bare coefficient or cost changes.  So I think we’ll only have the complete picture of this first tuning pass once there’s another around of spell data.  At that point, I might try making another list of changes after we see what things are like in the new build.

  • Soul of the Forest (Restoration) when casting Swiftmend, the Druid gains Soul of the Forest. Soul of the Forest reduces the cast time of the next Healing Touch by 50%, or increases the healing of the next Regrowth, or Rejuvenation, or Wild Growth by 100%, or increases the healing of the next Wild Growth by 50%.

Exactly what I suggested, so good.  I’m not totally sure about the right ultimate tuning of WG yet–in the post I said that the healing cost should both come down a little.  I’ll stick with that for now, with maybe the addition that the HPM could come up slightly in the process.

  • Incarnation: Tree of Life no longer enhances Lifebloom. Instead, it also enhances Rejuvenation, increasing its healing by 50%, and reducing its cost by 50%.

That’s pretty interesting.  Oddly, it has a small effect on Tree, since a 150% half-cost Rejuv is very similar to a Lifebloom overall (probably nicer due to having more even healing).  Tree is a still around as strong as it was; it’s just a little cleaner mechanically (works with things like Germination and Rampant Growth now, as well as Genesis).

Tree and SotF are still very strong.  It’s possible they’ll buff FoN by a huge amount and be done with it.  That would mean that even after tuning the class, the choice of L60 talent will be a very big component of performance.

That also reminds me, I do think Genesis needs a buff and I forgot to include it last time.

Continue reading

Healer Spell Tuning–Current Suggestions

I want to get into discussion of healer spell tuning, and there’s no reason to be blocked by how long it takes me to write up long-form blog posts with lots of explanation.  Instead I’m going to post a whole bunch of conclusions–i.e. what spells I think should go up or down, and see how they jive with what others expect.  That way they’re at least here to start discussion, and I can elaborate more as needed.  So tell me if any entries seem out of place, if you want to know why I think they need a buff or nerf, or just post your own comments on what spells should be numerically stronger or weaker and why.

I haven’t looked at every spell and talent in detail, but I’ve looked at a great majority of them.  I’m leaving out obvious bugs.

In general, factors I’m thinking about include:

  • HPM/HPCT metrics.  Whether a spell comports with the usual overarching tradeoff off efficiency vs. burstiness.  No strict formula.
  • How a spell fares against other options of that class. Does it need to be weaker or stronger to result in an internally balanced toolkit for the class.
  • Relatedly, whether a spell is solely responsible for too large of a component of the class’s performance.
  • How a spell fares against similar spells of other classes.  Spells in the same “category” don’t have to be strictly balanced across healers, but big outliers are a red flag.
  • How a talent fares against other talents in its row (even if the power level of the talent isn’t otherwise an issue for balance purposes).

This is generally based on theory and not on reported experience from raid tests.

Some helpful references might be my recent posts on healing theorycraft, as well as my big spreadsheet, current version found here (user-friendliness is making progress, but not ready to be published as a stand-alone tool).

Without further ado:

Druid

Significantly Nerf:

Slightly Nerf:

Slightly Buff:

Significantly Buff:

Druids have the potential for very strong throughput, but also have expensive spells.  This is a good foundation for a skill-intensive class, but it still might need to be flattened out just a little.  I don’t want to draw conclusions on overall strength until the huge throughput of SotF+WG or and huge efficiency of Incarnation are reined in.

Continue reading

Healing Theory, Part 10: Single-Target Rotations

All posts in this series can be found here.

As promised at the end of my last post on Warlords heals, the next step would be to analyze more complex rotations involving multiple spells. This post will go into single-target healing rotations for each class, building on the overview of individual spells I did previously. Single-target rotations are only one slice of the healing picture, but one of the more readily quantifiable ones, making them a good place to start. Also, the need to directly heal tanks is expected to be a much bigger part of Warlords than it was in Mists.

On Modeling Healing Rotations

One difficulty in expressing numerical results of combined healing spells, especially cross-class, is that healers don’t use “rotations” in the same way DPS do. They’re constantly reacting to the demands of the encounter and modulating output based on that. A model of a pure max-output rotation akin to DPS is slightly informative, but rather limited because that’s an unusual mode of casting. Since you spend nearly all your time somewhere in the middle of the sliding scale of mana usage vs. healing output, it’s hard to nail down exactly what numbers to measure or model. We can choose cases to model that are informative, but it takes more thought to motivate the decision of what those are. The assumptions also have to be made clear so people understand what the numbers represent.

The usual way I approach this is anticipated by earlier posts in this series, and should also be familiar to anyone who used my TreeCalcs sheet in Wrath/Cata/Mists (for this post, I actually put the heal chart from the prior post into the WrathCalcs/TreeCalcs shell). I assume a certain subset of spells are used whenever possible: on cooldown, whenever a HoT expires, or whenever procs/resources allow. All available cast time that’s left over is for “filler” or no-cooldown/spammable spells. In the case of the single-target model, the filler time is divided between a) the cheap direct heal, b) the expensive direct heal, and c) casting nothing. This flexibility in how to allocate the filler time is needed for two important purposes:

  • One class filling all time with its cheap heal (for example) may not be parallel to another class filling with its cheap heal. The first class might do less healing but also use less mana in that comparison, but then equal the other class in both healing and mana consumption if it mixed in the expensive heal some. Every class has a different mana vs. healing profile, and being able to adjust spell usage allows more sensible comparisons.
  • It provides a basis for evaluating mana. As discussed extensively in the post on mana, mana usage affects your use of non-cooldown heals much more than it affects your use of cooldown-bearing heals. In a more concrete framework like a rotation model, you can evaluate exactly what mana lets you do by varying the spell usage correspondingly. The conceptual chart in the final section of that post, describing healing done as a function of mana, will be revisited in this post.

This is of course idealized, as is unavoidable when theorycrafting healing, but it’s useful in a lot of ways. In particular, while in various low-healing situations you might use spells more in isolation and not nonstop like in a rotation model, we already have HPCT and HPM info on individual spells. Those can be looked up anytime on the spell chart form the last post. Models of rotations let us find out more about what happens when cooldowns and cast time become a limiting factor in how much healing you can do.

I’ve not yet modeled every talent and glyph combination for every class, but I’ve tried to include the ones that were especially relevant to the current analysis.

Continue reading

Theorycraft 101: The Statistics of WoW Spells

I’ve been doing a lot of in-game testing of spells lately, as a part of making spreadsheets and other projects. In particular, with the new beta, I’m more inclined to vet the info for any spell I look at by measuring in-game, rather than simply putting the coefficient from wod.wowhead into a spreadsheet, because:

  • The designers are changing spells a lot, and tooltips are out of date much more often than on live.
  • The passives, talents, and Draenor Perks aren’t all familiar, and you have make sure you know what all needs to be multiplied in between the coefficient in the data and the final damage amount.
  • There are frequent bugs on beta, and actually testing means you can help catch/report them.

There are a lot of various techniques and tricks you get used to for doing this stuff quickly, but I wanted to dash off a quick post on one that both saves work and is mathematically interesting.  It looks like Theck is starting a series on general concepts of theorycrafting, and while I don’t expect to do anything that elaborate, I do want to write down ideas that are familiar to me but might be helpful to people who are just getting into it.

Continue reading

Healing Theory, Part 9: First In-Depth Look at Warlords Heals

All posts in this series can be found here.

I’ve been waiting since alpha started to sink my teeth into the numbers of six new healing toolkits. Rather, I’ve been doing so for a while, but trying to get the information to the point where I can write about it in an organized way. I’ve been assembling a large spreadsheet of 6.0 heals since even before alpha started (since we had spell data). It’s mostly for my own purposes, to have a good reference for the properties of all the spells. I’ll post it here for people who want the full detailed background, while using the post to discuss various interesting points. The goal for this, and ensuing posts, is to work both for people who don’t peruse the actual sheet and just read the post (so I copy various numbers and such into the post), and also for people who want to look further into the sheet after I use a post to highlight some interesting points.

This is the sheet (download).

HT sheet image

It’s more utilitarian than user-friendly; as I said, it’s mostly an easy place for me to store/compare numbers (it’s not a character setup tool). The main focus for each heal is to compute an index for their HPM and HPCT (healing per unit cast time). In some cases, for non-spammable heals, HPCD (healing per cooldown time) is used to measure how much healing is added if the spell is used as often as possible. Some notes:

  • All of these are in unusual units, which is fine since they’re only meant to be compared against each other. For people who want details, HPCT and HPCD are in units of (spellpower coefficient)/seconds, and HPM is in units of (spellpower coefficient)/(% base mana cost).
  • All heals use the haste, crit, mastery, and multistrike values from the top of the sheet (Multistrike affects all spells equally so is not that interesting, except that Holy Priest heals get 25% more benefit).
  • Mastery is also in unusual units. “0.2″ means, the amount of mastery stat that’s equivalent to 20% crit, or what was once called “20 points of mastery.”
  • The main computation in each row is to combine a spell’s spellpower coefficient from wod.wowhead.com with haste/crit/mastery/MS, any class passives or other auras, and any Draenor perks or other bonuses, to compute an overall effective spellpower coefficient.
  • I make assumptions as needed about talents, glyphs, and other variables. Usually the guideline is, a spell’s row in the sheet represents whatever case I was most interested in when thinking about how it would be used in practice.
  • Similarly, sometimes a spell has multiple entries if I want to see e.g. both glyphed and unglyphed, or if I want to see a combination of spells in a single row.
  • Blanket disclaimer: the beta build is changing often, changes aren’t always documented, some spells’ behaviors don’t match their tooltip data, and so on. I got some help from Dayani of Healiocentric, and we vetted all of the rows against in-game behavior in beta builds 18505 or 18522 (often with the techniques described here), and are continually updating them.

On to some of the interesting patterns. Continue reading

Healing Theory, Part 8: Three 6.0 Topics

Previous posts in this series can be found here

This is an interim update covering a few loosely related topics about 6.0. Not exactly a normal post in this series that analyzes some point of theory in detail, but I wanted to catch up on a few issues, and I figured most of the same people who read this series will be interested in this.

6.0 Regen Math

Now that I’ve gotten to play the alpha some, I have some more concrete numbers on regen in 6.0.

As a reminder, regen currently (5.0) consists of base regen and spirit regen.  Base regen is an amount of MP5 equal to 2% of your max mana (6000 MP5 currently). Spirit regen is 0.564 MP5 per Spirit, in combat.

Spirit Regen

Two important things are happening to Spirit in 6.0:

  • Each point of Spirit is worth substantially more MP5 (2.061 MP5 in combat). This increase is even more dramatic when you consider that mana pools will be smaller by factor of around 2. Adjusted for this deflation, the real value of Spirit (proportional to the size of your mana bar) is about 6.85 times stronger in 6.0 than it is in 5.0.
  • You will have much less Spirit, even after controlling for the item squish. This is because you will only have it on a few slots: rings, necks, cloaks, and possibly trinkets.

The end result is that these two effects, roughly speaking, cancel each other out. The amount of regen you get from Spirit, controlling for the changed size of your mana bar, will be in the same ballpark as it is now (i.e. at a comparable gear level, your mana bar will “look” like it refills at around the same rate).

Continue reading