Monday, December 8, 2014

Simcraft Is a Tool, Not a Farseer

Simulationcraft is an amazing tool when used properly, but a large number of people don't seem to understand that it's not an infallible truth. I love what you are able to use simcraft for - stat weights and other research - but the general playerbase tends to look at simcraft charts and, basically, lose their minds.

We've seen these simcraft results pop up every time there's a new raid tier or general class rebalance. Here's one of the more recent ones, they are just more or less bar graphs showing everyone's theoretical max DPS. They are put together with each dps class in the most possible similar standards - in a no adds, patchwerk type fight - and with various bars for the same class depending on variations of specs, like fury with either one-handers or two-handers.

Now, I'm not saying these are entirely irrelevant. There is a truth behind them, however the truth is by no means that your class is unusable and you should reroll immediately. The truth is not that you will never be competitive with your favorite class. The truth is not that horrible players of the best class will out dps you by rolling their face on the keyboard.

though they may still be competitive

Simulationcraft uses what we call theorycrafting, which is using math and computer wizard magic to closely calculate a pretty decent guess. The results we see are, mathematically and theoretically, accurate. It's only when we put these theories into reality that we see how wrong they can be.

Simcraft can, if you try using it yourself, account for huge amounts of different situations, even including player skill. You can tweak simcraft to show you what you'd probably be doing if you were about 80% effective, rather than 100%. You can sim yourself in a situation where there is heavy movement or during a cleave fight. You can use Simcraft on a personal level to give you some pretty helpful benchmarks and useful information about your abilities.

These widely advertised charts show 100% effectiveness, for a specific fight length, in a no movement situation. Even our "patchwerk" fight this tier - The Butcher - requires some light movement. It doesn't account for using utility, including playing key roles in the fight, or making decisions that could alter whether you defeat the boss or not, all which may lower your dps, but are far more important than that. Your value as a raider will never be outlined in these broad simcraft charts.

I don't even see this one on the chart

For the vast majority of players, these charts can be all but disregarded entirely. Not only due to the fact that the average skill of your own guild is a huge variable not accounted for in them, but because the moment they are released does not define the entirety of your remaining raiding career. We are already going to see class tweaks being done soon. While it's not impossible that a class may in fact be less powerful than another, I've been playing a class that hasn't seen the light at the top of these simcraft charts, and I've always been competitive.

I went from resto to balance during Sunwell, i.e. tier 6 during TBC. I had played balance before, but not in a raiding environment.

like back when we had talents like this

My guild at the time had asked for one of our druids to go balance for the utility raid buffs during our Brutallus progression. I didn't volunteer and I wouldn't have cared if it weren't for the fact that the druid who did go balance was unbearably awful. He was riding the tail end of the damage meters, barely justifying his raid spot, saying that balance was just too weak, no one should expect him to do better.

apparently this is a class you can play

It bothered me so much that I apologized for not volunteering sooner and had to convince a very large number of people to allow me to go balance instead. Eventually I got the spot and I proceeded to tear the place up.

Since then I've been wrecking raids as balance, through the ups and downs, mystifying people constantly by my ability to play my damn class. Only recently is balance even considered by people to be "playable" let alone "overpowered". During Mists, while I was consistently in the top 3 if not first in my progression guild, I would join pugs where people would legitimately try to mock me for playing such an irrelevant class, even while beating all of them. Describing how I was treated while doing challenge mode dungeons would require an entirely separate blog post.

coming soon!

I'm not trying to brag, even though I might be inadvertently, but what I'm trying to say is that the simcraft charts are not telling you how well you will be doing. If you want to play your class, play it. The experience and ability you have with a class may outshine others who would theoretically do better than you. If I put any value into these one dimensional charts, I would have swapped classes long ago.

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