Saturday, November 17, 2012

Conflicts Due to Conflicting

The title seems rather weird, I imagine.  But hopefully it will make sense eventually.

The state of the WoW community (or lack thereof) is a frequent topic of discussion.  Stubborn of Sheep the Diamond recently made a post about trying to get people to find common ground in the concept of honoring the game itself.  The example given was a DPS who was just auto-attacking and simply not putting forth any effort in a dungeon (and how that makes the experience worse).

However, to properly talk about this subject, I think we need to distinguish between, for lack of better terms, regular jerks and situational jerks.  By that I mean there are some people who are always jerks, who leech, need on everything, troll, and generally abuse others as much as they can no matter the situation (regular jerks).  But others may generally be well behaved except when put in certain situations (situational jerks).  My goal here is not to excuse the situational jerks, but to understand why they may act the way they do in an effort to figure out a way to improve the situation.

Specifically, I'd like to talk about people who are regularly raiding heroic modes who do dungeons for valor (note: not all of these people are situational jerks, but some of them are).

But before we do that, let's analyze some main reasons for doing dungeons:

1. Seeing the dungeon (new stuff is cool the first few times)
2. Group content experience (people often like participating in groups)
3. Loot from the dungeon
4. Achievements
5. Valor

These reasons are not exclusive, in fact the more that apply to a person, the better they're likely to behave in a group.  Because they *want* to be in the dungeon.  It is probably fun or at least feels rewarding.  Let's break these traits down:

1, if you're new to the dungeon, you're excited about new stuff and figuring things out.  Whether you wipe or how long you take probably doesn't matter very much to you.  Because either way, you're doing a new or relatively new dungeon (how cool is that)?

2, if you're there because you like doing stuff in groups, you again probably don't care too much about what actually happens, you're there because you like group content.

3, if you're there for loot, wipes or delays don't affect what the bosses drop, so it's not a huge deal.  Especially since you only get one shot per day in most cases with specific queues (unless you get lucky with a random queue).

4, if you're there to try to do an achievement, you probably want to work with the group and get them to do whatever the achievement is.  Again, one shot per day with specific queues (this group is probably the rarest).

5, if you're there for valor, then anything that slows down the run lowers your valor per hour.

So let's go back to our serious raiders who only care about valor.

1, they've seen the dungeon probably at least a dozen times
2, they get their group content fix in a raid with people they know
3, they don't need the loot from the dungeon
4, they don't want to do achievements (they already have them or don't care about them)
5, they only care about valor/hour.

In short, this is exactly the type of person we DON'T want in the dungeon.  What they want (fast valor) directly conflicts with what several other people might want (exploring and seeing stuff, achievements) and they are probably indifferent to others (group content experience, loot).  In and of itself, we can already see that this is a problematic person to have in a group.

But it gets worse.

Especially with the new expansion, raiders had (just roll with the idea that they did indeed *have* to do these things, I'll have another post discussing that concept soon.  If it makes you feel better, assume I said "raiders felt like they had to" because the differentiation doesn't really matter in this case) to cap conquest each week for 483 items, spam heroics to get 463s, do likely 30+ dailies each day, and valor cap each week.  That's a lot to do in a short amount of time, and there are many raiders who are resentful due to this being a drastic change from Cataclysm where they just could raid each week and maybe do a few dungeons for valor cap.

It's worth noting that I am *not* talking about the people who whine about dailies yet are still honored with Golden Lotus and haven't killed a raid boss or something.  I'm discussing the people who invested the several hours per day on top of additional hours raiding and likely feel burnt out and frustrated.

And now this crowd is feeling like dungeons are their best source of valor (since they're probably done with dailies and raiding only gives 400 valor with all 16 bosses dead).  Worse, doing dungeons for valor seems like monotonous, tedious, terrible busy work.

So we have a group of people who are burned out and frustrated with "chores" thrown into a dungeon where they only care about getting done quickly with people who are most likely far less capable and who have different goals.  Where they constantly see others who are terrible or not trying (as in, doing 15k DPS on tank and spankish fights or dying to stuff like Rattlegore's Bone Spikes) and these things worsen the sole reason the raiders are in the dungeons: valor per hour.

That just sounds like a massive powder keg to me that Blizzard has set up here.

Is it any wonder that some of them will be annoyed when things aren't constantly pulled?

Is it any wonder that some of them will say "screw it, if these people aren't trying I'll just auto-attack?"

Is it any wonder that some of them will insult and be rude to others?

Should these things happen?  Of course not.

But do they happen?  It's human nature.  They're mad at the other players and they're mad at Blizzard for setting things up the way Blizzard did.  Especially when they feel like Blizzard is expecting them to carry others.

So, back to Stubborn's idea of "Man, you need to honor the game."  For this group of people that I'm talking about, I doubt you'll accomplish anything.  Either they're already grinning and bearing it and honoring the game or they're at the point where all they want to do is give the game the middle finger for making them do this stuff instead of only worrying about raiding.

Again, I'm not claiming every heroic raider in a dungeon acts this way (see above about many of them just grinning and bearing it) or excusing those who do.  Just offering some perspective on why it might be happening.

This, then, is the basis of the title.  Some of the conflicts in dungeons (and also LFR) are due to people being there for very different and often conflicting goals with very conflicting capability.  And with the valor upgrade system coming and every serious raider having to continue to cap each week, it seems this problem may only get worse.  You have this whole segment of the population who thinks "Great, let's get this over with" upon starting a heroic, and that's not conducive to a good social experience (note: that feeling applies to more than just heroic raiders, but I'm trying to keep my scope limited).

I think easily 90% of heroic raiders entering these heroic dungeons have, at best, that "let's get this over with" attitude. But when you start with this attitude (or worse), it's easy to cross to the point of not caring at all. Unfortunately, it's fairly common to find people doing 15k DPS on tank and spank fights when they should be doing double that at a minimum (even when starting heroics). And when you see that, it's very easy to adapt the mentality of "screw it, I'll just auto-attack and alt tab to watch Youtube or browse forums or whatever." They feel like "well, if others don't give a damn, why should I?"

And they'd prefer to spend 20 minutes in a dungeon with 10 of them alt-tabbed instead of 15 minutes in a dungeon actually trying. It's a lot less effort on their part and they would actually feel better about the 15k people, since they don't feel like they're carrying people who don't try.

Is it hypocritical? Yes.

Does it hurt the community and dishearten anyone in the group who is trying? Yes.

But people are happy to cut off their nose to spite their face. They're fine with a longer run if they don't feel like they're being taken advantage of (despite the fact it means they're taking advantage of others).

Perhaps the sad thing is that the easiest way to solve this particular problem is to make it so heroic raiders don't feel obliged to ever run dungeons for valor.  It won't fix jerks from other groups within the game, but it'll remove one source and probably make the entire group much happier.

Hit is Actually Your Worst Stat

At least when you're deciding which gear to use.  The gist of this article is that when you're looking at gear, most sources will claim that gear with Hit (or Expertise) on it is far better than it actually is.

Note: the following is written with casters in mind, though the same logic applies to expertise.

If you're casual about the game, you've probably seen something that looks similar to this:

Intellect > Hit > Haste >  Crit > Mastery

The primary stat and order of the secondary stats may differ, of course.  If you're a bit more worried about the numbers, you may have seen something like

Intellect: 1.00
Hit: 0.70
Haste: 0.50
Crit: 0.40
Mastery: 30

 or even

Intellect: 3.4
Hit: 2.38
Haste: 1.7
Crit: 1.36
Mastery: 1.02

All three of these formats are guides to what stats your spec desires to perform optimally.  This sort of thing appears on the WoW class forums, Elitist Jerks, sites like AskMrRobot/Icy Veins/Noxxic, and more.

And they're all lies.

Well, that's a bit of hyperbole.  It would be more accurate to say that if you use these stat values, you'll probably pick inferior gear and perform worse.  Let's do some math:

To understand why this is so, imagine you have a choice between two items that are identical besides the type of secondary stats (and we'll use the values from the second guide, the one where intellect equals 1):

Item 1 has 100 hit and 100 mastery

Item 2 has 100 haste and 100 crit

The question I pose to you is, which item should you prefer?


Okay, have your answer?

You probably picked item 1 (and if you didn't, kudos to you).  The easy math is to do the following:

100 * 0.7 (hit value) + 100 * 0.3 (mastery value) = 100 intellect for item 1

100 * 0.5 (haste value) + 100 * 0.4 (crit value) = 90 intellect for item 2

Item 1 is clearly the equivalent of 10 intellect better, right?  Well...not quite.  To understand the problem, let's look at a full gear set made up items with the stats of item 1 and item 2 respectively.

Set 1 has 35% hit and 35% mastery.

Set 2 has 35% haste and 35% crit.

Hopefully you already see an issue: we have way too much hit in set 1 that's completely useless.  So let's do some reforging for both sets.

Set 1 has 21% hit, 14% haste, and 35% mastery

Set 2 has 35% haste, 21% crit, and 14% hit

Let's do our math again for the overall value of these stats:

15 * 0.7 (hit value) + 14 * 0.5 (haste value) + 35 * 0.3 (mastery value) = 28 total value for set 1

35 * 0.5 (haste value) + 21 * 0.4 (crit value) * 14 * 0.7 (hit value) = 35.7 total value for set 2

Whoa.  Set 2 is 27.5% better than set 1 in terms of secondary stats.  But why is that?  We followed what Simcraft and all of these sites said.

The answer, in a nutshell, is that any hit over the cap has a value of 0.  That's obvious, you say.  What perhaps isn't as obvious is that as a result hit is only as valuable as the stats you have to reforge away to get the hit.  It's a matter of opportunity cost, a concept in economics.

Because there is a limit to how much hit you need, the value of hit is that of the stats you trade for the hit.  Another example to illustrate the idea.  You have three items and need to chose a trinket (which gives you four items total).

Items 1 and 2 have 15% haste and 15% mastery.  Item 3 has 7.5% haste and 7.5% mastery.

For item 4, should you take a trinket with 15% haste or 15% hit?  You aren't hit capped (in fact you don't have any hit), so 15% hit seems like the obvious choice.

Okay, let's run the math...

37.5 * 0.5 (haste value) + 37.5 * 0.3 (mastery value) + 15 * 0.7 (hit value) = 40.5 total

But what if we reforge away the mastery to hit on the items and take the haste trinket?

52.5% * 0.5 (haste value) + 22.5 * 0.3 (mastery value) + 15 * 0.7 (hit value) = 43.5 total

Huh.  Even with not wasting any hit in either case, the haste trinket option is nearly 10% better.  If you look at the math, you notice that if we take the hit trinket, we effectively lose 15% haste to keep 15% mastery.  Which is clearly a bad trade since haste is better than mastery in our example.

In short, the value of hit (normally 0.7) in that last example is actually 0.3, since we're giving up mastery for it.

Hopefully you're convinced by now that this logic is right (don't be the guy in the image).  But what does it actually mean in practical terms?

Well, at the beginning of an expansion, it's unlikely you'll have enough of your worst stat (out of haste/crit/mastery) to reforge away to hit.  And even if you could, you'd avoid items with that worst stat on them anyway when possible (if mastery is your worst stat, clearly a haste/crit item is superior to a haste/mastery item).  So in general, when trying to figure out the overall power of an item, use the *worst* of those secondary stats as the value of hit.

With the stat values we've been using, that means we'd value hit at 0.3 (the value of mastery).  Which, lo and behold, would lead us to choosing that haste trinket over the hit trinket.  In short, unless you severely lack hit, you want to be reforging to hit as much as possible and avoiding items with hit as possible.  In particular, trinkets with hit (such as the Flashfrozen Resin Globule) are actually terrible unless you cannot reach the hit cap without it.

But perhaps you're not comfortable trying to do all these numbers and adjustments yourself.  I have good news!  Some places with gear lists (such as AskMrRobot) let you enter in your own custom stat weights.  So instead of accepting the default

Intellect: 1.00
Hit: 0.70
Haste: 0.5
Crit: 0.4
Mastery: 0.3

swap it to

Intellect: 1.00
Hit: 0.40
Haste: 0.5
Crit: 0.4
Mastery: 0.3

The only difference is you adjust the value of hit.


If you do this and check item item upgrades (AskMrRobot actually works very well for this), you'll have a much more accurate upgrade list when trying to figure out which items are optimal to use.

Happy DPSing!

That Dreaded First Post

I think this is the part where I'm supposed to discuss why I got into blogging and what this blog is about.

Unfortunately, there are several topics which I'd prefer to write about first and which I feel are a more pressing concern, so if you're passionately curious you'll just have to wait until I have the time to come back and edit this.  But don't worry, I'll let you know when this gets updated (and please bear with me in the meantime as I figure this whole thing out).

In general, though, I've played a shadow priest in World of Warcraft for roughly the past six years (and have been playing since about a month after release overall), though I had a two year hiatus from WoW during that time period.  I raided 25 mans in BC up to about halfway through Sunwell and currently lead <Despotism> (, a two night a week 10 man heroic raiding guild.

Pretty much anything is fair game on this blog, though typical topics will be shadow priests, raiding, things happening in WoW, game design philosophy, and possibly random stuff about a few other games.

Any tips/suggestions are welcome as are any ideas for topics you'd like to see discussed.