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An ex-raid leader, gamer extraordinaire.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Optimization and You

Gevlon, a funny little anti-social Goblin (And a must read for a variety of subjects and his philosophical points of view, especially AH whoring) has expanded his views on The Myth of the Gear.

He and his guild cleared Ulduar 10 in iLevel 200 blues, and made a little progress in ICC 10. If this should tell anything, it should tell that for a random guild in random epics that haven't downed ICC 25 yet, that it's more of a matter of tactic than anything else.

Should we deduct that gear is not required at all to do raids / that epic gems are useless? That we shouldn't bother to gem everything with epic gems, or not buy out crafted gear on patch days?

Absolutely not.

Gevlon has said that iLevel 200 gear is sufficient to clear most of the game's contents, and thus on a binary stand point, higher gear level is not only unnecessary, but is a waste (of time and gold). There are two problems with this statement:
  • Gear decreases the learning curve and brings progress faster. In any serious progress guilds, not whether but when you've made the kill is what matters. Case in point: ICC. Did you clear it without the zone buffs? Are you still struggling with %20 buffs?
  • Gelvon's party, to my knowledge, hasn't done any hardmodes (yet). I could only imagine the punishment a blue tank would get from any hardmodes.
Case in point, here is their Damage Meter on XT. Let's see if it can pull off an heartbreaker.

In Heartbreaker, heart is exposed for 20 seconds, has 1.5M health, and takes double damage. For simplicity's sake, let's say that the heart has 750k health instead of 1.5m and takes normal damage. You need 37.5k DPS to bring down the Heart.

And Gevlon's party's barely pulling 20k dps.

So they need to almost double their damage output. 6k dps in blues? Even when you're pulling out all Trinkets and Bloodlust and such, it's just not possible (And let this be a challenge for Gevlon to do either Heartbreaker or well, any other hardmodes. Note on this challenge: Only 4 Towers for FL and 3 Trees are considered 'hard' mode.)

Leaving the trolling behind, we deduct that you do need gear, after all. And Heartbreaker is but one of the easiest Hardmodes, with a very easy DPS requirement. Most other hardmodes combine battle for survival with DPS race. Thus, you need to optimize.

There are two kinds of people I despise when we're progressing:
  • Mr. I'm Good Enough: I'm not talking about a full blue warrior with all of his gear enchanted and gemmed and sitting at 23k Health, Defense cap being ready for Naxxramas or not. I'm talking about the guy with same stats but in iLevel 232 gear for ICC 5 men, with no enchants or gems. I will always take the former than the latter to my raids.
The problem with this guy is he sets himself a qualitative limit. Optimization is not qualitative. Sure, last raid's BiS gear and BiS food/buffs are the most optimized, but it's still not a case of 1s and 0s. You do not optimize for being ready to an instance: You optimize to save down the time spent wiping.
  • Mr. I'm Better than Him: You know these people. These are the Frost Mages, Subtlety Rogues, Arms Warriors, whatever spec of Hunter that sucks nowadays. They point out they're doing better dps than their Fire/Mutilate/Fury/Whatever counterparts in the raid. This only means that the raid has not only one, but two slackers to get rid of! 
The problem with this guy is he's doing less damage on purpose. It's like trying to hang a painting on the wall with a nerf hammer. Sure, you can nail that wall with a nerf hammer. It would just take several generations of people, coordinately taking turns to hit the nail harder. We're trying to cut down on the time (Remember Gevlon: Time is Money!), not much else.

Why is it such a bad thing? Because I've explained before how DPS helps increase the progress cushion for your guild. For each of the %10 wipes you've had, the blame's on your Frost Mages and Subtlety Rogues.

Optimization is an attitude you bring to your raid. Take a loot at someone freshly dinged, with reputation gear, enchants, gems, some BoE epics, and some welfare faceroller. Even if the former has less of a gear-power than the latter, he's more dedicated to achieve a high-end result. 
  • He's done everything he can with his gear. 
  • Odds are, the blue guy spent more time in Wowhead and various forums to get a good pre-raid gear.
  • He also took time to learn a rotation because god damn it man, he spent 2k gold on epic gems in blue gear. 
This guy surely means business, and will make sure any and all piece of gear will be optimized in the best rotation he can pull out. 

Optimization is not competing with your fellow guildies, however the latter is a by-product of several DPSers, both sharing the same joy for bringing their best, having a friendly rivalry. But optimization itself is not about being the best out there, but it's about bringing the best of you out there

This can swing both ways: 
  • You might be the best DPSer in your guild but if you're a frost mage instead of fire, you're not optimizing. 
  • You might be the worst DPSer in your guild, but hey, you're pulling 8k DPS.
Optimization is a proactive action. Tanking and Healing both have proactive natures to them too, of course. For example, Tanks have to balance their own survivability with their threat generation. Healers have to think hard on what to gem and what to Glyph. But most of their work is reactive. 
  • Healers' healing is never the same in two raids.
  • Tanks will always recieve different damage spikes to monitor their survival cooldowns. 
  • And there's the matter of spawns, random mobs, threat losses. 
All in all, these two roles are more reactive, and are dependant on actual in-game variables (Both for serious progression raiders, of course these classes should try to optimize their gear, abilities and gems/glyphes). For DPS, most of the work is proactive. Case in point: Bruttalus, more recently, Saurfang. These are straight-up gear check encounters. Tanks will have to use their CDs as necessary and will have to adapt to RNG nature of incoming damage, the same for the healers. DPSers rarely have to react to anything. Outside of some Beasts spanking, it's just a tank and spank for them. 

For a DPSer, you have to figure out what gems give you the most benefit, what is the correct way to Glyph, how your guild handles Bloodlust (A note: It should be blown on the pull, I'll write a post later on that), and various number crunches you can easily find if you should lurk around ElitistJerks a bit, take a look at your class' spreadsheet, and work out on the target dummy. 

There is no excuse for the disrespectful DPSer, who:
  • Relies on Fish Feast
  • Doesn't Flask (Or use double Elixirs if it benefits him the most)
  • Doesn't give his pet food
  • Doesn't use bombs as an Engineer
  • Comes with a 'wrong' spec
  • Has wrong gems and glyphes
  • Doesn't know his rotation/priority list
Our job is simple! It doesn't take a Physics PhD. to pull off the right rotation. Consumables are not expensive. All the info they ever need is found from Google. And if you fail any of these steps, there's simply no excuse. 

I can forgive someone dying to avoidable damage. Everyone screws up sometimes. You might be tired, you might have had little sleep, or you might be in a perfect physical condition and just didn't see it. It's ok, try not to do it next time. If you do everything above, odds are you also understand the simple optimization golden rule that Dead DPS does no damage, and I'm confident you'll try better next time.

But if you show up with no food buffs and ask if there's going to be a Fish Feast?


Good lucking finding a spot in my raids.


  1. how your guild handles Bloodlust (A note: It should be blown on the pull, I'll write a post later on that)

    You've got a lot of explaining to do. I don't see how that makes any sense. Lust is a 10 min CD, while any dps I can think of have a max 3 min CD cycle. Even ignoring that many dps have additional damage at execute range, and the potential threat issues, there are many ICC bosses when the end of the fight is the hardest on the raid (Saurfang and Rotface come to mind).

    I simply don't see how using Bloodlust on the pull can be smart unless you expect half your raid to die before ~30%.

  2. agree with above statement. only times bloodlust shouldn't be used in execute phase are:
    *there is a hard phase during the fight you wanna get over fast. p2 prince in karazhan is a very clear example.
    *you are progressing on a boss and want to exercise the next phase(s), so you just speed up the first phase(s).
    *you expect several of your dps to not make the end.
    *you expect to be able to use 2 bloodlust, but then you still use the last one in execute phase so it doesn't really count

  3. Thanks for the kindled interest, I'm going to make it a post that explains all of these issues.

    I would be interested to hear more comments on why you think Bloodlust shouldn't be used on the pull. I'll take my time to go through it all.


  4. @Anonymous: Actually, I'm pretty sure i saw an EJ thread that stated that it didn't matter at what point you used BL in the fight, as long as everyone synched their cooldowns with bloodlust, it didn't intuitively make sense to me, but you can check their math: http://elitistjerks.com/blogs/binkenstein/234-bloodlust_execute_talents.html.

    @DKS Actually, I think that while gevlon might have written a post or two about gear being overrated, the Undergeared project is more about proving to bads that they are indeed bad, not just undergeared. One hears constantly "We can't kill festergut because we don't have the gear yet" From people in full 232s doing 2k dps. Gevlon is simply doing this to prove that it CAN be done in blues, and if you can't beat it with epics, it's not because your gear is holding you back, it's because you, or your raid group is doing something wrong. Of course there are some encounters that are mathematically impossible to do in all blues, the point is, gevlon and crew did it in blues, you not being able to do it in epics means you're bad, not that your gear sucks.

  5. Update: It appears that the general conclusion of the EJ math is that if you BL during execute phase, you reduce the time in execute phase, meaning that the overall damage done to the boss is roughly the same as if you bloodlusted on the pull.

  6. I think you missed Gevlon's point. He said many times, that they are not going to do ICC hard modes, because that's not their goal, and they would indeed need better gear for that. Undergeared is about showing, that you don't need 5000 GS to see the content - and seeing the content means doing normal modes. It's not "you can clear ICC25 HM LK in blues" but "If you fail in ICC normal in full T9 gear then it's your skill, not gear that's the problem".

  7. Gotta say though that you never even considered that fact that the raid dps only needs to be that high for 25 seconds while the heart is exposed.

    I mean you're looking at overall damage meters for the entire regular fight which has a lot of add switching and moving involved and comparing it to a 25 second burn phase where everyone is stationary and using cooldowns + heroism.

    You make some good points but they're all based on false assumptions. I'd suggest actually looking at a parse of the raid dps during a stationary burn phase and then compare.

  8. Let me put it this way:

    It's mathematically impossible.