The Joy of Spreadsheeting


This is not gonna be a fun post for me because, well, I goofed. I made some seemingly innocuous changes to the spreadsheet a while ago that caused it to be less accurate than it normally is (which, for the record, has never been anywhere near 100%), and it’s taken me a while to figure out that there was a problem and then finally fix it.

The short answer is that the spreadsheet has been overvaluing crit since 7.1 was released. In this updated version, you’ll see stat weights that look way off. Specifically, crit is much lower and haste is much higher; this is due to several reasons. The first is the previously mentioned changes that caused crit to be inflated. Second, I had been manually reducing the weight of haste by 10% because of its adverse relationship with mana; I’m no longer doing that. Last, stat weights are going back to what appear to be much more reasonable values, but everyone has been under the impression that crit was so powerful, so they have gravitated toward gear with lots and lots of crit. This makes crit look weaker than you would expect simply by virtue of having so much of it and so little of everything else. By comparison, the other stats will be higher than expected until stat distribution evens out a little more.

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The Artifact Power Grind

There’s been a lot of talk lately on twitter and on the WoW forums about Mythic raiders being burned out by having to endlessly grind Mythic+ dungeons for Artifact Power (AP). There are other factors that have led to the feeling of burnout for several veteran raiders, but the specific problem of feeling like you have to spend your available time getting more AP for more Artifact Traits is what is complained about the most, so I’m going to talk about that.

I should preface by saying that my perspective is of a semi-hardcore Mythic raider, and that I’m absolutely in favor of an uncapped system for acquiring AP. I think that if a cap was added to AP there would still be people who feel like the cap is either too high or too low, and the cap would just be moving the problem to a different set of people. I also think the expectation for how quickly you acquire AP should be set by you or your raiding group and not by Blizzard.

Setting a Cap on Artifact Power

I’ve been playing WoW since 2005 and have seen multiple different systems for capped and uncapped resources. From uncapped Honor grinding in Vanilla to seemingly uncapped Badges of Justice in Burning Crusade to the weekly Valor cap in Mists of Pandaria. The Badge system in Burning Crusade was capped in the sense that there were only a set number of dungeons and raids you could do per day/week, but that cap was so high that it was almost never achieved every day; very few people did all 16 Heroic dungeons in a single day.

Regardless of my opinions on the systems themselves, I was always in favor of an uncapped system because a cap was either too high for me to care about or too low and made me not care about the content. Obviously this is specific to my own determination, but that’s also my point: it’s virtually impossible for the arbitrary cap to be exactly how much content you want to participate in.

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Hpal Log Analysis 101

Who You Gonna Believe, Warcraft Logs or Your Own Lying Memory?

When you drove home today, how many times was the traffic light green? Last time you wrote an email, how often did you need to backspace due to a typing error? In your last raid, how many holy shocks did you miss?

Your memory is a manipulative, self-centered prima donna. It’ll color over mistakes, bury things that made you feel bad, disregard the routine as not worth dwelling on. You are the hero in the story you are constantly telling yourself about yourself, and your memory will unabashedly lie to you to support that story.

This is especially true in activities like driving, typing, and raiding in World of Warcraft. All of these bypass the conscious-thinking-observer in you. Your conscious thinker is simply too slow to effectively decide “and next I’ll type w, and then i, and then n, and bam now I WIN.” Instead, the vast majority of decisions you make in these activities are are reflexive, based on pre-programmed responses. You pre- and post-think, consciously deciding how to respond to a situation; then practice until your chosen response in that situation is ingrained by repetition (this is why you eventually stopped wiping on Mannoroth!)

This has many implications for thoughtful raiding, one of which (today’s topic!) is that you generally won’t remember small, mechanical mistakes you made during the raid. (You also won’t remember big mistakes, often blaming the effects on others, but that’s a topic for another time). Since you won’t remember them, you won’t think about them, you won’t fix them, and you’ll certainly repeat them. One of the best ways to improve your gameplay is to identify mistakes you’ve made. Then you can practice ways to avoid that mistake outside of a raid encounter, taking the time to program your reflexes to correctly respond to the scenario that previously caused you to err.

There is no better tool for identifying mistakes than Warcraft Logs. Bypass all of your cognitive biases and look at actual data.

And You Thought The First Part of This Post Was Long: What to Look For In Your Holy Paladin Logs

My favorite fight for looking at Holy Paladin fundamentals is High Council. Long enough for mistakes to develop, minimal movement, mostly a turret-and-heal fight. Of course there is value to looking at high-movement fights as well, to see how well you handle movement while maximizing casting, but for now I’ll focus on casting fundamentals.

1. Look at what you cast, not how much you healed.

So pull up your Council log and look at your healing.

What are you doing!? Not the healing tab. Who cares how much healing you did compared to the other healers? That’s completely irrelevant. We’re doing this to find mistakes, not to let our story-telling ego lie to us even more. Looking at your own healing-done breakdown is just as useless. Especially for a Holy Paladin, how much healing you have from Illuminated Healing, Beacon, and direct heals will vary wildly depending more on the encounter and your raid comp than on your own mistakes and successes.

Focus on Casts

By far the best, most useful information is in the casts tab. Almost every mechanical error in Holy Paladin play is best identified by this information.

First, you can run some basic numbers. Multiply the minutes the fight took by 60 and add the remaining seconds to get how many total seconds the encounter lasted. Then you can figure your average cooldown on Holy Shock, as well as how many times you could have cast Holy Prism and Avenging Wrath.

Basic Numbers

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Happy New Year!

Stormwind Newyear

Happy New Year, everyone!

I’m very happy to announce a new author here on Sacred Shielding: Jeathebelle from <Promethean> on Stormreaver-US! Jeathebelle is a well-respected Holy Paladin with a lot of great insight and I’m excited to start the new year with more perspective.

In the coming months, we’ll both be working on theorycrafting for Holy Paladin in the Legion Alpha/Beta. There’s already been a lot of datamined information about Holy Paladins in Legion, but I’d chosen to wait until after the Holidays before fully getting into modeling for Legion and writing about the new changes.

There’s obviously a lot to discuss already and even more inevitable changes as new Alpha builds start coming in, so stay tuned!

Legion Paladin Preview

We’ve finally seen all of the previews of each class and specialization heading into Legion. I wanted to wait until all of the healers had been previewed before writing this in case there were any fundamental healing design changes that might have been apparent from the non-Paladin healer previews.

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General Changes

The single biggest change to healing is the removal of absorption (mostly). And there was much rejoicing. Discipline Priests will still have Power Word: Shield, but it will have a six second cooldown, and Paladins lose their absorption mastery, Illuminated Healing. Similarly, they are removing a lot of absorption mechanics from tank specializations as well. I think this is a great change for healing. Absorbs are an interesting mechanic, but they have been too powerful for quite some time and lead to an unhealthy imbalance between healers.

The second big change to healers is a higher emphasis on damage.  Discipline Priests have become a specialization that spends a significant portion of their time converting damage to healing; however, Mistweaver Monks have lost their ability to “fistweave” and, as a result, have lost their immunity to specific ranged-only mechanics. Each healer will now level as their healing specialization and accrue Artifact Power for their healing Artifact weapon rather than level as a damage-dealing spec and change back to healing later.  To me, this implies that our damage will be respectable.  My guess is that our damage will be relatively similar to a tank specialization’s damage-per-second.

In the same vein, healers will be spending more time doing damage when less healing is required.  I should clarify that it’s not absolutely confirmed that we will spend time doing damage on progression bosses, but it was implied during a Q&A on classes during Blizzcon, and the change to healers’ ability to deal damage only reinforces the idea. I’m a little skeptical about this. I know that there’s still a lot of information that isn’t available to us yet, so I’ll hold off on my Final Verdict (ba dum tss), but I will voice some concerns:

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Holy Paladin Guide for 6.2

I decided to write my own guide for Holy Paladins.  There are plenty of guides out there that are perfectly fine, but I wanted to make one that went more in-depth about the choices behind playing a Paladin instead of just telling you what to do. This might mean that it’s too wordy for a lot of readers, but I’m ok with that. I hope that those of you who do want to read more about Holy Paladins enjoy it.

Holy Paladin Guide for 6.2

Looking For Raid-ish

On Monday, Preach Gaming posted a new video in a series about major changes he hopes to see in Legion.  This video covered the topic of the highly controversial Looking For Raid (LFR) system.  I highly suggest watching the video beforehand, but I’ll cover most of the salient points here as well.

The first point that Preach makes is an analogy about how LFR is similar to Random Battlegrounds in that both are a facsimile for the real challenge, but we don’t cry about BGs because it’s been in the game since Vanilla.  I don’t think this analogy is really that great because anything that involves Player vs. Player interaction can be a challenge depending on the skill level of whoever you’re playing against, but I think the underlying point he’s trying to make is this: we’re fine with having aspects of the game be “casual” as long as they don’t infringe on our sense of meaningful or rewarding progression.  I wholeheartedly agree, BUT this leads to his next point: LFR does affect the way players acquire gear.

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Rise of the Selfless Healer

In my previous post, I touched on the Selfless Healer talent and how it felt clumsy and led to overhealing.  I do still think that Selfless Healer is a little awkward, but I was wrong in assuming that the talent wasn’t an option for currently raiding Holy Paladins. So wrong.

A Holy Power Spender By Any Other Name

The first thing to discuss is why we haven’t seen Selfless Healer at all this expansion. A big factor is the power of Eternal Flame vs. Light of Dawn.  Historically, Eternal Flame has been the strictly superior option as a Holy Power spender in comparison to Light of Dawn.  The main reason for this is because Light of Dawn has an abysmal 15% transfer rate for Beacon of Light whereas Eternal Flame has 50% — the same as most other heals. When you consider that most Paladins take Beacon of Faith for raiding, that gap becomes 30% of Light of Dawn compared to 100% of Eternal Flame.  Beacon of Light is often the biggest contributor to a Holy Paladin’s healing and one of the most compelling aspects of a Holy Paladin’s toolkit so it’s easy to understand how the Beacon transfer disparity between the two spells would influence a lot of thinking.

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