Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Moonkin Tools: Wrathcalcs

I'm starting a new series to take a look at a few of the Moonkin Tools available around the internet. I get a lot of questions asking for advice. I can't use cloth gear, what is my BiS list? Should I pick up this talent? Can I drop my mana regen? These questions are very difficult to answer without knowing the player's situation. Luckily there are several tools available that can help you with these questions if you know how to use them.

This post will take a look at Wrathcalcs. Future posts will take a look at Rawr and SimCraft. These are the primary tools that I know about. If you have suggestions for other tools I should look at post them in the comments.

Wrathcalcs

What: Wrathcalcs is a formulation based Excel spreadsheet that models Moonkin DPS. It was originally created by Adoriele to be the successor to Efejel's very popular TBC Moonkin spreadsheet. It doesn't have all the functionality of the original Moonkin Spreadsheet, but the guts of the calculations are still there and have been improved upon. The spreadsheet is now being maintained and updated by Hamlet.

Where: The best place to pick it up is from the Moonkin PvE Think Tank post on the EJ forums. It is at the bottom of the post. You can find it here.

How to Use: The novice user only needs to worry about two tabs in the spreadsheet, but both tabs provide both input sections and results outputs.

  • Character Sheet (Inputs): This is the primary input section of the spreadsheet. There are multiple sections you need to fill out.
    • Current Stats: Input your stats as you would view them on the Armory. These are your base stats without buffs and not in moonkin form.
    • Gear: Allows you to select set bonuses and idols. Make sure you don't select more than two set bonuses.
    • Other Sections: They are fairly self explanatory. Select the talents, buffs, and debuffs you use in a raid

  • Character Sheet (Outputs): The Character Sheet also displays the Marginal values of Stats, Buffs, Talents, and Glyphs. This can be very handing when making quick gear choices.

  • Rotations and DPS (Outputs): This is the output section of the spreadsheet. It gives you the expected DPET of each spell as well as the DPS and DPM of several sample rotations. It also gives you the marginal value of each stat for each spell available to you.

  • Rotations and DPS (Inputs): There aren't many input fields on this tab, but two of them are very important. The "Eclipse Rotation Type:" is set to Lunar Truncation. This means you are using WiseEclipse or are canceling Lunar Eclipse in a similar method manually. The "Moonfire (Eclipse):" is also set to refresh MF during Eclipse. If you don't do this then you will want to change it.
Pros:
  • Constancy: The big advantage of formulated results is that given the same inputs the out puts will always be the same. Therefore it is very easy to see how changing those inputs can impact the results.

    Want to know how much of an improvement a new piece of gear would be? By changing the stat section you can get a quick estimation on how it will affect your DPS.

  • Availability: The other tools available require you to download executable files and such. This can be a little confusing for some people and will cause some to worry about viruses and keyloggers. The nice thing about Wrathcalcs is that it comes in a format that a lot of people are familiar with. Also, it is very easy to find and start using.

  • Open source: All of the calculations are open to be viewed by the user. Assuming you have a basic knowledge of Excel, you can follow the cell references and figure out how the calculations are done. This makes it easier for you to understand and modify the results if you so desire.
Cons:

  • Documentation: Other than the original forum thread there is very little documentation in or about Wrathcalcs. Most of it is self explanatory if you have an understanding of Excel, but I would like to see a better explanation of the spreadsheet from the authors. I don't think it needs to be extensive, but a quick guide on how to get started would be helpful. I would also like to see some explanation of the output fields on the Character Sheet tab.

  • Unuser Friendly: Making changes in the spreadsheet is not quick and simple. Trying to evaluate several pieces of gear requires you to do the math personally and then modify the stats accordingly. This can get complicated if you're making several changes and this will increase the probability of mistakes.

  • Formulated Results: Formulated results are great, but they are not the most accurate results available. Formulated results are based averages and expected behaviour, but have a hard time measuring actual behaviour with the inclusion of random events.

    For example, we don't know when Eclipse is going to proc. We can determine how long it will take us to proc it on average, but actual results are going to vary. That variance will average out on its own, but our spells and abilities don't operate in a vacuum. There will be times when we have we won't extend Moonfire to 24 seconds because we couldn't cast Starfire while trying to proc Eclipse. The precasting phase of an Eclipse rotation will be extended because you have to refresh DoTs. The buff phase of Eclipse will be limited at other times because you have to refresh DoTs or go with out the buff they provide.

    We over come these obstacles by making assumptions, but those assumptions are not correct 100% of the time and affect the results.
TL:DR

Wrathcalcs is a great tool for giving you a ballpark figure when evaluating high level DPS questions. It is also great at giving you definitive and directionally correct answers to those questions. If it says a change is a DPS increase or decrease you can be reasonably confident in the results, and it is widely available on a platform that is well known to many players. As long as you have some experience with Excel you shouldn't have any big issues with using it.

That said it is not the most user friendly method of evaluating more specific questions like which piece of gear is better, and you can find more accurate information on stat valuation using SimCraft.

(edited by Flamedor)

10 comments:

TinkTink@EU-Neptulon said...

Sucks that it lacks mac support though. Altough i guess all the "tools" have that in common. ><

ps. If anyone have a way to make it work in osx, please tell me. ds.

Boukev said...

Wauw Graylo Nice job! I am definitely looking forward to your review on Rawr since i mostly use that for quick gear checks when deciding for a need or greed :)

Lherin said...

@Tink

You should be able to load any excel spreadsheet using OpenOffice, which is free, and works on any mac.

Hamlet said...

Tink: I actually update the spreadsheet in Excel 2008 for Mac (currently version 12.2.1).

---

I should probably write up a better description of how it works--I'll probably at least a brief summary into the TTT post.

For now though, you omit one of the main advantages of WC; the marginal stat values on the front page. I think that's actually the main advantage of an analytical approach over a simulation-based one. Because there's no variance in the results, you can see the advantage posed by a gain of, say, 1 spellpower very easily. The front page of the sheet shows how much DPS you stand to gain or lose by picking up every talent or stat. The second page also shows how spellpower, haste, and crit affect the DPET of all of your spells.

Simulation-based approaches have an advantage in that you can avoid some of the assumption that are necessary in an analytical model. This can make them better for large-scale comparison of spell rotations. But for accurate computation of marginal stat values, the analytical approach avoids all of the statistical problems inherent in trying to find the difference between two nearly-equal values. This makes it most useful for evaluating stats talents for the purpose of weighing gear or other tradeoffs.

Graylo said...

@Hamlet

Good points.

I intended to include a comment on the Marginal values in the Character Sheet but missed it. I will correct the oversight.

However, like I did say in the post I would like to see some explanation of the marginal value fields on the Character Sheet tab. The Marginal Value of talents in particular can be a little misleading. Those values seem to be a combination of two calculations. If you have zero invested it shows you how much one point would be worth, or if you have points invested it shows you the value of your investment. It’s probably more trouble then its worth, but it would be nice to see the value of your investment and the value of additional point.

I also agree with your comments on Simulation. The Statistical variance can be a big issue, and my mis-valuation of Haste is a good example of that. I was going to cover those issues a little more closely when I got to SimCraft

Xaktsaroth said...

I am not really handy with excel files. When I try open this I get an error rougly translated "cant open "name of file" the document is encoded against writing"
I click ok then excel starts up and I have to choose among a long list of files and if I open any of them I get loads of spelling errors and it feels like I can only see half of the spreadsheet after all errors been ignored.
Tried to open the "character sheet" that was the first option now and got 191 errors.
Only reason I never really looked into excel stuff cause I never managed to open them

Lherin said...

I personally prefer simulation over formulation, because most of the questions I want answers to are better served by that method. But this kind of tool can certainly be useful.

As you said Hamlet, it really depends what kind of questions are being asked. It also helps to use several different tools as a method of cross checking each others results to make sure they make sense.

Nathaniel Hieter said...

Perhaps a useful reference:

http://code.google.com/p/simulationcraft/wiki/FormulationVsSimulation

No new information, but reasonably concise.

QuestionC said...

In my experience, the main problem with Wrathcalcs is that you can't run it without a full version of Excel.

I only tried it once, but OpenOffice, Google Docs, and the free (Read-Only) version of Excel all choked. On the other hand, programs like Rawr and Simcraft... I can use them. Hell, anyone with a PC can.

Rawr and Simcraft can be daunting to use, but they don't have the same availability problem presented by Wrathcalc.

Anonymous said...

Graylo,

I've been a long-time reader and I really can't thank you enough for your passion and dedication!

I will keep searching and see if I can somehow figure it out for myself, but I have a a couple questions that really calls for that awesomely moonkin mind of yours:

I'm in the happy circumstance of having 3 pieces of trophy T9 gear (Shoulder, Chest and Pants) and 2 pieces of T8.5 (Gloves, Helm). It seemed to make sense to give up the 4 pc 8.5 bonus. The question I have is at what point (if ever) does it make sense to give up the 2 pc T8.5 for the 4pc T9? Ever? Is there/what is your favourite distribution of 8.5/9 pieces?