ToTS Haste Plateau-Esque: Dissecting Marksmanship

The following represents a continuation of my look into Haste Plateaus in Warlords of Draenor. Click here for the introduction.  None of this information is necessary to playing a hunter well, but if you're really into min-maxing your play, or you just happen to enjoy dissecting numbers, check it out.

In Search Of Haste Plateaus

My first task in looking at MM's potential for any Haste plateaus, was to look at some basic cast times of our cast shots, and just see where any interesting combinations occur.  The numbers/sums we're interested are those which can result in a whole number of seconds, which would mean no wasted time and no delay to our signature shot.  We'll start off by just looking at individual shots' cast times.  Note that the haste values here are your haste value after a buff, they are not assuming that you will add any on top of what's already there, except for the case of Rapid Fire and Ancient Hysteria.  Also: RF = Rapid Fire and AH = Ancient Hysteria/Time Warp/Bloodlust/Hero.

Steady Shot:
Base cast time:2 sec
1.5 sec cast time:33.3% haste
1 sec cast time: 9.9% haste + RF & AH
42.8% + RF
53.8% haste + AH
Aimed Shot:
Base cast time:2.5 sec
2 sec cast time:25% haste
1.5 sec cast time:19% haste + RF
28.2% haste + AH
1 sec cast time:37.3% haste + RF & AH
Base cast time:3 sec
2.5 sec cast time:20% haste
2 sec cast time:50% haste
15.4% haste + AH
7.1% haste + RF
1.5 sec cast time:53.8% haste + AH
42.9% haste + RF
9.9% haste + RF & AH
1 sec cast time: 64.8% haste + RF & AH

After looking at individual shots, I made up a little spreadsheet of shot combinations.  The results are as follows:

8 Second Combos
10.6%3 AiS, 2 SSAH12.5%2 AiS, 2 SSNone
11.6%5 AiSRF18.7%3 AiS, 1 SSNone
12.5%2 AiS, 2 SSnone25.0%5 SSNone
15.4%4 AiS, 2 SSAH25.0%4 AiSNone
18.7%3 AiS, 1 SSnone31.2%1 AiS, 4 SSNone
20.2%5 AiSAH37.5%2 AiS, 3 SSNone
20.2%7 AiSAH + RF43.8%3 AiS, 2 SSNone
25.0%5 SSnone10.6%3 AiS, 2 SSAH
25.0%4 AiSnone15.4%4 AiS, 2 SSAH
25.0%4 Ais, 2 SSRF20.2%5 AiSAH
29.4%5 AiS, 1 SSRF34.6%4 AiS, 2 SSAH
31.2%1 AiS, 4 SSnone39.4%5 AiS, 1 SSAH
33.9%6 AiSRF44.2%6 AiSAH
34.6%4 AiS, 2 SSAH20.2%7 AiSAH + RF
37.3%8 AiSAH + RF37.3%8 AiSAH + RF
37.5%2 AiS, 3 SSnone11.6%5 AiSRF
39.4%5 AiS, 1 SSAH25.0%4 Ais, 2 SSRF
43.8%3 AiS, 2 SSnone29.4%5 AiS, 1 SSRF
44.2%6 AiSAH33.9%6 AiSRF

And just for funsies, I put in some 7 second combos, which could, possibly, be useful if you want to fit in a Glaive Toss and its GCD. 

7 Second Combos
Haste ShotsBuffs
21.4%1 AiS, 3 SSNone
28.5%2 AiS, 2 SSNone
35.7%3 AiS, 1 SSNone
42.8%4 AiSNone
42.9%5 SSNone

So here, we have a good idea of how many shots we can fit into the space between Chimeara Shots, which just required a little basic arithmetic. Our next task, however, is a bit more complicated and will require us to spend a bit of time looking through logs.  

Below represents the values of my shots wearing all 630 gear (gear was scaled down, but that should be about what our dungeon gear looks like when we start WoD raiding) in a normal Highmaul run in beta, killing the Butcher (a Patchwerk style, totally single target, pretty much just stand there kind of fight).  The three Aimed Shots are a normal Aimed Shot, Aimed Shot with Careful Aim, and Aimed Shot with Careful Aim and TotH.

MM Hunter at Lvl 100, ilvl 630, w/ LW, TotH, Brg, Crows:

AbilityHitCritPer cast avg:Focus CostCast/GCDDPCTDPFDPCT/F
Chim Shot372608059659631.635160705.101734.431734.43
Kill Shot353007443048391.20148391.20n/an/a
Aimed Shot191585398029756.2502.2413284.02595.12265.68
Aimed Shot 191585398050649.4302.2422611.341688.31753.71
Aimed Shot 191585398050649.4102.2422611.345064.942261.13

Now that we know about how hard each of our abilities are hitting, we can go ahead and compare some different scenarios.  There are several different ways to compare the value of a particular ability.  When considering for the purpose of our rotation / priority system, I like to use Damage per Cast Time per Focus.  That's not of particular help here, because when we're talking about delaying a shot for a second or less, we're not really talking about missing out on the shot all together, just pushing it back.  

We could look, instead, at the total damage over a set period of time. Perhaps go as far as looking at an entire fight, call it 240 seconds, or 300 seconds, and work this out for each different fight, and depending on the group we have with us, which would seem more accurate, but we don't really know down to the second how long our fight will last, especially when we're progressing through a raid.  

So what I'll do instead, is just assign a fractional value to my signature shot, and call that the DPS loss from delaying it.  What I mean is, if I delay my Chim Shot 9 seconds, I have lost the entire damage from one Chim Shot.  If I delay it one second, we don't really know whether or not I've lost any damage, because we don't know on exactly which second the fight is going to end.  Since I have a 1 in 9 chance to not get to cast an additional Chim Shot, will just call that losing one ninth the value of Chim Shot, or 11.11%.  To further clarify, in case it's unclear, the reason I'm calculating the damage loss with an average like this is because we're not ever talking about just delaying Chim Shot once,  we're talking about doing it multiple times over the course of the fight.  So if x equals the amount of time I've delay Chim Shot, and Chim Shot is doing 60k damage (yes, I'm rounding 59,631.6 up to 60k, for brevity's sake), then "x*60,000/9" represents the damage loss.  

Why would we ever take a loss of damage?  Well we wouldn't, but we're not just losing total damage from Chim Shot, we're also gaining total damage from fitting in whatever ability is delaying Chim Shot.  For example, my Aimed Shot, under normal conditions (not with Careful Aim), averages around 30k damage (neat, I hadn't even noticed how close Aimed Shot was to exactly half of Chim Shot at this gear level), so as long as 30k*((2.24-x)/2.24) > (x/9)*60k, then we'll want to squeeze in that extra Aimed Shot (assuming we have enough focus for both shots, otherwise we'd have to add to "x" the time it takes cast enough Steady Shots to have enough focus to cast Chim Shot).  

At my haste level in 630 gear (only 11.6% buffed), that break point is a really high 1.496 seconds.  That is to say, I can delay my Chim Shot an entire 1.496 seconds to use an Aimed Shot and still come out ahead in total damage.  It's important to remember, however, that this is comparing the loss of Chim Shot damage, and doing nothing; what I mean is let's say we have one second left on the CD for Chim Shot, we can either A. do nothing until Chim Shot, or B. use an Aimed Shot, delaying Chim Shot by 1.24 seconds.  If these are our only two options, then, since 1.24 < 1.496, we'll be better off to go ahead and squeeze in that Aimed Shot, delaying Chim Shot (this is where the old adage "ABC: Always Be Casting" comes from). However, using Aimed Shot or doing nothing are not our only options!

We've also got this pesky Steady Shot.  Steady Shot, of course, does considerably less damage than AiS or Chim Shot, but it gives us more focus, allowing us to cast more Aimed Shots at a later time. This is where the algebra gets a bit more complicated than I want to describe here (not actually complicated like hard, just takes up a lot of room), because we're looking at combination of shots: x Steady Shots and y Aimed Shots.  What we need to do, is plug our Aimed Shot/Chim Shot Delay equation into my "shot combination at various haste levels" spreadsheet. The result looks a bit like this:

MM hunters haste plateaus in Warlords of Draenor

So there we go! Done!

Well, perhaps I can be a bit more elegant than that.  Let's revisit our chart from earlier.  It now looks like this:

CombosHaste Range +SS+AiS
2 AiS, 2 SS5% - 12.5%16.4%22.3%
3 AiS, 1 SS5% - 18.7%22.3%28.2%
5 SS5% - 25%25.0%34.2%
4 AiS5% - 25%28.2%34.2%
1 AiS, 4 SS10.5% - 31.2%34.2%40.2%
2 AiS, 3 SS16.4% - 37.5%40.2%46.2%
3 AiS, 2 SS22.3% - 43.8%46.2%n/a
4 AiS, 1 SS28.2% - 50%n/an/a
5 AiS34.2% - 56.2%n/an/a
What it's show, is first, obviously, the combination of shots.  The second column, "Haste Range", is the point where you have enough haste to where this combination is worthwhile (for example, with less than 16.4% haste, you shouldn't ever cast 2 Aimed Shots and 3 Steady Shots in between Chim Shots). The second number in this range is the point at which haste no longer benefits this combination of shots; you may still use that combination at a little bit higher Haste level, but you'll have some dead time.  The "+ SS" column represents the Haste point where adding in an additional Steady Shot becomes a DPS gain, and the "+ AiS" column represents the Haste point where adding in an additional Aimed Shot becomes a DPS gain.  And there we have it.  

It's becoming clear at this point, that I really need to stop saying "Haste Plateau", as it really doesn't describe, at all, what we're talking about here.  Before knowing these numbers, it's unclear how many might line up, and if there would be a clear-cut point where haste is really beneficial, and where it's much less beneficial, but at this point, we can go ahead and say no to plateaus.  

That doesn't mean this information isn't useful.  I'll at least continue to use that chart to sort of map out where my rotation will change through-out various haste levels.  I'm not going to post anymore spreadsheets, as this is already a bit to long, but for those curious how the numbers look during Careful Aim, the ranges are even more extreme for when it's best to delay Chim Shot.  That is to say, since the value of Aimed Shot goes up so much (averaging about 83% of Chim Shot's damage), having any down time will be a pretty big DPS loss.  So even if there's only a half second left before Chim Shot is off CD, you'll still be DPS ahead by casting an Aimed Shot.  

Over the next few days, I'll be looking at Survival and Beast Mastery rotations to see if there's any info there that'll help us.  Hopefully it'll be a bit simpler since there will only be one shot with a cast time.  

Last Minute Prep for Warlords of Draenor

It's amazing how incredibly unprepared I am for Warlords, so it's a good thing there are so many other amazing hunters out there who are making sure I won't be a total derp when WoD finally does drop.  Above, of course, is Ricket's video on the legendary quest we'll be doing in tier 17.  It looks like we'll get a 680 ring (which should eventually become out legendary) before Highmaul opens, which is fun. Could be I just don't know what's going on with the quest, but seems like it'll move a lot faster than MoP's legendary did.

A few folks and I have been running Highmaul pugs on the Beta, and holy smokes it is so much fun.  I don't mean it's a particularly impressive raid, though it may be.  What I mean is, it's so incredibly fun to be not raiding in Siege of Orgrimmar.  I cannot express how tired of that raid I am.

Also, I wanted to post these links here, even though I already put it up over on the WHU.  The Grumpy Elf has been busy preparing guides for professions and profession buildings in our garrisons in Warlords.  I'm going to post all of these in the WoD Hunter Guides tab, also, if you ever need to check back and find them.
I'm still working on Haste Plateaus, but the first crack at MM should be up either later today, or tomorrow.

ToTS: Haste Plateau-esque, an Introduction

The function of Cast Time for MM Hunters

Ok, I've been working on this for nearly a week, and it's officially time to release it into the wild. Remember back in cataclysm (or was it Wrath?) when Frostheim introduced the hunter community to our new Haste Plateaus?  Well it's that time of the game again, when we get to think about the minutia of stat values and rotations.

What are Haste Plateaus?

From Frostheim on the WHU, several years ago:

The theory says that haste plateaus are a practical thing that informs two hunter decisions: the big one is that haste plateaus suggest when it’s a good idea to adjust your rotation, pushing back your signature shot a bit to get in an extra steady/cobra/arcane shot. 
The second part is that haste plateaus suggest when the dps value of one point of haste changes. After a soft plateau and up to a hard plateau, the value of each point of haste is — in theory — more than the value of one point of haste after the hard plateaus. That’s because after the soft plateau haste is increasing the rate of your signature shot fire — in addition to all the Other Stuff: increasing auto-shots, increasing focus, increasing pet’s melee attacks, increasing pet focus. 
But after the hard plateaus, haste is still doing all the Other Stuff [Autoshots, pet Melees, RPPM, Focus regen, etc]. It’s just no longer also boosting your signature shot. Thus haste always increasing your dps, but at certain points it increasing your dps more than other points. 
The theory then suggests that the difference in haste weight was enough that it altered reforging priorities (by a small amount). And of course there is also the rotation break points.
It is certainly still true that at different points, haste has different values. However, since in WoD we no longer have reforging, the only way we can affect our Haste is through gear choice, enchants and consumables, and since there are other, much more valuable stats that will be occupying our enchants and consumables, we're really not going to be thinking about getting extra Haste rating to make our way up to a particular point.  Instead, we'll be focusing on how haste affects our rotation, and how to maximize our DPS, depending on our Haste percent.

Just in case that's unclear: when I talk about Haste Plateaus, I am not, in any way, referring to the "break points" that healers have had to dealt with.  I am, instead, referring to haste levels which will change our rotations, because it will become a DPS increase to either delay our signature shot, or include some down time in our rotation, to avoid delaying our signature shot.

Ability Pruning and The Haste Plateau

One of the big differences between MoP and Cata, which are primarily why we stopped concerning ourselves with Haste Plateaus, is the introduction of significantly more complicated "rotations", which really weren't rotations at all, but priority systems, which meant using our normal rotation went from a little under 50% of the time, to almost never.  

In some ways, that's a bit less true now, with the "ability pruning" came a much more simplified priority system.  Though we're still using our level 90 talents fairly often, and our level 60 talents sometimes, there should be a greater number of occasions where your "rotation" will simply consist of your focus generating shot and your focus dump, during the CD of your signature shot.  

So Here's The Plan

Over the next few days or so, I'm going to be going through the effects of Haste on our basic shot rotation for each spec, and seeing if I can't find some definable haste plateaus. My goal is to come up with some "areas of interest", where we can say "At X% haste, during Rapid fire I can do this; when when Barrage is off CD I can do this, when Crows if off CD I can do this.." etc. 

The way we're going to look at it is very simple.  Using Marksmanship for example, we have a signature shot (an incredibly powerful one at that) in Chimaera Shot, which fall of my other shots will be based around. Subtract the GCD to cast Chim Shot from the CD (9 seconds), and that leaves me with 8 seconds to do as much damage as I can, while insuring I have enough focus left at the end to cast my next Chim Shot.  Where it gets slightly more complicated (and the reason for making these guides) is:  A. the function of my cast time is hyperbolic, not as a straight line, and B. even though I just said we're going to base everything around using our Chim Shot exactly on CD, we can actually get more DPS sometimes by not using it exactly on CD.  

In the end, no chart could ever make up for the well-honed instincts of a real hunter, but this should provide a bit of guidance so we can make informed decisions when presented with the varied challenges of of this new Draenor.

PvP Huntering on the Hunting Party Podcast

We had 3k rated hunter Dillypoo on the hunting party podcast yesterday, and I still can't really believe how well it went.  This was the first "guest" we've had since I the show re-vamp a couple months ago.  I was a little bit nervous, not knowing Dillypoo before hand, but he was incredibly knowledgeable and had well thought-out, really intelligent answers.

I finished the last PvP season with only a 1920 rating as my highest, which really, as a fairly casual pvper, seems decent enough, but talking with Dillypoo got me really excited to push a bit harder in arenas.  The last couple seasons, I've really only used arenas to cap, and then once I get all of my PvP gear, just focusing on rated battlegrounds.  And I guess I can just hope there will be some decent hunter comps out there for 3s.

One of my favorite conversations we had yesterday was about the transition from PvP to PvE, and vice versa.  In one of my hunters' mythic team, another hunter was a pure PvPer up until, I think, ToT, or at least up until this expansion.  Watching him in raid is a great lesson in raid awareness, and avoiding avoidable damage, so I'm a big proponent of PvPing to learn how to PvE better.

Anyhow, I hope everyone enjoys the podcast.

Blizzcon Plans

Blizzcon is almost upon us, and I'll be attending for the first time this year.  One of my Raid Leaders has a place out in Santa Monica, so this will also serve as a sort of meet-up for us, and rumor has it we'll be going to disneyland the monday after blizzcon.

Of course, one of this biggest perks of the weekend will be the Hunter Party happening on Saturday night. It sounds like there are going to be a lot of hunters coming, including some really big names, who I'm getting a little bit fanboy-ish about (don't worry, I'll try to play it cool), as well as a lot of hunters with whom I've worked on the Hunter Party Podcast (we're discussing having a live from Blizzcon Hunting Party Podcast that weekend, though I'm not sure when we'll fit that in), and the Warcraft Hunters Union, and several folks that I've gotten to know a bit through the Forums.

Other than that, I don't really have my weekend planned out that much.   Anyone have suggestions?  Guides for Blizzcon noobs?  Anything I just can't miss?

Outside of the actual con, it looks like there is tons of stuff going on.  Hestiah the Druid posted this handy guide to parties happening at Blizzcon. I'm looking forward to some of those.  Bendak from Eyes of the Beast, and Wow Insider, got VIP tickets for Solar and me to go to the Wow Insider / Wowhead party, so I'm definitely looking forward to that. There's also the World of Podcasts party, which, as a newer member of the WoW podcasting community, I thought might be fun.  And of course the CTR party sounds like a good time.

Most importantly, I have no idea what this beer swap is or who hosts it, but I really need to find a way to get to that.  As much as I'm excited to try beers from other places, I'm even more excited to let people see how amazing Chicago beer is these days.  We may have been late on the craft beer scene, but we've really come into our own in the last five years or so.

Anyhow, any of you who have been going to blizzcon for years, I'd love some ideas for how to spend my time.

Thrill of the Spreadsheet: A Closer Look at Sniper Training

Marksmanship Hunters in Warlords of Draenor, Sniper Training

To get the most out of Marksmanship DPS, we're going to have to re-learn how to be a casting-type class in regards to movement; however, our movement mechanics are going to look quite different than the typical caster's movement restrictions. So, I thought it might be prudent to breakdown some of our shots, and how they work with Sniper Training.  To start off, I wanted to make sure I understood exactly how Sniper Training was working; the tooltip says:
Sniper Training-When you stand still for 3 sec, you gain Sniper Training for 6 sec, which increases your damage, shot range and critical strike damage by 4%.

Determining the Value of Sniper Training

As with all Mastery tooltip, that doesn't really tell us how the stat works, so I had to jump on the beta and take a look.  Sniper Training (also like all mastery stats) starts out with a flat percentage (4%), and adds an additional percent for every 220 of the mastery stat.  This is by far the lowest of the Hunter Mastery stat conversions, as SV starts at 8% and gets an additional percent for every 110 stat, and BM starts at 16% and gets an additional percent every 55 stat.

The other fun part of Sniper Training, is not only does it work multiplicatively with other stats, but with crit, it has two multipliers, on for the initial damage modifier, which increases the value of your crit, but it also increases the damage done by crits; so it increases the value being multiplied, and it increases the value it's being multiplied by.

To make that simpler (hopefully), imagine we have 25% crit, and a shot that does 1000 damage on a normal hit.  On average, that shot will do 1250 damage (1000*1.25).  If we add in the damage of mastery, which is, for instance, 10%, we'll average 1402.5.  That is to say, where m = 1 + mastery %, and c = crit % and N = base damage, we can calculate the average damage with:

Avg. dmg. =  (N * m) + (N * c * m^2 )

That, of course, isn't including the versatility or multistrike multipliers, or any other damage modifiers, and we still need to be able to multiply those with our base damage.  So, trying to remember a little 8th grade algebra, let's call our damage multiplier:

m + c * m^2

In case that's unclear, for example, if we have 30% crit, and 10% mastery, we would take our base damage, and multiply it by (1.1+.3*1.1*1.1).  And that gives us the actual our mastery and crit, which we can then continue to multipy with other modifiers.  If, for example, we also had 4% versatility, we could just tack on a *1.04 after that last end parenthesis. 

For those interested, with any given Mastery or Crit rating, you can use the above formula to see the difference between using any shot with, or without the mastery buff.  But for those who don't want to do the work, below is a chart describing how much more damage a shot will do with the Sniper Training buff, than without it.  That is to say, the % in the middle of the chart represents the increased damage with Sniper Training, assuming you'll get the same number of crits with or without the buff. The final row of 100% crit represents the value of mastery during Careful Aim (assuming you reach the crit cap).


The final row is a fairly interesting number, in that you'll see the value of mastery nearly doubles.  Since we'll have Careful Aim up around 30% of an average fight, this is increasing the value of our mastery drasticaly, assuming we can keep the buff up. 

Getting the Most out of Sniper Training

There's a major part of that formula that I left out, and that's Sniper Training's up-time; from the tooltip "When you stand still for 3 sec, you gain Sniper Training for 6 sec".  A few weeks ago, I briefly mentioned this in a post, but I'll cover it here a bit more in depth.  As our crit and mastery ratings get higher, we'll want to pay more attention to what abilities we'll use while the Sniper Training buff is up, and what we'll use while it's down.  Of course, optimally, we would have this buff up 100% of the time, and seen hunters on the beta get it up to around 90% up-time on high movement fights, but the reality is, to do that we'll have to stand in a lot of bad.

So assuming there's high enough movement that we won't have 100% up-time, the trick will be timing your movement so that it you're using Steady Shots (our least damaging shot) while the buff is off.  However, while you can easily swap the placement of your Aimed Shots and Steady Shots to make sure you're not losing the buff during Aimed Shots, you don't want to have to delay your Chim Shot while waiting for the buff to come back up, since delaying Chim Shot for just a few seconds will result in a considerable DPS loss.  

Is Delaying Chimaera Shot Worth It?

Now, to be clear, in general, if it's a matter of delaying your chim shot 1 second, then it is going to be worth delaying it.  If you're going to need to delay it the full 3 seconds (to regain the buff) then it won't be worth it.  To come up with that conclusion, I looked at Chim Shot in 667 gear.  With the Sniper Training buff up the entire time, with 32% crit and 10.2% mastery, I was averaging about 60k damage per Chim Shot.  In this situation, my mastery was accounting for about 7k of my damage.

Each time I delay a Chim Shot, I'm chancing getting 1 less total chim shot.  In fact, if I delay  and even if I only delayed it by 1 second, if I do that nine times, then I've lost the damage of an entire chim shot.  If each of those 9 times, delaying Chim Shot by 1 second gets me my mastery buff, that's 7k more damage per shot, for a total of 63k damage, which is worth more than my average Chim Shot.

On the other hand, if we move that up to 2 seconds, we only have to delay it 4.5 times to lose an entire Chim Shot, and at that rate, the 7k damage buffs aren't going to be worth the delay.

The Ideal Situation

Regardless, we're still going to get our best DPS if we both don't delay Chim Shot, and always have the Sniper Training buff up when we use it.  So that should always be our goal.  The most obvious way to do this, is to never move.  Because there aren't any fights that you can get through without moving, we'll need to look at some other strategies for achieving the correct up-time on Sniper Training.

The best way to get through a fight is to simply aim for 100% up-time on sniper training by never moving for more than three seconds, and never moving for more than three seconds out of every 6 seconds.  For a lot of fights that simply involve not standing in the bad, this method is all you'll need.  
For fights with really heavy movement, however, there are simply going to be too many occasions where we need to move once, and then a second or two later, move again. So this next strategy allows plenty of time for movement, and is based around only standing still during double Steady Shots.  In general, especially at the beginning of the expansion, we'll always be using 2 steady shots every 9 seconds (during the CD of Chim Shot), unless we're during Careful Aim, or possibly Ancient Hysteria.  If we always use them back to back, and stand still during their duration, we'll can have the other 5.5 - 6 seconds free to move around, and we've only lost out on about 11% more damage to our Steady Shots, which only average around 6.8k damage each in the same gear.  That means we lose out on about 1600 damage every 9 seconds, or 177.78 DPS over the course of a fight.  

I'm not at all saying losing (almost) 200 dps is acceptable, but for the cost of being free to move around for 66% of the time, it's not a bad trade off.  Of course, if you can get away with the first method, never moving for more than 3 seconds and not moving more than once every 6 seconds, then you won't even have to think about which shots line up with the buff, and which don't.