Thursday, October 02, 2014

Existing Theorycraft or Your Own Work

Massively's Daily Grind asks
Do you do your own class or skill testing in your favorite game, or do you make use of theorycrafters and their research? 
Here's my approach to class builds and rotations:

I take a first pass on my own, making my own build and rotation. Then I go to the theorycraft sites and see how and why their optimum build differs from mine.  Usually I'm close, but I've misunderstood exactly how some abilities work. Or perhaps I miss a combination of abilities or another trick. Finally, there are some results which are just plain counter-intuitive, but fall out from the math, and get proven by parses. Seeing the "optimal" build and reasoning explains what I don't understand correctly.

Sometimes the theorycrafters value something higher than I do. For example, I tend to prefer passive abilities over active ones because I'm not good at hitting abilities perfectly, so an ability that's always on often works better for me. Fewer buttons for the win! But very good edge players often prefer the control given by the active ability, and are good enough to weave the extra button into their rotation seamlessly.

I think this approach is better than: a) not checking and unknowingly using a suboptimal layout;  or b) blindly copying whatever Elitist Jerks or the forums say. Making your own build first, and then checking for differences leads to a stronger understanding of the game as a whole.


  1. I have a similar approach at least for group content. If I end up raiding or running heroic group content or equivalent - something where performance matters - then I check my current solo/small group build against any suggested builds for discrepancies.

    I'm the same with passive/active. I am useless at remember to trigger trinket buffs as part of a rotation so always prefer good passive/stat bonuses instead.

    I tend to be a lot more "DIY" with builds when not playing such group content though, online builds are reserved for when it matters more.

  2. This is, in my mind, the perfect approach.

    As an old "get-off-my-lawn" codger, I think back to the days of vanilla and Burning Crusade, when online guides were rare. You had to figure out much of it on your own. I thought it was fun.

    Now, the omnipresence of online guides makes them essentially mandatory. If you ignore them and use a suboptimal rotation or enchant or gem, you'll get called on it.

    I often think that the the use of online guides has taken some of the fun from the game. I also recognize the reality that you can't get rid of them.

    Your approach balances the two. I like it.

  3. Yup, I do much the same. It's fun trying to puzzle these things out, and then validating it against something else. I also find that because I know the nitty-gritty details of WHY my rotation is what it is, it allows me to "off-road" more effectively, like changing between AoE and single target, DPSing on the move, etc.

    As for active vs. passive, I personally prefer active, controlled boosts, but as you mention, I guess I'm pretty good at remembering to use those extra abilities. When I'm learning a new class or spec, I definitely prefer passive effects.