Philosophies towards certain things in World of Warcraft that some players don’t think about.

How cookie cutter builds discourage player customization has an excellent article emphasizing how combat logs always trump simulations and how players get on a bandwagon without evaluating the underlying data.

How cookie cutter builds discourage player customization



World of Warcraft went backwards with loot

One of the supposed improvements with Warlords of Draenor was loot would drop and you wouldn’t have to run off and reforge it before using it.  To get the numbers to reforge it you’d normally use an external application or website.

Now in Warlords of Draenor with gem sockets and warforged you still need to be using external applications or websites or have your spreadsheet handy for die hard theorycrafters.  This is where mathematics come into play.  While you’re best secondary stat might be X followed by Y that doesn’t mean in the overall mathematics of things that a gem socket and especially a gem socketed warforged wouldn’t trump what you “think” is your best item.

Let’s start with some basics ideas to introduce why the new loot system isn’t much better than what we had before:

Almost all simulations rank secondary stats from 0 to 1.  The best is 1 and the worst is 0.  Blizzard tries to keep the stats fairly close to 1, but it’s not surprising to see 0.5 to 1 ranges on some specs.

Let’s say your item has X stat of 250 with a value of 1 and Y stat of 100 with a value of 0.8.  Overall it has a value of 330 (250 multiplied by 1 added to 100 multiplied by 0.8 equals 330).

Now here’s where the math comes into play.  Adding up all secondary stats you want the highest total.  Normally that works out you want the two top stats closest to 1, but adding a socket generally will make 2 weaker stats plus the 75 best stat from the epic gem overall better in many cases.

Let’s say now the item has a value of 175 of stat Y with a value of 0.8 and 175 of stat Z with a value of 0.7 but it has a gem socket.  Just from those two stats you have 262.5.  Add in a gem socket of 75 stats of X at 1 and you now have an item worth 337.5 that’s greater than your two best stats on your previous item.  That’s not a huge gain, but still better than what you had before.  Add in a warforged gem socket and it’s actually much better than what your “best in slot” list probably shows when comparing non-gem socketed, non-warforged items.

This doesn’t apply to odd situations like proving grounds, challenge modes, and timewalking because they have scaling/disabling of gems in them, but for current raiding the bottom line is DO THE MATH!

How to set up Bigwigs

I’ll attempt a basic guide to setting up BigWigs for people who download it and still haven’t seen the usefulness of “emphasize.”

My basic UI

Type /bigwigs to bring up the configuration

Click Toggle Anchors and look through the options on left side to position bars where needed.

Here I’ve set up my bars/radar/notifications and clicked several “create test bars”

This is when everything is “emphasized” for certain abilities. Very important cause we’ll turn on certain things for “emphasize” a bit later.

Now click “bosses” in the configuration.

Now we’re going to set up individual alerts to draw even more attention to certain aspects of fights like Cats fixating on Mythic Kargath or Arcane debuffs on Mythic Twins.

Clicking the red arrow next to the ability brings up options. “Only when on me” and “Emphasize” are really important. Who cares if a cat is fixating on someone else? “Only when on me” is good for this. “Emphasize” and “pulse” it when available to make it impossible to ignore/tunnel through.

Twin Ogron Arcane Volatility On YOU! “Emphasize” that sucker so you get out of raid faster!

Removing the sound when a spell is not ready.

Spell Not Ready Casting Cancel Silence

That is not an addon, but actually files that will play in substitution of the default “fizzle” sounds.  They don’t install in the \Interface\AddOns folder but in the World of Warcraft\ folder so pay attention to the instructions.  Eliminate those unnecessary distracting noises so you concentrate on hearing the ones you need.

They no longer go into the World of Warcraft\Data folder, but directly into the World of Warcraft\ folder since 6.0.2.

Clicking vs Keybinding and why you should keybind

You should keybind.  The best way that I got out of the mouse clicking habit was leveling a new character using only keybinds.  You only get a few abilties to keybind at a time while leveling so it’s not near as daunting as a max level character with dozens of abilities.  All the “I can mouse click as good as you key bind” arguments and why they’re false are in the videos and articles below.

Additional videos:

Articles on keybinding:

Communication for raids.

Communication for raids is vital. Here I’ll list and compare based on my experience the top voice communication programs I’ve run across in WoW. The list descends by my user experience. (Top being the best.)

Discord is probably the best voice chat app I’ve run across so far.  I consider it a hybrid between Skype and Ventrilo.  It has multiple clients (mac, pc, mobile, and browser-only).  Some of my guild has been using the browser and not even downloading the app.  The UI is slick compared to some of the old dinosaurs like TS3, Ventrilo, Mumble.  It’s free with no channel limitations so you can always stick the entire guild in there without having to kick someone.

Skype is good for arenas. Costs actual money above 10 players online. Not really a useful guild organizational communication program, but you run across it a lot on PvP servers. VoIP.

Curse Voice is new.  It allows grouping for games.  No cost, but unless it’s changed recently it doesn’t allow channels and doesn’t have a mac client.

TeamSpeak3 is the descendant of my first voice communication program in classic World of Warcraft. My next choice after raid call would be this one. Easy setup. Low latency. Server costs unfortunately. My favorite of the older non-VoIP crowd. Channel setup. I like to describe it as vent easy for setup without vent lag issues.

Mumble is super low latency. Channel setup. Requires a server so costs involved. It has a downside. A very serious downside. Setup is horrible. I had no problem, but expect some raiders to never get it figured out. I advise not adopting this one unless all your raiders are top notch and even then use raid call or teamspeak3.

Ventrilo is the standard. It’s also a dinosaur. You can google the tests (I conducted my own which agree) that ventrilo has between a .5 to 2.5 second delay. I’m chocking this up to the codec/server coding used, but regardless that delay is very seriously noticeable during split second communications. If you are currently using ventrilo I recommend you look at raid call or teamspeak3. Both are better than vent and are near instantaneous in comparison to this dinosaur.

Raid Call is a new entrant on the communication scene and has some limitations.  It uses flash which is the most exploited software over the past 20 years it’s been out.  Every week there’s new exploits revealed.  Even Google, Facebook, and Mozilla have come out against flash.  It also doesn’t have a mac client which for some games is a huge issue for communication.

TL;DR: Discord is the newest and best voice communication software for gaming I’ve seen for World of Warcraft and it’s free. Anyone using anything else should think about switching over to it.

Skada vs Recount vs client

I have completely stopped using dps meters in game.  Let’s delve into why and how it impacts my game.

Skada we all know is “like” Recount.  Skada takes total damage and divides it by total time in combat.  Simple enough.  It has most the options that Recount has after that point.  It appears that Skada is always lower on the almighty CPU usage.

Recount is the standard for most WoW users I suspect.  It doesn’t count dead time nor downtime.  If you notice you generally are higher on Recount than Skada.  My favorite example is the ret paladin who will pull 150k in an LFR with righteous fury then die.  Recount shows 150k yet Skada will be much, much lower since his dps dropped to zero after his death.

On to a more nefarious thought:  Both of these addons have to do all their calculations in between game frames.  That means before the next frame (think fps here) is drawn the calculations have to be completed.  Repeat, repeat, repeat…  This can affect fps.  I upload all my combat logs to so I finally adventured to using their client and uploading the live logs.  (AutoCombatLogger is excellent to turn on/off your combatlog automatically while client waits to upload them.)  When combat ends, the full advanced combat logs are available and processed ready to look at.  The game fps is higher now, plus is much easier to click through or share the link in game to the logs.

I encourage anyone who wants to get better at the game to upload combat logs.  When people ask me for help on encounters or rotations the first thing I ask is for combat log links.  My favorite saying, “Whatever it is I’ll find it.  The logs don’t lie.”  Comparing combat logs over a month time is really revealing in comparison to in game dps meters which are generally reset after a certain time/number of encounters.  I also encourage if you have the bandwidth to go into the network settings and select “Advanced Combat Logging.”  This gives more information than is even available to the in-game dps meters.

For example:  Advanced Combat Logging and uploading to showed a warrior tank who was sitting at max rage for minutes at a time.  Apparently he was just hitting rage builders and no consumers.  I pointed it out and he changed how he does things.  His survivbility went up along with his threat.  I ran into that tank in a flex pug I happened into.  You can get a long ways in this game without perfecting your game play.  I’m not sure outside of casts/buffs it’d have been that easy to spot with the in-game meters.  Maybe looking at logs presented with graphs/charts would help some of your raid members even if your’re as good as you can be?

Bartender4 vs Dominos vs Default Blizzard Action Bars.

I generally prefer the default Blizzard Action Bars because when you get into a vehicle it shows the energy or whatnot that Blizzard wanted you to see.  Bartender4 and Dominos are very popular and I suspect most people probably use one of them so I’ll explain the underlying difference between the two and how it can impact raiding.

Here are the crib notes for the 3 varieties of action bars:

The Blizzard default action bars are extremely large and take up a lot of valuable real estate on your screen, but since they’re designed by Blizzard they won’t break during reloads in combat and never need updating.  They also show exactly what Blizzard wanted you to see.

Bartender4 creates its own frames and keybinds to them.  This creates issues if the addon breaks due to a major patch since all your keybinds set up for custom Bartender 4 frames.

Dominos re-uses as much as possible from the Blizzard code so when the addon breaks all your keybinds are still bound to the default action bars and saved server-side.  Between Bartender4 and Dominos this is the best-selling point in my book.  There are reports of Dominos being easier on the almighty cpu usage since all it’s doing is moving Blizzard’s action buttons versus making new frames.

Bottom line:  In case of disconnect and you have to come into a fight IN COMBAT then default Blizzard action bars are best, dominos is next best, and bartender makes you a worthless raider since you can’t create new protected frames in combat.  As far as functionality I found that dominos and bartender4 are almost identical enough not to worry about anything.

WoW’s taint system, addons, and why classic was so much easier.

There used to be a time in WoW’s history where one button could change to do everything you ever needed.  It could dispel on demand and target the person automatically, it could change depending on your ability cooldowns.   What you never see spoken in those we killed X boss 40 man videos…”with some people only using one or two buttons.”  Blizzard stopped allowing that with their “taint” system.

Probably few know about taint, but they probably know the effects of it:

  • Talent and glyphs won’t change.
  • Quest items on the Objectives tracker won’t work.
  • Random “[ADDON_ACTION_BLOCKED] AddOn” errors.
  • Raid frame issues in combat with people coming/going (targeting wrong people/missing frames/strata issues).

“When WoW starts executing lua code, the execution starts off ‘secure’, and able to run protected functions. Execution remains secure until it encounters ‘taint’ – which is an indicator that a function or object came from an untrusted (AddOn or /script) source. The basic idea is that execution becomes ‘tainted’ as soon as it reads tainted data or executes tainted code, and any data written by a tainted execution is itself tainted. Protected functions refuse to operate when called from an execution path that is not secure.” –

What that boils down to is if you can /reload and if something does work again then you “tainted” something previously.  I check for taint with my taintlog using “/console taintLog 1”.  Then I look for messages like action blocked or uidropdown.  I’ll use clique as an example.  It works perfectly until you bring up it’s setup.  Once you’ve done that you tainted the uidropdown global and everything starts downhill from there.  This is the message my taintlog shows after opening the clique setup menu (“/clique”).

You probably don’t realize it, but that UIDROPDOWN variable is called on any frame you have drop down menus.  Think right click drop downs or button drop downs.  That is a lot of frames that gets taint all because you decided to “/clique” without “/reload”.

Even the addons I use cause taint indirectly, but I know when they do it and I /reload afterwards.  Anytime you access the interface menu (Default is ESC > Interface) and have any addons it will taint the uidropdown global variable.  I get in the habit of /reload after I click the interface button and change anything.  I suggest you get in that habit too.

The addons I use not only perform a function, but outside of the interface menu don’t create taint issues.  I “/reload” every time I access the interface meu.

Addons that replace Blizzard frames

In my UI I try to use as much of WoW’s default frames that I can. I do alter some by scaling or repositioning. The reasoning for this is simple: major patches don’t break them nor are they “missing” certain things that blizzard expects you to have.

Vehicle fights

I remember back in ulduar when some people couldn’t see the energy of their vehicles on the first boss nor did they have an updated mod that changed into the vehicle action bar when they hopped on. We wasted time waiting to have them download the newest version which didn’t fix the issue because they needed to download a beta or alpha version or it wasn’t available at all.  Malygos targeting of the drakes proved strange for some raid frame addOns as well.  Anyone with default frames even back then had no issue.  Blizzard makes sure that whatever targeting you need during a vehicle fight works.

Missing components

I was using a player and target frame add-on to level in jade forest when I came across a quest that had a balance bar. Unfortunately I found the quest impossible to do without the extra bar. I turned off the add-on and one-shot the quest. This reminded me of ulduar. I had the newest version available, yet I didn’t have an additional module for it just to display this one bar.  Some buffs/debuffs don’t show up on raid frames unless specifically added.  Some weird mechanics like absorb shields are strange on some encounters.

Completely broken mods

If mods break you can just turn them off and still be 100%? I don’t think so. When you keybind using add-ons or set up additional action bars those all can disappear when you turn them off or they break. Now we’re talking wasted time while you quickly redo or keybind the default action bars again. If you’re one who logs on just in the nick of time for raids you’re either sitting out or everyone’s waiting for you. That’s just for action bars. Anything else you’re used to being in a certain place may not be there or be presented in a different fashion. Try making cool macros in some add-ons and have the add-on break.

Lazy Authors?

Don’t forget that as World of Warcraft ages some authors leave the game.  Others pick up the addOn and “maintain” it as best they can.  Some only sub for new content.  That “fix” for whatever you need might be a while before it gets released.  The default frames are always ready.

Why the default frames?

Blizzard frames are pretty good anymore. At one time I wouldn’t have said that. What I do use occasionally are add-ons that give benefit to the Blizzard frames or ones that do things the default frames won’t do. The worse thing you can do is have an important role on raid night and waste other people’s time by your add-on choices. You get frustrated toward the add-ons, everyone else is frustrated for you not being ready, and all that happens is wasted time. There’s no wasted time when my UI doesn’t change much when add-ons break.