Best in Slot – What, How, Why

I had my wisdom teeth taken out this morning and, as such, in a bit of pain. Thus, if any of this seems a bit poorly written, oh well. Hopefully it makes enough sense to get my point across.

And what, exactly, is the point to this piece?  To discuss the previously released BiS lists; what they are, how they’re determined, and why they’re of any value.

What exactly is a Best in Slot list?

To be as specific as possible: a BiS list is a gear set up which, when taken as a whole, theoretically provides the greatest single target dps, on paper while ignoring abnormal and personal circumstances, for a specific spec. If you have all gear available to you, you play the class properly, and you don’t have any special issues (high latency, unusual raid composition, etc), then a BiS list should maximize your single target damage moreso than any other possible combination of items.

Nothing more. Nothing less.

It is not gear which will magically make your dps increase ten-fold, nor is it a set which will provide every player with their highest potential damage. It’s not immune to the pitfalls of good ol’ RNG, and the items which make up the set are not necessarily optimal when taken individually.

How are Best in Slot lists determined?

With ease; all you need to do is figure out the appropriate stat weights, and then plug them into a spreadsheet or a program such as Zerack’s Optimizer (which is my personal favorite).

That answer, however, begs the question: how do you determine the appropriate stat weights? With ease! All you need to do is figure out the BiS gear, and then plug it into a simulator such as Kahorie’s (which is my personal favorite).

At this point, most see what appears to be the obvious flaw of the system – it’s all circular logic. You need to know stat weights to calculate BiS, but you need to know BiS to calculate stat weights. You can’t calculate one without already knowing the other, and you can’t already know the other without having already calculated one. It’s a rather tricky puzzle if ever there were one, but it’s not entirely unmanageable.

To handle this conundrum, start by picking one of the two variables – stat weights or BiS gear – and take the most educated and intelligent guess you can. Personally, I start with choosing a BiS list. It’s much easier to guess what gear is or isn’t desirable than it is to tell off the top of your head what a specific stat weight is to the second decimal (which is the point at which I would consider results sufficiently accurate and telling). After all, 75% of the BiS list is nothing more than the highest ilvl plate dps option for that slot, and although some slots have multiple options and others may have a attractive non-plate alternative, if you did nothing but got all ilvl 277/284 str dps gear, you wouldn’t be all that far off from reality. If, on the other hand, you tried to start with stat weights, you have no training wheel like ilvl to ensure even the most minor level of accuray.

Once you have your guesttimated list, you then proceed to generate stat weights off of it.

Once you have your guesttimated-BiS-derived stat weights, then proceed to generate an actual BiS list off of it.

Once you have your actual BiS list generated via your guesstimated-BiS-derived stat weights, then proceed to generate a more accurate set of weights.

So on and so forth; you continue the process until gear stops changing in your BiS list and stats stop changing in your weights. You have to be sure to notice trends in the stat weights though – if a certain stat keeps outpacing the others as you refine BiS, that means it scales better and thus might be worth stacking, which could radically change everything. ArP is the only current example of this issue, but it’s still something you need to keep in mind.

At the end of the day, done properly, you’ll always get the same BiS list and the same stat weights with such a method, as long as your initial ‘guess’ wasn’t something just completely off (i.e, all leather, stacking crit rating, choosing caster gear, or some other ridiculous gear choice).

Why bother with Best in Slot lists?

After all, the process by which they’re determined is rather loose. It’s certainly not iron-clad, and is very susceptible to user error.

Even when ignoring that, a BiS list has a fair share of faults – it’s not (necessarily) optimal for multi-target oriented fights, it’s not (necessarily) optimal if you don’t have every single piece of it, and it’s not always the best for every single person. It’s just not perfect.

But a BiS list has many virtues: You can plan out your gear in an organized and intelligent fashion, meaning you don’t have to waste drops which other people may benefit from more and you would only use temporarily, thus not just letting you gear up as quickly and optimally as possible, but permitting your guild as a greater whole to do so. You can maximize your damage on single target fights (it’s essentially impossible to do so on multi-target encounters, for an incredibly large list of reasons). You can optimize aspects of your characters such as gems and enchants, which is rather difficult to do without actual stat weights.

You can take comfort in knowing that you’re setting yourself up to perform as best as possible, and that your damage will reflect as such.

I see that as plenty of reason to calculate and make use of them, myself.

Going Forward

I do plan on doing 10m-only variation(s) of the Unholy lists, and then doing all dozen or whatever variations I currently have of Unholy for Frost (considering Darkside, who runs the Frost dps thread at EJ, doesn’t usually bother with BiS lists, due to the perceived and actual faults). The first will take less than an hour, once I actually get around to doing it, while the second will take a bit more time – although I’m knowledgeable of Frost, I’m just slightly more versed on Unholy, and thus doing Frost could take a bit longer.

At any which rate, expect all of it – those last two for Unholy and all of them for Frost – to be done by the end of the weekend.

Although I see little to gain from calculating Blood BiS, I would be happy to do tanking ones if anyone would like – variations like max EH, max EH + hit cap, max EH + exp cap, max EH + exp cap + hit cap, max Avoidance, max Avoidance + hit cap, max Avoidance + exp cap, and max Avoidance + exp cap + hit cap. Whatever can be mathematically optimized!


6 Responses to Best in Slot – What, How, Why

  1. Baphomette says:

    I completely lost my memory of the day I had my wisdom teeth out, which is probably for the best. Took a sedative in the morning cause of my needlephobia, which I guess reacted with the anesthetic or something. I spent all afternoon puking, I’m told, but I have no recollection of it.

    So all told if you can write up a coherent post like this, you’re doing pretty well 🙂

    I certainly appreciate the expt-capped variations you’ve been putting out among everything else.

  2. Zeran says:

    Hand holding (or otherwise infractable) question time. Why does Kahorie’s simulator give me unrealistic values for expertise (currently I’m capped at 26 but it wants to say that expertise is weighted at 2.89)? In my understanding expertise above 26 (not rating) is a waste unless you can’t get behind the boss, correct?

    • Consider says:

      Kahorie’s automatically sets your expertise to 0 when calculating its stat weight (and the same for hit), just as it automatically caps expertise (and hit) when calculating the other stats. No error in the sim, just how it handles things.

  3. Baadshah of Dawnbringer says:

    My sympathies about the wisdom teeth- I know first hand how painful it can be! Be sure not to OD too much on painkillers (yes, it’s horribly tempting) and drink plenty of cold water!

    On topic:

    I’d also like to make two suggestions with regards to sims, spreadsheets and other tools which you use when determining the value of upgrades.

    Firstly, I’d like to see a post by you regarding your thoughts on some of the more popular tools out there and how you think they compare with each other. To be a little more specific, in terms of how accurate you feel they are, what their individual strengths and weaknesses are (you could use a table or chart here) and which ones you’d give your personal “stamp of approval”.
    You could also mention external factors that might affect the sims such as extra RP being available, having no Draenei (poor Horde!) in the raid, etc.

    Secondly, when you think you have more time on your hands, I would like to suggest writing tutorials on how exactly to use some of these spreadsheets and sims (and of course, which ones and how many overall is entirely at your discretion).

    The reason I am making these suggestions is because I remember how much trial and error, trawling and time I had to spend when first learning to use these tools by myself (especially since they were all scattered over the web). Don’t get me wrong, I am glad I was able to figure it out myself, and I think it made me a better player in the end.
    Having said that, I also feel that large amounts of the DK community are simply unwilling to or don’t have the time to painstakingly do every “qatra” (as we’d say) of research. Having guides to these tools on one site and having detailed explanations for them would go a long way towards improving the overall quality of DKs out there!

    And in case I haven’t already said it, thanks for the lists!

  4. Jonneh says:

    Why is expertise valued so little? I’m finding myself really GCD locked at the moment, 5 expertise is going to make that _worse_. I already rue the odd dodge with my 23 expertise!

    On a side note, in 2 weeks or so, I’m about to waste a legendary on our crappy uncompetative single target dps unholy spec. Yay me!

    • Baadshah of Dawnbringer says:

      You essentially answered your own question: GCDs.

      A similar question (about why Expertise went up in value with Disc Priests and Resto Druids) was asked in an earlier post, and here is the response I gave:

      Basically, it is normally assumed you won’t have a lot of outside RP streaming in, and so a few dodges are completely manageable with all the empty GCDs you’ll have. In your case however, being GCD locked means Expertise goes up in value.

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