Theorycrafting – Do It Right

With the launch of both the Unholy and Frost Cataclysm threads, there’s been a burst of discussion and theorycrafting regarding the new specs and playstyles – which is absolutely great. There’s no question that the community has a ton to talk about and that several different perspectives generally lead to more accurate results than any one individual trying to figure it all out on their own for themselves. Productive conversation is always terrific and much desired, and EJ does a better job at promoting such talk than any other site of its nature.

The issue which I want to address is when people, who are almost always well intentioned, try to raise a point or argue a fact but go about it in the completely wrong manner.

Ultimately these posts have a negative impact on everyone involved.  The poster in question generally ends up with an infraction or, worse yet, a ban, both of which are obviously quite undesirable. The average reader who sees such posts becomes confused or mislead with what may ultimately be false information, thus detracting from the actual purpose of the thread. The ongoing conversation will be interrupted or led astray. The more courteous, discerning posters may feel obliged to respond to said posts pointing out the errors (or, worse, ignoring the errors and addressing it anyways) which can end up with that person generally receiving a warning from the moderators.

You get the idea.

Making a claim or arguing a point is great to do, and I love to see it… but there’s right way and a wrong way to go about it. One just need to keep some basics in mind:

  • You need support.
    • You can’t just say “X outperforms Y” or “X should actually do this and not that”. You need to be able to back up your argument in some manner, be it with simulation support, raid parses, mathematical proof, or what have you. The vast majority of the time, all you need to do is provide a simple chain of logic going from the currently accepted base point of a subject to your conclusion! Whatever method is best appropriate or your personal preference doesn’t particularly matter so long as you use something. You can’t just make claims out of the blue, no matter who you may be – top end raider, popular poster, even myself (last thing I would wish to be is hypocritical). Think about it: you could easily make a post saying “Unholy is best off stacking agility”… and then the next person could state nothing more than “Unholy is best off stacking crit”. One line statements such as those just don’t work, as anyone can throw them around to say anything. And, no, prefacing a one liner with “My testing has shown…” or “According to the sim…” doesn’t actually make it any better unless you link to your testing, show an example of the sim results, or so on.
  • You need to be understandable.
    • You could stumble upon an idea which would revolutionize the way we play the class; perhaps you had an epiphany about how Frost could increase its performance by using Festering Strike or about how Unholy could gain dps by using Death and Decay on a single target. Something akin to Obliterate Unholy when it was first theorized. It wouldn’t do any good if people couldn’t understand what you were trying to get at; they might write it off as some unrealistic fantasy,  stupid trolling, or who knows what. Whatever you’re trying to get at when posting, make sure other people can figure it out!
  • You need to have your foundation straight.
    • You need to make sure that whatever base you are using to arrive at your conclusion is factual and accurate. This is one of the biggest issues with bad posts; they lead to more bad posts if someone tries to build off of them. If you saw someone say that Blood was actually best off tanking in Unholy Presence, don’t try to theorize off of that unless you’re sure it’s true. It seems obvious, but you would be surprised.

The main thing which I can’t emphasize enough is having support; you just can’t have a productive discussion without it, as it’s impossible to disprove/prove anything without backing.

The biggest offender of this is when people think they have support, but they actually don’t.

I’m talking, of course, about dummy testing.

Don’t get me wrong, dummy testing has its uses. It is a great tool for calculating spell-coefficients or ability interaction. It’s excellent for testing mechanics or functionality. It’s just fine for personal use in regards to learning or perfecting a new rotation.

It can do a lot of things, but it cannot be used to generate dps numbers or draw any conclusions – which tree outperforms another, which presence a specific build should run in, which type of weapon a spec in question should use, etcetera – based off those dps numbers. Period. This is unarguable; different trees, presences, weapons, and essentially everything scale differently in a raid situation than they do solo on a boss dummy. This is due to the presence of the dozens of raid buffs/debuffs, as well as individual fight mechanics and the like.

I’ll be honest: nothing frustrates me, personally, more than those who post based off dummy testing! It’s not simply a matter of you not adding anything productive to the conversation – although you don’t – but more that you’re misleading yourself and, potentially, others.

If this was a bit ranty or preachy, then I do apologize. I didn’t intend to come off as such… I didn’t even intend to delve into this subject, until a string of poor posts arose! The threads are new though, and I want them to get off to the best start they can. More than that, I want people to able to contribute to the best of their ability. Even more than that, I want people to be able to think properly for themselves, even if they don’t enter the discussion or even read my guides.

Although,  I don’t want to point out any specific posts (even if it is fairly obvious), the issue in question which brought about many of these posts are DW Frost running in Unholy Presence, as nearly all the posts attempting to promote it are horribly flawed in one manner or another (and will hopefully be deleted shortly so as to prevent misunderstandings). Suffice is to say it’s not optimal; although DW may be GCD capped, it’s just barely so, and can’t make enough use of the freed globals to outweigh the huge damage hit 10% attack speed and rune regeneration is compared to 10% damage and 10% runic power generation. You can test it out on Kahorie’s easily enough; I know I haven’t yet posted a BiS list, but a close example setup which has the optimal reforging and such done already can be found here for your use and proof. FP has a solid several hundred dps lead.

At any rate, whether or not you post at EJ, whether or not you comment here, and whether or not you even care about theorycrafting whatsoever, please do keep those three basics – support, understandability, and a sound foundation – in mind whenever you are trying to argue or show a point, be it in game or in life!

The world would be a better place if everyone did.

31 Responses to Theorycrafting – Do It Right

  1. Roth says:

    So I was doing this DW Frost dummy test in UP and I saw this post by GC! Did u read it?! (Sorry, I had to. Dont hurt me!)

  2. Andeus says:

    Well as much as I like theorycrafting there are times when EJ is….well, Elitist Jerks.

    For example in the past I’ve gotten an infraction because in one post I wrote “i” instead of “I”. The thing is, after my post there were a couple more with the same mistake, yet those got away with it.
    Also I believe I’ve seen a couple of good posts who want to get their ideas across but, even though they are good ideas, they don’t know how to back it up. Not everyone is the mathy type (myself included). In the end they got infractions but thankfully some other peeps steped up after them and got the whole math-parse thing for them.

    • Andeus says:

      Infraction: thankfully some other peeps steped up after them

      Reason: 1. All posters are to make an effort to communicate clearly.

      It’s “stepped” not “steped”.

      j/k 😛

    • Consider says:

      Although I’m not always a huge fan of how EJ’s moderation can be, and a situation such as you describe is quite silly, if someone bases a claim on dummy testing or, worse yet, nothing, I have no sympathy and, in all honesty, was probably the one to report their post in the first place!

      Not being a mathy type is just fine; you can base stuff on more than math. Simple logic works quite well. Or, even if you can’t connect all the dots, still just include a parse/sim (and perhaps others will see what you’re trying to get at, even if you can’t explicitly show it).

    • Jonneh says:

      The entire moderation system is a joke tbh. I got an infraction for using too many commas, and because I used a word in an English context.. not an American one. I just don’t post there any more, its not worth the stress! The pretentious nature of the moderator attitude is too much of a minefield to navigate.

      Not cool.

  3. Insolence says:

    Dummy Testing is hilarious, I constantly see posts by people “Why does my DPS suck?” And it turns out they’ve been hitting a Test Dummy for 30 minutes trying to somehow get the same DPS they’re getting in ICC ^^

    • Sag says:

      On that note destruction warlocks get bane of havoc, which acts kind of like a dps version of beacon of light. By all accounts it’s awesome, but only useful if there is more than 1 target. Against single targets it doesn’t change much of anything (rough guessing at how it will work here:, but against two target dummies a destruction lock could look awesome. I’m waiting to hear people complaining about it, even though on several bosses it won’t help at all becuase it won’t affect single target DPS.

  4. Frozen says:

    Yeah, I got an infraction for that post. >> ❤
    But then I figured out what was wrong. Still wanna see your 2H Frost setup!

  5. Magdalena of Turalyon says:

    I have to admit, I sometimes visit the EJ Banhammer thread just for chuckles.

    Today I found one that made me laugh for an entire minute:

  6. Wingwraith says:

    On the topic of elitist proofreading: Isn’t the correct phrase, “suffice it to say”? As opposed to “suffice is?


  7. Karesh says:

    Hmm two jokes about the grammar and stuff already 🙂
    As I have said before I am not a theorycrafter but I do enjoy reading up on it from time to time, but I will always perfer a solid guide over reading all the “bonus” posts afterwards. Most of the guides I find give me enough information so I will improve and that’s all I need. I like the way EJs work even though it is a bit if a wank but has to be done to try and keep the junk posts to a minimum.

    Happy birthday Consider and keep doing what ya do as it gives me a great read from day to day 🙂

  8. Noin says:

    EJ’s moderators are also very capricious. It’s quite clear their individual moods and such influence how they hand out infractions and such, though at least they’re honest about it most of the time.

    But yes, I haven’t bothered to post on EJ since I got an infraction for quoting individual paragraphs in response to a post. I realized it wasn’t worth the effort of trying to wade through whatever comically subjective and paranoid rules they came up with when they founded it, statutes probably conjured under the influence of alcoholic beverages or mood swings.

  9. Zao says:

    Excellent post, and something I wish MMOC posters would do more often (or the rules would give us a free enough hand to deal with it)

    I think you could also add the “check if it’s already been solved” thing.
    I’ve seen it far too often that people go great lengths about discussing a subject that’s long been solved or that has been deemed unsolvable.

    And depending on the topic, the whole discussion starts again. The GoDisease discussion for tanks (before IT buff) was something like this, and so is the hybrid gemming vs pure stamina gemming.

    It just costs a lot of time/space for something that could’ve been solved with a bit more searching.

  10. Minaka says:

    Um, Consider? Your Reforging picture appears( to me) to be just a stub, only showing a column of “Yes” and “No”s, and a column of “Crit to Mastery”s. The other columns aren’t in the picture at all.

  11. Magdalena of Turalyon says:

    At the risk of being accused of spamming (and this is the last one, I swear), I just had to share another EJ Bannhammer which made me laugh out loud:

    I’m also taking this opportunity to ask a question I’ve resisted asking for a very long time (due to how numbers are meaningless for almost all of the beta stage): How do the numbers for our DPS specs, assuming BiS ICC gear with optimal gemming/reforging in 4.0.1, look right now?

    This is obviously speaking as someone who intends to continue raiding ICC (the Shadowfrost Shard drop-rate has been unbelievably horrible) and possibly Ulduar until the patch hits.

    • waylandyr says:

      That’s a pretty epic ban. And I’m happy to see I’m not the only person wallowing in bad drop rates. NGL though, I’d kill for another week before 4.0.1 so I can run a single night of Blood DPS before it goes byebye.

  12. Belligerence says:

    I, while neither posting on EJ or any other DK related theorycraft forums, am known to lurk like a champ to help out my game play and I have a question about dummy testing. Is there a downside to using Recount numbers of the boss dummies to gauge where I am with a spec or rotation? I know not to compare numbers to actual raids, but I try and beat my old numbers when I try something new. I also do comparisons to sims like Mr. Robot to see where I stand. Is the data I get worthless?

  13. Aryos says:

    Hey Consider, have you done anything on a general DK leveling experience throughout cata with the new changes and how each spec has its ups and down, Unholy with pet, Frost with OaPH, Blood being blood etc.

    Some people have been claiming DKs down time to be annoying etc and i was wondering what your opinions on the current situation is and how you’ve faired.

    PS. Happy birthday!

    • ODK says:

      Thats why for leveling you put your extra points into Frost > Lichborne and OaPH are extreemly good leveling talents, the icy reach is also a great utility and the runic will help you empower your ghoul more often cause things are going to die so fast while leveing, that having the ability to fire off 3 DC in a row to start will really help you get ghoul empowered for the next group and such…also Endless winter, this helps keep runic for ghoul, one of my favorite utility talents – or just 7 in frost and 3 in bladed armor if you want to reach for as much as you can, when leveling you really dont need to min/max, utility is generally better…

      This is all opinion, but im also positive OaPH will speed up questing by a decent amount (id guess around about ~15% (20% mount speed with travel being the largest part of questing)

      Lichborne to kill that downtime with extra runic that your holding in your extra tank… 4+ heals, can heal yourself with the deaths embrace minor glyph and return enough runic to maby even empower your ghoul from a full tank just in heals…if you dont need the health you ghoul could possibly use a boost…

      seems like a good way to go for leveling, if they rearrange frost and put the utility in first tier, were in heaven…

  14. Magdalena of Turalyon says:

    As they say in my language: Saalgira Mubarik Consider! Hope you have an awesome day! Our collective present shall be NOT expecting a blog post for today- you deserve to celebrate.
    Don’t think this lets you off the hook for the days following, however…

    P.S. Cheesecake Factory birthday cake. That is all.

  15. Andeus says:

    Happy Birthday.

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