More on melee combat

As some of you may have noticed, Sid67 and I went a few rounds of discussion about what was basic and what was advanced.  Rereading it I found a few points each of us got… well, for me I was wrong and for him I think he got tangled.  So I’m going to do what amounts to a basic rewrite.  Again, we’re sticking to below 20 for a moment, and this is meant to be generally applicable to all classes.

The first thing I want to touch on is this thing we call DPS.  Damage Per Second.  How much damage do you do over time?  It’s this that allows comparisons of combat to be at least nominally apples to apples.  Now, we don’t really put out the same amount of damage every second.  At the lowest level of differentiation, our damage causers do ranges of damage – 28 to 48 for example.  So we average it as a first step – 38, in our example.  Then we divide by the weapon speed for our notional DPS.  Or at least, we could, but there’s more.

This is the point Sid was raising – that any damage you do should also include your innate damage from your Attack Power.  Now at the surface level attack power is tremendously easy to incorporate.  14 AP — or if the elitist jerks are right, 14.0066 attack power — will increase your total DPS by one.  In reality… no it doesn’t, which is why I was leaving it off.  What AP really does is increase your damage by a constant amount, which amount is:  AP/14 * Weapon Speed.  As a brief interjection here – this isn’t recalculated in combat.  So if you get hit with a haste spell, the AP doesn’t modify to reflect the new weapon speed so as to maintain the ‘normal’ DPS rate.

This info took me a long time to grasp a year or two ago, so I innately consider it confusing.  Your increased damage from AP keeps the same DPS regardless of weapon speed when you change weapons.  Fast or slow, it’s the same.  What CHANGES is how much actual damage it adds to any given attack.  The slower your weapon, the bigger the actual damage from AP.

This, by the way, gets important when you’re playing for Big Hits.  A REALLY slow weapon – say, 3.9 – can easily kick the damage from AP waaaay beyond what the actual weapon is doing.  (140 AP on that weapon is doing 39 more points of damage.  A crit is 78 points on top of the actual weapon crit.  At the level where you’ve “only” got 140 AP, that’s a lot.  Let’s put it this way… my level 16 shaman already has 104 AP.  And 409 health.  See the pain?)

So, your actual damage is from both the weapon AND from attack power.  Well, sorta.

The next level of confusion is “white” vs “yellow” damage.  I’m going to keep it simple here, with the caveat that it can and will get complex and confuse the issue mightily.  White damage is “normal” attacks, and yellow is “special” attacks.  A special attack is – simplistically (and with a few variances) anything that is either a “proc” (on hit, chance of, and so forth) or happens when you click a button.  “Normal” is, well, mostly from the autoattack, plus a few odds and ends that also slide in there.  Note that when we add magic damage in, it gets even uglier.  Thing is that at the beginning level we can ignore most of it.  Instead, we really only need know two things:  1)  White damage is what your weapon plus AP generate.  2) White damage can crit, yellow cannot.

So anyway, now we know that your damage is weapon damage plus AP damage, and it is white so it can crit.  At this point we can figure out your nominal damage – expressed as dps.  It is weapon dps plus AP dps.  If you are dual wielding – level 40 for shaman, level 20 for warriors, and I can’t recall the level for rogues and others – your nominal dps is main hand weapon DPS plus 1/2 off hand weapon DPS plus 1.5 * AP DPS.

Now right away, you see the reason so many folk jump for dual wield weapons.  Remember that the nominal change from one hand weapon and two hand weapon is 1 to 1.33 DPS, and the AP DPS remains the same.  (actual damage per attack changes, DPS remains the same.)  Dual wield, on the other hand, has 1.5 weapon DPS AND 1.5 AP DPS.  Yeah, looks grand, doesn’t it.

Now, I know there’s a huge flaw.  And it’s due to the way combat rolls in.  I demonstrated the flaw in the earlier post with “just” the miss rate.  It’s what equalizes the whole thing, you see.  Sid wanted me to also include block and dodge and parry values.  I’m going to say that FOR NOW getting into them is immaterial (for the most part) because they’re the same.  However, I will digress for just a moment to explain why.

We Think (we in this case meaning a LOT of theorycrafters, most smarter and more experienced than me) that white damage is done on a one-roll table, with a cap of 100.  Now what this means is we set a range of 0 to X as hit, X+1 to Y as crit, Y to 100 has miss.  Or at least that’s the basic deal.  Now, we can stick things in the middle – that is, we can add any range (call it ZZ) we want between X and Y.  What it does is shove everything down, so new X now becomes old X – ZZ.  It is possible to shove “hit” right off the table with blocks and parries and crits and …  Notice, please, that both defenses and ‘extra damage types’ are added to the table – they come from each.  Now I want to add two more pieces of information, not to confuse (though it probably will) but to close the circle.  First, when you have gear with “+ hit”, it isn’t, really.  It’s really, “- miss”.  Since it shrinks the miss, it moves Y up closer to 100 – and everything below it moves up that much as well.  Second, block is weird.  If a block is indicated it’s really a hit, but part of the damage (beyond what’s reduced by armor) is reduced.  Further than that is for later.

Anyway, the important thing is that hit and crit and miss are pretty much always on the table, and nothing else is certain.  Which means in the discussion I’m about to chase, i don’t think block, parry, and so forth are critical elements for final calculation.  They increase the miss, but they do it for ALL the weapons EQUALLY.

In fact, the only thing that is NOT the same between weapons (1H, 2H, and DW) is that DW has an additional 19% added to the “miss” block.  In other words, while 1H and 2H are at base 90% hit, 5% crit, and 5% miss, DW is 71% hit, 5% crit, and 24% miss.

And this is important for estimating your what I call “Real” DPS.  That is, DPS modified by normally expected hits.

Let’s run numbers using the base hit/crit/miss, and see what it does for DPS.  We need to start, of course, by creating our base DPS.  Let’s make our 1H 10 DPS WS2, our 2H 13 DPS WS3, and our AP 70 (5 DPS).  Now to run the numbers – first time with full explanation in line, the rest with the same pattern and explanations only as needed.

1H is:  (10 wpn + 5 ap) * (.90 hit + .1 crit [that’s 0.5, but double damage, effective .1]) = 15 dps.

2H is: (13 + 5) * (.9 + .1) = 18 dps.

DW is (10 + 5 [offhnd wpn] + 5 + 2.5 [offhand ap]) * (.76 + .1) = 19.35 dps.

Yes, this means when you get it all in place, DW beats both 1H and 2H for white damage — my earlier post was misleading.  (and I’ll try to get an edit for later readers.)  On the other hand, it’s not a HUGE gain – not in white damage.

BIG POINT TO REMEMBER – we STILL don’t have everything.  What we’ve done, however, is kicked the white damage part about as far down the road as possible.  But we’ve left out talent and gear modifiers – nothing about stances that may give one or another a change, nothing about weapon specialties or such.  Just the basics.

SECOND POINT TO REMEMBER – your dps will differ.  Your AP will not be 70, and you will almost certainly not be choosing between 10 and 13 dps weapons.  And some of the actual choices available may make the your short-term decisions different – counterintuitive to what’s demonstrated above.  I hope that given what’s above you can make useful decisions when choices are presented.  But all that said, I want you to remember

THE MOST IMPORTANT POINT.  It’s a game.  It’s the game YOU pay to play.  If you choose to play wearing no armor and never using any weapon with metal in it… that is your prerogative.  HAVE FUN.

Seriously – have fun.

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~ by Kirk on May 14, 2008.

6 Responses to “More on melee combat”

  1. I believe that many “yellow” (special) attacks can crit. I’ve certainly seen stormstrike and windfury do so.

    Some special attacks are based on weapon damage, but most of those are “normalized” around a theoretical base weapon speed by weapon type. For example, swords are treated as 2.0 speed for an attack like Sinister Strike.

  2. Gotta love the Gutrot reference ( http://forums.wow-europe.com/thread.html?topicId=17702127&sid=1 ).

  3. Andris – All white damage can crit. Some yellow can crit. The readings I’ve made indicate there are more yellows that can not than that can which is why I write it up that way. Yes, there are yellows that can crit. But you cannot apply it wholesale, and so must differentiate as to whether it is or is not crit possible when determing potential outcomes.

  4. The reason dual-wield wins over everything else is not because it has substantially better dps, but because it has vastly better consistency. Consistency is king in pve.

    Consider a hypothetical 3.0 speed 2-hander. In any given 6 seconds of combat vs a mob that can parry, the 2h has a 2.25% chance of doing ZERO damage (.15 ^ 2). Those lost swings cannot proc windfury or other weapon effects, and won’t crit for reduced shock damage. Unlucky streaks like that can turn random mob fights into close calls or deaths.

    Now consider a set of dual-wield 2.0 speed weapons (doing the same long-term damage as the 2h). In those same 6 seconds, the dual-wielder only has a 0.06% chance to fail to land an attack (.29 ^ 6). The damage is MUCH smoother, making it much easier to answer the question: “Can I kill this mob?”

  5. Much better. You also insipred me to write an article JUST about Attack Power. Which (as you point out) is confusing and yet simple (after all, we just need more of it, right?).

    http://serialganker.blogspot.com/2008/05/you-me-attack-power-and-dupree.html

  6. The only significant differences between white and yellow damage are that 1) white damage generates rage, for classes that have rage. Yellow does not. 2) White damage uses a 1-roll system. Yellow damage uses a 2-roll system (probably) 3) Yellow damage, even using abilities that take advantage of dual-wielding, never take the dual-wield penalty to-hit.

    The only things in the game that cannot crit are periodic abilities, by which I mean damage over time, heal over time, and damage reflection without charges, and the rare abilities that don’t make hit checks at all (the only one that comes to mind is Seal of Righteousness, but there may be others). Everything else crits. Healing potions, hamstring, and even the direct part of spells like Moonfire, Immolate, and Lifebloom.

    Thanks to it being a two-roll system you do end up with fewer crits; 25% crit against a target with 20% avoidance means white damage crits 25% of all swings; yellow damage will only crit 20% (80% hit rate * 25% crit rate) of all swings.

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