Thanks, Big Bear Butt Blogger, for suggesting another theorycraft post. Now everybody knows who to blame… (Very Evil Grin).

OK, folks, I mentioned doing some logging in other posts, and got graciously reminded that I skipped step one for a few of you. Since I’ve also run across some updated info to the other posts, we’re off. As you can tell by the ‘continue reading’ line, it’s going to get a bit long (again, so what else is new, and other friendly insults are noted for future assignments…) .

(Edited digression – This is a long and rambling post even for me, so if you jump to the end you’ll see the one paragraph summary.)

Remember, you’re playing this game on a computer. Everything that is processed can be saved. (Yes, there’s a way to save your chat file(s). No, I’m not going there today – exercise for the readers…) These saved files are called logs. Let’s go see where we’ll find them.

Open your file viewer just like you’re getting ready to install an addon.  Now just below the line for Interface, you’ll see a now-obvious line labeled “Logs”.  Open it, and observe.  If you’ve been playing for more than a month, or you installed Burning Crusade, you have at least one file in here – the log of upgrades.

Let me interrupt here with an important digression.  Any changes you make to any file in this folder will have ZERO impact on your play.  It might – might – make WoW’s updater unhappy the next time you update if you’ve modified the Blizzard Updater Log, in which case it’ll send you a message of whimpering complaint and start a new one — and your next update might take a bit longer as it makes sure all the necessary things that should have been done were done.  But seriously, as far as anything “important” — you could delete everything in the folder with no negative consequences beyond the one mentioned.  Which means — feel free to play.  OK?

When you save your combatlog it’ll go here.  Even better, it’ll be called WOWCombatLog.txt – a real easy and obvious thing to find.  Note the “.txt” at the end.  Open it with a word processor program of just about any time and it will be readable – completely.  It also going to be large and boring.  It is a recording of every. single. thing. that went through your combat log.  An important digression again – ONLY if it went through your log.  If a fellow player does “ubermove 2.7” and it doesn’t TELL you it’s ubermove 2.7, all you’ll see is the consequences – more damage or something.

Now it’s probable that you don’t see a combatlog.  There are addons that’ll start them, but most won’t and it’s not a default setting.  So let’s make a combat log, then we can dig into a few details.

Start the game.  Go pick a fight.  WAIT – before you start your pull, type /combatlog . That’s it – no “start”, “begin”, “on”, or anything else.  That slash command toggles the logger on and off.  From now on, your combat log (the window on the right side if you’re in default mode) is being saved.  Anyway, fight for a bit – one or two mobs is enough, we’re just getting a taste here – and stop it.  Either another /combatlot command, or just stop.  Time for a bit of skullsweat, so get necessary refreshments.

Back?  OK, back to the file folder, and this time you should see it: WowCombatLog.txt .

Open it.

wow.  line after line of… wow.  Let’s parse a line.

Every event gets date, space, time down to something absurd (hh:mm:ss.mmm, read hour:minute:second.millisecond), and then the event itself.  The event has up to four entries:

[owner of action];[action];[target of action];[result of action].  An AoE always has a separate line for every target.  Depending on your computer’s capabilities and situational lag, the log may show them all happening at the same time, or they may be off by a few milliseconds — and if that happens, once in a while you’ll see something happen ‘between’ AoE effects.  Remember that computers can only do one thing at a time, they just do it very fast, and this is a consequence.

You and Your always substitute for your character’s name, but no other pronouns exist.  Sometimes one or more of these are dropped – under very strict rules which frankly take us too far into the weeds today, but which basically mean that with VERY FEW EXCEPTIONS we can tell who did what to whom and what the result might have been.  (An example of exception for the healpriest – Prayer of Mending appears as being ‘cast’ by the target.)

Wheee, we have a log.  Eeeerrrgh, this is worse than reading one of Kirk’s posts.  HEEEELLLLPPPP!

OK, here’s the nice thing.  There are some combat log parsers and readers out there that will go through the log and give you back something that’s actually readable.  None are perfect (I have some wishes I’ll be sticking on the end of this post), but what you get is still TONS better than crawling through on your own.  I’ll be talking about a couple shortly, but first… settings.

Your combat log has a surprisingly short range – about 40 yards.  I don’t recall because one of the first things I do is change to maximum range.  See, if something happens ‘out of range’, your log ignores it.  Again, the more your computer has to do, the longer it takes to come back to “YOUR IMPORTANT TASK” – but in this case I make the sacrifice.  Max range means that when I get feared one way and my tank another and the mob chases him, I still have a log later for analysis.  The max range is 200 yards, and there is more than one thing tracked.  Ready?

Create a macro with the following:

/console SET CombatLogRangeParty “200”
/console SET CombatLogRangePartyPet “200”
/console SET CombatLogRangeFriendlyPlayers “200”
/console SET CombatLogRangeFriendlyPlayersPets “200”
/console SET CombatLogRangeHostilePlayers “200”
/console SET CombatLogRangeHostilePlayersPets “200”
/console SET CombatLogRangeCreature “200”

OK, why a macro?  And.. huhn?  Here’s the deal.  You’re changing defaults.  Every time you upgrade, the defaults return.  Now there are some addons which will do the range changes for you (many of the log assist tools and better raid assist tools included), but some don’t.  Oh – if you don’t want to macro but want to type it manually, you need each line beginning with SET.  Me?  macro for ranges.  (Yes, you could make one to move ranges shorter.  Consider it a project for the reader.)  Actually, no.  See, thanks to Rob in another thread I have one more addon – loggerhead.  It’s set to automatically kick the ranges (and start the log) in any pre-selected fights.  Love having things that don’t rely on my memory at work…  Anyway

First tool – and one which I’ve espoused before – is WowWebStats.  There are no real changes here, so I’m going to recommend you take a moment, read both those links (my explanation, then the site), and give it a try with the run you just did.  Seriously, take some time.  I’ll get some coffee and be right back here waiting.

Back?  Cool, wasn’t it?  Who hit what, what percentage of damage came from this, how much was crits…  And if you have multiple players, who healed whom, what percent of heals received by a player came from each healer…  yum.  There’s a lot of missing info, and there are some false trips you can take, but as a class leader or post-battle analyst this is darn near gold.

Oh  – and there are issues and discussions, and using the host-side storage (free, but advertising) gives you more things.  Rather than go nuts myself, Elitist Jerks has been having a discussion on it – 14 pages of forum so far.  Oh – there is one point I want to bring out.  You already see how long the log is after a short ifght.  Ponder a minute – it’s a big boss, and you wipe twice before killing.  Is there an easy way to find the splits?  Yes.  Insert a “marker” – have someone do something that has absolutely no reason to happen.  Waterbreathing, Elune’s grace, sentry totem – these all may be useful.  Just keep an eye out for tomfoolery.  Thing is, by doing this — say, while everyone’s buffing for the pull — you have something for which to search and ‘split the logs’.  (another plug for the hosted version — it’ll split multiple tries for you.  And it’ll allow you to see the last 30 seconds of log prior to someone’s death.  And… sorry).

On thought and quick review – I lied.  There have been other programs to help you scan and review logs, but they are not current – nor are they as comprehensive.  I think that WWS is like Auctioneer – so unique and comprehensive that nobody bothers reinventing the wheel.  So, a bit more of WWS and I’m off.

I wish… I wish I could get graphs over time from WWS.  I have fallen in love with Recount – to the point it’s superseding SWS in my use – purely due to the graphs.  Which can be done post-battle or (and here’s the excitement) DURING BATTLE.  (Big memory/cpu hit warning, but…).  General battle, and specific target (friendly or enemy).  I suspect, but have not yet found, that it uses the combat log — not least because it keeps old stuff (even after logging on and off) until cleared.  If I could just use it to parse a partial log, or use it offline…  sigh.  Oh, how useful?  This is the “todo” list the author has in the current file:

Todo List
Minor Todo
1. Clear the lower detail window if nothing is selected
2. Change to using some sort of tabs for main window
3. Add Minimap Icon
4. Add Reporting to Windows

Major Features Todo
1. Add Time Data
2. Add Summary Data for Incoming/Outgoing
3. Add Death Tracking
4. Add Power Tracking (Energy/Mana/Rage)
5. Add Raid Analysis Window


OK, long file, so as always a quick summary.

The logs are saved in your world of warcraft\logs folder.  You start it and stop it with the command /combatlog.  It’s pretty much everything your toon sees within 40 yards, and the range can be extended.  It’s dense to slog through on your own, so I recommend using WowWebStats to help make sense.  Most of my wishlist is done by Recount except I can’t do it out-of game.  Oh — and as ALWAYS when using stats as a tool, remember that while the numbers don’t lie they can confuse the issue – they aren’t the WHOLE PICTURE.  Bad use of this could be worse in the long run than constantly using damage meters for epeen.

~ by Kirk on September 12, 2007.

9 Responses to “combatlog”

  1. One of my favorite sayings with respect to stats is, “Numbers paint a picture, but they don’t tell the story.” I think that is the point you’re making in your last paragraph.

    I have a huge monitor and I think I want more info than I can possibly assimilate, so my combat log window is always open. I rarely look at it (“How big was that crit??”), but I can definitely see the value in looking at the (parsed) combat log.

  2. […] reminds us all of the value of using, and reviewing, our Combat Log. I sure wish I’d remembered to have mine on last night when I let our tank die in […]

  3. I’ve been using WWS for a few weeks and hosting the reports on my own webspace. Yesterday I bought a guild account and uploaded our first attempt on The Lurker Below. Take a look at my performance and tell me what you think.

    I would like to see the +800 DPS numbers that I keep reading about. The 600+ DPS I recorded on this event is my personal best so far.

    Thanks in advance and best regards,

  4. Eloi,

    Let me start with hoorah – 600 dps is nothing to sneer at. Heck, even the 400-450, first time, while ducking in and out of the water and dodging the adds and all that is good.

    Now let me begin the possible improvements with caveats – HUGE caveats. The biggest one being stats out of context are not telling the whole story. I don’t know your gear. I don’t know your position in this battle. I don’t know, well, a lot. So I’m going to recommend not just you grab some salt but maybe have a whole mine at hand before I begin.

    One thing stands out to me. VT and SW:P are accounting for 55% (approximate) of your damage. In my opinion they should be 40-45%.

    I do not know enough to tell you what to change. My gut feeling is that you’ve got too much delay between Mind Blasts – most likely because you’ve not spent points in IMB, but it may be due to your particular spellweave pattern. I also notice you didn’t get a lot of Mind Flay, but knowing Lurker that may be purely a matter of position – if you were on the rafts it’s easy to be just out of range for MF but in for the rest.

    Summary: Good, and the first mechanical thing I’d look at is how to get the non-Dot’s up in proportion of damage.

  5. Hey thanks for the analysis! My rotation is rather “canned”; VT, SWP, MB, SWD, VE, MF. Then dot refreshes as needed and insta-casts when in range and GCD is up. I have the “/use 13 /use 14” macro set up with SWP so it activates whichever trinket is up. I would characterize my gear as good and I think I’ve made good choices on gems and enchants. (nearly all +damage heh).

    I do have IMP MB, and I use macros in my G15 keyboard for casting so I think the delay is a PEBKAC issue. As you point out, unfamiliarity with this event is probably contributory also. I did just notice that I only have one point in IMP SWP, so I will likely drop the Inner Focus point in favor of that. (If I were undead I would definitely keep IF for Devouring Plague)

    So .. tonight I will run a fresh /combatlog in Karazhan during events that I am very familiar with. I will be pleased with anything over 600 and ecstatic if I’m able to do that without pulling agro.

    /fingers crossed.



  6. Update: I in fact DID NOT have 5/5 Imp MB. I errantly thought it was 2/3 when it was 2/5 🙂

  7. […] going to have to know how to get to the log files. I’ve mentioned this before, but let’s do it again. Open the method of looking at the drive that holds your World of […]

  8. […] stats first simply because they’re easier. Now I’m going to assume you read both WWS posts I’ve made already and avoid a lot of lengthy general how-to — if you […]

  9. […] benefit. As with the shadowpriest version, I’m going to assume you’ve read the relevant prerequisite posts. The really frustrating news is that there isn’t a baseline, and there isn’t a […]

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