Monday, September 8, 2008

HMAP: Hunter Melee AP equivalence Points system

So, I was reading up on item values. If you visit the Item Values page on WoWWiki, you'll find some really interesting stuff about how Blizzard calculates item levels based on the stats attached to the items. And that's when it struck me -- I could abuse Blizzard's own numbers to create a Hunter Melee AP equivalence Points (HMAP) addon to compare items, much like the one for ranged hunters.

There's a super-cool addon out there called Pawn. (Download it on Curse or WoWUI.IncGamers.) It does the same kind of job as TankPoints, calculating and displaying a numerical score to gear based on certain item values. What makes Pawn special is that you can feed it your own weights for those item values. Pawn users themselves tell the addon how much a point of attack power is worth, how much mana-per-five is worth. It's the perfect framework for what I wanted to do.

I made a quick list of the stats relevant to being a melee hunter: STR, AGI, INT, STA. AP. Crit, hit, expertise, haste ratings. Armor pen. MP5. Next, I pulled base weights for each, directly from Blizzard's own item values as listed on WoWWiki.

Str=1, Agi=1, Int=1, Sta=1
Armor Pen=0.14

Looks good so far, and the weights seem to confirm a lot of things. If you're not hit capped, crit and hit have the same effect. And expertise and hit have identical results for sustained dps. It makes sense that those should all have the same weight. Agility, as it should be, is double the value of attack power. But then, so is strength. That's not right for hunters, but it is the right starting place. What we have to do is modify these base weights specifically for melee hunters. I chose to do that using Attack Power as my baseline stat.

1 str = 1 ap for me, so we reduce str to 0.5. Agi, however, is 1 AP + 0.552 crit, which is 0.5 + (0.552 * 1) = 1.052. Cool, we're back to having agi worth approximately twice what 1 AP is, and strength has been properly devalued. We'll leave int at 1 for now, since I need mana to melee. (More on this in a bit.) Stamina gets set to 0, because until Hunter vs. Wild is released, it has no effect on my attack power. I'm also going to set Hit at a value of 0. I'm assuming that a given set of gear being evaluated will be at or above the hit cap. (And if it isn't, you need to fix your hit rating before you worry about anything else.)

So, yay, new weights!

Str=0.5, Agi=1.052, Int=1, Sta=0
Crit=Expertise=Haste=1; Hit = 0
Armor Pen=0.14

At this point, you have to alter the numbers based on your spec. Survival Instincts will increase the value of AP, Lightning Reflexes will up your agi weight. In my case, I need to set AP to 0.52 (0.5 * 1.04), since I have 2/2 Survival Instincts, for an additional 4% to AP. Your mileage may vary.

Pawn also lets you assign values to gem sockets. Using the weights you've defined above, you can calculate an HMAP value for gems, and plug the highest of those values into the Pawn fields for red, yellow, and blue gems. It's up to you to choose which gems to evaluate. Maybe you're socketing epic gems, or you're willing to PvP for them. I'm not. I just did the weights for JC-created blue-quality gems.

The actual highest values for gems, in my spec, were:

Red: Delicate Living Ruby (HMAP: 8.416)
Yellow: Dazzling Talasite (HMAP: 9)
Blue: Infused Nightseye (HMAP: 9.16)

...But I don't have big problems with mana, and I carry potions for when I need them. So I skipped out on the int/MP5 gems, and found new ones:

Yellow: Wicked Noble Topaz (HMAP: 8.16)
Blue: Shifting Nightseye (HMAP: 4.208)

This still looks good. The 8 agi and 4 agi/6 sta gems are generally considered the staple red and blue gems for hunters and rogues, so my math still seems to line up with reality.

It's worth noting that without my points in Survival Instincts, the yellow gem would have been a toss-up between Wicked Noble Topaz, Smooth Dawnstone, and Brilliant Dawnstone (HMAP: 8), in which case I would likely have gone for the pure crit.

Those HMAP values being equal (8 int = 8 crit rating), it probably seems like I'm overvaluing int. That should be discussed.

The original Hunter AEP discussion found that intellect is quite valuable for hunters. In fact, Marksmen are told to value int over agi, with an agi to int ratio of 0.8 : 1. The Survival ratio was 1.2 : 1, and Beast Master was 1.3 : 1. My weights set agi to int at 1.052 : 1. I may be slightly heavy on int for someone that's technically a Beast Master, but my numbers aren't grossly inaccurate, as that ratio falls between the values listed in the HAEP system. And soon enough, I won't be in Aspect of the Viper anymore, using the revamped Aspect of the Beast instead.

[[EDIT: To use the same ratios as the BM build from the HAEP system, set int to 0.789, and mp5 to 3.785.]]

Meta gems are harder to account for. I know I want the Relentless Earthstorm Diamond (12 agi, 3% additional crit damage), but there's not really a good way to give a static weight to the crit damage modifier. I cheesed out on this one and just rendered it as 12 agi, or an HMAP value of 12.62.

The cheese continued when I added weapon weights. That seemed useful, but it didn't align with the simple item values method I was using. I pretty much like the same weapons as ret paladins: big, heavy two-handers. So I found a ret pally's weapon numbers and totally ripped them off. (I did re-enter the values as melee-only, because I don't care about evaluating the dps on thrown/ranged weapons, just the stats they provide.)

MeleeDps=2.1, MeleeSpeed=54.1

So... I guess we're done. Since Pawn lets you import and export scales, I'll post the import data for untalented melee hunters (lol) here. Remember, if you want to use this, you'll need to edit the values to reflect your actual spec. You might even want to go the extra mile and add in additional math to reflect your stats when raid buffed (BoK, etc).
( Pawn: v1: "HMAP": ArmorPenetration=0.14, MeleeDps=2.1, MeleeSpeed=54.1, CritRating=1, Intellect=1, Strength=0.5, MetaSocket=12.624, RedSocket=8.416, Agility=1.052, HasteRating=1, BlueSocket=4.208, YellowSocket=8, ExpertiseRating=1, Mp5=2.5, Ap=0.5 )
I know this is a very simple system I've created, and I'm sure it's flawed in many, many ways. For example, I'm not calculating the value of armor penetration dynamically. But using Pawn, I have to assign armor pen some static value, and Blizzard's own numbers strike me as good as any I might have invented on my own. As a system for baseline comparison, what I've come up with seems to work really well. I don't know how many other melee hunters are out there to make use of this, but... there you go! And as always, I'm open to constructive feedback.

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