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The Trap of Best-In-Slot Lists

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One of the most time consuming tasks in producing a class raiding guide, both during and after, is the building of recommended gear lists for particular gear levels, otherwise known as BiS (for Best in Slot). Iíve never been convinced that these lists function as they should, and that players use them as absolutes rather than guides, and targets to hit rather than shopping lists.

So whatís the problem with them? Well, these lists only include the absolute best possible items available, which means that they will use items that may never be accessible to 99% of the population. A good example of this is the question of whether Kriítak, Imperial Scepter of the Swarm is better than Regailís Crackling Dagger. Both are Heroic items, but while Kriítak has the sha-touched gem socket, Regails has a ďElite HeroicĒ version, which is obtainable from finishing the first Terrace of Endless Spring encounter in a different, harder, order.

When youíve gemmed and upgraded both, the difference comes down to the following:

Regail's Kri'tak
Stamina 64
Intellect 433
Spirit 437
Crit Rating 30
Haste Rating 19
Mastery Rating 443
Spell Power 575

So which one is better? Assuming you need the hit, Kri'tak is the clear winner. Otherwise, it's actually a fairly close if you assume that the additional hit allows you to reforge other stats. So which should you take? It depends on what you have access to, and what the distribution of casters is like in your raid (ie: do you have more classes who can use the dagger but not the mace, what secondary stat preferences do they have, etc).

Questions similar to this end up consuming more time than anything else, purely because you have to constantly re-sim for new DPS figures & stat weights after making changes. These changes, if they do in fact improve DPS, make very minor changes in the overall scheme of things (more on that later).

To Upgrade, Or Not To Upgrade, That Is The Question
Another problem with these lists is that a number of players take them as the "Gospel of Gearing", ie: Thou Shalt Not Take Any Other Items But These. This means that items outside that list which are still an upgrade over what you currently have, especially when you have a moderately large time delay until you could even start killing the boss which drops the listed item.

A good example of this would be caster Shaman & the helm slot. There's a fairly decent Spirit/Haste helm that drops from The Stone Guard in Mogu'shan Vaults, which is a good stand in until you can grab a tier helm loot token from the Sha of Fear. The Stone Guard is the first boss encounter of T14, while the Sha of Fear is the last. As of today, according to WoWProgress, 97.84% of tracked guilds have killed Stone Guard, vs 12.51% who have downed Sha of Fear.

So if you're in a guild that isn't bleeding edge on raiding (my own guild, for instance, just started on Wind Lord Mel'jarak in Heart of Fear) taking these intermediary items helps you lift your game, which means more progression towards those better items.

Sharing Around Or Being Greedy
A third point of "dislike" for these lists is that there is usually an argument made in certain classes to skip lower demand items and go for whatever is the "best". An example of this is how Elemental Shaman tread off-hand & staff weapons.

The only Intellect classes that can use shields are Paladins and Shaman. As such, demand for Eye of the Ancient Spirit is fairly limited. Tornado-Summoning Censer on the other hand can be used by any DPS caster who isn't using a staff. The 5 point item level difference between the two is offset by the fact that the shield is better itemised for Elemental, but strictly speaking the Censer is better.

To quote Star Trek, "the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one". Forgoing a 5 dps upgrade so that casters in your raid get better gear is a better team outcome.

Sharing Around Or Being Greedy
The outcome if this is that individual players need to take more responsibility on figuring out what upgrades they should or shouldn't take, and understanding that they shouldn't focus just on item A, but remember that item B is also just as good, or that there's a progression from D to C to A or B, and to take upgrades as they become available.

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Comments

  1. Endus's Avatar
    I've avoided making BiS lists in the past for many of the same reasons, as well as one more. In many cases, a specific BiS list is the gearset that provides the best performance according to sims, or which maths out to the best value when you apply stat weights. The issue is that when you introduce stats with caps and breakpoints, these valuations are fluid. It doesn't necessarily change the eventual BiS list, but your gear progression may not be to simply wait for BiS items to drop; if you're not at the hit cap because most of your mail lacks either Hit or Spirit, Kri'tak is going to be MUCH more appealing than Regail's, regardless of how things will look when you replace a few more pieces.

    Like Binkenstein said; if you focus too much on the goal, you lose track of the best way to travel the route to reach it.

    To me, BiS lists are an interesting theoretical, but there's very limited practical use. If you're looking for BiS lists to figure out what items you should be rolling Need on and which you should pass on, you're not using them properly. They aren't a guide that explains what gear you should roll on, they're an exercise for when you have basically all the gear available, to figure out which layout is incrementally better than the others.

    And for the most part, if you know your stat weights, then it's a simple math question when determining if something is an upgrade or not. You don't need a BiS list to work it out, and doing so means you're making gear choices but don't know WHY you're making those choices, and it's always better to understand the "why".
  2. Wunhunglo's Avatar
    Bink/Endus,

    Despite some people's distrust of AskMrRobot, I have become a big fan of the site in leiu of a BiS list. I feel that it does a good (enough) job of helping me find the best upgrade for the proverbial buck and also allows me see check an items value relative to my current gear or (what AMR considers) the absolute BiS. Obviously I have to take everything with a grain of salt and make sure that what I am seeing on AMR is accurate but 99% of the time it seems to be giving solid gearing advice. Trinkets and Set Bonuses are the two areas where I use caution.

    On a sort-of side note: my guild runs a loot council and asks everyone to bid on any item that is an upgrade regardless of whether it is BiS or better for someone else who needs it. They shoulder the load of determining who needs it the most or where it will help the guild the most. Having the gear lists for every slot with relative values is extremely helpful when bidding on gear.

    I was curious if either of you had an opinion on AMR and its accuracy.
  3. Endus's Avatar
    The big issue with AMR is the same that plagued maxdps.com and rendered it near-useless; the stat weights need to be updated regularly and, for many classes, dynamically based on your current gear. I find those sorts of tools useful for tweaking my reforges to get them as close to exactly on the hit cap as I can, but I generate the state weights myself in simulationcraft rather than relying on their defaults.

    The tool I tend to use is the ReforgeLite addon in-game, since it pops up right when I'm reforging and will track which pieces still need to be adjusted.

    You also need to be aware of how everything SHOULD work so you can notice when the tools are off; for a while ReforgeLite was telling me it was okay to be at 13% hit rating as Elemental, so I ignored it and reforged manually. AMR has similar issues from time to time when it gets a bug in its code or isn't updated properly or the like.

    Like any tool, you need to know how, and when, to use 'em. And they're not the only tool you need if you want to do a good job, really. You should be using them for the same reason you use a calculator to divide big numbers; not because you don't know how to do long division, but as a convenience so you don't have to bother.
  4. Binkenstein's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Wunhunglo
    Bink/Endus,

    Despite some people's distrust of AskMrRobot, I have become a big fan of the site in leiu of a BiS list. I feel that it does a good (enough) job of helping me find the best upgrade for the proverbial buck and also allows me see check an items value relative to my current gear or (what AMR considers) the absolute BiS. Obviously I have to take everything with a grain of salt and make sure that what I am seeing on AMR is accurate but 99% of the time it seems to be giving solid gearing advice. Trinkets and Set Bonuses are the two areas where I use caution.

    On a sort-of side note: my guild runs a loot council and asks everyone to bid on any item that is an upgrade regardless of whether it is BiS or better for someone else who needs it. They shoulder the load of determining who needs it the most or where it will help the guild the most. Having the gear lists for every slot with relative values is extremely helpful when bidding on gear.

    I was curious if either of you had an opinion on AMR and its accuracy.
    Outside of handling hit caps, something like AMR does exactly the same job as Wowhead's gear listing once you add stat weights to it.

    My main problems with AMR are:
    • How it handles hit, even with the new "force cap" option
    • Modifying stat weights so that it gems correctly, then fails to reforge correctly
    • Trinket values are often incorrect
    • Default stat weights are often incorrect
    Outside of that, I'm sure it's a perfectly fine tool.
  5. Wunhunglo's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Endus
    The big issue with AMR is the same that plagued maxdps.com and rendered it near-useless; the stat weights need to be updated regularly and, for many classes, dynamically based on your current gear. I find those sorts of tools useful for tweaking my reforges to get them as close to exactly on the hit cap as I can, but I generate the state weights myself in simulationcraft rather than relying on their defaults.

    The tool I tend to use is the ReforgeLite addon in-game, since it pops up right when I'm reforging and will track which pieces still need to be adjusted.

    You also need to be aware of how everything SHOULD work so you can notice when the tools are off; for a while ReforgeLite was telling me it was okay to be at 13% hit rating as Elemental, so I ignored it and reforged manually. AMR has similar issues from time to time when it gets a bug in its code or isn't updated properly or the like.

    Like any tool, you need to know how, and when, to use 'em. And they're not the only tool you need if you want to do a good job, really. You should be using them for the same reason you use a calculator to divide big numbers; not because you don't know how to do long division, but as a convenience so you don't have to bother.
    Of course. I never use the preset stat weights AMR provides. I always plug in my own from SimCraft (both for Elemental and for Resto). And yes, as with any tool, you have to use judgement while using the tool. If a calculator told me that 2+2=5, I would question the calculator.

    Bink, I would never trust gear ratings from AMR in terms of items that proc/have on use such as trinkets and/or set bonuses. Really it is used to find upgrades in most slots after inputting my own SimCraft stat weights.
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