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On the use of bear-form abilities in a DPS rotation

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On the use of bear-form abilities in a DPS rotation

Postby Stenhaldi » Thu Dec 20, 2012 10:26 am

Last tier, a thread [link] appeared in this forum discussing the possibility of using mangle (bear) in a cat DPS rotation. The idea was that since the ability does not cost energy, one could shift to bear and use it "for free" while waiting for energy regeneration. I formulated an estimate [link] of the value of such an action, and concluded that it was probably a loss, owing to the lost autoattacks and clearcasts. Since then, however, certain mechanics changes may have caused such an action to be worthwhile. These changes include
  • Thrash (bear) now deals much more damage (and note that it is not exclusive with thrash (cat));
  • Mangle (bear) and thrash (bear) no longer cost rage, and hence will not consume clearcasts.

Using thrash (bear)
Therefore, let me attempt a new estimate. Since thrash (bear) now outdamages mangle (bear), I will use it instead and consider the following 4.5-second sequence: shift to bear form; thrash (bear); shift to cat form. As discussed in my earlier post, this sort of sequence results, at typical haste values, in the replacement of 5 cat-form swings with 2 bear-form swings. (This is complicated slightly by the fact that bear form now scales haste rating by 1.5, but this effect is small and I will neglect it.)

The clearcast analysis is slightly different now, however: instead of consuming clearcasts, the sequence only prevents us from spending them (since we are in bear form). As before, I will assume that if a clearcast is triggered by the (cat) swing immediately prior to shifting, then we do not react to it in time and still shift. Thus, 6 (cat form) clearcast chances would have occured during the sequence, and these are replaced by 1 cat-form clearcast chance and 2 bear-form clearcast chances, with the caveat that at most one clearcast can happen in this duration. Since clearcast chance is normalized to weapon speed, the expected number of clearcasts triggered in cat or bear form is the same, and so we really only need to consider the chance that we trigger more than one clearcast. Given that the cat-form clearcast chance is 3.5/60 and the bear-form clearcast chance 3.5/24, we have a 2*3.5/60*3.5/24+(3.5/24)^2 chance to trigger at least 2 clearcasts and a 3.5/60*(3.5/24)^2 chance to trigger 3. Thus, the expected number of lost clearcasts is 2*3.5/60*3.5/24+(3.5/24)^2+3.5/60*(3.5/24)^2 ~= 0.040.

Let's assume a clearcast is worth roughly the damage of a shred. This is a slight underestimate since we ought to consider the combo points, but it should be close enough. Now the damage gain from this sequence is roughly

M+2S-5s-0.04m

where M = thrash (bear) damage; S = swing (bear) damage; s = swing (cat) damage; and m = shred damage. Now plugging in some rough values from my own character -- M = 86611; S = 17843; s = 18556; m = 58841 -- we obtain a damage gain of about 27k. If this sequence were performed every 16 seconds -- the duration of thrash (bear) -- it would earn about 1700 dps. Of course, that is only an upper limit; realistically we are not likely to find the requisite 4-5 free global cooldowns so often.

Using thrash (bear) and maul
A small improvement to that sequence might be to add maul. Maul is off the global cooldown, so it does not cost any additional time; the difficulty is that it costs rage. Because of the rage cost, we are only able to maul after the first bear-form swing if it crits; otherwise we need to wait until the second swing. Also, maul will consume clearcasts, so it should be aborted if a clearcast occurs and there is time to react.

Assume a (bear form) crit rate of t. The first swing crits with probability t; if it does, then we have a (1-3.5/60)(1-3.5/24) chance to maul, since that is the probability that a clearcast did not occur beforehand. If the first swing does not crit (probability 1-t), then the analysis is slightly more complicated. The problem is that the second swing occurs immediately before the cat form shift, so if that swing triggers a clearcast then there is no time to react: we have to maul anyway. We again have a (1-3.5/60)(1-3.5/24) chance to maul, but there is now also a loss of (1-3.5/60)(1-3.5/24)3.5/24 ~= 0.117 clearcasts. Overall, then, we gain (1-3.5/60)(1-3.5/24) ~= 0.80 mauls and lose 0.117*(1-t) clearcasts, and the estimated damage gain from the revised sequence is

M+2S-5s-0.04m+0.8L-0.117*(1-t)m

where L = maul damage. Taking t = .35 and L = 24660, again rough example values from my own character, we obtain a damage gain around 42k -- a substantial improvement.

Using thrash (bear), mangle (bear), and maul
Another possible improvement might be to add mangle (bear), since we are already in bear form. It's interesting to note that, by a similar analysis to that made in the previous post, at low enough haste values (<1% unbuffed in bear form) this does not even cost any additional cat-form swings. At more realistic haste values (~5% unbuffed in bear form) it has about a 20% chance to cost an additional 2.5 cat swings (replacing them with 1 bear swing). Of course, this addition also raises the duration of the overall sequence to 6 seconds, making it substantially more unwieldy.

For brevity, I'll not walk through the full analysis in this case. We gain a mangle (bear), lose 2.5*0.2=0.5 cat swings, gain 0.2 bear swings, and lose 0.2*(1-(1-3.5/60)(1-3.5/24)^2)*3.5/24 ~= 0.009 clearcasts. Because of the longer time spent in bear form, there is also sufficient time to react to a clearcast and avoid casting maul, so the "-0.117*(1-t)m" term changes to "-0.117*(1-t)L". The estimated damage gain from this new sequence is now

M+K+2.2S-5.5s-0.049m+0.8L-0.117*(1-t)L

where K = mangle (bear) damage. Taking K = 52310 (again an example value from my own character), this produces a damage gain around 91k. Now that is a rather large improvement; the caveat is that we have extended the sequence from 4.5 seconds to 6 seconds, making it substantially more likely to interfere with the cat-form rotation.

A closing remark
I've established that the insertion of bear-form abilities into a DPS rotation is likely to yield a significant damage gain if it does not interfere with the cat-form rotation. The obvious objection is that maybe it is not possible to insert a bear-form sequence without damaging the cat-form rotation. This is a more difficult thing to decide by an elementary study such is this one. My own suspicion is that it would be quite difficult to find an opportunity to insert a bear-form sequence into a DoC rotation (due to the additional global cooldowns it requires), but into a HotW/NV rotation should not be so hard.

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Re: On the use of bear-form abilities in a DPS rotation

Postby Helistar » Thu Dec 20, 2012 12:28 pm

Random ideas
1- what happens if you play this trick with HotW (which provides you with Vengeance) during a high-raid-damage scenario?
2- isn't the gain much more significant if you're AoEing like mad (think wind lord)?

I also suppose that all this would be done by a /castsequence macro, right?

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Re: On the use of bear-form abilities in a DPS rotation

Postby Instaqueues » Thu Dec 20, 2012 12:50 pm

I'm going to create a cast sequence macro and try it on normal wind lord tonight, since I use HotW anyway.

I think it'll look something like this (although I'll have to make sure spell names are right when I'm off work).

/castsequence [reset=2] Mangle(Bear), Thrash(Bear)
/use !Maul

Theorhetically I should have at least 22 rage by the time I maul (10(bearform) + 7(mangle) + AA(5)), guess we'll see if it works :)

Edit: My thoughts on using HotW to couple with vengence/thrash would not be as high DPS as Hurricane. It'd most likely take you the full 20sec of vengence building to even think it could compare. But...I have been wrong before, and certainly will be wrong many times again :D

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Re: On the use of bear-form abilities in a DPS rotation

Postby Leafkiller » Thu Dec 20, 2012 5:11 pm

I think the napkin math is severely underestimating the actual cost. The likely time when you would want to swap forms is the same time where you would want to use fillers to 5 combo points, hit FB and get a refund of 20 energy due to SotF. We know that the value of aggressive FBs is at least 1k extra dps which likely is more than what you would gain from the bear Thrash.

As for using bear form to AOE while HotW is up, my first question is how this compares to Hurricane? My second question is about risk - specifically what is the risk of pulling aggro while using an HotW bear form AOE rotation? Presumably threat gen is increased to Guardian levels with HotW up. HotW Bear form seems very brittle and pulling off of the tanks could be...painful.

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Re: On the use of bear-form abilities in a DPS rotation

Postby Sorcerer » Thu Dec 20, 2012 5:31 pm

Next week if they let me, I can test weaving thrash on Meljarak HC 25. I think I still have #1 parse, that is actually probably 10-20k lower that possibly max for me atm.

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Re: On the use of bear-form abilities in a DPS rotation

Postby Helistar » Fri Dec 21, 2012 9:31 am

In my post the ideas were separate: on normal AoE, hurricane will always be best, also because it's a lot easier to pull off and a lot less prone to error. To be more precise on the questions:
- assuming a single-target fight: how much of a gain would it be to abuse HotW during a high-raid-damage phase to boost your bear mangle and bear thrash? (guess, very little, since HotW is 6min CD).
- on multi-target fight (after you've spend your HotW, or if you don't have it): if in single-target the damage is comparable, in multi-target it should pull ahead significantly (I'll test on wind lord next tag).

I'm not sure I agree with you, Leafkiller: the moment when you want to switch to bear and apply thrash is just after reaching near-zero energy, independently on where you are in the rotation (ok, ALMOST independently, since you don't want to miss rake/rip uptime). This means that instead of pooling, you shred-spam to zero energy, switch to bear+apply thrash and then return back to cat at around half-energy. I'll definitely try it just to see how much the total damage is, even if this means one more button (my bars are starting to be overcrowded.... but since I'm not using incarnation I can probably take ravage's spot) and one more timer bar in EventHorizon....

Threat generation in HotW/guardian mode seems to be increased, but I'm not sure that it's increased to "real" guardian levels. I ended up tanking in HotW mode the end of yesterday's Lai-Shi and, apart from getting trounced, I was losing aggro to our mage and DK (but I admit I was paying attention to survival and not threat). EDIT: I forgot: when using a real guardian spec there's no way for a DPS to pull aggro off me. Even when I'm offtanking at the beginning of the encounter (and thus I have 0 vengeance), at the moment of a tank swap I'm already in the #2 aggro spot.

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Re: On the use of bear-form abilities in a DPS rotation

Postby adianar » Fri Dec 21, 2012 1:01 pm

Possibly an elementary question, but IF you were to switch to HoTW bear, are you building energy in cat form so that when you switch back, you're at half or full energy again?

Adi

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Re: On the use of bear-form abilities in a DPS rotation

Postby Instaqueues » Fri Dec 21, 2012 1:19 pm

In any spec, your other resources regen all the time. (or decay). Just like your mana regens while in Cat form, energy will regen in any form, and rage will decay in any form.

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Re: On the use of bear-form abilities in a DPS rotation

Postby Stenhaldi » Fri Dec 21, 2012 7:06 pm

Leafkiller wrote:I think the napkin math is severely underestimating the actual cost. The likely time when you would want to swap forms is the same time where you would want to use fillers to 5 combo points, hit FB and get a refund of 20 energy due to SotF. We know that the value of aggressive FBs is at least 1k extra dps which likely is more than what you would gain from the bear Thrash.


A bear-form sequence costs time; it does not cost energy or combo points (well, it costs about 2 energy due to lost clearcasts). So there's not really any way in which it can cost you ferocious bites, since those are independent of time -- unless you are deliberately using 25-energy ferocious bites (in which case the sequence, which, rotationally, is essentially equivalent to energy pooling, may push up the average energy consumption). Keep in mind that during the time spent in a bear-form sequence, only enough energy regenerates for 1-2 attacks.

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Re: On the use of bear-form abilities in a DPS rotation

Postby kaiadam » Fri Dec 21, 2012 7:20 pm

Very interesting finds. I'll try weaving in some bear thrashes next time on heroic sha [we don't get to aoe during windlord anymore :(] and see if it helps.

Maybe this'll bump awareness, utility, and now damage all in favor of HoTW now, heh.

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Re: On the use of bear-form abilities in a DPS rotation

Postby Leafkiller » Sat Dec 22, 2012 1:49 am

Aggixx simmed Multitarget and determined Rake was better than swipe with less than 8 targets. His AOE script is in the first post of the simulationcraft thread.

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Re: On the use of bear-form abilities in a DPS rotation

Postby Helistar » Sat Dec 22, 2012 5:28 am

Well, considering the energy costs, I don't really have any difficulty believing this. At the same time I'm quite positive I would NOT be able to pull it off. The big problem is finding the targets for Rake when there's lot of stuff around, I seem to end up tabbing endlessly, or if I use tidy plates in DPS mode, it just takes me ages to find the right target, be actually able to click on the bar which is jumping around like mad, finding I'm 1m away from melee range, before actually being able to apply rake. Swipe-spam is so much easier :P and allows me to use 5CP SR as well as some 5CP rips/FBs if for some reason I need some extra damage on one specific target.

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Re: On the use of bear-form abilities in a DPS rotation

Postby Stenhaldi » Sat Dec 22, 2012 6:16 am

Leafkiller wrote:Aggixx simmed Multitarget and determined Rake was better than swipe with less than 8 targets. His AOE script is in the first post of the simulationcraft thread.

The breakpoints for swipe versus rake depend strongly on your mastery and weapon DPS stats so I would be wary of throwing out a concrete figure like that. In my own gear, swipe beats rake with as few as 6 targets.

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Re: On the use of bear-form abilities in a DPS rotation

Postby Leafkiller » Sat Dec 22, 2012 2:51 pm

Getting back on the topic of this thread. Let's break this into two separate discussions, single target and AoE. I would like to formulate a set of conditions that would make sense to sim.

Single target: We would want to look for times where energy is low, SR and Rip have sufficient time left that swapping forms will not disrupt them (Rip has more constraints), and we also want to avoid delaying TFs since we want our energy low for TF. Since we would not want to cast during a TF (or during Berserk) during every 30 second cycle we would avoid the first 6 seconds and the last 4 seconds (give or take a little). This gives a 20 second window to look for low energy times where SR and Rip are ok. Probably we would find these windows shortly after TF has finished since we are spamming our abilities during it. Since SR has no combo point requirements, we might be able to ignore its constraints entirely and simply plan to refresh it when we get back to cat form. Keep in mind that we do not do energy pooling for FBs in the HotW rotation, only in the DoC rotation (FBs do proportionally more dps in DoC then in HotW so energy pooling simmed as more valuable). I mention the energy pooling because that would give us a good window in which to shift to bear form - 5 combo point situations where FB will still be the best choice 3 seconds later. So mostly we are looking for low energy windows after TF has finished where Rip has a decent amount of time left.

AoE: Fitting bear Thrash into an AoE rotation could be very easy given how much energy Thrash and Swipe require and how much downtime we have. Simply look for low energy periods outside of the TF (and Berserk) windows. This could be a significant improvement over what we currently do.

I don't know if we can currently test this in Simulationcraft - I don't know how they handle bear Thrash, and I am not sure if form shifting causes a GCD. Hopefully aggixx can answer those two questions.

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Re: On the use of bear-form abilities in a DPS rotation

Postby Leafkiller » Sat Dec 22, 2012 3:42 pm

I wanted to remind everybody of why I continue to emphasize finding a way to sim this. Trying to determine if a rotation change produces a meaningful dps increase by using it in game is difficult unless the dps difference is very large - at least 5% more and even then it is questionable. We really need tens of thousands of iterations to determine how effective a change is, not to mention to understand the side effects, which in my experience are always more complicated than one might think.

Most of the innovations in our rotation have come from discussions like this, where some napkin math suggested something was a dps improvement and we were able to followup on the suggestion with simulations and refinements of the idea. There have also been a great many ideas that were not dps ups and the sim results often seem very counter-intuitive until you dig deeper into the data to understand what was actually happening.

It is very important that we move from the conception of an idea back by napkin math to a set of conditionals that we can simulate. Once we reach that point we will be able to understand both the potential gain and also what level of complexity is being introduced into the rotation.

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Re: On the use of bear-form abilities in a DPS rotation

Postby Kihrawr » Sat Dec 22, 2012 3:43 pm

Shifting does cost a GCD.

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Re: On the use of bear-form abilities in a DPS rotation

Postby Leafkiller » Sat Dec 22, 2012 3:50 pm

Kihrawr wrote:Shifting does cost a GCD.


I know shifting costs a GCD. I just don't know how well that is handled in Simulationcraft, nor do I know what would happen if I put into a script a shift to bear form followed by a bear thrash. I don't think a lot of work has been done on bear form abilities while in feral spec which suggests that things could either be missing or have bugs.

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Re: On the use of bear-form abilities in a DPS rotation

Postby Kihrawr » Sat Dec 22, 2012 4:00 pm

Leafkiller wrote:
Kihrawr wrote:Shifting does cost a GCD.


I know shifting costs a GCD. I just don't know how well that is handled in Simulationcraft, nor do I know what would happen if I put into a script a shift to bear form followed by a bear thrash.


Sorry, I should have been more clear. I meant it does appear to trigger a GCD in the SimulationCraft code. At least there is no code to turn off GCD triggering for cat and bear form like there is with Moonkin form. I'm not an expert in the code though. Just eyeballing it.

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Re: On the use of bear-form abilities in a DPS rotation

Postby Leafkiller » Sat Dec 22, 2012 5:32 pm

Gotcha.

Next question then, are bear thrash and bear mangle supported in simc, and not accidentally affected by any cat buffs?

Below is a starting place for the additional simc code for the single target rotation. I would envision these lines being inserted just before the line in the script that guarantees you are in cat form, just after the HotW wrath line.

actions+=/bear_form,if=energy<30&!buff.tigers_fury.up&cooldown.tigers_fury.remains>4&!buff.berserk.up&$(rip_remains)>=9&dot.thrash_bear.remains<5.0
actions+=/thrash_bear,if=buff.bear_form.up&dot.thrash_bear.remains<4.0


Things to try per Stenhaldi's proposal:
Add in bear_mangle.
Add in maul.
Test different energy thresholds and Rip thresholds. Note that I am testing the total length of a Rip including potential shred/mangle extensions and not just the length of the Rip - that is what "$(rip_remains)" calculates.
Test different clipping thresholds for thrash_bear (note that thrash_bear lasts 16 seconds with 2 second ticks vs. 15/3 for thrash_cat).

Edit: change the thrash lines from "buff" to "dot" - the current lines are being simmed now but are not working properly.

Edit 2: The sim is alternating casting bear form and cat form along with some thrash_bears - so the rest of the conditionals are not working as I would expect.

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Re: On the use of bear-form abilities in a DPS rotation

Postby Kihrawr » Sat Dec 22, 2012 6:04 pm

Again, I'm just eyeballing the code, but it looks like Tiger's Fury and Savage Roar will both be incorrectly applied to bear form physical attacks.

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Re: On the use of bear-form abilities in a DPS rotation

Postby Leafkiller » Sat Dec 22, 2012 6:11 pm

We have deeper issues than the incorrect application of the buffs. The following code produces 0 dps, alternating between cat and bear form. I tried with many difference conditionals on the bear_form and it always casts it unless it is currently up (for example I also tried energy<30). Perhaps they have some special code for form switching which is not paying attention to the if conditionals.

Code: Select all
actions+=/bear_form,if=dot.rip.remains>1
actions+=/cat_form,if=buff.cat_form.down


Edit - that is all I have time for. I am going back to coding for my startup. I don't have time to work on the simc code.

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Re: On the use of bear-form abilities in a DPS rotation

Postby Kihrawr » Sat Dec 22, 2012 7:08 pm

Not an expert, so just consider this a guess, but it looks like bear_form_t::ready() and cat_form_t::ready() should be invoking their base class ready() methods rather than always returning true if the appropriate buff is not up.

So maybe try changing the struct bear_form_t::ready() method to the following:

Code: Select all
virtual bool ready()
{
    if (p()->buff.bear_form->check())
        return false;
    return druid_spell_t::ready();
}


And then make the analogous change for cat form.

Code: Select all
virtual bool ready()
{
    if (p()->buff.cat_form->check())
        return false;
    return druid_spell_t::ready();
}


I could be completely wrong though. :)

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Re: On the use of bear-form abilities in a DPS rotation

Postby Leafkiller » Sat Dec 22, 2012 8:27 pm

I don't suppose you have an environment setup so you can compile and run Simulationcraft and test those changes. I intentionally never setup a dev environment for Simulationcraft because I am trying to avoid spending too much time on it.

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Re: On the use of bear-form abilities in a DPS rotation

Postby Kihrawr » Sun Dec 23, 2012 5:12 pm

Leafkiller wrote:I don't suppose you have an environment setup so you can compile and run Simulationcraft and test those changes. I intentionally never setup a dev environment for Simulationcraft because I am trying to avoid spending too much time on it.


Yeah, using the conditions you specified, this sims as about a 1k DPS loss for my feral. Lost cat melee auto-attacks yield as much DPS on single target as Bear Thrash, and then you just lose a very small amount of DPS off Ferocious Bite and Rake, etc.

Note I'm fairly certain Bear Thrash is being improperly buffed by Savage Roar also, so I suspect the DPS loss would be even larger.

This is just what the sim says. There could be issues around melee and auto-attacking that could be incorrect, but at first glance, it seems logical to me that the wasted GCDs spent shifting and the time in bear would cost you a fair amount of cat auto-attack DPS.

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Re: On the use of bear-form abilities in a DPS rotation

Postby Kihrawr » Sun Dec 23, 2012 6:32 pm

Using the T14H profile, it's only a 500dps loss with the conditions you specified. Adding Maul only if bear form is up following your two lines improves the DPS loss to only be 300dps. If I shrink the Thrash conditions by 2 seconds, the DPS loss becomes very small. If I add in Maul and keep the Thrash conditions lower, then I get a very small 80dps gain.

Code: Select all
actions+=/bear_form,if=energy<30&!buff.tigers_fury.up&cooldown.tigers_fury.remains>4&!buff.berserk.up&$(rip_remains)>=9&dot.thrash_bear.remains<3.0
actions+=/maul,if=buff.bear_form.up
actions+=/thrash_bear,if=buff.bear_form.up&dot.thrash_bear.remains<2.0


The above yields 121424dps up from 121351dps. Again, I suspect both the Maul and the Thrash are improperly buffed by Savage Roar, so this probably isn't really a gain.

All attempts to add in Mangle while in Bear resulted in a clear DPS loss. I'm open to suggestions for what to try there.

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