Sunday, August 28, 2011

What's up with 1800/1850 haste rating? Or any haste rating?

Paragon is and has been the fastest-progressing guild in the world since the days of Icecrown Citadel, picking up world-first kills of Heroic Lich King, Sinestra, and Ragnaros (amongst others). So when a hunter from Paragon mentions a specific haste rating, people take notice. Devai somewhat-recently made a post to the Paragon site about a haste plateau to be reached at 1800 haste rating or perhaps 1850 haste rating (there are references to both points here and there on the web).

I have to confess that I have been more than a little puzzled by this. To explain why, let's first establish what we mean when we say that a certain amount of haste reaches a haste "plateau".

For Marksmanship, this will mean one of two things:

  1. Being able to fit an additional shot within the cooldown of Chimera shot.
  2. Being able to easily and neatly glyph Chimera shot.

These two points are complicated somewhat by the fact that a player can choose to delay her Chimera shot, and alternatively that a player can choose not to use a shot and instead wait out a period of dead space for CS to come off of cooldown. A haste plateau, then, would be the haste point at which one of those two things can happen without either pushing back CS or waiting out dead space in which you use no abilities for it.

The final problem with this 1800/1850 haste rating thing is just that: it's a haste rating. Which means it would be different for goblins and/or for people with different numbers of points in pathing or even for people that are getting Dark Intent. For all of these reasons, I personally feel that it's better to talk about haste as given as a percentage on the character-sheet stats.

With our ground work laid, we can now take a look and see if we can figure out what Devai was talking about. The first thing to know is that, although it can seem this way when you're looking at Whitefyst's tables and graphs and calculations in the EJ MM thread, MM haste is not that complicated.

As we all know, everything an MM hunter is going to do is bound by two very simple rules:

  1. Keep Chimera Shot on cooldown.
  2. Keep the ISS buff active on ourselves.

That's it. So all we really need to know is "how much crap can we fit in between Chimera shots without running out of focus or letting the ISS buff fall off?" An unglyphed CS comes off of cooldown every 10 seconds, and 1 second of that is used by the GCD, leaving us with 9 seconds to fill. With this knowledge, all we really need is Zeherah's haste calculator and whatever calculator program came installed on our computer (or even a real physical calculator) and we can figure this stuff out for ourselves. As an educational exercise, we can start with the 12.97% haste target that Whitefyst advocates for. According to him, with that amount of haste, we'll be able to neatly fit 5 steady shots and 2 arcane shots in between every CS.

All we have to do is go to the haste calc and plug in, say, 1300 haste rating. Leave the level set to 85, leave the Goblin checkbox blank, set it to 3/3 ISS and 3/3 pathing, check the 10% haste checkbox, leave everything else blank, and click "Update Steady Shot Speed". You'll see that you get a steady shot cast of 1.39 seconds, rounding off a couple digits.

Now we go to our calculator. The arcane shots are easy - those are just instants, so they'll use the 1-second GCD for a total of 2 seconds. Five steady shots will just be 5 x 1.39, which comes out to 6.95. 6.95 seconds plus 2 seconds is equal to 8.95 seconds. This is almost exactly 9 seconds, which is the amount of CS cooldown that we wanted to fill with stuff. This is why Whitefyst calls it a "tight" rotation: it fits very tightly, in terms of time, within the CS cooldown. This makes it a good example of a plateau: any less haste and you'll be pushing back your Chimera shot. Any more haste and you're just waiting out a GCD.

Ok, so now we can try to figure out what Devai was talking about. Luckily, it's very clear that part of his goal was to use the Chimera Shot Glyph, which reduces the CS cooldown by 1 second. Here's what I've seen when I look at different possible shot distributions at 1850 haste rating:

  1. 5 steady shots + 2 arcane shots uses 8.7 seconds, pushing back glyphed CS by almost a full second
  2. 4 steady shots + 2 arcane shots uses 7.36 seconds, leaving almost a full second of dead space before firing a glyphed CS
  3. 5 steady shots + 1 hardcast Aimed shot uses 8.64 seconds: basically identical to the 2-arcane shot cycle (this is intuitively true: at this haste point, an aimed shot is just under 2 seconds)
  4. 4 steady shots + 1 hardcast Aimed shot also leaves a lot of dead space, just like the second haste point
  5. 4 steady shots + 3 arcane shots uses 8.36 seconds, and in addition to being strongly focus-negative, it still pushes back your glyphed CS by a significant fraction of a second

On top of this, when I look at my Baleroc parses, my unglyphed Chimera shots tend to come about 10.2 seconds apart from each other, which means I'm averaging two tenths of a second of CS pushback even though I'm currently way over the 12.97% haste plateau. This might be caused by latency, by my own reaction time, or by a combination of the two; whatever is causing it, it's comparable to the pushback I've seen in the logs of hunters that are 6/7 Firelands heroics. I'd think that really super-amazing hunters probably average 10.1 seconds (or 9.1 seconds if CS is glyphed) between their Chimera shots.

What this means is that for any given cycle that pushes back CS, I should probably add another .2 seconds on top of that and then ask myself if it's really worth it.

Even without all of those considerations, however, we can see that 1850 haste rating doesn't seem to correlate to anything we'd want to call a plateau - in fact, it seems like sort of an arbitrary haste point that's half a second between anything neat and tidy. This doesn't mean it's bad, but it also means that it's not really a great target number. If, for example, you're glyphing Chimera shot and using 5 steadies and 2 arcanes, why stop at 1850 haste rating? Especially as a hunter with access to heroic T12 gear? In 391 gear you don't even need to do anything special with reforging such as not reforge into crit on a piece that lacks it and you'll easily be able to reach 2200 haste rating. This would mean a lot less pushback on your glyphed CS, even if it's still not a real "plateau".

There are also at least a few hunters that advocate the following: get as much haste as you can without sacrificing crit, glyph CS, and hardcast Aimed shot. This means giving up the Arcane shot glyph and accepting that, when we have to move we'll have to fire un-glyphed Arcanes.

Now, it's been clear for a while that Aimed shot sims better than even glyphed Arcane shot, but many of us have chosen to rely on ArcS to burn focus anyway, because starting an AiS and not finishing it is a substantial DPS loss. Stated differently: we have chosen to use ArcS because sims are different from the real world raiding environment.

The counter-argument is that if you play intelligently, you don't ever need to interrupt an AiS: you simply use ArcS instead for that moment, then go back to using AiS through those parts of the encounter when you can stand still.

This behavior in turn greatly devalues the ArcS glyph, because you're using so many fewer Arcane shots. In which case, why not use the CS glyph, right? Sure, you're not getting the full value of the glyph, but you're getting something out of it as long as you're not waiting a full second past the glyphed cooldown.

For reference, with my gear (which is nothing special), 5 steady shots and 1 hardcast AiS comes out to 8.58 seconds. If you factor in my average of .2 seconds extra wait time, that's still .4 seconds shaved off every CS as compared to my current ability usage. Which means that I'd theoretically get an extra Chimera shot out of every encounter that I currently fire at least 22 Chimera shots on (this is because the 9-second cooldown of a glyphed Chimera shot divided by .4 seconds = 22.5).

Again, this is at my current, mediocre gear level.

Conclusions and Recommendations!

  • As far as I can tell, there is nothing special about 1800 or 1850 haste rating.
  • However, neat and tidy plateaus are not necessarily that important.
  • Haste is probably always going to be better for single target damage than mastery will at current gear levels.
  • Even if you're not making use of the full value of the CS glyph, as long as you're getting some value out of it, it may be preferable to the Arcane shot glyph.
  • Mastery is way more important than haste for AoE damage. If progression for your guild on any given encounter requires better AoE, reforge for mastery over haste for that encounter.
  • Always test this stuff out for yourself, double-check the math and reasoning of others. Did I say something that doesn't make sense? Then maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I missed something. Please do tell me if this is the case!

There's one last thing I wanted to touch on, and that's number five from my list of possible DPS cycles you could try with around 1800-1850 haste rating. The interesting thing about that cycle is that it was strongly focus-negative. This means that, any given time you do all of those things, you'll be using more focus than you're generating. However, the T12 4-piece bonus has been vexatious for a number of hunters because it makes your next shot or Kill Command free, and it's easy for this to just end up as wasted focus. I've been wondering if the set bonus procs often enough to make a cycle like this, or perhaps one that uses one ArcS and one AiS, focus-positive on average?

Anyway! I hope this clears up some confusion. And don't worry about this kind of stuff TOO much: as long as you're doing well with the two basic rules from the very beginning of the post, you'll be doing pretty decent damage.

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