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Latest Analysis of Alacrity for Commando/Merc

STAR WARS: The Old Republic > English > Classes
Latest Analysis of Alacrity for Commando/Merc

RuQu's Avatar


RuQu
02.16.2012 , 10:33 AM | #1
My latest alacrity chart can be seen here.

There are separate scales for the right and left. The right is for the total number of casts, and is on a different scale so it doesn't wash out the detail of the other abilities.

They can be seen with the same scale here.

This was done over a fixed time interval, which should show the benefit of Alacrity for getting in extra casts in the same time period.

We do see this, but what is clear, see the second chart, is that all of the increase in Cast Counts come from increased HS casts (red line), and, in fact, the total number of AP and MP casts drops continually from a starting value of 122 casts to 106 at 39% alacrity. This makes sense considering the fact that Alacrity increases the Effective Cost of abilities.

Looking at the first chart, we can examine the details. We see the decrease in AP and MP usage and increase in HS usage as described above. We also see that, over a 300 second (5 minute) fight, the alacrity increases only earn you 1 extra SCC at 10.5% alacrity, and 2 extra at a very high 30% alacrity. Any claims that alacrity is beneficial because of increased SCC usage are clearly inaccurate.

We also see that our resource mechanics again put a limit on the benefit of Alacrity. This simulation was run with the restriction that AP would not drop us below 4 Ammo during SCC usage. With that restriction in place, we see that there is a limit on the number of AP and MP casts we can get in during a SCC phase, no matter how fast those two spells cast, after which the SCC phase has to be filled with HS casts.

We start out being able to cast AP and MP 66 times during SCC, over a 5 minute fight. This holds steady until 5% Alacrity, where we first manage to fit in extra usages. It eventually comes back down, and from 18.5-31% it is again in the 66-70 range, with some slight fluctuations.

Where do we see the most benefit? From 5-7.5%, with a slightly lower usage in 7.5-14%, but that is still more than you get in at 0-4.5%.

Where do we start seeing Hammer Shot being used during SCC? 8.5%, although then only rarely, likely when entering SCC at a lower initial ammo level. By 15%, we are seeing usage with every SCC, and at 33% we are seeing two Hammer Shot casts per SCC.

So where does this leave us? I would say we want to aim for about 5.5-7% cast time reduction. This should give us enough extra time in SCC to toss out that final Kolto Bomb without clipping our AP/MP cycle, and doesn't waste any itemization sneaking HS casts into SCC.

Once I convert the Combat Medic Alacrity tool over to work with Bodyguards, I will toss the latest version of the software up on Google Code so people can produce similar results with different assumptions. That will be version 1.0.6b, so if you still see 1.0.5, I haven't posted it yet.
Brushing off the dust on my Assault Cannon. Time to get back in the fight.

RuQu's Avatar


RuQu
02.16.2012 , 03:32 PM | #2
I completed the bodyguard conversion, and there were interesting implications for the difference in our mechanic. In short, Alacrity is worse for Commandos than it is for Mercs due to the imbalance in our resource tuning.

Regen Window Sizes:
Max: Mercs - 40%, Commandos - 33.33%
Med: Mercs - 40%, Commandos - 41.67%
Min: Mercs - 20%, Commandos - 25%

So Commandos drop to into medium regen sooner, and also drop into low regen sooner. The end result is greater Effective Costs with Alacrity. As is show in the quote (of mine) from a Merc thread, Mercs continue to cast ~120 Healing Scans + Rapid Scans in a 5 minute window, regardless of alacrity. Commandos start at ~120, but drop steadily to 105 at 39% Alacrity. Commandos also start needing to cast HS during SCC at 8.5%, compared to Mercs at 12.5%.

Quote: Originally Posted by RuQu View Post
First thing to note is that all of these are based on % cast time reduction. That is the combined value between stats and skills. With a 30% cap on alacrity from rating and 9% possible from skills, they are plotted from 0-39%. Find a percent that works for you, then respec and regear to get there. The calculator in my signature can help you figure out what rating you need with different skills to reach a given value.

Here is what I output for Mercs. Note, you can follow the link in my signature and version 1.0.6b is up, so you can download that and generate your own using different assumptions.

First run assumed a rotation like that that produced the third of my graphs you linked in the first post. I assumed there that you would not cast AP (Healing Scan to y'all) if you had less than 4 Ammo left. 1 Ammo is usually ~8Heat, so I assumed you had 32 heat left to burn, which meant a cap of 68.

That produced this chart for Mercs.

Of note, at 5% you start getting in extra Healing and Rapid Scan casts during SCG. Note that you can't actually afford any more of them (the green line stays essentially flat), just more of them are during SCG. Note also that you start seeing a rise in Rapid Shots usage during SCG at 12.5%. By my interpretation, you should aim to be over the 5% hump, but below 12.5%, and since the only gain you get between the two is the rise in the red line (Rapid Shot casts), and Rapid Shots is terribly weak, you should try and stay closer to the 5% line.

If you are interested, compare the above to the Commando version. Note that Mercs stay at ~120 HSc + RSc casts in 5 minutes regardless of Alacrity, but Commandos see a continual drop down to 105 at 39%. This is because Mercs stay in max regen until 40% resource usage, but Commandos only stay in max until 33.33%. Our medium zones are the same size, 40% Commando, 41% Merc, and Commandos have the higher cap on minimum regen (we can't drop below 25%, you cant drop below 20%). It seems minor, but it adds up in greater Effective Cost (EC) of our abilities as seen in the cast count decline with Alacrity and the fact that we start casting Hammer Shot during SCC at 8.5% instead of 12.5% for Mercs.

Back to Mercs, which is what you all care about over here, this is a more aggressive rotation, allowing HSc usage during SCG until 80Heat, but not exceeding that. Note that again we see a benefit at 5%, but the Rapid Shot usage gets pushed back to 16%. It should be noted that while this is more aggressive, due to increased Heat usage, it takes longer to regen, and the 68 Heat rotation actually produces better HPS over the 5 minute fight.

So what can we take away from this?
1) Mercs and Commandos are not mirrors. The different resource has tangible effects, in the Mercs favor.
2) Alacrity is worse for Commandos than Mercs, due to the more limiting Commando resource.
3) 5%-7% Alacrity is sufficient to let you slip extra Healing Scans and Rapid Scans into SCG.
4) More than 5-7% Alacrity is wasted by only buying you more of your weakest ability.
5) The return on Alacrity from extra SCG rounds is nearly zero.
6) Alacrity over 12.5% is wasted since you cannot reasonably afford to cast any more HSc/RSc combos within SCG than you could before that, so you are just applying that 10% buff to Rapid Shots.
7) Follow the link in my signature to experiment more yourself with different assumptions about fight length, skills, and usage thresholds.
Brushing off the dust on my Assault Cannon. Time to get back in the fight.

RuQu's Avatar


RuQu
02.16.2012 , 03:35 PM | #3
Also worth sharing here, an analysis of the decrease in scaling with Power (and by extension Crit/Surge/Aim) as you increase Alacrity. Even without the opportunity cost of not picking something else, Alacrity makes you weaker (ie, if you replace an item with Power/Surge on it with one with even more Power/Surge, you get less benefit at high alacrity than you would at low. Your scaling decreases).


Quote: Originally Posted by RuQu View Post
I should also reiterate that you stay at 120 Casts of Healing Scan or Rapid Scan (for our purposes I treated them as the same, ie Big Heals that cast faster and therefore have changing EC vs tiny heal that is instant, Rapid Shots). You aren't getting any more of your important heals in over a 5 minute fight than you did before, although you can fit more in during a given short window. The resource is the constraint here, not the cast time, and, for us Commandos, we actually cast fewer over 5 minutes, not more, due to poor tuning of our resource compared to yours.

Let's also look at the effect that this has on return on investment in other points.

Let's examine the 68 Heat rotation.

This is a chart showing the percentage of the casts that are Rapid Shots. It starts as 23.6% of your casts, and ends at 43%.

So why does that matter? Let's look at the coefficients on our abilities, which is how well they scale.

Rapid Scan has a coefficient of 2.72.
Healing Scan is 1.94, plus the HoT bring it to 2.46.
Emergency Scan is 2.28.

We initially had 178 total casts, of which 42 were RSh, 12 were ES, and 124 were HSc or RSc. Since HSc and RSc usually come as a pair, we will average their coefficient and use a value of 2.59. At 39% we had 236 casts, of which 98 were RSh, 125 were HSc or RSc, and 13 were ES.

So what do we do with these values? We multiply them by our Bonus Healing. For every +1 point of Power, we get +0.17 Bonus Healing, +1 Aim gives us +0.14 Bonus Healing.

Using the cast counts, we can form a "Rotation Coefficient," (let's call him Rocco, RoCo) the number we multiply to see what a change in Power would do for the entire rotation. To make the numbers a little cleaner, let's just assume we have a combination of Power and Aim to gain +1 Bonus Healing.

So what is the RoCo for the initial rotation? RoCo_0 = (42*1 + 12*2.28 + 124*2.59) = 2.19.

Now let's look at the numbers at 39%: RoCo_39 = (98*1 + 13*2.28 + 125*2.59) = 1.91.


Eek! I'm afraid of numbers version.


By stacking alacrity, you never gain any extra hard hitting heals (and Commandos lose some), instead you gain Hammer/Rapid Shots. By increasing the ratio of weak heals to strong ones, you actually make yourself scale poorer with gear.

&ETWTLDR (Even that was too long, didn't read) Version

Alacrity is terrible. Stop stacking it.
Brushing off the dust on my Assault Cannon. Time to get back in the fight.

_droider_'s Avatar


_droider_
02.17.2012 , 02:51 PM | #4
Legendary info. I know you just posted the results and ignored any theory crafting, but do you think it would become effective again if they resolved the resource issues for commando/Merc/op?

RuQu's Avatar


RuQu
02.17.2012 , 03:39 PM | #5
Quote: Originally Posted by _droider_ View Post
Legendary info. I know you just posted the results and ignored any theory crafting, but do you think it would become effective again if they resolved the resource issues for commando/Merc/op?
Absolutely. The solution is to ensure that the EC does not change with Alacrity. I call this making Alacrity resource neutral.

I'm not asking for it to increase regen, if you spend all of your Ammo spamming full price 3 Ammo MPs on yourself, it should take just as long to regen to full as it does for a fresh character.

Let's look at the naked Commando's neutral rotation.
At 0% Alacrity, between 8 and 12 Ammo
AP: 1.5s, 2Ammo, net cost 1.1, rotation cost 1.1
MP: 2.0s, 1 Ammo, net cost -0.2, rotation cost 0.9
HS: 1.5s, 0 Ammo, net cost -0.9, rotation cost 0

Now speed it up to 20% Alacrity (reasonable value since we can get 9 from skills alone)
AP: 1.2s, net cost 1.28, rotation cost 1.28
MP: 1.6s, net cost 0.04, rotation cost 1.32
HS: 1.5s, net cost -0.9, rotation cost 0.42

What used to be neutral, now costs 3.5% of your total, which will only get worse once you drop out of max regen, which you will, so doing that rotation twice, forces you to cast an extra HS, and while the faster cast times roughly fit it in (save 1.4s, need to cast a 1.5s HS), it does increase the HS:Total Cast ratio, reducing your scaling.

What it should do, is allow you to cast the above rotation in 4.3 seconds instead of 5, while ending at t+4.3 with 0 net change in Ammo.

Make Ammo cost scale with Alacrity (on the backend. Tell us so we can adjust guides and models, but it doesn't really need to display in game).

Actual_Ammo_Cost = Base_Ammo - regen*(delta_cast_time)


Where regen is the appropriate value for your current Ammo level (0.24, 0.36, 0.6). This would make Alacrity resource neutral and allow it to function as intended and actually be desirable.
Brushing off the dust on my Assault Cannon. Time to get back in the fight.

medouneu's Avatar


medouneu
02.28.2012 , 04:00 PM | #6
This is great information, and I appreciate your obvious skill and hard work.

I was wondering how this translates to the PvP battlefield. While many PvE situations may allow the combat medic to sit back and spam non-stop heals, the PvP environment is rarely so accommodating. At 50, it's the rare Imperial team that is foolish enough to let the healer heal undisturbed (they're so inconsiderate).

While I do my best to take advantage of both range and line-of-sight, I still spend a considerable amount of time CCed, dodging, and activating defensive buffs. All of this means that I spend less ammo than I would normally, except in emergency situations when I use SCC to spam AP (although I usually avoid this, since it burns ammo too fast) rather than the usual AP - MP.

From this point of view, the downside of Alacrity - increased ammo consumption - is less of an issue, and its ability to get a quick heal to someone as they're going down can be a literal life-saver. Nonetheless, I remain partial to Critical Rating, since each crit increases critical healing and alacrity due to skill points. However, this too can be overdone, as I recently discovered that stacking a Critical/Surge relic with a Critical or a Surge adrenal leads to seriously diminishing returns.

I wonder if you have any thoughts on the value of Alacrity over other secondary stats (Critical Rating, Surge, and Power) in the PvP environment.

RuQu's Avatar


RuQu
02.28.2012 , 04:23 PM | #7
Quote: Originally Posted by medouneu View Post
This is great information, and I appreciate your obvious skill and hard work.

I was wondering how this translates to the PvP battlefield. While many PvE situations may allow the combat medic to sit back and spam non-stop heals, the PvP environment is rarely so accommodating. At 50, it's the rare Imperial team that is foolish enough to let the healer heal undisturbed (they're so inconsiderate).

While I do my best to take advantage of both range and line-of-sight, I still spend a considerable amount of time CCed, dodging, and activating defensive buffs. All of this means that I spend less ammo than I would normally, except in emergency situations when I use SCC to spam AP (although I usually avoid this, since it burns ammo too fast) rather than the usual AP - MP.

From this point of view, the downside of Alacrity - increased ammo consumption - is less of an issue, and its ability to get a quick heal to someone as they're going down can be a literal life-saver. Nonetheless, I remain partial to Critical Rating, since each crit increases critical healing and alacrity due to skill points. However, this too can be overdone, as I recently discovered that stacking a Critical/Surge relic with a Critical or a Surge adrenal leads to seriously diminishing returns.

I wonder if you have any thoughts on the value of Alacrity over other secondary stats (Critical Rating, Surge, and Power) in the PvP environment.
In a situation with effectively unlimited resources, Alacrity is actually a good return on the investment for HPS per point, the problem comes from the fact that our class is, in PvE, defined by our limited resource, which breaks the functionality of Alacrity.

In a PvP environment, this no longer holds true. Short fights, where your team kills a people then has some time to recover (even if just 15-30s) makes them all essentially separate fights, from an Ammo perspective. Add to this the non-spamming of heals while running, CCed, capping an objective, popping defensives, etc and, on top of that, the free refill if you die, and the Effective Cost penalty of Alacrity ceases to be an issue. The risk of interrupts and the need to rapidly get heals to people before running away or getting CCed from a distance also puts a premium on cast speed.

I haven't done any math on it, and PvP is far too dynamic to really model like the current calculator does for PvE, but I'd intuitively recommend high values of Alacrity. The Alacrity from talents, including First Responder, is added after the DR for Alacrity rating, so I'd probably put crit second. That's just my guess though, since I really never PvP. I've been considering going with one of my guildies who does a ton of it, but I haven't had the time yet.
Brushing off the dust on my Assault Cannon. Time to get back in the fight.

Mirdthestrill's Avatar


Mirdthestrill
02.28.2012 , 04:59 PM | #8
I'm very confused by all this math because I stink at math. Can I have a summary in layman's terms? Thanks in advance.
I <3 alts!

RuQu's Avatar


RuQu
02.28.2012 , 05:04 PM | #9
Quote: Originally Posted by Mirdthestrill View Post
I'm very confused by all this math because I stink at math. Can I have a summary in layman's terms? Thanks in advance.
Easiest I can:

PvP: Alacrity is still great, use it.

PvE: Alacrity is terrible. Get enough that people don't die right before your cast lands (that will vary with skill, lag, reflexes, etc), and then stop. The reasons are complicated (and mathy), but it involves negative interactions between cast time reduction and our regen mechanics, coupled with the differences between Heat and Ammo implementation. Try and stay between 5.5-7.5% if that is feasible for you and you aren't having people die midcast.
Brushing off the dust on my Assault Cannon. Time to get back in the fight.

pennstatety's Avatar


pennstatety
03.07.2012 , 12:17 PM | #10
RuQu,

Thanks so much for all that you have done for the SWTOR community, your maths and analysis have really helped show some of the errors in the gearing and stats that are currently being pushed on healers (ie. alacrity).

My question is, now that surge diminishing returns occur more quickly, how does a Merc/Trooper go about optimizing theirgear? Our only choice for enhancements are ones with +power +alacrity, +power + surge, + crit + surge. I find myself with too much alacrity at my gear level already (5/5 Columi + other tionese/columi level pieces in other slots) and wanting to trade some of that alacrity in for more power or crit but I can't really. I think what we really need is a +crit + power enhancement, as I'm currently trying to replace some +power +alacrity for +power +surge, but will probably hit the diminishing returns level on surge quickly.