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[Guide] How to Use SimulationCraft to Min-Max Your Character for Operations

STAR WARS: The Old Republic > English > Flashpoints, Operations, and Heroic Missions
[Guide] How to Use SimulationCraft to Min-Max Your Character for Operations

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antonmb
05.23.2012 , 08:53 AM | #1
How to Use SimulationCraft to Min-Max Your Character
by Wugan of Methodical

Welcome to the Methodical Guide to using SimulationCraft to min-max your SWTOR Character. The purpose of this guide is to provide a step by step walkthrough to using Ask Mr. Robot and SimulationCraft to improve one's performance in Operations. This guide is aimed at players who are serious about their performance and want to know how to improve in order to help their raid team. It can be also used by guild leaders or officers to assist their members.

SimulationCraft is currently working for Sages/Sorcerers, Scoundrels/Operatives, Shadows/Assasins, and Mercenaries (but not Commandos yet). Hopefully other classes will be added soon, so make sure to follow the thread on MMO Mechanics (http://mmo-mechanics.com/swtor/forum...aft-for-SW-TOR).

You can also view this guide on our website.

I. Introduction

You should always remember that being a good DPS player is about much more than putting out damage. You need to be aware of your surroundings to avoid incoming damage and execute mechanics, use your group utility abilities when appropriate, and in general be a team player. However, you can do all those things and still be a below-average DPSer if you can’t also put out a competitive amount of damage for your class.

The biggest part of doing competitive damage is understanding your spec, rotation, and the encounter. You can think about each boss fight as a set of global cooldowns (GCDs) that you need to allocate. In a 300 second fight, for example, you have around 200 1.5 second GCDs that you need to fill. Far and away the easiest way to improve your DPS is to have a proper understand of what to do with each one of those GCDs (i.e., what buttons should you press and when should you press them), and that’s something you’ll need to learn through experience and researching your class. We can’t teach you how to do that in this guide.

However, once you have a solid understanding of your rotation and the encounter, you can start thinking about how to optimize your gear to do the most possible damage. If two players both execute the encounter and their rotation perfectly, the one who has done more work to optimize their gear will end up doing more DPS, which helps the boss die more quickly and helps your group succeed. Using Ask Mr. Robot and SimulationCraft is a great way to dig into your character and start min-maxing your performance.

II. Creating an Ask Mr. Robot Profile

The first step in this process is to create a profile for your character at Ask Mr. Robot. Head over to their site and create an account if you don’t already have one. This will allow you to save the profile we’re about to create. Next, click on the Character Builder under the SWTOR section of the header.

We’ll be using Wugan, a Jedi Sage DPS, as an example throughout this guide. You will be prompted to enter the various details about your character on a screen looking something like this:


Once you have your basic information entered, you will then want to fill in your talent tree, Datacron completion, and any global bonuses you have earned from the Legacy system by having Companions at max affection. You can find all these options in the header near the top of your character.

Now comes the main purpose of Ask Mr. Robot for our purposes: adding all your gear and current mods into the profile. Doing this now will allow you to easily import your gear set into SimulationCraft later on. You will also be able to keep this profile up to date as you improve your gear or try out potential gear changes without spending the credits to do so in-game.

Select the Gear Editor option to the right of the Gear Summary tab. Open up your SWTOR client and log into the game (note: running in fullscreen windowed mode will save you a lot of time when tabbing back and forth). Now, simply check your gear in game and add that gear to your profile using the search tools. For example, Wugan is using an orange crit-crafted lightsaber, so we just search for the name of the item and select it from the list.


Once you have your base item in, you’ll may need to adjust the mods if you have moved things around. Simply click on the power crystal, hilt, mod, enhancement or augment below the item name, and replace with the actual mod that you are using. Make sure to save your progress after each item that you add to your profile. Continue adding items (and your mods) for every slot until your profile matches your in-game character.

On the right side of the screen, you can select which buffs you have and compare the stat summary to what you see in game. If it doesn’t match up, make sure you’ve entered all your Datacrons and Companion bonuses. If it still doesn’t match up, don’t stress about it too much as long as you have accurately entered all your gear and mods.

Make sure to save your profile. Now that we have a copy of your character on Ask Mr. Robot, we’ll work on setting up SimulationCraft.

III. Using SimulationCraft

SimulationCraft is a tool that was originally developed for World of Warcraft, and has now been spun off to provide many of the same features for SWTOR. You can always find the most recent version of the program here: http://code.google.com/p/simulationcraft-swtor/. SimulationCraft takes the gear, talent spec, and fight style that you input and then runs thousands of simulated combat sessions in order to determine how your character will perform.

To install the program, click on the download link on the left side of their site to get the newest version as a zip file. Once the file downloads, extract it to a location of your choosing. I just keep it in my Downloads folder, and then replace it with newer versions as they come out. The default folder will save as something that looks like simc-swtor-120-2-win32. Open up that folder and run the SimulationCraft application file to start the program.

A. Setting up the SimulationCraft Options

Navigate to the options tab along the top. Here you can set up all of the background information that the program will use when it runs the test. Under version you can select either Live or PTS. Iterations is the number of tests the program will run. I generally use 25,000 but you can play around with this number. More iterations gives you more precision, especially when trying to determine stat weights, but will take longer to run.

I usually keep World Lag to low but you can increase this if you often have to play with significant latency. You can adjust the fight length and vary the amount that fight lengths vary across the iterations you have selected. The default options will work well for most people.

Fight Style is an important option. If you just want to know your character will perform in a fight where you can stand still and do nothing but DPS, check the “Patchwerk” option, named after a WoW boss where you pretty much did just that. We find that Bioware usually wants us to move around a bit during SWTOR encounters, so we usually use the Light Movement option. Feel free to play around here and see what works for you. The remaining options under the Globals tab can be kept at default for most users.


Under the buffs and debuffs tab, select the buffs and debuffs you generally have in your raid. For the most part, you’re pretty safe selecting “Toggle All.” At the time of this article, armor debuffs are stacking in SWTOR, but hopefully that will be fixed soon. We’ll skip the Scaling tab for now and instead focus on importing your character.

B. Importing Your Character and Comparing Talent Builds

Navigate to the Import tab along the top of SimulationCraft. You’ll notice that the first option here looks a lot like the Ask Mr. Robot page you just set up. Use the search tools to pull up the profile that you created and saved. You should see the profile load and the progress bar on the bottom right fill up to 100%.

Click on import, which will bring your setup from Ask Mr. Robot into SimulationCraft and take you to the Simulate tab. This will display the options and gear that we have set up so far. The information will look a bit confusing if you’re not used to the program but for our purposes we don’t really need to understand what’s being displayed. As you learn more about SimulationCraft, you’ll be able to tweak the options here to adjust your rotation priority or make last minute gear changes. What we’re looking for is to have the bottom right corner look like this, which means we’re ready to run the simulation and see our results!

Go ahead and Simulate, and you should get a nice results page that looks something like this:


The top section shows your simulated DPS. The first thing you’re probably thinking is “wow, I don’t do that much DPS when I actually play the game; this thing is broken!” Keep in mind that this number is showing your DPS under ideal conditions where you have all buffs/debuffs, low latency, never miss a GCD, and execute your rotation flawlessly. It’s not going to match up to what you do in raids, or even on the target dummy.

What you should be concerned with is NOT the actual DPS number you get, but how that DPS number compares to different setups. Now that you know how to create a profile in Ask Mr. Robot and simulate that setup in SimulationCraft, you can trying using different talent specs and compare your DPS output. You can try different fight styles like Heavy Movement or Patchwerk and see how that affects things. You can play around with your various specs and simulate doing thousands of raid bosses with them rather than using trial and error in your one lockout per week. Using SimulationCraft to test various specs is a great start, but what if we want to know how to maximize our gear once we have picked a spec?

IV. Playing With Gear and Stat Weights to Min-Max

Now that we know the basics, let’s head back to the Options tab and go to the Scaling section. Scaling is where you tell SimulationCraft which stats you are interested in testing. Pick only the stats that are relevant to your character. For example, Sages or Sorcerers would select Willpower, Crit Rating, Alacrity Rating, Power, and Surge.

Once you have stat scaling set up, import your character again and run the simulation. Note that running a simulation with stat scaling will take a while to run. You’ll get an output that looks something like this:


So what does that jumble of numbers tell us? Focus on the first row, labeled Scale Factors. This row gives a numeric representation of how much adding additional amounts of each stat will help Wugan’s DPS in comparison to the other stats. For example, in Wugan’s current setup we can see that Crit rating is valued more highly than Power. If I replace one of my current Power mods with Crit and then run the same simulation, it should return a higher DPS number. The same is true with Alacrity when compared to Surge, so swapping some Surge out in favor of Alacrity should provide a small DPS boost.

The Normalized row has taken all these numbers and calibrated them against Power so you can more easily compare how each stat stacks up in relation to Power. In my current gear, each point of Crit is worth about 1.22 points of Power, and each point of Alacrity is worth about .44 points of Power. For our purposes, we can look at either Scale Factors or Normalized; it’s just two ways of thinking about the same set of data. What we are interested in is the relationship between the stats.

The key thing to recognize is that for most classes and specs, there is no set order of stats when gearing your character. The importance of each stat depends on how much you have of the other stats. When I first started gearing up Wugan in the current tier, Power and Surge were rated much more highly. But now that I have solid amounts of both stats, the incremental DPS gain from Crit and Alacrity is actually higher.

This is why people like Kaedis who make great class guides on MMO Mechanics don’t want to just tell you what order to stack your stats. They would need to know your current gear in order to determine your upgrade path. In Wugan’s current setup and spec, the order is Crit > Willpower > Power > Alacrity > Surge. For your Sage or Sorcerer, that list may look completely different. The important thing is to run SimulationCraft for yourself and get your own stat weights, and now you know how to do just that!

With your personalized stat weights you can go back to your Ask Mr. Robot profile and change around some mods. If Crit is showing as bigger DPS increase for you than Power, add some more Crit at the expense of Power, re-run the sim, and see if your DPS improves. For example, Wugan has an Advanced Aptitude Mod 26 in his helm. If I replace that with an Advanced Mettle Mod 26, I lose 41 Power and gain 41 Crit.

I went ahead and swapped those two mods in Wugan’s Ask Mr. Robot profile, saved it, and then imported it back into SimulationCraft using the steps outlined above.


In the image above, you can see that Wugan’s simulated DPS improved from 1882 to 1885. It’s a small improvement, but an improvement nonetheless. The stat weights are also slightly changed because now I have more Crit and less Power. Crit is still weighted higher, but less highly than it was before.

We also see that Alacrity is weighted higher than Surge for Wugan. What happens if I decide to ignore these weightings because I heard somewhere that “Alacrity is bad for DPS Sages.” I’ll trade out an Enhancement with Alacrity in favor of one with Surge. As expected, my simulated DPS goes down to 1873, indicating that I shouldn’t listen to everything I read on the official forums as shown below:


In this way, you can get an idea what stats you want to focus on with your next upgrade in a way that is custom-tailored to your character. Using Ask Mr. Robot and SimulationCraft, you can min-max without the expense, hassle, and inaccuracy of moving mods around in game and hitting the test dummy for hours.

We hope you found this guide helpful, and look for other Methodical Guides coming soon! Keep checking out our website for updates or you can also follow us on Twitter!

A home for busy adults seeking high level PvE in a respectful, mature atmosphere.
Diwata | Sage

Lunchmunny's Avatar


Lunchmunny
05.23.2012 , 10:17 AM | #2
The best part about this is how it changes your stat weight based in your current gear. Nice.

dipstik's Avatar


dipstik
05.23.2012 , 01:58 PM | #3
really awesome ty.

Gaktar's Avatar


Gaktar
05.23.2012 , 02:19 PM | #4
Thanks! I'll be passing this on to the guild. For myself, I'll keep an eye on this for when it's working for powertechs.
SWMoniTOR - Peer-to-Peer Live Combat Parser
Makya ||| Standard Deviations ||| The Shadowlands

TylerTrojan's Avatar


TylerTrojan
05.23.2012 , 02:19 PM | #5
This is fantastic - definitely will have to try it out!

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TylerTrojan
05.23.2012 , 03:25 PM | #6
Is there any way using these tools to account for the use of stims and /or adrenals? If so, could someone point me to where?

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Wugan
05.23.2012 , 03:38 PM | #7
Quote: Originally Posted by TylerTrojan View Post
Is there any way using these tools to account for the use of stims and /or adrenals? If so, could someone point me to where?
After you do the character import, you will see a section on the next page that looks like this:

actions=stim,type=exotech_resolve
actions+=/force_valor
actions+=/snapshot_stats
actions+=/telekinetic_throw,if=buff.psychic_projection_dd.up
actions+=/power_potion
actions+=/force_potency
actions+=/use_relics
actions+=/weaken_mind,if=!ticking
actions+=/force_in_balance,if=force>80
actions+=/mind_crush,if=buff.presence_of_mind.react
actions+=/telekinetic_throw
actions+=/project,moving=1,if=force>120

If you want to not use a stim or adrenal, simply remove the lines with that action and it will run without them. So for example if you delete the line called "actions+=/power_potion", it won't simulate using an adrenal on cooldown.
A home for busy adults seeking high level PvE in a respectful, mature atmosphere.
Wugan --- Sage

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TylerTrojan
05.23.2012 , 03:59 PM | #8
Perfect - didn't realize that it already assumed use of stims and adrenals - thanks!

Aurojiin's Avatar


Aurojiin
05.23.2012 , 04:01 PM | #9
Can SimulationCraft be used in any way to help healers optimise their gearing?

Inzi's Avatar


Inzi
05.24.2012 , 08:12 AM | #10
Quote: Originally Posted by Aurojiin View Post
Can SimulationCraft be used in any way to help healers optimise their gearing?
Currently it doesn't seem to give that option. However, I HAVE used SimulationCraft for healing in other games and really don't feel like it provides a very good picture of your ability in a raid because the highest raw throughput of healing tends to be pretty impractical for most healing circumstances.

A better option for HEALING is to use a spreadsheet where you can input your actual healing tendencies and use THAT to predict your stat weights. If you can't find one, PM me and I can send you a link to my personal spreadsheet
A home for busy adults seeking high level PvE in a respectful, mature atmosphere.
Ferne R'y | Sage