Comparing Apples with Apples: Wrangling WarcraftLogs

Introduction | The Magic Numbers | Getting Analysed | Digging Through Numbers | Looking Around | Conclusion

Introduction: Delete your DPS Meter

Recently I've had the opportunity to DPS.

How did I do? The traditional first port of call to answer that question is the fabled DPS meter (recount, details, whatever). Let's see how I did in relation to our other death knight:

The Death Knight Rumble

The problem is raw numbers aren't really an accurate reflection of performance here because we aren't even the same spec. It's much better to compare myself to other unholy death knights. But how do I do that?

The Magic Numbers: Percentiles and Brackets

On the ranking page of WarcraftLogs there are two important metrics: your overall percentile, and your bracket percentile. What do they mean?

Your rank percentile ranks you against everyone else that's done the fight. For example, a rank percentile of 40 meant that for every 100 unholy death knights that completed that fight, I was as good or better than 40 of them - 60% of unholy death knights did better than I did. That seems reasonable on the surface, but isn't a really useful metric though because it neglects the most important factor of DPS - gear.

The concept of a bracket is a WarcraftLogs invention and allows us to compare players of roughly the same item levels. Bracket groupings are usually 3 item levels wide (eg 950-952 so 950, 951, 952).

Your ilvl/bracket percentile ranks you against everyone that's done the fight that has roughly the same item level as you. In the screenshot above, my ilvl percentile was 12. For every unholy death knight at item level 950 to 952, I was only as good or better than 12% of them. 88% of the unholy death knights in my ilvl bracket did better than I did.

As you can see, this changes my analysis of the death knight comparison above, and shows why DPS meters don't tell the full story. I was only close to Eb because I outgeared him - he played significantly better in the fight than I did.

What the numbers tell me is that I have a lot of room for improvement - but how can I improve?

Note: I know what you're about to say. More DPS? More gear! That's not the point of this - what I'm trying to show is how you can improve performance with the gear you have.

Getting Analysed: WoWAnalyzer

Note: WoWAnalyzer is a community project and a work in progress. It may not be perfect for all specs. It will tell you if it's not.

WoWAnalyzer takes WarcraftLogs data and converts it into a series of recommendations. It's the quickest and easiest way to see how you can improve. For example, looking at my fight WoWAnalyzer tells me to do the following:

stacks on stacks on stacks (that I'm not using)

The key to making WoWAnalyzer recommendations work is doing one at a time. For example, next time I DPS I'm going to keep an eye on my stacks of Cold Heart and make sure I'm using Chains of Ice. Once I've got that sorted, I'll look at pooling more rune power before I use Dark Arbiter. Slowly but surely I should be able to introduce all the recommendations into my rotation and improve my performance.

Digging Through Numbers: WarcraftLogs Comparison

Maybe your spec isn't great on WoWAnalyzer, or maybe you want some more information. WarcraftLogs has a feature that allows you to search its database of reports to find people like you (same spec, same gear) doing raids like you (same raid size, same kill time) and compare what you're doing to them.

The default parameters are fine. You can tune it later if you'd like.

Tip: Don't click EU players. They have foreign ability names and it's confusing.

Clicking on one of the players returned by the tool will give you a side by side comparison with you. You can see from the screenshot that I wasn't generating nearly as much DPS from Virulent Plague (it's a DoT, and hitting less means I'm not keeping it up as much), so it's something I should probably focus on next time.

Looking Around: WarcraftLogs Bracket Statistics

So I know my DPS isn't great, and I know some things I need to improve upon. How do I know what my goal DPS should be?

WarcraftLogs provides a statistics view that aggregates all the information from its logs. We can filter this based on spec, bracket, difficulty and boss to get an accurate understanding of what everybody else is doing.

The 50th percentile is a good goal - that's the median DPS done by players who have killed this boss. From this chart you can see that the 50th percentile for an unholy death knight in bracket 950-952 is 1.361 million. My DPS was 1.188 million. I was about 173k behind - or about 12%. That's not a huge gap to make up.

Conclusion: The difference between poor and average isn't that much

With a few minutes work, I know where I stand, where I can get to, and how I'm going to get there. With a couple of tweaks to the way I play I can deal more DPS, which means we get more kills. I hope you'll take the time to do this process too and see if there's any way that you can improve.

If something doesn't make sense, or you want to discuss it in greater detail, you can hit me, Nyce, Eb or Neon up any time for a chat.