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Learn about SimCraft

WoW Insider just had a recent article regarding gear simulations, in which the author comes out in defense of gearing simulators (such as SimulationCraft), and while this article will likely lead to many joining the world of theorycrafting, I know that many others have been around the circuit for quite some time.  However, for those that are just getting into the theorycrafting game, you may be wondering where to start.

Where to Start?

A good place to start is by looking into your individual class theorycrafting sites.  As a shadow priest, I frequent the forums on http://www.shadowpriest.com (though I will admit that I have rarely posted on the site),  which is considered the quintessential shadow priest website, and I very much recommend going there if you are interested in making yourself into a top of the line Spriest.

However, you may want to get into doing a bit of your own theorycrafting, at which point, I would direct you over to the download section of the SimulationCraft (a.k.a. SimCraft) website, where you can pick up the latest version of their software.  Once you download the software, which is downloaded in a .zip file format, you simply have to unpackage the zip file, and find a place for it on your computer (for a decompression program, I suggest 7-Zip, an easy to use, Open Source (free) program).  Once you have unpackaged the zip file, you are ready to start your simulations.

To start your simulation with SimCraft, you have two options:

  1. Graphical Interface
  2. Command Prompt

I strongly recommend using the graphical interface (SimulationCraft.exe), because the command prompt version takes quite a bit more effort to use, and you basically end up with the same results anyway, so why not use something that is a bit easier to use.

Setting up Options

Once you have SimCraft up and running you will want to set up a few options, to do this click on the “Options” tab, and your options will be displayed for you.  Some of the options that you will want to pay special attention to on the first tab (“Globals”) are:

  • Fight Style – Helter Skelter (lots of movement) or Patchwerk (tank & spank)
  • Adds – Number of enemies that you are attacking (if it is just a boss, you can choose 0, if there are some adds pick 1-3, if there are a lot choose 9)
  • Target Race – Humanoid, Beast, Demon, Dragonkin, Elemental, Giant, or Undead (There seem to be some that are not working properly at this time, so I suggest leaving this at Humanoid for the time being).
  • Iterations – 100/1000/10000 The higher the number of iterations, the longer the simulation will take, but the more accurate it will be.  Choosing 1000 will usually generate pretty accurate results for most purposes.

Make sure you take a look at the other options on this tab as well, but don’t fuss over them too much (especially the Length option, as you generally don’t have a whole lot of control over the length of a fight).

After setting up the Global options, take a look at the other tabs.  If you prefer to simulate for a raid environment, be sure to check all of the applicable raid buffs and debuffs on the appropriate tabs.  If you are unsure which buffs and debuffs your raid has, you can just select all of them, as it will generally come close, especially if you have a raid that changes constantly.

Pay special attention to the last two tabs (“Scaling”) and (“Plots”), as these will determine what information is calculated and what information is displayed to you at the end of the simulation (personally, I prefer to have all stats checked for scaling, but only the important shadow priest stats (Intellect, Spirit, Spell Power, Hit, Crit, Haste, and Mastery) in the Plots tab).

Getting the Gear

In order for the simulation to give you any usable information, you need to import some sort of gear set.  Luckily, SimCraft allows you to choose where to import your gear from, and even offers a BiS (Best in Slot) option.  If you want to get the information based on your current gear, you can simply use the Battle.Net tab, and search for your character; the other options are CharDev, Rawr, BiS, and History.  If you are not familiar with CharDev, I recommend checking them out at CharDev.org.  Likewise, if you are unfamiliar with the Rawr program, I suggest stopping by the program’s website or stop by the online version over at ElitistJerks.com.  Essentially, you can use whichever method works best for you, as you should end up with the same results regardless of import method.  Regardless, once you choose your method, and find your information, click the Import! button on the bottom right corner of the program.

Running the Simulation

Once you have your information imported into SimCraft, and you have all of your options set, it is time to run the simulation.  To do this, you just have to click the “Simulate!” button on the bottom right corner of the program, and wait for the results.

That’s all there is to running SimCraft, really not that difficult, and it doesn’t take a lot of time, unless you decide to get into some much heavier theorycrafting.  Once the simulation is complete, you can actually grab the numbers from the “Scaling Factors” section, and plug them into an addon such as Pawn to make your gearing choices easier.  Keep in mind, however that YOUR SCALING FACTORS WILL CHANGE WITH EVERY NEW PIECE OF GEAR, so you will want to periodically run a new simulation (I generally run the simulation with every new piece of gear, but many do it only after changing a couple pieces out).

The Results of My Simulations

I recently ran a large set of simulations, in fact, all combined, there were around 88,000 iterations by the time I was done.  My goal with my simulations was to get as close as I could to the ideal scaling factors based on my current gear, so that I can accurately choose upgrades for myself while raiding.  In the end, I decided to create two sets of scaling factors, one for raiding and one for solo play (for comparison purposes).  Each set had a total of eight simulations run, with each run changing exactly one option out of the following: Fight Style (Helter Skelter vs. Patchwerk), Adds (0 vs. 3), and Smooth RNG (Yes vs. No).  The final result was 16 total simulations, with 80,000 iterations performed based on raiding buffs/debuffs, and an additional 8,000 iterations performed for the solo play (I chose to do more in depth simulation of raiding, because that is my main focus, and I wanted the solo scaling factors simply for comparison.

After taking down all of the scaling factors, I decided to average the values to come up with the following:


Avg DPS INT SPI S. P. Hit Crit Haste Mast
Helter Skelter 15846 3.0264 1.1624 1.7581 1.0702 0.9827 0.6939 0.7907
Patch 18474 2.7852 0.8183 2.1896 0.8352 1.0986 1.2439 1.0223
Total 17160 2.9058 0.9903 1.9739 0.9527 1.0406 0.9689 0.9065


Avg DPS INT SPI S. P. Hit Crit Haste Mast
Helter Skelter 10474 2.4536 1.1061 1.0722 1.1380 0.6075 0.2125 0.2573
Patch 12621 1.8522 0.7878 1.3036 0.6842 0.8412 0.7283 0.6484
Total 11701 2.1099 0.9242 1.2044 0.8787 0.7410 0.5072 0.4808

After reviewing these averages, I noticed a few glaring scaling differences, that most other results do not show.  First, that the scaling factors vary drastically depending on Raiding vs. Solo, specifically that the secondary stats seem to lose massive amounts of importance when you are doing solo work.  The second is that Helter Skelter fights (which really are most fights these days) favor raw power (Intellect, Spell Power, and Hit/Spirit) much more heavily than Patchwerk style fights, which move away from the primary stats and into the secondary stats (Crit, Haste, and Mastery).


Based on the fact that many fights during raids these days lean more toward the Helter Skelter style of fight, and with my current gear, I would be best off using the average that was calculated for those fights as opposed to the Patchwerk style fights.

That’s about it for this time folks, happy theorycrafting.

See you in the Shadows,


NOTE: If you are interested in seeing the complete results of my calculations take a look at the spreadsheet which contains the results of each simulation.

EDIT: I just now noticed that my spreadsheet is missing a line in the solo section.  I am not overly interested in that section (I actually ran it once, and deleted it for some reason), so the spreadsheet will likely stay as-is.

Categories: General
  1. January 30, 2013 at 2:05 AM

    well, that’s the value of mastery with your current level of haste – if you reforge, then the value of mastery relative to haste, based on your ‘new’ haste value will of course be different Personally haste comes out every so slightly ahead, but for most intents and purposes I’m viewing them as of equal value for now, until I gear to a point where there is a significant difference.

  1. February 5, 2011 at 8:32 AM

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