Thursday, October 25, 2007

Started a WoW Blog

I started a blog just to jot down random stuff about my experiences playing WoW. It's really hard to work on data collection when it keeps you from playing the game at all. (I don't have a lot of spare time)

Big Red Pet

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Inevitable Hiatus Post.

If it wasn't obvious by now, I haven't spent a lot of time working on this lately. I'm firmly committed to discussing the finer points of builds (and point people once again to the largely empty forum I've set up for this type of discussion) so hopefully I can start up some discussion.

If you're particularly proud of your build, I highly encourage you to sign up on the forums and write up a post in your class forum about it. If we can get enough people to do this, discussion will surely follow.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

New Build Shop: Priest 14/0/47

The Build Shop over at WoW Insider is experimenting with a new format, now it's interview-style. Their first target is Skosiris from the oh so awesome Wowhead. Check it out.

I'm out of state visiting relatives so this is quick. I'm currently rewriting everything for speed.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Armory to Data Miners - It's ok!

I finally got around to looking at the recent batch of armory updates, and noticed this little gem:

XML file size reduction: The XML files used by the Armory have been optimized for speed, partly by streamlining the amount of code in the files. As a result, third-party sites that mine Armory data may need to make adjustments to account for the new file configurations.

There you go, implicit permission from Blizzard to suck down data.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Report - 20070814232234

Eventually there will be 7 reports. The base report consists of all level 70s broken down by class, with the top 20 specs for each class. The remaining 6 reports are further broken down by the following metrics: battlegroup, faction, gender, race, realm, and realm type. There is also an index page as a jumping off point to all reports. Unfortunately at this time battlegroup and realm breakdowns aren't working properly. I need to design custom XSL templates for them as they don't mesh with the other reports as easily. Once those templates are created I'll link to them here. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Report - Spec Breakdown by Realm Type

Ok, I've got all the characters from my first run loaded with updated armory data. This time I store the raw XML, (and much props to Okoloth for a nice method to merge all armory data into a single XML file) then when I want to run a report at a point in time, I export the information I'm interested in to a database for quick searching. After writing insane scripts to generate HTML from the database last time, I've learned my lesson. Now the data is exported in XML and I'm using XSL to transform the data into tables. The first report I've generated is a breakdown of each class' top 20 specs, by realm type.
For each class you'll see the top 20 specs for RP-PvP, PvE, PvP and RP servers. Unfortunately, in order to make sure the output shows up in all browsers properly, I'm not serving raw XML with an XSL stylesheet directly, but using PHP to load the XML and XSL and output the resulting HTML. The raw XML is available here. You will note that the XML also contains the top 10 builds for each spec. I didn't use that data in the HMTL report because I wanted to keep the tables somewhat simple, and by using XSL I can tweak the stylesheet to include that data once I figure out a good way to represent it. (plus I can make it prettier much more easily, if I ever learn how)

Taking a quick look at the data for Hunters, 41/20/0 dominates both PvE and PvP realms, but interestingly enough, a larger percentage of Hunters with that spec are on PvP servers. (7920 vs. 5938, or 7.861% vs. 5.894%) Also, while the first Survival spec on PvP servers is only ranked #9 (0/21/40), the first PvE Survival spec is at #7. Though to be fair, the percentage of the class is higher in the PvP spec. In fact, it's pretty clear that out of the Hunters represented in this table there are more PvP Hunters than PvE.

Please feel free to talk about this report either here or on our forums.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

New Build Shop up - Warlock ??/41+/??

WoW Insider has a new Build Shop up, this time focusing on a Demonology spec. This one's a bit open-ended, since the requirement is just 41+ points in demonology. I've updated the existing 70s I have now and fetched their (relatively) current character sheets. Scanning the top 20 Warlock specs on my current report, #5 is 7/43/11, and #6 is 20/41/0. Coming in at #16 is 18/43/0, #18 is 5/45/11, and #20 is 9/41/11.

Obviously, I've got a new report out, but I'm redesiging the report generation to be more general and flexible. The goal here is to support live queries against that database on various criteria. I know for a fact that making this live will kill my server, so I need to figure out a way to ensure that doesn't happen. In any case, you should eventually be able to do top N spec/builds per class, with these additional variables: faction, race, gender, realm, realm type and battlegroup. I think a lot of people will be interested in the realm type breakdown and if there truly is a difference between how PvE and PvP players choose their talents.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

765k * 5 XML files == 7.5 gigs of data

I'm almost a third of the way through reimporting all the characters from the first run into the new db. At the moment I'm only sucking down and storing the raw xml from armory and haven't done any processing. While that's going on I'm desigining a new database table structure with the concept of tracking characters over time in mind.

In the meantime, does anyone have any pointers to good tutorials on XSL? Outputting raw html is kind of a pain so being able to do XSL transformations on XML output would probably make things a bit simpler.

Friday, August 3, 2007

2nd Fetch update - 416k and counting

After 3 days or so, I've fetched new data on 416,000 of the 2.5 million characters I have so I should have new data by the end of august. I need to figure out the best way to multithread this process so I can grab data faster. As a side note, the XML data for those 416,000 characters is taking up close to 4 gigs of drive space. Coming up with a more efficient storage method is next on the list.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

What constitutes being a particular spec versus a hybrid?

There seems to be a difference of opinion on this one. Prior to TBC, it was generally agreed that you were "specced" to a particular talent tree if you had at least 31 points in that talent which means just over 50% of your talent points are in a single tree. Now that TBC is out and there are an additional 10 points to allocate, some people say that you're a hybrid unless you have at least 41 points in a tree, which is at least 67%. What do you think? Personally I've stuck with 31 points in a single tree as being specced. I'll run some numbers and update this post shortly.

Update: Here's my quick class breakdown. Each Tree will have two numbers, number of characters that have 31 or more points in that tree, and number of characters that have 41 or more points in that tree. The remaining number are hybrids by that definition.

Total number of 70s: 782,247

Druid: 76371
Balance: 11053 (14.47%) , 9370 (12.27%)
Feral Combat: 44857 (58.74%) , 43897 (57.48%)
Restoration: 20421 (26.74%) , 17934 (23.48%)
Hybrids: 40 (0.05%) , 5170 (6.77%)

Hunters: 96671
Beast Mastery: 26328 (27.23%) , 24733 (25.58%)
Marksmanship: 62945 (65.11%) , 59058 (61.09%)
Survival: 7101 (7.35%) , 3419 (3.54%)
Hybrids: 297 (0.31%) , 9461 (9.79%)

Arcane: 41297 (39.42%) , 12353 (11.80%)
Fire: 33784 (32.25%) , 28360 (27.07%)
Frost: 29506 (28.17%) , 27602 (26.35%)
Hybrids:173 (0.17%) , 36445 (34.79%)

Holy: 50493 (72.82%) , 45571 (65.72%)
Protection: 9991 (14.41%) , 9124 (13.05%)
Retribution: 8526 (12.19%) , 7974 (11.40%)
Hybrids: 328 (0.47%) , 6669 (9.62%)

Discipline: 10577 (11.61%) , 4728 (5.20%)
Holy: 44361 (48.70%) , 9712 (10.66%)
Shadow: 35781 (39.28%) , 35030 (38.45%)
Hybrids: 375 (0.41%) , 41624 (45.69%)

Assassination: 24234 (25.57%) , 19420 (20.49%)
Combat: 47267 (49.88%) , 40052 (42.27%)
Subtlety: 21193 (22.36%) , 13901 (14.67%)
Hybrids: 2066 (2.18%) , 21567 (22.76%)

Elemental: 13797 (26.90%) , 6326 (12.34%)
Enhancement: 16685 (32.54%) , 12951 (25.26%)
Restoration: 20743 (40.45%) , 20274 (39.54%)
Hybrids: 54 (0.11%) , 11728 (22.87%)

Affliction: 39612 (46.39%) , 32815 (38.43%)
Demonology: 27128 (31.77%) , 21758 (25.48%)
Destruction: 18074 (21.17%) , 13926 (16.31%)
Hybrids: 575 (0.67%) , 16890 (19.78%)

Arms: 41118 (36.46%) , 15151 (13.44%)
Fury: 16159 (14.33%) , 13553 (12.02%)
Protection: 55178 (48.93%) , 53906 (47.80%)
Hybrids: 310 (0.27%) , 30155 (26.74%)

Armory Miner Gets Props!

Okoloth just got a mention on WoW Insider! It's good that people are realizing the power of the Armory.

Standardizing Armory data storage

There are a number of projects out there to fetch and operate on Armory data. However, there doesn't seem to be much interaction between these projects. The simplest way to cache Armory data is to just fetch the 5 XML files for each character and store them as blobs in a table. However, that's not really conducive to doing complex queries and searching it doesn't scale. I'm working on a database representation of character data (arena teams is on the table next) and I'm wondering if anyone else out there is interested in working on this. The goal is to create a freely available database schema that any Armory-related project could take advantage of for reasonably quick offline searching. If you're interested, drop me a line at Once the schema's done, then work can begin on a fetch and management library for various scripting languages. (perl, php, python, ruby, etc.)

Round 2 gathering has started

After going through the first grab of 2.5M characters, I've gone back and done some refinements on data gathering and optimization. I'm currently acquiring the latest data on all the characters I've gotten before, sorted by level descending, since what we're most interested in in the short term is data on level 70s. This time I'm fetching all of the armory data and storing it instead of just the character sheet for more complex queries and comparisons. Eventually I was get things to a point where live searches can be done.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Forums up!

I'm happy to announce that I've put up forums for discussion on the results discovered from datamining the Armory.

Racial Report

I respun the report and added the racial breakdowns. I don't have class numbers by race offhand, but I can run those this weekend. The original reports are there too, but they're the same as before since it's all scripts running against the same data. Over the next couple of weeks I'll be overhauling my schema and collection tools now that I've gone through this exercise once.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

First Report

Ok, here's a link to the first "full" report. (I am fully aware that my web design fu is negative. Hopefully CSS will save me someday.) This structure of report should mostly stay the same (I hope). For each class I've generated 4 spec/build reports, one specialized for each talent tree (31 points or more in a given tree is considered specialized) and overall. Each report lists the top 10 specs, and the top 10 builds within each spec. There's way too much information for me to come close to discussing this, so if you find something you want to discuss, blog about it and let me know and I'll mention your blog here.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Shockadins on WoW Insider

Last night WoW Insider posted an article about a Shockadin build for 40/0/21, and is catching a lot of flak for it, saying the author didn't do enough research, etc. Research? That's what we're here for. Let's take a look-see! (Remember this data is not up-to-the-second accurate. This is data obtained a couple of months ago.)

Quick numbers for non-clickers: 1412/69338 level 70 paladins share this spec. That's barely over 2%.

Since I haven't even touched my pally since the BC talent trees came out, I can't comment much.

The top build is shared by 20 people. In the Holy tree, the top build ditches 2/2 Improved Lay on Hands and 3/3 Sanctified Light in favor of 5/5 Improved Seal of Righteousness. Not having ISoR seems to be a common complaint in the article's comments, so that's consistent. As for the Retribution tree, the top build puts 3/3 in Improved Seal of the Crusader, 5/5 Deflection (instead of 3/5), and 3/3 Crusade (instead of 2/3), ditching Conviction and Seal of Command.

The first negative comment seems to be close to the voice of the "majority" of the spec. However, the third build does forgo ISoR....

So? Is there a valid criticism for WoWI not doing their homework? In the end, these types of situations are exactly what I'm trying to address.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Build Results Layout - How do you want to see it?

So after a number of problems over the past month or so, I've got almost 2.5 million characters in the database. Live queries are out of the question, because my server just doesn't have the oomph for it. So for each class, I'm going to run the top 10 overall specs, and the top 10 builds of those specs, but I'm also going to run the top 10 specs (and top 10 builds within those specs) from each tree, to show a little more diversity specwise. This will take a while, but I'll try to have stuff up before the end of the month.

New Build Shop up - Priest 23/38/0

WoW Insider's Build Shop has a new entry: A Priest PvE healing build. I've got a 60 priest waiting in the wings but I suspect he'll be taking advantage of this build after hitting the cap.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Just under 2.5M characters and Europe info

The armory has been acting wonky for the past few days, so I've suspended data acquisition for now. I've got just under 2,500,000 characters in place, and that's just enUS. I'm in the process of tweaking things to support the EU armory so I should get even more data from there. I'm also redesigining the schema somewhat to improve performance. While I'd like to put up web pages with live queries, I think what will actually happen is daily or weekly runs with result pages. This weekend I'll start running comparisons between the 1M checkpoint and where the data is now.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

New Build Shop up - Hunter 5/13/43

WoWInsider's Build Shop has a new build up, conveniently enough a hunter build. Let's take a look.

Well, I'm up to almost 2 million characters, and guess what: no one's got this build. In fact, only 45 characters even have this *spec*. Needless to say, none of them share a build. This leads me to believe this build was submitted either as a theory or a joke.

So what have we got? Part of me questions putting points in BM at all if you're going for an uber-CC build, since why do you need to worry about attack speed if your enemies are always under control? I would think those 5 points would be better off in either Mortal Strikes (otherwise why did they bither putting 5 points in Lethal Shots?) or horror of horrors, Imp Stings to pump up Wyvern Sting.

And since we're getting into the MM tree, why no points in Efficiency? Mana's a concern, since you're going to be tossing lots of spells around, so I would think Efficiency would be a priority. Go For the Throat is fine, I guess, but again, given the implied intent of the build, we don't care about damage, we don't care about pets, so putting those points in Imp Feign Death seems like it might be better (I know, Imp FD is bogus, I'm just saying) for dealing with loss of control when 4+ enemies are involved.

Tier 1 in SV is an exercise in trying to get to higher tiers. Sure, two points in Savage Strikes, but the other 3 points can go wherever. I'm guessing Humanoid Slaying was chosen for the same reason Eliah guessed, for PvP. For PvE I'd probably pick Hawkeye too. :P Tier 2 and Tier 3 are more of the same, Entrapment, Imp Wing Clip and Clever Traps are necessary. 5 points in Survivalist is tier fodder and extra health can't hurt. Trap Mastery is key to the intent, Survival Instincts and Killer Instinct are tier fodder but are the best of what's available. Resourcefulness is key for long fights. Lightning Reflexes gets you to Wyvern Sting, so you might as well grab Expose Weakness for more damage and to get you up to Master Tactician and Readiness. I would think that filling out Thrill of the Hunt would be useful (again, the whole mana thing) but overall I feel this is a build to mess around with and not a particularly serious one.

Monday, June 11, 2007

1st Million - Warriors

44,771 level 70 warriors in the first million. The largest represented class. Not hunters, not mages... warriors:
  1. 8/5/48 - 2652 (5.92%)
  2. 31/30/0 - 1871 (4.18%)
  3. 35/23/3 - 1693 (3.78%)
  4. 5/5/51 - 1492 (3.33%)
  5. 33/28/0 - 1269 (2.83%)
  6. 17/44/0 - 1194 (2.67%)
  7. 8/0/53 - 1075 (2.40%)
  8. 41/20/0 - 1014 (2.26%)
  9. 11/0/50 - 994 (2.22%)
  10. 5/0/56 - 812 (1.81%)

4 Arms specs, 1 Fury spec, and 5 Protection specs. Being a tank class, this breakdown is expected.

  • Arms - 16708 (37.3%)
  • Fury - 6466 (14.4%)
  • Protection - 21472 (47.9%)
  • Nospec'd - 125 (0.2%)
  • Unspec'd - 7 (0.01%)

1st Million - Warlocks

Warlocks! There's 34,001 of them in the first million. Here we go:
  1. 43/7/11 - 1224 (3.60%)
  2. 20/41/0 - 1072 (3.15%)
  3. 7/43/11 - 1024 (3.01%)
  4. 41/0/20 - 1010 (2.97%)
  5. 45/5/11 - 902 (2.65%)
  6. 40/0/21 - 826 (2.43%)
  7. 0/21/40 - 778 (2.29%)
  8. 43/0/18 - 633 (1.86%)
  9. 42/8/11 - 624 (1.84%)
  10. 42/19/0 - 594 (1.75%)

7 Affliction specs, 2 Demonology specs, and 1 lone Destruction spec. Ok, let me see if I can say this right: So far, of all the classes, the Warlock top spec has the lowest percentage of any other class. This can be a good or bad thing. Either the warlock talents are so good, characters can spec a number of different ways and still be very effective, or warlocks are nubs and don't understand their own class and are top notch at PvP by accident. I'll go with the latter just to piss off Inowar. I note with amusement that his spec is not in the top 10.

Anyhoo, here's the spec breakdown:

  • Affliction - 15384 (45.2%)
  • Demonology - 10887 (32.0%)
  • Destruction - 7501 (22.06%)
  • Unspec'd - 229 (0.6%)
  • Nospec'd - 4 (0.01%)

Update - Yeah, that second spec was a typo, it's 20/41/0.

1st Million - Shamans

19,581 shamans, the least represented class at 70. Here we go:
  1. 0/5/56 - 2922 (14.92%)
  2. 40/0/21 - 1753 (8.95%)
  3. 41/0/20 - 986 (5.04%)
  4. 0/40/21 - 924 (4.72%)
  5. 0/42/19 - 767 (3.92%)
  6. 0/11/50 - 596 (3.04%)
  7. 0/0/61 - 575 (2.94%)
  8. 0/41/20 - 453 (2.31%)
  9. 0/7/54 - 363 (1.85%)
  10. 0/45/16 - 301 (1.54%)

2 Elemental specs, 4 Enhancement specs, and 4 Restoration specs. Unsurprisingly, the only single tree spec is in Restoration (go go healer!). Overall the spec breakdowns are:

  • Elemental - 5145 (26.2%)
  • Enhancement - 6565 (33.5%)
  • Restoration - 7852 (40.1%)
  • Unspec'd - 19 (0.09%)
  • Nospec'd - 3 (0.01%)

1st Million - Rogues

38,128 rogues. 90 more rogues than hunters in the first million. Check out the specs:
  1. 15/41/5 - 2755 (7.23%)
  2. 41/20/0 - 2057 (5.39%)
  3. 17/44/0 - 1951 (5.12%)
  4. 13/41/7 - 1857 (4.87%)
  5. 19/42/0 - 1736 (4.55%)
  6. 41/0/20 - 1445 (3.79%)
  7. 30/0/31 - 1279 (3.35%)
  8. 20/41/0 - 1174 (3.08%)
  9. 21/0/40 - 831 (2.18%)
  10. 16/45/0 - 793 (2.08%)

A reasonably healthy distribution (that is to say, all three tree are represented) of specs. Combat rules the board with 6 specs, followed by 2 each of Assassination and Subtlety. 9886 rogues are spec'd Assassination. 18267 are spec'd for Combat and 9042 are spec'd for Subtlety. 933 rogues are unspec'd and 9 rogues aren't spec'd at all.

1st Million - Priests

Healers! Every party needs them. Out of the first million, 36,205 level 70 priests exist. Let's take a look at the numbers:

  1. 23/38/0 - 3947 (10.9%)
  2. 28/33/0 - 3102 (8.57%)
  3. 21/40/0 - 2534 (7.00%)
  4. 14/0/47 - 2479 (6.85%)
  5. 11/0/50 - 1232 (3.40%)
  6. 31/30/0 - 1086 (3.00%)
  7. 20/41/0 - 952 (2.63%)
  8. 0/0/61 - 947 ( 2.62%)
  9. 13/0/48 - 890 (2.46%)
  10. 10/0/51 - 882 (2.44%)

5 Holy/Discipline specs, 4 Shadow/Discipline specs, and the scourge of the priestly nation, the full-on Shadow spec. Unsurprisingly Holy/Disc takes the tops spots, but Shadow makes a strong showing as well. And when looking a specs overall, Holy keeps the lead with 17,376 priests (48%) with Shadow coming a close second at 14,054 priests (38.8%) and Discipline crossing the finish line a few minutes later with 4,602 priests (12.7%). That leaves 173 priests who can't make up their minds, and 2 who are completely out of the loop with no talent points spent.

1st Million - Paladin

If hardcore raiders are to be believed, paladins are the new priests. There are 27,538 level 70 paladins, and without further ado, the breakdown:

  1. 41/20/0 - 3821 (13.88%)
  2. 50/11/0 - 1776 (6.45%)
  3. 43/18/0 - 1516 (5.51%)
  4. 42/19/0 - 1164 (4.23%)
  5. 47/14/0 - 942 (3.42%)
  6. 44/17/0 - 821 (2.98%)
  7. 45/11/5 - 751 (2.73%)
  8. 45/16/0 - 726 (2.64%)
  9. 48/13/0 - 696 (2.53%)
  10. 0/49/12 - 576 (2.09%)

Well, well, well. The top 10 specs represent 46.4% of the class, and not a single Retribution spec to be seen. Apparently the 3,713 Retribution paladins (13.5%) left aren't much in agreement. The only one that's not Holy is in 10th place, with a focus on Protection. And speaking of Protection, there's only 3,981 Protection paladins (14.5%), and 19,691 pallies (a whopping 71.5%!) are Holy-spec'd. 153 paladins have no spec at all, and 4 people either haven't realized they got a free respec some time ago, or are so hardcore they don't need talents to crush.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

1st Million - Mages

Mages, or as some would say, the real "glass cannons" make up 42,448 of our level 70 pool. Let's get right to the numbers:

  1. 40/21/0 - 3859 (9.09%)
  2. 10/48/3 - 3187 (7.51%)
  3. 40/0/21 - 3120 (7.35%)
  4. 0/0/61 - 2172 (5.12%)
  5. 33/28/0 - 1711 (4.03%)
  6. 17/0/44 - 1611 (3.80%)
  7. 10/0/51 - 1392 (3.28%)
  8. 41/20/0 - 1261 (2.97%)
  9. 21/40/0 - 983 (2.32%)
  10. 2/0/59 - 950 (2.24%)

Some interesting numbers pop out from the builds. Only 3 of the 100 builds here exceed 1% of the class in size, and 2 of them are 10/48/3. The only difference between those 2 builds is a single point in Fire. The top build takes 1/3 Improved Fire Blast, and second place goes to a 1/2 Blazing Speed. And to even further show consolidation, third place puts that point in 1/5 Impact.

The third build that exceeds 1% of the class size is 0/0/61, full on Frostiness. You really can't get much deeper than that. (only Frost Warding and Frozen Core are skipped)

In terms of spec, the top 10 leans towards Arcane. 23.4% of mages have a top 10 spec and focus on Arcane. Only 7.5% are Fire, and 14.4% are Frost. As compared to all level 70 mages, of which 40% are Arcane, 31.1% are Fire, and 28.6% are Frost. The remaining 67 of you mages have no specialization at all. (and 8 of those had no talents chosen at all!)

Sunday, June 3, 2007

1st Million - Hunters

The number of level 70 hunters? 38,030, not the least, but far from the most, as detractors would have you believe.

  1. 41/20/0 - 2221 (5.84%)
  2. 0/43/18 - 1574 (4.15%)
  3. 0/45/16 - 1450 (3.81%)
  4. 0/42/19 - 1064 (2.80%)
  5. 0/44/17 - 864 (2.27%)
  6. 0/41/20 - 806 (2.12%)
  7. 7/45/9 - 800 (2.10%)
  8. 0/47/14 - 681 (1.79%)
  9. 5/53/3 - 647 (1.70%)
  10. 5/47/9 - 579 (1.52%)

The amount of variance in the Beast Mastery "cookie-cutter" spec alone is pretty staggering, although 23.6% of all Beast Mastery hunters have it, suggesting not much variance at the spec level. Humorously enough, BRK's current spec is not represented at all in the top 10 builds for this spec. I guess I haven't crawled Madoran yet, so it will be good to see how his build fares when all 3 million or so characters I have get pulled in. The top two builds differ only in the ubiquitous Tier 2 Marksmanship decision: Efficiency or Improved Hunter's Mark? Solo or Raid? 8 out of 10 builds put 2 points in the much maligned Spirit Bond (version 2). Another point of contention seems to be where to put the 5th point for Tier 7 in order to get to Serpent's Swiftness: Bestial Discipline is the most popular resting place, or else a token point Animal Handler or Catlike Reflexes.

As for the rest of the specs, they are completely dominated by Marksmanship builds. From the rather confusing 0/41/20 to the PvP-oriented 0/43/18 to what I consider to be even more degenerate than the "glass cannon", 5/53/3.

I don't even know where to begin. Less than 4% of the hunters that chose 0/41/20 are represented in its top 10, so I can only conclude those that chose this spec are either deluded, misinformed, or just plain ignorant. Diversity is a good thing, but when your top build is shared less than a percent of your spec-mates (as it is with two other specs in the top 10), it's overdoing it. Either that or I'm missing something that might present itself in a PvE vs. PvP server breakdown. Look for that in a future post.

5/53/3 is just plain offensive to me. (Warning, religious zealotry ahead) We as a class are not complete without our pet, so why go so far out of our way to gimp ourselves by gimping our pet? And please, repeat after me: Hawk Eye is a crutch. I'm far from the best hunter around, but I can function just fine without it. There are plenty of other talents that give you more bang for the point. (pun only partially intended)

Ironically enough, it is 5/47/9, the last of our top 10 specs, that has the highest percentage sharing a single build. 21.42% of the only 579 hunters that went this spec chose it, practically 3 times the most popular build of next in line, 7/45/9. (figures. :P)

Am I biased? Hell yeah. I am (well, will be, someday :P) part of the most popular spec for hunters, yet it only represents a small (yet extremely vocal) minority of hunters overall. (68.56% of level 70 hunters are Marksmanship, as opposed to 24.65% opting for Beast Mastery, and a whopping 6.52% are Survival. Even more frightening is the remaining 0.25% (90 of you, and 8 who cleared their talents and haven't respecced yet!) that are of no spec at all, with no possibility of a 31-point, much less 41-point talent.)

A lot of numbers here. In the end, you can't just look at the spec, or at the build level. Context is everything. Hopefully everyone's not too confused to comment.

1st Million - Druids

There are 30,791 level 70 druids in the first million (and change) characters. I'm going to present build information a bit differently this time, by showing the most popular specs, then the most popular builds within those specs. Afterward I'll highlight the most popular build overall, which isn't always what you would expect. The tables are here, with embedded Wowhead talent calculator popups. Unfortunately, I can't get them working on Blogger, probably because of security concerns. For the lazy, I'll summarize the top 10 specs:

  1. 0/47/14 - 3316 (10.7%)
  2. 0/0/61 - 2292 (7.4%)
  3. 0/50/11 - 2215 (7.2%)
  4. 1/46/14 - 1760 (5.7%)
  5. 0/49/12 - 1177 (3.8%)
  6. 0/44/17 - 875 (2.8%)
  7. 1/49/11 - 790 (2.5%)
  8. 1/0/60 - 776 (2.5%)
  9. 0/45/16 - 740 (2.4%)
  10. 0/46/15 - 689 (2.2%)

The top 10 specs collectively account for 14,630 characters, almost half of the level 70 druids. Feral takes the overwhelming majority, accounting for 11,562 characters. Restoration takes up the remaining characters, as Balance gets no love at all. Out of the 3 builds that actually put a point in Balance, only 1 build put a point in something other than Nature's Grasp. Apparently a few people want to get their Wrath and Starfire on a little bit faster. Looking at the full Restoration spec it's pretty amazing just how much variance you can get out of 68 points, Though only 1 build so much as even scratches Furor.

1st Million - Quick Stats

The first million characters (1,008,406 to be exact) are in so I stopped things long enough to crunch some numbers:

311,493 level 70 characters (just under 31%)

Class Breakdown:
  • Druid - 30791
  • Hunter - 38030
  • Mage - 42448
  • Paladin - 27538
  • Priest - 36205
  • Rogue - 38128
  • Shaman - 19581
  • Warlock - 34001
  • Warrior - 44771

Tomorrow (er, after I sleep) I'll start posting information on the most popular specs and builds within those specs.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

What numbers do you want to see?

I've been posting about the kinds of numbers I want to run against the data, but the bigger question is, what sort of information do you want to find out about the particular builds of the US WoW population? Llew's run some numbers on the most popular talents, acrost builds specializing (spending 31 or more talent points) in a given tree. It might be worth looking at talent popularity regardless of specialization. Also, what about levelling builds? No one really seems to want to talk about those much, but running a comparison of builds at 20,30,40,50 and 60 could be enlightening. And just how many 60s are there still, anyway? (Roughly 45,000 out of the 900,000ish characters I have so far, roughly 5%. I know of at least 4 of them though that are waiting in the wings while I get my first character to 70... :P) Is it possible there are people who didn't buy the expansion? If you look at the shelves of my local Fry's, you would think no one at all stood in line hundreds deep to get The Burning Crusade. There are at least a hundred Collector's Editions alone, and untold more regular editions. But I digress. What is it you want to know?

Waiting for 1 Million

Sorry for the lack of posting, but I'm waiting for the system to get 1 million characters imported then I'll run a bunch of numbers for the various classes, with spec and build breakdowns, and some comparisons I haven't really seen run anywhere before, like build popularity on PvE/RP servers versus PvP/RPPvP servers.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Interim Snapshot - Hunters

So far I've imported data for 347,000 characters. Only 2.6 million more to go :P I did a quick scan of the top hunter builds so far and from a spec point of view, the data isn't so far out of whack from what Llew posted awhile back.

The columns of the table are as follows: (sorry for using a link, I can't seem to get the DHTML popups working on Blogger)

  1. Build/Spec - The text is the spec, the link and popup shows the build.
  2. Number with Build - The number of hunters using this exact build.
  3. Number with Spec - The number of hunters that have this spec (X/Y/Z)
  4. Build %age - The percentage of hunters that have this exact build (for this snapshot, that's out of 14000)
  5. Spec %age - The percentage of hunters that have this exact spec.

Later I'll post some snapshots for the other classes. Leave a comment if there's other small bits of information you might be interested in

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Build Diversity

I'm running some queries against the data as it's being updated, and I have to say the thing that surprises me most (even though it shouldn't) is the sheer diversity that's represented once you drill down past "A/B/C". People throw around "cookie-cutter" specs but realistically there's no such thing due to the sheer number of possible builds within a given spec. For example, right this second I've got 283 "41/20/0"-specced Hunters. But of those 283 Hunters, there are 236 unique builds. The most popular build is shared by only 7 characters. I'm trying to come up with a way to calculate the number of possible builds given a particular spec and it makes my head hurt.

New Build Shop up - Druid 0/47/14

WoW Insider has a new Build Shop entry up, this time it's a Feral Druid build - 0/47/14. Check it out.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Pre 2.1: Most Popular Builds - Warrior

Ok, here we go, last one. "Warrior, come out and play-ay!"..... 2,430 warriors, the largest number of 70s in this pre 2.1 sample. Let's get it on:

  1. 11 characters: 5/5/51 - Clearly a tanking build. Deflection from Arms, Cruelty from Fury, and everything from Protection except Tactical Mastery, Improved Revenge, Improved Disarm, and Improved Shield Bash.
  2. 9 characters: 8/5/48 - crawl up to Improved Thunderclap in Arms, and ditch Improved Bloodrage, Improved Taunt and Improved Shield Wall for Tactical Mastery.
  3. 8 characters: 5/0/56 - Give up on Fury and grab everything from Protection except Tactical Mastery.
  4. 7 characters: 35/23/3 - Enough up Arms for Mortal Strike, but I don't know enough about warriors to comment beyond that. Regardless, seems like an odd distribution, numerically.
  5. 6 characters: 11/0/50 - Another Protection build, it adds Improved Heroic Strike to Arms, and all over Protection except Improved [Bloodrage, Revenge, Disarm, Taunt, Shield Bash]. Warriors have GOT to be sick of saying the word improved....

41/2,430 warriors, and only 1.6% represented in the top 5 builds. Now that 2.1 is live, I'll be crunching data on the 2.5 million characters I have queued up. I suspect it'll be a while. :)

Pre 2.1: Most Popular Builds - Warlock

1,712 Warlocks. Another class with high diversity in builds:

  1. 11 characters: 7/43/11 - Heavy Demonology with enough Destruction to get Shadowburn and Affliction to get 2/2 Improved Lifetap.
  2. 8 characters: 7/7/47 - Same smattering of Affliction, 2/2 Improved Healthstone and 5/5 Demonic Embrace from Demonology, then all the way up Destruction (thanks Ino) to get Shadowfury.
  3. 8 characters: 6/44/11 - Variant on 1. Drop Improved Lifetap to 1/2 in order to get 1/3 Mana Feed from Demonology.
  4. 8 characters: 5/41/15 - Ditch Improved Lifetap, strip Demonology to just enough to get your Felguard, Then throw the rest in Devastation for critical goodness.
  5. 8 characters: 0/40/21 - Sacrifice the Felguard in order to get up to Ruin.

43/1,712 for 2.5% representation. One more class, coming up!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Pre 2.1: Most Popular Builds - Shaman

852 Shamans, the lowest represented class in the small Pre-2.1 sample. Let's take a look.

  1. 24 characters: 0/5/56 - Restoration with a smidge of Enhancement for a bit of extra mana.
  2. 14 characters: 0/5/56 - A minor variant of 1, swapping in Totemic Focus for Nature's Guardian.
  3. 8 characters: 0/0/61 - Gives up the Enhancement to keep both Totemic Focus and Nature's Guardian.
  4. 6 characters: 0/5/56 - Another variant of 1, only 1/3 Focused Mind in order to get 2/2 Improved Reincarnation.
  5. 4 characters: 0/42/19 - Our last build is Enhancement-oriented instead.

56/852 Shamans, that's 6.5%. A healthy percentage compared to other classes.

Pre 2.1: Most Popular Builds - Rogue

1,913 capped Rogues. And I thought Hunters couldn't make up their minds. Here's the top 5 Rogue builds:

  1. 4 characters: 17/44/0 -Assassination/Combat. I have a level 2 Rogue. 'Nuff said.
  2. 4 characters: 17/44/0 - Assassination/Combat. 3/5 Lightning Reflexes instead of 3/3 Improved Gouge, above.
  3. 4 characters: 15/41/5 - Everyone gets love, sorta. Subtlety gets a 5/5 Opportunity at Assassination and Combat's expense.
  4. 3 characters: 41/20/0 - Assassination/Combat. Just enough to get 5/5 Dual Wield Specialization.
  5. 3 characters: 19/42/0 - Again, Assassination/Combat, but Sword Specialization gets the full 5/5 love here to bump it to 42.

18/1,913 Rogues accounted for in the top 5. Not even 1%. The sign of a class that can't make up its mind, or a well-designed tree with significant flexibility?

Pre 2.1: Most Popular Builds - Priest

You know the drill: 1,849 level 70 priests. And the top 5 builds are:

  1. 25 characters: 0/0/61 - Over the Discipline, past the Holy, nothing but Shadow. Everything in the tree except Shadow Resilience.
  2. 10 characters: 0/0/61 - Second verse, same as the first. Skips Improved Fade instead.
  3. 9 characters: 7/0/54 - Ditches both of the above and Spirit Tap in favor of Unbreakable Will and everybody's favorite talent, Improved Power Word: Fortitude.
  4. 8 characters: 23/38/0 - Discipline/Holy. It looks like Discipline is just to get Improved Divine Spirit, which makes it impossible to climb up all the way to Circle of Healing Holywise.
  5. 7 characters: 0/2/59 - 2/2 Healing Focus, then all over Shadow. This one kind of confuses me since going almost entirely Shadow implies to me that the character would be in Shadowform almost always but it's been awhile since I pulled out my priest so I could be wrong.

59/1,849 represented in the top 5 priest builds. Just under 3.2%. What do you think about these builds?

Pre 2.1: Most Popular Builds - Paladin

Next up, Paladins. 1,457 level 70s. Here's the breakdown:

  1. 18 characters: 41/20/0 - Holy/Protection. I'm guessing this is a Healadin build. The focus seems to be on bumping up healing as much as possible, and using Protection talents to build up auras and overall buff utility.
  2. 13 characters: 0/49/12 - Protection/Retribution. Tank build, since the Retribution talents focus on mana efficiency, Parry and pumping out Judgements.
  3. 10 characters: 41/20/0 - A variant on 1. Ditches Aura Mastery and 1/3 Blessed Life in favor of filling out 2/2 Improved Blessing of Wisdom. Also switches from 5/5 Improved Devotion Aura to 5/5 Redoubt.
  4. 7 characters: 50/11/0 - Holy with just enough Protection to get BoK. Pretty much every heal/buff oriented talent has been taken.
  5. 7 characters: 41/20/0 - Yet another Holy/Prot build. The Holy spec from 1, and the Prot spec from 3.

55/1,457 Paladins represented, just under 3.8%. Pallies, what say you?

Pre 2.1: Most Popular Builds - Mage

As the world finishes up downloading 2.1 (hopefully you got everything except maybe the last 7MB) I'll bust out a few more class comparisons. Without further ado, the top 5 Mage builds from a sample size of 2,216:

  1. 39 characters: 10/48/3 - From Arcane, Tier 1 provides some target resistance reduction in the form of 2/2 Arcane Subtlety and 3/5 Arcane Focus. For Tier 2, 5/5 Arcane Concentration helps with mana efficency. From Frost, 3/3 Elemental Precision, which is the only useful talent for Fire mages in the Frost tree. With so much in Fire, it's easier to talk about what's not there. 0/5 Impact, 0/3 Improved Fire Blast, 0/3 Improved Flamestrike and 0/2 Improved Fire Ward. Of those four, Improved Fire Ward seems the most useless.
  2. 36 characters: 10/48/3 - Same essential build, but takes a point from Blazing Speed and puts it in Improved Fireblast instead. Neither of these talents really seem all that, so I'm not surprised by the similarity to the previous build.
  3. 24 characters: 0/0/61 - Full on Frostiness. What's missing? 0/2 Frost Warding and 0/3 Frozen Core. Both minor damage mitigators at best.
  4. 20 characters: 0/0/61 - Frostiness of a different flavor. Frost Warding and Frozen Core are filled up at the expense of 0/5 Arctic Winds, which when full would have reduced your chance to be hit by physical attacks by 5%.
  5. 12 characters: 40/0/21 - An actual hybrid build, Arcane/Frost. It's clear the decision to go Frost is to get Ice Block, and Arcane choices seem focused on improving overall damage.
131/2,216 represented in the top 5, just under 6%. How do these choices compare with yours? Clearly I'm not qualified to discuss these builds. :)

Pre 2.1: Most Popular Builds - Hunter

Just to get it out of the way, Here are the top 5 hunter builds:

  1. 6 characters: 7/45/9 - A Marks build, but steals 5/5 Improved Aspect of the Hawk from BM, and 3/3 from each of Monster Slaying/Humanoid Slaying/Hawk Eye. The Marks talents are pretty much what you'd expect, except the omission of Rapid Killing.
  2. 5 characters: 5/47/9 - Swaps out BM's Focused Fire for Rapid Killing. 'Cause you know, MM Hunters don't need pets. :P
  3. 4 characters: 7/45/9 - Minor adjustments from Build 1. 5/5 Improved Concussive Shot, so these characters are probably on PvP realms.
  4. 4 characters: 7/45/9 - This one's even weirder. 1/5 in Improved Hunter's Mark? 2/2 Go For The Throat, even though there's almost no other talents chosen to improve pet DPS? You got me on this one.
  5. 4 characters: You guessed it, 7/45/9 - 3/5 Improved Arcane Shot? I give up.
So the top 5 builds are shared amongst 16 players out of a total of 2,084. Less than 1% of Hunters represented in this sample. I can only hope this is an anomaly and the full data will show different results. Anyone want to argue in favor of these builds, because I sure can't.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Pre 2.1: Most Popular Builds - Druid

Extended maintenance tonight, when it should be rolling. Hmmm...guess BRK was right.

Anyway, since I want to wait for any potential respec fallout from the patch before I start collating build data, I'm going to post the most popular class builds for what data I have (about 16,000 level 70s).

First up is Druids. I have data on 1,653 level 70 druids. While there are less druids than hunters in my small sample, interestingly enough there is a lot more consitency in the druid builds. With the disclaimer that I have never played a druid, I present the top 5 druid builds (with noobish commentary):

  1. 41 characters: 0/0/61 - Full on Restoration. Not a single point in either Feral or Balance. Since it's easier to talk about what wasn't taken instead of what was, here you go. 0/5 in Furor and 1/3 in Natural Shapeshifter. Generally speaking these seem like the least healing oriented talents in the tree, so I'm not surprised.
  2. 27 characters: 0/0/61 - Again, full on Resto, but the placement is ever so slightly different. Furor is still 0/5 (combat forms ftl) but instead Improved Tranquility is ignored (0/2).
  3. 22 characters: 1/0/60 - What Balance talent could possibly be important enough to completely toss Natural Shapeshifter aside? Nature's Grasp!
  4. 21 characters: 1/49/11 - A Feral build takes the number 4 spot. Balance's only contribution is again Nature's Grasp, and Restoration this time close to an inverse of the top builds, taking 5/5 Furor, 5/5 Naturalist, and 1/1 Omen of Clarity. Feral is almost completely full except for Feral Aggression 0/5 and Nurturing Instinct 0/2.
  5. 21 characters: 1/46/14 - A minor variant on the previous build. 3 points are taken to wipe out Primal Tenacity and fill in Natural Shapeshifter. Presumably the thought here is that Feral druids need to shift a lot so that helps them catch a break.
The top 5 druid builds represent 142 out of 1,653 characters. At close to 8.6%, that's not too shabby. If you're not too busy patching up when you read this, all you druids represent.

Welcome to the Build Mine!

Like the title says, welcome to the Build Mine. In this blog, I'll be talking about World of Warcraft character builds (initially talents, then getting into gear builds as well) and applying statistical information gleaned from the Armory. I'm in the process of crunching the data, and I currently have 2.0 build information for 81,000 characters of which 16,000 are level 70, and I have about 2.5 million characters to process data for once 2.1 goes live. That's for the US alone. After that I'll be analyzing the European and Asian regions.

Until the Armory came along, everyone discussed talent builds in terms of trees: 41/20/0, 31/20/10, what have you. Now with the ability to see exactly what everyone has selected, we can drill down to the individual talent level, where there is an extreme amount of diversity. For example, I did a quick comparison of the approximately 2,000 (out of 16,000) level 70 hunters in my pre-2.1 data gathering, and out of all those hunters, The most popular build is shared by 6 characters. *6*! And I know BigRedKitty will freak out when he sees that build, since it's 6th on Llew's pass at crunching his data. However, with my sample size only being 0.3% of all the character information I'll have soon, I don't expect that to be the most popular build once all the data is crunched. That crunch will probably happen this weekend, as I suspect a fair number of players will be respeccing after 2.1 goes in, which is expected for tomorrow.

Who am I? a 41/10/0 level 60 hunter with 3 level 60 and a level 64 alt. I haven't had nearly as much time to play in the past year as the year before, as my son was born just over a year ago. That has pretty much precluded me from raiding or pretty much running any instance at all. I'm not casual by any stretch of the word, but I'm far from hardcore. I'm interested in game mechanics and social design, not only in the game itself but in the choices players make with respect to the game. In the end, I want this blog (and the forthcoming website) to be a discussion area for character builds and the rationale behind them. I'm not an expert, but I want to encourage this discussion, across all aspects of the game, be it class, intended goal or anything else that comes to mind. Again, welcome to the mine. We'll be digging deep.