the 19 twink warlock

April 8, 2009

I’ve got a test page up for my BG twink reports. Check it out here. I’m still mucking around with various parameters – especially the selection criteria for toons in the sample, and the filtering to hide the long tail of odd individual choices that seems to appear in every aspect of WoW.

On that last point, the danger is that some important twink items are likely to be difficult to obtain, and therefore less popular, so I’m reluctant to do too much filtering of the results. The most popular choices may not be the best choices here.

The results do match the various guides on the net for twinking warlocks so I’m reasonably happy with progress to date. The thing that concerns me is that the sample size is very small – even with a million characters in my database, by the time I try and select a sample of the most powerful BG toons at each x9 level, I’m down to a hundred or so. That’s not a lot.

For that reason I nearly decided not to show any percentage popularity measures – the exact numbers just aren’t all that meaningful. But some choices are clearly a lot more popular than others and it seemed important to report that.

Anyway, any feedback would be good, especially if you have a twinked 19 warlock. If you think the report misses important details, I’m happy to hear that too. Make your argument calmly and I’ll take it into consideration. This type of report is an experiment and it just may not work so well because of the small sample size.

Just to complete the picture, here is a set of battleground class performance charts for each of the x9 BG levels plus level 80. The y-axis now shows average deaths per game and not the inverse, so the sweet spot of high-kills-low-deaths is in the bottom right hand corner of the chart.

The sample consists of all players at each level who have played 100 or more BGs. The data is from patch 3.0.9.

There’s a lot of interesting things to note in those charts, especially when you compare the same class at different levels. Some are effective at all levels, others appear to change roles as they level up.

If you want the executive summary, these are the points that strike me:

  • DKs are OP
  • Rogues aren’t, even though people think they are
  • Warriors are fragile, despite all that armour
  • Warlocks are still a force in PvP as long as you don’t mind dying a lot
  • Baby Paladins may be easy meat but the adult of the species sure isn’t
  • Hunters seem to be the consistent high performer, but that is probably because they just play the same role (of ranged attacker) at every level

Do exercise some caution when interpreting these results. In particular remember:

  1. Some classes have fewer attacking players and therefore a lower average kill rate just because they have a healing tree. Other classes may spend a lot of time CC-ing instead of attacking.
  2. Some BGs have objectives that conflict with straight PvP. For example in Warsong Gulch, the classes that spend most time running the flag will have a lower kill rate because of that.
  3. This is data aggregated across every BG accessible at the level. There may be specific features of individual BGs that make certain classes more effective there, despite these charts.

19

battleground-class-effectiveness-level-19

BG Class Effectiveness, Level 19

29

battleground-class-effectiveness-level-29

BG Class Effectiveness, Level 29

39

BG Class Effectiveness, Level 39

BG Class Effectiveness, Level 39

49

BG Class Effectiveness, Level 49

BG Class Effectiveness, Level 49

59

BG Class Effectiveness, Level 59

BG Class Effectiveness, Level 59

69

BG Class Effectiveness, Level 69

BG Class Effectiveness, Level 69

79

BG Class Effectiveness, Level 79

BG Class Effectiveness, Level 79

80

BG Class Effectiveness, Level 80

BG Class Effectiveness, Level 80

Warsong Gulch chart porn

March 20, 2009

I’ve been having a bit of fun with the battleground stats data from the Armoury. There are plenty of good strategy guides on the net for each battleground, but it’s interesting to see how well the strategy is reflected in the data. A good chart really is worth a thousand words…

Warsong Gulch is our example here. You probably know that there are a number of traps in what seems like a simple game. Trap number one is to be on a team where everyone wants to run to the middle of the field and have a big punch-up while the flag carriers run by unchallenged.

The following charts are for level 19 characters who have played at least 100 games, so we’re not talking about noobs here. But you can still see all the nuances of the game in the data.

For a start, teamwork and focus on the flags rather than on scoring kills is vital to winning. So, if we chart games won to killing blows struck by individuals, we don’t find a strong correlation. You can help to win by doing other things than killing – CC-ing, running interference, guarding the flag rooms.

Killing blows vs games won.

Killing blows vs games won.

Being able to drop the opponent does have one important role:  getting the flag back when the other side is running with it. We can chart flags-returned to killing blows, and we get a stronger correlation:

Flags returned vs killing blows

Flags returned vs killing blows

But again, capturing the flag from the other side is about skills other than fighting and the data proves that. In fact, this is my favourite chart since the whole ding an sich of the game is in there. The best characters at capturing the flag are generally those with lower killing blow scores. They’re too busy running and hiding to be killing. So you get a gentle negative correlation as the chart shows:

Flags captured vs killing blows.

Flags captured vs killing blows.

The purpose of this exercise is to see if these indicators can be used to pick out twinks from the data. I’m confident that they can. So, the next chart shows deaths per game vs games won, and suggests what we all know – that the character with the best gear and enchants stays upright for longer. They spend less time running back from the spawn point and more time on-target.

deaths-per-game-vs-games-won

Deaths per game vs games won.

Dead toons don’t win games – it’s not rocket science.

One interesting point is that there is a poor correlation between deaths per game and killing blows per game, which surprises me. I would have thought that twinked characters both killed more and died less. Perhaps there is a kamikaze style of player that kills a lot and dies a lot, and a more um… tactical… toon that can dish it out without getting too much in return.

Deaths per game vs kills per game.

Deaths per game vs kills per game.

One final point – if you look carefully at the last chart, you will see the bane of the armoury data miner – the annoying little outlier that makes all our averages skew away from the median. That character circled on the bottom right of the chart is one lean mean killin’ machine, a real leader of the pack. Here’s his armoury profile – check him out. He’s a twink, no surprise there, but he doesn’t seem out of the general range of twink stats. To me, he is a reminder that skill does play a part in the game too. Mind you, he played nearly 900 games to get that good.

twinks inc

March 18, 2009

While we’re waiting for patch 3.1, I’ve gone back to my pet project from a month or so ago – looking for ways to extract information on x9 battleground twinks from the armoury. Building BG twinks seems to be something that a lot of people have thought about doing at one time or another, but have run into difficulties finding good information on how to go about it.

There are a couple of good sites for twink guides, and a few individuals who have created guides for individual classes at specific levels (like this one for 19 warlock twinks). But there seems to me to be a lot of gaps in our knowledge of what people are doing at the various x9 levels. Let’s see if we can improve the situation.

The fundamental problem is that there is no IsTwink() function in the armoury. We have to identify twinked characters from amongst the general population. To do that, two other issues have to be addressed.

The first problem is simply one of getting enough characters into the database. Only about 15% of leveling characters do any BGs at all. The vast majority of those try only a few games. A sizeable majority of the rest are… well… suboptimal… PVPers, so it isn’t likely that they’re twinked.

In other words, the characters we are after represent a tiny fraction of the total number of toons in the armoury. There is no way that an armoury crawler is going to find all of them in any reasonable time frame. I’ve really only got a partial solution to this one. I’ve modified my armoury crawler so that it switches over to extracting just characters in the x9 levels after it has built up a reasonable sample of characters from every level.

I spent a bit of time today watching the algorithm run (via a debugging dump) and it is clear what is happening – the crawler spends a lot of time rejecting characters that are not at an x9 level, but then finds a big guild list of those who are. Clearly there are some sizeable BG PvP guilds out there, or a lot of guilds that have little BG-ing armies inside them. This keeps the fetch queues surprisingly full, on average, which means the crawler is mining characters at a not-too-bad rate.

Problem number two is to identify indicators of twinkyness so I can write some database queries to find the little buggers. Of course you might say, well, why not just use gear. After all, a twink by definition has better gear than would be expected for a toon of that level.

Yes, we might come to that. But the idea I want to try first is to use the new character achievements and statistics data to identify the most effective battleground toons. Of course the most powerful level 19 WSG player might have got there by skill alone, equipped with nothing other than normal whites and questing greens. But, somehow, I doubt it…

The hypothesis is that the most effective characters in the BGs will turn out to be the twinks.

So which character stats do we look at? For example, the armoury tells us the number of BGs that the character won – we can find out that a  toon has played, say, 80 WSG BGs and won 75. That character has won 94% of their games. Does that make them likely to be a twink?

Well maybe… That’s the point I’m up to at the moment. I’m looking at the spread of these stats across the population base. Then running various queries based on the available data to see how selective they really are. My guess is that stats like the number of BGs won are less likely to be selective for what we want than stats related to the individual performance of the character.

After all, whether you win depends on the quality of the characters around you – a cr@p team on your side or a fully twinked pre-made on t’other can make all the difference to victory or defeat. What interests me are stats like the number of killing blows landed or the number of deaths, since these are indicators of personal survivability – which is the real hallmark of the twink. If you have the health, the mana and the armour, your death rate will be lower and your time-on-target higher.

But that’s enough for one post. Stand by for some serious chart porn on battleground character stats…