This is the first blog post in a short series planned for the future with the goal of teaching you how to read and interpret your own logs. Warcraft Logs is a powerful tool for comparing yourself to others and analysing your actions. In this short blog post, you will learn the basics of what to look for when analysing your own logs. If you would like to follow along with a log, I will be looking at the Elemental Shaman in this heroic Ursoc kill.
Activity, Perf %, and Ilvl % – what does it all mean?
A player’s activity is measured by how much time was spent casting spells and dealing damage. It isn’t a particularly useful metric, but your goal should be above 99.00% activity — low percentages indicate player death and/or a lack of spell casts. Perf % (also known as overall performance) shows you your DPS performance as a percentile relative to all other elemental shamans who have killed the particular boss. The elemental shaman’s overall performance in this fight was 88% for all Elemental Shamans (10569 parses). This means that his performance puts him in the top 12% of Elemental Shamans for the past two weeks. Ilvl % (also known as item level performance) is similar to overall performance but compares your DPS to that of other Elemental Shamans in your item level bracket. Molurax was at iL 865 for this kill and his item level performance was 99% — putting him in the top 1% of iL 865 Elemental Shamans.
If your item level performance is higher than your overall performance, it means you may have a lower item level than the top logs, but perform well for your item level. If your overall performance is higher than your item level performance, it means you are well geared but do not perform as well for your item level.
Damage Done by Spell
Clicking on the name of a player in the Damage Done window will show you information about how their damage is broken down by spell. Spell Uptime % is calculated by the amount of time a DoT was active on a target divided by the total length of the fight. Flame Shock uptime is very important for Lava Surge procs and damage, so you should aim to be at 100% if possible, but a realistic scenario will put you between 99 and 100% uptime.
The Buffs tab shows the timing, duration, and uptime of all of your buffs. With the Totem Mastery talent, you should look at Ember/Resonance/Storm/Tailwind Totem. It is important to be comfortable with reaching 100% uptime on these buffs with a minimal number of casts. There are few situations where Totem Mastery will simply expire — instead, you’ll find yourself moving out of its range. Greater uptime comes with experience with respect to the range of the totem buff. The table shows a very rough indicator of cooldown usage, but clicking on a spell will allow better scrutiny. Stormkeeper, for example:
This time graph reveals a few seconds of wasted time between the cooldown coming back up and the spell being casted. In this fight it was inconsequential, but can mean the difference between getting another Stormkeeper cast or not. N.B. Delaying cooldowns for mechanics in order to maximise damage is an advanced gameplay tactic that this analysis method cannot show. Advanced cooldown usage analysis will be covered in part 2!
Resources: using your Maelstrom correctly
A very glaring issue with some logs is in the Maelstrom usage. For viewing purposes, we will setup our Maelstrom bar to have an overlay of our Earth Shock casts. To do this, navigate to the Casts tab in Tables view. In the Earth Shock row, click the “+” sign on the far right. This will result in a new graph showing your Earth Shock casts over time. Now, navigate to the Resources tab. Click Hit Points on the left and select Maelstrom. The Earth Shock (upper) graph has a few options. Change Graph: Separate to Graph: Main; now your Earth Shock casts are overlaid on the Maelstrom graph. Change the colour to your liking. The graph should now look something like this:
This shows your Maelstrom levels over time, allowing for a qualitative view of how well you are spending your Maelstrom. Poor management of Maelstrom will result in long plateaus of 100 Maelstrom. The time graph also allows you to see the Maelstrom at which you used Earth Shock or Earthquake. Earth Shock usage should be between 86 and 92 Maelstrom in order to maximise damage without the risk of wastage. If you would like to view your Earth Shock casts on this Maelstrom graph, you can use the wonderful pinning function in WCL. First navigate to your Casts tab in Tables view.
The resource gain and wastage table shows this data broken down by spell. A good result has minimal wasted Maelstrom, while a bad result can often lead to wasting multiple Earth Shock worth of Maelstrom. I recommend using a Weak Aura to keep track of your Maelstrom, helping you to minimise wastage.
The last subject I’ll touch on for this segment is the Casting Timeline. This beautiful little tool lets you review the fight as it happened; showing you what you casted, when you casted it, and how much time was between each cast. To access this information, click the Casts tab and the Timelines button just above it.
One big difference between a skilled player and a novice player is how they cast. The above graphic shows Lightning Bolt being casted with no delay between the time a cast finishes and the time the next cast starts.
Hopefully this post gets you inspired to have a good look at your own logs and assess where you can improve. Just know that fight times and boss strategies will have a significant impact on your damage, cooldown usage, and casting activity.