Bandit’s Guile Mechanic in Warlords of Draenor

In my previous posts I was taking a qualitative look at the Mists of Pandaria iteration of the rogue talent tree. With this post I am going to go into a more mathematical analysis of one specific Draenor Perk for Combat rogues: Empowered Bandit’s Guile. Before I get into the nitty gritty, however, I should explain what exactly bandit’s guile is and how it does (or does not) fit into the combat rogue playstyle.

Bandit’s Guile is a specialization passive for Combat rogues that leads to a cyclical damage profile. As the rogue performs combo builders the mechanic gains a hidden stack, increasing damage at every 4th attack. At the start of combat the rogue does base damage, after 4 Sinister Strike or Revealing Strike casts, this advances to a 10% damage increase (shallow insight) for 15 seconds with the duration refreshing with each cast. After 4 more casts, the damage bonus is extended to 20% (moderate insight), then after 4 more it is extended to a 30% damage increase (this is deep insight). The 30% damage increase persists for 15 seconds without refreshing. Once it expires, the cycle starts over.

The design intent of the cycle is to offer you high-damage phases with which to line up your offensive cooldowns to maximize your damage. This mechanic however did not meet this design intent because the rogue really has no control over the advancement of the mechanic. This means you can really only hope things happen to line up. For Warlords of Draenor Blizzard opted to increase the damage of Revealing Strike but without advancing bandit’s guile, allowing the rogue to delay the cycle to line up with mechanics or burst phases.

So now I am going to get some baseline estimates of the cycle time with some simplifying assumptions. The first assumption will be that Slice and Dice is always cast at 5 combo points, making it free. For the Bandit’s Guile cycling I am also going to ignore the combo points generated by Revealing Strike (since it is also retaining its status as a maintenance debuff). I am going to assume its combo point is swallowed by RNG noise of the extra combo point it occasionally grants Sinister Strike. The assumption regarding energy regeneration will be that the rogue will play at 15% haste at the start of the expansion and 40% haste at the end, leading to a starting energy regeneration rate of 13.8 energy/sec and ending rate of 16.8 energy/sec. For simplicity, I am ignoring Adrenaline Rush and Combat Potency (whose effects are nowhere near insignificant).

Because of Ruthlessness, we need only generate 4 combo points per finisher cycle, with 1.2 points per Sinister Strike. At 50 energy this is 166.7 energy per finisher spent on sinister strike and 10 energy per finisher spent on eviscerate. That is 176.7 energy per finisher cycle. Revealing Strike consumes 1.7 energy/sec of the available 13.8-16.8, leaving the available energy for SS/Evis at 12.1-15.1. This is a finisher cycle of approximately 14.6 seconds. Eviscerate is 10 energy per 14.6 sec so this reduces the energy budget of sinister strike to 11.4-14.4 energy/sec.  At 50 energy, this means Sinister Strike will be cast on average every 4.3 seconds at expansion start and 3.5 seconds at expansion end. This means it will take 17.2 seconds to advance to the next insight level at the beginning and 14 seconds at the end. 17.2*3 + 15 = 66.6sec cycle at start and 57sec at end.

Now let’s look at average damage assuming you advance Bandit’s Guile as fast as possible. At expansion start, this is (3.3*17.2 + 1.3*15) / 66.6 = 1.145, or about 14.5% damage increase due to Bandit’s Guile cycling. At expansion end the expression looks like (3.3*14 + 1.3*15) / 57 = 1.153 or about 15.3% damage increase due to bandit’s guile cycling.

What happens if we hold moderate insight for another 5 seconds? These expressions can be modified directly without redoing all the math. The revised versions look like this: (2.1*17.2 + 1.2*22.2 + 1.3*15)/71.6 = 1.148, or 14.8% increase in damage at start and similar revision yields a 15.6% damage increase.  In both cases delaying deep insight by 5 seconds yields a very slight damage increase. Just to see what happens with the trend at the limit, let’s assume we spend a full minute in moderate insight (the maximum possible). Without showing the math, at expansion start it increases to 16.7% damage increase and at expansion end it averages out to 17.3% damage.

It’s plain to see at 30% BG it is always beneficial to delay deep insight (as long as you push to moderate quickly) to line up cooldowns. The reason for this is that we have a limit. As moderate insight gets longer and longer, we approach a flat average of 20% damage increase (this is easy to see in the minute-long moderate insight at high gear level case where we are at over 17% average damage).

Now lets factor in the Empowered Bandit’s Guile perk. This change increases deep insight from 30% to 50%. Is the damage increase far enough above the damage granted by moderate insight that deep insight uptime becomes more important and delaying it for cooldown lineup no longer matters? If we revise the 1.3*15 terms in the above expressions to 1.5*15 to account for this, the results change to 19-20.5% for cycling Bandit’s Guile as fast as possible. Clearly a damage buff, and a substantial one at that. But what happens if we delay deep insight by 5 seconds this time? The result is 19-20.5%.  Ok, so delaying deep insight by 5 seconds is no longer an increase. It’s about even now. What about delaying it by a minute like above? The result is 19.4-20.3%.

This is, however, ignoring the effects of adrenaline rush and combat potency on bandit’s guile cycling. What about more realistic cycles? Based on Simulationcraft using the combat pre-raid profile and the combat t16h profile we can get a range of Bandit’s Guile uptimes. Because we have uptimes, the calculation requires less hand-waving and we can do the math directly. With Mists of Pandaria mechanics in 5.4, the pre-raid combat rogue has 22.3% shallow insight uptime, 23.34% moderate uptime, and 32.95% deep insight uptime. One can infer from this 21.41% uptime at no insight. The T16H profile is 18.39%, 21.24%, 20.33%, and 40.04%. The deep insight uptime suggests a cycle time of 45.5 seconds at pre-raid and 37.4 seconds at T16H.

Using the simulated uptimes, the damage average at Pre-Raid gear level with 30% deep insight is 16.8%. With Empowered Bandit’s Guile it goes up to 23.4%. A 5-second delay at moderate insight represents a damage increase to 17.1% with a 30% Deep Insight and a damage loss to 23.0% with a 50% Deep Insight.

Using Similar math at T16H uptimes yields a damage increase of 18.2% at 30% Deep Insight, increased to 18.4% if you delay deep insight by 5 sec in moderate insight. With a 50% deep Insight, this changes to a loss from 26.2% to 25.5%.

What happens, however, if we spread the damage increase across bandit’s guile (let’s say 15% shallow, 25% moderate and 35% deep insight). Without going into detail, the end result is similar to the existing damage levels.

So what does this mean in terms of gameplay? Well with moderate and deep insight close in value, then it’s ALWAYS beneficial to delay deep insight as much as possible to line up with cooldowns, even up to one minute in length. However, by having deep insight do signficantly more damage, it can be a dps loss to do so. This is a good way to separate skill and allow better players to maximize their damage by knowing just how long they can delay deep insight to line up with cooldowns.

My initial impression of the Empowered Bandit’s Guile perk was that a 50% deep insight was going to dominate gameplay enough that it would be a non-issue–much like it is now. As it turns out, the damage loss is enough that using it incorrectly can cost you damage, but it’s small enough that using it correctly can result in a damage gain.

I have thus revised my opinion on Empowered Bandit’s Guile and think it could create some interesting gameplay for combat rogues in the future.

In the meantime, for Combat rogues still progressing in Siege of Orgrimmar at 90 when the 6.0 launches, if the Revealing Strike change sticks throughout beta, I am going to recommend holding in Moderate Insight so you can stack cooldowns in Deep Insight. At 30% deep insight it’s worth delaying moderate insight up to a full minute.

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