In the realm of
Azeroth we seem to be surrounded by numbers.
They are everywhere. Item level,
character level, DPS, there is no escaping numbers. Numbers can be a good thing, but they can
also be abused.

Let’s take the pet
score. This may be a number you are not
familiar with. Wowprogress is a site that ranks all
kinds of things, realms, and characters by item level, guilds by progression
and more. One of the rankings on this
site is something called a pet score.
Without knowing anything about how the site makes a ranking
determination you could make all kinds of assumptions. You might assume that the number of pet
battles or the number of PvP battles you have one might be factored into
computing this score. One assumption I
made was that the number of pet related achievement points was factored into
this score. The other day I found out I
was very wrong in my assumption.

In my guild, is a
shaman, Wildsong by name. She is (or was)
the undisputed pet champion. If it’s a
collectible pet, she has it. She has the
Ethereal Soul Trader; she has the various rare drops from throne of
thunder. She has over 500 unique pets. In checking her ranking, she is first in the
guild and fifth on the server for pet score.
This, of course makes perfect sense.
It did until the other day.

I am online the
other day, plodding about and an achievement toast comes up in guild chat. “Wildsong has earned the achievement Taming
the World”. Along with that toast was
another one announcing she had defeated Grand Master Aki. I was stunned. I got the tamer achievement a long time
ago. I would have figured Wildsong did
too. I congratulated her on her
achievement and took the time to ask how the Celestial Tournament was going for
her. Her response was that she had not
yet beaten it, but now that she had beaten the tamers in Pandaria, she had hope
and confidence.

I thought it would
have gone without saying that she would have beat not only the Pandaria tamers,
but the Tournament as well, based on her pet score and ranking. I have managed to beat the Tournament five
times now. I have two of the reward pets
to prove it and am working on the third.
My ranking is second within the guild and ninth on the server. Apparently these scores and rankings followed
some logic I was not familiar with.

I looked into
exactly how WoWprogress computes these numbers.
They do it based solely on the number of pets you have, the level of
said pets, and the quality (rare, uncommon, etc…) of said pets. For instance a level 25 rare pet is worth is
worth 62.10 points. The same pet as an
uncommon is worth 57.32 points. A rare
level 23 pet is worth 51.96 points. It
is entirely feasible that a player could never fight any tamers and simply
accumulate a huge collection of wild pets from Pandaria and have a huge
score. Fill up all 1000 pet slots with
bandicoons and marsh fiddlers and level them to 25 and you too could have a
high pet score and ranking. Let’s do the
math. If I decided to capture every wild
pet in Pandaria with a quality of uncommon or rare, and then level them to 25 I
am quite sure I would be first on my server.
Let’s assume that I wind up with 75% uncommon (750 pets) and 25% rare
(250 pets). My pet score would then be
750*57.32 (this equals 42,990) plus 250*62.10 (this equals 15,525. My total pet score would be 58,515. By way of comparison, the number one pet
score on my server is 17,088. The number
one slot in the entire US has a score of 36204.

Clearly we can
only draw limited assumptions from Wowprogress’s pet score. My hypothetical collector of bandicoons and
marsh fiddlers would probably be ranked number one in the world. This same hypothetical character would
probably never win a PvP pet battle, would not be able to defeat most tamers
and would probably have very few pet achievements.

All numbers are the
same in this regards. Let’s take
iLevel. The common wisdom seems to be
that higher iLevel generally equates to higher performance. This of course is simply not true. One thing I seem to have plenty of is
trinkets. I have a nice mix of tanking
and DPS trinkets. Let’s say that my
highest iLevel trinkets are my DPS trinkets (these will be the 553 pieces from
SoO normal) and that all my tanking trinkets are from LFR (so my tanking
trinkets are iLevel 528). A flex raid is
forming and they need a tank. I decide
to cheese iLevel and equip my 553 DPS trinkets.
Sure this will give me a boost in iLevel, but probably won’t really do
wonders for my performance as a tank.

How about DPS? The higher the DPS, the better the player,
right? People seem to forget that not
all characters are created equal. Let’s
take a shadow priest and a frost mage ad let’s say they are geared to LFR level
(they both have an iLevel of exactly 528).
At the end of a boss fight, the meters announce the frost mage did 219K
DPS, and the shadow priest did 165K DPS.
Must be the mage is some kind of hero and that the shadow priest might
need to learn his class. Thing is, this
is the expected performance for both classes.
Check out the site Noxxic. This site tells you the projected DPS for a
character based on their class/specialization and gear level. In the example I just used, each character is
doing their expected amount of DPS.

I could go on and
on. Numbers have their uses, but
players have a very bad tendency to dogmatically make assumptions about numbers
and take a raw number as some kind of gospel truth about a character’s
performance or worth. Playing with
numbers requires just a little bit of thought.
It’s not as simple as “character x has higher DPS and therefore is the
better player”.

This seems like a
good place to conclude.

Peace.