WoW Mythbusters: LFD Que times

Since the release of the LFD system, I’ve heard a number of rumors about how it operates.  But thats no fun.  I want data.

I’ve read speculation that the que times of dps players are based on gear level. The theory goes that Blizzard wants to mix groups, so that some players in the run have amazing gear, to help gear up other players. This implies that better-geared characters have shorter que times.

TL;DR:

  • Que times can be significantly shorter for the best geared players.

First Approach – Que Times

I’ve been attempting to check this by throwing all of my characters into the que as dps, and tracking how long the que takes to pop. (So there have been 3 fewer tanks on my Battlegroup’s que – sorry y’all, its in the name of science!)

The data come from just under 100 runs through LFD – thank goodness I like pugging and do well without sleep.  I’ll note – I did many more trips through LFD… but didn’t always collect all the data I needed. Apparently, clicking / jotting down a number is slightly beyond my ability as a player of WoW. (And now my GM knows why we wipe in ICC… )

Since que times vary in length, depending on time of day, I’ve calculated ‘que time’ in 2 different ways. The first measures the difference in time between the estimate offered and the actual que time. Positive numbers indicate longer ques, negative numbers indicate shorter ques.

I’m also doing this as a percentage of overall que time.

Gearscore Seconds Between Estimated and Actual Que Percentage Difference
3886 67.4 11%
4280 -8.6 0%
4339 96 12%
4408 60 9%
5149 9 1%
5493+ -380.8* -64%*

I find this to be particularly cool:  when I que on my main (nicely geared) as the first run of the day, I have a much shorter que time – the dps que is less than half the time estimated (an average of six minutes shorter than the estimated que).   Curiously, I don’t observe this when my first que is on worse-geared dps characters, or (sometimes) when I que on my main after running several other heroics.  As yet, I’m unsure why.

[Plausible]

* [Warning:  statistics follows] This difference is statistically significant at the 0.05 level.  None of the other differences are statistically significant.

Whatever system Blizzard uses to generate groups, it does not appear to generate significant differences in the que times of players. This doesn’t mean that matching does not occur – I’d need data on the population of players in the que to look at that (time to mine the armory?) – it is entirely possible to match players without dramatically altering que times.

Why the myth? I’ve noticed that when I que on my main (nicely geared) as the first run of the day, I have a much shorter que time *****. Curiously, I don’t observe this when my first que is on worse-geared dps characters. As yet, I’m unsure why.

[Busted]

Second Approach: Group Gear Levels

Suppose, for a moment, that the set of players I’ve grouped with is representative of the population of WoW players. (Yet, somehow, nobody got booted from these runes / acted like a jerk / was a complete and total idiot… so given whats been blogged about, this might be a heroic assumption.)**

http://www.stratfu.com/blog/kyth/2010/01/bad-lfd-groups-revenge

If the que was going to randomly assign groups, it’d pick 1 tank, 1 healer, and 3 dps out of the assortment of players I’ve been matched with. [Its slightly more complicated, because many of those dps are my characters… but I’ll omit that difficulty for the purpose of this explanation – its manageable, just takes a bit o math.]

On this random assignment theory, LFD would produce groups that were both under and overgeared – which I’m going to approximate by looking at average gear scores. Doing this would produce a roughly normal distribution of average group gearscore, with some quite low and others quite high.

LFD, if it is matching groups based on gear, should distort this distribution. I’d guess this would yield under-dispersion: fewer groups with worse gear, and therefore a corresponding reduction in overgeared groups. But – there are a number of other techniques to match players – so this is just one check.

I’ve simulated the distribution of average gearscores given the data I’ve observed over 50 runs, and compared it to the actual data.

[Graph of simulated data] vs [Graph of observed data]

****

Admittedly, this would be easier to do with data on the overall distribution of gearscores (please stop me before I write a webcrawler).

Third Approach: Are T9 raiders the saviors of LFD?

A final – and admittedly the strangest – theory I’d read about LFD is that que times are shorter now, because ICC raiders are seeking Emblems of Frost from the daily dungeon. Once these players have enough badges from ICC itself, they’ll stop queing, leaving to longer ques overall.

1) More players in LFD should yield shorter que times, but the effect will be quite small. I’m trying to model que times as a function of the population of players in LFD, but the results are just too sensitive to the assumptions I make. (I’ll post this once it seems more reliable / I have insight into simplifying the problem.) In brief – the loss of ICC raiders will matter, but the effect won’t be large unless their numbers are larger than I think is plausible.

2) ICC raiders will matter – considerably – if they’re more likely to be tanks, since tanks drive the LFD system. So I looked up whether the tanks I’d grouped with have downed Saurfang in ICC (either 10 or 25).

% tanks, % dps, % healers

I sincerely apologize for the lack of explosions in this episode. I’ll try to fix that, as soon as I get an engineer to 450.

*** Oh wait… nope, I remember a few jerks now that I think about it. Thank goodness I have a terrible memory, probably keeps me happier.

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One Response to “WoW Mythbusters: LFD Que times”

  1. WoW Mythbusters: Gearing for Heroics « World of Spaz Says:

    […] As before, I’m using data on approximately 100 runs through LFD, where I collected information on the performance of players.  For this section, I’ve excluded my own characters from the analysis. […]

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