I like theorycrafters and the stuff they contribute to games. They test, set up spreadsheets and report bugs. One of the core aspects of this site is to give them a platform because far too often it gets buried somewhere else. I believe what they do is often wrongly labeled elitism, but their work in the end helps players across all tiers. Acting smart is a feat, not a burden. And why not profit from someone else spending hours finding out synergy and stuff? Even if you don’t understand or care for all the math and numbers yourself, somebody does and the core points will spread. There’s a decent chance you’re being positively impacted by theorycrafters right now without knowing it.
One thing that’s always coming from theorycrafters is “the meta”. It’s a term for running with the best possible combination of classes and builds. For some this is a dreaded topic, because it can be exclusive. Most guilds and some private channels even enforce picking roles when building dungeon groups, not certain classes. I personally think the benefits far outweigh the harm, but I get why people sometimes get annoyed. Part of the issue however is not the information itself, but folks not putting it to good use.
As player, you still need to understand the underlying theory of the meta. You can’t blindly follow it. I mean you can, but then the meta might work against you and makes your runs less effective than they could be. So here are my top reasons why you shouldn’t always trust the word on the streets.
The Meta Is Not the Same on All Item Levels
You can be pretty sure that optimal group setups are tested on “bis” characters. That also means that the conclusions gathered only apply to that particular tier of players. On lower item levels, the optimal setup might very well be different. So it helps to understand why certain classes are better than others and evaluate whether that’s still the case below the max. Sometimes a build needs to hit certain thresholds to make it superior, like keeping a daily up permanently or whatever.
Different Content, Different Approach
This ties into what I’ve said above. Just like classes, it makes sense to check the meta against different content. The hardest dungeons might require a special setup that you don’t need somewhere else. This is especially true if the meta stacks healing or damage mitigation. In that case you are probably better off going with more DPS in easier content.
Your “Run Length” Includes Time to Assemble a Group
The meta has the annoying tendency that everyone and their mother are searching for the same classes. So it usually takes a while to get the perfect group. The time required to assemble your team obviously works against your run efficiency. If you need 20 minutes to run the content and an additional 10 for recruiting, then any group that’s instantly available and can do the content is less than 30 is better. So you always need to weigh the time saved by a certain pick against the time required to get it.
The absolute worst case scenario here is that you not only wait comparably long to get your group, but also settle for lower item levels eventually that could very well be less efficient than an alternative.
This is probably the number one reason why runs in the meta can take longer than other options. Since it’s hard to know how long it’s going to take to get your group however, you probably can’t fully avoid this. Also it’s much less of an issue if you plan to do multiple runs and at least everyone but the leader can do other stuff like dailies while waiting to not effectively waste as much time.
Check Class Synergy
Some classes within the meta might only be good because they work well with others. If you need to replace one, maybe because you can’t find it, then be aware of a possible domino effect that makes other classes less effective than alternatives as well.
Overall the meta is a great thing. It gives you the best possible group composition in endgame content. You still want to avoid certain traps when using it or you risk ending up being less efficient than you could be.
What’s your approach of assembling groups? Do you insist on a certain combination or just pick up what’s available and viable to get into dungeons faster? Share your thoughts and experience in the comments below and visit the corresponding thread on our message board!
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