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Theorycrafting would probably be considered off-topic as those questions usually ask about certain details of game mechanics and (a lot of) maths, which would be a good reason to close them as OT. However, in World of Warcraft theorycrafting is widely accepted and a lot of guilds actually encourage using it. Also newbies and casual players benefit from it when looking up class guides or tools (AskMrRobot,...), which are often written/fed by theorycrafters.

So my question is: Would theorycrafting questions (especially in terms of WoW) survive on Arqade or are they OT because they ask about game mechanics/development and their maths?

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    On the face of it, I don't see why asking about game mechanics would be offtopic... but I think such questions would do well to avoid asking in such a way that would invite opinion rather than analysis. "What skills provide the highest dps?" is preferable to "what are the best skills?" – Trent Hawkins Feb 10 '17 at 10:47
  • Also, keep in mind that it may depend on the game. Something like WoW that provides enough of the numbers that people can point to as a source for their maths may work better than a game where the numbers are largely obfuscated. – Trent Hawkins Feb 10 '17 at 10:54
  • @TrentHawkins Even if the numbers are obfuscated, you can still figure stuff out. My earliest answers were mostly about experimenting with stuff in Civilization to figure out how many undocumented mechanics actually worked. – Mad Scientist Feb 10 '17 at 11:55
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    One thing that might be hanging people up is the terminology; theorycrafting implies a level of testing that makes most people's eyes glaze over. What it really is, is an in depth test of game mechanics. That's exactly what we specialize in. – Frank Feb 10 '17 at 15:21
  • @TrentHawkins asking "what are the best skills" is not about theorycrafting, so don't worry about that. I am referring to actual game play and real numbers and/or practical tests, like Frank mentioned, like numbers coming from SimCraft or actual experience. And as far as I can remember I've seen questions like that closed for OT (not in WoW, though). – dly Feb 10 '17 at 21:26
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Absolutely not. Theory-crafting is 107% on-topic.

So my question is: Would theorycrafting questions (especially in terms of WoW) survive on Arqade or are they OT because they ask about game mechanics/development and their maths?

This website is about videogames, and videogame mechanics are an essential component of our topic area. If the maths behind those game mechanics become important to an answer, by all means do the maths.

Now, is our Q&A area the best place to host the shared development of an approximate model of game mechanics? No, probably not. That doesn't mean answers shouldn't bring maths to the table, and that newer answers shouldn't challenge the assumptions made in the older answers, and that people can't discuss the matter in the comments area or on chat.

We welcome and encourage original research while answering questions on this website.

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The problem with theorycrafting is that it doesn't really fit the Stack Exchange creed of "ask questions, get answers". Theorycrafting is more like "ask question, calculate answer, get feedback on answer, try something new, get feedback on new, try something different, get feedback on different, agree on a model, inject model into simulation tool, fix bug with implementation of model in simulation tool,..." It's something that's not really well suited for a Q&A model like Arqade. It's something more suited for a forum or a chatroom.

In addition, theorycrafting is an ever changing subject. Players are rebalanced every week, bosses are regularly hotfixed for bugs, and then there are the major and minor patches that require YET MORE changes to the model. Arqade doesn't really like questions that are that volatile in nature.

Finally, theorycrafting is something that's limited to a VERY small subsection of the community. Out of the millions of WoW players, I estimate that less than 100 are actively working on theorycrafting new and updated models. And while many players are using the FRUITS of theorycrafting (as in guides, simulation tools and inaccurate DPS comparisons), only a fraction of players has the right mentality for answering questions about theorycrafting, and I doubt they're active on this site.

To clarify: Theorycrafting questions themselves can be on topic. However, the normal process of the community asking how the TCer comes to a certain conclusion and pointing out flaws in the methodology is less suited, because Stack Exchange inherently doesn't like people discussing things in details.

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    I just don't have the time to comment on how every single sentence in this answer is wrong or irrelevant. – badp Feb 10 '17 at 11:45

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