Jul 262012
 

I’ve completed the guide page for the Mists of Pandaria druid talents, located here. Feel free to check it out and comment as you see fit; I’ll be revising it as talents change for the beta.

Also, I know everyone in the world’s covered it already, but just in case you missed it, the travel form model is now a stag by default. Previously, you had to glyph it to get that effect; now, though, they apparently like it enough that it became the default, and you have to glyph if you want the old cheetah form back. You can also glyph to allow your stag form to be ridable by others, if you choose. Works for me; cheetah and cat were too similar for my liking. Hit the link for pics.

(man, defaults to stag sounds like me in college.)

 Posted by at 10:25 am
Jul 242012
 

So, my column this week for WoW Insider was a “wait, why am I playing this class again?” screed, and it apparently struck a communal nerve. My columns don’t usually get 90 comments. :)

I don’t think I need to share with this audience why druids are awesome (Seal form + Vash’jir…fun times) but I just wanted to reassure people that I wasn’t going anywhere. Yes, I have a brand-new monk blog; yes, I’ve been enamored with them lately. As of right now, though, I don’t see my monk getting past “main alt” status. I just love Flying Serpent Kick. :)

Anyway I’m beginning work on the full guide pages that will be up for the Mists release, so you’ll start to (finally) see more options appearing on the drop-down menus. If there’s anything specific you’d like to see, let me know!

 Posted by at 3:01 pm
Jul 132012
 

A lot of people are pointing to the Mists trailer being shown at Gamescom (August 16th) as a signal that the expansion will be released in late August.

I don’t buy that. Why? Couple reasons.

  • DS nerf needs more time.  The Dragon Soul nerf won’t hit 30% until early August. If we look at Cataclysm, ICC hit 30% in July, but the expansion didn’t release until December. Yes, if you’re reading this you’re sick of DS already, but there’s hundreds of guilds still progressing who might get over the hump at 30%.
  • Trend of betas being longer. Adam had a great post on this back in April. BC beta was 95 days, Wrath was 128, Cata was 159. This beta started on March 20th, so a 190-200 day beta would see Mists land in late September/early October.
  • Jade Forest still isn’t done. That seems rather…major.
  • Guild Wars 2 releases August 28. This is the biggest reason people are predicting August…but the fact is, Blizzard generally doesn’t program expansion releases against competition. Patches, though? Sure. I could definitely see the 5.0 mechanics hitting on that date.
  • Datamined Brewfest items are Mists-caliber. Brewfest starts on September 20th. While I don’t think that’ll hold things up significantly if it went longer (they’d just move Brewfest back a week, most likely), it’s a good indicator.
  • First wave of Annual Passes ends in late October. Assuming they announce a new Annual Pass (likely) that won’t contain Mists (very likely), then they’ll want to make it available very close to the Mists release date. The WoW AP came out on October 21st, so a new one needs to be out or announced a week or two before then.

Back in January, I said “D3 in April, Mists in October.” Even though D3 slipped to May, I still think I’m pretty close. My guess:

Late July: 5.0 patch date announced.
16 August: Gamescom trailer, Mists release date announced.
28 August: 5.0 patch released.
4 September: 5.0.1 patch released to fix all the stuff 5.0 broke, Mists world event starts.
11 September: Not going to happen. Too many negative connotations still.
18 September: Possible release date.
25 September: More likely release date, with Brewfest being moved back a week and shinied up some.
Mid-October: Annual Pass 2 announced, reward is free HotS when it releases (plus free SCII if you don’t have it yet). No beta access this time, or at least restricted better.

(Yes, this is all part of my “prove me wrong, release it in August” ploy.) What do you think?

 Posted by at 9:31 am
Jul 122012
 

So, our very own Tinderhoof (yeah, I claim him) is going to take over as the feral representative on the Team Waffle podcast! Go check out his first appearance! I feel proud, almost…like I’ve had a litter of kittens or something. :)

As for me, I’ve been playing detective. The military has this lovely thing where officers get appointed as investigators for incidences of wrongdoing. I’ve been interviewing witnesses, running down leads, dealing with paperwork, all kinds of fun. (On the positive? side, there haven’t been any beta builds recently, so not too much to talk about.) I just completed my ~70 page report, so I’ve got a bit more writing time available to me now. I’ll start writing up some spec guides for MoP over the next few weeks, since I think druids are pretty much done in terms of major mechanics changes (not balance changes; feral’s too weak, guardian’s too strong, don’t really have a feel for the other two).

Also, I now have a Galaxy S III, which is an amazing device. I now have more games I won’t have time to play. Yay?

 Posted by at 12:30 am
Jun 202012
 

There’s an amazingly good class balance analysis thread/discussion going on at the official forums. It’s being heavily moderated, so all the junk’s being filtered, and GC’s talking more than he has in months, which is great. (Here’s the MMO-Champion tracker, if you just want to read the blue posts.) I’m going to pull out the druid quotes so far: GC’s responses in italics.

Quote: I know that modeling totem pets like the Fire Elemental has been annoying for the various Shaman theorycrafters. They seem to perform some actions randomly and they have an unexplained long “start-up” time. Any information you can give on how these things function under the hood would be welcome.

I believe there is a known issue that we’re currently working on, where many guardians that auto-assist you take a few sec to start assisting you after they spawn. We’re working to fix that, as we know that it impacts the performance of spells that summon these guardians.

My take: Good; this should help with Force of Nature.

Quote: Will Detonate indeed not be affected by Solar Eclipse?

Correct. Mushrooms should not be affected by Solar.

My take: Confirmation of what we already knew. Solarcleave is dead; should never be prolonging an Eclipse now.

Quote: There was a post not too long ago telling the Moonkin players that you were looking into a way for us to play around with our Eclipse.

There may occasionally be times where it’s actually worth it to use AC rotationally, but they should be generally pretty rare. What it should let you do is more directly control your Eclipse cycle, so that you can ‘game’ Eclipse to line up with fight mechanics. 

My take: Bingo. Exactly the niche it should be in, as I discussed in this column.

Quote: Is Bloom intended to be used in AoE healing rotations? How will it affect Harmony?

It isn’t intended to be used rotationally, and may be too good at the moment. It is fine for it to affect Harmony as long as it doesn’t become a vehicle to keep Harmony up. If we can make it a small little bonus, that’s fine.

Quote: Spending a lot of our day trying to keep both Harmony and Lifebloom up (while trying to take advantage of all the new toys we got in MOP) is just too overwhelming even in MOP 5-mans.

Yes, we agree. Both of those durations could increase without much risk.

My take: I’m not sure how to parse the first quote, unless they plan on giving Bloom a minor effect that isn’t a refresh. Something like “Also extends your Harmony duration for 1 sec for each mushroom that blooms.” Of course, seeing as they might bump up the duration of Harmony and LB, it might not end up mattering.

Quote: Mastery – As of right now Mastery is going to be the stat to miss COMPLETELY. Only two (three with Incarnation) abilities will benefit from it, both of which are based on Attack Power ONLY. Even then in 483 PvP gear, with full raid buffs and ZERO Mastery, Rip is still hitting for 300k damage.

We’re currently modeling Mastery as roughly equal in value to Crit and Haste for Ferals, typically a couple % better. If you can provide any more detailed analysis, we’d be interested in seeing it.

My take: Stack mastery! Heard it here first! :) As always, the actual question is how well the secondary stats will scale relative to each other.

Quote: Incarnation – As of this point Incarnation is bad for Feral druids. Due to Ravage and Pounce’s 50 energy cost, there is just not enough energy to compensate normal shreds. based on my analysis you are looking at a 600 dps loss if you spec into Incarnation. If Ravage and Pounce cost 40 energy instead, then it would be a dps buff.

Incarnation should allow you to replace several Shreds with Ravages. Ravages are indeed more expensive, so the CP per energy will be lower (except above 80%, where it will be much higher). But, Ravage does ~50% more damage than Shred, for only 25% more energy. Is your modeling show that that’s not enough to be a sustained DPS increase? (Not to mention being a significant burst DPS increase.)

My take: Nothing to see here; Incarnation  fills the burst DPS role, as intended.

Quote: I’m still in the early stages for Guardian but as of this point bears will only need to gear for dodge > crit > hit/exp > haste > Mastery up to 6 rage per second. This allows for at least 1 stack of Savage Defense will be available at all time. Beyond 6 Rage Per Second you will get to 0 stacks at some point during the fight. Beyond 6 RPS, uptime on SD only grows minisculally beyond 60% (6.66 RPS – 61.16% uptime; 7.5 RPS – 61.33% uptime; 10 RPS – 61.6% uptime) For example, with 6.666 RPS, we can use Savage Defense every 9 seconds up to 3 minutes into the fight. Afterwards we can use it every 10 seconds.

While there is effectively a ‘cap’ on converting rage to Savage Defenses uptime (as you describe, that’s effectively 6.666 RPS to use it on charge cooldown), that should translate to a very ‘soft’ cap on hit/exp/crit, as streaks of rage gain and rage drought may occur. And, more importantly, Frenzied Regeneration should provide a very attractive value in bleeding off excess rage, which is effectively uncapped. Our current design is that against difficult content, Savage Defense provides more average damage mitigation than Frenzied Regeneration heals, but given that it is avoidance (and thus not necessarily reliable), you will sometimes resort to using Frenzied Regeneration to smooth over spikes when you feel you need to. The goal in terms of feeling is that you should ‘want’ to use Savage Defense as much as possible, but sometimes you ‘need’ to Frenzied Regeneration to respond to unexpected spikes in damage.

My take: This is about the only thing I dislike. Against “difficult content,” you have to keep up SD as close to max uptime as you can manage, because 45% dodge is HUGE. I go from 20% avoidance to 65%.  Boss damage intake is going to be tuned for that max uptime; you don’t have the flexibility to go “oh my health’s at 20% hit FR instead of SD this time around” because by the time you generate 60 more rage to get SD back up, you’ll be dead. Maybe bosses won’t hav that kind of damage output…but they’ve always had to pump that up previously to challenge healers. So. We’ll see what happens with that.  Dammit, if I’m tanking, I don’t want my healers to have to track Savage Defense on their Grid/Vuhdo/Healbot, but it’s shaping up that way. Death (knight) bears!

More math:

Odds of taking 4 consecutive unavoided  hits with 20% dodge:  40%. With 65% dodge: 1.5%. Think on that.

 Posted by at 2:28 pm
Jun 042012
 

So, I took a week off from blogging/WoW to play Diablo 3…and then things went crazy in real life. Yeowch. I don’t want to go into too much detail, but my wife had to be hospitalized, and what was supposed to be a short stay ended up taking over a week. I’ve barely even touched a computer in the past ten days or so, but will slowly be catching up with stuff (and writing about it!) over the next few weeks.

…if I’m not playing Xenoblade Chronicles. Damn friends and their capacity to pick great games to tempt me with. :) I’ve sunk about 50 hours into D3, enough to level a barbarian to 60 and get through Hell Diablo, and Inferno just really isn’t that appealing to me.

 Posted by at 11:35 pm
May 182012
 

So, I’ve been busy with another threequel, (*barbarians are awesome*) but I just got a tip that MMO-Champion says feral’s losing rip. This build’s datamine only at this point, not live, but judging by the datamine tooltip, I’m calling BS on that summary. My guess is that the old rip is now baseline to all non-feral spec and feral spec got a new, harder-hitting rip.

Of course, we’ll see whenever the new build goes up. In the meantime, what I find much more interesting is that Ghostcrawler mentioned IS might come back for balance, in some fashion. Looking forward to it; balance needs something to complicate the rotation a little, as it’s been simplified quite a bit.

 Posted by at 1:29 am
May 142012
 

This week for my Shifting Perspectives WoWI column, I went into a little more detail about the level 90 talents, and also got a bit creative. (I start the column with a parody of Isaiah Mustafa and end with a Biblical allusion…how’s that?) I wrote the column before this weekend’s patch, but those changes didn’t alter any of my conclusions. Go take a look; as always, comment here or there, but I’m much more likely to respond here.

 Posted by at 12:01 am
May 082012
 

Lo, the blues have spoken, and it was good. (Thanks to everyone who linked this to me)

We’re not yet happy with the druid level 90 row. We still like the theme of it playing into the druid’s hybrid nature and we want to reassure you (which I think most of you already know) that druids won’t do lower damage or healing compared to other classes just because some other class has an unambiguous throughput increasing talent at level 90. Classes are balanced around their whole package.

Nonetheless, we want the bottom row of talents to be exciting. In the next (hopefully) build, you’ll see a few changes.

  • Disentanglement — no longer a talent. Shapeshifting for all druids just breaks roots.
  • Dream of Cenarius — increases damage spells by 70% (up from 30%).
  • Heart of the Wild — now also grants 6% passive Agility and Intellect.
  • Nature’s Vigil — replaces Disentanglement. Increases all damage and healing done by 30% for 30 sec, with a 3 min cooldown. While active, all healing spells also damage a nearby target for 50% of healing done, and all damage spells and abilities also heal a nearby friendly target for 50% of the damage done.

Let us know how they feel once you get a chance to try them.

I’ll have a full column up with lots of analysis and such this weekend, but wanted to toss this out now. My quick thoughts as I’m headed to work:

  • 6% passive buff from HoTW is pretty close to +6% DPS, at least for feral. The actual number isn’t important, what’s important will be how it measures against an NV used during Berserk/CA/Incarnation. Being able to stack cooldowns like that could cause some…QQ issues.
  • DoC is still a DPS loss for balance; feral is dependent on how it interacts with Rip. I’d be a bit happier with it if it added a line saying “your next heal will not shift you out of form” but I think it’s the weak sister of the 3.

Feel free to add your comments; I’ll try to respond tonight.

 Posted by at 7:17 am