Aug 212012
 

Release candidate build!

Talents

Balance

  • Sunfire damage increased by 10%.

Well, kiss that top ranking for Feral in Simulationcraft goodbye. I don’t know actual numbers yet, but my feeling is that DoC will remain the top DPS talent for Feral, but by a much closer margin.  Balance, meanwhile, should climb out of the cellar a bit, though I’m not as tuned in to where they were on DoC so I can’t say for sure if that’ll remain tops for them.

 Posted by at 6:41 pm
Aug 162012
 

Another day, another patch.

Build 15983, changes from MMO-C:

  • Mangle now does 280% weapon damage, up from 250%.
  • Rake damage increased by 23%.
  • Wrath damage increased by 12% and SP scaling (111.6% of SP) added.

Talents

Balance

Balance & Restoration

Restoration

Feral sees a big buff here: Rake was already ~25% of our damage, so buffing that by 23% will add a significant amount of DPS. I won’t be surprised if Feral is topping the charts (or close to it) after SimulationCraft incorporates that change. (Enjoy it while it lasts!) I’m not convinced that the developers are going to let the Dream of Cenarius feral playstyle (use an instant HT after every PS and NS) stand, as it massively overpowers the other two talent options.

Balance gets a similar buff split between Starfire and Wrath, but they were already down near the bottom after the last set of changes. Think they might need a little more of a kick.

Resto gets a semi-nerf to Wild Mushroom which makes the planting of 1 or 2 mushrooms significantly less efficient (Instead of paying 3% mana per mushroom, you pay 10% for the bloom). Perhaps this is a precursor to changing WM to a single charge, which I think would be greatly appreciated.

Guardian gets a Mangle buff, though I haven’t kept up on tank DPS numbers lately so I don’t know how significant that is.

Oh, last and definitely least, the Displacer Beast cooldown got cut again, which still won’t change anything. As I’ve discussed before, the problem with DB isn’t the cooldown, it’s the base ability that’s terrible. If it gets a threat drop like Feign Death, or a DoT wipe like Vanish, then it will begin to catch my attention. Maybe I’m just not creative enough to see how it could be used offensively?

 Posted by at 7:44 pm
Aug 142012
 

Not saying it’s going to be the ONLY one…but this feels like the one where the developers have cut off rotation design and are working on balancing said rotations.

Notes from mmo-c, as usual, with my thoughts after.

  • Cat Form now increases movement speed by 25%, up from 15%.
  • Mangle now does 400% normal damage, down from 420%.
  • Moonfire damage reduced by ~3% and additional damage reduced by ~6%.
  • Starfall damage reduced by 4%.
  • Wrath damage reduced by 1% and SP scaling removed from the tooltip.

Talents

  • Dream of Cenarius now grants 50% (was 40%) damage your next 2 Moonfire or Sunfire casts and 50% (was 30%) increased damage by your next 2 melee abilities.

Balance

  • Celestial Alignment grants you the simultaneous damage benefit of both your Lunar Eclipse and Solar Eclipse, increasing damage done by your Nature and Arcane spells by 15% (was 20%).
  • Starfall damage reduced by 4%.
  • Starfire damage reduced by 4%.
  • Starsurge damage reduced by 4%.
  • Sunfire initial damage reduced by 4% and additional base damage reduced by 8% and SP scaling reduced by 4%.

Feral

  • Shred now does 400% damage plus 62, down from 420% damage plus 62.

Guardian

  • Vengeance now works off of 2% of the unmitigated damage rather than 5% of the damage taken. Now has a 20 sec duration and no cap on a percentage of your health.

Cat Form change was unexpected; I don’t think anybody had mentioned druids needing speed boosts.We’ll have to retest how cat + feline swiftness + boot enchants/PvP set bonii work again.

Feral got a very minor nerf: Mangle/Shred damage dropped about 4%, which is probably about a 1% overall DPS reduction. The movement speed buff will increase uptime which will probably more than compensate for that.

Balance got hit much harder, about a 5% overall DPS reduction. Was necessary; casters (more mages and locks) were riding pretty high. Overall, I’d say Blizz is targeting about 100k DPS this tier (for fully-heroic geared DPS’).

Guardian Vengeance change we already knew about; that 2% damage thing is good, as it removes the whole “negative scaling with avoidance” thing.

Resto is apparently fine? :P

Ugh, I may have to seriously consider Dream of Cenarius for feral now, especially if you can proc it off of NS and PS.

 Posted by at 7:25 pm
Aug 052012
 

Since I think the talent tiers are about as done as they’re going to be, (though I hope Displacer Beast still gets changed, for its owns sake) I went ahead and wrote up a longer article on the first three Druid talent tiers for balance and feral. You can find it over on WoW Insider, as always. Next week, I’ll tackle Tier 4-6, and hopefully get some reasonably solid SimulationCraft numbers. Last time I checked, I think balance favored Incarnation and feral favored FoN, but that was a while ago and they’ve made changes this then.

I’d like to discuss Heart of the Wild some more as well, but I don’t have a good feel as to where it is in terms of off-role performance. (I’m not talking about the passive buff. That’s boring and OP.) I’ve heard 50-60% thrown around; if anyone has any date, I’d be interested in seeing it.

 

 Posted by at 11:52 pm
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