Apr 242010
 

As I alluded to in my previous post, I’ve been fighting some burnout lately. I attribute it to overspecialization, I think. I’ve spent so much time and effort minmaxing my DPS performance that my fluidity (heh) has suffered. We’re currently working on LK25, and we’re struggling mightily with the Valks/Defiles..we’ve yet to succesfully manage the Defile AND not get people killed. (If anyone has any strategy advice, I’d love to hear it. So far we’re pretty good on transitioning into P2: we stack up behind LK in the center while killing the last raging, pop Holy Wrath/Cone of Cold to stun/slow Valks, let loose with AOE, melee starts to follow them…then Defile comes and everyone dies. :P Only successful defile attempts were when it was on the mages, who managed to Blink it away from the group. 2 secs just doesn’t feel like enough reaction time to get it out of the stack.) Basically, it doesn’t matter right now how much effort I spend on gearing appropriately or planning good DPS rotations, it matters whether I have hyper-quick reactions…and that pisses me off. I could see an eventual Defile nerf, if only because the stacking buff doesn’t really make it any easier to avoid.

Thankfully, we took a break from LK for our Thursday raid, and dropped Algalon-25. After a few early wipes, I switched to heals, and helped take him down.  It’s a very strategically interesting fight for healers, I find, managing the burst raid damage from the black hole explosions vs. keeping the tanks alive. Somehow, landing a tank-saving Swiftmend feels much more “clutch” then topping DPS meters. :)

After that, I logged back in last night, noticed I was still in the raid group, and said “hey, let’s do Kara again. :)” I had soloed most of Kara in ilvl 213/226 gear previously, but never managed to kill Aran or Prince. Much easier in ilvl 264. :P It’s rewarding too…I easily made 700g or so, in the span of a couple hours, not counting three Darkmoon cards and a rare world-drop enchanting recipe. Budget a few more hours if you don’t know your way around…it’s not aggressively linear like WOTLK instances. Quick tips:

  • Prep: Get some Kings drums (fort scrolls are helpful too), some buff food, and glyph Maul/SI/FR. Spec 0/60/11, make sure you pick up Nurturing Instincts. 4pT10 is very helpful for the extra damage reduction CD. I used my cat gear, but did pop in a tank trinket for a few fights. After Opera, make sure you open the back door for easier wipe recovery; after Shade, you can port in by talking to the butler.
  • Attumen/Moroes/Maiden: Tank and spank; on Moroes use Berserked Mangle/Maul to take down add packs. (throw a couple HoTs while he’s Vanished if you need.) Make sure you clear Attumen’s whole wing and Moroes’ room before pulling them.
  • Opera Event: Moderately tough to very tough, depending on who you get. See Allison’s guide for full details, but in brief:
    • Oz: Not too bad. Lots of strategic choices here, depending on your gear level. I usually went kitty and laid down as much burst damage as I could on Dorothee before finishing her in bear. Frost resist gear may or may not help.
    • Romulo/Julianne: Pretty tough. It’s a pretty decent gear check. P1- Go kitty and burn Julianne down. P2- throw HoTs and go bear for Romulo. P3- use Berserked Mangle/Maul/Swipe to bring down their health evenly. You’ll probably need to pop SI/FR at this point. Bash her heals when available. You won’t get all of them, but you should be able to outdamage her healing. You can try to keep them moving…she’ll stop to cast, so you’ll have range for a Charge. Either way, make sure you go Kitty and burn down the remaining one quickly…you only get 10 seconds before they rez their partner.
    • BBW: Good luck. Here’s my strat. If I can do it in Ulduar gear, you can do it too. :P
  • Nightbane: You can only summon him if you’ve done the questline…he’s tank and spank. If you need to, you can LOS his fears/breaths using the inside edge of the platform.
  • Curator/Illhoof: Tank and spank. Pop SI/FR early on Curator so you can lay down max damage during his Evocation. Make sure you clear his room.
  • Netherspite: Tank and spank, but with a catch…you have to pull him out of his room. If you stand right at the door and wait, he will path to just in range of a Taunt/FF…aggro him and quickly run out the door before it closes. You’ll want to pull him up the hallway to the first little room and off to the left, to get him out of the blue beam. Make sure you’re standing with your back to a wall. (Yes, you can get knocked back off the platform…it’s a long fall. :P)
  • Shade of Aran: You have plenty of time to work with, so as Allison recommended, a few resto pieces to boost your healing can help. I one-shot it with pure feral gear, though, so it’s not required. You’ll want to DPS in bursts…shift out every 10-15 seconds to put up HoTs. Don’t use non-instants while close to Aran, as he’ll Counterspell. When the elementals spawn, go bear.
  • Chess: It may not seem soloable, but it’s really not too bad…I one-shot it last night. Here’s my strat.
  • Prince: Biggest gearcheck. P3 Prince was what I couldn’t get through in Ulduar-level gear…had no problems last night. When he knocks you back, throw a HoT.

Finished happy and excited to try some more stuff…might see how far I get in ZA. :)

Dec 222009
 

(Reason #27 feral druids are OP)

So, Blizzard may have nerfed the ability for all classes to farm for the Hilt from the non-elite Slaves in Pit of Saron…but bears can still farm quite well, and you don’t need uber gear to do it. (Oddly enough, the thought of a bear wearing a straw hat and chewing on a cornstalk just entered my head.)

The Soulguard Watchmen (large skeletons) in Forge of Souls are your ticket to hilt-dom. They only come in packs of two, have a very slow swing speed, and don’t hit overly hard through Savage Defense. Their only “tricks” are a temporary spell-reflect and a 10s on-hit  +10% damage/attack speed stacking buff they can start accumulating at 50% health. This leads to the following pull strats:

  • Safer: Root one on the pull, and start whacking the other. Infected Wounds slows them dramatically, so run away and heal/re-root if you need to (be careful of the reflect). You only want one to be sub-50%, to cut down on the buff accumulation, and if the buff starts getting high (4-5 stacks), just run away for 10s until the buff drops.
  • Faster (need to be reasonably geared): Taking advantage of the Glyph of Maul, just tank and kill them both. Alternate Mangles and Lacerates on the two (or you can just swipe, but that’s boring). Pop Berserk and Barkskin sub-50%; use Survival Instincts/Frenzied Regen as needed. Kite if needed.

Each two-pull should take you 1-2 minutes, depending on strat and gear. (Cat gear works fine…cat spec would be iffy but should be fine with the safer strategy.) Go kitty and stealth to get from pull to pull, just be sure to leave yourself some kite room if you need it. Also, try to avoid the “skull bomb” points, as they can be fatal if you’re running away to heal. Note: Even if you’re not playing an OP class, any tank class can farm the 2 at the start and reset; problem is you can only enter five instances per hour.

There’s 4 two-pulls in the instance, which I can generally clear in about 8-10 minutes. Once you’re done, either stealth back out (slow) or remove your gear and hop off a platform. :) Reset your instance, and repeat as desired. Best guess on Hilt droprate right now is about 0.25% per mob, so 50 runs (5 runs an hour is doable) should be about average for the hilt to drop. (New wowhead data shows the droprate at 0.1%…so figure on a lot more runs.)YMMV. Good luck! :)

Sep 042009
 

Mitigation and Avoidance

Ah, the most familiar leg of the triangle. Mitigation and avoidance, combined with healing (see Part 1), is how you survive long enough to actually take down boss massive HP pools solo, since your healing in feral form isn’t that great. As a bear, you have three main sources of M&A: Armor, Savage Defense, and Dodge.

Assumptions

  • Example Boss hits for 10k damage per attack, and attacks every 2s, giving him 5000 DPS (unmitigated).
  • We have 40k HP, 30k armor, 5000 AP, 42% dodge, and 40% crit.

Armor

Armor (or Damage Reduction) is your most important defensive statistic. Simply put, it reduces the damage from incoming melee attacks, which is typically the largest damage component of most fights. The formula for Armor is Armor*100/[Armor+(467.5*AttackerLevel – 22,167.5)], which can be reduced to [Armor / (Armor + 16,635)] x 100 for boss level mobs (skull = your level +3). Armor also has no diminishing returns…while it appears to (since you need more and more armor for each 1% of DR), each 1% of DR is more valuable than the last. Let’s use an example:

Using the assumptions above, with 0 armor, you die in 8 seconds. With 15k armor, you have 47.4% DR. This reduces EB’s DPS to 2629 and kills you in 15.21 seconds, for a 7.21 sec increase. With 30k armor, you have 64.3% DR, which reduces EB’s DPS to 1784 and kills you in 22.42 seconds, for a 7.21 sec increase. Got it?

Remember: Armor is useless against magical attacks…and bosses that debuff your armor (like Prince Malchezzar) can suck.

Savage Defense

Savage Defense is a very interesting mechanic. Basically, every attack that crits (including bleeds with Primal Gore) will proc SD, which will reduce the next hit by 1/4 of your attack power. Your basic rotation gives you 1.3 times to crit per second (counting melee/Maul, Mangle/Lacerate/Swipe, and Lacerate bleed, not acounting for haste). This means that in general, assuming you can keep up a full DPS rotation, you should have around 75% of hits affected by SD on a single target, and more on multiple targets. (Kalon at Thinktank has done much more extensive theorycrafting on this.) If you have 5k attack power, that means 75% of enemy attacks will be reduced by 1250, after they are already reduced by armor.
Essentially, what this means is that SD is GREAT for low-level stuff, and meh for raid-tanking. Continuing our example above, the boss currently doing 1784 DPS will now do 1315 DPS, which is roughly an extra 25% mitigation. Against something that hits really hard (like Patchwerk, for example, who does like 80k damage per attack), a 1250 damage reduction is a drop in the bucket, and gives you MAYBE 0.5% of additional mitigation.
Also, getting stunned sucks. I’ve actually died to Moroes trash when I got stunned and hit with the 0 armor debuff at the same time…ouch.

Avoidance

Avoidance is pretty simple for druids. Each boss melee attack has a 7.8% chance to miss + your dodge, which is usually slightly above 40%. I won’t do a full-on dodge analysis…just remember that it comes primarily from your agility, plus any extra dodge rating youy have.  Not counting agility procs (Mongoose, DM:G), you can generally expect about 50% avoidance while soloing, and much more on trash (which will have a much higher miss chance). Assuming 50% avoidance neatly reduces EB’s DPS in half, to 657 DPS.

Indestructible Potions

Indestructible Potions are GREAT. They give you an extra 3500 armor, and can be used twice (if you use one pre-pull). Using the stats above, an extra 3500 armor should reduce EB’s DPS to 595, which translates to 7440 HP saved, or twice that with two. A great improvement over a healing potion. They’re not as great for raids, where the threat is typically burst, not sustained damage, but are still very helpful.

Summary

Using the Healing calculation from part 1 (336 HPS), EB only does 321 sustained DPS, which gives you over two minutes to kill the boss. That’s where DPS stats comes into play, in the next installment.

Aug 262009
 

I’m working on a long guide talking about soloing content as a Druid. Basically, I’m trying to model each leg of the “holy trinity.” If we know our DPS and boss HP we can estimate boss TTL (time to live). If we know the bosses’ abilities and our mitigation/avoidance/resistance we can model DTPS (damage taken per second), and with calculating our HPS and max HP, model our TTL (time to live). If  our TTL > boss TTL, we win. Obviously, skill/RNG/lag/whatever will cause deviations from the math…but that’s okay, WoW’s still a game, not a spreadsheet. :) This is not intended to be EJ-level stuff, BTW, this is just me having fun with math and trying to learn a little more about WoW mechanics in the process. In any event, here’s the start of the HPS section.

Assumptions:

  • 40000 hp (not unreasonable solo, with MOTW/stoneblood/food buff/stamina scroll/profession bonii (AND new LW kings drums…woot patch notes)
  • 40% crit
  • Unlimited rage (boss tanking)

Improved Leader of the Pack

Improved Leader of the Pack is your primary self-heal, and is critical for boss soloing.  It is affected by Nurturing Instinct, but only in cat form. I’m not positive, but I’m pretty sure it’s affected by Frenzied Regeneration when glyphed.

  • 60 attacks per minute capable of proccing ILOTP (20 Maul, 40 swipe/lacerate/mangle/FF…sadly, Lacerate bleed crits from Primal Gore do not proc ILOTP, but they do proc Savage Defense.)
  • ILOTP has 6s cooldown; procs on average every 7.5s or 8 attacks per minute. This is probably a bit conservative of an estimate (doesn’t account for haste, math’s a bit rounded) but it’s close enough.
  • Therefore, 40k hp = +1600 HP ILOTP tick * 8 = 12800 hp = 213 HPS. If you assume 1.33 ticks (on average) are buffed by glyphed FR and glyphed SI (see below), that increases to about 220 HPS.

Frenzied Regeneration/Survival Instincts

Frenzied Regeneration is your secondary self-heal, and is key to your tactics. Pretty much, for most bosses, if you can live long enough to Regen twice, you’ve probably won.  Normally, SI by itself is fairly useless when soloing. However, when combined with FR, it makes your FR tick for more (since it uses the new higher HP value for calculating healing done). Occasionally, for dps race type bosses, SI may be better used as a last-ditch spurt of extra time to kill the boss. I’ve calculated the healing done from all the abilities singly, in combination, and with the glyphs: see below.

Abilities Max HP Total Heal (HP3M) HPS
FR 40000 12000 67
FR (Glyphed) 40000 14400 80
FR + SI 52000 15600 87
FR + SI (SI Glyphed) 58000 17400 97
FR + SI (FR Glyphed) 52000 18720 104
FR + SI (Both Glyphed) 58000 20880 116

FR is affected by spell crit, and ILOTP is buffed by the FR glyph, so these numbers are a bit low.

Healing Spells

In theory, every boss should be easy- when you get low, just heal yourself, right? Sadly, there’s a couple big problems. First, your armor turns to tissue paper in caster form. Second, you have no healing talents, and no healing gear (unless you talent Nurturing Instincts). Third, you lose all your rage. No rage = no attacks = no Savage Defense (bad.)

With that in mind, many bosses have pauses where you can safely get a cast off and shift back to bear.  In general, if it’s a pause where you can stay still, Regrowth is your best bet, if it’s a moving pause, Rejuvenation. For a long pause, Tranquility is great.  For example, against Moroes, once you kill the adds, he’s quite easy if you shift out to drop a Regrowth every time he vanishes, which will nicely help counteract the bleed damage. 

Now, if it’s a boss who attacks with primarily magic attacks, then your armor’s useless anyway. In that case, healing spells + NI become a lot more vital.  I haven’t had a chance to try it, but I’d imagine you could macro a swap to a healing weapon to get extra spellpower, Regrowth+Rejuv, and go back to cat (which, if you have NI, buffs HOT’s by 20%).

Other Healing Stuff

Lifeward is a good situational enchant for trash, but doesn’t proc enough on a single target to be worth it on bosses. Blood Draining is good in theory, but the threshold to trigger it is too low for you to make optimum use of it with Frenzied Regeneration. I’d stick with the +agi from Mongoose. Likewise, it’s better to use Indestructible Potions for most fights, rather than health potions. Pot right before the pull then pot during fight gives you almost 4 minutes of extra armor.

Summary

Currently, though, we know that if we have glyphed SI and FR (and there’s not much other choice for bears, really) the boss must break 336 DPS (shown in Recount as DTPS) to overcome our healing ability. If the boss does 436 DPS, for example, then we have a -100 HPS delta, which means we have a TTL of 400 seconds, and must then kill the boss before that…and that’s where DPS stats come into play. Stay tuned for Part 2, where I break down mitigation statistics.