Apr 282012
 

In case you’re not aware, I’ve been squabbling with the majority of the druid blogosphere over the usefulness of Heart of the Wild. While that topic certainly deserves careful consideration, I was struck by one of the arguments I read: that Druids were the only class with a single role-affecting talent choice.

I said, “Well, I can check that.” I flipped through every tier of every class’s talents and attempted to assign each tier to a category. The choices were:

  • On-Role, for a tier that directly boosted a class’s performance of a raid role. (Such as DPS, healing, or tanking.)
  • Off-Role, for a tier that indirectly boosts a raid role or does two raid roles simultaneously.
  • Movement, for a tier that primarily boosts movement abilities.
  • CC, for a tier that primarily adds crowd control abilities.
  • Survival, for a tier that primarily adds abilities designed to keep the class (or group) alive.
Obviously, several of these choices are arguable, especially for the hybrids, and some tiers didn’t cleanly fit into a category. (Shaman Tier 3, Warlock Tier 4, etc.)  That said, here’s the total numbers for what I think (tables inc):
DK Druid Hunter Mage Monk Paladin
On-Role 2 1 3 3 1 2
Off-Role  0 1 0 0 2 1
Movement 1 1  1  1 1 1
CC 1 2 1 1 1 1
Survival 2 1 1 1 1 1
Priest Rogue Shaman Warlock Warrior
On-Role 2 1 2 2 2
Off-Role 1  0 1  0  0
Movement 1 1  0 1 1
CC 1 1 1 1 1
Survival 1 3 2 2 2

So, while the argument wasn’t quite correct, the spirit of it was true; Rogues and Druids aren’t getting a lot of choices that affect their role. We’re the only class that gets 2 CC tiers, while they get an extra…something (depends on how you categorize their Tier 1). I’m convinced on this: I’ll join the chorus that says we should trim down our CC”s, to make room for another tier of role-affecting talents.

My recommendation, as of right now? Cut Mass Entanglement entirely (too similar to Frost Nova or Ursol’s, + we get FN from Symbiosis), make Faerie Swarm a glyph, and return Mighty Bash to being a baseline ability. Boom. Whole new tier to play with.

Finally, I know the level 90 tier still has its problems, and I’ve seen several good proposed fixes. I’m not ready to concede on HotW yet, however. I still think it makes a good talent, or at least a good talent “choice” (though laying out my reasoning would take another column) and I’d like to save it for now. Let’s aim our criticism at the right place. Thoughts?

 Posted by at 10:35 pm
Apr 242012
 

Read the full list at mmo-champion or Wowhead News, I’ve pulled things from both places as they each have stuff the other doesn’t. A lot of things got buffed across the board, so don’t read too much into those; I’m going to focus on the things I see as relevant.

All

  • Heart of the Wild now depends on which specs you’re NOT, instead of which spec you are. (Read the tooltip; much easier to understand now.)
  • Dream of Cenarius  Wrath, Starfire, Starsurge, and melee abilities increase healing done by your next healing spell by 30%. Non-instant casts of Nourish, Healing Touch, and Regrowth increase the damage done by your next damaging spell or ability by 30%. Each of these bonuses lasts 30 sec. and cannot be gained more often than once every 30 sec.
  • Force of Nature  now has a 60 sec cooldown and lasts 15 secs instead of a 3 min cooldown and a 1 min duration.

Oh, the QQ on HoW this is going to be so epic, and so premature. Until we see numbers and can try it for ourselves, we have no idea; all we can say for certain at this point is that Blizzard‘s intent is that you can do what the other three specs do for 45 seconds, once per fight. To me, that’s freaking awesome (Atramedes air phase would have been a lot less boring), but I understand the point of view of those who don’t want to be pressured into doing other stuff just because they have the ability to do it.

DoC is one of those I’d just have to see in practice. If the wording on this is right and you can have 100% uptime on the buff…well, Balance rotations might get shaken up. Having the option to weave in HT’s to buff your nukes? Hmmmmm.

The FON change is good, though; the 180/60 was far too passive. I’m expecting this to be the mini-burst option (compared to Incarnation, which the the big-burst big CD, and SOTF which is passive).

Edit: Lissanna says “I’d still take anything from any of the other talent trees in the game over HOTW and DoC. ”  Like I said, premature QQ.

Guardian

FR scales off of AP? Well, that’ll make stat weights more interesting. Enjoy tracking your current Vengeance stack so you can pop FR when it does the most healing.

Restoration

  • Healing Touch  now has a 1,5 sec cast time, down from 2,5 sec. Base healing value reduced by 33%.

Very very curious as to where they’re going with this. My guess is that this is to make HT more useful for non-resto druids (see the HOTW changes below), but this kinda kills the worth of Regrowth for restos, right? Never mind, datamining error here.

Moonkin

  • Moonfire  direct damage base value has been increased by 20%. DoT base damage has been reduced by 20%. Duration reduced from 18 to 12 sec. Now scales from 24.8% of Spell Power, up from 22.7%.
  • Wrath  now has a 1.5 sec cast time, down from 2 secs. Base damage reduced by 10%. Now scales from 121% of Spell Power, up from 110%.

The assault on moonkin DoT damage continues. The reduced duration is going to dramatically affect DoT uptimes. Wrath…I don’t know where to start. 1.5s cast time? Well, there went the value of haste for moonkin again. I assume that this is also HOTW related. Edit: again, ignore that bit, bad datamine.

Feral

  • Swipe (Cat)  now awards 1 combo points if it strikes your current combo target.
  • Clearcasting   Your damage and healing spells have a small chance to cause you to enter a Clearcasting state. The Clearcasting state reduces the Mana, Rage or Energy cost of your next cast-time Your next cast-time Druid class  damaging or healing spell or offensive feral ability  by 100%. If specialized as a Feral Druid, Omen of Clarity will also have a chance to occur from your auto-attacks. has its mana, rage or energy cost reduced by 100%.

Whoa whoa whoa. THAT makes AoE a ton better. No need to Mangle/Rake something to get a CP to put SR up, and if you’re dealing with a cleave situation, you can keep a single-target rotation rolling and sub Swipes for Shreds. Hopefully it also is affected by Primal Fury. I LIKE it.

Oh, and I hope we didn’t just lose Omen of Clarity. (Edit: No, we didn’t, just a tooltip clarification.)


Apr 242012
 

I spent a few hours playing the TERA open beta over the weekend, and here’s some quick thoughts. (I’ll start doing these every so often, especially when there’s no druid news to talk about.)

Gameplay

The gameplay is quite good. Initially, things are confusing as heck (you start at lvl 20, play a short tutorial, then go to lvl 1…none of which is really explained at all) but the whole action-combat style works well. Very similar to a multiplayer version of Kingdom of Amalur, though like KoA, it really works better for melee classes than ranged classes. Having to move + dodge frequently because you’re right up on enemies = fun; stand and nuke = not as fun.

Questing isn’t any better or worse than any normal MMO…nothing to see here, really, and the storyline is also quite forgettable. Leveling is quite fast, and you do want to level quickly, as the AI of the early mobs is simply terrible (thankfully, they get smarter.) I didn’t try any of the crafting or PvP, so I can’t speak to that, but all the buttons were there.

Remember how I said leveling was fast? Several people were already at level cap, and complaining about how there was nothing to do. (If you preorder the game, one character per server will not be deleted when the open beta closes. Interesting incentive.)

Interface

The UI is good for a MMO game. All the elements can be moved around the screen by default, though I couldn’t immediately see a way to minimize/close them. This annoyed me, as one of the UI elements was showing how my spells were mapped to my controller, even though I was playing with mouse/keyboard. There’s a rudimentary combat log, but no mod support, so good luck with doing any kind of comprehensive analysis. (Yes, WoW has spoiled me on this. The question about whether that’s a good or bad thing is a whole nother’ debate.)

Look and Feel

The big controversial point: it’s pure anime styling. The men all look like Marcus Fenix or Ezio Auditore, while the women are all in stripper gear. There’s even a “race” that looks like pre-pubescent females, complete with available bunny ears and panty shots. Combine this with the marketing campaign (which features a MMA fighter beating up people who play other MMO’s until they switch to Tera) and you can see EXACTLY which demographic this is targeted at. That all said, the world design (monsters, weather, backgrounds) is the best I’ve seen in any game to date, so that’s something.

Overall

Two thoughts. 1) If I was 18 again, I’d probably be all over this game. Now that I’m 28 with a wife and son, this kind of thing just feels tawdry. 2) I don’t know what their goals are, but the target demo + the lack of endgame (which appears to be all PvP) tells me this thing is going to be big for a month or two, then flame out as everyone moves on to the next big thing. Again, a lot like KoA where about 15-20 hours in, you were like “Welp, I’ve seen everything this game has to offer.”

 Posted by at 9:00 am  Tagged with:
Apr 232012
 

My column this week on WoW Insider was about Symbiosis, and how I think it’s being unfairly dismissed far too soon as being “useless.”  Everybody brings up the Dark Intent comparison; I disagree. I think Blizzard‘s learned from that, and it won’t be THAT big a deal…of course, I have no idea what the popular perception will be. What do you think?

(Oh, and I have a full guide to Symbiosis up on the blog here.)

 Posted by at 12:33 pm
Apr 212012
 

I’ve been frustrated with the lack of updates for druids recently, so I decided to roll up some Monks on beta, see if they were worth assuming ‘main alt’ status come Mists release date. Well, I’ve enjoyed them enough that I’ve decided to rip off my own blog layout and start up a new Monk blog called…World of Monkcraft! (I know, I know, great name, right?) I’ve been writing up some Monk spec guides: Windwalker is up, and I’m currently working on Mistweaver. Feel free to pop over and comment/troll/berate as you see fit; the design is terrible, as is my usual standard.

Also, not to worry, I’m still committed to Feral: the thread on the beta forums I started is going on five pages of mostly drama-free constructive criticism, so input’s still flowing in. Just no new builds means no new stuff to talk about. :(

 Posted by at 10:21 pm
Apr 172012
 

(Technical non-WoW stuff. TLDR: new website design.)

I’ve been planning a site redesign for a while, but never got around to doing it. Unfortunately, the WordPress theme I was using was obsolete when I implemented it a couple years ago, which meant every change I’ve made to it has been (poorly) hacked in. I’ve got some big plans for Mists of Pandaria, and the theme I was using wasn’t going to let me implement a lot of what I wanted to do. I’ve been messing around with it on an on-again, off-again basis since January, and I’m finally ready to go into open beta. :) (A big thanks to Samara Dionne for helping with the new logo; now I just need to actually come up with a header that isn’t me scribbling in Photoshop.) I’m still working on several things, so fair warning. Some of the older content is going to look very odd.

Let me tackle the questions upfront.

Ads? WTF, man?

Sorry. I tried going the donate model for a long time, and, while quite a few of you chipped in and donated (which I am very thankful for), it hasn’t nearly covered the site’s costs. Roughly 80% of my traffic is people that come here from Google/Yahoo, read a guide or two, and leave…and that’s who the ads will be for. For the other 20% of you, well,  they’ll block with an adblocker, and I’m working on a method to not show them to loyal viewers. Of course, you could click them if you like. :)

I liked the old theme! Can I change back?

I liked it too, but that code did so much noncompliant stuff it wasn’t funny.

Are you still writing about feral stuffs?

Yes, the *blog* will still be mostly feral info, though a lot of my long-form columns will still likely end up over on WoW Insider. The *site*, however, will have a set of guides for all four specs, at the beginner-to-intermediate level. By FAR, that’s the biggest request I’ve gotten. I’ll start putting those up as the mechanics in the Mists beta solidify a bit.

Sidenote: Looking for good druid blogs to link to, as always. Especially feral ones.

How can I be awesome like you?

Write your own FAQ’s where you make up the questions. :P

Apr 152012
 

As promised, I’ve posted my full thoughts on feral in the beta on the WoW forums here (http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/4427707211). I encourage you to go read and discuss there; perhaps we can encourage some feedback. (Or perhaps it’ll get deleted like the last long feral thread did. Dunno.) A revised version of that post will also go live on WoW Insider later today, so hopefully there will be a bit of traffic.

Apr 102012
 

I need to take the time to flesh this into a full post, but here’s a quick outline as to what I’m seeing so far.

Like:
-Wild Charge and Ursol’s Vortex are both great and fun to use, though probably OP.
-Healing/Ranged spells are much more effective, though mana-limited. Tossing a few Wraths or Healing Touches as feral is cool.
-The glyph redesign nails the design intent (fun, not mandatory) very well (though the Glyph of Cat Form with its +20% healing received is too strong as-is).

Maybe:
-Now that there’s an ability that can remove bleeds (Monk Detox), Rip needs some form of dispel protection; ideally, an ability that scales in effectiveness based on the number of CP’s Rip was applied with. I’m not a PvP’er at all, so I have no idea if this would work or not, but I like the idea of 1-2 ticks of damage being instantly applied if it’s dispelled. For that matter, Savage Roar needs something similar, I’ve made this point before, but having an expensive effect removed by a less expensive effect sucks. Now, if dispels end up being very expensive, that’s a different story.
-With Disentanglement and Wild Charge, our uptime (PvP) will be significantly increased, which means our burst damage will go down quite a bit. Depending on how strong/expensive healing is in Mists, that could either be good or bad.

Dislike:
-Reversion of SR from 70% white damage to 30% all damage, making it much more important + significantly decreased crit chance + no free Ravages = more difficult rotation. FB mostly eliminated from rotation except during Berserk. It won’t be as bad as it was in WOTLK (no Mangle debuff to keep up, Rake 15sec baseline) but it subverts Cataclysm’s design intent of “make the feral rotation less punishing.”
-The above + generally increased white damage overall means a much greater DPS penalty from pausing your rotation as damage profiles will shift away from DoTs.So, why brez/clone/do all that other fun hybrid stuff we’re encouraging druids to do? Let’s not even talk about how fun target changes are going to be (though Symbiosis-ing with a rogue/lock might counteract that to a degree).

Apr 072012
 

FAQ:

  • Melee hit/exp cap for level 90 Mists of Pandaria characters is 2550 (7.5%) for raid/level 93 bosses, 2040 (6%) for 5-man heroic/level 92 bosses. The PvP hit/exp cap is 3%, or 1020.
  • Dual wield hit cap for level 90 Mists of Pandaria characters is 9180(27%) for raid/level 93 bosses, 8500. (25%) for 5-man heroic/level 92 bosses.
  • Spell hit cap for level 90 Mists of Pandaria characters is 5100 (15%) for raid/level 93 bosses, 4080 (12%) for 5-man heroic/level 92 bosses.
  • Racials: Draenei get a free 1% hit for all weapons. Certain races get a free 1% expertise for certain weapons.
  • The whole odd Expertise/Expertise Rating thing is gone, it works just like Hit now.
  • Pets fully inherit your hit/exp ratings and combine them to get their ratings. This means if you have 15% hit and 0% exp (warlocks), a melee pet will still be hit/exp capped.

EDIT: Since this is apparently a popular search result page, I’ve gone back and updated this table with the correct numbers for Level 90; in early beta, all the combat ratings were higher, but were reduced by about 15% across the board.

Remember, these stats are before diminishing returns: See Theck if you want more DR math than your head can handle. The general TLDR idea fir tanks is stack avoidance stats for best overall survivability but more RNG; stack offensive stats for more control over your active mitigation but slightly more total damage taken.

85 (1% Gain) 90 (1% Gain) Stat
265.08 885 Dodge
265.08 885 Parry
88.36 295 Block
102.45 340 Hit/Spell Hit
102.45 340 Expertise
128.06 425 Haste
179.28 600 Crit
179.28 600 Mastery (but varies for some specs)
322.58 1259.52 Agility needed for 1% crit
648.91 2533.66 Intellect needed for 1% crit
243.58 951.15 Agility needed for 1% dodge (druids/monks), Strength needed for 1% parry (paladin/warrior/DK)
95.22 310 PvP Resilience
N/A 265 PvP Power (note: PvPP is half as effective for heals, so 530 for +1% healing done)
  • Boss armor at 93: 24835

If I’m incorrect/missing something, let me know.

 Posted by at 4:32 pm
Mar 242012
 

Even though leveling isn’t really in the beta yet, several people have combed through the datamined info and created a rough idea of what Symbiosis currently looks like. Thanks to Mihir, Ristaccia, and Starfyre for the original work. I’ve got some more detailed analysis coming in this Sunday’s column on WoW Insider, but suffice it to say that you’re going to have to pick between what’s best for you vs. what’s best for your raid.

Granted Abilities

Death Knight
Blood – Survival Instincts
Frost / Unholy – Wild Mushroom: Plague

Hunter
Dash

Mage
Healing Touch

Monk
Brewmaster – Growl
Windwalker – Berserk
Mistwalker – Entangling Roots

Paladin
Holy – Rebirth
Retribution – Tiger’s Fury
Protection – Might of Ursoc

Priest
Discipline / Holy – Tranquility
Shadow – Cyclone

Rogue
Barkskin

Shaman
Elemental / Enhancement – Solar Beam
Resto – Prowl

Warlock
Rejuvenation

Warrior
Arms / Fury – Enrage
Protection – Frenzied Regeneration

Gained Abilities

Balance
Death Knight – Chains of Ice
Hunter – Misdirection
Mage – Mirror Image
Monk – to be announced
Paladin – Hammer of Justice
Priest – Mass Dispel
Rogue – Smoke Bomb
Shaman – Purge
Warlock – Soulshatter
Warrior – Recklessness

Feral
Death Knight – Unholy Frenzy
Hunter – Play Dead
Mage – Frost Nova
Monk – to be announced
Paladin – Divine Shield
Priest – Dispersion
Rogue – Redirect
Shaman – Feral Spirit
Warlock – Soul Swap
Warrior – Shattering Blow

Guardian
Death Knight – Icebound Fortitude
Hunter – Ice Trap
Mage – Mage Ward
Monk – to be announced
Paladin – Consecration
Priest – Fear Ward
Rogue – Evasion
Shaman – Lightning Shield
Warlock – Twilight Ward
Warrior – Spell Reflection

Resto
Death Knight – Anti-Magic Shell
Hunter – Deterrence
Mage – Ice Block
Monk – to be announced
Paladin – Hand of Sacrifice
Priest – Leap of Faith
Rogue – Cloak of Shadows
Shaman – Spiritwalker’s Grace
Warlock – Demonic Circle: Teleport
Warrior – Intimidating Roar