Apr 062011
 

Hey guys I know it’s been awhile but I promise you in my absence I have not been neglecting the blue announcements. This night I’d like to shift focus and look into the other side of the feral tree our brothers in fur, da bears! I’ve been a full time bear for a few weeks as one of our guilds MT’s had to step away from the game. For those of you who have to tank some, or all fights this post will be more directed for you.

4.1 has been pretty neglectful in the cat dps side of things so far, while there’s still hope for an announcement there has been some interesting things I’ve noticed thus far for our bear brethren.

First comes to very large assortment of bear damage increases coped with of course the change to savage defense we’ve been discussing on the forums

  • Savage Defense has been redesigned slightly. Instead of a single charge absorption, it now places an absorption effect on the druid absorbing up to 35% of the druid’s attack power (modified by mastery, if applicable) in damage and lasting 10 seconds. There are no longer any charges on the effect.
  • Swipe (Bear) cooldown has been reduced to 3 seconds, down from 6, and is now trainable at level 18 (training cost has been reduced). In addition, the bonus threat from this ability has been removed and replaced with increased damage done.
  • Thrash bonus threat has been removed and replaced with increased damage done.

Let’s break this down into 2 topics. First the removal of the added threat and increase to damage done. Most of you remember the nerf to Mangle damage bears went through not so long ago. This nerf was largely due to the fact that we were destroying the other tanks on the damage meters. While Swipe isn’t in a single target tanking rotation, Thrash most certainly is. The change is nice and should, if done correctly, scale a lot better then the threat modifier in higher gear levels; however, I highly see this being a change that gets reverted once we see how this effects our damage output in a raid setting.

As for Savage Defense, the change is exactly what we needed. However, there’s been some ptr reports on it being pretty buggy. Blizzard tried to explain that tracking the shields with 3rd party addons like recount can cause misleading information in the combat logs:

  • There are two issues here.

    One is that the combat log is saying “refresh” in a confusing way when it’s really just applying damage to the shield (i.e. a new shield has not been created). We’re looking at some ways that might be fixed.

    The second issue has to do with our combat log (or third party logs) apparently disagreeing about what happened. Remember, our combat calculations are done on the realm side and then reported to the client, but the client only gets those reports periodically. The message has to travel a potentially long distance between your client and our realms. It’s important that the calculations are done realm-side though, to maintain gameplay integrity.

    Because of the latency inherent in client – realm communication, it can appear that a hit lands before the shield procs, yet still applies to the shield, leading to the mistaken impression that the proc isn’t occurring properly. In reality, the server is (probably) performing the steps correctly, but the client sometimes lags behind. For example, there’s a case where what actually happened is this sequence: 1) shield proc, 2) hit, 3) absorb, but the client is slightly behind and instead (incorrectly) shows 1) hit, 2) shield proc, 3) absorb in the combat log. Or it could appear that you lost shield points without actually taking less damage, when in reality either the shield or your health pool weren’t affected. Or it could appear that if you take multiple hits nearly simultaneously that the shield did nothing to the later hits, but in reality the shield was gone on the first hit and your client just hasn’t been notified of that fact yet. We will investigate this issue just to make sure, but we’re pretty confident that Savage Defense and Blood Shield are working correctly and are just sometimes getting misreported. With Savage Defense lasting longer in 4.1, you may see this kind of thing more often.

    The takeaway is that latency can in some cases cause combat log display issues like the one we’re seeing here. We understand that a lot of you use the combat log as a reporting tool to analyze a fight after the fight has concluded. The combat log as currently implemented is supposed to give you a data feed in real time. We’d like to redesign the combat log to fill that post-combat analysis role better (as Ghostcrawler alluded to in a recent Q&A) but that is a Very Big Task. Just delaying the current combat log so that it was in 100% parity with the server could cause serious issues with third party mods among other things, so we have to be careful not to turn a single screw and end up dismantling the whole machine, so to speak. Despite its limitations, it remains an accurate and useful tool in the vast majority of circumstances.

The change overall sounds awesome and sound help in a lot of aoe situations, but I think Felhoof on our forums said it best:

  • It actually helps a lot less than you think depending on how they implement it. Right now the problem isn’t dinky hits vs super big hits – it’s super big hits vs mostly big hits.

    Heroic mobs can hit for upwards of 10-20k depending. SD currently gets wasted on the 10k, but not as much as you’d think – close to 5-10k is wasted. That’ll help, but if that 10k gets refreshed by another crit (which is almost certainly going to happen with swipe) you’re not gaining anything if you wouldn’t have gotten hit in that time.

    Now if they allow SD to stack in damage absorption that would solve both issues and make the only problem that it doesn’t actually scale with incoming damage. Still, it would go a long, long way towards fixing most of the issues with SD and making it significantly stronger for bears.

I know a lot of tanking deathknights who in times of offtanking would simple deathstrike every 5 secs to roll a rather large shield on themselves. When they needed to finally taunt they’d have that up. Savage defense is powerful but a 50% chance on crit will always be 50% chance on crit no matter how you look at it. Until there’s away to get the absorb effect to stack on savage defense my suggestion is to remain placing shield tanks on add/multi-mob tanking duty.

As always let me know what you think, I know a bear article isn’t the norm here; however, I do get pm’s on the forums asking me how I handle tanking situations so I’m sure some, if not most, of the readers will appreciate. Feel free to post here or even better get topics up on the forums for discussion, if you have a very well thought out post like Felhoof I’ll be sure to include it in front page material.

Until Next Time

-Qbear

 Posted by at 9:31 pm
Mar 292011
 

The cat threads across the various forums are littered with people asking questions about what gems and enchants should be used, and how to reforge. The advice is varied and in many cases out of date as people have not fully embraced the changes that 4.06 made. The following three rules are all you need. If you spend more time thinking about gemming, enchanting and reforging than the amount of time it takes to read this post, you are spending your time on the wrong subject. You would be better suiting thinking about your rotation and the various boss encounters your guild is working on if you want to make significant improvements to your dps.

1. Always gem for agility. Agility is generally worth about three times the stat value of any of the secondary stats. Unless a socket bonus is worth 14+ agility for a single gem socket, ignore it. In the current content there are only a few items in the game where it is worthwhile to get the socket bonus (helms, tier chest, Sinestra belt). Everything else should be gemmed with agility (delicate). As it happens, in all three cases where it is worth getting the socket bonus, the socket color is blue – so you will be using agility/hit gems for the blue sockets in those items (glinting).

2. Use the known BiS enchants. The BiS enchants are well understood. Agility/haste for the helm; agility/mastery for the shoulders; agility for the back*, bracers, weapon and boots; stats for the chest; Attack power/crit for the legs; strength for the gloves. Don’t use any other enchants. * 65 crit is a viable alternative for the back.

3. Get mastery on every item. Mastery continues to be the best of the secondary stats and is generally worth about 20% more than the other secondary stats. If an item does not have mastery on it, reforge the highest available secondary stat to mastery. Per my post 4.06 – the Homogenization of Secondary Stats the difference in relative values of all of the secondary stats other than mastery are pretty close and varying them will have minimal impact on your dps. Once you have mastery on every item, then you can reforge selectively as needed (hit until 4.1 for interrupts) or desired (for example some people like to reforge to expertise on Al’akir). In general having haste and crit balanced provides good results, although some people prefer to reforge to hit/expertise in order to have a more stable rotation and consistent results on fights with target switching.

Mar 242011
 

(snarky reference to reuse of tired insert title title)

Anyway, now that’s that out of the way, a few notes:

  • First off,  I want to thank my guest authors for their work so far. I’ve seen links from other blogs for posts that all three have written; one site went so far to call it “Qbear’s Fluid Druid blog.” Heh. :)
  • I’ve added a section on the forum for UI/addon issues (since the kitty DPS forum was getting cluttered with non-DPS posts.) We may move a few threads around, so just a FYI. If you’d like to see another forum, let me know.
  • I’ll be driving to Texas on Monday, and I’m still heading for the desert in 4-6 weeks. My name’s not really a secret anymore (thanks, WoW Insider!) so if anybody would like to keep up with me personally via FB, I’m here (just make sure you indicate that you found me from the website, I usually reject random friend requests). I’ll make every effort to respond to emails/PMs/comments about the site while deployed, but no guarantees.
  • I also created a FB page for the blog here, not that I intend to do anything with it. Like it if you want, I guess.
 Posted by at 1:56 pm  Tagged with:
Mar 232011
 

In response to some discussions we have been having on the Fluid Druid forums, I decided to revisit the relative values of the trinkets, Unheeded Warning, Fluid Death, and the 372 Essence of Cyclone. As I have all three of these, the stat values I am modeling with are actual values taken from my toon. In preparation for this, I reforged to a balanced haste/crit setup. I did the testing against the same four scenarios I used in my previous post about the homogenization of secondary stats. As a reminder, here are the four combat scenarios:

  1. A 5 minute patchwork style fight (“Patch”)
  2. A 5 minute patchwork style fight with in combat Ravages with no travel time (“Ravage 0″)
  3. A 5 minute patchwork style fight with in combat Ravages with 2 second travel times (“Ravage 2″)
  4. A 7 minute fight that alternates 90 seconds of combat with 30 seconds of downtime which is similar to the air phases on Atramedes (“90/30″)

All tests used the Glyphs of Rip and Shred, and I did full runs with the third glyph being either TF or Berserk.

My test results were not surprising, but it is useful to see consistency across a set of combat scenarios rather than just looking at the trinkets in a patchwork style fight. The combination of Unheeded Warning and Essence of Cyclone continue to test out better than combining either of them with Fluid Death. If you look at the test data you will see a 50-100dps difference depending on the combat scenario. One thing worth taking away from this post (other than the best combination of trinkets) is that there is no single BiS trinket. If you combine either Unheeded Warning or Essence of Cyclone with Fluid Death in some of the tests the combination with Essence of Cyclone is better and in other tests, the combination with Unheeded Warning is better.

FD+UH FD+EoC UH+EoC
Weapon DPS 703.5 703.5 703.5
Str 142 142 142
Agi 4697 4739 5060
AP 887 887 887
Haste 1165 1165 1165
Hit 459 459 266
Crit 1102 1102 1102
Exp 188 188 188
Mastery 2010 2010 1882
TF Patch 23479 23509 23603
TF Ravage 0 24707 24665 24831
TF Ravage 2 24051 24047 24172
TF 90/30 21092 21109 21154
Berserk Patch 23443 23465 23538
Berserk Ravage 0 24497 24459 24607
Berserk Ravage 2 23903 23910 24004
Berserk 90/30 20953 20966 21007
Mar 212011
 

As we’ve discussed before, my guild is currently 10/13 in the heroic version of T11 content. It has been quite the grind. However, last week as we went to kill all the bosses we’ve had on farm for quite sometime we couldn’t help but notice how much easier all of the bosses seemed to be going down. I’d love to think it’s because everyone was on their A-game, but in all actuality the content was just made easier for raiding community out there. For all those who haven’t been strolling around such sites as MMO-Champion or the official WoW website Ghostcrawler felt so passionately about the changes he addressed them directly in his latest blog post entitled “Raid Progress.” The whole thing was a decent read; however, I loved his main argument which was:

  • I chose to use the word “progress” in the title for this blog quite intentionally. We think progression is the key to players having fun. When groups stop making progress, the members get frustrated. When individuals feel like they are stuck, that’s when they start to lose interest. I don’t think it strictly has to do with the flow of loot being shut off. A big part of it is the sense that as you climb up that mountain, you are getting closer and closer to the summit instead of just sliding back down to base camp at the end of each day.

It really shows Blizzard is looking at their player base. While the top end raiding guilds were able to have the progression race with the glory of knowing they did it when it was hard, now more casual players can experience content at the end level as well. However, for our less progressed readers it is important to realize that though the encounters are nerfed, they are by no means a cake walk. Now more so then ever proper raid preparation will really set apart the guilds who go far verses the ones that sort of fizzle for awhile just to end up not getting much done. A common question I receive is exactly where would one go to get advance knowledge of fight encounters? Well up until a very short time ago I would of told you the same thing everyone else would of, “Well tankspot of course!”  That is no longer the case and I can say with pride that there is no better place to get your strats and first looks at encounters then LearntoRaid.com more commonly known as L2R.
Recently I had the privilege of going through a very quick back and forth with vodka officer and rogue, Killars. While Killars is a co-founder of the web community L2R he wants to stress before we get into everything that while vodka encounter videos are used in the strategy discussion that happens on L2R, L2R is a project maintained by both Killars and Kinaesthesia, a vodka healing priest. The guild itself has no direct connection to L2R and questions on strat videos or anything on L2R’s website should be directed to the website’s forums and not vodka’s guild forums(A mistake I made when I first went to find someone to speak with from L2R’s admin). Now with that out of the way we can get into the meat of what Killars and I had discussed about his project, L2R:

  • Q: vodka has become synonymous with top end raiding, when did you decide you wanted to take that knowledge and feed it back to the raiding community?
  • Killars: When I first joined vodka I had always been impressed by their quality of video in terms of editing and music which I later learned was mostly due to Kinaesthesia’s brilliant work and vision. After some time of realizing Kinaesthesia deserved more support and more of an opportunity to show his editing skills we got together with one of my friends “Blackquantex” and began brainstorming an idea of how to go about making something of it all. We felt the WoW community severely lacked a source for high quality videos and that we could build a website around Kinaesthesia’s vision, my dedication, and our friends website skills etc. to fill that void. We knew it would be a lot of work, a lot of which is still on going, but we’re dedicated to providing the best content and we hope to really build the site to being the #1 source for video tutorials and more.

I personally have grown up as a raider watching Kinaesthesia’s videos, for anyone who hasn’t gotten the chance to watch one I highly suggest going to L2R or on you tube looking up vodkaguild. When I learned he would be applying the same editing techniques he uses in his kill videos to the strat videos I knew right away L2R was going to be a quality source of material to help younger progression raiders out.

  • Q: Most people relate L2R with Tankspot, how do you feel about this comparison?
  • Killars: I’d be lying if I didn’t say we don’t look at Tankspot as our competition. They are doing almost exactly what we would like to do, but we intend to do it better. Every great idea has to start somewhere and they’ve done a great job so far with Tankspot. As for the comparison of our site compared to theirs I don’t really think I have a fair answer to that. I obviously have bias opinions of my own and from L2R supporters, but I don’t know what the overall consensus is, I’d hope it was in L2R’s favor though =P

Back in Wrath if you researched a fight you had to of heard of Tankspot, they were everywhere. However, in cata the frequency of the videos has gone down quite a bit. There’s still the need for knowledge on raid encounters, why not trust vodka members to teach you the methods they used to achieve their status in the raiding community.

 

  • Q: As I’m sure you’re aware there has been a recent blanket of nerfs hitting most of the heroic versions of T11 Boss encounters. How do you feel about these nerfs in regards to other guilds now being able to push further in their progression efforts, when they’re killing a version of the boss that’s easier then the one you had to go against.
  • Killars: A lot of these fights felt unfinished and in some cases over-tuned. I just recently had a chat about this with a friend from Paragon about Atremedes in regards to what the hell the devs were thinking when they released that boss nearly unchanged from BETA. There have been many many changes to these encounters since we first progressed on them, far too much to talk about in detail. If I had to make a blanket statement I’d say I felt most of the nerfs were well timed and semi-necessary. Simply put, the majority of players cannot kill bosses I guess they should be nerfed after a period of time. WoW isn’t built for just the super hardcore player base so I’m perfectly fine with nerfing content well after the progression race has ended so a larger base of players can see the content.

Killars said it best, “Simply put, the majority of players cannot kill bosses I guess they should be nerfed after a period of time.” I love end game raiding and my guild does very well, but I still remember looking in trade chat for a Karazhan pug in hopes of getting some kind of gear just so I could have the hopes of entering SSC or TK. The fights we’re rough back then and they relatively stayed that way. Now Blizzard realized they don’t just want 5% of the player base seeing all content and they’re doing something about it. You can’t really complain about that.

 

  • Q: So which boss in this content patch did you find most enjoyable progression wise?
  • Killars: Tricky question! V&T I liked a lot personally as I developed a strategy to use a Subtlety spec for the fight where the 3 Rogues we had at the time played a vital part in killing the boss without having to be responsible for interrupting something (FINALLY!!!). I have to also note Cho’gall as it was a very well tuned boss that led to a very exciting kill.

As you can see readers even our brothers in energy bar, rogues. Think its ridiculous that there’s kick duty on pretty much all these fights!

 

  • Q: Any quick tips you could offer the fluiddruid readers in regardes to preparing for their heroic mode progression?
  • Killars: Well obviously the best tip of all is to go over to Learntoraid.com and watch our amazing videos! Hahaha other than that I’d say everyone needs to have far more discipline when raiding new content. Raiding in Cataclysm has been about avoiding damage taken and executing fight mechanics correctly more so than ever before. Learn all the fight mechanics, master them, then you can begin to pile on the copious amounts of pewpew that you’re dying to unleash. As I often half jokingly say “I guarantee that if everyone stays alive for 10 minutes the boss will be dead”.

You heard the man, get to learntoraid.com and start seeing what you’ll need to prepare yourself now that the first wave of “nerfs” are done with heroic content. Any half way serious raider will tell you that the fight begins long before you first pull the boss. The very first step is educating yourself about the encounter ahead of you. This post was important to me not only did I want to take the time to show you we have an awesome community here to help everyone learn and adjust to the changes within our spec and class, but also we need to help one another to get the most out of this game from a PvE standpoint. I can make forum threads and blog posts about encounters from a feral standpoint, but when it comes to the 25 or 10 people in your raiding coming together to get that boss kill I really suggest you take the time to see what Killars has done for us on L2R. As always if you have any questions feel free to leave a comment or pm me on the forums and lets all take a moment to give a big thank you to Killars, for taking the time to discuss this other web-community with all of us, I know you got a lot on your plate and it was an honor getting to discuss L2R with you.

Until next time

-Qbear

 Posted by at 1:00 am
Mar 192011
 

                Welcome back Cats and Kittens!  We have taken time lately discussing different things to help make us better cats.  Mainly these discussions have covered free tools available to you like Mew.    Now let’s talk about a basic tool that everyone paid for already, but may not be using correctly-the WoW UI.  Ask any raider and they will tell you how important your UI is.  You must track cooldowns, DOT timers, procs and more with accuracy.  Most importantly, you must do this efficiently.  Your camera is centered on you.  Your attention will mainly be focused on yourself in relation to the boss.  Things can happen so fast during a boss fight you need to be able to concentrate the information available to you.  But at the same time this information can not take your attention away from the fight.  Many new raiders make the mistake of “overloading” their UI with so much information that it takes away from what you can do.  As smart as you are (or might think you are) the human brain can only take in so much information at a time and efficiently process that information.  So let’s get into it shall we?

  • Focus Area:

        The first thing we should define is your “Focus Area”.  The Focus Area is where your eyes should spend the majority of the fight.  This is represented by the green oval in the illustration below.  This is where your toon is and, by default, where the boss is.  Great raiders take in the whole screen but concentrate their efforts on this green area.  When building your UI this is where the, “I have to know this right now” stuff is placed.  When placing these things, be sure not to cover up anything you need to see.  Out a section from there (represented by orange) is your next area of focus.  Here we will place important information that is easily accessible but doesn’t need to be in my face the whole time.  Finally we have the red area.  Whatever you place here will take your eyes away from the fight and thus away from a potentially game changing occurrence.  Information placed in this area is not typically needed during a fight but is usually what you need to know before the fight starts.

Focus Area

  • DOT Timers:

        The core of a feral’s DPS comes from applying DOTs on the target.  Optimal DPS comes when you refresh these DOTs at the right times and maximize your energy usage.  Therefore, it is vital for us to track DOTs on the boss.  My personal favorite is Class Timer.  Many great ferals use DroodFocus.  They both work fine IMO.  The important thing is to get a visible DOT timer.  As you can see in the picture below it provides nice timers to the debuffs and DOTs I have currently placed on the boss.  The importance of this is to know how long before I need to reapply a DOT.  This needs to be in the green area.

DOT timer

Some argue that all my bars are the same size and will burn down at different speeds.  That is why I configured it so that the 1st thing that will end is always on top.

  • Personal Buffs:

        It is also vital to track your personal buffs, but not all buffs are vital the entire fight.  Things you’re your food buff and MotW do not need to be front and center.  With 1 hour durations they just need to be somewhere you can see them before a fight starts.  The ones that need to be tracked constantly are things like trinket procs, Omen of Clarity, 4pT11 and such. 

        For the stuff that “lasts” a long time I use the standard blizz buffs frame.  Many use an addon to track these things by the second, but I choose not to.  Part of the reason for this is that I looked at this frame for so long in my early days, I can now just glance at it and tell every totem I am getting and such.  This should be in the Red area.

Long Buffs

For MY personal on-use procs I use Class Timer.  This works well for seeing how long Berserk has left or TF and SR.  It is also nice to track your T11 4 piece bonus.

bufftimer

For trinket procs, I use Ovale with Leafkiller’s Script.  It is fast to set up and Leaf did all the work for you.  Thanks, Leaf.

Trinket Timer

It is also important to have a combo point counter near the action.  Your combo points are make or break to your DPS.  You can’t take time to search for your combo points to know if you can Rip or not.  It needs to be right there in your focus in the green area.

Combo Points

  • Boss Timers:

        I don’t care what people say.  You have to run boss timers.  If you feel you don’t need them I can guarantee someone in your raid does and you can help by calling out abilities.  People point out that world-first guilds don’t use them since they aren’t updated yet.  This is true, but are you in a world-first guild?  I am not and 99% of WoW players aren’t either. 

        DBM works great.  You can use Big Wigs instead, but I use DBM.  Now that you have the mod,  it needs to be set up.  Don’t put everything to the side (Red).  But don’t put everything in the middle (Green).  That takes your focus away from the action or covers it up.  My preference is to have the timers start on the side and have them move into the center top at 5 seconds left.  This gets the big bars out of your way for a majority of the time until it is actually time to react.  So the first picture below is the center right side of my screen which is the red area.  I can see these bars if needed and they aren’t covering any action going on.

DBM Small

At 5 seconds remaining the bars will move to the center top of my screen, or the orange area, and get bigger.  This lets me know that NOW is the time for a special and I need to do something or be prepared to react.

DBM Big

  • Raid Frames:

        Raids frames are needed even for DPS.  It is important to see the state of the raid.  This doesn’t need to be in your primary field of view but it does need to be on your screen.  With 4.1 allowing you to click raid frames to do BR it makes them even more important. 

        I use Grid myself.  I can set it up to track whatever I want on my raid members and it is small and clean.  In fights where I would have to tank swap I used to just focus the other tank and watch his debuff counter.  This worked 9 out of 10 times until we started working on Heroic Halfus.  I had to tank a drake while watching the Halfus tank’s debuffs and interrupt Halfus.  I was using a focus macro to interrupt Halfus before, but that would no longer work since I was focusing the Halfus tank.  I adjusted grid to show only the debuff on the tank.  This allowed me to focus Halfus for interrupts while watching the tanks stacks.  In many videos you see on you-tube the raid frames of the filmer are right in the middle of the screen.  These videos are usually shot by a healer and seeing the entire raids health is a focus for them.  The same is not true for us.  Your raid frames will do the job needed sitting up in the red area.

Grid

  • Threat Meter:

        While feral cats might be sinking down the DPS charts we are still freaky high on the threat charts.  You need to know where you are on threat.  Don’t screw up a tank rotation by pulling the boss off and making the tank have to taunt at an inopportune time.  Also, on a fight like Chimaeron, in the final phase he just runs down the list 1-shotting people.  You need to be ready if you are next.  Omen is the best threat meter I have seen.  It has been around for a long time and it simply just works.  This is not really something that needs to be in your focus area.  I keep mine in the red area because you can set a screen flash and audio tone to warn you when your threat is getting too high.

Omen

  • Buttons/hotkeys:

        We, as ferals, can have our hands full at times.  It is important to hotkey your buttons.  You can also use mouse-over macros and such.  I personally use Bartender and the WoW Cataclysm mouse.  This allows me to hit what I want when I want.  Once you set up your hot keys you must practice and memorize them.  You don’t have time to search for an ability in the middle of a fight.  In the picture below, you might notice some odd groupings.  That is simply due to most, if not all, of my stuff being on my mouse, so I don’t really care where it is on the bottom 3 rows.  Since you have hot-keyed your abilities, memorized them and practiced with them it is not advisable to put them in the green area.  Orange will do just fine.

Bartender

  • Optional:

        If you are new to the cat or are still working out your rotation, I highly recommend using Ovale with Leafkiller’s script.  It is a next move indicator that will really help you.  Spend time on a dummy with it and learn why it is suggesting a move.  Don’t just pound out what it says.   If you do decide to use it, it should be in your green area as you will need to keep a close eye on it the entire fight.

Ovale

  • Damage meters:

        I am honestly up in the air on this one.  You need to know what you are doing and Recount will help.  It is nice after a fight to be able to go back and quickly see your rotation in graph form and see what you are doing wrong or right. However, DO NOT stare at this during a fight.  DO NOT worry about where you are on the meter during a fight.  That is a selfish thing to do and it is to the detriment of your raid.  Do not take your focus away from the fight at hand. Keep this in the red area.

Recount

  • Scrolling Text:

        I like to use Parrot because during the times I am tanking I want to see what heals are coming in.  I also like to see what damage I am putting out per ability during testing.  It is also good to see incoming damage. This should be in the orange area.

Scrolling Txt

  • The Final:

        Now we need to put all this together.  Your focus should be the middle of your screen.  That is where your cat is so that is where your eyes need to be.  Highly important information needs to be close to this area but not covering.  The less important info can be spread out from there.  Now, before I show you my UI you need to understand I have some OCD issues with things being symmetrical :)  I included Ovale with Leaf’s script in this shot.

SS

        My main focus is me.  I am always right in the middle of the screen so this is where my eyes are looking.  There I have the most important information that I need to know immediately.  My health, my energy, my Combo Points, my target, my target’s target (tank hopefully), boss’s health, dots, and procs.  Spread out from here is information I would like to have access to on a less frequent basis.  This includes incoming heals, incoming damage, outgoing damage, outgoing heals, final seconds of boss timers and raid warnings.  Just above the boss’s head is where my DBM timers are when an ability gets to 5 seconds.  The rest of the information is spread out along the edges to help not obstruct my view.

        I realize I did not go over every add-on I have.  This is intentional as I am trying to show the basic setup, not show you my cool looking map in the corner.

        Is this the best UI ever?  No, but it gets the job done.  There are a couple things I could strip off to clear space but I have been using this for sometime now and would just feel naked without it.  The important thing is to remember your Focus Area and how to work around and within it.

       As always be sure to subscribe to the RSS feed and use the forums.  Are you on Twitter?  I am, follow me @Sylvaneart.  Feel free to PM me with any questions you might have, but the forums on this site are your best bet. This will help to answer one question one time instead of one question multiple times. This site is a posting spot for many great cats. If you are the noob with a noob question and are a little embarrassed then a PM will do fine. I will never ridicule you.

Sylvaneart

Mar 182011
 

Greetings to the feral community. I am going to keep my intro to a bear minimum (pun intended). I started playing WoW about 3 weeks after the game was released. My first level 60 was a rogue with about 40 days played. My second level 60 was a feral druid with over 378 days played, otherwise known as “Leafkiller.” Let’s just say I liked playing the druid more. Currently I maintain an Ovale script that is posted in the cat forums of The Fluid Druid and can be found here. My script is based on the work of many ferals over the years dating back to the early move suggesters such as FBN. In keeping with the tradition that was set by nightcrowler, my script has been tuned by using a cat DPS simulator (I use Mew). If you want more background on Mew, read the Mew N’ You post by Qbear.

For better or worse, my posts will generally be focused on answering questions through simulation testing and will be a bit on the dry side. It is in my nature to prefer hard data to opinions. Many times on the forums I see people post answers that lack a numerical foundation and more often then not, the answers are incomplete, wrong or in some cases about something that is trivial and not worth discussing.

A question I see asked a lot is what secondary stats people should reforge to. Before 4.06 the question was pretty easy to answer – mastery was significantly ahead of the rest of the secondary stats and for most people crit was the clear second choice. 4.06 changed that by making our DoTs weaker and Shred/Mangle stronger. Mastery has come down in value while stats such as Hit and Expertise have come up in value. Back in October, when 4.0 first came out, I posted on EJB about dropping hit and expertise from my gearing and seeing a dps increase of over 500 (this was at level 80). The ensuing discussion was pretty lively, and (to me) culminated in a post from tangedyn which he concluded with the following statement:

It’s time we drop the notion that it is necessary to cap hit and exp. The game has changed, and we either adapt or fall back in the damage meters.

With the changes in 4.06 bringing the secondary stats closer in value to one another, I decided to retest exactly how much the dps cost was for reforging to the hit cap. 500 dps at level 80 was (to me at least) pretty substantial. It was 3% of my total damage. With 4.06 I knew the numbers had changed substantially and I wanted to know what the cost was to reforge to the hit cap. There are advantages to being hit capped which include not missing interrupts (changing in 4.01), not missing cowers, and a more stable dps rotation. There have also been many posts where people have claimed better dps on add fights with more hit. I did not try to get both hit and expertise capped as that would have resulted in gemming/enchant changes. One thing that has not changed with 4.06 is that the relative value of agility is still around three times that of any of the secondary stats and the relative value of strength is still more than twice that of the secondary stats and there are not enough secondary stats available to reforge to get both hit and expertise capped.

To test the impact of emphasizing crit, haste or the hit cap, I reforged my current gear the following four ways:

  1. First I emphasized crit rating after mastery.
  2. Then I emphasized haste rating after mastery.
  3. The third setup had haste rating and crit rating almost equal.
  4. For the fourth setup, I got as close to the hit cap as I could (960 hit rating for 7.99% hit) which did result in a slightly lower mastery rating.

I tested this against four combat scenarios as follows:

  1. A 5 minute patchwork style fight (“Patch”)
  2. A 5 minute patchwork style fight with in combat Ravages with no travel time (“Ravage 0″)
  3. A 5 minute patchwork style fight with in combat Ravages with 2 second travel times (“Ravage 2″)
  4. A 7 minute fight that alternates 90 seconds of combat with 30 seconds of downtime which is similar to the air phases on Atramedes (“90/30″)

All tests used the Glyphs of Rip and Shred, and I did full runs with the third glyph being either TF, Berserk, or SR (this is captured as row prefixes in the data below). The testing I did is not intended to comment on the relative merits of the TF, Berserk, and SR glyphs, but was done to make sure that the behavior of a hit capped profile was consistent regardless of which of those three glyphs was used. I will probably post a followup to discuss the relative merits of each of those glyphs. I have included all of the data I measured at the end of this post. I did the testing with my Mew script, which is posted here. The differences between my script and the default one that ships with Mew are pretty minor with my script typically producing slightly higher dps. To emulate the Atramedes air phases I added some code to the top of the script to return a null result after every 90 seconds for 30 seconds. I made the fight length 7 minutes to ensure that the fight ended during a combat phase.

Looking at the data below, the differences in value between haste and crit are low (the largest difference was with the glyph of berserk on the 90/30 fight where emphasizing haste comes out about 50dps ahead of stacking crit). Reforging to the hit cap is a dps loss in most scenarios – but it is not nearly as significant as it was before the 4.06 patch came out. Using it in conjunction with the glyph of TF generally showed about a 60dps loss while using it with the glyph of berserk was closer to a 100dps loss. It would be a mistake to make too many assumptions about the glyph of berserk results as it is particularly sensitive to fight length and mechanics (for example on the 90/30 fight, Mew is showing less than 3 full berserks which means the second berserk is being clipped). What was interesting was that with the the glyph of TF on the 90/30 fight the hitcap setup was on par with the other setups – which lends some credence to the notion that being hitcapped helps with dps on fights with target switching/adds.

The bottom line is that the dps loss for reforging to the hitcap is about .25% of the measured dps. The secondary stats are so close in value now that you you can pretty much choose any combination of crit/haste/exp/hit without significantly impacting your dps. Mastery is still preferred, but even giving up a small amount of mastery to get hit capped is not that significant (I had to give up 91 mastery with my gear).

-Leaf

*Updated the data with agility at 5060 not 5360.

Crit Haste Balanced Hitcap (7.99%)
Weapon DPS 703.5 703.5 703.5 703.5
Str 142 142 142 142
Agi 5060 5060 5060 5060
AP 887 887 887 887
Haste 663 1260 1134 782
Hit 266 266 266 960
Crit 1604 1007 1133 957
Exp 188 188 188 113
Mastery 1882 1882 1882 1791
TF Patch 23562 23588 23580 23529
TF Ravage 0 24797 24813 24807 24759
TF Ravage 2 24154 24142 24152 24048
TF 90/30 20127 20165 20147 20170
Berserk Patch 23492 23527 23514 23418
Berserk Ravage 0 24593 24598 24601 24526
Berserk Ravage 2 23994 24008 23995 23883
Berserk 90/30 19859 19909 19870 19827
SR Patch 23429 23462 23459 23372
SR Ravage 0 24534 24547 24536 24469
SR Ravage 2 23937 23925 23917 23840
SR 90/30 19797 19842 19811 19783
Mar 152011
 

What’s up Cats and Kittens (Sorry just wanted to try that out)

With Syl and myself getting use to our new roles on the site, sadly I’ve let a couple things slip under the radar I’d like to take a moment to address right now. The 4.1 changes announced so far have been dismal for the needed changes in feral 4.1 dps improvements; however, we have seen a few quality of life changes that I’d like to take a moment to discuss with everyone.

  • A dead player can now be resurrected by targeting them using the Party or Raid Frame even if they have released. No more hunting for corpses.

It doesn’t happen often but when it does you really want to /facepalm. A key raider goes down and thinks to themselves this is the perfect time to click the release button. Now your raid leader is screaming at you, “I don’t care if you can’t find them get them up now!” While said raider is yelling, “I died next to the stairs!” Well no more!!! I like to think of this as a situational dps increase, time spent mousing over the entire battle field was time wasted from dps. A change that I can’t complain about.

  • Druids now innately have 100% pushback protection from damage while channeling Tranquility.

Again another quality of life change. The amount of times I would pop tranq in a pinch to just get half of it pushed back due to heavy aoe raid damage was numerous. This will make feral tranqs that much more clutch in both 10 and 25m raid settings. Again not great news for dps, but good news nonetheless.

As most of you are aware blizzard has started a new blog called the Dev Q&A series. The first Q&A went out and I have to say I was not impressed at all. While their claim is we just answered the questions that we’re voted up the highest, sadly most of the questions they answered were things they’ve addressed in simple blue posts since the new forums have launched. There was only one question asked that recieved an answer from all specs of the druid community, this question was asked by squiggly line, squiggly line, tiny airplane, happy flamingo from Taiwan, he asks:

  • Q: Moonkins lack the “execution” phase spell or talent, is that an intended design and why? –輕體小子 (Taiwan)
    A: While it’s true that a lot of character classes have a special ability they can use at the 20% health mark, we didn’t set out to make sure everyone had one. Balance druids have changed a lot in the last two expansions and went from a pretty simple rotation (spam Wrath or Starfire) to a pretty complex one. We’re not sure at this time they need yet another mechanic to manage, but it’s a potential design direction to explore for the future.

While it made me sad to see that there are Boomkins out there asking for more ways to improve their dps over ours, I can’t help but wonder if he realizes the feral execute is arguably the weakest of all class and specs. If it wasn’t for bite refreshing rip under 25% there’s a good chance that feral kitties would just skip that talent anyway.  I’m just happy that blizzard agreed that Boomkins don’t need another mechanic to manage making us look silly in current content. The next Q&A series is all about pvp so don’t hold your breath anything useful will be addressed there either.

I still hold hope, numerous changes have been anounced to different classes and their aoe abilities, and there’s not to many classes left to adjust other then us. So keep your paws crossed, hopefully we’ll get some patch notes about us very soon. If they’re announced I promise not to take a week to get a discussion going on the site.

Until next time

-Qbear

 Posted by at 10:00 pm
Mar 152011
 

In case you missed it, my column for WoW Insider this week discussed feral tank/DPS hybrids again. Kal and I (along with others) got into a good discussion in the comments, which I’d like to explore more thoroughly, since I believe both sides to the argument have merit. Let’s look at things from a time management perspective:

First, theorize a fight with the following parameters:

  • Length: 8 minutes, given current raid DPS.
  • Tank death at some point in the fight.
  • Brez not possible, to make things easier. (Either someone else died earlier, or the boss kills half the raid before the rez goes off, or whatever.)
  • It takes your guild 5 minutes to rez/run back/drink/rebuff/etc.

So, there’s three scenarios.

1) Raid wipes. 0% chance of successful kill. Time lost = rez time + time elapsed during the wipe. (Let’s say you die  halfway in, so say 5m + 4m = 9m).
2) Herobear fails. Time lost = Scenario 1 time lost + herobear time. (Let’s say you extend each wipe by 2 minutes.)
3) Herobear succeeds. Time lost = 0 minutes.

Given the above, it’s an easy calculation: Herobear needs to succeed only 22% of the time to make it a worthwhile choice.

Obviously, you can tweak the parameters some based on your perceptions, which will affect the calculations. Longer runback times or quicker herobear fails (which tend to be my experience) will decrease the success rate needed to be worthwhile.

Why am I looking at this from a time management perspective? Well, I figure for most guilds, the majority of their time is spent on farm content. Anything that speeds farm content = more gear/more reps on progression content. For top-tier guilds, unless they deliberately choose to use a feral DPS as an temp OT (say as a drake tank on H Halfus), this won’t make much of a difference, as they generally spend less time on farm content, and are good at fast wipes. They also are more likely to be challenging content that has a DPS check as a part of every encounter (vs. normal where many fights simply test execution, like Atramedes or V&T). Oh, and it’s also much less useful in 25man raiding.

I’m rambling, but I think my final point is this: You already have a choice between marginal DPS talents (Primal Madness, Predatory Strikes) and personal survivability talents (Nurturing Instincts, Perseverance). I simply propose that bear talents are a third option; not always desirable, but very useful in the right situations. (It absolutely rocks for heroics.)

 Posted by at 8:03 pm
Mar 142011
 

FIRST:  forget all you know or think you know about T10 raiding and before.  It is obsolete.  The name of the game is World of Warcraft: Cataclysm.  Unless you are in a top world progression guild with many geared alts, chances are you won’t have the optimal raid comp.  When this happens your guild will need people to fill roles that they normally don’t do.  Now, I am not talking about a cat trying to heal (maybe I am?) or casting Wrath.  What I am talking about is many of the unused abilities that people complain about.  Let’s see what we have to work with here.

Raid Buffs

  • Mark of the Wild – Increase the friendly target’s Strength, Agility, Stamina, and Intellect by 5%, and all magical resistances for 1 hour.

Pound for pound this raid wide buff is still the best there is.  A Paladin’s Kings is the same now, and the 2 don’t stack. But what if you don’t have a Pally, or the only 1 is buffing something else?

  • Leader of the Pack – While in Cat Form or Bear Form, the Leader of the Pack increases critical strike chance of all party and raid members within 100 yards by 5%.

Oh yes, LotP.  We love you.  And our raid loves us because of you.

  • Stampeding Roar – The druid roars, increasing all nearby friendly players movement speed within 10 yards by 40% for 6 sec.

OK this doesn’t have a lot of uses right now besides helping people run back from a wipe faster.  But put it on your bar somewhere.  It is great for fire runner on Atramedes.  Body and Soul is considered better since it can be cast at range but if you have no priest (or he isn’t any good) then it’s up to you.  I try not to mention patch 4.1 too much but Stampeding Roar is getting a buff.  The duration and speed increase are increasing to 60% for 8 sec.  If you have talented Feral Swiftness (and I am sure you have) SR now becomes a 10 yard root breaker. /purrrrrr

Boss Debuffs

  • Mangle – Mangle the target for 460% normal weapon damage plus (315*460/100) and causes the target to take 30% additional damage from bleed effects for 1 min.

Ah Mangle.  How we love you.  So many people in your raid will love you for making sure this never falls off.  It does not stack with Arms Warrior’s Trauma, but then an Arms Warrior should not be raiding.

  • Infected wounds – Your Shred, Ravage, Maul, and Mangle attacks cause an Infected Wound in the target.  The Infected Wound reduces the movement speed of the target by 50% and the attack speed by 20%. Lasts 12 sec.

Many will point out that the tanks can do this.  And well they can, but when you get into fights with multiple mobs and such, some tanks don’t apply their debuff.  Is this the tank’s fault? Yes, but sometimes you just have to deal.  You will need to move points around for this and should talk to your tanks to see if they need you to do this.

  • Demoralizing Roar – The Druid Roars, reducing the physical damage caused by all enemies within 10 yards by 10% for 30 sec.

Hey, wait, that is for bears.  Well, don’t laugh but I have had to do this.  If you have a tank with awesome mitigation/survival their threat is usually lacking.  I have gone in on pulls with the tank and put up demo roar at the start of the fight so they don’t have to use a GCD.  Then I go cat and do my thing.  By the time demo falls off, they have a comfortable threat lead and can do it themselves.  This rarely happens.

  • Feral Fairy Fire – Decreases the armor of the target by 4% for 5min. While affected the target cannot stealth or turn invisible.  Stacks up to 3 times.

If you talent Feral Aggression (which I am sure you have) this applies at 3 stacks.  Tanks love this for initial threat.  Every other non caster will love you for it also.

Utility

  • Entangling Roots – Roots the target in place and causes 370 Nature damage over 30 sec.  Damage caused may interrupt the affect.

Not a strong CC but it is a CC that may be needed.

  • Cyclone – Tosses the enemy target into the air, preventing all action but making them invulnerable for up to 6 sec.  Only 1 target can be affected by your Cyclone at a time.

This is a really nice CC to put on Mind-controlled raid members.  It takes them out of the fight without causing any extra damage for your healers to have to deal with.

  • Hibernate – Forces the enemy target to sleep for up to 40 sec. Any damage will awaken the target.  Only one target can be forced to hibernate at a time.  Only works on Beasts and Dragonkin.

This CC has limited uses as far as targets go, but it is VERY powerful.  40 seconds is a lifetime in a fight.

  • Innervate – Causes the target to regenerate mana equal to 20% of the casting Druid’s maximum mana pool over 10 sec.

Many think this is worthless now-not so.  Remember in progression the slightest difference separates a kill and another wipe.  Think of this.  Healer goes down and gets rezzed.  They still have no mana.  Pop MotW + Innervate.  It isn’t much, but some mana is better than no mana.  It might buy you that extra 10-20 seconds you needed.

  • Rebirth – Returns the spirit to the body, restoring a dead target to life with 20% health and 20% mana.

Here it is.  Rebirth!  People love us for it.  Most are jealous of us for it, an in-combat resurrection.  If you glyph it (no reason you shouldn’t) your target comes back with 100% health.  In 4.1 DK s will get this.  That’s nice for them but give me the druid that has been doing this for years.  A druid can do it better IMHO.  Example: A mage goes down.  You pop Rebirth (glyphed) + MotW + Innervate.  You now have a mage with full health, the major raid buff, and 20% of his mana plus 20% of mine.  Like I said before, these are the little things that can make or break your attempt.

  • Remove Corruption – Nullifies corrupting effects on the friendly target, removing 1 Curse and 1 Poison effect.

Healer job?  Yes.  But that doesn’t mean you can’t help in fights where there is massive damage going out taking up the healers’ time.  At least get yourself cleaned off.

  • Skull Bash – You charge and skull bash the target, interrupting spellcasting and preventing any spell in that school from being cast for 4 sec.

This costs too much and is slowed by travel time, so many have said that if your RL puts a feral on interrupts they are bad.  Well ya know what, I interrupt all the time.  I do it because I am reliable.  I do it because I am good at it.  I do it because we don’t have the perfect raid setup and someone has to do it.

  • Soothe – Soothes the target, dispelling all enrage effects.

Sounds like a good idea to me.

Healing

  • Tranquility – Heals 5 nearby lowest health party or raid members within 30 yards with tranquility every 2 sec for 8 sec.

With Nurturing Instincts talented, this becomes very powerful.  With its 8min CD you will only use it once per boss.  This is another of the game-changers we have.  This can save a wipe in the final seconds of a Cho’gall kill.  We also have other heals but Tranquility + Nuturing Instincts is the big 1 for your raid.

Virtually NOTHING I have shown you here will help your personal DPS, but raiding isn’t about you alone.  One person’s DPS will not carry a group to glory.  Your #1 job should still be to max your DPS.  But remember, a druid is so much more than a face ripper.  We have utility in many areas.  What really sets us apart is the caliber of player.  From what I have experienced there aren’t a lot of good players in a specific class besides the druids of the world.  Some classes still just mash buttons and do great DPS but those easier classes also have a ton of players that stand in fire or say, “you want me to do what?  I don’t have that on my bar.”  A good RL will recognize your class’s deficiencies but also expect you to get the job done.  This is where we start seeing the great player move to the lead.  It is time to step up and be the leader.  Avoid avoidable damage.  Keep your buffs/debuffs going.  DPS the bosses eyes out.  BR, MotW, Innervate, and ect….  At all times make sure you are doing everything you can to help the raid.  Your raid members will notice and be glad of it.

OH MANGS!  I am on twitter now (@charliesheen is cracking me up).  Follow me @Sylvaneart.  As always be sure to subscribe to the RSS feed and use the forums. Feel free to PM me with any questions you might have, but the forums on this site are your best bet. This will help to answer one question one time instead of one question multiple times. This site is a posting spot for many great cats. If you are the noob with a noob question and are a little embarrassed then a PM will do fine. I will never ridicule you.

Sylvaneart