Apr 192010
 

Haven’t done much with WoW this week…been fighting RL (hey, my work decided to block all sites from my hosting provider) as well as some slight burnout. On the bright side, my computer now has a fresh Windows 7 64-bit install…much better then the 32-bit Vista crap I’d never gotten around to fixing. I’ve also leveled my alt pally to 74 (lord, pally tanking is so much easier then bear tanking was in 3.0).

So, here’s a quick roundup of my thoughts on the issues that came up last week:

  • Tree Form becoming a cooldown: I had a huge post on this written, then canned it because it didn’t say much of anything that Allison or Keeva had already said better. Essentially, Blizzard has the right idea, but they presented it in a terrible way. They’ve made up quite a bit with their comments in the dev chat about ToL…how it will be an “Ancient of War” type shift that will empower all the druid’s spells. If they’s just said that in the preview, instead of “sorry, ToL’s going away, sucks for you,” things would have been much better. Honestly, I think Balance should get the same treatment as well, and leave Feral as the “shapeshifting for combat” tree.
  • New Druid abilities: To expand on my first analysis post, Stampeding Roar is going to be awfully hard to balance. It’s pretty obvious that Cata will be much more movement-intensive, raid-wise, but boosting other people’s movement is tough. (Remember them taking out Unholy Aura, the DK talent that have 15% runspeed?) As for the mushrooms, I still dislike the name, but I can see it’s utility now for feral if it’s baseline. Bears gain an AOE pulling ability; Cats gain a ranged attack, if it’s usable in form.
  • Sparkly ponies: Meh. Yeah, it’s pretty, buy it if you like it, don’t if you don’t. I have absolutely zero problem with Blizz selling vanity stuff (they’ve kept the monthly price at $15 for ages, after all). This does not ruin WoW. (Is it just me, or does EVERY change ruin WoW?)

Posting will probably continue to be light this week, and will hopefully pick up next week.

 Posted by at 4:49 pm
Apr 092010
 

Yay! The druid notes are up! Let’s take a look…notes in blue quotes, analysis as we go.

New Druid Abilities

Thrash (Level 81): Thrash deals damage and causes all targets within 10 yards to bleed every 2 seconds for 6 seconds. The intent here is to give bears another button to hit while tanking. Talents will affect the bleed, such as causing Swipe to deal more damage to bleeding targets. 5-second cooldown. 25 Rage.

Okay, this is cool, kind of like an AOE Lacerate. Of course, they’ve already said we won’t have as many AOE situations as in WOTLK, so it remains to be seen how useful it will actually be. Hopefully, it will be part of the single-target rotation as well.

Stampeding Roar (Level 83): The druid roars, increasing the movement of all allies within 10 yards by 40% for 8 seconds. Stampeding Roar can be used in cat or bear form, but bears might have a talent to drop the cooldown. The goal of this ability is to give both bears and cats a little more situational group utility. 3-minute cooldown. No cost.

Hmm…seems I said something in my last post about movement being a key thing in Cata? :) It’s hard to really judge the value of this ability without seeing the encounters that it’ll be designed for. Right now, it feels a bit weak with the 3 minute CD. (We’ll probably see something like Mimiron or Sindragosa where you have to leave point X within Y seconds…unfortunately, the run-out timers are tight enough that you really need to use this preemptively to save someone who’s slow.)

Wild Mushroom (Level 85): Grows a magical mushroom at the target location. After 4 seconds the mushroom becomes invisible. Enemies who cross the mushroom detonate it, causing it to deal area-of-effect damage, though its damage component will remain very effective against single targets. The druid can also choose to detonate the mushroom ahead of time. This is primarily a tool for the Balance druid, and there will be talents that play off of it. No cooldown. 40-yard range. Instant cast.

Please tell me this is a joke. Mushrooms? MUSHROOMS? WHAT THE HELL? Lord, and moonkin get laughed at now… Um, as for the actual spell, not really sure what to say. It’s basically a proximity mine, which won’t have a lot of PvE application. (…trails off, mumbling something about design committee deadlines)

Changes to Abilities and Mechanics

In addition to the new abilities listed above, we intend to make changes to some of the other abilities and mechanics with which you’re already familiar. This list and the summary of talent changes below it are by no means comprehensive, but they should give you a good sense of our goals for each spec.

All heal-over-time spells (HoTs) will benefit from crit and haste innately in Cataclysm. Hasted HoTs do not reduce their duration, but instead add additional HoT ticks. Haste will also benefit Energy generation while in cat form.

About what we expected from the previous class notes. Unresolved is the exact nature of how the haste works on the HOT…is it stepwise or linear? If it’s stepwise, then gearing is complicated again, as we have to gear for the haste level where we get 7 Rejuv ticks instead of 6, or something. If it’s linear, then how does it work? Also, nothing about Feral or Moonkin DoTs.

Unlike the other healers, Restoration druids will not be receiving any new spells. They have plenty to work with already, and our challenge instead is to make sure all of them have a well-defined niche. A druid should be able to tank-heal with stacks of Lifebloom, spot-heal a group with Nourish and Regrowth, and top off lightly wounded targets with Rejuvenation.

As expected from previous discussion. I assume Healing Touch will get some love, Nourish/Regrowth will be differentiated, and Tranquility will be made raid-wide (and probably nerfed to compensate).

We want to add tools to cat form and depth to bear form. If a Feral cat is going to fill a very similar niche to that of a rogue, warrior or Enhancement shaman, it needs a few more tools — primarily a reliable interrupt. Bears need to be pushing a few more buttons just so the contrast between tanking and damage-dealing is not so steep.

Yep! Yay for new interrupt. Pretty sure that was the #1 thing on my list for Cata.

Barkskin will be innately undispellable.

Yay for PvP, though trees won’t have quite the survivability anymore (because they won’t be trees…see below).

We will be buffing the damage of Mangle (cat) significantly so that when cat druids cannot Shred, they are not at such a damage-dealing loss.

Erm…they’re not really losing that much damage right now, if it’s Glyphed. I detailed this in a previous post. Hey, why not just make Shred usable from the front?

Druids will lose Abolish Poison with the dispel mechanics change, but Restoration druids will gain Dispel Magic (on friendly targets) as a talent. All druids can still remove poisons with Cure Poison and remove curses with Remove Curse.

As already noted. I thought they were rolling them together into one spell?

New Talents and Talent Changes

Tree of Life is changing from a passive talent to a cooldown-based talent, similar to Metamorphosis. Mechanically, it feels unfair for a druid to have to give up so much offense and utility in order to be just as good at healing as the other classes who are not asked to make that trade. We are exploring the exact benefit the druid gets from Tree of Life. It could strictly be better healing, or it could be that each heal behaves slightly different. You also will not be able to be banished in Tree of Life form (this will probably be true of Metamorphosis as well). Additionally, we would like to update the Tree of Life model so that it feels more exciting when you do decide to go into that form. Our feeling is that druids rarely actually get to show off their armor, so it would be nice to have at least one spec that looked like a night elf or tauren (and soon troll or worgen) for most of the time.

Uh-oh. Blogstorm coming in 3…2…1… Seriously, I understand the reasoning behind it, but healing really demands consistency, not cooldowns. A lot of people really like their Tree form, and will push HARD against this change.

We want to make the Feral cat damage rotation slightly more forgiving. We do not want to remove what druids like about their gameplay, but we do want to make it less punishing to miss, say, a Savage Roar or Rake. The changes here will be on par with increasing the duration of Mangle like we did for patch 3.3.3.

This was expected, though I’m not sure how you make it “slightly” less punishing. Perhaps our DoTs will ended up being a lower proportion of our damage, and/or SR will be less of a buff.

Balance druids will have a new talent ability called Nature’s Torrent, which strikes for either Nature or Arcane damage depending on which will do the most damage (or possibly both), and moves the Eclipse meter more (details below). The improved version of Nature’s Torrent also reduces the target’s movement speed. 10-second cooldown.

See? This is a good name for a balance spell. Is the mushroom committee taking notes? Moonkin needed another instant, and it looks like they’re getting it.

Restoration druids will have a new talent called Efflorescence, which causes a bed of healing flora to sprout beneath targets that are critically healed by Regrowth.

This is cool. I wonder if this will replace the HOT component on Regrowth.

We plan on giving Feral cats and bears a Kick/Pummel equivalent — an interrupt that is off the global cooldown and does no damage. We feel like they need this utility to be able to fill the melee role in a dungeon or raid group, and to give them more PvP utility.

About time…though if we get one, the rets will want one too, I’m sure. I’ve successfully been a part of an interrupt rotation with Maim, and it’s absolutely destructive to your DPS.

We want to make sure Feral and Balance druids feel like good options for an Arena team. They need the tools to where you might consider a Feral druid over an Arms warrior, or a Balance druid over a mage or warlock. Remember that the PvP landscape will probably look pretty different for Cataclysm with a focus on rated, competitive Battlegrounds.

Sounds good.

Mastery Passive Talent Tree Bonuses

Balance

  • Spell Damage
  • Spell Haste
  • Eclipse

Eclipse: We are moving Eclipse from a talent into a core mechanic of the class and making it less random. Balance druids will have a new UI element that shows a sun and a moon. Whenever they cast an Arcane spell, it will move the UI closer to the sun, and buff their Nature damage. Whenever they cast a Nature spell, it will move the UI closer to the moon, and buff their Arcane damage. The gameplay intention is to alternate Arcane and Nature spells (largely Starfire and Wrath) to maintain the balance.

Erm, okay, this seems contradictory. I can boost my damage in one school by primarily casting in that school…but I’m supposed to maintain a “balance?”

Feral (Cat)

  • Melee Damage
  • Melee Critical Damage
  • Bleed Damage

Lessee, way back on March 9th I said, “…bonus 1 will be Bear +damage reduction / Cat +damage increase, bonus 2 will be +agility, and bonus 3? Dunno. Maybe Cat +bleed damage, Bear +%HP?” Looks like I came pretty close. :P It doesn’t surprise me that they’re boosting crit damage instead of crit rate, with all the cap issues we’re having now.

Feral (Bear)

  • Damage Reduction
  • Vengeance
  • Savage Defense


Bleed Damage and Savage Defense: Feral druids will receive two sets of passive bonuses depending on whether the druid is in cat or bear form. Bleed Damage will be improved for cats. Savage Defense is the current bear mechanic for converting crits into damage absorption and will be improved for bears.

Vengeance: This is a mechanic to ensure that tank damage (and therefore threat) doesn’t fall behind as damage-dealing classes improve their gear during the course of the expansion. All tanking specs will have Vengeance as their second talent tree passive bonus. Whenever a tank gets hit, Vengeance will give them a stacking attack power buff equal to 5% of the damage done, up to a maximum of 10% of the character’s unbuffed health. For boss encounters we expect that tanks will always have the attack power bonus equal to 10% of their health. The 5% and 10% bonuses assume 51 talent points have been put into the Feral tree and the druid is in bear form — these values will be smaller at lower levels. Remember, you only get this bonus if you have spent the most talent points in the Feral tree and are in bear form, so you won’t see Balance, Restoration, or Feral druids in cat form running around with it. Vengeance will let us continue to make tank gear more or less the way we do today — there will be some damage-dealing stats, but mostly survival-oriented stats. Druids typically have more damage-dealing stats even on their tanking gear, so the Vengeance benefit may be smaller, but overall the goal is that all four tanks do about the same damage when tanking.

Kalon’s (Yes, THAT Kalon, he’s back, sorta. :)) got a long post up about Vengeance, so I won’t discuss it too much. I don’t really share his pessimism…I think Vengeance gives the developers a very easy option with which to boost tank damage/threat if needed.

Restoration

  • Healing
  • Meditation
  • HoT Scale Healing

HoT Scale Healing: HoTs will do increased healing on more wounded targets. The mechanic is similar to that of the Restoration shaman, but with HoTs instead of direct heals. In Cataclysm, we anticipate druids using a greater variety of their spells so there is a distinction between healing and HoT healing.

This is better for us then for a Shaman, I’d imagine, as this will help directly with what HoT’s are best at…high-efficiency HPS.

Overall? Ferals got a few new toys, but nothing overly special. We didn’t need much, honestly. A ranged silence would have been nice, but I’ll take the new interrupt for kitty form and be happy. Meanwhile, restos lost their iconic form, and got nothing of substance back in return, while moonkin got…mushrooms. Exploding mushrooms. Yeah, I’m happy to be a feral.

Apr 082010
 

I won’t rehash the full text of all the changes, but here’s some bullet points from each that I found interesting. As always, MMO-Champion has all the details if you haven’t seen them already.

Shaman

  • Healing Rain sounds great and fits with the class very well. The 2 sec cast time is interesting, though. The targeted mechanic is going to open up some new strategic possibilities with groups.
  • Spiritwalker’s Grace…wow. Cast time spells not interrupted by movement is a huge mechanics change. I expect to see this ability go through several revisions to get numbers right…10s every 2 minutes is too long of a CD and duration, IMO. 5s/min seems better.
  • Spirit Link will be the new tool for *accidentally* killing DPS. :P

Warlock

  • Okay, you got green fire. Go away now. :P Question for Aff…what’s left to actually cast now that UA gets auto-refreshed? Haunt/Sbolt/CoA? This is ridiculous. What used to be THE most complex DPS rotation in the whole game in 3.0 is now approaching Arcane Mage territory.
  • CoA/CoD being converted to a magic effect is great. The old design (which required sacrificing a DPS curse to cover raid buffs) was a relic of vanilla and penalized good players.
  • I know they don’t want to, but they’re going to have to implement a regeneration mechanic for the new Soul Shards. I think fight mechanics is a better method for making locks keep shards in reserve.

Priest

  • A buff that increases movement speed and reduces the mana cost of instants? Hmm, I think I see a trend.
  • Leap of Faith (FailGrip) is a bold step. I like the concept of the idea, but there’s a ton of abuse/griefing potential as currently described…plus anything that gives DPS a disincentive to move out of the fire is bad. I can so see this conversation happening in a pug:
    Ipwndlklol: why you grip me FFS it kills my DPS
    Illsaveyou: you were standing in fire
    Ipwndlklol: lrn 2 heal nub
    This would really help on Sindragosa atm with tank swaps.
  • The new Holy talent that buffs your current type of spells after you cast 3 in a row (ST/AoE) is cool, and reminds me of a similar mechanic from LOTRO. Need more info though…it’s gotten some criticism already that I think is unwarranted.

Warrior

  • Heroic Strike no longer an “on next swing” attack, but an instant that will cost from 10-30 Rage, with damage scaled to match. Maul will work similarly. This is cool…kinda like how Ferocious Bite is used as a CP/energy dump. The question is, will DPS warriors keep jumping in fires to get more rage? (yes).
  • Gushing Wound: new Rend that is better DPS only if the target is moving. *TREND SENSORS FLASHING*
  • Hmm. “Whenever the character reaches a full 100 Rage, he or she will gain a buff that causes attacks to consume 50% more Rage and do 15% more damage for a short amount of time.” Not a fan, especially if top-end DPS requires deliberately hitting this cap. Hopefully, this is just the fallback if you’re not HS’ing enough.
  • Single-Minded Fury: New talent parallel to Titan’s Grip that buffs dual 1H weapons. Um, guys? Didn’t we just have a discussion about why blood had to be the DK tank tree since it was too hard to balance multiple roles in one tree?

Overall

  • It’s pretty clear that we’re going to be runnin’ fools in Cata. Every class so far has had at least one new spell/ability to buff movement.
  • Pretty much all DoTs will be buffed by haste/crit. Crit’s easy, but how do you buff a DoT with haste? According to the Priest post, they will keep the duration the same and have ticks come faster,  adding extra ticks as needed. That’s cool, but how do you handle “half-ticks?” What about classes that can roll DoTs?
 Posted by at 5:50 pm
Apr 062010
 

It looks like a LOT of Cataclysm info is about to drop this week, and I’ll be here to kick it around a bit. While we wait for the first Druid class info post on 9 April, let’s discuss the two mechanics changes that have been proposed so far – rage normalization and dispels.

Rage (full post on mmo-champion. It’s pretty long, so I’ll paraphrase.)

Problems:

Problem 1: Currently, rage is generated (mainly) by two things- damage done by white attacks, and damage taken. Because the amounts of damage outgoing (and incoming, for tanks) scale as you progress, Blizzard is forced to either balance for early content and then nerf rage generation later, or balance for later content and force new endgame warriors/bears to be underpowered.

Problem 2: For fights that require two tanks on the same boss, or for tanks that are overgeared for the content, a rage-based offtank has large problems generating rage/threat, due to doing/receiving little damage (“rage starvation”).

Problem 3: Heroic Strike/Maul are designed as high-rage-cost inefficient abilities, to use excess rage. Due to Problem 1, however, they never get used in early content, and are overused to the point of irrelevancy in later content (mine are macroed in with my main abilities). They are also clunky and cause RSI.

Solutions:

Solution 1: Each hit  generates a fixed amount of rage, based on weapon swing speed. Crits will cause that attack to generate double rage, and off-hand weapons (for fury warriors) will generate half the rage of the mainhand.

Solution 2: Rage from damage taken will no longer be based on an arbitrary constant but will be based on the health of the tank. The calculation will ignore mitigation and avoidance effects.

Solution 3: HS/Maul will no longer replace melee attacks; instead, they will become instants, burning a scaling amount of rage based on your current rage level. (Theoretically, a maul might burn 30 rage and do 30k damage at full rage, or burn 3 rage and do 3k damage with 10 rage.)

Solution 4: Additional methods for instant rage generation and dumping are being discussed.

Analysis:

IMO, these proposed changes are excellent, and do a great job of solving the current problems. Rage generation via attacks, instead of damage, will make gear much less important and rage generation more consistent. DPS warriors will not go through a constant UP/OP rollercoaster (as much). Second, having rage scale based on tank health will solve the “infinite rage” issue for tanks, which will make Bear tanking much more interesting (1. Macro Maul to Swipe 2. *snore*). Rage starvation for content you overgear will still be an issue, but not as significant an issue as today. (Quickly looking back, a tank in T7 content had about half the health of a tank in T10 content, so you’d be generating about 50% less rage from damage taken.)

Dispel Changes (paraphrased again: full post on mmo-champion)

The developers feel that dispelling was too trivial and unbalanced in favor of certain classes for WOTLK. Essentially, as part of their “give healers non-trivial choice” campaign, they want healers to have to make a decision between throwing a heal  or throwing a dispel.

  • Dispels will be more expensive, less smart (you can waste mana and a GCD by casting when a debuff isn’t present) and less automatic (no more Cleansing Totem, Abolish Disease, or Abolish Poison).
  • All healing classes will have a talented friendly-only magic dispel (except for Priests, who will have it baseline) and the ability to remove two other effects. Druids—Curse/Poison; Paladins—Disease/Poison; Priests—Hostile Dispel/Disease; Shamans-Hostile Dispel/Curse.
  • Prot/Ret pallies will no longer be able to magic dispel; Shamans will lose abolish disease/poison; all other dispel abilities will remain.

Analysis:

This feels like a change driven by PvP that will have PvE implications. I’m mostly withholding judgment until we see the new class designs; however, my gut feeling is that I dislike anything that removes dispel utility from DPS. DPS shamans, especially, will take a hit from this. I’m really hoping that shamans get some love in Cata, as they’ve gotten the short end for WOTLK.  (Oh, and resto druids will be OP in PvP again. Good luck catching one.)

 Posted by at 8:27 pm  Tagged with:
Apr 062010
 

First off, I hope everyone had a good Easter! I took some time off of writing (but not thinking) to spend some time with my family, and am glad I did. On the way back, however, I had a thought, which became a scribble, which became an idea.

Why do people use [Idol of the Crying Moon] over [Idol of Mutilation] anyway? At first glance, Crying Moon looks better…after all, it’s a 100% proc, and +20 agility better, and EJ lists it as BiS, right? Hold on, let’s look closer at the Cat portion of the tooltips.

  • Idol of the Crying Moon(ilvl 264): The periodic damage from your Rake ability grants 44 Agility for 15 sec. Stacks up to 5 times.
  • Idol of Mutilation (ilvl 245): Your Cat Form’s Mangle and Shred abilities have a chance (70%) to grant 200 Agility for 16 sec.

Now, lets go back to Kitty 101 for a sec. When first starting an encounter, your highest priority ability is Mangle, in order to apply the bleed damage debuff to the boss. Your typical initial rotation will be Mangle, Savage Roar, Rake, Shredx2. Remember, Rake is a 9 sec DoT that applies its damage at 3, 6, and 9 sec after application.

“Well, duh,” I hear you thinking. “TLDR, already.”

Okay, here’s the key question. At what average time in the fight is the Idol buff fully stacked? Assume you are fully hit/expertise capped.

  • Idol of the Crying Moon: Given the sequence above, the first Rake is not applied until 2 sec into the fight. Assuming the second Rake is applied immediately as the first expires, the fifth tick of Rake will occur, stacking the fifth buff stack, at 17 sec.
  • Idol of Mutilation: Your initial Mangle will proc the buff 70% of the time. Failing that, you have about a 3% chance for it not to have procced after the first two Shreds. Doing some SimulationCraft crunching revealed that the buff procs, on average, at 1.7 sec.

What does this mean? For the first 17 seconds of a fight, Idol of Mutilation is clearly superior. After that? Well, the Crying Moon idol has quite a bit of ground to make up. Using SimulationCraft, I took a BiS feral druid and ran multiple iterations of fights of various lengths, calculating DPS and looking for the point where the “top speed” of the Crying Moon idol made up for the “acceleration” of the Mutilation idol. My findings:

  • Assuming the ability usage listed before combined with immediate Berserk and Heroism/Bloodlust, the Crying Moon idol matches the Mutilation idol in DPS after ~110 sec.
  • If not using Mangle, the Crying Moon idol matches the Mutilation idol in DPS after ~95 sec.

Upshot: If you’re in an encounter where you can DPS for more than 95/110 sec, and you can keep Rake consistently up on a target, then use Crying Moon. Looking at ICC, I see only about two fights that definitely fit that criteria (Saurfang/Festergut) and three possibles (Deathwhisper, Rotface, Princes), none of which are the harder zone bosses. IMO, I’m sticking with the Mutilation idol…and GearScore can go to hell. (okay, fine, people who misuse GearScore can go to hell.)

 Posted by at 12:31 am
Mar 302010
 

In Part 1 of the series, I covered buff/debuff trackers, an essential addon for any player serious about improving their kitty DPS. (Commenters: I’ve added a few more to the original post…thanks for all your great suggestions.) In this post, I’ll be examining mods that go beyond passively tracking your buffs/debuffs by helping you actually execute your DPS rotation. (Note that when I say ”rotation,” that’s shorthand for ”priority list.” Fixed rotations went out a while ago.)

So what does a rotation mod do, exactly?

It tells you (typically via an icon display) which skill you should use next to maximize your DPS. It comes to a decision based on several factors, including the addon’s programming, your energy/combopoints, time left on buffs/debuffs/cooldowns, enemy health, etc.

Isn’t that cheating?

Nope, though many players frown on their use. To Blizzard, as long as the mod doesn’t press the button for you (or just create one button that you can spam-click), it’s acceptable. There was an excellent wow.com discussion post on this when Facemauler was first popularized a year ago, so go there if you’d like to see some of the arguments for and against. IMHO, since the mod is not 100% infallible, I consider it a tool and not a cheat. However, I can certainly see how people could consider it as such.

Why use a DPS rotation mod?

Well, frankly, because it makes life much easier, especially on complex boss fights. On a single-target fight with no movement/switching, it’s not overly difficult to follow an ideal rotation. Once you add in movement, target switching, effect dodging, etc., the amount of mindspace left for ability choice decreases significantly. (Let’s not even mention raid leading. Gah.) A mod can help you maintain good DPS even when distracted, or teach you a good rotation if you’re still learning the class.

Cool! Any downside?

First, the helpers are only as good as the logic that powers them. Addons like these tend to come and go, as patches make significant changes to ability priorities. If you’re using an older mod (or logic), then the suggestions may not be very good. Second, the logic is structured towards a simple tank-and-spank situation (modeling anything else would be VERY complicated and probably out of the scope of an in-game addon). Most of the fights in ICC require frequent movement and target switching; you’ll frequently need to use your own judgment to maximize your DPS. (All of the wing bosses, for example, have specific times at which they are untargetable or have an add that needs killing. You’ll want to clip your DoTs to get max-duration ones up pre-switch.)

So where did these addons come from?

The first feral rotation addon was Facemauler, which was very good for its time. It wasn’t overly configurable, but it worked, and worked out-of-the-box. I used it for most of Ulduar. Sadly, it hasn’t been updated since last April, making its suggestion logic not so hot now.

Facemauler was followed by Feral By Night (FBN), a VERY complex and powerful addon, created by nightcrowler. It featured a dynamic rotation creator based on your characters stats and procs, and included a proc watcher, CD watcher, health/energy frames, all kinds of stuff. Unfortunately, it was never easy to use. It came with EVERYTHING toggled on by default, including all the stuff that never worked (so it took a lot of futzing around to get it usable) and had virtually no documentation. It was improving significantly, but nightcrowler disappeared and hasn’t updated the addon since July. FBN is still a viable option, but since it still uses 3.2 values, it’s not optimal (plus you still have to strip out the crap).

Ovale, my recommendation of choice, is slightly different. Instead of re-inventing the wheel, Ovale is designed purely as a rotation mod mechanism. It provides a scripting language for rotation authors to write scripts in; this way, when there’s a patch, instead of having to change hardcoded settings, the only things necessary are script tweaks. These scripts are simple text files that can be edited directly in-game, either by hand or just copy-pasted in. Ovale has a default script for every class that does a pretty decent job; however, you can freely replace these scripts with more complex logic for better performance.

Sounds good. How do I try it?

There’s two steps involved. First, you’ll have to install Ovale. Second, you’ll have to update the Ovale default feral druid script, which is decent but can use some improvement. I’ve provided Fatalsaints/Leafkiller’s script at the bottom of this post, which comes from the rotation discussion thread on EJ. Just copy the script below and paste into the text box in the addon settings. (If you want to keep the bear/moonkin bits, only replace the cat part, which is everything starting with the lines “if Stance(3) # cat” until “unless Stance(1) or Stance(3),” which starts the moonkin portion.)

If you’ve done this successfully, you’ll see two suggestion boxes, with two smaller boxes to the left. (Depending on how you configure the addon settings, you may need to reposition the window, shift into cat form, or enter combat for the boxes to appear.) Below is how it looks for me during a quick dummy test, with the quickoptions displayed (also shown here is my sUF character frame…yes, the scaling is off a little bit, need to fix that).

From the right, the first large box represents your main rotation (SR/Mangle/Rip/Rake/3xShred/FB), the second large box indicates when to use filler shreds/optional settings, and the small boxes are monitors for Berserk/TF. The quickoptions allow you to set certain abilities to be recommended in the box, or you can handle those manually. It’s a bit complicated to explain, but very easy to grasp once installed. If you’re having any problems getting it working, please post your issue in the forums and I’ll see if I can help.

Can I tweak the script?

Feel free! Before you start, however, I’d recommend installing Simulationcraft and playing with it some, to develop a priority order that best fits your character/situation. (I’ll be talking more about SC in a future post…it’s an awesome tool for fight modeling.) The Ovale documentation is here. If you read the script below, you’ll see lots of commented lines with #…these are the lines from the SC profile calculated to provide the best DPS, and the equivalent action in Ovale language.

Final Thoughts

I encourage everyone to give this a try, even if you hate the idea. You don’t have to use it during a raid; it can serve quite well as a training tool, to show you what an optimal rotation looks like. It’s been my experience that the vast majority of players complaining that this “decreases your situational awareness” or “doesn’t account for fight conditions” still show improvement when using it. Many people have put it quite a lot of effort to tweak the script to its optimum performance…give their hard work a try. I encourage people who’ve used this (or any rotation mod) sucessfully to share their stories in the comments.

Ovale Feral DPS Script

# Fatalsaints Feral Cat DPS Ovale Script v1FixedRakeWhitespacesTabs Leafv1.2
#
# Based on SimulationCraft actions
# http://elitistjerks.com/f73/t81052-best_possible_feral_dps_simulationcraft
#
# Source:
# http://elitistjerks.com/f73/t84378-visualising_optimal_cat_rotation_ingame/p10/#248
# -----------------------------------------------------------------------

Define(FFF 16857)
Define(FF 770)
Define(RIP 1079)
Define(MANGLE 33876)
Define(SHRED 5221)
Define(TIGER 5217)
Define(RAKE 59886)
Define(ROAR 52610)
Define(BITE 22568)
Define(BERSERK 50334)
Define(OMEN 16870)
Define(TRAUMA 46857)
Define(MANGLEB 33878)
SpellInfo(RIP resetcounter=ripshreds)
SpellInfo(SHRED inccounter=ripshreds)

AddCheckBox(CheckBoxTF "Suggest Tiger's Fury")
AddCheckBox(CheckBoxFF "Suggest Faerie Fire")
AddCheckBox(CheckBoxBk "Suggest Berserk")
AddCheckBox(CheckBoxMangle "Suggest Mangle")

AddIcon help=cd size=small
{
if Stance(3) {
Spell(TIGER priority=4)
}
}

AddIcon help=cd size=small
{
if Stance(3) {
Spell(BERSERK)
}
}
AddIcon help=main {
}
AddIcon help=main {
if Stance(3) { # Cat Form
# actions+=/faerie_fire_feral,debuff_only=1
if {CheckBoxOn(CheckBoxFF)} and {TargetDebuffExpires(FFF 0) and TargetDebuffExpires(FF 0)} Spell(FFF)

# actions+=/tigers_fury,energy<=30,berserk=0
if {CheckBoxOn(CheckBoxTF) and BuffExpires(BERSERK 0) and Mana(less 35)} Spell(TIGER)

# actions+=/berserk_cat,energy>=80,energy<=90
if {CheckBoxOn(CheckBoxBk) and Mana(more 79) and Mana(less 91)} Spell(BERSERK)

# actions+=/savage_roar,cp>=1,savage_roar<=1
if {ComboPoints(more 0) and BuffExpires(ROAR 0)} Spell(ROAR)

# actions+=/savage_roar,if=buff.combo_points.stack>=3&dot.rip.remains-buff.savage_roar.remains>=0&buff.savage_roar.remains<=8
if {ComboPoints(more 2) and TargetDebuffPresent(RIP mine=1) and more than 1s between TargetDebuffExpires(RIP mine=1) and BuffExpires(ROAR)} unless BuffPresent(ROAR 9) Spell(ROAR)

# actions+=/savage_roar,if=buff.combo_points.stack>=3&buff.savage_roar.remains-dot.rip.remains<=3&buff.savage_roar.remains<=8
if {ComboPoints(more 2) and TargetDebuffPresent(RIP mine=1) and at most 3s between BuffExpires(ROAR) and TargetDebuffExpires(RIP mine=1)} unless BuffPresent(ROAR 9) Spell(ROAR)

# actions+=/shred,cp<=4,extend_rip=1,rip<=3
if {ComboPoints(less 4) and TargetDebuffPresent(RIP mine=1) and TargetDebuffExpires(RIP 4 mine=1) and Counter(ripshreds less 3)} Spell(SHRED)

# actions+=/rip,cp>=5,time_to_die>=6
# actions+=/ferocious_bite,cp>=5,time_to_die<=6
# actions+=/ferocious_bite,cp>=5,rip>=8,savage_roar>=11
if {ComboPoints(more 4)} {
if {TargetDeadIn(less 7) or {TargetDebuffPresent(RIP 8 mine=1) and BuffPresent(ROAR 11)}} Spell(BITE)
if {TargetDeadIn(more 5) and TargetDebuffExpires(RIP 0 mine=1)} Spell(RIP)
}

# actions+=/mangle_cat,mangle<=1
if CheckBoxOn(CheckBoxMangle) and {TargetDebuffExpires(MANGLE 1) and TargetDebuffExpires(MANGLEB 1) and TargetDebuffExpires(TRAUMA 1)} Spell(MANGLE)

# actions+=/rake,time_to_die>=9
unless {TargetDebuffPresent(RAKE mine=1)} if TargetDeadIn(more 8) Spell(RAKE)

# actions+=/shred,if=(energy>=80|buff.omen_of_clarity.up|buff.berserk.up|cooldown.tigers_fury.remains<=3)
# actions+=/shred,time_to_die<=9
# actions+=/shred,cp<=0,savage_roar<=2
if {Mana(more 79) or BuffPresent(OMEN) or TargetDeadIn(less 10) or BuffPresent(BERSERK) or BuffExpires(TIGER 3) or TargetDeadIn(less 10) or {ComboPoints(less 1) and BuffExpires(ROAR 2)}} Spell(SHRED)
}
}
AddIcon help=main {
if Stance(3) { # Cat Form
# actions+=/savage_roar,cp>=1,savage_roar<=1
if {ComboPoints(more 0) and BuffExpires(ROAR 0)} Spell(ROAR)

# actions+=/savage_roar,if=buff.combo_points.stack>=3&dot.rip.remains-buff.savage_roar.remains>=0&buff.savage_roar.remains<=8
if {ComboPoints(more 2) and TargetDebuffPresent(RIP mine=1) and more than 1s between TargetDebuffExpires(RIP mine=1) and BuffExpires(ROAR)} unless BuffPresent(ROAR 9) Spell(ROAR)

# actions+=/savage_roar,if=buff.combo_points.stack>=3&buff.savage_roar.remains-dot.rip.remains<=3&buff.savage_roar.remains<=8
if {ComboPoints(more 2) and TargetDebuffPresent(RIP mine=1) and at most 3s between BuffExpires(ROAR) and TargetDebuffExpires(RIP mine=1)} unless BuffPresent(ROAR 9) Spell(ROAR)

# actions+=/shred,cp<=4,extend_rip=1,rip<=3
if {ComboPoints(less 4) and TargetDebuffPresent(RIP mine=1) and TargetDebuffExpires(RIP 4 mine=1) and Counter(ripshreds less 3)} Spell(SHRED)

# actions+=/rip,cp>=5,time_to_die>=6
# actions+=/ferocious_bite,cp>=5,time_to_die<=6
# actions+=/ferocious_bite,cp>=5,rip>=8,savage_roar>=11
if {ComboPoints(more 4)} {
if {TargetDeadIn(less 7) or {TargetDebuffPresent(RIP 8 mine=1) and BuffPresent(ROAR 11)}} Spell(BITE)
if {TargetDeadIn(more 5) and TargetDebuffExpires(RIP 0 mine=1)} Spell(RIP)
}

# actions+=/mangle_cat,mangle<=1
if CheckBoxOn(CheckBoxMangle) and {TargetDebuffExpires(MANGLE 1) and TargetDebuffExpires(MANGLEB 1) and TargetDebuffExpires(TRAUMA 1)} Spell(MANGLE)

# actions+=/rake,time_to_die>=9
unless {TargetDebuffPresent(RAKE mine=1)} if TargetDeadIn(more 8) Spell(RAKE)
}
}

Mar 252010
 

In today’s post, I’m starting a series that will look at addons that can help your kitty raid performance. For Part 1, I’ll look at a few examples of buff/debuff trackers; for Part 2, I’ll run down some rotation helpers; and in Part 3, I’ll talk about some ways to increase your utility.

Why use a custom buff/debuff tracker?

Let’s face it…the default UI is pretty horrible for tracking buffs/debuffs. 3.3 is considerably improved from previous versions, but it still uses the icon-based scheme that makes finding specific information quickly very difficult. The feral rotation is VERY dependent on maintaining a self-buff and three enemy debuffs; the direct attacks are low-priority. As such, I’ve pulled together three different buff/debuff trackers, all of which I recommend. (The following screenshots all reflect the same state, with Rip/Rake/Mangle/FFF up, SR just having dropped, and TF/Berserk off CD.)

Cat’s Eye

One of the posters in the forums recommended Cat’s Eye, which I’d never heard of. I downloaded it and was very impressed with the intuitive nature of the frame, straight out of the box. Across the top, you have a easy-to-understand combo point display and current attack power representation. Underneath, you have a nicely formatted window, with icons and color-coded bars. By default, green represents an active buff/debuff, blue represents a missing buff/debuff or ability waiting to be used, and red (not shown here) represents an ability not ready to be used (low on energy, on cooldown, not enough CP’s, etc.) The colors are all adjustable, as is frame size, bar order, etc. Not shown is the icon for an OOC proc, which shows up as a white bubble next to the CP display. (The horizontal bars represent player and target health, respectively.)  This is a great minimalistic solution for those who don’t want to do a lot of configuring. The only downsides: no bear support, and it hasn’t been updated in a while (but it works great still).

BadKitty

BadKitty’s been around for a while. I’ve tried it previously and disliked it, but the recent customization options have made it quite a bit better, and worthy of consideration. BK is divided up into two freely movable modules- Bars (on the left) and Warnings on the right. The bars section is notable for including a few extra features (Shred Count for tracking Glyph of Shred usage, and Instant Nature for the Predator’s Swiftness proc). The warnings section, as seen to the right, depicts the information from the bars in icon format, with OOC procs in the center. All the bars and warnings can be reordered/shown/hidden, as well as colors/fonts customized to suit. It also has full bear support, which is great if you tank as well. It’s kept well up to date and has an active userbase…recommended. (EDIT: It appears it’s been updated to track trinket CD’s as well).

Need to Know

Need to Know is the buff/debuff tracker that I currently use. It’s not quite as plug-and-play as the other two trackers here, but the open design makes it usable for any class (I use it on my lock to track DoTs, on my pally to track Art of War procs, etc). It’s very simple to configure everything, as it’s all right-click menus. You’ll only need to enter the interface screen once to configure how many bars/bargroups you want. Tracks Rip increases via Shred glyph, can track multiple spells per bar (ie. Mangle (Cat)/Mangle (Bear)), can track trinket CD’s, and can be set up differently for dual-specs. (I track CP’s on my playerframe, and  Zerk/TF CD’s via Ovale, which I’ll cover in part 2.) The only thing I dislike about NTK is the inability to reorder bars once configured…other than that, it’s a great addon.

Summary

Any of these are good addons…pick the one you like and roll with it. The important thing is knowing which buffs/debuffs you need to put up, and debuff durations to sync with movement. None of these addons will tell you what to do, though…you’ll have to come up with a rotation on your own. In Part 2, I’ll look at Ovale and Feral By Night, addons that will help you learn which buttons to press to maximize your DPS.

Edit:

Several people in the comments have suggested others: here’s a quick roundup. (I don’t have time to install and SS these myself, so I’m just showing the pics from Curse.)

Droodfocus

Droodfocus looks to be very customizable, and can track extra stuff, including a threat bar and an icon warning system to tell you whether you’re attacking from the front or out of range. This actually looks really awesome…I’ll be giving this a try.

CatRotationHelper

Icons with cooldowns, works for both Cat and Bear.

As i mentioned in my comment, there are TONS of generic buff/debuff/cooldown monitor addons, too many to cover here. (Off the top of my head, PowerAuras and TellMeWhen are icon-based; DoTimer, ForteXorcist, ClassTimers, ButtonTimers.) If anyone knows of more cat-specific addons, I’ll be happy to add them to either this post or a later part.

Mar 232010
 

The official 3.3.3 patchnotes have been released. (wow.com) Ability-wise, there’s no change from the PTR changes previously discussed, but let’s look at some bugfixes.

  • Cower: This ability can no longer trigger effects on items that trigger from melee weapon attacks.

Yay, the world’s most useless ability now became even more useless.

  • Frenzied Regeneration: This ability is no longer noted as Rank 1 (it has no subsequent ranks).
  • Hurricane: If a druid begins casting this spell while in Bear Form, Dire Bear Form, or Cat Form, the spell will now cast as normal instead of immediately canceling the channel.

Not sure why you’d cast Hurricane out of a feral form. (BG’s maybe to proc the 20% melee swing debuff?) My question is, did they fix the casting of it out of tree form, which is much more likely?

  • Lifebloom: The final bloom heal from this spell can no longer trigger talents, trinkets, and set bonuses for the player being healed.
  • Rake: This ability will now always land. It will no longer sometimes give a “more powerful spell” error message.

YES. Now, refreshing Rake early is generally bad…but trying to refresh Rake early because you have to leave the target and not being able to sucked.

  • Tier-10 Balance 4-Piece Set Bonus: Corrected a grammatical error in tooltip.
  • Tier-10 Restoration 4-Piece Set Bonus: The Rejuvenation effect caused by this set bonus can now be overwritten by the druid’s own Rejuvenation spell casts. In addition, the combat log tooltip for this Rejuvenation effect no longer spuriously claims it requires Tree of Life Form.
  • Tranquility: The combat log tooltip for this ability will no longer spuriously claim a range of 100 yards.
  • Tree of Life Form: Corrected a misspelling in the tooltip.
  • Typhoon: Lower ranks of this spell displayed incorrect damage information on tooltips.

A few other notable fixes:

This one made me laugh just a little bit. They’re really trying to get people to use it (I don’t think it’ll be successful, but who knows). I predict 3.3.4′s patchnotes will say “Lightwell: Redesigned. Any friendly player who use the Lightwell will now receive a [Tasty Cookie] in addition to the healing effect.”

  • Shattering Throw: This ability can now be a critical strike.

This is a good as time as any to point out that this warrior PvP ability is a decent rDPS buff, especially during Hero/BL, as it stacks with Sunder. (Sunder reduces enemy armor to 80%, which is then modified by character ArPen; Sunder + Shatter reduces this to 60% pre-ArPen.)

Mar 222010
 

With 3.3 probably coming tomorrow, I’d like to remind everyone of the two changes we’re interested in: Mangle debuff duration buffed to 60s (from 12s) and the Glyph of Mangle being redesigned to give a flat +10% damage boost. I’ve already written on the overall DPS buff most ferals will see from this, but I’d like to quickly address something else. Some on the forums have raised the possibility of abandoning Shred entirely and shifting to a purely Mangle-based rotation (and switching the Shred glyph for a Mangle glyph). It’s not a horrible idea. It’s certainly a large DPS reduction (3-5%, depending on gear)….however, for fights where you have to unavoidably DPS from the front, or fights that are HEAVY movement/add fights, it may be superior. I wouldn’t recommend it for any fight in ICC currently, except maybe Dreamwalker…but who knows what Ruby Sanctum will look like.