May 182010
 

I’m working on a post detailing how Simulationcraft is, by far, your best friend when optimizing your rotation/gear for specific encounters. In the meantime, here’s a sneak preview of my current optimal priority list, given my current gear. It looks complicated…and it is, sorry, can’t sugarcoat it really, but just read from the top down and go line-by-line. (Yay for superfluous advice.) This may not be optimal for everyone; some will want to FB more (high ArPen folks), some less (ICC 10). More FB’s = less Rip/Rake uptime. This list assumes you never clip DoTs.

1. Feral Faerie Fire, if FF/FFF down.
2. Tiger’s Fury, if available. (Energy below 30.)
3. Berserk, if available. (Energy between 80 and 90.)
4. If SR is down, immediately SR with any CP.
5. Shred on Omen of Clarity proc.
6. Rip if you have 5 CP’s.
7. Mangle if Mangle debuff is down.
8. Fun one: If there is less then 9 seconds on SR and Rip will expire 3 seconds or less before SR, refresh SR if you have 3 or more CP’s. (Desyncs timers to give you time to rebuild CP’s to reapply Rip with little downtime. I’m still playing with the logic on this one to determine an optimal setting. If you relax the SR remaining condition or the sync condition, you’ll refresh SR more often, which leads to better Rip uptime but wasted CP’s and thus less FB’s.)
9. FB with 5 CP’s if Rip and SR have at least 12 seconds remaining or target will die in 5 seconds or less. (Another place to mess with timers to balance FB/Rip.)
10. If Rip has less than 4 seconds and you haven’t Shredded 3 times yet (Glyph of Shred), Shred, unless SR will expire within 3 seconds.
11. Rake.
12. Shred, if less than 4 CP’s or Rip has more than 1 second left, AND if Rake has more than 1 second left, AND if energy is greater then 80, or TF is within 3s of going off cooldown, or you’re berserked.
13. Shred if target will die within 10 seconds, or you have 0 CP’s and SR is about to expire/expired.
14. Otherwise wait to regain energy.

I’ll be rewriting an Ovale script to incorporate this logic, when I have the chance. I’ve posted the Simulationcraft actionlist in the forums if people would like to modify it for their own toon.

 Posted by at 12:21 am
May 162010
 

This post incorporates material from the Cataclysm Alpha. If that bothers you, please stop reading now.

Every sign points to there being a HUGE gear reset for Cata. Check this combat rating table out: (gathered by Whitetooth, author of the Ratingbuster addon, so pretty credible)

60 70 80 81 82 83 84 85
melee hit 10 15.769 32.79 46.696 66.499 94.701 134.862 192.056
spell hit 8 12.615 26.232 37.357 53.199 75.76 107.89 153.645
crit 14 22.077 45.906 65.374 93.099 132.581 188.807 268.878
haste 10 15.769 32.79 46.696 66.499 94.701 134.862 192.056

Source: http://elitistjerks.com/f15/t29453-combat_ratings_level_80_a/p22/#post1639830

I’ll be talking about this more later, but yes, that’s 269 crit and 192 melee hit per 1%. Wow. If these ratings remain (and the penalties for attacking higher level mobs remain the same) then we’re looking at 1500ish hit for hitcap. My guess is that actually capping a stat will be exceedingly rare (which is in line with previous blue posts) With the ratings going stratospheric from 80-85, I could see DPS actually declining over those levels. I don’t think that’s Blizzard‘s plan: they never want you to feel like you’re losing power, but they did want to rein in the rate of growth. In order to keep DPS relatively constant from 80-85, we’re going to need a lot of secondary stats on our gear.

Need more proof? How about the blue announcement that Dense Embersilk Bandages will heal 34,800 HP over 8s? Either bandages are going to be totally OP, or we’re looking at a dramatic increase in HP. (For comparison, Heavy Frostweave was 5,800 HP over 8 seconds.) Even accepting that dense bandages are a third tier of bandage not found in WOTLK, that’s still a significant bump. My guess is that they’re going to increase the amount of HP from +stam, probably to something like 20HP (instead of 10HP now). No clue as to actual numbers, but I’d say tanks at about 90K HP after the patch, with DPS around 60K, equalized between armor classes. At the end of Cata, tanks will be up to the 150K mark, with DPS at 100K or so.

For ferals, we’ll be back to the days of much slower CP generation, which eliminates FB from our rotations (yay) and decreases bleed uptime (boo). With our third mastery bonus being Bleed Damage increases, we may be in a spot where we have to look at other than 5-CP rips to maximize uptime. (Yes, this is handwavy.) Either way, ArPen stacking is dead. Of course, the whole archeology thing could change that up…hoping to see some more on that soon. As I’ve previously mentioned, I think movement is going to play a large role in Cata ( just like…Defile…oh god…), so we”ll be looking at a lot more focus on getting DoTs up quickly.

By the way, thanks to everyone who commented on my LK frustration post. The day after I posted that, the wow.com topic of the day was about people being stuck on LK…so I know we’re not alone. That’s the hidden downside of rolling a lockout, I suppose, especially if you get stuck in the same place. This reminds me a bit of Maly in my old guild, where we were consistently stuck on phase 3…it SUCKS to grind out the first few phases every time, to repeatedly die in P3. WoW needs a skip-forward button sometimes…a “hey, we’ve mastered this section, can we start the fight in P3?”

 Posted by at 6:04 pm
May 132010
 

It’s been almost a week since my last post. Obviously, I’ve been exceptionally uninspired to write. Why? Well, our guild has been wiping to the Defile boss/Infest boss on LK25 for the past few weeks now (been on him for a month this week), and I feel very powerless to affect the outcome. I’ve consistently been top3 in DPS on LK, I’ve gotten off my Maims on Valks when called…and that’s about it. I don’t know what else I can do. I feel like we’re missing something obvious when I see guilds one-shotting it, and we’ve seen phase 3 ONCE…but I really don’t know what to change. I’ve usually blogged on subjects that related to my current interest (hey, let’s be a feral tank! hey, let’s gear feral DPS!)…and right now, there’s not much in WoW to draw me. I haven’t touched my druid in a week. Once we get LK down, I’ll be taking a break for a while, I think.

Sorry for a bit of a downer post…but I’m trying to write something to break the writer’s block, so please bear with me. :) Apparently, my notification of new posts on the forum broke also, so if you’ve posted there in the past two weeks, I’m off to go read those over now. :P

 Posted by at 2:31 pm
May 072010
 

So, apparently the F&F alpha client got leaked (spoilers), and info from it is flowing out. I understand many people don’t want to be spoiled by the AMAZING changes in the feral tree, so feel free to leave now…otherwise scroll down.

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Ready?

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Here it is…

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PRIMAL PRECISION NO LONGER REFUNDS ENERGY ON A MISS!

Woo freakin hoo. :) See for yourself here. Obviously, they haven’t really gotten to the feral tree yet…and I wouldn’t count on it staying like that, either, as a talent that just boosts your expertise seems to be exactly the thing they’re trying to get away from. If they do permanently get rid of the energy refund on miss, though, then that will definitely increase the value of hit/exp relative to other stats.

I’m more interested (and somewhat bummed) about the changes in our sub-tree, resto. Naturalist got bumped down a tier…which means in order to get it, we’ll need to spend at least 15 points there (and you’ll definitely be spending 18, to pick up OOC and Master Shapeshifter). That doesn’t pose a lot of problems for cats, but it possibly will for bears, and it puts a very large crimp in any hybrid builds.

Of course, this is alpha, things will change, etc. Carry on. (Hey, I’m happy, we successfully reached Phase 3 on LK last night. Well, semi-successfully. He stopped casting Remorseless Winter before the last person died, anyway.) Now that we’ve moved away from the “stack up and then blame people who don’t run Defile away fast enough” strategy to the “spread out for Defile and then blame people who don’t run away from person with Defile strategy,” things have gotten much better. Now we have to figure out why our slows keep dropping off the Valkyrs. Yay.

 Posted by at 11:18 pm
May 032010
 

Still wiping on Defile. Move along (the right direction), please.

Oh, you want a feral tip? On LK, wait until he’s around 72%, and build and save your 5CP. When he runs off to start P1.5, run to the edge, wait a few secs, then hit Savage Roar as the Raging is spawning. You should only need to refresh it once (maybe twice.) I save Berserk for the second Valk spawn…Berserked Swipe (get off a 5cp SR on LK prior) can really help with DPS here, since it’s such a PITA. Spec IW.

Didn’t farm my eggs for cakes for Children’s Week this year…forgot about it, honestly. Eggs are somewhat difficult to farm (quickly) for Alliance. Best place is right outside Silvermoon. Happily, I just need to finish up these achievements for my VPD. I’ll probably solo Ymiron later in the week…I’ve soloed Skadi before, which was fairly difficult, but Ymiron should be…wait for it…cake.

 Posted by at 1:02 am
Apr 272010
 

Well, I was considering writing a post about soloing one boss in ZA this weekend, and picking up Mojo (sadly, bears don’t do well solo against bleeds or magic damage). I also considering writing a post about how our 25-man LK raid successfully killed the first Val’kyr spawn and dodged the first Defile with no deaths…once. (Now we’ve got to figure out how to handle healer positioning for Infest.) However, the raiding world changed today, as Blizzard announced dramatic new plans for raid structuring in Cataclysm. In brief:

  • 10’s and 25’s will share a lockout and drop the exact same gear. It may be possible for raidleaders to switch between 25-man and 10-man modes for different bosses.
  • 25’s will drop a higher proportion of gear to compensate for the logistical difficulties of forming them. Other 25-specific rewards are still TBD.
  • Achievements will be independent of raid size.
  • 10’s and 25’s will be much closer in difficulty.

Wow. Just wow. Blizz’s stated goal is they want people to go where they enjoy- they want people who like 10’s to do 10’s, they want people who like 25’s to do 25’s, and not feel shoehorned into the other type because of progression demands. Hypothetically, this will reduce burnout (less raiding + slower progression). So, what happens when they do this? Let’s look at some different player perspectives.

  • Casual-Raiding Carl will struggle at first, as there will be very few raiding PUG’s. (No more bored guild raiders pugging the opposite size.) However, he’ll probably be occupied in 5-man content for a while; and once he’s ready to raid, there should be many more earlier-tier PUG’s as people gear alts. These PUG’s will almost uniformly be 10-man; nobody will want to spend the extra time and effort for the same return.
  • Hardcore Harry will stick to 25’s at first, for the extra gear potential. If 10’s turn out easier, though? /wave.
  • Ten-Strict Tom will be ecstatic. Hopefully, his guild’s efforts will finally be seen as worthy.
  • Average 25=Man Raider Annie will stick it out for a while; however, when progression becomes difficult, and all the normal raider issues crop up (RL, Internet problems, etc.)…she’ll be mighty tempted to listen to calls to split the guild into two 10-man teams.
  • Officer Olivia will ask, seriously, if it’s worth the effort to field a full 25-man roster every raid night, when 2×10 offers much more flexibility. The temptation will be very strong to field a top 10 “A-Team” and a lesser “B-Team.”

Having raided (and recruited for) both 10 and 25-man, if you take the gear advantage away, I don’t see what 25-man has to offer. Is the “epic” feeling worth the logistical headaches, the multiplied organizational time, the reduced FPS, etc? It’s up to you.

That said, I HIGHLY doubt that Blizzard will be able to balance the difficulty of the two, without overly homogenizing classes or encounters. Void zones mechanics favor 10’s (more space to move…see Defile.) Raid composition mechanics can cause vast swings in difficulty (some mechanics become much easier with certain classes…see Disc Priests and Infest.)

Overall, though, I’m largely in favor of this change. Combined with the info about a new weekly cap on top-tier “badges” (points), this shows that Bliz is really trying to slow down content and reduce burnout…which is great in my book.

Apr 242010
 

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

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

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

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

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

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