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.

Mar 192010
 

Today, I’d like to take a look at the trinkets available to kitties in 3.3, and do some analysis on the best choices available. (Yes, I’m working on a post on DPS rotation mods as well, but that requires screenshots and installing and stuff, so that’ll take a few days.) There’s quite a few choices out there…some of the old items remain quite good, however. Let’s check them out. First, the list, sorted by location:

Before we jump in, the largest factor affecting the value of trinkets for ICC25 raiders is the critcap. Many of these trinkets have or proc crit. Crit has always been a decent stat for us…not as good as Agi or ArP, but better than anything else (not counting Str, since that’s not usually found as a secondary stat on leather). Once you reach the crit cap for white attacks, however (pretty easy in ICC25 gear), then crit drops in effectiveness. It’s not “bad,” so to speak, since it still affects your yellow attacks (especially with the 4pT10 bonus) but it becomes a worse stat to stack. At this point, you’ll be preferring ArPen proc trinkets until your ArPen is high enough, then Haste or AP.

ICC:

ICC gives you three trinkets- one great, one meh, and one crap. Deathbringer’s Will is by far the BiS trinket for ferals. The static ArP really helps with stacking ArP (as any feral raiding ICC25 should be trying to do), and all of the procs are good for you. (Plus, you can shift to flight form and fly as a Taunka, stealth as a Taunka, etc. Really cool.) You’ll have to fight several others for a chance at it, though. Sadly, I haven’t seen one drop the past four weeks. The Tiny Abomination in a Jar is absolute crap, though. Don’t touch it. The proc’ed Mote attack uses your unimproved paw damage, and can’t proc OOC. It’s about as strong as a blue for us…just ew. Finally, the Whispering Fanged Skull from 10M is very good. Unfortunately, it has +crit (see above.) Good for ICC10, but falls off a bit after that.

TOC:

Just like ICC, you have one great trinket and one mediocre. Death’s Verdict/Choice is an excellent trinket (currently my #2). Unfortunately, it has the same critcap problem as the WFS since it procs agility. The agi proc is so massive, though, that the increase in special attack crits mostly compensate. Victor’s Call/VOTF from 10M is pretty bad, unless you’re very well geared and have 0 expertise (ie the lack of expertise is causing you to be prematurely crit-capped).

Ulduar:

Ulduar is trinket heaven, especially on hard mode. The cream of the crop here is the Mjolnir Runestone. Of the three ArP proc trinkets, this is the best in most situations, and remains a very good trinket until your ArP level is high enough to make the proc less useful. It’s better than the Scorpion since it procs on hit, not crit, giving it a better uptime. Comet’s Trail is also very good, and has no cap issues, but it’s not exactly easy to get (Algalon 25 drop). Blood of the Old God is decent, but the large amount of +hit makes it hard to use fully. If you can use it and keep under the +hit cap, it’s pretty good. The rest? Dark Matter is good but will critcap you very quickly (612 crit rating proc? Ouch), and it’s hard to get (Algalon 10).  Wrathstone and Pyrite Infuser are obsolete, though they’re still decent and better than some other options.

Naxx:

Grim Toll is generally the worst of the three ArP trinkets, but it actually retains its value a bit longer. T10 gear tends to lack hit in favor of crit; if you’re critcapped, then GT can be used in place of MR or NES, and actually is the superior option (especially if you have enough ArP that you waste some of the proc from MR or NES). There’s several other trinkets here that are decent for starting ferals, though finding a Naxx run is almost impossible these days.

5-mans:

Besides some blue trinkets from the normal instances, there’s two you’re looking for: The Needle-Encrusted Scorpion from H FOS and the Banner of Victory from N TOC5. As previously mentioned, the Scorpion is a great trinket and remains competitive up though ICC25; however, it’s not as good as the Runestone, and depending on your situation, may be worse then Grim Toll. The Banner is a great starter trinket, seeing as you can grind N TOC until you get it- be prepared for a wait, though, because it only has a 7.5% drop rate.

Badges/Crafted:

The real star here is the Herkuml War Token. It’s expensive (60 EoF’s) but it’s currently the #2 BIS trinket, once you have enough ArP to devalue the ArP proc trinkets. Haste scales with haste and has no cap issues (so you really need the WF/IIT buffs to make this effective, but it’ll keep getting better). Shard of the Crystal Heart and Mark of Supremacy are much easier to obtain, but they’re pretty mediocre. They have tons of +hit, which isn’t a great stat for ferals at early gear levels…and once you get to higher gear levels, you’ll have access to better anyway. It’s an option if you’re unlucky with drops, I suppose. If you’re just starting out, the Mirror of Truth is still a very decent trinket, and cheap as well. Finally, the Darkmoon Card: Greatness remains very good for its item level, and it’s also a great tanking trinket. I highly recommend new feral druids picking one of these up if you can afford it.

Top 5 List/Conclusion:

To conclude, I’ve come up with three different Top 5 lists. Why 3? Well, a list including ICC 25 items isn’t very useful for an new player/alt just starting heroics. :P I’ve run appropriate gearsets with appropriate buffs through Rawr, and the numbers are below (100’s of dps…so 2.5 means 250 dps…take numbers as very loose approximations).

Starter (Heroics):

  1. Needle-Encrusted Scorpion (HFOS)- 2.5
  2. Darkmoon Card: Greatness (Crafted)- 2.1
  3. Banner of Victory (N TOC)- 1.8
  4. Mark of Supremacy (50 EoT’s)- 1.7 (assuming you can use all the hit)
  5. Mirror of Truth (40 EoV’s)- 1.6

The Scorpion and the DM:G are easily your best options at this level; the others are pretty interchangeable. If I was starting over, I’d purchase the DM:G and toss some random blue/green in the other slot until I got the Scorpion.

Pugger (TOC 25/ICC 10, no access to Algalon, saving EoF’s for T10):

  1. Whispering Fanged Skull (ICC 10)- 3.9
  2. Death’s Verdict/Choice (TOC 25)- 3.8
  3. Mjolnir Runestone/Needle-Encrusted Scorpion (Uld10HM/HFOS)- 3.5
  4. Darkmoon Card: Greatness (Crafted)- 2.8
  5. Banner of Victory (N TOC)- 2.3

Not much to say here: WFS/DV (or DC)/ArP trinket…pick two.

Raider (ICC 25)

  1. Deathbringer’s Will (ICC 25)- 5.6
  2. Herkuml War Token (60 EoF’s)- 4.9 (my #1 atm)
  3. Whispering Fanged Skull (ICC 10)- 4.7
  4. Death’s Verdict/Choice (TOC 25)- 4.6  (my #2 atm)
  5. Mjolnir Runestone/Needle-Encrusted Scorpion (Uld10HM/HFOS)- 4.6

Things get interesting here. DBW is massively better than the alternatives, but #2 is pretty close. The ArP trinket can fall anywhere from #2 to #5 (or lower) depending on your current amount of ArP, among other things. If you’re just starting ICC25, then it’ll be ranked higher; once you pass the ArP softcap, its value will drop. If you get to ICC hardmodes and start shooting for the hard ArP cap, there’s not much change: Heroic DBW, DBW, Herkuml, Heroic DV/DC, Heroic WFS, WFS.

Well, that should wrap it up for trinkets until Cata! If you disagree, have questions, or whatever, post a short comment here, or feel free to use the TFD forums. Thanks for reading!

Mar 172010
 

After long hours of tweaking, I’m happy to announce that the new website is ready for your viewing pleasure. Please visit http://fluiddruid.net for continued shapeshifty goodness!

If you subscribe to this blog via RSS, the new feed address is http://feeds.feedburner.com/fluiddruid (or click the large orange button on the new website!) Please update your feedreaders, as I will not be posting to the old feed from now on.

New Features:

  • Forums! This is the part I’m most excited about. Blogs are great for one-way conversations, but they tend to be lacking for in-depth discussion. I hope to build a good-sized community of fellow WoW players here who are interested in developing their skills. (Of course, if you just want to post lolcats, that’s totally cool too.) Please let me know what you think, either via comments or on the forum. I’m still working on the forum themes…it took me 3 hours tonight to figure out why my theme wasn’t displaying any buttons. Finally realized that the board language was set to American English (enUS) but the theme images were set up for British English (en). Bah.
  • Wowhead tooltips! All those kitty gear guides that I posted previously? Now Powered by Wowhead (TM).
  • Kickin’ styles! Well, sort of. This will be my first site, so I’ve taught myself bits of CSS, PHP, and phpBB over the past few days. I now know enough to be overconfident. :)

About the Ads:

You will quickly notice a small Google Adsense box on the new website, so I’ll address that now. This is up here primarily to appease my significant other, who wants to know why I waste so much time on some silly blog. :) I get a lot of traffic from search engines from people who come here for one of my guides and disappear–this is who I am targeting these ads at. Most of my regular visitors have some sort of adblock tool installed anyway, from what I understand, so hopefully this is not an issue. The forums and RSS feed will remain ad-free. (Unless someone offers me like three figures. Yeah, I’m cheap.)

To Come:

Now that the site coding/design work is at a lull (for now), I’ve got several topics that I hope to knock out posts on soon.

  • Cat Gearing Guide, Part 4 (ICC-25): Let’s get to the good stuff.
  • Kitty Trinket Analysis: Should I use the Deathbringer’s Needle-Encrusted War Token, or the Whispering Verdict of Victory? We’ll figure it out!
  • PanzerKitty: What to Do When the Boss Likes You
  • Advanced Feline Concepts: A few tips on how to eke out extra bits of DPS on each encounter.
  • Auto John F’ing Madden: How to use Ovale to maximize your DPS
  • Why Hunters Must Die for Stealing our Weapons…err, okay, that’s enough for one day.

I’ll be adding many more sites to the blogroll…please post if I’d already talked to you, as I’ve got a lot going on right now. Enjoy the new site!

 Posted by at 11:00 pm  Tagged with:
Mar 162010
 

I haven’t put pen to paper fingers to keyboard recently on this blog, since I’ve actually buckled down and started working on a new self-hosted site for it. It’s actually up and running now, but I still have a bit more work to do on it before going public (should be sometime this week). I’ve got several topics that I’m excited to be covering.