Mar 022013
 

(From mmo-champion)

I’ve been quiet the past few weeks…because I’ve been working up my latest gear list and FAQ! There’s an excerpt below, and the full FAQ and list is here. I’ll be updating the rest of the guides on the site for 5.2 over the weekend, so look for another post soon. I’ll also be adding threads for boss discussion in the forums.


Q: Is PvP gear any good?

A: As in 5.0/5.1, PvP gear is just like offset PvE gear; the only difference is that you won’t have good socket bonuses, so knock roughly 7 points off a PvP’s ilevel when comparing it.

Q: What about weapons? When do I go from Gao-Rei to the new stuff?

A: First, keep in mind that the 5.1 upgrade (Eye of the Black Prince) can be repurchased and applied to a new weapon. That means the comparison is simply Gao-Rei + 500 agility to the ToT drop. With that, it works out pretty much as you’d expect. A normal Gao-Rei (even unupgraded) beats out a LFR Throne weapon, but is worse than a normal-mode weapon. Things are closer for the heroic Gao-Rei; it’s better than normal-mode Throne weapons, but only if it’s double-upgraded, and then only slightly.

Q: What are the stat weights looking like currently?

A: Here’s a quick snapshot of SimC with T15H (leaving out Rune since that has the potential to radically change things at the moment), normalized to AGI = 1:

  • Agi: 1.00
  • Weapon DPS: 0.95
  • Expertise/Hit: 0.43
  • Mastery: 0.42
  • Haste: 0.38
  • Crit: 0.36

Don’t get too hung up on the numbers; the takeaway is to cap hit/expertise, then stack mastery, reforging out of haste or crit as you prefer. If you want to be more exact, import your character into SimC and run your own scale factors. I’ve got an older computer and can’t run as exacting a comparison as I’d like.

Q: What trinkets are good?

A: Rune of Re-Origination is ridiculously awesome, but it requires completely redoing your reforges and it drops off Lei Shen (meaning it’s best not to plan on it for a while). For the rest, Renataki’s is the best in a vacuum, but the huge chunk of Expertise makes reforging difficult (same for the Hit on the Vicious Talisman). The haste proc on the Talisman of Bloodlust isn’t too hot, so my personal ranking is Rune > Renataki > Juju > Vicious Talisman > Talisman of Bloodlust. YMMV.

Q: What are the best VP items?

A: Well, “best” is relative…do you mean best in terms of strongest upgrade per piece, best in terms of the VP cost, or best in terms of which VP item you’re least likely to replace with raid drops? :)

In order to avoid wrapping ourselves up in too much speculation, we’ll confine our discussion to the Neutral and Friendly items: Flanker’s BattletagsVicious Talisman of the Shado-Pan Assault,  Willow-Weave Armbands, and the Seal of the Shado-Pan Assault. Obviously, you can buy the Battletags right away, so if you’re already valor capped, you might as well. That said, there’s several neckpieces and  the Battletags is the worst-itemized of the lot. The Vicious Talisman is pretty good, but Renataki’s drops off the first boss, and Bad Juju drops off the third. The armbands have the same problem as the trinket; they’re okay, but another bracer drops off the second boss. They’re both loaded with hit, too, which makes optimizing difficult.  If I had to pick, I’d rather have the VP bracers and the raid trinkets, rather than the reverse. Finally, the Seal ring is roughly equivalent to another ring that drops off the first boss…but they’re both reasonable choices, so that’s not a bad use of VP either. Basically, nothing looks super awesome, so just get whatever you need to fill in holes in RNG (which, honestly, is kind of the point).

Q: What are the set bonuses for this tier?

A: 2p: Gives your finishing moves a 15% chance per combo point to add a combo point to your target.
4p: After using Tiger’s Fury, you gain 40% increased critical strike chance on the next 3 uses of Mangle, Shred, Ferocious Bite, Ravage, and Swipe.


Remember, the full list is here.

 

Feb 082013
 

I’m done with you, LFR.

  • 8 Tsulong kills (excuse me, “redemptions”)
  • 7 Spirit Kings kills
  • 15 tokens used
  • 225+ dailies completed to accumulate said tokens
  • 1 legendary gem sitting in my bag for the past month
  • 1 feral still rocking a blue ilvl 463 staff from scenarios

Random loot is random, understandably, and I’m okay with that. That said, just a little more visibility on the numbers (hey, you need to roll a 90 or better to get loot and you rolled 27…better luck next time) would be great. Either that, or a system where items you already had were excluded from consideration, especially for bosses where they drop 3+ things for your spec.

Ugh. Now that my guild’s disappeared, I might look for a big guild that has the occasional normal-mode PUG I could jump into from time to time. Still don’t have the ability to raid on a set schedule, sadly.

Soloing

Even with these constraints, I’m still having fun with soloing. I’ve cleared all of Naxx-10 and most of Naxx-25 (can’t do Gluth, Thaddius, or Patchwerk on  25m), and am mostly finished with hard-mode Ulduar-10. Firefighter was quite entertaining. Also knocked out Obsidian Sanctum-2 drake and Ruby Sanctum on 10. Going to tackle one-light Yogg next, then move on to ToC and maybe ICC.

For Brawler’s Guild, I’ve made it all the way to Rank 7 and Dark Summoner (which is doable, but I stopped there because Battletron is likely not).

If you’re looking for more info, The latest Team Waffle podcast had Ahanss discuss some soloing things, and he’s got a great thread over at MMO-Champion discussing soloing (even if his idea of easy is pretty hard, in my view). I’ll probably be writing up my own soloing guides at some point.

Set Bonuses

I haven’t commented on the set bonuses yet, so here they are currently:

  • Druid T15 Feral 2P Bonus (New)  Gives your finishing moves a 15% chance per cp to add a cp to your target.
  • Druid T15 Feral 4P Bonus (New) After using Tiger’s Fury, you gain 40% increased critical strike chance on the next 3 uses of Mangle, Shred, Ferocious Bite, Swipe, or Ravage.

The 2-piece is just…boring? That said, it’s significantly stronger than the T14 4p set bonus (+4 sec to Rip) so you’ll want to upgrade. The 4-piece looks pretty good; a little bit of that old Stampede feel.

Other Stuff

Jan 252013
 

Man, has it really been three weeks since I updated last? What happened to my previous years where it seemed like I had boundless time for everything? (This comic applies; I am definitely in the red zone.) I don’t really have anything game-related to comment about this week, since I haven’t really been keeping up. I did fix the mysterious error that periodically was causing the page not to load, so that’s something. (Bad WordPress plugin! Bad!)

Instead, I’d like to get slightly philosophical for a moment and explore motivations. Most MMO players have heard of Richard Bartle’s “four player types” theory (if not, here’s the original article, and here’s a 30-question quiz). I’d always known I wasn’t much of a killer/socializer type, but I’d always felt I was more of an achiever. Recently, I retook the quiz, and found that “explorer” had rocketed to the top, which stunned me. I’ve never really cared about getting all the World Explorer achievements, for example. I read a little more, and realized that the term explorer covers more than just geography; it covers game systems and mechanics as well.

Now, things started to make sense. Unlike many others, my enjoyment of my game time hasn’t really been tied to multiplayer at all. I’ve done some raiding, but never really formed any lasting relationships. Instead, my enjoyment’s come from two things: understanding the game’s mechanics, and then trying to communicate that understanding to others. These days, though, the mechanics are simpler, there’s more really smart people out there explaining them (hi, Icy Veins!) and with my guild having server-transferred, I have less people I can convince to listen to my ramblings. :) Oddly enough, this leads to a paradox; I like to explain my understanding, but I don’t like to listen to other people explain their understanding, because I like figuring stuff out on my own. (At least, until I get frustrated.)

Still keeping on, though; one of the good things about patch cycles is that there’s always more stuff to figure out. Onward! (Also, if the blog turns into nothing but dungeon soloing and pet battle tips…now you know why. :))

 

Jan 042013
 

The holidays are over and I’m back at it. Did you get anything you liked under the tree/in the stocking/other typical place?

Thrash-a-doodle-doo

Stenhaldi brought up the possibility of inserting bear abilities into the feral DPS rotation; specifically, bear Thrash (which is completely separate from cat Thrash) and Maul. After much wailing and gnashing of teeth (Most of SimCs’ bugs have been squashed for DPS specs, less so for others) two simulations have shown bearThrash  to be a 10-15% DPS gain for mass AoE situations. (“Mass” is still under discussion, but it’s definitely 8+ targets, and likely 6+. Below that, tab-raking is better.)

Implementing it is pretty common-sense. You don’t want to screw up cat Thrash or your energy regen, so you simply go Bear->Thrash/Maul->Cat when the following conditions are true:

1. Will not max energy before returning to Cat Form (so sub-50 energy)
2. Bear Thrash is down or almost down
3. Cat Thrash won’t drop for the next few seconds.

It’s still a loss (or a wash anyway) for single-target, though, so don’t try it there. If you’re looking for more info on AoE rotations, check out this thread.

PTR Funsies

Expect plenty of changes to come down the pike still (I did an initial rundown a few weeks ago) but two new things to note. First, they’ve fixed the various Ursol’s Vortex bugs; no more unlimited Predatory Swiftness procs or Rip extensions in 5.2. :( Second, developers appear to be testing a change to the 2pc PvP set bonus. Instead of the 15% outdoor speed buff we’ve had since vanilla, it’s now +8sec to SR. I doubt this will happen (druid rage would be significant) but if it did go live in thie form, PvP gear would be very very competitive for PvE.

Other Stuff

  • AskMrRobot has a beta client up that recommends VP upgrades, gear recommendations based on your inventory, and optimization upgrades. Great site, and Zooper fields questions on our forum from time to time; go check it out if you haven’t already.
  • Elamari has a good roundup of various movement speed increases (and what stacks with what now) on his blog File under Feral.
Dec 302012
 

Another year in the books. Continuing the tradition I started in 2011, here’s a quick look back at what was popular/going on for the year!

Site Happenings

  • Winter: “How the **** are we supposed to burst down tendons?” I wrote up a quick guide for this, which ended up being one of the highest-traffic pages on the site. The press event (and subsequent opening of the beta) was the big news in March, and dominated discussion. I made some predictions (which turned out to be pretty good), and then shared my thoughts on the press event reveals.
  • Spring: The big site redesign went live and I started up World of Monkcraft! Sadly, I had these big dreams of being the “Icy Veins of druids/monks” until real life reminded me of responsibilities and such. Lots of beta discussion as we pushed for an additional tier of DPS talents: as you may or may not recall, the original level 90 talents had no DPS benefits. I also defended HoTW to the death against tides of angry moonkin (okay, not really) and am happy to see that it’s retained most of it’s original design.
  • Summer: I predicted the release dates of 5.0 (wrong) and MoP (right, to the day). Lots of pre-release info was written, most of which got incorporated into the guides that still need updating for 5.1. Lots of plans for full guides became…
  • Fall: Real life sucks. I spent six weeks in the hospital with my wife, snatching some occasional playtime on a 4G tethered laptop. On the bright side, Treant Form became ignitable with Patch 5.1, so that’s one dream fulfilled.

Other Games

I got back from my deployment in December, and promptly dived back into all the console and AAA PC games I’d missed out on. A quick list, roughly in the order I tackled them in:

  • WoW: Well, I guess this one has to go first, eh? Came home, jumped back into raiding, got jumped by my wife, stopped raiding (priorities :)). Still playing every week, but totally solo since I like the freedom of calling it quits at any moment.
  • Portal 2: I ended up playing this a LOT because my son loved it (he called it the “robot game” and loved it when I knocked over turrets and things). Great game, never got a chance to try the co-op.
  • Saints Row 3: Good GTA-style game,reminded me a lot of Vice City, which was my favorite in the series (not coincidentally, the last one before they starting taking it “seriously.”) Unfortunately, the multiplayer was buggy as crap and the storyline was hokey. Still good fun.
  • Rift: Hit up a free-trial weekend. Great game, interesting raiding scene, overall good but no room in my heart for what is essentially a prettier clone of Burning Crusade.
  • Red Dead Redemption: Tried it, couldn’t get into it. Too Serious(TM).
  • Super Mario Galaxy 2: Another one of my son’s favorites, and mine as well (though I think I preferred the first SMG).
  • Kingdom of Amalur: Even though it got overshadowed by the collapse of 38 Studios later in the year, this is actually a really good game with some minor flaws (that sadly will never get patched). Play it on hard to postpone the feeling of getting too OP for the content.
  • Skyrim: Played at a friend’s house for an hour or two. I’m just not a sandbox gamer, I guess; the combat mechanics felt terrible compared to something like Dark Souls, and I just lost interest a few hours in. That’s also about where I stopped playing Oblivion, too.
  • Mass Effect 3: Man, this series went and changed fast. The original ME was one of my all-time favorites, even though the RPG mechanics were somewhat awkward. ME2 simplified things, but had some cool plot moments and coherence; ME3 became a corridor shooter with sci-fi elements and a rushed ending that pissed everyone off. (A “good” corridor shooter, mind you, but a huge departure from ME1.)
  • SWTOR: Free trial weekend. Ugly art, dated UI, boring storyline (apparently, the non-Jedi are better). Ugh. Now that it’s F2P, may give it anothe shot.
  • Arkham Asylum/Arkham City: Played both of them, loved them both to bits. Everybody designing a third-person action game needs to take notes from how they did combat. (Yes, Assassin’s Creed 3, I’m looking at you.)
  • Bastion: Fun, but I didn’t find it as groundbreaking as everyone else said.
  • Diablo 3: This is what happens when you design a game by committee. It wasn’t a bad game, but the planning for longevity was really poor, and the always-online requirement for single-player mode…yes, I know, RMT is bad, but so is a million people not buying your game over the long-term because the word-of-mouth was terrible.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles: This was an amazing RPG for the Wii. Sadly, I no longer have time for amazing console RPG’s. :(
  • Orcs Must Die/OMD2: Played the heck out of these. Great action/strategy titles. Less quantity but more quality than Dungeon Defenders.
  • Fallout 3: *crash*
  • Guild Wars 2: I had a really good time in the beta with this, but it really strikes me more as a single-player game with multiplayer elements than an MMO. That means I can wait for a price drop.
  • Borderlands 2: Scratches the checklist part of my brain perfectly. Still playing this actively; am about level 38ish.
  • XCOM: Man, I loved the original X-Com, and this is like a perfect redesign. The only thing I don’t like is not having time to burn attempting to complete a playthrough on the hardest difficulty setting.
  • Planetside 2: I’ve been playing a bit of this recently. I find the give-and-take of the territory and the constant battles to be fascinating; I wish the Battlefield series implemented something like this. I’ll stop playing in a few weeks when I remember how bad I am at multiplayer FPS’s.

If I had to pick a GOTY…hmm. Arkham City. Yes, I know it came out in 2011, but I only played it this year, so it works for me.

The Future (ooh, scary)

Well, last year, I was planning on taking the blog big-time, and that didn’t pan out so well. Now? We’ll just take it a week at a time. I’ve got another deployment coming up soon, so I’ll be stockpiling lots of indie games for that, I suppose. We’ll see what happens. In the meantime, if you’re still reading this, thank you for visiting! Have a happy 2013!

 Posted by at 4:44 am
Dec 212012
 

So, I was preparing some sparse notes, when…

Patch 5.2′s on the PTR! Changes! Discussion! Yay!

(Below is my quick parse and analysis of the changes, with the standard disclaimer that dataminers gonna datamine; don’t make it real.)

Talents

  • Displacer Beast no longer activates Prowl; instead increases the Druid’s movement speed for 4 seconds. (Well, THAT’s a little more useful. It’s now basically a monk roll, and the movement speed makes it useful as a PvP getaway tool for the caster druids.)
  • Cenarion Ward’s healing increased by 100%. (That just got tossed back into the discussion as a viable talent. Could be interesting if combined with DoC.)
  • Soul of the Forest‘s effect increased for Balance (post-Eclipse energy increased to 40 from 20), Guardian (3 rage from Mangle, instead of 2) and Restoration (haste buff after Swiftmend increased to 75%). (Now, I’m not as up on theorycraft for the non-feral specs, but the balance one seems pretty strong at first glance, especially because Incarnation is losing a bit of value due to the NV change. The rage buff for Guardians is still pretty crap, since most rage comes from autoattacks/crits. Resto…meh, depending on how much it boosts WG throughput.)
  • Mass Entanglement cooldown reduced from 2 minutes to 30 seconds. (RBG options just got a bit more interesting.)
  • Typhoon cooldown increased from 20 seconds to 30 seconds. (See above.)
  • Nature’s Vigil now increases damage/healing by 10% (was 20%) but has a 90s CD (was 180s). 25% off-healing/off-damage buff is unchanged.(This is interesting. DPS/PvP druids will dislike this because the value of the Incarnation+NV combo is diminished. From a off-healing (or off-damage) POV, though, you now get 33% uptime on the 25% buff, instead of 16.66%. That has a few potential applications.)

Bears (Ask @riftmaker, not me)

  • Thrash removed from Balance/Restoration Druids in Bear Form. (Shrug.)
  • Initial mastery bonus (+armor) increased from 10% to 12%. (No clue if they’re increasing scaling as well. If not, it’s just a small armor buff. If they are, mastery probably jumps to the front of the pack for hard-mode bears.)
  • The heal from Frenzied Regeneration increased by 20%. (I’ll let Arielle handle this one, since I know nothing about how well bears are scaling right now.)

Last but not least: MOTW and Revive got their mana costs slashed. Hurray for rebuffing in combat (and being able to rez two people back-to-back for non-resto!) Anything I missed?

(Oh, and one of these days I’m going to go update the Feral guide on the site/WoW forums. May proceed faster if cookies are submitted, just an FYI.)

UPDATE: Official (draft) notes posted. Things the datamine missed/got wrong:

  • Cyclone now has a 30 second cooldown and shares DR with a lot of stuff. (Have to think about this one; more later.)
  • Symbiosis Shattering Blow now has a cast time.
  • Mastery does now scale better, which does make mastery the god stat for bears.
  • Rejuv gets a 9% mana cost reduction, which should help Resto out.
  • Faerie Swarm now can be placed on multiple targets.
  • Force of Nature treants buffed (to an unknown degree, will have to look at this more closely).
Dec 152012
 

A I mentioned on WoM, I’ve been struggling with writer’s block lately. As I did there, I’m going to designate one day a week where I MUST write something (even if I think it’s terrible) in order to get something out there, even if it’s just an aggregation of links I find interesting.

(EDIT: Of course I would write this and then forget to hit Publish. That’s not very interesting. So, I added an interesting story to the d’oh thread linked below. :))

Rip Bug (Error in your Favor; Collect DPS)

So, I’ve deliberately kept quiet on this for a little bit to give those that found it some time to play with it, but it’s time to go public. :)

Stenhaldi (and others) discovered that if you cast Rip on targets inside an Ursol’s Vortex, that Rip becomes infinitely extendable via Shreds instead of just  That means you can prep a super-Rip (via trinkets, potion, DoC, etc.), apply it, and keep it rolling for as long as your energy/OoC procs hold out.

This isn’t gamebreaking by any means, as you won’t have the energy to keep the Rip rolling once Berserk/Heroism is over, but it’s certainly a damage gain. I’ve seen DPS increase estimates from 5% to 20%. Don’t get accustomed to it though, it’ll get hotfixed fairly soon.

More in the forum thread.

Talent/Trinket Rankings and Stat Weights

This thread is epic enough that it’s worth an article of its own, but I’ll just highlight it here and let you go read. Big thanks to aggixx for putting all this together.

Other Stuff

  • Weapons: N Tsulong’s staff (w/epic gem) beats H Spirit Kings polearm, LFR staff w/gem beats N polearm. Seeing that question a lot.
  • If you’re looking to spend VP on upgrades: Weapon >>> Trinkets > Other stuff. Of course, do your research and don’t upgrade things that you’ll be able to get a dropped upgrade for.
  • The d’oh thread keeps on rolling. :) Want to share about something silly you did during a raid? Post!
  • A good discussion on my forums about tips for harder bosses in Brawler’s Guild. (Need to figure out how much invites are running for that…but I may just wait until 5.2, as the consensus seems to be that you need raiding gear to finish through Rank 8.)
  • Congratulations to kaiadam (aka Dought) of our forums for snagging the World First Glory of the Pandaria Raider as part of his guild, Midwinter!
 Posted by at 8:30 am
Nov 282012
 

The only significant Druid change in patch 5.1 is the addition of Empowered Maul for Guardians, which Arielle over at TIB has already covered extensively, and Symbiosis buffs coming back for tanks. (All the ability “changes” are just tooltip fixes.)

So, instead of blathering, check this out (h/t Sunfyre for finding this). Treant Form + Fire = TOASTY! (someone needs to check if this works, that’d take this past awesome to hell yeah)

 Posted by at 1:44 am
Nov 182012
 

(x-posted on TFD and WoM)

One of the perks of an enforced hiatus to any activity is the ability to gain some perspective. It’s been a few weeks since I’ve logged in or done any writing. I expected to feel compelled to come back; oddly, though, I’ve felt almost relieved at the lack of pressure. Why has WoW (which, y’know, is supposed to be fun) become funless for me?

Well, no matter how I slice it, I keep coming back to the same point: it’s a multiplayer game. (Duh.) While the game offers tons of singleplayer endgame content (and I include things like random 5-mans/LFR as singleplayer, because you’re not really interacting with anyone there at any serious level), let’s face it; most of those experiences are nothing more than time grinds to obtain stuff. Sure, it’s stronger stuff, or prettier stuff, which is nice, but that doesn’t change the fact that the gameplay itself to get there is mostly an exercise in tedium. Repeating content is fun once or twice, but that’s it.

The worst part: it didn’t have to be this way. Unfortunately, in the name of “fairness,” Blizzard has elected to balance single-player progression solely on time invested, and not player skill. Gone are the group quests, soloable by a good, determined player. Gone are the large gold rewards earned from running dungeons solo (yes, AoE looting compensates slightly, but only just). Etc. The only difficult challenge I’ve had this expansion has been rare elites, and their non-scaling nature means the difficulty curve for those drops off quickly as well. I’m holding out hope for Brawler’s Guild, but unless they do a complete 180 on their current stance, I won’t be seeing that content for some time.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m perfectly okay with Blizzard taking this stance, and agree completely that it’s my erratic schedule that’s at fault, not Blizzard, for why I’m not “playing like I’m supposed to.”  I’d love to do a few challenge modes, for example, but I’m still not at the point where I can agree to set aside 1-2 uninterrupted hours to learn and do one. And no, this isn’t an “I quit” post in disguise. I still enjoy racing the clock in scenarios, outDPSing people who outgear me in LFR, and, quixotically, farming. I also think I’m going to take another stab at battlegrounds (now that I have a good connection and a good PC to play on) and probably mess around with pet battles. The things I don’t enjoy, though, such as powerleveling professions on alts, VP capping every week, or random 5-mans; I’m going to stop feeling like I “have” to do them…because I don’t. Seriously. Dailies? Dailies can kiss my human/elven ass. The Shado-Pan can hate me, and I’ll go on hating them right back. (P.S. your monastery sucks too.)

In writing terms: I’ll still be kicking around, writing about what interests me, and I’ll still write the occasional guide post from time to time. My dreams of being the pre-eminent analyst for  druids and monks, though, died next to a hospital bed about six weeks ago, and I’m surprisingly okay with that.  I’m just going to keep on keeping on, probably making things up as I go.

Then again, I’ve been doing that for the past two years and it seems to be working.

 Posted by at 9:57 pm
Nov 032012
 

(xposted on TFD and WoM)

The good news: my wife has recovered enough to go home. The bad news: there’s still a lot of adjustment we have to do. I didn’t really think it through, but I actually had more free time in the hospital to play/write because the nurses took care of her personal care. Now that she’s home, I’m having to help her with everything (including adjusting to life as an ostomate), so I haven’t touched a keyboard (until now) since we got home a week ago.

I’m still keeping up with goings-on via RSS on my phone…just don’t expect me to say anything meaningful for a while. Hope you guys are having fun in WoW!

 Posted by at 3:20 pm