In general, I hate blogs with updates that say “Sorry for the lack of updates…” but, well…yeah. Between serious and ongoing family issues and an upcoming exercise, I won’t have much to say or time to say it until, well, sometime after Memorial Day. (The end of May.) Thankfully, there’s plenty of good forum discussion to keep you sustained. Enjoy.
Honey, I’m home! Excuse me while I shake the sand out of, well, everything.
As I alluded to previously, I’ve been quiet for a while because I’ve been in Kuwait for the past two weeks, planning for my unit’s next deployment. As a mechanism to get myself started up again, I’ll be flipping through the last few pages of news posts on MMO-Champion and commenting whenever appropriate (or when not…wherever I feel, really! Hell, it’s good to be home.) I’ll also have a catch-up post for feral topics once I can wade through two weeks of forum posts, and I’ll start updating the various guides for 5.2.
New Hearthstone CCG. I started out with Magic:TG as a kid, though my finely tuned economic sense kicked in after the first couple booster packs I bought. I’ve played a lot of Magic and other CCG-type games online though; it’s definitely one of my favorite genres. Very happy to see Hearthstone, though I’m sure the people at Cryptozoic (WoW TCG) aren’t. Yes, they can talk until they’re blue in the face about it being different…but let’s be real, the market for “hey, I want to play a WoW-themed card game” isn’t very big. I would’ve thought they would have diversified it among all the Blizzard properties, but maybe that’s a future expansion. “My Kerrigan deck can beat your Thrall…wait, you switched to Tyrael? Crap.”
I’m pleasantly surprised in the initial details for deck construction. If they stick to the “max 2 of same card per deck, only 1 legendary” model, that means building a competitive deck should be reasonably fast; most of the progression will be horizontal (enabling new deck builds) than vertical (optimizing for a specific build). Of course, since the only source of cards is RNG, that means a LOT of grinding (or cash money) to fully optimize a build, but I suspect the difference between non-optimized and optimized builds (aka no/wrong rares/epics/legendaries) will be pretty slight. I’m assuming the disenchant/craft feature will not yield epics/legendaries, but we’ll see. I may also be misunderstanding the rarity system somewhat, as I’m also seeing references to “golden” cards, which I don’t quite get yet.
Crap. I just realized I’m probably going to have to start a Hearthstone blog. Can a man get some free time, please? Eighth day of the week, solely for recreational purposes, call it Funday? That Steam queue isn’t getting any shorter.
PvP gear changes in 5.3. I freely admit I’ve detested WoW PvP for a long time. My first experience with it was grinding AV for an S2 staff for my lock to raid Karazhan; my second experience was futilely trying to land Shreds while playing from an Oceanic realm with high pings.I kept meaning to give it another go, never did, but this might push me over the top. I think these changes finally nail the “how to we let people in PvE gear have a fun PvP experience while still providing PvP progression for those who play often” problem, but as I’m a definite neophyte in this area, I’ll just leave it at that (Neophyte: The nice way to say noob.)
Item Upgrades returning in 5.3, much cheaper than before. From a statistical perspective, this and Thunderforged items make things quite a bit more difficult, as the definition of “BiS” keeps stretching. From a game perspective, though, this is great in that it drastically pushes out the cap at where you can no longer keep increasing your character’s power, which keeps people playing. Of course, the alternative view (I can’t stand VP grinding, if I’m Heroic raiding or bought all my VP pieces anyway, this just addis extra busywork) is also reasonable. Personally, I take a middle ground. I do the content I enjoy (scenarios, dailies 1-2 times a week, a few 5-mans, current-tier LFR) and if I don’t cap VP…*shrug*. There’s always next week. Note, though, that it took me a long time to get to that point and past the “I have to cap VP every week or I’m letting my raid down” mindset (which is a topic for another post).
Bonus roll time increased to 3 minutes. About freaking time. I know, I know, I should have AtlasLoot or something up ahead of time so I can predetermine whether to spend a MoguCoin(TM), but..yeah. “Hmm, boss killed, use a coin? Let’s check the Dungeon Journal…ugh UI taint bug that won’t let me click on individual bosses..uhhh….tickticktick…mightaswell. C’mon, Daddy needs a new….3rd Arrow-Breaking Windcloak. Yeah, that’s great. Just what I always wanted.”
LFR drop rates increase quantified. (This is based on the MMO-C data that shows Satchel drop rate for 5.0 raids as 68% and 5.2 as 81%, hence gear drop rates of 32% (up from 16%) for 5.0 and 19% for 5.2.) Of course, less time fighting the RNG boss is a good thing all around. However, this doesn’t help the problem I’ve mentioned before; if you’re going for a specific item, then your rate for each boss gets divided by the number of items dropped for that boss. This was a big problem for those looking to get Gao-Rei back in 5.0 (16% drop chance * 33% item chance = ~5% droprate), and Rune of Reorigination will be the same for 5.2.
I have been crazy busy with things both in-game and out, so much so that I haven’t taken the time to stop and write as much as I should have. To the written word, Batman!
First, I want to thank Millya, Vosskah, Rhidach, and all the wonderful others in the guild Business Time on US-Moonrunner. who’ve given me the chance to raid again. No disrespect to my previous guild, which was wonderful, but my schedule meant that a 3-night raid guild wasn’t in my plans anymore; being able to show up for just four hours a week (2 nights x 2 hours) and work with a combined group is awesome.
We stepped into Throne of Thunder for the first time last Thursday and downed Jin’rokh with just a couple pulls. Not a challenging fight mechanically at all; you will likely be 2-healing it to meet the DPS check, so dropping a HotW + Tranquility during one of the Lightning Storms can be a huge help. Once we finished that, we battled the bridge (protip: if you don’t want to deal with the small safe zones on the bridge, a single puller can kite a spirit all the way to one end) and ended up wiping on Horridon several times. I struggled a good bit with DPS on Horridon; part of that was gear, part of that was feral’s generally poor target swapping, and part of that was me just not playing well. On our final pull of the night, we got to the third set of adds, but wiped there. The 15% hotfix will probably fix things, I’m sure. That said, I did walk out with a ilvl 522 Renataki’s Soul Charm; very happy to upgrade from a LFR Terror of the Mists, not so happy that I CANNOT get below expertise cap now. ;)
On Monday, we went back and cleared out normal ToES and most of HoF with only a single wipe, which was cool. Now that you can get a big chunk of VP’s from previous-tier content, I expect sites like OpenRaid to grow dramatically in popularity; a quick look shows 50 cross-realm MSV raids already posted and looking for more signups.
Rip unbuffed and RPPM changes
So, the second-to-last-minute change that buffed Rip by 15% was undone in a last-minute change. Sad? Somewhat, but honestly, it wasn’t all that necessary to begin with, and the RPPM fixes made it even less necessary. Previously, we were one of the melee classes that had no self-haste buff, which meant that the new legendary metagem procs (and the new trinkets, to a lesser extent) were going to be much less strong for us. However, the RPPM fix which removed self-haste buffs from the RPPM proc chance has evened that considerably, to the point where we no longer need the Rip damage buff. The early numbers from Raidbots bear this out; all the classes look pretty well balanced, save assassination rogues which are likely to see a nerf (unless they scale terribly with gear or something)
You should use it. /comment. Seriously, I still need to make a WeakAura reminding me to use it when it’s up, but it’s much more powerful now, and feral has so many free GCD’s there’s really no excuse not to use it on cooldown.
Okay, I sort-of lied; this is what I’ve been doing. Most people heard about this, but the XP rewarded by pet battles was massively OP for the first few days after 5.2 launched. I didn’t have much time to exploit it, but I leveled my DK from 85 to 87ish by doing nothing but killing lvl 1 squirrels in Stormwind fo a couple hours. Instantly respawning squirrels + 100k+ exp per battle meant 12 million XP per hour…and seeing as it’s about 95 million XP to go from 85-90, the dedicated got a lot of character leveled VERY fast. (A few enterprising monks stacked heirloom gear, the 50% XP buff from the monk daily quest, and the 300% one-time XP buff from the rare potion. Result: leveled 1-90 in an evening. :)) Anyway, even after they fixed it, I’ve been hooked on Pet Battles, and am now slowly wending around Azeroth, capturing pets and leveling as I go. I’ve completed most of EK (can’t beat the final trainer yet) and am working through Kalimdor. (Feral pride: my highest-leveled pet is the Panther Cub.)
Real life stuff
As long-time readers know, my day job is working IT for the U.S. Army, which features lots of beach vacations. Welp, I’m getting ready to take off on another one. Unlike my last deployment, where I walked in the door of a unit who was heading out in a few weeks, this time I’ve been tagged as one of the principal planners. Therefore, this weekend, I’m taking off for two weeks of fun in the sun, to be followed up by a full nine months starting sometime this fall. I will still be around, but Internet infrastructure is always questionable with these things, so I’ll just have to see.
Best of luck to everyone exploring the new content; I wish you agility leather drops and oodles of Lei Shen keys!
Greetings fellow Druids! I’ve compiled a brief review of the important changes dropping tomorrow, along with links with more detailed information for each spec.
- To get to the new island with the dailies/raid instance, you take a quest from the Shado-Pan Offensive camp in Townlong Steppes. Subsequent trips are via a portal in the same location. You must have completed the 5.1 intro questline, Landfall, to receive the Thunder Calls quests.
- Two new factions are being added with VP gear; the Shado-Pan Assault (rep gained by raiding) and the Kirin Tor/Sunreavers (rep gained by dailies).
- SP Assault gear is all ilvl 522, and costs from 1250-2250 VP. Neckpieces are available at neutral; trinkets, wrists and rings at friendly; cloaks, legs and hands at honored; chest and waist at revered; and shoulders at exalted. As of right now, it is not known how much rep is granted per boss (or from trash), but a blue post has stated that “a single boss kill should get you mostly to Friendly.” Bosses can only be killed once a week for rep, in any difficulty.
- Kirin Tor/Sunreavers provide ilvl 476 belts at Honored, ilvl 496 cloaks at Revered, and ilvl 496 rings at Exalted. The 476 gear costs a small amount of gold; the 496 gear will cost VP, presumably at the same price as 5.1 VP gear. Icy Veins has an awesome guide to all the new dailies and stuff to do on the Isle of Thunder, so I won’t recap that here.
- Apart from the new raid, there’s two new world bosses that drop ilvl 522 gear. Nalak is roughly equivalent to the Sha of Anger; however, he will not be unlocked “until Lei Shen is defeated.” (It’s unknown whether that means progression in the server-wide daily events, or raid progression.) Oondasta is found on the Isle of Giants, and is reportedly very difficult; that said, the new Tap-to-Faction system means you can grab a ton of people (multiple raids) and just zerg him down, presumably.
- Throne of Thunder gear that goes unused can be DE’d and will reward one Haunting Spirit per item. New crafted ilvl 522 boots and helms are available that require 6 and 8 Haunting Spirits, respectively.
- The 5.2 legendary questline will require 40 Trillium Bars (buy them now if you can), 20 Secrets of the Empire (aka Sigils of Power), exalted with Wrathion (kill stuff on the Isle of Thunder), and 12 Titan Runestones (aka Sigils of Wisdom). It will reward a very strong metagem that will replace your current meta. The Eye of the Black Prince from the 5.1 legendary questline can be repurchased and used on 5.2 weapons to add an additional socket.
- All the old VP gear was reduced in price (5.0 by 50%, 5.1 by 25%), which will help considerably in getting alts geared for Throne LFR (ilvl 480 requirement).
- Item upgrading is going away, so today’s the last chance. (That said, it’s likely best to hold on to your VP at this point to buy new gear.) Ask Mr Robot’s Item Optimizer is now updated for 5.2, so go check them out if you’re unsure. (Actually, go check them out anyway, they rock.)
For all the other stuff (pet battles, profession changes, etc) go check out MMO-Champion.
- Talent Changes:
- Displacer Beast no longer Prowls and now adds a speed boost Still not much of a use case for PvE compared to Wild Charge, but I’m happy to be proven wrong.
- Cenarion Ward was doubled in effectiveness. It’s now the highest throughput healing ability, but least bursty. Try it and see what you think; overall, I think Feral will like it, but that’s about all (Guardians prefer burst healing CD’s for oops moments; Restos already have a strong HoT; Balance loses a lot of DPS from healing every 30s).
- Faerie Swarm can snare multiple targets, and Mass Entanglement/Typhoon were both set to 30s CD’s. Not much PvE impact.
- Force of Nature and Soul of the Forest were both buffed; more on those in the spec-specific sections.
- Nature’s Vigil’s damage boost was reduced to 10% and the CD reduced to 90s from 3 minutes. Mostly a PvP nerf to prevent lining NV up with Incarnation, but a slight PvE nerf as well. One interesting caveat; since NV lasts 30s and has a 90s CD, you have a 33% uptime on the single-target healing effect. If we assume 100k DPS, that averages out to 0.25*0.33 = 8.3k HPS sustained, which is something like 20-25% of a full-time healer.
- Symbiosis nerfs: Dispersion CD was increased to 3 minutes, and Shattering Blow received a 1.5 second cast time. Both abilities are still useful in the appropriate spots, but SB should definitely only be used for 25′s now.
- Revive and Mark of the Wild was reduced in cost significantly, which is nice. No more having to drink after rezzing one person as Feral, or drinking after changing specs so you can rebuff.
Yeah, you knew this spec was going first, right? :) Really, very little has changed for 5.2 mechanically.
- The biggest changes are obviously gear and stat weight-related. I’ve written up a whole ‘nother page for 5.2 gear questions, so go there. Stat weights, PvP gear, set bonuses, trinkets – gear page. I’ve also updated the general Feral guide for 5.2. As always, ask specific questions on the forums, or go here for boss-specific discussion.
- Rip was buffed by 15%. Rotationally, this won’t change anything significant, you’re still prioritizing SR uptime.
- Cyclone now has a 20 second cooldown (yes, this is only for Feral). PvP change.
- The NV change means NV+Incarnation+Berserk is no longer super-awesome-good burst DPS every 3 minutes (just super-good burst DPS). Most ferals weren’t taking NV anyway, so not much of a loss there.
- Wrath damage was buffed by 9%, which in turn increases the damage of Heart of the Wild Wrath-spam; I’ll have to take a look at it to see if it’s worth incorporating in a standard rotation or not.
- Wrath, Starfire, and Starsurge were all buffed by 9%. Enjoy.
- Force of Nature was buffed, so it’s now on par with Incarnation for DPS. SOTF was also buffed a bit, but is inferior to the other two talents.
- Make sure to check out Hamlet’s Balance thread on EJ for more specific info and discussion of trinket effects, etc.
- 10% healing increase across the board AND Rejuvenation’s mana cost was reduced by 9%. Yay buffs!
- Wild Mushrooms now store 25% of the overhealing done by Rejuv (up to 33% of the casting Druid’s health), and release it as a smartheal when popped. This makes them much more useful, but placement will be critical. Teach your raiders to get friendly with some fungi.
- The SOTF and FoN buffs are nice, but I’d still recommend Incarnation. With the NV nerf, it’s probably best to go with HOTW.
- Jasyla has a much better breakdown of the 5.2 changes on her blog Cannot be Tamed, and also has a 5.2 resto gear list. Dayani’s also got some good Throne healing tips at Healiocentric.
- Frenzied Regeneration and Tooth and Claw got a 10% buff. Yay buffs! (again!)
- Mastery was buffed; still not as good a choice as Crit (for RPS) or Dodge (for damage reduction).
- FoN isn’t terrible now, but they can’t taunt bosses, which limits their effectiveness. Stick with Incarnation and Nature’s Vigil (the cooldown reduction is HUGE for Guardians).
- Some of the feral PvP set bonuses now have Guardian bonuses too, for you crazy types who do BG’s as Guardian.
- Arielle has a roundup post going up later today on The Inconspicuous Bear; until then, check out his guardian guide, which has been updated for 5.2.
If you find anything else that’s interesting, drop it in the comments!
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 Battletags, Vicious 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.
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.
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.
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.
- I wrote up an analysis of the 5.2 changes for druids over on WoW Insider last week.
- Arielle’s got a good post about analyzing Guardian logs over at TiB.
- Ela’s discussing how to use Stampeding Roar effectively at File under Feral.
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. :))
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?
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.
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.
- 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.
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!
- 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.
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!
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.)
- 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).