Oct 142012
 

My column discussing the Heart of the Wild and Symbiosis hotfixes is live over at WoW Insider. Personally, I was hoping for more discussion about HoTW, but everyone still wants to complain about Symbiosis. :) If you haven’t had a chance to try super-saiyan-Wrath-spam (or the inverse, for your normal spell-flingers) you’ve got until maintenance on Tuesday to try it. After that, you can still do it, but it won’t be a DPS increase over your standard rotation (assuming the numbers work out). There’s a huge discussion about it going in the forums too.

Speaking of Symbiosis, I’d like to compile a list of good uses for Symbiosis per encounter (thinking a list for Challenge Modes and raids). Also, some generalized recommendations for PvP would be helpful. I’ve started up a thread in the forums to discuss it, so post your thoughts here or there.

 Posted by at 11:53 pm
Oct 092012
 

Thankfully, my wife’s condition is finally starting to improve, so I’m trying to get playing and posting again! Alaron’s currently level 86, and just about to start questing through Krasarang. I ended up taking my monk to 90 first (heresy, I know) just because I was so enthralled with the storyline, but now that I’m there I’m switching back to my favorite elf.

I gotta admit, though, I’m not real fond of leveling with the new form of Feral. I never used SR while leveling during Cataclysm (except for the occasional “boss” with extra HP), and the need for it now to do non-pathetic damage is annoying. Once the rotation is rolling, it’s fine, but you know how ferals aren’t great at target switching? Questing is like target-switching over and over again. :( I’m considering going Guardian, but I’d be interested in hearing what you guys thought about leveling as feral!

 Posted by at 5:46 pm
Oct 062012
 

(xposted on TFD and WoM)

Warning: Real life trauma ahead. This is not a happy post.

So, in my last post, I mentioned my wife was in the hospital. Well, things got worse.

Originally (last Monday), she was in for a routine intestinal hernia repair. No big deal, everything was great; hell, I brought my laptop in to her room, tethered it to my phone, and got the Realm First mining achievement Tuesday, plus a bunch of monk time. She was feeling great, so they discharged her and we came home.

Well, either during the surgery or sometime following (I’d say around Friday), she suffered an intestinal perforation. Unfortunately, I attributed her lethargy and fever to post-surgical blahs, and didn’t catch on that something else was going on until Tuesday of this week, when she spiked a 102+ fever. I brought her in to the ER, thinking she just needed some antibiotics or something; she was immediately admitted and sent off to emergency surgery. The intestinal perforation had caused contents to leak into the bloodstream, which caused her body to go into sepsis (infection of the blood) and then septic shock.

It’s now five days later. Things were very close for a few days; she’s had three surgeries since Tuesday to find the perforation, repair it, and attempt to fully clean the abdominal cavity of the infection. At this point, she’ll be okay, but she’s likely to be in the ICU for multiple weeks and the hospital for longer. She was airlifted to the Army medical center in San Antonio, so I’ll be living out of the San Antonio Fisher House for a while. I’d like to get back to playing and writing about WoW, so you’ll start seeing some more material here in a few days. (It’s either that, or sit here, stare at the wall, and mentally kick myself for not getting her to the hospital sooner.)

I’ve got about 200 emails/messages to get through, so if you’ve asked me a question, I will get to you, just give me some time. I’m finding it difficult to string higher-level thoughts together at the moment.

Chase (Alaron)

 Posted by at 4:40 pm
Sep 282012
 

(xposted on TFD and WoM)

So, the good news is I got two weeks off of work. The bad news is that it wasn’t to play WoW, it was because my wife is in the hospital again. :( Thankfully, since I have no plans to raid at the moment, I’m not under any social pressure, but man. Talk about your funsuckers.

Some quick-hit thoughts from the limited time I did have to play (RAF’d the monk to 80, working through Cataclysm content now):

  • I made a last-minute decision to play my Monk as my “questing” toon, and my Druid as my “dungeon” toon. So, Alamonk (creative, no?) will knock down all the story segments, and Alaron will relearn how to play all the non-feral specs in a group setting again. :)
  • So far, the monk’s been as fun as I expected from the beta, though windwalker remains kinda eh. It works, don’t get me wrong, but it’s still missing something. I’ll have to think on it a bit more. In contrast, Brewmaster is crazy good. I did a couple of Stonecore runs just for kicks, and the whole “manuever to pick up Gift of the Ox” orbs thing is pretty entertaining, especially when you’re AoEing so you get 10-12 lying everywhere. I wish picking them up would be a little more responsive, though.
  • Feral’s pretty fun, but I still don’t like having to SR “before” every questing pull. I’m still going Ravage/Rake/dammitSR.

Once I get to 90, I’ll likely be working on some Ovale scripts for monks, and tweaking all my guides. Anyway, what are your impressions so far?

 Posted by at 4:28 pm
Sep 162012
 

So, after saying I was going to do it for forever, I finally went ahead and put in a new forum theme. Go check it out.

A brief list of new stuff:

  • Shiny. Very, very shiny. I like. If you don’t and want it the old way, go into your User Control Panel->Board Preferences and change “My board style” back to Avalon Green.
  • New forums for Monks. Instead of setting up a separate forum entirely for World of Monkcraft, I’m just pointing them over here. I hear they’ve got booze!
  • Individual RSS feed for each subforum.
  • Ranks for posters: Honored/Revered/Exalted (because I’m boring).
  • You can now change your language/timezone from British/GMT and it won’t break things! Yay!

I still might trim the header length/width down a bit (I forget not everyone has a super-high-res monitor sometimes). If there’s anything else you’d like to see or any comments, let me know.

 Posted by at 12:37 pm
Sep 122012
 

It’s here…the thing you’ve all been waiting for…(yes, all four of you)…the 5.0 Feral Guide!  /applause

As always, I’ll put an excerpt here, but go to my blog to read the full guide.


IntroductionHorkin Figluster, Art by Dave Kendall

What are feral druids? Well, we’re the druid melee DPS class, and we kill things, fast and stylishly. Overall, we’re similar to rogues (we have stealth, energy, and wear agility leather), but there’s less stealth and poison and much, much more bleeding.

Our primary resource is energy. It’s contained in a pool that regenerates at 10 energy/second, which can be increased with haste, and has a maximum capacity of 100. The majority of our abilities use this energy to generate damage.  Now, if that was all we had, things would be boring, but we have a secondary resource: combo points.

These combo points serve to create an ability rotation that is wave-like in nature. Many of our damage abilities will generate a combo point (or two) on a target. These combo points will stack up to 5, and can then be consumed by other abilities known as “finishers” to increase their damage. In almost all cases, you will want to use finishers with a full 5 combo points to maximize their effectiveness. Now, both of our primary finishers (Rip and Savage Roar) have relatively short timers, so doing good DPS revolves around keeping those two abilities up as much as possible, while using as many of our other abilities as we can.

(Oh, and if things are looking bad, we can turn into birds and fly away. Everyone else can have their sparkleponies; give me instant Swift Flight Form any day.)

Feral Strengths
  • Speed. With Feline Swiftness, Dash, and Stampeding Roar, cats are one of the most mobile roles in the game, bar none. As raid encounters continue to get more complex and require more movement, the ability of cats to open and close range quickly becomes essential.
  • Self-sufficiency.  We have two damage-reduction cooldowns and multiple self-healing abilities; we also can glyph for a permanent 20% healing done (to us) increase. We will not stress healer mana.
  • Best off-role potential. With the Heart of the Wild talent, we can jump into tanking or healing temporarily and “save the day,” if necessary.
Feral Weaknesses
  • Complicated rotation. Feral is easy to learn, but hard to master. Unlike a, say, arcane mage who gets all of his damage from direct abilities, a vast chunk of our damage potential comes from damage-over-time effects and self-buffs; you have to juggle these to keep them up.
  • Target switching. Once all our abilities are up, we can dish out pain like no one else, but it can take a while to get there. Unlike a rogue/warlock, we have no built-in way to “transfer” effects or combo points from one target to another, so we suffer in this area. (There’s always Symbiosis…but I’ll talk about that later.)

Primary Abilities

These are the abilities you’re going to use most often, so know them, love them, hotkey them.

Ability Icon Discussion
Shred 40 energy. Basic attack. Increases combo points by 1 (2 on crit). Does a good bit of damage, and does more if the target is bleeding (which thy should be). Your primary direct-damage ability, but it only works from behind, so paying attention is key; it’s far too easy to miss the error message that your attacks aren’t hitting.  If you are stuck attacking frontally (certain fights, no tank, etc.) sub in Mangle instead. (For experienced ferals, note that Mangle no longer has a bleed debuff.)
Rake 35 energy. A damage-over-time ability that hits (or “ticks”) six times over 15 seconds. Increases combo points by 1 (2 on crit). You’ll want to keep this up and ticking as much as you can.
Savage Roar 25 energy. Finishing move that provides a 30% damage buff for 18 to 42 seconds, depending on the number of combo points used. By far, this is the most important finisher you have. Above all else, you want this up at all times. If possible, you want to refresh it at 5 combo points to cut down on energy use, but if it drops, put it up immediately with whatever combo points you currently have. Note the glyph, which allows you to use it with 0 combo points for a 12 sec duration.
Rip 30 energy. Finishing move that ticks 8 times over 16 seconds; damage is based on number of combo points used. If Rip is on the target, the next three Shreds (or Mangle/Ravage) will add 2 seconds and an additional tick. Second in priority to Savage Roar.
Ferocious Bite 25-50 energy. Consumes all your current energy (minimum of 25, maximum of 50) and combo points for a large direct-damage attack. If the target is under 25% health, a Ferocious Bite will also refresh Rip’s duration. (This is known as the Blood in the Water or BitW effect, after the Cataclysm talent.) You can use this if you’re finishing something off, but you won’t use it too much in groups above 25% health; you won’t have the energy or combo points to spare.
Tiger’s Fury 30 sec CD, immediately generates 60 energy and increases damage done by 15% for 6 seconds. Off-GCD, so you can use this anytime. USE THIS ON COOLDOWN. I can’t stress this enough; people try to save it, which is a bad idea 99% of the time. If it’s available for use, use it UNLESS you’re above 30 energy (don’t want to waste the benefit). In that case, toss a Shred or two, pop TF, and keep going.
Berserk 3 minute CD. For 15 seconds, all of your abilities cost 50% less energy. Unlike TF, this one you have some flexibility on; use it when you’ve got a chance for some uninterrupted damage time. Note that Tiger’s Fury is locked out while Berserk is active; to best combine the two, pop TF and then immediately Berserk.
Soul of the Forest /
Incarnation
Force of Nature
You get ONE of these as your level 60 talent choice. Soul of the Forest is a passive bonus that effectively lowers the cost of all your finishers. Incarnation is a 3 minute burst cooldown that gives you a sweet armored form and some extra damage (by swapping Ravage for Shred).  Force of Nature is the old balance treants on a 1m CD that also stun your target. Overall, SOTF is the best choice, though certain fights may demand one of the other options.
Heart of the Wild / Dream of Cenarius / Nature’s Vigil You get ONE of these as your level 90 talent choice. Heart of the Wild is a passive bonus that also adds the ability to do off-role stuff temporarily. Dream of Cenarius completely changes up your rotation by asking you to weave in healing casts to buff your damage abilities; Nature’s Vigil is another burst damage cooldown that also adds some splash healing. Overall, Dream of Cenarius has the best theoretical DPS, but the DoC rotation is very difficult to use optimally, so I generally recommend Heart of the Wild.
Swipe 45 energy, basic area-of-effect (AoE) attack. Also generates combo points, so you can swap in Swipes for Shreds when you have a primary target and a few extras running around (known as a “cleave” effect).
Thrash 50 energy, AoE damage-over-time ability that ticks 6 times over 15 seconds. If a pack of enemies will last for a while, you want to Thrash them first then Swipe away.

That’s it! Master those 10, and you’ll know 90% of what you need to do.


This is an excerpt – full guide available here.

 Posted by at 2:24 pm
Sep 112012
 

Mostly changes for ferals; haven’t seen much for any of the other specs, but I’ll be happy to add them if there are any.

Cat Form’s 25% speed boost no longer stacks multiplicatively with Dash. An expected bug fix, though it remains to be seen exactly how all the different speed combinations are going to shake out. There’s LOTS of different ways of adding movement speed now.     (permanent–Cat Form, Travel Form, Feline Swiftness, PvP set bonus, boot enchant, metagem; temporary–Dash, Stampeding Roar, Nitro Boots, many others) and figuring out how all this stacks together now is going to take some comprehensive testing.

Rake damage reduced by 17%, Shred/Mangle/Ravage damage increased by 25%. This is from the class analysis thread, and is in direct response to us finding and exploiting Rake’s scaling last week. :) This change is going to shake everything up a bit; Dream of Cenarius/mastery will come down in value in relation to Incarnation/FoN and other secondary stats, and the Rake filler rotation is pretty much dead. (It might still be a small DPS gain at 85, but not at 90, looks like.) More details in the forums.

Glyph of Shred is bugged. For some reason, Glyph of Shred causes Shreds while under Tiger’s Fury to hit weaker, instead of stronger. Oops. I don’t see any mention of a fix to this in the patch notes, so we’ll see if it’s still like this when servers come up.

 Posted by at 1:51 pm
Sep 062012
 

After long hours of wowheading, I’ve finished up the 5.0/Mists of Pandaria gearing list for ferals! I’ve included an excerpt below: hit this link for the full list.


Here’s your feral gearing list for Mists! Some quick notes:

Slots to fill!

  • PvP gear doesn’t suck! I haven’t listed PvP gear here, but the low-level stuff is very comparable to equivalent item-level PvE gear, since you no longer lose a secondary stat on most items. Crafted Contender’s gear is great for starting 5-man heroics; Dreadful gear is perfectly acceptable as a 5-man heroic drop replacement. (Malevolent gear isn’t as comparably good, since you start losing socket bonuses/set bonuses.)
  • Your basic leveling/gearing strat will be to quest through Kun-Lai at 87 (to unlock Vale/Golden Lotus and gain Shado-Pan rep), then Townlong Steppes at 88 (more Shado-Pan), then Dread Wastes at 89 (Klaxxi). Once you ding 90,  run dailies in the Vale of Eternal Blessings for Golden Lotus rep: once you get GL to revered, daily hubs will open for the other factions. You shouldn’t need dailies to get to honored (except August Celestials) but anything past that will take some daily quest grinding.
  • Justice Points are used for buying honored rep gear, Valor Points are used for buying revered rep gear. Don’t stress too much about Valor Points, as you’ll have to do a lot of daily grinding before you can use them anyway. (If you heard about VP’s being used to upgrade gear, that mechanic’s been pushed to 5.1.)
  • If you are in well-gemmed/enchanted raid gear, I wouldn’t start trying to replace gear until level 88, and don’t break your set bonus until 90. The free OOC proc when you use TF is great for leveling.
  • In general, mastery >> crit  > hit/exp = haste. If you choose to hit/exp cap (7.5% for each), you’ll take a small theoretical DPS loss, but you’ll likely make up for it with a cleaner rotation. I expect bleed damage to get reduced a bit though, so mastery will likely fall back some.
  • Expect crafted gear to be very expensive because of the Spirit of Harmony requirement, which isn’t tradable.
  • Neither set bonus is very good. The 2pc set bonus is worth about 0.5% DPS. The 4pc set bonus is worth about 0.75% DPS. That said, I wouldn’t break them unless you’re upgrading at least two pieces a full tier, or at least three pieces a half-tier.
  • Off-sets: The head, shoulder, and chest slot off-sets are a half-tier lower than the tier gear, so don’t prioritize those. LFR/Normal-mode raiders will likely prefer to go offset gloves, since the Murderer’s Gloves (crafted) are much better itemized than tier gloves. Progression raiders will likely prefer to go offset legs, since the “elite” off-set legs are better itemized and a half-tier higher than the tier legs.
  • I’ve cut this list off roughly around 440/450; a full set of 437 gear can be obtained in Dread Wastes to fill missing spots.
2H Weapon

As always, weapon DPS remains a feral’s best friend, so go for the best you can find. The archaeology spear is actually the best pre-raid weapon you can get, if you want to take the time to go dig it up.

Name ILvl Source Difficulty
Gao-Rei, Staff of the Legendary Protector 509 Tsulong, Terrace of Endless Spring Heroic
Screaming Tiger, Qiang’s Unbreakable Polearm 502 Spirit Kings, Mogu’shan Vaults Heroic
Gao-Rei, Staff of the Legendary Protector 496 Tsulong, Terrace of Endless Spring Normal
Screaming Tiger, Qiang’s Unbreakable Polearm 489 Spirit Kings, Mogu’shan Vaults Normal
Gao-Rei, Staff of the Legendary Protector 483 Tsulong, Terrace of Endless Spring LFR
Inscribed Tiger Staff (BoA) 476 Inscription N/A
Screaming Tiger, Qiang’s Unbreakable Polearm 476 Spirit Kings, Mogu’shan Vaults LFR
Snowdrift’s Bladed Staff 463 Master Snowdrift, Shadow-Pan Monastery H 5-man
Firestorm Greatstaff 463 Brother Korloff, Scarlet Monastery H 5-man
Ghostheart 463 Xin the Weaponmaster, Gate of the Setting Sun H 5-man
Amber Spear of Klaxxi’vess 463 Exalted with Klaxxi N/A
Spear of Xuen (BoA) 463 Archaeology N/A
Kaleiki’s Lost Training Staff 450 World Drop? N/A
Scar-Shell’s Scintillating Staff 450 Arena of Annihilation, Kun-Lai Summit 5-man

This is an excerpt – click here for the full guide.

 Posted by at 5:29 pm
Sep 032012
 

After reading an interesting report on the CBAT II about Rake scaling (thanks Melenkor!), our intrepid theorycrafters got to work and discovered that as of 5.0.4, Rake is now outdoing Shred for damage on the initial hit. Combined with some other rotational tweaks (deprioritizing the extension of Rip for finishers due to SOTF’s cost reduction), this is translating to a 5-10% DPS increase over our previous “best” rotation.

I don’t expect this to stay; it’s clearly an unintended consequence of the Rake buff that occurred late in beta.  Fixing it, though, will be more difficult, as any nerf to Rake would disrupt the balance at level 90. I’d say it’s 50/50 they hotfix it or just wait until a pre-release patch to implement changes;  we’ll see what happens. In the meantime, if you’d like to experiment for yourself, all you need to do is reforge to mastery, then use Shred ONLY if you have less than 5 CP’s and it will extend a current Rip. Otherwise, use Rake for CP generation, and Bite a little more. If that went over your head, no worries: the Ovale scripts are located here. 5.4.11 is the traditional Shred script, 5.4.12 is the Rake-heavy one. Please share your feedback on what increase (or decrease) you’re seeing with these changes.

(And thank Leafkiller/Tinderhoof/Aggixx, they do all the work, I just play nosy reporter.)

Oh, and in other news, I now own the feral sticky on the battle.net Druid forums. Yay!

 Posted by at 2:56 pm
Aug 312012
 

Just a quick C/P from the blue thread so I can find it again when I go looking in a month. :) I’ll try to add other proc rates in here when I find/confirm them. I also went back and updated the table of combat ratings, since apparently it’s the highest search result on Google.

Weapon Enchant Proc Rates:

  • Lord Blastington’s Scope of Doom – 1 PPM, no ICD.
  • River’s Song: 2PPM on melee attacks that land, or are dodged, or parried.
  • Dancing Steel: 1PPM on melee attacks that land.
  • Colossus: 3PPM on melee attacks that land, or are dodged, or parried, with a 3-second cooldown.
  • Elemental Force: 5PPM on melee damage, or non-periodic spell damage/healing, with a 0.1-second cooldown.
  • Jade Spirit: 10% chance on spell damage or healing, 50-second cooldown.
  • Windsong: 1PPM on melee damage, or non-periodic spell damage/healing, with a 1-second cooldown.
Trinket Proc Rates:

– Vision of the Predator – 15% chance on direct/periodic spell damage dealt, 105 sec ICD.
– Carbonic Carbuncle – 15% chance on direct white/melee/ranged/harmful-spell landing, 105 sec ICD.
– Windswept Pages – 15% chance on direct white/melee/ranged/harmful-spell landing, 65 sec ICD.
– Searing Words – 45% chance on direct white/melee/ranged/harmful-spell crit, 85 sec ICD.
– Light of the Cosmos – 15% chance on periodic damage, 45 sec ICD.
– Essence of Terror – 15% chance on harmful spell landing, 105 sec ICD.
– Terror in the Mists – 15% chance on direct white/melee/ranged/harmful-spell landing, 105 sec ICD.
– Darkmist Vortex – 15% chance on direct white/melee/harmful-spell landing, 105 sec ICD.
– Relic of Yulon – 20% chance on direct/periodic spell damage, 50 sec ICD.
– Relic of Xuen (STR) – 20% chance on white/yellow melee landing, 45 sec ICD.
– Relic of Xuen (AGI) – 20% chance on white/yellow/ranged crit, 55 sec ICD.
– Bottle of Infinite Stars – 15% chance on direct white/melee/ranged/harmful-spell landing, 45 sec ICD.
– Vial of Dragon’s Blood – 15% chance on direct white/melee/ranged/harmful-spell landing, 45 sec ICD.
– Lei Shin’s Final Orders – 15% chance on direct white/melee/ranged/harmful-spell landing, 45 sec ICD.
– Qin-xi’s Polarizing Seal – 15% chance on direct/periodic spell heal, 45 sec ICD.
– Spirits of the Sun – 15% chance on direct/periodic spell heal, 105 sec ICD.

Other:

– Killing Machine – 6 PPM on white melee landing, no ICD.
– Sudden Doom – 3 PPM on white melee landing, no ICD.
– Fangs of the Father
—- Assassination: 23.139% chance on white/yellow melee landing, no ICD.
—- Combat: 9.438% chance on white/yellow melee landing, no ICD.
—- Subtlety: 28.223% chance on white/yellow melee landing, no ICD.
—- These chances are multiplied by 0.9 for lvl 89 targets, 0.8 for lvl 90 targets, 0.7 for lvl 91 targets, 0.6 for lvl 92 targets, and 0.5 for lvl 93+ targets.
—- After adding a stack, if you have >30 stacks, you have a [1/(51-stacks)] chance to proc the Fury buff.

 Posted by at 6:44 pm