Aug 272012
 

Patch 5.0 is coming! Of course, you’ve got my 5.0 survival guide if you’re just looking for the highlights, but several other druid bloggers have posted more detailed spec-specific stuff, which I’d like to highlight today.

  • Balance: The indomitable Lissanna has her 5.0 guide at Restokin. Team Waffle also had a Balance roundtable podcast; haven’t listened yet, but I’m pretty sure they covered everything you’d need to know.
  • Guardian: Arielle wrote a book (aka 7 forum posts) on prepping for 5.0 over at TIB.
  • Feral: *crickets* (Go read my forums or the official forums…if any other feral discussion is going on anywhere, I’d love to know.)
  • Resto: Beru’s got a 5.0 Resto FAQ at Falling Leaves and Wings.
 Posted by at 10:51 am
Aug 232012
 

Aggixx, who is maintaining the feral branch of SimulationCraft, helpfully shared this recently. (There’s some more detailed info in the thread on my forum here.)

DPS Chart

What does this tell us? (Remember, all of these rotations are still being tweaked in SimC, and Blizzard could still adjust abilities as well.)

  • A Dream of Cenarius rotation remains the theoretical best after the nerf, but only by a narrow margin. It looks to be a 3-4% DPS advantage, but it  remains to be seen whether the full DoC rotation can be implemented under actual raid conditions. Heart of the Wild and Nature’s Vigil appear to be relatively equal in terms of DPS benefits.
  • Soul of the Forest is also 3-4% stronger than the other two options, and unlike DoC, there’s no rotational change imposed by using it. At this point, I see no reason to take Incarnation/Force of Nature for DPS-maximization unless the fight mechanics explictly favor it. Force of Nature is very slightly ahead of Incarnation, by roughly 1%.
  • There is a less than 10% difference between the “worst” set of talents and the “best” set. This is a good thing; the vast majority of players will be able to pick the talents they prefer most.
 Posted by at 11:44 am
Aug 222012
 

 

I bumped into a friend yesterday who had casually played a Druid back in the early days of Cataclysm, and mentioned to him that the 5.0 patch was dropping next week. After giving me the “Really? o.o” face, he asked me, simply, “well, what changed?” I didn’t have a good answer,  so I decided to come back here and write a few thousand words. Behold! The Patch 5.0/Mists of Pandaria Druid Survival Guide! These short spec-specific guides will get you spun up for Mists within 15 minutes…or your internet back. (Really. I have two internets in my back pocket right now.)

  • Play a cuddly yet ferocious feral cat, rending enemies and balls of yarn with equal vigor? The 5.0 Feral Changes Guide is for you. Mind the memes. (EDIT: If you’re looking for something more comprehensive, here’s a full feral guide and gear list for 5.0.)
  • Prefer a great bear, gleefully hitting enemies’ fists and blades with your face? The 5.0 Guardian Changes Guide (new spec!) is this way.
  • Maybe you’re a manchicken spacecow who blasts things with lasers because nobody appreciates him? *cough* Er. Right. The 5.0 Balance Changes Guide.
  • Or last but DEFINITELY not least (yes dear), an arboreal-curious healer with delusions of leafhood? The 5.0 Restoration Changes Guide has taken root over here.

I have almost undoubtedly missed something while writing these up, so please comment here or on the guides themselves and I’ll fix it up.

Top post for a while; newer posts below.

 Posted by at 8:13 am
Aug 212012
 

Release candidate build!

Talents

Balance

  • Sunfire damage increased by 10%.

Well, kiss that top ranking for Feral in Simulationcraft goodbye. I don’t know actual numbers yet, but my feeling is that DoC will remain the top DPS talent for Feral, but by a much closer margin.  Balance, meanwhile, should climb out of the cellar a bit, though I’m not as tuned in to where they were on DoC so I can’t say for sure if that’ll remain tops for them.

 Posted by at 6:41 pm
Aug 192012
 

Hey druid fans, as many of you know, I’m also writing WoW Insider’s monk content, so I’m composing  guides for both classes. As it happens, I finished up the windwalker guide first, so go check it out and let me know what you think! I’ve excerpted the beginning below.


Introduction

Windwalker monks are a melee DPS class that was newly added to the game for the Mists of Pandaria expansion. Any race, except Worgen and Goblin, can be a monk. (All my pictures are pandaren because, well, that’s all the art at the moment.) Like all monks, they have two resources that must be managed; energy and chi.

Energy regenerates at a constant rate (10/sec), and is used to power several abilities. Windwalkers have a 100-point energy pool. Energy regeneration does scale with haste, and can also be temporarily buffed by Energizing Brew.

In contrast, chi is a static 4-point pool, similar to a paladin’s holy power, that decays when out of combat. To build chi, a windwalker monk will typically use a “chi builder,”  such as Jab, which hits for very little but generates chi. The windwalker monk’s hardest-hitting abilities, or “chi consumers,” use that chi to generate the bulk of the windwalker’s damage. The key difference between chi and other secondary resource systems (such as holy power or combo points) is that all chi consuming abilities have a fixed cost and damage, compared to the others where damage/effect scales based on the amount of secondary resource currently banked.

What does that mean? Well, it opens up your flexibility quite a bit. Rogues, for example, pretty much never use a finisher unless they’re at maximum combo points, because of the way it scales. In contrast, windwalkers have the flexibility to alternate chi builders and consumers for steady damage, or use multiple builders to store chi, and then multiple consumers for extra damage during a burst period.

Every fight against non-trivial enemies will require careful management of both resources. The two primary mistakes you want to avoid are chi dumping and energy capping. Chi dumping is using a chi builder when you are already at full chi (thereby wasting time and energy) whereas energy capping is allowing your energy meter to fill to 100, which causes your energy regeneration to stop. As you get used to the spec, you’ll learn how to weave chi builders and chi consumers together to keep a constant flow going.


Primary Abilities

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

Ability Icon Discussion
Jab 40 energy, no CD. Basic attack. Increases chi by 1 baseline, increased to 2 via Stance of the Fierce Tiger. Can proc a free Tiger Palm/Blackout Kick via the Windwalker’s Mastery, Combo Breaker. Primary chi builder for single-target.
Rising Sun Kick 2 chi, 8s CD. Heavy damage to current target and causes all targets within 8 yds to take 10% additional damage (from the Monk) for 15 sec. Use this on cooldown.
Fists of Fury 3 chi, 25s CD. Unlike the other instant abilities, this is a 4 sec channel that hits 5 times for significant damage. It also stuns enemies during the channel. Downsides: expensive, it’s channeled (can be interrupted, no autoattack during the channel) and it splits damage among targets hit, which makes it not very good for AoE unless the stun works.
Blackout Kick 2 chi, no CD. Hits for good damage, and adds a DoT for 20% of the damage if attacking from behind, or a self-heal for 20% if attacking from the front (Combat Conditioning). Occasionally usable for free due to Combo Breaker.
Tiger Palm 1 chi, no CD. Moderate damage; adds a 10% armor debuff for your damage to the target. The debuff stacks 3x, so 30% armor reduction. (10% armor reduction = 3-4% more damage, roughly.) Occasionally usable for free due to Combo Breaker.
Spinning Crane Kick 40 energy, no CD, generates 1 chi if it hits three or more enemies. Channeled 3 sec AoE that hits 4 times. Primary chi builder for AoE.
Energizing Brew 60s CD. A energy regen cooldown, very similar to a feral druid’s Tiger’s Fury except slower. Like TF, you’ll want to use this as soon as it comes off cooldown and the extra energy isn’t wasted.
Tigereye Brew  This is your “click me for more damage” button. It doesn’t have an actual cooldown, but you’ll want to use it at 10 stacks to maximize the effect, so roughly every 75s-90s, or more if you have to stop attacking a lot.
Zen Sphere Your Level 30 talent. At the moment, things are fluctuating as to whether this (or the other L30 talents) will be used in the rotation, or just for self-healing purposes. More on this in the Talent section.
Invoke Xuen, the White Tiger Your Level 90 talent. The other options appear to be more AoE focused, so we’ll rely on Xuen for the time being.

That’s it! Master those 10, and you’ll be 95% of the way there for single-target DPS situations.

Reminder: Hit this page for the full guide.

 Posted by at 8:22 pm
Aug 162012
 

Another day, another patch.

Build 15983, changes from MMO-C:

  • Mangle now does 280% weapon damage, up from 250%.
  • Rake damage increased by 23%.
  • Wrath damage increased by 12% and SP scaling (111.6% of SP) added.

Talents

Balance

Balance & Restoration

Restoration

Feral sees a big buff here: Rake was already ~25% of our damage, so buffing that by 23% will add a significant amount of DPS. I won’t be surprised if Feral is topping the charts (or close to it) after SimulationCraft incorporates that change. (Enjoy it while it lasts!) I’m not convinced that the developers are going to let the Dream of Cenarius feral playstyle (use an instant HT after every PS and NS) stand, as it massively overpowers the other two talent options.

Balance gets a similar buff split between Starfire and Wrath, but they were already down near the bottom after the last set of changes. Think they might need a little more of a kick.

Resto gets a semi-nerf to Wild Mushroom which makes the planting of 1 or 2 mushrooms significantly less efficient (Instead of paying 3% mana per mushroom, you pay 10% for the bloom). Perhaps this is a precursor to changing WM to a single charge, which I think would be greatly appreciated.

Guardian gets a Mangle buff, though I haven’t kept up on tank DPS numbers lately so I don’t know how significant that is.

Oh, last and definitely least, the Displacer Beast cooldown got cut again, which still won’t change anything. As I’ve discussed before, the problem with DB isn’t the cooldown, it’s the base ability that’s terrible. If it gets a threat drop like Feign Death, or a DoT wipe like Vanish, then it will begin to catch my attention. Maybe I’m just not creative enough to see how it could be used offensively?

 Posted by at 7:44 pm
Aug 142012
 

Not saying it’s going to be the ONLY one…but this feels like the one where the developers have cut off rotation design and are working on balancing said rotations.

Notes from mmo-c, as usual, with my thoughts after.

  • Cat Form now increases movement speed by 25%, up from 15%.
  • Mangle now does 400% normal damage, down from 420%.
  • Moonfire damage reduced by ~3% and additional damage reduced by ~6%.
  • Starfall damage reduced by 4%.
  • Wrath damage reduced by 1% and SP scaling removed from the tooltip.

Talents

  • Dream of Cenarius now grants 50% (was 40%) damage your next 2 Moonfire or Sunfire casts and 50% (was 30%) increased damage by your next 2 melee abilities.

Balance

  • Celestial Alignment grants you the simultaneous damage benefit of both your Lunar Eclipse and Solar Eclipse, increasing damage done by your Nature and Arcane spells by 15% (was 20%).
  • Starfall damage reduced by 4%.
  • Starfire damage reduced by 4%.
  • Starsurge damage reduced by 4%.
  • Sunfire initial damage reduced by 4% and additional base damage reduced by 8% and SP scaling reduced by 4%.

Feral

  • Shred now does 400% damage plus 62, down from 420% damage plus 62.

Guardian

  • Vengeance now works off of 2% of the unmitigated damage rather than 5% of the damage taken. Now has a 20 sec duration and no cap on a percentage of your health.

Cat Form change was unexpected; I don’t think anybody had mentioned druids needing speed boosts.We’ll have to retest how cat + feline swiftness + boot enchants/PvP set bonii work again.

Feral got a very minor nerf: Mangle/Shred damage dropped about 4%, which is probably about a 1% overall DPS reduction. The movement speed buff will increase uptime which will probably more than compensate for that.

Balance got hit much harder, about a 5% overall DPS reduction. Was necessary; casters (more mages and locks) were riding pretty high. Overall, I’d say Blizz is targeting about 100k DPS this tier (for fully-heroic geared DPS’).

Guardian Vengeance change we already knew about; that 2% damage thing is good, as it removes the whole “negative scaling with avoidance” thing.

Resto is apparently fine? :P

Ugh, I may have to seriously consider Dream of Cenarius for feral now, especially if you can proc it off of NS and PS.

 Posted by at 7:25 pm
Aug 072012
 

I’m continuing work on my druid guide for Mists of Pandaria. I’ve completed the introduction; here’s an excerpt. (The full page is here.) I’d love to hear any feedback you have!


If you’re here, you’re thinking about starting up a druid in World of Warcraft. That’s an excellent choice! (Admittedly, I’m biased.) On this page, I’ve got a brief introduction into, well, playing a druid. If you’re looking for more detail on a certain druid specialization, I’ve got separate guides for those, which will follow shortly.

What’s a Druid, anyway?

Well, in real life, druids were a religious group that existed in Britain over 2000 years ago. In WoW, though, druids are those who seek to preserve and protect natural life; from their studies, they learn how to draw on nature’s power to perform many great feats. Druids are most iconic for their shapeshifting abilities, which are unmatched. (See this excellent wowpedia  article for more about druid lore and story; the rest of this page will focus on gameplay elements.)

So, what’s this shapeshifting thing?

Druids have several animal forms they can assume at will in order to accomplish their goals. There are six forms that are open to all specializations: BearCatStag/CheetahSeal/OrcaBird, and Treant. (Two of those have options via glyphs, hence the slash.) Two more are open to certain specializations (Tree of LifeMoonkin/Astral), which gives us over 10 different options for “Poof! Now I’m a …”

Whoa, wait. Specializations?

At level 10, each character class must pick a specialization, or subclass. This choice determines what role your character will play in group combat (healing, tanking, ranged damage or melee damage) as well as what abilities are available to you. Druids have four specialization options:

  • Balance: Uses a mix of Arcane and Nature magic to destroy foes from a distance. Also known as “moonkin,” which is their iconic form. Ranged damage spellcaster.
  • Feral: Becomes a panther or lion (depending on race) to destroy foes at close range. Often called simply “cat spec.” Melee damage dealer.
  • Guardian: Becomes a large bear to absorb enemy attacks and protect others. New in Mists of Pandaria (previously, both roles were integrated into Feral). Melee tank.
  • Restoration: Uses Nature spells to heal friends. Focuses primarily on heal-over-time spells. Can temporarily assume the form of an ancient (large tree-like being) for increased healing potential. Prior to Cataclysm, healed permanently from a treant form.

Druids are the only class in the game to have four specialization options, and are thus the only class that can perform any of the game’s four roles. (All other classes have three specializations, and vary in which roles they can perform.)

Reminder, this is an excerpt. See the full page on my blog here!

 

 Posted by at 9:00 am