Jun 202012
 

There’s an amazingly good class balance analysis thread/discussion going on at the official forums. It’s being heavily moderated, so all the junk’s being filtered, and GC’s talking more than he has in months, which is great. (Here’s the MMO-Champion tracker, if you just want to read the blue posts.) I’m going to pull out the druid quotes so far: GC’s responses in italics.

Quote: I know that modeling totem pets like the Fire Elemental has been annoying for the various Shaman theorycrafters. They seem to perform some actions randomly and they have an unexplained long “start-up” time. Any information you can give on how these things function under the hood would be welcome.

I believe there is a known issue that we’re currently working on, where many guardians that auto-assist you take a few sec to start assisting you after they spawn. We’re working to fix that, as we know that it impacts the performance of spells that summon these guardians.

My take: Good; this should help with Force of Nature.

Quote: Will Detonate indeed not be affected by Solar Eclipse?

Correct. Mushrooms should not be affected by Solar.

My take: Confirmation of what we already knew. Solarcleave is dead; should never be prolonging an Eclipse now.

Quote: There was a post not too long ago telling the Moonkin players that you were looking into a way for us to play around with our Eclipse.

There may occasionally be times where it’s actually worth it to use AC rotationally, but they should be generally pretty rare. What it should let you do is more directly control your Eclipse cycle, so that you can ‘game’ Eclipse to line up with fight mechanics. 

My take: Bingo. Exactly the niche it should be in, as I discussed in this column.

Quote: Is Bloom intended to be used in AoE healing rotations? How will it affect Harmony?

It isn’t intended to be used rotationally, and may be too good at the moment. It is fine for it to affect Harmony as long as it doesn’t become a vehicle to keep Harmony up. If we can make it a small little bonus, that’s fine.

Quote: Spending a lot of our day trying to keep both Harmony and Lifebloom up (while trying to take advantage of all the new toys we got in MOP) is just too overwhelming even in MOP 5-mans.

Yes, we agree. Both of those durations could increase without much risk.

My take: I’m not sure how to parse the first quote, unless they plan on giving Bloom a minor effect that isn’t a refresh. Something like “Also extends your Harmony duration for 1 sec for each mushroom that blooms.” Of course, seeing as they might bump up the duration of Harmony and LB, it might not end up mattering.

Quote: Mastery – As of right now Mastery is going to be the stat to miss COMPLETELY. Only two (three with Incarnation) abilities will benefit from it, both of which are based on Attack Power ONLY. Even then in 483 PvP gear, with full raid buffs and ZERO Mastery, Rip is still hitting for 300k damage.

We’re currently modeling Mastery as roughly equal in value to Crit and Haste for Ferals, typically a couple % better. If you can provide any more detailed analysis, we’d be interested in seeing it.

My take: Stack mastery! Heard it here first! :) As always, the actual question is how well the secondary stats will scale relative to each other.

Quote: Incarnation – As of this point Incarnation is bad for Feral druids. Due to Ravage and Pounce’s 50 energy cost, there is just not enough energy to compensate normal shreds. based on my analysis you are looking at a 600 dps loss if you spec into Incarnation. If Ravage and Pounce cost 40 energy instead, then it would be a dps buff.

Incarnation should allow you to replace several Shreds with Ravages. Ravages are indeed more expensive, so the CP per energy will be lower (except above 80%, where it will be much higher). But, Ravage does ~50% more damage than Shred, for only 25% more energy. Is your modeling show that that’s not enough to be a sustained DPS increase? (Not to mention being a significant burst DPS increase.)

My take: Nothing to see here; Incarnation  fills the burst DPS role, as intended.

Quote: I’m still in the early stages for Guardian but as of this point bears will only need to gear for dodge > crit > hit/exp > haste > Mastery up to 6 rage per second. This allows for at least 1 stack of Savage Defense will be available at all time. Beyond 6 Rage Per Second you will get to 0 stacks at some point during the fight. Beyond 6 RPS, uptime on SD only grows minisculally beyond 60% (6.66 RPS – 61.16% uptime; 7.5 RPS – 61.33% uptime; 10 RPS – 61.6% uptime) For example, with 6.666 RPS, we can use Savage Defense every 9 seconds up to 3 minutes into the fight. Afterwards we can use it every 10 seconds.

While there is effectively a ‘cap’ on converting rage to Savage Defenses uptime (as you describe, that’s effectively 6.666 RPS to use it on charge cooldown), that should translate to a very ‘soft’ cap on hit/exp/crit, as streaks of rage gain and rage drought may occur. And, more importantly, Frenzied Regeneration should provide a very attractive value in bleeding off excess rage, which is effectively uncapped. Our current design is that against difficult content, Savage Defense provides more average damage mitigation than Frenzied Regeneration heals, but given that it is avoidance (and thus not necessarily reliable), you will sometimes resort to using Frenzied Regeneration to smooth over spikes when you feel you need to. The goal in terms of feeling is that you should ‘want’ to use Savage Defense as much as possible, but sometimes you ‘need’ to Frenzied Regeneration to respond to unexpected spikes in damage.

My take: This is about the only thing I dislike. Against “difficult content,” you have to keep up SD as close to max uptime as you can manage, because 45% dodge is HUGE. I go from 20% avoidance to 65%.  Boss damage intake is going to be tuned for that max uptime; you don’t have the flexibility to go “oh my health’s at 20% hit FR instead of SD this time around” because by the time you generate 60 more rage to get SD back up, you’ll be dead. Maybe bosses won’t hav that kind of damage output…but they’ve always had to pump that up previously to challenge healers. So. We’ll see what happens with that.  Dammit, if I’m tanking, I don’t want my healers to have to track Savage Defense on their Grid/Vuhdo/Healbot, but it’s shaping up that way. Death (knight) bears!

More math:

Odds of taking 4 consecutive unavoided  hits with 20% dodge:  40%. With 65% dodge: 1.5%. Think on that.

 Posted by at 2:28 pm
Jun 122012
 

(There ain’t much.)

So…yeah. You can now fail to reset a PvP encounter 2 minutes instead of every 3…and HOTW just became pretty mandatory for Guardians. (Think! Think! Say something else to make it long enough that you couldn’t have just covered it on Twitter!) Umm…I’m being lazy busy and waiting for level 90 premades, so I haven’t been on beta overmuch, but I have heard from a reliable source that Savage Roar is no longer dispellable as an enrage effect. If true, that + the glyph clears up one of the principle objections to the beta changes I had.

 Posted by at 11:54 pm
Jun 112012
 

In my latest column over at WoW Insider, I talk about my thoughts on Astral Communion.

TLDR:

Good: Lets moonkin charge Eclipse out of combat. Weak enough that it won’t become part of the rotation, but could potentially be used for DPS-burst encounters. Helps out in PvP where freecasting isn’t the easiest.

Bad: Charges all the way to Eclipse; ideally, you’d want it to stop one away for PvE, to not waste Nature’s Grace. Channeled, so doesn’t help much with movement DPS problems. (Actually, a commenter brought that up, and it’s a good point.)

Oh, and I’m starting to rework my monk guides over on my other site, World of Monkcraft. If you’re interested in that at all, go check out my Windwalker guide (the other specs are there, but a bit out of date). You might see some monk stuff of mine start popping up over on WoWI as well, so look out for that.

 Posted by at 1:02 am
Jun 062012
 

(I know, I know, old news, but I’m catching up.) Hit up the modelviewer as well, since the human model doesn’t really do it justice. I definitely like it better than any of the Cataclysm sets, that’s for sure. Looks like there’s three different accent colors (theoretically, for feral/guardian, resto, and balance) and unfortunately, the agi specs will probably get stuck with the red accents, which I definitely dislike compared to the brown/green. This may even put me off vainly trying to find groups to do 25m Naxx for T7.5, which is the best-looking set currently available (IMO).

Jun 042012
 

So, I took a week off from blogging/WoW to play Diablo 3…and then things went crazy in real life. Yeowch. I don’t want to go into too much detail, but my wife had to be hospitalized, and what was supposed to be a short stay ended up taking over a week. I’ve barely even touched a computer in the past ten days or so, but will slowly be catching up with stuff (and writing about it!) over the next few weeks.

…if I’m not playing Xenoblade Chronicles. Damn friends and their capacity to pick great games to tempt me with. :) I’ve sunk about 50 hours into D3, enough to level a barbarian to 60 and get through Hell Diablo, and Inferno just really isn’t that appealing to me.

 Posted by at 11:35 pm
May 182012
 

So, I’ve been busy with another threequel, (*barbarians are awesome*) but I just got a tip that MMO-Champion says feral’s losing rip. This build’s datamine only at this point, not live, but judging by the datamine tooltip, I’m calling BS on that summary. My guess is that the old rip is now baseline to all non-feral spec and feral spec got a new, harder-hitting rip.

Of course, we’ll see whenever the new build goes up. In the meantime, what I find much more interesting is that Ghostcrawler mentioned IS might come back for balance, in some fashion. Looking forward to it; balance needs something to complicate the rotation a little, as it’s been simplified quite a bit.

 Posted by at 1:29 am
May 142012
 

This week for my Shifting Perspectives WoWI column, I went into a little more detail about the level 90 talents, and also got a bit creative. (I start the column with a parody of Isaiah Mustafa and end with a Biblical allusion…how’s that?) I wrote the column before this weekend’s patch, but those changes didn’t alter any of my conclusions. Go take a look; as always, comment here or there, but I’m much more likely to respond here.

 Posted by at 12:01 am
May 122012
 

First, because everyone liked the armored cats and wanted to see the armored bears…

(MMO-C only posted the horde versions. Dunno, looks like a porcupine with taillights to me.)

The latest beta build also has some tweaks to the level 90 talents, as I had expected, and a few other changes.
Talents

  • Cenarion Ward now costs 14.8% of Base Mana, down from 22.4%.
  • Dream of Cenarius now proc increase healing done by your next healing spell by 70%, up from 30%. Tranquility is not affected..
  • Nature’s Vigil now increases all damage and healing done by 20% for 30 sec, down from 30%. Single target spells now damage or heal a nearby target for 25% of the damage/healing done, down from 50%.

Feral

  • Rip now has a duration increased by Ravage as well.
  • Feline Grace New: Reduces damage from falling while in Cat Form.

I’m withholding judgement on the healing tier until the final numbers pass, so I’ll let that change go for now. Dream of Cenarius now buffs healing as well, which will make resto/balance hybrid attempts somewhat workable. I dislike the design, but it could probably work for casters. Once they settle on a number, I’ll work up a balance DPS rotation and resto HPS rotation that weaves in the opposing spell to see what kind of numbers are possible. DoC is still a non-starter for feral/guardian, though, until it stops shifting us out of form. Of course, DoC won’t buff Tranquility, which I expected, and I further expect that you’ll see AoEs get excluded from the damage portion as well.

Nature’s Vigil took a nerf, which I also expected; NV was clearly better than HOTW at 30% for moonkin and feral. 20% is a good deal closer. We’ll probably need to use sims, since NV gains quite a bit of value when sync’ed with Incarnation (or Berserk, or CA). Sunfyre noted that this drops NV to a 3.3% DPS increase for balance without considering other CD’s (though I think he’s overvaluing HOTW’s passive int).   With the healing nerf, I expect no one will attempt to use it for the healing potential; it’ll just become another DPS CD that also tosses in some passive healing.

On the positive side, Ravage now also extends Rip’s duration, which was also expected (Incarnation would have felt weird, otherwise) and we got Feline Grace back, which…yay? Actually, with no flying mount in Pandaria, that may come in handy from time to time.

 Posted by at 11:44 pm