Apr 092010
 

Yay! The druid notes are up! Let’s take a look…notes in blue quotes, analysis as we go.

New Druid Abilities

Thrash (Level 81): Thrash deals damage and causes all targets within 10 yards to bleed every 2 seconds for 6 seconds. The intent here is to give bears another button to hit while tanking. Talents will affect the bleed, such as causing Swipe to deal more damage to bleeding targets. 5-second cooldown. 25 Rage.

Okay, this is cool, kind of like an AOE Lacerate. Of course, they’ve already said we won’t have as many AOE situations as in WOTLK, so it remains to be seen how useful it will actually be. Hopefully, it will be part of the single-target rotation as well.

Stampeding Roar (Level 83): The druid roars, increasing the movement of all allies within 10 yards by 40% for 8 seconds. Stampeding Roar can be used in cat or bear form, but bears might have a talent to drop the cooldown. The goal of this ability is to give both bears and cats a little more situational group utility. 3-minute cooldown. No cost.

Hmm…seems I said something in my last post about movement being a key thing in Cata? :) It’s hard to really judge the value of this ability without seeing the encounters that it’ll be designed for. Right now, it feels a bit weak with the 3 minute CD. (We’ll probably see something like Mimiron or Sindragosa where you have to leave point X within Y seconds…unfortunately, the run-out timers are tight enough that you really need to use this preemptively to save someone who’s slow.)

Wild Mushroom (Level 85): Grows a magical mushroom at the target location. After 4 seconds the mushroom becomes invisible. Enemies who cross the mushroom detonate it, causing it to deal area-of-effect damage, though its damage component will remain very effective against single targets. The druid can also choose to detonate the mushroom ahead of time. This is primarily a tool for the Balance druid, and there will be talents that play off of it. No cooldown. 40-yard range. Instant cast.

Please tell me this is a joke. Mushrooms? MUSHROOMS? WHAT THE HELL? Lord, and moonkin get laughed at now… Um, as for the actual spell, not really sure what to say. It’s basically a proximity mine, which won’t have a lot of PvE application. (…trails off, mumbling something about design committee deadlines)

Changes to Abilities and Mechanics

In addition to the new abilities listed above, we intend to make changes to some of the other abilities and mechanics with which you’re already familiar. This list and the summary of talent changes below it are by no means comprehensive, but they should give you a good sense of our goals for each spec.

All heal-over-time spells (HoTs) will benefit from crit and haste innately in Cataclysm. Hasted HoTs do not reduce their duration, but instead add additional HoT ticks. Haste will also benefit Energy generation while in cat form.

About what we expected from the previous class notes. Unresolved is the exact nature of how the haste works on the HOT…is it stepwise or linear? If it’s stepwise, then gearing is complicated again, as we have to gear for the haste level where we get 7 Rejuv ticks instead of 6, or something. If it’s linear, then how does it work? Also, nothing about Feral or Moonkin DoTs.

Unlike the other healers, Restoration druids will not be receiving any new spells. They have plenty to work with already, and our challenge instead is to make sure all of them have a well-defined niche. A druid should be able to tank-heal with stacks of Lifebloom, spot-heal a group with Nourish and Regrowth, and top off lightly wounded targets with Rejuvenation.

As expected from previous discussion. I assume Healing Touch will get some love, Nourish/Regrowth will be differentiated, and Tranquility will be made raid-wide (and probably nerfed to compensate).

We want to add tools to cat form and depth to bear form. If a Feral cat is going to fill a very similar niche to that of a rogue, warrior or Enhancement shaman, it needs a few more tools — primarily a reliable interrupt. Bears need to be pushing a few more buttons just so the contrast between tanking and damage-dealing is not so steep.

Yep! Yay for new interrupt. Pretty sure that was the #1 thing on my list for Cata.

Barkskin will be innately undispellable.

Yay for PvP, though trees won’t have quite the survivability anymore (because they won’t be trees…see below).

We will be buffing the damage of Mangle (cat) significantly so that when cat druids cannot Shred, they are not at such a damage-dealing loss.

Erm…they’re not really losing that much damage right now, if it’s Glyphed. I detailed this in a previous post. Hey, why not just make Shred usable from the front?

Druids will lose Abolish Poison with the dispel mechanics change, but Restoration druids will gain Dispel Magic (on friendly targets) as a talent. All druids can still remove poisons with Cure Poison and remove curses with Remove Curse.

As already noted. I thought they were rolling them together into one spell?

New Talents and Talent Changes

Tree of Life is changing from a passive talent to a cooldown-based talent, similar to Metamorphosis. Mechanically, it feels unfair for a druid to have to give up so much offense and utility in order to be just as good at healing as the other classes who are not asked to make that trade. We are exploring the exact benefit the druid gets from Tree of Life. It could strictly be better healing, or it could be that each heal behaves slightly different. You also will not be able to be banished in Tree of Life form (this will probably be true of Metamorphosis as well). Additionally, we would like to update the Tree of Life model so that it feels more exciting when you do decide to go into that form. Our feeling is that druids rarely actually get to show off their armor, so it would be nice to have at least one spec that looked like a night elf or tauren (and soon troll or worgen) for most of the time.

Uh-oh. Blogstorm coming in 3…2…1… Seriously, I understand the reasoning behind it, but healing really demands consistency, not cooldowns. A lot of people really like their Tree form, and will push HARD against this change.

We want to make the Feral cat damage rotation slightly more forgiving. We do not want to remove what druids like about their gameplay, but we do want to make it less punishing to miss, say, a Savage Roar or Rake. The changes here will be on par with increasing the duration of Mangle like we did for patch 3.3.3.

This was expected, though I’m not sure how you make it “slightly” less punishing. Perhaps our DoTs will ended up being a lower proportion of our damage, and/or SR will be less of a buff.

Balance druids will have a new talent ability called Nature’s Torrent, which strikes for either Nature or Arcane damage depending on which will do the most damage (or possibly both), and moves the Eclipse meter more (details below). The improved version of Nature’s Torrent also reduces the target’s movement speed. 10-second cooldown.

See? This is a good name for a balance spell. Is the mushroom committee taking notes? Moonkin needed another instant, and it looks like they’re getting it.

Restoration druids will have a new talent called Efflorescence, which causes a bed of healing flora to sprout beneath targets that are critically healed by Regrowth.

This is cool. I wonder if this will replace the HOT component on Regrowth.

We plan on giving Feral cats and bears a Kick/Pummel equivalent — an interrupt that is off the global cooldown and does no damage. We feel like they need this utility to be able to fill the melee role in a dungeon or raid group, and to give them more PvP utility.

About time…though if we get one, the rets will want one too, I’m sure. I’ve successfully been a part of an interrupt rotation with Maim, and it’s absolutely destructive to your DPS.

We want to make sure Feral and Balance druids feel like good options for an Arena team. They need the tools to where you might consider a Feral druid over an Arms warrior, or a Balance druid over a mage or warlock. Remember that the PvP landscape will probably look pretty different for Cataclysm with a focus on rated, competitive Battlegrounds.

Sounds good.

Mastery Passive Talent Tree Bonuses

Balance

  • Spell Damage
  • Spell Haste
  • Eclipse

Eclipse: We are moving Eclipse from a talent into a core mechanic of the class and making it less random. Balance druids will have a new UI element that shows a sun and a moon. Whenever they cast an Arcane spell, it will move the UI closer to the sun, and buff their Nature damage. Whenever they cast a Nature spell, it will move the UI closer to the moon, and buff their Arcane damage. The gameplay intention is to alternate Arcane and Nature spells (largely Starfire and Wrath) to maintain the balance.

Erm, okay, this seems contradictory. I can boost my damage in one school by primarily casting in that school…but I’m supposed to maintain a “balance?”

Feral (Cat)

  • Melee Damage
  • Melee Critical Damage
  • Bleed Damage

Lessee, way back on March 9th I said, “…bonus 1 will be Bear +damage reduction / Cat +damage increase, bonus 2 will be +agility, and bonus 3? Dunno. Maybe Cat +bleed damage, Bear +%HP?” Looks like I came pretty close. :P It doesn’t surprise me that they’re boosting crit damage instead of crit rate, with all the cap issues we’re having now.

Feral (Bear)

  • Damage Reduction
  • Vengeance
  • Savage Defense


Bleed Damage and Savage Defense: Feral druids will receive two sets of passive bonuses depending on whether the druid is in cat or bear form. Bleed Damage will be improved for cats. Savage Defense is the current bear mechanic for converting crits into damage absorption and will be improved for bears.

Vengeance: This is a mechanic to ensure that tank damage (and therefore threat) doesn’t fall behind as damage-dealing classes improve their gear during the course of the expansion. All tanking specs will have Vengeance as their second talent tree passive bonus. Whenever a tank gets hit, Vengeance will give them a stacking attack power buff equal to 5% of the damage done, up to a maximum of 10% of the character’s unbuffed health. For boss encounters we expect that tanks will always have the attack power bonus equal to 10% of their health. The 5% and 10% bonuses assume 51 talent points have been put into the Feral tree and the druid is in bear form — these values will be smaller at lower levels. Remember, you only get this bonus if you have spent the most talent points in the Feral tree and are in bear form, so you won’t see Balance, Restoration, or Feral druids in cat form running around with it. Vengeance will let us continue to make tank gear more or less the way we do today — there will be some damage-dealing stats, but mostly survival-oriented stats. Druids typically have more damage-dealing stats even on their tanking gear, so the Vengeance benefit may be smaller, but overall the goal is that all four tanks do about the same damage when tanking.

Kalon’s (Yes, THAT Kalon, he’s back, sorta. :)) got a long post up about Vengeance, so I won’t discuss it too much. I don’t really share his pessimism…I think Vengeance gives the developers a very easy option with which to boost tank damage/threat if needed.

Restoration

  • Healing
  • Meditation
  • HoT Scale Healing

HoT Scale Healing: HoTs will do increased healing on more wounded targets. The mechanic is similar to that of the Restoration shaman, but with HoTs instead of direct heals. In Cataclysm, we anticipate druids using a greater variety of their spells so there is a distinction between healing and HoT healing.

This is better for us then for a Shaman, I’d imagine, as this will help directly with what HoT’s are best at…high-efficiency HPS.

Overall? Ferals got a few new toys, but nothing overly special. We didn’t need much, honestly. A ranged silence would have been nice, but I’ll take the new interrupt for kitty form and be happy. Meanwhile, restos lost their iconic form, and got nothing of substance back in return, while moonkin got…mushrooms. Exploding mushrooms. Yeah, I’m happy to be a feral.

Mar 192010
 

Today, I’d like to take a look at the trinkets available to kitties in 3.3, and do some analysis on the best choices available. (Yes, I’m working on a post on DPS rotation mods as well, but that requires screenshots and installing and stuff, so that’ll take a few days.) There’s quite a few choices out there…some of the old items remain quite good, however. Let’s check them out. First, the list, sorted by location:

Before we jump in, the largest factor affecting the value of trinkets for ICC25 raiders is the critcap. Many of these trinkets have or proc crit. Crit has always been a decent stat for us…not as good as Agi or ArP, but better than anything else (not counting Str, since that’s not usually found as a secondary stat on leather). Once you reach the crit cap for white attacks, however (pretty easy in ICC25 gear), then crit drops in effectiveness. It’s not “bad,” so to speak, since it still affects your yellow attacks (especially with the 4pT10 bonus) but it becomes a worse stat to stack. At this point, you’ll be preferring ArPen proc trinkets until your ArPen is high enough, then Haste or AP.

ICC:

ICC gives you three trinkets- one great, one meh, and one crap. Deathbringer’s Will is by far the BiS trinket for ferals. The static ArP really helps with stacking ArP (as any feral raiding ICC25 should be trying to do), and all of the procs are good for you. (Plus, you can shift to flight form and fly as a Taunka, stealth as a Taunka, etc. Really cool.) You’ll have to fight several others for a chance at it, though. Sadly, I haven’t seen one drop the past four weeks. The Tiny Abomination in a Jar is absolute crap, though. Don’t touch it. The proc’ed Mote attack uses your unimproved paw damage, and can’t proc OOC. It’s about as strong as a blue for us…just ew. Finally, the Whispering Fanged Skull from 10M is very good. Unfortunately, it has +crit (see above.) Good for ICC10, but falls off a bit after that.

TOC:

Just like ICC, you have one great trinket and one mediocre. Death’s Verdict/Choice is an excellent trinket (currently my #2). Unfortunately, it has the same critcap problem as the WFS since it procs agility. The agi proc is so massive, though, that the increase in special attack crits mostly compensate. Victor’s Call/VOTF from 10M is pretty bad, unless you’re very well geared and have 0 expertise (ie the lack of expertise is causing you to be prematurely crit-capped).

Ulduar:

Ulduar is trinket heaven, especially on hard mode. The cream of the crop here is the Mjolnir Runestone. Of the three ArP proc trinkets, this is the best in most situations, and remains a very good trinket until your ArP level is high enough to make the proc less useful. It’s better than the Scorpion since it procs on hit, not crit, giving it a better uptime. Comet’s Trail is also very good, and has no cap issues, but it’s not exactly easy to get (Algalon 25 drop). Blood of the Old God is decent, but the large amount of +hit makes it hard to use fully. If you can use it and keep under the +hit cap, it’s pretty good. The rest? Dark Matter is good but will critcap you very quickly (612 crit rating proc? Ouch), and it’s hard to get (Algalon 10).  Wrathstone and Pyrite Infuser are obsolete, though they’re still decent and better than some other options.

Naxx:

Grim Toll is generally the worst of the three ArP trinkets, but it actually retains its value a bit longer. T10 gear tends to lack hit in favor of crit; if you’re critcapped, then GT can be used in place of MR or NES, and actually is the superior option (especially if you have enough ArP that you waste some of the proc from MR or NES). There’s several other trinkets here that are decent for starting ferals, though finding a Naxx run is almost impossible these days.

5-mans:

Besides some blue trinkets from the normal instances, there’s two you’re looking for: The Needle-Encrusted Scorpion from H FOS and the Banner of Victory from N TOC5. As previously mentioned, the Scorpion is a great trinket and remains competitive up though ICC25; however, it’s not as good as the Runestone, and depending on your situation, may be worse then Grim Toll. The Banner is a great starter trinket, seeing as you can grind N TOC until you get it- be prepared for a wait, though, because it only has a 7.5% drop rate.

Badges/Crafted:

The real star here is the Herkuml War Token. It’s expensive (60 EoF’s) but it’s currently the #2 BIS trinket, once you have enough ArP to devalue the ArP proc trinkets. Haste scales with haste and has no cap issues (so you really need the WF/IIT buffs to make this effective, but it’ll keep getting better). Shard of the Crystal Heart and Mark of Supremacy are much easier to obtain, but they’re pretty mediocre. They have tons of +hit, which isn’t a great stat for ferals at early gear levels…and once you get to higher gear levels, you’ll have access to better anyway. It’s an option if you’re unlucky with drops, I suppose. If you’re just starting out, the Mirror of Truth is still a very decent trinket, and cheap as well. Finally, the Darkmoon Card: Greatness remains very good for its item level, and it’s also a great tanking trinket. I highly recommend new feral druids picking one of these up if you can afford it.

Top 5 List/Conclusion:

To conclude, I’ve come up with three different Top 5 lists. Why 3? Well, a list including ICC 25 items isn’t very useful for an new player/alt just starting heroics. :P I’ve run appropriate gearsets with appropriate buffs through Rawr, and the numbers are below (100′s of dps…so 2.5 means 250 dps…take numbers as very loose approximations).

Starter (Heroics):

  1. Needle-Encrusted Scorpion (HFOS)- 2.5
  2. Darkmoon Card: Greatness (Crafted)- 2.1
  3. Banner of Victory (N TOC)- 1.8
  4. Mark of Supremacy (50 EoT’s)- 1.7 (assuming you can use all the hit)
  5. Mirror of Truth (40 EoV’s)- 1.6

The Scorpion and the DM:G are easily your best options at this level; the others are pretty interchangeable. If I was starting over, I’d purchase the DM:G and toss some random blue/green in the other slot until I got the Scorpion.

Pugger (TOC 25/ICC 10, no access to Algalon, saving EoF’s for T10):

  1. Whispering Fanged Skull (ICC 10)- 3.9
  2. Death’s Verdict/Choice (TOC 25)- 3.8
  3. Mjolnir Runestone/Needle-Encrusted Scorpion (Uld10HM/HFOS)- 3.5
  4. Darkmoon Card: Greatness (Crafted)- 2.8
  5. Banner of Victory (N TOC)- 2.3

Not much to say here: WFS/DV (or DC)/ArP trinket…pick two.

Raider (ICC 25)

  1. Deathbringer’s Will (ICC 25)- 5.6
  2. Herkuml War Token (60 EoF’s)- 4.9 (my #1 atm)
  3. Whispering Fanged Skull (ICC 10)- 4.7
  4. Death’s Verdict/Choice (TOC 25)- 4.6  (my #2 atm)
  5. Mjolnir Runestone/Needle-Encrusted Scorpion (Uld10HM/HFOS)- 4.6

Things get interesting here. DBW is massively better than the alternatives, but #2 is pretty close. The ArP trinket can fall anywhere from #2 to #5 (or lower) depending on your current amount of ArP, among other things. If you’re just starting ICC25, then it’ll be ranked higher; once you pass the ArP softcap, its value will drop. If you get to ICC hardmodes and start shooting for the hard ArP cap, there’s not much change: Heroic DBW, DBW, Herkuml, Heroic DV/DC, Heroic WFS, WFS.

Well, that should wrap it up for trinkets until Cata! If you disagree, have questions, or whatever, post a short comment here, or feel free to use the TFD forums. Thanks for reading!

Jan 032010
 

Introduction

To start out our gearing guide, we’ll look at the things that won’t change much: your glyphs, professions, and enchants. I’ll then take a quick general look at gems and consumables, and finish with a look at the raid buffs that best benefit feral DPS’ers.

Note: For each item, I’m including an approximate dps value for a T9 feral in a well-balanced 25-man raid. Take the numbers with several grains of salt, as everything scales off each other. Really, it’s better to look at the ratios. I’m specifically not giving numbers for buffs for that reason.

EDIT: Doh, hit publish before adding links. Wowhead links up now.

Glyphs

  • Glyph of Savage Roar (~190 dps) – Recommended. An extra 3% damage is hard to beat.
  • Glyph of Rip (~133 dps) – Recommended. It’s not sexy like the Shred glyph, but an extra 4 seconds on Rip is always good.
  • Glyph of Shred (~225 dps) – Recommended. 2 extra seconds on Rip for each Shred, up to 3? Yes please.
  • Glyph of Berserk (~84 dps) – Situational. An extra 5 seconds of Berserk is basically 50 more energy every 3 minutes. On a static fight, the other glyphs are better, but if you’re moving/target switching a lot and can’t get 2-3 shreds in consistently to maximize your Shred Glyph, consider this.
  • Glyph of Mangle (~25 dps) – Not recommended. Even in the worst-case situation (mangle duty, not talented into Imp. Mangle) this is worse than the other options.

Professions

Your professions can give your DPS a good boost. As always, the overall “best” choice is BS/JC (extra sockets and better gems gives much more flexibility for gemming), but don’t feel constrained by that, as the differences are rather small.

  • Jewelcrafting: 3 +34 agi/ArPen gems, which replace 3 +20 gems (~58 dps)
  • Blacksmithing: 2 extra sockets (+40 Agi/ArPen) (~56 dps)
  • Engineering: +340 haste/12s once per minute on gloves, normalizes to +68 haste, which replaces +44AP glove enchant (~56 dps)
  • Alchemy: +80AP Mixology bonus on Flask of Endless Rage (~50 dps)
  • Enchanting: +40AP enchant on rings (~50 dps)
  • Inscription: +80AP shoulder enchant bonus (~50 dps)
  • Leatherworking: +80AP bracer enchant bonus (~50 dps)
  • Tailoring: +400 AP proc with roughly 30% uptime; normalizes to +120AP, which replaces +22 agi cloak enchant (~45 dps)
  • Skinning: +40 crit bonus (~40 dps)
  • Herbalism: Small self-heal (0 dps)
  • Mining: +60 Stamina (0 dps)

Enchants

Head: Arcanum of Torment (~50 dps)
Notes: If your rep isn’t high enough for the top-end enchant, the old BC rep chant or the PVP chant are mediocre replacements. (For the cost, though, you might as well just wait until you rep up, shouldn’t take long. )

Shoulders: Greater Inscription of the Axe (~40 dps)
Alternatives: Master’s Inscription of the Axe (scribes, ~90 dps), Lesser Inscription of the Axe (~30 dps)
Notes: Get the best Sons of Hodir chant you can, or train inscription and skip it entirely. (Remember they’re BtA now so only one toon needs to Hodir repgrind)

Back: Major Agility (~32 dps) or Greater Speed (~30 dps)
Alternatives: Swordguard Embroidery (tailors, ~85 dps), Flexweave Underlay (engineers, ~33 dps)
Notes: Both are pretty close; Major Agility is slightly better, but may be worse if you’re over white crit cap. Swordguard is much better than either if you’re a tailor.

Chest: Powerful Stats (~25 dps)
Alternatives: Super Stats (~20 dps)
Notes: Get the best you can afford.

Wrist: Greater Assault (~30 dps)
Alternatives: Fur Lining – Attack Power (leatherworkers, ~80 dps)
Notes: The expertise enchant is not competitive.

Hands: Crusher (~27 dps) or Major Agility (~26 dps)
Alternatives: Hyperspeed Accelerators (engineers, ~83 dps)
Notes: Crusher for pure DPS pieces, Major agi for shared pieces.

Legs: Icescale Leg Armor or LW equiv (~68 dps)
Alternatives: Nerubian Leg Armor or LW equiv (~49 dps)
Notes: Get the best you can afford.

Feet: Icewalker (~27 dps) or Superior Agility (~22 dps) or Greater Assault (~20 dps)
Alternatives: Nitro Boosts (engineers, ~24 dps)
Notes: Icewalker is superior if you need the +hit; if not, get one of the other two. Nitros are pretty close if you’re an engineer and want an extra Dash.

Rings: Assault (enchanters, ~25dps*2)
Alternatives: none
Notes: No-brainer here. If you can enchant your rings, do it.

Weapon: Berserking (~85 dps) or Massacre (~85 dps)
Alternatives: Mongoose (~75 dps), Greater Savagery (~65 dps), Executioner (~60 dps)
Notes: Mongoose is an excellent choice for a weapon that is shared between cat and bear sets. Some people prefer Massacre’s permanent buff (+110 AP) to Berserking’s proc (+400 AP, generally 25-30% uptime)…they’re very close, so take your pick. I prefer Berserking of the two since it goes very well with a speed pot…that said, I stick with Mongoose. If you’re close to the ArPen hardcap, Executioner’s ArPen proc may be superior, but I wouldn’t generally recommend it. (Oh, and get Greater Savagery if you’re cheap.)

Gems

Gemming is where things get seriously complex, due to the multiple cap problem discussed above. Because of this, I’ll just discuss gemming in general here, and then talk more about proper gemming when I look at each gearset in later sections. I’m not specifically mentioning Dragon’s Eye varieties; substitute those if you’re a Jewelcrafter. (Note: If you’re still gearing up, feel free to substitute the blue or green variety of the gem listed. Bad players blow all their cash on epic gems/top-end chants in ilvl 187/ 200 gear, or worse, don’t gem/chant it at all. Good players realize that in comparison to a 200g epic gem, a 5g green gem has 60% of the stats and a 20g blue gem has 80%.)

Meta: Relentless Earthsiege Diamond (~230 dps)
Alternatives: Chaotic Skyflare Diamond (~220 dps)
Notes: A CSD may seem better if crit > agi for you, but realize that you have to socket 2 blues/purples to activate it, which results in less optimal gemming overall.

Red: Delicate Cardinal Ruby (~28 dps)
Alternatives: Fractured Cardinal Ruby (~28 dps), Bold Cardinal Ruby (~28 dps)
Notes: Red gems are the best overall gems. Delicate (agi) gems are the best default choice, but once you go over white crit cap or come close to capping ArPen, Fractured (ArPen) is superior. If you have capped both agi and ArPen, Bold (str, which doesn’t cap) is the fallback. (Yes, at this gear level, individual gems are within rounding distance of each other.)

Yellow: Deadly Ametrine (~26 dps)
Alternatives: Agility combos (Deft Ametrine, Glinting Ametrine), Strength combos (Inscribed Ametrine, Fierce Ametrine, Etched Ametrine) (all around ~26 dps), Hit/Exp (Accurate Ametrine) (~24 dps)
Notes: Generally, yellow sockets should be matched with yellow gems to get socket bonuses, unless the socket bonus is worthless or the item has a blue slot also which you’re not matching. If agi is better than str for you, grab a 10 agi/10 X gem, with X being whichever substat benefits you best…if str is better, do likewise with a 10 str/10 X. I’ve included the 10 hit/10 exp gem as a possibility; it’s not competiti may come out very well when I model full T10 gear.

Blue: Nightmare Tear (unique, ~28 dps)
Alternatives: Shifting Dreadstone (~14 dps)
Notes: Unlike yellow gems, blue gems are pretty bad, DPS-wise. You should fill one blue socket with a Nightmare Tear, which is good, and shared bear pieces can take an agi/stam gem, but normally you’ll just slot in whichever red is best for you and forego the socket bonus.

Consumables

Nom nom nom.

Food: Blackened Dragonfin (agi, ~65 dps)
Alternatives: Hearty Rhino (ArPen, ~65 dps), Dragonfin Filet (str, ~65 dps), Fish Feast (AP, ~55 dps)
Notes: Pretty simple: eat for whatever your best stat is. Fish Feasts are slightly suboptimal, but they’re much better than nothing.

Flasks/Elixirs: Flask of Endless Rage (~115 dps)
Alternatives: Guru’s Elixir (~60 dps)
Notes: The flask is really your only good option, as the other elixirs don’t even come close. Guru’s Elixirs are dirt cheap though, so feel free to use them for content that doesn’t merit a 40g flask.

Scrolls: Scroll of Agility VIII (~45 dps) or Scroll of Strength VIII (~45 dps)
Notes: People usually overlook scrolls, but if you’re in a group that doesn’t have a DK/Shaman (for Horn of Winter/Strength of Earth totem), these scrolls can give you a bit of a buff.

Potions: Potion of Speed (~600 dps while active, so about ~30 dps for a 5 minute fight)
Notes: Try to stack with any +AP/+Crit procs, if you can. If you have good coordination with your tank, you can pop one right before the pull, get a few seconds of buff out of it, and still be able to pop a full one 2m in. Not super useful, but helpful.

Raid Buffs

While you don’t really have any control over this, here’s a list of the (major) raid buffs/debuffs which will increase your DPS, with a note over who brings what and a rough estimate of how big a buff it is. I’ve included our own buffs for comparison. TLDR version: bribe your RL to bring an enhancement shaman and a ret pally.

  • Improved Icy Talons/Improved Windfury Totem (+20% haste, frost DK or enhancement shaman; any shaman can drop regular WF totem for a 16% buff): +6% DPS, +5% unimproved
  • Abomination’s Might/Trueshot Aura/Unleashed Rage (+10% AP, blood DK/marks hunter/enhancement shaman): +6% DPS
  • Horn of Winter/Strength of Earth Totem (+155 str/agi, any DK/shaman, enhancement shamans can talent for an additional +23): +5% DPS, +6% improved
  • Sunder Armor/Expose Armor/Acid Spit (20% enemy armor reduction, any warrior/rogue/certain hunter pet): +5% DPS
  • Blessing of Might/Battle Shout (+550 AP, any warrior/paladin, ret paladins/DPS warriors can talent for an additional +137): +4% DPS, +5% improved
  • Blood Frenzy/Savage Combat (+4% physical damage taken, arms warrior/combat rogue): +4% DPS
  • Blessing of Kings (+10% base stats, any paladin, +8% version available to all classes via item): +4% DPS, +3% unimproved
  • Leader of the Pack/Rampage (+5% melee crit, feral druid/fury warrior): +4% DPS
  • Arcane Empowerment/Ferocious Inspiration/Sanctified Retribution (+3% damage, arcane mage/BM hunter/ret paladin): +3% DPS
  • Heart of the Crusader/Master Poisoner/Totem of Wrath (+3% crit, ret paladin/mutilate rogue/elemental shaman): +2% DPS
  • Mark of the Wild (+51 all stats, armor/resistances, any druid, +37 version available to all classes via item): +2% DPS
  • Mangle/Trauma (+30% bleed damage, feral druid/arms warrior): +1% DPS (Note: this refers to someone else putting up the debuff, meaning you can drop Mangle from your rotation. No bleed debuff will drop your DPS by about 10% or so.)
  • Imp. Moonkin Form/Swift Retribution (+3% haste, balance druid/ret pally): +1% DPS

Well, that’s it for this wall o’ text. In part 2, I’ll put out a gear list for a T9 geared druid (badges/new heroics) and look at his stat values, to see how the gemming shakes out. Later!

Jan 032010
 

Welcome to the 3.3 Cat Gearing guide! Icecrown is upon us, and it’s time to shred Arthas and his minions, piece by piece. (Since they’re undead, after all. Quick thought: exactly how do my bleed attacks hurt them, anyway? Thankfully, there’s some backup firepower.)

Ferals are in a very interesting place right now, theorywise; our stats have risen to the point where we are bumping into multiple caps, and proper gemming seems to change on a daily basis. (This is due to the fact that gear ilevel is higher than the devs expected pre-Wrath, because of hardmodes.) This is not an exclusively feral problem, by any means, but it does make optimization very difficult. While there have been many things written about gearing options, most haven’t taken enough variables into account. Proper suggestions for a HM raider, vs a new raider, are very different; however, too many people have attempted to synthesize gear decisions into an overly simplistic decision matrix that may or may not be applicable.  

So, for my gear advice, I’ll actually build three “BIS lists,” and provide advice for each:

  • The 5-man/alt “casual player.” This player doesn’t raid frequently or on a high level, but is interested in good performance. Gear focused around non-raiding pieces (ilvl 232/badge 245).
  • The progression raider. This player wants to maximize his DPS to complete the story and finish off LK. Gear focused around normal-mode 25-man raiding (ilvl 264). (If there’s interest, I may work one up for 10m strict raiders.)
  • The hardmode raider. This player will pull out all the stops to boost their dps…or they’re going to be benched for someone else. No gear limits.

Before getting to those sets, though, I’ll start with some discussion on the things that won’t change (much), like enchants, metagems, buffs, etc. I’ll eventually roll all of this into the overall cat guide that I”m putting together. Anyway, on to Part 1! As always, leave me comments and I’ll fix anything that’s wrong. :)

Nov 272009
 

Guess what? I am a World Top 25 feral druid, as ranked by World of Logs…

See here for proof.

As such, there’s going to be a change in attitude around here. Now that I’m leet and all, I will require full acknowledgement of my epic status before providing help to anyone…and much bowing and scraping will be required.

(Aren’t small sample sizes fun?) :)

Oct 092009
 

So, I woke up this morning, saw that the T10 set bonuses had been released (including a VERY puzzling Resto bonus), and hit my usual blogs expecting some informed discussion.

Guess what? Apparently, nobody cares about the bonuses, and what they mean for upcoming fights, etc., etc., they’d rather complain about how hideous the T10 Resto Druid helm looks. Confession time: I have honestly no idea what most of my armor pieces look like…I’ve had my helm turned off ever since I got the gimp mask (better known as the Titan-Forged Leather Helm from WG). Anyway, now that we know what really motivates our beloved resto druid bloggers, let’s take a look at the druid set bonii.

Bear 2P Bonus – Your Swipe (Bear) and Lacerate abilities deal 20% additional damage.

This is a decent bonus. The extra damage on Swipe is nice for AOE tanking, obviously, and since every tank class got an AOE ability buffed with the 2p, I’d imagine that we’ll have a good bit of that in Icecrown. (Not to mention that our AOE range on Swipe was increased.) Lacerate only accounts for about 10% of our damage, so it’s not as good a bonus as it is for, say, the prot warriors, who got their 20% buff on Shockwave and Shield Slam.

Bear 4P Bonus – Your Enrage ability no longer decreases your armor and instead decreases all damage taken by 12%.

This is a VERY nice bonus. (of course, all the tanks got something like this for their 4p). 12% mitigation every 10s works out to an extra 2% mitigation overall; of course, with something like this, you may very well end up chaining it with Barkskin for a 32% mitigation effect every minute. Can’t wait to see the boss that these cooldowns were built for.

Cat 2P Bonus – The cost of your Rip ability is reduced by 10 energy.

This is pretty bad. Let’s do some quick mental math. With the Glyphs of Rip and Shred, a Rip lasts 22 seconds (12s + 4s for Rip glyph + 3*2s for Shred glyph) Assuming you can keep 100% Rip uptime, the set bonus saves you 10 energy every 22s, or roughly 27 energy per minute. That’s about half of one Shred…so you get an extra Shred every minute and a half or so. That puts it around 80 extra dps, assuming an average Shred hits for 7k damage.
However, you’re not going to be able to keep a 100% Rip uptime. It’ll certainly be boss dependent, but I’d probably cut calculated dps values for the set bonus by a third to a half for single-target fights, depending on movement/phases/etc. Add fights are a more interesting case, though, since you’ll be able to Rip a second earlier then usual. For comparison’s sake, I’d say the 2pT9 bonus is worth double this.

Cat 4P Bonus – The periodic damage done by your Rake ability can now be a critical strike.

This sounds great! The theorycrafters are going to have to give the final word on this one, but our crit rates are going to be through the roof, so a 6-7% DPS increase seems about right. We’ll have to see what the stats look like on the Tier gear to know whether this signals the death of ArPen stacking…the crit from agi now benefits an additional ability, but the agi cap’s getting mighty close, as I predicted in my ArPen FAQ.

Restoration 2P Bonus – The healing granted by your Wild Growth spell reduces 0% less over time.

As I mentioned in the comments to my previous post, this is pretty good, but not game-changing. If I remember my WG numbers right, it hits for about 800 to start, then 760, 720, etc., ending at 560. 4760 total per target. If they remove the cost reduction, that’ll jump to 800*7=5600. That’s a very nice increase, about 17%. Unfortunately, due to the mechanics of the spell, the last few ticks (which gain the most from the set bonus) usually get overhealed. Lisanna thinks (and I agree) that the 0% is a placeholder, and that they’ll eventually settle on a partial cost reduction, but not total. 50% sounds about right to me.

Restoration 4P Bonus – Each time your Rejuvenation spell heals a target, it has a 2% chance to jump to a new target at full duration.

Wow. Ok, let’s break this down. There’s several big unknowns here:
1. Does it “jump” (ala PoM) or copy? If it “jumps,” (i.e. Rejuv falls off current target, starts fresh on second target) then I’d call the set bonus harmful, not beneficial. I can’t believe Blizz would do that, so let’s call it a copy (i.e. every Rejuv tick has a 2% chance to create a Rejuv on another player)
2. How is the target picked? Smart targeting makes this more useful; random targeting, not so much. Will it jump to a target that already has Rejuv? If so, will it just refresh the HOT or add a full duration of time? Does it have a range limitation? I’ll assume random targeting/refreshing/all players in range.
3. Is the new HOT affected by Nature’s Splendor (does it get the 3 extra seconds?). Is it Swiftmendable? Let’s say yes/yes.

Basically, it boils down to this. In 3.2, you could roll Rejuv on 15 targets (while keeping WG on CD.) Now, you can keep it up on 12. Each Rejuv has a 10% total to proc another Rejuv, so we’ll end up with slightly over 13 targets having it, if the heal is smart. If not, we’re looking at 12.5, since half those Rejuvs will be wasted on people who already have it. Someone explain to me how this is a good set bonus, as currently written?

Balance 2P Bonus – When you gain Clearcasting from your Omen of Clarity talent, you deal 15% additional Nature and Arcane damage for 6 seconds.

I’m not as familiar with Moonkin as I am with other specs, so I can’t do any math on this, but it sounds fairly weak. OOC generally procs about 2x/min or so for moonkin, so you’re looking at 12 seconds of buff time per minute, for a theoretical 3% damage bonus. Unfortunately, you’re going to lose some of that due to spells not perfectly matching the buff duration. I also have no idea how it stacks with Eclipse or other stuff, which would make it better.

Balance 4P Bonus – Your critical strikes from Starfire and Wrath cause the target languish for an additional 5% of your spell’s damage over 4 seconds.

That’s it? A 5% damage boost, but only on crits, and only on SF and Wrath, drops it to like 2% (assuming the DOT’s don’t overwrite, which would REALLY suck). That’s horrible (considering the Feral DPS 4p)

Oct 062009
 

Work, ugh. Quick roundup of good druid posts from other sites since I don’t have the time to do my own:

Bears: Kalon at Thinktank has updated his gear guide to include Ony and PVP gears. Basically: Top-tier PVP gear (Relentless) is close to BIS, just behind 25-man heroic gear. PVP gear = more survivability; PVE gear = more threat. An invaluable resource as always.

Cats: Not much new here; so I’ll take the opportunity to tout FeralByNight again. FBN is a DPS rotation tool that continually analyzes several factors (your buffs and their time remaining, # of CP’s, energy, boss HP, positioning) to give you the “best-choice” solution for maximum DPS. It’s not perfect, and you won’t get your max DPS until you learn when to go against its reccomendations, but it’s perfect for learning feral priorities.

Moonkin: Graylo and others have talked about WiseEclipse, the addon that can increase your dps considerably by maximizing your Eclipse uptimes. Read Graylo’s post at Gray Matter for more details.

Trees: Some discussion about the nerf to Rejuvenation in 3.3 at Restokin. Blizzard seems to be gently but firmly pushing us into the “support healer” role by nerfing our ability to heal burst raid damage. I might expand this into a full post later, if I get a chance.

Bear guide to continue soon(TM).

Sep 182009
 

BBB has started a trend, with his excellent bear tank creed.

Alt Fanatic continued it, with his tree creed.

Here’s my humble contribution.

 

The Panther Creed.

I am a panther of death. Fear me.

I am a skilled and experienced fighter, trained to defeat my enemy.

If I fight alone, I am weak. If the enemy fights alone, he is weak. With my pack, I am strong. I can overcome all challenges with the support of my pack.

I shall provide my companions with the blessings of the jungle, to enhance their skills in the ways of war.

I shall not rely on my companions to provide enhancing sustenance; I shall provide my own, as I am self-reliant.

I shall follow my commander’s orders, even if they leave me no personal glory. There is no glory in defeat.

I shall always attack my enemy from behind, as the deadliest attack is the one unseen.

I shall let those with plate armor or bear posterior absorb the enemy’s blows. I will NEVER draw the enemy’s attention, as I fly far and crumple well when kicked.

I shall intimidate the enemy with my roars, so that my attacks strike deep.

I shall endeavor to keep the enemy bleeding and crippled, watching as his life slowly drains away.

I shall illuminate the enemy with faeries’ fire, so that my companions’ accuracy will be aided.

I shall glyph for Savage Roar, Rip, and Shred, so that my voice be stronger, and my opponent’s bleeding be torrential.

I shall remain aware of the conditions of my pack, so that I may restore a companion’s life or energy at a moment’s notice.

I shall remain aware of the battlefield. I will ALWAYS get out of the fire, as singed fur smells awful, and greatly displeases our clergy.

If our enemy defeats us, I will examine my equipment and tactics, to seek to improve my contribution to the pack. If we defeat our enemy, I will praise my companions for their efforts. I shall not revel in personal glory.

Above all, I am a Guardian of Cenarius, and a protector of the peoples of the Alliance. As I protect them, so does Elune protect me.

I AM…a panther of death. Fear me.

Sep 182009
 

I just had one of those playing nights that reminded me how OP druids are much fun I have now having a druid main. (BTW, There’s an excellent post on Altosis about how the continued accumulation of achievements, mounts, pets, etc. has made mains “more mainy,” and some good discussion about hybrid classes vs. pure classes. Check it out.) 

  • 8:30 PM: Joined my casual guild’s Ulduar 25 raid, as a tree. (I haven’t been raiding much recently, since I’ve been spending more time with my family, so it was nice to be back.) Guild had been working on him for two weeks, mostly struggling with construct tanking, from the overheard vent chatter. I log in, sub in for a DPS, and we one-shot him. (Yeah, it was all me! Really!) :)  2nd or 3rd HPS for the fight, if I remember correctly, a nice belt replacement for my healing set, and I finally got the Siege 25 achievement done. Went on to Iron Council…almost one-shot, but had a bad death rune/lightning whirl combo on Runemaster. Tried a couple more times, but Steelbreaker kept one-shotting our tank with rune-powered punches, so we called it for the night.
  • 10:30 PM: Switched to my Bearcat spec, pulled top DPS during a H Oculus run (daily), and did the 4 Ruby + healer strat on Eregos to get the Emerald/Amber Void achievements. Incredibly easy.
  • 11:15 PM: Win the easiest Wintergrasp ever…wow. On defense, I usually go resto and heal the zerg, but there was no zerg. Horde only had 1 workshop for probably 90% of the battle. Cool moment: About 6-8 horde successfully reached the wall, killed a couple of our guys and started clearing turrets. I ran back into the keep, spec-changed/gearswitched to Feral (Outfitter/DualSpec addons, how I love you for two-click changes. BTW, Does anyone else feel that they need a phone booth or something when they change gearsets?), stealthed out to the group, and solo-killed the 2 demos that were rolling in before getting zerged. “Kitty’s in ur rear, shredding ur demos!”
  • 11:30 PM: Join a PUG VoA 10…I offer to tank or heal, but incredibly, we have enough of each, so I stay dps. One of the tanks bites it on Koralon at about 20%, so I blow my last CP”s and shift to bear, eating the Meteor Fists with SI+Barkskin. Sure, I died pretty quickly as the healers weren’t prepared…but I got the tank through that Meteor Fists, giving the rest of the raid enough time to finish him. AND…got my first piece of T9! It’s not much of an upgrade, though, going from T8.25 legs to T9.10, though, so now I’ve got to rethink my EOT gear strategy. I had planned to buy the Duskstalker shoulders next (since I’m still using the T7.25 in that slot, with 4pT8), but I may buy the T9 gloves first for the 2pT9 set bonus, since I’m using T8.10 in that slot. Hmm.
Sep 182009
 

As one can CLEARLY see, when analyzing a chi-square regression of the relative DPS values of cats scaled by ArPen vs. expertise and crit, we can conclude…

Kidding, I swear. Just wanted to point out that the pro theorycrafters have covered this as well: Kalon here and here, Runy here. (Runy- how many cows were harmed in the making of that post?)  Me? I’m just a dude with Excel and some free time at work. :)  Pretty much, we’ve all come to the same conclusions, which is that ArPen gemming starts making sense around the Ulduar 25/TotC 10 gear levels, assuming all the buffs are covered and whatnot.