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

  • Dream of Cenarius: Nourish, Healing Touch, and Regrowth increase the damage done by your next 2 Moonfire or Sunfire casts by 65% (was 50%) or by your next 2 melee abilities by 25% (was 50%).

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 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 052012
 

Since I think the talent tiers are about as done as they’re going to be, (though I hope Displacer Beast still gets changed, for its owns sake) I went ahead and wrote up a longer article on the first three Druid talent tiers for balance and feral. You can find it over on WoW Insider, as always. Next week, I’ll tackle Tier 4-6, and hopefully get some reasonably solid SimulationCraft numbers. Last time I checked, I think balance favored Incarnation and feral favored FoN, but that was a while ago and they’ve made changes this then.

I’d like to discuss Heart of the Wild some more as well, but I don’t have a good feel as to where it is in terms of off-role performance. (I’m not talking about the passive buff. That’s boring and OP.) I’ve heard 50-60% thrown around; if anyone has any date, I’d be interested in seeing it.

 

 Posted by at 11:52 pm
Jul 262012
 

I’ve completed the guide page for the Mists of Pandaria druid talents, located here. Feel free to check it out and comment as you see fit; I’ll be revising it as talents change for the beta.

Also, I know everyone in the world’s covered it already, but just in case you missed it, the travel form model is now a stag by default. Previously, you had to glyph it to get that effect; now, though, they apparently like it enough that it became the default, and you have to glyph if you want the old cheetah form back. You can also glyph to allow your stag form to be ridable by others, if you choose. Works for me; cheetah and cat were too similar for my liking. Hit the link for pics.

(man, defaults to stag sounds like me in college.)

 Posted by at 10:25 am
Jul 242012
 

So, my column this week for WoW Insider was a “wait, why am I playing this class again?” screed, and it apparently struck a communal nerve. My columns don’t usually get 90 comments. :)

I don’t think I need to share with this audience why druids are awesome (Seal form + Vash’jir…fun times) but I just wanted to reassure people that I wasn’t going anywhere. Yes, I have a brand-new monk blog; yes, I’ve been enamored with them lately. As of right now, though, I don’t see my monk getting past “main alt” status. I just love Flying Serpent Kick. :)

Anyway I’m beginning work on the full guide pages that will be up for the Mists release, so you’ll start to (finally) see more options appearing on the drop-down menus. If there’s anything specific you’d like to see, let me know!

 Posted by at 3:01 pm
Jul 132012
 

A lot of people are pointing to the Mists trailer being shown at Gamescom (August 16th) as a signal that the expansion will be released in late August.

I don’t buy that. Why? Couple reasons.

  • DS nerf needs more time.  The Dragon Soul nerf won’t hit 30% until early August. If we look at Cataclysm, ICC hit 30% in July, but the expansion didn’t release until December. Yes, if you’re reading this you’re sick of DS already, but there’s hundreds of guilds still progressing who might get over the hump at 30%.
  • Trend of betas being longer. Adam had a great post on this back in April. BC beta was 95 days, Wrath was 128, Cata was 159. This beta started on March 20th, so a 190-200 day beta would see Mists land in late September/early October.
  • Jade Forest still isn’t done. That seems rather…major.
  • Guild Wars 2 releases August 28. This is the biggest reason people are predicting August…but the fact is, Blizzard generally doesn’t program expansion releases against competition. Patches, though? Sure. I could definitely see the 5.0 mechanics hitting on that date.
  • Datamined Brewfest items are Mists-caliber. Brewfest starts on September 20th. While I don’t think that’ll hold things up significantly if it went longer (they’d just move Brewfest back a week, most likely), it’s a good indicator.
  • First wave of Annual Passes ends in late October. Assuming they announce a new Annual Pass (likely) that won’t contain Mists (very likely), then they’ll want to make it available very close to the Mists release date. The WoW AP came out on October 21st, so a new one needs to be out or announced a week or two before then.

Back in January, I said “D3 in April, Mists in October.” Even though D3 slipped to May, I still think I’m pretty close. My guess:

Late July: 5.0 patch date announced.
16 August: Gamescom trailer, Mists release date announced.
28 August: 5.0 patch released.
4 September: 5.0.1 patch released to fix all the stuff 5.0 broke, Mists world event starts.
11 September: Not going to happen. Too many negative connotations still.
18 September: Possible release date.
25 September: More likely release date, with Brewfest being moved back a week and shinied up some.
Mid-October: Annual Pass 2 announced, reward is free HotS when it releases (plus free SCII if you don’t have it yet). No beta access this time, or at least restricted better.

(Yes, this is all part of my “prove me wrong, release it in August” ploy.) What do you think?

 Posted by at 9:31 am