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 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
Jul 012012
 

My latest column is up over at WoWI on the latest changes for balance druids: Fae Empowerment and more Starsurge  procs. TLDR version: FE is decent, but it’s complicating the rotation for little benefit. (Kinda like FB for ferals back in early Wrath…you stood to gain a little or lose a lot, depending on how you timed it, and this is the same.) I like the extra Starsurge procs though, and I think both changes help smooth out the “turret” feel moonkin have.

I’ve also gone back and updated the Symbiosis page, which is now complete (yay!) though it may not be 100% accurate (boo!). If you see any mistakes, please let me know and I’ll correct them.

 Posted by at 9:06 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 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).

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
May 102012
 
580epicdruidcat

Previously, Ghostcrawler had said that Incarnation would add armored forms, and the first models for these appear to be in the game files as of the latest patch. (They are not yet actually tied to Incarnation in-game, however, so there’s a very slim possibility that this could be for something completely different.) Go check out the models using wowhead’s modelviewer, and see what you think.  Personally, I’m not a fan of adding armor to the cat form, but I understand there’s a very limited number of ways you can visually “buff” an animal avatar, so I’m okay with it. This would be cool, though. (Kidding.)

Also, Nature’s Vigil no longer works for AoE abilities, which I expected. (Sorry restoration druids, no temporarily topping the DPS charts with Tranquility.)

 Posted by at 1:43 pm
May 082012
 

While I’m going to save further comment on the reworked level 90 talents for my weekend WoW Insider column, there is one recurring argument against Heart of the Wild that I think is somewhat lacking in merit, and I’d like to discuss here. I think Cantor’s comment from my last post summarizes the argument well:

“The issue I still have with DoC and HotW is that they’re based on role-shifting, which breaks encounters. You really can’t argue that they don’t – a 10-man raid with multiple Druids essentially has additional healers or tanks on-demand in the middle of a fight, which WILL lead to stacking for world-first DPS races or healing checks and so on.”

In response to that, here’s my observations:

  • No additional numbers WoW raiding is based around numbers. No way around it. Looking at 10H Ultraxion for a second, we see the median kill attempt did 250k DPS and 85k HPS,  while the median wipe did 210k DPS and 60k HPS. (Of course, these numbers are adjusting over time to the percentage nerfs; a 210k DPS/60k HPS attempt today would probably net a kill.) HotW will let you temporarily flip some damage->healing or healing-> damage, but that doesn’t help you much if the fight has consistent damage and healing requirements; you’re better off asking healers or DPS to use their alternate spec as appropriate.
  • Long cooldown Even if HotW does prove useful, it’s a long way from “useful” to “trivializing.” The 6 minute cooldown means you’re only going to get to use it once, as the majority of encounters end up taking less time than that. A single druid using HOTW won’t trivialize anything. Now, if the soft enrage ala Beth’tilac comes back into fashion, than there’s a theoretical potential to stack resto druids, have them use HotW early when healing requirements are low, then heal normally when incoming damage gets high, for example. You lose buff coverage by doing that, however, which makes it an unlikely scenario for most guilds who don’t have extra alts of each class ready to go, and the overall impact is pretty blunted. Sure, if we have more Spine-type fights (ugh), that’s one thing, but I think we’re done with those for a while.
  • Healing requirements higher for MoP The majority of the DPS classes have talents  that add some passive healing. Think that’s not going to be balanced around? Think again. Top that off with healer mana pools no longer scaling with Intellect, and my guess is you’re not going to see nearly as many fights where you can run healer-short and succeed.

Long story short? Yeah, it wouldn’t surprise me to see one fight where HotW is a large help, and a few more where it’s a smaller help. There may be some guilds who stack druids, but just like all the things that get blown out of proportion on the forums, it won’t be that big of a deal overall. Player skill will still be the defining characteristic of raid progression, not raid composition.

 Posted by at 9:03 pm
May 042012
 

It STINKS. (/thread.)

Okay, seriously, let’s take a closer look at this thing, since I think we’ve said all that can be said about HOTW until we can actually try it. (BTW, if something looks funny above, I’m testing video embeds).

Dream of Cenarius
Wrath, Starfire, Starsurge, and melee abilities increase healing done by your next healing spell by 30%.
Non-instant casts of Nourish, Healing Touch, and Regrowth increase the damage done by your next damaging spell or ability by 30%.
Each of these bonuses lasts 30 sec.
See, this to me is MUCH more offputting than HOTW, for the following reasons.
  • If it’s good, it forces an awkward rotation. Much more than HOTW, which has wipe-prevention utility even if it’s not planned to be used in the current encounter, this thing is either terrible or strong, depending on where that 30% ends up. If it causes a DPS/HPS increase over a standard rotation, everyone will be forced to use it and rightfully complain about it. (I think a Nurturing Instincts once-a-minute heal is about the limit for actively dropping heals on the raid while doing the standard rotation.) I can’t find it at the moment, but I know GC discussed a similar issue for DPS warriors, and how they had to keep hotfixing an ability because it ended up being too good for the spec that it wasn’t designed for, which forced warriors into an awkward rotation to maximize their DPS. In the short run, we like little tricks to increase our DPS, but in the long run they’re just poor design. Anyone remember hitting Gift of the Wild to force an Omen proc? Anyone want to go back to that?
  • It gets balanced around. Do YOU want to get balanced around having lower DPS because you’re contributing significant HPS as well? Yeah, me neither. HOTW doesn’t have this problem because you stop doing the DPS to heal (or whatever), so you’re just changing the nature of the contribution, not increasing it.
  • It’s incredibly lame for a level 90 talent. Same as with HOTW. Neither of these things are what I would call “epic,” which is what I want to be looking forward to. Screw treants, I want to drop a whole forest on someone’s head. Or the moon. That would be cool too.
    There’s a whole ton of druid-themed lore and abilities they could be using. Even if they wanted to keep with the hybrid flavor; hell, give me a talent that lets me cast spells in Cat Form. I’ve got a good bit of “waiting for energy” downtime that I could fill with a spellcast or two.

Rambled on a bit, but eh. I really don’t want to see the level 90 tier go live as-is. Anybody have anything good to say about DoC?