Dec 082010
 

Well, I had a post all ready to go about my Cataclysm thoughts…then I checked my Armory for something, and saw the happy sight of a naked toon. Yay. If it’s not restored by tonight, I guess I’ll be starting that worgen rogue a bit earlier than I planned.

(Summarized version: Realm First mining — awesome. Hyjal — sweet. Jousting 2.0 — ugh, did Blizz forget everything it learned about TOC? Raggy — awesome. Vashj’ir — beautiful, but I’m lost. Throne of Tides — great, but I know heroic difficulty is going to be a beast for PUG’s. Archaeology — Remember how they revamped fishing to make it better? They forgot those lessons. Mindless grind PLUS timesink travel…yay.  There’s archaeology dailies?)

I’m now recommending that you NOT trust the Dial-in Authenticator that Blizzard is currently offering. (It’s somewhat my fault, I guess. I had a phone authenticator, which I deactivated in order to change the phone’s ROM. I had some issues with the new ROM, though, so I just switched to the dial-in version until I could get the ROM figured out. That was a few days ago, and I hadn’t gotten around to changing it back.)

If there’s one good note to this, it’s a good sign that I’ve chilled out a little bit. When my account was hacked several months ago (pre-authenticator), I was PISSED. Now? Eh, whatever, I’ll get the stuff back eventually.

 Posted by at 1:28 pm
Dec 062010
 

The day’s almost here…we’ve been waiting for Cataclysm for a long time. (for a kick, check out my first posts on Cataclysm here and here, from August 2009. My predictions have turned out pretty good, actually.)

I’ll be trying for a realm first in mining on my paladin alt (Why? Because it’ll be an endless source of amusement to me if I get it,  seeing as I’ve barely touched the pally since he hit 80…either way, someone will have it in 1-2 hours), then dipping into Mount Hyjal until I have to go to work. I’ll (hopefully) be dipping into a few instances tomorrow night, so I’ll try to post any thoughts I have from those.

If this is your first time here, these posts of mine may be of interest:

 Posted by at 10:01 am
Dec 032010
 

(Inspired by Keeva’s post at Tree Bark Jacket, for restos, and Reesi’s post at The Inconspicuous Bear, for bears. Subscribe to their blogs!)

As I did with factions previously, I figured I’d take a look at profession bonuses come Cataclysm. I’ll evaluate each profession in two categories: raiding utility and personal utility (which includes time-savers, money-savers/makers, or just-for-fun items).

Note that in regards to utility, I’ll only be looking at the exclusive bonuses to each profession. For example, being a Blacksmith lets you make Eternal Belt Buckles for an additional belt socket…but you could just buy one off the AH, so that’s not really important to me (It may be for you, however.) As the secondary professions are non-exclusive, I won’t be considering those.

Finally, realize that profession bonuses are probably only worth about 1% DPS (each). If you’re a casual player and don’t want to mess with professions, or you like your professions and you don’t want to min-max them for raiding, I wouldn’t worry about it too much.

Alchemy

Raiding Utility:

Personal Utility:

  • Double duration on flasks (Mixology)
  • Potion/Elixir/Transmute Mastery (15-20% chance to proc a free potion/elixir/epic gem when creating them; procs can chain)
  • Gem/Element Transmute CD’s
  • Turn into a rideable dragon

Analysis:

Alchemy is a very good profession. The Mixology benefits scale off the flask used, so it works well when sharing gear between cat and bear sets. The double flask duration and epic gem transmutes are huge money-savers/makers. The alchemist stone is pretty poor for everything but bears and possibly trees, but it’s pretty decent for an entry-level trinket (and it’s good for PvP too). Finally, a DRUID as a RIDABLE  DRAGON IS FREAKING AWESOME. It fits with the shapeshifting motif of the class, and is just, well, cool (much more appropriate than a silly rocket). Bonus: You can offer to fly friends/guildies/unsuspecting strangers somewhere, and instead fly way up high, make impossible demands, than dismount/shift to Swift Flight Form and follow them down. :)

Blacksmithing

Raiding Utility:

  • Two extra gem sockets (presumably filled with rare agi gems, for +80 agi)

Personal Utility:

  • None

Analysis:

BS used to be a desirable profession because the extra sockets allowed flexibility with choosing what stat to increase. With most of the profession’s giving primary stat bonuses, though, the flexibility’s not as helpful.

Enchanting

Raiding Utility

  • Ring enchant (+40 agi or +60 stam x2, for +80 agi or +120 stam for cats or bears)
  • Disenchant unwanted items for group/raid

Personal Utility

  • Disenchant unwanted items for self

Analysis:

Meh. Enchanting (rather, disenchanting) is a pretty decent money-maker; all the quest reward gear you find can be disenchanted and sold on the AH for 2-3x times their vendor value, and it’s great when soloing old content, but that’s about it.

Engineering

Raiding Utility

Personal Utility

  • Teleport to Gadgetzan
  • Many pets and mounts
  • Many fun items
  • Electrostatic Condenser
  • Portable mailbox/repair/merchant

Analysis:

Engineering is more of a fun/utility profession than a standard raiding one. I’m sure someone will do the math on the other stuff, but right now, there’s no good lvl 85 melee DPS increase (no lvl 85 version of the Accelerators). Unless they come out with more glove tinkers or reduce the failure rate, I can’t recommend Engineering as a raiding profession.

Inscription

Raiding Utility

Personal Utility

Analysis:

Not much here for ferals. Inscription has one great epic BoP trinket, but it’s a caster item. Druids make great Herbalists, though, and Inscription goes well with Herbalism. (Yes, I’m reaching.)

Jewelcrafting

Raiding Utility

Personal Utility

Analysis:

JC is nice. It’s a fair choice for a profession, with a good trinket and some fun utility as well. Fire Prisms look to be better money-maker then they were in LK, but that remains to be seen, and the daily JC quest will probably be worth a good bit of gold if you’re willing to forgo getting patterns for a bit. (I wish all the crafting professions had something like this, actually.)

Leatherworking

Raiding Utility

Personal Utility

  • Cheap personal leg armors

Analysis:

Currently,  Leatherworking is, by a large margin, the best raiding profession for ferals. Currently, crit is worth slightly less than 1/3rd the value of agility, which makes that 65 crit bonus equal to ~20 agility. That means the bonus from LW is +110 agi, vs. +80 from the others. I foresee this being changed; either a better bracer enchant will be introduced, or the LW embossment will be reduced to +80 agi and made able to stack with a bracer enchant. Don’t forget about the Drums of Speed; they still work, and will be helpful for Cataclysm’s raids.

Tailoring

Raiding Utility

Personal Utility

  • Cloth cooldowns

Analysis:

I’m not completely sure how to gauge the usefulness of the proc. If the uptime is around 25%, it’s worth around 75 agility, so it’s pretty well balanced, itemization-wise. It should stack well with other procs, too, but timing it can be challenging. If the uptime is higher, then it could blow other stuff out of the water. Of course, with big procs comes big threat.

Gathering Professions (Personal Utility is obvious here, good money-makers)

  • Herbalism:  Lifeblood (480 haste for 20s/2m = 80 static haste = 23 static agi)
  • Skinning: Master of Anatomy (80 crit = 23 agi)
  • Mining: Toughness (120 stam = 0 dps value, indeterminate survivability value)

Analysis:

None of the gathering professions are great for DPS, but that’s kind of the point.

Overall Ranking (Raiding):

  1. Leatherworking (+110 agi) — BiS profession for feral tanks and DPS
  2. Alchemy/Blacksmithing/Enchanting/Inscription/Jewelcrafting/Tailoring (+80 agi) — All pretty equal, tailoring still semi-TBD
  3. Engineering (TBD) — They made a new caster tinker, so I imagine they’ll make a new melee tinker…pretty bad until then
  4. Herbalism/Skinning (~23 agi) — If you must. Skinning provides mats to power LW, and Druids are great Herbalists in flight form.
  5. Mining (0 agi) — great for tanks; 0 DPS value, until you survive a raid AOE with 100HP. :)

I think my recommendations would be LW, and one of Alchemy/JC/Tailoring (which I see as superior money-makers for the average raider). I’ve been Alch/LW since early LK, and I plan to stay that way. I’m sure I’ve missed stuff from some of the other professions…let me know in the comments!

 Posted by at 5:31 pm
Dec 022010
 

I’ve finished my updates to the guide; cleaned up quite a bit, added lvl 85 enchants/gems/consumables, etc. Check it out here, and please leave feedback. I’ve also tweaked the leveling guide, specifically the specs, in a couple places.) I’ve got one more Cataclysm guide coming, on professions, then I’m guided out for a while. :)

(Hint: I’m much more likely to listen to feedback that’s attached to a donation! Okay, not really. But it will get my attention.) /endshamelessbegging :P

 Posted by at 3:17 pm
Nov 292010
 

Cataclysm has six factions (one per zone) that your character will need to build reputation with, in order to fully unlock their rewards. Drawing on my gear list,  I’ll take a look to see which factions offer the best rewards for your time, from a feral DPS perspective (though I’ll note a few tank items). The primary way to gain faction rep is by questing in their associated zone, which should (after completing all quests) raise reputation to at least Honored. Revered and Exalted will require wearing that faction’s tabard in instances (all except Tol Barad factions) or completing daily quests.

Guardians of Hyjal (Mount Hyjal)

I, along with most others, will be starting my Cataclysm leveling in Mount Hyjal. (If you even care about lore “slightly,” you should realize that for a druid, Mount Hyjal’s problem >>> Vashj’ir’s problem.) Reputation-wise, however, there’s not too much on offer here for the 85-minded druid. The Sly Fox Jerkin is a great piece but will be quickly eclipsed by heroic drops; however, for leveling and pre-heroic instances, there isn’t anything better. The rest is mediocre; the Acorn is okay, but better BoE (Jewelcrafting) options exist, and the Wrap is a (albeit very good) bear tanking piece.

The Earthern Ring (Vashj’ir)

Unlike Hyjal, there is no item here for us at Honored, so this zone will take some rep grinding. The Signet ring is excellent and will be a pre-raid BiS piece; other than that, though, there’s not much. The Arcanum, of course, is handy for bears, and the Cape is okay but not special (there are LOTS of blue cloaks to be found).

Therazane (Deepholm)

Sons of Hodir, version 2.0! Yawn. The ring is unremarkable, so quest through the zone to unlock the Lesser Inscription, then just tabard the rest of the rep (or run the dailies, up to you).

Ramkahen (Uldum)

I was prepared to ignore this rep entirely, then I realized our Arcanum comes from here. Bah. I will probably wait on this rep as well and use the Wildhammer arcanum as a fillin (see below)

Wildhammer Clan (Twilight Highlands)

You will want to quest extensively in Twilight Highlands for the quest reward gear (best available pre-instance, in most cases). As such, you’ll have a good bit of rep anyway. The Leggings are okay, but not really worth it (they’re an upgrade over the quest reward piece, but not a large one, and the JP item is superb). As mentioned above, the Wildhammer arcanum is a decent fillin until you grind Ramkahen. Finally, the gloves are EXCELLENT and are pre-raid BiS.

Baradin’s Wardens (Tol Barad)

Well, now. That’s the way to make me do PvP; put a great weapon and a great trinket on the vendor. :) That weapon should be your first priority; as with any melee DPS class, upgrading our weapon increases our damage output considerably, and the trinket is likely pre-raid BiS. Sadly, I believe the only way to rep up with your Tol Barad faction is via daily quests; once you hit 85, if you see that TB is up, stop queuing and get questing! (Remember, there’s only an hour between battles.)

Summary

After review, once I hit 85, I think I’ll be grinding the factions to Exalted in this order. If you disagree, let me know in the comments! Thanks.

  1. Baradin’s Wardens (use your dailies here)
  2. Wildhammer Clan (tabard this first)
  3. Ramkahen (ONLY to Revered, for the Arcanum)
  4. The Earthen Ring
  5. Therazane
  6. Guardians of Hyjal
  7. Ramkahen (Exalted)
 Posted by at 11:46 am
Nov 242010
 

to Blizzard for making such a great game. :)

I’ll be heading out for Thanksgiving early tomorrow morning, so no posts until next week. (I’ll try to reply to comments, but no promises.) Enjoy the weekend! Also, tanking right now is probably a bad idea for your blood pressure; apparently, Swipe should be renamed “ineffectual bat.”

(FWIW, I intended to test feral stuff last night, but I got sidetracked, first in a failed auction house venture, then in a new alt. Rolled a priest for the new Darkshore content…damn, Penance is crazy awesome. I still remember wanding my way through Westfall and quitting in frustration a few years ago.)

 Posted by at 9:28 am  Tagged with:
Nov 232010
 

The world has been shattered and remade while we slept, and it’s time to rock. I’ve got the info you need to prepare you for leveling in Cataclysm. (If you’re looking for a full guide to raiding as a feral, go to my main guide here.)

Talents:

EDIT: Changed a few points around on these, after reading Reesi’s leveling advice and deciding I liked it better. :)

Pure Cat Spec: (wowhead link)

This spec is designed around questing/leveling (it should be fine for DPS in dungeons, but I definitely wouldn’t try to tank with it). Instead of discussing what I took, I’ll just mention what I left out:

  • Primal Madness: Still horrible.
  • Pulverize/Natural Reaction Bear talents. Infected Wounds is kept because it’ll significantly reduce the damage you take from trash.
  • Blood in the Water: Yes, trash lasts longer, but not so long that you’ll actually have the chance for Rip to tick through it’s full duration twice.
  • Furor (1/3): Other options are better.
  • Thick Hide: A bear talent, but we’ll take it as we’re leveling for more survivability (those Uldum/Twilight Highlands mobs can HURT).
  • Endless Carnage (1/2): The one that hurts the most to leave off, but we’ll be killing many of the earlier mobs in less than 12s anyway. Optionally, add this as you’re leveling instead of Thick Hide.

81-85 talent choices: Master Shapeshifter, Thick Hide 1/3, TH 2/3, TH 3/3, Endless Carnage 2/2. (Optionally, grab EC earlier if stuff is lasting long enough to need it. You’ll be respeccing at 85.)

CatBear Spec: (wowhead link)

This spec is designed to be more survivable; able to tank early Cata dungeons/do a bit of AOE mob grinding with bear Berserk, without gimping your DPS ability too much. It drops Feral Aggression, Nurturing Instincts and a point from Fury Swipes and Endless Carnage to pick up Thick Hide, Natural Reaction, and Pulverize. Glyphs are unchanged.

81-85 talent choices: Master Shapeshifter, 3/3 Fury Swipes, Endless Carnage 1/2, EC 2/2, Feral Aggression 1/2. (You’ll be respeccing at 85.)

Glyphs:

  • Prime: Mangle, Tiger’s Fury, Berserk/Rip. You won’t be using Shred or Savage Roar frequently, so Mangle/TF takes their places. For the third slot, I’m thinking Berserk for the early zones, then Rip for the later zones once mobs really start bulking up on the HP.
  • Major: Faerie Fire, Feral Charge, (your choice). FF/FC are obvious. I don’t see any great third choices, so take your pick; I’d recommend Maul, for “oops pulled too many” situations.
  • Minor: Dash, (your choice), (your choice). More Dash is always good, the rest are, well, minor.

Gear:

The gear reset for this expansion is a bit different from the previous two. Similar to LK, DPS stats on gear don’t grow rapidly. However, the stamina on Cata pieces is significantly higher. Ferals are one of the sturdier classes to begin with, so this doesn’t affect us as much as it would a cloth class, but it’s something to thing about. My recommendations:

  • T9 (232) gear or worse: Upgrade immediately.
  • T10 (251) : You’ll be okay for VJ/Hyjal; look to start upgrading in Deepholm.
  • T10.25/Heroic T10 (264/277): You’ll be okay up to Uldum; you can probably make it to Twilight Highlands without upgrading, but you’ll be very squishy.

Also, don’t forget to do something about your meta, as I noted previously. EDIT: Never mind, metagem change is being reverted, but no timeline as to when. You may want to grab a Thundering Skyflare, just in case. (And if you’re on Vek’nilash-US, buy it from Alabank! TY.)

Rotation:

Unlike LK where bursting quest mobs down was easy (Manglex3, FB, repeat), you’ll need to employ your DoTs a bit more, as well as Ravage. Mob health is through the roof (yes, this is for normal mobs):

  • Level 80 (WOTLK): 12k
  • Level 80 (Cata): 30k
  • Level 81: 37k
  • Level 82: 44k
  • Level 83: 53k
  • Level 84: 70k
  • Level 85: 85k

Not only is mob health going up, our combat ratings are dropping drastically. Details are here, but figure that we lose roughly 5% crit per level post-80(mastery is similar, hit/haste aren’t quite as bad off). The combat rating scaling is to such a degree that you can expect to do 20-30% LESS damage at level 85 (in the same gear) than you did at 80.

As such, here’s what a sample rotation might look like:

  • Feral Charge in (to proc Stampede)
  • Rake
  • Ravage (from Stampede)
  • Manglex2
  • Tiger’s Fury
  • FB if the mob is close to death, otherwise put Rip up and go back to Mangling.

Savage Roar probably isn’t worth it, though if you’re fighting many mobs in sequence, you might as well put it up after a fight ends using leftover CP’s. Don’t forget you have Nurturing Instincts and Predatory Strikes, also; you can pop an instant Healing Touch after each fight to bring your health back up, and you’ll need to now that Leader of the Pack’s effectiveness has been halved. Don’t forget about your many “oops” buttons, too; Survival Instincts, Frenzied Regeneration (Bear), Barkskin+Tranquility, Shadowmeld (night elves).

Don’t forget about Berserk! It’s a bit of a waste using it in Cat Form, but it’s great for AOE grinding in Bear. Every 3 minutes, grab up 3/4 mobs then go bear, hit SI, then Thrash/Berserked Mangle them all down.

For tanking, Thrash at 81 will make your rotation much more potent (and AOE tanking much easier), as it hits significantly harder than everything save Mangle (and Maul, but that’s a separate case). Basically, your rotation will be Mangle/Thrash/x/x, repeat, where x is Demo Roar/FFF if needed, Lacerate if it’s not stacked 3x, or Pulverize if Lacerate is fully stacked. Substitute Swipe for Lacerate for AOE situations. Just be careful of CC; if you’re using it, leave out Swipe/Thrash.

That’s it for now; once Cata is unlocked, I’ll test all this and make any fixes necessary. Feel free to share anything or ask questions in the comments!

 Posted by at 3:23 pm
Nov 232010
 

If these are the heroes fighting back the elementals, it’s no wonder we failed. I haven’t had any interesting PUG stories in a while, but last night’s “attempt” was great!

SETTING: Zul’Farrak, Elemental Invasion-style

DRAMATIS PERSONAE:

  • Alarros, my little-used DK tank, in roughly T8 level gear
  • Hunterthepunter, the, well, hunter
  • Holylightlol, the holy pally
  • DPS #1 and DPS #2

SCENE: All enter, stage left.

A: Hey all! A bit undergeared, so watch your threat! Is everyone ready? /readycheck.

HTP: (immediately misdirects to HLL and pulls first trash pack)

A: /sigh. (rounds pack up, kills, then kills rest of trash)

A: Okay, everybody ready for the boss? /readycheck

HTP: (immediately pulls boss)

A: /sigh. (taunts, turns boss away from group)

a minute passes

HTP: (dies)

A: what happened?

HTP: lol fell in the pond with the fish and they killed me lol

A: /sigh

more time passes, very low DPS group

HLL: hey, I can heal you better if I’m closer to you! Let’s be friends! (runs over to tank)

A: wait! (GZ breathes, freezing both of us solid; wipe ensues)

All except A: lol tank you suck (HTP/DPS 1/DPS 2 drop group)

A: /sigh (drops group)

BLIZZARD: You have been afflicted with the Dungeon Deserter debuff.

A: /cries

SCENE.


 Posted by at 9:48 am  Tagged with:
Nov 222010
 

So, the slow-motion Cataclysm is finally occurring tomorrow. (If you read wow blogs, you’ve known this was coming for, well, forever, so I don’t feel the need for a spoiler tag. I did have the fleeting thought today, though, that someone, somewhere, is going to have one hell of a wtf? moment.)

Luckily, cats are pretty unscathed. (You know us, always landing well from a fall and all…) Bears took quite a nerf (stamina reduction, Savage Defense reduction) for balance purposes, but the only part of that which will affect cats is the LOTP heal nerf from 8% to 4%. Survival Instincts is now only a 50% damage reduction, but it goes from a 5m CD to a 3m CD, which is probably a net positive. Thorns reverts back to near-uselessness for PvE content, after a month in the sun.

Of slightly more concern is the quiet adjustment in activation requirements for our metagem, the Relentless Earthsiege Diamond (thanks to Feral Instincts for pointing it out). It previously had required 1 gem of each color (easily satisfied by a Nightmare Tear), but now requires more Blue gems then Red gems. Since our best gemming strategy revolves around agility (red) gems, this is bad. You’ve got three options:

  1. “Screw it.” Doing nothing is the most cost-effective strategy, albeit one with a 3% dps loss.
  2. Socket another metagem with easier requirements for now, and wait until 85 to figure it out. My preferred option; unfortunately, there’s not many metagem alternatives out there. Something like the Destructive Skyflare Diamond would be best.  2.5% dps loss with some small unquantifiable survivability increase (or pick one of the PvP metas).
    EDIT: Paona pointed out in the comments that the Thundering Skyflare Diamond would be a better replacement. I agree wholeheartedly, and blame wowhead for not weighting it properly.
  3. Regem entirely to meet the metagem requirements. Not recommended unless you’re still pushing for a progression kill (and with the tank nerfs, your odds of that just went down). My head hurts trying to figure out an optimal strategy, but I figure it’d probably be socketing all Glinting Dreadstones (which count for red + blue) then tacking another blue/green gem on top. Hopefully, you don’t have too much hit already.) Roughly appears to be a 1.5% dps loss.
 Posted by at 4:04 pm