Nov 052010
 

From mmo-champion:

The design for combat resurrection effects has changed a good deal for Cataclysm, and we want to make sure players are clear on how spells like Rebirth and Create Soulstone now function. Rebirth has a 10-minute cooldown and Create Soulstone has a 15-minute cooldown. On raid boss encounters, you can only use one of these combat resurrection spells (so one Rebirth or one Soulstone) per attempt for 10-player raids. For 25-player raids you can use three forms of combat resurrection per raid boss attempt (so three of any combination of Rebirth and Soulstone). The count is incremented as soon as a player accepts a resurrection, so one can always choose not to accept if he or she wants someone else to get the resurrection instead. There is no equivalent of the Sated debuff (which tracks Bloodlust/Heroism usage), but you will get an error message if you try to resurrect too many players, and we might add tracking to our raid interface if there is demand for it. Outside of raid content, you can use as many battle resurrections as you have available.

For those of you currently participating in the World of Warcraft: Cataclysm beta test, please note that this functionality may not be fully implemented as of yet. If you notice combat resurrections are not currently functioning as explained here, this is just a heads-up about the updated design intent behind them.

Unless Soulstone is being changed, why does the harder to use combat rez (that being Soulstone, since you have to predict ahead of time who to Soulstone) have the longer cooldown?

One thing we’re considering with Soulstone is making it possible, in addition to its current functionality, to be cast on a dead player to give them the option of joining the living again.

Thankfully, they’ve finally clarified how they want combat rez to work for raiding in Cataclysm…and honestly, I like the change from a design perspective, even though it slightly hurts the value of druids. They’ve finally (let’s hope) cleaned up all the exploitative behavior permitted by Soulstones.

What exploit? Well, I’ll lay it out for you.

  1. Create Soulstone is a very early Warlock spell (pre-20).
  2. The soulstone buff disappears if the casting lock leaves the party/raid…but raids have slots for 40 people.
  3. Profit!

Yes, I left out the ???, but you get the point. It was very common for top50 guilds to have a crapton of lock alts solely for Rerai…err, Soulstone buffs. It wasn’t especially common (it does take some time and some hassle to do), but limited attempt fights brought it back with a vengeance. This neatly closes that loophole.

I do think the limits are a little tight (I’d have preferred 2 for 10’s, and 4-5 for 25’s), however. As it stands currently, if a 10-man brings a lock and a druid, one of those two feels shafted because they can’t use a class core ability. (Yes, all other buffs are like this…but is this going to start to applying to all other in-combat abilities? Only one MD because hunters can trivialize add fights? Only one Dark Intent because it boosts DPS too much? Etc. It made sense to limit Heroism since it affected the whole raid, but brezzes are individual.) As described, though, the version of Soulstone they’re describing would be MORE powerful than a druid brez, which feels…odd, from a lore point of view. (Hi, I’m Joe, your friendly neighborhood warlock, and I need to store a piece of all of your souls before we start this fight in case you die. Right.) I wonder if shammy self-rez is included in these limits (Heck, what about DK’s ability to raise people as ghouls? :)). I’d assume it is, but we’ll have to wait until that’s confirmed.

At least this gives me a better justification for refusing to rez the DPS who stood in the fire. (Sorry, gotta save it in case we lose a tank/healer, no hard feelings.)

 Posted by at 1:11 pm
Nov 042010
 

I’d done some napkin math when planning the talent builds in my guide, but I decided to formalize it to see what interesting data I could find.The chart is below. (I’d recommend using the highlighted %Loss/Pt numbers; this indicates how much DPS is lost from a build per point removed.) I’ll be using some of this in an upcoming post defending the viability of hybrid talent builds.

Thoughts:

  • Predatory Strikes/Stampede is pretty crappy for a static fight, as expected. Believe it or not, 1/2 Stampede actually showed up as a DPS LOSS, which seems nonsensical but tracks with my anecdotal observations.
  • I’ve included Master Shapeshifter, even though it’s not accessible at 80. It’s not very valuable since it essentially takes three points to get.
  • Blood in the Water is weaker than I expected for a lower tier talent.
Feral DPS Talent Value (Lvl 80) %Gain/Pt %Loss/Pt
Berserk 3.49% -5.33%
Primal Fury 2.94% -2.73%
Heart of the Wild 2.14% -2.71%
Endless Carnage 1.79% -2.30%
King of the Jungle 2.03% -2.16%
Fury Swipes 1.53% -1.94%
Rend and Tear 1.15% -1.47%
Blood in the Water 1.33% -1.13%
Master Shapeshifter (incl. NS, not avail at 80) 0.95% -0.68%
Feral Aggression 0.08% -0.54%
Stampede 0.44% -0.31%
Primal Madness 0.18% -0.21%
Predatory Strikes (w/Stampede) 0.50% -0.05%

(Methodology: Using Mew and the Yawning profile, I calculated a baseline DPS number. I then removed each talent individually, leaving all other data constant, and reran the DPS calculation. MS was not included. I then divided the DPS loss by the number of talent points to determine its value to the build. To control for the value of synergistic effects, I also did a calculation the opposite way, by starting with no talents and adding them individually, but this information is less useful for making marginal talent choices. Margin of Error is roughly 0.1%.)

 Posted by at 12:28 pm
Nov 012010
 

This might be old news to several of you, but Savage Defense is very OP at the moment. Because it scales with our mastery AND Vengeance, the amount of damage absorbed reaches ridiculous levels. It will be more balanced at 85 (once the nerfs go in and our crit rates drop dramatically) but right now, it’s awesome.

(BTW, Reesi has been discussing this extensively at his blog, The Inconspicuous Bear. It’s a great feral tanking blog, if you haven’t seen it yet.)

I don’t have any current raid examples, but I filled in for an AFK tank in a friend’s PUG raid on XT (10) last night. I didn’t have any bear gear on me, but I figured I’d be fine in my cat gear (still rocking the hybrid spec from my guide). We pulled XT…and I was bored. Once the Vengeance stacked up, I was absorbing XT’s entire melee attacks (10-15K) without breaking a sweat.

Never had to use a cooldown; did anyway out of habit. Shifted to cat and ripped up the heart on transitions.

Finished the fight 2nd on DPS and 5th (5th!) on damage taken. I took more damage from Tantrums then I did from actual melee. I think my TOTAL damage taken was around 60K. If the add/bomb/enrage mechanics didn’t exist, I could have soloed him. Wow.

So, just for kicks, I figured I’d see what I could solo now that I hadn’t before. First target- Zul’Aman.

I’d previously attempted Zul’Aman, but only been able to take down one of the aspects. Last night, I dropped all four, with three being one-shots.

  • Akil’zon (Eagle): Tank and spank. The only significant damage you’ll take is when the  stacking Static Discharge debuff gets high; and when you get tossed up in the air, that’ll drop off. I never had to use a cooldown the whole fight, but a lesser-geared bear would still be fine with popping CD’s when the stack gets to 4 or so.
  • Jan’alai (Dragonhawk): Easy tank and spank. Two warders will spawn at the start of the fight; let them be, and they’ll run to the sides and start spawning adds. Swipe/glyphed Maul will take care of the initial adds; once they start piling up, pop Berserk and nuke then down. Once done, just try not to go to sleep. Move out of fire. (I had more trouble actually figuring out how to get to him; the path goes through Nalorakk’s area.)
  • Halazzi (Lynx): First off, range pull the trash in front of him, do not charge in, unless you want to aggro the whole room at once. (Oops.) Once you get him alone, just tank and spank, switching to the totem/lynx when they spawn.
  • Nalorakk (Bear): The only difficult boss in here, mostly due to his bleed in bear form that you can’t mitigate with SD. (Remember, bears are OP.) It took me a few tries to figure out a good cooldown rotation. What ended up working for me was FR  (1st Bear), SI (2nd Bear), Skeleton Key + Barkskin + 4PT10 Enrage + Tranquility (3rd Bear), FR (4th Bear). Obviously, you need to have some decent gear to kill him before you run out of cooldowns. He doesn’t hit too hard in human form and he does a little knockback charge thing, so you can shift and drop a couple hots before he gets back to you.)

Sadly, Malacrass is unkillable solo, at least for us. His signature ability is “soul draining” a target in the raid, which gives him a few new abilities based on that target’s class. Since you’re the only one there, he always gets the Druid abilities, which are apparently his strongest- an uninterruptable/undispellable Lifebloom that heals for 4K/sec, a Moonfire that will QUICKLY stack a dot on you (I died at 15 stacks) and Thorns that will rip you up if you try to go cat and burn him. (Remember, druids are OP.) Oh well.

For fun, now that I’ve got the mechanics down, I’m going to try for a four-chest run next week. I’m also going to try some harder stuff. Magtheridon still punks me pretty good (adds are unkillable and suck up the SD shields), but Void Reaver might be doable. I tried it last night, but he’s linked to all the trash in his room, which takes ages to kill. I gave up and finished some achievements instead.

Hell, I should try Patchwerk. (No way I could kill him before his enrage timer, but it’d be interesting to see how long I could last.) Noth would be interesting as well.

Oct 272010
 

From mmo-champion:

Feral

  • Thrash (Bear) now deals 15% of AP + 243 damage, down from 19% of AP + 304 damage. Bleed effect reduced from 3% of AP + 189 to 3% of AP + 152.
  • Swipe now deals 171 base damage, down from 214.
  • Brutal Impact now causes victims of Skull Bash to have a 5/10% increased mana cost on their spells, down from 15/30%.
  • Stampede now increase melee haste by 30%, up from 15%. Causes Feral Charge (Cat) to cost 100% less energy, down from 50%.

Restoration

  • Rebirth now has a 10 min cooldown, down from 30 min.

Bears got a small nerf (hard to know how much it matters until we know how much AOE tanking we’ll be doing).  Stampede got reduced to 1 rank (at least, that’s how I’m translating the change), which is nice, but I’d rather they changed Feral Aggression to 1 rank (still holding out hope for that one). Finally, REBIRTH IS 10 MINUTES AGAIN. Heck yeah, my extra lives are back (I hope my Wild Mushrooms are green). 30 minutes was unnecessarily punishing, in my view, and could have caused real issues for attempt-limited fights. The only worry, of course, is if there’s some raidboss mechanic that’s trivialized by stacking Rebirths. (Well, not a worry for us…more a worry for everyone else. Heh.)

 Posted by at 5:55 pm
Oct 272010
 

The gaming crowd overlaps (to some degree) with the tech crowd, but not always, so I figured I’d post this link to an interview with Greg Street (“Ghostcrawler”). (haven’t seen it on any of the wow news sites yet).

http://interviews.slashdot.org/story/10/10/27/1441243/Greg-Ghostcrawler-Street-Lead-Systems-Designer-For-World-of-Warcraft

Highlights:

  • Cataclysm content enough for two expansions
  • Thinks 3.1 (Ulduar) and 3.2 (TOC) could have been held a bit longer, to not make 3.3 (ICC) last so long (Agreed. A LOT of guilds were still working on Ulduar content when TOC came out.)
  • Hopes that people will start posting DTPS meters and yelling at people who took a lot of damage (and sucked up healer mana)
  • Explains why they can’t just “hire more people” to do stuff
 Posted by at 3:15 pm  Tagged with:
Oct 272010
 

Since the 4.0.1 patch, many ferals have reported an issue with what I’m referring to as “intermediate threat.” Unlike pre-patch, where threat issues were either on the pull (tank missed, I didn’t, oops I’m dead) or late into the fight (sustained DPS > sustained tank TPS), we’re having an issue around 30-45s in. Why? Couple reasons:

  • Tricks of the Trade / Misdirection no longer giving permanent threat (fades after 30s). This is the biggie, as threat meters are not accounting for this drop. Your average raid has 3-4 rogues/hunters, and they’ve been well-trained to use TotT/MD on the pull. Everything looks good, you give the tank a few seconds, then open up full blast, no issues…and you zoom from 80% threat to 110% threat at 30s in (when all those TotT/MD’s expire simultaneously) and go splat.  If you’re fast, you can run out of melee range/Shadowmeld (NE’s) to save yourself, but your mileage may vary.
  • Vengeance issues. Vengeance is pretty complicated in how it works, but it essentially gives tanks more attack power (thus more DPS, thus more TPS) as they tank damage. Unfortunately, it takes time to stack, and it starts to decay far too quickly. Combine this with a tank’s very high avoidance at level 80 (50%+), and vengeance is likely not well-stacked when it’s needed.. Unfortunately, vengeance can increase a tank’s DPS/TPS by as much as 50%, so swingy is bad. Very bad. (For what it’s worth, I think the concept of vengeance was good, but the implementation has been horrible. It’s supposed to be somewhat “optional,” but now tank threat is too weak when it’s low (heroics/lower tier raids, offtanking) and too strong when it’s high. I’ve seen parses from lvl 85 boss fights on beta where the tank finishes first on DPS.)

Solutions (for cats):

  • Save Berserk. We’re used to hitting Berserk ASAP so we can use it again sooner, but that’s not going to do you a whole lot of good. I’d recommend waiting until after your second’s Tiger’s Fury (so 30s delay). As always, a pro move is to figure out the estimated fight duration; if you know you usually down, say, BQL or Festergut in 4m 30s, then using it at 30s and 3m 30s isn’t any loss over using it at 5s and 3m 5s.
  • Preemptive Cower. While initial cowers are somewhat ineffective (10% reduction off 100k does less than of 1m, obviously), you’re still dropping quite a bit. I’d recommend going ahead and using a Cower after you’ve gotten your initial DoTs up and your TF’s worn off (so about 10-15s in), use it again when it’s off CD, and then evaluate.
  • Thorns on the tank. Toss this up during the pull (check with other druids, though, since I don’t believe it stacks). This will add a bit of TPS and rDPS, essentially for free. If you’re high on threat still, start using it on the tank on cooldown. (If the tank has multiple mobs, glyph it and use it on cooldown anyway, as is it just became your highest DPS ability.) For more fun, toss on 3p T1 prepull (yes, Tier 1!) for 10s extra of thorns time…just don’t get caught in combat with T1 on.
  • Hand of Salvation. Enough said, though if you have mages or boomkins, they’re probably soaking up all the salv’s. :(
  • Cataclysm will fix it. Maybe.

Solutions (for bears):

  • If you can’t coax another druid into it, get used to using Thorns pre-pull, and during a fight if you have a few seconds of not getting hit. (Admittedly, I need  to check if shifting out drops your Vengeance stack; not sure.)
  • Have your hunters/rogues stagger their threat-transfer abilities. Your DPS can throttle back, if they have some warning. Avoiding the “30s chain-threat-drop” is key here.
  • Wear DPS jewelry/trinkets. Not recommended for raid tanking (where the stamina saves you from dying to spike damage) but for tanking lower-tier stuff, very useful.
  • Preemptive Challenging Roar/Growl on an accessible keybind. CR doesn’t affect threat, but it forces enemies to target you. Growl adds enough threat to you to vault you to the top of the threat table. You probably can’t react in time to save a melee DPS, but you should always be able to save a caster at max range, unless you’re using the following strategy:
  • Let the aggro monkeys die. Satisfying, though not optimal.
  • Cataclysm will fix it. /hopeandpray.
Oct 262010
 

I’ve added a Q&A based captcha to the registration page, so I’ve turned comment moderation off again. We’ll see how it goes. Thanks to those who offered suggestions. (FWIW, I wish I’d realized that I needed to clear the phpBB cache after changing the captcha template…I spent HOURS yesterday trying to figure out how my theme was broken.) I’ve left moderation on for the 100+ accounts that were created over the past week; if this includes you, I apologize, once I approve one of your comments you won’t be subject to moderation anymore.

Now that the forums are somewhat sorted out, I’ll be doing some work to the website, so apologies if things look broken around here for a bit. Adsense is going away, and I’ll be experimenting with Project Wonderful. (Runycat, if you’re still around, I DID listen to you….eventually.) Feeds should still work fine. Again, I appreciate those of you who’ve donated; I’ve been getting quite a bit of traffic lately, and I may need to up my plan with my hosting provider.

(If anyone has any particular ideas/suggestions for feral content, let me know. I’m going to do some bear stuff next, and I may overhaul my 3.0 bear guide for 4.0.)

 Posted by at 10:43 am  Tagged with:
Oct 242010
 

The forums have been under low-grade attack by spammers over the past few days (seeing about 4-5 users/day register and post nothing but spam). I IP block them and delete their posts when I see them, but it’s getting somewhat tiresome. If anyone has any phpBB experience or knowledge of a better system, let me know. If it keeps up, I’ll have to make the registration process more difficult, and I hate to do that.

Also, to the gentleman who sent me a donation after reading my guide: thank you. You didn’t know it, but that donation actually came through on my birthday, so was very cool. :P

 Posted by at 10:21 pm  Tagged with:
Oct 222010
 

I actually got some free time last night, and joined my guild for a fun run in Ulduar 25 HM. (Background: I haven’t raided since July,  am currently on casual raiding status.) This has been my first chance to actually raid and test some of the crap that I’ve been talking about. Notes:

  • We are still very competitive, DPS wise. I was #1 or #2 on every boss (admittedly raid was a lot of alts so that’s not saying much) pulling between 10-12k DPS on each boss, with a modified version of the hybrid Cat/Bear spec from my Feral DPS guide. (I took the point out of FA and put it in Stampede  to try the Ravage functionality on XT. Was not overly impressed with a single 30 point Ravage; not sure that it’s a DPS improvement over a glyphed Shred.)
  • Rotations feel much less frenetic with the longer Rake. My bigger problem was trying to not energy cap, especially during Heroism. Haste keeps getting worse and worse as a stat for us; not sure I like that state of affairs.
  • Even not talented in Nurturing Instincts, Tranquility still does a LOT of healing. I threw it out during a XT Tantrum and  got about 120k healing out of it…not bad for a 8s (reduced to 6ish from haste) channeled spell.
  • Rebirth on a 30m CD again sucks. If they keep 30m CD + limited attempts, that puts raid leaders in a very bad position.
  • I blew past our MT on threat, died, and wiped our raid (because we were on Steelbreaker HM and I was the only one with a brez left for the tank…oops) USE COWER, IT WORKS NOW. /duh.

If I can, I’m going to try to get some bear time in and see how that feels; give him a spin in Kara, see how that goes.

 Posted by at 2:48 pm