3.2 First Impressions (3 days late)

August 6, 2009 at 8:04 pm | Posted in General, Tanking | Leave a comment
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Marked Readers –

I was a bit surprised the patch dropped this week.  I was predicting in vent Monday night that Blizzard likes to tease us for a few weeks – let the pundits assure us its this week, then this week, then this week before finally giving us the goodies.  Well, I was wrong obviously.  Somewhat happily, but man, does patch day suck. 

Actually, it started Monday night.  A group of us went into EoE and for some reason I kept getting LUA errors.    On top of that, my Pitbull was all messed up.  I have no idea what happened there, Sunday it was fine, Monday it was back at the default mode.  Ugh. 

My impressions of 3.2 after I finally logged in on Tuesday –

  1. Never do a heroic until you’ve done it on regular mode first.
  2. Laggy as all get-out in Dalaran.  It was quicker to run around rather than wait for my mount to appear (ironic since mount cast time was reduced to 1.5 seconds in the patch).
  3. Outside of Dalaran, not laggy at all – even the instances were ok!
  4. Timoth Jones was simply mobbed.  I counted myself lucky that I could open a dialog box and turn in my quest for 5 tokens.  It was a bleeding miracle I could open it again and browse the new epic recipes.  I came back down to earth when I couldn’t buy any – they were all ‘item busy’.
  5. You won’t recognize the New and Imroved Argent Tournament.  I was lost before the taxi dropped me off.  I was able to find the AT QM (in the tent where you pick up the Thread From Above quest).
  6. Never do a heroic until you’ve done it on regular mode first.
  7. The new Heirloom chestpieces are sold here for 60 Champion Seals 😦
  8. The new Heirloom chestpieces are also sold in Dalaran for 4o Badges of Heroism!
  9. No, I can’t reconcile #6 and 7.
  10. There is a summoning stone at the Argent Tournament.  I found it.  Once.  I’m not optimistic for a repeat visit without an escort. 
  11. The entrance to the instance the northern door/entry/grand hallway.  I think. 
  12. Those guys hit HARD! 
  13. Never do a heroic until you’ve done it on regular mode first.
  14. Blizzard’s UI isn’t too bad, actually.  I really missed bartender, but Pitbull (or X-Perl)? I may just run a few more instances and raids without them and see what’s what. 

I didn’t get on Wednesday.  I went to see Funny People after my guitar class.  Good movie, if a bit long.  Adam Sandler is turning into a real actor – who knew?

I got on Thursday morning after the maintenance and was finally able to buy my epic gems.  I got the +SP, +agi, +Stam, +Hit, +Hit/Expertise, and many others.  I cut them and put them on the AH.  The new gems seem to be going for 4-500g a pop which I will gladly take.  Dalaran seemed to have much less lag, thankfully, so hopefully things will settle down.

Questions I Have Been Pondering Lately

August 3, 2009 at 4:52 pm | Posted in DPS, General, Tanking | Leave a comment
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question marksquestion marksquestion marksquestion marksquestion marks

Marked Readers –

I’ve been pondering some questions about WoW lately and I thought I’d jot them down.  Hopefully, some of you may have the answers, or suggested resources to find the answers.  But if not, at least they’re written down somewhere so I can come back and remind myself about them when I have time. 

  1. Can a fully spec’d and geared bear out DPS a bear-spec’d slightly under-geared cat?  Or a cat wearing full tanking bear gear?  – I’ve been pondering this since some recent raids in Uludar and Naxx where I tanked, but also did DPS (on Loatheb for example).  My bear DPS is pretty consistent around 15-1700 and I was surprised to see my Cat DPS in the same ballpark, maybe a bit higher, but not obviously so.  I need to test this out on a battle dummy one of these days and see what the results are.  I know there are several factors that will come into play – bears need rage to produce DPS, can they sustain it without tanking (ala fury/arms warriors)?  And I’m not the smoothest cat in the pack – my rotation is not the best.  The bulk of my catting comes from doing quests where I’m killing widely spaced mobs, so the AP boost skill and the bleed skill aren’t second nature to me.  I will do this soon, so keep an eye out!
  2. Do I really want to roll a new druid just for the moonkin set? – Yes, the Big Bear Butt just covered it, but I swear I’ve been thinkin’ on this for some time.  I’d like to try moonkins out, but I don’t want to build up a set on Noze and I don’t want to respec just for it.  I’d rather build up a new toon completely.  Does that even make sense?   Maybe a NELF?   Probably not since I’d want to take advantage of all the heirloom gear I’ve gotten for my priest (lvl 45 wee!) 
  3. Will I ever get off the pot and roll an ally toon to see what there is to see over there? – Yes, the Big Bear Butt  (I’m not a stalker, really) just covered it, but this has been something I’ve tried several times.  I even have a bastard collection of toons on another server (gasp!).  A 30-something warrior and teen-aged pally, shammy, and mage.  But will I put the effort into it and make it work?  I dunno.  I’m not sure I want to keep up with these guys or not.  I think perhaps Anvilmar might be an option.  I can set up a pet selling syndicate in the neutral AH’s, take over the chanting mats market, and level a toon.  But which toon/race?  I’m fascinated with gnomes.  Seriously.  But I love druids (see question 3).  Humans have that reputation bonus which would rock hard.  Draeai get a hit bonus racial.  And dwarves are….well, not one of the races I’m contemplating.  And which class?  Again, so many possibilities.  Not a rogue, warlock, death knight or hunter.  I’m not a big fan of melee (unless I’m tanking) so probably not a warrior or Pally (though I’m fixated on healing lately and I want a shield).  Who k nows,  I’ve got awhile to go on Knowscrusher before I decide to start someone else.  Or maybe not.  Maybe I’ll just get bored one night and re-roll a questing alt for kicks n giggles. 
  4. Aside from the non-combat pets in the capitol cities, what Horde/Ally only items are there to sell on the neutral AH’s? There is that one ally recipe from bloodmyst isle that sells for 500g, but is that it? 

Meta Gems 4 U!

July 25, 2009 at 12:55 pm | Posted in General, Healing, Tanking, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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gemsgemsgemsgemsgems

 

Marked Readers –

I got a nice healing headpiece this week in Uludar – Lifespark Visage.  No, it’s probably not ideal (I’m not a big fan of haste on my druid), but since it was replacing a blue (!) hat and we had no clothies wanting it, I rolled and won. 

Anyway, as I was reviewing my meta gem options, I figured it would be a good chance to blog about whats out there.  If all goes well, I’ll review feral metas as well.  Thankfully (or maybe not), there are no plans for new metas in 3.2, so this post will be relevant for a few months at least. 

Resto Meta Gems – My criteria for these are metas that have +SP as their main ingrediant.  Some may argue that +Crit gems may also apply, but they’re wrong.  With that criteria, here’s what we have

  1. Bracing Earthseige – +25SP and 2% reduced threat
  2. Ember Skyflare +25SP and + 2% intellect
  3. Forlorn Skyflare +25 SP and 10% silence duration decrease
  4. Revitalizing Skyflare 8MP5 and +3% critical healing effect
  5. Tireless Skyflare +25SP and minor run speed increase
  6. Trenchant Earthsiege +25SP and 10% stun duration decrease

The Bracing Earthseige is the standard gem for resto druids (and probably most healers).  +25SP is expected, and reduced threat is a good thing.  But is it always a good thing?  I can’t remember the last time I pulled aggro while healing.  Well, there was one fight (forget the boss) where preloaded my HoTs on the tank and the boss’ companions turned me (and the other tree in the group) into sawdust in no time flat.  And there is a boss or two where the tank spends as much time kiting as they do generating threat, but by and a large, reducing my threat further isn’t a major concern. 

The Ember Skyflare is an interesting choice adding 2% Intellect to the 25SP.  But Int isn’t a major (resto) druid stat – all it does is give us a larger mana pool and mana is of even less concern to us than threat.  Which would also seem to rule out the Revitalizing Skyflare.  Resto Druids certainly don’t need more MP5 and we’re not a crit-centered healing class (Blizzard’s efforts to the contrary). 

The Forlorn, Tireless, and Trenchant seem to be mainly PvP gems, though a silence or stun duration decrease does have it’s appeals.  Resto druids get away with a lot with all our instant cast heals and HoTs.  I love the Heigan fight, for example because I don’t really have to worry about Spell Disruption  all that much.  Yes, I avoid it, but when I see it’s on me, I just shift to renewing my HoTs until it disapates.  But we are subject to silence, of course, and stuns.  Hmmm, this brings up another question – which bosses have silence or stun attacks?  Do you know of a list anywhere?  I may put one together if I don’t find one and if there are several, one of these gems may be worthwhile. 

Well, those are the six options.  Are you as underwhelmed as I am?  I will investigate the number of bosses that silence and stun, but I’m guessing they won’t be numerous enough to justify the gems (or else I’d be able to rattle off 3-4 of them by name).  So for me, it looks like I’ll be sticking with the Bracing Earthseige.  Reduced threat ain’t all that, but it’s better than the alternatives. 

Feral Meta Gems – My criteria for these metas are much broader than for my resto gems.  Why?  Simply because there are many more desirable effects for tanks on the metas – armor boosts, dodge increases, stamina, etc.

  1. Austere Earthsiege +32 Stamina and +2% armor from items
  2. Destructive Skyflare +25 Crit rating and 1% spell reflection
  3. Effulgent Skyflare +32 Stamina and 2% reduction in spell damage taken
  4. Invigorating Earthsiege +42AP and occasional heal on crits
  5. Powerful Earthsiege +32 Stamina and 10% reduced stun duration
  6. Relentless Earthsiege +21 Agi and +3% crit damage

Hmm, I woulda thought there were more.  But let’s look at what we have. 

The Austere Earthsiege is the standard gem for beaer tanks and it’s easy to see why.  Tanks can NEVER have enough stamina or armor.  True, armor doesn’t affect magic damage which seems to be all the WOTLK rave these days, but still, HP+Armor=good.  The Effulgent Skyflare may give it a run for the money though.  Instead of an armor boost, it reduces spell damage taken.  As we just discussed, there’s lots of magic and spell damage floating out there that just flits through armor.  This is a very good gem indeed.  Better than Austere?  Maybe. 

When Savage Defense came out, I took a look at the Destructive Skyflare and other crit-boosting gems.  Then I realized that SD procs as much as possible with my current crit rating (thank you swipe spam!) and so more crit wasn’t needed.  As for the spell reflection?  Well, if anything, I’d prefer the spell damage reduction of the Effulgent.  The Invorgorating Earthsiege would be much more attractive if it boosted Stam instead of AP.  And if the occasional heal didn’t have an internal CD.  In the comments for this gem, it seems the heal is about 2% of the total (~750-800hp) which wouldn’t be bad if it proc’d frequently, but it seems to have a 45 second CD which makes the heal nearly useless.  So skip this one.

When I was stacking agility, the Relentless Earthsiege was my choice.  The 3% crit damage boost was a nice bonus and extra threat.  Now that agility is being nerfed (along with dodge), it falls way to the back of the pack along with the Powerful Earthsiege.  I didn’t take Primal Tenacity

The Tanking Build

June 2, 2009 at 5:22 pm | Posted in Tanking | Leave a comment
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tank Build

Marked Readers –

 Since I covered my healing build yesterday, and I happened to log out in my feral spec last night, I thought it might be a good idea to review my tanking build.  It’s a fairly common 0/58/13 with only 1 point that isn’t set in hard stone.  And in the end, that’s not all too bad. 

 While I don’t have any pure Cat talents in this build, it does let me do enough damage to do my dailies quickly and easily.  Though, I often find myself just popping into Bear form, rounding up a group of big uglies and swiping them to death. 

 As I did yesterday, I’ll mostly focus on the talents I skipped, rather than the ones I took.  Though there will be exceptions, of course!

I’ll start with the Resto talents because it’s a smaller group and they’ll let me get my two typing fingers warmed up. 

I skipped over the Shapeshifer talents in favor of Improved Mark of the Wild and Omen of Clarity.  I don’t shift around much when I tank.  If I do need to pop out and either throw a quick heal on myself or rebirth someone (Ow, that sounds painful, doesn’t it?) I’m not worried about not having the mana for it.  So in the end, I’d be spending 5 points for a 4% damage boost.  No thank you.  Instead, with IMotW, I get a 2% across the board stat boost as well as a 40% increase in my Wild spells.  This used to be a Resto-only talent, used to get to the next tier.  No longer, it’s a near must-have for all druids. 

I won’t say the same for Omen of Clarity, though.  This was/is my last point and there are a couple other places I can place it that I’ll discuss later.  I threw it into OoC because it’s a one point talent, and I like being a ‘completionist’ if possible.  But I’m not sure how useful OoC is for me.  When I tank, rage is very rarely a concern.  I mean, it’s just not.  I either have a full rage bar, a half full rage bar, or I’m divvying up the loot after a boss kill (and doing a poor job at that.  I am the worst master looter in the world).  So I don’t need the free thwack that OoC gives me.  But then again, more is better, so I’ll take it. 

Now on to the feral tree!  The first talent I skip (aside for The Talent that Shall Never be Taken) is Shredding Attacks.  This goes back to my rage theory, and so far, it has proven me correct.  I use Lacerate a lot.  If I’m not mauling or mangling, I’m using my mouse-over macro and stacking lacerates.  And I still have a plentiful supply of rage.  So using two points to lower lacerates cost by two isn’t necessary, so I’m putting them elsewhere. 

The next un-taken is Brutal Impact.  Now, I love Bash as much as the next guy, but it simply has too long a cooldown to be reliable.  Even with the two points in BI, Bash has a 30 second CD.  If you need to interrupt something again and again, like KT’s Frost Bolt, then Bash just won’t cut it. 

Nurturing Instinct and Primal Tenacity are both mostly PvP talents (though I do recommend NI for leveling ferals who find the need to heal on occasion).   Predatory Instincts is all Cat all the time, so I bypassed it as well. 

 The final talent I skipped is King of the Jungle, and it’s most likely where I’d place that point from OoC if I every change it.  However, I only use Enrage before the pull, so I can get a good head of steam built up as I head into the fight.  But I don’t like the reduction in armor enrage imposes.  So I’d rarely benefit from the DPS boost in the talent.  Why would I take it then?  Well, that extra 20 energy points you get from Tiger’s Fury would come in handy in an opening move on a mob.  

As for glyphs, my majors are Frenzied Regeneration, Maul and Mangle.  The only real alternatives are Survival Instincts and Growl.  I don’t use SI all that often (thank you awesome healers) and I don’t notice my Growl missing, or rather, missing and me not regaining aggro through a swipe or glyphed Maul hit or something. 

 And that’s what I do.  How about you guys?  Are any of the talents I skipped on your must have list? 

 

 

The Big Two

May 28, 2009 at 4:43 pm | Posted in Tanking | Leave a comment
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Marked Readers –

The Big Bear Butt had a post yesterday asking Blizzard to make stats more comprehensible and to have gear progress as raiders do.  It’s interesting always, but I as I was reading it, I realized something – I don’t care about most of the secondary or tertiary stats that druids should be focusing on.   Though I know I probably should know the hit cap number off the top of my head (along with the expertise cap for dodge and block).  I probably should have a better understanding on how armor penetration works (or any understanding, for that matter).  But I don’t.  Call me old school or naive, or just plain dumb, but when it comes to tanking gear, I pretty much look at stamina and agility as my main (only?) stats. 

Armor used to be in that equation, but no longer.  Since we’re forced to share rogue gear now, we rarely have to take armor into account anymore, there aren’t many (any?) pieces that have significantly higher armor ratings than their peers.  So now I look at the stamina of a potential piece and compare it to what I have.  Then I look at the agility and do the same.  Are they both going up?  It’s an upgrade.  Is one going up and the other stays the same?  It’s a slight upgrade.  Does one go up and the other go down?  Depends on how much of a drop we’re talking about.  If it’s a significant increase on one side and a midling decrease of the other, I’ll take it.  But if the drop is too large, I’ll pass. 

Nice and scientific-like, right?  Well, it’s not and I’m ok with that.  I’m not a min/max’er.  My guild isn’t cutting edge hardcore raiding.  I don’t have a spreadsheet that I use to enter my stats and potential upgrades  into and determine which is the best.  First off, that would definately slow the raid down.  I know I’d be pissed if folks were tabbing out to check drops every boss kill – we move slowly enough tyvm.  And second, that’s just not my style.  I mean, I do my research.  I know the rotations and how to get/build/keep aggro and I know the fights I’m fighting.  But what the bosses drop?  It’s a surprise.  And I like surprises!  It’s kinda like Christmas, only with blood and guts all over. 

So let me keep building my stamina and agility and I’ll be a happy bear. 

Well, and hit.  I like hit too mostly.  Maybe it’s the hunter in me, but I know it’s very important to be able to actually strike what you swing at.  And I know there’s a hit cap out there that can be modifiedbytalentsbutthosedon’taffectyourpetsbutgemsshouldandIdon’tknowaboutbufffooddotheycount?  And what about casters, anyway?

I never remember the hit cap, or the 3% talent reduced hit cap, but I don’t mind looking it up from time to time (it’s 263 for melee, 446 for casters?!?)  But that’s as far as I go.  I’m not hit capped, but it doesn’t seem to hold us back.  The purty boys are fine doing what they’re doing and I’m not losing aggro.  I see plenty of white and yellow numbers, large and small flying all over my screen, so I imagine that I’m hitting enough.

1-2-3? A-B-C?

May 26, 2009 at 5:05 pm | Posted in Tanking | 1 Comment
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Easy 

Marked Readers:

Tanking is easy.  In fact, I’d go so far and say that main tanking is the easiest role to play in WoW today. 

What’s that? 

Blasphemy! 

BURN THIS BLOG!!!

Well, hold on, now.  Before you set butane to flat panel, at least hear me out. 

 I’m used to tanking on Nozekrusher.  And when I’m not tanking on him, I’m healing.  Why?  Tanks and healers are in short supply.  If we don’t need one to fill out our raid, we need the other.  I very rarely get to actually, you know, DPS. 

I had such an opportunity two weeks ago and was able to take my warlock into Naxx for the first time.  Now, I know the fights backwards and forwards – especially in 10-man since that is what we mostly run.  I’m usually the one that explains the boss fights to everyone before we start.  And let me tell ya, I had my head handed to me more than once.  Well, that’s not exactly true.  I didn’t die any more than anyone else, but I was amazed at how much more I had to worry about than I ever did as a tank. 

Y’see tanks are pampered; but with very good reason.  Tanks hold the success of any group in their paws, plate encased hands, pink frilly gloves, or cold, glowing grips.  They MUST get, hold and keep aggro on the big uglies or else the rest of the raid dies.  Because of this, the entire raid focuses on keeping them alive, even the designers take this into account.  Since tanks must hold aggro, that’s pretty much all they have to worry about. 

Health?  Sure, it’s a concern, but if tanks don’t have their own dedicated healer (or two) they are at least the primary concern of the 5-man healer.  Every once in awhile I drink a pot and I do use my barkskin and frenzied regeneration regularly, but basically, tanks depend entirely on their healers to keep them alive.  They simply eat too much damage otherwise. 

Fight mechanics?  Again, tanks have to do some (EVERYONE must do the Safety Dance, after all).  But have you ever noticed how many ‘tricks’ tanks are exempted from, either specifically or because of dedicated healing?  Tanks never get webbed to the wall on Maexxna.  Tanks never get hit with the Instructor’s Jagged Knife.  And the next time the MT gets hit with a mutating injection, it’ll be the first.  To be honest, I have no idea if tanks are susceptible to the Widow’s Rain of Fire because I’ve never noticed it as a tank (my health never dropped much due to dedicated healing) or as a healer (I never had to alter my rotations or pop NS-HT or SM because of it).  On Sapphiron, I try to avoid the blizzards, but with a healer, it’s not mandatory and I’ve never been hit with Life Drain.   True, there are mechanics that are specific to the tank on many fights (kiting Grobbulous around the room, taunting the boss between the MT and OT on the Instructor, Gluth and the 4 Horsemen, etc.  But compared to all the healers and pretty boys and yes, even the off-tank need to deal with?  It’s cake. 

So the fights are incredibly simple (not easy, simple) for tanks.  Position the boss properly and hit and be healed.  Even holding aggro isn’t entirely your responsibility.  Folks assume you’re doing all you can on your side (which, if you’re a decent tank, you are) and that the pretty boys dealing the damage need to watch their own aggro and scale back as needed.  

Now, what about the other roles?  Do healers get any special treatment?  Not really.  While they generally have talents that make threat a non-issue (at least for us druids).  And most tanks are spamming swipe or cleave or whatever AOE talent they have so the occasional runner quickly gets pulled back into line.  Healers also don’t have to worry about being healed for obvious reasons (though you’d be surprised how many healers neglect themselves).  But they still have to worry about all those mechanics.  Mutating injection?  We’re running for the walls.  Web wrap?  How many times have I been the one wrapped just as the enrage hits and wipes the group because the Necrotic Poison was up?  Too many to count.  So healers aren’t exempted from those nice little quirks.  Plus we’re safety dancing (and diseased afterwards).  Plus, healers have A LOT on their plates.  They’re focused on their grid or healbot boxes (or even party frames for the old-schoolers out there).  They’re making sure their HoTs don’t expire or their big heals are cast early enough and their oh-crap cool-downs are up.

 And it’s mostly the same, believe it or not for the DPS, and especially the melee folks.  The purty boys just sit back and deal damage and hog all the glory, right?  Not quite.  Most classes (at least the ones I play) require a good amount of concentration to make sure your cooldowns are managed properly and your DoTs and shots are used to the best affect.  It’s easy to get lost in your rotation.  But you can’t let yourself do that, of course.  You are full exposed to the whims of those devious developers at Blizzard.  You simply cannot afford to stand in hurt, or to mix charges, or get caught in the locust swarm.  Those things will get you killed.  Why?  Well, you most likely don’t have huge armor and/or mitigation stats to defer damage and the healers are focused on the tank!  If you’re a warlock and you don’t move out of rain of fire (or any of the numerous ashtrays scattered throughout the game) you will die before the raid healer knows what hit you.   

 Now it’s true that there are some very challenging fights for the various tanking classes, but I think overall, with the demise of cc and improvements to AOE threat generation and such, tanking is in easy mode at the moment.  It certainly hasn’t always been this way and I’m not sure how long it will last.  And most importantly, we are still held in awe by the purty boys for our willingness to do what they cannot!  Overall, I can live with that.

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