Saturday, 28 August 2010

Cheer up, emo kid! Surviving cutters on Halion Heroic

Sorry for the lack of posts this week! I've been incredibly busy, so fell well behind on my updates!

We've been working on Ruby Sanctum 25 heroic these past weeks, and are just about at a kill (2% and we hit the enrage! Next week he'll be dead.). It's pretty crucial to avoid any cutter deaths, as the loss of a dps will likely either slow the pace or result in the shadow and fire realms becoming imbalanced, allowing Halion to heal. Similarly, the loss of a healer can put pressure on the other healers as they work to keep the tanks and raid up.

I thought I'd post some of my tricks and things I do to avoid dying to cutters as they might be helpful for others in this fight. These are particularly apt for the hardmode versions of the 10 and 25 man encounter, where there are two cutter beams, but are equally relevant for the normal versions of the fight.

First and foremost: To keep my view as clear and wide as possible (and to avoid it being restricted by the outer firewall), I angle my camera downward and zoom far out. The slight angle helps prevent my view from getting blocked by Halion's wings, which I've found happens if I position my camera looking straight down.


1. Checking orb location. A few seconds before each cutter timer is up, I shift my toon just enough to look to the left to get a clear view of the orb and its position. It's a subtle enough shift that it doesn't face me away from the boss completely (so it shouldn't affect dps attacks). Once I've locked the orb's position, I can shift immediately back to face the boss full on, and I now have the orb's location fully locked in my peripheral vision so I can track it as it moves and stay out of the cutter's path.

2. Boss emotes. I always play with the in-game sound and music on, and I find boss emotes incredibly helpful on fights. Their emotes will always fall in line with their abilities (in case your bossmod is lagging or inaccurate) and it's an extra audio reminder of what's coming. The cutter emote is 'Beware the Shadow' and, for those in the fire realm, the Meteor Strike emote is 'The heavens burn'.

3. Staying with the forward cutter. This may be less useful for melee (who need to avoid getting parried) but is helpful for healers and casters. I edge towards the leading cutter, as this gives me time for at least one full cast (maybe two quick ones) before I have to move again to avoid the second cutter as it comes around.

4. Strafing. Most of my movement in the Twilight realm as we rotate is strafing with minor adjustments to keep myself facing the boss. This keeps me nicely in a circle as we rotate with the beams.

5. Finding the sweet spot to stand. One week I found myself getting sucked into other's consumption voidzones a few times. I realised I was standing just slightly too far back from Halion, so I would end up a bit too close to the person being cleansed and get sucked in. All I had to do was adjust where I was standing so that I was slightly closer in and I was fine. Similarly, standing too close will give you minimal time between cutter beams, so finding that golden zone to stand in really helps.

6. Dropping off Consumption voids. When there's ample time before a cutter, I edge to the direction we came from along the outer wall, so as to leave some space for the consumption that lands during cutter. For the cutter consumptions, I move forward at the wall (towards where the leading cutter is) so that if I do get slowed in the voidzone, there's as much time as possible before that second cutter reaches me. You do need to keep an eye on the orbs as you do this and be careful not to move too far forward, as you risk getting breathed on or trapped in the tank's quadrant when the cutters start if you get too far ahead.

7. Speed boosts. For those that have them, any speed boosts seem best saved for consumptions. I use my rocket boots or, if those are on cooldown, I use travel form or kitty dash. Some of our shammies have picked up Improved Ghost Wolf for this as well, as the instant shift to ghost wolf helps them move out quickly. Our holy priest picked up Body+Soul, the bubbles give a helpful speed boost down there as well.

For druids: It seems like shapeshifting will free us from the consumption void's slow (though you may need to shift more than once until you are completely cleared of the voidzone)... t seems like it helps me, at any rate. To avoid going into caster form, the macro /use !____ Form helps a ton. It will shift you into the desired form without putting you into caster form in between. (/use !Travel Form, /use !Tree Form, etc).

8. Mitigating damage in voids. If you can, save your healthstones or any defensive cooldowns (ie Barkskin) for the consumption zones. There's a lot of damage from the debuff, its tick and from the voidzone itself, plus the ticking aura in the twilight realm. It's even worse if you're unlucky enough to have a combustion zone overlap with the consumption in phase 3. The healers will be doing everything they can to keep you up, but as ever, it's a delicate balance, particularly between the heavy damage on consumption targets and the tanks.

Feel free to post with any more tips you may have!

More posts to come over the weekend! I've got a bunch in mind that I just wasn't able to post during the week, so I'll get those up asap.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Tree of Life raidwide aura

I was thinking about the Tree of Life raidwide aura (+6% healing received to party and raid members) and suddenly thought... I think this is disappearing in Cataclysm. I'm fairly certain it's disappearing, as I haven't seen it noted in talents on the beta. I imagine it's gone along with the permanent tree form, though I think it's a shame if it does disappear.

It correlates with the Moonkin +haste and spell crit auras and Leader of the Pack aura. The Moonkin +haste is, so far, still in beta (I don't believe spell crit is) as is Leader of the Pack. It would be great for the ToL aura to remain as well. I could see two possibilities for this: The first option I see is the increased healing received is only up during the ToL cooldown. While less useful overall, it would emphasize the ToL cooldown situational use and perhaps buff that up a little bit more. The second option would be for the +healing received aura to be attained once specced into Tree of Life, but the aura will remain up 24/7 (while in Caster form as well as ToL form). This would correlate with the changes to Master Shapeshifter (which now provides +4% to healing in Caster and ToL forms).

I may be wrong about the aura disappearing, since I'm not in the beta to test it. Hopefully it's still there already, but in case it isn't, I think this would be a good idea to put it back in. I made a post on the Cata forums about it (here), though it looks like it may be swamped out pretty quickly (or lost amongst the millions of OMG SAVE ToL FORM posts), but hopefully it'll be spotted!

Saturday, 21 August 2010

More beta updates for Druids - Build 12803

There's been another update on the beta servers with plenty of changes for druids. (MMO Article)

  • Wild Mushroom changed, only 3 mushrooms can be placed at one time (Down from 5).
  • Cyclone cast time increased to 2 sec. Up from 1.5 sec.
  • Faerie Fire now has a 35 yards range, up from 30 yards.
  • Insect Swarm now has a 40 yards range, up from 30 yards.
  • Starfire now has a 40 yards range, up from 30 yards.
  • Entangling Roots now has a 35 yards range, up from 30 yards.
  • Thorns now lasts 20 sec, down from 10 minutes. Damage increased by 1400% (Deals 447 damage instead of 32)
  • Moonfire now has a 40 yards range, up from 30 yards.
  • Wrath now has a 40 yards range, up from 30 yards.
  • Moonkin Form now increases Nature and Arcane spell damage by 10%.
  • Starlight Wrath now reduces cast time by 0.15/0.25/0.5 sec. (Up from 0.1/0.2/0.3 sec)

  • Lacerate now stacks up to 3 times, down from 5 times.
  • Mangle (Bear) no longer has a cooldown.
  • Improved Feral Charge is now named Stampede
  • Heart of the Wild moved to Tier 1 restoration.
  • Furor is now a Feral Tier 1 talent - Gives you 33/66/100% chance to gain 10 Rage when you shapeshift into Bear Form, and you keep up to 33/66/100 of your Energy when you shapeshift into Cat Form, and increases your total Intellect by 2/4/6%.

  • Tranquility now heals every 2 sec, down from 5 sec. (Old tooltip bug?)
  • Rebirth now has a 40 yards range, up from 30 yards.
  • Revive now has a 40 yards range, up from 30 yards.
  • Empowered Rejuvenation (Tier 6) renamed to Swift Rejuvenation (Tier 5) and revamped - Reduces the global cooldown of your Rejuvenation by 0.25/0.5 sec.
  • Efflorescence now affects friendly targets within 4 yards, down from 15 yards.
  • Wild Growth mana cost reduced to 27% of base mana, down from 55% of base mana.
  • Fury of Stormrage moved from Tier 5 to Tier 4. Now also reduces the mana cost of your Wrath spell by 50/100%.
  • Gift of the Earthmother moved from Tier 5 to Tier 6. Rejuvenation spell instant heal increased from 3/6% to 5/10%.
  • Nature's Bounty now increases critical strike chance on Regrowth by 20/40/60% (Up from 10/20/30%) and now has a 33/66/100% chance to proc. (Up from 20/40/60%)
  • Empowered Touch now Increases the healing done by your Healing Touch and Nourish spells by 5/10%, and your Nourish spell has a 50/100% chance to refresh the duration of your Lifebloom on targets.
  • Naturalist moved from Tier 2 to Tier 1. Changed to 2-Ranks, down from 3-Ranks. Reduces the cast time of your Healing Touch and Nourish spells by 0.25/0.5 sec. (Up from 0.15/0.35/0.5 sec)
  • Natural Shapeshifter is now a 2 ranks talent, down from 3 Ranks.
  • Nature's Cure (Tier 5) *New* - Empowers your Remove Corruption spell to also remove a magic effect from a friendly target.
  • Heart of the Wild is now a Tier 1 Restoration talent - Increases your maximum mana by 5/10/15%. In addition, while in Bear Form your Stamina is increased by 3/7/10% and while in Cat Form your attack power is increased by 3/7/10%.

 A lot of changes. It looks like a lot of spells have had their range increased to 40 yards (for druids and for other classes). The Restoration changes all look positive. Wild Growth has had its mana cost reduced drastically (27% of base mana, down from 55% of base mana). Efflorescence has been reduced some, now only affecting friendly targets with 4 yards (from 15 yards). The Resto tree is looking better I think, and also seems there's a spare point now required to get to the next tier, which I think would either be well placed in Revitalise or perhaps Heart of the Wild.

For a Resto tree I'm thinking the following build now: Cata Talent Calculator

Tier 1:
Blessing of the Grove 2/2
Natural Shapeshifter 2/2
Naturalist 2/2
Heart of the Wild 0-1/3

Tier 2:
Master Shapeshifter 1/1
Improved Rejuvenation 3/3

Tier 3:
Living Seed 3/3
Revitalize 0-1/3
Nature's Swiftness 1/1

Tier 4:
Nature's Bounty 3/3
Empowered Touch 2/2

Tier 5:
Efflorescence 3/3
Wild Growth 1/1
Nature's Cure 1/1
Swift Rejuvenation 2/2

Tier 6:
Gift of the Earthmother 3/3

Tier 7:
Tree of Life 1/1

Tier 1:
Nature's Grace 3/3
Nature's Majesty 2/2

Tier 2:
Genesis 3/3
Moonglow 2/3

As ever the beta is constantly changing. Looking positive for druids so far though.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Life-Binder... preserve me...

'Dragonqueen... Life-Binder... preserve me...' -Keristrasza

Moonra from RestoDude got me thinking with his post on Favourite Dungeons about some of my favourite dungeons and quest lines in Wrath.

There are tons of great quest chains which have great depth in their storylines. Icecrown and the Storm Peaks in particular have some great chains. The Sons of Hodir quest line is an interesting one lore-wise, particularly as the completion of the chain explains much of what is happening in the Storm Peaks and sets up much of what you see in Ulduar. Icecrown has some amazing chains as well, from helping the Argent Crusade gain a foothold, to taking back the Shadowvault for the Knights of the Ebon Blade and, in particular, the plight to save the soul of Crusader Bridenbrad. The Guru of Drakuru chains are also fun ones which take you through the history of the trolls in Zul'Drak and Grizzly Hills.

One of my favourites is a questline out in Coldarra in Borean Tundra. I love most of the storylines involving the different dragonflights (I love all the quest chains from Wyrmrest Temple), even moreso when connecting the quests and history to the book trilogy War of the Ancients).

This one in particular is picked up as you go around Coldarra to help the red dragonflight (you'll be sent to Coldarra after assisting on Amber Ledge in Borean Tundra). Eventually while fighting the mages and drakonid you'll pick up a fragment of a strange prison, which is actually holding Keristrasza prisoner. Through the quests, you help to free her and eventually set up a trap for Malygos. Unfortunately, Malygos takes Keristrasza prisoner, forces her to be his consort and attempts to turn her into a blue. It is then we are asked to venture into the Nexus and 'do whatever is required to spare her this fate'.

After doing this questline, it always strikes me as sad when we have to slay Keristrasza in Nexus. It's a tragic fate for the dragon, and another of the many captivating tales strewn throughout the quests in Northrend.

Are there any quests that have had particular meaning or memory for you? Which have been your favourites? Share your thoughts!

Talent trees in the most recent beta build

I’ve been playing around with the latest beta build talent trees. MMO Champ’s Cata Talent Calculator is fairly updated, though they haven’t yet made the Furor and Heart of the Wild swap (Furor is now in the Feral tree and Heart of the Wild is in Resto). Otherwise it looks alright though.
The kitty spec is fairly straightforward in my opinion.
Feral Tree:
Tier 1:
Feral Swiftness 2/2: Increases your movement speed by 30% in Cat Form and increases your chance to dodge while in Cat Form or Bear Form by 4%.
Furor 3/3: Gives you 60% chance to gain 10 Rage when you shapeshift into Bear Form, and you keep up to 60 of your Energy when you shapeshift into Cat Form, and increases your total Intellect while in Moonkin/Caster form by 6%.
Predatory Strikes 2/2: Increases the critical strike chance of your Ravage by 50% on targets at or above 90% health, and your finishing moves have a 20% chance per combo point to make your next Nature spell with a base casting time less than 10 sec. become an instant cast spell.
Tier 2:
Fury Swipes 3/3: When you auto-attack while in Cat form or Bear form, you have a 12% chance to gain an extra auto-attack on the same target. This effect cannot occur more than once every 6 sec.
Primal Fury 2/2: Gives you a 100% chance to gain an additional 5 Rage anytime you get a critical strike while in Bear and Dire Bear Form and your critical strikes from Cat Form abilities that add combo points have a 100% chance to add an additional combo point.
Feral Agression 2/2: Increases the damage caused by your Ferocious Bite by 10% and causes Faerie Fire (Feral) to apply 3 stacks of the Faerie Fire effect when cast.
Tier 3:
King of the Jungle 3/3: While using your Enrage ability in Bear Form, your damage is increased by 15%, and your Tiger's Fury ability also instantly restores 60 energy.
Feral Charge 1/1: Teaches Feral Charge (Bear) and Feral Charge (Cat).
Feral Charge (Bear) - Causes you to charge an enemy, immobilizing and interrupting any spell being cast for until cancelled. This ability can be used in Bear Form and Dire Bear Form. 15 second cooldown.
Feral Charge (Cat) - Causes you to leap behind an enemy, dazing them for 3 sec. 30 second cooldown.
Improved Feral Charge 2/2: Increases your melee haste by 15% after you use Feral Charge (Bear) for 8 sec, and Ravage will temporarly not require stealth for 3 sec after you use Feral Charge (Cat).
Tier 4:
Leader of the Pack 1/1: While in Cat Form or Bear Form, the Leader of the Pack increases critical strike chance of all party and raid members within 100 yards by 5%. In addition, your melee critical strikes in Cat Form and Bear Form cause you to heal for 8% of your total health and gain 8% of your maximum mana. This effect cannot occur more than once every 6 sec.
Tier 5:
Primal Madness 2/2: Tiger's Fury and Berserk also increase your current and maximum energy by 20 during their durations, and your Enrage and Berserk abilities instantly generate 12 Rage.
Survival Instincts 1/1: Reduces all damage taken by 60% for 12 seconds. Only usable while in cat or bear form.
Endless Carnage 2/2: Increases the duration of your Rake by 6 sec and your Savage Roar and Pulverize by 6 sec.
Tier 6:
NomNomNom 2/2: When you Ferocious Bite a target at or below 25% health, you have a 100% chance to instantly refresh the duration of your Rip on the target.
Rend and Tear 3/3: Increases damage done by your Maul and Shred attacks on bleeding targets by 20%, and increases the critical strike chance of your Ferocious Bite ability on bleeding targets by 25%.
Tier 7: 
Berserk 1/1: When activated, this ability causes your Mangle (Bear) ability to hit up to 3 targets and have no cooldown, and reduces the energy cost of all your Cat Form abilities by 50%. Lasts 15 sec. You cannot use Tiger's Fury while Berserk is active. 
Clears the effect of Fear and makes you immune to Fear for the duration.
Resto Tree:
Tier 1:
Blessing of the Grove 2/2: Increases the damage done by shred by 4%.
Natural Shapeshifter 3/3: Reduces the mana cost of all Shapeshifting by 30%.
Heart of the Wild 3/3: Increases your maximum mana by 15%. In addition, while in Bear Form your Stamina is increased by 10% and while in Cat Form your attack power is increased by 10%.
Tier 2:
Master Shapeshifter 1/1: Increases critical strike chance by 4% in cat form.
The kitty spec is fairly straightforward. I’ve skipped Infected Wounds as more of a situational PVE talent (some cats pick this up currently for HM Lich King work to slow Valks), a bear talent, or PVP talent. Similarly, Nurturing Instinct I tend to find a bit more of a PVP talent (for self-heals) but may also have situational use in PVE. Survival Instincts (now only a damage reduction tool) is also arguably a situational PVE talent, however I find this a much more useful tool to pick up. In its new form in Cata, it operates much more like a Shield Wall which has a great place in reducing damage in fights (particularly if you pull aggro on something accidentally), so it may be a situational tool but a much more useful one. Good to pick up!

The Restoration spec I’ve seen a lot more room for different specs. The build I’m currently liking is as follows:
Tier 1:
Blessing of the Grove 2/2: Increases healing of your Rejuvenation by 4%.
Natural Shapeshifter 3/3: Reduces the mana cost of all Shapeshifting by 30%.
Tier 2:
Master Shapeshifter 1/1: Increases healing by 4%.
Improved Rejuvenation 3/3: Increases the effect of Rejuvenation by 15%.
Naturalist 0-3/3: Reduces the cast time of Nourish and Healing Touch by .1-.5 seconds.
Tier 3:
Living Seed 3/3: When you critically heal a target with Swiftmend, Regrowth, Nourish, or Healing Touch you have a 100% chance to plant a Living Seed on the target for 30% of the amount healed. The Living Seed will bloom when the target is next attacked. Lasts 15 seconds.
Revitalize 0-3/3: When your Regrowth or Lifebloom ticks critically hit, you instantly regenerate 1-3% of your mana. Effect cannot occur more than once every 6 seconds.
Nature’s Swiftness 1/1: When activated,  your next Nature spell with a base casting time of less than 10 seconds becomes an instant cast spell.
Tier 4:
Nature’s Bounty 3/3: Increases the critical effect chance of your Regrowth spell by 30% on targets at or below 25% health, and you have a chance when you critically heal with your Nourish or Healing Touch spells to reduce the cooldown on your Swiftmend by .5 seconds.
Empowered Touch 2/2: Your Healing Touch spell gains an additional 20% of your bonus healing effects and your Nourish spell has a 100% chance to refresh your Lifebloom on your target.
Tier 5:
Efflorescence 3/3: When you critically heal with your Regrowth spell you also sprout a bed of healing flora underneath the target, healing all nearby friendly targets within 15 yards who stand on them for 30% of the amount healed by your Regrowth every sec for 7 sec.
Wild Growth 1/1: Heals up to 5 friendly party or raid members within 15 yards of the target for 2866.15 over 7 sec. Prioritizes healing most injured party members. The amount healed is applied quickly at first, and slows down as the Wild Growth reaches its full duration.
Gift of the Earthmother 2/2: Iincreases the healing done by the bloom effect of your Lifebloom by 10%, and your Rejuvenation spell also instantly heals for 6% of the total periodic effect.
Tier 6:
Empowered Rejuvenation 3/3: The bonus healing effects of your healing over time spells and Swiftmend is increased by 12%.
Tier 7:
Tree of Life 1/1: Shapeshift into the tree of life, increasing healing done by 15% and armour by 120%. Some spells are also enhanced.
Balance tree:
Tier 1:
Nature’s Grace 3/3: All non-periodic spell criticals have grace you with a blessing of nature, increasing your spell casting speed by 15% for 3 sec.
Nature’s Majesty 2/2: Increases the critical strike chance of your Wrath, Starfire, Starfall, Nourish and Healing Touch spells by 4%.
Tier 2:
Genesis 3/3: Increases the damage and healing done by your periodic spell damage and healing effects and by Swiftmend by 6%.
Moonglow 2/3: Reduces the Mana cost of your Moonfire, Starfire, Starfall, Starsurge, Wrath, Healing Touch, Nourish, Regrowth and Rejuvenation spells by 3%/6%/9%.
The main points I’m having a real debate on are those in Naturalist and Revitalize. I will have to see both in action - as Naturalist reduces Nourish cast time as well, I imagine it will be useful. It’s my understanding that both may still have their cast times reviewed, so hopefully it’s not too painful, though apparently Naturalist was put back in because the cast times were feeling too long in beta. We will have a lot of haste in Cata though (particularly as haste will affect our HoTs too) so we’ll have to see how much that cuts down the cast times. 
I would be interested to see just how often Revitalize procs in its new inception, though I see that as being the best talent to drop points in if picking up points in Naturalist. With larger mana pools in Cata and an increased emphasis on thoughtful healing and mana conservation, I think it may be feasible to skip this talent. The mana return isn’t massive, and if one is already being careful with their mana management, it may not make too large of a difference.
The other point I was disappointed to drop was the one point in Moonglow. Due to the nature of the new talent trees, and being unable to spend more than 10 points in the Balance tree, you will basically have to choose whether you want 3/3 in Genesis or in Moonglow (or neither, if you simply put more points elsewhere). The boost to HoTs and to Swiftmend provided by Genesis just felt too important to miss, though, so I deemed the point in Moonglow necessary to drop. At higher gear levels for PVE raiding, this will likely be the optimal choice to maximize healing; better gear should result in larger mana pools and mana regen, and raiding compositions will likely provide replenishment, so the boosts to healing will be more valuable.
With the mana/intellect changes to both Furor and Heart of the Wild, and also the change in their positions (the swap between the Feral and Restoration trees), I considered trying to incorporate those talents into a Restoration spec. I personally did not feel it was feasible, as there was no place I was willing to sacrifice points to inject into those talents. One could argue sacrificing Moonglow for them, though I think the reduced mana cost provided by Moonglow (on a lot of spells, I might add) is more valuable. Furor might be potentially valuable with the increase to intellect, especially as intellect will be feeding into Spellpower come Cata, however for only 2/4/6% intellect I still don’t feel it’s worth sacrificing points elsewhere. Furor now being in the Feral tree also makes it more difficult, as there’s nothing else in the Feral tree worth picking up - the points could be better spent elsewhere to get to additional tiers. The Heart of the Wild mana boost is still better for Ferals in my opinion, given that it provides simply an increase in mana pool, as it provides ferals with a more natural mana pool increase as there won’t be any intellect on feral gear.
All of this is subject to change, of course! We’ll see what the next beta build brings us...

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Beta class updates (and good news for Trees!)

There's been an update on MMO Champ with info on the latest Beta build Class changes and with it, plenty of interesting changes for druids!

First up, some Feral and Resto changes:
  • Frenzied Regeneration now Increases maximum health by 30%, increases health to 30% (if below that value), and converts up to 10 rage per second into health for 20 sec. Each point of rage is converted into 3% of max health.
  • Bash no longer interrupts spellcasting for 3 sec.
  • Enrage now increases physical damage taken by 10% instead of reducing base armor.
  • Survival Instincts now Reduces all damage taken by 60% for 12 sec. Only useable while in Bear Form or Cat Form. Instant, 5 min cooldown
  • Heart of the Wild now increases your maximum mana by 5/10/15% instead of increasing your Intellect by 2/4/6%.

  • Master Shapeshifter bonus increased from 2% to 4% for all forms.
  • Furor now gives you a 33/66/100% (up from 20/40/60%) chance to gain 10 rage when you shapeshift into Bear form and you keep up to 33/66/100 (up from 20/40/60) of your Energy when you shapeshift into Cat Form. Now increases your total Intellect by 2/4/6%. (Old - Only increased in Moonkin form)
  • Naturalist is back as a Tier 2 Talent. Reduces the cast time of your Healing Touch and Nourish spells by 0.15/0.35/0.5 sec.
Some interesting changes here.

Frenzied Regeneration is now looking like the current Survival Instincts, plus a lot more. With the change, it will increase maximum health by 30% and increase current health to 30% (if below that value) as well as it's current effect of converting 10 rage per second into health. Survival Instincts now instead reduces all damage taken by 60%, basically giving bears a shield wall. Barkskin was a nice damage reduction cooldown to use, and admittedly nice with only a 1 minute cooldown, but definitely not equivalent to shield wall (and its equivalent DK and Pally abilities), so this is a nice new cooldown for bears.

Heart of the Wild is getting a change where it only increases your maximum mana instead of intellect. I imagine this will mostly be to give ferals a larger mana pool that's perhaps more proportional, as no ferals will be picking up gear with intellect on, so it likely wouldn't scale too well. I don't see this as likely being useful for Resto or Balance druids - I don't think we'll have the points to spare, to be honest, and the intellect boost would be more useful rather than simply mana increase - so this will likely only affect ferals.

The increased bonus to Master Shapeshifter is good; it seems to just be bringing the talent back into line with its current form but still only costing one talent point. Useful for all specs.

The change to Furor is interesting for Restoration druids. MMO doesn't seem to have the latest Talent Trees updated on their calculator, so I haven't been able to play with the new tree yet and see just where points will be able to go. Glancing at the previous tree they had up, I could see some spare points going into Furor as opposed to Perseverance (Reduces spell damage taken by x%) to get you to the next tier. I really need to wait to see the next tree setup though (particularly with the reintroduction of Naturalist as a tier 2 talent). Furor could have a lot more relevance for Restoration druids now with the increase to intellect in caster form though.

Blue posts!
Restoration druids got a lot of Blues feedback. Let's go over some of the highlights.
As far as the history goes here, we thought at the time (and still think!) that the Resto druid wasn't going to be well served as a "I only care about hots and nothing else" healer. It's just too extreme a design. Any time when hots are good (by which I mean both individual encounters and periods in the game as a whole) the druid is going to dominate. Any time when hots are terrible, so will be druids. We probably, in retrospect, didn't push Nourish enough, because we still ended up in a raid healing situation where druids used Rejuv and Wild Growth and were loathe to use any other button.

We are going to push even harder in Cataclysm. Druids will still have exceptional hots, but will need to cast direct heals as well. I usually get a lot of responses after such a post from druids saying "But I only want to cast hots!" I'm not sure how to respond to that, because we just don't think it works. 

As far as the AE healing goes, it's definitely something to keep an eye on, but we're not worried about it yet. We are trying to cut back (yet again) on the dominance of the smart AE heals. The cooldowns of CoH and WG need to stay high. We do have some room to lower the mana cost on WG, and probably will.

It's also worth mentioning that Efflorescence does some great AE healing, and is probably overpowered at the moment.
All good news there as I see it. While I use my HoTs a ton of course, I've never been one to only spam Rejuv and WG, so it's not a huge change for me. Druids have some fantastic spells that many never use! I'm always surprised too when I see some druids who spam Rejuvs and WG around don't even use their Swiftmend.

They're suggesting that the mana cost of Wild Growth may come down some, which would probably be good, particularly as it was quite a drastic jump, but I still see no problem with it being on a longer cooldown / at a bit higher mana cost. Again, all of these changes really seem to be aimed at encouraging druids to use their other spells and think more while healing, as opposed to only mindlessly spamming Rejuvs and Wild Growths around the raid. Not only is that less fun and requires less thought, personally I think it can hurt druid rep for other roles. Druids can be effective tank healers (and look like they'll have an improved tank-healing toolset in Cataclysm) and can be extremely excellent in all sorts of different fights - NOT ONLY in ones with AE damage (like Blood Queen). I'm always pushing that druids can be excellent in any situation and any fight, because we can be! We just need more druids to embrace it.
This seems really at odds with the increase in Rejuv's mana cost. We're not supposed to pre-HoT the raid, but you're adding in a talent designed to let us do exactly that? I'm very confused by this. 
We don't like prehotting (or pre-shielding) as a general strategy. On certain fights where you know that the damage is going to come fast and furious then maybe it's appropriate, but we don't want the current LK style to continue. I've healed a lot as both Resto and Disc, so I know the power of prehealing, though it's not as if you need first-hand experience to understand how useful and powerful it is.

On the other hand, if a lot of people take damage at once, we have no problem with getting a Rejuv out on several of them at once, and a lower GCD will help there. It's still possible to screw that up (by which I mean we want healing to have some player decision-making as part of the gameplay) by using too much mana on Rejuvs or casting too many Rejuvs when the situation called for something else.

I'm going to assume that the lowered GCD is to allow for situations where Players A, B, and C got him by a small AOE and were taken down to 70% health. Nourish is too slow to heal all three, Regrowth is too expensive for that little damage, and Wild Growth costs too much for just three targets. So instead you just toss a Rejuv on each of them and move on. This is much different than the current model where you would just keep as many players Rejuv'd as possible with WG on cooldown. 
I think these last posts sum it up pretty well! Particularly that last submitted one - now people are thinking about what they're doing rather than just spamming random HoTs out.

Really, for those who are healing with all their different spells and doing this sort of thing already, I don't think you'll see too much change in your actual healing style when you get to Cata (you will, of course, still feel the actual spell changes). The biggest jump I think will be for those who are only Rejuv/WGing at the moment, as the increased mana costs and cooldown durations will be felt very hard. Though, all the more reason now to start trying out the other spells in your arsenal and getting ready for Cata!

One last excerpt from our Blue posts;
I suspect we won't end up keeping the snare on Tree of Life. We knew that we could try snare and then remove it. We would have a hard time trying no snare and then adding one. Our intent was to make you think about when was the best time to push ToL rather that just hitting it the second it's off cooldown. In practice though we just think it feels crappy so even if it accomplishes our goal, it's probably not worth it.
Yay, no snare! I definitely was seeing their goal of making us think about when to use the ToL cooldown, but it was still not sounding like a great plan, so I'm happy if they are removing the snare completely. The main issue I foresaw with it is that often, a time that you'd need the empowered abilities the ToL cooldown provides, would likely be a time when you would need to move. Blizz had also suggested that they wanted more fights where movement was important, so snaring us at such crucial times really felt like a big potential impairment.

I'm still going to miss my old tree form, and no word still on whether we might get that cosmetic glyph (but glyphs are still a bit of a ways off in the beta as my understanding).

All in all, some good information and a positive outlook for Trees!

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Cata changes, Relics and Phoenixes!

MMO Champ had a big update from the latest Beta build with some interesting changes and new items.

An interesting change is coming to Relics. All Idols, Librams, Sigils, and Totems are now all known just as Relics and they have stats as opposed to the current procs. This puts them a bit more in line with wands and other items in the Ranged slot. 

Overall this is seeming like a good change. This will probably make each tier of Relics better upgrades, as opposed to the current model where sometimes the procs of a previous tier's Relic is better than the new one (whether due to ramp-up time, the buff not remaining up like it's ideally supposed to, etc). Now, instead of worrying about Relic buffs falling off or the equip being based on an ability that isn't used much, we'll now just have direct stat upgrades. With the advent of reforging, too, any additional stats (ie crit, haste) will likely be able to be tweaked if desired.

There are some guild vendor rewards, which looks like they become available with the guild rep/guild leveling system. There are several new BOA items; helms, which have a +10% exp bonus, and some cloaks, which only have a 5% bonus. An image from MMO is below, click for a larger view.

The prices are most likely off though - they look very cheap! - so I expect those may change in the future. I also don't see costs on the BOA items, though there may be several ways to purchase those, similar to now (Dungeon badges, Stone Keeper's Shards, and Champion's Seals).

The Dark Phoenix mount looks brilliant.

You will also be able to buy 310% flying speed for 5000 gold (though if you have a 310% mount already, you will learn it for free).

Some interesting updates!

Wednesday, 11 August 2010


Lament of the Highborne

I have a number of mementos sitting in my bags and my bank. They all have some significance, whether a gift from a friend, a rare or no longer available item, or just something I thought worth holding onto. I thought I'd share some of them and their significance to me, and invite you to share any significant items that you've hung on to over your WoW days.

Sylvanas' Music Box: I only acquired this just recently, but it is easily one of my favourites. The music box is a reward from one of the five quests that are in the Unsealed Chest - this chest drops following a kill of the Lich King (25) after a Shadowmourne has been completed. The music box will summon two banshees (pictured above) who sing 'Lament of the Highborne.' Horde will recognise the song from the quest The Lady's Necklace; Sylvanas summons the singers when you return the necklace to her. Anyone immediately around you will be able to hear them sing when you use the music box (provided they have their game sound on). I love the song and the lore behind it. The song is a lament of the Fall of Quel'Thalas to the scourge.

Stone of Stupendous Springing Strides: A friend mailed this to me one morning after I had been feeling pretty down the previous night and I've kept it in my pack ever since! It brightened my morning and makes me grin whenever I look at it. It ensures I keep up my tree-jumping ways.

Tree Branch: I once fished up one of these! The one I fished up I gave to a friend (to help keep him healed when he didn't have a Tree nearby). The one in my pack now was given to me by a Tree friend in a previous guild one night when we were working on Lich King (25). What's a tree without branches?

Haunted Memento: For those who always wonder where those ghosts who follow people around come from, it's from a player having one of these - as long as it is in your pack, a dark shade will follow you around and place a 'Haunted' buff on you (something is with you...). I love having my ghost friend follow me around. I call him Wilfred.

Sulfuras and my Tier 1 Cenarion set: Even though I got these after the fact (rather than from raiding Molten Core in vanilla), I still find them special items to have. The tier set especially looks brilliant and feels very appropriate for a druid - I imagine my druid feels right at home in Moonglade in this garb. I have a lot of fun running around in them (and healing the occasional Random Dungeon in them!).

I have a fair few disguises and toys in my bags to keep myself amused, most of which are brought out while waiting for a raid to start or during our break. One of my favourites is the Orb of the Sin'dorei, which is particularly fun to use with the Swift White Hawkstrider and Phoenix Hatchling pet. I wish you could sneak into the Horde area in Dal with all of that on, but the guards aren't so easily fooled.

I have a bag of weapons sat in my bank, the majority of which I either think look brilliant (Black Ice, for instance, looks amazing) or have some significance (like Oathbinder, a souvenir from a Lich King kill). Another is the Lightborn Spire, a reward for restoring Quel'Delar from the Battered Hilt quest chain.

I've also kept a few of the more interesting quest rewards, like Don Carlos' Famous Hat and the Barov Peasant Caller from the Scholomance quest chain. The Spectral Essence they give you is quite neat as well - it allows you to see and communicate with the ghosts on Caer Darrow, who walk around as though things were still the same as on the day they died.

I'll end with a video I recorded of the music box so you can see the Banshees and hear the song.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

New faction leader models and pets

We had a fun update from MMO Champ today showing off the new Faction Leader models as well as a few new companion pet models, so I thought I'd make a quick post showing those.

There are a few of the Wrath models in there as well (Alextrasza, for instance). The Ysera model looks great, Malfurion is looking pretty cool as well. 

 There's a few cool new pets as well, including two engineering ones! 

This one is pretty cool, will definitely be trying to make that quite quickly. Not too sure if the pattern is a drop or if we can learn it from the trainer.

This is the other one.

This is just a new pet, though they don't know where it drops yet. Pretty cool though!

There was also a quote from Ghostcrawler about Glyphs in Cataclysm:
Bigger topic, but minor glyphs are almost always cosmetic / convenience features for Cataclysm. The big distinction is between prime glyphs (unambiguous dps increases) and major glyphs (utility, survival or very hard to math out dps increases). Under that model, affecting Fear is probably a major.

While we probably won't change every glyph, there is a chance we might, so I ask players not to focus too much on the current LK glyphs.

All for now!

Monday, 9 August 2010

Resto Best in Slot (3.3.5) and tooltip excitement!

I finally learned how to enable Wowhead's Powered by Wowhead Tooltips to display on the blog, so I thought, what better way to show off the new tooltips than by doing a Resto Best in Slot gear post!

Watch in wonder as tooltips magically appear before your eyes! Gaze in amazement as information is displayed without having to leave the page! (I'm excited, can you tell?)

I'll spend some time on the Tree and Cat Guides to edit tooltips into those as well. (Update: Edited tooltips into the guides!)

On with the list!

I'm assuming all Heroic (and Sanctified) gear available for this BiS list, however, regular versions of all are excellent as well (and likely more easily obtainable for most). I'll start with the main list, go over some of the reasons why, then lastly touch upon some alternative options.

The key for the majority of items in this BiS list is the items are maximizing the haste you get from gear, allowing you to reduce the amount of gems and enchants you have to dedicate to haste to reach the cap. This frees you to dedicate the majority of your gemming to Spellpower. You may still have a few gems for Haste even with these pieces, depending on your spec (whether you go with a spec which takes points in Celestial Focus or not) and whether you choose to take gem slot bonuses or not. I personally like to take gem slot bonuses and prefer not to spec into CF, so even as I close in on the full list I'm still happy to use some Reckless Ametrine to help meet the haste and socket bonus requirements.

Bolvar's Devotion is just pipped as BiS by the Heroic Greatcloak of the Turned ChampionBolvar's Devotion is still better than the normal Greatcloak of the Turned Champion, however the Greatcloak is much more easily obtainable than Bolvar's, as Bolvar's requires you reach an Argent Crusade Tribute Chest with 50 attempts remaining in ToGC 25.

Don't forget that iLvL isn't everything on gear! Many will grab the Boots of Unnatural Growth, particularly as the Heroic ones are often a bit easier to get as Heroic Gunship 25 is easy for most groups to do. The Blessed Cenarion Boots with their haste are preferable. They are also easy to obtain, as they are a crafted item - any Leatherworker with the pattern can make it. The Boots of the Frozen Seed from Lady Deathwhisper in ICC 10 are nice boots as well and do have haste on, however, you lose a lot of spirit.

Spirit feeds into our healing power due to Improved Tree of Life, so in general gear with spirit on it will be preferable to those pieces without it as, at least at or near the same iLvL, those with spirit will likely give you a greater boost in Healing spellpower. This is why a piece like Bone Sentinel's Amulet is preferable to Blood Queen's Crimson Choker (though the 264 Choker is purchasable as it is BoE).

A fair bit of this gear is actually obtainable without drops/raids. The full t10 set Lasherweave Garb can be obtained with Frost Badges (tokens from End-wing bosses in ICC will get you Sanctified upgrades). Vestments of Spruce and Fir is available from the Frost Badge vendor. The regular Professor's Bloodied Smock is a BoE and can be purchased (or possibly found in the Sack of Frosty Treasures from the ICC weekly quests), and is also equivalent to the Frost Badge vendor's Circle of Ossus. If you are unable to acquire either of the aforementioned cloaks, Volde's Cloak of the Night Sky is purchasable from the Frost Badge vendor. It has Crit instead of Haste, but is still an excellent cloak.

There are some viable alternatives to use while still gearing up. The Idol of Flaring Growth idol is excellent and easily obtainable with Emblems of Triumph; the Idol of the Black Willow is just slightly better, so can be placed lower on your priority list if you're still saving up Frost Badges for your tier set.

Finding a good offhand can be tough, especially if you are waiting on the one off Sindragosa (who is often a hard boss for most as well). The Shriveled Heart from Halls of Reflection is a good offhand while waiting for drops. If you're able to grab some arena rating and honour, the Wrathful Gladiator's Compendium (which requires an arena rating of 1800) and Relentless Gladiator's Compendium (which doesn't appear to require a rating) are good alternatives with a lot of haste.

The Bracers of the Autumn Willow out of ToGC/ToC 25 are excellent wrists and were previously BiS, though the increase in stats and spellpower on the heroic Bracers of Eternal Dreaming from Dreamwalker just start edging them out. If you have the Heroic Bracers of the Autumn Willow (or even the regular ones and are still low on haste), you may be best off continuing to use them - it would likely depend on your other stats.

The equip proc from Trauma is really amazing, especially for druids, as it will proc off of our HoT spells. On fights like Blood Queen Lanathel I've seen it account for up to 10% of my heals done, which is a ton. The lack of haste on it may end up messing with your stats (I had to do some gear and gem shuffling when I first obtained it to make up the haste), but it is definitely an excellent weapon to have.

If you are lucky enough to be in possession of Valanyr, Hammer of Ancient Kings, it is still better than Trauma, so keep using it (and grats on obtaining it!!).

There are many trinket options out there. Althor's Abacus and Solace of the Defeated/Fallen are generally considered the BiS. Abacus will proc off of our HoTs and it is a smart heal (it will heal targets with less health rather than overhealing someone at full health) which can crit. Solace is still an excellent trinket, espcially for mana return. Purified Lunar Dust from the Frost Badge vendor is an alternative if you are unable to get your hands on a Solace, however, Solace is still a bit better than the Lunar Dust for mana return.

For pure spellpower throughput, Illustration of the Dragon Soul from Obsidian Sanctum 25 is still a good trinket, and is only just pipped for pure spellpower by heroic Althor's Abacus and heroic Glowing Twilight Scale. For pure throughput it may be preferred, if you're not having mana problems or if on a fight like Dreamwalker when you are healing the dragon (where max throughput for healing her is best, and mana regen will not be an issue if going into the portals).

I have mixed thoughts so far on the Glowing Twilight Scale out of Ruby Sanctum 25, at least for Resto Druids. It's similar in concept to Althor's Abacus, but it's a Use trinket (rather than an equip proc) and is triggered by direct heals (not HoTs) as i understand. It's certainly not a bad trinket, it's quite a good one really, but in my opinion it's not necessarily the best for a resto druid. If you have the choice, I would recommend using the Abacus.

Good luck on the gear hunt!
Most importantly, don't forget to head to Dal to /afk and show off your Epeen!