Sunday, 31 October 2010

Beta Raid Testing - Atramedes and Nefarian (Blackwing Descent)

Apologies for the lack of updates this past week! It's been a pretty crazy week both work-wise and otherwise, so I've either not had the time or just been too tired to get a proper post up.

To get back into the swing of things I'll start with an update on some of the Beta Raid Testing I did over the past couple of weeks. Since there were so many encounters, I'm breaking them down, and thought I'd kick off the rest with two fun encounters in Blackwing Descent: Atramedes and Nefarian! I'm a bit of a sucker for dragon encounters, as the dragons are one of the things I love most in WoW, and these two encounters didn't disappoint.


This fight is really quite interesting conceptually. Atramedes is blind, so his abilities centre around trying to hear you - 'I have no need for eyes to see my enemies. Your clumsy footsteps... give you away!'

The key mechanic of this fight is your Sound Bar. This appears as a circle graphic on your screen which has a small blue dot in the centre of it. You want that blue dot to remain as small as possible - the more 'noise' you create, the larger the blue dot gets. If it fills up or exceeds the circle, Atramedes will hear you and kill you.

There are two ways to manage your sound bar (and sound bars are individual, not raid-wide). Avoiding damage from Atramedes' abilities is the primary way to keep your sound bar low - raid awareness is key in this fight. The other way to deal with the sound bars is by using the Shields arranged around the room. If you strike one of the shields, it resets everyone's sound bar and also causes Vertigo to Atramedes - he will be stunned and increase damage done to him by 50%. There are a limited number of Shields, though, and he will destroy a Shield after it's used, so you do not want to waste these. They are best saved to interrupt Searing Flame - and 8 second cast which cause Fire damage every second and increase fire damage taken by 25% per stack.

There are two phases which cycle throughout this fight, a ground phase and an air phase. Ability info thanks to wowwiki.

Ground Phase
Sonic Breath: Cast at the player with the highest sound. Causes damage per second and increases sound by 20 per second. The flames will follow the player faster the higher their sound is.
Searing Flame: Causes 15k fire damage per second and increases fire damage taken by 25% per stack, cast over 8 seconds. Interrupt this with the Shields.
Modulation: Atramedes begins to Modulate, increasing the Sound of all enemies and causing shadow damage. Damage increased by a player's sound bar.
Sonar Pulse: Discs of energy fly around the room, causing arcane damage and increasing sound by 7 if struck.

Air Phase
Roaring Flame Breath: Cast at the player with the highest sound. Deals 15k damage per second and adds 20 sound per second. The flame follows the player faster the higher their sound is and continues to speed up.
Sonar Bomb: Drops Sonar Bombs (visible in the first screenshot) which inflict arcane damage and adds thirty sound.
Sonic Fireball: Deals 30k fire damage to enemies within 6 yards of impact.
Roaring Flames: Scatters flame patches around the room. Cause 15k fire damage and an additional 8k fire damage every second for 4 seconds and increases sound.

The key to this fight is keeping your sound bar low by reducing your damage taken and using the Vertigo stuns at the right time. The achievement Silence is Golden says everything about this fight - keep that sound bar low! Master that and you'll get this fight down.

The fight itself was a lot of fun, I really enjoyed the mechanics and the concept behind the fight. Atramedes' model is quite cool as well as you can see in the screenshots. Healing this fight isn't bad, assuming raid awareness is up. Everyone should be focussing on reducing their damage taken, so if the fight is done right, healing won't be a struggle.


This was quite an interesting and involved fight. There are three phases total, and the beginning of the fight has you fighting a reanimated Onyxia as well as Nefarian.

Once you activate the fight, Nefarian will transform into his dragon form and take off into the air and the magma that filled the pit below him will drain away, revealing an undead Onyxia. To begin the fight, you leap down into the pit and engage Onyxia. A note for druids: Even from the lowest platform, everyone will take some fall damage from the jump - shifting into cat form (regardless of your role) for the jump will eliminate fall damage for you.

Phase 1:
Phase 1 begins when you jump down and engage Onyxia. Normal dragon rules apply on both dragons - they cleave, have a conal breath, and a tail lash which will cause damage and stun. Their conal breath is Shadowflame Breath: Inflicts shadowflame damage in a frontal cone, also resurrects Animated Bone Warriors caught in the breath. They also have an additional ability, Children of Deathwing: Nefarian and Onyxia attack 100% faster when within 60 yards of each other. Abilities sourced from wowwiki.

Electric Discharge: Fires lightning from her sides, dealing Nature damage to those on her sides. Damage increased by her lightning charge. Range should stay at good range and melee should try to move behind her as much as they can without getting Tail Lashed.

Hail of Bones: Nefarian will cast this six times before he lands, dealing shadow damage to nearby enemies and spawning Animated Bone Warriors. The zones are a deep purple and easy to avoid, an offtank should be prepared to pick up the Bone Warriors which spawn.

Animated Bone Warrior:
These adds have an energy bar which decreases over time but resets if they are hit by Shadowflame, and any dead ones will be resurrected by the Shadowflame. They should be kited by an offtank or CCd. Their damage is increased as they attack and the buff will stack infinitely, so it's best to try to kite these and ensure they stay out of Shadowflames so that they will die, otherwise they'll eventually kill the tank. They cannot be allowed to run amok as they will begin wailing on dps and healers in particular (through healing aggro) and will kill them.

You'll begin the fight by DPSing Onyxia. You'll notice a cast bar by her which is slowly filling up which is her electrical charge - she needs to be killed before this bar is filled. Nefarian will land after he finishes his circle casting Hail of Bones. We had the two dragons tanked on opposite ends of the pit facing out with their tails about meeting in the centre of the room. Ultimately we DPS'd Onyxia very low, then turned and dealt some damage to Nefarian to start wearing him down. When Onyxia's electrical charge bar was closing in on full, we quickly switched back to her and finished her off.

It's essential to prepare your raid for phase 2 by splitting the raid into three groups and assigning each group to one of the platforms/columns arranged around the pit. These groups need to have an equal split of tank, dps, and healers. An interrupt should be on each platform. The screenshot below will show you the platforms/columns, one is just to the right in that shot. This shot was an initial pull just to get a glimpse of what was goign on, so don't rely on that positioning!

Phase 2:
Phase 2 begins when Onyxia dies. The second she dies your entire raid should be moving to their assigned platforms/columns and be ready to get on them. When Onyxia dies, Nefarian will take to the air and the pit will begin filling up with Magma. The Magma will deal 5000 fire damage per second and increase your damage taken by an additional 2000 per stack. You will use the magma to swim up onto the columns, but it's essential you do so quickly!

Nefarian will be in the air casting Shadowflame Barrage and Shadow of Cowardice. Shadowflame Barrage will cause constant Shadowflame damage to the raid.

On top of each platform will be a Chromatic Prototype, an add which will stand on the platform and attempt to cast Blast Nova. You'll want to DPS these down and interrupt those casts.

It was unclear whether Phase 3 begins when those adds are dead or after a set amount of time. It appeared to be after a set period of time when we tried it. We had our melee DPS focussed full time on bringing the adds down and had our ranged DPS switching between attacking Nefarian and assisting on the adds. The adds need to be killed before Phase 3 begins.

Phase 3:
For phase 3, the magma will once again drain from the pit and Nefarian will land. You MUST jump off the platforms/columns - if you remain on them you will be killed very quickly by Nefarian (this appears to be when Shadow of Cowardice strikes).

Phase 3 is very similar to Phase 1 in that you have Nefarian's original dragon abilities (his breath, cleave, and tail lash) as well as the Animated Bone Warriors, who will again be resurrected if they are hit by any Shadowflames.

The key difference in Phase 3 is the pink fire on the ground which you can see in the screenshot above. This is started by a Shadowblaze Spark - this starts a Shadowblaze, which expands in a circular shape and appears to follow players and speed up if touched. The fire deals Shadowflame damage, so it will also resurrect the Bone Warriors.

Positioning is a little bit tricky in this fight, as you can find your space is quickly eaten up by the Shadowblaze. We began with holding him in the centre and kiting him to clear areas as needed. The Shadowblaze will despawn, but it will be quickly replaced by a new spark, so your raid has to be very aware of it.

There's a lot going on in this fight and it is a great encounter! There's definitely a mix of raid awareness as well good target switches and knowing when to dps what. The Animated Bone Warriors should NEVER be DPSd - you'll just be wasting time doing that.

Healing this fight is pretty interesting. Positioning of the two dragons in Phase 1 can be tricky - you may either want to assign tank healers who can position themselves closer to either tank or have the tanks position just close enough to both be in range. Your tank picking up the Bone Warriors also needs a good eye kept on him - if the adds are resurrected or have their energy restore long enough to build up some stacks, their tank may begin taking some big hits. The tank handling them needs to be very aware of them spawning - they seem to have a particular love for healers. Preparing for Phase 2 is also crucial so that no one takes any extra unnecessary ticks of Magma damage, as is interrupting the cast by the adds on the platforms. AE damage on the melee in particular in Phase 1 will be strong if they get hit by Onyxia's lightning charges.

Overall a fun fight and two great encounters in Blackwing Descent! There are still a few more as well, the Omnitron Defense System which I've covered already, plus Chimaeron and Maloriak, and there should be at least one other battle against Magmaw which I haven't tested yet.

More updates to come!

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Healing Cho'gall - Numbers and a Positive Outlook for Resto Druids

Hopping onto the beta just now, I realised I still had my healing data from Cho'gall up on Recount. I was going to just add it on to the end of my post on the Bastion of Twilight Beta Raid Testing, but decided it deserved its own post.

Druid healing is doing very well at the moment! We're still excellent on raid heals and our HoTs are very strong and our tank-healing toolset is a lot stronger. Two healing the 10 man gave me a good feeling of it as well, 25 mans have been good to show how all the healers are doing in comparison to each other and working together, but two healing the 10 is a bit more challenging as there's less room to fall back on. It was also good to see the druid and the pally, as pallies are seeming a bit overly strong in the 25s, but we were looking very even in the 10s.

As you can see in the screenshot below, we both pulled about 8.5k HPS and about 37% each of the healing done, so very, very even, and both had similar mana levels and management throughout the fight.

Let's go to a close-up of that recount window now:

Rejuvs and Wild Growths are still very important in both raid healing and also on the tanks - my WGs were typically cast on the melee to hit the tanks as well. Remember our Mastery bonus as well - Symbiosis - your heals will be boosted by the presence of another HoT on the target. So if you have a Lifebloom stack up on your tank, your Rejuv and WG will be hitting him harder as well as your Nourish and HT.

There are a lot of Swiftmends (though Efflorescence isn't showing up as it's being recognised as a 'pet heal') which I was casting mostly on the Tanks and melee to get that AE heal on them. Lifeblooms are high up there as I was always keeping a stack up on either one of the tanks. 

I popped Tranquility at the start of phase 2 to top people back up and heal through that initial shock of AoE damage. You can see some Nourishes on there from tank healing and there are also Healing Touches (not visible on that screenshot unfortunately) from both tank heals and a Nature's Swiftness cast. There are also some Regrowths in there, a mixture of some quick heals on the tanks that were necessary and also some instant Regrowths on raid members when I popped ToL in phase 2. I also used the extra WG HoT and was throwing Lifeblooms on many raid members in phase 2 while in ToL, and had my innervate and mana pot available for that phase so that I could really keep the heals up in that phase.

Now for the additional information:

For those who are curious, this is how the Pally healer's spells were broken down:

I can't do a great analysis on this, unfortunately, as I've been slacking on updating my Pally since the patch (he's currently Prot, and I'm still debating whether I want his OS to be Holy or to try Ret) and focussing more on updating my priest and shaman healers. What you can see though is Paladin healers are also using a lot more of their skillset, and their new AE heal Holy Radiance does a lot.

What is particularly interesting, though, is the breakdown of heals on our two tanks, and also what this information (combined with the quantity of heals from Holy Radiance) means for these two classes and their roles and flexibilities within raids.

This is the breakdown of healing taken by our Paladin tank:

Healing taken by our Warrior tank:

The big key in those two sets of data is how even the druid and paladin heals on the tanks are. In the Wrath model you likely would have seen the Paladin's heals dominating the tanks and the Druid dominating the raid, with some cross-covering but still a clear difference in designation. What you're seeing in Cataclysm raids with this example is a much better balance and varied toolset for two classes which were generally pigeon-holed in Wrath into either 'the tank healer' or 'the raid healer'. The Paladin now has some strong AE heals and us Druids have been given a stronger tank-healing toolset.

This is a very positive direction in my opinion. From just a basic gaming and enjoyment standpoint, I think it makes healing as specific classes a lot more fun. You won't necessarily be stuck doing the same thing every raid because your skillset is flexible enough now that you can focus on one role or the other (raid or tank healing) or, even better yet, cover both within the same raid. I think this may also encourage more cooperative and engaged healing. Often in Wrath I ran into healers who would only heal the raid or only heal the tanks, and completely ignore the rest of the group because it wasn't who they were supposed to heal. It's nice to see here just how even the healing was and we were both equally doing our part and working together to keep the entire raid up. 

There will certainly be times when roles and assignments play a part, particularly in 25 mans, and some additional direction and strategic assignments can be helpful, but it's largely nice to see here just how flexible this looks so we're not completely restricted to one role. 

This is a nice reflection on druids as well, as you can see both our AoE and our tank heals are doing well and certainly going in the right direction. There is a change in style across all of healing in Cataclysm, both for druids and for healing in general. I think it's a really positive change encouraging us to make intelligent decisions while healing, and it's been a lot of fun so far in Beta. There's a lot to look forward to!

As for the spells used - you can see the breakdown of which spells I used on our two tanks. (Note; Efflorescence is registering as a pet and so is not listed as part of my heals there - it is actually listed as an entity healing the tanks in the top part of the window).

As you can see Lifebloom is the number 1 and 2 heals on the two tanks - it did more on our warrior simply as I was usually keeping the full stack up on him and swapping it to our pally as needed. Rejuvenation is up there as well and was pretty consistently up on the tanks for both the HoT heal it provided and for the ability to Swiftmend, which you can see is also high up on both tanks healing taken. There are also Nourishes in there and a few Healing Touches for those bigger cast heals on the tanks. A big thing in these two sets of data is the variety of heals used - I'm using all of my spells both in this entire raid and on the tanks. They're getting HoTs, Swiftmends, my Wild Growth is hitting them, they're getting Living Seed procs, on and on. There was definitely a lot more thinking about 'which spell should I use here', 'can I afford the mana cost for that spell?', 'can I afford to use this cooldown now, or should I save it?'

All in all, a pretty interesting look at just what was going on healing that fight. It was a very fun fight to do, particularly while healing it, and I think this is a good example of the positive direction Resto druids and healing in general is headed. 

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Beta Raid Testing - Bastion of Twilight

There was a lot of Raid Testing on Beta last week, so I have lots of updates for you all! I'm splitting up the zones into separate posts as there were a lot of bosses.

We'll kick it off with the rest of the Bastion of Twilight!

I covered the first boss of BoT in my last Beta Raid post here. After you defeat him, you have some pretty straightforward trash on the way to the second boss. You'll have some fun with the fire elementals that charge up the set of stairs on the walk to the second boss - they explode on impact and, although they don't do a huge amount of damage, they will knock you back. If you are angled to the side, you may go flying off the staircase and fall to your death. We had several people get knocked off and had a good laugh.

The second boss are the two dragons, Valiona and Theralion.

Valiona and Theralion

This was an interesting fight, and not too difficult once you figured out the abilities. You only need one tank as only one dragon will engage at a time, the other will be in the air. The dragons have the following abilities (source):

-Blackout - Dispellable debuff - when dispelled or expired causes 250,000 shadow damage spread amongst all nearby players.
-Devouring Flames - Targets a random player and casts flames that deal 70,000 damage per second.
-Twilight Meteorite - Debuff - after 5 seconds deals 110,000 shadow damage spread amongst all nearby players.
-Deep Breath - Instant death on hit, 10,000 damage per second caused by the remaining flames on the ground.

-Engulfing Magic - Causes a random player to explode for 10% of their spell damage or healing done for 20 seconds, hitting nearby players.
-Fabulous Flames - Flames on the ground which deal 7,000 damage per second.
-Dazzling Destruction - Swirling zones on the ground which deal 400,000 shadow damage to players in the blast zone after 5 seconds.
-Twilight Blast - 17,000 shadow damage to a player spread amongst nearby players.

We started by pulling Valiona so she was grounded first and Theralion flew into the air as we pulled. We spread out within close range of Valiona to deal with her two attacks. Remaining in close range made it easier to move out of the way when she cast Devouring Flames. It also made it easier to deal with her second ability, Blackout - this debuff's damage is dealt to the targeted player BUT it is spread amongst any nearby players. You want to stack your raid on top of the targeted player before dispelling, as this will mitigate the damage immensely. If the person is on their own when they are dispelled, they will die.

While fighting Valiona on the ground, we also had to watch for Theralion's Flying abilities. Dazzling Destruction is quite obvious - just move out of the swirling zones on the floor and you won't take damage. Twilight Blast is similar to Valiona's debuff, the targeted raid member can just stay with the group and the damage should be split amongst them.

The dragons will switch and Theralion will land and Valiona will take to the air. You now will see Theralion's grounded abilities and Valiona's flying abilities. Engulfing Magic is the one debuff you must run out of the raid - it causes you to explode and will cause damage to those around you (similar in concept to the arcane explosions caused by Unchained Magic in Sindragosa HM, except you'll be constantly exploding while you have it). He also deals Fabulous Flames, which is a simple 'stay out of fire' mechanic. Valiona has two abilities of import when she's flying - her Twilight Meteorite is similar to her Blackout, simply stack up before dispelling the debuff again. The second ability she has is Deep Breath - this is similar in concept both to Felmyst and to Onyxia's Deep Breath. If you get caught in it - you will die. She'll line up to a third of the room before sweeping across with the cast.

After each round of abilities the dragons will continue to switch until they're killed.

Overall, a pretty fun fight. Some slightly different mechanics mainly in the debuffs, as many are used to running debuffs and dispels out of the raid, and most in this fight require you to be stacked up. Tank damage is not too bad and much of the raid damage is avoidable. Hits that you will have to deal with to the raid will be from dispelling the debuffs, but if the raid is fully stacked, the damage to everyone will be much less than if the debuff targets are more isolated. 

We now head to the third boss in Bastion of Twilight!

Ascendant Council

The trash in this room just before the bosses were... interesting. There were lots of elementals, Earth, Wind, Water/Frost and Fire (how many times will people be yelling 'Heart! By your powers combined... I am CAPTAIN PLANET!!' on this boss :D ). The earth and wind elementals did not feel too difficult to deal with, but the fire and frost adds hit a lot harder. We found that pulling a fire and frost together helped immensely - the fire add had a fire shield up which dealt damage to attackers, and it seemed like the frost add destroyed that shield. The frost had does an AoE frostbolt attack which hits very hard and should be interrupted if possible, as it's a lot of damage to the entire raid.

This boss was a very interesting fight with some creative use of buffs and debuffs. It's a bit difficult to see in that screenshot, but there are four members of the council around the room, two straight ahead by the columns and two more up on platforms. You will only fight two at a time in the first two phases. I can't remember the names of each one and unfortunately wowwiki doesn't seem to be updated for this fight yet, so I can't fall back on that to double check. They each represent a different element, though, and their names are fairly obvious - Fire, Frost, Wind, Earth. The Fire boss was called Ignaceous I think, the Earth boss had 'Terra' in its name and the Wind boss had 'Ara' in its name. I'll just refer to them by the elements for now.

The two bosses on the ground will be the Fire and Frost bosses. I'm not sure if this might change each time you zone in (so that you might fight Earth and Wind first), but the pairings will remain the same.

You will only need two tanks. The phases seem to be pushed by health percentages - we chose to dps just one boss in each pairing which got us to the next phase. 

Phase 1 - Fire and Frost:
There are several abilities these two do. The fire boss will lay streaks of fire on the ground and the frost boss will toss out a debuff on players called water globules - if you have this debuff, you want to walk through the fire to remove it. You don't need to stand in the fire for long (so don't), just long enough to remove it. This will spare you from getting hit with the Frost boss's next ability, Flash Freeze - if that water globule debuff is still on you when he casts this, you will be Flash Frozen in an iceblock. These two also have two AoE abilities - the Fire boss will jump to a random player, do a fire nova AoE and knock the players in the area back. This isn't too big of a deal, BUT, if you are near the Frost boss or just angled in his direction, you might get knocked into the Frost boss and get caught in his AoE, which happens at about the same time. This will kill you.

Phase 2 - Earth and Wind:
These two have big AoE abilities which you must use the debuffs around the room to mitigate them. There will be tornadoes zipping around the room and swirling spots on the floor - these two things will give and remove a debuff that helps you survive their abilities. The Earth boss will cast Quake and after that the Wind boss will cast Thundershock. There will be on-screen emotes for both abilities. As soon as the two bosses come down, you'll want to run into a Tornado. The Tornado will knock you back a bit and do a little bit of damage, but it will place a swirling winds debuff on you which is crucial. This debuff will cause you to hover a bit above the ground and will mitigate the damage from Quake and allow you to survive it. 

After Quake, you will want to move to one of the swirling zones on the ground. These swirls will suck you in and 'ground' you, removing the winds debuff. You MUST do this before Thundershock is cast, as  getting grounded will mitigate the Thundershock damage. 

There are a couple of other abilities to be aware of. There is a big cast which must be interrupted - I believe it was by the Wind boss (someone please correct me if I'm wrong). There is also a Chain Lightning ability. Players targeted by this ability will have a yellow arrow above their head. These players MUST run out and away from the rest of the raid. If these players are clustered amongst the raid, people will take massive amounts of damage. If they run out and are alone, the damage will be significantly less.

We again burned down one of the bosses.

Final Phase - Elementium Monstrosity:
In the transition to the final phase, the entire raid will be stunned and the four bosses will merge into one, forming the Elementium Monstrosity. This final phase wasn't too difficult. The boss will drop pools on the ground (though these may be bugged or undertuned, as they weren't causing much damage for us). We kited him around the outer edge of the room. We kited him fairly slowly as the pools weren't growing too quickly and weren't too damaging. 

It's a very fun fight! Overall damage isn't too bad, especially if the raid is paying attention to their buffs/debuffs and using the mechanics in the fight. It is a really interesting concept and fun to do. The big killer seemed to be chain lightning on our first couple of attempts, raid members targeted really need to ensure they move away. I enjoyed this fight a lot! It wasn't too tough to heal, though again raid awareness was key in keeping overall damage down. 

The kill screenshot unfortunately isn't too fantastic for this boss, as all that remains is this belt.

Now it's time for the last boss! 


The raid testing on Cho'gall was announced pretty last minute, and a ton of the guild had gone off to see Blizzcon as we were pretty much done for the week, so we ended up only having enough people to do this fight on 10 man. It was still a good fight, though, interesting and a lot of fun and still fairly challenging on 10 man. There's a lot of concern at the moment about the 10 man vs 25 man tuning, and Blizz as well has said that ensuring the fights are equally challenging on both 10 and 25 will be one of the more difficult things to get right. They mentioned in the Blizzcon Dungeons and Raids Q&A that this is a very high priority for them. I really quite enjoy 10 mans so I'd definitely like them to be as challenging as the 25 man versions. 

The nice thing about doing this fight on 10 man is I can be a lot more detailed about our group makeup and things as I can remember it a lot more easily, and I can also give a nice idea of how healing feels in a 10 man.

Our group makeup was as follows: 2 tanks (Warrior and Paladin), 2 healers (Druid (myself) and Paladin), 6 DPS (DK, ShadowPriest, Mage, Lock, Warrior, Paladin). 

Wowwiki does have a page on Cho'gall's Abilities which is great, as now I can be a lot more specific/accurate about his abilities.

A note at the start - you will see a graphic of a Blood Bar on your screen (though on our final attempt this seemed to bug, as none of us saw it). A lot of abilities will cause Corrupted Blood, which seem to fill up this bar, though none of us ever got very high. It looks like if you fill up your bar and reach Absolute Corruption, which will turn you into a Faceless One. Apparently this debuff will cause you to receive 100% less healing (so no healing) but inflict 100% additional damage - we didn't really see this happen so I'm not certain whether this will mind control you (and turn you against the raid) or simply increase your damage on the boss but allow you to die much more quickly. You can avoid getting corruption by avoiding damage.

Raid awareness is crucial in this fight. Interrupts and avoiding AoE damage is essential. Healer mana is crucial - the final phase has a lot of damage and healers will need to conserve mana for that final phase, and raid members avoiding taking excess damage will help immensely.

There are two phases to this fight.

Phase 1 - 100% to 25%:
This phase will primarily be alternating between DPSing the boss and the adds he summons. There are also several abilities that will need to be avoided or interrupted.

Conversion - Cho'gall will MC a player, causing them to channel Worship onto him, which causes him to gain Twisted Devotion (increasing Cho'gall's damage done by 10% for 20 seconds). This channel is interruptable, and interrupting the target will break the MC. This should be done as quickly as possible to avoid the damage buff on Cho'gall and to free the player. Dispels may be needed on the player to free them from lingering stun effects (ie HoJ).

Flame's Orders and Shadow's Orders - Cho'gall orders either Flame or Shadows to come to his aid. Flames will add fire damage to his melee swings and create fire patches on the floor, Shadows will add an AoE shadow damage to the raid and create shadow patches on the floor.

Fury of Cho'gall - This will blast the target causing damage and increasing Physical and Shadow damage by 20% each. Cast on the primary aggro target and stacks - tanks will need to taunt off each other as this stacks up. The timing on the taunts worked well for us, as generally a taunt time came as an add was spawning, freeing up a tank to pick up the add.

Summon Corrupting Adherent - These are Faceless Ones-type adds that will be summoned. On ten man he only summons one at a time. DPS should switch and kill the add immediately. We pulled the add to the back of the room, because when they die they leave a black pool called Spilled Blood of the Old God, which will cause shadow damage to anyone caught in it. They don't seem to go away so you don't want your room littered with these. The adds have an interruptable cast called Depravity - INTERRUPT THIS. It causes a large amount of shadow damage to everyone in the raid and causes Corruption. They also have a frontal cone of Sprayed Corruption, so melee should remain behind the add. They also have a shadow-crash ability called Corrupting Crash; there is an obvious swirl effect on the area of the ground it's targeted at, so move out of that spot. The add needs to be killed quickly before he can cast Festering blood.

There is also a second type of add which are lots of non-elite blobs - there seems to be two Corrupting Adherents summoned, then finally these blobs. It's best if the offtank or a DPS tries to pick up aggro on them. They don't do a huge amount of damage and they can be AoE'd/DPSd down quite quickly, but they can quickly aggro onto healers and cause a nuisance.

Keep an eye on his health - you want to be prepared for the transition to phase 2 and ensure all adds are dead before you push the phase. Damage increases significantly in phase 2 and there are more adds to deal with in the phase, so you don't want to be surprised by the transition.

Phase 2 - 25%-0%:
The tank debuff Fury of Cho'gall will still be placed on the tanks, so the tanks will still need to taunt off each other in this phase.

Healing becomes a lot more intense in this phase, so the entire raid really needs to ensure they mitigate their damage in the first phase so healers have enough mana and their cooldowns ready for this phase. Having people topped off or very close is pretty key going into this phase. Raid members should be prepared to use healthstones if they need to in this phase.

Cho'gall gains Corruption of the Old God in this phase, inflicting shadow damage every 2 seconds to everyone in the room.

You'll want to spread out just enough in this phase (healers could probably just turn to face away from the raid) due to Dark Sickness - this debuff causes you to feel sick, making you vomit and inflict shadow damage to those 5 yards in front of you.

This is not strictly a burn phase - you will be burning the boss, but he will summon adds which MUST be killed.

The adds he summons are Darkened Creations, they look like eyestalks in Naxx. They are non-elites so they can be killed fairly quickly, BUT, most crucially, they are channeling a spell called Debilitating Beam, which reduces healing and damage done by 75% and inflicts shadow damage. These adds MUST be killed and killed as soon as possible, and should be stunned or interrupted if possible. If they don't die, you will, because damage and healing will not be able to keep up. The AoE shadow damage plus these beams will be causing huge damage.

Deal with those adds and finish off the boss and you're done!

Two healing this on 10 man was definitely doable and quite fun as well. It was challenging but not too difficult, and good raid awareness to mitigate raid damage at the start is crucial as is watching your mana and timing your cooldowns. As a druid, I was timing my cooldowns and my innervate very carefully. I was being careful with my heals and ensuring I didn't waste mana by mis-targeting heals (ie a poorly placed Efflorescence or Wild Growth). I used my innervate a bit earlier than I normally would, at approximately 50-60% mana or so, to just top myself back up as much as I could and to ensure that Innervate would be available again in the final phase. I saved my Tree of Life and Tranquility cooldowns for the final phase.

The pally and I were pretty dead even with heals; on HPS, healing done, and mana levels and conservation. This was particularly nice to see as not only was our healing even, it was interesting to see that in comparison to our 25 mans, where our priest, shaman and druids were all pulling pretty equal HPS, but our pallies were disproportionately high (Holy Radiance was doing a ton in 25s). 

Druid heals overall; we're feeling strong both on tank healing and on raid. Our HoTs are still excellent for raid healing. Our tank healing tools are strong as well, and the change to Empowered Touch is excellent - now both Healing Touch and Nourish will refresh our Lifebloom stacks. I'd be quite intrigued  for Empowered Touch to also add stacks of Lifebloom - say you put up one stack of Lifebloom on your tank, then begin healing with Nourish or Healing Touch - those two spells would then add the second and third stacks of Lifebloom, then continue to refresh as normal. They likely won't implement that but I mentioned it in my beta feedback on this fight so maybe they'll take a peek at the idea. :) I feel like Nourish and Healing Touch could hit just a bit harder to improve our tank heals a little more as well, but we'll see. I'm not sure where their healer tuning is at the moment.


Overall, some very interesting fights! Bastion of Twilight is going to be a lot of fun. There are a lot of interesting mechanics and raid awareness and things like interrupts and CC will be very important throughout the instance.

Druid healing is doing very well at the moment! We're still excellent on raid heals and our HoTs are very strong. Two healing the 10 man gave me a good feeling of it as well, 25 mans have been good to show how all the healers are doing in comparison to each other and working together, but two healing the 10 is a bit more challenging as there's less room to fall back on. It was also good to see the druid and the pally, as pallies are seeming a bit overly strong in the 25s - you can see in the screenshot below, we both pulled around 8.5k HPS and about 37% each of the healing done, so very very even, and neither of us were having to compensate for the other.

You can see on the recount window there, Rejuvs and Wild Growths are still very important in both raid healing and also on the tanks - my WGs were typically cast on the melee to hit the tanks as well. There are a lot of Swiftmends (though Efflorescence isn't showing up as it's being recognised as a 'pet heal') which I was casting mostly on the Tanks and melee to get that AE heal on them. Lifeblooms are high up there as I was always keeping a stack up on either one of the tanks. I popped Tranquility at the start of phase 2 to top people back up and heal through that initial shock of AoE damage. You can see some Nourishes on there from tank healing and there are also Healing Touches (not visible on that screenshot unfortunately) from both tank heals and a Nature's Swiftness cast. There are also some Regrowths in there, a mixture of some quick heals on the tanks that were necessary and also some instant Regrowths on raid members when I popped ToL in phase 2. I also used the extra WG HoT and was throwing Lifeblooms on many raid members in phase 2 while in ToL, and had my innervate and mana pot available for that phase so that I could really keep the heals up in that phase.

That's quite an extensive work up! I'll get more posts up soon on the additional bosses we tested in Blackwing Descent as well as the first boss in the Throne of the Four Winds and Tol Barad.

Friday, 22 October 2010


I have taken the plunge and made a twitter feed for the blog! We'll see how it goes - I've not tried it before (yes, yes, I'm late to the game on this one) but it certainly seems simple enough to use. It seems like it will be a good way to keep up some minor posts and updates in between my normal posts, particularly between my longer ones which take more time to write and set up. You can find my twitter page here @feraltree. I should be able to add it to my sidebar as well in the links, so I'll go see about setting that up now.

In other news! There was a lot more beta raid testing this week, so I have a lot of updates to come. We cleared all of the Bastion of Twilight and a couple more bosses in Blackwing Descent, as well as checking out the boss in Tol Barad. Some pretty fun stuff! I took screenshots as well so you can get a glimpse of what the bosses look like. Because it was a lot of bosses in just a few days, I'll probably split up the posts, likely one on the rest of Bastion of Twilight and then a separate one on Blackwing Descent. I'm also working on getting my kitty guide updated (sorry fellow cats!!), fallen a bit behind due to the beta testing, but that will be updated soon.

Blizzcon is this weekend as well! I'll try to post with any particularly exciting news or information (though there may be a lot, so no promises on catching all of them haha) - perhaps a nice start for the twitter feed to put some mini-post reactions there!

All for now! Beta raid posts and kitty updates to come!

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Druid Healing at Level 80 in 4.0.1 - Full Guide Complete!

I've completed the Restoration Druid Healing Guide for level 80 in 4.0.1, which you can find here: Full Guide: How to be a Tree! Resto Guide for 4.0.1 and Beyond!

The guide will again be updated when Cata hits to reflect changes for level 85, a full 85 spec, new gems and enchants, etc!

The old 3.3.5 Guide was removed, as was the placeholder in progress guide for 4.0.1, so be sure to update any bookmarks or links you may have.

The new Kitty DPS guide will be up soon!

Monday, 18 October 2010

Beta Raid Testing - Bastion of Twilight and Blackwing Descent

The first round of beta raid testing started yesterday afternoon, so I thought I'd share some impressions of the two fights we tested, healing at 85, and some screenshots. I'll try to update this along with more official information on the encounters/abilities, and I think several people were frapsing the attempts so I'll try to get links to our videos up as well if possible. Our tests were on the 25 man versions of the raid.

Halfus Wyrmbreaker - Bastion of Twilight

Due to a plethora of horde loitering around the Blackwing Descent stone, we went over to the Bastion of Twilight first to test out Halfus Wyrmbreaker.

Firstly - when zoning in, there is a lot of trash. Many cries of 'oh no, it's Tempest Keep all over again...'. You WILL be using CC and you likely will spend a little bit of time negotiating this first hall of trash (though it's subject to change come release, of course). I think we had two saps and two sheeps up on every pull. We went through it pretty quickly to get to the boss so I don't have detailed descriptions of all the trash adds in there. Some do hit fairly hard though. There are also mobs of blood elves on either side of the first hall standing around light balls of energy - the blood elves don't hit very hard so these packs you can manage to just pull at once and AOE down. You will need to kill them, though, as the orbs they surround will channel a harmful beam onto you if you don't kill them.

The boss!

When you go into his room, you will see him standing at the edge by a proto-drake. There's a Slate dragon injured laying to one side, a Storm dragon chained and a Time Warden (Bronze dragon) chained. For basic abilities - the proto-drake fires large Fireballs at raid members, they are pretty easy to see coming towards you. The boss doesn't hit too hard, though he does do a cast which, if not interrupted (and it did seem to be interruptable), will do some AOE damage to everyone and knock everyone back.

You can speak to the chained drakes - however, at least as we did the fight, speaking to them released them, only to have them immediately mind controlled by the boss. The Storm dragon was really quite bad to free - he does some decent sized hits, but also creates an aura which interrupts casting. Consequently, all our healers kept getting interrupted. This does seem to interrupt the boss as well and helps mitigate his AOE cast, but it was very difficult on the healers. The Time Warden drake was a bit better - the debuff he put out froze us all in place, so we were unable to move (and so unable to be knocked back by the AOE from the boss, which was helpful).

What we ended up doing was engaging the boss, then the second tank and melee heading over to the Time Warden. We freed him, were locked in place, then nuked down the Time Warden. Once he was dead we returned to the boss.

When the boss got to ~15-20% or so health, he began whirlwinding around the room (BOOOONNEESTTOORRMM). He is tauntable, and didn't appear to go taunt immune, so our tanks were able to help martial him into place. As is probably obvious, don't stand in the whirlwind.

Healing impressions: The damage was a bit mixed on this fight. Tanks will be taking damage and the raid will be taking damage from both the fireballs and from the AOE the boss does. That AOE cast does appear interruptable, so everyone who can interrupt it should be trying to do so. Mana and mana management is definitely going to be big in Cata - all of our healers were running low. I was having to think a lot more about which heals I could use, trying to use Regrowth or another expensive spell on Omen of Clarity procs, and being careful not to waste heals with overheals. With healthpools at such a large size, it doesn't seem tanks will be dying within a GCD (not yet, at least), but you definitely will still be healing and they will die. You may also have to let your raid know what they can stand in - as you can see in the screenshot below, Efflorescence makes a nice green zone. Shamans have an AOE heal that makes a blue circle, and priests have one which makes a white circle.

Omnitron Defense System - Blackwing Descent

Second up was the Omnitron Defense System over at Blackwing Descent. This was a pretty interesting fight, and also seemed a bit easier than Halfus Wyrmbreaker.

There are four golems in this, but only two will be active at any one time. They all share the same health pool. They do not seem to do any cleaves, but there is some directional damage to be aware of which I'll get to. Only one golem will be active when you approach. The golem has 100 energy stored up - when it gets to 50, another golem will charge up and join the fight. Once the first golem gets to 0 energy, the next golem will charge up and join the fight, and they will rotate until their shared healthpool is gone. There is an obvious stream from the forge in the back of the room channeling to a specific golem, so it is easy to see which golem will be activated next.

Bosses: (abilities sourced from
Incineration Security Measure: Jets of flame fire out all over the room. Don't stand in the fire, and the tank shouldn't move or rotate the boss.
Acquiring Target: Targets a raid member and, after a few seconds, shoots a jet of flame straight at them. Rest of the raid should move out of the way, and the target needs to be healed.
Barrier: Absorbs 300k damage and explodes to deal 75k damage to everyone. Do NOT attack the barrier.

Lightning Conductor: Puts a debuff on a target that hits nearby raid members. Healer or DPS should move away from the group if targeted, if it's on the tank, tank should remain still and DPS move away from the tank.
Chain Lightning: Deals chain lightning - the raid should remain spread out.
Unstable Shield: When struck, the boss lets out a very high AOE damage. Do NOT hit the boss when the shield is up.

Poison Cloud: Causes anyone standing in it to gain a debuff that increases all damage taken by 50%, including the boss.
Poison Protocol: Summons 3 slow moving slimes that crawl towards a chosen target. Ranged DPS should kill the slimes. If the slimes reach their target, they explode for ~100k and leave a pool of poison. Don't stand in poison and don't get hit by a slime - kite it if it targets you.
Poison Soaked Shell: The boss puts a stacking dot on the attacker when struck. The dot does give a burst of nature damage for the attacker (10k per stack), however, it will deal damage to you as well, so don't stack it too high.

Whirlpool: Gives anyone standing in it a boost to damage and mana regen - stand in the whirlpool but ensure the boss is not in it.
Arcane Annihilator: Short, interruptable cast, does a lot of damage to one target. Buffed by Power Conversion.
Power Conversion: The boss generates a stacking damage buff whenever he is struck. Do NOT hit him with this up. The damage buff is apparently spellstealable.

The biggest consistent thing for each of the golems is they put up some form of a barrier or shield which, for the most part, will result in massive damage to the raid if they are struck with it up. Quick target switches will be key in this fight.

Healing Impressions: Healing wasn't too bad in this fight, and a lot of the raid damage can be avoidable. The most precarious moments were when someone DPSd one of the golems with a barrier up, which resulted in the entire raid taking a massive drop in health. So long as people move out of fire, fire beams, poison, etc, and are quick on their target switches, healing will not be too bad. I can easily see people wiping a raid though by missing a target swap when one of those shields is up. Again, mana management will still be important, and your raid will need to help healers out by, well, not standing in bad stuff. This was a pretty fun fight though.

The instances themselves look pretty cool, certainly the zones and architecture/graphics inside look pretty amazing. The first hall in Bastion of Twilight will be... uncomfortable... for some, mainly due to the intensity of the trash in that first wing, especially as the first few pulls are in a fairly tight corridor. There's always the potential that may change between now and Cata, of course. There wasn't too much trash that we saw approaching the Omnitron Defense System in Blackwing Descent, though, just a couple of golems. They did have a targeted ability which did some heavy aoe damage, but it's pretty obvious (another 'don't stand in bad stuff' ability).

The DPS also got to have some fun with essentially a giant DPS dummy, they spawned a Patchwerk for us:

Overall Healing Impressions:
Mana management will definitely be important, especially in the first tiers of raiding.

For these tests, I used the following spec:

I used this spec to try to maximise what I could healing-wise in the Resto tree as well as maxing out Genesis in Balance. Blessing of the Grove still feels a bit weak, especially at only one point (2% boost to Rejuv instead of 4% at 2/2), so I put my spare point into Furor instead to just increase my mana pool that little bit more. Nature's Grace has been improved fortunately for Restoration druids, the haste boost now procs off of Regrowth as well as off of Moonfire and Insect Swarm. The wowtal calculator isn't updated to reflect that change yet. The most recent beta patch also made a great change to Empowered Touch which causes both Nourish and Healing Touch to refresh Lifebloom stacks. Unfortunately, this talent is currently bugged on the beta and neither spell is refreshing the stacks, but hopefully that will be fixed soon.

Druids are still excellent at raid healing and our HoTs are still excellent. The Rejuv durations are shorter but you will definitely be using them. Mostly instead of pre-HoTing everything, you'll be healing a lot more reactively, as overheals will end up wasting a ton of mana. Regrowth is a bit of a tricky spell at the moment - it's a very quick heal which is great, but it costs a lot of mana. Nourish and Healing Touch cast times both feel a bit long, but I think this only felt a bit worse because of the current bug to Empowered Touch, as I was having to constantly refresh my Lifebloom stack on the tank in between my other heals since the talented refresh isn't work.

The longer cooldown on Wild Growth really isn't a problem - it's still an excellent AOE heal and you will be using it (and it too can crit, which is great). Because of the longer cooldown, though, you will want to be very careful with how you target it - if you throw your WG onto a bad target so it ends up hitting just one or two people, that really ends up being a huge waste of both time and mana. Similarly, you will want to be using your swiftmends as an emergency heal, but be very aware of where it's landing to try to make best use of that Efflorescence proc. On beta, at least, the graphic is showing up (there seems to be a projected textures bug on live at the moment where abilities like Efflorescence, Consecrate, etc aren't showing up in some places), so once your raid realises that it's a green zone they CAN stand in safely, they'll move into it. You will want to target it most of the time though to maximise its effectiveness.

Tree of Life form too is a good cooldown to use. Being able to throw Lifeblooms on multiple targets will be very helpful (particularly on tanks on fights which have more than one taking damage), the additional Wild Growth will really need to be targeted well, and the instant regrowths are very useful for quick top-ups (just be careful you don't spam yourself OoM). I must say as well - Tree-Wrathing is pretty awesome and fun. Tree-dps (or TreePS as I like to call it) has gone up a fair bit, now that we have access to crittable Insect Swarm as well as Moonfire, plus very quick and harder-hitting Wraths. You likely won't be able to do this in raids until you overpower the fight (or just if the mechanics call for it) but it's a lot of fun particularly in randoms and things. I'm still undecided about the new tree form as well, I just might go for the new glyph to keep my little treant form.

That's all for now, I'll try to update with better/official information on Halfus Wyrmbreaker, and if our run's videos are posted I'll include a link to that as well. Tankspot does seem to have a couple of 10-man videos of the encounters posted so that can give you a glimpse as well.

I'll leave you with this lovely screenshot over Searing Gorge.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Druid Healing and Kitty DPS 4.0.1, updates! and new tree form models!

UPDATE: I've completed the Restoration Druid Healing Guide for level 80 in 4.0.1, which you can find here: Full Guide: How to be a Tree! Resto Guide for 4.0.1 and Beyond!
The guide will again be updated when Cata hits to reflect changes for level 85, a full 85 spec, new gems and enchants, etc!
The old 3.3.5 Guide was removed, as was the placeholder in progress guide for 4.0.1, so be sure to update any bookmarks or links you may have.

The dust is starting to settle following the Patch. Lots of little (and big) bugs and issues which will hopefully be either hotfixed or, in the very least, will be addressed in upcoming patches.

The WoW Forums are often helpful both for reporting bugs and finding out more information about anything you may be experiencing. The Bug forum can be seen here (along with this helpful post on How to Write a Good Bug Report). Technical Support and Mac Tech Support are also very helpful (and there are some known crash issues with Macs with this patch). If you have a crash, ALWAYS send your error logs in to Blizz (a form should pop up automatically to do so), and you can also post your crashlogs on the forums as well (that's also much more helpful than just posting 'I crashed!!111').

Kitties should be feeling a lot better today! We had a blue post acknowledging the pretty major class imbalances at level 80, and we got a hotfix (along with other melee classes) boosting our damage!

Originally Posted by Ghostcrawler (Source)
We made many changes yesterday. A lot of these were bug fixes, and many bug fixes will affect damage one way or the other. So just because you don't see a specific change referenced below, doesn't mean it didn't change.

With that said, here are the specific changes we made in reference to my previous post:

1) We buffed the base points and coefficients of many  
warrior dps abilities. We didn't do as much to tanking abilities.

We buffed the base points and coefficients of many  
Ret abilities.

We buffed the base points and coefficients of many  
Feral cat abilities.

Kitty DPS should be looking a lot better than it was a couple of days ago. A quick test on the dummy saw mine had jumped pretty substantially and was looking a lot more comparable to what it was before the patch, so good news there.

I wanted to do a couple of quick updates on Healing and Kitty DPS. I've been a bit slow in getting my fully updating my guides namely for things like the above - things are buggy and subject to change, and my own playing with specs and discussions with others will lead to some alterations in my suggestions in the guide. I will be getting the full guides up, ideally over the weekend, but wanted to clue everyone in to the delay!

Healing updates:

Reforging is your best friend! Given how high mana regen is for many at level 80, especially with ICC gear and the now very large mana pools, you will find that Reforging the Spirit on your gear will be incredibly helpful. The two stats you will likely want to Reforge your spirit to is Haste and Crit.

Haste: To get an extra tick on our Rejuvs (see this post on Type H for Heals for some good background on this), we need to hit a haste cap of 1015 haste now. Reforging will help you get there without forcing you to regem.

Crit: On pieces which already have Haste on, you can Reforge Spirit into Crit. As all of our HoTs can now Crit, it's great to pick up some extra Crit to help pack some more punch into our HoTs (especially now that they have reduced durations).

Gear: You may find yourself wanting to pick up some new pieces of gear as well (or swap out with ones in your bank). Thinking along the same lines as the reforging of Spirit above, gear that has Int/Haste/Crit on it (as opposed to Int/Spirit and Haste or Crit) may be a lot more valuable in boosting both your Haste and your Crit. An easy one to pick up (especially if you have a Boomkin offspec) is swapping out the Idol of the Black Willow with the Idol of the Lunar Eclipse. On similar lines, Blood Queen's Crimson Choker over Bone Sentinel's Amulet, etc.

Ultimately, swapping out pieces of gear like that and Reforging Spirit will depend some on just what you're doing in game, i.e. your gear levels, if you're doing 25 man raids or only 5 mans, etc. While the Reforging can be a bit expensive (my pieces seem to have usually run about 10g a pop to Reforge), you can return them to their original stats at no charge. Play around with your gear and stats and see what works for you, and keep an eye on your mana (and on your healing style - if all you're doing is spamming Regrowth nonstop (now a mana-expensive spell), you will likely drive yourself OoM quickly regardless of gear or mana pool).

If you are finding you are still having some mana issues, I recommend keeping the gear changes and changing your spec to maximize your mana pool. Heart of the Wild should definitely be picked up in any spec, as it is a straight boost to your Intellect, which will increase your spellpower as well as your mana pool. Revitalize is another excellent talent providing both more mana regen for us but also grants Replenishment for the party or raid.

The optional talent you can pick up is Furor in the Feral tree to help with your mana pool. Furor will give you 5%/10%/15% increase to your maximum mana. A note on Furor: This talent will increase your mana pool but NOT your Intellect - this means it will NOT increase your spellpower. It can provide a pretty massive increase to your Mana pool, though, which can be very helpful. Even just one point in here can be useful, and there is room to move 1-3 points out of the Resto tree into Furor.

With all that in mind: This is the following spec I'm currently testing out. I'll discuss after which points can be potentially moved around in both the Resto tree and into Furor.

The two in the Balance tree are in Nature's Majesty for the straight Crit increase. Again, with Crit affecting all of our HoTs now, these are a valuable two points to pick up.

This spec does not pick up Furor (I wanted to maximize my points in the Resto tree and test out my mana regen with the gear and Reforging changes before picking up that talent). The following points I think can potentially be moved around to go into Furor if you find you need it:

Nature's Cure: This talent is a very nice utility talent, but a potentially optional one. If your primary raiding is in 25 mans (and possibly 10 mans with a good group makeup), you may find you don't need this talent as the cleanse is provided by another class in the group. If it is, you can likely skip this talent (check with your Raid Leader if you're unsure). You may want to pick it up again once Cata launches, though, as I imagine it may be useful in 5 man dungeons while leveling or in Heroics.

Blessing of the Grove: The general consensus on this talent so far seems to be that it feels quite weak. I've kept it for the time being as I'd like to maximize my heals as much as I can, and also as I'm still feeling out just how Druid healing will be (namely, whether our focus will keep up with Raid healing as our primary role, or whether it will indeed shift to tank healing, as our tank healing tools have been improved immensely). Given Rejuv is both strong as an additional HoT on our Tanks (especially with our mastery) as well as on the raid, this may still be good to keep, but again, may be a point or two you can shift out.

Empowered Touch: I would only suggest taking points out of this talent if you are doing absolutely NO tank healing at all. Nourish got a bit of a nerf, really, so you may end up using Healing Touch more on tanks than Nourish (at least if you're healing larger hits), so the Lifebloom refresh may not be as useful. The straight boost to both Nourish and Healing Touch will be very helpful. Again, some of this will depend on healing dynamics at 80 - whether we're healing more on the raid, the tanks, and also the speed of hits and health pool sizes at 80. ETA: Starting to get some proper raids in (that aren't lagged or otherwise completely horrendous due to patch bugs), you WILL be using both Nourish and HT, especially while tank healing. Nourish was indeed nerfed a little (though largely too due to the Glyph of Nourish now removed from the game) but it is still a good heal and, with this talent, it will refresh the Lifebloom stack, which is great. I prefer to keep this talent.

Naturalist: Again, I would only suggest taking points out of this talent if you are doing absolutely NO tank healing at all / if you're not using Healing Touch or Nourish at all. I prefer to keep this talent.

Nature's Majesty: You could also move a point or two out of this talent in the Balance tree, especially if you have a significant amount of Crit from gear already, but it is a pretty easy straight 4% Crit boost to pick up, so I'd spec into it if possible.

For more information you can again see my post Healing at 80 in 4.0.1, and I'll have the guides properly updated soon. I'll go ahead and add some of this new info there as well in the meantime.

Kitty Updates:

I mostly wanted to do a quick update on Kitty DPS and I'll get into more of the nitty-gritty later. Again, Reforging will be your friend - with armour pen on gear changing to either haste or crit, you may find yourself having too much of one stat or another. As mentioned earlier, we've had our damage boosted in a recent hotfix, so you should see your overall output go up a lot too. Don't forget, hit buffs are gone, so if you haven't already, make sure you're hit capped. You may also need some more expertise, as we no longer have Primal Precision (which increased our expertise).

The following spec is the max dps spec, including some utility talents which there is room for which I'll cover.

Thick Hide: I personally like this talent for its utility - it's the bear tanking talent which will make us uncrittable. Useful, I think, for emergency tanking situations and to avoid getting completely demolished by stray adds you may pick up.

Survival Instincts: Similar to Thick Hide, this is a useful survivability talent. For the mere damage reduction, I'd suggest picking it up even if you don't get Thick Hide. It's still particularly useful for fights, especially like Pungent Blight on Festergut and similar moments. Both these talents can be picked up without sacrificing DPS.

Brutal Impact: This is a nice talent which puts our interrupt onto the same cooldown as Rogue/DK/Shaman interrupts. Even with the spec above, you will be able to pick up this talent by level 85. If you want to pick it up at 80, you can drop some points in Thick Hide or Survival Instincts to get it.

Nurturing Instinct: I tend to prefer this talent for PVP (to increase your healing spells on yourself and others and to increase heals done to you, making you a bit more useful and durable), but it can also be a nice utility talent, particularly with concern for preserving healer's mana in Cata. Certainly a talent you can take.

Infected Wounds: This talent will generally be picked up by Bears, or covered by similar talents for other tanks. Can be a useful utility talent to pick up, though, particularly if in groups or raids where another class isn't providing the debuff, or for questing/leveling to reduce some damage taken (though for questing/leveling, taking Thick Hide to become uncrittable may serve you better).

The Prime glyphs (Rip/Savage Roar/Shred) are still your three key glyphs to maximize DPS. There's a bit more flexibility for your Major glyphs. Feral Charge will be useful to work in more Charges and, consequently, more Ravages. Rebirth can be useful for utility, and Faerie Fire will just give you a bit of extra range. In my Minors, Dash is still helpful and Unburdened Rebirth crucial. I picked up Challenging Roar ONLY because I specced into Thick Hide for emergency tanking situations. You can swap that out.

ETA: I forgot to include this earlier, I made up a nice macro for our new Skull Bash ability which will allow you to have both abilities on the same binding/same spot on your action bar, and which one is available will be dependant on which stance (form) you're in.

/cast [stance:1, nomod]Skull Bash;
/cast [stance:3, nomod]Skull Bash(Cat Form)

Again, you can see more information in my post on Kitty DPS at 80 in 4.0.1, and I'll be fully updating the kitty guide as well (it's in progress). The post also includes links to the new stat/gear analyzer Mew and an excellent post about kitty dps on the WoW Druid Forums.

I'll leave it there for now, plenty more updates and changes to come I'm sure!

I'll end with a glimpse at the new Tree form models, originally posted on MMO-Champion. These were data mined out of the latest beta update.

The forms are... interesting, at first glance. I'm undecided so far on my opinion of them, really - I've been way too distracted by both the talent/gear/etc issues following the patch as well as the technical issues, so I haven't really looked too thoroughly at them and formed a full opinion yet. I'll have to get a look at them in beta too. For those who are really concerned about them though (and it's possible the models will shift - I do not know if those are final models or not), there was the following blue post about ToL posted on MMO-Champ:

New Tree of Life
Art is very subjective. We're very used to the phenomenon of half of a class loving say their tier set art and the other half thinking they are the worst thing ever.

Messing with player models is always risky and we know the current Tree of Life model is one of those things that is either loved or hated. That is why, as promised, we are offering a minor glyph if you just prefer the older, treant-based, version of ToL. 

So it seems that the Tree of Life glyph is indeed in the works as a future glyph (not sure if it's also in that beta build or not), though rather than giving us a long lasting appearance (as opposed to the 30 second cooldown), it should just give us our Treant version of tree form back. Regardless, it's great to have that option, which I just may pick up, as I love our treant-version of Tree form.

That's all for now!