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!

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