Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Resto spec fun! To Swift Rejuv or not to Swift Rejuv

A bit of a quick post, I decided to try out a slightly different spec picking up Swift Rejuvenation again. I had already dropped points in Nature's Bounty to get some points into Furor to max out mana pool. Regrowth is simply feeling too expensive mana-wise and lacking the healing punch to use it too frequently, so losing the increased chance to crit doesn't seem like a loss. I do still use Regrowth on OoC procs when warranted (especially when in Tree of Life and they're instant) and also for the haste buff with Nature's Grace, but it's not one of my go-to spells otherwise.

I've decided, then, to try out a spec which completely drops Nature's Bounty and instead picks Swift Rejuvenation up again. This talent is potentially a debatable one - mainly as the high mana cost of Rejuv can make it difficult for this talent to feel worthwhile when people can't use Rejuv as frequently. This specific issue will ease up as you pick up more gear, though, and your mana pool and regen increases.

There are a few nice reasons for picking up SR though. For one, in the starting tier our Haste will simply not reach high enough levels to bring our GCD down to one second, so having a talent that essentially brings our Rejuvs to a one second GCD is very valuable.

Having the faster GCD on Rejuv will also help us get to our other spells more quickly, whether it be another Rejuv or a spell like Nourish. I think this talent gets skipped some as people think only of the Rejuv spam of Wrath, which isn't feasible in Cataclysm, and so forego it. We don't need to be spamming only Rejuvs for this talent to be valuable.

One of the big things I've noticed that this talent will be helpful on is our Swiftmends. As Rejuv's duration is shorter now, we can't preemptively HoT targets to prepare them for later Swiftmends. Quite frequently you will have to Rejuv your target immediately in order to Swiftmend, as they won't have had the HoT on them before needing the SM. The shorter Rejuv GCD will make getting that SM off quicker, even if only slightly. Every second (and even half second) is crucial, and that half second can save someone in a raid or heroic.

All that being said, here is the spec I'm trying out! 8/2/31

So we shall see how this goes! I think that little change will be a good difference. I'm hoping to eventually be able to get some points into Genesis, whether from Moonglow or Furor, but I don't see that being feasible anytime in the near future with mana conservation still being important.

I've updated the Resto Guide as well to include the notes on that spec, for those still checking on the guide!

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Killing the Whale Shark!

We did it! We killed the Whale Shark! Clearly, the biggest achievement a guild can accomplish, and I do mean biggest. There were many corpse runs and, amazingly, one of our tanks who had joined in the kill survived a hit (through Shield Wall plus a block) - only one hit, though. He didn't make it through the next hit.

For those of you looking to get your kill (and achievement - From Hell's Heart I Stab at Thee), here's how to do it!

While you could solo it, you'll likely have best luck doing it in a group (it won't take as long, at least). You'll definitely need to kite him, staying between 5 and 20 yards the entire time. 5 yards will keep you from getting eaten, but if you go beyond 20 yards he'll disengage and evade away. Conveniently for your DPS, swimming 20 yards away should reset threat as you'll drop combat. For your kiter, an addon that shows range would be very useful to ensure you remain in that range. There are specific addons that will check range, and others that have it as a built-in option (IceHUD has one). Have a look around Curse or WoWInterface for some of the range check addons. To kite him, simply swim backwards, keeping him in that range.

For DPS, you can swim alongside him and pew pew, but keep a close eye on your threat - if he turns to bite you, you're done! You won't need any healers for this as anyone who gets nommed on will be dead. You will find you have some Line of Sight issues as well, so you need to position yourself at the right height alongside or in front of him. The line seemed to be about in line with his mouth.

Good luck!

In other news, we got our first heroic kill last night, Halfus Wyrmbreaker! The most difficult part seemed to be Halfus' last 50%, as he does a Roar every 30 seconds which does a knockdown to the raid which is both annoying and difficult to heal through. I think I preferred his bonestorm-esque whirlwinding from Beta! It seems they've taken that out completely, though. We ended up BoPing myself, our other druid, and then a priest for each stun to pop Tranq/Tranq/Hymn, which helped us get the raid through that phase, and also rotated cooldowns on the tanks (who were still tanking Halfus and the dragons through the knockdowns).

The screenshot above was only remembered after we had started to clear the trash on the way to Theralion and Valiona, so no corpse there, but here's a little achievement shot to go along with it.

We managed to get Nefarian and Al'akir down on 10s as well to keep our progression up through the holiday attendance lull (all other kills on 25 though), so I think this week we may try some more hardmodes and also finish up those two kills on 25 to round that out. Some good progression so far, which should pick up even more once the holiday season wraps up!

In fun news, the bug with the stone drake models is actually pretty excellent with the Sandstone Drake, as it looks like you're carrying your prey off to your lair! Works especially well with gnomes (as above).

Still digging for my Tyrande's Favourite Doll trinket, 119 Night Elf artifacts (and 6/7 rares) solved and still no luck! Just have to keep telling myself 'It'll be the next one...'

Back to digging!

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Raid Encounter Guides - Chimaeron (Blackwing Descent)

I'm working on getting some new guides up (though the information on the Beta Raid Previews pages are still relevant) and thought I'd kick it off with Chimaeron in Blackwing Descent.

Video: One of our Chimaeron 25 man Heroic kills. Details on the Heroic mode are towards the end of this post after the normal mode description.

Chimaeron is one of the three bosses inside Blackwing Descent beyond the entry gate - after defeating the Omnitron Defense System and Magmaw, the portcullis will open and allow you to face Chimaeron, Maloriak, and Atramedes before facing the final boss, Nefarian.

Chimaeron is a mix of simplicity and difficulty - the concept and strategy to the fight is straightforward, but the actual execution can be quite challenging. While DPS have a fairly straightforward burn throughout this fight, tanking and healing have some unique challenges which I'll cover after the ability and strategy breakdown.

Let's start by taking a look at Chimaeron's abilities. (source)

Finkle's Mixture - Damage taken while above 10,000 health cannot reduce your health below 1.

Phase 1
Caustic Slime - Deals 280,000 Nature damage and reduces chance to hit for all enemies in an area. Damage is split between all enemies with 6 yards of impact.
Massacre - Inflicts maximum damage to all enemy players.
Double Attack - Chimaeron will strike twice on his next attack.
Feud - Chimaeron's heads are fighting each other and are unable to perform melee attacks.
Break - Increases Physical damage taken by 25% and reduces healing by 15% for 1 min on the target, stacks.

Phase 2
Mortality - Chimaeron goes into a rage, becoming immune to Taunts, increasing his damage taken by 20%, and reducing healing effects for all enemy players by 99%.
Double Attack - Chimaeron will strike twice on his next attack.

The key mechanic in this fight is Finkle's Mixture. This is a raid-wide debuff that is enabled when you activate the Bile-o-Tron by speaking to Finkle Einhorn, the gnome in the cage at the back of the room. Once you speak to Finkle, the Bile-o-Tron will switch on and begin moving around the room. Chimaeron will begin to wake up, however, you can speed things up by engaging him directly.

Phase 1
It is extremely important to spread out at least 6 yards apart for all of phase 1. This should ideally include melee, who can spread out around the boss' hitbox. This is to prevent Caustic Slime hitting more than one target at a time, as the splash damage can kill even if the initial hit doesn't. While the Bile-o-Tron is active, Finkle's Mixture will prevent everyone in the raid from dropping below 1 health if they are at or above 10,000 health. This allows the raid to survive the Caustic Slimes and Massacre.

The Bile-o-Tron will periodically be knocked offline during phase 1. When the Bile-o-Tron is knocked offline, the raid is no longer protected by Finkle's Mixture, so the raid needs to stack up and be healed fully. There will still be Caustic Slimes and without the Bile-o-Tron raiders can die from it, so they must be healed up. It is also extremely important the raid is tightly stacked - this will mitigate the damage from Caustic Slime on the raid.

As soon as the Bile-o-Tron is back online, the raid needs to immediately spread back out to again avoid splash damage from Caustic Slimes.

Phase 2
Phase 2 begins when Chimaeron hits 20% health. At this point, it is simply a DPS burn. Chimaeron becomes immune to taunts but takes additional damage. Healing is reduced by 99%, so basically no one will be getting healed during this part of the fight and people will die. He moves slowly, so he can be kited, but he needs to be burned before raid members begin dying. The Bile-o-Tron will still be active, so you'll have the Finkle's Mixture buff, but you won't be able to heal anyone back up above 10,000 health once they fall below it.

Tanking Chimaeron
You'll need two tanks for this fight on normal mode to deal with two of Chimaeron's abilities: Break and Double Attack. These two abilities affect Chimaeron's targets and specific tank taunts will effectively deal with this.

You can use the Finkle's Mixture to your advantage here. The Main Tank can tank Chimaeron and take the Break debuff. So long as the MT is kept above 10,000 health, if the Bile-o-Tron is online the MT will not die. The MT only needs to be kept above 10,000 health. Even with multiple stacks of the debuff, if he's above 10,000 health, he won't die while the Bile-o-Tron is active.

The key here is the Off-Tank. The OT will be taunting Chimaeron in order to take the Double Attack only. The OT must be kept topped off at full health. Because the Double Attack is two strikes, even if the first hit doesn't kill the OT, the second one can easily kill if the OT falls below 10,000 health.

In normal mode, Chimaeron will Feud while the Bile-o-Tron is offline and will not deal any melee attacks, so your tanks should be healed up along with the rest of the raid but won't require special attention until after Feud is over when the Bile-o-Tron is back online.

Chimaeron deals massive strikes to the tanks, so it is important both tanks and healers be ready for these hits and rotate cooldowns as needed. Good avoidance and mitigation for tanks is great on this fight - dodging one of Chimaeron's big hits is fairly obvious.

Healing Chimaeron
I've touched on one aspect of healing this fight above in the tanking section. This fight is fairly specific in terms of healing strategy and hinges on the use of Finkle's Mixture.

While Finkle's Mixture is active when the Bile-o-Tron is online, the raid will not drop below 1 health - as long as they are above 10,000 health. The entire raid needs to be kept at 10,000 health minimum and, ideally, maximum. Do NOT waste mana trying to heal everyone up to full in these phases - you will burn yourself OoM.

When players are below 10,000 health, they will gain a debuff called 'Low Health'. For those of you using addons such as Vuhdo and Grid, you can enter this debuff into your customizable debuffs and it will show up on players below 10,000 health. (You can see this debuff indicator on my Vuhdo frames in my video at the beginning of this post).

At lower gear levels, our cheap heals (Nourish for druids, Heal for priests, etc) will likely not heal targets up over 10,000 hp unless they crit (most will hit for around 8k), so you will likely have to try different heals to get targets healed quickly enough. You'll have about 5 seconds between the different abilities (Slimes and Massacre). You may want to try heals like Healing Touch, Rejuvs, etc.

It is extremely helpful to assign healers to groups to prioritise targets hit by Caustic Slime and Massacre and to avoid missing some raid members when you have overlaps on other targets. Having healers prioritise certain groups or targets first and assisting other targets/groups when they can is useful. Also be aware of healers who can heal themselves while healing others, such as Priest's Binding Heal. You may also find it helpful to run extra healers, especially for early attempts and kills, as adapting to the healing strategy will likely be the most challenging part of this fight for many raids.

When the Bile-o-Tron is knocked offline, the raid is no longer protected by Finkle's Mixture. It is imperative the entire raid stacks up tightly to mitigate the Caustic Slime damage. During this phase, the entire raid needs to be healed to full - AE heals like Efflorescence, Wild Growth, and other class abilities like Holy Word: Sanctuary, Healing Rain, etc are extremely useful in this phase. If you have several druids, you may find rotating Tranquility in each collapse is helpful. DPS classes can also throw out a quick AE heal if they have it to help (such as ele and enhance shamans throwing out a Healing Rain). Once you top the raid up fully the first time after Massacre hits, you can likely heal the raid up to about 85% and on downwards from there for the remaining hits to conserve a bit of mana, as there will be a only a few Caustic Slimes hitting the raid before the next Massacre and the Bile-o-Tron coming back online.

When the Bile-o-Tron is back online, the raid should spread back out and again be kept only at 10,000 health.

As mentioned in the Tanking section, the Main Tank tanking Chimaeron can be kept just above 10,000 health. The Off-tank taking the Double Attack hits must be kept at full health, though, in order to prevent him from dying to the Double Attack.

Once you hit Phase 2, all healing is reduced by 99%, so any heals are pretty futile at this stage. You'd likely be most useful by helping with the DPS burn. For Druids, using Tree Form as a DPS cooldown in Phase 2 can be helpful in the DPS burn.

And that is it for the fight! It's fairly simple in concept - spread out, collapse, repeat, and pewpew, really - but it will likely be a gear-check for many and will test tanks and healers as well as DPS, who need to burn him at a decent pace (especially if sacrificing some DPS for additional healers).

Heroic Chimaeron
There are two significant changes from normal mode to Heroic mode.

The first extremely important difference is Chimaeron no longer does Feud - Nefarian appears and interrupts it, allowing Chimaeron to attack.

This means Chimaeron will melee the tanks while the Bile-o-Tron is offline.

Your tank rotation for Break and Double Attack become of much greater importance on hard mode.

There are several ways to manage this change, all involving important tank rotations in addition to solid healing and damage mitigation cooldowns.

It is easiest, especially in 25 mans, to run three tanks for this fight on Heroic. One tank will continue to be the Double Attack tank only - he will only taunt Chimaeron to take the Double Attack strikes. This tank needs to be topped off at full health throughout the fight and should never get the Break debuff.

Your other two tanks will be your Break tanks. It is crucial to survival that the person tanking Chimaeron while the Bile-o-Tron is offline not have any stacks of Break when they taunt - they will die very quickly if they are taking melee hits from Chimaeron while the Bile-o-Tron is offline. A simple way to handle this, then, is to have one of your Break tanks begin the fight tanking Chimaeron. They will continue to do so up until the first Feud, which generally leads to about 4 stacks of Break. The second Break tank then taunts Chimaeron at the start of Feud. The second tank can continue to hold Chimaeron when the Bile-o-Tron comes back online until the next Feud, by which time the first tank's stack of Break will have cleared, allowing the first tank to taunt Chimaeron for the following Feud.

In summary, you have your Double Attack Tank (DA Tank), offtank 1, and offtank 2.
OT 1 begins the fight, DA Tank taunts for all Double Attack hits.
Feud - OT 2 taunts, DA Tank taunting as needed for Double Attack still.
2nd Feud - OT 1 taunts, DA Tank again taking Double Attack strikes.
3rd Feud - OT 2 taunts, DA Tank taking Double Attack.
and so forth. This sort of rotation should ensure your tanks are clear of the Break debuff when they are tanking Chimaeron while the Bile-o-Tron is offline.

The tanks will need to be topped off during Feud in addition to the normal raid healing, and the tanks must be quickly topped off after the Massacre before Feud in preparation for Chimaeron's first strike. A cooldown such as Guardian Spirit, Pain Suppression, or Hand of Sacrifice is also crucial when the OT taunts to help mitigate the incoming damage. You can see in the Heroic video at the top of this post (where I am tank-healing) how quickly we're working to get the tanks topped off for those phases.

Note: I have not tried the following strategy suggestion for 10 mans (as I'm currently doing primarily 25 man raids) - if any have used this strategy or a similar one, please do let me know and I can update this suggestion. :)
10 mans may feel a bit pressed to get 3 tanks into their raid, and it may be feasible to work out a tanking rotation that utilises a DPS class (Plate would likely be preferable) as their third tank. The DPS would only feasibly be able to tank while the Bile-o-Tron is online (as they will not have the mitigation or crit immunity to survive melee hits while it is offline). It may be possible, then, to have the DPS be the dedicated Break tank and always tank Chimaeron while the Bile-o-Tron is online. The Off Tank (an actual tank) would then always (and only) tank Chimaeron during Feud while the Bile-o-Tron is offline. The Double Attack tank remains the same and only taunts for Double Attack. This should theoretically provide time for the Off Tank to clear the Break stacks obtained during Feud stages. The Feud timer is slightly different and more random in Heroic mode, though, which may pose issues. Playing with rotations to find what works best for your raid is recommended!

There will still be Caustic Slime damage incoming to the raid during Feud while the Bile-o-Tron is offline, so raid cooldowns such as Power Word: Barrier and AoE heals like Efflorescence and Healing Rain are extremely helpful.

The other main difference in the Heroic mode is in Phase 2. Nefarian again appears to spice things up a bit.

Throughout Phase 2 (Chimaeron sub-20% health), Nefarian will cast Mocking Shadows which inflicts 1000 Shadow damage to all raid members every second.

This ability is, of course, combined with the normal Phase 2 debuff Mortality, which reduces all healing by 99%. It is essential the entire raid is topped off as you push into Phase 2. This gives crucial extra time to burn Chimaeron before too many raid members begin to die. Timing the push into Phase 2 is also important, and it is generally best to do so after healing the raid up to full immediately after a Massacre. After Massacre hits you will have about 5 seconds to top up the raid and push him into Phase 2 before Caustic Slime hits the raid and reduces raid member's health. Healthstones are best saved for this part just before Phase 2, and personal damage mitigation cooldowns (Anti-Magic Shell, Barkskin, etc) are best used in Phase 2 to reduce damage taken from Mocking Shadows. Disc Priests can be very helpful in Phase 2 as well as their Power Word: Shields will absorb much of the damage, helping mitigate raiders' damage taken rather than futilely attempting to heal through Mortality.

Good luck and have fun!

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays everyone! I hope you all have a happy and safe holiday season and Greatfather Winter leaves you some nice gifts for Winter Veil!

I've got some posts lined up (and some days off from raids because of the holiday, so hopefully a bit of extra time to actually write!) so I'll be trying to get those up ASAP. Most of my spare time recently has been spent in-game, working on gear, profs, etc, and getting my priest up to 85 for alt usage in raids. After which, of course, I'll again have the gear and rep grind. It never ends!

Raids have been going well despite the bit of craziness from the holiday season. We're 11/12 at the moment with only Nefarian left to kill, and we made some excellent progress on Thursday on heroic Halfus despite a less-than-ideal comp, so we should get him down in the week. I'll be working on some new guides to the raid encounters as some have changed a bit since beta (though for the most part the beta preview pages are still pretty accurate and useful).

Resto druids are in a bit of an odd place at the moment. As mentioned in my last post, we're definitely feeling a fair bit behind Paladins and Priests. Paladins have been a bit OP since beta, and though they did have some nerfs they're still quite strong. Priests got a lot of much-needed buffs (they were ridiculously behind the other healers on beta) so now they're looking almost too strong, and I won't be surprised to see most progression guilds stacking priests and pallies for some early kills. A bit of a problem with druids at the moment is our AE heals were scaled back quite a bit - Wild Growth isn't hitting as hard as it used to, Efflorescence is strong but not as much as it was, and Rejuv is very mana intensive, so you have to be careful with its use. It's definitely still strong for heals, but you absolutely cannot waste them on overheals or you risk going OoM. Our tank heals are stronger now with Lifebloom and Nourish and Healing Touch, but it's more likely Paladins will still be preferred as tank healers due to all the cooldowns they have, whether a Hand of Sacrifice or Lay on Hands, etc. In terms of actual HPS numbers, druids can hit some of the numbers priests and pallies are reaching, but it seems to be at a greater mana cost and harder to reach, even when the toons themselves are about equal in terms of gear and skill. Pallies and Priests are pretty easily hitting the top numbers with druids and shamans trailing behind a bit. Overall, it's just feeling quite imbalanced at the moment, and I really think either druids and shamans could do with some boosts or pallies and priests need to be scaled back a bit. We won't see anything til after the holidays, I'm sure, as Blizz needs their holiday too! But hopefully there'll be some changes upcoming.

Otherwise, things have been fun around the game. The new raids are fun and pretty interesting. I still think Atramedes is one of my favourite fights, as it was in Beta... As ever, I'm a sucker for a good dragon fight, and I find the concept of a blind dragon and how his attacks are sound-based is interesting. Ascendant Council is also a fun fight due to its mechanics and how you're supposed to use them, and is proving to be one of the harder fights for many - the soft enrage in the final phase is definitely a strong push (you need to burn him down before you all die to the damage, basically).

I've been plugging away at Archaeology as well, though it's starting to wear on me now! I did get very lucky and found a Ring of the Boy Emperor, but no luck yet with Tyrande's Favourite Doll. I finally had to take a break and get back to working on other stuff as it was just going on too long. I had also been trying to get the Vial of the Sands recipe to drop, but after many Tol'vir items and yet another common that wasn't a Canopic Jar, I gave in and found someone with the recipe. Fortunately I had already saved up the mats (transmute master proccing on Truegold is amazing), and now that the mount's BOE, I was able to find someone to craft it for me without charging a ridiculous tip. So now I can turn into a dragon! /Squee! I'll likely get back to looking for the recipe, but I won't be spending ridiculous amounts of time on it.

Anyhow, I hope you all are enjoying the new content so far! I'm looking forward to doing some levelling again with my little worgen warrior after my priest gets sorted out at 85. He's all equipped with BoA gear and sitting out in Darkshore (Withers pet!), I had fun romping through the starting zone already. Worgen starting zone is definitely worth a look! I'll have to check out the Goblin zone at some point too, but that can wait.

More posts to come soon! In the meantime, enjoy the holidays and enjoy the game!

Thursday, 16 December 2010

I survived the Cataclysm!

Well, it's just over one week on now and yes, I am still alive! It's been an interesting and busy week. I was right in on the quick pursuit of level 85, followed immediately by heroics and, starting last Thursday, our first raids. We've already pushed to 7/12 (technically 8 with a 10s Chimaeron kill before the reset on Monday night), and back in again tonight. We should have an Ascendant Council kill with a bit better execution, and reports are Cho'gall has been easy on 25, so hopefully a kill on him right after.

Many have jumped in to the new Cataclysm dungeons and heroics. They're certainly quite different from the Wrath dungeons, and not just in the scenery! Trash hits hard and CC is almost a must on many mobs, and bosses have new and varied mechanics. Dungeons take time, require attention and awareness, and also a lot of patience. If you haven't been in them yet (especially in PuGs), be prepared for wipes and learning curves.

Don't be afraid to ask for CC! It can make a huge difference on how hard mobs end up beating on your tank and the group. Tanks too, don't be afraid to CC and set target orders, it helps a ton in controlling mobs.

DPS, be aware of how you can help your group out. I've added a new section in the Feral guide with some suggestions of how to help. Ferals have a great arsenal of off-heals which can help your healer, whether with a timely Tranquility or perhaps a Healing Touch with a Predator's Swiftness proc.

We do have some good CC as well as druids, whether it be simply rooting a target in place or perhaps a quick Cyclone on a target. The most useful CC in the Cataclysm content, though, is definitely Hibernate, which can sleep Dragonkin and Beasts.

Druids are looking alright so far at 85. Ferals, certainly, are doing some great damage (though there was a recent hotfix to stop Rake from benefitting twice from Mastery (source)). I can't decide so far whether Restos could do with a little boost or simply the healing classes are still a little off-balance. Pallies are still  a bit OP, though the recent hotfixes to them may help to bring them a bit more in-line with the other healers. The buffs to priests seems to have done them well too, at least for Holy priests, as they're doing pretty well now (especially after being quite low on beta). Druids and Shamans are looking quite equal, possibly a bit behind Holy priests though we'll see how it continues to play out as gear levels rise, more data gets out there, and as Blizz adjusts the balance more.

I've been trying to feel out just how aggressive with heals we can be given mana concerns, particularly on raid healing. Rejuv and Wild Growth are mana expensive but crucial on raid heals, so effective placement of those is important. Hopping into Tree of Life form to spread Lifeblooms out on the raid can also be effective as well as cheap in terms of mana, as well as providing more chances to proc Omen of Clarity with Malfurion's Gift. Wild Growth could use a bit of a boost, I think, to put it more on par with priest's Prayer of Healing and Circle of Healing abilities. Our tank healing tools are pretty strong and, with Empowered Touch, you can actually maintain Lifebloom on more than one target outside of ToL. Check out the Resto Guide for a full description on it, but essentially; if you go into ToL form, stack Lifebloom on two (or more) targets, you can then maintain the additional stacks through the Empowered Touch talent. By healing the additional targets with Nourish or Healing Touch, those spells will refresh the Lifebloom stacks, even outside of ToL form! So it's very feasible (and, if primarily tank healing, recommended) to keep LB stacks rolling on two tanks.

Lifebloom should always be up on a target, whether you're tank healing or raid healing. It's generally best used on the tank, but don't be afraid to throw it on another target or even yourself if needed. It increases our chance to proc Omen of Clarity if you've picked up Malfurion's Gift, provides Replenishment and mana regen with Revitalize, and is a nice strong heal. Be aware too of when it would be better to refresh a Lifebloom stack or let it bloom - a 3-stack can provide a really big heal if allowed to bloom (I've seen it crit for 30k+).

As awesome as some of the new ground effects look, I must admit they can get to be a bit of a mess and can really obscure some key mechanics in fights that are signified by yet more ground effects. Melee in particular tend to get tons of the new AE heals on their pile, making it difficult to see things like the magma pillar on Magmaw, or even distinguishing between the fire strikes by the fire elementals in Bastion of Twilight (they look just like the priest's AE heal but with a bit of a red tinge to it).

I've been debating some specs and gemming choices in raids. Intellect is definitely the best stat for Druids as it increases our spellpower, mana pool, regen, and spell crit, but, mana regen is still low, especially at entry gear levels, so Spirit is valuable. Gear, definitely, should have spirit on, and if it doesn't, I highly recommend reforging it on (Crit and Mastery are good stats to reduce to turn into Spirit - I don't recommend turning Haste into Spirit as Haste is also an excellent stat for us to push those HoT tick break points). I've been gemming a mix so far of Intellect, Spirit, and Haste. I've also picked up the following spec to reduce mana costs (with 3/3 in Moonglow) and increase mana pool a bit more (with 2/3 Furor). The points I sacrificed to get those two talents were 2 points out of Nature's Bounty. I did this largely due to Regrowth's high mana cost - because it is such an expensive spell, I'm not using Regrowth constantly, so the increased crit chance isn't such a big loss.

A quick note for gear: With the new enchant for Off-hands (+100 Int), a Main Hand + Off-hand pairing is generally stronger than using a 2-hander. That 100 Int is a big boost to our mana and spellpower.

I'll try to get some more updates up soon, along with some info on gear (particularly what pieces to be looking out for in raids and heroics). But I'm balancing this with still being busy in-game and the usual real-life goings on, so apologies in advance if some of the newer posts are a bit slow in rolling out! I am always updating my Resto and Feral guides, though, so do keep an eye on those, and feel free to get in touch with any questions or comments!

Monday, 6 December 2010

Cataclysm Feral Druid Guide is up!

Just in time for Cataclysm launch, my Feral Druid Guide is up!
Link here: Cataclysm Feral Druid Guide!

As with my new Cata Resto Guide, the old Feral guide has been taken completely down in order to start fresh with the new guide for Cata.

I'll be updating the guide as new information comes in and with new patches and changes.

Enjoy the new guide, and enjoy the launch of Cataclysm!

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Cataclysm Resto Druid Guide is up!

I've finished my Resto Guide for Cataclysm and it is now up and running!

You can find the new guide here: Cataclysm Resto Druid Guide. ETA: I've posted the guide again to a NEW url, so please update your links and bookmarks! It is at the same URL as the previous guide, so your links and bookmarks should still work, though check to ensure they're updated. I took down the old guide completely to start fresh for the xpac. Everything there is for Cataclysm. 

As ever, I will be keeping the guide updated through changes and patches and adding any additional useful information that arises.

In other Cata preparations, there were a couple of great posts over on the MMO-Champion forums which are definitely worth a look.

Cataclysm Preparation Compilation by tunnland
There is a ton of useful information in this post, from suggestions of what to do before launch day, a full list of the new food, flasks, elixirs, and other buffs, to suggested dailies and their XP rewards to complete before launch day and turn in for quick easy XP at launch. There is also information on loot, strategy, and videos for the new 5-man instances. 

What Wrath players need to know to not suck at Cata! by Daetur
This post has some great info for everyone on what to expect in the new Cataclysm dungeons and raids and, in particular, what you need to start thinking about for the changes from the Wrath style of dungeons. There's general advice and more specific advice for DPS, Healers, and Tanks.

As that's quite a lot to look at and read, I'll cut this post off here. Enjoy! :D