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!

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