Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Turning "The Safety Dance" Into "The Safety Stand There Not Really Watching The Fight And Spamming All Your Nukes... Thing"

Raid progress is going slow but the raid nights themselves are going fast. Last night we cleared Archavon and got 2 Abyss Shards. Then we went over to Sartharion. We attempted the fight with one drake up, but the adds were too heavy. I also think we left the wrong drake up. However, our DPS isn't quite up to snuff, so we downed the drake and then took on Sartharion. On to Naxx, we cleared the Spider Wing and did the Plague Wing again.

On Heigan we used the safe spot cheese, which made the fight go much faster and the achievement trivial. On Loatheb, Falcon was specced Circle of Healing and it made the fight stupid easy. Circle of Healing should be nerfed. Oh wait...

We finally defeated Patchwerk, even though he enraged. Our Warrior was MTing and he was able to absorb the full brunt of the attack for the 20 seconds or so of enrage he had to endure. Patchwerk dropped total crap.

On to Grobbulus, we got several good attempts in, but didn't quite down him. There seems to be a communication breakdown somewhere in where the injected players should drop the poison clouds. Once we get that down, the fight should be easy. I have confidence we will down it the next night we try it.

I got a couple of upgrades from Naxx last night, by the way. Amulet of Autopsy replacing Amulet of Wills, and Leggings of Discord replacing Chain Gang Legguards. Dropping a bit of Stamina for Agility, but when you have 40k health raid buffed you can pretty easily afford to do so.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Blogging about a survey is kinda like phoning it in. So I took the easy way out today.

I went to take the survey World of Matticus has pimped on his blog. What can I say, I'm a sucker for this sort of thing. Here are my results:

Your Top Character Strength

Fairness, equity, and justice
Treating all people fairly is one of your abiding principles. You do not let your personal feelings bias your decisions about other people. You give everyone a chance.

Your Second Character Strength

Forgiveness and mercy
You forgive those who have done you wrong. You always give people a second chance. Your guiding principle is mercy and not revenge.

Your Third Character Strength

Curiosity and interest in the world
You are curious about everything. You are always asking questions, and you find all subjects and topics fascinating. You like exploration and discovery.

Your Fourth Character Strength

Judgment, critical thinking, and open-mindedness
Thinking things through and examining them from all sides are important aspects of who you are. You do not jump to conclusions, and you rely only on solid evidence to make your decisions. You are able to change your mind.

Your Fifth Character Strength

Citizenship, teamwork, and loyalty
You excel as a member of a group. You are a loyal and dedicated teammate, you always do your share, and you work hard for the success of your group.

I guess I agree with all of it except the last one. I'm really not sure I perform so well in a group. Well, in terms of WoW, I suppose I do. Always there to perform my role. Well, when I am there. I haven't been on all week due to Holidays and weird sleep schedules. Well, there's a raid tonight, so no excuses.

Amusingly, way down in number 13 is Leadership. This is probably something I should work on, though it is possible that where my leadership is is just fine. I really like all the traits that are above leadership: Honestly, Loving, Optimism, Learning, Creativity, Bravery and Perspective.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Coming soon to my blog header: "Aspect of the Leader of the Pack." Let's hope not.

There hasn't been much posted here because there hasn't been much going on. I leveled my hunter to 73. Woo. Hoo. Unlike certain other "Druids" in the blagonets, I keep my priorites straight. Or maybe he's saving the best for last? Who knows. All I know, is I go to my hunter when it's time to turn off the brain for a bit. This is why BRK is so disjointed from his brain.

Incidentally, my prot pally is where I want to go when I don't want to think, but I do want to tank. She's still 70, though.

The holidays have had a negative effect on raid progress. We've had one real weekend at Naxx, and I think we've done fine for it (7/15 clear, plus Sartharion. Not too bad.) Our normal raid days are Thursdays, Fridays, and Mondays, so the holidays have left us with Monday as the only day to raid until January 2nd, when I crack the whip and we start going after new content.

One thing I'm really worried about is raid DPS. Sadly I think I made my wife go Holy worrying about DPS. But it's everyone. I'll have to see how the raid turns out next week, but the numbers that we are producing seem to be 500 to 750 DPS under par for similarly geared folks. Again, we haven't really had a raid since some of the members got upgrades, so I may not have anything to worry about. And we have another couple of farming days before we get back to new content.

That's all for now!

Friday, December 19, 2008

I suppose this is my way of apologizing for calling her "emo"

Bellweather at 4Haelz was kind enough to host a guest post written by me. Go check it out, it's far better than anything I've written for myself.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

@Kralnor: My staff is a good one, too

So the other night we go into Naxx, ready to tear up. Oddly enough, the trash on the Military Quarter respawned even though we downed Razuvious. Oh well, we were headed to the Plague Quarter anyway to get to Noth. But those gargoyles were tough! We could do the other pulls fine, but the gargoyles were crazy! Somewhere in the middle of it, Ousted Bead Necklace dropped, which went to our priest healer. We decided to give up on the gargoyles after several attempts so we went to the Abomination Quarter to try our hand at Patchwerk. The first pull seemed a little off... we wiped on it once, then downed it and pulled some slime. About this point, our Druid healer says "It's on heroic!" Clearing heroic Naxx trash isn't too bad for our first week in Naxx. Ah well. Out we go and into normal Naxx.

The trash became a breeze. We got to Noth and one-shot him on our first time seeing him, and then Heigan... was a little different. We got him down, just a little after our normal stop time. He dropped Staff of the Plague Beast for me, so I was pretty pleased. It's actually the first bit of tank gear that dropped for our guild out of Naxx.

I've been picking up on tanking in 5 mans. You can't just go in tanking like you did in BC, not as a Druid anyway. You have to pretty much spam Maul and Swipe. That's really all you need, but you need to pick up aggro on all the mobs pretty quickly. Bosses are pretty much the same as before.

Oh, and I finally got enough emblems for my T7 chestpiece, which is the first thing I saved up for. I might get the tanking necklace next. I'm not sure. I'll figure it out later, I guess...

Friday, December 12, 2008

I will never claim that communication is my forté

To be clear: I am not against pugs getting loot in raids. our loot system is designed such that over time, everyone (including pugs) gets equal distribution of loot. It is also design such that, in the short term, the gear goes to people we can count on being there for our next progression kill.

In this way, I believe we reward everyone who puts in work while at the same time not sacrificing ourselves for progression in the name of 'fairness.'

How our loot system works:

It is a traditional Suicide Kings. When the initial list is generated, tanks are randomized into the top spots. Healers are randomized into the next spots. Everyone is randomized to the bottom of the list. This is because tanks are the most important thing to progression, with healers being second. DPS being at the bottom is rarely an issue, but in the case of Tier tokens, this seems to work out best.

This list is used as a template for three lists. One for Tier Loot, one for Main Spec Loot, and one for Off Spec Loot. I suspect we'll make the Tier Loot a Tier 7 Loot list, and then a new Tier 8 Loot list when that content becomes available.

At the beginning of the raid, pugs are added to the bottom of the list in the order they joined the raid. At the end of the raid, pugs are suicided and then removed, to preserve order for the people who did not come.

When a new player is added to the guild as a raider, they are also added to the bottom of the list.

When loot drops, every player in the raid whispers "main" or "off" to the master looter. The person at the top of the list wins the item, at the discretion of the loot master, for example when someone is bidding inappropriately, or in corner cases like Hunters vs. Rogues on a weapon. So far the only discretion I've really had to use is for people trying to bid on blatant downgrades, or for people not bidding on upgrades. Sometimes people will bid "off" on an item and then go on to use it like normal. In that case, they are suicided on the main list instead of the off list. Tier loot that is won for an off spec is suicided on the off spec list.

Items such as epic bags, quest drops like Magtheridon's Head, mounts and the like that don't have impact on combat directly are put to a random roll, highest roll wins. Everyone is invited to roll on such items, pugs and guildies alike.

Loot is only sharded when there are no bids from anyone in the raid. In the case of the boots yesterday, they went to our resident resto Druid.

This system is not perfect, but it makes the guild happy, and we all agree that for what we do, it is much better than a pug walking away with important loot due to a random roll.

At the beginning of the raid, I put up a small blurb which I have macro'd on my bar. It explains very briefly that we use a Suicide Kings list and that pugs are added to the bottom of the list. It also is very clear that pugs are not excluded from receiving loot. It then gives bidding instructions. People with questions generally whisper me for clarifications on the rules if they have questions. I make sure everyone who isn't clear on the rules is clear on them. Obviously it doesn't always work.

Finally, I received the following comment on the last post:

[...]if I don't come, their guild doesn't raid. If anything, I'm more valuable than the other people.

This surprised me because it came from someone I deeply respect for his clear thinking, Rohan from Blessing of Kings. This statement is pretty conceited, and very incorrect. Pugs aren't there so we can go raid. I have before and will again run a 7 man raid where necessary. In fact, in Savant's early days, there was a lot of 6, 7, or 8 man raids, and they were very successful. To say "oh we can't get another body so we'll just have to quit for the night" is very disrespectful to the people in my guild who are talented enough to adapt to various dire looking situations. We're all good players, and if we want to raid, then dammit, we're gonna raid, even with a slim chance of success.

Pugs are not more important than guildies. If they were, everyone would be running pug groups, and guilds would be reduced to chatrooms. Pugs contribute to one kill, but do they contribute to a majority of our kills? Did they help us get where we are now? If so why aren't they in the guild? If you can't make a commitment to our guild, you aren't as important. I'm not saying you aren't important at all. Just that pugs are in no way more important than the people who are willing to be there when it's not fun, when going through wipe after wipe seems to be the game of the evening, because we want to make tomorrow's raid a little easier on ourselves via learned strategy and better gear. Or next month's raid.

Seriously. You'll get your loot eventually. Stop being a baby.

We did another raid last night. Spend a little bit on Obsidian Sanctum. Got Sartharion down in two tries. I was the only person in the raid to get the achievement for dodging the meteors. We got to Anub'Rekhan and downed him in one shot. Took down Faerlina in two tries. I think it took three tries to get Maexxna down, and that's where we stopped for the night.

Right before Maexxna, our resto shaman who was pugging with us decided to throw a fit over out loot rules, which were clearly stated at the beginning of the night. Because he "didn't have a chance" on Boots of the Follower. You know, because resto shamans are all about spirit. Anyway, he got all bitchy and left, which is good for us, we don't want loot whores. It's just the gall of it amazes me.

We replaced him with an elemental shaman and Aegis of Damnation dropped. Our new shaman was quite happy. Irony fills the air.

What I don't understand is, if you're pugging on someone else's guild run, do you expect to get loot over their guildies? Especially in the formative days of raiding where not everything is on farm. I sure don't. They're kind enough to include me on the run, I'll take my Emblems and thank them for the opportunity.

The other thing that bugged me about this guy is how he said he would have rather run with his guild where he "would have had a fair shot at loot." Well why the hell are you running with us? Are you intending to steal our instance ID from us when you get back to your guild?

We run again tonight, so there's probably not going to be any instance theft (we also run fairly early for the server.) But Monday is rather questionable. I think I might contact this guy's guild leader and mention his behavior in Naxx. We'll see if anything comes of it.

In other news, no tank loot has dropped. Go figure. Guess it's more heroics for me! I have a hunter who needs gearing, so I'll probably make him tag along with me as much as possible.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I've been foolishly giving leather to the trader for recipes I'll probably never use

I just thought to myself "Why the heck am I not using Heavy Borean Armor Kits on my head, shoulders and chest to tide me over until I get the good stuff?" They're easy to overlook, mostly because the default armor kits in BC were so irrelevant. But 18 Stamina is nothing to sneeze at, and even a top contender in certain slots (like chest, for example.)

On another note, Be Imba is back up, though there isn't really information about talent specs in it. WoW Heroes has been up for a week or two now, but they are about as informative as the Armory is. And they for some reason think Frosthide Leg Armor is somehow inherently better than Jormungar Leg Reinforcements.

Finally, I have come across an idea for a theorycrafting addon that I hope to be able to develop and release soon. More details are to come, so keep your eyes peeled. This may be something theorycrafters will be able to help package, such that for raiders (and people just looking to maximize their performance) will be able to quickly and most accurately make decisions. That's rather vague, but I will leave it like that until I have more solid footing.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Ironically, the best way to survive was to ditch Survival

So yesterday I threw together a raid night on a whim. Luckily, one of our healers got on just in time that we only had to pug one healer. We tried Sartharion, got him down to about 1k health, and then respawns happened. We cried ourselves a long and swiftly-flowing river, then went over to Naxx, which one of our hunters was locked out of.

First, the WWS of the night. On the overall report, I am second on damage dealt. All the Hunters are Beast Mastery, except the top damage hunter, who was Survival until the last attempt on Anub'Rekhan. She's normally Beast Mastery, and it shows in the report. Suffice it to say, a lot of our problems went away when she specced back and gained about 350 DPS. Yes, in 10-mans, every person makes a difference, and every person needs to be putting out as much DPS/heals as possible.

Obsidian Sanctum was fun, except for the first pull where I incorrectly assumed that the mobs were vulnerable to CC. We got through the trash fairly easily, and the Drakes were pretty easy, except for Tenebron, who we had to make a couple of attempts on.

We get to Sartharion. I give an ever-so-brief account of what happens ("If it glows, stay away from it") and then off we go. First one goes pretty terribly, as is to be expected. But I think there's a lot to be said for actually experiencing the fight, as opposed to reading about it or watching a video. You just don't really comprehend what you're dealing with until you've tried to deal with it. As such, I usually want to give the briefest of explanations for the first attempt, and then go from there.

We adapted fairly quickly, refining our technique with every pull and learning what we need to communicate to get the raid moving appropriately. Our third attempt, we got him down to ~1000 health, and just couldn't do it. We got close on the next attempt, and then on the fifth one, we had trash respawns so we called it. We were going to call it for the night when I said "Why not try the first boss of Naxx?" Put it to a vote and it was unanimous.

The trash was stupid easy, I screwed up on the first pull and got an extra group and the raid wasn't adversely affected in the slightest. Trash out of the way, we attempted Anub'Rekhan. Again, first fight was a taster, second fight went a little better. It took us until the fourth attempt until we weren't dying, and then we died to the enrage timer. Same for the fifth attempt. It seemed like we didn't have enough DPS. When I asked the hunters what was going on (if you look, they are both below me on try 4, and try 5 doesn't look much better) the answer was that I had them using Aspect of the Wild, which was unnecessary. Also, the hunter that was Survival was still trying to DPS like a hunter who was BM. So we waited while she respecced back to BM. When she got back we made short work of the boss. Loot was distributed, and we ended the night late, but happy to have killed something.

Monday, December 8, 2008

I wish Swipe did 4 times the threat and was on a 6 second cooldown

I was sick yesterday. I didn't feel like blogging the rest of the week. I don't blog on weekends anyway, so the sickness didn't really change that. It did make me contemplate not going to work today, in which case this post might not exist.

I believe I already mentioned I hit 80. A day later, I was in a PuG for a heroic. There was a good tank. Unguilded. I let the run carry through, a little bumpy, but not too bad. Certainly not the tank's fault. I topped the DPS charts, though, and as a tank-specced Druid, this concerns me. But nonetheless, I was happy with myself for beating what must have been a retarded hunter (Seriously, my hunter did as much DPS last time she was in an instance, and she was 70 at the time.) Also I think there was a rogue, but rogues are still figuring out how to do good DPS again, it seems (hint: pad your DPS with Fan of Knives on the big pulls.)

Anyway, where was I? Tank. Good. Unguilded. Like any guild leader cat Druid with a shortage of tanks, I waited until the right moment and then I pounced. I bypassed the application process for this one because I had just seen her play, and I was impressed. She knew her stuff. I daresay, she may even be a better tank than I, but only because she knows all the new content.

We almost have a big enough crew to run Naxx, but I've given the guild until the 18th to work on leveling and gear. That's also plenty of time for me to put writeups of the boss strategies on our guild website.

I've leveled Miyra to 71, but I'm not feeling as enthused about her right now. Maybe it's because I feel out of touch with my guild while I'm on her. As sort of a switch up, I got on my pally, respecced her Ret, and sailed off to Northrend, but not after buying Axe skill so that I could use my Arcanite Ripper. So, armed with only a weapon that I barely know how to equip, let alone use, I go into battle with Northrend mobs. And it works! The little Ret Pally quickly jumps from 1 weapon skill, tearing through mobs without much of a problem.

Now, the only thing I need to change is I need to pick up Seal of Command. I've been using Seal of the Martyr, which is a lot more DPS (my glyphs are spent on Protection) but I can't stand the downtime it generates.

I'm looking forward to getting my Pally up to 80. I can't stand how much AoE tanking needs to be done, spending every GCD on swipe instead of something cooler. I miss the brainless exercise that is Pally tanking (at least when compared to Druid tanking.)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

SPOILER: Blantant Guild Promotion contained within! Will it end well?

I dinged 80 last night. I took a screenshot, but I had no inclination of posting it, as it was last night at 1:30 AM. So no screenshot for you. I will describe it though:

"I'm standing in the cave of The Bone Witch. There is a flashy yellow light looming around me, in the shape of a double helix, though it may not be readily apparent. At the bottom of the screen, you find a little box that appears as though it's trying to be shiny. It contains the phrases 'Achievement Earned' and 'Level 80.' There is a quest up on the screen, 'Find the Ancient Hero.' This quest is ready to be accepted by my character. The experience bar is gone, but the reputation bar hasn't moved to compensate."

It's not quite a thousand words, but you see one level 80 screenshot, you've pretty much seen them all.

The other thing I did before I went to bed is that I crafted my Trollwoven Spaulders. They aren't the prettiest to look at, unless you're only looking at the tooltip, in which case they are quite sexy. I'll probably get to test them out in a heroic tonight, the guild only has six 80s so Naxx will have to wait for now.

Blatant Guild Promotion

Speaking of which, if you are on Sisters of Elune alliance side or would like to maybe transfer to tank for a guild with a good but rather perverse group of people, drop me a line, or go to the guild website.

I haven't said anything about the upcoming armor change, so here goes: I approve. Rawr tells me my armor as current will go up about 4000 points. So it's a nice boost. As a 10-man raider, I don't think I should have to put up with things like Defender's Code being so unbalancing.

That's all for now!

Monday, December 1, 2008

As a Druid of Cenarius, I'm obliged to morally object to this post. My real thoughts? Animals: tasty AND fashionable!

I'm sitting at the eve of 79, with just 2 bars to go. Hitting 79 tonight will be easy, but 80 is probably tomorrow at best. There are a few 80s in guild already but not enough to farm heroics, so I'm working to get there. By the time I do hit 80 we will have enough to do heroics until we start farming Naxx. I'm not sure when to start on Naxx though, if I should wait until we comprise a majority of the run (say about 8 slots or so) or if I should allow my officers time to level (they are sitting at 73 at the moment.) Tough decisions, no?

Anyway, I've spent the past few bars grinding on mobs in Sholazar Basin for skins to make my Eviscerator's set and I thought now would be a good time to share how I leveled/plan to level my leatherworking from 375:

375-390: Frostscale Shoulders, Iceborne Boots, or Nerubian Belt. All of these are 10 leather. Just make whatever sells best. If you're selling to the vendor, then make the shoulders.

390-395: Any of Frostscale Boots, Frostscale Gloves, Iceborne Shoulderpads, Nerubian Boots, Nerubian Shoulders. The highest vending item is the Nerubian Shoulders.

395-400: Any of Arctic Wristguards, Frostscale Bracers, Iceborne Wristguards, Nerubian Bracers. Highest vendor value is the Frostscale Bracers

At this point you can now make Fur Linings. These are great as one Arctic Fur (~40 gold on my server) is one point of Leatherworking until 425. Also, at this point, all orange recipes require Heavy Borean Leather or something more exotic.

400-405: Nerubian Leg Armor. This sells nicely on the Auction House. You could also try to Emboss your legs for points using the Reinforcements instead. In fact, I would do it anyway, since the mats are easy to come by (especially if you've run any Dragonblight instances) and the result is an epic level enchant.

405-410: At this point I would recommend making your Dark pieces, as they are likely upgrades if you meet the requirements and can actually use leatherworking gear. Personally, I made my Dark Arctic Chestpiece and 2 sets of Dark Arctic Leggings, one for DPS and one for tanking. Make a couple more to sell (Dark Frostscale Leggings, Dark Iceborne Leggings, Dark Nerubian Leggings are the cheapest to make) and you should be set.

410-415: The only guaranteed points here are Fur Linings. Buying the Fur and reenchanting your bracers may be the most economical way to level at this point.

415-420: Pack of Endless Pockets. If you are revered with Kalu'ak, make yourself a Trapper's Traveling Pack.

420-425: At this point you should be able to learn some of the recipes sold by the Fur & Leather Trader in Dalaran. Learn the ones appropriate to your class and spec, make them, and emboss the bracers you just made. For example, I made the Eviscerator's Bindings, Facemask, and Chestguard (the shoulders weren't enough of an upgrade.) I then embossed the Bindings with +90 Stamina, as I use them for tanking. These items are pretty well sought after, so if you don't get any benefit, I would recommend buying one pattern and selling 5 of it. The Wristguards are the cheapset to make.

425 and further: At this point I would finish out the rest of your set, or make the epic leg armor kits. Again, chitin is pretty easy to come by, and Arctic Furs are common enough as to be fairly inexpensive on the AH. I would recommend making Frosthide Leg Armors and selling them. When you hit 440, you can learn any recipe currently in the game, so I wouldn't worry too much about hitting 450.

I had a guildie place an order for an entire set of Eviscerator's yesterday, which I'm happy to report got my Leatherworking to 433. Now I just need to finish my set (or at least the ones that are upgrades) and then start selling those armor kits!

The only bad thing is that all the fur you're using for crafting the kits can also be bought for more recipes.

That's all for now.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I don't even want to hear them try to pronounce "Goethe." Or "Eia" for that matter.

Not much to say on the WoW front, except that we got our first 80 in guild. I kinda thought I would be a little closer, if not there by now, but I haven't been taking the time to play. This has allowed my wife to catch up and even surpass me slightly so we can quest together again.

I've played a little on my hunter, and she's doing alright. Didn't break into 71 yet; she's still just a fun little diversion when I can't play Myze. Such is the life of the hunter, the perennial alt. I guess everyone has one, no?

My paladin, Eia, is currently hanging out in Ironforge, doing AH runs for Myze and just hanging out for whenever I need to meet someone in Azeroth.

I went through the intro questline for my death knight, Goethe. Very fast leveling, especially with all the rested she had built up. One thing I don't like about death knights is that the diversity of the attacks seem artificially forced. I'm also concerned about if you can skip one of the opening quests and be gimped for the remainder of your characters life. But I didn't personally miss anything, so I haven't looked into whether this is actually possible.

I'm currently listening to the Twisted Nether podcast, where I am apparently a winner for guessing that the Nano Rhino is a good reminder to work on NaNoWriMo.

As an aside, I started with the conviction to do NaNo, but gave up pretty much before I started (there were some personal issues involved.) But I'm still on the mailing lists. Now the mascot for the DFW area is NaNo Rhinos. So I sort of cheated, because I knew instantly that it's a bad pun (the best kind.) Incidentally, I pronounce the last part as Re-mo, rather than Wry-mo. So I probably would never have come up with it on my own.

Back to the death knight quest line, I will join those around me that recommend you at least do it. Such wonderful storytelling. As the game has only been out a couple of weeks, I will refrain from spoiling directly here, but my favorite moments were A Special Surprise and Where Kings Walk. Except that I didn't know that king Wrynn had moved back to the Keep from the harbor.

I haven't really talked about the death knight herself, so here goes. I chose Night Elf for Shadowmeld. I figure every class without healing ability should have some kind of way to drop combat. This is probably why my hunter is higher than my rogue (shorter cooldown) and why my warrior is way down the totem pole. I made her look just like Myze, only with the different face that allows for the funky color skin. So she looks very similar to her. Until Blizzard lets me tank in caster form, it will have to suffice.

Vehicles are bugged. I've had more than one instance where the action bar didn't show up when mounted. To dismount, you have to exit the game and come back in. And sometimes when you dismount, your player frame isn't there. Maybe I'm alone in my troubles. But they are fun, so it's not to hard to ignore the glitches, but it is something I've had to deal with. There's a quest in Howling Fjord involving a vehicle that's incredibly buggy, to the point that you probably won't be able to complete it. I wasn't.

This rebus was brought to you by the letter E, reminding you that some letters go without saying. And by Viewers Like You.

Finally got to the end of the podcast...

Gah! They cannot pronounce my name! No one can! I'll add "Myzie" to the list of incorrect pronunciations. Others include "Maze" and "Mizz." When it was spelled "Myse" I've had it pronounced "Mice." I probably have the simplest-yet-hardest to pronounce name in WoW. For the record: "Myze" rhymes with "Eyes." Never forget it. As to the other info, yes, I am a guy, and I have 2 Collector's Editions so I'm glad to be getting a different card.

That's it for now, off to go do some work or lunch or something.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Drinking for Two

Last night I went through the two Dragonblight instances, AZ-Nub, and Old Kingdom for the first time. This is the third time tanking in Wrath, and I think I've learned something very important.

Starting with Rage is a huge boon. My current spec drops 2 points of Furor for Improved Mark of the Wild. This is good for soloing. This is fine for Cat DPS, where lag renders some of Furor's full bonus useless. For bears, this is damn near unacceptable.

Now, sure it may be fine for some people. But the groups that I lead are firecrackers. They go for the throat straight out of the gate, and if I'm to feel like a real tank (that is, actually have aggro) I need rage. And I need it NOW. I miss the 10 points at the start of Enrage. When I can't get that, and Furor doesn't pop, I'm screwed for rage. Sure I could sit there and keep shifting until it procs, and I've done that before, but I've had situations where I've shifted six times without a proc (supposedly a 0.4% chance of happening, but statistics is a poor model for randomness in a short term, particularly pseudorandomness,) all while the rest of the group is waiting for the pull.

This spec also corrects a flaw with my last one: I didn't take max ranks of all the talents I took. It's sort of a compulsion of mine.

That said, I'm going back to 5/5 Furor and also dropping Infected Wounds for Intensity. At least at the stage I'm in, threat generation is much more important than the mitigation provided by Infected Wounds, and in raids, it should be even less important as I have a Warrior there to Thunderclap. Also, I'm moving away from Shredding Attacks (which has seen little to no play at this point, oh how I'll miss thee...) and filling out the rest of Rend and Tear. The resultant spec should be satisfactory soloing, and much better in tanking.

The Big Bear Butt was right. My initial gut instinct was right (though I don't think I ever gave it words.) Intensity is huge. Very important for those first few seconds, especially if you have DPS who are above the curve (my Ret Pally is simply amazing, even for a Ret Pally.) Maybe I wouldn't need it so much if I weren't four levels below the hunter. Maybe I wouldn't need it so much if my Ret Pally, who's six levels below the hunter easily out-DPSes him. I'm okay with that though. I just want my Intensity back.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I'm not a Freud to grow up, I'll always be Jung at heart.

I hit 74 last night. You saw it coming.

I discovered upon a couple of interesting applications in the blagoblag that analyze the author of a blog. Typealyzer tells you where the author fits in the Myers-Briggs Socionics model of personality. Most of the authors I read are ESTP like myself (according to the analyzer, I always thought of myself as more of an INTJ.) There are a couple of ISTPs, and I found one INTP, but for the most part, WoW bloggers are in the same mold in the eyes of the Typealyzer.

There is also an area that shows what parts of your brain are in use while writing. Here's my chart:

This would seem to be a veiled attempt at calling my writing boring.

The other one is the GenderAnalyzer, according to which I have a 91% chance to be a man, but also, according to the GenderAnalyzer, 4Haelz (66%), Unbearably HoT (87%) and Resto4Life (79%) are authored by men as well. To be fair, the most recent post on Resto4Life was written by Currant rather than Phaelia.

What does this mean? Well the first thought to pop in my head was that women are deceptive little creatures, and writing in such a way to convey a sense of manliness in order to be deceptive (I think deception is an end for women, rather than a means. This could prove false in the long run.)

The next thought is that typical gamer behavior is commonly associated with male behavior. This is a decent theory, as most of the attention in gaming is garnered by men (or boys, as the case may be.)

Finally, I think I've concluded that while it is a fun little tool, the GenderAnalyzer is mostly crap. My sample size is too small to really make this claim, but thankfully, they have a handy little poll on the page: "Did GenderAnalyzer give the correct result for your blog?" Out of a sample size of 11,104, 5204 (47%) were incorrectly analyzed. With numbers like that, a coin flip is almost as good, and if you slant it slightly toward men (as I'm guessing that a slight majority of bloggers are men,) you can probably get similar or better results.

However, I like the Typealyzer, and I encourage bloggers to put up a copy of your type analysis and your thoughts on the results.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Maybe I'll be on that blogcast someday...

I'm listening to the Twisted Nether blogcast right now, and I thought I would provide an update about my computer.

It seems that for some reason, the first sector of my main boot disk was marked as a Unix storage disk. This made it impossible for the boot loader to find Windows for some reason. Also, the only way to fix it is to either a) hand edit the boot sector with a special tool or b) perform a low-level format to the disk. Guess what I did?

I got a new hard drive and installed Windows on that. I left the old one as it was, but I plan on backing it up and hopefully restoring the old disk with all my settings. I am good to go for leveling, so that will probably take top priority for now :).

So expect me to say I dinged 74 tomorrow. I'm already pretty far behind some of the one-character people in my guild. It makes me worry about when to start raiding, but from what I can tell, it would be as soon as we have 10 80s in the appropriate slots.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Possibly the most malicious software on the planet. (some exaggeration implied)

Apparently the bootsect.exe is not strong enough to eliminate the contagion that is GRUB. And from what I'm told, doing a flat out reinstall of Windows won't do it either. Neither will any amount of Abolish Poison or Remove Curse. No, I have to boot into Linux again and tell GRUB to GTFO from there. You'd think that with such an open philosophy, Linux would make it easy to switch back to Windows should the desire arise. Well, they don't. They have this certain expectation that their product is better (and maybe it is, but it isn't more useful, not for me.) This expectation that "once you Ubuntu, you'll never adieu." Well they're wrong! And their accursed partition-level boot loader is holding my computer hostage until I can exorcise it from my hard drive.

I like the idea of Linux. Some of the implementation details are screwy though. More on WoW when I can purge my computer of the infection that is GRUB.

Monday, November 17, 2008

For easiest setup, avoid Linux like the plague.

I logged off early Sunday with a bar and a half to level 74. Since then my computer has gone out of commission, thanks to Grub, the boot loader included with Linux. Not to say anything bad about Linux, but if you stick it on dual-boot with Windows, things get screwy if you want to revert back to Windows-only, which I had to do due to space requirements. Anyway, this will all be fixed when I get home, so I should be back on this evening.

In other news, I highly recommend XBMC for your home theater needs. It's free, open source, easy to use, and can find information about all those movies you downloaded/ripped. What's more it provides a pretty interface for all of your media.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Tenacity pets are overrated as tanks, apparently.

After some unsuccessful questing the hour after release, I logged on after work yesterday with about half a bar toward 71 and little rested experience. I finished about four hours later with about 5 and a half bars toward 72. I'm not the farthest along in my guild, but I am trying to get there at a reasonable pace. If I didn't go to work today, I could be the first Druid on my server to 80 (Yeah, we're kinda slow.) Last I looked the highest character on the server is a 74 Mage.

There's already at least one 80 in Europe. Crazy people over there.

I did actually consider skipping work to try to be the first Druid on my server to 80, but after they got rid of the titles, there's no real reason to do so, other than the pressure of getting two other characters to 80 and raid ready as soon as possible.

Also, I did decline a guild run to the Nexus, which I think was a mistake, but I hadn't gotten any quests for the instance yet and I wanted to wait until I did. The group fell apart because the closest thing they had to a tank was an underlevel Gorilladin. Next time I get asked, I'm going.

I got off WoW at about 11:00, but I stayed up to 4:30 building my new home theater PC. I decided to go with Ubuntu and MythTV, rather than a Windows-based solution. The problem was that I couldn't get Ubuntu to work properly, kept getting "Failed to initialize HAL!" Eventually I decided to put Windows on, but that REALLY didn't work out. Apparently XP Media Center needs to be activated before you log on the first time, but Windows can't interface with the PC's ethernet port without installing the drivers. Back to Ubuntu. I fell asleep during the install, but I finished it all up after waking up this morning. No HAL errors anymore! Before I left for work, I set it to download updates and drivers.

That covers my night pretty well, so I'll leave it at that. I plan on hitting 72 tonight, running an instance, and getting my home theater properly configured. I don't watch cable, so the PC is pretty much there as an HD input for my TV (it's running DVI to an HDMI port on the TV.) It was pretty cheap to put together. If you have an HDTV and no sources of HD input yet (maybe you just upgraded your TV,) consider building (not buying) your own home theater solution. It's well worth it.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

There was a black guy who said he was nervous when the cops showed up

I went to a midnight release last night to pick up the two copies of the Collector's Edition. I arrived at GameStop to find a long line, which only grew longer as time past. Though the bubbly recording that called said things would start at 10, the doors to the store were not open until 12, after they made sure everyone in line was fully paid up.

After they started things, it all went pretty quickly. My transaction was about 30 seconds. Those Collector's Editions are heavier than they look, by the way. Seems like most everyone in line was horde, too.

After getting home, I installed the game, and started leveling. However, it didn't take long before I developed a sleep-deprived headache and went to bed. So no level 71 for me yet.

More to come tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Death Knight

Oh, one thing to add, I do plan on making a Death Knight, though I don't know when I will do anything with her. His/her name will be Goethe. I will leave it as an exercise for the reader to determine why.

Paladins are simply GUIs for your /castrandom macros

Two days ago, Rohan wrote "[...]it's very annoying to link to someone, and then have them stop posting a little while later."

Fine, fine, I get the picture.

I've had things to say, but I'm still at the point where writing doesn't come naturally to me. I spend a lot time reading blogs, maybe too much, so I figure, maybe I could write this now and THEN start reading for the day. This writing thing just isn't natural for me. This is going to be a random ride.

Better Business Bureau... or Big Bear Butt?
Does anyone else think of Big Bear Butt when the see the Better Business Bureau logo?
Granted, I don't know what he has to do with a torch. But how many of you are going to think of it now? My place of work is accredited by the Big Bear Butt. Is yours?

My Druid, Myze, has tanked her last instance until Wrath, possibly until 80. She is now specced for Cat (for the most part, it's just the more cat-focused part of my 80 tanking tree.) I was supposed to tank with her in ZA last night, but my baby had other plans. She wasn't feeling well so I took the night off to tend to her. My guild then ran around like a headless chicken, screaming how they didn't want to do ZA without their familiar bear tank. (I should mention at this point that I'm the only person in guild whose main is a tank.) Anyway, they finally manage to get off the ground, for the most part on time. And you know what? They did just as well, if not better than when I went with them the last couple times. Of course I wasn't the only regular who wasn't there, so it's not entirely me holding them back. Actually to be honest, we usually get the first three chests and then go leisurely through the rest of the instance. They actually pushed for Lynx's chest, which I think contributed to them finishing about 15 minutes earlier than expected. Again, they did a good job, and I was proud of them all, and I let them know that.

Miyra, my troll hunter, who has her hunter license suspended by BRK due to a lack of scope on her ranged weapon, is finally doing well. First off, why no scope? Well, it's because I spent the longest time ignoring all enchants and anything else unnecessary for my epic flier. If I needed gems, I'd buy them from the vendor. Her gear languished for quite a while, as I couldn't get her into a guild with a foothold in Kara. Until the invasion event. I managed to get all four of the Blessed pieces for her in one night, basically through my magnificent luck. I also pugged a really unsuccessful Kara that night. We had a good tank up to Curator, but she had to leave, but replaced herself with a tank she "could not vouch for." A tank with 10007 health. He was awful. He actually ditched the run before anyone else.

My hunter's gear is terrible, but still, she lead in DPS that night. And the Heroic MgT I ran the next night. And the Gruul's I ran after the MgT. Over a T5-geared, fully enchanted Rogue. Beast Master Hunters rock, I guess. Actually, she also kept damage over another Beast Master Hunter in Kara last Saturday, who was better geared than I. But it was very slim, a difference of ~50,000 damage for the whole night. The deciding factor? I had a Devilsaur, and he had a Cat. He also probably used Volley too much.

I do want to mention something about heroic Magister's Terrace. I know it doesn't really matter anymore, but on the second boss, Vexallus, pets are REALLY good as soaking pure energy. Just make a macro that says "/petattack [target=Pure Energy]" and spam it the whole fight. Resume normal DPS on Vexallus. WIN!

My Pally, Eia, the third planned 80, is almost fully epicced out, not that it really matters too much. I'm pretty sure I'm going Ret with her to level, in which case, she'll be in greens and blues. I'm still not sure if it's the right way to go, though I know if I stay Prot, Sanctuary is definitely the leveling Blessing due to the mana return on mitigated hits. I would be happy if, on our final trek through Karazhan tomorrow, both Moroes' Lucky Pocket Watch and the T4 headpiece dropped. Then I would have 2 characters in all purple. (5 if you count Myze's 4 possible specs and the associated sets I have for them.) Again, though, doesn't really matter as Thursday will start the fast and furious race to 80.

So there you have it. I've been playing, I haven't been in a rut. I'm not about to emo quit the game or anything like that. I'm just lying in wait, and trying to avoid getting in over my head thoerycrafting. There shall be more to come as I level my characters. Maybe I'll have something new to share. Maybe I'll be able to earn my Hunter license, but I doubt it. The only scopes they ever put up on the AH are the Crude and Standard ones. And if I'm already leading in damage in every group I'm in, are those really worth the money and effort? At least I got my quiver.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The new DPS and Glyphs

DPS is going to change. No longer can you simply Mangle and then Shred to maybe 4 points, maybe 5 points. All of a sudden Rake is quite viable. And Tiger's Fury means something! Not that you'll have to dredge it out of your spellbooks; it's instant, no cast, no global cooldown. Just macro it to your favorite ability (or all of them!) and you'll have it up as often as is relevant to you. Obviously you don't quite want to do that if you're taking King of the Jungle, what with all that wasted energy, but I'm not so I probably will for a while at least.

A good post about the new DPS cycle is over at Of Teeth and Claws, so I won't try to repeat all of it. Basically, our DPS cycle becomes more of a priority list. The simplified version:

1. Tiger's Fury
2. Mangle
3. Savage Roar (on more than 2 points only)
4. Rip (on 5 points only)
5. Rake
6. Shred

Basically you want all buffs and debuffs up, and if they are (or on cooldown in Tiger's Fury's case,) Shred. The start of your rotation should look like this:

Tiger's Fury + Mangle (macro'd!)
Savage Roar (only if Mangle crit)
Savage Roar (only if Mangle didn't crit)
Shred to 5 points

Obviously without Savage Roar before level 75. They should call it Hack and Slash to match the rhythm of Slice and Dice, but whatever.

I ran some DPS tests with a rotation similar to this and found I was doing about 940 DPS, which is a solid improvement despite no longer having Omen of Clarity at my disposal. I no longer expect to be both my guild's top tank and DPS. That's fine with me.

With the patch a lot of other preparation needs to be made. For example, I need to back up my macros because they will be hosted server side now, and I don't want the patch to destroy them. I have also updated my loot lists for my Druid and Hunter, based on new spreadsheets and Toskk's updated method. I still have to figure out what I want to do with my Paladin, and there's no time left! Oh well, at least I have all my talents figured out, that's good enough for now.

One other thing to look at is Glyphs. Being Druids, we really don't have as many glyphs that directly affect us as other classes do. This makes glyph selection considerably easier for us. Our glyphs:

Glyph of Frenzied Regeneration
Glyph of Maul
Glyph of Rake
Glyph of Rip
Glyph of Shred

I intend to take the Maul and Rip glyphs, with intentions to take the Mangle one later on at 80. This is because I believe the other effects are not meant for PvE (Shred) or useless (Rake) or redundant (Growl, assuming it's still affected by hit rating and expertise.) In any case, I think the effects of these glyphs are just more useful in general, since I plan on being flexible enough to be a good DPS. As for the minor glyphs, I plan on going with Challenging Roar, though if something better comes along, it's the first to go, Thorns so that I may actually start using the spell, and Unburdened Rebirth, because it's the best thing to happen to Rebirth since the cooldown was lowered.

Those are my plans for tomorrow (though I guess it's now today, I started writing this at work, but now I'm at home with finally a peaceful moment to myself.) Maybe tomorrow I'll make up some statistics and use them to prove that Eclipse is the central defining talent for Moonkin. You have been warned.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Rend and Tear

When I first saw Rend and Tear, I wasn't too impressed, at least from a tanking standpoint. You see, for some reason, in the back of my head, I've always thought of Mangle as producing more threat. Well, with all this talk of Rend and Tear being such an awesome talent for bear threat, I decided to look into it. Here's a fairly representative report of Druid threat, taken from a Brutallus fight:

Clearly, Maul produces the most threat, about 38% of the threat for the Druid's entire rotation. What does Rend and Tear do for this? Well, the damage goes, up and the innate threat stays the same. Since Lacerate is up pretty much all the time, it's like a flat 20% increase to Maul damage. In the case of the druid above, this increases Maul threat by about 16%. This is about a 6.2% increase in threat overall.

This seems like a decent use of talent points. You get about 1.2% threat per point. But, we're not through yet. You see, any self respecting tank will also take Imp. Mangle, which increases Mangle to occur 33% more often. This will increase the amount of damage done by mangle another 33% on average. Maul still goes up 16% with the addition of Rend and Tear. It's just that the impact of this is less, with Mangle doing more damage. In fact, in this case, Rend and Tear is only a 5.8% increase in threat.

We're still not through. Apparently, all the threat modifiers have changed. Let's rework this table to see what the change looks like all around.

With all these changes, looks like Rend and Tear is about a 5.7% increase in total threat. I can't prove this with numbers right now, but Mangle - Bear seems to be doing a lot more damage on the PTR than it used to. However, this is likely due to the Savage Fury change (though the damage seems higher than 20% more.) We'll leave the analysis here though.

I'm still undecided about moving those points. If a 5.7% threat increase is what you need to keep above the DPS as a bear, there's something wrong with your threat. Still, it does allow for more DPS to the boss. I suppose I will have to wait and see how my guild's DPS shapes up in the expansion.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Why convention is convention

So after trying to run Savant as a totally different, unique, 10-man guild that doesn't over recruit and doesn't depend on anything outside of the game to communicate, I've come to the realization that a lot of these things are done by a lot of guilds because its easiest to do it that way. And it works.

As such, Savant is becoming a more conventional guild. Some things I've learned:

- It's impossible to get as many reliable people as you need. Even if that number is only 10.
- You NEED forums if you want to discuss guild matters with your guild.
- Raiding only twice a week is perfectly fine, and trying to be as little of an influence on people's lives as possible makes it pretty easy to get good, fun-lovin' folks.
- Raids will never start when they're supposed to as long as you don't have a full guild.

All in all, I've learned quite a bit, a lot more than my false start trying to run SNAFU. Savant now has a website (which of course needs work.) We now have a clear plan of how many we want to recruit and of what class.

I think this is the best time to try something a little risky, it's sort of like a pregame for WotLK right now, and you have two 10-man instances to try your organization on. If you are thinking of doing something off the beaten path, now's your chance.

The only thing I'm gonna have to figure out when Wrath hits, is how will I deal with people who level especially slowly?

Monday, September 29, 2008

10 minute blog post

Short post, so let's get to it.

My paladin, Eia, has hit 70. She leveled pretty much all of level 69 in about 3 hours in Netherstorm, first doing Area 52, then doing Kirin'Var. She did this as Ret, with the help of a Rogue guildie who remained out of party to let me get the whole amount of experience.

Within moments of hitting 70, she was respecced Prot and made uncrittable via a combination of Defense and Resilience. I'm trying to take her into Kara this week, so that of course wasn't enough. After a few instances, she now has ~495 defense and the Continuum Blade, which will have to do until I can get the S2 mace. I'm starting to hate AV. Even so, she probably won't be good enough to tank for a little bit, until I can get her avoidance up higher, but golly, I'm gonna try!

Another thing of note is that my horde hunter, Miyra, has made enough gold (with a little help from the other side) to buy her epic flying. This is a character with no professions, and aside from a lucky epic gun drop on the other side (so I lost 15% of the money from it to the neutral AH) she earned her epic flight in ~3 days /played time. No raid gear or anything like that, either. If it weren't for the drop, it would probably be more like 4 days, but still, that's not bad considering there was still instance running time and all that.

Well, that's really all I wanted to say for now.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Been awhile

Wow, this spot has been empty for about a month! Not a good start, but I have to get back into it. I'm letting my 17 subscribers down!

My Paladin is on the cusp of level 70. I took her into Kara anyway, where absolutely no Plate dropped, but I did get a healing Libram off of Opera and my T4 gloves off of Curator. I'm specced Ret right now, to aid in leveling. I expect to be 70 before Saturday night. My wife is leveling her as we speak (She's so nice!) When I hit 70, I will start tanking Karazhan on her, and work on her gear. Fortunately we have a good Pally that can tank the harder fights until I get up there.

I've been on the PTR, just messing around, and I say I approve. Berserk is probably the coolest thing to happen to bear form, being able to spam Mangle on three target is just pure awesome. I haven't really been able to test the DPS of Cat form yet, but it looks promising. For reference, my build on the PTR. I will talk about it in a little bit.

I did happen to spec balance for a little bit, and I'm impressed with how well I've been able to do. It hasn't really gone much beyond the Ogres above Shattrath, but even the elites up there were pushovers. I'm happy that wrath will mean only one set of caster gear, though I doubt I could responsibly reduce my tank and DPS sets to one set. There will be overlap, though. (There kind of is right now, I have the Gauntlets of Malorne in both sets, and two differently gemmed and enchanted Stag-Helms of Malorne. But as far as caster stuff goes, for all I care it's all one set. I'm sure some Boomkins and Treefolk will disagree with me.

My PTR set consisted of a mix between my current healing and balance gear, and I topped out with 980 spellpower, which I don't think is bad at all. Wrath was critting for 2k, but I wasn't really impressed with Starfire cast time/damage ratio compared to Wrath. For reference, I used a balance build similar to the one posted on Gray Matter recently (under the heading My Mock Raid Build.) Basically I took the same balance tree then started going up restoration.

As far as Savant goes, we're chugging along. We had a really good week where we cleared Karazhan, then went on to kill Akil'zon and Nalorakk in ZA. I've finally got off my ass and made a website for Savant, but I'm sure the use of it will be slow for a while. I think it will basically be a forum to discuss happenings and random crap and nothing more. Which is fine by me. I'm using MyGuildHost because they are the same folks that run our vent, UGT Servers. The Vent servers are reliable, and the web hosting is pretty good. If you want to get something usable up right away, it's very easy using their platform. But if you want to customize it, you may be frustrated at your limitations, especially if you do web development for a living. =~_n= All in all, it's good enough that I don't have any major complaints, just some bug reports to file with them (the Guild code that lets a member skip approval doesn't seem to work right now.)

Now, about the Feral build. I may be naive, but I'm hoping for a build that still allows me to be good DPS and good Tanking, with a leaning toward Tanking. To that end, I believe I have the important talents for tanking, or will take them before 80. I also try to maximize DPS per talent point where I can. From my previous build, I'm going to take Omen of Clarity at 71 (for leveling, yeah!) and then Predatory Instincts, Feral Instinct, and King of the Jungle. This is deeper into Feral than I expected to go, but I believe it is best.

The biggest thing I miss out on is Intensity (Master Shapeshifter will always be seen as a 5 point talent to me, and thus not worth the points, since Natural Shapeshifter is all but useless in PvE, especially with the downfall of Powershifting.) To me, Intesity was the only thing that let me heal instances in my Feral Spec. Now, I will have no mana regen, and therefore cannot possibly keep up with my meager mana bar. But that's okay, you don't go Feral to heal. Oh yeah, Enrage won't generate the extra 10 rage, but I don't think that will be an issue.

I don't think there's been anything in that tree that hasn't been touched on by other bloggers, and I don't really have a perspective on it since I'm not in the beta. But if you look to my blogroll, you will see the best of what I read regularly. And there you will find all the theorycraft your heart desires.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Karazhan Part 2

Wow, what a run through Karazhan.

Here's the WWS Parse.

As you can see, we started the evening with only six people. Well, we did Illhoof with six people. We had Anberlin tanking for us for a bit, but he had to depart before we got to the first boss of the evening. As you can see from the results, we wiped twice before calling in reinforcements (I maintain a three-wipe limit on optional bosses.) Our friend Qetesh called in a rogue and Druid pair who we knew better as a Pally and a Priest, respectively. As these were not their mains, the performance was a little lower than usual, but any help is welcome. Additionally we picked up a Warlock who was playing on his main and did an awesome job.

After those pickups, Illhoof was easy, and we moved on to Shade. Our first problem with Shade was that for some reason, he seemed to be dealing a LOT of damage. Of course, looking at WWS indicates that he really wasn't doing anymore damage than normal. Our Paladin, Besideme, who had been playing his rogue, Kayal, switched over to his wife's mage, Smidgie, to get mroe damage going. And wow did he ever. I died somewhere in the middle of the fight, and we ended up downing Shade with only four people remaining.

Chess went super easy, and the shoulders went to Kayal, who at the time was 68 (this is actually a good point to keep in mind looking at all of his data. He did really well for his level, even being able to compete with his 70 counterpart on the Illhoof fight.)

Prince was really easy, as always. We one shot him, and the infernal spawns are particularly lucky. This is the second week I asked the mages and hunters to Invis and Feign Death so that I could Zen Tank and hopefully reduce parries during phase 2. He did Parry 42 times, but I'm not sure if those were all me, and during what phases they occurred (they don't really matter so much in phase 1 and 3.)

An interesting observation, my actual dodge rate is about 5% lower than what was printed on my character sheet, but the Miss rate was huge.

When Prince died, I quickly looked at the loot, and seeing the bow had dropped, I gave to the hunter who had joined us, since she had made it clear beforehand that she wanted it. However, she doesn't notice this, and the exchange goes a little something like this (paraphrasing):

Her: Drat, the bow didn't drop again.
Me: Check your bags.
Her: WTF!

The T4 helm went to the Warlock, and, not having a second tank, we decided not to do Netherspite. A few minutes after we all left, Anberlin logs on to see if we've finished or not.

Oh well, we'll get him next week.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Druid DPS in Karazhan

Another Karazhan report, this time powered by WoWWebStats.

WWS Parse

WWS is a wonderful tool, and pretty easy to use. If you haven't tried it yet, I suggest you do.

Now looking at this report, I think I should make it clear that Savant could care less about trash. That is to say, performance can only truly be measured in boss fights. Why is this? Because trash mobs are too easy. Once you get it down, it's just a matter of clearing it to get to the boss. It doesn't matter if you're first in DPS when you're fifth when everyone else starts trying.

Now, this may be the reason why we only got to Curator, but I feel it is necessary to allow for AFKs when it doesn't hurt the raid. Not to mention I require them myself. As a side note, a player abusing this policy is hurting the raid, so that's not allowed.

This time I did not tank. I was going to have Anberlin and Besideme tank, since Besideme showed up as Protection spec from a run the night before. However, when we came to look for a pug, I picked up a good tank by the name of Pinchy and made Besideme respec to Retribution. So our tanks this time were known, trusted individuals, unlike when I pugged the Warrior and Pally last week.

I pride myself on being the best Druid I can be. That's why when I look at the report for "all bosses" I can't help but feel bad I'm in second on DPS. I know the reason why: I died on Attumen. Without that death, or at least if it weren't so early, I would have surpassed my peers. Not that that is my goal, but I figure if I'm beating everyone else, I'm doing all right.

Though to be honest, I think we all put together a nice shiny run, and I have the WWS to prove it.

We started out as a seven man run, with Andreya joining in the middle of Attumen trash. We actually did wipe on the trash, so we took the opportunity to summon him from a flight to Duskwood. For some reason it takes us a little bit to get warmed up. However we clear through the trash and get to Midnight. Anberlin makes the pull and Pinchy is supposed to pick up Attumen. But, when Attumen comes out, he heads over to Nodin, and kills him. I try to pick him up but I forget that I'm still in cat form and thus die a swift death. I think he took out Smidgie shortly thereafter. So that left us with 1 healer, 2 tanks, 2 DPS, and the longest Attumen fight I've ever witnessed. Made worse by the fact that I was watching from the floor.

By the time we got to Moroes, our other Retribution Paladin has come in and started kicking ass. now to be honest, Argeryth is a bit below the rest of the DPS, but that's because the rest of the DPS are above the curve, in my opinion. He just represents the average Karazhan raider.

Moroes presents us with Women and Warriors. The trash dies pretty quick and we clean up Moroes with no problems. As always, I lead in damage and not in DPS. I always wonder to myself (and sometimes out loud) if our mages just can't start DPS earlier. But they do pretty well as is and they are still better than most DPS on their gear level.

On to Maiden. We actually wiped with about 5000 health left on Maiden the first time because there were not enough HoT's on the tank during Repentance. I ask our Druid what was going on with the healing, and he pretty quickly admitted things were not as they should be, and he didn't keep enough HoTs up. I am astonished to find out later that he only used Lifebloom for both fights.

On the second fight, we finish without a hitch, a full minute faster than we spent on the fight before. I somehow pump out more than 1000 DPS. I rejoice. Andreya swapped out for Tencice, his Warlock main, which was very useful when we added our tenth member, a healer named Cae.

When we did opera we were dismayed to find out that it was the Wizard of Oz. Now Wizard of Oz is probably the easiest fight for Opera, but we've faced it every time we've done Opera so far, except twice when it was Big Bad Wolf. So every time we go in, we hope for Romulo and Julianne, just for something we haven't done before.

Nightbane is always fun. There's usually a healer dying or something like that when the adds appear. This time, however, everything went smoothly. Pinchy had a couple of issues with positioning Nightbane, as the report indicates, with pulled off a flawless victory.

Curator is truly where Warlocks shine. Typically, when I'm tanking Curator, I bolt tank in cat form and in DPS gear, with Salv up (trust me, I need it.) Last week, when I did that, I probably did about 1200 DPS for the whole fight. This week, I'm chasing flares and "only" doing 988 DPS. Meanwhile, our resident Warlock goes "Curse of Doom" for 26664 and shoots 1000 DPS above everyone else. Cheater.

Last night went smooth, and I encourage every raid that is missing members to just plug on and see how far you can get. Not everyone is as well geared for what we are doing as Savant is, but still, it's better to try and fail than not to try at all. Unless you already failed to the point of frustration. Then you could probably use a break.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Leveling Made Easy

Yesterday, I came home after a busy day of work and grocery shopping and settled down to play with the baby. I watched an episode of NewsRadio on Hulu, and ate a nice dinner. Then I hopped on WoW. I did Arenas with my wife. Second week of doing so, and we went 4-6, not too bad. I helped a friend with a group quest. Then I hopped on my Pally and leveled from 56 to 60.

Wait, what?

No, you aren't misreading that. I had a busy day and still managed to squeeze in four levels. I even managed to get to bed at a decent time. And I will explain how.

You may have heard of a fellow called Athene. Athene is most notable in this discussion as the guy who pushed leveling to a refined art. He had originally posted a 1-70 of 1 day and 19 hours. Then, when an enterprising Druid with a whole guild to support him took 15 hours off the record, Athene went and best that record, very shortly afterward, with only his two friends to help him. Athene has a whole host of videos, but not one says how he did it. He does mention mobtagging, where you attack a mob that is green to a 70, and they kill it for you. And you get the full experience. This requires a mob of level 62 or higher. Bonus points for elites.

If you look around Athene's forums, you may eventually come across this post which details a plan for leveling from 1 to 70 in under 24 hours. Most of it requires a Paladin and a mage, but once you can get to Slave Pens (or a little later for classes without Avenger's Shield) you should head there and level to 70. Here's what I did:

First, I created a macro as follows:

/script LeaveParty()
/cast Avenger's Shield

I would use this macro to pull mobs. I had another Paladin Taunt the mobs off me, and use a macro probably like the following:

/i Eia
/cast Judgement

(/i is the short command for /invite.) I would wait until all the mobs were killed before accepting the invite. Additionally, I would wait for the "teleport box" to disappear before doing another pull. Four pulls were handled with Consecration or Judgement of Righteousness. All in all it was very smooth. We pulled everything up to the bridge and then went out and reset. To watch the idea in action this video shows the process, though not quite how we did it (I think we went a little faster.) It has a couple of superfluous elements that don't matter if you're leveling a Protection Paladin, like Frost Trap. Our setup was me, other Pally, Enhancement Shaman, Feral Druid, and Holy Priest. You gotta have a healer, and you have to have enough DPS to take down a pull in under 40 seconds. That's the only real requirement. The results?

When I started this endeavor last night, I had already spent about half an hour in level 56 doing nothing. I had about 1000 experience in, so I couldn't get a good time for level 56, but I did keep track of the times I dinged 57-60. I don't have the exact figures, but this table illustrates the amount of time taken per level to the minute:

5720 minutes
5816 minutes
5930 minutes

What happened on level 59? We took a break as our Pally was putting his wife to bed. All told, I spent about an hour and a half leveling. Additionally, I got three Spellfire Longswords, one of which will come in handy should I decide to level legitimately at any point past level 62.

The good thing about this method is that it's very efficient. I don't think anyone like finishing in Azeroth, knowing that Outland is right there, and the gear is so much better. And 4 levels in an hour and a half is nothing to sneeze at.

The bad thing about this is that you don't get much other than experience points. If you don't look into your class and research it, you will be at the same disadvantage as an eBayer when you get to 70. Additionally, your friends may resent you for dragging them through the boring task of doing the same thing over and over for hours. Which does bring me to another point.

Leveling like this is pretty damn selfish, as you are asking four other people to basically carry you through 55-70 (or however long you choose to milk it,) without a single tangible benefit to themselves, so you either better be calling in favors owed to you, or you owe your group some heavy favors in return. If you don't have four people who really like to spend time with you, you probably won't be able to pull this off.

If you can, though, I would recommend it on the sole condition that you already have a 70 or two. Additionally, it will probably help if you are leveling a class for which you already know how to perform the role. As for me, I'll probably spend a few levels getting used to BC Pally tanking, and then at least one friend has offered to blitz me to 70 over the weekend. I'll let you know how that goes.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Never Pug a Main Tank


Last week, on Kara, our Warrior failed to show up. It was later revealed that his account ran out, to all's good, but that week was a pretty bad run.

Okay, the Thursday half was pretty bad. And when I say that, it's not because we kept wiping, because we didn't wipe at all (except maybe once on Moroes, I really don't remember.) It's because the tanks kept dragging things out. And it was long and slow.

Did I mention I didn't tank Thursday? I asked for 3 members for Kara, as we were good on healers and had one tank. We got 3 tanks and one DPS asking to come. What's more, one of the tanks was a seasoned Warrior with the Champion of the Naaru title and some pretty nice T4 level gear. Well, turns out, he was an okay tank, but didn't know the fights too well. And I had to keep pushing for them to pull. It was long and slow, and by the time we got to Maiden, pretty much everyone in the guild wanted to call it off for the night.

Flash forward to the next night. I decide that we should just go with what we have and just seven man it. Well, we picked up the Pally tank we got last night just in case, and we ended up rocking the whole place. The Pally tank DC'd before Chess, but we finished it all pretty well, and this has given me the confidence to take us into next week, even though we only have eight members right now. Of course, we'll still be trying to find a healer that can come on permanently...

Friday, August 15, 2008

Aspect of the Druid

In Wrath of the Lich King, there will be inscriptions that will change the appearance of various forms. This will likely be the most minor form of inscription. There will also only be two options. If we want to change our Bear form and Cat form, we won't be able to do anything else on such a minor level. That seems like sort of a waste to me. Likewise, if we find something else cool on that inscription level, we will have to choose between Bear or Cat form for the visual change. One would think we should be able to have any number of Cosmetic inscriptions. But that's only an aside to what I'm thinking about.

I would be very happy if Blizzard included an inscription that did something like the following: Instead of shapeshifting, the Druid takes on the attributes of the animal that is being mimicked. If they take on the attributes of a bear for example, they get all the abilities of Bear form, the armor increase, all the associated damage, etc. Basically, they would be in bear form, but with the appearance and animations of caster form. Same thing with any other form. For now, I'll call them "Aspects." Nevermind the crappy (in comparison) hunter aspects.

I think this would be popular among a lot of Druids, but not all of them. There would still be some that want to turn into animals. And that's fine. I like changing into animals, too. I hate changing into a tree, but I think Moonkin form is all right. Okay, only for dancing. But 71 levels of the same Bear model is enough for me. (They are changing the way Dire Bear looks, though, aren't they?)

The Aspects would also disappear if you were to cast something outside of the scope of the form. Like casting Wrath in Tree of Life Aspect, or using any spell in a Feral Aspect.

Obviously, this has the potential to be confusing, so some visual cue of the Aspect would be helpful. Like you could have different color tints for each form. Maybe a ground texture under the Druid. This is why I'm not a graphic designer.

This one change would offer more variety and be cheaper for Blizzard to implement than adding new models of various types for each form. And since a lot of caster form specialties can now be used in feral forms (consumables, procs, etc.,) this change wouldn't be especially misleading in terms of the things you can do with it. Autoshapeshifting for abilities is also already in place, dropping an Aspect when you cast a spell out of scope for it is just a logical extension of that concept.

I would welcome the chance to admire my armor in combat and swing with an honest-to-God weapon. One of my favorite debuffs is Brittle Bones, the debuff you get from the Skeletal Waiters in Moroes' room. Why? Well, I think it's a thrill tanking with 0 armor, but other than that, I get to see my character attack! Granted, it's a skeleton, and looks nothing like my Night Elf, but it's still very awesome.

I think this Inscription would be a good idea, and if you like it, I encourage you to pass it around, and try to bring it to the attention of Blizzard. Hopefully, if there's enough appeal, we could get Blizzard to do something about it. This does bring up another question though... I know that there are fan-made models for the Druid forms, is there a fan made patch that already does this?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Missing in Action

I have two Priest healers in Savant. They are both good healers, and very nice people. However, they have been missing for a little bit. Obviously this is disruptive to the guild, as it would be to any guild, but for us in particular.

Savant does not recruit any extra players. Were we doing 25-man content, this would be ridiculous. But we aren't, so I feel this isn't too bad an arrangement. Naturally, this comes with having to pug players every now and again as people take time off from the game or can't make a raid for whatever reason. However, when a player is gone for an extended period of time, eventually they will have to be removed.

In this case, removal is particularly hard, though the difficulty will help me to make a removal philosophy I can adhere to. The first priest disappeared as the result of a sudden move on her part, without going into too much detail. The second was last heard from bedridden, and I don't know what is going on with her.

Eventually, however, the guild will have to move on, and find two other people if the previous folks do not show their faces, or let us know to hold their spots. As such, I will mark them inactive after two weeks, and remove them after another two weeks. I sincerely hope it won't come to that, but I think that is the longest time we can go before picking ourselves back up and recruiting.

Incidentally, I met an unguilded healer earlier this week, and I invited her to Kara. Unfortunately, I forgot her name! Hopefully, it will work out for us tonight.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Out to Lunch

I would have a real post here (trying to write every weekday!) but work was busy today and I am busy upgrading my wife's computer and my computer to 3Ghz Core 2 Duos.

Ta ta!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

What's new in the Beta

Even though I'm not in the beta, nor do I have plans to be, I do want to keep tabs on the new abilities and changes coming out so that I will have a solid plan come release day. For example, I can say with great certainty that I will probably want to make room on my bar for Revive, it looks kinda good.

It's no good to far ahead, for example if you listen to what a developer has to say about changes they might possibly implement one day, you might end up thinking the sky is falling, and that your dearly beloved Druid has been reduced to the lowly rank of Herb Mule. So I will stick to what has been implemented, and what is out on the beta.

On the 8th, released a new patch for the beta. I've already looked at the talents and what's out, so we'll skip that and just look at the new stuff for today. According to WotLK Wiki, this is the extent of the damage for Ferals:

  • Swipe damage has been slightly reduced (120 to 108 for rank 8 ).
  • Maim now interrupts the victim's spellcasting for 3 seconds.
  • Feral Instinct increases swipe damage by 10/20/30% now. (Previously was 5/10/15%.)
  • Feral Swiftness speed increase now works indoors.
  • Savage Fury now increases damage caused by Mangle (Bear) and Maul in addition to the previous abilities.
  • Infected Wounds reduces attack speed by 4% and stacks up to 5 times. (Previously was 3%)

That's not too bad, let's look at the changes in detail.

Swipe seems to have gotten nerfed, so let's look at the other change to be sure. Feral Instinct (now no longer with a threat component) received double the damage increase to Swipe. Old swipe did 120 + 15% for a grand total of 138 damage per swing. Now, it does 108 + 30% for a grand total of 140.4 damage. This is a buff for sure, though the base difference is too low to really notice. I imagine it begins to show with more AP, as the new version of the talent should provide for more scalability (assuming of course that the 30% is calculated after the AP bonus. If not, well phooey.)

Maim now interrupts the target's spellcasting for 3 seconds. Thank. God. We've needed some kind of interrupt for sometime now. You know, one that didn't require you to run out 8 yards first. Though this requires combo points, with careful planning, you will be able to use this effectively whenever needed at the cost of some, if not all, of your rip DPS. That's not insignificant, but such is the cost of utility. Try to opt for Kicks, Pummels, and Counterspells first if you can.

Feral Swiftness now works indoors. I don't think this will change much on the PvE side of things. Maybe Druids will be called in to rez the whole raid now, especially if there are respawns. This will be bad. I hate the punks that just sit there waiting while the healer runs back. But I doubt this will really be the case.

Savage Fury now affecting Bears, too... hmm... this is reminiscent of when the talent was first introduced, I think, though that version affected Swipe, too. Anyway, apparently Bear threat is gonna need the extra oomph in the expansion. This change makes the talent worth looking over again.

I think Infected Wounds is a great talent, assuming the attack speed component works on bosses (I doubt the slowing component will.) If that is the case, this is a decent buff that speaks for itself.

  • Omen of Clarity now only procs off Spells and autoattacks. (Previously was Spells and any attack)

And I almost missed it, but the change to Omen of Clarity is exclusively a Feral nerf. I don't have too much of a problem with it though. I do wonder if Blizzard will ever change it too an untalented passive skill. The only reason I can think of right now that it's not is to force a Druid into restoration if they want this talent at level 20.

All in all, Ferals still aren't walking away gimped or forced into a choice between Cat and Bear. While the talents we are receiving are mostly rehashes of stuff from other classes, that's okay with me. After all, the entire basis of the Druid class is unique, and while there are imitators, nobody changes roles as quickly and as sharply as we do.

Monday, August 11, 2008

On leveling Paladins

Over the weekend, my Paladin, Eia, recently jumped from ~44 or so to 50. I've been making the push to get my Paladin up both because I want to try Paladin tanking and because one would be very useful to Savant as venture forth into Zul'Aman.

Eia has been Retribution for that time, and while the damage was decent, something just wasn't clicking for me. I think Coriel touched upon it in his article "Revamping Paladins by Upgrading Abilities." Basically, until you hit 50, there's just no action leveling Retribution. Sure you'll occasionally run across an undead or demon that you can Exorcise, but that's kinda rare in the mid 40s, when you're questing in Tanaris, Feralas, and the Hinterlands. Most fights are Auto-attack and Judge every 8 seconds.

I got Crusader strike, and it was pretty nice, but rather underwhelming. Maybe it's that I expected some cool animation and got nothing. Maybe it's that the damage is about 2/3 what I judge for. I understand that it is a solid DPS increase, but somehow just disappointed me. So not more than an hour after talenting into Crusader Strike, I respecced to Protection.

Protection is very interesting, not in how it plays, but rather how it plays in comparison to Retribution. There are more cooldowns to manage, though you could pretty easily boil combat down to Judge and Holy Shield every 10 seconds. However, it feels like with a Protection that you can kill four mobs in the time it takes a Retribution Pally to kill two mobs. Or, as a Protection, you could kill a solo mob in the time in takes a Retribution Pally to kill two mobs. I know that's not really the case, but it's how it feels. You almost want the mobs to be closer together so your mana and your Holy Shield charges are more effectively used.

I also had the opportunity to tank an instance as a Protection Pally. It's pretty easy, though coming from Druid tanking, any other form of tanking is pretty easy. Though I can't form a proper comparison, as Myze was never a tank until Burning Crusade. So I will have to wait until Eia is at least 60. At the rate I'm going, that shouldn't be too far off.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Slowly but Surely

Last night I had Andreya lead. It went pretty well, a couple of trash wipes and a Maiden wipe. But pretty well overall. The only thing that I have issue with was that we moved kind of slowly, which was because we had a high number of AFKs. We went with a 2 healer setup, so the bosses were dying very quick, but when one of the healers goes AFK for a bit, we can't just go on to a boss. Not that that stopped us from trying.

I'm pretty sure that was the main issue, though Andreya is a bit long-winded at times and also not especially firm when it comes to charging into battle. I think if we cut down the amount of time we were hanging out in front of each boss, we would've been able to get to Shade, but we stopped at Curator with 10 minutes left on the clock (we do 6:30 to 10:00, with a 30 minute cushion at the end if we are close to a boss.)

My original intent was to let him do the first night and take over the second night. I think he's under the impression that he'll still be leading tonight, and I guess I don't have a problem with that. So I'll probably just let him finish it out and hope we have enough time to attempt something in ZA.

Thursday, August 7, 2008


Tonight begins Savant's regular 2-day stretch of running. It's usually just Karazhan, with ZA at the end of Friday if there's spare time. I run the raid, which is usually starting late because of having to pug. This is actually the first week we will not have to pug. This is also the first week I will not be running the show.

I believe that delegation is a very important part of running... well, anything. I came from a guild where the guild leader had delegation issues. There was only one officer for the longest time. And it was all right, and eventually it expanded to three officers. But recently, there has been a falling out of sorts with the officers. They were not agreeing with the guild leader, or with each other, and eventually they were all stripped of officer status. Now it's a 40 person or so guild being run by one person. And when you talk to her, or participate in one of her runs, it shows.

Running a guild all by yourself can wear you thin. Even with a guild as small as Savant, I have an officer, Andreya. He hasn't been broken in yet. That's what tonight will be about. I expect he will do quite well, as he was one of the officers in the aforementioned guild.

I think watching a guild run from a different perspective can be a good learning experience. I'm sure Andreya will have a different take on how our group works together. He will have different strategies and different opinions on the important parts of the run. He may wipe us a few times. He may run it better than I do. All of these are good things.

However, delegation is not something to be done lightly. The guild needs to be in a certain rhythm. There needs to be a nice stability to the group. This is where I think I'm treading a delicate line, as this is actually the first week that we will have an entirely regular crew. But that pretty much guarantees a stable run, so Andreya won't have to worry about picking up a pug unless someone has something come up.

Of essential importance to tonight, is that if I see that Andreya is leading us down what I think is the wrong path, I keep that to myself. I do not speak and reassert control of the raid unless suggestions are requested. In which case, all I can do is suggest, where the final decision is left to Andreya. It is very important that Andreya knows I have trust in his leadership. It is also important that the guild has trust in his leadership, and that they know that there is not conflict with the higher ups.

If you've never lead a raid, it's a good experience. It's not as hard as you might think, after all, you're dealing with intelligent people who can adapt and learn what works best. If you've never done it, ask your guild leader if you can lead one someday. Leading isn't for everyone, but I think it's something everyone should try. As for guild leaders, if someone else wants to lead a raid (or if you can talk someone into it,) let them try for one night. As long as you have a foundation of stability, there's not too much they can screw up. And you might find a new officer to hand the reins to when you need to take a night off.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Feral in the Future

I've been looking over the Druid forums recently. This is something that I have not done for a while and now I remember why. Seems that there are quite a few posts bitching about how Feral Druids suck now/in the future/for all of time. Poppycock. I'm currently the Cornerstone of Awesome.

When I was in Armored, I was THE Main Tank. I was given to tanking everything, a job I was quite happy with. I remember tanking Void Reaver, and going 4 or 5 blasts before finally losing aggro. You know how it's supposed to switch after each blast? Well, not for me.

And DPS. Let me tell you, on the rare occasion where my tanking services were not requested, I was consistently at the top. No.1 or No.2 in Damage. Always. And this was before my DPS set was as refined as it is today. Nowadays, if I'm DPSing, I'm leading in damage.

This is true even when I join other guild runs. You know, guilds that are beyond my normal progression level.

And remember how I said I was healing Heroic Sethekk Halls with no problem until the one pull? Well, my wife was helping on a couple of pulls, but you can't expect Feral to be Awesome at Everything. Instead we have to settle with merely Good. Oh and that silly lack of ranged DPS capability.

Now I'm not saying Ferals don't have their problems. PvP seems to be one. But I ignore this as I'm not much into PvP. Cooperation over competition, I say. But that is not the general consensus and I recognize that. For the PvP enthusiasts, Feral is one of the hardest specs to wrap your head around. And the benefits of such complexity are not rewarded by the complete domination of those who have mastered the intricacies of Feral PvP. At least not that I know of.

So the things I have to say do not apply to Feral.

Now, I don't want to speculate too much about WotLK, since anything could change at any time, but one of the complaints I read a few times involves the new talents leading to more specialization in Tanking or DPS. Since the talents are up on the official WoW website, they should be relatively stable. I decided to give them try. You can see the result here.

This is very similar to my current talent tree, though it's harder to come to pure perfection with these new talents. Let's talk about a few of them.

First up is Savage Fury. Savage Fury is pretty useless. 10% more damage on Mangle(Cat) and some abilities I don't use. This was good when it affected Mangle(Bear) because more damage = more threat. Now it doesn't and so it's not worth taking. To see why, let's look at when we use Mangle(Cat).

Mangle(Cat) is used in raids without a Bear tank and when soloing. When there is no Bear tank, Mangle is only used when it is not up, or about every 12 seconds. It accounts for very little of your DPS. 10% of a little is not much. If you were focused on DPS solely, you might drop Brutal Impact for this, but I like the stun for tanking and when soloing, it allows for a consistent Pounce->Mangle->Shred. And when you're soloing, the mobs don't have enough health for that extra 10% to really matter. It's not like that 10% is saving you a few Mangles down the road. It will save you one at best. And not that often. And if you are dropping Tank ability to focus on DPS, you're missing the whole point of being a Feral Druid.

Now I realize that some Druids like to use Rake in their raid DPS rotation. Those are Druids that have lesser DPS than I do. Just because Mangle boosts your bleeds doesn't mean you should use all of them. A Shred crit (and it crits often) is the opportunity cost of using Rake. You get more damage out of Shred than you do out of Rake. And that's all there is to it.

This build loses Primal Tenacity. Well, we lost it anyway. One of the greatest benefits of being a Feral Druid is the combination of Primal Tenacity and Predatory Instincts for and rather large chance to resist AoE fears. This is why we are extremely good against Priests. I've dueled many a Priest and the comment is always "You resisted my Psychic Scream like five times!" And that's just a bonus side effect. This also works well on Nightbane, on the final boss of Black Morass, and others I can't think of right now.

Regardless, the talent has changed and is no longer worth taking for PvE purposes.

Predatory Instincts has not changed, but it now suffers from simply not being as good or useful as other talents. Like Rake, it simply has too high of an opportunity cost.

Master Shapeshifter would be nice to have. The only problem is that it's attached to Natural Shapeshifter. Natural Shapeshift is wasted in PvE. PvP, it's a necessity, but PvE, there is no encounter that requires you to shift much. Even when you shift out to throw a heal and a rez, you still have enough mana to shift back. And your mana regenerates while in Feral form. You basically never run out of mana. What this basically means is that you are spending 5 talent points just to get 4% more Bear damage and 4% more Cat crits. And to me, that's not worth it. If you find yourself using Natural Shapeshifter now, this will be good for you. As for me, I can't justify taking it over Intensity, both for the 10 instant rage and the extra mana regen (this is what lets me heal in Feral spec.) Incidentally, Intensity is also probably why I don't need Natural Shapeshifter. Since I regen mana faster than those with Natural Shapeshifter, I can afford to spend the extra mana on shifting.

Something new I did take is Nature's Grasp, and the reason is simple. It's usable indoors. With this, you can CC a mob in bear form. You don't have much of a choice in the matter, but if you are tanking four, you can pop this (it will likely proc on one of the mobs almost instantly,) back up a little and tank three instead, which is much easier. One of the mobs should be down before the Grasp wears off, so you should be able to stick to tanking three mobs or less the whole time.

The only concern I have for Ferals is itemization. Of course, very little high end gear has been revealed, but from what I've seen so far, I'm worried. I'm not worried about not hitting the armor cap. With the removal of crushing blows, as long as we have a significantly higher amount of armor compared to shield tanks, we should be able to keep up just fine. But I don't see any high armor leather. But as there is so little information in this matter, I will withhold further comment on it.

From what I can tell, Feral won't be changing too much. Not for me anyway. I will still be able to DPS and Tank with the rest of them, so I'm not worried. Some of the arguments that the talents we are getting should have been there all along are valid, but this is true for many classes. I look forward to Wrath, not because Druids will finally be super awesome, but because we are already super awesome and the only thing changing about it is that we now get to be super awesome in different ways.