Archive for the “Bearwall” Category

Blizzard has released some of the new Cataclysm Talent Trees, in a “we’re still working on it” condition.

Druids are one of the fortunate few to get to see a preliminary glimpse at their tree!

Can I just say as a prelude, I anticipate people rerolling Druid JUST to have a Nom Nom Nom ability?

I know *I* would.

Sadly, there is some idea that Blizzard might not keep the name of the proposed Talent “Nom Nom Nom”. I’m almost tempted to start a petition drive to beg them to keep it. Would making the Talent icon a small picture of a cheeseburger be going too far? I think not.

Reposted from MMO Champion’s website for those without connection to them from work, here is the text version of the Druid Talent Tree. My rambled musing starts after the info.

Balance Tree

Tier 1 (Left to Right)
Starlight Wrath (5 points) – Reduces the cast time of your Wrath and Starfire spells by 0.1/0.2/0.3/0.4/0.5 seconds.
Genesis (5 points) – Increases the damage and healing done by your periodic spell damage, healing effects and Swiftmend by 1/2/3/4/5%.

Tier 2 (Left to Right)
Moonglow (3 points) – Reduces the Mana cost of your Moonfire, Starfire, Starfall, Starsurge, Wrath, Healing Touch, Nourish, Regrowth and Rejuvenation spells by 3/6/9%.
Nature’s Majesty(2 points) – Increases the critical strike chance of your Wrath, Starfire, Starfall, Nourish and Healing Touch spells by 2/4%.
Improved Moonfire (2 points) – Increases the direct damage of your Moonfire spell by 5/10%.

Tier 3 (Left to Right)
Nature’s Grace (3 points) – All non-periodic spell criticals have a 33/66/100% chance to grace you with a Blessing of Nature, increasing your spell casting speed by 20% for 3 seconds.
Solar Beam (1 point) – You summon a beam of solar light over the enemy target’s location, interrupting the enemy target and silencing all enemy targets under the beam within 10 yards while it is active. Solar Beam lasts for 12 seconds.
Celestial Focus (3 points) – Reduces the pushback suffered from damaging attacks while casting Starfire, Starsurge, Hibernate and Hurricane by 23/46/70%.
Nature’s Reach (2 points) – Increases the range of your Balance spells and Faerie Fire (Feral) ability by 10/20%, and reduces the threat generated by your Balance spells by 15/30%.

Tier 4 (Left to Right)
Nature’s Splendor (1 point) – Increases the duration of your Moonfire and Rejuvenation spells by 3 seconds, your Regrowth spell by 6 seconds, and your Insect Swarm and Lifebloom spells by 2 seconds.
Lunar Justice (3 points) – When you kill a target that yields experience or honor, a ray of moonlight will shine underneath the fallen enemy instantly restoring 2/4/6% of your base mana to you or the first ally who stands underneath it. Lunar Justice lasts for 15 seconds.

Tier 5 (Left to Right)
Brambles (3 points) – Damage from your Thorns and Entangling Roots increased by 25/50/75% and damage done by your treants increased by 5/10/15%. In addition, damage from your Treants and attacks done to you while you have Barkskin active have a 5/10/15% chance to daze the target for 3 seconds.
Starsurge (1 point) – Requires 1 point in Solar Beam – You fuse the power of the moon and sun, launching a devastating blast of energy at the target. Causes 622 to 691 Spellstorm damage to the target and knocking them down.
Vengeance (5 points) – Increases the critical strike damage bonus of your Starfire, Starfall, Moonfire, and Wrath spells by 20/40/60/80/100%.
Dreamstate (3 points) – Regenerate mana equal to 4/7/10% of your intellect every 5 seconds, even while casting.

Tier 6 (Left to Right)
Gale Winds (2 points) – Increases damage done by your Hurricane and Typhoon spells by 15/30%, and increases the range of your Cyclone spells by 2/4 yards.
Lunar Guidance (3 points) – Requires 1 point in Starsurge – Increases the radius of your Solar Beam by 2/4/6 yards, and your Starsurge also instantly generates 5/10/15 Lunar or Solar energy, depending on which is greater.
Balance of Power (2 points) – Increases your chance to hit with spells by 2/4% and increases your spell hit rating by an additional amount equal to 50/100% of your Spirit.

Tier 7 (Left to Right)
Moonkin Form (1 point) – Shapeshift into Moonkin Form. While in this form the armor contribution from items is increased by 120%, and increases the spell critical strike chance of all nearby friendly and raid targets within 100 yards by 5%. The moonkin cannot cast healing or resurrection spells while shapeshifted. The act of shapeshifting frees the caster of Polymorph and movement impairing effects.
Improved Moonkin Form (3 points) – Requires 1 point in Moonkin Form. You also grant 2/3/5% spell haste to all nearby friendly party and raid targets within 100 yards while in Moonkin Form.
Euphoria (2 points) – When you critically hit with Wrath or Starfire, you instantly gain an additional 2/4 Lunar or 4/8 Solar Energy. When you reach a Solar or Lunar eclipse, you instantly are restored 6/12% of your total mana.

Tier 8 (Left to Right)
Owlkin Frenzy (3 points) – Requires 1 point in Moonkin Form – Attacks done to you while in Moonkin form have a 5/10/15% chance to cause you to go into a Frenzy, increasing your damage by 10% and making you immune to pushback while casting Balance spells. Lasts 10 seconds.
Wrath of Cenarius (3 points) – While moving, the direct damage of your Moonfire spell is increased by 5% and its mana cost is reduced by 10% for 3 seconds. This effect can stack up to 3 times and lasts 3 seconds, but is refreshed as long as you are in movement. Your starfire spell gains an additional 8/12% and your Wrath gains an additional 4/6% of your bonus damage effects.

Tier 9 (Left to Right)
Improved Eclipse (3 points) – Increases the amount of Lunar or Solar energy generated from your Starfire and Wrath by 12%, and when critically hit by a melee or ranged attack, you will instantly generate Lunar or Solar Energy. When you critically hit with Starfire, you have a 101% chance of increasing damage done by Wrath by 0%. When you critically hit with Wrath, you have a 61% chance of increasing your critical strike chance with Starfire by 0%. Each effect lasts 15 seconds and each has a separate 30-second cooldown. Both effects cannot occur simultaneously.
Typhoon (1 point) – Requires 1 point in Moonkin Form – You summon a violent Typhoon that does 400 Nature damage when in contact with hostile targets, knocking them back and dazing them for 6 seconds.
Force of Nature (1 point) – Summons 3 treants to attack enemy targets for 30 seconds.

Tier 10 (Left to Right)
Earth and Moon (3 points) – Your Wrath and Starfire spells have a 100% chance to apply the Earth and Moon effect, which increases spell damage taken by 2/5/8% for 12 seconds. Also increases your spell damage by 2/4/6%.
Fungal Growth (2 points) – When your Treants die or your Wild Mushrooms are triggered, you spawn a Fungal Growth at its wake covering the area within 8 yards, slowing all enemy targets by 35/70%. Lasts 10 seconds.

Tier 11 (Left to Right)
Starfall (1 point) – Requires 1 point in Typhoon – You summon a flurry of stars from the sky on all targets within 30 yards of the caster, each dealing 303 to 348 Arcane damage. Maximum 20 stars. Lasts 10 seconds. Shapeshifting into animal form or mounting cancels the effect. Any effect which causes you to lose control of your character will suppress the starfall effect.

Feral Combat Tree

Tier 1 (Left to Right)
Sharpened Claws (2 points) – Increases the damage caused by your Claw, Rake, Mangle (Cat), Mangle (Bear), and Maul abilities by 10/20%.
Ferocity (5 points) – Reduces the cost of your Maul, Swipe, Claw, Rake and Mangle abilities by 1/2/3/4/5 Rage or Energy.
Feral Aggression (5 points) – Increases the attack power reduction of your Demoralizing Roar by 8/16/24/32/40% and the damage caused by your Ferocious Bite by 3/6/9/12/15%.

Tier 2 (Left to Right)
Shredding Attacks (2 points) – Reduces the energy cost of your Shred ability by 5/10 and the rage cost of your Lacerate ability by 1/2.
Feral Instinct (3 points) – Increases the damage done by your Swipe ability by 10/20/30% and reduces the chance enemies have to detect you while Prowling.
Thick Hide (3 points) – Increases your Armor contribution from cloth and leather items by 4/7/10%.

Tier 3 (Left to Right)
Feral Swiftness (2 points) – Increases your movement speed by 15/30% in Cat Form and increases your chance to dodge while in Cat Form, Bear Form and Dire Bear Form by 2/4%.
Predatory Instincts (3 points) – Increases the damage done by your melee critical strikes by 3/7/10%.
Feral Charge (1 point) – Teaches Feral Charge (Bear) and Feral Charge (Cat). Feral Charge (Bear) – Causes you to charge an enemy, immobilizing and interrupting any spell being cast for 4 seconds. This ability can be used in Bear Form and Dire Bear Form. 15-second cooldown. Feral Charge (Cat) – Causes you to leap behind an enemy, dazing them for 3 seconds. 30-second cooldown.
Improved Feral Charge (2 points) – Increases your melee haste by 15/30% after you use Feral Charge (Bear) for 8 seconds, and Ravage will temporarly not require stealth for 3/6 seconds after you use Feral Charge (Cat).

Tier 4 (Left to Right)
Nurturing Instinct (2 points) – Increases your healing spells by up to 35/70% of your agility, and increases healing done to you by 10/20% while in Cat Form.
Fury Swipes (3 points) – When you auto-attack while in Cat Form or Bear Form, you have a 4/8/12% chance to gain an extra auto-attack on the same target. This effect cannot occur more than once every 6 seconds.
Primal Fury (2 points) – Gives you a 50/100% chance to gain an additional 5 Rage anytime you get a critical strike while in Bear and Dire Bear Form, and your critical strikes from Cat Form abilities that add combo points have a 50/100% chance to add an additional combo point.

Tier 5 (Left to Right)
Brutal Impact (2 points) – Increases the stun duration of your Bash and Pounce abilities by 0.5/1 seconds, and decreases the cooldown of Bash by 5/10 seconds.
Heart of the Wild (5 points) – Increases your intellect by 4/8/12/16/20%. In addition, while in Bear or Dire Bear Form your stamina is increased by 2/4/6/8/10%, and while in Cat Form your attack power is increased by 2/4/6/8/10%.
Survival Instincts (1 point) – When activated, this ability temporarily grants you 30% of your maximum health for 20 seconds while in Bear Form, Cat Form, or Dire Bear Form. After the effect expires, the health is lost.
Predatory Strikes (2 points) – Increases the critical strike chance of your Ravage by 50/25% at or above 90% health, and your finishing moves have a 10/20% chance per combo point to make your next Nature spell with a base casting time less than 10 seconds become an instant cast spell.

Tier 6 (Left to Right)
Natural Reaction (3 points) – Increases your dodge while in Bear Form or Dire Bear Form by 2/4%, and you regenerate 1/2 rage every time you dodge while in Bear Form or Dire Bear Form.
Endless Carnage (2 points) – Increases the duration of your Rake by 3/6 seconds and your Savage Roar and Pulverize by 3/6 seconds.
Survival of the Fittest (3 points) – Reduces the chance you’ll be critically hit by melee attacks by 2/4/6%, and increases the contribution from cloth and leather items in Bear Form and Dire Bear Form by 11/22/33%.

Tier 7 (Left to Right)
King of the Jungle (3 ranks) – While using your Enrage ability in Bear Form or Dire Bear Form, your damage is increased by 5/10/15%, and your Tiger’s Fury ability also instantly restores 20/40/60 energy.
Leader of the Pack (1 point) – Requires 1 point in Heart of the Wild – While in Cat, Bear, or Dire Bear Form, Leader of the Pack increases ranged and melee critical chance of all party and raid members within 100 yards by 5%.
Improved Leader of the Pack (2 points) – Requires 1 point in Leader of the Pack – Your Leader of the Pack ability also causes affected targets to heal themselves for 2/4% of their total health when they critically hit with melee or ranged attacks. The healing effect cannot occur more than once every 6 seconds. In addition, you gain 4/8% of your maximum mana when you benefit from this heal.
Primal Tenacity (3 points) – Reduces the duration of fear effects by 10/20/30% and reduces all damage taken while stunned by 5/10/15% while in Cat Form.

Tier 8 (Left to Right)
Protector of the Pack (3 points) – Increases your attack power by 2/4/6% and reduces the damage you take by 4/8/12%, while in Bear or Dire Bear Form.
Infected Wounds (2 points) – Your Shred, Maul, Ravage and Mangle attacks cause an Infected Wound in the target. The infected Wound reduces the movement speed of the target by 25/50% and the attack speed by 10/20%. Lasts 12 seconds.

Tier 9 (Left to Right)
Primal Madness (2 points) – Tiger’s Fury and Berserk also increases your maximum energy by 6/12 during its duration, and your Enrage and Berserk abilities instantly generates 0/12 Rage.
Mangle (1 point) – Mangle the target, inflicting damage and causing the target to take additional damage from bleed effects for 1 minute. This ability can be used in Cat Form or Dire Bear form.
Improved Mangle (3 points) – Reduces the cooldown of your Mangle (Bear) ability by 0.5/1.0 seconds and reduces the energy cost of your Mangle (Cat) ability by 2/4.

Tier 10 (Left to Right)
Nom Nom Nom (2 points) – When you Ferocious Bite a target at or below 25% health, you have a 50/100% chance to instantly refresh the duration of your Rip on the target.
Rend and Tear (5 points) – Increases damage done by your Maul and Shred attacks on bleeding targets by 4/8/12/16/20%, and increases the critical strike chance of your Ferocious Bite ability on bleeding targets by 5/10%.
Pulverize (1 point) – Requires 5 points in Rend and Tear – Requires Dire Bear Form – Deals 100% weapon damage plus additional 786 damage for each of your Lacerate applications on the target, and increases your melee critical strike chance by 2% for each Lacerate application consumed for 10seconds.

Tier 11 (Left to Right)
Berserk (1 point) – When activated, this ability causes your Mangle (Bear) ability to hit up to 3 targets and have no cooldown, and reduces the energy cost of all your Cat Form abilities by 50%. Lasts 15 seconds. You cannot use Tiger’s Fury while Berserk is active. Clears the effect of Fear and makes you immune to Fear for the duration.

Restoration Tree

Tier 1 (Left to Right)
Blessing of the Grove (2 points) – Increases the healing done by your Rejuvenation by 2/4%, the direct damage of your Moonfire by 3/6% and the damage done by your Claw and Shred by 2/4%.
Nature’s Focus (3 points) – Reduces the pushback suffered from damaging attacks while casting Healing Touch, Wrath, Entangling Roots, Cyclone, Nourish, Regrowth and Tranquility by 23/46/75%.
Furor (5 points) – Gives you a 20/40/60/80/100% chance to gain 10 Rage when you shapeshift into Bear and Dire Bear Form, and you keep up to 20/40/60/80/100 of your energy when you shapeshift into Cat Form. In addition, your total intellect is increased while in Moonkin Form by 2/4/6/8/10%.

Tier 2 (Left to Right)
Perseverance (5 points) – Reduces all spell damage taken by 2/4/6/8/10%.
Subtlety (3 points) – Reduces the threat generated by your Restoration spells by 10/20/30%.
Natural Shapeshifter (3 points) – Reduces the mana cost of all shapeshifting by 10/20/30%.

Tier 3 (Left to Right)
Naturalist (5 points) – Reduces the cast time of your Healing Touch and Nourish spells by 0.1/0.2/0.3/0.4/0.5 seconds and increases the damage you deal with physical attacks in all forms by 2/4/6/8/10%.
Omen of Clarity (1 point) – Each of the druid’s damage, healing spells and auto-attacks has a chance of causing the caster to enter a Clearcasting state. The Clearcasting state reduces the mana, rage or energy cost of your next damage spell, healing spell or offensive ability by 100%.
Master Shapeshifter (2 points) – Requires 3 points in Natural Shapeshifter – Grants an effect which lasts while the druid is within the respective shapeshift form. Bear Form – Increases physical damage by 2/4%. Cat Form – Increases critical strike chance by 2/4%. Moonkin Form – Increases spell damage by 2/4%. Tree of Life Form – Increases healing by 2/4%.

Tier 4 (Left to Right)
Improved Rejuvenation (3 points) – Increases the effect of your Rejuvenation and Swiftmend spells by 5/10/15%.
Tranquil Spirit (5 points) – Reduces the mana cost of your Healing Touch, Nourish and Tranquility spells by 2/4/6/8/10%.

Tier 5 (Left to Right)
Nature’s Swiftness (1 point) – Requires 1 point in Naturalist – When activated, your next Nature spell with a base casting time less than 10 seconds becomes an instant cast spell.
Improved Tranquility (2 points) – Reduces threat caused by Tranquility by 50/100% and reduces the damage you take while channeling Tranquility by 25/50%.

Tier 6 (Left to Right)
Living Seed (3 points) – When you critically heal your target with Swiftmend, Regrowth, Nourish or Healing Touch spell you have a 33/66/100% chance to plant a Living Seed on the target for 30% of the amount healed. The Living Seed will bloom when the target is next attacked. Lasts 15 seconds.
Nature’s Bounty (5 points) – Requires 3 points in Improved Rejuvenation – Increases the critical effect chance of your Regrowth spell by 10% on targets at or below 25% health, and you have a 20% chance when you critically heal with Healing Touch and Nourish to reduce the remaining cooldown of your Swiftmend spell by 0.5 seconds. Increases the critical effect chance of your Regrowth and Nourish spells by 10/15/20/25%.
Fury of a Stormrage (3 points) – You have a 5/10/15% chance when you cast Nourish or Healing Touch to cause your next Wrath spell to be instant cast and cost no mana. Fury of Stormrage lasts for 8 seconds.

Tier 7 (Left to Right)
Swiftmend (1 point) – Requires 1 point in Nature’s Bounty [NYI] – Consumes a Rejuvenation or Regrowth effect on a friendly target to instantly heal the target for 5306.
Empowered Touch (2 points) – Your Healing Touch heals for 5% more on targets at or below 25% health, and your Nourish spell has a 50% chance to refresh the duration of your Lifebloom on targets. Your Healing Touch spell gains an additional 32%, and your Nourish spell gains an additional 16% of your bonus healing effects.

Tier 8 (Left to Right)
Efflorescence (3 points) – Requires 1 point in Living Seed – When you critically heal with your Regrowth spell you also sprout a bed of healing flora underneath the target, healing all nearby friendly targets within 15 yards who stand on them for 10/20/30% of the amount healed by your Regrowth every 1 seconds for 7 seconds. Increases your total spirit by 10/15/20/25%.
Empowered Rejuvenation (5 points) – The bonus healing effects of your heal-over-time spells and Swiftmend is increased by 4/8/12/16/20%.
Natural Perfection (3 points) – Critical strikes against you give you the Natural Perfection effect, reducing all damage taken by 2/3/4%. Stacks up to 3 times. Lasts 8 seconds.

Tier 9 (Left to Right)
Revitalize (3 points) – When your Regrowth or Lifebloom heal-over-time periodic damage critically hits, you instantly regenerate 1/2/3% of your total mana. This effect cannot occur more than once every 6 seconds.
Tree of Life (1 point) – Requires 5 points in Empowered Rejuvenation – Shapeshift into the tree of Life, increasing healing done by 15% and increasing your armor by 240%, but reducing your movement speed by 50%. In addition, some of your spells are temporarly enhanced while shapeshifted. Lasts 45 seconds. 5-minute cooldown. Enhanced spells: Lifebloom, Wild Growth, Regrowth, Entangling Roots, Thorns, Wrath
Improved Tree of Life (3 points) – Requires 1 point in Tree of Life – Reduces the cooldown of your Tree of Life by 30/60/90 seconds, and increases your damage done while in Tree of Life by 5/10/15%.

Tier 10 (Left to Right)
Improved Barkskin (2 points) – Grants 80/160% additional armor contribution from cloth and leather items while in Travel Form or while not shapeshifted. In addition, the damage reduction granted by your Barkskin spell is increased by 5/10%.
Gift of the Earthmother (5 points) – Increases the healing done by your Tranquility on targets at or below 25% health by 4%, increases the healing done by the bloom effect of your Lifebloom by 2%, and your Rejuvenation spell also instantly heals for 3% of the total periodic effect. Increases your total spell haste by 4/6/8/10% and reduces the base cooldown of your Lifebloom spell by 4/6/8/10%.

Tier 11 (Left to Right)
Wild Growth (1 point) – Requires 1 point in Tree of Life – Heals up to 5 friendly party or raid members within 15 yards of the target for 2905 over 6.99 seconds. The amount healed is applied quickly at first, and slows down as the Wild Growth reaches its full duration.

Isn’t that just amazing?

Remember please, that the Talent Tree specifics including the picture is reposted directly from MMO Champion, and you can expect them to have continual upates and additional information as they discover it, so please check there yourself when you’re able. Thank you.

Now, for the, ahem, “value added” part of the blog post, yes?

The first impression is, Feral Bear Druids are going to walk into Cataclysm with very few changes to the core philosophy of the class.

We continue to have Feral as our main tree, with some points in Resto, and none in Balance.

We continue to use Survival of the Fittest, in Tier 6, as our “immune to critical strikes from opponents 3 levels higher than us” ability. By implication, max level raid mobs and bosses will continue to be set at 3 levels higher than us in terms of Hit.

In fact, we continue to have all of the abilities and Talents we’ve grown used to as Bears. Survival Instincts for an “oh shoot” button, Natural Reaction to increase Dodge and return Rage, Primal Fury to return Rage from critical strikes, Leader of the Pack and heals from Improved Leader of the Pack, Protector of the Pack for an overall damage reduction (including magic), Mangle and Berserk.

I think that, considering the changes in store for Plate wearers in terms of diverting attention away from Defense Rating, we can be reassured that we’re building on our foundation rather than ripping it up and starting over.

The first big change of note is the addition of Perseverance in Tier 2 of the Resto tree. This Talent will add an additional 10% spell damage reduction. That’s a pretty huge Bear Tank survival Talent change, and should be cause for some happiness.

Unsurprisingly, when we consider a new level 85 cap with 76 points available to spend, I’m not seeing a “perfect” build that gives me everything I want. Which is what we were told to expect.

What I’m seeing specifically in my build analysis is a solid 16 points in Restoration, with 5/5 Furor, 5/5 Perseverance, 5/5 Naturalist, and 1 in Omen of Clarity.

I originally posted this as 18 points in Resto, and 2/2 Master Shapeshifter. Unfortunately, as Kaethir pointed out (as someone always does within seconds of a post) there was an inaccuracy. Namely, you can’t take Master Shapeshifter without first taking 3/3 Natural Shapeshifter. In really looking at the options available, I can say that I am unwilling to lose 3 points elsewhere so I could take Natural Shapeshifter, just to keep +4% physical damage in Bear form. That’s a 5 point investment for +4% damage. We’ll keep in mind that we’d like to free up 5 points from the Feral tree in a perfect world, shall we?

Don’t hold your breath.

With 16 points in Resto, at level 85 we’re left with 60 points for the Feral tree. 

I’ll describe my initial thinking, including describing all Talents (not just new ones), just because you never know how knowledgeable someone is about what a Talent name actually corresponds to in end effect. I do try to be new tank friendly. 

What I’m looking at in the Feral tree is;

2/2 Sharpened Claws, for increased Maul damage. Maul is a huge part of Threat generation.

5/5 or 4/5 Ferocity for Rage cost reduction on many abilities. If you want a single point for something else, this is a possible choice. Otherwise, go 5/5. 

3/3 Feral Instinct for increased Swipe damage. More Swipe damage = more Swipe threat on AoE targets. Win.

3/3 Thick Hide… mandatory talent for Bears.

0/3 in Shredding Attacks for my build, because Lacerate is only one ability in the rotation, and the Rage savings doesn’t measure up to the value of a point to me. This attitude on my part may change with the new desirability of full Lacerate stacks to an Endless Carnage/Pulverize rotation. But I doubt it.

2/2 Feral Swiftness for the Dodge, another core Bear talent.

3/3 Predatory Instincts, increased melee critical strike chance. This is important as a foundation for the build, not only because crits increase damage based threat across the board, but also because a later talent, Primal Fury, feeds us Rage on a successful critical strike. More crits = more Rage, especially with Swipe on AoE.

1/1 Feral Charge. I use Feral Charge all the time when running from group to group. Heck, I even use it a TON during a single group pull, when caster mobs are spread out like they are in early Forge of Souls and on the ramp of Pit of Saron. The spell interruption is perfect since I use it to go from caster to caster.

2/2 Improved Feral Charge. My initial plans put this as a possible place to shave points. The reason I want to keep it is because 30% melee haste for 8 seconds, in the very first 8 seconds of an initial group pull, is pretty huge in terms of fast threat generation, SO LONG AS YOU HAVE ENOUGH RAGE. I see this dovetailing with Enrage and Primal Madness to form a new standard pull strategy of Enrage and Feral Charge in every time. Assuming, of course, you’re not doing that already.

1/3 or 0/3 Fury Swipes, and I’ll tell you why. It’s based on auto-attack speed, it’s 12% max chance, it triggers only from auto-attacks, and it can’t happen more than once every 6 seconds. For a DPS rotation, yes I’m sure it could be good if used properly, but for Bears, with so many other Talents to choose from, it’s not going to improve our initial Threat generation in the first 6 seconds of a pull by nearly enough to justify three points. Over a long fight, yes it could be very significant, and may be a solid Talent for a main tank boss fight build. BUT, for most situations, Talents that improve initial threat generation and instant damage should take precedence over Talents that add damage at a steady, measured pace over time. So the longer the fight, the more significant Fury Swipes would be. My default is to leave a point in this one so it does trigger occasionally, and see if the 6 second choke on it helps it proc enough to overcome not having a higher chance of occurance.

2/2 Primal Fury is another core Bear talent, returning Rage from successful crits, including crits caused by each mob affected by Swipe.

5/5 Heart of the Wild – we get to keep this? Yay!

1/1 Survival Instincts, again I love this as an effective “oh shit” button, especially when triggered right before Frenzied Regeneration.

3/3 Natural Reaction, a core Bear talent increasing Dodge and returning Rage per successful Dodge.

2/2 Endless Carnage. This is a really interesting one, because for Bears it will increase the duration of Pulverize by 6 seconds. Pulverize is a talent on the Tier 10 range that I’ll go into a lot more later. Just keep in mind… plus 6 second duration of Pulverize.

3/3 Survival of the Fittest, our core Bear talent for being uncrittable by mobs 3 levels higher than ourselves, which are basically raid mobs and bosses. Oh yeah, and more armor for more damage reduction!

3/3 King of the Jungle – this is one of the other abilities I can see losing a point from. We could either lose 1 point in this, Ferocity, or Improved Mangle. Losing 1 point in this drops our boosted damage while Enraged to 10% instead of 15%.

1/1 Leader of the Pack, a great party/raid buff, but that’s not why I like it.

2/2 Improved Leader of the pack, a self heal per crit, and THIS is why I love LotP. It’s nice when in a party or raid, but when soloing, it’s divine, especially on lower level instances. And I’ll be honest… one of my favorite things to do is to run my friends/wife through lower level content. This almost completely removes the need for a healer when running through Ramparts.

3/3 Protector of the Pack, which does boost damage, but more importantly is one of the main ways we reduce magical damage. Our armor does not affect magic damage at all, so this, and the new Perseverance, are our two magic damage reduction abilities. Is it important not to instantly die in an AoE fire? Yes, I think so.

0/2 or 1/2 Infected Wounds, normally none. If you do feel particualrly squishy, especially on new boss fights in Catacylsm, the slower mob attack speed can help. If so, or if you’re annoyed by lots of runners, you can put a point in here from somewhere else. I’d recommend starting with Fury Swipes and Improved Mangle to draw from.

2/2 Primal Madness, I love having that instant Rage from Enrage, and this now also buffs Berserk Rage, so yes, I want to keep 2/2.

1/1 Mangle. Umm, yeah.

3/3 or 2/3 Improved Mangle. This one is the one I really think is the most likely to lose 1 point in my build. In my rotations, with the longer Bleed duration, I think it would be fine. The one wierd thing is, while it says 3 ranks, it shows 0.5/1.0 and 2/4, which indicates only two ranks. So, will we not even have the opportunity to have 3/3? We’ll see.

5/5 Rend and Tear, which not only buffs Maul damage by 20 bloody be damned percent, but ALSO unlocks Pulverize.

1/1 Pulverize. A new Talent, a new ability, and an interesting choice. Dire Bear Form only, so it’s a tanking thing. What does it do? Well, it looks like an instant cast that deals 100% weapon damage, PLUS 786 damage per Lacerate on your target. So, you stack Lacerate to max and then boom. But wait, there’s more! It also EATS those lacerate stacks, and in exchange it increases your melee crit strike chance by 2% per Lacerate. It’s 10 seconds default, plus 6 seconds if you have 2/2 Endless Carnage. There is nothing that says this is increased crit on that target only. So, what we’re saying is, you can stack up Lacerates on one target, blow Pulverize, and increase your max crit chance on all targets affected by everything, including Maul and Swipe, for the next 16 seconds.

Yes, please. Oh, hell yes. Remember that whole “regain Rage on successful crit” thing from Primal Fury? And let’s never forget, your successful crits BUBBLE YOU. Yum yum yum feaking yum.

And finally, 1/1 Berserk. I love Berserk anyway, and now Primal Madness makes it give me Rage, too.

So… interesting, interesting. I’m not seeing any problems here whatsoever. It’s all good, my friends.

Anyway… the future looks so bright, my Bear might have to wear shades!

And please… no whining about not getting more AoE talents, all right? I think 1 16 second buffed crit chance from Pulverize might help enhance the threat of our existing Swipe AoE.

Oh yeah, and as far as no ranged Silence to help pull… well, I LIKE using Feral Charge and ranged Feral Faerie Fire and Growl on distant mobs. It feels like I’m more active on the battlefield. Don’t ask me why.

So… what are your impressions?

Comments 41 Comments »

I’ve talked about running instances from the point of view of a tank that wants to help other new tanks prepare themselves to do the best they can in groups.

I tend to focus on group play rather than soloing, and tanking rather than DPS or Healing. It’s what I mostly think my WoW related rantings on this blog are all about.

It’s what I do. Well, it’s what I do when I’m not doing something else.

I think it’s time to touch on first principles briefly.

I talk about group play in general because when you play solo, no matter how crazed or off the wall you may play, no matter how little you may know about your class spells, Talents, gear or playstyle, the only person’s time you affect is you.

If you want to try to level from 1 to 80 as a pacifist, never harming any other living digital creature… more power to you. Have fun! Send screenshots.

In group play, there are other people present who depend on you to act a certain way, play a certain way, and work towards a common goal together. You’re no longer just handicapping yourself; you’re bringing other people down with you.

So I talk about group play more, because in my mind playing well in groups in a multiplayer game is a higher priority that fine tuning solo performance. 

I talk about tanking because it was the single most challenging aspect of the game for me, personally, to learn when I started. I leveled as DPS Cat/Bear, and I raided as Healing at level 60 end game, but it wasn’t until I hit true Bear tanking in BC that I felt challenged… and rewarded for skillful play. It’s that feeling of satisfaction with Tanking as part of a group, and the enjoyment of doing something difficult very well, that led me to write guides and offer suggestions about it, to help others get started in a little seen aspect of the game and share the fun.

So, I talk about group play because I want to help people be the best member of their group that they can for everyone’e benefit, and I talk about tanking because that was the role of a group I personally found the most challenging to learn.

A statement of my tanking belief.

I feel that, as a member of the team in the role of the tank, it is my primary responsibility to do the best I can to be a team player, and work towards the success of the group. Everything else is built on the foundation of being a team player.

Building on the foundations of being a good team player, I feel that as a tank, it is my job to;

  • Keep all aggro from mobs on me instead of the team.
  • Regain lost aggro as quickly as possible to keep mobs from interfering with other members of the team.
  • Be as difficult to hurt as possible to ease the strain on the Healer to keep me alive through a fight.
  • Be as difficult to hurt as possible to ease the strain on the DPS to kill all mobs before I and the Healer are overwhelmed. 

Those are the core duties of the role. All are focused on being a good team player.

There are other aspects of playing a tank that may not be readily apparent, but when you think in terms of being a good team player, there are lots of things you can see to help.

Remember, my point is to approach the game with the attitude of being the best team player you can; to do what is within your power to ensure the group’s success, and to help everyone towards victory.

Examples of other things you can do as a tank to be a good team player;

  • Hold mobs physically stationary whenever possible so that melee DPS have an easier time of getting behind them. Melee DPS have to properly position themselves to achieve their most effective DPS.
  • Keep the style of your pull as consistent as possible to help your healer and DPS players anticipate what you are about to do (run in and turn around to face mobs away from the rest of the group, or turn to the side, or mark first and second kill targets, etc). This helps everyone else learn to anticipate what you will do, and be prepared for the best time to unleash their skills without pulling.
  • Move mobs and the party out of AoE effects as quickly as possible; don’t just get yourself out, reposition the mob so the DPS behind him are also free from pools/slime/kabooms.
  • Watch mana levels in the group and pause for clearly announced “mana breaks” when really necessary, so that Healers do not feel overly rushed from pull to pull. Encourage the Healer or other players to announce when they want a mana break, and do not listen to people who want to ignore the requests of other team members for a mana break. Only the player who is low on mana can decide for themselves when or if they need a mana break.
  • Pause before the very first instance pull to allow everyone time to buff.
  • Communicate clearly with the group, both with what you intend to do, and also what you would like others to do. Communication also includes asking if anyone is new to an instance, and providing tips before tricky pulls where appropriate.

These things are not written in stone as what a tank must do, but every single suggestion, if followed, can help contribute to a smoother run for the team.

If you are consistent, calm and clear, it helps to cut down on chaos in the party, and players that learn to know what to expect of your pulls will be that much faster in target selection and destruction.

Bringing the same principles to the other roles of a group.

What I listed above applies to tanks. Things to think about, things to watch as opportunities to help as a member of a team. There are many other things that tanks can do to help, as well. That’s why I’ve got a blog, to chat about them.

I’d like to take this opportunity to refresh the idea of good team work and group play in the minds of my readers.

It’s not just tanks that are responsible for being good team players. Every member of the team has a responsibility to do the best they can to contribute to the success of the entire run.

Talking about Threat

One of my first rants on this blog was about Damage Meters. The reason I ranted was because of the effect on a team. I believe that the obsession with reaching the top of Damage Meters indicates that the player is more concerned with scoring a high DPS number than he or she is with being a great team player, and that irritates me.

Let me be more specific. A lot of classes have threat reducing abilities. Paladins have Hand of Salvation, Kitties have Cower, Rogues have Feint and Vanish, Hunters have Feign Death and Misdirect, Mages have Ice Block, etc. Sure, not all classes do, but a lot do. There is no satisfactory reason to ignore the threat reducing tools of a class, because it is not the tank’s job to generate threat that exceeds every player’s maximum possible potential DPS. It’s not, and if you think it is, well, you’re wrong.

There is an excellent addon called Omen, which is a Threat Meter. If you install it, by default it will show you what your threat level is on your targeted mob, in comparison to other players, including the tank.

Even if you do not use Omen, WoW now has an option to enable a flashing red warning on the screen when you are pulling aggro on your target.

Even if you don’t use addons, there is still a way to get an indication when you are exceeding threat.

The most fundamental responsibility of DPS and Healer players as part of a team is to not pull aggro off of the tank. Period.

You can easily do this by using Omen, waiting for the tank to get at least one attack off on your targeted mob, and then opening with auto-attack or a low damage attack. Then you glance at Omen to see where you stand on threat. You do as much damage as you can, up to and not exceeding the threat the tank has on the mob.

If you are capable of doing 7500 DPS, but the tank is not capable of matching and exceeding your threat, then it is your responsibility to throttle back your DPS to the point where you can attack without pulling.

If you, as a DPS player, are not capable of throttling back your threat to match the tank, then you, not the tank, SUCK as a team player.

Why?

Because yes, while the tank has taunting abilities, those abilities are better used as emergency pulls when adds run in, or when someone gets a surprise critical strike that pushes them over the top,NOT as something to be used on every single cooldown just for you, personally.

If every DPS player in a group is pulling aggro off the tank, and the tank only has one taunt, then there are two other players that are eating their mobs, and while we can say we don’t care, you pull it you tank it, the fact is, this is creating chaos. It is stressing the Healer. It is stressing the Tank. It is causing the run to be a big, crappy mess.

This is the fault of the player that regularly pulls aggro. None other. And apologizing in advance that you’re going to be pulling off the tank regularly because you’re “lol so leet”, just says to me, “Hi, I don’t actually know how to play my class, but look at all the neat loot my friends got for me!”

Do you think I respect you because of your gear score, when you don’t have any idea how to manage your threat ina  group? Or, even better, don’t care? I have far more respect for any player that tries their best to be a good team player no matter what their gear. Far more

Every player in a group should be starting with the idea, “What can I be doing to help the group succeed?” If you’re not, why are you grouping? Chances are high it’s because of selfish motives. And I have no respect for that, either.

For DPS, here are some tips.

Watch your threat, and take care to not regularly exceed the threat output of the tank. You can use Omen, or again with the addon plug, you can use a Nameplate addon like Tidy Plates with Threat Plates. It works great for DPS as well. If you see you are about to pull aggro, use a threat dump like Feign Death, switch to auto-attacking for a bit, or switch your attentions to a different target.

Be prepared to protect the healer. Try to watch for adds that run after the Healer. Yes, DPS players can and should try to intercept mobs that escape the Tank to head for the Healer. That can easily happen if there are adds that are pulled, but have no threat done to them. Such adds are loose, and will go after the Healer as soon as the Healer creates healing threat.

Some specific suggestions that you used to see all the time; Hunters hanging out near the Healer, and dropping Ice Trap in front of the Healer to automatically grab the first add that runs after him. Warlocks that have their blueberry taunt mobs off the Healer (if it’s out) when they run in. Priests can Shackle if it’s Undead. Paladins can either bubble the Healer, or cast Hand of Salvation on them (or on other, super high threat generating DPS). And on and on.

Be prepared with your own bandages and consumables like Healing Potions. Yes, there is a group healer, and I’m sure they’re doing their best. But every Healer has priorities, and if the Healer is overtasked keeping the Tank or themself alive, you might not get a Heal when you want, and you should be prepared to spot heal yourself.

Don’t run ahead of everyone else to push the pace. It’s a team effort. If you’re in that much of a hurry to lead, then make a tank and find someone to heal you. If you are not the tank, then it is not your job to pull unless specifically expected to do so by friends or asked to by the tank.  It is not funny, it’s not cute, and it’s not helpful. It’s being an asshat in the minds of every team player I know. If you don’t like the pace of the random you got, then only run with friends. If you don’t have any friends willing to run with you, then maybe you need to think about why that is.

There are so many things that DPS players can do to help make a run smoother, it boggles the mind. Heck, I didn’t even mention using CC on loose mobs that the Tank hasn’t grabbed yet, or using other class abilities like Tremor Totem for Shamans when fighting mobs that Fear regularly, (or Priests likewise using Fear Ward on the tank when fighting a mob that Fears), or Druids Innervating Paladin tanks or Healers that are low on mana mid-fight, or…

Well, you get the point, don’t you? If you’re trynig to be a good player, browse your spellbook. You might find something there neat to try.

Priests using Mind Control to have mobs buff the team? Ever try it?

There is more to being a good team player for DPS than going all out on their attack rotation the second the tank pulls, and maxing the DPS Meters.

A few suggestions for Healers;

Watch your threat. Healers DO create threat. You gain threat for the healing that is actually done on your targets, divided amongst all the mobs currently aware of the target you are Healing.

If the Tank is running forward at the group of mobs, and is at max health, then if you cast a HoT, the HoT does zero healing on the first tick, and does zero threat. The threat does not start until there is actually damage to be healed, and only does threat per point healed, not based on the maximum potential healing the spell could have done.

If the Tank is below max health before the pull, you cast a HoT, and the Tank runs forward within the awareness range of the mobs, then if the first tick hits before the Tank has done ANY damage, every mob just aggroed on the Healer, and start running for, or begins casting attacks AT the Healer.

You can prevent this by waiting until a target or the Tank has done some threat before you heal them. Tanks in particular should be allowed to attack once or twice before you unload heals and HoTs on them.

Watch your mana level. Use mana regeneration abilities to top up on the fly, or be prepared to drink between pulls quickly. Others should try to give you time to regain mana, but be proactive in looking for opportunities to keep yourself topped up.

If you queued as a Healer, make healing the entire group your priority, and NOT dealing DPS. If you are so eager to top the DPS meters, queue as a DPS. The group needs to be able to count on your heals being there in an emergency. If you can drop some DPS into the mix, that’s fine, but never let it get in the way of performing your prime duty; keeping the team alive.

A few general suggestions for EVERYONE.

Be repaired, be armed with your proper Reagents, and BUFF PEOPLE. Few things say “lazy selfish bugger” to me quite as clearly as someone that just can’t be bothered to buff anyone else on the run. I don’t care if you think it’s necessary or not, the point is that as a team player, you have a way to contribute to the overall success of the group. So buff people.

Don’t queue up for a run unless you intend to stay for the entire length of the run. Within reasonable limits, of course. If the group is just completely fail, and you try and try to pull things together and people just aren’t willing to listen or work together, then no, I’m not saying stick it out for four hours. I am specifically saying, don’t queue for a group, get a group, start the run, and ten minutes later announce “Whoops, raid time, gotta go, bye!” and drop group.  That’s bullshit. If you don’t have ten minutes, then you don’t have time. Don’t queue.

I have never said all this stuff before, at least in so many words, because in my heart I thought everyone that wanted to group, wanted to do their best to be a team player.

I’m writing this in the hopes that people really DO want to be a good team player, but don’t understand how.

What I’m afraid of is that most people that act like selfish asshats in teams do so intentionally, because they really don’t give a damn about anyone else. Nothing will help that situation, except an ever-expanding ignore list.

I’ll end this with one very serious statement.

Having a high gear score does not make you a good player. Putting out 15k DPS, having 100K Health, or being able to heal a Squirrel through a Hurricane does not make you a good player. I will not kiss your ass. Those stats are loot based. Static. They say nothing of how good a player you are, they only indicate what kind of content you’ve run successfully in the past with other people. 

What they really tell us is that you’ve run in a group that had some good players in it. It tells us nothing about YOU.

What makes you a good player is how you behave as part of a team, in every team you join. You have to prove yourself fresh every single time you join a group.

In WoW, just as in real life, nobody cares how you played on your other character, on your main, in your raid group, or with your friends last week. All we care about is, how are you playing right now?

I invite all other bloggers to think about what their favorite class can do in terms of being a strong supportive team player, and write a post to help guide folks along those lines.

I know it seems, well, obvious, but seriously, based on the runs I go on it’s past time to be clear about this stuff, and bring team play back to the front of people’s awareness.

Comments 75 Comments »

Offtopic Bearwall rant!

Okay, a lot of consumer level Customer Service people are pretty wonky, but when you step up into commerical purchasing, it’s a whole new ball game.

In the comsumer market, you might think that when you’re buying a $120 DVD player, sure you deserve some reasonable customer service help if the thing doesn’t work, but you don’t expect someone to hop in a lear jet and fly out from corporate headquarters to hold your hand, right?

You’ve got certain expectations. You figure someone should really try to help you, but you know that, in the end, it’s a $120 DVD player, the person you’re talking to on the phone didn’t actually break it personally when it went out the door, they’ve got rules they’ve got to follow, they’re not being paid all that well in the first place unless customer service is only one facet of the responsibilities of their position, and if you’re being a tool to them in the first place, well…

What about consumer Customer Service for things other than goods? What about monthly services, like, oh, let’s just say for example cable internet?

That’s where you start getting into interesting territory in the consumer side of things, right?

Because I know NONE of you have ever been trying to log into WoW 30 minutes before raid time, only to find out your internet was dead, had no way of letting anyone, you know, online know what was wrong with you, and had to frantically call customer support for your internet service provider, desperate to get it fixed.

On the line is your current irritation at a momentary interruption in service, weighted against your inherent laziness when it comes to changing service providers. They know they don’t have to be good enough to win your business, they just have to not suck so much that they piss you off enough to throw off your laziness and switch.

God help you if they’re the only high speed game in town. Sucker.

Someone should actually do an audio montage of those phone conversations. That’s got to be one hell of a sub-cultural bubble, right there.

Protip: If you’re afraid it’ll be a problem in the future, have a “swim buddy” in your guild that you share cell phone numbers with, so if your internet goes out, you’ve got someone to get in touch with and let ‘em know.

Okay, fine, so everyone has their customer service horror story.

When you step up into the commercial arena, you’d expect things might be a touch different, wouldn’t you? Sure, a $120 DVD player is one thing, but drop a few hundred thousand on some gear, you’d expect just a teensy bit more, right?

The first change is, in most cases, you don’t ever go to a store to make your selection or final purchase.

Instead, you start with a specific need, you identify companies that make products that fit those needs, you contact their sales offices, make appointments to meet with them, sales people fly out to meet with you and do the hard sell, you read their brochures, check schematics and characteristic data, and in some cases actually visit other customers already using the equipment, to see how they like it, see how they’re using it, and observe it in action.

When you’re contemplating buying a $250,000 to $1 million+ machine made in another country that will be designed and built from scratch based on your requirements, and that will have a several month lead time, preceeded by preparing a place in your production facility with appropriate power, water, pneumatic and exhaust capacity, it’s a whole other experience than walking into Best Buy or Sears.

If YOU were preparing to drop a cool million in another companies’ pockets, you might think that they’d treat you a nice, right?

And the sales people do.

But once the sale is made, what about when you need something later on? Like the machine ain’t working right and you need help figuring it out? Or a part broke and you need a new one?

Do you think when you call in to customer support on that big ticket machine, you get treated the same way the sales guy treated your company president?

Oh, hell no.

The majority of us in this position don’t expect or want trips to Cancun or other kickbacks when we call in with a problem, either.

We just want someone to do the bare minimum. Help us get going again.

What you don’t see the upper management types who will make the final decision considering is what happens AFTER the sale.

What is their support like?

What happens when you need parts to fix it when it breaks down?

See, when you buy a custom high-cost machine like this, you’re chaining yourself to their repair parts system. It doesn’t matter if you like it or not. They built it, and they intend to make money off of you. BIG TIME.

You’ve got two choices when something breaks down. Buy it directly through them, or try to find it somewhere else on your own.

If you buy it directly from them, then if you’re lucky, they have some in stock, or know where to get it already, so you know it won’t take that long to get it. Maybe. BUT, they are buying it somewhere else, or having it made by a fabrication shop somewhere else to their specs, and then adding a fee on top of it before selling it to you.

If you find it direct from the manufacturer, it may be a lot cheaper, but it will often have a long lead time… like weeks or even months before you’ll get it.

Especially if you just bought a piece of equipment designed and manufactured in another country. Guess what? Japanese engineers seling machines to the American market aren’t known for looking for American solutions to engineering problems. The parts they choose to build from are sold, guess where? Japan!

So when you call in looking for parts, where do you think they’re coming from? That’s right!

Another fun issue is, companies don’t want you to go around ‘em for cheaper parts. A lot of companies work deals with the manufacturer to use custom part numbers on their labels, and only sell those part numbers to the guy who makes the machines. You call, say, Koganei in Japan looking for a new air cylinder, and tell them the part number, and Koganei sees in their system that part number is for something they only sell to Toshiba… and they tell you to talk to Toshiba, ’cause they won’t sell ‘em to you. You want one to fix your machine. Toshiba buys them by the hundred. Guess who they’d rather piss off.

And lots of manufacturers don’t want to deal directly with the end user. They’d prefer dealing with a middleman willing to put up with your bullshit. So they don’t sell to end users at all. They only sell to people that are set up as regional or local distributors. So, you have to find a distributor in your area… and hope that person is willing to help your one time purchase.

And if they are, you tell the distributor you want an air cylinder, they say sure, they email the manufacturer in Japan, the manufacturer in Japan sends the email to a translation department, a few days later they get it back, they get some info on your part, send their reply to the translator, then get it back, then send it to the distributor, who calls you, if they even remember you since a week and a half has passed since you asked for a quote on price, availability and lead time.

Now you can place an order.

Nice, huh?

But okay, you deal with what you got.

What blows my fragile little mind is how hard it is, even if everything works according to plan, in GETTING THE DAMN PARTS.

Every day, every single day, about half my time is spent calling people and asking where the stuff I ordered is, days, weeks or even months after I was promised I’d receive it.

That’s exactly right. This is not time spent ordering items.

No, this is time spent asking where the (%^ the shit you promised me is, damnit!

You won’t let me order it from somewhere else? Well, damnit, then you’d better sell it to me when I need it!

Grrr.

“Hello, yes, I do have a question. I’m trying to find out what the status is on the part I ordered on PO# P349087. Yes, yes I did order it. No, I’m afraid you’re wrong, I did place the order. Oh, you have no record of that on file?  I must have faxed it to the wrong location, or the fax didn’t go through, so it’s my fault you don’t have it? Well, what would you say if I told you that thanks to the last three times you’ve pulled this same exact shit, Amanda, I now document all phone conversations, take down all names of people from your company that I talk to, and that I email AND fax in all orders I place, and then call back to verify your companies’ receipt of said order before I consider it ordered? Do you remember the order now? Would you like me to fax all of that documentation in to you now to helpfully remind you?”

“Still don’t have any record on your end that I ordered that $5000 servoamp, huh? Must’ve been one of those famous computer glitches in the database, right? Dog ate the homework? ”

“Oh, is it a ten week lead time on getting one from Japan? Really? And now that it’s really ordered I should wait for ten more weeks before I call back if I don’t see it?”

“Yeah… that’s what you told me ten weeks ago. Thanks!”

Bitch.

You think I’m joking. I bet you do.

Here’s another example.

I am sitting here, telling this person on the phone, “My company has one of your machines, and cash. Your company made the machine, and presumably wants cash. Tell you what. Your machine broke. I need the part. You buy the part from someone else, and keep the part in stock. You actually charge us $150.36 for a part that the manufacturer charges us $36.54 each (real freaking example from 5 minutes ago), but I’m willing to pay you that extra $115 bucks right now because you have one in stock, right now, and the manufacturer wants a two week lead time to ship from Japan. So here’s what we’ll do. I’ll order the part, you’ll put the part in a box, toss it at your UPS guy for overnight express, and we’ll pay you. Okay? We get the part tomorrow, the machine will be back up and running after one day of downtime, and you’ll get money at a truly bullshit markup. Okay?”

You give me goods. I give you cash. You’ve made stupid profit because your design engineer used a substandard part for a high stress application in the first place, so the parts wear out frequently.

Sounds good, right?

And yet… AND YET… a week later, I’ll have made 10 phone calls asking WHERE THE HELL THE PART IS. I base this knowledge off of past history with this company.

Third example. This one is still going on.

We’ve got three machines made by a German-based manufacturing company. They’ve been in the plant about ten years, they cost a ton of money, and none of them have ever worked quite right. A lot of money has been sunk into these machines over the years, trying to get them to work reliably.

In particular, one machine has a Rube Goldberg invention for an outfeed carriage. I’ve been trying to get it working properly. 

About 5 months ago, I decided to start from scratch with perfect components, to make sure everything was set at zero per the manufacturers’ design, and then if things weren’t quite right we’d redesign things ourselves to increase reliability.

I ordered all the parts from Germany. I had to. They have all of the build drawings for fabrication. They are the manufacturer themselves, nobody else. They hold the keys to the kingdom.

We get the parts, we install them after the two month lead time, it still doesn’t work with a damn.

WTF?

So I’m going over schematics, I’m reading exploded parts diagrams and design drawings, and I come across a mention, in a faxed memo in one manual’s folder pocket, about an engineer visit from Germany to install some modifications in 2007.

A what to the who?

I gather up all the manuals and documentation, and sure enough, in one manual out of the entire set, there is a note that the parts list shown is obsolete due to modifications designed and installed by the manufacturer to correct the very issue we’ve been dealing with.

But those parts as described ain’t in the machine, and haven’t been since I’ve been here. They do not exist on site. But now I do have their new parts list with a description of what they did.

The manual showing the changes was in our engineering library, not the maintenance OR production libraries. Nobody in the maintenance department back then, apparently, was involved in this project, and none of those people work here anymore now, anyway.

So, I’ve been fighting these problems for a year now, and I’ve spent thousands of dollars ordering things to repair this machine from the manufacturer, things that wear out too bloody fast, and here I find out that the very person in Germany that I have been talking to, and ordering from, is the person that according to this memo I found designed and installed an upgrade to permanently fix their machines’ original bad design.

I’ve been reinventing the wheel. And this guy has been letting me. “Oh no, no idea what could possibly be wrong, are you sure you set it up right?”

We even, and I’m not freaking kidding, we even flew this guy out from Germany to look at the machine and provide us with suggestions on making improvements. After all, he’s the expert, right?

When he came here, he acted as though it was the first time he’d ever heard of such a problem with this machine.

And he got away with it, because none of us were here when it happened. BUT, he also never volunteered any information about the modifications he had designed, the parts they had installed, nothing. He let us sit and spin.

So here I am. I need this thing fixed. So I tell him two months ago I need to order a full set of the parts from the modification, the CORRECT parts, so we can implement it. Again.

We’ll worry about how this all fell apart some other time. Fix the damn problem.

It’s been two months since I ordered the parts. Two months. I have followed up on this every week. Hell, several times a week.

I still… STILL do not have an estimated SHIP DATE, let alone the parts in my hand.

A month ago, I started telling them that if they are THAT busy, give me the design drawings, we’ll fab ‘em ourselves. They refuse to give design drawings to customers, because then… hold onto your hats, folks… then the customer would not buy their parts from their company anymore! Their company would lose revenue!

Never mind that there is no way in hell we’re ever buying a machine from them ever again. I’ve made sure of that.

At the moment, I’ve actually cut away that section of the machine, and modified it to use a belt driven conveyor with a variable speed drive I designed and installed so we can run. It works. It ain’t pretty, but it works.

It blows my mind. It really does.

And now that I’ve ranted about this… I am going to pick up my phone and give them ANOTHER call, to see if and when I will ever get my parts.

Bastards.

I just don’t understand these people. I’m literally giving them enough money for some bloody-be-damned milled plates and a rail that, for the same amount of money, I could use to buy a car, drive it to the East Coast, buy a plane ticket, fly to Germany, rent a car, drive to their factory, and BEAT THEIR ASS IN THEIR OWN F’ING LOBBY. And then come home again afterwards, tired but satisfied.

Don’t think I haven’t considered it.

Oh, and yes, in case you’re wondering, my unit of value when making commercial value comparisons is based on car equivalents. “I could buy your air cylinder… or I could buy a new Hyundai. I think, just possibly, your air cylinder might be a bit overpriced. It’s 6 steel plates, a spring, a bronze bushing and two threaded holes for quick disconnect air fittings. And you don’t even provide the fittings. And you think this is worth the price of a Hyundai?”

Holy shit.

Look, if you’re going to put yourself intentionally in the position of being the only possible source for repair parts, PROVIDE THE DAMN PARTS!!!

Oh, as an FYI… this is why a proper maintenance management program involves analyzing machines for expected wear items and critical parts based on expected lead times, parts costs, and downtime. You figure out what is important, what you can’t live without if it breaks, how long it’d take to get the parts if they were ordered, how important machine downtime is, and then you build an on-site parts inventory to hold the most important stuff. And you also try to find alternate sources of supply for EVERYTHING.

Grrr.

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This last weekend, it was revealed that account hackers have successfully bypassed Authenticator security using “man in the middle” attacks; interposing themselves between player and server, and taking the player’s input for themselves, telling the player they failed to login, and then using the info themselves to get in and change things to suit themselves.

Today, I received an email from Intravax, who had a harrowing story to tell;

We had 3 of our members’ accounts stolen within the last month. No major damage as there are caps to what ppl are allowed to withdraw from the vault.

Then one of our officers got hit and that did a bit more damage, although it wasn’t anything that couldn’t be replaced in a week or 2.

Then, this Monday on 3/1/2010 it was like our WoW version of Sept 11th. All our officers got hit, including our GL (each of us have authenticators) and 6 other guildies.

The hackers were like a virus and multiplied by immediately inviting several dozen other characters and promoting them all to the highest rank possible, and we were cleaned out and all our toons were deleted (most of us had at least 3-4 Lvl 80’s all geared in T9 or above). As an added twist to the gut, before the toons were deleted the hackers used them to spam in /trade and /general for their gold selling companies, thereby getting our accounts suspended our reputation tarnished.

All 6 tabs of our vault were filled to the brink with top level flasks, gems, enchants, crafting mats, buff food, etc.  Additionally, we had over 75k gold which was donated by the officers and guild members to offset the costs of all the crafting materials that were donated.

Is it a claim made by a reader, impossible for me to confirm? Yes.

Do I believe the writer? Yes. Yes, I do. The entire email was very well written, it wasn’t asking for any kind of action or publicity on my part. Intravax was just letting me know what had happened to him, his friends and their casual guild, and giving me a heads up to be careful with my own casual guild bank settings, so that the chances of the same thing happening to Sidhe Devils might be reduced.

Thank you, Intravox. I can assure you, having been the victim of account hacking years ago myself, before Burning Crusade was released, I know at least a little of how it feels to come in and find that your character or account is trashed.

In my case, the hacking happened in mid-session, Christmas Eve several years ago, while I was on vent with friends in Undead Strat doing, as I recall, a timed Baron run. So, I got to hear, live and in person, the play-by-play details as my friends followed my character, still all in party together, through hearthing from Eastern Plaguelands/Strat Undead to Ironforge, watched me strip naked, and then, still in party with my main, watched as party chat showed my character D/E’ing all my stuff , mailed the mats off… and then followed my character as it ran back and forth from the bank to the mailbox, sending off all my stuff to someone else.

At least my character wasn’t deleted.

Merry Christmas, Windshadow!

Talk about wanting to just quit the game in disgust. That right there is a feeling of violation that is difficult to overcome. The emotional aspect, quite apart from the inconvenience of lost items, characters or gold that might be returned after an investigation, is hard to describe.

What is it? Why does this keep happening, despite the best efforts of Blizzard to prevent it?

Sophisticated methods for hacking player accounts are designed, developed, tested and implemented.

This represents a significant investment in time and resources on someone’s part.

What would be the incentive to cause folks to go to such extended lengths to get access to your account?

Here is my assumption; real world money is the incentive.

It is my assumption, my theory, that the majority of hacked accounts are performed by gold sellers looking for inventory to sell to a willing market, and not malicious punk kids with too much time on their hands.

A market of consumers that will seek them out and offer them real world currency in exchange for virtual world gold.

I don’t buy gold, and you don’t buy gold, and nobody you have ever known has ever bought gold… and yet, somehow… people still make money selling gold.

Funny, isn’t it?

It’s my understanding that there are several ways gold sellers acquire the gold they offer to fulfill orders.

First, there are people that work directly for gold sellers, that go out and farm and play the auction house to develop gold.

Second, there are people who may be regular players like anyone else, but they work as affiliates, independant ‘stringers’, and when they have gold available to sell, they contact the gold sellers directly and offer it to them… for less than the gold seller will flip it for to the buyer. The gold seller has the website contacts to sell, the stringer has someone they know to sell to when they have some extra.

Methods one and two, as I described them, are fairly safe for the gold seller, but they represent an investment, an expenditure. They have to either pay someone to play to harvest the gold directly, or pay a stringer to get their supply.

The third method is to hack a stranger’s account, loot all their stuff, ship it off to a third party to clearance it, and then delete the account.

This is fast, and aside from developing the hacking method and identifying the target, inexpensive on the part of the gold seller. Either the account is hacked or not, and with guild banks, the potential score goes beyond access to one player’s account.

This business all revolves around the fact that players have something that has a real world monetary value, and there are those out there that have the means and the desire to take from others to enrich themselves. And even better… where are the cops to prosecute them for the stolen goods?

“Excuse me officer, but I had $1500 in property stolen last night.”
“Oh, really? Tell me, where did the crime take place?”
“On Kael’thas, Alliance side. They got everything. Wiped me clean out. They got away with over 25,000 gold, enchanting mats, Frozen Orbs and epics with a street value of $1500. And they defaced my property by deleting my characters!” 
“Uh…. huh. Get the hell out of my sight, nutball.”

In almost all cases, I would be willing to bet that it is not a vindictive or malicious act; I really believe it is the real world monetary benefit that keeps them doing this.

So long as you have something they want, something that is valuable to them, and there is no actual risk involved to them in taking it, then they will continue to plot means of stealing you blind.

I would like to propose a possible solution.

Blizzard, please, open an official micro-transaction store and just sell the gold yourself.

Do it.

No limits on how much, make it legal, and price it so low that it’s undercutting the gold sellers.

Players are somehow able to find gold sellers online, so I’ve got to imagine, since you’ve got computers and the internet yourselves, that you could figure out where they are and how much they charge.

Give the player, the person that seems unable to tear themselves away from buying gold, a legitimate, safe and dependable location to get it from.

Remove any reason someone may have to visit a gold seller outside of Blizzard.

Tell the players, if they really cannot stand to farm gold for epic flying or that awesome epic hammer on the AH themselves, you will give them a place to go where they know they’re getting the best deal, the transaction will be safe, they will not be subject to viruses or hacking, and they will not be risking an account ban.

On the flip side, make it clear that if you DO catch anyone buying gold or selling gold outside their own store, you WILL still ban their account.

I didn’t want to make the obvious analogy with prohibition and alcohol… but seriously. If players, regardless of what the consequences may be to them, continue to go give the gold sellers money, then the gold sellers will continue to find ways of getting it to give.

Remove the incentive. Take away their payday. Reduce their market to nothing.

Make them go find someone else to rip off.

Now, I’m not naive. I know that the WoW economy is very involved, and Blizzard does a lot to try and balance the availability of gold through play with the number of things that you can spend it on. Blizzard is a world economy in scope, and they have to do a lot of work behind the scenes to battle inflation.

That being said… I think, purely my own opinion but what the heck, on a blog that’s what you get, pure opinion, but I think I can safely say people are sick and tired of wondering if today is the day some thief has hacked their account.

Just do it. Cut out the middle man, sell the gold yourself, and call it a day.

I won’t buy it, but someone out there sure as heck will, and you’d be performing a valuable service for the community if you can finally find some way of cutting the gold sellers off at the knees.

Comments 69 Comments »

Ah, the rush of joy from the first few weeks of the new LFG!

How quickly it turns sour in the face of reality… or in this case, asshats.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love it, but I know my experiences are starting to mirror those Das Panzercow shared yesterday.

I’ve mostly been grouping with Windshadow the Druid, and that had given me a skewed perspective.

The very first couple days of 3.3, sure I did some LFG on my Paladin as DPS, but everyone and their little brother was online trying it out then.

Now, things have matured, Emblems have been won, and the self-centered attitudes of so many people are starting to come out, like stink rising off of… well, you know.

My Druid is dual-specced as Tank and Healer.

As a Tank and Healer both, I had long experience in running all Heroics that had been out successfully, frequently with guild members that had new alts. With the new LFG channel, all that happened was that in the pugs, most often there would be at least one raider that had better gear than I was used to seeing, so the runs, if anything, got faster.

Queueing up for LFG, as a Healer, I generally saw an instance pop in under two minutes, if that long. As a tank, it takes about 1 millisecond.

The longer queues would come when Cassie and I wanted to play together, and we’d group and join as Healer/DPS combo. Sometimes, it would take as long as five minutes.

Awww. Yep, I said I had a skewed perspective, right?

Switch to my Hunter. I was looking, and saw that my Hunter had 29 Conquest Emblems, and nothing at all worth buying from Conquest or Valor. Nada.

BUT… with just a few random Heroics, I could get enough Triumph to downgrade everything into an Heirloom Trinket. Still don’t have two of both Heirloom Trinkets, so hey! Cool! I could get there with just three or four random Heroics!

Yeah… welcome to the world of solo DPS queued for LFG. 15 minute to 25 minute wait times.

Damn, was I spoiled on my Druid.

So, now I can see first hand that, yes, it’s all much, much better than before, but it’s certainly not responsive equally to all roles. And really, how could it be?

If you’ll recall, my prediction prior to 3.3 was that solo DPS would be able to get a group far faster, but I never imagined that 20 minutes would seem long. I stated that I’d just be delighted if I could get a group without being online for two hours in the channel, and hell yes, that wish has been fulfilled.

I’m seeing more than just differing wait times, though. I’m seeing, as I said above, a rapid increase in asshattery. Or maybe laziness.

We could debate the RNG factor affecting what instances we get, and our suspicions that Blizzard has, ahem, weighted some to crop up more than others. But I’m sure it’s not the case. Ahem.

I’ll just throw my paranoia into the ring by saying I’ve had Utgardt Pinnacle, Halls of Lightning, Halls of Stone and OMG Oculus a LOT more often than anything else. And I still haven’t seen Culling of Strat, one of my favorites.

That’s not actually a complaint, since I like Lightning, Pinnacle and Stone. It’s just an observation, when Cassie and I see the loading screen, I believe her direct quote these days can be counted as being, “What, are you kidding me, Halls of Stone AGAIN?!?”

I tried to do my Hunter in LFG a couple days ago… I had Oculus for my first of the day, and as soon as the Tank zoned in to see where we were, he left party. Within 5 minutes of waiting for another tank, the party fell apart.

So I went and did other things.

Later that day, I went into LFG again. After my 20 minute wait, I got… Oculus again.

The new tank left the group again.

Got Azjol-Nerub after that. Two DPS both declined the group without even seeing what the instance was going to be, and when they got replaced, one of those DPS and the Tank left as soon as we zoned in.

Yes, in Azjol Nerub.

A Death Knight switched to tank spec, we re-joined LFG, got another DPS… and THAT DPS left group as soon as entering the instance. After that a Ret Pally came in and, OMG, stayed and we could run the place.

As we ran, the Tank and the Healer (a Shaman) took turns sniping bitchily at each other. The Healer kicked things off by being snarky at the tank’s gear, the tank got defensive in reply by playing the “I quit WoW for a year and only just got back so that’s why my gear sucks” card, then the Healer responded with questions concerning noobness about the tanks’s skill after so long away, then the tank would comment that at least he could tank and chew gum at the same time, etc etc ad nauseaum.

The whole run, two different people from two different servers entirely, bitching at each other. For No. Apparent. Reason.

The run lasted about 12 minutes from first pull to dead Anub. Okay, maybe it was longer, but that was a seriously fast speed run, everyone had over 3k DPS, including the tank… we even accidentally pulled Hadronox before he web wrapped the stairs because the tank didn’t know any better, and we still pulled it off.

Yeah, what the hell are these two crackheads bitching about? I have no idea.

But come on.

This trend, of tanks in particular leaving the party and taking the deserter debuff if the Instance is not to their liking, is happening with an ever accelerating pace.

Welcome to the world of primadonna rockstar tanks that think that the world really does revolve around them.

Nothing in the game is serving to disabuse them of that notion, anymore. Want a run as a tank? You can get one whenever the whim strikes. Don’t like what you get? Why not leave, there’s always another one whenever the fancy takes you.

A solo DPS trying to get a group in good faith, willing to stick out a run, will wait from 10 to 20 minutes after he joins LFG.

A tank looking for a quick and easy run can get an instance immediately, see what it is, get pissy, “Aw, AN again?” and leave group, and by the time their deserter debuff times out, that DPS is just getting his first group.

I was playing with PetEmote in Dalaran yesterday, PetEmote has been updated for Patch 3.2 and I configured mine for Voytek the Spirit Bear, and while testing my emotes, I saw this said in Trade Chat:

“Enjoy the runs in LFG while you can, noobs, as soon as all the Tanks get the last of the Triumph and Frost they want, and the new bosses are unlocked in Icecrown, you’re never gonna see another tank again. They’ll be raiding with their guilds and getting Frost and you’ll be shit out of luck.”

Well, I guess all tanks raid then, right?

Because guilds need SO MANY tanks, that everyone that wants to tank gets to.

Oh, wait… raiding guilds only need two, MAYBE three tanks in a 25 person raid.

Well, I’m sure that out of 25 people, only two or three ever really want to raid anything. I’m sure.

What happens when there is a scarcity of a commodity, and there are tangible benefits to be derived from providing that commodity?

Someone identifies it and fills the need.

In this case, my simple prediction is that as tanks continue to be scarce, more people seeing long wait times as DPS will dual spec if possible, and start gearing up a tank spec. Then they will expoit the fact that tanks get instant groups, and run to their heart’s content.

Please keep in mind, I never said they’d be GOOD tanks. :)

As was pointed out by Panzercow, the new world order as far as most groups go, is zerg the content, ignore Crowd Control, and blame the Healer if someone dies.

I did a random last night with Cassie, I was healing, and we got Heroic ToC.

The tank was a Bear tank, and we had the Hunter, Rogue and Mage.

The Bear tank stood in the poison puddle. Never moved.

I’m healing my butt off, since I feel it is my job NOT to just keep everyone alive, but instead to keep everyone at 100%. If a single Health bar dips, I get pissed. Lose health on ME, will you! We’ll just see about that.

On a related note, I hate Warlocks. There you are, keeping everyone alive fighting the trash after Ick in Heroic Pit of Saron, the Flamewraiths are AoEing everyone and porting and the tank isn’t on them, they’re not getting interrupted, and why the hell is it that one bastards’ health keeps plummeting like a stone?

Why, the Warlock is Life Tapping to get mana back as he struggles to be leet DPS, of course. While standing in the AoE fire. That prick.

Anyway, so Heroic ToC, Bear tank is standing unmoving in the puddle of poison, just standing there. Cassie is melee DPS and she’s not able to both get on the mobs AND avoid standing in the puddle. Cassie is bitching to me about the noob tank that is too stupid to get out of the green bloody-be-damned fire, and I’m agreeing “yes dear” as I’m actually reduced to spamming Nourish on the tank to keep him alive.

The fight is over, nobody died, loot box appears.

The Bear tank asks how he’s doing tanking.

I do a /inspect, out of curiosity. His gear is a pretty solid mix of iLevel 200 epics and a few Triumph items right off my list. A Darkmoon Card: Berserking trinket seems an odd choice, but really, not bad. Certainly more than adequate for Heroic ToC.

Out of politeness, I accentuate the positive, and mention that he held aggro very well.

I am having a hard time thinking of how to politely phrase the concept, “Next time you might want to get your furry butt out of the green puddles so DPS can get it stuck in” when he says, and I kid you not…

“Oh good. And great heals! I knew you were a great healer when I saw I’d been standing in the poison and I didn’t have to move because my health wasn’t going down.”

…..

Way to encourage them, Bear. Nicely done. Dumbass.

If I’d let him die, or even let his health hover towards the low end, maybe he would have been inspired to work more on his mobility next time, or pop his cooldowns.

But no, I kept him alive, and reinforced the idea that you can brute force things, and it’s okay. Zerg, zerg, zerg.

Sigh.

Please, if you have never tanked before and want to step forward and join the ranks of the new tanks, please.

Do so. Do so without regret, and without fear.

But here are some tips. Serious tips, not snarky ones.

First, if you CAN gear up from going as a different spec on LFG in Heroic, by all means do so. There is no shame in running as DPS or Heals, and rolling on tanking offset gear and using Triumph Emblems to buy tanking goodies.

Dechion, I’m talking to you. :)

Whatever you choose to do, when you first set out to tank, use LFG to select normal early instances, such as Nexus, Utgardt Keep, Drak’theron Keep, Gundrak and Azjol-Nerub .

Take the time to go to, say, Wowhead and look at their zone descriptions for the instances. Create little cheat sheets, one page instructions breaking down what each boss does, or tips to watch for from the trash.

As an example, have a sheet for Azjol-Nerub that details Skirmisher abilities on the first boss, so you are prepared for when it ignores you and heads for the most distant player to destroy. Or mentions on Hadronox that if you stand in his green poison cloud, your lost health is healing the boss.

When you zone into a specific chosen instance, let the rest of the group know that, regardless of your gear or the level range of the normal instance, you are there to practise your tanking skills, and ask if everyone is okay with taking it a little slower than they may be used to, to help give you a chance to learn how to do it right. Depending on the group, you may even get some folks willing to offer helpful, non-dickwad suggestions.

And above all else… practise. Be serious about getting better.

Identify the normal situations… what to do when a ranged caster doesn’t come to you, what to do when you’ve got a large group on you and you lose aggro on one mob, learn how to mark, etc. 

Take the time, if you don’t already know it, to familiarize yourself with the different options of crowd control that other classes may have.

As a Bear tank, you can’t silence distant caster mobs to force them to come to you. But you can always ask other players to use their CC, so long as you and others don’t break it. 

You can also do what I do, use an addon like CaelNameplates to see aggro on all mobs, at once without tabbing, and be ready to toss Growl/Feral Faerie Fire on ranged mobs that you see you lost aggro on. Or Feral Charge them when your current target dies. Or whatever.

My point is, if you want to learn to tank, remember you don’t HAVE to LFG a random Heroic in your new full set of Triumph gear, get a Heroic Halls of Reflection, and be left wondering what the heck to do next.

Here’s hoping that things ease out soon, we get more people inspired to tank, and happy tanking!

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