Archive for the “Theorycrafting” Category

I don’t really think of this as a QQ rant at all. I’m feeling a lot of enthusiasm for the actual Wrath expansion.

I feel optimistic about the future of Bear tanking, I feel optimistic that Shadow Priests will still be nifty (raiders can bemoan the 51 point talent, but I don’t raid. I think Dispersion in action looks cool.) and my Hunter looks to be getting all sorts of yummy goodness. Even for people like me, that intend to keep their kitty pet.

The quests look cool, there are tons more instances and stuff to do, raids will all have ten person versions, there are bear mounts for anyone that wants one, motorcycle mounts look neat, reputation grinds are reduced in pain and suffering because you can wear a tabard that applies all reputation you earn in any instance to the faction of your choice, so no more running hated instances 100 times to get the one reputation reward you feel you need from a faction, and the whole continent is huge in scope.

Nope, I’m looking forward to having lots and lots more fun in the game.

I figure it’ll be at least two months before I start to see people whining that they are bored. At least two months.

Well, maybe one month.

But… and you knew that, on this site, there is always a butt… I am not looking forward to playing the big number game again.

It’s gotten too big for me. It feels silly.

When the first expansion came out, we were in awe of those first items. You know exactly what I’m talking about, because you still see level 60 purples on the AH all the time, both profession recipes and drops.

We’d look at our hard earned level 60 epics, and then look at the stats on the green quality quest rewards in Hellfire, and we’d weep.

Here’s the funny thing though… we’re in the same situation now. We have our level 70 epics, and we can browse Wowhead or MMO Champion, take a look at the stats on the new level 80 gear…

And the stats are so big they’re silly. 

You know what gear you have now, and you know darn good and well how effective it is against what you’re fighting at 70.

When you see the stats on a similar item in the Wrath expansion though, and see the massive spike in numbers… well, how do you know if that is good? Great? Ridiculous? 

I feel like they are telling me I’m going to be wielding Godzilla for a two handed weapon.

“I swing at you with my giant thunder lizard! Hah! Oh, you dodge? Well, Dodge this nuclear breath attack! Fwooosh!”

Let me give you an example.

Right now, my favorite, prized tanking possession is my Earthwarden. I worked hard for that puppy, and I cherish it. Other bear tanks have moved on past it, but for those of us pre-SSC, Earthwarden is the big momma of bear tanking weapons.

earthwarden.jpg 

MMMmmmmmMMM…. Okay, now let’s contrast that with three new Wrath upgrades, shall we?

First, a quest reward from the level 74 group quest, Wanted: Ragemane’s Flipper.

staffofsorrowfulchieftain.jpg

Okay, it could be legitimately called a Kitty staff, but with Stamina like that, and Agility like that, is this also great for tanking? We’re going to be uncrittable anyway, so the loss of Defense rating isn’t that huge… but what about losing the armor?

Boy, that Agility and Stamina look huge next to our Earthwarden, don’t they?

But reality check.. this is a quest reward for a level 74 group quest with a recommended number of players of three. Everyone will have this. It’s possible the devs added this as our new Bladefist’s Breadth, an easy but godlike blue drop from a quest. But we don’t really know. Why not check out some level 80 drops to see?

Let’s move on to a drop from a Heroic instance… in this case, Heroic Utgarde Keep.

The drop  in question is the Enraged Feral Staff.

enragedferalstaff.jpg

To quote Keanu… Whoa.

That’s right, that’s +117 Stamina. That’s also 1,092 armor. +56 WHAT?!?!

And that’s all on a blue drop from a Heroic instance.

I look at the numbers on that, and I don’t even know what to say.

+117 Stamina? WTF?

If that’s a blue drop, what would an achievable epic look like?

Well, let’s look at an epic drop from ten man Naxxramas, the Staff of the Plague Beast.

staffoftheplaguebeast.jpg

Now do you see what I mean?

Sure, those are awesome numbers. Boy, those numbers are big. Are you kidding me with those numbers? Shoot, I’ll just equip that staff, strip naked and have fun storming the castle, okay?

The numbers are big enough that I know, I just know that there is no way that they equate to anything we are doing now. 

At this point, you have to look at the numbers and realize that diminishing returns must be pretty brutal at level 80.  

Remember the way things work in this game? The higher your character level, the less bonus you get from your stats.

Sure, a point of Stamina is still 10 health, that doesn’t change.

Keep in mind, this ain’t a QQ. It’s just the facts of life. 

That staff has +89 Agility. Wow.

At level 70 for Druids with 350 Defense,  14.71 Agility equals 1% Dodge. So +89 Agility is worth 6.05% Dodge.

6.05% Dodge, all the time, on a single piece of gear. Ignore the Stamina, that Agility is amazing.

But if we then look at Whitetooths’ work on determining a Druids’ Agility to Dodge ratio, we see that for Druids at level 80 and 400 Defense, 42.37 Agility is equal to 1% Dodge.

So at level 80, that same +89 Agility is worth 2.1% Dodge.

You see what I mean?

If you look at +89 Agility with the eyes of a 70 Druid, and see big huge honkin’ Dodge, you aren’t looking at it right. It’s not what you’re used to.

I’ll still be very satisfied by getting that staff. 2% Dodge is a fine amount of Dodge for a tanking weapon, especially with the Stamina, Armor, Strength and Attack Power. I’ll be very happy with it.

Now that I know what those stats will really equate to.

The trap is looking at all of the gear with these big honking numbers, and thinking that we are going to be walking gods. 

You have to remember that because of the diminishing returns of all stats as you increase in level, every time you ding, your existing gear actually makes you less powerful. You have to upgrade everything’s stat values just to stay the same.

I am excited as all heck at actually playing the expansion. I think it’s gonna be tons of fun. This ain’t a QQ about item scaling, etc. We all got used to it in Burning Crusade, and we will get used to it all over again.

Overall, I think we’ve found that when we ding and gain our Weapon Skill and Defense Skill increases, we still feel plenty powerful against monsters of appropriate levels, even in the same gear.

But I do wish that Blizzard would add the same basic functionality you can get from an addon like RatingsBuster, something that would put in paranthesis next to an item’s stats what it actually does for YOU, right now, at your class and level.

Because if you think the casual player was confused about upgrades now, can you imagine what it’s going to be like at level 80 in Wrath?

I mean, shoot… in Burning Crusade people were willing to drop 400 gold on a single gem that added +2 Agility. From Delicate Living Ruby to Delicate Crimson Spinel, people spent some serious gold to upgrade.

Can you really see that happening in Wrath? +2 Agility… it just doesn’t go as far as it used to, does it?

Comments 9 Comments »

So, writing the previous post, I went to grab a link to Two and a Half Orcs, so’s I could link to Wulfa, and found that she’d just written a blog post about the very run I was talking about.

And she said something that I think is very flattering, and made me want to post a kind of gear status update.

Wulfa said;

And there was something else I forgot to mention about Kara. I really shouldn’t, because Cassie has enough to deal with :) But TripleB’s druid tanking Prince is just a beautiful sight. He engages, we all hunker down, everything gets quiet on Vent, and we start our dps. And we keep going, and going, and going. And then he (Prince) dies. And it never seemed as if the bear tanking with his face ever really had any trouble.

So, you might ask yourself, what are the TripleB’s stats, that week after week, whether he has two people on heals or three, they keep getting Prince to go down?

In this run, I don’t think I ever really dropped below 10k health. So yeah, it’s not my skill, it’s my gear and the quality of our healers more than anything.

I can’t give you our healers, they’re MINE, my precious, Gollum!, but I can tell you what my gear is.

Here’s a list of my current gear, so you can see where I’m at. This is all gear that is available without doing 25 man raid content, by the way… but it does take a lot of Badges of Honor. But not a single piece of 25 man raid loot. Bear’s Honor.

  • Earthwarden – with +35 Agility enchant
  • Stag-Helm of Malorne – with Glyph of the Gladiator, Glinting Noble Topaz and Powerful Earthstorm Diamond
  • Barbed Choker of Discipline
  • Merciless Gladiator’s Dragonhide Spaulders - with Exalted Scryer Inscription of the Knight and two Solid Star of Elunes
  • Slikk’s Cloak of Placation – with +12 Agility enchant
  • Vestments of Hibernation – with +6 to All Stats enchant
  • Band of the Swift Paw – with +12 Stamina enchant and one Charmed Amani Jewel
  • Idol of Terror
  • Guantlets of Malorne – with +15 Agility enchant
  • Belt of Natural Power – with two Shifting Nightseye
  • Tameless Breeches – with Nethercleft Leg Armor and two Solid Star of Elunes
  • Footwraps of Wild Encroachment – with +12 Stamina enchant and two Solid Star of Elunes
  • Violet Signet of the Great Protector
  • Ring of the Stalwart Protector
  • Badge of Tenacity
  • Moroes Lucky Pocket Watch
  • So, as you can see, a lot of Badge rewards, and some Kara drops, a PvP item, and some BoE Auction House loot. Plus, of course, exalted with Cenarion Expedition for the big honking hammer… and I still have the 75 Badge chest piece because I bought it a few weeks before the 100 Badge reward armor was announced. I am somewhat opposed to replacing a 75 Badge item with a 100 Badge item. Damnit.

    So, am I done?

    No, there are still two rewards I could look for.

    One is the 100 Badge chest piece, which I’m not even sure I’ll buy since that’s a lot of Badges, and it would irritate the hell out of me, on general principle.

    And the other is the Commendation of Kael’thas, which I’ll get sooner or later once I start running Heroic Magister’s Terrace. Something both Cassie and I really want to do, but it always seems that either we’re doing Guild admin kinda stuff, or we’re doing something else in or out of the game that just prevents us from having the time. 

    I am at the point now where I’m pretty darn happy with my bear tanking gear for the content that I will be doing with the Sidhe Devils.

    And I am even happier when it’s gear that I can realistically tell anyone, “You can do this also, if you are willing to do Heroics and PUG or run Kara once a week, do some CE runs, and do a teeny bit of PvP.”

    Comments 22 Comments »

    I just wanted to send you over to take a look at WoW Heroes.

    It’s new, and it’s similar to Be.Imba… but I think it has a nice clean appearance, and it responded very quickly to my Armory query.

    Just something I wanted to let you know about it, I thought it looked pretty neat.

    Comments 9 Comments »

    I’ve been just kind of idly messing around with the talent trees for Ferals, at least as they stand right now.

    Everything is subject to change, yes. In fact, I expect lots of things to change.

    But I am curious how we will be building a tanking spec in times to come. Will we be able to shoehorn in EVERY talent that is good for tanking, damage output and rage generation as we can now for bear? Sure, right now we willingly lose a teeny bit of kitty talent to max bear… but will we be so close then as we are now to having a ‘no brainer’ spec?

    Hey, I’m a Feral Druid. I am getting back into tanking mode again, excited about playing my Druid again (Shadow Priest is geared up enough to rest a bit), and I am a curious bear. And when Cassie asks me, what my main will be to level first in WotLK, the answer is 100% bear.

    The Talent Tree Spec I’m looking at right now is based on what I’m seeing as currently highly valuable Resto Tree talents, and leaves off quite a bit… most of what is lost seems to be talents that would help the team, or increase your ability to be brutal in PvP. Although I would dearly miss Feral Charge. Hey, it’s far from perfect.

    What catches my eye, and keeps me coming back, is the 51 point talent in the feral tree.

    Berserk just seems far, FAR too good to be true. I do not exect it to go live.

    But if it does… well then. :)

    WELL THEN.

    Nom Nom Nom.

    I’ll put up the new Berserk talent that is in the tree now… and then for contrast, I’ll put up the old, very small Berserk tooltip from the earliest days of the Alpha leaks.

    Berserk NewBerserk Old

    Comments 23 Comments »

    I said I’d write it up on the Twisted Nether blogcast, so here we go. 

    Two macros that use the Focus mechanic to select a target that you can attack WITHOUT having it selected as your current target, and attack that Focus with Lacerate or Swipe. 

    macros.jpg

    (Don’t panic, a text version of them is in the commets below for copy/pasting. Just copy/paste to Notepad first to clear formatting, since sometimes hidden html makes it from a website straight to the WoW macro section). 

    World of Warcraft allows you to set what is called a ‘Focus’.

    What a Focus is, is a target you save into memory. After you save that target as a Focus, you can go on about your business, targeting other things, attacking other things, it doesn’t matter. You will continue to have that original target saved as a Focus.

    What this let’s you do is write a macro that streamlines the process of making a selected target your Focus, and then when you have targeted something else and are viciously fighting it, you can throw attacks in the direction of your Focus without ever changing who you are currently targeted on.

    That’s the key thing; your macro let’s you send a specific attack against a pre-selected enemy other than your current target.

    What these macros do, exactly, is as follows;

    1) Show the tooltip for the selected ability. When you create the macro, you will need to choose the ‘question mark’ icon for the picture, it will change to the picture of your ability once you move the whole thing to your toolbar.

    2) It will clear your saved Focus IF and ONLY IF certain conditions are met;

    If you are holding down the Alt key when you activate the macro, your Focus will be cleared. Use this if you accidentally targeted and made your Focus the wrong enemy by mistake. You need to use this because the thing you made your Focus, if it was by mistake, will remain alive and so the macro won’t clear it on it’s own.

    If your previous Focus target dies, then the next time you activate this macro, it will clear the previous Focus from memory automatically.

    If you make a friend your Focus, for whatever reason, then the next time you try and activate this attack macro it will see your Focus is a friend and will clear it.

    If your previous target fades away/despawns while you are doing other things, then it no longer counts as dead. If the Focus has despawned and no longer exists, the Focus is cleared for other uses.

    3) The macro now will set your current selected target as the active Focus, SO LONG AS YOU DON’T CURRENTLY HAVE A FOCUS SET UP.

    This means the macro is a fire and forget attack on your Focus. You target something, activate the macro the first time, and it sees you don’t currently have a Focus, so it sets your currently active target as the Focus and tries to perform your programmed ‘cast’ action.

    If you happen to be out of range of that activity, then you will set the active Focus, but no cast action actually occurs that time. Every time after that, until one of the /clearfocus conditions are met, when you activate the macro it will try to apply your selected cast action. 

    It does this whether or not you are in range for whatever ability is supposed to be activated later. From then on, so long as that enemy is alive, it is your Focus. Just remember, if you need to clear your Focus target while it’s still alive so you can select a new Focus to attack, hold down the Alt key when you trigger the macro. 

    4) The actual workhorse part of the macro. If you have an active Focus, and it is in range or otherwise fulfills the requirements of the ability you place here, you will cast that attack on the Focus.

    The core mechanics of the Focus macros I listed above work great for many different abilities. For example, it is the foundation of the Shackle macro I use on my Priest.

    In this particular case, you can use these two macros as ‘X’ target threat generators to help spread your threat generating attacks around.

    The idea is, say you have three (or more) targets, but you only need to be tanking two. And it’s close quarters, and you’re afraid your Swipe will break an Ice Trap or a Sheep.

    You have a ‘Skull’ target that you will be concentrating on applying the majority of your threat to. I assume you will be attacking the Skull with your Mangle, most of your Lacerates, Feral Faerie Fire, Maul, all that jazz. The Skull is the target your fellow party members are attempting to burn down first, so you want to apply the most threat here.

    However, the ‘X’ is the target that your party will try to burn down NEXT. And in the heat of battle it is common for your party to simply redirect the full force of their damage on the ‘X’, all at once. You want to be attacking that sucker and building up pre-emptive threat. And you dno’t want to use Swipe indiscriminately.

    With the Lacerate Focus macro, if you set your Focus to the ‘X’, which you can do well out of range just to make sure your Focus is set to your target well before you engage them, then you can select and pull Skull as your main target, and use your Lacerate Focus macro to lacerate the ‘X’ when you choose, precisely. No tabbing or mouse clicking. 

    Just, once your enemies get within range, direct your first Mangle and Lacerate to Skull just like normal, hit the Lacerate Focus macro to slam ‘X’ with a Lacerate, hit Mangle again on your still-targeted Skull, etc etc.

    As you fight, back away from the Crowd Controlled mobs, so you free up Swipe as an option. Begin to throw Swipe in there, as well. But you will find that you can get some solid threat on both your main and secondary target by adding the lacerate Focus macro to Swiping, and when the Skull finally goes down, your party has plenty of room to let it all out on ‘X’ right from the start.

    The Swipe Focus macro comes into play if you are going to be tanking four or more targets, such as in a larger than normal non-elite AOE group.

    If you have decided not to use Barkskin-Hurricane to AoE a group, then you can set your Focus as the far left mob of the group, choose the far right mob as your main target, and when you pull, chances are fairly good that you will have Swipe on your main target hitting three mobs on the right, and your Swipe Focus macro hitting three mobs on the left. With, assuming you don’t have more than 6 targets, good overlap.

    Doing this takes the ‘seat of your pants’ decision making ability out of the picture to a large extent if you get into the habit of doing this all the time. And that is something I don’t recommend. This is absolutely NOT ‘end-game raiding’ kind of tactics.

    When you are just starting out, though, having a means to make damn sure you are applying solid threat to your top two targets without tab-targeting or hunting through tightly packed mob nameplates looking for the one you want next can be a big help.

    At higher level gear, you will find that Swipe itself, which has a chance to Crit every hit mob, will do very high threat, almost replacing Lacerate entirely. Also, with more powerful DPS as they gear up, fights will become very short as you scramble to apply enough threat as the Skull drops in three seconds, followed by the ‘X’ 2 seconds later.

    Because of the way things become so fast paced later on, I prefer seat of the butt improvisation at this point, reacting to changing situations on the fly. Someone gets feared into a group and brings 4 more adds? A macro ain’t gonna help you pick up those mobs and get them locked down.

    You’re going to have to be able to improvise, use your Growl, change targets fast and throw Lacerates and Swipes everywhere, use your Challenging Roar to get the group to start hitting you and begin taking Thorns damage, and everything else in your repertoir to grab aggro and hold on tight.

    But when you are grouping up in an instance, and you have the luxury of lining up your Marks ahead of time (and if you are assigning target marks, do yourself a favor and download the Quickmarks addon), then a couple Focus macros can help you spread your threat out over two mobs with precision, and help you spread the Swiping love in alrger fights.

    I invite all the rest of you tanks out there to suggest your own entry-level 70 tanking techniques to precisely apply Threat. I’m sure there are plenty of wizardry out there to draw on!

    Remember, we’re talking here about techniques that a brand new, possibly undergeared level 70 bear tank can use to grab and hold threat on your secondary targets. Simplify! 

    Comments 9 Comments »

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