Archive for the “Theorycrafting” Category

The Family and Friends Alpha for Wrath of the Lich King is going on as we speak.

I’m not in it.

In fact, if I got all whiny, I could make a case that someone at Blizz doesn’t like me very much, if you go by the dozen-plus emails I got from them when my account was hacked Christmas a year and a half ago and my main had all of her end-game 40 man resto raiding gear wiped out, emails that strung me along for over a month before I got a final form email basically saying “We don’t believe you had any gear, so have some random greens, buy Burning Crusade, and STFU.”

And I do still have all those emails, not because I’m all bitter, but because I don’t use that email much, so it’s never had the archives purged. i fuond them when digging through my ancient email looking for my CuteFTP software activation key to install it on Cassie’s new computer.

It’s been a long time since those days. Do I feel angry towards Blizzard for this? Do I love the game any less? Well, all I can say is, read my blog and you be the judge. I think I am mature enough to differentiate between the way some folks in one small department of a company deal with customers, and the way others go about creating the game I love. I can love the game and the designers and programmers, the art folks and creative people and be a big fanboy, without having any sympathy whatsoever to their customer service department.

Now, while I won’t do anything to hurt the game, I know I for one love seeing glimpses of what’s in store, so long as there are no blatant spoilers about the lore or storyline. We all do, right?

I’m not in the Alpha. I ain’t in any way involved with them in any capacity, official or unofficial. And guess what? That means I didn’t sign or agree to an NDA.

So I have no problems with seeing the information that is being leaked from the Alpha by others, and sharing what I think is neat information that would be of great interest to you guys.

I wrote an article this morning for WoW Insider where I discuss in general terms the new Talents in the Feral Tree in the Alpha, and speculate on what this means for the future of bear tanking.

BUT, depending on if the War Tools site is active or accessible, you may or may not be able to see the tool tips for the abilities I talk about there.

So this post is going to be me linking to the pictures of the new Talents, so you can see exactly what they look like at this point in time. 

I hope you feel the same excitement when you see these Talents and speculate on the fun of using them in battle that I did. I’m sure things will change, maybe stuff will be removed or added before it goes live. It’s the Alpha, stuff will ALWAYS change somewhere.

But ain’t it cool to see it and know we get to keep tanking on?

And hey… while I would love to be contacted by Blizzard and offered the chance to interview someone about the future of Druids in WoW, or get access to a Beta, or any of a host of other things that would let me see something I could share with you in the future, let’s be realistic. I write a blog about Druids, and my audience ain’t Blizzard. It’s other Druids. And you don’t really come to me for inside scoop, you come here, if it’s about Druids, to see my cranky opinions on existing Druid stuff.

Or for drama. Or wierd stories. Sometimes, I get confused as to what the heck I’m doing here, myself.

Anyway, on to the links! (And just for Valthan, I added the text descriptions.)

  • Berserk - (1/1) Removes all Stun, Fear, Snare and Movement Impairing Effects and increases your energy regeneration rate by 100% while in Cat form, and increases your total health by 20% while in Bear form. After the effect ends, the health is lost. Effect lasts 20 seconds.
  • Improved Mangle - (3/3) Reduces the cooldown of your Mangle (Bear) ability by -20%, and reduces the energy cost of your Mangle (Cat) ability by -6.
  • Infected Wounds - (5/5) Your Shred, Maul and Mangle attacks have a 100% chance to cause an Infected Wound in the target. The Infected Wound reduces the movement speed and casting speed of the target by 10%. Stacks up to 5 times. Lasts 12 seconds.
  • Primal Aggression - (3/3) Increases the critical strike chance of your Maul and Shred abilities by 5%.
  • Primal Precision - (2/2) Increases your expertise by 10, and you are refunded -60% of the energy cost of a finishing move if it fails to land.
  • Reinforced Hide - (3/3) Reduces all spell damage taken by 10%, and increases your Armor contribution from items by an additional 10%.
  • Resto – Master Shapeshifter - (2/2) Grants an effect which lasts while the Druid is within the respected shapeshifted form. Bear form - increases physical damage by 4%. Cat form - increases critical strike chance by 4%. Moonkin form – increases spell damage by 4%. Tree form – increases healing by 4%. 

Seriously… enjoy!

Comments 31 Comments »

I’m still working my Shadow Priest up to what I will call ‘raid ready’.

Not that she’s gonna be raiding… but I have high hopes for 5 man runs.

I have my basic gear pretty solid. The only major upgrade I need in the short term are the Tempest’s Touch gloves from the Caverns of Time/Old Hillsbrad quest chain. Everything else is pretty good, and is gemmed out with +9 Spell Damage gems.

So my next step is slowly farming the mats for all the enchants my gear will need. Last night, I got the Runic Spellthread for my pants. I have the mats for the +40 Spell Damage weapon enchant. (I plan on getting that for now, since the mats for Soulfrost are freaking insane. I’ll get that when I have a true ‘holy crap’ weapon, thanks very much.)

But consumables… I feel consumables are still my weak point.

Let’s take a look at the Shadow Priest. My role is to be a mana battery for the group/raid. I do this by keeping Vampiric Touch up on my target, and putting out massive shadow damage.

So my priorities in a raid are;

  • 1) Maximize Shadow Damage.
  • 2) Keep Mana up to keep pumping out continuous damage output.

Okay, that is pretty simple, right?

Why do I keep feeling like I’m missing something?

Test me on this.

For Shadow damage buffs, I can have;

ONE Food Buff

ONE Battle Elixir

ONE Guardian Elixir

OR, alternatively, ONE Flask

ONE Weapon Buff

Aaaannnndddd… that’s it. That’s all I can come up with for damage boosts.

Damn it, I keep feeling like I’m missing something there. Not an item itself, sure there are mana regens, #/mp5, etc. Kirk at Priestly Endeavors made a kick ass list a while ago. 

No, I feel like there is an entire category I’m missing, and I can’t figure out what it is.

I mean, I eat a Blackened Basilisk, down a Flask of Pure Death, apply Superior Wizard Oil… and I’m done?

That’s +145 Shadow Spell Damage, and that’s good. Don’t get me wrong, that’s very nice. But it just seems like there should be something else to pop there that I’m missing… food, flask, weapon buff. What else?

WTF? Am I crazy?

As far as the Mana support, to keep me going in the fight itself, I have the following;

Shared Potion Cooldown

Shared Healthstone Cooldown

  • Demonic Runes (restores 900-1500 Mana, loses 600 – 1000 Health)

And lastly, I carry Heavy Netherweave Bandages, regular level 65 food and Purified Draenic Water for recovery in-between pulls.

So I can apply Vampiric Touch on an enemy and then use various Shadow spells to pump out damage and regain Mana for the party.

When Mana starts getting down by around 1500, I can pop my Racial Symbol of Hope (thanks Dax!) to give my party around 1000 Mana from Mp/5 regen.

When my Mana gets low the first time, I can release my Shadowfiend for about 3500+ Mana recovery from him doing damage. It’s got a long cooldown, 5 minutes, so best to start it early in the fight.

When my Mana gets low the second time, I can either down a Super Mana Pot for “oh shit, we’re going down, I need whatever I can get” Mana recovery, or a Major Dreamless Sleep for some “I’ve got a few seconds, gimme a solid big chunk o’ mana” Mana recovery. With a 2 minute cooldown, we get that ticking next.

If I am still within the 2 minute Potion cooldown the next time I need a boost, I can use a Demonic Rune to keep me going just that little bit longer, just until the Potion or Shadowfiend cooldown is up again.

It’s not a bad plan, I think. I haven’t respecced to my final level 70 spec yet, so I still don’t have Inner Focus. I know that it has a 3 minute cooldown, and that the next spell cast after it costs no Mana. So I know I’ll have to play with it, maybe macro it to my highest mana cost/long cooldown spell to make sure I get the most benefit from it.

I think I’ve got a good plan, I’m still in the ‘get my stuff properly enchanted’ phase.

Man… I keep telling people, if you think the game is over at level 70, better think again. Hitting 70 just let’s you narrow down your focus to getting an end-game piece of gear for your spec, and then affording the mats to enchant it, and then repeating the process.

The one thing I am most grateful for, is that the two characters I most want to play in this game, a Feral Druid and a Priest, both hit 70 well before Wrath of the Lich King was released. I’ll have plenty of time to settle in and enjoy them both, and learn the various idiosyncracies of the classes, long before I have to relearn everything all over again. And while everyone else is rolling their new Death Knight, I’ll be advancing through the new zones unopposed. :)

Well, most likely not, but a guy can dream, right?

Comments 29 Comments »

I had a very nice reader question mailed in that I thought was very relevant considering yesterdays’ mammoth bear tank gear post.

Sköll of Aerie Peak wrote in; 

I want to thank you for the awesome post “Gearing your bear tank from
70 to Karazhan!”

I downloaded Rawr and made a few customizations to my gear and bearing in mind the defense cap, here are the stats I came up with

Defense Rating: 136
Resilience: 18
Dodge: 37.6434%
Miss: 6.666667%
Mitigation: 72.53479%
Dodge + Miss: 44.31007%
Total Mitigation: 82.77659%
Damage Taken: 17.22341%
Chance to be Crit: -0.123253%

with both Glyph of the Defender and exalted Scryers inscription.

As you can see the report says I’m uncrittable by raid bosses (mouseover shows 7 Defense Rating or 4 Resilience over the crit cap)

After making the calculation manually (136*0.423)+350=407/415.

I know there is some Resilience, but I don’t think it will make me crit immune together with the Defense Rating.

Best Regards!

Thanks for your email, Sköll, I appreciate it. And it is a very timely comment to make.

If you want to compute your actual Defense from Defense Rating manually, then you are correct, you can use the formula;

    (DR*0.423)+350= Defense

But what you need to do to be completely accurate, is to add in the equivalent value of Resilience to the Defense Rating in that formula.

Now, we’ve covered this in other places before, but let’s go over the basics.

While Resilience and Defense also do other things, we are ONLY concerned with their function to remove the chance to be critically hit. And with 3/3 talented in Survival of the Fittest, you need 415 Defense in order to be uncrittable to level 73 raid bosses.

With that firmly in mind,

59 Defense Rating = -1% Crit.
39.4 Resilience = -1% Crit.

Therefore, 59 DR = 39.4 Resilience.

So 1 Resilience = 1.497~ Defense Rating.

Remember, we need whole numbers. So round down when actually doing the math.

In your example above, you would have 136 Defense Rating, and 18 Resilience.

18 Resilience is equal to 26~ Defense Rating. Round it down to 26.

136+26 = an equivalency of 162 Defense Rating.

(162*0.423)+350 = 418 Defense. 3 Defense over the cap.

And as a cross check against Rawr, 3 Defense = 7.092 Defense Rating.

See?

I am very glad that people are not blindly assuming that Rawr is correct, and that you are doing your own math to determine the truth. That kicks ass.

I just hope that this will help to show you that the Resilience really does make that big of a difference, and help you in doing your own math so you can figure this out on your own, assuming you are crazy, OR are unable to run Windows .NET applications.

Oh, and can I just mention again how tired I am of needing to do math, even simple math like this, just to make sure I can correctly perform my role in raids?

Well, I guess only us min/maxers that want to optimize our builds need to do this. I should shut up and just enjoy having the tools to get our job done.

Have a great day folks!

PS: What I really need to do is contact Astrylian, and interview him on what level of genius it took to make Rawr in the first place. Hmm, idea for a future WoW Insider article. Cool.

Comments 12 Comments »

Yesterday I suggested you re-examine gear upgrades based on the availability of Primal Nethers and Nether Vortexes.

I had been planning on buying a Belt of Blasting for my Shadow Priest off the AH. I had budgeted 2400g for that purchase before 2.4 went live.

The first thing I did yesterday was go to the Badge Vendor (who has moved from the floor of Shatt to a second floor balcony in Shatt overlooking A’dal, btw. He’s still around, don’t panic.)

And there I bought two Nether Vortexes for 30 of my cherished Badges.

Yay! Now I gather up 15 Primal Fires and a few negligible Imbued cloth and boom! I’ll have a Belt of Blasting.

And only then did I see someone advertise on the trade channel… “WTS many Nether Vortexes, PST”.

Hmmm…. which are more valuable to me… gold, or Badges of Justice. Well, I spend 2 hours in an instance getting 4 or 5 Badges. I can spend that same two hours getting 200 gold or more, easily.

So… say on a time to money ratio of 200g = 5 Badges, just for the sake of argument, then 1 Nether Vortex = 600 gold.

I went and scoped out the AH… sure enough, Nether Vortexes, 400g each. So I bought two more, wishing I could get my damn 30 Badges back from the vendor.

Oh, why did I buy two more Nether Vortex?

Because while I was thinking of Vortex, I asked a friend in a major raiding guild on our server, Meowmix the kickass feral druid in Vendetta, if she knew someone that could craft Belt of Natural Power.

And the answer was, yes, but they were going to raid Hyjal. Could I wait until about 11:00 PM for the crafting?

Lol. Naw, 3 hours is too damn long to wait. Really. I’ll go freaking sulk about it.

Pfft.

So I checked the bank… as a jewelcrafter, engineer and tailor, with Cassie as an alchemist, doing tons of herbalism and farming primals from clouds using engineering… I end up with tons of Primal Life and Primal Air, that none of our recipes actually USE.

So I already had the 10 Primal Air, 10 Primal Life sitting in the bank. Grab the Vortexes and some leather, and I was all set.

Yep, that’s right… I be sporting the Belt of Natural Power now!

Thanks Meowmix, and thank you to Frostdragon of Vendetta for doing the crafting… it may have been just a little of your time, but it was a massive upgrade for me. glee!

What I did, my first thought was to dump 2 Stamina gems into it, but then I decided that it would make a nice upgrade for both kitty and tank sets, if I compromised a little bit. I put two Shifting Nightseyes into it, getting the gem color bonus of +4 Stamina. The way I look at it, I could have put two +12 Stamina gems in and had +24 Stam from sockets. I could put two +8 Agility gems and get +16 Agi and + 4 Stam… but I already have 40% dodge. It’s health that I’m feeling damn low in. But with two Shifting Nightseyes, I get +8 Agi and +16 Stam, counting the socket bonus.

So it’s a compromise, but +4 Stam seemed too nice to just dump.

I am very, very worried about what to do next though. I’m having a hard time seeing what to do next for Badge rewards, and still keep my uncrittable. The new 100 Badge leggings seem like the absolute best Badge upgrade for me next, but the loss of the DR makes me shudder.

At times, I really hate druid itemization for tanking… WTB a lot more freaking DR.

Ok, now as a little aside… one new thing from the Shattered Sun Offensive Quartermaster is a new Glyph to head gear… the Glyph of the Gladiator available at revered rep. I’m already friendly, so I don’t see that taking all that long if you do your dailies.

Currently, the standard feral tank Glyph is the Glyph of the Defender from Keepers of Time rep.

Now, in some cases we could gladly give up the 17 Dodge Rating (just a little less than 1% Dodge at level 70, 18.9 Dodge Rating equals 1% Dodge) in exchange for 18 Stamina. I personally find it a lot easier to stack Agi than Stamina on my gear, so that 18 Stamina already makes the Gladiator pretty attractive.

But we got the choice of either 20 Resilience from Gladiator or 16 Defense Rating from Defender.

Baseline, assuming level 70 tank vs 73 raid boss;

  • 39.4 Resilience = 1% reduced chance to be crit.
  • 59 Defense Rating = 1% reduced chance to be crit.

20 Resilience is worth ~.5% reduced chance to be crit.

16 Defense Rating is worth ~.37% reduced chance to be crit.

So as you can see, disregarding all of the many other benefits of Defense skill, if you’re main worry is scrimping the points to eke out your uncrittable, then it looks like Glyph of the Gladiator gets you closer to your goal, and gives you a boost in raw health over increased dodge.

And having said all that… go ahead and tell me that Rawr does the math for you already without your having to buy the Glyph of the Gladiator and equip it and running your uncrittable macro. Go ahead. Since I can’t run Rawr at work, I can’t check it. Bet it does already, though.

Sigh. Am I the only one that wishes that something designed specifically for feral druids to use as tanks should actually have defense rating or resilience on it, in an assumption that we already know we are going to need it? Seriously. Does Blizzard really think that most players WANT to have to crunch these numbers to remain uncrittable, and not use items from highly difficult encounters supposedly designed for us to use as tanks because it has no DR? What a pain in the ass.

If they give you items costing 100 badges, designed for bear tanking, geez! Don’t be so blatantly obvious about screwing us on the DR, huh?

Let’s be honest… if your argument is that only end game raiders are going to worry about being uncrittable so it doesn’t matter if they make it hard to figure out… then by the same token Blizzard knows that end game raiders ARE GOING TO FIGURE IT OUT.

Sure, don’t get me wriong. I’m not saying Blizzard is unrealistic. They gave us Survival of the Fittest, and I appreciate that. But at the very highest end game, it really looks like they decided they did enough to get us most of the way there, now let’s starve them to death on a stat they know they MUST have to survive.

It’s a snake eating it’s own tail. Blizzard cannot itemize for end game complexity, and then pretend to be surprised when end game raiders figure the shit out, and try to reduce how much DR we have available to us to punish us for figuring it out. The final result is, end game raiders will simply do what they have to do to remain viable as tanks.

The only people who truly get screwed are the casual players that got themselves a feral druid, heard about druids being good at tanking these days, get themselves to 70, and collect their gear thinking “Well, high armor must be good because the tooltip says I get a multiplier in bear form. High agility must ge pretty good for dodging lots. And high Stamina must be good for lots of health.” 

And then they take that gear, and go play with their other casual friends who are under the mistaken assumption that they are playing a game for amusement rather than serious business, and as the crits come rolling in pounding the hell out of the healers’ ability to keep the tank alive, everyone just gets pissed. And the forums get flooded with tales of the horrible run they just had with the bear tank that sucked, warriors must be the only true tanks, yadda yadda yadda.

I’m not saying make the gear so that it’s all care bear simple for folks that don’t make an effort to find out stuff… I’m saying itemize the stats that everyone that raids KNOWS are critical to achieve, that are going to be gotten anyway, and stop making it so impossible for a casual player to get the right mix without tons of math and research. We all know being uncrittable is vastly important for a bear tank. But if I were simply going by the stats on gear, I sure as hell would see little sign that Blizzard thinks so.

For myself, I can see I’m going to be going through the fun of compiling a new list of every resilience and defense rating enchant, potion, elixir, glyph, gem and armor kit and working out percetage equivalencies so I can stay on top of it. Oh, whee. Just so much fun, I can hardly stand myself.

If someone else already made such a nice, complete list, let me know.

Yep, today is an oriental buffet for lunch day. Gonna drown my annoyance in some General Tso’s chicken.

Comments 10 Comments »

Patch 2.4 is here. Yeah, yeah, I know. No shit, Sherlock, what gave me the first clue? Maybe the 261MB download?

Anyway, one thing everyone agrees on is that we have accessibility to new gear. New badge rewards, new crafted recipes, new instances, the whole dealio.

Everyone I know is at different levels of gear or progression. Some of you are raiding BT and now the Sunwell, and come along here to lolzers at me or help guide us with your insight, others are at about the same level, and others are still enjoying leveling your druids up through the game.

So the challenge I have is to decide how to help folks see where their current gear may rank compared to the new stuff, and assist everyone in finding upgrades.

And I mean everyone. Not just druids, but as many folks as possible.

Well, there is a tool I’m using that seems like a brilliant, godlike tool for fine tuning your needs and finding new gear.

The website is Loot Rank.

What Loot Rank has done, and it’s brilliant, is they have set up a search form that you can personally customize by individual item characteristics, and then search for how items rank up by YOUR importance.

It uses the idea that is the foundation behind item ranking systems such as the Agility Equivalency Point system as shown so well for rogue gear on Shadowpanther.net, or the ranking system Emmerald has used for Feral kitty and bear druid gear comparisons.

And the beauty of it is that it is a blank canvas for you to use. You can configure the rankings to tweak it towards whatever class and spec you prefer, and save that as a template for your own needs, and refer to it frequently as you level.

Now, you can create your own template this way, but for the ‘get it and go’ user, there are already some templates that have been submitted in the forums by users for most classes.

I am going to link the templates here that I am going to personally find the most useful, and I hope they help you as well. But  encourage you to explore the forums, check out the other templates, and examine the math and concepts behind these templates so you can decide on your own whether the importance they give to certain stats matches your own opinion.

Feral Kitty DPS Druid

Feral Bear Tank Druid

Sword Spec Combat Rogue

Shadow Priest

Again… it may not be perfect, but as far as I know, right now it is the best I can find in a ranking system that includes the new gear. I hope you find it useful.

Oh yeah, almost forgot. Don’t forget that not only are Primal Nethers able to be purchased for 10 Badges of Justice each, but Nether Vortexes are able to be purchased for 15 Badges. And they are Bind on Equip, not BOP. So now you can look through all that awesome crafted gear you used to think was forever beyond your reach, like the Belt of Blasting or the Belt of Natural Power, and be able to gather ALL of the mats for it, and ask a higher progressed crafter from another guild to make it for you for a flat fee. No more trying to find a guild that has loose Nether Vortexes to make non-guildies items.

A very big B^3 thank you to Ribeye for pointing that out. 

Comments 9 Comments »

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