Big Numbers, Little Enthusiasm

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?

Where Wulfa flatters the Triple-B

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.”

    Playing around with WotLK Druid feral talents

    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

    Twisted Nether and the Focus target macros

    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! 

    Speculating about new Feral Druid Talents

    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!

    Shadow Priest Consumables – I feel like I’m forgetting something

    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?

    Fun with math! Computing Resilience and Defense Rating

    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.

    Taking my own advice on gear

    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.

    Planning your gear upgrades

    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.