Ghostcrawler drops da Bearbomb!

Ghostcrawler made what, to me, was a surprise announcement yesterday detailing upcoming Feral changes that are going to have a drastic impact on how we approach our itemization. 

Here is his post in it’s entirety; 

We are changing the way bear armor works so that bonus armor on items does not receive the bear armor multiplier. Specifically this means that trinkets, rings, necks and cloaks with bonus armor will not be multiplied by the bear bonus. The normal armor on leather will still be multiplied by this bonus. We are also going to remove bonus armor from Feral staves. You’ll get your bonus armor from the leather you acquire.

1) A ring that grants 100 bonus armor will now grant a bear 100 armor (not ~470 armor).
2) Leather legs with 253 armor will still grant a bear ~1190 armor (not 253 armor).
3) A feral staff will now grant 0 armor.

We are making this change because armor is such a good stat for bears that it makes taking pieces with bonus armor a non-decision and we don’t want acquiring these pieces, which tend to not be common, to be so much of a barrier to a druid who wants to tank a raid.

This change will NOT be in effect when Lich King ships. We are letting you know this now so that you don’t go through heroic efforts to acquire items like the Badge of Tenacity, or Defender’s Code. Defender’s Code, with 850 armor, will still be a good trinket. But it won’t be an insanely good trinket for a bear.

We will adjust the bear armor modifiers so that your net mitigation does NOT go down with these changes. Let me repeat: this is not a nerf to Feral armor. It is a change to the amount of armor you get from gear with bonus armor.

We are adding an effect to a deep Feral talent (something like Primal Tenacity) to further reduce the cost of shapeshifting into cat or bear by 50%. This talent will stack with Natural Shapeshifter for a total cost reduction of 80%. PvP-focused druids can get both talents to shift easily and often despite, no longer having Int on gear at level 80.

We are removing the group requirements from this talent. The new tooltip will say: “Increases your attack power by X and reduces the damage you take in Bear Form and Dire Bear Form by Y.” The values of X and Y themselves are not changing.

Again, these changes will NOT be in Nov 13 for Lich King’s launch. We will add them in a patch that will come out sometime before the major Ulduar content patch. We’re letting you know now so that you can choose quest rewards and loot drops accordingly.

As you can see, Ghostcrawler had three main points.

In no particular order;

1) Protector of the Pack will no longer be affected by how many folks are in your party, but retains it’s stats. Win!

2) More shifting for less Mana cost in the deep Feral tree.

Now, this one I think will be a buff, but I’d like to know a little more about what Talent they are going to add the effect to. Right now, there are a lot of Talents in the deep Feral tree that I simply don’t take due to a lack of points at 70. At 80, it eases a lot, but depending on what they tack this onto, and whether or not they modify an existing Talent to more properly fit with the ‘PvP’ utilization of this might make it a PvP only Talent. Only time will really tell.

That we will have the choice to take it if we’re all that worried about Mana, should effectively shut at least some of us up. So win?

3) Bear Armor will come from equipped Leather. Period.

Okay, he has promised that our Bear form armor multiplier will be increased so that our mitigation from armor will stay the same with less actual armor to counteract the removal of Rings, Necklaces, Trinkets, Cloaks and Staves. 

In other posts, Ghostcrawler has said they are also looking at removing the concept of bonus ‘Green’ armor from gear entirely, meaning that PvP gear would not be quite as much of a no-brainer as it is right now for tanking.

So what we might be looking at would be gear that would have a set armor value according to it’s item level, and the variance in gear would be in how the stats play out.

Will there still be ‘best of class’ drops for Bear tanking?


But a change like this should mean that the difference in Bear tanking capability and mitigation should be a lot closer between tanks of various progression levels.

Pre-patch and Wrath, there was a massive difference between the mitigation and survivability of a tank dinging 70 equipped with AH greens and blues and quest rewards, and a tank that had made repeated runs into specific instances looking for that one perfect drop.

How many Feral Druids out there ground out their Cenarion Expedition rep to Exalted for that one, ‘must have’ Earthwarden weapon?

Would the answer be “All of us”?

Yes, we had Braxxis’ Staff of Slumber as an easily obtained alternative, but the fact remains, grind grnid grind to get one item that was considered darn near required pre-SSC.

There were so many items like that. Some you could AH, but others you just had to keep running and running and hope for a drop… and have to put up with there not really being that many alternatives.

Well, this is all about having more alternatives while you hunt that one perfect drop.

YES, there will still be items that are best in class. Yes, we will still have items that we desire over the rest for an equipment slot.

But, we should be able to have a vast assortment of viable alternatives to choose from to help us tank effectively in 5 mans while leveling along the way.

And that I think is pretty awesome.

But this whole thing? The changes and uncertainty?

THIS is why I have not done a single guide since all this went into production. I am waiting for a reasonable moment when WotLK has been out, and we have done at least a little leveling, before I start doing gear analysis and upgrade planning for level 80 raiding.

Because you just never know, and we don’t need it yet.

I’m liking these planned changes… so far. I hope you do too.

Ghostcrawler shares some shifty thoughts

Well, it has been a surprising couple of days for Druid rumors.

Ghostcrawler has apparently taken a break from placating the frantic Paladin masses to talk, at length, to the Druid community about where we are and what they’re thinking.

And since I know some of you read my RSS feed because gaming sites are blocked, I’ve put together a nice roundup of the latest juicy GC news for you.

First, in response to a big roundup of one players’ concerns, we have this massive outpouring of info;

Q u o t e:
1. Feral Mana Pools are very limited, is there a planned fix for this?

GC: It’s something we are still looking at. The way mana regens now when you’re in a form feels like it’s enough to let you occasionally use that mana for something. We think you will probably still go dry quickly if you’re healing a lot (which ultimately isn’t something we want Feral to do a lot) or if you’re chain shapeshifting (which is also something we don’t want you ideally doing a lot, but recognize sometimes you need to — dealing with a Frost mage perhaps.)

Q u o t e:
2. Protector of the Pack limitation mechanic – not very fun, what was the thinking behind this and can the limitation be removed?

GC: I’ve avoided this debate for a long time because it seems to really, really upset people that they can’t do something they really, really want to do in a very niche case. Bear isn’t designed to be something you run around solo to kill things in, and even if you want to do so anyway, your damage reduction shouldn’t be a big deal. It’s designed as a tanking talent and “solo tanking” is sort of nonsensical. Bear itself works fine without it, and in fact you can even tank just fine without it as long as you aren’t doing progression raiding. (If it affected your dps or something, I’d be a lot more convinced.)

Q u o t e:
3. Feral talent point usage in resto tree, means we have to focus too many points on a non-feral tree, also very difficult to get all the “tanking” talents offered, no room for pvp choices in a tanking build – is this intended?

GC: We designed the new Feral tree with Omen as a trade-off. If we ever moved Omen around, we would also juggle Feral talents. We don’t want you to be able to get all Feral talents and OoC. You can be a good bear, good cat, get good PvP talents or get Omen. But you can’t do it all with one build.

Q u o t e:
4. Swipe / Thorns combo (360′) Aoe. Is it possible to get a 360′ upgrade to our bear form aoe ability?

GC: We don’t think too many druids are having trouble using Swipe in its new form. A little difference among class abilities that are otherwise very similar is probably good for the game.

Q u o t e:
5. Feral Itemization issue 1: Too much Armor on some earlier tanking weapons compared to 25 man naxx gear is this intended?

GC: Do you mean you’re going to keep using the older weapon instead of the Naxx bear staff?

Q u o t e:
6. Feral Itemization issue 2: Not enough “Armor” trinkets in game making them invaluable to druids, basically once you have these trinkets you will not grab anything else unless you reach armor cap. – Can more armor trinkets be added, with different usage stats?

GC: My suspicion is you are still over-valuing armor compared to other defensive stats. I realize you don’t want block or parry but that doesn’t mean it’s armor or nothing.

Q u o t e:
7. Feral Itemization issue 3: Tanking gear – PVP gear seems to be better for tanking, more stam, why is this the case?

GC: PvP gear pays a lot more of its item budget on resilience than it did in BC so you’re going to be giving up something else (like Agi) to use it. Also make sure you are comparing PvP gear to PvE gear of the same item level.

Q u o t e:
8. Kitty AOE – Kitty form basically has no aoe ability, which limits damage output in multiple mob situations – we would have to switch to bear / caster which would mean taking a chance on pulling aggro or doing minimal damage with hurricane. Are there plans to add kitty form aoe?

GC: Hurricane and Swipe do pretty good AE, certainly better than rogues have (on which cat was modeled).

Q u o t e:
9. Cat charge being linked to Bear charge. – Why is this the intended mechanic for these two attacks?

GC: We think this would encourage quickly shifting from one form to another, which is something we have actually taken pains to discourage (RIP powershifting).

Q u o t e:
10. Berserk – The current version of Berserk feels weak now that the immunity to all snares has been removed, and its cooldown is too long. – Is there any way the snares functionality of berserk can be restored?

GC: We thought it was too good if it broke all snares and granted such a great dps increase.

Q u o t e:
11. Savage Roar – Is it possible to have it persist through shifting?

GC: Same answer. We don’t want to add anything else to the class that encourages you to say go cat, use an ability, then go back to bear. Changing forms is cool. Changing forms to buff yourself in one form then going to another isn’t what we’re going for. If you’re a cat and shift to humanoid to heal or decurse or bear to survive when being attacked — that’s cool and what the Feral design is all about. It’s when you start to chain several shifts together that we get uncomfortable.

Q u o t e:
I use cat in short bursts when I feel like the opportunity to survive is there, but this seems to indicate you want people staying in cat OR bear for extended periods.

GC: No, that’s not exactly it. Using cat in short bursts is awesome. Shifting out of feral to Innervate or Rebirth is cool, even if you immediately go feral again. Where it starts to cross the line is being a bear, going cat to hit a button, then going back to bear to benefit from the cat button. Doing feral charge bear, shifting and doing feral charge cat is not what we want. Anything that starts to feel like the old powershifting (changing just to generate mana) is what we’re trying to avoid. If it helps, think about it this way: shifting once in a small window is cool. Shifting several times in a small window is less cool.

Q u o t e:
So we will pay a penalty for having versatility that we can only use to poor effect, occasionally. Nice!

GC: We considered a model where the druid was the jack of all trades and master of all, but decided that might cause problems.

Q u o t e:
GC, this is simply not true. PvP gear at the same ilvl of PvE gear has at least as much and often more stamina and agility as that PvE gear. What it gives up is AP, armor pen, haste and crit rating – which is not all that special for tanking right now. I’ve done this comparison a number of times, but if you look at the same ilvl items in PvE and PvP for the belt/boots/bracer slots and include gems, the PvP gear comes out better for tanking than the PvE gear.

GC: If you can give me a few specific examples, I can look into it.

Q u o t e:
The Beast Within is too good? The Beast Within is a raw increase of damage at about the same level with the changes to BM, 10 points lower in the tree, on a talented/glyphed cooldown of about 35% of Berserk’s cooldown. How is that significantly less powerful than Berserk?

GC: You can’t just compare abilities between two different classes. I’m sure hunters would gladly trade Freezing Arrow for Cyclone or the ability to shapeshift to break CC (or heal, or Inneverate, or…).

Q u o t e:
Basically its a mechanic which hurts us in smaller, non-optimal parties doing heroics.

GC: I get that, but you must admit that is a pretty niche situation – not that you’d be doing small heroics, but the fact that being a bear really hurt you when trying to do so. My take on it is that the people who hate the limitation on the talent just hate the idea of the limitation, not for how it actually limits them (which is still a totally valid way to feel). It would be similar if the talent said “You gain damage reduction but only while wearing a ridiculous green hat.” It is in there just for flavor, but it has been controversial enough that we have talked about removing it. I’m not sure if we will yet, but I believe we understand your concerns.

Q u o t e:
One comment though .. on beta, it a niche situation. On live it is an almost every raid situation. Is it earth shattering? No, of course not. It is just an annoyance — and you are right that it is perception (not restating issues, you know them).

GC: I just want to understand – how is it almost every raid situation? We have tried valiantly to give all 4 tanks very similar tools. They aren’t identical, and we don’t want players to have the expectation that they will be identical. I don’t think this is necessarily the ability in which to put a stake in the ground, because we might end up changing this one, but you get my point.

Q u o t e:
Hateful Glad Robes vs. Heroes’ DW Raiments – ilvl 200
73 Agi 74 Agi
103 Stam 90 Stam
44 Crit 54 Crit
90 AP 132 AP
35 Exp
59 Res
Again, Glad has -1 Agi, +13 Stam. Dreamwalker has +10 Crit, +42 AP, +35 Exp.

GC: Okay, yes I have seen these examples before. If you are willing to give up 42 AP and 35 Exp (which is a nominal mitigation stat), then you can increase your health by 130 (plus modifiers). I don’t predict many tanks will take that trade, but we’ll see. I am sure there are other situations in which you could take an even lower item level that grants you more Stam than that. You are giving up an awful lot of threat stats though. If we start getting a lot of reports about how bears can’t hold aggro, I’m going to immediately look to see if they are wearing resilience gear. 🙂

And finally, a little more talk about graphics from Ghostcrawler;

GC: New art for forms, customization per form, and even the possibility of showing some gear in a form is all stuff we are talking about. When we have a firm plan we’re ready to unveil, I’m sure you’ll hear about it.

Okay, let me give you my impressions about this whole ‘shifting’ thing.

My greatest love for the Feral Druid class has always been the versatility.  The flexibility.

The thought that, live or die, it’s not all about standing still and mashing buttons. That maybe we can do that, stand there and mash buttons and play as ‘normal’, but for those of us willing to be aware of the flow of battle, of the events unfolding around us, and be poised to respond to changing events, we are capable of doing more. Much more.

To be able to tank a boss while the adds are swirling around you, like in the fight against Moroes when it was fresh and new and everyone was still in Blues, quest rewards and Heroic epics, learning the fight.

Tank Moroes knowing that you must stand your ground, keep aggro up at number one or two so Moroes always comes back at you, and know you have to trust each member of your raid to perform splendidly.

Tank Moroes knowing that, during the actual fight itself, the only variables you have to work with are Frenzied Regeneration and FFF and Threat rotations….

But that, for those willing to stay flexible, you can master moving your camera around that big bear butt to keep an eye on placement and member activity, and mana and health levels, and range to player targets, and be poised. 

Poised to take advantage of that split second when Moroes vanishes, and you are not about to get pounded as a tank, where you could shift to caster, and use your judgment to decide what is more valuable to the raid; throw an Innervate to who it would be most valuable to, or perhaps throw down a battle resurrection, or to pop a Lifebloom or Rejuvenation instant cast on someone Garotted, and then pop back into Bear to pick Moroes back up on the run.

The feeling that being prepared and on top of things and able to perform at that level was being a better Feral Druid than anticipated… doing something a little out of the ordinary you could take pride in. 

With what I keep reading from Ghostcrawler about where they plan mana levels to be, and how they position Talents in trees, and what they want to work when and in what form, and get tied to what….

I have lately been feeling like, we are no longer expected to be at one level, and how far we push ourselves past that determines how far we can take it.

Instead I feel like we are being balanced around the idea that we will always be flexible and taking advantage of every situation where it is possible for us to shift to another form for a planned, specific purpose, and we are being balanced to specifically limit how often, and in what way, we can shift. That how we shift and what we do when we shift is a standard, planned-for routine application of our core abilities, and using them beyond what was originally planned is not approved of.

And that using our shifting in this way is an intended function, and that our stats and abilities are being balanced with that in mind.

That we are, as a class, intended to have (purely as an example) lower DPS in Cat form than other melee DPS classes or lower Threat generation and survivability in Bear than other tank classes, to compensate for having the capability of shifting and throwing down an Innervate or instant cast HoT during the rare fight where there is a 1 to 2 second window.  

Is it a big deal?


So long as all Feral Druids are aware of it, and use their shifting opportunities every time the arise. Because if you’ve been balanced around shifting for HoTs and Battle Rez and Innervate and you do not shift, then you are performing below expectations, aren’t you? 

You’re not comparable.

I think the uncertainty over where we are balanced is unfortunately an opportunity for some to whine about lower DPS or survivability or threat, and others to howl ‘unfair OP!’, depending on what our eventual numbers look like, and whether it is clearly understood by everyone that our shifting and using off-spec abilities is working as intended and balanced in.

I am truly grateful I don’t have to try and balance a ton of classes for both PvE and PvP, and keep everyone happy, and put up with second guessing on what this, that or the other could do. I can’t even imagine how they have gotten things as awesome as they are. The sheer number of input variables and counters and output scenarios are ridiculous.

I can certainly see the point of trying to anticipate what we could do, and I can also see why they would try to take that into account and move against it or adjust for it.

But let’s also be honest… if we are going to be balanced across the board based on a playstyle that they are using as an example of how we are ‘intended’ to do things…

Wouldn’t it be nice if they shared that baseline playstyle with us, so we knew what the hell they were thinking we are supposed to be able to do?

Because I bet if they described the way they expected a Feral Druid to be able to perform during a single, 8 minute long multi-phase boss fight, it would open a lot of eyes to our capabilites, and what we can do… and what is balanced in. 

And please, dear Lord, please don’t let us find out that how they expect every Feral Druid to play is based off their observations of how one Feral Druid player in one of the most elite and capable world-class raiding guilds, taking on the highest difficulty of end game content, performs in battle.

Beta 9014 Feral changes, and I rant a bit

Beta build 9014 went live late last night, and in it there were four changes most affecting Feral Druids;

  1. Swipe now has the ‘no limit to number of targets’ implemented.
  2. Mangle (Cat) has had it’s damage significantly buffed.
  3. Rake has had it’s damage buffed.
  4. Protector of the Pack now provides 1%/2%/3% Damage Mitigation, instead of a flat 3% at all levels.

Okay. So. Why should you even care about the cat stuff when none of it is live yet? 

Because, my friends, it shows that things are still changing. The Developers have heard about your concerns for Feral DPS, and are still working on things.

I hope that knowing our class is still being actively worked on, adjusted, and tested encourages people to provide level-headed, clear and well written feedback to the Devs on the Beta forums.

And to shut the hell up with all the whining.


Yes, I KNOW you have valid concerns. So do I.

I know that PvP is looking painful right now for Feral. I know that you are concerned about Protector of the Pack being dependant on the number of people you are grouped with. I know that the lack of INT on our gear, and the corresponding shrinkage of our Mana pool and the way it drastically limits our shifting, are issues that concern you.

I know.

And your concerns need to be shared with Blizzard. Help give them areas to focus their attentions on. YES!

But please, please, go to the Beta forums, and try to present your concerns clearly, describe what exact mechanic, Talent or situation concerns you, in what setting, tell them how you see it affecting how you are playing in the Beta, and describe how this either limits or impedes your play. And share your delight with what you feel works well.

Articulate your thoughts and ideas in a thoughtful, polite manner.

And stop whining and BITCHING about it.

Seriously, if all you are going to do is post that, “This sucks, Blizz sucks, thanx for the nerf, I reroll warrior, kthxbai”, then just shut the hell up.

Just stop the whining. Provide some useful feedback. Give specifics, be polite, and try to pretend for a minute that you are a mature adult interested in being part of the solution. If you can’t do that, then you fail, sir.

This morning, Ghostcrawler posted the following;

However, we are probably going to have to nerf bears. If we don’t, they will be the only MT choice for serious guilds. At the moment, bears in decent gear take less damage, have more health and generate more threat than the other 3 classes by a wide enough margin that we think it’s a problem. This is even true on bosses that do a lot of magic damage (like Malygos).

I use the word “nerf” because players use it, and I don’t want to hind behind euphamisms. But changing the numbers doesn’t have to mean nerfing you into the ground. We just don’t want you to dominate. I’m sure you’d feel the same way if Protection paladins were just head and shoulders above the other tanks.

We understand that some Ferals felt they were nerfed in BC either prematurely or in such a way that kept them steadily behind other tanks. (Though Sunwell Radiance was largely for bears.) We will try to make intelligent changes so that you’re still out there tanking the Lich King himself. We want you to be about as good as warriors, paladins and death knights, not way above or below them.

I do NOT want to see people going on to that thread and exploding into whining little QQ fests. We do not know what they are seeing in their data. Unless you are actively raiding in the Beta right now, how do we know how we are performing? Especially in comparison?

But it is appropriate for you to go to the thread, and politely state your views on what you hope they focus on for our tanking future; things like (just a possible example) asking them to make sure that our core abilities and Talents allow us to scale evenly throughout all levels of raiding with our gear, and not just the first raids, no matter how our final numbers look.

Okay, ranting aside, point 4 on that list? That last one is, in my mind, an expected but still painful change. I know I, for one, had planned on only putting one point in PotP to get the max Damage Mitigation benefits, so I’d have two extra points for kitty Talents. Damn it.

Yes, the increased damage of Bear form and the Rage it would bring would make me invest in all three points by 80, but at 70 I know I’ll be leveling Cat more than tanking, so I was going to only stick one point in for the 3% Mitigation. Curses, foiled again! Oh well.

I now return you to waiting for a real post.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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?

A change for da Bears!

Swipe will soon affect all mobs in a cone in front of you, instead of our current limits (and the limits in the Beta). 

Or, as Ghostcrawler says,

“We are going to remove the target limit on Swipe.”

So soon, your biggest concerns will be Global Healing Threat, and players that don’t understand how to deal with a tank that focuses primary threat generation on one mob at a time. 

That is all.

Please direct your shared ‘yays’ at a very welcome change to the comments here, and your QQs and whines about Swipe threat generation and damage output to the appropriate Beta fora.

Thank you!

I haz a dark secret!

Well, it isn’t much of a secret, depending on if you listened to the WoW Insider podcast last Saturday.

The secret is, I haz a Beta key… and I used it to check a few things out, do a little investigative journalism… and to report on what I could find to the Devs, of course.

I still have the Beta key, but at the moment I have no access. One of my hard drives went down, and ate the WoW.exe file while the latest 8970 build was being patched.

Hard drive issue, not the patching process. But since it happened in the middle of patching, yeah, it took me a while to figure out what happened.

I’ve since recovered my other data, but the Beta program is gone and I’ll need to re-download and install from scratch. Just haven’t had the time.

But what I did do, aside from testing Druid stuffs, was play the Death Knight class from 55 to 58 and Hellfire Peninsula.

Not once, mind you. Twice.

Yes, it is that much fun, even with insane lag.

I started on the PvP server, made a gnome with pink pigtails… and immediately deleted her. I went back and made a human female with rather pale visage, and went with that instead.


Well, first and foremost, while I had thought it would be awesomely ironic to have a big bad evil Death Knight be a cute gnome with pink hair… when I logged in with mine on the Beta Server, what I found was, so did everyone else. An army of gnome DKs with pink hair.


The reason I went human in particular instead of night elf or tauren, was the Human Expertise racial bonus, of course. I’m a tank and DPS, I know what Expertise is used for, my good friends.

The PvP server was lag free. I went all the way through to Hellfire, leveling Unholy spec the entire way, and had a great time. Every part of the entire quest chain and playstyle was awesome.

I didn’t like playing an evil character, but the care and craftsmanship that has gone into the quest chains, area, and staging of the play from 55 to 58 is truly epic. Everyone should at least take one that far, even if you go no farther.


There are also a few new quests that bring a lot of fun.

Do you remember, those of you that played pre-BC, how astonished we were when we had our first ‘bombing run’ style quest in Hellfire that first day or two?

The gushing in general chat over how awesome the bombing run was, and how people just wanted to do it over and over again, because of how neat it was?

It was a new, fresh experience in the game, a new style of quest that reminded us how sick we were of “go kill 10 of xxx and bring me 30 ears”.

There are actually a COUPLE of new styles of quests in the starter zone that give you that exact same feel.

Seriously. They did a great job.

The gear you get also looks great. No question. Very nice design job. It is fun seeing the difference your new gear makes in your appearance.

I had so much fun, I went and made another DK, on a PvE server, to experience the lag, and leveled that one Blood.

Ice is the third spec, but from what I saw it was truly a tanking spec, so I didn’t try that for the leveling feel.

I can tell you that both Blood and Unholy are incredibly fun.

With Blood, so much of the Talent tree is built around giving you health back when you do damage, that at the time I played, I was almost never damaged after a fight. Even after hitting Hellfire, I could easily take two or three Orcs in Hellfire, even a wandering orc plus an orc and his wolf, kill them all, and still be nearly full afterwards if I rotated Dots on all of them and payed attention to what I was doing.

With Unholy, you have a lot more downtime from Health issues, but your spells are just more fun. You get lots of neat spells, like corpse explosions and anti-magic party shields and permanent Zombie pets that it just feel like a ton of fun.

Basically, I think of Blood as going Alchemist to get the useful pots, while Unholy is going Engineering to play with all the neat toys.

One is all business, and one has a lighter side. For an evil bastard, that is.

Do I feel they are overpowered?

Well, that’s a hard question to answer.

They are supposed to be an Epic class. And they certainly feel epic.

Are they more powerful, in direct comparison with a similarly geared level 58 DPS toon, when just entering Hellfire?

Yes. Without question.

However, they are undoubtedly still being adjusted for balance. And they are Epic class, after all.

But I have to say, if this is an example of the care and the attention to detail they are putting into an Epic class, then I really, truly hope that the rumors of a possible Arch-Druid epic class for an Emerald Dream expansion someday come true.

Lusting over Engineering in Wrath

People keep asking me if it’s going to be worth being an Engineer in Wrath.

I keep wondering why they’re asking me, but that’s okay.

I guess the answer to that is, “What class are you, and why are you an Engineer now?”

I have always felt that Engineering was mostly a Hunter profession. You get to make ammo and bang-bangs. Kind of self-explanatory, ain’t it?

But there are plenty of folks that love the explosives and neat gadgets, myself among them.

And I have to admit that I leveled it on my Feral Druid for one primary reason; Epic Goggles. (The Mote Extractor was a super lucky bonus).

So I guess the question could be, is it any good for Hunters, and will it be worth having for non-Hunters too?

I’m gonna leave the whole question of whether you like guns or not as a Hunter out of the equation. I love the guns the most, and if you don’t, I can’t really quantify the experience for ya.

So, Non-Hunters… I bet you’re wondering, will there be new Epics you can use?

Yes, yes there are. There are new Epic Goggles for the expansion, for each class.

An example? Okay.

For Rogues and Feral Druids, let’s take a look at the Weakness Spectralyzers.


Equips at 72, and requires Engineering of 400 to use.

It takes a Frozen Orb to craft, which seem to be the Wrath version of a Primal Nether. As of now, they drop in Heroics, or can be purchased for 10 Emblems (which are  the first level of Badge lookalikes… You get the idea.)

Right now a TON of stuff is BoE. Remember, Blizzard wants stuff accessible for testing. Expect a lot of this to be BoP in live. PLEASE keep that in mind.

But you get the idea. An Expansion version of the Epic Goggles for each class, along the same concept as we are already used to.

So, what else?

Well, I’d like to point out to my Hunter friends one of our very first recipes… the Mark “S” Boomstick.


Let’s compare that to the Crossbow of Relentless Strikes, which can be bought for 150 Badges.


Think about that. In Wrath, an Engineer will be able to equip, at level 73 I’ll grant you, a weapon nearly identical to one that costs 150 Badges now. Pretty nifty.

Okay, you want more non-Hunter specific stuffs?

How about the Sonic Booster?


Oh what the heck, let’s kick it up a notch with the Hyperspeed Accelerators.


Ahhh, but are we going to have another freaking tanking gun at 80?

Well…. yes.

But we ALSO get one of these!

The Long Range Cranium Drill!


Okay, can I cry with happiness? I may not be raiding past Naxx, but I’ll get to have an Epic Bang-Bang!

Yes, there are new ammo machines, and new repair bots. There is even a new Teleporter called a Wormhole generator that take you and your whole party to Gadgetzan, much like the current Direbrew Remote we are seeing drop from Coren Direbrew.

There are new Mana and Healing Injectors, there are Scopes, and of course there is the new Motorcycles.

But there is just one item I think caps the whole dang thing.

Engineers, I present to you…

The Gnomish Army Knife.


That sucker alone is going to replace 5 items I always carry in my bags right now.

Is it going to be worth being an Engineer in Wrath?


(I can’t believe I said that.)

Surprise! Expansion releasing mid-November!

Good morning, sunshine!

You know how, when you went to bed last night, you figured it was going to be a slow news day?


In a move my more cynical and bitter readers will no doubt attribute to a sneaky ploy by Blizzards marketing team to cut Warhammer off at the knees, Blizzard has apparently set a hard release date for the Wrath of the Lich King expansion to be November 13th, 2008.

Hey, I was figuring that was when we were going to see it, I think I even went so far as to say so on a WoW Insider podcast months ago…

I just didn’t expect to see that in the news at WoW Insider first thing this morning.

After all, Blizzard is famous for the “We ship it when it’s done, and we ain’t saying when that will be until we are SURE” philosophy, and I for one love them for that.

But if they are going to buy ad space at WoWhead trumpeting it, I figure they must have some firm plans in place… either that, or their marketing team is still high from snorting lithium after the massive success of the “Recruit a Friend/Multibox a Zhevra” program.

So, eight and a half weeks from now. Two months. PLENTY of time for more adjusting of Talents.

Yes, I counted. Two months. Plenty of time.

How do these Beta invites affect your expansion preparations?

Newsflash of the utterly obvious; there have been a LOT of Beta invites going out the last week.

Word is, there has been such a deluge of new Beta players on the three Beta realms (2 PvE realms, one PvP realm) that, at least in the starter zones, things are virtually unplayable from lag.

As the old quote goes, “Cry me a river, liberal.”

Sorry, movie quotes make up 56%* of my vocabulary. If you take them away from me, I would no longer be able to string together these word-type thingies into what I like to call complete sentences, but what my old english teacher might have better called “A brutal violation of the rules of English, and a crime against the very concept of language itself.”


Yes, there are many, many, MANY people playing in the Beta right now.

Chances are good that many of you, however, are not amongst that number.

Let me speak, for a moment, to those of you not in the Beta.

Right now, there is a large group of people that are acquiring that most sacred and valuable of things, from which all other power is derived; knowledge.

They are finding out where to go. They are discovering who the quest givers are. They are finding out where the mobs are to complete those quests. And they are exploring the land, mapping it out, and getting a solid feel for where flight paths, vendors, Inns, mailboxes, and quest hubs are all located.

When the expansion is released, there will be a very large group of people that have already done it all once, and they are going to make a mad, crazed sprint for the front lines to get a jump on everyone else in the race to 80.

Even better for them, they are learning lessons right now, in the Beta, that are helping them to prepare their live characters for what to do.

Like clearing out their quest logs of old filler, so they are clean for the new quests in Northrend.

Or clearing out bank space and bag space of old world things that they will not want cluttering up room, like tons of Netherweave Cloth or Adamantite Ore.

When BC was released, remember all the Enchanting mats that were suddenly worthless on the AH? The other formerly end game mats for crafting that tanked?

The market found a new balance for those old world mats, based on the age of the BC expansion, and altitis as people finished their first level 70s and began making new alts and powerleveling new tradeskills. But it took a long time to happen before the value of those mats rose again.

After about 4 months, most folks that hit 70 already made alts, took their massive reserves of money, and bought mats to level powerskills right off the AH instead of farming themselves. You have had time to become used to the going rates for Thorium Ore, Heavy Knothide Leather, Felweed and Void Crystals.

Kiss that market goodbye. The stuff that is your current end game material will be tomorrow’s vendor trash.

And the people in the Beta know this now, and are clearing their bags of hoarded goodies right now while there might still be decent demand.

And that’s just the financial part of what is to come.

So you have some decisions to make.

Do you want to be on the leading edge of the leveling to 80 wave or not?  

If so, and you are not in the Beta, you need to be looking for maps of the area, and trying to mentally chart where you will go first, and figure out in advance where flight paths and quest hubs are, and profession trainers, and know in advance how you will repsec and where to train class skills (Hint: See old world class trainers. Still.).

If you want to be in the front of the pack, you will need to work harder to develop that knowledge.

But it can certainly be done. And if you do it, you can take pride in not having gained an advantage through the Beta… no matter how much of your research depended on the efforts of those Beta testers to help you out by sharing their experiences.

But there is a flip side to this.

As the mad dash floods the harbor of Stormwind, ready to catch that boat to Northrend, there might be another option for you.

For most of us, that moment when we finally nailed 70 was the moment we stopped really completing quests, and started working on Professions, doing 5 man instances, raiding, and working on leveling alts.

I know there are those folks that did every quest at 70 for the money to get an Epic Flying Mount, but for most of us, the option remains to stay in the Outlands, and hit up those quest givers in Shadowmoon Valley and Netherstorm.

Even if you did clear every single possible Outland quest on your main, you probably have at least one level 70 alt that could do those quests for, say… a week. Right? Quests that will suddenly be giving you XP all over again.

So you have to decide… do you compete with other folks, who will know where to go and will be flooding the new zone, causing lag, server instability, and a crushing competition for mob spawns…

Or do you take a week/weekend off from Northrend, let the rest of the players get a weeks head start on you and level past the starting zones, while you continue to gain XP in Netherstorm and Shadowmoon Valley on known mobs and locations, in places where your epic flight mount still works?

It’s a tough call. No, I’m not kidding. It really is.

The desire to see new things and experience new challenges burns strong in us adventurers…

And you know most of your friends will be rushing forward, and trumpeting in guild chat every drop and quest reward that is an upgrade, making you feel left out, no matter how much fun you’re having.

But it’s a serious question… if you go into Northrend on opening week, and you weren’t here when Burning Crusade was released, you have NO IDEA how swamped that first zone will be, and just how… heck, theres no other way to put it, how downright nasty so many other players truly show themselves to be.

That first week in Hellfire Peninsula was an eye opener for me, I’ll tell you that.

The most obvious ones were the soloers and small group or guild players that you never saw before, the ones that are strangers to everyone. People who either have no guild tag, or have guild names you just can’t remmeber ever having seen before in the entire time you’ve been playing.

They came pouring out of the woodwork as massive ganking kill-stealing large group chain-pulling mob-slaying loot-whoring asshats, reveling in the fact that they can get to a mob just a millisecond before you did… and then /spit at you, just for fun.

Do you remember them? After a week or two, they disappeared again, having speed leveled up to 70 and returned to whereever the heck hole they came from. Maybe that expains why the asshats in Trade channel have so much free time.

But there are the other problems, problems mostly seen in raiding guilds. Raiding guilds filled with people that had always been friendly in raids and quests and instances, laid back and ready to drop what they were putzing with and coe lend a hand, or hang out and just have fun. People that would see something drop and say “No, you go aherad and take it, it’s cool. That’s a nice upgrade for you.” People that just seemed to like to hang out and enjoy playing with others in the guild…

And then when the expansion came, they showed themselves to just have been bored and not cared about that stuff cause it wasn’t that big a deal to their bored selves, but once there was a new expansion, and new stuff they actually WANTED dropped or was possible to be found in instances, or there were new shinies to go find… they vanished into small, tight cliques of 5 people and no longer had time for anyone or anything else, including civility to their guilds.

Previously unsuspected inner cliques were revealed, and people that thought they were friends found out they were just there to fill out 40 man raids.

Guilds crashed big time, do you remember? Guilds wouldn’t have been torn apart as bad if they hadn’t cut the numbers needed to raid from 40 to 25, and even to 10 at the beginning, but all that means is that the inner cliques would have kept kissing up to people they didn’t really like that were just there for raids. It wouldn’t change the fact that the inner cliques existed.

There will still be 25 man raids… but all content can be done with 10 people now. Are you certain that the 25 man raiding guild you’re in now actaully WANTS you on the runs?

Yeah, so did most people in most guilds.

Were you there that first week? Do you really REMEMBER?

Burning Cursade, in that first week, changed a lot of things, and brought out a side of people we really didn’t want to see, no matter whether we knew it was there or not.

After a week or two, things calmed WAY the heck down. The ramifications of guild politics were long lasting, but the immediate asshattedness was short lived.

Yeah, it’s a serious question… how badly do you want to hit Northrend first? Or are you willing to follow behind the wave, and be behind the discovery curve, and listen to others talk about what they saw, and what they did…  and wait until the crush of players clear a little so you have a calmer, more relaxed trip through the fresh new content?

Whether you are in the Beta or not, now is the time to prepare yourself mentally and decide just what it is you want to do…

Are you going to clear your existing quest log and be ready to dash to Northrend…

Or are you going to seek out every quest you can find in Outlands, and be ready to level in familiar territory?

Either way…

Right now, it pays to at least find out where the new Profession trainers are, and where you will need to go to get your next level of mastery. Because whether you are in the new world or the old, you’ll still be farming Herbs, Ore or Skins that will give you skillups, and there is no sense in wasting that time without reason.

The rest… well, the rest will come when it comes.

EDIT Added:

Well, there is one more thought for ya’all…

Death Knights are super awesome cool… so cool that tons of people are going to want to play one. And they are designed to level super fast in their starting zone, so that right when they finish their quests, they are actually dinging 58 and can go straight to Outlands.

So as Lady Jess said, there will be a flood of brand new 58 Death Knights, of both factions, invading Hellfire Peninsula, and desiring mats to powerlevel their professions.

I’m sure some of them will be in the old Azeroth zones leveling Mining, Herbing and Skinning, but I’m gonna guess most will want to get higher in Outlands first, to get their 51 point Talents.

Be that as it may… on PvP servers, you will have an entire zone loaded with level 58 characters…

That first week of leveling in Hellfire is going to be HELL for those level 58s.

I am POSITIVE that there will be lonely level 70 gankers just wandering around, slaughtering at will.

My advice? Find some leveling buddies to team with who will also play a DK at start, so you can present a force of five or more level 58s to show a united front.

Or, of course, enlist a friend or two from your guild to chaperone! But where is the fun in that? Wouldn’t it be more fun to take them down as a roaming pack of 58+?

* By the way, did you know that over 96.4% of most published statistics are made up on the spot?

A look at our Bear Tanking future in Wrath

Welcome to my first ever look at the future direction of Bear Tanking in Wrath.

Remember, I am not going to be telling you that things as they are in the Beta right now are finished. From what Ghostcrawler has said, we have to believe that what we see now is two builds previous to what they are working on. But I think there is enough history built up now to talk about a few directions we seem to be headed.

So buckle up, buttercup!

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