Thursday, February 28, 2008

Calculator, Round 2

Time to put a little more work into that Excel calculator of mine! Today, I've whipped up two new, interconnected toys. First, I've condensed all of the stat conversions a feral druid would ever want into one table, giving both base conversion values, and overal values based on talents and buffs. In addition to this, I've taken those values and used them to build a Gear Comparison calculator. Simply plug in how your stats (Base stats, combat ratings) will change with a particular change of gear/enchants/gems, and out pops how the values you really care about (Health pool, chance to dodge, Attack Power) will be affected!

To play around with my new toys, simply click on the Threat Calculator link on the sidebar. Eventually, I'll be renaming the calculator itself, as I plan to continue to expand it. I also plan to make it more intuitive to use, probably by creating pages for full talent specs and buff selection, but that will be for another day.


Here we have the stat conversions table. Simply multiply a stat by the conversion value for the effect you're looking at to see how much that stat is really helping you. The overall multiplier column currently takes into consideration Survival of the Fittest, Heart of the Wild, Thick Hide, and if applicable Tauren health bonus and Blessing of Kings. The base multiplier, in turn, only considers what form you're in, and assumes you're unbuffed.

And here we have the gear comparison tool. Simply plug in the differences between the base stats of any two pieces, and see how changing between those two items will change your overall stats in the appropriate form. The comparison used for the example here is going from the Heavy Clefthoof Chest (Socketed with 12 stam and 6 stam, 4 defense gems) to T4 (Socketed with a 12 stam, a 6 stam/4 agi, and a 4 defense/6 stam). It tells me that I lose about 153 health and .47% crit reduction, but get over 1.75% additional avoidance, nearly 1,000 more armor, and a bunch of threat stats (including over 1/4% hit, which I forgot to factor in in this shot).

So, like before, I plan to make use of this new toy. Tomorrow, I'm going to look more closely at this particular chest upgrade, and then switch over to something you may or may not have heard about: upgraded Alchemist's Stones!
Continue reading 'Calculator, Round 2'

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Five Worst Raid Bosses Ever

So, I was fighting my number one least favorite boss in Karazhan last night on my hunter, and it got me thinking. . . I really dont want to write a blog article tomorrow. Uh, er, I mean how many bosses in WoW do I truly hate? As it turns out, there are quite a number of them, but most are from vanilla WoW (and are on the list due to the same mechanic, see #3 below). And so, I bring to you what are, in my opinion, the five (or so) worst boss encounters I've had the "pleasure" of fighting in WoW.

#5: Hydross the Unstable
I actually kind of enjoyed this boss fight, at least once everybody in guild got the hang of it. My issue isn't with the actual mechanics and coreography of the fight, but with the gearing required to fight it. I remember, back when TBC was in beta, reading from one blue poster or another that WoW was going to veer away from the resist fight model, because collecting resist gear wasn't fun. And, for the MOST part, they came through. . . unless you're a tank.

Tanks, the people who already carry 2-3 sets of gear with them at all times (DPS gear, and healing gear for non-warriors), are forced to collect resistance sets still, and unlike Molten Core in days gone by, that gear is used for maybe 1-2 fights, making it even MORE annoying to collect. Sure, you dont need to outfit the whole raid these days, but why is it always the tanks that have to collect the extra set (Even when its a warlock on Leo, or a mage on Maulgar, its a tank, but at least its another class).

But even THAT isn't my beef with this fight. Fine, make me collect resist gear. . . but MAKE THE RESIST GEAR AVAILABLE! Druid resist tanking gear has three unifying attributes: Its green, purchased from the auction house, and has "of XXXXXX protection" as part of its name. Warriors and paladins get all sorts of crafted epic resist gear they can collect to make a set. Druids can wear the rings and neck pieces of . . . oh, wait, no we can't, because we NEED our rings and neck piece to maintain uncrittability, and crafted items like The Frozen Eye have zero defense on them. The only saving grace of this fight is that, as an offtank dealing with adds, you don't actually need the resist gear at all if you regular tanking gear is halfway decent (shhh, don't tell my raid leader *cough*)

#4: Prince Malchezaar
You face not Malchezaar alone, but the Random Number Generator he commands! I bet you all thought this was going to be the #1 spot, didn't you? Well, he's not. The fact of the matter is, this is NOT supposed to be a "stand in one spot and DPS" fight, its supposed to be a mobility fight. But alas, folks have found that its easier to park your tank against a wall, your ranged folks in a safe nook, and take your chances with the RNG instead. And a boss fight whose success or failure is based more on the roll of a die than on the skill of the raiders is bad design (which should be corrected by shoring up those "safe spots" IMO, making the fight harder, but I think more fun once people got used to it).

For many people, Malchezaar is right up there on the list of most hated mobs, because he seems to always drop those two infernals that totally mess up the magical "Stand and deliver" positioning. But I've had some excellent experiences where exactly that happened, but I had a crack team with me, and we moved to a new position, and kept moving throughout the fight (IE: We were forced to do the fight the right way). It helps that I have feral charge to reset my position after shadow novas, I'll admit, but hey, I dont mind having an occasional raid fight that doesn't heavily favor warrior tanks *snerk*.

#3: Lucifron
Lucy is just one of many in a long line of "decurse spam" fights that I find absolutely retarded. A boss that casts a nasty debuff is perfectly fine. . . a boss that casts that nasty debuff on all 40 members of a raid, every 20 seconds, is just annoying. These fights might have been enjoyable for those who didn't have any sort of cleansing ability, but for the rest of us, it was an annoying, repetitive chore.

#2: Shazzrah
Shazz was another one of those spam decurse fights, but with an extra delight that puts him head and shoulders above the rest. You see, he liked spamming this massive arcane explosion that would absolutely obliterate anyone other than the tank trying to be in melee range of him. So everybody, including the rogues and all the warriors but the main tank, would set up for the fight by making a big semicircle around a parked imp at max range. And the only reason anyone ever went inside that circle was because they were the tank, or they were bringing Shaz back to the tank after he randomly teleported to them.

For those of you who think fights like Maulgar and Prince are melee unfriendly, try spending an entire fight as a warrior/rogue shooting arrows, bullets, and throwing daggers at a boss. Alas, it could be worse. . . you could be decursing!

#1: Big Bad Wolf
Yeah, go ahead and laugh. I HATE BBW (No, not THOSE BBW *cough*). Hate him with a passion. Supposedly, you're supposed to be able to keep ahead of him when turned into Little Red Riding Hood by running around the stage scenery in a tight circle, as he's supposed to get hung up on the stuff. I've watched people do it successfully. I've done the same exact damn thing they did. I've died every time I don the hood.

Whats really annoying, though, is that he seems to have this annoying tendency to make the tank big bad the moment he's pulled. And since the tank has no armor, he can't just stand there and build threat, he has to run away too, making sure that, at the very least, the healers are above his threat and will get beaten to a pulp the minute he breaks out. Or he picks on all of the healers, systematically splattering them all (I think I've seen a healer survive it once, but most of the time they seem to be too focused on health bars to notice the raid warnings and such).

When I first went to Karazhan, I was told we were lucky, because our first couple of Opera events were the Wolf, and he was the "easiest" of the opera events. Frankly, I'll take a harder event that kills me because I made mistakes over an "easy" event that splatters me just because I cant get a mob to bug out on scenery.
Continue reading 'The Five Worst Raid Bosses Ever'

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

"And if the Rogue Blows Past Your Aggro, Let Her Die, oh, Let her Die"

(10 points to the first person to identify the original song lyric today's title is based on. . . not that I'm keeping a scoreboard. Or am I?)

Today I want to ask my readers another question: How much do you pamper, or abuse, your group members? Tanks hold a lot of power in a group, being the layer of steel or fur separating the squishy DPS and healers from the ravenous, bloodthirsty baddies' teeth. If a damage dealer gets cocky, and starts pulling aggro off of said tank, it is fully within that tank's power (at least in heroics and raids) to let that DPSer die by denying them a taunt. If the tank doesn't feel the group is prepared for the next pull, they can quite simply not pull it, forcing the group to wait/prepare (unless, of course, you're grouped with a level 70 hunter, and they decide to use their veto power). So, do you use your powers for good, or for evil?

I personally tend toward being more of an evil tank. If a DPSer pulls aggro off of me once or twice, fine, I'll taunt it back, mistakes happen. Any more than that, though, and you had better hope you have some way of saving yourself, because I'm done, for this run if not forever0. PuGgers do that to me all the time, usually by attacking a target other than the next one marked on the kill order, or opening up on DPS before I get anything off on the first mob in a pull other than a faerie fire. Guild members do it to me too, though, and the treatment they get, at least in 5-mans and Karazhan, is no different. Hitting bladeflurry while I swipe spam may sound like a great way to improve your DPS, but you might not want to do it right at the pull, because believe it or not, your bladeflurry is hitting "X" for a lot more threat than my one swipe every 2 seconds.

Sometimes, DPSers try to be helpful by using inventive (or not so inventive) forms of crowd control on off-mobs, even though I didn't ask for it. Often times, their initiative gets them in over their head. And when that happens, my willingness to come to their aid rests largely on my mood, and how unusual what they were trying to do is. A hunter who simply takes the initiative, pulls a mob off of me, and gets a trap resist/feign resist will probably find me in a benevolent mood, and find himself alive after a quick feral charge/growl. The warlock who decided to fear kite a mob, but didn't count on that mob getting off a silence/stun/counterspell? As long as the 'lock otherwise seems to know what he's doing, and I'm not in a terrible mood, I'll probably rescue him, but if he's fearkiting right next to another group, or I'm downright pissy, he had better hope he self-soulstoned. And the mage/shaman/hunter who decided to try kiting a mob around the room? A novel approach, certainly, but if I didn't ask you to do it (and I never have, save for the druid on the hunter boss in Underbog), you're on your own, pal.

As far as I can recall, I have NEVER willingly allowed a healer to die, though. If a healer is getting beaten on, that means either I didn't do my job by building threat on that mob, or the healer had to put out a ton of healing for some reason (Either I was taking unusually large amounts of damage, or the healer was trying to save the bladeflurrying rogue from before). Either way, the only healers I've ever truly felt deserved to die were the ones that sucked so badly there was no way I'd be able to force aggro upon them (and unfortunately, they never seem to be in the instances with mobs that cleave or have other AoE *grin*). And anyhow, a dead healer means I probably have to waste a reagent at the end of the fight to rez their sorry butt, and sometimes even means a total wipe (though its amazing how often a skilled group can recover from healer death).

That being said, I have been known to spoil my groups as well. As I've mentioned before, I tend to tank heroics and Karazhan in my DPS gear (at least the trash). At first, I started doing it because it let the DPSers go full out on the trash, leading to faster runs. Eventually, though, I realized that many of my healers also appreciated my switching to the DPS gear, as it gave them something to do (Did I mention that healers find me boring to heal in heroics? Yeah.) Heck, I even spoil myself that way, since swipe spam is actually really good DPS (I figure I get at least 500 DPS out of swiping every 2 seconds, alone). Its not just the pally tanks that can give the DPS a run for their money on the meters!

I also tend not to ask for any crowd control unless absolutely necessary. Sure, I'll have the mage sheep the mobs that mind control near Murmur (while we kill off the one that summons), and get some sort of crowd control on the two champions in the pulls near the end of heroic slave pens (Seriously, 3 mobs with CC in one pull? No thanks). But I will happily tank every mob in an Underbog run, hold all the mobs in the last pull before Attumen the Huntsman (though I usually have to let the other tank take one, at least), or even run the entirety of heroic Shattered Halls without so much as a sap (and in plenty of time to save all the prisoners, at that, yay for 7-badge daily runs!).

One more thing: I'm always the benevolent tank when in a raid beyond Karazhan. I'd rather let careless group members learn their lessons later, in lesser instances, than make the whole raid group suffer due to my desire to play god. Raids are already long ordeals, so I want to take every opportunity I can to make it go a little bit faster.

So how do you treat your PuGgers and Guildmates? Are you a benevolent threat god, or a cruel, merciless tormentor of souls? . . . hmm, speaking of souls, all this talk of fear kiting has me wanting to play my warlock. . .
Continue reading '"And if the Rogue Blows Past Your Aggro, Let Her Die, oh, Let her Die"'

Monday, February 25, 2008

What is a Hybrid; or, Why its called Living Shard of the Wildheart

First off, just let me say this: I am in FULL support of my healing brethren in their fight against the Lifebloom nerf. Having gone through similar PvP-induced raid nerfs in the 2.0.10 patch nearly a year ago, I hope that Blizzard wakes up and finds some way to prevent this nerf from totally screwing over the raiders (Like they did for feral tanks by giving Mangle a threat multiplier, and making lacerate generate threat against bleed-immune mobs). However, I feel there is a TON of coverage of the LB nerf from Resto4Life and the rest of the druid blogging community, so I'm going to leave the actual discussion about it to them. Keep on fighting the good fight!

Instead, what I want to talk about today, at least initially, is the concept of a hybrid, and how it fits (or doesn't fit) with the druid class. At first look, druids are THE hybrid class of the game. We're the only class that can perform all 4 of the primary roles found in the game: Tanking, Healing, Melee DPS, and Ranged DPS. By comparison, warriors can tank and do melee DPS, priests can heal and do ranged DPS, Paladins can tank, do melee DPS, and heal, and shamans can heal, do melee DPS, and do ranged DPS. However, while these classes, to varying degrees, are in fact hybrids, the individual MEMBERS of these classes, I contend, are not. In my opinion, to consider a character hybrid, they have to be equally good in multiple roles at the same time, something that no class can do without at least a change of gear, and for most roles a change of spec, as well.

Ask any responsible hybrid class player how many sets of gear they have, and they will have at least 2 full sets of gear: A tanking or healing set, and a DPS set of some sort (for grinding if nothing else). If they only have one set of gear, they're either not playing their class to the fullest, or they're still levelling up (and even when levelling, many hybrids carry multiple gear sets for instance running). I personally have three primary gear sets that I carry with me at all times: my tanking gear, my cat DPS gear (which only shares a few pieces with the tanking gear, namely my T4 gear), and my healing gear. I also maintain a set of caster DPS gear, and have plenty of other gear for use on specific encounters (Resist gear, various trinkets, high stam set, etcetera).

If I were a hybrid, I would have one set of gear, and that set would perform equally well in all roles. Sure, I could put together a set of gear that is, in fact, hybridized, but I would never wear it. When asked to a group, a hybrid is asked to perform a specific role, be it tanking, healing, or DPS, and that one role alone. Sure, there may be times when a hybrid is asked to perform a secondary role, such as offtanking or offhealing, but in those cases, they know of it beforehand, and change into gear appropriate for that new role. We dont wear hybrid sets, because while a hybrid set can let us perform better in roles we may fill 10% of the time, its at a huge cost to our effictiveness the other 90% of the time.

Now, look at any hybrid player's spec. See many 20/20/21 specs out there? Didn't think so. Thats because, while an individual class may be capable of performing multiple roles, since a person will only be filling one role at a time, it is best to complement that one role with a spec which matches the role. A priest who heals most of the time is going to avoid the shadow tree in favor of holy and discipline. A druid who sits back and casts balance spells isn't going to go into the feral tree, they're going to dig deep in balance, and then pick up some complimentary caster talents in the restoration tree to round it out. This is why when people are looking to fill out a group, they dont generally ask "Want to heal our Blood Furnace run?" Instead, they ask "Are you Resto?" or "Are you Holy?". Sure, its possible to have a feral druid or shadow priest heal your run well, but your odds are MUCH better if you get a tree or a holy priest, and with how bad PuGs usually are, group leaders want to stack the deck in their favor as much as possible.

Why do I bring all of this up? Well, this past saturday, Prophecy hit another milestone, killing off Hydross the Unstable in our third night of attempts. And sure enough, to commemorate our victory, Hydross dropped what is known to be one of the crappiest druid items known to man: the Living Root of the Wildheart. A trinket that at first looks like it might be a decent item, giving the wearer 4070 armor in bearform, 64 strength in cat form, 209 spell damage in moonkin form, 326 healing in tree form, or 175 damage/heal in caster form. But when you realize that those bonuses only happen when the trinket "procs", and that the trinket has a whopping 3% proc rate, you start to realize that in any one form, the thing is pretty crappy and unreliable.

The one useful role this trinket could potentially play is as a hybrid item. However, as we already mentioned, hybrid gear isn't really useful, as a druid will always wear the appropriate gear for every fight, and there really aren't many fights where druids will be asked to fill a hybrid role (Ironically, the Hydross fight itself was one such occasion, as I tanked adds until they were dead, then shifted to cat form to contribute more DPS on hydross until the next add phase . . . too bad the armor from the living root is completely useless against elemental damage, eh?). And even if you WERE to switch roles a lot, that would just increase the chance that the root would proc 4000 armor right before you switch to caster form to do some offhealing. . . wasting the proc entirely. And of course, procs at the end of a fight would be wasted as well.

Ultimately, there are some people who claim that the proc rate of the root, while small, keeps the buff up enough to make the trinket worthwhile to a single form. I find this hard to believe, though. For example, lets say you're a tree druid spamming lifebloom at every single cooldown. This means that for every cast of lifebloom, the buff will be up if any one of the last 9 casts procced the trinket (10 if you have absolute perfect timing, maybe). This gives your odds of the buff being up at just shy of 24% (not 27%, since double procs simply refresh the timer instead of giving you twice the buff). Averaging out the value of the trinket, then, we get .24*326 = 78.24 bonus healing on average.

Looking at the other forms, we get 50.16 spelldamage in moonkin form when spamming wrath and moonfire (Same math as lifebloom spam), 28.16 strength in cat form (assuming 3 auto attacks and one special every 3 seconds, 44% uptime), 1493 armor in bear form (6 autoattacks/mauls and 10 instant attacks every 15 seconds, 36.7% uptime), and 42 damage/healing in caster form for what its worth.

When you look at the averages here, the trinket looks *okay*, but remember, we're assuming absolute maximum effect, while reality will be much lower on 95% of situations. For example, I'd only get about half benefit from the armor in bearform due to the fact that I'm only about 2k armor shy of the cap, and if we're assuming an average 750 armor, I'll equip my Mark of Tyranny and get just over 1k armor all the time instead. And my hat goes off to the moonkin who can sustain wrath spam through an entire bossfight (though if you're that advanced, why are you using this trinket for 50 spelldamage, when Darkmoon Card: Crusade gives you 80, and Icon of the Silver Crescent gives you an average of 69, and the proc is useable as controlled burst damage. And that 78 bonus healing in tree form? Pick up an Essence of the Martyr for an average of 134 bonus healing (again, with a controllable proc for burst healing) from badges, and then tell me the 78 from the Root, under ideal circumstances mind you, is worthy of a T5 item drop.

So, the trinket is subpar for single role druids, and while it may be better for druids in hybrid gear, with a hybrid spec, pulling a hybrid role, those druids dont exist in raiding. On the plus side, the LRotWH isn't alone in the unwanted hybrid gear club, though it is the shining star of the group. See also: Idol of the Raven Goddess (Which, despite its hybrid nature, can actually be decent in a 25-man raid setting when a full group can make use of a druid's auras. . . alas, by that time you have better idols though), Dungeon Set 3 (Properly socketed, and with its 2-piece bonus, at least somewhat decent as stop-gap healing gear), and the old hybrid epics from heroic dungeons that were visually the rest of the Dungeon Set (oh, but blizzard changed those into good feral pieces, since nobody used the hybrid gear).

Oh, and I forgot to mention. . . I won the trinket. Not that I plan on using the thing, I just hate to see items from a guild first kill get sharded. In my bank it will sit, at least for now. Eventually, either the trinket will be made useful like what happened with the heroic epics, or, much more likely, I'll get sick of having no bank space and vendor it, making it infinitely more useful than it was by using the proceeds to buy a stack of Mad Alchemist Potions for myself.
Continue reading 'What is a Hybrid; or, Why its called Living Shard of the Wildheart'

I Can Has Banner!

Yes, thats right! The Rambling Bear finally has a real banner to put atop the website! Much thanks to Wymond, one of my guildmates, for really coming through for me! Just dont go spending that 100 gold all in the same place.

Now, even though the 100 gold prize (which was announced in Prophecy's forum) has been claimed, I'm leaving it up there for my guildmates, and am willing to extend it to, at the very least, the rest of my server's population. If I get more than one Rambling Bear banner, I will simply put them into a weekly rotation to show 'em all off. Gotta find some way to stand out from the rest of the blogging crowd, after all! I will also gladly accept any entries from folks who dont play on Steamwheedle Cartel, though unless I really, really fall in love with it, you probably wont get to collect the 100 gold, since I would have to roll a character on your server and grind/auction house farm for the money. Though I could always fund a new alt rolled on SwC in that case :-)

Oh, and dont worry, I'm not counting this as my one post a day (though I might count it as friday's, since once again I was unable to post, this time due to workload), I just wanted to publicly thank Wymond for helping me get rid of the fugly default header. Continue reading 'I Can Has Banner!'

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Macro Polo

Today's theme came about partly because of something I omitted in yesterday's post about catform DPS. When doing catform DPS on a boss, if you're fairly confident you wont need to be using it to heal, you can utilize your mana pool to get extra attacks for free by abusing Ferocity via "Powershifting". And since 2.3, powershifting has been easier than ever due to the change in how shapeshifting (and indeed all spells) are handled by the game, as a power-shift can be performed simply pressing a macro. . . one of the three I want to present to you all today. And so, with no further ado, my four favorite (only) feral macros of all time!

1: The Hunnypot
#showtooltip Super Healing Potion/Mad Alchemist's Potion/Super Rejuvenation Potion
/use Master Healthstone
/use Charged Crystal Focus
/use Super Healing Potion/Mad Alchemist's Potion/Super Rejuvenation Potion
/cast Dire Bear Form

(Yes, the Hunnypot. Named so because Surania is actually my Fiancee in RP-terms, and she is absolutely obsessed with Winny the Pooh.)

What it does: Pretty much any feral druid who hasn't been living under a rock knows about this by now. Due to changes in how spellcasts are handled by the client and server in WoW, druids can now shift out of form, consume a potion and a healthstone, and shift back into form with a single press of a macro (and with little, if not absolutely zero, time spent out of form).

The first, second, and last lines are fairly straightforward. The first line is there so your macro will display your potion of choice as its icon, and more importantly, the cooldown on your potion. No point in hitting the macro if you're not actually able to use the potion/stone, it'll just shift you out and back in, with nothing to show for it but a reset rage bar and a thousand less mana. The second line takes you out of whatever form you're in (most likely bear, but can also take you out of catform if, for example, you accidentally pulled aggro while DPSing and need to both get your health back and switch to a more durable form until the tank re-establishes aggro). The last puts you into bear form. The second line will consume a warlock-provided healthstone, or if you dont have one, the third line will instead eat a self-farmed Charged Crystal Focus. The fourth line, in turn, chugs a health potion of choice, regardless if which, if any, stone was consumed.

A few notes: First, you have to be VERY careful when using this macro. NEVER hit this button unless you're sure you are not currently on global cooldown. GCD wont stop the bulk of this macro from going off, as shifting out of form and using potions/healthstones are independant from it, but shifting back INTO form triggers, and thus is prevented by, GCD. That means if you hit this macro immediately following a lacerate, maul, faerie fire, demo roar, growl, or anything of the sort, you will shift out, drink your potions, STAY out of form, and probably get smashed by Mr. Big Bad Baddie MacBadderson for much, much more than you just got from the potions. If you think you're going to need a health infusion at any moment, stop mangling and lacerating to avoid issues (you can, however, still use Maul, as its cooldown is your swing speed, not the GCD).

Second, I want to HIGHLY recommend that all tanks, bear or otherwise, spend some time and farm up a stack of Charged Crystal Foci. They aren't quite as good as even an untalented healthstone, but they're a heck of a lot better than nothing when you don't have a warlock, or already used your stone(s).

Third, I give you three choices of potion. Most of you will probably just use Super Healing Potions, as they're relatively easy to get, and usable by anybody. Mad Alchemist's Potions are for alchemists like me, since they're only usable by us. They also have the added benefits of slightly higher average healing, a free random buff (if not elixir buffed, IE tanking easy stuff), and they're dirt cheap to make, taking only a couple ragveil and a crystal vial to make. And the Rejuvenation potions have the same health return as mad alchemist potions (And PS: They give mana too, though you're not likely to need it if you're tanking), but also take much more expensive mats than healing potions, and the health difference is not all that much.

2: The Power Shift:
/cast Cat Form

What it does: This is basically a super-stripped down version of the potion macro. It simply shifts you out of whatever form you're in and puts you into cat form.

Sounds pretty useless, eh? Well, not if you know about powershifting. Basically, powershifting is a tactic used to convert your caster-form mana into cat-form energy via the Furor talent. To do that, you need to do 2 things:

1: Use up all, or nearly all of your energy.
2: Press this macro while NOT on the global cooldown.

Essentially, hitting your power shift macro will reset your energy to 40, no matter what it was at beforehand. If you had full energy, you just lost 60. But if you had, say, 3 energy, you just got 37 more. Note, however, that it is not so easy to do this effectively, because once again, we have to be off global cooldown in order to shift back into cat, and we need to be in cat before the next "tick" (which occurs every 2 seconds and gives us 20 energy). On the plus side, catform abilities only have a 1 second GCD, instead of the 1.5 seconds most other abilities have. However, that only leaves us a 1 second window to powershift, due to the order of events that have to occur (Energy remaining in parenthesis, note that this is assuming a perfect powershift, you wont often actually get to 0 energy):

(22) -> Energy Tick (42) -> Shred (0) -> Power Shift (40) -> Energy Tick (60)

Oh, and if you do a lot of powershifting, its highly advisable to pick up Natural Shapeshifter, as 3 points in NSS lets you powershift nearly 50% more before running out of mana. I'd also advise picking up a DruidBar or similar addon that tracks your mana while in forms, or you're likely to try to powershift when OoM, and end up stuck in caster form.

3: Stealth and Stuns:
/cast [modifier:shift]Prowl; [combat] Maim; [stealth] Pounce; Prowl

What it does: This is one of two macros I use to save space on my cat bar. I'm really proud of this one, because I managed to combine three skills into one button, and it automatically chooses the right skill for the current situation:

First, the macro checks to see if I'm in combat. If I am, prowl can't be cast, and pounce either can't be cast either, or would be useless to me (because being in combat means I either already got hit, thus am not stealthed any more, or means a boss put me in combat, and bosses are immune to stun). Therefore, the macro assumes I wanted to use maim to incapacitate my target.

If I'm not in combat, the macro then checks to see if I'm stealthed. If I am and am within range of my target, it assumes I wish to pounce upon whatever I'm targeting, stunning it so I can run behind the mob and shred it to death.

And finally, if I'm neither in combat nor in stealth, the macro knows that I WANT to be stealthed, and casts prowl for me.

Basically, the only time this macro doesn't do anything if I push it is when I'm in combat, but have no combo points. Handy, no?

EDIT: I improved on this macro today, but wanted to test it before I posted. . . I added the [modifier:shift] Prowl to the beginning. All this does is give me an easy way to DEstealth if I should so desire, just hold shift and press the button.

4: Backbiter:
/cast [stealth] Ravage; Shred

What it does: Well, after the conditionals of the last macro, I imagine you already know what this one will do. If I'm in stealth, I unleash my most devastating non-finishing move, Ravage. If I'm not in stealth, I instead shred. And of course, given the nature of these two abilities, this macro does NOTHING if I'm not behind my target. Which of course means I'm soloing, and the mob isn't stunned/incapacitated. Because a druid in catform will never be standing in front of a tanked mob, right? RIGHT? Right.
Continue reading 'Macro Polo'

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Bear Goes . . . Mew?

Minigame time: While writing today's post, I noticed myself inadvertently using the names of my fellow druid bloggers quite a bit. So, lets make a game of it. Can you spot all 8 blog names? Highlight below for the "answer key":

Big Bear Butt, Druid Tank, Ferocious Bite, Of Teeth and Claws, Lost in the Grind, Natural Perfection, Omen of Clarity, Rawr Kitty Kitty

I'll be honest, when I think feral druid, I pretty much only think Bear Tank. Yes, I do know about catform DPS, and have done more reading about the proper care and feeding of cat form than I care to admit. But ultimately, I'm in it for the big bear butt. . . no, not like that! Sicko.

Despite this, I was realizing today just how silly it is for a feral druid blogger to have an entire post dedicated to the proper use of balance spells (albeit in the context of tanking), but nothing at all about catform DPS. And so, today I want to talk about cat DPS rotations, both for soloing and, more importantly, raid DPS. No PvP stuff here, mostly because I have about as much experience in mewkitty PvP as I do in Nuclear Reactor Control Theory.


When roaming Azeroth/Draenor slaughtering the wildlife and denizens, catform is the obvious shapeshift of choice. Occasionally you might find a challenge worthy of using bear form (either large groups or tough elites), but in general the raw killing power of some well placed mangles and a ferocious bite is the order of business.

There are two general approaches used by most druids while soloing: Some, such as myself, prefer to go quickly from target to target, using brute force to kill a mob with a faerie fire pull, mangles to 5 combo points, and a FB to finish the job. Other druids, though, prefer a more elegant approach, utilizing our stunning abilities to keep a mob locked down for most of the fight. They use stealth, pounce a mob, mangle it for the debuff, shred until the stun wears off, and then maybe even use their combo points to maim the target to move into position for yet another shred.

While I personally believe brute force leads to an overall faster killing speed in most situations (and it also lets me use less of my brain, allowing me to just sit back and get lost in the grind), stunlocking does have the added advantage of minimizing the amount of time you have to spend out of form healing yourself, and on tougher mobs can even mean the difference between successfully soloing and spending some time dashing away or ghostwalking back to your corpse.

There really isn't that much to say about soloing. For the most part, you can just kill whatever you want, being careful to not let your health drop too low. There isn't much in the way of an optimal skill rotation when slaughtering nonelites, they dont live long enough to use our best finisher (rip), or to even bother with proper timing of trinket popping (pop it before you aggro, the mob should be dead by the time the buff wears off anyhow). If you get multiple mobs, you might need to shift to bear form and swipe spam the mobs to death, though if you can get away with staying in cat form, I find that doing so gives me more DPS, even if I have 3 or more mobs to swipe.

Bleed-Immune Bosses

Now, lets say you're invited to a group or raid and asked to go all rawr kitty kitty. Even here, most of the pulls are going to be more about spamming abilities until the mob is dead, and less about efficiency, because trash mobs die just as fast, if not faster than nonelite mobs you'd be farming in the wild. Feral Faerie Fire on the approach to a mob, mangle, then shred until the mob is dead. Using ferocious bite when the mob is near death is optional, I tend not to do it unless my energy happens to tick into the 35-40 range at just the right time.

On bosses, though, the name of the game changes. Now you have PLENTY of time to worry about efficient DPS rotations. This is also where your A-game is most important, as bosses are generally the real challenge of an instance/raid. First off, lets say we're fighting a bleed-immune mob like Mechanolord Capacitus or Nightbane. Ew. We have to do this without the assistance of our best finishing move: Rip. Instead, we have to use ferocious bite as our combo point finisher, or just not use a finisher at all.

The truth is, ferocious bite has one MAJOR flaw when it comes to raid DPS. . . it eats all of your remaining energy, converting any extra you had at a very inefficient rate to raw bonus damage. 2.7 damage per point of energy, to be exact. At first glance, this may sound like a good thing, letting you store up extra energy to unleash a bigger bite, but think of it this way: 42 energy adds 113.4 damage to the bite. 42 energy, assuming you have a good feral spec, could instead be used to fire off an extra shred. And if your shreds only do 113.4 damage, you need to file a bug report with blizzard, because I'm pretty sure I could do at least twice that NAKED.

So, when ferocious bite is your only combo point dump, you may not actually want to bother using FB at all. In general, you will only want to bite if you have 4-5 combo points, 35-41 energy, and no Omen of Clarity proc up. That way, you only waste up to 6 energy, while still cashing in your combo points for a rather nice chunk of damage. Note that I'm not providing any numbers here. I might come back to this topic on a later date, but for now, I'm simply quoting conventional wisdom. If you find its more effective to use FB every time you get 5 combo points, you just might be right. And if you find that FB is a waste of energy even when you hit 35 energy exactly, so be it. Just dont be saving up 100 energy just to get the big numbers on a bite, because your overall DPS will suffer for it.

So, how do we DPS against a bleed immune boss? Well, just like any other mob, we open with a faerie fire while approaching the target (or, if preferred, open with a ravage from stealth, but be careful about aggro!). If you have any use: trinkets equipped, pop one, Mangle, and then start shredding. Keep going with the shreds until you either have enough combo points (and the right amount of energy) for a Ferocious bite, after which you should resume shredding, or until the Mangle debuff wears off. When the mangle goes down, do NOT immediately reapply it. Instead, you now want to wait until you have 81+ energy saved up, and then you want to start the process all over again.

This bursty DPS style is used for one very specific reason: Shred is a much more efficient source of DPS than Mangle, but you never want to shred while the mob doesn't have the Mangle debuff due to the 30% bonus shred damage. By saving up your energy, you get to toss an extra shred or two after each mangle, thus upping your Shred:Mangle ratio, and your overall DPS in the process.

Of course, there is one other way to up your shred:mangle ratio, and that is by having another feral druid grouped with you. If you're grouped with another cat druid, they will probably keep up the mangle debuff for you (unless they're expecting you to do likewise), and thus you're likely to never have to apply a mangle at all. And if you have a druid tank, mangle should be up most of the time as well (realize, though, that two missed mangles in a row is not uncommon to a bear, and a double miss will cause the debuff to fall off). If you find yourself running with feral druids often, I would recommend downloading the DeMon (Debuff Monitor) mod and adding mangle to the list of debuffs it tracks. This can give you an easy way to make sure your shreds will be at full effect without having to stare at a million debuff icons.

Bleedable Bosses:

Ahh, this is where a feral druid can really put some hurt on a boss. When bosses can bleed, it allows druids to whip out our big gun, that weapon of natural perfection: Rip. No more do we need to worry about wasted rage from Ferocious Bite. Nor do we want to concern ourselves as much about maximizing our shred:mangle ratio (though its still better if you can use as few mangles as possible). Instead, we now want to focus on Rip uptime.

There are two important facts to know about Rip. First of all, the difference between a 4- and 5-point rip is next to nothing. And since we're now focused on keeping it up as much as possible, that means that its much better to rip with 4 combo points and get that bleed ticking sooner than it is to wait for a fifth combo point. And second, Rip takes 12 seconds to do its damage, ticking every few seconds. Mangle's debuff also lasts 12 seconds. Coincidence?

The attack sequence for rip is a bit different than it was for bite. We still only want to use shred when Mangle is up, obviously, but we also need to make sure Mangle stays up throughout the entire rip, and still want to reduce our casting of Mangle to a minimum. So here's what we do:

1: Keep faerie fire up at all times. Every little bit counts.

2: On the initial pull, mangle and shred up to 4 or 5 combo points (5 only if your fourth point is a crit). When you get there, STOP and autoattack.

3: This is the part you'll be repeating until the boss dies. Wait until you have 81+ energy. When you get there, rip, and as long as the rip hits, follow it up IMMEDIATELY with a mangle. Do NOT mangle and then rip, or the last tick of your rip will happen after the mangle debuff falls. The first tick of rip doesn't happen until 3 seconds in, so you have time. Once mangle lands, spam shred until you get back to 4 or 5 combo points, then let your energy regen again (note that this time spent waiting for energy is the perfect opportunity to refresh faerie fire). Repeat this cycle over and over.

4: Trinkets: You want to pop your trinkets just before you rip. If a trinket's effect lasts 10 seconds, you'll get a rip, mangle, and a few shreds in under the effect. Longer trinkets will apply to multiple rips, and even more shreds and mangles as well. Basically, you always want to save trinkets until you're just about to open up on another burst of DPS.

5: Too many, too fast: Sometimes, high crit and/or lucky crit strings, Omen of Clarity procs, and 2-piece T4 can cause you to hit full energy and 4-5 combo points before your rip is done ticking. When this happens, dont let that extra energy go to waste, throw an extra shred in there! The extra combo point will go to waste, but its better than missing out on "free" shreds! Actually, with regards to Omen of Clarity, you may find it best to always shred when you get a proc, even if you're already at full combo points, if only because it cant proc again while you have a free attack waiting for you.

And. . . thats pretty much it, at least in terms of attack rotations. Follow these simple rules, and you'll be well on your way to inducing a new world of hurt via a flurry of teeth and claws. Nothing too complex, but thats good, because I dont have time to practice complex DPS rotations, I have to work out my bear-pecs!

Continue reading 'The Bear Goes . . . Mew?'

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Sum Bare R 4 MOONFARE?!?!

For most tanking classes, pulling is a rather straightforward affair. Warriors can fire their sidearm of choice at a group to get their attention. Paladins can channel the essence of Captain America/Xena, Warrior Princess. Both also have the option to run up to the mobs to initiate combat (albeit warriors get to do so a little bit faster). Druids, on the other hand, have options. Lots, and lots, and lots of options. Starfire, moonfire, wrath, hurricaine, faerie fire, feral charge, body pulling, tossing a sacrificial gnome, all are options in our arsenal (well, except for the gnome).

All of our options have distinct advantages and disadvantages, but alas, spellcasting is not the strong suit of most of our feral brethren. And while, generally speaking, pulling is only a small part of our job, its still part of what we do, so those of us obsessed enough with our class to, say, read blogs on a daily basis (let alone write them *cough*) should really know what we're doing when we decide to call down orbital lazer fire from space.

First of all, lets meet our arsenal. Lets just go ahead and assume we have 0 bonus damage and 0% chance to crit, because thats basically what we should have in tanking gear:

Starfire: That would be the big laser with the long cast. Averages 588 damage for 370 mana. 3.5 second cast. 168 DPS, 1.59 DPM

Wrath: The big ball of nature's . . . well, wrath. Averages 405 damage for 255 mana. 2 second cast. 202.5 DPS, 1.59 DPM

Moonfire: The little lazer that burns for hours. . . or at least 12 seconds. With DoT, averages 931 damage for 495 mana. 1.5 second global cooldown, instant cast. 620.7 Damage Per Second of effective cast time, 1.88 DPM.

Hurricane: Why hit one when you can hit 'em all? 206 DPS for 10 seconds on all mobs under it. 1905 mana.

Faerie Fire (Feral): Proof that druids now how to cast fire spells. Or not. Free cast in forms, generates just enough threat to get the attention of your enemies.

One of the first things you might notice is that, without any spelldamage gear, Wrath is just as efficient as, and has higher DPS than, Starfire. Starfire has the advantage of being a bigger single hit, though, something that will come into play later, and make Starfire a favorite choice of this bear.

Second, Moonfire is actually more efficient, and has much higher DPS, than either of our straight nukes. Note, however, that this is only true if you use moonfire only once per target. Multiple casts on the same target wont stack the DoT portion, which is 2/3 of the actual damage.

Third, hurricane kicks the crap out of everything else on pulls of 3 or more, though its damage is more spread out. It does, however, eat a signifigant chunk of your mana, especially if coupled with barkskin.

Now that we've met the players, lets look at one of the game rules that you may know about, but might not have considered when it comes to pulling groups to your furry behind: The Global Cooldown *cue ominous sound effects*. For those who don't know, the GCD is a game mechanic which makes it impossible to start casting a spell if you have started another spell within the last 1.5 seconds (or 1 second for energy users). This is why spamming your moonfire key wont bring down an endless rain of lasers, and why resto druids don't maintain triple-stack lifeblooms on 25 people at a time.

Now, you may have noticed one tricky fact about the GCD. Unlike the five-second rule for mana regeneration (whose namesake 5 second timer starts counting whenever a spellcast is completed), the global cooldown timer starts ticking the moment you START casting. Thats why it tends to really only be noticable when casting instant spells, such as moonfire or lifebloom, and not on casted spells like Starfire or Wrath (save for balance-specced druids and their occasional 1-second Wrath cast).

Why is the GCD stuff important? Well, at first glance, it may look like Starfire and Wrath are pretty pointless to use if you only want to get a little threat on as many mobs as possible. Starfire looks especially worthless here, until you consider the cooldown. Lets say we open our pull sequence with a moonfire, since its the highest DPS/DPM spell in our arsenal. Great, you've effectively applied about 931 damage/threat to a target with your pull. However, you have also just engaged the global cooldown, and must wait 1.5 seconds before performing another action, such as firing another moonfire or shifting to bear form. If you instead open with a Starfire, the global cooldown expires 2 seconds BEFORE that initial burst of aggro, meaning the moment Starfire's 588 damage/threat goes off, alerting the mobs to your presence, you're able to follow it up with another spell immediately (possibly even that same moonfire you would have pulled with before this paragraph). This is, as far as I'm concerned, the best (and only) way to use Starfire as a bear tank, the initial, free (since really, mana doesn't matter as long as we have enough to shift) shot.

Small Group Pulls:

So, lets say you come to the pull just after the first boss in Sethekk Halls: 2 melee mobs. Not really worth busting out hurricane here, best to stick with the single-target damage. How do we want to pull them? Well, lets assume that once our mobs are pulled, we have 3.5 seconds before they're in our face smacking us on the head. Lets also assume we want the bulk of the threat on our primary kill target, because our DPSers have a tendency to jump the gun a bit, especially after seeing a bunch of lasers rain down on the mobs' heads. Standing at max range, we target the primary mob and begin to cast Starfire. Then, with starfire still casting, we switch targets to the secondary mob, and hover our mouse over the primary mob. The moment starfire casts (0 seconds after the pull starts), we fire off a moonfire (which immediately fires, since the GCD expired two seconds ago) on our secondary target, as that was the mob we had targeted, and then immediately click on the primary target again to regain focus. As soon as the global cooldown from that cast expires (1.5 seconds after the pull starts), we moonfire again, this time hitting our primary target. And when THAT cooldown expires (3.0 seconds after the pull starts), we shift to bear form to prepare for taking our first hit 0.5 seconds later. By pulling in this way, we have built up over 1500 initial threat on our primary target (though it will be another 10 seconds before the full effect of the moonfire has been felt) and nearly 1000 threat on our secondary target (again, once moonfire takes full effect).

Two things to note here: While waiting for global cooldowns, you can extend the time it takes for your foes to reach you by either backing up, or turning and strafing/running away from them. I usually just back up to maintain visual on the mobs. Second, even though you're building up some nice initial threat, DPS can NOT immediately lay into the mobs. It would not be hard at all for someone to out-aggro you by the time the mobs got there, especially in your caster-stat-free gear. This is merely an extra buffer for your DPSers to make them safer to go all out once you get a mangle and some swipes into the mobs, and some leeway for the healer to keep you up should your initial attacks all miss.

Now, lets say you had a little more time than that to build threat. This is a rare occasion where wrath might be a good pulling option. Lets say you now have 4 seconds, and can extend that time to 5.5 by backing up during global cooldowns on 2 moonfires (obviously we're assuming a good bit of foreknowledge regarding the particular mobs here). If you're feeling daring, and really want to build some threat on your primary target (or just want to put up some better numbers on the damage meter), try this on for size: Starfire on the primary target to open. When the starfire goes off (0s), start casting a wrath on it, and switch to the secondary target. When the wrath goes off (2s), starfire, switch targets back to the primary target, and start backing away. When the global cooldown is up (3.5s), moonfire again, this time hitting the primary target with it, and keep backing up. Once you're out of that GCD (5s), its time to shift to bear and lay into them both when they reach you half a second later. Same amount of threat on your secondary target, but another 400 threat and damage on your primary.

Large Group Pulls:

Now that we've absolutely obliterated that pull, lets move a bit deeper into the instance. Eventually, you go upstairs, kill off a wind serpent and 2 guards, and are then faced with the biggest pull of the instance: 10 hawks. Now, I know as well as the next guy that these guys are a joke, but lets pretend this is serious business, and we absolutely need to maintain aggro on all ten while not getting hit by any of them outside of bear form. Now, your first reaction to this pull is probably to pull out hurricane, center it over the birds, and fire. However, we want to build maximum threat here, so we're going to do this a little differently. First of all, we're going to target the closest bird and get to maximum starfire range. Then, we're going to start casting starfire, since we already noted that starfire is essentially a freebie when looking at a max-threat pull. Then, while starfire is casting, we are going to click hurricane and get it targeted (yes, you can be targeting it while another spell is casting, aren't you glad starfire takes so long now?). But we're not going to try to center the hurricane over the mobs. Instead, we want to drop it closer to us, hitting the area in between ourself and our targets.

Why target hurricane like this? Well, the answer is simple. If you center it over your targets, those targets only have to pass through part of the hurricane to get to you. If you drop it in between you and them, however, they have to travel the full width of the spell to approach you, and thus spend much more time getting bolts dropped on their heads. More bolts = more threat. Just make sure there is a little distance between you and the near edge of the hurricane so you have a chance to switch to bear form before the mobs start hitting you.

Ok, now, lets get real here. Those birds are a joke, and as long as they get heals, a mage could "tank" them with little problem. So, instead of worrying about getting hit, lets just do as much damage as we can to them. This time, we'll still start with a starfire, but instead of targeting hurricane while its casting, we get ready to run toward them. Once starfire goes off, cast barkskin, and run toward the group. Then, once you reach the mobs, drop that hurricane right at your feet and enjoy the rain of numbers. Just be sure to watch your health, in case the healer cant keep up with the damage you're taking. Bear tank DPS at its finest, my friends.

At this point, I've shared with you what I consider the major tricks a druid can use to build maximum threat on a pull: Always start with a Starfire (unless you cant due to aggro range or arcane immunity). When building threat on multiple enemies, either hit as many of them as possible with moonfire, or drop a hurricane where they have to walk through the whole thing before getting to you. If you need to build as much threat as possible on a single mob before it gets to you, spam wrath, and use moonfire as your last spell before going to bear (takes less time than the wrath, and allows you to back away while waiting for GCD). Additionally, you can do things such as precasting HoTs on yourself, though this will really only give your healer a little more time before they have to start healing you, especially since HoTs cast outside of combat apparently generate no threat (at least thats what I hear, I have never actually tested this, maybe I'll do that tonight).

But, there's one more spell you can pull with. . . Faerie Fire. Specifically Feral Faerie Fire. Practically no threat, but it will bring the mobs to you. And frankly, its what I use for 90% or more of the pulls I make. While FFF isn't going to build you any sort of threat cushion, it has some great advantages. First of all, theres no risk of a sudden lagspike leaving you stuck in caster form with mobs beating on you. Second, once the mob you hit with it gets to you, you can open up with a slightly stronger Maul/Mangle combo because of the mob's reduced armor. Third, if you have a lot of rage built up from the previous pull, you dont have to lose it by shifting out of form. And fourth . . .

You really shouldn't need the extra threat from all those silly balance spells in the first place. Yes, thats right, while optimizing your pull sequence is a fun little exercize in theorycraft, it is also by and large unnecessary, despite what I said about knowing how to call down the lazers at the start of this post.

There are only two reasons to seriously use your non-FFF spells for pulling in general: Polymorph/Seduce, and huge pulls like those 10 birds, or the big pulls in Shattered Halls. The former case, the cast time on Starfire gives your mage/warlock the chance to coordinate with you on the pull. I shed a tear of joy when a mage polymorphs his target a split second after my starfire goes off, because I know I wont have to worry about that sheep straying anywhere near my swipe killzone. And my healers shed a tear of joy when I hit a 7-mob pull with 3 ticks of Hurricane, because they know that 600x7=4,200 damage I just did to the mobs means their first heal on me isn't going to send 4-6 mobs barreling down on them.

Oh, and there is one other reason to put effort into your pulls. If you're like me, and have run pretty much every heroic a dozen times, and at least that many karazhan clears, unloading a bunch of flashy spells into mobs on a pull can be a way to keep from getting bored. Heck, I once moonfired all 6 mobs of a pull while bringing them all back to the second boss' room in heroic Shattered halls for fun (and because I thought the hunter that was with me might be amused by the fact a druid tank was jump-shotting with moonfire in a heroic. Jumpshots: they're not just for hunters any more!)
Continue reading 'Sum Bare R 4 MOONFARE?!?!'

Monday, February 18, 2008

Somebody Set Up Us the QQ Bomb

So, obviously there was no interface post this weekend. Turns out the missus had the weekend off from babysitting, so I was playing with her most of the weekend. Lesson learned: no more announcing posts ahead of time. Lets just say the UI post will be coming "soon".

Anyhow, today I want to expand on a post Matticus made recently on Leaving Your Guild the Right Way. While he looked at it from the angle of somebody who wants to leave the guild on good terms, or at the very least someone who doesn't want to burn all the Bridges of Madison County, I want to discuss a very different type of departed guildmate. Someone I have come to refer to as the /Gquit Bomber.

A /Gquit Bomber is a person who has a score to settle, either with individual guild members, or the guild as a whole. More often than not, the target of their anger is one or more of the guild officers, but it may also be someone who benefitted from what they see as a great injustice. Such injustices range from loot disputes to raid invite favoritism to feeling slighted by guildmates, to pretty much anything you can think of. Sometimes the concern is a valid one, other times it is merely the perception of the Bomber. The only unifying factor is that, whatever the injustice, it is something important to the Bomber. In fact, sometimes people who the guild kicks out turn into the worst Bombers of them all, your turning them away being the biggest testament to your unfairness EVER!

Now, not everybody who feels they're being opressed in some way will become a /Gquit Bomber. Some may stay and work out their problems. Others will at least show some degree of maturity and simply quit the guild. Bombers, however, decide to make their leaving personal. Its not enough to simply leave the situation behind them and start fresh elsewhere, they have to make their former guild suffer for the criminal way they were treated.

The most effective way for a Bomber to hurt your guild is by getting other members, especially active raiders (if you're in a raiding guild) to leave, or to at least hinder the recruitment of new members. The former is often done by direct contact with those they left behind. New members, fringe members, and those who have experienced similar treatment (but perhaps not considered it unfair at the time) are the most likely targets. Often times, this can go on unbeknownst to the guild's leadership, at least for a while. Eventually, word usually gets out that somebody has been trying to get people to leave the guild, either due to someone ratting the person out, or sometimes due to another member following in the footsteps of the first.

Hindering new recruitment, however, is something most often carried out on the wonderful morass known as the Blizzard Realm Forums, though in-game smear campaigns have also been known to occur, especially in the equally murky swamp of the trade channel. If you have a recruitment thread, expect to see it bombarded with haterade. Either way, you're likely to also get a few new forum threads dedicated to how horribly your guild treats its members, written either by the member themself, or their favorite level 3 troll alt.

Now, if you're a member of a fairly small guild, you may never have to deal with people like this. As your guild gets bigger, however, these folks tend to get more frequent, and the fecal matter they stir up tends to get more and more. . . fragrant. The reason for this is twofold: smaller groups tend to be more tight knit, and thus people are more likely to work out their problems with their close friends, and bigger groups usually have bigger reputations, and for a Bomber to smear a guild's reputation, there needs to be one there TO smear.

Now, lets just say that you currently have a mad Bomber or two on the loose, like Prophecy does at the moment. What do you do? Well, while a guild's response has to be tailored to the person you're dealing with, as well as the guild's philosophies and reputation, the first thing you need to do is to treat this person like any other forum troll. . .


This first step is crucial, just don't respond to them at all, at least initially. This is because the bomber can't do much, if any, damage to your guild on his own. He, like any other forum troll, relies on a tactic of baiting you into responding, and then making you look bad via your own response to them. A troll that nobody responds to is about as effective as a missile without a warhead.

Now, the problem is, in a guild large enough to bother attacking like this, its very hard to keep all of your members from feeding the troll. And even if you do succeed at controlling your guild's members, SOMEBODY on the forum is going to bite on it. So while its good for the general guild membership to just leave the situation alone, guild leadership should generally be ready to combat the problem carefully (though completely ignoring the issue has been known to have some success with certain guilds).

One important thing to remember is that you're dealing with somebody who doesn't really have anything to lose. Your guild's reputation is on the line, but the Bomber isn't likely to have a reputation to speak of (or if they do have one, it is usually not a good one). Dont let them bring you down to their level, that'll just be a victory for them.

As for how to actually respond to the Bomber . . . the only hard and fast rule that comes to mind is to never fight a battle you dont know how to win, and dont ever try to lie your way out of it. Sometimes its better to ignore the troll, even when you're directly responding to them. For example, if their big argument is that there is loot favoritism, and member X has won 6 pieces of gear in the last two weeks, and member X really DID get those 6 pieces of gear, dont lie and say they only got 2 pieces, admit they got all 6, but explain why it wasn't due to favoritism. Maybe that person was the only one who needed any of the stuff. Maybe the people he was competing with on the loot got together, realized he needed all that stuff more than they did, and voluntarily stepped aside to get a guildie geared up. If you use a loot council, explain. . . well, honestly, if you're using a loot council, get used to these sorts of things *shrug*.

I guess the ultimate truth here is that you dont have to win any arguments to beat a hostile /Gquit Bomber. All you have to do is defuse their ammunition. Sometimes you can do so by pointing out the flaws in their perception. And honestly, sometimes your best bet can be to admit mistakes (if their concerns are legitimate). After all, what better publicity can there be for your guild than showing how guild leadership listens to the concerns of its (ex) members and addresses them. Just make sure you dont come off as giving in to terrorist deamands, though.

Oh, and if Prophecy's current /Gquit-Bombers-At-Large happen to read this, give it up, trolling a guild made up of forum trolls is just plain stupid.
Continue reading 'Somebody Set Up Us the QQ Bomb'

Friday, February 15, 2008

Memories of a Bygone Era

Today, I want to take a look back at days gone by: the Pre-Expansion Age. I was one of those deluded players, back in the day, who actually thought that with enough skill and effort on my part, I could make it as a druid tank. Of course, nowadays that is completely true, but before the 1.12 patch, those of us who had the audacity to actually push for tanking roles were a rare breed. And thus, I bring to you my list of what I miss, and what I'm glad to have left behind, regarding the pre-outland World of Warcraft.

What I miss about the old days:

- Uniqueness/Split Specs: I think what I miss most of all is being a unique dandelion in a bed of roses. Sure, I knew that I should really be plucked (respecced), but I LIKED being different. I was even different from most of the other ferals, who tended to favor the cat-focused specs to my 1/13/37 Bear build. When 1.12 hit, there was a sudden rush of new druids, as well as a bunch of newly respecced ferals. Not only did that make it hard to get groups as a bear for a while (because there were so many uneducated noobs running around in forms), but it also made me lose that feeling of being unique I once had.

- Swipe/Maul Threat: Swipe and Maul used to be OBSCENE threat machines. Both attacks used to have huge threat multipliers on them (though admittedly swipe didn't scale with AP at the time). They both also used to be affected by Savage Fury (Yes, it used to be a bear talent too!). And I used to be able to put out SUCH obscene threat, it was a blast. I remember one particular Zul'Gurub, we got to Hakkar, and I was one of the three tanks (We had a tendency for one tank to die on any given go, so I took advantage and volunteered to be a third tank one day . . . the guild went with three tanks on the fight from that day forward). I pulled aggro when the main tank got mind controlled, as expected. Then, eventually, I got the Mind Control (beasts weren't immune to it on that fight), and it went to a warrior. . . but the moment the MC broke, we were all surprised when Hakkar IMMEDIATELY RAN AT ME! Caused some positioning problems, but he wasn't too hard to reposition. . . every single time until he died. Yeah, if it weren't for the duration of the MC itself, I could have solo-tanked him.

Of course, bear threat is still absolutely fine. Being able to tank Void Reaver through three knockbacks kinda proved that one beyond all doubt for me.

- Devilsaur Hunting: I used to LOVE hunting the original Fel Reavers of the game. I started when I was level 51 or so, duoing them with a Prot paladin friend of mine (whom I still play with today, though he's on a leave from play right now). Eventually, I graduated to being able to solo them. I knew (and still know) the patrol route of all of the 'saurs by heart, and was able to farm up at least half a dozen Devilsaur Leather a day. Leather that sold for 5-10 gold, during a time where the 1k gold an epic land mount cost was a LOT of money. My favorites to fight were the vanilla 'saurs, I always have enjoyed fighting mobs that punt me while in bear form (though eventually, my gear got to be good enough to kill them primarily in cat form).

- DM North Tribute Runs: Best instance concept EVER! None of this "clear to the boss, kill the boss, get loot" stuff, DM Tribute was all about avoiding conflict and leaving the bosses alive. Ignore him, sneak past him, trap him, bluff your way past him, and for God's sake, LEAVE THE HEALER ALIVE! I wish Blizzard would come up with more unique instance concepts like that, in addition to their current focus on making the individual fights more interesting. Other than the two Caverns of Time instances, there really hasn't been much uniqueness in overall dungeon design since DM (and for the record, CoT 1 and 2 are my favorite outland instances, primarily due to the creative approaches in them).

- UBRS Runs: I cant exactly put my finger on why, but I really used to enjoy Upper Blackrock Spire. Maybe it was the fact that druids actually got to play with crowd control in there. Maybe it was the chaotic nature of many of the pulls. Maybe it was the fact that I kept on going back, hoping against all hope that someday Finkel's Skinner would drop for me. . . Oh, who am I kidding, I just loved getting punted by a giant, two headed dog!

What I don't miss in the least:

- Molten Bore: Molten Chore? Molten Snore? Whatever you called it, MC was a big snoozefest once you learned the fights. Especially for a feral druid like me; MC was the place where I learned to actually enjoy healing. Why? Because it beat spamming remove curse, and if I wasn't doing the former, it was because the fight required me to do the latter. I was VEHEMENTLY against blizzard breaking the old, one button decursive, but now that its gone, they have eased way up on decurse fights, making me actually glad the old auto-target functionality is gone. Ragnaros was a cool fight though, I just wish I had gotten the opportunity to tank him (remember when I said I love fighting mobs that knock back? *drool*)

- 40-man Raids: Ok, considering I never really got anywhere in BWL, or did anything in AQ40/Naxxramas, I'm basically just reinforcing how much I LOATHED the Core. But it wasn't just the actual instance itself, I hated the overall feel of huge, 40 person raids. As a bear tank, I was already a pretty marginal player in my guild, but when you add on top of it the fact that there were so many other people, I just felt completely unnecessary. And I WAS unnecessary, really you only needed at most 10 people who knew what they were doing in there, and 20-30 other people just to fill out the raid and do some damage/toss some green numbers out/take a few hits. Yes, I said 20-30, Patronus Veritas often ran with as few as 30 people in a raid, and in fact I think our first Ragnaros downing only had like 36. We wont even DISCUSS the average group size for LootPiniatia. Nowadays, its almost impressive to 9-man Karazhan, or 23-man Gruul, but back in the day, nobody would have even batted an eye.

- Onyxia Attunement: Speaking of the Loot Piniata. . . what a ri-freaking-diculous ordeal her ATTUNEMENT was. It either took a group specifically there to power folks through attunement, or a handful of runs, in Blackrock Depths in order to get attuned. And EVERYBODY had to do it, usually one at a time as people hit 60 (though occasionally someone would get it done on their way past the instance, seeing as how BRD wasn't really a level 60 challenge). Which meant that an active member of my guild could count on going there three, four, six, maybe even a dozen times in any given week to help with attunements (not to mention going back later to farm Lord Incendius for fire resist bracers for Molten Chore). Admittedly, Karazhan Attunement (which, strangely, still exists even though T5 and T6 dungeon attunements have been thrown out) is just as involved, requiring 3-4 instance runs, but at least with Kara its four DIFFERENT instances!

- Crits: Honestly, back in the day, eating crits from mobs didn't bug me a bit. I just told myself that they (and crushing blows) were the price a druid paid for having obscene amounts of health and armor. Looking back, though, I'm so glad I dont have to worry about an unlucky crit spelling my doom any more. Though, at the same time, I wish I didn't now have to worry about actually MAINTAINING immunity so much. Hey, blizzard, how about some leather defense itemization when we get to 80, eh?

- The Plaguelands: Oh, how I hate the plaguelands, even today. Everything out there was either poisonous, diseased, farted out fire, travelled in packs of 30, was elite. . . yeah, good times. And while I think it was one of blizzard's best designed zones in terms of atmosphere, I still hate the place. Even my paladin stayed away from there, only exploring the area in order to level her mining up on the plentiful thorium deposits there. Oh, and to get ganked by the riders, whom I had almost managed to vanquish from my memory.

So, what are YOUR favorite, or least favorite, memories of WoW's past?

Oh, also, since I only got 4 weekday posts up this week, at some point this weekend I hope to make a special post about my tricked out user interface. It seems to be the popular thing to do these days, and I dont want to feel left out! Unfortunately, I have to work on actually finishing it up first, as its still in a pretty crude state.
Continue reading 'Memories of a Bygone Era'

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Stamina is for Warlocks!

Ok, first of all, I feel I should apologize for not posting anything yesterday. While technically I am not bound to any schedule at all, I made it a personal goal to post every weekday. Alas, yesterday I was in a particularly foul mood, and decided it was better to fall short of my goal than subject you to whatever I might have come up with while in that mindset.

Today, I want to talk a bit more about my personal gear philosophy, specifically addressing what I find is a health pool which is much smaller than most tanks. My views on stamina seem to fly in the face of what I see preached on the forums, and even most other bloggers (who I find usually have an IQ higher than 37).

There are four things which I consider key factors on tanking gear, and two secondary items I also try to keep an eye on. In order of dicussions, these are Crit Reduction, Armor, Dodge/Agility, Stamina, Strength, and Hit/Expertise. The first four factors directly affect our ability to take hits, while the last pair are strictly related to our ability to dish out threat.

Crit Reduction: 2.6% crit reduction is ESSENTIAL TO TANKING. I repeat: Crit Immunity Is Not An Option (CIINAO, pronounced See Now). Last week, I saw one druid tank on the forums claiming he has tanked all the fights in the game a druid concievably can (Everything but Reliquary phase 2 and Illidan, if I remember correctly) without maintaining 2.6% crit reduction. And maybe he had. But the fact of the matter is, if you are crittable, you are a liability to the raid. Steady incoming DPS doesn't kill tanks, burst damage does, and crits are about as burst damage as it comes, especially if you get two in a row. You can get away with taking crits in normal 5-man instances. You can even probably get away with it in Karazhan and Heroics (In fact, I know you can, since I tank those in cat gear mostly nowadays). But for progression raiding, you would be sidelined if I knew you didn't have full crit immunity.

Armor: Due to our huge 5.5x modifier, armor is perhaps THE most important tanking stat for a druid. As I have mentioned in the past, it was the driving force behind all of my gear choices until I hit 29k armor (where crit heal armor buffs start first are able to push you to the cap against level 73 mobs, actually about 28,750ish). Even past that, I have valued armor on gear, though I have started to favor high armor gear with agi and stam on it over the higher armor with less stats type gear. As far as I'm concerned, other than that one (minor) turning point, the only diminishing return on armor happens at 35,880.

But why is armor so important? Well, in addition to the fact that we get so much more bang for our buck from it, the reason armor is so awesome is that it is so reliable. Armor reduces the damage of EVERY incoming physical hit, regardless of whether its an auto-attack, crushing blow, cri. . . right, we don't ever get critted, CIINAO and all. . .

Anyhow, armor is a constant, reliable source of mitigation, which leads to a more constant, reliable stream of incoming damage for the healers to deal with. And that makes the healers' jobs easier, as well as making it less likely they need to blow their cooldowns and expensive "Oh, sh**" buttons just to keep your fuzzy butt vertical (er, does it really count as vertical when you're tanking on all-fours? Bah, whatever).

Dodge: Once a bear tank starts wandering into the 30k+ armor club, mitigation upgrades start to show up more as increases to dodge than as increased armor mitigation. This is both a function of the gear we have available to us, and also the fact that there is in place a 75% mitigation crap . . . er, I mean cap, to keep bear tanks from scaling. Dodge is a great thing, since even when you have 75% mitigation, dodging an attack still means you take 100% less damage than you would. Heck, when people were first wandering into Karazhan, there was a vocal section of the druid community preaching "Hit 20k armor, then stack dodge". While that group seems to have died out (I suspect they were re-roll players who thought all tanks should sit at warrior-level armor values, but I digress), the value of dodge is unquestionable, especially since it the value of more dodge actually goes UP the more of it you already have.

There ARE some drawbacks to dodge, however, that are not there when it comes to armor. First of all, if you've ever run an instance a dozen or more times waiting for that one item with a 25% droprate to actually drop, you know how much the Random Number Generator (RNG) sucks. Relying on dodge to keep you alive is like betting your life that the Stranglestaff will drop on your next Kara run. Additionally, the more you dodge, the more likely the hits you DONT dodge are to be crushing blows. Note: I did not say dodge increases the frequency of crushing blows, I am simply pointing out that dodging more makes you take fewer regular hits, but does not reduce the frequency of crushing blows. A bear tank with 0% dodge takes 85% regular hits, 15% crushing blows, while a tank with 85% dodge would take nothing but the 15% of swings that would crush either way.

Because of this, I do not view dodge as a mitigation stat, per se. I instead view dodge as a way to help the healers with mana efficiency. Every time I dodge an attack, the healers have to pump fewer spells into me, and can cancel their casts, saving them the cost of their spell, and possibly even allowing them to enjoy some spirit regen outside of the 5-second rule. Ultimately, though, I imagine that if I never dodged an attack, it would be hard to keep me (or any other tank) standing even if the healers had infinite mana.

Stamina: Stamina, or more generally health pool, is perhaps the most simplistic, most basic tanking stat. The more health you have, the more damage it takes to kill you. Having a large health pool is critical to any tank, to be sure.

So why do I list it last in terms of mitigation? Well, I dont really, it actually has a value similar to that of defense and resilience. That is, if I dont have enough to reach uncrittability (enough stamina to survive long enough for the healers to get me back up), I need to do everything in my power to get enough, but if I DO already have enough crit reduction (stamina), stacking more is pointless. Yes, thats right, all those people who are constantly saying "Stick 12 stamina gems in ALL of your sockets, and enchant all of your gear with stamina enchants" are neglecting the simple fact that there is, in fact, such a thing as enough stamina. Sure, it never hurts to have more than you need, but frankly, if you never drop below 30% health, the truth is at least 1/5 of your health pool is superfluous, and you would do better pulling out some of those 12 stamina gems in favor of, say, 8 agility for some extra dodge, since stamina does NOTHING for your mitigation, it is merely a health buffer. As an added bonus, that extra agility will also make it less likely for your health to drop down as fast, so you may not even see yourself dipping lower!

That having been said, my unbuffed health pool currently sits between 13,600 and 14,400 health, depending on whether I'm using my pocketwatch or my Darkmoon card (which I tend to wear for tanking 25-man content). This is considerably smaller than what many tanks of my gear level run with, but I find that it is basically all I need. For the most part, I use agility gems in my gear instead of stamina gems, for two reasons. First, I have enough stamina (though I'm working on scrounging up a bit more at the moment, as I do seem to be drifting close to empty on the health bar more often than I like lately), and second, agility is a universal stat, used for both tanking and DPS. Not only does socketing agility let me NOT gimp my dual-use gear in terms of DPS, but it also lets me better fill the most common druid tanking role, that of an offtank who can DPS when not needed for tanking (add tank on Lurker, shaman tank on Maulgar, etcetera).

Strength: Honestly, I dont even pay attention to strength when it comes to my tanking gear. It IS an important tanking stat, giving us the attack power needed to generate threat, but pretty much any high-armor leather (that is, druid tanking gear) already has a bunch of strength on it, if only because that gear is hybrid cat/bear stuff. Dont ever add more strength to your gear, its not worth it (this goes for cat gear too, agility is always the better bet unless you cant get it on a particular piece).

Hit: Unlike Strength, hit is something that I actually actively factor into gearing choices, on the rare occasions I actually find a tanking piece with any on it. While also purely there for threat generation purposes (unless you stretch a bit and consider Idol of Terror needing Mangles to hit for it to proc), hitting reliably can be especially important in a couple of situations.

First of all, as of 2.3, hit rating affects warrior and druid taunts. And while not every fight is conducive to taunting, it is very bad news if your taunt resists at critical times (Such as Nalorakk transitions). Secondly, hitting is CRUCIAL when first engaging a mob. If your first 2-3 attacks all miss, you had better hope that the mob missed too, or your healers are likely to get a surprise when that first green number flies overhead. And even if you dont get hit either, its likely in that situation that your DPS is going to lay into the boss before you get a decent amount of threat, and they're going to eat the dust. Often times, this situation can be avoided by having hunters misdirect to the tank, but sometimes that just isn't an option, at least not for all tanks involved (trash pulls, Hydross transitions, High King Maulgar).

And if you're fortunate enough to be able to fit some expertise rating into your tanking gear, you dont just benefit by hitting more often. Expertise has the unique advantage of reducing a mob's chance to parry your attacks. And as you all (should) know, whenever a mob or player parrys an attack, their next autoattack comes SOONER. I have seen WWS reports before of a tank geting absolutely torn to shreds on Gruul when the melee DPS, cut off from Gruul's backside by a badly placed Cave-in, moved to the front arc where parrys occur, and Gruul getting something like 8 parrys in short order from all of those dual-wielders, each. Trust me, parrying attacks can be an INCREDIBLE boost to DPS, take that from someone who now has a prot pally who delights in fighting half a dozen mobs at a time.

So, to summarize: CIINAO, armor is a bear's best friend, Dodge helps healers conserve mana, it is possible to have enough stamina without fully socketing/enchanting for it, strength can be safely ignored given current itemization, and hit, while a secondary concern, can nonetheless be a big help if you can get it on tanking gear.
Continue reading 'Stamina is for Warlocks!'

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Respecs: Bad for (the Raiding) Business

Respeccing is a fact of life in WoW. There are very few people who have not, at one time or another, gone to our class trainer and clicked that unlearn talents button, paid our money, and seen our spec return to whence it came. At the very least, most people have spent a gold on fixing some misclicks made while levelling, or to switch from their levelling spec to an endgame spec of choice. In this respect, the respec is a valuable tool to all players. But there is a price to pay for the infinite availability of respecs (aside from gold; Lets face it, 50 gold is chump change in Outland), and that price is paid most heavily by the raiding guilds.

Now, to be fair, there are some great advantages to be reaped, even by the raiding guilds. Respecs allow raiders to switch from a grinding-oriented DPS spec into a more raid-focussed one, by dropping raid-unworthy talents like Spirit Tap, Wand Specialization, or Improved Voidwalker, to pick up more raid-focused talents (well, ok, Spirit Tap is a bad example, as the only other alternative is actually even LESS useful in raids, generally speaking). It also allows healers and tanks to use a DPS spec to level, and then switch to healing/tanking once they hit the level cap (At least warrior tanks, Prot pallys and feral druids are great at levelling).

It also allows for flexibility when a particular character encounters a fight for which their spec of choice might be a disadvantage. Warlocks, for example, might choose to spec affliction when learning the Gruul encounter to improve their DPS on such a high mobility fight. On hydross, however, they may decide to spec full-on destruction due to the problems that any form of damage over time can cause on transitions. And when you get to Leotheras? Better have someone specced SL/SL to tank demon form!

However, especially early on in Prophecy's raiding, respecs tended to be more of a curse than a blessing. Our number one problem, which has thankfully become less so as time goes on, has been healers respeccing to DPS roles. Oh, sure, it usually starts out as a "oh, just let me go feral this week, I'll switch back next time", or "I just want to see how I do on the meters as Ret". But for a long time, it seemed like any time any of our healers got a taste of damage-dealing, they were lost to it forever. Strangely, we never had that problem with tanks, but that may just be a part of the masochistic mindset we have.

Even DPSers respeccing, though, can be problematic. First of all, even when switching from one DPS spec to another, a character's gear will generally be subpar for their new playstyle. An affliction warlock's gear doesn't have the crit required to make Destruction really pay off, and a beast master hunter wont have NEARLY the agility of an equivalently geared survival hunter. But, even if a player has gone through the effort ahead of time to collect appropriate gear for their new spec, they aren't going to be on top of their game until they get used to the new spec. The affliction->destruction warlock is likely to pull threat more often due to his newfound burst threat from his shadowbolts, and that BM hunter is going to have to get used to a more involved shot rotation, for example.

Possibly the biggest hassle, however, isn't something the individual player has to deal with, but instead goes up the chain of command to the person in charge of filling the guild's roster. You cant just take 3 of each class blindly from a guild and call that a raid, you have to look at each person's chosen role, both the holy trinity positions of Healer/Tank/DPS, and the more specific benefits any particular spec brings to a raid. That hunter from before might have the gear, and the skill, to play a successful survivalist, but if the guild is already bringing two SV hunters to every raid, and he was the only person able to give the physical DPS group Ferocious Inspiration, it doesn't matter if he is the best survival hunter in the world, he is gimping the raid.

Personally, I have offered on many occasions to respec to full restoration to help the guild when we've been short on healers. And on all but one occasion, I've been turned down, or made to respec back to feral after one raid. The biggest reason my guild is so reluctant to let me heal is that they've come to rely on me as one of the most reliable tanks they have. By respeccing to heal, even though I have solid (though not optimized for resto spec) healing gear and a decent (if somewhat rusty) knowledge of the role, I would be leaving a hole in the guild's roster that is hard, if not impossible, to fill.

So remember, next time you're thinking about a major respec to your raiding characters: Its not just about your personal performance in raids, but about how well your unique skill set works with the rest of your raid. 25 FotM characters does not generally lead to a balanced, functional raid group.
Continue reading 'Respecs: Bad for (the Raiding) Business'

Monday, February 11, 2008

Badge Reward Epics: Do Not Want!

So, information is starting to come out regarding the 2.4 patch. We already knew about the new 5- and 25-man instances we were getting. We had heard there was going to be a new legendary bow (Seriously though, blizzard, whats with the utter lack of legendaries in Outland?). And now, the floodgates are opening, and we're getting all sorts of information on specifics, Sunwell opening quests, class changes, 8-piece extensions on T6, Tier 6 quality badge rewards. . .

T6 badge rewards? Pardon me while I die a little inside. . . thats just not right.

Now, first off, let me get one thing out in the open here. I could care less about what Joe Schmoe of Kokomo has for gear. People used to get all upset because they couldn't get epics in what has come to be called Vanilla WoW without either raiding with 39 of their closest friends, or PvPing for 30 hours a day to climb the ladder. Blizzard listened, and gave more casual players avenues for acquiring epic gear: heroic instances, badge rewards, crafted epics, a completely revamped PvP point system, and arena. Lets face it, in the Outland, purple is the new blue. But whatever, color is color.

Fast forward to 2.3. Among the changes to the game are new badge rewards, equivalent to the gear that drops in The Eye and Serpentshrine Cavern. Honestly, I probably would have had the same issue with this that I do with the upcoming badge rewards, being much higher quality (T5) than what the content one runs to get it would dictate (Karazhan and Heroic Instances). At the time, though, I was distracted by the fact that two pieces of new badge gear would effectively "plug" two gaping holes in feral tank itemization: Bracers and Idol.

So, what do I care, anyhow? I already said I dont care what other people are wearing, and this new gear doesn't hurt anybody in any way, only gives us new opportunities. Well, first of all, I consider each piece of my gear to be a mark of accomplishment. I wear my T4 Helm with pride, knowing that I earned it by being there for my guild's first ever Prince Malchezaar kill. A'dal's Signet of Defense sits proudly on my finger as a testament to my guild's first slaying of the pit lord Magtheridon, shutting down the source of the Fel Orc menace. My Waistguard of the Great Beast, on the other hand, is simply evidence that I found the time to farm Karazhan for badges for a few weeks. Whoopy doo.

Which brings me to my second reason: expectation. I know that right now, my gear is in great shape for tanking. In fact, other than my T4 chest (which I may never get to see, since I've only been able to attend that one Mags raid due to my schedule), I really dont have any upgrades to look forward to in the forseeable future. So you would think that I'd love to have new gear to work toward in 2.4, right? Wrong. Guess what, its NOT about the gear for me, thats not why I raid. I raid because I love the CHALLENGE of it, not the purple color of my gear text (which, as I already noted, can be gotten by pretty much anybody nowadays). Farming heroics and Karazhan for badges of justice is NOT a challenge to me, and it frankly pisses me off that I now will be expected to continue farming these places to replace my hard earned raid drops with better pieces that even somebody who can only run Heroic Slave Pens and Underbog can get.

Ok, so maybe I DO care about what other people are wearing, just a little bit *shrug*

Third, lets look at an interesting fact: casual content (Which I define as 5-man instances and Karazhan) can be done just fine with casual gear (Which I define as anything that does not come from a raid instance, raid reputation reward, or badge reward other than those TBC released with). The only people that need T5 and T6 quality items are guilds DOING T5 and T6 difficulty content. Quite frankly, having high-quality gear takes all the challenge out of the casual content anyhow. I tank most heroic runs and much of Karazhan in my kitty DPS gear just to make them go faster, for God's sake, I dont need full T6 to run Heroic Underbog! If people are having a hard time doing content without uber gear, thats GREAT, that gives them a challenge, something to work toward. Kind of like how raiders have to work hard to down new bosses, fancy that! And if they really, truly, want to do the equivalent of cheating by acquiring gear beyond what the instance was designed around, go ahead and farm honor/arena points and buy PvP rewards (My disgust for the fact that I should also force myself to do arena since my S3 gear is worlds better than my current raiding epics is another topic altogether.

I've heard some people put forward the thought that this gear can allow people to "catch up" to guilds raiding higher end content. And to a degree, they're right. A person will be able to farm badges and get T5/T6 quality gear to catch up with those who have loot from SSC/TK/Hyjal/BT. There are two problems with this line of thinking, though, which can be summed up in one of my very abbreviated philosophies: Skill > Spec >> Gear. Sure, you can get BT quality gear from badges, but when you really look closely at the difference between T4 and T6 gear, the difference isn't THAT great. A person in full Karazhan and Heroic gear isn't going to be topping the charts on Illidan, but I bet that if they had a decent amount of skill to back up that gear, they would make at least a respectable showing.

And more importantly, even if a level 70 could farm heroics for a full set of BT quality epics, I gurantee you that person, unless they have another raiding character of the same class and spec, is going to be extremely lacking in the skills you need for high end raiding. Whether you realize it or not, you learn valuable raiding skills while killing off Curator's sparks, clicking on Magtheridon's cubes, and dodging Void Reaver's balls *chortle*. Guilds dont take weeks learning a new boss because they're waiting to get enough gear upgrades, they take weeks because they need to learn the ins and outs of the fight, develop strategies, hone reflexes, and generally get better at the game.

If I had to sum up why I dont like the idea of T6 badge rewards in one short sentence, it would be this: Putting high-end raid quality rewards in G'erasMart helps least those who need the items the most, and helps most those who dont even need the items.
Continue reading 'Badge Reward Epics: Do Not Want!'

© 2008 The Rambling Bear. All Rights Reserved.

World of Warcraft™ and Blizzard Entertainment® are all trademarks or registered trademarks of Blizzard Entertainment in the United States and/or other countries. These terms and all related materials, logos, and images are copyright © Blizzard Entertainment. This site is in no way associated with Blizzard Entertainment®