Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Next Engineering Mount

So, for those who haven't heard, the latest beta push has introduced a long-awaited schematic for our engineering friends -- Motorcycles. And from the looks of this screenshot (which I'm borrowing from WoW Insider, as I don't have beta access myself), it's going to be a pretty sweet ride. I had been considering dropping engineering on Kibler for some other profession, but now I'm pretty sure I want to stick with engineering so I can ride a Hog (Which begs the question of why hunters can't use their pet hog as a mount, but I digress).

Something is missing, though. Motorcycles and Choppers are great and all, but while we now have no wheels and two wheels covered, it seems to me engineers need a four-wheeled mount. And with the new mechanic of taking riders, it seems to me the perfect addition to the engineer's reportoire would be a taxi cab!

I don't think the cab should work like other mounts. For one, I don't think it should go in your mount spellbook like other mounts will, especially since that gives engineers an unfair advantage when it comes to getting the mount-based achievements coming with the expansion. Instead, I think making the cab should culminate with a soulbound whistle that goes in your inventory.

Now, most mounts just kind of appear when you summon them. Not so with the engineer's taxi. When you whistle for your cab, your character should literally put two fingers up to their mouth and whistle for a couple seconds, after which the cab drives up from off-screen. Of course, the animation would need to only be visible to the person summoning it, or else other people would see cars randomly materializing on their heads, but I think that a custom summoning animation would be damn cool.

If you look at the picture above of the motorcycle, you can see that the license plate says "Pwn". A nice touch, to be sure, but I'm not so fond of just taking some random phrase out of gaming culture. Instead, I want to have a license plate that says something about the mount. I'm not 100% decided on what that should be just yet, but as this is a fresh new idea, how about "FRESH", at least for now.

I'd also like to steal an idea from the epic chopper. As I'm sure most of you know, one of the parts required for an engineer to make their epic flyer is a hula girl doll purchased from Griftah in Shattrath. And if you look at the actual mount, sure enough, there's a hula girl on the control panel. Now, a bobblehead doll would work for the cab, too, but I don't want to steal something quite that directly. So what else do you think of when you think of car ornaments? An air freshener would work, but frankly, this is a taxi cab, it's supposed to smell bad. What else? Why, Fuzzy Dice of course! A pair of dice hanging from the rear view mirror would be perfect! And as with the hula girl statue, you'd have to buy a couple to make the car. I'm thinking you could buy them from the guard at the cage in Gadgetzan, with the backstory that he's a compulsive gambler, and has been betting on dice and cage matches for years.

Oh, one other thing. I want to let even low-level characters build a taxi. I think it would be thematically appropriate, a low level character driving around in a taxi, just trying to make enough from tips to save up for the gear he needs to become a true adventurer at 80. Thus, I don't think this should be an epic mount. Frankly, I think the epic quality car should be some sexy sports car. So the cab will be a rare mount, only.

Whoops, I almost forgot to put the cut in today's entry . . . continued after the break.

So, to recap:

You whistle for your cab, and when it comes near
The license plate says "FRESH" and has a dice in the mirror.
If anything, I would say that this cab is rare.
On second thought, nah, forget it. Yo homes, you've been Bel-Air'd!

Continue reading 'The Next Engineering Mount'

Monday, September 15, 2008

Election '08 -- Meet the Contenders

No, I'm not going political on you guys. I'm not talking about THAT election '08, but something much, much more important. Ok, ok, so it's not really more important, but it's nonetheless a big decision I've been struggling with: Which toon to make my main in Wrath.

As someone with 6 level 70 toons (and a shadow priest that may or may not get there as well), I have plenty of options. Some are mainstream candidates. Others, just third party options that are about as likely to make the cut as Nader. But in the spirit of fairness and disclosure, lets meet all of the candidates.

The Incumbents: It's really hard to decide which one is the true incumbent. One was my main throughout most of TBC progression, as well as during vanilla WoW. The other is technically my main at the moment, but hasn't really done much while in office.

Surania (Druid, Feral): The namesake of this blog, and my longtime favorite. With Surania, I would return fulltime to the tanking scene, and that is a situation the polls say voters (IE: Me and, to a lesser extent, my guild) want to see happen. While Surania at one time seemed to have this election in the bag, recent concerns regarding her ability to tank in Northrend have muddied the waters. Resolution of that problem, alone, could settle this race once and for all!

Kirari (Warlock, Affliction): While he currently holds the title of main, his support has been slipping lately. While he represents the largest constituency out there, the DPS party, the voters tend to want somebody from outside the mainstream. He's not giving up without a fight, though. Over the past months, he's come out with a solid platform of change for the affliction spec, including DoTs that crit, Shadowbolts that. . . can crit, and a very promising, albeit dead, running mate.

The Challengers: While it's most probable that either Kirari or Surania will be taking top billing on my WotLK play ticket, there are some challengers waiting in the wings that still have a chance.

Jasminne (Paladin, Protection): She's not currently a resident of the United Toons of Prophecy, but this gal from The Ugly Future is still eligible. While it would be hard for her to uproot from her kobold family to return to Prophecy, she would not have a problem being accepted there, as she has already performed some threat-keeping missions there. Her biggest strengths are her ability to go head-to-head with Surania as a tank, and her ability to dress appropriately (We hear Surania plans to wear DPS leather, a rather brazen move). She would have the stigma of being an apparent guild flip-flopper to contend with, though, as she would leave TUF in a bit of a bind.

Kibler (Hunter, Survival): A surprise contender in the race, Kibler has started to hint at possibly throwing her hat into the election ring as well. Another member of the DPS party, she has an ace up her sleeve to differentiate her from Kirari: Some of her cabinet members are tanks! Being such a forward thinking bipartisan is a huge plus in today's election, as Polls show that the voter (singular) is very attracted to the tank side of the aisle, but at the same time knows that there's really very limited room for the tanks in WoW Raiding, with only one or two in your average 25-man quorum.

The Green Party: Don't get me wrong, I do like my mage and shaman, but I just don't see them as main-toon material. Even if I wanted to play Chalith as a main, he is currently the leader of the First Bank of Dave, a hard position to give up, especially when it affords you the title of <Grand Magus>. As for Kornaq. . . well, lets face it, resto shamans just aren't doing well in the post-Wrath debates, and Kornaq is the least experienced of them all, to boot.

So, that's the current field of eligible 70s, in a nutshell. And as much as I'd love to enfranchise my readership, I suspect that you all would be a tad biased toward a certain four-footed fleabag (Four Footed Fleabag. . . that sounds like a great Blog Title!).

Oh well, at least if I make the wrong choice, I'm not stuck with it for another four to eight years, eh?
Continue reading 'Election '08 -- Meet the Contenders'

Monday, September 8, 2008

It's Raining. I Swear!

So, while I'm not sure I'm ready to commit to blogging on a regular basis again, I really feel inspired to write at the moment. Lately, I've been feeling the urge to return to my furry roots when we start moving into Northrend (Which means The Rambling Bear will likely REMAIN The Rambling Bear, not the Rambling 'Lock or some such). However, I've also been keeping a close eye on WotLK developments, and the current feral druid situation in the beta has me very, very worried. After reading today's installment of the Big Bear Butt (from which today's title comes, by the way), I've come to the point where I have to speak my mind.

Now, before I start my ramblings, let me make one huge disclaimer. I am not in the beta. Nor am I a psychic. And I realize that feral druids are still due a major second pass by the development team. I know that what is currently on beta is not what will be going live. But I also remember what it was like to be a horribly underpowered spec that people laughed at.

The reports I've been hearing from the Beta are bleak. The most poingant of them comes from a guildmate of mine who plays a healer, and has been in Naxx10 with a variety of tanks. In short, Warriors and Paladins are rock solid, and a breeze to heal. Death Knights are a bit squishy, but their self healing abilities help to mitigate some of that. But bears are about as resilient as a wet sponge, and are a huge pain in the ass to keep alive.

This doesn't surprise me, though. Blizzard has taken away bears' one true claim to fame: our huge amounts of armor. In fact, they've stopped itemizing for feral druids altogether, we now have to wear rogue gear. I read somewhere that a bear in the best set of level 80 blue gear has somewhere around 29k armor. Meanwhile, my T4 geared arse sports 33.5k. On top of that, we no longer get an extremely high Agi->Dodge ratio.

"But Surania, look at all the awesome tanking talents we're getting to make up for that!".

Ok, lets look at those amazing new tanking talents:

We get another 6% "baked in" dodge for three talent points. Adding that to the 4% we already had, that gives us a total of 10% avoidance from talents. Guess what, folks, Warriors and Paladins get that, too, though half of theirs is parry. Our only advantage here is that we only spend 5 talent points, and they spend 10.

We get 12% across-the-board mitigation for three talent points. Warriors have this, more or less, as a base ability. Theirs (Defensive Stance) is only 10% mitigation, but they get a talent that boosts their spell mitigation to 16% (And judging from what Magisters' Terrace looks like, I expect to see more and more spell damage getting flung around in the expansion). Also, we can lose this mitigation during fights, while warriors can not. I don't know if you still get the full bonus if a party member dies, but I imagine it starts dropping if one of your allies gets mind controlled, and wouldn't be surprised if you suddenly lose some mitigation if a raid member loses connection suddenly during a fight.

We get an emergency button on a 5-minute cooldown for our 51-point talent. Last stand, to be exact. It's actually a bit stronger than the warrior ability, in that it has a shorter cooldown (8 minutes for warriors). And it also boosts our ability to generate threat while active, which is a nice side effect for sure. But I'm not worried about threat, really, I'm worried about survival. So great, we get last stand. As a sidenote, Paladins are getting a shield wall of sorts, themselves, in a re-tooled Divine Protection which only reduces damage taken by half, but does not drop aggro any more, and is on a much, much shorter cooldown than shield wall. And it also stacks very nicely with Ardent Defender, since SW tends to get popped when low on health to begin with.

We get crushing blow immunity. As do all tanks. The mechanic has been changed to only happen when mobs are 4+ levels above you. We also retain our crit immunity, as SotF has had its effect doubled.

We do still get a bit more armor than our plate brethren. The figure I've read (which I don't have a link to at the moment) seems to indicate bears will have about 6k more armor than plate wearers, 28k armor to 22k armor. Nothing to sneeze at, certainly, but it's nowhere near what we have now. Oh, and we still seem to have slightly more health, too, an extra 10% or so.

So, we're looking like plate tanks with extra armor, right? Well, kind of, except our one advantage (~6k more armor, and a slight health advantage) is offset by lots of things we DON'T have:

We don't get a block mechanic. Sure, blocking is no longer as critical as it once was, since bosses will no longer crush tanks, but at the same time, blocking has been seriously buffed via a revamped strength->block value formula. I haven't seen any numbers as far as how much a level 80, geared warrior or paladin blocks for, but I imagine it's probably breaking 4-digits per block. That, alone, will likely make up for our armor advantage.

We don't get parry. This alone wouldn't be a problem, but since they're also taking away druids' favorable agi->dodge conversion, and not giving us bear tank gear with +dodge or even +defense on it, our ability to avoid attacks is far lower than our plate brethren.

We don't get as many "Oh, shit" buttons as warriors. I'm not saying we should, but the fact is they get both shield wall and last stand, while we only get the latter.

So, basically, we get to be more-or-less on par with plate wearers as far as mitigating each hit goes, but we also are getting hit a lot more often. I have a solution, though, and it would, I think, both be thematically appropriate (as bear fur really shouldn't be harder to penetrate than iron plates) and a fair tradeoff.

Make Nurturing Instinct apply to all forms. I really think it's as simple as that. We get hit, say, 30% more often than plate tanks, but it's 20% easier to heal us back up from those hits. Combined with our health pool advantage, I think this simple change would make bear tanks able to compete with warriors and paladins, but without overshadowing them. We'd retain a bit of our flavor, as we'd be slightly less resistant to death by spike damage (due to the health pool), but would take a bit more mana to keep up under normal circumstances.

Think about it, Blizzard. The best solution to a problem is often the simplest, after all. Continue reading 'It's Raining. I Swear!'

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