Saturday, October 18, 2008

Patch 3.0.3 - Build 9095

The beta servers have gotten a new build.

Talent/Ability changes:
* Earth and Moon changed from 5 to 3 ranks and now increases spell damage taken by 4/9/13% for 12 seconds and increases your spell damage by 1/2/3%. (Old - Increased Arcane/Fire/Frost/Nature/Shadow damage by 3/5/8%)
* Eclipse now increases damage done by Wrath by 20% (up from 10%) and has a chance of increasing your critical strike chance with Starfire by 30%. (Up from 15%)
* Moonfury changed from 5 to 3 ranks. Now increases damage done by Starfire, Moonfire, and Wrath by 3/6/10%. (Old - 2/4/6/8/10%)

* Predatory Instincts doesn't work with Bear and Dire Bear form anymore.
* Growl cooldown has been changed to 8 seconds. (Down from 10 seconds)

* Improved Tree of Life now increases your armor contribution from items by 33/66/100%. (Old - Increased your total armor)

As promised, balance got some bloat reduction, which makes creating a useful build much easier (e.g. 60/0/11)
Also, the changes to Eclipse make it even more interesting. Throwing in one or two Wraths every now and then to increase Starfire crit chance by 30% should make for an interesting rotation.
The change to bonus armor in ToL is a slight nerf, but brings it in line with the way it works for other forms.

The reduced Growl CD is something we wanted for a long time. It makes fights where you got to have several tanks taunting a bit easier to organize (although the last fight where the CD was a problem in that regard was in BWL). The Predatory Instincts change has been coming a long time. Actually I had the impression that this was already on live, and they only had to change the tooltip.

These changes have all been expected, no surprises there. But there are some changes to Glyphs.

* Glyph of Wrath - Reduces the pushback suffered from damaging attacks while casting your Wrath spell by 50%. (Old - Increases the chance you'll resist spell interruption when casting your Wrath spell by 50%.)
* Glyph of Innervate - Your Innervate spell now grants you full mana regeneration while casting for 20 sec, in addition to the effect on the primary target. Innervate's effect is instead increased by 20% if you are the primary target. (Old - Your innervate ability now has an additional 20% strength mana regeneration effect on you, in addition to the effect on your primary target.)
* Glyph of Starfire - Your Starfire ability increases the duration of your Moonfire effect on the target by 3 sec, up to a maximum of 9 additional seconds. (Old - Didn't have the 9 seconds limit)

The change to the Innervate Glyph is a nice buff which makes it a bit more advantageous to use it on others - although I am not sure whether that will happen often enough that it warrants using this Glyph. 90% of the time you use it on yourself, and an extra 20%... I don't know if that is good enough to pass on other, more important Glyphs.
The Glyph of Starfire got a pretty big nerf. Some have been excited about the old version of it, and now it got limited to 9 seconds extension. Still, together with Nature's Splendor it reduces your mana expenditure quite a bit.
The new Glyph of Wrath makes more sense - now you can only get pushed back by 0.25 seconds per hit (and only two times at that). Only half a second pushback no matter how often you get hit is pretty nice.

Not many changes, no big surprises.

From my side, there is a big theorycrafting post incoming. Should be done tomorrow or Monday.

Monday, October 13, 2008

All These Talents - So Few Points

Patch 3.0.2 is upon us. All talent points will be reset, so how to spend them, with all the new talents available to us?

So I took it upon myself to throw together some exemplary builds for level 70.


As before I think it will be best to just skip the Healing Touch focused talents, in order to maximize our HoT potential. Also I went for the 11 point talent in the balance tree instead of going for Wild Growth. While being nice and something I'll definitely pick up when I am 80, right now it is not as strong as Nature's Splendor.

If you really want to have Wild Growth, try this build: 8/0/53


This build focuses on raid DPS. As you can see it doesn't take any of the new shiny tools - while they are nice, for most situations you just don't need them. It also includes Omen of Clarity, which now procs off spells as well.


This is a tanking build. Although Berserk would be nice, Omen of Clarity is more important for threat generation. The two points in Shredding Attacks and the three in Infected Wounds could be moved to other talents, if so preferred.

This is a PvP build. It doesn't take Omen of Clarity in favor of Berserk, as Omen of Clarity only procs of white damage and the burst factor Berserk gives you is more important in PvP. You could take three points out of the feral tree and put them in Nature's Focus, so that you get some interrupt protection on your heals and CCs.

This is a PvE DPS build. It goes for everything related to DPS as well as some utility. Should you have enough expertise and hit you could free two points from Primal Precision. Also you could take the 5 points from Feral Aggression and put them into Feral Instinct and/or Thick Hide.

These builds are no absolutes - I haven't done the theorycrafting on several abilities yet. Also, they are no builds for leveling to 80; they are for 70 endgame play.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Two Specs - Too Many Choices

At this weekend's Blizzcon it was once again announced that we will get a dual-spec feature.

We've heard about it before:
We most surely are working on some plans to allow players to switch between specs, but the details are sill being discussed internally.

Just wanted to add that it is most likely that we will see this added to the game in a patch after the release of WotLK :-)

Now we have gotten some extra details:
The dual-spec system will interface with the UI.
* Action bars will flip when you switch your spec so you don't have to re-do all your keys.
* It will likely also tie into Glyphs so you don't have to re-do Glyphs whenever you switch specs.

The goal is to let you switch specs very easily in raid, even between fights ! However it won't be possible to switch specs in the middle of an arena match.

They have also stated that switching during combat will be prohibited as well. How they will deal with classes that can leave combat at will I do not know, but some sort of hidden debuff after leaving combat would come to mind - maybe something around one minute.

All this is pretty great, and definitely at the better end of what I was expecting. Judging from the "switch specs very easily in raid" I would assume that there will be no or only a short CD on the ability. If the CD were too long, one would be stuck with the wrong spec - which I would not fit the description IMO.

So with all this information at hand, we can start to think about which two specs we will be taking. Let's have a look at the options.

- PvE Raid
- PvE Solo/Farming
- PvP

- PvE Tank
- PvP

- PvE
- PvP

- PvP Feral/Resto (NS, or even Swiftmend)
- PvP Balance/Resto (fun things like Moonkin Form and Swiftmend at the same time)

And those are just what I came up from the top of my head. There are so many druid builds possible with 71 talents points, I couldn't list them all.

Basically I see two ways of using our new dual-spec goodness. First, taking two different trees, for example Feral and Resto. That way you can be Feral, but switch to Resto if your guild needs a healer. Or you can be Balance and switch to Feral in order to off-tank.
The second way would be to take two builds within the same tree. One for PvP, the other for PvE, or one for raids and the other for solo-play.

With Abies I will probably go for a combination of tanking and Feral PvP. A PvP build will still do decent cat DPS, and my role in raids will be the one of main tank anyways.
Nocturna will be some combination of full Resto and a Balance build - maybe a Balance/Resto hybrid. I don't PvP much with her (don't like caster PvP), which means I can focus on PvE builds.

What will you choose?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Druids Grove

It just came to me that some of you might not know about it.

The Druids Grove is the best forum for druids out there. If you are a druid you should really check it out.

It has the most helpful and nice community I've ever seen, ranging from really experienced players to completely new guys who are not even 70 yet. If you need any help with playing your druid, you will find it there. It is also a nice place to hang out :)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Who needs other classes?

Some of my best in-game memories stem from all-druid runs. For example, a few weeks long I had a fixed group for running Slave Pens Heroic. One resto, one balance and three ferals, meeting up around 2300 every night for a quick stealth run. In Slave Pens you only have to kill 3-4 groups of mobs in order to get to all bosses.
Or, back in the days of patch 1.9, killing Onyxia. Well not actually killing her, but hell, did we try. Mainly we failed because we were only 25-30 people, but we came close a few times. And remember, this was in a time where ferals were a joke and boomkins were brand new.

Please feel free to share some of your anecdotes regarding druid-only runs in the comments.

So how will this fine tradition continue during WotLK?
My guess: Better than ever.

1) We are officially considered main tanks
During BC they only planned for druids to be OTs - yet we were able to tank almost anything pretty successfully. With the new system where no encounter will need a certain tanking class (e.g. a warrior), nothing should stand in the way of doing all bosses with druids only.
All our new emergency buttons will make it even easier.

2) We can do "viable" DPS
Balance and feral druids will dish out as much damage as other classes can - and with the effect of raid stacking being reduced, we will not miss the other buffs as much. This might even be the biggest factor acting in our favor come WotLK.

3) We have good AoE damage
The new spells in the balance tree in combination with the removal of the Hurricane CD will enable us to deal with AoE pulls much better.
Also the new, unlimited Swipe and Berserk make ferals capable of dealing some AoE damage.

4) We finally have good indoors CC
With Entangling Roots being available indoors now, we can reliably CC any mob we encounter. Of course its use is limited against ranged enemies (casters, hunters, healers). Clever use of LoS and having a lot of OT-capable players (all ferals and maybe even some boomkins) should alleviate that. Not to forget Hibernate.
Also, we have many interrupts at our disposal: Bash, Maim, Feral Charge, Cyclone

5) We can heal. A lot.
Resto druids have always been one of the best healing classes out there, and that will hopefully continue with WotLK. Wild Growth gives us a nice new tool to fill a niche we traditionally had some troubles with, and Nourish should help in some situations also.
With the new spellpower system boomkins should be able to heal pretty well while in DPS gear as well, making them an excellent emergency healer. And of course having 5 Tranquilities per group is pretty useful in many situations.

6) We still have all the great utility/adaptability
Everyone has a battle rezz, a normal rezz, an Innervate, a Tranquility, can off-tank, can heal, can stealth, can CC, can interrupt and can DPS. 'Nuff said.

The only possible showstoppers are the following missing ablities:
- Ability to dispel magic and disease
- Offensive dispel
- Mind Control (might be an issue in Naxx)

Those may make some instances/raids harder, and might make some impossible to finish. But Blizzard has stated that they don't want anything to depend on certain classes any more; so my guess would be that we can do almost everything without other classes.
It will be harder in some cases, but that only makes it more fun ^_^

So, what do you think? Will we have an easier time mounting all-druid raids?

Saturday, October 4, 2008


Yeah, what we've been expecting has happened. We got a tanking nerf.

From the build 9038 changelog (off of MMO-Champion):
* Predatory instinct now reduces the damage taken from area of effect attacks by 10/20/30%. (Up from 5/10/15%)
* Dire Bear Form armor contribution from items has been lowered from 400% to 370%
* Moonkin Form - Armor Contribution from items has been lowered from 400% to 370%

Let's have a look at the bonus armor reduction first. We ignore base armor for the moment (doesn't scale anyways).
Given that, how much armor do we lose?
w/o Thick Hide54.794%
with Thick Hide5.55.1794%

This means it comes to around 6% less armor in bear/moonkin form. Could have been worse.

Next, Predatory Instincts. It looks like a buff, until you read the clarification made by Ghostcrawler:

"Predatory Instincts is a huge nerf. You just haven't seen it yet. It only works in cat form."

Damn. I hope she means the AoE damage reduction only, because losing the crit bonus would hurt our TPS and rage generation.

How much would DPS contribution from crits change?

Old: 0.67 + (0.33 * 2.2) = 1.4
New: 0.67 + (0.33 * 2) = 1.33

That comes to a DPS loss of 5% - which translates to a similar TPS loss (not exactly, but close enough).

But at least we get a few positive thing out of it:
* Growl range has been increased from 5 yards to 20 yards
* Wild Growth healing value has been greatly increased. (Up from 350 to 686 for Rank 1, 469 to 861 for Rank 2, 805 to 1239 for Rank 3, 1085 to 1442 for Rank 4)

Making Growl go farther is really useful. Think of encounters like Al'ar, and how difficult it was to catch the two adds. In such a circumstance ranged taunts come in handy. Warriors got the same, btw.

The change to Wild Growth seems to make it more useful again (some numbers). They also reduced the mana cost of Nourish.

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Great Indoors

Do you know that feeling? Limited. Slow. Somewhat incomplete. The feeling we have when we venture into the dark? Like you are missing an important part of yourself?
I always had that feeling when going someplace which is indoors. Somehow it just doesn't feel right. I am a druid. I love the outdoors.

Especially because I am faster and can root things :)

With the upcoming changes that 3.0 brings we will lose most limitations brought unto us from being inside. So what will we gain from that newfound freedom?

We're faster (well, at least us ferals)
Feral Swiftness gives us 30% more speed. This allows us to move through instances faster than anyone else. Especially when you combine it with a speed enchant on your boots.

So what good is it, you ask? In combination with our brand-new Revive, after a wipe in an instance a Night Elf druid will now be able to recover from a wipe faster than anyone else. Yes, that means you will most likely be the only one running, while the others go for a quick smoke. But I don't mind, if it saves a few minutes - for example if you wipe in Karazhan on Shade of Aran.

In PvP it is moderately useful, as BGs (mostly) and all arenas are outdoors anyway. Only in WSG it really shines; being faster inside a base can make a big difference, especially when carrying a flag - or chasing the flag carrier. Suddenly that tunnel doesn't seem so long anymore. Well, at least when that devious pally hasn't thrown a Judgment of Justice on you.

We can root stuff
I almost afraid to mention it, because someone at Blizzard could read it and realize what they have done. Druids are now the only class with two true CCs in PvE. We can Hibernate and Root.
Yes, rooting is only useful against melee mobs, but most pulls in instances have at least one of those. Also you can pull a caster mob behind a corner and root him out of sight of the group, if you are a crafty one. I can already see the mages QQing when they find out about that one.

This should help especially Boomkins, as many see them as the "lesser" caster DPS. Together with the plethora of new and improved AoEs they have now, this should end the doubts people have about bringing one.

We can use Nature's Grasp
For me, that is the biggest change. Nature's Grasp now is not only usable indoors, but also a baseline spell with 100% proc chance. A great escape mechanism, if a druid pulls aggro from a melee mob by accident (or a stealthed one pops out suddenly - Shadowlabs anyone?). He is rooted and you can move away, while the tank has an easier time regaining aggro, with the mob being stuck in place and all.

Another great application for it is as a tank. You're getting punched in your face by three or four mobs, and your healer tells you that he has trouble keeping you alive? Pop NG and after a mob has been immobilized, just take a few steps back. VoilĂ , you have just reduced incoming damage considerably, making your healer's life easier. Especially as Entangling Roots now are much more reliable (they do not break randomly any more, but after a certain amount of damage has been done).

The only things left that can only be used outdoors are flight form and travel form - and as their counterparts (mounts and flying mounts) have the same limitation, I can live with that quite well.