Wednesday, November 10, 2010

My UI, Where Minimalist Means Minimal Change

Disable all your add-ons, take a screen shot. That's about what I am aiming for. No really, one of the goals of my UI is to not do anything which would cause a learning curve should I be without some or even all of my add-ons. In fact this just recently happened to me on my laptop which I updated to 4.x on the road and just wanted to play my warlock a little without messing with add-ons. I also had an ulterior motive to see how the default UI looked, I've not used it in an age.

So my first test was to see just how awesome the new quest tracking system was. I've been using Carbonite since pretty much forever and much to my surprise the default UI is actually quite good. Carbonite has only two perks: more flexible placement of the quest tracking map and more automated quest tracking by proximity. I can almost function with the small map up there in the upper left where blizzard stick all thier informational frames, but I really like the translucent map Carbonite provides shoved off in a more discrete corner. The other thing is that Cabonite automagically tracks quests based on your proximity to them, with the default UI you have the option to track every quest you pick up, or do it all manually. The tracking selection isn't a big deal; if the small map frame was more flexible in placement that would be enough to get me to drop Carbonite.

Once I got into questing after a brief self tutorial I noticed the one place the default UI really fails, inventory management. I think this has more to do with the play style I've become accustomed to than blizzard's shortcomings. I use ArkInventory to show my entire inventory in one frame sorted by item type. I know exactly where my quest items are going to be, I know exactly where my BoE greens and enchanting mats are when it comes to send they to my enchanter, etc. Locating quest items used to be a big to do before the items were available right on the quest tracker, but occasionally they are missing and you have to quick open your bag and use them, often in a bit of a hurry since if you are like me you didn't look for the item before you had to use it right before a mob dies. I don't want to organize my bag and I certainly don't want to hunt through it. The only time I look in my bag for the most part is to empty it or sometimes equip a new item. Even then I have an add on to throw away the cheapest junk item I am carrying to make room without ever opening my bag. Pretty sure inventory management add-ons are here to stay, there is no way blizzard will add the level of tracking most people come to expect, including item counts on alts and guild banks, searches, etc. It is just too far beyond the scope of the default UI.

The next biggie for me is equipment sets, pretty much all my toons have at least a PVE and a PVP set. My hybrid toons have more. Right now my druid walks around with 4 complete sets and a few pieces of frost resist gear for special occasions. Without an equipment manager I would be totally lost putting on a specific set manually. Luckily not too long ago this feature was included in the default UI and better yet the add-on I used previously, Outfitter, makes use of the server side equipment sets so with or without the add-on I am good to go. The reason I still keep the add-on around is for partial equipment sets, enhanced tootips to let me know which sets and item is in, and the oh so convenient list of BoP items not currently in a set; that is such a great way to sell/equip stuff quickly.

So far I've not touched the default UI at all. In fact most of my addons are hidden behind the scenes unless activated. The most notable element of my UI is my DataBroker bar across the top of my screen. Here I have access to a lot of otherwise hidden add-ons as well as useful information at a glance. How much gold I have, what equipment set I am using, my equipment durability and anything else I want to know without clicking somewhere. I actually don't use most of the space so I am considering moving to a DataBroker add-on that lets me put things all over instead of on a bar.

Given my large widescreen monitor and my UI scale set as low as possible, I have a lot of room at the bottom of my screen to the left and right of my action bars/utility buttons. On the left I have my chat frame which you can't drag all the way to the bottom by default so I am thinking underneath is the perfect place to hide that DataBroker stuff I mentioned. On the right I have Omen and Recount just below my tooltip frame and additional action bars on the right side. I always have all the action bars enabled and share a common organizational system between toons.

The only other noticeable difference between my UI and the default (out of combat) then are my Pitbull unit frames. I am currently reevaluating whether or not the default unit frames are sufficient for me. With the new enhancements I think they might be. All I really use the unit/raid frames for are highlighting debuffs, aggro and the incoming heals display. I have some minor concerns about the numbers displayed, but that alone wouldn't be enough reason for me to keep an entire add-on.

In combat I have a few additional things pop up in the middle of my screen. I track combo points and rotation specific buffs and debuffs front and center with NugComboBars and Auracle. I was actually half thinking about power aura, but then blizzard added a simple version which works quite well for me. Along the same lines I replaced the default cast bars with Quartz. The main reason is basically just for the latency display which is invaluable when chain casting. I can start casting the next spell before I actually see the first go off.

I suppose WIM (WoW Instant Messenger) is also worth a mention. I don't know how often people have the need to keep multiple whisper conversations straight, but I do so with some regularity. Having a little window for each conversion is quite handy and I would be a lot less chatty without them.

So there you have a basic idea of what my UI looks like and have a point of reference should you ever find your UI or add-ons the target of my mockery. For example a bar mod screwing up a boss encounter will probably feel my ire for a good six months. Lets face it, Warcraft is buggy enough without introducing more potential points of failure, especially around major patches such as these. I like non intrusive add-ons which improve my gameplay, but don't take over. A little extra tooltip text, another button or informational display in a relevant location, those are all nice things to have. Like knowing who is responsible for a buff by mousing over it. A minor detail, but I seem to be the only one in raids that knows. :)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Why Choose a Bear?

Bears share a lot in common with warriors so far as tanking goes. You can do a side by side comparison of abilities and come up with a one to one relationship with nearly all the abilities. There are minor differences here and there; bears have fewer abilities that in general do more to make up for it, but the overall feel is about the same. Both bears and warriors are highly mobile tanks reliant on rage. Put plainly, we charge around a lot and have anger management issues.

This is in direct contrast with paladins and death knights that have a more stationary approach to tanking, they prefer their targets to come to them. The price they pay for the tools to do that is neither can charge. Both camps can get the job done so the decision is more about what type of player you are. If you prefer melee over ranged you are going to like warriors and druids, if you prefer ranged you are going to lean toward paladin and death knight. What, all tanks are melee?

It all comes down to how you are used to thinking; druids, warriors and melee in general are thinking at the end of a pull, "Where am I going next?". Paladins, death knights and ranged folks are going to be looking around at the end of a pull asking themselves, "What can I hit next?" The difference is subtle and at times non existent, there is nothing stopping a druid or warrior from pulling something at range in the same sense that there is nothing stopping a paladin or death knight from running in, but the class mechanics do favor one tactic over the other. So the first step toward becoming a bear is wanting to eat, drink and breath melee.

If melee isn't your thing then go play with death knight or paladin, probably paladin as you can heal rather than melee as a second spec. Having tanked on both I'd say the paladin was slightly easier to manage, but it is so close you should just pick the class you like the flavor of better. They are pretty much opposites when it comes to undead disease carrying monster vs light wielding holy warrior.

Back to bears; now the only choice left is between a druid and a warrior. This choice is defined mostly by whether or not you are a good fit for a druid. Druids are hybrids in the truest sense of the word. If you are only interesting in tanking and want to specialize to be just a tank then warrior is the way to go. If you want to mix some DPS in with your tanking and perhaps even moonlight as a healer then druid is where it is at. Basically people who can't or don't want to make up their minds prefer druids so they don't ever have too.

What really sets bears apart from other tanks isn't how well they tank or how they do it compared to others, it is what they are doing when they aren't tanking. Many fights only require one tank, some fights only require one tank for one part and two for the rest. Feral druids fill these needs fluidly by having the ability to go cat and for all intensive purposes become a DPS. Even without the benefit of DPS gear or a hybrid bear/cat spec a bear tank can bring it in cat form. No other tanks can come close without changing specs.

The opposite is also true and quite helpful in 5 and 10 mans. A feral druid doing DPS can tank quite effectively in an emergency if specced for it. I cannot count the number of times I have tipped the balance from wipe to win just because I was able to tank for a few crucial seconds. I also can't count the number of wipes I've caused, but that has more to do with my reckless nature and less to do with ability. Lets just say I consider tanking talents to be DPS utility talents. ;)

So the second reason to consider being a bear tank is if you favor flexibility over functionality. Warriors have a few really neat tricks up their sleeves, but can't flip roles mid fight. At the end of the day warriors get as much amusement from their bag of tricks as druids do from their shifting so it comes down to which appeals more to the person making the decision.

Friday, November 5, 2010

That Organ Taunts Me So!

There are few things that can get me more riled up at the end of an expansion like that one last piece of loot that will become obsolete before the next month is out, but I still want. Especially when it slips through my fingers for what appears to be the very last time.

I would consider myself lucky in loot for the most part, I don't make lists, I take it as it comes and try to share with others and I get pretty much everything I want eventually. I generally focus on one item after regular upgrades stop trickling in. For my druid that is the unidentifiable organ and for my shaman that is now the shield off of Sindragosa.

Both my raids are going to push for a Lich King kill for the rest of the expansion which turns thoughts of, "I'll get it eventually.", to, "I'm going to side with boss next time and loot you." Such is the case with loot being my primary motivator after seeing new content and amusing conversations.

Shame I watched that movie of the Lich King dying, it totally took my new content motivation away from that fight. I already had limited interest in any of his loot, there aren't any huge upgrades if there are any at all. All I've got left is amusing conversation and after a while wiping on one boss that dwindles.

Perhaps I'll go scrounge up a group for Algalon, never did see him. :)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Wicked Cool Idea, /castrandom Maul, ...


Turns out this works like a charm with a couple changes. First off the !'s break it so I removed those, and second auto attack isn't 'Attack' it's 'Auto Attack'.

/cast Mangle(Bear Form)
/castrandom [nomod] Maul, Auto Attack, Auto Attack, Auto Attack, Auto Attack

Upon further testing I think it may be beneficial to tweak the chance of maul based on the attack, for example a higher chance on pulverize and mangle and lower on lacerate, just due to the frequency of those keys being pressed. You'll also still need to watch rage a little bit and just hold a modifier key to hold off on mauls for a bit when needed. Also when performing a berserk mangle spam it would be a good idea to use a modifier to skip maul during that time.

I'm sure tweaks will be needed to increase or decrease mauling as gear and level progresses as well. All in all I think this is a big step forward for we bears who felt our old "rotation" was too simple and our new one was just a little too much.


Not sure if this will work the way I expect or as well, but I will definitely test it tonight. Using castrandom to use maul 50%, 33% or perhaps even 25% or 20% rather than every keypress. Brief recap, maul when from trivially annoying to just plain annoying in the 4.0.1 patch due to threat normalization. Previously it was possible to use maul constantly and never have to worry about rage, so it was macroed into every ability. Now we have to watch it, or do we?

My idea for a macro would look something like this...

/cast Mangle(Bear Form)
/castrandom Maul, !Attack, !Attack, !Attack

I'm not sure of the syntax for auto attack, but the idea is to use something that won't matter and won't do anything. It might even work to use a non existent spell/ability like 'nil' and still have it work properly. For all I know all the choices have to be unique.

So using this macro would cast Mangle and then have a one in four, 25%, chance of casting Maul afterwards. We bears might not have enough rage to cast it every cooldown, but one in four, perhaps. I am leaning toward 20% or 25% theoretically.

There may still be times with the glyph of maul or low rage that you don't want to cast maul and that can be done with a modifier key as before...

/cast Mangle(Bear Form)
/castrandom [nomod] Maul, !Attack, !Attack, !Attack

Hell, you could go absolutely nuts and use a different frequency with or without a modifier...

/cast Mangle(Bear Form)
/castrandom [nomod] Maul, !Attack, !Attack, !Attack, !Attack; Maul, !Attack

This would cast maul 20% of the time without a modifier and 50% of the time with.

I got to thinking about maul again after tanking last night after a brief break from my druid. I totally forgot to use maul for like the first two thirds of the raid. It isn't something I want to think about. The only time I want to look at my rage bar is when I pull. Sometimes I don't mind looking, but for the most part I've got more pressing matters (read as things that provide more amusement) to attend to.

I did a little searching on castrandom macros and didn't find anyone trying to do anything similar to this.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I Really Despise Warcraft This Week

First off I'm on an epic RNG quest to loot a Sinister Squashling and a Hallowed Helm so I can get 310% flying this year. I've finished every other holiday meta in one or two days of fairly intense gaming. This holiday I am stuck on one last achievement which I could get tonight or I might not get at all. An entire year of work rests squarely on two rare loot rolls.

As if the RNG achievement wasn't enough the entire games freezes randomly when mousing over certain things. Most notably the pumpkin to summon the headless horseman, but also guild banks, portals and rumor has it mage tables. Seems tied to the holiday event somehow, but the workaround is to completely disable tooltips.

Finally the straw that broke the camels back I just realized that blessing of kings and gift of the wild are the same now. So my first inclination after learning that was to look at the drums I carry on most my toons to see if they were also the same.

Turns out the drums of the wild were changed to restore health and mana, yay!

Reading closer you see that the drum effect doesn't work if you are level 80 or higher, boo!

Next I think to myself, this could be really awesome for alts, yay!

Then I read again and see the level requirement to use them is still 80, boo!

So if you are a level 80 that can't normally heal then you can help out lower level friends or something. Another set of drums to add to the list of leatherworking items made obsolete.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Oculus Dragons are the new Qiraji?

Ooh, ooh, I got a red one!

Back in the day if you pulled a dragon while you weren't mounted you'd probably die. If your group wasn't mounted you'd probably wipe. Not so much anymore... a decently geared group can kill dragons pretty efficiently without the help of vehicles.

I've tanked, dpsed and/or healed though many a blue drake add over the course of my many random Oculus runs, but last night was a first for me. I healed the last boss from the ground without the help of my trusty green drake.

I'm a cocky one. Someone actually commented at the start of our random run that they felt we were going to die a lot. My reply to that as a healer was if anyone died it meant that I had killed them. I could see where they were coming from though, it was me tanking and one other guildie tanking. A green tank, new to Oculus, less health than me and needing a bit of instruction here and there. For example getting on a mount for the first time when that comment was made.

Make no mistake though we're talking about a tanking savant. No aggro was pulled and the run was as smooth as a baby's bottom once our tank learned how to fly.

So we get to the last boss, kill a few whelps that followed us, and I notice a couple people's drakes have taken a bit of damage. I was going to suggest they dismount and remount, but decided that would be too much work and just funneled some of my health into them. I figured I'd just remount to get my own heath back then. Shortly before that happened I was in combat.

The obvious course of action was start dotting up the boss and get some of that health back. Well I didn't ever explain the fight to the new guy. I pulled aggro pretty quick and my dragon was dead before I could take off from the platform. I was a little surprised, but the cocky took over and I quickly whispered to the party to stay close to the platform I was on. I was going to heal this the hard way!

Well it wasn't all that hard, 5.1k average heals is all. I could have done more I am sure which leads me to wonder just how much healage I can pump out when I need too. Of course everyone lived, despite some of those cheeky wee monkeys flying out of healing range. There was some congratulating on the healing job, some collection of loot and thus ended one of the more interesting Oculus runs I've had.

My new theory is that as a healer I should just land on the center platform and just heal conventionally, but I kinda like the green drake. It is what actually inspired me to try an affliction warlock which I also really enjoy. I'm pretty sure a group of 5 could just take that dragon out without mounts in ICC gear, but I doubt it would be fast or easy.

Feelines, Talkin' 'bout Feelines

So I finally found a group last night that didn't need me to tank or heal, although I have to admit I was a naughty kitty and did some of the former anyway. I'd have to say without fear of death pulling aggro is not really a concern. I am for all intensive purposes still a tank when I DPS, just in slightly suboptimal gear. I was all excited about cower actually doing something and in the end I never used it. I'm sure it will come in handy on bosses like Festergut though.

My first impressions were that Blizzard may have over-tweaked us a wee bit on their damage hotfix. I was missing 3 glyphs and wasn't running any add-ons to keep on top of my bleeds and was still putting a fairly ridiculous amount of damage for a heroic. I have yet to fine tune my gear also, I ended up with a bit of extra hit and a lot of extra crit after the stat conversion.

I really like the more flexible bleed refreshes. I mentioned that I wasn't using any add-ons to track them, but I'm not sure it made a really huge difference since I am pretty used to the cat rhythm at this point and clipping bleeds is no longer an issue. The cat DPS feel hasn't changed a bit. In fact the only change I'm still thinking about is the priority of savage roar vs rip. One was nerfed and the other buffed. I think the rip is more important to keep up now and should be applied first.

The other neat thing is using combo points off dead targets. No longer am I trying to use up 2-3 combo points at the end of a kill, I just keep them for a moment running to the next mob and reapply savage roar which would have normally fallen off by the next pull.

Oh, and don't forget the interrupt! I can't wait for dreamwalker. All in all cats got a couple improvements and stayed more or less untouched compared to other classes/specs. My original fear was that the subtle changes would make those who aren't skilled at playing a feral druid better and at the same time nerf those players who'd mastered the spec. I'm pretty confident that isn't the case now that I've seen it in action.

One last thing, an update on the bear bars situation actually. Using a modifier key to fire off Maul turned out to be a pretty lame idea. While not using maul generally implies tanking only one or two targets, using maul implies many targets which I cycle through often using the tab key. Funny thing, when you use tab with the alt modifier, you leave the game and have to go back in hoping you didn't miss anything exciting. Not sure what I'm going to do about that one, still in a too many abilities with not enough reachable keys to bind them too funk. I swear the new bear abilities were implemented by a keyboard turner. Curse you clickers! Or perhaps they are trying to market their new bazillion button mouse with scare tactics; whatever the case I ain't digging it.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Random Heroic Testing

So I took the opportunity my first evening playing after the patch to try out as many toons/specs as I could, just to get a basic idea in my head so I could give it some thought offline. I tried druid healing and tanking, then hunter and shaman DPS.

The highlight of my evening was by far the druid healing. The basic mechanics of resto druids didn't change all that much. Pretty much the only thing I found myself keeping in mind was that lifebloom was for a single target. I've been thinking of macroing that to cast on a focus target since I do tend to accidentally flip it to other people and end up having to put it back. I haven't even tried yet because I don't think they've fixed the issue with these situationally different abilities with the same name and how they behave, or more accurately don't behave, in macros.

The first thing I noticed healing was there is about twice as much damage to heal. A little less than twice, but pretty close. Before the patch I amused myself as a healer by seeing how much damage I could do while still keeping up with the heals. In ICC gear that pretty much meant I was DPSing just ever so slightly more than I was healing. I did not have the opportunity to DPS more than twice in the heroic I healed. Kind of ironic considering the DPS talent I took to do a little DPS while healing. I'm still going to keep that a while and hope that changes.

I think they hit tree form dead on as a cooldown. I used it a couple times when the damage was a little heavier and it felt very smooth. Although I think the new tree models that were leaked look like butt, and not the cute furry bear kind.
Efflorescence was better than I expected after watching it get nerfed to the ground on the PTR then buffed back up again. I had forgotten it had switched to swiftmend though so I was spamming regrowth trying to see it till I gave up and reread the talent.

All in all my playstyle of favoring instant over anything with a cast time still works just as well as it ever did if not better. I did find myself using nourish a few times that I wouldn't have previously, but I never did find a niche for regrowth or healing touch.

Nature's swiftness has definitely outlived its usefulness, I didn't spec for it and I doubt I'll ever miss it. I used it very rarely before and now that heals are smaller and the cooldown remains unchanged it just isn't worth it when there are other talents I prefer.

Next thing I tried was tanking and it was painful. I figured like healing before it there wouldn't be that big of a change, I was so wrong. Of course I knew that our AOE was on a 6 second cooldown and rage had been normalized, but oh my god it was... pain! I had doubts of my desire to tank in the first time, well ever. It got better as I went along, and never was I doing a poor job, it just wasn't very fun. I think I pressed maul maybe twice the whole instance. Not because I was rage starved, but because I was too busy playing musical targets compensating for the lack of swipe that I really didn't have the opportunity to watch my rage bar and tank. I never had to look at my rage bar before except a passing glance just before a pull.

In general I found myself with just way too much to look for. Heaven forbid someone not talent for faerie fire applying 3 stacks at once. Having tanked on everything but a warrior before the patch I'd say the druid just got harder than a pre-patch DK. Death knights also suffered from too much to watch syndrome, but it was easy to fall into a pattern with some practice, I am hoping the same will be true for the new bear changes. I'll definitely have to try out tanking on my other alts as well once I get my druid down. One thing I learned playing with 4 specs in one night is stick with one or two before branching out.

I'd have to say my second favorite after healing on my druid was DPSing on my hunter. I'm still a ways away from getting the pattern down, but for the most part the marksman hunter feel was there. Really nothing of note to report, I was performing about the same as I was before the patch. A little lower, but I really wasn't using my cooldowns as much while I was getting the feel of the new focus system. Probably more importantly I wasn't using anything near an optimal rotation.

Then I logged off for the night on a rather sour note after DPSing one last heroic on my shaman. For the first 4 pulls I was simultaneously updating my bars and speccing as I was expecting to heal. Once I had all that taken care of I noticed that I was doing really low damage, half what I would have expected. Taking into account that I didn't get a chance to train first I was missing out on 20% nature damage and 5% agility from masteries, but that wouldn't explain such a radical drop.

The other thing that I was playing with was when to use the single target vs multi target fire totem and a single lightning bolt vs chain lightening. Before the patch it was a no brainer and the multi target spells were better even on single targets. Being more conscientious of which abilities I was using got me probably 500 more DPS, but I was still 2-3k off from where I'd of expected. I'll definitely give it another shot once I have a better handle on my primary specs for my raiding toons.

Cataclysmic Druid Impressions

How could they do this to me... I swear I'm going to spend the next month perfecting my bars only to learn a few new abilities getting to 85 and be screwed all over again. Ok probably not that bad.

The problem is that cat form and bear form only get 12 action bar slots, but there are a few more than 12 abilities unique to each of those forms. This has been true forever, but with creative use of macros it was possible to get everything to fit. Combining stealth only cat abilities into other abilities with macros solved the problem for cats and bears really didn't have a problem although sticking maul into macros was convenient.

My cat bar was perfectly filled and I mean perfectly, in comes skull bash which destroys the order of my feline universe. Cat DPS is pretty high paced you really do need everything at your fingertips, especially when considering PVP. Skull bash is likely going to knock dash off the bar, not the end of the world as dash is on a relatively long cooldown and clicking the ability wouldn't kill me. Having a real live honest to goodness interrupt goes a long way towards appeasing me.

Still I really don't like having abilities on my bars that don't apply to my current form. I already have a sprint/nitro boost slot tucked away on my action bars I use for my rogue and engineers, but those are always active. My plan is to macro it to enter cat form if not already in it and otherwise cast dash.

#showtooltip Dash
/use [noform:3] Cat Form; Dash

I'll show the tooltip and icon for dash all the time since it would be confusing to see another cat form icon somewhere and have it change all the time.

The bear bar is a whole different story. I want 2 more slots than currently available. Worse than that I want both of those slots highly accessible. I want to shove faerie fire, maul, mangle, lacerate, pulverize and growl in the space of 4 keys. No I don't like modifiers. It is a little ridiculous really that bear form has more buttons to push than is required for cat DPS. I've already compromised and took the duplicate faerie fire off my bear bar since I have it hanging out in F1 which I use in cat form. It's a little reach, but doable. That leaves 5 abilities and four buttons. The only choice really is to macro maul into my abilities again, but this time rather than not maul when a modifier is pressed I will only mail when a modifier is pressed.

I'm not sure what the reasoning behind giving bears 7 buttons to hit more or less every 6 seconds (I included swipe in addition to the 6 I mentioned earlier). Even mid fight after all the growling and faerie firing is finished there are still 4 or 5 abilities being spammed out the wazoo depending on whether it's single target or AOE. Pretty much all other classes and specs have 3 or 4 tops. I think the bear rotation is more complicated than the cat rotation now and you also have to tank on top of that. I'm sure with some practice it will become seconds nature, but at first glance it seems a bit much. Oh and don't forget at 81 we get yet another AOE ability, thrash, to add into the mix for a total of 8 buttons to spam, 4-6 mid fight. That one is pretty self explanatory and just gets castsequence macroed with swipe, but how stupid is that to have two abilities to do pretty much the same thing.

To add insult to injury for bears, thorns can't be cast in forms despite the new short duration. It is good for the start of a pull maybe, but totally useless most the time unless you want to get smushed caught tanking in caster form. Pretty stupid that the only form that was meant to get hit is the one that can't use thorns. Casters who shouldn't ever get hit can use it just fine though, go figure. They should have just removed it for what it was worth.

I heard a rumor that bear tanking now more closely resembles warrior tanking my next step is to check out how warriors are handling their abilities. Do they even have as many?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Crappy Release Cycle and Human Nature

We had 6 months to play around in Naxx before Ulduar came out, a lot of that was time spent leveling and gearing for raiding. My guild run cleared Naxx a couple weeks after Ulduar came out running 3 hours a week without any extensions.

Ulduar was out for less than four months before ToC was introduced. Looking back on this the timing could not have been worse. Here we had a dungeon that rivaled and even exceeding the quality of ICC in many respects given less time as the current raid tier than ToC was. My 3 hour a week guild run got as far as Hodir and was starting to discuss raid extensions when ToC came out.

I feel my raid could have gotten a lot more enjoyment out of Ulduar had blizzard held off on TOC another month at least, preferably 2 or 3. Once something new came out with better drops for the same effort the old content was all but abandoned. Between badges and the new ToC 5-man there wasn't any reason to enter Naxx or Uluar anymore.

ToC was excellent for a 3 hour run though, all four months of it until ICC came out. Once ICC came out we were clearing ToC so fast we had time left to try out the first couple bosses in ICC. Eventually moving to ICC full time. That was the first transition since Naxx to Ulduar that felt right.

Now we've had over 9 months in ICC, more than twice that of any other raid content. It's getting old fast and I've still not even seen the Lich King fight yet. I think that little movie spoiler in Dalaran removed like 70% of my desire to kill him. It would have been nice if a large chunk of that time in ICC could have been spent in Ulduar.

Then of course we had our 1 boss dragon instances to fill extra time, do something different and such. Those are still a really great way to fill some time after extending an ICC instance to a second week. I'm hoping that Cataclysm dungeons will be about 1.5-2 hours long on farm so that the transition from one tier to the next can be a gradual one.

It is a sad thought that there are many people who have been raiding since forever and have a Lich King kill, but not a Yogg kill. I think in addition to Blizzard waiting until it is ready to release they should also wait until we are ready. There are always going to be those who want more right away, but I think I represent the middle ground when I say we got too much too soon and then nothing.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Infrequently Used Abilities

Last night I rediscovered my love of Nature's Grasp on my druid. Every minute you can root the next 3 things to hit you in place within 45 seconds of each other. Can keep it up almost all the time and the only cost is a global cooldown. Personally I haven't used it since tanking the adds for Ignis in Ulduar, it was quite handy to have them rooted in the flames so I didn't take unnecessary damage standing there with them. It was only one charge back then and now it has 3.

So last night I found another use which takes full advantage of the 3 charges. Locking down zombies on Dreamwalker. It was rather amusing to see a pair of them rooted together while ranged blew them up. I could totally see a situation where 3 were running around and could be rooted quickly, it was only 10 man though so 2 is about as many as are up at a time. The other thing that is handy about Nature's Grasp is that is can proc Omen of Clarity for a rage/energy/mana free next ability. Cats have lots of global cooldowns to waste while waiting on energy, so popping Nature's Grasp in your spare time can potentially provide a free shred. Other specs wouldn't benefit enough to even think about it.

Another easily forgotten ability druids have is power shifting, which is a misnomer these days unless you are a bear really low on rage. Back in the good old days a feral druid could shift into the form they are already in specifically cat form and use the Furor talent in the resto tree to trade some mana for energy. For bear it still works to grab some rage if you have none, but it isn't terribly useful except for maybe right before a pull. Anyway the second benefit of power-shifting which is still quite relevant today is shifting breaks any slow or snare effects. It's basically the gnome racial without a cooldown.

Any druid worth their salt will have a macro to "shift" into whatever for they are currently in and use it to break snares. It is invaluable in many boss encounters like the freezing in place on Hodir and more recently the slowing effect of ice bolts on Dreamwalker.

/cast [stance:1] !Dire Bear Form; [stance:2] !Aquatic Form; [stance:3] !Cat Form; [stance:4] !Travel Form; [stance:5] !Tree of Life; [nocombat,flyable] !Swift Flight Form; !Travel Form

There is the macro in case anyone needs it. If you are a boomkin change 'Tree of Life' to 'Moonkin Form', they both share a stance number. If you are dual specced Tree/Chicken then you can do something like this...

/cast [stance:1] !Dire Bear Form; [stance:2] !Aquatic Form; [stance:3] !Cat Form; [stance:4] !Travel Form; [stance:5,spec:1] !Tree of Life; [stance:5,spec:2] !Moonkin Form; [nocombat,flyable] !Swift Flight Form; !Travel Form

Flip the spec numbers if your primary and secondary specs are reversed.

Basically this macro flips you into whatever for you are already in, but if you are in caster form for some reason it will flip you into either flight form or travel form depending on if flying is available. If you don't like the caster form behavior you can change it to whatever you like, perhaps to just shift into your preferred form...

/cast [stance:1] !Dire Bear Form; [stance:2] !Aquatic Form; [stance:3] !Cat Form; [stance:4] !Travel Form; [stance:5,spec:1] !Tree of Life; [stance:5,spec:2] !Moonkin Form; !Tree of Life


/cast [stance:1] !Dire Bear Form; [stance:2] !Aquatic Form; [stance:3] !Cat Form; [stance:4] !Travel Form; [stance:5,spec:1] !Tree of Life; [stance:5,spec:2] !Moonkin Form; !Cat Form

Nothing slows down a druid! Except maybe stuns or incapacitates.

Things should get interesting in Cataclysm since healers will be the only druids not in a form 100% of the time and hence can be affected by polymorph (unless they do end up removing a druid's immunity to polymorph in forms altogether in which case it won't matter). The other weakness of not being in a form though, which I haven't seen discussed, is losing the ability to power shift out of snares or slowing effects. The new tree form is a slowing effect in itself right now to add insult to injury. So resto druids would have to flip to one of their feral forms and back to remove a snare which is pretty lame.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Some Tanks Wear Cloth

So I've been leveling a couple caster alts lately, a mage and a warlock to be precise. My mage turned out to be a lot like my hunter, I need to stay back but can use some tricks close up to get me back to range. I must say I like my mage tricks a little more, but that could just be because they are newer to me. My warlock on the other hand doesn't need to stay at range and if I don't like something by me I make *it* run away.

I've got enough talent points and practice now that drain tanking is completely awesome. I was in a scarlet monastery run, the library I think, last night and I ended up doing 30% of the healing. 30% on self healing, 5 people, carry the... yeah I was tanking. Our tank was kinda bad, plus our healer was kinda bad. I got to watch the mage die a lot, I am learning to love that in a way only a warlock can. The other DPS was a hunter who also did a fair amount of tanking with his pet.

When it came down to the final boss it was me drain tanking it and the hunter DPSing, everyone else had died. I was bleeding more health than I could regain, but luckily the boss was bleeding health faster so I ended up with like 20% health when he died. It was a proud moment, plus I got a new robe.

Had I known warlocks could be so much fun I'd of played one long before. They remind me of the green drakes in oculus, which are by far my favorites. You'd never know that about a warlock though until you get into the 20's and more importantly the 30's and specced affliction otherwise warlocks are like hunters with really bad mana efficiency.

I can only imagine how powerful drain tanking can become given soul link and a few other talents from the demonology tree, plus the rest of the affliction tree flushed out. I've already reached the point where I have zero downtime and just yesterday took out 5 mobs 3-4 levels above me in the same fight, 2 or 3 at a time on me as more adds wandered in, all without breaking a sweat and that was without any kiting. With kiting an affliction warlocks only limit is how far they want to go back for loot otherwise dotting and running can kill an infinite number of mobs without ever needing to stop for mana. I can't think of any other class/spec that can rival that except perhaps a blood death knight.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Battle Rez from the Tank!

We've all been there, a key player (usually a second tank or healer) goes down and it's either get them up or pack it in. Back in the day Shadowmeld provided bears with the ability to drop threat onto one or more of the expendable DPS to allow the opportunity to get a rez off, if that DPS was worth their salt they "tanked" that boss until it was taunted back a moment later. If not losing one DPS to avoid a wipe was a very good trade. I remember doing this a couple times on the first boss in heroic Halls of Lightning back when it was "new" healers always managed to die there by someone getting charged and running laps around them or something. Anyway that doesn't work anymore.

The new trick is to keep an eye on when the boss takes a moment to stop beating on you to cast something. Most bosses do something like this and if timed properly you can get a rez off and be back in bear form before you get whacked again and possibly one shotted in caster form. This is somewhat of a risky maneuver and should not be attempted if there isn't the threat of imminent failure and there aren't any other druids available to do the job. When your butts against the wall and there isn't any other choice the results can be awe inspiring.

For example I was recently tanking Rotface while the second tank herded slimes. All was going well until the second tank got run over by a large slime and chaos ensued. Luckily there was a naughty poo poo less than a second later which provided more than enough time to get a rez off and finish the fight. I've also snuck a rez off while Rotface turned to spray the group which is much more twitchy and time sensitive, but it is doable. Probably my greatest battle rez while tanking was on Saurfang. The second tank went down, we were already short a healer from a mark and had just a little more to go. I got a rez off while he turned to cast blood boil on someone in the raid. It was pretty awesome, but its probably a 50/50 shot between saving the day and getting one shotted.

A battle rez is a very powerful tool in the right situation, so powerful in fact that it is the one and only ability a bear would ever consider leaving the safety of bear form to use. That is a subtle hint to other druids that they should be paying attention to when their battle rez can be useful and not wait for someone else to make the call. The choice often needs to be made in the span of a global cooldown to be effective. I can recall a few incidents where a battle rez that never came could have prevented a wipe. Usually it is a boomkin oblivious to anything besides their next eclipse proc, but that could just be a coincidence.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Warlocks vs Healers

I've got two healers at 80 and have only just starting doing randoms on my now level 29 warlock so until recently I have been a little biased toward healers having the short end of the stick. I've come to realize that this isn't the case after just one Gnomeregan pug. It was the first time I got called out for my self-inflicted damage.

"Thank the warlock for that.", as the healer needs to stop for mana. Of course I am doing everything I can to heal myself and I wasn't really being a drain on the healer's mana so far as I could tell so I simply replied, "you're welcome". A little later the healer stopped to drink again and I thought it would be amusing to poke fun myself and said, "Give the healer a moment, he's drinking for two." Finally, near the last boss someone asked, "Why is the warlock taking so much damage?" I couldn't help myself and blurted, "I hurt myself...", "I get off on it. I know it's wrong, but I can't help myself." The RP realm guy was heartily amused as was the rest of the group and from that point on there wasn't another word on the topic. I've never really gotten into the whole role play aspect of my toons, but it has been something I've had a growing interest in. In this case it was an easy way to diffuse an otherwise awkward PUG situation without going into debating class mechanics. This little taste of role play has wet my appetite for more.

Unlike the middle of a PUG, now it is a good time to talk class mechanics. Fact: Warlocks life tap to regain mana. There really is no other way around it in a group environment, but warlocks also have the ability to heal themselves and take that burden off the healer. I'm speaking from an affliction perspective since that is what I play, but I am pretty sure that is the case for all warlocks. The main problem is that those two things don't happen at the same time, warlocks lose health to regain mana and then start regenerating health with life drain or using a healthstone. By that point the healer in me would see the missing health and fill it up much faster than the warlock can themselves and any healing the warlock would do would be overhealing. So the warlock continues to DPS and life tap while the healer shakes their head in disapproval.

The take away for healers is to give warlocks the opportunity to take care of themselves, or more specifically don't top them off if you are having mana issues. It is a good indication to the warlock that if their healer isn't topping them off that they should focus more on taking care of themselves. There are going to be bad players on both sides of the fence, healers that don't heal warlocks and warlocks that life tap to the point of death and expect heals. I actually felt bad life tapping as a warlock until fairly recently since I've only just started to get the tools to heal myself to make up for it. Now I realize that as a warlock you have to learn to strike a balance between life tapping, DPS and health regeneration depending on how much extra healing is coming your way. Some healers say go nuts and others will outright refuse to heal you if you life tap. Most, including myself when I am healing, are somewhere in the middle.

It is mostly a matter of common sense on the warlock's part, don't life tap unless you know how you are going to get that lost health back; when in doubt drink. If I am low on mana and see a promising life drain target I will dot it up, life tap and then start sucking that life back. One of the first things I learned in Gnomeregan was I can't get health back from mechanical targets, bummer. In between pulls I will life tap all that a healthstone will afford me and make a new one for next time. When I see a target with low health that few other people are attacking I will soul drain it and attempt to proc a mana boost. That is how I get most my mana back soloing, but it requires me or my pet to get the killing blow. Another thing to be aware of are hots ticking on you, if you are at/near full health then use those hots to life tap rather than let them get wasted as overhealing. One thing is for sure it is never the healer's responsibility to manage a warlocks mana, but a little help goes a long way.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Big Pulls vs. Chain Pulling

I was in a random group with three people who were obviously together, one DPS of appropriate level, a higher level healer and max level ICC entry geared tank. Neither the healer or tank even spoke, but it was apparent they were talking amongst themselves through some other medium, probably vent.

So the DPS calls out at the beginning of the instance that they will be making "big pulls". This is after a fairly long pause waiting for the healer to zone in. We are doing Utgarde Keep and the tank proceeds to pull the first two, and that is all.

The tank then runs in and grabs half the room where most tanks grab the whole thing. Pats come by and pull the rest of the room, mobs go straight for the healer and I'm starting to pull aggro on my level 70 pally from a 5k+ gearscore tank. Big pulls, yeah right.

So the next pull the tank whacks the single then runs off to grab more without any warning. The other DPS and I who weren’t in communication with the tank both pulled aggro, I stunned the mob and the tank came back to "tank" it while it was stunned. Next couple pulls were single groups again; then came the room with the drakes.

The tank pulls a single drake, stays there a second then takes off to grab the next group, again without any warning. I had aggro on that single drake pretty quick and being on a pally managed to bubble and stay alive. Obviously big pulls means randomly choosing to tank and not tank certain mobs.

The rest of the instance was much of the same with some oddly long pauses where the tank and healer would sit around the recently dead mobs and say a prayer or something. It was a very slow moving PUG even compared to the usual level 68-70 groups.

This was just another example of how pulling big is not something that should be executed by an inexperienced tank. Pulling additional mobs is something tanks learn to do over time by anticipating what their group can handle and more importantly what they can maintain control of. Big pulls are a pretty stupid idea in general as they are hard for DPS to anticipate without some communication from the tank and more often than not are less efficient than timely single pulls.

The more appropriate tactic for speeding up an instance is called chain pulling. Once you have adequate threat on one group of mobs you go ahead and grab the next, moving along at a constant steady pace. The DPS never stop which makes things go considerably faster opposed to waiting for a tank to gather a large group while the DPS does nothing in that time. It takes a very large AOE group to make up for a long wait time of zero DPS when it comes to average DPS.

The main thing to gauge your chain pulling speed by is your healer's mana, DPS mana is unimportant (even if they do complain about it). If your healer is doing OK mana wise then your DPS should be too, otherwise they are doing something wrong (most likely going all out on trash instead of doing slightly lower sustainable damage). In any case your affected DPS can hang back and drink while you move forward. The exception to the DPS mana rule is that it is often a good idea to let everyone start a boss at full mana, but that is only until you outlevel or overgear the content.

DPS Leaving Randoms After Tank/Healer

Last night I was questing on my paladin while queued to DPS a random. I rarely queue to tank as I wouldn't have any time to quest. The average wait times were between 30 and 45 minutes so I only got into 3 groups over the course of the evening, one of which didn't make it to the first boss. Why, because everyone dropped group except me.

You know how when you queue for a random as a DPS and one of the DPS doesn't accept and times out, you get another group pretty quick. This is because you are at the top of the queue. Even higher yet in the queue are groups already in an instance. Obviously this is a foreign concept to many players because no one in their right mind can possibly want to wait longer for a random. Perhaps many DPS aren’t in their right mind and 45 minutes sounds better than 5.

Another thing to keep in mind while you are waiting for the rest of your group is that you don't have to wait in the instance and do nothing, you can click the teleport out of dungeon option on your minimap and continue questing or whatever you were doing before you accepted the random dungeon. Then when the group is ready you just teleport back to the dungeon the same way.

It made even less sense last night as the group was struggling a little due to an inexperienced tank. The tank left shortly after running back after a bad pull which wasn't even their fault. Someone requeued and we'd of gotten another hopefully more competent tank if not for the healer dropping group rather than accepting a role. Both the other DPS drop right after that. Even if just one of the DPS stayed I wouldn’t of had to requeue at the bottom.

I often wish that groups were like raids in the sense that they don't automatically disband when only one player remains, just so I could stay at the top of the queue for randoms even if everyone else left to requeue at the bottom. Although you'd think those queuing as DPS would be more adept at working the system in their favor given the drastically longer queue times.

Friday, July 23, 2010

New Druid Talent Trees

I have three goals in my druid's talent build(s): tank to the best of my ability, dps to the best of my ability and heal to the best of my ability, prioritized in that order. In reality my dps and healing goals end up flipped since tanking and dps share a talent tree and cannot be improved individually without dropping healing as an option entirely. The ability to heal opens doors that would not otherwise be open to a strict tank/dps, so long as that is of more value than the small DPS loss of a bear focused hybrid feral build then resto will remain my secondary spec of choice. Right now the DPS difference between my hybrid build and a pure cat build in equivalent gear is almost negligible and I find myself doing competitive damage with other classes.

Well, the latest feral tree still hasn't deterred me from a cat/bear hybrid build. I actually had a couple of points left to dabble after grabbing all the talents I really wanted. Those couple extra points really aren't extra when you consider that at level 80 we'll probably only have 39/41 points available.

Then I took another look at the resto tree; better, but pretty boring. There is so little choice in the first two tiers that the former trees of Azeroth are forced to waste 4 points in talents that don't help in any way to improve healing (3 if you go out on a limb and consider that taking 2% less magic damage helps your healing).

The rest of the restoration specialization is basically one large choice, "Do you want to sneak some DPS in?", and one small choice, "Do you want to PVP?". I was hoping for more give and take, "I can buff this healing spell or this other one...", but nope; you can take all the healing talents you want so long as you didn't want any damage focused talents or the one PVP talent.

Which leads me to my biggest disappointment, I can't reach moonkin form from the resto tree. The points are available, but the 31 point requirement in the first tree makes it impossible. I was totally willing to toss the new tree form aside in favor of having a bit of fun as a chubby owl. So far I definitely plan on sticking one point in Balance of Power though to get 2% hit, plus 50% of my spirit as hit. That one point will make a huge difference in whatever meager DPS I can muster.

One thing I notice in the new trees is that I find myself sticking 1 point in a lot of talents that take 2 or 3 points to max out. I think it kind of cool and never found myself considering it except for the last few points in the currently live talent trees. The main reason for this I see is the wider variety of "interesting" talents opposed to pure stat increases. Pure stat increase talents are boring and usually easy to prioritize. Talents that situationaly alter or enhance an ability however are great places to mix and match. The talents that best illustrate this are the ones that have both a constant utility portion and a scaling numeric portion, so if you take one point you get the same utility as if you took 3, but if you take more it procs more often or causes more damage.

One real example would be Empowered Touch in the resto tree which gives a chance to refresh a lifebloom stack with nourish, 50% chance for each of the two points. I think that is a cool idea so I'll put a point in, but I don't feel like I need to put a second point in since I bet in the times when I care I will cast at least two or three nourishes on my lifebloom target during the duration of the hot. One point means sometimes I won't have to refresh my lifebloom stack instead of I'd always have to. A little RNG, but I think it is interesting.

A somewhat less controversial example would be the feral Improved Charge talent for a cat, one point lets you ravage out of stealth for 3 seconds, a second point allows it for 6. One talent point gets ravage into your rotation. Two would let you use it perhaps twice after a pounce instead of once. I can't see myself not taking the one point here.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Dual Specs and Downranked Spells

It is a known bug that when learning new spells at your class trainer only your currently active spec is updated to use the new spell ranks. In fact there is an add-on, RankWatch, just to check for this. (Note: If you do use RankWatch use the '/rankwatch 80' command to have it only whisper people at max level. If you haven't fixed your spells by then you deserve a reminder.)

Anywho, the add-on lets you know there is a problem, but doesn't fix it for you. Worst case scenario you go through each action bar slot one at a time and check your spellbook for any updates. More than likely you just keep using the old ranks till your RankWatch add-on, or someone else's, tells you to update them. There is a better way, and it all fits in a handy macro you can use after training.

/run if not InCombatLockdown() then for i=1,120 do t,x,x,s=GetActionInfo(i)if t=="spell"then PickupSpell((GetSpellInfo(s)))PlaceAction(i)end end end

Obviously RankWatch should be updated to do this for you automatically when it sees you used a downranked spell the next time you are out of combat, but in the meantime this works nicely. :)

Stupid Pet Tricks

Once upon a time pets did exactly what you told them to, run up to whatever you told them to and hit it, predictable. At this point the stupid rested squarely on the shoulders of the hunter or warlock not to manuever their pets behind their targets. Then things change and pets automatically put themselves behind their targets and with that the stupid shifts to Blizzard's implementation.

A fix for a minor end game pet management inconvenience manifested itself in a very unfortunate way for solo hunters and warlocks. You send in your pet and it might choose to run off with the mob and try to pull as many others as it can. There are many theories as to why this happens, but the one sure thing is that it is related to the pet positioning changes. Obviously the change wasn't "ready", but was released anyway and hasn't been resolved for months.

The result is that the very first impressions any new hunter or warlock has of their new class/pet is of a bug, total immersion killer. I have a hunter at 80 that pretty much exclusively groups and no longer solos so I had all but forgotten about this bug, but I've recently started leveling my warlock again and now it is fresh in my mind once again. Hopefully this will get some attention for Cataclysm, if not sooner, since there is so much emphasis being placed on improving the leveling experience for new characters.

There is a workaround to avoid an untimely death, tell your pet to follow then shortly after that send it to attack again. You learn to catch the bug early after several repetitions so your pet ends up more or less where you want it. On the bright side this bug does teach new hunters and warlocks to be more mindful of their pets.

Monday, July 19, 2010

31pt Stealth Nerf?

Originally the plan was 5 more talent points and trees similar to the ones we currently have. Yay, 5 more points to flush out a couple more talents you wanted in your build. Boo, there is less of a compromise between level 85 builds if you are 5 points closer to everything you want. Plans changed and talent trees have been pruned to 31 points deep and the maximum talent points are cut in half. We only earn two or three new talent points from 80 to 85 depending on how our 1.875 levels per talent point are distributed.

Talent trees aren't finalized yet, but When working through them I can't help but to fear that today's builds at 80 will become tomorrow's builds at 85. Meaning that when the new trees go live level 80's would essentially lose 4-5 talent points which would be earned back leveling to 85. The only way to keep that from happening is for talents to get cheaper, which they are, and for there to be more of them on each tier, which also appears to be happening to some extent. Making some of the mandatory talents baseline also helps by providing more talent points to spend.

Ideally we'll be able to replicate our level 80 builds more or less in the new talent trees and then by 85 be able to pick up a couple new talents. We'll see how it balances out once the new trees are further along.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Got Ta Be Kiddin' Mon

I had two conflicting interests up until 5 minutes ago, have one toon of each class and have two druids if the troll or worgen forms were totally awesome. Druid is my favorite class after all and I can only play 2 specs at a time.

Well it turns out the new forms don't do anything for me at all. The troll forms look like they belong in a circus and the worgen forms are tauren with the horns cut off and perhaps a little more hair. These are probably completely desirable traits for troll and worgen druids though.

So now I know that my worgen priest and goblin warrior will be my two new alts for the expansion and fill out those last couple classes I've been neglecting. No more worrying in the back of my head of how I will enjoy all the alts I want with the limited character slots provided. A small weight has been lifted off my pinky toe.

Edit: Added images for those who couldn't access them elsewhere.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Maximum System Requirements

So after doing a little searching around after having wow crash on me in Dalaran repeatedly since the patch I found that Blizzard is aware of the issue and working toward a fix. I also found out that the issue has been reported for at least a year and a half and 3.3.5 was just the straw that broke the camels back.

Apparently support for 64 bit operating systems hasn't been a priority for testing and users who have reported issues have been getting the update your video driver and disable your add-ons run-around for months. Since it was such a small percentage of the player base it makes sense that it didn't get much attention, but it still looks bad for Blizzard now that 64 bit systems have become more or less the norm for new computers.

So we have a slow memory leak affecting some systems which causes intermittent crashes. I noticed this myself when I upgraded my machine, but I disregarded it as being related to my choice of running with two video cards in an SLI configuration. I ran with shaders off for quite a while as they caused outdoor areas to flash like someone was turning the light on and off, but that was fixed with the release of wrath.

Out comes 3.3.5 which exacerbates this preexisting issue by turning a small memory leak into a large one. Now pretty much everyone running wow at max settings on newer hardware is experiencing regular crashes at least in computationally expensive places like Dalaran.

Blizzard's solution while they work on returning the problem to its 3.3.3 state is to reduce graphics settings. Note they did not say they would fix it, only make it work as well as it did previously. That's good enough for me I suppose, a little annoying, but good to know I wasn't doing something horribly wrong.

My guess is that stable support for todays newer hardware won't be flushed out until Cataclysm at the earliest and by that point there will be even newer stuff out there. Warcraft is rather unique in that is runs on such a wide range of systems and can be played on fairly ancient computers by todays standards with minimal impact on playability.

The take away from all of this is something most people who buy, upgrade or even build computers for themselves have known and kept in mind for years, don't overspend. The 100 rule comes to mind, you should never spend more than 100 dollars on any one computer component, including those fancy graphics cards despite how manufacturers would have you believe otherwise. I know I've broken this rule when I built my own machine, but only just barely and I still think SLI is cool. :)

Software companies aren't developing for or catering to excessive hardware as Blizzard has demonstrated, they might not even be considering it or even testing for it. Not to mention a piece of fancy hardware that costs two or three times as much will not last you two or three times as long. In the long run it is more cost-effective to buy older cheaper technology and then replace it when needed. That could be a very long time so far as warcraft is concerned seeing as system requirements have only gone up a little for wrath in six years.

Even then consider that I was up until shortly before the release of Wrath running wow on a dell manufactured in 93' a whole 7 years before warcraft. I did have to replace the video card and even then I was having issues in 25 man raids when AOEs started flying around, but everything else was completely playable at a decent frame rate and quality. Hardware has far surpassed current software needs and left us all spoiled.

4pT10 Enrage is Liberating

I finally got the rest of the frost badges together for my fourth tier 10 piece thanks in part to the holiday boss rewarding two each day. I ran around to gem and enchant it right before going to tank for my guild's weekly raid.

It was better than I had even imagined. No more did I have to worry about timing my enrage with the readiness of the raid for maximum rage at the time of the pull. Enrage was always a little weird in the sense that you want it for the start of a pull, but you don't want to take additional damage, especially at the start of a pull when healers are getting into place and hots haven't been stacked up yet.

With the set bonus enrage is actually another defensive cooldown with a 12% damage reduction instead of an armor reduction. So you can enrage as you pull, have plenty of rage to get some decent snap aggro and at the same time take less damage while healers get situated. As an added bonus I have a talent point in King of the Jungle since I run with a hybrid tanking/DPS spec. That provides me with an extra 5% damage while enrage is active and helps even more with getting a good lead on aggro from the start.

In the middle of the fight the rage or aggro aren't usually an issue so it becomes a lesser barkskin cooldown to reduce incoming damage. There are fights where it helps more though like Bronjahm in Forge of Souls. In phase 2 he doesn't hit very much and rage goes to near zero pretty quick, popping enrage allowed me to put out a lot more damage than I would otherwise been able too without taking additional damage.

Speaking of Forge of Souls I ran that after my raid as you might have guessed, and guess what dropped off the last boss! The Needle-Encrusted Scorpion, of course. I can't even remember how long I've been trying, but I've lost the roll at least 5 times and some days I even got lucky and ran it twice, once queued specifically for it and again after as a random heroic.

I must say I earned it that time, healer went down in the beam (which happens quite often) and I took the opportunity to battle rez. I don't think they expected it as they didn't accept right away and I had to resume tanking before I could top them off with an innervate. Blew a couple cooldowns to mitigate the Phantom Blasts in the meantime, if only I could lower the cooldown of bash further or convince PUG DPS to interrupt. Boss went down and I won the trinket, yay. The 22 slot bag dropped that same run, but I didn't win it, I'll just equip the crafted 22 slot bag I made on my rogue as a contingency plan since as I suspected I don't want to run through that instance again for quite a while.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Stupid DPS Tricks

Something I noticed repeatedly tanking Forge of Souls for my 22 slot bag and DPS trinket, DPS like to hit stuff the tank isn't. What are they thinking?

Being a bear I don't have the fancy silence abilities the other tanks do so if there is a caster its is staying where it is unless someone else takes pity on my running around and silences it for me. So this means that on a lot of the pulls in Forge of Souls I make a skull beat it in the head, run around to get a little threat on everything else (mainly to make sure the healer doesn't aggro them) then settle back down with skull and whatever other mobs cared to join me.

I then have my feral faerie fire cooldown to use to keep moderate threat on anything not in my swipe range. More than enough to keep the healer safe and surprisingly often enough to keep aggro from brain-dead DPS. All I have to say to those DPS is hit the gorram skull and try to pick a target the tank is actively tanking otherwise.

I've got a much bigger beef with healers though, for example a aggro whore mage who took over 34% of the heals in a heroic and yet somehow the healer sought fit to keep healing them. Perhaps I've grown a bit bitter over time, or perhaps I am just more pragmatic, after all the less I get hit as a tank the lower my repair bill. In any case if there is a DPS that sees fit to pull before I do, or constantly pulls aggro on unmarked mobs despite having a skull marked for just that reason, then I am going to let them die. Scratch that, I am going to go out of my way to get them killed so long as it doesn't hurt anyone else. It actually makes tanking more interesting/fun.

The number of healers that would go along with my evil plan are few and far between and in fact the only healers I know that would let someone die for those reasons are also tanks. Coincidence? I think not. For the most part healers will heal everyone equally without bias. How boring.

Reduce Your Lag Time 100ms

Perhaps even more depending on how slow your fingers are. ;)

I was recently made aware after over a year of pressing buttons that your spells aren't actually cast until you let the key go. This means that when you go to cast a spell quick to interrupt something or stop someone from dying with a heal there is an extra delay in the time it takes for your finger to not only hit the button, but to lift back up as well.

I only found out about this after I stumbled across an add-on to fix it, SnowfallKeyPress. Of course I didn't believe it as first, but I tried it and sure enough my spells were cast when I let go so I installed the add-on and sure enough they cast right away.

After trying the add-on out in a few instances and raids it was immediately apparent to me that my timing was a little off from what I was used to. Most noticeably was when I was healing I was often healing the wrong person because my heal went off before I had switched targets. I had never noticed how good I had gotten at synchronizing my target switching with my heals. That passed pretty quickly once I got used to the new rhythm.

The second thing I noticed, which is actually beneficial this time, is that I find myself able to interrupt much more reliably. Short cast times or catching an interrupt just as it comes off of cooldown, much easier now. This is why I will be keeping this add-on around.

When I started looking into this it appears many popular add-ons provide similar functionality of their own; so if you use an action bar replacement add-on or something like clique then this add-on might not do anything that isn't already being done.

Friday, May 21, 2010

True Evil

There are plenty of times where people can be inconsiderate, selfish or mean, but once in a while you come across someone purely evil. The type of person that should be locked away from society or squished under a large rock.

I've just started leveling my mage with a friend in outlands starting with hellfire peninsula. We both grabbed the one PVP quest to cap the three bases in the middle and figured we'd do it when we happened to go by.

Well we tried one night and a level 80 priest was there waiting to kill us low-level types. We go down in one or two hits. Corpse run back and my friend gets away, I don't. I can totally understand and forgive someone attacking a flagged player in a PVP location without looking at their level, once. If you go out of your way to kill them a second time knowing you won't get anything out of it then you are just a jerk. It was late and we gave up for the evening.

The next time we go and cap the first one only to be steamrolled seconds later by a hunter and paladin who then proceed to camp our corpses. I was about to give up when I decided to flip to my main, get some help and trounce the punks. We did.

Capped the other two without any competition and headed back to honor hold to turn in our quest. This is when asshattery turns to evil and the paladin, Renderence of Perenolde, swoops in on a flying mount and decided to one shot our low-level alts in town.

Funny how he didn't want to attack our mains of his own level, but had no problem attacking characters over 15 levels lower.

It is one thing to attack someone in a PVP area who is flagged, no matter the level or reason, since if they are in the area and flagged they are sort of consenting to be killed. Even still it isn't nice to gank lower level toons.

A line gets crossed though when you follow someone obviously no longer interested in PVP and ambush them. In a grossly unfair fight no less where you have no chance of losing.

These types of people go to a special hell with toy trains and mohawk grenades.

Another Dream

It started out going to work, but I got to pull into the loading dock which appeared as a garage rather than the parking lot. It was Thanksgiving and I was offered three platters of goodies to take home.

I was also asked to watch a coworker's mice for a day sometime in the future. This surprised me even in the dream, but I still agreed.

When I go to leave I open the garage door to find that just outside there is a lot of junk piled up, old bicycles and stuff. It had obviously been there for a while and somehow I had gotten into the garage anyway.

It didn't seem to matter because I got out again in whatever mysterious way I got in and found myself next in my parent's back yard in a red canoe with my mother and grandfather after I had unloaded my goodies.

I took out a small packet of tiny Oreos (like quarter inch diameter tiny) and opened them. They were vanilla on one side and chocolate on the other with white frosting in between. I offered then to my mom then had some myself.

Looking around I notice the terrain is quite different from reality and about half the backyard is flooded. The water was perfectly calm where we were which would usually be a hill.

It was probably no coincidence that things started to move soon after I noticed that. From the treeline on the back edge of the yard a tall grey dead tree floated upright towards us narrowly missing the boat. The tree was missing all but the very stubs of its branches.

A second dead tree floated out and that one bumps the end of the canoe sending us speeding down the hill where we stop in calm water again at the bottom.

At this point I am made aware that we are trying not to get wet for some reason and the canoe, now made of raw rough wood, has a hole in it. My mother and I climb out to shore without getting wet to try to find something to patch the hole inside.

After getting back up the hill we turn around to find my grandfather sitting on the patio at the bottom of the hill in front of a slider door out from the basement, he was all wet and told us he was going to sit there to dry out.

Next we go through the house and down to the basement to go out to the patio. A pterodactyl swoops down and grabs something off the patio and flys off. I then notice a pair of babies which are covered in bright red fluffy down with white spots. We go out to bring my grandfather inside and they come at us nipping and pushing. They seem rather strong for their size. The dog get out in the process and goes after one. I get the dog back in and go back out to help trying to keep one that followed me from getting in.

Then I wake up to my alarm clock.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Something to Remember Me By

PVP is all about the dying and everyone and anyone will die at some point. In an ideal PVP world all things being equal everyone would lose half the time and win the other half.

Once you come to terms with your own fleeting mortality you can come to appreciate sharing a little something with whomever got that killing blow.

For starters I like to share a faerie fire with rogues and other druids. Rogues have to burn a cooldown if they want to stealth, but druids are out of luck until it wears off. Nothing annoys a stealthy player more than not being able too.

The next step up, once you have the resilience to survive long enough to pull it off, is to leave your enemy with a 5 combo point rip. Which brings me to a story about why druids and paladins should avoid each other in 1 on 1 combat.

I was nearing the end of an Arathi Basin and things were not looking good. I stealthed up to the lumber mill and found a single paladin guarding the flag, but standing just inside the building pacing and jumping.

I still needed to assault a flag with my orphan so I took a chance hoping they would not attack and would of been more than happy to retake the flag right after I was done. They attacked instead.

It was quite the fight, each of us burning pretty much every cooldown we had over the course of the fight, some of them more than once if they had cooldowns under 3 minutes. Each of us had killed each other three times over when we both ran out of tricks.

I went down in a last stitch effort to heal myself before getting a hammer of wrath to the head (which was followed by one of those nasty instant exorcisms), but I still still had a full power rip ticking away which took that paladin out seconds later while spamming flash of light. It was a laugh out loud moment.

Alliance lost that battleground before I even got the chance to rez and I requeued for another random battleground and got Isle of Conquest. Usually I run up and fight at the workshop then fall back and defend the keep, but this time I listened to some yahoo that told a couple groups to take the hangar. It sounded like a nice change of pace so I went with it.

I met that same paladin up at the top as they ran in to attack, I pounced on them like white on rice and they just bubbled and jumped off the edge. :(

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

School of Hard Knocks

I thought this achievement would be much worse than it was, but it turns out horde hate it just as much as the alliance and vice versa. What this means is that it is more than likely that some sort of mutually beneficial if only temporary truce will be present at the start of 3 of the 4 battlegrounds.

Eye of the Storm is a free for all against not only the opposing faction, but your own as well so everyone is on their own there if they didn't bring their own help.

So in the spirit of cooperation here are the rules of engagement I discovered doing this achievement yesterday evening. First for returning a flag in Warsong Gulch, let the opposing team take your flag unopposed as they may be trying to help and drop it right away, if they leave the room with the flag (or try) then they should be eliminated. Also if the opposing faction comes in too great of numbers all bets are off and assume the worst. Once the flag is dropped everyone should be nice about taking turns returning it and if you have already done it run over to the other side and extend the same courtesy to the other side. Keep in mind that not everyone knows to right click the flag buff to drop it and some players will be using an ability such as stealth or feign death to drop a flag, so don't beat on them if they don't drop it immediately.

Once everyone has returned a flag that needed to, or enough people get restless the truce ends and the battleground proceeds "normally". I noticed even though we were still competing for a win that there was still a cease fire when players weren't fighting over a flag. You could still walk around freely in the opposing faction base without being attacked so long as you minded your manners.

Next up is capping a tower in Alterac Valley. There is going to be a race among your own faction to run to a tower and cap it before everyone else. This is a little annoying as it is very easy to fall off a spiral staircase when you are in a hurry. No worries here though, the opposing faction will likely come and help you out. Like Warsong Gulch allow the opposing faction to retake the tower freely so long as your faction overwhelms the horde force so that if a fight did break out you would surely win (even those with good intentions can change their mind when odds are in their favor). Once the flag reappears again everyone takes turns capping it until everyone is done. This is going to happen at towers closer to the middle and those who have already done it or aren't interested will head to the ends to down the bosses. Once you are finished it would be nice to head back to your own towers and help the opposing faction in the same way.

This truce really only applies to the central towers and also somewhat to the roads (again in the central portion of the map) as single runners could be going to help. The far south and north are business as usual and by usual I mean a partial turtle as both sides should probably have a few defending their bosses to make sure they don't lose while all this good will is taking place in the middle of the map.

The last "easy" one is assaulting a flag in Arathi Basin. The battle starts off with your own faction racing to assault the flags first, then for a time the battle is the same as any other Arathi Basin until the flags are captured. At this point the truce begins, allow the opposing faction to approach and assault your flag so long as they do not come in a large number to overwhelm the group you are guarding the flag with. The opposing faction gets credit for assaulting your flag and it is immediately defended by someone clicking on it again. At the same time if you need to assault a flag you walk up to an enemy controlled flag and assault it without attacking anyone. If you are attacked then try another flag. There will be some players that will just try to be mean, but it's really no skin off their nose since the flag is only lost for a second or two and hardly effects the outcome of the battleground.

This truce will likely last the entire duration of the battleground, so long as you walk up to an enemy flag in a non-threatening manner you probably won't be attacked.

The last one is capturing a flag in Eye of the Storm and this is totally going to be a grind. Both your faction and the opposing faction, 30 players in all likely want to grab that flag and return it to their base. The center of the map around the flag spawn is going to be brutal and maybe half a dozen people will actually get to do it any given battleground if they are lucky. It is possible that a battleground could end without anyone capturing a flag.

In this case I left it up to Karma, I tried my best to grab the flag and when the opposing faction was trying to grab the flag I fought them off rather than try to grab the flag myself. I got lucky and the third flag spawn in my second Eye of the Storm I got it and capped it.

My next step would of been to recruit some help to fend off the opposing faction (and possibly my own in the form of a pally bubble canceling the flag pick-up cast).

Good luck out there! When it feels hopeless keep in mind that the other side is just as frustrated and possibly annoyed as you are and will probably try and help you out for a favor in return if given the chance.

Friday, April 30, 2010

1 in 33333 Raid!

Last night in ICC10 not one, not two, but three iLevel 264 BOE epics dropped...

Ring of Rotting Sinew from a Deathspeaker High Priest, 2% chance.

Leggings of Dubious Charms from a Val'kyr Herald, 3% chance.

Rowan's Rifle of Silver Bullets from Stinky, 5% chance.

For a combined chance of .00003% or 1 in 33333 according to wowhead's drop rates. Should be pretty accurate given the few thousand data points for each mob/item.

33333 raids is 641 years of weekly raids!

Considering we run three and a half hours a week that would be over 13 years of solid raiding if it were possible to repeat the instance back to back.

And after all that can you believe that the shirt from Precious didn't drop once yet with a 30% drop rate? Come on. :)

Not likely to see that happen again in any case.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

I recently updated a couple old posts:

Whats in a Name? describes how I came up with my character names and

Add-Ons I Use lists all the add-ons I currently use.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Raiding Pro Choice

Wrath made 10 mans an option where as before there was really only one or two raids and they didn't have the same sense of progression that the 25 man content had. Still popular opinion places 25-man content higher in the pecking order and those who choose 10 man content over 25 man content are not taken as seriously and probably openly mocked in a PUG environment.

The idea of 25 man content providing better rewards never really made sense to me. For the most part 25 man content is as easy if not easier than 10 man content. I attribute that mainly to the diminished effects of a single raiders performance effecting the outcome compared to a ten man where people are not only more responsible for their chosen role, but may also be asked to fill a second role at times often on the fly.

The main argument of why 25 mans should provide better rewards is one of logistics, it is harder to get 25 people together. That added investment of time and effort is only made by a few people out of the 25 involved though, most players in a 25 man have less responsibility that they would of had in a 10 man. So if it were feasible it should be the organizers of the raid getting the extra rewards, not everyone.

So the recently announced changes for Cataclysm are much closer to how I think things should be, but if it were me I would provide proportional rewards in 25 man, but not any more per person than 10-man content. So more item and more gold, but not more badges since they are given to everyone and don't get shared.

If 25 mans become less popular as a result that only means that people were running for the rewards and not because they preferred them over 10 mans. Most of them weren't the ones actually organizing the runs anyway and I bet that those who organized runs in the past will continue to do so whether it be a 10 man or a 25 man run.

I think the next step for Blizzard will be to further equalize the two and perhaps scale content to a variable number of players even if it is only done for each 5 players. Having the ability to run with 10, 15, 20 or 25 for the same amount of reward per person would further emphasize the bring the player idea by allowing people to bring everyone they wanted without having to bench someone or search for fill-ins. That is two more levels of content to balance around, but it would be just an interpolation of the 10 and 25 man versions.

I'm pretty sure I will be running 10 mans pretty much exclusively in the next expansion and only run 25 man content for things like raid quests (assuming they continue them) where there are a lot of people interested in one boss/raid that wouldn't normally be. The best part of that being that I can play with the small group I prefer and not feel held back in the sense that I can't get the better rewards.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

I'm Obviously an Egg Ninja

I did all the Noblegarden achievements yesterday since my new thing is to get the long strange trip meta for the 310% flying speed in flight form. That meant a lot of egg gathering which in turn meant lots of competition for a limited resource. Luckily for me few can compete with a feral druid when it comes to hunting, no matter what the quarry. We are fast, we are sneaky and we have a 30 yard range omnidirectional instant to tag stuff.

I chose the night elf starting area since I figured it would be less popular than most any I like the scenery there. Pop on the Buffy musical soundtrack (hadn't heard it in forever) and it is go time.

First I flipped to my PVP gear for the 4 piece 15% outdoor speed boost which when combined with travel form puts me at 61% faster than everyone else without any speed enhancement. When anyone uses their 60% speed boosting egg basket I am still just a little faster. Next, as if that weren't advantage enough, I enabled auto loot for one click egg grabbing.

Only cat dash and rogue sprint were faster and are on such long cooldowns that it wasn't a concern. Mounting also provides a speed advantage but with the frequent stops remounting becomes more of a burden than the benefit of additional speed (you may beat me to one egg, but I will get the next two).

So after a few laps I am getting really good at it as I learn all the spawn locations. I'm raking in eggs faster than I can loot the chocolate out of them. Around this time I get a whisper, "u ass". Certainly not a very nice greeting so I replied, "If you move faster, you'd see less of it." Then they responded something along the lines of, "whatever you rude something or other".

Sure I beat them to an egg, sure they clicked on the same one I did and sure I clicked on the second one there before they did as well, but is that wrong? I certainly didn't insult anyone when they beat me to an egg, I just moved on, after all I can't be everywhere at once and neither can anyone else.

By far my favorite eggs to grab were from pseudo AFK players camping one spawn and obviously doing something else to keep them occupied. Usually I avoid an egg with someone next to it, but after a few rotations it was easy to pick out the folks that were just sitting there and there was much less competition for those eggs as most would assume those eggs would be gone by the time they got to them.

Usually even I would consider it in bad form to grab something that someone is obviously waiting for, but in this case there are two groups of people: those that are content to watch a single spawn or small cluster and watch a movie and those that put all their attention toward egg gathering and just want to get it over with. I fall into the latter category obviously. If you don't want to put in the effort to notice you have an egg in front of you before I run over and grab it then I have no sympathy.

I feel a little bad for the folks that are trying and just don't have the speed and/or reflexes of a hasted melee veteran (caster types don't usually have that skill set as developed), but there are plenty of eggs in the sea; go the other direction, don't pick on me for using every advantage I have available to me. My absolute favorite egg snatch was a cat charge through the air onto a rabbit critter right next to an egg.

Still I got pretty bored of egg gathering by the end and am happy that I will not have to do it again (queuing for a random in the middle was a nice diversion). I'm sure many others are happy I won't be snatching eggs out from under them as well, but there are other druids out there and druids are a pretty savvy bunch when it comes to making the best use of their class. I can say one thing though, it wasn't nearly as bad as the Turkinator.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Something New!

After reading a few web comics I have new found confidence in my skills as an artist. Well not so much that as I have realized that comics can be funny even if the drawing is simplistic. Anyway enjoy!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

More Interesting Gear Coming in Cataclysm?

Well for starters the cataclysm changes that were revealed in a blue post not too long ago came as a bit of a let down to me. I think a lot of it is that they just aren't telling us everything yet and in those hairy details are where my concerns lie.

First off, one thing that bothers me currently about a lot of stats is there isn't a good way for your average player to figure out how much of a certain stat they need without going to a third party source. It is fairly easy to discern which stats we want, like agility is really nice for feral druids, but when it comes to things like expertise and hit there comes a point where intuition has diminishing returns.

The mouse overs do a good job of explaining what the stat does and hitting more and getting dodged or parried less sounds wonderful, but shouldn't there be some indication that your chance of missing or of being dodged or parried is reaching zero? It is a good thing there are people that have nothing better to do that play dress up and whack things for hours to find out something blizzard already knows. Doesn't sound much fun to me, but then again I'm not much of a theorycrafter. Metagaming kills immersion and all that jazz.

The main problem with showing some concrete percentages is that those values are a moving target depending on what you are hitting. But it just so happens that Blizzard made monster avoidance based entirely off of level, targets of lower level are easier to hit and targets of higher level are harder to hit. So unless some oddball creature out there breaks with tradition displaying meaningful data to players is sort of trivial.

Show the lowest chance to miss, be dodged or be parried along with the level that percentage is based on. This way you know that anything of a lower level you are guaranteed to hit, not be dodged or not be parried and anything with a higher level would have a larger chance. It's not really important to know an exact number for every level so long as there is enough information there to know if you've hit a cap or not and about where you are. Along with that % in the tool tip keep the arbitrary stat values more or less (more on that next) as they are convenient for quick comparisons with known values once those known values are derived.

This type of information would be especially handy on the fly while leveling where there isn't a whole lot of information available since all the thoerycrafting is done at max level. Sure there are a few formulas derived that can be applied to lower levels, but who is going to do that?

The second issue I have with the current system of stats aside from all the values given being completely arbitrary is that there is not one, but sometimes two and often three arbitrary values for the same thing. Hit rating, melee hit and spell hit for example. If you count arbitrary percentages that is four arbitrary values.

I can accept that casters require more hit rating even though I am not sure why that needs to be the case, but what I don't understand is why there needs to be a second value to represent hit rating in another form. What this leads to is one stat on my gear which I have to convert to figure out what the end result will be on the final stat. This is easy enough with gear when you just try it on, but when you are trying to figure out which gems or enchants to place on your gear it quickly becomes overly tedious. In addition to a simple addition/subtraction there is an extra multiplication/division by some arbitrary conversion factor which once again must be derived or obtained by a third party.

With any luck Blizzard thought of all that and just didn't tell us, but I doubt it. Lets get back to what they did think of though.

I like the removal of armor penetration, attack power and spell power. Trying to remember for each class which stats had a 1 or a two conversion factor from base stats was never easy, especially when it changed. It is also nice to compare apples to apples rather than weigh the pros and cons of two stats that basically do the same thing in a different way. Those changes are really nice. Spirit and MP5 fall into the same category. Now if only hit rating, melee hit and spell hit all became simply hit.

Removing defense was nice for bears, but I'm not sure it really mattered for anyone else. Bears lost defense because they were tired of making defense leather for one half of a talent tree of one class. I'm surprise they haven't found a way for holy paladins to heal with strength and regen with stamina. Anyway, as a result of not needing defense there is a lot of gear with defense on it like necks and rings that we bears would rather see with straight up dodge. So if all the defense on ring and necks or at least on more items is turned into dodge, bears win! If they convert it into a mix of dodge, parry and block then it is a wash. I would imagine a lot more bear friendly gear comes out of this change though.

The other main part of the changes was there is a whole lot less choice as to what gear people should be wearing and with that lessened choice there is a lot less work for Blizzard to do in coming up with loot. My guess is that nothing much will come of that besides less gear to chose from considering the emphasis that has been placed recently on how many different pieces of gear were created. I am hoping though that that effort usually required to appease a few specific classes/specs will be put toward making more interesting procs and effects for everyone. I've seen a few blue posts promoting weapon and trinket procs as something they enjoy playing with, maybe procs on armor could be next, who knows.

It could just be that the reduced workload on gear will be redirected towards other things like the world being blown apart. The world only blows up once though so those content patches have the opportunity to have some really neat stuff.