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.