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?