Thursday, December 29, 2011

Subtlety Rogues for Felines

If you've got your kitty DPS rotation down pact now, and as an added bonus did well with the slightly more difficult rotation in wrath, you are in a prime position to pick up a subtlety rogue and play like a pro. They are just that similar.

In fact I have come to enjoy subtlety DPS over kitty DPS after playing my rogue more regularly; cat form comes off as a cheap imitation afterwards. More so now that most all of the tanking utility will be removed from the feral DPS spec. What utility will kitties have left? A lackluster innervate, a battle rez that two other classes provide, and some limited off healing ability which would be time better spent DPSing. Rest in peace hero bear, you will be in our hearts, always.

Back to subtlety DPS; rogues like cats like to start off in stealth, it is even more important for subtlety rogues because we get a buff called 'Master of Subtlety' buffing our damage by 10% for 6 seconds after breaking stealth. Like cats we also like to jump into combat with 'Shadowstep' which bears a striking similarity to a cat's 'Feral Charge'. Then we unleash an opener, 'Ambush', for big damage just like a cat would use 'Ravage'. More on this later, but just like a cat will also use 'Feral Charge' with the 'Stampede' talent to get off additional 'Ravage's off during combat, rogues too will use 'Shadowstep' with 'Shadow Dance' to get off additional 'Ambush'es.

Now is a good time to mention the first difference for playing your rogue. You'll want to macro 'Premeditation' and 'Pickpocket' into all of your openers: 'Cheap Shot' ('Pounce' to cats), 'Garrote' (rogues get one more opener than cats, it's a silence/bleed instead of a stun/bleed) and 'Ambush'. Neither ability triggers the global cooldown so you can have them go off invisibly behind the scenes. Be sure to have auto loot enabled so you don't have loot windows pop up at the start of combat. Optionally you could also not macro 'Pickpocket' into your openers, but I find I don't otherwise remember to 'Pickpocket' in fast paced dungeons or raids.

Once you are out of stealth it is time to start building combo points, oh wait, you already have 5. Did I mention subtlety rogues build combo points a hell of a lot faster than cats (and other rogues for that matter)? So while your cat would be applying 'Mangle', 'Faerie Fire', 'Rake' and 'Shred'ding to get some combo points, your rogue already has to pick out a finisher.

Subtlety rogues use four finishers to maintain 2 buffs ('Slice and Dice' and 'Recuperate') and one debuff ('Rupture'). Cats on the other hand only use three finishers to maintain one buff ('Savage Roar') and one debuff ('Rip'). Cats always prioritize 'Rip' over 'Savage Roar', but rogues are a little more complicated.

If you are fresh out of stealth, and have your 10% damage buff, 'Rupture' is your best choice if you will be maintaining it for a few minutes; think boss fight. Otherwise it is better to start with 'Slice and Dice', this is what you will start with on trash. If 'Slice and Dice' is already up, and your target will stay alive for 20 seconds or so for the bleed to tick a while, then you should apply 'Rupture', otherwise pop 'Recuperate'. When both your 'Slice and Dice' and 'Recuperate' don't need to be refreshed, use 'Eviscerate' to do some damage and dump your combo points. 'Eviscerate' will also refresh your 'Rupture'; much like 'Blood in the Water' cause your 'Ferocious Bite' to refresh 'Rip', but all the time. Unlike cats which will apply 'Rip' even if it will only tick a couple times, rogues will forgo their long term bleed entirely and just use 'Eviscerate' on short fights.

I suppose it is a good time to mention 'Honor Among Thieves'. Subtlety rogues not only generate extra combo points for their own crits like cats do, they also generate extra combo points for everyone else's (including healers, but more on that in a moment). Just like it is beneficial for cats to just auto attack and pool energy at times, to prepare for a 'Berserk' for example; it is doubly important for subtlety rogues to pool energy prior to gaining that 5th combo point. If we use an ability to get that last combo point ourselves we'll have wasted a combo point that would have been gained through 'Honor Among Thieves', but if we sit there a moment at four combo points we get the last combo point free and have enough energy saved up to use a finisher immediately so as to not waste the next free combo point that comes our way. Even outside of a group auto attacks and the bleed from 'Glyph of Hemorrhage' will get us that 5th combo point while pooling energy. It is a little slower, but at higher gear levels you can pull off your usual rotation solo and/or on a combat dummy.

I mentioned gaining combo points from healers earlier. You can use this to your advantage gaining combo points out of combat between or before pulls, so long as you have a mob targetted. This is a great way to get 'Slice and Dice' up before you even start attacking for maximum damage. Healers are usually tossing heals around after/before a pull so be sure to take advantage of thier crits.

Now back to generating combo points yourself, like those workaday cats do. You'll want to apply and maintain 'Hemorrhage' which when glyphed is sort of like a combination of 'Mangle' and 'Rake'. 'Hemorrhage' is also your primary combo point generator when you are forced to attack from the front, just like 'Mangle' for cats. When 'Hemorrhage' is up, and you can get behind your target, you'll use 'Backstab' to generate combo point (just up to four remember).

When if comes to DPS cooldowns subtlety rogues have four: 'Shadowstep' which really just enhances the other three, 'Shadow Dance', 'Vanish' and 'Preparation'. All these cooldown share a common goal, which is to use 'Ambush' as much as possible. 'Shadowstep' buffs the damage of your next 'Ambush' so you want to use it right before you 'Vanish'/'Ambush' or in the case of 'Shadow Dance' you want to use 'Shadowstep' after the first 'Ambush' (I'll get into details in a moment). 'Preparation' resets the cooldown on vanish allowing you to use it more often as a DPS cooldown.

Now as awe inspiring as it might be on a short fight we don't want to blow all these cooldowns in rapid succession on a long fight. Well not within the same ten seconds anyway. 'Ambush', along with our other two openers, provides an armor bypassing buff via the 'Find Weakness' talent that lasts for ten seconds. Bypassing 70% of our targets armor is quite the DPS boost. This is why when we use 'Shadow Dance' we don't buff 'Ambush' with our 'Shadowstep' ability until the second 'Ambush'. That allows us to have our empowered 'Ambush' benefit from 'Find Weakness'. Oh yeah, this is deep stuff; just imagine the possibilities of working these cooldowns into specific boss fights. There is a reason Subtlety has the highest potential damage output of any class/spec.

Let's talk about survivability and utility now. Cats have two cooldowns to reduce incoming damage: 'Survival Instincts' and 'Barkskin'. In addition to that cats have the passive healing provided by 'Leader of the Pack', and if glyphed for it 'Ferocious Bite' also provides a self heal. This is all well and good, but kitties are still gonna get tore up pretty bad.

Rogues large damage reduction cooldown 'Evasion' avoids damage rather than reducing it. We also have 'Cloak of Shadows' to remove any dots and reduce incoming magic damage or 'Combat Readiness' which reduces incoming physical damage and shares a cooldown with 'Cloak of Shadows'. These abilities only work for direct damage though. What to we rogues do about AOE damage? Laugh it off for the most part. Rogues have an ability called 'Feint' which like 'Cower' reduced aggro, but it also reduces AOE damage by 50% (this can be talented for up to 80%). So rogues have some serious staying power in AOE situations. That doesn't even include the healing provided by 'Recuperate' that keeps us pretty close to topped off while everyone else's health bars are dropping like rocks.

Speaking of AOE, subtlety rogues don't. It's not that we can't, the 'Fan of Knives' button is there; our single target rotation just does more damage. Hopefully that will change in the future, but right now subtlety does the lowest AOE damage of any class/spec. It is more laughable than shaman AOE at its worst. So as a cat coming from a 'Swipe' spamming AOE utopia, be prepared to be disappointed. Of course if there are a bazillion little mobs that dies quickly in a group it is better to AOE, but it won't happen often. Keep 'Wound Poison' on your thrown weapon just in case, it works out to more damage than 'Instant Poison' for subtlety AOE.

I suppose poisons are a new mechanic for cats. You go to the poison vendor and buy a bunch of each, but more 'Instant Poison' and 'Deadly Poison' as these will go on your mainhand and offhand daggers respectively. See how I snuck that in there, subtlety should be using daggers.

For completeness sake I will mention the last few remaining rogue abilities you should be aware of. 'Gouge' is a frontal attack which will incapacitate your target until it takes damage, bleed effects don't count if you are talented correctly into 'Sanguinary Vein'. You can probably stick this in the same spot you have 'Rake' on your cat.

A quick note on where to stick abilities, most subtlety abilities have abilities almost exactly the same as cat abilities so you should stick them in the same spots to ease your transition. I mention sticking 'Gouge' where you had 'Rake', but a couple other dissimilar abilities I stuck in the same spots are: 'Slice and Dice'/'Savage Roar' and 'Recuperate'/'Tiger's Fury.

I already mentioned 'Pounce' and 'Cheap Shot' being equivalent opening stuns; 'Kidney Shot' is the equivalent finishing stun to 'Maim'. Rogues don't have a bash like cats do flipping to bear, but 'Gouge' fills that role rather well.

Cats can remove enrage/frenzy effects with 'Soothe' which rogues can do with 'Shiv'. Cats can also use 'Remove Corruption' to remove curses which rogues would use 'Cloak of Shadows' for. These are good abilities to keep in similar places between classes.

So far as crowd control goes rogues have 'Sap' which can only be used on mobs out of combat, but when glyphed lasts for 3 minutes. If that isn't long enough rogues also have 'Blind' which will cause a mob to wander around for another full minute.

That brings us to the last couple rogue only utility abilities: 'Smoke Bomb' and 'Tricks of the Trade'. Smoke bomb isn't useful in many places, it just stops direct damage spells from hitting people inside it. Sometime it is useful, but not too often.

‘Tricks of the Trade’ on the other hand is an awesome ability, and should be used often. It behaves a lot like misdirect, but in addition to redirecting your aggro to someone else, it also provides a damage buff to whomever you "tricks" to. As you can imagine this leads to pairs of rogues "tricksing" one another throughout a fight to increase each other’s damage. Since they are just redirecting their threat to each other that portion of the ability cancels itself out. Usually you'll just "tricks" the tank to avoid pulling aggro early in the fight, but you can also use it on a DPS to boost their damage so long as the tank can maintain aggro (not so much an issue anymore).

So concludes this massive wall of text giving anyone familiar with kitty DPS a massive head start into subtlety DPS.

Fear and Vengeance

The first incarnation of what could become a pair of legendary rogue daggers is pretty easy to obtain. The two parts of the quest line that are potentially the most difficult are: finding a dragon soul raid group that has killed the first 3 bosses and will let you pickpocket the fourth after the trash is cleared, and getting together and subsequently parting with the non-negotiable 10k gold required to complete the second quest.

The pickpocketing itself is very easy and rumors of a 15 minute wait between rogues is greatly exaggerated. A rogue can pull the boss, vanish, and proceed to pickpocket a freshly respawned quest item with no waiting (unless your vanish was on cooldown for some reason).

Many groups have been charging rogues admission to come in and pickpocket. Certainly a good option for anyone who isn't part of a sufficiently progressed dragon soul raid group, and also doesn't know anyone that is. It's really no trouble at all to bring in a rogue with a mass summon while the group takes a short break they would have likely taken anyway.

Oh, and most importantly, remember to turn in your pickpocket quest before you leave the instance and pick up the next quest. If you don't you'll have to find another raid instance to enter just to turn it in.

So now you're no longer at the mercy of a raid group, you've spent your 10k, it's time for the fun part. These quests are a lot of fun, almost worth the 10k just to play the rogue minigames. The first "warmup" quest is to infiltrate Ravenholdt Manor without being detected.

I won't spoil any of the fun, but there is a new stealth mechanic for these quests where you have to evade mobs with heightened senses. There will be a large red circle around your feet showing how close you can get before being detected. There isn't any wrong way to sneak around the mobs so long as you get past them, and if you screw up a few times you get ported back to the beginning to try again, no penalty.

You'll be using pretty much every ability in your rogue bag of tricks to complete these stealth quests: you can sap a mob so you can walk through it, you can distract mobs so you can walk behind them, vanish or cloak of shadows will both remove your red circle temporarily so that you can sneak around as if the mobs didn't have heightened senses, and if you are specced into subtlety you can shadowstep behind mobs and continue undetected.

The manor is easy to sneak into, I got it first try without any prior knowledge. The real fun is on the next quest where you need to sneak deep into Gilneas. It is pretty much a trial and error process of finding a path through that works best for you. There are a lot of pats walking all over the place and there are very narrow corridors through which to sneak between mobs. A lot of time is spent sitting in a safe spot and watching for where to make your next move.

You'll be happy to know that when you make it to Creed you don't have to sneak through all the mobs again if you fail to kill him. You get to run right back to your corpse and try again. Rumor has it that even if you leave the area to do something else you can fly back to Creed directly on your mount.

Both of my rogues specs are subtlety; I have a leveling/survivability spec and a raiding/damage spec. I of course did all these quests in my sneakier survivability spec with shorter utility cooldowns and more self healing. Since my damage was pretty low as a result I had to go the route of using blind (preferably glyphed to remove dots) to reset his enrage timer between damage bursts. Assassination and especially combat rogues will have an easier time of beating the two minute enrage timer, but they can only use blind once during the fight to reset the timer.

The fight is mostly move out of circles and avoid his frontal cone breath attack while beating the crap out of him and interrupting his one other spell which hurts a lot and drains energy. You'll also be using damage reduction cooldowns and stuns as often as possible to reduce your damage taken and get in some more powerful attacks from behind (unless you are combat and face roll him from the front).

If there is someone else attacking Creed when you get there, rumor has it you will get credit for the kill just for being there and get ported back to the NPC to complete the quest. So you have the choice of helping to kill Creed and perhaps annoy the rogue wanting to solo him, sit back and watch potentially never getting a chance to try Creed yourself, or fly away and come back later to do it yourself. I'd say if you get put in that position, you should just help kill him and get your daggers.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Bye Bye Resto, Hello Pandas?

I finally did it, I can no longer queue in the dungeon/raid finder with all the checkboxes checked anymore. I dropped my resto spec and teased my hybrid feral spec into a dedicated tanking spec and a dedicated DPS spec.

I never really cared for druid healing once I had tasted shaman healing, but I kept it around anyway because sometimes you just need a healer. I have a couple hundred achievement points on my druid just because I tagged along with group looking for a healer. I can also attribute a large chunk of justice/valor points to my resto spec since I find healing 5-mans to be more fun than tanking or DPSing. Something about the deciding who lives and who dies...

So for the first time since I started playing I actually have a proper DPS spec and a few more quality of life talents in my tanking spec. Well my tanking spec mainly just got the one talent that extends my pulverize buff, and I splurged and stuck a point in stampede. I'm still getting used to the longer pulverize, but it certainly seems to make my tanking rotation less of a lacerate frenzy. Other than that not too exciting on the tanking front; I only moved 3 points.

I moved 9 points to create my feral DPS/PVP spec of doom. Yeah that doesn't sound too exciting either when you think about classes that actually have different trees. I've not really had a chance to DPS yet, but blood in the water is quite nice and I can't wait to get the two piece bonus to enhance it further; I'll be like a subtlety rogue or something. I also really like pouncing and ravaging in combat. Strangely enough what I am most looking forward to is using tranquility to save the day now that I have 50% of my agility as intellect. Hmm... I might even be able to rez more than one person without drinking.

That should be a whole different topic... why are rez's stupid expensive? Classes with a rez still use mass rez on 1-2 people just because it is more efficient.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Transmogrification Woes

Finding the perfect combination of items for your toon isn't easy. You have to use wowhead, the model viewer, or some other tool to browse through hundreds of possibilities, determine if you can actually get the items and where they can be found.

Best case scenario you can craft the item you want, buy it outright from a vendor, solo some old dungeon boss a few times till it drops, or do a few quests to earn it as a reward.

Of course not all items are that easy to get, you'll undoubtedly find some items that drop in raids. Even if you can solo the raid you have to wait a week between attempts. More than likely you'll need to find other people interested in running the raid with you, and that isn't always easy.

Then the absolute worst case scenario are items that are just world or trash drops. Those greens that have a one in a hundred chance of dropping off of mobs of a certain level. I want three of those for my shaman right now and I must say AOE clearing an old vanilla dungeon repeatedly is quite boring.

Of course there is always the auction house, but these hard to find greens are just as rare on the auction house and it certainly isn't worth buying an item on a different realm and spending 25$ to realm transfer it to yourself. I did start to consider it until I realized I had all 10 slots filled.

So I check the auction house every time I am nearby now, and I farm for a while when I can stomach it. It seems the most efficient way to go about transmogrification is to come up with the items you want on as many toons as possible in hopes that some of the farming can be done in parallel. Still I've been doing one at a time, it takes a couple hours to come up with a good looking set.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Paid Profession Change

I've got a realm full of alts with maxed professions, as I am sure many others do. This gets to be a source of some anxiety when a new expansion rolls around. I really like this class and this one, but I'd really need to level this profession. What can you do when your favorite alts don't correspond to your favorite professions?

Retraining a profession from scratch is pretty much the only option, but with all the rare pattern drops and whatnot, it really isn't an option. Plus it is much more enjoyable, and perhaps faster as well, to just keep you professions as is and spend the time to level an alt through new content than it is to grind old content and/or pay dearly for all the mats to relearn a profession.

So I had this brilliant idea that there should be a bind on account tome that you can purchase for gold (or possibly even real money in the blizzard store) that would allow you to record all of your patterns and skill points for a given profession (dropping the profession in the process) and relearning the profession on another toon by using the tome (in the process destroying it).

This would make it possible to move professions around your account quite easily (or at least one realm as BoA items currently work). Spend a decent sum of gold or a few bucks and you'll have your professions exactly as you'd like. I'd certainly shell out the gold/cash for that.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

5 Most Annoying Warcraft "Bugs"

Repairing With Guild Bank

You can only use guild funds to repair if your repair bill is less than or equal to the guild funds available. If your repair bill is higher you either need to pay for it all yourself, or manually repair items one by one to bring your total repair cost down below your available guild funds. Obviously you should be hit the repair with guild funds button and use all of your available funds and have the rest come out of your own pocket if needed.

Switching Enemy Targets Quickly

Often times there is need to flip quickly to a second target and interrupt, crowd control, or even just changing targets because you've just killed your current one. With the introduction of the spells/abilities on your action bars being cast/used on mouse down hitting a hotkey for your interrupt and clicking an enemy at the same time (the click on the enemy slightly before the hotkey) you end up wasting the interrupt on your previous target. Why? Your target doesn't change until you let go of the mouse button.

Spell/Ability Highlighting With Macros

Update: Turns out the highlighting issue was addressed in 4.3 and now works, but I still get to complain about macros not working for special proc'ed abilities.

With Cataclysm came the action bar enhancement that highlights proc enhanced abilities by putting a shiny golden yellow border around them. This feature doesn't work for spells or abilities in macros. Pretty annoying to miss out on a really helpful UI feature just because you can't efficiently play your class without macros. To add insult to injury Some of the procs that enhance abilities also change the name of the ability making macroing the ability exceedingly difficult. For example, hunters can't macro throwing a trap without doing research on the new name of the trap ability when being thrown. Similarly for cats, they cannot macro feral charge with ravage without using the modified spell name "Ravage!".

Can't Use Alt-F4 as a Hotkey

The function keys, specifically F1-F5 are so handy to bind to spells/abilities due to their proximity to WASD, the default movement keys. Of course with the best of intentions I stick only abilities that I would never use my self targeting alt modifier on the F4 key, but once in a while I slip up and boom I have to log back in mid dungeon. Alt-F4 may be a windows shortcut, but the warcraft client can choose to ignore that event and remain running if it were programmed to do so, and it should be.

Can't Transmogrify Directly From Void Storage

This was actually addressed in a blue post recently and said to be a "feature", but it's still damn annoying. The whole point of void storage is to save old gear for sentimental reasons, this is also most likely the gear you are going to use for transmogrification. So every time I get a gear upgrade I have to take the item I want to copy out of void storage, do my transmogrification and put it back. If the additional gold cost is important, then just charge more for the transmogrification when using an item in void storage as a template, but don't make the process annoying.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Symbiosis: Not Just a Failed Mastery Bonus

I read this proposed 5.0 ability and I got hair in my mouth I grinned so wide. Feast your eyes upon this if you've not seen it yet.

Symbiosis - Required Level 87
30 yd range - 4% of base mana - Instant cast

Creates a symbiotic link which grants the Druid one ability belonging to the target's class, varying by the Druid's specialization.

In exchange, grants the target one Druid ability based on their class and combat role.

Lasts 1 hour and persists through death.

Holy crap indeed. No druid in their right mind can resist being excited about this news. Well maybe some of those "caster" druids. Us ferals have a long history of begging, borrowing and stealing abilities from other classes (warriors and rogues come first to mind). What ability screams druid louder than the ability to mimic another class at will.

Of course the first question I asked is what abilities will we get to mimic and what abilities will be we sharing. Well there was also the question of are these the real abilities or a neutered version on a long cooldown. Perhaps we will only get to mimic some of the longer cooldowns of other classes or only some utility abilities. I'm leaning toward utility abilities because utility and druids are like this [crosses fingers]. I'm thinking it will be abilties somewhere between a 20 second and 3 minute cooldown to avoid screwing up druid rotations too badly.

The one preexisting game mechanic that comes to mind when talking about mimicking class abilities is Hex Lord Malacrass's siphon soul ability in Zul'Aman. What works for a boss doesn't necessarily work for a player so I'm not so sure we can glean much from this boss encounter besides some neat things to think about.

I know what I would like to borrow from other classes though. I'd love to nab death grip from death knights for tanking. Antimagic shield could be cool, or some blood worms to follow me around. All of the DK utility I can think of centers around survivability so I'm really not sure if they will pick one ability that all specs will share or provide different ones.

Of course I want to borrow misdirect from hunters. I don't want anything else from them. Maybe a trap, but not really. Most of their utility abilities are ranged weapon or ranged DPS specific. Maybe casters would have more interest in leeching off their resident hunter.

I'll want to borrow avenging wrath from paladins, pink bar gives you wings. Again that is like the only ability I can think of that would interest me. Hammer/fist of justice perhaps. Blizzard sure has their work cut out for them on flushing out this new druid ability.

Mages are full of cool utility. I'd be happy with blink, ice block, frost nova, polymorph, invisibility, spellsteal, mirrored kitties! So many choices.

Stealing leap of faith from priests would be totally awesome. Think of the trouble I could cause combining that ability with feral charge. Although a fear or a mind control would also be pretty cool.

I'm not sure what if anything a druid, feral in particular, can hope to gain from a rogue. We have a rogue, it's called cat form. I guess we could nab cloak of shadows or vanish. Ok I changed my mind I also want evasion. I almost want this new druid ability to give me a random class ability so I can grab one and try again if I get one I don't want right then.

Shaman are a toughie, most of their utility is in the form of totems. I guess it isn't out of the question for a druid channeling a shaman to drop a totem. A tremor totem would be really nice. Perhaps some of their shields or weapon enhancements.

Hmm... warlock. A teleport could be neat. Fear, a curse perhaps. I don't really associate my warlock with utility. Warlocks mostly just hurt stuff.

I'm going to steal directly from the Hex Lord for warriors, I want: heroic leap, mortal strike or spell reflection. It will be very interesting to see what Blizzard comes up with for the actual list.

Of course those ideas are all very selfish, everyone else will want to know what ability druids will be sharing with them in return. I'd imagine barkskin, or innervate, perhaps a HoT. Hard to say as so much of druid utility is forms that other classes won't have. I wonder if it will be of any use for a druid to share abilities with another druid.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Druids, Paladins, Priests and Warriors are Main Material

Neat graph today over at MMO-Champion showing the ratio of different classes at different levels of valor points. Basically what classes are raiding and how often compared to others.

What is interesting is that you can infer which classes people generally use as alts and which classes people generally use as their "mains". Druids, paladins, priests and warriors all trend upwards and have a larger representation at higher valor point levels. Death knights, hunters, mages and rogues all trend downwards although mages stay more constant.

Warlocks and shaman are oddballs in that their representation fluctuates rather than trending up or down. I found shaman particularly interesting because they peak in the mid range of valor points. That is interesting because my shaman is my second raiding toon, but I don't put as much effort in valor point wise as I do on my main. The shaman representation peaking in the mid range indicates to me than many other use their shaman as a secondary raiding toon that they don't play as much as their mains.

My theory on warlocks that peak at 25k valor is that they are also secondary raiding toons for people, but there are also more warlock alts hanging around.

The only other interesting data points I gleaned were that hunters drop off fast, like falling off a cliff fast, and that mages fall off, but not very much at all. My take on this is that hunters are the most popular alt class and mages are appealing to casuals. I earned some warlock points there calling mages casuals. I didn't exactly say that, but what I am getting at is that mages appeal to people playing alts, playing casually as mains, secondary raiding toons and hardcore raiding mains almost equally as much. Not sure what that means, but it is interesting.

What we can take away from all this is that if you are starting a new toon, pick one of the big four: druid, paladin, priest and/or warrior.

Monday, October 31, 2011

New Druid Talents

I thought it would be fun to go through and pick my favorites as they are currently described and "think out loud" at the same time. I'll likely have a strong feral bias as that is the spec I feel most at home playing, but I am bound to have the healer in me speak up at times as well. At least one this is for sure, I won't be mentioning boomkins. Woops, moving on...

Tier One

The first tier of talents are aimed at improving mobility. As a feral druid at heart I can't pull myself away from Feline Swiftness and the base 30% speed increase in cat form. As an added bonus this grants a 10% speed boost when not in cat form, so it's also a good talent for bears as well as healers.

The other two talents in the first tier force you into cat form. This is not generally a good thing when tanking in bear. That and they have cooldowns, moderately long 3 minute cooldowns right now which probably won't change too much.

The first of these is displacer beast which teleports you somewhere random within 20 yards and puts you into stealth for 10 seconds. As a night elf druid I think to myself, I'll just run into the corner, flip to cat and shadowmeld. That only has a two minute cooldown. Shadowmeld is hit or miss already when you manually pick a safe spot, I don't see a random teleport working out too well. All I see in this talent is a way for non-night elf druids to occasionally avoid a repair bill.

The last mobility talent is Tireless Pursuit which is basically dash that breaks roots and snares. Snares we already clear by "power shifting" which I assume will not change and I am guessing we will keep dash as a standard ability as well. So all that is left is the breaking out of roots which a PVP trinket can do and then some on a shorter 2 minute cooldown. Now compared to feral swiftness which is 10/30% speed all the time this grants on average less than a 6% speed boost on an extended run. During a boss fight you'd get to use it two or maybe three times on average, and what is the chance of it being available every time you want it. So even if you never shift into cat feral swiftness is probably better mobility in the long run.

Tier Two

These talents seem targeted at survival. I'm at a bit of a loss for which one is actually the better choice for me without having some numbers to base my decision off of. All three talents provide some healing, but one in particular, Nature's Swiftness, stands out from the pack. Every 3 minutes it allows you to cast a spell usually restricted to caster form from any form and increase the healing/duration of the spell by 50%. This is the bear form battle rez we druids have been dreaming about forever. I also think that this will be replacing the predatory strikes talent which allows cats to do almost the same thing after a 5 combo point finisher. Most of the time I see this being used as a defensive cooldown with healing touch. Just how much that healing touch heals for compared to the other two talents will make or break this one. Lets face it, bears have been battle rezzing for as long as they wished they could do it in bear form and crowd controlling as a tank isn't going to happen aside from the beginning of a pull. This is a straight up 3 minute heal cooldown in a pretty disguise.

The next healing talent doesn't have a disguise, renewal is a 30% heal every two minutes. I'm guessing this will be the winner for tanks, but it all depends on how much healing a healing touch can do as a feral and probably whether or not the 7th tier talent heart of the wild affect the healing done. I can't see this not being better for a feral, especially considering it has a shorter cooldown that nature's swiftness. Nature's swiftness is probably going to be better for healers.

The last healing talent, Cenarion Ward, is a shield that puts a HoT on the target when they next take damage. If the healing from this ability is on par with the other talents of this tier then it is just a button you have to hit 4-6 times as often which seems tedious. So I am thinking renewal for feral druids and nature's swiftness for caster druids.

Tier Three

This tier is pretty boring for ferals. The theme for the tier is creating or maintaining distance between you and your enemies. The first talent is our familiar friend faerie fire with the addition of a 50% slowing effect (think faerie fire applying the infected wounds debuff). I think this is pretty much a non-choice for ferals. Bears rely on faerie fire as a ranged pull and threat generator and cats rely on it for the damage boost from the armor reduction. Not the mention the anti-stealth utility in PVP. I expect this tier to change drastically sometime before the expansion comes out.

Oh, the other two talents. First we have mass entanglement, or as I like to think of it, hungering cold: the druid edition. The one big difference is that it is a targeted AOE crowd control instead of being centered on the caster. The one minute cooldown we already know isn't reliable for add control on boss fights and the two minute cast time in PVP is just asking for an interrupt. All that trouble for an 8 second root. I have decided this talent sucks, you can't even use it in forms.

The last talent makes me smile. Typhoon which you can cast in forms. Bears and cats blasting their targets over cliffs and whatnot. Sadly other than being amusing and potentially useful on a couple gimmicky fights, this isn't all that helpful for ferals. We are a melee spec, why would we want to purposefully blast our targets out of our range? Obviously this is the go to talent for caster druids.

Tier Four

Not sure what the theme of this tier is, unless making you better at your role is a theme. The first talent is wild charge, basically feral charge with a new name to ferals, but now it works for caster druids as well. The odd exception is that it works as a disengage for boomkins, but they are already odd to the point that odd is normal for them. So far this is my favorite talent this tier, but the other two just haven't been flushed out yet enough to actually consider them. Wild charge almost seems like it belongs in tier three.

The second talent, incarnation, appears to make you better at whatever form you happen to be in. More DPS in cat, more healing in tree and theoretically more mitigation in bear and more DPS in moonkin form. This tier has got to be the most interesting choice so far, at least for tanks. Do you choose mobility in the form of a charge, or do you favor additional mitigation? That choice right there makes me think that the talents in this tier won't provide additional mitigation for tanks because what raid tank in their right mind would favor a charge they usually use once over increased survivability once they are in front of the boss.

The third talent, force of nature, much like incarnation, is a boost to your performance, but by summoning adds to help instead of just making yourself better. No details on what the treats will actually do, but I imagine the balance ones will remain unchanged and will probably be shared by cats. The resto treats will probably heal and the bear treants might end up being something similar to army of the dead.

Nothing really to decide for tier four right now, we'll have to wait for more information.

Tier Five

This tier is another one that obviously needs to be reworked, more so than tier three and the whole faerie fire imbalance. The theme of this tier is cool things to do in bear form. Although I suspect that at the very least the flipping to bear will be disassociated with the first talent, demoralizing roar so that caster druids have something to use. Speaking of the first talent, demoralizing roar disorients enemies within 10 yards for 4 seconds, sort of like an AOE bash. This could be handy for non-tanks, but is currently annoying because they would have to return to their non-bear form afterwards wasting a GCD worth of their 4 second CC in the process. This just doesn't seem that exciting for anyone that isn't a bear tank.

The second talent, ursol's vortex, is like super death grip for bears or cats for that matter since it doesn't seem to have a taunt built into it. There is absolutely no reason why a caster druid would want to suck enemies to them, so again this is mainly a bear talent. The interesting part of this talent though is that if a bear gave up charge in tier four for some yet unknown mitigation talent they would still have a gap closer. This talent would even make faerie fire less important if you can suck ranged casters right into the melee puddle.

The last talent, and quite possibly my favorite talent in the entire tree, is bear hug. Grabs an enemy into a strange combination of a channeled crowd control and damage over time. Basically you hop in bear form and squish the life (or unlife) out of your target. The vortex does sound neat, but I don't think I could pass up giving my enemies a big ol' bear hug.

Tier Six

The theme of the last tier seems to be something along the lines of, be all the hybrid you can be. The first talent, heart of the wild, makes it possible for all druids to go "hero bear" and save the day. Every six minutes for 45 seconds you can flip to bear and gain 95% more armor and have your hit also count as expertise. It also converts 50% int to agility for casters so they could in theory go kitty fo some silly reason, or more interestingly it converts 50% agility to int so cats, or bears in theory, can do some healing in a pinch. Very interesting talent.

The next talent, master shapeshifter, doesn't seem as cool as heart of the wild, in fact it seems pretty stupid, but it doesn't have a cooldown. Non-instant spells give you an attack power buff and melee abilities give you a spell damage buff. The only spec interested in spell damage are boomkins, who would never melee. And the only non-instant spells a feral would cast are maybe crowd control abilities. The buff stack up to three times and is consumed when an ability makes use of the buff. Really the only purpose I can think for it is skull bash for balance druids and crowd control for ferals. In either case the buff makes up for the damage loss from flipping forms for utility. Obviously healers and tanks need not apply.

The final talent called disentanglement causes shapeshifting to remove roots in addition to healing 20% of your maximum health on a 30 second internal cooldown. All I can think is how much I am going to kill frost mages with this talent in PVP. This also seems to be the preferred healer on this tier.

All in all I see at least three talents I am going to want to flip between regularly depending on what I am doing (raid, dungeon or PVP). Good thing they promised talent switching would be as easy as glyph switching.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


You know what excites me most about the next expansion. It's not pandas, it's not monks, and yet both are contributing factors. It's the hope of breaking that 10 character limit on any given realm.

I've tried making alts on other realms, meeting new people, trying to keep up with another community, and then losing touch after playing on my main realm exclusively for a few weeks. It just doesn't work for me, and as a result those other toons collect dust since the community is an important part of the game for me. Past the starting area anyway.

I always found the starting areas to be the most immersive and exciting parts of the game. I create a brand new character, spend a good hour languishing at the character creation screen to get that perfect look, and a name to match. All my hopes and dreams for that toon seem like they could happen tomorrow. Any rudimentary backstory and character personality is also fresh in my mind. All these things make those first 10 or so levels a lot of fun.

Then after neglecting my new toon for a while in favor of max level ones I lose that clarity. I still get excited about a lot of my character names; pretty much all of them thanks to some paid name changes, but any inkling of a personality gets muddled with my own and my character becomes me rather than me becoming my character. Paid race/faction/name changes also have a similar effect on a toon for me.

Let's steer back to the next expansion. The other thing I am really excited about has nothing to do with warcraft aside from being connected to the annual pass (nifty deal awarding a beta invite, mount and diablo 3 for promising to keep your subscription going for another year). I am excited by the prospect of the real money auction house in diablo 3. I have this neat idea that rare items will drop for me once in a while dabbling in diablo and I'll be able to sell them for a buck here and five bucks there that I will be able to spend on warcraft stuff like pets and mounts or perhaps just supplement my subscription.

It is an intriguing thought to think that the time I spend amusing myself with warcraft alts could be replaced by enjoying diablo alts and making money along the way to support my warcraft subscription. In reality I think I'd only get 1-2 months of playtime a year which I would probably spend on pets on mounts instead.

The rest of the new expansion stuff, nothing I wasn't expecting. New areas, new dungeons, new raids. I'll certainly take advantage of all that stuff, but as features go I've got the most interest in the additional character slots. That one tiny feature will have more impact on my long term attachment to the game than any other.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Four Specs!? Say it ain't so.

As a casual raider it was always quite a perk to have my druid ready for anything. Need a tank, fine, need a healer, I can do that, need a DPS, oh I can do that too. I was a little worried when Cataclysm promised further division of bears and cats, but thankfully it never really came to pass. Perhaps the same will happen this time as well.

My current druid speccing algorithm creates two specs, one focused on tanking while also maximizing DPS effectiveness when possible and a second focused entirely on healing. Now worst case scenario MoP will leave some critical cat ability out of the bear spec like shred or mangle. Best case scenario is that they just leave out some of the quality of life cat talents like king of the jungle from the bear spec. I do have one point in king of the jungle right now, and it certainly helps my DPS, but I wouldn't be crippled without it. Other cat friendly talents like stampede or blood in the water I already do without.

Now a blue response explicitly stated when the topic of off-tank DPS was brought up that no other tanks could do it and that druid would no longer be special little snowflakes. I take that to mean that they will be doing something to completely gimp cat DPS in the new bear spec, but I can't imagine what. Maybe it will just be equivalent to DPSing in a "bear spec" now and blues think that is enough. That's certainly not going to dissuade bearcats from speccing bear and keeping a DPS set on hand.

If you look at the talent trees right now there is a ton of overlap between cat and bear talents where the talent does something that is good for a cat and something that is good for a bear or something that is good for both. A truly sadistic developer could tease those all apart and work all the bear stuff into the bear spec while omitting the cat stuff.

I'm not sure that is likely since it was mentioned they were rolling the talents into the baseline abilities. So long as the bearspec retains all the crucial cat baseline abilities then there is nothing to worry about. Can a bear spec live without shred? Probably. It's not really all that important for soloing when you can't be behind your target anyway. Could they award the cat version of mangle to cats and the bear version to bears? That would hinder the bear spec's ability to solo.

So many possibilities, but when does it come to the point where being gimped x% dps isn't worth the ability to heal. I honestly don't heal often on my druid. I did heal a random heroic last night since healers were eligible for the bonus sack, but I can't remember the last time I healed before that. In the past healing has got me into many an informal raid for achievements, gear and amusement. Opportunities that wouldn't have been available if I just stuck to my strengths of dpsing and tanking. Not to say that I'm not proficient at druid healing, I'm actually quite good at it. I just like healing on my shaman more.

One thing is for sure, a cat spec won't be able to seriously tank without the crit immunity and extra mitigation that will undoubtedly be thrown into the bear spec. So the bearcat lifestyle rests squarely on the bear spec. Trispec anyone?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Right Hand, Left Hand, Cooperate!

Once upon a time there were add-ons created to cast spells and use abilities when a hotkey was pressed rather than released. This was largely PVP driven where those few (hundred) milliseconds matter. Of course this was also useful for PVE and I think healers were the first to catch on. Now your mouseover healers (which most healers are) enjoyed the benefits of this right away, but those healers that click on their targets had a slight glitch.

Clicking on a raid/party/unit frame, or any friendly/hostile unit directly, sets your target when the mouse button is released, not when the mouse button is pressed. So as you can imagine, or perhaps as you have experienced first hand, it was very easy to begin casting a spell prior to your new target being selected, negating the benefits of those faster, more responsive, hotkeys.

So the next part of the arms race, largely for the benefit of healers, raid/party/unit frame add-ons added the ability to change your target when you pressed your mouse button instead of when you let go. Life is good again.

Fast forward to the present day; Blizzard finally saw the benefits of having hotkeys work when pressed rather than released, and added the option into the game by default. Sadly they did not see the big picture and the default frames still switch targets when the mouse button is released.

I have recently exposed a new and annoying wrinkle in this arms race between ability usage and target selection when tanking. Often times I will flip targets quickly to taunt, interrupt, or use a ranged ability like faerie fire, but since my target is changed when I release my mouse button I often end up taunting my current target and wasting the cooldown.

Interrupting worshipers on Cho'gall and taunting down spinners on Beth'tilac are just a couple examples of situations where it would really help to flip targets on mouse down rather than mouse up. Unfortunately I'm not sure there is an add-on to do this, or at least I don't know of one yet after searching for a while.

One day target selection and ability usage will consistently use either the key/button pressed event rather than the key/button released event, but in the meantime the left hand will never quite know what the right hand is doing, and vice versa.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Pet Stances No Longer Sufficient

Before 4.2, and after whatever patch last messed with my pet controls, I kept all my pets on defensive 99% of the time. As soon as I started attacking my pet would go in and attack that target and if I told my pet to go after a different target it would do so and then return to its original target. Perfect for PVE where you spend most of your time concentrating on a single target and occasionally focus on burning a secondary target/add down quickly. Most notably 4.2 took away the automatically attack my target when entering combat feature of the old defensive mode. Not a huge deal as I can just macro that feature back into all my shots with something like the following.

/petattack [@pettarget,noexists,@target][@pettarget,dead,@target]

I've yet to try it as I've only done the Thrall chain and one ZG run on my hunter since the patch. One perk of wiping repeatedly on the last boss in ZG was that I got a lot of practice playing with the new pet stances with all those adds. Assist mode was pretty much useless and I felt my pet spent more time running around than actually hitting anything. Not to mention that when assisting it was near to impossible to get my pet back to pull a new add off of me. Defensive mode was best, but I had to pay a lot more attention to managing my pet's target.

I used to use aggressive for waves of mobs and/or PVP when I really didn't care what my pet hit so long as it did it quickly. I haven't PVPed on my hunter for the longest time, but I fondly remember standing back to back with my pet on aggressive to provide 360 degrees of stealth detection. In other words I won't miss it too much, but still assist mode is certainly no replacement for what aggressive stance provided.

One thing I like about assist mode is that it feels a little more like a pet command than the other stances. What I would like to see replace/augment the pet stances are three commands: assist, defend and heel. Assist would behave much like assist does today with the exception that if I specifically command my pet to attack something else it will do that instead and then go back to assisting. Defend would focus on defending me and turn my pet into a pseudo tank focusing on and switching to targets that are attacking me first (to pull them off). Finally the heel command would call your pet back to your side where it would remain until instructed otherwise (basically a rename of what passive does already).

To extend that one step further the assist and defend commands could be used on another friendly target! How cool would it be to ask your pet to go defend your healer, or in a raid/dungeon setting have your pet assist one of the melee DPS or tank. It would totally turn what is still a little bit of a kludgy interface and make it feel like our pets are actually listening to our commands and working alongside us. The immersion factor alone would be enough to make me squeal in delight.

I can only hope that the developers working on the pet changes are thinking something along those lines for a long term plan. Short term the new pet changes are pretty disappointing. Assist mode has your pet actually fighting against your commands at times and defensive mode requires more attention that it did before. New players are going to have a harder time controlling their pets than they did in the past, although they don't have the aggressive mistake to make anymore. I just picture new hunters trying to use the assist mode, getting an add on them while killing another and getting totally frustrated trying to tell their pet to help them get it off.

Oh and while I am listing totally awesome pet enhancements I'd also like to suggest a new commands similar to "go to" called "patrol". Your pet would walk back and forth patrolling between their current location and the location you selected. Basically a carbon copy of a feature that existed in the first three warcraft RTS games. I'm not sure how useful it would be in practice, but it would be fun.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

__ can do it, how hard can it be?

Heal and interrupt, sure no problem. Wait a second, raid healing and interrupting!? Wipe.

Being a shaman means people look your way whenever the word interrupt comes up. We do it at range, we do it often (more often when talented), we do it off the GCD and we don't have resource constraints slowing us down. Again, who thought it was a good idea to have interrupts that cost rage or energy?

So when it came time to do interrupts last night for Halfus my resto Shaman came up the obvious choice given that all other options required two people. That or require me to usurp a DPS spot and stay on Halfus for interrupts causing the adds to go down slower, but that's a better plan B than taking two DPS off adds and putting them on Halfus.

As I mentioned the first attempt at raid healing interruptus was a pretty triumphant failure. I was paying attention to about three too many things when I should have been focusing more on actually interrupting. The result was I missed half the interrupts and also did half the healing I should have been. So yeah, obviously I should be reassigned to a tank.

Tank healing works out much better while interrupting, only two targets to track and I can still splash the raid once in a while for good measure. I was able to focus much more on interrupting and rely on the other healers to watch the raid more closely than, "ooh a clump of people, healing rain". I found my rhythm and interrupts went much more smoothly. I'd compare it to tanking the beam boss in heroic Blackrock Caverns, while interrupting and beam dancing. It is actually a pretty good recipe for success in a casual group, get a few reliable people to do any and all tasks that require additional thought. The only downside is things go to hell rather quickly when those people aren't available.

Our next conquest was Onmitron, Omnomnomtron, Oomatron or whatever other creative nicknames you can come up with. Someone has to interrupt Arcanotron, and 9 pairs of eyes zero in on my location. Makes sense, shamans are again the only class than can interrupt all of Arcanotron's spells single handedly. I did have to switch to DPS however since I don't have the talent points to lower my interrupt cooldown in my healing spec. Not a problem this time as it might have been on Halfus, all four trons share a health pool so it doesn't matter who hits what. We totally one shotted it, and it was our first kill no less in that group.

On to Magmaw. No interrupts here, but resto shaman still get a chance to shine with telluric currents. We can heal the crap out of the raid during the worm phases and regen with lightning bolts during the head phase. Amplified damage means faster mana return and we can pretty much fill up our whole mana bar and be ready to rock those heals for the next worm phase. First time I got to try this out, before last night it was only something I thought sounded really cool. It was everything I hoped it would be and despite losing our tank twice in one fight we downed him in that very same attempt before we left the head phase. Messy, but effective.

I kind of like mechanics like that where the tank becomes irrelevant for a portion of the fight. It's often boring/annoying for tanks, but it gives DPS a chance to save the day which is always fun for everyone when it works out. Magmaw head phases and Halfus stunned phases are the two situations that come to mind. I've seen Halfus taken out by DPS after the enrage timer no less just because he got stunned and DPS took full advantage.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I'm Sorry You're Superfluous

I've been leveling my new worgen priest as disc/holy since I am most interested in healing and don't like the idea of being a shadow priest. Perhaps I'm weird, but shadow just seems evil; it took me rolling a blood elf to justify making a warlock. I guess I'm ok with overcoming an inherent evil taint in my toons so long as they didn't actively choose it and try to overcome it by doing good. My blood elf warlock was forced to fel magics to survive, my death knight had no say in being resurrected as an abomination, and I suppose worgen to some extent also didn't have a choice in what they were to become or what they did before being "cured". So going shadow just doesn't work for me. That said I decided early on to make my disc spec my "DPS" spec and focus entirely on healing for my holy spec.

Turns out disc does pretty decent damage at lower levels, even at 48 I am still competitive with other DPS in pugs. When I flush out the disc tree and get to take a few points in shadow I'll be able to use spirit for hit and with any luck be able to hold my own in normal dungeons. Apparently I'm also ok with tossing the occasional shadow spell in the heat of battle; chalk it up to the worgen curse, but embracing shadow fully is where I draw the line.

So given that I know I can put out more that my fair share of damage I don't feel the least bit guilty about checking that DPS checkbox when queuing for a random dungeon. I always have healer checked as well, but apparently once in a while the DPS queue is shorter and I get into a dungeon as DPS. So I focus on maximizing damage instead of healing when that happens which pretty much means I use my penance for damage and apply dots instead of tossing a heal to accompany my smite and holy fire spam. In either case atonement does a ton of healing and under normal circumstances covers all the healing. Only during a particularly bad pull is any direct healing required; therein lies the one problem, what does the healer do when I DPS?

One of three things from my experience: roll with it and take a nap, do some DPS in the downtime or throw a fit and drop group. The latter is usually quite hilarious, but I can't help but to feel a teeny bit sorry for them; while I am laughing of course. Honestly there is nothing funnier than a healer just blowing up after a few pulls and typing something profane along the lines of, "screw this, you guys don't even need me", and dropping group. That's like the DPS dropping group because the tank is doing all the damage, which I have seen happen. Although the tank and healer above all the DPS is pretty amusing to look at, but I've never seen a DPS drop because the healer is beating them.

Disc priests just got stuck in a really awkward position, When we heal it's like there are 4 DPS and when we DPS the healer becomes a 5th wheel unless they also go DPS. Really a disc healer is like having 5 DPS at lower levels because tanks usually beat out most the DPS for damage. It all balances out for the end game from what I've heard/read, but while leveling it's pretty overpowered. Really any group without a disc healer is at a disadvantage and for purposes of min/maxing disc is hands down the best spec for regular dungeons.

I guess I am a little greedy for checking DPS to occasionally shave that little bit of time off my dungeon queue, but if I can do my job as good or better than the rest of my group and on top of that indirectly keep everyone healed up, how is that my problem? When I first got atonement I thought how crazy overpowered it was as I smite healed my way through dungeon after dungeon while topping the DPS meters by a fairly large margin. I told myself this can't possibly last as I continued to level only having to actually heal when I got into a dungeon slightly over my level and even then only a few times total. Then they buffed atonement to work with holy fire as well and I got even better. My relative damage has tapered off a bit, but I can still generally get first or second for damage on boss fights. We'll see what happens once I hit outlands, but the way things are going it looks as if DiscPS will remain not only viable, but flourish.

In fact when I was leveling up my warlock I had a disc priest not only heal and DPS, upper blackrock spire, they tanked it as well. They had obviously queued with the tank and the pally tank hung back and healed while that disc priest tanked everything and held decent aggro as well all things considered. I'd seen tanking classes tank worse. I get all giddy with excitement thinking that I will still have that much power in 10 more levels. I may step on healers toes without hesitation, but I still usually let the tank do their job for the most part. I've always been known to pull as a healer when my tank is going slower than I would like and being a disc priest has certainly only encouraged that behavior. I remember I did cause a tank to drop for doing that in Uldaman. I just continued to tank/heal/DPS until we got another tank from the queue (that next tank did a much better job).

There certainly is a lot of leeway in a regular dungeon for what a good player can get away with. On one hand it is kind of stupid that tanks and healers can be made obsolete without any real consequences, but on the other that is the price we pay for having content tuned toward learning how to play instead of tuned to be challenging like heroic or raid content. I remember fondly running dungeons in outlands with 5 death knights before the dungeon finder.

Obviously the point of all this is that you shouldn't be discouraged or upset by someone doing better than you, or even outright carrying you, in a learning environment such as regular dungeons are. If you are the tank and people are tanking for you without any ill effects then just use the time to practice. It's a no pressure environment, you can try pretty much anything you want and it won't matter. If you are the healer and no healing is needed then work on seeing how much damage you can do or perhaps even flip specs and heal from a DPS spec as needed. Healers are given the opportunity to DPS more often than you'd think so getting some practice with it isn't a bad thing. Regular dungeons are just as much learning to deal with the strengths and weaknesses of other players in your group as they are about how well you can perform at your role individually.

I just get so excited thinking about my disc priest, they are like the caster healer/DPS equivalent of the melee tank/DPS hybrid role that feral druids fill. Not quite as flushed out on the DPS side, but it's as close as any other class/spec comes to filling two roles.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Secondary Specs Opening Doors

It's when you have absolutely nothing planned that some of the most interesting things can happen playing warcraft. Yesterday was a wonderfully boring Monday; I stayed at work a little later, followed the lawn mower around the yard (self-propelled), had some dinner and finally logged on to use up some of the rested XP I've been accumulating. After getting from 45 to 48 on my priest last week from just two random dungeons I was curious how far the rested xp would get me on other toons, not as far as I thought, but it was fun anyway.

As an aside, is it just me or is the horde side in general ruder, cruder and all in all less refined than the 13 year olds on the alliance side? I'm used to people being total asshats in random dungeons, but when I play my two horde toons people seem to go that extra mile. On the alliance side your tank goes offline and you see a comment like "offline" when someone goes to kick them, horde side I saw not only once but twice, "offline and a fag". Perhaps it's a horde inside joke, but this was two entirely different groups from entirely different realms; I checked because it was just too weird to be coincidence.

Back on topic, after I was done playing around horde side for a while I hopped over to the alliance side, where I actually have a guild with more than three people logged in, and was working on leveling my paladin that one last level to 85. For some reason I was enjoying it too, must be something similar to Stockholm syndrome. Really I just had to appreciate the sturdiness of a ret pally doing the chain to unlock the twilight highlands for the 7th time. Then on my way back to turn in the last couple quests to open the portal back to Stormwind I saw a request for a healer for the last two bosses in Ulduar in guild chat.

Hot diggity, I was actually working on Uldaur achievements for a while back in wrath, but never got to finish since the group I was running with wasn't able to run on the days I was available. Better yet it was just the last two bosses so it was practically handed to me on a silver platter. All made possible because I have retained a healing spec I hardly ever use. I can honestly count the number of times I've healed on my druid in Cataclysm on one hand, and yet I maintain the spec and a set of gear just for those unexpected moments when being a healer can open a door that would otherwise be closed. The feral hybrid/resto spec combo is like a casual dream come true. I give up a little bit of damage to focus on being all the bear I can be and as a result I am able to tank, heal and/or DPS at the drop of a hat.

Back in Ulduar healing for the first time in quite literally months (I like to jump right into things) I wasn't all that rusty. The healing throughput requirements were also half of what they are now so that helped quite a bit. I had some pretty serious mana issues on Vezax (who I wanted to call Venoxis), serious being I ran out and died. Luckily the rest of the group finished without me and got the achievement.

Then we ran in and tried to 8 man Yogg, which didn't work out so hot so we actually gave everyone the opportunity to get into the room the next attempt and got it down on the second try (third if you count the accidental pull). That fight is ridiculously busy. I think I could down it 15 more times and still find new things.

Then after that we headed to down Alganon which I had always wanted to see and as it turned out I was the only one in the group with the key, so it was good for everyone that I tagged along. That fight was everything I hoped it to be and more. I hadn't been so impressed with a boss since Mimiron and before that I can't even think of a boss that impressed me other than when I first started raiding in BC and was impressed by almost everything. So I got my starcaller title because of random chance and that I still remember how to heal. How's that for a random evening? Now I feel the need to find a group and go back and knock off disarmed for my mount seeing as it is the only achievement I have left to do for it.

Friday, May 20, 2011

What Do You Look For in a Class?

Oh my, I asked a question. It's like I actually care about what all three of my readers think! It's no surprise that I write more for my own amusement than anyone else's. You know when the guild forums are slow and you just really need to have a good wordgasm before your head explodes? No? Good, me neither; moving on.

Working with the increasingly more accurate assumption that all classes are as good at filling their potential roles as any other, it becomes clear that the most important choice after deciding whether you want to tank, heal or DPS is how you want to do it. DPS is most obviously grouped into ranged and melee both with wildly different feels, but after that it's just the little things that make the difference.

Lets take my favorite class as an example, druid obviously. You can do whatever you want right off the bat, that's a great start. I originally chose to make a druid for that reason along and also because changing forms looked really fun. Little did I know that it would take me a year and a day to actually get any of those forms when first starting out. I actually made a hunter and got that to max level first just because druids are such late bloomers. Had I known that at the time I probably would have stuck with my druid.

It wasn't until I got cat form that I really started to enjoy my druid at that used to be at level 20. I like instants, cast times make me sleepy, so most all casters don't really hold my attention long. So 20 levels of casting spells that I wasn't even taking talents for was pretty lame. Glad they fixed that in cataclysm. Sadly cataclysm also took away my druid's ability to heal nearly exclusively with instants. I just had a wild idea of all druid healing spells being instant with different mana costs and cooldowns. That'd be sweet.

What I didn't know about druids when I started, but really appreciate now is that lack of (self)buffs to maintain. Paladins have an aura and a seal and a buff, rogues have three different weapons to poison, shaman have weapon enhancements and the list goes on. Who want's to keep track of all that crap? It's not like you get to do perform any better than classes that don't. Druids have their one buff which lasts an hour and if you are lucky you can even pawn it off on a pally or another druid (there always seems to be a plethora of them in some combination). Having a buff to watch/maintain as part of a rotation makes things interesting. Having a buff that you never think about because it's on for an hour or more without any action on your part is just stupid.

At the other extreme there is the abilities that aren't annoying because they are easy to forget about, but because they are like a blinking idiot light on your dashboard. Ooh, ooh, hit this button, now this button, now this other one again. It's probably mostly my personal preference, but I don't enjoy playing whack-a-mole with my action bars. I like a sense of priority between abilities and cooldowns or dots, basically something that you can see coming and anticipate. Obviously I abhor paladins right now because thier action bars light up like a Christmas tree to some pagan RNG holiday. There is enough of that in boss encounters, don't need to add to it. Again, why deal with more hassle when it doesn't make you any better than any other class? I used to refer to these types of abilities as things that needed babysitting as you had to continually watch them to see if they would need your attention. Nowadays of course they light up quite obviously so there is less attention needed, but I still find it equally annoying.

Last but now least I look for flexibility, not to be confused with the versatility of being able to fill a number of different roles, but being able to fill one role well in different situations. We all know the distinction between ranged friendly and melee friendly fights. I love to be able to cross that barrier and perform well on both sides of the fence. Feral druids do that in a couple ways when we can't always be in melee range: we can make sure to keep bleeds refreshed to last while we are away and we have an energy resource that allows us to buffer attacks for a few seconds without losing anything but a few auto attacks.

So I look for versatility, instants, lack of busy work, lack of babysitting, a lot of utility and last but not least flexibility.

The thing that got me thinking of all this to begin with was AOE though. Specifically my shaman and other classes compared to my druid. Shaman have to put up flame shock and hit fire nova, plus totems and if your elemental earthquake, that's a lot of crap to do to compared to a feral druid who hits one button and does better than you with a totally minimal effort. Even balance druids have those stupid mushrooms on top of their previously equally trivial hurricane so not even all druids have it easy. Aside from a channeled blanket AOE or spammable button everyone else is just doing more work than everyone else for absolutely no gain. Class homogenization is often looked upon as a really bad thing, but I think I just found his evil twin brother. There has to be some sort of happy medium where the effort required remains constant while preserving the uniqueness of each class, channeled vs instant burst vs AOE damage over time abilities pretty much do that now.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Target On Mouse Down

I'm sure most non-mouse-over healers have noticed this even if they didn't know why. You click on a raid frame to switch targets and cast a spell, but your spell ends up going to your previous target. You know I came across this very same issue back when I started using the SnowFallKeyPress add-on which caused my hot keys to cast on button down instead of button up. I just figured the change made it faster than the target switching and got used to it over time. Then SnowFallKeyPress broke and I never bothered to fix it and eventually Blizzard made it's functionality part of the game and I was back to the same issue.

Turns out the root of the problem is that clicking a raid frame doesn't actually change targets till you let go of the mouse button. So when your spell cast happened when you released the key and the target flipped when you released you mouse button the two events always happened in the right order. Change the ability to cast as soon as the button is pressed and the targeting is going to lag behind.

Once I realized what the problem was I started looking for solutions. The healing specific add-ons like Healbot and Vuhdo had apparently figured this out way before me and already had the ability to target on mouse down. Pitbull however did not much to my surprise and I spent a little bit of time looking through the LUA code to rectify that without getting anywhere. Then I remembered another add on I'd used before, Clique. I downloaded it and installed it to find that the very first checkbox in the options did exactly what I wanted.

I suspect that Blizzard will notice the benefits of targeting on mouse down in time, but in the meantime I've got a solution in hand before I got used to hitting my action buttons later to compensate again. I can't believe I didn't catch this the first time I went through this, but I suppose I wasn't healing as much at the time and was mostly impressed by the faster reaction time when DPSing, interrupting in particular.

Friday, April 15, 2011


When the announcement was made that the firelands and the next raiding tier that will accompany them was bumped to 4.2 I figured that meant that 4.1 was almost ready and they just dropped the not quite finished content to get it out. Oddly enough that didn't happen and it is now six weeks later. I want my fixes now! /stomps feet

I haven't actually looked forward to a patch in quite a while. Normally it is just new content that I'm not quite ready for and I'll get to it when I get to it. I suspect this first tier of raiding will keep me busy for at least another three months, probably longer. I sort of miss the raiding paradigm where once the core players of your run get something down they could drag everyone else along to some extent. With the current content, especially in 10-mans, there is a lot more responsibility on everyone to be performing well.

So what are those fixes I am waiting for? Well for starters they are making it so I can rez people who released via their raid/party frame. I am also hoping that as a side effect someone releasing mid rez won't interrupt the cast and also that macros announcing rezzes can be simplified and no longer blurt out things like, "rezzing Unknown". Even even half of that turns out to be true I will be quite pleased.

Then probably my favorite change, enrage will no longer cause me to take extra damage in bear form. It is quite annoying to try and time an enrage to coincide with a pull when depending on other people to be ready. Ready checks can help, but there is always that one yahoo that clicks ready and then says, no wait, over vent a second after you've popped enrage. Then in 5 mans there is always the whole crowd control timing thing, but that is somewhat less important since a little more damage in a 5 man won't kill me. Grabbing Halfus and getting reduced healing right off the bat certainly encourages me to make sure I'm not taking more damage in those first few seconds.

I'm also really excited about being able to run 2 or more of my "daily" heroics in the same day. I don't log on every day, but do enjoy running multiple heroics when I do have the time so this will easily more than double my valor point income. The new dungeons will also help keep things interesting as I know all the current heroics like the back of my hand these days.

Death knights getting a battle rez! Since my second main is a DK this is exciting for me, but considering I also run with a dk a lot of the time this will also be beneficial for my druid. It's not always easy/possible to pop off a battle rez while tanking as a bear. Will be trivial for DKs to do it though. I think I am a little jealous.

Prowl has a new... yeah that is stupid.

Savage defense changes for bears should bring us a little closer to other tanks when it comes to mitigating lots of little hits (i.e. trash). Still scales pretty poorly compared to a shield, but it's a step in the right direction.

I'll also admit I am a little excited about the stampeding roar buff. I've actually been making use of this ability more and more since I decided it was worth a hotkey. More speed and a longer duration will make it even more useful.

Cat swipe damage doubled? I have my doubts that this will make it live simply because it sounds so good. Looking at my current performance on AOE groups in cat compared to others I can hold my own and often top the meters. If this change does go through then that would put me head, shoulders and torso above the general population and slightly above those that can give me a run for my money currently.

Looking forward to the healing changes for druids as well. I doubt they will be enough to sway me from my shaman loving ways, but having a couple more things to do besides spam healing touch in a tight spot will be nice. Tranquility will actually be on a short enough cooldown where I'll use it rather than always trying to save it for later.

Righteous Fury won't drop off when pally tanks die! This is always quite inconvenient for me when DPSing with a pally tank.

So I guess not all of those were fixes per say, but they all help smooth over some rough edge or another. In any case the sooner the better. I read over some of these patch notes like prioritizing damage classes with different armor types in random pugs and I start to get the idea the change is already in place.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Tank Shortage Solution

Make more tanks, ba dum ching. Even better make less DPS. I'm half serious about that one, but more on that later. Right now we've got two planned changes coming to the dungeon finder in 4.1: first we can snatch up all our "daily" dungeon rewards for the week whenever we want and second goodies bags will be provided to tanks (and possibly healers) for queuing alone. Call me crazy, but don't these conflict somewhat in randoms?

The one big perk of being able to get as many of your "daily" dungeon" rewards as you want on any given day is that if you really liked your group, or can at least stand to tolerate them a little longer, then you have the option to queue again with the same group. If tanks and healers are incentivized to drop and requeue alone that is perhaps a little less likely to happen? I know I value a good group over any goodie bag they are currently teasing me with, but I'd probably leave an ok group after a dungeon for a chance at better rewards.

That got me thinking that random groups that requeue and complete a second dungeon together are in general better at working in a group. Moving players that do just that more often higher in the queue would have some interesting effects. Trick would be finding a way to prioritize those players without penalizing those that just didn't have the opportunity or availability to requeue with a random group to run a second dungeon. Could just add successfully ran a dungeon with a random group to the math and have that weighted slightly lower than ran a second dungeon with the same random group successfully. After all completing a dungeon in a random group shows a moderate level of cooperation, but requeuing for a second and completing it shows that the group actually enjoyed eachother's company to some extent. Divide those values by the total number of random dungeons run and we've got ourselves a number to compare with other players.

So we start prioritizing these better players in the dungeon finder queue and they will have shorter queue times. Which in turn means these better players get into more groups. The end result is that the random dungeon finder experience improves then more tanks and healers will want to participate which improves the dungeon finder experience for all. Even if these better players don't get bumped up in the queue, they could instead be grouped together with similar results. The end result should be a more balanced number of DPS in that priority group and a higher quality of team player (i.e. more enjoyable group).

The second thing that would be nice to include when determining position in the queue is time elapsed since a players last successful random dungeon. I say successful since there is nothing more annoying that waiting 45 minutes for a group only to have it fall apart on the first pull. Players that have gone longer without a dungeon should get in first and this further incentivizes players in a random group to keep it for another rather than face a longer queue time.

The current bribe isn't quite enough to get me to queue alone as a tank, but with any luck healers will also apply for the goodies since I find queuing as a healer is a good compromise between wait time and random pug annoyance. Still I think it is better to try and improve the tank/healer experience in pugs using something along the lines I mentioned rather than try to coax people into something they don't enjoy.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

OMG, Put Your Tank on Passive

Once in a while in a PUG something happens that is both unexpectedly ridiculous and terrifyingly horrible at the same time. You can't help but to share and chuckle after the fact, but the initial reaction is always something along the lines of, did that really just happen? Did that warlock pet really just follow Millhouse Manastorm? Yes, yes that little Imp did.

What? You thought that was it? Silly goose! Pets running off and getting into mischief is hardly unexpected, quite the opposite. It might of met the other three criterion though. The place was Stonecore, the time was... who cares. I zoned into to meet the rest of my dungeon finder group comprised of an 85 death knight (it was regular so an 82 instance), a hunter that had queued with them, some crazy rogue and of course, a warlock.

The warlock didn't do much more than a cameo though, tank pulls, no cc marked so I did my best to keep the earthshaper from AOEing us as the healer. Preventing damage it healing too, sort of. Millhouse Manastorm was skulled as is customary to get him out of the way quick. Millhouse runs off spouting something about dropping the soap (as if that applies to a gnome) and the warlock's imp is in hot pursuit first grabbing the pair of flayers on the wall and then the next pull in it's entirety.

I like to toon my own horn (see what I did there), but we might have stood a chance had the tank grabbed everything as it came in. They were obviously new to the tanking gig and using a regular dungeon to practice. Well I didn't come to that conclusion right then, but it became apparent as the instance progressed. So after a few seconds of heal tanking the tank went down and we wiped. On the way back the warlock apologized and said he would understand if we kicked him, ironically he then left the group as no one initiated a kick.

So we got another something in his place; I believe it was a priest, but that particular detail isn't really important. We regroup, kill the rest of the first pull and move on to the next group where Millhouse is patiently waiting for us. Same strategy, same result, very different reason. Apparently the new tank put two and two together and got 3; as soon as Millhouse ran off the tank was right on his heels frantically trying to keep him from reaching the next group again. Ridiculous, check, Unexpected, check, terrifying, well maybe not, but it was pretty horrible.

After a quick clarification from the dungeon guide (me), and no I wasn't mean; I just pointed out that Millhouse does run off and can't be stopped and assured the tank that he would not pull the next group on his own. Playing as both melee DPS and a tank enlightens me to what a melee DPS might be missing when they go to tank and a lot of it is timing. DPS often take for granted those tank pauses that keep things moving smoothly, case in point the two pats that pass by the group of three flayers right before the 2nd boss.

An experienced tank can take them in pretty much any order and make it look trivial. A new tank will try and replicate what they have observed which in the case of a melee DPS is kill order and not the timing. Melee DPS are notoriously bad at looking around for pats and it usually falls to the tank to move for them. Sadly the same usually applies for standing in stuff. Enough picking on melee it was the ranged that got the first extra pat, poor timing got the second and the Chinese fire-drill that followed got who knows what else. The run back all I could think about was how horrible the room after the next boss would be.

It was a piece of cake actually. On top of that I actually learned something myself in that next room I had dreaded moments earlier. That one sentry that pats perpendicularly in the middle of the room can be death gripped right over the group in the middle without pulling anything. Pretty cool looking to boot. Any I picked on melee standing in stuff before, but this tank did pretty well on Ozruk. Minimal standing in stuff opposed to most tanks on regular that eat every single boss ability. I suppose Ozruk is a special case considering that anyone that has melee DPSed on heroic would know that standing in stuff equals certain death.

Rest of the instance went pretty smoothly aside from some add control issues, but again that is something tanks get better at over time. Certainly an amusing time healing, I barely got any time to DPS. I definitely look forward to healing more on my shaman, druid healing just hasn't clicked for me since the cataclysm. Although I've always preferred the feel of shaman healing to druid healing.

Monday, April 4, 2011

To Loot or Autoloot

Way back when I started playing WoW I had somehow decided that auto loot was bad. Maybe it was the limited bag space or perhaps it was the previous game I played required clicking and dragging each piece of loot individually to my bags (including coins). Whatever my reasoning I never really looked back.

Then quite a few months ago I discovered/rediscovered the auto loot modifier key and start using that pretty much ever single time I looted. For some reason I still didn't enable auto loot at that point. The most annoying shortcoming of this method was that when I was mining, skinning, herbing, etc, and hit the auto loot modifier mid "cast" that it wouldn't apply unless I had it pressed at the start of the cast. I suppose that is an auto loot modifier bug.

So a couple weeks ago I took the plunge and decided that holding a modifier key every time I loot and/or gather was stupid; I enabled auto loot on all my toons (apparently it isn't a global setting). It took a couple days to get used to not hitting the shift key with auto loot on since the modifier I had used for so long to auto loot now had the opposite effect. I can't believe I didn't just auto loot from the beginning.

I think the one add-on that made auto looting a possibility for me was one that could throw away my cheapest vendor item as well as show vendor items by their value in ascending order. Before that I had to look through all my bags (which always seem to be full) and see if what I was picking up was better or worse than what I had. I don't really make the effort to visit a vendor to sell stuff until I have to start chucking those grey items worth a gold or more.

People might think the hybrid tax is measured in performance vs pure classes, but it's really paid in bag space. My druid carries around 4 sets of gear (DPS, tanking, healing and PVP) plus various potions, scrolls, food and whatnot. I think I have 7 bag slots free right now with four 22 slot bags. I really need to burn through some consumables rather than try and ration them. Meanwhile my pure DPS toons are walking around with 47+ free slots.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

When is a Blog not a Blog?

I most often just post whatever is on my mind at the time, but I also keep a few links to past post on the side. These posts are things I update from time to time and generally try and keep up to date. Things like links to the add-ons I use or copies of macros I made. Stuff that is as much a resource for me as it is for anyone else if not more so.

So in case your wondering where a post about rogue macros came from it's just reference information which I will link to from my macros post and update as time goes on. I actually have a ton of macro updates to get up as I haven't updated them since forever. I also have some mage macros to put up which I was just one click away from posting before my browser died. Oh well I'll get to it another time.

As for some druidy content, here's one on my newest druid macros which combines stampeding roar and dash into once easy to use button.

#showtooltip [form:1] Stampeding Roar; [mod,nogroup][mod,nocombat][nomod,group,combat] Stampeding Roar(Cat Form); Dash
/use [form:1]Stampeding Roar; [noform:3] Cat Form; [mod,nogroup][mod,nocombat][nomod,group,combat] Stampeding Roar(Cat Form); Dash

It's a beast! Nearing the 255 character cap for something pretty simple. I blame the obnoxiously long spell names. If I couldn't omit (Bear Form) from stampeding roar in bear form it couldn't possibly fit.

Basically if you are in combat and in a group it will use savage roar, otherwise it will use dash. It will use the opposite when a modifier key is used. Savage roar is always used in bear form as there is no other choice (unless you are an engineer or worgen, I am neither). If you aren't in a form you will be placed in cat form so hitting the button twice from caster form will put you in cat and then make you go fast. So its handy for ferals and casters.

I actually spent a fair bit of time squishing all my druid macros into just the space allotted for my druid. Good times. I should have that information available either tomorrow or early next week.

Rogue Macros


To save space on my action bars and because I was already used to combining prowl and ferocious bite on my druid this macro came rather naturally.

/use [combat] Eviscerate; Stealth

Trick of the Trade

Every rogue loves to redirect some threat off themselves whenever they can. This macro will set a focus target when right clicked and when used with a key-bind or left click will cast Tricks of the Trade on your focus target. If a focus target does not exist it will cast tricks on whichever party member you have selected. If you are targeting a hostile then it will cast tricks on whomever that hostile is targeting (sucks for them if it isn't a tank). Finally if none of those targets were valid you will get a hand cursor to click on a target manually (right click to cancel without choosing a target).

/focus [btn:2][raid,@focus,noexists]
/stopmacro [btn:2]
/use [@focus,help,nodead,raid][help,nodead,raid][harm,@targettarget,help,nodead,raid][] Tricks of the Trade

Cloak of Shadows/Shiv

I use the same button for cleansing and removing enrage effects on all my toons which share the same hot key of course. So for classes that can do both (just my rogue and druid I believe) I just base which I do on what I have targeted. If I have a hostile targeted I will shiv it and hopefully remove an enrage effect and if I have don't or am holding down a modifier I will cast cloak of shadows on myself.

/use [nomod,harm] Shiv; [@player] Cloak of Shadows;

Applying Poisons

Use without modifier to apply instant poison to your main hand or with modifier to apply deadly poison to your offhand. Right click to apply instant poison to your thrown weapon. Last line automatically accepts replacing an existing poison on your weapon when the pop-up would normally appear.

/use [mod] Deadly Poison; Instant Poison
/use [btn:2] 18; [mod] 17; 16
/click StaticPopup1Button1

The next three are all pretty much the same. Click to apply the specified poison to your offhand or right click to apply it to your thrown weapon.

/use Crippling Poison
/use [btn:2] 18; 17
/click StaticPopup1Button1
/use Mind-numbing Poison
/use [btn:2] 18; 17
/click StaticPopup1Button1

/use Wound Poison
/use [btn:2] 18; 17
/click StaticPopup1Button1

Friday, February 25, 2011

Macros Not the Answer, What Was the Question?

Maul. Yeah, don't macro that; it's bad. Not as bad as remapping half your keybinds and learning to tank again, but worse than the week after when your fingers know where to go again. Which is exactly what I did a couple weeks ago.

Way back when I was posted all about this epiphany I had to avoid adding another key to press in bear form. I didn't have enough rage to always use maul, but I could narrow down on a percentage on how often I could use it and use castsequence macro lines to randomize my mauling accordingly. That actually worked quite well during combat, but the drawback was the RNG of mauling immediately when pulling with limited rage. It made grabbing snap aggro just a little harder. That got to be a little much over time and I decided to make a change.

At the same time I was actually leveling my new goblin warrior and had just gotten heroic strike. Of course I hadn't macroed it immediately after getting it seeing as I had a ton of space on my bars. So I was getting used to the idea of using a rage dump. So between those two influences I ended up combining growl and challenging roar into a single keybind and using a modifier key to access my sparingly used "AOE taunt". I actually used that a lot more in wrath. Anyway, that freed up the spot I needed to toss maul out on it's own.

The initial transition was painful... like really painful. I was pretty frustrated the first couple instances I tanked that way. Of course I had decided while I was moving buttons around that I should start using my 'Z' key as well and move the weapon sheathing/toggling button to '\' which I remember using for some FPS once upon a time. That let me move my interrupt from 'T' to 'Z' and whatever I had on '6' to 'T'. I'm using one of those natural keyboards so '6' is just just out of reach without a handgasm (the strange sensation of trying to spread the tips of your middle and index fingers as far apart as possible). On the bright side I am now using every possible key within reach of my left hand. Was tempted to use 'X' too, but I like to swim/fly down sometimes for fun.

So for those with a puzzled look I should explain what my keybinds look like. I use WASD for movement. 'A' and 'D' still turn left and right rather than strafe. I tried the strafing, but sometimes I want to take my hand off the mouse and still be somewhat mobile. Holding the right mouse button and 'turning' achieves the same effect as strafing anyway so no great loss.

'3' and '4' are my bread and butter abilities that get spammed a lot. They are easily reached while holding 'W' or 'S' to move forward or backward while steering with the mouse. Remaining mobile while attacking is pretty important for melee and also pretty handy for casters at times. '1' and 'Q' are next with the next most frequently use abilities followed by '2' which slightly impairs my ability to move forward so I stick something I use once in a while (I can still move forward by hitting both mouse buttons).

'5' I use for a taunt or another less frequently used ability. I've always had my taunt on '5' for my death knight since there were a lot more abilities in my tanking rotation than my bear. I always took that as a bit of a disadvantage seeing as taunt should in theory be more readily accessible. In practice I've found the opposite to be true; now that my taunt key is not immediately accessible I am hitting it much less in error so that when I do need it I'm more likely to have it off cooldown. After all I had it on '4' previously and '4' is one of the two buttons I hit the most for every other spec. Can't fight muscle memory.

Then my new addition 'Z' is where I stick my interrupts, they used to be over on 'T' and that wasn't nearly as convenient while moving. 'E' I use for AOE, 'R' for charging, death gripping, jumping back, blinking, basically anything that gets me to where I want to be or brings the where to me. 'T', 'F' and 'G' are reserved for cooldowns along with 'F1' and 'F2'. 'F3' I use for crowd control, 'F4' to break out of crowd control and 'F5' to reduce damage taken. Exceptions exist for classes without such abilities.

'C' I use for cleansing, 'V' for sprinting, dashing, moving faster by some means and 'B' I use for buffing. I actually have been macroing my 'B' to buff out of combat or with a modifier and than use some sort of cooldown I don't want to accidentally hit out of combat only while in combat. Mark of the Wild and Barkskin in the case of my druid. I used to use 'V' for mana regen, but decided to just leave that over with my mana potions and utility crap and click it as needed. A keybound speed boost has proven much more valuable in practice.

And finally that poor '6' key is still looking for a use. It is actually further of a reach for me than 'F5' so I've been experimenting with long cooldowns there, but really I've been clicking it more with the mouse than actually hitting '6'. Previously I used '6' for my start of a fight prep type key, hunter's mark, stealth, etc. So in reality I didn't add a key to my repertoire so much as add one, remove one and move two. Right now I'm still leaving '6' empty on my druid since it is so close to 'T' and I still slip once in a while trying to stealth. Once I grow out of that I'm sure I'll find a use for it. Moral of the story is get your binding right the first time and hopefully this long winded explanation helps someone.