Sunday, 31 August 2008

Stats for the young feral druid

Rakhman from Flameshock added a comment to a recent post asking whether AP or crit would be better for his baby druid as it levels through the mid 40s.

There is a quick answer which I could just give but that might lead to more questions, so in the style of all the best exam questions I'm going to explain my answer. Now this is my first real theory-crafting post so should there be any errors etc please be kind.

The druid in question is level 45 so I'm going to assume a build something like this, which is based on the leveling guide put together by BBB.

Looking at the talents alone, 2 points in Primal Fury provides an extra combo point every time one of your special moves crits. This does mean that you can build up combo points quicker and execute more powerful finishing moves.

Before we get all giddy and start stacking crit let's look at the moves we'll be using and how they work. A good rule of thumb would be to prowl up to a mob, pounce on it, Shred 1-3 times depending on energy and OOC procs. Once the mob is facing you it's time to use a combination of Claw and Rake. Once you have 4 or 5 combo points Rip, or if the mob is very close to death, Ferocious Bite. As an aside we use the finisher at 4 points as if the next combo point generating move were to crit you would lose the bonus combo point.

Digging into the description of these talents we can see a repeated phrase, "scales with Attack Power", which as it suggests means the more attack power you have, the more damage you do when using it. Attack power also increases the amount of white damage you do, which will be a lot in cat form due to the 1.0 swing speed of your claws.

So in answer to the orignal question I would take the AP increase even if it meant losing a small amount of crit. It is also worth remembering that in a few levels it will be worth respeccing to pick up mangle and at the same time you'll get Leader of the Pack which will increase your crit chance by 5% whilst in cat or bear form.

Whilst looking at gear from quest rewards and possible from the auction house it's worth remembering which stats go directly towards attack power.
Bear Form: 1pt of Strength == 2AP
Cat Form: 1pt of Strength == 2AP, 1pt of Agility == 1AP

So there we go, take the AP increase and have fun clawing the faces off all the mobs in your path.

Saturday, 30 August 2008

Now where'd I leave my daggers?

A few weeks back I posted my thoughts on what would be a good rogue build once Crash reached level 80. Now in hindsight I should have listened to BBB's advice and not got quite so giddy about the new information, but I fear I might be about to do the same again.

Latest posts on the beta forum has shown some really interesting news and changes which may have suddenly made me decide on who gets levelled first. I'm not going to go into a huge amount of detail but the changes to mutilate just make me smile all over.

The removal of the positional element will make a massive difference to game play and style. Whilst 99.9% of the time the phrase rogues do it from behind is apt, there are times when it's not possible to be behind the target due to game mechanics. Think of the Romulo fight where he has a backward stab, Aran where he's spinning like a top channeling arcane missles at the ranged and Nightbane where you need to stay away from the tail.

I always enjoyed my mutilate build, it was a lot more technical to play, and it looks like the new talents are only going to complement that style of play. Having had Malchazeen in my bags for ages it might well be time to break it out for some fun (though I probably should get the S2 offhand again).

Once the patch hits the live servers I'll have a play and post what I come up with right here.

I have seen the comment asking for information regarding AP vs crit for feral druids and I'm working on it, but it's turning into a chunky theory crafting post so will take some time to put together, stay tuned.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Knowing your (threat) limits

So if you've done much instancing or raiding you'll have a threat meter installed and running. If you don't go install Omen, don't worry we'll wait for you to come back.

Ok, so now we've got it installed there's some very funky configuration you can do to help stop pulling aggro without having to stare at the bars. Opening up the configuration we can go to the options for 'Single Target Mode' and under that we see a set of options for 'Warnings'.

The tick boxes should be fairly self explanatory, so turn on as much as you need to ensure you know when you're getting close to aggro. Personally I have a sound played (war drums), flash the screen and stick a warning message out. The warning message also hooks into Scrolling Combat Text if you use that for information whilst destroying the enemy.

So the final thing to consider is when one of these warnings should go off. In the options is a slider which ranges from 60 to 130. Before we go picking which number is best, let's remind ourselves of the threat mechanics for pulling aggro. If you are in melee range then you need to exceed 110% of the threat the current player the mob is targetting before it will attack you. If you are at range then you'll need to exceed 130%. The value you set the slider to means that when you hit that percentage of the tanks threat the warning will go off as you've configured them.

I personally have the slider set to 90, and I'll explain why. While I'm not going to pull aggro till 110% it's always worth being careful of the nasty situations, such as the tank gets a string of misses/parries and you get a string of crits. By leaving a bigger gap you can just use white attacks for a bit without relying on any threat dumps which use energy or have a large cooldown. As a ranged dps player you may want to set it higher but that's my recommendation for melee people (which is the target audience for this blog).

As a final word please don't be swayed by those chasing the dps meters who suggest leaving the warning to the last possible moment, stealing aggro from the tank isn't big or clever and can cause problems for the rest of the raid. If you want a fun game see how many times you can trigger your warning during the boss fight, which means you're right on your limit but not causing issues for everyone else.

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Proof Alchemy doesn't hate me

While the discovery mechanism is a nice touch it can be very frustrating to have some great recipes available in game which can only be found through a remote random chance whilst making other things.

So having got to 375 alchemy and made a while bunch of elixirs and potions on the way it was a bit frustrating to not have made any discoveries. Well know that flying around and picking herbs is that huge amount quicker I've decided to recoup some of the flying skill costs by making and selling potions (something made a bit smoother by being a potion master). Well there I was busy making haste potions when this happened.

Not a flask I'm going to use often (well not without a respec and regear) but I know there'll be some mages and boomkins out there that will be after them.

Is it a bird...?

Due to a lack of sign-ups our Friday raid was canceled and in it's place our veritable raid leader suggested that we head into Sethekk Halls and defeat Anzu so that Medrare could get his Swift Flight Form. Our party for this mission would be two feral druids, a resto druid, hunter and mage.

Our start time was slightly delayed by the discovery that our Mage didn't have the Auchenai key due to a lack of Lower City reputation. The Arrakoa of Terorkkar didn't know what had hit them as 3 of the party went to grind feathers whilst the mage and healer looked for quests which could be completed for extra reputation. A couple of hundred feathers later we were ready to go.

A couple of attempts on the first boss and we were on our way up to the main event. Our main tank had slight reservations about some of the pulls (based on when we ran this instance for his quest) but we bravely fought our way through and then it was up to face the Raven God. It was a flawless fight and soon the Emerald Dream was saved from the menace and on a slightly selfish level I completed the quest. Sadly the mount didn't drop, and we were unable to kill the final boss but I was able to ditch Flight Form and speed my way back from Cenarion Refuge to Shattrath for a fly past show.

The instance run again required a bit of everything from me, mostly cat dps, with the occasional OT role for cc, using Hibernate for cc and healing the MT should it desperately be required. This relates very closely to the whole quest chain which leads up to the instance run, which has been the most fun quest chain I've done in game. Requires a bit of everything you have as a druid and making sure you do a bit of everything a druid can do.

We can only hope that there are more quest chains like this that can be experienced in future gameplay as the expansions come out.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Rogues and Battlegrounds

I've done a few battlegrounds during my WoW playtime, mainly to grind for the S1 and then S2 swords but occasionally to get some gold from the daily quest or just let off some steam by beating up some alliance.

Having heard enough calls to nerf rogues from priests, mages, warlocks and just about anyone else who's had their behind handed to them on the end of a dagger/sword/mace I thought I'd share some tactics I use and that way other people can know what might happen and start thinking...

Arathi Basic Defense
I love playing defense in AB and in fact can get quite possessive of my flag and go a bit gung-ho to get it back should the enemy manage to steal it away from me. Anyways being in stealth is an obvious state of affairs, but a key aspect of the AB map is the amount of bushes and shrubberies near the flag. These can help camouflage you even more and are away so any AoE that a class does next to the flag doesn't de-stealth you before you can hit the stunlock.

It is very amusing to watch someone and start capping the flag only to find themselves at half health and with a stack of poisons applied. So remember if the flag looks undefended there's a rogue, no really, there is. Don't come crying to me that you got killed because you should know they're there.

Make use of fear
Yes it's annoying when you do the headless chicken dance due to some warlock or priest hitting a magic defense button but watch your combat flag, chances are that once the fear has worn off you'll be out of combat and able to re-stealth without having to Vanish and of course stealth equals stunlock which is always nice.

Kick the Elemental
99.999% of the mages you come up against in a BG will be frost specced and so have a pet water elemental which they can summon to cause mayhem. However they only have one school of magic available and kicking them leaves them stood there with nothing to do except watch their master get obliterated.

So there's a few tips and what you should be looking out for. If anyone has any for playing a feral druid (other than trying to be a rogue in cat form) I'd be very grateful for them.

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Going back for fun prizes

One of the disadvantages of having started to play after The Burning Crusade expansion came out is that I never did any of the higher level dungeons or the raids. Our guild has done a couple of retro runs to Molten Core and Black Wing Lair but that still leaves several dungeons, quests and loot I've never seen.

Well what's the point of having two level 70s with stealth if you can't go sneaking around things to get just what you need. Firstly I headed into Stratholme, a place I'd been only once to help a fellow guildie get their paladin epic mount, but with 3 other level 70s in the group it didn't really take long and a lot of things died before you got a chance to see what they were. Regardless I snuck my way in, killed a couple of groups and started sneaking around looking for Hearthsinger Forresten. He died the first time no problems (alongside the mobs I aggro'd) but only dropped some mail loot. No problems, run out, reset and repeat. Second time I had a better understanding of what I was doing and he could be taken out without aggroing anything else. A quick stunlock and Piccolo of the Flaming Fire was mine, which is going to be fun whilst we're hanging around in raids.

Next up were the pets awarded from the quests from Kibler which required going around Lower Blackrock Spire collecting spider eggs and a worg pup. The only problem was the sprawling nature of the instance and trying to find my way out once I'd completed the quests. A quick run back through the Burning Steppes to hand in and a Smolderweb Carrier and a Worg Carrier found their way into my bags.

Finally the giant cannon outside of the Aldor bank indicated that the Darkmoon Faire was back in town. So what should have been a quick run to Blackrock Depths to pick up some Dark Iron Ale in order to return Jubjub to his owner and get my own Jubling. If I thought LBRS was sprawling it was nothing compared to this. Fortunately lockpicking meant I could bypass a lot of things once I found my way round and as you can buy the ale in bulk it meant Medrare could also get a pet.

In other news the Spirit of Competition smiled on the little druid as a fantastic 5cap win in Arathi Basin rewarded him with a Gold Medallion.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Karazhan Off Tanking

Now Medrare has the Master's Key, he's fully able to sign up to guild runs on his own merit and start tanking things with his face. The run was pretty smooth with only one wipe due to a ninja pull of an elite pack and we survived it the second time it happened (well I didn't but it's not a wipe if half the raid survive). It was good to learn boss fights from a new perspective even if you can't really see a thing of what's going on with the rest of the raid.

Attumen the Horseman
A place for the off tank to shine as you start the encounter by tanking Midnight until the mount up. Our boomkin pulled aggro and died before I could grab him back but other than that it was smooth whilst he was dps'd down. Once phase 3 started and I wasn't needed to tank anymore it was time to go cat and pretend to be a rogue. However one of our priests didn't survive the transition to phase 3 and so required a battle rez and innervate before I could get back to it and down he went.

No need to run after adds here, just a case of keeping up with the main tank on threat and staying alive when the MT gets gouged. Again we lost a healer due to a bad combination of the MT being gouged and me being blinded. No problems a quick battle rez and innervate again and we'll be back in the fight. Unfortunately I didn't spot that I wasn't targeting the healer before hitting the button and innervated myself. As it was we managed and got everything killed without losing any of the raid.

Little Red Riding Hood
A rarity for our guild as we always seem to get Wizard of Oz, but an Opera where I wasn't really required to tank so time to go cat again. The plan went a bit south when a priest died whilst Red Riding Hood I needed to shift back out and help keep the tank alive with rolling lifeblooms, and the occasional big heal when I managed to resist the fears.

Maiden of Virtue
Again only one tank required so this fight was almost identical to when I've done it on Crash except running out to heal is a lot easier when you not relying on potion and bandage cool downs, and again it's possible to help keep the main tank alive when the main healers are all stunned due to Repentance.

Sadly no tanking/cat dps loot dropped but there are the lovely badges to compulsively collect and it was a lot of fun fighting the encounters with a different set of skills and responsibilities. Hopefully there will be enough raids over the summer that I can get along to to try out all the fights again and hopefully get my gear a good leg up ready for the expansion.