The profession paradox

With garrisons set to be the crowning achievement of the Warlords of Draenor expansion, and professions being intricately tied to the success of the garrison feature, I thought we would know more about professions by now. How little we know about professions in WOD worries me, especially because of how much we know will change. Fansites such as Wowhead have been collecting information on the basics of professions, but I have still been struggling to figure out how all the pieces fit together. The biggest problem I’m having at this point is that the work order process in the garrison seems to not be taking into consideration the history of how people have chosen their professions. Professions that used to work together now instead compete for resources and garrison space, leading me to question whether I chose my primary professions poorly.

A tale of Tailoring and Enchanting

When I started my mage, I already had a jewelcrafter/miner (my druid), and an alchemist/herbalist (my shaman). So, I thought the obvious pairing for my mage would be tailoring and enchanting. Tailoring was incredibly helpful in generating resources for leveling up enchanting at the end of Cataclysm. Enchanting has been helpful in being able to disenchant gear that drops from my guild’s raids. However, other than helping me level enchanting, tailoring has done very little for me or my guild, other than providing me with cheaper bag upgrades and raid bonus enhancements. So, I have to make the tough choice of whether to keep tailoring for the next expansion.

Everything I’ve found out about the garrisons and work orders suggests that taking tailoring just to support enchanting is a bad idea for Warlords of Draenor. Here is why:

  • By having two primary professions, I need two small plots to support leveling the professions in WOD. However, I don’t get access to a second small plot until several levels into the leveling process. So, I have to choose one of two professions to start before the other. In addition, I only get three small plots total. So, it’s actually a disadvantage to have two crafting professions in WOD with all the changes.
  • Tailoring appears to require two garrison plots to be useful as a primary profession. Tailoring now relies on skins that come from animals only, and thus both the tailoring small plot and the barn medium plot appear to be required to be able to get enough animal skins to level tailoring. The trading post would also be helpful, too, for turning garrison resources into more fur. In addition, tailoring and leatherworking don’t appear to actually share materials, so skinning doesn’t seem to be a profession that is supposed to support tailoring (but I can’t even really tell that for sure from the guides).
  • The work orders for enchanting don’t interact with tailoring at all. Farming skins from animals to make items to disenchant is likely to actually use more resources and time than other methods of farming items to disenchant. Taking a gathering profession instead of tailoring would free up two garrison plots, speed up my profession leveling times, and confer other possible benefits along the way.
  • Update: I just went back to the enchanting hut, and now instead of taking ore, it’s taking dust from enchanting to complete the work orders. So, even with the method I’d been using for the last month or so leveling up my character, it’s still not finalized to the point where you can plan on what feeds into what. That’s what I get for hitting ‘post’ without checking in on the garrison plot for a few days.

Do I even need to have either tailoring or enchanting as a primary profession?

So, I’m left with questions over what I need tailoring for (very little to support my raiding if anyone else in my guild can make items from the tailoring raid patterns), whether the time to level tailoring is worth it (probably not, unless they replaced all humanoids in the world with beasts that drop skins), and what the point of all this even is.

With enchanting, if I made an enchanting hut in my garrison, I could still disenchant everything that I got from raids, without needing enchanting as a profession at all. So, the bigger question then becomes – what is the point of having crafting professions as our primary professions? Would it make sense for everyone just to pick up gathering professions (mining/herbing/skinning), and just feed resources into profession huts without having any primary crafting professions at all?

You no longer get raid bonuses from your primary professions, and all the crafting professions have their primary benefits given to you via the garrison huts whether you have that profession or not, so I can’t figure out what the point of having any primary crafting professions is at all right now. At the very least, I’m pretty sure having two primary crafting professions is to my own detriment. At this point, I’m trying to decide if I should get mining (to directly feed my enchanting), or if I should pick up herbalism instead to more quickly feed resources into an alchemy hut. Maybe dropping both enchanting and tailoring would be the smartest choice of all. With the new profession ‘catch up’ bonuses, the beginning of WOD seems like the perfect time to change all our profession choices. That is, until another expansion comes along and changes the entire system again, and we have to start all over.

Even having played in the beta, they haven’t had enough of the garrison and profession systems implemented for me to know what professions would be the best use of my time – whether staying the course on tailoring and enchanting would be a waste of time and money or not. As many raiders chose their professions based on the raid-related benefits (and having all of those benefits changing), this is really the time to be making decisions about what our professions should be. I just wish we had enough information for me to be able to make a better decision. That, then, becomes the problem. With it being easier to just start all over again on your professions, what profession choice is the right one? What benefits do we even get from all this extra profession leveling work?

Confusions, not conclusions

The new profession system in the garrisons are so confusing that I haven’t been able to level up any profession at all to test any of it out. The only thing I’ve ever done is turn raw materials into other types of raw materials via the work order system. I haven’t yet crafted anything at all. This late in the game, I really wish I could write about my plan for my professions, instead of writing about my uncertainty over how to even plan at all. With professions being central to everything we’re supposed to care about this expansion, I really wish we knew enough to be able to care about professions.

Resto druid updates for Draenor

With the release of Warlords of Draenor just a few months away, I have started to receive a lot of questions about the state of druids, and especially resto druids. For people wondering about the current state of moonkin, you can read Cyous’ post on the Sentry Totem website. Cyous also has a post on the basics of how the new sine-wave Eclipse  works. For resto druid updates, the Sometimes a Tree blog has had fairly regular content updates recently.

I will likely still be maintaining my resto and leveling guides for Warlords of Draenor, but those are unlikely to be written until close to the release of the 6.0 patch, since Blizzard always changes things at the last minute.

What does the Resto Druid Toolset look like?

Overall, resto druid healing won’t realistically change all that much in Warlords of Draenor. So, if you enjoy resto druid healing now, you should enjoy it in Draenor. Resto druids are still primarily HOT healers, with some supporting direct heals. Our AOE healing toolset remains relatively unchanged. You will use tranquility, wild growth, rejuv, and shrooms as your main AOE spells. Our single-target toolset consists of lifebloom, healing touch, regrowth, and swiftmend.

A recap of the spells with major changes:

  • You will keep lifebloom on a tank. It now only has one stack, which means you don’t have to maintain the three stack anymore. Letting it fall off for the bloom may sometimes be worthwhile, since it doesn’t have the same ramp-up to maintain it.
  • Wild Growth now has a cast-time, instead of being instant. This does not, however, benefit from omen of clarity.
  • Wild Mushroom now only applies the Efflorescence ground effect, and no longer has a direct healing component. This expires after 30 seconds, and has a 30 second cooldown. We can no longer move or bloom the wild mushroom.
  • Tranquility‘s effect has been simplified. It does the main set of ticks without any additional HOT component. It should heal everyone in the raid.

Major stat changes:

  • Multi-strike causes your spell to have a chance to do additional damage or healing to your target. Our direct heals and HOTs can multi-strike, so resto druids can benefit from this stat. However, efflorescence won’t multi-strike.
  • You will still care more about mastery and haste than multi-strike or crit.
  • There are no more haste break-points for HOTs.
  • Versatility is a stat that provides a smaller benefit to multiple stats. This ends up being the worst of the resto druid stats.
  • Restoration druids get a 5% bonus to haste, as part of the new “attunement” bonuses.

Level 100 talents:

  • The level 100 talents are largely lackluster now, but Germination in particular is pretty good. I would suggest Germination as the best new player option of the three (extends rejuv’s duration by 3 seconds, and allows 2 rejuvs per person instead of 1).
  • I would avoid Rampant Growth, as this makes swiftmend consume your HOTs (and in most situations, this is almost always counterproductive). The trade-off of having no cooldown on swiftmend doesn’t seem a large enough benefit given that trying to maximize use of this talent will likely drain your mana. There may be specific situations where this is helpful, but that would likely be fight-specific.
  • Moment of Clarity allows more than one spell to benefit from the mana reduction of OOC, but only has a duration of 5 seconds (and starts from when the buff occurs, not when you first cast a relevant spell). This means that omen of clarity can sometimes fall off before you use it if it randomly procs at the wrong time in your healing rotation (omen of clarity traditionally only lets one spell benefit, but has a decently long time period for you to use that one spell). I have found it difficult to get off more than one spell that benefits from OOC when playing with this talent, so it will likely only be beneficial at high levels of haste for people who are good at maximizing the benefits. So, this may work as an advanced talent for players, but is likely to be more of a penalty than a help for newer resto druids.

Warlords of Draenor November Release

Yesterday, Blizzard announced that the Warlords of Draenor expansion will be released on Thursday November 13th, 2014. The opening cinematic primarily features the orcs. This seems to be inspired by the Warcraft 3 story, evoking nostalgia for people who played the earlier RTS games. The cinematic, however, doesn’t tell the whole story of the expansion. It’s just a teaser that shows one of the many plots.

The opening cinematic is good, but it doesn’t tell the whole story of the expansion, and it doesn’t tell us what the game will feel like when we play it. None of the other opening cinematic videos really have either.

For the Alliance!

In playing the beta for the expansion, I am overall pretty happy with the direction of questing for the alliance. The opening Shadowmoon Valley is shaping up to be a great zone that largely features  the Draenei. The alliance storyline carries through several of the zones I have quested in. Later in leveling, the battle for Shattrath is one of the most heart-wrenching quests I’ve ever done – and that’s before they even put in the cinematic videos for the quest and we’re left to using our own imaginations during <insert epic video here>. The alliance has a great story coming in Warlords of Draenor. It may just require us to actually read quest text as we level.

The video that actually shows the diversity of environments and story plots is actually the gameplay “Warlords of Draenor in action” video that people largely overlooked when waiting for the opening cinematic reveal. This shows much more of the environments you will encounter in the game. Even if the cinematic doesn’t inspire you to want more, the gameplay shots should be more intriguing. There are some great stories in store for us as we level. Uncovering these stories is part of the fun.

Why do druids hate the merging of travel form?

When the developers decided to merge all of the druids’ travel form buttons into a single button, this theoretically made sense. If you are in water, the most efficient form is swimming in your aquatic form. In places you can fly, the most efficient form is flight form. In place where you aren’t in water and you can’t fly, stag form becomes the only usable form. So, the concept of merging them all into one button (where the game chooses the most efficient form for you) seemed like a great idea.

So, why do people so adamantly oppose the merging of these seemingly redundant forms? Why is this something so terrible there are four posts on the Beta forums, even after Blizzard thought they addressed all our concerns? Why are druid shapeshift forms a problem rivaled only by arms warriors for the contest of most class complaints?  To answer this question, we need to talk about what shapeshifting means to druids.

What shapeshift forms mean to druids

For some context, shapeshifting is one of the key things that druids do. Many people chose the druid class because they like shapeshifting. In fact, our forms are so popular that 8 of our 13 minor glyphs in the Warlords of Draneor build are tied directly to our forms.

In addition, the aesthetics of druid forms are so important to the druid class that my most popular guide on this blog is NOT either the leveling guide, or the healing guide. The charts I made mapping the bear/cat hair colors to worgen and troll forms rival my actual real guides for viewer counts. In fact, I’m actually embarrassed that I didn’t invest more time into making them “pretty” when I originally threw them together – two expansions later, they still draw the most consistent blog hits via google searches. In fact, in the last month, the two color charts for worgen and troll druids have had more than double the number of page views as my healing guide. Our shapeshift graphics are so important that we will need to make new mappings once the race changes are complete so that we have up to date color mappings between our hair and our forms.

We (druids) like to party

We interrupt this post to give you random druid parties across Azeroth:

Actually, wait, there’s more druid parties, and stag stacking!

In fact, I could actually post dozens of pictures I’ve taken at various druid parties over the many years I have been playing the game, but I think people would believe me when I say that partying in your forms, even a form that might not be the most efficient form, is probably one of the biggest features of the druid class. Sometimes, druids just want to have fun. This fun factor, however, is one of the hardest things to explain to people who aren’t druids. Why would people actually care about being able to swim in stag form when aquatic form is objectively more efficient? The answer really is just that druids sometimes prefer aesthetics over efficiency, and like having control over their forms. While everything else in the game, and the problem of “button bloat” was all about increasing efficiency, when it comes to our forms, flexibility and fun is what we care about the most. My balance druid on live actually glyphed for tree form just to have access to all the shapeshift forms on one character. It’s not rational, it’s just pure fun.

Forgetting the past?

Lets also not forget what happened when they tried to take away the original grumpy tree form and turn it into a big beefy cooldown tree. That’s why it got added back as a cosmetic glyph – because druids really liked having that button on their button bar and the ability to use an outdated form (even after they complained that it was ugly and needed a graphical update in the first place). Even the generic cheetah form couldn’t go away completely, and had to stick around as a PVP glyph. Druids really don’t like having their forms taken away, and the happiest you can make druids is to introduce new colors or form variety.

A possible glyph solution?

While the developers still didn’t quite understand our fascination with our forms, they changed glyph of the stag to have the following effect: Your ground form is the rideable stag that can carry a party member. Then, your flight form becomes a new button, seperated from the other shapeshift form. However, this has one very fatal flaw for all your friends. When you have someone on your stag’s back and you go into the water, you still shift into aquatic form, leaving your friends behind in the water to drown. So, at the very least, this glyph needs to be changed to have all three forms back on their own buttons so you can’t risk drowning your friends on accident by having them fall off your back when you go into a puddle that is too deep.

In addition, earlier I said that 8 of our 12 minor glyphs are all cosmetic. To be able to take this glyph, you can’t take the cheetah glyph, or the Travel glyph (that increases your mount speed). You also can’t take the cheetah glyph with the speed boost travel glyph either (likely a purposeful PVP nerf).

In the words of the almighty Alamo, “DURIDS IS 4 haf FUN TIME WIT FRENS”

Do we need a change at all?

For people that wanted the functionality of combining all our travel forms to one button, it was always possible to find a macro for shapeshifting. Thus, it’s not necessarily apparent that taking away druid form buttons actually helped with reducing button bloat in any significant way. The main thing that the change did was it took away choice and control, and that seems to be something druids care about more than efficiency or our number of buttons. I’m happy to have one more button for some cosmetic form I’ll never fight in. Thus, while this idea seems neat (and works better now that many of the bigger bugs are fixed), it’s still insanely unpopular. This remains unpopular even after they glyphed it to split off flight form from the rideable stag.

Is this change something we could learn to accept and live with? Maybe. In some of the questing, auto-shifting from travel to aquatic form seemed to be kinda helpful. However, it’s still a problem of whether druids prefer the efficiency of auto-shifting to the control of having separate buttons. I’m not sure that merging the forms is a change for the better, or if it’s just a change for the sake of change. In the end, this may be a problem where druids just want to have fun.