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Updates to MoP Talent calculator

So, it looks like we got a nice MoP talent calculator update for druids. For this post, I’m just going to go through a handful of the bigger changes. I’ll do more focused critiques for resto & moonkin over the next few weeks. The change list isn’t inclusive of all the changes. I’m just highlighting some of the bigger changes.

Major talent changes:

  • None of the talents force-shift you into shapeshift forms anymore (except for displacer beast which is okay because it activates prowl). The talents are all useable in all forms. One additional awesome change is that all the feral utility abilities (dash, taunt, stampeding roar, etc) will shift you into an appropriate feral form if you are not already in form. So, the effect that used to be on the talents are now just on our baseline feral utility abilities (yay!). For tank swaps, if you are outside of bear form & need to taunt, you wouldn’t have to go into bear before taunting – taunting would just now shift you to bear.
  • All 3 level 15 movement abilities were changed. Wild Charge replaced dash 2.0 in the level 15 talents and they are all relatively caster-friendly now. Displacer beast sends you 20 yards forward (no longer random & dangerous), and feline swiftness increases the movement speed of all specs by an equal 15%.
  • New Talent (Soul of the Forrest) replaced the spot where wild charge used to be (does Eclipse power gains for moonkin & casting haste buff for resto).
  • Bear hug is now a baseline ability. Level 75 talent replaced with Mighty Bash. This requires you to be in melee range to stun the target for 5 seconds, but at least it is useable in all forms. I’m not totally sold on the level 75 talents for caster druids, but the talent set is better now.  They all seem really situational for PvE purposes.
  • Master shapeshifter is gone (as predicted). Replaced with Dream of Cenarius, where using healing spells give you a damage buff & using damage spells give you a healing buff. This is still situational and won’t likely be a DPS/HPS increase for your main role, but is still potentially useful for off-role utility purposes depending on how it ends up being implemented. Requires some beta testing for the mechanic to see if it ends up being useful or not. It’s better than the original horrible talent, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it is ready to go live as currently designed. It has more potential for being decent with some tweaks as we test the talents.

Overall talent change impressions:

Druid talents are obviously harder to get right than any of the other specs. Nothing really feels that amazing for PvE purposes in pretty much any tier. However, the are significantly better than the original talent tree versions. The problems with heart of the wild haven’t been addressed, but we are at least headed in the right direction and we can see that they are listening to at least some of the major criticisms about the original set of talents. There is still a LOT of work for us to do over the course of beta, but a lot of these talents now need to  be tested & theorycrafted instead of just being totally laughable.

Moonkin Ability Changes:

  • Eclipse gained an interesting effect, where Solar Eclipse will cause wrath to increase the duration of sunfire & Lunar Eclipse will cause starfire to increase the duration on moonfire.
  • The new insect swarm increases all spell damage by 25% rather than only increasing the damage done by our three nuke spells. I’m not sure what I think about the change or how it impacts what I wrote about earlier.

Conclusions:

All of the dispel abilities have cooldowns now for all the classes, which is the only major change to resto abilities. I didn’t see any other major resto spell changes, and I’m not looking at the cat/bear ability lists for time reasons (because I didn’t memorize the feral tooltips prior to the changes, lol). Symbiosis was clarified to say that it can’t be cast on other druids. The talents are now at a point where we need to test them in beta to really be able to see how they are going to work in the new content. Some of them may be very useful in certain encounters that we just haven’t seen yet, and some of them may turn out to be totally useless.

Posted in Cataclysm, Druid - General, Moonkin Balance DPS, Restoration Healing Trees, Written By Lissanna

Insect Swarm in MoP

Edit: My timing sucked & this changed in the new calculator update. I edited this post to reflect the new changes. Edits are in itallics and outdated info has a strikethrough so you can see the changes.

So, we still have another month before we expect new Mists of Pandaria information. Today, I thought I would take a look at the new insect swarm ability as it is currently worded in the MoP talent calculators. Like all other things in MoP, this ability is subject to change.

  • The new insect swarm reads: (instant, 7% base mana, no cooldown, 40 yd range) “The target is swarmed by insects, increasing all damage taken from your wrath, starfire, and starsurge abilities by 30% for 1 minute. Limit 1 target”.
  • The new insect swarm (updated 2/15) reads: (Instant, 7% base mana, no cooldown 40 yd range): “The target is swarmed by insects, increasing all damage taken from your spells by 25% for 1 minute. Limit 1 target”.

Why change Insect swarm? So, this spell is no longer a DOT in MoP. Right now, it can account  for anywhere between 20% and 30% of our damage done in PvE. However, having both insect swarm and sunfire as DOTs that benefit from Solar Eclipse (and not having an arcane version of insect swarm) means that it contributes to the need to “solar cleave” for AOE damage. Removing one of our DOTs completely will make solar cleave much less beneficial for us. So, I believe that hampering solar cleave is the primary reason for the change.

The good: Changing insect swarm from a DOT to a debuff does several beneficial things:

  • One less DOT to track & rely on for DPS
  • Makes Lunar & Solar Eclipse more balanced. Combined with a better Arcane AOE rotation (where hurricane will comeback to be useful again), this pretty much destroys any chance for Solar Cleave to be as prominent in MoP.
  • Update: The Feb 15 change makes it effect all damage instead of just your nuke spells, so it would increase moonfire/sunfire damage and the AOE damage done to that one target. This is a slightly better version than the previous iteration.

The bad:

  • Makes PvP damage much more difficult, since DOTs account for a lot of the damage done in PvP for moonkin right now.
  • No longer available to resto druids (and resto druids don’t have sunfire).
  • The new insect swarm still has to be managed & refreshed multiple times in an encounter, since it has a short 1 minute cooldown (ie. in a 10 minute fight, you will still need to keep an eye on the debuff to make sure it doesn’t fall off).
  • It doesn’t do damage anymore, and it doesn’t provide any real utility. The tooltip suggests that it will only buff your spells (not the resto druid’s, not the other moonkin’s spells).
  • You can only have it on 1 target at a time, meaning you will have to keep re-applying it often for target-switch fights and for PvP.
  • We don’t know if it can be dispelled in PvP, and will leave moonkin largely unplayable in PvP if it can be dispelled.
  • It will be balanced such that your nukes will do 30 25% less damage when that buff isn’t up, and when your Eclipse is also down, it will make your nukes particularly weak. This will cause huge balancing issues for any PvE fight where you have to  switch targets a lot, and will really suck for PvP in particular where they’re also getting hit with the removal of being able to rely on DOT damage. Normally, I ignore PvP in my posts, but this is one place where I’m really worried about moonkin ever becoming PvP viable if the new insect swarm  makes things go from bad to worse.
  • Makes moonfire/Sunfire our only source of movement damage right now, leading us to really need to have the ability to cast our nukes while moving to remain viable for any type of content.

Options moving forward:

  • It could be possible to just leave Insect Swarm as a DOT and see if we still solar-cleave after all the other changes to the spec. I actually think that having Lunar Eclipshere effect some of our AOE abilities (ie. the new HurrArcane) will fix the solar cleave problem without changing IS.
  • It could be possible to remove insect swarm altogether. Our moonkin mechanics are already complicated enough that it is hard to master the spec, and there is a huge DPS gap between good moonkin & great moonkin, making the spec hard to balance. Having one less timer to track means that we’ll be able to have more moonkin succeed, and will prevent the changes to the spec from over-complicating our rotations further. They could also just make moonfire/sunfire increase the damage that our nukes do if they want this  spell effect without having to use a new spell to do it.
  • They could make sure that it is PvP friendly. Make insect swarm undispellable in PvP or reduce the effect from insect swarm to make it less punishing when it’s not on the target (down to say 10% or 15%). They could also increase the duration so that it was a little more “set it and forget it” for single-target PvE fights.
  • Make insect swarm a “finishing move” or a DPS cooldown. There are plenty of other tools moonkin could use more than the new MoP insect swarm effect. They could make it such that insect swarm was something we only cast when the target was below 25% health, or make it a cooldown that increased the damage from our nukes for only a short period of time. It would be a lot better if we could use it for controlled burst damage periods (say a 20 sec effect on a 2 min cooldown or whatever would be appropriate & balanced). Celestial Alignment doesn’t give us any burst damage if we are already in Eclipse (it only helps when we get caught outside of an Eclipse for an AOE or burst phase), so giving us another burst DPS cooldown (even if it only effected those 3 spells) would really help for burn phases in PvE and allow the PvP druids to get off more damage when they aren’t being focused (ie. pop displacer beast & then unload your cooldowns to nuke the target).

Conclusions:

With how many changes are being made to the moonkin toolkit overall, it will really be hard to see how this all works out until we get into Beta, or at least see the talent calculator updates. However, the current version is likely going to cause a lot of headaches as the tooltip is written. There is, however, still a lot of time between now & release, and this may be an ability that undergoes several revisions before it goes live (at least this prediction has already come true in today’s talent calculator update, lol). What do you guys think about the new insect swarm design?

Posted in Cataclysm, Moonkin Balance DPS, Written By Lissanna

Repost: Shakk’s guide to surviving patch 4.3

I (Shakk) have been doing a lot of studying of logs, analyzing data, compiling fight specific information, and testing in-game, what 4.3 means to resto druids. My conclusion, we are in a very good place in both 10 and 25 man raids for healing output. Some folks would question my logic on this, some folks would follow me into a black hole blindly, and some folks will test the numbers for themselves. However, no matter if you fit into one of those categories, or you’re simply looking for information on our changes, I encourage you to read through my information, and tips before you make a final decision on the state of resto druids.

4.2 Wild Growth vs 4.3 Wild Growth

Like myself, when most people heard about the 20% reduction to WG, they were completely blindsided. I actively started crunching numbers, and throwing out what if type statements, and even considered brushing off the dust on the old paladin and gearing him up to play in Dragon Soul. However, I’m still actively raiding on my resto druid. At first glance the hit to our WG looks like a kidney shot, shadow dance, and ambush to our healing numbers. (I’ve had my rogue on my mind all day, love my fear and vengeance) But, after entering into heroics this weeks, I think most of the community way overlooked the positive side of these changes.

Lets take for example in 4.2, the power of WG vs Rejuv. Rejuv, is hands down our best heal. It is efficient, it does a small direct heal, and we can swiftmend off of it for a super efficient direct heal, with an added AoE effect. On average, I found that a fight that utilizes both stacking and movement phases (much like the bosses in Dragon Soul) our WG healed for 31% of our effective healing, assuming 100% up time. Thus it allowed for an average of 16% effective healing from rejuv. Which, was fine if you are into a basically fixed rate of healing between your GCDs and the next WG you have to cast.

Now, 4.3 drops you have WG glyphed (which I highly recommend doing), and you heal a fight. You pull up that good old recount to see how much you crushed the other healers by, and notice that on average your WG is only doing 22% of your effective healing. You scratch you head for a second, but overlook an important part of your effective healing. Rejuv is now sitting at a 25% effective healing, you cheer to yourself for a second, and then fear strikes you for the sake of your mana. (Editor’s Note: Lissanna would like to note that the benefit/cost of the WG glyph changes somewhat depending on whether you are raiding 10-man or 25-man. You should try raiding with & without the WG glyph and choose what works the best for you and your raiding situation.).

Hi, I’m Your Mana, Please Manage Me

I think part of the change came, when blizzard realized that we could drop our spirit to super low levels and boost our throughput significantly. It felt like a wrath style of healing, and I for one did not like the direction this model was taking us. So by helping us choose to use rejuv more, we now have a new problem. Our mana isn’t endless anymore. Have no fear though, you still have that little button on your bar called innervate, and it still works.

If innervating yourself, using a potion, and utilizing other raid members mana cool downs isn’t enough anymore, try looking at other areas that you can change to fix your healing issues. Consider swapping out a throughput trinket for a regen trinket, altering your spec for less throughput and more conservation, or reforging off some of that 22 mastery you have for a little bit more spirit. If that still doesn’t correct the problem of you going oom 3 minutes into the fight, consider adjusting your healing style, to conserve your mana.

FYI: Tranquility’s graphic is broken in tree form.

Compensating Without Running Oom

So you just jumped into Dragon Soul after reading the first section of this guide, you got some more spirit, adjusted your spec, and dusted off innervate and bound it your action bar just like I said. You pulled Yor’sahj the Unsleeping, slapped a rejuv on each person taking damage, swiftmended on cool down, and even spammed Healing Touch on the tank when he took high amounts of damage, but during the second round of adds you had 3.2k mana left, and were fresh out of cooldowns.

In all seriousness, a lot of druids will run out towards the end of the fight if they aren’t careful. Let your heals run the full course, don’t overlap and stomp on them. If there is a period of high raid damage cast WG and then start your rejuv and mastery cycle. You want to start with the players that weren’t hit by the initial WG, but only to a point where you feel you can recover and regen more before the next big burst. Utilize Efflorescence on clumped up players, and don’t take nourish for granted. If you can’t use rejuv anymore, because your mana is pretty tight, toss out nourish. The other healers in your group will appreciate the small heal, more than you standing there looking pretty.

If there are multiple phases of high AoE damage, plan them out accordingly in your head, while you are learning the boss. If I spam rejuv during one of the phases, typically I will enter into a regen phase during the next one with ToL and rolling LB out to raid members taking damage, then for the next one I might tranq if the damage is high enough.

Part of compensating is also managing mastery. I can’t stress this enough to players that ask me for advice on boosting their output. Especially now that WG had its healing reduced, you need to keep harmony up. It can and will save your mana. One heal, is always going to be cheaper than two, when you are topping someone off. Its free additional healing, utilize it.

Final Thoughts

As with any change to a class, it brings in new ways of doing things. The nerf to WG, is not by any means a game changer for us. We simply must learn how to compensate without over compensating, and manage our mana like the rest of the healers. One can not simply look at how another class is performing, and rate their class based on it. Druids are still the best mobile AoE healers, we still bring a strong throughput cool down with us, and we are still a very competitive class, that I don’t see being tossed aside. Learning how to appropriately balance spell usage is part of being a good healer and is not restrictive to one class. Having a properly set-up druid, and using our entire toolkit, go a long way.

Source: World of Logs

*In an effort to protect the information I gathered from particular fights, and players I will not be disclosing which guilds/players I selected for the data*

Posted in Cataclysm, Patches, Restoration Healing Trees, Written By Shakk

Repost: 4.3 Resto Druid Dungeon Companion

Today, we have a new “voices from the community” post by Shakk on US-Sargeras, in the guild Seriously Casual. He is a restoration druid, and today he will be talking about the new 5-man dungeons and strategies for resto druids. He may be joining us as a more permanent fixture (like Garnaph). We’ll work on improving the blog’s interface to better distinguish between posters “soon” now that the blog is growing bigger with more writers.

As people prepare to take down the new Dungeons, Raids, and the new Raid Finder difficulty, a lot of young resto druids might feel lost, or somewhat discouraged when they set foot into the more difficult content. I want to stress that communication is key. Being able to talk to members of your party to help you get through a fight, will make or break you in any environment WoW throws at you.

In this guide, I will cover how to handle the mechanics that will be thrown at you as a resto druid. Being that we aren’t a “snap” healer per say, we have to manage our toolkit a little bit more tightly in 5 man encounters, to ensure that we have enough heals to mitigate the damage going out. I will discuss mechanics that I feel, after multiple clears on each one of these dungeons, will have a fight changing mechanic for your class that you will need to be able to handle.

—End Time—

The first two bosses that you will encounter are randomly chosen out of 4 bosses. I have listed information pertaining to each one below.

Echo of Baine

  • Baine will target a platform that players are present on, and destroy it. Sending everyone into the lava, and taking damage. If all players are on the same platform expect to have to blow a cool down to keep everyone up. I recommend ToL and Barkskin to make sure everyone makes it out of the lava.
  • When Baine comes into contact with lava, he gains an ability called Molten Fists that will cause him to deal 10,000 additional fire damage to the target of his melee swings for 10 seconds. Be prepared to dump additional healing into your tank, however a tank cool down will help you get through this phase.

Echo of Jaina

  • She does not melee the tank; instead she casts [Pyroblast] at him the entire fight. It was a little more aggravating to heal through then a standard melee boss, as it cannot be interrupted and leaves an undispellable dot on the target. It is essential to manage uptime on your Lifebloom and Rejuv on the tank. Also I found, once she teleports and the tank gets back into position, a well-placed Efflorescence will greatly reduce the incoming damage.
  • The avoidable part of this fight is [Flamecore] which places a meteor on the ground that players must run over within 10 seconds. However, she sometimes throws it in a bad spot, and you might have to take the effect of it. So if you have a suspicion that you are not going to get to the meteor in time, ensure everyone is close to full health and be ready with tranquility.

Echo of Tyrande

  • There are basically two areas that you fight this boss in, the inner ring and the outer ring. If you are inside the inner ring, you will have your casting speed slowed by 25%, however if you are standing in the outer ring you do not have a casting speed debuff, but there are additional ground mechanics that are easy to avoid. I chose to stand on the outside, and dodge the abilities. This allowed me to benefit from my entire toolkit.
  • At 30% she will have 2 stacks of her casting speed buff, and she is casting 50% faster. Also, she adds a new ability called [Tears of Elune] and the damage is going to really ramp up. Be ready to use your strong cool downs. Also make sure you do not enter sub 30% with low mana, as this is the most challenging portion of the fight. ToL and Tranquility will more than likely be essential for you to survive this.

Echo of Sylvanas

  • Arguably one of the easiest bosses to heal in this instance. Although, there isn’t any game breaking mechanics or high damage phases, you should note a couple of things. If the target of [Black Arrow] dies from the dot, or the initial damage, they will have a skeleton summoned from their corpse to fight for the boss. Also, if someone steps into the shadow behind the ghouls, they are pretty much a goner unless you have Nature’s Swiftness and HT immediately on them, and they get back into the safe zone.

Murozond

  • [Temporal Blast] is the debuff you need to be aware of. At the first application, it deals 25k arcane damage, but applies a stacking debuff to damage taken. As the fight goes on, it becomes difficult to heal through.
  •  The only other thing I am going to touch on, is that the hourglass refills every players health, mana, and resets all cool downs. You can activate the hourglass 5 times, so do not be afraid to use your cool downs when the damage is going out, and make sure to hit the hourglass when things start to spiral out of control!

—Well of Eternity—

Peroth’arn

  • In this encounter healers need only be aware of a couple high damage abilities. [Corrupting Touch] is a stacking tank debuff. The second and most important is [Fel Decay] which will cause the healer to take damage, based on how much they heal the target of this debuff. Ensure you have enough health to survive.

Queen Azshara

  • This fight doesn’t have any fight changing mechanics built into it. However, it does have stack damage that you need to be aware of. As more minions become active, there is going to be high levels of raid damage. If you can avoid using your cool downs with fewer minions up, it will significantly aide you when you must deal with multiple at one time! I recommend saving tranquility for later in the fight.

Varo’then & Mannoroth

  • Illidan grants himself a buff called [Waters of Eternity] which greatly reduces fire damage taken. It is a great idea to stand close to him whenever possible.
  •  The area that you as a resto druid should shine far above other healing classes is [Fel Firestorm]. All you have to do is constantly run around (think Baradin Hold) while it is active, and heal people that take damage. Do not stop to heal, or you will take damage. Only use hots and instant casts.
  • Once Varo’then is defeated. I found it easier to stand on top of the tank for the rest of the fight, so they could pick up the mobs that were spawning and I wouldn’t suffer pushback.

—Hour of Twilight—

 

Arcurion

  • [Chains of Frost] is a dispelable root that he places on players and holds them into place. Coupled with the icy boulders that are raining down on you from above, it is imperative to get this dispelled as quickly as possible.
  • At 30% is when the AoE damage kicks in, the boulders are still coming and Arcurion activates [Torrent of Frost] which causes roughly 15k damage per second to all party members, if your group is slow at burning consider having a cool down available.

Asira Dawnslayer

  • Asira will randomly drop a [Smoke Bomb] equivalent to that of the rogues ability, however hers does damage to all players inside of it. If people are taking too much damage inside, remember non targeted heals will hit players inside the smoke bomb. Consider using Wild Growth or Tranquility if the damage is too high.

Archbishop Benedictus

  •  [Righteous Shear] & [Twilight Shear] are two dispellable abilities during this encounter. They both deal high amounts of damage to players. You must remove the stacks of this debuff, although Thrall does assist you in this, two dispellers are better than one.
  • The Archbishop will also summon a [Wave of Twilight] on the platform. If a player fails to move out of the wave, immediately pop Barkskin and another ability to get your raid topped off. The damage will keep being dealt as long as the person remains in the wave.

Sources: In game testing, the dungeon journal, and wowhead for up to date links

Posted in Cataclysm, Voices From The Community, Written By Shakk

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