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Now with more fire!


Old screenshot from the Fireland raiding days. :)

So, druids should all be familiar with the infamous Fire Kitty staff from Firelands.

We recently had confirmation that the effect from the fire kitty staff is now available without the staff. You can get seeds (5 at a time, each seed lasting 1 hour) from Firelands. Since the Burning Seeds are bind on account, you won’t be able to pick them up from the auction house. Instead, you have to actually go to the Firelands instance to get them.

So, now you can get the temporary fire kitty buff without having to keep an outdated staff equipped (I for one know how embarrassing it can be to get caught in the wrong outfit half way through a raid). We all know how much druids enjoy being on fire. Or at least, that’s what we try to tell Juvenate.  More details available on WoWhead.

Posted in 5.2, Feral DPS Cat, Written By Lissanna

Repost: Talent points: When more isn’t better

Remember back in Wrath of the Lich King (not that long ago), when we had these hugely cumbersome talent trees? You had to invest 5 points in things that you get for 1 or 2 points now. New players looked at the giant web of 1% increases to abilities, and talents buffing abilities you didn’t normally even use (ie. Improved faerie fire for moonkin was a source of constant frustration for the druid community for a long time). You spent talent points on buffs and debuffs that benefited your raid, so everyone spent 2 of those talent points improving Mark of the Wild (we spent 5 points on improved MOTW back in Vanilla & TBC). As a reminder of how daunting those talent trees used to be, lets take a look at a picture of the WOTLK talent calculator:


Why am I showing this to you? Well, lets take a look at our very recent history. In this case, the final talent point in a tree is 51 points deep. For Cataclysm, rather than making the talent trees 56 points deep (and then 61 in MoP), they shrunk the talent trees for  Cataclysm. This streamlining got rid of a lot of talent point sinks (no more Improved Mark of the Wild), and reduced the point cost of a lot of talents (ie. Cataclysm’s tree has mostly 1 to 3 point investments). Cataclysm also constrained you to only being able to put points in one tree until you hit the end, to stop the endless cycle of trying to create ultimate hybrid builds by investing points split more evenly between two trees (ie. the “restokin” specs this blog was named after).

As someone who maintains a leveling guide for WOW, I often interact with new players to the game who are first trying to navigate the druid class and figure out how to spend their talents. Talent trees largely have a “right” and “wrong” answer. For a restoration druid at level 85, Wild Growth is NOT optional, it’s NOT a choice. It is something you HAVE to take or you will fail at being a restoration druid. What is the difference between automatically receiving Wild Growth as you level and placing a talent point in Wild Growth? Well, really absolutely nothing. The only real decisions you get to make are for talents that increase your damage/healing/survivability/utility by leess than .05%, as those end up being non-mandatory talents, and when you run out of “mandatory” talents, you are free to pick through whatever unhelpful dredges are left in the talent tree to figure out which ones are the most likely to provide some benefit (and often times, people make the wrong choices even for “optional” talents).

However, Mists of Pandaria (and beyond) have the same problem of needing to give you more talent points and additional class progression in a way that has the ability to turn talents back into this sort of jumbled mess.More levels means more points, and that means more filler junk, more confusion,  more spreadsheets, and creates all sorts of balancing issues.

My recent adventures in Star Wars: The Old Republic has taught me one thing… That more talent points isn’t always better. The SWTOR talent system is modeled off of the Burning Crusade and WotLK style talent trees. When I started my first character, I had to figure out what talents I wanted to invest in. As a brand-new character, I looked at the talent tree on Torhed (wowhead’s SWTOR equivalent) and saw a bunch of talents that largely say: “Improves your Blah by 1%”. When you are new to a class or game, you don’t know what those abilities do, just that the talent says it makes the ability a tiny bit better. You often invest points in talents that you realize later you aren’t ever actually using. I ended up having to change my talent spec somewhere between level 20 and level 25 because I realized that my talents just weren’t fitting the rotation I was actually using in combat. The talents just didn’t seem to  be doing anything to help me, and getting to place a talent point in minor stat upgrades every level didn’t really have any real meaning at all – it just slowed down my leveling process by having to go out in search of trainers that could help me undo all my mistakes (and it took me half an hour to find a trainer that would unlearn my talents in SWTOR).

Another approach to “talents”: Diablo III
In addition, I spent some time playing with the Diablo III beta, and saw how their skill system ended up feeling a lot more meaningful than the talent choices I was making in SWTOR. In Diablo III, you choose what skills you want to use (and add runes to augment those abilities), and your choice of one ability prevents you from having access to others, as there is a limit on how many abilities you can have at one point in time. In Diablo III’s skill calculator, you can have up to 6 active skills (which you can change if you need to), and you get to choose 1 of 5 possible runestones to modify that ability, and you get 3 passive skills that also improve your effectiveness. In this case, there isn’t an obvious answer as to what “spec” you should be, since every Wizzard may end up with a slightly different arrangement of skills, runestones, and passive abilities. While you still have the opportunity of making bad choices, you do get the ability to make your character’s build much different from other people and it allows for much more variety.

Based on all of this, I decided that I am all in favor of Mists of Pandaria’s new talent trees.

The MoP system keeps the best part of WoW’s talent system for each class (ie. the core choice of being resto, moonkin, cat, or bear for druids), and borrowed some of the better choice mechanics from other games that force you to pick one at the exclusion of being able to have another ability instead. In MoP’s system, you don’t choose your core spells through this new talent tree. Instead, you choose utility abilities that will augment your character’s power (regardless of which specialization you choose). All those old “mandatory” talents become things you automatically pick up, which were never really about making choices in the first place.

Does the Pre-Beta version of the MoP talent calculator still have flaws? Sure. Some of the utility choices don’t really provide something every druid would want to use. However, I think those individual talents in the MoP system are a lot easier to fix than a plagued system that permeates too many video games. I welcome the simplification in terms of number of points, and I welcome the increased complexity of not always having a “right” answer. Sometimes, simple systems still have a lot of complexity. At the very least, the MoP talent system allows for a lot more growing room for future expansions.

Posted in Druid - General, Feral Bear tanking, Feral DPS Cat, Moonkin Balance DPS, Restoration Healing Trees, Written By Lissanna

Repost: Bearcat Madness

OK, so I (Garnaph) know this is a Resto/Boomkin blog, but it’s about time I posted something that’s pretty hardcore Feral. Blizzard is soon going to split Feral into two separate trees, and what I’m about to say is the reason why. Also, with this being the last tier in which I’ll be able to pull off this trick, this is the perfect time to blog about it.

My raiding team got into P2 madness this week on 10 man normal, in spite of the fact that most of my top raiders are away, and I had to grab guys from the other team (which is also having attendance issues), alts, basically whatever I could find to get a group together. It’s not a kill, but progression is progression, and this was a pretty big deal for us.

Our success came down to a few things. Naturally, the team worked together well, but I’d like to think I pushed everything I could out of my Druid. Arielle and Reesi talk a lot about Bearcatting. Here is why it’s the most OP crap in Wow right now.

That’s me, tanking tentacles when my Pally tank gets an impale, but otherwise staying in cat as much as possible. My gear is optimised for cat, with reforges into stats that are good for both (Mastery, then Crit), with Mastery and Agi enchants, DPS leg enchant, and Assassin’s Step on boots, because I just can’t live without the speed increase in Bear. Oh, and the DPS meta.

Then, I have a spec that’s as pure cat as I can get it, with the vital Bear talents thrown in : Thick HideNatural Reaction, and Pulverize. When I shift bear, everyting works as intended. I had to make sure I took Stampede for Kitty 4pc, and Blood in the Water for 2pc. With 4pc, the kitty rotation is a joke. About to drop Rip? Either 1+CP Bite at under 60%, or pop Tiger’s Fury, get a free Ravage and 2 Shreds with the energy you just got, and you’re good to go for a 5CP Rip. If your target is over 80% health, Ravage is basically a Guaranteed 2CP.

Speaking of tier bonuses, I make sure I’m in bear when we’re on the 4th platform (we do Blue last, so we eat the shard on the last platform), which means my FR 4pc is up as the raid takes the mental burst. 15% health + 30% healing taken (make sure to have the FR major glyph). I also stay in bear when we’re killing the shard, since I don’t want to strain my healers any more than they already are.

So basically, rather than sitting around being useless when I’m not needed as a tank, I push DPS as good as the next guy, which helps to get over the fairly rough DPS check on later platforms, where you start losing haste, dmg done, while having to deal with adds that are increasingly hard to kill, especially once Alexstrasza decides to take a nap.

In spite of the emphasis on cat dps, remember there are times that a bear can push nice AOE. When bloods are about to spawn, I shift bear, autoattack the limb to get some rage, then as they move in range, I pop enrage (15% dmg anyone?), and Swipe-Thrash-Swipe. With the Spellweaver splash damage, plus the Vengeance that you quickly get, this is some intense burst AOE.

Oh, one final tip. Since cats really suffer on target switches, ask your raid leader really nicely if you can stay on limbs, and not have to switch to take down Blistering Tentacles. It makes your life a lot easier, and you push way more DPS, which in the end is good for the raid. Alternatively, just don’t switch, and see if anyone notices :P Being a raid leader myself, I get away with murder sometimes…

Druids are the only class in game with 2 specs in one. Enjoy it while it lasts.

Posted in Feral Bear tanking, Feral DPS Cat, Written By Garnaph

Repost: Feral 4.2 Gear

via Restokin by Garnaph on 7/6/11


As with the caster gear list I posted earlier this week, here’s the list of all relevant feral gear (for both bear and kitty).

I’m not going to comment too much other than some first impressions. I’m posting this mostly as a resource and less as my own point of view as to what’s BiS. I’ve noted which pieces have haste, as bears regard it as their worst stat, and as of 4.2 it’s a much better stat for kitty than it used to be.

Note that this does not include any Heroic items. Instance drops, tier pieces, and the vendor relics have HC versions, which are pretty much upgrades on the existing stats.

Also note that the daily reward items are a lower ilvl than the raid drops (365 vs 378), and as such will likely be replaced very quickly. That said, they’re certainly an upgrade over any 359 you came into 4.2 with, so they’re worth mentioning.

For details as to how the new firelands dailies work, read here.

Rep items are obviously from the Avengers of Hyjal faction.















Posted in Feral Bear tanking, Feral DPS Cat, Written By Garnaph

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