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Patch 6.1 Balance Druid Rundown

Patch 6.1 will be downloading in your Battle.net clients and the patch itself will go live this Tuesday.  There’s a handful of changes to Balance druids you should be aware of. Here’s the notes:

Force of Nature’s Treants has been buffed with a 35% increase to their health and spellpower, and an 80% increase to their armor and attack power.

Stellar Flare (Balance) damage has been increased by 16%, and now has a duration of 24 seconds (up from 20 seconds).

Healing Touch no longer heals for 50% more when cast-on-self for Balance Druids.

Balance Druids now learn a new passive ability at level 38, Nature’s Bounty.  – Nature’s Bounty causes Healing Touch to be Critical Strikes for 8 seconds after killing an enemy that yields experience or honor.

Starfall damage decreased by 16.6%.

Starfall and Sunfall now only hits targets affected with Moonfire or Sunfire by default. – Glyph of Guided Stars has been renamed to Glyph of Untamed Stars and is now a Minor glyph. Glyph of Untamed Stars expands Starfall and Sunfall to hit all targets within range.

Displacer Beast is now classified as an Arcane School ability and can no longer be used while silenced.

First up, let’s talk about the Starfall nerf.

Starfall right now accounts for around 20-25% of total DPS by Balance Druids across all ten fights in Blackrock Foundry.  The nerf means starfall will only be doing 83.4% of it’s previous damage.  The net result is that the average DPS for Boomkins in Blackrock Foundry will drop by 3.32%.  Single target fights like Gruul will see no change, while fights like Kromog and Beastlord Darmac will see a much larger reduction.  Overall, while no one is happy to get nerfed, this isn’t too bad.  There’s no playstyle changes here, you’ll just do a tiny bit less damage.

Next lets talk about the Talent changes; both of them have the same outcome. 

A slight damage buff to Force of Nature and a damage & duration buff to Stellar Flare.  This makes both talents a little closer to being competitive but at the end of the day you’re still not going to take either.  Why?  Force of Nature’s problem has always been rooted in the poor AI behavior and this damage buff doesn’t change that.  Even despite this buff Force of Nature still won’t compete with Incarnation.  As for Stellar Flare, Euphoria is too good for low-targets and Balance of Power is better for multiple targets.  To understand just how weak Stellar Flare is, here’s some math:

  • Stellar Flare does 39%+156% spellpower over 24 seconds, or 8.125% spellpower/second
  • Moonfire does 40.5%+292.5% spellpower over 20 seconds, or 16.65% spellpower/s
  • Sunfire does 40.5%+351% spellpower over 24 seconds, or 16.31% spellpower/s

Not only does Stellar Flare do approximately half the damage of Moonfire & Sunfire, but it’s hard casted!  The terrible damage combined with the clunky useability of the spell makes it simply not a viable talent choice in a realistic raid scenario.  There are extremely niche cases where 6+ high priority adds are alive for 30 seconds or more in which Stellar Flare will outdamage Euphoria or BoP, but this scenario simply doesn’t exist in the current Raid Tier

Next, the change to Starfall’s mechanics.

Starfall is now only going to hit targets affected by your DoTs.  This was previously the function of Glyph of Guided Stars, but they are making the Glyphed function baseline, and you can use the new glyph to return Starfall to it’s current state.

Do this immediately.  This change is catering to those learning to play Balance or unable to control their Starfall.  You are a raiding moonkin and understand the concepts of LoS and range.  You do not need this hand-holding to protect yourself from errant Starfall pulls.  Glyph of Guided Stars was always a DPS loss and they are now baking this DPS loss into the baseline skill.  The first thing you should do when patch goes live is acquire a Glyph of Untamed Stars and stick it in a glyph slot.  Fortunately this is only a minor glyph, and not a major (RIP Glyph of Aquatic Form.)

Time for self-healing.

Thanks to PvP, our self-healing got nerfed.  Where previously we were healing for diddly-squat, now we’re healing for two-thirds of diddly-squat.  This doesn’t change how you use Healing Touch, as if you were desperate enough to spam healing touch on yourself it doesn’t matter if it’s 100 hp or 66 hp, you need it and you need it now.  But hey, they gave us Nature’s Bounty so you can get 8s of free Healing Touch criticals when you kill something.  Yippie *eyeroll*

Finally, Displacer Beast was added to the Arcane School.

Just a useability issue.  If you get locked out of your Arcane School (by say, Hans & Frans roar) you will be unable to cast Displacer Beast.  This is pretty important if say, there’s a press coming down on your head and you can’t get out of the way without Displacer Beast.  This is what we call a ‘lose more’ change, as if you screw up and get locked out of Arcane, the potential to be punished for your mistake goes up.  Just don’t get locked out of your spell schools okay?

Welcome to 6.1.  Use the Untamed Stars Glyph, take a selfie of yourself crying about the Starfall nerf, and tweet it to me @Starfeathers.

Posted in Druid - General, Moonkin Balance DPS, Uncategorized, Warlords of Draenor, Written By Alame
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Group Finder PUGs: Personal Loot is Your Friend

Dear people who run PUG raids – forget everything you have been told. Personal Loot is the only loot system you should accept when joining groups using the Group Finder tool and 100% of the raid is a PUG. The common lore that Master Looter will give you more stuff in our PUG raid is absolutely wrong. It both fails at basic math (because mathematically ML and personal loot give the exact same amount of loot), and  it doesn’t take into account the amount of scams happening in raids every single day by random people making Group Finder raids for the sole purpose of scamming others (or who accidentally scam people because when it comes time to distribute loot, they have no reason to be honest). Instead, Master Looter is only of benefit if you are in an organized group (e.g., guild or other group of people who know and trust each other, or groups like Open Raid that can be organized and tracked so people can build reputations). The math actually shows that under cases of heavy loot competition (as would happen in PUG raids), you get more loot from Personal Loot than Master Looter.

The PUG problem:

The community in World of Warcraft has a huge loot problem. With the advent of Group Finder and tons of cross-realm raids, we have tons of people forming up raids to scam other players so they can keep the loot to themselves. While some honest people do form up raids and do master looter, someone joining a raid has no idea whether they are joining a scam raid or a real raid. In this loot culture, it feels as though there are  people every single day flocking to the Customer Support problems where someone “stole” their loot. In these loot dispute cases, if Blizzard finds evidence of the master looter running a scam, Blizzard deletes the items from the community and doesn’t give them to anyone. That is, every day, it’s theoretically possible that dozens or hundreds of loot items under the master looter system from PUG raids from the group finder are being destroyed and no one has them. There are even people making instructional videos to teach other people how to scam others without Blizzard being able to punish them. When people calculate the value of master looter, however, they don’t count these items that are lost to the void due to scams. Instead, they calculate the value of master looter assuming you are a guild group that distributes loot fairly – which is inherently untrue in PUG situations.

The people calculating the value of master looter aren’t taking into account the amount of pain that master looter causes to people who have their items ‘stolen’ in PUG raids by dishonest master looters every day. So, the question needs to be: why should you trust your master looter? If you have a good reason other than “because they said so,” then master looter is probably fine. If someone doing the master looting has a social contract or reputation to maintain, then master looter is probably fine. If they are a random person you found in the group finder and you don’t have a reason to trust them, then why should you let them control whether or not you get loot? While there are plenty of honest people out there in the game, Personal Loot is just a dramatically better loot system when you are running with complete strangers and you have no way of knowing if the raid leader is honest or not. In things like Oqueue raids where you can get a sense of whether someone is honest or not, then Master Looter is a great system. In random PUGs, there is no social contract to handle loot disputes, so even honest raid leaders benefit from Personal Loot in fully random PUGs with complete strangers, because then you aren’t responsible for dealing with petty looting issues and you can focus on having fun.

That is – even if you are an honest PUG leader in the Group Finder, you are still doing it wrong if you don’t run with Personal Loot because you are perpetuating a myth that Master Looter is better than Personal Loot for PUGs when Master Looter is worse for PUGs than personal loot by far. You do players a disservice by running master Looter in true 100% PUG raids where no one knows each other because there is no way to tell the difference between honest runs and scam runs, and that sets people up to be victims of the scammers. Instead, personal loot gives everyone the same amount of loot in real runs, and gives people substantially more opportunities for loot by totally eliminating scammers. That is, when you join a PUG raid, unless someone posts explicit, detailed, and clear loot policies in raid chat where everyone can see – you have agreed to hand over all rights of the loot to the person with master looter privilages.

Guilds do Benefit From Master Looter

You want organized guild groups among friends to be running with Master Looter - because that gives you the ability to redistribute items among your organized guild team and fill in gear gaps of people who need things. In this way, organized guilds get more items spread across their raid in ways they think is best. That is, the closer you get to your raid being saturated with gear, the more you need to control who is getting the items (e.g., gearing up a new raid member, getting the bow to a hunter who has had a terrible time finding a weapon, etc.).

So, master looter is only better in situations where the loot competition is actually controlled by gear saturation across a raid tier. When there are 4 people competing for a drop in the guild, each time someone gets the item, the number of people competing for the drop goes down by 1. You want to take away the loot opportunity from the person in full BIS gear and give items to the people who are under-geared, and that’s basically the only reason why guilds prefer Master Looter to personal loot in raids. In organized groups, controlling gear distribution means that items go to people who need that item the most, and fewer items get lost to being vendor trash by people who can’t disenchant.

We sometimes bring PUGs into our organized guild raids, and because we are a highly organized structure, we can’t take advantage of those people because our reputation matters in terms of being able to stay a guild. Thus, master looter only works when the person doing the master looting is tied to a social contract and has a social reason for wanting to stay honest – AND when you are guaranteed to have gear saturation with most people running together each week to hit a saturation point where master looter actually starts paying out better than personal loot in the first place.

No_ML_IN_PUGS

In PUGs, Personal Loot Gets You More of What You Want

In random PUGs, personal loot is better and personally gets you things you want more. That is, in PUG groups, there are likely to be more people for whom this is their very first time in and they also want that same item you want. That is, rather than one hunter with terrible loot luck you want to give the bow to, you now have 5 hunters who all want that one bow under a master looter situation. Every time someone gets what they want, they stop running in the PUGs and are replaced with a person who needs gear. Because the raid composition changes every single time, and you have no benefit of carry-over from the previous raid.

Master Looter is thus not superior to personal loot in PUG raids because you never benefit from gearing other people up – because you never see those raiders again (when they hit gear saturation, they stop running raids). If you assume that you always have to compete against 2 other people for loot, then personal loot always pays out better – and you may get up to twice as much gear from personal loot than master looter over the course of the expansion (e.g., your chance of getting loot drops from 79% over the course of a full Highmaul clear for personal loot to 33% across the course of a clear for Master looter – that is, master looter costs you tons of loot over time when you run in PUGs where lots of people need gear).

In the PUG, personal loot is better because it always gives you opportunities to get loot in PUG raids. Thus, personal loot actually gives you (an individual person in the raid) a higher chance of getting what you want in a PUG raid because you never compete for your loot rolls in the PUG situation with personal loot. Combined with the likelihood that a person running as master looter in a PUG raid will scam the other players in the raid, it’s not worth the risks to have a minuscule statistical chance of getting the item you want.

There are also risks to being someone who serves as the master looter in raids, because anyone unhappy about how loot was distributed will accuse you of scamming them and will report you. Thus, the risks of being a master looter in PUGs have a cost that people don’t talk about. The fact that actual scams happen every day with the master looter in random PUGs makes being a master looter in PUGs come with an unacceptable level of risk. Being in the raid with a master looter you don’t know also comes with an unacceptable level of risk. There is tons of risk, but no reward, to using master looter in random PUG groups with people you have no social connection to.

Why the myth of Master Looter is persists in PUGs

People are stuck on the conclusions that organized raid groups have come to and use the loot rules for PUGs that help high-end guilds be successful. People want easy answers, and so “master looter = the best looter” has become pervasive and consistent. Personal loot will give people in PUGs a higher chance of getting an item, whereas organized guilds benefit from being able to choose who gets the loot.

Letting someone choose who gets the loot in a PUG, however, pretty much guarantees you will not come out of the raid happy more often than not. If they make personal loot so much superior to master looter mathematically that even guilds would have to swap to personal loot, it would ultimately hurt the ability for organized groups to function. Our guild’s loot system is how we reward people for showing up, for communicating absences, and otherwise adhering to the social contract of our guild. That social contract also ensures that no one in our guild has to ever feel the risk of being scammed when it hits time for loot.

So, there has to be a different way to teach PUGs to use the loot system that benefits them the most. Getting scammed by dishonest PUG master looters, and reducing the risks involved in running PUGs is exactly WHY personal loot was invented, and everyone who lets themselves get burned just contribute to the problem. While some PUG master looters are honest, without a social contract with that person, you have no way to tell the scam artists from the honest, great raid leaders.

Common loot scams

This type of loot scam happens every single day.

PUG raids need to demand personal loot for people to stop getting scammed.

There isn’t a good solution to the problem, other than for players to just refuse to go on scam Group Finder Tool raids. It seems like the more obvious solution would be for Blizzard to prevent group finder groups from using master looter, but that won’t work. Instead, by taking away choice, people would just simply stop running in the group finder and would go back to using addons and other systems to bypass restrictions. Blizzard can’t make decisions about whether or not you trust the person who is controlling your loot. Instead, the community has to put their foot down and demand that Group Finder raids run personal loot if they are true PUGs. In groups where there is no social contract to ensure that loot is distributed fairly, you should demand that personal loot be the only loot system of choice. The only way to fix this cultural problem is for people to decide that Master Looter risks in PUGs are unacceptable and force PUG raids to run with personal loot.

That has to come from us as a community to say – no more chances for scammers to steal our loot. If your raid leader doesn’t have crystal clear loot guidelines, doesn’t have a good Oqueue reputation, isn’t someone you know, and doesn’t have any reason to be fair – then in you just shouldn’t trust them. The Group Finder tool isn’t meant for you to run Master Looter Raids. The new Group Finder tool exists for strangers to run together, and in this case, you should be wary of Master Looting Group Finder runs where there isn’t a clear set of loot rules stated in writing (MS>OS isn’t a clear set of loot rules). By Blizzard’s standards, all loot belongs to the master looter unless there are clear loot rules that show the person scammed you, and you never get the loot after you are the victim of a scam. Personal Loot gives you just as much loot over time as Master Looter will, especially if you end up in scam runs periodically where you have no chance for loot (even if you have 10 good runs for every 1 scam run where someone takes your junk). While some PUG raid leaders are honest, even PUG raid leaders would benefit from using the Personal Loot to avoid having loot drama. Guilds have a social contract to handle loot drama. Random PUGs are either going to have Personal Loot or drama. I think people should be asking for Personal Loot to avoid drama.

Posted in Uncategorized, Warlords of Draenor, Written By Lissanna

Spending the holidays in my garrison

Happy Winter’s Veil everyone! The new expansion launched quite successfully with a mad rush for everyone to hit level 100. I did a lot of traveling around Warlords launch, rushed to get ready for raiding, and then I came down with a nasty cold this last week. So, for the last week, I’ve spent my holiday break in my garrison.

WoWScrnShot_122714_122431

I may have also made my garrison defenders pandaren-themed (since I still have the barraks and my panda is only exalted with other pandas).

Without flying to encourage me to leave my garrison, I’ve gotten anything I could ever want directly in my garrison. I even got a 670 ilevel trinket from a Highmaul follower mission. Getting raid gear during our week off from raiding is pretty sweet.

However, I worry a little bit that we might be getting too much from our garrisons, and not being given enough incentives to walk out our front doors. My stables sent me out for a couple weeks, but now I’ve run out of stables quests. I don’t need as many apexis crystals anymore, so I’m doing fewer daily quests. My Inn quests are overflowing from my quest logs now that I don’t need gear from dungeons.

My cold zapped my desire to leave my garrison, and my garrison welcomed me with open arms to sit around and be lazy on my newly acquired holiday lounge cushions.

At least I have Pepe!

Posted in Uncategorized, Warlords of Draenor, Written By Lissanna

Druid travel form survey results

Hi druids! I have analyzed the data from 466 responses to the druid travel form survey. Below is the summary of the findings. This link will also take you directly to the Google analytics summary page (This includes the full 615 responses that were completed before I turned the survey off). Note that the Google analytics summary page dynamically updates and reflect the current results with more participants than what was used for the summary here. There isn’t a difference overall in the trends between the below analysis and the updated Google analytics.

Overall summary and design suggestions

  • While responses to the change are overall negative, there are some people who like the change (or like at least some aspects of the change). There was not a single consensus all druids agreed upon.
  • In general, there is less of a problem with ground travel and swim form being merged (other than general bugs with the transition out of the water). This was the aspect people rated most positively in both the multiple-choice and open-ended questions.
  • People instead most often report disliking having ground and flight travel forms merged. While glyph of stag addresses this problem for 13% of people responding, there are also others who either don’t want to use the glyph or don’t have their particular problem solved by the glyph (this included 9% of people who didn’t know about the glyph). For example, people who want to use the Cheetah glyph will never see their Cheetah form in places with flight enabled, since there’s no way to both split flight form from ground form AND use the cheetah glyph.
  • People also report a lot of problems where they fall to their deaths more often when in flight form (e.g., zoning, logging out and back in, or entering combat shifts them out of flight form), that increases their dislike of the merge.
  • It might make the most sense to split off flight form from the merged form permanently, rather than only via the glyph. Then, the Glyph of Stag should split ground and swim form, so that people stop drowning their friends when ground form steps over puddles when using Mount Form.

See the complete analysis below.

Sample Demographics

  • Druid Mains = 80% of sample; Druid alts = 20% of sample.
  • Level 90 druids = 95% of sample. Remaining 5% were below level 90.
  • 82% of druids have used travel form “sometimes” or “often”.
  • 33% of druids are currently using Glyph of Stag.
  • Travel form is most often used for solo questing, exploring the world, and herb/ore farming.

Travel form usage: 80% for solo questing, 76% for exploring the world.

 Summary of Open Ended Responses

What druids like about the change

  • The thing people most frequently report liking about the change is shifting in and out of aquatic form automatically (from either ground, air, or both).
  • Some druids also like the reduced button bloat, no longer having to use macros to do the same thing. In addition, some report ease of use or convenience as something they like about the change.
  • The pie chart below shows the responses after I coded them for frequency:

What druids like about the change to travel form.

What druids dislike about the change

  • Druids most often report dislikes related to loss of control, flexibility, fun, or choice related to their shapeshift forms.
  • In particular, druids often reported a dislike of having the ground travel form and flight form merged. This was particularly problematic for people who had been previously using the cheetah glyph, as cheetah form can’t be used in flight-enabled areas. In general, the glyph of stag is not suitable for addressing the concerns related to merging ground and flight form together, especially due to the exclusivity with other glyphs, and the feeling of “wasting” a glyph spot.
  • People listed many other types of dislikes, including problems where the glyph of stag causes riders on the back of stags to be dismounted when shifting into water. Some people also just generally disliked the change entirely.

What druids dislike about the change to travel form

Multiple-Choice responses

  • Only 22% of druids said that they liked the changes made to travel form (13% neutral, and 63% dislike). In addition 72% suggested they liked the old separated forms better.
  • Overall, 75% of druids feel that the new travel form prevents them from doing things they would like to do.
  • In addition, 67% suggested they had concerns about control over their shapeshift buttons. Only 13% of people said that glyph of stag addressed these concerns.
  • However, 65% of druids said that having land travel form shift into swim form when they went in the water was helpful.
  • 55% of druids find the new travel form frustrating to use, but only 28% find the new form confusing to use (thus, the frustration likely stems from other problems, rather than from confusion related to the change).
  • Please go directly to the Google Analytic link to see the pie charts for each multiple-choice question.

Percent of people who like the new travel form designThanks everyone for your responses! My summary of the bug reports and problem open-ended question (which can be seen in the analytics summary page) will be submitted elsewhere to save space in this post.

Posted in Uncategorized

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