So, supposedly I have added the power to link wowhead stuff with tooltips. While this is neat, it doesn't really provide any REAL utility or point, it's just fun.

Let us link the staff I want, for instance. Notice that it isn't this staff. This is because while the Staff of the Forest Lord has ~250 more attack power and also a handy amount of armor ignore. Coupled with Faerie Fire, a feral druid would be sporting 1000 armor ignore without any on his armor (and it just so happens that my armor has about 200 more, and 1200 armor ignore is nothing to laugh at).

I'm thinking about playing some restokin for fun with a hunter friend of mine. I'm really not hurting for arena points anymore and I want to try some weird specs and combos.

... what ... OKAY... FINE... I saw Deep 6 and noticed he was playing restokin+hunter to great results. Still, it might be fun.

Bookmark and Share


I took down the feral stuff. NO, I didn't get the merciless maul. I went ahead and bought the S3 kodohide legs and threw some golden spellthread on them. Yeah, I'm giving up on going feral for a while... it's just kinda dumb how Blizz doesn't really want to address feral at all. If Blizzard would come out and say "everybody has 3 specs, 1 is for pve, 1 is for pvp, and 1 is for grinding" I would be fine because feral+balance are pve/grinding trees, and resto is pvp. That would make sense, but blizzard simply cannot take a stance on it.

SIGH. Ferals can do well in arena, they just need the right makeup... and we don't have it. I should stop fighting against the grain and get in line to try and do well. That being said, I'm still resto, but I will probably give restokin a try here in a bit. I would be sporting ~1650 healing, 185 mp5 while casting, and 400 resilience, so it would probably work. Anyway, I'm in 3/5 s3 kodohide now (grr, kinda wish I didn't buy the feral gear, I'd have 4/5 and be complaining about the shoulders right now), and it'll be another couple weeks before I get the s3 helm (upgraded from s1... yeah... I'm cheap). Oh well, slowly moving out of my welfare epics. Lawl. I'll try and post something if I spec restokin.

OH. Right... so, the new hardware. It's pretty awesome. WoW runs MUCH more smoothly now, and I can actually do movie capture without too much lag now. So, I'm going to try and get some arena footage and we'll see how that works.

Bookmark and Share

New Stuff

So, I came back to work yesterday after taking a sick day to myself, and thankfully I went the entire day without so much as a dizzy spell. This is all well and good, but otherwise I had to deal with the monotony of work. Sigh, so I did what I always do, I hit my web comics, read the slashdot news, then hit digg. There is something amazing about browsing digg after not having looked at it for a day: there are literally 10-15 pages of news that you will have missed. Now, I say news, but some of the 'articles' are really just funny pictures that diggers liked or dumb little clips from YouTube. However, occassionally there will be an actual news story, like the one posted in the wee hours of wednesday morning.

"Apple has released a video card upgrade kit for the first generation Mac Pros on the Intel chips. NVidia 8800 GT 512MB."

Holy pooping jehovah! I have a first generation Mac Pro on the Intel chip and I thought that we would never see an upgrade besides the ATI x1900xt (which is overpriced, not really designed as a gamer card, and has huge problems in the general user comments particularly concerning WoW play). So, I ordered it on the spot. I just helped a friend of mine set up a gaming rig and he had a PCIx 8600GT and WoW runs at a constant 75 fps even in the horrible areas where shaders and particles are flying and going nuts. I assume (based on the reviews I read) that the 8800 is, if not better then, at least comparable to that. Maybe I will get lucky and can finally start playing with Movie Recording going on... SWEET. Apple is marketing this card (with some nvidia pushing, I'd assume) as a gamer card for the first generation mac pros. Essentially, this extends the lifespan on my mac by a few years. I can't wait to see how HL2 looks with this card in. It's supposed to arrive mid-to-late next week, so I can hardly wait.

MAN, I want to hit some real ratings. Playing 10 a week just doesn't cut it. Once my brother graduates, we will likely spend a couple days straight just farming our rating up. At present, warrior+druid and lock+priest does extremely well against most other cookie-cutter teams, and we can win 60-70% of the matches we play. All that's left is getting in the time and games to a decent rating. Also, since our 2 teams occupy the same team-space, they should be able to climb faster than a single 2s team alone. Why? Well, it's simple really. The team rating climbs faster than the personal rating does because the team constantly gets the changing rating, whereas each player only gets as much as they play.

Here's an example: say we go 5 games on druid+warrior and 5 games on lock+priest and we win 3 and lose 2 on both teams, and each win/loss is worth 15 rating. If our team AND personal ratings were 1500, then after those 10 matches, everyone's personal rating will be 1515. However, the team rating will be 1530. Long story short, we have been doing this on our current team, except that the situation is not so simple. Our druid+warrior switched to this team from another team, thus resetting their personal ratings to 1500. Yet, our lock+priest had gotten their team AND personal ratings up to 1700 or so. This was in the midst of respec'ing and odd game play. So, the warrior+druid team played 3 games of the 10 and let the lock+priest team play the rest. It started out well, the warrior+druid team would win 2 and lose 1, then the lock+priest team would usually win 5-6 and lose 1-2.

The interesting thing here is that the warrior+druid team was getting matched up against 1700 teams (because that was the team rating) but having their personal rating changed as if they were 1500 (because their personal rating WAS 1500). So, we would beat a priest+warrior team at 1716 and though the matchup only netted the team 15 rating, our personal ratings went up by 24. We were doing something interesting, but not exactly gaming the system. Then we spec'd feral+warrior... which was a mistake, admittedly. We would lose 3, then let our spriest+lock team try and salvage the week. It got to the point where we actually had a 7-3 week (or close to it) a couple times, so our lock+priest team would only gain personal rating and watch the team rating stay the same. We were gaming this system reasonably hard now.

Oh well, that's all done with. I know that our warrior+druid team can win most of its matches, and I know that our priest+warlock team beats almost every conceivable healer+warrior team. The trick with healer+warrior is just knowing what to do when the warrior picks a target. If he picks my lock, then I have to get him to follow me out of the healer's LoS... which is hard sometimes, but I can usually fear the healer if he DOES get into LoS. Also, my spriest friend will be busy mana draining the healer while keeping dots alive on the warrior. Usually, I will just quickly summon out my voidwalker and get the huge melee mitigation and have the priest throw shield up on me a lot. I can withstand quite a bit of warrior beat-down as long as I have the voidwalker out. Also, we NEED to remember that ProM is better than spread, so we can't have my pet on the priest even though we need the spell knockback. Oops, lost my train of thought... sorry. Anyway, with this knowledge that we are good players and have good team make-ups, we should be able to devote some time and energy and get our ratings up to a respectable level once my brother graduates.

Can't wait for my new video card...

Bookmark and Share

Hello Again

Well, I took yesterday off because of this horrible dizzy sensation I have been experiencing for the last week off and on. So, I went to the doctor and he gave me some anti-vertigo medication and said that it is probably nothing, but if it persists for another month, I should check back in with him and we will run a bunch of tests.

Anywace, so spec'd back to resto for arena last night, and spec'd over to my crazy rapeguard+spellcrit spec on my warlock. I have to say, resto+warrior truly is about 1000 times easier than feral+warrior... but that should be no surprise. We beat priest+warrior (easy because the warrior was lagging amazingly... well we all were, but he was worse off than us), lost to warrior+paladin (because it was Lord... there just isn't much I can do against a warrior on lord... not enough obstacles to run around while avoiding JoJ), then beat mage+rogue. Beating mage rogue was interesting because they were terrible, but we won 18 points from them. They didn't even bother sapping my warrior, and instead let him get the charge off on the mage, who just blinked, summoned his pet, and started spamming fbolts while the rogue showed up. So, I busted ns-ht on my warrior, hot'd him up, and got into a position to run like mad when I got chased. I also locked down the rogue with roots and feral charge to let my warrior get him low, then as they chased me across the diagonal (an interesting new trick I'm trying in Nagrand against mage+rogue and spriest+rogue because it hinders LoS long enough for me to get out of range THEN behind the opposing pillar), I saw the rogue get to a point where CloS seemed likely.

Here's the thing about WoW: it's an action-queue-based game mechanic. What do I mean by that? Well, to compensate for the lag that will be inherent in any MMO, they implement a queue of actions that hit the server. However, they are timestamped and therefore reorganized on the fly. For complicated game mechanics like CloS, the initial call to casting CloS gets made to the server, and when it fires, it really does two things: it removes all magical effects from the rogue, THEN makes them resist 90% of magics used on them. How do I exploit this? Simply by casting Faerie Fire right as CloS is cast. If you time it correctly, my understsanding of what actually happens is this: CloS is popped from the actions queue, so a thread removes all magical effects from the rogue. My "faerie fire that rogue" action is added to the queue. Upon removing all magics from the rogue, another action is added to the queue: "give rogue buff 90% resist". From here it becomes pretty simple to see what happens, the Faerie Fire is applied to the rogue, then the 90% resists is applied. Essentially, if you guess when the rogue is going to use CloS correctly, you can always drop Faerie Fire in between immunity and removal of magics. The only hitch I have seen to this strategy is that the rogue HAS to have some magic on him for CloS to take time to remove, otherwise the Faerie Fire will get resisted because "remove all magics" will finish too quickly.

Okay, so I Faerie Fired the rogue, my warrior is at full and immune to Polymorph... we win because he just intercepts the rogue (who should have vanished but couldn't) and completes killing him. Uninteresting, if you ask me. So we get on our warlock+spriest team to see what's up. After respecing to the rapeguard+crit build, I have about 18% paperdoll crit, 422 resilience, and 955 spell damage. Also, I have an additional 4% spell crit with destruction spells, so with 22% spell crit, I can actually land some sbolt crits on warriors and rogues. To top it all off, I also have a random 80 spell penetration for those pesky felhunters we face all the time. I have basically decided that we cannot let them live any longer. Yeah, I could banish them... but the diminishing returns on banish were screwing us against a priest+lock combo last night. We lost 2 matches to that same team... very sad. ANWAY, we went against shamang+warrior, priest+warrior, priest+lock, druid+lock, mage+rogue, druid+warrior, and that same priest+lock team. We beat every team with a warrior in it, and the reason is because warriors are rocking less than 400 resilience in full pvp purps, and therefore have about 10% reduced crit chance. So what? Sew buttons, my friends. I have 22% chance to crit with sbolt on a warrior, after his resilience I have 12-15% chance to crit a warrior with an sbolt. I don't need to do it often because warriors essentially ignore me when they see a shadow priest to beat on. So, I get to sick back, put all my dots out, CoT the healer, and just unload sbolts into the warrior. 15% means about 1 in 7 sbolts will crit a warrior. Luckily, I can usually get off between 10-15 sbolts on a warrior in any given battle, so I am likely to have one crit.

Long story short, the spec seemed to work out fine, and though I'm not spell hit capped anymore (because I didn't take suppression in the affliction tree) I am still not seeing TOO many resists since I have my 80 spell penetration. Even against warrior+priest, where the warrior has shadow resist for 80 shadow resist, I just ignore it down to zero and continue my unholy bombardment of destruction mixed with dots. My spriest, on the other hand, is not so spec'd for spell criticals, and therefore relies more on his slow dot damage and great utility to get the job done. This is okay with me, his dots provide a ton of dispel buffering and while he dispels stuff, himself, we also get bubble and another fear to help out (though we need to work on our fear communication because we tend to fear at the same time which causes DR to hit quicker).

Conclusion: the new rapeguard spec seems to work wonders against the cookie-cutters out there currently (usually healer+dps), but has some major trouble with outlast teams, such as priest+warlock (although, it just rips through druid+warlock because the warlock can be ignored a little easier when teamed with someone who won't be bursting through our dots AND mana draining me). That's how we lost both matches, the lock would mana drain me and dot my pet, so I had to do damage quickly THROUGH heals and mana burns. Essentially, unless we figure a better way of draining the priest, we're not likely to win that match.

OH, for some reason, last night the 2s queue times were non-existant. Every match had a queue that lasted less than 15 seconds. It was amazing, I hope it's here to stay.

Bookmark and Share


So, I'm at work and I log onto my warlock because I want to see something for a test I plan on doing, but it was reliant upon what my stats looked like under certain conditions... well if that wasn't confusing enough for you, I equip the pvp gear I want and look at my paperdoll, and the resilience seems reasonably low considering I am wearing 2x felweave and 3x dreadweave. So, after a little exploring I figure out that I'm not equiping the right trinkets or my wand.

Fine, so I slap my wand on and put on my trinkets for pvp and it still seems a bit low. I look at my (what I think is the) Medallion of the Horde and notice that it has a 5 minute cooldown note appended to the description, and there's no resilience on it at all. "WTF" I think to myself here at work spazzing out because I am looking through my bags and not seeing the Medallion version with resilience and a decent cooldown. "BAH, it must be at the bank... fine" So I mount up and head to the bank.

Nope... not there either. By now, I'm getting rather worried, because I did delete something the other day which required me to type "DELETE" before it would actually delete it... but I don't think it was the medallion. Anyway, after a long time agonizing over whether I deleted it or not, I decided that I may have never actually purchased it on my warlock to begin with. A 2 minute cooldown versus a 5 minute cooldown is not the end of the world, and 20 resilience will not keep me going much more than my current amount anyway, as it would knock me up to 442 resilience.

Okay, aside from that bit of shananagans, I decided to try out a crit-heavier-rapeguard spec. I don't actually know exactly how much crit I will have after a respec, but I have done some guesstimation and decided that about 11% paperdoll crit sounds about right. So, there are some talent points that I can switch around from the build. I decided that putting points into Demonic Resilience might be a waste. Don't get me wrong, that ability is glorious, however I am usually not the prime target when it comes to 2s matches, so having the ability to take less damage when I usually don't take damage until it's too late anyway seems like a waste. Additionally, the full 3 points in the talent that says "when you gain mana, your pet gains mana" might be a bit much because my pet only needs mana for cleave (maybe not... it's not a huge boost, but if he's going to have mana problems with this spec, I'll turn it off) and intercept, so I only will put 1 point in it. That will mean when I life tap, my pet will gain ~500 mana, which should be enough to continually intercepting casters and what-not. Additionally, I'll be dropping improved life tap because I'm not a healer+warlock team, so I cannot continually lifetap all the time... which is a little backwards, but I want to try sacrificing it, and I will be also dropping the two points in Suppression (the anti-resist). It only affects affliction spells, so it only affects my curses and corruption. Don't get me wrong, I need those to land, but going from 1% chance to 4% chance to resist isn't so bad considering I have ~100 spell penetration randomly.

Why am I talking about taking points out of stuff!? Okay, so I'm going to put five points into Demonic Tactics and four points into Devastation, which will add up to a hefty 9% spell crit for me (and a nice 5% melee crit for my rapeguard... which is always handy). Okay, I know this sounds weird, but it will put me at about 20% spell crit with sbolt, my primary damage bread-n-butter in the 2s arena. Basically, I lay down my dots and start dropping sbolts while trying to fear around the off-target, etc etc. I know I don't have Ruin in the build, but even without Ruin, an sbolt will crit for 2.2k, which is a nice bit better than then 1.6k it does on a hit, also it applies the Improved Shadow Bolt debuff, which is amazing on our team because as I continue spamming sbolt, they take more damage. I don't know if this will be the best setup, but I think it will be interesting with our play-style. Here is the build, for reference.

Okay, let's talk about WotLK for a bit. Man... I KNOW I said it before, but if I hit level 80 and there are no amazing talents deep in any tree, the warlock is going to have some amazing synergy builds to choose from. Essentially, the warlock has a play-style that is similar in almost all scenarios: demonology is the outlast and damage build, and it is good for all brackets of the arenas.

Here is a build that I think will play amazingly at level 80 for pvp. It has your instant cast corruption, full Demonic Resilience, Soul Link, and Rapeguard for damage and survivability, and you take the critical strike abilities with Ruin to get something that will play outlast AND drop huge sbolt crits on people. This is such a good looking build, I just cannot imagine what abilities, combos, and talent points they could add to the game that would keep me from rolling this.

This build
gives the player the survivability of the demonology tree, the damage of Rapeguard, and the drain-tanking of the affliction tree. This is a shadow dot build that is not reliant on critical strikes for big damage, but might prove ineffective against defensive dispellers unless a priest is around to help by adding their 50 dots to the mix too. It will be the same story as it presently is: you can dispel the dots if you want... but you can't get them all, and we'll keep reapplying them... and they'll always get 1-2 ticks off... plus you won't be healing.

There are a number of different builds to consider if one were to focus mainly on damage output. At the present, shadowbolt is really the only direct damage shadow spell that gets anything from the destruction tree, so unless they add a new better series of combos (or other damaging shadow spells), the destro tree's bulk is mainly focusing on only the fire spells which doesn't leave much synergy with any other tree. However, one CAN spec to get the most out of his sbolt spamming and still have some survivability (though not nearly as much as a soul link build). This build, for example, gives shadowfury (which gets bonus damage from shadow mastery over in the affliction tree). It gives up most the fire talents in the tree and focuses on sbolt damage and dots as the primary means of destruction. It has Ruin, obviously, but also picks up the siphoning abilities to continue draining through damage. Alternatively, this spec will yield a lot of damage output because of master demonologist, but it loses some of the better abilities in the destruction tree due to deep bloat (namely, Nether Protection). There is not much survivability with this build outside of Shadowfury, so it might only be used a defensive mechanism, but with the quick summoning, one could argue that getting out a void walker for a sac isn't a bad survival tactic... I just find it hard to spec that deep into the demonology tree without taking soul link.

All these synergy builds don't really exist for other classes or specs... there are just some specs that are bad and in need of huge improvements, so one would expect Blizzard to recognize that and fix it in the deeper talents of the trees which are expected to be released with the level cap being raised. Feral, for example, needs a couple obvious improvements: while damage output is good, and now with a healer survivability isn't much of an issue, it brings into the light the fact that druids need a snare and/or an ability that reduces healing taken by the opponent. Really, that is the only thing that scares healers is the MS-link abilities in the game. Rogues are amazing because they can keep such an ability almost constantly applied while dealing amazing amounts of damage, and warriors can keep it up and dish out decent damage but also tank a lot of melee damage better than a rogue can. In any case, there will never be a healer+feral 2s team that is amazing unless one of those two issues is addressed (and I'd prefer the snare to be quite honest).

Essentially, you can look at a spec or class and determine how "done" the class is in terms of tweaking based off of how the synergy between trees looks. Obviously, if you have to put all 61 points into 1 tree to do a certain job, that's a negative. So, we use classes like hunters or warlocks and see the amazing synergy between their various trees and notice that they don't really care what the WotLK brings in terms of talents, because they can see that if they simply had 10 more points, they would have an amazing build without having to worry about the deep talents as much (unless they are amazingly overpowered... which seems unlikely). I think I like that Rapeguard+Ruin build the best, and unless they make something amazing, or game mechanics change so drastically that crit builds are viable again and the 51 points talent in Destruction is "Your critical strikes do 50% additional bonus damage" or something that makes crits HUGE... then I expect to see a lot more synergy builds to come from classes played by players content with their current position in the World of Warcraft.

Bookmark and Share

How to Start the Fix Arenas Need

There's a problem inherent with the way arenas work at the moment: they can be exploited reasonably easily. Here are the fixes require to quell the current state of hacking involved with most arena problems:

1) Once you enter an arena (meaning you hit that "Enter Arena" button when one popped), you cannot change your gear except your weapon slots. You are in your gear, you are not going to switch what helm you are wearing, etc. Normal weapon swapping is allowed because it is a supported game mechanic.

2) Personal ratings no longer reset when you leave/join a team. You had a 2200 personal rating in 2s and dropped the team to power up a friend of yours? Fine, but you have a 2200 personal rating on the team, and that will have consequences (soon to be discussed).

3) The team match-making system will be changed to use the combined item worth of all equipped armor (not gear, just the armor since it cannot be switched once you agree to enter a match). So, if you have full s4 and your team mate has all s2 and you are just pumping him high enough to get weapons or shoulders or w/e, you will face teams with s3/s4 comparable gear, since that is the weighted average of your gear's weight.

4) Wins/Losses will be against the average of the team's personal rating, then applied to your personal rating. This means, if you are a 1300 teamed with a 2200 rogue and you face a team that averages out to 1800 personal rating and you lose, you will only lose 1-4 personal rating, but your 2200 rogue will lose 40 (or however much an 1800 loss would cause a 2200 to lose).

These changes make it MUCH harder for people to "pump-sell" ratings to undergeared scrubs. That is, it makes it MUCH harder for a 2200 rogue in full s4 to get a s2-wearing resto shamang up to 1850 to get his weapon and MUCH harder to get to 2200 to get his shoulders. Also, this makes win-trading much harder as matchups are now determined against armor, so someone cannot simply log onto his alts and his mains at 5AM and queue and expect to ever get those two teams matched against each other since the gear is completely not comparable and getting into the same rating bracket would be that much harder.

Just some thoughts on how Blizzard could improve their system so that it would have fewer loopholes for cheating and would even out the match-making system for legitimate players.

Bookmark and Share

Not a Whole Lot Going on...

What with taxes needing to be mailed out by tomorrow, and the current state of 2s arena play... okay so those two subjects do not meet logically on the playing field... but they are both depressing topics, so they have some relation at least in how they make me feel. In my last post, I mentioned spec'ing back and forth for arena play, this is still the case, but it gives me options to try new play-styles to see what works and what does not work. I had been the Nature's Grace build before, but I think that it might be time to go back and try the HoT build again since I have attained more resto gear. Essentially, I had picked up the regrowth build because it was the best way for an undergeared resto druid to put out any burst when Swiftmend was on cooldown. Now, however, I do not need to rely on regrowth as much, so I think that going back to the feral charge build will end up being the best strategy.

Enough druid talk... spec'ing resto is going to be boring, but hopefully it nets me some wins. We just want to keep our rating up to get some points until my brother graduates. So, I have very little room to grow my feral skills, in this regard, until we get a team with a healer. I have heard reasonably good things about ferals when there is a healer behind him and I desperately want to give this a go, but I do not know any good pvp healers who 1) are not already on a team, 2) would be willing to give this a go, or 3) good enough to play this team well.

BAH. I said enough, and yet I continue. Let us talk about my warlock. I forgot to get my spell crit trinket out of the bank when initially spec'd destro, so I grabbed it and saw that I still had my Eye of the Beast from the UBRS days (which has 28 spell crit rating on it compared to my Bladefist's Whatever which has 26 iirc), so I slapped that on as well. Then I remembered about Spellstones and how they have crit, so I busted out one of those as well. Then I went to the Hall of Legends and bought my vindicator's wrist and belt. Long-story-short, I do not have the best enchants and I am running around in a PvP scenario without a PvP trinket, but I have hit ~20% paperdoll crit (25% on destro spells, 35% on searing pain) pretty painlessly. Painlessly, in this context, means without sacrificing the 400 resilience mark to get 20% crit, although I did dip down to 885 spell damage WITH Fel Armor on... which is a little unnerving. Oh well, I suppose I could go farm the bracer spell-damage enchant for a couple weeks and get some decent spell damage from that. It doesn't really matter all that much, however, because I will be going back to felguard for arena tomorrow to get the macros I use back in place, and all that, and I will be back at the ~1100 spell damage mark, which is always good.

a brief pause

Look, WotLK has finally (and apparently out-of-the-blue) hit the internal Alpha testing phase. What does that mean? Well, quite simply it means this: all our arena trials and tribulations are for naught. Well, no, that's not true. They were indeed fun times, and we faught as hard as we could, but it means that once my brother graduates from college, we will finally have the time to do arena, but there will not exist a need to with the expansion on the horizon. It means that we can do some arena for fun, and sit back and wait for leaked WotLK info (intentionally leaked or otherwise) to get us salivating for it. We will have less drive to get that 2.2k rated team (oh yeah.... the s4 shoulders will require 2200 personal rating... wtf) and compete as true pimps, and instead look to the future. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted... hopefully we get some leaked talent trees soon.

Bookmark and Share


K... I cannot make feral+warrior work. There are simply too many team makeups that roflstomp this composition. Essentially, the only team we can beat is healer+warrior, and we have YET to face one in six attempts... sure I could give it more time... but why. I am just going to respec resto for our wednesday arena matches (respec'ing for 3 matches... lawl) then spec back to feral so I can do the dailies on sunwell isle (SO MUCH GOLD). Thank the devs for the dailies over there; they are all bundled up in a nice little 80g package. So, I can cover my respec costs in ~1.25 days of dailies. Awesome. Oh... and yeah, I'm still going to be buying feral gear with my arena rewards. Once my brother graduates we'll try and get a 3s or 5s team together with feral+warrior+healer as the basis for the makeup.

Let's talk about my warlock for a moment. WAY back in the day, when I needed the resilience badly I rolled 3x dreadweave and 2x felweave for the 2x 35 resilience bonus. Today, I have 4x dreadweave and 1x felweave. I will have the arena point to replace my hat with the s3 dreadweave this tuesday... but I don't think I'm going to do it. Why? I was watching Drakedog7 the other day and decided that since both my toons are rolling in gold because of the dailies, I would spec destro for fun and mess around with it. Oh my golly... destro is fun. Wait, let me qualify that: Destro is WAY more fun than any other spec. Yes, the other specs are better for arena play... but holy moly... destro is amazing in battlegrounds. I can do something other than "dot dot dot pet sbolt dot dot pet dot sbolt etc". I actually have combos to play off of... I can take warriors/rogues 1v1 (which is hilarious because I have less survivability as destro) and I drop bombs on unsuspecting people. Anyway... I WAS saving up honor for the Battlemaster's Audacity, but I still need something like 28 alterac valley marks... so nuts to that. Instead, I'm going to spend my honor on the vindicator's gear (I have veteran's dreadgear... but I have enough for the vindicator's wrists and belt/boots) in the destro fashion. Apparently, you are a good destro lock when you have ~20% paperdoll and I have 11% at the moment and I feel THAT plays amazingly.

So anyway... at least my lock is fun again. Feral is fun, but honestly, I cannot arena with him... and that's a real problem for me. So, I'll post back some big crit images or w/e.

Bookmark and Share

Blackrock Mountain

I just watched an amazing video that summarized what pvp used to be, and what it is now in WoW. It's only 5 minutes long, but it really does capture how pvp used to be (read: amazing). I do not feel that the blizzard developers knew exactly what they were doing pvp-wise when they made black rock mountain, but it is pretty undeniable that it was the site of some of the greatest blood baths to ever take place in Azeroth. PvE guilds and PvP guilds alike would amass in this dark pit with the simple thought of getting their raid going and getting those sweet epics that made them salivate furiously.

Just like there was on the sunwell isle, a tense cease-fire existed between the factions. The general thought of "we're only trying to get to MC... we don't want any trouble" was on the smokey air and for a while, peace existed. The alliance kept a distance from the horde, and each let the other go about their business without so much as a death. We will never know who struck first blood, the alliance or the horde, but we do know how it happened on every server: one person was late to the raid, and the other side pounced on him like killer bees. Something was said over ventrillo -- "the just jumped me outside... I need help." Forever more, Blackrock Mountain was a crucible of open world pvp. There were no discussions of class imbalance, there were no arguments over welfare epics, there was only anarchy.

These were the healthy, young, days of pvp. The days before battlegrounds, the days before arenas, the days before people complained about the gimmicks of other classes that existed simply as the counters, or aggravations, of their class' abilities. These were simply better PvP times. Now, PvP is driven around arenas, then battlegrounds, then world PvP, and there are only incentives in place for excelling in arena, and too a lesser extent battlegrounds. Yet, now that I have my arena gear... what do I do?

I feel that it may be time to try and rekindle the old flame of world pvp. It might be time to try and break this stand-still that exists on the sunwell island. I accidentally attacked a rogue while doing a daily quest yesterday, and I backed off, and he seemed to understand that I meant him no harm because he continued grinding. This is going to end: I am going to be killing alliance tonight.

Bookmark and Share

Oh... the spec

I know I know.... no fear resist or natural shapeshifter...

SURE, it's not the best bg setup, and it's definitely not the best outlast setup... but it get you "awesome cyclone" and let you keep your damage output. So, I'm looking at this spec saying "hmm, this COULD actually be the best feral spec for a 5s team."

Here's how I see the 5s team working: the opposition will initially cc our healer and warrior as best they can, and will run the full dps train on our shamang. If our shamang lives through the burst in the beginning and our healers can keep him up, then they will probably focus on me rather than CC me. That being said, I'm there to deal damage and drop some cyclones/roots, as I am the only druid on the team. If they focus fire onto me (and are melee damage dealers) I will switch to bear form and outlast their damage (if only I did not disenchant my tanking staff, I would have something to switch to to boost my armor considerably... oh well). If they focus fire me and are primarily casters, I can feral charge, bash, warstomp, etc, to get out one off me while I soak up the heals in cat form. Also, it is easier to get cyclone off on a caster than it is on a melee when they are attacking you, regardless of Control of Nature.

No, I only really want control of nature for those moments when I'm getting beat on and I NEED to get a cyclone on someone, be it because they are low and you want to burn some healer mana, a healer himself, or just want to root a rogue who has burned his cooldowns over in the corner away from the fray.

Bookmark and Share

Arena: 2s Bracket

In the twos bracket, there are a variety of compositions that a team can become and excel with.

First, and foremost, there is the double dps team, which relies on the steady downpour of damage raining upon one opponent until he finally succumbs to agonizing death. A prime example of such a team is my warlock+priest team, when we face opponents who attack my priest, we win... every time... without fail. There is no question there... it just happens. When they focus on me, the match is harder because my priest does not have the direct damage output I do by keeping dots up and spamming shadowbolts. Interestingly, the aspect of this team that makes it so deadly is the utility coupled with the damage. This team has the fear ability which can (usually) lock one partner out of a fight for a good duration while the damage train runs over the other.

Second, there is the healer+dps teams. Again, one of those two has to be the utility player, and it usually works out to be that the better the team is, the more one-sided the utility is. For instance, druid+warrior was a cookie-cutter build until patch 2.4. The reason was because the warrior would deal the damage (a massive amount of damage as time goes to infinite) while the druid would keep everything healed WHILE applying ample amounts of crowd control. The biggest draw of that team was the fact that the healing continued even while the druid was cc'd or casting ccs, or running away from danger, etc. This is not to say that other makeups do worse, quite the opposite really. Shamang+warrior is doing well now after the patch because the shamang brings a lot of utility to the scene in place of the druid's ability to run, heal, and cc. Also, priest+rogue is a popular combo with the addition of pain suppression coupled with the fact that rogues can blind-sap into a fearbomb which is usually enough to down one opponent (great synergy).

That's it, really. There are some odd combos that have gotten to high rankings (such as enhancement+boomkin, or elemental+mmhunter), but they are less cookie cutter because, for one reason or another, other cookie cutter teams are more prevalent and happen to be the proverbial rock to their scissors. However, the comp. that will not work... ever... is warrior+feral druid. Why? Well, sure, we both bring good damage to the table, and sure we both have some utiltiy to offer one another... but we are not dps specs.

... let me allow that to sink in ...


wait... feral druid == dps spec, but only in pve... in pvp, not so much. In pvp, feral druids are there to bring damage AND utility. Feral druids bring decent burst damage, a slew of interrupts, cyclone, feral charge (as a root), and Leader of the Pack. The damage is NOT comparable to a rogue's damage output, but the utility is amazing. Warriors are similar, they bring good utility in hamstring, piercing howl, shouts, intercept, whirlwind, and execute. Both of these classes have nigh-infinite utility and damage; they are bottomless pits of rape.... but only when someone is topping off their fuel tanks. They are infinite to the point of mana for the druid, sure, but more over, health bars. They do not last long by themselves, but if you add a healer to the mix, they become a force to be reckoned with.

Which leads me to my next point. I am probably going to try and stop playing 2s with my druid because it is just abysmal (I may pick it up again when my brother's pally hits 70 and will be in need of some arena love). So, I am going to look for 1-2 healers to try and get either a 3s team going (feral+warrior+pally/druid is amazing, i hear), or get a 5s team going (feral+warrior+enhancement+pally/druid+disc/druid). This is going to take some time and some patience... but I think it can happen.


Bookmark and Share

Snares and Slows

Blizzard does not play druids; this is a given. Rather, they may play druids, but not as feral or balance, and certainly not in pvp. One of the key "bugs" concerning druids is the ever-present range bug which has plagued druids since the beginning of time in Azeroth. Essentially, the "bug" can be explained a couple different ways, but the end result is reasonably simple to understand: your avatar looks to be in range of your target, but the game responds that you are out of range for all attacks. What makes this bug more pungent is the fact that white swings are continuing to land while the message "Out of range" spams across the top of the screen while mashing shred/mangle/whatever.

One argument for why the range bug exists relies on the box model for cat form. The crux of the argument is that because the cat form is much longer than any other avatar, where the actual hit-box resides and where a user perceives it to be are not one in the same. The hit box of the cat form extends as far as the back of the druid's head, rather than the front. Yes, that's right, so your cat form's head has to be touching (or more usually, IN) your opponent before you are considered in range to attack. What is more annoying with this bug is the way that white swings are "forgiven" for moving in and out of range so minimally. That is, while attacking, even if one cannot use mangle because of range issues, white swings will continue to land because they were/are/were/are/were in range for a bit, and the game assumes they will be again soon.

My problem with this argument has always been "this is simply a modeling problem, if the model is changed to an upright model, it will go away." Blizzard will not change the model, but there are hacks out there that will allow a user to change it... I am too scared of getting banned to do it. In pvp, if I go against a paladin or priest (or something without a snare) I can stay on top of it just fine and avoid the "range bug" entirely. I am faster than these classes, so keeping in range (as awkward as it looks on screen) is rather straight forward. No, my main problem is with classes who can deal damage, run endlessly to stay out of my range, and snare me.

Warlocks and mages, mainly, are my mortal enemies (if played right). Obviously, warlocks are everyone's mortal enemies... they are the hardest class for most to go against one on one. However, I can kill a warlock if all he's going to do is dot, fear, and dance... again: bad players are easy to kill, regardless of class. The warlocks who play conservatively are the hardest to kill, they dot me up, fear, and then spam Curse of Exhaustion on my shapeshifts while running straight away and only being hit by 1/3 of my attacks. The same is true of mages, they use their Ice Shield and Ice Lance abilities only, and keep me shapeshifting back and forth to stay on them, which effectively reduces my damage output by 66% AND causes me to go OoM faster than him, at which point he roots me, and frostbolt spams me to death.

I feel that I should get to the point. The point is this: it does not matter if I am faster than everyone else, if I cannot stay on an opponent when I become snared, then my mobility is worse than theirs. It is just that simple. Long story short: I think that removing the speed bonuses from feral druids, and replacing them with a snare would be the best way to combat the "range bug" and also give ferals a place in pvp worth mentioning. Phasing out the speed bonuses would be difficult for many feral pvpers to accept, but I think that it becomes an effective solution to the range bug, which would increase their dps, their utility, and ability to stay on a target (or slow an off-target) in pvp, which is more than agreeable. I used to be a purest, I used to think "wow, feral is faster than everything else, that's neat!" It was neat, but fundamental game mechanics make it impractical in implementation. Between the game mechanics favoring melee classes with slows/snares because of the latency model, and the fact that the increased speed means nothing once a slow/snare is applied to you, pvp as feral is impossible.

"But every class needs a counter-class" - the argument

This may be true, and mages and warlocks and everyone with a snare would still have an edge over feral druids, but the snare would make it a fight, as opposed to a free killing blow for the opposition. Standing toe-to-toe is fun, even when you lose. Trying in vein to bring something unkillable down is just maddeningly frustrating at best.

Here would be an example of the talent tree I propose. It's straight forward, just replaces the movement buff, with a snare.

Bookmark and Share

I Forgot

Man... bgs are fun as feral. I completely forgot about that. On the one hand, you don't outlast as well as restos do, but on the other hand you can actually do damage. I am using those adamantite weightstones in bgs now, and it seems that they actually do work as I hoped they would. They add 12 damage to your melee swing before multipliers are taken into account. This is pretty awesome, but on the other hand, they are kind of expensive to make constantly... who knows. I will probably figure out a decent way to farm eventually and make some primals for cash.

I am worried about arena. I am reasonably sure that warrior+feral is going to be bad. We have done a number of bgs, but it always seems to degrade (in 2v2 situations) to me popping out to heal the warrior up to full (for a full mana bar), then going back to feral form and hoping to down the opposition. While we don't have much trouble with this in bgs... it is only a battleground... so likely we are facing undergeared opponents with low resilience... and we still have trouble insta-gibbing healers. Priests go down fairly well since we're both pretty impervious to fear, but shamangs take a while to down... we ARE pretty much gibbing rogues fairly regularly even with healers... though evasion makes it less about me and more about kurrin, so I just go bear form and try to cc-lock the healer until the rogue dies... wednesday will be more telling.

... I really miss bearform doing ANY damage at all ... I wish they would revert the patch that nerfed Savage Fury and bearform Mangle ...

I am going to make a stack of grenades for bgs... but they are SOOOO hard to play with well unless you aim at the flag while someone is trying to cap it. That is hilarious and well worth the mats, imo.


I have been thinking about ferals a lot, obviously. Lately, I have been thinking that taking 3/3 Control of Nature is probably going to be more useful than the damage I would be giving up in 2s. Reason being -- when focusing on the dps class of a healer+dps team, the healer will NEED to be cycloned at the end so they cannot get their "omgHEALZ" move off (ns-ht, ns-hw, bubble, w/e), and I cannot really afford 1.5 seconds casting barkskin just to get a 1.4 cyclone on the healer... it would take 3 seconds of me not dps'ing to get the cyclone off... even 1.4 seconds not attacking is a long time, but at least it is a little more manageable. I doubt I will change spec this week, but if we do poorly and I attribute it to not being able to getting cyclones off, I will respec for next week.

THIS IS NOT MY MAIN POINT. Bah, sorry, my tangental mind is screwing me over while writing. The point I should be making is this: whilst looking over the druid talent trees, I have decided that feral is just too bloated. I blame this on the tanking abilities in the tree...


Okay... the tree is NOT bloated... rather... it's too confined. So, the main complaint that got druids nerfed in the first place was a distinction made to developers from non-druids that ferals in bear form are considered tanks, and should not be doing damage. As a hybrid, I was a little insulted by this, but many feral druids (who WERE tanking) thought of this topology as adequate. So, the devs decided to make it so that bear form was (essentially) only for tanking, and this was brought about by the damage nerfs of 2.0.11. However, this does not seem to quell the main complaining of non-druids. Now, the complaint has become "why can druids have a pvp build and a pve-tanking build in the same tree?" Again, because I am a hybrid by nature of play, this is insulting to me... though it is correct.

When looking at the key differences between a tanking build and a pvp build as feral, one notices that there are truly only 3 different talent points spent: Survival of the Fittest goes to tanks, Primal Tenacity goes to PvP-ferals. In essence, it IS possible to get all 6 of these talent points, tank, and dps in pvp scenarios rather well... and this seems to be the crux of the argument. I, for one, am fine with more fine-toothed granularity to present itself as a cost. The reward would then be finer toned specs, one for tanking and one for dps'ing. This would, of course, bloat the feral tree quite a bit (so there would HAVE to be some overlapping ability as there is currently; see Feral Instinct, Feral Swiftness, etc). The gain from doing this would be the ability to break down the spec into two sub-specs; a realization of two different talent trees. For this to work and still be fair to other classes, the talents would have to be extremely link-driven; that is, to get the tanking 21-point talent, a druid would have to have taken a majority of the tanking talent in the tree, driven by the requirement links a la Savage Fury requiring Sharpened Claws.

This scenario breaks the feral tree into two separate talent trees, really, with the end result being that other classes will either complain of the build being unfair to pure-classes because a druid could spec feral to tank AND dps, or the dichotomy of a tanking|dps tree where each would be exclusive would muddle the tree up to the point of givin druids a fourth talent tree, in essence, or there would be a need to scrap an existing talent tree, give up on one aspect of being a druid, or actually add a fourth talent tree specifically for druids.

Woo, these solutions are NOT simple in any manor. Giving druids a fourth talent tree specific to tanking in bear form, and making fear into the dps talent tree is probably the best idea in terms of ease of design, synergy between specs, and straight-forward nature. However, this would cause such a backlash of QQ from the community of non-druids that Blizzard could never truly give this idea much thought without giving every other class a fourth talent tree, which many of these classes would either have no use for the new abilities, or no abilities to add at all. The solution of removing one aspect of the druid play style is almost certainly out of the question since there are druids of every specialization who have spent 3 years perfecting and enjoying their various play styles.

This leaves developers with no other choices other than changing the feral tree into a jumbled mess of kitty-dps abilities reliant on other kitty-dps abilities all the way down and bear-tank abilities doing the same but with other bear-tanking abilities, OR leaving the class as is, and suggesting that the feral tree is mainly a PvE build that simply is not as strong as other pure builds.

Revelation (read: TL;DR): the devs have already chosen the latter as their plan of attack. Redesigning the feral tree for a fourth time would be a daunting task with WotLK on the horizon and it would only lead to more unbalances among the various specializations. Sigh... the devs will likely make minor tweaks to the feral talents without fundamentally changing the mindset that bear is for tanking while cat is for dps. With this in mind, I expect we will see continued talent tweaks that will give cats one ability while giving bears other abilities for minimal talent points. This will cause an uproar from the non-druid community... but it is the only way to make feral a viable option in either pvp or pve; tanking or dps.

Bookmark and Share