Posts Tagged ‘ theorycraft ’

To Take A Road Less Traveled

It’s a curious experience to be able to look ahead and see all the possibilities that lay before you.

Most of the time I feel like I muddle through my life in a fog, living day to day and  simply hoping and praying for the best. I grew up learning to plan. Once I was out on my own I learned that plans very rarely go the way they are supposed to. So I learned to make back-up plans, and back-ups of those. Now it’s not uncommon to have three or four plans waiting behind the first.

It’s been a hard road.

Right now, though, in relation to this blog, I can see it all.

In my previous blogging life I might not have been terribly popular, but I did pay attention, and I am a quick study. The Guild Wars (2) blogging community is in its infancy, and laying dormant. There’s a mere handful of us waiting with baited breath for every scrap of news from ArenaNet, eager to squak like magpies about it whenever we can.

What we’re doing right now is busy-work. We know we’ll be blogging about Guild Wars 2, but for now there’s not much to talk about. I suppose this is what a fetus might feel like were it as self-aware as myself and possessing similar knowledge and experience.

We are incubating. We are also racehorses in the stocks, and I can see the road ahead.

It is broad and twisting, rich with byways that lead to green and lush pastures, flush with sunshine. I can see so many possibilities for a community and future to come, the diversity and richness limited only by how popular Guild Wars 2 will become.

I have the gift here of a breather. I am sitting back, enjoying Guild Wars 1, anticipating Guild Wars 2, and imagining all the possibilities ahead.

Will I become a theorycrafter? In the spirit of Phae and BRK will I become an indespensible resource for my chosen profession? Will I focus on community building and guild planning? Will I feature videos, continue with my artwork features? Will I degenerate into nothing more than ‘a day in the life of Tiger’ blog?

I don’t know, but the possibilities are endless, and I can see them all.

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You Ought To Be Ashamed

One of my very favorite feral blogs, and one of the first I turn to when I have questions (Of Teeth And Claws) wrote an article about rotation advisor addons. In his post he talked briefly about two of the up-and-coming more popular programs, and ruminated at length* over weather or not they constituted ‘cheating’.

His tentative opinion was that yes, using a rotation advisor goes a long way to removing skill from the game.

I agree completely! Blizzard is already removing skill from the game (360 swipe). Personally, I find it shameful to have an addon that tells you what button to press. In my experience, there’s quite a bit of joy to be had in topping the damage meters, especialy if you know you’ve done it yourself!

A number of his readers tried to defend the use of rotation advisors by saying their main job is tanking. It’s implied that tanking is so harrowing that they just can’t be bothered to learn about and maintain a viable dps rotation.

It’s not, there’s no excuse! I’m a main tank, and tanking is my main job, if I want kitty loot I have to wait until I can either get it on offset or invade someone else’s raid. I’m still rocking a (very bad) blue trinket and NONE of my gear is BiS.

Yet yesterday, I raided 25-man Naxx with my husband. I finally got to clock my DpS on Patchwerk (last week healing was fail, a tank went down, and I ate a hateful very early in the fight). While this week I still ended up eating a hateful strike, it wasn’t until Patches was at 1%.

I clocked at almost exactly 5k dps, and I topped the damage meter. I topped Grobbulous too, and Sapphiron. I did 5.5k on Loatheb WITHOUT the benefit of spores. My AP was 7.5k and my crit was 47%. I was using Karthis’s cat spec and using his advice and my own brainmeats for a rotation. Keep all buffs and debuffs up at all times, shred for damage and combo-points. I used Ferocious Bite when everything was up (which was very often with the 2pc T7 bonus and the Shred glyph)

The only addons I use to aid with DpS is rogue power bars. Last night I was only using mangle every once in a great while. I was one of two kitties and there was a bear besides, so I knew mangle would be up.

The point I’m trying to make is that you don’t NEED a cruch like that. Sure you could use it, but when you’re watching a little window, waiting for it to tell you what button to push where does your raid awareness go? If a patch comes out and your addon breaks will your dps tank? Without my RPB my job gets a good deal more difficult, but I’m still perfectly capable of watching my own buffs and the boss’s debuffs for the information I need.

My first exposure to an addon like this was when I downloaded and installed Shock and Awe for my shaman to help me track maelstrom stacks. It had a priority window. I used it for about five minutes and then turned it off in disgust. I still use the tracking timers, but the priority window is gone.

My advice to any aspiring kitties out there is to give these addons a try, but turn off the rotation advisor window. You all chose to roll druid, and your wisdom with choosing such a fine class is apparent. Trust your feral instincts and say no to the part of the addon that wants to turn you into a clockwork chimp.

We are feral cats!

*For an elf, he ruminates quite well, in my humble bovine opinion.

Let’s Go Shopping! SUQEE!

In celebration of the almost-complete XX takeover of the <Unemployed> leadership, we have the above girly title.

Plus I’m always scrambling for raiding consumables (bad bad Tiger). What better timing then to make a personal shopping list? NONE! THERE IS NONE BETTER!

Flask of Stoneblood
no. needed per raid: 3
Mats (for 2): 7 Lichbloom, 3 Crystalized Life, 1 Frost Lotus, 1 Enchanted Vial

Worg Tartare
no. needed per raid: 20
Mats: 2 Worg Haunch, 1 Northern Spices

Snapper Extreme
no. needed per raid: 20
Mats: 3 Bonescale Snapper, 1 Northern Spices

Mega Mammoth Meal
no. needed per raid: 20
Mats: 2 Chunk o’ Mammoth, 1 Northern Spices

Scroll of Agility VIII
no. needed per raid: 20
Mats: 1 Ink of the Sea, 2 Resilient Parchment

Obviously I won’t be carrying around 60 pieces of buff food, 20 is just generally how many buff food I take with me.

Yes, I eat for hit

/crai

I Haz a Pet!

So… Doodlebug has totally just made the mistake of allowing me to live my kitty dreams vicariously through him. We’re colluding to try and find a sweet spot with stats to optimize his ripping of faces.

He has yet to tell me to step off so we’ll see what happens if I get too meddlesome. Either way, the opportunity to dig through WWS parses and analyze armory data has been AWESOME for me. The number fears are starting to subside.

One thing I am sure about, however, Kitties can no longer Mangle-Shred-Rip their way to victory. Attack sequences now are a lot more complicated and situational. More on that later after some testing!

Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend

This is the third post I’ve written for today. The first two aren’t finished, hopefully this’ll be the one you all see. If you’re reading this now then I succeeded 😀

GEMS!

<Unemployed> is raiding pretty officially, we’re looking to start 25-mans this week and that means that all my shiney new upgrades with their not-so-shiney empty gem slots need to be filled!

Reminds me of a rather annoying and never-ending song I sang as a child…

There’s a hole in my armor dear JC, dear JC
There’s a hole in my armor dear JC, a hole.

So fill it dear Tiger, dear Tiger, dear Tiger
so fill it dear Tiger, dear Tiger, so fill it.

With what shall I fill it dear JC, dear JC
With what shall I fill it dear JC, with what?

With epix dear Tiger, dear Tiger, dear Tiger,
with epix dear Tiger, dear Tiger, with epix.

But where shall I get them dear JC, dear JC
But where shall I get them dear JC, but where?

From me dear Tiger, dear Tiger, dear Tiger
From me dear Tiger, dear Tiger, from me!

Ok… ok, I promise I have a point, and I’m getting to it!

Right now I’m running as a Bear. I love to dps as a kitty, but I also love to tank as a bear and that’s what my guild needs me as right now and that’s what I’ve been upgrading my armor to do and that’s what I need gems for.

PS – I’m not covering epic gems here, just the Rare, or ‘blue’ gems.

So, I’m going to list, for every color, the gems that I think will work best for a bear, and then I’ll follow it up with the sockets I have available for myself and what I want to be filling them with.

Blue:

Solid Sky Sapphire
+24 Stamina

This is really the only option for a bear in the Blue gem category. Really, that’s it. I’m sure.

Purple:

Shifting Twilight Opal
+8 Agility
+12 Stamina

Regal Twilight Opal
+8 Dodge
+12 Stamina

These two are pretty similar as far as bears are concerned. I’m a little hazy on weather 8 agility or 8 dodge would give a higher dodge % increase, but I know we get more benefit from agility as a whole than just pure dodge. My first pick would be the Shifting with a Regal coming in a close second.

Yellow:

Thick Autumn’s Glow
+16 Defense

Now, I know that with 3/3 Survival Instincts (right?) Bears are uncrittable and do not need to stack Defense. More Defense, however, will add more mitigation, so it’s not a purely useless stat. When only a yellow gem will do, go with the Thick Autumn’s Glow. If you’re a cat, there’s a lot more options here, but that’s a topic for another post.

Orange:

Stalwart Monarch Topaz
+8 Dodge
+8 Defense

Lucent Monarch Topaz
+8 Agility
+8 Resilience

Resolute Monarch Topaz
+8 Expertise
+8 Defense

Deadly Monarch Topaz
+8 Agility
+8 Critical Strike Rating

Deft Monarch Topaz
+8 Agility
+8 Haste

Champion’s Monarch Topaz
+8 Strength
+8 Defense

Ugh… just… ugh. There’s SO MANY options here, and they ALL depend on what you have already. I’ve tried to rank them in order of benefit to Bears specifically. I’m sure about #1 and about #6, but in the middle it gets a bit muddy and very situational.

For example, I chose the dodge and defense as the best combination for me, but are you really hurting for agility? Do you REALLY want that extra 8 points into agility? Well, you could get Resilience, which is pretty useless in PvE since you’re already crit-immune, you could get Crit strike rating, which will give you a small amount of extra rage (if talented correctly) and a little bit more threat (I don’t see threat as being a problem right now), or you could go with haste which would, again, add to threat.

#6 is there for the sake of completeness. We don’t get much benefit from strength, it’s just not a stat we need to stack. And again, the defense, we’re already un-crittable, it’s sugar on the cake, not needed, but nice to have, and when coupled with strength produces a gem I really don’t see myself using… ever.

Red:

Delicate Scarlet Ruby
+16 Agility

Subtle Scarlet Ruby
+16 Dodge

Precise Scarlet Ruby
+16 Expertise

I think this ranking is pretty self-explanatory. Agility is King, followed by Dodge, and if you don’t need either of those take some Expertise from the Red side of things.

Green:

Enduring Forest Emerald
+8 Defense
+12 Stamina

Vivid Forest Emerald
+8 Hit Rating
+12 Stamina

Green gems are, on the whole, Stamina with a side of other stuff. There’s some other oddball options out there, but there were the only two I thought deserved a mention. I’ll definitely take the Defense over the Hit, but if you’ve got a JC handing out gems and all they have is a Vivid and no Enduring, take the Vivid.

Prismatic:

Enchanted Tear
+6 All Stats

Not much to see here. Get it, or don’t, up to you and what’s available.

Meta:

Austere Earthsiege Diamond
+32 Stamina
+2% Increased Armor Value from Items

Effulgent Skyflare Diamond
+32 Stamina
+2% Reduction in Damage Taken from Spells

Powerful Earthsiege Diamond
+32 Stamina
+10% Stun Duration Reduction

Relentless Earthsiege Diamond
+21 Agility
+3% Critical Strike Damage

Thundering Skyflare Diamond
Chance to Increase Melee/Ranged Attack Speed

Holy Bear Paws Batman! Look at those Meta Gems! Oooh I’m salivating. Even just looking through the list… the variety is STAGGERING and I’m getting SO MANY ideas about other classes, who will want what and how much of amazing it will bring to the party…. but before I get too incoherent in my excitement, here’s the breakdown of this list.

The Austere Earthsiege beats out the Effulgent mainly because armor is so huge for bears, and our main tank is a Death Knight. If you find yourself as Main Tank and taking a lot of magical damage don’t think twice about taking the Effulgent Skyflare instead, they’re very close.

The Powerful vs Relentless Earthsieges is another close one, I’d say too close for me to call, honestly. Take a look at your stats, do you need the agility or the stamina more? It’s up to you.

The Thundering Skyfire Diamond is there for threat, that’s it. If you’re not holding threat but not dying or stressing your healers then get this. I can’t ever see this happening but, eh, anything’s possible.

Personal Breakdown & Plan:

Yellow

Enduring Forest Emerald
+8 Defense
+12 Stamina

Stalwart Monarch Topaz
+8 Dodge
+8 Defense

Thick Autumn’s Glow
+16 Defense

The first two are VERY close on my list, I’m not exactly sure which would be more beneficial to me right now either. It might come down to what the JCs in my guild can make and what mats are available.

Red

Delicate Scarlet Ruby
+16 Agility

Shifting Twilight Opal
+8 Agility
+12 Stamina

Stalwart Monarch Topaz
+8 Dodge
+8 Defense

They don’t want us stacking Agility like crazy anymore, and I’m seeing now how they’re accomplishing this. There aren’t that many Agi gems out there at all. So for this one I think I’ll take the full +16. The Opal is a close… VERY close second.

Blue

Solid Sky Sapphire
+24 Stamina

Shifting Twilight Opal
+8 Agility
+12 Stamina

Enduring Forest Emerald
+8 Defense
+12 Stamina

Remember when I passed on that extra stamina on the Red socket? Yeah, that Solid Sky Sapphire makes up for it. +24 Stam baby oooooh yeeeaaaaaaah.

The Shifting Opal is second of course, check your own stats, but take the Emerald only if there’s no other option available to you.

Myow I’m a Cat!

I built This Cat Build (There are two loose points for the lvl 80. These should be invested where you feel it would be best, I recommend Infected Wounds)

All by myself, and no one helped me. I ran it by some of the big names in feral theorycrafting (kinda) and was told that this looked like it might be the definitive feral DPS spec.

Looking at it you might notice some problems. There is no Protector of the Pack, and I’ve invested five whole points to max out Master Shapeshifter. Some might even ask if the extra 4% crit strike chance is really worth it.

In short, yes.

I’ll say it again, this is a feral DPS spec. While in this spec you will not be asked of OT, you will not be asked to heal, if for some reason you pull aggro and need survivability you’re not doing your job right. Dump all the skills that will help you live longer. What you should be doing is investing every last ounce of talent points into skills that will make it that much easier to rip faces.

For so long ferals have been default bear. The beauty of Wrath, and the re-tooling of the feral tree, has made it possible for us to go kitty as a viable option, not just as an OT kitty that does more damage than the prot warrior.

In this spec you will DPS and that is ALL you will do. However, Blizzard has promised that when specced correctly (as above) we will be competitive with rogues and other single-target melee DPS.

If you want to rip faces, and rip them freaking bloody, then this is the way to go.

It’s very easy to spec cat, and it’s equally easy to spec bear. The tricky part comes when you want to embrace all that is feral and be able to adapt to changing conditions.

CatBear? Or BearCat?

There’s a plethora of bloggers coming from the Bear side of the equation, so I will devote myself to tackling the problem of adaptability from the cat side of things. I’d like to note that this is most likely the path I’ll be taking. I want to DPS, but I also want to be available to my guild as an Offtank when needed (and a Main Tank in 5-mans), so most likely I’ll be running as CatBear.

The first step to take away from pure DPS is to remove the points from Natural and Master Shapeshifter. This skill is pretty negligible and only truly useful if you’re shifting quite a bit. I’ve never been specced into it for any length of time and I haven’t noticed myself running OOM and getting stuck in a form too often. The extra 4% crit is important when you’re pushing for every last ounce of damage you can get, but if you’re starting to hybridize it’s the first thing that should go.

I would take those 5 talent points then, and invest three of them into Protector of the Pack.

After that, at lvl 80, you’ve got some choices. Since our original build had two loose points, we now have 4 points left to spend.

I would normally recommend Thick Hide as a no-brainer, but since the bonus armor nerf I’m not so sure. I’m not as deft at mitigation calculating as I am at being able to see what will benefit DPS. Suffice to say, if you’re gear is hurting in the armor department take Thick Hide.

If you’re a little low on dodge invest into Natural Reaction. You might want to throw an extra point or two into that just on principle. Extra rage when you dodge = win.

My first step towards hybridization would most likely involve three points into Natural Reaction and one point into Feral Instinct, giving me a lvl 80 spec that looks something like this.

The next skill to get rid of is Predatory Instincts. This skill gives your melee crit strikes 10% more damage and reduces damage from AOE while in cat form only. It’s a pure-cat skill and, like the Shapeshifter talents in the Resto tree, not all that useful if you’re not trying to push the DPS envelope.

So, that gives you three more skillpoints to shuffle around. I would choose between Feral Instinct, Feral Swiftness, and Thick Hide.

Take Thick Hide if you’re not being asked to AOE tank much and are having trouble getting your armor up.

Depending on how things look I would probably put two points into Feral Swiftness for the extra dodge (and by proxy of Natural Reaction extra rage) and one point into Feral Instinct for the increased damage to Swipe.

That’s probably as far as I’m willing to go with a CatBear build. Any farther and you’re getting a lot closer to the pure bear side of things. Which is fine if you find that’s what you’d like to do, but there are many other (and better) tanking guides out there than I can offer you.

The most important thing to remember when hybridizing is remembering what is needed. If you normally run around with a pack of Paladins chances are you won’t be asked to AOE tank all that much. Ditch the points in Feral Instinct and invest in Thick Hide, for example. Feral hybrids can be very situational and the true skill of a player shines when they are able to look at their playstyle and the composition of their guild/group/raid and know what might be required of them.

Alas Poor Powershifting, I Knew Thee Well

So, didja hear the news? Apparently all the clever little kitties out there have been exploiting the system by Powershifting. Apparently, instead of saying “Hey, what a neat unintentional consequence of furor our players discovered! How can we use this to make the game more interesting yet still keep things from being Overpowered?” Nope, it’s getting a general nerf-bat. That’s right kids, thanks to Kal for giving me a heads-up, but Powershifting, as we know it, will be no more.

I could continue to QQ about the vanilla-izing nerf-bat and mention other games where unintended consequences were discovered and embraced, but that’d spawn a rant, and not something I’m trying to accomplish here.

What I want to talk about is an ability that’s near and dear to every druid’s heart, the reason we all chose to roll druids and my very favorite thing in the whole wide world about playing a druid. That’s right, our adaptability! Nerf balance? I’ll go feral! Nerf that I’ll still rip faces (somehow)! I don’t care what you do to me, I’ll adapt!

Here’s the posts, both blue and non, about the energy changes coming in WotLK, and their affect on the ever-resourceful druid community.

Jimmythenumbers says:

The Cat Form energy regeneration mechanics you are seeing in the current beta build are a bug resulting from “powershifting” being partially fixed. We changed energy regeneration on Cat Form so that it occurs continuously no matter what form the Druid is in. However, the second half of the change did not make it in before the data pull for the build. When Furor triggers on shifting to Cat Form, your energy will be set to the minimum of its current value and 40. So, if you are over 40, it goes to 40. If you are less than 40, you gain no energy, but keep the amount you gained through normal regeneration. If Furor does not trigger or you do not have the talent, energy is set to 0.

“Powershifting” was never an intended mechanic. However, it has become so prevalent among Feral Druids that if we did not eliminate it, we would have to balance around it. So, this change effectively eliminates the possibility to gain extra energy regeneration through the Furor talent. For the intended use: shift out, heal self a bit or Innervate or Tranquility or Rebirth, go back to Cat Form, it will work as well as it ever has.

Followed by:

Astrylian!, who says


Q u o t e:

This part is true.

Furor IS still giving you energy….you can shift out and cast spells and assuming your energy would have ticked back anyway, you will shift back to cat with 40. The only difference is that now powershifting is pointless.

It’s quirky things like powershifting that have made the devs hesitant to buff our dps. It’s always felt more like an exploit than a cool ability, imo, and I’m fine with them taking it out so long as they man up to their promises to make cat dps competitive.


I just confirmed that nothing has changed since 8820 on beta currently. I’m asking Jimmythenumbers about which of his contradictory lines is correct, not your guess at it. As is,


Q u o t e:
When Furor triggers on shifting to Cat Form, your energy will be set to the maximum of its current value and 40.


…directly contradicts…


Q u o t e:
So, if you are over 40, it goes to 40. If you are less than 40, you gain no energy, but keep the amount you gained through normal regeneration. If Furor does not trigger or you do not have the talent, energy is set to 0.


If the first line is true, it’s a minuscule buff from on live (only difference besides the tick timing is you wouldn’t lose energy if you powershift when energy>40), and still allows powershifting, which contradicts the whole point of his post.
If the second line is true, it’s a significant nerf, actually reducing the energy gain when powershifting (to 0, in most PvE), and goes in line with the point of his post.

Originally, I was hoping they’d remove powershifting in WotLK, because I didn’t want to have to code it in Rawr cause it’s nasty complex. But after playing with the powershifting mechanic in beta, I found it so fun, I would hate to play without it, and found it would be easier than I thought to code.

Which is then ‘clarified’ as:

Jimmythenumbers says:

You are right, I typed faster than I was thinking. Your energy will be set to the MINIMUM of your current amount of energy and 40, or, from another point of view, it will be maxxed at 40. Sorry. I’ll correct my post.

Here’s an example:

At time 0 I have 0 energy and I shift out of Cat Form, but I’m on global cooldown for 1 sec. from the last Cat Form ability I used. I cast Rebirth on a fallen party member, that takes 2 sec. During that 3 sec, I gained an additional 30 energy. I shift back to Cat Form with the Furor talent and have 30 energy. WIthout the talent, I have 0.

Another:

At time 0 I have 0 energy from killing a mob with a critical Ferocious Bite. I shift out of Cat Form. Once the global has passed from the FB (1 sec). I regrowth myself (2 sec). and Lifebloom myself (1.5 sec.) I go back to Cat Form. 4.5 seconds passed, so I am entitled to 45 energy, but Furor cuts me off at 40 energy when it fires.

Another:
I’m in Bear Form as an off-tank. My mob dies, and I shift to Cat Form to help kill the next target. I’ve been in Bear Form for longer than 10 seconds, so my energy bar is full, but Furor cuts me off at 40 energy.

Yes, there are some cases like the first one, where if I have no latency, never pause for any decision-making, and only cast one spell out of Cat Form, I get less than 40 energy. However, in most cases I will always be at at least 40, and so Furor will give me the intended amount of energy without creating the degenerate “powershifting” case.

Ok, so I don’t know about you, but the first time I read through this it was about as clear as mud. After knuckling my brow and picking out pieces that made sense (‘current amount of energy and 40’ could be taken to mean any number of things) I’ve come to my own conclusions.

Powershifting, in the past, has been a way for druids to convert mana into energy through the Furor talent, thus allowing us to attempt to be viable dps in end-game. (we really are kind of borked on the dps side of things, even at my best in my full dps kit it’s a struggle for me to maintain 600dps)

This conversion of mana into ‘free’ energy was not intended and it’s being ‘fixed’ in the following manner (as I understand it):

Energy will continue to tick while in caster form. If you’re running along, have been in caster form and have a full energy bar then shift into cat your energy bar is wiped.

Taking the skill furor (5 ranks) will allow you to keep up to 40 of those energy points.

If you’re dpsing and you have 0 energy and execute a powershift (/cast !Cat Form) you will find yourself back in cat form with 0 energy.

So, in essence, there is no point to shifting out and back in to cat form without doing something else in between (like casting some heals or a rebirth). In essence, it’s a soft cooldown on furor. Furor is designed as a skill to soften the blow when a druid finds it necessary to shift forms and perform some other task as opposed to an energy-gaining buff skill. (I believe there’s been some druid changes that give us one of those now, more on that in another post)

You might be thinking that you can now ditch that /cast !Cat Form button, but I wouldn’t reccomend it. Personally, I’m pretty bad at powershifting, but I do find that button extremely handy for getting out of snares. I used to simply click my cat form button twice but between server lag and my own unremarkable reaction time I’ve found myself stuck, stunned, or dead in caster form more often than not.

You would use this macro in a number of situations

  1. Getting away from the Shade of Aran when he gets ready to cast his huge AoE explosion. (Powershifting removes the movement debuff)
  2. Getting away from Rage Winterchill when he freezes everyone in place just before he ice blocks someone. (I like to run in the direction of the healers)
  3. Running after that pesky little mage in BG who thinks they can frost nova you to the ground, or that foolish druid that thinks rooting you would actually accomplish anything. (Seriously now, why would you ever try to root another druid? Waste of time and mana when a feral can just be sleeped)

I’m sure there’s more applicable circumstances to use Powershifting, even after 3.0, but I’m sure you get the idea now.

For those of you that have never done much Powershifting life will continue as normal. For those of us who do well, we’ll just have to put Tiger’s Fury back on our cast bar now won’t we?