Friday, October 31, 2008

[Druid] Bear item list and rep list for pre-naxx (UPDATED)

It's getting close to WotLK, and barring some last minute surprises we're pretty close to knowing what to expect on all the armor, weapons, and mechanics for bears. And per the rules of blogging for WoW, at least one blog post every month must be about gear lists.

This one's a bit different though.

I've gone through and listed per slot what I believe the best choice is for a bear that can be obtained before setting foot in Naxxramas. I've left out the Deadly Gladiator gear in this, as it's going to likely be out of most people's reach at first given its rating requirements. The rules, similar to what we had before for the pre-Karazhan cat guide, is as follows:
  1. If it costs arena points, list only the best of the arena points
  2. If it costs honor, list only the best of the honor
  3. List the best heroic drop
  4. List the best non-heroic drop
  5. List the best craftable
  6. List the best quest reward
  7. List the best BoE
If (for example) a BoE beats out all non-heroics, I don't bother to list the non-heroics. If a quest reward beats out a heroic I don't bother listing a heroic. Basically, I want to make sure that there is at least one 'easy' option, and if a harder to obtain option is worse than an easier one, there's no point in listing it.

The difference between this list and other lists is that it also lists some BC gear, so you know exactly where things rank and what to strive to get before WotLK comes out. Hopefuly that'll help you prioritize your gear choices before you get to WotLK and what you should roll on. The TLDR version: get a pillar of lol, thunderheart treads and wristguards, a badge of tenacity and then whatever other T6 or Sunwell gear you can get. If a piece of BC gear isn't listed, I thought that it was simply not that good or would be replaced too easily by early quest rewards or rep rewards. All BC gear is italicized.

The ranking has virtually no weight put on threat stats. This is because for Naxx, starting threat for bears is fine. It's better than fine - it's crazy. However, you want to get as much stam and avoidance as you can, and you really want to stack armor like mad. If you feel that threat is more of an important issue for you, I'd recommend taking this with a grain of salt; this is my view on tanking and threat's part of it may not meet yours.

I also strongly recommend using Rawr to determine what's best for you given your actual armor. While loot lists are nice they are glaringly deficient in being able to rank gear against other gear. Rawr does this superbly. Rawr does not support wotlk ranking yet, but it soon will; when it does, use that.

All gem choices are assumed to be basically sane and tend to favor stamina over agility. Yes, that means BC gear with more slots is favored over BC gear with fewer slots. The view is that if you're willing to wear it in Naxx you should be willing to at least regem and re-enchant the stuff.

This also doesn't take into account set bonuses. A quick word on that:
At level 80, the 2 piece Tier Four set bonus does nothing.
The 2 piece Tier 6 bonus (extra mangle threat) is pretty strong for threat.
The 4 piece Tier 6 bonus (extra swipe damage) is not super for boss threat but is great for AoE threat and for grinding.

The main reason I like loot lists is to be able to plan things like my rep grinds, what heroics I want to run always, whether I should bother with a certain quest reward (or even a quest chain), etc. Hopefully this will help you the same way.

Shoulder enchants:
  1. Greater Inscription of the Pinnacle - Exalted with Sons of Hodir
  2. Greater Inscription of Warding - Exalted with Aldor
  3. Lesser Inscription of the Pinnacle - Honored with Sons of Hodir
  4. Greater Inscription of the Knight - Exalted with Scryer
-The Aldor and honored Sons enchants are identical, and #4 is only slightly worse.

Head enchants:
  1. Arcanum of the Stalwart Protector - revered with Argent Crusade
  2. Arcanum of the Defender - revered with Keepers of Time
  3. Arcanum of the Gladiator - revered with Shattered Sun Offensive
-no surprises here.

Weapon (bear)

  1. Enraged Feral Staff - 102.30. Heroic Utgarde Keep
  2. Pillar of Ferocity - 65.81. Mount Hyjal
  3. Bloodwood Greatstaff - 65.55 BoE
  4. Wildfury Greatstaff - 65.30. Serpentshrine Cavern
  5. Stave of Shrouded Mysteries - 64.50. Revered Kirin Tor
-get used to running Utgarde keep - you'll be running it for a while until the Feral Staff drops. The Stave of Shrouded Mysteries is not hard to get, but with 315 armor it's really a threat/dps weapon.

Idol (bear)

  1. Idol of Terror - Badges
  2. Idol of the Plainstalker - Quest in Borean Tundra
  3. Idol of Perspicacious Attacks - Grizzly Hills vendor
  4. Idol of the Wastes - Quest in dragonblight
-the idols from Wrath are entirely threat. The Idol of Terror is the best avoidance idol that exists, still. I'm bummed too.

Ring (bear)
  1. Keystone Great-Ring - 47.86. Heroic Drak'tharon keep
  2. Nerubian Shield Ring - 38.53. Heroic Ahn'katet.
  3. Band of Torture - 38.27. Heroic Oculus
  4. Titanium Earthguard Ring - 35.53. Jewelcrafting BoE.
  5. Ring of the Stalwart Protector - 34.23. badges
  6. Ring of Earthen Might - 33.92. Jewelcrafting BoE
  7. Iceforged battle-ring - 32.90. quest in storm peaks
  8. Violet Signet of the Great Protector - 30.10. Karazhan
-I've modified this since the last time to reflect some of the choices that are good without armor on them. Still, Keystone Great-Ring is really stellar, and you should run Drak quite a bit to get it.

Amulet (bear)
  1. Titanium Earthguard Chain - 43.44. Jewelcrafting BoE
  2. Chained Military Gorget - 32.95. 40 emblems of heroism.
  3. Amulet of Wills - 32.37. Normal Halls of Stone
  4. Torta's Oversized Choker - 28.83. BoE
- as of right now, the Earthguard chain simply is crazy good. If you're broke, go for the Amulet of Wills - but it's hardly necessary. The Earthguard chain is second best in slot period - only Boundless Ambition from Kel'Thuzad beats it. If you can't afford that or want something more avoidance-heavy, the Chained Military Gorget is quite good.

Trinket (bear)
  1. Offering of Sacrifice - (19.41) Heroic Gundrak
  2. Badge of Tenacity - (10.87)BC BoE drop
  3. Essence of Gossamer - 32.65. Heroic Azjol-Nerub
  4. Darkmoon Card: Greatness - 23.82. Quest for Darkmoon.
  5. Valor Medal of the First War - 14.53
-Another must-have trinket that you will use throughout Naxx, run Heroic Gundrak until it drops. Essence of Gossamer is a great stamina trinket, but it doesn't make up for that armor at pre-Naxx levels. The numbers in parenthesis are what these will be post-armor change.

Cloak (bear)

  1. Durable Nerubhide Cape - (37.22) Leatherworking BoE.
  2. Flowing Cloak of Command - 35.61. Normal CoT Strat
  3. Cloak of Tormented Skies - 31.13. Leatherworking BoE
  4. Slikk's Cloak of Placation - 31.10. badges
-Slikk's Cloak and Cloak of Tormented Skies are incredibly close to each other. Flowing Cloak of Command is great though.

Chest (bear)
  1. Deadly Gladiator's Dragonhide Robes - 86.68. Arena rating, arena points.
  2. Hateful Gladiator's Dragonhide Robes - 79.84. Arena rating, arena points
  3. Heroes' Dreamwalker Rainments - 79.00. 80 emblems of heroism, normal Gluth, normal 4 Horsemen.
  4. Harness of Carnal Instinct - 77.47. Sunwell Plateau
  5. Savage Gladiator's Dragonhide Robes - 76.24. honor
  6. Crystal-Infused Tunic - 66.21. Heroic Nexus
  7. Thunderheart Chestguard -64.82. Black Temple
  8. Exotic Leather Tunic - 64.39. quest in Utgarde Pinnacle
-And here we get to the 'PvP is the bomb" portion of the night. While it's arguable whether the increased threat from Naxx-level gear is worth the loss of agility and stamina compared to similar PvP gear at the same ilvl, when you're going pre-naxx it's not a contest usually. Because of the three gem slots the Harness of Carnal Instinct comes out over other items from WotLK. The T7.10 chest is the best chest you can get from PvE before Naxx-25.

Feet (bear)

  1. Hateful Gladiator's Boots of Triumph - 58.46. Arena rating, honor points
  2. Slag Boots - 52.41. Heroic Halls of Lightning
  3. Gorloc Muddy Footwraps - 46.97. Heroic Gundrak
  4. Thunderheart Treads - 45.67. Sunwell Plateau
  5. Shadowmaster's Boots - 44.00. Black Temple
  6. Jormscale Footpads - 43.16. Leatherworking BoE
  7. Rhino Hide Kneeboots - 37.00. Quest in Gundrak
- the Slag boots and muddy footwraps aren't that much better than the Thunderheart treads or (thanks to the sockets) Shadowmaster's boots. The Hateful Gladiator gear is really good though, and definitely worth it if you can.

Gloves (bear)

  1. Handwraps of Preserved History - 62.49. Quest in CoT Strat
  2. Hateful Gladiator's Dragonhide Gloves - 57.22. Arena Rating, arena points
  3. Heroes' Dreamwalker Handgrips - 52.16. 60 emblems of heroism.
  4. Savage Gladiator's Dragonhide Gloves - 51.74. honor
  5. Gloves of the Forest Drifter - 47.37. Sunwell Plateau
  6. Gloves of Immortal Dusk - 42.78. Leatherworking BoE (requires sunmotes)
  7. Discarded Slaughterhouse Gloves - 41.69. Quest in icecrown
  8. Seafoam Gauntlets - 40.52. Leatherworking BoE
  9. Thunderheart Gauntlets - 39.78. Mount Hyjal
-The best gloves by far come from a quest for CoT Stratholme. Huge stamina, agility and expertise make these stellar. Do this early and be set for a while. The T7.10 that are available from badges are really not worth the expense.

Head (bear)

  1. Deadly Gladiator's Dragonhide Helm - 85.04. Arena rating, arena points
  2. Hateful Gladiator's Dragonhide Helm - 78.27. Arena rating, arena points
  3. Weakness Spectralizers - 74.93. Engineering BoE (requires engineering rating)
  4. Savage Gladiator's Dragonhide Helm - 71.13. honor
  5. Mask of the Watcher - 61.08. Heroic Oculus
  6. Shroud of Darkness - 60.27. Heroic Violet Eye
  7. Mask of the Fury Hunter - 58.03. Sunwell Plateau
  8. Headguard of Retaliation - 54.50. quest in Utgarde Pinnacle
  9. Thunderheart Cover - 53.75. Mount Hyjal
  10. Eviscerator's Facemask - 52.97. leatherworking BoE
Legs (bear)
  1. Hateful Gladiator's Dragonhide Legs - 81.17. Arena rating, arena points
  2. Savage Gladiator's Dragonhide Legs - 73.84. honor
  3. Ravenous Leggings of the Furbolg - 70.31. heroic utgarde pinnacle
  4. Gored Hide Legguards - 69.23. Heroic Gundrak.
  5. Mind-expanding Leggings - 68.26. Revered with Kirin Tor
  6. Leggings of the Immortal Beast - 68.15. Sunwell Plateau
  7. Constellation Leggings - 55.15. Normal Halls of Stone.
  8. Tameless Breeches - 55.05. Badges.
  9. Eviscerator's Legguards - 54.83. Leatherworking BoE.
  10. Tattooed Deerskin Leggings - 47.84. Quest in Violet Hold
- Oops! The Ravenous Leggings are from Pinnacle, not UK. So it's a different beast entirely to get them. 3-5 are all very, very close, so pick which you like the most.

Shoulders (bear)

  1. Hateful Gladiator's Dragonhide Spaulders - 59.69. arena rating, arena points
  2. Trollwoven shoulders - 59.03. Leatherworking BoE
  3. Spaulders of the Careless Thief - 54.79. Heroic Nexus
  4. Savage Gladiator's Dragonhide Spaulders - 54.14. honor
  5. Sprinting Shoulderpads - 51.48. Heroic Ahn'kahet
  6. Demontooth Shoulderpads - 48.55. Sunwell Plateau
  7. Thunderheart Pauldrons - 46.85. Black Temple
-At last, a good PvE-quality item in the shoulder shot that isn't PvP! And it's leatherworking, which makes it doubly awesome. Considering how hard it'll be to get the hateful glad shoulders, just go for the trollwoven set.

Belt (bear)

  1. Hateful Gladiator's Belt of Triumph - 55.95. arena rating, honor
  2. Sharp-Barbed Leather belt - 55.00. heroic utgarde keep
  3. Trollwoven Girdle - 52.29. Leatherworking BoE
  4. Jorach's Crocolisk Skin Belt - 49.23. Emblems of Heroism
  5. Ley-whelphide belt - 46.27. normal and heroic occulus
  6. Glitterscale Wrap - 41.59. Revered with Oracles
  7. Don Alejandro's Money Belt - 41.47. Mount Hyjal
  8. Belt of Natural Power - 40.45. Leatherworking BoE
  9. Waistguard of the Great Beast - 40.42. 60 Badges.
-Yep, yet another item from Heroic Utgarde Keep. Apparently the ancestors of Bear tanks were buried there or something. The Trollwoven Girdle is about *this* close to it too. And the Belt of Natural Power shows up here over Thunderheart because of the two sockets.I'd stay away from getting the badge belt here, unless you really like stamina.

Wrist (bear)
  1. Hateful Gladiator's Armwraps of Triumph - 38.72. arena rating, honor
  2. Bindings of the Tunneler - 37.97. Heroic Utgarde Keep
  3. Thunderheart Wristguards - 33.39. Sunwell Plateau
  4. Dragonfriend Bracers - 32.87. Exalted with Wyrmrest Accord
  5. Drake-champion's Bracers - 32.17. Heroic Oculus
  6. Njorndar Furywraps - 31.69. Quest in Icecrown
  7. Vindicator's Dragonhide Bindings - 30.23. BC PvP honor
  8. Eviscerator's Bindings - 29.62. Leatherworking BoE
  9. Band of the Swift Paw - 28.25. badges
-If you're playing along at home, the best two pieces of T6 to carry into Wrath, all other things being equal, are the boots and bracers. And yes, that's yet another awesome tanking piece from Utgarde Keep.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

[Druid] Cat FAQ for 3.0.2/WotLK

On to the second part of the WotLK prep - the Cat FAQ!


Q: What's the point & purpose of this FAQ?
A: Lots of answers on Cat DPS! Specifically cats DPSing in raids.

Q: You're still wrong! My research is 110% better and healthier for the environment!
A: Oh yeah? Well ppoffffbbbtt on you. Or, ya know, point it out and I'll try and get it into the FAQ.

Q: But what about 5-mans? Or PvP?
A: I don't care so much. Take the info in here with some grains of salt in case you care.

Q: You still smell, and I hate you even more now that you've forsaken your bear roots and gone to the darkside of dps!
A: Yeah, I wonder about that too. At least I didn't go resto...

Q: You don't talk about {my favorite small detail}!
A: That's because
{your favorite small detail} killed my mom. Well, okay. It's because this is something to give short, easy answers without the huge math, debate and whatnot behind it. If you're looking for specific answers on exactly what enchants to get, what gems to get, where to quest for precisely the right gear - that'll come in later posts.

Q: You're just repeating stuff on EJ, Rawr, and Toskk's forums!
A: Largely yes. That's kind of the point - I do the reading so you don't have to.

Rotation changes & ability usage:

face roll mangle for profit
Q: What rotation do I use for max DPS?
A: @70:
Keep mangle up
Keep rake up
Shred to 5 cp
Use RIP if RIP is not up and you have the glyph (otherwise FB if you have less than 35 energy)
Use FB if you have more than 2 seconds left on RIP and less than 40 energy.
A: @80:
This really depends on your spec and what gear you have available to you. You can check out the really complicated version here. I'm assuming a cat-focused spec without 2pT6 and with the appropriate glyphs - in which case it is either 5SR/5Rip/5FB or 5SR/5Rip, where '5' is 'get to 5 CP'. This is dependent on a lot of things and isn't always set in stone, and there are a lot of factors (berserk, tiger's fury, OoC procs) that change this.

Q: I'm lazy. Is there a 'good but not perfect' rotation?
A: 2SR/5Rip is pretty good.

Q: What's this SR thing?
A: Savage Roar is a new finishing move that you get at level 75 that grants you 40% more AP for a duration based on how many combo points you get. Savage Roar is AWESOME. Savage Roar should be up at all times for best sustained DPS.

Q: Ferocious bite? But you're only supposed to use that on trash!
A: It's really good now, especially with feral aggression and rend & tear.

Q: So is it still 'keep the mangle up, shredspam' to get combo points?'
A: Nope! It's now a really complicated rotation. First off, use rake whenever you can.

Q: Rake? I don't even have that on my bars...
A: Yeah, but it got buffed - it's now the best CP generator for energy you have.

Q: after that it's mangle/shred?
A: Mangle is only required if you don't have a warrior applying trauma. So it looks like this:
if (rake is down) rake
else if (trauma is not present and mangle is down) mangle
else shred

Q: When do I use Berserk?
A: Ideally right after Tiger's Fury and after you've done a ferocious bite, and while savage roar is running. The best use is to get 10 shreds in that 15 seconds if possible.

Q: Wait, Tiger's Fury? But that talent sucks - it's not on my bar either!
A: Tiger's Fury doesn't use energy any more, so it's good. Plus it gives energy back with King of the Jungle, so it becomes a must have; it should be used whenever you can use it and wouldn't waste the energy.

Q: Why not use Tiger's Fury during Berserk?
A: Because you can't - it's greyed out when berserk is active.

Q: Okay, so we've got FB, Tiger's Fury, Berserk, Savage Roar, Rake...any other surprises for cats?
A: Not in the rotation, no.

Q: What rotation do I use to kill things leveling up?
A: Things die fast to cat. You can either go with mangle/rake/mangle to 4/5CP then ferocious bite (don't bother with rip unless the thing takes a while to kill) or go pounce-shred-mangle-bite. The first is easier and mindless, the second takes a bit longer sometimes. Definitely use the rake, as the bleed will give you a 50% extra crit chance on your bite.

Or you can just go bear and swipe everything down, which is probably better when facing lots of melee mobs. Between swipe, glyph of maul, and berserk's hitting three things with mangle you can mow down lots of mobs very quickly.

Q: How the heck do I keep track of all these cooldowns and debuffs?
A: Use something like Power Auras or TellMeWhen

Q: My macro for drinking pots in forms doesn't work any more - how do I fix it?
A: Druids can use potions and other consumables in forms now, so there's no need for a shift to caster to drink then shift back macro. And there's really no reason to use that now for cats.

Q: My powershifting macro is broken!
A: Another not a question, but powershifting is nerfed TO THE GROUND. It doesn't work at all. Don't use it, you'll just waste a GCD and mana.


Q: What's the best stat to stack for max DPS?
A: Hit/expertise are equally valuable and best for a cat until you reach the cap. Then strength and agility, then AP/crit. Haste and armor pen are still fairly low by comparison. If you're gemming, gem for hit/expertise until the cap, then strength.

Q: What's the hit cap for cats?
A: 9%, as it was before. Which is 296 hit rating @80 or 142 @70.

Q: What's the expertise cap for cats?
A: 26 expertise skill (-6.5% dodge rating) or 214 rating (without primal precision), 148 with it @80. At 70 it's 64 rating with primal precision or 104 without.

Q: So we've been turned into rogues?
A: Kinda. They still need a TON more hit than we do, but hit is a lot more valuable than it used to be thanks to how complicated the cycles are.

Q: What about mongoose/executioner?
A: Mongoose isn't all that special for a cat thanks to the cat's fast attack speed and the lack of a dual-handed mechanic. It's probably not worth the effort. Executioner has become pretty weak, and with the amount of bleed damage that cats do it's not that good anyway.

Q: Okay...what about other weapon enchants?
A: The jury's still out on Berserking; it should add about 150 AP over time, but it's not clear what the uptime will be. Massacre or Accuracy are both other good options.

Q: What if there's a choice between enchants? How do I choose?
A: It really depends on what your gear is, but in general: Expertise and Hit are worth 1.3 Agility points, strength is 1.05 AEP, crit is worth .85 AP .425ish (though you tend to get double the value out of it), and haste/arpen are worth .7. Use Rawr!

Q: Other enchants in general?
A: As with gear, go with hit/expertise until the cap, then strength, agility, then crit/AP.

Q: What about the 2pT4 bonus?
A: @70: as good as ever.
A: @80: literally useless (it has a 0% proc rate at lvl 80).

Q: You said something about the 2pT6're not talking about mangle, are you?
A: I am! With 2pT6, improved mangle and ferocity you can get 29 energy mangles - and with the buff to mangle's damage this makes mangle the best damage per energy you can get, and greatly increases how fast you can generate CPs. With this you can do things like skip shredding attacks and just manglespam for best damage, only shredding when you get an OoC proc. If you do this, get the T6 bracers and belt; they won't get improved that much through Naxx. Though I expect that this won't be that big a buff for long.

Q: What idol should I use?
A: If there are 10 or more people in your raid that will benefit from it, the Idol of the Raven Goddess is still the best, but just barely. Otherwise go for something that boosts shred or rip.


Q: I can't take all the talents I want!
A: Yeah, they made it so that you can't take all bear and cat talents. If you want to do the best dps you can as a cat, you'll have to make some sacrifices.

Q: You don't have a core cat spec! Damnit, what do I need to take?
A: 0/44/11. There are two filler points in Feral Aggression that can be moved, along with random things like Survival Instincts, but that's basically what you must have.

Q: What can I skip?
A: If you really aren't ever going to bear, you can skip Thick Hide, Natural Reaction and Protector of the Pack.

Q: What about Feral Aggression? Does it still suck?
A: At level 70: Yes, it still sucks.
A: At level 80: it depends on your rotation, but for maximum DPS it is okay but a bit marginal. Really depends on how often you use FB.

Q: What about natural shapeshifter/master shapeshifter?
A: It's not bad, but it's not as good as rend & tear. It still is worth picking up if you have the points, but losing it for more hybrid stuff isn't the end of the world.

Q: Furor?
A: Not that good at all any more. Don't spend more than 4 points in it regardless; because of the GCD the 5th point in furor is worth a total of 5 energy. Better to put a point anywhere else.

Q: Rend & Tear?
A: USE COMPLETE SENTENCES, ALREADY! Rend & Tear is very strong, and would be the first points I'd recommend spending for a serious cat build.

Q: Damnit, just tell me the spec you'd use!
A: Fine. @70: 0/50/11
The points in Infected Wounds are there just for utility's sake; they could easily go into brutal impact + imp mangle. Though keep in mind you need at least two points in something below mangle.
A: @80: 0/55/16

Q: What should I go with for leveling in WotLK?
A: Go with the above 50/11 build or something like it, and put more points into imp mangle, berserk and other goodies.

Other choices:

Q: What Inscriptions?
A: @70: Rip and...uh...there really isn't anything else worth anything. Entangling roots might be okay, as is shred, but neither is good for raiding.
A: @80: Rip, Mangle, and whatever else you'd like.

Q: What professions?
A: See this post - the best are leatherworking, then enchanting/inscription/jewelcrafting, depending on your needs and wants. Note that leatherworking isn't nearly as awesome for cats as it is for bears.

Q: If I'm taking all these cat talents, how do I tank as a bear?
A: Without protector of the pack, thick hide and natural reaction you'll dodge less and take more damage. But your threat should be otherwise fine (better, in fact) and you'll still have most of your ohshit buttons depending on your points spent. You should be fine for offtanking most things. Just make sure to focus on mitigation over threat.

Q: All that math and rude answers got me hot and bothered. And as usual you finished too soon. Where can I find the places that you stole this from you ripped this off from?
A: EJ forums on WotLK Feral druids - the big one.
Combat Ratings at 80, which talks about hit/expertise rating
Beta forums, which kind of suck right now
MMO Champion, which has the latest updates on specs and talents
WotLK wiki, where I got most of the info for professions, enchants, gems, and talent changes
Rawr, the best damn optimizer on the planet.
Unbearably HoT on Demo shouts and on gear at 80
Of Teeth and Claws on Glyphs and cat cycles.
Toskk on DPS as a kitty (and the Druid wiki in general)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

[Druid] Bear FAQ for 3.02/Wrath

Over on Maintankadin, one of my favorite posters put up a great FAQ on tanking for paladins in 3.0.2 and Wrath. I've not seen anything like that for bears - so here's my try. Please comment, ask questions or clarifications and I'll do my best to update it.


Q: What's the point & purpose of this FAQ?
A: Short & simple answers for people who want a quick fix. You don't need to have followed the beta changes since day one. This is for those who didn't read everything on EJ, didn't pour over changes and just want to know what the heck is going on.

Q: You're wrong! My research says blah!
A: Maybe. And if so, point it out and I'll correct it. But I warn you - I do a lot of research and I'm good at it.

Q: But what about 5-mans? Or PvP?
A: I don't care. This is for bears who are MTing 10 and 25-man content, especially 25-man. It is probably suboptimal for other choices.

Q: You smell, and I hate you!
A: Enjoy the WoW forums then. I get flamed over there all the time too.

Q: You don't talk about trash mobs, enchants, or detailed gear selection!
A: Nope, this is quick and dirty. I've talked about professions, gear choices, various good stats and other things elsewhere.

Q: You're just repeating stuff on EJ, Rawr, and Toskk's forums!
A: Largely yes. That's kind of the point - I do the reading so you don't have to.

Mechanics & play changes:

Q: What rotation do I use?
A: For max threat, Mangle->FF->Lacerate. For max DPS, lacerate to 5 stacks, mangle->swipe with refresh on lacerate to keep the stack up. Maul always, no matter what. At high levels of AP swipe beats lacerate on a single application but does not beat a lacerate stack - but those levels of AP aren't really applicable until post-Naxx.

Q: Wait, Faerie fire? Really?
A: Yep. Faerie Fire does damage based on AP, has a high amount of threat - higher threat than lacerate or swipe at lower levels of AP - and it can crit (though it uses spell crit).

Q: I get the 'more powerful spell is in effect' when I use FFF.
A: Use it every 30 seconds; this is a bug that is probably going to make it in.

Q: When do I use Berserk?
A: At the beginning of the fight and then whenever you can, unless you have to save it for a fear break.

Q: I just got crushed.
A: Not by a raid boss. Mobs that are 4+ levels higher than you can crush. But in a raid you'll be fine.

Q: So the magic number for defense was 156 defense rating or 103 resilience rating before. What is it now?
A: 0. As long as you have 3 points survival of the fittest you won't be crittable by raid level mobs.

Q: So no defense then? Or resilience?
A: Yep!

Q: My macro for drinking pots in forms doesn't work any more - how do I fix it?
A: Druids can use potions and other consumables in forms now, so there's no need for a shift to caster to drink then shift back macro. You can do it if you want a bit of extra health, but it's not required.

Q: Wow, I've got all these cooldowns now - how do I use 'em?
A: With the glyph, you've got three ohshit buttons - Frenzied Regeneration, Survival Instincts and Barkskin. And you've got Berserk to break a fear if you need. Barkskin should be used every minute unless it's a fight with predictable spiky damage (like Brutallus tank swaps). Try using Survival Instincts with things like Shadowmoon Insignia for extra health. Try using Frenzied Regen with any healing effects you can do.

Q: Pots in forms, more ohshit buttons...any other big changes?
A: Swipe hits infinite targets!

Q: So I can solo SM in 5 minutes now?
A: Yep, really easily as a matter of fact.

Q: Anything else?
A: Growl has a 20 yard range. And Faerie Fire does damage, but I covered that. And bash now does a spell interrupt.

Q: My powershifting macro is broken!
A: Another not a question, but powershifting is nerfed TO THE GROUND. It doesn't work at all. Don't use it.


Q: Where's all my armor?
A: Gone, baby, gone. No more extra armor on leather items.

Q: So what, we're supposed to wear rogue leather?
A: Yep.

Q: That sucks!
A: Tell me about it.

Q: What rogue leather is best then? It's got all these weird-ass stats...
A: The only stats that help mitigation/avoidance that are on rogue leather are agility, stamina and expertise. Everything else only helps threat.

Q: But doesn't that mean PvP gear has the best stats for tanking then?
A: Yep! At least it has the best mitigation/avoidance stats. The PvE gear is better for threat.

Q: So great...I have to pvp now, don't I?
A: Nope. Sunwell gear is fine for tanking Naxx, as are the lvl 80 quest blues and non-heroic items you get. Threat isn't really a big concern, nor is survivability right now. If you want to get an edge I'd recommend getting enough honor/arena points to get the PvP belt/boots/bracers, which are better than anything that drops in T7 and which should be pretty cheap.

Q: What about the non-leather items?
A: Armor! Yep, lots of armor there. Extra armor is the best stat for mitigation by far; you should have it on your rings, trinkets, amulet, weapon, and extra armor on your cloak.

Q: Man, there's all this shitty defense on all that gear. Why don't they make druid-itemized gear?
A: They hate the druid. But it's okay. Defense is not bad at all, and is only a bit less effective than dodge at higher levels of dodge. Strength is nice for threat. Just try and skip the stuff with parry rating or block rating. Though really - if it has armor on it, it is 4 bare. Armor is so good that anything with armor that isn't leather is automatically a possible choice, even if the rest of the stats suck. Armor and spellpower wouldn't be a bad trinket for a bear.

Q: How about gems?
A: Stamina scales better, but dodge helps too. Don't go overboard with agility like you used to, but definitely do have some agility in there. Agility right now is slightly worse than dodge for giving dodge%, but it also gives armor and threat so it ends up being better.

Q: You have mongoose on your tanking staff?
A: Yep! Mongoose and all 'on hit' enchants works on bears now, and Mongoose is much better than +35 agility on the staff for bears. This is especially true when hitting multiple mobs, as mongoose has a chance to proc per hit on a mob. Right now it's the best enchant for weapons.

Q: Okay...what about other enchants?
A: In general, go for stamina and agility, then avoidance.


Q: I can't take all the talents I want!
A: That's not a question, need the Core Bear Talents. Beyond that it's a lot of personal preference, but you must take those. And you won't be able to take everything you want.

Q: Does infected wounds stack with other slows? Should I take it?
A: It doesn't stack with thunderclap or judgments. And it doesn't work on every single boss or mob (especially robots and elementals, in case you're wondering). If you're doing 10-mans, you should take it as you're probably the only one there who can do the slow. If you're doing 25 mans, probably not unless you find yourself the only guy on a mob. It's easy for you to apply, but a prot warrior will be tclapping all the time - and there's a lot of points to spend in that tree.

Q: What about Feral Aggression? Does it still suck?
A: At level 70: Yes, it still sucks.
A: At level 80:It doesn't suck as much as it used to. Demoralizing roar is equivalent now to demoralizing shout at level 80, and with 5 points in FA it's as good as a warrior's talented demo shout. It's a bit easier for a warrior to get the 5 points to put into their shout, but talk with your other tanks and see who should do it.

Q: What about natural shapeshifter/master shapeshifter?
A: Master shapeshifter would be good if it were only 2 points, but it's essentially 5. And natural shapeshifter is worthless. There are a lot of other places to spend 5 points for more threat/DPS.

Q: Primal Tenacity?
A: Nope.

Q: Intensity?
A: Not for raiding. Lots of other talents to take in its place.

Q: Predatory Instincts? Shredding Attacks?
A: all cat-only, really.

Q: King of the Jungle?
A: One of the best cat talents, but only meh for bears. Nice for an early threat lead but not all that useful otherwise. And threat really isn't that big of a concern right now. Still, get it if you plan on doing any decent amount of kitty.

Q: Furor?
A: Honestly, I'd go with 3/5 furor and 2/2 Imp MotW. You can always shift a couple times to get the furor bonus if you need.

Q: Damnit, just tell me the spec you'd use!
A: Fine. At 70: 0/61/0
I know I just said don't use KotJ, but it's that and bash or 4 points in furor, and furor really isn't worth it. The 10 points to get naturalist skips out on too many important talents, and you want to play with your new toys. Helps a bit for cat too.
A: At 80: 0/60/11.

Q: What should I go with for leveling in WotLK?
A: Go with 0/50/11 and then put points into Berserk, Rend & Tear, and finish off as you'd like to. Or go 0/61/0 and just AoE grind.

Other choices:

Q: What Inscriptions?
A: At 70: Frenzied Regeneration and Maul.
A: At 80: Frenzied Regeneration, Maul and Growl if you really want, Rip or Mangle otherwise.

Q: What professions?
A: See this post - the best are leatherworking, then enchanting/inscription/jewelcrafting, depending on your needs and wants.

Q: If I'm taking all these bear talents, how do I dps as a cat?
A: Manglespam! With improved mangle, the 2pT6 bonus and Rend & Tear a bear can just go cat and manglespam. Only shred on an omen of clarity proc (assuming you took it), and otherwise keep up rake, savage roar, rip and ferocious bite when you can. And manglemanglemangle. Even without the 2pT6 bonus this is pretty good damage.

Q:'re a sexy theorycrafter. You're so smart when you explain things. Where can I find the places that you stole this from more information?
A: EJ forums on WotLK Feral druids - the big one.
Combat Ratings at 80, which talks about diminishing returns
Beta forums, which kind of suck right now
MMO Champion, which has the latest updates on specs and talents
WotLK wiki, where I got most of the info for professions, enchants, gems, and talent changes
Rawr, the best damn optimizer on the planet.
Unbearably HoT on Demo shouts and on gear at 80
Of Teeth and Claws on Glyphs
Toskk on DPS as a kitty (and the Druid wiki in general)

Plus a whole ton of places that I can't be bothered to mention.

Monday, October 27, 2008

[Druid] Rumors of my bad threat may have been greatly exaggerated

In an earlier report I commented on how it felt my threat was poor, I was taking more damage than other tanking classes, etc.

I was a whiny git.

The real thing to understand now is that bear threat isn't as static as it was before. In bear tanking gear threat isn't nearly as good as it used to be, especially relative to the other tanks. This is because they largely expect you to be tanking in rogue leather at 80, so have budgeted accordingly. So threat...doesn't feel so hot in your tanking gear.

But when you start stacking AP? Oh, yes. We start going to 11. Or, for instance, you start putting out 1500 DPS while tanking a boss. Note to those who might be unfamiliar with the fight: this isn't a gimmick or anything. The fight has one add that I tank, then the boss himself. There aren't multiple adds coming out that would inflate dps done. There isn't any special thing from odd abilities that inflates it (fire bloom does get counted to you, but it's a minor boost and almost everyone gets it). It's just boss tanking - mangle, maul and lacerate.

Yep. 6th on damage, 1577 DPS. This is tanking in my DPS gear. Which is fine, honestly; the change to SotF means I'm uncrittable, the protector of the pack boost helps a lot with mitigation lost due to armor and on KJ armor doesn't matter anyway. I'm at 18k health, which is more than enough for soul flay tanking - and barkskin every minute helps with random fire blooms and the occasional orb hits.

But boy, is that some good threat. And just in case you're wondering, this wasn't an isolated pull; I was averaging 1400 DPS for the fights. This one was a bit high because we wiped shortly after I popped my second berserk, but it wasn't so insanely high that it was an anomaly.

So if you're wanting to have a good time, put on that Staff of the Forest Lord and go to town.

I still am taking more damage than other tanks are, but threat wise it's damn fun, and damage is through the roof.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

[Druid]The death of the Swift Flight Form quest

From WoWInsider come the latest patch notes for 3.0.3. And they make me...a bit sad. Not a ton of changes for ferals; berserk fixes the mangle cooldown issue, growl has a cooldown of 8 seconds and survival instincts is off the GCD. That's all fine and good.

But this bothers me.

The Swift Flight Form is now available on the trainer at level 71, requiring 300 riding skill, and Flight Form learned.

It means, practically, no new druids will bother with the epic flight questline. They'll just train their flight form at 68 and then get some money and train it again at 71. No heroic Sethekk halls, no dodging bombs through a river, no trekking across half of Outlands trying to get random NPCs to notice you.

I realize that new druids coming up aren't likely to get honored with LC so they can do the Sethekk halls questline, much less find 4 other people willing to run old, annoying content. But taking away the entire thing, basically? That's pretty sad.

They're also doing a similar thing for paladin and warlock mounts. Sigh.

I guess one can do these quests if they're so inclined, and that's good. Having more choices is great. But I liked the notion that you could get something special for your class, but only if you worked a bit at it. It's not like druids couldn't get an epic flying mount if they didn't want to do the quest (same with paladins and warlocks and their epic ground mounts).

It just feels like one more piece of why playing a druid is special got thrown out.

ETA: Just so everyone's clear, the quest is NOT going away. You can do the quest at 70 if you so choose. You are being given a choice here. Instead of having to do the quest, you can simply wait until level 71.

I'm not lamenting the loss of the questline, as it'll stay around. I'm lamenting that so few druids will do it.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

[Druid] Stupid bear tricks with swipe

I confess: my favorite change so far is swipe having infinite targets. This isn't thrilling for raid tanking; it doesn't come up that often. It's not close to being as good as other tank's AoE abilities, as it basically requires good positioning and every GCD to be used on swipe. But having it means AoE farming time, and that's something I've desperately missed.

Swipe (like I alluded to in my previous post) is kind of different than the other AoE abilities that tanks have, in that it's an actual physical attack. This can be bad; it is mitigated by armor, can be blocked/parried/dodged, and requires a lot more use of it to work well for AoE threat.

But the advantage is that it's an attack, and that each separate hit can trigger 'on hit' procs. That's pretty neat, and unlike anything any other class can do against infinite mobs. There's got to be a way to shamelessly exploit this, right?

Turns out no. Or at least, none that I could find. I was hoping to find a 'chance on hit: do 10-20 damage to all mobs in 5 yards' type of thing, but that doesn't appear to exist. Still, there are ways to make your AoE nuking more fun, entertaining, or at least a bit more sustainable.

Some of the nice ones that aren't totally broken but are really, really good:

The original that started it all was Mongoose and noticing that it was up all the time. This already was better for bears than +35 agi, but when you throw in multiple mobs it becomes really fun.

For even easier farming and zero downtime, you can try using Battlemaster, which should proc multiple times a swipe with sufficient mobs.

Darkmoon card: Heroism is a bit cheaper than battlemaster on an item, especially now that inscription can make these cards. Should be a similar effect and a similar behavior to the enchant. A cheaper piece yet is the Mark of Conquest from zangamarsh.

Romulo's Poison Vial looks like just a bit more damage, but it could be fun. And the +hit helps do it even more. I'd like to either try this out or darkmoon card: maelstrom and see whether I can cause my current target to melt.

Some of the things that aren't so hot:

Shard is great normally, but the proc can only happen once every 45 seconds. The expertise is awesome but the proc? Not to be exploited. Same for hourglass or its bigger brother, Tsunami Talisman

Dragonspine Trophy has a 20 second internal cooldown. That doesn't make it bad, but it does mean you're basically getting 110 haste or so, which isn't the hottest thing ever.

Any other ideas of stupid bear tricks with swipe?

[Druid] Tanking T6 content in 3.0.2

Anon, from yesterday: you were right. The content now is so trivial that theorycrafting is kind of silly. Yes, you can regem or re-enchant things that were used in other ways (like for anti-crit). Yes, you can find cool new trinkets. And yes, you can put on some PvP gear.

But really, it's just not that important, and you're better off saving your money for WotLK. If you've got mats, I'd recommend you sell 'em. If you've got arena points, spend them now on that tanking gear (they're going away anyway) but don't stress if you don't get everything, and don't bust your ass trying to get a rating.

The PvP gear will be harder to replace in WotLK, so it's worth something, but it's not worth stressing over.

And wow, are things easy. I had most of the night off last night, but my wife was doing our guild's first BT run. Some highlights:
  • Teron dying after spawning one and only one construct (and not because he targeted rogues, either)
  • Bloodboil going to 22% after his first Fel Rage
  • RoS's biggest danger was people killing themselves
  • Killing Mother despite losing 5 people to idiocy
And then I got to come in for Illidan. We had a total of 5 tanks in the raid at the time, so that should give you an idea of our 'awesome' dps. Here's what we saw:
  • Illidan going to P2 after two flame crashes
  • Illidan's eyebeam happening once - after the first flame was dead
  • Illidan's barrage happening once during P2
  • Got Illidan to 34% in the first P3
  • Downed Illidan in first P5 (as he was transitioning to demon)
Yeah, that's right - we saw exactly one demon within phase. If we brought a few more DPS - which we could, healing is a joke right now) we could likely never ever see a phase 4. Just sad, but on the flip side I don't mind; I saw all the fights when they were hard, and I don't mind a relaxing night of farming for glaives and shields.

Runy asked this yesterday:
I had heard that Swipe was scaling pretty poorly, but I'm not sure if that's still the case. Have you seen any evidence of this? Additionally, I was taking a metric fuckton of damage (although admittedly, I had like 7+ mobs on me at times). I'm interested in seeing how this plays out in a raid environment (we're considering seeing how much T5 content we can 10 man).

My experience with swipe is that it holds aggro poorly, especially compared to consecrate. With 4pT6 and feral instincts and a threat weapon my swipes were doing around 290 damage before crits. The prot paladin that was with us (we were doing a fun run for achievements) was holding aggro far better with his consecrate. I would frequently lose a mob when the lvl 66 mage started doing AoE; he never would.

However, I do FAR more damage than he does. Things just melt under swipe, especially with high crit and a threat weapon. I was doing over 1k DPS regularly.

I'm not sure how they can fix this, to be honest. They can nerf the damage and cause it to do more threat, but then lacerate will be put aside. They can introduce static threat components, but that also sucks. And having to spam swipe all the time and use every single GCD to hold aggro is very annoying when AoE tanking things. I do like that at least I can keep everything off the healers fairly well, but it's not nearly as good as a paladin or warrior or DK's version. It's a band-aid fix to a problem that's a bit more rooted in the core mechanics of the class.

On the flip side, something like Battlemaster combined with swipe becomes very, very stupid. I think that I could reasonably solo most heroics with that. I was planning on putting goose on the Forest Lord anyway; I think I may put battlemaster on it first and go and have some fun. My suspicion is that swipe as the AoE generator is broken due to swipe actually hitting things (instead of consecrate or D&D, which are weird DoT mechanics, or TClap, which is basically an AoE spell). Battlemaster is nice because it causes a lot of self-healing when dealing with mobs...but what about something that causes a lot of damage? There has to be a large number of stupid 'chance on hit' things that break when you get a ton of procs.

Now to find them.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

[Druid] A trinket you've probably forgotten about

With 3.0.2, we're all back to pre-Kara days of armor while having really huge amounts of stam, strength and random stats that don't mean as much as they used to. Sniff, sniff...I'll miss you most of all, agility.

First off, all PvP gear in 3.0.2 retained its bonus armor. This means that the brutal dragonhide set is by far the best gear for tanking (save for the broken harness of Carnal Instinct, which presumably just missed being nerfed). Vengeful is pretty good too, especially certain pieces. You'll trade some agi and some strength, but if you can replace the gloves and the helm or chest with vengeful/brutal pieces, you should be a bit better off for mitigation.

But who cares about that? Let's go for the big leagues. Let's go for...

Living Root of the Wildheart.

This little gem drops from Hydross. Most everyone ignores the thing; after all, proc rate trinkets are unreliable at best, and this looked like another one of those examples where somehow, Blizzard expected a druid to be tanking, doing cat stuff, blowing crap up and then healing all on the same go. Those usually suck, right? I mean, look at the asstacular Ashtongue Talisman. I think I went and looked up what this did a long time ago and then ignored it from then on. I mean, the bear version isn't special when you're armor capped and the cat version only gives 64 stre...

Wait a sec.

We're no longer armor capped. We're not even close to armor capped any more.

And this proc gives 4070 armor.

I haven't tested this live yet. What the comments say is that the proc rate appears to be about 3% per swing, lasting 15 seconds, and that with a normal bear attack rate you can expect about 50% uptime. 2000 armor, amortized over time, is a really large win; this gives more armor than badge of tenacity does on average.

It'll be hard to give up something like the Commendation, but right now this is strictly better than Moroes (as it's up more often) and is probably better than badge. It'll help a lot with dealing with post armor-nerf blues. Check it out if you haven't.

Friday, October 10, 2008

[Druid] Don't take Feral Aggression in 3.02!

Okay, I know that Demoralizing Roar is being buffed so that it'll match the warrior's version at the highest level. But here's the thing - it doesn't at level 70. Nothing's changing about demoralizing roar at level 70, so it will still provide only a 220 AP drop untalented and 336 talented.

This is compared to the 300 AP drop from demoralizing shout that gets buffed to 420 talented.

Yes, it'll be worth it when you hit 80 if you're going to be the AP debuff guy. It'll be just as good as a warrior's version. But right now the only reason you should get feral aggression is if you don't have any warrior in your raid at all or for whatever reason can't have a warrior debuff the mob.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

[Druid] The core 3.02/WotLK bear talents

Bears have choices.

Many, many, many choices. Probably too many. And of course, things will change; since I did my first preview two months ago bears have added several new abilities, talents and skills to their repetoire. So I'll go with both the generic and the specific on this so that in case anything else comes up, it'll be at least mostly accurate.

For bears as for all tanks, the rule has been ever simple: survival first, then threat, then situational abilities. Sure, you can go for the threat build early on and make your DPS happy, but if you die it won't matter at all. That was actually a viable build for paladins post T6, for instance, and it may be a viable strategy for bears. But I'm considering the case where you're facing a boss that hits harder than you've ever seen, or makes it so that healers simply can't heal you that often. Or when, simply, you're at the edge of progression and need the survival. That's the general thinking on tanking and what we'll go with first in terms of priority.

The essential talents for all bears are:
Ferocity (5 points)
Thick Hide (3 points)
Savage Fury (2 points)
Survival Instincts (1 point)
Feral Swiftness (2 points)
Feral Charge (1 point)
Predatory Strikes (3 points)
Heart of the Wild (5 points)
Natural Reaction (3 points)
Survival of the Fittest (3 points)
Leader of the Pack (1 point)
Protector of the Pack (3 points)
Mangle (1 point)

Total talent points required: 33

That surprised me too. Since WotLK launched I've felt feral was overbloated, but the fact is that the core tanking talents aren't really that big. The big problem here is tier 6; Tier 6 has 11 talent points in essential talents, but there are only 17 talent points before it that are absolutely required.

From there, you get a lot of talents that rock but are not required for any specific reason. Why? Because they either all deal with threat at around 1% more threat per talent point, are situational, or are buffs that are taken care of by other classes.

As I said above, the tricky part is tiers 1-5. There are only 17 talent points that are required. The rest are situational and may be wanted or not depending. The classic build would have 3 points in Sharpened Claws, two in Primal Fury, and three in Feral Instinct. Those could also be put into Feral Aggression as well. Personally, I would put the points into Primal Precision before Primal Fury. In any case, you need 8 more points to get to 25, but after that you need exactly 41 to get everything that is required in the feral tree including mangle. And 52 total for the 11 point resto tax.

From there, it comes down to a lot of personal preference and the big bugaboo - raid utility versus threat output. Of the remaining talents, I would get them in the following order:

Primal Fury
Improved Mangle
Rend and Tear

That's a total of 52 points spent in the feral tree. Why those 4?

Primal Fury is a requirement for doing cat DPS. It also helps quite a bit with offtanking and when tanking multiple mobs with swipe can give essentially infinite rage.
Improved Mangle is not a huge threat win; replacing one swipe or lacerate in 6 seconds with one mangle is not actually as big of a threat gain on a single target as you might think. This, however, enables fairly decent DPS using mangle spam for cats without requiring shredding attacks.
Rend And Tear is close to the best threat benefit, point for point, that bears have. Since maul makes up 50% of our threat currently, each point in R&T is a 2% threat boost, straight up. That's almost as good as primal precision. That it also helps cat DPS cycles is a bonus.
Berserk is just fun. A fear ward is great, but 10 mangles in 15 seconds is just a huge boost of early threat. Mostly, it's a fun talent that should be taken because it increases your joy.

Assuming the standard 11 points in the resto tree to get Omen of Clarity, what's left? Well, if you've followed my advice, you've got 7 talent points to play with, and the following talents to put them in that are worth anything:

Improved Leader of the Pack (2 points)
Feral Aggression (5 points)
Shredding Attacks (2 points)
Brutal Impact (2 points)
Infected Wounds (3 points)
King of the Jungle (3 points)
Master Shapeshifter (essentially 5 points)
Predatory Instincts (3 points)

And again, we come down to utility vs. threat vs. cat.

On the cat talents: Shredding attacks is almost entirely a cat talent, but it's a good one. Shred is still the winner on DPS, though it's not nearly as high a winner as it used to be thanks to mangle being buffed to 200% damage. Despite the tooltip, Predatory Instincts is 100% a cat talent; it does nothing for bear for either ability, at least right now. It is still a big boost to cat DPS. King of the Jungle is primarily for cat and is a big boost there, though an early enrage to build up threat combined with berserk means such a huge threat lead it's not funny.

The utility talents: brutal impact gives bears an actually useful interrupt at 30 seconds. This isn't the most essential in a raid environment but could be really nice for 5-mans. Feral Aggression is required if your raid doesn't have it but is likely better taken by a warrior if possible; it's not as costly to them to spec into as it is for druids. Improved Leader of the Pack is a middling useful talent. The healing rarely helps tons, though now that it's raidwide it may be a bit better. The mana back is nice for soloing and pvp. Infected Wounds is another talent similar to feral aggression; it's needed if your group doesn't have it already, but pretty superfluous if they do - and all the tank classes get something similar to it for cheaper.

Master shapeshifter helps threat and helps cat as well, but the 5 points spent to get it are very costly. 5 points for 4% more damage or 4% more crit rating is not a particularly good bargain no matter how you slice it. I don't recommend this any more, but for the best threat possible this is what you want.

And that's it. And really, after those 41 points you can do almost anything. If you need a high-utility build, take feral aggression instead of rend & tear, take infected wounds instead of improved mangle, and take brutal impact along with imp LotP. If you want to be more of a hybrid take king of the jungle, predatory instincts, shredding attacks and drop imp mangle. Even furor isn't necessary to max out, and putting two points in Imp mark of the wild is a decent idea.

It's no longer the case that every feral is going to have the same 47/14 build where 10 of those points are very flexible. But all bears should have the same 33/11 core talents, with 8 of those spent in different ways depending. I like that there is more chance for true hybridization or situational abilities or dealing with needs in the raid. The tree is looking pretty sharp right now. I would like to see more spreading of essential talents for bears and cats and possibly a separation of ferocity and feral aggression into a cat-only and bear-only talent, but these are quibbles. And as long as you go for those 33/11 points, you should be good to tank anything.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

[Druid] Feral druid profession choices

First off: the professions are almost certainly going to change. They're the least finished thing in the beta right now. Take this with some grains of salt.

WotLK is really nice so far though - almost all the professions have both equipment that can be used for a while and then ignored, and something that scales and gives a benefit for the rest of your career. Even the farming professions do this! It's really nice that it's no longer a gimpy thing to pick a profession until you get your Tier X item that replaces it, and then have to move on to something else.

The TLDR version: take leatherworking and a gathering profession. If you truly want to min-max, take leatherworking and enchanting or leatherworking and jewelcrafting, as leatherworking and blacksmithing don't work together.

Here's what the associative benefits are:


A really nice, static benefit. This is the best benefit for a feral tank, but doesn't have much synergy with other professions.


Crit strike benefits both cats and bears, but 25 critical strike rating compared to 500 HP? That's kinda sad - it's less than .6% critical strike at 80.

  • - use of fire leaf, which increases AP by 400 at the cost of all armor
  • - Lifeblood, an instant, free HoT that heals you for 2k and can be used in forms.

A quick heal isn't bad for tanking, and fire seed is pretty decent for DPS. This is probably the best one for hybrid players.

Alchemy: (ETA - thanks Karthis and Ray)
The 50% more stats from flasks is not too bad. Using a Flask of Stoneblood, you'll get another 325 health. A Flask of Endless rage will give you 90 AP. The former doesn't compare well with other tanking benefits, but the latter definitely compares well with other DPS. The 25% bonus to elixirs isn't nearly as sexy as that. The trinkets are okay, but they won't last more than Naxx-10 at best, and jewelcrafting gives better ones that will last longer thanks to their gem slots. The extra benefit from potions is okay but not stellar since chain-chugging pots is out anyway. This is a good one if you're wanting to save some money (one flask instead of two for every raid saves a ton) but it's not the best for tanking, not by a longshot. It's decent for DPS, comparing well with pretty much every other profession.


This apparently does stack with enchants on the bracer/gloves, which means this is two free, colorless gem slots. That's a total of 60 stam, 40 strength or 40 dodge as well as a lot of flexibility. However, none of the gear that BS makes is useful for druids, which limits its desirability. For min-maxers this is the second-best profession. Pity it doesn't stack with leatherworking.


This is a total of 48 stam or 64 AP that you would not get otherwise. Enchanting does not have any other direct benefits to a druid though, but this benefit by itself is pretty good.


Engineering has the weakest boosts for overall value, but damn if it's not fun. I haven't been able to test whether you can use the rocket gloves in forms. I desperately hope this is the case; I want to shoot a rocket out of my face. For min-maxing though, Engineering loses out. The goggles aren't even as good as T7-25 content, the trinket is marginal, and the haste glove enchant doesn't win against BS, much less anything else.


Inscribers can make a lot of off-hand items (including one with +armor, which is almost intriguing), but none are all that useful for a feral. 64 AP or 32 dodge is almost exactly the itemization benefit that enchanting gets. 32 dodge and 48 stam are worth the same, after all. So it somewhat comes down to whether you'd rather have one or the other and what profession you'd rather do. Not the best option, but those shoulders are expensive and it's nice to not be forced to grind even more rep.

A total of three dragon's eye gems of any type:

Jewelcrafting definitely gives the most variety of bonuses. The trinket is the best in slot other than armor trinkets thanks to the sockets for bears, and may end up being best in slot for a while. The gems are all prismatic, meaning they match any socket and any color. That's very nice for metagem requirements and socket requirements on some of our annoying gear sockets. Still, the overall bonuses aren't as good as other professions since you can only have 3 gems total. Either 33 stamina or 21 strength or 21 dodge. That's not so hot. Despite it being not perfect, I'd rank it about the same value as enchanting or inscription because of the flexibility and the trinkets.


I can't imagine the stamina fur lining will make it to live, but if it does it becomes the best by a longshot. The only drawback is that if you go engineering and blacksmithing you cannot have a socket and fur lining on bracers, nor can you have an enchant and fur lining. I don't know why either since the socket does stack with the enchant, but whatever. 78 stamina is by far the best improvement if you're looking for that. Right now there is no BoP leather gear at all; I expect this to change. Even without that, there should be a new version of drums, and that combined with this stamina boost make leatherworking the best profession in the game for bears. For cats, 40 strength potentially from blacksmithing is better, though 76 AP is nothing to sneer at.


  • - An AP proc for cloaks, which assuming it's up for 1 minute will give 75 AP per minute; this would beat out 16 agility or 23 haste rating from a cloak.

Tailoring is an odd choice, but the benefit looks ok - if it procs reasonably often. If it doesn't this is probably poor. For a bear it's of no use at all; you'd take defense or agility or even armor before this.

Friday, October 3, 2008

[Paladin] WotLK - getting uncrittable

My RL was talking to me last night about bears being broken. I launched into my crusade of how I'm trying desperately to get bears nerfed before WotLK (no joke, I actually am right now - but that's because we're broken), but he wasn't interested in that.

No, bears were broken because they could get uncrittable via talents. And how it was impossible for warriors to get uncrittable before Naxx.

Naturally my first statement was to tell him 'welcome to druid tanking in TBC' and sent him off after some resilience gear. :) But seriously - Blizzard couldn't design a whole expansion and force all non-druids to use PvP gear to tank in, could they? Turns out they didn't, and they even gave tanks pretty easy ways to get there.

I kept thinking that there's got to be something like a list for gear for warriors and paladins to use...but so far there's nothing. It turns out that it's pretty easy to get to uncrittable, though it's not trivial like it was in TBC. The magic number to hit is 689 defense rating, in order to get to 540 defense skill. And here's how you get there and then some without relying on a single rare drop, enchant or gem.

Chest: Breastplate of the Solemn Council - requires revered with Wyrmrest Accord. If that's not to your liking, you can do a quest to get the Silver-Plated Battlechest.
Defense rating total: 76

Feet: Sabatons of Draconic Vigor - requires revered with wyrmrest accord.
Defense total: 134

Hands: Tempered Saronite Gauntlets - Blacksmithing BoE.
Defense total: 200

Head: Tempered Saronite Helm - Blacksmithing BoE. If you want something a bit tastier but lower on defense, go for Armored Titanium Goggles or Helm of the Ley-Guardian, which drops in the Oculus.
Defense total: 283
Legs: Daunting Legplates - Blacksmithing BoE.
Defense total: 371

Shoulders: Pauldrons of Reconnaissance. Quest reward from Halls of Stone.
Defense total: 417

Belt: Tempered Saronite Belt - Blacksmithing BoE.
Defense total: 474

Bracers: Tempered Saronite Bracers - Blacksmithing BoE.
Defense total: 522

Cloak: Cloak of Peaceful Resolutions - Honored with Wyrmrest accord.
Defense total: 565

Shield: Titansteel Shield Wall - Blacksmithing BoE.
Defense total: 629

Neck: Titanium Earthguard Chain - Jewelcrafting BoE.
Defense total: 663

Ring: Titanium Earthguard Ring and Gal'darah's Signet. The first is a JC BoE, the second drops from Gundrak normal. There's also a lot of other 25 def rings out there. We're just counting the first one, since this is a no rare drop zone.
Defense total: 688

CURSE YOU! Almost there, but not quite.

Weapon: Crescent of Brooding Fury - quest reward from Zul'Drak. If you want to grind a bit more and get something better, you can go for the Cloudstrider's Waraxe, a drop from Heroic Oculus, but that's not necessary.
Defense total: 714

If you're a warrior, you get this beauty too:
Gun: Armor-Plated Shotgun - Engineering BoE (and doesn't require engineering to use).

Trinket: Seal of the Pantheon, a normal drop from Halls of Lightning (ETA - thanks, anon). It's not required to make the def value though, but I figured I'd include it for completeness.

Not a single drop in the bunch that's required (and point of fact, most of the drops actually have less defense than the crafted stuff), only a couple require any dungeons at all, and most can be found at the AH or from your friendly neighborhood crafters. And this doesn't factor in the head enchants, shoulder enchants, cloak enchants, chest enchants, wrist enchants or anything else; with those, you should be able to be fairly flexible with a few of these slots until you get some better gear. Or, if you like, shave off some of that defense requirement with some of the PvP gear/enchants out there.

Definitely a far cry from the pains of getting uncrittable/uncrushable as a paladin in TBC before Kara.