Thursday, January 29, 2009

[Druid] The Anti-Tank part 3: blowing stuff up

Earlier this week I covered how the anti-tank gear set and spec worked for bears. And it was pretty good - 7k threat on KT, able to survive it okay and still be basically versatile. Well, other than killing the guild leader. That may have been a flaw.

And on trash, kitty totally rocked too. 7-8k swipe dps was pretty fun. Didn't get to do a lot of DPS/tanking other than that, and nothing that was a great benchmark.

In fact, later that week we did Malygos, and again the antitank leapt into the fray - the MT went down at one point (stupid pets), and I tanked it for a while. Too many people had died, but we made it to P3. Was able to dps in P1, tank and dps in p2 without a hitch.

But...what about dps? 3.2k dps is marginally acceptable and certainly better than what the other tanking classes can do when not tanking under most circumstances - but is it worthwhile dpsing?

Oh yeah. Oh yeah baby.

It's a pity I died - one of our tanks died early and I was this close to switching to bear right before I died. But DPS wise, it was pretty phenomenal and went right around what Rawr predicted given my gear. I need to be better with using berserk and the timing, but I'm pretty pleased with 5200 DPS.

On Gluth I DPSed for a while until we needed more add tanking. Then I tanked zombies. When decimate hits, going to cat and swiping the hell out of them with berserk was quite nice. Got up to 50 stacks of the debuff too, but the high armor came through just fine. Hooray for offtanking!

Thaddius kind of sucks though. It might suck in general for cats, but it especially sucks in this build. Only 6800 DPS. A lot of this is because about half of the time there are no shreds, and this build does not do as well with manglespam as it could. Part of it is the fight itself; it is crucial that you never apply bleeds until after you've gotten the charge buff. Which also means you should try and time it so that you put up your bleeds right before the polarity shift so that they're ticking during the shift. It's tough, and I messed it up more than a few times. This is true in general; the problem with the cat dps spec in general is that it is very position and dot dependent to maximize. Sometimes this can be an advantage (Sapph loves those dots ticking on him while he's flying) and sometimes not (hate Loatheb and his moving ass, same with Grobbulus).

I don't honestly know how much real MT tanking I'd want to do with this. The HP is awfully low. The avoidance is nice, and there's plenty of armor, but having a bit more would be good too. It does work in a pinch to save the raid though, which is pretty awesome.

But having the ability to do pretty decent DPS and tanking in the same spec? That's awesome. That's the fun I missed a lot from TBC days. And it comes at the cost of threat, basically, and a smidgen of utility for soloing.

So thanks, Blizzard. 3.0.8 wasn't the best for bears, but it's definitely a huge buff for ferals, and it's made me a heck of a lot more excited to raid.

Monday, January 26, 2009

[Druid]The Anti-tank part 2: stats, case study and more

This is a followup to my previous article on maximizing tank DPS and cat DPS in the same gearset while being a good tank. the Apparently I'm reporting on trends that have been going on for, like, ever - as the readers let me know how they'd been tanking in DPS gear for ages now. Oops. Sorry for jumping on the train late, guys. :/

First off, Mekias recommended that I post the unbuffed stats in the same gear to give folks an idea of where they should be, roughly. Here's the bear ones:

Health: 27949
Agility: 1463.724
Armor: 33738.45
Stamina: 2035.2
Dodge Rating: 20
Defense Rating: 15
Resilience: 0
Dodge: 43.56819%
Miss: 4.523326%
Mitigation: 70.93945%
Avoidance PreDR: 55.48667%
Avoidance PostDR: 48.09152%
Total Mitigation: 84.91512%
Damage Taken: 15.08489%
Missed Attacks: 7.6306%
Highest DPS Rotation: 1958 DPS, 4409 TPS
Highest TPS Rotation: 1926 DPS, 4445 TPS

And the cat:
DPS Points: 3165.549
Survivability Points: 214.38
Health: 21438
Attack Power: 10519.55
Agility: 1324
Strength: 111
Crit Rating: 382
Hit Rating: 235
Expertise Rating: 146
Haste Rating: 339
Armor Penetration Rating: 326.4
Avoided Attacks: 0.8331783%
Crit Chance: 42.70936%
Optimal Rotation: Mangle+Shred+Rip+Roar5
Optimal Rotation DPS: 3165.549

I'm not thrilled with the small amount of stamina on the gear; having only 27k unbuffed is pretty flimsy for a bear. But it's certainly doable for the content, especially with that high of avoidance. The biggest slot that I dislike is the trinket slot. There's just really no good choices for double-duty items there other than the DM:G agility trinket. This might be a reason for me to go JC after all; the trinkets they get can be tailored for some tanky-goodness and some DPS fun.

As to how well it works - well, last night was the first time this week that we've been able to raid. Stupid lag. I got to be in on a lot of the fights with this gear strategy. Here's what I found:

  • Swipe - cat is insane. Just insane. Hit something with a rake, SR, swipe, TF, swipe swipe. Things die. If you want to make other people feel bad, after that TF hit berserk. Get 7k DPS for a trash pull. Profit.
  • For trash at least, this is perfectly fine for tanking. No problems at all.
  • I was able to reliably get about 3.2k DPS on most fights, and that's with substantially less gear than I posted. Some fights were better than others, and I need to get better at the rotations, but it was certainly competitive dps if not ideal.
The end of the night had me on DPS on KT. I was feeling pretty good on this. I had done decently on Sapph and was starting to get into a groove. Went through the waves in phase one just fine, got ready to start DPSing -

And then our MT went down almost immediately to two uninterrupted frostbolts. I switched to bear, taunted and tanked him till the end. I had about 34k HP, I believe. I don't think there were many problems keeping me up. There were some...amusing side effects of me tanking that I hadn't thought of.

For starters, having that low of HP while tanking (yes, _only_ 34k) made his frostbolts hurt quite a bit. Not insurmountable; one time I had to hit SI, but that was about it.

In 25-man, I cannot stress how important it is not to maul (when you have the glyph) when a melee gets MCed nearby you. Because maul? Does a lot of damage. It does enough to kill your guild leader and your best warrior DPS. If you aren't thinking about it and are swiping to maximize threat like you should be, you might really pwn their asses. (sorry, Baelor and Juliand) You can't stop doing threat moves, of course (he drops aggro at that point) but you can stop doing some of the multitarget threat moves.

And with all of this, I did 2700 DPS as a tank. Yikes. Of that, probably 50-100 DPS was on my own guys. :p

So the beta test of the antitank system appears to be pretty decent. I am tempted to recommend using Essence of Gossamer instead of Grim Toll in it; you'll gain almost 1500 health, not lose a ton of DPS or TPS, and would be more well-rounded. Really depends on the encounter, I think.

A couple people asked about what spec I'd recommend for this. This is the one I'm using. It sacrifices imp Mangle and imp LotP for shredding attacks, KotJ and primal instincts. I miss imp lotp quite a bit soloing, but I don't miss it at all in raids. I'm still tempted to switch out primal instincts for ilotp, since I do a lot of soloing.

And as luck would have it, the loot gods were pretty favorable to me last night too - both the T7 chest and Journey's End fell into my hands. Those are going to be pretty big for DPS, the chest is great for normal tanking, and threat should be fun. I would like to upgrade my boots, my neck, my rings, my cloak and a trinket - but those should all be minor upgrades at best. I also got berserking on the staff. I'll let you know what the uptime I see is. My math says that it's going to not proc that much at all, but we'll see.

One thing's for sure - being able to look at gear and wanting the DPS stats on it makes me a lot more interested in raiding and gearing up.

Friday, January 23, 2009

[Druid]The Anti-tank: maximizing DPS for fun and profit

The above was what I found when I searched for 'anti tank' in images. It turns out that there were such a thing as 'anti tank dogs' in Russia which had explosives wrapped around them and then were sent to go kill tanks. They didn't work because, well, they were trained to find food under Russian tanks, which meant they tended to blow up their friends as well as enemies. But the image was too awesome to pass up. There's your history lesson for the day.

A disclaimer: This is not for starting tanks. This is not for those struggling on progression content. This is not a guide on how to gear up for Naxx if you haven't already.

As Karthis pointed out recently, kitty DPS is now really, really fun and challenging. Runy at UnbearablyHoT linked to a couple addons that help manage the difficult priority scheme of kitty rotations. Flyv's talked about doing cat and bear for a while now.

And now I've caught the bug.

I think it starts innocently. "Hmm, I wonder how much DPS manglespam can actually do?". Then you look, and it's not so bad. Then you wonder if you got King of the Jungle for a bit more energy, whether you could get a nicer rotation and take advantage of that juicy 50% crit bonus on ferocious bite. Then you start wondering about whether things like improved mangle are REALLY that important, and get shredding attacks.

You know, just to try it out. Just for a bit. Just to see how it feels.

Then you start beating other DPS players on fights. You start beating other melee in your crappy, unenchanted blues and suboptimal spec. "This is pretty good", you think. "I'm almost at the point where I can tank with the best of them and DPS pretty well with the same spec! All I need is a gear swap, and I'm good to go for whatever! "

Welcome back, TBC ferals. We missed you.

Then 3.0.8 hits, and yeah, for some of you (like me) your armor got reduced in your better tanking spec. It's a bummer, but your threat should still be pretty strong and you're still scaling ridiculously with stamina for things like Sarth3D. You still have stupid mitigation on Patchwerk. You still do great damage on trash.

Then you accidentally put on your cat gear and look at your character sheet in bear...and are shocked as your armor increased by 50%.

Then you start wondering...what's the difference between cat and bear gear any more?
Both have stamina.
Both have agility.
Both have the same amount of armor, at least on leather.
Furthermore, because of the change to armor on jewelry, agility on those DPS jewelry pieces becomes pretty valuable, and those DPS rings, amulets and cloaks start looking really decent.

So what's the difference? Really, it's about how you gem and enchant it. Otherwise it's basically exactly the same.

The question then becomes whether it's possible and reasonable to tank in cat gear with a cat hybrid spec. That's the holy grail, right there - can you tank reasonably well without switching gear for cat? Can you do kitty DPS reasonably well without switching gear? Can you have one spec AND gear set that does great cat damage and great bear damage while being able to tank?

Because if you're the best slot for an OT, bar none. You can DPS on KT for the first half of the fight, do competitive DPS, and then go tank a couple adds in the second half. You can tank one of Thaddius's friends and then jump down and kill Thaddius while the other tank goes nuts. You can obliterate trash as cat and if something goes wrong or you draw aggro, just switch to bear and beat the hell out of 'em that way. You can DPS on Malygos in P1, tank and DPS in P2 and go to town later.

Or you can just tank the hell out of things and put out so much threat even paladins get jealous.

So what would this mythical gearset look like? Well, there are two approaches we can do, and I'll cover both. The first is to maximize survivability while trying to do the most damage as bear and cat. The second is to maximize damage as cat while doing okay on survivability as bear.

Maximizing Damage

For maximizing damage, the main thing is the enchants that we don't normally want in bear. The amount of DPS we gain from agility vs strength is pretty small - but the big enchants change a lot. The secondary thing is things like trinkets and to a lesser extent rings. But we'll get there shortly.

For your weapon and idol, remember that you can swap gear when you change forms, all on the same GCD. So we can have a totally different weapon and idol. This will allow you to get a lot of expertise and a different enchant on the weapon for bear and pure dps for cat. Something like...Inevitable Defeat would be good if you want to maximize threat. Still, it's going to lose out to Journey's End, but that's a good placeholder. This also allows you to enchant your DPS weapon with massacre or berserk, which is much better than mongoose too. :)

So gem like crazy for agility, hit and expertise. This sounds suspiciously like the guide for bears already, and you'd be right - except for certain slots. Those slots are the ones with DPS-centric enchants, and that's what I'll cover now.

For the head, you'll want to get a head with a metagem and use relentless earthsiege and the arcanum of ferocity. Both of these are strictly DPS-only, so you don't want to wreck your normal set with them. (or maybe you do, but I'd advise against it). The difference between this enchant and gem is about 4% DPS alone, so that should give you some motivation. Since it's DPS, you should go for strength or hit too.

For the shoulders, it's the better axe vs better pinnacle enchants from Hodir. This is actually something that you can skip out on if you want to; the gain from the enchant is not that much. Still, I find that leather dps shoulders drop often, so you should be able to pick them up okay.

For the legs, well, leg quality differs drastically from item to item, but the big thing is the leg enchant. The DPS leg enchant is roughly 1.5% more DPS as well, by itself. Try and get Leggings of the Honored if at all possible (yes, this is Sarth2d), as they have more armor and a huge amount of hit, great for both roles.

For the bracers, it's mostly whether you have leatherworking or not. The huge AP bonus is another 1.5% DPS right there, but giving up 90 stamina is really tough. Again, try and get another good set of bracers and use them.

For your jewelry Favor of the Dragon Queen gives great DPS and is one of the better survival necks in the game now. For rings, the Greatring of Collision is exceptional but hard to find (drops off of 10-man Sarth2D). The Strong-handed ring is another good option for both. Hemmoraging Circle is a nice compromise too, but not great. On the cloak, try and pry from their cold, dead hands the Drape of the Deadly Foe, but more likely spend the badges on Hammerhead Sharkskin Cloak.

For trinkets, the #1, by far, is Darkmoon Card: Greatness. Good benefits for both specs. For the other, I'd recommend a hit trinket like Grim Toll if you can do it.

If you're following along, this is what you'd have assuming good gear elsewhere:
Head: Valorous + Relentless and arcanum of ferocity and agililty gems
Neck: favor of the dragon queen
Shoulders: valorous + greater axe + agility gems
Cloak: drape of the deadly foe + major agility
Chest: Chestguard of the recluse (better for threat thanks to the expertise) + powerful stats + agility
Wrists: Wristwraps of the cutthroat + attack power (I'm assuming leatherworking here)
Gloves: Valorous + major agility
Belt: Belt of the Tortured + socket & agility
Legs: Leggings of the honored + icescale + agility/expertise stam (for meta)
Feet: Footwraps of vile deceit (or dawnwalkers) + superior agility + agility/hit (for metagem)
Rings: Greatring of Collision + 6 all stats, Strong-Handed ring
Trinket: Darkmoon Card Greatness, Grim Toll
Weapon: Journey's End + Massacre (for cat), Origin of Nightmares + Mongoose (for bear)
Idol: Idol of Worship for cat, idol of terror for bear

Now let's plug that in for Rawr.
Stats for bears, raid-buffed: 36.8k armor, 56.3% avoidance, 37k health. 3621 DPS, and a nice even 8000 TPS.
Stats for cats, raid-buffed: 5081 DPS, 48% crit

That's pretty awesome. It's also ideal in terms of buffs, single target rotation, etc. And has some really absurd gear. Still...this is what's possible. Note that there's nothing here that really is a make or break item, either. Grim toll is nice, but mirror of truth will do well too. Favor of the Dragon Queen is great, as is Chestguard of recluse, but a lot of the ilvl 213 items will do similarly.

Something to note is that if you replace all the agility gems with strength and replace the compromise slots (DM:G with strength, one of the rings) you only gain about 40 DPS, but lose a good couple % of dodge. Honestly, I don't think it's worth it.

Maximizing Survivability.
For this, we're starting with the bear first and then making a couple compromises for cats. That means more stamina and mostly changes in the enchants.

The first thing to realize is that we don't have to change much of the gear. This was kind of a surprise to me too, actually; I was rallying to make the tanking rings, amulets and cloak not as good as they are, but really it doesn't take all that much. Agility is just that good, and a lot of the time the stamina is very competitive. Still, we're going to swap one ring at least, and one trinket; there's no need to go for a pure threat trinket here. Note that if you can get your hands on two Darkmoon cards (one for strength, one for agi), in theory those would be the two best trinkets in the game for bears and two of the three best for cats. I'm not sure whether you can do that though - they're unique-equipped, but they're different item registries.

So we'll change the greatring to a gatekeeper. We'll get back our 2% meta and normal head enchant. We'll get our tanking leg and shoulder enchants back. And we'll go with those wrist enchants.

Head: Valorous + Austere and arcanum of Stalwart Protector and agililty gems
Neck: favor of the dragon queen + agility gem
Shoulders: valorous + greater pinnacle + agility gems
Cloak: drape of the deadly foe + major agility
Chest: Chestguard of the recluse (better for threat thanks to the expertise) + powerful stats + agility
Wrists: Wristwraps of the cutthroat + stamina (I'm assuming leatherworking here)
Gloves: Valorous + major agility
Belt: Belt of the Tortured + socket & agility
Legs: Leggings of the honored + frosthide + agility/expertise stam (for meta)
Feet: Footwraps of vile deceit (or dawnwalkers) + superior agility + defense/stam (for metagem)
Rings: Gatekeeper, Strong-Handed ring
Trinket: Darkmoon Card Greatness, Valor Medal (or essence if you wanted)
Weapon: Journey's End + Massacre (for cat), Origin of Nightmares + Mongoose (for bear)
Idol: Idol of Worship for cat, idol of terror for bear

Bear stats: 37900 armor, 55% dodge, 38.2k health (or 40k health with essence long with 53.8% dodge). 3043 DPS, 6747 TPS
Cat stats: 4565DPS, 46% crit

The difference in the mitigation and avoidance values isn't that high, shockingly - but the difference in the TPS/DPS is pretty amazing. This should illustrate the new math: the difference between DPS and tanking gear is overall quite small.

Now clearly you shouldn't use this on Sarth3D. And this takes advantage of all the raid buffs you can get normally, so if you're doing 10-mans this might not be perfect (though it won't be far off, and having a tank who can DPS regularly in 10-mans is pretty advantageous).

Also, this is Rawr. Rawr's damage models aren't perfect. I think it overvalues armor penetration significantly, for instance, which is why Wristwraps of the Cutthroat are showing up so high. But it's going to be close, and it's going to be spot-on with respect to avoidance, mitigation and survival in bear form.

Since my gear set for Sarth3D is basically set, I think I'm going to start working on this set now. And yes, I'll be using that dps set full time, thank you very much. :)

Monday, January 19, 2009

[General] Titanguard out, content still trivial

Well, it's official - GC has gone out and said that Titanguard won't be making it in, and explained why.

What this does for druids: not a lot. It would've been another nice source of stamina for Sarth3D, but for normal tanking duties you'd still want mongoose. Having options is nice, though, and I was really looking forward to having a stam stick and an avoidance stick. Ah well.

What this does for paladins/warriors: OMG END OF THE WORLD AAAAAAH. Or, ya know, not. It's true - there just aren't any particularly sexy enchants on weapons right now. Mongoose for warriors and paladins is pretty subpar given the typical fast attack speed for them. The exception would be if they're using Broken Promise for some reason; if they do that, mongoose should proc about the same for a warrior that it does for a druid. (Paladins are still screwed, as most of their threat-generating attacks aren't weapon based). At the same time though, what options do they really have? Yes, 75 stamina or 50 stamina would've been the best for them, but at the same time 50 stamina really isn't that much on the grand scheme of things. Compare this to 63 spellpower or berserker, and it's just seemingly really arbitrary that tanks can't get anything of this nature.

What I'd like to see: a 50 stamina enchant that costs roughly the same mats as 50 spellpower does. Then a better tanking enchant that doesn't give stamina but does give some kind of mitigation ability based on damage dealt. It should not have a proc mechanic; that screws over the fast-hitting attack method of the warrior and the lack of physical attacks of the paladin. Ideally it'd have an internal cooldown but a high proc chance, so that the overall uptime is consistent and it can give the tank some control. Let that be the one that costs mats similar to Berserking or Black Magic. Make it only slightly more powerful than the 50 stamina enchant, but definitely make it work out that it's more powerful overall. This isn't that hard; 50 stamina doesn't win out all the time, and depending on the enchant could be much better for some fights and worse for others. For instance, on the wow forums I recommended an enchant that occasionally creates a spell reflect shield with 3 charges; if the spell could not be reflected, it would be reduced in damage by a certain static amount. This wouldn't be great against Patchwerk but would rock on Malygos and Sarth - and it'd be great for druids and paladins, who don't have as many anti-magic alternatives. But would you use it all the time? Probably not.

With all of that being said, tanks aren't exactly crying out for a new enchant to their weapon because they can't do the content. They're just bored with using BC-level enchants on their new shinies. I can appreciate that too; it's kind of lame hunting down the couple of people still around with mongoose to go log in to their alt and make it for me every time I get something new. My gut feeling is that they didn't want to do Titanguard because they've already very tightly tuned Ulduar around expected stam values for tanks, and giving them more would make it that much easier. We'll see, but it's hard not to be disappointed that there still is no tanking-specific enchant at any real level other than a weapon chain.

Friday, January 16, 2009

[Druid] Pre-Naxx benchmarks

I get a lot of people asking what their numbers should be, about, before doing Naxx-10 and -25.

I hate those questions. Not just because I have no real good idea, mind you, but because it's really subjective. Is your group experienced? How are they geared? How well do they play? It's really dependent on a lot of factors.

That being said, you should shoot for some basic values and go for certain pieces of gear. For that, I've put together a quick set of benchmarks based on gear that you can get from normal dungeons, quests, craftables and purchase. This is all gear that anyone with a small amount of money that should be able to obtain. I'll list it here; if you're wondering about the choices, keep in mind that this is bare minimum stuff. It's not the best, it's not even close.

But it should be fine for Naxx.

This assumes that you'll be MTing everything save patchwerk, which you'll OT.

In the 3.08 world, you should be shooting for at least 30k armor. Pre-308 this will be by necessity closer to 25k unless you've been able to get the offering of sacrifice or Enraged Feral staff. 25k is the bare minimum I'd want for Naxx.

For health, you should be shooting for close to 28k unbuffed. Get the polar gear made; it'll help a lot in this, and you'll likely use it later anyway. If you've got more armor, you can skimp on this some.

For avoidance, you should be around 30%. It's not perfect, but it's pretty close. This will really depend a lot on gear.

Hit and expertise aren't as crucial here. They can be skimped; assuming you're going in with similarly geared people, your threat should be more than adequate.

Here's the full list of stats and gear. Note that I didn't replace the rare gems with uncommon ones, but it should be fairly close. This comes directly from Rawr, and assumes 3.08 mechanics; pre-308 mechanics should favor more armor on the jewelry/trinket/cloak slots.

Finally, I would strongly recommend getting the Enraged Feral Staff as quickly as you can. This should be your first goal upon hitting 80, and not acquiring it will be pretty painful for Naxx.

Head Eviscerator's Facemask
Neck Torta's Oversized Choker
Shoulders Trollwoven Spaulders
Chest Polar Vest
Waist Trollwoven Girdle
Legs Mind-Expanding Leggings
Feet Jormscale Footpads
Wrist Drake-Champion's Bracers
Hands Handwraps of Preserved History
Finger1 Ring of Earthen Might
Finger2 Iceforged Battle Ring
Trinket1 Goblin Rocket Launcher
Trinket2 Scarab of Displacement
Back Durable Nerubhide Cape
MainHand Stave of Shrouded Mysteries
Ranged Idol of Terror
Tabard Tabard of the Ebon Blade
Shirt Master Builder's Shirt
ExtraWaistSocket Delicate Scarlet Ruby
Character: Felhoof@US-Quel'Dorei
Race: Tauren
Nature Resist: 10
Arcane Resist: 0
Frost Resist: 115
Fire Resist: 0
Shadow Resist: 0
Health: 28139
Agility: 706.2242
Armor: 31194.45
Stamina: 2054.28
Dodge Rating: 146
Defense Rating: 77
Resilience: 46
Dodge: 33.88317%
Miss: 5.014041%
Mitigation: 69.39375%
Avoidance PreDR: 41.46886%
Avoidance PostDR: 38.89721%
Total Mitigation: 81.29873%
Damage Taken: 18.70127%
Chance to be Crit: -2.166829%
Overall Points: 229566.4
Mitigation Points: 106944.6
Survival Points: 91938.74
Threat Points: 30683.1
Nature Survival: 28656.9
Frost Survival: 35521.48
Fire Survival: 28139
Shadow Survival: 28139
Arcane Survival: 28139
Strength: 346.62
Attack Power: 3886.265
Crit Rating: 97
Hit Rating: 41
Expertise Rating: 214
Haste Rating: 0
Armor Penetration Rating: 0
Missed Attacks: 11.47324%
Highest DPS Rotation: 1305 DPS, 2964 TPS
Highest TPS Rotation: 1247 DPS, 3068 TPS
Swipe Rotation: 208 DPS, 647 TPS
Custom Rotation: 0 DPS, 0 TPS
Melee: 492 Dmg, 1019 Threat
Maul: 1561 Dmg, 4111 Threat
Mangle: 891 Dmg, 1845 Threat
Swipe: 271 Dmg, 843 Threat
Faerie Fire: 195 Dmg, 1714 Threat
Lacerate: 75 Dmg, 1146 Threat
Lacerate DOT Tick: 735 Dmg, 762 Threat

[Druid] This just in: I am occasionally wrong (lacerate doesn't totally suck)

Thanks to Marino, I was shown that I was...wrong. And with math even, so it's not 'internet wrong'. It's just plain wrong.

My wife is laughing her ass off reading that sentence, by the way.

Using his ideas for a rotation and the published numbers I had for threat, he figured out (and I confirmed) that it is always better at any reasonable amount of AP/crit to keep up a lacerate stack for both maximum threat AND maximum damage. The threat gain is on the order of 5%, which is pretty good. It doesn't take into account the lacerate tax of having to do a bunch of lacerates early on in order to get the stack going, but that's not going to be huge in a longer fight.

The ideal rotation for a 36-second cycle (easier math) would be:
8 mangles (assuming imp mangle), 3 lacerates, 13 swipes, 14.4 mauls. You can substitute faerie fire for swipes in there as well if you want truly maximal threat. At 6250 AP, 40% crit and normal boss armor, we get 4344 TPS.

(if you're wondering why 6250 AP, it's because that's the number with normal raid boss armor reduction where swipe spam matches lacerate spam for threat).

For a cycle without lacerates and no lacerate stack, (so 16 swipes), we get 4090 TPS.

This holds true for AP up to 100,000 and above, in case you're wondering. It also holds true for 100% crit, as crazy as it sounds. The lacerate DOT is just that good.

What about a more reasonable, safe rotation that has a lacerate every 6 seconds instead of 12? That's still more - 4285 TPS. Not a huge loss.

Now, where it gets tricky is when you start considering how many lacerates it takes to keep up a stack. As you get better AP and crit, swipe starts overtaking certain numbers of lacerates. If you have to lacerate more than once every 6 seconds to keep the stack up, chances are that at higher levels of AP it won't be worth it. At really high levels of AP (we're talking post-WotLK levels) it takes one lacerate every 9 seconds to make it worth it.

So for optimal rotations, having lacerate in there is best. Fewer is better, but none is not ideal.

I think the next big mathy thing I'm going to do is figure out what the 'lacerate tax' costs you in threat vs swipe spam. The obvious view is that for shorter fights, getting a lacerate stack isn't worth it - but what is the cost of the lacerate stack falling off in longer fights? If you know for whatever reason that a lacerate stack will likely fall off (Malygos is an obvious one, but there are plenty of others), is it worth it to reapply the stack quickly? Slowly? This isn't the easiest answer to model.

Anyway, sorry that I was wrong. Thank you, Marino, for checking the math and asking the question. I always appreciate people doing that and callling me on it when I'm wrong, and I'm not so egotistical that I can't admit it.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

[Druid] The threat value of improved mangle

In an earlier post I talked briefly - hinted, really - at whether improved mangle is really all that now that swipe has been so significantly boosted. What I found out was pretty surprising to me.

Yes, I'm using the teaser trailer. Bear with me. :)

Pre swipe getting boosted, the best threat rotation for a bear was mangle, lacerate x 2, with a faerie fire thrown in whenever it was off cooldown or when it was applicable (stupid misery bug...). This meant that in an 18 second window, you would mangle 4 times and lacerate 7 times and faerie fire once (hopefully), along with 7.2 mauls. This would result in the following, assuming AP of around 5k, a crit rating of 40%, and the standard talents you'd find in most tanking builds:

Damage(mangle): 1644.7
Damage(Lacerate): 91.08
Damage(Maul): 2139
Damage(lacerate DOT): 815.1

Threat (mangle): 3406.9
Threat (swipe): 1578.763 (post 50% boost)
Threat (lacerate): 1162.154
Threat (maul): 5309.797
Threat(FF): 1933.057
Threat (Lacerate DOT): 844.21

4 mangle/7 lacerate rotation: 66991 threat, or 3721 TPS.

If you take out the improved mangle, you instead get a 3 mangle/8 lacerate rotation. Basically every 18 seconds you go to 65746 threat, or 3597 TPS. That's a loss of 124 TPS. That sounds substantial until you look at it as a percentage: it is only 3.35% of your total threat.

But that's not the rotation any more. The rotation for best TPS is now swiping whenever the cooldown is up and throwing in a faerie fire whenever the cooldown is up.

This assumes using the same 5000 AP and 40% crit from above.

Using the same methodology above, we have the following
4 mangle/7 swipe/1FF rotation: 64842 threat per 18 seconds, or 3602 TPS
3 mangle/8swipe/1FF rotation: 63014 threat per 18 seconds, or 3500 TPS
Net loss is 101 TPS, or only 2.8% total threat.

2.8% threat really isn't that big a deal in the long run. It essentially means that improved mangle is worth about 1% threat per talent point, which puts it ahead of master shapeshifter but behind rend & tear. The above is also the best case possible; it assumes you're mangling every time you can, that you're not using berserk (which helps the non-improved mangle case more), and it discounts rage/healing gains for threat.

The first surprise that you might have is that these numbers show that lacerate, not swipe, is the best threat. But...didn't I just say the opposite a couple weeks ago? Yep. The main reason is that that calculation assumed a 30% armor reduction, which is a bit unrealistic. 40% is closer to the mark. With that and a low-ish AP value (5k is pretty low for raiding tanks), lacerate wins out on threat. If you instead have 6k AP, swipe wins out again. So I was still just means that if you're on the lower end of gear, spamming swipe for threat is not as good as lacerating.

Okay, you ask, what about the best damage case? Since a lot of people seem to care how much damage a tank does, we'll go through with that. Using the same 5k AP/40% crit, the cycle for optimal damage is something like:

mangle whenever it's up
lacerate to keep the stack up (once every 12 seconds)

So in a 36-second cycle (we need it to be 36 seconds to fit in the lacerates), we have the following for max dps:
8 mangles
3 lacerates
13 swipes
14.4 mauls
+36 seconds of lacerate DOTs (12 ticks)

The damage for that is:
60624 damage, or 1684 DPS

For the same cycle without imp mangle, we'll have 6 mangles, 3 lacerates, 15 swipes, 14.4 mauls, and 12 ticks of lacerate. That damage is:
58351 damage, or 1620 DPS

The loss of DPS: 63.1, or 3.74%.

That was really surprising to me. It does mean that improved mangle is a really big bang for your buck in terms of overall damage - it's better than the 1% damage/talent point that the devs have stated is something of their goal, for instance - but it's not so big that you can't live without it. And do note that as AP increases, both the threat and DPS loss from imp mangle also increases. At (for example) 10k AP you're looking at a 3.9% DPS decrease and a 2.9% TPS decrease. Which isn't earthshattering, but it is something to note.

To me, this solidifies what I've been leaning towards for a while: improved mangle is a nice-to-have but hardly an essential talent. And it's one I'm going to drop, in favor of picking up more cat-friendly talents.

Curious about my numbers? The spreadsheet I used is over at google. The numbers were from EJ's feral values here and here.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

[General] Prepping for patch 3.0.8

3.0.8 is upon us!

Or maybe next week!

3.0.8 isn't a full content patch, but it might as well be for all the changes to the various classes. And no one, mechanically, is changed quite so much as the feral druid this time around. I've reviewed many of these changes before in different posts, so for avid readers a lot of this will be happy and redundant - but it's always nice to have this stuff in one place, no?

Mechanics changes
  1. Feral armor in bear form (and moonkin, if you really care) is changing significantly. All bonus armor on leather and cloth and all armor on rings, trinkets, amulets and weapons will not receive any armor multipliers from Dire Bear form, survival of the fittest or thick hide. This means only base armor on leather and on cloaks will be multiplied. To compensate for this, survival of the fittest will be giving a 22/44/66% bonus to armor, making the final bear armor multplier be 8.58. This has the following big consequences:- - - most bears without armor trinkets or with not optimal gear will see their armor improve significantly
    - well-geared bears will see their armor decrease
    - the ilvl of the leather armor matters more (but not too amazingly; we're talking about 8-10 armor points per item)
    - Defender's code is no longer an 'always wear' trinket but instead should be worn situationally for hard hitting bosses; Offering of Sacrifice, Badge of Tenacity and any other marginal armor trinkets are now not worth investing in or wearing.
    - Darkmoon Card:Greatness, Valor Medal of the First War and Essence of Gossamer (among others) becomes far more valuable and usable
    - Most rings, amulets, weapons and cloaks with extra armor remain best in slot, though some dodge-heavy items and some agility-heavy items become more usable

    Actions before the patch
    : start saving up for that Darkmoon card! Also stop killing yourself running Gun'Drak and instead kill yourself running Azjol-Nerub.
    Actions after the patch: switch out your Defender's code for most bosses (Patchwerk and enraged Faerlina are the only ones I can think of that hit so hard you'd want it) and be on the lookout for sidegrades.

  2. Druids can train polearms!
    - The trainer is in Stormwind/Undercity

    Actions before the patch: see if you can get a Black Ice if you don't already have Journey's End. It drops from Malygos Normal, and it's a great kitty
    Actions after the patch: train polearms and start rolling on hunter loot!

  3. Feral Attack Power is no longer something on items specifically. Any weapon that a druid can use will have its DPS converted to Feral Attack Power when a druid looks at it automatically.
    - 2-handed maces, polearms, and feral staves all are viable weapons for cats!
    - no real changes for bears though - the high armor and stamina on the tanking staves (Origin of Nightmares, Enraged Feral Staff, Staff of the Plague Beast) stay superior
    - Inevitable Defeat is really really nice for cats - but not as nice as Black Ice
    Actions before the patch: see if you can get an Inevitable Defeat (if you don't have Journey's End or Black Ice)
    Actions after the patch: start rolling on even more hunter loot!

  4. Cats will be getting swipe!
    - it will cost 50 energy, never provide combo points and is affected by all talents that affect swipe
    - This isn't as awesome as it sounds; 50 energy (even berserked) is pretty expensive, and unlike bears you aren't likely to be able to infinitely swipe multiple mobs, since you don't get energy back on crits
    Actions before the patch: nothing special.
    Actions after the patch: First, go train this. You might consider respecing if you're primarily cat to get the swipe bonus buffs, but I doubt you should; it's really not that great. Make sure you have savage roar up before swiping in any case. Ideally you'd have savage roar up, then tiger's fury to 100 energy, then berserk for maximum damage - but those ideal states don't happen often.

  5. Mangle will do less damage/threat. This was due to a bug in how savage fury multiplied mangle. Mangle will do about 15% less now. Rake, however, should do significantly more.
    Actions before the patch: enjoy manglespam and berserking threat.
    Actions after the patch: possibly respec to get better cat dps if you're a bear, and start using swipe more. Also, this will mean that swipe will be pretty competitive with mangle in terms of threat; it may be worth it to pull the three points out of imp mangle and move them elsewhere. I'll do more math on this later :)
Gear changes
  1. The 4pT7 bonus also will reduce Tiger's Fury's cooldown by 3 seconds.
    - This is about a 2% DPS increase without taking into account anything else
    - This is probably not worth missing out on the superior other items that you can get in various slots
    - Still, it's nice to have
    Actions before & after the patch: depending on your gear, consider buying more T7 loot, but don't kill yourself doing it.

  2. Handwraps of Preserved History are going from best in slot to nice, but meh
    Actions before the patch: have some badges ready to buy the T7.10 gloves, or roll on the T7.25 gloves, or get some deadly/hateful gloves
    Actions after the patch: start using those new gloves.

  3. The Wintergrasp vendor will be selling a nice pair of Hateful boots and a good Hateful head
    Actions before the patch: run wintergrasp as much as you can until you've saved up enough shards for it
    Actions after the patch: if you need a decent starting helm/feet, these are good. Especially the helm.

  4. A new +50 stamina enchant to weapons is coming out for a ridiculously expensive cost! The cost will be (currently) 4 dream shards and a bar of titansteel, which isn't so bad - but the cost of the enchantment itself is 5 abyss crystals. Ouch.
    Actions before the patch: save up on enchanting materials
    Actions after the patch: go get Mongoose! Mongoose comes out to be about 42 agility, which is almost always better than 50 stamina. The sole exception I can think of is Sarth3D right now, but it's probably not worth getting a second weapon and enchanting it just for that.

  5. Inks of the Sea can be used to buy snowfall inks
    Actions before the patch: buy up ink of the sea for cheap if you can and you've not already gotten your DM:G

    Actions after the patch: cash in on those snowfall inks and get yourself some darkmoon cards

  6. Leatherworking patches will require a frozen orb in addition to the current mats
    Actions before the patch: if you're a non-leatherworker, buying a couple patches now is a good idea. If you're a leatherworker, making a few patches now is a good idea.
    Actions after the patch: if you're a leatherworker, selling those patches you made is a really good idea :)

  7. Emblems of Valor can be turned in for Emblems of Heroism
    Actions before & after the patch: I honestly don't know why you'd want to do it, but at least you can do it. Maybe for Mirror of Truth? There just aren't that many things outside of the chest/gloves that I'd want as a bear or a cat from emblems of heroism.

  8. Strength is being removed from all 2H staves to make it nicer for hunters
    Actions before the patch: if you're a bear, pass that Journey's End to the hunter since it's best in slot for 'em
    and it's offspec for you. If you're a cat and a hunter wants to roll on it, beat them with a tire iron.
    Actions after the patch: watch hunters start rolling on druid loot! (or if you're like my guild, cry yourself to sleep a bit as two hunters have already gotten it)

  9. For you stamina freaks, Greater Inscription of the Gladiator (30 stam to shoulders) is being added for 10k honor
    Actions before the patch: start getting that honor
    Actions after the patch: for Sarth3D (or if you're lazy with Hodir rep) this might be a good alternative shoulder enchant. Otherwise, stick with the Hodir dailies.
There are of course a lot of other changes, but those were the ones I felt were most relevant for everyone. Make sure to check out the profession changes in particular - there are a ton of changes there that may make you happy.

Monday, January 12, 2009

[General]Where's the friggin bear (and debuffs)

Sorry that I've not written more. The big reason is that I've started a new job, and my time is much more limited than it was in the past. The secondary reason is that...well, there's not been a ton of things I want to write about.

A lot of the questions I've been receiving recently have to do with some of the new changes coming in 3.0.8 for druids, and I think I'll do a summary in a bit to catch people up. I'll also do an update to the Bear/Cat FAQs. The gear lists are largely correct (Polearms are not listed on bears, but they all suck anyway). If there are specific bits of info that people would like, this would be a good time to put in a request. :) I'd also like to share how our raiding guild works a bit, but that may take a bit more time.

On a personal anecdote, one of the most embarrassing things I've ever done in WoW happened the other night. We were doing a 10-man Naxx, and I'm bored. We have 3 healers available but we also had quite a few newer players, so I went with two healers to try and get as many people chances at gear as possible. I also went cat, because I wanted to try my hand at DPS. (short answer: it's HARD).

On Faerlina, we're doing it with me tanking the adds, the other tank on the boss. We had planned on doing it with the enrage up. I switch my gear using ItemRack from DPS to Tank. This is the first time I've ever tanked the adds, but I'm finding that it's really hard for me to pull the adds off of the main tank; my swipe is only hitting for 200 or so, my threat is horrible. It takes quite a few mangles per add to pull it off. In addition, I'm taking a lot of damage - I'm getting the low health warning all the time. My base health is ridiculously low. Our tank dies on the second enrage, I pick up Faerlina and die almost immediately. Wipe city. One of the healers asks on vent "Why does Felhoof have 14k health?".

Our MT immediately replies "debuffs".

I release and go to repair..and my repair cost is miniscule. And...I'm naked.

Seems that in itemrack, I had made another option for a gear switch. The 'naked' gear switch (for wipes and experimenting with jumping off of big-ass cliffs - and Oculus, if you've ever done that) And...I cloned it from my tanking gear choice, which meant that it had the exact same icon that my tanking set had. So...I just tanked a bunch of crap totally nude.

My wife, upon hearing this, laughed for about 5 minutes straight. The MT was similarly amused.

Debuffs indeed. More like buff.

I'm really, really tempted to see how much I can tank naked now. Naxx is probably a bit out of reach, but a normal 80 instance should be doable. Probably a heroic too, if I used CC.