Monday, March 30, 2009

[General] ToggleOnNextStrike (Maul/HS)

In an earlier post I mentioned that Sarf of Elitist Jerks was working on an addon that can automatically toggle your macros with maul (or heroic strike, or rune strike).

Well, here it is.

It isn't the most user friendly thing in the world, so I'll talk through it a bit.

The trigger is /tons. What you'll want to do is have a macro for each attack you want. Unlike before, you can have your macro be fairly in-depth and big, too - so #showtooltip, modifier tags, whatever all work here.

To add them to be toggled, do /tons addmacro {macroname}, where {macroname} is the name of the macro you'd like to toggle. Do this for each one.

To add maul or remove maul from those, simply do /tons toggle.

Now, here's the cool thing about this - it works for all the tanking classes. It works for DKs and druids and warriors, and will add the appropriate ability depending on the class you are.

It's fairly new, and I'm sure isn't quite tweaked out - but it does a lot of nice things that I like. Check it out if you're tired of spamming your maul button. One thing I'll try and add is the ability to customize what is toggled so that instead of adding/removing maul, it adds a [modifier:shift] maul or [nomodifier] maul depending, so you can use it in a pinch.

[Druid, 3.1] the state of druid testing on the PTR, 03/30

While raiding is out, and while substantial play is out, I can at least do some small amount of PTR testing. So, this week's (well, two week's) testing results

  • Savage Defense now procs on Lacerate crits. It also procs on Rip crits. So if for whatever reason you have a rip up on a target then switch to Bear, SD will proc on those too.
  • Savage Defense still only works on bear form.
  • Savage Defense still has weird issues with timing. It can proc .5 seconds after an actual crit, and still appears to be overwriting itself now and then. I need to test this more conclusively.
  • Swipe's radius has been greatly increased. It feels much more like the old swipe did in terms of radius. And yes, swipefarting still works great. In fact, with a bit of lag you can get really stupid looking chains of people taking damage and following you around.
  • The T8 2p and 4p bonus is still the same as was listed before. This is still really awesome for cats and still really crap for bears.
  • Swipe (cat) does not have a 360 radius.
  • Thorns now uses your spellpower/bonuses instead of your target's. This means having a macro that switches you into your spellpower gear to cast thorns first will help some, though it's very annoying. It also makes a moonkin's thorns (assuming they have brambles) exceptionally potent - 420 damage/hit is pretty decent.
  • Rake no longer crits with Primal Gore. Balancing for cat DPS, of course.
  • The Glyph of Savage Roar is reduced to 3%. Again, cat DPS balance.
  • Glyph of Survival Instincts is ass. Just an opinion, but getting 10% more health from SI is really not what bears need. 40% more health for 28 seconds sounds awesome, but how much does that actually help things when you have one healer on you who can't cast most of their spells? That's the hard modes for you, and that's where it fails. (sorry, just an opinion piece.)
Anything else you'd like me to test out?

Monday, March 23, 2009

[Offtopic] Phat lewts

I got the best drop of all on Friday, March 20th.

Alaric James was born. He was 7 lbs, 20" and perfectly healthy, as is his mom. Everyone's doing great.

So if I don't blog much or answer questions all that quickly - you'll know why. I won't be raiding a whole lot in the upcoming months either, so...this is sort of a hiatus for the blog. I'll occasionally make the random mathematical post and I'll try and do the Ulduar gear list. No promises though.
Thanks to all for your well-wishes. :)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

[Druid, 3.1] PTR fun - idol & T8!

I'm going to go with mini posts, apparently. They're easier to digest. :)

The T8 gear is out on the PTR. For both 10 man and 25 man. There's also a new idol of terror that drops from General Vezax (the 3rd to last boss in Ulduar) in 25-man only:

Druid T8 Feral Relic -- Your Mangle ability has a chance to grant 153 agility for 12 sec.

That's just a direct upgrade from Idol of Terror, and that's awesome...but it's a drop? And only from 25 man? Ugh. Maybe it'll be BoE or something. Yeah, right.

Onto the T8. The set bonuses are at best very lackluster for tanking. Clearcasting procs on bleeds are not particularly important for bears given bear rage generation normally. And 8 seconds of extra time on a 5-minute cooldown is not particularly interesting either, especially given how you would normally use 30% extra health. 30% extra health for 28 seconds sounds like a lot - but when do you actually use it for that whole length of time? It's very disappointing.

What isn't disappointing is the actual overall values of the T8 gear compared to the T7. In what's going to be screamed about for a bit, the T8 bonus is best for cats but the gear itself is likely much better for bears overall because of stat allocation. Here's the comparison between the full T7 and full T8:

Agi: +93
Stam: +64
AP: -22
crit: +11
hit: +49
haste: +46
armor pen: +15
Expertise: -34

Yeah, 93 extra agi for the whole set, not counting socket bonuses (which in two cases are on red sockets and are a total of +14 agi too). That's a big gain in overall value. AP has been itemized so much less that it's actually worse than T7. Small amounts of crit and armor pen. A bit more haste than I'd like. And less expertise, which is probably good given how easy it is to get expertise.

Just great stats for bears.

For cats? Not so much. The expertise loss is welcome, but not much crit doesn't help. Hit is nice to see, and more agi over stam is good - but my suspicion is that it'll be easier to get those non-set pieces for cats and get better stats.

If of course the set bonuses could be ignored, which they really can't. Sigh.

What's interesting is that the new T8.10 set follows this pattern almost more (compared to T7.25)
agi: 58
stam: 25
armor: 24
AP: -68
crit: -9
hit: 45
haste: 39
armor pen: 8
expertise: -38

Again, a huge bump in Agi compared to all other stats, way less AP, less expertise, less crit, and a good chunk of hit. The T8.10 chest is going to be quite good just for that big hit bonus, as will the T8.25 chest.

What's really interesting to me is comparing T8.10 to T8.25:

agi: 35
stam: 39
armor: 26
AP: 46
crit: 20
armor pen: 7

That's right - the item budget is almost entirely devoted to stat boosts. That's one reason that the T8.25 is going to be so good for bears from a gear perspective - the stats on them are insane.

As always, I'll do a more exhaustive analysis of what to look for when we get better ideas of loot tables and whatnot.

[General]Toggling Maul part 2 - making a better toggle

Some really nice discussion about the maul macro talked about yesterday. Instead of answering in that post some of the questions that came up, I figured it'd be easier to talk more about it in another post.

First off, you can remove the "if not InCombatLockdown() then...end" part of the macro. That gets you a ton of extra characters, which allows you to do something like this instead:

/run local i=GetMacroIndexByName ("Ma") local mt=GetMacroBody(i) local a=strlen(mt) local v="/cast Mangle" if a < 15 then mt=v.."\n/cast [nomodifier]!Maul" else mt=v end local n,t,_,l=GetMacroInfo(i) EditMacro(i,n,t,mt,l,1)

This will change the mangle to do a mangle in one case, or do a mangle/maul in the other case as long as you don't hold down a modifier key (alt, shift, ctrl). Which might be nice for finer grained control.

Next, thanks to reader Pockie I figured out how to make this a one-button toggle. Though it's a bit involved. Here are the steps (and this should answer your question, secretagentcat)

First, make three macros for your basic attacks: Mangle (Ma), Lacerate (La) and swipe (Sw).
Next, make modifier toggle macros for those three attacks like the ones above. Put them on a bar that is hidden normally.
Next, use another macro to determine what the name of that button is in the WoW UI world. The macro for this is:

/run local f = GetMouseFocus(); if f then DEFAULT_CHAT_FRAME:AddMessage(f:GetName()) end
Bind this to a button with a keypress for now.
Then, hover over one of the three toggle macros and use the macro above. You should see something like "BTBar4Button28" in your chat window. Do that for all three toggle macros.
Finally, write a macro called 'toggle' that looks like this:

/click BTBar4Button28
/click BTBar4Button29
/click BTBar4Button30
Where the BTBar4Button28-30 are the text strings that appeared in your chat window. And bind that to a key. Now you can hide the bar with the three separate toggles and toggle everything with one key while having only 4 visible buttons. Of course, this doesn't work all that well if you have a shortage of bars or don't have hideable bars.

An alternative (as Pockie suggests) is to do something like this:

An alternative would be to have your 3 ability macros have a line "/click MaulButton" instead of "/cast !Maul". MaulButton will be a macro that simply consists of "/cast !Maul", and it's hidden somewhere on your bars. You then have a toggle macro on your main bars that will modify the MaulButton macro to "//cast !Maul". The end result is that you only use up 2 buttons (1 visible 1 hidden).
I like that idea too, though it's not for me personally; I like being able to do it for each type of attack potentially. The big advantage of this is that it allows for a lot of text in that /cast !maul macro, at least in theory. You could easily toggle between it doing /cast [modifier:shift] !maul and /cast [nomodifier] !maul, which might be nice.

If this is daunting to you, don't worry about it too much. There should be an addon soon that fixes this a bit and allows for a lot more complex and maintainable using of this type of feature, and it'll come out soon. At least hopefully.

Nav does what a lot of people out there - he has a castsequence macro and spams it and his maul button. Astrylian (of Rawr fame) had a one-button tanking macro that was good for 95% of all encounters. It was basically mangle, lacerate, swipe with the ability to override in certain circumstances (like on berserk) and did auto-mauling except on overrides. I tried that for a while, but it felt really uncontrolled and awkward. But it was at least one button. I would strongly recommend macroing maul into the basic attacks if you can, though; the difference between spamming one and two buttons is night and day, especially when doing things like moving while doing so.

Felkan asked about the ! in front of maul. I think that they've actually turned off the ability to 'toggle' maul, but it was put in there as a precaution. I've honestly not tested it much to see whether or not the toggle works. My experience is that it doesn't matter, but only actual testing would know for certain. I do know that pressing maul multiple times will turn off the highlighting on the button - but that doesn't seem to affect the actual next cast of maul.

Saroosh asked about extra macro slots in 3.1. And sadly the answer is no - you have only the normal set of macros. Ugh. Again, an addon would help this tremendously.

SecretAgentCat also asked about if you could modify a macro so that it would target different things at various parts of the fight and allow you to spam it. And the answer is no - at least not like this does. You can't modify the text of a macro during combat. Additionally, you can't do a castsequence either for targets; only actual casts works for this. Still, you probably can get away with doing something like this for your specific needs:

/tar Shad
/tar Vesp
/cast Growl
/cast Faerie Fire (feral)
/tar Shad
/tar Teneb
If Tenebron and Shadron are up, it will first target Shad, then fail to target Vesperon (since he's not around), then growl, faerie fire, target Shadron again, then target Tenebron, ending up on Tenebron. If Shadron and Vesperon are up, it'll target Shadron, then target Vesperon, growl and faerie fire Vesperon, target Shadron again and then fail to target Tenebron (since he's not around), ending up on Shadron. I think that's what you want it to do. Alternately, you can do tricky things with setting your focus and then reseting it, but I don't think it's really necessary for something specific like this.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

[General]Toggling Maul/HS

One of the bigger headaches I've had is having to queue up maul while doing attacks. Maul is a huge part of the bear threat component - over 60% - so it's required when doing most tanking duties assuming you have enough rage. But it's not really useful to just press it separately from the other attacks. Most of the time I maul/swipe, maul/lacerate, and maul/mangle.

Except, of course, when I don't. When I absolutely need to not do this for whatever reason, such as me not wanting to do a lot of threat. In that case, most of the time I don't want to use maul at all, or I'll want to use it selectively.

I could add the following to make sure that I cast maul whenever I cast an attack:
/cast !maul
The exclamation is there to make sure you don't toggle it off if it's already on, so you can spam it. But then, I don't get the choice of doing maul or not. It'll always maul.

Okay, I can add modifiers:
/cast [modifier:shift] !maul
/cast [nomodifier] !maul
But then I have to hold down a shift key while spamming the button anyway, which still involves two buttons. Bleh. Or hold down a button when I don't want to use it. Again, bleh.

What I'd like is to turn maul off for a duration of a fight, if I want. So that for some fight I could just maul to my heart's content, but for another I could choose to do it if I wanted. The problem here is that there's no capslock type of system. I can't just press a button and have it 'held' without programmable keyboards. What to do?

Well, if you're sarf from EJ, you hack the bastard instead and you write a macro that rewrites another macro. Which is a brilliant idea. I had to modify his initial crack at it and mine's not nearly as elegant, but it does work.
/run if not InCombatLockdown() then local i=GetMacroIndexByName ("Ma") local mt=GetMacroBody(i) local a=strlen(mt) local v="/cast Mangle" if a < 15 then mt=v.."\n/cast !Maul" else mt=v end local n,t,_,l=GetMacroInfo(i) EditMacro(i,n,t,mt,l,1) end

With the other macro called 'Ma' being this:
/cast mangle

What this does is the following:
  • checks to see whether you're in combat. (you can't modify macros in combat).
  • Gets the macro that's called 'Ma'. This looks for a macro called Ma and grabs info about it. It's important that you have this macro already.
  • gets the length of that macro
  • if the length is smaller than the extended version, make the macro's text be:
    /cast Mangle
    /cast !Maul
  • Otherwise, make it be:
    /cast Mangle
  • Then edit the macro 'Ma' to say whatever you said above.
That means that if you press this macro, it'll change your 'Ma' macro to either be with or without maul. And it'll stay that way for as long as you don't change it back.

Then, I had three sets of macros (Ma, La and Sw) and set up an associated modifier macro to change them for mangle, lacerate and swipe. So I can toggle all three of these abilities as I need to. Just change the parts above in bold from Ma and Mangle to La and Lacerate or Sw and Swipe. It's a total of 6 macros, which is not great. But it does work for exactly what I want it.

In practice I don't find myself toggling them all that much. For more threat-sensitive fights, I'll likely take lacerate off the automaul but not swipe and mangle. If it's imperative that I don't maul at all or I only maul when it's safe because of CC, I can take them all off and do it manually as before.

Sarf has said that if there's interest, he'd clean it up and make an addon that could toggle these things more easily and get around the 255 character limit, which would be ideal. But even so, this removes about half of the keystrokes I use normally, and makes me a happy druid. I don't know whether this will work precisely as well for warriors given that their swing speed is close to their GCD speed, but it might help some.

[Druid]Oh yeah, swipe!

I guess I didn't make any announcement or OMG on how they've changed swipe. Heh. Oops.

So yeah, they're changing swipe to have no target requirement and hit everything in an 8-yard range around the druid. It's neat. It's much like playing my pally in TBC was in terms of feel. You always want to reposition yourself, clearly - but now you don't have to immediately, which makes your threat a lot more consistent and your pulls less prone to random mobs wandering off.

The animation hasn't changed a bit, so it still looks like you're just swiping the thing in front of you. I desperately hope for some kind of bear whirlwind when swipe happens.

Swipefarting is damn, damn fun. Basically, instead of kiting mobs by aggroing them, turning around, swiping, turning back and running again, you just run past, swipe, and swipe as you're running. Swipe swipe swipe every 1.5 seconds, and the mobs never run away from you ever again. You might occasionally have to slow down to hit more, but it's not that hard. And with Savage Defense not having positional requirements, you can actually block attacks while swipefarting.

It's bugged right now, of course, and only effects things in a less than 5 yard range. Even with that limitation, the ability to swipe things without targeting them is a huge boon for me. I have onmouseover macros for my FFF, charge and taunt, but it's still very nice to be able to actually target them so that I can charge them and then hit them, for example.

Doesn't work in cat form as far as I can tell. It still requires a target and still requires a cone. I'll test it more thoroughly though.

I do miss not having more fine-grained control of AoE, but not so much that I'll complain. It makes one headache less headachy. I still don't want to spam things as much, but with the maul toggle macro (more on that later today) it's not nearly as much a headache. It does feel less skillful though, which is amusing given some of my earliest posts on Karthis' blog. I still don't think that it's that crucial that they remove the skill components or not, but I also think that having one big AoE "I win" button is a bit lazy and not particularly fun. It's interesting to know how to use a cone effect vs. a 360 one. It's not that interesting to have only one tool without significant limitations. Better tanks will still be more situationally aware, know how to build threat on multiple mobs better, break CC less, do cleaner pulls, use cooldowns more wisely, gear better and do more damage - but now swipe is an Easy button, and it's slightly poorer for it.

But hey, I can swipefart. So it's all good.

What do y'all think about the new swipe?

Monday, March 16, 2009

[Druid] the state of druid testing on the PTR, 03/16

First off - thanks to everyone who replied on the Pimp my UI post with suggestions. I've spent the last three days playing around with things, and I'm almost done tinkering, I think. And it's a huge improvement; things are far less cluttered, it's easier to find stuff and overall the UI is much improved and organized. I should be able to show people the results tomorrow or so. The last step is to get rid of Xperl...and that might be painful.

I figure that there's enough interest in how Savage Defense is doing each week that I'll make a post on my weekly testing of it and indicate what, if anything, has changed or not. If you do have requests for testing specific things, please post! I can't guarantee that I'll be able to test something - I don't have infinite resources or a raid group always handy. But I'll do my best.

This week's testing results:
  • Druids do appear to get full rage on a hit on them when Savage Defense absorbs an attack. This is hard to conclusively test, but in all the cases that I tested it, it worked. My methodology was to face away from a mob and swipe it until I got a proc, then stopped attacking. In each case the next attack that hit me (which was almost always all of them, since I couldn't dodge) gave me rage and was absorbed.
  • Savage Defense does proc off of crits on critters. Poor, poor spiders are going to be even more mauled now.
  • Savage Defense still procs off of the new untargeting swipe attacks. Just in case you were wondering.
  • Savage Defense does not appear to have anything to do with client-side latency. Both a person with high latency and low latency can trigger up to a .5 second delay from a crit and the SD proc. It appears to be entirely on the server side.
  • Swipe still triggers 'chance on hit' procs. Mongoose still going off all the time when doing AoE.
  • Savage Defense still can absorb multiple attacks with a single proc. Nope, still not fixed. And chances are, won't be.
  • Savage Defense still overwrites itself some times and does not produce a shield. This is still the most critical bug I can think of involving SD. And it's still not fixed.
  • Swipe has a serious range bug right now. Swipe's range used to be about 10 yards since it could 'chain', similar to the mechanics of avenger's shield. Now, it barely hits anyone in melee range. This is apparently a bug and will be fixed. (ETA: the blue response was this:
    The correct range for the new, 360 Swipe should be 8 yards. It appears to only be 5 in your version of the data.
  • Swipe is now insanely good for kiting mobs. Before, if you wanted to kite a bunch of mobs you'd have to run, turn around, swipe, spin back and run some more. Now? Just run at mobs, swipe them as you run past them, and keep swiping as you run. You hit most everyone and they stick to you like glue. Stratholme was never more fun.
I think that's it for the testing I've done. I'll make a similar post next Monday. As always, please post what you're interested in seeing for testing. Or really, make suggestions on posts in general. I can't guarantee that I'll post about what you're asking, but I'll definitely consider it.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

[Offtopic]Pimp My UI

A reader asked a while back if I'd share my UI. This was...well, it was akin to bringing home a date when I used to live in a friend's storage closet. It was a 8x8 room with no heat, no light, and right next to the Bathroom of Horror.

The UI...not so great.

But hey, I'll show it and then ask folks for input.

Sarth3D 10

From the top of the screen to the bottom:

Omen is in the upper left.
Mappy is used for the square map, and is in the upper right.
Decursive and Ora2 are the two things below Omen.
DBM generates the cooldowns at the top of the HUD.
IceHUD is what I use for my HUD; it's nice for showing combo points and energy in an easy way.
SCT is used to generate the text that wraps around my HUD. And as you can see in this shot, it would be nice to move the crit values away as well since I don't often care that I just got a big critical heal.
QBar is floating just above my raid frames. It's a mod that automatically adds quest items to a button for easy use. And it should move somewhere else.
Carbonite is hiding behind Recount, and is a great quest addon.
I use CT_Viewport for the view space mod that creates the black space at the bottom. This is oddly one of my most essential mods at this point. Having more actual screen space is critical.
Bartender is used for the bars.
XPerl is my raid and unit frame system. I have my character in the center, and my target and target-of-target close to the center. (and the debuffs are out of control, I know).
I use quartz to track debuffs that I use on the boss. I probably should use tellmewhen for this, but I didn't like how it tracked infected wounds.
Prat is the chat addon that displays things a bit more nicely.

In addition to all of that, I use CameraDistanceMaxFactor 5 to be zoomed WAAAAY out. I also use TellMeWhen to track my stuff when I'm in cat; this is clearly not here.

For the most part the UI is pretty functional. The raidframes take up all the space on the left side normally in a full raid; this was from my first Sarth3D 10 man kill, so there's only 10. The center of the screen displays a lot of information but is mostly uncluttered to actually see things. Only the corners are particularly obscured by information. Most of the screen is otherwise clear.

Things I absolutely hate, now that I'm looking at it while not playing:
  1. Not having a widescreen monitor. Seriously, I fail. It's a great monitor that I love, but a widescreen would be awesome.
  2. The empty space for the raid frames. I don't often use my raidframes anyway (mostly for brez/innervate and thorn use), and having that much wasted space is bugging me.
  3. The Omen/Recount space is large and ugly, and not well integrated into the whole thing.
  4. The debuffs on xperl are going nuts. I want to display important ones (like stacks on 4h) but this is ridiculous. And the debuffs on the boss are insane and spilling into the buttons.
  5. The quartz timers aren't useful. TellMeWhen (like Marino pointed out) would likely be better and more intuitive. And they're just...kinda sitting out there.
  6. The chat window is huge. I don't need to be able to read every string on one line.

So with those as my goals - what are y'alls suggestions? What can I look into to fix? Here are some constraints: I almost certainly am not going to switch out of xperl or bartender. Everything else is fair game.


Saturday, March 7, 2009

[Druid] Savage Defense on the PTR

Savage defense has finally made it to the PTR. I got to test it a little bit tonight. Nothing insane, but at least stuff that lets us do some basic theorycrafting about it.

It's learnable at the trainer. It requires no talent points.

It has no internal cooldown that I could find. It would proc on any crit, and it would proc after pretty much every swipe on large enough pulls.

It has a 10-second uptime (or until it's used).

SD procs after you already have an SD will refresh the timer, but will not stack. Or, basically, the new proc overwrites the old one. (This is important for later stuff)

And yeah, the buff icon looks unlike the actual skill icon, and looks like frenzied regeneration.

The graphic and animation is that you stand up and get a little reddish bubble in the middle of you. SD looks a lot like an enrage effect in that respect, and it's very easy to miss the bubble. The bubble is basically entirely contained inside of you. I think. In any case, it's not a big graphic, and you're not running around in a super simian sphere.
It does not proc on DoT effects when they crit.
It does proc on the application of DoTs, however - like the first attack of lacerate.
It does not proc on faerie fire.

It does appear to have similar issues to spell reflect, in that multiple attacks can be absorbed by one shield if they happen close enough to each other:
01:48'05.625 Feltest gains 3 Rage from Natural Reaction.
01:48'05.625 Feltest gains Savage Defense.
01:48'05.625 Feltest's Savage Defense is refreshed.
01:48'05.641 Feltest's Savage Defense is refreshed.
01:48'05.641 Feltest's Savage Defense is refreshed.
01:48'05.641 Feltest gains Reflection of Torment.
01:48'05.641 Feltest's Savage Defense is refreshed.
01:48'05.641 Feltest gains 3 Rage from Natural Reaction.
01:48'05.672 Demon Hunter Supplicant #79 attack was absorbed by Feltest. 01:48'05.672 Demon Hunter Supplicant #59 attack was absorbed by Feltest.

The big one for me: it is heavily affected by latency, as far as I can tell, and still has significant bugs. Not that that's a surprise, but keep them in mind. I'd often see a SD proc happen a second or so after actually critting a mob - even after the LotP proc that would trigger. In my testing above, I also came across parts where the log said I'd gain SD but the shield would not absorb anything. I think this is due to it breaking when facing significant amounts of mobs (I was pulling supplicants at BT as a test). Here's an example:

01:48'02.812 Feltest gains 3 Rage from Natural Reaction.
01:48'02.812 Feltest Swipe hits Demon Hunter Supplicant #56 for 911 Physical. (Critical)
01:48'02.812 Feltest Swipe hits Demon Hunter Supplicant #68 for 911 Physical. (Critical)
01:48'02.828 Feltest Swipe hits Demon Hunter Supplicant #60 for 442 Physical.
01:48'02.844 Feltest Swipe hits Netharel #2 for 443 Physical.
01:48'02.844 Feltest Swipe hits Demon Hunter Supplicant #59 for 911 Physical. (Critical)
01:48'02.844 Feltest Swipe hits Demon Hunter Supplicant #58 for 911 Physical. (Critical)
01:48'02.844 Feltest Swipe hits Demon Hunter Supplicant #69 for 442 Physical.
01:48'02.844 Feltest Swipe hits Demon Hunter Supplicant #66 for 442 Physical.
01:48'02.844 Feltest Swipe hits Demon Hunter Supplicant #70 for 443 Physical.
(at this point, I should receive a SD proc)
01:48'02.875 Demon Hunter Supplicant #70 melee swing hits Feltest for 72 Physical.
(and naturally I don't, and get hit anyway)
01:48'02.922 Demon Hunter Supplicant #79 attack was dodged by Feltest.
01:48'03.172 Demon Hunter Supplicant #66 attack was dodged by Feltest.
01:48'03.187 Netharel #2 attack was dodged by Feltest.
01:48'03.187 Netharel #2 attack was dodged by Feltest.
01:48'03.203 Demon Hunter Supplicant #68 died.
01:48'03.203 Demon Hunter Supplicant #60 died.
01:48'03.203 Demon Hunter Supplicant #58 died.
01:48'03.203 Feltest gains 3 Rage from Natural Reaction.
01:48'03.203 Feltest gains Savage Defense.
01:48'03.219 Feltest's Savage Defense is refreshed.
01:48'03.219 Feltest's Savage Defense is refreshed.
01:48'03.219 Feltest's Savage Defense is refreshed.
(now I gain the SD proc - and it's refreshed multiple times. Presumably because I got a total of 4 crits, and each crit separately can make an SD proc - and they all overwrite each other).
01:48'03.250 Demon Hunter Supplicant #55 attack was dodged by Feltest.
01:48'03.250 Demon Hunter Supplicant #55 attack misses Feltest.
01:48'03.578 Feltest melee swing hits Demon Hunter Supplicant #55 for 825 Physical.
01:48'03.578 Demon Hunter Supplicant #70 attack was dodged by Feltest.
01:48'03.609 Demon Hunter Supplicant #66 gains Evasion.
01:48'03.609 Feltest gains 5 Rage from Primal Fury.
01:48'03.625 Feltest gains 5 Rage from Primal Fury.
01:48'03.625 Feltest gains 5 Rage from Primal Fury.
01:48'03.625 Feltest gains 5 Rage from Primal Fury.
01:48'03.625 Feltest gains 3 Rage from Natural Reaction.
01:48'03.625 Feltest gains 3 Rage from Natural Reaction.
01:48'03.625 Feltest gains 3 Rage from Natural Reaction.
01:48'03.625 Feltest gains 3 Rage from Natural Reaction.
01:48'03.656 Demon Hunter Supplicant #79 melee swing hits Feltest for 81 Physical.
(this is where I should have used the shield. I did not).
01:48'03.656 Demon Hunter Supplicant #59 attack misses Feltest.
01:48'03.656 Demon Hunter Supplicant #69 attack misses Feltest.
01:48'03.875 Demon Hunter Supplicant #80 attack misses Feltest.

More testing is required, of course, but my suspicion is that the multiple 'refreshes' confuses the system and causes you to effectively lose your shield. I also think it's somewhat flawed that the shield happens so long (relatively speaking) after the actual event; it means that if you happen to crit in between the first crit and the shield proc, you will just overwrite the shield instead of having it used on any attacks in the meantime. Is that problematic in practice? Not exactly. But it makes it less effective than it should be.

The tooltip is interesting, in that it implies that the shield's absorption is not tied to your AP at the time you spawned it - only at the time that you get hit. Not sure why this would ever matter, but I plan on testing it at some point.

Things I'll be testing:
whether or not it does absorb 25% of your AP (only tested against weak mobs tonight)
whether a DoT tick or something else like it (reflective damage, for example) will remove the shield
If the absorption is based on AP at the time of proc or at the time of use
further testing to see if I can narrow down when you get a shield or not (the bug above)

Any requests for testing that you'd like to see? I'm limited in time and what gear I have, but I'll try my best to oblige.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

[Offtopic]Picture meme thingy

I got tagged a while back by a couple folks for this meme, but sadly mine isn't all that interesting - that's basically because I got a new computer and a new install, so my screenshot folder isn't super hawt right now.

This was a screenshot I took after our first Felmyst kill. We had downed Brutallus just before the 3.0.2 patch hit, but sadly never got a chance to tackle Felmyst before the patch. So he was nerfed, and even then he was fairly difficult for us - at least the first week. The second week I think we 3-shotted him - and that apparently was because I'm the only person in my guild who watched the video on how to identify which side the breaths come on. They had tried a couple times, and then I log in and people in vent actually say "Felhoof, THANK GOD."

That was pretty amusing.

We went on to kill the rest of Sunwell post-nerf. The one I feel worst about missing was M'uru. M'uru was supposedly the hardest fight that Blizzard has ever done at least in terms of tuning, and I was very curious to see how our guild would handle it. It was also one of the places where a druid tank had a huge advantage; being able to hit max armor and 80% avoidance on the door adds meant the healing budget was much less, and being able to DPS in cat on phase 2 meant you may make the soft enrage. M'uru post-patch, by comparison, was a huge joke. With 30% less HP on everything and huge amounts of extra DPS via the new talent trees, there was no pressure at all, and the mechanics of the fight itself aren't that special if there's no pressure to perform. The ledge boss from Twins was harder.

Sorry that wasn't more interesting. Fortunately I have a couple of more interesting pics. For instance: what happens when you use baby spice on a motorcycle and a gigantic feast on a tauren?

Wee! I haz a minibike.

Okay, that's easy. But what about a flaming woman driving a minibike with a gigantic frog in the sidecar? Now that's impressive.

I'll start working on those UI posts here soon. :)

In terms of tagging, I nominate Gray Matter, Jacemora, Lazy Bear Musings and Flyv to find us the 6th screenshot in their screenshot folder and make up amusing shit about it.

Monday, March 2, 2009

[Druid] Balance ain't just for laser chickens

First off - I'm now one of ten horde characters on my realm with the title "Of the Nightfall". It's still a very easy fight for a Sarth tank, but having the FR set and good survivability after things go nuts made it easier. We did it with 2 1/2 healers (an elemental shaman started healing during the Vesperon phase) and all casters. And basically, the first time we killed Shadron with everyone alive it was a win. All credit goes to the other healers, tanks and DPS on the fight. I had the easy job, and I appreciate being carried. :)

Second - the change to improved mark of the wild does appear to give you and you only 2% more stats. So...only about an 8% nerf to health and a gain of 2% more agility. Yay?

I still think that druids aren't going to stop being tanks any time soon. Assuming that the changes on the PTR go live (10% stamina loss, 6k armor loss), the loss of stamina and the loss of armor are both survivable hits for tanking viability. That said, I also don't think that druids are going to be reasonably chosen for progression content where a single tank matters heavily unless there is some stupid gimmick that favors having 10-15k more health than another tanking class. With the current changes on the PTR, simply put, right now druids are outclassed by other tanking classes in every single category save one - health. And health is not as useful for progression as a lot of other factors, particularly when encounters are balanced around the lowest health values.

Of course, it's very early in the PTR and a lot can and will change by the time 3.1 is released, so relax a bit.

But this isn't about that. This is about how to fix druids in the long term. These are a couple of posts I made on the official tanking forums, and I figure that they should more likely be in a blog than there. Also, I wanted people's input on them; I may be missing a lot of ideas here too. Also note that as Greenkappa pointed out, none of these big changes can be done for all of WotLK. There's no way to radically revamp feral tanking right now. That'll have to wait for the next expansion. So this is more of a post-mortem along with some ideas on where things may have to go.

There's a few problems with bears that aren't easily solved. The first and probably the biggest is itemization. In BC bears had very specific sets of gear that were not easily replaced. This meant that if you didn't get lucky with one drop, you would be significantly disadvantaged. It also meant raids were not the primary source of gear upgrades; heroics were via badges. It meant that druid power levels could be balanced reasonably via itemization (since they only had one very flawed set) but that they had very bad feelings about said itemization. And even then, the power of gems, enchants, and using jewelry that was designed for other classes meant that druids scaled too well compared to other tanks. It also had the weird side effect of making PvP gear awesome because of specific requirements to uncrittability that didn't care about things like block or parry; it was too easy to use resilience over defense simply because a loss of defense wasn't expensive enough.

Then we get to WotLK, and we have a totally different problem. Itemization is easy because so much of the itemization 'needs' gets covered with talents. Innate dodge, uncrittability and no real stat requirements. This (as Guaritor has pointed out) leads to really weird scaling issues, where a druid can have a range of 20,000 HP difference between one and another, or 20% more avoidance than another. Furthermore, because there is no extra armor gained from gear, we have the weird situation where anything really can be used without penalty. Spellpower leather? It's got stamina and crit and as much armor as the next piece does. DPS jewelry? Sure, it's got agi and stam on it. This has another side effect of allowing druids to tank reasonably well while wearing nothing but DPS gear, a side effect that almost guarantees druids will be doing DPS instead of tanking on any encounter where tanks are interchangeable and not as required (especially if you need to tank only part of the time in a fight).

No other class has this kind of variability in gearing with the same tier of gear available to them.

Of the two situations, one was balanced via poor itemization, one was simply not balanced. Both stem from the same issue: bears scale too well around too few stats. In BC it was armor and avoidance stats. In WotLK it is stamina and to a lesser extent agility.

Simply tweaking things here and there isn't going to solve the issue that druids can get 20k differences in health; that number is only going to increase with the advent of epic gems and better gear. Requiring druids to have some level of some stat found on DPS gear might help some, but only for a bit; once it becomes trivial to meet that level via improving ilvl gear, you'll run into silly scaling again.

So what are the problems that druids actually need to solve?
Bears need to be uncrittable.
Bears need to have a way to use leather melee DPS gear as tanking gear or have their own set of gear that is balanced for them. If they use melee DPS gear, it means more options but more balancing headaches. If they use tanking leather, it means fewer options, harder gearing choices and potentially wasted gear drops.
Bears need a way to innately balance tanking jewelry that is balanced around plate wearers.
Bears need a way to innately balance gems and enchants that are balanced around plate wearers.
Bears need to make up the stamina loss on leather DPS compared to plate wearers.
Bears need to make up the armor loss on leather DPS gear compared to plate wearers.
Bears need a mechanic to balance a lack of a shield.
Bears need to scale with this gear in such a way that they cannot stack one stat over all others.
Bear talent specs need to distinguish themselves from cat talent specs in such a way that one says 'I'm a bear' - which is difficult since feral talents are all in the same tree.

These are hard problems to solve. No other class in the game remotely has these kinds of issues with balance. The closest analogy is the holy paladin, who has their own loot table and shares jewelry that is close enough to itemization that they want that it doesn't matter. And honestly, at this point that might be cleaner. If you assume that druids are going to use tanking jewelry, gems and enchants AND they can get their own gear sets, you can balance most of that easily as well as make requirements on that gear such that they can't drop it easily. For example, the Polar set wouldn't have been an issue in TBC because it had no extra armor whatsoever.

Making agility count even more doesn't fix all the issues. It fixes the polar set - perhaps - but druids already get tons and tons of agility all over the place. In my polar set I still have about 500 agility. If we made it analogous to defense rating for plate wearers, that's only 189 agility to go. That's not that hard at all. And it causes another problem; reliance on raid buffs. Horn of winter would provide 150 of that agility, for instance - does that make much sense?

If you did do this, you'd have to make tanking leather. Otherwise, it doesn't do enough to make DPS leather valuable for druids, and then we get into the same situation as before where bears go for PvP gear and random crap things like the Polar set just because they can.

The core problem I believe is still that druids can choose to use things like the Polar set and that they have too high a scaling factor with stamina. The recent HotW nerf does nothing to fix either of these things especially.

I still think that tanking leather is likely the way to go here. Remove the uncrittable benefit from SotF and bring back tanking leather all over the place with defense on it. Make defense a desirable stat by converting parry to miss and dodge, and make defense the best avoidance stat for bears over agility so that they actually want the defense on the gear they get. Make 4 sets of tier gear, allow a lot of craftable gear and some kind of turnin tokens for rogue gear to turn it into feral tanking gear. Have cats and rogues itemized the same and have bears need armor and defense on their leather to remain competitive. Balance their stamina multipliers around the idea that bears will be going for tanking jewelry and values. Make SD more valuable and make strength a more desirable stat for bears. Give lots of early craftable gear choices and quest drops.

I don't like this idea so much because it does eat up more item slots on tables and may result in wasted gear, but that's probably the easiest way to balance the spec.

Barring that... I don't know. If you don't do it that way, you need to make dps gear so valuable for bears and so needed for bears that they won't think of taking anything else. Possibly taking the crit chance and turning it into anti-crit? (and not agility - just crit rating). But that feels kludgy. Making AP be armor or stamina, haste into dodge...all of these things have been mentioned, but unless druids are forced to use dps leather over things like the polar set they simply won't be balanceable.

And all of this can't be done any time soon. The best suggestion I've seen so far involves having diminishing returns on health gains from stamina, giving druids more cooldown options to bring them in line with recent warrior buffs and baseline DKs, and nerfing their current health and armor to what they are on the PTR. That's probably reasonable, though I'd recommend keeping the current multiplier on HotW but having DR on health. That should solve the problem significantly without hurting more balanced bears. Barring that, possibly just nerfing the Polar set would help tremendously. Or making it so that only stamina on gear is multiplied so heavily by various buffs and stats and dire bear form, similar to how armor works now.

It is frustrating though, in that a lot of these issues were brought up by myself and others during the beta but nothing really was done.