Tuesday, December 28, 2010

[Druid] General comments on GC's recent post

Wanted to handle this separately, since it was a Big Deal over the holidays.

Ghostcrawler recently had a very big update on PvE and PvP balance, and actually mentioned ferals a couple times! I know, I was as shocked as you were. The whole thing is over at MMO-Champ, but the important relevant bits of ferals I've copied.

We’ll make a pass to make stats that aren’t attractive (but are supposed to be) more attractive. For example, we don’t want Assassination rogues to dismiss crit or Feral tanks to dismiss haste. We are considering making some physical attacks such as Lacerate, Steady Shot, and Slam scale with haste.

Okay, that doesn't sound THAT bad. Ferals shouldn't dismiss haste like they do now for the junk stat that it is, and improving lacerate and making it scale with haste sounds good, right?

Kinda. See, right now lacerate is the filler attack for bears. It's what bears do when Mangle's on CD and they have rage, or it's what they do to get Pulverize back up while waiting for berserk procs. This works not because lacerate has an awesome bleed, but because lacerate's threat and damage got boosted on the front. It used to be that the actual lacerate attack was pretty insignificant but the lacerate bleed was awesome; they changed that.

Why did they change that? Well, mostly because (I think) they didn't want bears to be doing thrash and swipe as their 'filler' attacks and only use lacerate for the bleed. They also wanted Pulverize to be less of a threat-negative situation.

Right now, haste could make lacerate dots tick twice as often per % and it still wouldn't be worth it. The bleeds just don't do enough damage or threat and the uptime of lacerate is low enough that it's not worth it anyway. Haste could only really improve how often the lacerate dot ticks; it's not like haste can make us gain more lacerate attacks. Thus, the only real way to make haste work better for ferals is to make the actual dot do more damage.

Which would put bears back in the 'backloaded, slow threat' mode that they were. Except...well, bear threat is almost entirely defined by maul and mangle. Pulverize is done almost entirely to make maul and mangle hit harder. Lacerate should be up on the target to make mauls hit harder. So even if lacerate is boosted, it's still a very small portion of overall threat.

As an example of this, let's say for argument's sake that the lacerate bleed component was a whopping 20% of overall threat for a bear. It isn't that - not even close. And it's not been that, either. 1% haste - 128 haste rating - would improve that bear's threat by .2%. If melee attacks are another 20% of overall damage that makes haste give a whopping .4% threat per 1% haste.

Not that thrilling, I know. And because lacerate bleed crits don't proc savage defense any more, you have the fun times of only improving your savage defense via the white attacks.

So...how do you make haste more attractive to bears? Here's a few ideas I had.

1. Make haste also improve avoidance directly. Have a deep feral talent that allows haste to give avoidance at 50% of dodge rating. Intuitive, easy, no real math. If that's too much, make it at 25% or something.

2. Make lacerate ticks crit at an absurd rate and be able to proc Savage Defense. Then improve them via haste. You'd need to get like an 80% crit rate on lacerate dots to make this matter, but it could really help.

3. Make white attacks have a chance to proc savage defense or some other defensive ability.

4. Nerf maul and mangle and make lacerate better.

5. Make pulverize not consume the lacerate stack. This alone would improve the threat of the bleed greatly.

6. Revamp bears to make rage matter for for survival and less for threat.

Of these, I really want 6 to be the case but it won't happen. The main reason that bears don't care about haste is that they don't care about rage, and they don't care about rage because threat isn't ever as important as survival. I don't think that threat is going to be nerfed hugely (though it might be), so it really comes down to making rage actually matter for a bear. What if a bear had to keep x amount of rage to keep their mitigation higher, by improving their armor? Or a bear took 1% less damage for every 10 rage they had stored? Or if barkskin, survival instincts and even savage defense required rage to use? Then we'd care about haste quite a bit.

But bears aren't rage capped. They're GCD capped. And rage only helps with threat. So...we just don't care.

Onto cats: the other statement in the big post was about druids in general (especially for pvp):
Even after we fixed their mastery, Feral druid bleeds still do a lot of damage and are undispellable. We plan to shift some of that damage back to main attacks. They are also a little too hard to control. Given that they are already hard to root, snare, or polymorph, we think the fear immunity from Berserk is too much.

So the fear immunity from berserk is gone. Oh well. Not hugely missed but it was very nice on a few boss fights, especially as a cat. As to shifting some of the damage from bleeds to main attacks - GOOD. 50-60% of damage coming from bleeds meant ferals were really funky on some fights. When they could establish a bleed rotation or at least establish rake and rip and they could tick for a good long time, ferals could rule. If a feral could get bleeds going on multiple targets at once, they could be good. But on fights where there was a lot of down time or rampup time, ferals kinda sucked. They took a while to get rip up, and often rip wouldn't tick for the duration anyway or couldn't be refreshed properly. Target switching was really lame. Haste, hit, and expertise all were ignored for bleeds since none helped bleeds do more damage once they were applied. It was just a bad move.

Really, I want haste to be better for cats. There are two ways to make that happen - either make bleeds scale with haste like they were going to originally or make bleeds do less overall damage and make white and yellow attacks do more. Note that ferals don't have a lot of yellow attacks to do; shred and mangle are basically it, and you don't want to mangle more than every 30 seconds (if you have t11) anyway. Still, haste making things faster and making more OoC procs, more white damage and more shred damage would be a good thing. It really doesn't have to be much to swing it that way either; simply make bleeds do about 10% less damage and make shreds and white attacks do about 10% more.

[Bear] Some early bear thoughts

A couple posters asked me to go back to writing some things about bears.

Well, they're fuzzy. And shouldn't be petted.

K. Happy holidays!

Oh, fine. Real things to consider. Let's start with some basics:

1. Interrupts and taunts cannot miss. Note that the interrupt attack (like skull bash) can miss, but the actual interrupt effect will never miss. This has been confirmed by repeat experimentation a ridiculous amount of times. This means that other than threat (and savage defense procs), there is no reason to gear for hit as a tank.

2. Parry haste does not exist for anyone. For players, for mobs, anyone. That isn't to say that mobs can't parry - or that they don't quite a lot - but it does mean that using expertise to get less of a chance of gibbage is a bit silly. Thus, other than threat (and savage defense procs) there is no reason to gear for expertise as a tank.

3. Haste improves the speed of autoattacks for bears. This improves rage generation slightly, but only slightly. It can slightly increase the number of SD procs you get, but only barely. In theory it will let you maul more, but not a whole lot more; mauls are usually a function of damage intake, not white attacks. Thus, other than threat (and savage defense procs) there is no reason to gear for haste as a tank.

4. While vengeance improves savage defense, it does have a fairly high ceiling. For most bears this means that they are not vengeance-capped (where vengeance is equivalent to 10% of their health). Which means adding more health does not improve mitigation; just because you have more health doesn't mean you'll be hitting for more via vengeance. This will vary between tank to tank and encounter to encounter; I expect that as you get into heroic raids you'll start pushing the limit of vengeance stacking and it'll improve again. But for the most part, stamina doesn't help mitigation (stopping damage intake), it only improves survival.

5. Most of the time stamina isn't helping survival all that much. We are at the point where effective health is not nearly as relevant as taking less damage and being smart with mechanics. Tank healing is pretty simple as long as the tank doesn't screw up a mechanic. Tank survivability is quite high; I've been able to survive for 20 seconds without external healing - and that's with a mishmash of tanking and dps gear. There aren't that many fights where the tank is going to be taking a ton of damage, at least not on normal modes; Heroic Nef hits for about 70-80k on a tank in normal 25-man, and he's by far the worst offender. What this means is that stamina past a certain point is just not that great. Gone are the days where bears got way more multipliers for their stamina, and gone are the days where a stamina gem gives 1.5 times the benefit it does to other tanks. Stamina is not the be-all, end all of a bear's use.

What all of this means is the following:

1. For heroics, don't bother stacking stamina unless your gear level is very low (like, just barely able to go into a random). Stack agility and reforge the highest value to dodge.

2. Understand the fight and be able to redo gear cheaply. Flasks for agility are good (especially since the stam flask isn't as good as it should be). Swapping cheap enchants is another idea. Use justice points to buy second sets of gear and redo them for stam and agility.

3. Threat is largely unimportant right now. If you're really concerned about it chances are you're doing something wrong; on a single target fight it is very, very hard for dps to touch you past 10 seconds.

4. There's no reason to worry about misses on important stuff.

The end result of all of this is that agility is Very Good. Mastery is Good. Crit rating is Good. Stamina is Good (to a point). Dodge (which gives about 50% more dodge% than agility does) is Good.

Hit, Expertise, haste, strength, AP? All meh.

Which, interestingly enough, is very similar to what the priorities are for cats. Other than dodge, that is.

And armor. Oh yeah, armor! If you are going to go stacking effective health despite what others are saying, keep in mind that armor improves both survival and mitigation. Also keep in mind that the best heroic armor trinket - Heart of Thunder - has worse armor than the worst old trinket you can buy - good old Glyph. If you can get your hands on a Petrified Twilight Scale it's well worth it.

Some other fun tricks:

1. Entangling roots is awesome. You're the only tank out there that has not only one CC but two. Both are situational and not perfect, but both are great and are good in a pinch. Know how to utilize them in various dungeons. Get used to them.

2. Remember that you can shift out of snares. There are a TON of snares in dungeons now - Ozrek's paralyze is a good example. Instead of waiting for the damage to free you, why not free yourself?

3. Get used to Line of Sight. You don't have an easy silence but you do have a ton of LoS abilities. This helps a ton with caster pulls. Otherwise casters should almost always be CCed; you can take a lot of physical punishment but don't have the control of caster that other tanks do.

4. Remember that skull bash is a short charge, too.

Friday, December 17, 2010

[Cat] Optional talents (that aren't optional) for cats

While Cataclysm's kept me tons of busy, it's been a fun busy. I love the new heroics and their difficulty level and requirements for encounter awareness and ability use. I love the look of most of them as well. The fights are interesting and fairly hard, and most importantly hugely unforgiving. Trash is hard and needs to be respected. Kill orders need to be followed. CC should be used, even creatively at times.

And normal modes of raiding have gone back to being very interesting in design and scope. Halfus, Maloriak, Theralon and Valiona, Omnitron, Magmaw - all have multiple phases and roles and a lot of movement and raid awareness. They really reward a good druid who can utilize all of their abilities and knows what to do and when to do it. I was very ready to bash Cataclysm's design and the 'coolness' of heroic modes compared to Ulduar, but so far the encounters are really great.

Part of the design for Cataclysm was to give everyone a chance to pick talents that were 'fun' or 'interesting' but didn't specifically boost DPS, because any DPS class that picked a non-DPS talent was obviously wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong. In any given build for a class/spec, this means (in theory) that you have 5 or so talent points kicking around that can be used for a preferential talent or two but you don't really 'need' in order to play well.

And today, I'm going to put that to the dirty, horrible lie that it is.

The basic cat build is something like this: the 0/31/6 build with 4 points remaining. Even with that you have some options that people are going to argue about - do you take Feral Aggression, Predatory Strikes, Stampede or Infected Wounds? You have to spend at least 5 points in some of those. Later on, do you take Brutal Impact, Nurturing Instinct, Survival Instincts or Primal Madness? Of all of those, you have to spend at least 8 points in there. And that's not even counting herobear/bearcat mixed specs that use something like Thick Hide or Natural Reaction! So you've got a monumental 12 points to play around with.

So even if we wanted to skip some of these talents we can't. Here's the dirty secret: many really aren't optional. Here's the list of talents that every raiding and heroic-queueing cat must have, and why:

Must haves:

1. Nurturing Instinct. Healing is very, very hard, and anything that makes it easier to heal you is good. However, that's not what makes this talent must-have. What makes this absolutely needed is the huge boost it gives to Tranquility. While it's on a very long cooldown Tranquility is something every druid should be using or ready to use in many situations in raiding, and being able to get a lot of healing out of it is important. It'll never be as good as a Balance druid's version, but it still is much better. Think of it as the new version of innervate; instead of giving mana back to a healer, it's giving mana back to a healer in the form of smart heals that heal for a ton.

2. Brutal Impact. The argument against Brutal Impact was that so many other classes have good interrupts that it's really not necessary. Okay, that's true in 25 man to a point - though there are enough 'random stack on this add' that that isn't quite as true, and it does add a small but significant charge effect.

But what about 10-man? In a 10-man you're probably one of 2 or maybe three melee. The chances of any of them having a good interrupt is fairly low. Chances are you'll have to have an interrupting team - and Skull Bash is just as good for it as anything out there.

Where it really shines is in 5-mans. While there aren't that many bosses that have 'must have' interrupts in 5 mans, there are a few. More importantly almost every single trash pack has interruptable abilities that do a ton of damage or cause chaos. If you can interrupt those, the runs go much more smoothly. Help your healers and tank out and go interrupt stuff. Learn how to do it now - because you will be asked to do it later.

3. Survival Instincts. This one is pretty easy to understand: every 5 minutes it's very, very hard to kill you. Again, another mana-saver for healers, a life-saver for you, and a very easy way to prevent damage by going bear, popping this and Frenzied regen. Get used to using it regularly in boss fights, particularly in heroics. It also helps go herobear and use this too. Raid strategies will be based around being able to use personal cooldowns to survive big attacks - and honestly Barkskin just doesn't cut it sometimes.

Most everyone expects you have this, and you do have it right?

1. Feral Aggression. This was almost must-have. The primary reason isn't the boost to Ferocious Bite (though that is a small DPS increase at 25% and less), it's the applying sunders instantaneously, 3 at a time, for 5 minutes. This is far better than the warrior or the rogue version. The rogue version takes energy, the warrior version takes rage and a GCD. Faerie Fire gets applied at range (usually before the fight starts), cats aren't GCD bound and usually can pool energy without any DPS issues and having all three sunders up early is a great boost. If you don't have this you're going to take up 3 GCDs and 12 seconds to put up all the FF stacks. While the GCDs don't hurt, this means you're going to be doing a decent amount less damage in those 12 seconds. What's worse is that all your friends are too. It isn't a requirement, but given that it boosts personal DPS and raid DPS and is the best way to put up sunders you should have it - just like you forced those warriors to sunder so the rogues didn't have to, you should too.

The rest are pretty much your choice. Note that if you take these talents you basically have 5 points to split amongst the rest of the optional ones - one of which must go into a tier five talent or less.

Some of you might be asking why Primal Madness is considered optional. The reason is that it's a very situational, small DPS increase. For two talent points you get 20 more energy, which by itself is half as good as Tiger's Fury. That's not great but is okay. The problem is that when the buff fades, you lose up to 20 energy right away. It's very rare that you can end at 0 energy just as the debuff goes off, so most of the time it'll be at best a very small DPS gain. You can in theory micromanage it so that you cancel the debuff just as you use the ability that causes you to lose the energy (for example, macroing shred to cancel the Primal Madness debuff) but even then you're likely to lose 4-5 energy simply from latency. It's just not that great.

So the reality is that you basically have 5 talent points to spend as you see fit outside of the above, and at least one needs to be in a tier-5 talent. This is one reason that it's hard to do the bearcat build - you have to skip out on at least one of those talents, and chances are it's either Nurturing Instinct (which is incredible) or Brutal Impact (which is mandatory for 5-mans). Or you gimp your bear slightly, not taking Infected Wounds or Pulverize. It's a hard choice, and ultimately one I can't advocate - even though there have been a ton of times I've had to go herobear and tank something for a while.

That being said - bear gear and cat gear have never, ever been closer. And if you want to be a herobear, all you really need is Thick Hide.

Monday, December 13, 2010

[Cat] Cataclysm heroic drops by slot and by dungeon

This is a quick and dirty list of all the drops that come from the heroic dungeons. I did this mostly for me to be able to see where I should queue if I have a choice of doing only one or two dungeons a day. Note that there's almost no difference between pieces on this list and other pieces at the same ilvl, so don't worry too much about getting the best piece.

The list used.

Cloak of Thredd - Deadmines
Kaleki Cloak - Lost City

While there are a lot of options here, there are almost as many options outside of dungeons. There's the Revered Earthen Ring cloak and a cheap LW pattern cloak that are just as good, and one that's even better from Valor points. So don't run things just for this - it's a nice thing if it drops.

Hieroglyphic Vest - Halls of Origination

Another embarassment of riches here. The justice piece is also good, there's a great LW crafted piece and an even better T11 piece. There's even a reasonably competitive 333 piece from honored Hyjal. So don't bother running dungeons for just this slot.

Crafty's Gaiters - Lost City
VanCleef's Boots - Deadmines

These have much fewer rivals. There's only one vendor piece, and it's a valor cost. The next best thing is off of a long quest chain for Halls of Origination - and it's normal. This is a good one to go for if you want to go for something.

Nautilus Ring - Throne of Tides
Ring of Dun Alguz - Grim Batol

Rings are always in short supply early on. While there's a good ring for exalted with Earthen Ring that's only one thing - and as you'll see you'll want to get exalted with Dragonmaw first. One of the best rings is a JC recipe, but those are going to be hard to get early on since they cost 4 chimera's eyes to make and 5 to acquire. A better choice is Therazane's revered ring, which you'll be going for rep-wise anyway (unless you're a scribe). So do try to get one of these and get the Therazane rep ring, with the aim to go for Earthen Ring later.

Gloves of Haze - Vortex Pinnacle

Ouch. The best comes from Dragonmaw Exalted rep, but that might take a while. The next best is a justice point drop. Vortex Pinnacle doesn't have much, and I'd really aim for getting exalted with Dragonmaw - but if you're unlucky the JP purchase might be the best way to go. Hopefully you get lucky :)


Double ouch. The other option is a justice point drop. Well, or a trash drop from a raid, but chances are you won't be getting that any time soon. Stonecore is a good instance to run for this and for the weapon, so try to get this early. Otherwise it should be one of your earliest justice point purchases as it won't be wasted any time soon.


Another low-drop slot with even less competition than the head - the only other piece is the justice point legs. Note that there are a lot of good 333-level quest rewards for legs and helm, so this might not be as huge an upgrade for you as other slots (notably the hands) - but this will not be wasted. Also BRC doesn't have that much to offer, making this even better.


Not many dungeon drops, but all sorts of weird options abound. There are world drops that are super expensive but awesome, JC recipes (which are also expensive), a Guardians of Hyjal Revered purchase, a justice point purchase and another random BoE. While GoH doesn't have much going for it to get to revered, you might already be close to it if you did Hyjal - so consider doing that. Otherwise go to Stonecore.


Forgot this category in the prior list...oops. So this makes BRC and SFK even tastier. The options you have are an inscription crafted item or the eventual valor purchase. This isn't a crucial slot, so I'd recommend just trying to get it as it comes in one of the two above dungeons.


Another set of short options. The justice point vendor is good for this if you don't get lucky, and there's almost nothing else. This might be a good thing to buy early since chances are you won't have a good set of shoulders from questing, though a decent entry level piece comes from a quest out of Lost City.

Skardyn's Grace - Grim Batol
Tia's Grace - Lost City

The first two are certainly awesome. I'll go more into trinkets when we move into raids, but there's good reason to first go for the quest in Uldum and then go for BRC or Grim Batol.

Darkling Staff - Stonecore
Seliza's Staff - Lost City

Ah, the real reason to do Stonecore - just like you did Violet Hold last expansion. There is a BoE that drops from a world boss, but it's likely that you won't be killing him any time soon. There's also a revered weapon from the Tol Barad dailies, but that will take a while to get just because of the daily limits. Finally, there's an absurdly expensive weapon from blacksmithing, but don't bother unless you really are loaded and want something now now now.

Red Beam Cord - HoO

Yeah, not a lot of drops. HoO is good because of the sheer amount of bosses in it (and thus JP). But there are a lot of options for belts. There's the epic LW belt which will compete until you get to heroic raids. There's a JP belt as well. I'd personally go for the revered Ramkahen belt, since you want revered with Ramkahen to get your head enchant for cats anyway. Finally, there is a BoE belt from random guys in Uldum, but chances of this being around are rare.


This slot has almost no options. One of the 'best' is the PvP bracers from LW. Another is the normal version of Halls of Origination, but that's painful to do just for this (even if it drops from the first boss). So running SFK and HoO should be something of a priority until these drop.

In terms of dungeons, here's how I'd rank the priority of doing them.

Blackrock Caverns:

Legs with no other drop competition, a weapon, a trinket and a ring? Awesome. Number one for me. Heck, it even drops the best relic!

A weapon, a neck, a helm without a drop replacement and a trinket make this a really high choice for me.

Lost City:
Kaleki Cloak - Lost City
Crafty's Gaiters - Lost City
Seliza's Staff - Lost City
Tia's Grace - Lost City

Boots, a decent trinket and a weapon are good reasons to do this one. This gets the nod over HoO simply because of the importance of getting a weapon.

Halls of Origination:
Hieroglyphic Vest - Halls of Origination

So much stuff! There's nothing insane here, but there's a ring, bracers, an okay trinket, and a belt if you don't get the rep one.


Boots and bracers are both hard to come by replacements. The shoulders aren't bad either. Not amazingly great, but definitely good. The relic doesn't hurt matters either.

Cloak of Thredd - Deadmines
VanCleef's Boots - Deadmines

While cloaks and chests are easy to come by, boots are not. Plus this is a fun, fun dungeon. Still, it does take a while and is a beast to pug.

Grim Batol:
Ring of Dun Alguz - Grim Batol
Skardyn's Grace - Grim Batol

The trinket is the only super awesome piece here.

Throne of the Tides:
Nautilus Ring - Throne of Tides

I wanted to be excited about this because it's a great instance, but honestly? Skip it. It takes a while and there just isn't that much stuff there.

Vortex Pinnacle:
Gloves of Haze - Vortex Pinnacle

While gloves are hard to get a replacement for, that there's only one drop at all is bothersome. It's a somewhat fast dungeon but not very pug-friendly.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

[Druid, general] Yeah, I heard there wuz a Cataclysm

No excuses; I've just had too much stuff going on recently. But I'm around. Fortunately, awesome bloggers galore are out there.

For starters, on cat DPS: don't use the built-in weights of wowhead for cat DPS. They overvalue mastery and undervalue agility and weapon DPS significantly. Instead, use the great results that were generated by Mew and provided by Alaron at Fluid Druid. The only thing I've done is save the filter that he used in a link - he did all the heavy lifting, and even did a gear list for cats that is mostly complete.

For your bear needs, I point you to the inconspicuous bear, who really rocks. Hasn't done a gear list yet, but a lot of it looks much like you'd expect it to - stuff with sockets and stamina for leather, stuff with lots of stamina and dodge on jewelry (though the jewelry looks competitive from both dps and tank side). A quick and dirty bear weighing can be found in the Elitist Jerks bear thread for both pre-heroics and post-heroics. As pointed out by Alaron, the important thing isn't to quibble about how close things are to each other, it's to get something in the same tier of good gear - and towards post-heroics there really aren't that many choices.

I've updated the sidebar with the quick wowhead links too.

Why dodge and not mastery? With mastery getting nerfed after 4.01, dodge rates already fairly low, crit rates WAY lower and overall things hitting you for metric butt-tons of damage, mastery doesn't work quite as well. When you can regularly absorb every non-dodged attack by 8-10k, it's great. When it works about 1/3rd the time, absorbs only 8k out of 80k, and isn't reliable? Compared to dodge, it's crap.

On leveling: well, chances are you're already 85, exalted with everyone and raiding. If you haven't started yet, I would recommend (as a druid) doing Vash'jir. It's not nearly as populated and seal form gives huge, huge benefits to a druid in the zone. However, as soon as you hit 82 get to Deepholm and do as much Therazane (specifically, this questline which opens from this one) as you can. Then get 83, do Uldum, then once you're 84 do Twilight Highlands. Don't bother completing each zone at this time; the leveling gulf is brutal, and it's much more efficient to quest in the harder places.

One of the things I'm going to work on is a set of gear that you might miss if you don't do all the quests and where to go for those. That's mostly because I like that sort of thing. If you'd like to see something else, please ask.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

[Cat] Current best in slot items for WotLK for cats

This was written by me over at EJ; figured it would be useful to folks here as well. Apologies for lack of linkages.

Since you can't gear for mastery, the only compromise you're making is whether or not you want haste, crit, expertise or hit. That's all. There is no other compromise to be made. The question then becomes what gear gives you the most potential mastery value while also giving you the most hit and expertise (up to the cap) and the most agility.

Doing something like this and evaluating 40% of the highest secondary stat as mastery (no matter what it was), I came up with the following values for gear. This was using 1.1 for agility, .6 for expertise and hit, .5 for haste and crit, 1.1 for mastery, 22 for each socket and assuming that the highest stat would always be converted to mastery.

shadowvault slayer's cloak back 228.12
sylvanas' cunning back 196.3

gloaming sark chest 416.28
ikfirus chest 431.86
T10277 chest 412.98

footpads of silence feet 289.6
frostbitten fur boots feet 297.6
taldaram's slippers feet 265.6

Endless Vengeance ring 209.66
bone colossus ring 232.5
frostbrood ring 228.12
saurfang ring 194.6
seal of many mouths ring 234.12
Signet of twilight ring 244.72

aldriana's hand 306.4
t10277 hand 297.2

discarded bag head 331.4
geistlord head 370.38
t10277 head 383.46

gangrenous legs 423.18
T10277 legs 423.58

sindragosa's cruel claw neck 228.12
baltharus' gift neck 216.56
precious neck 201.18
rimetooth neck 203.4

cultists shoulder 306.4
T10277 shoulder 297.2

Oathbinder weapon 434.58
Bloodfall weapon 422.18
distant land weapon 416.58
tainted twig weapon 380.86
hersir's weapon 328.32
shaft weapon 361.32

astrylian waist 297.6
soulthief waist 271.64
vengeful waist 283.2

umbrage wrist 247.02
toskk wrist 228.12
vambraces wrist 203.4

The highest non-tier piece is Ikfirus compared to any other. The gain is small but there. Another surprise is Seal of Many Mouths, which wins out over the other 277 rings due to the expertise. (note that this doesn't take into account the proc of Endless vengeance, but that shouldn't matter. Mouths, bone colossus, frostbrood, endless vengeance is the order for the 277s.

The head and legs for T10 were both superior to their non-offtier values. The shoulders are identical to the Aldriana's in terms of gain; you could use either T10 shoulders or hands as your offtier piece, if it suited you.

Based on this you would have the following gear set as a best in slot:
Cloak: Shadowvault's (40% of haste to mastery)
Chest: Ikfirus (40% of hit to mastery)
Feet: Frostbitten (40% of crit to mastery)
Rings: Signet of Twilight (40% of crit to mastery), Seal of many mouths (40% of crit to mastery)
Hand: T10 (40% of crit to mastery)
Head: T10 (40% of crit to mastery)
Legs: T10 (40% of crit to mastery)
Neck: Sindragosa (40% of crit to mastery)
Shoulder: T10 (40% of crit to mastery)
Weapon: Oathbinder (40% of haste to mastery)
Waist: Astrylian (40% of crit to mastery)
Wrist: Umbrage (40% of haste to mastery)

This naively would result in the following (including the idol slot)
agility: + 1799
crit: +753
expertise: +272
haste: +719
hit: +126
mastery: +482

This is clearly over the cap on expertise and under on hit, so you can simply reforge the ikfirus' expertise instead. Giving you 230 expertise and 171 hit. Not perfectly capped, but pretty close.

I believe this is the maximal value of mastery you could get currently. It also has 21 sockets.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

[Bear] FAQ for 4.0.1/Cataclysm

Gah! So busy. This needed to be up, like, yesterday.


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, Tankspot, 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@80: For single target it's mangle when it's available, lacerate if there is no lacerate on the target, swipe when it's available, pulverize to keep the buff up after 3 lacerates, lacerate otherwise. Faerie fire if you're in a low-rage situation. Maul if you're in a high rage situation. For multitarget it's largely the same, save that you should prioritize spreading lacerates around to proc more mangles if possible. And start the pull by thornsing yourself.
A@85: For single target it's mangle off CD, lacerate if there is no lacerate on the target, thrash off CD, swipe off CD, pulverize to keep the buff up and lacerate otherwise. Faerie fire when you're low on rage, and maul if you're in high rage or need a quick boost of threat. And start the pull by thornsing yourself. On multitarget, rotate between swipe and thrash and lacerate otherwise, throwing mangles and mauls in when you have the rage.

Q: Stack lacerate to 3? But I thought it stacked to 5?
A: Nope. Lacerate is only three stacks. And even better, the damage it does to start with is significantly better, and the dot is pretty weak. Which makes it quite spammable.

Q: Pulverize is that good?
A: Yep. Pulverize helps with more savage defense, helps with rage, and does a good amount of damage by itself.

Q: So the single target rotation uses both of our AoE abilities?
A: Yeah, at least right now; both do significantly large amounts of threat and damage.

Q: What's thrash?
A: Thrash is an ability learned at level 81. It's great threat and applies a bleed.

Q: So no more swipe spam?
A: Nope! Swipe has a 6-second CD, as does Thrash. You'll want to plan to use swipe based on the fight and make sure that it's up if adds spawn at a specific time.

Q: So no more faerie fire?
A: Faerie fire costs no rage but isn't that great in terms of threat any more, at least not compared to lacerate.

Q: Wait - so what happened to mangle? What's the new berserk thing?
A: Berserk now gives a 30% chance to your lacerate ticks to reset mangle's CD. There isn't an improved mangle any more - but the lacerate ticks mean that you have a good chance to get extra mangles if you're paying attention. That means lacerate should be up all the time (it should be the first thing you do after pulverize) and ideally you should pulverize only right after a lacerate tick.

Q: All my attacks had /cast maul associated with them - should I keep doing that?
A: No! Maul has a 3-second CD, is off the GCD (so you can use it whenever) and doesn't do nearly as much threat and damage as it used to. Plus it's a huge rage sink, and chances are you don't want to mess with your rotation too much to use it. It's better used in multitarget situations or at the start of a fight to get a good threat lead.

Q: So the magic number for defense was 156 defense rating or 103 resilience rating before. What is it now?
A: 0. Bear form & Thick Hide automatically take care of being uncrittable.

Q: What are the new cooldowns bears have?
A: Survival instincts has changed to be a true shield wall - 60% reduction every 5 minutes. Barkskin is unchanged. Frenzied Regeneration (with the glyph) is now sort of like the old survival instincts but doesn't increase your current health unless you're very low, but adds the guardian spirit ability. All are very strong.

Q: Okay, those are pretty big changes - what else has happened?
A: Skull Bash is your new interrupt. And it's a mini-charge too!

Q: Anything else?
A: Vengeance is pretty neat for bears. Especially since Vengeance combines with Savage Defense to make blocking kinda ridiculous at times.

Q: Wait, Savage Defense? Isn't that kind of a lame skill?
A: Not any more! With it being modified by mastery, increased via vengeance and being fairly large anyway it means big, big blocks quite often.

Q: So what other goodies am I getting come Cataclysm?
A: Not a lot, sadly. I mentioned thrash, which feels like an answer to a question that doesn't matter any more (how to tank lots of mobs easily, which you shouldn't be doing!). At 83 you get stampeding roar, which is somewhat neat but has such a small radius currently it's not super useful. Still, it's another dash and it's in bear form. And at 85, you get wild mushroom...which is essentially as useful as hurricane.

Q: What's with innervate?
A: It's horrible now for ferals; it gives back mana based on the caster's mana pool.

A: Yeah, it's a bad design. I hope it goes away soon.

Q: is there any good news?
A: well, you can use tranquility to heal anyone, sort of like a divine hymn, but unless you have nurturing instinct chances are it won't be useful.


Q: Where's all my extra armor?
A: On leather, extra armor is long gone. On nonleather there's a bug that removed a lot of it; it should return soon.

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

Q: That sucks!
A: Not really, not any more. Most leather pieces have as much stamina as plate pieces do. It's not nearly as bad as it used to be.

Q: What rogue leather is best then? It's got all these weird-ass stats...
A: The only stats that help mitigation/avoidance directly that are on rogue leather are agility, stamina and mastery. Crit somewhat helps make more savage defense procs, as does hit and expertise, but they aren't big deals. And agility is huge now.

Q: How is agility huge?
A: Well, for a bear it gives crit %, dodge %and 2 AP per agility point. It's quite the one-stop shop for the well-to-do bear. Note that it doesn't give armor any more. Yeah, I don't know either.

Q: Mastery?
A: It's a lame name, I know.

Q: Okay, but that wasn't the question. What does it do?
A: For bears, Mastery increases the size of your savage defense shields by 4% per mastery point. This sounds wimpy, but it ends up being quite substantial; each mastery point at 80 increases absorption by about 400-500 damage, and that increases quite a bit with vengeance.

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. Sadly this hasn't changed in 4 years either.

Q: So great...I have to pvp now, don't I?
A: Not really. It may give you a small advantage, but since you can't reforge resilience away it loses a lot of item budget.

Q: Reforge?
A: Yeah! This is the biggest thing for bears in a long time. You can convert 40% of a secondary stat (not agility or stamina or strength) into another secondary stat that isn't on the item. For bears, this means that you can convert haste (which is pretty weak for bears) or extra hit into dodge rating or mastery.

Q: So what you're telling me is...
A: Yes! Tanking leather is back! Sorta.

Q: What about the non-leather items?
A: This is sort of a tough one. On the one hand, the tanking non-leather items can have extra armor. On the other hand, the DPS ones have agility and more threat, which can give more boosts. I'd recommend taking the non-leather tanking pieces with + armor when they exist, take the tanking trinkets that give stamina and armor, but look for high-agility and high-mastery jewelry otherwise.

Q: So defense is gone...what does that mean for gear?
A: It means look for gear with armor, agility, mastery, and dodge. Strength is okay but not thrilling.

Q: How about gems?
A: Stamina is still the king. Agility is better than it was before, but avoidance still isn't thriling compared to the gains you get from stamina.

Q: You have mongoose on your tanking staff?
A: Sadly Mongoose is still the best bear enchant at 80. At 85 there are going to be better ones, at least.

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


Q: Wow. What happened to our tree?
A: It went boom. You now pick a specialization (feral) and then get talents roughly once every other level. The total talents that you can have at level 80 is 36, and at 85 is 41. And you can't get any talents from any tree other than feral until you've spent 31 points in feral.

Q: Survival of the fittest is gone! So is MANGLE? HOW IS I DON"T EVEN GAAARHRGHG
A: Relax. Both are baked into the feral specialization or part of Thick Hide.

Q: So what spec would you recommend?
A: At 80, you can't go deep into the resto tree - so I'd go with something like a 0/33/3 build.
A: at 85, you want to get perseverance and you might as well get master shapeshifter along the way, so you end up with a 0/32/9 build. There are a few options available for those points.

Q: There don't seem to be a lot of options for bears.
A: That's not a question, but yeah, you're right. Most of the talents that are somewhat situational are either completely suicidal (King of the Jungle) or just aren't useful for bears at all (like Nurturing Instinct). Your options come down to brutal impact, infected wounds or stampede, basically. Of those I'd recommend skipping stampede, as it's only useful at the start of a fight.

Q: What about natural shapeshifter/master shapeshifter?
A: Master shapeshifter would be good if it were only 2 points, but it's essentially 3. And natural shapeshifter is worthless. There's not a lot else to spend your points on, though.

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.

Other choices:

Q: What Inscriptions?
A: Mangle, Berserk, Lacerate, Frenzied Regeneration and Feral Charge. Also Challenging Roar. I'd recommend swapping between the rebirth and the thorns glyph for the third major.

Q: What professions?
A: Too early to tell, but my guess is jewelcrafting (since it's useful for all specs of druid) and either leatherworking or engineering.

Q: If I'm taking all these bear talents, how do I dps as a cat?
A: Much better than before. The main cat talent you don't have is King of the Jungle, but your shreds, rakes, and rips all hit fairly hard. You also are missing out on glyphs which hurts, but it's much better than it was before.

Q: Wow...you'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 Cataclysm Feral druids - the big one.
Combat Ratings at 85, which talks about diminishing returns
Beta forums, which kind of suck right now
MMO Champion, which has the latest updates on specs and talents
Rawr, the best damn optimizer on the planet.

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

Friday, October 8, 2010

[Cat] Cataclysm cats part 4: the case for haste

Previous posts here:

After a lot of digging on EJ, I found good evidence for the haste regeneration formula, and it roughly corresponds to my somewhat loose testing so it seems to make sense. The haste energy regeneration formula is as follows:

energy regeneration/second = 10*(1+ haste%)

In other words, if you have 20% haste, you regenerate 12 energy/second. If that sounds underwhelming...you're probably right. At 20% haste, in order to gain one extra shred you wait 20 seconds. That's helpful, don't get me wrong, but with the sorry state of damage on shreds this isn't nearly as impressive as you might think.

Furthermore, the relative percentages of damage aren't close to what they are now. With the loss of arpen and the loss of Feral AP, melee damage is significantly less. Ironically bleeds are significantly more than they were before (or perhaps they're the same, but as a relative level they went higher. I'm seeing reports of bleed damage being as high as 50-60% of overall damage at raid-buffed levels, and melee close to 25-30%.

With melee that low and with bleeds that high, haste only improves about 50% of your total damage. If you assume that shreds are 20% of your damage (which is actually a bit high) and melee is 30%, each percent of haste does the following:

1% haste increases your melee damage by 1%, which increases your overall dps by .3%.
Assume the rate of shreds per a fight is roughly constant. In a 40 second period I showed that you have about time to do 7 shreds. This means that each % of haste in a 40 second period gives you .1 shred, such that 10% haste gives you one extra shred in that time. This equates to 1/70 more shred damage per 1% haste, or:
1% haste = 1/70 * 20% = .28%

The total gain of dps for haste is thus about .6% directly. In addition more haste gives you more combo points, which is potentially a source of ferocious bites - but only a small one. You'll get haste%/70*crit rate more combo points per % of haste in a 40 second period, which at 50% crit rate is about .07 CP per haste%. Not thrilling.

Sadly, this is about as good as I'm going to get without a simulator, but it roughly confirms reports from others about how well haste scaling and haste conversion is compared to other stats. This disappoints me; I want haste to be an awesome ability because haste is fun. Being able to do more things is more fun. Hitting harder, bleeds doing more, critting more often - these don't directly impact the rotation and ability to do actions like haste does. Sadly, haste doesn't look to be that great.

Note that if haste made dots scale, haste would immediately be competitive with crit rate and likely close to agility. Which...is what blizzard wants, right? Sigh.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

[General] Raid Warning podcast

Just FYI to everyone - I'll be on the raid warning podcast October 12th, as part of a general druid roundtable. I'm really excited to be a part of it and getting to talk with folks like Astrylian, Graylo and Lissanna.

If you have questions that you'd like raised, please send them in! I'll do my best to answer them. You can submit questions by calling in or emailing raid warning.

I'm going to try and talk about the direction ferals are going in Cataclysm, the general lack of...anything about ferals in the beta so far and what I think that means, and some ideas for how to get started in 4.0.1 without killing yourself. If you'd like to know more, let me know!

Friday, October 1, 2010

[Druid] some groovy glyphs for ferals

Thanks to lissanna over at restokin, I have a better idea of what glyphs ferals are going to want come the 4.0.1 patch. Note that it's a very good idea to pick these up now if they're cheap, as if you learn them once you'll have them for the rest of your life. Note that I've not figured out exactly what is going to be best; I'm simply posting them to let you be aware of them. They are ranked in order of what I think will be best to worst.

Bear glyphs:

I don't think the faerie fire extension will be that critical, but it might be nice. And feral charge going from 15 to 14 seconds isn't that amazing of an ability unless they remove the dead zone and allow us to charge in and get the 15% haste.


5 prime possibilities are interesting. The reason Tiger's Fury is so high right now is that Tiger's Fury appears to be one of the things they'll want ferals to manage, as it adds 15% more damage for 6 seconds. Being able to do this ability every 27 seconds instead of every 30 means that you'll get 11% more TFs in a fight, potentially, which gives a 3.2% DPS increase. Furthermore, right now DoTs don't update with buffs like TF, so you'll want to time it so that your rips and rakes are refreshed when TF is up. This might lead to an optimal rotation where you have this, the Glyph of Shred and the Glyph of Rip and skip the Glyph of Savage Roar - because if you do this you can always update your rips with 15% more DPS, no matter what. More testing is required of course.

Glyph of the Wild is included because of its ability to trigger Omen of Clarity effects very easily. With feral mana regen fairly low, being able to do this more often will be a good thing.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

[Druid]The 4.0.1 specs/gear/glyph post

Still working on the haste articles, which is proving a bit difficult in the mathy departments. The short answer is that haste is going to be awesome as long as bleeds aren't more than half our overall dps - but there's some good evidence that this might actually be the case. In which case...mastery is teh bombzors, and haste is teh sux.


Since it's very, very likely that the 4.0.1 patch is going to come out next week, I thought I'd prepare folks for the coming...uh...cata...err...patch day. Yeah, patch day. There's lots of articles about what you should be farming or what you should be doing in the final days. I just want to let you know how to gear and how to spec.

At level 80 you won't be able to get either perseverance or master shapeshifter, so you might as well go for some of the less useful talents in the tree - like Stampede and Fury Swipes. You could consider taking King of the Jungle instead if you have 4pT10, but I wouldn't bother - and definitely don't if you don't have 4pT10. Otherwise it's about as cookie-cutter as you can get; there are almost no talents in the bear arsenal that are nice to have, and most of the skipped talents are either entirely for cats or are super weak for bears.

For glyphs, here's what I'd use:
Glyph of Rip (right now you literally only have two prime glyphs for bears, so might as well)

Glyph of Maul (substitute Glyph of Rebirth for this if you like)

Not horrible, but I hate having that rip glyph.

For gear, you'll lose a LOT of extra armor from your armor rings/trinkets/cloak, so it's a good idea to pick up the higher ilvl gear without extra armor and get some of that stamina back. Double stamina trinkets are likely not a bad idea if the armor nerf on gear continues. Do consider getting non-'tank' rings and amulets as well for dual use; they'll have as much stamina as the tanking jewelry, and should be good options. As an example, the often hated Seal of Many Mouths is probably going to be one of the better pieces you can get. Remember that you'll be losing 10 expertise right off the bat, so replacing that should be up on your list; while things won't parry haste, it will be good to keep threat high. Similarly, Sindragosa's Cruel Claw should rival some of the better tanking necks out there. Gemming should almost certainly be stamina, since it now provides both health and some mitigation via vengeance-fueled Savage Defense

On reforging: haste is the least useful stat for bears given how GCD-focused they are; while it does increase rage income, it won't do so insanely well. As a result, you should consider reforging all the haste you can into mastery or dodge. My gut feeling is that your dodge% will be ridiculously high, so mastery will likely provide a better overall result of reduction of damage per point. If you really need to, get expertise or hit, but try to get pieces that have that instead.

For raiding, Bears are actually in a pretty decent spot. Their threat has been rebalanced significantly and mangle proccing off of lacerate combined with mauls every 3 seconds and very high frontloaded swipe threat and lacerate threat puts bears in a good spot. Savage Defense in a weird, backwards way ends up scaling with bosses...kinda...and certainly is better than it is now. Reforging helps bears quite a bit, and all that extra stamina on agility pieces gives bears tons of options they didn't have before. Skull bash even acts as a mini-charge of sorts, and the cooldowns are significantly better than they were. If you were tanking at a high level before, I think you'll be in great shape to tank now.

Similarly to bears, as a cat you can't get master shapeshifter, so those points have to go into the feral tree. This time, though, there are a lot more options. This build focuses more on utility and survivability, picking up Nurturing Instinct and Furor and skipping Predatory Strikes. In fact, that's the only dps-related talent that was skipped, and it was skipped because at level 80 you will have an absurd crit rate and don't need the boost to ravage.

The rotation hasn't changed at all, though the length of some of the buffs have. At level 80 it should be absurdly easy to maintain a rotation, given how fast you are with haste.

As to the glyphs, there's some interesting ones:

Glyph of Claw (which will be Glyph of FB)

Not the best options for DPS in the major glyph categories, but hopefully these will change soon.

In terms of gear, you won't have any armor pen - you'll be swimming in crit and haste. Your first goal should be to regem to hit the hit/expertise caps if you aren't already (including the missing 10 expertise from Primal Precision) then go pretty much all in on agility or haste. As I state below consider going for agility, since you can reforge to haste. Ignore crit rating; at level 80, in T10 gear that wasn't BiS, I had something like 82% crit rate. Because of that, the Arpen trinkets lose value compared to Herk or WFS, since you'll have such high crit rates anyway. DBW is still kinda awesome because of the trigger, however.

For reforging, you can't reforge to agility, so consider reforging to either haste or mastery. My money's on haste, but this is one of those things I'll have to test and retest. Numbers are (still) not remotely set in stone for ferals, so this is likely to change some. My gut feeling is that if the 4.0.1 patch comes out on Tuesday and it's anything like what we currently have, cats are going to be doing ridiculously low damage compared to what they do now - likely around half the damage. I'm not sure they're a reasonable option for any hardcore raiding at this point. Hopefully they fix things a bit more.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

[General]Cataclysm ratings

Just an aside before I start digging into haste, hit, and expertise - some of the complaints about the previous articles were that the ratings at 82 aren't the same as they are at 85. Which is true, but it doesn't matter as I was comparing them to each other.

If you're curious, the ratings at level 85 have been figured out. You can see the results thanks to Whitetooth over at EJ. They're reprinted here for ease of use at level 85.

Dodge: 176.71
Parry: 176.71
Block: 88.36
Hit: 120.109
Spell hit: 102.446
Crit: 179.28
Haste: 128.05
Expertise: 30.02
Mastery: 179.28

A druid starts with 7.4755 base crit %.
At level 85, it takes 324.85 agility to get 1% crit.

The agility to dodge conversion is unknown at this time.

The important point to note here is that everything stated before was correct. Agility is still 1.8x as expensive as crit rating to get crit. Mastery and crit rating are equivalent, and haste is much cheaper. Hit and expertise are slightly cheaper than haste per 1%.

Friday, September 17, 2010

[Cat] Cataclysm cats part 3: the case for crit

Following up on the previous articles:

Now it's time to dig into crit. And not just crit rating - but agility.

From the first article we know that crit rating and mastery rating are basically equal (at least right now) in terms of what they give, and the same amount of crit rating to give 1% crit is the same amount of mastery rating that gives 2.5% bleed damage. That's nice; it makes it very easy to equate them without going nuts.

In addition to that, agility gives crit% as well. It takes 1.8 points of agility to give the same amount of crit as 1 point of crit rating, if that helps.

How does crit help you?

Well, let's see. Crit gives you 200% damage on all critical strikes. This includes bleeds, melee, and any special attacks. The 220% boost on crits is either not implemented or purposely taken out at this point; my guess is the latter. Add the metagem into the mix, and your crits do 206% damage.

For every 1% crit you should in theory get 1% more damage, roughly. That's not exactly true. For starters, there is a cap on crit% for white attacks (76%). There's a soft cap for things like ferocious bite and ravage as well, though that doesn't often come into play. And mostly, it's a matter of degree; if you sit at 0% crit, 1% crit will increase your damage by 1%. If you're at 40% crit, the crit boost only increases your overall damage by .7% (since you can't make your crits...uh...crit again). That sounds awfully close to the mastery bonus in terms of damage potential - so are they equivalent?

Well, without knowing what the crit rates at 85 are going to be, it's hard to say. Chances are that a 40% crit rate is pretty high, actually. At level 80, assuming ICC gear you get absurd amounts of crit thanks to every bit of arpen converting to crit (almost) - but that crit decreases very fast. Instead, we'll look at median damage values for crit rates:

0%: 1% crit = 1% dps gain
20%: 1% crit = .83% dps gain
30%: 1% crit = .76% dps gain
40%: 1% crit= .71% dps gain
50%: 1% crit = .66% dps gain

Note that this is the case for bleed damage too - as your bleed damage multiplier increases, the overall damage increase each point does is less relative. The overall damage increase from a raw standpoint should the the same though, and note that in order for bleed damage to keep relative pace with crit%, bleed damage has to be around 40% of your overall damage.

Anyway, that's part of crit's success, but the neat part is when you talk about the extra combo points generated. Here's where we get more meaty bits.

The cycle in cataclysm is mostly unchanged from wotlk; you keep savage roar up, you keep rip up, and you keep rake up while shredding when you have spare energy. Rip always at 5 CP. SR when you can (and as I'll point out, it's actually a bit more efficient to SR early). The change comes from the endless carnage talent. Rake now will have a duration of 15 seconds (up from 9) and SR will add an additional 6 seconds to its duration regardless of combo points. Rip's duration is unchanged, and because the glyph of rip is being changed to a straight DPS boost instead of a duration boost, the maximum duration rip will have is 22 seconds.

This means in practice that you must generate 5 combo points every 22 seconds to keep rip up - and do three shreds in that time as well. In addition, you should be keeping Savage Roar up. For ease, I'm going to assume a 5CP savage roar, which means 40 seconds total. Realistically this means that you need to be generating 15 CP every 40 seconds or so just for the basic rotation.

That doesn't sound so bad until you look at the energy that takes. In 40 seconds you'll have 400 energy with zero haste, along with another 60 from at least one Tiger's Fury. You need energy for two rips (30 energy each, so 60 total)and a SR (25 energy) in that time, and we'll assume you're a pro at keeping rake up too - so you need energy for 2.6 rakes (90 energy). That leaves 285 energy for shreds, and shreds are 40 energy each currently.

In other words, 7 shreds. You have 2.6 rakes, 7 shreds, and you're needing to generate 15 CP in that time. The effective crit % required to keep that up is 56% if all you did was that. Now, you'll hopefully get at least one OoC proc - probably 2, so let's assume that. Even so, in that case and assuming no extra CP get wasted (going from 4 to 5) you need an effective crit rate of 30%.

So forget about ferocious biting; you won't have the CP generation. In fact, if you're below 40% crit rate, your rotation is going to be pretty horrible. Rake is the most efficient combo point generator you have, but you won't be raking that often compared to now (every 9 seconds or so vs Cataclysm's 15 seconds or so). What that implies to me is that crit is going to be very, very important early on.

Which makes sense; some of the basic advice from most ferals in the early and midtier of WotLK was to get crit at 50% at least before going for arpen, and the same advice applies here as well. Except we don't have anything like arpen in terms of boom or bust stat, so it's much more forgiving to go for.

One of the things I expect is some criticism for this post as I assumed 0% haste - which isn't realistic, not by a longshot. The point is to illustrate how important crit rate is for ferals (especially compared to mastery), not to devalue haste. I'll get into this in the next post, but as a teaser - the above assumed 0 haste. If you assume around 20% haste (which with stats and buffs is about right) you get 100 energy every 8 seconds. That means that in 40 seconds time instead of 460 energy, you get 560 energy, meaning that even in the worst case scenario (no OOC procs) you get 2.5 more shreds than the 0 hasted situation - which requires an effective rotation crit % of only 25%! if that sounds awesome, it's because it totally is. That it increases your OoC procs by 20% and increases your melee damage by 20% doesn't suck either. But like I said - we'll get into that next time.

Monday, September 13, 2010

[Cat] Cataclysm cats part 2: the case for mastery

This is the second article in the series, following up from the basic one. Today we're going to talk about mastery - and what mastery does for a cat.

Upon gaining mastery, Feral Combat specs get 8 points of mastery, which increases your bleed damage by 20%. Not bad - this would be (if on live) about a 3% DPS upgrade. Each point of mastery - which is similar to points of expertise - increases all bleed damage you do by 2.5%.

At level 82 it takes 79.15 points of mastery rating to get one point of mastery skill. This is the same value that it takes to get 1% crit from rating as well, so mastery and crit are likely equallly valued as far as gems and itemization goes. Which makes crit rating a very good comparison, overall, in terms of value.

For crit rating, since all dots can crit and all attacks can crit (up to the glancing blow cap) we have almost a pure 1% DPS upgrade per 1% crit. It's actually better than that due to how the meta works (gives 3% more crit damage), whether or not the 10% more crit damage boost is baked into the spec or not, and the addition of extra combo points on crits. But let's just assume that 1% crit only increases overall damage by 1%.

What would it take to have mastery do the same thing?

Well, simple math says that as long as bleeds are doing about 40% of your total damage, each mastery skill point will increase your DPS by 1%.

That's not how much bleeds currently do, on live. And for various reasons, that's certainly not how much damage they do in the beta, either. But that can be fixed.

In live, assuming you have a fairly good rotation and a reasonably static fight, bleeds account for about 30% of your total damage assuming 4pT10 and a high-armor pen build. (I'm basing that on my performances on Saurfang, which is a fairly good gauge of a basic single-target fight). On beta, there are a couple problems that cause this to be even worse:
  • Savage Roar was changed to only improve autoattacks - which nerfed all bleed damage and all other yellow damage by 30%. This hasn't been baked back into the yellow damage, and as a result bleeds do less.
  • While autoattack, mangle and shred are based now on weapon DPS, rip and rake are based only on AP. With the removal of Feral AP, this results in about a 30% reduction in those damage sources as well.
  • The glyphs had not been particularly well-optimized for bleed damage until recently. Both rip and shred increase rip duration, but with dot clipping gone from cataclysm duration of bleeds is not nearly as important. The new glyph of rip increases rip damage by 15%, which will help this, but shred is still suboptimal (especially since it...sigh...doesn't help with the horribly newly named talent Feast of Flesh)
Now, all of these things can be improved. And I expect some of them to be improved a great deal; rip and rake can't only scale on AP forever, for instance, and glyphs will get a serious overhaul. At the same time, other abilities will get buffed too. And while it would be an interesting way to go, it's hard for me to imagine that two bleeds will do 40% of overall damage for ferals. It's possible - but I think it's unlikely. It's more likely to me that they'll buff mastery so that it's a bit more inline with the other skill points.

In any case - my recommendation for the beta right now is to either ignore mastery or largely avoid it. I'd like it to improve; it would be very boring if the new skill we can get is basically meh. But we'll see.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

[Cat] Cataclysm cats part 1: the basics

Cataclysm changes a lot of things in terms of stat values - far more than they were changed from TBC to WotLK. While this doesn't have a huge effect on bears (the tank changes were largely around block, which bears don't have), the cat changes are pretty massive.

Agility provides 2AP
AP is gone completely
DPS of a weapon is used to calculate base ability damage
Arpen is gone completely
All bleeds can crit
Mastery exists and improves bleed damage only (the opposite of arpen, basically)
Haste improves energy regeneration as well as attack speed (ETA)

With all that, I thought I'd go through a series of articles that talks about the various ratings and what they mean. Note that I am not going to evaluate them based on the current values of damage, as they are no where near current. Instead, I'll evaluate them based on what they would do given a certain plan. That plan is based entirely on our current ratings of damage, with the savage roar change factored in.

Currently my damage spread (I'm close to BiS, so take that into consideration) is something like this:

Melee: 38%
Shred: 25%
Rake: 15%
Rip: 15%
Ferocious Bite: 6%

Savage roar is being changed from a 33% boost to all damage to a 53% boost to melee only. The new breakdown just from that would be:

Melee: 56%
Shred: 18%
Rake: 11%
Rip: 11%
Ferocious Bite: 4%

I'll be using these numbers to showcase the relative strengths and weaknesses of ratings. Note that this is in no way a perfect scenario of what Cataclysm will be like in terms of damage spread. Here's some quick thoughts on that, however:

  • I do believe melee damage will increase and yellow damage will decrease due to how Savage Roar now works.
  • Ferocious Bite will likely increase in use due to the lengthening of duration of rake and savage roar and the effects of Nom Nom Nom.
  • Because dots cannot be clipped, the uptime of dots should be very high - close to 100% with a near optimal rotation. This should increase bleed damage a small amount.
  • Because there is no armor penetration, non-bleed damage will decrease some.
  • Combo points are going to be harder to come by instantly; 4 or 5 yellow attacks are going to be necessary to get 5 CP easily due to less crit%, at least to start.
  • Hit and Expertise may be required depending on whether refunds on yellow attacks still work. I suspect the refund will be built in, but it may not be.

Now, here are the specific effects of each stat as you gain them:

1% crit:
  • At level 82, it takes 79.15 crit rating to give 1% crit
  • All of your direct damage melee attacks crit 1% more often (for 220% damage)
  • All of your bleeds crit 1% more often (for 200% damage)
  • Shred, mangle and rake provide 1% more double combo points
1% haste:
  • At level 82, it takes 56.5 haste rating to give 1% haste.
  • You attack with melee attacks 1% more often
  • Your Omen of Clarity has a greater chance to proc
  • You regenerate energy at a rate 1% greater
  • Your bleeds tick 1% faster (removed per GC recent comments)
1 point of mastery:
  • At level 82, it takes 79.15 points of mastery rating to get one mastery point.
  • All of your bleeds do 2.5% more damage
1 point of agility:
  • At level 82, it takes 143 points of agility roughly to get 1% crit.
  • Increases your attack power by 2x, increasing all damage by a small amount.
1% worth of hit:
  • At level 82, it takes 53.2 hit rating to give 1% hit.
  • Increases your chance of all abilities hitting by 1%, up to a cap.
  • Does nothing for bleed damage
  • Increases your chance for spells (FFF, hibernate, soothe) to hit by 1%
1 point of expertise:
  • At level 82, it takes 14.05 expertise rating to give 1 expertise skill. (The assumption is that this is the same value for hit as 4 expertise skill would be)
  • Increases your chance of all abilities not being dodge (or parried) by .25%, up to a cap
  • Does nothing for bleed damage
  • Does nothing for spells (growl, FFF, soothe, hibernate)

Of these, does something stand out to you? It certainly does to me. My theory going into this is that haste is going to be a very, very desirable stat for ferals - possibly the most desirable stat by a long margin. In the next few articles, I'll explore that.

Of course, this can be adjusted for ferals or whoever. The problem is that haste isn't that valuable for a lot of other classes due to the energy regeneration. My suspicion is that they're going to nerf that part hard once they see ferals and rogues going nuts with haste, but it'll be a while.