Archive for April, 2010

ICC Heroic Progression Path: 2 > 9

I’ll start off by stating simply that this is a pure bitching post, so if you aren’t into complaints then you might wanna skip this post. I’d like to address what I feel is a design flaw in progression raiding in ICC. The primary question I’d like to bring up is…

“Why is Lady Deathwhisper (Heroic) the 2nd boss in ICC, but 9th or later in terms of progression?”

When ICC was initially introduced a gating system which provided a clear and concise path to tackle new content.

  1. Storming the Citadel
  2. The Plagueworks
  3. The Crimson Hall
  4. The Frostwing Halls

At the end of each wing there was an “end” boss which rewarded you with T10 tokens, which traditionally would be what you would consider the most challenging boss in that area. Progressive guilds were able to clear the whole wing and move to the next one. Guilds that were not so fortunate ended up clearing what they could in the existing wings and moved to new bosses in the new wing. An example of this would be a guild unable to kill Professor Putricide and moving to Blood Princes/Dreamwalker instead. A good move on Blizzard’s part to allow guilds to continue experiencing new content even if they could not finish a wing.

Now, many guilds are past Arthas and are tackling heroic versions of the content. The problem here is, the logical progression path that was seen in normal ICC is completely out of wack in heroic ICC. Instead you find some encounters almost verbatim to the normal version (Gunship) and other encounters which are very out of place for the difficulty that it entails (LDW). The point of this post as mentioned above is to focus on the challenge of LDW.

First off, we killed it, it was awful, it was a bitch. That being said, most guilds are taking the path of keeping LDW as the 9th boss to tackle in the heroic progression chain only behind Sindragosa and Professor Putricide. Why is it that the 2nd boss of an instance is the 9th most challenging encounter progression wise? Below I took a screenshot of wowprogress updates in the US. As you can see PP and Sind are still the most challenging encounters on heroic but why is it that LDW is more challenging that Saurfang and BQL which technically should be more challenging as the rewards are greater?

Yes, you can switch a boss to normal mode kill it and move on to other progression fights but when you’re at 8/12 and all you have left is LDW, PP and Sind you have to make a choice and LDW is generally what people go with. This essentially forces you to work on a very early boss in the instance with a steep penalty of potentially missing out on killing farm content.

For a 3 day raid guild, time and momentum is everything. We don’t have all week to trudge through content, we need to execute and make use of our time effectively. If we don’t, we run out of time and we lose out on the rewards of raiding. So if we happen to blow a day or 2 on LDW trying to progress and experience content, we’re stuck with a day left to kill 10 more bosses. Doesn’t that seem a little unreasonable? Why should guilds be penalized for progression?

That’s my 2 cents.

Topics of the Week #3

I decided to create a new category (Topics of the Week) as I find sometimes (more and more often) there will be random bits of information that don’t warrant a whole post but I do want to share so I think I will be creating more of these types of posts in the future. Here are the topics for Week #17 of 2010.

Blue Posts of Interest

Blizzard just had another Twitter Developer discussion and here are the points that were of interest to me. A full summary can be found here.

Q: Do you intend to have all 280% flying mounts scale to 310% when a 310% mount is earned, or will only purchased mounts do so?
A: Our current plan, is that in Cataclysm, you can learn a new rank of flying that lets all flying mounts move at 310% (even current 280% mounts). That will probably be as fast as mounts will ever get. We don’t like it that when you get a 310% mount that you stop using your old ones.

I expect a lot of complaints from this but I don’t see why every player shouldn’t be entitled to the same flying speed. Whether it be a PVE raider, PVP centric player or just a casual.

Q: With armor class bringing mastery bonuses, will players never want to “downrank” from, say, leather to cloth?
A: That’s the idea, really. They still can wear the older armor, but they’ll lose some stats from doing so.

Fantastic! Now hopefully rets/war’s will stop trying to take my leather gear!

Q: How will haste affect channeled spells. Will it be similar to DoTs and HoTs?
A: They will channel faster but their duration will remain unchanged. You will get more ticks on the same cast.

Something we already knew but more confirmation that haste will become an extremely important stat in Cataclysm

Q: Can you make crowd control in raids and 5-mans an important aspect of the PvE game again?
A: An emphatic yes.

*Two Thumbs Up* While I am not a huge fan of extremely complex trash packs (ex. C’thun Trash), I am a big proponent of having trash that gives a preview of the next bosses abilities so that you have some experience and practice by the time you reach the next boss. Its important that trash be something challenging so that people don’t afk/zone out and just mash aoe buttons until its dead. Blizzard has always stated there is a purpose to trash so I am glad to see they are bringing it back.

New Dungeons & Raids in Cataclysm

Some pretty exciting new posts describing what content is coming in Cataclysm. I’m particularly interested in Mount Hyjal which I am hoping wont be a rehash of the old version but will be a new and improved experience. From the description it sounds like it will, and seeing as this heavily involves Malfulrion Stormrage, can we say Feral Legendary? (Please?)

New Blizzard Store Items

Blizzard introduced two new items recently into the Blizzard Store for purchase which had a pretty big impact on in game life. First off it was the extremely annoying Lil’XT which for those who actually play with game sounds undoubtedly have turned it off by now. Hearing XT’s whiney game sounds within Ulduar is one thing but to hear it nonstop in front of South Bank is extremely painful. So annoying that Blizzard has decided to “temporarily” turn it off.

Quote from: Vaneras (Source)
A hotfix was recently applied, which temporarily disabled some of the sounds Lil’ XT makes.The issue was that some of his sounds were flagged in such a way that they play for everyone around him and not just the player that owns the pet, an annoying problem to be sure. We can’t alter volume or who the sounds play for through a hotfix so the temporary workaround is to disable them completely right now until the proper fix can be patched in later.

The second and probably the most controversial is the introduction of the Celestial Steed. This marks the first time that Blizzard has moved away from in game pets and introduced an actual mount for real currency. During the data mining of 3.3.3 when this mount was discovered it looked fantastic and there were tonnes of speculation as to where this mount came from. I won’t lie as I was definitely on board with getting one until I found out that it was obtained through the store and when I logged on to see every fucking person on Auchindoun with one. While it has a great look its quickly turned into the default mount for casuals replacing Reins of the Bronze Drake (From Culling of Stratholme) or the Jenkins Mount as I like to refer to it. We all play this game for different reasons and some may call it elitist but I don’t like using items/titles that everyone else uses. I invest time into earning titles/achievements/mounts and I for one will display it (flaunt it) every chance I get. For all those out there showing off your Celestial Steed, just remember 3 letters: TRH

Flying at South Bank

A few weeks ago I made a post describing the different places that you can fly on your flying mount within Dalaran. A commenter added some feedback which greatly simplifies the challenge of landing in South Bank. Thanks to Samskeyti for the tip! Updates can be found on the original post here.

Hello from South Bank!

Counteracting Pre Patch/Expansion Blues

Jace has recently posted about things to do to counteract the pre expansion blues. Most casuals and casual raiding guilds have probably already hit their road block and are starting to tail off and its something that always happens. While we (Daybreak) haven’t quite hit that point yet, things are noticeably starting to slow down. We have made some fantastic progress through ICC Heroics and we’re standing at 11/12 ICC10 Heroic and 9/12 ICC25 Heroic. I think my goals are to complete ICC10 heroic and to complete 11/12 ICC25 heroic. I’m realistic, I know my guild isn’t bleeding edge and if we do happen to manage to kill Arthas on 25 man heroic, that’s just gravy on top.

What else am I doing to keep busy?

  1. The Insane (Yes really)
  2. Trying to get 100% of all enchanting recipes (Sitting at 96.3%)
  3. Doing a lot of old content

Rarren the Insane?

As mentioned above, I decided recently to start my quest for The Insane title. Yes it’s insane, its crazy what the hell am I thinking? I am not pushing hard to complete it in the shortest amount of time but I figured it was time that I at least start and work on it casually. I decided to add a tab to track my progress and I will post and give some insight into how things are going. If you’re interested in tracking my progress you can find it here.

Shadowmourne Rewards – Once Per Legendary

World of Raids is reporting that the flavor items from killing LK with a Shadowmourne is a once per legendary drop (link). Say it ain’t so Blizz, say it ain’t so!


Heroic: Professor Putricide

So I finally remembered to take some screenshots and by some I mean one, which does helps to illustrate one of the points I wanted to make. It’s so very hard for me to remember to take screenshots mid fight as quite frankly my mind really isn’t thinking about it with everything else going on. There’s also the challenge of getting into the right position to take the screenshot so that it illustrates my points effectively which again is challenging. However I am happy to say I can finally make this post as I think the shots are adequate! The screenshots are from different kills (one as resto one as kitty) in case you were wondering why it looks different.

Heroic Professor Putricide

From a progression point of view, this is probably one of the last bosses you will want to take on but I do like the heroic mode concepts of this fight which is why I wanted to discuss this second. Also by this time I would assume many people have already gotten to or near the end of Heroic ICC10 so this may be a good time to discuss PP as some folks out there may find this useful in their efforts to progress in ICC 10 heroic.

Normal vs Heroic Mode

There are several unique changes to this fight:

  1. PP gains an ability called Unbound Plague (Inflicts damage every 1 sec, the damage is increased every second the Blight remains on you!  If you get too near to a friendly target, you will transfer the Plague from you to them.)
  2. PP will no longer Tear Gas during transitions (80% & 35%) instead he will spawn both Gas Cloud & Volatile Ooze at the same time

The challenges that are introduced naturally are the management of Unbound Plague and also the management of both cloud/ooze at the same time during the transition.

Keys to the Fight

  1. Quick Add Switches
  2. Unbound Plague Management
  3. Transition Control

The first point is true for whether you are doing PP on normal or heroic. Its very easy (and I’m definitely one of “those” people) to just sit on PP and nuke his ass to rack your meters up. But to do this on heroic mode you have to have the discipline to be ready to switch as soon as adds spawn and take them down quickly. The faster they die, the less damage done to your target and less chances that the raid will take unnecessary damage, the happier your healers will be.

Unbound Plague is probably the primary reason that most guilds will wipe to this. It is a debuff that deals damage to  a specific target and continues to increase in damage until it is dropped off onto another raid member. Once it is dropped off the prior target will get  Plague Sickness which will increase shadow damage by 250% so essentially you are unable to take the plague again. Thus it is critical to continue dropping the plague off to other members of the raid until the plague duration has worn off (1 min total).

During transitions the management of both Ooze and Cloud are extremely important, the positioning of the raid and dps priorities are critical to ensuring that the adds time in a timely fashion while at the same time mitigating the damage taken by the raid.

Composition

Similar to Saurfang, we used a 2 tank, 2 healer, 6 dps group composition. A resto druid really shines in this fight as the ability to prehot the raid during transitions significantly helps to reduce the chance of getting exploded by Volatile Ooze.

Strategy

Many aspects of the fight in normal can be applied to the strategy for heroic mode. You’ll still need to be rotating from left/right tanking PP on the opposite side of where the ooze is going to spawn. The key is to have your raid spread out so that the initial application of Unbound Plague is only applied to one person. We generally try and stand in a straight line so that there is no confusion as to who the plague is getting dropped on. Depending on how much range you have, this will dictate how long you hold the Plague for. If you have a lot of range you can drop the plague every10s if you have only a few range drop it every 15s.

Note the red line I've drawn through all the range in the raid. Notice how clear it is the path in which the plague will travel. In this case, I was the first person to get the plague (notice the debuff) and I just dropped the plague off to our hpal to the left.

Timing of the transitions is naturally important (just like in normal mode). Make sure you don’t bring PP in just as he’s casting another add as there is the potential of getting a 3rd add (we got 2 ooze and 1 slime once!). Once he does go in though, the key is to immediately stack right on the spawn point of the Volatile Ooze (Green). The reason for this is so that as soon as it becomes active, everyone must immediately start dpsing. You wont be able to kill it before it selects a target so it will explode on you. This is why its important that you all stack and face the same direction. Once everyone is pushed back, if the raid was facing the same direction you should all be close to each other so that you can quickly run back to the next target that the ooze will select. Do not kitty charge back in as being there first is not important, in fact being there before anyone else most likely will mean you’ll get instagibbed since the rest of the raid is not around to soak the dmg dealt.

At the same time that this is going on, one of your raid members will also get targeted by the Gas Cloud, the target selection should happen right around the same time that the Volatile Ooze selection happens so the target should get pushed back just as they get targeted. This person should start kiting the Gas Cloud as you would in normal while the rest of the raid deals with the Ooze. So in other words, the priority is Ooze (Green) -> Cloud (Orange). Once both adds are dead, you will have free reign to move around and in most cases, time to pump some extra dps into PP. He will be stationary so you should get over to him and hit him up.

This is us grouping at the first (80%) transition. Notice the folks in the green box are stacked right on top of the green ooze. Also note that the healers (in red box) did not, on this kill we did not use a resto druid so they stayed out to continue healing. Also notice the hunter (in red box) that is way off to the left, this is a prime example of what NOT to do.

As mentioned above the transition will happen twice (80% and 35%) and the unbound plague will happen throughout the fight (p1, p2 and p3). There is a cooldown on the plague (I believe 1 min) so there will be periods in which you will not have to worry about the plague. Once you reach P3 it will be exactly like normal mode + unbound plague. Again make sure you spread out, and manage the plague accordingly and that’s all she wrote.

Other Tips

  • Unbound Plague can be cast on anyone including melee and tanks, when it is about to be cast (off cooldown) make sure the whole raid spreads out including melee so that it is not accidentally spread to several people at the start. It is more important to ensure that only 1 target gets it vs pushing dps
  • If a melee gets the plague first, have them immediately drop it off on a ranged so that they can go back into melee range and continue dpsing w/o fear of dropping the plague on another melee or tank
  • All ranged should spread in a line so that it is clear who is taking the plague next, and to ensure that it is not applied to any extra people
  • During transition, try your absolute hardest to not only fact the same direction, but stack as if your raid were one person so that the angle at which they are punted back is exactly the same. If someone is facing slightly to the left or right they will get punted out off on their own which can cause problems
  • If an unbound plague target is selected by the volatile ooze, have someone quickly pull it off them so that if stacking is required the whole raid does not get the plague, and so that the target does not take plague + ooze damage at the same time. Naturally the person that steals it should stay out of the raid group and soak the plague while the rest of the raid kills the ooze.
  • As Kitties, always try and get a fresh set of dots up on PP before transitions so that they continue to roll as you deal with adds. However do not put them up at the expense of using all your energy is dpsing adds has higher priority to dpsing PP
  • Use Feral Charge generously to jump back to PP after dealing with adds

Up Next: Heroic Sindragosa (if I can remember to take screenshots!)

Cataclysm Kitty Kat Reflections

Well fellow Kitties, the big news is here! On Friday Blizzard posted a snippet of what’s in store for us in Cataclysm. I decided to wait a few days before giving some thoughts because as we’ve seen with the previous class updates, Blizard has taken the time to answer questions and give further insight on what they’ve previewed. A lot of additional information has been since released and its time to take a step back and try and understand their bigger picture for kitty kats. Remember, this is a kitty blog so I will not be discussing any of the changes related to bears, chickens or trees. After all, all we care about is FITE!

Summary:

  1. Official Blizzard Druid Preview
  2. MMO-Champion Highlighted Blue Info
  3. MMO-Champion complete Blue Tracker

Preview Highlights:

Stampeding Roar (Level 83): The druid roars, increasing the movement of all allies within 10 yards by 40% for 8 seconds. Stampeding Roar can be used in cat or bear form, but bears might have a talent to drop the cooldown. The goal of this ability is to give both bears and cats a little more situational group utility. 3-minute cooldown. No cost.

We want to add tools to cat form and depth to bear form. If a Feral cat is going to fill a very similar niche to that of a rogue, warrior or Enhancement shaman, it needs a few more tools — primarily a reliable interrupt. Bears need to be pushing a few more buttons just so the contrast between tanking and damage-dealing is not so steep.

We will be buffing the damage of Mangle (cat) significantly so that when cat druids cannot Shred, they are not at such a damage-dealing loss.

We want to make the Feral cat damage rotation slightly more forgiving. We do not want to remove what druids like about their gameplay, but we do want to make it less punishing to miss, say, a Savage Roar or Rake. The changes here will be on par with increasing the duration of Mangle like we did for patch 3.3.3.

We plan on giving Feral cats and bears a Kick/Pummel equivalent — an interrupt that is off the global cooldown and does no damage. We feel like they need this utility to be able to fill the melee role in a dungeon or raid group, and to give them more PvP utility.

Follow-up Highlights:

Lack of new spells for Feral cat and Restoration specs
We didn’t add new rotational spells to Restoration or Feral cat because, good lord, you have enough buttons already. We tried hard with Cataclysm to not add new spells just because. The specs that got new spells were ones we think had big holes in their rotation. You’ll still get new talents and mechanics so I expect there will be a lot to learn when the big game-changing patch rolls around. (Source)

Cat/Bear forms level requirements
It won’t be super low level, but we might switch the levels at which you get cat and bear. (Source)

Feral cat changes
The recent Mangle change is a good example. Other candidates include letting Rake last longer, changing Mangle’s damage such that it’s not such a gigantic dps loss not to Shred, and / or changing the bonus of Savage Roar so that it’s not such a crippling dps loss if it falls off. Using Savage Roar after a target with cps on it has died will help too.

We still want the John Madden crowd to be able to try and maximize their dps. We just want players not playing at that level to not be so far behind (though behind is fine). (Source)

Rarren’s Thoughts:

First off, I try not to put any ideas into my head before previews because I’m generally wrong and I try not to level set myself into thinking of awesome ideas and getting let down. After reading it all (several times) I’ve tried to think about the direction that Blizzard is trying to take with feral dps. I mean sure I could go through each line and say “cool” or “not cool” but whats the bigger picture that they are moving towards. With that, this is what I am taking from the preview:

  1. Greater Utility: If we are supposed to truly embrace the “bring the class, not the player’ philosophy then yes this is the direction that needs to be taken. Trying to interrupt as a kitty kat is brutal, trying to keep dots up while leaving a spare combo point and pooling enough energy to apply the maim (which has a cooldown) is absolutely ludicrous. If anyone thinks this isnt a challenge feel free to try and interrupt on General Vezax and dps at the same time you’ll know what I mean. As for the new ability (Stampeding Roar) its an interesting idea which could be used specific situations. Its something that no other class has that can continue to increase the value of a feral druid in raid compositions. Good ideas on how it could be used in ICC could be running from Marrowgar Bonestorm, Rotface Unstable Ooze Explosion, Blood-Queen Lana’thel Bloodbolt Whirl, Lich King Defile. Those are just a few situations that it could be useful, but the more interesting point for me is that its another complexity into feral dps mechanics that require you to manage your energy and cp’s effectively to maintain your dots while providing this additional buff to the raid.
  2. Buffing Mangle Damage: This is a dangerous idea. A significantly buffed Mangle with a Glyph of Mangle with 10% increased damage has the potentially to cause a complete change of feral dps mechanics. The fear is suddenly the damage output is so high that you can completely ignore Shred (and its challenging positional requirement) and just mangle spam, essentially simplifying feral dps for the same results and creating crazy discussions like trying to use 4pt6 just to up your damage. There are few and far fights that have positional requirements that force you to mangle spam exclusively. The only fight I can think of off the top of my head is Kologarn. So while it may be a nice change to avoid dropping our dps significantly, is it really worth all the trouble for such unique situational fights?
  3. JOHN FUCKING MADDEN: Even with the potentially devastating buffing mangle damage idea, I am taking away from this preview post positive vibes for several reasons. First, they are making the rotation more forgiving but at the same time, adding new utility that will add new challenges, which will keep gameplay challenging but through new challenges. Secondly, they aren’t adding new abilities because they understand how challenging feral dps already is and how delicate it would be to suddenly introduce new talents. This also gives me hope that they will understand how to address point 2.  Finally and most importantly JOHN FUCKING MADDEN, yup they get it, help casuals but keep challenging progression raiders. Right on Blizzard.

Speccing the 3.3.3 Kitty Kat

This post is going to be pretty short and sweet. As you all know two weeks ago, 3.3.3 introduced a new Mangle change:

Mangle: The debuff from this talent now lasts 60 seconds, up from 12 seconds.

Most kitty kats rejoiced at this change since there was essentially no longer a requirement to keep mangle up (or only a need to put it up once every 60s). This helps to simplify the challenging rotation we have while at the same time increasing the dps output possible with less energy being spent on mangle. For those who are lucky enough to have a bear tank or arms warrior (or both like me!) there was no change at all in rotation or dps output.

There is a fundamental spec change that needs to be made for those who are manglebots in their raid. Previously there was a need to spec 3/3 Improved Mangle to reduce the energy cost. Now that Mangle lasts for 60s there is absolutely no reason to spend 3 talent points into an ability that is used once every minute or 3-6 times on an average fight. Instead this frees up 3 points that can be spent elsewhere. First your base spec should be this (0/52/16) leaving 3 points remaining. I don’t think anyone would debate my choice here as this is pretty cookie cutter stuff. The question now is, where to put the last 3 points? I would say you really have 3 potential paths, each of which is viable depending on your raid composition and environment.

Increased DPS: Drop your remaining 3 points into Feral Aggression and bump it from 2/5 to 5/5 increasing Ferocious Bite damage from 6% to 15% (Build)

Personally this is where I drop my points and this is the spec I’ve used for a very long time (even pre 3.3.3). Now I know there are a lot of haters out there that think Ferocious Bite is a useless ability and is not worth the points but I strongly disagree. It has its uses and its utility increases as you get closer and closer to the crit cap. The more and more you crit, the easier and faster you gain combo points, the more excess energy you will have which can be dumped using Ferocious Bite (as long as your dots are rolling). Mind you, its not a lot of extra dps, but if you want to optimize and generate your maximum output this is where you want to invest your points.

Increased Survivability: Drop 2 points into 2/2 Nurturing Instinct to increase healing to you by 20% and the last point into Survival Instincts (Build)

If you have a tendency to lag, have bad fps, have slower reaction times or if your healers are not as quick on the uptake, survivability may outweigh 9% increased damage on an ability that is used sparingly and very select situations. In most raids, surviving is much more important than a few extra dps you can squeeze out and there’s always a chance that a tank will die and you may be called upon to quickly shift into Bear Form and tank. Points invested here will go a long way to keeping you and your raid alive.

Increased Raid Utility: Drop 3 points into 3/3 Infected Wounds, slowing target mobility by 50% and attack speed by 20% (Build)

This is completely dependent on your raid composition but if an attack speed slow debuff isn’t being applied (on a regularly basis) its probably best that you invest your points into Infected Wounds. A few other classes can provide this (DK: Icy Touch, Paladin: Judgement of the Just, Warrior: Thunderclap) so take a look at your raid comp and find out if this debuff is already provided.

Finally, these suggestions are generalized to focus on one of the three categories. There is nothing stopping you from mixing and matching to get a combination of benefits. For example, you could spec 4/5 Feral Aggression and spend 1 point into Survival Instincts. Hopefully you’ve already made the adjustment and removed the 3 points from Imp Mangle but if you haven’t take these points into consideration when you make the switch.


I’m Retired!

As of 04/04/2011, I have officially retired from WOW. This blog will remain as a archived resource for those who know that CAT DRUID IS 4 FITE!

About Me

A blog for the ramblings and thoughts of Vallen, a full time raiding cat druid from Auchindoun-US with a passion for raiding & achievements. An avid wow player since 2004.

For any questions or concerns contact me via comments or e-mail

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Amani War Bear
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Master Builder's Shirt
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Commander
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Tabard of the Lightbringer

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