Feral druid and PTR 4.1

Patch 4.1 has been in Public Test Realms for quite a while – and it is probable it will be at least a few more weeks before patch hits the live servers. Once again, there are quite a few changes for feral druids – and no new notes/changes lately, so presumably devs have the druid where they want us to be in this patch.

I am going to analyze the changes mostly from PvE perspective, as I haven’t done much PvP on my druid since 4.0.6 nerfed us to the ground and then some. As always, these are my opinions and not the absolute, final truth.

Changes

  • Prowl has a new icon.
  • Stampeding Roar’s duration has been increased to 8 seconds, up from 6. The movement speed effect has been increased to 60%, up from 40%.
  • Swipe (Bear) cooldown has been reduced to 3 seconds, down from 6.
  • Feral Swiftness now also causes Dash and Stampeding Roar to have a 50/100% chance to instantly remove all movement impairing effects from the affected targets when used.
  • Glyph of Rake is now Glyph of Pounce, which increases the range of Pounce by 3 yards.
  • The troll druid models for Flight Form and Swift Flight Form has slimmed down to be more in scale with other druid flight forms.

Analysis

ability_druid_prowl

Prowl has a new icon. Oh joy, let me dance naked in moonlight until Elune blesses me </sarcasm>. Pretty pointless change – and I must say that at least right now I like the old icon way, way more than the new one. Oh well, at least there is a cat head on it. Maybe I will get used to it.

Stampeding Roar’s duration has been increased to 8 seconds, up from 6. The movement speed effect has been increased to 60%, up from 40%. Pointless ability stays pretty pointless for PvE, but will have quite a bit of use in PvP – more on that a few notes down.

Swipe (Bear) cooldown has been reduced to 3 seconds, down from 6. Seems we’re back to Swipe spam for AoE tanking. On one hand, (especially low-level) druid AoE tanking needed a buff, but I would have liked a better solution – perhaps along the lines of “if you use Thrash on a target with Lacerate, all targets of Thrash will be affected by Lacerate or it will be renewed”. You know, like Blood and Thunder allows warriors to have Rend on every target affected by Thunder Clap.

This would have made druid AoE tanking at least somewhat more interesting. Of course, fiddling with Lacerate strength and Mangle procs would have been needed, and so forth, but bears need a total overhaul pretty badly. More on that topic in another post.

Feral Swiftness now also causes Dash and Stampeding Roar to have a 50/100% chance to instantly remove all movement impairing effects from the affected targets when used. Yes, devs finally realized what every PvP’ing druid has said since the 4.0.6 notes emerged – we became the only melee class with no ability whatsoever to alleviate roots. We are sitting ducks for Frost mages, Balance druids and so forth.

And what’s more, Stampeding Roar is AoE effect! Only 10 yards, but think of the fights in Arathi Basin base – or Tol Barad – when Frost mage roots everybody in place and proceeds with Blizzard to deal a huge amounts of damage. Not only will the feral be able to free everybody, but also give them speed boost to reach the said mage (or at least move out of the Blizzard faster). 2 minutes cooldown on the ability means we’ll be able to use it fairly often, but not constantly.

Overall, a good solution. This will give at least some viability back to feral PvP.

Glyph of Rake is now Glyph of Pounce, which increases the range of Pounce by 3 yards. Glyph of Rake prevented PvE targets from fleeing and was moderately useful while questing. In raid/instance/PvP, however, it was more or less useless. 3 added yards to Pounce means we can stun enemies from a bit further, giving them less chance to detect a prowling cat. I am unsure how much actual use this will have… we shall have to wait and see.

All in all, Swipe and Feral Swiftness changes are the biggest for us in this patch. First will help in tanking quite a bit, the second will bring some life to feral PvP. Both changes are really badly needed, if not quite all we could have wished for.

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Funniest dialog in the game

Assistant Greely
Loudspeaker: Zeppelin arrival in six minutes.

Hobart Grapplehammer: Boarding the Spear of Durotar, are we? You are to be envied, Horde marine!
Hobart Grapplehammer: You are about to rip the horizon a new sky-hole aboard a sensational new era in aeronautical innovation.
Hobart Grapplehammer: It’s been recklessly engineered with a merciless disregard for both budgetary concerns and those cumbersome, inefficient “laws of physics.”
Assistant Greely: Not a penny was wasted on comfort or personal safety!
Hobart Grapplehammer: While you wait for its arrival, my assistant and I will momentarily demonstrate some of the features of this remarkable aircraft.

Loudspeaker: Zeppelin arrival in five minutes.

Hobart Grapplehammer: As you know, air weighs nothing. So to create a lighter-than-air vessel, we had to bend a few rules.
Assistant Greely: We bent the crap outta them!
Hobart Grapplehammer: The Spear of Durotar is filled to the bursting point with combustible, super-heated gas.
Hobart Grapplehammer: Bilgewater engineers have taken advantage of its inherent high-altitude instability and resultant low-cost.
Assistant Greely: We passed the savings on to us.
Hobart Grapplehammer: We’ve mitigated the explosive instability of the gas by putting it under IMMENSE pressure.
Hobart Grapplehammer: Doing so required the removal of a number of safety valves that kept erupting.
Assistant Greely: Ask yourself: what good is a “safety” valve if it keeps going off? That doesn’t sound very safe to me.

Loudspeaker: Zeppelin arrival in four minutes.

Assistant Greely: Tell ‘em about the engines, boss.
Hobart Grapplehammer: Oh my, yes. In order to maximize both range and payload, we’ve concocted an unorthodox blend of rocket fuels for the state-of-the-art engines.
Assistant Greely: We call it “Doom Juice.”
Hobart Grapplehammer: It is so energy-dense as to combust at the slightest provocation.
Assistant Greely: Even verbal.
Hobart Grapplehammer: This stuff is so volatile, it probably shouldn’t be moved. Much less… flown.
Assistant Greely: To ensure a crew response in case of a fire, fuel storage has been moved away from the crew quarters and placed beneath the passenger compartment.

Loudspeaker: Zeppelin arrival in three minutes.

Hobart Grapplehammer: Your course today will take you directly across the great sea.
Hobart Grapplehammer: An enormous, unforgiving expanse of pounding grey waves, freezing temperatures, and ravenous sea life.
Assistant Greely: In the unlikely event of a water “landing,” please reach under your seat cusion where a cyanide capsule has been located for your convenience.
Hobart Grapplehammer: Trust me, friend, a rapid pill-induced death is far preferable to the long, agonizing process of hypothermia and subsequent dismemberment by sharks.
Assistant Greely: For those of you allergic to almonds, our cyanide capsules come in an assortment of other flavors.
Hobart Grapplehammer: Don’t ask how we know what they taste like.
Assistant Greely: You’ll also find a complimentary bag of peanuts.

Loudspeaker: Zeppelin arrival in two minutes.

Hobart Grapplehammer: Should your zeppelin be attacked en-route, panic is advisable.
Hobart Grapplehammer: Instead, look for a number of deck-mounted flak cannons positioned for just such an emergency.
Assistant Greely: Nothing keeps a fleet of combustible dirigibles safer than randomly flinging molten metal in every conceivable direction!
Hobart Grapplehammer: Greely, show them how the guns work.
Assistant Greely: With Pleasure!
Hobart Grapplehammer: Simply aim and pull the trigger. Or don’t aim. I wash my hands of the whole thing.
Assistant Greely: I can hit my house from here!

((Greely proceeds to fire off a few shots.))

Hobart Grapplehammer: Greely, you’re not randomly firing that thing into Bilgewater Port, are you?
Assistant Greely: No.
Assistant Greely: Maybe.
Assistant Greely: A little.

Loudspeaker: Zeppelin arrival in one minute. One minute.

Hobart Grapplehammer: In the unlikely event that a catastrophic failure does not instantly kill everyone aboard…
Hobart Grapplehammer: …a number of parachutes will appear along the railings.
Assistant Greely: We call them “Emergency Rampless Debarkation Devices.”
Hobart Grapplehammer: Simply grab a nearby parachute to be vaulted clear of the burning zeppelin. Hopefully onto dry land.
Hobart Grapplehammer: Greely, would you like to demonstrate how our parachutes work?
Assistant Greely: Oh hells no! Those things are death-traps!
Hobart Grapplehammer: Very well then. I see that the Spear of Durotar has almost arrived.
Hobart Grapplehammer: Your safety and well-being are no longer any concern of mine.
Assistant Greely: From all of us at Bilgewater Harbor…
Hobart Grapplehammer & Assistant Greely: Have fun storming the Highlands!.

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Look at the item before you click!

Grips of the Fallen Immortal

Grips of the Fallen Immortal

My warrior is finally at 85 – that took more than a month, thanks to all the battlegrounds! And as my first level 85 random (normal) dungeon, I happened to get Halls of Origination.

The group was pretty decent, good shammy healer and my tanking gear was actually enough to get into the heroics, average item-level-wise. So we went through the Temple Guardian Anhuur easily enough – and when we killed the next group…

Suddenly, an item dialog. PURPLE item dialog!!!

The very first Cataclysm world epic I have seen dropping.  Grips of the Failed Immortal, bind on equip – but not a single clothie in the party, so we all pressed Greed.

Except a hunter. Who pressed Disenchant. And won.

Yes. Instead of roughly 10 000..12 000 gold world epic, he got Maelstrom Crystal, which costs between 1000 and 2000G – and after 4.1, the price will drop to 200..300G range. We stand there, stupefied… and he says he didn’t look before pressing.

So next time, please, please – just look what you are getting before clicking the Disenchant button!

The same hunter managed to pull Earthrager Ptah with auto-shot. After we had killed the boss, he left. I am willing to bet he wasn’t overly proud of himself just then.

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Are game masters picking easier tickets first?

Game masters“You have been chosen to fill out a survey”. That is the text you see after every time you open a ticket and it gets a response – whether the response is just an in-game mail or chat with them. “Chosen” in that light is rather weird anyway, but that isn’t an issue I wanted to discuss.

I’ve filed quite a few tickets these last couple of months – from speedhack users to battleground bots, from abusive players to quest and world bugs. And I think I have noticed a weird trend – I may not be right about this, though.

“Easier” tickets are picked up far quicker than harder ones. For example, battleground bot report was “Queue 6h 42 min”, but in reality GM talked with me in less than 45 minutes. A quest issue – reported queue about 2h, 4h later I log out – to find in-game mail response next afternoon. Similar queue bumps/drops have happened quite a few times.

It may be that they are handled differently – a bot in the battleground gets a higher priority than issue with a quest – but I am not sure. This has happened with too varied ticket types.

I wonder if there are two reasons, actually.

Firstly, the human dimension. Simpler issues take less time to handle – and as a result, you’ll get more tickets done per shift. This will look good to your supervisor – “Good work, Tim! 316 tickets today, while Thomas did only 167! You are in hotline for a promotion!”.

Secondly, GM can handle small issue quickly and satisfy you, the player, easily in the process. Which means you are more prone to give good marks to him/her in the survey. But a quest or dungeon bug cannot be handled by GM – he will have to do a bug report the bugtracker, it gets verified by a tester, ticket is assigned to the programmers, who will eventually do a server hotfix, or in worst case, fix will have to wait until the next patch comes out.

So the player will not get a quick fix for an issue – which means worse grades in the survey. Which will add up – and I suspect the survey is used in GM evaluations quite a lot. That is only normal, Blizzard wants us to be happy with GM’s. Why else do you think they are required to ask in the end “Can I help you with something else?”

Don’t be too hard on GM’s, though – they are doing a fairly thankless and low-paid job. Sure, they are glamorous for us players – blue clothes, special GM skills, spells, weapons, GM island, power over us and so forth. But in many ways, it is a dead-end job. Maybe one out of eight will be promoted to a supervisor, one out of sixty to a shift manager. Some will become in-house testers. But that is it. GM won’t become, say, a designer or programmer. In many ways, GM job could be compared to a job in the fast food chain…

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Ganking, corpse camping and world PvP – is there a solution?

PvPLast week, the Big Bear Butt wrote about his experience with a corpse camping asshat, probably the lowest tier of behavior in WoW, even worse than killing quest-givers, auctioneers and traders of the opposite faction.

Thankfully, I have no personal familiarity with the corpse camping, in either way. I never attack players so much lower than my character, that they are gray or green. What’s the point? What do I get if I one-shot someone? I won’t get any honor. I don’t get satisfaction from my superior skills. So why should I grief another player? We are all humans behind the controls, despite being in Horde or Alliance.

I love battlegrounds, but I don’t care much for world PvP. It tends to be too uneven and random for me.

I’ve levelled my warrior mostly doing PvP battlegrounds – and while waiting in the battlegrounds que, I’ve been either questing or mining metals for blacksmithing. Surprisingly, on my medium-level population server, I’ve been killled only twice by higher-level players, both of them rogues. One of them might have been an accident, I was in the middle of group of mobs in Archaeology dig site when the rogue cleared the spot with Flurry.

The other… I was doing Thunderdome quests in Gadzetzan,  a very easy questline to solo if you have heirlooms or otherwise good gear. Between two quests, battleground came up, another WSG, we won. I got back, flagged for five minutes. Heard someone stealthing, but didn’t think of it much, just continued with the arena quests. Picked up the next, went in and started to fight… when a lvl 85 rogue one-shotted me from the stealth. Not a hard thing to do, as I had something like 3k life at the time.

But what the asshat rogue didn’t count on was… we were at Gadzetzan. The moment he ganked me, several level 85 Gadzetzan Bruisers descended on him – and the rogue died about five seconds after me. And unlike my PvP death, he had to pay for full repairs.

I think I am going to take my mid-fourties kitty and sit in Gadzetzan, flagged. Just to teach morons a lesson.

“Guardian angels from heaven” might be a good solution for PvP ganking. If you attack a lower-level character, suddenly you have to deal with three mobs who hit for 100k each. And your death would be a PvE death, with a nice fat repair bill. So go ahead, kill that level 12 player and feel like a Big Man, as long as you are willing to do a corpserun and pay 20G for repairs.

However, even more elegant solution would be a relative health and damage. I.e. if you attack player more than a couple of levels below you, your health, mitigation, skills and damage will be what your class and spec would have at his level. That would apply only to the lower-level player – if he has a level 85 player with him, then the max-level char would see your normal health and feel your normal damage.

This would mean that all world PvP would come down to skill (if you ignore class/spec differences). You cannot feel you are a PvP god by griefing low-level characers… you would have to actually be good at PvP to kill them.

Would Blizzard implement this? Unfortunately, probably never. Technically it would be a breeze. But I doubt that Blizzard cares about griefing low-lives, as long as Blizzard gets their subscription money.

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Levelling a warrior

Recent lack of druid-related (or any) posts in this blog is largely because I’ve been levelling a warrior.

As I have said before, I have very little experience with two classes – warrior and hunter. All other classes I have either at 80/85 or mid-fifties in case of the shaman. But I had very little understanding of warrior mechanics and abilities – so I decided to give warrior a chance.

My previous attempt with a warrior was actually my very first character in WoW. A human warrior on a trial account… and I freaking hated it. Didn’t like neither the class or the whole game – and that would have been the end of World of Warcraft for me, if not a certain female friend, who urged me to try it together with her. So I started a Night Elf rogue – and have never looked back at the warrior. Until now, that is.

I created an orc warrior – and levelled it as prot until level 50, arms after that – he is 67 right now, probably will be mid-seventies by the end of the week.

Most of my levelling so far was done on battlegrounds – I must say I loved prot warrior in PvP. Good damage, great survivability – casters were a bit of a problem, though. Loved the fact that rogues might as well run head-on against the wall instead of attempting to solo me.

In the late 40s I started to notice that my damage was getting a bit low compared to the other warriors – and so I dual specced into Arms. Fellow plate-wearers – DK’s, paladins and warriors – became a whole lot easier to counter. Rogues were a bit more of a problem, hunters and frost mages a whole lot of a problem.

But then again, frost mage and a warrior… if you don’t manage to kill a warrior as a frost mage, then you might as well go play some other class. I loved warriors when I played my own frost mage – free honor, even if they were a lot of levels above me.

We’ll see how casters will go down now when I finally got the spell reflect ability.

I didn’t go to instances until Outland – Ramparts was my first instance. I went as DPS – I don’t like most of Outland instances, especially as a tank. I will probably start tanking in Northrend, though.

So far I’ve liked warrior a lot. It won’t become my new main – no, that spot is reserved for a druid – but due to the recent uber-nerfs to the feral PvP, I may leave my warrior for PvP – perhaps trying prot PvP again on 85.

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Tanking Argaloth in the Baradin Hold

BaradinHoldLoadingStrangely, some people have come to this blog with searches related to tanking Argaloth in the Baradin Hold, even though I have never written anything on the topic. I’ll do a short post about it just so they would get what they are looking for.

Baradin Hold is a new raid instance in Cataclysm – same as VoA was in the Lich King, it is only available when your faction controls Tol Barad. Presumably, same as VoA, Baradin Hold will get an expansion with every major content patch – i.e. 4.1 will bring a new boss to this raid.

Tol Barad is largely a prison for especially dangerous criminals – and Baradin Hold houses the most dangerous ones in the area. Baradin Hold takes about 15 minutes to finish with a good group, including summoning and buff time.

You will need two tanks and two healers in 10-man mode – it may be possible in the future (when gear is much, much better) just one healer will be needed.

When you enter Baradin Hold, you have to deal with trash – Demon Containment Units,  or presumably the prisonguards. They are an easy mobs, just have all of your group stack on tank, as their Demon Repellent Ray ability damage is shared between all the targets.

Currently the only boss in the raid is Argaloth, a pit lord demon. He is a simple and straightforward fight, one that mostly stresses your healers. Your DPS should put out at least 10k DPS each, or Argaloth will berserk in five minutes.

Split your raid into two groups, with one tank and one healer in each group. Use raid markers to mark out both tanks and positions for them – position tanks/groups on either side of the boss. Have each group stack on tank.

ArgalothArgaloth casts Meteor Slash in a cone in front of him to the tank, which does about 200 000 Arcane damage – however, it is shared by all other targets, so in 10-man mode 200 000 / 5 = 40k on every player in one group. This also applies fire damage taken increase 100% debuff (which stacks) – so the other tank needs to taunt now. It helps healer quite a bit if you use your tank cooldown just before the Meteor Slash.

With a good gear and healer, it is possible for a tank to eat two or three of those in a row – it has happened to me when the other tank disconnected and didn’t taunt. I blew my cooldowns and survived until the other tank returned – however, the healer was out of mana by then and we wiped anyway.

Every 45 seconds Argaloth casts Consuming Darkness on three random groupmembers – a magic type 15-sec DoT, which all healers can dispel (and must do so as quickly as possible). Priest’s Mass Dispel really shines here, but other healers should not have too much issues.

At 66% and 33%, Argaloth casts 15 seconds of Fel Firestorm. This is an easily avoidable moving ground fire – just move out of the fire and be ready to taunt once the fire phase ends. Some of the fires may remain burning after the Fel Firestorm ends, this is probably a bug. Again, Fel Firestorm stresses mostly healers, so make sure that everybody avoid the fires and use damage-reducing abilities.

Blow Bloodlust/Heroism/Time Warp/etc either at start or after the second Fel Firestorm.

Overall, Argaloth is the easiest raid boss fight in the Cataclysm – largely a gear check for DPS and healers. He drops epic PvP gear (lvl 365), which is better than blue PvE gear in PvE. All his drops can be disenchanted (skill 475), so be sure to have an enchanter along.

Below is TankSpot’s video guide to Argaloth.

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