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4.0 Druid Impressions

Bear Tanking:

We’ve been hit by the great AOE threat nerf of 4.0 with the changes to swipe.  But other than that, bear tanking is still pretty much pure win.  The only thing I’m struggling with is trying to keep pulverize up.  If I’ve got plenty of rage such that I’m using maul pretty regularly, I find that pulverize has fallen off before I’ve got lacerate triple stacked again.  It’s also kind of a bummer that as soon as I get lacerate stacked to full effectiveness, I’m consuming it with pulverize.  I would love to be able to keep pulverize up and at least a few seconds of a triple stacked lacerate at the same time.

No big deal though, on single target threat, I’m pretty unstoppable, even though I’m still rocking the lovely i200 Staff of trickery.  The great thing about bear tanking over death knight tanking that I’ve seen so far is that I’m not feeling resource locked, and there is always something I can do with each and every GCD.  This makes tanking feel far more active rather than the “pop skills and hope dps doesn’t pull aggro” method of DK tanking.

Restoration:

Oh permanent tree form, how I miss you.  Now I’m just another male night elf doing the horrible male night elf casting animation.  I miss the swaying of my branches.  I’ve had to retrain myself a little bit.  Regrowth is the new flash heal, rather than the long hot, and lifebloom can only be cast on one target now.  So that’s taking some getting used to.  But the first time I cast efflorescence?  I nearly soiled myself.  It is pure awesome.  The first thing I did was walk into the green goo of pretty leaves and bask in the awesomeness of druidity (damn spell check, that is a perfectly cromulent word).

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The female worgen dance is Lady Gaga’s Poker Face?

Seriously?

I can’t find the blue post that mentions why they re-named “nom nom nom”.  Something about silly internet meme’s (google fu is failing me tonight), but we get Poker Face for the female worgen dance?

Edit:  Blue post on the renaming from Blizzcon Q&A.  Many thanks to BBB for having that listed on one of his posts.

What…the…fuck…

In order to make sure that my leveling experiences as a hunter weren’t clouding the overall view of the leveling experience, I thought I would put in some time this weekend on a number of low level alts to see how combat feels at low level in the 4.0 world.

Level 16 Warlock, Demonology spec:

At level 10 you get a felguard now.  This does not bode well for being challenging.  I find a level 16 mob and auto attack with my staff.  After I get the first hit, my felguard pulls aggro.  Auto attacking only, we finish the mob with me at 96% HP (which ticks to 100 as soon as combat ends) and my felguard at 60%.  One health funnel later and we’re both good to go.

I find another level 16 mob, dot-dot-dot, dead mob.  I think my bane ticked once before the mob went splat.

I find a group of 3 level 16 and level 17 mobs, dot-dot-tab-repeat.  Life drain.  Three dead mobs.  I’m at 100% HP and my felguard is at 95%.

I find another group of 3 level 16 and level 17 mobs and literally mash the number keys on my keyboard.  About 20 seconds later, all mobs are dead.  I’m at 80% and my felguard at 95%

/sigh

/logout

 

Level 27 Paladin, Retribution spec:

Level 27 mob, auto attack only, 90% HP.  “Uh oh”

Level 28 mob, exorcism, judge, crusader strike, dead mob, 98% HP.  “Crap”

5 level 27 and 28 mobs, consecrate, judge, crusader strike, judge, crusader strike, word of glory, judge, crusader strike, repeat, 5 dead mobs, 90% HP.  “Sonofanerfingbastard”

3 level 27 and 28 mobs, mash keyboard, dead mobs, 90% HP.

/cry

/logout

 

Level 49 Rogue, Assassination spec:

Level 49 mob, auto attack only, dead mob, 87% HP.

Level 50 mob, mutilate (which we get at level 10 btw), slice and dice, melee, dead mob, 95% HP.  Target next mob, mutilate, recuperate, dead mob, 100%HP.

3 level 49 mobs via facepull.  Mutilate, slice and dice, tab, mutilate, rupture, tab, mutilate, eviscerate, tab, melee, etc.  Dead mobs, 93% HP.

2 level 49 mobs, mash keyboard, keep getting “you need combo points for that” messages, dead mobs, 90% HP.

/sigh

/logout

 

I was really looking forward to leveling a worgen warrior in cataclysm.  Now I’m not sure I’ll make it out of the starting area.  There is literally absolutely no challenge in combat during leveling anymore.

For months now, people have been complaining about the horrible playing we see at level 80.  Believe it or not, this is only going to get worse.

I used to think that the 0/0/71 (before 4.0), gem-less, enchant-less 80s that I saw were the result of laziness, an unwillingness to actually work at playing your toon, and that you were willing to suffer through inefficient leveling.  Now I know the truth.

Nothing during the leveling process prepares you for endgame content.  You don’t NEED a proper spec.  You don’t NEED a proper rotation/priority system.  You don’t NEED gems and enchants.

The difference between mashing random buttons and an optimized combat rotation is only a few GCD’s.  Since combat time comprises far less time during leveling than the time spent moving from mob to mob, there is absolutely nothing to motivate a player to optimize.

All of the skills necessary to survive at endgame are not taught anywhere during the leveling process.  Situational awareness?  Nope.  There are no void zones, mob AOE is a joke, pulling extra mobs isn’t dangerous at all.

When any toon can solo 3-5 same level mobs, why the hell would they ever wait for a tank to pull in a dungeon?

Now it feels like leveling is nothing more than a time sink.  Blizzard may as well introduce a new RMT to buy a level capped toon with basic green gear.  It would bring in some nice revenue, require little development effort, and nobody would ever notice the difference.  Since mashing buttons seems to work all the way to level cap, might as well continue to do so on Deathwing.

Ability queue

I just discovered the Grumpy Elf and found this post on the ability queue system that Blizzard implemented that I didn’t know about.

 

This at least explains why I’ve been feeling so sluggish while healing, cause I keep firing off heals before the GCD is up, which fills the queue, which then wants to prohibit me from casting the most recent cast I’ve fired off.

 

This also explains why I wiped us in VOA10 the other night while tanking on my death knight.  I’ve got rune strike assigned to my scroll wheel.  Since I never just scroll one little bitty click at a time, I queued a whole bunch of rune strikes and wondered why the hell my taunt didn’t fire off when it needed to.  Of course, the other tank got too many stacks and died and that was it for the rest of us.

 

Please Blizzard, fix this pronto.  You can’t honestly expect us to all be able to time our button presses and clicks perfectly to a haste affected GCD.  We’re going to hit stuff before the gcd and we might want to change to something else before that gcd expires.

The challenge in leveling

I was going to write about my 4.0 druid impressions, but that’s going to come later.

 

This morning, I read this post by Nils and decided to share my thoughts on the subject.

 

Nils mentions that while leveling now, “mobs die so fast that you cannot actually play your char.”  I absolutely agree.

 

My current leveling project is hunter.  I got him to level 20 before 4.0 so I could get my mount, and have since gotten him up to level 26.  He is fully heirloomed, as I already had the chest and shoulders from leveling my shaman as enhancement, sword and dagger from leveling a rogue, and had badges to burn before 4.0 so I bought the bow.  He is an unstoppable face-rolling god.

 

Now I know that hunters have long been held as the easiest class to level, but this is just plain silly.  I’m beast mastery specced and have a bear pet.  My bear has no chance in hell of holding threat against me unless I auto-shot and even then it’s an even bet.  With the cooldown on arcane shot being removed, I can arcane shot twice and kill pretty much any mob at my level.  I used to send in my bear to agro the mob, and then whittle them away from afar.  Now my bear basically gets halfway to the mob before it falls over.  To see just how ridiculous this has become, I had my bear run in and agro 5 mobs at my level.  Under “ordinary” circumstances, this should have resulted in my untimely demise.  I pulled agro on every one I attacked, but burned them down so fast, I ended the fight with a little less than 50% health.  That was it.

 

How the hell is this supposed to teach me how to run a hunter correctly?  I don’t need to trap, concussive shot, scatter shot, wing clip or anything like that.

 

If I want to kill a mob with absolutely no risk to myself, I do a steady shot and as soon as it fires I hit arcane shot.  Guaranteed kill before the mob gets even a few yards.

 

Now let me contrast this with my first leveling experience.  In early WoTLK, my first toon ever was a shadow priest.  I had no other toons to support him, no heirlooms, no cash for fancy boe gear.  I was just barely starting to use basic addons.  I could kill at best 2 mobs at a time, and that was sketchy.  One mob at a time was do-able, but usually required some downtime afterwards to regen.  If I ever accidentally pulled 3 mobs, I would pop like a grape.  5 is right out (bonus points if you got the Monty Python reference).

 

Some of the leveling changes that Blizzard has made have been wonderful.  For example, the mount changes.  I absolutely despise having to spend a large fraction of my playtime in travelling.  If I want to spend time running around, I’ll do it IRL.  That’s not what I want to be forced to do in a game.  Improved quest hubs, improved tooltips, more instruction at low levels as to how to play are all fantastic improvements to the leveling experience.

 

However, the leveling experience doesn’t challenge a player to improve their capability to play their class.  As it used to be, if mobs at your level always pulled in groups of 3, and were damned difficult to survive, if you died a few times, you were encouraged to figure out what you need to do differently in order to succeed.  They were your level, the quest to kill them was your level, surely Blizzard intends for you to succeed, so the tools to do so must be available, you just have to figure out how to do it.  This created a learning opportunity that was very valuable.  Most of the “oh cool!” moments I’ve had while leveling occurred during such opportunities, like learning that I could use power word: shield in shadow form, and that I should pull with the attack that needs a cast time so that I can use my instant casts while running away.

 

Now those learning opportunities don’t seem to exist.  I can simply faceroll my way through and profit.

 

If we complain about how bad new level 80s are in current content, I can only imagine how bad it’s going to get.  What is there in the game that encourages new players to learn how to use their abilities to succeed when they can do everything completely “wrong” and yet get to the level cap?

 

Okay, I realize I now sound like an old man yelling at the kids on my lawn.  Breathe…count to ten…

 

Please don’t think that I am touting the “WoW is easy mode, and noobs should DIAF”.  I’m not.  I want new players to pick up this game that I enjoy and enjoy it.  If someone wants to create a cloth wearing hunter and auto-shot their way through the game, that’s their choice.

 

But level cap shouldn’t be a complete culture shot.  If that’s their choice of playstyle, that’s fine, but they should experience enough challenges through leveling that they understand that it is NOT optimized.  So when they get kicked out of every 5 man and no raid will take them, they should at least have a glimmer as to why.

 

So here are my thoughts on balancing the leveling experience.  And no, I don’t expect this to ever be implemented by Blizzard or anyone else, but here it is anyway.

 

  • Mounts are given out at level 1.
  • You should never, ever, ever, be given a leveling quest where you travel 5 minutes to spend 30 seconds gathering/killing/etc to spend another 5 minutes traveling.  If you want to explore, feel free, but not forced to do nothing but watch your toon walk/run.
  • If you use only auto-attack on a same-level mob, you should have a 50% survival rate.
  • If you use your skills, but just spam one attack, or hammer away randomly at your keyboard, you should be able to kill a same-level mob and end at 50% health.
  • If you use your skills well, you should be able to kill a same level mob and end at 80-90% health.
  • If you pull two same-level mobs but just spam or randomly smash keys, you should have a 50% survival rate.
  • If you pull three same-level mobs and use your skills well, you should just barely survive.
  • Out of combat regen should be high enough to reduce/negate the need for downtime.
  • Gear, whether it’s heirlooms, boe, etc. should have no more than a +/-10% affect on these numbers.
  • The difficulty in leveling should not be logistics (where am I, where do I need to be, where is the skill trainer, how do I get there, etc.).  The ENTIRE challenge in leveling should be involved in how you handle and kill mobs.

 

/end rant

4.0 Death Knight Impressions

Tanking:  Blood spec and blood presence are required.  There are no other options.  A group I was in the other night had to kick a DK tank because he was in frost presence and refused multiple requests in party chat to change.  Don’t be a fail DK tank.  Be one with the blood.

 
As a DK tank, your aoe threat should be enough to keep mobs off the healer, unless that healer is also dps’ing, in which case, you might be screwed.

 
Good luck practicing the new tanking methods in current content.  I found that in order to get aoe threat, I needed to get death and decay down, icy touch and plague strike on my main target, and pestilence to spread it around.  By then I should be far enough ahead that dps can begin.  Of course, that’s 4 gcd’s and 6 seconds, and how many dps do you know who want to wait that long to hit stuff?  What usually happened is that I would get off death and decay and icy touch, and the dps (who were at least assisting me) would kill the main mob before I could get pestilence to spread the diseases around and blood boil.  So then I would frantically try to get threat on the rest of the mobs, but they would die before I could really affect anything.
It’s frustrating to say the least.

 
I’m actually tempted to try some aoe tanking just using death and decay and blood boil spam and see if that’s an improvement.  At least it won’t matter when my primary target dies.  Threat may be crap, but I’m already losing threat to all of the DPS in the group.

 
On single mobs, I didn’t find that I had many threat problems, except that rune strike doesn’t seem to be available as often as I expected, so I found myself using death coil more often as a runic power dump.  If this gets resolved, then single target threat should go up nicely.

 
Survivability is okay, but not great, as our armor has been significantly nerfed.  All tanks feel much more squishy now.  Of course, we DK’s now have a plethora of defensive cooldowns which is nice.
The worst part, by far, about blood DK tanking is being rune locked.  This is enough that I might not be tanking with my DK in cataclysm.

 
After the patch and my addons were stable, one of my guildies asked me to tank a “quick” 5 man for him.  In what I can only describe as an RNG curse, we get heroic halls of reflection.
Gauntlet fights as a DK tank (and possibly as any tank with the overall nerfs to all tanks) are the most frustrating gameplay I’ve ever encountered.

 
How the fuck does blizzard expect me to tank a gauntlet fight where mobs come in successive waves several seconds apart?  Adds were on the healer and there wasn’t a damn thing I could do about it.  Both taunts were on CD, runes were locked, RP is empty, empower rune weapon is on CD. WTF blizz!?  If there are gauntlet fights in cataclysm like this, I will curse blizzard to the day I die.

 
Unholy DPS:  Dark transformation is cool.  DPS’ing in unholy presence feels different, but I like the faster rune generation.  Unholy DPS seems to have been buffed in 4.0.  I was able to pull 5k on the boss dummy with no buffs, in tier 9, crap trinkets, and still figuring out the priority situation.  The new default power auras are…interesting.  I would like the ability to turn certain ones on or off, or even turn them all off, as I’m already used to building my own with the power auras addon.

 
I am going to try to save my general opinions on each role and overall mechanics for another post after I’ve had time to hash out my feelings on the individual classes I play the most.

4.0 Priest Impressions

With my discipline spec, I seem slow.  Between the stat changes and the nerf to borrowed time, I feel lethargic in my casting.  I might try gemming and reforging for more haste to see if that will liven me up again.  I’ve also been running into an issue where my cast bar, action bar, etc. all tell me that power word: shield is ready to be casted again, yet when I try I get the “ability not ready yet” error, so I have to give it a split second more until I can cast it.  I’m not sure what is causing this, i.e. lag, addons, bug, whatever.  It’s irritating.

Heal is a worthless spell at this point in time.  For as little as it heals for and as long as it takes, I don’t see the point.  If mana becomes such a huge issue that I have to resort to casting this spell, then I can only hope that my party is only being tickled by damage.

I went with an atonement spec, because apparently this is the new hotness and it’s how us disc priests are supposed to be healing in cataclysm.  I’ve got my power auras all setup to help me know when I should pop my wings.  In the infinite mana situation I’m currently in at 80, I don’t really need it at all, but when I do pop it, I sure do get some hefty mana back.  I can definitely see this as valuable in a mana starved healing environment.  In current 5 mans, I’ve got plenty of time to smite, and I’m seeing a decent amount of healing from atonement by doing this.  However, I’m concerned about where I’m going to get the gcd’s to actually smite often enough to use this in cataclysm.  With the long casting time of my efficient heal and the pathetic heal amount, I’m just not sure where it’s really going to come into play if I have to be spamming heal just to keep the group up without going out of mana.

In my shadow spec, I really didn’t notice a whole lot of differences.  I’m not attempting the shadow word: death spam tactic, as I know this is already being targeted for a nerf.  I can barely see the shadow orbs, and once again, power auras helps me keep track of the related changes.  Occasionally I see my shadowy apparition cruise over to my target to explode, which is kinda novel.  Other than that, it seems pretty much business as usual.  Since I’ve got the 4 piece T10 bonus, I haven’t been mind blasting much at all prior to the 4.0 patch, especially with my infinite mana.  Now with the shadow orbs, I’ve at least got some motivation to mind blast from time to time again.

On the boss dummy, I was able to pull 7k without much effort, no cooldowns, no cool dps trinket procs (still haven’t picked up any nice ones).

I haven’t even tried a holy spec yet.  The chakra mechanic sounds interesting, but might just turn into another 30 second buff we need to figure out how to maintain.  From what I’ve been hearing so far, holy seems to have more mana issues at 80 than disc, so for now I’m sticking with disc, especially as that’s my given role in my guild raids.

Patch 4.0 aka Glyphmas

The patch dropped on Tuesday.  Due to a number of unfortunate circumstances that I won’t bore you with, I didn’t get it downloaded and installed until Thursday.

Once I was able to actually login (sans addons), I went straight to the auction house and started posting glyphs.  I can only imagine what this patch has been like for those of you that don’t have a scribe, especially if you have multiple toons.  The changes to the glyph system meant that pretty much everyone had to buy or make new glyphs for almost every spec.  Painful for all, but awesome for those of us scribes.

I’ve pulled in over 40k in four days.  I would especially like to thank everyone who has purchased the glyph of mage armor for over 350G each.  It seems that this glyph was supposed to be removed, but for some reason didn’t get charred and can still be learned and equipped.  However, it can’t be made as it’s been removed from inscription craft list.  So it’s going for crazy amounts.

Addons are being update constantly these days, so we’re closer and closer to returning to our normal functionality.  I had to replace several addons completely.  I’m still mourning shadowed unit frames.  Xperl seems to be working okay for me, but isn’t as configurable as SUF.  I replaced Titan with Chocolate Bar as my broker tool.  Vuhdo, power auras, bartender4, and icehud are all up-to date and functioning fine, so at least I can do the basic stuff.

Aside from exploiting the glyph market, I of course had to glyph and spec my 4 level 80 characters into 8 different specs, which was time consuming.  I’ll talk more about this in future posts, as there’s a lot to say on the matter of spec play-styles under the new regime.

4.0 where art thou?

So I got home late last night, so I got the new patch started, but I knew it was going to take long enough that I didn’t want to stay awake and wait for it (I know, what kind of lazy WoW player am I?!)  I got it started and then went to bed.  I woke up this morning, check on the download, and lo and behold, my computer has been restarted to install Windows updates!  Ug.  So I got that finished and started the patch download AGAIN.  Hopefully nothing catastrophic (couldn’t say cataclysmic, too punny) will happen before I get home today and I’ll actually be able to login.

Of course, then the real fun begins.  Figuring out what addons have broken, reconfiguring everything that still works but needs to look different now.  I am incredibly sad because I’ve heard that shadowed unit frames is no longer being updated.  I refuse to use pitbull (I had a bad experience, OK?)  So what does that leave me with, x-perl?  I’ve never used it before, so I guess I should look into that.

Then once the UI is functional again, I get to start re-learning 8 different specs (why did I want to have 4 level 80’s again?)

I feel like I’m starting a whole new game 🙂

So I have to share this with you, as it made me laugh at my own stupidity on my way in to work this morning (delayed stupidity ftw).

I’m playing my shaman last night, and although I’ve mentioned that I was planning on not really doing so until cataclysm, I’ve had a bug to do some non-priest healing and I’m enjoying the resto shaman toolset, so I’ve been doing some randoms.

So I’m doing randoms and pick up some new shoulders from heroic trial of the champion.  I’ve already got a gem on me so I pop it in and equip it.  After the run, I log out, grab my priest, fly to the sons of hodir, pick up the shoulder enchant I want (the priest is exalted with them, the shaman hasn’t even done the quest to open the area).  I hearth to Dalaran and send the shoulder enchant to my shaman.  Log back onto the shaman and enchant my new shoulders.

I then log off for the night, happy with my shiny new purple pixels.

So now I’m on my way to work this morning when it strikes me like a chain lightning of epiphany…my shaman is a scribe.  DAMN IT!