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Shifting Perspectives: Building a better Insect Swarm for Mists

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Shifting Perspectives for cat , bear , restoration and balance druids. Balance news comes at you every Friday -- learn how to master the forces of nature, and know what it means to be a giant laser turkey! Send questions, comments, or requests to tyler@wowinsider.com or @murmursofadruid.

Greetings, druids. Last week we talked about the new changes that had been made to the Mists of Pandaria talent calculator, which held a few good changes for us. This week I want to focus in on two criticisms that I've had growing for a very long time. It's no shock to anyone that reads my column or follows me on Twitter that I abhor the new direction of Insect Swarm.

I've talked about this topic before, but I want to discuss it further.

Looking into the why

In the essence of fairness, I feel that I should go into why it is that I believe Blizzard is tweaking Insect Swarm the way that they are. To start with, Insect Swarm has been an extremely problematic spell ever since it was created. In TBC, it didn't deal enough damage in order to be worth using, the same was even true at the start of WotLK, and it nearly fell off the map again late in the expansion as well. It hasn't been until Cataclysm that Insect Swarm has finally become a sold piece of our rotation, and even now it's still the weaker of the two DoTs.

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Filed under: Druid, (Druid) Shifting Perspectives, Mists of Pandaria

How encounter design plays into game balance

Ready Check helps you prepare yourself and your raid for the bosses that simply require killing. Check back with Ready Check each week for the latest pointers on killing adds, not standing in fire, and hoping for loot that won't drop. Questions, comments, or something you would like to see? Email me at tyler@wowinsider or message me on Twitter @murmursofadruid.

Game balance is a very frequent topic when it comes to WoW. With every nerf or buff, there comes a vast explanation from the player base as to why it was and was not justified. Perhaps one of the most common lamentations regarding a nerf that we see is when Blizzard "nerfs PvE for the sake of PvP." While Blizzard does make PvP damage adjustments from time to time, there are far more damage changes that are made due to PvE concerns than there ever has been for PvP. It's an easy fallback to take up; blaming the aspect of the game which you don't actively take part in, yet it would be far more accurate for PvP players to complain about PvE.

There's another trap that's easy to fall into: that PvE balance is easy to do. To be fair, balancing against Patchwerk encounters isn't that difficult, although you'll still never get it perfect, but WoW has only had a single Patchwerk encounter, and that was Patchwerk. For all the damage juggling that Blizzard does, the largest factor in game balance is always going to be the encounters themselves. Each fight has unique mechanics which mingles with the way specs operate and it is that which determines how a spec fairs just as much as any damage balancing on Blizzard's part.

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Filed under: Raiding, Ready Check (Raiding)

Shifting Perspectives: A ray of hope for druid shifting and talents in Mists of Pandaria

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Shifting Perspectives for cat , bear , restoration and balance druids. Balance news comes at you every Friday -- learn how to master the forces of nature, and know what it means to be a giant laser turkey! Send questions, comments, or requests to tyler@wowinsider.com or @murmursofadruid.

There's nothing I like more than news, especially when it's about upcoming content. Each bite of information that is released offers a new insight into the design direction that Blizzard is taking, which is an extremely touchy subject at the moment. On the horizon is a new expansion, and with it comes the generalized revamping of class design that Blizzard tracks on to each time one of these comes around. With Mists of Pandaria, Blizzard really wants to push druids back to their roots, the roots of shifting that is.

Blizzard wants for druids to shift more. It wants us utilizing our various animal forms, talents, and skills instead of the current model where we have a singular form and stick to it -- or at least, that is what Blizzard had originally intended when it first set out designing MoP. Many of the druid community have been rather skeptical of Blizzard's intent, myself included. For us, it seems that this latest batch of updates holds quite the shining ray of hope.

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Filed under: Druid, (Druid) Shifting Perspectives, Mists of Pandaria

Ready Check: The loss of itemization in Cataclysm

Ready Check helps you prepare yourself and your raid for the bosses that simply require killing. Check back with Ready Check each week for the latest pointers on killing adds, not standing in fire, and hoping for loot that won't drop. Questions, comments, or something you would like to see? Email me at tyler@wowinsider or message me on Twitter @murmursofadruid.

Like it or not, there's one constant about raiding. No matter what your reason for raiding is, and no matter what joy you happen to get from it, there's only one thing that matters at the end of the day. Obviously, I'm talking about loot. Loot is the one thing that makes the raiding world go 'round. Sure, we raid for story, we raid for friends, we raid for challenges. All of that is well and good and makes for a nice, lovely, non-selfish story that we can tell the world. Who knows? It might even be true -- but there's no avoiding that loot is the result.

Maybe that's why raiding has popularity issues. Maybe it isn't the experience so much as it is the reward. I suppose we'll never know -- at least, not from this Ready Check. No, no, instead there's there one part of loot issues that I really want to get into, the problem that has been plaguing Blizzard for this entire expansion: the lack of loot.

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Filed under: Raiding, Ready Check (Raiding), Cataclysm

Shifting Perspectives: Are druid abilities getting a trim in Mists of Pandaria?

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Shifting Perspectives for cat , bear , restoration and balance druids. Balance news comes at you every Friday -- learn how to master the forces of nature, and know what it means to be a giant laser turkey! Send questions, comments, or requests to tyler@wowinsider.com or @murmursofadruid.

Stop the presses, guys! There's eventually at some point in the distant future going to be a new expansion on the horizon for WoW, and in it, Blizzard is going to completely redesign the ability system again. We saw it happen for The Burning Crusade, and then it happened again for Wrath and once more for Cataclysm. Now, it's going to happen again for MoP.

Every expansion has come with some amount of trimming of useless abilities (hello, Sentry Totem) and even more so, the addition of new abilities to fill in the missing gaps that classes still have. What about optimizing the abilities that we already have first?

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Filed under: Druid, (Druid) Shifting Perspectives, Mists of Pandaria

Ready Check: Tiered raid progression vs. raid accessibility

Ready Check helps you prepare yourself and your raid for the bosses that simply require killing. Check back with Ready Check each week for the latest pointers on killing adds, not standing in fire, and hoping for loot that won't drop. Questions, comments, or something you would like to see? Email me at tyler@wowinsider or message me on Twitter @murmursofadruid.

Let's do a little bit of polling in my head, shall we? How many of you raided during vanilla? Not all that many, I'm sure, and not purely because not that many folks from that time are still around but also because a horridly low number of people who were around back then did raid. But let's say you did raid. How many actually got to clear through the original Naxx? Now, that's a small number of hands; after all, even Blizzard said that less than 1% of the player base so much as downed a single boss in the that instance. Moving on to The Burning Crusade, how many raided there? More hands that previously, I'm sure. Now how many of you progressed past Karazhan? How many cleared through Black Temple? Sunwell?

Let's keep getting more current, though. How many say Naxx in Wrath? Now how many saw ICC? OK, how many say any T11 content? How many of those saw Dragon Soul? Interesting! The number of hands gets progressively smaller as the raids within vanilla WoW and The Burning Crusade progress, yet it stays relatively the same throughout Wrath and Cataclysm. That's because in Wrath, Blizzard drastically changed its view on raiding -- far beyond merely making it easier.

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Filed under: Raiding, Ready Check (Raiding)

6 ways to increase your warlock's DPS

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Blood Pact for affliction, demonology and destruction warlocks. For those who disdain the watered-down arts that other cling to like a safety blanket ... for those willing to test their wills against the nether and claim the power that is their right ... Blood Pact welcomes you. Send questions, comments, or requests to tyler@wowinsider.com or via Twitter to @murmursofadruid.

As a warlock, I can name no fewer than six methods that the amateur demonologist can use in order to up his worth to a raid. Oh, while I could easily write out an entire Homer-esque adventure exclusively on what fledgling casters can do for their damage, brevity is oft the soul of wit -- so I will merely keep to the upped ante of six, to demonstrate that warlocks shall not have themselves outdone by trite magelings. After all, a mage really is useful for nothing more than a light snack and easy travel.

1. Know your spec. Unlike those wretched creatures that shall not be named, warlocks are blessed with multiple viable specs that they can use for raiding. I know that this is a topic I have blathered on about time and time again, but for a pure DPS class, it's rather important. Unlike my counterpart balance druid, there is no rigidity in spec choice. A balance druid will always be a balance druid, regardless of how strong their spec is in relation to feral or other DPS classes in the game. Warlocks and other pures are given that luxury.

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Filed under: Warlock, (Warlock) Blood Pact

Why we need difficult raid encounters

Ready Check helps you prepare yourself and your raid for the bosses that simply require killing. Check back with Ready Check each week for the latest pointers on killing adds, not standing in fire, and hoping for loot that won't drop. Questions, comments, or something you would like to see? Email me at tyler@wowinsider or message me on Twitter @murmursofadruid.

Welcome back again, raiders. Last session, we discussed those things that make a raid fun. Fun, as with many subjects, is a highly personal experience, and the simple matter is that not everyone finds even the concept of raiding itself very fun. This week, I want to continue with that discussion but in a different topic of course. Fun is merely a single part of raiding; another side of it is difficulty.

Difficulty comes in many shapes and sizes, not all of which are exclusive to one another. Further, difficulty often gets a rather tough rap in terms of how it influences a player's experience. Often, when we hear the word difficulty, we think of bosses that are just downright annoyingly hard. We envision these impossible encounters that act as roadblocks toward progression that end up only frustrating raiders. Nothing could be further from the truth.

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Filed under: Raiding, Ready Check (Raiding)

Blood Pact: How Mists of Pandaria will fix warlock PvP

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Blood Pact for affliction, demonology and destruction warlocks. For those who disdain the watered-down arts that other cling to like a safety blanket ... for those willing to test their wills against the nether and claim the power that is their right ... Blood Pact welcomes you. Send questions, comments, or requests to tyler@wowinsider.com or via Twitter to @murmursofadruid.

Greetings, warlocks. I know that I have generally focused heavily on PvE instead of PvP, but this is more so due to the fact that PvP is a difficult subject to generalize. Strategies are specific to the composition that you run and what you're up against, and they are exceptionally difficult to define in rote patterns. That's the draw that PvP has over PvE -- it's always changing, always different, always unpredictable, at least in the good cases. Yet there is one thing I can say about PvP: Affliction is the spec of choice.

Then again, when are the few times where that hasn't been true? There might be small pockets here and there when demonology or destruction has some meager viability in the PvP world, but they've normally been rather short-lived. Affliction has generally been our default PvP spec, much as mages have relied on frost. No more! I know people are tied of hearing it, but Mists of Pandaria will fix it.

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Filed under: Warlock, (Warlock) Blood Pact

Shifting Perspectives: What balance druid design can take from SWTOR

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Shifting Perspectives for cat , bear , restoration and balance druids. Balance news comes at you every Friday -- learn how to master the forces of nature, and know what it means to be a giant laser turkey! Send questions, comments, or requests to tyler@wowinsider.com or @murmursofadruid.

Welcome to a new year, balance druids. It's been a flurry of a holiday season for many folks, although things have been rather quiet on the Blizzard front. In terms of any new information being released, all that we've seen thus far is a minor patch announcement that does hold some good news: Our four-piece tier bonus is getting 10% Starsurge damage tacked on. While this isn't monumental in the sense that it suddenly turns the bonus into a must-have, it's a good boost that was sorely needed.

Instead, the major release of the holiday season was the highly anticipated release of Star Wars: The Old Republic, which I myself have been glad to officially have my hands on. WoW-killer, front-runner MMO of the new year, or potential flop, it's far too soon to tell -- but what is telling is how new game designers approach the MMO genre and what Blizzard can learn as other companies look to emulate its success stories. What then could SWTOR possibly have for balance druids? Quite a bit.

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Filed under: Druid, (Druid) Shifting Perspectives

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