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Filed under: Druid

Warlords of Draenor: Claws of Shirvallah cat form datamined

New female tauren aren't the only shiny new player character models this week -- our friends at Wowhead have datamined the new druid cat forms that will go along with the level 100 talent Claws of Shirvallah. The talent allows druids who take it to cast all non-damaging druid spells while in cat form, and the half-humanoid half-cat model is a visual indication of the talent's hybrid nature. The animations are fluid and certainly make the model look intimidating. The worgen snow leopard version is my favorite, however, I do wonder if the models will be available in all the same color variations of the normal cat form models, or if the colors displayed are the only ones.

While I can appreciate the skill and care put into these new cat form models, I'm not entirely feeling it, at least not yet. I just can't imagine my druid looking like that! Fortunately, it doesn't seem as if the talent is really relevant to my personal playstyle -- Lunar Inspiration seems more my speed -- but I can see how it may be very important for PvP'ers in particular. What about you? Are you going to grab Claws of Shirvallah at level 100? Is the model part of the reason why or why not?

Check out Wowhead for the full 3D models of all four forms in their modelviewer, as well as video of the new forms in action.


Filed under: Druid, News items, Warlords of Draenor

Warlords of Draenor Alpha: Updated patch notes for June 13th

Well, it's another update to the Warlords of Draenor Alpha and its patch notes. What's new, what's changed, what's going on with the Alpha? Here's a few highlights:
  • There's a new section called Secondary Stat Attunement that basically comes right out and tells you what stat you're expected to want for each specialization. Fury warriors, you'll notice it's still crit. Fire mages? Same thing. We're still angry and hot. We both still love crit. We should totally form a band.
  • Other new sections include the Self-Sustainability section (which explains how your ability to not die has been changed) and the Tooltip Clarity section, which explains why they've made changes to various tooltips. Of extra import is the mention that, just because the tooltip has changed, that doesn't mean the ability has, unless the patch notes say it has. So keep that in mind.
  • There have been several changes to the Ability Pruning section - Death Knights lose Blood Strike and Necrotic Strike, druids see a mountain of changes (seriously, if you're a druid, go check that out, it's crazy) - paladins, priests, rogues and especially shamans have gotten some significant pruning as well (I'd put shamans just behind druids).
Head on over to the official patch notes and take a look for yourselves. If you're playing a class like a shaman or druid that just saw a lot of change it's especially a good idea to read up on the current state of affairs.

Filed under: Druid, Paladin, Priest, Rogue, Shaman, Analysis / Opinion, News items, Warlords of Draenor

Warlords of Draenor: Major balance druid changes on the way

I have two druids, one Alliance, one Horde -- in fact, the Alliance druid was the first character I ever made. That said, while I initially tried my hand at healing with my first druid, these days, I usually just use the characters for farming purposes. Let's face it, there's nothing better than flight form for nabbing pesky herbs or mining nodes. I will, however, occasionally run a dungeon or a scenario -- and when I do, I'm in cat form. It's the default choice as far as I'm concerned, and I do enough damage to get by, although nobody in their right mind could claim I have more than a bare, passing knowledge of the spec.

But I never could get into playing a balance druid. At first it was the fact that I began playing a druid before balance druids were even something remotely feasible to play. Then I was drawn to other classes, and by the time I got back to the druid, balance looked like a complicated impossibility to learn. Apparently I was not alone in this assessment, as balance druids are headed for some massive changes according to the latest iteration of patch notes from the Warlords of Draenor alpha.

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Filed under: Druid, Warlords of Draenor

What's going wrong with tanking in five player content?

Tanking is not always easy, mind you. But tanking can be an incredible amount of fun, and I hope that it'll make a real comeback in terms of popularity when Warlords of Draenor goes live. Right now, I feel like a few problems really keep tanking from being as universally popular as it could be.
  • Difficult to get starting gear - For most people, it's hard to get started as a tank. Gearing is an issue, because some tanks (DKs, warriors and paladins) need specific tanking gear, while even the leather tanks still generally use different stats to some degree, different enchants, different weapons for tanking than DPS or (especially) healing. This is a problem the gearing changes in Warlords should really help with.
  • Where can you learn it? - Tanking requires a different skill set from DPS or healing. While proving grounds exist, they don't really teach the most important part of being a tank - reacting to other players. It can be hard as a new tank to walk into a dungeon having never done it before. That leads into the third difficulty of picking up tanking.
  • Dungeons don't provide any sort of experience right now - With the wildly disparate gear levels on people running random dungeons, you can have a tank in 450 gear trying to hold aggro off of players in 580 gear. While it can be nice to be the tank in 580 gear, even you might have trouble when groups don't cooperate, run ahead of you, pull mobs half way across the zone, and generally simply refuse to act like any kind of groups at all. This is something I'm hoping the gear squish and ten levels will do away with - we'll all basically be on the same page when Warlords dungeons are being run.
While there are still a lot of places where tanking is both fun and rewarding - raiding (especially in a guild group, be it heroic, normal or flex), challenge modes, even in LFD or LFR if you get lucky - I do think it can be a lot to ask a new tank (whether or not she or he is a new player or just new to the role) to grow a thick skin fast enough to deal with the toxicity possible in the current random queue environment. Which is a real shame, because tanking is fun - it can be stressful, and oftentimes groups have an expectation of a tank doing the work of knowing how every fight works for them, but that's not always a negative.

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Filed under: Druid, Paladin, Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, Death Knight, Monk, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

Warlords of Draenor: Tanking and the future

One of the things I'm thinking about lately is how tanking is changing in Warlords of Draenor. In at least one major way, it's not changing - Active Mitigation established itself in Mists, based in part on DK tanking in Cataclysm, and it's going to be front and center in Warlords of Draenor. But right now, AM tanking heavily relies on four stats (depending on the tank class) and all four of those stats will be gone come Warlords, meaning that we're looking at a pretty significant change depending on the class. The remaining stat, mastery, is probably going up in value, and in addition, we'll have crit, haste, readiness and multistrike to consider. But stats aren't the whole of the game, and they're not the whole of the changes, either.

In addition to new stats, there are the abilities each tank will see affected by readiness to consider. There are also Draenor Perks for each tank spec, granted randomly as we level from 90 to 100. There are changes in what abilities exist, in what specs get them. Vengeance is gone, replaced with Resolve, buffing our self heals and absorbs. In short, while the basic idea remains the same - generate resources via attacks to spend on damage reduction in one fashion or another - how we go about it, how it interacts with us has so many changes that it's worth discussing in length. There's so much change coming in that I don't pretend I'll catch all of it, which is why we have comments, after all.

So what do I expect to see out of tanking coming 6.0? It should be noted, this discussion is based on the Warlords alpha patch notes and such datamining as I've looked over, and I freely admit I only tank on one class, so while these are general observations I may be missing key class specific factors.

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Filed under: Druid, Paladin, Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, Raiding, Death Knight, Monk, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

Warlords of Draenor: Vengeance is now Resolve

This is one of the bigger changes (and one closest to my heart now that I'm tanking again) - Vengeance is gone in Warlords of Draenor, replaced with Resolve. Resolve is basically Vengeance minus the stacking buff to attack power, because of the way Vengeance interacted on certain fights. To put it into perspective, last night was my first night seriously tanking, and I was number four on total DPS - it would have been far higher had I not forgotten I was tanking for the first fight. At present, with Vengeance and tank AoE for purposes of picking up threat (plus, I admit, some fairly beefy Shield Slams once Vengeance stacks all the way up) you can see some ridiculous tank DPS, easily surpassing dedicated DPS players.

The solution being implemented here is to overall increase tank DPS without an unreliable mechanic like Vengeance adding different attack power depending on how much damage the tank takes. This also removes the temptation for tanks to deliberately take more damage in order to get Vengeance stacked up faster. So Vengeance is gone, and Resolve is implemented. How does it work?
  • Resolve improves self-healing and absorbs done by the tank to the tank (so no, it won't buff priest bubbles) based on the damage taken (ignoring avoidance and mitigation, same as Vengeance now) within the last 10 seconds, and your Stamina. This means stuff like Death Strike, Shield Barrier, things of that nature. If you cast a heal on someone else, Resolve won't buff it.
  • Each tank class' tanking mastery will now add 12% attack power, and the amount of attack power will scale with mastery as well. This is in addition to current affects, not replacing it - your tanking mastery will do what you're used to it doing, it'll just also do more.
  • Brewmaster monks will no longer deal less damage. That 15% damage penalty? Gone.
The goal here is for tanking damage to remain meaningful without overshadowing dedicated DPS players, something I feel is profoundly fair. Whether or not it works out for all classes we'll see when we get a chance to test it out, but the basic principle is sound - with tanks now using crit and haste (and the new stats Readiness and Multistrike as well - see Blood Craze here for just one potential use of Multistrike for tanks) we're in a situation where tanking DPS will likely go up just because they're wearing the exact same gear as DPS players. The age of Vengeance's unpredictable scaling probably needed to end.

The section of the patch notes detailing the change is, as always, behind the jump.

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Filed under: Druid, Paladin, Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, Death Knight, Monk, Warlords of Draenor

Warlords of Draenor: Combo points no longer on target for rogues, druids

Rogues and feral druids have had one very important change that wasn't announced in the recent patch notes for the 6.0 alpha build. Combo points, the bread and butter of every rogue and feral druid attack since the game began, are now on the rogue or druid, instead of on the target being attacked. This was confirmed in a tweet by Celestalon -- who was quick to point out that the change might not see live, but is being tested for now.

This is honestly a really big change for both classes. One of the unique frustrations of playing the class was spending the time and energy to build up enough points for a big finisher, only to see the target die before that finisher could land. Don't get me wrong, having a target die is always the name of the game, whether you're stabbing with daggers or skulking around as a cat. But once that target was dead, all combo points you carefully built up would simply vanish when the next target was acquired.

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Filed under: Druid, Rogue, News items, Warlords of Draenor

Watcher on health and healing changes in Warlords of Draenor

If you remember after the last Dev Watercooler, there was a flurry of activity on Twitter as Celestalon and Holinka answered questions. This time Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas has taken to social media to answer questions and explain what's up. We're collecting his tweets here, to give folks a chance to see what he's got to say about the big changes coming to health and healing mechanics in Warlords. There's more after the jump.

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Filed under: Druid, Paladin, Priest, Shaman, News items, Monk, Warlords of Draenor

Healer representation in Mists of Pandaria


Dedralie at Healiocentric has started a series examining how the 6 healer specs fared in Mists of Pandaria, and the first installment starts with a look at representation in raids. It's a fascinating article on the rise, fall, and sometimes stagnation of class fortunes, and toward the end there's a pretty cogent prediction on what mythic raids in Warlords of Draenor are probably going to look like if current trends continue.

This is a quick summary, but I'll provide more details past the cut. As Dedralie writes, while we're not really talking about healer balance or throughput here, there are a few obvious trends you can track from the Mists launch in September 2012 all the way to heroic Garrosh kills in January 2014:
  • Discipline priests and holy paladins ruled the expansion.
  • The absorption effects brought by these two healers is a huge advantage in heroic content (even more so in 10-man), and it may be too valuable as a mechanic.
  • Tier 15 (Throne of Thunder) was the most balanced with respect to representation. Tier 14 saw significant gulfs between class popularity that unfortunately returned with a vengeance in Tier 16 (Siege of Orgrimmar).
  • While monks and holy priests are still struggling for representation, it's instructive to look at the fights where they were significantly more popular.
  • Mythics will probably look like the "under-healed" heroics of MoP, which will prejudice heal teams toward synergies between absorption healers and those with strong throughput-based cooldowns.

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Filed under: Druid, Paladin, Priest, Shaman, Analysis / Opinion, Monk

Leveling a time capsule

Leveling a time capsule
I still remember the first day I played this game on live servers, even though it's been nearly nine years since I looked at the login screen and tried to muddle out what to pick. Friends of mine had already made an Alliance guild and encouraged me to join them. When I mentioned I wanted to play a rogue, I was told that they really needed healers, not rogues. However, my friend suggested I roll a druid, as they could not only heal, but they could turn into a cat and stealth around like a rogue does. That seemed suitable to me, so I rolled a night elf druid, logged in and began to play.

Several months and sixty levels later, that experience remains full of fond memories of endless frustration with the class and how it played. It absolutely did not help that giant improvements for that class were rolled out in a patch shortly after I hit 60. I rolled Horde, and the rest is history ... or it was, anyway. The druid remained at level 60, years after I hit 70, 80, 85 and 90, frozen in a distinct period of time. Several months ago, while idly looking at the login screen and pondering what to play, I decided to actually level the druid and get it caught up. Furthermore, I decided to make the trip without heirloom gear -- after all, it didn't exist when I originally played the character.

This is the story of a peculiar alt that used to be a main, and what happens when you crack open a time capsule from 2005.

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Filed under: Druid, Analysis / Opinion

Patch 5.4 Vengeance changes explained

Patch 54 Vengeance changes explained
If you remember from last week, Vengeance is being changed in patch 5.4. If like me you've been curious about how it will specifically be changing, Lore over on the official forums has our first explanation of the changes and how they'll shake out. Here's the breakdown.
Lore - 5.4 Vengeance Mechanics - Info Request
Here's some details on exactly how the multi-target diminishing returns are set to work in 5.4. Warning: here there be maths.

The basic, concise explanation is as follows: The Nth strongest (based on pre-mitigation average auto attack DPS) mob that has hit you in the last 5 seconds grants 1/Nth of full vengeance with their attacks. N is recalculated on every hit taken.

So here's an example. Say you're tanking 3 mobs – we'll say it's a boss and two adds. The boss has pre-mitigation average auto attack DPS of 1500k, one add does 400k, and the other add does 300k. The game will form a list of those mobs from 1-3, like so:
1. Boss: 1500k DPS, 1/1 (100%) of normal vengeance is granted
2. First add: 400k DPS, 1/2 (50%) of normal vengeance is granted
3. Second add: 300k DPS, 1/3 (33.333%, repeating of course) of normal vengeance is granted

This would of course continue as more mobs are being tanked (granting 1/4, 1/5, 1/6, and so on). Also, if the second add were to land a hit at any point when the first add hasn't attacked you in the last 5sec (such as if it swings first), that attack would grant 1/2 Vengeance instead of 1/3.

Hope that clears things up for the theorycrafters.


So if tanking a small group or adds that accompany a boss mob, this change will have little effect - it's when tanking huge packs that the vengeance decay will be most noticeable. The calculation based on most damage seems interesting to me - hopefully the calculations won't be such that vengeance fails to stack properly.

Filed under: Druid, Paladin, Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, Raiding, Death Knight, Monk, Mists of Pandaria

Patch 5.4 PTR: Vengeance changes

Patch 54 PTR Vengeance changes
If you're a tank in World of Warcraft you know what Vengeance is. Originally intended to allow tanks to keep up with increased DPS from improved gear with DPS stats on it while accumulating tanking gear that generally lacked those stats, it's turned into a means for tanking players to do chart topping DPS on some pulls (especially AoE ones with multiple tanked mobs). There's been a lot of discussion about what might happen with Vengeance in patch 5.4, and now we have our first look at what Blizzard is contemplating for the tanking specialization.
Rygarius - 5.4 PTR Patch Notes - August 2

Vengeance has received several changes.
  • Vengeance now grants Attack Power equal to 1.5% of the damage taken, down from 1.8% (The tooltip said 2% but it was actually 1.8%).
  • Tanks no longer receive Vengeance from many persistent area damage effects (standing in the fire) or from missed attacks (dodging and parrying an attack will continue to work as it has before).
  • There are now diminishing returns on Vengeance gains while tanking multiple targets. Each additional target grants progressively less Vengeance.


These changes are almost certainly aimed at reducing the very high DPS that we can see on trash pulls and boss fights with a great many streaming adds (such as Tortos' bats or the packs before Iron Qon) especially as we head into the final tier of gear for Mists of Pandaria, which would inflate these numbers even more. Raids that use tanks with the highest DPS tanks will probably feel these changes the most. As always, this is the PTR, so if you have an opinion on these changes getting on the test servers and testing them out is useful so you can give proper feedback.

Filed under: Druid, Paladin, Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, News items, Death Knight, Monk, Mists of Pandaria

What's changing for feral and balance druids in patch 5.4, part 2

What's changing for feral and balance druids in patch 54, part 2 ANY
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Shifting Perspectives for cat, bear, restoration and balance druids. Welcome to our DPS edition, brought to you by Chase Hasbrouck, aka Alaron of The Fluid Druid blog. This week, we talk trinkets.

In the last part of this column, we discussed all of the changes in the patch notes, and what that might portend for your feral or balance druid. This week, we'll look at the "other stuff" that might affect your play: set bonuses, trinkets, and the legendary cloak.

Set bonuses
  • Feral T16 2-piece: Omen of Clarity increases damage of Shred, Mangle, and Ravage by 50% for 6 sec.
  • Feral T16 4-piece: After using Tiger's Fury, your next finishing move will restore 5 combo points on your current target after being used.
The 2-piece bonus is somewhat boring, but reasonably powerful for single-target fights. It's tied to Omen, which means you'll always get at least one buffed Shred/Mangle out, even if you're low on energy when it procs. The downside? Less than 20% of a feral's damage comes from Shred/Mangle, and frequently less than 15%, which means that this isn't all that special. It's miles better than the dull T15 2P bonus, however, and likely comparable in strength to the T15 4P, meaning you should upgrade ASAP. I'm interested to see if it finds a home in PvP; the significant burst this gives makes much more of a difference there.

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Filed under: Druid, (Druid) Shifting Perspectives

A look at what's changing for feral and balance druids in patch 5.4

Shifting Perspectives A look ahead at what's changing for feral and balance in 54
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Shifting Perspectives for cat, bear, restoration and balance druids. Welcome to our DPS edition, brought to you by Chase Hasbrouck, aka Alaron of The Fluid Druid blog. This week, we await breaking news.

The PTR has returned with patch 5.4 goodies, and I'm back to discuss what this means for your feral or balance druid. Remember, numbers at this point are completely unbalanced, so focus on the substantive changes!

First, the nerfs
  • Cyclone no longer has a 20-second cooldown for Feral Druids.
  • Predatory Swiftness no longer has a chance to make Cyclone instant, free, and castable in all forms.
Let's face it: some things are too good to last, and one of those things was instant Cyclones from Predatory Swiftness for ferals. Pre-5.2, a feral could go on full offense and reliably keep a second target locked down with Cyclones. The developers attempted to fix this with a tweak in 5.3 that gave feral, and only feral, a 20 second cooldown on Cyclone. However, it was quickly apparent that this wasn't a long-term solution, so now they've taken the somewhat drastic step of removing insta-clone entirely. While this is a large nerf (and one made worse by the removal of Nature's Swiftness, discussed below), I understand the rationale, and hopefully this portends the further removal of other instant CC from the game.

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Filed under: Druid, (Druid) Shifting Perspectives

Patch 5.4 PTR: The Rise of Riposte and other tank changes

Patch 54 PTR The Rise of Riposte and other tank changes
Okay, before we get into it, always remember this is datamined information from the next PTR and none of it is guaranteed to make it live. That being said, there are some interesting changes in the pipeline for tanks in patch 5.4, not the least of which is the creation of Riposte, an ability for warriors and death knights. The reason Riposte is interesting is because it seems to be a means to convert parry and dodge into critical strike, which means several things. First, you'll be less likely to stack critical strike as a tank (warriors were at least thinking about it with the change to Enrage, including Shield Slam and Devastate) and secondly, it makes those purely defensive stats work as threat generators, increased the low tank DPS of the warrior tank (and perhaps the DK tank as well, although I'd not heard any complaints about low DK tank DPS) and it must be noted, is not an ability that druid, paladin or monk tanks will be getting.

I find this very interesting, especially combined with the changes to Dark Command, Reckoning, Growl and Taunt. All of these abilities will now not only force a target to attack the tank in question, but will also increase her threat by 200% for 3 seconds. This means that, even if you are tanking a boss or mob that you already have threat on, these four abilities will still increase your threat overall when used, meaning that if you hit a taunt while tanking it will still have a positive effect on your threat. It's worth noting that hunter pet Growl works exactly the same - hunter pets will also get the extra 200% threat over the three seconds.

We're clearly not even remotely done with tweaks and fixes in patch 5.4, but by themselves these changes suggest that tanking is definitely going to see its fair share. The change to taunts is the biggest change to how taunting works that has ever happened, and the inclusion of Riposte goes one step further towards making avoidance also provide threat.

Filed under: Druid, Paladin, Warrior, Death Knight, Monk, Mists of Pandaria

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