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Posts with tag balance

Shifting Perspectives: Are DoTs worth it?

Every week, Shifting Perspectives explores issues affecting druids and those who group with them. This week, we are going to explore the issues surrounding the use of damage over time effects in a balance druid's rotation, as we figure out if they are pewpew worthy, or just plain peew.

If you are like me and have played a balance druid since before people knew that druids had a spec that wasn't restoration, then this question isn't a new one to you. The sad truth of the balance spec is that a vast majority of our damage potential is tied up into our main nukes; Starfire and Wrath. Moonfire and especially Insect Swarm have, for the most part, always been at the bottom rung of our damage potential. Back in The Burning Crusade, when balance was first considered to be 'viable' by the mainstream, Insect Swarm was never used in a raid setting due to its poor damage. Although Moonfire held strong, by the Sunwell level, balance druids were able to get so much haste and crit that even our staple of staple spells was left in the dust.

Swing around to Wrath of the Lich King, and there have been some major strides to fix this issue. When the expansion first came out, there were two key talents, Nature's Splendor and Improved Insect Swarm, added to boost our DoT damage. Even then, Insect Swarm was falling too far behind by the time players were in Naxx level gear, but this time around there was some quick work on the part of the development team to remedy the situation. Insect Swarm had its scaling and base damage increased to be viable once again. Not to mention that our three standard issue PvE glyphs have all centered around our DoTs. However, we are no longer in Naxx, we are now in Icecrown Citadel, and the issue of DoT damage is coming up once again.

Are Insect Swarm and Moonfire holding up in terms of damage? Is their scaling sufficient to keep them in our rotations? Let's take a look.

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Filed under: Druid, (Druid) Shifting Perspectives

Shifting Perspectives: Balance 101 - A PvP primer



Every week, Shifting Perspectives explores issues affecting druids and those who group with them
. This week, we are taking a giant leap into the black hole that has come to be known as balance druid PvP. Brace yourselves, my feathery friends, the ride is about to get bumpy.

I don't have a silly introduction this week. Instead, I have my serious hat on. Before I begin to write this, I want to say a few things about myself. I am no longer an avid balance PvP player. I do PvP on my balance druid, but only in BGs and no longer in Arena. I did do Arenas in The Burning Crusade, where I ranked rather high in a 2v2 with a rogue, but I understand that experience is no longer relevant to today's Arena. I did not give up on balance PvP because I feel it is too hard, I didn't give up on balance PvP because I feel it is broken, I quit playing balance in Arenas because it requires a lot more time investment than I am able to give it in order to succeed properly. I raid pretty much six days a week, not just on my druid but also on several alts, so I haven't the time to properly give to balance PvP, and if I can't do something fully then I don't do it.

I have not been blind to the state of balance PvP though. I follow every single higher rated balance player, and I follow the vocal PvP players as well. I do play Arenas off and on with one of my alts, and I have played against balance druids. Sometimes I beat them, sometimes I lose. For all of its shortcomings, balance PvP is viable, but if you have any interest in balance PvP then you need to be prepared for what is ahead. It is going to be hard. You are going to struggle. There are going to be times where you want to throw your computer off a cliff and scream until your face goes red. For all of that, if you really put forth the effort, if you focus, and learn how to adapt, then you can succeed.

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Filed under: Druid, (Druid) Shifting Perspectives

Moonkin may receive a buff soon

Balance druid performance has been noticeably lagging in raids. While moonkin have long had a problem being too easily +haste-capped with Wrath, there's another issue on the not-too-distant horizon in the form of the "lunar +crit cap." Essentially, when a lunar eclipse procs and the player turns to the Starfire portion of the rotation, the combination of raid buffs, gear, and procs make Starfire crits all but inevitable. While this may sound like a welcome DPS increase, it does have the unhappy result of the spec seeing increasingly less benefit from the +haste and +crit that exists in abundance on Icecrown raid gear.

Blizzard has known about this for a while, but the issue with Nature's Grace and the soft +haste cap isn't easily fixable without impacting both Restoration and Starfire (where the NG proc is still useful), and the +crit cap is the effect of unintended stat inflation in Wrath. Enter Zarhym on Wednesday to announce news of a possible change to the Earth and Moon talent in a future mini-patch, granting 2/4/6% spell damage to the moonkin, up from 1/2/3%. While this isn't set in stone (and Balance players are already aware that an overhaul to the Nature's Grace issue probably won't happen until the Cataclysm content patch at the earliest), it's been greeted as a decent short-term fix. It's also a means of improving the scaling of what remains the moonkin's best stat (+spellpower).

Zarhym did warn that the change may not go through in this form, and we're also waiting for news on when this mini-patch will hit. Stay tuned for future announcements.

Filed under: Druid, Analysis / Opinion, Raiding, Classes, Buffs

Are set bonuses outdated?

Well now, here's an interesting thought to consider this weekend: Zemeny on Barthilas suggests that maybe it's time to do away with a gear mechanic that Blizzard has used since Diablo. He thinks that set bonuses deserve to be put out to pasture. He doesn't go into his reasoning much, but we can probably fill that in; not only do set bonuses tend to either be overpowered or too weak (as in, you usually need to have a specific set bonus to make or break a class), but they make gear choices uneven, usually leaving you to choose between an upgrade or a set bonus. Zemeny suggests we do away with the whole thing -- create one set bonus per tier, leaving upgrades for the gear itself, or just turn the set bonus into an extra gem or inscription slot and give us more power that way.

Ghostcrawler shows up in the thread and says that the game would be pretty boring if set bonuses weren't included -- I presume he means that you'd just upgrade your gear according to iLvl, and that would be that. He even says that he wishes the tiers varied more, but players really want to see "unambiguous upgrades" to their items. People need rewarding when they move up, so GC can't mix things up with the various bonuses as much as he might like.

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Filed under: Items, Blizzard, Instances, Bosses

The Daily Quest: How to fail the Trial

We here at WoW.com are on a Daily Quest to bring you interesting, informative and entertaining WoW-related links from around the blogosphere.

Filed under: Warlock, Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Guilds, The Daily Quest

Patch 3.3 PTR: Shadow Word: Pain not affected by haste

We heard a little while back from Ghostcrawler that haste would soon affect Heal-over-Time (HoT) and Damage-over-Time (DoT) spells, and sure enough, soon after that, Shadow Priests -- who use DoTs all the time -- saw a nice buff. But of course this is the PTR, and everything is subject to change, and so last weekend, Blizzard removed Shadow Word: Pain from that equation -- right now, it's not affected by haste at all. GC says that sure enough, Blizzard thought shadow priest DPS was too high with all of their DoTs given a boost, so SW:P got the boot (for now -- remember, this is all still on PTR).

Misery, my go-to shadow priest, has some good insight on the change, and says that sure, if shadow priest DPS was too high, it was too high. But it's too bad that Shadow Word: Pain had to take the nerf, especially since you get it so early on in the class and it's such an iconic spell for the spec. The reason these guys are so happy about the hasted DoTs is that DoTs as cast don't really scale with your gear -- they just sort of do their damage on their own. When haste got put into the equation, shadow priests became happy that they could go after more haste to increase the DoT part of the damage. They could tailor the spec and spells the way they wanted to use them.



Patch 3.3 is the last major patch of Wrath of the Lich King. With the new Icecrown Citadel 5-man dungeons and 10/25-man raid arriving soon, patch 3.3 will deal the final blow to Arthas. WoW.com's Guide to Patch 3.3 will keep you updated with all the latest patch news.

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Filed under: Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Classes, Talents, Buffs

Drama Mamas: Wife aggro

Dodge the drama and become that player everyone wants in their group with the Drama Mamas. Lisa Poisso and Robin Torres are real-life mamas and experienced WoW players -- and just as we don't want our precious babies to be the ones kicking and wailing on the floor of checkout lane next to the candy, neither do we want you to become known as That Guy on your server. We're taking your questions at DramaMamas (at) WoW (dot) com.

Wife aggro (GF aggro, SO aggro -- whatever you call it at your place) isn't about WoW. Let's get that misconception out of the way right now. Wife aggro is about balancing a relationship with a hobby that tantalizingly dangles one person physically in front of yet emotionally light years beyond the reach of the other partner. Wife aggro is about attention – who's giving it where, who's not getting enough. Wife aggro is about what happens when couples lose their grip on how to separate "me" time from "us" time, on how "being at home" is different than "being available." Wife aggro is about what happens when the wires of "my" time, "your" time and "our" time become crossed and start arcing angry, white-hot sparks. And left unchecked, wife aggro is about demands that cast one partner as the shrill arbiter of what the other partner is "allowed" to do and be.

Dear Mamas: I started WoW this year after many years of patient waiting until all the planets and resources aligned for me, and I was completely rewarded. During those times I was able to play 3-4 hours (at least) almost daily, having no personal issues because of the game (I'd still go to work, the gym, dancing classes, read, watch TV, out with friends, and last but not least, my girlfriend), and started getting invited to my Horde guild's raids.

But then I got married. In spite of having talked about it with my fiancé before the big step and agreeing I'd still play it casually, the first weeks were hell ... Every time I'd even try to look at my computer, she would invent something for us or me to do, and my gaming "time" was pushed back and back. Finally the bubble popped and we had a huge argument, and the best I could get from her was one
WoW day a week.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Tips, WoW Social Conventions, Virtual selves, Features, Drama Mamas

WoW, Casually: Deciding to raid as a parent

Robin Torres writes WoW, Casually for the player with limited playtime. Of course, you people with lots of playtime can read this too, but you may get annoyed by the fact that we are unashamed, even proud, of the fact that beating WoW isn't our highest priority. Take solace in the fact that your gear is better than ours, but if that doesn't work, remember that we outnumber you. Not that that's a threat, after all, we don't have time to do anything about it. But if WoW were a democracy, we'd win.

I finally hit 80 on my druid, Freja and since I am in The Spousal Unit's raiding guild, I was immediately able to put on some nice purples to help gear myself up. But gear myself up for what? Raiding has become much more accessible to those of us with limited playtime, but do I really want to go there?

Raiding involves more than just a contiguous block of time during which you can participate in a large group activity. Raids need and expect quite a lot from its members – more than just showing up and downing a few objectives, like you can in AV. If you, like me, are the primary caregiver in your household and have many other pursuits vying for your time, you need to consider many factors before making the decision to wade into the endgame.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Raiding, WoW, Casually

The argument for paladin stances

Righteous Defense lays out an intriguing argument for an idea that I still personally can't get behind: paladin stances. The recent changes around patch 3.3 have shined a light on paladin versatility, and basically, paladins are forced to pay the hybrid tax three times over -- because they can do it all without limiting themselves, they can't do anything as well as other classes. So RD makes the suggestion: instead of letting paladins have all of their spells under any aura, it's time to narrow things down a bit. Devotion Aura becomes tanking stance, gets Righteous Fury's threat bonus added to it, and enabling it makes pallies lose some other abilities (Avenger's Shield is RD's suggestion). Retribution Aura becomes a DPS "stance," with added benefits and costs, and so on. By forcing paladins into a playstyle, you can give them extra power, because you've taken away versatility.

Unfortunately for those in favor, I don't think it'll ever happen. First of all, we already have a class in the game that uses stances, and I think that this type of gameplay is too close for Blizzard's comfort to implement in the same way on paladins -- they want the classes to play different. Second, the paladin class design has always focused on the versatility of being a hybrid. While paladins may want to limit themselves to see buffs, Blizzard has never shown an inclination to limit pallies' versatility just to make them more powerful. I like the idea of Righteous Fury's buff getting linked up to something else (it definitely seems like it's out there on its own as an arbitrary tanking buff), but paladins getting a fully implemented stance system doesn't seem likely at all.

Filed under: Paladin, Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Raiding, Classes, Buffs

Shifting Perspectives: A 3.3 miscellany


Every week, Shifting Perspectives examines issues affecting druids and those who group with them. Today we root around our inbox and herd a series of scribbled notes across our desk, trying to get what we actually know about patch 3.3 in order. Also, Zach Yonzon's PhotoShop skills for the win, but we already knew that.

This week's column is going to be a little bit of a grab bag in much the same way that our patch 3.1 miscellany post was, because there have been a few changes on the PTR recently that we haven't yet discussed.

Before we get any farther, I'd also like to give a shout-out to our readers and commenters on last week's column, "The disappearance of the bear." I was a little antsy over how it was going to be received (lengthy articles on what's going wrong with a spec can get derailed into QQ-fests pretty easily, and that wasn't my intent), but was heartened to see so much quality discussion. One of the things I realized after reading through the comments was that Blizzard may actually have succeeded a little too well in their quest to make tanking more attractive and fun to the average player. WoW's four tanking classes (warrior, paladin, druid, and death knight) comprise 4 of the 5 most popular classes in the game right now. As I've written previously, the druid functions as the proverbial canary in the coal mine as a harbinger of class balance concerns, and with each of the game's plate classes numbering among the most played at 80, it's impossible for this not to have an impact on druid spec choice.

Anyway. For the moment, we are going to turn away from this rather depressing situation, and concern ourselves with what's going on in patch 3.3.

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Filed under: Druid, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Features, (Druid) Shifting Perspectives

Ghostcrawler and the "hybrid tax"

Ghostcrawler has put a significant sticky up on the forums about what he calls the "hybrid tax" in terms of PvE play -- there's been some back and forth lately on the forums about hybrid classes and what they should and shouldn't be able to do, and GC wants to put any confusion about what Blizzard intends "hybrids" to be to rest. Very basically, he says that there are three roles in the game (tanking, healing, and DPS), and if a class can respec to perform a different role, it's considered a hybrid class. Otherwise, it's a "pure" class. This means a few things: pure classes, he says, should have slightly higher DPS ("all things being equal," and when does that ever happen?), because they don't have the option to switch out. There's no rule as to how much better that is, but as a tradeoff of rerolling being the only way for "pures" to switch, they get to be a little better. That's the "hybrid tax," and mages, hunters, rogues, and warlocks don't have to pay it.

Hybrids, however, do, and that means that paladins, druids, priests, shamans, and to a certain extent, warriors and death knights, will in Blizzard's view never be able to equal "pure" classes in terms of DPS output, with everything else being equal. You may love your ret pally, and he may be in uber gear, but he should never be able to pour out as much damage as an equally specced and geared hunter, because you can switch to healing, and the hunter can't.

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Filed under: Druid, Hunter, Mage, Paladin, Priest, Rogue, Shaman, Warlock, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Raiding, Classes, Death Knight

Patch 3.3 PTR: Undocumented druid changes


Our esteemed colleague Boubouille has datamined some undocumented changes to druids on the patch 3.3 PTR, so while I'm waiting for it to download (53 more minutes.../sigh), let's take a look:

BALANCE

NATURE'S GRACE: Now procs from non-periodic spell criticals (old: all spell criticals).

So direct-damage spells (e.g. Wrath, Starfire, Moonfire's initial hit) or direct-healing spells (e.g. Regrowth's initial heal, Nourish) will be the only ones that can trigger the 20% haste effect from 3/3 Nature's Grace. This is definitely a nerf for Balance concerning Starfall and Hurricane crits, but it's also a nerf concerning specific gear sets. Moonfire's DoT component can crit if you're using Balance 2-piece Tier 9, and a Restoration druid rocking 4-piece Tier 9 gains the ability for Rejuvenation to crit.

For Balance's AoE situations and Starfall cooldowns, it's an out-and-out nerf, albeit a limited one given Starfall's cooldown and the unlikelihood of Hurricane playing a major role in any given boss fight. Otherwise, it's also a nerf directed at Tier 9 bonuses, unless Blizzard's planning on future tier bonuses (or class changes) that will make periodic damage and/or healing crits a routine thing. Stay tuned.

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Filed under: Druid, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, News items

Vanish "change" coming in patch 3.3


Ghostcrawler (who decided to back off the forums, and then decided to back off that decision slightly) is now back on the forums with word of a change that Rogues will probably be intrigued by: he promises, in patch 3.3, a "change" to Vanish. That's about all we get, unfortunately -- some players assume that it's the Vanish fix they've been seeking for so long, but it sounds more to me like a reworking than a straight-out fix, considering that he points out that if Blizzard finds it's too much of a buff to Rogues (is he actually saying that Vanish working as intended is OP?) then they'll nerf it down.

Anyway, as for when we'll get to try it out, GC gives an official "soon (tm)," so look for a fix on a 3.3 PTR near you coming up quick. Hopefully they've come up with a solution that both keeps Rogues happy in terms of using Vanish the way it's intended, and also keeps the ability in line with other classes in the game.

Filed under: Rogue, Patches, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Classes

Shifting Perspectives: Leveling 51-60



Every week, Shifting Perspectives examines issues affecting Druids and those who group with them. This week, we haul ourselves to Outland and are shocked to discover that +spellpower sometimes comes on leather.


The above video is the result of an idle question I was asked recently by a friend: "So how much damage would you guys do in caster form meleeing?" I started to answer and then realized I had no idea. The notion of actually hitting something with a weapon is utterly foreign to the class. We have claws and a can of celestial pain for that nonsense if provoked, but still, the question was pretty interesting, particularly because after seeing Prinnygod's comment from last week I started to wonder about all the different ways you could level as a Druid if you deliberately avoided Cat and Moonkin. Sure, you'd be a gibbering wreck at the level cap, but that's beside the point. Blizzard once had a talent called Weapon Balance in the Balance tree that improved our melee damage with weapons by 10% -- they were expecting us to hit things. I wondered how that would have worked out if Druid talent trees had never been overhauled.

So I took my main to the mobs outside the Argent Tournament and smacked stuff while running a stopwatch. What you'll see here is a level 79 Frostbrood Whelp with 12,600 health which took me 34.4 seconds to kill, with two global cooldowns devoted to casting a Rejuvenation and then a Lifebloom. I'm currently on a Feral (Bear) spec and thus wearing gear that does help one's melee damage, mind you, but that still works out to a godawful 366.28 DPS. The moral of our little story can be found at the end of the video. Master of Arms is going to be a real trip.

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Filed under: Druid, Analysis / Opinion, Features, Leveling, Guides, (Druid) Shifting Perspectives

Shifting Perspectives: Leveling 31-40 and notes on PvP servers


Every week, Shifting Perspectives examines issues affecting Druids and those who group with them. This week, we reach our 31-point talents and rejoice, for leveling is now...pretty much the same as it was before we got our 31-point talents, but nonetheless, level 40 is a milestone.

In the wake of the announcement concerning the upcoming abolishment of spell and ability ranks, I'm wondering whether it's worth our time to continue noting and linking the presence of new ranks while leveling. For now, I'm going to keep linking them; when Cataclysm hits, it shouldn't be too much trouble to go back and delete them, because I'll be revising the guides anyway to reflect any changes Cataclysm makes to the class. Also -- werewolves. Who saw that coming? Have you seen those racials? Sweet Sister Mary Clarence, those are overpowered. And the transform animation? Well, don't we all feel stupid now for rolling something that barely manages a weak whumph when it shifts. But I'm an optimist at heart, and I firmly believe that Blizzard has something special in mind for us. Maybe a bigger whumph.

On a completely unrelated note that I am going to write here just because I can, I was tanking a VoA-25 PuG earlier this week and we lost our offtank to a disconnect right before Emalon. We then spent the next 30 minutes trying to find another tank...with 7 Death Knights in the raid.

Hero class, my giant furry newly-improved butt.

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Filed under: Druid, Analysis / Opinion, Features, Leveling, Guides, (Druid) Shifting Perspectives

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