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Posts with tag balance

Shifting Perspectives: Leveling 10-20 and how to spec


Every week, Shifting Perspectives examines issues affecting Druids and those who group with them. This week, we begin to enjoy our brand-new Bear and Cat forms in earnest.

Hail and well met, Druids. I apologize for my lack of comments on the last Shifting Perspectives, but I was away that week on vacation with abysmal hotel wireless. After spending 20 minutes trying to send a single reply, I gave up and decided that my time on vacation was better spent gorging myself on the offerings of the resort's culinary school. 4 days of coquilles St. Jacques, filet mignon, and venison sausage in puff pastry left me unable to move, but fortunately I have recovered sufficiently to roll myself, Violet Beauregarde-style, in the direction of the laptop for today's column.

Levels 10 through 20 will be among your most interesting and frustrating as a Druid, and they're certainly among the most volatile; as of patch 3.2, you will gain 4 of the Druid's possible forms within these levels, with the biggest alteration to your playstyle likely to occur at 20 with Cat form. Be forewarned that this resulted in a fairly lengthy, 3-part article.

Ready to go?

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

World of Warcraft Patch 3.2 Druid Guide


WoW.com has covered patch 3.2 extensively. Everything from the surprising changes to flying mounts, to the latest and greatest loot, and all the changes in between. In our patch 3.2 class guides we take a look at exactly what changes in each class and how the changes will affect your playing.

In case you can't tell, I really loved the series of pictures I got to shoot on the PTR of the new Night Elf cat loping across the frozen wastes of Dragonblight. It is almost impossible to take a bad picture with the new forms, but there's just something about them that inspires you to hit the road looking for the best contexts in which to show them off. I foresee this may prove troublesome in the poorly-lit reaches of certain dungeons, where Druids will be loath to walk for fear that their beauty may only imperfectly grace the monitor. Such is life, my friends.

Where was I? I had to stop there to weep into a sherry. Well, no matter. Patch 3.2 is here, and with it a number of changes for the Druid class, both good and bad.

Read on for a guide to all 4 specs in 3.2 and the changes likely to impact Druids in both PvE and PvP.

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Filed under: Druid, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Features, Guides

Blizzard to focus on battlegrounds more

Ghostcrawler has posted a little paragraph on the forums, reaffirming something we've already heard from Blizzard: that in the past, they've spent more time on Arenas to the detriment of battlegrounds, and that battlegrounds are going to be gaining a little more focus in the future. They've already started, actually, with the Isle of Conquest in 3.2, but GC says there's even more on the table, and that future plans will be revealed at BlizzCon.

He also brings up another good point, however: in terms of class balance, Arenas are a much more striking example of imbalances than battlegrounds are. Battlegrounds have all sorts of things going on, and so you don't get as good a picture of just how the different classes work with and against each other as you do in Arenas. And so, if you're a dev trying to figure out class balances, of course you'll spend more time looking at the Arena gameplay than the BGs. GC also says that the majority of issues in BGs tend to be map-based rather than class imbalances, which is really a whole other science. Not that BGs aren't relevant to how the classes work, just that there are many more variables in there than the relative vacuum chamber of Arenas.

All good points. I'm a fan of battlegrounds much more than Arenas, but I don't particularly feel that Blizzard has ignored them necessarily. The real problem, to my mind, with BGs is simply how faction imbalanced they are: it seems like on every realm in every given BG, one side always seems to have the upper hand, for whatever reason. Sometimes it's a population problem, sometimes it's a map issue. But GC is right: those problems are more pressing than class balance in the BGs.

Filed under: Horde, Alliance, Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Odds and ends, Blizzard, PvP, Classes, Battlegrounds, Arena

Druid Q&A followup

In a somewhat surprising turn of events, the devs have decided to do a followup to the recent Druid Q&A, tackling certain things with more specifics rather than the general approach they took originally. The followup seems mostly aimed at Druid PvP, perhaps an omen of the future. It reminds me much more of the unofficial Shadow Priest Q&A that Ghostcrawler tackled, addressing very specific issues.

For convenience, the full followup can be read below.

Q: Players feel that the effect of Feral Cat Charge isn't as good as the Feral Bear Charge yet the cat charge has double the cooldown. What is the reasoning behind the cooldown difference of these two abilities?
A: Feral Charge Bear mirrors warrior Charge (15 sec), while Feral Charge Cat mirrors Shadowstep (30 sec). They are really different abilities. We just had to put them on a shared cooldown to keep the druid from using them back to back.

Q: Are we satisfied with the damage that Shred does without a bleed/mangle effect on the target compared to how much it does with the bleed effect?

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Filed under: Druid, Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard

Shifting Perspectives: Getting started and leveling 1-9


Every Tuesday, Shifting Perspectives explores issues affecting Druids and those who group with them. This week, we begin at the beginning, and we will go on until the end. Then we will stop. Then we will ask ourselves why we are taking advice from 19th century children's literature rather than the books that are relevant to our interests, like Why Buying a House You Have No Idea How To Renovate Is Probably a Bad Idea, or Smoked Salmon and You: A Guide To Not Eating Yourself Into a Coma.

Greetings, Druids. I took the liberty of rolling a few new Druids to test out the improved leveling process, and if possible I'm going to level a brand-new one all the way to 80 to make sure everything in the guide's been personally tested and accurate as of the 3.1/3.2 game world. Today we'll start off with a baby Tauren Druid on the PTR who's now level 9; later I'll be switching between a Night Elf and a Tauren.

Level Feral.

This is the single best thing you can do for yourself, at least for leveling in classic content. As we've previously discussed, the Druid is still hobbled by its initial design as an endgame secondary healer, but you can skip a certain portion of this early weakness by leveling feral. Piggybacking off all of the DPS leather that went into the game to support the billions of people who rolled Rogues is a nice advantage, but the real attraction of leveling Feral lies in the ability to DPS in forms that don't require mana. Being able to save your mana bar for healing and buffing decreases downtime enormously (more so as you gain levels, as our mana efficiency and damage aren't that great early on).

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

Ghostcrawler on class representation and balance

Ghostcrawler has a nice exchange on the forums (and it's not marked "Not Tracked", so you know he wants us reading this one) about how much of a role class representation actually plays in class balance. Obviously, balance itself plays the biggest role in class balance -- if (using GC's completely hypothetical example) Feral Druids are overpowered as tanks, then Blizzard would have to look into nerfing Feral Druids.

But what if Feral Druids only make up a small percentage of the tanks in Ulduar? Should Blizzard nerf the 5% of tanks that are Druids down until they're only 2% of the population? Just because classes are overpowered doesn't mean that actual class populations are, and all of these things go into the mix when Blizzard makes decisions about how to balance the classes.

Look at Hunters as well -- just last week we talked about how the class population is falling off, and yet they're one of the top three classes played on both factions. So should Blizzard buff or nerf them?

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Filed under: Druid, Hunter, Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Instances, Classes, Death Knight, Forums

Class Q&A: Druid

Blizzard's class Q&A is back again, this time with a class that's near to my heart: Druid. I play my Druid more than my Priest these days (who says there's a healer shortage?), and I've grown pretty enamored with the class. But you didn't come hear to hear me talk about me. What did Ghostcrawler have to say on behalf of the dev team?

Every class Q&A so far has started with a section on the class's past and present.

  • In original WoW, end-game Druids were basically healing-only.
  • BC: Bears were pretty good; cats and (b)oomkin were probably still underpowered. This was the era of the hybrid tax.
  • Wrath: all four specs are viable.

Of course, PvP is a bit different, with Resto's dominance in the BC era.

After the break we'll take a look a closer look at a few areas, and present to you the complete Q&A.

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Filed under: Druid, Classes

Shifting Perspectives: Why (or why not) to play a Druid


Every week (sort of), Shifting Perspectives explores issues affecting Druids and those who group with them. This week, in the anticipation of a patch likely to bring many new players into the fold, we descend into the depths of an ancient library in pursuit of Druidic history, lean back in our chair considering the modern form of the class, cast a gimlet eye toward the future, and then wonder how many more clichés we can shove into a sentence before readers start writing angry letters to our editor.

Dear new Druids,

Welcome to the class -- and for some of you, welcome back. I've observed a flood of players rolling premade Druids on the PTR to try out with the new bear and cat forms, and with the promise of new moonkin and tree forms arriving at some point in the future, I think it's reasonable to expect lots of you trying (or rediscovering) the class on the live realms. You are most welcome, and we are glad to have you. This is the best class in the game.

Now, I'll grant I'm prejudiced, because I have loved this class since the first day I started playing. I love it so much that it's difficult for me to remember that there are 5...or 8...or...however many other classes there are. I don't know. I haven't checked lately. I'm told Blizzard added another one, but I can't be expected to keep up with every little thing.

So.

It is possible that we have changed more than any other class between the beginning of the game and July 2009 as I write this. I want you to know what the Druid is all about, why it might be a good choice for you, and why (as much as I find this difficult to write) you may wish to steer clear before we start a series on leveling a Druid.

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Filed under: Druid, Analysis / Opinion, Features, Humor, Lore, Leveling, Classes, (Druid) Shifting Perspectives

Patch 3.2 Druid changes


3.2 approaches! Sort of. The PTR itself isn't up yet (at least, not as I write this), but nonetheless, 3.2 approaches on little cat feet.

I'm going to examine the 3.2 PTR patch notes line by relevant line, just because there are several changes that impact Druids while not being class-specific. If you want a quick summary without being massively spoiled, Balance is getting a huge and welcome change to the functionality of Eclipse, Cats are getting bonked by the nerfbat, and PvP-Restos are really getting bonked by the nerfbat. Bears, well...not much is going to happen to bears this patch, which is a little demoralizing given the improvements being made to Pally tanks, but that's OK. We still have our, uh, amazing Tier 8 set bonuses and...um...the best -- sort of -- tanking cooldowns in, uh, the...uh...

...Oh, screw it, just stack the hell out of stamina and pray to the gods of RNG if your guild's dumb enough to try Ulduar on hard-mode. Congratulations; you have now done all you can possibly do to prepare yourself for modern tanking.

Sad lolbare is sad. But cough syrup for everybody! Is nise! Now let's take a look:

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

Ghostcrawler on the Jewelcrafting nerf and design philosophy

The Jewelcrafting nerf has been the subject of a lot of hot debate and flaming on the official forums, as might be expected. As people argue whether the nerf was justified, needed, too much, too little, or the wrong way to go about it, the blues have dipped their toes into the pool more than once, and have delivered some interesting insights into the design process in the process.

If it was so overpowered, complain some, why did it take so long to nerf it? Ghostcrawler answers in this post.

It's not that they don't notice that something is overpowered, he says, but it does take some time to find a proper fix. Sometimes, it just isn't overpowered until a certain gear level. Sometimes, there may be bug fixes or larger problems that need answering first.Sometimes, they may need to debate over the proper way to fix it. Finally, they may have a more ambitious long-term solution in mind, and may have finally decided they can't delay until that's done.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, News items, Jewelcrafting

Ghostcrawler hints at another patch before patch 3.2


With many of the major features of patch 3.2 having been announced, and a lot of people already somewhat bored with patch 3.1 content, and with the new dungeon/raid instance being a relatively simple "arena" format, many have been hoping that we'll see a 3.2 PTR soon. However, it looks like we'll have to wait a bit longer than hoped. In a recent post regarding adjustments to Druid set bonuses, Ghostcrawler let slip that a change would be coming "long before 3.2."

While it's possible this could just be slipped in with other hotfixes, it does seem to imply that we can expect another bug fix and minor balance tweaking patch before 3.2 hits the servers. Of course, this is probably good news for those hoping for adjustments and fixes for their class or spec, but for those who just want more new stuff to do: Well, sorry, you may have to make those ulduar trips or Argent Tournament dailies last just a bit longer.

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

Blizzard's success with equalizing content

Kinless Chronicles talks about something I think Blizzard has done exceptionally well with the latest expansion: "equalized content." Their story is about taking control of a Blightblood to finish off Drakuru, but there are countless examples of this in Northrend, from the last fight of Drak'theron to the encounter in Eye of Eternity with Malygos. World of Warcraft (and MMOs in general) has always been about levels and gear -- get better gear or level up, and you can cast more spells, swing an axe harder, and move on to more epic encounters. But Blizzard's "equalizing content" means that gear isn't always an issue -- by putting you in control of something else, whether that be a mind-controlled Troll or a siege vehicle, you can have extremely epic encounters without worrying about whether you're powerful enough for them or not. The limiter becomes not gear but skill (and/or the knowledge of how to use those skills).

Obviously they can't do nothing but equalized content, otherwise we're all just playing the same game (and, under pressure from players, they've even moved on to a mix of both, where gear does affect how you play in a vehicle). But Blizzard has really hit on something brilliant with what we're calling "equalized content" here, and used in a balanced way, it can allow players of all kinds of different skill levels to do even more epic things than they'd normally be able to do.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Blizzard, Instances, Expansions, Bosses, Wrath of the Lich King

Breakfast topic: Your priority list

We got an email from a reader concerned with the amount of time he spends playing WoW. It seems to be negatively impacting his school and social lives. Most of us manage to balance out WoW time with our real life obligations, but there is a strong possibility that addiction can set in. I cannot stress enough the importance of balance.

I think that one of the keys to keeping both your WoW life and your real life balanced is by identifying your priority list. Every once in a while do a reality check and make sure you're keeping it in line. For me WoW sits somewhere between work and sleep (then again, I've never slept much). My guildies know that I will not be on on Friday nights, that's "sister time." I do play WoW when I'm on work trips, but I never go anywhere particularly exciting.

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Filed under: Tips, Virtual selves, Breakfast Topics, Forums

Shifting Perspectives: A brief history of time

Every Tuesday, Shifting Perspectives explores issues affecting Druids and those who group with them. This week, we plagiarize from Stephen Hawking, jack a WABAC Machine, and begin a joyride through the evolution of the Druid class.

Dear Blizzard,

There are too many bosses to write about in Ulduar. I find this vexing. Please eliminate 5.

Sincerely,

Sleepless in Silithus


Salutations, Druids. As is probably obvious, we're going to take a detour out of Ulduar class strategy this week, because I'm going to shoot myself if I have to write about another boss I haven't been able to smack around since the PTR. We'll be back for Freya, Thorim, and assorted vaguely Norse-sounding entitites wishing to destroy the world for some unspecified reason but they drop phat lewtz so who cares next week.

Anyway, one of the things that's fascinated me about the Druid class since Burning Crusade is the growth in its popularity. Historically we have never been among the more commonly-played classes, and for a wide swathe of classic WoW and BC, were actually the least-played class or within the bottom 3. While there are various reasons for this (and I could devote a column to how this probably happened), Druids became more popular as time went on, and an increasing number of people began to play the class without knowing just how far it's come.

A little time spent reading through Wowwiki's list of the game's patches makes for interesting reading. A little more than 5 years ago, Druids could Feign Death, the Feral 31-point talent was Improved Pounce, and Moonkin form wasn't even in a gleam in a designer's eye.

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

GC's happy with healing in Ulduar

Ghostcrawler has appeared in two different threads talking about healing today, and the gist of it is that he's happy. He's happy with healing and the way it works in Ulduar: there's a good variety between boss fights and phases, there are intense moments and pauses in the action, and he says they've got things to a point where they like them. Later, he says that while in Naxx, you don't really have to warn the healer too much (you can basically tell them to heal the MT and leave it at that), Ulduar requires healers to get into the rhythm -- sometimes go all out, and sometimes hold back. He does say that too much mana is still an issue for them, and if anything gets nerfed in that department, Replenishment will. But he doesn't expect too many nerfs for a while.

That doesn't mean, of course, that the big healing update is out the window -- GC still hints that there are more changes in store for healing, and we'd bet coppers to gold that there are both mechanic changes and possibly even a hero class due for healers soon. But for now, healing is where they want it in the current content, and it sounds like most players agree.

Now, there's just PvP...

Filed under: Druid, Paladin, Priest, Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Instances, Raiding, Bosses

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