So I was in line at the grocery store the other day when the array of magazines at the checkout stand caught my eye. Useless People Weekly was running a quiz that promised to tell you things you already knew about yourself if you would consent to answer several questions and tally the results.
"Huh," said I. "What a marvelously scientific approach." But it gave me, as they say, ideas.
If you've never played a druid before, are you interested in knowing which spec best suits your personality? If you play a druid, are you interested in being told things you already know about yourself?
I was done. Really, I was. I was going to use this deployment to catch up on some reading, maybe a few PSP/DS games that I never got around to finishing, regular geek stuff. (Infinite Space + DS = win.) I was content.
Then came FIRECAT. An item that finally makes me stand out from the hunter pets? CAT DURID IS 4 FIER! Here's hoping they don't extend this to the other forms; last thing we need is names like Smokey for bears, Firewood for trees, and, um, Extra Tasty Crispy for moonkin. I'm sold. Here's my
$15, Blizz; I'm coming back, 4-digit pings or no. Onward!
Over the last few weeks, we've covered how to properly gear your cat for raiding in a Cataclysmic world. Unfortunately, all the gear in the world won't help you if you can't establish a good rotation. Today's column looks at some addons that will help you maximize your performance.
Custom buff/debuff trackers
Let's face it: The default UI is pretty horrible for tracking buffs and debuffs. The interface has vastly improved over time, but it still uses an icon-based scheme, and it appears in the top corner of your display, drawing your attention away from the action. As the feral rotation is very dependent on maintaining a self-buff and enemy debuffs, having a good way to track this information is important.
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Shifting Perspectives for bear, cat and restoration druids. Today we stop worrying about those inevitable moments where Rip and Savage Roar are due to fall off within seconds of each other, but are disturbed to discover that the feral damage bug remains.
Cats, in marked (and blessed) contrast to bears and resto, aren't changing a lot in patch 4.0.1 (barring a lingering DPS issue I'll talk about later), and the column I published earlier on the beta cat is still largely accurate if you want an ability-by-ability rundown on specific skills.
Every Tuesday, Shifting Perspectives explores issues affecting druids and those who group with them. This week, we wonder why Shred doesn't seem to appear in our combat logs.
My main is now 85 on the beta, and I've parked her at a training dummy from time to time to see what cat DPS looks like. Truthfully, I'm not sure that the resulting information is worth a damn, but it is representative of what you'll be seeing on a beta cat at the moment in questing gear.
Of the three specs we cover in the Tuesday column, cats have changed least, which I think is all to the good. Cats are emerging from Wrath in the best place we've ever been, with an interesting rotation and high damage potential subject to player skill and fight conditions. Blizzard seems to have concerned itself mostly with not changing what ain't broke and has instead moved to address some of the factors that have historically crippled cat DPS unfairly.
Every Tuesday, Shifting Perspectives explores issues affecting feral/restoration druids and those who group with them. This week, we attempt to locate your cat DPS problems with a small flashlight and a cricothyroidotomy.
Dear CatBearTree Girl,
DPS no good. Am parked on boss rear but is not dying, just mad. Send halp.
p.s. Is hard to write letters with paws.
I get versions of this letter pretty frequently, and whenever I do, I ask for an armory link and (when available) a World of Logs entry. Afterwards, we start going through the following possibilities in an effort to pinpoint what might be causing problems for a player who's trying get more damage out of his or her cat.
Every Tuesday, Shifting Perspectives explores issues affecting feral/restoration druids and those who group with them. This week, we are uncomfortably reminded of how similar the job and guild application processes are.
Appearances to the contrary, the waning days of an expansion are actually a pretty good time to apply to a raiding guild. That's when attendance gets choppy, the pool and the grill issue a siren call from the deck, people go on vacation, or -- having "finished" the expansion -- they just take off, period. If you look at the recruitment forums, you'll see a ton of guilds looking for players right now. If you've ever wanted to raid but haven't gotten the chance, I think there is no better time. The Icecrown zone buff is a fantastic buffer for anyone who's not emerging with a bevy of best in slot from tier 9, and the raid itself is one brilliant lore moment from beginning to end.
However, applying to a raiding guild -- particularly if you haven't done much raiding in the past -- can be on the intimidating side. With that in mind, here's a guide on how best to present yourself if you're applying anywhere as a feral or restoration druid.
Every week, Shifting Perspectives explores issues affecting druids and those who group with them. This week, we are proud to welcome a new generation of cats.
Of the three druid specs I cover in the Tuesday column, I think it's arguably toughest to gear a cat. Bears are pretty straightforward; they want armor, agility and gobs of stamina. They're not particularly fussy about the array of DPS stats that otherwise infests melee leather, and because all three of their primary stats appear in spades on PvP gear, they've got another set of reasonable options as long as they're willing (and able) to dump some threat.
Trees are even easier. If leather with spellpower drops, the rest of the party/raid groans, and you'll often get these items whether you wanted them or not. For a long time I've wondered if the continuing popularity of the tree has anything at all to do with how easy it is to build a functional healing set even when you're not trying.
Cats, on the other hand, tend to face a lot more competition. They have neither the bear's indifference to DPS stats, nor the tree's benefit of playing a relatively uncommon armor/stat combination. As a cat approaching the end game, you'll probably find yourself rolling against a beggar's army of melee and hunters drooling over melee leather.
Two words: armor penetration. These days every Two-Hand-Harry and Shadow's-Edge-Sally has a raging lust for armor penetration, and we band of buggered restricted to melee leather are paying the price.
Oh well. This article gave me an excuse to dig up a bunch of cat-related YouTube videos, and you can't stay mad for long.
Every week, Shifting Perspectives explores issues affecting druids and those who group with them. This week, we poke the issue of class homogenization and wait to see if it pokes back.
Before the class announcements hit, I had drafted an article on what I would have loved to see Blizzard do for bears, cats and trees in Cataclysm. You've already seen the expanded bear portion, which was published a few days before the druid announcement was made (no one's ever accused me of great timing), but the cat and tree bits have been (as we say) overtaken by events.
As a TL:DR on our previous feral analysis, seen through the lens of the tree article's conclusion on Blizzard's design intentions:
Cat damage is in a good place, druids are happy that it's not a "faceroll" spec, and I think Blizzard is happy with that as well. PvE-wise, I don't think we have a lot to worry about.
Many of the changes I saw have more interesting implications for PvP. This is the third expansion in a row where cats are getting more versions of rogue skills, in implicit recognition (I would argue) of the spec's uninspiring arena performance relative to its parent class.
Which leaves us with this week's question: When a spec is literally designed as a copy of a pure class, is a certain amount of class homogenization a good thing? Beware, readers -- arm-waving ahead!
Last night, Blizzard made the druid class announcement for planned changes in Cataclysm. For all those of you who were around for the Burning Crusade or Wrath of the Lich King betas, you'll already know that what we think is going to happen to the class and what actually winds up happening are not necessarily the same thing. For the moment, however, it's a safe bet that we'll see most of these changes around for the Cataclysm beta when it goes live and then tweaked further as testing continues.
As an aside, if any Blizzard employees reading this take issue with my analysis, I welcome any questions, comments or criticism enclosed in the post-script to a beta invitation, which I will totally read.
Resto druids, fear not; your analysis article will go live soon too! I split the articles up for better organization, especially because so much discussion broke out after the announcement concerning Tree of Life form.
There's a bit of a gentlemen's wager going on here behind the scenes at WoW.com; the author of the weekly feature that gets the most hits by the end of the month will get cookies from Elizabeth Harper.
And I like cookies.
The following is a list of titles that were subsequently rejected by the editors for inclusion in this week's edition of Shifting Perspectives:
Shifting Perspectives: Naked women playing Cataclysm alpha.
Shifting Perspectives: Paladins suck.
Shifting Perspectives: Everyone should be nerfed but me.
Shifting Perspectives: Gear Score is amazing.
I've had a number of requests for caster DPS staves lately, so I decided to highlight Cryptmaker, which isn't actually a caster DPS staff at all so I have no idea why I chose this particular intro. Rather than dwell on it, let's move on with our lives.
I had the pleasure of meeting a completely new player on my server not all that long ago. He'd rolled a rogue and was slowly making his way through both levels and the avalanche of bewilderment common to new players. I haven't forgotten what it was like to be tossed into a world of frequent acronyms and gamer parlance, and I spent some time giving him tips. Between making helpful suggestions like, "Wow, I guess you can't jump off the Thunder Bluff elevator at that point" and "Did you ever consider rolling a druid?", I discovered that he was in the habit of dying a lot.
For new players, that's not unusual, but it was how he was dying that really got my attention. Starting most fights from Stealth, he'd sneak up to a mob, most typically from the front, and then attempt to circle to the side or rear for a Backstab opener. A good 90% of the time, the mob would attack him midway through the process, which -- as you can imagine -- is a disconsolate state of affairs for someone who aspires to be an invisible ninja.
As soon as I saw this, I said, "Well, that's your problem right there."
Every week, Shifting Perspectives explores issues affecting druids and those who group with them. This week, everyone discovers (as I have been saying for years, but who listens to the bear tank with an ass the size of Cincinnati? No one, that's who)that PUG's are not so bad.
Moore returns with a ukulele. I'm going to pull out one of the big guns on the folk scene in the Americas -- Richard Shindell. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a high-quality version of this song available anywhere online, and I highly recommend listening to the versions off Shindell's Sparrow's Point or (more especially) the live album Courier. Yes, it starts off slow, but give it a chance. On A Sea of Fleur-de-Lis is a very odd, albeit poetic, song with esoteric lyrics, although they make a little more sense once you know they were written while Shindell was considering leaving Union Theological Seminary. Otherwise, as with many of Shindell's pieces, BYO subtext.
That's just a widely-disseminated myth, as all those of us on the Retaliation battlegroup know. You have tried the new LFG, right? Allow me to be the Virgil to your Dante in this new, more lucrative version of hell. Concerning tanks, by the way --
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.