Friday, April 30, 2010

Signs of a Bad Moonkin Player

After a week of commenting on WoW news, I thought it was time to bring the attention back to moonkins.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I have had some great teachers on how to be a good moonkin and I have done a lot of research.  However, there are some traits that I have seen in moonkins that are things that have to be watched for and corrected if they are seen.  Here are some of the major signs of a bad moonkin player:

1) Any Points in the Moonglow Talent - This is a mana conserving talent.  While somebody who may be leveling may have points in Moonglow in the Balance tree to get there mana back and thus less down time, for a raiding moonkin, there is no reason.  Especially on 25 mans where many classes have ways to increase mana.  Unless I'm spamming hurricane on trash, I rarely get low on mana even in 10 mans.  Moonglow is a pretty much useless talent for a raiding moonkin.

2) Gemming Straight Spellpower - A moonkin should never gem straight spellpower for several reasons.  One, if they are using the proper meta gem, they need to have two blue gems at least.  Second, while spellpower is important, you cannot ignore gems for haste or crit.  Elitist Jerks recommends gemming for any spellpower bonus +5 or over.  I have some issues with that however which is why I recommend gemming for spellpower bonus +7 or over.   If you go for +5 or over, either of the gems you will use in that spot whether yellow or blue (I will have a whole post on gems later, plus I don't have Wowhead at work so I can't link the proper names for the gems), you will have +12 spellpower plus some other stat.  If the bonus is +5, this means you will end up with a net of +17 spellpower.  If you would have gemmed straight spellpower, you would have lost 6 spellpower.  Multiply that by the possible gear that could have those bonuses (head, neck, shoulder, chest, wrist, waist, hands, legs, boots, two rings, and a staff), you get a loss of 72 spellpower, which could be significant.  If you gem for +7 or better, you will either lose +4 or +2 depending on the bonus.  Even worst case scenario, you are only losing 50 spellpower.  You are trading 50 spellpower for more crit or haste, which seems like a fair trade.  In most cases, this is less because several pieces of tier gear and weapons have +9 spellpower.  In many cases, you will also get the bonus by just gemming spellpower.  The tier hands, shoulders, and head come to mind with this.  This would also make the loss less if you gem for +7 or above.

3) They Consider DPS More Important Than Staying Alive - This is actually just a general bad player rule, but it especially holds true for moonkins.  Both of our major attacks at least have a cast time of 1 second, with Starfire having even a longer cast.  However, if it is a choice between casting and dieing and moving and staying alive, you should always move.  Remember, dead = 0 DPS.

4) They Stop Casting - As a moonkin, there is the ABC rule, which is Always Be Casting.  Even while moving, you can be refreshing DoTs or casting Starfall.  If you are standing still, you should be proccing your Eclipses and having more control over your DoTs, which brings me to

5) They Clip DoTs - This is something that even the most experienced players have trouble with.  If you are moving, it is ok to refresh DoTs if they are low.  However, as a general rule, you should try not to clip your DoTs.  Clipping DoTs involves resetting the timer before the timer goes off.  If you do that, you could cost yourself DPS because you clipped off a DoT tick.  This will become less of an issue in Cataclysm with how they are reworking DoTs and make it where you add on time, but even that will have a limit.

6) They Continually Cast Wrath on Lunar Eclipse or Starfire on Solar Eclipse - I give myself a one cast rule due to travel time.  If I see a Lunar Eclipse proc, I have one cast before I should be casting Starfire since there is no reason to cut a Wrath when it is mid-casting.  Same with Starfire proccing a Solar Eclipse.  You need to get to the higher damage outputing spell as quickly as possible.

7) They Glyph Typhoon - This is somebody who can't control themselves.  You should be able to not cast Typhoon on trash packs.  Plus, if you glyph Typhoon, you are giving up the two beneficial effects from Typhoon in the first place, the knockback and the snare.

8) They Typhoon at Inappropriate Times - Everybody has the accidental button press where they Typhoon where they are not suppose to, but in general, you should not Typhoon unless the situation is appropriate.  I thought at one time that you should Typhoon every boss.  However, the more I'm testing it, you really should not.  The DPS gain from a global cooldown of Typhoon versus even a global cooldown of Wrath is not worth it.  Times where it is appropriate to Typhoon include the following: Saurfang and Lich King Phase 3.  And if you are doing Onyxia, for the love of all that is good and holy, do not Typhoon whelplings.  Quith's Quips just had a really good article recently about the use of Typhoon, and I would direct you there for a more in depth discussion of Typhoon.

9) They Do Not Use Treants - The Treants actually provide a fair amount of DPS and should be used on cooldown if possible.  There are some fights where it is tough, like Dreamwalker where the adds are dying really quickly.  The ideal would be use them at the beginning of the fight and before Heroism if you know it is coming.

10) They Pull Threat - If you go all out at the beginning of a fight, especially in 10 mans, you can pull threat pretty easily.  I did it with just a normal rotation on one of my 10 man Lich King fights.  Use Omen and just wait if needed.  Now, I stick my treants on the Lich King and cast Faerie Fire until he is in position, then bring the fury.

11) They Are Not Soft Hit or Soft Haste Capped - Every moonkin should be soft hit capped, which is 263 without Heroic Presence and if appropriately specced. (A post coming later about proper raid specs as well).  Even in 25 mans where a dranaei is almost a guarantee, I would still aim for 263 so you are not dependent on another person to be hit capped.  The other important cap is the soft haste cap, which is 408.  This makes your Wrath casting time equal to the global cooldown.  This will allow you to proc your Lunar Eclipse quicker.  Beyond that, it gets more into max/min areas.  I would forward you to Elitist Jerks threads on the balance of crit versus haste.

12)  They Do Not Cast Faerie Fire - This is the biggest one.  Even at the soft hit cap, you will still not hit the boss without Faerie Fire because it improves hit by 3%, which with other talents in your spec, will put you at the total 17% hit cap.  It also gives you a 3% crit bonus.  One of the interesting situations is the possibility that this will override Faerie Fire from your feral tank.  The answer is no.  Feral Faerie Fire and Balance Faerie Fire are two different spells and both can be on the boss at the same time.  However, if any Faerie Fire is on the boss, you will get the 3% crit bonus.  It should also be noted that Misery by a shadow priest can give you the 3% hit bonus as well.

Edit:  Thanks to Qieth for correcting me on the Moonglow and Faerie Fire issues.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

When The Raid Is Canceled - Fun Activities To Do In WoW

Everybody has that night where people do not show up and you have to cancel a raid before it really gets started.  There are several activities to do on those nights where the raid is canceled.  It also depends on what raid is canceled.

Last night, our 10 man raid was canceled due to us missing a tank.  So what exactly did I do.  Nothing really.  I watched the new episode of South Park and Ugly Americans and went to bed.  But that is just what I would normally do on Wednesday anyway.  However, if I was going to list some activities to do, this would be a list of what I would do in WoW.

1) Run a random 5 man - I mostly avoid these now because I hate dealing with PUGs.  However, I do have to remember some of my tanking skills so I throw on my bear gear and tank a 5 man.  Just one though unless I need emblems for gems, etc.

2) Run a random BG - The rewards are pretty good for running the random BG now so I would do that and get some honor for PvP gear or gems.

3) Run a QQ Premade - I mentioned them in another post, but this a group that runs alliance 40 man BG to get maximum honor.  You do not even have to actually join a group.  You can join up individually from anywhere.  Just jump in their vent and good to go.

4) Level fishing - I'm 41 points from max fishing so I could finish that before Cataclysm.

5) Druid Sky Diving - A little sport I invented in Burning Crusade.  This is a lot of fun to do if you just want to mess around.  Jump off of Dalaran yelling "GOODBYE CRUEL WORLD" only to be safe and flying off near the ground.

6) Run a 10 man - If the 25 man raid is canceled, we can usually get enough together to do a 10 man.  From there, the possibilities are endless.  Heroic ICC 10?  Sure.  TotGC?  Awesome.  Ulduar HMs?  Great.

7) Alts - I have a mage who is level 73 and is so close to being at max level.  I would really like to get my mage to 80 before then.  Then, I would like to get my level 61 deathknight up to level 80 by tanking heroics.  I'm even thinking of doing the Recruit a Friend again to get the new two person rocket.  Then I can go around to people in the guild and tell them to jump on my rocket. :)

8) Crusader - I'm both surprised and not surprised at how many people don't have the Crusader title from the Argent Tourney.  On one hand, it is almost 30 days of grinding to get it plus you may have to go back and do starter area quest to raise rep with some factions.  However, it is easy to do the quest and you get massive amounts of gold and other goodies.  Plus, the pet you get for getting crusader that can act as a bank, a traders, or a mailbox is awesome.  I already have this but it is awesome to have.

9) Mess with people in trade chat - Warning:  Do not do this unless you are absolutely bored.  Trade chat has been known to cause loss of brain cells when exposed for more than 15 minutes.

10) Play other games - I'm only 10 hours into FF XIII and have not touched God of War III.  I also am in the Starcraft II beta and have played some, but definitely need to play more.

I'm sure I can think of a few other things, but would love to hear some suggestions on what you like to do in WoW when your raid is canceled.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Cataclysm Badge and Point Changes Preview

In a day full of Cataclysm news, we get more delicious Cataclysm goodness from the blue posters at Blizzard.

We're continuing to refine the badge/emblem and PvP point systems in Cataclysm and we'd like to share some of those changes with you today. Please enjoy!

Our primary goal when approaching badges in Cataclysm is to address a lot of the confusion that comes with these currency systems. To that end we're changing badges to a more straightforward point system, similar to the ones we've used for a while for Arenas and Battlegrounds. There will be a total of four types of points you can earn in Cataclysm (two for PvE and two for PvP), and these will remain the same even as we introduce new content.

Here's the breakdown:

  • Hero Points -- Low-tier, easier-to-get PVE points. Maximum cap to how many you can own, but no cap to how quickly you can earn them. Earned from most dungeons. (most like the current Emblem of Triumph)
  • Valor Points -- High-tier, harder-to-get PvE points. Maximum cap to how many you can own, as well as a cap to how many you can earn per week. Earned from Dungeon Finder daily Heroic and from raids. (most like the current Emblem of Frost)

  • Honor Points -- Low-tier, easier-to-get PVP points. There will be a maximum cap to how many you can own, but no cap to how quickly you can earn them. Earned from most PvP activities.
  • Conquest Points -- High-tier, harder-to-get PvP points. There will be a maximum cap to how many you can own, and a cap to how many you can earn per week. Earned from winning Rated Battlegrounds or Arenas. (currently called Arena Points)

When a new tier of raiding gear is released or a new PvP season begins, your higher tier of points will be converted into the lower tier. For instance, if a new tier of raid gear is released, your Valor points will be converted to Hero points, and similarly if a new PvP season begins your Conquest points will be converted to Honor points. Of course that means with these new releases you'll always begin without any of the higher tier of points, and thus be unable to stockpile them.

As noted for Conquest points, the Rated Battlegrounds and Arenas will be sharing this same point type. Because of that, it will in fact be possible to get the best PvP items without setting foot in Arena; however, more powerful armor and weapons will of course require more Conquest points, so players who win their matches more often will still gear up faster. We're removing personal rating requirements on almost all items; they're definitely removed for weapons. We might offer a few items to the absolute best players based on personal rating, largely as cosmetic or 'bragging rights' type items. And you'll have the option of purchasing the previous season’s gear with the more readily available Honor points.
have a way to convert Honor points (PvP) into Hero points (PvE), and vice versa, at a loss. The conversions will be possible, but it won't be a 1:1 rate, and you'll have fewer points after the conversion process. We won't allow the higher tiers to be exchanged for each other, however
We do plan to .

To explain the reasoning for the weekly cap on points for the higher tiers, this is to provide flexibility in how players choose to earn the points without feeling like they have to do all of the content as often as it is available. If your Valor income from raiding is sufficient, you may not feel the need to run Dungeon Finder every night, or perhaps even at all. Likewise, a PvP player could choose to participate in a lot of Rated Battlegrounds but no Arenas, or focus on both, and still be able to earn the points they want.

We realize that with any changes to progression pathways there are going to be questions. We're eagerly awaiting any that we may have left unanswered. To the comments!

Here are just a few of my random thoughts on this, specifically how this relates to the raid progression news we heard yesterday.

1)  This will be a step up from the current system of having to have a new badge for every level.  It seems like it will be a much easier transition now when new Tiers come out.  It also gives a reason to spend valor points instead of hording them since they get down converted in the next tier up.  Use it for your tier gear, then your offspec tier gear, then get everything you can from the mats for new items, etc.

2) This makes the 10/25 man raid change more understandable.  If you just got one extra emblem for downing a boss on 25 mans, it would not make it worth it to run 25 mans.  However, since each boss will drop valor points, they can at least make the number much higher, which is awesome.  This could also play a bigger role when it comes to pricing items that can be bought with hero/valor points.

3)  Blizzard may be making a push to bring back pre-raid Tier gear (think back to original WoW).  Currently, you can buy one tier back in gear with Triumph badges.  At level 85, what would you be able to purchase with hero points?  I think we can say safely that you will be able to buy level 85 gems and some PvP gear with hero points.  However, I could also see Blizzard introducing a pre-raid Tier of gear that you get by running random heroics, etc.  The other reason I'm thinking this is they have put a cap on what you can get.  If it was just going to be random gear, why not let there be no maximum and people just earn all they can.

4)  Blizzard has been trying to find a way to get PvPers to experience PvE content and vice versa.  I think it is safe to say that there will be a Wintergrasp-esque zone in Cataclysm.  However, now there is a second reason to PvP.  If we can convert honor points to hero points, even at a loss, we would have more of a reason to PvP.  I also would not expect conquest points to convert to valor points, it will convert to hero points at a potentially higher rate.   

5) Goodbye requirements on Arena weapons.  Now, as a moonkin, I could care less about arena weapons unless I add them to my PvP set.  However, for feral druids, some of the best tanking weapons in the game are Arena weapons with their incredibly high stamina.  Either one of two things have to happen, they have to adjust stats on PvP weapons to prevent tanks from picking them up as BiS weapons or they have to adjust stats on PvE drops to be more in line with some of the high end PvP weapons.

6) Hello Rated Battlegrounds.  This may be one of the first post where they discuss rated battlegrounds.  I'm terrible at arenas, however, rated battlegrounds would be awesome.  Especially considering our battlegroup has a group (Hello QQ Premades, if you read this) that run battlegrounds, like AV, for maximum honor.  Now, they can run rated battlegrounds for maximum conquest points.

7) This gives more credence to what I said about one tier token for heroic raids in each tier.  If all raids are going to drop valor points, this means there has to be some way to upgrade tier gear to heroic tier.  This means that heroic tier gear has to have a specific tier token.  My current guess is that you may be able to buy pre-tier raiding set with hero points, tier gear with valor points, and then heroic tier gear with tokens.  When the next tier opens up, you will able to buy one tier back with hero points and current tier with valor points and heroic current tier with tokens.

8) What is going to be the price of items in hero points and valor points?  If you are going by PvP gear, we can guess that gear is going to be costing thousands of hero/valor points if they try to draw a correlation between the two.  Of course, they may just come out with something new entirely.

9) Cataclysm is closer than we think.  They are starting to release loads of information about the expansion.  My prediction right now is either late August or early September.

So what are  you thoughts on the badge and point changes.  Overall, I'm very optimistic about this one and I do not see a whole bunch of negatives coming from it.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Cataclysm Raid Progression Preview - The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

I was thinking about writing something else this afternoon, but with this breaking news, I thought it was better to offer my opinion.  Here is a copy of what Blizzard said this morning:

We're continuing to refine the raid progression paths in Cataclysm, and we'd like to share some of those changes with you today. Please enjoy!

The first of the refinements being made is that we're combining all raid sizes and difficulties into a single lockout. Unlike today, 10- and 25-player modes of a single raid will share the same lockout. You can defeat each raid boss once per week per character. In other words, if you wanted to do both a 10- and 25-person raid in a single week, you’d need to do so on two different characters. Normal versus Heroic mode will be chosen on a per-boss basis in Cataclysm raids, the same way it works in Icecrown Citadel. Obviously the raid lockout change doesn't apply in pure Icecrown terms though, as this change goes hand-in-hand with a few other changes to raid progression in Cataclysm.

We're designing and balancing raids so that the difficulty between 10- and 25-player versions of each difficulty will be as close as possible to each other as we can achieve. That closeness in difficulty also means that we'll have bosses dropping the same items in 10- and 25-player raids of each difficulty. They'll have the same name and same stats; they are in fact the exact same items. Choosing Heroic mode will drop a scaled-up version of those items. Our hope is that players will be able to associate bosses with their loot tables and even associate specific artwork with specific item names to a far greater extent than today.

Dungeon Difficulty and Rewards
10- and 25-player (normal difficulty) -- Very similar to one another in difficulty; drop the exact same items as each other.
10- and 25-player (Heroic difficulty) -- Very similar to one another in difficulty; drop more powerful versions of the normal-difficulty items.

We of course recognize the logistical realities of organizing larger groups of people, so while the loot quality will not change, 25-player versions will drop a higher quantity of loot per player (items, but also badges, and even gold), making it a more efficient route if you're able to gather the people. The raid designers are designing encounters with these changes in mind, and the class designers are making class changes to help make 10-person groups easier to build. Running 25-player raids will be a bit more lucrative, as should be expected, but if for a week or two you need to do 10s because half the guild is away on vacation, you can do that and not suffer a dramatic loss to your ability to get the items you want.

We recognize that very long raids can be a barrier for some players, but we also want to provide enough encounters for the experience to feel epic. For the first few raid tiers, our plan is to provide multiple smaller raids. Instead of one raid with eleven bosses, you might have a five-boss raid as well as a six-boss raid. All of these bosses would drop the same item level gear, but the dungeons themselves being different environments will provide some variety in location and visual style, as well as separate raid lockouts. Think of how you could raid Serpentshrine Cavern and Tempest Keep separately, but you might still want to hit both every week.

We do like how gating bosses over time allows the community to focus on individual encounters instead of just racing to the end boss, so we’re likely to keep that design moving forward. We don't plan to impose attempt limitations again though, except maybe in cases of rare optional bosses (like Algalon). Heroic mode may not be open from day one, but will become available after defeating normal mode perhaps as little as once or twice.

In terms of tuning, we want groups to be able to jump into the first raids pretty quickly, but we also don’t want them to overshadow the Heroic 5-player dungeons and more powerful quest rewards. We’ll be designing the first few raid zones assuming that players have accumulated some blue gear from dungeons, crafted equipment, or quest rewards. In general, we want you and your guild members to participate in and enjoy the level up experience.

We design our raids to be accessible to a broad spectrum of players, so we want groups to be able to make the decision about whether to attempt the normal or Heroic versions of raids pretty quickly. The goal with all of these changes is to make it as much of a choice or effect of circumstance whether you raid as a group of 10 or as a group of 25 as possible. Whether you're a big guild or a small guild the choice won't be dependent on what items drop, but instead on what you enjoy the most.

We realize that with any changes to progression pathways there are going to be questions. We're eagerly awaiting any that we may have left unanswered. To the comments! 

So many things to go through in just this little post.  I decided to break them into three categories to express my joy, concern, and WTF.


1) Goodbye Summer Lull - So what if people are on vacation for a week, you can still raid at least one ten man and progress and get loot.  Blizzard will be my lord and savior if they make it so you can form two ten mans from the one 25 man lockout to continue.  I don't think that will happen, but it would be awesome.

2)  Goodbye Waiting for People to Hit 85 - When the first group of ten raiders get to level 85, you are good to start progression raiding.  And when you get enough to get up to 25 man, the 10 man people won't be rolling on your loot because it is the same and they may have already got it.  Yes, Blizzard says there is more incentive to run 25 mans, but it doesn't mean you can't gear up while waiting for the rest of your guild.

3) Hello One Level of Tier Tokens - I think Blizzard hit the sweet spot with buying initial tier gear with badges.  However, instead of having the current confusing system of getting either the heroic 10 man or 25 man tokens and then moving up to heroic 25 man tokens, there will be one tier of tokens and it will be heroic.

4) Hello Multiple Raids in a Single Tier - That is the one great thing I do remember about Burning Crusade.  Yes, there were not a lot of bosses in the raids, but there were more raids.  And more raids equals more fun and unique challenges.   

5) Goodbye Gear Score - This is partially Blizzard's answer to idiots who say that Gear Score is important.   Now, you can only have 10/25 man gear or 10/25 man heroic gear.  


Just a note of clarity I personally feel all these changes are awesome.  There are a lot of great things in this.  I'm playing the devil's advocate for this.

1) Cannot Gear Up As Quickly - With only one raid lockout, you can only get X amount of badges per week.  This means it will take longer to get your initial tier gear in each subsequent tier thus making it harder and longer to get the best gear.
2)  Incentive for the Hardcore - With the exact same loot on 10 and 25 man raids, what is the incentive?  People in a PUG can get the same gear as I can in my hardcore raiding guild.  How is this fair?  Yes, we get more gear and more gold, but that is not enough incentive for the 25 man raiding guilds.

3) Eliminates the "Super" Group - What if I'm in a guild of 25 people where most don't have a clue what they are doing, but I have a group of 10 players who are really good and I would like to progress with them.  Should I have to drag the rest of these losers around to run 25 mans and still not get to run and progress in 10 mans?
4) Heroic 10 Man With Equal Loot as Heroic 25 Man - I feel like I should hold over the fact that I can run heroic 25 man runs and thus I'm better than you but you may have somebody who is getting dragged along in heroic 10 mans who have the same gear.  How will they know the difference and know I'm better?
5) Gear Score is Gone - How can I judge a player if they just run 10 mans and have the same gear as I do.  It is not fair.

THE (Potentially) UGLY

1) Heroic Gearing Before Raids - While I'm okay with this idea, I hope they do not move back to a BC mentality with this.  While I was playing a feral druid at level 70, I remember having to grind Cenarion Expedition rep to get the exalted staff which was best pre-raid staff for feral druids.  Please don't make me do that again.  I think running a few heroics to get the highest blue gear and some epics is fine, but don't make me grind rep to just get in raids.

2)  Heroic vs Normal Raids - Reading the post, I think they are going to try to do what they did with ICC and make it where you cannot attempt heroic mode until  you beat Lich King.  While I understand the thinking behind that, I would much rather go back to an Ulduar style heroic mode in two respects.  One, you should be able to try it at any time.  Wouldn't it be nice if you have been grinding Marrowgar for weeks on end and you had some way to make it heroic before you beat Lich King?  That would be awesome.  They can even have tiered things.  For example, you currently cannot fight Lich King on Heroic unless you beat Putricide, Blood Queen, Saurfang, and Sindgrigosa on heroic in that raid ID.  Second, they need to bring back the old way of activating hard modes.  While flipping a menu option is awesome, I would much rather push a big red button or have something in the environment that you could do to turn it on.  At one time, I thought that the menu option was fine, but after going back to do hard modes in Ulduar, it made me realize how much fun that was.

So these are my overall opinions.  I would love to hear from everybody on their thoughts on this.

Redhawk's Gaze is on Facebook

After a great week of raiding with celebrating my 10 man LK kill and a single 10/12 night in 25 man ICC on Thursday, I took a break this weekend playing some on my mage, who is level 73 now, and listening to a band called Family Force Five.

While I have nothing new about moonkins right now (I may have something by the afternoon), I do have an exciting announcement.  Redhawk's Gaze is on Facebook.  Please become a fan of the page and leave any topics that you think should be covered soon in the discussion section.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Ten Commandments of Battle Rezzing

It seems like the easiest thing for a druid.  When you see a raid member go down,  you know that you have the ability to get them up quickly. However, this can backfire very quickly for you and the person your rezzing.  Let me share my story of battle rezzing fail.

On the night we downed 10 man Lich King, one of our earlier attempts was going along smoothly.  We were in the transition phase between phase 1 and phase 2.  All of a sudden, one of my fellow raid members went down.  A battle rez was called for by the raid leader and he called on me to get him up.  I cast the battle rez not thinking about location.  It was just as the area where I was standing was two seconds away from collapsing.  So my raid member got the battle rez then immediately fell off the platform because there was no platform where I was standing.  Since it is hard to get through the valkyrie phase with one less DPS, a wipe was called.  A wipe that could have been prevented if I would have followed the ten commandments of battle rezzing.

Yes, I like trollcats/lolcats.  You will see a lot of cat pictures.

THE TEN COMMANDMENTS OF BATTLE REZZING (as told by Ceiling Cat to Redhawks)

1) Thou shalt not cast battle rez unless called upon by raid leader. - This is a general rule.  There is no reason to battle rez if a wipe is going to be called two seconds later.

2) The druid that calls dibs on battle rez first has dibs. - There is nothing worse than having two battle rezs go off when only one is necessary.  You just wasted a cool down and a possible battle rez for later.

3) Thou shalt not cast battle rez in a location that will not be available in 10 seconds. - This is the commandment I broke.  Why the limit of 10 seconds?  Because 10 seconds will be enough time for the person being rezzed to take the rez, be healed up to full, and get buffs that can be cast.  Fights where this hold true is Lich King transition phases, 3rd phase of Professor Putricide depending on where you are standing, and Rotface slime pools.

4) Thou shalt not battle rez in times of massive raid wide damage. - If you know the raid is about to take massive raid wide damage, do not use your battle rez.  If you use it, you will have someone rezzed who has a small percentage of his health and then getting hit with the raid wide damage.  Fights where this occur is Marrowgar during bone storm, Deathwhisper if bolts are not being interrupted like they should be, Festergut prior to gastric bloat explosion, Rotface prior to unstable ooze explosion, Blood Queen during air phase, Dreamwalker if a blazing skeleton is up, Sindragosa if it is air phase, and Lich King if vile spirits are about to attack in phase 3 or it is the transition phases with Pain and Suffering being cast on the raid. 

5) Thou shalt not battle rez during times which certain distance must be maintained. - If it is a fight where distance must be maintained between raid members, it is recommended to not battle rez during that time.  Now sometimes it can come and go, like during Blood Council with Empowered Shock Vortex.  Other times, it is better to pick the best time, like with the Festergut fight.  The best time to rez during Festergut is when you are in position to get the spores buff/debuff since you know you won't get the vomiting debuff and can't spread it to the person you just rezzed.  Other notable fights with this include Saurfang if you have Blood Boil, Putricide if you are stunned by the green ooze during unstable experiment, air phase of Blood Queen, if you are marked for beacon during either air phase or phase 3 of Sindragosa, or if you are marked for defile during Lich King phases 2 or 3.

6) If at all possible, thou shalt not battle rez in places that will be damaged soon. - In some fights this is next to impossible.  Everybody has had a battle rez go off during Lady Deathwhisper only for the place you are standing to get hit with death and decay a second later.  This becomes the responsibility of the person being rezzed though communication with the person casting the rez is important.  If you see it, tell them to hold off on rezzing until that area is clear.  Just because you send the battle rez does not mean they have to take it.  Other times though, it is clearly on the rezzer.  If you see malleable goo headed towards you during the Professor Putricide fight, stop the battle rez cast and move and then recast your battle rez.  If you cast it, they will more than likely get hit and be dead.  In addition, you may still get hit by it and then you have two dead raid members instead of one.  Pretty much every fight in ICC has some mechanic where this would hold true.

7) Thou shalt realize situations where you shall not battle rez at all. -  This is where Mark of the Fallen Champion during Saurfang comes into play.  If you rez him, your raid member will die again and will heal Saurfang for even more.  Another place where this comes into play is the Blood Queen fight after somebody has been mind controlled.

8) DPS is not as important as battle rezzing a fellow raid member but tanking and healing hold precedence over battle rezzing. -  Yes, you may get shifted out of cat form or moonkin form to battle rez, but your job at that point is to battle rez your raid member.  Your lower DPS will be excused for getting a raid member up and downing a boss.  Now if  you are a healer and it is a choice between battle rezzing and keeping the tank up, keep the tank up.  If it is a choice between tanking or battle rezzing, tank or have another tank taunt the boss off of you so you can battle rez.  I have seen some tanks who can cast Barkskin and then battle rez, but I have only seen that in 5 man dungeons and not raid environments.

9)   Thou shalt not battle rez on trash. - Lazy people can come back in during trash pulls and catch up with you or just wait until the end of the trash and rez them normally.  Save battle rezes for bosses only.

10) If you have a choice between battle rezzing a druid and another player, thou shalt battle rez the druid. - The most obvious reason behind this is that if you battle rez the druid, they can battle rez the other player.  Remember to follow the other commandments when following this one.

That is my ten commandments of battle rezzing.  Why did I choose the ten commandments to pass these rules along.  First, I had ten things to say about battle rezzing.  Second, and the bigger reason, is all druids will be guilty of breaking one of these at times.  Nobody is perfect, just like nobody is perfect in keeping the actual Ten Commandments.  This is just a part of raid awareness and is something that takes developing when playing as a druid.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

First Druid Steps (a.k.a This Is Inadequate)

I have a lot of hopes in Cataclysm for the druid class.  I hope Wild Mushroom is as awesome as it sounds it will be.  I hope that the Lunar/Solar Balance UI is easy and takes away what seems like a lot of random number generation and luck.  But my biggest wish for druids in Cataclysm is please Blizzard, for the love of all that is good and holy,  make the first 20 levels not suck so hard.

In a class that is suppose to be about shape shifting to different forms, we get nothing, zilch, nada until level 10.  And at level 10, we get bear form.  Is it better than nothing? Yeah, I guess so.  It also helps since you can start tanking in LFG at about level 15.  However, we do not get the cat form that lets us kill mobs quickly until level 20.  Before then, we are stuck with balance spells with no moonkin form, no eclipse mechanic, etc.  Yes, we are able to heal ourselves and we do have a little better survivability up front than other classes but that is not enough and it doesn't let us get the full feel of the class.

Here are some of my thoughts on what Blizzard could do to make the level 1-20 experience better for druids.

1) Start with a cat form.  People have been wanting dire cat form and what they can say is at level 20, you get dire cat form.  You can even make dire cat form the exact same as cat form now.  This way, you at least get something to start off with when leveling a druid that makes you feel like a druid.

2) I really think that feral cat will be one of two very viable leveling specs in Cataclysm.   You have to remember that Eclipse is moving from a talent to the third leg of the balance mastery system.  That means that if you put your first point into balance, you will start having eclipse at that point.  Eclipse from level 10 could be very interesting.  You still wouldn't get moonkin form until the appropriate level (see below on what I think an "appropriate level" should be), but you could easily level as balance.

3) Bears do not get mangle until very late in the feral tree.  This really should be a tier 1 or tier 2 feral talent since it is an important part of threat generation.  That would make people want to start tanking at an earlier level.  

4) For those who choose to level as balance, give them moonkin form earlier.  For those who wish to level as resto, allow them to have the Tree of Life cooldown sooner (Sorry, resto druids.  I always liked Tree of Life form).  This will open up the whole class to leveling in an easier manner regardless of spec.

5) Keep travel form at the current level of 16.  Also, I would say take away aquatic form, but I have a feeling we are going to be using that more than ever in Cataclysm.

I'm sure there are more ideas and I hope Blizzard does something to improve early druid leveling.  Once you get up to higher levels, druids are incredible. (As I heard someone say once, druids are one respec away from doing your job better than you.)  However, you do have to put up with some very tough first levels to get to the awesomeness of the druid class.

P.S.  I meant to do this in an earlier post, but I want to give a big thanks to a fellow moonkin blogger, Qieth over at  Qieth's Quips for the new banner for this blog.  It is awesome looking.

Redhawks the Kingslayer

I will be honest, if you would have asked me 5 months ago if I would have seen Lich King dead in either 10 or 25 man, I would have told you not likely.  However, today, I have the title of Kingslayer.  Last night, my guild, Conquest, downed 10 man Lich King to much celebration. 

Congrats to Conquest on downing 10 man Lich King.  Hopefully, we can now move on to down Lich King in 25 man and start working on heroics in both 10 and 25 man.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Casual to Hardcore: A Hitchhiker's Guide to WoW

When most people get started in WoW on their first character, they think very little about the endgame.  Who would think about the endgame when you have 80 levels you have to work your way through to get up to the good stuff?  They are more concerned about what class and race they want to start off with and trying learn the classes and characters.  This was me when I started playing WoW.  I originally started off playing a warlock and played for about 30 levels and liked it, but wanted to try something else out.  I decided to try out druid and leveled my druid up to level 70 during Burning Crusade.

When I got up to level 70, I decided that I wanted to get in a guild that raided.  This was also about the time where I found a great internet show called "The Totally Rad Show".  When I was watching the show, I saw that they had a guild on Executus US called "The Totally Rad Guild".  I decided I would go over and join and at the very least be with people who liked watching the show.  I found that I liked raiding with them but we could never progress in 25 mans at that time.  Of course, in Burning Crusade, if you could not progress into 25 mans, you were running Karazhan and Zul'aman.  We finished Karazhan (This was a video I made of our first Karazhan clear) and was trying to progress in Zul'aman.  After that, I had a change in my job that made it impossible to meet the raid times for The Totally Rad Guild.

After The Totally Rad Guild, I was once again in need of a guild home.  I was trying to find a place when the 1UP show, Legendary Thread, was just starting.  They were starting a guild call "Can't Quit You" on Baelgun US.  I decided to check it out.  They had two raiding teams, one that was on a east coast and one that was on west coast.  I got into the west coast since I was getting off work at 10:30 PM at night on the east coast.  We finished Zul'Aman after the pre-Wrath nerf.  After that, we progressed into Wrath of the Lich King and cleared 10 man Naxx and finished up to Yogg-Saron in 10 man Ulduar.  After that, I had another change in my jobs where the west coast raiding times were too late since I moved to day shift.  Unfortunately, the east coast raiding team was already full and had no place for another tank/DPS.

My next major stop in guilds was a semi-hardcore 10 man raiding guild called "The Knights of Classic Lore".  This was about the time they had faction changes so I got to experience Horde for the first time.  We progressed through and cleared 10 man ToC, but made no progress in ToGC.  We also got up to 4/12 in 10 man ICC.  However, we hit a wall in the Plague Wing and could not beat Rotface or Festergut.  After many weeks, the GM got sick of raiding and decided to disband the guild.

It was at this point that I made a decision.  I have gone from very casual podcast based guilds to semi-hardcore 10 mans.  I felt I was finally ready to try to take the plunge into 25 man progression raiding guilds.  I had a system that could handle it with a quad-core PC. (If you notice on the video above, that was done on a Macbook so the video quality is crap.)  I also tend to follow several people on Twitter, including Matticus.  I was doing some dailies and checking my Twitter feed and saw that Matticus was asking for caster DPS for his guild, Conquest.  I had always been feral OT as I mentioned in a previous post, but I have been messing around with moonkin and had developed a basic starter set for moonkin.  I applied to the guild and was accepted.

I know that is a lot of my personal history, but now comes what I think is the most important part of this post.  When you make the step up to progression raiding, even if it is a hardcore 10 man guild, you have to do several things.   These are just a few of the general things I had to do when I moved into Conquest and I would recommend this for anybody who wants to get into progression raiding.

1)   Be Open to Change - Originally, I thought that I was going to be a feral druid from now until they shut the WoW servers down.  However, over this time, I have changed to being a caster DPS and I love it.  Having duel specs now means that you can learn to play a secondary role that you haven't build  your main raiding spec around.  I knew small basics of being a moonkin when I first started Conquest, but I did not know if I was to a point where I could raid ICC 25 man a a moonkin.

2) Be Willing to Be on Standby - You may not get into the progression fights immediately.  You have to prove yourself and you have to get gear.  You may start off coming in on farm fights and then be replaced for the progression fights.  And this is perfectly fine.  You come in on the farm fights and do the absolute best you can do.  If you prove yourself, in time, you will be in the main raiding core.

3) Be Consistent - When I applied to Conquest, I told them one thing that is vitally important. "If I say I will be there, I will be there."  One of the best ways to impress a GM and a raid leader in consistency.  Just like any job in real life, show up on time, come prepared, and be the best you can be.  And if something comes up, let somebody know.  Twitter makes this incredibly easy.  While I may not be able to get to my guild website on my Blackberry, I can Twitter message my GM and say I'm running 15 minutes late.

4) Be Open to Criticism - I will go one step further and say ask for criticism.  When I first joined the guild, there was another moonkin in the raid, Xstarseeker.  When going through the farm fights, I noticed that I was doing about 3k less damage then him.  During the raid, I asked about what things I could do to improve my DPS.  He took time after the raid to look at my spec, my rotation, my gems, etc. to tell me where I can improve.  Even without getting one piece of gear,  I saw a drastic increase in my DPS.  This only improved as I actually got the gear.   If you are on the other side of this coin, be willing to give advice to new raiders. 

5) Research - Know what sites to go to help improve your job in your spec.  Google helps, but I would really recommend Elitist Jerks for any class.  If you're a healer, I would recommend World of Matticus.  For moonkin, I would recommend looking at Moonkin Repository and Grey Matter for starters.  I'm going to be building a blog roll on sites that I read all the time.  Never stop reading.  If you think you know everything about your spec, keep reading.  There is something that you probably don't know.  Even the highest end people in the highest end guilds constantly do research.

6) System Requirements - Realize that 25 man raiding can be tough on any computer system.  If you have a high lag or a low FPS, it can affect your performance drastically.  Also, realize not every add on is as necessary as you think.  Do I have to have Auctioneer running during a 25 man raid? No.  Do I need QuestHelper running? No.  Try to optimize what adds on you do need.  There is an add on called Add On Manager that lets you set groups of add on to use.  I have a raiding set of add ons and an Auctioneer set of add ons.  Every class knows they will need Deadly Boss Mods (or some equivalent), some sort of raid frames, Omen, and some bar manager.  Beyond that, it would just be class specific mods.  For example, I run Forte Exorcist for my cooldown timers.  I know a lot of moonkins prefer Squawk and Awe, but I like Forte Exorcist since it shows each targets DoT timers. 

7) Compete - I am not somebody who has to have the largest bar on Recount.  If I have it, great.  If not, I just want to be in the running.  Now, due to some fight mechanics, I may not be in the running for the most DPS (Sindragosa says hi) but I want to be at least comparable to the other raid members.  If I'm not, then I know I have to do something to correct it.  Also you have to realize with hybrid classes that you have a hybrid tax.  I expect a mage to pump out more DPS than me.  So if I'm third on the charts with two mages above me, I consider that having done about as much as I could on that fight.  DPS numbers mean little except in the realm of e-peen.  However, it does show the level that I should be performing at and tells me if I have to correct it. This is how I knew that I had to correct something when I first joined Conquest because I saw that I was not matching comparable with numbers of other DPS.

8) Be Laid Back - Progression raiding means you may spend 10 days of nothing but 3 hours of wiping on Lich King.  If you are the person who leaves after one boss failure, progression raiding is likely not for you.  If you are a person who signs out after getting through the farm content because you don't want to get a huge repair bill, progression raiding is not for you.  You have had 9 or 24 other people get you to this point.  Don't flake on them at that point.     

These are just a few steps that I feel are necessary to take the plunge into 25 man progression raiding.  I'm sure there are plenty of others that I can't think of at the moment and some people may recommend more in the comments.  Next post will likely be on early leveling of a druid.  Until next time, you stay thirsty my friends. 

Monday, April 19, 2010

How to Move from Feral OT to Moomkin

In previous guilds I was in, I always had a tendency to OT.  I loved playing what I always thought was the optimal OT.  The tank that can hold aggro and have a huge health pool but do decent damage if needed in cat form.  Even in single tank fights, I could be the one to jump up and save the day if the tank went down.

When moving from the feral role to the moomkin role, it took a change in mentality to approach fights.  These are just a few of the things I  had to change my thinking on handling fight mechanics.

1)  Specific time for specific actions - Yes, there are times as feral tanks where we need to blow cooldowns to help protect ourselves or give healers some time.  However, when  holding aggro, it just seems fine to push three buttons to keep Mangle going, Lacerate up, and dump rage with Maul while throwing in the occasional Swipe.  Do not think I'm saying that feral tanking is easy.  Not by any stretch. But as a tank, as long as I had aggro and I was staying alive, I was doing my job.  However, when I started playing moomkin, I found that I was having to pay attention to additional details to maximize DPS.  Did I Faerie Fire the target? Am I in lunar or solar eclipse?  Although the eclipse is finished, do I still have a cooldown where I should still be casting the opposite spell to proc the other eclipse?  Are my DoTs up?  Am I clipping my DoTs?  What is my Starfall's remaining cooldown?  What is my treant's remaining cooldown?  Forgetting just one of these and my performance suffers.

2) Different raid awareness - When tanking, I knew if I had to move a boss or keep him there or whether I needed to taunt.  However, when moving to moomkin, I had to realize that it takes a completely different raid awareness to play a ranged DPS.  First, I had to start watching aggro meters more closely.  This was especially true during Lunar Eclipse and Starfall.  Second, range became more important in two respects.  First, I didn't want to be close to anybody else in some fights due to fight mechanics.  Second, it also took looking at the range for targets and location to be able to DPS.  For example, in Blood Council, the tanks are in three different locations.  Normally, where I start a fight, I can hit all the targets at once except for Prince Keleseth, who is being ranged tank.  If I see it jump to him, I know I have to move.     

3) Different fight strategy - Tanks and ranged DPS tend to have two different strategies for every fight.  For example, in Saurfang, it is alternating tanking and taunting while avoiding AoE like Swipe around the Blood Beast to prevent them from pulling onto me.  Now as boomkin, I tend to use AoE with Typhoon/Starfall.  In addition, I actually have to watch for Blood Beast aggro.  This is just one example of a fight where your strategy changes when moving from tank to ranged DPS.  This is true for every fight you encounter as well and you have to learn those mechanics from the ranged DPS perspective.  I also had to learn what was optimal for each fight.  In Rotface, I could move with each Slime Spray and move back behind the boss afterwards.  However, when learning the fight and learning that Rotface has no cleave, it means that I learned that I only have to move if the Slime Spray is in my general direction.  Learning that I could stand in one place until absolutely necessary to move helped increase my DPS drastically.

However, with both classes, I learned that the biggest thing is research.  Just like life, you never stop learning your class or spec.  In my next blog post, I'm going to review my guild history and talk about how I moved from very casual guilds to hardcore guilds and what you need to do if you are ready to take the plunge into progression raiding.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Off Night

I would love the opinion of some my moonkins/WoW players out there on this one. What do you do when you have an "off" night? Even the best players have them. I had one last night during our raid.

It started out on Deathwhisper. I was in the group staying on Deathwhisper and after the initial adds came out, I used Starfall. Next thing I know, I have an add on me. Thankfully, the healers were able to keep me up until the tank had control again. I know I should have waited a few seconds more but just started blasting.

My off night continued on Rotface. About halfway through the fight, I got picked for mutated injection. It was just my "luck" the add tank was right behind me. However, I forgot about the slime spray and just ran backward to the add tank. The slime spray hit me and I was dead. We still downed him but I feel stupid.

Then we moved on to Festergut. One of our players went down and I was called to battle rez. Now, this part was partly because I was testing a new UI that night called Tukui v10. It has bars for the people's names in your raid since I don't need a healer UI. For the life of me, I couldn't find the person in my list to target them. So I knew it was melee so I moved from my position up and not paying attention to my range meter. One of the people by me got the vomit debuff and then I got it and I gave it to another person. I died. The person who originally got the debuff died. The healer was able to heal himself. Again, we downed him but it was still not a good feeling.

Then we moved to Professor Putricide. We wiped once on this boss. Partly because we had some new players with us. However, even in the one wipe, I managed to do something stupid. We were in phase 3 and I had to battle rez another player. When I was called to do it, I was between two slime piles. I send the battle rez. No sooner I did that then the area I was standing in got slimed. I died. The guy I rezzed died. We downed him on the second try without issue but again, just adding on to my night of fail.

So what did I do after my off night. Well, one I went to a target dummy and practiced my rotation to reassure myself on knowing what to do. Also, I consider it the equivalent of punching a pillow when you get frustrated in real life. It doesn't help you. It doesn't help the pillow. But it does feel really good. After that, I went to bed and got a nice nights sleep.

So how about moonkins or WoW players in general, how do you handle the off night?

Damn You Blizzard

Why must you make a mount so awesome that I do not even question throwing $25 to you?

Yes, I have given into my urge and have bought the Celestial Steed. I'm sorry, that mount is so cool. I do not care that it is not 310% flight until I get a 310% flight, it is just an awesome looking mount. Sorry Swift Flight Form, you are gonna have to take a backseat for a while while I'm riding this beauty around. Plus now I can play this song while I'm riding it.

Starrider by Foreigner

Any my opinion on buying mounts and pets. As long as it does not directly affect game content, let them sell them all they want. If I have to start paying for raid dungeons or 5 man instances beyond the normal subscription fee and expansion cost, that is where we are gonna start to have a fight.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

To Starfall or Not To Starfall (Actually, That Is Not a Question, I'm Going To Use Starfall)

Ok, I have decided to officially start my own moonkin blog and I decided to start with one of the issues that comes up in my 25 man raids all the time. Starfall is a powerful asset in our moonkin rotation but it is something that has to be used very carefully. If not used properly, you could easily pull aggro. This is even more true with the Starfall buff in 3.3.3. With my first post for my new moonkin blog, I would like to run down the ICC fights and tell you when to Starfall and when to not starfall.

First things first, please glyph Starfall. Have it on a minute cooldown helps out tremendously and can help increase your DPS drastically. Second, as a general rule, it is preferable to use Starfall when more than one mob is up. Having at least two mobs up causes each mob to get hit with 20 stars instead of the normal 10. This is a significant DPS boost. Also, as a general rule, don't Starfall trash. There are a few exceptions. (Precious says Oh hai!) Now, lets get into the ICC bosses.

Marrowgar - I usually love to use Starfall after the first bone spikes come up. Many times, this allows me to stay on the boss and just watch the spikes fall around me. I will usually save my Starfall for bone spikes.

Deathwhisper - Depends. If this is the weekly raid quest in ICC, I never use Starfall. That is just asking for the mob you are suppose to be protecting to die. If it is not, I use it on the trash under the condition that somebody is not mind controlled. If they are mind controlled, I wait until they are out.

Gunship - Pretty much on cooldown. Our tanks are excellent at picking up adds that come on our ship. In addition, use Starfall on the edge of your boat so you can hit people on both ships with Starfall.

Saurfang - Blood Beast Phase. I also have the honor of being the typhoon person for our guild. I usually hit typhoon first, then Starfall. With timers, you usually will be able to Starfall every other Blood Beast. If you pull aggro on the Blood Beast, just run backwards until they are dead.

Rotface - Pretty much on cooldown. I usually prefer to wait just a little bit for the first big ooze to form to Starfall to get the 20 stars benefit.

Festergut - No adds in this one, so this becomes on cooldown. Great if you are moving to get to a spore.

Professor Putricide - For the first two phases, I Starfall when the Unstable Experiment ooze is up. This gives me the 20 stars benefit plus allows me to put some extra DPS on the ooze. I tend to go on the green ooze but if your rotation gets off, you can always Starfall on the orange ooze. During Phase 3, Starfall on cooldown. Another great phase to use it since you are moving constantly.

Blood Princes - While I thought that Starfall was a raid wiper in this fight, it is actually okay since the Dark Nuclei are not damaged by AoE attacks.  Thanks to  Qieth for the update on this fight.

Blood Queen - There is not really any adds in this fight so I would just use on cooldown. Also, as a general rule, don't expect to the first bitten. Your burst DPS is not high enough to get bitten from what I have found.

Dreamwalker - Pretty much on cooldown. I would say exercise some caution if a mob is out on your side that must be tanked like the abominations. I personally love to use them on suppressors.

Sindragosa - This is a tough fight for boomkins in general because of the unchained magic debuff. I try to Starfall at the very beginning of the fight just to get some DPS on the boss. I will hold my second and all subsequent Starfalls up until phase 3 for phase 2 with the ice blocks. This way, you at least get the 20 star benefit. You may be able to sneak an additional Starfall in there during Phase 1, but I have been saving it. In phase 3, it becomes on cooldown. Just be careful to make sure to clear your debuff. Also, I find that our healers are good enough so that I can get behind every other ice block to clear the Magic Buffet debuff.

Lich King - We are only to phase 2 of this fight so I'm sure I can add some more as we get closer to downing him. However, here is when I have been doing the first few Starfalls. I hold my first Starfall until both of the big adds in Phase 1 are being tanked and Lich King is around 73%. The raid leader has been calling for AOE on the ghouls. I will do one Hurricane and then Starfall and then Hurricane again until Lich King moves to the transition phase. Never Starfall during the transition phase. Originally, I was using Starfall after the transition phase to clear the explosive bombs. However, our hunters have been doing a great job of killing those. I am now using them on the Valkyrs during Phase 2. That way, I can hit all 3 at once and try to kill them quicker. I will expand once we get past Phase 2 for other preferred times to Starfall.

So to the boomkins of the world. Go out and melt face with Starfall. Hopefully, I will update this soon.