Beauty & the Beast: Faction Transfers Now Live.09.02.09

Although it seems to have slipped beneath WoW.com and MMO-Champion’s noses (at the time of the post, anyway), Faction Transfers are now live.

If you’re interested in undertaking this change, make sure you read up on the FAQ and log out of the character you wish to transfer; you need to be offline for 20 minutes. In addition, please note that although it’s not clear on the FAQ (because there are apparently two FAQs about this that conflict), you will lose all of your Silver Covenant/Sunreaver reptutation and associated achievements. All of them. This means that you need to start over on any and all Argent Tournament dailies, and some of your faction pets may have converted, despite the FAQ detailing that they won’t.

Coming up:

  • DPS gear spreadsheet update
  • Maximizing raid buffs
  • Primer on boosting DPS in five mans versus raids
  • Comics

Posted in WotLKwith 9 Comments →

Have money, will transfer.08.26.09

Does the prospect of clearing Ulduar multiple times a week get you hot? Are you desperate for gear, emblems, or Fragments of Val’nyr? Do you enjoy your high-population realm but crave the vanity satisfaction of realm-first achievements? Are you a real-life Gevlon? Does your guild share your vision? If you answered “yes” to any of the above, Blizzard now affords you the ultimate opportunity to min/max your raid-time: three-day realm transfers.

In the wake of all the Blizzcon hoopla, this little feature seems to have been tacitly accepted or conveniently unnoticed. The immediate benefit is obvious: if you make a poor transfer choice and/or fail a guild application, you don’t have to wait a full month to leave. The obvious drawback? Your “mistake” costs you $25. For Blizzard, this is a fantastic way to boost revenue while supposedly catering to the public “good.” Why isn’t there any outrage? For many players, WoW is an investment in the same fashion that golf or SCUBA diving may be to another individual. If WoW is your hobby-of-choice, why not take advantage of the little things that could lend to your own virtual happiness?

What few players realize is that all of your raids and dungeons reset when you transfer realms. This means that, theoretically, you can clear every dungeon twice within one normal lockout period. If, then, you could clear the 10 and 25 versions of every dungeon within each transfer lockout (3-days), you could gain the following from each transfer (discounting hard modes or Algalon:)

  • Obsidian Sanctum – 8 Emblems of Conquest
  • Eye of Eternity – 2 Emblems of Conquest
  • Vault of Archavon – 8 Emblems of Conquest
  • Naxxramas – 32 Emblems of Conquest
  • Ulduar – 26 Emblems of Conquest
  • Trial of the Crusader (up to the Twin Valkyrs) – 24 Emblems of Triumph
  • Total: 76 Emblems of Conquest and 24 Emblems of Triumph
  • Total per week: 152 Emblems of Conquest and 48 Emblems of Triumph

That, of course, isn’t including any sort of gear upgrades you might come across or any achievements you might receive. If you’re especially industrious and had a lot of time on your hands, you could also complete every Heroic dungeon each day, which would net you a total of 53 Emblems of Conquest and 2 Emblems of Triumph. Your new weekly total (again, assuming you’re insane and do everything) is:

  • 523 Emblems of Conquest and 62 Emblems of Triumph

There’s also potential to do two rounds of Heroic dungeons per day on the days that you transfer your character (including the daily), which would give you an extra 53 Emblems of Conquest and 2 Emblems of Triumph on that day. Because of the time required to do all of those dungeons (especially if you’re pugging them all), this is probably an unlikely situation.

So let’s assume a few things:

  1. You’re not interested in finding a “new” home; you’re going on a whirlwind tour to acquire gear and emblems.
  2. You have the time necessary to fully exploit said adventure.
  3. You’re not a terrible player and have a useful dual-spec. It will obviously be easier to get into runs if you’ve got a tanking or healing offspec. Just saying.
  4. You’re confident that your target realms will yield a group capable of clearing your dungeons of choice. Safe bets generally include realms with a High or Full population. Conversely, if you’re looking to bring an entire guild along and earn some realm-first achievements, look for Low population realms.
  5. You have a considerable amount of disposable income.

Got all that? To prepare, you’ll probably want to do a few things. First, make sure that you have a reasonable amount of gold on your character to purchase anything you might need along the way. Second, because the economy on each realm may be dramatically different, consider bringing raid consumables with you. Do a little research and see if there are any regular pick-up-groups running on your target realms that you may be able to finesse your way into in advance. Finally, as you initiate your first transfer, make sure you save a slot on your original realm with your character’s name. Before you make your final transfer back, delete the level 1 alt and resume your name. If, however, you’re looking to change your character’s name, leave the level 1 alt and you’ll be forced to rename your character when you return.

Here’s how the basic schedule goes:

September 2009

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday

1
Home realm.

Clear raids.
Transfer at 11 p.m.
$25.00

2
Target realm.

Clear raids.

3

4
Transfer at 11 p.m.
$25.00
5
Target realm.

Clear raids.

6

7
Transfer at 11 p.m.
$25.00
8
Target realm.

Clear raids.

9

10
Transfer at 11 p.m.
$25.00
11
Target realm.

Clear raids.

12

13
Transfer at 11 p.m.
$25.00
14
Target realm.

Clear raids.

15
Clear raids.
16
Transfer at 11 p.m.
$25.00
17
Target realm.

Clear raids.

18

19
Transfer at 11 p.m.
$25.00
20
Target realm.

Clear raids.

21

22
Clear raids, if time.

Transfer at 11 p.m.
$25.00

23
Target realm.

Clear raids.

24

25
Transfer at 11 p.m.
$25.00
26
Target realm.

Clear raids.

27

28
Transfer at 11 p.m.
$25.00
29
Home realm.

Clear raids.

30
Bonertime.

Total dollars spent: $250.00
Theoretical earnings (minus heroic dungeons): 1,900 Emblems of Conquest & 624 Emblems of Triumph
Including each heroic dungeon, daily: 3,490 Emblems of Conquest & 684 Emblems of Triumph

$250 could get you a late night “escort” in Las Vegas, a plane ticket from Detroit to Chicago, an iPhone 3GS, an XBOX 360 Pro, or dinner with your friends at NINJA New York. Is it worth it? If you’ve got the time, money, and play a hybrid class who wants a lot of gear, sure. The success of the entire plan, however, rests on your own ability to get yourself into successful raid groups within a three day window. What’s interesting isn’t so much that you should try this to maximize your play, but that you can. So if you’re the kind of person who tells your spouse to consider splitting savings into four separate checking accounts at a new credit union to min/max a gimmick interest rate—this plan’s for you. Start saving.

Posted in Technicalwith 10 Comments →

Can’t wait until November? Hot 3.2.2. action here!08.14.09

In a shocking turn of events, Blizzard has already posted details regarding the next patch—three months in advance. How does this affect us Druids? Unless you’re super pumped about Onyxia (and presumably didn’t farm her for eight thousand years in vanilla), there isn’t much on our horizon save this:

Feral Combat

  • Predatory Strikes: This talent now also causes the druid’s finishing moves to provide a 7/13/20% chance per combo point to make the next Nature spell with a cast time below 10 seconds instant cast.

What’s great about this change is the fact that it will be baked into a fairly essential Feral talent: you won’t need to spend extra points to take something gimmicky. Now, although this is seemingly designed to give Ferals a PVP utility boost, how helpful is it really?

Say, for example, you’re participating in an arena match. You’ve managed to get five combo points on a Mage (without having to switch targets), and you hit him with a Maim. Your pocket healer is busy kiting an Enhance Shaman. At that point, you have a few choices. You can pop out of Cat form and hit yourself or your teammates with a cast-free Regrowth, Healing Touch or Nourish. You could also use that instant cast for a Cyclone or Entangling Roots—note that the blue post specifies “Nature spells.” It’s essentially Nature’s Swiftness. So fully talented, you’ve got a 20%/40%/60%/80%/100% chance to get an instant cast per combo point.

Is this useful in a PVE scenario? Situationally. If you’re going through a normal rotation, find yourself with five combo points and realize you’re about to die, you’ve got nothing to lose giving yourself (or anyone else, including the tank) a cheap, instant heal. It does, however, require that you’re paying attention to your combo points and thinking ahead. Bottom line? It’s a gimmick you’ll seldom pointedly use in PVE but may actively pursue in PVP.

Just three more months.

Posted in Cat, Feralwith 5 Comments →

Stop hitting it so hard! You’ll wear it out!08.12.09

I was at this totally sweet rager a few months ago. There was Texas-style barbeque and Jell-o shots, pontoons and a bonfire stoked with jet fuel. We’d just lit a desk on fire and rode it Reverse Cowboy style down the hill into the canal when Mortality suggested that hey, maybe it’d be a great idea to reroll Horde on Mal’ganis. At least, I’m pretty sure I must have been drunk to A) play a cow B) play a Boomkin and C) start over with nothing. And although you could argue that I’ve only been playing the bomb owl part time, I first stepped into the Trial of the Champion raid encounters as ranged DPS. Interestingly, ranged DPS is the easiest role I’ve ever played in this game—don’t let those crazy-ass caster types tell you otherwise. Sure, you need to move around sometimes and that whole shrinking blue bar is problematic, but you mostly kick back, crack open a beer, and nuke.

Now don’t worry—this blog isn’t going the way of the chicken. I do, however, have a semi-helpful tip for all you Balance-things out there. As you probably already know, the Moonkin casting rotation has changed significantly; namely, it’s a lot easier. Instead of stacking Haste to 400 and following a lunar cycle, your goal is to actually proc both a solar and a lunar eclipse. Graylo calls this “twisting.” At a very basic level:

  1. FF, MF, IS
  2. Wrath until Lunar Eclipse
  3. Starfire until Solar Eclipse
  4. Make sure DoTs are up and shit.

Obviously the goal here is to make sure that you’re fluidly switching spells while keeping DoTs refreshed. Wrath makes this interesting. If you’ve got ~400 Haste, your Wrath spells are already casting at ~1.3 seconds. That’s pretty fast. With a Nature’s Grace proc (Wrath at ~1.0 seconds), you’re a veritable chain-casting machine. Chances are good that by the time you’ve gotten a Lunar Eclipse, you’ve already ripped off three to four Wraths. Grats, excitable Owl. You’ve just wasted four seconds of your Eclipse!

Here’s how to be a little more wary. Wrath, as you know, has a travel time. This means that when you cast Wrath, it doesn’t instantly hit the target. The ball of crackling Nature energy leaves your feathered grasp, zooms along, and then hits the target by the time you’ve already got another one or two queued up. Nature’s Grace (spell critical have a 100% chance to increase casting speed by 20% for 3 seconds) can proc when the spell leaves your hands. Nature’s Grace tells you that you’ve gotten a critical strike, meaning that you then have a 60% chance to proc a Lunar Eclipse. The Lunar Eclipse will not proc until the spell hits the target.

So if you’re using a mod such as Power Auras or even SCT, you’ll get a notification when you’ve procced Nature’s Grace with Wrath. That’s your cue to stop spamming your Wrath button like a squirrel on crack. By paying attention to your Nature’s Grace proc as the spell leaves your fingers, you can slow down and prepare to queue up a Starfire if you get the telltale Eclipse on the spell hit.

Is it a guaranteed win? No, but when you’re actively anticipating the switch, you’re able to maintain a more fluid rotation, which in turn means more DPS.

Posted in Bomb Owlwith 13 Comments →

Azerothian Idol: 3.2 Edition08.07.09

Let’s provide a little background. We Druids have had a stormy relationship with our Idols—they were either tiresome or difficult to obtain, and their equip effects haven’t always been ideal. Even after Wrath came out, Bears either suffered through content using a Level 70 item as best-in-slot or participated in a series of daily PVP quests to pick up the threat-boosting Idol of Perspicacious Attacks. It wasn’t until Ulduar that Bears cheered the Idol of the Corruptor—and then simultaneously booed when they realized it dropped off of Heroic Vezax. For Cats, life was a little simpler: just pick up the Idol of the Ravenous Beast for a few Emblems of Heroism and then hope you could eventually snag the Idol of Worship from Naxxramas.

Now, just about everything is purchasable with the right sort of currency—if you know what I mean—including the Idol of the Corruptor and the Idol of Mutilation. But which do you really need, and should you have more than one on hand? The short answer is: YES, ALL OF THEM. But if you’re not crazy, don’t raid very much, or only have the means to obtain one in the near future, the below information will help you get started.

Idol Effect (Cat Only)
Idol of the Ravenous Beast Increases the damage done by Shred by 203.
Idol of Worship Increases periodic damage done by Rip by 21 per combo point.
Idol of the Corruptor Your Mangle ability has a chance to grant 153 AGI for 12 seconds.
Idol of Mutilation Your Cat Form’s Mangle and Shred abilities have a chance to grant 200 AGI for 16 seconds.

Idol of Worship < ArP 230 < Idol of the Ravenous Beast
Idol of the Corruptor ← Manglebot? → Idol of the Ravenous Beast
Idol of the Ravenous Beast ←ArP > 230 and 25 EoT → Idol of Mutilation
See Above ← Bear → Idol of the Corruptor

What if I swing both ways? Is there a quick answer for Bears?

If you function in any capacity as a Bear tank, I strongly recommend spending the Emblems on the Idol of the Corruptor. For a full and complete breakdown, please see Kalon’s post (and his whole blog, really:) “Don’t get Idol of Mutilation for Bear!” But wait, you say, doesn’t the Idol of Mutilation give you 200 Dodge Rating for 9 seconds every time you use Swipe or Lacerate? Well, yes. At first glance, it sure does sound better than the Idol of the Corruptor. If you break the numbers down, however, it looks a little like this:

%Dodge %Crit Armor Count
Idol of the Corruptor 3.7975518 2.18359152 363.93192
Idol of Mutilation 4.41964 0 0

Better than you thought, right? Fuck yes, kids. The Agility proc is enhanced by Blessing of Kings, Survival of the Fittest, and Mark of the Wild. With a near 100% uptime for every time you Mangle, you can gain nearly as much Dodge as the Idol of Mutilation boasts, in addition to threat and mitigation boosting stats. And, since the Idol of the Corruptor rolls in at the bargain price of 19 Emblems of Conquest, it’s a steal.

I’m already sick of looking at the ass end of my bear. Let’s get back to DPS.

Despite all that shit I just said, you should still buy the Idol of Mutilation—but for DPS purposes. Why? Even at a basic level, it makes sense: the Idol of the Ravenous Beast, which most top-end Druids use now, only benefits Shred damage. Previous incarnations of Idols required a Mangle to proc the AGI effect, and with the advent of other abilities that provide bleed augmentations (read: TRAUMA), Cats really weren’t (and still aren’t) Mangling very much at all anymore. The best option was thus to gem for ArP and boost your main damage dealing ability as much as possible: Shred.

The Idol of Mutilation allows you to proc the 200 AGI effect for 16 seconds when you Mangle or Shred. Rather than increasing Shred damage by 203, the Idol of Mutilation amplifies all of your damage dealing attacks by the 200 AGI proc effect. In addition, initial reports suggest that this Idol has a near 100% uptime—if you’re Shredding and/or Mangling. Presumably, if this functions similarly to the Idol of the Corruptor, the 200 AGI is also affected by Survival of the Fittest, Mark of the Wild, and Blessing of Kings. Thus, that 200 AGI gives you:

AP %Crit
261.6504 2.85436

So is the Idol of Mutilation better than the Idol of the Ravenous Beast?

This is where it gets complicated, and you’d be best served by taking a peek at one of your most recent damage breakdowns. As a Cat, your goal is to make sure that you keep Savage Roar, Faerie Fire (if you don’t have anyone else who can apply it), Mangle (if you have no bot), Rake and Rip up at all times—without clipping DoTs. In between all those fun things, you Shred like a mad beast and use Ferocious Bite when you’ve got five combo points and extra time on all your other debuffs/buffs. That’s the basic version, anyway.

The idea is that the AGI proc effect will give you the most kapow if you’re spending a reasonable amount of time micromanaging those debuffs/buffs—which will apply to most of us. There is speculation, however, that using two-piece T8 and two-piece T9 (which extend the durations of Rip and Rake, respectively) gives you more time to kick back and Shred. A lot more. If that is the case, the Idol of the Ravenous Beast may once again edge out the Idol of Mutilation.

Additionally, you need to take a look at your total %Crit. Remember Tossk’s DPS Gear Methodology? At some point, AGI (contributing to %crit) loses value to AP. If Coliseum gear pushes Cats (raid buffed and all) well over ~60% Crit, again, the Idol of Mutilation may lose value to the Idol of the Ravenous Beast (which will provide a raw damage increase).

Tentatively, I want to say that the Idol of Mutilation is better than the Idol of the Ravenous Beast. I obviously do not have the capability at this point in time to test those two prior theories out. Once everyone starts acquiring more gear and there’s a healthier portion of data to dick around with, we’ll have to come back to this—and please, if you’ve got some sample numbers and corresponding stat information, send it on over!

Posted in Cat, Guide, Technicalwith 10 Comments →

  • You Avatar
    A textual adventure in double entendre and endgame druiding!