Saturday, May 26, 2007

Ding! 65 & Patch 2.1

Though this picture is in the Blade's Edge Mountains, most of the experience for level 65 came from smacking down firewing blood elves, arakkoa, bonecrushers, and, most recently, the mobs down in the bone wastes. And yes, the firewing smacks mean that I went with Scryers in the great Scryer vs. Aldor debate. The rewards are indistinguishable that I often wonder if Blizzard didn't set them up as a sort of joke to see the community go crazy trying to decide between six and half a dozen. For me, I already had some second-rate fire resist leatherworking patterns, so I went Scryer for arcane resist and the very nice healing staff. We'll see if I finish the rep grinding.

Patch 2.1 has a couple of additions to keep in mind for moonkin. The new clock-like timer for timed spells is okay, though I was pretty scared to notice pre-2.1 that I could "feel" 10 seconds extremely accurately and really don't need the GUI to help me out there. That moonkin form now, like cat and bear, has its own replacement action bar is nice, but the first time you notice can also a bit disconcerting. That is, when you go to moonkin form, your #1 action bar is now blank except for number 1, which is still melee attack. I had a moonkin bar set up for #3 and a separate bar for #1, and would occasionally use #1 for accessing a couple of extra spells in 'kin form, so discovering this in the middle of a fight was initially a bit disorienting. Still, now we've got another bar to fill, which is great.

A few bits from the patch notes that might be useful.

Barkskin now reduces all damage taken, with its duration reduced to 12 seconds and cooldown reduced to 1 minute. The tooltip has been adjusted to indicate this ability can be used while frozen, incapacitated, or cowering in fear. That functionality was already present, but not listed in the tooltip.

Omen of Clarity: This spell is no longer castable in Tree of Life Form or Moonkin Form.

Mangle(Bear): Damage increased by 15%, but bonus threat reduced so that overall threat generation will be unchanged.

Subtlety(Restoration Talent) now applies to all spells, not just healing spells.

Teleport: Moonglade: This spell is no longer castable in Tree of Life Form.

Barkskin means that it goes on my moonkin action bar now as a good armor buff. I am going to miss Omen of Clarity; that's a good talent to combine with melee-based strategies like a panzerkin. Mangle is interesting only in that there's no threat increase, so it doesn't help bears tank better than 'kin than before. And now panzers don't want Subtlety at all, as tanking means wanting threat.

I'm thrown off a bit why trees can't teleport to moonglade. Why bother with this? If it's a humanoid form, let it teleport. Hope kin aren't next.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Enough with the crosspromotion, Blizzard

(Stealing a comment I made to WoW Insider...)

I'm a little tired of the shameless crosspromotion of Starcraft II on World of Warcraft now; it smacks of ESPN and their month-long pimp of the boring as get-out NFL draft. First we had it cropping up in our login screen, which wasn't so bad. Now when you go to, you get a full-page advert of SC2 with timeline like they think they're Apple or something. Fun times.


I didn't really mind when WoW Insider announced it'd be Starcraft Insider for a day, but with all the crosspromotion now I feel like the Larry Spannel character in the movie adaptation of Glengarry Glen Ross (that date me sufficiently?).

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Ding! 64

Missed the fancy gold spinning effects from leveling in the ding-screenshot this time, as I hit 64 with some experience for discovering Veil Lashh, and it caught me off-guard.

Still, 64 is an important level, if only because it lets me use the Braxxis' Staff of Slumber I bagged for 50g a while back in what was a pretty suspicious deal. This staff is, if you believe the Bear Tanking Gear List, a site destined to become any Panzerkin's best friend, the 22nd best two-handed weapon for providing damage mitigation, and the absolute best a druid can get until level 67 in the game. It provides 550 armor, and the 400% moonkin armor bonus works with it as well, giving me over 12k in moonkin form now. Not too shabby.

To celebrate, I finally decided to get the infamous Carrot on a Stick from ZF solo. Was enjoyable overall. Getting the Mallet of Zul'Farrak was a cakewalk, quite unlike trying around level 45. In Zul'Farrak proper, most mobs ignored me as I walked right up to the gong that summons Gahz'rilla. After clearing out the front half of that room, I let him have it.

Of course it would appear quite a number of mobs spawn once you're done whacking the boss. As any good level 64 druid would, I went to travel form, turned tail, and ran like mad all the way to the instance entrance. Then, remembering I hadn't yet looted Gahz'rilla (actually, I'd tried, but my bags were full of troll sweat. Smart), I popped back into travel form, past about 20 mobs waiting at the entrace for my return (most behind me or unfortunately blocked by my bags, below), and ran on back for the looting. It was a classic episode of Benny Hill.

Oh well. Now I'm level 64, have one of the best staves in the game for a panzer, and I'm 3% faster on my mount. Woohoo.

Monday, May 14, 2007

What is a Panzerkin?



What's a Panzerkin?
A panzerkin is exactly what the name says -- a moonkin-spec'd druid who can tank. Put another way, panzerkin are about balancing out two competing drives, damage per second (DPS) vs. damage mitigation. Though often panzerkin only perform as an off-tank, picking up those mobs that stray from the group's main tank before they hit the true squishies (mages, warlocks -- even priests to a certain degree, though they don't wilt like real clothies when attacked), in most instances, they make quite capable main tanks.

Why can moonkin tank?
  • There's no better spec for pulling than the panzerkin, who can grab with starfires for about 1k damage even at my current level (63) and crit for 2k. It's very easy to moonfire a number of mobs quickly, keeping their attention on you, or to toss in some Wraths as they approach, all while in your high-armor form.

  • With pointblank wrath-spams, it's very hard to find a tank that can match a panzer's DPS, which helps with keeping up the threat level. Worst case for me is, give or take, 450 damage per 3.5 seconds with Wrath and my feral gear on, which means 900 damage in 3 seconds when I crit on top of moonfire's damage over time (turns into 650 & 1300 with DPS gear; beat that, prot warriors).

  • With the right gear - Ursol's Claw is an early example -- panzers can also dish out good DPS during melee combat as well. Feral-geared moonkin can dish out better damage in melee as kin than bear.

  • Elune's touch gives melee an added benefit of regenerating some Wrath mana while you're at it.

  • It's also here that druids' area of effect (AoE) damage spells make more sense. Casting barkskin and hurricane mean that quite a few mobs will concentrate mainly on you, and is a good way of pulling aggro, as the form doesn't have talents that do that artificially.

  • So why not call them Abramskin? Well, the World War II panzers were known in conjunction with blitzkriegs, or "lightning war". Moonkin have the damage mitigation to tank fairly well, but have a much more difficult time keeping up their damage per second (DPS), if only because they run out of mana. There's no way to beat Wrath-spamming your opponent for DPS, except that, eventually, without a ton of Elune's Touches and a great shadowpriest, you'll run out of the mana to conjure Wrath up. This takes some good gameplay skills, as well-timed mana potions become especially important.

    Clothing a Kin:
    You may have heard the term "clothkin." These seem less prevalent in The Burning Crusade because there's a lot more +spell damage leather gear, but clothkins are those who sacrifice armor to pile on cloth equipment. The bonuses of cloth gear targets the classes that usually wear it, mages & warlocks, and have a great deal more +spell damage for Wrath, making DPS go through the roof.

    This is great when you're soloing, and can use roots for crowd control, and helps a balance druid fill a DPS slot in a group, but loses two-thirds of the bonuses the moonkin form gives -- extra attack power and the armor multiplier. I'd also suggest that "of Nature's Wrath" gear, which I'll blog more on later, is a better way to pick up some more DPS and damage mitigation than cloth gear for very little gold.

    Striking a good balance between DPS and damage mitigation gear is pretty difficult. I've found I tend to wear nearly pure feral gear while panzering, with just a few extra pieces to add DPS to my Wrath.

    Why the Armor Bonus if not Tanking?
    Taken another way, let's answer the question, "Why does moonkin have as much armor as bear?" from the Blizzard forums. From the OP:
    There is just no way that a caster form should have the same amount of armor bonus as a tanking form. Ever. Period.

    Perhaps because moonkin is a tanking form? From the first reply...
    In a nutshell, the Moonkin armor level is to give you a measure of survivability if you pull aggro from trash in an instance - allowing you a limited ability to offtank.

    The way I see it, they got a bump in armor in order to promote some measure of scalability now that the game has extended 10 additional levels. Playing a heavy hitting caster that neither has an aggro dump, nor any aggro reduction talents is a wee bit dangerous. Armor helps them.

    The point of these two posts is certainly true... As I've said a few times, being a druid means you've been the main healer quite a bit, like it or not. I've healed long enough to know that when a tank loses aggro and a mob rushes a clothie, the health bars drop like the bottom fell out. It's a real pain healing mages who draw aggro before they go down and the chance for wiping begins.

    But healing standard DPS moonkin who draw aggro? No problem. If a moonkin can't finish off one loose mob, well, they aren't worth their Deeprock Salt. Even then, the healer has a lot larger window for timing the heal than with a mage. The armor is a good bonus, even when just DPSing.

    But, as I've already suggested, it would seem there's another message from Blizzard. They could have left moonkin at 360% for their armor multiplier after the bear nerf, and nobody would have complained. At 400%, matching bear armor for armor, the message seems to be, "You can both tank, fools!"

    Why not?

    (I'll try to edit this post a bit later, but thought I'd get this much out now.)

    Wednesday, May 9, 2007

    Youtube: Five Moonkin in BG == 15 Treants

    Cute, at the very least. There's a quick snippet where all five moonkin shawdowmeld, and break with moonfires and treants galore to gank a pally in the battlegrounds around 3:20 in. Sometimes I can't tell what the heck the guys are running for, where the wrath is, and why nobody drops out to heal, but still fun to watch. (Note: I'm no BG expert.)

    Tuesday, May 8, 2007

    Ding! 63

    Last Saturday, I finally made it on the 63. Exciting times, I know. I wasn't paying attention as the Fen Strider patrolled behind me, and, well, welcome to the next level.

    I recently bagged [Ursol's Claw] during a PUG in Hellfire Ramparts, and it's changed my solo style a bit. Here's a quick list of my solo, one-on-one, PvE modus operandi through the levels, give or take.

    Before 40
    Starfire to pull
    Moonfire for DoT
    Faerie fire
    (re-up moonfire every ten seconds)

    Moonkin #1 (Discovered roots in a big way...)
    Starfire to pull
    Moonfire for DoT
    Entangling roots
    (reupping roots and moonfire as necessary)

    I'd begun to feel as Amanna says, "Not sure how many of you still actually fight with your weapons, but if that’s your gig, then here ya go."

    Ursol's Claw (still in moonkin form)
    Starfire to pull
    Wraths until mob is on me (Nature's Grace pays off here)
    Moonfire (followed by Wrath on criticals)
    Insect Swam
    Faerie Fire
    Wail with Ursol's Claw
    (re-up moonfire every ten seconds)

    With Ursol's Claw's bonus, I'm up to about 270 per hit, which makes it worth using weapons again, even when balance/DPS geared.

    Enough. This was mainly a Ding! post, but seems to have gotten a bit carried away.


    Saturday, May 5, 2007

    Panzerkin Introductions

    As this is a first post, introductions are in order. This blog will focus on one type of World of Warcraft gamer, but will hopefully be interesting -- at times! -- for anyone that overlaps at all with the following description:

    I'm a casual WoW gamer, trying to ramp my balance druid up from mostly soloing quests to a diet rich in instancing and raiding.

    That's it -- the Confessions of a Part-Time Panzerkin.

    Confessions: Not the most experienced player here. Solid, but not a know-it-all. Heck, I just main-tanked for the first time in a level-appropriate instance last night. TONS of solo questing, I do have. A good deal of Scarlet Monastry experience and a time share in Blackrock Depths? Got 'em. Key to Scholomance? Yeah boy. But I'll be confessing a lot of naivety here.

    Part-time: I don't play ten hours a week. In fact, I've been playing the same main for just over two years, if you'll excuse (but count) the six-month layoff to "get some work done." Over those 18 months to 60, I averaged less than an hour's play a day. My gear has almost always been made up of greens with a few blues. I didn't buy the expansion the month it was released, and waited until March to join in. I've been in two guilds, both social. Until now, I've played for structureless fun. How do you move from casual gamer to raider? Aside from a ton of play time, I don't know. Let's find out.

    Panzerkin: I'll relate some of the best, easily found balance gear that has quickly moved me from a decent level 58 to a much more powerful 62; boy, the Burning Crusade has great stuff. If I think I've learned a trick for casual druid moonkins (in that order) I'll share. (They're rare, but if you're below 60 and haven't soloed Lord Roccor, or if you're a balance druid and haven't purchased something "of Nature's Wrath" from the Auction House, you're missing out.)

    Critical Thought?
    Occasionally, I'll also wax nearly academic, I'm afraid, like when I discuss how Blizzard's incredible political correctness means that half the humanoid mobs are female, that there's no difference between the powers of males and females, and that this means that half the time Blizzard's got you beating the crap out of a woman before taking her money. Luckily, the blogger "key words" should make those "academic" posts pretty obvious.

    So that's about it. The only people reading this post, since nobody but me will know about the blog when I post it, will likely be those interested enough to know its quick history. That either means the blog's a partial success, or one heck of a joke. Either way, thanks for dropping by and reading. I hope a few of the posts will be useful, and am eager to hear your replies.