Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Druid Forum, DPS, and Mana Efficiency

I've been taking more knocks on the head for using my "of Nature's Wrath" gear, this time over on the Blizzard forums. The general gist (from here and elsewhere) is that many balance druids go Insect Swarm + Starfire for their rotation to save mana and sustain their DPS. That makes sense, but it's also not what I'm trying to do.

Here's a quote from the above link.

The most common casting rotation is this: IS/SFx4
The highest DPS casting rotation is this: IS/MF/Wx6

Well, exactly. For DPS, you Wrath, and that's where Nature's Wrath gear comes in.

Here's what the question reduces down to for me:

Why all the bias for mana efficiency when you'll often, depending on instance, bring down trash mobs before that's an issue? IS + SF might be good boss material, but it makes you inefficient against trash.

My guess is that the only way +nature dmg gear hurts you is if you...

1. Run into nature resistant mobs.
2. Are forced to back-up heal mid-fight.
3. Have a fight that lasts longer than you have mana.

The first would stink, but I haven't seen much of this outside of Nagraand. The second happens. You can swap idol and weapon to help, but yes, if your party starts to go down around trash mobs, you're in trouble in more ways than just gear. The third happens, but usually the fight's under control by then.

For bosses, you *change gear* if you've got it, but I'd like to see the pre-instance reward gear that'll beat what we've got here.

I mean, seriously, I haven't quite put in the time to have Tiered gear like the examples from the forum post I linked in the first paragraph: Madrox, Caliane, Skeldi, and Horao. Of course I'd rather have that stuff!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Gone Fishin'


I've been neglecting my cooking skills, and it's about the time I started getting buffs to go with my health breaks, so I got back on the cooking horse. I'd run the cooking quest two days ago, and now I'm back to fishing myself up some mats.

For a druid, fishing/cooking at level 225 or so is pretty easy. I ran over to Kelsy Yance in Booty Bay for the hot smoked bass recipe, as well as the filet of redgill. The second can be easily fished up in spades in Moonglade, which is a quick telelport away for us nature lovers, and the first can be found down in Tanaris, where I also made my way to Gikkix at Steamwheedle Port and grabbed two recipes: nightfin soup, which gives you, even at this low a level of cooking, a nontrivial buff of 8 mana/5 seconds -- for 10 minutes! -- as well as poached sunscale salmon, which has another great, 10 min buff of 6 health per 5 seconds. Nothing earthshaking, but better than a kick in the face, even at 70. Both of those have pretty good drops from Lake Elune'ara in Moonglade as well. Steamweedle gives out a good deal of spotted yellowtails, and Gikkix has a recipe for those, too.

The toughest part was probably finding the General Goods vendor in Moonglade, who is in the "far inn". Minimap included.

(Yes, I realize this is a horribly titled post.)

Jal's Current Gear

I've started up my fairly methodical blog post comparing "of Nature's Wrath" gear to Nodrassil Regalia with respect to their ability to dish out burst damage. One thing I've learned that, of the flavors of armor that I have currently (Expedition, Clefthoof, Murkblood), the Expedition set pieces have the best "of Nature's Wrath" bonuses. Too bad I can't go in and buy the whole set.

In any event, though I'll be comparing Expedition pieces in the mathes-off, I did first compile what Jal is wearing now, with its bonuses, etc. Here's what he's got.

HeadClefthoof Cover of Nature's Wrath20371 nat
NeckBrooch of Heightened Potential22149
ShoulderClefthoof Shoulderguards of Nature's Wrath18854 nat
BackOgre Slayer's Cover (+18 Int, +11 Spr)682016
ChestWindroc Shroud (squishie cloth)1302621
ArmMurkblood Bracers of Nature's Wrath11542 nat
HandsExpedition Gloves of Nature's Wrath16958 nat
WaistMurkblood Belt of Nature's Wrath14857 nat
LegsMurkblood Pants of Nature's Wrath23175 nat
FeetDreghood Boots of Nature's Wrath14744 nat
Ring 1Sedai's Ring (+12 int)155
Ring 2Wildlord's Band2511
Trinket 1Glowing Crystal Insignia26/104
Trinket 2Vengeance of the Illidari0/12026
WeaponTalbuk Sticker (+15 sta, +11 int)5810
Off-handSlavehandler Rod of Nature's Wrath34 nat
IdolIdol of Ferocity (worthless for balance)
Nordrassil Comparision Totals:921284 nat
Grand Totals:1399 (without kits)192
627 nat
747 temp

Naturally there's not much past pure Nature damage. I can see why this would make Mera cry, but I can also see why, with roots or a good tank, this is some great stuff. It's a free crit every time I throw Wrath, and Wrath is powerful enough now that I lead with it instead of Starfire. Interesting to think there's still some room in the Nature's Wrath for improvement, as I could upgrade it all to Expedition, if those ever hit the AH.

Only real downside? Well, I do run out of mana occasionally, the armor isn't great (better than a Clothkin's, but not great), and it's not very flexible. If I need to emergency heal, I swap in my healing staff, but it's still pretty shoddy if I don't have time to change clothes. If I bump into the ever more common nature resistant mob, the DPS goes waaaaay down as I Starfire and Moonfire them to death (though I did just pick up an "of Arcane Wrath" cape questing last night *sigh*).

We'll see how the numbers cut out later, but thought this might be interesting, and following Jal's gear is something I'd been meaning to do more often.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Ding! 70

Farming motes of mana and guess what happens... Woohoo. Bout time. Now it's time to move from getting XP to getting gear and keys.

EDIT: Meant to add that /played is 25 days, 12 hours, and a few minutes. Not sure where that ranks me on the all time quest for 70, but it seems a little high. ;^) All those danged solo attempts of places I shouldn't have even been visiting, I guess.

And there's fragment #2

Last night, the guild leader and I did a stealth run to grab the second key fragment on the way to Kara attunement (horrible picture included, below). Though Amanna says this is pretty easy to do solo in his guide, his notes of when he tried make things sound a little more complicated.

Now here’s where the real strategy comes in. I hate to admit it, but I died about 5 times trying to kill the Guardian to get the key.

Well, we died about 3 times trying to get past the mobs at the start. Amanna and other guides say to bypass the first two guards and time your run through the patrolling mobs that come afterwards on the left. We eventually, after a few aborted attempts to sneak past the stealth-detecting bog lords on the right (aborted as in, "Bog Lord hits you for 3000"), waxed the first two Coilfang Warriors at the entrance (only one death trying, though if you're smart that won't happen -- sap one, then lure the second up to the instance entrance, run and heal outside the entrance once you're done, duh), and then took out one of the wandering patrols to make timing things easier. The Steamvaults is a horribly busy instance, at least at the beginning, and some good [computer] hardware would really come in handy.

After that, grabbing the fragment was pretty easy. I made the same mistake as Amanna, going full-balance moonkin, thinking the damage would bring it down easily. I ended up having to down a Super Healing pot. To continue an already hazy evening, I forgot to bring out my trees too, for some strange reason.

I also hadn't checked his notes before the run where he suggests to bring the Guardian to the surface, and the guild leader started drowning at the end -- but didn't die even though I cast Regrowth on myself twice instead of him. Nice spaz, Jal. Bring breathing potions/cherries. But things worked out, and, aside from the Bog Lord corpse runs, we got the fragment in no time at all. Much easier than managing a PUG, and it's always fun to spend some time with guildies.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Map coords without a mod

Many minimap coord mods have gone belly up or cause trouble with updates, so I was awfully happy to find this macro to let me know what they are:

Create a macro using this script (just copy & paste it):

/script px,py=GetPlayerMapPosition('player')
/script DEFAULT_CHAT_FRAME:AddMessage(format('[ %s ] %i , %i',GetZoneText(),px*100,py*100));

You click on the macro and it will give you your coordinates in the chat pane.

Now you can use all those quest tips where they only give you coordinates for the mob/item you are looking for.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

First Fragment Down

I'll plan to follow-up with a more in-depth set of notes on taking down the bosses in Shadow Labs, but this is a quick note to say I've gotten over my whining from last night and have my first key fragment on my way to Kara attunement. Another fun night overall, which is, if you've been reading, sarcastic. Had a guy bail because his parents made him go to bed, if you believe all you're told, then had another drop briefly because his traps were being tripped. Pretty sure it wasn't me, but heck, I don't know a hunter trap from a hole in the ground. Also couldn't convince the remaining party members that I could heal the instance (have over +600 healing with healing gear on and healed the group for a while last night when the pally had trouble), and we sat for quite a while before scaring up a resto (whatever the equiv is) priest, making this the second marathon SL run in as many days for me.

Did I panzer much? Not really. It's a hard sale to get a slot in a SL group when you're balance spec'd as anything other than DPS, in my very limited experience. My gear gives well over +650 nature damage now, so I was usually dealing 1k with 2k crits again, with Moonfire and Insect Swarm doing DoT in parallel. Overall, pretty good tanking tonight, so I was only able to pull aggro a time or two. I'm currently using a cloth chest piece for a little more DPS, and felt a little squishie.

So SL panzering was all stealth tonight. I did quite a bit of swapping from my +dmg weapon and off-hand to Braxxis to get mana reg and to proc Omen of Clarity. Elune's touch is actually a heck of a lot more useful than most make it out to be, and I was never oom for long. When I wanted to try out panzer-ige, I'd put on the feral dmg mitigation gear and simply try my best to pull. Again, the tank was good enough to grab back aggro with, as mera has mentioned, his (later her) snap aggro skills. I only pulled aggro away from squishies a few times with wrath-spams, mostly seeing the tank grab aggro first. If two trash mobs broke towards our squishies, I was useful pulling the threat away, however, feral gear on or no.

Quick comment on snap aggro: In my experience, panzering requires starting up as a panzer; it's not a good role to take mid-way through a fight. When I think someone really needs help (like they're running from the tank -- *sigh*) and I need to grab aggro, I do swap from 'kin to bear to use the snap skills. Panzerking takes some serious planning, not to mention a good starfire lead.

And man, let me say that, with that +nature dmg, Jal is pretty danged powerful. I'll need to find the app that keeps track of who does how much damage in a party, and I do have to give the proverbial props to the warlock and mages for sheeping and CC'ing the mobs in general rather than just DPSing, but even with the poor moonkin's DPS gear "of Nature's Wrath", I was piling it on. Nice that balance specs give you the flexibility to run panzer or DPS.

Kind of a pain to be doing this all on the iBook G4 rather than the new overclocked GeForce 8500GT. Was looking at 4 fps for a while, aka "most of", today. Nice slideshow.

Ah, and finally, for a while we had a feral, resto, and balance druid in the party. Was fun to collect the whole set for a while.

Worst. Night. Of WoW. Ever.

Here's my post to the Customer Service Forum at the WoW site:

I just ran the Shadow Labs with a group that brought down Murmur. We also killed the First Fragment Guardian. I had (and have) the quest Entry Into Karazhan, but was not able to loot the Guardian and receive the first fragment.

I opened a ticket and was told I was having a UI issue, though I don't run any mods on my iBook (which is what I used tonight). I'm suspicious that it has something to do with the way I died while fighting Murmur.

Here's the chain of events:
1.) Murmur kills me.
2.) I release my spirit and start to corpse run back into the instance.
3.) Group kills Murmur.
4.) First Fragment Guardian spawns.
5.) I'm rezzed before I hit the instance.
6.) I help bring down the Guardian.
7.) Everyone loots the Guardian and gets the first fragment but me.

Note: I could loot Murmur, so I found it strange that I couldn't loot the Guardian.
Note: Two party members dropped within split nanoseconds of looting the Guardian and hearing that I couldn't. Though this happens occasionally, it's odd. What did they know that I didn't? Was there an action they might have taken that put me between the proverbial rock and a hard place? I suspicious that I've been [a near homonym for] shrewd.

So this is essentially EDIT: four two and three-quarters hours down the drain (still a ton, afaict; we wiped a bit. Hey, I was dishing out well over 500 DPS; I did what I could). I'm a casual player, so that's a pretty big night shot to heck -- aka, I'm very [b]very[/b] disappointed that the game didn't let me loot the corpse. That's awfully unexpected behaviour.

I've got two questions for The Blues...

A.) What happened? Why couldn't I get the fragment?
B.) Please heavens, is there any way I can get a Virtual Property escalation on this? Something untowards happened, that's for sure.

If there's no way on earth B can happen -- as in no way on earth, virtual earth, or any other realm of real or imagined sorts -- please goodness groveling please answer A so that it won't happen again.

Thanks for the help. I'm trying not to be awfully frustrated.

The worst part is that whatever happened wasn't [solely] because of getting into a PUG with less than pristine (and I'll chalk it up to it being early in the morning) attitudes or getting ninja'd, etc. This is a bug. It's a problem with the way Blizzard's written the game. I lost XP from Murmur. Fine. I was dead. Whatever. But this key fragment was the goal of the instance, I earned it, and couldn't get it because of the code. This one falls on Blizzard, I'm afraid.


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Entering the world o' gems

In my WoW playing career, I've been in the possession of one, count 'em, one gem. I bought it from some NPC schmoe in the inn at Honor Hold, just to see how the gem thing worked. What it told me was that gems were just as big a mess as enchants; lots of money that I couldn't spend effectively until I did a ton of homework.

Well, at least the homework becomes much easier when you find the World of Warcraft Gem Finder. If I want to know which give +spell dmg, it's just a click away. Spell damage in a blue socket? Two clicks.

Very nice. Not quite PayPal donation nice, but nice.

Btw -- thanks for the comment earlier. Will post soon about the +nature damage, which I do tend to use over generic +spell for PvE leveling. After a quick review of the Nordrassil Raiment, I think the much less expensive +nature dmg gives Tier 5 armor a run for its money. Pre-70, obviously enough, I think "of Nature's Wrath" is tough to beat.

Now I haven't run any mathes against "of Arcane Wrath" and starfire, but when you can grab that +617 bonus every two seconds, 1.5 if you crit, well, I think it's the pure speed of wrath that's most important for maxing out your gear's bonuses. I do start with starfire, as things haven't changed much since level 62 or so.

Balance Style:
Starfire to pull
Entangling roots
Moonfire for DoT
Insect Swarm
Vengeance of the Illidari or the like
(reupping roots and moonfire as necessary)

The only thing that's changed for panzering is that I'm using the Braxxis staff now instead of Ursol's.

Panzerkin with Braxxis
Starfire to pull (occasionally if starfire stuns, I'll use Vengeance of the Illidari)
Wraths until mob is on me (Nature's Grace pays off here)
Moonfire (followed by Wrath on criticals)
Insect Swam
Faerie Fire
Wail with Braxxis
(re-up moonfire every ten seconds, and follow with Wrath if Nature's Grace procs)

Ding! 69, dude (and of Nature's Wrath)

Well, after running though the Nesingwary quests (and a few battles at Halaa), I took my level 68 self back to Zangarmarsh to finish up a few quests still on the list. Talk about easy experience points -- I got about 780 per kill in the good ole Kill X of Y quests without losing more than half my mana, and could panzer through the mobs for about 1/3 a health bar. It was easily sustainable, and I racked up 80-90k in what must be record time for me.

In Outland, so far I've been most impressed with the landscape in Nagrand (and enjoyable enough Kill X of Y quests building up to "boss battle" style climaxes) and the fairly compelling ogre and Wyrmcultist storylines. Zangarmarsh's Sporeggar are probably the most memorable from that zone, but overall I haven't enjoyed the marsh nearly as much as those other two. Regardless, it's given me the 69, putting me that much closer to hitting the Shadow Labyrinth for my first fragment of the Master's Key as I start up attunement again.

Fwiw, I did solo into the Shadowlabs a bit, but was only able to look around before getting tagged by that giant eye. I think the screengrabs are on the iBook, which I might post later. Definitely a group thing, though I'll try again at 70. Also, in a woefully belated post, I'll finally dig into the powers of "of Nature's Wrath" equipment, which I've been using like mad. When I've got my balance set on, I've got +617 nature spell damage, which has been awfully nice. The bottom line on the Nature's Wrath gear is that I get such a boost to damage that the lack of critical hit bonuses seems a very easy tradeoff. +617, folk. With my Vengeance of the Illidari proc'ing, which adds another 120, I'm wiping up. When Rank 9 Wrath causes 278 to 312 points (and Rank 10 only a bit more, 381 to 429), I'm rolling in the damage. Since I'm usually doing PvE when I've got the balance gear on, I'm also usually outside using roots, so the damage mitigation losses from Nature's Wrathing are all but meaningless.

1800 crits for 210 mana points and 2 seconds of casting ain't bad, folk.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Only one root?

WoW Forums -> 2.2 PTR Patch Notes:

Entangling Roots: It is no longer possible to have Entangling Roots on two targets at the same time in the outdoor world.

What in the world? First druids can't get crowd control going inside, and now Blizzard's nerfing outside too? Thanks tons, guys.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

An Elemental Reward

With TBC, Blizzard introduced a few BoP armor sets for high level leatherworkers. It's sort of a thanks for specializing which had become nearly useless after TBC killed the value of the old purple craftables.

Just so I won't forget (yet again) what my elemental specialization reward armor set is, well, it's the Primal Intent set (wowwiki):

The Primal Intent set is the 3 piece Bind on Pickup (BoP) armor set which can be crafted by elemental leatherworkers once they reach skill level 375.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

A Kara attunement guide you (aka, "I") can understand!

Looks like our feral druid friend Amanna has a Kara attunement guide you can understand. Apparently he's borrowed these "Karazhan Attunement - Cliff Notes" from WowWiki, but he adds some comments on how he was able to solo a few extra parts with feral druid specific strategies. I'm thinking it'll be a while before I'm doing the same with balance, but the post seems a good place to start.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Setting up to raid

I just hit 68, which means I wasted 30 mins flying around in my new druid flight form. Fun, but not very productive.

It also means I'm close enough to 70 to start sniffing raiding. I bugged a guild recruiter at a raiding guild who said that in addition to mad skillz in my class, I needed to be tuned to Kara. Okay, I knew tuned was "attuned", but what's Kara?

Karazhan is a raid instance that requires a heck of a lot of work to enter. In this case, that work culminates in grabbing something called "The Master Key." Blizzard provides an interactive chart (Kara's in the middle of the "Raid 1" tier) to help you figure out where you need to go to get the key. I've looked; it's still overwhelming complicated. WowWiki tries to make things better, but you're still left with lots of links going all over. Whatever the heck ajs.com is has a Burning Crusade Progression Checklist. Still pretty danged daunting.

I'll start stepping through it all soon enough, and hopefully it'll make more sense.

Looks like we start here, in the old world beside Duskwood (Duskwood which was, I'd say, one of the more enjoyable zones in the old world).

Ding! 68

Backfilling another ding. This one's a little more action-oriented than 69's; I'm whacking Bloodmaul Ogres in Nagrand. Not a bad quest line, all dings considered, hardy har.

Saturday, July 7, 2007