Sunday, December 19, 2010

Bears, Gems, and Enchants - Oh My!

I'll warn you, this is going to get a little more theorycrafty than I normally get... but it's all pretty simple napkin math, along with quite a bit of personal opinion.

First thing I want to talk about is gemming. Gone are the days of throwing nothing but stamina in our gear. It's true that we still benefit from stam very well, and that a large health pool is nothing to scoff at, but it isn't the king of the road it used to be. Avoidance is actually a very acceptable way to gem or enchant yourself. I would never say to forsake stamina completely, and I would never say to forsake avoidance completely either. Perhaps I should start the same place that I started.

(Post edit: SIGH!! Some of my numbers were off originally, so i'm fixing them now)

Gem (theory)
Last night I ran heroic deadmines, and picked up these (Heroic VanCleef's Boots), and I was debating which gem I should throw in them. As you can see, it has a yellow socket, with a 10 agility socket bonus.
The way I figured, I had two choices: a 20 Dodge Rating/30 Stam gem that would give me the 10 agility socket bonus, or a 60 stamina gem to completely ignore the socket bonus.

After playing around with a lot of circumstances in my head, I decided to pull out a piece of scratch paper and do some math, in hopes that it would help me decide what I would benefit from more.
1 Agility grants all of these to properly talented, unbuffed druids in bear form:
2.65 attack power
.0034% dodge
.0031% crit chance

1 stamina grants to properly talented, unbuffed druids in bear form:
17.05 health

So, to put this in perspective, my two different gems:
60 stamina gem:
1023 health

or 20 dodge rating/30 stam gem (with 10 agility socket bonus):
.34% dodge
.031% crit chance
511.5 health
26.5 attack power

Now, we can break these stats down a bit more. Keep in mind that agility and stamina are also modified by Mark of the Wild, adding an additional 5% to them, but that's not something we're looking at right now. At level 85 65.12 dodge rating = 1%, so by socketing that dodge rating gem, and getting the 10 agi socket bonus you gain almost a full half-percent of dodge. I think that the dodge/stam gem is the better choice because it just offers more benefit per point of itemization than socketing for pure stamina.

Now then, let's look at another piece where the decision is, in my opinion, significantly harder.
Sly Fox Jerkin, picked up from Guardians of Hyjal with a revered reputation. As you can see, this item has 2 sockets, a red and a blue, with a socket bonus of 20 mastery rating. Now, the blue socket should definitely get a 60 stamina gem, there's no question there... The red socket is the questionable one. The way I see it, you have 3 different options:
60 stamina gem, ignoring the socket bonus.
40 agility gem for the socket bonus.
20 agility/30 stamina gem for the socket bonus.
We'll just look at the red socket, and see what benefit you would get from each gem... We'll take for granted that all of these are considered unbuffed and in bear form.

60 stam = 1021 health
40 agi = 106 attack power, .14% dodge, .12% crit, 20 mastery rating,
20 agi/30 stam = 53 attack power, .07% dodge, .06% crit, 20 mastery rating, 511.5 health.

20 mastery rating (from the socket bonus) comes out to .11 mastery... which really isn't a whole lot. I think this is more of a personal judgement call. After putting the stats in here, I don't necessarily feel like the pure agility gem is a worthwhile call, bringing it down to pure health, or health + avoidance with a smidgen of mastery. I actually feel like the 20 agi/30 stam is the right call to make, but as I said, this is really a much more difficult call to make, and is entirely up to you.
Socket bonuses to avoid +critical strike rating, +haste, and other overly garbage stats like that.

These do NOT include the profession-specific enchants (inscription shoulder enchants, leatherworking bracer enchants, etc)
In cases where there's two listed, they're not necessarily in any order. They're just equally acceptable enchants, or (in the case of the weapon enchants) ones where I would need more information to pick between the two.

Head slot - Arcanum of the Earthen Ring - Earthen Ring - Revered
Shoulder - Greater Inscription of Unbreakable Quartz - Therazane Exalted (Lesser one at honored)
Legs - Charscale Leg Armor - Leatherworking
Bracers - Dodge
Cloak - Protection

Friday, December 17, 2010

How to bear in Cataclysm: Part 2

Well! This is part two... getting into the real nitty-gritty... the actual in-dungeon method. If you haven't checked it out, you should see Part 1 first.

So... your dungeon group is put together. Congratulations! Now stop hyperventilating... Relax and take a deep breath. Take a look at your group makeup, and what dungeon you're in. Recognize what your party members can do CC-wise, and if you're unsure ask. If it's a pug, don't be ashamed or afraid to say that you aren't familiar with the instance you're running. (Or that you've never tanked it before, at the very least). You never know what kind of group you're going to come across. If someone in the group says they've done the place before, then don't be afraid to have them mark things for you so you can learn. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Don't be afraid to use your cooldowns.. EVEN ON TRASH. Some trash hits as hard as some of the lighter bosses. You're going to take a beating. If you feel threatened start using things... just don't blow them all at once.

Now then. There's two ways to start a pull. You can initiate it, and have CC cast right as you're running in, or have the CC cast before you run in, and pull the mobs off of them. Personally I prefer the 2nd way. The mobs are coming towards you while your enrage is... giving you rage. Mobs heading towards whoever cast the first CC, when they're in range hit thrash/swipe. You should have your kill order setup, and marked with a skull (or whatever mark your group has agreed on to die first).

Now, I won't give you a specific set of things to do to keep aggro on a group of mobs, because it really depends on a LOT of different factors. Biggest thing I can tell you is to keep thrash and swipe on cooldown if there's more than two mobs. If everyone is focusing on your kill order, that should generally be enough, but you need to pay attention to everything. Watch your healer's mana bar, your party's health bar, your healer's mana bar, your target's health bar, omen, your healer's mana bar, the CC'd targets in the back, any patrolling mobs that might be coming too close to you guys, your healer's mana bar... starting to get the picture yet?

When I tank, my eyes are darting all over the damn screen. On trash i'm literally only looking at the actual trash mobs like 1/5 of the time because there is just so much everything else I need to keep an eye on. It takes a LOT of practice to get good at it. I can tell you right now, you WILL FAIL at some point. Don't take it too hard. I still screw up at some point. I know the DPS still screw up. Sometimes extra pulls are made, sometimes you may get too close to a CC'd mob with your swipe/thrash.. Don't panic. Panicking is the worst thing you can do, and can easily spell death for your group.

When your group wipes, take a second to take stock of what happened. What could you have done better? Did a mob get past you somehow? Did you position your combat mobs too close to your CC'd mobs? Was the kill order followed? Did a patrol catch you offguard? All of these things can, will, and DO happen. I have done them all... your guild's main tank has done them all... the main tank of Ensidia has done them all. /shrug. Nobody's perfect, and to expect such from yourself is only going to set yourself up for failure.

Now then... how do you keep aggro on packs of mobs? Thrash and Swipe are going to be your main abilities, but as they both have 6 second cooldowns, obviously they're not the only buttons you'll be hitting. I generally thrash, swipe, and mangle my main target, then start targetting my other targets and hit them with lacerates, hitting thrash and swipe as they come off cooldown, or occasionally mauling (you have that glyphed, right?) if you find yourself near the top end of your rage bar (as a rule, it's usually safe at 60 rage or more). Let the DPS do their work. Tab through your targets and keep an eye on your threat relative to theirs. Watch for errant spell-casts. Use your interrupts whenever you see something to interrupt. Don't be afraid to use your cooldowns. [b]ALWAYS keep an eye on your healer[/b]. Watch your healer's mana bar like a hawk in between pulls, and then...

Congratulations! You now have a big ugly boss staring you in the face. Do you know the mechanics of this boss fight? If not, feel free to ask your guildies/group members if there's anything specific you need to know. Unless your group's committed to going in blind. Make sure your group has completely mana'ed and healed up... make sure they're *ready* (yes there is a difference... sometimes people go afk for a split second, or will alt-tab for something briefly)... and then make the pull. Use your enrage to generate some opening rage, and hit it with your Faerie fire.

Now from the pull the first thing you need to worry about is positioning the boss. It's a 100% safe bet to put the boss's back to your party members. Unless there are obstacles that prevent that, any melee in your group will thank you for it. If you're unfamiliar with the mechanics of a fight, or if you know there is are knockbacks involved, putting your large butt against a wall is also a good idea. Now the problem with putting your back against a wall is that it will screw up your visibility immensely. There's a large joke running around that all tanks ever see is boss crotch. Rotate your camera around to your side so you can keep an eye on the party. That way any adds that spring up can be controlled quickly.

Once your boss is in melee range, and while your positioning him, it's time to start building threat... I mean, after all... that's your job as a tank, right? You absorb hits, and you build threat to make sure no one ELSE has to eat any of hits. Your FF will give a fair amount of opener threat. Now your highest threat generating ability, as well as your hardest hitting ability, is going to be Mangle. Mangle should be used as soon as it comes off of cooldown, EVERY time it comes off of cooldown. Watch for your berserk proc'd mangles as well... they take priority over everything else. The majority of your button presses are going to be Lacerate. You always want to get lacerate up to 3 stacks, and then Pulverize. Maul can be thrown in as your rage gets higher (again, 60 rage or higher it'll be safe to maul). I personally don't find the bleeds from lacerate hitting hard enough to be worth leaving stacked while Pulverize's buff runs lower. I could be wrong about this, but it's how [i]I, personally[/i] do it.

With all that, this is what your combat priority should be
Faerie Fire (to keep/refresh the debuff) > Demoralizing Roar (to keep/refresh the debuff) > Mangle > Maul (over 60 rage. It's off the GCD so fit it in anywhere really) > Lacerate x3 > Pulverize > Faerie Fire (if the buff isn't in need of refreshing/you're out of rage for some reason)

It's worth noting that you *shouldn't* run out of rage, but if you slip up and maul at the wrong time, you can definitely find yourself with a free global cooldown. Now, as for your defensive cooldowns. You need to learn what your healer can and cannot handle. If you see anything going on, and your health bar is dropping to an uncomfortable level, pop a cooldown. Depending on what's "uncomfortable" for you, should really depend on what cooldown you use. Barkskin is a short cooldown (And it can be used while you're stunned too), so it's a safe bet to use that one first. If, for some reason, you end up REALLY on low health, use another one (frenzied regen or survival instincts)... The worst thing you can do is panic and blow all 3 cooldowns at once. Sure, you'll take very little damage for a period of time, and your heals will pop you up much higher, quicker, but if the shit hits the fan again within 3 minutes, then you're boned.

Have you noticed a recurring theme here? A lot of what's involved in successfully tanking is keeping your head straight, and not spazzing out. Sure, some people can boil it down to a bunch of math and formulas and stat weights and priorities and such... and to a point those are ALL important, but a tanking is a lot more seat-of-your-pants style than DPSing is. Tanks have to be proactive AND reactive, and legitimately, the entire group depends on your ability to perform your job well. Don't expect to be an amazing tank right off the bat, but take the small successes with the failures, and find out what you do well, and where you can improve. Ask your party members or guildies for advice... find a good bear that you know and ask them for tips on what might help with certain encounters or trash pulls that give you headaches.

Feel free to leave me any comments or questions.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

How to bear in Cataclysm

So, i've been doing a lot of talk about bears lately... and i'm going to talk about them more now, so deal with it. This is going to be more of a comprehensive "how to" guide for people who want to start bearing it up, but it's mostly focused on the 80-85 experience. To be perfectly honest, bears were relatively weak while levelling BEFORE the swipe cooldown was implemented. I'm not saying it's impossible for bears to tank in low levels now, but things are a lot harder that way... and honestly you'd have a much more difficult time of it. So... First thing I am going to look at is the talent spec. I know I posted about this a few weeks ago, but after having experienced the new content, I feel like I am pretty sure of my talent tree decisions now.

This will be the level 85 talent tree you want to shoot for. I seriously underestimated the importance that Perseverence would have, and I definitely feel that 6% is indeed worthy of 3 of those precious talent points you're given between 80 and 85. You'll notice there's 1 open point here... Not a lot of leeway to go with, I know, but it's better than nothing. I think I am going to put mine in Stampede for a bit of extra threat generation. Personal preference, of course.

This will be the tree you start off with at level 80. You can finally spec into Master Shapeshifter again! I know you've been eyeing it for weeks. Sadly, Master Shapeshifter is really a decent talent, but having it tied to Natural Shapeshifter is absolutely horrible and I hope that Blizz reconsiders it at some point, but nonetheless, your first point at 81 should probably go there.

I didn't specify any minor glyphs because really... there's not much to choose from. I pick Demoralizing Roar for the reduced cooldown, but otherwise you can do whatever. Prime glyphs really offer no customization... pick those 3 because they're the only ones that are of any use in bear form. Major glyphs are a bit more tricky. Maul is a definite must-have. Rebirth is damn nice if you actually get a chance to USE that ability... the 3rd major glyph I used is Frenzied Rengeration. I would rather hang on to my own rage stockpile and have my healer's heals hit harder (unintentional alliteration for the win?), than not be able to keep threat because I was suddenly rage-starved and had more health... your mileage may vary.

Now before you queue up to tank anything in Cataclsym, there's one thing you should do first.Hit... level... 81. Honestly, whoever decided that bears should only have 1 real AOE ability before 81 should be forced to tank Blackrock Caverns and Throne of the Tides at level 80 until they renege... but I digress. Seriously, do yourself a favor and wait till level 81 before even thinking about tanking. Thrash really does make THAT MUCH DIFFERENCE in your ability to tank.

The second thing you want to do is familiarize yourself with your damaging abilities and your offensive/defensive cooldowns. Unlike most times in 70-80 dungeons, you should be ready to use your cooldowns a lot. Especially once you hit 85 and start looking towards heroics, but that's jumping the gun a bit. I'm going to give a brief rundown of your major abilities, and when you should use them.

Swipe - Low rage cost, low damage, moderate aggro. 6 second cooldown. 360 degree swipe, no target limit. Use judiciously when out of range of CC'd targets (8 yard range)
Thrash - High rage cost, moderate damage + bleed, moderate aggro. 6 second cooldown. Also 360 degree swipe w/no target limit. Best used in conjunction with swipe to ensure solid aggro on groups. (8 yard range)
Demoralizing Roar - Very low rage cost, does no damage, and thus does very little threat as well. Best used in larger groups to reduce the damage you take. Lasts for 30 seconds.
Challenging Roar - Low rage cost, long cooldown (3 minutes baseline, minor glyph reduces by 30s), produces no actual threat, just force-focuses* target's on you for 6 seconds. This is a sort of extreme situational use with patrols and unexpected adds.

Single target -
Mangle - Low rage cost, very high damage, very high aggro, 6 second cooldown. Your bread and butter single target ability. This should forever be on cooldown.
Lacerate - Low rage cost, low/moderate damage + very low damage bleed, no cooldown. Stacks 3 times. Your main filler ability. This has no cooldown other than the GCD, so use it often. It's also a good idea to tab target and lacerate mobs on groups in between swipe/thrash cooldowns. A nice way to keep extra threat, as well as proc rage-free mangles (which i'll get to in a bit)
Pulverize - Low rage cost, moderate/high damage, moderate/high aggro, no cooldown. New ability as of 4.0. Consumes lacerate stacks to increase your crit chance 3% per stack for 10 seconds. For single target boss-type encounters, this is an amazing ability for you. More crits = more Leader of the Pack heals, and more Savage Defense shields, and it does a good bit of damage to boot. I personally use this as soon as my Lacerate is stacked to 3 on bosses because, usually, by that time the buff is about to wear off.
Maul - High rage cost, moderate damage, moderate aggro, 3 second cooldown. Maul is no longer the king of the road that it used to be. I listed it as a single target ability because, baseline, it is. It can be glyphed to hit a 2nd target for 50% damage, and you definitely SHOULD do so, but generally you won't use it much in multi-target situations. This is your excess rage-bleeder ability more than anything else. It's off the GCD so throw it in anytime you're sitting above ~60 rage.
Faerie Fire - No rage cost, low damage, low/moderate aggro, 6 second cooldown. This is one of your only ranged abilities, and gives the target a debuff reducing their armor by 4% per stack (up to 3 stacks). Great way to make line of sight pulls, or tag a target who might be casting off in the distance. This can be talented to instantly stack 3x with one application.
Skull Bash - Low rage cost, zero damage, 1-minute cooldown, unsure of aggro generation but it's a spell interrupt off the GCD! /cheer. Druids have been aching for an actual non-stunning interrupt for who knows how long... 4.0 delivered with this blessed ability, talented down to a 10-second cooldown... there's nothing negative I can say about it. Oh... did I mention it charges too?
Charge - Very low rage cost, zero damage, zero threat generation, immobilizes mob for 4 seconds, 15 second cooldown. Nice way to get a "runs away in fear", or to get a mob chasing after your healer awfully quick. 30 second cooldown is... annoying at times, but more than fair as you shouldn't have to use it TOO much in-combat. This no longer interrupts spell casting like it used to, but we have skull bash for that now.
Bash - Low rage cost, zero damage, unsure of threat generation, 1 minute cooldown (talented to 50 second cooldown). Stuns a mob for 4 (talented up to 5) seconds. Decent secondary spell interrupt, and last-resort crowd control. I believe I remember reading that it would still interrupt a stun-immune mob, but don't quote me on that.
Growl - No rage cost, no damage, taunt* mechanic. Be sure to actually hit a mob after taunting him, or they'll just turn around again.

*I should clarify the difference between a taunt mechanic and a forced-focus briefly. Challenging Roar forces the target(s) to focus on you, but does absolutely nothing to the threat table. If you don't hit them in that 6 second time span, they'll go back to whomever they were looking at before. Growl on the other hand is an actual taunt. It will put your name on top of the aggro list just above whomever had current aggro.

Cooldowns - (both offensive, defensive, and otherwise)
Frenzied Regeneration - 3 minute cooldown. Baseline, it increases health by 30%, and converts 10 rage/second into health for 20 seconds. Glyphed, instead of converting your rage into health, it increases the effectiveness of all heals on you by 30%. I personally went with the glyph, because I like keeping my rage to actually generate threat on the mob(s). Feel free to try it either way and see which you prefer though.
Survival Instincts - 3 minute cooldown. Reduces damage taken by 50% for 12s. Basic shield wall like all classes have now.
Barkskin - 1 minute cooldown. Reduces damage taken by 20% for 10s. This should be used OFTEN. 20% makes a huge difference... and at a 1 minute cooldown, can you really afford to NOT use this all the goddamn time?
Enrage - 1 minute cooldown. Instantly gives 20 rage (talented to 32), and generates 10 more over 10s. Best used in between pulls, but you need to be careful as this makes you take 10% MORE physical damage while it's active.
Berserk - 3 minute cooldown. When I mentioned "otherwise" under the cooldowns part, I was referring to this. This is an offensive cooldown, with an added benefit of a random proc when you don't use it. When lacerate deals damage to a mob, it has a chance to refresh the cooldown of mangle, and make it rage free... that's a berserk proc. But, when you USE berserk, it makes your mangle have no cooldown, and it also makes it a 3-person cleave for 15 (glyphed to 20) seconds. Great way for insanely high threat at the start of a fight.

Take a minute and go to some older, yet semi-challenging content, to play around with your abilities and get a feel for how your cooldowns work. Perfect place to do that would be BC dungeons. Go try and solo Hellfire Ramparts or Sethekk Halls... or if you're up for a challenge, try turning them up to heroic, provided you have the respective keys. I've found that soloing these have given me a real great way to learn what kind of damage I can handle, when to pop my cooldowns, how much healing I can take from Leader of the Pack, and what kind of mechanics to learn to watch out for... maybe that's just me though.

Next thing I want to look at is gear. I'm hardly a theorycrafting expert, and ElitistJerks tends to make my head hurt when I go read through it, but this is basically how I feel about gear right now.
Agility and Stamina are king... Strength also gives us 2 AP per 1 point, but strength gear is generally saved for plate wearers. Parry is a useless stat for us so try to avoid it, unless the piece is SUCH a significant upgrade as outweigh useless stats... AND unless no one else really wants it. Poorly itemized upgrades for you do not give you priority over someone's offspec... please don't be a dick about your gear.
As far as "green stats" go, I don't have specific weights, but I figure it will be something on the order of: Dodge >= Mastery > Hit/Expertise > Crit > Haste
Other stats like resilience or parry give us zero benefit from a tanking perspective, so they have very little business being on any gear we pick up.

There has been discussion in some camps about taking Strength items with dodge rating (cloaks, rings, and necklaces primarily), but this will still end up coming farther behind taking an agility item without dodge rating. Here are a couple images to prove my point... taken with my very own bear, completely unbuffed, in bear form.

Now, as you can see in the first image, I picked up a strength ring with dodge rating on it, and in the second shot I have an agility ring with no dodge rating. Both rings are the same item level... they even came from the same reputation faction, so they're even budgeted comparably. Yet, the agility one comes out with more dodge, and it can even be reforged with the excess hit rating into more dodge rating. So unless the item is a MAJOR upgrade for you, then there's no reason to pick strength items over agility items.

Now that you've got a basic handle on your abilities and what they do, grabbed yourself some gear to work with... and you've made it to at least level 81 (you HAVE made it to 81, haven't you?) it's time... Press that random dungeon finder! Better yet, ask some guildies if they want to run with you. Guildies tend to be a lot more forgiving if they know you're just learning.

"Your dungeon group has been found!" /flail OGAWD WHAT DO I DO!
Well... Part two will get into that! I'm breaking this up for the sake of walls of text critting you for 800 million overkill.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Trinkets yes, pretty trinkets! (BRAWWK-K!!)

Pre raiding trinkets are something i've been REALLY hesitant to mention up to this point. Now that my druid is level 85 (2nd in my guild... not to bad in my opinion) i've found myself in a position where I need to start looking seriously at trinkets I can grab.

Problem is, they're pretty damn scant. Any of you who tanked in Wrath... feel free to sigh and nod knowingly. So, without further ado...

Be warned, unlike my previous lists, I included profession-specific ones here.

[Heart of Thunder] Static Armor, with a Battlemaster-style on use health increase. Never been a fan of tanks using battlemaster trinkets, but the armor is quite nice. This is actually the one that I picked up earlier from Heroic Vortex Pinnacle.

[Leaden Despair] Your standard high stamina tanking trinket, with a nice little proc when you get below 35% health. I will be farming for this one as a backup. It drops from Heroic Stonecore.

[Porcelain Crab] A great passive dodge increase (4.37% at level 85) makes this worthwhile by itself, but the added benefit of proccing a HUGE mastery bonus is amazing. I am curious what the up-time on that proc is, because it could raise or lower the value of this trinket pretty dramatically. Drops from Heroic Throne of the Tides.

[Darkmoon Card: Earthquake] Unless you literally have money BURNING HOLES in your bank alt's bank account, you probably won't be coming across this anytime soon... and honestly, I don't feel it's worth the monetary cost it'll inevitably generate. Dodge (albeit a nice amount of dodge) and a battlemaster's health increase? It seems a bit underbudget for an ilvl 359 epic.

[Figurine: Earthen Guardian] Jewelcrafting only. If you're a JC, there's absolutely no reason you should bypass this. A large stam bonus, plus a huge on-use dodge cooldown... Amazing, and possibly even overbudget for an i346 blue.

[Lifebound Alchemist Stone] Alchemy only. A large amount of stam, a blue gem socket, and a great mastery increase??? If you're an alchemist bear, there's no reason to bypass this. Truly fits the i359 epic.

Welps.... that's really all there is. There are a lot of other....iffy trinkets bears could take with obscene amounts of agility and mastery... and I guess to a point it's really situational. I think taking legit tanking trinkets would be far more benefit in the long run, because heroics are [b]scary[/b] right now... I can only imagine what raids are going to be like.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

In which I don't just put my foot in my mouth...

I inhaled the entire damn thing.

So... you may've noticed me rampaging like a madman earlier. Yeah, I kinda went off on twitter, I went off in my blog... and that's what it's here for, but I still think I over did it.

I played my paladin for a couple hours, got her up to 81 and then while doing some more questing I ran into an asshole who just kept corpse camping me... fuck that, I logged back into my druid. Deepholm is a REALLY fun zone by the way. Amazing for herbing as well... holy crap I found a ton of herbs there. Anyway... I decided "what the hell.. My druid's farther along than my pally.. Might as well take him to 85 first... and if i'm gonna do that, i'm going to see if maybe there is something that *I'M* doing wrong"...

/g Anybody want to do a dungeon?

5 minutes later i'm in a group full of guildies, and off we go... Throne of the Tides. Hrmm... I think I remember how this goes. (hops in vent anyway... none of the people I was queued with are in there, but others are so whatevs)
(~30 minutes later) Well shit... that was smooth. What the hell was I doing differently? Hrmm...
warlock in party: Wanna do BRC? There's a something in there I want.
me: Sure why not.

(another ~30 minutes later) Fuck.. that was clean. What the hell's different?
*queue up vent* PANZERKIN! I'm not running dungeons with you anymore. You're too much of an aggro whore.
panzerkin (in vent): Yeah.. probably. What makes you say that?
me: Cause I just did 2 dungeons with other guildies and had almost ZERO AGGRO ISSUES YOU MOONKIN WHORE.
panzerkin: Heh.. Yeah... It could be just me.

*Cue me second guessing my rant from earlier while I go back to questing in Deepholm*
(hour-ish? later) Another guildie whisperes me: "You done Stonecore yet?"
me: "Yep"
him: "Want to go again? They have (some other item) I kinda want."
me: "Sure... see who else in guild wants to go"
(2o minutes later group is put together.... 45 minutes after THAT we're done)

Well fuck.. Yeah I lost aggro a couple times, but I didn't feel like the helpless little scrub-sauce I was this morning. I had to work harder than I am used to, and I had to pay a lot more attention... but it really wasn't too bad.

So yeah. Anyone I might've offended or acted overly snarky towards on twitter... if you're reading this, I apologize. Bears might need a little help... but I think I needed more help this morning. I needed to take more control of the DPS and, I needed to take more control of how I was tanking. I'm a good tank, but there's still a lot of that WotLK mindset rampaging around in my brain... need to work on that, but I think i'm on my way.

Now, if you'll excuse me, there's a size-12 I need to remove from my esophogus.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Rage Against the Fuzzy Machine

I'm mad as hell.


Because druid tanks are fucking BROKEN right now.


Let me give you a little clue.

I've done... I levelled my bear to 82. I refused to tank anything with him until 81 because of the nerf to swipe's damage, thinking that Thrash would at least put all right with the world. Dinged 81, got a guild group together to do the first couple dungeons I could find... Throne of the Tides and Blackrock Caverns.

First off.. holy shit these dungeons are AMAZING. Secondly... THRASH IS ALMOST AS FUCKING USELESS AS SWIPE RIGHT NOW.

It hits each target for around 600, and ticks for another ~500 every couple seconds for 6 seconds.


(Okay Chris... breathe... breathe.........)

Sorry for the disjointed paragraph structure, but I feel the need to emphasize my points more. While my survivability wasn't hit, nor was my threat output on boss mobs, my ability to control TRASH mobs is borderline non-existant. Give you a hint? I'm losing mobs to HEALER AGGRO..

That's right folks. My fellow officer, and AMAZING disc priest buddy is pulling aggro off of my fuzzy broken bear ass.

WHAT... THE... FUCK???

I'm extremely saddened and angry about this. I am legitimately SO mad that i'm transferring a level 80 pally over to level instead of my druid until they can fix goddamn druid tanks. I feel THAT ineffectual right now on trash packs. That's only half the problem. The other half? I genuinely LOVE my druid. He's the closest i've felt to a REAL main since my mage was retired in after Ulduar. I also LOVE tanking. I should NOT have to roll another class JUST to be able to tank 5-mans properly. That shit was supposed to have been put to bed sometime in Burning Crusade.

And another part of me is REALLY pissed that I paid $25 to race change my druid to a worgen, JUST to have him become a borderline-unusable tank.

On an up-note, Cataclysm is fucking AMAZING, and if it weren't for broken druids, I think I would be popping the question any day now.

Dear Blizzard:
Fix bears... Druids, in general, are a very fiercely loyal breed to their class, and I hate feeling like I can't do what the fuck I want to do because you made us WAY too powerful for a few weeks, and then overcorrected. I know you'll probably fix it in the future as more and more people continue bitching, but it's really quite painful to tank right now.

No love,
Broken-hearted bear fan.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Level 85 gear, for the raid-minded bear.

So, you want to raid on your bear. Well, as you may or may not have seen, I did a list of gear to look for before getting into tanking heroic dungeons. By no means is it completely comprehensive, or a strict baseline of what you NEED TO HAVE before bearing it up in heroics. The same goes for the post to come. It's not 100%, it's not a step by step MUST HAVE THIS OMG OR YOU CAN'T RAID. I'm no Elitist Jerks... and I can't tell you the stat weights and priorities from memory of what we need and when to judge crit over mastery or vice versa.

Here's what I can tell you from my personal experience with bears:
Agility and Stamina are king. I don't think anyone will ever dispute that really.
We need 961 (rounded up) hit rating to be 8% hit capped.
We need 781 (rounded up) expertise to be dodge-capped.
Parry cap is 1682 expertise, so I wouldn't even worry about that.
Hit and Expertise are our biggest threat stats. Do we necessarily have to be capped? Not... necessarily, but we're probably gimping our threat generation the farther from it we are.
Our Mastery is FUCKING AMAZING, even after the nerf. We should probably devour it up. I have no theory to back it up, but I would even suggest reforging all haste into mastery once we're close to the hit/expertise levels we need.
Our Mastery ALSO only procs off of crits so crit rating is going to matter to a point as well.

This list is all heroic dungeon level items or higher (such as crafted/reputation items). You will see a little overlap from my previous list, but only because of item level. I'm also ignoring any resilience gear, as it's generally not as good for raiding as it's item level belies.

This list is set up very similarly to the last one, with a couple additions. After I name an item, i'll list where it's procured from, and it's "green stats". Mastery, haste, crit, hit, expertise are all green stats. All of these items generally have 2 of them in some combination, so it is up to you to decide which ones would be more beneficial to your bear, based on the gear you already have. And so, with that out of the way, on to the list!

Helm of Numberless Shadows - Heroic Stonecore (Hit/Crit)
Mask of Vines - 2,200 Justice Points (Crit/Haste)

Caridean Epaulets - Heroic Throne of the Tides (Expertise/Haste)
Embrace of the Night - 1,650 Justice Ppoints (Crit/Hit)
Thieving Spaulders - Heroic Shadowfang Keep (Crit/Haste)

Kaleki Cloak - Heroic List City of Tol'vir (Mastery/Hit)
Cloak of Thredd - Heroic Deadmines (Mastery/Crit)
Razor-Edged Cloak - Leatherworking (Mastery/Crit)
Cape of the Brotherhood - Heroic Deadmines (Haste/Hit)
Softwind Cape - Earthen Ring - Revered (Haste/Hit)
Twitching Shadows - Heroic Blackrock Caverns (Crit/Haste)

Chest (There is an epic, ilvl 359 item in here, but don't let the purple fool you)
Vest of Misshapen Hides - Heroic Grim Batol (Mastery/Crit)
Defias Brotherhood Vest - Heroic Deadmines (Mastery/Haste)
Hieroglyphic Vest - Heroic Halls of Origination (Crit/Haste)
Tunic of Shifting Envy - 2,200 Justice Points (Crit/Hit)
Assassin's Chestplate - Leatherworking (Crit/Hit) No gem sockets

Double Dealing Bracers - Heroic Shadowfang Keep (Mastery/Crit)
Poison Fang Bracers - Heroic Halls of Origination (Haste/Hit)

Sticky Fingers - 1,650 Justice Points (Mastery/Haste)
Gloves Of Haze - Heroic Vortex Pinnacle (Mastery/Crit)
Liar's Handwraps / Stormbolt Gloves - Dragonmaw Clan (H)/Wildhammer Clan (A): Exalted (Crit/Haste)

Sash of Musing - 1,650 Justice Points (Expertise/Mastery)
Quicksand Belt - Rankahen - Revered (Crit/Hit)
Red Beam Cord - Heroic Halls of Origination (Crit/Haste)
Belt of a Thousand Mouths - ?????? (Crit/Haste) No gem socket
Belt of Nefarious Whispers - Leatherworking (Mastery/Hit) No gem socket

Leggings of the Burrowing Mole - 2,200 Justice Points (Mastery/Expertise)
Beauty's Chew Toy - Heroic Blackrock Caverns (Haste/Hit)

Crafty's Gaiters - Heroic Lost City of Tol'vir (Mastery/Haste)
VanCleef's Boots - Heroic Deadmines (Mastery/Haste)
Boots of the Predator - Heroic Shadowfang Keep (Crit/Hit)

(I decided, what the hell, and went ahead to include jewelry/weapons/relics. NOTHING in here should be Profession Specific)
Brazen Elementium Medallion - Jewelcrafting (Crit/Haste)
Entwined Elementium Choker - Jewelcrafting (Crit/Haste)
Pendant of the Lightless Grotto - Heroic Stonecore (Crit/Mastery) no socket
Mouth of the Earth - Heroic Halls of Origination (Hit/Expertise) no socket
Barnacle Pendant - Heroic Throne of Tides (Haste/Expertise) no socket
Acorn of the Daughter Tree - Guardians of Hyjal: Revered (Crit/Haste) no socket
Amulet of Dull Dreaming - 1,250 Justice Points (Crit/Haste) no socket

Band of Blades - Jewelcrafting (Crit/Hit)
Elementium Destroyer's Ring - Jewelcrafting (Mastery/Crit)
Skullcracker Ring - Heroic Blackrock Caverns (Crit/Haste) no socket
Terrath's Signet of Balance - Therazane: Revered (Mastery/Hit) no socket
Ring of Blinding Stars - Heroic Halls of Origination (Mastery/Haste) no socket
Ring of Dun Algaz - Heroic Grim Batol (Crit/Hit) no socket
Nautilus Ring - ?????? (Crit/Haste) no socket
Mirage Ring - Heroic Lost City of Tol'Vir (Haste/Hit) no socket
Signet of the Elder Council - Earthen Ring: Exalted (Haste/Mastery) no socket

Relic (Cata is introducing a NOVEL idea of craftable fucking relics... WIN!!!!)
Relic of Arathor - Heroic Shadowfang Keep (Crit/Haste)
Sandshift Relic - Heroic Blackrock Caverns (Crit/Hit)
Silver Inlaid Leaf - Inscription (Crit/Haste)

Weapons (I only went with 2handed weapons, because that's what a druid should fucking use IMO)
Seliza's Spear - Heroic Lost City of Tol'vir (Mastery/Crit)
Elementium Poleaxe - Blacksmithing (Mastery/Crit)
Darkling Staff - Heroic Stonecore (Hit/Mastery)
Mobus' Vile Halberd - Mobus - World raid boss in Vashj'ir. (Haste/Mastery)
Berto's Staff - Heroic Blackrock Caverns (Crit/Haste)
Spear of Trailing Shadows - Baradin's Wardens (A)/Hellscream's Reach (H): Revered (Hit/Haste)

You'll notice I didn't include Trinkets in this list... there's a wee bit of laziness in that, on my end, so I apologize for that. The main problem with trinkets is that some of them provide substantial bonuses (agility stacks, large on-use mastery bonuses, etc) that without knowing a bit more about proc rates, uptimes, and stat-weights I can't make very well informed decisions about trinkets. Sorry about that folks! Hope the rest of this list is very useful to you, and again if you have questions/comments/disputes about anything I listed, feel free to comment!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

How to gear your bear @ 85

What is this? Another USEFUL post? God forbid. Well, I figured somewhere in the midst of my "20 days of WoW" challenges, I would throw a nugget of genuinely helpful information... so to Wowhead I went... with lots of items to sort through, and a profiler that refuses to show stats for level 85.... blah. Anyway, here goes. All of these items are acquired either by reputation, crafting, normal mode dungeons, or Justice points... No heroics required (necessarily) for these.

I should note that I am going to leave out jewelry (rings, necks, trinkets) and the idol. Jewelry is going to be bizarre to come across, and idols... well, I assume there won't be many to come across between 80 and 85, so on to the armor...

Here's the basic rundown. I name a slot, and show the items that i've found fit best in that slot pre-heroic dungeons via Wowhead's item comparison. I included JP purchasable items under the assumption that doing a random normal mode dungeon once daily will still net you some JP the first time you do them. All of these items are blue quality, because Blizzard is doing what they can to make epic level items feel much more significant than they did in Wrath (which is perfectly fine by me).

You'll notice a significant number of options are from the Bloodied Leather crafted set. Not unlike the Eviscerator's set before it, these provide a decent set of stats, and are relatively easily obtainable, but are usually missing a crucial stat such as hit, expertise, or mastery, and instead replace them with Resilience. Sadly, resilience is a garbage stat since we get crit-immunity through talents.

I won't go into great lengths to tell you which stats you need, and which to prioritize over others because I will assume that if you're here, you have a basic idea of how things work. Agility, Stamina, Hit, Expertise, Mastery, Crit are our key stats. Haste isn't bad, but I would never prioritize it over the others.

You may notice on a couple items (mainly the cloaks) that they have strength instead of agility. The reason for this is.... a bit complicated, as Blizzard has said that they want non-plate wearers to go for agility for their AP. The problem is that gear with tanking stats (such as dodge) don't come on items with agility. Will the agility we have give us enough dodge, or will we have to dip into "plate" tanking cloaks/rings/necks? Not entirely sure just yet... I will require some field test to follow up for certain. Anyway, enough rambling... on with the list!

Here is your item comparison.
[Dunwald Winged Helm] and [Shocktrooper Hood] are the same item, only Alliance/Horde (respectively) quest rewards from the Twilight Highlands.
[Bloodied Leather Helm] is a part of the level 85 crafted leatherworking set. It's a starter pvp set, very similar to the Eviscerator's set that could be made at used at level 78.
[Mask of Vines] is purchased for 2,200 justice points.

Here is your item comparison.
[Clandestine Spaulders] drop from the normal mode Lost City of Tol'vir dungeon.
[Bloodied Leather Shoulders] are a part of the same leatherworking set I mentioned earlier.
[Embrace of the Night] is purhcased for 1,650 justice points.

Here is your item comparison.
[Heiroglyphic Vest] drops from the normal mode Halls of Origination.
[Bloodied Leather Chest] yeah, it's bloodied.. leatherworking... yadda yadda.
[Tunic of Sinking Envy] 2,200 justice points.

Here is your item comparison.
[Shade of Death] uhm.... I have no idea where this comes form.. weird.
[Razor-Edged Cloak] is made from Leatherworking.
[Twilight Dragonscale Cloak] is also made from Leatherworking.

Here is your item comparison.
[Poison Fang Bracers] drop from normal mode Halls of Origination.
[Bloodied Leather Bracers] more pvp leatherworking gear.

Here is your comparison.
[Bloodied Leather Gloves] bloodied... I think you get the pattern by now.
[Sticky Fingers] bought with 1,650 justice points.

Here is your item comparison.
[Red Beam Cord] is dropped out of the normal mode Halls of Origination.
[Bloodied Leather Belt]
[Sash of Musing] is bought with 1,650 justice points.
[Belt of a Thousand Mouths] there's no location given for this item.

Here is your item comparison.
[Garona's Finest Leggings] and [Shaw's Finest Leggings] are horde/alliance (respective) quest rewards from Twilight Highlands.
[Bloodied Leather Leggings] second verse, same as the first.
[Leggings of the Burrowing Mole] 2,200 justice points.

Here is your item comparison.
[Crafty's Gaiters] drop from the Lost City of Tol'vir.
[Bloodied Leather Boots] bloody leatherworkers are going to clean up with up and coming feral druids.

Holy hell that's a lot of stuff, and it's not even ALL of our slots. Feel free to add, question, or dispute any of my choices in the comments. I am always willing to help people out with learning to bear-butt :D

Friday, December 3, 2010

20 Days of World of Warcraft - Day 7

Day 7, not even a full 12 hours after days 5 and 6 came out... go figure eh? Anyway...

Day 7 - Favorite companion non-combat pet?

Blah. I'm not much of a pet collector. It just isn't my thing really. That being said, if I were made of money, I would buy Moonkin pets for everyone I know because the money goes to charity. If the Lil Ragnaros pet's money went to charity, i'd have that too... Bravo for Blizzard donating money to the Make A Wish foundation. Kudos to that.

On a side note, *Stands In Bad* officially sunsetted their raiding schedule for at least the next month to prepare for Cataclysm... well, not so much prepare for it as today's the last fucking raid lockout before launch, but I digress.

My guild went into Icecrown Citadel, Ruby Sanctum, and Obsidian Sanctum (3 drakes up), over the course of 2 days and just mercilessly destroyed everything. I managed to miss out on the drake from OS3D, yet again... Professor Putricide refused to give me his trinket, yet again... and in spite of that, it was a great time. It was our first time to go into ICC in probably 6 weeks, and it was a lot of fun to go in and just wreck the place. It really gave a feeling of a sense of completion, as well as offered a couple people their Kingslayer titles. One person was a new guildie, and another was a person who just never raided with us that much.

Anyway... Hats off to you, Wrath of the Lich King. Some real fun times were had within your 25 month time span, but it is time to move on... A bit of a bittersweet feeling, really.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

20 Days of World of Warcraft - Days 5 & 6

Crap, I missed wednesday... stupid sinus cold. Oh well. Here's day 5 and 6 together, because 5 is SO short of an answer.

What is the meaning behind your main's name?

Funnily enough, there is absolutely no meaning behind just about any of my toon's names. I just keep hitting randomize until I see something I like. If it's taken, i'll alter it a letter or so while still keeping the same pronunciation.

What is your favorite dungeon, and why?

Wow.. That's a REALLY steep question. There are so many good dungeons and there are so many dungeons I simply wish would bathe in fire... but I digress. My favorite one... right now I think that's a tossup between Deadmines and Magister's Terrace. For lore purposes and such, Deadmines is just amazing. Especially with the overhaul and changes to the dungeon. (I won't spoil it, but if you've not been since the Shattering happened, I STRONGLY suggest doing the quests in Westfall and then going to check it out). But for lore purposes Magister's Terrace is also simply spectacular... even if you overlook the birth of "...just a setback" being there. The dungeons are difficult and long without being game-breakingly annoying. They have the ability to wipe any (at level) group who isn't careful enough. The bosses are very well done, challenging, but still FUN.

I honestly don't think I could pick between the two. Aesthetically, Magister's Terrace wins. For story, Deadmines takes it home. I'm calling an even split between the two of them, personally.