Thursday, July 29, 2010

An Open Letter

Dear Insight Communications,

Normally you provide me with excellent internet service.

But when it dies right in the middle of the Dreamwalker fight we still don't have quite to farm status yet, it makes me want to wish your company would die in a fire.

Yours truly,


Edit: In case anyone is assuming I am making a threat, I am doing no such thing, and I understand that outages happen, I am merely expressing frustration and displeasure at the inconvenient (to me) timing of the most recent outage experienced at my house.  I am not stupid enough to make threats on the internet.

Friday, July 23, 2010


a.k.a. That Stupid Green Dragon, redux.

Inevitably, I post things that are innacurate.

My last post went up early this past Thursday morning at its predetermined time.  I tend to use Blogger's post options to set posts to appear a day or two after I write them to give me time to reread and edit them should I find errors or sections that I feel have been written poorly.

An unfortunate consequence of this is that when I post things like status updates about my guild's raids, if I write them early in the week and set them to post Wednesday or Thursday morning, it means that my guild has a chance to prove me wrong.

Such it is that now (Thursday morning as I write this, mere minutes after my previous post went up,) we are no longer stumbling over that stupid green dragon.

The fact is not lost on me that the Strength of Wrynn buff now stands at 30%, which makes several of the fights we would probably STILL be on the edge of beating go from difficult but beatable to laughably easy.  One comment that came over vent on Tuesday after we downed Saurfang was, 'remember when this guy was HARD?'  It would still be incredibly difficult if we didn't have that buff, I think.  It has, IMO, kind of reached the level of insanity, though.  I popped Survival Instincts and cracked 116k HP.  One hundred sixteen thousand.

Not that I'm really complaining... if it allows us to see content that we would otherwise not be able to even attempt, I'm all for it.

Back to the dragon.  We went again with a 4-tank setup with 6 healers, 3 of whom went the portals every time and 3 of whom did not.  My little corner of the room had relatively few spawns until the end, and most of them that weren't Suppressors were zombies, so I spent a lot of my time being an agile little angry bear and running around trying not to get too many stacks of Corrosion until the DPS could take care of the zombie.  We wiped once due to the DPS curve, and then healed her just as things were starting to get out of hand again.

PROGRESS feels so great.

We moved on to try Putricide instead of the Blood Queen, and while we did get better in general through the night we were unable to succeed in the kill.  We seem to be still on the curve of success in the DPS department, and one DPS falling over to an orange slime (Gas Cloud?) or green slime (Volatile Ooze?) kills us in the long run because we can't continue to get them down fast enough to keep damage up on Putricide himself.  But much like Blood Queen, we were getting better, and I think that in a few week we'll be working on Sindy.

We have now completed every boss but the main wing bosses (Putricide, Blood Queen, Sindragosa) and the Lich King himself.


Edit: and this was not supposed to go live until tomorrow morning, but I clicked "Publish" before I set the time.  I am a Fail Blogger.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

That Stupid Green Dragon

So in the absence of one of our progression tanks I've had quite a few opportunities over the past month or so to tank on our progression runs.  Whatever our leadership had decided was holding me back from at least being a fill-in for our progression tanks has at least to a certain extent been abated, and as near as I can tell, we have our 3 main progression tanks and the 4th (fill-in) spot is run by 3-player committee based on who is available for the run and which role each of them prefers.  The short version is that with one of our tanks just now returning from a bit of a hiatus, I've had a lot of chances to do that thing I do.

It's been a heck of a lot of fun.

EA has progressed to the point where we almost always 1-shot the first 6 bosses in ICC (through Saurfang plus Festergut and Rotface), and we've got the Blood Princes down to two shots, max.

I like the Blood Prince fight.  There's a lot of insanity going on, but for the most part it's survivable insanity, as long as you are at least mildly situationally aware.  I've only had the opportunity to tank the fight once, and I had Keleseth (or Taldaram... whichever one is not the one that requires you to run around collecting balloons... on second thought I *think* it's Taldaram) for the duration.  Tanking that prince is a piece of cake.  I've also had the opportunity to DPS it a time or two, and it's a bit rough on feral DPS, but it's still fun.  Feral Charge comes in handy for target switching.

The past couple of weeks we've taken a couple shots at Putricide and Blood Queen.  Putricide was insanity, but we only tried him once or twice.  Blood Queen is fun - I think we'll get her in a week or two with a few more upgrades and a bit of patience and another couple times to figure out how all that biting stuff works.

We are, however, still stumbling over healing the Dreamwalker, which we've been putting the most work into over the past month and a half or so.  We've tried going healer-heavy (which failed miserably), we've tried taking in a 2-tank team with normal healer count (which did even worse), and I think we've finally settled on a plan we believe will work - she was healed to 91% on our best attempt.

We went light 1 healer (bringing 6), and went with four tanks, one specifically for each doorway.  The added tanks gives us better control over the adds as well as the opportunity to have a little extra time to handle adds because they're beating on a tank instead of DPS or heals.  We are *slightly* slower downing the adds, but since we have the extra tanks it's not quite as big a deal.  It does seem to matter more when a DPS dies (as we are more on the edge of the DPS curve for survivability), but it matters a little less for most of the adds to die quite as quickly.  I am hopeful that we'll have this fight down within a couple of weeks as well.

That's the state of EA progression raids.  Hope everything's going well with your guild's raids.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Entry Number Two

I seem to have avoided asshatery in my Random Dungeons, for the most part.  Perhaps it's the times I'm running them, perhaps it's that I typically run with 1-3 guildmates, or perhaps it's my sunny disposition, but typically the worst I've had to deal with is people that are a little slightly overeager and are willing to slow down if they die once or twice.

Saturday, however, I was running a random and apparently found the Worst Rogue Ever (tm).

I was running with no guild members this day and got dropped into a fresh Nexus run - piece of cake, right? ... Right?  Oh the immortal Warning Signs.... before we've even really had time to buff, the rogue is running off saying "go go go!"

We progressed through the Horde Commander and up the tunnel towards Ms. Many-of-Me-Deal-With-It.  The rogue was generally being annoying, pushing the limits of idiocy that I allow in groups I tank for.  Once he pulled while we were still fighting a group (I think/assume, I was busy tanking and didn't see who pulled) but it wasn't an issue due to the rest of the group.  He attacked the last frozen enemy well before I was even in the area.  Since he did this quite deliberately, I skipped my typical warning and went right to "you pull it, you tank it" mode... which didn't matter because he essentially stun-locked it until it died.

We cleared the group at the top of the tunnel, and I used FFF to pull the group from inside the boss's room... shortly after which, the rogue aggro'd the two groups on the far side of the room that no group has killed since it was realized that you don't have to.  Unfortunately, the idiot rogue got them over towards us and then Vanished... and people took a LOT of damage (including one dead DPS) before I realized what had happened and Swiped.  The rogue died shortly thereafter (thankfully) but the healer was a bit undergeared... and combine that with myself trying to get used to a new unit frames addon (Shadowed UF) and I missed my defensive cooldowns and we wiped.

Intensely irritated at this point, but still just wanting to finish the instance, I told the entire group to let the tank (ME!) pull.  The rogue spouted off with something, at which point I pointed out that he was the one who had pulled multiple groups (and to be fair, I think I called him a name which might have vaguely insulted his intelligence).  I found the response back of "NO U!" to be bothersomely childish, so I proceeded to add him to my Ignore list and attempt to continue on.

When we got back in and buffed and ready to proceed, I once again FFF'd the remaining mobs from the boss room.  Watching carefully this time, I saw the rogue go attempt to pull the other two groups... which promptly killed him and returned to their locations.  Oddly determined to continue on this course of action, the other 4 players downed the adds and went after the boss.

Partway through (during her second split), the rogue made it back to us... and pulled those two groups into the room.  I found out at this point, that you cannot vote-kick while (a) in combat or (b) during loot rolls.  More prepared for asshatery at this point, I was able to collect the mobs and keep them under control until the sane members of our DPS crew could down them.... and then we found out that, for reasons unknown, we could not kick this idiot for another 15 minutes.

Determined to press on, we attempted to continue.  When the rogue proved that he intended to continue causing as much disruption as he could (pulling a group and tricks-of-the-trade to the healer!) we backed off a bit and all basically said "BRB 15 mins" and stopped doing anything.

He left after 10, wasting 10 more minutes of our time.

I actually kind of feel sorry for that pally healer; the replacement DPS that came in told him to stop hitting this and worry only about healing and was generally just a butthead - but at least he didn't deliberately try to get us killed.

In any case... Ă…ries of Emerald Dream... you are my Asshat of the Day

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Thoughts on the First Beta Rebuild of Talent Trees

Of course, the first day after I finally post some thoughts about the changes to Cataclysm talent trees, MMO Champion gets ahold of the first pass at redoing the talent trees.

I went over and took a gander at it.  I'm still cautiously optimistic, but the hope that my optimism isn't misplaced has taken a hit.


I understand that this is a first pass, and it's a bit harder for Druids, and feral Druids especially, but oh lord did they rip our trees to shreds.

Blizzard stated one of their goals to be making each choice count while still allowing some flexibility - as I see it, there is very, VERY little flexibility in the Druid trees that are currently in Beta - in fact there are only, give or take, two to three points that can even be in the discussion to move as a Bear tank, and we are forced to take kitty talents to even get to that point... and a big part of the issue is requiring 5 points to get to the next tier each tier... if the requirement were slightly lower (say, 3 points?) it would actually allow us to select the talents we really want as opposed to those we HAVE to take to get to the next tier.  Heck with the way the trees were shown there, you could have the second tier require 3, the third require 7, the fourth require 12, the fifth require 18, and so on, or maybe even just 3/10/15/etc....

Plus... Mangle at Level 10??? Interesting choice... should take a lot of the pain of low-level levelling away...

Blah.  I suck at writing today.  What do you think?

Cataclysm Talent Changes

Likely by now you've already seen the blue post, but just in case you haven't, here it is, along with a link to the source:
When we first announced our design goals for class talent trees back at BlizzCon 2009, one of our major stated focuses was to remove some of the boring and "mandatory" passive talents. We mentioned that we wanted talent choices to feel more flavorful and fun, yet more meaningful at the same time. Recently, we had our fansites release information on work-in-progress talent tree previews for druids, priests, shaman, and rogues. From those previews and via alpha test feedback, a primary response we heard was that these trees didn’t incorporate the original design goals discussed at BlizzCon. This response echoes something we have been feeling internally for some time, namely that the talent tree system has not aged well since we first increased the level cap beyond level 60. In an upcoming beta build, we will unveil bold overhauls of all 30 talent trees.

Talent Tree Vision

One of the basic tenets of Blizzard game design is that of “concentrated coolness.” We’d rather have a simpler design with a lot of depth, than a complicated but shallow design. The goal for Cataclysm remains to remove a lot of the passive (or lame) talents, but we don’t think that’s possible with the current tree size. To resolve this, we're reducing each tree to 31-point talents. With this reduction in tree size we need to make sure they're being purchased along a similar leveling curve, and therefore will also be reducing the number of total talent points and the speed at which they're awarded during the leveling process.

As a result, we can keep the unique talents in each tree, particularly those which provide new spells, abilities or mechanics. We’ll still have room for extra flavorful talents and room for player customization, but we can trim a great deal of fat from each tree. The idea isn’t to give players fewer choices, but to make those choices feel more meaningful. Your rotations won’t change and you won’t lose any cool talents. What will change are all of the filler talents you had to pick up to get to the next fun talent, as well as most talents that required 5 of your hard-earned points.

We are also taking a hard look at many of the mandatory PvP talents, such as spell pushback or mechanic duration reductions. While there will always be PvP vs. PvE builds, we’d like for the difference to be less extreme, so that players don’t feel like they necessarily need to spend their second talent specialization on a PvP build.

The Rise of Specialization

We want to focus the talent trees towards your chosen style of gameplay right away. That first point you spend in a tree should be very meaningful. If you choose Enhancement, we want you to feel like an Enhancement shaman right away, not thirty talent points later. When talent trees are unlocked at level 10, you will be asked to choose your specialization (e.g. whether you want to be an Arms, Fury or Protection warrior) before spending that first point. Making this choice comes with certain benefits, including whatever passive bonuses you need to be effective in that role, and a signature ability that used to be buried deeper in the talent trees. These abilities and bonuses are only available by specializing in a specific tree. Each tree awards its own unique active ability and passives when chosen. The passive bonuses range from flat percentage increases, like a 20% increase to Fire damage for Fire mages or spell range increases for casters, to more interesting passives such as the passive rage regeneration of the former Anger Management talent for Arms warriors, Dual-Wield Specialization for Fury warriors and Combat rogues, or the ability to dual-wield itself for Enhancement shaman.

The initial talent tree selection unlocks active abilities that are core to the chosen role. Our goal is to choose abilities that let the specializations come into their own much earlier than was possible when a specialization-defining talent had to be buried deep enough that other talent trees couldn’t access them. For example, having Lava Lash and Dual-Wield right away lets an Enhancement shaman feel like an Enhancement shaman. Other role-defining examples of abilities players can now get for free at level 10 include Mortal Strike, Bloodthirst, Shield Slam, Mutilate, Shadow Step, Thunderstorm, Earth Shield, Water Elemental, and Penance.

Getting Down to the Grit

Talent trees will have around 20 unique talents instead of today's (roughly) 30 talents, and aesthetically will look a bit more like the original World of Warcraft talent trees. The 31-point talents will generally be the same as the 51-point talents we already had planned for Cataclysm. A lot of the boring or extremely specialized talents have been removed, but we don't want to remove anything that’s going to affect spell/ability rotations. We want to keep overall damage, healing, and survivability roughly the same while providing a lot of the passive bonuses for free based on your specialization choice.

While leveling, you will get 1 talent point about every 2 levels (41 points total at level 85). Our goal is to alternate between gaining a new class spell or ability and gaining a talent point with each level. As another significant change, you will not be able to put points into a different talent tree until you have dedicated 31 talent points to your primary specialization. While leveling, this will be possible at 70. Picking a talent specialization should feel important. To that end, we want to make sure new players understand the significance of reaching the bottom of their specialization tree before gaining the option of spending points in the other trees. We intend to make sure dual-specialization and re-talenting function exactly as they do today so players do not feel locked into their specialization choice.

A True Mastery

The original passive Mastery bonuses players were to receive according to how they spent points in each tree are being replaced by the automatic passive bonuses earned when a tree specialization is chosen. These passives are flat percentages and we no longer intend for them to scale with the number of talent points spent. The Mastery bonus that was unique to each tree will now be derived from the Mastery stat, found on high-level items, and Mastery will be a passive skill learned from class trainers around level 75. In most cases, the Mastery stats will be the same as the tree-unique bonuses we announced earlier this year. These stats can be improved by stacking Mastery Rating found on high-level items.

To Recap

When players reach level 10, they are presented with basic information on the three specializations within their class and are asked to choose one. Then they spend their talent point. The other trees darken and are unavailable until 31 points are spent in the chosen tree. The character is awarded an active ability, and one or more passive bonuses unique to the tree they've chosen. As they gain levels, they'll alternate between receiving a talent point and gaining new skills. They'll have a 31-point tree to work down, with each talent being more integral and exciting than they have been in the past. Once they spend their 31'st point in the final talent (at level 70), the other trees open up and become available to allocate points into from then on. As characters move into the level 78+ areas in Cataclysm, they'll begin seeing items with a new stat, Mastery. Once they learn the Mastery skill from their class trainer they'll receive bonuses from the stat based on the tree they've specialized in.

We understand that these are significant changes and we still have details to solidify. We feel, however, that these changes better fulfill our original class design goals for Cataclysm, and we're confident that they will make for a better gameplay experience. Your constructive feedback is welcomed and appreciated.
I'll go into a little more detail, but while my initial reaction was to the negative, I'm shifting to the cautiously optimistic camp.  Let me explain a little of both...

First, here's my take on the downsides.  Any time you cut something, make it smaller, you remove some element of choice from the equation, and in general that's a bad thing.  They mitigated this to a certain extent, but I'll cover that in the positives.  It seems rather drastic to cut from 51-point trees to 31.  Include the fact that we're gaining 5 levels on the level cap and you're talking about cutting the trees nearly in half.  Then you think about how many talents are generally considered "required" nowadays, and wonder where they are going to replace all that.  It's scary, to say the least, but that's not what worries me the most.  With what they've laid out as their vision and what they want to do with it, I'm confident that it will be ok.  Even locking you in to a tree until you've spent 31 points isn't all bad, while it is slightly annoying.  Finally, they just restructured a lot of the secondary stats and then they're adding Mastery...?  Oh well...

The positive side of these changes is that I think the talent trees will feel less bloated and more streamlined.  As well, yes, it will be easier for new players to understand, and will allow you to be what you want to be right away.  It remains to be seen if you'll get your iconic druid forms right away or if that will come later, but, for example, to have access to Leader of the Pack (or Berserk, or Mangle) at low level will go a long way to helping a feral druid feel... well, FERAL. Rather than having a lot of points that EVERY feral druid takes, whether tank or DPS, we should see many of those abilities built into specializations or mastery, and the remaining points worked down to a manageable level.

To be perfectly honest, the biggest thing that actually does worry me about this change is that it's coming so late in the development of Cataclysm.  I guess this is the reason for Beta tests - to catch these types of issues in addition to code breakage - but I would think this big of a change would be prohibitive this late in the game.  I hope that this doesn't make them rush things, because while I've been salivating over Thrash for a month or two now, I would far rather Cataclysm get pushed out a little bit and have them get things like this RIGHT and balanced rather than rushed, half-done, and broken.

With all that said, I'm looking forward to this.  I never got to play the end-game of Vanilla (or BC either, really, for that matter) and if this does feel a little more like Vanilla, well, it'll be fun to experience it.

Monday, July 12, 2010

On RealID

I guess I'll throw my little hat into the ring.

I'm not going to revisit what has happened - if you're reading me, chances are really, really good that you already know what I'm talking about.  Every blogger under the sun has had their opinion, most in the three days (give or take) before Blizzard backed off.

I hadn't written anything to this point, because, honestly, I didn't have words to describe what I felt, and truthfully, there are several bloggers that have already written pieces that express the ideas better than I ever could.  But I'll try anyway, and hope it does some good, for somebody.

When I first heard about RealID, it was only as a chat functionality upgrade, which I viewed as a neat tool that I might, at some point, take advantage of - purely for my closest real life friends - especially the ones that I expect to be playing quite a bit of Starcraft 2.  But nothing sinister... then came the blue post.

The proposed changes would most likely not have affected me personally.  As a general rule, I don't bother even looking at the official WoW forums except when a blue post is brought to my attention that I really think it might be useful to see.  Since blue posts are generally quoted whole in the places where I find them, the need to see them in the original context is normally unnecessary anyway, and I think I've posted on the forums an entirety of (maybe) one time.

When I first read about the changes as they were explained, my response was relatively indifferent...  I felt that it was a generally idiotic idea, but as I said, it didn't truthfully affect me anyway.  It was only after some (not long) time reflecting that I realized the true gravity of the situation.  It was a terrible idea, one which should not have ever passed beyond the walls of Blizzard's offices.  The fact that it did has damaged the company's reputation amongst the people it values most - its paying customers.

The attempt to force players to use their real names on the official forums showed a shortsightedness by Blizzard with respect to the safety and security of their playerbase.  The interim - however brief - in which they dared to suggest that they would force players to use it but not their own employees (due to SAFETY concerns, no less!) approaches an unacceptable breach of trust, a break from reality in which Blizzard seemed as if they were trying to play puppet master by forcing players to dance on strings that they themselves were not willing to accept.

I personally think the incident with poor Bashiok proved that they were out of touch with the reality of the Internet that allows their business model to function.

That Blizzard recanted their decision has - somewhat - restored faith in them and their commitment to providing their users with a safe and fun game to play.

Unfortunately, as Tesh commented on the BBB's post, the real concern I still have is that while Round 1 apparently goes to the little guys, Blizzard has committed to turning their gaming universe into a social network of sorts, and they will not let a little setback like this prevent them from getting their way - so, the war's not over.

I generally agree with the goals that they were attempting to achieve when they made the decision to move forward with this; it is my sincere hope that when they decide on another course of action to use to clean up the forums, they do a sanity check before they alienate a (relatively) large portion of their playerbase by announcing an idea so idiotic it produced a thread over 2000 pages long.

In the meantime, I'm going back to killing Internet Dragons.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Kae Needs a New PC

Epic Adventurers went after Blood Princes for the first time on 25-man this week, and downed them on the 2nd try.

Unfortunately, I didn't get to see it, because my PC locked up with less than 500k health left to remove.



All we have left is Dreamwalker, Blood Queen, Putricide, Sindy, and the King.

Onward, heroes!

Friday, July 2, 2010

A Primer on Kitty DPS, Part 2 (The Spec and Glyphs)

I can't think of anything funny or witty to open this up with, so... here I go again!

Here is Part 1... refer to that if you're a little confused.

I realize that a lot of this will be useless soon, as Cataclysm will change everything, but hey I'm just late to the party getting in on this.  It will get reworked come Cataclysm.  Besides, I had to get my rant off my (4) readers' feeds.

The Kitty Spec

There used to be a little difference between the best specs for single-target or AOE DPS, but with the changes to Mangle they are close enough together that I'm going to present just one spec...

Just like the Bear Spec, you have a few points in the Resto tree, none at all in Balance, and a ton in Feral.

Restoration Talents

Tier 1

2/2 Improved Mark of the Wild - Increases all your attributes AND makes your buff better?  Can I get a few more points in it?

0/3 Nature's Focus - Resto/Balance Talent.  Ignore.

3/5 Furor - Gets you to the second Tier, and lets you do a little shapeshifting without always losing all your energy.

Tier 2

5/5 Naturalist - 10% damage bonus.  Need I say more?

0/3 Subtlety - Resto/Balance.  Ignore.

3/3 Natural Shapeshifter - Makes shapeshifting cheaper... and lets you get Master Shapeshifter.

Tier 3

0/3 Intensity - Not interesting to cats.  Not really interesting to bears, either, but at least they'd get something out of it.  Next.

1/1 Omen of Clarity - Free stuff is good mmkay?

2/2 Master Shapeshifter - With Natural Shapeshifter, we've spent 5 points to get only a 4% damage bonus (less mana cost is good but meh.)  We spent 5 points to get 10% just a few minutes ago.  What gives?  Well... it's not worth it without spending all 5 points here, and there's nowhere we'd rather spend all 5 points, so here it goes.  And really... it's 4% damage bonus across the board, don't complain.

Feral Talents

Tier 1

5/5 Ferocity - Reduces the Energy cost of some key abilities (with the changes to Mangle, it's most important for Rake and Swipe for cats)

5/5 Feral Aggression - Increases damage done by Ferocious Bite - not very useful except in long raid boss fights, but then it can make a significant difference.

Tier 2

3/3 Feral Instinct - The stealth upgrade is a nice bonus.  30% additional swipe damage is HUGE.  This talent was left off single-target maximized builds before the changes to Mangle.

2/2 Savage Fury - 20% increased damage to Rake and Mangle (and Claw, but... ew.)  So... 20% increased damage to Rake here.  Rake is a fairly large chunk of our DPS.  Take it!

0/3 Thick Hide - Bear talent, safely ignored.

Tier 3

2/2 Feral Swiftness - Not the most key talent, but the increased movement speed really helps get on target faster and stay on target longer during movement-heavy fights.  Increased dodge chance helps survivability as well.

1/1 Survival Instincts - An emergency button for 1 talent point, to help you through those rough patches, worth taking it.

3/3 Sharpened Claws - Static crit chance bonus?  Yes, please!

Tier 4

2/2 Shredding Attacks - Shred is one of your key DPS and combo point regen abilities, so reducing its energy cost by 18 is huge.

3/3 Predatory Strikes - This gives you a bunch of attack power (and can randomly give you an instant-cast nature spell.  While it is rarely to your benefit to cast spells... it might help?  It's here for the huge AP bonus, though.

2/2 Primal Fury - You're going to crit, a LOT.  This gets you free extra combo points when you do.

2/2 Primal Precision - A HUGE chunk of Expertise you don't need on gear is great, and you get refunded if any of your finishing moves fail to land.  Which they shouldn't, but that's another discussion, and sometimes it's unavoidable.

Tier 5

0/2 Brutal Impact - Increasing the stun duration of Pounce is... well it's PvP-focused and if you're going for a PvP spec you might want it... but here it's not really that useful.  Maybe, possibly, if you had free points you wanted to spend, but I'd still spend them elsewhere.

1/1 Feral Charge - Allows invisible-flying-cat-leap and helps in engaging enemies quickly.  Worth 1 point.

0/2 Nurturing Instinct - I'm not really sure how this is useful (maybe PvP for a hybrid heal/cat spec?).

Tier 6

0/3 Natural Reaction - Bear Talent.

5/5 Heart of the Wild - 10% increased attack power... yum...

3/3 Survival of the Fittest - 6% to all attributes?  Awesome!  Oh and cats get to be uncrittable too??  Sweet!

Tier 7

1/1 Leader of the Pack - Static raidwide 5% buff to ranged and melee crit chance is good for 1 point.

0/2 Improved Leader of the Pack - Wouldn't be a terrible choice to put any points you want to move in.  Not great, but not wasted either.

0/3 Primal Tenacity - Not a bad PvP talent, but kinda wasted on a PvE build.

Tier 8

0/3 Protector of the Pack - You are not a bear.  Bad kitty.

3/3 Predatory Instincts - Damage from Melee crits increased 10%.  Not too shabby, and a reduction to damage from AOE effects to boot.

0/3 Infected Wounds - Not a bad debuff.... but doesn't help us at all.  Maybe if your raid group needs the debuff, and you've got points to spare....

Tier 9

3/3 King of the Jungle - A key talent to keep us going by giving us a way to quickly regenerate energy, with some side perks on top.

1/1 Mangle - One of our key debuffs, and a damage ability.  There's a reason people refer to one cat strategy as Manglespam.

0/3 Improved Mangle - Without this, Manglespam is a costly tactic (and you may actually want to Claw (ew!) instead).... but since it lasts 1 minute you shouldn't be using it often enough for the increased cost to matter, since normally you'll be behind an enemy so you can Shred.

Tier 10

5/5 Rend and Tear -Increases a bunch of your damage on Bleeding targets.  Since you make targets bleed (a LOT!), increases a bunch of your damage.

1/1 Primal Gore - You should Rip on any boss fight - trash you won't have time.  But for boss fights, gives you the ability to crit.  More random free damage, and it only costs 1 point.

Tier 11

1/1 Berserk - Become the flailing cat-ball of death.  You know you want to.

You may (or may not) have noticed that I'm 1 point short - that can go where you feel it will be best utilized (1/2 iLotP or 4/5 Furor are probably your best bets).

The Glyphs

Generally speaking, your best three major Glyphs are:

Rip: Increases duration (and thus damage) of Rip by 4 seconds.

Shred:  Makes your Shred extend Rip by 2 seconds, up to 6 seconds total - so makes Shred doubly-important when Rip is up.

Savage Roar:  Makes the ability that you always have up and buffs all of your attacks buff them more.

If you're weird and just don't like those, consider these Glyphs, which, while subpar, are not horrible:

Mangle: You probably should shift talent points around to take iMangle if you're going to use this.  It makes Manglespam better...

Berserk:  You get to be a cat-ball of death for a little longer.

Minor glyphs are a little more malleable.  The generally accepted "best" are:

Challenging Roar:  Not as cool for cats as bears, but makes it easier for you to sacrifice yourself (or try to shift to bear and tank for a few seconds) to save your healer.

Unburdened Rebirth:  I honestly don't think any Druid should be without this.

Dash:  Remember me talking about how it's important to move quickly in certain fights?

Peronally, I drop Challenging Roar for Aquatic Form and Dash for Glyph of the Wild.  Personal choice.

So what's the point?  See Part 1.  We increase our damage a bunch, sure, but we've made a lot of our abilities synergistic - as I said then, Savage Roar buffs everything, Mangle buffs Rip, Rake, and Shred, Rake and Rip both buff Shred, Shred extends Rip... and on the occasions we get to Ferocious Bite or have to Claw, they've got some buffs too.  The really tricky part is keeping everything going properly.

Stay tuned for Part 3 (Gear, Gems, and Enchants)! (Sometime before Cataclysm... I hope...