Thursday, October 21, 2010

Sometimes I surprise even myself...

... and if you don't get the reference then you fail, hardcore.

I just wanted to share a couple of thoughts while my ridiculously busy schedule of ridiculousness keeps me from writing anything meaningful.

After our bug-filled jaunt into ICC last week, we decided to start fresh this week even though we only got 5 bosses down last week... And due to illness/inability to form coherent sentences/real life causing low attendance/etc, we waited until Wednesday night to go in this week.

To make a much longer story very short: we smashed 7 bosses (Lower Spire + Fester, Rot, and Princes).  A typical first night for us.

I was surprised by a couple of things during the run, though, that I wanted to share.

First, remember a few posts back?  I said that the death of cat DPS was greatly exaggerated?  Boy was I right.

Now, I realize they thought it was underpowered and made a couple of changes to bump it up.  They may have done so even before I posted my previous thoughts.  They may have done a little before then, and a little after.  I'm here today to confirm that cat DPS is most definitely alive and well, even before the Cataclysm.

For the first time in my experience, I actually led the DPS chart on a couple of fights.  One of them by a good margin.

At the end of the Saurfang fight I was sporting over 13k DPS.  Once I get near my gaming machine again I can try to post up a screenshot - I got one that should show the Recount breakdown to show how much is attributed to melee, Rake, Rip, Shred, and Ferocious Bite.  Much like pre-4.0, the breakdown was fairly even - roughly 25% each going to melee, Rip, and Shred, with the remaining 25% divided up among Ravage, Rake, and FB. 

After a top half performance on Rotface, we moved to Festergut.  We had a mage leading the chart for most of the fight, but I was a close second until we hit 25%.  It is so incredibly liberating to actually have something to do differently when the Raid Leader announces "Kill shot range."  Anyway, mere seconds before Fester fell down I passed him, finishing with 12.5k DPS to his 12.3k.  The breakdown of damage was shifted slightly.  I don't have the screenshots to compare at hand (I will offer more details once I do), but while the same general breakdown showed, it was shifted.  (i.e. Rip had the highest percentage on Saurfang, IIRC, and Shred had the highest on Fester, again, unless my memory is failing me.)

I'm loving Nom Nom Nom, even if it did get the much less cool name Blood in the Water.  Once the boss is in range, your life becomes Shred/Rake to 5 CPs, FB, do this two or three times depending on the time left on Savage Roar, then Shred/Rake to 5 CPs and Savage Roar, wash, rinse, repeat and watch the boss die.  Since you don't really have to worry about refreshing Rip, the only timer you really have to watch at that point is Savage Roar.

Speaking of timers, I was moderately more impressed with my output because I haven't been using a debuff tracker addon.  Last time I tried to load BadKitty, it was broken, and I haven't checked in the past week or so to see if it was fixed.  I suppose it's technically harder to play this way, but given the proclamations of doom and gloom for Kitty DPS I wasn't worried about it until Cata actually dropped.  So I was doubly surprised to find myself on top of the chart.

Moving on... My DPS as a tank seemed relatively high as well.  There were even a couple of fights that I beat out a couple of our lower-geared folks that just must have had a bad fight that boss.  I dunno *shrug*.

Speaking of tanking, my single-target threat has been WAY up - to the point where I'm stealing threat from our other tanks if I don't watch it - while my AOE threat has been way down, so-so at best.  That 6-second cooldown on Swipe is a pain in my arse.  Tab-targeting helps, but having the Pulverize buff fully powered helps as well, and you need to consume 3 stacks of Lacerate to get there, which requires focusing on one target.  I still don't have a good handle on how to get and hold AOE threat, but I also realize that I might not have that until Cata comes and we get Thrash.

In completely unrelated matters, I finally completed the holiday uber-meta.  Picked a candy bucket in Telaar and got Achievement spammed...  Got my Violet Proto-Drake and danced in the... wait, I already spent 5k gold to get 310% flying.  blizz can I have my 5k back?  See, what I was reading over the past few weeks (sorry, I'm a bad blogger and don't have sources to link, it's been too long and I don't remember where I read them to begin with, but Wowwiki confirms it) said that if you already had a 310% speed mount, you got Master Flying for free, but this was not true if you gained the mount afterward.  So, I spent my 5k, and then heard afterward that enough people complained about the holiday meta that they changed it so that it granted the Master flying skill.  Thus I curse my impatience but please Blizzard give me my 5k back.

Anyway.... cheers!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Pre-Cata 4.0 Bear Thoughts

So my guild went in to ICC 25 this week a day late due to the patch, to try to relearn on the go how the game is played, so I got a good look at how to do things bear-wise until Dec. 7th.  I was actually pleasantly surprised with a few things, but I thought I'd roll that in to how to Bear in patch 4.0!

I'll cover all of the abilities in more complete detail in a later set of posts...

But first off, here is the spec I went with for my first go around...

Bear Build for 4.0!

Without the points to get to Perseverance (which I'll want at 85), I actually had one more point to use in the Feral tree than I will when I get that far.  We'll have 5 more points then, 2 of which will be in Natural Shapeshifter to get to Tier 2 resto, 3 in Perseverance, and I will find 1 point from somewhere (current odds are to take one out of Stampede) at that point for Master Shapeshifter... but we'll see.

For now... that looks like a solid build.  I have all the points in everything I want in the Feral tree, plus Heart of the Wild.  I personally don't think it would be bad, while using 4p t10 armor, to put 3 points in King of the Jungle to enhance Enrage even further for in-combat use, but excepting the tier bonus there's no reason to put points there at all.

On a side note, the tooltip for the four piece bonus to t10 armor still reads that "Enrage no longer reduces your armor and instead..."  I'm hoping they actually updated the mechanic so that it doesn't make you take extra damage, because Enrage no longer reduces armor anyway.  Even if they didn't, the bonus makes you take less damage, and more than overcomes the extra damage you take from Enrage anyway, so... I guess it all works out.  Anyway, back to the task at hand.

Tanking seemed... a little clunky to me.  Times were, the only rotationally used abilities Bears had on cooldowns were FFF and Mangle.  Now we've added Swipe and Maul to the mix, and given us an ability that wants us to build up Lacerate stacks, then remove them, AND an ability that wants us to have Lacerate ticking all the time.

So, in short, there's more buttons for us to press, and more limitations in how and when to press them.  To make matters worse, Maul and Swipe both now cost 30 rage (although Swipe's rage cost is supposed to be coming down, and word is they're reducing the threat generation to match, but keeping the cooldown.)  I can't say that I'm entirely pleased with that change - the 6 second cooldown on Swipe is a royal pain - but at least we'll be able to use Swipe at the beginning of a pull for initial aggro now.

I found myself doing things distinctively different for single-target and AOE pulls, which was... not entirely true previously.  For single-target, Mangle and FFF followed by Maul.  Maul and Mangle when off cooldown, fill in the space with Lacerates until 3 stacks, then Pulverize.  If you have the Pulverize buff up, 3 stacks of Lacerate, and Maul and Mangle are on cooldown... FFF again.  If that's also on cooldown... then Swipe, or consider Pulverizing to refresh the buff duration.  Doing this, I've been putting out comparatively massive threat - typically outpacing our DK and Warrior tanks.  Of course, maybe they just don't have their rotations down yet, or maybe I had rogue/hunter threat help, I don't know for sure.

For AOE pulls, I tended to start out with Lacerate, Pulverize immediately to have some buff up, then Swipe.  From there, I was tab-target Maul, Mangle, and Lacerate wherever I needed threat.  Swipe when off cooldown, and Pulverize whenever I could a) eat more stacks of Lacerate than the current buff had, or b) the buff was about to fall off.  I found myself sometimes having no issues with rage at all, and sometimes being rage-starved it seemed no matter what I did.  Either way, I was getting compliments from several folks on our run with doing awesome threat.  One player who has regularly had issues with generating just a little too much threat said he was going all-out and couldn't catch me.  Again, maybe I had help, but that certainly gave me some confidence.

All in all I didn't have many problems with threat generation, and when I did they seemed to be tied to rage starvation.

On the downside, the first night we got to Saurfang and had to stop because the door was bugged and wouldn't open after he died.  The second night, we killed Rotface before giving up because several of our players were having bug issues with the raid instances - getting dropped out of the instance, not being able to come back in, WoW crashing when they came in, WoW crashing when they were summoned - just generally annoying bugs.  I hope they get it all fixed soon.

I haven't had a lot of chances to cat yet, but I have a few thoughts I'll share when I get the time to.  As for my last post about it, I realized later I did my dummy testing after they buffed us a little bit.  Anyway, happy hunting!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Death of the Cat

... is, I think, over-exaggerated.

Ghostcrawler has posted that it's a little low, and they'll address it, but I was able (without an exceptional amount of optimization, I might add) to pull 7.9k on the dummy with only Mark of the Wild as buffs...

Then again, that's lower than what I used to be able to do.

Oh well, I'll post up with my full opinions when I get a chance.  Bear and Cat spec, and I have an idea at a hybrid but it might be a little brutal.