Wednesday, December 31, 2008

[Druid] Bear-Tanked Gluth in Moonkin Spec

I've always been happy to pitch in with an off-spec function when the situation warranted it; emergency Tranquility on Sapphiron, shifting out to become an extra healer on any number of occasions, and so on. But being asked to pinch tank a raid boss was a new one.

My guild was doing 10-man Naxx since we're still missing a lot of people due to the holidays, and someone had to leave so I was asked to step in. They had gotten to Gluth and their tag team of mage and shaman wasn't able to control all the zombie adds. When I got in, we found a tag team of moonkin and mage with an Earthbind totem nearby still didn't do much better.

Normally we have a paladin or death knight on zombie duty, but both our paladins were prot last night (Gluth requires two tanks) and amazingly enough, we had no DKs in the entire raid. So one of our officers came up with an idea.

Our paladin OT (who is normally our ret pally) would tank the adds, since he already knew how, and I would OT Gluth. Madness? How about the fact I did it primarily in moonkin gear?

I was assured that Gluth does not hit very hard. Looking at WoW Wiki he only hits for about 3500 on plate in 10-man. Moonkin armor got nerfed to 370% percent down from 400% when bear form was also adjusted, but I could get between 17-18k armor (laugh) and just over 20k health if I swapped out my cloth spell power pieces for leather from my feral set. I actually asked if I should go full feral, but was told that I would need to dps in between tanking. (It turns out this was mostly a run for the guild newbies so we really needed to shore up the dps.)

So here's how it went:

The main tank ran in, aggroed Gluth, and dragged him to the far side of the room as normal. The first difference for me was that I ran along with him and stood with my back to the wall next to the MT. I was in moonkin form and dps-ed as normal. After the tank got four stacks of Mortal Wound I went into bear form and taunted the boss off him.

I got hit, but even being crittable the boss didn't hit me hard enough that the healers couldn't keep me up. My threat was fine since I could to work off the lead the MT had built up. After 15 seconds had passed and the debuff wore off the MT, he taunted off me, and I would go back to moonkin form for more dps. And we'd repeat the cycle. The only dps-related issue from the perspective of my own output was that I couldn't easily participate in killing zombie chow since I was also on tanking duty.

Despite that, our unorthodox method was surprisingly effective and I think we would have beaten Gluth if not for the fact that the server ate it when the boss was at 35%. Certain raids and instances hung up without actually booting the people in them offline (we originally thought we were lagged) and after several minutes of watching ourselves idle in place, we called it for the night. Thus ended my glorious run as a moonkin bear tank.

Yes, I was disappointed.

We plan on continuing the raid tonight, but we might end up with a slightly different group make-up, so I don't know if I'll end up getting another shot at tanking, but I'd be happy to try. I think it'll work and it could be a viable option for other raids if the OT has to go on add duty.

Update: We did go back to this fight New Year's Eve and I did OT Gluth again. This time I brought extra leather caster gear with me so I was in full leather for the fight. I had more trouble with aggro this time (just with the other tank, who had to stop dps to avoid pulling off me), but otherwise it was a job well done. Go hybrid versatility!

Monday, December 29, 2008

[Paladin] Relearning how to Holy DPS

My druid is sitting pretty in almost all purples and three pieces of T7, so I've started questing with Gillien again. Thanks to more instance runs with guildie alts I've dinged 71 with him and finally learned that oh-so-tasty Divine Plea.

Solo-ing is a lot different from running instances though, especially for a holy paladin (even one who frequently steps into tanking gear) so there was a little relearning how to dps. I hadn't done much of it ever since the 3.0.2 patch, so I was a little out of shape.

First of all, Holy Shock is much more bread-and-butter than it used to be. A shock every six seconds works out much better than one every fifteen. I use this every cooldown unless the enemy is going to die in a judgement or one or two auto-attacks.

Next I use Seal of Righteousness. Seal of Corruption/Vengeance is nice for tanking, but it gets more bang from AP than spellpower whereas the reverse is true for Seal of Righteousness. Also, there's no need to wait for Righteousness to stack five times to get the most damage out of it (since hopefully enemies are dying fast enough that even using Vengeance to five stacks it would not be on the mob for very long).

I'm tempted to consider building a ret set to see if it's more effective for a holy pally to solo using Seal of Blood in a ret set than doing spell damage in a holy set, but my bags are cramped enough with healing, tanking, (eventually) pvp gear, and misc items to switch in and out that I'm really not sure where I'll find the space to keep one.

Currently when I judge I'm using Judgement of Wisdom, and of course Justice for any running mobs, but now that I have Divine Plea, which is usable once a minute, I'm considering using Judgement of Light. My health bar goes down faster than my mana bar these days, even when I'm using Holy Shock every cooldown.

Another thing I've come to appreciate is: Divine Favor + Holy Shock = more dps. Seriously Divine Favor isn't normally used for healing while solo-ing. Divine Shield is our "uh-oh" button. So why not do a little more damage? I really don't feel like I'm killing things that much slower with Gillien that I did with my moonkin, and a big part of that is the shorter cooldown on Holy Shock. I get to push buttons more often and it keeps me more engaged that watching myself auto-attack until something comes off cooldown.

Consecration is pretty expensive now that there is no downranking, but it's still decent if fighting three or more mobs at once. I don't bother for only two. Retribution Aura keeps them entertained well enough.

And if that's not enough dps and mana is not a problem, Holy Wrath now works on everything! Sure, it doesn't stun things that aren't demons or undead and it has a nasty 30 second cooldown, but that's another AoE in our arsenal.

For pulling a mob we have a much better tool in Enlightened Judgements. Holy Shock's 20 yard range was sometimes only mildly more convenient than a judgement's 10 yard range, but EJ lets us judge from 30 yards, as far as most casters who've yet to spec for improved range.

Additionally, Judgements of the Pure gives us both casting and melee haste from judging, which we will be doing while dpsing. More haste means faster killing. We traditionally have taken long enough to kill things as is, so why take any longer?

I admit leveling as holy will likely become a dying art once dual specs are implemented, but in the meantime there's no reason not to learn how to do good output while playing the spec that gives us the most entertainment.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Bros. Before Ho Ho Ho's Before Level 77

I recently completed the Bros. Before Ho Ho Ho's achievement on Gillien at level 71, because I couldn't stand the thought of having to wait until next year to get the Merrymaker title. But there's a slight problem for us Horde.

Brother Keltan is in Icecrown, and not only that, but he's on an airship! Summoning doesn't work (poor sap my guildie tried to help wound up in the Argent Vanguard instead), so what's a Hordie to do?

For those of you who are like me, and tried following the instructions on WoWHead and still couldn't quite figure out if you were in the right spot, I've put together a graphical how-to.

You will not need anyone to help you with this and in theory you could do this as low as level 1, though I'd hate to see the corpse run on that one!

First! Make sure you have your Mistletoe. It would suck to get there and find out you don't have it.

Second! Do yourself a favor and buy a few Dark Runes. Supposedly it's possible to do this without any, but save yourself the aggravation and buy some. It'll save you a lot of time and corpse runs. If it turns out you don't need them, just put them back on the AH for the same exorbitant price you paid for them (or more!). I bought four for 20g (5g a pop) and due to me being fumble fingers I actually used three. If you find you need them but can't buy them, they drop in Scholomance. Have fun with that.

Next, follow the route on this map (click on it to see the full-size version). See that little tombstone where I died? That's where you want to be.

What you need to do is ride up to the Argent Vanguard in Icecrown via the road from Crystalsong Forest. Ride through the Vanguard and into the narrow canyon full of nerubians. You'll emerge from the canyon and find a nerubian base in front of you. You'll have to ride north towards and then around (circling west) the northeasternmost ziggurat. There's a narrow path behind it that will take you to Sindragosa's Fall.

Ride through Sindragosa's fall. You don't really need to hug the mountains to your right, and depending on your level it may behoove you to leave as much room between you and any mobs as possible. The important thing is to head north to where a wide snow path leads up and over the mountains to the other side. You'll know you're on the right track if you see the northern ocean and penguins.

Once you're up on the northern side of the mountain range, follow the wide snow path until it starts to curve back to the south. Don't follow it too far south or you'll fall and the only way back is to ride around the mountain range again.

Just before the steep fall you should see a sharp stone outcropping. This is where you're going to position yourself.

It's a steep outcropping, but it's possible to run up it. From where you see my body you can repeatedly jump off to the north (screenshot is facing southwest). This way you should not fall too far, and you can better control how much falling damage you take. You don't want to jump downhill or you'll risk sliding down the slope and dying too far down.

I found that if I mount up and jump off in a somewhat uphill direction, I could get smaller increments of damage, which is good because if you want to use the Dark Rune method you'll want to get to less than 600 health without killing yourself.

Some people apparently can kill themselves on the mountains around here without using Dark Runes. If you're a warlock, all you'll need to do is stand where my corpse was and Hellfire yourself to death. If you're like me, keep jumping until you're less than 600 health, less than 400 to be safe. Then quickly run high up on that outcropping and use the Dark Rune, making sure you have less than 600 health when you do.

If you didn't screw up, you'll die and this will be the only death you'll have to take.

Fly on the spectral griffon back to your body and then wait over the snow path beside the outcropping. Eventually the airship will come (it takes between 20-30 minutes to make a circle and you can see its location on your mini-map). It's very slow so you'll see it long before you can climb abroad, and it's terrible waiting and wondering if you did it right! But hopefully if you died where I did you'll find out that the airship actually does sink fairly low to the ground at this point and you should be able to fly into the bottom floor, the cargo hold as it were, and once it's close enough to your body you'll be able to ressurect.

And then bingo! Brother Keltan walks clockwise in a circle around the ship. Find the stairs from where you are in the bottom, and start moving in a clockwise circle up the stairs, across the deck, and back down again and you should bump into him.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Arena Season is Passing Me By

Last time around I didn't get my paladin to 70 until just before Season 4, and I don't PvP on my druid main, so I entered the arena game late and arguably suffered for it. My 2v2 team hit 1600 so I guess we didn't suck, but we were pretty sure that if I'd been PvP-ing earlier in the year our BM hunter/holy pally duo would have performed much better.

My partner started the season in the best gear that points alone could buy, and I was in welfare blues I'd bought with faction rep. We finished better geared than that and I did improve substantially over the course of the season, but the later weeks were rougher on us than the earlier ones, especially once arena rating became a barrier to buying new gear. We topped at 1600, but that was three or four weeks before the end of the season and we never recovered.

I didn't want to make that mistake this time around, but because at the end of the day I prefer raiding to PvP, Hana made the trip up to Northrend first and Gillien has only done a few instances and daily cooking quests (because I never learned cooking on Hana and I need someone to make my supply of raid food).

Now the arenas are open, the gear is out, and Gillien is still 70.

I don't want arenas to pass me by entirely, but I have a lot of work to do if I'm going to get a second character to 80 in time to enjoy a portion of season 5 while still attending raids three or four nights a week. I'm still not done with all the quests in Storm Peaks and Icecrown, I have reputations to grind (*cough* Sons of Hodir), and I often get roped into heroics out of friendship or social obligation, which leaves me little time to work on leveling a second character.

One thing I am pleased about though is the spec I've been planning for when Gillien is level 80. Megan from Out of Mana also plays a holy paladin, and since she's earned a higher arena rating than I would ever dream of, I think I should be able to trust her judgment. And the spec she listed in this post is remarkable close to what I've been planning. It's nice to have some sort of confirmation that I may be on the right track even if there are still a couple talent placements I might disagree on.

I know holy/ret is the way to go in PvE, but Gillien was intended to be "that annoying PvP healer." I still intend to be that person, and I don’t think the increased crit from the ret tree will make up for the lack of PvP talents like Stoicism and Improved Hammer of Justice in the prot tree. Arena, and to a lesser degree the BGs, require more than just throughput. Being able to resist stuns and dole them out more frequently can make or break an encounter.

Just like a moonkin does zero damage if her spell misses, a paladin does zero healing while stunned.

Tonight isn't a raid night, so if I can sneak out of heroics and finish my Sons of Hodir dailies uninterupted I'm gonna try getting a few more bars of experience under Gillien's belt. I've seen the new PvP gear and I want it… *drool*

Monday, December 15, 2008

My paladin's a guy, but I'm not

The recent re-customization thing brought up an old conversation I had with someone in-game. I'd run instances with this person several times, and he knew I was a woman who played a male paladin. A male paladin with the semi-androgyneous name of Gillien (pronounced with a hard "G" if you're curious).

This was back during the waning days of TBC and he told me that he heard Blizzard was going to offer gender swapping in Wrath. Whether he had inside info or it was just a lucky rumor he heard I don't know, but in any case I just figured "whatever." Then he said I could change Gillien into a girl.

And I wondered… Why? Why did he think I would be interested?

Just because I'm female doesn't mean I want my characters to all be girls. Most of them are (truthfully, of all my WoW alts Gillien is the only guy), but I obviously made Gillien a male for a reason. I can't think of anyone who's ever claimed to be the wrong gender because they misclicked on the character creation screen.

I know this isn't the case with everyone, but at least for me, all my characters have a token story behind them, a hint of an RP personality, and when I finally realized that I had a character concept for a paladin it happened to be a man. Gillien will never undergo a sex change because he is who he is and changing his gender would make him a different person. If I wanted to play a belf female paladin I would have made one.

I could understand maybe switching genders if the character emotes eventually got to be too much (I know my human female's laugh grates on my ears), or because of repeated harassment (female characters being asked by random strangers to dance naked by the mailbox), or even for a good laugh among guildies, but I've been pretty happy with Gillien, who hasn't faced any harassment beyond the usual fun that's made at blood elf men for being preening egomaniacs.

The strangest thing is... the person asking was a man who as far as I knew only played female characters. I no longer keep in contact with him and I haven't seen him around in Wrath, but now that gender changes are possible, I have a mild curiosity whether or not he's done the swap.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Druids and Paladins in Patch 3.0.8

It looks like the next patch is finally coming. The notes are up on the official site. Oddly enough, it's 3.0.8 instead of 3.0.4 so Blizzard must've gone through a lot of internal builds since the launch of Wrath. I tip my hat to them. They've been busy people.

So what's in store for us tank/heal/dps hybrids?


  • Feral Attack Power: All weapons now have the potential to grant feral attack power based on their dps (as compared to the best superior-quality weapons available at level 60). Players will see their existing feral weapons grant roughly the same attack power as they did before (+/- 2 or so), but many new weapons will be options for the feral druid. Some feral weapons have had strength converted to attack power to be more appealing to other classes able to equip them. All druids will see the amount of feral attack power granted by an item in the item tooltip, if it grants any, but other players will not see that information.

  • Remove Curse and Abolish Poison can now be used in Moonkin form.

  • Genesis: Now works with Tranquility and Hurricane.

  • Growl: Range increased to 30 yards.

  • King of the Jungle - The Bear effect is now physical, and thus cannot be dispelled.

  • Nature's Grace - Now also effects Revive.

  • Primal Tenacity: Now reduces the cost of Bear Form, Cat Form, and Dire Bear Form by 17/33/50% in addition to its previous effects.

  • Protector of the Pack: No longer changes value based on party size.

  • Savage Roar: The buff now persists outside of Cat Form but only provides its benefits while in Cat Form.

  • Starfall will now be cancelled by any shapeshifting.

  • Survival of the Fittest: This talent now grants 22/44/66% bonus armor in Bear Form and Dire Bear Form in addition to all of its previous effects.

  • Swipe: Swipe (Cat) has now been added at level 71, dealing 260% weapon damage, costs 50 energy with no cooldown. All talents affecting the Bear Form version affect the Cat Form one as well.

  • Wild Growth now has a 6 second cooldown.

  • Most of it involves the promised changes to feral. The change to FAP could be a godsend for ferals. Assuming all the numbers work out, there won't be any more looking for that "special" FAP weapon. Primal Tenacity will be fantastic in PvP. (I sense a respec in my feral's future to pick up that talent again.) I just wish it affected travel form as well. There are few things more annoying in PvP than to pop out to cast, heal, and then realize you don't have the mana to return to bear (or cat, but usually bear is the most important when you're in trouble). Protector of the Pack is nice to prevent the yo-yo-ing of our armor based on the number party members and Survival of the Fittest… wow! My feral will be happy to have her armor back. Ever since the nerf to the base dire bear armor multiplier she's been feeling a little squishy in BGs.

    As far as balance druids goes, there are three items of note. One is the buff to Genesis, which has always been viewed as a talent for resto druids. Now the increased damage and healing will also affect Tranquility and Hurricane. It's not enough to really wow me as a moonkin since I still don't use either for the majority of boss fights, but it should help resto druids and balance/resto hybrids.

    The Starfall change raises a question in my mind though. It says it's canceled by any shapeshifting. Does that include going to caster form? I'd hate to lose the rest of my Starfall because I had to shift out to battle rez someone or bust out an emergency Tranquility.

    The final balance-specific item is that we can now use Abolish Poison in moonkin form, which is fantastic. We've already been able to cast Remove Curse (I've been doing it for Noth and Sapphiron in Naxx), but Abolish Poison will give us greater group utility without having to shift out.

    Lastly, though I didn't quote it above, mobs will be tagged as soon as the player casts any spell to make them aggressive to them. No more casting Entangling Roots or Moonfire only to see the mob turn gray before the first tick of damage sets in!

    And for the other side of me…


  • Avenging Wrath: Divine Shield, Divine Protection, and Hand of Protection, and Avenging Wrath cannot be used within 30 seconds of each other anymore. Forbearance removed from Avenging Wrath.

  • Divine Protection: The penalty has been removed.

  • Divine Shield: The penalty has been changed so that all damage done is reduced by 50% in place of an attack speed penalty.

  • Hand of Reckoning(NEW): Available on trainers at level 16. It’s a 30 yard range taunt that causes Holy damage.

  • Judgements of the Pure: This Holy talent now increases the damage done by Seals and Judgements.

  • Judgement of Wisdom: Now returns a percentage of base mana instead of a percentage of max mana.

  • Sacred Duty: Interaction with Divine Shield and Divine Protection removed, but stamina bonus increased.

  • I'm glad Avenging Wrath no longer causes forbearance. The 30 seconds could still be incredible inconvenient, especially in PvP where my paladin will have to choose between burst output and risking his own survival, but at least in PvE raids and instances where Divine Shield is less likely to be used I can be reasonable certain that it'll be okay to use Avenging Wrath.

    The change to Judgements of the Pure is a step in the right direction after all the previous nerfing to seals and judgements to bring down the ret pallies. A holy paladin's dps anecdotally seems to have been among the lowest of all healing specs for a while so it'll be nice to be able to do more damage. That's good for fools like me who like to holy tank and it'll be nice once I start leveling in earnest.

    Judgement of Wisdom saddens me though because it's my favorite judgement and while I haven't run the math I have the suspicion I'll get much less for it. It seems like I run out of mana often enough as it is (when I'm not instance healing). I continuously use JoW while solo-ing or tanking and my mana pool doesn't refresh as fast as I'd like as is. Though I don't have Divine Plea yet so that could be part of my problem. (Is it wrong to have tanked three Northrend instances and dps-ed one on my holy paladin and still be level 70?)

    The rest of the changes are of little interest to a holy paladin though the new Divine Protection is a nice tanking buff. I'm inclined to think that Sacred Duty is a buff, just based on the fact I've rarely felt the cooldown for Divine Protection and Divine Shield was too long while tanking. And the new Hand of Reckoning is a much needed single target taunt I'm sure I'll enjoy. The change to Divine Shield doesn't really bother me either way since I'm rarely attacking while my shield is up. In a way it could be a nerf since it affects damage rather than attack speed. Previously our instants such as Holy Shock weren't affected by that, but due to cooldowns even holy paladins rely on actual weapon swings to do dps.

    Wednesday, December 10, 2008

    Only Eye of Eternity Left

    Naxx came and went so fast. In a week and a day since we started, Kel'Thuzad fell. And it's weird. We never stopped because there was a boss we just couldn't beat because we needed to gear up more. Every time we stopped it was because it was getting late.

    We knocked out the Obsidian Sanctum too. It was cake.

    All that's left for 10-man is Malygos in the Eye of Eternity, though from what I'm hearing he should be a tough one.

    We're a few short of starting 25s still, but most of that will be made up when the rest of us who aren't 80 yet finally ding. In the meantime, we're starting to bench people, mostly melee dps, for the 10-mans. Last night was the first night we actually had a roll-off to prevent too many melee for joining the raid. (Our winning KT attempt actually ended up with a feral druid doing nothing but dancing on the sideline because we couldn't use him for anything other than his LotP aura.)

    There's some talk about starting a second 10-man group while we recruit for the last few for 25s, and we have the tanks (and soon the healers) for that. I don't think many other guilds are running two 10-mans and it shouldn't be too hard to pug dps to fill out whatever we're short for 25s, but it's an idea and I think it's a good team builder as long as we can avoid the perception that there's the "good raid group" and the "other raid group."

    Personally I like the 10-mans because of accountability. Individual death is more forgiving in 25-mans because each individual contributes a smaller portion of the dps or healing (only tank death is really as bad in 25s as 10s), but 25s is where the loot is.

    And since we're finishing off the 10s so easily I guess 25s is really the next step until the next patch comes out. I hope Ulduar will be a good challenge. At this rate I'll probably be geared to the gills by the time 3.1 lands.

    Sunday, December 7, 2008

    [Paladin] Tanking Nexus at 70 as Holy

    I wasn't going to start leveling my paladin until I finished up questing on my druid (still have Storm Peaks and Icecrown to go), but while I was chugging along a group of lower level guildies consisting of two dps and a healer started a Nexus party, and they were short a tank and one more. All the 80s were on a heroic spree and I wanted to help out, so I offered to switch to Gillien.

    In officer chat I remarked, "This is going to be either interesting or a complete failure." Someone amusingly pointed out that it could be an interesting failure too. My fellow officers know my penchant for doing things off-spec.

    So I logged on Gillien and put on his tanking gear. Sure enough, 490 defense, so he's uncrittable against anything up to level 73, which should be fine for Nexus. It was Kara/heroic gear so I figured I should be all right for mitigation. I had some concerns though, just because I hadn't tanked an instance since the 3.0.2 patch unless one counts the Headless Horseman fight.

    Prior to that patch, I knew exactly where I stood on building threat, because spell damage was something I could easily relate to as a holy paladin. One of my talents even increased it. Now that prot paladins rely on attack power to do holy damage... well, for one thing I'm still swinging [Gavel ofNaaru Blessings] around because it has a fair bit of stamina and I don't have a new tanking weapon yet. Supposedly my threat would still be good though, since the prot paladins survived the change just fine.

    We started the instance all right, but wiped embarrassingly hard on an early pull. I was quite frankly horrified because the first thing that goes through my mind when I die as a tank is that my mitigation is horrible, I underestimated the need for CC, I suck, etc.

    Actually, we just needed to mark the kill order. I hadn't been given lead, so when I suggested that I could mark the targets, I got it, and then progress went much more smoothly. We did have one more wipe, but that was the rhino pet's fault for bringing adds (turn off knockback in instances please!).

    Once we got into a rhythm, tanking became fun again. I felt a little spastic once we got to Keristrasza though. She has a debuff she puts on all the party members where they take damage from cold if they stand still too long. Even though I knew this and had done this fight before as a healer, for some reason my skull got particularly thick shortly after the fight started and I didn't keep moving after I positioned her. Then I wondered why I was taking so much damage and blowing all my emergency buttons just to stay alive.

    After a mental bonk on the head I started shifting around, side to side, front and back. I hated doing that because we had two melee dps and it's rough on them having to reposition themselves every time the boss moves, but once I started dancing around healing me became much easier.

    Overall though, I think it was a good experience. And thanks to a quest that was shared I now have a nice new pair of shoulders. Finally hit 12k health in tanking gear! Haha!

    Friday, December 5, 2008

    Construct Quarter Down! Plague Quarter Next!

    My guild spent its third day in 10-man Naxx yesterday. I had to miss Day 2 when we cleared the Arachnid Quarter and Patchwerk again because of the reset, but I was back again last night when we finished the Construct Quarter, took out Instructor Razuvious for our second time in the Military Quarter, and proceeded over to the Plague Wing to get our first kills of Noth and Heigan. It was a productive night with five first-time boss kills. Thaddius and Noth were even one-shots.

    Our progress is pretty amazing considering the old pacing in raids, where one or even two new bosses would be a good night, and it does make me understand the concerns of the more hardcore raiders that the raids are too easy now. If the difficulty doesn't ramp up soon we'll probably finish this, the Obsidian Sanctum, and Eye of Eternity before 3.1 and we are not among the most hardcore guilds of the server.

    I also made out like a bandit last night. I was the only dps caster so when the [Gown of Blaumeux] dropped off Gluth our only clothie (a holy priest) said to give it to me since spell hit's useless for him. Then later in the night [Dark Shroud of the Scourge] dropped off Noth and we got [Chain of Latent Energies] as a random trash drop, both of which were given to me. I went up a whopping 68 hit rating last night. I'm still not hit capped, but I'm much closer now, and each of those pieces replaced a blue or old TBC epic that I was wearing.

    We also had our new ret pally with us last night so I got to enjoy Replenishment for the first time in a raid situation. I never ran out of mana beyond what a pot could fix, which helped a lot because I could afford to combat res our priest and then Innervate him without worrying about my own mana pool (which I had to do a couple times). Our shadow priest is leveling nicely as well, so between him and the ret pally it's looking increasingly likely that Replenishment will become a regular thing in our raids. If that turns out to be the case, it'll be time to think about speccing out of Dreamstate and into Celestial Focus.

    Tuesday, December 2, 2008

    [Druid] Speccing for 10-Man Naxx

    I came back from the Thanksgiving holiday to a surprise. My guild was starting Naxx. I thought we'd still have a couple more days after I got back, but no, we were going. I logged on right after they started the instance, but partway through a dps had to go so I was asked to fill in.

    I totally was not expecting that we'd be running yet so I wasn't prepared. I still had my leveling glyphs, my last two talent points had yet to be allocated, and I barely had time to grab any reagents before flying my butt out to the instance. Talk about being caught with your feathers down.

    I'd spent less than an hour of playtime at 80 and here I was flying to my first raid. But now that I've begun my first 10-man I know exactly where my deficiencies are and I can choose my spec accordingly.

    So here's what my spec currently looks like:

    As you can see I'm very heavy on the mana regeneration and mana cost reduction talents with Moonglow, Dreamstate, Intensity, and Omen of Clarity. My guild doesn't have the numbers yet for 25-mans, and our erstwhile ret pallies have respeced back their prot and holy tree to carry the raid. We don't have any shadow priests either. It is possible that our hunter will go survival if mana becomes an across the board issue, but he's also our #1 dps so for now I'm assuming that I will have no outside help with my mana regeneration. All four of those talents are critical to prevent me from running out of mana during a long fight.

    Addititionally I put two points into Eclipse. I know I said earlier that I didn't like the talent, but after doing a lot of reading at Elitist Jerks and playing with the model in Rawr, I came to the conclusion that there was really no way around it. I would need to take it to increase my dps. And after playing with it for a couple levels now, I've decided that it's not as bad as I initially thought it would be.

    It's more than just a buff icon in the upper right of the screen. A mini-eclipse graphic also appears directly over the druid's head, which helps a lot with visibility, and the color changes depending on which version of Eclipse of triggered (the same goes for the buff in the upper right). That said though... in the heat of battle it's still possible to miss the graphic and there will be times when it will not be possible to take full advantage of the buff.

    Why only two points?

    The general consensus at Elitist Jerks is that it should be one or two points depending on the individual moonkin's crit rate. Three points is still a dps increase, but doesn't pack much bang for the buck, because the third point only pays to make Eclipse a guaranteed proc that will occur 100% of the time the moonkin crits. However Eclipse can proc no more than once every 30 seconds to begin with, so if the moonkin crits more often than once every 30 seconds then those other crits are wasted (as far as proccing Eclipse goes). Only investing two points provides some breathing room so there's less wasted potential and allows the moonkin to buy other talents with a better return. For me, in my newly 80 gear, two points provides the best dps increase.

    After taking Eclipse, I now have two points left to spend, so I'm looking at:

    Gale Winds - I'm not sure how necessary AoE will be yet in any given encounter, but it could be helpful with trash and possibly specific boss fights. The guys at EJ pointed out that the less time the raid spends on trash the more time the raid will have for the actual boss guy, but I'm not totally sold on that concept yet, since the boss is always what makes the raid give up for the night.

    Typhoon - I was not impressed by this earlier, but it's another form of AoE that might be useful under conditions where there are a lot of mobs coming from a particular direction that will not need to be properly tanked. Someone at EJ whose opinion I highly respect seems to think this has its uses, so it's a maybe for me.

    Nature's Splendor - Adds extra ticks to the Insect Swarm and Moonfire dots. It's a slight dps increase, since the cooldowns saved by not casting those spells as often can used for throwing out more StarFires or Wraths. It's really only worth it though if both Insect Swarm and Moonfire are being used as part of the moonkin's primary spell rotation.

    Celestial Focus - I had this talent once upon a time before it had spell haste added to it. The stun was fantastic for solo-ing, but I couldn't justify it in a raid build. Now with the percentage spell haste it's potentially tasty.

    Prior to entering Naxx I was leaning towards putting both points into Celestial Focus, but after my first couple of bosses my mana predicament became painfully obvious to me. I was running dry at the end of the fight, and in the last few seconds I would end up with nothing to give, even after potting and Innervating myself. That's a horrible feeling.

    Haste makes you spend mana faster than you would otherwise, so in a mana starved situation it does nothing to benefit the caster. You'll do the same damage as you other otherwise. It's just you'll do it faster and then sit around on your duff waiting for your mana to regen enough for a few more casts (and as a moonkin I have quite a formidable duff).

    So now I'm leaning towards Nature's Splendor because I use Insect Swarm and Moonfire in both my boss and trash spell rotations (IS/M/Starfire and IS/M/Wrath respectively), I have [Glyph of Insect Swarm] already, and I'm talented for Improved Insect Swarm.

    For my last point I'll probably go into Gale Winds for the improved AoE. It'll make trash go faster and help with heroics since we're doing a lot of those right now.