Archive for June, 2009


Blizzard Q&A time

Blizzard have just published their death knight Q&A (at least their initial one). That means we have less waiting to do before it’s our turn. A lot of questions have been asked all across the board, some of them even serious and without the “gief buff plxploxnaokekek?”

The themes have been many, and there have been at least two variations of each theme? As I write this we have 13 pages full of questions, so despite some doomsayer suggestions (“Why don’t you just remove warriors, you don’t like us anyway”) our class is very much alive and kicking.

So what kind of things do our fellow furies have on their minds? Quite a few things actually. Here follows a list with the highlights (and I will refrain from listing “buffs plx” as a point, since it is quite honestly too vague and Blizzard aren’t likely to touch it):

  • TG…the bastard child. Understandable, but at the same time futile to ask about
  • Rampage…part of our raid utility. The little useless brother of Leader of the Pack
  • The lacklustre performance of fury, when compared to other so-called hybrids like DK’s and Druids
  • Gameplay…the latest changes to fury have locked us into rotations more than ever

Starting with Titan’s Grip…well, what to say that hasn’t been said, screamed, hollered and whined about already? It is the bastard child of fury, and it will never become a talent that 100% of furies will love. Rather, it will divide the waters from now on and in perpetuity. Will it disappear? No. Blizzard have said that they find it cool, and that they’ve wanted it in since TBC. It’s staying, and the damage nerf is also staying.

Would all furies take it, if it were proven that 1-handed fury builds were viable? Heck no. Many people still share the view that furies should hit hard with onehanded weapons, for a more furies and frenetic pace of playing (more on that later). If I’m honest, I’d probably go for a 1-handed fury build if I could. But, it would require Blizzard to redo much of the loot, so I think it’s fair to say that TG ain’t changing. For better or worse.

Ever since Blizzard changed the buff system, people have been complaining about Rampage. And despite trying to see the logic, I still fail to see the logic in the LotP vs Rampage priorities. The duration, application requirements and limited range of Rampage all make it decidedly inferior to LotP (even in its untalented form). Oh sure, it does come into its own if there is no feral druid in the raid, but honestly, and this goes especially for 25-man raiders, how often are you in a raid without a feral?

Blizzard need to up their game on this supposed buff. How many other 41 talent point abilities are this inferior and mainly usable when soloing? Ultimately it has its place in solo situations and 5-mans, but as one of “the big 3” talents, its suprisingly useless in the endgame. It used to be grand, but required micromanagement. Now it requires nothing, but is very nearly useless in a raiding situation. Which would you prefer?

I’ll not enter into the “hybrid vs. pure” debate at this stage, since I’ve already done so in the past. The point being raised this time round is this however: How can it be, that other hybrids can spec both DPS and tanking in the same tree, essentially gaining a decent spec for both by one application of points…and THEN outperform another hybrid in all aspects of their job. This crosses over into one of the big topics for our protection warrior brethren, namely that of protection warriors being underperforming compared to druids and death knights. So, essentially, a druid will beat us in DPS, and if we both go to our tanking spec, a) the druid will do better and b) they can very nearly do it without changing specs.

While it may seem whiny and complaining, it’s worth asking the question, as some have done: “Should a class with 4 different roles in a raid be able to outperform a class with only 2 roles decisively in both roles?” While I don’t necessarily agree that there should be tiers of hybrids, I would like to see equality between hybrids, especially if hybrids are not allowed to equal pures in damage.

Finally, we come to the last point…gameplay. It’s not the most commonly named point, but it’s interesting nonetheless. Back in the day, fury used to be as frenzied as rogues nearly. It was a lot of button pushing. Along came TG and halved our button-pushing frequency. And add to that a couple of very short cooldowns on our staple abilities. The result is a very very stifled and locked way of playing, provided you want to maximise your DPS. So basically, our furious playing style is less furious than ever. In fact, it begins to resemble a paladin from the old days. Judge, Seal, Judge, Seal, Bloodthirst, Whirlwind, Bloodthirst, Whirlwind. In a time where Blizzard are moving most people out of the gridlock of rotations, it’s quite interesting that they’re seemingly burying their furious players under a layer of locked rotations.

The above is just a little sample of the multitude of questions that have been asked of Blizz. I have no hope that they can manage to answer them all. But I would hope that they will find the time to answer the above at the very least. And the blues hinted at it not being a single session, so keep the questions flowing.


Tier what?

In the coming patch, we have three new ilevels of loot from the Coliseum, namely 232, 245 and 258. Currently we dont know which of the four modes will feature which ilevels of loot. It is easy to assume that the loot will be arranged as: 10<10hard/25<25hard. In other words, 10-man raids will be a full tier below the 25-man loot. In fact, WoWInsider made a very nice table that shows it.

Like most other people are sure to, I looked it over and thought “looks reasonable”, but deep down in my subconscious mind gears were ticking. At first glance, the table seems entirely reasonable, until you take a look at the ilevels themselves. It is worth noting, that when Blizzard announced the level difference between sets, they were also careful to say that they wanted to avoid ilevel inflation. Even so, they have approached this two-tiered system in a very inconsistent manner.

Ilevel difference between Naxx10 and Naxx 25 is 13 ilevels. Ilevel difference between Ulduar10 and Ulduar 25 is 7 ilevels, except for weapons which is 13 ilevels. Between T7 and T8 there is 19 ilevels, but between T7.5 and T8.5 there is only 13. Conversely, if we accept the arrangement as suggested by WoWInsider, there is 13 ilevels between T8 and T9, but 19 ilevels between T8.5 and T9.5. Confused yet? I know I am.

Further, Ulduar 10 Hard is 7 ilevels above Ulduar 10 while Ulduar 25 Hard is 13 ilevels above Ulduar 25 (except for weapons, where the difference is 7 ilevels).

Now, it’s entirely possible to say “that’s Blizzard fixing their own inconsistencies” and be totally correct. Provided that WoWInsider is correct, we have a constant separation of 13 ilevels between tiers of loot. Suppose that this is the case. And that the difference between tiers will remain 13 ilevels. The result will be that 10-man T10 is going to be the equivalent of 25-man T9 from hardmodes. What that means, is that a hardmode T9 25-man raider will be fully geared for Icecrown Citadel, in fact they will be geared as if they have it on farm, before they have even started the instance. Unless of course Blizzard decide to make another quantum leap up the ilevel ladder.

Alternatively, T9 hard will be equal to T10 normal, for both 10 and 25 man versions. This doesn’t seem to make much sense however, since it’ll mean that people who have done hardmodes will find few to no upgrades in the next level of raiding. I doubt it’ll happen this way since it would trivialise the progression in the next raiding instance, something I think Blizzard wants to avoid in the interest of keeping their raiders busy for longer.

So, to sum up the situation. Hard mode ilevels started out as having about half the improvement that a full tier had. Come patch 3.2 they’ll be a full tier above the normal mode loot. Which means 2 effective levels of difference between T9 and T9.5hard. Furthermore, if the 13 ilevels between tiers is correct, T10 10-man normal loot will be equal in level to T9.5 25-man hardmode.

A few questions spring to mind at this stage:

  • Is it intended that 10-man raids be used as gearing up raids?
  • Is it intended that the challenges in 10-man raids be faced with 25-man geared people?
  • Will the ilevel separation remain at 13 for T10 or will they institute a bigger jump to create complete separation from the tiers?
  • If the previous question is answered with “yes” or “13”, will ilevel caps be instituted for 10-man raids and/or their achievements?

The answers to all of the above are still very much up in the air. In time, they will be answered of course, but for now all we can do is speculate. What do you think?


The new fury rotation

With the latest patch we received a small but noticable change to the fury playstyle. Yes, I’m talking about the reduction in CD on Bloodthirst. Instead of a 5 second cooldown (which doesn’t really fit with a 8 second Whirlwind cooldown), we now have a 4 second cooldown…which happens to fit nicely with Whirlwind, right? Right?

This is where I go: yes and no.

Yes: There is no more constantly delaying BT just to keep the WW cooldown inviolate.

No: Both 4s and 8s fit terribly with the 1.5s GCD.

But this is nothing new you say. Correct, it’s nothing new, but in the past our cooldowns were long enough to leave us space inbetween for other stuff. If we are determined to keep BT and WW on constant cooldown, we have a whooping 1 free GCD per 8 seconds. Read that again and then tell me if you’re dancing with joy. For reference, with the 5s cooldown we had 5 free GCD’s per 16 seconds, as well as 3 BT’s. On the flip side, we have 1 more BT per 16 seconds.

So by keeping to the BT and WW cooldowns we are effectively trading 4 free GCD’s for 1 BT. Hardly a terrific increase in DPS I’d say.

But then, these days we are moving away from the oldschool style fixed rotations and into priority lists. As good or bad as that might be. And whether we like it or not, by keeping our inviolate rotations, we are more or less stifling ourselves. So, let’s look at the 2 main alternatives there are, at least as I see them:

  1. Keep the WW cooldown inviolate, GCD the rest
  2. Fit everything to the GCD

You can of course argue that there are more alternatives, and this is true. There are more ways to do it. However, I have picked the two above, since they are inherently simple and easier to pull off than some others. In other words, you dont need a timer running to pull them off. They are guided by the GCD and the cooldown on WW (which a mod like OmniCC will let you see easily). In the following, I shall refer to them as rotations 1 and 2 respectively.

Rotation 1 (duration: 16s) looks the following:

  • WW at: 0s, 8s
  • BT at: 1.5s, 6s, 11s
  • Free GCD at: 3s, 4.5s, 9.5s, 12.5s, 14s

Rotation 2 (duration: 9s) looks like:

  • WW at: 0s
  • BT at: 1.5s, 6s
  • Free GCD at: 3s, 4.5s, 7.5s

You’ll notice that rotation 2 is 9 seconds long, which means that WW will be off cooldown for 1s each rotation. Shock horror! However, before people start commenting, let’s look at the number of abilities per second:

Rotation 1:

  • WW: 0.125/s (0.125/s)
  • BT: 0.1875/s (0.25/s)
  • Free GCD: 0.3125/s (o.125/s)

Rotation 2:

  • WW: 0.111/s
  • BT: 0.22/s
  • Free GCD: 0.33/s

Numbers in parenthesis are the inviolate rotation numbers, where BT and WW are not delayed. So, we see what is happening. By sacrificing a bit of WW damage, we gain more BT damage and more potential for bonus Slams. We are now faced with the question: which rotation is the better rotation?

The answer is of course: the one with the highest DPS output. Duh.

Instead of trying to justify my flippant answer, I’ll analyse the two rotations a bit further. Essentially, up until 7.5s they are identical. In fact, you could call them merely variants of the same rotation. The main difference is whether we delay the WW for 1s to squeeze in a Slam. But, is it ever justified to violate the inviolate? The answer is of course dependent on what numbers you put out. And this is where your mileage varies, where every person needs to do their own numbers.

It’s perhaps important to note that I’m not saying that WW is no longer the most important ability we have. If your rage says you can either Slam or WW, then you WW. No question. At the other end of the scale, if you are at 100 Rage all the time you are wasting DPS. In such a case, delaying the WW for a second to squeeze in an extra Slam is justified, provided you do not lack rage for subsequent WW’s and BT’s.


T9 set bonuses

The set bonuses for T9 have been unveiled:

  • Berserker Stance grants an additional 2% critical strike chance, and Battle Stance grants an additional 6% armor penetration.
  • Increases the critical strike chance of your Slam and Execute abilities by 5%.

Where T8 is all about ArPen and Str, we are returning to Crit Rating as being richly represented on our gear. This is much in keeeping with the comments made by our favourite crab monster that Tiers converge towards the “best” gear at the end of an expansion.

But I digress, let’s take a look at the tier bonuses in detail. Unlike some previous set bonuses, they aren’t convoluted at all. 2% crit chance is very much a boost to DPS, no two ways about it. Numbers will reveal when it is sensible to break your previous set bonus (if you have any), but if you only have the 2-piece bonus from T8, I would be tempted to switch as soon as possible. The 4-piece T8 bonus is better than the 2-piece T9 if your BT accounts for more than 20% of your total damage, all other things being equal. Note, this is pure napkin math and only takes the bonuses themselves into account.

The 4-piece T9 bonus is the dark horse of the two. Yes, it boosts Slam, but thanks to the BT changes, there is now less time for Slams without delaying either BT or WW. The boost to Execute might help to make Execute spam a viable alternative. The key word here is “might”. More on this when I find actual hard numbers to prove one way or the other.


Emblems, badges and raiders

Gather round for a story without novelty or shock value. It is by no means news to anybody that all the various badges and emblems will be turned into just one currency. Which will then be exchangeable for other currencies, to access the buyable loot from the old vendors. So effectively, we get the best badges and we will be able to downgrade them into the earlier versions, to access the earlier loot.

Statement the first: The change will make 5-man dungeon heroics viable again, and it will ease the gearing for the more casual of raiders

Statement the second: The change will water down the achievements of raiders, and will give people undeserved of the endgame gear a source of welfare epics.

These are essentially the two camps that we will find when looking at various fora and boards dealing with WoW. Whichever camp you belong to, there are many good reasons pro and contra, on either side. Most vocal are the hardcore raiders, who feel like Blizz have gone ahead and watered down their achievements as raiders. In other words…their hard won gear will now be every mans possession. So whats the point of even raiding, if you can sleep your way through heroics instead?

To that I say: Quit your self righteous drivel and get with the program.

Sound harsh? It possibly is, but so is your opinion that only the “true and worthy” deserve to own the nicest gear and see the nicest places. Essentially, you are advocating a tiered online community, where we have the “haves” and “have nots”. Oversimplified? It’s not as if the raiders who populate world first guilds are exactly sleeping their way through instances. While a very good point, it is an antiquated way of thinking in the current world of Achievements. You arent defined by gear anymore (and havent been since the Sunwell badge frenzy)…you are defined by the date on your achievement. If anything.

Back in the days of Vanilla, a full tier set was a status symbol, just like the rare mounts are today, and you’d see people in the capitals parading their armour for hours. And this tradition is still prevalent, even if it is on the decline. The emblems changes is a further nail in the coffin of the status-gear.

In its purest form: Blizzard have made a boatload of content, and a further boatload of gear in the content. What many people seem to fail to realise is, that gear is a means to an end, not the sole end itself. There’s no denying that we all want to be decked in epics, but epic gear should be a “cosmetic” status symbol rather than the status symbol.

Furthermore, the changes to emblems will resurrect the venerable 5-man dungeon as a worthwhile use of limited WoW time. They have been sidelined in Wrath, to a point where you currently only find alts in these, the most classic of WoW dungeons.

This has probably veered way off track by now, so congratulations if you’ve made it this far. As a conclusion, I shall return to the story promised in the intro to this post:

Once upon a time, there was a level 1 character. This was a young world, where the elementals below Blackrock, and the dragons above, were the biggest threat to the land. But even these creatures seemed far off and distant, mereĀ  rumours and legends. But there were more immediate threats to be fought, communities to be saved, caves to be explored, cultists and criminals to be fought. And the call soon went out to the heroes across the land:

“Gather ye 4 companions, and venture forth into the dark places of this world, to bring justice and safety back to our lands.”


Upcoming changes to Fury

It’s fair to say that patch 3.2 is going to be exciting. A whole new 5-man instance, and a whole new raiding instance, as well as a new BG and quest hub. And that’s not even thinking about all the new gear, mounts, pets, etc. You get the idea.

As for changes to furies however, it’s currently looking a bit thin on the ground. The only change currently is:

  • Armored To The Teeth now Increases your attack power by 3 for every 108 armor value you have. (Old – 3 AP every 180 Armor)

This is roughly a 65% buff to ATTT, which can’t be all that bad. However, it’s AP rather than Str, which means it wont take advantage of all the yummy bonuses to Str, nor will it be buffed by Blessing of Kings. Of course, ATTT is one of the places that Blizzard can introduce buffs without toppling the whole delicate cake, so since they wanted to buff us slightly, this is where they’ll do it.

Of course, it also means that we probably shouldn’t hold our breaths for too many other changes or (shock horror) buffs.

June 2009
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