Adventures in Azeroth

It’s a Druid’s World (of Warcraft)

Final Notice – We have moved!!!

This blog will be deleted soon.  We have moved to, transferring all old content.  Please update your bookmark.

If you are the admin of a board or guild website, please update your links.  The feral gear posts, Kara guide and Bartender overview are all on the new site, in addition to plans on upgrades to all those posts and more. 

See you there!!!


February 21, 2008 Posted by | 1, Attunements, Burning Crusade, Custom UI, Druid Blogs, Druid Gear, Enchants, Factions, Fun, Instances, Interface Add-ons, Must have addons, Online resources, Raiding, Site Meter, Strategy - Balance, Strategy - Feral, Strategy - General, Strategy - Resto, Way off topic, Wordpress, World of Warcraft | 3 Comments

Feral PvE Build – Last 21 Points

In my first and second posts in this series, I gave you some thoughts on how to spend your first 40 talent points on a feral PvE build.  I’ve received some positive feedback, even given the basic nature of the overview.  I frankly had let this last post slide thinking it was too basic for most of my readers.  (Most of the commenters on the site seem like they are mostly upper-levels.)  Then I received this E-Mail from Chris:

 “I know your pretty busy but I was wondering if you had the 3rd 20 points of the feral build. I’m currently in the second part. Thanks for all the great info.”

Never too busy for a loyal reader, Chris.  Before I get started, my lawyers have advised me to once again repeat some key points to keep in mind as you read this series:

  1. Remember this is a PvE, mainly solo build.  We will be examining how to change this build for more focused Instancing and Raiding later.
  2. I am NOT the ultimate authority on Druid Ferals.  Not by a long stretch.  Actually, I don’t think anyone is.  So, take my posts as one opinion, evaluate, mull over, do your research – then spend your points where you think they should go. 
  3. Have fun!  You’re playing, in my opinion, one of the most fun classes in the game.  If you’re not having fun, then you’re either taking it too seriously or you should switch classes.

There – that’s out of the way.

You’ll receive your last 21 talent points leveling from 50 to 70.  You’ll hit the previous milestone of level 60, and once you hit 58 you can venture into Outland and push on to level 70.  More instances are opening up for you, and the mobs and zones you are confronting are the most difficult you will face.  With these 21 new talent points, we’ll continue to select good, all-around PvE-centric abilities that tend to benefit you in both bear and cat forms.  You’ll be getting some significant defensive abilities in addition to stats and damage plusses.   The icing on the cake will be party buffs giving 5% boost to critical hit chance and some free healing to everyone in range in your party. 

Sound good – let’s get to work.

Our work in the Restoration tree was completed last time so we’re sticking exclusively to the Feral tree this time around.  There’s not a lot of subtlety to what I’m going to tell you here – basically we’re going to select everything under Predatory Strikes, starting with Heart of the Wild. 

However, we need 25 points in Feral for HotW, so put one point into either Shredding Attacks or Savage Fury.  Shredding Attacks is a rage cost reduction for abilities, and Savage Fury increases damage caused by some cat abilities.  We’re only going to be putting 1 point into one of these abilities, so I’m looking for a good return on that investment.  For my money, getting a 10% damage increase on three cat abilities is pretty good for one talent point, so I recommend putting your 25th point there.  Of course, if Shredding Attacks appeals to you more, there is no good reason not to go there.

Now that we have our 25 feral points, we can move down the tree.  Let’s look at the abilities you’ll be selecting and their benefits.

Heart of the Wild: Put 5 points here, no questions asked.  This is the ability people say make you “more of a Druid”, as it benefits both feral forms, in addition to caster form.  For 5 talent points, you get a 20% increase to Intellect, a 20% increase to Stamina while in bear form, and a 10% increase to Attack Power while in cat form.  Note that in Patch 2.3, the increase to cat form was changed from Strength to Attack Power.  Make sure to take this into account when evaluating new gear.

Survival of the Fittest: Put 3 points here for two increases.  The 3% increase to all stats isn’t much to get excited about, but the real payoff is the 3% reduction in chance to be critically hit by melee attacks.  This is a huge reduction to be crit and will pay off big time the closer you get to end game content and the more you instance/raid.  With 3 points here, the additional defense you need from your gear to be effectively “crit-immune” in end game raids is significantly reduced.

Primal Tenacity:  With 3 points here, you get a 15% bump to your resistance to Stun and Fear mechanics. 

Leader of the Pack: With this ability, any party member within 45 yards of you gets a 5% bonus to their crit chance.  This affects both melee and ranged.  5% is a pretty significant bonus and most party members I’ve grouped with that weren’t aware of this buff, were very pleasantly surprised.  You won’t see this show up on your damage meters numbers, rather everyone’s overall numbers will be just that much higher.  An outstanding buff for one talent point.

Improved Leader of the Pack: With Leader of the Pack, we raised our party member’s crit chance by 5%.  With ILotP, party members will get free heal of 4% of total health whenever they critically hit an opponent.  There are limitations here – the healing effect cannot occur more than once every 6 seconds, and the healing applied is 4% of your total health at the time you had the crit (not your total undamaged health).  I struggled with this talent a bit as 4% healing didn’t sound like much.  In the end, I have two points in this talent under the heading of “every little bit helps”. 

Predatory Instincts: 5 points here will get you two nice bonuses; 10% increase to crit chance on melee and 15% increase to avoid area effects.  Highly recommended.

Mangle: One talent point enables the Mangle ability for both bear and cat forms.  Mangle is a melee attack that not only does increased damage (115% for bear and 160% for cat) and adds in additional damage (155 for bear and 264 for cat); it’s kicker is that it increases Bleed damage from Shred and other bleed effects.  This means not only your Shred and Lacerate attacks will do more damage, but any other Bleed effect will also.  I’m not an expert on all Bleed effects in the game, but I know there are several at your Rogue’s disposal.  Mangle is a great ability not only for increased damage but also for threat generation in bear form.  Mangle + Lacerate is the standard rotation for aggro-generation in bear form.  NOTE: One point here gets you the Mangle talent, then there are three trainable levels for both bear and cat.

My Selection strategy recommendations
You need 25 points in Feral to move into Heart of the Wild and beyond, so your first point can go anywhere you like, although I recommend either Shredding Attacks or Savage Fury.

Once you’ve got your 25 points, fill out Heart of the Wild.  You get bonuses to all forms, and I just can’t see moving past it until you have it maxed.  With 5 points there, three talents open up: Survival of the Fittest, Primal Tenacity and Leader of the Pack.  Use your own judgement as to which could benefit your more (or your party).  If you’re grouping a lot, then your party might appreciate Leader of the Pack.  However, if you’re getting crit, stunned or feared a lot it might make sense to pick the other two.  Personally, I’d pick Leader of the Pack (again, assuming I’m grouping a fair amount).  The increased damage should really help your instancing success.  From there, I’d go with my three points in Survival of the Fittest.

After Survival of the Fittest, I’d hold off on Improved Leader of the Pack for a while as I don’t feel it’s a strong as some of the other talents.  My next point goes into Primal Tenacity.  Then again you have a choice.  You can fill out Primal Tenacity or move into Predatory Instincts.  The question is really whether you want additional resistance to stun and fear or want to increase your critical strike damage bonus.  Make your decision, then fill out both on your own schedule until Mangle comes available.

Take Mangle as soon as you can.  For one talent point, you get a pretty damage generator, a great threat generator, and an ability that compliments any bleed effect.  Don’t forget to visit your friendly local Druid trainer for your three ranks in both bear and cat.  After Mangle, fill in whatever is left of Primal Tenacity and Predatory Instincts, then Improved Leader of the Pack.

Here’s the final 61 point build.  Have fun!

Forms Bar

November 19, 2007 Posted by | Strategy - Feral, World of Warcraft | 5 Comments

Know your finishing moves – Repost.

Big Butt Bear Blogger recently posted an overview of basic approach strategies, I think mostly for cat.  I can’t seem to find the exact post (if anyone can send me the link, I’ll update here), but it got a lot of good comments.  Nothing ground-breaking in the post, just good common sense advice and explanations, which is always welcome.

Well that post reminded me of one I did a while back on our three cat finishing moves.  I tried to make it a basic overview of each and some suggestions on when to use them.  Inspired by B4, I’m updating and reposting that original article below.

Forms Bar

Druids in cat form now have three finishing moves to choose from: Maim, Ferocious Bite, and Rip.  While all three are similar in they scale with combo points, energy, and attack power and they do significantly more damage than a normal attack, they are all very distinct.  The wise druid will understand the differences and have a strategy for when to employ each.

We get Maim at level 62:

“Finishing move that causes damage and incapacitates the target.  Any directly damaging attack will revive the target.  Causes more damage and lasts longer per combo point.”

Additional damage and stun duration is as follows:
1 point : 193-216 damage, 2 sec
2 points: 277-300 damage, 3 sec
3 points: 361-384 damage, 4 sec
4 points: 445-468 damage, 5 sec
5 points: 529-552 damage, 6 sec

This is a great new ability for us Druids and one that took me a while to get into my rotation.  Once I started using it frequently, I’ve found I couldn’t live without it.   It’s definitely one of my emergency buttons, especially in PvE.  Here’s some thoughts/ideas:

  1. Bleed effects and Damage over Time (DoT) effects continue throughout the stun.  Prowl to your target, Pounce, Mangle, Rake, then Maim will continue to do significant damage while your target is stunned.  If you want the maximum DoT, then rotate Mangle and Rake until you have 5 combo points.
  2. If you’re in a particularly tough fight, then save your 5 combo points and hit Maim if you need to pop out and heal.  Don’t forget to turn off your auto-attack as that will break the stun.
  3. As cat’s this is really our only way to interrupt spell casting. 
  4. If you don’t need to heal, use the 6 seconds to regain energy.  Depending on where your ticker is when you maim, you can regain up to 80 energy, while continuing to do DoT damage.
  5. If you’re really getting beat on, then Maim and hit Dash for a quick getaway.

So Maim is a great way to buy some time for healing or energy regeneration.  It can be used to interrupt spells or as an escape mechanism.  The important thing to remember before popping Maim is to turn off your attack so you don’t break the stun.  If you’re in a group, you’ll probably want to create a macro that notifies your group that a Maim is coming.

Ferocious Bite
Ferocious Bite has 6 trainable ranks, the highest at level 63:

Finishing move that causes damage per combo point and converts each extra point of energy into 4.1 additional damage.  Damage is increased by your attack power.”

Additional damage per combo point:
  1 point  : 259-292 damage
  2 points: 428-461 damage
  3 points: 597-630 damage
  4 points: 766-799 damage
  5 points: 935-968 damage

As if that damage isn’t enough, Ferocious Bite also generates even more damage based on your energy, converting each point of energy into 4.1 additional damage.  So that’s a bonus of 410 damage at full energy.  Plus, damage is increased by your attack power.  For pure damage generation, nothing beats Ferocious Bite.

Ferocious Bite is “my closer”, especially against casters.  Pounce, Mangle, Rake/Claw to 5 combo points.  Usually, I’m up to 5 combo points with only 3 moves (via Primal Fury adding extra combo points on crits).  At that point I’ll take a quick look at where the mobs life is at.  For a caster, anything around 25% I stand a pretty good chance of killing off with a Ferocious Bite.  If I’m doing okay, I may wait a little longer for a sure kill.  If I’m getting beat on, then I’ll pop the Bite off and hit Tiger’s Fury to finish them off quickly.  If I’m having really good luck against the mob, I may even Bite with only 4 combo points.

 My thoughts/ideas on using Ferocious Bite:

  1. Use as your closer for a big one-time hit of damage on casters.  For maximum damage, wait for 5 combo points and full energy, however if you must choose one, go for full combo points over energy.
  2. Investigate enhancing talents to take full advantage of Ferocious Bite – Primal Fury and Sharpened Claws together can get you to 5 combo points very quickly.
  3. Ferocious Bite is for one big pop of damage and is suited more for short encounters.  For longer duration damage, see Rip below.

So, Ferocious Bite is our best way to generate a one-time hit of large damage, based on both combo points and energy.  There are some supporting talents you should investigate.  Save Ferocious Bite as your closer if you don’t need Maim or Rip.

Rip has 7 trainable ranks, the highest at level 67:

Finishing move that causes damage over time.  Damage increases per combo point and by your attack power.”

The additional damage table for Rip looks like this:
  1 point  : 300 damage over 12 sec.
  2 points: 498 damage over 12 sec.
  3 points: 696 damage over 12 sec.
  4 points: 894 damage over 12 sec.
  5 points: 1092 damage over 12 sec.

So, if you do the math, you may think that Ferocious Bite is better than Rip at the highest level of each.  5 combo points of rip buys you 1092 extra damage, and 5 combo points of Ferocious Bite (with 100 energy) gets you 1345 – 1378 extra damage.  They are, however, two completely different finishing moves, both with plusses and minuses.  Ferocious Bite is good for a high burst of damage to finish off a mob.  Rip is DoT for long boss fights.  Also Rip is bleed damage and as such can be enhanced by Mangle, and you don’t have to wait for full energy to get the full damage effect.

I use Rip primarily in longer fights where I want to maintain DoT on a boss or elite.  With the Mangle buff to bleed damage, and DoT not breaking stun effects, it’s a great way to put sustained damage on a target. 

So use your preferred sequence of attacks to combo up to 5, Rip your target, then make sure to keep Mangle applied for maximum damage.

So our three finishing moves are all about damage, but each has their own special characteristics and situations where they are best used.  If you find yourself using one or two of them exclusively, then I suggest you force yourself to experiment with all three.  It will make you more versatile and a better damage dealer all around.

Final Thoughts

  • Look for items that increase your attack power.  This will add even more damage to Ferocious Bite and Rip.
  • When in a group, use an aggro add-on like KLH Threatmeter to make sure you don’t grab aggro from your tank with all your damage.
  • In general use Maim to interrupt, Ferocious Bite for final blows, and Rip for Damage over Time.
  • If you’re going for damage, then investigate talents that compliment these finishing moves.

Forms Bar

November 6, 2007 Posted by | Strategy - Feral, World of Warcraft | 10 Comments

Take it for a ride; let me know what you think

I was able to finish up a piece of my mini-site for enhancements research, so I figured I’d publish it before my week-long break and get some feedback.

You should see a new page listed at the top of the blog now – Buffing Up.  Click the link to get an overview of what I’m trying to accomplish with this section.  Basically, I’ll be giving you lots of different views into the various items beyond gear that can augment your stats and effectiveness during gameplay.  Specifically, Buffing Up will have three sections: Consumables, Enchantments and Gems.

Probably most of the stuff you’ll find is things you already know about, or maybe you’ll find a little surprise you weren’t aware of.  Either way, I find myself continually researching ways to enhance particular stats or slots, so I thought there might be some value in putting all those searches in one place.

The Enchantments section is open for business, and I’d like your feedback.  Is this useful?  What have I forgot?  What should be done differently?  Really – you won’t hurt my feelings, let me know what you think (although a little praise now and then feels pretty good too…).  I’ve turned off comments on the pages in this new section, so give me your feedback via this post, or the contact form on the About page.

I sincerely hope this is of value to you, and I hope to build out the other two pages soon.

Forms Bar

June 29, 2007 Posted by | Enchants, Online resources, Strategy - Balance, Strategy - Feral, Strategy - General, Strategy - Resto, World of Warcraft | 3 Comments

Feral PvE Build – Second 20 Points

In my first post in this series, I gave you some thoughts on how to spend your first 20 talent points on a feral PvE build.  I’ve received some positive feedback, especially on the increased survivability with Nature’s Focus.  Let me just repeat some key points to keep in mind as you read this series:

  1. Remember this is a pre-BC, PvE, mainly solo build.  We will be examining how to change this build for BC and more Instancing later.
  2. I am NOT the ultimate authority on Druid Ferals.  Not by a long stretch.  Actually, I don’t think anyone is.  So, take my posts as one opinion, evaluate, mull over, do your research – then spend your points where you think they should go. 
  3. Have fun!  You’re playing, in my opinion, one of the most fun classes in the game.  If you’re not having fun, then you’re either taking it too seriously or you should switch classes.

There – that’s out of the way.

You’ll receive your second 20 talent points levelling from 30 to 49.  You’ve graduated to a certain extent.  More instances are opening up for you, and the mobs and zones you are facing are increasing in difficulty.  By now you should have experimented with your different forms and become comfortable with all of them, perhaps even settling on a favorite.  With these 20 new talent points, we’re going to get you free rage/energy, a stun mechanism, more damage, more dodge and the pulling mechanism you will use when you become your guild’s elite tank in BC dungeons!

Sound good – let’s get to work.

We’ll be finishing up our work in the Resto tree this time around.  First, Omen of Clarityis a talent to take as soon as you can get it.  With this talent, each melee attack has a chance of proc’ing a special buff that makes your next damage or healing spell free.  This applies to all forms, so that’s a freebie in bear, cat and caster.  This is a fantastic talent, amazing even more so that it’s only one talent point.  There are lots of articles around the web with studies on how often it procs.  The ones that say it happens around 2-3 times a minute seem about right to me.

Lastly in the Resto tree, let’s finish out the last two points of Naturalist.  We had three points in it last time for an extra 6% damage in all forms, these last two points will raise that to 10% damage.  Not bad at all.

Switching over to Feral, we need to take a few more points to get to tier 3.  I’m not personally a big fan of Brutal Impact; an extra second of stun for 2 talent points just never sounded that great to me.  No, I’m going to send you back to the top of the tree to take 5 points in Ferocity.  The discount to Rage/Energy doesn’t sound like a lot, but it will add up over time.  Remember you also have Omen of Clarity procc’ing a couple times a minute, so you are going to be able to use special moves a lot longer now than you could before.

Now we’re going to buy all of Tier 3: Feral Swiftness, Feral Charge, and Sharpened Claws.  With Feral Swiftness, we’re not so interested in the increased movement speed as we are the 4% dodge for just two talent points.  This is phenomenal payback and 4% dodge will only pay larger and larger dividends as you progress toward and into end-game.  Feral Charge gets you a stun mechanism and a way to quickly re-engage a target that has moved away.  Sharpened Claws is simple: more crits = more damage = more combo points = more damage.  ‘Nuff said.

With our last 5 points, we’re going to take Predatory Strikes and Primal Fury.  Predatory Strikes increases our attack power by 150% of our level, so it will scale nicely.  Primal Fury generates free rage or combo points when you score a critical hit.  Primal Fury along with the extra 6% to crit from Sharpened Claws is a great combination.

With the one talent point we’ve got left, we’re going to take Faerie Fire.  This gives you the feral version of the ranged spell you may have been using in caster form.  Having access to Faerie Fire in feral form is great: you don’t have to switch out to cast it, you get the same armor reduction as in caster form (with trainable ranks), and Faerie Fire lets us Bear perform as tanks as FF can be used as a pulling mechanism.

So, how to take your points?

I’d take Omen of Clarity right away – the proc is fairly frequent and this is just a great talent to have.  (Don’t forget you have to cast this one every once in a while). 

After Omen, I’d fill in Ferocity for the rage/energy discount, then start to fill in Tier 3 of the Feral tree, delaying Feral Charge if you want – I didn’t use it much soloing; it’s of more use in instances.  Anytime you feel your damage needs a boost, jump over and complete Naturalist, but I don’t think there is any rush on that one.

From there, you’ll want to move right into Predatory Strikes and Primal Fury – they’re both great talents so just pick the one you want more when you get a level.  Personally, I’d take Faerie Fire as soon as I could, but you can wait on this one if you like as you can still cast it and switch into form.

Here’s the final 40 point build.  Have fun!

Forms Bar

June 11, 2007 Posted by | Strategy - Feral, World of Warcraft | 1 Comment

Stealthing Steamvaults – Second Kara Key Fragment

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I’m on my way to Shatt to turn in The Second and Third Fragments after soloing the second fragment in The Steamvaults.  It really wasn’t that hard and with decent gear you should be able to do it to.

The stealth to the Arcane Container was the easy part.  Once you enter the instance, you’ll turn right and head down a ramp.  At the bottom of the ramp are two Coilfang Warriors.  You’re going to be tempted to squeeze between them.  I didn’t try that and I’m guessing it’s suicide.  Instead, head to the left and prowl between the left hand wall and the lamp.  Stay glued to the left wall as you make a slight turn to the right to go behind the left hand warrior.  It will  hiss at you, but you’ll be fine.

Now, come up over the rise still hugging to the left.  You’ll be facing a room with all kinds of mobs.  Basically, you’re going to be staying towards the left hand side, splitting between the groups of mobs – walking through the water.  You’ve got to time three patrols – one of two Naga, and two other patrols of water elementals.  It’s really not that hard.

As you head forward on the left hand side, you’ll see you’re coming up to some bluish colored Naga at the entrance to a ramp.  You want to bear to the left of the entrance, go up and over the side of the ramp, and you’ll see a lake in front of you with some Naga hanging around to the left.  The Arcane Container is in that lake to the left.

Now here’s where the real strategy comes in.  I hate to admit it, but I died about 5 times trying to kill the Guardian to get the key. 

The first mistake I made was trying to fight him underwater.  Unless you’ve got some Nagrand Cherries still lurking around in your backpack, shifting to aquatic form and getting your breath back just takes too much time and you get beat on too much.  I had much better luck drawing the Guardian back to the ledge I jumped into the water from.

The second mistake I made was fighting in cat form.  I was thinking the damage would just burn him down quick.  Well it doesn’t – he’s an elite with decent hit points and in cat I was just taking too much damage. 

The third mistake was listening too much to the comments on Wowhead.  One poster pointed out the Guardian was a beast and so could be Hibernated.  They recommended switching to Caster gear, hibernating the Guardian and burning him down with Starfire.  Well, this guy must be a much better caster than me, cause that strategy sucked the worst for me.

No, I finally got the Guardian in Bear form.  I just swam underwater to get in range and drew him out with Faerie Fire.  I swam back to the ledge and fought him there.  You’re getting hit for around 700 damage a pop during this time, but not having to worry about breath is worth it.  Once I got to land, it was a no-brainer.  My rage built up pretty quick and I waited to see how quickly my health was going down to see if I needed to save it for a Frenzied Regeneration or not.  It wasn’t going down too bad, so I got a Mangle and 5 Lacerate in place before letting some more build back up.  I then popped a Frenzied Regen to get my health back up.  When it was done, I hit Enrage to get my rage back, and went back to my Mangle/Lacerate strategy, which took the Guardian down just fine.  Don’t forget to keep your Fairie Fire and Demoralizing Roars active at all time also.

So – grats to me on my key frag.  I flew to Shat and turned it in.  Now it’s Old Hillsbrad, then Black Morass, then Kara with my guild.  Something to do this weekend…

Forms Bar

May 23, 2007 Posted by | Instances, Strategy - Feral, World of Warcraft | 16 Comments

Shattered Halls

I got to go on my first Shattered Halls run last night.  I was excited to go – I’d heard it was a good instance and I had a couple quests for completion inside.  It was also predominantly a guild run, so I was among friends.  I was a little nervous though, as I had also heard that SH was a tough instance, and I was main tank.

I’m happy to say the run went well.  We finished just under 2 hours, so pace was on par.  We didn’t have any wipes, but did have a few deaths here and there mostly on bosses.  I’m also very pleased to report I tanked the entire instance with no issues.  It was a lot of fun and a great learning experience. 

For as much as I had heard this was a tough instance, we really didn’t encounter too many problems.  Could be we had a great group (or maybe just a great tank??!!??).  Our group composition was me as tank, a paladin as off-tank, another pallie as healer, a mage and a hunter.

Everyone did a great job – heals were well-timed and I didn’t die once (always a good thing).  It was nice having a pallie as an off-tank; not only was he a very capable tank, but he could also heal himself, taking a lot of stress off the main healer.  The mage did a good job on crowd control and dps.  I’m not sure what spec the hunter was as he was the only non-guildie in the group, but he did a good job of pet control.  Everyone was pretty good at watching aggro.  There are some big pulls in here and if you start blasting away too quickly, things can get out of hand quickly.

I’m not going to go into instance strategy per se here as the wowwiki link has all of what I would say in the general instance overview.  If you read that as prep, and have a good leader, then I don’t think this instance should pose too much of a problem for your group.

This is a great instance for Honor Hold rep – I made Honored during the run.  There are a lot of elites and they all seem to give 12 rep, trash is 1 rep and the bosses were a couple hundred.  All in all, I’d guess you’d easily get 1,000 – 1,500 rep for a run.  The two quests I had, Pride of the Fel Horde and Turning the Tide, gave 250 and 500 rep respectively, along with decent gold.  The feral rewards for Turning the Tide weren’t upgrades for me, so I took the Mantle of Vivification, which was a decent upgrade for my healer set.

During the run there were plenty of opportunities to practice my tanking abilities.  This instance offers several 5 and 6+ mob pulls so the stakes are high and good execution of strategy is imperative.  I had several revelations throughout the run:

  • Faerie Fire as a pulling mechanism works quite well.  However, it doesn’t do squat if a party member has pulled aggro off one of the mobs you had under control.  Therefore, always make sure to keep your eyes open and have plenty of rage saved to have options for getting that mob back under control.
  • Swipe is a great way to keep multiple mobs under control, especially if other party members are focus-firing on your main target.  On one large pull, the group leader asked me to keep 3-4 mobs under control.  With the main target in the middle of that group, I just FF’d the target, hit a Demoralizing Roar when they got close to collect them up, then started spamming Swipe.  I was able to keep all 4 mobs under control for the entire fight (obviously, the rest of my party had the discipline to only attack only my main target.  Swipe alone won’t keep a non-main target under control if someone else starts bashing on it).
  • People always say rage management is key, and I definitely agree.  However, I have to say that rage generation has not been an issue for me in most of the 70+ instances; it certainly wasn’t during this run as in most fights I had 70+ rage for the majority of the fight.  I think where good rage management comes in is 1) at the start of the fight where you only have leftover rage or Enrage to jump start the fight; make sure you have a plan that correlates with the amount of rage you actually have, and 2) effective use of cooldown abilities.  In particular, I’m thinking of Growl (10 second cooldown) and Challenging Roar(10 minute cooldown).  These are your safety nets for getting a runaway mob back under control and if they are on cooldown your job is harder.
  • Don’t forget about your job.  Your job is to keep multiple mobs under control, not do damage and definitely not to keep just this one mob under control.  It’s too easy to get fixated on that ugly brute standing right in front of you and let other mobs wander off.  Spam some Swipes every once in a while.  And if one of your mobs wanders off, go pick him up!  You’ve already got good aggro on your main target, hit the tab key to get the wanderer targeted, go after it, hit it a couple times, then re-group. 
  • Remember Frenzied Regeneration?  You can really help your healer out by popping this in a big fight.  Two of the boss fights last night, I had no trouble holding aggro and was generating a ton of rage.   Due to adds, our main healer was having to heal a couple other party members besides me.  Pop a FR, and while it might not keep you alive, it should take some pressure off that healer and help their mana situation.  With only a 3 minute cooldown, this ability can be used often throughout a run.  Just be sure to communicate to the healer you are firing it off so they factor that into their heals.

So there are my observations tanking last night.  It was a very fun run and I felt very satisfied with my performance.  I would recommend you read the wowwiki overview and most of it seems right in line with our experience.  We didn’t do anything tricky with the final boss – Kargath Bladefist – as far as positioning.  We were all in the ring and the one pally was focused on the incoming adds, with help from the hunter.  The downside was that Bladefist didn’t burn down real fast so we had to withstand about 4 of his “ping pong” attacks where he hits everyone in the ring for around 1000 damage.  At the end I believe we only had one member down. 

The best part was Bladefist dropped Wastewalker Gloves, part of a rogue set but a definite upgrade for my kitty (and highly rated on the gear list).  Since I was the only leather wearer in the group, it was a no-brainer.  Nice loot for me!

Forms Bar

May 18, 2007 Posted by | Druid Gear, Instances, Strategy - Feral, World of Warcraft | 6 Comments

Feral PvE Build – First 20 Points

For all of you lower level Druids out there (if there still are any), I’m starting a 4 part series on building a feral druid from the ground up.  My pre-BC post “How to Build a Druid” still gets quite a few hits and it really needs replaced.  In fact, the talent build link in it doesn’t even work since BC came out and all the talent calculators got updated.  That’s just embarassing.

So I guess it is time to tackle this one.  Instead of just spew out my talent build and why I chose it, I thought I’d approach this in four chunks:  first 2o talent points, second 20, third 21, and post-70.  As I was thinking through what I wanted to say (and looking at my own build), I think there are some interesting decisions points throughout the 61 point spectrum that makes sense to discuss separately.  Then once you hit 70 and start thinking about end-game, you look at your talent build again with a different set of criteria.

Starting out as a Druid can be pretty exciting.  During your first 29 levels you learn Bear form (level 10), Cat form (level 20) and Aquatic form at level 16 (if you do the research and survive the dangerous trip to distant zones to recover some quest items).  You also get some introductory skills to go along with Bear and Cat that introduce you to the flavor of both of these forms.  And since the forms are new to you, you’re probably still fighting a lot with weapons and spells – levelling your weapons and getting used to your spells and forms.  All in all, a very fun time as a Druid with something new every couple of levels.

At level 10 when you get your first talent point, if you were like me, you probably were so excited you just clicked the first thing that sounded good.  However, that first point should be given some thought (along with the 10 or so that follow) as there are some real choices to be made even just starting out as a feral Druid.

What I would really advise you to do is to flip over to your favorite talent calculator (I currently like WoWHead’s) and check out the talents you can choose.  And not just the first couple tiers – take a look well into the talent trees.  There may be a talent down in there you really want to get to fast – if so, make sure to select the talents above it first.

Also, please keep in mind that my posts represent just one opinion.  There is no “right” build – just choices and tradeoffs.  So while this is a fun exercise to go through as I need to re-build Amanna’s talent points, use your own brain and make your own decisions.

Well, the first big decision comes right off the bat with your first talent point.  There are a couple great talents in our first tier, and some real tradeoffs. 

Things aren’t too bad in the Feral table – you just have a choice between Ferocity, which reduces the rage/energy cost of your feral form special attacks by up to 5, and Feral Agression, which not only reduces your enemies attack power, but increases the damage of your Ferocious Bite.

Over in the Resto tier, you have a choice between Improved Mark of the Wild and Furor.  Improved Mark of the Wild, increases the effects of your Mark of the Wild and Gift of the Wild by a percentage, and Furor gives you a chance to gain rage or energy when shifting into Bear or Cat.

Here’s where looking at the next tier of talents and having somewhat of a plan can come into play.  You’ll get your first twenty talent points on the way to level 29.  I don’t know about you, but during that timeframe, I was still learning a lot about being a druid and trying to stay alive.  I was also doing a lot of mixed form attacking: I’d root the enemy, hit them with a couple spells, let the root do some damage, then shift to bear or cat when the root gave way to finish them off. 

So looking at the second tier of talents at this level, I’m looking for talents that either help me stay alive or finish off enemies more quickly.  There are a couple talents in Tier 2 that can really help both of these goals.

Thick Hide in the Feral tree, gives you a percentage bonus to armor from you gear.  The nice thing about this talent is it will scale with your gear, so the benefit will just keep getting bigger as you get better gear.

In the Resto tree, you’ll find Naturalist and Nature’s Focus.  The Naturalist talent is one that gives you two benefits – it reduces the time it takes to cast Healing Touch, and it increases the damage you do with physical attacks in all forms.  Nature’s Focus, in my mind, is an indespensible talent for all levels and is one of our panic buttons.  It reduces the chance of interruption due to damage while casting our most popular healing spells.  So when your in Bear or Cat form, and you’re getting the crap beat out of you, you can shift out and get a healing spell off a lot more quickly with this talent that without. 

Feel free to research the other talents in Tier 1 and 2, but I think these are the best talents for you with your first 20 talent points.

Now, how to distribute them?

In Tier 1, I would put 5 points into Feral Agression in the Feral tree to lower the attack power of my enemies as much as I can with Demoralizing Roar.  The nice thing about Demoralizing Roar is it affects all nearby enemies, so if you’re getting attacked by multiple mobs, the attack power of all of them are lowered.  I wouldn’t choose Ferocity this early as I feel you will still be learning your forms and probably fighting in caster form with spells and weapons a lot also.  I just feel the other talents offer more benefit at this point.

Over in Resto, I’d put 5 points into Furor, to guarantee a decent amount of starting rage/energy when shifting into Bear or Cat.  As I said above, during these levels I was rooting and casting a lot before directly attacking a mob, so without this talent I would have been starting with no rage or energy.  Having a kickstart was great.  I haven’t really done that math, but most feral discussions I’ve read about talents generally pan Improved Mark of the Wild as not offering enough payback for the talent points.  At early levels I agree, although I plan on revisiting that argument now that I’m level 70 – I think the payback may be there.

Moving to Tier 2, the first priority at this level is to get 5 points into Nature’s Focus.  This is the “save your butt” talent, so take all 5 points and take them early.  After that, I’m going to split my last 5 points between Thick Hide and Naturalist – I’m going with 3 points into Naturalist for extra damage, and 2 points into Thick Hide for an armor bump.  Your armor isn’t going to be that great at this point, but it’s all relative right?  The mobs you’ll be fighting won’t have much better armor either.  So this little bump will give you an edge on most mobs, and help draw you even for boss fights or higher level mobs.

Over in Feral, there’s no need at this point for Feral Instinct as you’re probably not looking to generate more threat yet, and it’s just too much to pay for increased prowling.  Brutal Impact gives you a longer duration to your stun effect of Bash – but again, too little bang for the buck in my book.  Over in Resto, the only other talent is Natural Shapeshifter, which reduces the mana cost for shapeshifting.  You will probably being doing a lot of shapeshifting, so this may sound interesting, but again, I don’t think it is worth it at this point.

Here’s how I’d approach assigning those 20 talent points:  5 points in Feral Aggresion first to go along with getting your Bear form.  After that, I’d pick up the 2 points in Thick Hide, then move on to 5 points in Furor.  Reverse those two if you want the free rage earlier, but I’m going with the armor bump as soon as I can get it.  After those two, I’m putting my 5 points in Nature’s Focus to be able to heal myself, then finish with the 3 points in Naturalist.  If you don’t find yourself getting into trouble a lot, then feel free to take Naturalist for the extra damage first, or flip-flop points between the two.

Here’s the first 20 point build on the WoW Head Talent Calculator.  Good luck.

May 13, 2007 Posted by | Strategy - Feral, World of Warcraft | 8 Comments

The Shadow Labyrinth

I went on a run through The Shadow Labyrinth, or Shadow Labs, last night.  I had just got on and was looking for something to do.  A guild member was looking for dps help and I was looking to get my kitty some combat experience, so it was a fit.  The group came together pretty quickly and we were on our way.

This time around, we had a solid group.  2 Pallies, 1 Warrior, 1 Mage and me in feral cat. 

I had heard and read a lot of grumbling about this instance so I was very interested to see what it was like.  I had heard it was about a 2 hour instance.  What I didn’t factor in is that it was my first time in along with one of the other party members.  Three+ bleary-eyed hours later (getting to bed at 1 a.m. this morning), we finished up.  My opinion – overall, I loved the instance.

While Shadow Labs can be a humbling instance, I think it is thoroughly enjoyable.   I loved the scripts for the bosses, the layout flowed well, and gameplay overall was very fun.  Unlike Sethekk, in Shadow Labs I found the mobs to be relatively easy and the bosses very hard.  The scenery and atmosphere works together very well with the areas where the mobs are “worshipping” the boss just outright fun to watch.  I also think the animation effects and wandering patterns are some of the best I’ve seen also.

We started off pretty good and downed the first boss, Ambassador Hellmaw, with no problems.  He was nice enough to drop the Idol of the Emerald Queen for me.  While I don’t do a lot of healing, this is a very nice idol to compliment the druid Lifebloom, which I used a lot last time I healed.  There was nothing particularly special about the boss other than a lot of fears – but then getting feared isn’t exactly a one-time experience in this instance.

Heading around the corner, we got a Purification Staff drop off one of the trash mobs.  It was the “of the Beast” flavor if you follow the link.  The stats on it were almost identical to my Staff of the Four Golden Coins, but the feral attack power increase was a bump, so it was immediately equipped.  It’s always fun to get a drop in an instance that you can use right away. 

So I was off to a good start with two good drops.  That ended up being the majority of my bounty for the night, but I was very happy with two good drops (also got a few Spirit Shards and some sellable BoE items).

Around the corner was Blackheart the Inciter.  This big, two-headed, monster of a mob was the first in an almost church-like setting with various mobs in pews bowing and worshipping him.  What a spectacle.  It was actually fun to start pulling the different sets of mobs out of the pews and mowing them down.  Blackheart himself was a challenge and we did wipe twice on him before downing him.  Every 30 seconds or so he casts a full party mind control debuff that makes you all attack each other for around 10 seconds or so.  There are some good strategies on wowwiki, so be sure to follow the link to be prepared.  We did eventually get him down.  Nothing exciting on the drop.

You then come around the corner into another long chamber with mobs marching and paying homage to a boss.  In this case it was Grandmaster Vorpil, probably the most fun fight during the run.  Once you’ve cleared your way to Vorpil, the strategy we used was for our tank to kite him down the long hallway we had just cleared up.  During that time, everyone had DPS on him.  Once he gets to the end of the hallway, he teleports the entire group back to his platform.  You have to get off the platform immediately, as a Rain of Fire starts coming down that can do some serious damage.  Our tank then kited him the other way down a hallway while we were dps’ing all the way.  We did get teleported a second time, but was able to down Vorpil shortly after the second teleport.  I believe we only wiped once downing this boss.

During the entire fight though, Voidwalkers start to spawn.  I didn’t realize this last night, but from reading wowwiki, they heal Vorpil if they make it to him.  Strategy suggestions are to down the Voidwalkers as they start to appear.  We just ignored them and they never seemed to be an issue.

Vorpil gave us another “meh” drop.

We then made our way to the final boss, Murmur.  Murmur has without a doubt the coolest animation I have seen yet in the game and made the experience in his chamber completely immersive.  We cleared up to Murmur no problem, but just could not get him down and after three attempts gave up.  Nature resistance seems key here which we had not brought.  Murmur also has one of those abilities where he powers up then releases damage.  Wowwiki suggests getting out of the blast radius (Duh!) and I can tell you this is a very good idea.  What I found was that it was very hard to get out of radius in time.  Probably just a timing issue that will get better, but it was very frustrating.

With our gear at 0%, we ran back in one last time so everyone could get the First Key Fragment on the Karazhan attunement quest chain.  We then bid each other farewell, and (mercifully) called it a night.

So, my thoughts and observations on my first feral cat/dps run in a higher end BC instance?

It was a lot of fun and I did feel like I was contributing.  I was main dps assist for the tank so I just always targeted the mob he was on and helped bring them down.  Until I got killed in a couple key fights, I was basically tied with our Mage for second on the damage meters.  Being level 69 and not having great cat gear yet, I felt pretty good about the experience and my contribution.

What could have gone better?  Two things:

  1. Put simply – I died a lot.  It’s important to remember that you don’t have the armor or the hit points that you do in bear form, and you break a lot easier and faster.  This wasn’t a huge problem in mob pulls, but in boss fights, the special abilities made me feel much more vulnerable than I do as tank.
  2. It’s much more important as dps support to be on the correct mob.  If you’re on the wrong mob and draw aggro, you’re probably going to die and without the dps support you’re giving the tank, you may cause your group to wipe.  This did happen once last night and really drove home the point.  I got in the habit of hitting the function key for our tank, then the “F” (assist) key after every kill to make sure I was on the same target as our tank.  I don’t do a whole lot of macros, but that sure sounds like one I should create.

So, all in all I had a great time even though I’m a little tired this morning.  I would love to hear everyone else experiences – especially how you keep yourself alive in cat form in tough instances.

April 11, 2007 Posted by | Burning Crusade, Druid Gear, Instances, Strategy - Feral, World of Warcraft | 12 Comments

An apology, then weekend update 3/26

First of all I want to apologize.  I haven’t posted a whole lot over the last couple of weeks.  I have a couple personal issues at the moment that are eating up a lot of my focus and energy.  Most of the traffic to this blog seems to be hits on my Bartender 3 overview (go figure), but I know there are a handful of readers out there.  I’m still around and still plan on continued posting – it will probably just be at a slower pace for a while until some things get worked out.

That slower pace extends to my gameplay also.  I didn’t get any nighttime instance runs in over the weekend and therefore still don’t have my flight form.  I got a decent amount of soloing in on Sunday afternoon and got around 86% of the way there, but still 130,000 xp short.  I think one good instance run would put me over the top, but I’m just not sure when that will happen.  Plus, while the quests in Outland do rack up xp nicely, I find there are many more quests requiring a group.  If you aren’t lucky enough to be able to find help for these quests, then you may get to a point in a zone where all that’s left to you is grinding.  That’s where I am in Nagrand – 4 quests left, all which require a group. 

Sketh’lon Quest Series

So, for the past few days, I’ve been in Shadowmoon Valley.  I have to watch myself, because at level 67 I’m on the low end of experience to be in this zone.  Nothing too bad in ones and twos, but you can get in trouble pretty quickly too.

 I was able to finish off this series.  It looks long, but it’s not too bad.  You get it from the griffon commander at the Wildhammer Alliance outpost.  Here’s the start of the series.  The payoff was a nice pair of pants for tanking.  Nice armor and decent stats.

On the step The Rod of Lianthe – you can get the rod from any humanoid mobs.  So I just farmed the guys on the hill leading up to Eclipse Point.  Even here it was easy to attract multiple mobs, so be careful.  Also, the mobs around here have a very irritating ability – Blood Heal.  When they cast it, they get a slight debuff and their health goes back to 100%.  Very disheartening, especially when fighting two at once.  Once I realized what was going on, I tended to save more rage/energy to disrupt the ability when they started to cast it.  I didn’t kill enough of these to say whether bear or cat is better.

Once you get the key, head up the hill into the encampment.  Continue north and head up the steps to the raised area.  Unless you’re level 70 or prowling, you’re probably dead by now.  This place is packed and everyone seems to have a high aggro range.  Once up the stairs, turn left and the rod is in the locked chest.  If it looks like you can open it without aggroing the mobs to the left and right, you are correct.  First time in, I tried clearing mobs, attracted a crowd and got killed.  Second time in I just opened the chest and hearthed out. 

The other quest series I was working through was this somewhat shorter one.  Once you prove your worth by killing 10 of those Infernal Attackers outside Wildhammer, the Wing Commander outside the fort has you running back and forth to Legion Hold to do recon, build a bomb, and set it off.  It’s actually kind of a fun series.  I admit, coming up the hill into Legion Hold for the first time and seeing upwards of 100 Infernal Attackers in formation, gave me a bit of a pause.  It was a great spectacle though.

As a Druid, you should be able to finish off this quest fairly quickly with Prowl.  Other classes have to fight their way up to Legion Hold each time they go back.  Just switch to cat and prowl up the hill.  Nothing will attack you, but stay alert as there are a couple of wanderers on the path that could give you some problems.

Once you get to the step where you need to disguise yourself as a box, here’s two helpful hints.  One – the communication device is up the hill then turn right.  It’s the purple glowy thing on the platform.  Two – kill the Terrormasters before trying to use the disguise.  It looks like they are out of aggro range but they aren’t.  Personally, I had a hard time with these guys in bear form – I kept getting feared and ran into other mobs.   Once I switched to cat, they went right down and I didn’t get feared once.  I also used Maim towards the end to stun them for a while.  Not sure if that helped, but I’m trying to get practice using it.

Be careful on the step Setting up the Bomb.  The power core is in a lake surrounded by Mutant Horrors.  They hit somewhat hard and seem to have a very high aggro range.  Combine that with the fact that they are fairly dense around the lake and I found myself fighting 2 or 3 of them fairly regularly.  Only died once, but with three of them on you, it can get bad quickly.  Finally hooked up with a Warlock that was on the same quest and things got a lot easier.

The drop of the weekend I got in Legion Hold.  It was the Fel Strength Elixir recipie.  I was with that Warlock and luckily he wasn’t an Alchemist, so I got it.  Not sure I would use the elixir, but my Auctioneer tells me it goes for around 5G a piece!  W00t, that’s a nice find.  I’m starting to run across some Nightmare Vine from time to time, so I’ll actually be able to make some of this.

The only other major thing I did was to re-arrange my inventory.  A while back when I switched to Alchemy, I bought one of those herb bags.  They have a larger number of slots, but can only hold herbs.  Well, I’ve gone back to a normal bag.  Fewer slots, but what I found is that you really don’t carry around that many herbs to make the specialized bag worth it.  You know how it goes – you really only carry the highest level herbs of the area you are in as those are the one that generally correspond to the recipies you know.  That, combined with all the gear I’m carrying to support 3 different outfits, and I need all the bag space I can get.

I’ve had my eye on one of those 20 slot Netherweave Bags, but they are going for around 300G on my server.  Instead, I found an 18 slot bag for around 30G which seemed like a pretty good deal. 

That’s about it for now.  I’m about 1/2 done with the post on consumables and maybe I can get it done over lunch today. 

March 26, 2007 Posted by | Druid Gear, Strategy - Feral, World of Warcraft | | Leave a comment