Author Archives: Juvenate

Warlords of Draenor Alpha Notes: First Impressions

warlords of draenor

Wow it has been a while hasn’t it? My last blog post was back in September. I apologize for the lack of updates or responses to comments. I’ve been quite busy with my personal life between work and school. I had even taken a small break from the game about 2 months ago, but now I’m back and fully-committed!

So what exactly has happened between my last blog post and now? Well, a whole boatload of information has been tossed our way. The new World of Warcraft expansion “Warlords of Draenor” is seemingly upon us and soon we will be experiencing Outland….before it became Outland!

Blizzcon dumped some information on us, but more recently, the Alpha patch notes were released with a whole bunch of changes that are noteworthy. You can find the full list here at the official website. I’ll be going over changes that are relevant to Druids, both of the Balance and Restoration variety.

Stat Squish

In order to bring things down to an understandable level, we’ve reduced the scale of stats throughout the game, back to as if they continued scaling linearly through questing content from levels 1 to 90. This applies to creatures, spells, abilities, consumables, gear, other items… everything. Your stats and damage have been reduced by a huge amount, but so have creatures’ health.

We’ll have smaller health pools, mana pools, and the numbers we see from damaging/healing abilities will be smaller, but we’ll still “feel” powerful relative to our level. Older content is going through the same squish, so you shouldn’t notice any difference compared to now. Smaller numbers tend to be easier to understand. It’s also good to know that you’ll be able to solo older content just as easily as you do now.

Raid Utility

Various classes bring various abilities that provide utility to parties and raids. We talked about one type of utility in the Buffs and Debuffs section, above. However, there are other types of raid utility, and it’s been in need of more attention. In general, raid utility, especially raid-wide defensive cooldowns, had grown too strong. So many classes and specializations had defensive cooldowns that we had to make raid damage extremely high, as raids would be stacking or chaining together multiple cooldowns. We’d like to return to a system where it’s the healers who heal through the scary moments, not the damage dealers, for example.

Druids

  • Tranquility is now only available to Restoration Druids.

This was needed. The amount of raid cooldowns available to non-healer roles was getting far out of hand and were essentially stepping on the healers toes. Everyone should bring meaningful utility, but not at the expense of trivializing another role. Non-Resto Tranquility was one of the worst offenders here since when paired with Heart of the Wild, it was just as powerful as a Restoration version. Yes, the cooldown was fairly long, but it allowed you to bring less healers on a few encounters. Let the healers worry about the raid’s survival, that’s their job.

Retuning Healing Spells

To that end, we’re buffing heals less than we’re increasing player health. Heals will be deliberately less potent compared to health pools than before the item squish. Additionally, as gear improves, the scaling rates of health and healing will now be very similar, so the relative power of any given healing spell shouldn’t climb so much over the course of this expansion. For those concerned about what this means for raiding, don’t worry—we’re taking all of these changes into account when designing Raid content for Warlords of Draenor.

Welcome back to triage healing! Many people consider the triage healing of early Cataclysm to be a nightmare, but not I. I absolutely loved it. It was full of decision-making. This should be what healing is about, making smart decisions. SoO healing is probably the worst tier I’ve ever healed in terms of enjoyment. It’s just not fun to spam your biggest heal 100% of the time without any repercussion.

Absorbs are also being toned down and the amount of instant-cast heals are being reduced. Wild Growth got hit with a 1.5 second cast-time, but I’m not too worried about it.

Periodic Effects

Ultimately, we’ve decided that snapshotting isn’t a productive mechanic for the game. The vast majority of periodic effects in the game that snapshotted no longer do so. The only exceptions are ones that do damage based on a percentage of a previous ability’s damage (such as the Ignite from a Fire Mage’s Fireball, or the periodic damage on a Windwalker Monk’s Blackout Kick), as they inherently act as a delayed damage multiplier to those abilities.Temporary effects which buff the damage or healing of other spells specifically will continue to do so for their lifetime; for example, Unleash Flame (which increases the damage of the shaman’s next fire spell by 40%), when used on a Flame Shock, will continue to increase the damage of the periodic effect for its entire lifetime, despite being consumed when the Flame Shock is cast.

  • Periodic damage and healing effects now dynamically recalculate their damage, healing, Critical chance, multipliers, and period on every tick.

A couple spells actually already update dynamically (Efflorescence, Healing Rain, etc.), this is just applying it to all periodic damage and healing abilities. While snapshotting added some level of “depth” to gameplay, it wasn’t necessarily skillful as addons typically told you when to use those abilities. In WoD, there will still be a level of attention needed even with the removal of snapshotting. You’ll still want to cast Starsurge or Pyroblast during those stat procs. It’s worth noting that a few exceptions still exist for snapshotting, Eclipse damage bonus being one of them.

This also opened up the opportunity to revise how we handle refreshing periodic effects. For the vast majority of spells and abilities, we had a standard rule that any refresh would add the new cast’s duration after the next tick of the existing effect. In simpler terms, you can refresh anywhere between the last and second-to-last tick of a DoT or HoT with no loss. Warlocks had a special passive that changed this logic to allow refreshing with no loss anywhere in the last 50% of a DoT. We liked the flexibility that this provided; though felt it was a bit too powerful. No longer tied to whole tick times, we chose to extend the mechanic that Warlocks had to all classes, but reduce it to 30%. Everyone can now refresh their periodic effects anywhere in the last 30% of the duration for full benefit, and no lost tick time.

  • Recasting periodic damage over time and healing over time effects that are already on the target now extends those effects to up to 130% of the normal duration of the effect.

This reduces the DPS loss of DoT/HoT overriding, which I am completely guilty. Rather than having to wait until right before the last tick goes out, you can refresh it a couple of seconds before instead without worry of a DPS/HPS loss.

One other thing I wanted to mention: There are no more Haste breakpoints. None. Zero. Zip. Gone. To make Haste more valuable to classes that may lean heavier on DoTs/HoTs they added “partial ticks” to the end of every duration. Your spells will still tick faster with Haste. This is also calculated dynamically if you get a Haste proc.

Now to the actual class changes for Druids:

Druid

  • Enrage has been removed.
  • Innervate has been removed. Mana costs for Druids have been adjusted accordingly.
  • Mangle (Cat Form) has been removed. Mangle (Bear Form) remains unchanged.
  • Nourish has been removed.
  • Shred is now available to all Druids.
  • Swipe (Bear Form) has been removed. Swipe (Cat Form) remains unchanged.
  • Symbiosis has been removed.

Symbiosis being removed it not surprising as the ability was too complicated. Nourish being removed is also no surprise. It was never used outside of low-level dungeons. I wasn’t expecting Innervate to be removed, however, in a recent update of Alpha notes they may be trying out some active mana regen mechanic that includes a new version of Innervate. Stay tuned for that.

  • Survival Instincts is now available to all Druid specializations. Survival Instincts now reduces damage taken by 70% (up from 50%) with a 2-minute cooldown (down from 3), and for Feral and Guardian specializations can have up to 2 charges (up from 1).

This is a new cooldown available with the removal of Symbiosis.

Overall, we are happy with Balance’s rotation, however there are a few tweaks coming through Draenor Perks. With the changes to Periodic Effects, we’re slightly modifying Eclipse to allow it to retain the gameplay it had before.

  • Eclipse now increases the damage of all Nature spells (or Arcane, depending on which Eclipse state is active) cast while it is active. This means that for example: a Moonfire cast during Eclipse will receive the Eclipse benefit through its whole duration, even after leaving Eclipse. The reverse also holds true; a Moonfire cast before entering Eclipse will not benefit from that Eclipse until it is recast.

This just explains the intent of allowing Eclipse to continue snapshotting Moonfire and Sunfire.

Balance Draenor Perks:

Allowing Starfall to hit an additional target is a boon for our cleave ability. The other big change is to our AoE. Wild Mushroom is making a comeback and in possibly a big way. The way they interact with Hurricane/Astral Storm to increase in damage could be quite potent. The other big change is how Hurricane/Astral Storm now generate Balance Power to keep our rotation “going”. A big problem Balance has is when we stop to channel our AoE, we end up stalling our rotation and it’s slow to pick back up again. This could be the solution we’ve been looking for.

Restoration Druids got a few changes as well. In Patch 5.4, a Glyph was introduced where you could choose to attach your Efflorescence to Wild Mushroom, instead of to Swiftmend. That was a rousing success, taken by nearly all Restoration Druids, and felt like a much better situation to us, so we decided to remove the glyph choice, and bake it in permanently. Secondly, while we are fine with the playstyle where a Restoration Druid blankets their Raid in Rejuvenations, the Swift Rejuvenation passive made that too strong, and also limited their scaling with Haste. We removed that passive, to encourage using other spells more, but still allow Rejuvenation blanketing as a playstyle choice.

  • Swift Rejuvenation has been removed.
  • Swiftmend no longer causes Efflorescence. Instead, Wild Mushroom (Restoration) now causes Efflorescence to appear at the mushroom’s location.

Glyph of Efflorescence is baked in baseline now. No surprise there. The removal of Swift Rejuvenation came as a surprise, but I can understand their reasoning.

Restoration Draenor Perks:

Rejuvenation is getting bumped to 15 seconds. This will be fairly signficicant to our output and somewhat offsets the loss of Swift Rejuvenation. Ironbark is getting more utility which is awesome. It’s now somewhat of a pseudo Pain Suppression/Guardian Spirit where it will reduce damage and increase healing done to the target. Living Seed is getting a bump in effectiveness, but I don’t see it being a huge boon for our output.

Overall I’d say I’m cautiously optimistic about the changes. There are definitely things they have greatly improved upon, but I’m still skeptical about some talent changes. Speaking of talent changes, I’ll be going over those in a future post since the talents will likely change 50 times before we hit Live. For now take a look at them over at Wowhead.

Surviving Patch 5.4

Patch 5.4
Tomorrow is the day! Patch 5.4 will hit Live servers tomorrow (assuming they are on time which they almost never are) and there are a bunch of changes coming our way.

Highlights:

  • Innervate now restores mana based on Spirit. It will restore at least 8% of your mana at all times. You’ll want at least 12,000 Spirit to get the same amount of mana from it as in 5.3.
  • Wild Mushroom is now limited to 1 Mushroom. It is now cast on a player instead of using a targeting circle (there is the Glyph of Sprouting Mushroom which you can use to get the targeting circle back). Moving the mushroom no longer resets the stored healing. It now has a 3 sec CD.
  • Genesis is a new spell learned at level 88. It speeds up applied Rejuvenation spells on players. This is a great spell to use when you have to top players off quickly. I wouldn’t recommend using it in a normal rotation, but instead as a tool to counter burst damage. Rejuv is still really powerful for constant ticking damage, so knowing when and when not to use Genesis will be really beneficial for you and your raid.
  • Living Seed effects can now stack, up to 50% of the casting Druid’s maximum health, and will no longer be consumed if the target is already at full health.
  • Nature’s Swiftness is now baseline. We get a new talent called Ysera’s Gift. Grab it. It’s worth nearly a 5% output increase and requires no input from you.
  • Dream of Cenarius has been redesigned. It now causes Wrath damage to heal a nearby target for 100% of the damage done (think Atonement).
  • Heart of the Wild now increases healing done by 25% for the duration of the cooldown.
  • Nature’s Vigil now increases healing by 12% and procs additionally healing off of single target healing spells (cleave heals). This is a huge buff to the talent and would be my #1 choice for 5.4.
  • Soul of the Forest was buffed yet again to 100% Haste (I have no idea why).
  • Glyph of Efflorescence replaced Glyph of Lifebloom (which was baked in baseline). Glyph of Efflorescence allows your Wild Mushroom to proc the Efflorescence effect and turns Swiftmend into a strong single target heal. This glyph will be mandatory for raiding Druids.

A few things to consider when going into 5.4:

  • 13163 Haste is achievable in Normal gear next tier. The next Rejuv breakpoint (from my own experience) is considered to be an output increase over 3043 + Mastery stacking. I highly recommend going for it. There happens to be a trinket called Prismatic Prison of Pride that makes it a bit easier to obtain.
  • My personal talent build next tier:

5.4 build

  • Swapping between Soul of the Forest and Incarnation will still depend on the encounter, but I’m fairly sure Soul of the Forest will come ahead for most encounters.
  • Nature’s Vigil is flat out better than Heart of the Wild if used on CD. The difference in output contribution is almost 50% in favor of NV.
  • In 5.4 when you get your 4-piece (when utilizing Soul of the Forest) DO NOT THROTTLE WILD GROWTH. For heavy raid damage just continue to cast Wild Growth on cooldown. I’ve done some math and have determined that throttling WG for SM w/4pc is an output loss.
  • In addition, I’ve updated my Gear Guide for 5.4.

If you have any questions feel free to comment here and I’ll do my best to answer them. Other than that, see you in 5.4!

We are recruiting!

My guild is currently recruiting ranged DPS and a healer for 25-man progression! We are a semi-hardcore guild that raids Wed./Thurs./Sun. from 8-11 EST on Elune-US. We are currently 1/13H and we are serious about progression, but we know how to have fun along the way! Realm/Faction transfers are half off this week, so if you are looking for a friendly, active guild to call home please apply in our forums at undyingresolution.com!

Resto Druid Gear Guide Update

I have updated my Resto Druid Gear Guide for 5.2 and have included boss drops in the new Throne of Thunder raid and the new world boss Oondasta. Take a look!

1-hand Weapon Options in 5.2

A fairly large 5.2 PTR build just dropped with a complete list of weapon options. I’ve been using Wowhead’s comparison tool to calculate which weapons will be BiS for Resto Druids. I’ve tinkered a bit with the stat weightings and made them as realistic as possible.

1-handstats

The picture above lists our available 1-hand Spirit options (these are 522 ilvl which are Normal-mode versions). In the Throne of Thunder we will have 2 Mace options, 1 Dagger, and for the first time in QUITE a while, a FIST weapon (hooray!).

*Be aware there is a non-Spirit Dagger that is available, but the tooltip for the Normal version is not accurate to the stats of the Heroic and Raid Finder versions. I’ll have to research this at a later date.

The stat weightings I used were:

Intellect- 100

Spellpower- 85

Haste (pre-3043 BP)- 80

Spirit- 75

Mastery- 55

Crit- 50

As you can see Torall, Rod of the Shattered Throne comes out ahead of our other options which are actually all quite even in stat allocation. It has significantly more Intellect while our other options have more secondary stats.

Personally, I think the Fist weapon has the best-looking model with Torall coming in second. The lightning they emit would look great with our T11 gear if you have a set laying around. I’m not really thrilled about the other 2 models.