Friday, February 26, 2010

Bear Form and Hit Rating

For all but World of Warcraft's healers, Hit Rating is a necessary evil. Bear Form tanking Druids are no exception. Below I will attempt to answer some of the common questions about Bear Form and Hit Rating as well as provide tips on how Druid tanks should deal with the stat.

What is the Bear Form Hit Cap?

For all classes, the "hit cap" is the amount of hit rating a particular character needs to never have an attack miss an endgame raid boss. This number is important to know not only because it gives you a target to reach to avoid losing threat because of misses, but also because picking up any hit rating beyond the cap is a complete waste.

For a Bear Form Druid, the Hit Cap is 263. Once you have reached 263 you should no longer see "Miss" pop up when you are attacking your enemies. To maximize your threat, you should try to clear this number. Also, keep in mind that if your hit rating is well above 263, you are not seeing an appreciable return on that stat and should see if you can change your gear around to bring your rating down to as close to 263 as possible.

What about Growl's Chance to Hit?

Growl is the exception to the Bear Form 263 Hit Cap. Currently, World of Warcraft characterizes Growl as a Spell rather than a physical ability like all of the other Bear Form powers. Where a physical attack only has an 8% chance to miss a raid boss, a spell has a 17% chance to miss. To remove the chance for a spell to miss requires a hit rating of 446. Removing Growl's chance to miss through hit rating would then require you to build an extra 183 hit into your gear. I am sure that I don't even need to tell you how impractical that is.

Spell hit rating is also calculated slightly differently than physical hit rating. I will not bore you with the numbers, but it works out to where 263 hit rating will leave your Growl with a 7% chance of missing. With regard to Growl, a Bear Form tank then has two options. First, they can simply tolerate the fact that Growl will miss 7% of the time (or slightly less if you are over the hit cap). Second, there is Glyph of Growl which, if you are at the 263 cap, will more than eliminate the chances that Growl will miss.

Does a Druid Bear Form Tank Need to Be Hit Capped?

The short answer is no. A Bear Form Druid can still be a capable tank while below the hit cap. However, a Druid tank needs to keep in mind that every miss generates zero threat and, depending on how far under the hit cap you are, misses can severely compromise your ability to maintain aggro.

Most Druid tanks make an effort to reach the hit cap. It increases your dps, helps your threat generation, and generally improves the quality of your tanking. So although you do not need to have 263 hit rating, you should if at all possible.

What if I have a Draenei in My Party?

The Draenei racial ability Heroic Presence generates a party wide buff that increases physical and spell hit chance by 1%. For Bear tanking purposes, this buff equates to 32.79 static hit rating. If you can always count on having a Draenei in your party, a bear tank would then theoretically need only 231 hit rating to be capped rather than 263. Keep in mind, however, the Draenei must be in your particular party, not just in the same raid.

What if I am Under the Hit Cap?

Obviously, the first line of defense for avoiding hit rating issues involves gear selection. Unfortunately, however, sometimes your ideal armor configuration will leave you a bit light on hit rating. Thankfully, there are several options for upping your hit chance beyond getting new gear.

The first option is through buff food. You can pick up 40 hit and 40 stamina by eating Worg Tartar or Snapper Extreme. If you take this route, keep in mind that you will be sacrificing the 40 agility you could have gotten from Blackened Dragonfin.

Your second option is to use an elixir, namely Elixir of Accuracy. This will give you 45 hit rating and you can pair it with either an Elixir of Mighty Defense or an Elixir of Mighty Fortitude to get full bang for your consumable buck. The sacrifice here is either the 1300 health you would otherwise get from a Flask of Stone Blood, or the 45 Agility from an Elixir of Mighty Agility should you usually choose to go the elixir route.

Your third option is to gem for hit. Rigid King's Amber grants 20 hit rating. If you choose this path, you would be missing out on the 30 stamina from a Solid Majestic Zircon or the 20 agility from a Delicate Cardinal Ruby. Again, the sacrifice is a point for point loss of agility. However, if you gem for hit, you might be able to counter some of that agility loss by picking up otherwise ignored gem color bonuses. Unfortunately, there is also the added cost of swapping in and out these expensive gems as your gear based hit rating fluctuates over time.

There are also a couple of item enhancements which can boost your hit. Enchant Gloves - Precision will boost your hit rating by 20, but you will miss out on the 20 agility from Enchant Gloves - Major Agility. You could also go with Enchant Boots - Icewalker for 12 hit rating and 12 crit, but at the cost of 16 agility from Enchant Boots - Superior Agility.

When considering these options, keep in mind that you do not need to push things too far. Obviously, clearing 263 should be your goal, but do not sacrifice your health, avoidance, or mitigation too much to get there. It is a delicate balancing act and you will need to figure out how far you want to push your hit.

What Bear Gear is there with Hit On It?

Unfortunately, you are going to have to wait for the answer to this one! Check back for my Guide to Feral Druid Hit Rating Gear which is coming soon.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Hot Video: Warcraft Boom De Yada

World of Warcraft has gotten the Discovery Channel treatment with the latest video from Irdeen Productions. This parody of the popular "I Love the Whole World" song from a recent line of Discovery Channel commercials features several recognizable faces from around the Warcraft universe singing about what they love (and hate). This one is worth more than one watch through:

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Taking Down Anzu

So, I am only about 10 kills deep in my quest for Reins of the Raven Lord and the daily trips out to tackle Anzu are already getting tiresome. I fly down to Sethekk Halls and prowl my way through the instance, being sure to give Darkweaver Syth a wide berth (he sees through stealth you know). Once I reach Anzu's chamber, regrettably at nearly the end of the level, it is time to clear the trash. Thankfully, you can ignore the back left group, but the others need to be dealt with. I always kill the Prophets first to avoid getting feared. Then it is finally time for Anzu.

The big bird is actually more trivial than the add packs that precede him. Occasionally he will stun you for six seconds using Paralyzing Screech and at 66% and 33% he will banish himself and call down a flock of ravens called "Brood of Anzu." Thankfully, the damage from the fight is not enough to make up for my Improved Leader of the Pack Aura and death is never really a threat. Even if my gear were weaker or I did not have a Feral Spec, he would still be doable because there is a brief "heal break" every time he summons his adds.

So far I have seen two greens and one epic gem. In case you were wondering, I leave the Spirit Shards behind. Here is hoping you will all see a picture of me atop my new Raven Lord mount sooner rather than later.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Is Glyph of Berserk Good for Bears?

Yes, yes it is. In fact, Glyph of Berserk is even better for Tanking Druids than it is for Feral dps. In Cat Form, your energy will be more than empty by the time your Berserk runs its normal duration. The benefit you gain from extending your Berserk effect by five seconds is then more than marginalized. In Bear Form, however, it is a different story.

Assuming you are taking heavy enough damage, you should be able to spam Mangle throughout the entire duration of your Berserk without worrying about rage. Glyph of Berserk would then give you an extra five seconds of spamming Mangle while it continues to hit three targets. The benefit from this varies according to your spec and situation, but is appreciable either way.

Berserk itself activates a 1.5 second global cooldown, so assuming no haste, you first Mangle drops at the 13.5 second mark. This allows for a total of 10 casts before Berserk expires without Glyph of Berserk and 13 with it. At least one of those casts will need to be used to refresh Lacerate, so you can spam out 9 and 12 Mangles respectively.

If you do not have any talent points in Improved Mangle, the spell will be on a six second cooldown and you would not be able to fit in another spell cast during the five extra seconds which would have benefited from Glyph of Berserk. If you did take the talent, you would be able to squeeze in one.

Assuming a single target, Glyph of Berserk then lets you squeeze in 3 extra Mangles every 3 minutes if you do not have Improved Mangle and 2 extra Mangles if you do. A nice boost, but nothing to write home about.

Now, however, let's assume multiple targets. When dealing with at least three targets, each Mangle during Berserk is functionally three Mangles. That means that the return from Glyph of Berserk becomes 9 additional Mangles without Improved Mangle and 6 with it when you use Berserk. Clearly, that is an appreciable boost to both your threat and damage per second.

Glyph of Berserk is then a great tool for increasing a Druid tank's damage and, by proxy, threat generation. It also carries the incidental benefit of 5 extra seconds of fear immunity. If you can afford to sack Glyph of Survival Instincts or Glyph of Growl for it, you might want to give this Glyph a second look.

Friday, February 12, 2010

A Tribute to My Strand Crawler

For this Friday's post, I figured I would do a tribute to one of my favorite pets: the Strand Crawler. For those of you who do not know, the Strand Crawler is a tiny fiddler crab pet that can rarely be found the Bag of Fishing Treasures you get from completing the level 80 Fishing Dailies.

I like him for a couple reasons. First, he is small. I find the exceptionally large pets to be a bit on the distracting side. Second, as he moves around he makes a soft clicking sound. You can definitely hear it, but it is just subtle enough to make everyone around you think: What is that noise? Lastly, he blows bubbles and yes it is as adorable as it sounds!

My only problem, I have not thought of a decent name for him yet. Obviously, "Strand Crawler" just isn't going to cut it. So far I have thought of Chett, Lefty, and Captain Markaloney, but I am not quite sold on any of them yet. Wanting for inspiration, I turn to you my readers for guidance! What should I name this little crustacean? Post your ideas in the comments below. The selected name wins the satisfaction of a job well done!

Who am I?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Warcraft Farming Subsidy Please

Yesterday, in The Joys of Farming, I talked about all the different kinds of farming which have been occupying my World of Warcraft play time as of late. Today, I would like to take a different approach and write about that farming which has fallen by the wayside. Be they ineffective, unnecessary, or just plain not fun you won't find me engaged in these repetitive tasks anytime soon.

Gold Farming

You do not need to seek out gold to build wealth in World of Warcraft. It is much more effective to simply make wise decisions with the gold and resources you will naturally accumulate through everyday play. Don't by crafted items. Instead buy raw materials and pay someone to craft it for you. Don't vendor everything. Selling certain items on the Auction House can increase your income more than 100 fold. Sell that you do not need. Many items in Azeroth decline in value over time and if you are hording without a purpose you are missing out on profit. Gold farming can be a boring chore. I choose to avoid it by incorporating smart, gold saving choices into my everyday play.

Reputation Farming

Aside from the Ashen Verdict Rings/Recipes, many WotLK reputation rewards have become extremely obsolete. As for other, older reputations, sure there is some novelty associated with their rewards and related titles, but the time investment to reach your reputation goals can be huge. I got my fill of achievement grinding working on Accomplished Angler. Aside from working up Sons of Hordir and the occasional Tabard swap, I am happy to simply take reputation as it comes.

Rare Material Farming

Sure, I have use for Frost Lotus and Arctic Fur. Who doesn't? Unfortunately, they are genuinely random, rare drops. As a result, farming them is not really practical. In farming the other materials you need for your crafting, you should come across these items. If you don't and you really need them, you would probably be better served to farm gold and then buy them. Except on rare occasions, the appearance of these materials cannot be predicted and any attempt to "farm" them will either result in you getting lucky or frustrated. I'll pass.

Obviously I do make exceptions and occasionally my in game needs/interests shift so I will revisit some of these farming targets. What farming do you decided to pass on?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Joys of Farming

I was thinking the other day that I need to buy some overalls and a tractor because I spend a vast amount of my Warcraft time farming. No, I am not grinding on Furblogs, searching for Frost Lotus, or running Dire Maul over and over, but I am am still farming. In fact, when you break it down, it is amazing all the different kinds of farming that occupy my day.

Rare Mount Farming

So, I have finally decided to start taking shots at Reins of the Raven Lord. I am only a couple weeks of Heroic Sethekk Halls runs deep and am already starting to tire a bit. Sure, between traveling, sneaking back to Anzu's room, clearing the trash, and downing the bird I have only blown about 15 minutes. It does, however become tiresome quickly. Perhaps I will scale back my trips to Outland to once every couple days. At that rate, I should be atop a killer mount within a year... sigh...

Frost Badge Farming

Rain, sleet, snow, or hail, nothing stops me from running my Daily Random Heroic. For some reason, missing out on those two Frost Badges strikes me as sacrilege. Again, if all goes well, I am less than twenty minutes deep in time invested. When things do not go well though, it is beyond frustrating. Thank goodness my tank spec lets me skip to the head of the que. I can't imagine a twenty minute lead in wait for this daily chore.

Holiday Reward Farming

Love is in the air, and so is the smell of fresh holiday loot. Sure, I know my chances at a Big Love Rocket are close to nil, but that won't stop me from killing the Apothecary Trio every single day during the holiday. That way, when I do miss out there will be no one to blame but the random number generator gods. To be honest, I would gladly settle for a Toxic Wasteling. Hear that drop gods?

Random Dungeon Farming

"You already said you do your daily Random Heroic!?!" Yes, but that is not the only LFD chore that occupies my time. Once my main du jour is finished with his daily tasks it is time to hop to one of my many alts and start farming random dungeons for experience. Though I will occasionally suffer the ques and work on a dedicated dps, my heal/tank capable alts see a lot more play as of late.

Jewelcrafting Materials Farming

I have a skill capped Miner, Alchemist, Herbalist, and Engineer all available on my primary server. I also have a close friend capable of covering all my Leatherworking and Enchanting needs. I know a Jewelcrafter who will work for free, but he is rarely on and I cannot really complain because... he works for free. So if you want a job done right, do it yourself. Towards that end I have been hoarding the mats needed to bring one of my many alts from 0 to 450 Jewelcrafting in one pass. Some mats I farm, others I buy, and all I have a hard time storing. Here is hoping it pays off in the long run. Honor farming: coming soon to an alt of mine!

Thankfully, I enjoy all the farming I choose to do; otherwise, I wouldn't do it anymore. Be sure to check back tomorrow when I will make a post about the farming I am not doing anymore. What sort of farming has been soaking up your playtime these days?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

How to Defeat Blood Princes on 10 Man

The Blood Prince Council in Icecrown Citadel is not one the instance's most challenging encounters. It is not trivial, however, and many groups are falling victim to one of the many bad strategies floating around the Internet. Fortunately, Druid Digest has the cure for what ails you. Below is my quick and easy guide to defeating the Blood Prince Council in ICC 10 Man. Be prepared to be blown away by just how easy this encounter can be!

The biggest mistake 90% of raid make in this encounter is thinking that they need more than two tanks. Many websites will tell you to have a ranged tank/third tank take care of Keleseth. Do not do it! Even when properly handled, an Empowered Keleseth can do a ton of damage to his aggro target. Absent a dedicated healer or a switch heals with superhuman reflexes, a range tank would be quickly obliterated. Even having a third tank will spread your heals too thin as they must deal both with three targets taking consistent damage and an appreciable amount of ranged damage. Additionally, a ranged tank is going to have a hard time holding Keleseth's aggro when the dps switch to him, even with the benefit of a misdirect.

"Only two tanks...but there are three Princes?!?!"

Here is the breakthrough that will save your raid: One tank picks up Keleseth, the other picks up BOTH Valanar and Taldaram. The damage from the paired up Princes is more than manageable for a tank geared for the instance. Keleseth will also be trivialized as, so long as his tank gathers Dark Nuclei, the damage will be more than manageable, the tank can have a dedicated healer, and Keleseth will be on aggro lock-down for the target switch. Any tank other than a Warrior should have minimal difficulty gathering the Dark Nuclei needed to stay alive.

That is it. Two tank healers (or a geared Paladin with Beacon up) and one raid healer should be enough to keep everyone alive. Spread out during Empowered Shock Vortex, assign a dps to keep the Kinetic Bombs in the air, and collect your loot. It really can be that easy. Good luck!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Grand Black War Mammoth Sighting

With the arrival of Toravon the Ice Watcher yesterday, I finally found myself with a reason to return to the Vault of Archavon. After joining a successful group for the 25 man version, I decided to form my own group to tackle Toravon in 10 man mode.

Mechanically speaking, Toravon is a relatively straight forward encounter. Tanks need to swap to shed a stacking DoT and ranged dps need to quickly burn the Frozen Orbs which spawn to avoid the raid taking too much AoE damage. That is pretty much it. He is, however, a bit of a gear check as he has a dps demanding soft enrage (an AoE delivered stacking debuff which increases frost damage taken) and dishes out a hearty amount of raid damage.

After a two wipes and a handful of personnel changes, my 10 man proved to be a success and Toravon was tasting the Vault floor. Unfortunately, the loot was a bit of a bummer as only a PvP caster cloak was of any meaningful use to anyone. Oh well, at least we got some experience to carry into next week.

After Toravon's loot was disposed of, we lost a healer and a dps, but I decided to make a run at Koralon anyway. I find the encounter enjoyable and it seemed as though there might be upgrades available for a raid member or two. Our eight man proved rather easy and Koralon was down for the count. As with Toravon, Koralon's loot was as useless as can be, with only one notable exception. Much to my amazement, there between three pieces of Elemental Shaman gear were the Reins of the Grand Black War Mammoth!

I just sat and stared for a second. Thoughts of excitement, logistics, and potential drama all floated through my head. I announced the find to the raid resulting in a flood of all caps exclamations. "It goes to the raid leader, right?" I joked, giving rise to a chorus of "haha" and "NO."

I must admit, I briefly thought of taking it for myself. There would be outrage, sure, but I would only be offending seven people in a server of thousands. Assuming a handful of them could be bought off or talked down, my little stint as a ninja would likely only cost me the temporary ire of less than a single instance group's worth of raiders. My reputation on the server was sterling, so I was confident that even if a storm resulted, I could weather it and it would be brief.

In the end, however, I thought about how I expected to be treated as a raider and new I had to do the right thing. I typed out a very specific call for open rolls and the winning roll turned out to be the first one out of the gate: a perfect 100 within a second of my call. I waited for the other rolls to assure there wasn't a tie, passed the winner his loot, and offered my congratulations.

Sure, I would have loved to claim this rare prize for myself, but the excitement of just seeing it drop and knowing it was handled respectfully provides its own kind of joy. The only way to counteract all the stories of PuG ninjas is to create positive PuG experiences whenever you have the opportunity. Also, who knows, maybe the WoW karma gods will finally see fit to give me those Reins of the Raven Lord I have been farming...