Beta invite has arrived

My beta invite has arrived in the latest batch of 250,000 sent out by Blizzard.

I plan on having a look at druid tanking, death knight tanking and monk tanking so hopefully I have something interesting to show for that over the long weekend.
I’ll admit to being a little concerned about the current state of guardian druids at the moment, but there seems to be some pretty active discussion on the forums about that, so I’m hoping for changes before the game goes live.

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New druid graphics in Mists of Pandaria

Lissana over at Restokin has been posting the new graphics for druid forms and spells. Check out her two posts:

My personal favourite is the orca swim form.

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Gearing your guardian druid in Mists of Pandaria

This post will be updated with gear for Guardian druids in Mists of Pandaria as the beta progresses and moves into the released product. Expect a lot of updates and changes during this time.

I have made some significant updates to this recently, and it now includes gear for all slots, including the location of the items in most cases.

For a guide on how to obtain gear while levelling up, please refer to my post on gearing strategies.

The ilevels of items in this expansion are:

  • Questing gear ranges from ilvl 364 to ilvl 450
  • Normal instance gear ranges from ilvl 425 to 450
  • Heroic instance gear is ilvl 463
  • Epic gear is ilvl 476+
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A scribe is a druid’s best friend

Some of the new items in Mists of Pandaria beta have been published, and there is some really interesting changes to inscription.

Scribes will have the ability to create staves, and then upgrade them from blue quality to epic. This is very reminiscent of the blacksmithing specialization items from back in the Burning Crusade expansion.

It is not clear whether these will be BoE or BoP at this stage – the items are not consistent. This will probably become clearer in the coming weeks as items are updated on the beta. I think it is most likely that they will be BoE.

Here’s the current details of the agility staves:

And here’s the caster staves. Based on the fact that there is a blue version of the caster staff there is good odds that the Ghost Iron Staff should be a blue item.

The Inscribed Crane Staff should probably have spirit on it, since the offhand fans that are craftable fit that model:

Here’s some details on crafting these staves, using the agility staff as an example:

and the upgraded staff:

Ghost Iron bars look like the new type of bar from mining:

Ink of Dreams is a common ink, Starlight ink is an uncommon ink, and the Sprit of Harmony is a rare item (with no details on where it comes from yet).

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Warlocking in my spare time

Because of the recent scroll of resurrection promotion, I reactivated an old account that I’d used for multi-boxing. I had a level 13 warlock there that hadn’t been used since 2009 so now it is a level 80 destruction warlock.

The scroll of resurrection experience was pretty neat, logging in to find:

  • a full talent spec already filled in
  • 85 gold
  • a flying mount
  • epic flight
  • a full set of ilevel 232 green gear

was nice – I was able to start questing immediately.

However, the reason I wrote this post wasn’t to talk about the scroll. I’ve never managed to get a warlock past about level 40 – the play style while questing just annoyed me. The scroll allowed me to have a warlock with enough abilities to make it interesting, but wow, it’s “interesting”.

I’ve played a few characters with complicated rotations/priority lists, but so far destruction warlocks are the most fiddly. Here’s a decent guide for them.
Maintaining multiple dots (2-3 mostly), a self buff, 1-2 debuffs and having multiple high-damage abilities that have 10-30 second cool-downs really means that it is not possible to play this spec optimally without addons.
I set up  some power auras for all the abilities with cooldowns and used NeedtoKnow for the dot timers. Now I feel like I can actually use the primary abilities when I need to.

Actual play is quite fun, but maintaining the Improved Soul Fire debuff is awkward. It reminds me of the old Mangle debuff, which had to be applied far too often.

Another thing that was really jarring was the summoning of the big 10 minute cooldown demons. The fact that they only attack targets with a particular curse on them (Bane of Doom) is pretty silly. The first time I used it, the demon just stood around looking stupid. I’m not aware of other classes that have dps cooldowns that can be just wasted like that!
That said, doing this once certainly teaches you not to do it again!

I’m having fun with the warlock, and will probably keep it going up to 85. At level 80 it hits mobs hard enough that my need to see things die quickly is being satisfied (I’m impatient like that), and the complexity of the rotations keeps questing entertaining.

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Stat changes in Mists of Pandaria

Ghostcrawler has just posted a new dev watercooler article about some stat changes in Mists. Here’s the link: http://us.battle.net/wow/en/blog/4544194

There are some really nice changes for druids here:

  • Expertise reduces spell miss rates, so anything on the spell hit table will benefit from Expertise. Capping Expertise for dodges (7.5%) will mean that an equal amount of spell miss is eliminated. Guardian druids who cap Hit (7.5%) and Expertise will never miss with a spell. Maybe casting moonfire could (theoretically) be worth it!
  • Block changes to a two roll method, but that doesn’t affect druids (so far).
  • All critical hits will do double damage. It was silly that different classes had different multipliers for crits anyway.
  • Resilience is changed to two PvP stats.
    • These stats are offensive and defensive, and only affect PvP. PvE gear will still be less effective in PvP, just like it is now.
    • The PvP stats are granted for free as far as itemization goes, so an ilvl 400 PvP item will have the same stat budget as an ilvl 400 PvE item. This will mean that crafted PvP items will be just as good for PvE players while levelling and preparing for higher tier content.
    • PvP gear will have a lower ilvl than PvE gear of an equivalent tier (crafted and  instance gear will be included) so it will be much harder for people to game the ilvl requirements for instance and raid finder queues.

I like the consolidation of the stats for hit and expertise. It feels like a maturity level change as some of the ugliness behind the scenes from vanilla WoW is removed. These kinds of changes have been happening in every expansion and in a lot of cases they sound like refactoring of the server code so it makes more sense and can be maintained more easily.
The fact that it is easier to understand, and all classes now value all stats makes it heaps better. Everyone now needs 15% of stats that can be capped – 15% hit for casters, and any physical dps class needs 7.5% hit and 7.5% expertise. The latter category will include hunters, since their shots can now be dodged. 

The PvP changes will be great for crafting professions and to finally prevent some of the abuses of gear that have been happening for a while. I’m really happy that there will be no PvP gear that is best in slot for my druid tank now!

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Mists of Pandaria talent calculator updated again

There has been a major update to the Mists of Pandaria talent calculator, with talents swapped between levels and some getting scrapped altogether. In this post I want to discuss the impacts of the updated spells and talents on tanking.

Some of the talent changes are significant, but there are a few quality of life changes in the spells that are pretty good too. As well as the talent calculator, there have been some blue posts that clarify abilities (Mangle, Swipe, Thrash and others) that are not described in detail in the talent calculator. I’ve used that information to make the behaviour of abilities clear in this post.

Alaron has discussed the talent changes over at The Fluid Druid and in his column at WoW Insider. Arielle has also talked about it at The Inconspicuous Bear. If you want to see exactly where talents have moved to and where they previously were, have a look at their posts. Continue reading

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