Thanksgivings Yet to Come…

Posted February 5, 2008 by manaturkey
Categories: General, World of Warcraft

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I caught myself thinking this morning(a dangerous activity, I know) about what I wanted to get out of this blog. I mean, yes the original point was to document my attempt at cracking Arenas as a balance druid and that is still important to me, but there are other things I’d like to tackle while I’m here. Whether or not anyone would be interested in reading about them is another story, but one I’m not too concerned with. From the beginning this blog has been as much about me as it has been about the people who read it and I’m certain that people will continue to read or not read as is their want.

So, what are these projects that I’d like to dedicate some time to? Well, most are still in the notepad scribbles phase, but the one that I do intend on focusing a good deal of my time on currently is WoW as an E-Sport. The evolution of gaming as a spectator sport has always interested me and I’d like to do some exploratory writing on the subject and see where it leads. Hopefully you’ll like that too.

On another note, I also appreciate strides taken in WoW fashion. Check out Bellwether’s latest shopping spree through Kara. What is that? New Dungeon Formal?

But I don’t like turkey, Mom..

Posted February 4, 2008 by manaturkey
Categories: General, World of Warcraft

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I┬árealize that WoW is essentially a giant social experiment for profit that pulls at us with all kinds of psychological and mental trickery, but I can usually just close that part of my brain down and get back to drooling at the bell. I spent most of this weekend secluded in my apartment, partly due to the snow and partly due to my overwhelming need to acquire enough Badges of Justice for my Cloak of Subjugated Power(I can’t browse WoWhead from work, so check Dressing the Bird for a link). To sum up my “break” from work, I hate answering requests for “LF1M DPS for Heroic Daily” and being ignored or hearing “Oh, sorry, we meant a mage/hunter/lock/rogue”.

As a balance-spec’d druid, I’ll be the first to admit that we don’t really fit one of the cookie-cutter roles that you’d think of for a 5 man Heroic.

We’re not:

    a tanking class - yes, I know Panzerkins, but if I can’t get them to accept an ordinary boomkin, how should I explain that I plan to tank to them?
    a dps/cc class – DPS? Yes. CC? No. A mage/warlock/hunter brings this to the table.
    a healing class – Not primarily, but that brings me to what I think our actual role is.

We are(brace yourselves, folks):

    a HYBRID class – Yes, we don’t fill primary roles. Feral and Resto druids can, in fact, fill these roles. Balance druids however, cannot. I’d like to put forth the idea that Balance druids are the last true hybrids. But what, you ask, does a Balance druid bring to the table?

Let’s start with the obvious ones.

    DPS
    Innervate
    Battle Rez

The Not So Obvious.

    +5% chance to crit for all casters in the group(healers included)
    Spell interrupts, short-term CC(Nature’s Swiftness goes a long way in this regard, affecting ANY nature spell like Cyclone or Roots)
    Backup Healing

The Hidden Value.

    Creative use of Battle Rez Wiping? It happens. Usually happens when the healer gets aggro and dies. As a last ditch effort, battle rez the healer but have him wait to rez until the mobs have reset. An emergency druid soulstone! Apparently to be fixed. Booo.
    -2% chance to hit(Insect Swarm)
    AOE Support(Thorns + Barkskin + Hurricane keeps decent aggro on mobs and lets mages/locks aoe with less trepidation)

So if you do happen to have your primary roles filled but are missing a fourth or fifth member of your elite Heroic-bustin’ terror squad, consider the utility brought by something as innocuous as a wild turkey with a stick.

For those concerned, I did manage to get enough badges for my cloak, but the last 19 came from a full Kara sweep by me and my guildmates. Now I just need 38 more for my trinket and I can say goodbye to Heroics for good.

Simply Outstanding

Posted January 31, 2008 by manaturkey
Categories: General, World of Warcraft

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Just a late night update to point you towards 4 Haelz as one of my favourite Druids has captured our existence in pictures! Original and really enjoyable to look at. Great work, Bellwether!

…We have the Technology!

Posted January 31, 2008 by manaturkey
Categories: General, World of Warcraft

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In my last post, I gave a brief outline of my major balance tree talent selections and the reasons why I chose those over others. Like druids, however, balance is not meant to stand alone. There are actually quite a few options available to the industrious mana turkey as to where to place their remaining talent points.

Some choose to pile even more into the already stuffed(haha) balance tree, giving added PVE/PVP survivability through Nature’s Grasp, Celestial Focus, and perhaps another point into Balance of Power. These turkeys are usually PVE focused casters or “Panzerkins”. Another choice is that of 11 points into Feral to grab Feral Charge, giving druids a valuable spell interrupt and escape method. However, I still feel that a druid’s strength lies in healing(yes, I said it) and I wanted to improve upon that as much as possible without diminishing my caster dps viability. Enter 21 points into Resto.

Furor vs Improved MOTW: *sigh*
Pre-BC, it was quite normal to see resto or even balance druids with 5/5 Imp MOTW. In raids, it provided that much better buffs and really, who wanted instant rage in a raid as a healer? But, now that we’re big level 70’s and MOTW was only given one extra rank, the investment of 5 talent points for such a small buff is laughable at best. In PVP, it’s downright suicidal. With Furor, you can easily shift into bear, give your opponent a stunning slap to the noggin and follow up with a cyclone/root combo. There’s just too much potential to pass up for a few more resistance points.

2/5 Naturalist and 3/3 Natural Shifter
As I mentioned in my previous post, I like my mana bar. I live by my mana bar and anything that helps me keep that blue bar of rage from disappearing, I wholeheartedly endorse. Natural Shifter is an amazing talent that makes druids a true shapeshifting class. Rooted? Shift out. Slowed? Shift out. About to be polymorphed? Shift. Notice a pattern? I noticed you noticing. But, these constant shifts have a cost and without Natural Shifter, are a huge drain on your mana.

Naturalist was simply a better choice to me than Nature’s Focus. 28% chance to resist knockback on heals? If you even think about trying anything longer than a regrowth behind a pillar, you’re going to look pretty silly stunlocked and dying while you keep jamming that heal button. Atleast with Naturalist, if you are for some reason left alone, you can get off a big heal that much quicker and maybe save a friend.

Intensity and Subtlety
Intensity is the other part of the fabulous mana-saving triumvirate that is Dreamstate, Moonglow, and Intensity. With these three talents, you’ll go much farther on your mana pool and may even win the mana battle with other healers or caster dps in Arenas.

Subtlety’s benefits are, well, subtle. Yes, less threat is good in PVE, but what about PVP benefits? 40% reduced chance to dispel your spells? Are you drunk? It means that averaged over a fight, an enemy dispeller needs to spend almost twice almost half again(sorry, I can’t do math)┬áthe mana normally required to get your HoTs, roots, and buffs off your team and his. With careful ordering of spells, you can make this even worse for him. Want him rooted until he dies from old age? Cast roots, FF(Rank 1), IS(Rank 1), Moonfire(Rank 1), and watch him go through his mana like a murloc at a sushi buffet trying to get through to that root spell. That’s right, Buffs/Debuffs operate on a FILO(First In Last Out) principle. In your face, Paladins! :P

Nature’s Swiftness vs “Cookie-less Trees”
Cookie Monster specs 41 Balance!Ah, here comes the pride and joy of druids.. and the other pride and joy of druids. How awkward. One of these fine talents is going to go home with our lovely contestant and the other.. well, I hear sawdust is the new fiberglass for insulation.

When it came down to the choice between a DoT with HP over an instant-cast heal, I had to think long and hard about this. Force of Nature is definitely a useful spell in several situations. Keeping that caster in combat and providing continual knockback on healers comes to mind immediately. However, since druids are also a healing class and a balance druid’s healing is fairly mediocre, I knew that this was the talent that would give me that extra shot of gumption to tip the balance in arenas. Even if I only use it once a game, it’s still something that causes the situation to do a complete 180.

Building a better turkey…

Posted January 30, 2008 by manaturkey
Categories: General, World of Warcraft

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Ok, so not a turkey..Depending on how much honor I’ve accumulated, I usually leave all my PVP purchases until Tuesday after maintenance. This gives me something to look forward to and helps keep me motivated throughout the week, as I’ve found motivation to be somewhat lackluster when your honor numbers in the 3 digits. I like to keep that disappointed feeling down to only once a week. Picked up [Gladiator’s Wyrmhide Tunic] yesterday afternoon. Getting there, slowly but surely.

As it happens, I’ve been playing around with various balance specs over the last weekend and I’ve come to the conclusion that a druid without Nature’s Swiftness is no druid at all. Right now, my spec is 40/0/21 and I am loving it. Yes, there is somewhat of a hole in my heart for my beloved Treants(not trees), but I feel that they’re a bit too situational to be put above an instant-cast Healing Touch. And, as was requested by another friend of mine, I’ll briefly outline the major talents in my spec and why I chose them. Maybe others have different opinions and I’d love the hear them.

Starlight Wrath (5/5) but no Nature’s Grasp?
Starlight Wrath is a given, but you’ll usually see at least one point put into Nature’s Grasp as well. My own idea on the subject is that if you can’t get a 1.5sec root off that can’t be knocked back, you probably can’t get Nature’s Grasp off either. And I need that talent point for something else. :)

Control of Nature(3/3),Focused Starlight, Imp Moonfire.
These three Tier 2 talents are bread-and-butter talents for any balance spec. No knockback on roots or cyclone is a huge advantage in PVP and even while solo-grinding. Improved damage and crit chance on my main damage spells? Yes please!

Insect Swarm, Nature’s Reach
Insect Swarm is great for pesky rogues to keep them from stealthing(unless they time it between ticks) and for warriors to give them that much more of a chance to miss. Otherwise, I usually just keep it off as that’s time I could have been cycloning, wrathing, or building up for a big starfire crit. Nature’s Reach is a given.. I mean, who doesn’t want longer reach for all their spells?

Vengeance(5/5), but no Celestial Focus
Vengeance is really something I’ve been pondering for some time. Right now, at my level of play, people don’t have enough resilience to really reduce crit chance and damage. But, once I start off with -10% chance to crit, would it be wiser to put these five points into something that might help me deal more flat, non-crit damage? I don’t know.

As for Celestial Focus, the stun proc is really quite unreliable for PVP(still nice when it happens) and most high-end bosses are immune to it. The 70% resistance to knockback on wrath is nice in solo-grinding, but in PVP you should be cycloning someone if they’re up in your face, not wrath spamming them. Hard to spam wrath when your dead, stunned, feared, etc.

Lunar Guidance, Nature’s Grace, 1/3 Moonglow
Mmm.. Int-based +damage? Yes. A talent that lets me crit with my already crit-buffed moonfire and then gives me a 2.5sec starfire? Yes twice. The one point in Moonglow is really just a left-over point that I could have put in Nature’s Grasp but I’ll take whatever extra mana efficiency I can get.

Moonfury(5/5), 1/2 Balance of Power
There’s nothing wrong with 10% more damage. And 2% more chance to hit? That’s quite a bit of +hit gear that I don’t need anymore. To illustrate the necessity of +hit to spells, check out this.

Dreamstate, Moonkin
Dreamstate is half of what keeps me from being OOMkin. Coupled with intensity from the Resto tree and my little bit of Moonglow, I can really only go OOM if I spam moonfire and wrath non-stop. And even then the thing is usually dead by that time. Moonkin form? No, who would want that? :P

Wrath of Cenarius(5/5)
There’s nothing else at this point to spend these 5 points in that would outweigh the damage bonus it gives. And this is one of our few talents that scales with gear!

Coming up next post..

    Furor vs Imp MOTW or “Why Imp MOTW is Useless”
    2/5 Naturalist, 3/3 Natural Shapeshifter or “I’m a Druid and I Like My Mana Bar”
    Intensity, Subtlety or “I’m a Druid and I Still Like My Mana Bar”
    Nature’s Swiftness vs Treants or “I was almost dead and now I’m not!”

On a completely non-related thread, I’ve discovered some really entertaining Balance Druid PVP videos. Here’s one from Tradix. Beware, he uses custom skins(actually a kind of cool, but bannable mod)!

If I was a turkey of the sea…

Posted January 27, 2008 by manaturkey
Categories: General, World of Warcraft

Tags: ,

At the end of the week, I like to look forward to those two magic days of non-work and relaxation. Time to actually socialize outside of work or WoW and time to reflect on the week gone by. Or, as happened this weekend, time to experiment with several different talent specs for Druids, run far too many BGs, and generally waste a lot of time and gold realizing that you were happier with what you had in the first place. Thank goodness for those gold-bloated ogres in Ogrila for funding my weekend splurges. Is it socially acceptable to have a bunch of scantily-clad, face-painted ogres as sugar daddies? I hope so.

Another thing this weekend allowed me to do was to give some thought to a challenge issued by fellow blogger Bellwether in the Blog Azeroth forums:

Challenge:
Hypothetical situation: Blizzard has introduced a new underwater zone to WoW. Due to this, they start giving all classes underwater abilities. The druid seal form is now utilized for more than simple travel.

Your goal: Design abilities for the seal form! Is the seal a healer? Magical dps? Physical dps? Tank? Utility? CC? Something entirely new?

Here’s Bellwether’s ideas and here’s mine:

Well, I tried to think of all the excellent things that a seal could do underwater. After losing “eating fish” and it’s multiple variations, my list got to be much, much shorter. So here is my take on what would Seal Form gain if Blizzard decided to open Marine Land: Azeroth!

Seal Form: Shapeshift into aquatic form, increasing swim speed by 50% and allowing the druid to breathe underwater. Dodge rating while underwater is increased proportionate to agility and druid gains a mild haste rating bonus to his melee attacks.

Underwater Charge: With a burst of speed, the seal-form druid closes the distance with target and stuns it for 1 second. Inflicts minor damage to self.

Disorient: With a quick and agile display of close-quarter swimming, the seal-form druid disorients an already stunned target for 3 seconds. This disorientation breaks on damage.

Member of the Pod: Seal-form druid puts out an aura that includes all party members, allowing said members to match swimspeed of the druid. Range is 26 yards.

Basically, I envision the druid as a support/cc class in an underwater environment that provides a major advantage to those groups who include them. Not that I’m sensitive about druids getting the short end of the “LF cc/dps for Heroic” stick. No, not at all.

Enter the Turkey!
Finally, at the request of a friend of mine, I’m posting my newly updated UI for those interested to have a look at. Originally, I had buttons and bars all across the screen and everything was spread out. After doing a complete overhaul of it, I think I like the new look much better. The main bar has ALT and SHIFT modifiers on it to allow me 24 buttons of hotkeys while using only eight actual hotkeys. Yay for me!

Work Experience…

Posted January 25, 2008 by manaturkey
Categories: General, World of Warcraft

Tags: , ,

This morning I was checking out the latest on several blogs when I came across this link from Leafshine’s “other” blog. In it, he talked about a speech recently given by Joi Ito on gaming and its similarities to the working world. I have to say a couple of points intrigued me.

Firstly, I do applaud any initiative to bring gaming to a level above that of some shameful hobby that need be kept quiet about and done in the privacy of your bedroom. I mean, we’re not killing kittens, we’re gaming. Thankfully, there’s been a number of initiatives towards that end and I’ve seen things begin to see light over the past few years with things like E-sports and mainstream acceptance of games such as Grand Theft Auto, the Guitar Hero series, and of course World of Warcraft. Ito’s speech reinforced this point by showing that the current generation no long distinguishes between “virtual” and “real” when it comes to the internet and computers. Friends made online are just as real and significant as friends made at school or in the neighbourhood. As he said, “We still say ‘addicted to games’. We don’t say ‘addicted to church’ if people go to church every week.”

The highlight of his speech for me was the idea of using a 40-man raid to illustrate the parallels between working in a team environment in the business world and playing in a team environment in the gaming world. In all the large-scale raids I’ve attended, I’ve seen both successful and less-successful endeavours and I have to agree that communication and leadership plays a much bigger role in these events than having the best of the best gear.

What does all this mean for the future? While I don’t think I’m quite ready to put “Has cleared Karazhan with no wipes.” or “Can use Vent or TS with equal proficiency.” to my resume, I think employers will eventually be able to connect the dots themselves when hiring a gamer and see that some skills do transfer over to the job market. Maybe someday there’ll be a change in job requirements: “Must have university degree, relevant work experience, or to have cleared past Arthas in a primary tanking or healing role.”


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