• Bares mostly like the taste of fase!

Team Waffle

Hello Bears!

As Arielle posted over at teamwafflecast.com, the Guardian Roundtable is upon us again!! Full post below:

Since it’s almost beta season, that means it’s time again for another session of our Roundtable series. Our 2nd group this time around is going to be Guardians! Who will be here?

  • Arielle – Host and Moderator
  • Buraan – Writer for The Inconspicuous Bear. GM and Tank for Divergent-EU. Finished West #52 10m, and is now re-progressing in 25m.
  • Ahanss – Tank PG Top Scorer, Soloer Extraordinaire, and tank for Eighty Six.
  • Kartog – Tank for Seriously Casual and TiB Forumite.
  • Fatsteak – Tank for Defenestrate. Finished West #68 / US #18 25m.

As before we will talk about the current state of Guardian Druids, what the panelists would like to see changed, talents, glyphs, and tactics. As always we’ll close with an open Q&A session with questions submitted by the community.

I’d also like to mention that I’ll keep my interjection to a minimum this time around, since everyone already knows what I think. You’re really just listening to hear what others have to think too :)

Do you have a question you’d like to have the panelists discuss on the show? Post it in the comments.

Hello Guardians!

Here’s your news and updates for the last week.
 

T15 Items Datamined

The drops from the new raid instance Throne of Thunder have been datamined and added to the respective databases. If you’re interested you can go ahead and check them out over at WoWHead. I’ve taken a first pass at a normal mode BiS list, but Blizzard hasn’t posted the trinket information (Proc Rate, ICD) yet. I won’t be able to finalize anything until I have that information.

The only thing I can tell you for certain is that the feral helm is BiS. Which is kind of funny when you think about it.
 

Set Bonuses Tested

I had the opportunity to test the set bonuses out on the PTR. For the 2pc bonus when you dodge an attack when Savage Defense is active you get the Improved Regeneration buff. This includes special attacks, not just melee swings. This buff stacks up to a maximum of 10, and lasts for 10 seconds. If you dodge an additional attack the duration is refreshed.

I’ve mentioned previously on different forums and twitter that this is an interesting bonus. Essentially you’ll have to take damage on purpose to get the most out of it. The purpose behind this is to allow Savage Defense to recharge. This will require a lot more micro-managing that we’re currently used to, but I think it’ll be pretty neat. Of course the encounter design will be the final judge.

Of course the obvious question, is what happens with the Glyph of Frenzied Regeneration? Well, unfortunately nothing. As you can see here below when using the glyph, the set bonus is not consumed.

Which is really too bad. It makes the glyph almost worthless. I’ll post this in the Class Analysis thread and maybe Blizzard will take a look at it.

As for the 4piece, that’s pretty simple. While the Enrage buff is active any attacks generate 50% more Rage. The key thing to remember here is to use the bonus before using Incarnation to get the maximum benefit.

You can also use it to prepare for or recover from spike damage since it effectively operates as another mini-cooldown.
 

PvP Gear

Someone asked me via RealID if the current season’s pvp gear will inherit the new bonuses in 5.2. I didn’t know the answer so I thought I’d find out. So I copied over Ari to the PTR after buying a couple pieces of honor gear:

So yes, they do.
 

5.2 in two weeks?

Bashiok made a long post today explaining (and hinting) that 5.2 will be landing in about 2 weeks. Strangely enough for Guardians there is one thing you should try and do before the next patch: Obtain a Terror in the Mists and double-upgrade it.

The reason for this is that it’s not quite clear where all of the trinkets are going to land in 5.2 yet. Hopefully we’ll have some new information soon though.
 

Guardians in RBGs

I had the opportunity to interview Crass, a ~2600 rated Guardian in RBGs. If you’re interested in looking at PvPing as a Guardian I’d definitely check out what he has to say.

Sorry guys, was super busy with the Guardian Round Table and didn’t have a chance to keep up with the Beta Class Analysis thread. I’ll link the podcast at the bottom of this post, but here’s what we’ve learned over the past week or so.

“I don’t know if it’s something new to level 86+ players but to me it seems like there is a new, unforeseen formula when calculating the Agility to Dodge variable. On my level 85 Worgen Druid on the beta, I can easily get the 243.58281085 Agility to Dodge conversion working. It does appear that Base Agility is now being affected by the Agility to Dodge (whereas on live it is not).”

All Agility (base and bonus) grants dodge at a rate of 951.158596 to 1% at level 90. However, dodge from bonus Agility and dodge rating is affected by diminishing returns. “Bonus” Agility refers to all Agility beyond what you have with no gear/buffs (for example, a level 90 troll Druid has 97 base Agility and all other Agility is Bonus).

Awesome. Basically it was the tooltip applying the diminishing returns on Agility and not on Dodge that was throwing everything off. With that, we should have better evaluations from the Guardian community.

Yeah, we will try to add dodge from Agi to the Agi and dodge tooltips. Currently they’re just included in the title of each of those tooltips, which are final values after summing all of the sources and applying DR. The “(before diminishing returns)” line in the dodge tooltip, refers just to the “dodge of X adds Y% dodge” line, not the total. It’s somewhat confusing right now. All of this goes for Strength / parry as well.

This is one of those things that won’t mean much unless you’re a Mathy type.

We were having trouble trying to figure out the diminishing returns on Dodge from both Dodge Rating and Agility because the tooltip for the Dodge stat in the character screen is behaving funny. It turns out the tooltip was automatically calculating the diminishing returns on Agility but not Dodge Rating. Thankfully GC took pity on us and told us how it really works. It’s helped us to make our models more accurate. It looks like GC will try and get to the tooltip for this as well as Parry fixed to make more sense.

I did some extensive mathematics on warrior tankiing, more precisely, Shield Block vs. Shield Barrier.

Short Version: There is currently nearly no reason for any warrior to use Shield Block. The amount of physical damage done by a boss melee swing to be high enough that the 30%/60% block outshines the absorb puts it out of reach of the vast majority of the playerbase. Obviously, this is even more true with non-blockable or magic damage, but even with the kind of attacks that can be blocked, Shield Barrier is just plain better for everything other than non-nerfed 25H bosses who use debuffs on the tank.

Thanks for the great analysis.

The scaling we chose for Shield Barrier was to keep it competitive with Shield Block with very high end gear (beyond even the gear available in the first tier). The problem is this is one of those situations where linear AP scaling can’t really fit the curve nicely. Shield Barrier (and by extension Frenzied Regen) will either be too good at low gear levels or too weak at high gear levels. We could use a more complex curve, such as squaring attack power as long as that doesn’t prove confusing. For sake of argument, imagine that Shield Barrier (and Frenzied Regen) is roughly half as strong as it is on beta when you’re in greens, but scales up in strength about 50% faster than it currently does.

While the original post was specifically about Protection Warriors and Shield Barrier vs Shield Block it also directly relates to Savage Defense vs Frenzied Regeneration. It’s also entirely 100% accurate. I’ve used similar terminology to describe the problems of the live version of Savage Defense vs a Block Tank. It’s basically the reason we had to keep receiving buffs all along this expansion. Basically the linear line was too far above the curve that represents damage reduction from Savage Defense and/or Shield Block. Turning it into a curve itself is definitely the best solution. However as you’ll see below the curve ends up being too shallow.

Now that FR has been reworked, I have some new numbers. Nothing has changed.

Your current build doesn’t have the changes to Frenzied Regeneration and Shield Barrier yet. If you’d like to get a head start on theorycrafting their value, the current formula for their heal/absorb is: 18.6 * (AP/1000)^2 – 0.047 * AP.

Another Guardian had posted some math that drew the same conclusions we already knew, and GC responded with the new FR formula. Fasc and Hinalover both posted math that came to the same conclusion: The formula is too shallow. Essentially there would be no reason to ever use FR, except in cases of magic damage recovery.

For reference you can find Fasc’s post here, and Hinalover’s post here.

Other than that, I’ll be doing some new parses (probably tomorrow) comparing various forms of Guardian damage including Heart of the Wild to see if there have been any relative improvements.

Also! We recorded the Guardian Roundtable last Friday with Fasc, Hinalover, Wenselaas and Buraan. You can find it here.

My CTC is…..

WTF EVER I’M A BEAR LOL

<3 Reesi.

There have been a couple Guardian oriented replies over the last two days. I wanted to take an opportunity to talk about them.

“If this is the prefered design why do Guardians have to spend rage for Maul? It has been stated a few times that Maul would never be used except to solo things (an only if the damage comes up).”

Maul is still a DPS button. It may not be one you use often, but there will be times when you don’t care about surviving (when the boss needs to die NOW, or even when you’re solo or running a scenario perhaps). We may eventually end up adding a proc or something (hopefully not exactly like Ultimatum), but we’re not sure it’s needed. At the moment Guardian damage is too high, so encouraging more Mauls isn’t super high priority. :).

?

Your logic failure betraaayyyyssssss you!

I understand that they may have more pressing matters to attend to than making something that is 100% functional simply more fun to play. That is a perfectly valid answer. However repeating the claim that Maul is fine as a DPS button that you never push (something we have actually proven is the case) doesn’t make any sense. What makes this even more confusing is that GC has said exactly the opposite thing about Heroic Strike earlier in the thread:

The idea is that we can’t ask Prot warriors to spend Rage on offensive attacks if we are also asking them to spend resources on defensive abilities — the defenses will just always win. The Ultimatum proc is there to let you use Heroic Strike and Cleave for free sometimes. When you aren’t tanking (like you are solo or off-tanking) or when survival isn’t a question (you’re running an easier dungeon perhaps) then you can Heroic Strike instead of Shield Block or Barrier. As you point out, you can use Heroic Strike and Devastate at the same moment since they aren’t on the same cooldown.

The two abilities fill exactly the same role for both class. They’re a Rage->Damage dump. His description of how Heroic Strike/Cleave would be used is actually bang on. That’s identical to how Guardians are going to use Maul. Only once we reach some insane number of RPS (rage-per-second) which isn’t actually practically obtainable do we start having excess Rage for Maul. So it only makes sense to give us some sort of mechanic to let us press it when we would rather spend our Rage on survival.

Wenselaas got an answer about Guardian DPS as well:

“Issue #1. Guardian dps seems to be EXTREMELY skewed towards mangle.

Issue #2. Guardian dps is pretty overpowered.”

You are probably right on both counts. We’ll look into it.

This means that most of the evaluations I’ve done thus far on Heart of the Wild and Guardian Cat DPS are likely wildly inaccurate. I’m not surprised. I’ve long maintained that Guardian DPS was too high so this is not news to me. Once the Mangle nerf comes in I’ll re-evaluate all of them and see where we stand.

Tinderhoof has long believed that Feral DPS is just terrible right now, so that probably isn’t helping things either.

One last bit of news. The Team Waffle Podcast: Guardian Round Table #2 is going to be broadcasting live this Friday the 13th of July at 7pm PST. If you have any questions feel free to go to the TWP website and post them for us to answer!

Nomnomnom.

I’ve decided to do this on a daily basis as new information comes out. It’s just easier on everyone (but mostly me) that way.

What happened today?

“How committed is the development team to having all tanks perform within an “acceptable variance” on all encounters? In Cataclysm we saw several “niches” become severe problems for tank balance on certain heroic encounters. For example:

  • Deathknights on Yor’Sahj
  • “Bearcatting” on Madness, Spine, Ultra, and Blackhorn
  • Deathknight and Druid compared to Paladin and Warrior for Impales on Madness
  • Warriors for Blood tanking on Spine
  • Paladins for most of heroic T12 due to Divine Guardian
  • Warrior/Druid/Deathknight vs Paladin on Al’Akir”

We don’t think any of those cross the line. If it were the same class showing up for all of those bullet points, that would be a problem. Our tanks all have strengths and weaknesses and unusual encounter mechanics may synergize or clash with them, but that’s more interesting than extreme homogeneity, which would be the alternative. We like the puzzle aspect of “solving” boss encounters according to the comp and strengths of individual groups. We think it has helped contribute to the fun of killing bosses having such extraordinary legs (meaning that we’re on tier 14 now and have made hundreds of dungeon bosses).

If memory serves the first Spine kill was Blood DK / Prot paladin and the second was a pair of druids. Now granted, world firsts sometimes have to resort to unusual strategies since they undergear the fights because they haven’t had weeks to farm up better gear. Your mileage may vary.

As a counter-example, paladins on Heroic Major Domo initially were able to solo-soak the scorpion cleave, letting guilds with paladin tanks keep him in scorpion form longer than those without. We thought that crossed the line and we changed the boss mechanics to disincentivize that particular strategy. I fully admit that these calls are subjective.

Um. What?

At Blizzcon 2011 another Feral Druid was in line ahead of me and asked specifically about Bearcatting. The response he got was at 28:50 of this video:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XhRch8Smsaw

The answer is distinctly:

You are definitely going to be losing that DPS. The other tanks can’t do that.

That is directly contrary to GC’s answer above. Obviously people (especially designers) are allowed to change their minds. I do it all the time. I just wish there was some insight into the process behind the change.

Both Slash and Muspel had follow up posts:

“A lot of these problems are by and large, problems which a little bit of modification in the encounter’s design could be solved, if they were picked up early on. Death Knights on Yor’sahj makes a difference because the fight’s mechanics cater to them in every way. Simple changes could have allowed them to retain DK flavour and advantage, without making the difference anywhere near as large as it was.

If picked up by the encounter team, these simple adjustments could mitigate the potential for things to go out of control. This doesn’t apply just to tanks, but if encounter design had picked up, say, that Spine’s initial burst requirement was simply impossible for many classes and specs, that Anub was being broken by block being block, or that DK’s fed into this superclass for Yor’sahj, these situations would limit themselves to “nice to have” instead of “this feels broken”.

A lot of the problem for tank balance is that trends have tended to carry across entire tiers. Maybe this wasn’t intentional, but it’s like a person decided that a way to compensate DK’s for being weaker last tier was to cater many mechanics to them this tier. MoP could lend itself to more of the same, if it continues the same feeling where encounter designers do whatever, and class balance never seems to enter the picture even when the encounter’s very design breaks it, especially since Active Mitigation can work on these things now (hit ShoR, laugh at Impale)”

“It’s an issue for the same reason that fights like Spine of Deathwing are a problem for DPS balance.

It’s fine if there’s a “best” tank and a “worst” tank for an encounter. It’s less fine when the gap becomes too wide, as was the case on Yor’sajh.

By comparison, fights like Rhyolith, Shannox, Omnotron, Sinestra, and post-fix Domo still had a best and a worst choice, but the differences were minor enough that there wasn’t a strong incentive to switch.

In Dragon Soul, that hasn’t really been the case. DKs were insanely good on Yor’sajh, while warriors were at an incredibly disadvantage. Warriors were the best blood tanks, and DKs/Druids just plain couldn’t do it pre-nerf. Warriors needed tons of externals for fights like H Madness and H Hagara. DKs (and sometimes bears) would get wrecked by Blackhorn.”

We’ll have to see if there is more information forthcoming.

Nature’s Vigil is currently affecting Frenzied Regeneration. That doesn’t seem intentional.

I believe the intention is that the healing amount is increased, but that it does not deal damage based on that healing.

Muspel first pointed me in this direction, so I went to test Nature’s Vigil with Frenzied Regeneration. Turns out it does actually increase the amount healed by Frenzied Regeneration. This turns into an interesting choice analagous to what we had with T11 gearing – pick the 4pc bonus for burst or offset pieces for average survivability. Obviously we’ll have to take a look at how big the difference between Nature’s Vigil and Heart of the Wild is large enough to justify using NV every once in a while.

That’s all we’ve got for today.

Oh, and by the way Episode 34 of the Team Waffle Podcast is now available for you to listen to.

Shameless plug ^.^