Thursday, October 23, 2008

Not working...

I can't maintain a druid blog. I've tried to move closer to my ... focus, if you can call it that. My new blog can be found at

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Know your cooldowns part 1: Barkskin.

First, some of the earlier macros proved to have problems here and there. In particular the cyclone/hibernate/entangling roots focus macros need some more testing, which I unfortunately haven't had time for yet. They work perfectly fine with no focus target, but have problem with resetting. It seems that /clearfocus only accepts one clausul (aka modifier:shift), not several.

I want to share some thoughts on the various cooldowns we have, one at a time. Most advanced players will probably know a lot of this from earlier, but some less experienced shapeshifters might find something useful here.

First up is Barkskin:

12% of base mana
Instant cast
1 min cooldown

The druid's skin becomes as tough as bark. All damage taken is reduced by 20%. While protected, damaging attacks will not cause spellcasting delays. This spell is usable while stunned, frozen, incapacitated, feared or asleep. Lasts 12 sec.

Is it any good?
The short answer is yes. The slightly longer answer is "hell, yeah".

Don't fall into the trap. Many people read 20% and think "that's not all that much". Well, compare it to the priest talent Pain Suppression. 40% damage reduction. And they consider it one of the their important tools for survival. The point is, those 20% can often save your hide/tail/cloves. Using it can often be the difference between your life and death, both in PVP and PVE.

Breaking down why it's good:
  • 20% damage reduction: Unlike bearform, it provides damage reduction against everything, not only physical attacks. Granted, bearform does help because of the health boost, but this is even better. But hey, they stack!

  • It provides 100% spellcasting delay immunity: With spells that work with talents such as Nature's Focus, giving a 70% immunity it's a minor upgrade. With spells that normallly doesn't have any such immunity, it's great. Hurricane, Starfire and Hibernate comes to my mind.

  • Baseline spell: Which means that even a full feral tank which doesn't have talent points in Nature's Focus can pop out and cast some healing spells without interruption. Well, aside from instant spells.

  • Can be cast while crowd-controlled: In addition to reducing the damage taken while you're crowd-controlled, this also saves a global cooldown.

  • Low cooldown: at only 1 minute, it'll be up often. Compare it again to Pain Suppression with it's 3 min cooldown.
  • Low mana cost: Compare it's 12% base mana cost to Lifebloom at 10%.

  • Doesn't cancel when we change forms: Might seem minor, but anyone that has activated Dash only to be forced out of cat form a moment later should know why I include it.

  • Talents: Some talents can improve it, in particular
    • Brambles: 15% chance of dazing anyone attacking you while it's up.

    • Subtlety: 30% dispel resistance.

  • Can be used in Tree of Life, despite being a balance spell.

When should I barkskin?
With only 1 min cooldown, almost whenever you want.

Many druids that doesn't have Nature's Focus often want to save it for emergency healing. With the change to how spell pushback works in Wrath, it is now a bloody lot easier to cast spells while several enemies are pounding on you. A regrowth will now never take more than 3 seconds to cast, even if there are 10 enemies hitting you all the time. A tranquility is garantueed to give you at least half duraction. Short version, stop saving it for emergency healing. Learn to use it early and use it often. The only thing preventing you should be:

  • Being in bearform: It provides less damage reduction against physical attacks than staying in bear is (provided your gear isn't all that bad). The loss of the bearform health bonus doesn't help either. It can be potentially fatal to hit the barkskin button, whether by accident or intentionally, while tanking. A macro can help: /cast [nostance:1] Barkskin. This will mean it only casts it while you're not in bearform. A more advanced version can be found in my earlier post.

  • Global cooldown: Sometimes you can overreach yourself. Though barkskin is very good, if your buddy is dying and you need to heal him fast you usually don't have a global cooldown to save. If you cast Regrowth, it will be garantueed to hit faster if you don't cast barkskin first (max 3 seconds) as opposed to casting Barkskin and then Regrowth (3.5 seconds).

  • Saving a cooldown: There might be rare cases where you actually want to save your cooldown, short as it may be. One such suggestion might be if you're dotted up and have a dispeller on you. It might be better to cycloning or running away first and then cast Barkskin. This is highly situational, and what marks the difference between a good druid and a excellent one.

Some suggestions
... on when to use it.
  • Pulling while tanking: Pull with a Starfire, hit Barkskin and go bearform. 20% damage reduction for the first 10 seconds of a pull. Quicker version: Pull with Wrath or Cyclone.

  • Balance-soloing: Cast Barkskin either immidiately after pulling with Starfire, or as the third spell. Now you can chaincast Starfire if you feel like for optimal mana efficiency.

  • Healing in Treeform: Hit barkskin as soon as you're pulling aggro (unless you activate a trinket which reduces threat and the enemies actually returns to the tank). Less need to heal to keep yourself alive = less threat = easier for the tank to pull aggro off you.

  • PVP: Unless you're in bearform and got a physical attacker on you, use it as soon as you're caught in crowd control (stun, fear, etc) and likely to get incoming damage. This should be a reflex. It's pretty useless to use it while hibernated or feared if the enemy isn't going to hit you, though.

  • PVP again: A less used version, but incredibly useful: If you're fully dotted up, even if you don't have any enemy on you, you can use Barkskin to reduce the damage of the dots. Think about it as preemptive healing and practice.

If you also have the brambles talent, it gives additional utility as it makes it easier to run from dazed enemies.

Perhaps you picked up something. Stay tuned for part 2, featuring Tranquility.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Evolution of Macros 2.5

I forgot one of my most important macros in PVP, bound to < (the button left of z):

< Free Me!

/cast [stance:1] !Dire Bear Form
/cast [stance:2] !Aquatic Form
/cast [stance:3] !Cat Form
/cast [stance:4] !Travel Form
/cast [stance:5] !Tree of Life
/cast [stance:5] !Moonkin Form
/cast [nostance,outdoors] !Travel Form

Short version, press this to remove all movement-impairing effects while retaining the form I have. I have my finger over the button when facing a frost mage, thus ruining most shatter combos. It is also very useful while tanking mobs that freeze/halt you and run.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Evolution of Macros 2

After some testing, I've found out that I hated the last macro setup. While I liked some of the ideas I came up with earlier, I also missed the simplicity of pressing 2 when I wanted to moonfire someone and 2 when I wanted to lifebloom someone, depending on my target.

My new idea is like this, no modifiers first:
  1. If I have my mouseover any friendly target, heal it

  2. If I have a friendly target, heal it

  3. If I have an unfriendly target, hurt it

  4. If I press shift, always heal myself

  5. If I press ctrl, it tries to hurt or heal the target's target, depending on whether it's harm or helpable (friendly/unfriendly).

I've saved alt for special occasions. One of those might be downranking until WotlK or patch 3.0, whichever introduces the downranking change sooner.

Here's my list of macros, including which keybinding I use on it.

2 Lifebloom/Moonfire

/cast [modifier:shift, target=player][modifier:ctrl,target=targettarget,help][target=mouseover,help][help]Lifebloom;[modifier:ctrl,target=targettarget,harm][harm]Moonfire

3 Rejuvenation/Insect Swarm

/cast [modifier:shift, target=player][modifier:ctrl,target=targettarget,help][target=mouseover,help][help]Rejuvenation;[modifier:ctrl,target=targettarget,harm][harm]Insect Swarm

4 Swiftmend/Faerie Fire

/cast [modifier:shift, target=player][modifier:ctrl,target=targettarget,help][target=mouseover,help][help]Swiftmend;[modifier:ctrl,target=targettarget,harm][harm]Faerie Fire

5 Abolish Poison
Removed Entangling Roots from this button, moved it to it's own button. If I'll spec balance, this is a good place to place a hurting spell.

/cast [modifier:shift, target=player][modifier:ctrl,target=targettarget,help][target=mouseover,help][help][]Abolish Poison;

6 Remove Curse
Same as above, removed Cyclone. Another hurting balance spell?

/cast [modifier:shift, target=player][modifier:ctrl,target=targettarget,help][target=mouseover,help][help][]Remove Curse;

Q Healing Touch/Starfire

/cast [modifier:shift, target=player][modifier:ctrl,target=targettarget,help][target=mouseover,help][help]Healing Touch;[modifier:ctrl,target=targettarget,harm][harm]Starfire

W Regrowth/Wrath

/cast [modifier:shift, target=player][modifier:ctrl,target=targettarget,help][target=mouseover,help][help]Regrowth;[modifier:ctrl,target=targettarget,harm][harm]Wrath

R Nourish
Saved for Wrath. I also have a "free" space for a harm-ability here, should the need arise... Hm... Soothe Animal? Yeah, like I use that regulary... That is one of the few spells I don't mind looking up in the spellbook each time I use it.

T Entangling Roots
This, and the two following macros, are for focusing and using crowd-control-abilities. If I don't have a focus, focus the target and CC it. If I have a focus, CC it. If I press shift, set this as focus and CC it.

/clearfocus [modifier:shift][target=focus,noexist][target=focus,dead]
/cast [target=focus,exists]Entangling Roots
/stopmacro [target=focus,exists]
/focus [harm,nodead][target=targettarget,harm,nodead]
/cast [target=focus]Entangling Roots

Y Hibernate

/clearfocus [modifier:shift][target=focus,noexist][target=focus,dead]
/cast [target=focus,exists]Hibernate
/stopmacro [target=focus,exists]
/focus [harm,nodead][target=targettarget,harm,nodead]
/cast [target=focus]Hibernate

G Cyclone macro

/clearfocus [modifier:shift][target=focus,noexist][target=focus,dead]
/cast [target=focus,exists]Cyclone
/stopmacro [target=focus,exists]
/focus [harm,nodead][target=targettarget,harm,nodead]
/cast [target=focus]Cyclone

U Tranquility/Innervate
Shift: innervate self. Alt: Innervate my target. No modifier: Tranquility.

/cast [modifier:shift,target=player][modifier:alt,target=mouseover,help][modifier:alt,help]Innervate; Tranquility
/stopmacro [nomodifier:alt]
/script SendChatMessage("You've been Innervated!","WHISPER",nil, UnitName("target"))

A Barkskin/Nature's Grasp
A special macro. Alt: Nature's Grasp. Shift or not in bear: Barkskin. Reason for this is to avoid shifting out of bear if I hit the button by mistake.

/cast [modifier:alt]Nature's Grasp;[modifier:shift][nostance:1] Barkskin

H Rebirth/Hurricane
I believe I described this in the last post.

/cast [target=mouseover,dead,help][dead,help][target=focus,dead,help]Rebirth; Hurricane
/stopmacro [nodead][nohelp]
/script SendChatMessage("Prepare to accept Rebirth.","WHISPER",nil, UnitName("target"))

7 Flight Form/Wolf
Simple macro to get the form that can be used in the outdoor area.

/stopmacro [flying]
/use [outdoors,noflyable]Black War Wolf
/cast Flight Form

0 Mark of the Wild
Shift to give pink paw to myself, Alt to cast Gift of the Wild, otherwise try mouseover and then my target to give Pink Paw.

/cast [modifier:alt, help]Gift of the Wild;[modifier:shift, target=player][target=mouseover,help][help][]Mark of the Wild

+ Thorns
Same as the pink paw, except there's no group version of this thing.

/cast [modifier:shift, target=player][target=mouseover,help][help][]Thorns

A modified version of the classic NS+HT. Should be easy enough to understand.

/cast Nature's Swiftness
/cast [modifier:ctrl,target=focustarget,help,nodead][target=mouseover,nodead,help][help][]Healing Touch;

Alt-W Trinket 1
Usually my PVP trinket in PVP.

/use 13

Alt-R Trinket 2
Often a passive trinket, but can also be a healing-trinket or another emergency-button.

/use 14

Shift-| Clearfocus
Just in case I need it.


Other keybindings

| War Stomp
Ctrl-| Nature's Swiftness

Considered moving the latter one, but it's been there for so long it seems to have gotten stuck.

Some keybindings which will be dropped in WotLK or patch 3.0

Alt-2 Moonfire(Rank 1)
Alt-4 Faerie Fire(Rank 1)
Alt-t Entangling Roots(Rank 1)

Some future keybindings (Wrath), only with the right talents:

1 Flourish or Starfall (Wrath)
5 Typhoon (Wrath)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Evolution of Macros 1

Macros are powerful tools. They don't demand memory like addons, are legal in any tournament, and can easily be rewritten if the needs should change.

For quite a while, I've macroed all my usually used buttons to use one spells on friendly targets ([help]) and another spell on unfriendly targets ([harm]). A simple macro like that would be:

/cast [help] Lifebloom; [harm] Moonfire

Until recently, I've also depended on the addon Clique for healing. It has not yet failed me, but I saw another available option, using the macro for mouseover-actions. Basically, while the mouse is hovering over a target, press a keyboard button and it casts a spell at the target. My former macro above changed to this:

/cast [target=mouseover, help] Lifebloom; [target=mouseover, harm] Moonfire; [help] Lifebloom; [harm] Moonfire

It didn't take long to discover the disadvangate; It is very easy to have your mouse the wrong place when want to target your... target, and target that target instead. Bummer. The biggest problem was with enemy targets, thus I changed the macro:

/cast [target=mouseover, help][help] Lifebloom; [harm] Moonfire

Still not happy. Often when I intend to heal a party member my mouse is hovering over, it's slightly off target, and I end up either casting moonfire on my enemy target (thus dropping out of Tree of Life), or Lifebloom on my friendly target. The latter isn't really a big problem. I avoided the problem of targetting myself with a different macro, bound to shift-(same button). Lifebloom/Moonfire is on 2, thus shift-2 is lifebloom myself:

/cast [target=player] Lifebloom

But hey, I can include that in the macro! Just need to unbind the button on my keybindings. Less buttons that take up my screen = better.

/cast [modifier:shift, target=player][target=mouseover, help][help] Lifebloom; [harm] Moonfire

Still doesn't fix the original problem.

Now, yesterday I had another thought. I want my buttons/macros to be reliable, and at the same time easy to use. I thought something in the lines of: I can use the focus. The macros can react differently depending on whether my focus is friendly or unfriendly. But with much thought back and forth, I found that it's slightly a bit unpredictable. I don't want my macros to react differently than what I expect, and I can't always expect that I remember to set focus and for that matter remember what my focus is. Thus, I tried to make macros that were easy to use and reliable.

Idea, evaluate in this order:

  1. If I'm my mouse is hovering any friendly target and I press the button, I heal that target.

  2. If my target is friendly, heal that.

  3. If my target is unfriendly, heal the target's target.

Harmful spells can be fixed with a modifier. Of course it's not as easily accessible as it was before. I'll have to play around and see if I like it.

  • Ctrl: Hurt the current target if it's harmable, otherwise hurt the target's target.

  • Shift: Still heal myself

  • Alt: Heal or hurt the focus, depending on whether it's healable or harmable.

Ideally, I want to set my target as focus if a focus doesn't already exist when I press alt. Unfortunately, I can't. I'm easily breaking the 255-character limit already without it, so I'll try to save space where I can. Especially after commas.


There's a solution, though. Move the focus-macro to a different macro/button, namely alt+button. In that case, the main macro can be reduced to:


However, it isn't needed. As far as I have noticed: If WoW finds a keybinding to alt-#, it triggers that button whether or not there's any spell bound to the button. If there's no such keybinding, it triggers the #-button instead, thus possibly triggering a macro. If it's no macro there, it just triggers #. So if you've got no key bound to shift-3 and lifebloom bound to 3, I'll cast lifebloom when I press shift-3.

The alt-macro-thingy could be like this:

/clearfocus [target=focus,dead]
/clearfocus [target=focus,noexists]
/cast [target=focus, help] Lifebloom; [target=focus, harm] Moonfire

The only "problem" is that you may not always want to loose your focus since you can cast rebirth on him/her! ... But until further, that's not actually something I'd consider a problem. Besides, I've got my smart Rebirth macro already:

/cast [target=mouseover, dead, help][dead, help][target=focus, dead, help] Rebirth; Hurricane
/stopmacro [nodead][nohelp]
/script SendChatMessage("Prepare to accept Rebirth.","WHISPER",nil, UnitName("target"))

Basically, cast rebirth if the mouseover, target or focus is dead and helpable and whispers them that they'll be ressed. If there's no such target available, cast Hurricane.

I'll post the rest of my macros later.