DING level 90 @ 6:26am Thursday 27/09/12.
It was quite enjoyable I must say, however a little grindy in some parts; a bit repetitive but still a great play through. On the Alliance side it took more than 2 hours to get from Stormwind to Pandaria because there were so many people. The first quests were vehicle quests and there seemed to be some sort of internal queue players were placed in before your objectives could be completed which made for some interesting screen shots. I stuck it out finally arriving in Jade Forest around 7:30pm, from a 5pm release. Today for my first post of Mists, I want to talk about the differences I noticed between Beta and live and how that pertains to Feral Druids.
The first thing to catch my attention was the increase in experience required to level up. This was to be expected for two main reasons. Blizzard wanted people to simply see the content rather then an actual representation of the real thing for testing purposes, which is the entire point of Beta testing. And by increasing the experience needed, players spend more time in the world seeing the zones and experiencing the content. The short amount of time it took to level during Cataclysm was a complaint of many players. Mists of Pandaria brings six main questing zones plus a seventh central hub zone (similar to Crystalsong Forest) on a single continent like Northrend, while Cataclysm brought only five zones spread over an already existing continent. I think that they have addressed this problem quite well with Mists.
During my Beta play through a player in raid quality gear could expect to see upgrades around Kun-lai Summit, the forth zone. However it appears that the item level of quest rewards has been increased in the earlier zones. I found some high end quest rewards in the Valley of Four Winds and Krasarang Wilds that if not for my tier set bonuses, would be been upgrades or at the very least a side grade. This makes a lot of sense and brings me to my last observation.
The mobs on live did a lot more damage than on the Beta. I am not sure of the exact reason; Ferals could have been nerfed or the mobs got buffed, possibly to do with my first point. But as a result I had to change up my play style and talent choices. This was good as it supports the new talent system revamp. Giving players more powerful quest rewards earlier would be necessary to combat the increased damage.
Advice for levelling as Feral through Mists of Pandaria 2.0
To combat the increased incoming damage, more healing was required which directed me to our level 30 or second tier of talents based around healing. During my Beta play through I went with Cenarion Ward – a buff that lasts 30 secs and heals you when you take damage, 30 sec cool down. Its short cool down meant it was always available but it was on the global cool down. As it is as preventative spell, if you missed using it before you entered combat, you wasted a global activating it. The healing it did on Beta was fine but it was evident that it would not make the cut on live.
On live during Patch 5.04 I switched to Renewal – a heal for 30% of your HP, 2 minute cool down. I found this most useful while doing dailies and running normal Stonecore to bring me back to full health. I felt, at the time, that 2 mins was quite short.
However when I started levelling through Krasarang Wilds and Kun-lai Summit, I found that I needed to heal more often. Two minutes was too long so I switched to Nature’s Swiftness – when activated, caused your next Healing Touch to be instant cast and be 50% more affective, 1 min cool down. The short cool down and large heals was just what I needed to keep me going with little down time. Completing the dailies at level 90 is no walk in the park. Nature’s Swiftness has proved very useful. It’s cool down is double CW and half of Renewal but it out heals both of them. A clear winner in this situation.
In addition, out of necessity I had to start utilizing my Predatory Swiftness buff for more healing. Tracking this buff and using it for healing is great practice to train yourself for level 90 talent Dream of Cenarius. The talent gives you a damage increase every time you heal. Since instant cast heals (from Nature’s Swiftness and Predatory Swiftness) do not take you out of Cat Form, you can get a dps increase by timing it with high damaging abilities. However it is at the cost of a more complex rotation; tracking 2 buffs and weaving heals in at the correct time.
As I moved to higher zones I had to change my play style. I have gotten used to being able to round up 4-5 mobs at time and simply AOE them down. Since bear tanking has been split off from the Feral tree, Feral dps has lost some its previously ‘built in’ survivability. With the Feral specialization, you don’t have access to several bear abilities such as Savage Defense – grants 45% dodge, costs 60 rage and the Vengeance mechanic. This is important to note because we do have access to the Frenzied Regeneration heal but it is based on attack power and thus is not as powerful without Vengeance. My advice is when mobs start hitting hard, switch to single target. For damaging multiple targets remember to keep Savage Roar up and use Thrash before you Swipe as Swipe has a 20% damage bonus against bleeding targets.
I would like to know what your leveling experience was like. Did you rush to 90 or did you take you time? What talents decisions did you make and why? Do you agree with what I observed or did you think it was a walk in the park? Please leave a comment here or you can send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
<Naenae> Proudmoore, US