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Category Archives: Player vs Player

Guide to Walatiki Temple

Walatiki Temple is the first battleground, or Practice Ground, that you get access to in Wildstar. It becomes available for play at level 6, with the first bracket being levels 6-14, the second 15-29, then 30-49, and finally level 50. Walatiki Temple is a 10 v 10 matchup against the opposing faction. Each match lasts for 30 minutes, or until a team manages to capture 5 masks.

In this guide, I want to teach you the basics of this map and give you an idea of what PvP feels like in Wildstar. I will talk about some of the basics of strategy, but I don’t plan to go into too much detail beyond which methods of capturing the masks are best for which situation, and how things like guarding your masks is important.

I will cover the different parts of the map, how to utilize them, where to find the buffs, different routes to take for capturing the flag, timers for respawning after death, timers for masks to spawn or despawn, and some basic strategies for playing the game.

Turn the page to find out more…

 
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Posted by on June 27, 2014 in Guide, Player vs Player, Wildstar

 

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Warzone Guide: Alderaan

In this post I’m going to go over the basics of the Alderaan warzone and list some of the strategies that I’ve found useful for victory. Since this is my first PvP post here I’ll go ahead and start off with some general PvP information to get everyone caught up with how PvP works in SWTOR, and then we’ll move on to the specifics of Alderaan.

General PvP Information

Expertise: A stat found only on PvP gear and PvP-related consumables that increases the damage and healing that you do, and reduces the amount of damage that you receive. Only works in PvP.

Valor: The PvP version of social points, this is a representation of how much PvP your character has experienced. Valor goes up very quickly when you participate in Warzones. Valor ranks are required for end game PvP gear. At this point in time there is no other use for this. You also earn titles for every 10 ranks of Valor that you achieve up to the current max of 100: Skirmisher (10), Duelist (20), Gladiator (30), Centurion (40), Champion (50), Battlemaster (60), War Hero (70), Conqueror (80), Warlord (90), and Elite Warlord (100).

Commendations: This is the PvP currency, similar to Honor or Conquest points for those of you transferring from WoW. These cap at 1,000 and build fairly quickly. These are used to purchase PvP gear, leveling gear, and PvP consumables. If you’re going to PvP frequently, be sure to spend your points before you hit the cap or else you lose any extra commendations.

MVP Votes: At the end of every match you have the chance to place a vote for the Most Valuable Player (MVP). Who you vote for is up to you and you can use whatever criteria you see fit for choosing that person. Each MVP vote rewards the recipient with 1 commendation. At this point in time, as far as we know, that’s all an MVP vote does. I’ve heard reports that during beta you got titles for having a certain number of MVP votes but nobody has seen the titles since launch so they either removed them or raised the requirements.

Badges: Badges are like milestone achievements that happen during every warzone. Each time you earn a badge you get 50 Valor and 5 Commendations.

Resolve Bar: This measures the amount of Crowd Control (CC) that a player has been hit with recently, and when it’s full the player becomes immune to all forms of CC. The Resolve bar will begin to drain once it has been filled, and the player remains immune to CC until the drain is complete and the bar has reset to 0. For a more in depth look at Resolve and how it works, I’ll direct you to [url=http://taugrim.com/2012/01/04/understanding-swtors-resolve-mechanic/Taugrim’s website[/url.

Alderaan Basics
At its roots, Alderaan is your typical assault and defend resource map. There are three nodes that need to be captured and then defended until the timer runs out. Bioware has done a great job with this map though by taking that concept and turning it into something that’s much more dramatic and understandable. In relation to WoW this map is very similar to Battle for Gilneas and Arathi Basin. The biggest difference is that rather than gathering resources over time while you control nodes you’re taking capturing turrets and using them to shoot down the enemy’s ship.

Your starting point and respawn location are both in your own ship. From there you will ride speeders down to to your spawn point on the field. Each team spawns at either the north or south side of the map on a ledge that the other team cannot reach. From there you have two sections that you can drop into – Middle or Left (note, that’s Left, not East or West). From Mid you can choose to run Right, but there is a wall that separates Mid from Left on your own side (see map below).

When you start the match there are only two speeders, one mid-left and one mid-right. Both of these speeders are always available, and they both lead to the spawn point where you can choose Left or Mid. The only difference between these two is which direction you fly around the map before settling at the spawn point. Mid-left circles clockwise while mid-right circles counter-clockwise. It takes roughly 10 seconds for the speeder to land, and which of these two you choose doesn’t really matter, it just lets you get a look at one of the two flags first and the other second to help decide where you should go.

When you control the East or West node you’ll have another speeder appear inside your ship that will take you directly to that node. This speeder takes 3-5 seconds (I never remember to time it while I’m there) to reach the node, making it much easier to defend. However, the amount of time it takes to you release, resurrect, get on the speeder, ride down, and then get close enough to an opponent who is trying to capture is usually long enough that you will not interrupt a capture unless your opponents were slow to click on the node in the first place, or you applied Damage Over Time (DoT) effects to them before you died (see Strategy, below).

Alderaan Strategy: Left, Right, & Mid
There are some pretty important things to note about Alderaan. The first thing you need to understand is how the map works so that you know where to go and how to get around. The image above shows you where each team spawns and the initial directional choices that they can make (Left or Mid).

Going Mid: When you decide to drop down into Mid you have another choice to make. Do you go to the middle node, or do you turn off and head to the right? Mid also has two levels, the lower level where the node is, and the upper half-ring level. The lower level offers a couple of Line of Sight (LoS) options for those of you who like to fight dirty/defensively. The upper half-rings each contain a Expertise buff and also offers LoS and Cover options. Another benefit of the upper rings (there’s one on the West side and one on the East, but they do not connect) is that each one has a drop off that leads to the node on its side. Those drop offs also have a Expertise buff when you drop down. On the map above, the West drop off is just below the arrow near mid, and the East drop off is just above the arrow near mid.

Going mid gives you the most options for changing your direction on the fly, which is why it’s often the most contested node. However, it’s also the hardest to defend because everyone already has easy access to it and enemies can come at you from both sides at once.

Going Left: When people use Left or Right in-game, always associate them with West and East respectively. When I mentioned the spawn point and that you could choose to go either mid or left, I’m referring to your relative options of left vs. right which is differs directionally based on where your spawn location is. If you spawn south, then left = West, but if you spawn north then left = East. Confused yet?

When you decide to “go left”, that means you’re taking the drop off that does not lead directly to mid. By going this way you cut yourself off from easy access to Mid. You have easy access to both East and West, but not Mid. Let’s assume that your spawn location is in the south, making Left=West and Right=East for the ease of explanation. By going left you lose your easy access to mid. The only way to get there is to run all the way to the north end of the field so that you can loop around and enter near the opponent’s spawn location, or to run under mid, come out on the right side and then circle back around to the south to come out near your own spawn location.

When you go under mid (there is a tunnel beneath mid where the two arrows are) there is a circular pathway with a large structural piece taking up the whole center. On the left and right sides of that structural blockage you’ll find a speed buff that will help you get faster access to the opposite side.

Going Mid, then Right: This is basically the same as Going Left above, except that directions are reversed. For example, if you want to get back to Mid you have to run to your own spawn location because you’re blocked on your opponent’s side. You still have the same easy access to the left side by taking the tunnel under mid.

Alderaan Strategy: Buff Locations
Every warzone has buffs that spawn throughout the match. They can only be used by one person at a time as using them consumes them, but they respawn over time. I’ve never bothered to stand there and see how long the timer is, but it’s probably somewhere around 15-30 seconds up to a minute if I were to guess. There are three types of warzone buffs: Expertise, Speed, and Healing.

Expertise: Expertise buffs are red, and using them increases your damage and healing output and reduces the amount of damage you take. There are four expertise buffs in Alderaan, one located on each of the half-rings in the upper level of Mid, and one located at the bottom of the drops from the upper level of mid down to the left/right sides of the field.

Speed Buffs: Speed buffs are a bluish-green color, and increase your speed by *mumble,mumble* percent for *mumble,mumble* seconds (I forget the specifics, it makes you faster though). There are only two speed buffs in Alderaan, both of which are located in the tunnel beneath Mid. One person can easily grab both speed buffs at once if they want, though most of the first buff is wasted by doing so.

Healing: Healing buffs are a greenish-blue color, and restore around 70% of your total health (I really should have researched that more…). There are four healing buffs in Alderaan, one located on both the north and south walls of both the East and West sections. I probably should have put those on the map…anyway, if your’e standing at the west node, look toward either the north or south walls at about the middle point and you should see them.

Alderaan Strategy: East versus West
For the most part East and West are pretty well equal. Both nodes have the same general layout, they’re both on raised platforms that allow for LoS, and both of them have four ways to get from the ground up to the node (three sets of stairs and one broken piece of something that acts as a ramp). Technically five ways if you count moving towards the back of the node where the ground slopes up to be even with the landing and you jump up.

However, West contains some rubble and some burning debris for who knows what proving limited LoS benefit, but leaving most of the field pretty wide open to see who’s coming at you and from where. East on the other hand has several bits of machinery that provide significant LoS opportunity. In neither case is this LoS from terrain a deciding factor in the capture/defense of the node itself, but it can be used to your advantage when assaulting or defending a node in order to keep people tied up fighting in useless locations rather than focusing on the objective. Distraction is a key strategy in MMO PvP.

This section is important to have, even with such a little impact as it can have, strictly because it’s important to be aware that the West (left) node is easier to defend than the East (right) node depending on which spawn location is yours. If you spawn in the south, then East is harder to defend because those in the north can use the terrain to partially hide their approach. It’s not a significant advantage, but it is something to be aware of so that you know to be more watchful if you’re defending that side.

Alderaan Strategy: Capturing Nodes
Capturing nodes seems pretty simple, and for the most part it is. You click on the node and stand there for 8 seconds while you channel to actually capture it.

If only it were that simple.

Capturing a node has a few requirements. First, you can’t take damage while you do it or your capture gets interrupted. Second, you can’t move (or be moved) or your capture gets interrupted. Third, you can’t take any action at all, or your capture gets interrupted. Fourth, you can’t come under the effects of crowd control or your capture gets interrupted.

In the thick of battle a lot of times you can’t do anything to avoid all of those potential interruptions. Yet sometimes in the thick of battle is the perfect time to capture the node because everyone’s so caught up in fighting each other that they forget to watch it. There’s long been a saying in PvP, “Fight on the Flag”. That saying holds just as true now as it ever did before. Fighting on the flag doesn’t mean just staying close to it, it means that the flag is the primary objective and you should be watching it at all times. Whether you’re watching it to defend it, or you’re watching it for the perfect opportunity to slide in there and cap it yourself, you should always keep the flag as your focus.

The most important bit of advice I can give you in terms of capturing nodes is to always capture it on your own side. The turret nodes in Alderaan serve as LoS pillars, so the people on the other side of it cannot target you. Because of this you want to make sure that you’re always trying to capture it on the opposite side from where your enemies spawn. So if you spawn in the south, then capture from the south, and if you spawn north then cap from the north.

When you’re trying to capture the West flag, do so from the south-west side since it’s furthest away from the enemy spawn location, and similarly cap East on the south-east side (unless you spawn in the north in which case you should replace south with north in those examples).

The one exception to that is when you’re taking the East/West node away from your opponents. In those cases you want to capture it on the straight north/south side because the speeder drops off directly north or south of node, whichever side they spawn on.

Also, don’t assume that just because your opponent is standing next to the node that he’s actually paying any attention to it at all. Ninja capping is what you call capturing a node right under your opponent’s nose. Sometimes you ninja cap by sneaking up in stealth and then capturing where they can’t see you, and sometimes it’s just walking right up behind/beside someone who’s looking the other way. If you’re approaching a node and the defenders are giving no sign that they see you, go straight for the node first.

Also, it’s important to note that many Alderaan matches are decided these days based on who gets to the first node the fastest. If you have speed buffs, use them. If you both put up a solid defense on one node and spend the rest of the match fighting over the third, then whoever capped first wins. Sending your fastest people to one node or sending some to interrupt the initial caps is a great strategy for solidifying a win.

Alderaan Strategy: Defending Nodes
The simple explanation of defending would be to say “take the above section, and reverse it.” But that’s not very helpful, so I’ll spell it out a bit.

First thing’s first – FIGHT ON THE FLAGS!!!

You should never let a node be captured simply because you weren’t paying attention, or because you allowed yourself to be drawn too far away from the node and can no longer defend it. If you’re fighting someone and they start pulling back, let them go. Another kill doesn’t matter, especially not when the main reason they’re running isn’t to survive but rather to get you away from the flag so that they’re stealthed buddy can ninja your node.

Second, DoT’s aren’t as plentiful in SWTOR as they are in WoW, but they can make or break you in Alderaan. Because taking damage interrupts node captures, applying DoT’s to all of your enemies can win you the match by itself. If they can’t capture a node, they can’t win. If you know you can’t kill off everyone there, or you’re out numbered, don’t bother with trying to kill people. Instead you should apply DoT’s to as many people as you can, use your CC if you have it, pull some of them away from the node if you can, and otherwise do as much as you possibly can to interrupt their capture for as long as you live. Even if you know nobody is anywhere close to help you, put them off as long as possible.

Third is targetable AoE. As I mentioned in the previous section, the turret nodes provide LoS which can make it harder to get someone off of a node. However, you can shortcut that by using targetable AoE. If you have an AoE spell that when you cast it it pulls up an icon and makes you designate where you want to cast it, you can break LoS using it. To do this, center the AoE so that part of its effect hits the other side of the node. AoE’s hit everything in their circle, regardless of LoS, so you can use these spells to hit people behind pillars, around corners, and so forth. If you can’t reach someone, let your spells reach them for you.

And remember, the nodes are the key to victory. There will be times that you’re so caught up in combat that you loose track of the flag and it gets captured right in front of you. Just do your best to always remind yourself to look at the flag. Don’t rely on the UI to tell you, make sure you’re actively looking at it. I was in an Alderaan match just two days ago where I was defending the West node solo and it was captured right in front of my face, with me looking at it the whole time, because there was never a pillar of light (which there usually is) indicating that it was being captured, and I never saw my opponent or his nameplate on the other side of it. Right in front of my face and I didn’t even know until it was too late.

How did I not see him? First he had chosen the smallest body type, making him harder to see/target. Second, he had a short name, a short guild name, no legacy name displayed, and no title which means his nameplate too up all of about three quarters of an inch on the screen. He was a Sith Assassin so he managed to stealth up to the node without me seeing him, but it was his decisions during character creation that kept him invisible even outside of stealth.

Alderaan Strategy: Winning
So how to you win Alderaan?

First and foremost, you fight on the flag. Nodes are the only thing that matter here, so forget about topping damage/healing charts, forget about racking up the most kills. If you’re not working with your team to capture, defend, or recapture nodes then you’re doing it wrong.

As people become familiar to Alderaan and start to develop different strategies it’s becoming more and more common for this map to be decided within the first 15 seconds. If both teams are equally matched in terms of capturing and defending nodes, then the first team to capture a node wins. For this reason, sending players with speed buffs to either the East or West node, or sending smaller groups to intercept and delay the initial captures of all nodes can be a winning strategy. Capture a node as quickly as possible and defend it.

Turrets deal damage at a consistent rate, and once you reach a certain amount relative to your opponents it becomes mathematically impossible for them to win even if they get control of two of the turrets for the rest of the game. I won’t bother breaking down the math for you, this is just another example of why it’s so important to maintain a solid defense. Even if all I have to fight you is a needle and you’re dual wielding swords, if you can never manage to hold those swords long enough to attack me but I can poke you with that needle every second, you’ll be the first to die….eventually.

There are a lot of strategies still evolving for Alderaan. People like to play numbers games and say things like “3 left, 5 mid” or “4 left, 4 right”. Numbers are all fine and good, but they aren’t the deciding factor in a game where not all things are equal. The only rule that holds true is that you need to capture more nodes for a longer period of time than your opponents in that same amount of time. If you can capture two or even all three and hold them then you win. But if you can capture one and your opponent can’t capture any then you still win. That’s why it’s all about the nodes and why fighting on the flags is so important.

Right now the most common strategy is for people to send the majority of their players to mid and 1-3 off to the flag to their left. With groups made of random people it’s still pretty common to see teams where all eight go straight to mid, too. But be prepared for anything and always do your best to be aware of what your opponents are doing. If you see a lot of red nameplates rushing off to the left while you’re charging into mid, let your teammates know that you see people going left.

Communication is a big deal as well. If you have time, always try to communicate when you see people coming towards your flag. “inc left, inc mid, inc right” will suffice, though the more detail you can give the better. “INC LEFT – 3+, at least 1 stealth” tells your team that not only is there a significant threat on the way, but with at least one of them being in stealth there’s a good chance that the node will get ninja capped even while you’re defending. The more info you can give, the better, just make sure you’re using the important words rather than throwing out a full paragraph for people to read. “I think I see a couple of people coming over here, one of them looks like it has a blaster of some kind and the other I think was using two lightsabers. There may be a third too, with a dual lightsaber, but I couldn’t see for sure before he went into stealth” doesn’t work quite so well because it takes too long for someone to read that and then react to it.

Once a threat has passed, communicate that as well. “Left clear, great job defense”. If you see a chance to complement your team, do it. Positive reinforcement goes a long way to building teamwork and trust. Don’t be sarcastic when things don’t work, keep it honest. “Clutch heals, Jent. ty”

 
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Posted by on January 10, 2012 in Player vs Player, SWTOR

 

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SWTips: Part I

The last few weeks I’ve put a lot of time into playing Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR) and today I’m finally getting around to sharing some of my experiences with you.

I know that most of my readers come here for WoW related information on leveling and heirlooms, but for the immediate future I’m shifting gears over to SWTOR. I signed up for WoW’s annual pass so I’ll still be playing WoW at least until October 2012, and hopefully we have a chance to experience Mists of Pandaria by then to see whether or not there’s a chance that I’ll continue longer. For the time being I’ll be breaking my first rule of MMO gaming, which is that I never play more than one game at a time. All of that is for another post and another day.

This is going to be the first SWTips (SWOH-tips) post in which I share all of the nifty little tricks that I’ve found that can help you. This first post is going to be a bit of everything that I’ve found so far instead of being directed at a specific activity or something because I’m more eager to just share some information with you than I am to break this up into several posts.

Also, I’ll apologize in advance for the poor selection of screenshots. Apparently I’ve only taken seven since I started playing, and six of those are of PvP scoreboards. I’ll…try to fix that.

Classes & Advanced Classes
I wanted to start off with this one because it’s probably the hardest thing for people to wrap their heads around if they’re coming from other MMO’s.

SWTOR has 4 base classes per faction. Each faction’s base classes have unique names, but they’re actually the same classes on both sides with different names for everything.

Republic Trooper = Empire Bounty Hunter
Republic Jedi Knight = Empire Sith Warrior
Republic Smuggler = Empire Imperial Agent
Republic Jedi Consular = Empire Sith Inquisitor

Each of those base classes holds the key to the confusion, because at level 10 you choose to take an Advanced Class (AC). Each base class has two advanced classes, and choosing one prevents you from ever having access to the other. So basically the base class is like a tutorial to give you a feel for two different play styles at once. Once you reach level 10 you drop your base class and move on to your advanced class – for ever.

With 2 AC’s for every base class we’re really left with 8 unique classes for people to be. You’ll always be a Sith Inquisitor if that was your base class, but you’re actually either a Sorcerer or an Assassin as far as what your actual class is because it’s your Advanced Class that defines your character.

Each AC has it’s own set of three talent trees to spend points in, and even though one of the three trees is “shared” between both AC’s for every class, the talents themselves often change between the two AC’s. So while both the Sorcerer and Assassin have access to the Madness tree, the talents within that tree work differently for both specs because they’re completely different (caster vs. melee).

As the game stands right now you can pay to reset your talent points, so there is an option to repsec. However, there is (currently) no dual spec option so if you want to switch roles you’ll have to respec. Bioware has discussed, but so far declined, the possibility of changing your Advanced Class. At this time you cannot change your AC once you’ve selected it. So if you decide to be a Sith Assassin, you cannot become a Sith Sorcerer without rolling a new character. While I would personally like to have this ability, I can understand why they would not allow it and I will support their decision on how to handle it either way.

A lot of people get a bit upset at not being able to switch their AC, and that’s perfectly understandable. With the way that classes are handled though, if you were to relate this to WoW you’re basically asking for the ability to class change your Mage into a Rogue, or your Druid into a Warrior, your Death Knight into a Priest. Advanced classes are like classes unto themselves, and asking for the ability to change them on the fly is a bit much.

That being said, with how AC’s are handled in the first place, it can really suck for people to invest time into a character that could be either a Rogue or a Priest only find out at level 20 that you really wish you would have chosen the other AC, or you find that your guild needs a healer but you chose an AC that can only tank and dps and your only option is to reroll another character.

Free Experience
There’s a lot of “free” experience to be had in SWTOR. “Free” meaning that all you have to do is click on something and you get experience for it. These are typically called Codex entries which basically means that you’re exploring and learning about the galaxy.

You get codex entries for all kinds of things. Killing strange creatures, clicking on glowy blue objects, accomplishing objectives in PvP warzones, or talking to special NPC’s. Your character will make codex entries for those which gives you experience and gives you a place to look up information about the subject.

Glowy Blue Items: if you see something in the world that’s glowing with a dull, blue light – click on it. It’s either a quest item that you need anyway, or it’s a lore item that’s going to give you experience for a codex entry. These things come in all shapes and sizes from little datapads the size of your hand to massive rock formations. If it’s glowing, click it.

Monster Codex: If you’re out exploring and you see a strange creature roaming about – click it. In some cases you just need to be close to it and click it, and others you have to attack and kill it. If clicking doesn’t do anything, try to kill it. If you get an entry you get more experience, and if you don’t then just move on and ignore those creatures unless you have a quest to kill some more. Don’t just go for monsters that have health bars though, you can also get entries for friendly beasts.

Datacrons: These will have their own section further below since they’re kind of a big deal, but these are a great source of free experience with the added bonus of also increasing your attributes. Datacrons can be found on (I believe) every planet in the game, and there’s anywhere from 3-6 datacrons on each one. Some datacrons are incredibly easy to reach while other require extensive amounts of jumping, running, navigation, and even team work in order to reach them. I’ll give you some links for how to find these in the Datacrons section down below.

Training Crew Skills: When you first arrive at the Imperial/Republic fleet for the first time on a new character you’ll receive a quest to go train your crew skills and to talk to one of your trainers a second time after choosing the profession. However, since crew skills give codex entries, you’ll get free experience from talking to every skill trainer regardless of which three you’re going to choose and whether or not you’ve already chosen/accepted them. Take a peek at the Crew Skills section below for a tip on how to gain three levels just from talking to these guys.

[Update: Added] Companion Story/Dialogue Quests: As you start to gather your companions you’ll notice that every now and then they’ll want to talk to you someplace private. These take place in either a cantena or on your ship, and your companion will have a quest marker when they’re available. These quests allow you to get to know your companion more, build affection (or lose it) with them, and sometimes assign them special positions or roles within your character’s story. Every time you complete a portion of your class quest that’s somewhat significant, there’s a good chance that at least one of your companions wants to have a chat with you. Quests are quests, and that means experience.

PvP: Player versus Player Combat
PvP is something that I’ve been a huge fan of in WoW for the last 2-3 years and something that I’ve really enjoyed in SWTOR so far as well. In fact, I think I might even go so far as to say that I prefer SWTOR PvP to WoW PvP and that’s actually saying quite a bit.

No Brackets: Right now there is only one PvP bracket, meaning that all characters that can participate (level 10-50) will face each other in the same bracket. There is a mechanic in place, Bolster, which evens the playing field stats-wise (for the most part) so that the only difference between a level 10 and a level 50 is that the level 50 has access to 40 extra levels worth of spells. Don’t let level differences fool you though, it’s entirely possible for a level 10 to kill a level 50 in a 1v1 fight with Bolster. It’s not necessarily likely, but it is possible.

No Cross Server Queues: Because there’s no brackets, there’s also no cross server grouping. Instead, every time you step foot into a warzone, you’re facing other players on your server. Their main reason for doing this was to establish a community. When you’re facing the same batch of people over and over in PvP, you start to recognize names. This was something that had me a bit concerned when I first saw it, but after having experienced it I find that I actually love this feature. This is the one saving grace of Huttball after I got burned out on it, because you can face your own faction there. There are two people that I’ve developed a relationship with in SWTOR PvP because of these two features combined.

One of them I’ve only ever been teamed up with, but as we’re both healers we’ve done some of the most amazing node defense and defending the ball carrier that I’ve ever seen. The other is with an Imperial Agent who I frequently have both on my team and on the opposing team. When we’re working together we can take down level 48′s while we’re in our teens, but while facing each other we’re both the number one kill target for the other. Unfortunately for him, I have stealth.

Bolster: This is a buff that raises your stats to be comparable to those people who are higher level than you in the warzone. Bolster’s buff is percentage based, so it increases your current stats by the percentage associated with your level. What that means is, when you’re in gear that’s appropriate for your level, Bolster will make you as strong as a level 50 character in level-appropriate gear. If you’re undergeared though, that percentage doesn’t increase itself to make up for your lack of gear, it just increases your weaker stats. So if you’re level 14 in level 14 gear, you’ll be about the same as a level 50 in level 50 (non-PvP) gear, but if you’re a level 20 in level 15 gear then you’ll be roughly as strong as a level 50 in level 38 gear.

Resolve: Is a bar that shows up under players’ nameplates that marks how much crowd control (CC) they’ve been hit with recently. When that bar is full (it’s a whitish-bluish color) that player is immune to CC. There is a lot of CC in SWTOR and almost every class has several CC abilities by level 10 (melee force users don’t get reliable CC until level 24). Watch your opponent’s resolve bar carefully when you’re trying to decide whether it’s best for you to CC them or go for the kill as you may find that going for the kill is your only option and that one wasted global cooldown on CC when they’re immune can be the difference between victory and defeat.

Rewards: PvP is actually incredibly rewarding, especially at lower levels. Each victory will earn you roughly 1,000 credits, 40-90 commendations which can be used for gear upgrades, and experience that’s pretty close to what you would get from on-level quests. You can get your first PvP weapon at level 14, and it will take you 5-10 warzones worth of commendations to purchase it, but it will be significantly better than anything else you can get your hands on at that level. Level 20 is when the first set of armor becomes available which is also extremely powerful. Now, just to clarify here, this gear does not have the PvP stat Expertise on them, they’re just gear pieces that you can get only through PvP. Expertise is only available on level 50 PvP gear.

Expertise: This is the PvP stat, the one that increases your performance in PvP-only, and has no effect at all on PvE. This is only available at level 50, and it’s the one thing that make level 50′s harder to kill in PvP than anyone else. Right now a level 50 with full PvP gear on can defend a node form 4-6 people by themselves. BioWare is working towards splitting the level 50′s off into their own bracket once there are enough 50′s to actually have a bracket, but until then this is the major source of imbalance in PvP right now.

PvP: Warzones
There are three warzones in SWTOR at this time, and they should all have at least some amount of familiarity if you’ve done PvP in other MMO’s.

Alderaan: This is a resources map similar to Arathi Basin or Battle For Gilneas if you’re a WoW player. There are three nodes (left, right, and mid) and you need to stay in control of any 2 of those for the majority of the fight in order to win. You can see who controls which nodes as well as the current standing of each team by looking at the icons in the top-right corner of your screen. Your turrets and your bar are colored green, your opponents’ is colored red, and uncontrolled turrets are grey. The longer you control the turret nodes, the more damage they deal to the opponent’s ship, and the faster you win.

The best tip I can give you for this warzone is to always cap the node from the opposite side of the enemy spawn locations. The nodes themselves grant Line of Sight, so unless the opponent has an AoE that they can target to get around the node, they have to spend extra time running in order to get to you and that extra time can be the deciding factor in capping a turret. People are constantly trying to capture these nodes at the wrong angle and letting the enemy hit them with a basic ranged attack to prevent a capture that they could have easily had if they would have taken 2 steps to the side.

Actually, the best tip I could give you is something that’s been chiseled into the foundation of the world since PvP became PvP – FIGHT ON THE FLAGS! Always, always, always fight on the flags. Never let your flag be captured because you weren’t paying attention or weren’t able to react in time because you were too far away from the node.

There’s a lot I could talk about in regards to the layout of this warzone and how to get around quickly and such, but I think I’m going to leave that for an actual Alderaan-specific guide that I’ll write later.

Voidstar: This is a defend and assault style map where each side gets a chance at being both offense and defense. It’s basically Strand of the Ancients for you WoW players. There are three walls that you have to get through in order to reach a computer terminal which is the primary objective. You get through the walls by planting bombs (8 second timer) which then have a 20 second countdown before they explode. The defenders are trying to prevent you from planting bombs in the first place, or defusing them (3 second timer) once you do get them up before they blow the doors open. Once one door is opened in a section, all the doors in that section open and push combat into the next section.

The second and third sections each have another gating mechanic that requires another 8 second timer to open the gate to reach the doors in the first place, but those happen instantly if you get the 8 seconds completed. There are two gates in the second section, and three in the third. Gates are opened singularly, so if you open only the left gate in section 2, the right gate stays closed. As an attacker, you want to open all of the gates, where the defender wants to keep all of them closed only until one is opened at which point their focus should be strictly defending the final doors.

Stealth classes have an edge in this map because they can maneuver around the map and plant a bomb while the defenders are away. That’s why defense and fighting on the flags is so important in this match. You should never leave the doors unguarded if you’re defending. Zerg tactics can sometimes work on this map, but team composition can make a huge difference as well. The team that the most AoE and/or the most CC typically wins.

Huttball: This is the capture the flag map, but with a twist – the flag can be passed around. There isn’t really a true enough equivalent to this warzone in WoW, the closest being Warsong Gulch, but I’m told there’s a somewhat similar map in Rift. I did play Rift, but I never did any PvP so I wouldn’t know. The point here is to grab the neutral ball from the middle of the field and carry it to your opponent’s side of the field to score a point. Killing the ball handler will cause the ball to be passed to a nearby member of your team (I think the person who gets the killing blow gets the ball, but I’m not positive), otherwise you’ll pick it up from the spawn point in mid.

There are 4 levels in Huttball. Ground level which has access to all of the other three and contains two acid pits which deal damage and apply a slow effect to anyone inside them as well as two air traps which launch players in random directions around midfield. The Pit, which is the lowest level and is located in front of the goal area by with no immediate access to the goal. Middle Ramp which has one entrance from the ground floor and then two exits onto the scoring portion of the ground floor, and also contains two fire traps on both sides of the field that deal significant damage. And the upper/outer Ramps that are accessed on the outer edges of the ground floor in midfield, which also contain two fire traps on both sides, and has a single exit onto the scoring side of the pits on the ground level.

Because of the multiple levels and the damaging terrain of this warzone, ranged classes have a definite advantage here. Crowd Control is even more deadly on this map than raw DPS thanks to the hazardous terrain, and knockbacks can really screw with your clutch flag captures.

My most important tip for Huttball is to put the spell to throw the ball somewhere on your action bars where it’s easy to get to. The spell name is “Throw the Huttball” and it does just that. It should show up on your bars by default when you entire Huttball for the first time. If your bars are full though, you can find it on the General tab of your skills window. I have my Throw button assigned to my ‘R’ keybind because I want it as accessible as possible when I’m playing Huttball. If you have the ball and you’re low on health, pass it off to a teammate. If you’re in a bad position and someone else is near the goal, pass it. Do not try to be a hero in Huttball. It’s better to pass the ball and get a point than to try to force your way through four opponents only to die with your face on the goal line and the ball in enemy hands.

Throwing the Huttball does require you to click on a target area when you activate it, you can’t just pass it directly to another team member. If your team is in the AoE they should receive the ball so long as they’re not in stealth. If you’re going to die and there’s nobody on your team to pass it to, you should do your best to pass the ball to an open spot on the map so that it’s reset to the middle of the field instead of falling into enemy hands.

If you’re still confused by all of that, just wait for my post on Huttball where I’ll go into a lot more detail and include screenshots and such.

Companions
Companions are sort of like pets/minions from other games, except that every class gets 5 (6) of them throughout the the game. Each class gets specific companions and they are given to you at specific points in your class quest storyline. You’ll get your first companion between levels 7-12 depending on which class you are and how strongly you stick to your class quest versus every other quest out there. Your second companion, the one who’s only a partial companion (no combat skills) comes with your ship which you’ll get someone in your mid-to-upper teens. The third and fourth companions vary somewhat between the classes as far as what level or what stage of your class quest you get them at, but you should get them in your 20′s. For example, my Trooper has 3 companions while my wife’s Smuggler has only 2, even though we’re at the same stage of our class quests.

You can have only one companion actively helping you in combat at a time. The number of companions you can have sent out on Mission quests (see below) or crafting items for you at one time is based on your level. You can only have two companions crafting/questing until you reach level 25 and open up the third.

Remember, companions are tied to your class quest, so if you’re eager for more companions you should consider cutting back on all of the other quests in the area and focus just on your class chain. There are way more quests available than you need to level to 50 anyway, so don’t feel like you have an obligation to do every quest on every planet before moving on. You can always come back later.

For a great source of companion information, I direct you to swtor-spy.com.

Presence: This is a stat that you’ll find on some pieces of gear which gives no direct benefit to you. This stat instead increases the health, damage, and healing abilities of your companions. If you like to play solo, then this is a good stat for you to stack if you like having your companion out to give you a hand. If you’re more of a group player this you can ignore this stat since companions count against your total group size.

Affection: Is a rating of how well your companions like you (or how much they hate your rotten guts). This increases (or decreases) the success rate of the companion’s Mission quests and impacts the roleplay options you have with that companion, including a chance for romance where it’s available.

Skill Efficiency: This increases the companion’s success rate with a certain skill and also decreases the amount of time it takes them to accomplish it. A mission may say it will take 4 minutes, but with a companion with high efficiency in that skill it may only take 3.5 minutes. Each companion has their own efficiency/critical scores that are already tied to specific crew skills and you cannot do anything to change which skills or what type of bonus they have.

Skill Critical: This increases the chance that your companion will have extra or increased rewards when utilizing your Crew Skills.

Crew Skills
Crew Skills are SWTOR’s version of professions, and for the most part I love them. You, as the player, select three Crew Skills that your Companions will have access to. You get three, and only three. Of those three, only one of them can be a Crafting skill (you don’t have to have a crafting skill, you just can’t have more than one on the same character).

Crafting Skills: Armortech, Armstech, Artifice, Biochem, Cybertech and Synthweaving. These professions all craft gear, consumables, or item mods. You can only have one of these per character. You don’t actually craft anything yourself, your companions do all of the crafting for you.

Gathering/Mission Skills: Archaeology, Bioanalysis, Scavenging, Slicing. These professions are all used to gather items while you’re out questing, and they can be used as mission skills to get specific types of items. Both you and your companions can gather nodes while you’re out in the world(s), but only your companions can go on the Mission quest portion. With the exception of Slicing, these professions all give you the basic materials required by the crafting professions.

Slicing gathers lockboxes which most often contain credits, though it can also give you access to schematics and mission quests for all of the other professions. Slicing received a nerf in the most recent patch 1.0.1 which significantly reduced the amount of credits you can farm with it. Prior to that nerf, I was able to farm 100,000 credits on my level 23 Trooper. After that nerf I get about the same amount of credits from a day’s worth of farming that I used to get in about 3 hours. Exact numbers are still being tested, but it looks like the nerf was fairly significant.

Mission-Only Skills: Diplomacy, Investigation, Treasure Hunting and Underworld Trading. These crew skills, to my knowledge, do not have any nodes that you can gather from, and instead require Mission quests to level. These crew skills are required if you want to be able to make Blue or Purple quality gear with your crafting professions as they are the only reliable method of obtaining the rare materials required to craft them.

Datacrons
Datacrons are shiny little cubes that you can find throughout the various planets of SWTOR. Clicking on them typically gives you a bonus to one of your attributes of +2, though some can give +3-4, while others will give you a Datacron Fragment which you combine with others in special locations to form more powerful datacrons. I haven’t done the combining yet so I don’t know the details for those, but I do know you can do it and have found two of the stations that you do it in, so I’ll know more about it once I find some more pieces and can put them together.

For the best resource I’ve found online for datacron locations, I direct you once again to swtor-spy.com. You can also search for them on YouTube. I prefer video walkthroughs to written instructions and screenshots, so if I can’t find what I’m looking for on one site I’ll try out another.

There are two reasons why you want to hunt these datacrons down. First, because they are permanent increases to your attributes so by not going after them you’re making yourself less powerful than you could/should be. Granted, not all of them are useful for every character, such as +2 Aim on a Force user, but you should at least go for the ones that you can benefit from. Second, these are also Codex entries, meaning you get more “free” experience just from finding them.

More to Come
I’ve got plenty more tips for you, but we’re already pushing 5k words on this one and it’s a big mish-mash of all kinds of stuff thrown together as it is, so I don’t want it to get much bigger.

If there’s anything in particular you would like for me to cover, feel free to leave your suggestion in the comments below. Otherwise I’ll just keep on keeping on with whatever happens to be peaking my interest at the moment when I start writing the next one.

 
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Posted by on December 29, 2011 in Crew Skills, Leveling, Player vs Player, SWTOR

 

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Druid Leveling: 1-29 Feral

Playing a Feral Druid
Feral Druids are an odd class to play at low levels. It’s almost like Blizzard tried too hard to make us viable with a limited tool set early on and then slowly trickled in all the other abilities that we actually need to be more than mangle-spammers. In short, if you’re new to playing a Feral Druid be prepared to relearn how to play your class every ten levels because our spells are scattered all over the place.

Feral is also somewhat unique because it’s both a tank spec and a DPS spec at the same time. That also makes your talent choices interesting because some talents benefit both roles while others do only one or the other. You’ll need to decide whether you want to focus more on DPS or on tanking, or if you want to play that middle ground as much as possible.

While playing as a Cat you have the option of using stealth to move around undetected in PvE and PvP, though you don’t get any direct benefit from being in stealth right away. As a Bear you just run up to things and smack things in the face until they’re dead. For most of the leveling process Cat damage is based on bleeds and burst while Bear damage is based on steady, repeated blows that utilize the Bears added survivability to be able to live long enough for those steady blows to win you the fight.

Important Spells & Abilities
I’m going to do the spell breakdown a little bit differently this time around than I have in the past. I’m going to break down the important spells based on which forms you have available to you (Caster/Normal, Cat, and Bear) and also which type of spell it is. Druids are the ultimate hybrid class and even though a LOT of the spells you learn aren’t important to being a Feral Druid I want to cover the ones that are worth noting so that you have a firm grasp of what you’re capable of.

I’m still not listing every single spell (though close to it) as not all spells are useful to every spec.

Note that all numeric values are taken from the level 29 version of the spell for the purposes of this post.

Caster Form (Levels 1-8)

  • Wrath (1): Deals 45-49 Nature Damage to the target.
  • Moonfire (4): Burns the enemy for 11-13 Arcane damage and then additional Arcane damage over 12 seconds.

I list these spells primarily because this is what you’ll use to level until at least level 8 since you have no forms to choose from until then. However, it’s also important to be familiar with these if you’re going to PvP. As a Feral Druid there’s a lot of crowd control that you can shrug off, but being rooted in place is not one of them. In cases like those, you need to be able to pop out of your feral form to attack with spells. Even as Feral I keep Moonfire keybound an in reach for just such an occasion. I’ll get into more detail on when using Moonfire and other caster spells is a good idea as a Feral even though using these spells pops you out of your Cat/Bear form in a later post directed specifically at PvP.

For leveling from 1-8, you’re basically going to spam Wrath and/or Moonfire until your targets are dead.

Cat Form (Levels 8-29)

  • Cat Form (8): Shift into Cat form, causing Agility to increase Attack Power (2:1). Also protects the caster from Polymorph effects and allows the use of cat abilities. Shapeshifting frees the caster of movement slowing effects.
  • Claw (8): Claw the enemy, causing 100% of normal damage plus 38. Awards 1 combo point.
  • Ferocious Bite (8): Finishing Move causes damage per combo point and consumes up to 35 additional energy to increase damage by up to 100%, and heals you for up to 1% of your total max health for each 10 energy used.
  • Rake (8): Rake the target for Bleed damage and additional Bleed damage every 3 seconds for 9 seconds. Awards 1 combo point.
  • Mangle (10): Mangle the target for 354% normal damage plus 3 and causes the target to take 30% additional damage from bleed effects for 1 minute. Awards 1 combo point.
  • Prowl (10): Allows the druid to prowl around (stealth), but reduces your movement speed by 30%. Lasts until cancelled.
  • Ravage (22): Ravage the target, causing 664% damage plus 3 to the target. Must be prowling and behind the target. Awards 1 combo point.
  • Skull Bash (22): Charge and skull bash the target, interrupting spellcasting and preventing any spell in that school from being cast for 4 seconds.
  • Tiger’s Fury (24): Increases physical damage done by 15% for 6 seconds. Requires Cat form. Does not break prowling.
  • Cower (26): Cower, causing no damage but lowering your threat by 10%, making the enemy less likely to attack you.
  • Dash (26): Increases movement speed by 70% while in Cat form for 15 seconds. Does not break prowling.
  • Feline Grace (26): Reduces damage from falling.

In case you haven’t noticed, Druids get a crapload of spells. And these are just the ones that you use strictly in Cat form.

As a leveling Cat the most important spells for you are: Mangle, Rake, Ferocious Bite, Prowl and Ravage. Prowl (stealth) and Ravage are used as openers and with decent gear you can one-shot a lot of quest mobs with Ravage. Especially if you buff your damage with Tiger’s Fury first. Mangle is your spam-attack, Rake is your primary Bleed, and Ferocious Bite is your finisher. We’ll get into more detail about how to use these in the sections below.

Claw is mentioned SOLELY because it’s your only decent attack from level 8-9 in Cat Form. At level 10 you’ll take this off of your bars and never look at this worthless piece of garbage again. This spell only exists to give non-Feral Druids an attack to use while in Cat Form, it’s not meant for you. It costs more Energy than Mangle and does a fraction of its damage, so don’t use this ever again once you reach level 10.

While Skull Bash won’t see much use while you’re leveling, it’s good to stay familiar with it and keep it somewhere easily reachable. You don’t need to interrupt spells from quest mobs, but if you develop that habit now you won’t have to worry about trying to get into the habit when you reach max level where dungeon and raid fights demand interrupts.


Bear Form (Levels 15-29) [jump to tanking]

  • Bear Form (15): Shift into Bear form, increasing armor by 120% and Stamina by 20%. Significantly increases threat generation (500%), causes Agility to increase Attack Power (2:1), and protects the caster from Polymorph effects and allows the use of bear abilities. Shapeshifting frees the caster from movement slowing effects.
  • Mangle (10): Mangle the target for 88% normal damage plus 93 and causes the target to take 30% additional damage from bleed effects for 1 minute.
  • Demoralizing Roar (15): Reduce the physical damage caused by all enemies within 10 yards by 10% for 30 seconds.
  • Growl (15): Taunts the target to attack you, but has no effect if the target is already attacking you.
  • Maul (15): An attack that instantly deals 35 physical damage. Effects which increase Bleed damage also increase Maul damage.
  • Swipe (18): Swipe nearby enemies, inflicting 51 damage. Damage is increased by attack power.
  • Enrage (22): Generates 20 Rage, and then generates an additional 10Rage over 10 seconds.
  • Skull Bash (22): Charge and skull bash the target, interrupting spellcasting and preventing any spell in that school from being cast for 4 seconds.
  • Faerie Fire (24): Decreases the armor of the target by 4% for 5 minutes. While affected, the target cannot stealth or turn invisible. Stacks up to 3 times. Deals damage and additional threat when used in Bear Form.
  • Challenging Roar (28): Forces all nearby enemies within 10 yards to focus attacks on you for 6 seconds.

Did I mention Druids get a crapload of spell? Here’s the list of the ones strictly used in Bear form.

Bear form is most often used for tanking, but it’s also a strong option for leveling; especially for those of you who enjoy using AoE and fighting multiple mobs at once. All of these spells are important in one way or another. For boss tanking Mangle, Demoralizing Roar, and Maul are your primary spells with Growl getting an honorable mention in case you’ve got some strong DPS in your group. For questing or fighting trash your major spells are: Mangle, Demoralizing Roar, Maul, and Swipe with Challenging Roar and Growl being mentioned again for those DPS that might draw agro in dungeons.

We’ll talk more about Bear tanking later on. For now, know that if you’re going to be bear tanking you’ll make use of basically all of these spells. The least likely spell for you as a tank is going to be Skull Bash since you usually have DPS focused on interrupts, but if you can add yours to the mix then you only strengthen your group.

Healing Spells (Levels 3-29)

  • Rejuvenation (3): Heals the target for 70 every 3 seconds for 12 seconds.
  • Regrowth (12): Heals a friendly target for 182-202 and another 57 over 6 seconds.
  • Revive (12): Returns the spirit to the body, restoring a dead target to life with 35% max health and mana. Cannot be cast when in combat.
  • Rebirth (20): Returns the spirit to the body, restoring a dead target to life with 20% health and mana. Can be used during combat.
  • Remove Corruption (24): Nullifies corrupting effects on the friendly target, removing 1 Curse and 1 Poison effect.

I wouldn’t ordinarily bother listing healing spells on a guide written specifically for a Tank/DPS spec, but Druids are special.

There’s a method of healing that we call pre-HoT’ing, which is casting Heal over-Time (HoT) spells on your tank before they pull so that you nullify or greatly reduce the amount of initial damage that they take once combat begins. Bears operate off of a Rage mechanic which starts at 0 and fills up during combat. Because of this you can take great advantage of pre-HoT’ing yourself while questing or during dungeons to lessen the load on your healer. If you’re always out of Rage between pulls then you can also make use of your talents for a free 10 Rage after casting your HoT’s to give you a head start in the pull.

The most likely spell for you to use in a pre-HoT is Rejuvenation because it has a longer duration and a cheaper mana cost. Regrowth only lasts for 6 seconds and it’s a front-loaded HoT as well as expensive, so only use it when you know there’s going to be a lot of incoming damage or when you need to top yourself off from the last pull.

Rebirth is mentioned because being able to resurrect someone mid-combat is pretty stinking useful. Revive I mention only because I can’t believe how many times I’ve had people die in pugs and nobody in the group has or has bothered training a resurrection spell. Learn it. Use it. Love it.

Remove Corruption deserves special mention because you can’t use Prowl (stealth) while you have DoT’s on you because taking damage removes you from stealth. You can enter prowl, you just won’t be able to stay in it for more than a second or two. Removing curses and poisons that deal damage can save you a lot of problems when playing as a cat.

Utility Spells (Levels 4-29)

  • Thorns (5): Thorns sprout from the friendly target causing Nature damage to attackers when hit. Lasts 20 seconds.
  • Entangling Roots (7): Roots the target in place for 30 seconds. Damage caused my interrupt the effect.
  • Teleport: Moonglade (15): Teleports the caster to the Moonglade.
  • Aquatic Form (16): Shift into aquatic form, increasing swim speed by 50% and allowing the druid to breathe underwater. Also protects from Polymorph effects. Shifting frees the caster from movement slowing effects.
  • Travel Form (16): Shift into travel form, increasing movement speed by 40% and protecting you from Polymorph effects. Only usable outdoors. Shifting frees the caster of movement slowing effects.
  • Omen of Clarity (20): Your damage spells, attacks, and auto-attacks have a chance to cuase you to enter a Clearcasting state. The Clearcasting state reduces the Mana, Rage or Energy cost of your next damaging or healing spell or offensive feral ability by 100%.
  • Faerie Fire (24): Decreases the armor of the target by 4% for 5 minutes. While affected, the target cannot stealth or turn invisible. Stacks up to 3 times.
  • Innervate (28): Causes the target to regenerate 5% of their maximum mana over 10 seconds. If cast on self, you regenerate an additional 15% of your maximum mana over 10 seconds.
  • Sooth (28): Soothes the target, dispelling all enrage effects.

Yep. Crapload.

Thorns is a really cool spell that actually puts out a surprising amount of damage. The bad news is, it kicks you out of bear/cat form to use it. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t cast it, but it does mean you should generally avoid doing so mid-combat. This is another spell you should be casting in between pulls for extra damage. If you’re not the tank, cast it on your tank between pulls instead of yourself.

Entangling Roots isn’t used much by Ferals in PvE, though it’s pretty common in PvP. In terms of leveling and questing I like to use this when I’m gathering mostly so that when I don’t want to fight a mob I’ll just root them in place, gather my node and then leave. If you’re a Bear that’s pretty much the only time you’ll cast Roots in PvE.

Teleport: Moonglade is a free ticket to your class trainer any time you want it. Moonglade also has a couple of professions trainers (Herbalism and…something else, I think) and a couple of vendors that sell items that often can be flipped on the AH for a decent profit.

Aquatic Form and Travel Form are both great for mobility, and they can both be cast while you’re in combat. They’re fantastic for PvP, and occasionally useful in PvE.

Omen of Clarity is worth mentioning because you’re going to see those two bars of green leaves pop up on your screen from time to time and you might as well know what it means. Omen of Clarity (OoC) essentially makes your next attack or heal free, so you generally want to make use of the OoC proc by casting a spell with the largest Rage/Energy/Mana cost that has the most benefit. For Feral that’s almost always going to be Mangle or sometimes Ferocious Bite in Cat form, though you may also want to use it for a quick Regrowth if you need some emergency healing.

Innervate doesn’t mean much to Ferals since you almost never use mana, but your healers will love you for casting it on them.

And last is Sooth. Sooth is very often overlooked by Druids because you get it at such an early level and yet have virtually no reason at all to use it. For leveling purposes this spell can pretty much be ignored since anything that does enrage on you will likely die within a matter of seconds if you’re attacking it in Cat form. In dungeons you’ll occasionally run into a boss that you can use this on where it’s useful, but it breaks Cat/Bear form so doing so is risky. The main reason why I mention it is because it does have some definite uses in PvP against Warriors and some class pets that have enrages.

Leveling a Feral Druid

  • Questing Single Mob Stealth: [Cat Form] Prowl, Tiger’s Fury, Ravage, Mangle, Rake, Ferocious Bite, Mangle spam
  • Questing Single Mob No Stealth: [Cat Form] Tiger’s Fury, Mangle, Rake, Mangle x1-3, Ferocious Bite
  • Questing Multi-Mob: [Bear Form] Mangle (mob 1), Demoralizing Roar, Maul, Swipe, Maul, Mangle (mob 2), Swipe, Maul

Questing Single Mob
The fastest way to kill things 1v1 is to use Prowl to sneak up behind them, pop Tiger’s Fury for added damage, and then use Ravage for big burst damage followed by Mangle for even more burst. If the mob manages to survive, you follow that with Rake’s bleed effect which is 30% stronger thanks to Mangle’s debuff, and then Ferocious Bite as a finisher. If the mob still isn’t dead, switch to spamming your Mangle attack until the mob is either dead or has 5 combo points on it at which time you Ferocious Bite again and then return to Mangle spam.

Rarely should you ever have to worry about normal mobs surviving through that full rotation as a Feral.

While using stealth is often looked at as the “right” way to play a Feral, it’s not really necessary. It’s perfectly acceptable to just run up to something and Mangle it’s face a bit before using Ferocious Bite to finish them off. This is most effective when you’re in heirloom gear or other good gear for your level rather than a hodgepodge of whites and greens that don’t add Agility.

Questing Multi-Mob
Using AoE to take down groups of mobs is my favorite way to kill things. This rotation is also what you’ll use when tanking dungeons. Those four spells are the key to tanking form level 15 up to level 69. For that massive stretch of levels there’s virtually no change at all to your rotation for taking. You can assign Mangle, Maul, Swipe and Demo Roar to your 1-4 keys and after hitting Demo Roar once at the beginning of a fight you can spam 1-3 without even looking at your monitor for the rest of the encounter and you’ll do just fine.

The reason why I mention using Mangle on multiple targets is two fold. First, Mangle is your hardest hitting attack so spreading out that big damage will help bring all of the mobs down faster and more evenly time-wise. Second, because Mangle increases Bleed damage by 30% which Maul takes advantage of even though it isn’t a Bleed effect. By default Maul only hits a single target, but with a Major Glyph you can make it hit two targets which is why it’s great for AoE situations.


How to Tank: 29 Feral Druid
Tanking on a Bear Druid is easy while you’re leveling. Before patch 4.3 it was a little bit tougher because Bear Form didn’t get its full defensive bonus until higher levels, but now you get it from level 15 on. To see which spells you’ll be using as a Bear, refer to the Bear Spells section above for a list of all the spells you’ll need to have ready in this level range.

Tanking as a Bear is incredibly simple at early levels. It can be a little bit boring since you’ll be using the same three attack spells over and over as they come off of cooldown, but tabbing through multiple enemies to keep threat spread out over all the mobs can keep it a bit more interesting.

Pulling
There are three methods of pulling that you can use: body pull, feral charge, and faerie fire.

Body Pulling is simply running into the group of mobs and letting the presence of your toon draw the agro. This is the simplest method of pulling, but also the least effective since it generates no threat at all.

Feral Charge is a bit more effect since it’s a gap closer, meaning you rush right in quickly and get started with combat and threat right away.

Faerie Fire is much like Feral Charge except that the range is longer and you’re not closing the gap any faster than with a body pull.

The most effective way to start a pull is to combine those last to. You do this by casting Faerie Fire on the target furthest away from you, then casting Feral Charge on the mob closest to the center of the pack you’re about to pull (any mob in the cluster will work, though).

Once you’re in range of the mobs your first priority is to cast Demoralizing Roar to reduce the damage of all of those mobs. From there you move on to your damage rotation.

Damage Rotation
Until you learn Lacerate at level 66 there are only three spells you’ll need to worry about for your damage rotation: Mangle, Maul and Swipe.

Mangle is a solid burst of damage on a single target, with a 6 second cooldown.
Maul is reasonable damage on a single target, with a 3 second cooldown..
Swipe is an AoE attack that hits all enemies within 8 yards of you, with a 3 second cooldown.

You want to try to use Mangle on each target in the pack at least once so that Mangles +30% Bleed damage debuff is on as many targets as possible. The reason for this is that Maul benefits from Mangle’s debuff even though it’s not actually a Bleed effect. Another reason why we’re spreading it around instead of just focusing one target is because you also want to use the Glyph of Maul which makes Maul hit two targets instead of one, so being able to increase Maul’s damage by 30% on multiple targets is just free, extra damage.

Since Maul and Swipe both have 3 second cooldowns, you’ll alternate these a lot, with Mangle thrown in when it’s available.

If you’re facing a boss or a single mob, you can leave Swipe off the list and just use Mangle/Maul as they’re available, filling in the empty spaces with Faerie Fire until you have 3 stacks of it (the max).

Taunts and Drawing Agro
Bears have two taunts, one that’s single target and one that’s area.

Growl has a single target, and an 8 second cooldown.
Challenging Roar hits all mobs within 10 yards, forcing agro (not threat*) for 6 seconds, and has a 3 minute cooldown.

Growl is going to be your primary taunt because of it’s significantly shorter cooldown. The main thing you need to know about taunts, if they’re unfamiliar to you, is that terms of threat a Taunt puts your threat equal to the person who currently has threat. So if their threat is 500 and yours is only 300, your threat meter immediately jumps up to 500 to match theirs. This is important to remember because taunting something doesn’t just instantly guarantee that the problem is going away. Unless you do something to generate more threat on that target than whoever had threat before is continuing to generate on them, you’re going to lose it again.

For example, if a Mage pulls threat on one mob and you taunt it, but don’t do anything else, if that Mage continues to cast spells against that mob he’s going to steal threat again as soon as he reaches 130% of your threat level (assuming he’s at caster range and not melee range, or else it’s only 110%). The way you combat that is to use attacks on that specific mob to generate a significant enough threat lead that you will not lose threat again before the mob is dead.

If you taunt a mob and they’re not close enough for you to just hit them right away to reestablish agro, use other means of generating agro such as Faerie Fire or use your Feral Charge to close in with the stray mob, followed with Mangle to boost your threat back up.

Challenging Roar forces everything in its radius to fight you for 6 seconds no matter what the threat levels are. Even if your threat level is 300 and theirs is 3 million, you’ve got agro for those 6 seconds. The key issue here though, is that this isn’t an actual taunt. A taunt resets your threat level to match whoever had threat at the time, where this spell leaves threat levels where they are an instead just makes the targets ignore everyone else until the spell ends.

In order to use this spell effectively you need to follow it up immediately with as much AoE as you can. That means hitting Swipe, Maul, Demoralizing Roar, and anything else you have to throw at them (like Engineering explosives). As a Bear you generate threat at 5 times the amount of damage that you put out, and no DPS classes near your level should be able to put out 500% of your damage. Certain spells, like Faerie Fire, also generate threat which is not based solely on damage, but you don’t need to know all the math behind those so I’m not going to mention it.

[Note: I've had some trouble finding the exact percentages that are used currently for pulling threat. General consensus on twitter was that 110% is correct for melee range threat, while there's some confusion on ranged being 120% or 130%. I'm not an expert on threat, so if I got the numbers right just let me know and I'll get it corrected.]

Talent Spec: 29 Feral Druid

  • Feral Swiftness 2/2: Increases your movement speed by 30% in Cat Form and increases your chance to doge while in Cat or Bear forms by 4%. In addition, your Dash and Stampeding Roar have a 100% chance to remove all movement impairing effects from affected targets when used.
  • Furor 3/3: Grants a 100% chance to gain 10 Rage when you shift into Bear form, allows you to keep up to 100 of your Energy when shifting into Cat form, and increases your maximum mana by 15%.
  • Fury Swipes 3/3: When you auto-attack while in Cat or Bear form, you have a 15% chance to cause a Fury Swipe dealing 310% weapon damage. This effect cannot occur more than once every 3 seconds.
  • Primal Fury 2/2: Gives a 100% chance to gain an additional 5 Rage anytime you get a critical strike while in Bear form and your critical strikes from Cat form abilities that add combo points have a 100% chance to add an additional combo point.
  • Feral Charge 1/1: Teaches Feral Charge (Bear) and Feral Charge (Cat). Bear – causes you to charge an enemy, immobilizing them for 4 seconds, 15 second cooldown. Cat – causes you to leap behind an enemy, dazing them for 3 seconds, 30 second cooldown.

This is the spec that I would recommend for level 29, regardless of whether you want to be a Bear tank or a Cat DPS. I have some alternative suggestions down below, in case you like the sound of some of those better for your early leveling. The Feral tree is packed with lots of really cool talents, and depending on what your focus is in game you may prefer one over another.

Feral Swiftness is one of the more iconic talents of the feral spec, allowing you to move faster in Cat form and granting an extra 4% dodge while you’re in a feral form. Increasing your movement speed is often considered a trait of PvP, but it’s a quality of life thing that does have uses in PvE as well. I suggest you spend both of your first points to max this out.

Furor is a stable for every Druid, regardless of spec. For Ferals the main thing is free Rage when shifting into Bear form and not having your Energy drained when shifting into Cat form. It’s a big time saver, and it’s especially useful when tanking so that you’re not constantly having to body pull and start from scratch every time.

Fury Swipes is free damage. Whether that free damage is helping you deal more damage as a Cat, or it’s helping you deal more damage (and thus, more threat) as a Bear, it’s helping no matter what.

Primal Fury is the most changeable talent on my list. It gives you free Rage as a Bear and free combo points as a Cat, which both serve to make you more effective in combat. This is more important for Cats than it is for Bears as oftentimes you can end up with excessive amounts of Rage as a Bear and nothing to dump them into, where a Cat can often end up starved for energy and get better damage on their finishing moves from free combo points without having to spend the energy to generate those points otherwise.

Substitutions:
If you’re going for a straight Cat build and you know you have no interest in tanking, then there are a couple of other choices you might want to consider.

Predatory Strikes 2/2 is a good substitute for points from Furor. It will give you an extra 50% crit chance when using Ravage on targets above 80% health, and give your finishing moves a 20% chance per combo point to make your next Nature spell an instant cast and cost no mana. This is very much a PvP talent, but it also adds survivability in PvE by giving you access to free and instant healing or crowd control spells.

All four of the talents on the 2nd tier of the Feral tree are good. Infected Wounds 2/2 causes your primary attack skills to slow the target’s movement by 25% and their attack speed by 10% which is great for survival and PvP. Feral Aggression 2/2 increases your Ferocious Bite damage by 10% and causes your Faerie Fire spell to apply all 3 stacks of FF in a single cast.

Glyphs

Prime Glyphs

There’s really no question of which glyph is better for you here. Mangle is your primary attack for both Feral forms. The only time I would settle for Tiger’s Fury is if you can’t find or can’t afford Mangle.

Major Glyphs

If you’re going to participate in Bear tanking, use Maul. If you’re a crazy cat lady, use Ferocious Bite. If you don’t have heirlooms, use Thorns.

Maul gives you no benefit as a Cat, and FerBite gives you no benefit as a Bear, so if you’re going to specialize in one or the other then don’t go for a glyph that does you no good.

Thorns does a lot of damage for a cast-and-forget spell, but only if enemies have enough time to hit you. If you have fully enchanted heirlooms and you’re slaying things in a couple of globals, then Thorns isn’t useful to you either.

Minor Glyphs

I’m going to leave the minor glyphs up to you. Personally, I love the Aquatic Form glyph because I hate moving slow and I love taking advantage of water areas in PvP that my opponents cannot. Dash is another favorite of mine since I’m all about moving faster and doing it often. Unburdened Rebirth is first on the list because in practical terms it’s got the most benefit in the long run if you play with other people in your group.

Gearing Up Your Feral Druid
When choosing your gear your top priority is Agility regardless of being a Cat or a Bear. If you’re a Bear tank then your secondary stat is Stamina. If you’re a Cat, then your secondary stat is Agility.

No, that wasn’t a typo.

Other stats that interest you are: Hit, Crit (Cat), Haste, and Dodge (Bears).

You can get some pretty decent Agility gear from the Leatherworking profession at all levels. It’s the one profession I have never maxed on any of my characters, so I don’t wish it upon anyone, but if you know a LW or have on already then you can get yourself some decent upgrades in advance.

If you like to run dungeons, you can get some pretty nice upgrades.
Ragefire Chasm: Chest, Cloak
Deadmines: Cloak, Weapon, Legs
Wailing Caverns: Chest, Belt, Boots, Legs, Gloves, Shoulders
Shadowfang Keep: Shoulders
Blackfathom Deeps: Legs, Bracers, Weapon, Gloves
Stormwind Stockades: Helm (Alliance only), Boots, Legs
Gnomeregan: Rings, Bracers, Chest (Alliance only),

Macros
At Cynwise’s suggestion, I’ve decided to put the macros for each class on their own page. For Druid macros, simply click on the following link, or look under the Macros menu at the top of this page: Druid Macros.

 
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Posted by on December 9, 2011 in Druid, Guide, Leveling, Macro, Melee, Player vs Player

 

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