God damn it...

I KNEW IT... I FUCKING KNEW IT. There's just no way around it now: Blizzard hates me and my brother. Hate is a strong word, and it's the only word that can describe how Blizzard feels about us and why they therefore treat us like crap at every available opportunity.

This link shows Blizzard's acknowledgment of a bug that has existed since the onset of the arena. Why does this prove that Blizzard hate us?

Power word shield does not work on feral druids.

Are you fucking kidding me?

... at least they're fixing it, but this totally screwed up our first week of arena ... my anger is palpable.


Alright, Guntir and I did extensive testing on the PTR and found that Primal Tenacity was causing the bug, we reported it, and a blue has locked the thread giving me hope that it will be resolved by release.

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New Comp

My friend is going to be playing my warlock a bit, and since my lock is on a different account, that's another raid member... we'll have to switch up our comp a little bit, but it's looking pretty good so far:


Also, we got a new tank in the guild - Antihope Unholy DK. He tanked heroic violet hold for us last night and did very well at it, so we tossed out an invite to him and he accepted.

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I'll Make This Quick

There exists a lot of complaining in the forums because of the change to dps in WotLK (that is, any dps spec can dps competitively to any other in comparable gear, regardless of class), mainly from rogues.

"Why should anyone roll a rogue now, we used to be the top single-target dps class in the game, now we aren't."

Here's why anyone would roll a rogue now: they like playing a rogue. It's the same reason I rolled a druid back in the day, and the same reason I have a rogue now... I like playing them. Now that rogues have to actually work to be competitive dps-wise, the whole experiment has fallen apart because rogues aren't easy-mode for raid spots.

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I Hate Ferals

It took me a while to remember this fact. 90% of the player base of World of Warcraft are terrible at PvP, and usually poor at grasping the full extent of the concepts required to PvP well. Let me put down a 'for instance':

"Ferals have none of the survival talents/abilities of other classes [long list of survival talents/abilities removed for reading sake... Bubble, etc], and therefore will be terrible in the arena as they will be the first targets and receive the train of death while their partners are ignored or cc'd."

This is just patently absurd. I understand that the previous seasons have been riddled with min/maxing their way to the top, but s4 really opened the eyes of a lot of players and showed how hybrid play can really be just as effective (and more effective) in scenarios where played right. For instance, restokin+rogue was an amazing hybrid team which trumped resto+warrior if both teams were played perfectly because of the slew of utility and supplemental dps from the restokin coupled with the longevity and utility of the rogue, not to mention they were the top 2 most mobile classes in the game. Given this understanding, my guess is that this person hasn't even looked into talents other than the ones which will increase his/her dps. Sure, if you take HotW then you can't take PotP or perhaps even Primal Tenacity, which will greatly reduce your longevity in PvP. However, by dropping HotW and perhaps Predatory Instincts, you can pick up these other really useful survival talents at very little lost dps.

"Ferals will have no place in 3/5-man arenas as their only utility requires them to stop dps'ing long enough to get a cast off, and that will never happen because their dps is so low compared to other melees that they need 100% dps time to keep up."

Again, patently absurd. Next to the Retadins before they were nerfed, ferals were doing the MOST damage in arenas consistently, with rogues a distant 3rd. The problem with rogue dps is that the only arena spec we saw was Mutilate, and while Mutilate rogues do a lot of damage, it's very crit-dependent and bursty. All we had to do was let the rogue get the opener on my priest, then I would get my opener on him and we'd win. I could cyclone/root through his evasion while my priest got away, then I could flat out-dps him and without Cheat Death, he would die. The ONLY time we had trouble with a rogue was when there were two of them, and we occasionally beat that team too... but back to the subject at hand. Roots and cyclone are both 1.5 second casts, which isn't super hard to get off in a PvP settings. Not to mention that since Maim doesn't necessarily break on damage anymore, you can use that as an effective CC as well because of the short cooldown. We had many MANY matches on beta that would require me to Maim one, root the other, and cyclone the maimed target for my priest to make his get-away, but it always worked out well, and half the time the other team didn't see it coming and would trinket maim only to get hit with the cyclone-train (as an added bonus, when they didn't do that and trinketed roots/cyclone, I would just switch up the casts and put roots on the cycloned target and vise versa).

Do I think that ferals will rule the arenas? No, not even close. I do think that our Priest+Feral team will be in great contention for a high rating though, simply because it's an unplayed comp for the most part and no one will instinctively know how to handle it. We already have strategies set up for a number of different likely popular comps, and we handled the good ones really well in beta. I realize beta and live are two different beasts, but if all plays the same, we could do really well.

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Dare I Dream?

Frequently, though less of late, I find myself reeling over the glory days of arena play, if one can truly speak as if the days were truly glorious. We have not played an actual arena match in about a month, and by a an "actual" arena match, I mean one in which we were trying as hard as possible to win, talking on vent the whole time, sometimes shouting about things under or out of our control. Essentially, this is what I refer to as the glory days; the sense of strife is what made them glorious. We were not the best, in fact we were far from it and never once broke into the 1900 bracket. We can very close at one point - our highest rating is listed as 1873 on the armory's statistics page, but I feel like we actually hit 1891 at one point. Either way, we were not even eligible for the previous season's shoulder gear.

Bah, that's not the point.

The point is this: I'm at work and I have very little work to do, actually. This economic depression we're going through has left my little company with few clients willing or able to spend and thus we are short of some work. In any case, I'm sitting here watching some of the old wow videos I have, mainly arena videos, and I'm watched one in particular that struck my fancy - Heidiheinken's Warmaster video. This video is dated at the beginning of season two (you can tell because he has a portion in there illustrating how best to kite warmasters as a warlock and that was removed about halfway through TBC), but the ideas are still valid today. I like this video particularly for two main reasons: firstly, it has Through the Fire and Flames during a mirror match and that song rocks; and secondly, he has subtitled the entire fight with tips, explanation, commentary, etc. concerning the warlock+druid duo (which he rocks).

There is a bit in there where he praises Lifebloom versus other class' heals in terms of arena viability. "Lifebloom is so good that it might be more efficient to simply heal through Curse of Agony rather than to dispel it. Lifebloom heals as much as Flash of Light if it gets dispelled, and twice as much over the duration of a three-stack. Lifebloom is a DoT on crack, but for healing. When you team a survivability spec'd warlock [23/38/0 back in the day] with a survivability spec'd resto druid, you have the most formidable combination in twos play against any other healer+dps team." The thing that impresses me the most is that he's absolutely right. His team was almost a year ahead of the curve, his druid figured out that the warlock didn't take enough damage to really NEED swiftmend, so he altered his spec and went with the equivalent restokin-type spec but played it defensively rather than supplemental damage. Essentially, his druid had about 300 more healing than any other druid in the game, had talents which made his lifebloom tick for way more than every other druid, and he had something egregious like 400mp5... when you team an infinite mana healer with an infinite mana dps/drainer, you get an amazing team.

This is what was fun about arena, trying out unknown comps, specs, styles, etc. Getting hyped over matches and gushing over this move or that situation and just getting pumped up crazy-style. This is why I am already excited about the start of a new arena season: we already have tried out some PvP styles and specs at 80 on the beta, so we have a bit of a leg-up on the competition in that regard, and we have a comp now with which I doubt we will ever see a mirror-match.

Feral + Disc/Holy

I know I've already talked about this comp a bit, but it really doesn't go far enough into the play-style to warrant its finale yet. First off, let's talk about the specs. The feral spec is missing some older, outdated, talents which one would normally see on traditional builds from different druids. The fact of the matter is, Predatory Instincts, while improved from TBC to scale, is still an outdated talent and not really worth the points. The same is true for Heart of the Wild as well, 10% more attack power in cat form would be nice, but it's definitely not worth 5 talent points, and it's DEFINITELY not worth the 3 required from Predatory Instincts as well. Instead, I have eight talent points to throw around into less popular talents which could bring more utility to the playing field. Talents such as Nurturing Instincts, Protector of the Pack, Rend and Tear, and a full 5 points into Naturalist.

Nurturing Instincts is a good talent, though people complain that 70% of our agility to healing just isn't enough especially when coupled with our limited mana pool. My contention on the subject is this: I would still put 2 points into Nurturing Instincts if it gave me no healing; I don't take it for the healing given, but for the buff to healing received. Nurturing Instincts increases healing received while in cat form by 20%, effectively making me take huge amounts of healing, which is good because cat form is reasonably squishy. This is the crux of the healer+feral 2s arena viability. That is, without this talent, there is no feral arena viability... but it's a moot point since every feral takes it by accident for the bonus to their healing... shmucks.

Rend and Tear and Naturalist are just two amazing talents, the former being overlooked by most druids in the forums because of its cost. Yeah, it takes 5 talent points to make it awesome, but it's reasonably awesome enough to warrant that cost. Many druids still contend that "Ferocious Bite is still too wonky to use viability in an arena setting" and I tend to agree, however that is again missing the point entirely. See, I like to play as a Shredder, which is to say that I use Shred as my primary source of damage, which is a multiplier attack. Don't get me wrong, Mangle is a multiplier attack as well, just not as big of one. Essentially, I take RaT because it has this little blurb with 5 points in it: "Causes your Shred and Maul to do an additional 10% damage against targets who are bleeding." If I'm doing my job right, my opponents are always bleeding, and a 10% multiplier for an ability which is a straight multiplier adds up to a gross amount of damage. Similarly, because I don't have to spend those eight points in PI and HotW, I get to take three additional points into Naturalist over other druids, which makes me do 6% more damage with physical attacks... which means another 6% multiplier for Shred which already has a laundry list of multipliers. I have had Shreds in the arena against DKs that crit for 5k damage under the proper conditions. We had one match against a resto shamang + dk in which the resto shamang would simply not run OOM because of water shield and naturally high mp5/spirit. Eventually, I hated a plan to simply burst down the DK whilst we caught the shamang napping on his duties. So, I saved up some cooldowns and got the DK to about 75%, 5-pt maim'ed him with Mangle, FFF, and Rake up, popped Tiger's Fury, hit Berserk, and went to town with Shred. 5k, 5k, 5k, 11k FB crit, dead. I think I had a clearcasting in there for the FB, because it would never have gotten so high otherwise, but it still was a sight that the shamang was ill-prepared for, and I suspect that our opponents once the arena is opened again will also not be prepared for.

The last "weird" talent I picked up was Protector of the Pack. Right now, this talent is a bit underwhelming in that it relies on the number of party members to determine how much damage reduction is applied. Currently, it would only give me 3% damage reduction while in bear form in 2s arena, but it was confirmed by GhostCrawler that the party restriction is being removed and it will be indeed turning Bear form into an honest-to-goodness defensive stance (with battle stance like damage output) at 12% damage reduction flat from the 3-point talent. Personally, I don't see why every druid wouldn't want this talent as 12% damage reduction is very nearly the 20% damage reduction warlocks got from soul link, except we don't have to keep a pet up and our damage is a little bit more intensive. Essentially, I'm rocking ~50% physical damage reduction currently in bear form, with this talent I would have an additional 12% damage reduction, I can pop Barkskin while in bear form for an additional 20% damage reduction, and I have Primal Tenacity which reduces damage taken while stunned by 30%. If we take damage reduction to be multiplicative (which I think it is as the damage is reduced, then the remainder is reduced, etc), then that would net me about (1.0 - 1.0*0.50*0.88*0.80*0.70) 75.36% physical damage reduction and 50.72% non-physical damage reduction while stunned in bearform with barkskin up. That should speak for itself in terms of utility and survivability.

Additionally, I bring crowd control utility, and innervate for my priest to the table. I can, at almost all times, root one opponent and cyclone the other, giving my priest enough time to make a hasty escape and get some well deserved healing and/or drinking into the match. This also comes very much in handy against double dps teams who try to target the priest (though that happens less and less now... which is why I went with the survivability talents for bear form so I can live through the double dps burst while my priest is cc'd). We fought a couple of mage+rogue teams that succumbed to trying to gib me while cc'ing my priest only to lose to us because of my amazing physical damage reduction, feral charge school lock, and my partner's grand mishmash of abilities.

The priest spec I linked has a few notables in it. First, and foremost, is Lightwell. Many disregard Lightwell as a useless PvP ability only because it requires the dps of the team to stop doing what they do in order to us it. However, we understand it as much more than that: it's an amazing heal in and of itself, but it cannot be crowd controlled. When the priest is eating polymorph and/or blind/sap etc, I have to live through the burst damage that the other team can put out, and this is where Lightwell REALLY shines. I take damage slowly, meaning that any amount of healing over time magics used on me will really do a good job, so while my priest is cc'd, I am surviving as best I can with 1) my ccs, 2) bear form, 3) lightwell. In a number of those matches I would simply root/cyclone the rogue, go into bear form and wait for the mage to start casting and I would feral charge him to lockout his dps school (or better yet, lock out his arcane school so my priest couldn't get poly'd again), and let lightwell keep me alive during the onslaught. More often then not those rogue+mage teams would help me more than hurt me by stunning me. In essence, they would stun me which would force me to take damage, but then it would be reduced by 30%, and I would pop barkskin immediately (usable while stunned) to take even less damage and I would usually be near enough to the lightwell to use it (also usable while stunned) so I would actually come out with more hp than before they started the burst. Eventually, I would kill the mage and we would win.

The other aspect of the priest build we're using is also high survivability. The spec has essentially four abilities which proc from an opponent's critting him, all of which cause him to either take less damage or get out a knockback-free heal, or something else equally amazing. At the same time, he has a slew of healing abilities and a number of talents which make them cheaper to use. He also has reflective shield and a few burst spells in case we really need to burn an enemy down while we have cc'd his teammate.

I cannot wait to get out there and try this comp out again, but for real this time.

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Alrighty... we're finally hitting 80 (most of us later than Guntir and Esqueleto... grats to you nubs; get a job) and starting to look at instances/raid content for gear. Essentially, we think that we should be able to muster enough for a Naxxramas 10-man raid, which drops reasonably good gear (much better than our s4 gear in every regard except resilience >_<). We will probably start running some 5-mans to get better blue gear to get ready for a Naxx10 run.

My friend Lelon who is in a big raiding guild on a different server (one of the server's first full clears of Naxx25, etc) has suggested that we could most likely rag-tag together 2 wings of Naxx10 with our current gear (and some respecs) and after a week or two of gearing up there, we would be able to clear the rest. The only question becomes raid composition.

We have a feral druid, a disc/holy priest (whom is suggested to go a pve holy spec for Naxx10 to make things easier), a frostfire mage, and a combat rogue (who needs to hurry up and ding 80 already). Based on this rue, it was suggested to me to use this composition when deciding that last few spots. We know a real jackass whom we like playing with who likes to tank, so we will probably use him as the MT of the raid if he's up for it (lookin' your way ghoster), but the last spots are basically unknowns to us. We have a small guild after all, and getting new blood has always been a concern of ours. To tally it all off, we are going to need the following:

1) BM Hunter
2) Ret pally (for Replenishment 100% uptime)
3) Resto druid
4) Resto shamang
5) Affliction lock / boomkin

Obviously the hardest spots to fill will be healers as they have traditionally been the bane of any raid makeup, although with guaranteed drops, it should be less of a problem. For instance, all the agi/crit mail would go to the hunter without any competition. Same with ALL the dps plate, it would mainly go to the ret pally (and get greeded by the tanking dk). The resto druid would get all the healing leather, the resto shamang would get all the healing mail. However, then we have the last slot which is going to step on someone's toes; either the lock rolls on the mage gear and there's some competition there, or the boomkin rolls on some of the resto druid's leather. I would rather see the boomkin in the raid as they bring the same stuff as the lock (for the most part) but don't roll against any other slot as much.

So, to all the guild leaders and officers, please keep your eyes open for decently geared people who would like to fill this roll. Naxx is on a 7 day reset timer, so timing shouldn't be a HUGE problem, but we would look at evening play, so most west-coasters would be preferred, but midwesters with no problem staying up late would be welcomed as well. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday would LIKELY be the scheduled evenings for 10-man raiding, with Saturday/Sunday as optional pickup days if we are slow or fast (the assumption being that we would start slowly and need to finish up a wing on those days with us eventually getting the first 2 wings done on Thursday, having a head of steam on Saturday and trying out the next wing).

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