Druid Updates

Okay, so they updated the public test realm build yesterday, and they removed Rake from Primal Gore.

Long story short, this makes Rake scale with Strength and Rip scale with Agility. After a long, LONG, process of trying to explain this to the developers and the more ignorant of the druid community, I have given up on the forums. It seems that my statements have fallen on deaf ears. As long as ferals were pulling entirely too much dps on the ptr, any nerf will do... regardless of how it affects our scaling.

Sure, in 3.1 ferals are seeing nothing but buffs. In PvP, our burst is being lowered but our sustained damage and survivability is getting improved. In PvE, our damage output overall is getting improved via Primal Gore and Savage Roar changes. However, in a patch or two, Rake will be phased out completely because of how inefficiently it scales with agility, the stat that feral druids will now be stacking.

I have posted a solution to this and just about every other problem facing ferals under the sun, and it got mixed reviews:

Remove Shredding Attacks (reduces Shred's cost by 18 and Lacerate's by 2), put Rake back on Primal Gore, and move Primal Gore to where Shredding Attacks was. This accomplishes a few different things...

1) It reduces the overall damage output by ferals, which was entirely too high on the public test realm.
2) It reduces the potential for insane burst damage by forcing ferals to use Mangle instead of Shred, which is a problem in PvP and one which Blizzard has stated many times they wish to do away with.
3) It allows Rake to scale with agility and crit (just like every other ability we use).
4) It removes the positional requirement from fights, which has long been an aggravation of feral druids in both a PvE and PvP scenario.
5) It simplifies the feral rotation while not making it trivial. With this, ferals will spam mangle to build combo points and only use Shred when a clearcasting proc occurs. In this way, it's easier to keep the mangle debuff up for our bleeds and ooc-shreds, and it's one less debuff timer to watch.

Thus far, it has gotten a little bit of positive feedback, and a lot of negative feedback from ferals who are only upset because it would change the status quo. All of the opposition seems to agree that all of my statements are true... those 5 things WOULD happen... but they don't like the idea of losing Shred from their primary rotation because they like the big numbers.

I don't really care... GC posted in another thread:

I understand some of you are just trying to catch a problem before it blossoms out of control. Nothing wrong with that. But we're always going to be pretty cautious on acting based on early predictions that don't have a lot of evidence (even theoretical evidence) to back them up.

I have posted considerable mathematical analysis on my change (and the change to Primal Gore no longer affecting Rake)... so to me this is a "Thanks Rey, we'll take it under advisement, but don't get your hopes up. Love, GC" letter.

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Arena Updates

Now that Arena Season 6 is on the horizon, we wanted to share some details regarding upcoming changes to the arena rating system in Arena Season 6. With Arena Season 6, arena teams will start at 0 rating instead of 1500, which will allow teams to have more continuous progression throughout the arena season. In addition, we reevaluated item purchases and felt many of them were too difficult to obtain so we will be altering the rating requirements needed to purchase the latest arena items. For example, items with a rating requirement will now be obtainable starting at 1250 rating.

As with the current system, the matchmaking system will attempt to match teams against opponents who are closest to their average matchmaking rating. Starting with Arena Season 6, a team’s average matchmaking rating will be shown in the scoreboard at the end of each match so that you can see where your team stands compared to the opposing team you just faced. All arena teams that are below a 1500 arena rating will always earn arena points as a 1500 rated team. This will allow teams to continue to build up arena points while working on gaining the ratings needed to purchase items.

The most interesting aspect of these changes, in my opinion, is that teams will start at zero rating instead of 1500 now. It raises a few questions, obviously, such as "will teams be able to go negative?" and "how in the hell am I supposed to do enough games to EARN 2200 rating when most teams haven't even earned 1000 rating yet (going from 1500 to 2500 is basically a #1 ranked team)!?"

I think that the latter concern is more prudent than the former. How in the hell am I going to gain 2200 rating? Let's do some math. My team has about a 56% win percentage. Let's say that we win/lose 10 rating on an average match. This means that I would need to play at least 800 games with these numbers before getting up to 2200. While this is doable, it's an aggravation.

I'm going to lunch.

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They're dumb... and hilarious.

The latest changes to the Arms tree make the PvE rotation simply amazing... the first thing I thought when reading about it is the crazy cat-lady from the Simpsons (throwing cats at people screaming nonsense). Here's the rotation:

Overpower (if proc'd)
Execute (if proc'd)

So basically, warriors will be running back and forth away and towards their opponents in a PvE setting... it's hilarious. If I can find a youtube video illustrating this nonsense, I'll post it. So far, I have seen some 3.5k parses against the Skull dummy by arms warriors doing this nonsense... when I get home I'll try and record some video of the parses.

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State of the Hybrids

Some hybrids are therefore asking for utility and pure (asking for 100% dps from a hybrid) or they are a whining warrior who is complaining about not being better than others, rather than being bad.

Warriors have been doing this classist nonsense since the 60s days, except back then they felt that they should be the only viable tanks, as well as feeling like fury should do the most damage. Now that Blizzard has taken a stance of "all hybrids are created equal" the warrior are complaining NOT because they aren't the highest on the totem poll, but that there IS no totem poll.

If a fury warrior pulls competitive dps with a feral druid, and they both hit 5% less than a pure... the warrior will STILL complain that the feral should be lower... even though it really isn't a problem that the feral is on par with him (the guild is progressing, the damage output is high, etc).

Warriors just like to complain... and now that Blizz has officially stated that Warriors are hybrids and should be on par with ferals/spriests/etc, warriors feel like they have been "slapped in the face" but they STILL want to be on top of the other hybrids.

Warriors are the Uncle Toms of hybrids. They want to be as "pure" as the top-tier (white people in this example), and they don't care who amongst their "hybrid" brothers they stab in the back to get there. Half the posts I see are akin to "i'm fine with doing less damage, just nerf all the other hybrids so mine's the best."

Warriors, you reap what you sow, and this has been coming for 4 years, I'm going to enjoy competing with you on the dps meters.

I posted this on the forums to RAVE comments... but it basically sums up my feelings towards warriors' nerfs in 3.1. I love all the QQ "you mean I'm going to do the same damage as a feral!? How is that fair to me!?"

"How would it be fair to me if you did more?"

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I like him. When he fights the trolls, he does it in the way that I do, except his posts are in blue, so they hold a little more weight.

During the beta, I told the active posters that I got 1 gold every time people dragged out certain tired catchphrases or arguments.

Among them were "broken promises" and "slap to the face" of course. But a big one is "It's clear nobody at Blizzard plays or understands my class." That one is making a comeback in recent days.

Aside from being both untrue and irrelevant, it is a logical fallacy. You subvert the process of trying to disprove the argument when you attack the person making the argument instead of the argument itself.

If your thesis is that mana needs to be unlimited in order for the game to be balanced, positing that Blizzard doesn't understand the issue is not a particularly strong way to prove your point.

Later in the thread, he post this gem:

Saying "Logical Fallacy" is a redundancy.

I actually have a philosophy degree (and a mage). I took logic courses.

I just like the way this guy thinks. He is trying to get everyone to shut up and think about the game before complaining, and while I feel this is likely an exercise in futility, he keeps up the fight on a day-to-day basis. In fact, he has gotten into threads that I have started and given me very clear and concise reasons as to why I am an idiot for suggesting such nonsense. For the most part, I tend to agree with his claims (as he often backs them up with numbers, and those are hard to refute), but I keep conversations rolling to try and keep the feral druids at the top of the list for buffs. However, I have been trying to keep feral concerns on the low-down while fueling the fires about Maim. It really does seem like no one is aware of 1) how much damage ferals are putting out on the ptr, 2) how much utility druids have been given on the ptr, and 3) how much survivability druids have been given.

Arena Junkies have posted their data on the various Arena title cutoffs. They claim that Duelist will be between ~75 and ~450. While this definitely illustrates a smaller sample size for 2s (as Duelist cutoff was at basically 850 in s4), it also demonstrates a HUGE rating bubble, as to get into the 450 bracket you need to be at least 2050 team rated. This rating is probably unattainable at our team's current amount of play and our luck. This week we faced 8/10 counter-comps, all of them were pretty bad, so we ended up beating three of them and dusting the regular teams. Most noticeably absent this week was holy+dk, which has been (and currently still is) the flavor of the month, and one against which we excel. If we started playing more than ten matches per week, we might be able to pump our team up enough to break 2k, but getting into the Duelist group will be no small task, it seems (and it really has never been... it just seems that way because I have done it... I would be very sad to lose my Duelist title). Also, we will need to get a little lucky in terms of our opponents. I worry that the new rating system is going to assume that our skill level lives around 1850 and so it will not be giving us any more 2k rated teams (which is where the dk+holy teams live). Instead, we will continually get priest+hunter and other counter-comps which have a LOT of trouble with dk+holy, but mop the floor with our team.

In other news, the Armory has been updated to keep track of arena match statistics and rating changes. It is really neat, it shows you the names (with links) of all your opponents ever faced on your team, who won each encounter, how much damage/healing was done, and how much rating changed. The only thing missing is a layout of how well your team preforms against your opposition's composition. This is something that can easily be done, but unless they do it in the armory, I will probably end up making a little tool to make requests to the armory to pull all pertinent team information, including opposing teams, and show a graph/stats pane illustrating who are your counter-comps and who are your bread-n-butter comps. This is really helpful, as a lot of the time we know the big ones (our team does well against pally+dk, but very very poorly against hunter+healer), but ignore the smaller ones.

Also, Blizzard has implemented an Arena unit frame, which acts similarly to Proximo. This is pretty nice since Proximo is basically a hack that abuses mouseovers and nameplates whereas the Blizzard unit frame is actually updated as one would expect the game to update it. Additionally, and I need to test this further as it may have just been my imagination but it seemed that it would tell you your opponents even if they were stealthed, but have them greyed out to indicate that they are stealthed. This is pretty handy against double-stealth teams, and it also is nice knowing that the unit frame is updated independently of user mouse actions and targeting.

Taking these two facts together, I might be able to make an application which will download your opponent history from the armory, parse it to see who you counter and who counters you, let's the user assign strategy notes to certain compositions, then output a data file that can be read by a WoW addon which will, once the arena unit frame loads both opponents, displays the strategy in party chat (or raid warning, or w/e). That would be pretty neat...

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Apparently, Feral dps is ridiculously overpowered on the public test realm. Against Hodir, Lisanna (voted one of the top 3 raiding feral druids in the game) pulled something in the realm of "high 6 to low 7k damage." This stands out most notably against the backdrop that is their best warlock and mage damage was around 6k on the nose, while one of the best PvE rogues in the game (Ohnoes... that's his name) pulled an astonishing 8k sustained...

While I do agree that Ferals are likely doing more damage than Blizzard intends them to, they are probably second in line for nerfs behind rogues at this point... as combat rogues have made their presence known on the ptrs thanking the devs for the changes that turned them back into the 222223222223222224222223-mashers of yore while the feral druids, who are accustomed to being treated as witch-hunt-victims, are trying to fly under the radar. In fact, this report was brought to the public attention by Ohnoes because his guild-mate Lisanna was within 1000 SUSTAINED dps of him...

Nerf Ferals?

Well, I definitely doubt that we will make it to live with the changes as they presently are... but we should get to live with, if nothing else, a buff to our sustained damage and I don't seem them removing Primal Gore (or changing it, for that matter), which is where most of our extra damage is coming from... though people are still complaining about Shred. At this point, I'm hoping they nerf shred so I can go to a Mangle-spam spec in PvP... it's just easier to maintain.

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Arena Recap and 3.1

It has been a while... it seems like I have lost the fervor required for daily posting due to either lack of interest or lack of news. Sadly, I fear it is the former. Oh well, we have news and the want to post, so here goes!

We have been slowly climbing the ladder as feral+disc. We have gotten to 1850ish this week and shown no signs of stopping (except for last week when we went 4-6 against a slew of counter-comps... I hate healer+hunter so much). This week we played against:

disc+rogue x2
feral+disc (first ever mirror match on this team!)
druid+warrior (a classic comp)
druid+ret (...wat)
uhdk+bdk x2 (...wat)

We lost to the hunter+shamang team, obviously. The first match against the disc+rogue, the rogue sapped me out of stealth which was bullshit given that I have the same stealth level as him IFF he has the cloak enchant AND I have the goggles, so if he picked up Heightened Senses in Subtlety, we should have the same stealth level and steath detect. That match was just a cc-train for me, but the second time we faced them, I caught the rogue in stealth and killed him in pounce+maim as the disc priest just bubbled him (which was promptly dispelled). Honestly, people complain about feral's burst capabilities, but against that team, everyone will burst the rogue as he was wearing zero resilience... he's just going to explode to melees. We beat the double dk team, but it was pretty dicey in the first match. I chose poorly and picked the blood dk to target instead of the unholy (still not really sure how I am supposed to tell the difference). So, I was basically peeling the entire match and attempting to keep it 1 vs. guntir until I could ghost one. It got to the point where guntir was silenced, rooted, at 2000 hp, and limping away from a dk that had gone immune to cyclone while the other (within range of death coil) was waiting for guntir get into LoS. I ended up using tranquility and all their interrupts were on cooldown. At that point, we got guntir back up to ~75% between his healing and my own paltry healing, I finally killed the blood dk, then we won. The second time we faced them, I picked the OTHER dk, and basically kept him locked down while guntir kited the blood away from the unholy's pets.

We lost the mirror match... their druid was just much better geared than I was. He had Black Ice and all PvE gear (he FB crit guntir with Pain Suppression up for 4k...), and the last match we lost was against the classic comp of druid+warrior. Now, this warrior was fury, but that doesn't make it any worse than the old-days version. I was furious over this loss because we really should have won... I mistook guntir's calling out "druid is completely oom" as "attack the druid, he's oom." Not that I heard him wrong - I just hear that a healer is out of mana and my vision goes red and the target changes. The worst part was that we had the warrior at 50%, and guntir and I were at full with guntir at around 2000 mana. If I stuck on the warrior and FFF'd the druid to keep him from drinking, it would have been a win. The other thing about this comp is that warriors do not take enough damage from me.

Which segways me nicely to my next paragraph. Patch 3.1 is bringing change; more specifically, 3.1 is bring balance. Feral druids are having their situational burst damage lowered, but their sustained damage increased. The devs have decided to do this in a few ways. Firstly, they have decided that getting 10k Shred crits when people are stunned is not exactly fair... and to be honest, rogues were nerfed for this exact reason, so they have changed the Glyph of Shred from "20% additional damage against stunned/inc'd targets" to "increases the duration of Rip by 2 seconds, up to 6." This will definitely make the PvE rotation easier to use as cycling these periodics will be less cumbersome. Secondly, they have changed Maim from a 7 second incapacitate that will break after a set amount of damage (usually 1 Shred crit will do the trick), to a 5 second stun that currently shares diminishing returns with Pounce, and while this will pose an interesting problem in PvP (having a talented 5 second stun and then a 5pt finisher stun for 2.5 seconds each of which are reduced by talents of most target classes >_<), it will actually be beneficial against warriors since they could zerker rage out of my incapacitate. It will, of course, be less helpful against mages as they can now blink out of it... but I don't really have much problem with mages anymore.

Well... that's basically it for the nerfs. Let's talk about buffs, since I am so damned upbeat about losing 20% damage to Shred. Firstly, they are adding in some more glyphs for ferals (a welcomed change). Glyph of Berserk will add 5 seconds to your Berserk, which is awesome, and Glyph of Savage Roar... which I'll get to in a moment. Secondly, they have changed the way Savage Roar works: instead of a 40% attack power increase, which has led to some amazing 15k attack power screenshots, SR will now provide 30% increased damage for the same duration. Whoa... 30% increased damage?!? Is this not just another multiplier to be tacked on to Shred!? Indeed, this 30% multiplier will replace the 20% multiplier from the Shred Glyph and then some... and it will be up against all opponents, not just stunned/inc'd, so long as SR is up. Additionally, the Glyph of Savage Roar increases SR's damage bonus by 6%... yeah.

On top of these glorious additions and changes, there is a new addition to the feral tree: Primal Gore. Primal Gore, and I quote, "grants the periodic damage from your Rake, Rip, and Lacerate abilities to critically hit." While this might sound like a luke-warm change, it's actually quite hot below the surface. For one, it increases my overall bleed damage by an amount equal to my critical strike rate, which is about 40-45% in PvP and about 50% in PvE. For two, it actually increases my damage by more than that, as the critical strikes from the bleeds are affected by talents and abilities which increase critical strike damage (such as Predatory Instincts and the meta gem). After some light testing on the PTR, I have seen my Rake (which until November 2008 was the worst of the feral druid abilities) critically tick for 4.5k and my Rip critically tick for 4k. This is going to bring some insane damage in the PvP scenario since it seems like we only face teams with high armor values.

To top all the changes off, Blizzard has decided that bears have too much survivability from talents, so they have reduced their armor gained from Survival of the Fittest from 66% armor additions to 33%, and they have reduced the amount of stamina gained from Heart of the Wild from 20% to 10%. Now... I always take Survival of the Fittest because it gives me 6% crit avoidance in PvP... it's just good. Also, it provides 6% additional stats for 3 talent points... it's just GOOD. However, HotW has ALWAYS sat out like a sore thumb to me. It it 5 talent points that gets you about 1000 extra mana, 10% stam in bear form, and 10% attack power in cat form... it's just NOT that good anymore. 10% attack power is good, but we will be switching to agility-stacking next patch because of the critically striking bleeds... so we will not be stacking attack power anyway, we will be stacking crit. So, because of the nerfs to Bear Form's mitigation through stamina and armor, Blizzard has decided to give us Savage Defense, which is "when you critically strike, you are protected for 1 hit by a shield which will absorb 25% of your attack power." Now... as I have stated before, in PvP I currently have between 40 and 45 percent crit. If I go Bear Form, I can basically keep this up every GCD against most classes who it would matter against (rogues/dks). Also, it will absorb ~1000 damage for 1 hit, which is a healthy chunk of damage to mitigate.

All things considered, given the patch progress and the way that Blizzard is talking... we can probably expect to see 3.1 go live around April, and that will be a glorious day... dual specs going live will make me smile... regardless of these other changes.

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