A Eulogy Seems in Order

I'm just not in the mood...

Really, I had written about four paragraphs of text that really was trying to be a little more professional than this and I just deleted them. I can't really explain my love for the 2v2 bracket... if you did 2v2 with a friend competitively, you will understand why I say this. There was just something magical in discussing strategies before, during, and after matches. There was a touch of splendor when you land that perfect amount of cc/dps/healing/whatever that is so rare; regaling your teammate of your amazing play after a match: "Oh man, I had the best Feral Charge, Bash, Cyclone chain while you nuked the other guy down... it was beautiful." There was nothing better than both of you unwilling to give in and lose a match... fighting, for hours sometimes, against seemingly unbelievable odds to get those 5-15 rating points just because you had too much pride to let go of the match.

I really do not believe that the 2v2 bracket is or ever was balanced. I don't think it CAN be balanced without drastically changing most class abilities and reworking the PvP infrastructure from the ground up. I think that 2v2 was the best thing PvP-wise to ever happen to the World of Warcraft, and I will be truly saddened to see it go by the wayside, ignored and forgotten by many, lost and lamented by too few. So long as it exists, it will be played, but not truly competitive any more, given the changes that Blizzard plans on implementing. No longer will we see a mirror match clash-of-the-titans battle last more than 10 minutes, or for that matter last more than 30 minutes as neither team is willing to submit. Never again will we have the last-minute dash for the top100 in the final days of a season to try and ascertain that gladiator title that is so elusive to so many. Likely, never again will see have 2000 word diatribes by myself discussing the pros and cons of specs in the arena given that our most-played counter-comps are X+Y... more likely my posts will be downtrodden and broken mashups of the week's matches in 3v3, completely betrayed by the 50 matches we did in the 2v2 bracket which didn't matter but were 100 times as fun.

Who am I kidding? Probably no one... I will still be doing 2v2 and talking about it ad nausiem, it just won't carry the weight it once did. Now, when I say that we had a great match against a really good dk+priest that lasted 20 minutes and ended in an epic struggle of CC and dps dominance, culminating in an otherwise amazing victory, the question will be asked "but how good could they be if they're in the 2v2 bracket?" or "how did you beat a team with full s7 gear when you don't have any yourself? They must just be messing around," or "why are you talking about 2v2... 3v3 is where it's at!"

I do, and always will, play multiplayer games with my brother. We had a long hard discussion in the TBC days about PvP in general, and how we probably wouldn't be playing WoW if the other didn't play. Essentially, nothing has changed except that Blizzard is going to demoralize us by making our bracket of choice superfluous in the grand scheme of arena PvP. Sure, we are going to try and get a competitive 3v3 team up and ready for season seven, and sure we will probably get everything (except the tier2 weapons)... but it begs the question:

Will we continue playing 3v3 once we get our gear?

Likely, the answer to this is "no". There will be no caveat, we won't keep playing if we think we can get Gladiator, we won't keep playing if we can make a stab at tier2 weapons, we won't keep playing if... We will simply cease playing 3v3 having gotten everything we need to excel in the 2v2 bracket. Do we play 2v2 currently for gear? Sure, you bet, but what do we really play the 2v2 bracket for?


That's something that will surely be missing from most of season seven, and I don't think Blizzard has realized it yet. Nor do I think Blizzard will ever realize that fact. We don't play 2v2 because it's easier than other brackets... we don't play 2v2 because we are perceived to be overpowered in that bracket... we play 2v2 because it is the best showing of skill the arena has to offer and because doing so is fun. Mark my words, if the other combatants in the 2v2 bracket don't return to it in season seven because there is no gear in it, then the competition will die out, and it will cease to be fun... and blizzard will be losing ~30 bucks per month; that I can guarantee.

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They released the 3.2 patch notes while I was typing up the last post... consider this a placeholder until I get some analysis done and posted...

The newest season of Arena gear can only be purchased if you meet the requirements with your 3 or 5 player team rating. Rating requirements from 2 player teams can still be used to purchase the previous season of gear.



Just so y'all don't get Chicken-little on me... the Feral dps nerfs are EXTREMELY small, though they might seem big, here's some maths:

Soooooo... the base damage of every Feral offensive ability has been lowered (talking single-target dps here) in 3.2. Fine, but isn't this a non-scaling nerf? For instance, this is something like a 10% damage nerf to Ferals in crap gear, but closer to a 2-3% nerf to Ferals with BiS?

I'm reading this, crunching the numbers with pad-n-paper and not really seeing a HUGE difference... if Shred does 200 less damage every time, I'm going to lose 4000 damage from shred on a fight where I use it 20 times, right? Like... I'm looking at my parses for various fights... and not really seeing that much change...

Okay, here's an example of Hodir:

Rip (r9)496,17128.8985,062
Shred (r9)441,15725.6513,56812,207
Rake (r7)165,1119.6226981,954
Ferocious Bite (r8)53,3843.1317,794
Mangle (Cat) (r5)48,8262.882,3048,382

Okay, so that's about 200 less damage PER Rip, Shred, Rake, and Mangle...

Let's just knock the totals down by that much:
~3000 off of Rip
~5000 off of Shred
~2000 off of Rake
~1500 off of Mangle

Ballparking here...

Total damage over the course of the fight: 1,720,900
Duration of the fight: 04:57
DPS before: ~5736
DPS after: ~5698

That's a difference of less than 40 dps... is the sky really falling here?

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Some minor updates

Well, technically that's not true... some of these are actually quite major. My last couple posts have been pretty few and far between, and I think that their quality has been a little lacking in terms of details and analysis. "DO YOUR JOB REY" my followers exclaim into the night, their girlfriends looking slightly perplexed thinking "what an odd thing to yell in bed." Here's a picture of it:

Yes, I realize the text is retarded... I'm no photoshop wizard, I'll admit it. ANYWACE, as most of you know, I respec'd BACK to a Shred-based spec for more burst damage, and more than before, I've taken basically all the dps talents; truth be told, this feels a little dirty because 1) I stole the spec from Ampere, and 2) it feel extremely PvE-esque as it takes all the offensive talents and really only one defensive.

Here is the spec.

You will all notice a rather large difference from whta I've always preached until now: it doesn't have Protector of the Pack, it doesn't have Natural Shapeshifter, and it does have Heart of the Wild... it also takes 2/2 Improved Mark of the Wild. Okay, Protector of the Pack is amazing - 12% less damage while in bear form is just extremely handy, but it really doesn't come up as particularly useful except against double dps teams... and if double dps teams force you into bear form enough for that 12% damage to matter, you're in trouble. I'm not convinced, but I'm trying the spec without it to get a little more damage output. Natural Shapeshifter is good against mages... if all you play is some variant of mage+x, then you'll want to take both the shapeshifting reduction talents, but we don't face many mage teams, so I can forgo this talent. Improved Mark of the Wild is pretty good, aside from 2% more stats all over, which isn't much but does add up in top-tier gear, it also gives MotW more resist and 14 more stat points to all stats for both me and guntir... this is pretty good. I'm still on the fence for iMotW, but those 2 points would just otherwise go into PotP, so we'll try it out and see how it works.

Heart of the Wild... I harp on this talent so much. It gives 20% intellect, which is negligible in basically every case. It gives 10% more attack power in cat form, which basically grants another 700 or so... this is the complete opposite of negligible, but it's JUST more damage. It also gives 10% stam in bear form, which is good, but not amazing. Personally, I don't feel like this talent really should be a 5-point talent, and I am always bashing it for being under-itemized... I'm trying out the 10% attack power route... it's good for HUGE Shred crits, but not a make-or-break by any stance.

The other thing to note is dropping Glyph of Survival Instincts in favor of Glyph of Mangle. You need mangle up a lot, so making it last longer is better than SI giving more hp (I gibbed myself with Survival Instincts one too many times for me to love it completely... let alone put a glyph in for it). Also, instead of going with Glyph of Rip, which gives 4 more seconds on Rip, I went with Glyph of Berserk, partially for the extra damage and mostly for the 5 more seconds of fear immunity. I really cannot stress how amazing it is getting ~45 seconds of straight attacks off against a priest without a fear kicking in (say he fears and guntir dispels it immediately, then we get ~25 seconds of cooldown followed by 20 seconds of Berserk).

Okay, that being said, a conversation about user interfaces broke out in the comments of my last post, and I feel we should spend some time here. I personally like XPerl, it is extremely customizable and does a lot of things default that other UIs don't. Here are some of the things it does that I cannot live without:

1) Highlights member frames based on debuffs which you can dispel (poison makes them highlighted green, curses purple). This is amazing for seeing at a glance what needs to be dispelled off of whom without the bother of you having to watch your partner's buffs, when he turns green/purple, hit the appropriate button (macro'd to your partner, obviously).
2) Allows you to resize your unit frames. I have a problem with court vision... I can see players on the field and I'm focused on that... health pools and mana pools are harder for me to see, so I make my unit frames huge, but out of the way.
3) Allows you to move all your frames. This is pretty standard for all UI addons, but I like this one the best because it lets you move them and move their buffs/debuffs/etc from top to bottom, or however you like it.
4) Allows me to make MY debuffs bigger. Don't you hate it when you're looking at an opponent who has been riddled with debuffs and you can't see if Mangle is up, or Rip is up, or Rake is up!? Man... this addon lets me make MY debuffs twice the size of any others.... it's awesome.
5) It shows your mana pool ALL the time... cat, bear, whatever... it's there.
6) It shows combo points across the name-plate. This isn't a huge deal, but it's just a LOT easier for me with my court-vision, as I discussed in #2.
7) One thing this addon does that others don't really let me do, it let's me decide where I want my buffs/debuffs. Some addons will just put them with your unit frame, or up normally, or it'll do some weird mix. XPerl lets me decide everything about everything (without being so convoluted like Pitbull is).

Okay, the moment of truth... well not really. I have had this old video from season five sitting around, I don't know if I'm going to use it in the final video, but at the very least it is accessible via the web and it has my basic UI (along with us beating another 2k rogue+priest team... our arch nemeses... I hate NTEE). There's no music or anything, it's just one match on Lordaeron. I've moved some stuff around and added more macros and keybindings (less clicking... you'll see me move the mouse to click my trinket and barkskin... bad habits I've since worked out of).


We also started running 3v3 a little bit. A guildy of ours basically messaged us with "can you carry me a bit in 3v3 to get me some PvP gear" and we responded, "sure." He's one of our Holy pallies, but we had him go Ret for 3v3 (might as well get on this cleave-gravy-train, amirite?). It's pretty hilarious, we're about 1700 MMR with him at the moment and still climbing. He is pretty green in the arena, but he is learning really quickly, and we really do carry him in some matches (went 2v3 essentially out the gate against a PMR team... I ended up ghosting the mage with 2 GCDs, he got Pain Suppression on the second GCD but died anyway, then I still had 15 seconds of Berserk so I killed the priest and it was history from there). It's a LOT of fun though, I have to say that Disc+Ret+Feral has some synergy (not as much as RestoShammy+Feral+HfB-rogue... which is a 2400 rated 3v3 team that Faril is running... just insane, give the druid TotT, open with Pounce, hit HfB, follow Pounce with Garrote, pop BL, watch stuff die), and we actually train fairly hard given he's using a Titansteel Destroyer and offspec pve gear mostly. Once we hit 1850 and he gets a tier1 weapon this team will be a powerhouse.

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Well, time for a new drug...

That is to say, it's the same as the old drug... going back to a Shred spec. Guntir and I had a heart-to-heart the other day and decided that while Feral+Disc CAN outlast most other teams... we just aren't putting out enough dps pressure to do it anymore, what with gear upgrades and better players and what-not. So, he has spec'd back into Divine Fury, and yes, we know that most high-rated disc priests take this over Spell Warding, but there was a period where we were facing lots of bad warlock+healer teams who would DoT up both of us... so in addition to ProM being the only heal needed, we would also have Spell Warding on Guntir to keep him from taking too much damage.

Anyway... we're basically going to try and get a little more offensive and put out more sizable burst. I'm definitely going to miss not having positional problems with Mangle... but really it will be a 40 energy ability rather than a 34; I can still spam it if I need to. I was watching Ampere's video (Filefront) which was released yesterday, near as I can tell, and I had a few notes to make mention of:

1) He's a Shredder, and he doesn't really seem to have any problem with rogue+priest (interestingly).
2) He can do a warrior's full health bar in 3 gcds if he gets some lucky crits (and so can I... we're wearing nearly the same gear) with Shred.
3) He switches targets a LOT to put down Cyclone on the healer (which I do too, but he does it IMMEDIATELY after getting Rip up... which I find interesting more in a sec).
4) His priest saves his offenses but spends his defenses (he waits for CC-gibs to use holy-fire-death-mindblast, but uses Pain Suppression almost immediately against the warrior in the video).

Anyway... I went in and made some new macros that I really think will help (namely: FFF->focus, FeralCharge(Bear)->focus) and reglyphed/spec'd back to Shred (and I picked up Berserk+Mangle over Rip+SurvivalInstincts... I know how good I said both of those are, but we're going to try and focus on burst, so need more of it). We'll give it a shot today and see where we're at.

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Oh... NOW you're just lying...

In LK, we made a change for PvE reasons to let some of these stuns also cause an interrupt, since many bosses were immune to stuns.

It was never the intent that they cause both a stun AND an interrupt. The original change was made to let the interrupts work on stun-immune targets (generally a boss). A target upon which a stun has DR'd is not the same as a stun immune target. The original change was not intended as a stun buff for PvP.

Bottom line: the interrupt portion of these abilities will never happen against players. (source) -GhostCrawler

Well, let's take a look back, shall we? It seems that I can find a place where the stun WAS intended to be used as an interrupt against players who had become immune through diminishing returns...

Hammer of Justice: This ability will now still interrupt casting even if the victim is immune to the stun due to diminishing returns. (source)

That's right... it's from the 3.1 patchnotes. It's not like I went through and found this statement in season2... this is something that happened a couple months ago deliberately. So, either GC is completely off base on this one, or is just lying for some unknown reason.

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Come on!

When immune to the stun of following abilities, Maim, Bash, and Hammer of Justice will no longer cause player spells to be interrupted but they will still interrupt NPCs.

What the hell, right? Ferals only have the one interrupt in cat form, and now it doesn't work when the opponent becomes immune to stuns... wtf. It's time that Ferals got a Kick... just take the interrupt off of Maim entirely and give us a kick.

BALLS, I exclaim... I've got to go petition in the forums for this all day now... how annoying.

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