It has been rumored...

There are wild rumors circulating the World of Warcraft boards (and offsite boards, obviously) over whether the 3.2 patch will be being deployed soon. In the minds of many people, most notably warriors and retribution paladins, there are still many more changes that need to be implemented before the patch is ready for a public push. In my opinion, these allegations are partially correct (we all wish that Blizz would listen to some of the ideas of the player-base and ignore others), but for the vast majority of them, they are not.

The ret pallies in particular are up in arms because their burst damage has been gutted and as of the last build, their sustained damage has taken a significant hit as well. For the most part, I can say that I saw this coming; their parses showed that the new Seal procs contributed more than 40% of their overall damage in long single-target fights, and that's something that Blizz has been very vocal about in the past. Essentially, Blizz simply doesn't want yellow damage to predominantly take over as the main source of damage in the raiding environment. The new parses coming out of the PTR have Ret damage with white swings on top and seal procs just under it now, though their overall damage output has taken a significant hit. In conjunction with Judgment of Light getting nerfed in 3.2, Ret pallies worry that they won't be taken to raids because of their lack of damage and utility.

Personally, I feel that if you, as a class, do not bring adequate damage for a raid while you have BiS gear (and you are playing in a non-retarded fashion), then Blizzard will correct your damage output capabilities. However, this is a huge "if" statement; there is always the chance that Blizz feels your damage is at the appropriate level and is not in need of being brought up (as the case with warriors who constantly complain that they do not bring enough damage). If Blizz decides that Ret pallies don't bring enough damage, they will likely buff their sustained damage without touching their burst; I'm guessing that a buff to Righteous Vengeance (their DoT from critical strikes) would probably be the most logical step, as it is the bottom of their damage sources.

Aside from that, we have the Feral druids community which is still up-in-arms (and I'm right there with the vast majority of them) suggesting that Ferals still won't have enough PvP potential in 3.2. I think that Ferals will still be strong with a healer in 2v2, but still weak in 3v3 and 5v5 due in large part to having zero survivability whilst in cat form and zero damage output whilst in bear form (which will also be prettier next patch...). On the other hand, the resilience change will make Cat form a little more sustainable without giving up too much damage, and it will also give Ferals a relative buff in that our Rip and Rake is a large part of our damage in PvP, and all DoTs are going to feel a relative buff in 3.2 PvP.

There are also rumors of another WoW expansion in the works (obviously rumored to be announced at Blizzcon... I might try and get tickets this year to see if I can't get into the Beta a little bit earlier...), and if this is the case, then we will likely not see any major class changes at all until then. Rumored expansion details are NOT a new class, but two new races: Goblins and Worgen... hard to tell which faction these would be part of, as both could easily be horde, but a LOT of backstory would have to exist for either to be alliance.

More in the weeks to come...

* Changing directions here *

In addition to trying to get a decent PvP video out, I'm going to try and re-skin this site a little bit to try and get some more feel for WoW-related stuff. Obviously, this is a little hum-drum in terms of decoration at present, but I have people for those sorts of things. Incidentally, I like to be the rumor-mill, so posting things I get from... certain sources I will start putting up here (many times I get this info before MMO-champ et al).

* Changing direction again *

Got absolutely farmed by a terrible mage+warlock team this week... I hate this team. Essentially, I have to stay on the mage and keep him from getting a Poly off against Guntir. If the mage gets the Poly off, it's basically a GG unless I've got defensive cooldowns (and a trinket for Shadowfury). We beat them once, but couldn't replicate it... there was another match where we SHOULD have won, but I got over-confident in our defensive play-style and ended up going offensive at the wrong time, which caused Guntir to get into a bad position and get Feared ftw. BTW: I'm not much for complaining about Warlocks, but going back MANY MANY months at this point to when my lock was in WotLK beta, I remember saying how I thought Destro was going to be OP... Conflag crits for 10k, Chaos Bolt crits for 12k... you have died. On top of a mage throwing Frostbolt combos at me while I'm stunned for 5 seconds (this is where the trinket comes in to play, if you haven't figured that out).

* Changes directions for the last time *

I feel like I have been getting bored with WoW because of the lack of variety. It used to be a world of change, where I would have something interesting to talk about every week and I would go on diatribes for days at a time, sometimes. Now, it seems like nothing has been changing for a long time, and if anything changes it would be something rather small.

However, I'm beginning to feel like we're on the edge of something big, again. Be it another expansion, or Black Temple info, or something else entirely. I feel like flux is returning to WoW... DKs are getting their classes redesigned in small but meaningful ways, Rets are getting the same treatment, warriors are left at their borderline overpowered position as a sort of hinting at balance, 2v2 is being axed from people who want Gladiator titles, leaving just me and Guntir, it seems, who enjoy the 2v2 bracket for fun more so than anything else...

* Changes direction for the last time again... this time I promise... maybe *

We (Laughing Skull) are having extended maintenance done tomorrow to try and address the old hardware issues we are having (Additional Instances Cannot Be Created at This Time, Please Try Again Later), so hopefully I can get our guild on some fun-runs through Black Temple and what-not for glaives and old gear and what-not.

Well, that's basically all I've got on this front... obviously, I will have more as it comes up, as always - thanks for reading!

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Whoa... where have I been!?

I have no idea... to be perfectly honest, I have not been super busy at work, and I have had some really interesting matches I would like to talk about and some ideas worth mentioning, but I just have not made the time to post here. Well, that changes today!

First and foremost: Patch3.2 has some really interesting patch notes (I don't even remember whether I mentioned this already or not) in the form of Feral moves (basically all of them) have taken about a 10% reduction in damage which roughly equates to a 2-5% overall dps nerf in PvE and probably closer to a 1-3% nerf in PvP. Also in the patch notes, the reduction on shapeshifting costs that is on Primal Tenacity has been moved to King of the Jungle and bumped from 50% at 3 points, to 60% at 3 points, so there is a tiny little buff for Ferals. Additionally, Innervate has been changed from a 6 minute cooldown that lasts 20 seconds and restores 15k mana to a 3 minute cooldown that lasts 10 seconds and restores 7.5k mana. In essence, the Innervate change is a buff in that it will be just as effective but can be used more often, so if it gets dispelled, it's not the end of the world because the cooldown isn't SUPER long... AND it's easier to give it to your priest partner and keep an opponent from dispelling it for the whole duration. Pulling off a full 20-sec Innervate against a team with a dispeller is incredibly difficult, but getting a full 10 seconds off is rather simple.

Also, I switched my PvP spec again... I know, I'm a flip-flopper... whatchagunnado!? This spec is a mangle-based spec that gives up on Protector of the Pack in favor of straight damage output. Frequent readers may recall that the last spec I was using was Ampere's spec, which is a Shred spec that focuses entirely on damage output, and while I like the spec, I thought I'd give Mangle another go with Glyph of Berserk. I really like the idea of Mangle specs because it more freely allows me to play positions against the off-target, rather than continually trying to find my trained target's backside. In addition, when someone goes toe-to-toe with me, I still have my main damaging ability at my disposal, while Shred specs lose that.

ANYWAY... on to the PvP discussion.

We farmed this RestoD+Warrior team this week. They are 2400 rated and they played extremely well, but their druid just didn't know how to react to our style of play (plus he really didn't know anything about Feral mechanics). The most telling sign that a Resto druid doesn't know how to deal with Ferals is that he's letting me dps his warrior while he runs off to drink. Now, don't get me wrong... if you're a Resto Druid, knowing that you can run off and drink in many matches is a great thing, you need the mana and your warrior can knuckle down and soak some damage with your HoTs up. HOWEVER, when you're going against Feral+Disc... it's important to note that the majority of our damage is in the form of DoTs, and that we have TONS of CC. So, we are fighting on Lordaeron, and we understand that this match is going to last at least 11 minutes (and go to at least 17 if anymore than than 11... every 6 minutes... get it?), so we're pressuring the warrior, I'm getting my bleeds up and Rooting him and switching to the druid and Guntir's playing extremely aggressively by throwing up DoTs and waiting for hard-peels before healing to full out of LoS (and there were a few times when he got down to <1000 hp and waited for MS to fall off before Penancing himself back up to 75% or so).

Okay, so we're getting into this fight where I'm dealing my damage to the warrior, he hits his n-th Bladestorm and gets Guntir kind of low, but not really... so thinking the match would continue in this fashion (we've both used an Innervate but Guntir has ~90% mana while their druid has ~40%), the druid HoTs up his warrior and runs toward and enclave to start drinking. I have ~20 seconds left on SR, get up a 5Rip on the warrior, reapply Rake, and start to run after the druid. Guntir, meanwhile, throws up all his DoTs on the warrior and throws out a Holy Fire, followed by a Mind Blast, followed by a SW:D. The warrior is getting into trouble... he's at 40%, his HoTs have fallen off, and he still has DoTs on him. Back to me, I've gotten to the enclave, but the druid didn't FFF me, so I just stealth and open on him with Pounce. I still have SR up, so I just Mangle and Rake, both crit, so I've got the druid in ToL and 5cps out of LoS of his warrior who is getting ROCKED by Guntir and my DoTs, so I hit him with a 5pt Maim (his trinket is on CD because I cycloned him earlier when his warrior dipped), follow it with a Bash into a full-duration Cyclone. I shift to cat and sprint over to the warrior, but it's too late, Guntir had Holy Fire up again and nuked him down.

I love matches like this, playing against worthy adversaries is just fun... I think that's what I will miss most from the 2v2 bracket.

We also beat some no-talent Priest+Rogue facerollers. The rogue just trained Guntir the entire match, and while they were amazingly geared (Rogue was in ALL PvE and doing a truck-load of damage), we figured out their play. We lost the first match without much contest, but the second and third went to us. I got sapped on the bridge in Blade's Edge at the EXACT same time I hit the rogue with FFF, so it was a trade off... he wouldn't get a cheapshot on Guntir, but I wouldn't get into the fight for a hot second. The priest then burned Psychic Scream on me, but I ended up getting INTO the battle so it didn't really do anything except make me get their more slowly than I would have normally (I would have Dashed), the bonus being, however, that I had dropped combat, so I immediately stealthed and Pounced the rogue who trinketed like a fool and ate a Psychic Scream from Guntir while I was casting Cyclone. The rogue hits Will of the Forsaken right as Cyclone lands, so he's off Guntir for a moment. I tossed Guntir an abolish to get him out of there and let him heal without the MS penalty.

As Cyclone ended, I tried to hit the rogue with FFF, but the priest immediately dispelled it off him and the rogue ran back up the ramp to try and break distance from me and restealth (I assume he burned Vanish before this point to get a garrote on Guntir for the gib that didn't seem to have worked), but I still had Dash, remember? So, I dash after him and hit him with another FFF right as he gains stealth, so it immediately knocks him out and I proceed to open up a can of whoop-ass on him. He hits me with a blind and means to switch to Guntir, so I trinket and Entangling Roots him and Cyclone his priest, so the rogue busts CloS and Prep to get Vanish and Evasion back, but he's still FFF so he can't vanish yet and his priest is still Cycloned so he can't get a dispel. As CloS ends (right before the priest's Cyclone), he eats Devouring Plague and SW:P and I toss a moonfire on there for some dispel buffer. I see the priest spamming dispel on the rogue and running straight for us, so I set up for Berserk and pop it... Psychic Scream does nothing and missed Guntir entirely because of range (I had maimed the Rogue with my extra combo points to keep him close to me and away from Guntir). The priest, however, is forced to continue spamming heals on his rogue while Guntir limps over and gets the Psychic Scream off and we ghost the rogue.

To think... if they had just trained me they would have won 3 matches against us yesterday... oh well, more for us I guess... and we needed it too. We got rofl-stomped by a Feral+HfB team one match, got farmed by an amazing Priest+Hunter team twice, lost to that rogue+priest once, and got absolutely DEMOLISHED by a 2600 MMR RestoShammy+HfBRogue.

We also beat a really strong RestoDruid+Destro team. They were pretty well coordinated, but they made the dire mistake of switching from Felhunter to Voidwalker. I will be the first to admit that I do a lot of damage to warlocks when Shred speced, regardless of whether or not they have Soul Link, but as Mangle... my damage is paltry enough that losing some of that damage reduction to just have a dispeller could get you a win... we drained that druid twice and just BARELY killed him. It was a heart-thumping match for our first... but it was fun.

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A bit about video

I'm always at odds with recording matches, as you already know. I have a problem with the in-game recording in that it will occassionally simply freeze my game for 5 seconds and stop recording for unknown reasons (I suspect memory issues are at the heart of this problem... I'm running a shell on my second monitor with top running nonstop to see if I'm just running out of RAM when storing the video data... ramble ramble). Anyway, the point I'm really trying to get at is this:

A Feral PvP video. It really vexes me to the point where I'm on the fence of working on it. On the one hand, I would love to show off some matches in a video, I really like the creative work it lets me do, and I have a lot of ideas for editing that I think would be worth watching. On the other hand, I realize that Feral PvP really is tantamount more than getting the right comps time after time and being better than them. Feral+Priest has a LOT of trouble with Disc+rogue, for instance, but absolutely no trouble with Pally+DK. So, while the video will show how well we play against dk+healer teams, it won't have much versatility in terms of opponents. There will be very few good rogue+priest matchups, for instance.

I don't know, maybe a video would still be really fun to make and watch, but I worry that I'll put it up and the comments would be something akin to "why are the majority of your matches against dk+healer?" I don't have a good answer to that except to say "well, DKs are overpowered and thus over-represented; our team tends to deal with DK+healer better than some other teams, so we get 60% of our wins from those comps."

Meanwhile, my brother and I tanked our rating against a pretty skilled RestoD+HfB team. The team really is a testament to how strong teams which do not share diminishing returns on CC options are together. Essentially, most of these matches would end in me OOM'ing in Cat form, and getting Blind+Cyclone+Hibernate+Sap+Cyclone+Blind while Guntir slowly died. It was a sad bunch of matches... also we lost a match to a FrostDK+Disc team after OOM'ing the priest with both me and guntir at full hp and half mana; that was impressive. Essentially, the priest spent his last couple-hundred mana on Psychic Scream and the Frost DK crit Guntir 3 times in a row with Frost Strikes, each one doing over 6k damage.

Clearly, we were outplayed.

Speaking of being outplayed: Guntir and I have got our Rogues to 80 and now we're working on gearing them out. The funny thing is that while we still have terrible gear, we can see the potential for such a ridiculous comp working in the 2v2 bracket. See, we keep getting in BGs against PvE-geared mooks who instantly die the second we pop out. Sadly, we did some heroics and our numbers are entirely too laughable at the moment (~1500 dps) to actually scare anyone in the arena, but we lost 11 matches (kept our 0 rating >_<) to get some arena points this week anyway. I figure in a week or two we'll have enough PvE gear to get some arena wins.

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The people have spoken!

After further consideration, and after hearing from many players, we are going to change how we approach the 2 vs. 2 arena bracket in Arena Season 7. We still think the 3 vs. 3 and 5 vs. 5 brackets will ultimately offer the best play experience, especially for very competitive gamers for whom game class balance issues are most noticeable. However, we recognize that many players just prefer to play in the 2 vs. 2 bracket and will miss the chance to earn the current season's gear. Therefore, we are going to still allow the 2 vs. 2 bracket to grant access to the current season of gear with three important exceptions: the current season's weapons will not be available for purchase, the current season’s shoulder armor will not be available for purchase, and players will not qualify for the Gladiator title/rewards unless you earn the appropriate rating in the 3 vs. 3 or 5 vs. 5 bracket. We look forward to the changes in the next major content patch and hope to have a great next Arena Season. (source)

While I'm back to being sad about not getting shoulders or weapons... but at the very least, there will be a reason to play 2v2 as everything but a rogue, so that means fewer rogues in 2v2... I'm happy... kind of.

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