Stand By Me

I'm filled with such rage. I cannot really explain it in words, but I am still fuming this morning about our Freya failures last night, our arena failures (or rather, the "amazing" rogues we played) from yesterday, and my general outlook on the game.


But it's okay, I'm listening to Stand By Me by like 50 artists world-wide, and it is soothing my rage.

I hate rogues, but we just gotta persevere and keep climbing. We faced this particular rogue+priest team (double engineering, of course) three times yesterday, and we were winning the fights every time. They were cocky and terrible and 2400-rated. Their rogue stayed on me (bearform) the entire fight, their priest sat there eating Mana Burns the entire fight, we got the priest OOM, the rogue to 50%, and we still lost. We had Shadow Friend a full minute and a half after them, they didn't knock off Innervate, etc... and we still lost. Why? CC.

Their priest is OOM, I'm still taking INSANE damage from the rogue while in bear form (thanks double-wound-poisons...), so Guntir STILL is spending all his mana keeping me up, and when we finally turn to lower the bomb on the rogue, the priest has regenerated enough mana to Fearbomb my priest, and I die in bearform from 100-0 in 8 seconds with Barkskin up.

A rogue took 8 seconds to kill a TANK with his mitigation abilities up. It's just not fair. I don't care what rogues say, they are overpowered.

Take the damage off of Wound Poison.
Make Blind and Fear share diminishing returns.
Make Evasion share an internal cooldown with Cloak of Shadows.
Switch Preparation and Premeditation in the Subtlety tree.

ANY of these would make rogues less obviously dominant in arena, while not hurting them in PvE at all.

Okay, I went and had my Del Taco deliciousness that is the Classic Chicken Burrito. Not too much food for a very cheap price, and you leave satisfied and not-stuffed to the gills... it's a good thing.

Anyway, my rage has completely subsided, and I found the silver lining to all this: there is a comp that beats priest+rogue sometimes, and priest+feral actually counter-comps it pretty hard. Interestingly, resto-druid+warrior is making an upswing and decided that they are the counter-comp to rogue+priest, randomly. As it turns out, they do fairly well against them since Zerker Rage (or w/e) breaks half the team's CC options.

This is good news for us because as soon as resto-druid+warrior becomes the flavor of the month, our team will shoot up in the ratings, since we counter-comp it so hard. We went against two druid+warrior teams yesterday and completely curb-stomped both of them. Having played Resto+warrior ourselves (Guntir has a warrior alt and I was resto at level 70... made sense at the time), we know the pitfalls of that comp:

1) Resto druids now have fairly good physical damage reduction, but about half my damage comes from bleeds.
2) Arms warriors are EXTREMELY susceptible to CC, including Psychic Scream once you use it more than once (since PS is a 27 sec cd and Zerker Rage is a 30 sec cd... you can get the warrior completely out of sync), Entangling Roots (I abuse this against them), and Cyclone (I abuse this against them when I'm not abusing Roots against them).
3) Neither of them can dispel to keep pressure up (okay, warriors can shield slam to dispel stuff, but their damage is laughable once they're doing this, so it's not a concern) so we get full benefit from Innervate, MotW, Thorns, Reflective Shield, etc.
4) The druid brings all the CC to the match, and with a feral on him, he cannot cast anything without leaving ToL form and taking huge damage, usually coupled with Maim/Bash to interrupt and destroy while his armor is low.

SOOOOO, hopefullyin a week or two we will see the priest+rogue population drop significantly (talking ~20% here) and the druid+warrior pop rise a lot... here's hoping!

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Crowd Control

The reason that priest+rogue is the number one team in the game right now is crowd-control. Priest rogue gets sap and Fear+Blind don't share diminishing returns. Rogues were always good teammates when matched with another class with a decent form of CC (in season 2, for instance, resto druid+rogue was a good comp because cyclone+blind+sap was an UNSTOPPABLE cc-train of doom, so they added DR to cyclone and blind, fixed that problem a little bit).

Sap - 10 seconds
Blind - 10 seconds
Psychic Scream - 8 seconds

You have to trinket something, then your best bet it 18 seconds of CC. This is why priest+rogue is the best team in the game right now.

Moving on...

I said I might post something, yesterday, and ended up not doing it... I really wanted to test it out first. So, I got myself a nice new meta gem for PvP which gives critical strike rating and 10% reduced fear effect duration. Doing the math, coupled with my 30% reduced fear effect duration, that turns psychic scream into a 5 seconds duration (down from ~6), and Fear into about 6 (down from 7). One second off of CC is amazing, btw. I did a bunch of matches, and only lost to one warlock+healer team, and it was because I got cocky and let my guard down. The other times, teams would Fear me and I would break before they got a cast off and be right back on them like white-on-rice.

Because Warlocks are so reliant on Fear/HoT as their defense mechanics, I can basically sit on them for the entire match without dealing with Fear as much, which means that I'm pressuring their healer to use mana, which means their healer is standing still eating Mana Burns, which means that we're winning the mana war... it's good. Going against priest+rogue, it helps, but not a whole lot... I just need to reduce that PS duration so that I can get back into the match and HOPEFULLY let Guntir live long enough for me to eat an entire blind without getting sapped, then when the rogue uses Prep for his second evasion, I can trinket the next blind that comes across, and at this point, we've won the match... but it requires 1) retarded opponents, 2) luck, and 3) lots more luck.

Hit 1888 last night, but didn't play much. Additionally, we haven't had much time to actually get games in and we aren't going to get any in today, it seems. So, hopefully we can get some more and keep climbing later this week. I need to hit 1922 to get enough points next week to get the Tier1 staff, which is BiS for ferals in 10mans, which I am.

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A Couple of Gripes

Alright, so Guntir and I ran 100 games so far this week (we will probably end with 120-140 before tomorrow) and we've climbed to 1800 and our MMR has climbed from ~2000 to almost 2100, so we should still be climbing next week >_<. This grind is slightly annoying, but it's also kind of fun, as it gives us a chance to see what the flavors of the month are going to be and attempt to beat them trying out different strategies with little to lose (our biggest loss was 3, and most of them are 0 for the time being). That being said, I do have some complaints about the new season, and a few things which I have noticed that don't necessarily irk me, but just don't sit right with me for the time being.

My first complaint is about engineering in the arena. Blizzard intentionally disallowed the Rocket Boots Extreme (and Light version) from the arena in season 3/4 because they didn't want engineering to be "the" arena profession, but then they made a new version of the rocket boots (as an enchant: Nitro Boost) and gave engineers two more burst-damage options in the Hand Mounted Pyro Rocket (quick ~2000 damage instantly OFF the GCD with no cast time) and the Gnomish Lightning Generator (which was nerfed in 3.1, but not significantly). Now, I'm fine with certain enchants for engineers, it has to come with some perks or no one will use it, but I do not feel that Blizzard should allow the Nitro Boosts in the arena, it changes the game so dramatically that every top-rated team has to go double-engineering to get past a certain tier. That's my only beef here...

Shifting directions, for the time being, something that is troubling me this season is that even being at a 55% win percentage, we are seeing the inflationary state of the arena. That is, we started at 0 team rating and about 1950 MMR. By the time we got to 1800, our MMR had already gone up by ~100 even though we are relatively close to 50% wins. That makes me wonder if simply playing more games will eventually guarantee 2k+ status. See, if everyone else is playing and having the same thing happen to them, then presumably they will continue to climb towards their MMR, and their MMR will continue to climb slowly. We expect that the two numbers should eventually even out, but with greater than 50% wins, we expect there to be some positive delta over time. Anyway, the point I'm trying to make is that even though you might not be able to beat priest+rogue right now at 2000, eventually they will continue climbing up to >2500 and there will be a void to fill, so you will end up playing against comps you ARE good against once again and climb up to the priest+rogue tier.

Speaking of priest+rogue... what's the deal with rogues!?!? Okay, rogues are overpowered again, and this isn't a statement of opinion, this is pure fact. Given their representation above 2000 right now, it's pretty much a given, just as DKs were a given as overpowered in season five.

"What buffs were rogues given in 3.1 that made them overpowered; there are none!" Let me be clear about this: the buff that rogues got in s5 was...

Dks got nerfed.

Rogues were amazing in s5, believing the contrary to that is just asinine. However, rogue+priest (and other rogue variants) were simply hard-countered by pally+dk, and I think we all know how many pally+dk teams there were in season five. Now that the dk+pally team numbers are being brought down in a significant way, rogues are back to seasons3/4 levels of domination. Their truly absurd amount of damage, control, and mobility make them a unstoppable force when teamed with any slightly-competent partner.

One thing that truly scares me here is that the SK numbers can be read in another way: disc priests are overpowered. This could be a problem if Blizzard takes the short-sighted route and nerfs disc priests in an effort to quell the disc+rogue numbers. The fact of the matter is that if disc priests get nerfed, rogues will go with other healers and still dominate, just like in season 4 just before the release of Wrath of the Lich King. Rogues haven't changed significantly since season 4; sure their spec is different, but their damage output, utility, control options, and mobility remain unchanged (except that no one takes Shadow Step anymore). Teaming a priest with someone who can control matches as well as rogues can just means that the priest will have free reign to Mana Burn, dispel, and nuke or heal, depending on the situation. Almost any healer will do well in these situations, but priests tend to excel because of mirror-match setups. If one were to place a disc+rogue team against a druid+rogue team, the druid+rogue will likely lose because of their lack of mana longevity and their susceptibility to mana burn. The same is true of shamangs and paladins.

There are a number of ways to balance rogues without completely dismantling the class or breaking mechanics in PvE:

1) Make Blind share diminishing returns with Fear (just like it does with Cyclone... oh look, Blind + Cyclone was an upstoppable cc dynamo, just like fear+blind is now... time to add it to the DR)
2) Change Sap so that the ROGUE using it has to be out of combat to use it, not just the target (someone is vanished, the rogue can Deadly Throw the other target, vanish on the next gcd, and sap on the next... this is simply not right... it should force the rogue to be out of combat to get this ability to work).
3) Change Sap to work like Kidney Shot and Blind/Gouge to work like Cheap Shot. Not in the way like stuns, but in their DR requirements. That is, if someone gets Sapped, then Blinded back-to-back, they'll eat 20 seconds of CC. However, if someone gets Blinded then Sapped, Blind will start a DR that Sap overlays, but not reversed, so that target will only take 15 seconds of CC.
4) Make Blind a poison again.

There are four simple fixes that will not completely destroy the rogue class, will not affect PvE encounters, and lowers the control rogues have a little bit (probably enough for them to be a balanced arena partner).

I went ahead and broke the next strategy bits into sections so they can be browsed more easily.

Okay, if you couldn't tell, we have been doing 2v2 arenas and have been having trouble with disc+rogue teams. From what I can tell, unless this team plays us completely retardedly and doesn't have double engineering, we might win if we get lucky. We had rogues splitting off on me while the priest mana burns Guntir, we had rogues focusing Guntir 100% while I was busy cycloning/rooting/healing/WHATEVER I could, we had teams doing nothing but CC-burst... just about everything would beat us unless we split the rogue and the priest, we lived through both evasions, and they didn't play defensively after the fact... then we just had to get a good stun off and some lucky crits. I would say that our win ratio against disc+rogue teams is probably 1:10... we just can't touch a decently played disc+rogue.

I am sad to say that we don't really have any strats here except to try and open on the priest when he charges after the sap on our priest, and IMMEDIATELY go bear form and hit Demo shout while running toward your priest to try and knock the rogue out before Cheap Shot. This strategy was something I've been trying to master for a while now and midway through 1600 yesterday, I think I have finally mastered it. Rogues will usually Sap Guntir and then move back to Cheap Shot me once they see me open on the priest, the trick is to do it about the same time Sap lands, then bear form up and mash Demo. From here, I just keep up Lacerate and Demo and try to Feral Charge their mana burns (and hopefully, Guntir is getting off some mana burns of his own). Once the rogue switches to Guntir (because he's mana burning), I will go cat form, charge him and start the beat down. If their priest charges in, it means we're going to have a fear-bomb in a second, so I ready Berserk (yes... Berserk). Once he fears I mash Berserk so-as not to lose time (I don't like to pre-fire it because good priests will just see that and save the CD, I want him to burn it). At this point I should be dealing pretty crazy damage to the rogue and he will have to burn evasion, at which point I switch to the priest who is conveniently standing next to me.

Here's the trick, a few seconds after Berserk falls off, evasion will fall off AND you'll have about 10 seconds before the next fear, so I switch back to the rogue and hopefully get some bleeds on him before he preps his next evasion. If he just tanks the damage, you need to cyclone him and Abolish your priest... he's running out of tricks. I think that 2 cyclones is the right amount of time to keep the rogue locked down long enough to get all the poisons off the priest and him healed back up. Presumably, at this point their priest will have been trying to Mana Burn your priest, but your priest should have been ducking LoS, and now their priest will be walking in for the fear bomb... let him, just make sure that your priest knows that a GCD HAS to go to dispelling it off you, and hopefully the rogue will still be in the cyclone when it happens. If this happens, you're almost at the point where you can win the match, you need to keep the pressure up, though.

The rogue will lose cyclone about the time you get dispelled, you will need him as your target and you will need to be mashing your Faerie Fire button. With ANY luck at all, it'll hit him; with GREAT luck, it'll hit him right after he vanishes and it will knock him out of stealth before getting another Cheap Shot on your priest. This is the kicker... if you land Faerie Fire at the same time he uses vanish, he has to burn Prep to get that Cheap Shot off, which means another Evasion is coming: focus the rogue and get him to burn it. Once he burns evasion, you need to get him to burn Cloak of Shadows too, so Cyclone the priest, Entangle the rogue, then throw Abolish on your priest again. Most rogues will see their prey getting away, notice their priest is cycloned, and bust CloS to keep the pressure on your priest... this is good. Now you have to Feral Charge (Bear) him to root him for 4 seconds, which will give your priest enough time to limp around the next corner on most maps (forget Ring of Valor... you can't beat this team on that map). By now, the priest has come out of cyclone and is charging you again for the fear bomb, and you need to sprint away from him but TOWARDS your priest with the rogue on him. If you can throw off the fear-bomb for even a moment, you might be able to force the rogue to Blind you.

Here is where the match is won: the rogue has officially used all his long cooldowns with the sole exception of Sprint. CloS, Evasion, Vanish, and Blind have all been used AFTER Preparation, now you have the upper hand, this team is now just a heavy damage-dealing monster with Fear as their only CC... unfortunately, you are losing the mana war, and presumably the health war as well. Time to get on the rogue and get a 5pt Maim up JUST before their priest realizes it's time to get into melee range and Fear-bomb; your priest needs to know this is coming and have 1 gcd available to dispel it. If everyone lives through this with decent health a low-but-not-empty mana, you have a chance to win through pressure. Mangle, SR, then immediately throw up Rake, Tiger's Fury to get some energy, and build up a 5pt Rip quickly. Also, this is the point at which Guntir uses ShadowFriend offensively (since he attacks for a decent amount of damage now... something like 800 hits and 1600 crits... WHILE returning mana to the priest) and starts breaking LoS again as hard as possible. I try and cyclone the priest and hope the rogue follows guntir around the corner so we can gib him. Now the game becomes a simple matter of outlasting their mana pool and damage, if they focus you, interrupt Mana Burns with Feral Charge + Bash combos, and when they switch to guntir, pressure the priest by wrecking the rogue. If their priest ever gets a chance to drink, you need to use the opportunity to Innervate your priest (well out of distance and LoS), Travel Form to their priest, and Cyclone him so you get the most time out of Innervate before it gets dispelled (one cyclone, then run back and pressure the rogue so when the priest finally does arrive on scene, he has to heal instead of dispel).

Rogues take a LOT of damage when their cooldowns run out... the problem is that at present they can kill just about ANYTHING 1v1, and their cooldowns let them do just that. Many of our losses are from the rogue busting Evasion and waiting on CloS for my Cyclone cast, and using Trinket on feral charge to stay on the priest... then using Prep for ONLY another evasion. This tactic works amazingly against us, we can't stop it... but it means that that team is either bad (because they do this against every team) or they're amazing and actually know how to play against feral+disc.

Our team doesn't actually have any trouble with this team. Okay, that's a lie; we HAD trouble with this team until we worked out a strategy that seems to work really well: kite+burst. Rets have AMAZING burst at the moment, they can almost kill you over the duration of HoJ if you aren't getting heals or have some mitigation going. That being said, we employ the following strategic flow. The ret will ride in and open up on your priest with some burst, you need to LET him get one cooldown off, usually Cruz, then Pounce him and Mangle. He will immediately HoF himself to break the stun, which you should expect, he will get another of his cooldowns off (usually Judgment), and Cyclone him. At this point, his rotation is a little out of whack, and he'll not have done any significant damage to your priest who should never be in LoS of mana burns yet. Then, I swap cyclone over to the priest and get ready to put on my own burst surprise.

Once the priest is cycloned, the ret pally should no longer have Hand of Freedom or very little left (see how that times up nicely?), and so sticking on him will be easy. Against disc+rets who have not faced our strategy, their first instinct will be to immediately start their burst rotation against Guntir, who has for yet-unknown reasons stay put next to the cyclone and PW:S'd himself. The ret pally will usually throw out Cruz again, and immediately get a snare applied to him, at which point Guntir breaks away and gets into position for Mana Burns (uh oh, it's all coming together now). If the Pally limps after the priest, you just stick on him and keep that damage flowing, as ret pallies don't have a real interrupt, your priest should get off 1-2 mana burns without any problems, and as soon as the ret pally gets there, you should have 5cps for a good Maim, and HoF is still on cooldown. If the Ret pally has played you before or they simply know what you're doing, he will switch to you instead of attacking your priest when the Cyclone ends, and you need to react quickly and get in bear form, bash him, and throw up Demo Roar.

Either way, your priest is going to get off the first and second mana burns before the other priest gets one off... so they're losing the mana war. Now, the game becomes a matter of survival against the burst, and you've started a LOT of diminishing returns via stuns already. A lot of times, the rets we face will put their burst down on me, turn and Repentance Guntir, and try to continue their burst on me unhealed. However, Repentance doesn't really last all that long, and it's easy enough to escape a ret pally by Feral Charging his priest... they SHOULD be split up because their priest doesn't want to be near your priest because of fear + mana burns. So, you can quickly escape and walk away in bear form without getting any more damage done to you, sometimes you might consider bashing the priest just so he doesn't throw dots on you or try to Holy Fire you, plus your priest will come out of Repentance ready to mana burn a stunned target, which is good. The basic rule here is survive and kite. You will force the ret pally to use HoF to get the snares off him, at which point you can stun him and deal a good amount of damage, then turtle in bear form some more while your priest gets mana burns off.

I would very much suggest picking up a Glyph of Barkskin, as it is completely overpowered against retadins' burst damage. Losing out on 25% crit almost completely neuters the burst a ret pally can do, and if you're doing this kiting strategy, he's going to be forced to HoJ you from distance and make it up to get to you before he can burst, giving you AMPLE opportunity to hit Barkskin before he gets there, so even if your priest is cc'd, you SHOULD live through the stun, and if you REALLY need to, you can use Survival Instincts and Frenzied Regen to live through the rest (if they got an amazing Repentance+Fearbomb combo off on your priest after trinket and wotf).

Alright, that's all I got to say on that topic... I may post another one later today if I get really antsy about a topic that I think may end up being amazing... we'll see...

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Well then, arenas you say!

Here is a quote from a Blizzard poster concerning a hotfix that went out today:

We are making a hotfix (any minute now probably) so that Replenishment in arenas will only affect the character and not the whole team. It will continue to function as it does currently outside of arenas.

We feel Replenishment is balanced for larger groups, but just makes too much of a difference on smaller arena teams. Making the rules work differently in PvP and PvE isn’t a solution we like to use often, but in this case we think it fixes the issue cleanly, while still making the talents in question useful to the character who takes them. Alternatives, such as nerfing the amount returned by Replenishment in arena or making it not function at all, seem like more punitive choices from which we want to stay away. (source)

Well that's pretty neat. I will have to say that Ret+healer and survival+healer HAS been giving us some trouble in these early-goings of the six arena season. Largely, I believe it is because of the mana longevity AND damage output of each class, but I definitely have to say that Replenishment not working in the arenas will balance those two comps closer to a manageable level for us. We played a fairly decent Hunter+Pally team, and the only reason we lost was due to the fact that the paladin had infinite mana from Replenishment and Divine Plea, and it's just not prudent to dispel Replenishment off (not even sure if one CAN dispel it off... DP sure... NEED to dispel that). Anyway, Survival+Healer should be a little more manageable now as their damage is strong, but manageable and their mana drain isn't an instant game-winner. Ret pallies do a LOT of damage, but it is very manageable if there's a healer, and we can usually turtle a lot of the ret pally's damage and mana burn every cycle of cds and apply some pressure from cat.

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Quicky cuz I'm Tired

I don't usually post unless I have a feeling of eloquence about me, and though I fear it does not always appear in my posts, I do try, but I am tired today. I saw a YouTube clip of Alan Moore reciting one of the better entries from Rorschach's Journal, and the wording is just amazing:

This city is afraid of me; I have seen it's true face. Streets are extended gutters and the gutters are full of blood, and when the drains finally scab over all the vermin will drown. The accumulated filth of all their sex and murder will foam up about their waist and all the whores and politicians will look up and shout 'SAVE US'... and I'll look down and whisper... 'no'.

We attempted Deconstructor last night about 10 times to no avail. I believe we have found the lynch-pin, however, as when we finally we calling it a night, guntir and our MT decided to try something crazy. Antihope: "Alright Guntir, let's try pulling these mobs without pulling the boss and see if it's doable your way." That's right, we're retarded for not listening to Guntir. Let me restate that: we are not retarded for not having figured out that the mobs on either side of the door when you enter the room are TRASH PULLS (we were doing them with the boss up...), but we ARE definitely retarded for not listening to Guntir.

Anyway, we should have Decon downed tonight, and we'll start working on Ignis again with HOPEFULLY two ranged dpsers. The trick to Ignis is having someone available 100% to nuke the constructs once they get brittle. However, we tried it with a hunter and we tried it with a warlock, and we kept having the same problem: the one ranged dps would get put in the pot, and by the time he came back, there would be two or more constructs because no one could reliably kill the brittle ones without dying in the effort. With two ranged dps classes on the cause, the fight should be much more trivial.

We also did some arenas yesterday, and let me be the first to tell you: the MMR setup from zero rating is bonkers. That is, we would win 47 points and lose 0. It made no sense. The one thing that still worries me is that our MMR was at ~1930 when we started, and we went 9-9 (or something) before Ulduar and gained ~500 team/pr rating. However, I'm worried that our wins bumped our MMR by 0-5 and our losses dropped it by 40-50... only time will tell. In either case, at this point we're looking strong for being able to hit 1850 which is the first tier of season six's weapons... and the staff is amazing. It is better than the one I have currently for both PvE AND PvP (it's better than Journey's End, for instance).

Anyway, we got some good and some bad concerning season six out of those short 18-or-so games: we know that dk+healer is still going to be the flavor of the month, but the dks are going to go Frost and are going to do a ton of damage in frost presence, which is a bit of a change; we know that disc+rogue will still counter us reasonably well if the rogue just sits on me 100% of the fight; we know that we will be seeing WAY more arms+healer teams, and arms does a HUGE amount of damage if you let them sit on you; and we know that double-dps is still a hugely viable comp for twos.

Additionally, we know that dk+healer, warrior+healer, and double-dps are straight forward wins for us, if we play well. The trick for dk+healer (in most cases) is STILL going to be sitting on the dk and mana-burning the healer, as will be the case for warrior+healer. The only real switch to that plan is against druid healers, as they are back to being unstoppable healing machines given the buff to Lifebloom and Nourish... I have to sit on the druid and CC the dk/warrior very VERY hard when we cross paths. Primal Gore makes taking out Druid healers much easier, as when they go bear form they will still take 100% damage from 40% of my overall damage, and reduced damage from the rest... plus with no dispels Guntir has free reign to throw dots up and keep the pressure going (as mana conservation is a concern, but we don't have too much problem against these particular comps with Innervate and ShadowFriend).

Beating double-dps teams is the same story as it always was: split their dps and kill one slowly in a very defense-minded manor. Whenever I get too offensive-minded, we end up losing these matches bouts; I need to dps hard with bleeds, then turtle up and survive the damage while focusing on Cycloning them out of their double-damage situations (particularly against mage+rogue... need to Root/Cyclone the rogue to make him use his cooldowns so Fear/Stuns will be effective, and keep LoS off the mage).

Another team we saw more of was warlock+healer. If the warlock has soul link, kill the pet, wait for him to insta-summon the pet, kill the pet, kill the lock. It isn't a hard strategy to play, and for the most part Affliction damage has been lowered to a manageable level. Additionally, particularly against Affliction locks, in between pet deaths, I need to concentrate on knocking off Curse of Agony to help Guntir's mana situation, if we have all the dots up all the time, it's just WAY too much mana used, even with ProM going crazy between us. If the warlock is destro, I need to kill the pet and watch for CC as destro locks can put out a LOT of damage quickly. Remember that Seduce is a CHANNELED spell that the Succubus has to keep up... I always forget this, and while trying to gib the pet, I never throw a Maim in there to break Seduce on Guntir... though I should... I'll remember this in future bouts.

All things considered, we only really lost to double-dps teams and disc+rogue. If we can face more dk+healer and warrior+healer (or even warlock+healer), we will end up doing very well this season. The only problem is we need to play WAY more matches to get back up to where we used to start... then start the grind again. Hopefully, these 47 wins and 0 losses will continue up above 1000 and we might make it back to 1500 before the end of the week (we're running out of time and I have a lot of stuff to do this week >_<). Dual-specs is making it easier to log on and say "wanna do some matches?" So, that's nice.

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Double Whammy

The powers that be have announced that 3.1.1 will be coming out today, and what's worse is that they have extended the maintenance until 1PM PST. That's not terrible, but it does mean that I'll have to find some way to get into the game later today and reapply all my talents, as they will be reset today for mysterious reasons (something to do with some talents being bugged... dual talents causing errors... I dunno, something about refunding all talents, but not glyphs, will fix it).

Anyway, today is the start of season six, as well. Moving forward with the assumption that Feral damage output will still be really high due, in large part, to Rip, we're going to try and get some games out today. Most notably changing this season is the starting point. Because the change over to the MMR-system makes the entire arena population steadily inflationary by design, the devs have decided that instead of starting at 1500 rating, teams will start at 0000 rating. This is completely and utterly bonkers, but something I completely support. Why would I support something so obviously insane? Well, I support it because the system is bonkers to begin with, there's always a period where the more overpowered teams rise to 2200+ before they are even on the nerf-bat radar.

DK+Pally facerolled their way to the top and no one even started complaining about them until half-way through the season when 90% of the top 200 teams on every battlegroup was pally+dk. Guntir and I saw this trend coming, so we geared our specs to being able to handle this team, which has worked well to this point. Now, in season 6, if a team is overpowered, they will hit 1850 well before anyone else (presumably), and that will get them on the radar. However, they will be on the radar well before the 2k brackets, so changes have a chance to be made delicately and quickly before people bubble themselves up to 2200+ and sit there for the rest of the season.

Either way, this change is definitely going to mean one thing: no more 10 games a week for serious arena players. Admittedly, the more serious arena players already did more than 10 games a week, but Guntir and I figured we wouldn't press our advantage so early (plus we kept running into hunter+pally teams that completely curb-stomped us so we'd get frustrated and stop at 10). Last season, for instance, Guntir and I had 195 games played. Less than 200 games played and we were damned near 2k rated. There are a couple teams on the front page of the arena rankings who have 200 games played, but more often, you see teams that have as many as the 10th ranked team... closer to 800 games played (and most high-rated ferals have close to 1000 games played).

Going from zero rating to 1500 rating is going to be... simple with a dash of tedious. Essentially, the system is supposed to work like this: we have a 1938 MMR, so we will get matched against another team with a ~1938 MMR. However, we will both start with 0 team/personal rating. The winner will gain points as if they were 0 rated beating a 1938 team, thus heavily favored to lose, and gain ~20-30 team/personal rating. The losing team will lose points as if they were 0 rated losing to a 1938 team, thus heavily favored to lose, and lose 1-5 rating. Essentially, if you can maintain a 50% win:loss ratio, you expect to get up to 1500 again in right about 100 games played.

Interestingly, a few aspects of this new system are still up in the air. Firstly, can a team go into negative arena rating? Secondly, is there really an advantage to playing 100 games today and striving for 1500 right away, given that many teams will spread their games out over a longer period of time, and getting a higher team rating just means one will lose more when they lose, and win less when they win? Only some time will tell whether these are really concerns or not. In fact, we have not yet heard what the upper-bound for wins will be, so we might even see something like 50 point wins... maybe higher? I have also heard of losses being zero before, so perhaps this is just a weed-out process for the sub-1500 players so that they will sit even lower now.

Only time will tell...

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The Mangle Problem

Warning, the next 10s of lines may include maths algebraic in nature. If such mathematics make you uncomfortable, confused, or sick to the stomach, scroll down to the section marked "TL;DR". You have been warned.

Let's talk maths!

SR = 1.3
Mangle (Shred) = 1.3
RaT (Shred) = 1.2
Crit = 2.0
Predatory Instincts: 1.1
Crit meta = 1.03
Savage Fury (Mangle) = 1.2

(2.25 * x + 743) * 1.3 * 1.3 * 1.2 =
4.563 * x + 1507

Shred Crit:
(2.25 * x + 743) * 1.3 * 1.3 * 1.2 * 2.0 * 1.1 * 1.03 =
10.34 * x + 3414.86

With 50% crit, we can work out Shred's average damage per cast:
((4.563 * x + 1507) + (10.34 * x + 3414.86)) / 2 =
(14.903 * x + 4921.86) / 2 =
7.4515 * x + 2460.93

and now we can work out the average damage per energy:
(7.4515 * x + 2460.93) / 42 =
0.1774 * x + 58.5936

(2.0 * x + 634) * 1.3 * 1.2 =
3.12 * x + 989.04

Mangle Crit:
(2.0 * x + 634) * 1.3 * 1.2 * 2 * 1.1 * 1.03 =
7.06992 * x + 2241.16464

average the damage:
((3.12 * x + 989.04) + (7.06992 * x + 2241.16464)) / 2 =
(10.18992 * x + 3230.20464) / 2 =
5.09496 * x + 1615.10232

average damage per energy:
(5.09496 * x + 1615.10232) / 34 =
0.14985 * x + 47.50301

Shred vs. Mangle (DPE):
Shred: 0.1774 * x + 58.5936
Mangle: 0.14985 * x + 47.50301

Okay, the point of all this maths above this point was to point out the VS. section just above. I think that it's pretty clear why Shred is a leaps-and-bounds better attack than Mangle, as both curves are linear and have no positive intercepts (that is, Shred will do more damage than Mangle for ANY value of X). This brings me nicely to the main topic here: the main problem with Mangle.

Mangle is a move which is easier to use in a PvP setting than Shred as it requires less set up to do it's maximum damage (you just use Mangle... as opposed to Shred which requires a bleed and to be behind your opponent to do its max damage). That being said, there is some penalty for using Mangle exclusively, in that you do less damage necessarily. However, the devs have made note on more than one occasion that they do not like how bursty Shred is in PvP AND they don't like the positional requirements (they think that that should be some PvE requirement on boss fights for maximum damage). However, I am still looking at the damage per energy and seeing Mangle come out below Shred, and I can still reasonably effectively use Shred in PvP and excel.

The problem I have is against teams who have a truly deep understanding of Feral mechanics and know how to exploit them. For instance, we faced an AMAZING pally+rogue team this season (ended up at ~2300 because they couldn't faceroll the better pally+dk teams). Each of them knew exactly what to do when I focused them: the pally would HoF the target and they would strafe to avoid me getting "behind" them. This works extremely well and completely neuters my damage output. However, I am not spec'd for Mangle-spamming, and if I were, I wouldn't put out enough damage to pressure most teams most of the time...

THIS is "The Mangle Problem": it doesn't do enough damage to spec strictly for it, but it does let you do damage against the teams who can take Shred off the table.

Bornakk said (in a post started by Deep that dealt with this topic head-on) that they would likely implement something to make Mangle more appealing in PvP, while still doing less damage than Shred, but not so little damage that you would never spec into it. Incidentally, this is the same thread that Bornakk also semi-confirmed my suggestion for Glyph of Primal Gore, which would lower the coefficient of Savage Roar to 15-20%, but allow Rake to critically tick as well as Rip, saying that "Something similar to this was discussed recently, but I wouldn't expect it to happen in 3.1" (source). Also noted concerning Mangle, "One example would be to make Rend and Tear include mangle in its damage bonuses" (source).

WELL NOW, if RaT includes Mangle in its damage bonuses, then we might be on to something. Time for more maths, if you don't care, just scroll to the next bit of paragraphs.

Proposed Mangle:
(2.0 * x + 634) * 1.3 * 1.2 * 1.2 =
3.744 * x + 1186.848

Proposed Mangle Crit:
(2.0 * x + 634) * 1.3 * 1.2 * 1.2 * 2 * 1.1 * 1.03 =
8.483904 * x + 2689.397568

Average damage:
((3.744 * x + 1186.848) + (8.483904 * x + 2689.397568)) / 2 =
(12.227904 * x + 3876.245568) / 2 =
6.113952 * x + 1938.122784

Average Damage per Energy:
(6.113952 * x + 1938.122784) / 34 =
0.179822 * x + 57.0036

Shred ADPE vs. Proposed Mangle ADPE:
Shred: 0.1774 * x + 58.5936
Mangle: 0.179822 * x + 57.0036

OOOOOOOO... now we're on to something. With the proposed change to Mangle, we get a few things:
1) The average damage for Shred is better than Mangle in almost all cases of X.
2) The highest burst damage for Mangle is still 20-30% less than the highest burst damage for Shred.
3) The DPE for Mangle is better than Shred at 50% crit.

That last bit might be a problem... something tells me that Blizz doesn't want ferals using Mangle exclusively in PvE, but only PvP. That is no problem, they could pretty reliably change the coefficient for Mangle on RaT from 20% to 15% (or whatever makes the maths work out properly), the point is still the same: you could do SOMETHING to mangle's damage and it would be a better PvP situation for ferals.

My only problem with it would be coming up with a spec. My current spec has everything I need for damage, survivability, and utility (in terms of shapeshifting), but if Mangle becomes the PvP attack du jour, then I am at a loss for what to drop. I suppose it would have to be some from Protector of the Pack, with this spec. On the other hand... they could simply make a glyph that improves Mangle's damage and unlink Rend and Tear from Primal Gore... that would make this spec the uber spec... and that would be VERY nice for PvP.

I'm hoping for something in that regard, but until then I'll keep using Shred. Deep's trying out a Mangle-spam spec, it seems, so I'm curious to hear his thoughts on the matter. Season 6 starts Tuesday, so I'm getting excited again.

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GhostCrawler AGAIN

Arthropods generally lay eggs. If you mean how do the eggs get fertilized, the same way they usually do. One catch with big crustaceans is that they can only mate following a molt. Males of some crabs will literally keep a claw on a female who is about to molt until she' sheds her skin. Molted crabs are soft, which is where softshell crabs come from. However because their mouthparts are also soft, they don't eat for awhile following a molt. This can make them difficult to catch say blue crabs (Callinectes spp.)through conventional methods, which use bait. Many crustaceans carry the eggs until they hatch. Larval crustaceans are very small and are carried through the water column as plankton. Insects by contrast tend to have a mobile adult form and a relatively immobile larval form (think butterfly v. caterpillar). Crustaceans have a mobile larva and adults that don't travel great distances (or in the case of barnacles, not at all).

This oceanographic moment has been brought to you by Blizzard Entertainment.

I just have to say, GhostCrawler has quickly become my favorite developer... he's on the forums addressing a LOT of concerns, and he still finds time to be funny.

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Small Update

There have obviously been some minor (or major, depending on your point of view) bugs that made it through the testing cycle of development into the live game. Of course, most of the issues in question affect everyone, or just PvP ferals in particular. Here are a couple of fixes that went out with rolling restarts yesterday to all realms:

# Lifebloom can no longer be forced to bloom early.
# Primal Tenacity should now always reduce damage taken while stunned in cat form by 30%, reduce the duration of fear effects by 30% in all forms, and reduce the cost of shapeshifting into cat/bear forms by 50%.
# Rank 2 of Maim should now correctly provide an interrupt effect.

Of course, we all expected Lifebloom to be bugged (right clicking the icon would cause the "bloom" effect), but I didn't personally expect them to sort out the Primal Tenacity bug or the Maim bug so quickly. Alright, that's not entirely true, the Maim bug was one that ended up being a result of changing Maim from an incapacitate to a stun and we saw the same thing in LK-beta when it was changed from a true incapacitate to a fear-like-immobilizing-effect (it didn't necessarily break on damage, but would break after a percentage of health was lost... like Fear... it's bonkers, I know).

Primal Tenacity... that was a whole other can of worms. I spent about 2 hours trying to figure out just exactly what caused the PT to stop working and could never figure it out, as rezoning seemed to fix it SOMETIMES. Well, long story short, apparently it was if you were stunned while NOT in cat form, you would "lose" the Primal Tenacity "buff". This all sounds onerous to me, but I suppose that a fix is a fix, so I'll stop complaining.

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OH man... the QQ just won't stop

I have a couple of gripes myself... not being able to zone into an instance, for instance, is irking me (nothing killing some zombies didn't fix). Having to put talents into my two trees... every time I log in (which may have been fixed this morning with rolling restarts) is irking me. However, that's basically it.

I think that Guntir and I need to step into a few skirmishes and see just how bad bearform survivability has been hit... the QQrs seem to think that there's no point in leaving cat form anymore, but I have my doubts. The math they post all seem to assume that we're taking HotW for PvP at a 10% loss of hp... whilst I NEVER took HotW and thus never had 20% hp, let alone the additional 10%. The only place my bear form is getting hit in terms of survivability is in the armor and damage while stunned. I really only lost 5% physical damage mitigation from armor, I went from 65% to 60%. That's not terrible, but I am also losing a flat 30% reduced damage taken while stunned while in bear form... that hurts a bit. In reality, it turns out to be about 16% physical damage reduction LOST while in bear form and stunned, and ~5% physical damage reduction lost all the time (the 16% includes this 5% number).

Looking back, however, the Primal Tenacity change really doesn't mean ALL that much. For instance, I basically never got stunned by a rogue in bear form... the good rogues always saved Kidney Shot for when I was out of bear form to get the extra damage from the loss of armor. Let's get some stuff clear right now. Armor, for druids, is a really relative term. One never really "loses" armor or "gains" armor; rather, one's armor simply changes depending on the situation. Prior to 3.1, I would be taking about 5% less damage against good rogues based on the armor nerfs alone. That's all that really matters. On the other hand, I will be able to effectively "block" some damage now with the addition of Savage Defense, the trick will be getting it up and setting up for burst-cycles.

Another thing that is apparently worth complaining about is the change to Maim. Sure, it shares DR with Bash and Warstomp now. Sure, it lasts 2 seconds less now. Sure, mages can blink out of it now, pallies can HoF remove it, and DKs can IBF out of it. Sure, there are a slew of classes who pick up talents to reduce its duration. HOWEVER, it won't break on damage anymore and I really don't think that I will be using Maim as much as Rip. To be specific, Rip does an overpowered amount of damage. Here are some facts that add up to Rip being overpowered:

1) Rip only has to land once to get full benefit.
2) Rip ticks can critically strike
3) Rip ticks that DON'T critical strike do more damage than mutilate noncrits.
4) I can collect combo points, turtle, then bash and apply Rip, then turtle some more and Rip will STILL put out one of my best sources of damage for me while I'm taking reduced damage.
5) Rip ignores armor.
6) Rip cannot be removed by ANYTHING in the game.

The ONLY thing keeping Rip from being RIDICULOUSLY overpowered is the fact that to get the best "bang for your buck", one needs to have Savage Roar up at the time that Rip gets applied... this is why I'm not really concerned with Maim. I now have 2 finishers that I NEED to keep up to keep pressure on my opponents, and Maim ain't one of them. So, a lot of my matches have me opening up on my opponent, busting a 2-3 point Savage Roar, then using Tiger's Fury to get up a 5 point Rip. Against almost ANY team, this strategy is going to produce TONS of damage... and when they get into turtle mode, I am even MORE effective... as everyone's turtle mode involves armor, for the most part.

Anyway... everyone's complaining... and I think Guntir and I need to hit up some skirmishes to test out how effective we are with all the changes in 3.1. I am expecting greatness; I just don't see that many nerfs in the patch notes... but every other feral (especially some of the higher-ranked ones: Datah, Deep, etc) seem to think that we're done (though they always take HotW... so maybe I'm on the cutting edge here). I think that we'll hit 2k this season... maybe more. The hope is that all the feral QQ going on will keep the fact that Rip is obviously the most overpowered ability in the game off the blues' radar.

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Oh the hilarity...

Yes, if you were following the release of 3.1, you will have noticed that my previous statement said something akin to "everything's going swell, 3.1 rocks" at 10AM, followed shortly thereafter by a long amount of nothing.

Let me be clear, there was HILARIOUSNESS going on in the forums. It was a typical patch day in that at 11AM, they said they needed another hour, and at noon, they said things would be up at 1PM. At one, however, they had given up all hope of things being resolved in yet another hour and said that they would "post back with updates around 2PM".

This continued until 7PM... which was fine with me because for the most part, I don't play WoW until after 7PM anyway. The best part, however, was getting online without a hitch, buying dual specs without a hitch, spec'ing them both without a hitch, and getting our raid together for Ulduar. We got into the instance and started talking about the first event when the instance server locked up.

Long-story-short, I haven't gotten to test out my dps, yet, and we basically wasted 3-4 good hours of time that SHOULD have either been devoted to raiding that worked, or shooting zombies in the face (L4D is an awesome game btw).

TODAY, on the other hand, all the bugs that did not get shaken out during the ptr are starting to bite people. GhostCrawler is showing an indomitable spirit by laughing at these QQrs and assuring us that everything will be fixed in due time, presumably before next Tuesday when the arenas open up again. That being said, I believe they have worked out the kinks with the instance servers as guilds are starting to post parses and what-not... so hopefully we can get into Ulduar and make some progress tonight.

As a last little aside, my favorite bug reported thus far is this:

Maim lasts 5 seconds at 5 combo points, but does not break on damage, cannot be trinketed out of, cannot be BUBBLED out of, seems unaffected by Icebound Fortitude, is unaffected by talents that reduce the duration of stuns, and has an interesting Diminishing Returns policy in that it goes 5, 3, 5, immune.

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Patch 3.1

Well then, it looks like 3.1 has indeed come out today without much problem. They claim the servers will be back up at 11AM PST, so we shall see how this goes.

Primal Gore... here I come...

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Well well well....

"Hey, if the season is going to end next Tuesday, we need to hit 1930 so I can get the offhand and the wand to bump up my resilience, then get the battlemaster's trinket for the last stand effect." - Guntir

So, we walked into the arena at 1883 knowing we had a little work ahead of us. Thankfully, we ended up only needing to play 13 games... and we started on a hot streak. It seemed like probably 8-9 of the matches we had were against holy+dk, and only one of them was very good, so they ended up being pretty decent wins. Sadly, I was trying out the in-game video recording to see how it compared to iCapture (lag-wise, quality-wise, etc) and some how the options were set to not record the interface... so all the videos are of me running around with animations but no numbers and no unit frames and no action bars. These captures can still be useful in an end-production video, but we had some really good dk+pally matches that showed off the strengths of our comp really well... so I really did want them to come out well >_<.

We also lost to a double-rogue team. It was hilarious, we spent the first 3 minutes walking around while guntir was getting sapped over and over again... then it happened: they finally found me. Double sap. Open on guntir, I click my trinket button, nothing happens, I am confused, so I look at my character window and see I'm still in full PvE gear... interesting. Anyway, they did the ghost-shot on guntir (tricks-trade, cheapshot+ambush, cbmut x2, evis x2) and instantly exploded him, then they restealthed and did it to me. It was hilarious. I doubt we would have won even if we were wearing PvP gear, I would have simply ended it in blind instead of sap.

Our second to last match was against a ret pally and an arcane mage. We were winning, then the mage got a full-duration Poly off against guntir and things went downhill. I ended up dying with the ret pally at 50% and the mage at 30%. Guntir got angry, and started holy fire and smite-spamming the mage, which proved to be pretty effective. I'm still sitting in my corpse, and I watch the ret pally run over to me (not sure why). He just stops moving in a corner, I assume to drink... but I don't really understand at the time, so I swing the camera back around to guntir, who has popped shadowfiend and is out of LoS while the mage is evocating (but he only gets 2-3 ticks off as the fiend is eating him). Guntir ends up smoking the mage (don't forget, he played Shadow in s4 with my warlock, so he knows how to duel offensively), and we end up winning. The ret pally APPARENTLY afk'd or dc'd or SOMETHING, but when the mage died, we got the recap window and it had said we won... we weren't complaining. We have been doing PvP for 4 years now, arena for 2, and it is about time we got some actual luck.

Our last match was on Lordearon, and it ended up being our team versus a priest... as his rogue didn't join in time. This win took us over 1930, so we called it a week, or season if tomorrow is the last day. However, it's unclear still whether tomorrow will indeed be the release of 3.1. There are a number of facts that make me lean either direction in my predictions.

Firstly, they announced that the end of season five would be April 14 or perhaps the week after. Secondly, they have previously said that they do not want season five to continue into the release of 3.1, so it stands to reason that season five would end the same day that 3.1 was released, as they are giving arena one week off to hand out titles and what-not (presumably the argument could also be made that this one week hiatus would allow players to familiarize themselves with the 3.1 changes before stepping into the competitive arenas again). Thirdly, we have the fact that basically all scheduled testing for the 3.1 PTR has ceased and the patches are coming out in shorter instantiations with fewer and fewer changes (the last one had a few tooltip updates, new icons, and some bug fixes, but nothing 'new').

On the other hand, we have some facts supporting the thought that tomorrow will NOT mark the release of 3.1 or the end of season five. Firstly, we have the fact that in the past, Blizzard has ALWAYS given a definitive statement more than two weeks prior to the end of an arena season; we have yet to hear "April 14 will be the end of season 5" and therefore it stands to reason that April 14 will NOT be the end of season 5. Secondly, it seems that there are still a fair amount of bugs present in the latest release of the PTR client which are actually game-breaking, not to mention the laundry list of concerns from players about dps balance and the spirit changes making healing a nigh-impossible task for long fights. While Blizzard does not always give out coos of "it will all be okay" at the QQ of the playerbase, they do often give out statements along the lines of "this is fixed in the latest PTR build, look for it on the next push" or "this is fixed internally, it will make it to live."

I am sort of on the fence post about whether I want 3.1 to be released tomorrow. On the one hand, I want it to come out tomorrow so I can stop paying to respec a few times a week to do arenas. I also want it to come out tomorrow because I will get Primal Gore which will really improve my ability to pressure an enemy opponent in PvP even more, making arenas that much more enjoyable. On the other hand, we are actually at a decent arena rating, and growing higher would be something that I think would be neat (there's an achievement for 2000, and guntir is an achievement whore). Plus, getting higher arena rating means that we would start next season with a higher MMR, which would mean getting higher faster earlier in season 6 (which is going to be important).

All things considered, I suppose my current stance is that I want 3.1 to come out tomorrow, but I will not be heartbroken if it doesn't. I really would like to hear from a Blizzard rep if it doesn't come out tomorrow, though, as all this anticipation is making me anxious (and I'm not getting any work done because of my anxiety... I just keep trolling the forums expecting a speck of news at any moment).


The patch is definitely coming... shortly. The "severe lack of info" might simply be because we announced it, gave further details about it, put it up on the PTR for testing and now we are basically on the verge of releasing it.

We certainly haven't been quiet about it. It is coming. And it is coming... soo... er... promptly.

A blue poster on the European boards has made this announcement today... so that definitely supports the idea that the patch will be released "promptly", but again that is a very ambiguous statement. Promptly means "with little or no delay"... one can hope that tomorrow is prompt enough.

Every single US forum has been taken down for maintenance... looking more and more likely that tomorrow is the day, although this could be a huge coincidence.

Looks like the forums went down for an update: The Blizzard Blue Tracker. For all intents and purposes, they have simply implemented something that every WoW fansite has had for years... but it's a welcomed change. No word yet on whether this is being rolled out as part of a 3.1 release or just something that happened to fall today.

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I Wonder...

SOOOOOOOO... they took Rake off of Primal Gore, and I think I'm starting to see why. According to SimulationCraft, an application written by someone with even more time to spend on numbers than myself, Feral druids are the mathematical 3rd best dps class pulling nearly 7k dps behind rogues and warlocks which are just closer to 7k. Not only that, but on a cost-damage ratio, Rip is HEAVILY the best ability in the game. Fully talented, geared, and glyphed, Rip will do more than 40,000 damage PER APPLICATION over 26 seconds (given RNG). That's completely insane to me, and the gap is HUGE. The next best ability per cast is Searing Totem, which does ~22,000 damage per cast, but lasts a long time.

Our best ability does almost twice as much as the next best ability per cast... isn't that insane? Now, there is a STEEP curve to using it and making it do so well, but it doesn't take much to show how amazing Rip is:

1) Ignores 100% of armor
2) Lasts 26 seconds in best case (easy to do)
3) Can crit (RNG can make it do some really amazing damage... Loatheb parses will show this off) with Primal Gore
4) Benefits from Savage Roar (30% more damage for the ENTIRE duration)

All I'm hoping is that 3.1 drops in 6 days without anyone noticing how absurd Rip is. However, you heard it hear first... they will NOT nerf Rip... if they feel feral dps is too high, they'll nerf Primal Gore first (probably remove it), and then look at Savage Roar. If Rip, Primal Gore, and Savage Roar make it to live... I may very well be looking at a Mangle spec for PvP... just to make CP generation that much easier (to get up SR AND RIP AND Maim).

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Well, looks like we got 2 weeks

Based on a post from Bornakk (and I know it's April Fool's Day, but still, it seemed real)

We are currently planning to end Arena Season 5 as early as April 14, or possibly a week after this date. At that point we will go through our normal process to determine who is eligible for the end-of-season rewards. This process should take approximately one week. It's very important for players who feel that they may be eligible for the arena-specific titles and/or Deadly Gladiator’s Frostwyrm to refrain from transferring their character to another realm until after Arena Season 5 ends.

The following Arena Season will not begin for at least one week after the current season ends. During this time between seasons, all rated matches will be turned off and only skirmishes will be available. When Arena Season 6 begins, all teams, personal rating, and arena points will be wiped, but matchmaking rating and honor points will remain.

It certainly seems like 3.1 will drop in two or three weeks. More likely than not, if season five ends on April 14, then we will also see patch 3.1 drop that day as well, giving players ample opportunity to test out the various changes during the one week vacation.

That being said, and now that I have regained some of my composure since the last post I made (I was very angry about Primal Gore... admittedly), let's take a look at the patch as if it were going live today.


1) Primal Tenacity only reduces damage in cat form. This really isn't a HUGE nerf... it just makes it so it's not a detriment to stun me in bear form... which is the source of a LOT of QQ from rogues. Basically, on Live, if you stun me while I am in Bear form, it's just a great way to give me 30% damage reduction for the duration of your stun. If you are a melee class... stunning me in Bear form is basically the worst thing you can do to yourself, in 3.1, it won't hurt YOU to stun ME. I did the math for this during the time when they were about to change Protector of the Pack into a flat damage reduction talent, and as I recall, when in Bear form, stunned, with Barkskin up, I would have something like 88% damage reduction from physical sources... that's just not right.

2) Maim changed to a stun and duration reduced to 5 seconds at max rank from 7 seconds. This is a double edged sword, but let's look at it from a nerfs perspective first. Being changed to a stun makes it a worse ability against Mages and any class with stun duration reduction talents (priests and warriors and maybe more). Also, going from a 7 second duration to a 5 second duration is a pretty tough nerf.

3) HotW Bear form stam buff reduced from 20% to 10%. While this is a nerf to be certain... I never take HotW for PvP, and I don't really care about the stamina in PvE... so it doesn't affect me (though it certainly will affect other druids).

4) SotF armor contribution multiplier reduced from 66% to 33%. While this is definitely a nerf of about 5-10% physical damage reduction from armor (yeah... it's not much), I sort of saw it coming. They directly nerfed how armor gains worked for bears as a nerf in the first patch after WotLK was released, then they added back some armor multipliers to SotF... I just didn't see why. Oh well, I will be losing a little bit of damage reduction from armor in bear form... I will still have over 60% damage reduction in bear form in PvP gear from armor, so it's not a huge nerf, but they start to add up (particularly when stacked with the PT nerf).

5) RaT critical strike chance reduced from 50% additional change at max rank to 25% additional chance at max rank. This just means that I'll LIKELY crit with FB in PvP against resil-capped targets rather than REALLY LIKELY crit with FB in PvP against resil-capped targets. A nerf to be sure, but it won't be game-breaking... I'll still try and use FB as an execute until they change the energy->damage portion and up the base damage to be in line with Eviscerate.

6) Glyph of Shred changed from 20% additional Shred damage to incapacitated targets to "increases the duration of your Rip by 2 seconds, maximum of 6 seconds." This is the biggest PvP nerf we will be seeing in 3.1, and in fact there has been a reasonably large movement among ferals to try and get Primal Gore unlinked from Rend and Tear just because Shred and Mangle damage is so close when both are fully talented, than in PvP it wouldn't matter which was used, and an amazing mangle-spam build exists if RaT isn't a prerequisit for Primal Gore. Probably a pipe dream, and without it, Shred will still be a strong PvP ability, just not AS strong against stunned/inc'd targets.

7) Abolish Poison ticks every 3 seconds instead of every 2 and lasts 12 seconds instead of 8. Personally, I read this as more of a fix than a nerf (as priest abolish disease works like this 3/12 implementation), but it is definitely going to have some impact against rogue teams.


1) Savage Defense has been implemented, which causes the druid to gain a shield after critically striking in bear form which absorbs 1 hit for a maximum amount of damage equal to 25% of the druid's attack power. This is just a straight buff to PvP bear form survivability, particularly against slow attacking players (Arms warriors are going to be more prevalent next patch... probably even the FotM). I have enough crit to basically guarantee this being up for half the match AND I have enough attack power to basically keep a 1000 damage shield up after every crit... it's a good change. Oh... and it's TRAINABLE at level 40... it's not even a talent, I just get it.

2) Feral Faerie Fire lasts 5 minutes in PvE. This is an awesome buff that doesn't touch PvP at all, but it's still awesome.

3) Feral Faerie Fire damage in bear form substantially increased. I don't know what the actual damage is, but it crits for about 800 on live... so I would have to assume that it's going to be hilarious on a 6 second cooldown for 3.1. Rogues hate me enough as it is... this is basically a direct rogue change.

4) Innervate costs no mana now. While this is awesome, the spell is still pretty lackluster for me and merely decent for my priest. On the other hand, I never run into the situation where I have no mana AND need to cast Innervate... maybe this is a lateral rather than a buff.

5) Swipe (Bear) now hits in a 360 degree area of effect like Thunderclap, rather than a conal attack like Shockwave AND it doesn't require a target... this is kind of a cool tanking change.

6) Savage Roar changed from 40% attack power to 30% damage. While this SHOULD mathematically scale the same as the Live version, it is actually a BUFF once it goes live because it will actually increase the BASE damage of all my abilities as well.

7) Glyph of Savage Roar increases the damage done by Savage Roar by an additional 3%. While it seems that this is additive (based on a reply to a similar ability from GC) it might also be multiplicative. Either way, it makes the new Savage Roar better than the current Savage Roar.

8) Glyph of Berserk increases the duration of your Berserk ability by 5 seconds. This is neat in theory... but really you only care about Berserk being up as long as you have energy, otherwise it's just wasted time. This basically means that I can get another quick Shred off during the duration, which is good, but it's only one more attack for the cost of a major glyph... hard to tell how good this will actually be. It might be better than I make it out to be but at least more glyphs are always buffs.

9) Maim is now a stun. Again, this is both a nerf and buff. Against classes without stun duration reduction talents, this is a buff EVEN with the 7 second duration nerfed to 5 seconds. The reason is because the Live version almost NEVER lasts 7 seconds... and really how often do ferals Maim one target as a form of CC? Very rarely is the answer. That being said, the Live version will break after 1 Shred more often than not... so it's actually a buff since I can actually get off 2-3 Shreds during the duration of a 5 second stun. The only bummer here is that it shares diminishing returns with Bash, but I'm basically going to be able to macro Bash to my focus and Feral Charge (Bear) + Bash the healer of the opposing team and hit him with a 5 second stun after a 4 second school lockout. We'll have to practice some healer-nuking to get this working perfectly, but it'll be a neat thing to try.

10) Pounce no longer shares diminishing returns with ANY stuns. This is neat, though it will matter less to me as I very rarely get a chance to Pounce more than once per fight. However, when I DO Pounce in fights besides my opener, it will be nice to know that even with the 5 second Maim I just hit him with, I'll have another 5 second stun following it in Pounce.

11) Primal Gore ! ! ! ! Yes, this is just a straight buff. In PvE it's going to give me roughly 1000 dps in sustained damage, and in PvP it's just going to be more pressure I can apply with finishing moves. To really get a nasty Rip off, you have to have Savage Roar up when you apply the 5-point Rip... but I can do that against most teams currently, so it will take relatively low amounts of tweaking to perfect.

12) Improved Mark of the Wild now grants an additional 1% extra stats per point (2% total). This is just weird... but it is pretty nice for PvE... so I'll take it!

13) Glyph of Shred changed to increase the duration of Rip by 2 every time you Shred (maximum of 6). I know I listed this as a nerf, but it's also a buff! If you think about it, Glyph of Shred never helped in PvE at all, and now it's a strictly PvE Glyph (and the best one in the game for PvE feral dps).

Well there you have it... feral is getting some nerfs next patch, but it seems to be highly outweighed by the amount of buffs feral is getting.

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