Sigh, I fail

In an attempt to not destroy our rating before the nerfs to DKs/Warriors/Pallies/etc, we only did 10 matches yesterday and I called it. We actually gained ~20 rating, but we got hit with the same rogue+enhance team twice for the final two matches and I got frustrated, angry, and just a bit temperamental (why is there an 'a' in that word in the middle!?). Anyway, that's not why I fail, I fail because I didn't have the guts to record any matches.

See, I've had a bit of a dilemma lately... I'm slightly superstitious in that if something happens a few times, I'll try and avoid it. So, the last couple times I tried recording, a couple things happened a little too much for my enjoyment. First, there were a few matches where a lot of stuff was happening which caused my game to lock up for 5-10 seconds then right itself... this cost me 3 matches I can recall and it REALLY put me in a bad mood. So, I started using this external program to record, which is better in terms of not locking up my game, but worse in terms of quality AND of naming convention. Instead of naming the movies with some logical timestamp (which the in-game recording of WoW on Macs does), it names it something like "" which is TERRIBLE when you go and try to archive all these movies (I like to keep folders with comp names, then throw the movies in them with their timestamps... so it's easy to find what I'm looking for). So, I've been going back and forth between the in-game video capture and the out-of-game video capture... and basically just been going "fuck it, I don't care" when it comes time to actually record matches.

MAN... we went up against a Resto+Unholy team on Ring of Valor and they were fairly well geared and coordinated (which should be no surprise at 2200 MMR... but face-rolling dk+resto is possible now... so...), and it was a testament to how strong the feral+disc comp is against teams with strong peels but no healer-based-offense. We started the match in the traditional way: smoking out the druid by getting up some damage on the DK, popping SR off him, then killing his pet, rooting the DK, and switching to the Druid. Usually, the DK will just keep attacking Guntir thinking that he can rofl-stomp his face to victory, but after busting Gargoyle and getting it Cycloned+Shackled, his damage is really mostly sustained and very light burst. I am basically just sitting on the druid, keeping up SR, and forcing him to use mana healing himself. When the druid gets a good amount of HoTs rolling, I cyclone him and Root the DK. The DK will usually Death Grip me off his druid, but I just feral charge back onto him (and bad Restos won't expect it, so you can catch him in caster form with combo points for Maim and then you do REALLY good damage while the druid is eating mana burns).

Anyway, we did this against this resto+dk team and a couple resto+warrior teams on RoV (we couldn't NOT get a match on RoV yesterday... wtf right?) to pretty good success. RoV actually benefits our team against resto+dps (except rogue) because of how small it is and how difficult it is to break LoS and drink. While the druid has to expend mana, I can CC the dps off Guntir, allowing him to mana burn while I health-burn, and if we need it (and we usually do) we have Innervate AND Shadow Fiend, which is more than a Resto druid can say.

After yesterday, I'm looking forward to the changes even more in 3.1.3 because it will mean less armor for the Resto druids in ToL form. At first, I wasn't sure whether I would like this change or hate the fact that caster form would have more armor, but after spending 90% of matches yesterday beating on a Tree... I'm going to consider it a nerf for Restos that I will welcome gladly. It will be less effective to beat on a resto in caster form, but still more effective than beating on one in ToL... so no harm done there, really.

As for news: DKs, Warriors, and Ret pallies are up in arms about their respective nerfs, and I can't help but laugh. Not because my enemies are getting nerfed, but because Blizzard is issuing this patch as an attempt to quell melee dominance over casters in the arena without addressing Ferals (or Enhancement shammies, for that matter). Now, let's be clear about something: bad mage+rogue beats us 50% of the time... it just depends on HOW they're bad. If the mage is training Guntir, we win because I kill the rogue before they kill Guntir. If they train me and CC Guntir, we win if Guntir times his SW:Ds perfectly. That being said, Mage+Healer will NEVER be a top contender in PvP unless mages get some CRAZY buffs for the future. Essentially, mages require mana and have no viable means of getting it back AND they basically require their targets to be frozen to do damage... which Ferals have a nasty habit of ignoring (that and Polymorph).

Why do we care that mage+healer will never be a FotM team? Well, because as long as Blizzard is aimed at making conventional melees weaker against casters, they still don't seem to care too much about Ferals. The fact that Feral pretty much hard-counters a mage doesn't really seem to bother Blizz, and while they want mages to be competitive against warriors/rogues/dks/etc, they don't really give me the feeling that the same sweeping nerfs will ever hit Ferals... hopefully.

Personally, I think that Ferals are going to get hit with a nerf-bat regarding Primal Gore eventually, but I don't think that will happen before 3.2... if at all. Personally, I'd love for Blizzard to reduce SR's effectiveness by a TON and put Rake back on Primal Gore, which would likely be a PvE nerf to damage output, but definitely a buff for PvP as more damage from Rake will always help. Oh well... I won't get upset over things not yet transpired or planned.

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Finally Something Worth Talking About!

Some (or possibly all... not sure yet) of the 3.1.3 patch notes have been posted. There are a number of changes, but essentially Ferals and Priests remain untouched as of this posting, which is nice for a change. I had been getting a little burned out from arena grinding over the last couple weeks (sitting around 2100 at the moment) and I attribute it a lot to warriors, druids, and dks (less - Pallies and Hunters) being overpowered at the moment, so imagine my happiness when I see the following changes which will not hit a PTR but instead go straight to Live, hopefully next Tuesday:

* Frost Presence: Armor bonus is now 60% down from 80%.
* Improved Tree of Life: The armor bonus to Tree of Life Form from this talent has been reduced to 67/133/200% bonus armor.
* Improved Barkskin: This talent now also grants 80/160% additional armor while in Travel Form or not shapeshifted.
* Eye For An Eye: This talent now deals 5/10% of the critical strike damage taken by the paladin back at the attacker.
* Hand of Freedom: The base duration of this buff has been reduced from 10 seconds to 6 seconds.
* Juggernaut: This talent now also increases the cooldown on Charge by 5 seconds.
* Death Knight PvP Gauntlets: The chance to refresh a Frost Rune when casting Chains of Ice has been removed. When equipped, these gloves now generate 5 additional runic power whenever Chains of Ice is used.

So, obviously Frost Presence and Improved ToL getting their armor reduced substantially will make a difference to me. Eye for an Eye, Juggernaut, and Hand of Freedom nerfs are all just what the doctor ordered in most cases, particularly for HoF as 10 seconds out of 25 for snare/root immunity was a bit much. The Death Knight PvP Glove bonus getting gutted is EXACTLY what the doctor ordered for all specs of DKs, as it means they no longer get free infinite snares... they'll exactly have to expend resources to get Chains of Ice up on someone (no more sitting on my priest CoI'ing me from 30 yards away horray!).

The only questionable change is to Improved Barkskin. I honestly feel that this talent needs to be moved OUT of the Resto tree and into the Balance tree at the same tier. Resto druids are extremely strong healers with huge survivability without the need of a mostly non-dispelable Innervate and a self-Pain Suppression every minute. That being said, Blizzard is ignoring my suggestion (not surprisingly... apparently I did something to warrant another forum ban, though I can't for the life of me understand what that would have been) in favor of buffing Improved Barkskin further in compensation of the ToL nerf. The wording of the Improved Barkskin change is what is confusing me: "This talent now also grants 80/160% additional armor while in Travel Form or not shapeshifted."

Does this mean that anyone who takes 2/2 Improved Barkskin will get 160% additional armor while in Travel Form or not shapeshifted ALL the time, or just when Barkskin is up? If it's always up, then we'll see resto druids walking around not shapeshifted with around 10k armor... which would be silly since resto druids are least likely to need that (hello boomkins... I understand your plight).

Regardless, warriors, dks, rogues (maybe... 30% energy regen for 20 seconds MIGHT be a nerf rather than 10 less energy consumed for 6 seconds... I haven't done the maths), pallies, and likely resto druids all got nerfs in 3.1.3. If it goes live as-is, then it will definitely be a buff for our team. Keeping warriors off Guntir is tricky at 14 seconds, and it will be a little less tricky at 19 (or 18.6... depending on whether the glyph takes off 7% at 20 seconds or 15 THEN +5 seconds...), but the real problem with warriors is still MS... we need to break away with enough time to heal up without MS up, and ~5 more seconds on Charge will make that easier, but still feel tough. DKs not being able to spam Chains (or even USE Chains without taking a hit in the DPS department) will be a HUGE buff against that team, as Guntir can dispel Chains of Ice and it might actually be worth doing now, and of course I can shift out of it without worrying about getting chain-Chained (lawl) and getting nuked when I finally get there (COI COI COI COI COI FS FS FS OBL WTF). Rogues MIGHT feel a slight nerf from Overkill, but then again they might feel a slight buff... it's hard to say at this point. It'll probably come out to something like ~3 energy per second for 20 seconds rather than a potential 30-40 energy saved from Overkill straight out of the gate... I guess that makes it a buff in the long-run, but a nerf directly out of stealth. Pally teams will obviously be feeling the nerf of HoF being reduced from 10 seconds to 6, and that is just a good change overall considering they can dispel basically every snare/root in the game anyway.

All things considered, it will probably be a good bit of changes. I'm going to get home early today (brought a lunch to work and came in on time for once), so we'll probably get some arena games in tonight and I'll see if I can't record some of them in hopes of getting the videos up here unedited to show off our playstyle a bit.

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Man... someone hates engineers!

After several attempts to balance the Nitro Boots ability in the arena, we have decided that we currently do not have an acceptable solution. Until we are able to better balance this ability it has been shut down in the arenas. We fully plan to continue working on this item and we intend to adjust it in upcoming patches.

A few things to note about Nitro Boosts: 1) Yes, I have them on my boots, 2) I put them on my boots last week as simply "another" gap closer, 3) I mainly use them when my target uses them so we're two flaming people chasing each other, 4) they really DID need to be removed from the arena, and 5) I'm not going to miss them. Essentially, I'm still going to have Dash, Guntir's STILL not going to have any speed bonuses to evade enemies, but our enemies aren't going to have any speed bonuses of their own.

The main complaint that I'm seeing in the forums is the fact that most rogue+priest and double-dps teams rely on the nitro boosts. Essentially, they get into situations where they could not otherwise win without the nitro boosts to close gaps quickly and pop fears or land the killing blows they need. To this I say "Fantastic!" This means that otherwise poorly organized teams had a crutch which allowed them to make up for their lack of coordination by quickly closing gaps. Say this rogue+priest team couldn't stick on a druid healer because the druid was designed to be very mobile and he made enough ground to start casting Nourish on himself at 10% hp while the rogue's deadly throw and sprint was down. This rogue has been outplayed, but because he is an engineer, he has a friendly button to close that gap and kick/kidneyshot that cast and win the match. The druid did EVERYTHING in his power to survive and he got dicked out of a win because of his opponents' profession choice.

This is why the Nitro Boosts needed to be removed from the arenas. When your perfect play doesn't work because your opponents' choice of professions (especially when you COULD have gotten away if you hadn't spent all that time being a herbalist and alchemy master), the bonus in question is overpowered. I'm still going to use the Hand Mounted Pyro-Rocket because it does add some burst to my onslaught every 45 seconds (as would the Gnomish Lightning Generator if I didn't have the Death card instead... it's just better damage albeit random).

Then, of course, there are the PvP "pros" who only picked up Engineering for the Nitro Boost advantage and are complaining that they have wasted thousands of gold getting up a profession that they no longer want (though I still don't see many alternatives). I simply laugh at these players as my old signature in the forums seems to ring true:

"Min/Maxing in the arena is a good start at insanity and ulcers."

Essentially, if you NEEDED the Nitro Boosts to win matches, you didn't really have any skill to begin with. You were using a crutch to give you an unfair advantage over many of your opponents and even ground with the rest. After this change went live, everyone else lost their hyper-mobility that their specs should not have had by design (however, my class remains hyper-mobile by design, thankfully).

Oh well. We won't miss them... I can go back to putting agi on my boots (although, I think I'm going to wait and see what Blizzard decides to do about the Nitro Boosts... I'm not yet convinced that they will remain unusable in the arenas forever... they will probably get some sort of balancing aspects and then be turned back on. Though, I probably won't want them then... we'll see).

We hit 2100 on Monday (yeah, I haven't posted in a while... things have been hectic). We beat some pretty decent rogue+priest teams who can't grasp interrupting Tranquility, which I suppose begs the question of whether or not they were actually good at their 2200 MMR. We lost to a druid+warrior team with an MMR above 2400, though the match was a lot closer than the end-result would have you believe. Keep in mind that this match was before the warrior tweaks to Juggernaut and Glyph of Rapid Charge, so we MIGHT have won this match after Tuesday's patch. We also got a handful of DK+Pally teams which we facerolled over mainly because half of them were the prot-spec'd pallies who like to heal.

Let's talk about the Prot-spec'd pallies who like to heal for a second. If you are a full protection specialized paladin and you are wearing healing gear with the idea being that you will bring good utility and decent heals, you have to remember a few things: firstly, one must remember that while prot pallies can bring some utility, if you are spending all your time healing, you can't use it; secondly, if you are prot spec'd, you do not have Holy Shock, which is probably the best heal your class can get for the arenas; and thirdly, if you don't have Holy Shock, you can't abuse instant-cast flash of lights after the fact, which makes up a HUGE amount of burst healing.

Whenever we face a prot pally, we simply turtle through his utility (which is on short cooldowns, but you only need to outlast it once), then put pressure on his DPS partner and cyclone/fear him. Do you know what happens when a prot pally is cycloned and his DK/Warrior/whatever hits 20% hp? Usually, his partner dies because the prot pally has to spam Flash of Light, but he doesn't have half the talents that make it awesome, so he's fighting a VERY hard battle of Rip, Rake, and Mangles with Flash of Light while Guntir is spamming Mana Burn. These matches don't last very long against baddies, and against good players, we can time our burst around two abilities: cyclone+fear combos AND Divine Plea. Do you know what happens when a prot pally hits Divine Plea, is eating mana burns, spamming flash of light on his dps who is eating Rip, Rake, and Mangle-spam? Usually he either has to click Divine Plea off OR his target dies.

That being said, I have heard rumors that Protpally+Protwarrior is making its way up the ladders. When I see this, the only thing I can think is that disc+rogue is going to be a cakewalk for these guys, and dk+pally would be a bit tricky, but probably an auto-win like it is for us. However, when prot+prot walks up against feral+disc, they will lose... every single time. This is because there is no mortal strike effect, and no matter how mobile either class is, neither of them puts out as much damage as I do, and neither of them can kill over the duration of HoJ.

Anywace, we're probably going to try and get some games in today and test out the new Innervate. I hear it's overpowered as all hell for resto druids, but people probably don't know that it's overpowered as all hell for Disc priests even more-so, since they ALSO have Shadowfriend to aid in the mana returned. Against teams who do not have a dispeller, mana is no longer an issue, I'm imagining, and against teams who do have dispels, we will simply need to play our kite-n-hide tactic that we've been playing up till now...

...and it'll be much easier given that their dispeller will not have Nitro Boosts...

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All up in my grill!

We recently made some changes to items that grant stealth detection. We felt these items provided a necessary advantage in competitive PVP and forced players to use lower level equipment even when more powerful items were available to them.

This item can no longer be used in the Arena:

* Ultra-Spectropic Detection Goggles

We have removed stealth detection from the following items:

* All epic engineering goggles

We have reduced the stealth detection of the following items:

* Catseye Ultra Goggles
* Blood Guard's Dragonhide Gauntlets
* Marshal's Dragonhide Gauntlets
* Knight-Lieutenant's Dragonhide Gloves
* General's Dragonhide Gloves
* Bloodvine Lens
* Knight-Lieutenant's Dragonhide Grips
* Blood Guard's Dragonhide Grips
* The Night Watchman

All of these changes are already active and the tooltips will be updated with the next minor patch. (source)

Well, that wasn't the engineering nerf I was expecting to see, but it might actually help a little bit against other engineer rogues. However, I lose my ability to see rogues... time to get a real PvP helm, I suppose.

Anywace, we climbed to 2055 yesterday. We beat a couple of rogue+priest teams, a couple of dk+pally teams (including a random dk+ret which we rofl-stomped if you ignore the fact that guntir hit 100 hp at one point... some people just can't figure out how to interrupt Tranquility... also Cycloning a pally with wings up while you're busting Tranquility and he has Pain Suppression can SOMETIMES win fights), and a couple warrior+healer teams. We lost to a druid+rogue team... which we will NEVER be able to beat no matter what. We also go curbstomped by a hunter+shamang team... there's just not much we can do against that damage. We faced the hunter+shamang team 3 times in a row, and the third time we gave up all hope of winning and I tried to bust the shamang... ended up killing him at the same time I died, then Guntir solo'd the hunter.

Hunters are STILL bullshit. Their damage output is insane, their control is insane, and their mobility is insane... and they have an MS effect. We would have likely won a bit quicker against any other healer than shamang, but this comp is just nasty, and there is next to nothing we can do against Bloodlust except "run like hell" and hope not to get gibbed.

Another bullshit team we faced (and lost to) was Resto Shammy and a Prot Pally. Essentially, the prot pally doesn't do anything except Shield of Righteousness the entire fight and the shammy sits there purging and healing what little damage I can do to a prot pally. If we face this team again (and I suspect we will), I'm just going to Cyclone the Prot pally, tell Guntir to pillar-kite him, and I'll go and train his healer. If the pally comes after me, I'll just cyclone-spam him and Guntir can come in for fears. Essentially, this team should ONLY work against rogue+healer teams, since the damage output of the prot pally is magic instead of physical and neither the prot pally nor the shammy will ever run out of mana.

Anyway, it was a pretty good run. We fought a 2200 druid+warrior team and barely made it out by the skin of our teeth... we might need Guntir to go engineering to get the boots to get away from Bladestorm... but we'll see. This warrior was pretty good too, he made sure that MS was up, made sure Rend was up, interrupted with Overpower, hit hamstring, got a lucky imp hammy proc, and popped bladestorm. If it weren't for the fact that the warrior was ALSO low on HP and his druid was at 3k trying to drink on the other side of the match, we would have likely lost. I ended up popping my CDs and trying to out-dps the warrior while bladestorm was up and killed the warrior on the last tick of BS and Guntir had something like 200 hp left... TRANQUILITY (the druid was running over ready to hit moonfire, I'm sure, and if it's me versus a resto druid, all he has to do is put up Thorns, and stay in ToL form and he'll win).

We still have a lot of climbing to do... we just broke into the top500 on our bg again. We need to probably hit 2100 this week and hopefully hit 2200 next week.

Holy hell... I completely forgot I was writing this yesterday... or maybe the day before. Work has been getting in my way of writing blog posts... sorry about that. Anyway, that's all the news I've got for now.

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We're Rubber and You're Glue...

We bounced back from our amazing tank-fest on Saturday. We lost something like 70 rating on Saturday and made about 80 back yesterday. WHEW. I can't tell you all how relieved I am about hitting 2k... it's like one of those hurdles that feels insurmountable until you get there, and then you can mock everyone else who can't do it. Just kidding, I wouldn't do that... except to Ret pallies... you deserve the mockery.

So, we went back to Disc+Feral and I changed up my build SLIGHTLY to help out in the burst department. This is the build, and as you can see, it has given up Predatory Instincts in favor of Protector of the Pack. The reason for this change is that when dealing with Ret pallies, I need to be able to turtle and burst effectively, and while 10% extra critical strike damage is very good, I need 12% less damage taken while in bear form a LITTLE more. This is also true when facing a good rogue+priest team, as I will almost ALWAYS be getting trained and I will need to survive in bear form without getting tons of heals, and reducing overall damage is paramount to that point. Other than these small changes, the mangle build is the same.

Another fact worth noting: Survival Instincts(glyphed) + Barkskin(glyph) is absolutely insane survival. I can literally pop these both with a Ret pally with Bloodlust and Wings up and sit in bear form letting him attack me and I won't die, even with Guntir CC'd. The Barkskin glyph is the best glyph for a feral right now... if you don't have one: go get one. Another thing is that we FINALLY faced one of those frostdk+protpally teams we have been hearing about lately (apparently 2k is where they live). We don't have anything to worry about from this team.

The ONLY marketable attack that the Frost DK brings to the table is Frost Strike (with Rune Strike being a VERY weak second), and it requires diseases to be up to do full damage. The problem with this (for the opposition) is that Guntir has Abolish Disease and a brain stem. Essentially, the DK sat on Guntir for a minute or two dealing damage while I sat on him dealing damage (quite a bit more, in fact) and then he pulled his ace in the hole. See, the Frost DK build relies on stack up diseases on everyone, popping Hungering Cold, and insta-gibbing the non-healer while the healer is CC'd (Hungering Cold is usually followed by HoJ or Repentance, depending on the spec of the pally). The problem that this team runs into is that Hungering Cold gives me enough time to get my Barkskin going, so when the DK turns to me, he has -25% chance to crit and -20% damage. After the Hungering Cold breaks, I pop bearform and soak his damage, which isn't going to be NEARLY enough to down me (unless Guntir had been slacking... which doesn't really happen). Also, since this is the staple of this team and the damage output is kind of meager against a disc priest, Guntir can set up the DK has his focus and get ready to counter it.

Here's how it works: Hungering Cold is a 1min CD and Death Grip is a 35 second cd (25 if talented... not many DKs forgo the extra damage in the blood tree to get 25 second CD on DG). So, after we survive the first Hungering Cold, Guntir can line up every other Death Grip with Shadow Word: Death. Essentially, I'm slowing the DK to the point where he's going to lose Guntir, and if Guntir gets around a corner, then the DK will USUALLY switch to me. As soon as Guntir pops his head back around the corner to shield me, the DK will be thinking "I've been dpsing this druid for a bit now, let's go for a gib" and he will use his only CC by Death Gripping Guntir and mashing Hungering Cold to CC us both... so Guntir is firing SW:D once he lands from DG in the hope that Hungering Cold will fire at the same time as SW:D, SW:D will either kill the DK (cool) or not and return damage to Guntir, knocking his Hungering Cold CC off... and the DK will either hit me or Guntir will dispel it.

It's pretty hard to time it appropriately, and we haven't played enough Frost DK teams this season to actually get it working EVERY time (like he does with Poly), but it's pretty much good enough in the couple matches we HAVE played against FDKs where I'd bank on it... and in either case, Barkskin is ALWAYS up during Hungering Cold because they're both 1min CDs (By the way, I usually save my trinket for Repentance or HoJ since those are usually used as a last-ditch effort to stop me from killing the DK/Warrior... and the CC either of those dps can bring are otherwise ignorable, imo).

Well, we have got a long way to go, but we're still looking at climbing higher and higher, so I'll report back with what I see. Hopefully, I can start recording matches soon and getting some footage up... I'm working on a video currently as well, but it's sort of at a hiatus because of all the changes that happened in S5 to S6... some of the footage would have a Shred spec and others would have Mangle spec, etc. I don't know, it'll be a while, but it's definitely something I'm working on.

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Oh, the Horror

Well, we're going to shelve the idea that Holy could still work in the arena. No, it isn't because Holy doesn't have enough survivability, and it isn't because Holy can't live through the burst that is running rampant (ret pallies, you know what I'm talking about). The problem is that the problem that Holy would have resolved is not an issue any longer.

I'm talking about Disc+Rogue. Taken straight from the SK Gaming 2v2 bracket standings, the most popular comp is no longer Disc+Rogue by the margins we were seeing before. While two weeks ago we saw Disc+Rogue being dominant at something like 40% of the teams above 2k, now we see Disc+Rogue at around 19%, with Resto+Warrior catching up quickly and DK+Pally and Pally+warrior nipping at the heals.

Plainly, we didn't do our job. Our job is to walk into the arena with some semblance of an idea of what we're likely to face, and have strategies against those comps. We went into the arena this week and did fine the first day (got up to 1989), but then did some more arena on Saturday and curbstomped ourselves back down to 1922 (and our MMR is in the mid 1800s apparently, though I'm going off what Guntir said in a fit of anger at In-and-Out Burger... we drown our sorrows in burgers... skinny bastard doesn't gain a pound while I'm... nevermind). While we could make the statement that Holy would still work, it would require SOOOOO much reworking that it almost isn't worth it, particularly when the one strong dps that Holy works well against is no longer the most-played dps in the arena (rogues).

See, on Saturday we came across a phenomenon I like to call "lawlret". Not the Ret pallies of yore, but the new burst-cannon instantiations of them. Now, keep in mind that I claimed we didn't have any trouble with the Ret pally teams and even posted some strategies for facing them. However, Ret pallies who have finally picked up some Deadly gear and a Tier1 PvP weapon have become some sort of portable atomic blast. The problem that Holy has with Ret pallies is that the cooldowns just aren't enough: Guardian spirit is good, but when a Ret pally with Wings can do 75% of a target's health with just 1 button and a white swing (and Seal of the Martyr), it just won't be enough to keep any target up.

Disc is just much more suited to live through the burst, though Sanctified Wrath makes it even more difficult. Essentially, our strategy has to change from "kite when wings are up" to "cyclone when wings are up and kite like crazy because if he hits you with wings up, you're going to die; pain suppression or otherwise." Personally, I feel like this is bullshit. No class should have the ability to turn into an unstoppable killing machine the way Ret pallies can.

Oh well, live and learn, right? All we can do is change our playstyle and hope that we come out on the other side successful. Switching back to Disc is likely going to help because Disc is largely preventative in nature. That is, the staple of a Disc priest is the ability to throw out shields, Renew, and ProM in the hope that the shield will prevent enough damage to keep a Ret pally from killing you with their 3 buttons. However, it is becoming less and less reliable as time progresses and gear improves. Essentially, while Ret pally burst was always strong before, now that they are all sporting Tier1 weapons, they are given almost free reign to kill. Before, they would burst you down to 30% with their 3 buttons and since they don't have an MS effect, you would get picked back up to 100% from Mendflay. Now, they can burst you to 10% hp (or kill you if they get enough crits), and Mendflay MIGHT take you back to 100% if it gets some crits.

The aspect of the whole matter that is really irking me is that Blizzard has stated that they don't like how bursty Ret pallies are, but they haven't done a damned thing to deal with it. The first action they took was largely preventative in nature: they disallowed Exorcism to be used against players (I shiver when thinking about how this would have played out had they not made this change). However, the damage output of Ret pallies is STILL extremely strong in burst. The paladin walks over, hits his 3 attacks, and you MIGHT have died with 1000 resilience and 22k hp... largely depending on the pally's crit rate. During one Hand of Justice, a pally will get off the following attacks:

White swing
Martyr proc
Crusader Strike
Martyr proc
Divine Storm
White swing
Martyr proc
... martyr proc

I think we're starting to see why Ret pallies are currently the most overpowered dps in the game. I am extremely curious as to why Blizzard keeps giving Ret pallies damage that is not resistible, bypasses armor, and does the biggest chunk of all their damage. Seal of the Martyr/Blood accounts for 20% of my guild's ret pally's damage on most fights, while everything else is about 10%. I'm waiting for a revamp on Ret pallies.

The other thing that's bothering me is that I don't see any downside. That is, I could understand that priest+rogue was the strongest team because druid+warrior was still trying to get some gear and pick up their numbers... but essentially druid+warrior completely countered priest+rogue. There is seemingly no counter to a ret pally with a healer. If the ret pally gets on your healer, you have to peel him with SOMETHING and stuns won't do it (HoF removes stuns), snares won't do it (HoF makes them immune to stuns), speed won't do it (smart ret pallies judge justice), and soak/mitigation won't do it (Sanctified Retribution ensures that Pain Suppression won't be useful). So, it seems like feral+disc is the best comp to play against them because we have something that actually counters wings: cyclone. However, a good ret pally will simply wait out all the cyclones and what-not without using his trinket because he needs diminishing returns... then he'll either be immune to Cyclone when he finally gets on my priest with wings up, or he'll have his trinket ready for it.

Our strategy is just going to have to change. Unfortunately, it's going to have to change to something along the lines of "put pressure on the healer and hopefully Guntir can kite the pally NEAR me to the point where if he needs a Cyclone peel, I can give him one," and this strategy will NEVER succeed against shammy healers. Shamans, as much as they hate to admit it, are the best healers in the game with regard to mana conservation, particularly when they have someone attacking them (and only them); Water Shield sees to that. To add insult to injury, shamans are simply a pushover against classes with an MS effect because all the mana in the world won't make your heals hit any harder.

So where does this leave us? Well, it leaves us asking the question "wtf are we supposed to do against shaman+ret?" It also leaves us in a tight spot against ALL ret pally teams, particularly double-dps ret teams (since ret pallies can just walk over and kill someone without effort, especially if they're getting help).

... We'll just have to hope that we don't have to face any ret pallies. Another thing we're going to try is dispel-training them, as a lot of the time you NEED to be able to dispel Wings as an option, and unfortunately they have lots of abilities that stack up on themselves. This makes the mana war even more intense as they passively apply buffs, and dispelling those buffs is usually a waste of effort.

I'm running out of ideas... we'll see how it goes today.

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Definitely gotta talk about specs...

Okay, I've been talking about the new specs and what-not for a couple days now (almost a week) and I haven't really gotten into the specifics. I get questions like "how the hell are you running holy+mangle with any success at all!?" all the time, what with neither being well represented at all above 2k. The quick-n-dirty answer to such questions is that Guntir and I have almost always explored the realms of untouched territory in hope of finding something off the wall that no one has ever seen. I believe we may have done that (again... our spriest+destro team was pretty strong in season3/4 but we couldn't get past rogue+priest at 1800 to the 2k druid+warrior teams... if we got above 1900, we would have likely skyrocketed to 2k+... but that's neither here nor there).

Here is Guntir's Holy spec... it's insane, we know. It's a hodgepodge of all the good talents at the bottom-tiers of Disc and basically all the HoT talents in Holy.

Here is my spec, which is a pretty basic Mangle build... but it's a bit unorthodox for me given that I am always talking about how our team is such a strong turtle-team and I don't have Protector of the Pack.

Let's talk about the strengths of each spec. Obviously, I've been going on and on about Feral stuff forever, now. The Mangle build has all the same stuff one would expect a PvP spec to have: SotF, iLotP, Primal Tenacity, Improved Mangle, etc. The only thing I have switched up is taking Improved Mangle makes me drop points out of Protector of the Pack and because of this, I have taken up HotW (for the extra stam in Bear form ... and the extra AP in cat as a side-note) and Survival Instincts. I know, I said I never used Survival Instincts, and when I have PotP, I don't usually need to because that inherent 12% damage reduction in bear form is just SOOOOO powerful. Another thing I should make mention is the glyph choices: Rip is obvious as it is the bread-n-butter of the Feral PvP dps cycle; Mangle is there because I was a Shred spec and just never found a better choice (although, Glyph of Survival Instincts is looking better every day), and Glyph of Barkskin.

In case I haven't made the point before now: go get Glyph of Barkskin before they nerf it. Glyph of Barkskin essentially gives you the 20% damage reduction you normally get AND -25% chance to be crit every minute... it's insane. Couple that with resilience (I have about 600 which is ~6% crit chance reduction) and Survival of the Fittest and you're talking about -37% chance to be crit every minute on TOP of -20% damage reduction. Have you any idea what happens when rogues attack me with this up? Not a damned thing, they find me like water on rock. Ret pallies, too, find me very difficult to kill as their wings is on a similar (though shorter) cooldown; if you can time your Cyclones appropriately, you can completely negate their wingsbomb with bearform and barkskin... you can even toss yourself heals with Frenzied Regeneration.

Changing directions, for a moment, I would like to talk about the reason I am even trying out the Mangle spec. The reason is that while Shred is certainly more damage and comparable combo point generation in its best case, the majority of the time at the higher ratings, teams realize the weakness of most ferals and can strafe-defense their way out of effective burst damage. Getting the best damage possible out of Shred requires so much build up that the rest of the strengths of the spec are almost lost completely. Shred requires Mangle, a bleed, and Savage Roar to be effective. It also requires you to be behind your opponent and NOT energy starved. The main problem we were running into was that good teams would just focus me toe-to-toe and I would lose the ability to effectively build up combo points, pressure the opposing healer to heal, and keep up the prerequisites for making Shred more effective than Mangle WHILE using Maim to get behind the opponent. The entirety of the damage hinged upon Maim hitting for full duration and Tiger's Fury being up. This isn't usually a huge problem, but it led to inconsistent damage output against the higher rated teams which allowed the opposing healers to almost drink at will.

Switching to Mangle as my primary attack, it doesn't actually matter anymore if there is a bleed up on my target when I'm hitting mangle. Obviously, I want to keep bleeds up as much as possible, but if there isn't, I'm not penalized for using Mangle instead of the bleed THEN Mangle. Also, many opponents find it hard to believe that I would be spamming mangle anyway, so they still try and strafe-kite me to stop my damage, which can get them in trouble if they aren't careful. Also, because I'm using Mangle so much more often than Shred against good teams, I'm also generating combo points much more frequently, which allows me to effectively get up my bleeds and apply pressure, which forces the opposing healer to stay in combat and not drink, which allows Guntir to pressure with mana burn more effectively and often.

Speaking of Guntir, his Holy build basically relies on a few tidbits in order to be effective. I have written before about Blessed Resilience and Lightwell, so I will not bore you about those ad nauseum. The other aspects of the Holy build that are strong are Guntir's HoTs; if you notice, Guntir is taking Empowered Renew, Divine Providence, and a few other HoT-related talents. The reason that he takes these is because Renew and ProM have become his bread-n-butter. While I am in cat form, his ProM will tick off of me for about 6k and his Renew will tick normally on me for 4-5k. These abilities are instant cast, they are easy to keep up during points of pressure, and many teams won't think about dispelling them under normal circumstances (because they're so cheap as compared to dispel, especially when the opposing team has mana burn; the one-track minds of priests is astounding. Priests could honestly just sit on Guntir mashing dispel and their rogues would kill him in a matter of seconds, but most priests think they're facing a disc, so they're just going to mana burn). Another aspect of Guntir's build that is very powerful is Body and Soul, which does a couple of really neat things: first, it allows him to get ANOTHER abolish poison on himself against rogues, it allows him to do double-trouble-dispels against rogue+dk teams, and it lets him break away from melee on a fairly regular basis, especially with me snaring them. The only other ability that makes the build interesting is Guardian Spirit, which is particularly effective against teams which do big burst damage and do not have an MS effect (read: ret pallies). Essentially, Guntir can use it as a burst heal that does 50% of his health, or he can use it to heal with since the 1 minute cooldown when it isn't consumed is very strong (from the glyph).

Okay, well that's basically all the nooks and crannies of our specs, but it is not yet time to say "well that makes sense, time to spec that way and play, amirite!?" You would be wrong, particularly so if you are not a feral being teamed with a Holy priest. Guntir seems to think (and I believe him) that Feral is the ONLY class/spec that could be effectively teamed with a Holy priest. The reasons for this are simple: Holy is an extremely mana inefficient spec and requires drinking and peels a LOT of the time; Holy's mana inefficiency gets worse when it has to dispel CC effects off partners because dispel is no longer a cheap spell; Feral is an extremely mobile spec with access to great survivability if played right.

Mobility is a HUGE factor for Holy priests; being able to get away from an opponent isn't helpful if you've just gotten away from an opponent who then quickly turns his attention to your teammate and needs heals, thus pulling the priest back into the fray. Feral druids have huge amounts of mobility given the right talents, so it is very natural feeling to see Guntir "sprint" away from an opponent which leads me to CC him and switch to his partner. This gives Guntir ample opportunity to drink back some mana and drop MS effects while I apply pressure to the healer. This strategy really trips up most healer+dps teams because the dps who was CC'd now has to decide what is more of a threat: his healer being attacked or my healer getting back to full/full. If the dps decides I'm the bigger threat, I can turtle until Guntir arrives on scene winning the mana war, and if the dps chooses Guntir, I can pressure the healer until it's time to restart this glorious cycle again (Guntir "sprints" away and I CC and pressure the healer).

So there you have it, that's the long version of why this comp actually works and why it likely wouldn't work for any other dps (although, one could make the argument that it would work with an Arms warrior, being both ultra-mobile and essentially un-fearable... plus an MS effect would make this comp a little stronger in terms of pressure output. The only problem is that warriors can't turtle quite as effectively as ferals... but I'd trade it for an ms effect... let alone two >_<).

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What the spec!?!? pt2

I have to say, I really didn't think that the Holy spec would hold water in PvP, but it really does. Most hilariously, it works best against ret+disc as Guntir just has to keep JoJ off himself and pop shield to get away from the scary burst (which is completely out of hand at the moment... we got steam-rolled by a ret+disc team yesterday which would basically just wait out trinkets then HoJ+Wings+Faceroll Guntir and there was nothing anyone could do... and Retribution aura kicks my ass something mean...).

Anyway, we actually beat a rogue+disc team yesterday. Admittedly, they weren't very good and they tried to train my priest, which is the wrong thing to do since rogues are a class built around critical strikes and Guntir is immune to them after the first one or two. However, it showed great promise for the spec given that he couldn't be exploded... essentially I can wait back and interrupt rotations on whatever dps gets on him, though I still have to open on the priest and immediately go bear form against disc+rogue because he needs his buffs.

Also, we faced a druid+warrior team that was PROBABLY gladiator in s3/4. They played amazingly We tried our curb-stomp strategy on Lordaeron which is to cc the warrior at every turn and just focus the druid to death, unfortunately the warrior was just putting out crazy damage and EVERY time I rooted him, the druid would go and stand directly on top of the warrior, so I couldn't get damage done without taking a ton myself. We started trying to fake it so he'd just stand there and have Guntir mana burn, but it was difficult to time and do effectively. Essentially we're going to have to split our dps back and forth and try to beat his hots with my dots. Focus the warrior for a while, get bleeds up, root him, get on the druid and get bleeds up, switch back... the only problem is that good druids will just hibernate and cyclone me when I'm not on him, so it's hard.

We're going to have to give more thought to this comp.

We ALMOST beat a mage+rogue team, but the mage got some lucky crits at the end and I didn't let them open on Guntir. Essentially, Guntir should get into a good position and toss dots out on the mage and force the rogue to open on him. Once the rogue shows, I need to do some bleed damage to the mage and LoS HARD to not eat magic damage and bearform the rogue. This is a team I think we will have better luck against in the future with Guntir's Holy spec.

Another team we randomly beat was Unholy+Ret. I never saw this coming, but we ended up turtling on top of our Lightwell with me in bear form and just trying to burst-n-bleed every time Guntir feared... it was REALLY close at the end, but I ended up finally killing the DK when I was at 10% and Guntir was repentanced... I immediately broke LoS, trinketed JoJ and pillar-kited the Pally until Guntir could drink and get some heals off. It was REALLY nerve-wracking. The fact that BOTH of them could heal kinda bugged me... a better version of the same team could have more easily beaten us... it's gunna be tougher in the future.

We STILL beat DK+Healer pretty hard, particularly DK+Pally (Prot and Holy and Hybrid healers). Essentially the DK can sit on Guntir without too much worry, but the diseases are still a concern, so I just kill the pet over and over and keep Rip+Rake+Mangle up on the DK the entire match, then turtle when needed. Guntir mana burns when he can, etc.

I'll have more matches in by next Tuesday, so I'll have a better feel for how strong the comp is, but for now it definitely feels arena-viable.

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What the spec?!?

Another Monday, and another WoWWeek has comes to pass. We attained our magic number to get our Furious Tier1 weapons tomorrow, so we're reveling in that victory. Additionally, I caught a Darkmoon Card: Death on the cheap for my PvP set, which is an upgrade against most comps, so that's good too. We hit the arena rating we needed on Wednesday last week, so Guntir IMs me at work as says:

We're just going to BG-grind this week without any more arena matches, right? If so, I'd like to try out this Holy PvP build I have been toying with for the last couple of weeks... I doubt it will work, but I want to try it to prove that to myself. We can do bg grinding with it and if it's terrible, I'll respec Disc; if it's good, we should do some skirmishes, and if that works, we'll try it next wekk in the actual arena. - Guntir

This is bonkers, but what the hell... bg grinding is boring anyway, right? Might as well try and get some testing done. We were raiding all night, so he didn't get a chance until Thursday, and I don't really play on Thursdays because I spend time with my girlfriend (and it's our 8-year anniversary today, so I'm supposed to be extra-good all week up till today). So, I didn't hear about his experiments until Friday night. I have a bowling league I do and I don't get out until 9:30 or so at night, then we go to Carl's Jr. with our parents and hang around after they leave talking about WoW.

Anyway, Friday night comes, parents leave, and we start talking. He says "this Holy spec hasn't shown me any obvious flaws yet. The mana conservation might be an issue in the arena, but with how quickly our matches go, maybe it won't be." He also makes mention that the ability to remove Poisons on himself is completely ridiculous against rogues because Body and Soul gives his target a 60% speed buff whenever he uses PW:S on someone, so he gets jumped by a rogue, waits for his Abolish Disease to knock of Crippling, hits PW:S and gets away from the rogue who is standing there looking rather confused.

Another bonus that this spec has is Blessed Resilience. The best part about Blessed Resilience is the anti-false-positive support. We talked about this before in threads long ago: a false positive attack is an attack made against a target who reduces the opponents' chance to strike them critically, but has bonuses gained from being struck critically. Instead of those abilities scaling inversely to resilience, they made the false-positive checks... example just works best in describing how this goes:

Rogue has 30% crit chance.
Guntir has -10% chance to be crit.
Normally, this would mean that his resilience is lowering his chance to proc abilities like Blessed Resilience by 10%... however...
20% of the time, the rogue will strike critically and proc Blessed Resilience.
10% of the time, the rogue will NOT strike critically when he SHOULD have but didn't because of Guntir's resilience.
Therefore, 10% of the time when the rogue DOESN'T crit, Blessed Resilience is still proc'd.

More the point, Blessed Resilience makes it so that Guntir CANNOT be crit during it's 6 second duration. However, this talent also gets the false-positive treatment and allows defensive crit-based abilities to proc while it is up. Going over the same example:

0% of the time, the rogue will strike critically and proc Blessed Resilience (and perhaps other on-crit talents/abiltiies).
30% of the time, the rogue will NOT strike critically when he SHOULD have but didn't because of Guntir's Blessed Resilience talent.
Therefore, 30% of the time when the rogue DOESN'T crit and Blessed Resilience is up, Guntir will proc a new Blessed Resilience (the other 70% of the hits aren't crits and don't proc anything... but they aren't crits... which is nice).

Blessed Resilience is THE best talent in the entire Holy tree for PvP. Guardian Spirit is pretty good (when glyphed properly), Body and Soul is definitely going to make it easier for Guntir to get away from rogues (with both Abolishes up, he removes 2 poisons every 3 seconds, allowing him to PW:S himself and 'sprint' away), and Lightwell is still an awesome heal for when Guntir is CC'd or stunned/silenced and someone needs some healing, but the real kicker is Blessed Resilience. You take that talent out of the tree, and you kill Holy's only PvP viability.

Anyway, we're going to try out some arena matches this week as Holy+Feral, and we'll see how that goes. I'll report back either way, obviously, but we are hopeful that it will make any team with a rogue/dk/ret/feral on it an easier win for us. The only thing left up in the air is the mana longevity: Holy BLEEDS mana. On the other hand, Guntir's GHeal in PvP gear can critically heal me for ~24,000... so the spec MIGHT work in getting him out of the 5 second rule, and even if it doesn't, he can still wind up the cheese-heals and drink (there still exists a bug where one can wind up a heal with a cast time while they aren't in combat and start mashing their drink button, as soon as the heal goes off, the priest starts drinking THEN is immediately marked as 'in combat'... but he's already drinking, so it doesn't matter).

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The People Have Spoken

Of all the recent in-game fixes to go through in the last two weeks, this is by far and large my favorite:

Blind (Rogue) is now in the same diminishing returns category as Fear effects, but no longer shares diminishing returns with Cyclone (Druid).

Mana burn got nerfed a bit, 10% mana burned (down from 13%) up to 20% of the priests maximum mana (down from 26%). I will have to wait ~3 hours to see how Guntir reacts to this, but my guess is that he will complain about it at first and decide it isn't so bad. I think he's still feeling the Soul Warding nerf was a step too far, but I don't think it hurts our team as much as other teams.

The reason I don't think we have to worry so much about Mana Burn being less effective and Guntir's mana pool being less efficient is because changes are happening in the game which, in the long run, are actually going to be more beneficial to our comp. Priest+feral has ALWAYS been about longevity; we turtle well, burst well, put out sustained damage well, have two mechanics for returning mana to the priest (and Innervate has been buffed on the PTRs from 400% OO5SR mana regen while casting to "regenerates 450% of the casting druid's mana pool"... that's always 15651 mana over 20 seconds), and we have more peels and CC than every other team. Cyclone, Roots, Fear, Feral Charge, Bash, Maim, and Infected Wounds as a snare means that I can, at the drop of a hat, peel both opponents off my priest, turtle up in bear form, keep their healer in combat, and let Guntir get some drinking off.

None of this has changed, however the circumstances which allow us to do this have changed. That is, we couldn't do this against priest+rogue because the rogue would put out too much pressure to drink and the other priest would never run out of mana either (and he'd just dispel innervate if I cast it). However, now that rogue+priest doesn't mean 2v1 for a minute every two minutes, we can actually play our game a little stronger. If they go for me, we can use Pain Suppression offensively and let me sit in cat form bursting the rogue down, and if they go after Guntir, we can use the fact that Pain Suppression gives all of Guntir's buffs that 60% dispel resist, so we can use Innervate during Pain Suppression and know that it won't get knocked off, making our team better at mana conservation in the long run.

The change to Blind also makes other teams counter rogue+priest a little better. Resto Druid + Warrior teams are making a swing back into the arena, and they are counter-comping poorly organized rogue+priest teams who can't line their CCs up properly on the druid, but losing to well-played rogue+priest every time. If blind and psychic scream share diminishing returns, then we would expect druid+warrior to survive and destroy priest+rogue a lot more than they currently do, as druids are highly susceptible to both, while warriors are immune to fear every 30 seconds. We would expect that a warrior sitting on a priest would probably end up killing the priest before a rogue sitting on a druid in ToL form with Abolish poison up 100% (if they're both getting peels etc).

Which brings us full circle to what I was talking about yesterday. Druid+warrior is going to be the FotM again very soon, I feel, and our team absolutely curb-stomps druid+warrior. If the warrior doesn't get 15 crits in a row on my priest, they won't win. We played a bunch of matches yesterday, and unfortunately only played to one druid+warrior team, but we lost it. Guntir took issue with my comments, but the fact of the matter is this: we need the warrior to stay in my LoS (or easily accessed LoS) in order to win that match. That comp is a cake-walk on Nagrand and Ring of Valor, it's even easier on Lordaeron. On Blade's Edge, it's a bit trickier as the druid will likely do the figure-eight kiting up the ramp and off the side over and over again while Guntir is limping along around a pillar on the bottom. It's less of a concern for us on that map as long as Guntir knocks off Thorns early-on, I won't have any problem pressuring the druid.

The reason, in my humble opinion, that we lost to the druid+warrior team is because the map was Sewers, and we can easily lose LoS on each other around the boxes, which is what happened. The druid came out, got Faerie Fired, I rooted the warrior, and switched to the druid to apply pressure on both (because as a good feral, I had my bleeds up on the warrior... which WILL make roots break early, but Guntir only needed ~4 seconds for MS to fall off). So I'm chasing the druid now and he runs for the other boxes (Guntir started off charged behind one side of boxes) and sits there with me on him. I didn't think too much of the strategy, but it seemed like a dumb one, so I kept laying into him, meanwhile, Guntir was doing the same thing, trying to kite the warrior around the boxes and throw his timing off with PS (27 second cd versus immunity on a 30 sec cd... it makes some sense).

I notice that Guntir is losing the health battle, so I try and Maim the druid, and it missed (rant here: I have 2% hit on my pvp gear... that means <3% chance to miss and it's ALWAYS Maim that misses...) while the druid is casting Cyclone on me. So, I trinket the Cyclone, Cyclone the druid, and run over to Guntir and start casting Cyclone on the warrior who follows Guntir around the corner and breaks LoS... I try to Cyclone him 3 times, but then Guntir catches all 6 Bladestorm crits and dies.

Guntir will tell you that Bladestorm is a bad ability and does no damage. I will agree with this UNLESS there are criticals involved. If any of the 6 crit, then it's a mean ability, if half of the 6 crit, it's an amazing ability, and if all of them crit, it's completely overpowered. Admittedly, the chance of this happening is just so low that it's not really worth talking about, and Bladestorm is plagued with problems (kiting being the best for us)... so meh, we got luck-sacked. It happens to even the best teams. If that Maim lands, I get there about 3 seconds sooner and have LoS long enough to cast the Cyclone, etc etc.

Not concerned. Sewers is a very tough map to coordinate positions on. I think that Guntir and I have a good idea for that map, it's small enough (on top) for him to just bring the warrior with him and follow me and the druid around the map. That way, if Guntir is getting hit by the warrior, I can almost always pull off a Maim-the-druid-Roots-the-warrior combo and be on the druid again before he gets out of Maim. Also, there are some bugs with Charge that we have been exploiting... well they aren't bugs and I guess, technically, we have merely been taking advantage of them. Anyway, if the warrior falls off behind the boxes in the sewers, he can't charge back up until there is a path in LoS and range... so he'll be walking around the corner to get back up, and I can root him down there to really throw off his game. Similarly, Guntir can fall off the side and hug the wall, and the warrior will never get a charge off unless he jumps off and runs backwards, which is a viable strategy, but Guntir can stay on the corner and play the opposite way as the warrior while I wind up an entangling roots on him.

Lots of options against that team. I look forward to more matches against them as we keep climbing. As a side note, I have enough arena points to get my Tier-1 PvP weapon on Tuesday, so that will be an amazing upgrade for me!

Oh, and we curbstomped more priest+ret to gain more rating... this team is stupidly predictable even at the top-tier of play (we beat a 2300 MMR priest+ret team without so much as a sweat). Open on the ret, he's going to save HoF for when he really needs it so build up 3-4 CPs. Back off before the stun ends and pick a side of a pillar opposite Guntir. The pally will pick a side, if he goes after guntir, pop SR and get up a 5pt Rip, then Cyclone his priest as this will force the bubble. If he goes after you, get into bear form expecting a stun, use Demo Roar, and set up a Feral Charge + Bash combo on the priest to let Guntir get off 5-6 Mana Burns... which will either get the pally to focus Guntir, or use Repentance on him. If he used repentance, travel form away (you'll be far enough away that JoJ won't bug you unless he already used it, in which case you just kite away in Bear form and get ready to Feral Charge back to the priest when the pally shows up), if he switches to Guntir, get back in cat form and build up your next SR+Rip. This is where HoF will come into play... you'll be snaring the pally and he'll be losing Guntir who will still be Mana Burning their priest... so he'll HoF himself and HoJ Guntir to get on him... Cyclone the pally (you'll have like 3-4 CPs which will go to SR while he's Cycloned) TWICE. This lets guntir get out of HoJ and if the pally trinkets the first Cyclone, Guntir won't eat all his CDs. Once Cyclone wears off, guntir will have made some distance, so you need to use Barkskin as soon as he turns his winged attention to you (he tried to gib guntir, don't forget) and usually I throw in Survival Instincts to guarantee a no-gib with wings up. Then, I get my SR+5Rip of on the pally, Cyclone the priest (even with the pally beating on you... there's nothing anyone can do, they have no interrupts), get back into cat form and use my remainder energy on mangle+rake+sr, then bust TF+Berserk and watch us win the match. Guntir will walk over and set up a fear-bomb on the priest once Cyclone ends, and even if he's undead, that should be enough time for me to have killed the pally.

I LOVE seeing ret+disc... it just means we're going to get some points unless a miracle occurs. On any map except Ring of Valor, this team is points for us. On RoV, the priest can sometimes get into a position of Repentanced Guntir so he starts throwing Holy Fire, Mind Blast, dots, and everything he can on me because at this point he's losing the match. This CAN be scary... but I try and soak up the Holy Fire knowing that a Mind Blast is coming, Feral Charge to lock out his shadow school, and walk away in bear form until Guntir gets out of CC. This can make the match last longer, but we can usually spread them out enough to win anyway.

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