Okay, season nine; we need to talk a bit about this stuff. First things first - the basics we need to get out of the way. In Cataclysm, the arena points system has had an overhaul (and a much-needed one, in my opinion). Instead of playing your ten matches and getting points based on your final team rating (and personal rating), you have a points "cap". The way this works is by being assigned at the beginning of the week. So, let's say you end the week at 2000 team and personal rating. As soon as the server resets go through and the next week starts, your point-cap will be determined via that 2k team rating. Next, you have to actually play and win arena matches to get to the cap; each win is worth a certain number of conquest points and (I think) they are given out after each win up to the cap. The idea is that you can actually get your week's-worth of points TODAY if you were so inclined (and you win that much).

Okay, another aspect to discuss here is that there are two different sets entirely to purchase, and presumably this will remain the case throughout the entire expansion. The first set is purchasable via honor points (which you should have 4k of today if you had grinded properly before Cata was released), and it is an entire set of gear including Boots/Belt/Bracer/Back/Rings/etc. This is not really a change, but if you take this entire model and notice that there is also an arena/ratedBG set of gear with Boots/Belt/Bracer/etc then you start to see the difference. That is, you can acquire an entire set of gear based solely upon your success in BGs and you can acquire an entire set of gear based solely on doing arenas or rated bgs. This is something that is entirely appealing to me because I absolutely hate doing BGs in order to gear up for the arena. I may have to do so this week only, but at the very least, I will be able to do arenas with Guntir to kill time and earn points.

The last thing I want to point out is that Ferals and Frost Mages have largely gone under the radar in terms of receiving the nerfbat. That leads me to believe that we (Guntir and I) need to get into the threes bracket hard and early to climb before the inevitable nerfbat swinging sets in. Likely, there will be a week or two (or in case this is the DK system of season five; a season or so) where we are overpowered, and so we need to just grind like madness to be at or near the top. Sadly, I have not even hit 85 yet... my social life is getting in the way of my grinding life over and over again. I am half-way to 85 right now, but stuck at work, so likely I will hit 85 tonight and start looking for a decent Frost Mage to accompany Guntir and I on a 3v3s team to roll to the top.

I think that early-on in the expansion, double-melee+healer comps are going to be the best simply because of the lack of resilience on gear; however, as people get more and more gear, I expect that trend to die down a bit in favor of hybrid-comps (ranged+melee+healer). I am only thinking of starting the season as Feral+Frost+Disc because of the relative strength of both of the DPS classes involved and the arguably insane control this comp brings to the table. Rest assured, I will be spamming Trade tonight with:

"LF 2200+ experienced Frost Mage for Feral+Frost+Disc, PST"

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The reason I haven't been posting... well, okay there are a few reasons: first, I am now grinding in all my free time; second, I started going to the gym (again) about three weeks ago right after work, so I don't get home and done making/eating dinner and cleaning the dishes until around 7pm (which doesn't leave much time for grinding given that I wake up at 6:30 >_<); third, I have been extremely busy at work, so posting during the day is difficult as well; and fourth, it is the holiday season and in such fashions my girlfriend and I have been attending and throwing a number of parties and shopping and whatever-else during most of my free time. I think (read: hope) that after I hit 85 and plow through some BGs for honor gear and what-not the holiday party scene will have died down a bit and my schedule will become a bit more regular meaning I can actually fit in an hour to compose a post (usually it takes that long; today it will take 15m because that is what I have).

Today, I want to talk about gemming. First things first, however: Rake is bugged at the moment. Rake is ticking for me (81) for around 10k (crits) on mobs and closer to 6k (crit) on players. I do not expect this to remain permanently. That being said, Mastery is still by far and large our best stat against targets who can live longer than 10 seconds (for grinding I would still very much suggest stacking agility until you are blue in the face). It is important to note, however, that agility is ALMOST as good as Mastery, so you will not want to end up skipping socket bonuses for the most part.

Yellow - Mastery
Blue - Hit (to cap); Spell Pen (to cap); Stam+Mastery (green gem)
Red - Agility

Easy-peazy, right? If you cannot meet the hit and spell-pen caps via solid colored gems, replace red gems with purple gems of agility+hit/pen. The reason for this is as I explained before as Mastery is just the stronger of the two.

I would also like to point out that there exists a piece of PvP gear (shoulders) with expertise on it... I know that this is stupid, but I petitioned against it while on beta pretty vigorously and Blizzard did not seem to care at all. Reforge as much of it as you can to Mastery. Also, as far as my testing went on the Beta, the PvP Gloves do NOT have a bonus attributed to them, and if that remains true into S9, consider using your Wrathful Gloves instead; the stats are a lot lower, but that reduced cost to Skull Bash is imperative.


Oh... here's another thing that's been bothering me: people are already talking about how we are going to have "less critical strike chance in PvP" in Cataclysm because we will be reforging everything to Mastery. First off, this is simply wrong for the reason of not being able to reforge ALL our critical strike rating to Mastery, only a small piece of it and only if that piece of gear does not already have Mastery; second off, we still stack agility pretty hard and that aids our critical strike rating rather directly; and third, even if we are walking around with 30% critical strike chance, that is actually MORE than most Ferals had effectively in PvP settings in Wrath since Resilience USED TO reduce your chance to strike critically by as much as 15% (and most PvP Ferals were rocking 45% crit in full Wrathful), but it does not any more... so effectively we should have roughly the same effective critical strike chance in Cataclysm that we did in Wrath.

I think it's that resilience bit that keeps getting people. There is definitely going to be some lowered critical strike chances in the PvE environments, but that's a good thing in my opinion. Ferals were (arguably still are) too dependent upon critical strikes for building combo points to use our finishers, but in Cataclysm we seem to have enough critical strike chance to build our finishers in a good amount of time and keep them up long enough to land more. Additionally, we have more cooldowns to use and our damage is spread more amongst our bleeds than our direct damage abilities, so it will matter less about Shredding and more about Ripping/Raking (and they're our two least expensive and best damage-dealing abilities).

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Been a Minute!

Man... work has been super-hectic. I have not been able to find the time to play WoW, let alone write posts about it. Okay, well now it is Thanksgiving Week, which means that my workload has diminished a bit so I can crank this post out.

Tomorrow, the world ends! The Cataclysm is officially happening tomorrow; no, not the expansion, but all the stuff that leads up to the expansion: the world cracking, Deathwing escaping, the world changing, etc. While this is kind of cool, there are still no skirmishes (as far as I know), and therefore there is no PvP. No grinding as well will amount to no WoW worth playing. Let us face facts here, battlegrounds pale in comparison to the Arena in terms of actual PvP. The Arena is just more intense and more bang for your buck in terms of time committed and fun gained.

We have had a while now for people to play the new 4.0 build on Live and determine some understandings about the change of the game. The funny thing is that I played some Battlegrounds as Feral a bit to test some things out, and while the healing has been drastically nerfed and many healers are feeling underwhelmed with the changes, Guntir is still a dominant healer with me around. We walked into BGs with healers in those bgs complaining about how hard things were and yet Guntir and I were facerolling everything in our path. So badly were we beating these guys that we just stopped doing them... there was no challenge.

Here is a funny little post out of Arena Junkies that I thought was worth putting up. It has a poll amongst Arena Junkie members (that is, people who have hit 2400 in any bracket) as to which class (dps) will be the most overpowered in Cataclysm. Right now, the number one class is obviously Mages since Frost is essentially "Proc Fingers of Frost, spam Icelance, collect points." However, the interesting bit is which class is #2 on the "OP-Meter." That is right; it is Ferals claiming the cream-of-the-crop voting for #2. I can see a number of reasons why this might be, but it basically amounts to "Rip and Rake do TONS of damage with Mastery being our best stat, and now we don't need SR up 100% AND we were given a kick to deal with casters." In my opinion, the big change there is the Kick... although it is hard to argue about SR not being mandatory for reasonable damage given that it costs so many combo points. As a prerequisite for damage, it was a hindrance, but as simply extra white damage, it can be used at 1 point after the full ramp-up of Rip/Rake for basically 50% more white swing damage for nearly free.

Let's see... changes... changes... oh, Leader of the Pack is being nerfed from 8% healing to 4% healing on the proc, which I think everyone saw coming. At least the mana portion stayed the same (8% base mana returned; I wish this was total) so we still have powerful shapeshifting (ss'ing is cheaper than in 3.3.5 even at 85; it's awesome). Although, Natural Shapeshifter is still in the Resto tree, and for the life of me I have no idea why. OH, Vengeance is going to remain on the Feral after leaving Bear Form (might be canceled if you enter cat form though) so we can actually shapeshift out of Bear Form in PvP to drop snares or throw a Cyclone or what-have-you and keep our additional attack power; that'll be nice. Other than that, there is not much to say on this front.

Comps-wise, Guntir and I keep talking about threes comps to run in Cataclysm... we LIKE the idea of having a DK with us, but all signs out of the Beta so far is that DKs will be less than amazing at 85 even with Necrotic Strike. Only time will tell, but we are keeping our options open, and with Mages getting the #1 slot on that list, it isn't outside the realm of possibility for us to run Feral+Frost+Disc, which might be a strong comp.

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Sweet Sassy Mollassy!


Exactly as I predicted, these numbers are in reference to the first level versions. The tooltips have been updated to their level 85 equivalents which largely mean no changes whatsoever for max level.

I will not put them up here, as it would take a bit of scrolling to get my synopsis, but Blizz has just reported a new Beta build (which I will devote another post to when I have tested it out) which basically hacked EVERYONE'S damage down by a huge amount. Everyone's direct damage, that is.

I will be hard to tell, but here are the Feral notes thus far:

* Mangle (Cat Form) now deals 184% normal damage, down from 360%.
* Mangle (Bear Form) now deals 95% normal damage, down from 230%.
* Bear Form now increases Stamina by 10%, down from 25%.
* Survival Instincts now reduces damage taken by 50%, down from 60%. Cooldown changed to 3 min, down from 5 min.
* Shred now deals 267% damage, down from 350%. Additional damage reduced by 25%, from 1156 to 882.
* Savage Defense now reduces damage from the next physical attack that strikes you by 35% of your attack power, down from 65%.
* Swipe now deals 232% weapon damage, down from 335%.
* Ravage (Cat Form) now deals 505% damage, down from 850%. Additional damage reduced by 40%, from 2809 to 1669.
* Ravage! (Stampede) now deals 505% damage, down from 850%. Additional damage reduced by 8%, from 1817 to 1669.
* Claw now deals 77% of normal damage, down from 155%.

The interesting thing to note here is that these are all in reference to another blue post which suggested that this build had changed the way that all abilities are scaling with level now, and get stronger as you level up.

This is LIKELY to be a holdover from those changes. The damage components listed here seem entirely too low to be level 85 numbers, but we shall see once the patch gets deployed... but I think that these are the initial numbers for when these abilities are first learned, and the "down from X" is what the numbers will be at 85.

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Tank Changes (more)

They already hot-swapped some tanking changes that I mentioned in my previous post. Namely, those 2min CDs with 50% damage reduction have all been bumped to 3min CDs with 50% damage reduction, which definitely makes more sense. The only bit that does not make sense to me is that Warriors have a 2min CD with 40% damage reduction or they can glyph that to a 4min CD with 60% damage reduction... and this is ONLY when they are at least 8 points into the Prot tree. Arms and Fury Warriors will have a 5min CD in Shield Wall which reduces damage by 40% and they can glyph it to a 60% DR for a 7min cooldown.

Again, only the Feral Druids will be able to get this monster damage reduction talent in a DPS tree. I am very worried about the efficacy of a tanking and dps tree rolled into one.

The comps are starting to solidify for season nine. I am thinking of Feral as a utility specialization much in the way that Assassination Rogues played in basically every season during Wrath. Essentially, Feral feels like a decent damage dealer with tons of survivability and a great slew of utility.

1) Instant cast CCs in an era where CCs have cast times.
2) A ranged interrupt on a short CD with a long lockout duration.
3) Free sunder applications via Feral Faerie Fire with 2/2 Aggression
4) A 10% increased mana cost debuff via Skull Bash and 2/2 Brutal Impact.
5) 20% increased healing received in Cat Form.
etc etc...

I am starting to think that NomNomNom (I don't know what it's called anymore) will not be a part of an arena PvP spec. It MAY be too early to tell, but it feels like damage will be lower than in Wrath, but still rather strong during a train. I essentially feel like getting someone to 25% will either mean their death knell or they will be receiving enough healing that even using FB and refreshing your Rip to 16 seconds will not apply much more pressure than simply Shredding again. Again, it is really hard to tell exactly what the PvP scene will be like in Cataclysm simply because I have not really done any PvP in Cataclysm. Guntir has not yet gotten an invite and I have stopped doing BGs because it only shows how effective you are at curb-stomping mouth-breathers.

It is important to note that basically no big-name PvPrs actually get early-stage Beta invites unless they are Friends/Family, and that therefore no big-name PvPrs actually test PvP balance on Beta until the near-end when many more players get Beta invites. Last time around (Wrath's Beta), Guntir and I got our invites before 3.0 went Live, so we were able to play a number of arena matches before Wrath even shipped. We probably had a few hundred arena matches and got well into the 2k range in 2s on the Beta before calling it quits and focusing on game balance reports. This time around, I have not gotten a Beta invite at all (likely because of my forum troubles), and Guntir may have been black-flagged from association, which would make me rather sad indeed. I am only in the Beta by the grace of my friendships with one particular friendship allowing me a stay on his account with a premade Druid... rather kind.

All that being said, there is little point to actually playing on the Beta now without Guntir's presence as a majority of the changes for Cataclysm have been pushed to Live. We can more-easily roll BGs on Live than on the Beta, and there is more draw to do so since we can test out how well we play as a comp rather than as a solo. Again, this is largely a moot point since our BG queues seem to have hit 10+ minutes and we only play battlegrounds such as Strand of the Ancients and Alterac Valley where PvP is actually frowned upon while mini-game goals are the main attention. Sure, occasionally we will get a BG like Warsong Gulch which is largely a PvP battleground with some minor flag-running in the middle, but these are few and far between, and even in these rare instances we end up curb-stomping our opponents simply because we out-gear them so ridiculously.

There is another issue at play here that dwells beneath the surface in Rated Battlegrounds. Guntir and I had a nice discussion about their impact on the game and the PvP scene specifically after lunch yesterday. He points out that there is an ever larger collective fear amongst high-end PvP'rs over Rated Battlegrounds. For example, Hydra has openly migrated battlgrounds with an open invitation to all his high-rated friends. He has started a Guild called "Hydramist" and expects to have a large enough PvP guild to be the best Rated BG Guild in the world. His guild will likely be the best on his battlegroup by a HUGE margin. What is the problem here?

Well, Guntir pointed out that while they (the pro PvP'rs in Hydramist) likely have not even considered how much stronger their guild-bg-rosters will be than any who oppose it, and while it might be fun at first curb-stomping people every single match without fail, it will get old quickly. A huge reason that we play arenas is because it is never a guaranteed win, and it never has been for any comp. Sure, you can get paired against a 2900 team as a 2000 team, and your likelihood of actually winning is a near-zero percent, but it actually being zero would be something else entirely. We play because we LOVE that near-zero percent win. Hydramist will walk into any battleground and be so much more coordinated and skillful than any opposing team that they will likely have a 99% win-ratio and be the best on the battleground, which will cause all of them to lose their inkling to play rated bgs.

The second force at work here is that even if your guys are always online, getting 15 people together for some dedicated hours of BG grinding would be a bit much, particularly when one factors in queue times which will be large enough to keep at least a minimal portion of the arena community out of them. We are not talking about 5 minute or even 10 minute queue times like in the season 1-3 days; instead, we are talking about 15-20 minute queues with a full roster. The last force at play is the randomness factor. When you go into an arena match, you know all your partners and you know what you can expect from them skill-wise. However, when you go into a Rated BG, you need only 5 players minimum to actually queue. What happens when Hydra decides to queue with only 9 players because his 10th regular is sick, and he gets that one awful mouth-breathing-mouse-clicker who is in the game enough to not be kicked from AFK and not contribute anything worth-while? How many matches do you think Hydra will suffer when he queues for a rated BG with 10 guys and gets into AV with 1/10 the population and the rest are botters looking for points with which to buy arena gear?

Ultimately, I feel that Hydra et al. (meaning all the top-rated PvP'rs) will eventually either grow bored or tire completely of the Rated BG scene. I simply do not see the reason for Rated BGs IN ADDITION to the regular battleground. Who would play a regular Battleground instead of a Rated BG when the gear from one is much stronger than the other, and there really is no consequence to losing? Blizzard has entirely removed all incentive for doing normal BGs, added incentives to Rated BGs, and removed any requirements for skill... it will do nothing except create ANOTHER branch of queue times that are not the focus of PvP by the top-end PvP'rs, and will likely end up fractured between the mouth-breathers who know they are bad and will only queue for regular BGs, and the mouth-breathers who think they are good and therefore queue for rated BGs. At the end of the day, the people who actually asked for Rated BGs will end up hating them, the players who merely stand for them will do either rated bgs or the arenas and mock the other, and the hardcore arena PvP'rs will either stick with Arena or be back within a few weeks of the start of season nine.

Guntir made a good point in that Rated BGs are likely Blizzard's attempt at moving the PvP scene from Arenas, but not for the reasons you would expect. There are always going to be class imbalances and there will always be a king of the hill, but Arenas have been astoundingly powerful at illustrating these defects. Arenas have acted as a crucible for refining PvP class balance, and unfortunately for many, Blizzard has simply not enough time or staff to enact quick and effective changes. Additionally, there has always been the different shards of the game between PvP and PvE, and while one may be balanced, the other will not be. In this way, the Arenas have been both the biggest boon and the deepest thorn for Blizzard; the Arenas are the best tool for illustrating class imbalances, but also do it so effectively that the general public can see these imbalances and cry for change.

The accumulated filth of their [Haste] and [Burst] will foam up about their wastes and all the [Druids] and [Warriors] will look up and shout "Save us!"...

and I'll look down and whisper "no."
- Greg Street (read in the voice of Rorschach from Alan Moore)

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Tanking Changes

Survival Instincts -- Damage reduction changed from 60% to 50%. Cooldown reduced from 5 minutes to 2 minutes. Duration still 12 seconds.


Uhm... whoa. I do not understand this change at all.

For instance, Warriors also have Shield Wall and it also reduces damage by 60% for 12 seconds on a 5 minute cooldown, and they can glyph it to be a 3 minute cooldown which reduces damage by 40%.

Okay, that whole bit above with the line through it... all wrong apparently. This has changed since I last looked at warriors. Now, Shield Wall is a 50% damage reduction on a 5 minute cooldown and there is a second-tier protection talent which reduces the cooldown by 60/120/180 seconds (making it a 3-minute cooldown talented), but it still only reduces damage by 50%. Next, you look at the glyph which increases the cooldown by 2 minutes, but also grants it 20% more damage reduction. Which means that IF you are a prot warrior and you glyph for it, your Shield Wall will be a 4 minute cooldown for 70% damage reduction OR a 2 minute cooldown for 50% damage reduction.

The reason that this Survival Instincts makes no sense to me is because it would be like giving a Fury Warrior a 50% damage reduction button. That is it... the problem that Blizz has not yet commented on (and I hope that they do not) is that Survival Instincts can be used in Cat Form for essentially no lost damage while every other tank has to be tanking specialized, for one, and must be in the correct stance to use this ability, for two. Warriors have to be in defensive stance to use Shield Wall, for example, while Ferals can press Survival Instincts in Cat Form.

I worry that there is an unspoken "oh btw... SI not available in Cat Form anymore" looming, but we shall see.

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New Cataclysm Build (13221)

Nine days without a post is too long, I know. There are a number of mitigating factors that keep me from posting on a day to day basis. I could discuss how I have been working 9-10 hours days for a few weeks now trying to get stuff done, or how I have not really been sleeping at night, or how WoW is not really a fun game at the moment (mostly due to the lack of any real PvP), or how I spend what little time I have working on my WoW video (that I promised a few weeks ago... sigh). None of that stuff really matters... I'm going to post more often.

This latest build was largely a balance pass with some updates to long withstanding PvP imbalances. For instance, Blood Elves no longer have a racial that gives them a percent chance to be missed by spells and instead are given some arcane resist instead. I know it's a small point to make, but when you NEED that Cyclone to land on that BElf Rogue or he will kill Guntir, and at the hit cap your Cyclone "misses," it is the kind of feeling I believe murders get right before they snap.

Cold coffee...

The big-ticket items in this patch are largely being ignored on the Beta boards, which I find odd. I was using a pal's WoW account to post on the Druid Live boards, but his account got hacked and he had his password changed, so I am back to square-banned for the moment. That being said, I have not been back to the Live boards in a few weeks now, so I do not know how they are taking this latest balance.

All MS-effects are reduced to 10% effect.

It has been a long time coming, but the day is finally here where we might see some actual balance amongst the classes who do and do not bring the MS-effect. Warrior damage is really high at the moment, and Hunters have always had rather high damage. Rogues are going to be middle-of-the-pack damage in PvP and should be tops in PvE. I guess Blizz finally looked at the numbers and said "well, the only way we will be able to balance damage in PvE without giving the MS-wielding specs an unfair advantage in PvP is to reduce the effect of healing reductions."

Kudos Blizz, kudos!

I bring sad news as well: Brutal Impact has been reduced from 30% increased mana cost to 10% increased mana cost. I know it is a small nit to pick, but was this debuff really so powerful? At the end of the day, MS-effects scaled against healing done, which of course means that MS-effects scale in general. 10% of a small heal is useful, and when that healer gets more spell power and heals for more, 10% of that is more. However, no healer will be concerned with their mana costs after a certain point. Damage, healing, and mana regeneration will scale, but mana costs will remain static, so that 10% increased cost will be the same number in four tiers of gear.

Stampede now reduces the cost of Feral Charge (Cat) by 100%, so it becomes an even better cooldown (which I suggest Glyphing to 28 seconds).

I still do not know exactly how to feel about Tiger's Fury. At the moment, it is our best dps cooldown by a huge margin: it gives us 60 energy (with KotJ) and it increases our damage done by 15% for 6 seconds. The problem I keep running into is that it feels like you want to use it with Rip and Rake every time it is up, but that makes the rotation rather unwieldy when we must have bleeds up for Shred to deal full damage. Our opener is a little odd, but it makes sense if you use Feral Charge before Pounce for a quick nigh-guaranteed 3 combo points for 50 energy, then a Mangle for 35 energy, and those 2 GCDs will have gained us at least 20 more energy for a 45 energy total allowing a Shred to follow the Mangle with no waiting. Essentially, unless you have the worst luck in the world, this opener will guarantee you 5 combo points and allow you to use Tiger's Fury for Rip and Rake at 15% bonus damage. There, you used both your ~30s CDs in your opener and got off three bleeds, the more-powerful two at 15% bonus damage, a Mangle, a Shred, a Ravage, all within two seconds of your opening stun wearing off. It is not much to say, but in practice this opener will get you wins against most classes 1v1 simply because you have put out 160 energy worth of damage before the opponent could move again.

Soothe was changed to have a cast time, which is interesting because I do not think most people understood that it removes all Enrage effects on a target. While most players in PvP will only have one (I think), it may come up in PvE that bosses or mobs will have more than one or a stack of many.

Ultimately, the only real changes right now are so ground-breaking that I cannot really comment on their impact. MS-effects being nerfed to 10% is HUGE from a balance perspective, but it just means that those classes will likely get more damage to compensate for it... or those classes already deal too much damage and will be largely ignored. It is very hard to tell, and we are supposedly a month and a half away from release.

... I miss doing arenas ...

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Feral Buffs! (Maths)

Blizzard released the updated mathematics behind the Feral buffs, and while MMO-Champion is operating under the assumption that these are "temporary 4.0 buffs which will be reverted at 85 in Cataclysm," they are probably more likely permanent buffs for Ferals. MAYBE other classes will have their numbers toned back, but Ferals needed the buffs at 85, so it is likely that our numbers will stick.

* Rip now scales from 18/37/55/74/92% of Attack Power depending on combo points, up from 8/16/24/32/40%.
* Ferocious Bite now scales from 10.9/21.8/32.7/43.6/54.5% of Attack Power depending on combo points, up from 7/14/21/28/35%.
* Rake now causes scales from 2% of Attack Power for bleed damage, up from 1%. Now scales from 42% of AP for additional bleed damage over 9 sec, up from 18% of AP.
* Mangle additional damage has been increased from 726 to 1136.
* Vengeance - Entering Cat Form will cancel this effect.

So, before the latest updates, let's look at the tooltip calculations for each of the updated abilities:

Rip (just looking at 5pt) - (501 + 0.40 * AP) damage over 16 seconds.
Ferocious Bite - (1570 + 0.35 * AP) - (1710 + 0.35 * AP) damage.
Rake - (361 + AP * 0.18) damage over 9 seconds.

So, let's say that after the Feral Attack Power removal we had something like 5k attack power (for easier maths). Then we would have the following:

Rip: ~2500 damage over 16 seconds (~313 damage per tick).
Ferocious Bite: ~3350 damage.
Rake: 1261 damage over 9 seconds (~400 damage per tick).

You can see why Ferals complained... our finishing bleed was doing less than Claw. Let's look at the new maths:

Rip (just looking at 5pt) - (501 + 0.92 * AP) damage over 16 seconds.
Ferocious Bite - (1570 + 0.545 * AP) - (1710 + 0.545 * AP) damage.
Rake - (361 + AP * 0.42) damage over 9 seconds.

With the same 5000 attack power, we would see damage like the following:

Rip: 5101 damage over 16 seconds (~638 damage per tick).
Ferocious Bite: ~4325 damage.
Rake: 2461 damage over 9 seconds (~820 damage per tick).

So there ya go... they roughly doubled our bleed damage. Keep in mind, also, that I haven't calculated in Mangle (30%), Mastery (~45% in my gear), talents (2 more ticks on Rake), or glyphs (15% more Rip damage), so these numbers are designed to look low.

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Feral Buffs!

In case you missed it, GC decided to hot-buff Ferals (along with other sub-performing specs) yesterday. Unfortunately for me, I did not know this until today when I got to work and did not play yesterday.

I WILL, however, play today and see how it feels. It is, as always, hard to tell just how much damage I am able to do because I have to rely on battleground data which can be seemingly random. Also, I will see if I cannot work out the coefficients to get a better understanding of how much of a buff, quantitatively, we received.


I played a bunch of Battlegrounds on Live with Guntir last night, took a bunch of screenshots... and forgot to put them in my Dropbox. DOH! Anyway, the damage buff Ferals got is borderline-overpowered. I felt like a DK before in terms of control elements and survivability; I could peel for Guntir all day and also tank damage when needed. Now, however, I feel like some sort of crazy DK/Warlock hybrid, with the same survivability and control, but also with horribly powerful DoT damage.

I reforged all my crit into Mastery, just to get a feel. I went and watched some of my PvP videos because I wanted to see how my bleeds compared, and I found watching the Affliction+Disc video was the best illustration of what I mean when I say "crazy damage." My Rip was ticking for ~1.8k and critically-ticking for 3.5k and going as high as 4.0k. Keep in mind that we still had talents which made our critical strike damage higher which is why no one will bother me about "1.8 times 2 isn't 4.0." Anyway, with 14.25 Mastery and 45% crit, my Rip is hitting for 3.5-4k (depending on resil) and critting as high as 8k. This is a DoT which ticks every 2 seconds... and it's critting for 8k. Rake is doing near-comparable damage with 3-3.5k ticks and 6-7k crit-ticks. All told, I can drop a FCC-Ravage crit for around 10k at the same time Rip and Rake both critically-tick for a total of around 20k damage in a GCD. I know this is nothing new for Casters, but for a melee, it feels amazing.

In addition to our rather strong damage (though Warriors, Mages, Warlocks, Boomkins, etc are all doing more, so hopefully we continue flying below the radar), our control is nigh-unmatched. Skull Bash is exactly as amazing I said it would be... there is no "lag" with it like Mind Freeze for DKs, and it has some range. There is a guy in the Beta forums who disagrees with me on whether it is actually a "ranged" attack or just a "little bit more than melee" range. Either way, I had this scenario last night:

I had Rip/Rake/Mangle on a Disc Priest at around 20% hp. He was getting heals non-stop from a well-geared Resto Shammy, but I felt I could win this fight. So, I interrupted a big-heal that the Shammy was about to bomb into the priest with Skull Bash (just a focus-macro... it was awesome) then Feral Charge (Cat) back onto the Priest, crit him with Ravage for around 7k (he had lots of resil and inner fire) for five combo points. I then hit the Priest with a 5pt Maim (which actually LASTS 5 seconds against EVERY CLASS AND SPEC now... it's so nice), and used the instant-cast Cyclone on the Shammy RIGHT at the 5-second mark of Skull Bash (which means that he was ABOUT to cast again... but I Cycloned him). The Priest died to Bleed damage and auto-attacks (which hit REALLY hard now), and as soon as the Shammy got out of the Cyclone, I swapped to him... and without a second dedicated healer, he went down after a bit. This scenario right here illustrates just how AMAZING Ferals will be in Cataclysm PvP. We have TONS of control via Skull Bash, Cyclone, Entangling Roots, Maim, Feral Charge (Bear), and Bash, and while some of our abilities require Bear Form... Bear isn't a liability in PvP anymore.

I kept putting in some instances where I would go Bear Form just to see the survivability with Guntir plowing heals into me. Let me just say this... all PvP builds will be taking Natural Reaction for the 12% damage reduction in Bear Form, and I have the Glyph of Frenzied Regen, which turns it from a mediocre 3min cooldown into an AMAZING 3min cd. It makes it not convert Rage->Energy, and instead gives you 30% bonus healing received for the duration. I used this mainly when I was getting trained by 3-4 melees and Guntir needed a minute to top me off again; so good! Bear Form has some marked survivability over Cat Form, BUT Cat Form does not feel squishier because of it... Cat Form basically feels as strong as it did before (maybe a little stronger with regard to survivability, even though we lost 30% damage reduction while stunned)... it's just that Bear Form has REALLY good damage reduction now, and they can't keep you there.

The problem with going Bear Form prior to 4.0 was that you would get into a decent D-stance (Bear Form), but you did not have anything to get OUT of Bear Form. Your damage was low, your survivability was only a LITTLE bit stronger than Cat's, and your utility was non-existent. NOW, however, our survivability in Bear Form is stronger than Cat's hand over fist, our damage ramps up as long as people are attacking us (and keep in mind, if they train you 100%, you'd be better off going Bear Form and LETTING them deal damage to you because eventually you will have two to three times as much attack power as normal and then drop more damage than they do while in Bear Form (I had a DK and a Warrior training me in Bear Form while Guntir just healed me through it and I ended up killing a Disc Priest in Bear Form just because Mangle/Maul was critting for 10k a piece with full Vengeance... we NEED this to fly under the radar and stay in PvP for Bear Form's sake). On top of your survivability and damage, as well as the bait of forcing players to swap off of you when you go Bear BECAUSE of your potential damage, you have great utility as well in Skull Bash, Feral Charge, Demoralizing Roar (-10% physical damage is awesome), Faerie Fire, and Bash.

Yes, all things considered... Feral is in a really strong place right now. We just need a few things to continue flying below the radar of the devs and we will be alright come Cataclysm.

Oh, I cannot really mention Skull Bash + Brutal Impact at the moment, since basically all healers have infinite mana on Live... but I am getting healers to 50% with it whereas Mortal Strike cannot DENT healer's mana pools.

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While we wait for 4.0 to go live and the servers to come back online, please enjoy a writeup concerning PvP Healing in Cataclysm care of my brother.

By Guntir

Our good friend Rey has asked me to write a few words on my opinion of the state of priest healing in PvP at level 85 in Cataclysm. In obliging, I wrote him this book. Since I've yet to receive my own beta invite, we're currently incapable of testing arenas together, so the experiences I'm about to bestow upon you all are based solely from battlegrounds (by which I mean Warsong Gulch, which is the only battleground currently available [via "Random Battleground"]).

Healers specifically received a major overhaul in regards to their mechanics. Whereas the healing styles of each of the healing specs are completely different on live, in Cataclysm they are being homogenized into sharing three main types of heals that are to represent the majority of their healing done. The features that once defined each healing spec are now relegated to supplemental healing. While there is by design a large degree of sameness between healers now, they still manage to feel different and ultimately I feel those differences will put to rest the fears a lot of players have had that healing will be completely uniform across all specs.

The three staple heals in Cataclysm will comprise of a fast, inefficient heal and two slow heals: one of high efficiency and moderate throughput and one of high healing and moderate efficiency. For priests, these roles are filled by Flash Heal, Heal, and Greater Heal, respectively. The intention was that healers would mostly be using Heal to maintain their limited mana pools, switching to Greater Heal when they started falling behind, and only using Flash Heal if they fell dangerously behind in healing. I hear that in PvE this is more or less what is being done.

Unfortunately, this healing model seems to fall short in the PvP front. I started with the full intention of utilizing Heal for as much healing as I could and falling back to less efficient heals only when necessary. Quite simply, this doesn't work. What I quickly discovered was that Heal is simply incapable of providing enough throughput to deal with the damage of anything I encountered. Its throughput is so bad that I struggled to outheal Warlock DoTs with it long after the fighting had ended.

Once I came to terms with the fact that Heal is impractical at best in PvP, I respec'd away from it and began using Greater Heal as my go-to heal of choice. It provided strong throughput while maintaining good efficiency. However, when it comes to raw throughput Flash Heal is unmatched. Its throughput is significantly higher than Greater Heal, and Greater Heal is one of the few spells that can even pretend to be competitive with it. As Discipline, Penance edges out Greater Heal in throughput and even it is blown away by the throughput of Flash Heal. If you're Holy nothing comes close. Simply put, if you need throughput then spam Flash Heal.

Speaking of throughput and efficiency, I crunched the numbers and found some interesting results. For starters, Greater Heal is only marginally worse HPM (healing per mana, my efficiency metric) than Heal, while Flash Heal is significantly worse HPM than Greater Heal. So while we're talking less than a 10% difference in HPM between Heal and Greater Heal, Heal only provides around 35% of the throughput Greater Heal can provide. To compare, Greater Heal provides about 85% of the HPS (healing per second) of Flash Heal, but the HPM of Flash Heal is somewhere around 70% of Greater Heal.

The second interesting result is that Prayer of Mending is no longer so great that you should freely cast it even when you know only one person will get healed from it. In fact, even as Holy a Power Word: Shield is better in both throughput and efficiency than a Prayer of Mending that only heals one person. Moral of the story: if Prayer of Mending isn't going to bounce don't cast it. This is especially interesting considering our new PvP four-piece bonus reduces its cooldown. Also, strictly speaking if Binding Heal doesn't overheal then it is a Priest's highest throughput spell with an efficiency between Flash Heal and Greater Heal. This of course assumes both you and your target are missing health; its single-target throughput is a bit more than twice of Heal's.

Of course with the expansion comes new abilities, and unfortunately the new Priest spells are a bit lacking in the game-changing department. We get a new nuke that's sure to be of great utility to Shadow Priests, but as a healer it will probably be used as interrupt-bait if it even makes it on our bars. Next up is Inner Will; Inner Will and Inner Fire are basically your two stances as a Priest in Cataclysm. Inner Fire continues to provide spell power and a substantial armor buff, while Inner Will reduces the cost of your instant cast spells by 10% and gives a small run-speed buff. It's best to treat it as a poor man's travel form, as actually healing with it costs you a decent amount of spell power and instants in general aren't nearly as useful now. Still, both Inner Will and Inner Fire are free of cost, so the best priests will undoubtedly learn to swap between them as needed.

The last of our new spells is Leap of Faith, which most players are calling "Lifegrip" but I'm personally calling "Brogrip" (to grip your bro, you see). It's hard to judge this ability based on solo-queueing random BGs as things are so hectic and uncoordinated it's very challenging to know when is the most appropriate time to use it. That said, I see this as being a significant ability in the arenas as positioning is incredibly important there. It'll allow your teammates to overextend to draw out one or more important cooldowns, only to pull them back into safety. It'll allow you to stop burst opportunities, as well as pull a teammate closer to a target that's getting peels. The possibilities are nearly endless.

Next I'd like to talk about stats. A problem in WotLK was the fact that haste was simply a better stat than all the others. This problem lives on in Cataclysm; in fact, for priests it very well might be worse. For both Holy and Discipline, 1 point of haste rating is worth more than 1 point of critical strike rating or mastery rating in terms of increased throughput. Of course this added throughput comes at the cost of efficiency, but there lies the problem: in Cataclysm you can control your efficiency by your spell choice.

Think about it just in terms of Greater Heal versus Flash Heal. Flash Heal has the higher throughput, but Greater Heal has the higher efficiency. If I stack haste my efficiency remains roughly the same (I cast more often, but my throughput increases at the same rate), but I'll be able to cast Greater Heal more because my throughput is higher. Contrast this with stacking critical strike. With crit my efficiency goes up (on average I heal more per cast at the same cost), but since my throughput doesn't increase as much I'm forced to cast Flash Heal more and lose my bonus efficiency. Also remember that the throughput difference between Greater and Flash Heal is significantly smaller than the difference in efficiency. This fact is significant because it means you can lose a ton of efficiency and still come out ahead so long as you end up with a higher throughput. This naturally brings us right back to haste as our dominant stat.

I'll talk stats more when I talk about Discipline and Holy separately, but I just wanted to touch upon the new PvP sets briefly. The mainset pieces are going to be a little different this time around. Specifically, they won't strictly be spirit or critical strike rating, but rather a spread of stats. This gives us more freedom to stack stats (specifically, find the optimal four-piece healing, one-piece DPS set-up for the best stat spread), but it also leaves us free to shoot ourselves in the foot by ignoring spirit. It's hard to evaluate spirit as its returns are partially based on your intellect, but I'm currently of the opinion that you should stack spirit everywhere you can't stack more haste. This is mostly based on intuition, however, so expect to juggle stats around when it comes time to make these kinds of choices. Spirit could very well end up superfluous or it could just as easily end up as the best stat. We'll have to wait and see.

Finally, I'd like to take some time to discuss the two separate healing specs individually. I play Discipline on live, so naturally I tried Discipline first on the beta. A few key differences include the new talents Evangelism, Archangel, and Atonement. These talents allow you to use Smite as a heal and then turn those Smite casts into mana and a temporary healing buff. The heal provided from Atonement isn't very big (although it'll give higher throughput than casting Heal), the range is small enough that it'll only work if the person you're trying to heal is either a melee or being attacked by a melee, it only heals 1 person (according to the tooltip, however currently it heals everyone in range), and if it heals you it only does half (again, according to the tooltip but currently not the case), so don't expect to be getting too many Smites off in PvP. Another interesting facet of Smite healing friendlies is that the heal crits when Smite crits, and the crit heal will proc Divine Aegis. It's not much to talk about, although I did get a kick out of having a Smite crit result in 3 party members being healed for 10k on top of having a 3.6k shield proc on all of them.

Evangelism helps the Smite spamming by increasing the damage and reducing the mana cost of Smite, as well as a few other spells, each time you successfully Smite. Mostly you'll just be using Smite to stack up Evangelism to get the most out of Archangel, however it's worth noting that Evangelism affects Penance. This is interesting for two reasons: firstly, offensive Penance does a lot of damage; secondly, the mana reduction takes effect even when you use it to heal. Penance currently provides higher throughput than Greater Heal (although less healing per cast) at a level of HPM that makes Heal look like a sad joke. The prospect of being able to reduce Penance's mana cost even further seems simply ridiculous.

These stacks of Evangelism can then be converted into mana and a temporary healing buff through Archangel. The mana returns are currently higher than they're supposed to be, but otherwise the ability works just like one would imagine. In practice I had trouble getting over three stacks of Evangelism (it stacks to five), so expect these talents to be an added bonus instead of a cornerstone of the build. In arena, I expect you'll see Discipline priests trying to sneak in Smites when possible, and popping Archangel at 1-3 stacks when Evangelism is about to fall off.

An old ability with a new twist for Discipline is Inner Focus. It's basically still the same "free cast with 25% more crit" cooldown, but now it only works for Flash Heal, Greater Heal, and Prayer of Healing. The major difference, however, is it now has a 45 second cooldown and a new talent that reduces this cooldown by five seconds every time you cast Greater Heal. Those last two facts mean that Inner Focus is going to be up quite a bit, and priests will have to adjust to the new playstyle of pretty much using it on cooldown.

Power Word: Shield got nerfed, but with Rapture it's still a spell you'll want to cast. It won't beat out Greater Heal in throughput, but it'll beat it out in efficiency. Plus it circumvents healing absorption and mortal strike effects, which is very handy. Mastery will boost PW:S, Divine Aegis, and Power Word: Barrier pretty quickly, but overall critical strike rating is a better stat, and you probably won't have the luxury of gearing for either in PvP anyway.

Power Word: Barrier is the new end-talent for priests. You may remember that we were promised it halfway through WotLK; better late than never I suppose. It's a powerful cooldown and has the added bonus of being somewhat switch-proof in that your opponents may not be able to simply switch targets when you use it. In addition, it comes with a glyph that increases healing received by anyone standing in it. Overall, it'll help ensure Priests are viable in the arena by giving them a second strong defensive cooldown.

Finally, I'd like to talk about Holy Priests. I'd like to start this by saying that while mana wasn't a big issue playing as Discipline (even when I wasn't abusing Archangel), as Holy mana was a big concern. Granted, I turned every stat point I could into haste, but the lack of Inner Focus, Rapture, and Penance really made maintaining a healthy mana pool difficult. Not impossible, but definitely more difficult. This wasn't quite what I was expecting, as I assumed Holy's extra 20% in-combat mana regen would be very difficult for Discipline to overcome.

Holy has some strange mechanics that I should talk about before delving too deep into the various abilities. For one, their mastery bonus, Echo of Light, applies a HoT on your target whenever you cast a single-target heal. What's important to note is that multiple casts result in the HoT rolling up the remaining healing with the new HoT, resulting in no wasted healing. This means that for Holy, mastery is most likely more throughput than crit. It's still worse than haste, but if stacking haste is simply impractical then mastery would most likely be the next consideration.

Another mechanic that didn't work quite like I expected was Holy's new spell: Holy Word: Chastise. Specifically, how this spell worked with Revelations, which changes Chastise when you are in a Chakra state. As it turns out, entering a Chakra state with Revelations causes Chastise's cooldown to reset. This means you can use Chastise for the incapacitate, then pop Chakra and Renew to enter the Chakra state, and immediately follow that with Chastise on a friendly for an extra HoT. You end up locked out of using Chastise offensively for the duration of Chakra, but at least you got both uses of Chastise from it.

Speaking of Chakra, for PvP it's a pretty lackluster talent. I ended up using it pretty much exclusively for the renew state just because it was the only useful one. If they add a Greater Heal Chakra state then I'll like this talent. The frustrating thing is that despite it being a lackluster talent you still need to Chakra on cooldown because Holy's toolset is so small. Without a buffed Renew and the extra HoT I struggle to keep up with damage.

Lightwell remains the wildcard of the spec. If no one makes use of it it's a waste, but if you and your allies make good use of it then it is pretty amazing. It heals an absolute ton, you can grab it from further away now, and it can't be selected anymore. Its glyph gives extra charges instead of extra healing now, so it'll last the whole duration/cooldown if you limit yourself to about one charge per twelve seconds. If Holy ends up having a place in arenas, Lightwell will be a big reason why.

Guardian Spirit is the same save for the glyph change. Now instead of setting the cooldown to one minute if the cheat death effect doesn't proc it merely reduces the cooldown by thirty seconds regardless. I see this as a nerf, but then again the cheat death proc is going to end up being a 50k heal, so maybe it'll be best to just cast it and let them "die" anyway.

Body and Soul remains with the added bonus of the run speed buff also proccing off of Leap of Faith. This will undoubtedly be a cornerstone of Holy Priest PvP, which is good because another cornerstone of WotLK Holy Priest PvP, Blessed Resilience, is getting nerfed. Granted, in a world where people don't have over 50% crit chance and can't deal half your life in a single cast it's less needed, but the new version is little consolation.

Overall, Discipline seems strong. Admittedly, a small part of that is due to the fact that a number of the talents are bugged in its favor, but I think it'll be a strong contender (maybe even overpowered) even after those are fixed. Holy, I think, has potential, but is held back by a smaller, less useful toolset. It definitely needs something extra.

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BAH, I Say!

There is far too much stuff going on at the moment... and yet there are very few THINGS going on. If that doesn't make sense, try not to focus on it; it has been a long weekend for me. I had my kitchen sink back up for two days, the first of which I spent trying to disassemble and snake, the second of which I spent putting it back to together enough to pour lye down it (which will destroy basically everything in its path). When the lye did not seem to work, I called my landlord and had them get me a plumber... who showed up and ran water down the drain like it was nothing; he snaked it for me professionally anyway since he was there, but it goes to show you: I should never doubt myself, as I am almost always right.

So, my home-life has sort of bitten into my WoW time. I know, you are all waiting to see the Feral PvP Cataclysm video. I know I promised it a week ago, but I keep finding things I want to show off, and the video is getting more and more detailed. I, as you no doubt know, do not like to put out unpolished stuff, so I am taking my sweet time with this one. I DO have a little teaser to get you all excited since (brace yourself) 4.0 will be dropping tomorrow. This is a small clip I uploaded just to show off how powerful Thorns is in PvP for Ferals in Cataclysm at this point:

I did not make this video public, but you can see it here for funsies. I was reading on the forums and someone mentioned that Thorns scaled from Spell Power AND Attack Power in Cata, though it would not work well in practice because Thorns is a spell to be used outside of Cat/Bear and therefore would scale off of terrible attack power in Caster Form for Ferals. I thought that this argument made sense, but I wanted to check it out. I queued up for a random WSG and got in, and hit Thorns against the first target I saw, a lone Warrior... the rest, as they say, is history. I think that I had more like 10-12 Thorns procs during his Retaliation, which makes sense since he swings back at me every time I swing at him, so he ends up hitting me for ~3k (Barkskin was up) a swing while I am reflecting almost 4300 damage from Thorns per hit, all while he is swinging away normally as well. You might also notice that he hit me with a 12k hit in there... he used his cooldown which gives him 15% bonus damage but eats twice as much rage and hit me at 100 rage which also increases damage or something (I think it was overpower... mean). The only saving grace here was that thorns was reliably reflecting ~4300 damage for every swing he landed on me... and his biggest was that 12k hit but the rest were ~3k while I was landing 1.2k white swings and bleed damage.

There are things like this in the Cataclysm expansion which I keep finding and thinking to myself, "That's really cool..." Guntir is excited because as far as he's concerned, Thorns will provide a boon to him as a "get off my healer" deterrent. Against fast attackers, Thorns deals nigh-indecent damage. I am willing to bet that Thorns will be nerfed before the actual release (and it will definitely get a lot of play-time in 4.0 on Live), but if it does not change much for Ferals, then they will have some utility in that, which is nice. Again... I am putting this off until I have enough clips to make a really worth-while video... and things are going to get hectic on Live tomorrow, so it might be a while.

I am still worried about Feral's damage tomorrow. From all my testing on the Beta, it really feels like Feral is still pretty far behind in terms of scalability, and while most dps specs are going to gain damage, the majority of Ferals will lose it, and the BiS Ferals will likely be around the same spot. The real problem here is that it will likely be a month or two before Blizz comes around and actually says "ya, alright... your damage is low," and fixes it. My worry is that the first arena season of Cataclysm will start with Ferals dealing lackluster damage and bringing marginally useful utility. While I feel that the first season is an era where you can make lackluster damage work if you find the right niche, it still poses a problem for 2v2s, which Guntir and I will continue running, of course.

I admit, sometimes in PvP on the Beta I am near the top in terms of damage-done (definitely not in terms of killing blows... we have absolutely ZERO buttons to press which will land a KB... we just have to pressure them down), but other times I will go against a Warlock or a Mage who simply out-shine me. Even Boomkins are putting out significantly more damage than Ferals. Now, I acknowledge that these are battlegrounds on the Beta servers, and they are likely to be the bottom-of-the-barrel PvP players (I keep getting on healers who do nothing but fake-cast until they're at 10% hp, at which point I just stun them and kill them)... and yes, I know that Warlocks and Boomkins will have elevated damage in BGs because they can simply throw their DoTs on multiple targets at a time and Boomkins can pop Starfall in packs every minute and DKs can use Pestilence to spread their diseases to everyone within shouting distance, but I still feel like our damage is low.

Maybe damage is not the best term to use. Our damage is... "OKAY"... but we still have no buttons to kill someone. The only way I have managed to land a kill against a healer on the Beta is to OOM him with a clever use of Skull Bash and persistent damage. Since healer mana will end up mattering in Cataclysm, Skull Bash with 2/2 Brutal Impact is undeniably one of the strongest PvP debuffs in the game. In these situations, we use the same strategies we have always used... get your bleeds up, Shred when you can, and keep your constant damage rolling. In Cataclysm, this is something that healers are adept at dealing with, so you have to make sure and Skull Bash the efficient heals and force them to use an inefficient heal with the Brutal Impact debuff up.

I keep talking about Brutal Impact, but it really is understated without numbers. 80k mana is a LOT of mana, and it is hard to imagine going OOM in that type of environment; however, in Cataclysm the healing scene is very different than Wrath (currently, S5 was more in line with Cataclysm's healing, but even still there is less incentive on burst in Cata) and healers really have to know what they are doing. Healing is going to be the crux of PvP again, and while most DPS can still do their job without having much of a brain, the healers will end up determining who is top-ranked in Cataclysm (which players like Hydra and the like will enjoy immensely).

That being said, Guntir has been working on a write-up for this very blog discussing his impressions with the healer's role in PvP on the Beta (he uses my Beta account with a premade Priest). It will, from what he has told me over lunch yesterday, have some maths, some feelings as to how burst and constant damage output will be, how the PvP scene will be in terms of the efficacy of training a healer versus swapping a lot or training a dps, etc. In this post, he will likely accidentally shine a light on just how powerful a debuff Brutal Impact will be in Cataclysm. His maths show aspects like which heal is the best HPS (heals per second), HPM, burst healing, etc, and in doing so the cost of each will be explored.

In fact, as I am writing this last paragraph he sent me a link to his final draft, so look for this to go up probably sometime later this week (maybe tomorrow or Wednesday depending on how interesting tomorrow's patch is).

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No Video Today

EDIT (2010-10-06):

I don't have the Cataclysm video done yet; there wasn't enough good stuff to include in there yet... but there IS good stuff... just hold strong for another couple days and I will have some good coverage. I will also have a write-up on Guntir's initial findings on PvP healing in Cataclysm as both Holy and Disc (btw: if you are the reader who recognized 'Guntirblues' and said hey, let me know; that was baller!)

I KNOW... I KNOW I KNOW... I didn't post a video last week, and today I say no video!?!?!? Sorry, I had some technical stuff to deal with; most notably was the fact that I was straight up OUT of disc space for recording, so I haven't had anything new. However, yesterday I bought a 2TB disk and external enclosure, so I should have plenty of space set up to record again, and as I wanted to test it out yesterday, I ended up recording a bunch of stuff in WSG on the Cataclysm Beta. Yes, I am working on a little Cataclysm Feral PvP video which I should have edited and what-not by Wednesday (no promise... but that's what I'm hoping).

Here are my initial reactions in PvP on Cataclysm thus far:

1) Destro Locks are STILL dropping trucks on people (got hit with a 14k Chaos Bolt and a 23k Conflag in WSG yesterday)
2) Elementals aren't hitting nearly as hard as Live.
3) Frost Mages have TONS of tools to kite and deal damage, and Icelance does a LOT of damage (4k even when you aren't frozen, 8k when you are).
4) Healers are still powerful, but they have issues with Mana longevity. There were a couple instances where it was a dps+healer combo versus me and a healer in their flag room trying to drop our flag and their healer would oom 30% faster than ours allowing me to kill either one.

----- bit of a separation, let's talk about what I see from Ferals! ------

5) Skull Bash is RIDICULOUSLY responsive. I have read a number of posts on the Cataclysm Beta Boards of people complaining about Skull Bash having lag like Mind Freeze, but when I was in WSG with my 120ms latency, I would hit Skull Bash and it would interrupt the target before I left my spot... and Skull Bash is 400% better as a gap-closer than Feral Charge (Cat) EXCEPT that the distance is rough. Ultimately, if you can snare someone, you can always interrupt a cast of theirs... even if the target is a Resto Shammy who is using his cooldowns to heal on the run. For some reason, they all think that this will make them un-interruptable... but of course Skull Bash is the interrupt SLASH gap-closer... I hope beyond hope that Skull Bash makes it to Live in its current form. It is so crisp and the reaction speed is LIGHTNING fast. My biggest problem so far has been finding a proper button to put it on, but I think I came up with a decent binding this morning in the shower, which I will try out today.

6) Our bleeds scale rather well with Mastery, though I worry that our other damage-dealing abilities will fall behind as a result. I would really like to see Shred's damage increased by ALL abilities which increase Bleed damage - Mastery (Cat Form), for instance.

7) Our burst damage is rather poor, at the moment. We cannot kill anyone in a Cyclone duration with any of our abilities in Cat Form. On the other hand...

8) Our pressure (if played correctly) against Healers is absolutely astounding. I play Feral+Disc and I have played Rogue+Disc when it was overpowered, and let me tell you that I have NEVER felt so powerful when targeting a healer. I do not know if this is due to healers not yet having figured out how their new rotations work or if they have not yet figured out that spamming FoL will OOM them even without a Feral on them, but they cannot handle a good Feral on them. I can chain some serious control on healers, and there have been a few instances where I have forced a healer OOM 1v1 and ended up getting the kill... which is new to me because I am a Feral. I can really see Feral+DK+HolyPriest working really well because of the strong, unmitigatable, damage Unholy DKs and Ferals can put out, coupled with two interrupts, a silence, and Maim for control elements, the anti-healer utility abilities in Skull Bash's debuff and Necrotic Strike, and the fact that we have a ranged 60% snare to peel for Guntir as well as instant-cast Cyclones and Entangling Roots.

I will try and post later in the week with my Cataclysm PvP video!

--------------------- EDIT 1 -----------------------

MMO-Champion has been falling behind on these sorts of things, so I thought I'd bring it up... new Feral glyphs:

Glyph of Feral Charge - Reduces the cooldown of your Feral Charge (Cat) ability by 2 sec and the cooldown of your Feral Charge (Bear) ability by 1 sec.
Glyph of Faerie Fire - Increases the range of your Faerie Fire and Feral Faerie Fire abilities by 10 yds.
Glyph of Tiger's Fury -

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What a Long Strange Journey It Has Been....

Well, Ghostcrawler has all but announced the end of season eight, thus putting the proverbial stake through the heart of Wrath of the Lich King. This expansion was fun for a bit, but nerf after nerf and tons of burst later, we end with the hope that a lesson was learned: you cannot fix class imbalances with more damage. October 12 seems to be the likely date for the end of the final Wrath season of Arena, based on Ghostcrawler's statement. That being said, the fellas over at believe that the 4.0.x patch will be deployed to Live servers at roughly the same time give or take a week... though "giving" would be the more likely of the two since Blizzard is not likely to post a major class rebalancing patch with a week left in determining Arena titles and rewards.

Guntir and I may be eligible for a Duelist title from the 5v5 bracket, interestingly enough, if we can get the team together for a bit of grinding to hit 2300 or so. We are at 2232 right now and only played 10 games last week to grind up that 30 rating, so the idea is that we could probably grind out another week or two and end up with a 2300 or 2350 rating which would net us a Duelist title almost-assuredly.

I found this linked in the Cataclysm Beta Boards:

This is a video of a Holy Paladin with nothing much but blues and greens in BGs. The interesting thing to take from this is that his healing is still really strong even against 3-4 targets with zero coordination but strong damage, but his mana is finite. Why do I keep harping on the finiteness of mana pools for healers in Cataclysm?

Feral has a debuff which makes spells cost 30% more.

We actually bring a debuff in PvP which no other class does and it is directly related to healer longevity. If Arena matches go longer in Cataclysm to the point where "whoever runs out of mana first loses," then Feral will be a MONSTER on a team. Forget Mortal Strike... 25% more healing required? That's nice, but 30% more MANA required??? That's way more important. Let's look at it this way, as healers get better and better gear, they will require roughly the same through-put cast-wise to heal a target with MS up. Maybe this is a little easier to grasp with an example:

Holy Pally heals with Holy Light for 10k in the first tier of gear, a warrior's MS hits for 5k but also puts up a 25% healing debuff, making that pally heal for 7.5k.

Okay... the next tier of gear goes like this:

Holy Pally heals with Holy Light for 12k in the second tier of gear, a warrior's MS hits for 7k, but also puts up a 25% healing debuff, making that pally heal for 9k.

Okay... but the Feral in both circumstances will put out more pressure and instead of making the heal less effective, he will make the COST of the heal less effective. So, the Holy Pally can continue using his best heal and it will continue to improve... but the mana cost will ALWAYS be a ton. If matches with-or-without MS always go to the long game, then the team who spends the least mana AND puts out the most pressure should always win (ignoring CC and what-have-you).

Okay, so Feral brings one of the debuffs which no one else does... the DK brings the other debuff. Necrotic Strike continues looking amazing. It is so strong-looking that you almost think that there will be a DK on every 3v3s team in Cataclysm to start simply because Necrotic Strike is auto-wins against bad healers. TSG is definitely going to be strong in Cata, but I truly feel that Feral+DK+Priest will be equally strong if games go long rather than faceroll-training people to death. TSG will continue to put out good pressure, but if they can't kill Priests in the openers anymore, I don't know how much longevity there is there... particularly if you're going against (what I will call for the time-being) Venture-cleave.

... I need Guntir to get his Beta invite so we can actually test out some PvP IN the Beta. This time last expansion, we both had Beta invites and we were both running 2v2 matches on the Beta server to test out which comp would be best, and we eventually settled on Feral+Disc.

Cannot WAIT for Cataclysm at this point... it's shaping up to be REALLY good PvP.

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New Cataclysm Build (13066)

Lots of stuff to talk about; no video this week (yet... I have a few short clips I might throw together and get up later in the week, but we didn't run 2s this week). I will get a post up as soon as possible, but work is slamming me lately, so it might be a bit later today. The following are the changes for Feral Druids in this build:

Tiger's Fury - now increases physical damage by 88.8% (this seems like a bug... but I will get in game and test this out as soon as possible; it could also mean that it only increases white swing damage, but who knows).
Stampede - Changed to last 10 seconds and allow you to use Ravage for that duration at 50/100% cheaper cost. This means that you can Feral Charge (Cat) and have 10 seconds to land a free Ravage with 2/2 Stampede.
Fury Swipes - Changed to a 5/10/15% chance to cause an additional white-swing attack at 200% weapon damage with a 3 second internal cooldown.
Blessing of the Grove - No longer applies to Shred (that means you no longer have to spend points in this talent).

Okay, these all sound like Feral buffs, right? So, the problem I am seeing now is that my utility-based PvP spec is now much less effective because my damage is going to be balanced around picking up all these damage-oriented talents which are now worth-while. Most notably, Stampede has gone from an obvious waste of two talent points to a non-decision must-take talent. Stampede, particularly, is not as big a problem because it is only two points and we are gaining two more points by not having to take Blessing of the Grove any more; however, we start running into trouble when we notice that Fury Swipes is so appealing in this build and still costs 3 talent points. I have no idea where to get these talent points at the moment; it may cut into my utility talents which will make me sad :-(.

Here is an example build I am looking at roughly for a PvP mold. The only DPS talent I am missing, at the moment, is Master Shapeshifter (yes, some of you will argue that Primal Madness is a DPS talent, but in reality you are mistaken. PM is actually a dps zero-gain at best and a dps-loss in practice... don't take it unless they change it drastically), which really only amounts to 4% more critical strike chance and 20% cheaper shapeshifting costs.

I want to touch on shapeshifting for a moment. A lot of stuff is up in the air and I wanted to settle a few things right now. First, shapeshifting costs without any talents at level 85 are essentially 5% of your base mana (Cat and Bear only, everything else is 8%), which means that at level 85 when talented without Natural Shapeshifter Cat and Bear form cost around 1000 mana while you have around 20k mana in mostly Greens. Second, on Live with 3/3 Natural Shapeshifter, the best you can get your Shapeshifting costs down to is ~12% base mana, and you tend to feel like you have infinite mana for shapeshifting if you have 3/3 NSS on Live while on Beta it costs MUCH less than that at baseline (so you don't need NSS at all). Third, Polymorph does indeed "work" on Druids now; if you are in Caster Form and get hit with a Polymorph, you will be stuck in that Polymorph for its full duration or until it gets dispelled or is broken from damage, but if you are in a Feral Form (Cat or Bear etc), Polymorph will still get "immune"d when cast on you (Resto nerf, doesn't really affect Ferals or Boomers). Okay, now that we have cleared the air about Natural Shapeshifter, you can see why no one but PvE-spec'd Ferals would ever consider going after Master Shapeshifter at the moment. Sure, things may change and I think we are ALL hoping that Natural Shapeshifter goes away entirely, but I worry that Blizzard WANTS Feral PvP'ers to take Natural Shapeshifter, so they might up the costs... but I'm hoping not.

Okay, so we still have a PvP build which takes some utility talents and brings the hard-core damage-dealing (minus 4% crit). Let's talk a little bit about gearing choices! On my level 85 druid, I have basically 22% crit without wearing much critical strike rating gear (in fact, the crit rating I did have on my gear was largely reforged into haste for testing purposes) in greens with a blue or two. I believe that in season nine gear (the first tier of PvP gear in Cataclysm), we will be able to get roughly 30% Critical Strike change without gemming or gearing Critical Strike rating. This means that we can focus all our item points (or as much as possible) on Haste and Mastery. Largely, Haste is where I am leaning my gear points towards simply for the increased energy regeneration rate. I am aiming for something around 33% Haste with 30% crit and hopefully ~20% Mastery damage for my bleeds. The goal would mean rather strong bleeds, but much strong damage output from yellow attacks like Shred and FB.

I do worry that Primal Madness will be changed in the next couple patches to make it a "mandatory" dps talent, or at the very least a dps upgrade in all cases. I am just unsure where I would get the additional two talent points. Ultimately, I am willing to part ways with Endless Carnage in the scenario where Primal Madness becomes awesome; having 6 fewer seconds on Rake does not feel like the end of the world, particularly if I have some staying power with my other dps abilities and the utility I get from Natural Reaction.

Let's talk PvP for a moment. Guntir and I have been thinking about potential PvP comps in Cata and area seriously considering Feral+Unholy+Priest. The idea behind this comp is simple: in PvP, it feels like mana will actually matter and 3s matches can go to the long game; therefore, we would want a comp which can put out strong pressure while also causing havoc against a healer's mana pool. Ferals, obviously, fulfill this role by bringing Skull Bash and 2/2 Brutal Impact. 30% additional cost on heals feels pretty strong in this new PvP model. The DK brings Necrotic Strike regardless of the spec he is, which means that we can chain control on a healer like this: Mind Freeze interrupt (4 sec), Skull Bash interrupt (5 sec), Necrotic Strike in there while we deal damage; now the healer is behind on healing having been locked out for around 9 seconds of non-casting and in the hole for healing because of Necrotic Strike, he has 30% slower casting until he gets out of that hole as well as 30% additional cost on healing basically all the time because of Skull Bash. I feel like Unholy will be the better of the two dps specs for DKs because of the utility gotten from the Unholy tree, but having Hungering Cold wouldn't be too bad either as keeping a dps off of Guntir for a bit would be huge.

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New Cataclysm Build (12984)!


Srsly, they have given many other classes their number updates by now, the PTR is up and in full swing, and the background downloader is shoveling content to everyone as we speak; when are Feral numbers going to be updated for the lack of a 30% damage bonus (SR) and 50% Attack Power in Feral Forms (Feral Attack Power was removed in favor of weapon damage going directly to form-weapon-damage; if you have a 500 dps weapon equipped, you will gain 500 dps in Cat Form). The weapon damage conversion is complete, I copied Rey over to the PTR just to test the numbers and if you hit a dummy with Shred/Mangle on Live, then do it on the PTR, you will see basically a 30% damage drop due to SR no longer applying to all damage done.

Bah... they will get to it eventually, but it irks me that when Ferals specifically asked for number tweaks, the response was one of "we're just trying to get the rotations right at the moment; we'll get to numbers later." Then the last patch goes through and every single dps class EXCEPT Feral has got numbers tweaked to make them deal better/worse/balanced dps more-or-less and Ferals are sitting around going "uh, hey... we asked for the numbers in the first place... why are we getting ignored when we have the most glaring issues with numbers at the moment!?"

Here is my hope: they ignore the SR change and write it off as the "Feral Slice and Dice." It is something you will need up 100% in PvE to maximize your damage output, but in PvP it isn't really enough of a damage boost given the utility you would lose. On Live, SR simply gives us 30% more damage... if we did 1M damage in an Arena Match without SR, we would have done 1.33M if we had it up (ignoring that we would probably lose damage from some FBs/Rips became SRs, but w/e).

Rake on Live:
Rake the target for AP/100+196 bleed damage and an additional (1197 + AP * 0.18) bleed damage over 9 sec. Awards 1 combo point.

Proposed Rake in Cata:
Rake the target for AP/35+255 bleed damage and an additional (1556 + AP * 0.51) bleed damage over 9 sec. Awards 1 combo point.

The ONLY thing I've done here (and I would do the same with Rip, but one example is probably enough) is update the coefficients by an amount equal to 1) our lost Attack Power scaling component from FAP, and 2) our lost 30% damage from SR.

Examples... we will ignore Mangle for simpler maths -

Live (10k AP) Rake: 462 instant + 3896 DoT
Beta (5k AP) Rake: 246 + 2097 (this is about half the damage... terrible)
Proposed Beta (5k AP) Rake: 398 + 4106 (there we go!)

Similar damage to Live, half the attack power and no SR. Now, Rip and Rake would be balanced around Cata's "Feral rotation" and we could get SR to make White damage a more meaningful part of the rotation in general. Everyone is happy!


Let's transition a bit!

You may have noticed... I finally got my Arena Master achievement and title, and after many grueling months, I finally got my 277 Feral Greatstaff (and I have the points for the Boomkin MH tomorrow)!!!!

I promised an Affliction+Disc match... and so shall it be. No commentary, I was rather busy this week, but I hope you all like it:

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Let's Talk Maths!

I know I know... I'm the only one who gets giddy about maths. They finally got my Level 85 Troll Druid Premade created and in a playable state, so I wanted to see what the coefficients were going to be:

1) 2576 Agility, 170 Str = 7730 attack power in Cat Form. This illustrates exactly what Blizzard said about Agility being a 2:1 AP conversion, sweet!

2) That 7730 AP gives 552 dps to the paper doll as expected; nothing changed there.

3) 1015 haste rating gives 7.93% haste. This means roughly 128 haste rating = 1% haste.

4) 539 hit rating gives 4.49% hit. This is roughly 120 hit rating for 1% hit.

5) 22.32% crit, but only 343 crit rating, which gives 1.91% crit. Crit is basically 180 rating per 1%. This also shows that 20.41% of my crit comes from agility alone, which gives us a ratio of 126:1 as agility:crit.

6) 1583 Mastery Rating gives 8.83 mastery "points". This gives roughly 179 rating per point of increase.

Okay, these numbers are all big and scary. However, you need not worry... keep in mind how ridiculous things are in Cataclysm. Item levels are being increased hugely to make up for the difference of there only being a five level gain for this expansion. Similarly, enchants, gems, etc are all having their item levels boosted as well. Keep in mind, also, that my premade character has only greens and one blue, so we expect that all the item levels will be improved towards end-game gear.

Okay, time for the bad news... it looks as if Blizzard is content with the scaling aspect of Haste for melees being confined to faster attack speeds and quicker resource replenishment. Therefore, Haste will only increase our white swing speed and our rate of energy regeneration. Therefore, I do not know which stat will be the outright winner in terms of best damage-dealing stat. It is actually pretty interesting.

Currently, Mastery looks to be in the lead even though its ratio is a lot steeper than Haste, given that it increases bleed damage by a ratio at 2.5% extra damage per 1 Mastery rating (you you have 8 Mastery Rating baseline at 85 giving you a flat 20% bonus to Rip and Rake baseline). You can really boil it down to 179 Mastery Rating is worth 2.5% more damage to Rip and 2.5% more damage to Rake. This is actually a REALLY strong stat at the moment given that Critical Strike Rating (for example) gives you roughly 1% damage boost (against zero-resil targets) for 126 crit rating. Additionally, the agility:crit ratio seems to be holding strong given that I have ALMOST half the critical strike percent on Beta that I have on Live, but I am in greens on Beta and in BiS on Live.

Haste may end up still being favorable, however, as regenerating energy more quickly and a strong increase to white damage output will mean a strong stat all around. It will scale in more directions than Mastery, if nothing else; however, Haste will ultimately be affected by damage reduction via armor while Mastery will not. Similarly, we can see that Mastery Rating will end up playing a little stronger since on Live your bleeds amount to roughly 30% of your overall damage, but this is in a setup where Armor Penetration has ruled the game; once ArP is gone, every damage-dealing attack we have will go down except for Rip and Rake. By simple proportions our bleeds will become more than 30% of our overall damage.

The numbers are, of course, completely unfinished and I certainly expect to see some tweaking (hopefully more sooner than later), but this gives us a really rough estimation as to the direction of Ferals in Cataclysm:

1) Agility will still provide a strong critical strike percentage.
2) Critical strike chance will NOT be diminished by Resilience (awesome).
3) Haste will increase energy-regeneration rates which will lead to more attacks per minute (awesome).
4) Mastery will make our bleeds tick stronger and stronger.
5) We have a 60% damage reduction cooldown which we can use while in Cat Form and keep offensive pressure rolling (cannot be dispelled).
6) Barkskin cannot be dispelled anymore.
7) Infected Wounds cannot be auto-dispelled anymore (horray targeting shammies).
8) Skull Bash is a 10s cd charge which also interrupts casting for 5 seconds AND applies a 10 second physical (non-dispellable) debuff which increases casting costs by 30% with 2/2 Brutal Impact.
9) Even though MS-effects were nerfed to 25% across the boards, we STILL receive 20% bonus healing in Cat Form.
10) Vengeance makes Bear Form a REAL threat if you train it to the point where Vengeance stacks pretty high. Remember, it maxes out at 10% of your HP as Attack Power.

Oh btw... in greens at level 85, I have ~77k hp... so that'll be nice too. That's 7.7k attack power with a full Vengeance stack btw... and I only have around 4k AP in Bear Form naturally, which is where our damage is balanced around currently. Can't wait to test out some damage later on the Beta.

Hopefully, I'll be able to get in some PvP, too!

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Is It Monday Again!?

We ended up going down to the Jungle Clean-up this weekend and basically partying like our last day on the planet, so I didn't really have a chance to do a really good video with commentary. However, I am trying to be somewhat more resourceful with my time AND I'm trying to stick to my promises a little better (spoken or otherwise). Therefore, I give you the following video: a quick and dirty match I threw together for funsies involving a DK with a Shadowmourne thinking that his amazing weapon would propel him to PvP greatness even though he's not that great.

I know I did Bad Religion last week; I need to get all my CDs together for an iTunes import this week sometime >_<. Oh yeah, and sorry if Dethklok isn't your thing... it just sank up too well and I really like that song. Oh yeah, I know I promised an Affliction+Disc match this week, but as I said above - we were a little hard-pressed for time this weekend. Plus, this last week Guntir and I ended up playing against the same Afflic+Disc team we had on RoV, and truth be told, this match was better-looking with some more interesting play worth commenting on.

Also, and I haven't quite figured this out just yet, but there seems to be some limited support for a commentary audio layer which can be uploaded separately, but associated with the same video. So, I should be able to get the video uploaded with two tracks, essentially: one is the soundtrack and nothing else, and the other would be the soundtrack played at ~20% or so with a commentary layer over the top. Then, I can put a button on the YouTube player indicating that there are two channels and a user could click on/off the commentary without having to reload to video. It's something I'm exploring at the moment, but I haven't ruled out "just upload two videos, one with and one without commentary."

Another problem I'm running into is that each of these matches are about a gigabyte in size (and every time I read that I say it in Doc Brown's voice and pronounce it "jiggabyte"). Not huge, but when you have 30-40 of these matches stored up, you start running out of space. It kind of bothered me because we played against a 2400 Rogue+Disc team on Lordaeron and won, but about 10 seconds into the match it ran out of disc space and stopped recording. So, I need to go and get an external HDD enclosure in which to house my old 250GB HDD (back from when I replaced my boot HDD with my SSD). I can wipe that and use it as my video sandbox until I need more space, upon which time I will just bite the bullet and buy a terrabyte drive.

Sometime later this week, I am going to make an effort to get out a HUGE post concerning all the changes I am looking forward to come Cataclysm for PvP and PvE alike. They will include things like "We're finally getting a Kick" and "No one has reduced duration on getting stunned or damage reduction while stunned" etc. Mostly, these things are all balancing issues which are being plucked up and removed from the select classes who have them, but all things considered, Feral is losing very little and gaining quite a bit for Cataclysm. It will be a nice post.

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Happy Day Off!

I promised a video on Monday... and Monday it is. This video is a 2v2(Feral+Disc) match of ours against a 2400 Frost+Disc team. It is one of our favorite comps to play against because it is pretty popular as you get higher rated, and it is pretty well-countered by Feral+Disc. They have a real hard time locking down the Feral and the Mage has trouble keeping pressure up against a target who has nigh-unlimited up-time.

I think that my next review will be a die-hard win against Affliction+Disc. This matchup can be extremely difficult for Feral+Disc, particularly on RoV. Another thing I would like to try is showing off some of the buffs Feral is getting in Cataclysm and how they would have affected the fight. Also, I am going to be making a Cataclysm trailer-esque video for Feral before too long, so keep an eye out for that one.

Happy Feral'ing!

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Just a little update

Not much to report, still grinding up that 5s team (you'll notice I finally pushed a 1750 5s rating achievement out)... figured I'd just throw this little tidbit out there:

I think my next video will be a commentary on facing good Frost+Disc teams... should be up Monday-ish... maybe sooner!

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Video Stuffs!

Okay, I realize it has been over a week since my last post. It is mainly due to the fact that I am finally going to put my money where my mouth is, so to speak, and put up some of my Feral videos. I have been working with my video editing software all last week (essentially) trying to get the perfect dimensions, output size, and output quality. Long about 5pm on Saturday, I finally got it where I wanted it (appropriate for YouTube uploading). The only hitch was that I didn't have a video to upload... I hadn't really worked on anything since that Rogue+Priest match from season 5. So, I thought it would be kind of fun to throw up a commentary video for my first. It required very little editing and I basically would get to explain my matches better than my words on my blog ever could. So, the first thing I did was find a good video, and while Zooze is likely going to hate me for this, I decided to use his Warrior+Druid video to illustrate our strategy against that comp.

As I am sure I have brought up before, Warrior+Druid has become a bit of a specialty of ours; we simply never really lose against this comp anymore. The reason for this is two-fold: first, Guntir got his Purified Lunar Dust, and while it's no Heroic Solace in terms of mana longevity, it returns him enough mana to play the outlast game against healers who really don't go OOM (Druid, Shammy, Pally); second, since Guntir's mana isn't an issue, we are free to CC-train the Warrior (unless he's Gnome/Troll with the reduced snare/root duration meta) then entire match and essentially ignore any/all pressure the warrior can put out. Since Guntir has nigh-infinite mana between Innervate, PLD, Shadowfiend, and Hymn of Hope, we can essentially focus all our attention to pressuring the Druid the entire match and setting up for big-time Mana Burn chains to get him into trouble. Then, it just becomes a question of dispelling a single Innervate which usually nets us the win, but can definitely cause a match to go long.

Anyway, here's the video, I hope you like it!

Note: the video quality/resolution might continue to get updated by YouTube, so if it looks choppy or grainy, just change the resolution to 480p and it should be good. This is my first commentary vid, so let me know what you think!

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New Cataclysm Build (10803)

As with every Cataclysm Beta Build, I will have a writeup on the changes Druids can expect and any/all Feral PvP ramifications soon.

* Lacerate now stacks 3 times (previously 5 times)
* Mangle (Bear) no longer has a cooldown
* Improved Feral Charge renamed to Stampede
* Heart of the Wild moved to Tier-1 Restoration
* Furor moved to Tier-1 Feral
* Nature's Cure (Tier 5 Restoration) Empowers your Remove Corruption spell to also remove a magic effect from a friendly target
* Natural Shapeshifter is now a 2-rank talent (down from 3)
* Other non-Feral changes as well!

The Lacerate change just makes no sense to me... that is going to make Pulverize-spamming in PvE as a tank so required that I cannot see rotations being anything more than a frenzied button-mashing that will end in carpal tunnel syndrome. However, this does lend itself some credence to the theory that Lacerate is going to be changed to the ability which reduces Armor (instead of FFF)... but then against probably not because Pulverize would just knock it off for 3 GCDs minimum. Lacerate is an ability in search of an implementation that makes sense in tanking.

The swapping positions of HotW and Furor is largely a useless one... except that it makes me hate HotW less. Remember how I always complained about HotW being a terrible mandatory talent? Now it is almost entirely optional, and the BEST option. It has tricked me into not hating it again. Furor is still mandatory, but SOOOOO good that you almost don't mind the fact that you cannot live without it.

Why did they remove the cooldown from Mangle(Bear)? It simply makes no sense... it is still the best Threat-producing ability we have (even better than Pulverize), so you just spam it... right? I have no idea what the idea behind this is... but it ends up being a slight PvP buff, since you can just spam your damage-dealing ability that happens to put up your snare while you turtle in Bear Form.

They finally removed the dispel magic mechanic from Remove Corruption. So, only Resto Druids will be able to remove Magical effects from a friendly, but we all expected that to be the case anyway. The nice thing is that Hex is still going to be a Curse and we can still remove it (and a Poison effect as well) with 1 cast, and while the cost of this spell is rather high for Ferals, the shapeshifting costs have been reduced enough that we should still be able to get back into Cat Form and regenerate that Mana with a single critical strike and Leader of the Pack.

Natural Shapeshifter is STILL in the game... I have no idea why. The mana cost of shapeshifting for Ferals is STILL dirt-cheap and we sort of expect it to stay that way. I cannot understand why Heart of the Wild is not the prerequisite for Master Shapeshifter. More to the point, however, is why MSS is still in the game. It is a 1-pt talent that increases critical strike chance in Cat form by 4%. The devs have said they do not like these talents, and yet they continue to exist for Ferals. BAH.

The big-ticket item is that ALL castable CCs are being changed from 1.5second casts to 2.0second casts, and many of them are having their range increased to 30 yards (except for Poly, which is still 35y by default)... except Cyclone which is being left at 20yards untalented and Entangling Roots which is being made into 35yards. The REALLY interesting thing here, which no one has really picked up on, is that this is a relatively strong Feral buff.

Since Ferals are always going to run with Predatory Strikes in PvP, we will always have instant-cast Cyclones/Roots every time we use a 5-pt finishing move. In a great number of ways, this makes us one of the most dominant CC classes to bring to the arena. I am a little bit worried that PS will get removed or changed so that Cyclone will have a cooldown before Cataclysm goes live, but if not Ferals will be a real contender in the arena because of the instant-cast Cyclones and the mana increase of Dispels in general, so spamming dispel on a Feral to knock off PS should be less of a concern.

Still waiting on Feral scaling to be properly implemented so I can pull more than 2k dps on the target dummy!

I got some video footage (and if you keep up with the comments, we played against Zooze again) of our 2v2 escapades and pushed up to 2260ish this last week. I was thinking of taking the Zooze video (Warrior+Druid this time) and showing why our strategy against this comp is better than "train the warrior." I will probably have this updated later this week! I need to make a YouTube account or something so I can put these videos up, which means I need to read up on the video size and all that. For some reason, the in-game capture I use (which is amazing after the graphics update and switch to GLL, btw... I'm getting like 60fps while recording, even in Dalaran where the waterfall used to freeze my computer if recording was turned on) makes the videos into GIGANTIC files. For instance, we had a 6 minute match against Zooze (I think it was 6m... hard to remember off hand... wasn't more than 10m for sure) and it is something like 1GB large... woof.

EDIT1: I am also going to look into a different means for grabbing and displaying my Armory feed... I find this Google "out of the box" option to fail more times than not, and I have no idea why. JQuery will likely resolve this issue quickly and nicely. Look for that sometime after this post gets updated.

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