Boomkin'ing it up. Dropped our 3s team to run some Owlplay (Shadow+Boomkin+RShammy) with a fella we were running 5s with. It's a pretty strong comp (given how ludicrous our damage output is), but we had some trouble with PHD... neither really here nor there. Our main focus for a little while will be 5s.

You will have to excuse my absence, I have been fighting off a pretty nasty sinus infection and I have this sensation of someone stabbing me in the right ear with an ice pick every few seconds. Sure, I went to the doctor yesterday and got some antibiotics for it, but it still hurts and it has put me into a pretty bad mood... so bad that I have simply refrained from posting. Though, I am feeling better now, thanks!

Okay, so I'm in trade looking for a Resto Shammy with which to run Owlplay. I am spamming something like "2200+ Boomkin+SPriest LF RShammy, PST," when I get a tell from a Warrior who says "want to runs 5s?" I have never really gotten into 5s as Feral, mainly because Wizcleaves just blow me up, so why not, right? The comp is Warrior+Boomkin+Ele+HPally+Disc; a decent comp for sure, but the Warrior has to stick his neck out all the time making it somewhat difficult to beat higher-rated teams. Anyway, we punch him to 2k to get his shoulders with pretty much no problem what-so-ever (76% win ratio lawl), and we call it a night. The next day, I notice that the Shammy and the Pally have left the team, but that is sort of expected given that he was just helping the Warrior hit 2k.

So, I'm talking to the Shammy and it turns out that the Shammy is an alt for a 2400-rated Hunter main, and he's pretty good (has had a gladiator Rogue, as well). So, he says "the Warrior promised to run 3s with me, but crapped out on helping me when not 24-hours prior I helped HIM hit 2k to get his shoulders." So, he's starting a new 5s team with another Pally friend of his, who is an alt of the Resto Druid on his 2400 team, and he asks if I want to join it; he must have taken notice that I was calling strats and swaps with him in the 5s from the previous night and we were agreeing and succeeding, so why not include well-geared and smart players, right (one less guy to look for, anyway). My only stipulation was that I wanted Guntir to get the Disc spot on the team, which he had no qualms about (again, good player - one less guy to find).

So, we are sitting there with the makings of a new 5s team, 4/5 players filled and all of them have 2300 experience in the arenas. The last piece of the puzzle is to find another dps; we were thinking Hunter to bring the MS effect and keep it ranged. The only problem is that there are essentially ZERO good hunters on the server anymore... well there are 1-2, but they're all on teams currently. Obviously, Starjones has the #1 5v5s team on the server currently, so he's out; the Shammy's there as the Shammy, not the Hunter, so that won't work. We eventually found a couple of guys who might know what they're doing and be good enough for a decent run in 5s (2k will be easy, 2.2k might be trickier but everyone seems confident that even 2400 is doable for our comp/skill)... so we'll see.

You know what is bugging me? The fact that WotLK is basically over and Feral is essentially unplayable outside of 2s. Feral has no magic damage reduction and basically no utility at the moment... so you can't really rely on one in 3s or 5s, and Feral's damage is easily shut down by players with a brain stem. So, I got to thinking... Cataclysm means a couple of things:

1) Lower burst across the boards.
2) Longer matches which are balanced around survivability and mana-longevity.
3) Sustained damage valued over burst.
4) Utility valued over burst.

I don't know why... maybe it's my meds... but I was standing in the shower this morning at 6:30 thinking "I hate the way Feral is currently... you have to be amazing to be decent... it's not like a Mutilate Rogue where you can just spam your DPS button from any direction all the time and..."

I think I was brushing my teeth (brush your teeth in the shower... you get a back massage from the hot water while you do a chore... it's nice) and stopped dead. "Wait..." and I thought about those four things concerning PvP in Cataclysm. "Shred will be amazing sustained damage if you ramp it up and use it every time you get the energy, but Mangle might be better for toe-to-toe sustained damage in PvP."

I just checked the Feral Cataclysm tree to see if there are any builds which support this playstyle, and surely enough, there is:

This build is what I would deem a Mangle-centric build (notice I didn't take Blessing of the Grove because it only increases Shred's damage). I still took Rend and Tear because Ferocious Bite is going to play a more key role in Feral PvP, I believe. Blizzard has been touting this "we want players to be in a wounded state more in PvP; less of the full health or dead scenario which is playing out on Live currently," so I feel like we might get the opportunity to keep a target at or below 25% hp longer, thus allowing FBs against Ripped targets to keep up strong pressure. I can see that perhaps that won't be the case, though.

The funny thing is, if Blizzard cannot get Ferocious Bite to be an appealing button in PvP, then there is no Feral build... sure, you can still run Shred-spec and pick up RaT and ignore NomNomNom and the Ferocious Bite centric talents, but your build ends up taking talents just because you have to have 31 in Feral... this build is all I could come up with as a Mangle-centric build when FB isn't very good.

Oh, something I didn't notice before but I am seeing now - they finally put a tooltip to Feral Druid as the Mastery Bonus for going Feral. The bonuses make sense, and they are talents which were removed, primarily, so we don't really "lose" anything, per se. I just do not see anything "new" with Feral outside of Skull Bash... which was confirmed to be a charge (as you know) and the devs say they WANT it that way... how odd.

Feral is RIDICULOUSLY mobile on the beta, currently. Besides being able to shapeshift out of snares/roots, we can use FCC every 30 seconds, and SB every 10 seconds to break distance as well... and with Brutal Impact, it will make the opponent's spells horribly inefficient to cast. Again, I am looking at Feral as having a place in PvP in Cataclysm, but I do not know exactly where, and to boot, we still know nothing about the Arena scene for Cataclysm OR rated BGs.