Well, not particularly "well" per se; however, the mastery values we were promised have been somewhat implemented in a tangible way. Let's take a look, shall we?!?

Feral - Increases the damage absorbed by your Savage Defense ability by 32% and increases the damage done by your Cat Form bleed abilities by 20%. Absorb and damage increased further by mastery rating.

Hey, that somewhat resembles what we were expecting to see given the earlier builds of Cataclysm. We get some nice bleed damage bonuses (on top of what we already get in the way of abilities like Savage Roar and Mangle, etc) and some decent damage absorption via Savage Defense. Admittedly, SD is not going to be an AMAZING damage absorb effect in Cataclysm simply because of the lowered proc rate and our lowered attack power in Feral forms; yet, it will still be a decent proc to have given that it will absorb something around 3-4k given this new bonus and 80-level-gear. The only hitch being that we still have something silly like 50% crit in Bear Form on the latest Beta build, but we all know that critical strike ratings are likely to drop dramatically for Rogues/Ferals simply because Agi->AP is going from 1:1 to 1:2, and AP as a stat on a gear will be going away in favor of other stats such as Critical Strike Rating or Haste Rating etc. Therefore, we can pretty reliably assume that Agi->Crit is going to be gutted a bit so that classes which do not stack Agility won't be hit as hard (Warriors/Rets/DKs/etc).

The 20% extra bleed damage is good... but also somewhat disconcerting. I have to admit, I was expecting another Mastery Bonus (I was honestly expecting the Naturalist bonus... 10% more physical damage or what-have-you).

Why was I expecting something else? Well...

Frost - Your Frostbolt spell causes its victim to take a 12% increased damage from all other spells you attack the victim with. Damage increased further with mastery rating.

Mastery Bonuses such as this really set the tone for how I expect them to work. This, essentially, reads as "increases all damage you deal by 12%" since all Frost Mages will be spamming Frost Bolt as their primary damage-dealing spell. Sure, I admit that 20% more bleed damage means we get MORE than Frost mages for a portion of our damage, but I also know that in most situations our Bleed damage ends up being 35-40% of our overall damage. So, we can mathematically model our Mastery Bonus as 35-40% of a 20% increase to our overall damage (read: all damage).

... 35-40% of 20% is a 7-8% damage increase overall ...

Wait... Frost mages get +12% damage and we only get +7-8% damage? How is that fair? Maybe we should assume that our bleeds already scale rather well as a portion of our damage, and since Mangle/SR stack multiplicatively already, that 20% extra bleed damage is going to account for more like 20*30*30% more bleed damage... I don't know. I admit that in the regard of overall damage calculations, Blizzard is probably better suited for this than I am. There are, obviously, other facets of this debate which I am simply not suited to take issue with, such as Armor Penetration no longer being prevalent, so perhaps Shred/FB will be much less a portion of our overall damage simply by means of nerfing that stat, and therefore our Bleeds will be something closer to 55-60% of our overall damage.

This whole Mastery System brings up an interesting note, however. What will be our primary stat? This question keeps creeping into the back of my mind and while I want to shout "it's too early to tell, wait for the stat conversion ratios to be finalized before theorycrafting," I am drawn to hypothesis. Think about it... Mastery Rating will be a stat on gear which MAY be appealing to us, among others:

* Mastery Rating
* Critical Strike Rating
* Haste Rating
* Hit Rating (maybe)
* Expertise Rating (maybe)

At the very least, we can agree that those first three I listed are all interesting and viable choices as to the off-stat we would be stacking. Obviously, if the Agi->Crit ratio does not end up changing (something I highly doubt will happen), then we will be looking for a mix of Mastery and Haste. Although, as Guntir pointed out while at lunch on Sunday "for a dps spec with a rather long ramp-up time, stacking a stat which lowers the amount of time spent waiting for energy to regen might be the best solution." Well, that makes tons of sense to me... if the Critical Strike Rating from Agility ratios stay as-is. If I am walking around with about 40-50% crit in the first-tier purples, then Haste becomes a really strong off-stat because of its ability to increase all my damage AND my energy-regen, whereas Mastery only aims to increase my Bleed damage by a static amount.

That's the other bit that I cannot comment on: there is no gear with Mastery Rating currently. That being said, no one has any idea how much oomph Mastery Rating (the stat) will have on the effect. If it is something ridiculous like a small amount of rating increases your mastery bonus in an extreme way, then Mastery will likely be the better stat, as our bleeds would then out-scale most other forms of damage. However, if Mastery Rating only scales the effect minimally, then I could foresee Ferals avoiding it all together, or reforging their gear to strict Haste (or a Haste+Crit combo).


Haste will scale all our damage (we regen energy faster which means more Shreds, we attack faster which means more white swings, we proc OOC more often which means more Shreds, our DoTs tick more often over the same duration, means more Bleed damage).

Crit will scale all our damage (white, yellow, DoTs can all crit in Cataclysm).

Mastery will scale our Bleed damage ONLY.

I continually look at this little 3-line-item chart and say to myself "If Mastery isn't OP, it will be ignored by Ferals." I know, we don't know the numbers yet... but just looking at which stats scale which damage components, Mastery is losing to both Haste and Crit... and really Haste is winning by the largest margin of all stats.

Look at it this way: in Wrath of the Lich King, Warriors in full ArP-gemmed PvP gear are rocking something around 35-40% crit in Battle Stance. That is, we can expect most classes to be balanced around this amount of crit or more (depending on whether the Agi->Crit ratios change). Therefore, if Druids are nerfed to the point where we will have around the same critical strike rating as Warriors simply from gear, then we are free to Gem however we like. The difference here is that I could see us running with 40% crit rather comfortably if we ended up stacking up to 20-25% haste. Our DoTs would tick so frequently over their rather long durations while we regenerated energy that much more quickly. The very fact that our attacks would only critically strike 35-40% of the time would means less of a burst-push than an increased sustained damage.

Which brings me to my next point: since Cataclysm is shaping up to be about sustained damage and mana-longevity of the healer more-so than burst damage and "Wrathing" someone down in a blanket silence, we have to choose the stat which increases sustained damage better than burst. Sure, Critical Strike rating will indeed increase sustained damage (as it increases all damage by AROUND a static amount), but you have to see Haste for what it is - a stat which increases damage output by AT LEAST the static amount specified in the tooltip. Currently, 15% haste means 15% more energy regen, 15% faster white swings, and presumably (though it still isn't implemented yet) 15% faster DoT ticks. Without even acknowledging OOC procs (which indeed increase sustained and burst regardless of critical strikes) we can see Haste as a scaling stat which beats a 1:1 increase in damage done.

Critical Strikes will be less important in a scene of "sustained > burst," and will only be a 1:1 increase in damage done in the statistically large sample size and *IMPORTANT* only against targets with zero resilience. That's right... take a moment and read up on the change to the statistic known as Resilience.

Resilience - This will only affect damage done by players and critical damage done by players. It will not impact crit chance, mana drains, or other such effects. - Eyonix

Okay, the "damage done by players" part can largely be ignored because EVERYTHING we do to a target with some resilience will be lowered, critical strike or not; however, let us look at the case of DoTs as they are affected by Haste Rating versus Critical Strike Rating. In the case where a Feral has chosen to stack Critical Strike Rating instead of Haste, their DoT damage will be lowered by the "damage done by players" part, and ALSO by the "critical damage done by players" portion of Resilience's mechanic. On the flip-side of that coin, the Feral who chooses to stack Haste instead of Critical Strike rating will have their DoT damage lowered by the "damage done by players" portion, and what little critical strike rating said Feral has will be lowered by "critical damage done by players;" however, the damage gained by stacking Haste Rating and therefore causing your DoT effects to tick more often in their same duration will not be lowered at all.

Perhaps some mathematics will help this case a bit. Let's say you apply Rake which ticks every 3 seconds for 15 seconds (with Endless Carnage). That is exactly 5 ticks over 15 seconds. Now, we will show two different druids and we will assume equal percentages for crit and haste. The first Feral will have 30% more critical strike rating than the second Feral, but the second Feral will have 30% more haste rating than the first. Both Ferals will have a base pool to build off of like each Rake tick does 1000 damage (for simplicity's sake) and critically ticks for double. Each Feral will have 30% critical strike chance base and zero haste base (which seems like a fair assumption given that all my gear currently has Crit and NOT haste, and even with critical strike rating ON my gear, I get some crit from my agi, which both Ferals would stack regardless). We will assume 100% up-time on Rake over a fifteen minute fight (my random assumption of what arena battles will constitute in Cataclysm) and see what happens.

Feral A (30% base crit, 30% bonus crit, base 0% haste, 1000 damage Rake ticks):
In 15 minutes, the zero-haste Rake will tick 300 times, 60% of which will crit against a zero resilience-wearing target. Therefore, we can add this up to be mathematically averaged to 480,000 damage dealt by Rake and we find that that is basically 533.33_ damage per second (keep in mind that this is with a 200% crit modifier as we no longer have Predatory Instincts to increase our critical strike damage multiplier, but if it ends up coming back, then our critical strike portion is increased 10% off a 200% multiplier, which means that the damage is actually 516,000 with a dps of 573.33_).

Feral B (30% base crit, 30% bonus haste, 0% base haste, 1000 damage Rake ticks):
In 15 minutes, the 30%-haste Rake will tick 30% MORE often, so instead of 300 times, it will tick 390 times, 30% of which will crit against a zero resilience-wearing target. Therefore, we can add this up to be mathematically averaged to 507,000 damage dealt by Rake and we find that that is basically 563.33_ damage per second.

Do you see? The Haste option is ALREADY scaling better than Critical Strike chance even against a target without ANY resilience. When you model this against the end-game PvP scenes, you see that resil-capped targets show this disparity with even MORE contrast. Additionally, if you assume that our Critical Strike Damage Multiplier talent will be reintroduced at some point (though I have no idea if it will), then the disparity is SLIGHTLY (and I MEAN slightly... very slightly) in favor of Critical Strike Rating against a zero resilience-wearing target; however, as I said before, the disparity between the two becomes exaggerated rather more pointedly against a resilience-capped target.

Feral A (30% base crit, 30% additional crit, 0% base haste, 1000 damage Rake ticks) against a target with ~15% damage reduction and 33% Critical Strike damage reduction:
Again, we see 120 of the 300 ticks are non-crit, so we will simply add those up to 120,000 damage before resilience and 102,000 damage after resilience. The remaining 180 attacks, however, are critical strikes which will be lowered by both 15% and 33% respectively. So, that is 180 ticks at 200% damage makes 360,000 damage before resilience (396,000 if you think we're getting that 10% bonus crit damage back), then reduced 15% to make 306,000 (336,600), then reduced 33% to make 235,620 (259,182) damage after resilience entirely. That turns this into roughly 261.8 (287.98) damage per second.

Feral B (30% base crit, 0% additional crit, 0% base Haste, 30% bonus haste, 1000 damage Rake ticks) against a target with ~15% damage reduction and 33% Critical Strike damage reduction:
We see that roughly 117 of the 390 ticks are critical strikes, so we will add those up to be 234,000 (257,400) damage before resilience and 153,153 (168,468) after resilience. The remaining 273 ticks are just normal strikes, so they will only be reduced by 15%, leaving us with roughly 232,050 damage. If we add those two portions up, we will get roughly 385,203 damage after resilience or basically 428 damage per second.

Holy crap! Haste would give us WAY more damage against a resil-capped target than Critical Strike chance, with or without Predatory Instincts and the difference against a non-resil-capped target is essentially negligible.

Again, the numbers are not finalized; I am simply going off of how Haste Rating works on Live for SPriests and UA Locks etc. Additionally, we do not know for sure how Resilience will work in Cataclysm outside of that tiny quote from Eyonix, so there is still room for adjustments there as well. That being said, at this point in time, unless something changes drastically between now and Cataclysm being released, Haste might actually be the best stat in the world for Ferals.