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).