The Cataclysm Druid Preview Review

Okay... I'm not doing this.

I spent the last two weeks trying to write this up in a way that is both speculative and concrete, but I keep going back and forth. Why would I write anything on here as purely speculative when the answers are right around the corner... and there is no point discussing things as if they are concrete.

Here's an example. Ferals have a Kick-like ability confirmed for Cataclysm. While I am neither surprised or upset over this announcement... it doesn't do much in terms of where we will be when we get that kick. It doesn't really put anything into perspective; it's a piece of the puzzle. Will Kick truly be amazing for Ferals? Well, everyone is going to have tons more HP on the PvP scene so interrupting a heal or stopping a CC is going to be useful. On the other hand, haste is already at the point where you can basically guarantee enough of it to land a cast even if you GET kicked...


No, see... these is annoying. I'm not going to go into depth over everything mentioned in the preview because the PvP scene is likely to be something so vastly different from what it is now that I will be wrong in 3 months' time. I'll glance over stuff... just so everyone gets it:

1) Feral (Cat and Bear, presumably a shared CD) are getting a Kick (presumably talented).
2) Barkskin non-dispellable.
3) Thrash - oddly named new ability which will either apply a new bleed in an AoE fashion or apply Lacerate in an AoE fashion (Bear).
4) Stampeding Roar - another new ability... AoE (10y) 40% movement speed buff for 10 seconds.
5) Haste and crit scaling with Rake and Rip innately, sweet.

... There's not a lot to discuss here.

BTW: MMO-champ thinks the Cataclysm Beta will be starting soon... and if it does...

Anyway, I've actually got tons of work to do... >_<

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Still Alive

Yes, I'm still alive; I'm working on an in-depth view of the proposed Druid changes and I keep going back and forth as to whether I should actually post it or wait for talent trees to also get posted... there is so much up in the air right now.

Also, Guntir and I have been playing Secret of Mana, which we beat last night, for a gabillionth time and enjoying the absolute shit out of it. This has been usurping my free time, and work has actually been pretty busy, so I don't have a lot of opportunities to post this week.

Let's say I'm aiming to get the Cata post up by tomorrow.


Let's mention some stuff worth mentioning -

I have a Mac... I'm in the SCII beta, and they released the Mac client today (finally). Another thing I am waiting for is my Steam (Mac) beta invite... looking forward to playing the HL2 series again but this time on an amazing OS.

Additionally, if you look at MMO-Champ, they are suggesting that they believe the Cataclysm beta will be starting any day now. I don't know whether that's true or not (my source confirmed that if he had info, he'd tell me... but he doesn't have info), but one thing we can say is that Boubouille DOES usually know his stuff. I wouldn't be surprised if the Cataclysm beta DID start soon; maybe around May 4th... rumoring here... but almost certainly not before the end of the Tournament Realm. I wouldn't be surprised if it was ~3 weeks away. We'll see.

Next on the list of neat stuff... if you're into computer hardware (I'm a computer scientist by day... it's hard for me to ignore this) then you might enjoy this:

I have a Mac Pro circa 2008. The main HDD is a stupid 5400RMP drive (big capacity... slow read/write). So, I finally decided to upgrade my boot disk and ordered a OWC 100GB SSD. After about 2 hours of cleaning out my boot drive (lawl, 22GB of uncompressed Feral video moved to a different drive), I finally got my boot drive down to around 75GB, which will leave me plenty of space with the 100GB SSD for new apps and swap space (or Virtual Memory, if you like that term better). This drive has been getting ridiculously good reviews.

The first question you might ask, if you don't have a strong cmsi background, is "Why would you spend so much money on a 100GB SSD drive when you can get a 250GB SSD from another company at around the same price?" The answer is in the particulars of SSD technology. Supposedly, SSDs have a problem with write-speeds since they tend to get "fragmented" sectors a lot... not fragmented in the same way that old Windows 98 used to get fragmented, but some-what similar. Long-story-short, the 100GB drive I bought is ACTUALLY a 128GB drive with a 28GB partition allocated outside of the controller so the drive can make writes correctly to the main disk portion without causing this fragmentation. Two perks from this is that your write-speeds never degrade (BIG DEAL... REALLY BIG DEAL) and there's not additional overhead for read/writes.

The second question you might ask, if you don't have a strong cmsi background, is "Why would moving from a 5400RMP HDD to a SSD drive be something you would bring up on your WoW Blog?" The answer to this is because of how WoW works. WoW has everything in the game (textures, data, etc) inside .MPQ files. You can find these files in your WoW folder if you dig around a bit, and with a little googling, you can even find applications to open these files up.


Okay... I have written a Java Application to read/write these files. They are archive documents (somewhat like .rar or .zip). They differ in some important ways, but the gist is the same - they are giant houses of data. You can see pretty readily that they are on the order of at least 1-2GB in most cases, and there are a few that are even bigger than that. What does that mean? Well, every time you try and load something in game (zoning in particular, but also just logging into Dalaran for instance) you have to get all those sweet graphics, objects, map details, etc out of the .MPQ file. That means that you have to read that entire file into memory and extract what you're looking for.

As it turns out... 5400RMP drives do this pretty well; the 7200 drives do it faster... and so for and so on. SSD stands for "Solid State Device" meaning that there are no moving pieces (look up how regular HDDs work on Wikipedia if you aren't familiar here... not enough time to explain). In addition to this, SSDs have RIDICULOUSLY fast read/write times when compared to even the EXTREMELY expensive 10k RMP HDDs. SO, the idea here is that I'll be able to load all my WoW textures (and everything else) MUCH faster and reduce the load on my CPUs when loading this nonsense.

Very cool.

It's SUPPOSEDLY going to ship in a day or two, so when I get it all set up I'll write a review on it as it pertains to WoW. Additionally, I'm going to try some video capture to see how long a cold load into Dalaran takes on my 5400 versus the new SSD.

Alrighty... I'm pretty confident I'll have that Cata review up tomorrow... check back and mock me if I don't.

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The Day of Reckoning is Upon Us...

Yes, today the powers that be will announce the druid changes... and while I expect the majority of the content to be useless for my needs (read: 1/3 will be boomer stuff and another 1/3 will be resto... leaving 1/3 of the information as interesting). HOWEVER, this is the first glimpse into the Cataclysm changes as they pertain to Ferals. While I understand that LIKELY blizz will try and come up with unique changes, here is a list of things I would NOT mind seeing for this preview:

1) Ferocious Bite changed to deal stupid damage when the target is "in execute range" (I would say below 20/25% hp... but all the executes work differently... so that's dumb...)

2) Feral Charge (Cat) changed to be less terrible (though I doubt this will change much given that it was a replica of Heroic Leap... which they're adding BACK for warriors). Something with a Root/Stun would be nice... taking out the "takes you to your opponent's back" portion would do a lot as well. I half-believe they will add a root/stun portion to the spell OR lower the cooldown. From the Heroic Leap discussion, the devs mentioned that it would likely "stun the opponent so they will be there when you get there."

3) Kick... dear lord do we need a kick-mechanic.

4) Feral DoTs will scale with Haste/Crit innately (just like SPriests and Locks preview mentioned). I want to be able to stack both of those stats and make Rip and Rake powerful in PvP.

5) Bear Form is made LESS squishy in PvP than Cat Form... I want a reason to use Bear Form again. Bear Form is supposed to be our tank form; make it so!

6) I would say dispel resist for Infected Wounds... but Abolish and Cleansing totem are getting removed... that SHOULD be enough.

7) Barkskin dispel resist moved higher in the resto tree... but I'm guessing that that won't be announced until the trees are released.

I have a meeting right now with some big-ups in the UK, so I'll be detained a bit. I will add to this post if I think of anything else I would like to see for the notes, AND OF COURSE I will create a new post concerning EVERYTHING that gets posted about Druids after it happens (unless it's the last post of the day... aka Midnight, I'll be drunk likely. If it's the last post of the day... look to my coming on Monday).


First, they have post the first preview of the day and it was Hunters. At this point, I am going to go ahead and predict that Druids are going to be the last preview of the day because I play a Druid and Blizzard hates me. Second, the following is a list of abilities I don't personally feel we need but are 50-50 on getting announced anyway:

1) Vanish - we don't NEED vanish. We don't really get any boon from being stealthed outside of Pounce... which is going to share DR with every other stun (just like CS, presumably).

2) Premeditation-like-ability - we don't need this either... it doesn't matter how many combo points you start with when your ramp-up is stupid AND Maim isn't super amazing.

3) A deep-wounds like ability - we don't really NEED more bleed damage, but I certainly wouldn't complain if they gave us something like this.

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I'll have more about the class changes later... but I just read this in the Priest changes and near soiled myself from laughter:

Leap of Faith (level 85): Pull a party or raid member to your location. Leap of Faith (or "Life Grip") is intended to give priests a tool to help rescue fellow players who have pulled aggro, are being focused on in PvP, or just can't seem to get out of the fire in time. Instant. 30-yard range. 45-second cooldown.


Warrior preview is up... have so say I glanced over it and I found THIS to be wholly entertaining and a long time coming:

Overall, heals cast by players in Cataclysm will be a lower number relative to players' health than the current game. So to make the Mortal Strike debuff less mandatory but still useful in PvP, Mortal Strike will reduce healing by only 20%. All equivalent debuffs, including the Shadow priest and Frost mage debuffs, will be for 20% less healing. At the moment we aren't considering giving this debuff to anyone else, though we will certainly consider PvP utility for historically under-represented specs that use other mechanics.

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That's what I'm getting - burned out. Feral has a lot of problems and they haven't been fixed in this expansion. Don't get me wrong... there are a LOT of fixes that went through and helped Feral a LOT in Wrath; this expansion was probably the BEST Feral expansion to date, but we still have some problems:

* Barkskin is dispellable with nothing to buffer it against the purge-spam and 0% dispel resist for Ferals.
* Infected Wounds has zero dispel buffers and 0% dispel resist.
* Shred is our only source of good damage and it's extremely hard to use effectively in PvP.
* Our CP-gen is ridiculously low when compared to Rogues'.
* Our finishers, while starting strong in Wrath, have been nerfed or made lackluster by other classes abilities getting buffs while ours are ignored (hello Envenom versus FB...)
* The opportunity cost for Cyclone is EXTREMELY high or impossible to get off under pressure.

The Blues have announced that some class changes for Cataclysm are going to start being announced soon (and by soon, I mean tomorrow, the next day, and the day after that). I am at the point where should they announce something that I don't like, I may just sideline my Feral for a while (or just play him sparingly to get full Wrathful). I am extremely interested to see how the new dispel systems work as well as all other changes to various classes... but I'm kind of sick of Wrath now... the damage dealing in PvP has gotten out of hand with Cataclysm as the only end in sight.

That being said, I'm playing more 2s with my Rogue (and Guntir as shadow... it's kind of silly) and we're grinding up with my heroic/hateful gear to get me the T1 daggers. I guess if we find the time and a decent mage we will probably try and roll some RMP action with it to see just how hilariously easy it is (and it is... Guntir's mage in crap gear with my rogue in crap gear and a priest in decent-to-crap gear hit 1500 in 3s last season without much effort... putting Guntir into the healing spot as an amazing priest with a decent mage would probably net us some fun and medium-to-high ratings).

Lastly, one of my readers is a fink. I made some disparaging remarks about Bio in the last post. I'll admit it, I was angry about something that wasn't related to him directly, but I took it out on him. I don't really care who linked him here; that's water under the bridge or over the dam, or however you like it. Bio's a good hunter, my only concern is that I feel we sometimes hold each other back. Like I said before, we tried Disc+Feral+Marks to limited success just because the peels weren't right. Ultimately, I don't think that is a very good comp (and neither do Bio or Guntir)... so we switched to Pally+Feral+Marks which is a much better comp but we still play it wrong sometimes.

I don't think I'm perfect. If you watch ANY of my videos that I link on here, I make mistakes OFTEN. My main problem, I feel, is that in Holy+Feral+Marks comp, I tend to get too trainy in thinking I'm playing with a Warrior (where you ARE training hard and switching less), and Bio occassionally thinks he's playing PHD where I can peel for him effectively all the time so he can start nuking people. The fact of the matter is that Pally+Feral+Marks is a good comp... but most Lock+Rogue teams will give us a hard time. We play really well against RMP (I don't think we've really lost to more than 1 since getting the pally on the squad... and they were 2400) and other Priest comps, but we rely on the fact that Priests are bad healers for the most part. Everyone would probably do better with different comps, is basically what I'm getting at. If Bio+Kyske replaced me with a DK, they'd skyrocket because they know how to play that better... if we replaced Bio with a Warrior, we'd probably do better just because I'm better at training people with strategic Cyclones.

Again, I was pissed off about something else; I never meant to hurt anyone's feelings (although, I will admit that I'm surprised I have readers who would take the time to send my team-mates links to my blog lawl).

I will, of course, post back when more Druid changes are announced. The only announcements we have currently are the Dispel changes, and those are only half-formed (they haven't even said whether Ferals will retain Dispel Curse or Cure Poison, though they did say that Prot/Ret will be losing Dispel Magic...).

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DOOF... took us a minute

So, Guntir's pally hit 80 (as you know) and we grinded him on 2s to get him 1800 (as you know) to get his MH+Shield (which he did). The next obvious step was when he finally got his Wrathful off-pieces, we would simply throw him to the 3s team and see what stuck.

80 games (all yesterday, btw) with a 61% win-ratio later, he hit 2k on the 3v3 team.

Well, that wasn't so hard. Also, we got our team/personal ratings to 2136 again (after falling BELOW 2k last week... it has been a hard run thus far this season) and are back to feeling strong enough to make a 2.2k run again. It's just as well... I've been gearing out my set as-is; I simply couldn't wait around with 5k arena points sitting at a LITTLE above 2k saying "we were thinking about a weapons run at the start of the season... now I'm worried I won't be able to get my shoulders..." Additionally, I'm trying out the Mangle-spec since Bio's strength is in hard-switching A LOT to keep pressure up on everyone. Sure, we have SOME comps we simply tunnel one target from start to finish... but most of the comps we face, we end up switching a lot (RLS, Double-healer+warrior, Wizcleaves).

Guntir and I are sort of in a precarious situation... we REALLY don't get along with Bio very well, and he is not a very good hunter. He's okay... sure, but we're basically carrying him and banking on the fact that he has gear and can drop trucks on people. He essentially refuses to use Frost Traps against Rogue teams... even though he'll be getting trained 100-0 with the Rogue on him the entire time. He doesn't deterrence at the right times (he thinks it's iceblock half the time... he'll have 1000 hp with full dots and hit deterrence and QQ when he dies anyway). His disengages are reasonably awful... if you're going to use Disengage, make sure of two things: 1) you break LoS with the enemy, and 2) you KEEP LoS with your healear (he almost always gets those two confused...).

So what? We're kind of pissed... but we're going to (hopefully) hit 2200 with him and find a suitable replacement. To be perfectly honest, I am sick of dicking around with sub-par comps. Disc+Feral only has one viable partner... Rogue (maybe two if you're amazing in a Mage), and we've tried everything and ended up offending the Rogue who actually was a good fit on the team (a little hard-headed, but at least he spoke). Really though, when you get down to it... Disc only has two viable comps: double-healer and RMP (I started decking out my Rogue for this exact reason).

However, Feral+HolyPally has a couple of options for viable team members... but the best option by far is an Arms warrior. There's no reason to try and skirt this issue anymore. We're waiting for Seere to get out of his incredibly crazy school schedule. Seere, for those just joining us, is a warrior who hit 2k with us as Feral+Arms+Disc... this is a terrible comp and had the same problems (amplified) that Feral+Marks+Disc had: you can't keep ANYONE off your Priest long enough to score a kill before your Disc dies. HOWEVER, if we can hit 2k as Feral+Arms+Disc... before the Mangle buffs... before we got really comfortable with the comp... before we got a pally... imagine what could be done with the proper Kittycleave setup.

Anyway... that's the hope. Short-term: we'll hit 2200 and stay above it for a while. Long-term: we'll do the short-term, get Seere onto the team, and rocket upwards as kitty-cleave.

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