New Cataclysm Build (12644)

This build actually has some of the Druid changes I have been waiting for; therefore, I will update this post soon.

Okay, let us get some formalities out of the way. I have been helping one of my friends move from his parents' apartment on the second floor of his building into his new apartment on the first floor of his building; subsequently, I am pretty tired all the time. Additionally, my other friend has been getting carpet and hardwood put into his beach house, so I have been helping him move all his stuff as well. Yesterday, I pried a 1/4" (one-quarter-inch is huge, btw) splinter out from my right index finger, and then while cleaning up the dryer and getting 20 years of lint off of it, I smashed up my thumb and ended up prying the dryer vent between my thumb finger and thumb nail.

Pain like you probably would not believe. Long-story-short, my typing today is a little bit more difficult and a bit more painful. I am going to try and keep this post short and sweet... but you know how that usually goes. GOOD, now that that's out of the way, let's talk about the updated talent trees.

Like I mentioned at the end of yesterday's post (or was that the day before yesterday... my mind is slipping away as well >_<), the Feral Druid mastery has been filled in on WoWHead's Cataclysm site and it seems they have baked Ferocity and Feral Instincts (better stealth level) into it as well as something called "Aggression" which simply gives us 15% more attack power. At the moment, it is unclear whether that is to be in Bear Form or Cat Form, and as I left the updater running when I left for work this morning, we aren't likely to know until much later today. I will touch on the Aggression thing a little further down.

Talents like Heart of the Wild and Rend and Tear (though not Furor, infuriatingly; also the tooltips here might not have updated yet) have been updated to match at three points what they used to be at five points. So, HotW is 10% attack power and Rend and Tear is 20% more damage to Shred against bleeding targets and 25% bonus critical strike chance for Ferocious Bite against bleeding targets. There are still some thing missing, but for the most part, the Feral tree has been given some new life.

Additionally, critical strike immunity (in PvE) has been added back to the tree on the Thick Hide talent, and something I was not entirely expecting to show up at all made its way back onto the Natural Reaction talent - damage reduction while in Bear Form. What is so interesting about these changes is that I do not foresee them being unattainable for a PvP spec. Sure, Cat builds today can pick up these talents, but the PvP scene is so vastly different at the moment that it is not a reality to go Bear Form as a form of lowering opponent damage. In Cataclysm, we MIGHT be going Bear Form more often in PvP, but with the Mastery System changing every patch or so, it is really too hard to tell at the moment.

Speaking of survivability, Ghostcrawler said that the developers aim to kill the arms race between CC and CC-reducing-talents, and has lived up to that by removing talents like Primal Tenacity. The problem with this is that I simply do not understand how Ferals will be expected to survive in a PvP setting without ANY damage reduction aside from their armor value. That is, the 30% damage reduction while stunned in Cat Form was one of our only survival tools, and it was controlled by our opponents; maybe this means that all classes will be taking roughly the same damage, and they no longer believe that we NEED this talent. In fact, I just checked and it seems that Elemental Shamans no longer have their version of the talent (which also reduced damage when silenced/feared in addition to stunned... I felt ripped off). This sort of leads me to believe that Blizzard is making a conscious effort to balance the PvP scene a bit more: everyone will have basically the same HP pool; everyone will have more similar armor values (or damage reduction from armor, perhaps is a better way of putting this); etc. In this way, Blizzard has a more even field for balancing out certain specs, spells, or comps in general. Beastcleaves will not tear through clothies anymore because clothies will have around the same armor as plate-wearers (or at least the discrepancy will be much less severe), and they will have roughly the same HP, so mindlessly zerging will not be the norm.

Okay, I mentioned above that I wanted to touch on Aggression, and to a lesser extent, all AP buffs in general. Recall that Feral is completely losing its Feral Attack Power from weapons, and is instead simply getting the DPS modifier from weapons scaled around a 1.0 swing timer and then applied to Cat Form. This is a good thing in the majority of cases because it means that our paper-doll damage should not really change at all, and we can still use two-handed staves/polearms/maces as our primary damage increase. The main difference here is that we will be walking around with roughly 50% the AP we currently have on Live, but dealing roughly the same damage with abilities like Shred because our paper-doll white damage will not have changed. Why am I talking about weapon-scaling when I mentioned I wanted to talk about Attack Power talents/masteries? Well, the way we gain attack power is changing dramatically in Cataclysm. I just said we would be walking around with around 50% less attack power in Cat Form once Cataclysm drops, and that means that anything which increases our attack power by a scaling amount will bee effectively getting buffed as well.

"Wait... wait wat?"

Okay, remember a few posts ago I was whining about DBW and how AP procs favor classes balanced around less AP than Ferals (read: all classes). So, with 10k attack power, when I get a proc like DBW which increases our attack power pool by a flat amount (we'll use 1000 to keep the numbers clean), we get a proportionally SMALLER increase to damage than everyone else. Over the years, Blizzard has tried to offset this pain with talents (HotW, Predatory Strikes, etc), but has ultimately decided to smash the Feral Attack Power model entirely and instead simply scale us around weapon DPS. Okay, so you have 10k AP, you get a DBW proc and gain 1,000 AP, now you're rocking essentially a 10% increase in AP which ALMOST correlates to a 1.4% damage increase; however, let us say you are in Cataclysm and only have 5k Attack Power, then gaining the DBW proc for 1000 AP means a 20% increase in AP, which means closer to a 2.8% damage increase.

Do you see where this is going now? If we are balanced around the same AP pools as every other class, but then get a bunch of talents or otherwise which scale our AP faster than every other class, then we should be doing more damage than every other class. Admittedly, I have only BARELY looked at Warriors/Rogues/DKs, so I have no idea if they get anything like HotW or Aggression, but I would be surprised if they go 15% more AP and 10% more AP from any one spec.

Bookmark and Share

Owls; Owls Everywhere!

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.

Bookmark and Share

... sigh

Yes, another build of Cataclysm went out yesterday... no, they didn't fix anything. They moved HotW to tier-1 for no reason at all, they removed Ferocity entirely... though no one knows why, and Feral Aggression is now tier-2 and buggy.

I'll post more when changes make sense instead of, what appears to be, the developers getting drunk and playing with the position of abilities in the talent trees.

Yeah, a new build of Cataclysm Beta went out late yesterday.

No, nothing Druid-related except that Predatory Strikes got moved to tier-1... which doesn't matter at all.

I'll post something else when I'm in a better mood... this was a dumb build. Actually, this was the "pally" build.

Bookmark and Share

A Post About Boomkin

More to the point, a post about casters in WotLK in general. You might have noticed from my live Armory portlet (on the right, just below my BanHammer portlet) that I have been getting Boomkin gear for a while now, and if you actually hit my Armory directly, you will see that I am basically decked out. Mind you, I never planned (as long-time readers will undoubtedly know) to ever spec boomkin; it just sort of happened. Now, that is not to say that Boomkin isn't a decent spec or anything, I just never really considered it... it's not my play-style, if you will.

However, when you are sitting on 9.8k Arena Points, are 5/5 Wrathful with all the off-pieces and the staff and everything else you can buy, you are left in a predicament. My initial instinct was to go Resto and get that gear and run double-healer Warrior or some other ridiculousness, but eventually Guntir talked me out of that suggesting that DHW is not the flavor of the month anymore, and in all honesty, he reminded me just how much I hated playing Resto in the 70s days (new readers probably don't know, but I ran Resto+Warrior in the 70s with Guntir's Warrior alt; he's rolling a shaman on our soon-to-be-new-server at the moment, but motivationally stuck at 30. For the record, because I think it is kind of funny, Guntir has the following level 80s: Priest, Pally, Rogue, Mage, Warrior, DK, Hunter... he will have a Shammy before too long; personally, I think he's insane).

So, my only other alternative was to buy Boomkin gear, right? So, now I am 4/5 Wrathful (with 1 remaining piece of Resto Relentless gear lawl) with the full off-set, and sporting numbers which are almost criminal. We were doing some skirms as Balance+HPally last night, and it just is not fair going against some comps. For instance, we went against this Pally+Warrior team on Ring of Valor, and I know what you're thinking (oh come on, you're a caster on RoV, how is that fair!?) but it turned out to be tougher to keep someone locked down long enough to try and nuke 'em than I thought. Eventually, we caught the Pally as a pillar was dropping with Typhoon into HoJ while I pelted Eclipsed Wraths into him and at some point just below 50%, they started critting for 10k a piece.

Now, I don't know how familiar many of you are with Boomkin. Boomkin is a spec that lives and dies around Crits; if you get crits, you cast faster, and subsequently nuke "harder". So, when your Wraths are critting for 10k a piece at 1.01sec casts (lots of haste plus more haste from crits), it only really takes 3 of these in a row to kill something. Guntir ran in (on his pally, mind you) and landed his AoE mini-silence to interrupt a FoL and the pally died before he could bubble.

Long-story-short: we are actually looking for something to run with this. Obviously, Guntir has a Shadow set that would work out well in the arenas (tons of Haste), and if we found a Resto Shammy with any amount of skill at all, we could probably faceroll Owlplay to some high ratings for fun. The trick is finding that skilled Resto shammy who hasn't already facerolled through Bloodlust to the top >_<

Bookmark and Share

Cataclysm Updates and Observations

I was discussing the upcoming changes for the talent trees in Cataclysm in the previous post's comments section, and we hit on an interesting point I felt warranted a post... also I have a bunch of SS's from Cataclysm I wanted to share!

Hybrid builds are DEFINITELY something Blizzard wants to do away with. I'm not going to go out and look for the post, but GC basically said that those 45/12/13 builds that get everything needed in PvP are unsupported and basically a "clever use of game mechanics" which cannot be nerfed strictly for PvP.

Here's a GREAT example:

In WotLK Beta, Guntir and I were running 2v2s a lot, and we started noticing a trend: Ret+HRet was basically unstoppable. Both of them had infinite mana, the Ret put out insane damage, and they both had Repentance (if you don't want to go back to those posts, JotW used to return 33% total mana, not base, so Holy Pallies went that deep into the Ret tree because there were a lot of "crit increased by 5%" talents to pick up on the way... you'd still be an amazing healing AND you couldn't OOM... plus another CC!).

Long-story-short, they changed JotW to be based on the paladin's base mana so that Holy Pallies wouldn't spec Ret to heal.

With the way the early talent trees in Cataclysm were shaping up, Resto Druids were going to have access to both Feral Charge (Bear), possibly Brutal Impact (for a 10s Kick and 30% increased mana cost on spells for 10 seconds), and definitely Solar Beam... it was going to be insane.

With the new trees, hybrid builds are dead. No one is arguing about this yet, but keep in mind that this means that Rogues will no longer have access to Preparation unless they ARE Shadowstep... yeah... this change has far-reaching ramifications beyond the hybrids... in most cases it actually hurts the pures MORE than hybrids.

That last sentence is a pretty big claim; it is truly unclear how I can make such a bold statement without some facts to back it up. Obviously, the Shadowstep example is one which really encapsulates the issue, but there are many MANY more examples of this hurting pure specs more than hybrids:

1) Only Survival Hunters will have access to Scatter Shot
2) Only BM Hunters No Hunters will have access to Intimidation (Pet stun) anymore.
3) Only Arcane Mages will have access to Improved Counterspell (that's the ONLY way CS acts as a silence, otherwise it's a giant, long-ranged kick... that's right... a Frost Nerf; ever thought you'd see the day?)

We even see that some HYBRIDS are hurt more than others... but really only the hybrids with more than one tree devoted to the same role (so DKs have 2 melee dps trees, as do Warriors, etc):

1) Arms Warriors cannot get Piercing Howl anymore... that's right, no more AoE Snare for Arms Warriors.
2) While this isn't related to the talent tree mash-ups: Warriors no longer have Unrelenting Assault, so no more double-MS on targets!

Long-story-short: none of the trees are "done", that much is sure, but the one thing we CAN take from this is that this only hurts the specializations which were not specialized to the granularity Blizzard wanted. Further, Blizzard WANTS specs to be specialized along the lines of 31/10 builds, as is evident by how the new talent trees are designed.

Q: Do you know which specs this helps the most?
A: Singular hybrid specs. That is, Hybrids who have only ONE tree for ONE role:

1) Feral - We always go 0/6x/1x at the moment... which really easily translates to a 31/10 build in Cataclysm because there are only 2/3 talents in Resto that Ferals have ANY interest in, and zero talents in Balance (now that we cannot get Lunar Beam with off-the-wall builds).

2) Boomkin - Again, not much going on in Resto that Boomkins want to get.
3) Enhancement
4) Elemental
5) ... MAYBE Retribution ... but there are some neat looking Prot talents, so it's hard to say that Prot and Ret are two different roles JUST YET. I hope we don't have to deal with an OP Protret in Cataclysm, but Protribution specs are interesting if balanced.

It's funny, really, when you look at this change. The new talent trees say "you have to specialize in ONE effective tree," which somewhat pigeonholes some specs which rely on picking up the best from every tree. Again, this ONLY happens routinely in PvP environments because pures have 2-3 trees which all perform the same role, but have many goodies to use (Mages particularly come to mind, but even Warlocks and Rogues). To a lesser-extent, hybrids with multiple trees which perform the same roles ALSO get hit by this nerf-bat. Hybrids who specialize in a single role with a single tree are going to get treated as-is... nerfs really aren't in the future without directly nerfing the spec, and I simply don't see Enhance, Feral, etc getting nerfed out-right.

Here are some Cataclysm screenshots I took last night:


Shred is only 40 energy! I did not bother looking into this normally, but I have the sneaking suspicion that Shred is normally 50 energy, but once you've spent 31 points in the Feral tree, its cost is reduced to 40 energy. Again, do NOT quote me on this, but it's a hunch of mine.

A big ol' Ferocious Bite crit without a Feral weapon (again, scales around AP, so the difference would not be huge, but it's still rather meaningful.

Solar Beam looks kinda boring... but it's got a 16y radius... it's HUGENORMOUS!

Bookmark and Share

New Cataclysm Build (12479)


There really hasn't been enough changes to the Druid trees to comment on... to quote Guntir on Skype last night:

"Errything's broked!"

I got an email from the Blizzard folks regarding my banhammer... it's rough. I put the info on the Banhammer page, check it out and pity me :-(

Also, I had 2-3 people email me directly and suggest they were going to protest on the forums in favor of my appeal. Two things: first, that makes me look like an asshole for allowing you guys to go out and annoy the forums; and second, you will probably get the banhammer, yourself, if you were to discuss banning (read the Blizzard Forums CoC; it's expressly forbidden :-x ).

If something amazing happens, I will post it (and if anyone has questions, email/comment here ... the comments send me emails btw), but so far it looks like we are knee-deep in the "WotLK is dead... waiting for Cataclysm" down-period. Hopefully Blizz posts another Beta Build soon and has some Druid stuff... because this one just doesn't work.

Along with the new build, the new 31-point trees are up for browsing at WoWTal.

I just got in, I'm exhausted... but I'll have a review up before too long...

Haha... well that didn't take too long, did it?

It makes some sense as there are only 41 points to spend, but Blizzard really DID strip the talent trees down into nothingness.

Here are the Druid talent trees in their mini-fied glory; they almost look sad compared to the complexity we are used to. You can tell that they are in an early-stage of development, as some talents simply make no sense in the context of having 3 talent points only (Furor comes to mind here... 6% chance to generate 6 rage when going Bear Form... that dog won't hunt).

The lack of choice or cost of choice makes coming up with interesting talent builds a thing of the past. Essentially, you throw 31 or more points into your tree (don't try too hard... there really are enough points for everything) then look around and see if there exists any other talent you want. I am not sure how I feel about this change at the moment; it seems like they are trying to remove choice from the game in the way of specialization. No one can come up with hybrid builds now because we are forced to go 31 points into a tree before spending points anywhere else, and while that makes it easier to balance the leveling game (and maybe even end-game), it puts a damper on creativity.

If you go back a few posts ago, I was discussing the upcoming talent trees and how interesting they were going to be. I discussed about four or five possible Feral talent builds, some of which were rather off-the-wall and picking up talents like Solar Beam which were at the 10-point-tier of Balance. The ability to make these types of choices was an interesting facet to specialization and the overall game at a general level. Now, it feels like I am being told how to play my character based solely on the specialization I choose, and while it makes the discrepancy between "pure" and "hybrid" that much less in terms of roles, it actually gives the former a bigger space to expand.

What do I mean by this? Look at this Feral build I came up with for PvP (laughable, all Cat Builds will look remarkably similar to this):

Cat PvP Build

The only choice I made in this tree is picking up 3/3 Perseverance instead of 2/2 Improved Feral Charge and another point in Primal Madness. This is the ONLY choice, in reality; I have picked up all the solid damage-dealing talents and still went wanting (I actually sat around going "wait, I have Endless Carnage and Survival Instincts now... I have to spend more points to get deeper?").

Again, this may all sound extremely critical, but as I said before, I have not yet made up my mind on whether this change will be good or bad. The Mastery System is not yet finalized, it is still rather unclear how/when one acquires abilities like Mangle or even whether Shred is going to become baseline 40 energy or Mangle become baseline 34 energy (likely, the Ferocity talent will become the all-encompassing energy-reduction talent and 3/3 will mean 5 energy off of Rake/Mangle and 10 energy off of Ravage/Shred... but we will just have to wait and see).

I did not have time to actually get onto the Beta realm to check this implementation out, but you can make my words, I will have stuff to talk about tomorrow.

EDIT1: I just went through the Feral Tree again after having a cup of coffee. This is kind of funny to think about:

1) Our PvE-Crit-Immunity talent is gone.
2) Improved Leader of the Pack is no where to be seen though we know we need a passive mana-recovery tool.
3) Primal Fury does not even mention Critical Strikes in Cat Form, let alone them giving an extra combo point.

I know that there were a LOT of changes and everything is still up in the air for the moment (and you should check back a few times today in case more information spills out to explain these odd goings-on), but this just seems hack-n-slash for the moment. seems to be missing a LOT at the moment (for instance, Improved Feral Charge still does not have Feral Charge as a prerequisite).

EDIT2: I might move this edit to the top, as it is rather important, but just gleaned this from the official patch notes:

While this is a first pass on all of the talent trees, death knight, druid, paladin, warlock, Arcane mage, and Assassination rogue trees are not as far along as other specializations.

So, as I said above, this is just a first pass and the devs will be making alterations as needed.

Bookmark and Share

There We Go!

You may have noticed an ugly little link-bar at the top of the posts section now (which interestingly links to the banhammer page even though it's directly to the right...). Well, I have finished the Cataclysm FAQ section and you SHOULD be able to post comments there or ask questions to me directly about things which you are concerned about for Cataclysm. I plan on putting YouTube links there illustrating demonstrable abilities/talents in action.

Really, I remember being excluded from the Wrath of the Lich King beta until the very end (literally, like the last 2 weeks of beta) and wanting all these questions answered, but no single beta tester took the time to address the non-beta community. I did not like it, shocking thought that may sound. Therefore, I warmly welcome all questions which I can test on the Beta server, and I will post all the responses back to the FAQ section to keep it up-to-date. "Does Skull Bash still charge the target as of build X?" Etc.

We have not had a warrior to run 3s with in quite a while now. Admittedly, it was mainly my fault as Merkcity started running with two friends of his doing Disc+RDruid+War to try and help them hit 2200 (which they are very close to accomplishing), but he did not start playing with these guys until directly after my telling Seere that he probably would not be needed until we hit 2200 with Merk... so Seere has not logged on in ~3 weeks, and Merk is no longer playing with us.

So, we had been running 2v2s as Disc+Feral again thinking that it would be just a matter of time before one of them would become available again. I was sitting on enough points to buy the T2 Feral Staff, so it was really just as soon as we could get the time to grind the 2200 up, we would. After a few weeks, I was sitting at ~9800 arena points and it was a Monday night... meaning that I was going to get ~1000 arena points, and really only get 200 because the cap is 10,000. So, I did what anyone would do in my situation:

I bought boomkin gear.

Now, I have been grinding off-pieces for my Boomkin set (which is not amazing, but I'm wearing 4 pieces of Wrathful and only really missing the weapon, offhand, and pants) and noticing how asinine Boomkin is. The damage output is laughable, the burst can be set up to literally drop houses on people (I have been in BGs and dropped a Starfall crit with the Berserking buff for 16k in PvP gear), and the rotation is much MUCH easier than Feral.

So, I got to thinking, I want to continue PvP'ing, but I want to branch out a bit. Someone linked this video in the WoW Forums (before my ban) and I thought it was entirely TOO hilarious to bypass:

Katrina Cleave, named for obvious reasons, is all about 4x Starfalls, 12x Tree Posse, and unhealable nukes during Bloodlust... oh yeah and Typhoon is hilarious if you use it right. I was sitting in Trade thinking about how fun this might be and just threw it out there:

"2200 Boomkin LF Katrina Cleave 5s team, PST"

I got a couple tells from some other druids asking "What is Katrina Cleave?" So, I explained "Katrina Cleave is a 5s comp which is 4x Moonkins and 1x Resto Shammy... you run in, pop all your CDs, and collect your points... super-fun, super-easy, and possible to hit high-ratings with."

Well, before you know it, I'm on a 5s team again (Katrina Cleave, yeah, they stole the name but it's apt so whatever). We ran 19 games last night before dinner and went 13-6 against mostly 1700-rated teams. The one thing I will say about the guys on that team is that most of them are worse-geared than I am, and while I'm dropping the most damage most the time, I need to play more aggressively with CCs.

I don't know about any of the other guys' experience in the Arena, but I will calling things like "That Pally needs to get Cycloned now... do it" or "Typhoon that rogue off the side to get him off the shammy" etc and it takes longer than I would expect (at 2200) it to take. Not a huge deal, we are all learning the comp after all, but it means that I will end up having to run in, pop Starfall with the rest, hit Tree posse with the rest, then start Cycloning healers and THEN Typhooning to make space. Again, this isn't a huge deal, but it definitely cost us a match or two... along with my improper calling out of targets - Katrina Cleave is all about Starfall killing basically everyone at the same time while we pick a healer and train him down in addition to the Starfall.

We had a few matches on Dalaran Sewers (our best map by far) which started with us running in, popping Starfall, popping trees, and then just chain-Typhoon'ing the Shammy so he could not cast a single heal while he is eating Starfall and Wraths. We had a couple matches against Paladins where we killed him before he could hit bubble.

Long-story-short: Katrina Cleave is hilarious, and we're going to milk how OP multi-starfall is for as long as we can, but it's total-cheese.

Another thing we are looking into at the moment is running a new Spellcleave 3v3s team. Something like "Disc+Ele+Boomkin" or perhaps "RShammy+Shadow+Boomkin". Personally, I think that "Disc+Frost+Boomkin" might be the best way to go, just because of all the CC it would bring to the table on-demand, but Starfall breaks Polymorph, so it is hard to tell. Guntir is convinced that Disc is the worst healer for Spellcleave teams at the moment unless you have insane peels, which Boomkin+Ele and Boomkin+Frost would... oh well. Guntir needs to start buying some Crit gear with his arena points to make a real Shadow set so we can run RShammy+Shadow+Boomkin, I think that would be the best team.

Bookmark and Share

Ya ya... Stop Bugging Me!

Yes... I said I would have a post up on some stuff from the Cataclysm Beta. Yes, I said I would have it up last Friday. Yes... shut up... I have actually been rather busy at work... jees.

Okay, let's talk turkey for a moment... I am in the beta testing things out right now, and I have so many questions/answers that I cannot possibly keep posting them day after day. Instead, I am currently working on a "Cataclysm FAQ" page where I will post updates to abilities, talent changes, etc as I find them. In addition, this will leave me with a consolidated page to 1) receive questions about the Beta which I can test/answer, and 2) to answer those questions in a clean way and add them to the FAQ.

So, it would have something like:

Does Skull Bash (either form) actually charge your target as the tooltip suggests?

and I could have a simple answer: "yes, it actually has an 18y range, charges your target, interrupts for 5 seconds if they were casting, and places a 10 second duration physical debuff on the target increasing their casting cost by 30% if you have 2/2 Brutal Impact," and have a link to my YouTube account video of it in action on the Beta Realm.

Long-story-short: this FAQ page is in the works... it should be up soonish (although, again I am extremely busy at the moment).

Then, after this FAQ page goes up, I will basically be left to discuss differences and new beta builds et al on the front page; things like "new talent trees as of build 12312" or "build 12312 means Skull Bash implementation" or "build 14142 raises level cap to 85." So, look forward to that; it will be rather obvious when it goes live (likely to be linked at-or-near the top of this page).

Bookmark and Share

RealID Continued

Here is a post from the CEO of Blizzard Entertainment:

Hello everyone,

I'd like to take some time to speak with all of you regarding our desire to make the Blizzard forums a better place for players to discuss our games. We've been constantly monitoring the feedback you've given us, as well as internally discussing your concerns about the use of real names on our forums. As a result of those discussions, we've decided at this time that real names will not be required for posting on official Blizzard forums.

It's important to note that we still remain committed to improving our forums. Our efforts are driven 100% by the desire to find ways to make our community areas more welcoming for players and encourage more constructive conversations about our games. We will still move forward with new forum features such as conversation threading, the ability to rate posts up or down, improved search functionality, and more. However, when we launch the new StarCraft II forums that include these new features, you will be posting by your StarCraft II character name + character code, not your real name. The upgraded World of Warcraft forums with these new features will launch close to the release of Cataclysm, and also will not require your real name.

I want to make sure it's clear that our plans for the forums are completely separate from our plans for the optional in-game Real ID system now live with World of Warcraft and launching soon with StarCraft II. We believe that the powerful communications functionality enabled by Real ID, such as cross-game and cross-realm chat, make a great place for players to stay connected to real-life friends and family while playing Blizzard games. And of course, you'll still be able to keep your relationships at the anonymous, character level if you so choose when you communicate with other players in game. Over time, we will continue to evolve Real ID on to add new and exciting functionality within our games for players who decide to use the feature.

In closing, I want to point out that our connection with our community has always been and will always be extremely important to us. We strongly believe that Every Voice Matters, ( ) and we feel fortunate to have a community that cares so passionately about our games. We will always appreciate the feedback and support of our players, which has been a key to Blizzard's success from the beginning.

Mike Morhaime
CEO & Cofounder
Blizzard Entertainment

The funny part here is that I got permabanned the day before they announced that RealID was going to NOT be mandatory in the forums, thus no names will be shown... which is exactly what I was petitioning for the day I got banned.


Bookmark and Share



I have moved my banning ordeal information into the link at the side-portlet called "Banhammer". It counts the days since my forum ban and has a link to all the information I have on the matter. This blog is more focused on in-game and upcoming changes than my dealings with Blizzard bureaucracy. That being said, I will have an update later today on some of the other things I tested briefly yesterday in the Cataclysm beta.

I know that this subject is getting beaten to death on the forums and even reputable news outlets are getting in on the action... but I read this from an anonymous level 1 alt and I had to say, it moved me:

Bobby Kotick spins in his chair "Welcome Young gamer, I have been expecting you. you no longer need those"

Kotick gestures and the bindings over your keyboard fall off.

Kotick says "game developers.. leave us."

The developers leave the room.

Kotick says "I am looking forward to completing the game testing, in time you will call me... game MASTER"

You say "you're gravely mistaken, I won't be converted to facebook the way you turned my guild."

Kotick says "Oh no my young gamer you will find it is YOU who are mistaken... about a great many things.."

Ghostcrawler deeply says "His cata beta key"

Ghostcrawler hands the beta key to Kotick.

Kotick says "ahh yes, a gamer's weapon. Much like your guildies, by now you must know your guildies can never leave wow, so will it be with you"

You say "You're wrong, soon my charecter will be gone and your game with me"

Kotick laughs "Perhaps you're referrin to the emminent attack on our servers from our outraged fans? Yesss... I assure you, our servers are quite safe from their pitiful attempts"

You speak "Your overconfidence is your weakness"

Kotick turns "Your faith in blizzard is yours"

Ghostcrawler deeply says "You should join facebook, it is pointless to resist.. my friend"

Kotick says "Everything that has transpired has done so according to my design. You're friends over there posting on the forums are walking into a trap. As is anyone else who uses it. It was I who allowed the community to find out about the facebook integration early. It is quite safe from your... pitiful attempts to hack into it. An entire legion of the world's best hackerz would be needed to get in. Oh, i'm afraid the servers will be quite operational when the game goes live..." Kotick leans back and smiles.

Everyone in the room looks over at the beta tester's playing the game.

Kotick states "come boy, see for yourself. from here you will witness the final destruction of WoW, and the end of your insignificant guild"

You look down at the beta key beside him.

Kotick states "Oh you want this don't you?"

Kotick carresses the beta key.

He says "The envy is swelling in you now, take your beta key. Use it. That computer is unused. warn your guildies in game, give in to your anger. With each passing moment you become more my servant."

You say "no..."

Kotick leans forward "It is unavoidable. You, like your guildies... are now mine."

He says "as you can see my young gamer, your guildies names are now mine. now witness the full hacking ability of this fully developed and operational system. Troll at will gamers!"

One gamer stands up at a booth "This forums using my real name... the credit scam is operational!"

Another gamer stands up at an adjacent booth "All gamer's prepare to cancel wow accounts!"

Gamer 1 says "You may not get another chance to tell them what you think, this may be your only shot. We gotta give it more time"

Gamer 2 yells "We have no choice! Blizzard cannot repel trolling of this magnitude!"

Kotick looks back and chuckles before saying "Your game is lost. and your guildies info is now open. There is no escaping from facebook my young gamer. The WoW will die, and your guildies will leave."

Kotick closes his eyes and uses the force. "Goood I can feel your anger. That pc is still unused, take the beta key. Plug it in and you're journey to battle-net will be complete."

You look away, look back and snag the key only to find Ghostcrawler is now occupying the pc.

Kotick laughs as you throw Ghostcrawler off the keyboard.

He says "gooooooood let the desire to play flow through you."

Ghostcrawler stands and calmly states "Nin-tendo Wii has taught you well."

You say "Your thoughts betray you ghostcralwer, i feel the desire to save WoW, the conflict.

Ghostcrawler says "there is no conflict"

You respond "You couldn't bring yourself to ban me from the forums before and I don't think you will now"

He says "You underestimate the power of the facebook deal, If you will not join then you will be banned!"

He bans your pc but you manage to hide in another booth watching another tester play.

He looks around the room to no avail before saying "You cannot hide forever gamer. Give yourself over to the battlenet, it is the only way to join your friends. Yes... your thoughts betray you. Your feelings for them are strong, especially for... sister... yesss you have a sisster that has facebook. Soooo you have a twin sister that uses facebook? Your feelings have now betrayed her too. Nin-tendo Wii was right to hide her from me. Now it's failure to entertain is complete. If you will not turn to the battlenet, then perhaps she will."

You scream "NOOO!" before jumping up to fight Ghostcrawler for the last Pc beta spot. During the fight you manage to break his pc.

Ghostcrawler moans "arrrggbh"

Kotick chuckles "Gooood. Your desire to play has made you powerful. Now, fulfill your destiny. Take his place as head developer at my side."

You throw away the beta key and state "Never! I'll never turn from WoW! You failed your kotickness. I am a wow player, like my guildies before me."

Kotick coldly looks at you and states... "So be it... gamer, if you will not be turned.. you will be destroyed!" Kotick attacks and leaves you crippled from the tracing of IP on the the permaban.

He says "young fool... only now at the end do you understand the power of the battlenet" He attacks again. "Your feeble WoW expansions are no match for the power of Activision. You will pay the price for your lack of vision. and now my young gamer... you will die"

You writhe in pain "Ghostcrawlerrr pleeeease don't let him ruin wow!" You writhe in agony.

Kotick says "and now young gamer, you will die!" Attacks with the finishin touches on the IP ban.


Ghostcrawler looks back and forth before picking up Kotick and throwing him into the WoW cata forums. Faintly, you both can hear Kotick screaming as he is harrassed to death.

Ghostcrawler weakly falls over and feebily says "Gamer, tell your fellow gamers.. blizzard was saved"

You respond "But Ghostcrawler, you'll be fired and banned?"

He responds "Nothing can stop that now.. Just for once, let me be one of the gamers.. on my own terms..."

You nod and stand up.

He says "Now go... my gamer... leave me."

You say "No Ghostcrawler you're coming with me I'll not leave you to be fired I've got to save you.

He smiles "You already have, you were right about me. You already have. Tell your sister not to use battlenet.."

A party is held in the gaming world for hours as music and celebration is infinite as blizzard is saved from the might of the evil empire.

/que star wars end music.

Bookmark and Share

Beta Updates

So, I get the Cata invite around 8am yesterday morning, I rush home (luckily I work ~5 minutes from my house) and get on my computer and start the installer. It says "Cataclysm will require about 16GB of free disk space, proceed?" I hit my SSD info and see what I got... ~10GB free... hmmm. Okay, I uninstall the following:

Half-Life 2
Half-Life 2: Episode 1
Half-Life 2: Episode 2
Counter-Strike Source

Suddenly, I have around 22GB of free space available. Baller, I agree with the installer's 50 dialogs and start the download. It says "1.2Mb/s of 2.24GB" ... hmm, must be something like that is just for the full installer or the compressed files of the basic Cataclysm and there will be a hundred patches or whatever. So, I go back to work.

Skip ahead to 3PM when I get home. I pull up to my desk and see an error message... GREAAAAAT! It doesn't make a lot of sense to me, but then I just click it closed and a new message appears "Failed to Apply Patch blah blah blah." Okay, that makes sense... it fills me with rage, but it makes sense. I click "play" on the launcher, it starts trying to apply the patch again, and see the problem immediately: disk space reports on my SSD says "142MB available."

... wat!? Damn, this thing is huge! So, I offload this monster onto a secondary HDD that has around 80GB available, and it patches fine... now it only has 40GB available. What was the problem? What happened to that estimated 15GB of disk space required? Well, I completely forgot that this is not coming off of a DVD (or multiple DVDs in this case) and is actually downloading each patch and applying them. The patches themselves are a gigabyte or two in size themselves, then they make the game a gigabyte or two larger once applied... it's actually ABOUT double the estimate unless you delete each patch as its applied, which I was not because it was getting auto-applied/run for me while I was at work.

Long-story-short: I got the Beta client up and running with a Druid to test and a Priest for Guntir to test at around 7PM when we got back from dinner.

The very first thing I noticed when I logged in... there's no Feral weapon in my bags. I have caster gear and feral gear, but no Feral weapon. BAH... okay, well I can, if nothing else, assume that my Shreds/Mangles/etc will be hitting a LOT harder than my 99DPS caster dagger.

The second thing I noticed when I logged in: Orgrimmar is BEAUTIFULLY redesigned. Here is a youtube link of some guy who is showing you around; it's definitely worth the watch. For your information, Thunder Bluff, Undercity, etc have not really been redesigned as much as Orgrimmar has, but there are small changes.

Okay, let's talk about abilities and talents and what-not:

Skull Bash
Ridiculously overpowered for PvP at the moment... you can simply assume that this ability will never make it to live in its current implementation. Just write it off as "will be nerfed into oblivion later" and you will be less annoyed when it inevitably happens. Currently, Skull Bash DOES have an 18-yard range, DOES charge you to your opponent (rather nicely... better than Feral Charge Cat, for instance), DOES interrupt their school for 5 seconds on a 10 second cooldown, and DOES put a PHYSICAL DEBUFF on the target which causes their spell cost to be increased by 30% for 10 seconds with 2/2 Brutal Impact.

Again, Skull Bash is NOT going to stay as-is; there is just no way Blizzard is going to leave Ferals with an interrupt that also charges the opponent and puts arguably one of the best healing debuffs in the game on them on a 10-second cooldown. Could you imagine Warriors with a 10 second CD on Charge? Remember when it was 12 seconds??? People went crazy! If I had to guess, I would say that the charge-component is going to go away, and hopefully that is it. As I say, Skull Bash + Brutal Impact may be the new best healer-debuff in the game, and it interrupts a school for 5 seconds if you interrupt them... this is borderline OP, but I think it might be just strong enough to slide beneath the radar if Blizz is more concerned with the charge-component than the rest.

Like I was telling Guntir last night: "If they give us some RIDICULOUSLY overpowered abilities early-on in Beta, then the hope is that they will be nerfed to the point where it qualms all the QQers but still ends up being extremely strong... just 'less strong' than it was in Beta."

Rip/Rake (and lesser - Pounce)
These abilities have not had their scaling from attack power reworked as of yet. This is not entirely a huge concern of mine, but it definitely puts a damper on testing (though, without a Feral weapon, it would not largely matter either way). Additionally, Rip/Rake/Pounce do NOT currently benefit from Haste. I have about 16% haste in the T10 Feral set they started me with, and there are still only 5 ticks in Rake and 8 ticks in Rip (without glyphs and whatnot; 5 ticks on Rake because of Endless Carnage... so awesome). One thing I did not really check is whether Rake/Rip/Pounce innately have the ability to tick critically. I AM wearing the 4PT10 bonus, so it could very well be that Rake is only critically ticking because of that, but I want to be sure; I will post back here when I have confirmed that.

Maybe this should be under a "Haste" heading, it's hard to tell. Energy regeneration SEEMS to benefit from Haste at the moment, but it is EXTREMELY unclear exactly how. For instance, I energy-starved myself (using Ferocious Bite at ~35 energy) and immediately hitting the "go" button on the in-game stop-watch, and it took right around 8.5 seconds to get entirely back to 100 energy.

Under normal conditions today, we regenerate energy at 10 energy per second, meaning that after 10 seconds at 0 energy, we should be full again. With 15% haste, it seems that we regenerate energy 15% faster (do the maths, it takes 1.5 seconds less than normal to regenerate the same amount of energy, at 10 seconds, 1.5 seconds is 15% of that... etc etc). This is an extremely nice and balanced way of causing Haste to scale our energy regeneration. It will still have to be seen how haste rating scales at 85, but if we can expect something like 10-20% haste on PvP gear, then the energy-return will be nice.

Ferocious Bite
FB is now overpowered.

Do you think BG-heroes complain about FB now? Wait until they see this monster implementation. I mentioned in the "NDA is lifted, here's info" post that FB had the curious change of "extra energy consumed up to 35 causing UP TO 100% bonus damage."

I tested this with ~3.5k attack power in Cat Form (I know... doesn't that just sound weird? I'm rocking like 10k right now, going to less than 4k just feels dirty somehow) and a caster dagger and offhand, and FB was critting the Heroic Training Dummy for... wait for it... about 6k at 35 energy, and around 17k at 70 energy. Perhaps that number doesn't do it justice; let's try this: seventeen-thousand damage on an FB crit without having a Feral weapon equipped. Admittedly, FB is one of those abilities which scales 100% from Attack Power and has nothing to do with weapon damage, so it will not change much if I were equipping Heroic Oathbinder or nothing at all... the Attack Power difference is rather small, but not completely ignorable.

I know there will be more... I didn't have a chance to test some things I really wanted to like NomNomNom or target-bouncing (using FCC then SB and going back and forth between targets) because Guntir wanted a shot at testing out Disc which is pretty cool... Power Word: Barrier is ESSENTIALLY Anti-Magic Zone, except it works with all damage, not just magic.

I was thinking that I would put up some video reviews, maybe start a YouTube channel and link them here... I don't know how useful that would be, but I went searching for a Skull Bash video last night and could not find one for the life of me... so I figured I am as well-equipped as anyone to do so... might as well, right?

Bookmark and Share

Cataclysm Beta

I'm in... gunna post stuff tomorrow (probably) after I get to play around a bit; the installer is downloading and installing and w/e at home right now... I can hardly wait!

SWEET TAP-DANCING CHRIST... check this noise out!

Okay... this is all relatively new information, but here is what I am understanding about this change (31-point builds):

1) You will gain a talent point every other level, or thereabout, giving everyone exactly 41 talent points to spend at level 85.

2) Each talent tree is being COMPLETELY redesigned (read: redesigned in this case means many talents are getting scrapped or lowered in cost... they aren't changing "Feral" into "Bear" for instance or "Prot"... it'll still be Feral-centric, but the talents will be redesigned/changed/dropped/added).

3) Each talent tree's best talent tier will be 31 (again). That is... 31 in Feral means you will have Berserk.

4) Once you spend 1 talent in a tree, it is your "specialization" until you have spent 31-points in it. This means that from 1 talent point until you have 31 points in a tree, you cannot spend a talent point in another tree (if you put 1 in Feral, you cannot spend another point in Resto UNTIL you have spent 31 in Feral...)

5) Most of the abilities in the talent trees are going away in favor of learned skills. That is, Mangle will no longer be in the Feral tree; instead, when you put 1 point into the Feral tree, you will train the ability Mangle from the Druid Class Trainer at level X, and if you respec to Balance/Resto specializations, you will lose Mangle from your spellbook until you spec back into Feral.

6) Mastery is no longer gained by spending more talent points in a given tree; instead, you train "Mastery" at level 75, and depending on your specialization, you ... okay I don't get this bit.

The blues have JUST announced this system, and say it will be implemented (or mostly implemented) in another Beta build or two... so you can bet that I will have the skinny on that as soon as it's up. Let's talk about the implications of this for a moment:

This change REALLY makes me feel like Feral is going to be the strongest of all the hybrids.


While every spec in the game is going to be forced to specialize into a single role, Feral is actually going to be forced to specialize TWO roles: Cat and Bear. Unless Blizz changes everything around and makes WAY more talent choices in the Feral tree than any other tree and allows a full Bear build vs. a full Cat build, we are going to run into the situation where Cat/Bear largely overlap and provide their own benefits to the maximum.

The other interesting aspect here is the Mastery Bonus... unless Blizz implements some way of discerning a Cat from a Bear via talent specialization, we will get both Mastery bonuses, making Bear Form a viable tank as a Cat spec. I really cannot see anyway Blizz can implement this without cries for nerfs going out far and wide for Ferals... we're getting the ONLY 2-for-1 deal in WoW, it seems at this point.

Again... I will have more info about abilities and what-not tomorrow (if everything goes to plan)... but take it with a grain of salt, as the Cataclysm is ripping much more than the world asunder.

Bookmark and Share

I'm Back... Let's Talk Catalysm PvP!

Okay, Guntir and I went to Oklahoma to visit family for the weekend and we spent a little time discussing some early-on thoughts about Cataclysm. We talked about teams, synergy, debuffs, buffs, cc, and various other facets of PvP that will be interesting in Cataclysm, and how they would come into play. Keeping in mind that this is just Beta and EVERYTHING is likely to change, we came up with some interesting ideas and findings. First things first, let's talk about our assumptions, as these are usually the first to change (or simply be incorrect):

1) HP pools will be much larger in Cataclysm. We haven't seen ANY of the PvP gear for the first season of arenas yet... and we certainly haven't even see the level 85 gear, but this is something that Blizz keeps touting; the gear will be about the same damage output but TONS more HP to make PvP less about global'ing people and more about skillful play and control and damage and positioning and etc. What can we take from this? Well, for one, Priests are going to be less trainable, as they will be able to actually live through a train and heal back up if the opposing team shoots their wad and cannot down the priest in the opener. Think about how a TSG that cannot kill a Priest in Brostorm+Strangulate+HoJ combos... what happens? They lose, that's what.

2) Armor differences are going to be less of an impact in PvP. What does that mean? Well, presumably that means that Cloth will have MORE armor on it, and plate will have about the same or maybe a little more. This is a two-fold assumption... Blizz has stated that it's lame that Pallies are the best starting healers simply by virtue of being able to live through melees better than every other healer, and so they plan on making the difference in armor between classes less weighted in favor of plate. Obviously, plate will still have more armor for tanking purposes, but cloth will not be left in the state of having essentially no armor. This means that Guntir will be less-trainable, Cat Form will have more armor innately, and overall Feral+Disc+something will be a stronger comp in terms of survivability because of this.

3) Mana efficiency... this is going to be the big-ticket item. Essentially, if PvP battles are NOT won in a blanket silence or a CC-chain, then matches come down to either out-playing your opponents (by forcing a player to dip, then landing a good CC-chain giving you enough time to actually land a kill) or playing the mana-game and outlasting your opposing healer's mana pool.

What does this all mean? Well, the idea here is that because Innervate has been nerfed for Ferals (and it has... if you haven't read the tooltip, it has been changed to returning 33% of the casting Druid's TOTAL mana, as opposed to being a huge multiplier on the base... that means a smaller MP-pool means less mana to give... 33% of my 7k mana is not much for Guntir on a 3min CD), we will not have an auto-win against teams which cannot dispel any longer.

However, the Skull Bash + Brutal Impact combo adds an interesting flair to the scene. If Guntir cannot be easily killed (and for these purposes, let us say that all matches go to the mana-game and the first healer to OOM loses), then being able to keep a 30% increased mana-cost on a healer will be absolutely AMAZING... as it essentially forces that opponent to OOM 30% faster. This is a NEW talent/ability/debuff/whatever, and as far as I can tell, it is unique to Ferals at this point of the talent-trees. FINALLY, we have something unique to us that is not completely worthless (horray Soothe Beast, amirite?) and actually might be a staple of the PvP-scene to come.

Let me put it this way... if the MS-effect (which will only be 25% reduced healing received for all classes wielding the debuff) is mandatory now, then it will DEFINITELY be mandatory in Cataclysm if games go to mana-wars. Essentially, their long-cast efficient heals will be healing for less, and thus will require more healing in the long-run... means more mana spent in the long-run... means better-equipped in the mana-war. Therefore, if you can make their spells cost 30% more all the time and they CANNOT make your healer's spells cost more... then you have a distinct advantage in the mana war... right?

More to the point... this means that mana-war-centric debuffs will be all the rage in Cataclysm Arenas, right? Curse of Tongues, MS, and this new "your spells cost more" Skull Bash + Brutal Impact debuff... therefore, when we are making a 3s team, we will want it to be the team which best-utilizes as many of these debuffs as possible.

The comp I had mentioned to Guntir initially needs to bring the most mana-war debuffs/abilities:

1) Mana Burn (duh)
2) Skull Bash + Brutal Impact (the increased cost of spells coupled with an interrupt is going to be HUGE in this scene)
3) Curse of Tongues (makes it harder to use the efficient spells because they take so much longer to cast)
4) MS-effect (makes it less effective to use the inefficient spells because they are reduced in effect by 25%)

Well, Mana Burn and Skull Bash are Disc+Feral, obviously, but is there a single class which brings BOTH Curse of Tongues and MS?

Answer: YES - Hunters

Aimed Shot is being changed and so is Viper Sting. Aimed Shot is no longer going to provide the MS-effect for Hunters, and instead it will be a new school of spells for Hunters called "Venoms". Similarly, Viper Sting is going away in favor of Viper Venom.

"Viper Venom" is going to simply be Curse of Tongues. It will not have a cooldown, and it will not be in the "Stings" category, so a Hunter can keep it up and Serpent Sting and continue dealing max damage as, say, Marks where Chimera Shot is your go-to nuke.

"Widow Venom" is going to reduce healing effects on the target by 25%, is instant cast, blah blah blah. The only plus here is that this will NOT have a cooldown, so you can effectively keep this debuff up on an opponent, even if they have a dispeller (yes, all Venoms are going to be Poison-type for purposes of dispel mechanics).

The only hitch here is that Hunters cannot keep both venoms up on a target simultaneously, right?

Wrong - Lava Breath is going to be making a comeback in Cataclysm, it would seem. That's right, BM-Hunters can train the Core Hound exotic pet and get the auto-cast Lava Breath ability which is a magic dispel but does not share the same problems that befall Viper Venom. What does that mean? Well, it means quite simply that a BM-hunter will be able to keep both the 30% increased cast-time debuff AND the 25% healing reduction debuff on a target.


This comp has ALL the mana-based debuffs listed above, has good peels by way of Infected Wounds (which will not be auto-dispelled anymore because Cleansing Totem is getting axed) and Frost Trap.

This is all subject to change, of course, but this comp is looking extremely strong given the assumptions we have made about Cataclysm... mana-wars could be won by this comp rather easily, and if Blizz does not change the landscape and these things come to pass... F+BM+D could be one of those "straight to 2400" flavors of the month in early Cataclysm... which is exactly what I am hoping for.

Bookmark and Share

Cataclysm BETA Subtleties

OKAY... Blizzard has officially removed the non-disclosure agreement set on the Cataclysm Alpha because it is officially moving into closed Beta testing... which means that with a little luck (and pulling some strings), I should have a beta key before too long (again... this is the hope, it took them a little bit longer than I expected last time around).

New Abilities

Stampeding Roar - Though announced earlier than the official reading, has been "designed," so it is probably worth mentioning that it STILL looks rather lackluster for nearly everything. It is an ability which costs either 15 rage or 30 energy (which seems like a lot) has a 2 minute cooldown, and only provides people within 10 yards of you (a TINY radius, might I add) a 6 second 40% run speed buff. I am severely underwhelmed by this ability, and so far there are zero talents which affect it in any way... I keep hoping that something amazing happens with it, be it a few talents that Ferals already take making it better in many ways, or just a completely new redesign.

Wild Mushroom - This ability is much more interesting than I had previously thought it would be. Essentially, you have one spell to set up to 5 mushrooms at 40y range with 5hp which become invisible after 4 seconds, and you have another spell to detonate all mushrooms. This seems pretty boring at face value, but Boomkins are getting a talent called Fungal Growth, which will cause these mushrooms to place a 35/70% snare on the ground when they explode... that's right, Boomkins will have Crippling Poison on the ground wherever they want it with essentially no cooldown. The hitch here is going to be the fact that it takes 4 seconds for the mushroom to become invisible and they only have 5 health. In order for a Moonkin to effectively kite with mushrooms, he will likely have to place a mushroom slightly behind him in a PvP setting and immediately detonate it (it seems you can detonate the mushrooms before they turn invisible), thus causing a 70% snare frost-trap thing allowing the moonkin to shift and make some distance... presumably leaving more mushrooms as he goes.

One of the problems with Mushroom-kiting, as I see it is going to be the cost. Using a Mushroom costs 11% of your base mana which is less than Wrath (14% base); however, you are going to have to use an 11% base to plant the mushroom followed by another 11% base to detonate it... making it 2 GCDs and costing more than moonfire. I have not looked into the Balance talents a great deal, but I do not see any talents which reduce the cost, either, so this could be the prohibitive factor for PvP.

Thrash - I do not want to spend much time on this ability because it does not really seem that interesting for PvP; it is a tanking talent plain and simple. You hit Thrash (which is Bear Form only), it hits everyone for a medium amount of damage somewhat like Swipe does, but then also applies a 6second bleed effect to everyone you hit. Sure, this seems like an interesting utility talent for PvP when you are getting trained into Bear Form by a Rogue and another melee or something and you just want to keep him from restealthing for a moment... Thrash... bam. It has a 5 second cooldown, so the up-time in PvE is going to be 100% in most cases of AoE-tanking.

Skull Bash - OKAY, now we are getting to the interesting bit. Let me start by saying "hey... everyone who thinks this is going to be another charge... it's not." The tooltip currently says "18 yard range," but I have confirmed with testers that this simply does not live up to the game-play. It is DEFINITELY melee-range, and it does NOT "charge" the opponent; this text is simply flair for the ability... it is a Kick, plain and simple.

HOWEVER, Blizzard did exactly what I expected them NOT to do: they made Skull Bash baseline for all Druids, but gave it a 1 minute cooldown and a 5 second school lock. I do not want to spoil the surprise, in case you have not perused the talents or my talent-write-up below yet, but suffice it to say that a reasonably deep Feral talent reduces the cooldown to 10 seconds, so Skull Bash is 100% in line with Kick/Mind Freeze. I am simply ECSTATIC about this!

Redesigned Abilities

That's right... a LOT has changed and a LOT of these changes are subtle enough that you might have missed them (I know most of the forums have missed these so far).

Savage Roar - This is an EXTREMELY subtle change to the tooltip wording which is flying under the radar currently, but it basically has changed the words "finishing move that increases physical damage" to "finishing move that consumes combo points on any nearby target." I know, I know... that is REALLY subtle and it might not mean anything beyond what Blizz said about Ferals and Rogues being able to use combo points that remain on a corpse; however, further to that, it may also mean that we no longer require a target to use SR. That is, we may only require someone within 100 yards to HAVE combo points on them... dead or alive... and we can use SR. That would be a nice little change, but hard to manage in, say, BGs or something.

Savage Defense - I find it funny how when the talents and trees get announced, no one really looks at the abilities... and MOST Feral PvP/PvE-cats do not look at tanking talents. That being said, I do... SD has been changed from a 100% proc on crit which gives a 25% AP shield to a 50% proc on crit which gives a STAGGERING 75% AP. This means that with nothing else, my current Bear Form would have a ~5200 shield proc on a crit half the time... spamming swipe (still spammable) would keep this up-time rather high on average with decent gear, but that is a HUGE shield baseline for Ferals... rather nice... except that it is still ONLY physical attacks... I want to faceblock some magic damage please.

Datah pointed out to me on the wow boards that Savage Defense is less appealing than I made it out to be originally... of course I seem to forget that Feral Attack Power goes away in Cataclysm and of course Bear Form gets FAP... so that means much less AP in Bear Form which mean subsequently less faceblock value... that 5k shield is going to be more like a 2k shield when the smoke settles. Apologies for the misinformation.

Faerie Fire (Feral) - I MIGHT have covered this before, but it should be said again... Faerie Fire is now our Sunder Armor. If you look at Sunder Armor, it has been changed to a 3-stack application MAX, and it only reduces armor by 4% per application, just like Feral Faerie Fire does now. That's right... FFF stacks 3-times, keeps units from going stealth/invis, and reduces armor by 12% max. The duration has been cut down a bit to 30 seconds (from 40 in PvP and forever-and-a-day in PvE), but that makes sense given how it now also reduces armor. Still no cost and has a 6 second cooldown, but there are talents in the first-tier of Feral which reduces the cooldown in Bear Form by 1/2/3/4/5 seconds... so you can get this spammable.

Ravage - I know... I could not say anything before the NDA, but I hinted at this ability becoming MUCH stronger. Currently, Ravage costs 60 energy and deals 385% + 1771 damage. No talents affect it on live, and it is basically a waste unless you have the Berserking buff in a BG and you find a mage with 20k hp and you feel like hitting him for 75% of his life. Ravage is changed to 550% and some damage (unknown at highest rank, as of yet... probably about the same), it is affected by Shredding Attacks which means it will only cost 50 energy talented, and it applies Infected Wounds now... all things considered, Ravage has gotten new legs to stand on. It will be interesting to see if this is an ability worth using over Pounce (and maybe that's where Improved Feral Charge becomes amazing), but so far it seems like a strong opener option again.

Feral Charge - Hey... these cannot ALL be good, right? Okay, they gave us Skull Bash which is a 5-sec interrupt and school lock... the first thing I thought was "OH MAN... FC(B) interrupt for 4 seconds, SB for 5, then Bash for another 5 stun... that's SOOOOO much lockout on a short CD!" Alas, it seems that will not be the reality. Feral Charge (Bear) on live has the tooltip of "Causes you to charge an enemy, immobilizing and interrupting any spell being cast for 4 seconds," whereas the FC(B) tooltip in Cataclysm reads: "Causes you to charge an enemy, immobilizing them for 4 seconds." Bye bye interrupt :-(

Cat and Dire Bear Form - I had a STRONG hunch that this would be the case... Cat/Bear currently read "35% base mana," which is a HUGE amount of mana for Ferals since we do not have any int on our gear; however, we have King of the Jungle to reduce that cost by 60% and Natural Shapeshifter to reduce it by 10/20/30% further. In Cataclysm, however, the 60% cheaper Cat/Bear forms was removed from the KotJ tooltip... this is where my hunch was founded.

The tooltips for Cat/Bear Forms in Cataclysm read "5% base mana." That's right... Cat/Bear are going to be DIRT CHEAP... so cheap, in fact, that an Improved Leader of the Pack proc will ALMOST give you enough mana to cover TWO shapeshift costs... BALLER. More on the implications this will have concerning talents like Natural Shapeshifter in the talents section.

Ferocious Bite - This is one of the last abilities for Ferals which has changed... and it is truly subtle. I believe I am the ONLY person who has noticed this, but who knows. Ferocious Bite currently reads "Finishing move that causes damage per combo point and converts each extra point of energy (up to a maximum of 30 extra energy) into [9.4 + AP / 410] additional damage." Okay, that's not amazing, I will admit; however, the new FB reads as follows:

"Finishing move that causes damage per combo point and consumes up to 35 additional energy to increase damage by up to 100%." Wait... wait... wat? Okay, so if I hit you with a 70-energy (notice the max was upped to 35 form 30) Ferocious Bite, it will do TWICE the damage of the same FB at 35-energy... and that is BEFORE crits come into play? Ferocious Bites have the potential to be HUGE in Cataclysm... to put this into perspective, non-crit FBs land on clothies with no resilience for around 8k in full Wrathful gemming for Agility at 35 energy... which means that if the same implementation were to be fired at 70 energy, it would NON-CRIT for around 16k... you go ahead and mull this over... I'll be down below.

Changed Talents

Okay, I'm not going to spend TOO much time going over talent-changes because there were MANY, and I covered most of them in my other Cataclysm post (Holy Cataclysm Talent Trees Batman!). I AM going to put some of the talents which have changed since my last posting, however.

Primal Madness - This was changed... back? ... to the implementation which gives 10/20 energy for the duration when you use Tiger's Fury and Berserk in Cat Form (was 6/12). It seemed a little underpowered at 12 energy, but 20 energy seems like a good fit for two talent points... it is extremely hard to tell whether this will be something worth picking up for PvP, but it will almost certainly be mandatory for PvE Cats. PvP-wise, it looks like it could be useful if it works like an energy-based Last Stand... you hit TF, you gain 60 energy from KotJ, and you gain 20 more energy from Primal Madness... once TF falls off, you lose that 20 energy. The only problem here is that TF only lasts 6 seconds, so you will gain 80 energy, use two Shreds with it, wait two more seconds and use another Shred, and now you are at the 5-second-mark with 10 energy... you're going to get back up to 20 energy, then immediately lose it... I just don't know if I am going to pick this up for PvP or not.

Improved Leader of the Pack - This is currently a 4% hp heal and an 8% mana return with a 6 second cooldown. In Cataclysm, this is 8% for both, except that apparently now no one but the Feral with iLotP gets that healing. This is interesting in that it makes the talent more desirable for Ferals, but makes Ferals less helpful for tanks in raids. It does not really concern me, I am just happy that it will be an almost 1/10 heal every 6 seconds or so... and the mana return is the same even though Cat/Bear have had their costs reduced so hard.

Brutal Impact - I promised good things, right? Brutal Impact decreases the cooldown on Bash by 5/10 seconds, which means that Bash will be a 50 second cooldown in Cataclysm, and while that hurts, it sort of makes sense with the way Blizz is shaping Ferals to play in PvP. Additionally, it still increases the duration of Bash and Pounce stuns by 0.5/1.0 seconds each, so that is still rather nice. In addition, it (as I promised) reduces the cooldown on Skull Bash by 25/50 seconds... which turns it into a 10-sec CD, 5-sec interrupt which brings it perfectly in line with Kick and Mind Freeze and puts a huge smile on my face.

BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE!!! What? Yeah, Brutal Impact also has this little bit of text on it:

"and causes the victims of your Skull Bash ability to have 15/30% increased mana cost for their spells for 10 seconds." HOLY POOPING JESUS... This is absolutely insane. Even if your opponent is great at juking and fake-casting to draw out interrupts (which healers might again be in Cataclysm since people will be forced to interrupt), you will land a 10-sec debuff that makes all their spells cost 30% more... and in a game where a healer's mana will be finite, this gives Ferals a HUGE advantage... and most importantly, a UNIQUE advantage. We FINALLY seem to have an ability/mechanic all our own... playing with a Priest and mana-burning is going to be that much stronger given that our interrupt will act as a mana-burn (sort of) while they cast for the next 10 seconds... I'm REALLY looking forward to playing with this.

Remove Corruption - Abolish/Cure Poison and Remove Cure are gone forever... all hail our new dispel-overlord!

"Nullifies corrupting effects on the friendly target, removing 1 magical effect, 1 curse, and 1 poison. 17% of base mana, 40 yd range, Instant cast"

The funny thing about this spell... it's baseline. I do not have ANY idea how Blizz thought it would make sense to 1) take away baseline Cleanse from pallies, and 2) GIVE baseline Cleanse to Druids. I cannot imagine that this will remain in the game as-is... it will eventually HAVE to be resto-only... well the Magic-dispel will have to be resto-only at some point... otherwise Guntir will be immune to CC and so will I... it is fairly expensive, so maybe that is their goal... being cost-prohibitive for Ferals might just make it impossible for us to use, but with Shapeshifting so cheap, maybe we CAN dispel Fear/Poly/Hex/etc from others now.

Innervate - I KNOW no one has seen this... it's the biggest Feral synergy-nerf I have ever seen. Innervate goes from returning 225% of our base mana pool to the target to returning 33% of our TOTAL mana to the target. Okay, I get what is going on here... healers are going to have finite mana again and they do not want Feral+Healer to be the best combo ever because of Innervate... but they still want Innervate to be good for Restos and Boomers... easiest way to do it is to make it scale with your total mana. While I am saddened by this, I still recognize that that will be... what... 3-5k mana (at 85) for Guntir every 3 minutes? That, while much worse than the 8k mana he gets now, is still SOME mana that other teams won't have... we'll see how it plays out, but unless something drastic changes here, you will basically never hear people calling for Innervates from Ferals again.

Demoralizing Roar - This ability (while I hinted at it) has been redesigned to NOT be an attack power reduction, but instead a 10% physical damage reduction ability which lasts 30 seconds. It is essentially unchanged otherwise, but it will be a HUGE debuff in PvP now... Warriors' Demo Shout is the same implementation, as well.

Mastery Bonuses

We had the bonuses before... but here are the numbers if you go at least 51 points deep into the Feral tree:

Melee Damage, Melee Critical Damage, Bleed Damage: 8.01% (Cat's bonuses)

Damage Reduction: 8.01% (Bear only)
Vengeance: 5.0% (Bear only... but who cares)
Savage Defense: 32.03% (Bear only)

Damn, the first thing to note is that we're getting 8% more damage in Cat, 8% more CRIT-DAMAGE in Cat, and 8% more BLEED damage in Cat... don't all three of those work with Rip/Rake? I mean... that 10% damage I get from Naturalist affects Rip/Rake, currently... it stands to reason that the Melee Damage (which reads "Increases all physical damage you deal by a percentage" on the tooltip... just like Naturalist) will increase our Rip/Rake damage, too.

Follow that thought with Rip/Rake can crit naturally in Cataclysm, and you get to the point where Melee Critical Damage (which reads "Increases damage bonus from melee critical strikes" just like Predatory Instincts... which increases the critical-strike damage of Rip's tick-crits currently) increases these critical ticks as well. Take the whole thing together with bonus bleed damage, and Rip/Rake are going to be doing a TRUCKLOAD of damage from our mastery bonuses.

The NEXT thing to notice here is that Bear Form is getting straight up 8% damage reduction. You go Feral for PvP as Cat and switch to Bear Form EVER? You get 8% damage reduction... from all sources: physical, magical, w/e. Okay, let's say you take 3/3 Protector of the Pack as well... that is another 12% damage reduction JUST for going Bear Form... that adds up to basically 20% damage reduction JUST from going Bear Form... you couple that with the Demo Roar change, and BAM, 30% physical damage reduction... you take Perseverance too? That's 30% MAGICAL damage reduction just for being a Bear...

Bear Form is going to be our survivability form, particularly now that you incorporate the 15% damage reduction in Cat while stunned which USED to be 30% damage reduction while stunned in Cat form. So, Cat Form gets a little squishier when stunned, which was the biggest reason to NOT go Bear Form ever and you add all these damage reductions to everything while just going Bear Form at all, and you get "under pressure? Go Bear Form (again)!"

Ferals Rejoice, Bear Form is back!

Cataclysm PvP Builds

THIS BUILD, I believe, is going to be the skeleton build. All the other builds will largely be dependent on a few unknowns:

1) Natural Shapeshifter is no longer going to be worth 3 talent points for Ferals. At 5% base mana, Shapsehifting is nigh-free... so we really don't care about 30% reduces SS'ing. Boomkins and Restos may very well still take this so that ToL and Travel Form are cheaper, but Ferals likely won't.

2) Master Shapeshifter is likely to change either position or requirement. It no longer makes sense to force PvE Cats to take 3/3 NSS... the cost is SOOOOOO cheap, there is just no point to take that talent as a Feral... but you DO want to take MSS because 4% crit is rather nice. I expect either NSS to be completely removed, or MSS to no longer have NSS as a pre-req.

3) Naturalist is just STILL THERE... I'm still surprised by this. Again, it is my firm belief that Naturalist is going to go away at some point (or at the very least, it will not increase damage by 10% anymore) because of the way Blizzard has designed the Mastery System... I would be VERY shocked to learn we are still forced to spend at least 16 points in the Resto tree as a Feral to get the maximum damage output before we even start considering utility such as Perseverance (which would bring the Resto tree requirement up to 18...)

OKAY... here's my first look at a Feral PvP Build with the assumption that Naturalist will be going away:

PvP Feral - It has all the DPS talents except Improved Feral Charge (which I simply cannot see being useful in PvP given how awful Feral Charge - Cat is) and I am missing 2 points in Fury Swipes. Originally, I had suggested that this was likely a PvE-only talent, but I have sort of come around, given that we do not need NSS anymore, and if we do not also need Naturalist, then we have an extra point to throw around somewhere... 4% chance to get an extra auto-attack is just enough to keep it proc'ing regularly in PvP, which means a little more sustained damage AND a few more OOC procs.

WELL, that is all I got for now. Keep checking back and I will keep updating!

Bookmark and Share