Video Stuffs!

Okay, I realize it has been over a week since my last post. It is mainly due to the fact that I am finally going to put my money where my mouth is, so to speak, and put up some of my Feral videos. I have been working with my video editing software all last week (essentially) trying to get the perfect dimensions, output size, and output quality. Long about 5pm on Saturday, I finally got it where I wanted it (appropriate for YouTube uploading). The only hitch was that I didn't have a video to upload... I hadn't really worked on anything since that Rogue+Priest match from season 5. So, I thought it would be kind of fun to throw up a commentary video for my first. It required very little editing and I basically would get to explain my matches better than my words on my blog ever could. So, the first thing I did was find a good video, and while Zooze is likely going to hate me for this, I decided to use his Warrior+Druid video to illustrate our strategy against that comp.

As I am sure I have brought up before, Warrior+Druid has become a bit of a specialty of ours; we simply never really lose against this comp anymore. The reason for this is two-fold: first, Guntir got his Purified Lunar Dust, and while it's no Heroic Solace in terms of mana longevity, it returns him enough mana to play the outlast game against healers who really don't go OOM (Druid, Shammy, Pally); second, since Guntir's mana isn't an issue, we are free to CC-train the Warrior (unless he's Gnome/Troll with the reduced snare/root duration meta) then entire match and essentially ignore any/all pressure the warrior can put out. Since Guntir has nigh-infinite mana between Innervate, PLD, Shadowfiend, and Hymn of Hope, we can essentially focus all our attention to pressuring the Druid the entire match and setting up for big-time Mana Burn chains to get him into trouble. Then, it just becomes a question of dispelling a single Innervate which usually nets us the win, but can definitely cause a match to go long.

Anyway, here's the video, I hope you like it!

Note: the video quality/resolution might continue to get updated by YouTube, so if it looks choppy or grainy, just change the resolution to 480p and it should be good. This is my first commentary vid, so let me know what you think!

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New Cataclysm Build (10803)

As with every Cataclysm Beta Build, I will have a writeup on the changes Druids can expect and any/all Feral PvP ramifications soon.

* Lacerate now stacks 3 times (previously 5 times)
* Mangle (Bear) no longer has a cooldown
* Improved Feral Charge renamed to Stampede
* Heart of the Wild moved to Tier-1 Restoration
* Furor moved to Tier-1 Feral
* Nature's Cure (Tier 5 Restoration) Empowers your Remove Corruption spell to also remove a magic effect from a friendly target
* Natural Shapeshifter is now a 2-rank talent (down from 3)
* Other non-Feral changes as well!

The Lacerate change just makes no sense to me... that is going to make Pulverize-spamming in PvE as a tank so required that I cannot see rotations being anything more than a frenzied button-mashing that will end in carpal tunnel syndrome. However, this does lend itself some credence to the theory that Lacerate is going to be changed to the ability which reduces Armor (instead of FFF)... but then against probably not because Pulverize would just knock it off for 3 GCDs minimum. Lacerate is an ability in search of an implementation that makes sense in tanking.

The swapping positions of HotW and Furor is largely a useless one... except that it makes me hate HotW less. Remember how I always complained about HotW being a terrible mandatory talent? Now it is almost entirely optional, and the BEST option. It has tricked me into not hating it again. Furor is still mandatory, but SOOOOO good that you almost don't mind the fact that you cannot live without it.

Why did they remove the cooldown from Mangle(Bear)? It simply makes no sense... it is still the best Threat-producing ability we have (even better than Pulverize), so you just spam it... right? I have no idea what the idea behind this is... but it ends up being a slight PvP buff, since you can just spam your damage-dealing ability that happens to put up your snare while you turtle in Bear Form.

They finally removed the dispel magic mechanic from Remove Corruption. So, only Resto Druids will be able to remove Magical effects from a friendly, but we all expected that to be the case anyway. The nice thing is that Hex is still going to be a Curse and we can still remove it (and a Poison effect as well) with 1 cast, and while the cost of this spell is rather high for Ferals, the shapeshifting costs have been reduced enough that we should still be able to get back into Cat Form and regenerate that Mana with a single critical strike and Leader of the Pack.

Natural Shapeshifter is STILL in the game... I have no idea why. The mana cost of shapeshifting for Ferals is STILL dirt-cheap and we sort of expect it to stay that way. I cannot understand why Heart of the Wild is not the prerequisite for Master Shapeshifter. More to the point, however, is why MSS is still in the game. It is a 1-pt talent that increases critical strike chance in Cat form by 4%. The devs have said they do not like these talents, and yet they continue to exist for Ferals. BAH.

The big-ticket item is that ALL castable CCs are being changed from 1.5second casts to 2.0second casts, and many of them are having their range increased to 30 yards (except for Poly, which is still 35y by default)... except Cyclone which is being left at 20yards untalented and Entangling Roots which is being made into 35yards. The REALLY interesting thing here, which no one has really picked up on, is that this is a relatively strong Feral buff.

Since Ferals are always going to run with Predatory Strikes in PvP, we will always have instant-cast Cyclones/Roots every time we use a 5-pt finishing move. In a great number of ways, this makes us one of the most dominant CC classes to bring to the arena. I am a little bit worried that PS will get removed or changed so that Cyclone will have a cooldown before Cataclysm goes live, but if not Ferals will be a real contender in the arena because of the instant-cast Cyclones and the mana increase of Dispels in general, so spamming dispel on a Feral to knock off PS should be less of a concern.

Still waiting on Feral scaling to be properly implemented so I can pull more than 2k dps on the target dummy!

I got some video footage (and if you keep up with the comments, we played against Zooze again) of our 2v2 escapades and pushed up to 2260ish this last week. I was thinking of taking the Zooze video (Warrior+Druid this time) and showing why our strategy against this comp is better than "train the warrior." I will probably have this updated later this week! I need to make a YouTube account or something so I can put these videos up, which means I need to read up on the video size and all that. For some reason, the in-game capture I use (which is amazing after the graphics update and switch to GLL, btw... I'm getting like 60fps while recording, even in Dalaran where the waterfall used to freeze my computer if recording was turned on) makes the videos into GIGANTIC files. For instance, we had a 6 minute match against Zooze (I think it was 6m... hard to remember off hand... wasn't more than 10m for sure) and it is something like 1GB large... woof.

EDIT1: I am also going to look into a different means for grabbing and displaying my Armory feed... I find this Google "out of the box" option to fail more times than not, and I have no idea why. JQuery will likely resolve this issue quickly and nicely. Look for that sometime after this post gets updated.

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Concerning that Feral Video Stuff...

Yesterday, I made mention of a certain quote by a high-up Feral named Zybak. Here is the quote I was referring to:

So I had an idea, since there really is no feral content out there and our population is small I was thinking that we all sort of work together on a little montage of the best moments in feral pvp whether it be the insane 6v1 in BGs, World PvP, or just a good arena match/play. I wouldn't mind putting it together if people were interested.

I figured people could just send me there best clips via skype to pr0wess and I would just make a highlight reel of sorts.

anyway this is a shot in the dark but I think it could be something really cool if you guys were interested. Let me know what you think.

So, naturally I set up my recording software again and started getting ready to record these epic (long) Warlock+Druid matches I am inevitably going to have this week. I started thinking that it would be really neat to actually see this video to fruition, and I started thinking about classic Druid videos of the past... and how I really wanted to make a WoW video (still do... I'm just lazy at home... and I'm going to try updating to the 10.6.4 build or w/e the newest Mac OS X build is where Steam+Mac made the video drivers much less suck). A video came to mind from a long long time ago...

I watched this video OVER AND OVER AGAIN when The Burning Crusade was first in Beta. I have no idea who this Druid was, but I loved this video and it made me fall in love with TBC even before it was finished being made. That being said... I want to make a video like this with Cataclysm as soon as all the damage-dealing abilities for Ferals are opened up (and perhaps when level 85 is opened as well). It shows off some grinding content (areas to look forward to), some simple dueling, some exploration, some dungeon-crawling, etc. It was an amazing video and it probably started my love-affair with WoW Videos. I will try and keep the topic up-to-date as best I can, but it definitely is something I want to do before Cataclysm goes live.

Happy Friday ever'one; happy Feral'ing!

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The Prodigal Headers Have Returned!

I don't really know what happened... I think Blogger failed to save some of the images I was using on my page, either that or the images were copyrighted even though they are free to grab and use according to the designer's website... either way, I am hosting the images myself off site from Blogger now and if they want them taken down, they will have to send me a take-down notice as opposed to Blogger.

ANYWACE, do you remember me talking about that Warlock+Druid we faced in the arena the other day? The one that went to 42 minutes and ALMOST ended in a tie when we got an amazing Innervate dispel and landed a kill once the Druid was OOM? So, we went 8-2 last week and shot up to 2241 in 2v2s, so I figured I would look over the WoWArmory to see how high we are. For one thing, Laughing Skull is a dead PvP server, apparently, as there are only ~20 teams higher than us in 2v2s, and ~17 of those teams are Alliance side. The second thing I was tried was using WoWHead's Armory scourer to see if there were any teams with Feral Druids rated higher than me on Vindication.

There are none.

I have to admit, there is a Feral (named Cheeriozlol) who is rather close to us in 2s (2220ish), but I sort of find myself surprised that I am the highest rated Feral in 2s on our Battlegroup. We are very-much looking forward to transferring to Mug'Thol for Cataclysm. I am quick to yell in Skype (which I will have to record some time... but I'm having a LOT of trouble getting SoundFlower to work properly) about getting Cycloned/Feared while on the complete other side of a pillar from the person casting it, Guntir complains about getting Kicked after the spell has fired, and we are simply ready to PvP on server where things register properly (or at least, a little better).

Also, you may have noticed that I moved the BanHammer portlet down on the page; I felt it was too much of a concern and it detracted from the point of this blog: getting the word out about Feral and Feral play-styles. I moved up my Armory feed (which is directly loaded from my armory, if you ever wanted to hit it and look at my specs, glyphs, gear, etc) a bit higher on the page, and of course that moved up the Followers portlet and while I do not require anyone become a follower or register to leave comments or email me or anything like that, it's always nice to see familiar names. Additionally, I took off some JavaScript which was slowing the page-loads down quite a bit (usually it was only called at the end of the page, but sometimes rare circumstances would make it fire first causing the rendering of the page to hang up until the JS finished).

I have been trying to write this post all day, but because work has been hectic (lots of Production releases of this website I have been designing... technically, I have been building the Java backend which controls the website for the designer, but w/e) I have not gotten around to it until now. Tomorrow promises to be less work overall, so if I can, I would like to get a post up concerning Feral videos and something I read by Zybak on Arena Junkies the other day.

Happy Feral'ing until then!

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Thanks for the support!

So, in my last post, a Resto Druid we faced last night in 2s (Warlock+Druid that went to the 42 minute mark before we landed a kill) left a nice comment. I replied with a "good match" and was overcome by wanting to know how this random Druid, who I assume is not a regular on my blog though he very well might be, found my blog. Out of sheer morbid curiosity, I decided to google myself.

Google: Reygahnci

Let's see what we have here... "Did you mean 'regency'?" No, I meant Reygahnci, Google... thanks. Ah, my Livesteam account which I haven't used in a while... an SK-gaming profile from S7, sweet and out-of-date. A thread I started asking about Owlplay on AJ, that's weird. Wait... what's this... an official WoW-Forums thread discussing my permaban?!

AWESOME. I wanted to just say thanks for supporting my blog (and me in general)! The support is completely appreciated.

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New Cataclysm Build (12759)

I am working on a post for this new build; there are LOTS of Druid changes to discuss! I will edit this post when it is done.

Here are the Druid changes in the latest build:

* Soothe Animal is now named Soothe - Soothes the target, dispelling all enrage effects.

* Frenzied Regeneration now Increases maximum health by 30%, increases health to 30% (if below that value), and converts up to 10 rage per second into health for 20 sec. Each point of rage is converted into 3% of max health.
* Savage Roar now increases autoattack damage done by 50% instead of physical damage done by 30%.
* Bash no longer interrupts spellcasting for 3 sec.
* Enrage now increases physical damage taken by 10% instead of reducing base armor.
* Survival Instincts now Reduces all damage taken by 60% for 12 sec. Only useable while in Bear Form or Cat Form. Instant, 5 min cooldown
* Heart of the Wild now increases your maximum mana by 5/10/15% instead of increasing your Intellect by 2/4/6%.

* Master Shapeshifter bonus increased from 2% to 4% for all forms.
* Furor now gives you a 33/66/100% (up from 20/40/60%) chance to gain 10 rage when you shapeshift into Bear form and you keep up to 33/66/100 (up from 20/40/60) of your Energy when you shapeshift into Cat Form. Now increases your total Intellect by 2/4/6%. (Old - Only increased in Moonkin form)
* Naturalist is back as a Tier 2 Talent. Reduces the cast time of your Healing Touch and Nourish spells by 0.15/0.35/0.5 sec.

Okay... these all have pretty crazy ramifications as it pertains to Ferals; let's dive in!

Soothe is interesting if only for the following reason: Restos/Balance Druids can knock Savage Roar off of Ferals now. While this might seem huge, SR has been changed pretty severely, so we will reserve judgment for a bit.

Frenzied Regen is essentially its old self AND the old Survival Instincts lumped into the same ability. This is baller on the one hand because it means that Bear Form gets two medium survival cooldowns lumped into one huge survival cooldown, and I still think we will be going Bear Form more and more in Cataclysm for survivability, so this is baller.

Enrage now increases physical damage taken by 10% instead of decreasing armor horribly. This doesn't really matter as we never really use it in PvP. Bash no longer interrupts, well that makes sense because now we have Skull Bash. Heart of the Wild has had its Intellect scaling changed in favor of maximum mana scaling... I think this is to keep Boomers/Restos from getting HUGE Intellect instead of HUGE mana... having more mana is the intent of this talent, but Intellect gives crit as well as mana, so it's not really where the devs wanted it. This change won't really matter for Ferals, but whatever... we care about the AP, so we will still take it.

Survival Instincts is now the equivalent of Shield Wall... all Ferals will be taking this talent for PvP builds... period. This has been something I think Feral (PvP) has needed for a really long time - a defensive cooldown that matters. It would be amazing if this went live before 4.0, but it would make Feral a powerhouse in PvP and the OBVIOUSLY OP-est tank in PvE end-game.

Furor has been updated to do what we all expected it would: work as the Live's version at 5/5. This is awesome... nothing else to say.

Master Shapeshifter has had its effect doubled (4% crit in Cat Form now), but it still is a talent which reads: "Increases you critical strike chance in Cat Form by 0/0/0/4%." It is for this reason that I believe this talent (and hopefully NSS) will be completely removed before Cataclysm ships... no one will be taking this talent if they can avoid it.

Naturalist is back, but no longer mandatory for Ferals as it no longer increases physical damage done; beautiful!

Savage Roar
Savage Roar deserves a heading as it has gone through the biggest change we have seen yet. SR has gone from "increases all damage done by 30%" to "increases autoattack damage by 50%." The main thing to note here after much testing is the following:

using SR does not affect ANY Yellow damage at all. It makes your paperdoll damage go up, but it does NOT affect abilities which are supposedly based off of your paperdoll (Mangle/Shred/Ravage).

So what does this mean??? What direction is Blizzard taking SR!?

Well, it is going to be more like Slice and Dice for Rogues. Currently, you use SnD for added sustained damage, which is something one would keep up 100% in the PvE environment, but is only "nice to have up" in PvP. If you watch high-end Rogue PvP vids, they very rarely have SnD up in PvP except for scenarios where they are bursting hard with Bloodlust and going for a kill inside a stun (read: RLS, hRLS). Therefore, we can lightly assume that Blizzard wants a similar play-style for Ferals.

The implication here is that we are no longer going to be penalized for NOT having SR up before dealing damage, thus our ramp-up time has dropped SIGNIFICANTLY from Wrath->Cataclysm. Instead of playing the game as "Pounce, Mangle, SR, Rake, Shred" and keeping SR up 100%, we can play more along the lines of "Pounce, Mangle, Rake, Shred" and only use SR when we plan on doing extra sustained damage... say after we have ramped up entirely and have extra combo points to spare. Here is an example:

Pounce, Mangle, Rake, Shred, HOLY-CRAP-OUR-FIRST-FINISHER-IS-NOT-SR Rip/Maim

The first rotation allows us to get ALL our damage dealing out into play. Now, you can easily Shred again, and apply SR if you want some more sustained damage while you wait for energy to regenerate, OR if energy-regeneration is something that feels natural, maybe you continue your rotation and just keep Rip/Maim rolling and neglect SR entirely!!!

It is entirely too early to tell whether SR will still be mandatory for PvP-damage, particularly given that the focus in Cataclysm is going to shift FROM Burst TO Sustained. If that shift is minor, and we still need to deal burst damage more-so than sustained but no one will be getting killed in a blanket silence, then maybe we won't use SR in PvP except during kill-windows when we have ramped everything else up... say you applied Rip/Rake/Mangle and now you're pooling to 100 energy and 1cp, you use SR, then ShredShredShredTFShredFB for some really strong burst WHILE your DoTs are ticking and your white swings are doing way more damage. However, if sustained is KING in Cataclysm, then SR will most certainly be required, but not necessarily 100%. I could very easily see out-last being more important, so if you are playing Feral+Priest, you would do something more along the lines of your opener, get some mana burns out there, hit him with Maim, get some more mana burns out there, apply Rip, then as he gets out of LoS you apply Rip, then get a 1-2 point Savage Roar going for sustained damage while he heals up and you try to get your position back in line to land some more stuns for Mana Burns.

Another interesting aspect of this is that it makes Fury Swipes that much more appealing. If white damage is going to be such a large portion of our overall damage, then being able to swing again every 6 seconds would be pretty beneficial.

I'm super-swamped at work... but I'll try to get more updates in as I can!

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I'm still at a loss

No srsly... who stole my headers!?

Sooooooo, a fat lot of nothing is going on on both Live and Beta right now, so I figured we would talk about some data-mined nonsense. First and foremost, they have introduced the engineering helmets (though no one on the beta is an engineer, as far as I can tell) and their stats are somewhat insane. For instance, the Agile Bio-Optic Killshades (probably the funniest name ever, btw) have 341 Agility on them as well as ... wait for it ... 512 stamina. While we do not see any secondary stats (haste, mastery, etc), we sort of assume we WILL see those stats on there before too long. However, the main point of bringing all this up is to make mention that they have 3 sockets in them: a Meta socket (like all helms), a "cogwheel" socket and a "hydraulic pump" socket.

Those last two might be weird sounding, but the idea is simple: Engineers are going to have the ability to make helm-only-gems which fit, presumably, only in helm sockets. Cogwheels give you useful secondary stats (such as Crit, Haste, Mastery, or Dodge) and Hydraulic Pumps give you less-useful secondary stats (such as Hit, Parry, Expertise... and spirit randomly... though we may see Spell Penetration here as well). What is really interesting about all this is that these bonuses are roughly twice as much as epic-quality JEWELER'S-ONLY gems of the same stats (think Dragon's Eye of Cataclysm); for instance, the Haste gem for jeweler's only (we're talking the "limit 3" gems here which are better than epic-quality gems) is worth 67 haste rating, whereas the "Quick Cogwheel" gives 132 haste rating.

I don't know how they plan on implementing this permanently, given that non-engineering gear will not have a Cogwheel and/or Hydraulic Pump socket, but I assume it will be something like an enchant that Engineers get which allows us to add one of these sockets to a piece of gear in place of an enchant. In this way it will be very similar to Leatherworkers and their "Fur Lining" or w/e.

In addition, the epic-quality Blacksmithing weapons have been data-mined as well. Normally, I wouldn't talk about this, but since Feral is getting DPS FROM DPS on weapons finally and we care less about Feral Attack Power (since it won't exist in Cataclysm), we might as well get the polearm, right? The Elementium Poleaxe has 623.3 dps, 341 agility, 512 stamina, 228 critical strike rating, and 228 mastery rating. Would we have enjoyed Haste more than Critical Strike Rating; sure, but this gives us a balance-point to talk about with stats.

What do I mean? Well, the Wrathful Greatstaff has 325.8 dps, 167 agility, 275 stamina, 2 sockets, 106 critical strike rating, and 122 resilience rating on it. We can see while we are gaining 82 item levels, we are also gaining almost 300 dps on the weapon itself, as well as nearly doubling the stamina and critical strike rating. While it is true that the Greatstaff has two sockets... we're talking about the entry-level blacksmithing pattern here; this item looks nutty. I guess I should become friends with a main-spec'd Blacksmith...

Anyway, I'm really getting excited for Cataclysm. I am roughly DONE with Wrath; there is really nothing much left to do. I decided yesterday that I would work on a Resto set just to say I had 5/5 of all three specs... I can't wait for Feral to be somewhat more viable in PvP and at least be back to a point in time where balance-patches come out with some regularity. The last patch we had was Ruby Sanctum... the last patch that affected game-play (particularly as it pertains to PvP) was ICC. This expansion has gotten stale and we still have a few months to go...

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Where the hell did my headers go!?

Notice how my post-titles don't have that black/green background anymore? Why!? Also, the comments are in the wrong spot... I dunno... fucking with this I guess... UHHHHHH, nothing really happening on Live, nothing really happening on Beta. There's a bunch of broken going on on Cataclysm right now, this is somewhat infuriating, but whatever... who cares, it'll get fixed eventually.

... sigh ...

Yeah, there is straight up NOTHING going on on Live. Half the arena community on our BG has simply stopped playing; I half-attribute this to the fact that Starcraft 2 was released recently, and I have-attribuet this to the fact that this is the longest arena season ever in the history of PvP. Honestly, if you have looked at my armory at all, you will notice that I have two separate full PvP sets now, and I'm working on a third. I have the full Feral set, obviously, and the full Balance set... I'm only now working on a Resto set because I keep getting arena points and I have nothing else to spend them on.

Seriously, it's the most annoying thing about this game. We aren't going to get Gladiator titles (well... we're unlikely to, anyway. The lag on our BG has gotten ridiculous!), so we have been jumping teams over and over again; we are playing a spell-cleave 3s team with an alt of a 2400 Hunter. At first, it was Owlplay (Shadow+Boomer+RShammy), but we are going to try out PingPongCleave (Boomer+Ele+Disc) instead just because Guntir is better at healing and actually enjoys it more... which I find hard to believe, but whatever. Also, PPC actually has more burst since Ele+Boomer can set up for crazy nuke-sprees and if Disc isn't super-pressured, it can turn on a dime and drop Holy Fire, Smite, SW:D, etc.

Guntir finally got bored enough to run daily heroics with me (and do an ICC25 or two for Rep, Gear, and Badges... I won a 277 neck and a 277 ring as Boomer on Heroic Lootship and ended up giving Guntir the neck because it didn't have any haste... and it actually worked really well for him!) and so he got enough badges to pick up a Purified Lunar Dust. We ran some 2s skirms last night with tons of lag as Boomer+Disc and he basically never uses mana. He was eating Mana Burns against this one Mage+Priest team and it basically boiled down to me killing the mage at the end and Guntir still had 12k mana while the opposing priest was nearly OOM after Fiend and Hymn. This leads me to believe that during match-ups against teams that AREN'T double-dps (which are 50% of our matches, it seems), we should have a better mana-advantage. Teams like War+RDruid where mana-longevity really comes into play since we need to out-mana the Druid to win will be where this trinket really shines. Anyway, we're looking forward to running some 2s to see what it's like.

Other than that... I've just been farming money assuming that Cataclysm will have some amazing mandatory gold-sink. How have I been doing this? I mentioned there's nothing to do now, right? We have been running BGs for funsies all the time and basically I just take every 10k honor I make, buy an epic un-cut Yellow gem, and sell it on the AH for around 100g. I have been doing this multiple times per day for the last couple weeks... I'm up to something silly like "4k gold earned in 2 weeks work!"

Bah... I'm hoping something INTERESTING happens on Beta... as of now, Feral doesn't scale, doesn't have defensive cooldowns, has tons of mobility, but is otherwise boring to play. We shall see...

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Yeah, I know I posted today already... but I really wanted to discuss this, uh... bonus?

Vengeance is basically a talent that will give you 10% of your HP as Attack Power in Bear Form when people are beating on you. It starts really small, but eventually stacks up to a gigantic amount of AP. Here is what I'm talking about, I have something like 40k hp in Bear Form in PvP, so that means that getting beat on a bit in Bear Form would give me 4k AP in Bear Form in level 80 gear.

"Who cares... 4k AP is important in Bear Form because why?" - You

Look, smart-ass, AP is everything to Bears. Every single thing we have is based off of our Attack Power in our tanking form. It is important because of how we scale as opposed to Protection Pallies/Warriors and Blood DKs. Okay, here's an example:

Savage Defense has been updated in Cataclysm to proc 50% of the time on a critical strike to absorb 75% of your attack power. In addition, our Mastery Bonus further increases this amount by 32%.

Example (Level 80, 4k Attack Power):
Getting beat on to fully stack Vengeance gets us to about 8k attack power, which means a ~7900 absorption on the next attack. WOOF, right?

Not to mention that on beta, with 4k attack power, Mangle is hitting/critting for 2k/4k and Maul is 2.5/5k. With essentially DOUBLE attack power those hits are more like 5k/10k... wait... wait wat?

That's right... your damage output in Bear Form when people are beating on you makes you INSANE damage output. Feral is going to be stronger in PvP in Cataclysm simply because targeting the Feral is going to be a bad idea once the Bear shows up. If a Feral goes to Bear Form and everyone keeps attacking him, he's going to drop HUGE hits on people and take less damage. It's going to be silly... particularly when you factor in level 85 gear and HP pools that are HUGE.

See, Prot-specs in general are not going to be as vicious as Feral. The main thing here is that if you see a Prot Warrior/Pally/BDK, you are largely going to ignore them because their damage will be negligible unless you are attacking them. However, if you see a Feral Druid, the dynamic is different. If you don't attack them, then they will have free reign to Shred you to pieces, but if you attack them, they can turtle up in Bear Form and build up TONS of damage WHILE they're getting super-defensive.

I'm looking at a talent build something like this for PvP:

One thing worth noting is that FFF now applies 3 stacks on one cast, giving your target 12% less armor and keeping them from stealthing. This is going to play really interestingly, but we do not yet know if Cat Form is still going to have access to FFF or not. The assumption is that it will, but who knows. Another thing to notice here is that I have picked up basically all the damage-dealing-centric talents except for Primal Madness and Master Shapeshifter, and let's face it, MSS is extremely lackluster in its current form and Primal Madness is still too kludgey to use effectively (you end up losing energy in basically every scenario... good for burst, terrible for sustained). I guess one could make the argument that I am not picking up Improved Feral Charge and that is a dps-talent, but it's so difficult to use effectively when FCC rarely takes you to your target, so I don't even consider it, usually. Pulverize might be a decent dps button under all these scenarios, but a patch or two ago, they nerfed the damage because full Vengeance'd Pulvs with 5x Lacs were hitting for 20k... now they're closer in line with Mangle/Maul but with a 6x the ramp-up time.

It is also unclear as to how Vengeance is supposed to work with abilities which increase HP pools. For instance, let's say I'm at the 10% HP mark on bonus AP from Vengeance, then I hit Survival Instincts and get 30% more HP - does Vengeance start stacking up again? If it does, then you're talking about a HUGE amount of AP in Bear Form which could lead to some pretty hilarious damage output.

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New Cataclysm Build (12694)

I will have a write-up on this, soon; there were a LOT of small changes for Ferals that need to be discussed!

All the baseline Feral abilities have had their costs reevaluated since Ferocity is gone:

* Shred now costs 40 Energy. Down from 50 Energy.
* Swipe (Bear) now costs 15 Rage. Down from 20 Rage. Now has a 6 sec cooldown.
* Swipe (Cat) now costs 45 Energy. Down from 50 Energy. (Yes, the cooldown is only on the bear version)
* Maul now costs 30 Rage. Down from 35 Rage.
* Mangle (Cat) now costs 35 Energy. Down from 45 Energy.
* Mangle (Bear) now costs 15 Rage. Down from 20 Rage.
* Claw now costs 40 Energy. Down from 45 Energy.
* Rake now costs 35 Energy. Down from 40 Energy.

The interesting thing to note here is that Mangle is now 35 energy baseline, and there are no talents increasing the damage done by most abilities by default (Savage Fury, for instance, which is a bummer all its own because that means 20% less damage on Rake). Additionally, Shred has been made 40 energy baseline as well, which means that it is looking fairly strong as the defacto Feral dps button... but I'm going to crunch the numbers here anyway.

Baseline: 230% + 725
Glyphed (10% more damage): 253% + 798
Glyphed + SR: 329% + 1037

Baseline: 225% + 743
Bleeding Target: 270% + 892
Bleed + Mangle: 351% + 1160
Bleed + Mangle + SR: 456% + 1508

Let's look at Damage Per Energy fully ramped up and everything.

Mangle DPE:
(3.29 * X + 1037) / 35 = 0.094 * X + 29.63

Shred DPE:
(4.56 * X + 1508) / 40 = 0.114 * X + 37.7

Okay, so that means that if we do 1000 damage on our paper doll, that Mangle(Cat) is worth about 124DPE and Shred is worth about 152DPE.

Without looking at any more mathematics as it pertains to the system (like Mangle getting used more often which could mean more crits which means more CPs which means more damage overall), we see that Shred wins the DPE race, but only marginally. Keep in mind that Shred requires a LOT more ramping up for full effect whereas Mangle only really requires SR for full damage.

Long-story-short: I really do not know how Feral PvP will play in Cataclysm as of yet... but I'm betting that Mangle will be a decent route since Rip/Rake/White will be doing such a huge portion of our damage. Additionally, if we are focusing on Haste as a primary off-stat, then we can also assume that Mangle may be better overall because it will allow us the fastest CP-gen, which could lead to more FBs (they'll be good in Cata) and therefore better control; hell, even more Maims would be nice.

Also newly added in this patch, the reforging system gets some attention. Essentially, you can remove up to 40% of a given off-stat (haste, crit, expertise, hit, etc) and put it into a different off-stat. So, the examples up on MMO-champion are something like taking out 40% of the haste value of your item and putting it into critical strike rating, and then reforging it again and taking ALL of that critical strike rating and putting it back into haste rating. Currently, there is no means for expressing to a player that a stat has been reforged, so I think the devs will do something about that so that we do not walk around with a piece of gear for 3 months and then one day say "wait... I wish I didn't have all this +hit" and think that you can only remove 40% of the +hit when you actually reforged that gear earlier to remove 40% of its haste and turned it into hit.

The devs still haven't properly implemented Haste->DoT in this build... which is a point of annoyance for me. Additionally, we have the ability to test out Mastery, but I have the feeling that Mastery Rating will not scale our Mastery bonus (+20% Bleed Damage), yet. It is interesting, but if Critical Strike Rating is prominent on our gear in Cataclysm, but Haste and Mastery scale better, then we may be doing a LOT of reforging into those stats. Recall, if you will, The Burning Crusade in terms of what comps were the best: Warrior+Druid and Warlock+Druid because of the sustained damage output and mana-longevity. Well, in Cataclysm, we are starting to see the same deal with Feral+Disc already. Priests will have a lot of means of returning mana to themselves, and while Feral's Innervate is still impotent (and we all hope this does not remain the case), Feral's control and sustained damage has gotten rather higher.

Look at our stats and our play-style. We are, essentially, going to be based around control and bleeds. If we go with the Mangle-centric PvP builds, then we would assume that getting Rip/Rake on a target and swapping would be a pretty strong strategy. Mastery Rating will make our Bleeds that much stronger, and Haste will make our Bleeds that much stronger AND we will regenerate Energy that much faster. In addition, we will have instant-cyclones, Skull Bash at 18y range, and Feral Charge for mobility, as well as Bash for control options. I could very easily see getting a ramped-up Rip/Rake on a target, using the instant-cyclone on the healer, interrupting their next cast with Skull Bash, and following that 5-second lockout with a 5-second Bash... and if you're doing your math correctly, you can follow that Bash with another Skull Bash for another 5-second lockout (if you catch him casting). All told, that is 20 seconds of lock-down on a healer with your amazing Bleeds up on a target. In addition, if you do this right, you can probably even come back with 5cps on the target after the second Skull Bash, have them at or below 25% hp, and hit them with FB to refresh Rip.

It's hard to tell how 3s will play out in Cataclysm, but I am still a firm believer in 2v2 being the best bracket overall; however, if 3v3 becomes less of a "Wrath"-fest, then perhaps it would be a good position for Ferals. Something like BM-Hunter+Feral+Disc sounds like a good team (as I suggested a few posts ago) as you have all the debuffs for casters in PvP: Curse of Tongues (Lava Breath, this is why BM), MS-debuff (Widow Venom), Mana Burn, Spell Cost Increase (Skull Bash + Brutal Impact)... if Cataclysm is going to be all about whittling away your opposing team and keeping slow-steady pressure up the entire match, then this comp has everything. If there's more set-up-and-burn-down involved (not "Wrathing" people down, but setting up CC-chains and killing people), then maybe it would work better with Survival or Marks... too early to tell, probably.

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Mastery is Alive and Well!

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

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

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

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

Why was I expecting something else? Well...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Mastery will scale our Bleed damage ONLY.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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