Tanking Changes

Survival Instincts -- Damage reduction changed from 60% to 50%. Cooldown reduced from 5 minutes to 2 minutes. Duration still 12 seconds.


Uhm... whoa. I do not understand this change at all.

For instance, Warriors also have Shield Wall and it also reduces damage by 60% for 12 seconds on a 5 minute cooldown, and they can glyph it to be a 3 minute cooldown which reduces damage by 40%.

Okay, that whole bit above with the line through it... all wrong apparently. This has changed since I last looked at warriors. Now, Shield Wall is a 50% damage reduction on a 5 minute cooldown and there is a second-tier protection talent which reduces the cooldown by 60/120/180 seconds (making it a 3-minute cooldown talented), but it still only reduces damage by 50%. Next, you look at the glyph which increases the cooldown by 2 minutes, but also grants it 20% more damage reduction. Which means that IF you are a prot warrior and you glyph for it, your Shield Wall will be a 4 minute cooldown for 70% damage reduction OR a 2 minute cooldown for 50% damage reduction.

The reason that this Survival Instincts makes no sense to me is because it would be like giving a Fury Warrior a 50% damage reduction button. That is it... the problem that Blizz has not yet commented on (and I hope that they do not) is that Survival Instincts can be used in Cat Form for essentially no lost damage while every other tank has to be tanking specialized, for one, and must be in the correct stance to use this ability, for two. Warriors have to be in defensive stance to use Shield Wall, for example, while Ferals can press Survival Instincts in Cat Form.

I worry that there is an unspoken "oh btw... SI not available in Cat Form anymore" looming, but we shall see.

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New Cataclysm Build (13221)

Nine days without a post is too long, I know. There are a number of mitigating factors that keep me from posting on a day to day basis. I could discuss how I have been working 9-10 hours days for a few weeks now trying to get stuff done, or how I have not really been sleeping at night, or how WoW is not really a fun game at the moment (mostly due to the lack of any real PvP), or how I spend what little time I have working on my WoW video (that I promised a few weeks ago... sigh). None of that stuff really matters... I'm going to post more often.

This latest build was largely a balance pass with some updates to long withstanding PvP imbalances. For instance, Blood Elves no longer have a racial that gives them a percent chance to be missed by spells and instead are given some arcane resist instead. I know it's a small point to make, but when you NEED that Cyclone to land on that BElf Rogue or he will kill Guntir, and at the hit cap your Cyclone "misses," it is the kind of feeling I believe murders get right before they snap.

Cold coffee...

The big-ticket items in this patch are largely being ignored on the Beta boards, which I find odd. I was using a pal's WoW account to post on the Druid Live boards, but his account got hacked and he had his password changed, so I am back to square-banned for the moment. That being said, I have not been back to the Live boards in a few weeks now, so I do not know how they are taking this latest balance.

All MS-effects are reduced to 10% effect.

It has been a long time coming, but the day is finally here where we might see some actual balance amongst the classes who do and do not bring the MS-effect. Warrior damage is really high at the moment, and Hunters have always had rather high damage. Rogues are going to be middle-of-the-pack damage in PvP and should be tops in PvE. I guess Blizz finally looked at the numbers and said "well, the only way we will be able to balance damage in PvE without giving the MS-wielding specs an unfair advantage in PvP is to reduce the effect of healing reductions."

Kudos Blizz, kudos!

I bring sad news as well: Brutal Impact has been reduced from 30% increased mana cost to 10% increased mana cost. I know it is a small nit to pick, but was this debuff really so powerful? At the end of the day, MS-effects scaled against healing done, which of course means that MS-effects scale in general. 10% of a small heal is useful, and when that healer gets more spell power and heals for more, 10% of that is more. However, no healer will be concerned with their mana costs after a certain point. Damage, healing, and mana regeneration will scale, but mana costs will remain static, so that 10% increased cost will be the same number in four tiers of gear.

Stampede now reduces the cost of Feral Charge (Cat) by 100%, so it becomes an even better cooldown (which I suggest Glyphing to 28 seconds).

I still do not know exactly how to feel about Tiger's Fury. At the moment, it is our best dps cooldown by a huge margin: it gives us 60 energy (with KotJ) and it increases our damage done by 15% for 6 seconds. The problem I keep running into is that it feels like you want to use it with Rip and Rake every time it is up, but that makes the rotation rather unwieldy when we must have bleeds up for Shred to deal full damage. Our opener is a little odd, but it makes sense if you use Feral Charge before Pounce for a quick nigh-guaranteed 3 combo points for 50 energy, then a Mangle for 35 energy, and those 2 GCDs will have gained us at least 20 more energy for a 45 energy total allowing a Shred to follow the Mangle with no waiting. Essentially, unless you have the worst luck in the world, this opener will guarantee you 5 combo points and allow you to use Tiger's Fury for Rip and Rake at 15% bonus damage. There, you used both your ~30s CDs in your opener and got off three bleeds, the more-powerful two at 15% bonus damage, a Mangle, a Shred, a Ravage, all within two seconds of your opening stun wearing off. It is not much to say, but in practice this opener will get you wins against most classes 1v1 simply because you have put out 160 energy worth of damage before the opponent could move again.

Soothe was changed to have a cast time, which is interesting because I do not think most people understood that it removes all Enrage effects on a target. While most players in PvP will only have one (I think), it may come up in PvE that bosses or mobs will have more than one or a stack of many.

Ultimately, the only real changes right now are so ground-breaking that I cannot really comment on their impact. MS-effects being nerfed to 10% is HUGE from a balance perspective, but it just means that those classes will likely get more damage to compensate for it... or those classes already deal too much damage and will be largely ignored. It is very hard to tell, and we are supposedly a month and a half away from release.

... I miss doing arenas ...

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Feral Buffs! (Maths)

Blizzard released the updated mathematics behind the Feral buffs, and while MMO-Champion is operating under the assumption that these are "temporary 4.0 buffs which will be reverted at 85 in Cataclysm," they are probably more likely permanent buffs for Ferals. MAYBE other classes will have their numbers toned back, but Ferals needed the buffs at 85, so it is likely that our numbers will stick.

* Rip now scales from 18/37/55/74/92% of Attack Power depending on combo points, up from 8/16/24/32/40%.
* Ferocious Bite now scales from 10.9/21.8/32.7/43.6/54.5% of Attack Power depending on combo points, up from 7/14/21/28/35%.
* Rake now causes scales from 2% of Attack Power for bleed damage, up from 1%. Now scales from 42% of AP for additional bleed damage over 9 sec, up from 18% of AP.
* Mangle additional damage has been increased from 726 to 1136.
* Vengeance - Entering Cat Form will cancel this effect.

So, before the latest updates, let's look at the tooltip calculations for each of the updated abilities:

Rip (just looking at 5pt) - (501 + 0.40 * AP) damage over 16 seconds.
Ferocious Bite - (1570 + 0.35 * AP) - (1710 + 0.35 * AP) damage.
Rake - (361 + AP * 0.18) damage over 9 seconds.

So, let's say that after the Feral Attack Power removal we had something like 5k attack power (for easier maths). Then we would have the following:

Rip: ~2500 damage over 16 seconds (~313 damage per tick).
Ferocious Bite: ~3350 damage.
Rake: 1261 damage over 9 seconds (~400 damage per tick).

You can see why Ferals complained... our finishing bleed was doing less than Claw. Let's look at the new maths:

Rip (just looking at 5pt) - (501 + 0.92 * AP) damage over 16 seconds.
Ferocious Bite - (1570 + 0.545 * AP) - (1710 + 0.545 * AP) damage.
Rake - (361 + AP * 0.42) damage over 9 seconds.

With the same 5000 attack power, we would see damage like the following:

Rip: 5101 damage over 16 seconds (~638 damage per tick).
Ferocious Bite: ~4325 damage.
Rake: 2461 damage over 9 seconds (~820 damage per tick).

So there ya go... they roughly doubled our bleed damage. Keep in mind, also, that I haven't calculated in Mangle (30%), Mastery (~45% in my gear), talents (2 more ticks on Rake), or glyphs (15% more Rip damage), so these numbers are designed to look low.

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Feral Buffs!

In case you missed it, GC decided to hot-buff Ferals (along with other sub-performing specs) yesterday. Unfortunately for me, I did not know this until today when I got to work and did not play yesterday.

I WILL, however, play today and see how it feels. It is, as always, hard to tell just how much damage I am able to do because I have to rely on battleground data which can be seemingly random. Also, I will see if I cannot work out the coefficients to get a better understanding of how much of a buff, quantitatively, we received.


I played a bunch of Battlegrounds on Live with Guntir last night, took a bunch of screenshots... and forgot to put them in my Dropbox. DOH! Anyway, the damage buff Ferals got is borderline-overpowered. I felt like a DK before in terms of control elements and survivability; I could peel for Guntir all day and also tank damage when needed. Now, however, I feel like some sort of crazy DK/Warlock hybrid, with the same survivability and control, but also with horribly powerful DoT damage.

I reforged all my crit into Mastery, just to get a feel. I went and watched some of my PvP videos because I wanted to see how my bleeds compared, and I found watching the Affliction+Disc video was the best illustration of what I mean when I say "crazy damage." My Rip was ticking for ~1.8k and critically-ticking for 3.5k and going as high as 4.0k. Keep in mind that we still had talents which made our critical strike damage higher which is why no one will bother me about "1.8 times 2 isn't 4.0." Anyway, with 14.25 Mastery and 45% crit, my Rip is hitting for 3.5-4k (depending on resil) and critting as high as 8k. This is a DoT which ticks every 2 seconds... and it's critting for 8k. Rake is doing near-comparable damage with 3-3.5k ticks and 6-7k crit-ticks. All told, I can drop a FCC-Ravage crit for around 10k at the same time Rip and Rake both critically-tick for a total of around 20k damage in a GCD. I know this is nothing new for Casters, but for a melee, it feels amazing.

In addition to our rather strong damage (though Warriors, Mages, Warlocks, Boomkins, etc are all doing more, so hopefully we continue flying below the radar), our control is nigh-unmatched. Skull Bash is exactly as amazing I said it would be... there is no "lag" with it like Mind Freeze for DKs, and it has some range. There is a guy in the Beta forums who disagrees with me on whether it is actually a "ranged" attack or just a "little bit more than melee" range. Either way, I had this scenario last night:

I had Rip/Rake/Mangle on a Disc Priest at around 20% hp. He was getting heals non-stop from a well-geared Resto Shammy, but I felt I could win this fight. So, I interrupted a big-heal that the Shammy was about to bomb into the priest with Skull Bash (just a focus-macro... it was awesome) then Feral Charge (Cat) back onto the Priest, crit him with Ravage for around 7k (he had lots of resil and inner fire) for five combo points. I then hit the Priest with a 5pt Maim (which actually LASTS 5 seconds against EVERY CLASS AND SPEC now... it's so nice), and used the instant-cast Cyclone on the Shammy RIGHT at the 5-second mark of Skull Bash (which means that he was ABOUT to cast again... but I Cycloned him). The Priest died to Bleed damage and auto-attacks (which hit REALLY hard now), and as soon as the Shammy got out of the Cyclone, I swapped to him... and without a second dedicated healer, he went down after a bit. This scenario right here illustrates just how AMAZING Ferals will be in Cataclysm PvP. We have TONS of control via Skull Bash, Cyclone, Entangling Roots, Maim, Feral Charge (Bear), and Bash, and while some of our abilities require Bear Form... Bear isn't a liability in PvP anymore.

I kept putting in some instances where I would go Bear Form just to see the survivability with Guntir plowing heals into me. Let me just say this... all PvP builds will be taking Natural Reaction for the 12% damage reduction in Bear Form, and I have the Glyph of Frenzied Regen, which turns it from a mediocre 3min cooldown into an AMAZING 3min cd. It makes it not convert Rage->Energy, and instead gives you 30% bonus healing received for the duration. I used this mainly when I was getting trained by 3-4 melees and Guntir needed a minute to top me off again; so good! Bear Form has some marked survivability over Cat Form, BUT Cat Form does not feel squishier because of it... Cat Form basically feels as strong as it did before (maybe a little stronger with regard to survivability, even though we lost 30% damage reduction while stunned)... it's just that Bear Form has REALLY good damage reduction now, and they can't keep you there.

The problem with going Bear Form prior to 4.0 was that you would get into a decent D-stance (Bear Form), but you did not have anything to get OUT of Bear Form. Your damage was low, your survivability was only a LITTLE bit stronger than Cat's, and your utility was non-existent. NOW, however, our survivability in Bear Form is stronger than Cat's hand over fist, our damage ramps up as long as people are attacking us (and keep in mind, if they train you 100%, you'd be better off going Bear Form and LETTING them deal damage to you because eventually you will have two to three times as much attack power as normal and then drop more damage than they do while in Bear Form (I had a DK and a Warrior training me in Bear Form while Guntir just healed me through it and I ended up killing a Disc Priest in Bear Form just because Mangle/Maul was critting for 10k a piece with full Vengeance... we NEED this to fly under the radar and stay in PvP for Bear Form's sake). On top of your survivability and damage, as well as the bait of forcing players to swap off of you when you go Bear BECAUSE of your potential damage, you have great utility as well in Skull Bash, Feral Charge, Demoralizing Roar (-10% physical damage is awesome), Faerie Fire, and Bash.

Yes, all things considered... Feral is in a really strong place right now. We just need a few things to continue flying below the radar of the devs and we will be alright come Cataclysm.

Oh, I cannot really mention Skull Bash + Brutal Impact at the moment, since basically all healers have infinite mana on Live... but I am getting healers to 50% with it whereas Mortal Strike cannot DENT healer's mana pools.

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While we wait for 4.0 to go live and the servers to come back online, please enjoy a writeup concerning PvP Healing in Cataclysm care of my brother.

By Guntir

Our good friend Rey has asked me to write a few words on my opinion of the state of priest healing in PvP at level 85 in Cataclysm. In obliging, I wrote him this book. Since I've yet to receive my own beta invite, we're currently incapable of testing arenas together, so the experiences I'm about to bestow upon you all are based solely from battlegrounds (by which I mean Warsong Gulch, which is the only battleground currently available [via "Random Battleground"]).

Healers specifically received a major overhaul in regards to their mechanics. Whereas the healing styles of each of the healing specs are completely different on live, in Cataclysm they are being homogenized into sharing three main types of heals that are to represent the majority of their healing done. The features that once defined each healing spec are now relegated to supplemental healing. While there is by design a large degree of sameness between healers now, they still manage to feel different and ultimately I feel those differences will put to rest the fears a lot of players have had that healing will be completely uniform across all specs.

The three staple heals in Cataclysm will comprise of a fast, inefficient heal and two slow heals: one of high efficiency and moderate throughput and one of high healing and moderate efficiency. For priests, these roles are filled by Flash Heal, Heal, and Greater Heal, respectively. The intention was that healers would mostly be using Heal to maintain their limited mana pools, switching to Greater Heal when they started falling behind, and only using Flash Heal if they fell dangerously behind in healing. I hear that in PvE this is more or less what is being done.

Unfortunately, this healing model seems to fall short in the PvP front. I started with the full intention of utilizing Heal for as much healing as I could and falling back to less efficient heals only when necessary. Quite simply, this doesn't work. What I quickly discovered was that Heal is simply incapable of providing enough throughput to deal with the damage of anything I encountered. Its throughput is so bad that I struggled to outheal Warlock DoTs with it long after the fighting had ended.

Once I came to terms with the fact that Heal is impractical at best in PvP, I respec'd away from it and began using Greater Heal as my go-to heal of choice. It provided strong throughput while maintaining good efficiency. However, when it comes to raw throughput Flash Heal is unmatched. Its throughput is significantly higher than Greater Heal, and Greater Heal is one of the few spells that can even pretend to be competitive with it. As Discipline, Penance edges out Greater Heal in throughput and even it is blown away by the throughput of Flash Heal. If you're Holy nothing comes close. Simply put, if you need throughput then spam Flash Heal.

Speaking of throughput and efficiency, I crunched the numbers and found some interesting results. For starters, Greater Heal is only marginally worse HPM (healing per mana, my efficiency metric) than Heal, while Flash Heal is significantly worse HPM than Greater Heal. So while we're talking less than a 10% difference in HPM between Heal and Greater Heal, Heal only provides around 35% of the throughput Greater Heal can provide. To compare, Greater Heal provides about 85% of the HPS (healing per second) of Flash Heal, but the HPM of Flash Heal is somewhere around 70% of Greater Heal.

The second interesting result is that Prayer of Mending is no longer so great that you should freely cast it even when you know only one person will get healed from it. In fact, even as Holy a Power Word: Shield is better in both throughput and efficiency than a Prayer of Mending that only heals one person. Moral of the story: if Prayer of Mending isn't going to bounce don't cast it. This is especially interesting considering our new PvP four-piece bonus reduces its cooldown. Also, strictly speaking if Binding Heal doesn't overheal then it is a Priest's highest throughput spell with an efficiency between Flash Heal and Greater Heal. This of course assumes both you and your target are missing health; its single-target throughput is a bit more than twice of Heal's.

Of course with the expansion comes new abilities, and unfortunately the new Priest spells are a bit lacking in the game-changing department. We get a new nuke that's sure to be of great utility to Shadow Priests, but as a healer it will probably be used as interrupt-bait if it even makes it on our bars. Next up is Inner Will; Inner Will and Inner Fire are basically your two stances as a Priest in Cataclysm. Inner Fire continues to provide spell power and a substantial armor buff, while Inner Will reduces the cost of your instant cast spells by 10% and gives a small run-speed buff. It's best to treat it as a poor man's travel form, as actually healing with it costs you a decent amount of spell power and instants in general aren't nearly as useful now. Still, both Inner Will and Inner Fire are free of cost, so the best priests will undoubtedly learn to swap between them as needed.

The last of our new spells is Leap of Faith, which most players are calling "Lifegrip" but I'm personally calling "Brogrip" (to grip your bro, you see). It's hard to judge this ability based on solo-queueing random BGs as things are so hectic and uncoordinated it's very challenging to know when is the most appropriate time to use it. That said, I see this as being a significant ability in the arenas as positioning is incredibly important there. It'll allow your teammates to overextend to draw out one or more important cooldowns, only to pull them back into safety. It'll allow you to stop burst opportunities, as well as pull a teammate closer to a target that's getting peels. The possibilities are nearly endless.

Next I'd like to talk about stats. A problem in WotLK was the fact that haste was simply a better stat than all the others. This problem lives on in Cataclysm; in fact, for priests it very well might be worse. For both Holy and Discipline, 1 point of haste rating is worth more than 1 point of critical strike rating or mastery rating in terms of increased throughput. Of course this added throughput comes at the cost of efficiency, but there lies the problem: in Cataclysm you can control your efficiency by your spell choice.

Think about it just in terms of Greater Heal versus Flash Heal. Flash Heal has the higher throughput, but Greater Heal has the higher efficiency. If I stack haste my efficiency remains roughly the same (I cast more often, but my throughput increases at the same rate), but I'll be able to cast Greater Heal more because my throughput is higher. Contrast this with stacking critical strike. With crit my efficiency goes up (on average I heal more per cast at the same cost), but since my throughput doesn't increase as much I'm forced to cast Flash Heal more and lose my bonus efficiency. Also remember that the throughput difference between Greater and Flash Heal is significantly smaller than the difference in efficiency. This fact is significant because it means you can lose a ton of efficiency and still come out ahead so long as you end up with a higher throughput. This naturally brings us right back to haste as our dominant stat.

I'll talk stats more when I talk about Discipline and Holy separately, but I just wanted to touch upon the new PvP sets briefly. The mainset pieces are going to be a little different this time around. Specifically, they won't strictly be spirit or critical strike rating, but rather a spread of stats. This gives us more freedom to stack stats (specifically, find the optimal four-piece healing, one-piece DPS set-up for the best stat spread), but it also leaves us free to shoot ourselves in the foot by ignoring spirit. It's hard to evaluate spirit as its returns are partially based on your intellect, but I'm currently of the opinion that you should stack spirit everywhere you can't stack more haste. This is mostly based on intuition, however, so expect to juggle stats around when it comes time to make these kinds of choices. Spirit could very well end up superfluous or it could just as easily end up as the best stat. We'll have to wait and see.

Finally, I'd like to take some time to discuss the two separate healing specs individually. I play Discipline on live, so naturally I tried Discipline first on the beta. A few key differences include the new talents Evangelism, Archangel, and Atonement. These talents allow you to use Smite as a heal and then turn those Smite casts into mana and a temporary healing buff. The heal provided from Atonement isn't very big (although it'll give higher throughput than casting Heal), the range is small enough that it'll only work if the person you're trying to heal is either a melee or being attacked by a melee, it only heals 1 person (according to the tooltip, however currently it heals everyone in range), and if it heals you it only does half (again, according to the tooltip but currently not the case), so don't expect to be getting too many Smites off in PvP. Another interesting facet of Smite healing friendlies is that the heal crits when Smite crits, and the crit heal will proc Divine Aegis. It's not much to talk about, although I did get a kick out of having a Smite crit result in 3 party members being healed for 10k on top of having a 3.6k shield proc on all of them.

Evangelism helps the Smite spamming by increasing the damage and reducing the mana cost of Smite, as well as a few other spells, each time you successfully Smite. Mostly you'll just be using Smite to stack up Evangelism to get the most out of Archangel, however it's worth noting that Evangelism affects Penance. This is interesting for two reasons: firstly, offensive Penance does a lot of damage; secondly, the mana reduction takes effect even when you use it to heal. Penance currently provides higher throughput than Greater Heal (although less healing per cast) at a level of HPM that makes Heal look like a sad joke. The prospect of being able to reduce Penance's mana cost even further seems simply ridiculous.

These stacks of Evangelism can then be converted into mana and a temporary healing buff through Archangel. The mana returns are currently higher than they're supposed to be, but otherwise the ability works just like one would imagine. In practice I had trouble getting over three stacks of Evangelism (it stacks to five), so expect these talents to be an added bonus instead of a cornerstone of the build. In arena, I expect you'll see Discipline priests trying to sneak in Smites when possible, and popping Archangel at 1-3 stacks when Evangelism is about to fall off.

An old ability with a new twist for Discipline is Inner Focus. It's basically still the same "free cast with 25% more crit" cooldown, but now it only works for Flash Heal, Greater Heal, and Prayer of Healing. The major difference, however, is it now has a 45 second cooldown and a new talent that reduces this cooldown by five seconds every time you cast Greater Heal. Those last two facts mean that Inner Focus is going to be up quite a bit, and priests will have to adjust to the new playstyle of pretty much using it on cooldown.

Power Word: Shield got nerfed, but with Rapture it's still a spell you'll want to cast. It won't beat out Greater Heal in throughput, but it'll beat it out in efficiency. Plus it circumvents healing absorption and mortal strike effects, which is very handy. Mastery will boost PW:S, Divine Aegis, and Power Word: Barrier pretty quickly, but overall critical strike rating is a better stat, and you probably won't have the luxury of gearing for either in PvP anyway.

Power Word: Barrier is the new end-talent for priests. You may remember that we were promised it halfway through WotLK; better late than never I suppose. It's a powerful cooldown and has the added bonus of being somewhat switch-proof in that your opponents may not be able to simply switch targets when you use it. In addition, it comes with a glyph that increases healing received by anyone standing in it. Overall, it'll help ensure Priests are viable in the arena by giving them a second strong defensive cooldown.

Finally, I'd like to talk about Holy Priests. I'd like to start this by saying that while mana wasn't a big issue playing as Discipline (even when I wasn't abusing Archangel), as Holy mana was a big concern. Granted, I turned every stat point I could into haste, but the lack of Inner Focus, Rapture, and Penance really made maintaining a healthy mana pool difficult. Not impossible, but definitely more difficult. This wasn't quite what I was expecting, as I assumed Holy's extra 20% in-combat mana regen would be very difficult for Discipline to overcome.

Holy has some strange mechanics that I should talk about before delving too deep into the various abilities. For one, their mastery bonus, Echo of Light, applies a HoT on your target whenever you cast a single-target heal. What's important to note is that multiple casts result in the HoT rolling up the remaining healing with the new HoT, resulting in no wasted healing. This means that for Holy, mastery is most likely more throughput than crit. It's still worse than haste, but if stacking haste is simply impractical then mastery would most likely be the next consideration.

Another mechanic that didn't work quite like I expected was Holy's new spell: Holy Word: Chastise. Specifically, how this spell worked with Revelations, which changes Chastise when you are in a Chakra state. As it turns out, entering a Chakra state with Revelations causes Chastise's cooldown to reset. This means you can use Chastise for the incapacitate, then pop Chakra and Renew to enter the Chakra state, and immediately follow that with Chastise on a friendly for an extra HoT. You end up locked out of using Chastise offensively for the duration of Chakra, but at least you got both uses of Chastise from it.

Speaking of Chakra, for PvP it's a pretty lackluster talent. I ended up using it pretty much exclusively for the renew state just because it was the only useful one. If they add a Greater Heal Chakra state then I'll like this talent. The frustrating thing is that despite it being a lackluster talent you still need to Chakra on cooldown because Holy's toolset is so small. Without a buffed Renew and the extra HoT I struggle to keep up with damage.

Lightwell remains the wildcard of the spec. If no one makes use of it it's a waste, but if you and your allies make good use of it then it is pretty amazing. It heals an absolute ton, you can grab it from further away now, and it can't be selected anymore. Its glyph gives extra charges instead of extra healing now, so it'll last the whole duration/cooldown if you limit yourself to about one charge per twelve seconds. If Holy ends up having a place in arenas, Lightwell will be a big reason why.

Guardian Spirit is the same save for the glyph change. Now instead of setting the cooldown to one minute if the cheat death effect doesn't proc it merely reduces the cooldown by thirty seconds regardless. I see this as a nerf, but then again the cheat death proc is going to end up being a 50k heal, so maybe it'll be best to just cast it and let them "die" anyway.

Body and Soul remains with the added bonus of the run speed buff also proccing off of Leap of Faith. This will undoubtedly be a cornerstone of Holy Priest PvP, which is good because another cornerstone of WotLK Holy Priest PvP, Blessed Resilience, is getting nerfed. Granted, in a world where people don't have over 50% crit chance and can't deal half your life in a single cast it's less needed, but the new version is little consolation.

Overall, Discipline seems strong. Admittedly, a small part of that is due to the fact that a number of the talents are bugged in its favor, but I think it'll be a strong contender (maybe even overpowered) even after those are fixed. Holy, I think, has potential, but is held back by a smaller, less useful toolset. It definitely needs something extra.

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BAH, I Say!

There is far too much stuff going on at the moment... and yet there are very few THINGS going on. If that doesn't make sense, try not to focus on it; it has been a long weekend for me. I had my kitchen sink back up for two days, the first of which I spent trying to disassemble and snake, the second of which I spent putting it back to together enough to pour lye down it (which will destroy basically everything in its path). When the lye did not seem to work, I called my landlord and had them get me a plumber... who showed up and ran water down the drain like it was nothing; he snaked it for me professionally anyway since he was there, but it goes to show you: I should never doubt myself, as I am almost always right.

So, my home-life has sort of bitten into my WoW time. I know, you are all waiting to see the Feral PvP Cataclysm video. I know I promised it a week ago, but I keep finding things I want to show off, and the video is getting more and more detailed. I, as you no doubt know, do not like to put out unpolished stuff, so I am taking my sweet time with this one. I DO have a little teaser to get you all excited since (brace yourself) 4.0 will be dropping tomorrow. This is a small clip I uploaded just to show off how powerful Thorns is in PvP for Ferals in Cataclysm at this point:

I did not make this video public, but you can see it here for funsies. I was reading on the forums and someone mentioned that Thorns scaled from Spell Power AND Attack Power in Cata, though it would not work well in practice because Thorns is a spell to be used outside of Cat/Bear and therefore would scale off of terrible attack power in Caster Form for Ferals. I thought that this argument made sense, but I wanted to check it out. I queued up for a random WSG and got in, and hit Thorns against the first target I saw, a lone Warrior... the rest, as they say, is history. I think that I had more like 10-12 Thorns procs during his Retaliation, which makes sense since he swings back at me every time I swing at him, so he ends up hitting me for ~3k (Barkskin was up) a swing while I am reflecting almost 4300 damage from Thorns per hit, all while he is swinging away normally as well. You might also notice that he hit me with a 12k hit in there... he used his cooldown which gives him 15% bonus damage but eats twice as much rage and hit me at 100 rage which also increases damage or something (I think it was overpower... mean). The only saving grace here was that thorns was reliably reflecting ~4300 damage for every swing he landed on me... and his biggest was that 12k hit but the rest were ~3k while I was landing 1.2k white swings and bleed damage.

There are things like this in the Cataclysm expansion which I keep finding and thinking to myself, "That's really cool..." Guntir is excited because as far as he's concerned, Thorns will provide a boon to him as a "get off my healer" deterrent. Against fast attackers, Thorns deals nigh-indecent damage. I am willing to bet that Thorns will be nerfed before the actual release (and it will definitely get a lot of play-time in 4.0 on Live), but if it does not change much for Ferals, then they will have some utility in that, which is nice. Again... I am putting this off until I have enough clips to make a really worth-while video... and things are going to get hectic on Live tomorrow, so it might be a while.

I am still worried about Feral's damage tomorrow. From all my testing on the Beta, it really feels like Feral is still pretty far behind in terms of scalability, and while most dps specs are going to gain damage, the majority of Ferals will lose it, and the BiS Ferals will likely be around the same spot. The real problem here is that it will likely be a month or two before Blizz comes around and actually says "ya, alright... your damage is low," and fixes it. My worry is that the first arena season of Cataclysm will start with Ferals dealing lackluster damage and bringing marginally useful utility. While I feel that the first season is an era where you can make lackluster damage work if you find the right niche, it still poses a problem for 2v2s, which Guntir and I will continue running, of course.

I admit, sometimes in PvP on the Beta I am near the top in terms of damage-done (definitely not in terms of killing blows... we have absolutely ZERO buttons to press which will land a KB... we just have to pressure them down), but other times I will go against a Warlock or a Mage who simply out-shine me. Even Boomkins are putting out significantly more damage than Ferals. Now, I acknowledge that these are battlegrounds on the Beta servers, and they are likely to be the bottom-of-the-barrel PvP players (I keep getting on healers who do nothing but fake-cast until they're at 10% hp, at which point I just stun them and kill them)... and yes, I know that Warlocks and Boomkins will have elevated damage in BGs because they can simply throw their DoTs on multiple targets at a time and Boomkins can pop Starfall in packs every minute and DKs can use Pestilence to spread their diseases to everyone within shouting distance, but I still feel like our damage is low.

Maybe damage is not the best term to use. Our damage is... "OKAY"... but we still have no buttons to kill someone. The only way I have managed to land a kill against a healer on the Beta is to OOM him with a clever use of Skull Bash and persistent damage. Since healer mana will end up mattering in Cataclysm, Skull Bash with 2/2 Brutal Impact is undeniably one of the strongest PvP debuffs in the game. In these situations, we use the same strategies we have always used... get your bleeds up, Shred when you can, and keep your constant damage rolling. In Cataclysm, this is something that healers are adept at dealing with, so you have to make sure and Skull Bash the efficient heals and force them to use an inefficient heal with the Brutal Impact debuff up.

I keep talking about Brutal Impact, but it really is understated without numbers. 80k mana is a LOT of mana, and it is hard to imagine going OOM in that type of environment; however, in Cataclysm the healing scene is very different than Wrath (currently, S5 was more in line with Cataclysm's healing, but even still there is less incentive on burst in Cata) and healers really have to know what they are doing. Healing is going to be the crux of PvP again, and while most DPS can still do their job without having much of a brain, the healers will end up determining who is top-ranked in Cataclysm (which players like Hydra and the like will enjoy immensely).

That being said, Guntir has been working on a write-up for this very blog discussing his impressions with the healer's role in PvP on the Beta (he uses my Beta account with a premade Priest). It will, from what he has told me over lunch yesterday, have some maths, some feelings as to how burst and constant damage output will be, how the PvP scene will be in terms of the efficacy of training a healer versus swapping a lot or training a dps, etc. In this post, he will likely accidentally shine a light on just how powerful a debuff Brutal Impact will be in Cataclysm. His maths show aspects like which heal is the best HPS (heals per second), HPM, burst healing, etc, and in doing so the cost of each will be explored.

In fact, as I am writing this last paragraph he sent me a link to his final draft, so look for this to go up probably sometime later this week (maybe tomorrow or Wednesday depending on how interesting tomorrow's patch is).

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No Video Today

EDIT (2010-10-06):

I don't have the Cataclysm video done yet; there wasn't enough good stuff to include in there yet... but there IS good stuff... just hold strong for another couple days and I will have some good coverage. I will also have a write-up on Guntir's initial findings on PvP healing in Cataclysm as both Holy and Disc (btw: if you are the reader who recognized 'Guntirblues' and said hey, let me know; that was baller!)

I KNOW... I KNOW I KNOW... I didn't post a video last week, and today I say no video!?!?!? Sorry, I had some technical stuff to deal with; most notably was the fact that I was straight up OUT of disc space for recording, so I haven't had anything new. However, yesterday I bought a 2TB disk and external enclosure, so I should have plenty of space set up to record again, and as I wanted to test it out yesterday, I ended up recording a bunch of stuff in WSG on the Cataclysm Beta. Yes, I am working on a little Cataclysm Feral PvP video which I should have edited and what-not by Wednesday (no promise... but that's what I'm hoping).

Here are my initial reactions in PvP on Cataclysm thus far:

1) Destro Locks are STILL dropping trucks on people (got hit with a 14k Chaos Bolt and a 23k Conflag in WSG yesterday)
2) Elementals aren't hitting nearly as hard as Live.
3) Frost Mages have TONS of tools to kite and deal damage, and Icelance does a LOT of damage (4k even when you aren't frozen, 8k when you are).
4) Healers are still powerful, but they have issues with Mana longevity. There were a couple instances where it was a dps+healer combo versus me and a healer in their flag room trying to drop our flag and their healer would oom 30% faster than ours allowing me to kill either one.

----- bit of a separation, let's talk about what I see from Ferals! ------

5) Skull Bash is RIDICULOUSLY responsive. I have read a number of posts on the Cataclysm Beta Boards of people complaining about Skull Bash having lag like Mind Freeze, but when I was in WSG with my 120ms latency, I would hit Skull Bash and it would interrupt the target before I left my spot... and Skull Bash is 400% better as a gap-closer than Feral Charge (Cat) EXCEPT that the distance is rough. Ultimately, if you can snare someone, you can always interrupt a cast of theirs... even if the target is a Resto Shammy who is using his cooldowns to heal on the run. For some reason, they all think that this will make them un-interruptable... but of course Skull Bash is the interrupt SLASH gap-closer... I hope beyond hope that Skull Bash makes it to Live in its current form. It is so crisp and the reaction speed is LIGHTNING fast. My biggest problem so far has been finding a proper button to put it on, but I think I came up with a decent binding this morning in the shower, which I will try out today.

6) Our bleeds scale rather well with Mastery, though I worry that our other damage-dealing abilities will fall behind as a result. I would really like to see Shred's damage increased by ALL abilities which increase Bleed damage - Mastery (Cat Form), for instance.

7) Our burst damage is rather poor, at the moment. We cannot kill anyone in a Cyclone duration with any of our abilities in Cat Form. On the other hand...

8) Our pressure (if played correctly) against Healers is absolutely astounding. I play Feral+Disc and I have played Rogue+Disc when it was overpowered, and let me tell you that I have NEVER felt so powerful when targeting a healer. I do not know if this is due to healers not yet having figured out how their new rotations work or if they have not yet figured out that spamming FoL will OOM them even without a Feral on them, but they cannot handle a good Feral on them. I can chain some serious control on healers, and there have been a few instances where I have forced a healer OOM 1v1 and ended up getting the kill... which is new to me because I am a Feral. I can really see Feral+DK+HolyPriest working really well because of the strong, unmitigatable, damage Unholy DKs and Ferals can put out, coupled with two interrupts, a silence, and Maim for control elements, the anti-healer utility abilities in Skull Bash's debuff and Necrotic Strike, and the fact that we have a ranged 60% snare to peel for Guntir as well as instant-cast Cyclones and Entangling Roots.

I will try and post later in the week with my Cataclysm PvP video!

--------------------- EDIT 1 -----------------------

MMO-Champion has been falling behind on these sorts of things, so I thought I'd bring it up... new Feral glyphs:

Glyph of Feral Charge - Reduces the cooldown of your Feral Charge (Cat) ability by 2 sec and the cooldown of your Feral Charge (Bear) ability by 1 sec.
Glyph of Faerie Fire - Increases the range of your Faerie Fire and Feral Faerie Fire abilities by 10 yds.
Glyph of Tiger's Fury - http://cata.wowhead.com/item=67487

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