Okay, season nine; we need to talk a bit about this stuff. First things first - the basics we need to get out of the way. In Cataclysm, the arena points system has had an overhaul (and a much-needed one, in my opinion). Instead of playing your ten matches and getting points based on your final team rating (and personal rating), you have a points "cap". The way this works is by being assigned at the beginning of the week. So, let's say you end the week at 2000 team and personal rating. As soon as the server resets go through and the next week starts, your point-cap will be determined via that 2k team rating. Next, you have to actually play and win arena matches to get to the cap; each win is worth a certain number of conquest points and (I think) they are given out after each win up to the cap. The idea is that you can actually get your week's-worth of points TODAY if you were so inclined (and you win that much).

Okay, another aspect to discuss here is that there are two different sets entirely to purchase, and presumably this will remain the case throughout the entire expansion. The first set is purchasable via honor points (which you should have 4k of today if you had grinded properly before Cata was released), and it is an entire set of gear including Boots/Belt/Bracer/Back/Rings/etc. This is not really a change, but if you take this entire model and notice that there is also an arena/ratedBG set of gear with Boots/Belt/Bracer/etc then you start to see the difference. That is, you can acquire an entire set of gear based solely upon your success in BGs and you can acquire an entire set of gear based solely on doing arenas or rated bgs. This is something that is entirely appealing to me because I absolutely hate doing BGs in order to gear up for the arena. I may have to do so this week only, but at the very least, I will be able to do arenas with Guntir to kill time and earn points.

The last thing I want to point out is that Ferals and Frost Mages have largely gone under the radar in terms of receiving the nerfbat. That leads me to believe that we (Guntir and I) need to get into the threes bracket hard and early to climb before the inevitable nerfbat swinging sets in. Likely, there will be a week or two (or in case this is the DK system of season five; a season or so) where we are overpowered, and so we need to just grind like madness to be at or near the top. Sadly, I have not even hit 85 yet... my social life is getting in the way of my grinding life over and over again. I am half-way to 85 right now, but stuck at work, so likely I will hit 85 tonight and start looking for a decent Frost Mage to accompany Guntir and I on a 3v3s team to roll to the top.

I think that early-on in the expansion, double-melee+healer comps are going to be the best simply because of the lack of resilience on gear; however, as people get more and more gear, I expect that trend to die down a bit in favor of hybrid-comps (ranged+melee+healer). I am only thinking of starting the season as Feral+Frost+Disc because of the relative strength of both of the DPS classes involved and the arguably insane control this comp brings to the table. Rest assured, I will be spamming Trade tonight with:

"LF 2200+ experienced Frost Mage for Feral+Frost+Disc, PST"

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The reason I haven't been posting... well, okay there are a few reasons: first, I am now grinding in all my free time; second, I started going to the gym (again) about three weeks ago right after work, so I don't get home and done making/eating dinner and cleaning the dishes until around 7pm (which doesn't leave much time for grinding given that I wake up at 6:30 >_<); third, I have been extremely busy at work, so posting during the day is difficult as well; and fourth, it is the holiday season and in such fashions my girlfriend and I have been attending and throwing a number of parties and shopping and whatever-else during most of my free time. I think (read: hope) that after I hit 85 and plow through some BGs for honor gear and what-not the holiday party scene will have died down a bit and my schedule will become a bit more regular meaning I can actually fit in an hour to compose a post (usually it takes that long; today it will take 15m because that is what I have).

Today, I want to talk about gemming. First things first, however: Rake is bugged at the moment. Rake is ticking for me (81) for around 10k (crits) on mobs and closer to 6k (crit) on players. I do not expect this to remain permanently. That being said, Mastery is still by far and large our best stat against targets who can live longer than 10 seconds (for grinding I would still very much suggest stacking agility until you are blue in the face). It is important to note, however, that agility is ALMOST as good as Mastery, so you will not want to end up skipping socket bonuses for the most part.

Yellow - Mastery
Blue - Hit (to cap); Spell Pen (to cap); Stam+Mastery (green gem)
Red - Agility

Easy-peazy, right? If you cannot meet the hit and spell-pen caps via solid colored gems, replace red gems with purple gems of agility+hit/pen. The reason for this is as I explained before as Mastery is just the stronger of the two.

I would also like to point out that there exists a piece of PvP gear (shoulders) with expertise on it... I know that this is stupid, but I petitioned against it while on beta pretty vigorously and Blizzard did not seem to care at all. Reforge as much of it as you can to Mastery. Also, as far as my testing went on the Beta, the PvP Gloves do NOT have a bonus attributed to them, and if that remains true into S9, consider using your Wrathful Gloves instead; the stats are a lot lower, but that reduced cost to Skull Bash is imperative.


Oh... here's another thing that's been bothering me: people are already talking about how we are going to have "less critical strike chance in PvP" in Cataclysm because we will be reforging everything to Mastery. First off, this is simply wrong for the reason of not being able to reforge ALL our critical strike rating to Mastery, only a small piece of it and only if that piece of gear does not already have Mastery; second off, we still stack agility pretty hard and that aids our critical strike rating rather directly; and third, even if we are walking around with 30% critical strike chance, that is actually MORE than most Ferals had effectively in PvP settings in Wrath since Resilience USED TO reduce your chance to strike critically by as much as 15% (and most PvP Ferals were rocking 45% crit in full Wrathful), but it does not any more... so effectively we should have roughly the same effective critical strike chance in Cataclysm that we did in Wrath.

I think it's that resilience bit that keeps getting people. There is definitely going to be some lowered critical strike chances in the PvE environments, but that's a good thing in my opinion. Ferals were (arguably still are) too dependent upon critical strikes for building combo points to use our finishers, but in Cataclysm we seem to have enough critical strike chance to build our finishers in a good amount of time and keep them up long enough to land more. Additionally, we have more cooldowns to use and our damage is spread more amongst our bleeds than our direct damage abilities, so it will matter less about Shredding and more about Ripping/Raking (and they're our two least expensive and best damage-dealing abilities).

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