Let me get the basics out of the way first:

Happy Christmas/Holidays I Cannot Spell and New Year!

I took two weeks off from work and subsequently ignored any/all emails and this blog. The latter of the things I ignored was somewhat unintentional, but I took the time off as a brief window for getting things done that I had been putting off for far too long. I did manage to get some arena in and play some WoW over my break (it was a vacation after all), but I think I could have largely gotten more done. First things first, Guntir and I (if I already wrote this much up, just move on to the next paragraph, I didn't bother rereading my last post as I just wanted something fresh up) started running the 2v2s bracket as Feral+Disc right as we had left off in season eight. The one thing I will note about Feral+Disc in this expansion, so far, is that even with the amazing about of peels and damage that Feral and put out, Disc is by far and large the weakest healer in the game and absolutely the most trainable. If a melee decided that Guntir needed to die, there was little that could be done to deter that melee's efforts. Because of this sad truth, Guntir decided to see if Shadow was a decent spec worthy of grinding us up to a respectable rating while we could sit on points until Disc was fixed.

Being as we had run a bit of Shadowclaw in season eight when we got bored, we knew the general idea of the comp and how to play it and since most of the teams we face these days are double-dps with about 1000 resilience, we were merely curb-stomping the vast majority of them. However, Shadow and Feral still have a great deal of problems dealing with Paladin healers who know what they are doing. The main point to make here is that Holy Paladins are essentially invincible until their melee of choice downs an opponent (in double-dps setups anyway). We faced a HPally+DK team which took about four minutes to kill Guntir after we had dropped the Pally to 1000 hp at least a few times. Holy Pallies are, and always have been, the only healer in the game wearing Plate, wearing a shield, and given 3-4 "oh shit"-buttons. Whenever we got the pally into a near-death situation, he had a button to press which would guarantee his survival.

In that same vein, I would like to make a small comment on the state of survivability as it pertains to armor class. Blizzard had stated early-on (as well as late) during development of Cataclysm that they wanted armor value to play a smaller roll (or rather, there should be a smaller impact from wearing cloth versus plate) in PvP, and while I think Resilience is going to end up being the largest determining factor in damage-dealt by all classes, armor value remains a rather large leg-up for Plate-wearing classes. The damage difference between a Shred critical against a Holy Pally versus a Disc Priest is still rather astounding with no reasonable end in sight.

While dancing on the topic of promises not kept, I have to express my distaste for the decision to give Mages yet another form of unbelievably overpowered crowd control. Ring of Frost has got to be the "last straw" in terms of obviously broken abilities given to obviously overpowered classes. With the addition of this and Smoke Bomb, I have to say that the 3s game (more on this in a second, but "the only blizzard-recognized bracket of arena) has become "do you run RMPally? Freewins!" I watched a 2900's video of running the new flavor of RMP and it boils down to "Rogue opens with Garrote on a caster then immediately drops a Smoke Bomb, Mage un-invises in the middle of the Smoke Bomb and uses Ring of Frost, Pally spams Exorcisms into the kill target while Rogue and Mage do their thing." If the healer wants to heal the kill-target, they have to come into the Smoke Bomb, which means going through the Ring of Frost, which means a guaranteed 8seconds of being Frozen which shares DR with nothing and that is if they trinket the 10s first one. The mere fact that these two abilities were put into the game with essentially zero arena-testing is staggering... it has essentially solidified my stance on "Blizzard is officially trying to silently kill off arenas in favor of rated bgs."

Rated BGs, of course, do not matter as much about killing as much as it does about completing objectives. In my opinion, BGs are not so much player-versus-player combat as much as they are multiplayer strategy-based questing, and I simply am not amused by this aspect of the game. Please do not misunderstand my meaning as "BGs take no skill," as BGs certainly require skill and coordination, but so does flash-mobbing, and I have no interest in that, either.

Alright... so Feral+Disc did not end up working out all that well, so we tried Feral+Shadow and found a better stay in this comp while people have low resilience and admittedly poor coordination. Guntir, however, loves being a healer and would not stand idly by while Disc (and we tried Holy as well, but it's arguably worse-off) could offer no healing prospects, so he decided to continue grinding his Shammy (who had hit 80 just prior to Cataclysm going live). Almost as soon as his Shammy hit 85 and got a PvP trinket, we stepped into the arena as Feral+RShammy. Without any pretense of over-hyping of this particular makeup I can say this much: once his Shammy gets some resilience gear, we will be nigh-unstoppable.

Feral+RShammy relies on a couple things that Feral+Disc cannot: first, RShammies essentially never run out of mana if played well; second, Feral puts out rather strong damage and provides enough peels for the Shammy to escape any melee except another Feral; and third, RShammy healing absolutely leaves Disc/Holy in its dust. Other aspects of the comp are amazing as well in the "Bash+Cyclone+Hex" combos lining up reasonably strong CC rotations while the kill-target is taking strong Bleed damage, and the fact that Feral and RShammies both bring interrupts against casters/healers which almost always pays off (interrupting UA against Afflic+Healer essentially nullifies their damage output), and RShammies keep the team nearly immune to Fear all the time (which is totally foreign feeling, but ultimately awesome).

Okay... so after the first few weeks of PvP play being available, I have to comment on Ghostcrawler's latest commentary on the state of the game and proposed upcoming changes. I suppose the easiest way to address these things would be on an item-by-item basis, so here we go (PvP-only stuff, btw):

The larger health pools, decreased impact of Mortal Strike debuffs, and slower healing are all having the desired effect in PvP. Burst damage has its place, but doesn’t determine the outcome of every encounter. There are several individual abilities that we aren’t happy with in PvP.

Hopefully, this is referring to Frost Mage and Warrior burst... they can do 80-90% of an HP pool in a 5s stun.

We’re keeping a close eye on dispels. We still like the design of making dispels more of a commitment rather than liberally sprinkling around dispel resistance or consequences for every class. Defensive dispels (removing a debuff) generally feel good, but we think offensive dispels (removing an enemy buff) feel too powerful, especially for DPS specs. In particular, Purge and Spellsteal will probably get nerfed.
We’re also looking at crowd control, interrupts, and self-healing in PvP. It’s possible we’ll reduce the durations of some crowd control effects, especially the area effect ones, and decrease the duration of interrupts.

Reducing the durations of some crowd control effects is a good thing, and suggesting "especially the area of effect ones" means Hungering Cold and Ring of Frost (are there any others? I guess you MIGHT be able to consider Frost Nova one...).

Priests are a little weak in PvP, especially at mobile healing. We have made some changes to glyphs and talents to enhance their survivability and instant healing.

This is almost entirely Priests' problem at the moment. Guntir believes that GC is missing (or misstating) a key point in that it isn't Priests' mobile-healing, but mobility that is lacking. Having played both Disc and now Resto Shammy (as well as a Holy Pally in Wrath), the problem seems to be that while every healer can make distance on melees, Priests simply have to tank damage rather than escape. Having the ability to heal better on the run is nothing to scoff at, but neither is it the entire problem. Additionally, Guntir feels that Penance will be made "able to be used while moving" with these changes.

Even after we fixed their mastery, Feral druid bleeds still do a lot of damage and are undispellable. We plan to shift some of that damage back to main attacks. They are also a little too hard to control. Given that they are already hard to root, snare, or polymorph, we think the fear immunity from Berserk is too much.

Ouch. I agree that Feral bleeds still do a lot of damage and I agree that they are undispellable. What I do not understand is how they plan on "shift[ing] some of that damage back to main attacks" (presumably White Swings, Shred, and Ferocious Bite to name a few). I feel that one possible change that is most certainly coming is that the Feral Mastery is going to change. Likely, a 50% reduction in the capacity of bleed damage is going to be removed from the Mastery bonus for Ferals just to keep the bleeds in line. One possible change I could (but do not expect to) see as well is tacking on some amount of direct damage component to Feral Mastery so-as to not unbalance the stat in the weak direction.

The Fear immunity being removed from Berserk is, in my opinion, going to hurt at first, but ultimately make for a more balanced game. The only hope I have is that abilities like Hibernate and Scare Beast are made to no longer work on Feral Forms, but I would not be surprised if the only thing in the patch notes is "Berserk no longer grants the Feral Fear immunity." Although, for such a long cooldown, I would expect it to grant us something to allow our up-time to remain good, given that other 31-point talents for dps classes work this way already *cough*brostorm*cough*.

Arms warrior burst damage might still be too high in PvP, while we don’t have a great way to adjust their sustained damage for PvE. The Lambs to the Slaughter talent is a good place to address this. We also might nerf warrior stuns.

Lovely! Warrior stuns are a bit insane... I have no idea why they were given Throwdown when they already had a number of stuns via gap-closers, Improved Hamstring (which is not a stun, but might as well be for healers), and Pummel now being useable in Battle Stance. Nerfing Lambs to the Slaughter is a good place to start, given I continue seeing MS+Overpower combos dealing 20-25k damage every 6 seconds or so thanks to Taste for Blood.

We think Arms and Fury warriors are getting too much damage out of Heroic Strike. We want it to be clear that it’s a rage dump and not make it the hardest hitting ability.
For Holy priests, we’re increasing Chakra’s duration and changing Surge of Light so it can now benefit from Flash Heal and Greater Heal and can crit.


We’re making some additional buffs, such as Pain Suppression and Barkskin, undispellable.

This is only funny because for the entirety of the Cataclysm Beta up until it was closed down, Barkskin was undispellable. Once Cataclysm went live, we noticed that Barkskin was magically dispellable again, and I think we all assumed it was a bug given that there were no announcements that it would be changed back and (again) it was undispellable the day the Beta was taken down. Oh well... yay "buffs", right?

We’re buffing Wild Mushroom. It’s a cool spell that isn’t getting enough play.

I have not trained this ability because of how amazingly terrible it is... I do not see a change they can make that would entice me to spend the gold. On that same note, I have still not trained Stampeding Roar, and based on it not being mentioned in this post, I assume I never will.

Empowered Touch will now benefit from Regrowth as well. We’re also buffing the Glyph of Regrowth.
We are looking at Holy Concentration (after our most recent buff) and Omen of Clarity to make sure they don’t account for too much mana savings.


We are probably going to remove Drain Mana from warlocks. It is incredibly situational in PvE but causes problems in PvP. This might mean we need to evaluate Mana Burn as well.

It is about god-damned time. Giving a DPS-class a mana-drain is unfair, much like giving a DPS-class an offensive dispel; good riddance to the both of these problems (hopefully). Removing Mana Burn is more tricky given that Priests are in such terrible shape at the moment and Shadow cannot afford to give up damage for mana burning. To quote Guntir "I hope they remove Mana Burn from that game; I am tired of having my mana longevity [or lack thereof, in my opinion -Rey] balanced around my ability to land Mana Burns."

Inferno will no longer increase the radius of Hellfire.

Duh. I think we all saw that QQ-train coming when this one went live; Warlocks can knock you out of stealth without line of sight simply because Hellfire would hit you from 30 yards away.

Shadow and Flame can now proc from Incinerate in addition to Shadow Bolt.
We want to redesign Improved Soulfire.
Censure will no longer break Repentance.


As part of the Marks and Beastmaster buffs, we’re buffing Aimed Shot, Kill Shot, Chimera Shot, and Kill Command.

That makes sense as basically everything but Survival is in terrible shape at the moment.

To reduce mage control, we are discussing reducing the duration of Frost Nova and Ring of Frost.

I think I speak for everyone on the planet when I say "you had better be doing more than 'discussing' reducing the duration of Frost Nova and Ring of Frost."

We want to make it clear that Combat is intended to use fast off-hand weapons. We also want to polish Revealing Strike a bit.
We want to make sure Enhancement shaman avoid caster weapons.
We want to make sure Unholy DKs prefer two-handed weapons.


Necrotic Strike needs to be affected by resilience.

Understatement of the expansion; woo, got hit for 8k and it's going to absorb 9-10k more healing... ya!

For Cataclysm, we changed Death Strike almost completely into an ability for Blood DK tanks, which is a bit unfortunate. We want to make sure it is still a useful button for Frost or Unholy DKs who need healing.

Did they not say (above) something akin to "we want to lower self-healing for dps classes"? Maybe I am just not getting it here, but it seems like that classes with the best self-healing are also the ones getting more self-healing love... just sayin'.

We also want to address DK mobility in PvP.

In terms of mobility for melees, the ranking looks like this:

Feral > Warrior > DK > Enhance > Rogue > Ret Pally

If they want to "address" DK mobility, it better be in the context of how popping AMS and IBF at the same time is nigh-equivalent to using Bubble in terms of being able to be stopped or slowed.

We think we overnerfed Every Man for Himself, and are reverting it back to a 2-minute cooldown again. We might evaluate other racials after we’ve seen more PvP.

... maybe ... It really depends on how strong the trinkets are from PvE. The main problem was when you would go against a human mage (or something) who had two amazing trinkets from heroic lich king encounters dropping ridiculous burst damage because of them. If the PvP trinkets actually upgrade from season to season, then at the very least EMFH will not be so game-breaking because the stats should be a wash.

“GC, is this the final list of changes? Does this mean I can expect no changes for my class? Does this mean you don’t care about me?”
No. This is some stuff we are looking at so that you’ll have some context if you see changes on a future PTR. The final list of class patch notes for the next patch will doubtless be much longer.

I hope so... there is something to be desired amongst these brief glimpses into the next big thing. Again, I still have not trained Stampeding Roar for how awful it is, and I do not plan to unless completely overhauled.