That's right, I threw together a quick compilation video of some 2s matches we had recorded. Nothing super special, but they are all against Frost+Spriest teams except for one (affliction+frost) and I thought it might be nice showing an instance where Blizz got something right. No, I'm not talking about hard-counters or anything (I have several videos... well perhaps not 'several' but a few... of Spriest+Frost teams beating us), I'm talking about some of the other changes mentioned in the patch notes that will actually benefit Ferals and the game as a whole.

Particularly, you might have noticed that during the first couple matches, the damage I was taking is absolutely ridiculous until Barkskin and Survival Instincts fall off. This is actually pretty counter-intuitive at a high level; one would not really expect to be taking more damage during his damage-reduction cooldowns than after them, but you have to trust me on this one. The reason for this seemingly crazy damage drop-off (and also why you see Mages using Coldsnap before Iceblock in half the matches) is because these teams essentially need to net a kill during Bloodlust or the SPriest's damage becomes negligible. Honestly, if you watch the matches, as soon as Bloodlust falls off I stop playing line quite so hard and actually sit Mages until they die. Admittedly, next patch this strategy is likely to change, but it is also one that will require a little bit less defensively-minded play during certain windows.

Aside from the video, I do have something I want to talk about: the patch tomorrow. DUN DUN DUUUUUUUN! Yes, the patch is dropping tomorrow, and yes a lot of Ferals will be moving on to bigger and better things, but rest assured: I hate myself just enough to continue playing Feral in the arenas and I plan on putting out more videos before my time the time has come to stop playing WoW. I know that a post or two ago I was a bit melodramatic and suggesting quitting the game forever, but any long-time reader should realize that this was an idle threat. Saddened though I am over the change to shapeshifting as it pertains to Ferals, I remain resolute in my belief that Blizzard will not, can not, allow Feral to move on from this point without some additional cooldown support. It may take them months, it may take them a few patches, but at some point Blizzard will have to acknowledge the precarious state they have left Ferals in with regard to magic-users training them down.

Okay, enough of my naïve view of the world; let's talk about some of the things that are coming about with this patch that may have flown under the radar because of all the shapeshifting discussions. I think the best way to approach these is class-by-class with small-scale bullet points.

* Unholy Pet damage down roughly 20%
* Death Coil damage down 10%
* Strike damage down 9% (Rage of the Rivendare)
* Strength reduced by 5% (Unholy Might)
* When Unholy Runes are spent, cannot be reduced below 100% movement (OP, imo)
* Virulence changed to 10/20/30% bonus disease damage (instead of +3/6/9% spell hit)

Overall: I would say that DK damage has been hit rather hard this patch. The RotR and Unholy Might nerfs basically leave Necrotic Strike in a rather odd position in that it will hit for something on the order of 4-8k on Live while it will be more like 3k-6k tomorrow (I'm adding the DD component and the absorb on both of these, btw). While DK anti-control got improved, most notably Icebound Fortitude (now breaks stuns in addition to immuning them), their damage was basically kicked in the teeth. I expect that DKs will indeed be flavors for a long time to come, but I do not really expect them to be unstoppable juggernauts anymore. I read this patch as a reasonably strong buff to mobility, but a rather decent nerf to damage.

* Barkskin no longer dispellable (awesome)
* Rip/Rake scaling component and static damage down 10%
* Shred scaling component and static damage up 22.22_%
* Mangle scaling component and static damage up ~22% (little less)
* Skull Bash lockout reduced to 4 seconds from 5 seconds (just a mean change)
* Berserk no longer grants fear immunity or breaks fear (this seemed unnecessary)
* Glyph of Entangling Roots redesigned (now lowers the cast time by 0.2s; no one will use this)
* Feral Charge: Cat should always turn the druid around to face the back of the target (faaaaaaaahk... this was a bug I was enjoying... sometimes actually getting to my target and not getting flipped around)
* Druids can correctly cast Barkskin while silenced (this is a HUGE buff).

Overall: I feel like Resto got hit pretty hard in the mana-longevity department, Boomkin got hit with unneeded nerfs, and Feral was hit with a number of mean nerfs while getting some increased damage output against low-armor targets. What is rather interesting here is the fixes to Barkskin. Essentially, Barkskin was auto-dispelled in a number of situations in 2s (you can actually see in my video this week, a mage spellsteals barkskin because I got stripped first) and definitely 3s/5s when you needed it and good teams would actually hit you with a Silence effect when trying to score a kill and your healer was CC'd to keep you from using it. Now, Barkskin cannot be dispelled AND it can be used while Silenced... this is a huge buff to Feral survivability (and Resto/Balance but it's hard to get excited about them). Additionally, the direct damage buff we got will make us quite a bit meaner with some up-time on a target if the target does not have high armor and a shield (read: anything but RShamm and HPal).

Yawning and a few other high-up number crunchers on the Feral side of things have also been posting interesting side-effects of buffing Shred back to its former glory. One interesting thing is that in PvE, it is no longer useful to use a Ferocious Bite until the target reaches sub-25% health (because of Blood in the Water); the damage of a 35-energy FB essentially mirrors that of Shred, but FB consumes Combo Points. In PvP, this matters less since FB is still about burst attempts against low-armor targets, but it is interesting to note that Shred will be hitting harder than FB again and it does not seem like Blizz even cares. This puts Ferals into that odd spot again where the target has 5-cps on him, you have 50 energy, and he has Rip/Rake/Mangle up for another 10 seconds; what to do? Using a Ferocious Bite against a Mage or Warlock might be a good answer, but if the damage is comparable to Shred then there is little point. One could use Maim more in an attempt to control incoming damage via stuns, but being energy-starved while your target is stunned is not really useful. SR is still a good finisher, but definitely not worth more than 1-2 points in PvP.

Another interesting side-effect of this patch is that many high-ups in the mathematics community have started commenting on the state of our damage output as it pertains to bleeds versus direct damage. With the nerf to bleed damage and the buff to direct damage, Ferals are actually at an interesting position where Critical Strike Rating is basically the same worth as Mastery, in terms of damage-per-point. The interesting thing is that while Mastery only increases one aspect of our damage table, Crit essentially increases it all as well as improving our combo-point generation. Many high-up Ferals have suggested that after the patch, reforging all our gear to Crit rating instead of Mastery rating (same socket color and all) may actually be more beneficial in terms of being an actual dps class. The idea is rather simple, at the moment most Feral PvP'rs with decent gear have anywhere from 33-36% crit after reforging nearly everything to Mastery and gemming Mastery after hitting the hit/spell-pen caps. The idea is that while stacking that amount of Mastery will give you something like 15-20% additional damage to your bleeds, the same amount of stat-points spent on crit will give you roughly 5-10% more damage on EVERYTHING including bleeds, and increase your CP-gen, thus allowing you more control throughout the fight. I might end up trying this tomorrow.

* Aimed Shot damage increased to 200% from 150%
* Arcane Shot damage increased 15%
* Auto-shot now usable while moving (huge buff)
* Deterrence now IS Iceblock except it doesn't remove debuffs
* Kill Command damage increased by 20%
* Kill Shot's scaling component increased by 50% (huge Killshots inc)
* Chimera Shot damage increased by 50%
* Wild Quiver increased roughly 17% per point (making it something like 2.1% per point up from 1.8)
* Glyph of Concussive Shot turns Concussive Shot into Judgment of Justice (limits maximum speed to 100%)

Overall: I think that Survival got a heft damage nerf, but there simply were none of these in PvP before anyway. Marksmanship hunters see a nice damage buff across the board and continue to have their decent control. The interesting aspect here is that Marks hunters will see a rather nice improvement to their white damage having it available to them all the time, even while on the move. In addition, they can line up some pretty sick damage combos via Steady Shot x3 to proc Master Marksman (insta-Aimed Shot), Chimera Shot to proc Marked for Death (another insta-Aimed Shot), and possibly a killshot depending on the HP of the target. Stacking 3x Steady Shots is not impossible in PvP and happens with enough regularity that I would not be surprised to see Marks Hunters becoming more prevalent in PvP, particularly to heavily destroy Mage teams. The AS-CS-AS combo does something on the order of 30-50k depending on gear and target (armor is a factor) and while this cannot happen except once every 10s, I wouldn't be surprised to see African Turtle Cleave and PHDk coming back in full-force after this patch.

* Fingers of Frost can no longer be dispelled and increases Ice Lance damage by 15%.
* Frost Specialization nerfed (15% less damage to frozen targets baseline, but increases Frostbolt damage by 15%)
* Ring of Frost fixed (not nerfed; read explanation)

Overall: Mages are untouched. There are a few big changes here that will definitely affect Frost, but overall nothing has changed. The Ring of Frost "nerf" is actually a fix. The problem is that the affected area is actually quite a bit bigger than the ring itself (as you will notice in my video... that clearly didn't hit me but I was frozen none-the-less). Additionally, the inner portion where you should be safe is actually quite a bit smaller on live that it looks like. Essentially, nothing is changing for Ring of Frost except that it will actually only be as effective as the effect on the ground looks like it is. When you walk around it, there will not be a good chance you will get hit by "nothing" and get frozen. Additionally, there is now a debuff on a target after the frozen debuff is removed (either runs its course or is dispelled) keeping you from being frozen again for 3 seconds. All things being equal, good Mages will continue to be good, and bad mages will continue to faceroll.

The damage nerf is an interesting one since in PvP Mages simply do not stack Mastery (though it seems like an amazing stat when compared against Crit or Haste). However, the baseline amount of Mastery they were receiving was too high. The devs essentially reduced how much Mastery they got for free by being Frost so that all damage against Frozen targets from 20% to 5%. The idea here being that against Frozen targets, they will do 15% less damage. To compensate this, they improved Frostbolt's damage by 15% on the Mastery talent, so Frostbolts will do the same damage against all targets tomorrow as they do today against only Frozen targets. This is actually a Frost Mage buff, if you notice. However, the Mastery change also affects Ice Lance, so Ice Lance basically lost 15% damage against Frozen targets (which was the lion's share of its damage), but gained 15% damage when used while Fingers of Frost is proc'd. This is a rather steep Frost nerf given that Fingers of Frost is often used in conjunction with Deep Freeze while Ice Lance is almost always used against Frozen targets regardless of FoF procs. That being said, this will lower Frost Mage damage pretty heavily outside of FoF procs.

* Divine Light cost increased 10%
* Divine Plea buffed against dispelling (lasts less time, but returns a little more mana)
* Flash of Light cost increased 10%
* Holy Light cost increased 10%
* Protector of the Innocent healing reduced 30%

Overall: Ret and Prot are basically at the same place they were before. Ret saw a few damage buffs, but because they cannot generate Holy Power well they will still be somewhat short-representation in PvP. Holy had essentially every heal either nerfed in healing or cost, which was necessary in my opinion. The Divine Plea change is actually a rather strong buff because it lowers the amount of time that the pally spends with the old Mortal Strike effect (-50% healing on targets) and it makes it so that if you only get 2 ticks of Divine Plea before it gets dispelled, you got the equivalent of 4 ticks on the previous version. I think that Holy Pallies will continue to be the best PvP healers in top-tier teams in 2s and 3s simply because of their great survivability, mobility, damage output, generally infinite mana, and utility. In addition, they get Rebuke on their bars for those very seldom opportunities where they actually get into melee range with a caster.

* Power Word: Shield is roughly twice as strong
* Mind Blast now deals 18% more damage than Mind Spike (as opposed to about 30% less)
* Grace is no longer limited to one target (24% bonus healing received; good against swapping teams)
* Pain Suppression is no longer dispellable (huge)
* Penance healing increased 20%
* Strength of Soul makes Inner Focus give the Priest 3/5 seconds of immunity to interrupts/silences and dispels.
* Strength of Soul now also reduces Weakened Soul when Greater Heal and Flash Heal are cast in addition to Heal (awesome).
* Chastise cooldown increased to 30 seconds (from 25) and it now properly breaks on damage.
* Focused Will now procs when critically hit (huge)
* 4-set bonus changed to giving the Priest a Hand of Freedom for 4-seconds after using PW:S on himself.

Overall: Holy Priests a little bit worse off after this patch because of the nerf to Chastise. Disc is going to be absolutely amazing tomorrow. I simply am astounded that these changes are actually going to come to pass. Disc will be a machine and nearly impossible to stay on (except for DKs) and one of their horrible problems at the moment is being addressed via Inner Focus and Strength of Soul: training a Priest and landing a kick will not necessarily spell death for the Priest anymore. This is just a hugely great buff to Disc.

* Combat Readiness now lasts 20s (down from 30s) but the Combat Insight buff lasts 10 seconds up from 6s.
* Smoke Bomb now lasts 5 seconds (down from 10s)
* Stealth (and Prowl) no longer broken from Demoralizing Shout/Roar.
* Elusiveness nerfed from 15/30s off of CloS to 10/20s reduced.
* Preparation no longer resets Evasion
* Shadowstep's cooldown increased from 20s to 24s.

Overall: Rogues actually got some nerfs this patch. Essentially, they are more easily locked down, their control has been nerfed a bit via Smoke Bomb, and you can actually target them as another melee since Preparation will no long reset Evasion. In addition, ShS going up another 4 seconds on the cooldown is pretty rough. Bad opponents of Rogues who don't understand Combat Readiness will still have trouble killing them, but essentially, the new strategy against RLS will be "make the Rogue evasion, swap to the Lock, make the Rogue CR, swap to the lock, kill the rogue". This might seem similar to the old version, but the old version also had "Live through bloodlust" and "make the Rogue evasion again, swap to the lock".

* Lava Burst damage increased 10%
* Purge now removes 1 Magic effect (down from 2)
* Cleansing Waters only heals once per cast now (down from two when it removed two effects)
* Earthshield can no longer be dispelled.
* Tremor Totem redesigned to now be a group WotF on a 1min CD (instead of a spammable anti-fear button).

Overall: Resto Shammies are a lot worse off tomorrow in PvP because of the removal of Bloodlust, the nerf to Cleansing Waters, and the general nerf to Tremor Totem. This will also make RLS a weaker team in general, and with Purge being nerfed so heavily, all shammies are going to end up struggling to fit roles on teams.

* Curse of Exhaustion nerfed to 30% (from 50%)
* Devour (Felhunter ability) nerfed from 8s CD to 20s CD and is no longer auto-cast (HUGE against bad locks).
* Drain Mana removed from the game.
* Fel Armor redesigned from 2% hp every 5 seconds to 3% direct damage done returned as health (huge nerf to double-dps locks)
* Unstable Affliction's silence reduced to 4seconds (down from 5s)

Overall: Warlocks are a much less face-roll class tomorrow. Devour is a HUGE nerf in all PvP scenes, and Drain Mana being removed makes them much less of a threat in 2s on Afflic+Healer teams. Curse of Exhaustion was another point where Warlocks were nerfed in 2s since only two healers in the game can remove Curses. Fel Armor being nerfed was just the cherry on top; you might notice the end of that video I posted is roughly twice as long as it took to kill the Mage and we were still fighting the Lock because of Fel Armor's self-healing component (in addition to Siphon Life, which is alive and well and still OP, imo). Again, this is another rather large nerf against RLS tomorrow... this team FEELS like it will be quite a bit weaker than today.

* Charge and Intercept now share diminishing returns on the stun category (Throwdown's category)
* Drums of War no longer reduces the cost of Piercing Howl (used to make it free; huge nerf)
* Lambs to the Slaughter changed to a stacking buff giving 30% extra damage from yellows (used to be next Overpower was 30% stronger only, but proc'd off of MS and Execute... this is much stronger now).
* Mortal Strike cost reduced by 5 rage (meh).
* Heroic Strike damage nerfed on a couple of talents.

Overall: Warriors are now going to be similar to Ferals in terms of precarious positioning. Instead of having HUGE amounts of up-time on targets and being able to stun them for forever and a day, they will have limited up-time with peels and end up clipping their own DR if Charge is used on CD. Many Warriors are considering going Fury simply for the increased damage and since Intercept will be a better stun on a slightly longer CD that will not DR itself. However, Throwdown simply gets kicked to the curb and cannot realistically be used for full duration anymore except by the best of players; expect good Warriors to use it as a CC on a healer or off-target when bunch-ups happen.


Whew... that is a lot of changes.

Overall, if you look at all the nerfs, it seems like a balancing act is actually happening. Warriors, Warlocks, Mages, DKs, and Rogues are all being pretty nastily nerfed and these classes hold the lion's share of top-representation above 2400. Ferals got their mobility nerfed in certain edge-cases and will have to relearn a lot of how to play their class (expect playing very conservatively as compared to the past against Mage teams), but also got some buffs to direct damage which will play heavily against low-armor targets. Additionally, the buff to Barkskin is huge now allowing the Feral to use it when it is needed regardless of the opponent's uses.

Yeah, I think this patch is going to hurt Ferals quite a bit, but the overall nerfs to other classes was probably large enough to mitigate a lot of that pain. Again, I fully expect that Ferals will, at some later date, get a cooldown or two to aid with magic effects (since we're the only melee who doesn't have any), but we will just have to wait and hope on that one.


My aim is to release videos like this every week (most weeks) again and hopefully get some good footage and eventually make an actual PvP video from some of the clips. Guntir does not want me to use any of the clips from today's videos; we have been rusty and he said he did not play very well (might even be a little upset about my posting this video). Oh well, we shall see!

Overall (last time I use it today, I promise), I am excited for tomorrow's patch.