I had to deal with the stupid Time Warner Cable people this weekend because I am basically eating unplayable lag starting around 7/8 PM every night. They fixed nothing and told me that it would have to happen on the software side and that it would take 2-3 weeks to resolve... if they decide to resolve it at all. So yeah, I spent the entire weekend on the phone with these morons trying to get this taken care of. BAH!

Additionally, I did not have a chance to discuss something Nethaera brought up on the boards concerning Feral PvP on Friday (got busy late in the day), so I just wanted to repost my post on that topic. Neth's original post first followed by my rebuttal and suggestions:

On the second point, we’ve been over this issue quite a bit, but the core issue is that Ferals used to not have a lot of utility in PvP, but were also really hard to control. We watched as players told us over the years that they wanted more utility so that they could actually be a valuable member of their team, so we gave Ferals a lot of utility they didn’t have before, but in turn we thought it was fair to make them slightly easier to control. We realize there are a few different ways we could have gone on this and that some players would no doubt have preferred to keep the iconic ability to not be crowd controlled instead of gaining things like an interrupt and better crowd control of their own. (source)

If I am reading this correctly, then I am to understand that Feral was given a CC effect, an interrupt, and the like despite being difficult to control, and when that was deemed to be too much, the difficulty in being controlled was removed. Instead of toned down, nerf, or balanced in other ways, all Feral mobility was removed in a blanket trade for everything every other melee has? In essence, I am fine with being given a CC effect and an interrupt as a trade for losing SOME mobility, but in truth, the CC effect we got was lackluster in its implementation as is the interrupt.

Let me explain, further, why some Ferals are still peeved about the decision to remove all Feral mobility against root-reliant classes. First, let us discuss the problems with removing all of the anti-root effects that Feral had (shapeshifting). This was discussed rather lengthily in the PTR boards while testing was still going on before being deployed to live, but the facts have not changed: Feral is still the only melee spec in the game without any cooldown or non-cooldown buttons to press when we get inevitably root-CC'd without a dispeller (or if the dispeller cannot afford the GCD to dispel us or is out of LoS, etc). The list of abilities which can be used to break or preemptively immune (or both) root effects is long and boring and linked nigh-daily so I will not repeat it here; suffice to say that removing all Feral root-breaking would have been acceptable if, and only if, a cooldown were added or altered to give Feral a button to press once every thirty to forty-five seconds that would get us out of roots (do a search on the Druid boards for Stampeding Roar and you will find the front-runner of the ideas for such a cooldown).

It seems prudent to explain why Feral is still upset about this "phantom trade" of our mobility for utility in terms of the supposed utility we have gained. First, Predator's Swiftness is an amazing bit of utility; it would be a lie to suggest otherwise. Being able to use Cyclone effectively and on short demand instantly can be a devastating blow to the opposing team. However, the main issue here has to do with our quality of life with regard to Predator's Swiftness. Particularly, training a Feral is, has been, and forever seems to be the best strategy when facing one; there is no downside to strictly training a Feral until he has died. As such, dispel-training the Feral is doubly effective in this regard because it will keep him from utilizing his instant-cast procs because Predator's Swiftness is still dispellable. This entire setting is a vicious cycle: training the Feral is the best strategy because he cannot deal damage and survive at the same time, and as a bonus the opposing team is rewarded for training a Feral because it becomes trivial to keep his instant-cast procs off of him thus keeping his pressure at a minimum.

Further to this, the interrupt (Skull Bash) that was given this expansion is another amazing bit of utility; again, it would be false to suggest otherwise. However, Skull Bash is plagued with the same problem(s) as our other utility: it suffers from quality of life issues by the implementation. It harkens back to how Feral Charge (Bear) worked prior to Cataclysm (and I assume it was for the flavor of that design rather than anything else) in that it charges an enemy and interrupts them if they are casting. Feral was given a talent to make it unique from the other specializations to get the cooldown down to ten seconds and the up-time to four seconds (previously, 5/10), and it applied a debuff to increase the cost of spells by 10% (previously 30%). The first issue is that the interrupt lags behind the charge effect; that is, if you are attempting to interrupt someone and you hit Skull Bash, they will see you charging and can cancel their cast before the interrupt occurs and avoid the lockout. The second issue is that because the interrupt is tied to the charge effect one cannot use the interrupt on a target in melee range while rooted; this particularly adds insult to injury because we previously had a means to escape roots to attempt to interrupt our target and while more often than not no caster will be within melee range of us while rooted, it does occasionally occur and we can do nothing about it, currently. The third issue is the 10% increased cost of spells effect simply not scaling at all; it seems to have been an attempt to add uniqueness to the Feral utility arsenal, and while I am sure all Ferals appreciate the sentiment at face value, in practice it simply comes up short.

As healers get more and more spell power and their healing grows stronger and stronger, they will be forced to use fewer and fewer heals. Not only will they be using fewer and fewer heals, but they will likely start moving from their expensive heals to their inexpensive heals which drops the cost of spells an order of magnitude... not some piddly amount. While 10% reduced healing scales against the improvements healers see in their output, the Brutal Impact debuff scales against the cost of the spells being used, which are static in mana cost. Again, this is a quality of life issue; had the debuff been extremely useful and/or powerful, then it would have required Ferals to keep it on the target a majority of the time rather than using the interrupt as it was intended to be used (as an interrupt), but if the debuff is weak (as it is currently), then the debuff becomes something of a joke and the interrupt is used solely as an interrupt. This is not a problem that can be resolved on one side or the other, but it does cause Ferals to ask the question "if the debuff is useless, then why must I spend two talent points on an interrupt that every other melee gets for free?"

In other aspects of utility, there are stuns. Feral has access to, in reality, two stuns: Bash and Maim. Both of these stuns suffer the same quality of life problems as the abilities I have mentioned above. Bash is particularly clunky to use on anything but an off-target because of the GCD required to swap into and the subsequently out of Bear Form; attempting to use this in our DPS rotation is simply out of the question because by the time we got back into Cat Form to deal damage again, over half the duration of the stun would have transpired and it would have been a waste of a cooldown. I believe that this was left this way intentionally to keep Feral from getting an on-demand stun that would allow them to land damage which could be followed by Maim (recall, Maim used to be a funny incapacitate effect that would not necessarily break on damage and lasted seven seconds at five combo points) to land a rather large on-target control combo during which a huge amount of damage could be dropped. Again, I believe that Bash is perfectly fine as-is in that it will not be used as an on-target control effect but more likely an off-target CC effect.

However, this brings us squarely to Maim as an on-target control effect. This suffers from what is, in my humble opinion, the worst quality of life issue yet named. Precisely, Feral as a play-style is not that of a Rogue; Feral does not have the access to energy regeneration like Rogues do, Feral does not have the ability to generate combo points nearly as effectively as Rogues do, and we have more finishing moves which are required for full damage output. All these facts being presented as givens leaves Feral in a bad position being forced to decide between dealing meaningful damage output or controlling a target to whom they are trying to deal meaningful damage. The counterpoint being that Rogues can deal 100% of their damage output while maintaining a Kidney Shot rotation without a loss in damage save that Eviscerate or Envenom depending on spec they could have used instead, but the damage output during the Kidney Shot trumps said finishers and likely will refund a combo point and some energy and will allow the use of Eviscerate or Envenom usually during the Kidney Shot.

Again, let me emphasize this point: Feral is not the same play-style as a Rogue. They have similarities, but ultimately are entirely different classes and specializations; however, they both attempt to fill the same role of melee dps. Back to the point of Maim - because of its high cost in both combo points and energy and its extremely high opportunity cost (it usually costs us refreshing Rip for 10-15 seconds outside of cooldowns which means our damage output gets cut in half for twice to three-times the duration of the stun just for using it), it simply cannot be used in most situations in PvP outside of Berserk (where energy and combo point generation are at their pinnacle). The quality of life issue here is that under normal conditions, Maim cannot be used in PvP because of its extremely high opportunity cost.

Another quality of life issue that Feral has to deal with is the extremely up-and-down aspect of Ferocious Bite. For all the reasons that I have mentioned about Maim not being able to be used in real PvP situations, Ferocious Bite suffers for all the same plus a bit more. It is true that Ferocious Bite has that once-in-a-while utility of being able to actually land a rather large critical strike against a low-armor target that may land a kill and therefore it has a place on the Feral PvP action-bar (landing kills is important), but it also has a great number of drawbacks in addition to its extremely high opportunity cost. Firstly, it does less damage than Shred at the base 35 energy; this problem was thought to have been resolved in Cataclysm when Shred and Mangle's damage was normalized around being part of the arsenal, but leaving Bleeds to do the bulk of the dps-work. However, with the buffing and nerfing of Shred/Mangle and Rip/Rake (in that order), Shred and Mangle are back to their WotLK states and dealing far more damage than Ferocious Bite could ever hope to do.

Again, in PvP, Ferocious Bite can be used at 75 energy which will cause it to deal 200% damage before critical strike multipliers and therefore can yield a MUCH bigger hit than Shred, but the cost (both energy and combo points) comes back to bite us again. 75 energy to deal a strike that consumes all of our combo points and leaves us energy-starved every time is only useful in one situation: landing a killing blow against a low-armored target. Against a high-armored target, the 75-energy Ferocious Bite critical strike does something (against 3k+ resilience) on the order of 7-8k damage. Using three-fourths of our resources and all of our combo points to land less than one-fifteenth of our target's health pool is simply unacceptable; we are always better off using those combo points to keep Rip or Savage Roar up.

Another example of poorly designed abilities based on nothing more than their effect on the Feral quality of life is Tiger's Fury. For the most part, Ferals are in love with Tiger's Fury because of the talent King of the Jungle, which has given us a cooldown to aid us in our perpetually energy starved condition. The quality of life issue creeps back into play with the change to Tiger's Fury that came with Cataclysm. Tiger's Fury used to give a base-damage upgrade which would directly translate to better Shred damage (since Shred's damage is based off of our base-damage); however, Tiger's Fury was changed to be a strict 15% damage buff over the same duration with the release of Cataclysm. While many Ferals do not really see this as a problem, it becomes one with the way it affects our bleed damage.

Cataclysm meant many sweeping changes, and of these changes was that of addressing the "rolling trinkets with HoTs/DoTs" change. This update simply made it so that when the effect of a trinket or ability fell off, the HoTs or DoTs applied would recalculate their healing/damage accordingly and no longer be affected by those temporary buffs. This was done in order to keep HoTs/DoTs from "rolling" or being reapplied infinitely with the trinket effect for an unintended full-fight duration (as long as the HoT/DoT did not fall off). So, to recap, with the release of Cataclysm, HoT and DoT abilities would no longer remain with temporary buffs once those temporary buffs fell off. The sole exception to this rule is, of course, Tiger's Fury. Tiger's Fury applies a 15% bonus damage buff that will cause Rip and Rake to deal 15% bonus damage for, if applied while under the effect of Tiger's Fury, their entire duration - well after the six-second duration Tiger's Fury has fallen off.

A lot of Ferals will claim that this is working as intended, or that it is okay for the purposes of PvE, and these same Ferals largely rely on this implementation for dealing damage and being included in raids. The larger problem then becomes that our other abilities end up getting attacked for this implementation; namely, Rip and Rake were nerfed because of them dealing too much damage, and the amount by which they were nerfed was right around 10% making it painfully clear that Rip/Rake could have more easily been changed to be NOT affected by Tiger's Fury and hit the same desired outcome. Going back to the quality of life discussion, Tiger's Fury is an ability at odds with its own implementation: it is designed to be used as a means to return energy for burst damage, but also to be used as a primer for our Bleeds to allow them to deal their maximum damage.


1) Predator's Swiftness - Trivially dispelled.
2) Skull Bash - Interrupt issues, issue while rooted, high cost.
3) Bash - Designed to be extremely difficult to use as anything other than an off-target CC effect.
4) Maim - Extremely high opportunity-cost.
5) Brutal Impact - Debuff lackluster and/or counter to design; 2 points required, only 1 point a boon for half the talent.
6) Berserk - Cooldown too long.
7) Tiger's Fury - Designed for bleed damage improvement and burst, but cannot do both.
8) Primal Madness - Extremely lackluster by design.
9) Ferocious Bite - Extremely high opportunity-cost; extremely lackluster damage against high-armor targets.

My suggestions for each of these are as follows (not condensed at all; sorry for the great wall of text):

1) Predator's Swiftness being easily dispelled is a problem, but it may be one of balance; having instant-cast Cyclones with every finisher, which means roughly a 10-15s implied cooldown in the absence of dispels, can be quite powerful. That being said, I do not believe that simply making Predator's Swiftness undispellable would be a great solution, but it may be the best solution. In addition, a deep Feral talent could act somewhat like Shadow's Sin and Punishment in that if Predator's Swiftness gets dispelled, perhaps a shorter CC effect would have a chance to proc (something like a 3s mini-Cyclone that was a magic effect instead of physical and was on a different DR category). Again, I do not have any great suggestions for this one, and likely just making it undispellable would be the best route, but it would do nothing to qualm the fact that training a Feral from start to finish is the absolute best tactic available to any team.

2) Fixing Skull Bash is much simpler than that of Predator's Swiftness. Firstly, making the interrupt the first part of the effect would do wonders; that is, making it so that the target was interrupted when I started my charge as opposed to getting to my target would resolve a lot. Secondly, making the ability work while rooted but not charge seems like the right move to make. Thirdly, even with the glove bonus the cost of this ability is around 15 energy for a melee who spends the majority of his time energy-starved, and so I suggest that the base cost be made 15 energy and the glove bonus be left as-is to make it only cost 5 energy.

3) Bash - I do no feel that Bash requires any buffing, but I bring it up because of the discussion of opportunity-costs for Maim. That is, if we could use Maim effectively on-target, then it would not really matter that we could not also use Bash on-target; it would hit DR and would not have a place here... which I believe is the intention behind the design currently. In addition, because of the change I will suggest in item #5 (Brutal Impact), I feel that Bash should be made into a 3 second duration stun baseline; there is little reason why any other spec should be assuming that they will have any better than a 3s stun when they have access to Cyclone and are ranged by design.

4) Maim - Fixing Maim is extremely tricky... the problem with it lies at the core of the Feral mechanics; we cannot generate combo points easily enough to use Maim effectively while keeping Rip and Rake up, which means that using Maim is tantamount to cutting our dps in half for 10-15 seconds while we ramp-up another Rip. Everything that Maim provides in terms of control is entirely countered by the fact that it completely destroys our damage in most cases. For my part, I think that Maim was introduced as an ability to aid Ferals without giving any thought to the utility we still required; it used to be our quasi-interrupt effect (interrupting with Maim would lock the target out of their school for a few seconds); it used to be a longer duration than 5s that might not break on damage, allowing us more time to re-apply Rip (used to be 7s at 5cps); it used to be a good way to land a long CC-chain on-target (5p Maim + Bash + Cyclone = 18s of CC). None of the original implementation is left with Maim any longer, and I think that it is time that something changed.

I believe that having the ability to stun your kill-target in PvP is something that Feral needs. We currently have this in Maim, but it requires a huge opportunity-cost outside of Berserk, which is a 3 minute cooldown and therefore is not very useful. For my part, I believe that Maim should be removed from the game. I say this understanding full-well that removing abilities from the game is a rather large change to make on short-notice (like a patch) and is usually saved for expansion releases and the like, but we have precedence of such things happening in Drain Mana being removed, and while Drain Mana was removed because of the nature of it being entirely too difficult to balance around, Maim should be removed because of its extremely poor nature and profound failing at performing its intended job, which has (as I pointed out) become muddled over the years.

Instead, I suggest that Stampede be amended to allow the use of either Ravage or Pounce after using Feral Charge Cat. This would allow Feral some on-target control once every half-minute without entirely destroying the damage-output of the Feral in question. In addition, it would allow the Feral to choose between either dealing full damage or on-target control (the choice between Ravage or Pounce; burst vs. control).

5) The debuff needs to be improved in some way that makes it worth applying, but not so heavy that it should always be applied regardless of whether the target is interrupted by it or not. Adding something like 30% slower cast times (Curse of Tongues) feels too heavy-handed, for instance, and would likely be deemed required up as much as possible against casters rather than waiting for the interrupt opportunities. Perhaps a reimplementation of the debuff itself to make it scale against healing received instead of mana cost; something like "burns 10% of the effect of any spell effect used for 10s" which would cause a heal that cost 1000 mana and healed 2000 hp to "burn" 200 mana (instead of increasing the cost by 100 mana). This way it would scale against the effect of the spells rather than the cost (it would work similarly against casts; if someone used Wrath and it cost 1000 mana but did 2000 damage, it would "burn" 200 mana on the cast).

Further, I feel that Brutal Impact is a required 2 talent point expenditure for all Feral PvP builds at the moment, but only used as a way to get access to a 10s CD Skull Bash. Largely, the other aspect of Brutal Impact is trumped and therefore ignored because of how much more important the Skull Bash portion is to Feral play. Currently, Brutal Impact increases the duration of the stuns Bash and Pounce by 1 second for 1 talent point, and 0 seconds for two talent points; that is, taking 2/2 Brutal Impact does not increase the duration of Bash or Pounce by any more than taking 1/2 Brutal Impact. As I suggested in the last three bullet-points, I feel that most of the issues above can be addressed here (in conjunction with the changes I suggested above). Simply change Brutal Impact to increase the stun duration on Bash and Pounce by 1/2 seconds at 1/2 combo points. This would improve Pounce (newly made into the on-target control stun) to a 5second stun (to properly replace Maim) and leave Bash as-is for Feral tanks who have become somewhat reliant on the 5s stun duration.

This change coupled with the above changes would leave Ferals with an on-demand on-target control stun instead of burst damage (Pounce instead of Ravage) that would not severely impact the normal dps rotation, thus lowering the opportunity cost of trying to stun your kill-target and allowing combo points to be used on the other finishers.

6) Berserk was designed to be a long-duration, long cooldown to land powerful burst damage. Because of this, it was given the The Beast Within treatment (toned down slightly) and made to be difficult to peel during this burst opportunity. With the removal of the Fear-break and immunity, Berserk has become a long cooldown and long duration which is easily countered by many many specs, so the burst opportunity is lost in a large number of cases; for example, it can largely not be used against a Mage because of our weakened up-time via not being able to shapeshift out of root-effects. To this point, it still maintains its disposition of not allowing Tiger's Fury to be used at the same time, so it has to be used at a energy-pooling or with Tiger's Fury used just prior (which happens in the majority of the cases) which is easily spotted, expected, and CC'd through.

I feel that Berserk, since it no longer provides any immunity to CC effects for its duration, should be made into a 6s duration and a 1min cooldown. The idea being that the opportunity to land meaningful burst damage will be much lower, but happen more often so that Feral can use this cooldown and if CC'd through it in its entirety, will not feel that they have wasted such a long cooldown. At 8s duration, it will mean 5 seconds of up-time (since Berserk is still on the GCD) at a 1min CD, which would be 15s at 3min when multiplied back out (which would be spot-on) and the glyph would then be changed to accommodate this new duration by going from an additional 5s to an additional 2s (which would make the up-time 7s at 1m and would translate to 21s at 3m; 1second longer than live versions).

This change would, essentially, reward strong players who following diminishing returns and therefore know when it would be safest to use this cooldown on a kill-target. In addition, it would make the existence of the on-demand on-target control stun (via FCC+Pounce) not as powerful since that could potentially be used as a rather large DPS combo, and with this change would still be a viable tactic, but not nearly as uber-strong.

7) Tiger's Fury is a good dps cooldown at the moment, but it is, as I pointed out, at odds with itself in design. It is supposed to be a strong source of burst via King of the Jungle and also a strong source of bonus damage to our bleeds via its innate bonus damage component. I feel like originally, and up until Cataclysm truthfully, it was designed to be a source of additional burst damage as opposed to a bonus to our bleeds. In Wrath of the Lich King, for example, one of Feral's biggest issues was that of our damage output being entirely dependent on Savage Roar being up 100% in part because it increased all our damage by 30%, but primarily because it increased our bleed damage by 30% and was therefore a prerequisite to proper damage output. This was eventually publicly decried as a rather expensive and clunky mechanic that was holding Feral back in PvP (and PvE somewhat).

This dependency no longer exists on Savage Roar, but was moved to Tiger's Fury for hitherto unknown reasons. It is the same can of worms all over again with having to prime our bleeds with another dps ability, and one which is seemingly meant for burst damage. Admittedly, Tiger's Fury is infinitely easier to use in conjunction with our bleeds than Savage Roar was/is, but it is still a prerequisite to dealing sufficient damage and as such is a hindrance to Feral play.

Therefore, I suggest dropping the 15% bonus damage in its entirety from Tiger's Fury. This would result in basically an 8-9% damage loss across the board in PvE (as Rip is basically only reapplied with Tiger's Fury at the moment) and a little bit less in PvP. To offset this, I feel that Tiger's Fury should be returned to its position as an ability to improve direct damage rather than bleed damage. Therefore, Tiger's Fury should provide some innate armor ignore for the duration (which is short at 6s). I believe (from my napkin maths) that something on the order of 35% would be sufficient in re-balancing the 15% damage lost on Rip/Rake applied via Tiger's Fury to damage improved on Shred/Mangle/Ferocious Bite.

8) Primal Madness is, by its current design, an awful AWFUL damage-dealing bonus. I do not have the numbers (which have been worked out by the best-of-the-best in Feral theorycrafters and simulation-writers) on hand, but it is pretty renowned for being not worth any points unless there are simply no other dps talents to take (which usually means 1 point in a PvE build). With the change I mentioned above to Tiger's Fury, Primal Madness may be a better use of talent points in terms of damage output supplied per point invested, but I believe that it would still come up short as a dps talent.

Therefore, I suggest that Primal Madness be changed to a bonus to Tiger's Fury as opposed to a bonus to King of the Jungle. That is, I suggest it increase the effect of Tiger's Fury by 50/100% which would make the Tiger's Fury buff give 35% at base, 53% at 1/2, and 70% at 2/2 in Primal Madness (note that the values are basically rounded, the idea being that 2/2 PM would mean 70% armor ignore while TF is active). This would bring Primal Madness into a position of actually increasing damage output by an amount that is non-negligible and would improve Tiger's Fury as an ability used when trying to land direct damage.

9) To improve Ferocious Bite as an ability is tricky; it must have a high opportunity-cost or it would become the defacto finisher in place of Rip in the context of dealing damage, and it cannot therefore have its damage improved much further without risking just that. By improving Tiger's Fury to ignore armor, we have made FB into an ability which, at the very least, will have a window of opportunity were the damage will be decent against high-armor targets, but it still almost certainly still be better in all cases above the kill-zone (~15k hp) to simply use another Shred instead of Ferocious Bite. Additionally, attaching more utility to Ferocious Bite (by way of returning combo points when it fails to kill a target or some-such) is worrisome because it would mean even more utility for a spec which has just been punished for gaining utility and having high mobility (we can still shapeshift out of snares, for example, and giving us further utility might incur yet another nerf to an underwhelming specialization).

On the other hand, because Rip does so much damage as a finisher, it might be the intention of the developers to leave Ferocious Bite as an execute-esque ability to be used at high energy to attempt and land a kill rather than to be used as part of the normal rotation. If this is the case, then making FB the clear-choice when deciding between waiting to reapply Rip or go for burst should be the first step. Therefore, I would suggest amending Blood in the Water to make Ferocious Bite act more like a "finisher" than an ability which refreshes our true "finisher". That is, change Blood in the Water to allow the Rip-refresh on targets at-or-below 50% HP and have it affect Ferocious Bite directly by giving it 30% armor ignore on targets at or below 25% hp. This way, a Ferocious Bite used on a target at or below 25% with Tiger's Fury active would have 100% armor ignore and therefore be the best-button to press for direct damage as opposed to Shredding again. Additionally, this would fix the issue that is players being in a "wounded" state (sub-50%) for most the match, but not in a "very wounded" state (sub-25%) and thus leaving Blood in the Water useless outside of PvE.


To be quite clear on the matter, I am NOT asking for Feral to get more damage. In fact, I am suggesting that Feral have its damage adjusted so that it is less favorable when used against low-armor targets, and slightly stronger against high-armor targets while at the same time fixing some of the glaring quality-of-life issues facing the specialization today. The hope is that the damage output would remain roughly the same while the issues facing the class are resolved by these changes I have suggested.

Recent readers may recognize some of these suggestions as condensed versions of the LONG list of suggestions I posted about a month ago. I basically trimmed down my suggestions and tried to make them as balanced as possible in terms of actual changes. I really wanted the idea to be that I was suggesting not DPS buffs, but rather play-style changes which would make Feral more easily played as a DPS class without totally undermining the rotation. Take from it what you will.

I will try to get the video uploaded tonight if time persists; Guntir still needs points on his Shammy so we will end up doing 2v2s, and if we face nothing but DK+Healer, it could take a LONG LONG time, which would mean that the video will not be up tomorrow. Cross your fingers!