New PTR Build (14133)

I will make this one brief - there is not much to say about this PTR build except for a few things gleaned. As I mentioned in the last post, it seems that Blizz is actually attempting to fix Ferocious Bite into an ability that will be used in the PvE rotation, but they ended up making the glyph heal for 1% of our total HP for every 10 energy consumed by FB. This somewhat made sense, but was simply not the greatest glyph in the world as a max-energy Ferocious Bite would only heal for 5% of our total hp (while LotP procs roughly every 6s and heals 4%) and take up a glyph slot.

Well, now it makes even less sense. Ferocious Bite, based on the tooltip from this build, no longer consumes additional energy but heals for 1% total hp for each 10 energy consumed. This means that Ferocious Bite is a 25 energy ability that heals for 2.5% total hp and does basically bad damage. I have not run the numbers or had a chance to test it out yet, but my initial guess is that Ferocious Bite is still going to be doing less damage than Shred at 25 energy... and cost 5 combo points.

I don't know exactly what Blizzard's plan is here, but they have effectively taken away the only bit of burst that Ferals had in PvP. We used FB against clothies when they were low and we had 5 combo points and 70 energy; the additional burst was amazing. Now we will be doing less than half that damage at about 1/3 the cost in energy, but the exact same cost in CPs. Yes, we are energy-starved a lot, but CP-gen is the more painful of our costs... I don't see this getting FB into the rotation OR helping Ferals in PvP at all without some further changes.

On a related note, this patch doesn't seem to have done anything to Glyph of Ferocious Bite, so there is at least a small chance that Blizz will be doing something on that front as well. At the moment, if nothing else were to change, FB could be glyphed to a 25-energy finisher that would heal 5% total HP.

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PTR Build (14107)

I will be keeping this short and sweet and just touching on some of the changes in the latest build. First and foremost, I need to update the change to Ferocious Bite; previously, the devs had said it would be buffed roughly 15%, but in reality the PTR went up with it only getting a 12% buff to the base damage of the ability, while the scalability remained the same.

Ferocious Bite now costs 25 Energy, down from 35. Now consumes up to 25 additional energy, down from 35. Base damage increased by 12%, from [380 + 54.5% of AP]-[615 + 54.5% of AP] to [410 + 54.5% of AP]-[680 + 54.5% of AP] at 5 Combo Points. (Check tooltip for less combo points)

So, that is a little bit less of a damage buff than I had originally assumed it would be. Additionally, with the scalability of every other direct damage ability we have going up, I would not be surprised if FB remained out of the PvE rotation simply because Shred might actually outscale it in damage before the next tier of gear. This is Blizzard's sad attempt, again, at balancing an underpowered class by throwing more damage at it randomly. While a 50-energy FB is definitely going to do more than a 40-energy Shred in PvP, it is unclear whether it will be worth the damage-difference in PvE; it will do more damage, but how MUCH more.

Okay, this build they changed Glyph of Ferocious Bite:

Glyph of Ferocious Bite has been redesigned. It now causes Ferocious Bite to heal the caster for 1% of maximum health for each 10 energy used.

So, if you were to use a 50-energy FB and have devoted a Major Glyph to it, it would heal you for 5% of your total health. This is, to put it bluntly, terrible. For example, Leader of the Pack gives us 4% of our total hp roughly every 6 seconds for simply white-swinging at a target. They made FB give us roughly one additional LotP proc for using 50 energy and 5 combo points? This change just means that no one will ever take the Glyph of Ferocious Bite... ever.

There are some other changes worth mentioned (sadly, non-Druid changes), namely Denounce was changed to no longer give instant/free Exorcisms, but instead cause Exorcism'd targets to be unable to crit for 6s. While this new debuff is dispellable, one can see pretty easily that this is a rather bold change for Blizz. Holy needed some utility, but I don't think it was in the way of more offensive pressure; being the only healer in the game to be able to keep OTHER healers from critically healing themselves (particularly with the change to crit-heals becoming 200% from 150%) is HUGE!

In addition, Retribution is making its way back as Selfless Healer will reduce the cooldown on Word of Glory by 10 seconds. The thing I do not understand about this change is how Blizz is even thinking about this. For one, having a 20s cooldown heal that heals others for RIDICULOUS amounts (we are talking 20-30k crit heals here... and with that being made into a 200% heal bonus we're talking more) is silly in and off itself, but making it a 10s cooldown means that it will ALWAYS be up when they need it. Secondly, if every other spec has a perk that lowers to the cooldown to zero, why even tack this onto a talent... why not just make the baseline cooldown 10s and be done with it? It makes no sense to me. In my opinion, dps classes should not be able to throw out heals anyway, but I am in the minority on this train of thought.

Priests have got some interesting changes, most notably that basically all of the Shadow DoTs have been nerfed, and basically all of the Shadow burst has been buffed. Devouring Plague, Vampiric Touch, and Shadow Word: Pain have all been nerfed by 12% damage while Mind Flay, Shadow Word: Death, and (most surprisingly) Mind Blast have all been buffed 12% damage. This makes SOME sense, I suppose, since in PvP Shadow has trouble with getting and keeping their DoTs on a target without a Warlock present to provide UA, and their damage suffers so terribly when they cannot get their DoTs up. The funny thing about all this is that this just makes Disc even stronger as a utility-healer. Disc has always played the game of "absorb some damage, land some CC, turn and burn, if they didn't die, top everyone off, rinse and repeat!" Being given 1) more damage from Mind Blast, a 1.5s nuke that already HITS for 7-8k on resil'd targets, 2) more damage on SW:D, an instant-cast nuke that already HITS for 5-6k on resil'd targets, and 3) still having Holy Fire as a 1.5s nuke (talented) makes Disc very bursty. Additionally, Guntir is still rocking the glyph of SW:D which makes his kill-attempts pretty mean (if a bit a expensive).

Drain Life is getting nerfed 25%... good. I think that Warlocks need a bit of a kick in the teeth when it comes to solo-survivability. I mean, Blizzard nerfed Ferals for being "too independent" but leaves all these other classes which do not require a healer/dispeller sitting around to function well. Do not misunderstand me, I am not trying to imply that Warlocks are unbelievably overpowered while solo, but their self-healing for small windows when their healer is CC'd is absolutely staggering, and it makes 2s retarded.

Lastly, stacking 2/2 PvP sets will no longer award double-resilience. This is essentially the last slap in the face that Resto Shammies need to receive (well that and their mana pool still probably needs looking at... but w/e).

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Just a Tiny Rebuttal

As a few of you have pointed out, there is a large group of highly notable Ferals on the boards speculating that the changes to Shred, Ravage, Mangle, etc. were all made to offset the effect of Cat's scaling from Strength being cut in half. I would like to take this opportunity to clear a few things up.

First, this blog is nigh-entirely about Feral PvP. I do not really care about the impact in PvE; I use it occasionally as a point of leverage for the claims I make about Feral's damage output (either lack or abundance of). That being said, the great maths guys who run these numbers have speculated that the loss of Strength in the PvE environment will be anywhere from 700 to ~1000 attack power lost for Ferals, and a 15% damage buff across the board will roughly cover that difference with a little to spare (one reader suggested as little as a 3% dps boost). However, looking at these changes from my point of view, I have 101 Strength, I do not roll with a DK, Warrior, or Hunter, so I will end up losing 101 attack power from the 4.2 patch and gain roughly 15% damage across all my specials - that is, quite unmistakeably, a buff and a large one to boot.

Second, while many are noticing that Ferocious Bite's damage is being increased 15% as well, many are simply ignoring (or not noticing; maybe I should give them the benefit of the doubt) the fact that Ferocious Bite was changed from 35-70 energy cost to 25-50 energy cost. This change alone makes Ferocious Bite better DPE and burst than Shred. The opportunity-cost of the ability goes down rather significantly by us not dumping a full bar of energy into the ability and it continues to do the same (read: 15% more) damage as before! Again, in PvE this will likely not matter all that much, but in PvP this is a huge burst boost. Essentially, FB was only for kill-shot-attempts in PvP before, and one would usually only use it against clothies as the damage is rather lackluster against high-armored targets; however, the damage is being increased (by more than 15% if you take Feral Aggression; think of it as a 16.5% damage buff instead of 15%), the cost is being lowered, and the burst is still useful.

From the PvP point of view, this patch is simply buffing Ferals (when they don't run with a DK/Hunter/Warrior for the Strength buff, and even then it's only a 500ap loss or so). From a PvE point of view, it will be a slight damage buff and it will hopefully push Ferocious Bite back into the rotation a bit more.

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4.2 Patch Notes Updated

It's about god damned time! Feral has finally got a damage buff, and at least some of it makes sense. The first thing I would like to mention about these changes is that Blizzard is actually doing two things at once that are simply needed. The first thing is that they are acknowledging Feral's lackluster dps output in PvE and buffing it directly. The second thing is that they are (possibly accidentally) increasing Feral's burst damage while also increasing Feral's sustained damage; this is HUGE for PvP. Let's look at them in detail:

Ferocious Bite damage has been increased by 15%. In addition, its base cost has been reduced to 25 energy and it can use up to 25 energy, for up to a 100% damage increase.

This is HUGE. Ferocious Bite has long been ignored in the PvE rotation outside of the kill-zone simply because of its huge cost. This makes a full-damage FB cost 50 energy (down from 70) and it now does 15% more damage baseline. To put this into perspective, I land 25k FB crits at 70 energy against Mages with 4k resilience pretty regularly currently; therefore, I should be able to land 28k FBs against those same Mages with only 50 energy after the patch. I do not know if I can definitively say that FB is going to be a button I end up using on a more regular basis, but it definitely looks more appealing with this change.

Mangle (Cat) damage at level 80 and above has been increased to 530% weapon damage, up from 460%.

This is certainly a welcomed change. While the PvE rotation simply does not use Mangle very often (maximum is once per minute with the minimum being zero with an Arms/Subtlety present), the PvP rotation ends up using this button occasionally because one cannot always be in a position to Shred. Being able to deal more damage baseline will just be dandy!

Omen of Clarity clearcasting buff from now lasts 15 seconds, up from 8 seconds.

This one actually kind of confuses me; it does not really matter how long the clearcasting buff lasts because we are going to wait a maximum of 6-8 seconds to get to around 80-90 energy to use it (when dropping burst). Keep in mind, if you use a clearcasting proc on Shred at 90 energy, you can land a total of four Shreds before running out of energy... and you can use TF to get another two in there. I am guessing that this is just a quality of life buff where we can proc a clearcasting, then eat a full Fear, then still get some use from it when we get back on the target.

Ravage damage at level 80 and above has been increased to 975% weapon damage, up from 850%.

Man, someone must have been asking for BURST for Ferals. This is ALMOST 1000% weapon damage against zero resilience and armor... as far as I know, this should be the hardest hitting attack in our rotation (with the only exception MAYBE being a 50nrg FB). Those FCC-R-S-S-FB combos just got meaner.

Shred damage at level 80 and above has been increased to 520% weapon damage, up from 450%.

Ah, the coup de grace! Shred already hits rather hard against non-plate classes... and now it will just hit that much harder. This is just going to be amazing with Rend and Tear and Mangle... the multipliers just keep stacking to the moon.

Glyph of Berserk duration increase is now 10 seconds, up from 5.

This is one of the weird ones I was talking about. I am truly wondering if Blizzard does not have some unmentioned changes up their sleeve. At present, Berserk lasts 15 seconds and has a cooldown of 180 seconds. This change would put Berserk at 25 seconds duration, which is almost 1/6 of the cooldown. It is still rather weak in terms of up-vs-cd when compared to other 31-point talents (namely Shadowdance, Vendetta, Brostorm, etc), but lasting 25s means that eating two CCs in a row after popping Berserk will not spell a necessarily entirely wasted cooldown; you will still have 9 seconds left to Berserk.

All told, these patch notes are improving Ferals quite a bit. In fact, I do not see a single nerf to Ferals in the patch notes yet, and that is just fine by me. Looking to other classes, I see basically only nerfs with the only exception being Elemental Shammies who are getting rather crazy buffs.

Mages are having Ring of Frost with a 1.5s cast time, and a cooldown has been placed on Spellsteal (6s) to keep it from being an i-win button when RNG does not favor them the first time against spells like Hand of Freedom or Innervate.

For Hunters, they get a quality of life buff that has been LONG overdue in my opinion: "traps now scale with hunter stats such as hit, expertise, spell penetration and attack power as intended." Even though Blizzard came out of a Q&A post basically saying that Spell Pen would never work with traps because of some made up reason. Good on you, Blizz! This was definitely a good change to make.

Holy Pallies basically get nothing except spell costs increased across the board. Keep in mind, these increases are small (35% base from 30% base, etc), but they add up over time and this was one of the problems with Holy Paladins in PvP (particularly in 2s) - they simply never ran out of mana while spamming spells.

Restoration Shamans have got a bunch of tweaks to nerf them ever so slightly. Lightning Shield and Water Shield can no longer be dispelled which might sound like buffs initially, but in practice these abilities act like dispel-buffers when one is trying to knock off something like Nature's Swiftness or some other buff that NEEDS to be removed (Innervate from a Balance Druid or something). Unleash Elements is now properly in the nature school, so when I Skull Bash a Healing Wave the shammy will not be able to continue healing himself with his instants.

Water Shield's internal cooldown is returned to where it was prior to 4.1 (3.5s icd) but the proc is cut in half on the mana return. Improved Water Shield (renamed Resurgence) now procs off of critical direct heals which will restore basically 150% of the live Water Shield's proc mana return on a slow heal, and less mana on a fast heal, but will only proc when Water Shield is active. In essence, this changes the dynamic of Shammy infinite mana play from passive to active. Essentially, the MORE the Shammy heals, the more mana he will return to himself, but it will almost always be less than the cost of the spell cast. This is VERY reminiscent of how Arch Angel works for Disc Priests in that it is a nice mana return, but it is basically a wash for the DPS. Lastly, Mana Tide Totem is now 200% spirit instead of 400%. I think that Blizzard is really figuring out that with Shaman in PvP, it really comes down to their effective throughput healing while also having plenty of passive tools for sustaining infinite mana. Hopefully, this patch will correct that and make it so that running a Shammy out of mana will mean that you have won (all other things being equal).

Let me speak boldly about Elemental Shamans for a moment. Elemental is a terrible spec on Live, and the reasons for such are rather straight-forward. Their burst damage is somewhat low, the sustained damage is terrible, and their mobility is awful. If you ever see an elemental shammy, your best bet is to simply train him to death because he cannot really handle a melee on him when interrupting big damage spells. Eventually, TStorm has to be used as his only escape mechanic, and if you have a gap-closer (like FCC) you will just negate TStorm and come back in guns-a-blazin!

However, Elemental Shammies have always had the element of "turret up and burn down" if given even an inch of breathing room. In 3s, if we ever saw an elemental shammy, we would essentially CC him hard and break LoS on him throughout the match because if he ever got into turret mode, he would explode someone. Following that trend, the backlash from dispelling Flame Shock has been tripled...

Lava Flows now grants a 30/60/90% haste buff when a Flame Shock effect is dispelled, up from 10/20/30%.

Essentially, this means that their 2.0s Lightning Bolts will cast in basically half the time BEFORE calculating in any of their Haste from gear. This is a HUGE buff to being able to turret up, and I can see traditional LSD comps coming back into favor next patch from this change ALONE... but there is still more.

Thunderstorm now reduces the movement speed of players it knocks back by 40% for 5 seconds.

While this is not huge, ANY snare tied to something that knocks players as potentially far away as TStorm is going to play strong. The only thing holding this change back is that sometimes when you get hit with a TStorm, you are in the air longer than 5 seconds. This will improve Elemental's viability on comps where control and burst are more paramount (less LSD and more MSD or MSP where the Mage would provide additional control and the Ele would provide a knockback and crazy burst). Once again, however, there is still more.

Glyph of Unleashed Lightning (new Prime glyph) allows Lightning Bolt to be cast while moving.

Sweet dancing jahova! They have finally done it... now there will be a dps ranged class with cast-time nukes on the run. This change is going to revolutionize Elemental Shammy play simply by virtue of being able to stay on targets who are moving or pillar-humping hard. This will make bad Elementals easier to control via interrupts, but good Eles will be much harder to control in this way and they will be able to play positioning while dealing damage. Keep in mind that if you dispel Flame Shock, they can basically knock off 4-5 of these lightning bolts in 5 seconds WHILE chasing you... scary!

Filing under "random changes" we have:

The game now separately tracks different Conquest Point caps for Battlegrounds and Arenas. The cap for Arena rating will always be 2/3 of the cap for Battleground rating at any given Arena rating. Players may earn a total number of Conquest Points per week equal to the higher of these two caps, but once players have reached the cap for either Arenas or Battlegrounds, they can no longer earn Conquest Points from that source. Conquest Points from Battleground holidays only count toward the total Conquest Point cap.

Near as I can tell (and take this with a grain of salt), this means that earning Conquest Points from Rated Battlegrounds will be unchanged, while earning Conquest Points from Arenas will be nerfed. Currently, I have a cap around 2700-2800 simply because I am around 2270 PR on 2v2s. What I think this means is that next patch my cap will be ~1800 from arenas, and I will have to earn the remaining ~1000 Conquest Points by doing rated bgs... no thanks, Blizz.

Oh yeah, and lastly we have this little gem:

All healing critical strikes now heal for 2 times a normal heal (+100%), up from 1.5 times a normal heal (+50%).

Remember a while back we had this discussion... well the time has finally come and healers are again going to be dominating. Guntir can already drop 40k healing crits on me in Cat Form; after this he will be pushing 50-55k heals. Woof!

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4.2 on the PTR already???

Yes, that's right, but it will be a few days before the PTR actually goes up. Blizzard is at a point where they realize the colossal fuckup that was 4.1 can only be overshadowed by a new content patch, a new arena season, and new chances to commit various new colossal fuckups. Touching briefly on the announced changes, there is simply not a lot to discuss, but what few changes were announced are actually somewhat interesting.

* Druids will now only gain 1 AP per 1 STR, but will continue to gain 2 AP per 1 AGI.

This doesn't really surprise me; we were double-dipping for a while on buffs like MotW and Horn of Winter. Oh well, I never ran with anyone who could provide those buffs, so it means very little to me.

* Entangling Roots and Nature's Grasp no longer deal damage.

Duh, this has been something that I have been suggesting since TBC. Finally, Blizzard has left Entangling Roots as a CC ability. Now, if only dispels cost mana and were a choice instead of something mindlessly spammed...

* Innervate now grants an ally target 5% of his or her maximum mana over 10 seconds, but still grants 20% of the druid's maximum mana over 10 seconds when self-cast.

Hmmmm, this MIGHT be a decent little buff for Feral utility. At the moment, my Innervate returns 20% of my ~24k mana, which is ~4800 mana returned. I still use it basically on cooldown on Guntir (when I have a free GCD or two) because free mana is free mana. This change means that Guntir's ~110k mana would regenerate roughly 5500 mana. Well, that's not MUCH of an improvement, but it is an improvement.

* Ring of Frost now has a 1.5-second cast time.

DOOF... now there's a nerf to the Mage class. This will likely be met with tumultuous applause from everyone but Mages, and the river of tears from them will be amazingly clear, crisp, and cool. Essentially, this completely forces the DeepRing techniques used currently (Deep Freezing and placing a RoF on the ground under them) to actually land a RoF. Frankly, I think that this change will make Mages use Deep Freeze to try and bait out trinkets by Deep'ing the target, fake-casting RoF, and expecting that the target will trinket the DF to have enough time to avoid the RoF. Maybe this will not happen... hard to tell. Definitely an interesting change and a very interesting way of nerfing Frost Mages (the sad thing is that this will make RLS that much more dominant).

* Overpower now has a 1.5-second cooldown and global cooldown (Taste for Blood's Overpower cooldown has not changed).

This is just a nice little nerf for Warriors. Currently, Overpower causes a 0.5s CD and GCD and allows Warriors to burst rather hard with it. Now, I know that most will tell me I am crazy for suggesting that a 1.0s difference will not be the end of the world, but let me tell you - dropping a 24k MS 0.5s after a 20k Overpower ROUGHLY translates to a 44k GCD... spreading those out EVEN A LITTLE will make a big difference in the long run (especially when it comes to every 5s via Taste for Blood).

* Retaliation, Recklessness and Shield Wall no longer have stance requirements.

These just make sense... Survival Instincts does not require Bear Form, so Blizzard is removing that requirement from Warriors. To be completely honest, I did not know that Retaliation and Recklessness had stance requirements since I think they are both usable from Battle or Fury. Oh well, this just means that Warriors might hit Shield Wall in Battle Stance and NOT get that free 10% damage reduction from Defensive Stance... no skin off my nose.

No word yet on whether Stampeding Roar has yet been fixed on Live (it will consume between 30 and 60 energy depending on how much you have when you use it... gfg Blizztards).

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