Sometimes, and I mean pretty regularly, I think that it does not make any sense for me to post on Mondays. On the one hand, I like posting on Mondays because those are usually my slowest days at work and I have more time to spend thinking about any given topic. On the other hand, posting on Mondays usually means that I am either recapping a Tuesday post from the week before, or I am writing something that I will eventually bump with a Tuesday/Wednesday post because a new patch will drop the next day. During an expansion when changes are few and far between I feel like Mondays make a lot of sense, but during a beta when the world gets changed almost every Tuesday it probably makes more sense to do a Wednesday post.

So, I will be trying out this format to see how it plays out until the Mists of Pandaria is released, at which point I will go back to the Monday postings.

Yesterday marked another patch to the beta servers. This time around, there were a few nerfs to Feral that I did not really expect to see, but then again there was yet another buff to Dream of Cenarius that I did not expect to see either. Dream of Cenarius was buffed from 30% increased damage on the next two melee abilities to 50%. Readers will recall that I spent the majority of my last week's post discussing how strong Dream of Cenarius is, so I probably do not need to rebuff that topic and we will just say that this is pretty strong. However, in order to balance this increase (I assume as I do not see any other reason for it), Shred and Mangle have been reduced from 420% weapon damage to 400% weapon damage.

DISCLAIMER - I still have not tested this ability, so take everything I say with a grain of salt.

What I find interesting is the synergy of the ability with itself. Dream of Cenarius reads:

Wrath, Starfire, Starsurge, and melee abilities increase healing done by your next healing spell by 30%. Tranquility is not affected.

Nourish, Healing Touch, and Regrowth increase the damage done by your next 2 Moonfire or Sunfire casts by 50% or by your next 2 melee abilities by 50%.

Each of these bonuses lasts 30 sec.
and I have been entirely focused on the second portion ever since it was changed to include all casts of HTs, instant or not. However, what I really find interesting having given it another look today is that I completely ignore that first bit because nothing is listed directly. The first sentence says that "... melee abilities increase healing done ... by 30%. ..." How have I not given this any notice? Actually, in one of my first posts about Dream of Cenarius I mentioned that I might take this ability to couple with Cenarian Ward just for the "deal damage, get 70% [now 30%] bonus healing, use Cenarion Ward," but I completely forgot about that. With instant-cast HTs being part of the party now, I can get the 30% bonus healing from dealing damage normally and let the buff stay up as long as I need since there is no internal cooldown at the moment, then drop a 30% stronger Predator's Swiftness HT on Guntir for some absolutely silly healing, and get 50% additional damage to my next two melee abilities. Woof!

Another awesome change from yesterday's patch is that Cat Form's innate speed has been buffed from 15% to 25%. Now, the nay-sayers will be quick to point out that we have 30% movement speed on live at the moment from Feral Swiftness, and while that is true it came at the cost of talent points while this is simply by virtue of being a cat. I have tried to remain quiet on this one as losing 15% movement speed is something that irked me, but not enough to complain since we got a 15s Wild Charge. With Feral still getting that extra 15% movement speed bonus from our PvP 2-set, that gets our movement speed in MoP very close to that of live (143.75% in MoP vs. 149.5%). What gets even sillier is that a Feral could take Feral Swiftness instead of Wild Charge (this is not smart for most arena play, I am forced to point out) and get his speed to 165.3125%, which is pretty damn fast to be moving around normally. All the 50% snares in the game would take you to is 82.66% speed which is much faster than a Deathknight with Death's Advance (you cannot be snared below 70% movement speed).

I mentioned in a comment on the mid-week update that I would talk a bit about the feeling of Feral in MoP versus the feeling of Feral in expansions past. Particularly, I read a comment that made me think back to The Burning Crusade, though I am not sure why since this expansion was largely terrible for Feral. I have gotten nostalgic in past posts regarding how I felt about Feral back then, but even though I was upset with the state of Feral, I still look back fondly; it truly makes no sense to me sometimes.

The main thing about Feral that I liked when looking back has to do with much more of the way the game played than anything particular to Feral. In TBC, arena matches, and PvP in general, was slower paced; there would still be a lot going on, but the reality is that you had more time to play your character. Because of this, Ferals spent a LOT more time shapeshifting, which is something that I think a lot of Feral players are going to miss in Mists. That requirement of leaving Cat Form to do something else useful was interesting, albeit terribly implemented and a horrible leash that would hold back many players.

In Mists, the only time a Feral is going to have to switch forms is in order to break a snare or root. Many Ferals will argue that this is the way it was meant to be, but there are many still who would argue that going to Bear Form should still be part of the specialization. I do not know what my heart tells me about the new Feral with regard to play-style and feeling, but I know that I will be more competitive without having to worry about clipping a GCD while waiting to get back into Cat Form and the like. There are simply too many little tiny annoyances that can creep up on even the best players with a tiny bit of latency and/or some bad luck. I cannot count the number of times that I did not end up using Berserk because I hit TF just before it and thought I had pressed Berserk then started spamming Shreds only to find that I did not hit Berserk and I wasted a lot of energy; I possibly missed the opportunity to land a kill.

I think that I will miss having the ability to use Bear Form to some degree. I do not like the fact that Bear Form, at present, is so weak at dealing damage and only minorly more survivable than Cat Form. I can still recall the beginning of TBC and Bear Form being absolutely hilarious damage output as well as extremely strong at soaking up damage. I would, on rare occasions, come back from a 2v1 where Guntir had died but we got both of our opponents to 75% hp simply by going Bear Form and beating everything to death with Mangle.

TBC was also a time where healing as a Feral was still alive and well. One had to have a healing weapon swap and be ready to apply Rejuvenation and Lifebloom at the drop of a hat, and also have the where-with-all to know when it was safe to drink (yes, Feral had to drink in arenas back then because of our mana problems due to healing). I am somewhat looking forward to seeing the return of a dps-healing Feral again in MoP; it will definitely be interesting, although the devs probably need to tone down some of the dps-healing that is going on the beta at present.

Sidebar: I watched a 30m Hydra 2v2 video from the MoP beta and it basically shows that every dps has some capacity for healing on a cooldown and it really makes landing a kill impossible in some instances. It seems that Monks, as a dps, are unkillable in a 1v1 situation simply by virtue of their self-healing capacities. While I am fond of having the ability to provide some supplemental healing in a 2s match, I do not want to see the situation we have on live where Ret pallies can WoG someone to full from 15% hp but with all dps classes. Only time will tell on this one.

Back to TBC, I can still remember playing WotLK and being in a better position shifting-wise, but still having to do odd implementation plays like having a macro that would go Bear Form and start mashing Feral Charge (Bear) on my focus target to land an interrupt, which would be followed by a 5s Bash, which I would follow with a hard-cast 6s Cyclone before going back to Cat Form to deal damage. This was interesting but ultimately annoying; why did Ferals have to spend so much time, as a dps class, not dealing damage and instead on some other target applying CC?

No, now that I remember that, I have to say that I am looking forward to leaving all that in my past. I will definitely miss certain things about previous expansions, and I know that TBC will always hold a special place in my heart and memories, but I cannot wait to be able to stay in Cat Form more and do my job as a dps -- including landing CC without having to leave my target for 15sec at a time while Guntir tries to burst them down instead.