Mondays Are Hard

Well hello again! Sorry about missing the majority of the beginning of the week, but things have been super busy on my end what with work getting extremely busy and the wedding coming soon. I have found it hard to log on outside of my dedicated Wednesday night PvP (if we can call it that at this point) sessions.

The first patch of the MoP beta has been pushed, and so far we have only seen, as is usually the case, data-mined stuff. This means that we have to take what we read with a grain of salt, as much of it is simply a tooltip error or a wording change that does not have any effect on the implementation itself. A good example of this is the change to Feral Charge (Cat), which was renamed Wild Charge (Cat), had its cooldown reduced to 15s (the people rejoice), had its cost removed (the people further rejoice), and can only be used in combat.

Wait, what?

Well, the MMO-Champion green text suggests that Wild Charge (Cat) can only be used in combat, but if one were to open the new tooltip link on wowdb, one would see that that is actually not the case. In fact, if one does a further search on wowdb for simply "Wild Charge", it becomes clear what that green text means - the Moonkin version of Wild Charge is ostensibly Disengage, and as such it does have the flag "can only be used in combat" as expected, but the Cat version can be used whenever.

I am still growling on the forums about Savage Roar comprising 30% of the overall Feral damage-dealing toolkit.

I will try and get more posts out as the beta continues, but right now I am so busy with everything else that posts will be short and sparse. Sorry guys, bare with me.

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I'm Feeling a Little Better

Always the optimist, right?

Anyway, here is my rationale behind the "bleeds are dispellable" change: Blizzard is trying to make an active effort at balancing the PvP scene in MoP. I think that the devs saw how out of control PvP became as a result of PvE gear and they are making an active effort to make PvP gear the best gear for PvP. Additionally, they noticed that a number of roles performed by certain classes were too shallow in terms of depth of play.

Feral is the easiest example here. What is the Feral play-style in PvP? Well, we basically ramp up on some target, and train it unmercifully keeping Mangle, Rip, and Rake up as much as possible while making few swaps to other targets (revolving around Tiger's Fury) and basically Cycloning when DR falls. This is a really high level view of the way Feral plays and obviously it gets much more complicated than that when one analyzes it further, but Feral has a simple rotation that is largely the same as the PvE rotation.

On the other hand, if we look at, say, Rogues or Warlocks, their PvP rotations differ tremendously from their PvP rotations. Rogues, running RLS, spend the majority of matches setting up and pooling energy, then Shadow Dancing on the kill target with extreme pressure during a short burst window. This is almost completely upside-down as compared to the PvE rotation for Subtlety.

So, here is what might be happening... maybe. I have two possible theories here:

1) Feral will get some dispel protection on Rip.
2) Feral will have a different PvP play-style than its PvE rotation.

I have already spent some, admittedly angry, time explaining that giving Feral dispel protection would make for an odd situation. For example, if one makes Rip's dispel protection too weak, then Feral simply will not use Rip against Monks (or anyone else who will be able to dispel bleeds); keep in mind that Rip is extremely difficult to get up and maintain, so anything like UA/VT's current dispel protection simply is too weak (a 3-4s lockout for dispelling something that took us 13-16 seconds to get up is terrible). So, in order for the dispel protection on Rip to be meaningful and give the option a cause-and-effect relationship (as opposed to "just dispel when Rip gets applied", which is where we see it now), we would expect something that was on the order of the effort put into applying Rip. Obviously, a separate DR category CC would have to be 8 seconds it order to be effective, but that would be overpowered. I suggested in yesterday's post that something like 50% haste for 10 seconds would be powerful yet not too powerful. Additionally, something to do with making CP-gen easier would be worthwhile as well.

However, I do not think that Feral will be getting dispel protection on their bleeds. I think that Feral will be getting something else entirely; I think that Feral might have a different PvE rotation than PvP.

As a disclaimer, keep in mind that I probably drank too much last night and this thought came to me in one of those hazy half-awake half-asleep moments at around 5am this morning, so it has not been entirely fleshed out yet... and I am not a developer nor do I have any real insight into their thinking.

That being said, what if Rip was our PvE finisher?

I have, for a very very long time, complained about the fact that Feral has a lot of trouble keeping up Rip (a mandatory 5pt finisher), Maim (a nice-to-have 5pt finisher), and Ferocious Bite (a strong burst 5pt finisher). In fact, you will notice that I do not even mention Savage Roar because in PvP we largely ignore it - it costs too much energy and draws away from our combo points which we direly need to use a finisher that is NOT Rip... and we have to keep Rip up. Any time we get an opportunity to use another finisher (some clear casting procs got you to 5cps and you still have 12+ seconds on Rip), we end up rounding it with burst or control (depending on the situation).

Transitioning just a bit (but it should be plain to see why toward the end), recall that I have been complaining about how Savage Roar is once again its former "30% bonus damage" version. My argument against this is two fold: first, it requires even more combo points be spent on finishers we cannot afford, meaning that we cannot use Maim or Ferocious Bite as often; second, it means that we have even more ramp-up required to deal our "balanced" damage. In the Wrath days, this meant that before we could apply Rip or Rake a Feral had to first get up Savage Roar so that they would get that bonus damage.

What if Savage Roar were tweaked slightly to read "Increases direct physical damage by 30% for x seconds." Further, what if Savage Roar is no longer an Enrage effect and therefore not trivially dispelled via Soothe/Tranq/Shiv? See where I am headed now? This simple change, coupled with Rip becoming a dispellable DoT, makes the Feral PvP and PvE rotations entirely different. In PvE, Rip is the strong finisher and Mastery is the be-all-end-all secondary stat; however, in PvP, where burst is king, Rip is easily dispelled  and SR increases all our direct damage (white swings, Shreds, Mangles, FBs, etc), so we would likely drop Rip from our rotation in the same way that Rogues have dropped Garrote from theirs.

Yes, Rip would still be a potent bleed effect, but if classes can dispel it, we would likely focus our energy (and combo points) to some other form of damage-dealing that cannot be dispelled. Additionally, Rip requires that we use five combo points to get the best damage out of it, while Savage Roar requires only one combo point at its minimum; this would mean that we could more effectively use Ferocious Bite and Maim to set up and deal damage. We would still use Rake, of course, but if Rake gets dispelled, we just reapply Rake instantly because it is decent damage even without stacking Mastery and it increases the damage done by Shred (and increases the critical chance of FB, etc).

Again, this is all speculation; I have no intimate understanding of the design choices of Blizzard, nor do I expect any of this to happen exactly. I was merely thinking about how SR seems to be mandatory again and Rip looks like it will be trivially dispelled in PvP and came to this theory. It would be interesting in that it would make Feral less of a DoT-based damage dealer and more of a direct damage-dealer with more control; this would make Feral seem more Rogue-y, which to many would be a negative thing. The only thing I know for sure is that bleeds being dispellable means that Feral needs something in order to keep a competitive edge in PvP, and I have not seen it yet.

One last thing to mention!

Boubouille over at is still under the impression that the MoP Beta will be going Live "soon". Not "Blizzard Soon", but rather this week or next week. So, that should be exciting!

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Oh God Damn It!!!

Well, I am getting pretty disappointed in Mists of Pandaria (panda-rhea). First, Blizzard shows the talent calculators months ago with Savage Roar being back to the broken-for-PvP "increases damage by 30%" version and does not respond as to whether that was a mistake. Then, we get a huge slew of Monk information and all I see is this:


  • 520 Mana, 40 yard range, Instant Cast, 8 sec cooldown
  • Eliminates ailments from the friendly target, removing all harmful Poison and Bleed effects.
Well, fuck you Blizz...

I honestly try to not get all worked up over alpha stuff; it does not usually do any good and things are so prone to change. However, this is just stupid. Adding in the ability to dispel bleeds is ridiculous with the current system. Every spec that relies on Bleed damage relies on the fact that they cannot be dispelled.

Warlocks complained in Vanilla about the fact that Affliction was impotent against classes with Magical dispels because they would spend all their time putting up DoTs and dealing zero damage. To compensate that, Blizzard implemented Unstable Affliction, which provided a pretty solid means of dispel protection and aimed at keeping healers from simply dispelling Warlock DoTs blindly. Eventually, Shadow Priests got some love in a similar manner and Vampiric Touch was given Sin and Punishment to provide dispel protection. Okay, but all this does is give Warlocks and Shadow Priests a casting priority: get VT and UA up first so that you can stack up your other DoTs and have some protection while doing so.

However, Feral only has 2 DoTs - Rip and Rake. Applying Rake is trivial and while it is the only spammable and undispellable meaningful DoT in the game, it costs over a third of our resources to apply, so we cannot go running rampant applying it to everything everywhere. Furthermore, the present design requires a Mangle debuff to be on the target for Rake to deal full damage. No, Rake is not the problem... Rip is.

Rip requires 5 combo points to apply and causes the Feral to forsake dealing burst damage via Ferocious Bite. Getting 5 combo points requires a minimum of 3 critical hits from a combo builder and then using 30 energy in Rip; this ends up being a minimum of 3 crits: 1 Rake, 2 Mangles. That is a minimum AND AMAZING RNG of 130 energy. If the Feral starts from zero energy, which is usually the case, it will take 13 seconds to apply Rip... and an 8s cooldown removes both Rake and Rip??? WTF???

I have been thinking about this for the last couple hours and I honestly do not even think that giving Rip dispel protection will do any good. I cannot imagine how it would be fair without something absolutely over the top like "If Rip is dispelled, you get 50% faster energy regeneration for the remainder of the duration of the dispelled Rip." (read: you had 12 seconds left on Rip when it was dispelled - you get 50% more energy regen for 12 seconds). Using the currently implemented dispel deterrents will not get the job done: a 4s silence and a 3s fear are fine for classes who can trivially reapply their DoTs immediately, but it would have to be an 8s CC that did not DR with anything for the Feral to get even CLOSE to having Rip up again and that would be horribly unfair in a team environment.

I am truly at a loss. I do not know what Blizz is playing at and I do not think that Monks will be balanced at all in MoP... I just had hoped that it would not be so blatantly overpowered against Feral.

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Monday! ... or Tuesday... whatever.

Okay, I have been crazy busy with the wedding and work and I did not get a chance to write anything yesterday. I had a great idea for a post, then forgot it and still have not remembered. In addition to all this, this week is the Blizzard Press Event, so we are largely at a standstill information-wise until next Tuesday when the NDA is lifted. To top all that noise, we have not even had any good arena games to mention... so I am truly at a loss for what to talk about.

I noticed a few more things about the MoP talent calculators that are worth mentioning if we assume what we see there is a solid representation of the game (which we largely cannot):

* Rogues no longer have Improved Ambush
* Rogues no longer have Puncturing Wounds
* Warriors no longer gain critical strike chance from Taste for Blood
* Warriors no longer gain critical strike chance from Juggernaut

Essentially, a lot of abilities which used to provide all-but-guaranteed critical strikes are being toned down (except for Ravage and Ferocious Bite for reasons unknown). In my opinion, this is a good thing; classes like Warrior/Ret/DK are based around doing heavy damage normally with a rather low chance to strike critically, so they should not have abilities which are guaranteed to critically strike. In that same vein, Rogues are a class balanced around their abilities striking critically often but definitely not every time, so it makes sense that abilities they use often in their normal damage rotation should not get a nigh-guaranteed critical strike.

Again, we have to take these sorts of observations with a grain of salt as anything and everything may have changed since the last push of the talent calculator given that we are in the middle of a press week. I expect that these, and many more, questions will be answered next week when the NDA has lifted.

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Monday, Monday!

I actually got this out on a Monday; who is surprised? Let's just dive on in to the blue post that every is talking about. First, I have to toot my own horn here a bit, since the change that GhostCrawler announced are roughly the same resilience changes I suggested at the end of January in my post How About 'dem Purps!? The exact implementation of my change is a bit different (and I actually think that it is a bit cleaner the way GC suggested it), but it amounts to the same thing - reward players for wearing PvP gear in a PvP context and somewhat punish players for wearing PvE gear in a PvP context (and vise versa).

As a really quick aside that everyone can agree on, Spell Resistance and therefore Spell Penetration are going to be removed from the game [finally]. GC said what has been on the lips of many players for a very long time (unless you played a warrior, then you do not see what the big deal is) - these stats are awful design and implementation. The fact that, as a melee, I am forced to spend  much of my stat budget on a stat to guarantee my CC landing in a PvP context was always pretty dumb. Almost every spell-caster would get this stat for free simply by wearing the PvP cloak with spell pen, but Feral and Enhancement have to gem and enchant for spell pen, which means we are losing out on actual role stats like agility and mastery. I think I speak for everyone when I say that we will all be happy to see it go.

Similarly, Hit and Expertise are finally going to make more sense to everyone. It looks like there will be a baseline 3% miss chance against a target at the same level (a subtle lowering here is nice), a 6% spell miss chance, and a 3% dodge chance. The Hit stat will continue to lower my chance to miss my target, which is good, but in addition to reducing the target's chance to dodge/parry, expertise will also lower my chance to miss with spells. What is really nice about this model is that (in MoP), Feral will be able to stack Hit up to the melee hit cap, then stack Expertise for a double-dip of effect: reducing my chance to miss with spells (up to the cap for Cyclone) and then covering the chance for enemies to dodge my attacks. This is actually quite nice for Feral, specifically, because it will mean that less of our item budget will have to go to hit and more can go to expertise to cover some of what Hit currently covers. Put simply, this will end up meaning less hit required and stacking enough expertise to cover Dodge from Mages/Priests/etc will also go to landing Cyclones.

Now we get to the good stuff: Resilience!

Resilience is being changed into two distinct stats - PvP Power and PvP Defense. Just as it does presently, defense will end up reducing damage taken from other players. Largely, the defensive side of resilience is going to be unchanged in theory, but probably going to reduce damage further than we expect it to currently. I will spend more time on this dynamic after explaining PvP Power.

PvP Power is going to increase the effectiveness of a player's role in PvP: if the player is a damage-dealer, then PvP Power is likely going to play a lot like attack power or spell power and increase damage done to other players; if the player is a healer, then PvP Power is likely going to play like Spell Healing and increase healing done to other players. Implementation is still left to be discussed here in terms of when these stats are used, though we have largely come to understand that when one player hits another, PvP Defense (currently resilience) and PvP Power will come into play; this dynamic will largely be unchanged in MoP. What we do not yet know is how and when PvP Power comes into play for healers, as they are always targeting another player (in either context - PvP or PvE). I suspect that the stat will "turn off" when in a raid or dungeon, but we will not know for sure for a while.

The really interesting change is how the gear will be itemized. Essentially, PvP gear will be a lower item level than the corresponding raiding tier's gear (by that we assume that Cataclysmic PvP gear will be iLvL 390 while the Deep Earth set is iLvL 397). This may end up meaning that the current tier PvP gear will be the same iLvL as the LFR set and would therefore mean that PvP gear can step into an LFR and compete (which we can now). In addition, the stats PvP Power and PvP Defense are going to be "free" in terms of stat allocation. This is a huge change in dynamic since it has always been that PvP gear would take a hit in stats to have resilience on it. As an example, all the PvP gear essentially has Resilience as a secondary stat instead of Mastery, Haste, or Crit which forces PvP plays to maximize one stat and forsake all others. In MoP, it looks like we may have gear that is, for all intents and purposes, the same as the LFR equivalent in terms of stat allocation, but will not have the same bonuses for equipping set pieces. This is a truly exciting change.

Going back to PvP Defense, since we expect that the dps-role stats to be improved, then we would expect that the defensive side of things would also need to be improved. As an example, we have something around 45% damage reduction in a full Cataclysmic set at present, and we still see teams that focus on training something to death in PvP and end up winning with shear force; in essence, the damage output is still extremely high for some. In MoP, when players are going to be wearing 30% damage reduction "for free" and getting a stat that improves their damage against players, we would expect that the defensive stat would have to further reduce the damage just to keep up. What we end up with is a nice balance (hopefully) between damage-dealing and each player's ability to survive the onslaught. Players will improve their defenses and offenses at a rate that roughly scales with gear, and we expect that losing X amount of PvP Power/Defense will be too much for top-tier players and will (hopefully) keep players from using PvE trinkets/set bonuses in high rated arenas/rbgs.

What no one has yet to point out, and I am certainly not going to bring it up on the forums, is that healing is largely unchecked. Take, for example, the situation where both Guntir and I get the same Chest-piece upgrade. I get a bonus to damage reduction the same that Guntir does, and I get a bonus to dealing damage while Guntir gets a bonus to healing done. Where the interesting bit lies is in the fact that while my damage output scales, so does my target's damage reduction - there is now a check (though it cannot keep up) for my damage gained. Guntir, on the other hand, gets more healing applied to a player but nothing reduces the healing done (except for MS-effects), so in the case where there is one dps and one healer, the healer could potentially outscale the damage of the dps player.

Sigh... already this change implies that Mortal Strike effects et al will remain in MoP as a crux of the PvP system. I know I should not be surprised, but I am a bit taken back by it none the less.

Next week marks Blizzard's Mists of Pandaria press event, and MMO-Champion is already suggesting that once the NDA lifts from that (March 19, apparently), we should expect to see Alpha/Beta starting on MoP. I would be surprised to see the Beta start that soon, but the last time we saw anything concerning MoP, we saw a really polished game with some implementation required to get things finished. Maybe we will see the MoP beta start in a few weeks, and if so, then I will be posting none-stop with what I find (recall, I am one of those suckers who bought the annual pass to get a MoP beta invite and DIII). All things considered, we are seeing a LOT of changes in MoP that, I believe, are for the best in terms of balance and increasing the fun of the game.

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