Symbiosis is Silly

Since I have been out of the game for a bit, I have not had a chance to really discuss much about the MoP beta level cap getting bumped up to 88 (or is it 89 now?). One of the nice things about the cap getting raised is that Symbiosis is now an ability that we can test. I have not started the grind at all - I like my grind to be something new every expansion and I do not want to have to do it multiple times. However, the nice people over at WoWHead put together a nice compilation of Symbiosis abilities for us all to enjoy:

Symbiosis Abilities

There is a lot to digest here and I think that many of these will end up changing, but it is an interesting look into how Symbiosis is truly going to change the way Druids play on teams. For example, I always take a first look at new abilities in the light of "how will this affect 2s with Guntir?" Priests, for the moment, get the short end of the stick in that they are given Entangling Roots. This is not terrible, but it definitely leaves me wanting; why would they give a CC to another class when I still have that CC? It just means that Guntir will be able to use Entangling Roots on targets while I am able to continue dps'ing which is a boon, I suppose. Additionally, it means that Guntir will have another school to use when locked out, or another school with which to bait out kicks. All told, this is not the worst spell the Devs could have given him; Priests could have gotten Rebirth like Holy Pallies did...

On the flip-side of the coin, Feral ends up getting Dispersion from Priests. This is a hugely powerful defensive cooldown, and it could not come at a better time. In MoP, Feral is losing Survival Instincts as our 2min 50% damage reduction cooldown, so we are sort of squishy feeling at the onset, but with us having access to Dispersion, we gain a 2min 90% damage reduction cooldown that can be used while stunned. I am enjoying all the fruits of that ability swap, I am afraid, and Guntir as much (though he is more confident in gaining Entangling Roots than I am).

Like I mentioned in my last post, I am looking more like a dps with supplemental roles in healing at the moment (tons of offensive cooldowns, but if I take Cenarion Ward and Dream of Cenarius, I will be an off-healing machine as well as being a strong dps), but Feral should also end up being pretty strong defensively given Dispersion getting thrown on the table as well, and with Guntir getting Entangling Roots, he may be more self-reliant when it comes to peels which would mean less healing required in the long run and more offensive support. Right now, Feral+Disc is looking rather strong.

However, I want to go back and talk about 11-Man Cleave a bit. 11-Man Cleave is the name I came up with for Feral+Enh+Disc which largely relies on the specializations to build upon. Feral ends up taking Tree Posse, since it is a good offensive cooldown anyway, and uses Symbiosis on the Enhance Shaman instead of the Disc Priest. Yes, the Feral loses access to Dispersion which is a huge defensive cooldown, but gains Feral Spirit, or Dog Posse, on a 2min cooldown. The wolves provide decent damage output, mobility, and self-healing while dealing damage, so the ability to survive while dealing damage is intriguing.

However, what is most notable about the comp is the fact that the Feral can pop out 3 trees every minute and 2 dogs every 2 minutes (and so can the Shaman). So, your burst attempts revolve around the tree posse, with your big burst attempts revolving around have 3 trees, 4 wolves, the Feral, the Shaman, the Disc Priest, and potentially the Shadowfiend (or Mindbender if talented for it) on the kill target all at once. The wolves have a small stun, but the tree posse has a 5s stun, so the wolfy-stun will be pretty much ignored. In addition to this, Berserk is still on the table and since this team is less about keeping Guntir alive and more about running down healers with insane pressure, I would probably swap my tier90 talent over to Nature's Vigil for the 3min cd that increases my damage done by 20% and heals nearby friendlies and just macro it to roll with Berserk.

I am really having a hard time seeing a healer live through the following:

1) Treant damage
2) Wolves damage
3) More wolves damage
4) Feral damage (Berserk + Nature's Vigil)
5) Enhance damage
6) Disc damage (HF+Smite spam is insane plus double-SW:D sub-25%)
7) Mindbender damage
8) 5s stun
9) Feral's 8s interrupt

This just seems like "nerf-me-cleave" at the moment.

Additionally, I intentionally left the best part for last: the Enhancement Shaman also has Solar Beam for that added "yeah, you're pretty much fucked" factor that comes with a 10s AoE silence.

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Ladies and Gentlemen!

Yes, it is indeed a Monday and I am posting; alert the presses! As a small aside for any who are keeping track, I am now officially married to my "high-school sweetheart" (though I hate that term) and girlfriend of 11 years. It has been a long time coming, and it is finally done. I must admit that I do not miss all my free time going exclusively to wedding stuff, and I am looking forward to getting back into the swing of things gaming-wise. Send all your flowers and what-not to the charity of your choosing in my name ("Reygahnci", they'll know)!

Okay, updates updates! Last time I posted anything it was concerning Detox no longer removing bleed effects. Fantastic! However, there have been a number of dimwitted changes occurring while I have been on my hiatus. Topping my list of aggravations has to be Infected Wounds being changed from a baseline Feral/Guardian ability, which makes sense, into a major glyph, which does not make any sense. I have scraped a few moments to try and stir the pot on the forums a bit, but basically I have gotten no ground for lack of energy. For the PvP Feral readers, that leaves our major glyph "choices" at Infected Wounds, Cat Form, and Barkskin. This is particularly annoying given that two-out-of-three of our glyphs are for abilities or effects which we have presently on Live as part of being Feral: Nurturing Instinct currently causes Cat Form to receive 20% bonus healing and Infected Wounds is a Feral talent. In MoP, if nothing changes (which is unlikely, but worth thinking of as the worst-case scenario) we will end up being a class with essentially 1 major glyph and we have to take the glyph we have been taking since glyphs were introduced (Barkskin).


Let us look at some positives for a moment, though. When I first hit the beta, I was playing with Soul of the Forest with the full expectation that it would be the bar-none best talent at the 45-tier. I tried out Incarnation but found it lacking since Ravage and Pounce cost so many resources and, at the time, Rip's duration was not extended by Ravage. I have not tested Incarnation out since the latest patch, but I expect that it will be a solid contender in PvE given that Rip is now extended by Ravage as well as Shred and Mangle. Soul of the Forest continues to feel like the mathematical favorite for PvE, and will perhaps have a PvP setting given that Feral is usually energy-starved and finishers cost a lot.

My biggest surprise was seeing that Tree Posse (I honestly do not remember the real name of this talent) had its cooldown reduced from 3 minutes to 1 minute; I had to check it out. The three treants hit (with my gear and level 85 against a target dummy) for roughly 3.5k and crit for 7ish, they have a 1.5 swing speed, and they have a 5sec stun that can be set to auto-cast. Unlike the Felhunter for Warlocks, which never dies, setting the stun to auto-cast probably makes the most sense since the treants will be part of a burst damage attempt. Essentially, you end up throwing down the tree posse knowing that there will be an accompanying 5s stun to start your damage cycle. The treants last 15 seconds and have a 1 min cooldown, meaning that if you just use it on cooldown you will have roughly 1/4 up-time, which is not too shabby.

Additionally, the stun is no laughing matter either. Even with the treants summon being on the GCD, there is a little bit of lag between summoning the trees, them getting onto their target, and them landing the stun. In most cases I experienced about a 1.0s gcd while the stun was up, which meant 4 seconds of solid damage. The other nice thing about this stun is that it does not cost the Feral anything but time, as opposed to Maim which costs combo points and energy. I really see myself taking tree posse at the 45-tier simply because of the burst damage, short cooldown, and increased control gained from having a stun when needed.

Coupled with the tree posse is the fact that Feral has access to Typhoon, Intimidating Roar, and Skull Bash. I spent some time dueling Guntir and found that I had a ton of resources at my disposal for interrupting spell-casters; a feeling that I have never actually felt on my Druid before. Intimidating Roar needs some love in that it causes a true disorient like Blind where the affected wander around a bit and any damage at all will break the effect... but it does not turn off your auto-attack by default, so it will need to be macrod likely. From my testing, Intimidating Roar does not share DR with Cyclone, but I could not test whether it shared DR with Psychic Scream, though I expect it does. In my testing, Guntir would attempt to survive and would occasionally juke Skull Bash, but I could follow it with Intimidating Roar to interrupt a spell cast and gain a second or two, Typhoon to get another second or two to keep him from casting, and then insta-Cyclone to keep him for healing. All told, I would end up with Skull Bash back up if I cycled my cooldowns properly and could interrupt again.

What I am really hoping for is Infected Wounds coming back to being an ability rather than a glyph so that I can take Glyph of Skull Bash. I was testing this out since Glyph of Infected Wounds was no where to be found, and let me tell you something about an 8s school lockout - it is mean! Particularly, an 8s school lockout is mean when you can follow it with a 5s stun + burst cooldown, Typhoon to interrupt another spell cast, Intimidating Roar to interrupt yet another spell cast, and Rip/Rake rolling the entire time. I can already see our strategy in 2s if things stay as-is: me sitting on healers and Guntir chasing me around to add supplemental damage and get supplemental healing from me (if Infected Wounds stays as a glyph... that would be terrible, but I might drop Barkskin to get Skull Bash for 2s).

Also, Cenarion's Ward is amazing. Nature's Swiftness is okay, but I still have not seen Cyclone last 8s on an enemy player yet, so I expect that it will not come into the Feral play-style much. Additionally, Renewal is nice for a self-heal, but I do not really see anyone training me much in 2s simply because of my peels: instant-cast Cyclones, Roots, Intimidating Roar, Typhoon, Psychic Scream, and Dominate Mind. I have to assume that some of these will end up sharing diminishing return categories or Feral+Disc will be a top-tier 2s comp (not that anyone really cares about 2s besides me and Guntir). With the dispel mechanic change (8s cooldown but dispels all magics), I can easily see me using Entangling Roots on a melee, it getting dispelled, and that melee eating Dominate Mind (8s) or Psychic Scream (8s) and sending them to Africa, only to eat a full duration Cyclone (6s) when they get back; if you did the maths on that sentence, you know that they will be subject to a brand new Entangling Roots once they get out of Cyclone, which will get dispelled (again), but then the other CC (either Psychic Scream or Dominate Mind) will be available again to send them to Africa... again.

Woof... well, I do not want to peak too early. I have a lot more to say, but I am running on the longer side of posts here, so I will leave it at that for now. Just as a teaser, I am really trying to ramp-up my youtube channel again and start adding videos back more regularly. They will not all be PvP, in fact I have not stepped foot into the arena in a month or so, but I will hopefully have some video content worth watching soon. Also, I am building a new computer rig for Diablo (mainly), but it will see some use for WoW as well. I went top-of-the-line hardware, so I should be able to make videos of higher quality more easily in the near future, which will be nice!

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