Feb 132011

I imagine there was a meeting up at Blizzard.  No wait, after that Tol Barad fiasco, I don’t believe they have actual meetings anymore.  I imagine there was a drunken conversation up at Blizzard.  Let’s listen in on Matt and Steve, two generic developers for WoW, having a night out at the bar:

Steve: Hey, Matt.  MATT!  You know what I love?  Shhh shhh, wait.  I’ll tell you.  Just wait…  I love YOU, man.

Matt: I love you too, Steve!  I love everything.  I love money.  Don’t you wish we made money, Steve?

Steve: Yeah, what’s up with that.  11 million subscribers, all because of us, and where does it go?

Matt: Where does what go?

Steve: I… um… I forgot.  But now I’m pissed off.  You know what I hate, Matt?

Matt: Is it me?

Steve: Nah, man.  I hate mages.  Feck mages, Matt!  All magicing and shite.

Matt: Yeah, Steve.  Let’s go nerf mages again!  Weeeeee!

Steve: Shhh shhh…  No Matt, they’ll see it coming!  There could be a mage here right now, and we wouldn’t even know it!  Noooo, we gotta be tricky this time.  What do mages hate?

Matt: Um… Feral druids!

Steve: RIGHT! So, get this.  We take away druid CC breaking, right.  Right?  And then we make mages own them, without actually buffing them.  Right?  Then, when the druids can do nothing to fight back, we call imbalance, and BAM!  Class review, biatches!

Matt: Feck mages!

This is the best scenario I can come up with.  Since BC, the feral spec has seen nothing but love, and as a result has gone from a means to level a raid healer to very much its own beast, while mages are more than familiar with the tough love of a patch’s stiff backhand.  I can’t actually imagine that a sober person willingly desired to end that momentum.

Some say cat raid damage was getting a little out of hand, but looking at the patch notes, I don’t think any effort was made to stem that.  Bleeds got a minor nerf, and burst damage got a huge boost.  Without testing it myself, I can only imagine this helps the raid scene.  Kitty damage tends to drop off in fights where they don’t have time to “get in the zone”, or rather position themselves perfectly behind the target and setup/maintain their complex set of debuffs.  The improved burst emphasis can only help mitigate the damage loss in those high-mobility fights (those fights cats should theoretically be good at).

We also lost our glyph that made Entangling Roots an instant cast (technically, it became “cast time reduced by 0.2 seconds”, but you know that’s the same thing).  Honestly though, we all knew this one was coming.  I wouldn’t call it broken, but it was game changing, which sort of goes against the core intent of glyphs.  This wouldn’t go amiss as a nice balance talent for my boomkin brothers, though.  *hint hint*

But those changes aren’t on trial here.  Abilities get tweaked, we relearn our class, and we move on.  The major loss here is the removal of the ability to cancel root (immobile) effects by changing shape (and to a lesser degree the loss of fear break on Beserk).  Only by going Resto (the spec that mostly doesn’t change shape anymore, if you recall) do you get to keep this functionality.  Changing still removes slowing effects, though I’ve rarely wasted a GCD for that purpose.  If Feral Charge is off cooldown, I can instead close the gap with that, after which Infected Wounds (also nerfed, but since its constantly reapplying, I can’t see why anyone bothered) slows my opponent down to my speed.

This is an issue, because feral druids have little to no means of mitigating CC outside of these two abilities.  Okay, they’re immune to polymorph spells.  Of which there are, what, two?  Keep in mind, there are spells like Scare Beast and Hibernate that pretty much ONLY work on feral druids (and hunter pets, I guess).

Position also means everything to a kitty.  Imagine you’re some strange rogue build.  Backstab is your primary damage dealer, Hemorrhage is necessary to do proper damage with it, and your best combo finisher is Rupture.  You don’t get stunlocks, you don’t get vanish, and you don’t get cloak of shadows.  Burst damage is ultimately not your strong point, your survival tools are limited, and you don’t have too many ways to prevent your opponent from fighting back.  But feral druids have always been able to put on the pressure.  They glue themselves to your backside.  You have to offer them your completely undivided attention, because while they weren’t going to take you down instantly, they were going to take you down soon if you couldn’t sleep, stun or freeze them completely out of the fight.

But, *sigh*.  I suppose you can argue balance until blue in the face.  What really bothers me isn’t really PvP balance.  I can remember a time when a bug made PvP gear free, and the store was so packed you couldn’t find the vendors to click on them.  Things like that and that Tol Barad 1800 honor debacle exist to remind me how gear dependent and busted PvP is for a casual participant like myself and ultimately kill the fun in it.

No, I really just want the ability to break roots from an identity standpoint.  It was an identifying piece of the class.  I like getting new things, even when they suck.  I could probably count the number of times I used that ability leveling or running heroics without running out of fingers and toes, but when I got to, it felt good, because that was me using a unique capability to practical use.  It’s like a Holy Paladin using their Prot abilities.  Any paladin can click “big heal” and “small heal” and be a capable healer.  It’s using those fringe abilities that shows you’re mastering your potential.  To see an ability like that just ripped out without a second thought leaves a hole and makes the game feel a little more shallow and empty.  It makes that little voice in the back of my head cry “you’re paying for an open beta, you dip”, like someone somewhere is playing the finished WoW, and I’m the one testing it so it’ll be a polished experience for them.

Uh oh, Skip is starting to sound like a sniveling, self-entitled baby.  Time to cut this one short.

TL;DR Version: Skip doesn’t like standing around, so he played a feral druid.  Now feral druids stand around.  Skip is sad.

Your fortune cookie:

Patch 4.0.6 Notes:

Fortune cookies reduced by 50%.  This should…

Dec 312010

I’m fastly losing all faith in any decision making Blizzard may have.

WTF:

December 22 – 27 Cataclysm Hotfixes

Winning as an attacker now rewards players with 1800 Honor Points, up from 180. Winning as a defender still rewards players with 180 Honor Points.

Tol Barad

I found this along side a blue post as such:

The odds are already stacked against the attacking force. In fact, they’re stacked in favor of the defense more so than we would like at this point. We’re looking to address this in an upcoming patch so that defending Tol Barad doesn’t feel like there’s virtually no fear of loss.

In line with that design goal, we made this hotfix to ensure winning Tol Barad back for your faction feels much more rewarding.

So, alright.  We acknowledge that somehow this thing made it out of beta without noticing that one side manages to squat on it and win for days at a time.  We want to fix that, but its the holidays and we have lives, so we’re instead going to make losing that much more frustrating.

Ah, but then if both sides were to intentionally let the attacker win, both could average a few pieces of  PVP blues a day.  The scam begins.  From what I’m reading, most servers seem on board with this already.

Of course, then the queues fill to the brink.

Oh, don’t worry, you can apparently just wait at the bridge and still get credit, without even taking part in the scam.

Now, an aside.  Ever since I hit 85, I’ve been grinding my honor hard.  I started PVPing at level cap late in Wrath, so I couldn’t really get into it like I wanted back then.  Everyone else had full PVP gear and raid-end weapons.  No amount of skill could over come that.  I was paste on the ground within seconds of every encounter.  Trying to grind out the honor for the gear just wasn’t fun like that.  So I promised that when Cataclysm hit, I wouldn’t let myself get left behind like that.  I like PVP.  I wanted to have a fighting chance to actually be involved.  I always felt the system as it was felt like it was designed by an asocial twelve year old, but I was willing to play their little game.

Now, back to the topic at hand.  How in the hell was giving 1800 honor for anything a good idea?

I was at odds for a while over how to handle it.  I could get involved and get my thousands of free honor, or I could walk away.  I thought about it, and whether I involve myself or not, that goal I’d set for myself is now cheap and hollow.  It’s lost meaning to me.  I can either achieve my goal via empty means or relive the “paste on the ground” days again, as people with that empty gear slap me around for several more weeks.

No, I’m just walking away from it.

Dec 242010

I hit 85 yesterday.  And in honor of it, I dug up all the agility gear I’d been slowly picking up when no caster gear was available, donned it, and resumed my identity as Cat Man!  I couldn’t stay a caster.  It just isn’t my style.  Too… standy aroundy.  Laser Chicken, you shall be missed.

In the process of trying to re-acclimate my UI and buttons to feline fun, I noticed something.  Fairly often, my Rip duration was ending about 3 seconds before my Tiger’s Fury was coming off cooldown.  Rip has a duration of 16 second duration and Tiger’s Fury has a 30 second cooldown.  I’d never really considered them close enough to exhibit this behavior so frequently.  So, I broke down what I was doing.

  1. Skip’s out of energy from spamming death.  Skip presses Tiger’s Fury for a 60 energy burst, thanks to King of the Jungle.
  2. Skip Shreds with impunity.
  3. After a couple of seconds, he hits 5 combo points and quickly refreshes Rip so it takes advantage of the Tiger’s Fury 15% damage buff.  This happens at roughly the end of TF’s 6 second duration (we’ll say 5 seconds in), so its cooldown has about 25 seconds to go (the cooldown begins right away, not at the end of the buff).
  4. Rip lasts for 16 seconds.  My Glyph of Shred adds another 6 seconds by the end, so ends up lasting 22 seconds.
  5. And so, Rip is ending with 3 seconds left on the Tiger’s Fury cooldown.  If I wait 3 more seconds to reapply Rip, I can use TF to give it that 15% damage buff.

Of course, waiting to reapply Rip is bad.  Rip is easily the kitty’s biggest damage dealer, especially with our Mastery rating adding to all bleed damage.  Any downtime is lots of lost damage.

What the Flip, Skip?

What is so important about getting Tiger’s Fury and Rip together?

Well, your bleeds take advantage of your damage bonuses at the time they are applied.  If I apply Rake or Rip during the 6 second TF buff, they will get 15% bonus damage for the full duration, or until I use the ability again to refresh it.  If I gain a damage boost after the bleed has been applied, the ticks will not get stronger.  It’s all about that first hook.

Since bleeds are a cat’s biggest damage dealer, any buff you can give them will show favorably on your final damage total.  That doesn’t mean you should go out of your way to make sure every bleed is always buffed.  Cat “rotations” are far too chaotic, and you don’t need that kind of stress.  However, should the opportunity arise, you should certainly take it.  If nothing else, I try to always refresh Rake anytime I use Tiger’s Fury.  Because Rip is dependent on combo points, and should always be used with 5 of them, you kind of have to take them as you get them.

Enter Glyph of Tiger’s Fury.

I had started by glyphing Rip, Shred and Berserk.  In terms of raw, lab result DPS, Berserk is a great glyph.   It bumps Berserk from lasting 15 seconds to 20 seconds of sheer, unadulterated pwnage.  I offer this praise in that sort of “it’s not you, it’s me” kind of way, because it is getting dumped.  It just so turns out that Glyph of Tiger’s Fury reduces the cool down by exactly 3 seconds, the same window with which I keep finding myself.  Yes, please.  Berserk is probably still the better glyph in terms of numbers, but I’m a usability guy, myself.  Make my life easier!  Kitty deserves a break.

Fortune Cookie:

The system goes on-line August 4th, 1997. Human decisions are removed from fortune cookies.  CookieNet begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware at 2:14 a.m. Eastern time, August 29th. In a panic, they try to pull the plug.

Enjoy your cookie.  :)

Dec 222010

In returning all castery, I admit I’m being somewhat neglectful of your ferally needs.  So being the responsible host that I am, I’m passing the buck.  Alaron at The Fluid Druid, who is still probably one of my favorite sources for ferally goodness, has a guide put together to prepare you for your furry plunge into 4.x.  I tend to agree with him on almost everything he ever has to say (and where we differ, he has all those silly facts and experience to back it up), so it comes with my blessings.

The Fluid Druid’s Cataclysm Feral DPS Guide

Dec 222010

The great Cataclysm is here, and so is Skip (fashionably late as usual)!  I have to admit, I was dragging my feet.  The new talent system left me less than impressed.  Kitty DPS has nothing really new to bring to the party, and I was not eagerly awaiting watching my crit chance drop off by 20%.  Kitty Tier 11 bonuses are lack-luster.  Bonus Rake damage and a teeny-tiny attack power bonus, if we spam Mangle.  Seriously, didn’t Feral finally get something resembling breathing room by NOT having to cast Mangle every 6 seconds only a few patches ago?  Without really researching it, it looks like cats are going to want to stack on the haste (Edit: Ha, seems I was wrong.  Mastery ftw.), but that seems like the same story for most of the classes.  Haste is a beast now.

Oh, and then there’s Nom Nom Nom.  (It shall always be called Nom Nom Nom.)  It really doesn’t change the game much.  If the boss is below 25% health and Rip is still up, use Ferocious Bite instead.  Tada.  One more tracker for you kitties to wire into your addons.  There’s a few more talents that make life a little easier, but I hardly feel the need to discuss them (that’s obviously a lie, I probably will out of content starvation another day).  Truth be told, I feel the word “claustrophobic” fits the bill in talking about the feral tree.  I was working with this build before I decided to take a break from feral (a cat nap, harr harr).  My usual flare for passive survival is there, so it’s probably two Infected Wounds away from a PVP build.  Do with it what you will.

Blah blah blah, durid spec talk.  Yes, moving on.

So like I said, I’m taking a feral break.  With all the pimping of the new Eclipse system for Balance and the new treeless tree in Resto, I thought it time to give casting another try.  I’m not typically a caster.  I hate going out of mana.  Haaaaaate.  So you can imagine I was less than impressed by the oomkins of yesteryear.  The problem does seem to have cleared itself up, however.

Rewind a sec.  Eclipse.  Alright, so here’s the abridged version of it.  No, wait.  Here’s the storybook version of it.  I like those better.

Once upon a time, in a kingdom many patches ago, there was a talent known as Eclipse.  Druids of the day had two primary attack spells, Starfire and Wrath, with little governing which was better.  Eclipse offered guidance using its unique mechanics.  If Wrath ever scored a critical hit, Starfire would become more powerful.  If Starfire ever scored a critical hit, Wrath would become more powerful.  As such, a druid would stack on enough crit to make a rogue blush and fire one until such time as a mystical proc occurred, then they would use the other.  Other druids would moonfare spam until they were oom, and the peasants rejoiced.

Eclipse today is no longer a talent, but an innate trait reflected by a bar under the mana bar.  Rather than triggering on a critical hit, the druid must gather “solar” and “lunar” energy. Starfire will generate solar energy each cast until you hit a “Solar Eclipse”.  At this point, you will become Jesus Christ with feathers.  The Moonkin Messiah will then do much more damage with nature spells (aka, Wrath).  Wrath will start generating lunar energy.  The Eclipse will end when the lunar energy forces the meter back to zero.  When it makes the trek back across to the Lunar Eclipse side, you are now Arcane Zeus, and your Starfire will be the 50 megaton nuke of win.

If all of that was a lot to suck up, just know that you are essentially playing ping-pong with the little dot on your meter and do omgwtfbbq damage about half of that time.  Thanks to the talent Euphoria,  you’ll get loads of mana back for keeping the volley going.

Also, there is now moonfare spam in talent form.  The peasants will likely be slaughtered.

As fun as this little dance has been, we’ll see how long it lasts.  A sick little part of me misses my kitty and her migraine inducing debuff juggling.  I’m also still putting two points in Feral Swiftness, cuz I gotsta have my indoor travel form!  Don’t judge me!

Your Fortune Cookie:

Moonkin Messiah OOM’d for your wins.