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.

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