Jun 262011
 

The last few days before a patch are always very painful for anyone who maintains an addon, or in my case a script for an addon. When Cata first came out, I picked up support for the feral Ovale script that we maintain on the Fluid Druid Forums. In keeping with the tradition established by Nightcrowler (the author of FeralbyNight, an addon we used back in BC) I have always based the rotation in my Ovale script on an optimized Mew simulation script. While that sounds simple enough, it means I spend time optimizing the sim script in Mew, then updating my Ovale script to match, and finally debugging the Ovale script on the PTR. And, I pretty much have to wait until just before the patch is released due to the ongoing changes to the feral class that we have seen in 4.2 and the accompanying changes that Yawning has been making to Mew.

The good news is, barring any unforeseen additional changes to 4.2 and/or Mew, I just completed my work on the Mew sim script and a first version of a 4.2 compatible Ovale script, which means the changes to the rotation for 4.2 are fresh in my mind.

Starting from the top… in case anyone has not heard, the optimum third glyph to use is now Glyph of Berserk. So be ready to grab some Dust of Disappearance, and swap out Glyph of TF (if you are still using it). This means that the base duration of Berserk will be 25 seconds, and the duration of TF will be 30 seconds. With the 4 piece tier 12 set bonus, we will sometimes see Berserks that are over 40 seconds in length (during Heroism) and will typically see 4T12 Berserks last just over 30 seconds. The result is that the optimum time to cast Berserk is during TF (preferably at the same time). As a matter of fact, the only time you would ever want to cast Berserk without TF is if you are in a situation where the Berserk is coming off of cooldown and is going to be clipped if you wait for TF (like the end of a fight) – and even then, if TF is coming off of cooldown soon (6 seconds seems to be a good rule of thumb) you should wait for it. So make sure you have TF macroed into your Berserk, and hit both together.

Next up, casting Ferocious Bite during Berserk. Clearly, this is important to do if you have the 4 piece T12 set bonus. As it happens, it is also a small dps up to cast FB during Berserk even if you do not have the 4 piece set bonus. No more complaining about endless Shred spamming during Berserk, FB is back. There are, of course, guard times. Make sure there is at least 5 seconds left on Rip and 3 seconds left on Savage Roar when you cast your 5 combo point FBs.

In case people did not get the message in 4.1, trying to refresh Savage Roar early in order to avoid having it come off of cooldown around the same time as Rip is no longer a dps gain. However, Savage Roar has been buffed in 4.2, and the rules around when to refresh it have changed. In the 4.1 rotation, there was a 6 second Rip guard time on Savage Roar. Basically an optimized rotation would wait to refresh Savage Roar if Rip was going to expire within 6 seconds, even if this meant an extended period of downtime on Savage Roar (as much as 8 seconds). The scales have tipped, if Savage Roar is coming off of cooldown, you don’t check for when Rip is going to expire anymore, you just refresh it. Keep in mind, Rip is still higher in the priority list than Savage Roar, and we do try to refresh it about 2 seconds before it expires, so this is really about the cases where Rip has more than 2 seconds left and/or we have less than 5 combo points. Nonetheless, it is trading off uptime on Rip for uptime on Savage Roar.

Did anyone else feel a cool “Wrath-like” breeze blow by just now? Not only is it a dps up to cast Ferocious Bite during Berserk, but it is also a dps increase to cast it other times. The guard times are very restrictive (can you say “level 80 Wrath“?), 14 seconds for Rip and 10 seconds for Savage Roar, but it does happen. I spent time on the PTR training dummy earlier tonight and it popped up in my Ovale script occasionally. Just be fast, because the window closes quickly.

The final change worth mentioning is in the area of energy pooling. Keep doing it, only more than before. When you are not in the middle of TF or Berserk, refreshing a DoT or debuff or hustling to get a few extra combo points because Rip and/or Savage Roar are about to expire, get your energy up to at least 85. This is a good 10-15 energy higher than what was needed in 4.1.

Now, having gone through all of the changes, it is important to remind all of you to keep these changes in context. Specifically we have a complex priority-based rotation, and all of these changes are still subject to a set of well defined priorities. To understand those, you should spend some time reading either my new Ovale script and/or the latest, greatest Mew sim script (which should be released in the next day or two and is available via SVN). If you really want to get a good feel for the rotation, download Ovale, grab my 4.2 script from the Fluid Druid forums, and play with it on the PTR. The 4.2 Ovale script is incredibly close to the sim script, closer than any other script I have done to date. Just get on a training dummy, setup both Ovale and a cooldown monitor of some sort, and follow the Ovale suggestions. You will quickly get a feel for how the rotation has changed, especially if you keep in mind what I have covered here.

In closing, I like the rotation changes. It has brought some life back into feral play. The endless Shred spamming during Berserk was mind-numbing. I think most of you will appreciate the changes. It does feel a lot more like the Wrath rotation did. Also, the best thing about testing with a premade T12 feral was not having to keep SoTP up and running. That is probably my least favorite set bonus ever. I can’t wait to get 2 piece T12 so I can lose the 4 piece T11 set bonus (hopefully forever).

Best of luck to everyone in Firelands. Soon we will be having Fire Kitty processions and dances! I am looking forward to seeing some cool Fire Kitty videos on Youtube ;)

P.S. there will no longer be zero range Feral Charges. We have estimated that the 4.2 changes are on the order of a 9% dps increase over 4.1 , but on fights where we used to be able to Feral Charge on cooldown while standing next to the boss, expect the improvement to be half of that.

Jun 132011
 

When Blizz announced that there was no new raid in 4.1 I was under the impression that major feral changes would happen there and 4.2 would just be a new tier of raiding.  No big changes for any classes.  I was wrong and am I glad.  Unlike previous patches where we had to sift through all the “OMG! The sky is falling, all druids will quit the game” complaining to find real numbers to crunch there is a general feeling of hopeful anticipation in the feral ranks.  Now that a release has hit the PTR it is time to round it all up and present it to you.

Plate wearing Tanks

Agility

  • Death knights, paladins, and warriors no longer receive any bonus to their chance to dodge from Agility. Their base chance to dodge is now a fixed 5%.

This is not a druid change but several people have gotten confused by others stating “tanks” won’t get dodge from AGI.  We keep our dodge benefit from AGI.  This will keep the other tanks from taking our necks and rings to get more avoidance stats.

All Druids

Buffs

  • All class abilities which place a buff on friendly targets no longer generate any threat. This goes for raid-wide buffs like Mark of the Wild and Power Word: Fortitude, as well as triggered effects such as Blessed Resilience or Fingers of Frost, and single-target buffs like Dark Intent and Hysteria. The exception is buffs which directly cause healing or damage, such as Thorns or Renew. Abilities such as these still generate normal threat.

Ummmm….I included this because it is a change to us.  Not really important, but a change.  I have never pulled a boss or aggro by throwning out Paws on someone, and now i guess i don’t have to worry about it.

Crowd Control

  • Many crowd control abilities no longer cause creatures to attack players when they are cast. The creature will not attack the player when the crowd control wears off, and nearby creatures will not become hostile to the player either. However, if a visible player gets too close to the target creature, the creature will remember and attack the player when the crowd control effect wears off. The intent is to make it easier for dungeon groups to manage crowd control assignments and pulling packs of hostile NPCs. The abilities affected by this change are: Hibernate, Entangling Roots, Wyvern Sting (will still cause hostility when it begins to deal damage), Freezing Trap, Polymorph, Repentance, Shackle Undead, Blind, Hex, Bind Elemental, Banish and Seduction.

Another small change that wont affect ferals running in established groups but will help pugs mainly:

Strength nerf

  • Druids now gain 1 attack power per point of Strength, down from 2. They continue to gain 2 attack power per point of Agility while in Cat Form or Bear Form.

When this was first announced it was a “Sky is falling” topic.  We discussed this over and over.  It is a nerf BUT……it isn’t a big deal by any means.  With all the other changes you won’t notice.  This, I believe, is the counter to plate wearing tanks not getting dodge from AGI.  We now won’t grab their strength items and they will keep their grubby hands off of our AGI items.

PVP nerf

  • Entangling Roots and the equivalent spell triggered by Nature’s Grasp no longer deal damage.

I say PVP nerf simply because if you need,depending on the damage caused by Entangling Root in PVE, you are in more trouble than this could ever provide help for.  Really, no one depends on the damage from this.

Innervate

  • Innervate now grants an ally target 5% of his or her maximum mana over 10 seconds, but still grants 20% of the druid’s maximum mana over 10 seconds when self-cast.

Make no mistake,  this is a buff and will scale to be even better.  It is a minimal buff right now, but raid-geared healers have 5 to 6 times more mana then we do.  Crunching rounded numbers from 372ilvl groups show this to be a 3K-5K buff in the amount of mana the healer will recieve.  As we progress in 4.2 and beyond, healers will gain even larger pools of mana making this buff even better.

Cat

  • Omen of Clarity clearcasting buff now lasts 15 seconds, up from 8 seconds.

This can help in very limited capacities but really, you should be popping your ability on proc.  An example of this helping is on the twin dragons fight.  Valiona begins to take off and you refresh your last DOT but 1 more auto-attack goes off and procs OOC.  Valiona is now out of range to use this and Theralion is not yet in range.  A couple of extra seconds to use your proc is very nice here.

  • Ferocious Bite damage has been increased by 15%. In addition, its base cost has been reduced to 25 energy and it can use up to 25 energy, for up to a 100% damage increase.

A buff to FB!  BUT……not enough.  It is still not recomended to FB above 25% health on target until you get the new 4P bonus.  We will talk about the tier gear later.

  • Mangle (Cat) damage at level 80 and above has been increased to 540% weapon damage, up from 460%.

Direct damage buff.  If you have the 4PT11 buff you will notice this right away.  If not it won’t affect you that much.  On fights with alot of target switching requiring you to constently reapply Mangle debuff this will become noticable also.

  • Ravage damage at level 80 and above has been increased to 950% weapon damage, up from 850%.

Direct damage buff but this makes me sad.  This, coupled with the change to bosses allowing FC in melee range, makes me sad.  Imagine the Chim fight with this buff, and no FC min range like it is right now.  Since they are fixing the issue with no min range to FC bosses it is nice that they buffed this to still make it fun to run out and FC back in.

  • Shred damage at level 80 and above has been increased to 540% weapon damage, up from 450%.

So what button do you push more then any other on a boss fight?  Well guess what, that button just got hooked up to a bigger hammer:)

  • Swipe (Cat) now deals 600% weapon damage at level 80 or higher, down from 670%.

I think we all saw this nerf coming.  And so continues the yo-yo that is feral AOE DPS.  On the plus side this isn’t near the level of change our AOE has gotten nerfed in the past so we might be looking at a reasonable balance here.  We still have no sustained AOE but out burst will be nice.

  • Rake initial damage on hit now deals the same damage as each periodic tick (and is treated the same for all combat calculations). Periodic damage now gains 14.7% of attack power per tick, up from 12.6%, and base damage per tick has been lowered from 557 to 56. There is a known issue with Rake’s tooltip being incorrect from this change will be corrected in a future patch

Oh……….My………….Gosh!!!!  With all the direct damage buffs it felt as though we where shifting out of DoTing but this, my friends, is so nice.  This along with swipe nerf has got me in math mode trying to figure out how to AoE again.  More on that to come.

  • Savage Roar now grants 80% increased damage to melee auto attacks, up from 50%.

SR was so weak after Cata drop.  I am glad they did this.

Bear

From Blizz:

Bear damage abilities were scaling too fast with higher gear levels compared to other tanks, so the following balance changes have been made. All the numbers cited are for level 85 characters; numbers will be lower for lower-level characters.

  • Faerie Fire (Feral) base damage has been raised to 2950, up from 679. Attack power scaling has been decreased to 10.8%, down from 15%.
  • Maul base damage has been raised to 35, up from 8. Attack power scaling has been decreased to 19%, down from 26.4%.
  • Pulverize weapon damage percent has been decreased to 60%, down from 80%. Damage per Lacerate application has been increased to 1623, up from 361.
  • Mangle (Bear) weapon damage percent has been decreased to 190%, down from 260%. Bonus damage has been increased to 3306, down from 754.
  • Swipe base damage has been increased to 929, up from 215.  Attack power scaling has been decreased to 12.3%, down from 17.1%.
  • Thrash initial base damage has been increased to 1042, up from 339. Initial damage attack power scaling has been decreased to 9.82%, down from 19.2%. Periodic base damage has been increased to 581, up from 189. Periodic damage attack power scaling has been decreased to 1.67%, down from 3.26%. In addition, a bug was corrected where armor decreased the periodic damage done by this ability.
  • Lacerate initial base damage has been increased to 3608, up from 2089. Initial damage attack power scaling has been decreased to 5.52%, down from 7.66%. Periodic base damage has been increased to 69, up from 16. Periodic damage attack power scaling has been decreased too. 369%, down from 0.512%

All of these Bear changes will result in less bear DPS/Threat but you will be getting new and better gear soon.

  • Natural Reaction damage reduction has been increased to 9/18%, up from 6/12%

Now that is a nice buff.  What bear doesn’t want to take less damage?

Glyphs

  • Glyph of Berserk duration increase is now 10 seconds, up from 5.

The new 4P bonus coupled with this will make for some energy starved Beserks

  • Glyph of Ferocious Bite has been redesigned. It now causes Ferocious Bite to heal the caster for 1% of maximum health for each 10 energy used.

So FB hits harder and costs less.  With this glyph it will now heal a bit also.  Could save your life.

  • Glyph of Innervate now causes the druid to gain 10% of his or her maximum mana over 10 seconds when Innervate is used on a friendly target, in addition to Innervate‘s base effect.

I included this becouse of the changes to Innervate itself.  DO NOT use this glyph.

Druid Bug Fixes

  • It is no longer possible in some encounters to use Feral Charge when closer than its minimum range.

Well it was fun while it lasted but really this needed to happen.  I don’t like feeling like I must use a broken mechanic to play.

And now the biggest change of them all.  I seriously need to embed a music file here with something truly epic. No not epic, LEDGENDARY!!!!!!!

Cats and Kettens I give you(pause for effect)

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!FIRECAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

firecat

Honestly I couldn’t care less what the stats are….but they are really good.

I also don’t care what the staff looks like…..but it’s really cool.

All I really care about is that it will make me look like this

firecat 2

And here is a nice video.

So how does it work?  First the staff drops off of Fandral Staghelm.  He is the next to last boss in Firelands.  You might need to bribe/maim/beg/kill the hunters in your group as it is a good staff for them.  Once you have the staff of course equip it.  It works 2 ways.  If you have the staff equipped, you will turn into FIRECAT whenever you enter combat.  Otherwise, it has a 2 hour cooldown that lets you right click it and turn into FIRECAT anywhere you like.  The effect of the use lasts until cancelled or you leave your current zone.  Floofles reported on our forums that he macroed a cancel aura into ALL of his abilities and while raiding was able to make his cat go in and out of FIRECAT mode constantly during fights making what he called a “Disco Cat”.

Well that wraps up 4.2, people.  Of course, 4.2 hasn’t gone live so there is still time for Blizz to make changes, but I like what they have done so far.

As always be sure to subscribe to the RSSfeed and use the forums. Are you on Twitter? I am, follow me @Sylvaneart. Feel free to PM me with any questions you might have, but the forums on this site are your best bet. This will help to answer one question one time instead of one question multiple times. This site is a posting spot for many great cats. If you are the noob with a noob question and are a little embarrassed then a PM will do fine. I will never ridicule you.
Sylvaneart

Mar 292011
 

The cat threads across the various forums are littered with people asking questions about what gems and enchants should be used, and how to reforge. The advice is varied and in many cases out of date as people have not fully embraced the changes that 4.06 made. The following three rules are all you need. If you spend more time thinking about gemming, enchanting and reforging than the amount of time it takes to read this post, you are spending your time on the wrong subject. You would be better suiting thinking about your rotation and the various boss encounters your guild is working on if you want to make significant improvements to your dps.

1. Always gem for agility. Agility is generally worth about three times the stat value of any of the secondary stats. Unless a socket bonus is worth 14+ agility for a single gem socket, ignore it. In the current content there are only a few items in the game where it is worthwhile to get the socket bonus (helms, tier chest, Sinestra belt). Everything else should be gemmed with agility (delicate). As it happens, in all three cases where it is worth getting the socket bonus, the socket color is blue – so you will be using agility/hit gems for the blue sockets in those items (glinting).

2. Use the known BiS enchants. The BiS enchants are well understood. Agility/haste for the helm; agility/mastery for the shoulders; agility for the back*, bracers, weapon and boots; stats for the chest; Attack power/crit for the legs; strength for the gloves. Don’t use any other enchants. * 65 crit is a viable alternative for the back.

3. Get mastery on every item. Mastery continues to be the best of the secondary stats and is generally worth about 20% more than the other secondary stats. If an item does not have mastery on it, reforge the highest available secondary stat to mastery. Per my post 4.06 – the Homogenization of Secondary Stats the difference in relative values of all of the secondary stats other than mastery are pretty close and varying them will have minimal impact on your dps. Once you have mastery on every item, then you can reforge selectively as needed (hit until 4.1 for interrupts) or desired (for example some people like to reforge to expertise on Al’akir). In general having haste and crit balanced provides good results, although some people prefer to reforge to hit/expertise in order to have a more stable rotation and consistent results on fights with target switching.

Dec 292009
 

This is written to try to definitively answer questions about combat ratings and the hit table for feral druids, since mechanics are starting to greatly affect our gearing choices. Kalon did a good post on this a while back, but I’d like to go into a bit more detail. His numbers are also slightly off, due to the new theory on crit conversion right all along. (Warning: Math ahead.)

EDIT: Welcome wow.com readers! If this is your first visit here, you might also be interested in my bear guide, or my cat gearing guide for new ferals (part 1/part 2).

What is the combat table?

Every time you attack an enemy, WoW creates a hit table for that attack that determines the result. The re are two different systems, one for standard melee (or white) attacks, and one for special (or yellow) attacks. We’ll look at the standard table, and then see how yellow attacks differ. Also note that these numbers are only for level 83/boss mobs.

White Attack Table:

Miss: Your character has a base 8% chance to miss. This is mitigated by Hit Rating. 32.8  points of +Hit will reduce this chance by 1%, so you need 263 +Hit to be hit-capped, or reduce your miss chance to 0%. A Draenei in your party adds a 1% hit aura, reduces the hit cap to 230. Any hit above cap is wasted in terms of melee attacks (though it does help for spells and taunts.)

Dodge: Your character has a base 6.5% chance to have its attack dodged. This is mitigated by Expertise Rating. (Expertise Rating is the number displayed on gear and on the tooltip when you mouseover; expertise skill is the displayed value.) 32.8 points of Expertise Rating (which equals 4 expertise skill) will reduce this chance by 1%, so you need 214 Expertise Rating (26 expertise skill) to be expertise-capped, or reduce your dodge chance to 0%. If you are talented into Primal Precision (and you should be as a feral DPS’er), that gives you 83 points of Expertise Rating (10 expertise skill), which reduces the expertise cap to 131.

Parry: Your character has a 14% chance to have its attack parried. This can be reduced by expertise, or eliminated completely by attacking the mob from the rear (so always attack from the rear). This is also why expertise is so good for a tank’s threat generation, as they are forced to attack from the front.

Glancing Blow: Your character has a 24% chance to have its attack be a “glancing blow.” This does less damage than a normal attack, but more importantly, there is no way to mitigate glancing blow chance.

Block: Your character has a 5% chance to have its attack blocked. This can be eliminated by attacking from the rear. (I’m not sure if this falls on the combat table, or if you simply have a 5% chance to have a crit/hit blocked if attacking from the front. Either way, it’s not really relevant to a DPS discussion, as we’re attacking from the rear regardless.)

Crit: Your critical strike chance. Against a level 83/boss mob, 4.8% of your crits are reduced to hits. (This was previously thought to be a crit reduction; however, it has since been shown that it is a conversion, and therefore cannot be mitigated. EDIT: It’s now a crit reduction again.)

Hit: If an attack doesn’t fall into one of the previous categories, it’s a standard hit.

So how does this work?

For every white attack, the WoW engine builds a hit table using the above stats, and rolls a 1-100 to see where that attack lands on the hit table. Let’s use an example to show how this works.

I have 0 hit, 0 expertise, no Primal Precision talent, and 50% crit, attacking a boss from the rear. The hit table would look like this:

1-8: miss
9-15.5: dodge
15.5-15.5: parry (eliminated due to attacking from the rear)
15.5-39.5: glancing blow
39.5-85.7: crit
85.7-90.5: hit (crit reduction)
90.5-100: hit

Yellow attacks are slightly different, as they follow a two-roll system. For each attack, the game rolls once to determine if the attack hits (100% – miss/dodge/parry chance). If the attack hits, the game rolls again to determine if the attack is a crit. The jury is still out on this, but it appears that the crit conversion is simply a crit reduction for yellow attacks, so 104.8% crit should give you 100% crit on yellow attacks.

Why is this important?

Well, looking at the example above, extra crit will only convert that bottom 9.5% of white hits to crits. Anything over that is wasted for white attacks. Put another way, with full hit and expertise, the crit cap is 76% (100% – glancing blows.) With no hit or expertise, the crit cap drops to 60.5%. This isn’t that hard to reach; my average crit self-buffed is about 55% before procs. Depending on your gear and situation (raidbuffs), this can devalue agility and crit for gemming/enchanting/trinkets. (Death’s Verdict is the worst for this.) Yellow attacks don’t have to deal with glancing blows, so the crit cap for those is 95.2%, or 79.7% with no hit/expertise. (EDIT: These are ACTUAL numbers…apologies for not being more clear. Your character pane numbers will be 4.8% higher than actual, since they assume attacking a same-lvl mob. For example, your character pane critcap would be 80.8%.)

So what do I do?

First of all, nothing drastic. Agility is still a good stat, since it will continue to increase your yellow crit rate, and it only devalues slightly if you’re over the crit softcap (from procs). However, if you are in an environment where you can count on being over the white crit hardcap, then it’s probably time to regem, probably to ArPen for reds (if not capped) and agi/haste, agi/expertise, or agi/hit for yellows. I’ll explore this more in a later post. Secondly, if you’re not hit/expertise capped, those stats become MUCH more valuable past the crit cap, as each miss/dodge is almost always a missed crit. We were swimming in hit in previous tiers; now, it’ll be much harder to come by.

References:

Combat table post from EJ: link
Crit depression/conversion post from EJ: white and yellow tests

Against a level 83/boss mob, you character has a 24% chance to have its attack be a “glancing blow.” This does less damage than a normal attack, but more importantly, there is no way to mitigate glancing blow chance.