Mar 072011
 

With nothing new on the PvE feral front to report, I’ve gone ahead and ended my subscription to WoW. Last night was my last raid, and obligingly, CD managed to take down Cho’Gall for the first time. :) Happily, I was able to end my raiding time by killing the boss that had only been killed before in the comics, and not the one that had been killed before in-game. (Woot for recycled content!)

I’ll keep posting as long as I’m able (and as long as people want to read my increasingly out-of-date observations), but I’m still looking for guest bloggers/posters. I’ve got two of my forum regulars signed up so far; if you’re interested, send me a PM. I’ll be digging through my emails and PM’s today and tomorrow to try to clear the backlog; apologies to anyone who I haven’t replied to quickly.

Finally, thanks to all the great commenters (and forum posters). So much on the Internet turns to chaos; hopefully, we’ve created a little island of sanity here where people can discuss (and learn) their favorite game without the trolls. Never would have kept going without you. I’ve spent what was left from the donations I received, and some of what I’ve received from WoWI, to renew the hosting for another year. Try not to mess the place up too much while I’m away. :)

Alaron (Chase)

 Posted by at 11:16 pm
Mar 052011
 

Ah, the pleas of the many have been answered! Lo, the doors of Blizzard have parted, and the following comes forth:

“While things may look bleak, my feral sons and daughters, take heart! We have you in our thoughts always. Your many entreaties and lamentations have not fallen on deaf ears. We have listened…now hear the solution that will restore you as an equal competitor against dragons and men!”

A hushed silence decends on the crowd. The narrator waits until all is still, than speaks again…

Prowl has a new icon.”

They have SPOKEN!


Okay, seriously, there were a few changes that I won’t mock:

  • Feral Swiftness now also causes Dash and Stampeding Roar to have a 50/100% chance to instantly remove all movement impairing effects from the affected targets when used.
  • Glyph of Rake is now Glyph of Pounce, which increases the range of Pounce by 3 yards.

I figure this is as close as we’re going to get to getting our root break back, and it’s probably the best stopgap solution. (Any class redesign to be balanced around, say, shapeshifting mana costs, would probably take quite some time.) You’d frequently be using Dash/SR (the newer improved version) as a gap closer after a root anyway, so this works out to some degree. It’s interesting how SR has essentially become “AOE Dash.” I hope that they take a look at the energy cost; it’s high enough that it’s hard to use it as a reactive ability, which I assume is the intent. The Pounce glyph is fairly useless, but I’m HOPING *crosses fingers* that this means they might let Stampede proc Ravage OR Pounce.

Also, this:

  • The root effect from Shattered Barrier now shares diminishing returns with the root from Improved Cone of Cold.

Hey, maybe someone, somewhere, does listen? WHILE YOU”RE LISTENING, CAN YOU TWEAK FB AND CAT SWIPE, PLEASE? THANKS!

(Yes, this post is a little silly. I’m in a good mood; got the email today that I passed my CISSP exam.)

 Posted by at 12:48 am
Mar 012011
 

So, the 4.1 changes so far:

  • Cyclone duration has been reduced to 5 seconds, down from 6.
  • Lifebloom‘s bloom effect has been reduced by 20%. In addition, it now costs 11% of base mana, up from 7%.
  • Stampeding Roar‘s duration has been increased to 8 seconds, up from 6. The movement speed effect has been increased to 60%, up from 40%.
  • Swipe (Bear) cooldown has been reduced to 3 seconds, down from 6.
  • (Death Knight) Raise Ally has been redesigned to be a battle resurrection, analogous to Rebirth. It is instant cast, but costs 50 Runic Power to use, and has a 10-minute cooldown. It shares the same global battle resurrection cap with Rebirth and Soulstone.

Let’s recap. For PvE, feral druids needed a slight damage bump, a quicker rotation ramp-up, a tweak to Ferocious Bite, and better AoE. (Fixing the latter problems will likely fix the first.) For PvP, druids needed a survivability/mitigation increase to compensate for the inability to self-break snares. (Among with many other things, but this is the glaring one.)

Instead, we got: 1) a nerf to our primary PvP control mechanism; 2) a nerf to our healing in PvP (Resto druids typically don’t let LB bloom; however, with the ToL change, this may be directed at druids rolling LB in ToL); and 3) a further reason for a 10-man to bench a feral druid for a DK. Meanwhile, the Stampeding Roar buff doesn’t fix the main problem, which is the energy cost (for cats) and range. At least the bear Swipe change is nice, and a good solution to bear AoE issues. On balance, the first round of proposed changes are definitely not persuading me that Blizzard is understanding the issues we’ve been trying to communicate.

Other stuff:

- My guild and I suffered through a 0.2% and a 1% wipe on Cho’gall on Sunday. Bah! Bah I say!

- My column hasn’t disappeared from WoWI – just some technical difficulties with screenshots. Should be up soon.

- I definitely don’t PvP at a high level, but I enjoy reading the discussions of those who do. Definitely give this post by Reygahnci about feral PvP a look, and add his blog to your feedreaders.

 Posted by at 2:13 pm
Feb 252011
 

So, everybody is abuzz with 4.1 info; I’m in a bit of a hurry, so I’ll just remind you to check the usual suspects for the up-to-date info. For those that asked, I was about to post a reworked version of my “state of feral” post on the Damage Dealing forum, when I noticed someone else (basically) had. It may or may not be helpful to comment on that thread, but if ever, now’s the time to do it with the 4.1 PTR coming up.

4.1

  • It’s a bit buried, but it’s there: “we want to do a better job of balancing the AoE power of the different damage-dealing specs.” That’s one of the major weaknesses of feral at the moment, so any love here would be great.
  • “All non-damaging interrupts off the global cooldown will now always hit the target. This includes Pummel, Shield Bash, Kick, Mind Freeze, Rebuke, Skull Bash, Counterspell, Wind Shear, Solar Beam, Silencing Shot, and related player pet abilities.” Assuming this means what I think it does, no more having to stack hit. Yay! (PvP just got more boring, I guess.)
  • All the crafted LW gear lost 20 agility and 20 secondary stats and gained a red socket with a +10 agility socket bonus. That will make those items much more appealing.
  • Hmm, this wouldn’t he too hard to rework for Feral: “Whirlwind now has its cooldown reduced by 6 sec. if it deals damage to 4 or more targets.” Let Swipe cost less energy for 4+ targets, maybe?

Feral blue post

(I know, it’s sad that a blue post about feral deserves it’s own header; they’re rare beasts these days.)

I chose not to post in this thread because it seemed to be mostly about bears (and then devolved into a PvP argument, like usual) but:

  • Hey, ferals do exist! (FWIW, I agree with 1, his argument on 2 sucks, and I disagree with 3.)
  • They’re not changing it (shifting not breaking roots) back. “We’ve been over this issue quite a bit…” “Ferals are now slightly easier to control.”  ”SOME players would rather have…” etc., etc. I think the martyr mindset has set in at Blizz on this change…this is good for THE GAME, so let’s keep pressing it, regardless of criticism.
 Posted by at 12:30 am
Feb 242011
 

So I got a TON of comments on my “state of feral” post (75ish, at last count) and 80% of them are focusing on one thing- where ferals are on the meters. I’d like to clarify a bit.

  • Feral is not “broken.” Obviously, this depends on how you define “broken.” Several commenters have pointed out that “I’m always in the top X for DPS in my guild’s raids” and “I haven’t seen any problems.” Well, yeah. I’m pulling top5 DPS for my decidedly non-hardcore guild as well. Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure I’m a better player than they are, which makes comparisons like these somewhat less valid. (Protip: If you read blogs about WoW, then you are probably a better player than average.)  Feral DPS can complete all normal-mode content and pull competitive numbers; or, from a PvP perspective, can hit high ratings, so I don’t think they’re “broken.” For 90% of people, that’s all that matters. (90% is roughly the number of raiders that have not completed any heroic raid content to date, according to GuildOx.)
  • Feral is currently weak in PvE, compared to other classes. How did I come to that conclusion? Well, first we need a method to fairly compare class DPS. Happily, the community has created several resources for us to draw information from. The one most commonly used is the World of Logs DPS rankings. While this tool was created purely as an online scoreboard competition, it stores the top 200 results for each spec. This is enough information to allow us to compare spec for spec in similar situations. Several second-order tools, such as State of DPS and Raidbots (Hi Seri!) have been created to parse this information into fancy graphs that we can argue about. :) Now, several valid criticisms have been made about how well this dataset applies to the problem; unfortunately, it’s the best tool we have for comparative purposes, and I don’t think any of the criticisms substantially devalue the comparison. Looking at both parsing sites, we’re very low on the overall numbers. Of course, overall numbers don’t tell the whole story; let’s look at specific fights. (Note that when I compare classes, I assume that top players will switch to the best DPS spec available to their class and gear; so I only count the top DPS spec for every class except shamans and druids, which I count individually.)
    • Pure Single-Target DPS: Very Poor. Looking at Argaloth (I think it’s safe to say that the top 200 are moving to stay behind him at this point), ferals are the lowest class. The difference isn’t that pronounced for single-target, though; assuming MM comes back to the pack a little bit after the recent nerf, I’d say feral is about 5-10% behind the top class. (What about Chimaeron? Well, I’m of the opinion that Chimaeron numbers are untrustworthy. Top DPS’ers will be the first to die in the burn phase, which skews their numbers downward.)
    • Two-Target DPS: Poor. It’s hard to find a fight that has just two targets without other things going on; Valiona/Theralion and Twilight Council are the closest. We are the second lowest spec on VT (just ahead of ele) and third-lowest spec on TAC (just ahead of ele and ret). Admittedly, most melee has troubles with TAC, but we’re significantly behind the ones with decent ranged ability; unholy and enhance.
    • Burst AOE: Poor to Average. Looking at normal-mode Maloriak, we beat out three specs (ele/enh/ret) and are very close to fury. That’s not bad, but that’s the closest to the top we’ve got.
    • Sustained AOE: Very Poor. Heroic-mode Maloriak features an extra phase with nothing but AOE. Ferals come in 11 of 12, just ahead of enhance.
      (If you think I need to look at a certain fight besides these, let me know.)
  • Feral is currently underrepresented in PvP, compared to other classes. Since we don’t have performance data for arena teams, the best we can do is look at the top-rated teams and see how many have ferals on them. Unfortunately, I don’t know of an automated tool that does this (anyone else know?) Looking at AJ numbers for the top 100 3v3 teams, roughly 40 of them have druids. Of those 40, all of them are Resto/X. Most have second resto or boomkin offspecs; maybe 3 or 4 have feral offspecs. None are logged out in feral PvP gear, as far as I can tell.

Feel free to comment. I’m having a very long and difficult week, so I’m not participating as much as I would be normally.

 Posted by at 12:48 am
Feb 202011
 

First, thanks to all of you who responded to my last post. As always, I’m amazed by the number of people who actually read this thing. :)

I was less than clear in my postscript, when I stated that I’d canceled my subscription renewal. A bit of background: Many long-term readers know that I serve in the U.S. military. Well, I’ve been in a year-long set of training courses, that is now coming to an end.

Recently, I was notified that my follow-on assignment had been changed; I was now going to a unit on an accelerated deployment timeline. Essentially, this means that I will be heading overseas (sorry, I can’t give more details than that) for a year in the next 2-3 months, to a place where my connection to the Blizzard servers will be…less than optimal, shall we say. I had planned to re-sub for one more month, but I think it’s important that I communicate my displeasure with the direction that Blizzard is taking feral (or lack of direction, possibly) and unsubscribing is the strongest message available. I have about 2 weeks left on my sub, so we’ll see what changes between now and then.

About the site: While my blogging frequency will probably diminish markedly, I plan to keep paying for the site and the associated hosting costs. The forum and the community here has succeeded in providing a place where new players and veterans can come to get help in a non-elitist environment, and I want to keep that up. (Of course, donations are always welcome. :)) I can’t really say for sure anything more than that, until I get on-ground and see what my workload is going to be like. If anyone is interested in guest blogging, send me an email/PM, and I’ll look into how to set it up.

 Posted by at 10:23 am  Tagged with:
Feb 192011
 

…is, frankly, not good. I’ve been holding this post for a while, waiting for something, anything…but Yawning’s departure for many of the same reasons has spurred me to action. Let’s list, shall we? Rant inc. (Oh, and thanks to all who wished me good luck on the CISSP. I have good feelings…just have to wait now.)

PvE

-Our finishers are too simplistic. During WOTLK, the importance of Savage Roar and the strength of Ferocious Bite worked well as a risk/reward CP dump; it felt like you were making a conscious decision every Rip cycle whether you had enough energy/time to get off the FB and get back up to 5 cp’s to refresh Rip/SR. The mechanic worked well, was pretty forgiving (you could skip FB’s entirely and still have competitive DPS), and offered a way to excel. With the reduction in importance of SR in 4.0, and the buffs to Shred in 4.0.6, all that is gone. Rip is still great, but the options after that are lackluster; Savage Roar is just a buff (which you can put up with any amount of CP’s, no risk/reward choice there) and FB is simply not powerful enough to be worth using, except for Blood in the Water. That doesn’t really add any decision-making; we just swap FB for Rip sub-25%. Rogues have 3 finishers (SnD/Rupture/Envenom(or Evis for combat)) as part of their rotation, and several others for utility. Can we have something like that, please? I’d love to be able to Rip/SR/decide between saving CP’s, FB for a bit more DPS, or pop a Druid version of Recup. Aren’t we the HoT class, anyway? Another interesting idea would be to rework Nurturing Instincts so that the buff to healing spells cast scales with the number of CP’s; so if I sit and try to chaincast heals as Feral, I’m effectively useless, but I can put out an occasional very strong heal. (If LOTP healing has to be nerfed or made Bear-only, do it.)

-For that matter, can we keep our Rip ticking at the same value, even if we shift out? I love losing 10k damage off a Rip tick because I’m rezzing someone. (I assume this behavior is still around, haven’t tested in a while.) Oh yeah, and our 4T11 buff fades when we shift out of form. Awesome.

-For an expansion which was supposed to herald the end of AoE, there’s quite a few boss fights which feature it. Our AoE is extremely weak; enough so to warrant benching on fights which center around add damage (Hi Maloriak!).

-Rip refresh behavior is frustratingly inconsistent. Sometimes I can refresh it; sometimes I can’t. Just treat it like Rake, and let me refresh it when I want, even if I’m refreshing it with less AP. If Atramedes is taking off, I want that Rip up NOW.

-Stampeding Roar is mostly ineffective, in it’s current state. I’d like to see either a range increase, or at least make it a targeted effect (which doesn’t really pass the common sense test, but eh). I’ve had SEVERAL occasions where I want to buff someone’s run speed, but if I’m not right on top of them, why bother?

-Skull Bash is a lot of fun, but has a high cost compared to other classes, and has significant lag. I hate being put on interrupt duty, simply because of the lag thing. (I have combat logs where my client records a successful interrupt, but *surprise* it wasn’t!).

-Primal Madness is still useless. (Yes, you can get a small DPS boost out of it by going to 0 energy and hitting a /cancelaura macro, but that’s ridiculous design.)

-Cower should not be avoidable. (Again, ridiculous design.)

-We still are pretty poor at target switching, since we don’t have a Redirect-type ability.

-For skilled players, our damage is low compared to other classes. (Currently fighting the shamans for last place, if you leave out alternate PvE specs like Arms, BM, sub, frost/arcane.) I don’t mind being at the tail end of the meters…if the tail end is 5-10% below. Right now, we’re at 15-20%.)

-For unskilled players, our damage is low compared to other classes, due to players learning the positional requirements of Shred. We’ve gone ahead and simplified everything else; might as well dump Shred and replace it with Mangle.

So, low AoE damage, low burst damage, low top-end damage, at least we have decent utility, right? Innervate! Battle rez after the shaman pops! Instant-cast roots for adds! (…okay, I’ll stop now.)

PvP

I understand that melee uptime on casters was too high in general (Warriors got similar nerfs to feral druids in terms of mobility). However, I think, the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction. Druid DPS in PvP has always been balanced around having at least a reasonable uptime; if we can’t at least get off a Rip, than we’re functionally useless as a damage class. The damage rebalancing in the patch decreased this uptime requirement somewhat, but it neglected to note one key thing; survivability. We were essentially the “melee glass cannon;” we kept ourselves alive with a combination of relentless pressure (forcing defensive cooldown usage instead of damage cooldowns) and short-range Cyclones. By decreasing our mobility, we lost both of those. If this is the new paradigm, that’s fine, but melee classes either need greater survivability, or ranged classes need damage reductions. I don’t have much more to add; I think the issue has been discussed extensively already.

Communication

While the above stuff is annoying, it’s the communication issue that is the most upsetting. All of these problems have been raised repeatedly on both live and PTR forums, with no response. I’ve seen a lot of discussion about now the new technology enables quicker adjustments (hotfixes) to resolve issues. I’ve seen blue posts on both Warriors and DK’s discussing developer opinion on how the patch affected their classes’ mobility. Equal representation; that’s all we’re asking. Even if the answer is “Sorry, we’ve considered all of these issues and don’t see them as a problem at this time,” it’d be nice to hear SOMETHING.

(okay, /rant. Let me know what you think…I may clean this up a bit and post it in the WoW forums.)

 Posted by at 7:02 pm
Feb 142011
 

Notes from the administration:

  • My CISSP test is Friday, and I feel unready. I’ll be out for the week studying. (If you see me online, tell me to stop slacking.) I’ll still check email/PM’s, so contact me if it’s important.
  • I’m aware that my gear lists need some tweaking for the new stat values; as always, best practice is to download Mew and see for yourself. before asking why item X > item Y. It may for me, but not for you.
  • Haven’t seen any comprehensive feral changes;  the continued lack of communication regarding the feral PvP nerfs and the nonexistence of the promised sockets on crafted agility gear is upsetting…but what you gonna do?
  • NO ONE EXPECTS THE DRUMS OF PANIC! Ring of Frost? Pshaw.
  • Oh, and thanks Lissanna for the shoutout on Wafflecast! Definitely check out the podcast, and subscribe to the blogs of all the contributors; they’re that good.
  • (And hey, if anybody has any blog posts they want to see, let me know.)
 Posted by at 4:46 pm
Feb 102011
 

4.0.6 Trinket Ratings (because people keep asking):

  1. Unheeded Warning, Bastion of Twilight BoE.
  2. Essence of the Cyclone, H Halfus.
  3. Prestor’s Talisman of Machination, H Nefarian.
  4. Fluid Death, 1,650 VP.
  5. Tia’s Grace, H Lost City.
  6. Essence of the Cyclone, Halfus.
  7. Prestor’s Talisman of Machination, Nefarian.
  8. Quicksilver Alchemist Stone Alchemy-only BoP.
  9. Unsolvable Riddle Baradin’s/Hellscream’s Exalted.
  10. (Other heroic blue trinkets)

Strength trinkets are worth about as much as a lower-tier agility trinket. (Stop asking about Heart of Rage, Fury of Angerforge, etc. They’re okay, but not anything you should actually go for.) The order may shift a bit depending on your gear: 1-4 are pretty close, as is 5-9.

New agility VP ring

The Hornet-Sting Band actually went live (Thanks Kallapryy!). This comes in as our 2nd pre-heroic raid BiS ring (unless you got a Mistral Circle with a good stat combo).

Sockets still to be added to agility leather

Nothing official yet, but there’s a tweet on Blizzard’s twitter feed that they are looking to hotfix the sockets in for the leather items that did not receive them. (Thanks Solitha!)

Living Action Potion recipe available again

If you’ve been jonesing for your root-breaks back, this is about as close as it gets: Living Action Potion. (Now works as of 4.0.6, instant root/snare break and 3s of immunity, standard potion CD.)  Sadly, does not work in arenas/rated BG’s. The recipe was no longer available as of Cataclysm (was ZG) but is now sold by Evie Whirlbrew in Winterspring (limited supply, check back). (h/t: Kaliope)

 Posted by at 9:56 am
Feb 092011
 

A collection of observations from last night:

  • DPS hasn’t changed much. I didn’t notice any drastic differences in my overall DPS on bosses last night.  I failed at preparing for the patch, so I still had my 4p PVP gear on (did pop in the Relentless meta though). I totally forgot I was in my hybrid spec and glyphs until halfway through, also. (Which reminds me, I need to redo my talent analysis to figure out which DPS talents are least useful.) I’ll be able to say something relevant when  I can come home and look at my log.
  • Feral’s getting boring. I haven’t played a rogue enough to know how they compare, but just spamming Shreds at 5 CP’s feels wrong. I’d like to see FB get a 10% buff or so to make it a better DPE option than Shred again. At least we still have run out -> Feral Charge/Ravage to keep us interested.
  • No sockets added to crafted leather gear. Because, you know, that gear was great ALREADY. /sarcasm.
  • Unheeded Warning proc + Swipe is ridiculous on trash + adds. I added a timer to track UW’s internal cooldown, and was able to get it to proc right when I started in on Maloriak’s adds. I’ll need to get a log to be sure, but I’m pretty sure I smoked the rest of the raid.
  • Shadowmeld counts as Stealth for Pounce/Ravage. This is freakin cool, and made me glad I stayed ‘nelf.  I need to figure out the DPE of a full-cost Ravage; I suspect it’s not as good as Shred, so I don’t plan on integrating it into a PvE rotation, but it was funny as hell in PvP last night to be able to rePounce. (Of course, then I got killed by the mages, and the hunters, and the locks, and the priests, and…well, I can still kill shamans okay.)
  • Some classes got a significant buff. Our shadow priest was smoking last night, and our pally tank went ret for Atramedes and hit top5 DPS. (Edged me, even. I blame breath kiting.) I think people panic too much over class numbers in general, but I’ll be watching RaidBots with interest for the next couple weeks, as people settle down into the new rotations. I didn’t see any large nerfs, though Survival has definitely dropped a bit.
 Posted by at 3:17 pm