Jun 012010
 

This post incorporates material from the Cataclysm Alpha. If that bothers you, please stop reading now.

A new alpha build dropped a few days ago, and with it, a good chunk of feral changes. Let’s take a look.

Ravage

Unlike Rogues, who have more diversity in openers (Ambush/Garrote/Cheap Shot, all buffable with Premeditation), our opening move choices are Pounce and Ravage. Pounce has some good PvP utility, and putting up a bleed effect is necessary for all our other abilities, but its damage is pretty weak and doesn’t scale well. If the stun’s not useful, it’s probably better just to Rake.

Ravage, like Ambush, is more of a leveling ability; it does decent burst damage when you get it, but it’s unaffected by most talents and is generally useless in max-level PvE content.

…until now. (dum dum dum). Check out these changes:

  • Ravage – Ravage the target, causing 550% damage plus 236.93 to the target. Up from 385% and 165.98.
  • Shredding Attacks: Now reduces the energy cost of Ravage by the same amount as Shred (5/10).
  • Predatory Strikes: Now increases the critical strike chance of your Ravage by 25/50% on targets at or above 90% health, in addition to previous insta-nature spell ability.
  • Imp. Feral Charge: Ravage will not require stealth for 3/6 sec after using FC.

Ravage still has the same disadvantages for PvE that it did previously (doesn’t get raid debuffs on the target), but with IFC, that problem is reduced (6s is more than enough time to apply a stack of FF, Mangle, and Rake). This will definitely give us more burst if needed…but threat could be a problem. :) Needless to say, proper opening of a fight will be a bit more complicated now; run in and start rotation is out.

Interrupts

Remember that we were promised a non-finisher interrupt? It’s here!

  • Skull Bash – 1 Rage/25 Energy, 8 yd range, Instant, 10 sec cooldown. You charge and skull bash the target, interrupting spellcasting and preventing any spell in that school from being cast for 5 sec.

It’s basically Kick, with a bit of extra range. I’m not sure about the range/charge thing actually; I suppose it could be like FC with a min/max distance, but that seems really unwieldy for an interrupt that we’re expected to be able to use on command now. I also dislike the name, but I’ll get over it, I suppose. I like Bonk. :)

Fury Swipes

This new talent is interesting (not sure where in the tree it is right now):

  • Fury Swipes – When you auto-attack while in Cat form or Bear form, you have a 6/12% chance to gain an extra auto-attack on the same target. This effect cannot occur more than once every 6 sec.

Oh, this’ll be fun to model. Basically, this is more on the theme of making the kitty rotation less punishing for less-skilled players; I’d imagine we’ll see the amount of white damage we do (as a %) going up.

Bear Changes

  • Feral Aggression – Reduces the cooldown of Faerie Fire (Bear) by 1/2/3/4/5 sec, and increases the damage caused by your Ferocious Bite by 3/6/9/12/15%.
  • Faerie Fire (Bear) – Rage cost increased to 15. Decreases the armor of the target by 3% for 30 sec. While affected, the target cannot stealth or turn invisible. Stacks up to 3 times. Deals [AP * 0.05 + 1.0] damage and additional threat. (Previously did AP * 0.15)
  • Savage Defense – Each time you deal a critical strike while in Bear Form or Dire Bear Form, you have a 50% chance to gain Savage Defense, reducing the damage taken from the next physical attack that strikes you by 75% of your attack power. (Previously 100% chance for 25% of AP)

Some significant changes here to FFF and SD. FFF’s damage is cut by two-thirds, but you have the option via talents to make it a spammable attack. Very interesting. This reduces FFF’s single-target damage below Swipe, which means either Swipe won’t be spammable without several mobs being on you, or it’s single-target damage will be reduced somehow. (Or maybe Mangle on CD+Lacerate+Pulverize will form the mainstay of the rotation now.) A spammable ranged attack, though, will help a LOT with keeping threat on casters.

SD’s uptime gets cut in half, but its effectiveness triples. Overall, I’d see this as a net buff. For multi-target situations, multiple Swipe crits generally meant you were getting many wasted refreshes anyway. On a boss, you’ll definitely see a reduction in uptime, but face it, a 2k absorption wasn’t really all that significant with 50K+ HP and bosses hitting for 20K. 6K, however, will be very nice. It’ll make damage intake burstier, but that hopefully won’t be as much of a problem for Cata.

Resto/Balance Changes (including the new Tree Form’s abilities!)

Come back tomorrow. :)

May 312010
 

Now that I’m a Kingslayer (aside: it would be great if the title changed to X, Slayer of Kings, after you killed him twice. Or wait, we killed Ymiron in UP, didn’t we? Aren’t we already Kingslayers? /aside), I’m at a bit of a loss to find my next goal. I’ve already decided to cut back on the raiding a bit, and I’ve told my guild as such. Frankly, ICC hard-modes don’t look overly interesting…waltz through the first 6 or so, work a bit on the rest, then wipe on H LK for a few months until we abandon it for Cata. Yay. (Not to mention, my ever-patient wife deserves some couple time.) As such, I’m looking into some more solo pursuits.

My Pre-Cataclysm To-Do List (In Pretentious Case):

In-Game:

  • No more Alliance alts until Cata. :)
  • Level my DK’s blacksmithing/enchanting to 450 (currently 200ish/150ish) This gives me 6 max-level profs for Cata (currently have alch/LW on druid and mining/JC on pally). If I end up transferring my lock over from Cael, I’ll drop his enchanting and pick up herbalism/inscription to go with his tailoring.
  • Get some good badge tank gear for my DK to play around with some instance soloing.
  • Finish out World Explorer on my druid (Loremaster’s probably too much of a stretch). Maybe some other achievements…my achievement lust tends to come and go.
  • Maybe get into Arenas…have a mediocre resto PVP set put together.
  • Level my poor unloved Horde toon (belf mage) to check out Horde-side lore.
  • Have mats on all toons to prepare for the tidal wave of Cataclysm demand. (Which reminds me…guild bank for bank alt would be good, what with the online AH letting you list stuff out of your bank.)

Blog/Forums/Other Out-Of-Game:

  • Keep working on the Ovale code for the feral DPS script. Play around with Simcraft to better set options.
  • Keep posting on feral topics; still have a lot to discuss. Got some hot new alpha info, a discussion on optimum FB usage, tanking in cat gear, and some other things.
  • Clean up the sidebar some, redo blogroll, etc.
  • Get rid of that silly Google Adsense thing. (FWIW, I’ve supposedly made $8.85, in the three months it’s been up, and I need to make $100 before I get a payment. Yay?)
  • Spend some time working on the forum. I know NOTHING about phpBB.

Other:

  • Stop staying up until 3AM playing silly flash games on Kongregate. (Curse you Elements! And you too, Zubon, for leading me to it.)
 Posted by at 11:58 pm
May 282010
 

Finally. :) 20% really swung it for us…check this out:

One-shot.

Seriously. (Holy crap, I am so stoked right now.)

No deaths leading into P3.

I got to kill the Spirit Warden inside Frostmourne.

I even got to play Hero Bear…we’d lost a few ranged, and at about 15%, three Vile Spirits started heading towards melee, and I went bear, popped everything (SI/Barkskin/Enrage) and took em all out. Unfortunately, there were actually 4, not 3. Oops. (EDIT: Wow…I didn’t realize, but our MT had gone down due to a missed Harvest Soul, and I took a LK melee hit as well after the second spirit!)

AWESOME!

 Posted by at 12:29 am
May 252010
 

Successfully soloed Molten Core over the weekend; going to start working on some Northrend 5-mans, as I tried Magtheridon and got smacked down pretty good. Unfortunately, bear isn’t even close to Pallies or DK’s for solo ability; not enough self-healing. All I have is Imp. LOTP and Survival Instincts-boosted Frenzied Regen every 3 minutes.  My strategy’s pretty simple- I basically rely on gobs of avoidance and Savage Defense for most bosses, and kitty DPS with Predatory Strikes insta-heals + HoTs boosted by Nurturing Instinct for certain encounters. I’m going to start gearing my DK for solo tanking, I think. Something to do, while we struggle to make numbers to work on LK some more.

(Has anyone had problems with DBM not resetting properly? Occasionally after a LK wipe, I lose all my DBM timers/functionality. Sucks for Defile.)

 Posted by at 10:39 am
May 242010
 

As I promised in an earlier post, I’ve rewritten Furion/Leaf’s Ovale script to bring it more up-to-date. I’ve posted it in my forum here. Please provide any feedback either in comments or on the forum post. Info below. I’ll be posting it to EJ in a few days, but existing readers get the first shot. :)

# Version History
# v1.0:
# Full verification of action list against Simcraft.
# Corrected TF condition. Loosened Berserk condition (slight deviation from SC).
# Prioritized Rip/Mangle. Removed Manglebot option, no point anymore with 60s duration.
# Added options for OOC icon and Shred on OOC proc.
# Hopefully fixed bug with Rake being recommended even though it’s already on target.
# Added user-selectable logic for No FB/Few FB’s/Many FB’s. Default is no FB’s which is best for most players.
# (FB logic still needs some testing)
# Rewrote several lines to track Simcraft closer, to make user-editing easier.
# Added a few lines to catch bad situations (energy-cap, energy pooling while Rip is down).
 Posted by at 1:39 pm
May 202010
 

MMO-Champion’s got the loot list from Ruby Sanctum up, and there’s some good feral pieces there. Let’s take a look.

271 Neck Melee.DPS Neck Penumbra Pendant
271 Finger Phys.DPS Finger Signet of Twilight
271 Trinket Phys.DPS Trinket Sharpened Twilight Scale
271 Trinket Tanking Trinket Petrified Twilight Scale
258 Leather Phys.DPS Chest Gloaming Sark

EDIT: Changed links to wowhead since mmo-champ tooltips aren’t working on my site for some reason.

The big prize from RS-25 for feral DPS is the Sharpened Scale trinket. The massive chunk of ArPen makes it superior to any other trinket in the game, save Heroic DBW, and the ability to have two ArPen trinkets will make reaching the ArPen hardcap much easier. The Signet ring is very nice as well, and should be your choice for your 2nd ring slot (after your Exalted ICC repring), unless you have the Frostbrood Sapphire. (Heroic Frostbrood is clearly superior; normal is a tossup.) Finally, the Penumbra Pendant is decent, but it’s a strength item, so let your plate DPS have first dibs on it. If you’ve had bad luck on neck drops for some reason, it’s about equal to an ICC-10 neck. (Or you could just buy a Wodin’s, if you have the gold to spare.)

For bears, the Petrified Scale tank trinket is very nice as well, but it depends on your personal preference–it’s basically an upgraded Glyph of Indominability, with the same issues. Great mitigation trinket, but no extra HP to swallow burst.  I’d still prefer 2 of Organ/Fang/Key for progression, I think. Come Cataclysm, though, when healer HPS will be more limited, the ability of armor trinkets to reduce DTPS will be much more important. I could see this trinket lasting you until 85, easily.

Unfortunately, there’s not much from RS-10. (Yet another argument for gear equalization.) The loot list may still grow a bit. The Gloaming Sark is pretty terrible for feral DPS, but it’s an excellent tanking piece if you don’t have the badges for Shadowseeker’s or the cash for Ikfirus. There’s a strength ring, also, but it’s pretty bad. (The 245 EoT ring is better.)

We successfully got to Phase 3 once on LK25 with nobody dead on Tuesday, so high hopes for tonight. We’ve successfully kicked the Defile bug, happily. :) More to come on Simcraft/Ovale next week.

 Posted by at 3:41 pm
May 192010
 

This post incorporates publicly available leaked material from the Cataclysm Alpha. If that bothers you, please stop reading now.

A new version of the Alpha was pushed on 17 May with an updated feral tree, and information about the changes has already leaked. Allison’s latest Shifting Perspectives has covered some of the changes already, but here’s my take.

Tier 1:

Sharpened Claws: Increases the damage caused by your Claw, Rake, Mangle (Cat), Mangle (Bear), and Maul abilities by 10%/20%. (Previously Tier 3: increases your critical strike chance by 2%/4%/6%.) Renamed version of Savage Fury, a Tier 2 talent with the same description.

Ferocity: Unchanged.

Feral Aggression: Unchanged.

Tier 2:

Savage Fury: Removed. (Moved to Tier 1, renamed Sharpened Claws.)

Thick Hide: Removed. (Previously increased your Armor contribution from cloth and leather items by 4%/7%/10%.)

Feral Instinct: Unchanged.

Shredding Attacks: Reduces the energy cost of your Shred ability by 5/10 and the cost of your Lacerate by 1/2. (Previously Tier 4: Reduces the energy cost of your Shred ability by 9/18 and the rage cost of your Lacerate ability by 1/2.)

Endless Carnage[NYI]: Increases the duration of your Rake by 3/6 sec and your Savage Roar by 4/8 sec. (New talent.)

Tier 3:

Feral Swiftness: Unchanged.

Predatory Instincts: Moved here from Tier 8, unchanged otherwise.

Feral Charge: Moved here from Tier 5, unchanged otherwise.

Improved Feral Charge[NYI]: Increases the damage done by your next 3 attacks by 5/10% in Bear Form after you use Feral Charge (Bear), and Ravage will temporarily not require stealth for 3/6 sec after you use Feral Charge (Cat). (New talent.)

Tier 4:

Nurturing Instinct: Moved here from Tier 5, unchanged otherwise.

Predatory Strikes: Attack power boost removed. Finishing moves retain their 7%/13%/20% chance per combo point to proc an instant Nature spell. (Previously: Increases your melee attack power in Cat, Bear and Dire Bear Forms by 50%/100%/150% of your level and 7%/13%/20% of any attack power on your equipped weapon.)

Primal Fury: Unchanged.

Primal Precision: Removed. (Previously: Increases your expertise by 5/10, and you are refunded 40%/80% of the energy cost of a finishing move if it fails to land.)

Tier 5:

Brutal Impact: Unchanged.

Heart of the Wild: Moved here from Tier 6, unchanged otherwise.

Survival Instincts: Moved here from Tier 3, unchanged otherwise.

Tier 6:

Survival of the Fittest: Unchanged.

Natural Reaction: Removed.

Tier 7:

King of the Jungle: Moved here from Tier 9, unchanged otherwise.

Leader of the Pack: Unchanged.

Improved Leader of the Pack: Unchanged.

Primal Tenacity: Reduces the duration of fear effects by 10%/20%/30% and reduces all damage taken while stunned by 5%/10%/15% while in Cat Form. (Previously reduced damage taken while stunned by 10%/20%/30%.)

Tier 8:

Protector of the Pack: Unchanged.

Infected Wounds: Your Shred, Maul, and Mangle attacks cause an Infected Wound in the target. The Infected Wound reduces the movement speed of the target by 25%/50% and the attack speed by 10%/20%. Lasts 12 sec. (Previously reduced movement speed by 16%/34%/50% and attack speed by 7%/14%/20%.)

Tier 9:

Primal Madness[NYI]: Tiger’s Fury and Beserk also increases your maximum energy by 10/20 during its duration, and your Enrage and Berserk abilities instantly generates 6/12 rage. (New talent.)

Mangle: Unchanged.

Improved Mangle: Unchanged.

Tier 10:

Nom Nom Nom[NYI]: When you Ferocious Bite a target at or below 25%, you have a 50/100% chance to instantly refresh the duration of your Rip on the target. (New talent.)

Rend and Tear: Unchanged.

Pulverize: 15 rage. Instant. Melee Range. Requires Dire Bear Form.  Deals 252 bleed damage for each of your Lacerate applications on the target, and increases your total attack power by 2% for each Lacerate stack consumed. Lasts 10 sec.

Tier 11:

Berserk: Unchanged.

Misc info: Shred base energycost is now 50 (talented 40.) Maul base rage cost is 10 (talented 5), consumes an extra 5 rage for each 20 rage you have. (So, 1-20 rage, Maul costs 5, 21-40, Maul costs 10, etc.)

Definitely some interesting new talents  here. As Blizzard has previously stated, they like testing new talents via set bonuses, and apparently all our good ones made it in. :) Endless Carnage is a mashup of our Tier 8 4P and our Tier 9 2P, but better. I wouldn’t be surprised to see either the talent or Rake nerfed…upping a 9s DoT to 15s is pretty strong for a Tier 2 talent. Imp. Feral Charge is pretty interesting, but I see it as mostly a leveling/burst talent more than anything else. Ravage will hit harder than Shred, certainly, but not by enough to warrant major rotational changes.  I’d have to look to figure out its DPE…I haven’t used it in ages.

Primal Madness is pretty meh. Good ferals never energy cap to begin with, so having a higher top-end isn’t a big deal (though it makes using TF/Berserk easier, sure). Finally, Nom Nom Nom (best name ever) is huge. Rolling Rips and constant FBs! Sweet! (Of course, this means our regular damage will get a nerf to compensate. Bleh.)

Have some Balance/Resto info as well, but I’ll leave that for now. One tidbit: Innervate is now based on the caster’s max mana pool, not base. Goodbye feral Innervates. :(

 Posted by at 12:58 pm
May 182010
 

I’m working on a post detailing how Simulationcraft is, by far, your best friend when optimizing your rotation/gear for specific encounters. In the meantime, here’s a sneak preview of my current optimal priority list, given my current gear. It looks complicated…and it is, sorry, can’t sugarcoat it really, but just read from the top down and go line-by-line. (Yay for superfluous advice.) This may not be optimal for everyone; some will want to FB more (high ArPen folks), some less (ICC 10). More FB’s = less Rip/Rake uptime. This list assumes you never clip DoTs.

1. Feral Faerie Fire, if FF/FFF down.
2. Tiger’s Fury, if available. (Energy below 30.)
3. Berserk, if available. (Energy between 80 and 90.)
4. If SR is down, immediately SR with any CP.
5. Shred on Omen of Clarity proc.
6. Rip if you have 5 CP’s.
7. Mangle if Mangle debuff is down.
8. Fun one: If there is less then 9 seconds on SR and Rip will expire 3 seconds or less before SR, refresh SR if you have 3 or more CP’s. (Desyncs timers to give you time to rebuild CP’s to reapply Rip with little downtime. I’m still playing with the logic on this one to determine an optimal setting. If you relax the SR remaining condition or the sync condition, you’ll refresh SR more often, which leads to better Rip uptime but wasted CP’s and thus less FB’s.)
9. FB with 5 CP’s if Rip and SR have at least 12 seconds remaining or target will die in 5 seconds or less. (Another place to mess with timers to balance FB/Rip.)
10. If Rip has less than 4 seconds and you haven’t Shredded 3 times yet (Glyph of Shred), Shred, unless SR will expire within 3 seconds.
11. Rake.
12. Shred, if less than 4 CP’s or Rip has more than 1 second left, AND if Rake has more than 1 second left, AND if energy is greater then 80, or TF is within 3s of going off cooldown, or you’re berserked.
13. Shred if target will die within 10 seconds, or you have 0 CP’s and SR is about to expire/expired.
14. Otherwise wait to regain energy.

I’ll be rewriting an Ovale script to incorporate this logic, when I have the chance. I’ve posted the Simulationcraft actionlist in the forums if people would like to modify it for their own toon.

 Posted by at 12:21 am
May 162010
 

This post incorporates material from the Cataclysm Alpha. If that bothers you, please stop reading now.

Every sign points to there being a HUGE gear reset for Cata. Check this combat rating table out: (gathered by Whitetooth, author of the Ratingbuster addon, so pretty credible)

60 70 80 81 82 83 84 85
melee hit 10 15.769 32.79 46.696 66.499 94.701 134.862 192.056
spell hit 8 12.615 26.232 37.357 53.199 75.76 107.89 153.645
crit 14 22.077 45.906 65.374 93.099 132.581 188.807 268.878
haste 10 15.769 32.79 46.696 66.499 94.701 134.862 192.056

Source: http://elitistjerks.com/f15/t29453-combat_ratings_level_80_a/p22/#post1639830

I’ll be talking about this more later, but yes, that’s 269 crit and 192 melee hit per 1%. Wow. If these ratings remain (and the penalties for attacking higher level mobs remain the same) then we’re looking at 1500ish hit for hitcap. My guess is that actually capping a stat will be exceedingly rare (which is in line with previous blue posts) With the ratings going stratospheric from 80-85, I could see DPS actually declining over those levels. I don’t think that’s Blizzard‘s plan: they never want you to feel like you’re losing power, but they did want to rein in the rate of growth. In order to keep DPS relatively constant from 80-85, we’re going to need a lot of secondary stats on our gear.

Need more proof? How about the blue announcement that Dense Embersilk Bandages will heal 34,800 HP over 8s? Either bandages are going to be totally OP, or we’re looking at a dramatic increase in HP. (For comparison, Heavy Frostweave was 5,800 HP over 8 seconds.) Even accepting that dense bandages are a third tier of bandage not found in WOTLK, that’s still a significant bump. My guess is that they’re going to increase the amount of HP from +stam, probably to something like 20HP (instead of 10HP now). No clue as to actual numbers, but I’d say tanks at about 90K HP after the patch, with DPS around 60K, equalized between armor classes. At the end of Cata, tanks will be up to the 150K mark, with DPS at 100K or so.

For ferals, we’ll be back to the days of much slower CP generation, which eliminates FB from our rotations (yay) and decreases bleed uptime (boo). With our third mastery bonus being Bleed Damage increases, we may be in a spot where we have to look at other than 5-CP rips to maximize uptime. (Yes, this is handwavy.) Either way, ArPen stacking is dead. Of course, the whole archeology thing could change that up…hoping to see some more on that soon. As I’ve previously mentioned, I think movement is going to play a large role in Cata ( just like…Defile…oh god…), so we”ll be looking at a lot more focus on getting DoTs up quickly.

By the way, thanks to everyone who commented on my LK frustration post. The day after I posted that, the wow.com topic of the day was about people being stuck on LK…so I know we’re not alone. That’s the hidden downside of rolling a lockout, I suppose, especially if you get stuck in the same place. This reminds me a bit of Maly in my old guild, where we were consistently stuck on phase 3…it SUCKS to grind out the first few phases every time, to repeatedly die in P3. WoW needs a skip-forward button sometimes…a “hey, we’ve mastered this section, can we start the fight in P3?”

 Posted by at 6:04 pm
May 132010
 

It’s been almost a week since my last post. Obviously, I’ve been exceptionally uninspired to write. Why? Well, our guild has been wiping to the Defile boss/Infest boss on LK25 for the past few weeks now (been on him for a month this week), and I feel very powerless to affect the outcome. I’ve consistently been top3 in DPS on LK, I’ve gotten off my Maims on Valks when called…and that’s about it. I don’t know what else I can do. I feel like we’re missing something obvious when I see guilds one-shotting it, and we’ve seen phase 3 ONCE…but I really don’t know what to change. I’ve usually blogged on subjects that related to my current interest (hey, let’s be a feral tank! hey, let’s gear feral DPS!)…and right now, there’s not much in WoW to draw me. I haven’t touched my druid in a week. Once we get LK down, I’ll be taking a break for a while, I think.

Sorry for a bit of a downer post…but I’m trying to write something to break the writer’s block, so please bear with me. :) Apparently, my notification of new posts on the forum broke also, so if you’ve posted there in the past two weeks, I’m off to go read those over now. :P

 Posted by at 2:31 pm