Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Doubling down on my last post

Today, Yawning got bored and quit. Not a HUGE surprise.

He posted this message on the official forums.  Note it's about six paragraphs of "I cleaned house before I quit, had lots of fun, I love all you guys".  And one paragraph contains the following:

As much fun as it has been treating a video game like a gigantic math problem, the fun math is done and what's left isn't all that fun anymore. Raid content is currently uninspired, my beloved spec is plagued by quality of life issues and lackluster performance in PvE, and PvP viability is non-existent. Attempts at providing constructive feedback have been a consistent exercise in frustration.

Aaaaand banhammer.  All his posts deleted, including the entire cat DPS FAQ sticky.

Yawning has been a pillar of the feral community for years.  He took over Toskk's calc, he developed his own simulation program, he posted incredibly useful info on the forums, took over the FAQ when I dropped, he was a virtual one-man advocate for feral DPS in Cata beta, and his work advanced feral theorycrafting by amounts only even possibly matched by Tangedyn, Toskk, and Astrylian.

And instead of taking two fucking minutes to consider what one of the foremost druids in the entire game has to say, he gets moderated with an H-bomb.  Not one iota of consideration for all his prior help - he wasn't even as abrasive doing it as I was! - or work.  Just... bye.  And this is after banhammering Ri (who does almost as much work for feral tanking) for posting a waffle recipe in response to a REAL troll.  What. The. Fuck.

Blizzard are REALLY not making a convincing case for me to resubscribe to the game.  They drove me off with the shapeshift nerf, but they're sealing the deal by being huge jerks to people who contribute immeasurably towards the success of their game.
I'm thinking we should all take the time to mail a nice ASCII finger to with "For the treatment of Yawning" in the subject.  Or, you know, just tell them calmly and reasonably that they're being cockfaced wankers.

I might even start skipping future Blizzard titles now.  If you can't treat your community right anymore, what right do you have to success?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Well, never mind

In December, for those who didn't see me on the forums, I came back to the game for a month, re-leveled 1-80 (which was a VASTLY improved experience from, heh, 1.6...), had some fun with the cata trial, and let it lapse with the intention of returning when I finally build a new PC.

But no more.


  • Shapeshifts: Entering or leaving a shapeshift no longer cancels root effects. It continues to cancel movement slowing effects.

Yeah, I didn't cancel after the Big Bear Nerf because of the lacerate hotfix. I suffered through the initial suck and the later nerfs in Wrath and felt smugly superior when Blizzard had to finally admit we were right. But this change? I'm not coming back to the game until it's reverted. Period.

Dear Blizzard:

That is all.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Cataclysm Talent Preview!

Something like an actual level 85 talent tree finally got posted, so let's go over it quickly.  More posts coming as I consider ramifications, hack them into toskk's calc, or whatever else.

Tier 1
Sharpened Claws - Currently called Savage Fury and living in tier 2, otherwise unchanged.
Ferocity, Feral Aggression - Unchanged.  However, Feral Aggression will likely become a required raiding talent due to changes further down the tree.

Tier 2
Shredding Attacks - Uh oh.  Only reduces cost of Shred by 10 - 50 energy instead of 42, unless the base cost gets reduced.  This is kind of worrying for our current playstyle; Shred currently barely stays ahead of Mangle DPE-wise, even propped up massively by bonuses and glyphs.  I'm watching this space closely to see how it plays out.

Tier 3
Improved Feral Charge - Kind of a weird mechanic.  Increases damage after using Bear charge, and allows use of Ravage without stealth after Cat charge.  This one's going to require some actual testing - depending on how it works, it could actually be a DPS increase to run out, go bear, and charge every 15 seconds.  I'm hoping not, it's bad enough keeping all the other balls in the air without that headache.  I strongly doubt it'll be worth using Ravage, uh, well, ever, unless they significantly buff its damage over current levels.

Tier 4
Fury Swipes - 4/8/12% chance for an extra autoattack, 6s ICD.  Kind of a sword spec clone.  Given an 3k average for autoattacks on a raid boss, that's a MAX of  500 DPS (which wouldn't be bad at all for 3 points), but given probability, there's still a 10% chance you could go 12-13 seconds after the ICD expires without a proc.  So you'll see between 6 and 20 seconds between procs, putting the actual DPS increase at possibly 250-300ish?  Ballpark.  Need to hack it into Toskk's sometime.

Tier 5
Predatory Strikes - FAP scaling removed, now increases Ravage's crit chance if target is over 90%, and still grants instant Nature spells.  This has become, as far as I can see, a pure PVP talent now - that is to say, it looks mostly worthless for PVE.

Tier 6
Endless Carnage - Increases duration of Rake, Roar, and Pulverize by 3/6 seconds.  Well, I wasn't far wrong about getting 2T9 baseline - it's talented, AND better.  Hot.  Roar duration increase isn't bad but is probably fairly minimal in terms of DPS increase, except at the opening 1-2 point level.  May help with constantly clashing timers - it's something I'd need to test out.
Survival of the Fittest - No longer grants stats, is now a tanking-only talent basically.

Tier 8
Primal Madness - Tiger's Fury and Berserk increase max energy by 12.  This is really absolutely minimal - I'd ALMOST venture worthless.  It might buy an extra Shred under Berserk if everything's used cleverly.  Otherwise, I can barely even see the point.

Tier 9
Nom Nom Nom - I've been talking about this for a long time, but they've actually done it.  Unfortunately, it's not as well-implemented as I was hoping - it's only active under 25%.  Better than nothing, but oh how I wish it was active full-time.

Pulverize - Bear-only talent

In all... It's OK.  We'll see.  More tomorrow, got to run now.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010



Real post soon.  Promise.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

A piece of sky / Broke off and fell

The dust has settled in the Druid Preview thread (read: Ghostcrawler finally got tired of being yelled at for changing tree form to a Metamorphosis-like cooldown) - here are the high points that concern feral.  All, uh, two of them or so, because good god did those trees get whiny and monopolize the conversation.

Right into my soup, KERPLOP!
We may be getting haste/crit on Rip and Rake after all.

Most hots and dots, including druid ones, will benefit from haste and crit. The exceptions are things like Deep Wounds and Ignite, which are already tied to crit.

This might just apply to Resto and Balance.  I could understand if it did - it could EASILY make haste into our super-stat in the next expansion, if it not only affected autoattack, energy regen, and OOC, but rip and rake ticks as well.  That would be rather disgusting actually.

I really must state / That I usually hate
Lentil soup, but I ate / Every drop!
On the subject of cats keeping combo points on dead targets for the purpose of refreshing Roar, like Rogues will be able to to refresh S&D:

It will most likely apply to cats as well.

I don't normally get TOO bent-out-of-shape over perceived "unfairness" towards ferals, but in this case, all I can say is:  "It damn well better".  This was as I expected in my post yesterday though.

Delicious delicious / (A bit like plaster)
Interesting tidbit:

It won't be super low level, but we might switch the levels at which you get cat and bear.

This would be a win for the 10-20 grind, for sure.  It'd be zomgawesome, actually.
BUT, it would suck for running Ragefire Chasm/Deadmines/Wailing Caverns - not having bear form until 20 would lock us into DPSing, when Warriors (who get Defensive Stance at 10) and Paladins (Righteous Fury at 16) can start queuing as tanks pretty much as soon as they hit the level requirement.  They don't need to train mail armour or shields, and their bonus threat abilities are right there, not tied to an entire form.  I see them perhaps dropping bear to 16 to match paladins in that case.

On that note, we'd better get a cat form quest if they swap the levels.  It'd be weird to train cat at 10 and then have to do a quest for bear later.

Of course that means they'll just drop the bear form quest...

But so delicious, goodness sake
Finally, something substantial on feral DPS:

 The recent Mangle change is a good example. Other candidates include letting Rake last longer, changing Mangle's damage such that it's not such a gigantic dps loss not to Shred, and / or changing the bonus of Savage Roar so that it's not such a crippling dps loss if it falls off. Using Savage Roar after a target with cps on it has died will help too.

We still want the John Madden crowd to be able to try and maximize their dps. We just want players not playing at that level to not be so far behind (though behind is fine).

So basically, we might be getting 2T9 or 2T8 baseline (and I really enjoyed both of those set bonuses - 2T9 more when it aligned mangle and rake so you always hit them back-to-back, but whatever).  I'm also pleased that I predicted his savage roar comment in yesterday's post.  Maybe GC reads my blog?  Haha riiiight.

Changing mangle's damage though - not going to work.  I'm repeating myself here, but the recent glyph change that leaves them 500 DPS shy of a full JOHN FUCKING MADDEN druid is plenty - much more than that, and there just won't be enough incentive to use shred.  It HAS to do more damage to make up for requiring TWO debuffs AND position.  The PVE differential is fine as is - PVP, the problem can be alleviated in other ways.  One suggestion on the forums I really liked was just having Berserk remove the positional requirement of Shred while it's up, providing the requisite burst damage even when your target has its back to a wall or ledge.

I could have eaten a lentil-soup lake
So that was all the extra Cat cat info that GC came out with in between dodging molotov cocktails lobbed by crying trees.  I feel kind of a little gypped that resto almost completely monopolized the conversation, with barely any follow-ups for feral and basically nothing but one comment on Eclipse for poor Balance.  No confirmation on haste/crit affecting bleeds, no word on better target-switching except for the expected combo point change, but at least he acknowledges that they're trying to keep the JFM ferals happy as well as the casuals.

It's amazing the difference / A bit of sky can make
In sum..


The druid preview leaves a lot more questions than answers for cats.

Haste affecting energy regeneration is an interesting mechanic (but we knew it was coming a long time ago) - the main question is how MUCH, as it could very EASILY become our number one stackable stat.  Right now even only affecting white damage and OOC procs, it's very close to strength and agility in ICC gear, and only really loses badly to ArP - a stat that's going away in 4.0.  If nothing else changes, for the month or so between 4.0 and Cataclysm's launch, we could well be raiding ICC gemmed for full haste.  This will have to wait for a blue post or beta before we can start really theorycrafting it, and I'm sure this is a value that will be tweaked significantly, even after Cataclysm goes live.

Buffing Mangle "significantly" is the only potential sky-is-falling change announced in this preview, and I'm not sure they will actually go through with it.  The reason is, as I pointed out in my first real post here even, Mangle damage is not all that bad.  For being "easier" than using Shred, all you give up even at the sharp end of raiding is something like 500 DPS out of the 10k you're doing.  In PVP the gap is even smaller because you can't be guaranteed to be able to use Shred.  They say they want to do this so that ferals will not be at a significant disadvantage if they can't shred, but that's the entire POINT of a directional requirement ON shred - the extra damage is a reward for dealing with the extra difficulty involved in using it.  If there was no reward, there would be no reason to press the button.

The only time when mangle is currently at a really significant disadvantage to shred is if you're trying to burst someone in a couple of globals, and then you're doing around 25% less damage per GCD, which could maybe let them live, and that's a distinct arena problem (and even then, arenas in Cataclysm will feature larger hit pools, and more armor mitigation on squishy classes - bursting someone in 3 globals will still probably happen, but it won't be such a major part of strategy).  A buff to Mangle damage will essentially make it an equal choice with Shred in PVE, and then people just won't bother with Shred anymore - and helloooooo faceroll rotation!  Not going to fly at ALL with most dedicated DPS ferals.  Mangle buff isn't the solution - I'm not sure what IS yet, but I'm pretty certain that this ISN'T.

Promises promises
The final change affecting cat DPS is whatever other method of making it "less punishing" if you screw up has yet to be announced.  It's a lot of hand-waving right now - they're making promises but won't reveal details just yet.  They might just reduce the amount of damage that SR accounts for and then buff base damage across the board - so you're still using roar, but it sucks less if you drop it.  Or they might have another ability refresh Roar (make it Bite!  Please!  And get rid of the "execute" mechanic!).  Or they might make Roar last longer, or they might make Rake last longer, or who knows.  The idea seems to be to keep the same number of buttons (yay), but make it easier to keep all the balls in the air (somewhere between "eh", "meh", and "boo" - I require details before I panic).

Getting a real interrupt is a mixed blessing.  Yes, it's GREAT for PVP, and it makes us more useful in small-group content when there's an interrupt requirement (if anyone remembers trying to do Romulo and Julienne without a rogue or warrior?  Or Vezax10?  Oof).  On the downside, it makes us useful when there's an interrupt requirement.  Now instead of happily pewpewing away for Vezax25 or Reliquary of Souls, we'd have to actually earn our keep - and run the risk of wiping the raid if we screw up.  While we're already trying to balance our rotation.  [Desk] hits [Forehead] for 10,000 damage (Critical)

Stampeding Roar will be a fun toy, charging around with the melee group.  It's actually quite a good raid DPS increaser on a fight like Putricide.  And it will make people CRY in Warsong Gulch.  CRY I tell you.  I can't WAIT for the whiny neckbeard videos to pop up on Youtube.

Whoah man, do you see that?  Trippy, man
Depending on the numbers, we might actually end up using Wild Mushroom.  We might end up popping it on AOE groups after running out of energy swipespamming, or dump it on a boss right before combat starts, or just pop it whenever we have to run out since it's an instant cast.  Will have to see how much it hits for untalented to figure out if it's worth dropping the couple of autoattacks that would be lost.

No, I'm not cribbing off Yawning in this section
So there we go.  One big unknown, a few small ones, and some neat tidbits.  It's not catastrophic (yet), it's not super-exciting (yet), and there are a LOT of unanswered questions.  Some stuff I'm looking forward to finding out over the coming months:
How will weapon scaling work?  Will Rip/Rake/Bite scale with weapon damage, or will they just have higher AP coefficients?  Will our attack speed change with different weapons?  Will Predatory Strikes still increase weapon damage by ~15%?
Will 4T10 (rake crits) just go away, or will that become baseline or a talent?  A lot of classes are getting DOT ticks affected by crit and haste baseline, although I'm fairly sure we won't be getting any further haste benefits...  If we don't keep it, a LOT of ferals will probably be wearing 4T10 deep into tier 11 raids - it'll be tier 4 in Sunwell and tier 6 in Naxxramas all over again.  If we DO keep it, how will they fix us the next time we fail to scale?
What are they doing for our ramp-up time?  Rogues are not only getting to use CPs on dead targets to maintain S&D (I have to assume that we'll get access to this mechanic as well), but they're getting a cooldown that basically lets them take their CPs with them on a switch.  We not only have CPs, we have TWO debuffs that need to be present, and a quarter to a third of our damage comes from a 5-CP finisher that takes 22 seconds to tick off.  This doesn't add up to happy fun times on multiple minion-style targets.

So.  We'll see.  But stop @#$%ing flooding the forum with QQ, it's way too early to get upset over ANYTHING here.
And if we keep the bonus, how will they fix us the NEXT time we fail to scale?

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Hunter loot!

Threads on the forums arguing over whether a ferals should get melee weapon priorities over hunter are fairly common. One popped up recently that got more involved and ran longer than most.

I'll state up front my answer to this question, but that's not really what's at issue here. I'm going to be mostly discussing weapon scaling. My answer, and indeed the ONLY answer to this question, is a simple one:
If hunters receive priority over rogues and warriors for ranged weapons: YES.
If nobody receives priority:  No

That's all there is to that issue in my book.

But people got to talking about situations in which they'd pass, and discussing for whom the weapon would be a bigger upgrade.  Time for MATH.

Fap fap fap
It's well known that feral scales well with weapons (and practically nothing else).  Predatory Strikes for any other class would read "increases the damage of your melee weapon by 5/10/15%", and in fact it scales better and better the further our weapons get from their base 54.8 DPS.  Go back to our old standby Terestian's Stranglestaff (a weapon I love dearly and still have banked), it's a 10% weapon damage increase.  A Heroic Oathbinder, the difference is close to 17%.  And then raid buffs actually affect our weapon DPS as well.  Take a Distant Land, the most common weapon used by raiding ferals right now.  It's 294.6 DPS base, but apply Predatory Strikes, Heart of the Wild, and whichever flavour of the 10% AP raid buff you have, and you've turned it into a 403 DPS monster.  That's 37% more DPS than base - and this is scaling that's mostly unavailable to other classes.  A warrior's 294 DPS weapon doesn't change in base damage because you have an enhancement shaman in the raid.

Then ALL of our damage also scales with this weapon damage, because everything's based on AP.  Rip?  30% of your weapon damage.  Rake?  18% of it.  FB?  35% (the rogue analog, Eviscerate, also gets 35% AP as best I can tell from their spreadsheets, but none of the actual weapon damage).  Of course, all of this ends up coming at the cost of not scaling well with any other gear.  That's the price we pay for FAP - and that's a whole other post that I promise to write one day.  But what are the actual numbers?

I got splinters in these paws!
Well, for this as usual I turn to Rawr and Toskk's.  I ran a couple profiles in Rawr - the best-in-slot pre-raid set, and my own raid gear.  Between an Orca-Hunter's Harpoon and a Distant Land, in full raid buffs, for the pre-raid set, the difference was around 900 DPS, depending on whether I reoptimized the sets around the two weapons (from available pre-raid gear) or not.  For my own profile, the difference was 1080 DPS.

Holy crap.

Of course, hunters on the forums wouldn't believe it, so I verified with Toskk's calc, and ran some dummy tests to confirm the results.  Each test was 5 minutes (apply FFF, stop when it drops), two berserk cycles, alone, self-buffed.  I sadly don't have a 232 weapon anymore, having vendored my very boring-looking Lotrafen some months ago, but I kept my cooler-looking Journey's End (226) and Twin's Pact (245), so I used those.  Imagine that an Orca-Hunter's will fall in between the two.  Here are my numbers:

Journey's End, Toskk's predicts DPS = 6382.2101, Rawr predicts 6523
Actual DPS: 5772 (90% of Toskk's prediction)

Twin's Pact, prediction: DPS = 6752.1063 (+370), Rawr: 6915 (+392)
Actual DPS: 6224 (92% of Toskk's) (+452)

Distant Land, prediction: DPS = 7188.2147 (+806, +436), Rawr: 7365 (+842, +450)
Actual DPS: 6880 (95% of Toskk's)  (+1108, +656)

A little RNG variation, and I re-did a couple runs because of mistakes, bad streaks, or very good ones.  But it shows that the INCREASES the calculators predicted were, if anything, lowballs, unless I just had a particularly bad RNG spread between the runs - each subsequent run favoured over the previous.  Even controlling for my deviation from the original run's 90% of prediction, I end up with the second run at +442, and the third at +1050.

The competition
So what does a hunter get from a melee weapon, anyway?  Let's find out.
I imported our top hunter DPS, who's in pretty comparable gear to myself, into Rawr, but their prime theorycrafting tool - their version of Toskk's - is, so I gave that a try too. 

Both reported that Distant Land was about an 850 DPS upgrade.

... over an EMPTY SLOT.

Assuming you have a feral druid upgrading from, say, a 245 Twin's Pact to a 264 Distant Land, to be an approximately equal DPS upgrade for a survival hunter, the hunter would have to be rocking Lightning Giant Staff.  No, that's not a mistake.  That's for srs.

No, DRUID loot
The blindingly obvious conclusion from the two simulators and the test runs is simple.  If you do item priority in your guild based on largest upgrade, every single hunter gets to wait for every druid to grab a weapon, even if the ilevel gap is enormous.  No question, no arguments, the difference is ridiculous.

As I said up front, if your guild doesn't award priority on anything, then anything goes.  Mine doesn't, and I had to dump an unholy ton of points on my Distant Land, but that's cool - I knew I would have to, and I'd been saving them.  And so should you, if you can't be guaranteed priority, because as you can see, there is absolutely no single piece of gear that will grant you even one third of the DPS increase that you'll get from a single raid tier's worth of weapon upgrade.