Monday, September 13, 2010

[Cat] Cataclysm cats part 2: the case for mastery

This is the second article in the series, following up from the basic one. Today we're going to talk about mastery - and what mastery does for a cat.

Upon gaining mastery, Feral Combat specs get 8 points of mastery, which increases your bleed damage by 20%. Not bad - this would be (if on live) about a 3% DPS upgrade. Each point of mastery - which is similar to points of expertise - increases all bleed damage you do by 2.5%.

At level 82 it takes 79.15 points of mastery rating to get one point of mastery skill. This is the same value that it takes to get 1% crit from rating as well, so mastery and crit are likely equallly valued as far as gems and itemization goes. Which makes crit rating a very good comparison, overall, in terms of value.

For crit rating, since all dots can crit and all attacks can crit (up to the glancing blow cap) we have almost a pure 1% DPS upgrade per 1% crit. It's actually better than that due to how the meta works (gives 3% more crit damage), whether or not the 10% more crit damage boost is baked into the spec or not, and the addition of extra combo points on crits. But let's just assume that 1% crit only increases overall damage by 1%.

What would it take to have mastery do the same thing?

Well, simple math says that as long as bleeds are doing about 40% of your total damage, each mastery skill point will increase your DPS by 1%.

That's not how much bleeds currently do, on live. And for various reasons, that's certainly not how much damage they do in the beta, either. But that can be fixed.

In live, assuming you have a fairly good rotation and a reasonably static fight, bleeds account for about 30% of your total damage assuming 4pT10 and a high-armor pen build. (I'm basing that on my performances on Saurfang, which is a fairly good gauge of a basic single-target fight). On beta, there are a couple problems that cause this to be even worse:
  • Savage Roar was changed to only improve autoattacks - which nerfed all bleed damage and all other yellow damage by 30%. This hasn't been baked back into the yellow damage, and as a result bleeds do less.
  • While autoattack, mangle and shred are based now on weapon DPS, rip and rake are based only on AP. With the removal of Feral AP, this results in about a 30% reduction in those damage sources as well.
  • The glyphs had not been particularly well-optimized for bleed damage until recently. Both rip and shred increase rip duration, but with dot clipping gone from cataclysm duration of bleeds is not nearly as important. The new glyph of rip increases rip damage by 15%, which will help this, but shred is still suboptimal (especially since it...sigh...doesn't help with the horribly newly named talent Feast of Flesh)
Now, all of these things can be improved. And I expect some of them to be improved a great deal; rip and rake can't only scale on AP forever, for instance, and glyphs will get a serious overhaul. At the same time, other abilities will get buffed too. And while it would be an interesting way to go, it's hard for me to imagine that two bleeds will do 40% of overall damage for ferals. It's possible - but I think it's unlikely. It's more likely to me that they'll buff mastery so that it's a bit more inline with the other skill points.

In any case - my recommendation for the beta right now is to either ignore mastery or largely avoid it. I'd like it to improve; it would be very boring if the new skill we can get is basically meh. But we'll see.


Alaron said...

Pure gut feeling here, but I'd imagine that autoattack damage will go up, bleed damage (Rake/Rip) will stay relatively constant, and direct damage will go down. It was pretty balanced in ICC with one-third of the damage coming from each source (heroic gear/25 buffs made ArP and direct damage more valuable, relatively speaking), but I wouldn't be surprised to see autoattack around 50%, bleeds around 30%, and direct damage around 20% (with adjustments for high-mobility fights).

Jacemora said...

I need to update my site... but yeah, I tested swapping to all new gear for the Mastery and had to start switching some things back. Basically I left on gear with big Haste, Agility, Crit, and enough Hit for fighting Level 84 mobs while I am level 83.

Went back to my ICC staff, ICC trinkets... kept on enough new blues and greens to have decent stamina since casters mobs are still doing silly damage.

quixilva said...

Overall blizzard have left themselves a really messy balancing job with the introduction of the mastery stat.

Someone should report mastery not boosting Shred damage as a bug.

The fact that melee DoTs won't scale with haste will also bring down the value of mastery, as the bleeds will get comparatively weaker as you get better gear otherwise (although perhaps that is the intent, which would be weak as it isn't a limitation of a lot of other masteries)

Unlike many DPS masteries, it also doesn't really affect ae damage. Ferals are one of the few specs that have strong DoTs that can't easily apply them in an ae situation.

Helistar said...

I think that the feral abilities which don't scale with weapon DPS are a bug. Otherwise with improving gear they'll be left in the dust by all the other attacks.

The state of feral right now is pitiful: I am at 3.5k dps on a dummy, self-buffed, at lv84 with a mix of ICC and quest gear.

BTW crit is also very important for CP generation. Going from 80 to 84 has cut my crit in half, and it really hurts. FB is almost impossible to place in the rotation right now.

Another point why mastery sucks is the change that makes haste only affect energy regen and not dot tick speed: as haste goes up, this skews the damage more and more towards direct attacks: if shred is not buffed by mastery, mastery will slide into oblivion (again, if mastery does not affect shred, for me it's a bug).

Doug said...

Haste not affecting bleed DoTs in the current beta scheme throws a huge wrench in your last two blog posts. Out of your control of course and very sad at the same time as the haste/mastery interaction looked promising.

The change devalues both haste and mastery. Maybe not in the first tier or so of raiding but by the end game of Cata, if haste doesn't affect bleeds both stats will be extremely devalued.

Th worst part is that they have have an amplifying effect on the rate that the stat gets devalued.

As haste will start to affect less of overall damage at the same rate as mastery. DPS will focus on Shred and FB as gear improves unless they really blast up the rate at which mastery boosts bleeds.

Even then haste will be only about energy regen and otherwise have no effect on DPS yet we will likely be able to push crit to boost PF procs.

Hello FB turning into Envenom with out the side bonus of poison damage.

Rake will turn into a joke and just be used to buff Shred as it is cheaper and duration buffed via EC. Rip will be applied when getting into Nom Nom Nom territory for free execute range DPS as we will be FBing more anyway.

O wait Nom Nom Nom died...

Regardless, time and time again it has been the case that specs that don't scale effectively off all DPS stats tend to fall by the wayside as tiers of an xpac come out.

fr0d0b0ls0n said...

I think that in beta the Rip glyph is +15% rip damage, not +4 seconds. I'll confirm it later.

Anonymous said...

My previous experience trying to follow Blizzard's methodology of druid (and rogue) class development prior to a major release has proven to be such a roller coaster ride that I'm glad folks like you do all the work and summarize it cleanly for us!

Kalon said...

Alaron - I liked the prior balance too, and while it weighted a bit too much in favor of direct attacks vs bleeds it wasn't so horribly unbalanced. But it's hard to say one way or another until they do a numbers pass or something.

quixliva - it's an interesting point that with haste not scaling DoTs, the feral mastery is obviously hurt. Especially since more energy doesn't really help DoT damage either; that directly favors shreds.

Helistar, thanks for coming by. I'll be looking at the CP generation a bit more in the crit rating post coming up, but yeah - my conclusions are that FB is basically out for a while until more crit is gained and the rotation is very tight.

Doug, I do agree that haste not favoring bleeds hurts haste, but I don't think haste is going to be that bad or even suboptimal. Haste still will boost the (likely) biggest source of damage (melee swings), it will give you more energy which will increase shreds and give more CPs, and it will provide more OoC procs. Are these things more or less valuable than crit rating or straight agi? It's hard to say at this point, but haste does have the benefit of scaling nicely with crit/agi well. Mastery...doesn't.

Frod, I mentioned that in the article. The earlier glyphs are bad. The new glyph of rip is pretty good, but it's still hard to say how good it is without knowing how hard rip is supposed to hit.

Anon, thanks :)

Rahl said...

Hi Kalon,

Good to see a couple of good posts from you. It seems to me that bliz are trying to take a little of the "John Madden" out of the kitty rotation. At the moment there is a huge gulf between a bad kitty and a good one (let alone a great one).

The move to increasing Physical damage rather than bleed seems to support this.

I think that the difference between the good and bad kitties in Cata will be how well we manage our bleeds. The only difference being that the gap will be allot closer.

To me that seems a shame as it makes me proud that i can play a tricky class and do great damage at the same time.

I think as we reach higher tiers in cata we will get plenty of mastery on our gear (they cant add a new stat and not push it to everyone can they?) along with the other usual stuff and that will make the difference in our bleed damage and hopefully help.

quix - I tend to disagree with the messy balancing job. they can easily play with the numbers to make sure that we balance well. With less damage coming from bleeds and improvements to white dmg they can easily buff dots to help us along.