Tuesday, December 28, 2010

[Druid] General comments on GC's recent post

Wanted to handle this separately, since it was a Big Deal over the holidays.

Ghostcrawler recently had a very big update on PvE and PvP balance, and actually mentioned ferals a couple times! I know, I was as shocked as you were. The whole thing is over at MMO-Champ, but the important relevant bits of ferals I've copied.

We’ll make a pass to make stats that aren’t attractive (but are supposed to be) more attractive. For example, we don’t want Assassination rogues to dismiss crit or Feral tanks to dismiss haste. We are considering making some physical attacks such as Lacerate, Steady Shot, and Slam scale with haste.

Okay, that doesn't sound THAT bad. Ferals shouldn't dismiss haste like they do now for the junk stat that it is, and improving lacerate and making it scale with haste sounds good, right?

Kinda. See, right now lacerate is the filler attack for bears. It's what bears do when Mangle's on CD and they have rage, or it's what they do to get Pulverize back up while waiting for berserk procs. This works not because lacerate has an awesome bleed, but because lacerate's threat and damage got boosted on the front. It used to be that the actual lacerate attack was pretty insignificant but the lacerate bleed was awesome; they changed that.

Why did they change that? Well, mostly because (I think) they didn't want bears to be doing thrash and swipe as their 'filler' attacks and only use lacerate for the bleed. They also wanted Pulverize to be less of a threat-negative situation.

Right now, haste could make lacerate dots tick twice as often per % and it still wouldn't be worth it. The bleeds just don't do enough damage or threat and the uptime of lacerate is low enough that it's not worth it anyway. Haste could only really improve how often the lacerate dot ticks; it's not like haste can make us gain more lacerate attacks. Thus, the only real way to make haste work better for ferals is to make the actual dot do more damage.

Which would put bears back in the 'backloaded, slow threat' mode that they were. Except...well, bear threat is almost entirely defined by maul and mangle. Pulverize is done almost entirely to make maul and mangle hit harder. Lacerate should be up on the target to make mauls hit harder. So even if lacerate is boosted, it's still a very small portion of overall threat.

As an example of this, let's say for argument's sake that the lacerate bleed component was a whopping 20% of overall threat for a bear. It isn't that - not even close. And it's not been that, either. 1% haste - 128 haste rating - would improve that bear's threat by .2%. If melee attacks are another 20% of overall damage that makes haste give a whopping .4% threat per 1% haste.

Not that thrilling, I know. And because lacerate bleed crits don't proc savage defense any more, you have the fun times of only improving your savage defense via the white attacks.

So...how do you make haste more attractive to bears? Here's a few ideas I had.

1. Make haste also improve avoidance directly. Have a deep feral talent that allows haste to give avoidance at 50% of dodge rating. Intuitive, easy, no real math. If that's too much, make it at 25% or something.

2. Make lacerate ticks crit at an absurd rate and be able to proc Savage Defense. Then improve them via haste. You'd need to get like an 80% crit rate on lacerate dots to make this matter, but it could really help.

3. Make white attacks have a chance to proc savage defense or some other defensive ability.

4. Nerf maul and mangle and make lacerate better.

5. Make pulverize not consume the lacerate stack. This alone would improve the threat of the bleed greatly.

6. Revamp bears to make rage matter for for survival and less for threat.

Of these, I really want 6 to be the case but it won't happen. The main reason that bears don't care about haste is that they don't care about rage, and they don't care about rage because threat isn't ever as important as survival. I don't think that threat is going to be nerfed hugely (though it might be), so it really comes down to making rage actually matter for a bear. What if a bear had to keep x amount of rage to keep their mitigation higher, by improving their armor? Or a bear took 1% less damage for every 10 rage they had stored? Or if barkskin, survival instincts and even savage defense required rage to use? Then we'd care about haste quite a bit.

But bears aren't rage capped. They're GCD capped. And rage only helps with threat. So...we just don't care.

Onto cats: the other statement in the big post was about druids in general (especially for pvp):
Even after we fixed their mastery, Feral druid bleeds still do a lot of damage and are undispellable. We plan to shift some of that damage back to main attacks. They are also a little too hard to control. Given that they are already hard to root, snare, or polymorph, we think the fear immunity from Berserk is too much.

So the fear immunity from berserk is gone. Oh well. Not hugely missed but it was very nice on a few boss fights, especially as a cat. As to shifting some of the damage from bleeds to main attacks - GOOD. 50-60% of damage coming from bleeds meant ferals were really funky on some fights. When they could establish a bleed rotation or at least establish rake and rip and they could tick for a good long time, ferals could rule. If a feral could get bleeds going on multiple targets at once, they could be good. But on fights where there was a lot of down time or rampup time, ferals kinda sucked. They took a while to get rip up, and often rip wouldn't tick for the duration anyway or couldn't be refreshed properly. Target switching was really lame. Haste, hit, and expertise all were ignored for bleeds since none helped bleeds do more damage once they were applied. It was just a bad move.

Really, I want haste to be better for cats. There are two ways to make that happen - either make bleeds scale with haste like they were going to originally or make bleeds do less overall damage and make white and yellow attacks do more. Note that ferals don't have a lot of yellow attacks to do; shred and mangle are basically it, and you don't want to mangle more than every 30 seconds (if you have t11) anyway. Still, haste making things faster and making more OoC procs, more white damage and more shred damage would be a good thing. It really doesn't have to be much to swing it that way either; simply make bleeds do about 10% less damage and make shreds and white attacks do about 10% more.


Bearmount said...

Between this proposed haste change for lacerate and the 2 piece Tier 11 bonus for bears being 20% more dmg on lacerate ticks... I don't think Blizz really understands yet how they redesigned lacerate.

Don't get me wrong, I can't really complain about a single Cataclysm change, it all seems for the better to me. Dev team just needs to get out and play their druids for a bit and watch recount. I think lacerate dots are like 2% of my total dmg?

Bearmount said...

I'd like to add I like your suggestion about making lacerate ticks proc savage defense again, perhaps not thrash ticks again but I believe lacerate proccing SD could help balance significantly.

One of our weaknesses is AOE tanking since our absorbs get eaten up by a single weak hit. If lacerate ticks could proc SD, the number of SD procs would scale with the number of targets we are attacking. It already sort of does this with swipe and thrash hits, but since all hits are simultaneous it only really makes one SD proc very likely that then gets eaten by a 2k hit. If we could lacerate up a bunch of mobs and get some SD procs, I think we'd be much closer in line to DK and shield tanks that are well suited to tanking lots of little things. Until then I think I'm going to have my DK tank whelps on Halfus next time.

Rauxis said...

ever thought about "haste reduces CDs" like Barkskin?

I'd agree with you - they would have to change a LOT on the mechanics to make haste worthwile

Rauxis, chosen of CAT

Kalon said...

Bearmount - they didn't understand how they designed lacerate. Or more likely, the people that redesigned lacerate weren't the people who designed the gear around it.

If you made Lacerate procs SD, it still has the issue of not proccing enough to get multiple absorbs. This is because it ticks at specific intervals that are essentially limited by the GCD: you can get a proc every 1.5 seconds, period. That's not that special for multiple mobs. Really, I'd like to see the other way: if you get multiple procs of SD it makes the next SD absorption even bigger. Make dodge the way to deal with multiple attackers and make mastery the way to deal with single big hits.

Rauxis - that's an interesting idea. I suspect that it would be broken for bears, however; historically anything that reduced CDS has been very powerful and encounter-defining.

Rauxis said...

not necessarily - if the similar CDs are affected for all classes it's still balanced. It does not even need to be much - say 10% reduction at T14

this would be balanced between tanks, not game breaking - but certainly increasing the value of haste

unfortunately I opted out of Cata so I can't post it :)

Rauxis, chosen of CAT

nats said...

Great commentary, as always.

I'm a bit ticked off at the proposed 'zerk-removes-fear" change -- I feel it's so typical for Blizz to say "ok, this class does too much damage, so let's make them more cc'able." We've had this ability for how many patches now? And they're like "ok, the transmission isn't working as intended, let's change the tires."

Anyway -- I love your idea of haste-as-dodge. I also like the idea of haste regenerating straight up rage (like energy).

Anonymous said...

I think they need to do with haste what they did with spirit for the caster hybrids. Give a talent (or better yet make it part of the choosing feral package) that makes 1 haste = 1 dodge. Then adjust the dodge scaling appropriately so we don't gain a ton of dodge over night.

It makes sense on so many levels really. It has to be done for the same reason it was done on caster leather and mail. There is no reason to drop caster leather with hit on it for one spec, so spirit pulls double duty. There is also no reason to drop leather with dodge on it for one spec, so let haste do double duty. That would make all the stats found on leather useful and not have us reforging to something impossible to find on leather. When a class' best stat doesn't appear on their gear something is wrong with the system.

There is no way to make haste attractive to bears if it remains a threat only stat (and not even a very good one at that) or indirectly buffing defense through increased SD procs. It will just never do enough to be worthwhile that way.

As for the bleed nerfing, I agree that it isn't that bad as long as we are given damage somewhere else to compensate. I think the best option is to increase white damage.

Our white damage is pitifully low which greatly devalues Haste, Hit, and Expertise while our bleeds are too high resulting in overvalued mastery.

If you take damage away from bleeds and give it to white attacks it will bring our stats closer together which seems to be their goal. It also makes the undispelable bleeds less dangerous without making us too bursty in pvp (which was why they moved more damage to bleeds in the first place). It would also reward people for staying on their target instead of bleeding and kiting.

Unglar said...

The first time I saw Pulverise as an ability, I immediately expected to see a glyph that stopped the Lacerate removal, possibly at the expense of the damage proc. While it might not help with haste, in conjunction with one of your suggested 6 changes it might make a difference.