Thursday, February 24, 2011

[General]Site update, general thoughts

I've simply stopped posting much any more. Really, I've simply stopped writing much altogether about WoW.

This is mostly to do with me not raiding any more. Cataclysm hearkens back to the days where heroics were decently hard and raiding was challenging, and while that's awesome and everything I wanted improved, it's not nearly as easy to balance farming, rep grinding, valor point capping, and doing all the other things I like doing while also keeping a schedule of 4 hours where you do nothing else but play.

So raiding is done, at least as a srs bsns raider.

The theorycraft and news side of me has been...well, pretty down too. Part of it is that honestly, Alaron and Yawning were doing such a kickass job that anything I'd add would be largely irrelevant. With them taking up most of what was needed there just haven't been that many topics to discuss.

With them likely to be (or already) taking a hiatus, though, don't expect a lot more from me. The thing is that - and Yawning alluded to it - that feral has left me somewhat cold this expansion. Bears haven't grabbed me like I had hoped the dynamic rotation would have, and while it's not quite as boring as it used to be it's still not feeling like my abilities really...well, do much. And cats...well, I spent a lot of time on Alaron's blog talking about why I'm not really thrilled with ferals, but allow me to quote myself as I think this is the clearest indicator:

If you switched cata and wotlk in order, here are the buffs ferals would get:

-bleeds would be reduced in duration to increase the value of being on the target as well as making the rotation more potent.

Mastery changed to a scaling reduction of the opponents armor.

FB changed to use all available energy and do significantly more damage, buffed by bleeds and bleed modifiers.

Blood in the watermremoved to increase difficulty of rotation.

Swipe buffed by approx. 300%

Savage roar increases all damage instead of just autoattack, increasing it’s performance in the rotation and making the time on target more important

Berserk removes fear.

Shifting forms removes slows and snares

Fury swipes removed; it was not useful to have so much of the rotations damage on a noninteractive autoattack. This has been readers as damage to other abilities.

Instead of some attacks scaling with weapon damage all weapons have a ‘feral ap’ stat, allowing all feral attacks to scale with weapon damage naturally.

And that’s just off the top of my head. Yes, it’s nice to not be bound so much by arpen. Yes, skull bash is nice. The rest has been nerf after nerf, affecting either overall dps or simply the fun involved.

Add to this that ferals are underperforming both overall on DPS and in the melee group aside from one fight (Chimaeron) and you don't have the most compelling experience. At least I haven't. Things are easier, there's less to actually do, and it's not as fun for me. Other ferals differ, and that's awesome. But it's a good reason why I've been so malaise-y.

Then there's the 'we can't have nice things' function of PvP. It's amazing how much I miss removing snares by shifting. This was a really class-defining ability that really, really makes me sad to lose it. I don't pvp, and i don't care that much about pvp balance, so it's doubly sad for me; it's like I can't have nice things because out there, some other cat is thumbing his nose at people. Same thing with zerk removing fear; it's shocking how often I ended up using this in PvE. It's not something that's required, or something that's really awesome. It's just something that is nice, and you miss it when it's gone, and makes the class that much less fun to play.

But anyway, to answer some long-held questions that I seem to get all the time:

On weapon DPS: the weapon DPS is the best stat to 'stack' if you can for ferals; nothing comes close. But weapon speed or weapon damage don't matter in the slightest. All 200 DPS weapons are exactly the same as far as a feral is concerned. This is also why Unheeded Warning became so amazing for ferals.

On warstomp: sadly, it does have a cast time - and that means it can be pushed back on and (more importantly) you can't dodge while doing it. It's still very good for some things, but it's certainly not as great as you'd hope as a bear. It's actually a bit better as a cat, assuming you don't piss off the tank by doing so.

On stam vs. agility as a bear: stamina isn't nearly as awesomesauce as it was. Bears get roughly the same multiplier that other tanks do, so getting more doesn't help. Bears don't get a whole lot of gain from vengeance with that high stamina either; you get far more AP from agility. Most importantly, stamina marks in heroics are fairly small in terms of what you need to survive big hits. Longtime readers will remember that this was also the case for the Naxxramas era, and that didn't survive very long. I don't know whether or not stacking agility will be better in the long run, but if I had to bet on it I'd always bet on harder encounters having bigger hits to stress out everyone.

On capping hit/expertise as a bear: the only reason to do this now is for threat and to a lesser extent, skull bash (which is going away as a reason in 4.1). That being said, threat is kinda sketchy for bears and no other stats are remotely nice.

On capping hit/expertise for a cat: theoretically it is the least important thing to do. Realistically a lot of people have a much easier time with a rotation with high hit and expertise. Ultimately the difference between a hit and exp-capped feral vs a mastery/haste/crit feral is fairly small, so as long as you're stacking agility over everything else you'll be fine.

On the state of dps and ferals - yes, ferals are low. Yes, the simulators and the actual results agree. No, you probably won't see this as an issue if you're not in highly competitive raiding guilds. But statistically and mathematically this is entirely true: ferals are both doing poorly relative to overall DPS and to melee DPS (which is completely getting hosed so far this expansion). Any argument otherwise is essentially baking the numbers in a really quirky way. For instance, looking at the top 10 ferals and seeing that they are performing close to the top 250 overall (on a fight that favors ferals, no less) and thus declaring ferals are doing fine. That being said, it's not hard to fix ferals to be more competitive: give them much better AoE and give them more base damage from either white damage shreds, or make their startup cost a bit cheaper. It's really not that hard to fix and ferals aren't so broken that they require a complete change.

On blue posts and ferals: no, ferals aren't getting a lot of attention. I don't know why either. I do know that it's much, much faster to bring up an actual broken problem to a person who knows a dev than it is to bring it up on the forums. One has a chance of being fixed. Another...almost never does.

I'll still very rarely post, and if you do have something you'd like me to talk about I'll be happy to. Otherwise I wish you the best of luck in Cataclysm. :)


nica@stormscale said...

Interesting way to put it -- reversing Wrath and Cata.

The other thing about the Chim encounter favoring cats-- it is one of the fights where we can FC->Ravage! (with Stampede talented of course) in melee range. Because Rav hits so hard, it really adds up.

The main thing I am getting from reading you, Al, Yawning (I'm still profoundly dismayed that his farewell post was deleted, his cat DPS sticky unstickied and locked, and his account banned), and the dozens of intelligent posts on various forums about the state of feral, is that there is a very profound, fundamental disconnect between Blizzard and their feral-playing customers.

I'm not sure what this means for the future, but the present is bleak -- whether you're an RP player, a multi-season Glad, a hard core raider, or just a casual, a lot of ferals feel like the class is less fun to play, less druidic, for lack of a better term.

And speaking of RP: one of the longest, most eloquent requests aimed at Blizzard regarding the shapeshifting nerf -- it was closer to begging -- came from a feral on an RP server, saying how she found the ability to shift out of roots one of the things that made her identify and love her druid.

And like you, I don't PvP seriously, but I used zerk in PvE-- on the courtyard adds that fear in SFK, for example. Or used shapeshifting to get out of roots when trapped by NPC, such as spiders in Tol Barad.

Is it really worth it to Blizzard to remove a fun, defining ability for the sake of balance? Time will tell.

Sad to see you take a break; glad you, Al, Yawning are speaking up, and I can only hope Blizzard community managers notice the impact all this is having -- long gone seem the days of having gear named after you guys.

Runycat said...

Is it just me, or are many of the ferals we've known and loved deciding to exit stage left? After power-leveling to 85 with my husband immediately after launch, I felt decidedly lukewarm. Easily bored. For the first time, I wasn't even remotely excited to raid and felt incredibly dismayed by my druid - and melee in general.

For awhile, I migrated to a friend's realm and started playing my death knight, but all it amounted to was me stomping around with a ghoul and somehow managing to do a non-challenging 14k in greens.

Ultimately, I just miss my druid. I miss how the game used to feel, and I miss the illusion that Blizzard was really listening to our feedback. Although I quit blogging about WoW what seems to be a long time ago, I finally decided to quit playing the game as well. In fact, I'm going to try out Rift and see if it's any fun.

I hope that you manage to continue eking some measure of enjoyment out of the game, and if you ever decide to pursue other MMO endeavors, let me know. It was nice to see your blog's name pop up in my RSS this evening.

Anonymous said...

Take it easy man.

-Torok (Darkspear)

Bokonon said...

I thank you for putting into words more or less what I've felt lately. I've played feral since TBC, and loved it, for all its warts. However, as of late, I just can't keep the motivation to play the class. Your blog has been most excellent; I wish you all the luck in the world.

- Bokonon, The Underbog

Goodmongo said...

As you know I've been posting over at Fluid Druid and other sites. It really is a shame and even though I quit almost 3 weeks ago I'm still mad about the whole situation.

Good luck to you and have fun in life.

Anonymous said...

Nice to see you post.

Kinda depressing to see so many top feral posters and theorycrafters quit the game or stop posting :(

i been thinking to change my feral to rogue too, as rogue is in much better shape and has a room in 10 mans too and the play style is quite the same.

Anonymous said...

I am mainly healing now. You named all the reasons. Poor kitties.


Beable said...

Thanks for posting this. I figured you had lost interest, but it's good to see something written down.

I agree with you that feral just feels like a bummer at the moment. I haven't played for a few weeks, and will probably cancel. To tell the truth, the nail in the coffin for me was how Blizzard treated Yawning. They have jumped the shark, IMO, and just don't have respect for their players.

Kalon said...

Nica - I can't and don't want to speak for all ferals out there. I know of quite a few that are quite happy with the way things are and are especially happy with Cataclysm. And honestly, people burn out for all sorts of reasons; their favorite toon being nerfed is but one.

One thing that continually bothers me is the general lack of focus or attention to ferals from Blizzard. That doesn't mean what they do is bad or doesn't work, but often it feels like ferals just aren't designed from the ground up; they're patched and painted and fixed up and tweaked to make work for a time, but they'll break down again. Playing two other classes - a hunter and a priest - makes this difference night and day in terms of look and feel.

Ultimately I think that they have slowly but surely started removing a lot of the things that made feral fun for me. It's sad that they've apparently been doing a lot of that for others.

Runy, I think that that's partially because there were just not that many of us to begin with, and those that did continue tended to be fairly hard core players who did really care. I mean, Rawr was designed because it was so hard to perfectly set up the gear that you wanted to balance everything as a bear back in TBC - think about who that kind of tweaking would appeal to, and then think about the state of affairs now.

So much has gotten so much less complicated that ultimately there's just not that much value in being that top. Sure, you can execute your rotation perfectly,but (as you say) a DK in greens will do better 8 times out of 10. And that perfect execution comes down to doing things like not using abilities. Not attacking, not using TF, not using FB.

I think that for a lot of people the reason for playing the druid - the flow (to use the parkour term) went away. Druids were all about movement for me - movement of abilities, of forms, of choices and consequences. I loved that it was hard, and I loved the options that made it hard. And more and more those options are just going away.

Rauxis said...

it's not only the Shapeshift nerf (although this one is double times a slap into the face, by only removing it from Ferals, but leaving it in place for Resto and Boom). Overall Blizz removed a lot of things in Cata that simply were fun. Some examples from my personal hit list:

Class quests (I still remember how awestruck I was when porting first time to Moonglade and speaking to Bear)
Shapeshifting rod from Ashenvale works now only in Ashenvale
permanent treeform
Chatting (I might agree that the limit is necessary for /trade, but it kills chatting overall)
LFD and removal of /lfg channel

Still I admitt I miss WoW, but maybe Rift can cure me

Rauxis, chosen of CAT

Anonymous said...

little trick as far as dealing with roots goes: living action potions, though quite nerfed from their original implementation back in vanilla, will still get you out of roots. it's like having half a trinket, you can save your real pvp trinket for something else like a stun or fear. it's a bandaid but it's better than nothing right?

riiiight? ; ;

Blufyre said...

Most of what I feel has already been said above. I too am busy leveling my rogue, as they seem to still have a fun, working and similar playstyle to that I used to love when playing a Cat.

I do still play my cat a fair bit, and I don't feel the current state of play is disastrous, but as most others have said, basically some of the fun has gone from it.

I have given up playing bear altogether, having tanked all through Vanilla, TBC and WotLK. Just don't enjoy it anymore.

Thanks for the post Kalon, and I'll look forward to the occasional utterance in the future :).

Starpaw or Kilrogg said...

Feral is my only 85 toon. I used to love it, now I was considering leveling up a rogue, but who gets QQed about more than rogues? They'll eventually get the same treatment.

I was about to just get used to it and move on. But then I checked the blue tracker regarding ferals.

Did you know on RIFT there is a class of rogue that tanks in leather?

Maybe it's time to move on, or at least vote with our wallets like we did with the whole realID crap that went on.

Feral Kobold said...

Hey, perhaps you can advise me on some good sources focusing mostly on pve bear theorycrafting and practical tips&hints. Most links I find here have been to cat-sites.

EJ is admittedly good, but the megathreads there grow to silly size and when you have a specific question, finding an answer in 20+ pages is quite hard.

Thanks o/

Anonymous said...


In addition to Kalon's blog I reference "The Inconspicuous Bear", "Eao's Excursions" and "wowbearchat/".

Hope it helps.


PeterD said...

Thanks for the update, just stopped by your blog after more than a years absence from the game. I started playing casually again to check out cata. So far I've been loving it! Its the best content so far. Consisent improvement is a mighty achievement!!!

But, I must say, reading your blog entries made me momentarily depressed again: "oh dear, ferals are broken, its only my naiivity that makes me enjoy it. The theorycrafters know better", I said to myself.

Well, that's just not true :) I think, when people get burned out, they forget Blizzard's prime motivation in the game: entertainment. That means different things to different people, of course. For some, doing theorycraft and proving that blizzard have made great design decisions for their favorite class is all that matters: that's how they define enjoyment. But those people are a tiny minority. I dont think you guys realise how small that minority is, and how little it matters to Blizzard.

Having said all that, I dont think I'll raid again. Its just too much trouble. You're so dependend upon everyone else in your raid for your success: many many times more so than you are upon whether your class is "broken" or not.

Copey said...

The game changed for me quite a lot, in unexpected ways. Making heroics challenging again was one of the reasons I came back. Making people work for gear instead of handing it out like candy with little consideration of skill always bothered me. I power leveled my druid intending to tank for my guilds late evening runs as I had all through Wrath. Once I got up there…I had to wait over a month because some of my best raiders in that time slot just couldn’t get the gear in order to raid. I had enough time to build a full gear set for tanking, healing, and another partial set for dps.

I think the thing bothering me now as I level up my alts is that they are so much more fun. My hunter, who was not nearly as geared as my druid was at 80, just CRUSHES quests. I really like playing him. Same with my DK. The Druid was just a grind, even in a full cat spec/gear. Now, I’m one of the main healers for my raid on my druid (druid healing is also a sore subject), and other than JC daily and some fishing, that’s the only time I log onto him any more.

I’m not sure if I’m disappointed in the game as it stands, or in the people that I thought would be more like me and would be excited for the harder content. Turns out most of them were not like me. I have spent more time recruiting than raiding, and two thirds of all recruits leave because competing for a spot and not just being a loot distribution machine is just too much to ask. It’s sad.