Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Patch 3.0.8 – Feral Druid Perspective

bear badge I spent some time today reviewing the 3.0.8 patch notes. Since it is going live today (YAY!), I thought it might be good to review the parts of this patch that affect Feral Druids.



Armor Changes

The most talked about change in 3.0.8 for feral druids is the so-called “armor nerf”:

Bonus Armor: The mechanics for items with bonus armor on them has changed (any cloth, leather, mail, or plate items with extra armor, or any other items with any armor). Bonus armor beyond the base armor of an item will no longer be multiplied by any talents or by the bonuses of Bear Form, Dire Bear Form, or Frost Presence.

This was something we've known about for a while and I think has much less impact for level 80s than it would have had when we were wearing our level 70 gear, which was heavily stacked with "green" armor values. Most of our current gear doesn't have bonus armor.

The more important part of that change, however, is the "or any other items with any armor" bit. Again, we knew this was coming, but essentially it significantly reduces the total impact that armor has on necklaces, rings, trinkets, cloaks and weapons. This is significant for Bears because pieces where the overall mitigation value was mostly about the armor will now be worth far less than before.

Goodbye Badge of Tenacity and Nerubian Shield Ring and hello Valor Medal of the First War and Titanium Earthguard Ring.

But what about our Armor? Well... they've addressed that with a talent change:

Survival of the Fittest: This talent now grants 22/44/66% bonus armor in Bear Form and Dire Bear Form in addition to all of its previous effects.

The feeling I'm getting at this point is that we will end up with better mitigation after this change. Also it will let us use our non-leather slots to focus on Dodge (up to 50%) and Defense (after 50%) instead of just stacking armor.

Feral Attack Power

Another one that has been getting lots of attention is the changes to how Feral Attack Power (FAP) work:

Feral Attack Power: All weapons now have the potential to grant feral attack power based on their dps (as compared to the best superior-quality weapons available at level 60). Players will see their existing feral weapons grant roughly the same attack power as they did before (+/- 2 or so), but many new weapons will be options for the feral druid. Some feral weapons have had strength converted to attack power to be more appealing to other classes able to equip them. All druids will see the amount of feral attack power granted by an item in the item tooltip, if it grants any, but other players will not see that information.

But there is another little related wrinkle in there…

Polearms: Now trainable by Druids.

Taken together, these are pretty cool. Polearms like Black Ice suddenly move to the top 3 list for feral kitty DPS. Not many others right now compare with that particular polearm, and none of the polearms really do much for tanking, but still... the options are interesting.

I spent some time a couple of weeks ago talking to Astrylian (author or Rawr and contributor on the EJ druid forums and friend of mine). It turns out that the FAP has always been a function of the DPS of the weapon, but what is changing is that now the FAP is automatically calculated.

You've maybe seen screenshots like that show shows FAP on the Titansteel Destroyer or other non-feral pieces. The interesting thing is that a non-druid WOULD NOT SEE THAT LINE in the tooltip.

So where does it come from? Here's the equation:

FAP = (DPS - 54.8) * 14

Since the titansteel Destroyer has 186.5 DPS in the patch, that gives it 1843 FAP. Pretty cool eh? It gets even better. There are now weapons that were basically hunter weapons that are available to us (and vice versa). Any 2H weapon you can equip will now get a FAP tooltip when your playing your Druid.

BTW, Black Ice has 203.7 DPS. That gives 2084 FAP. Since it also has 108 agility and 72 hit rating, you see why it can rate so high on feral DPS.

The potential downside to all this is that we may find Hunters and others classes interested in rolling against us on pieces. I don't think it will be a concern for us, but it does open the pool up a bit.

Other Ability Changes

There are a number of smaller, but still important changes that hit today:

Growl: Range increased to 30 yards

Sounds good. Stack that with Glyph of Growl and you shouldn't have any trouble with runaway mobs in Heroics or that boss transfer on the Four Horsemen event in Naxx.

Primal Tenacity: Now reduces the cost of Bear Form, Cat Form, and Dire Bear Form by 17/33/50% in addition to its previous effects.

Sweet! Since the expansion, we've all noticed that shapeshifting seems to cost more than it did before. Powershifting is way too expensive to even consider. Maybe this will change that... maybe not.

Protector of the Pack: No longer changes value based on party size.

Sounds good to me. Everyone likes Attack Power bonuses right?

Savage Roar: The buff now persists outside of Cat Form but only provides its benefits while in Cat Form.

This may be useful for those times when you need to switch out of Bear for just a few seconds to grab that errant trash mob. Now when you go back to Cat your 5-CP Savage Roar will still be there ticking away.

Swipe: Swipe (Cat) has now been added at level 71, dealing 260% weapon damage, costs 50 energy with no cooldown. All talents affecting the Bear Form version affect the Cat Form one as well.

Finally kitty cats get some AOE damage. Given how the game seems to have become an AOE fest, I'm glad we've not been left out of the fun.

Shadowmeld: This ability will now properly restore threat when it is canceled. In addition, it will correctly remove a player from combat if it is active when that player is the last person left alive that the creature hates. This ability is now also unusable while affected by Faerie Fire.

Bummer. I only just learned about our own little "Vanish" trick and now it is basically gone. Oh well...

Bear Form: This ability will now grant the correct attack power per level for levels 71-80.

Good. Better threat gen for bears... except...

Savage Fury - Mangle (Bear) damage was being increased by a higher percentage than intended. This has been fixed, and in result Mangle (Bear) should see roughly a 16% damage reduction. Also fixed a bug with Savage Fury where the Rake bleed effect was not being increased.

...then we lose some. Net effect? Not sure yet.

Survival Instincts: The extra health from this ability now persists in all forms, but the ability can only be activated in Cat Form, Bear Form, or Dire Bear Form. This prevents the health gain from occurring multiple times if constantly shapeshifting.

Darnit! A cool sploit I didn't know about nerfed before I could even try it.

Profession Changes for Ferals

There are also some changes to professions that are relevant to bears and kitties:

Increased the critical strike rating granted by ranks 5 and 6 of Master of Anatomy.

We might see a few more ferals regretting having dropped skinning now.

A new recipe for [Worg Tartare] is now available for purchase with Dalaran Cooking Awards. This delicacy imbues hit rating and Stamina upon those brave enough to eat it.

If you need hit rating, here is another recipe you might wanna try. No fishing required for this one.

Added a new recipe to enchant bracers with Stamina. You can buy this recipe from Vanessa Sellers in Dalaran.

If you aren't a Leatherworker and are coveting our Fur Lining - Stamina for bracers, this might be worth looking at.

The epic leg armor patches now require a Frozen Orb in addition to their other materials.

Again, the non-Leatherworker ferals will feel this the most as the prices of their leg enchants will go up. Leatherworkers have a self-enchant that is almost free, so we won't care much except that maybe we can make more money selling epic leg armors than we could before.

Other Items and Gear Changes

In addition to profession and ability changes, a short list of gear changes is work commenting on:

Dreamwalker Battlegear: The Rip bonus is now 4 seconds instead of 3.

One more second of Rip for the 2-piece set bonus... hmmm... not bad. Might make me spend some badges on them for my kitty set.

Druid Feral Tier 7 Set: The 4 piece bonus now also decreases the cooldown on Tiger’s Fury by 3 seconds.

More changes to the Feral T7 set bonuses to make kitties more powerful. Cool.

Undocumented Changes

There are always a number of “discovered” or “undocumented” changes. These come from http://www.wowwiki.com/Patch_3.0.8_(undocumented_changes)

Rewards added for [Wintergrasp Mark of Honor]

Some ferals might like the Titan-forged pieces. I'm not sure how viable they'll be in PvE however.

Maim duration has been increased by 1 second. (3/4/5/6/7 seconds)

I always like a boost to abilities. This one won't affect raiding much, but may be useful soloing or in a pinch.

Survival Instincts now temporarily grants you 30% of your current maximum health for 20 sec. (Old - 30% of your maximum health)

This is actually a nerf. On those fights where the debuff from a boss causes a reduction in your maximum health (ala the red beam on Netherspite in Karazhan), your "Oh Crap" button now gives less health back. Bummer.

Thick Hide now increases your armor contribution from cloth and leather items by 4/7/10%. (Old - All items)

This is just more of the "armor bonuses for leather only" change described above. This is goodness and helps make up for the lost armor multiplier on neck, finger, trinket and weapon.

[Darkmoon Card: Death]: Changed to improve critical strike rating by 85 (Old - 85 haste)

That might make it quite interesting for kitty cats.

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