Feb 242011

So I got a TON of comments on my “state of feral” post (75ish, at last count) and 80% of them are focusing on one thing- where ferals are on the meters. I’d like to clarify a bit.

  • Feral is not “broken.” Obviously, this depends on how you define “broken.” Several commenters have pointed out that “I’m always in the top X for DPS in my guild’s raids” and “I haven’t seen any problems.” Well, yeah. I’m pulling top5 DPS for my decidedly non-hardcore guild as well. Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure I’m a better player than they are, which makes comparisons like these somewhat less valid. (Protip: If you read blogs about WoW, then you are probably a better player than average.)  Feral DPS can complete all normal-mode content and pull competitive numbers; or, from a PvP perspective, can hit high ratings, so I don’t think they’re “broken.” For 90% of people, that’s all that matters. (90% is roughly the number of raiders that have not completed any heroic raid content to date, according to GuildOx.)
  • Feral is currently weak in PvE, compared to other classes. How did I come to that conclusion? Well, first we need a method to fairly compare class DPS. Happily, the community has created several resources for us to draw information from. The one most commonly used is the World of Logs DPS rankings. While this tool was created purely as an online scoreboard competition, it stores the top 200 results for each spec. This is enough information to allow us to compare spec for spec in similar situations. Several second-order tools, such as State of DPS and Raidbots (Hi Seri!) have been created to parse this information into fancy graphs that we can argue about. :) Now, several valid criticisms have been made about how well this dataset applies to the problem; unfortunately, it’s the best tool we have for comparative purposes, and I don’t think any of the criticisms substantially devalue the comparison. Looking at both parsing sites, we’re very low on the overall numbers. Of course, overall numbers don’t tell the whole story; let’s look at specific fights. (Note that when I compare classes, I assume that top players will switch to the best DPS spec available to their class and gear; so I only count the top DPS spec for every class except shamans and druids, which I count individually.)
    • Pure Single-Target DPS: Very Poor. Looking at Argaloth (I think it’s safe to say that the top 200 are moving to stay behind him at this point), ferals are the lowest class. The difference isn’t that pronounced for single-target, though; assuming MM comes back to the pack a little bit after the recent nerf, I’d say feral is about 5-10% behind the top class. (What about Chimaeron? Well, I’m of the opinion that Chimaeron numbers are untrustworthy. Top DPS’ers will be the first to die in the burn phase, which skews their numbers downward.)
    • Two-Target DPS: Poor. It’s hard to find a fight that has just two targets without other things going on; Valiona/Theralion and Twilight Council are the closest. We are the second lowest spec on VT (just ahead of ele) and third-lowest spec on TAC (just ahead of ele and ret). Admittedly, most melee has troubles with TAC, but we’re significantly behind the ones with decent ranged ability; unholy and enhance.
    • Burst AOE: Poor to Average. Looking at normal-mode Maloriak, we beat out three specs (ele/enh/ret) and are very close to fury. That’s not bad, but that’s the closest to the top we’ve got.
    • Sustained AOE: Very Poor. Heroic-mode Maloriak features an extra phase with nothing but AOE. Ferals come in 11 of 12, just ahead of enhance.
      (If you think I need to look at a certain fight besides these, let me know.)
  • Feral is currently underrepresented in PvP, compared to other classes. Since we don’t have performance data for arena teams, the best we can do is look at the top-rated teams and see how many have ferals on them. Unfortunately, I don’t know of an automated tool that does this (anyone else know?) Looking at AJ numbers for the top 100 3v3 teams, roughly 40 of them have druids. Of those 40, all of them are Resto/X. Most have second resto or boomkin offspecs; maybe 3 or 4 have feral offspecs. None are logged out in feral PvP gear, as far as I can tell.

Feel free to comment. I’m having a very long and difficult week, so I’m not participating as much as I would be normally.

 Posted by at 12:48 am

  34 Responses to ““The sky is falling!””No, the sky is stable!””

  1. While i find most all of this to be true i dont think it likely for us to see a buff anytime soon, the only way i can see blizzard feasibly buffing druids is ferocious bite, and even then thats going to cause more pvp’ers to whine about our burst so it will be shortlived if we do see it.

    I wouldnt be as upset if balance wasnt just as far down as feral in simcraft(albeit much better at aoe fights and much more viable for heroic content.)

    I’ve found that im still able to stay feral for all of the heroic content that I’ve cleared to date (4/12) the only stretch that I’ve had is maloriak and tab ripping seemed to put me in a good enough situation to warrant not sitting or respeccing.

    About the only upside to there being a feral present for heroic raids is that i’m able to offtank certain add’s and maintain consistantly decent/good dps during burn phases for fights like halfus where i can tank the first drake and 3 stacks or so of the healing debuff if necessary. Or tanking onyxia in p1 of nef until adds go down so we dont lose a dps to kiting.

    As for pvp, I never considered 3’s to be our best bracket, i always had better luck in 2’s/5’s as feral and 3’s as resto. It may have just been my arena partners though.

  2. “(Note that when I compare classes, I assume that top players will switch to the best DPS spec available to their class and gear; so I only count the top DPS spec for every class except shamans and druids, which I count individually.)”

    Aha! That’s what I was missing. Now I get it.

    And now I’m a sadder kitty than I was.

    @Bearybonds… Balance may be down with feral in simcraft, but the numbers actually being parsed would tend to indicate that’s not matching up with reality. Balance is up there amongst the top 3 DPS classes. Ferals and Ele shaman are dragging along at the rear.

    Alaron, did you ever post what you were thinking about to the official forums, or not? I thought it was pretty well written.. another druid thread that was well-written was responded to, but 2/3 of the points were about bears.

  3. Alaron,
    Thank you for this post as it confirms all I am seeing in our current raiding progression in our verry casual guild.

    Me (feral dps) and our Ele Shammy currently top damage meters in our normal 10 man raids but we do not see a significant buff to our damage with increasingly better gear. (We scale verry bad). This showed clearly on our Argaloth fight last night.
    Top 5 overall damage for our typical raid night would be:
    Hunter SS
    Shaman Ele
    Druid Feral
    Our damage all lies close to eachother but where in the past I could top the overall charts I now can only hope to be 2nd or third at best.

    I fully support your notion that with the current state of ferals they have taken the tools away from the skilled player to perform on par with other dps classes.

    I have been toying with the idea to drop my herobear spec for a boomchick but I still like being a feral druid.

    Goodluck with your deployment and if you ever are stationed at Chievres or nato in Belgium, let me know I’ll give you a tour of the country and let you know where are the best spots to have a superbowl party.

  4. Just one last moany from me.

    We see Ferals (even melee in general) struggling against ranged currently…

    …don’t worry, they will soon be introducing a caster legendary to close the gap…oh hang on…

  5. Im starting to think blizz dont want kitty to be good so we would change to tanking.

    I would be pretty happy if they buffed our aoe atleast, but there is other problems too. I really hate that shred is only for behind. This wouldnt be a problem but on suprisingly many fights you just cant go behind and do dmg. This is not a problem on normal modes but on heroics it feels like someone else would be much better for those fights (al’akir hc comes to mind for example)

  6. In my opinion, our weakness is the dependency of shred.
    Many boss fight mechanics don’t let us hit 100% behind boss, and we loose too many dps hitting with mangle.
    Anyway our dps is good, i’m pulling 19k in our normal 10 man raids.

  7. I love how the blue post in the link above just says everything is fine with ferals.

    It doesn’t change the fact we are scaling horribly (first raids i’m blowing everyone out the water, now I’m lucky if the S priest isn’t 3k above me).

    AE tanking as feral is horrible no matter how much they say thrash is good, it will barely hold threat off the healer who has to spam heal me because my sd can only mitigate one attack per proc.

    I have been feral since the first day I played, I turned into a Boomkin for the first time ever last week. Never had the honor of being a tree.

    I used to love the fact that being feral used to mean you were resepected as the hardest class to play and can top the meters if you know how to do it.

    Now people see feral and go “oh your feral? that sucks”

    I agree with Alaron on every single point he’s made. And I just don’t understand how blizzard doesn’t see the issues here. As gear gets better we are going to get worse and worse.

    FYI. Boomkin is kind of fun. And kind of challenging. (almost like feral used to be)

    • To be fair, that thread was about 2/3 about bears and 1/3 about PvP cats.

      I’m personally not having a lot of trouble with AoE tanking unless the DPS isn’t staying on correct targets.

      I’m also one of my guild’s lowest-geared tanks, and one of the easier ones to heal. With such differing results I don’t think it’s an inherent bear problem.

      However, I only brought up that thread to show that Blues are responding to well-written posts. I’d like to see if Alaron could get that kind of response.

  8. One last point On the dps comparisons, most of the people hitting the top 200 as feral are lucky enough to have Dark Intent…which by my reckoning is a good 1500 or so dps increase. Since we don’t command this buff regularly, it’s just the lucky few who are buffed up enough to be poor vs other classes on the meters. God only knows what that makes the rest of us.

    • Sorry man I don’t buy it. I have reached several top 10 finishes for feral and have never had dark intent. I once hit top 5 for Conclave when I only had the 346 spear. There was only one other feral on the list with out the 372 weapon at the time (he was #10).

      • Conclave is not a good indicator of dps for many reasons.

        But yeah, most ferals do not have DI on the top logs. I have 3 on normal Al’Akir without it and only one of the two above me had it.

      • Tinderhoof, are you just talking about DPS rankings within singular raid groups? If so, that’s not really any kind of valid data.

  9. well said.

    keep up the good fight.

  10. To be honest i think Jacemora sums it up well.


    If you are going on raids and having fun + bosses die then we canna complain overly. But still i just think its our turn in the nerf bin so that blizz can make us all happy come the next patch!

    • The evidence is pretty clear that ferals are messed up. Some want to sugar coat it but that doesn’t invalidate the facts. I’m tired of getting a reach around while getting rammed and having to accept this.

      Instead of greasing up and bending over for what Blizz is doing we need to all complain even more. 4.1 is in the works and if we start manning up and complaining just maybe blizz will recind their stupid changes.

      We get stampeding roar (utterly worthless) and an interrupt and they say that we got tons of new utility so our damage and mobility was nerfered to the ground.

      • I read that post even the other one made slightly after. Both posts were completely worthless. If you want to look at feral PVE competitiveness through beer goggles it’s worth the read.

        However, the issue with blog-spheres like that one is the OP’s play on such a small level they fail to see the big picture which is very clear in the first couple paragraphs of his anti-qq post.

        DPS communities aren’t build over the thoughts of people clearing normal content with their buddies. The nerf and buffs happen from analyzes of top tier raiding and pvp bracketed feral druids. Of course in a casual 10m setting everything seems and looks fine, but honestly who cares. Sites like elitestjerks, mmo-champion, arenajunkies, and even my fav fluiddruid ;) weren’t created with the casual fun time raider in mind.

    • “If you are raiding with a guild like that, you are in the wrong place. Trust me, I am not the only lucky kitty to be in a good guild having success progression raiding.”

      Jacemora is, essentially, telling us to be happy being carried. I don’t particularly want to be carried.

  11. Sorry you’re having a bad week, Alaron. The last discussion was really good.

    Having established that things aren’t great, I’d like to talk about how to make things better and what the pain points are. It’s clear to me that the biggest issue is AoE damage; on any fight where there is a repeated need to do damage to adds, ferals are at or close to the bottom. (bursty damage doesn’t count here, nor does target switching to one big add for a while). They’ve said that they’re going to look into balancing aoe, so here’s hoping that helps.

    The second is not great single target DPS, especially with phase changes. The latter has been a weakness for ferals for a long time – since they were revamped in Wotlk – and I don’t think it’ll go away any time soon. Making FB better won’t fix it; it’ll increase damage on fights like Chim, but not otherwise. The biggest issue is that bleeds take time to build up and most everything works around building up bleeds; mangle, shred (improves rip duration), CPs (improves rip), etc.

    Ultimately in the worst case scenario it takes a mangle, 4 CP-generating attacks and a rip to get ferals up to doing normal damage rates. Given that this is 180 energy or so, this requires either TF to be up (likely) or about 7 seconds of time. Before that, ferals will be doing subpar damage.

    One option is to cause something else to apply the mangle debuff, possibly with a glyph.

    Another option is to add more CPs via talents; for instance, giving mangle two CPs when mangle isn’t on the target, or giving mangle a 30% chance to apply another CP. That might be too strong if FB is boosted, though.

    The option that I like most is a bit more radical, but it’s shown that it works; replace primal madness with a talent that gives ferals a 20 energy pool and gives TF a 80-energy boost – and make sure that energy is replenishing at the 20% haste rate (so that regenning 120 energy takes 10 seconds). This would allow much faster opening and application and pooling of energy. The disadvantage – the ‘we can’t have nice things’ part – is that this would likely be too strong for PvP without some balancing to rip or nerfing of FB. But I’m okay with FB being some silly ability that just gets used in PvP, even if it’s annoying.

    For tanking, it’s clear that scaling is an issue and aoe is an issue. It’s funny; survivability wise druids are in great shape, but threat wise they’re pretty weak. I think that simply boosting swipe or (more likely) boosting maul’s second hit would help quite a bit there. Don’t boost maul’s primary damage, but make the glyph of maul do 100% damage instead of 50%. That will help tremendously when dealing with 3-4 adds, which is where the problem lies.

    • I’ll talk a bit about my reactions to 3.1 and the blue post about feral in a new post. That said, I’d like to see FB get a small buff, just to make it a viable PvE finisher again (>25%). I’d also like to see some way to speed initial CP generation. Rogue Redirect >>> Savage Roar on a corpse.

      And yeah, something about AOE.

  12. Im levelling my warrior…will miss feral but its not what it was, either in terms of competitive damage OR enjoyable playstyle.

  13. also, on Argaloth – the primary reason ferals are low is because most of the time they’re forced to spend a good chunk of their time mangling. That sucks hard.

    Chim is a better comparison. And it’s quite reasonable; it has a ton of time on target, almost no movement, always has stabbing from behind and doesn’t have a lot of utility requirements other than tranq. That one makes sense to me. If all fights were like Chim – no adds, stationary target, no phase shiftings, no startup time – ferals would likely be in a pretty good place.

    • This is the only one I’ll disagree with you on. I spot-checked several of the top200 feral Arga logs, and none had any significant Mangle damage. (If you want to make the argument that the pool of rankings is diluted because many of the top ferals know it’s easy-mode and just mangle anyway, I’ll accept that. I don’t think it’s a large factor.)

      I’d be interested in hearing a counter-argument to my suggestion that Chim isn’t a good example for comparison (for melee) because the top dps’ers go splat and lose some DPS time. (At least, I always do.)

  14. kal is right, first of all argaloth is 50% of the time mangle spam, which also means you are attacking from the front and having the issues of parry and other downsides that your’e not meant to have if you’re doing it right. find a better example.

  15. That blue post severely pissed me off.

    What does he mean by SLIGHTLY easier to control?
    We can use our trinket, or a Living action potion, after that we got nothing.

  16. […] With these patch notes coming on the heels of Yawning and Alaron leaving the game and stating how dissatisfied they are with the state of feral dps, the changes that have been revealed so far are….. somewhat under-whelming.  The changes […]

  17. This expansion has been brutal for all melee, but worse for ferals. Being on a PVP server: Beserk and shifting out of roots, etc are crucial. Being able to defend yourself on a gank happy server is a necessity. These abilities added something to PVE play as well. This all feels like BC again. The bad part of BC for ferals.

    The post by Qbear about how it is for casual raiders is spot on. Even in guild heroics I see tanks taking the same classes for dps:warlock, mage and hunter. Same thing happens in raids. Melee is being phased out.

    Blizz’s goal of taking the player not the class is simply not my reality. I don’t think Jacemora meant that ferals should be carried. We are contributing our little hearts out. I think he has an ideal 10 man which is hard to find.

    And the best Blizzard can come up with is “talk nicer to us”?

  18. If you are EU based, I have posted some thoughts here

    http://eu.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic … ?page=1#11

    Whilst it may be an exercise in futility, please feel free to lend your ideas, support.

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