Is it in Blizzard's best interest to lower feral skill cap?

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Polihayse
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Is it in Blizzard's best interest to lower feral skill cap?

Post by Polihayse » Mon Apr 25, 2016 5:18 am

To start, the points I'm about to make aren't connected to my opinions about the current state of feral. That said, I do believe that feral's skill cap is lower than it used to be. I suspect that it would be in Blizzard's best interest to lower the skill cap and I'll explain why.

Lowering the skill cap means that there is a smaller gap dpswise between an average player and an above average player. For example, the average player might do 60k dps in the same situation as a above average player who does 80k. In this example, if the skill cap of the spec is lowered, the average player might do 70k dps while the above average player does 80k dps. This would put the average player and the above average player in the same ballpark, and the average player would be able to achieve more than they would with a higher skill cap.

Lowering the skill cap would also blur the line that divides the casual and hardcore community. Blurring this line will allow the average player to progress further into content that he wouldn't otherwise see.

A lower skill cap also means that gear upgrades contribute more to boosting your dps. A 700 ilvl above average player may do the dps of a 710 ilvl average player. With a lower skill cap, the above average player may need to be 705 ilvl before he can match the damage of the 710 player. The dps you deal wouldn't depend on the player as much as it depends on the gear they have.

When Blizzard removed trinket snapshotting from the game a large number of above average players were annoyed by this. Trinket snapshotting was a fun way to maximize your dps and make yourself stand out among the people who don't do this. Above average players tend to be pretty dedicated to the game though. It's how they got to be above average. They aren't likely to quit over the removal of small complexity elements when it is done at long time intervals.

To sum it up, lowering the skill cap should help Blizzard to retain more subscriptions from the casual playerbase with low risk of losing subscriptions from the hardcore playerbase. This just seems like the natural path that the game is taking, and feral seems to have been hit pretty hard by this process(e.g. t18 set bonuses and class trinket). Any thoughts?

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Re: Is it in Blizzard's best interest to lower feral skill c

Post by Cantor (Shredable) » Mon Apr 25, 2016 3:41 pm

Personally it's not something that I would like to see - I enjoy Feral because it's hard to play and has those little nuances. I can't pick up any other class and feel like I'm really pushing myself, because there's not as much in the rotations to distinguish the good players from the great ones. I can see the reasoning - easier spec = more people play it = possibly good outcome for the spec as a whole; however, I don't think it hurts at all to have one or two specs that are there for the top-level players and require a bit more thought to them.

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Re: Is it in Blizzard's best interest to lower feral skill c

Post by Polihayse » Mon Apr 25, 2016 5:06 pm

Cantor (Shredable) wrote:Personally it's not something that I would like to see - I enjoy Feral because it's hard to play and has those little nuances. I can't pick up any other class and feel like I'm really pushing myself, because there's not as much in the rotations to distinguish the good players from the great ones. I can see the reasoning - easier spec = more people play it = possibly good outcome for the spec as a whole; however, I don't think it hurts at all to have one or two specs that are there for the top-level players and require a bit more thought to them.
I'm not saying that I want to see this happen. I actually think that lowering the skill cap is almost synonymous with lowering the quality of the game. I'm just saying that it seems like the natural path for Blizzard to take if they want to maximize the number of subscribers.

Even very small seemingly insignificant changes like removing hybrid gems and hit cap, or professions contributing something to your dps have effects. It's something that a player can min/max to differentiate themselves from others who don't.

I agree that there should be a variety of different skill caps among all of the playable specs. I'm actually surprised by the changes Blizzard is making to Marksman hunter. Marksman is probably the easiest dps spec in the game right now and they boosted the skill cap a ton on the legion alpha.

The thing is, people don't really research what class they want to play before they go ahead and play it. A casual player may like the fantasy of a certain class and pick up that class and they just stick with it for the entire expansion. If the class they pick "underperforms" for them compared to other players who play that same class because the skill cap is too high, he might get disheartened or frustrated and stop playing. If he doesn't actually care about how he is performing, he will still be rejected from raid by people who do where he otherwise wouldn't.

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Re: Is it in Blizzard's best interest to lower feral skill c

Post by Tinderhoof » Mon Apr 25, 2016 7:29 pm

I think the premise you are starting from is flawed.

For the most part I think Ferals are avoided because we kinda suck, or in a lot of cases are perceived as sucking. I don't think people pick up a spec and drop it because they don't do as well as other people in the same spec. I think they drop it based on it's over all number performance. Even if the skill cap was lowered to the level of Combat Rogues people aren't going to stay with it if it's still mid to low end of the pack with glairing flaws.

In the last 8 years there have been 3 spikes in Feral player base.
1. ICC in WotLK. While we had a little uptick at the start of Ulduar it quickly dropped off when the buffs received after strength was removed from giving 2 ap, the actual big uptick wasn't until we hit ICC levels of ArP. We still sucked badly on any add centric or target swapping fight. However there were so few of those so we got a bump in numbers.
2. End of Cata in Dragon Soul raid. We weren't that great on DPS really, but Bear Catting was super broken on some fights. I would say this was likely the smallest player base spike.
3. End of SoO provided you had a high level Rune. We were pretty close to top Single Target damage. At very high levels Warlocks were starting to beat us (and some others).

SoO was the only time where we were actually really good at damage. In WotLK we had really good damage, but were competing with all 3 Plate classes having Legendries. Cata our damage wasn't bad, but we were also competing against another melee class with a legendary, and all caster classes with one. People go where the damage is, and if not damage than something like GG with DK's. We aren't played much because we are hardly ever relevant.

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Re: Is it in Blizzard's best interest to lower feral skill c

Post by Treeba » Mon Apr 25, 2016 7:48 pm

Tinderhoof wrote:I think the premise you are starting from is flawed.

For the most part I think Ferals are avoided because we kinda suck, or in a lot of cases are perceived as sucking. I don't think people pick up a spec and drop it because they don't do as well as other people in the same spec. I think they drop it based on it's over all number performance. Even if the skill cap was lowered to the level of Combat Rogues people aren't going to stay with it if it's still mid to low end of the pack with glairing flaws.
That's a big part of it imo. Raiders and pvpers are especially likely to swap classes based on what is flavor of the month, or just high preforming. Feral was pretty popular in WoD for pvpers.

Others are turned off from feral simply because of its playstyle. It's slow and some people find that boring or frustrating. A lock, boomkin or shadow priest can basically throw up dots on things at will, but we don't really have the energy to just "bleed all the things" whenever we want. We also can't do it from range. Not counting the T18 set bonuses we have some of the highest time spent waiting of any spec. It's just not something that's highly appealing to many people.

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Re: Is it in Blizzard's best interest to lower feral skill c

Post by Polihayse » Mon Apr 25, 2016 8:05 pm

I hate that people have always looked at feral's downtime as a problem, even when it wasn't. People see the downtime and think "I'm doing nothing. This is boring." There was a time when you actually did do something despite the fact that so many people think otherwise. You spent the downtime contemplating your next move. What do I do and when to maximize my performance? Also, considering the possible options if you were to get a trinket proc because the trinket proc actually interacted with the playstyle with snapshotting. I'm so sad that has gone away because that is 90% of what makes the spec fun for me.

This is why I think feral should have an ability that works off of downtime and energy pooling to make this point clear to people (my idea to have a mastery that makes abilities do more damage based off of energy gained since the last energy consuming ability). It would also have a very cool interaction with clearcasting because clearcasting makes your abilities not cost energy. Maybe change Moment of Clarity to make use of Clearcasting more effective. For example, have it increase the proc rate of clearcasting and make clearcasting a use ability that can hold multiple charges like Arcane Missiles currently work for mages. It would also make haste more valuable.
Last edited by Polihayse on Mon Apr 25, 2016 8:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Is it in Blizzard's best interest to lower feral skill c

Post by Polihayse » Mon Apr 25, 2016 8:09 pm

Tinderhoof wrote:I think the premise you are starting from is flawed.
Which premise are you talking about? I was mostly building a case for explaining something that has been observed for years (removal of complexity).

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Re: Is it in Blizzard's best interest to lower feral skill c

Post by Terias » Mon Apr 25, 2016 9:09 pm

Tinderhoof wrote:In the last 8 years there have been 3 spikes in Feral player base.
Actually, if I'm remembering correctly our biggest boost was in the introduction of Cataclysm.

We had a landslide of players play feral because of incarnation (giving us burst) combined with a longstanding bug from beta giving us too much bleed damage (double rake ticks) - which caused our pvp viability to skyrocket. We got a bunch of gladiators this season that got glad rating early, then didn't play after 4.06.

Our pve damage was also very good this tier (until 4.06).

PvP players started tons of threads about how broken feral bleeds, burst, and cyclone were - and how we needed to be nerfed into the ground.

So we got a huge nerf in the mid-tier balance patch (4.06), and our shapeshift root removal was taken away, causing longtime players to quit the spec. Pvpers went to play something else and pve damage dropped due to rip/rake nerfs and damage shifting to shred. I don't think we were ever top this expansion, but with the broken world drop trinket we could come close (increased weapon damage I think?) until the nerfs - which wasn't where blizzard wanted us (they were still doing minor 'hybrid class tax' at this point).

But I think this only serves to prove your point more, the only time feral has been popular is when it's been good. From its least complex to most complex point, people at the high end don't care about how complicated a class is, they care what works and what is best. Feral's strengths can rarely be exploited in today's raid encounters, and we aren't the best (not even close).

I think people overstate how difficult feral is to play. Playing almost any class (with a few exceptions) is complicated at a mythic level. Learning feral is only slightly more complex than learning the various nuances for each spec that allows you to do max dps. And, like feral, doing well with most classes is less about rotational efficiency and more about learning how to exploit each encounters parameters to get max dps out of your aoe/st/cd/uptime availability. Figuring out the order of button presses is the easy part on every spec.

Edit:

The lack of players playing feral is more likely to be that every expansion our spec is changed in a minor way that completely changes how the spec plays and feels - every expansion. We rarely come close to being anywhere near the top-end of any part of the game. We're melee, we have poor swap damage, poor burst damage, abysmal high target sustained aoe, low cleav, low utility, bad for most fight mechanics, and we're inflexible in our encounter role. People don't want to play a bad spec, people want to play a good spec.

That's why enhancement surged above feral at the end of HFC, because enh has been performing amazingly (by good players) at high end aoe, and good enh are desired for at least 1 regular raid spot.

I don't think "no one at blizzard plays our class", but I do think anyone at blizzard playing at a mythic level would see the issues we run into - very clearly.

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Re: Is it in Blizzard's best interest to lower feral skill c

Post by teddabear » Tue Apr 26, 2016 1:42 am

Another thing I would keep in mind is the number of Feral theorycrafters is perilously low. Losing more could have a disastrous chain reaction among all skill levels.

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Re: Is it in Blizzard's best interest to lower feral skill c

Post by Tinderhoof » Tue Apr 26, 2016 4:40 am

Polihayse wrote:Which premise are you talking about? I was mostly building a case for explaining something that has been observed for years (removal of complexity).
You assert that people would be willing to play the class if it was less complicated. I don't agree that premise is accurate. I believe people care less about what others in their class does and more about how much damage vs the rest of the raid they do. Complexity isn't as big of a road block as some people make it.
Terias wrote:Actually, if I'm remembering correctly our biggest boost was in the introduction of Cataclysm.We had a landslide of players play feral because of incarnation (giving us burst) combined with a longstanding bug from beta giving us too much bleed damage (double rake ticks) - which caused our pvp viability to skyrocket. We got a bunch of gladiators this season that got glad rating early, then didn't play after 4.06.
Oh trust me I remember the "outrage". But what I also remember is by week 2 of release they had already fixed the Rake double dipping bug. By week 3 we had our mastery nerfed into the ground. At that time we also still had to keep hit and expertise capped to ensure our skull bash was successful. And Tier 11 was loaded with must interrupt or wipe mechanics. Our damage was crap right out of the gate. The Root shifting did come later after the damage nerfs (I hate frost mages). The trinket came into play and we got to make use of it, but it just kept us from being dead last. Our ranged interrupt and our bear cat ability was the only thing that kept us in raids.
Terias wrote:The lack of players playing feral is more likely to be that every expansion our spec is changed in a minor way that completely changes how the spec plays and feels - every expansion.
This is something I just don't buy. The problem we have is that our rotation is so restrictive that we actually haven't changed much at all in 8 years. Sure some timers have gotten longer, but the rotation itself never really changes. Did you know we have only received 2 "new abilities" in the last 4 expacs? Both of them were copies of bear spells. Swipe just prior to Uldaur, and Thrash in Cata. No the spell swapping garbage in MoP doesn't count. Most of the spells we did get either didn't work or were so nerf'd it was a waste. That's it. The reason we aren't able to really deal with AoE and burst mechanics is because we haven't changed at all. When the rotation was designed, there was mostly single target fights. AoE/add control was limited, and usually it was handled by ranged CC, or by tanking it forever. As the game continues to evolve and we stay the same our toolbox becomes less and less relevant.

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Re: Is it in Blizzard's best interest to lower feral skill c

Post by Polihayse » Tue Apr 26, 2016 6:06 pm

Tinderhoof wrote:
Polihayse wrote:Which premise are you talking about? I was mostly building a case for explaining something that has been observed for years (removal of complexity).
You assert that people would be willing to play the class if it was less complicated. I don't agree that premise is accurate. I believe people care less about what others in their class does and more about how much damage vs the rest of the raid they do. Complexity isn't as big of a road block as some people make it.
My conclusion is that more people would play the game for longer. Also, my argument isn't just "less complicated → more subscriptions". There's a bunch of things in between. Less complicated gameplay opens up a lot of opportunities that most players otherwise wouldn't get, which I explained. It's just like how currently feral druid players tend to be slightly more skilled than the people they raid with because that has to be the case to justify them getting a raid spot. They have to work harder than most people to get similar dps. It seems that Blizzard isn't interested in rewarding difficult gameplay. If they are, then clearly it isn't a high priority. Just look at unholy dks. They pretty much have the highest skill cap in the game right now and they struggle against much simpler classes. If this is going to be the case for Legion, then if some unlucky person were to play the unholy dk of legion because they enjoyed the class fantasy, then they might be turned off by the fact that they can't compete at all with what their friends are doing.
Last edited by Polihayse on Tue Apr 26, 2016 7:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Is it in Blizzard's best interest to lower feral skill c

Post by teddabear » Tue Apr 26, 2016 6:28 pm

Blizzard never rewarded difficult gameplay. Highend Ferals were very competitive at times, barring major scaling issues, because there was a such a huge drop off in DPS at lower skill levels. Blizzard gave Feral mild buffs so the low end Ferals would not be completely useless. The more dumbed down the spec has gotten the more Blizzard has nerfed Feral damage.

If you have been playing since before Ferals were disdained for their crappy toolset, they use to have a severe image problem because most Ferals were really bad.

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Re: Is it in Blizzard's best interest to lower feral skill c

Post by ShmooDude » Tue Apr 26, 2016 7:06 pm

Tinderhoof wrote:This is something I just don't buy. The problem we have is that our rotation is so restrictive that we actually haven't changed much at all in 8 years. Sure some timers have gotten longer, but the rotation itself never really changes. Did you know we have only received 2 "new abilities" in the last 4 expacs? Both of them were copies of bear spells. Swipe just prior to Uldaur, and Thrash in Cata. No the spell swapping garbage in MoP doesn't count. Most of the spells we did get either didn't work or were so nerf'd it was a waste. That's it. The reason we aren't able to really deal with AoE and burst mechanics is because we haven't changed at all. When the rotation was designed, there was mostly single target fights. AoE/add control was limited, and usually it was handled by ranged CC, or by tanking it forever. As the game continues to evolve and we stay the same our toolbox becomes less and less relevant.
This boils it down pretty well. I think the biggest problem is Blizz doesn't seem to see this as a problem. They just label us "single target focused" and are done with it.

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Re: Is it in Blizzard's best interest to lower feral skill c

Post by Tinderhoof » Tue Apr 26, 2016 7:47 pm

ShmooDude wrote:I think the biggest problem is Blizz doesn't seem to see this as a problem.
Actually I see it more the opposite. They know it's so tight the only way would be a ground up refresh. They have pretty much painted themselves into a corner which they can't get out of with out having to start all over. As that is a daunting task when so many other classes were needed changes, we being a low pop class who's rotation still "works" we can afford to be put off. Sure it makes us super undesireable in raiding. It sucks, but there it is.

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Re: Is it in Blizzard's best interest to lower feral skill c

Post by ShmooDude » Wed Apr 27, 2016 12:12 am

Tinderhoof wrote:
ShmooDude wrote:I think the biggest problem is Blizz doesn't seem to see this as a problem.
Actually I see it more the opposite. They know it's so tight the only way would be a ground up refresh. They have pretty much painted themselves into a corner which they can't get out of with out having to start all over. As that is a daunting task when so many other classes were needed changes, we being a low pop class who's rotation still "works" we can afford to be put off. Sure it makes us super undesireable in raiding. It sucks, but there it is.
Yeah, possible. I don't really believe that though (though I could see Blizzard believing it), there's any number of ways to fix our problems. They just seem strongly set against changing any of our core mechanics outside of removing SR. Many wouldn't even be significant changes, just relatively small tweaks.

The core of the problem is so many of our mechanics are rather at odds with each other (I'm not sure there's any amount of number tuning that would fundamentally "fix" these):
1) We're single target focused, but DoT based meaning that outside of specific mechanics for short lived adds, we're only useful on long living single target, which is a relative rarity.
2) Finishers make up a large portion of our single target damage but none of our AoE, yet Swipe is balanced against Shred which makes up a relatively small portion of our ST damage (bigger on alpha, but still only a portion of it).
3) Haste and Mastery have basically 0 overlap meaning that simply moving our damage from DD to DoT and back simply buffs one and nerfs the other.

I know they don't really like suggestions on that but for example:
1) Rip increases in duration instead of damage per tick with Combo Points.
2) Put SR and Brutal Slash on the same talent tier. Remove the cooldown from Brutal Slash but it no longer generates CPs. The main reason for an AoE move to generate CPs is to maintain SR. Without an AoE finisher we don't need an AoE ability to generate CPs which fuels exclusively single target abilities.
3) Bleeds are affected by haste. An alternative would be something akin to Sub rogues where for example Shred advances Rip's Dot, thus allowing the extra energy to translate into extra bleed damage.


Again, I don't expect any of that to even have a chance of happening but at least from where I sit, that helps make our weaknesses not quite so bad and after that it's just number tuning. First two would require virtually no coding as Rupture already functions that way and removing the CPs and CD from Brutal Slash is equally trivial.

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Re: Is it in Blizzard's best interest to lower feral skill c

Post by Polihayse » Wed Apr 27, 2016 2:54 am

I really don't understand the approach they have taken on the alpha with the talent trees. I look at it and then I just think that they heard many people over years complaining and saying "illusion of choice illusion of choice illusion of choice", so they just created something that was entirely random as a big "fuck you". I know that wasn't their intention of course.

Honestly, I think the whole "choice" issue is completely overrated. I wish they would accept that choice is pretty much impossible if you want to have a balanced game. My solution was to have each spec in the game have something called a Focus. It would be a slightly modified version of the spec equivalent to what you would get when you chose a specific set of talents.

class > spec > focus

Each class could have 2 or 3 focuses, which would be equivalent to 2-3 different sets of talents and the playstyles that emerge as a result of picking these talents. For example, right now unholy dks either run necrotic plague/outbreak, or breath of sindragosa/plague leech. Each of these combos forms different playstyles and each playstyle is oriented to handle different aspects of gameplay better than the other.

Even though the illusion of choice is equivalent to no choice, the majority of players prefer the illusion of choice for some reason. I wish people could see past this so we can have a higher quality game cause right now, our talent choices seem like a bunch of crap thrown at a wall and see what sticks.

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Re: Is it in Blizzard's best interest to lower feral skill c

Post by teddabear » Wed Apr 27, 2016 5:06 am

Polihayse wrote:I really don't understand the approach they have taken on the alpha with the talent trees. I look at it and then I just think that they heard many people over years complaining and saying "illusion of choice illusion of choice illusion of choice", so they just created something that was entirely random as a big "fuck you". I know that wasn't their intention of course.
So much of the talent tree consists of abilities that used to be baseline. The affinity tier became much less interesting imo when Balance did not effect auto attacks. Some of the other stuff has promise but there are issues that need tweaking which isn't happening.

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Re: Is it in Blizzard's best interest to lower feral skill c

Post by Dysheki » Wed Apr 27, 2016 5:28 pm

Tinderhoof wrote:
ShmooDude wrote:I think the biggest problem is Blizz doesn't seem to see this as a problem.
Actually I see it more the opposite. They know it's so tight the only way would be a ground up refresh. They have pretty much painted themselves into a corner which they can't get out of with out having to start all over. As that is a daunting task when so many other classes were needed changes, we being a low pop class who's rotation still "works" we can afford to be put off. Sure it makes us super undesireable in raiding. It sucks, but there it is.
I hate to sound pessimistic, but I bet blizzard would reply to you saying its just a matter of 'tuning', not any redesign.

Random completely off-topic point: I'm still up in the air about raiding full time for legion. I don't want to play anything other than feral but they just have their heads up their ass when trying to understand real problems as it relates to actual raid encounters. And it hurts my brain. You can theory craft all you want, but I'm more of a production kind of person. Sorry I don't beta test to make more of a point to blizzard.

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Re: Is it in Blizzard's best interest to lower feral skill c

Post by Tinderhoof » Wed Apr 27, 2016 7:15 pm

Dysheki wrote:I hate to sound pessimistic, but I bet blizzard would reply to you saying its just a matter of 'tuning', not any redesign.
It' not pessimistic considering Celestalon said those exact words (in regards to the haste discussion anyway). To be fair though they can't say publicly much of what they are thinking because for the most part it would not be taken well or with the proper context by the customer base.

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Re: Is it in Blizzard's best interest to lower feral skill c

Post by Polihayse » Wed Apr 27, 2016 10:54 pm

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. If people are unhappy, then anything you say will most likely be interpreted negatively. It's a shame that this is the case since it gets in the way of better design.

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Re: Is it in Blizzard's best interest to lower feral skill c

Post by teddabear » Sun May 01, 2016 2:39 am

Dysheki wrote:
Tinderhoof wrote:
ShmooDude wrote:I think the biggest problem is Blizz doesn't seem to see this as a problem.
Actually I see it more the opposite. They know it's so tight the only way would be a ground up refresh. They have pretty much painted themselves into a corner which they can't get out of with out having to start all over. As that is a daunting task when so many other classes were needed changes, we being a low pop class who's rotation still "works" we can afford to be put off. Sure it makes us super undesireable in raiding. It sucks, but there it is.
I hate to sound pessimistic, but I bet blizzard would reply to you saying its just a matter of 'tuning', not any redesign.

Random completely off-topic point: I'm still up in the air about raiding full time for legion. I don't want to play anything other than feral but they just have their heads up their ass when trying to understand real problems as it relates to actual raid encounters. And it hurts my brain. You can theory craft all you want, but I'm more of a production kind of person. Sorry I don't beta test to make more of a point to blizzard.
I have been wondering if there is an belief at Blizzard that we are giving them a perfect opportunity to switch to a leather wearing melee which will be fully flushed out. I haven't followed the DH threads a lot, other than noticing there does not seem to be a lot of complaining. I don't know whether this is because they are in a good place or it is because of the lack or people playing them. Have any Ferals done extended testing with DH on Alpha?

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Re: Is it in Blizzard's best interest to lower feral skill c

Post by deemer » Mon May 02, 2016 12:12 am

teddabear wrote: I have been wondering if there is an belief at Blizzard that we are giving them a perfect opportunity to switch to a leather wearing melee which will be fully flushed out. I haven't followed the DH threads a lot, other than noticing there does not seem to be a lot of complaining. I don't know whether this is because they are in a good place or it is because of the lack or people playing them. Have any Ferals done extended testing with DH on Alpha?
There are tons of DH characters on alpha. Every time you get into dungeon you see at least 1 (but usually 2, sometimes even 3) of them. DH has very simple (which means - very effective) rotation, strong burst AoE, plus extreme mobility, plus some sort of raid save cooldown. All chances that this class will be the champion of upcoming expansion, same way as DK was a champion in WotLK.

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Re: Is it in Blizzard's best interest to lower feral skill c

Post by Leafkiller » Mon May 02, 2016 1:04 am

Interesting thread. I was thinking about some of the comments about why someone plays feral so I thought I would add some commentary as I have played feral longer than any of those in this thread who have mentioned when they started. In Vanilla I leveled my druid with a friend who was playing a priest and I spent most of my time as a bear while she was shadow. When we raided, I was the sixth tank in MC playing bear on the dog packs between Lucifron and Magmadar, going kitty on most trash packs where we had more healing than we needed (to be clear kitty dps in Vanilla was incredibly pitiful - especially early on before they added mangle to the game), and on most boss fights where we didn't need 6+ tanks I healed. For any of those of you in the know, I spent months traveling the world of Azeroth building up my feral gear, from farming for gloves in the sunken temple to looking for pants from the world dragons.

I think my two favorite times playing feral both came before they separated out tanking from the feral class -
  • In BC when we still had crappy dps - about two thirds on average of other classes, but not as pathetic as in Vanilla but became very viable main tanks for most of the encounters.
  • In Dragon Soul when Bearcatting was viable and made us great off tanks for some fights.
I think what I have loved about the spec comes down to two things - movement and the ability to play varied roles in the raid. I have never thought of the spec as being DoT dominated, because over the years it has gone back and forth between direct damage and DoTs. There was a time when our AoE was one of the strongest in the game - when it was simply spamming swipe. My point is, it is not the rotation that defined the class. It was being able to play multiple roles even during the course of a single encounter, the ability to stealth, and the ability to move better than anyone else.

From my perspective, breaking Guardian out from Feral more than anything else is what has made the class less enjoyable to play. While I completely understand why they did that, that is what really removed our niche from the game. We were not the single target champs or the AoE champs, we were the class that could dps at 80-90% of the other classes while acting as an offtank on some fights, do decent dps as a dedicated melee on others and on most fights we were quite viable as a main tank (not on Illidan though, but I was a fire tank for that).

So when we talk about the health of the class, don't forget that they actually broke our class into two classes. Feral used to be both cat and bear, but now it is only cat. Bears are extremely viable now, so that half of our original class is not sitting out on fights due to lack of AoE and target switching abilities.

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Coming back to the main question of this thread about skill cap. Blizzard long ago said they wanted to keep the rotations playable enough so that the dps dropoff was not too great between novice and expert players. But, honestly, rotational complexity is not the main factor in the the difference in dps. You will never have a novice player who is only 5 ilvls ahead of an expert player coming anywhere near the expert player in dps, unless you are talking about single target limited movement fights (especially if you get the novice player setup with Ovale). I had two ele shamans on my raid team in DS who did about the same dps on the non-movement fights, while the difference in dps was at least 25% on any fight with heavy movement.

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When I look at Legion, the two things that most interest me are class affinities - because the potential for playing a more hybrid role is there, and on a personal note, moving bears back to being the high armor high life pool tanks. I miss the era where tanks were more differentiated in how they worked.

I am not particularly concerned about rotational complexity - because I prefer the complexity of doing different roles in the middle of a fight - that is a hell of a lot more fun then worrying about whether or not to update Rake early because I can increase the tick damage by 10%.

All of that said (probably I should be posting in the Legion thread rather than here) being crappy at target switching and AoE sucks. It is disheartening to be at or near the top of the dps list on some fights and then to be doing half of the dps of other classes on other fights despite comparable player skill. High single target damage is not a viable niche - as is evidenced by the number of mythic druids posting here who have ended up sitting on first kills due to unfavorable fight mechanics. Make us decent at all phases, and bring back hybrid play imo. Then we really have a unique role to play. Homogenization is the problem - trying to make it "the player" and not "the class" which is a failed concept since "the class" matters just as much as "the player" - why else would any of us still be playing feral, if it wasn't for the class? This is a game, something we should be able to enjoy and we should not be penalized because of the class we enjoy playing.

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Re: Is it in Blizzard's best interest to lower feral skill c

Post by ShmooDude » Mon May 02, 2016 2:36 pm

Theoretically the affinities bring back the hybrid role. As to their effectiveness, we'll have to see.

I wonder what the effectiveness of these are. Could a Feral with Guardian affinity tank adds in an encounter and if so, on what difficulty? Is Resto affinity enough to allow you to drop a healer and have the feral heal only during intense periods (and if so, would this be any more or less effective than a healer simply dpsing during down time as they've stated they're improving healer dps)?

Somehow I doubt it but we'll just have to see.

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Re: Is it in Blizzard's best interest to lower feral skill c

Post by Tinderhoof » Mon May 02, 2016 4:38 pm

Suposeadly the Guardian affinity should allow you to tank a heroic if you have a decent healer. I would assume you can tank adds in raid encounters, but not bosses for more than your 100% dodge cooldown plus SI.

Resto I don't see us being effective at all in any burst healing situation because we only have single target heals. Sure we can spread rejuv, but that won't help any if it's burst damage. Sure we might be able to help on a tank with swift mend, but it's not something I would expect to rely on.

Boomkin looks mostly useless because they don't want you to use it often and they nerfed the AoE aspect of sunfire.

So from a Feral perspective, it seems like the passives will be what we use them for 99% of the time, and Guardian active maybe once or twice a tier.

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