Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Feral Mastery

Ask anyone you run across in game what their spec is, and you can probably get a pretty good idea of what they do. Holy Priest. Enhancement Shaman. Prot Warrior. All of those should immediately bring to mind a role. In other situations, it may clarify a playstyle. Frost v. Arcane Mage. Combat v. Assassination Rogue. Just by knowing someone's class and spec, you can get a sense of what they're about.

But there's always an exception to the rule. Take, for instance: Feral Druid. Hmm...still a little ambiguous, isn't it? You don't know for sure what that person does. Are they a Tank or a DPS? Are they specced/geared to excel at one of those roles or to be able to do an adequate job of both? (DKs also fall into this category.)

This brings us to yesterday, when I touched on one of the stat changes coming in Cataclysm that I wanted to explore a little more thoroughly.
Mastery - This is a new stat that will allow players to become better at whatever makes their chosen talent tree cool or unique. It's directly tied to talents, so what you gain from improving this stat is entirely dependent upon your class and the talent specialization you choose. We’ll talk more about specific Mastery benefits in the future.
Do you see where I'm going with this?

Let's go back to the other specs we've already mentioned: Holy, Enhancement, Prot, Frost, Arcane, Combat, Ass (*cough*)...I don't think it would be too hard to come up with, at least on a general level, what kind of Mastery stats each of these specs would have.

But what about Ferals? What kind of Mastery bonuses could we get that apply across our two roles effectively?

I know it's been a while, but they did cover some Mastery stats info at BlizzCon last year. While Rogues are the specific example in that post, you can get an idea of where they're going.

So Ferals? What would we get?

I could see a flat damage increase of some kind. That would help Bears with Threat and Cats with DPS numbers. That's good.

Armor Pen? Again, good for cats. But now 2 out of 3 stats are going towards increasing a Bear's threat output. That's not fun. Nor is it particularly useful.

Health or Armor increases? Great for Bears, useless for cats.

Haste? Okay, maybe. But again, its seems like that would do little to help Bears beyond threat. Rage generation if we see that from Haste somehow, but as said yesterday, Rage starvation isn't really an issue until you vastly outgear content.

The basic theme running here is that Bears care about Survival and Mitigation, while Cats care about damage output. There's really no good cross-section there. They're incompatible insofar as I can see. Either each role only benefits from 2 of the 3 Mastery stats, or Bears really get the short end of the stick. And either way, we end up feeling inferior to just about every other spec in the game because they get tangible benefit from all 3.

Now obviously Blizzard is aware of this. But we're going to have to wait and see how it's handled. I'm definitely very curious.


  1. I feel like I've read that part of the idea of Mastery is that they will take out some of the "boring" talents (i.e. stat increases) and roll those effects into the Mastery stats, leaving us more room for "fun" talents.

    With that in mind, lets look at what talents might be on the chopping block: Sharpened Claws (+6% crit) and Predatory Strikes (AP boost) both seem like contenders.

    Personally, I think they'll take out the stat buff component (+6% all stats) of Survival of the Fittest and roll that into Feral Mastery, leaving SotF a pure tanking talent. (This should also go a long way towards making it easier to distinguish between cat-spec and bear-spec druids.)

  2. Crit would probably be a good candidate, as it helps Bears with mitigation (via Savage Defense).

    I have a hard time seeing a +X% to all stats as a Mastery stat. Can you imagine the QQ that would cause on the forums from other classes?

    Granted, this (rightly) hasn't stopped Blizz from doing things like that in the past. There will always be QQ.

    +X% to all stats as a Mastery stat. I didn't even consider that one. Hmm...

  3. I always thought they could do something like Heart of the Wild where one mastery bonus would apply differently between cats and bears: it could increase our stamina in bear form and our AP in cat form, like HotW. We could also get one that increases our agility, since that is a stat that is useful to both bears and cats.

  4. Yeah, I imagine it would be like many current feral talents...effect X for bear abilities, effect Y for cat abilities. The talent tree itself is hardwired for that clunky duality already, so it wouldn't be that strange, even if it were the only spec/class to get that dual treatment.

  5. What about cooldown reduction as an option?

    Cats could get a shorter cooldown on Berserk and Tiger's Fury, and Bears could get a shorter cooldown on some of their defensive cooldowns.

  6. How about damage bonus based on current health?

  7. Different Mastery stats for each form is probably the "right" answer, but I'm having a hard time imagining they'd do that. Granted, we still don't know much of anything about them, but based on what little we do know it seems...unlikely. Time will tell. As mentioned, it's already all over our talents. Our tier set bonuses, as well.

    Still, while something like "health" is very likely, I don't think they'll be doing buffs to core stats like Agility. That will probably still come from gear and gems only.

    Cooldown reduction would be an interesting one. But again, it would be very different for Cats and Bears. For Cat, I'd want Tiger's Fury and Berserk to be off c/d faster (especially immediately following a Ferocious Bite). For Bear it'd be more about Barkskin, Frenzied Regen, and Survival Instincts. So the duality problem still exists. Plus I can see reducing the cooldowns on those (especially cat) making us too unbalanced for Blizz's liking.

    Something like damage based on health seems too complicated for Mastery stats (based on what little we know). That's more likely to be baked into an actual talent or skill.

  8. I'd love to see a health boost, but personally I don't see them going that route when they're talking about lowering bear stam coefficient *more* than they already have.

    Looking at the WoW.com screenshot, I am also starting to think that they'll probably be mostly secondary stats rather than core stats. But it will be a simple percentage multiplier, not a complex formula. With that in mind, what are some of the possibilities?

    +X% Crit
    +X% Melee Damage
    +X% Hit
    +X% Expertise
    +X% Haste

    Anything else? Run speed increase maybe?

    Sure seems like crit and melee damage are the obvious choices. I don't honestly see hit making the cut, even though it'll be harder to cap, because I feel like we're swimming with it with our itemization. (Perhaps the one nice thing about sharing gear with rogues....)

    I would see expertise as a possibility only if they were to cannibalize the points from Primal Precision (which might not be a bad move--it would make PP a pure cat talent).

    Haste is also tempting, given the new energy/rage regen mechanics--it would be useful for both specs. Useful enough to appeal to bears, though? I don't know about that... I tend to swim in rage.

    I'm also thinking about Survival of the Fittest and that blanket % to all stats... I think that might actually go away. Blizz has moved away from giving us caster-y type stats (remember when feral tier gear had Int?) and I think the stat boost will be another casualty. They will, however, compensate by providing us more of the relevant stats for feral.

    My revised forecast:
    * Mastery: X% Crit, X% Melee Damage, X% Expertise.
    * Survival of the Fittest: Pure bear talent. Perhaps +X% Stam, +Y% Armor contribution. I'll even go so far as to say this will become a 16-point talent and will absorb Thick Hide.
    * Primal Precision: Pure cat talent. Perhaps in lieu of Expertise, it'll provide a +Energy Regen component.

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