Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Rage balancing in Cata

I think just about every other Feral blogger (and some not-so-Feral as well) posted about this yesterday while I was bemoaning what a horrible officer I am. I'm just going to call this being fashionably late and run with that.

I've also realized that for a Feral Druid blog, there is a disturbing low percentage of Feral Druid-centric posts here. I'm aiming to fix that.

Anyway, Rage changes coming in Cataclysm. What is this going to do to us big ol' bears?

Well, first we need the details. I'm going to summarize, but if you want the full set of details straight from the Orc's mouth, here you go.

1) Rage will no longer be generated from the amount of damage done by auto-attacks. Instead, an auto-attack will generate a certain amount of rage based on the un-hastened swing speed. Crits will generate 200% normal rage.

This is a very good starting point. There are too many variables that affect damage done, which makes balancing rage around it very tricky. This change (not taking into account other sources of rage) will make our Rage generation feel like our Energy regen when we're in Cat form. Every time we swing, we know we'll get X rage. It makes it a pretty liner regeneration pattern.

This is even more true for us (as opposed to our Warrior Rage-brethren) because our swing speed isn't based on our weapon. Instead it's a static 2.5 seconds. Since the rage generation is based on that base swing speed, haste will essentially speed up how fast we can generate rage (but still in a very predictable manner).

As a bonus, since we Agi stack like woah, we crit a lot. A fair number of our auto-attacks will be giving us the rage of two. This change likely heralds the death of Primal Fury as a bear talent.

2. Rage gains from damage taken will now be based on our health pool. It will be calculated based on the full force of the hit before any avoidance (dodge) or mitigation (armor, absorption) mechanics are applied.

At a glance, it appears that this will make it easier to maintain rage in content that we vastly outgear. Yes and no. While we'll still get "equal" rage from a hit that we take all of versus one that we dodge or shrug off 70% of because of our armor, our (presumably) higher stam pool will mean that hit would take away a smaller percent of our health. I assume this means it will generate less "actual" rage.

Still, it's a welcome change that I think will help stabilize our rage regardless of whether we're running heroic-mode raids or just leveling dungeons.

Similar to point 1 above, this change will probably mean a significant reworking of Natural Reaction is on the horizon.

3. We will be getting more ways to instantly generate rage and more ways to dump rage when we have excess.

Right now Enrage is the only Rage-generation ability we have, and it's not exactly optimal for use in combat because of the armor loss. Granted, in content where you're rage-starved and actually need to pop this in battle you can probably afford the armor loss. Sometimes, though, you go through that rage quick, especially if you aren't the primary focus of the attacks. Having more options open will be nice.

On the flip-side having more rage-dumps will be nice. Right now we have Maul and it's less of a Rage-dump than it is a necessary threat-generation ability. (We're pretty much balanced around being able to hit this the vast majority of the time.)

When I see a full rage bar, I'd like to be able to get giddy and prepare an uber-destructive attack, the same way I do when I'm playing Cat and get ready to unleash a Ferocious Bite with nearly full energy.

4) Maul will no longer replace your next auto-attack. (All "on next attack" abilities are going away.) Instead it will be an instant attack costing a base of 10 Rage but consuming all available rage up to 30 and doing more damage for more rage consumed.

So it's basically turning Maul into the Bear's version of Ferocious Bite. We'll actually have to consider when it is and isn't a good time to use this ability instead of mindless mashing the button. I'm all for this change. While I don't think our (or any other) tanking rotation should be on par with the complexity of a Cat's DPS rotation I definitely think we need a boost in the intellectual requirement department.

I'm also a huge fan of the general abolition of on-next-attack abilities. I've never enjoyed them on any class that has them.

I know there's a lot of trepidation about these changes. That's pretty much par for the course whenever anything comes along that vastly changes the mechanics of the way a class works. Maybe even moreso in this case because Blizz tried to rebalance rage mechanics in BC and kinda bombed it.

But I'm fairly excited for these changes and I'm actually looking forward to getting an opportunity to play around with them. I think they'll add a new (and very much needed) dimension to Bear tanking.
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