I join the growing chorus

Anacrusa stops by the Herb Garden of her garrison for a photo while preparing to leave AU Draenor for Azeroth, July 18th, 2016 [Photo by Mushan, Petty Mirror Images]

Anacrusa stops by the Herb Garden of her garrison for a photo while preparing to leave AU Draenor for Azeroth, the evening of July 18th, 2016. [Photo by Mushan, Petty Mirror Images]

There comes a point in the lives of certain bloggers – people like me, who name their blogs after their main characters in World of Warcraft – when you start to wonder what you’re going to do about the name of your blog.

As of right now, I have no concrete plans to change anything with respect to that. This is Mushan, Etc. I will very likely play Mushan, the toon, the hunter, in Legion. To some extent.

On the other hand, I will definitely play my druid, Anacrusa – last my main four expansions ago – in Legion.


The news

In an announcement that is months in the making, I’m writing today to tell you that, barring ‘Cataclysmic’ changes – to MM hunters, cat druids, or both – between now and Legion’s launch, Anacrusa will be my main at the start of Legion.

(I've even changed her back to being my main on the character screen!)

(I’ve even changed her back to being my main on the character screen!) *[yes I know, I haven’t used my boosts yet…]

Believe it or not, this is actually a positive thing!

Wait, what? (You scratch your head, puzzled…)

Well, it’s been a while, so let me briefly paint you a picture of the last few months.

WoD was not fun for me. This was caused by both real life circumstances – my work volume since mid-2014 has made it nearly impossible to participate in group content – and by… well, the expansion itself was not that much fun for me.

With Legion’s announcement, I felt minor pangs of anticipation, but the slow creep of development seemed to have finally bested me this time. By February, I was contemplating the heretofore unthinkable: that I would keep playing WoW for free (thanks, Tokens, for saving me $180/year!), but that I would deliberately not purchase an expansion for the first time in 10 years.

I was somewhere around… here:

“I don’t have time to play consistently, but at least I will still be able to get on from time to time to chat with the few friends I have left who still play the game. And I can revisit some of that nostalgic old content that I enjoy, delve a bit more into lore occasionally, and not worry about anything further…”

A not-insignificant subset of my reasons for potentially going this route included the fact that certain people that I am close to decided that I would love to hear about certain beloved lore characters who are going to die in Legion.

Yeah. I shut that faucet off quickly.

When I found out about who I found about about, it ruined my day, and I began to think it was time to admit to myself that Blizz has indeed jumped the shark, and that it was time for me to get out while I was ahead.

For several weeks, I ruminated on this premise.


The hunter

Survival as I know it is dead, and its memory is being partially forced into Marksmanship, and partially split off into a different hunter fantasy: the melee hunter. As such, Mushan – a long-time SV/MM hunter – doesn’t know whether he knows everything now, or, alternatively, nothing anymore (“Me forget how Survival, but me also learn some old Survival stuff as Marks?” . . ah, fuck it. ‘Gameplay trumps lore/fantasy,’ blah blah, but that shit – continuity – is important to me).

Subsequently – and I apologize, but I can’t articulate it like other hunter bloggers have – I feel sick about my hunter. What’s happening to the class in Legion doesn’t seem right. The way the class is being changed, I wasn’t going to be interested in taking Mushan into Legion, without roleplaying part of my own class fantasy away from what it is turning into and isolating myself from others in the game.* At least, that’s where my mind was headed.

*Apologies, I know that is vague. It’s hard to describe feelings sometimes, as well as the personal way that one plays this game. I spent enough time feeling like crap about my hunter that I’m trying not to dwell on the minutia.


The druid

And then, one Sunday, I happened to dig a bit into the Legion beta feral druid. And something amazing happened: for the first time in years, I felt a love for the feral spec that had long been elusive. Something long-dormant welled up in my chest, and sparked my mind, and it stayed there – and it’s still there: druid-related excitement that I haven’t felt in a long time.

I’ve been playing her for several weeks now, almost exclusively. She is now my highest (modestly) geared toon, and she’s starting to feel powerful like she used to in WotLK… back when she was last my main.

The cat druid doesn’t seem like it will be THE perfect spec – that’s not what I’m interested in. However, I’m thinking of it as a spec I will enjoy both for PvP and, possibly, if I have the opportunity to get back into raiding again this fall.


The wrap up

This was rambly, but what I’ve tried to say, in short, is that, if it hadn’t been for falling back in love with my druid, I might not have purchased Legion. As such, it’s a good thing that I’ve switched mains.

I’ve tried to cut a lot of the negative hunter stuff out of this post. Why? Well, the truth is that, unlike a couple of months ago, I am excited for Legion, and it starts with my druid. It continues with certain artifact weapon quests that the lore nerd in me is excited about (along with other nerdy lore stuff that I love), and culminates with the possibility that I might be able to begin raiding again in the fall if the stars, both IRL and in game, align. More on those things to come.


Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc.

Echoes of a Big Bear

Ana killing a Mushan >.>

This morning, I read Big Bear Butt’s post from yesterday, about his decision to stop trying to force himself to be a bear tank. I won’t quote it or copy it, so go read it if you haven’t already. Basically, he is letting go of his guardian druid, and his hunter will be his raiding main. Sound familiar?

Anyone who has followed BBB for a while – like I have – knows that he has long been both a passionate advocate of bears and one of the foremost progenitors of furry-bottomed face-tanking, in-game and in the blogosphere. With experience comes wisdom, and he has much of both. I found it very interesting that many of his thoughts echo mine with regard to my own druid.

Once Mists of Pandaria launched, I leveled my hunter in about 30 hours. A week later, my druid hit 90 as well. I’m currently working, off and on, on my warrior, who hit 88 yesterday. The hunter was the most fun. There were very few situations that I had problems with, and it was undoubtedly the toon that I am capable of leveling the fastest.*

*This includes choices that I’ve made; I could have leveled my druid as a feral druid, and I could level my warrior as arms, but there’s no way I could have done so with the apparent recklessness and efficiency with which I approached many of the Week 1 situations I found myself in – not with either toon.

Leveling the druid was brutally slow. She’s a guardian, which was what I had planned. For those who remember my post a while back about leveling her to 90 with my Cataclysm gear, here’s the update on how that went: at roughly level 88 1/2, in Townlong Steppes, I gave up the idea. Item level 387 was not cutting it. Level 88 mobs took a minute to kill sometimes. The damage was punishing. I was missing too much, and reforging put my survivability in even more jeopardy. So I gave up the ghost, went back to Stormwind, rotated in what green/blue gear I had collected, reforged and slapped on cheap enchants (yay profession leveling!), and went back for a much, much more reasonable experience for the final 30-ish bars.

Once I hit 90 with her, I ran Direbrew to get the trinkets, and am currently wearing the Brawler’s Trophy. Her gear has stagnated a bit, though, as I’ve been working on the hunter (of course) as well as leveling the warrior.

Droignon versus the Stag

Leveling the warrior has been interesting and fun. He’s protection, of course, and his gear experience began a little differently than the druid’s. When I was leveling Blacksmithing on my hunter, I procced no less than four very usable ilvl 415 plate blues that were immediately equippable. One or two of them had Crit or Haste on them, but the Strength and Stamina upgrades over my 378 gear were so nice that they were definite wins. When I got to Jade Forest, I was absolutely crushing stuff, which was fun. I’m still wearing a couple of the pieces, and things have evened out as I’ve leveled him, so the rate of kills has slowed down considerably, which isn’t surprising.

Druid tanking is a cousin of warrior tanking, although the warrior tends to have better movement as well as spell reflecting abilities, while the druid has more in-combat healing ability. When I’m on one, I tend to miss the advantages of the other from time to time.

However, one thing that has been on my mind lately is how different they can feel as classes. By feel, I don’t necessarily mean the differences in abilities, but rather the way that I connect with the characters when I’m playing.

As a druid, there was something inspiring about being there with Hamuul Runetotem and Malfurion Stormrage during the battle against Leyara. Hamuul, burned and broken, shapeshifts – in what must be a painful situation for him – and goes “all-for-the-cause” bear-apeshit on her until she’s dead. Come 5.0.4, we bears turned into guardians, like the Guardians of Hyjal. I felt, and feel, kinship with him to a point.

However, as a warrior, there is something so visceral about what is essentially the most physical class in WoW. It’s a humanoid with plate, shield, and sword/axe/mace, leaping into the fray and taking all comers. Listening to the sounds of combat on my warrior, it feels physical: the slamming of shields and swords, the boom of Dragon Roar, the crash of Thunder Clap. And the visuals are great too: the warrior balances on his toes, slices with his sword, slams his shield in his opponent’s face. It feels very personal.

As much as I try, I can’t make that personal connection with the druid.

As feral, I was a cat. I was a hunter pet with free will. As a moonkin, I was a fat chicken, which is a look I have never enjoyed. As a healer… well, that has never felt comfortable to me. And as a bear, things feel visceral to an extent, but not as much as on the warrior.

As a warrior, you have your gear and your colors. You look sharp and ready to go. When the battle begins, the warrior charges in and fights for his life and those of his friends. He proudly continues to display his colors and fights until victory is assured or until all is lost.

There’s something that feels definite and permanent about my warrior. Perhaps it’s because of the shape-shiftiness of the druid. It can be a bear, or a cat, or a chicken, or a stormcrow, or a stag, or an orca. It can heal or rip or call down nature’s elements for purposes either deadly or life-giving. At the end of the day, a druid can potentially be a lot of different things.

On the other hand, a warrior is a warrior. Mine has never fought or killed any enemy as any other spec but protection. He is a rock, covered in plate and flashing steel weapons. He is nothing more, nothing less.

Right now, all of that appeals to me. And the druid appeals to me much less.

I haven’t started a monk, in part, because I am so happy with my warrior.

And so this gets me to my point, which is that I, like BBB, am also thinking of letting go of the druid as a seriously played toon.

The plan for MoP was to raid on the hunter, maybe to tank on the druid if possible, and to enjoy my protection warrior in limited play. But lately I find myself thinking of making my warrior my main tanking character: gearing him, getting him set up with all of the factions, tanking dungeons, and bringing him along if we ever end up running an alt raid.

With warriors, there is no pussy-footing around. We smash. We survive. We do what we have to do. With my druid, I’ve been gearing as a guardian while also trying to heal BGs because I don’t want to PvP as a feral druid. Neither has been the most fun. The warrior has been enjoyable. And that’s what this is all about, after all.

– – –

In closing… I will write an update as things progress. Right now, we aren’t yet raiding. After I finish this post, I’m going to hit up Raid Finder on Mushan.

I’m a little behind where I want to be gear-wise, in part because I took four days off to go visit with family during the second half of last week. I haven’t completed three of the heroics yet, due to issues such as having Scholomance completely reset on us (and disband the group) after killing the second boss the only time I’ve been in there, as well as a lack of luck with the dungeon finder. Thus, I’m not using any of the pre-raid BiS trinkets, but I am otherwise 463-plus in every slot. I have the Sha of Anger boots, the Valor neck, the crafted gloves and chest, the belt from Raid Finder, and Direbrew’s trinket. So I’m in decent shape, but hopefully I’ll be in better shape after this week’s reset is over.

I’m not sure when we’ll start raiding. Right now, from what I can tell, we have one tank, one healer, and some DPS returning from our Dragon Soul team, so we have some definite needs. I’m chomping at the bit to get at it, but we’re nowhere close to being ready, and as my girlfriend pointed out, the expansion is still new and we have plenty of time to get in there and kill all 16 bosses in this tier. I have to confess that I’m a little jealous of the people who are downing Mogu’shan bosses already – my girlfriend’s guild already has two down as of last week’s lockout – but I’ll just have to use the time to prepare myself as much as possible, and to be patient in the meantime.

I’ll write more when I have more!

– – –

Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!

Griefers and asshats in Raid Finder

(A bit of a rant-y post.)

Friday night Raid Finder asshattery

Last night, I popped into Raid Finder on Anacrusa to pick up some gear and points to put toward a better feral set than I have at the moment.

Siege of Wyrmrest went fine.

Shortly thereafter, I got into a group that was on Madness of Deathwing.

I should have declined that queue.  I would have saved the repair bill, over an hour consisting of four wipes, and some of the poorest playing I have ever seen in there.

For anyone who has done Raid Finder, you know that there are people in almost every group that belittle others and act like they’re pros while they play like complete shit.  This is what I’m talking about.  I’m not talking about people who are stepping in for the first time, with a character that has just eeked over the ilvl minimum, or who have made mistakes.  I’m talking about blatant asshattery.

First of all, when I joined the group, they were waiting for a tank.  When one joined, he became the raid leader.  He made sure that everyone was ready, blah blah blah, and then proceeded to drop group within the first minute of the fight.  So that was nice.  We eventually wiped because – well – because of a lot of reasons.

People weren’t switching to the Mutated Corruption.  People weren’t switching to the Elementium Bolt.  The first two tries, we made it to the 4th platform, but we took the bolt damage all four times.  I was scratching and clawing away at the thing while it was in the timey wimey zone, and I watched many people continue to attack the Mutated Corruption – or worse, the Arm or Wing – like it was their favorite thing in the world to do.  So everyone was taking more damage than they should have, the tank couldn’t survive Impale and the explosion at the same time, and that was part of the story of this group.

Additionally, some people just decided not to switch to the Mutated Corruption at all.  And by some, I mean at least a quarter of the DPS.  As a result, the Mutated was taking forever to kill.  And because people were shooting the Arm/Wing, we got Hemorrhage a couple of times while the Mutated was still up.

I’ve never seen that before.

After a couple of attempts, we got that sorted out to some extent so that by the third try, almost everyone was switching to the Mutated, and more were switching to the Bolt, but by then we had two new tanks.  One of the tanks died on every platform and ate all of our battle rezzes, and the other, who zoned in specced as Arms, didn’t even attempt to change his spec in the 75 seconds or so before we started the fight, and then complained that he hadn’t had time to re-spec after he died on the second platform.

We also had a massive problem killing the Hemorrhages.  For instance, during our final wipe, when they popped when there was no Mutated Corruption still up, 80% of the DPS were happily pouring their efforts into the Wing, while a rogue, a mage, myself, and maybe one or two others were desperately trying to AoE them down.  What got me was that there was a hunter who was standing about six yards away from the pack of them, completely ignoring them, single targeting the Wing, and afterward he was complaining that it was the “worst LFR he’d ever been in.”  Yeah, you pro, I’m so glad you were there, doing things right, helping make a difference.

That guy was just one example.  There were too many of this kind of person in the group.  So I left.

My first mistake, I guess, was going in on Friday night.  But I was encouraged by the Siege of Wyrmrest run.  I shouldn’t have let myself be.  *shakes head*

– – –

Saturday afternoon Raid Finder griefing

Early this afternoon, I hopped into another RF, hoping that my luck would be better.  And it seemed that it was – we downed Ultraxion and Blackhorn with little trouble.

However, we had several people leave after Blackhorn, and things started to get ugly on Spine.

There was an attempt that someone started while we had no tanks.  There was one where someone started it with half of the healers still dead from the previous wipe, and there was a third premature start after that.  There was one where people were shooting extra Corruptions, and after they were told not to (and they stopped), I watched a rogue (ilvl 397, 4/8H) continue to attack an extra Corruption.  After a priest life-gripped him, he purposefully ran back, and when someone said “kick him” he said, “Why? I’m top DPS!”

I tabbed out at this point, typed his name into the armory, and found him.  I then typed, “[Name] is a troll.  He has 397 gear and is 4/8 heroic.  We’ll kick him after we wipe.”  He responded with “haha” and “your a retard.”  To which I replied, “Yes, I am obviously a retard.”

I hate when people talk like that.

Anyway, we kicked him after the wipe, but there was a new Balance druid in the group who proceeded to do the same thing on the next attempt.  The raid composition was fluctuating like crazy between attempts at this point, and I decided that, after over an hour of this kind of crap, I had better things to do on a Saturday.

So I’m blowing off some steam here, and then I’m going to go for a walk and enjoy the sunshine.

– – –

Big Bear Butt wrote a post recently about people like this, and I felt like I was experiencing his deja vu during these debacles over the past 24 hours.  His post goes way beyond mine to make the point that this kind of behavior – griefing, that is – makes the Raid Finder system broken.  In his words:

We asked Dalra not to kill the tentacles, we begged them, we told them they were kicked the second we wiped if they didn’t stop. They did it anyway, with grim dedication, and in total silence. No taunting, no smack talk, just a dedicated pursuit of wiping the raid.

And when we wiped, we did not kick them, because they left the second we wiped.

We queued, and Dalra was added back to the raid. And left on her own. And was added back. And again. AND AGAIN!

The LFR raid finder KEPT RETURNING DALRA BACK TO THE RAID, because Dalra had succeeded in wiping us once, knew we were going to kick her, so had left on her own and requeued AS A HEALER to find a new raid to screw over.

So, since they hadn’t been kicked from us, we kept getting her right back. Five times, in and left, in and left, with the raid in growing amazement at the way the system was being played.

We finally stopped queueing and did it short a healer.

That’s not just stupid, that’s broken.

Blizzard, anyone out there, I know you care, I know you’re trying.

Please. Just take action, let us find out what it is after you’ve got a plan, but fix this. To have asshats free to wreak havok to this extent on a raid is an embarrassment.

BBB said it, and he has a way better chance of being heard by Blizzard than I do.  I just wanted to be one of many who second the motion.

– – –

Closing thoughts

At this point, I’m glad that I don’t have to run Raid Finder any more.

My hunter and my druid can both raid functionally with adequate gear.  If I want to add more gear as a Feral druid, I can grind Valor Points in the Hour of Twilight heroics.  I rarely play my other hunter or mage, but I can do the same thing for them.  My warrior PvPs for gear, and my paladin and rogue have decent enough gear that, when I begin leveling them in MoP at some point, they should be fine.

I’m also glad that I am on a raid team, and while things are very quiet right now, when MoP arrives we’ll likely be working together to gear up, and eventually will make it past the point of needing the Raid Finder, at least on our main toons.

I think that Raid Finder will be better in the next tier.  I also have to admit that Friday night and Saturday afternoon can usually be a sampling of the worst in RF, but I’ve done it before, and this went beyond my other experiences.  The one issue that I see is that the Spine fight has a highly grief-able mechanic, which is the one related to the Corruptions spawning Amalgamations.  The other fights can handle one or two, or five, people that do the wrong thing.  That fight cannot.

I wonder if Blizzard will take that sort of question into consideration when creating the RF versions of the new raids in MoP.  Taking out mechanics that one or two people can screw the rest of the group with seems to be the name of the game with LFR anyway, right?

Grief-proofing the encounter in Raid Finder by doing something akin to making it impossible for another Amalgamation to spawn while the current one is still alive would fix many of the problems we see on that fight.  Another thing that would be nice would be if only people with Assist or Raid Leader status could start fights like that.  This would lessen the amount of trolling on that end.

It’ll be interesting to see how RF v. 2.0 turns out with respect to griefing / trolling issues that break a group’s ability to succeed, finish the raid, and move on.

– – –

Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc.  Comments are welcome!

Rage tank improvements in Mists of Pandaria; problems with early judgments about redesigns

Some thoughts about rage tanks and how making decisions based on early beta info can, at times, lead to undue worry and poorly-made choices…

Droignon is happy to hear that Shield Slam, his favorite ability, hits like a truck in the MoP beta.

Protection warriors (Guardian druids are also mentioned)

Matthew Rossi, warrior guru at WoW Insider, posted an update on the states of Protection and Fury warriors in beta last night.  It gave me some hope for my warrior*, who is one of three toons that I have who can play a tank spec (I don’t have a DK…).

*My warrior, Droignon, is the only toon I’ve ever brought 100% to max level solely with a Protection spec, and I plan on continuing that trend with him in MoP.  So while he’s an alt that I’ve never really raided with before, I’ve enjoyed playing protection immensely, and hope to do so in MoP.  I may even use him as a real tank.  So the warrior part of this post is pertinent, I assure you!

Early returns on MoP rage tanks have been that their damage was terrible, that they’ve been overly-gutted of rage-generating abilities – passive and active – and have been much more boring to play in beta than they are live.  After I posted a while ago about possibly running as a straight PvP/PvE Balance druid for the first time ever in MoP, I played (for a while) with the idea of making Anacrusa a Guardian.  However, a little bit of research left me feeling less than confident in the state of Guardians in MoP, and Prot warriors were looking similar.  Not coincidentally, both specs use rage as a resource.

Rossi’s article from May 12th, however, gave me hope for both classes, despite the fact that he did not write about druids in his post.  While he has serious concerns about Fury warriors on beta, he seems to be pretty satisfied with the updated state of beta Prot warriors.  It looks like Prot damage is getting better, rage generation will be less of a problem than originally anticipated, defensive abilities – both old and new – seem to be working well, and the spec seems both interesting to play and very functional.

This is good news – a sigh of relief, actually.  And it gives me hope that changes to Guardian / Feral druids in beta will also make that class more exciting to play.

I’m not in beta, so I’m not testing anything myself.  I’ll have to do that when the pre-expansion patch drops.  Therefore, I have to rely on the expertise of others in these types of cases, and that leads me to my next point.

Making premature judgments (a cautionary reminder – mainly for my benefit – for players of all classes)

Next week, the beta will celebrate its two-month birthday.  Well, perhaps there won’t actually be any celebration; however, the date is notable because we’re likely approaching the halfway point of the beta itself, and while nothing is really finalized, we’re starting to get better pictures of how our classes will play.  It’s exciting to see spec redesigns turn a corner and start to really come into their own – particularly when they started off looking awful – and it looks like the Protection warrior could be doing just that.  I’m hoping that I’m proven wrong with druids, too – perhaps when 5.0.1 drops, we’ll find that Feral and Guardian specs are not just viable, but are also exciting and fun specs to play.  Here’s to keeping fingers crossed…

This is a problem, though, in this day and age.  I’m not referring to beta testing and player feedback – that stuff is priceless, and I think the games we play are much better, in general, for it.  However, from a personal standpoint, I find myself latching onto certain “design priorities/goals” that the development team articulates or demonstrates (or both) in early beta.  If it seems like a shitty idea to me, particularly with a spec like Feral druids (i.e. the developers’ constant desire, both spoken and test-built, to tone down special attacks in favor of white – or sustained – damage, which has been going on for years now), the history combined with that idea can make me inclined to abandon the spec, however premature that may prove to be.  It’s a trap I’ve fallen into multiple times, although I think that it’s not entirely without merit that I do so.  However, early betas are probably coloring my impressions of certain classes more than I should be letting them.

It’s something to think about.

– – –

Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc.  Comments are welcome!

Letting go of a long-time main

Lissanna (Restokin) posted recently that she is seriously considering changing mains (away from her moonkin) after years of playing and writing about druids.  Unhappy with how balance plays in Dragon Soul, she’s also less than enthused about how druids are playing in beta, and is contemplating making the change after the Dragon Soul cycle, possibly to a mage.  (Check out her post for more info and comments.)

Changing mains is something I’m familiar with (previous post here).  While I really enjoyed the challenges and playstyle of the feral druid in Wrath of the Lich King, I soured on it, particularly for PvE, in Cataclysm, and am feeling even less positive about the spec in MoP.  While I’ve grown much more comfortable with balance, Anacrusa is no longer my main, as I’ve come to feel that playing my hunter is my greatest pleasure in WoW over the past year and a half.

<< Awesome sauce! >>

I definitely struggled with the switch as it evolved.  For the entirety of Cataclysm, my druid has remained my achievement leader, the character on which I prioritize reputations, professions, PvP, transmogrification, and so on.  I have used my hunter for the majority of my raiding during this expansion, although I have, as I said, grown comfortable enough with the balance “rotation” that I’ve generally been able to perform adequately in the raid encounters I’ve taken my druid into.

For a couple of years (2008 to late 2010), I was all about druids.  I loved playing one, felt a special affinity and familial relationship with other druids – particularly trees and kitties – in both the blogosphere and in game, and was “ever and always” excited about the prospects for the class.  I even rolled a second druid for the express purpose of learning the non-feral specs – a decision that proved fortuitous, both for learning that I don’t really have the mindset for healing and for learning the ways of the balance druid enough to convince me that balance was a viable possibility for my former main in Cataclysm.  At this point, though, that druid alt sits in Stormwind and occasionally makes glyphs for my other toons, and that’s about all it’s good for at this point.

Pulling away from my attachment to my druid, and druids in general, was made easier because of several factors.  Among them were: my own frustrations with playing the class; the retirements of several druid blogs that I followed, which eroded my sense of the community somewhat; the opening of my eyes to the vastness of – and the excitement within – the hunter community; and the sheer enjoyment I got from playing a hunter.  Playing a feral druid was great at one time, and playing a balance druid is functional; playing a hunter, on the other hand, is just awesome.

Personally, if I had changed my main from druid to mage, or to another class with the express intent of playing a high-dps class, I’m fairly certain that I would not enjoy the game as much.  Everyone is different in this regard.  Having an attachment to my main character is something that comes with my personality, and I haven’t ever been attached to another toon like I used to be with my druid, or am with my hunter now.  I enjoy occasionally playing my mage, or taking the hunter alt for a spin, or taking my prot warrior into battlegrounds, or leveling a different class.  However, the attachment to my main is strong.

I empathize with Lissana in her situation.  Ultimately, WoW comes down to doing what you enjoy.  If she finds that she enjoys another class more than her druid – and she’s certainly put plenty of time and focus into that toon and class, only to be disappointed with it over the past year-plus  – I recommend changing.  At the moment, she has a cute little gnome mage that she’s leveling, and I wish her the best with whichever toon she decides to make her new main, if she does go through with that choice.

– – –

Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc.  Comments are welcome!

Why I might abandon the feral spec entirely in Mists of Pandaria*

Kitty at the dummy

*See end of post for title asterisk reference.

A bit of backstory

Back in the period roughly between 2008-10, the feral druid community was blessed with several very useful blogs dedicated to ferals cats and bears.  Since then, some have disappeared – either because the blogger left the game (Feral Aggression – my favorite – and Of Teeth And Claws), or ceased posting (Primal Precision) – while others tend to post way less often nowadays (The Fluid Druid, Think Tank, Druid Of The Moon, etc.).  There are others that I can’t recall at the moment, because they’ve long been absent from my reader.

What’s true about this is that the decline in some of these blogs coincided with my rapid drop in interest in playing as a cat.

In Wrath, I ran as feral for both raids and PvP, killing up to and including all of the end bosses (and Onyxia, Sartharion, and Malygos) except for Yogg-Saron, Algalon, and Hallion, as either a cat or bear.**  I got to be pretty good at it, in large part because of the advice, strategies, theorycrafting, and enthusiasm of these bloggers.

When 4.0.1 hit, expectations for the feral class were low among us, because ferals were weak throughout the beta.  As a result, I didn’t even touch my druid for two days after the patch, focusing (no pun intended) on learning a new rotation with a new resource for my MM hunter.  In the meantime, ferals were buffed in a hotfix to compensate for their low damage, and after that were sitting pretty.  Bleeds were pretty strong from that point until the great kitty Mastery nerf, which happened as Tier 11 raiding was getting into full swing if I recall correctly. Before that, though, PvP as a feral was very fun.  Admittedly, bleeds were likely too powerful, and the nerf was much deserved, but it was great while it lasted.

My Cata feral experience

When ferals lost their ability to shapeshift out of snares, PvP became more difficult, although that was eventually fixed to some extent when Dash and Stampeding Roar gave us the ability to break them on a cooldown.  In general, feral druids have had a strong PvP expansion, with the ability to do some nice burst damage with adequate bleeds and good mobility.  In this expansion, I have gone exclusively feral for PvP, and have enjoyed its mobility, utility, and Skullbash, being able to defend flags well as a bear, and immunity from being sheeped or hexed, as well as from having my bleeds dispelled, among other things.

On the PvE side, things have gone very differently.  Once I hit 85 and ilvl 329 (12/2010), I began running heroic dungeons.  I quickly became very frustrated with the melee PvE experience.  Uptime has always been an issue for melee classes, but it became even more so with the difficulty of heroics at that ilvl, the changes to healing and mana, and the abundance of area damage in places like Throne of Tides.  I found myself having to be away from mobs/bosses quite a bit to stay out of “fire”, self-heal, and to not die in general.  This, among other things, led to me taking a month-long break from the game in January ’11.

When I returned, I stuck with PvP for a while and avoided dungeons on the druid, concentrating instead on my hunter, with whom I got plenty of dungeon experience.  Eventually I got to a point where I wanted to play my druid more, so – since I was much more comfortable playing a ranged toon at that point, and there was a rather well-known issue where T11 content in particular favored ranged – I cobbled together a pretty bad set of balance gear and started learning the spec.  For the remainder of the expansion, other than a couple of times where I’ve tanked, or played feral for a specific boss fight (like Erudax), I’ve played balance exclusively and become fairly comfortable with it.

I still quested as feral for the most part during Cata, although lately I find that I don’t care which spec I’m playing to quest, since my best PvE set is a balance set anyway.  Generally, though, playing a kitty still feels crunchy, bursty, and fairly fast.

Not looking forward to Mists of Pandaria

At least, not as a feral.  Here’s why.

Back to blogs: at this point, there are really only two feral blogs that I follow anymore.  One is The Fluid Druid, as I mentioned above.  The other is one that I began following at the beginning of Cataclysm, Druidify.

Reygahnci at Druidify plays PvP pretty much exclusively.  He is an arena veteran, and I have never done arenas, but I find his insights into PvP as a feral druid to give me better perspectives on my own play.  If you’ve never heard of Druidify, I highly recommend it.  Lately, he posts about once a week.

Recently, Reygahnci began posting about his beta impressions, and his most recent two articles have me feeling pretty pessimistic about playing a feral in MoP.

In the first, he talks about the differences between his level 85 cat on live and beta.  Here is a very small sampling:

  • Savage Roar now buffs all damage by 30% and is considered an enrage, which is easily dispellable.  Live, SR is an 80% buff to white swings only.
  • White swings are much, much more powerful: on live, they hit for 1.5k and Crit for 3k; on beta they hit for 5k and Crit for 10k.  With SR up, they go up proportionally to the Savage Roar buff definitions on live and beta, respectively.
  • Critical Strike is way down, from ~42% live to ~28% on beta.
  • And more.  Check out his post.

In his analysis, Blizzard seems to be moving a lot of melee damage away from burst and toward sustained damage.  Hence, the massive increase in white swing damage, Savage Roar change, and Critical Strike drop.  High sustained damage is going to require high melee-range uptime, as white damage as a percentage of overall damage is going to go up significantly.  Granted, druid mobility looks pretty good in MoP, but this is still a significant negative when it comes to PvP.

In his most recent post, he’s even more blunt in his analysis of the situation: one of the first sentences is basically “Why you should play a monk instead of a feral druid.” In it, he goes through and gives all of the reasons monks are better than ferals, and the evidence is pretty damning: his monk in ilvl 378 gear is significantly out-damaging his ilvl 403 kitty.

One of the worst things he mentions is that monks will be able to dispel bleeds, which is just not cool for ferals (among other specs).  Not cool at all.

Wrapping up

I find myself, here in the beta stage, not looking forward to playing a feral druid in the next expansion.  This is a bit of deja vu, obviously – I felt very similarly at this stage of Wrath.  It’s not a fun feeling.

However, I’m in a different place in some ways with regard to the druid.  For one thing, Anacrusa, while having by far the most achievement points, is not my main raiding toon, and no longer my only PvP toon since I can play the hunter as well.  For another, I’m basically an expansion removed from seriously raiding as a cat druid.  As a semi-competent balance druid, I’m at a place where I feel I have the confidence to not only raid as a moonkin, but to level as such, and also to PvP as balance, when Mists of Pandaria comes out.

It seems like it will be a good time to let the feral thing go.  And this may be true even if they undo some parts of the “sustained damage” philosophy for melee classes.

It does seem like feral is historically one of the more volatile specs.  Perhaps that’s just because I’ve played feral for a while, but between the end of Wrath and now, we’ve finally gotten that interrupt we were missing, were hotfixed to be OP, then nerfed and hobbled by the Mastery and shapeshift changes, had damage tweeks to our Shred and Mangle abilities to make them more similar while still never fixing the positioning issue, and so on.  Made to burst, made to bleed, made to do sustained damage. Given mobility, stripped of mobility, given some mobility back.

Personally, I like a feral druid to be bursty.  Alternatively, I’ll take a druid with strong bleeds.  I’ll even take a druid with a combination of the two.  But I’m not interested in playing a druid that’s as dependent on white damage as Reygahnci and Alaron (The Fluid Druid) see us being.  That just seems both more difficult and stupid – or less fun in general.


*For those hunters who have something against feral druids – and I know there are many out there (OutDPS-ers, WHU-ers, etc., along with those of both classes who hate each other for stealing “their” weapons, which is going away in MoP anyway) – yes, I play a feral druid sometimes, and I am proud to say I’ve done so fairly well.  I also play a night elf hunter.  I don’t give a rip about all of the anti-night elf / anti-feral antagonism; humorous or not, it has no effect on me. 

**I did toy with healing toward the end of the expansion, but that was out of sheer boredom, and I wasn’t very good at it.

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Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc.  Comments are welcome!