Later this week, Druids will find out more specifics about the changes to our class that are coming in Cataclysm. The feeling, at least for me, hearkens back to that first year of vanilla WoW, when each class had it’s own ‘class review’, and you never knew what issues might or might not be addressed, or how your class would change.
Those were the days when ‘flavor of the month’ classes really did come into vogue, as the most common result of a class review was to turn a class inside out, buff the hell out of it, and leave it overpowered in some respects against other classes in PvP or in raiding. The min/maxers would make new alts and powerlevel them just to enjoy being ‘OP’.
Ahh, Warlocks. Damn, remember the great Warlock explosion of 2006? Or was it 2007? The years all blur together after a while.
Fine times. Fine times.
When the time comes and we know more, it’s going to be fun to talk about, speculate, and I’m sure for some people, panic. For now, though, it’s time to talk about the Rage news!
Wait, what? Oh, fine. I guess we don’t get to talk about that yet. Because this is the Big Bear Butt, and before I talk about changes to things, I gotta make sure we’re all on the same page as to what we’ve got NOW.
So, before we start talking about changes, I’m going to recap the state of Druid Rage mechanics in the game as they are right now. A combination recap for experienced players and review for newer Bear tanks.
Druids gain Rage from two basic mechanics;
- Rage gained through inflicting direct damage on enemy targets.
- Rage gained in return for losing health/suffering damage from enemy attack.
Those are the two core methods for gaining Rage.
Rage is a commodity. We spend it in order to use our abilities. The maximum amount of Rage we can have is fixed at 100.
Therefore, we have to count on gaining Rage in a steady stream that matches or exceeds the amount we wish to spend. So long as Rage is gained faster than we need to spend it, we’re fine.
It is also a perishable commodity. If we are out of combat, it begins to decay. So long as we are in combat, it holds steady.
This leads to either chain pulling mobs, running from one group to another so as to hit the next group while the Rage bar is still at full, or by using other abilities to get into or stay in combat.
One example of using techniques to stay in combat between main pulls can be found in Culling of Stratholme. There are many mini trash Skeletons that aren’t really of any importance during the first waves, but while running a long ways to the next pull, you can target a distant Skeleton and fire off Feral Faerie Fire. FFF costs no Rage to use, and will place you into combat to keep your Rage from draining away on the long runs.
When we are in a situation where Rage is gained faster than it is possible for us to spend it, then we are in an ‘infinite Rage’ condition. We can do whatever the heck we want; pop Maul every time it’s triggered by an auto-attack, spam Swipe endlessly, fire off Frenzied Regeneration, the lot without concern for the consequences.
Consequences? Yes.The worst consequences. Not having Rage available when we need to grab, hold and build Threat on enemy targets as DPS opens up on them.
Rage Management is knowing how much Rage your abilities cost, knowing which abilities you need for what situation, prioritizing which abilities to use first depending on the mix of building/holding Threat and survivability, and how to regain Rage when necessary.
The more Rage we have available to us, the more extra abilities we can use, right?
What Blizzards’ stated intention is, is to adjust Rage levels so that no matter what level of content a Feral Druid runs, there will be a consistent amount of Rage available to use our abilities; Not so little that we can’t use our bare bones core functionality, but not so much that we can fire off everything endlessly forever.
A happy medium. A balanced Rage return.
At the moment, the largest active issue for Feral Druids is simply that most of the additional modifiers that increase the amount of Rage regained aren’t available from the Talent tree until later levels.
At the earliest levels, a Feral Druid can feel Rage starved all the time. Even with the spell Enrage, which instantly gives you 20 Rage, plus 10 Rage over the next ten seconds, that’s not much Rage available after the shift to Bear to develop initial Threat on enemy mobs. Especially not with the current AoE-happy DPS.
There are several Talents that all return Rage by adding new situational modifiers. These are all basic adjustments or compensations to the two base Rage return mechanics.
Furor – 1st Tier talent in the Restoration Tree, Furor gives you a chance to gain an additional 10 Rage when you first shift into Bear form. If you were in caster form before the pull, for example casting a Moonfire or Wrath to start a ranged pull, or casting Rejuvenation or Regrowth on yourself to be building self-caused Healer aggro before the pull, then with this Talent as soon as you shift into bear you get 10 more initial Rage to spend.
The downsides to Furor, of course, are that at lower levels a dedicated Feral is spending points outside the Feral tree, and delaying the level in which he or she will gain the ‘good stuff’, requiring an early respec or extended annoyance. Also, if you’re chain pulling in Bear so as not to lose Rage, Furor is doing nothing for you.
Why a Talent like Furor? To give a Feral Druid an option to increase the amount of instant Rage available to use for building Threat in the first seconds of a pull, especially after a delay between pulls.
Intensity – 3rd Tier Resto Talent, which increases the amount of Rage gained instantly from your Enrage spell. Assuming you did start in the Restoration Tree with Furor, and then carried on with Naturalist for the damage increase, the earliest you could even start to take points in Intensity is level 20. That’s 10 levels spent outside the Feral tree for a ‘Feral’ Bear or Cat.
Why a Talent like Intensity? Well, this would be an excellent early Talent for a leveling Bear, as it increases Rage per use of Enrage, and thus you can use it at lulls in instances. At higher levels, with the current rules, you almost never see it taken, simply because there are so many other effective means of generating Rage after the fight has actually started. It doesn’t add a big enough bang up front for how deep you have to go into Resto to get it, to make it a must have at end game.
Primal Fury – a Tier 4 Feral Talent, this returns 5 Rage to you for every successful per Critical Strike on an enemy target. This is a class defining Bear Talent. Let’s say you stayed in the Feral Tree right from the very start, to get your higher Tier Feral Talents as fast as possible.
The earliest you can get into Primal Fury is level 25, and that’s by skipping a very valuable point in Feral Instinct, a point in Feral Swiftness and two points in Savage Fury. Which, frankly, I would recommend while leveling, since Rage generation really is such a pain in the butt at early levels. You can go back and fill in those other points soon enough.
This is a must have, defining Bear Talent.
Natural Reaction – a Tier 6 Feral Talent, and this causes you to gain 3 Rage per Dodge. Natural Reaction, again if the Feral tree is the only one used at first, opens up at 35. This is one of the key reasons why it pays to balance your Avoidance against your Mitigation. Dodging not only avoids damage, it gives you more Rage. Nummy.
For Feral Druids that are leveling, even with these Talents you have to have been focusing on the Agility/Crit/Dodge stats to get back the true benefits of them. If your Crit is very weak, or your Dodge is very weak, then you’re not getting the same Rage back that you could.
At the normal range of level 80 gear, there are very few problems in Rage generation. Playing in Heroics and early raids brings plenty of damage to gain Rage from.
In lower-end content, we won’t be taking hardly any damage, so we won’t get Rage back from that, but When we fight that lower level content in our top-end gear, the Rage gained from Dodging and from Crits on enemies simply means that we have to pull larger groups and Swipe a ton.
When we may be offtanking as the number two tank on one target, the lack of incoming damage can be pretty difficult for us.
Without incoming attacks to Dodge or high incoming damage to feed us Rage, we are left with dealing direct damage and Critting to generate the Rage. Well, and also using Enrage, and managing the ability priorities. Why look, a challenge! How fun.
You’ll frequently see Druids in high-end gear wanting to chain pull and grab large mobs of enemies, simply so that Rage does not decay, and Swipe can have a chance for multiple Crits.
We respond to the mechanics. We adapt our playstyle to accomodate them efficiently.
Now, there is one last thing to recap. Ability/Spell costs.
When I mentioned prioritizing your abilites based on what they do and when you need to use them, you base part of your decision on Rage cost versus Threat returned.
Feral Faerie Fire costs zero Rage, and returns a ton of Threat. It applies to only one mob, so when trying to quickly grab a group of enemies it’s not your first choice. Swipe or (in emergencies) Challenging Roar are. But for the most cost-effective high Threat generating tool, Feral Faerie Fire is tops for single target threat.
Maul generates our second highest level of Threat, and when Glyphed does it on two enemies for the same cost. However, it is very expensive in terms of Rage used per activation, and it’s not instant; you queue it up and it fires off replacing your next normal auto-attack swing. Bears have a slow swing time, so it’s not instant. But it is a ton of Threat.
In using Maul, you have the choice of using it and blowing through Rage fast, or not using it and losing your #2 highest Threat generator.
Also, when using Maul, keep in mind the “Rage comes from damage dealt” mechanic. Maul costs Rage to use, so Maul does not return Rage from the damage it does. Maul replaces your next white auto-attack swing, which would have generated Rage from damage done, so Maul not only cost you Rage up front, but it also cost you the Rage you would have generated by your next normal auto-attack swing.
Swipe is a bread-and-butter group Threat generator. It does decent Threat, and on as many targets as are near you. And each target can have it’s own juicy little crit. The drawback (or at least thing to watch for) is that Swipe is not cost-effective to use on single targets, on a Rage per Threat generated basis. When planning priorities, Swipe should be stopped on single targets and you should switch to something like Lacerate instead.
Depending on your Rage management style, you may find it’s better to stop Swipe even earlier, when there are three or fewer targets left, and target the different mobs in sequence, using Lacerate or FFF or Mangle on each one in turn.
Again, planning on priorities based on Rage available, enemy still left standing, Threat per second and Threat per Rage, etc.
Whew! That’s a lengthy recap on Rage. Did you learn anything?
Probably not, but I bet you didn’t realize just how much you know about how your class works that you take for granted, until you have to sit downand spell it all out. There’s a lot affected by even one aspect of the class, let alone how things will change during an entire revamp.
The new stuffs.
Now, having gone over all of that, let’s see what they’re seeing as problems, and how they are suggesting things will change.
* Warriors/druids in the lowest levels of gear can be Rage-starved.
Yes, we covered this above. This is exacerbated by not having some of the nicer Rage-returning Talents available until past level 35.
* Warriors/druids in the highest levels of gear no longer have to manage their Rage when it becomes infinite.
Very true. After a certain point, we regain Rage faster than we can possibly spend it. This doesn’t hurt anything directly, but it does remove the need to manage priorities and master class skills based on Rage availability. And I, personally, am in favor of having to use skill in choosing what to use when make a difference.
* Warrior/druid tanks lose Rage income as they improve their gear and take less damage.
This is questionable to me. I have personally found that, in most of these situations, there is usually some action the Feral Druid could have done to keep themselves in enough Rage, up to and including respeccing Talents for more instant Rage, changing gearing priorities to more Dodge, carrying Rage Potions and using them at critical moments in fights just like managing any other long cooldown ability, and prioritizing what spells to use and increasing the use of FFF in a rotation on single targets.
* The gameplay of warrior and druid tanks loses a lot of depth when massive boss hits means never having to manage Rage.
Basically, the same as the second point. Sure.
* Heroic Strike and Maul are effective, but tedious abilities for using up extra Rage.
I don’t know about tedious. I’ve been doing this a long damn time, and I’m not sitting here complaining about having to press a Maul button when it’s available. However, I would go along with calling it boring, and above all, unwieldy. Having Maul replace an upcoming swing, instead of firing off exactly when I need it to, removes a level of control that I absolutely want to have on my #2 Threat generating tool. Assuming it maintains it’s high Threat output in it’s new form.
* In general, warriors and druids don’t have enough control over their Rage.
Well, heck. I just don’t agree with that. I think I went into insane detail above on the all the ways Rage gets generated, and in almost every one of those there was a measure of control involved. Better Critical Strike, more Dodge, Rage pots, shifting and Furor, Enrage… seems to me that it’s better to say that we don’t have consistent Rage generation across all levels of content. We’ve got control, it’s just a hell of a hard job early on, especially with the staggered roll out of abilities.
So, now on to their change announcements.
Rage will be normalized in Cataclysm. This will make the Rage gained by characters more consistent and avoid drastic differences between low-end and high-end gear.
The concept of normalized Rage may leave a negative impression on some veteran players, as we tried it once before in The Burning Crusade and it wasn’t successful, resulting in them feeling weakened. However, we think that the concept is still sound — it was just that the previous implementation didn’t balance the values correctly, leading to players being Rage-starved. That is not the goal. As part of the change, we want to give warriors and druids a lot of ways to control their rage, so even in the worst-case scenarios they won’t feel like they lack the resource to do their job.
Okay, I’m going to take this opportunity to make a joke. I love hearing someone present a plan, and then when you ask them why they’re trying the same thing that failed before, what they tell you is, “I know it’s been tried before and failed, but the plan is sound, the reason it failed last time is that it wasn’t done by smart enough people (or wasn’t done right, or we didn’t know enough, or they didn’t have enough data, whatever). We’re smarter than them, because we know we won’t make those same mistakes. So this time it will work. Trust us.”
It may be true, it may not be true.
It’s still a hilarious argument.
1) Rage is no longer generated based on damage done by auto-attacks. Instead, each auto-attack provides a set amount of Rage, and off-hand weapons will generate 50% of the Rage main hands do. This amount is based on a constant formula which factors in the base swing speed of the weapon. This means the Rage gained should be averaged out between fast and slow weapons. The constant formula also gives us the ability to easily increase the rage gained if it feels too low (or reduce it if is too high). We are also implementing the following mechanics, which will still allow rage to improve to some extent as you improve gear:
o If the attack is a critical strike, it will generate 200% Rage.
o Haste will accelerate swing times to generate Rage faster.
Okay, seriously now.
First, as mentioned before, white auto-attacks that do not cost Rage to perform generate Rage based on the damage they do. This change is described in such a way as to be clear to Warriors, who have weapon variables to take into account.
For Druids, what this does is make it clear that the number of attacks we make will generate a constant predictable stream of incoming Rage, based mathematically on Hit chance/Expertise and on our fixed Bear Paw swing speed that does not vary from equipped weapons. It also tells us that, if we continue to use Agility in Cataclysm on Leather gear, we will continue to increase our Critical Strike chance, and those Crits will be big Rage boosts.
2) Rage from damage taken will no longer be based on a standard creature of the character’s level, but instead will be based on the health of the warrior or druid. Again, there is a constant that is multiplied by the rage generated in order to allow for fine-tuning. This calculation ignores all damage reduction from armor, absorption, avoidance, block, or similar mechanics, so improving your gear will not reduce Rage gained.
The implication here, to my eyes, is that they are saying right now, live in the game, that the amount of Rage you get from taking damage is based on how much damage they expect a single enemy attack should cause you. If you are level 80 in a Heroic, they have an expectation for how much damage you should take from a blow, and set a reasonable Rage level return for that.
Let’s say, for fun, that they expect you to take 1,000 damage actually suffered from a smack upside your head in a Heroic. Then they say you get 3 Rage for suffering that 1,000 damage, based on how often you ought to be smacked per minute.
They added the Rage per successful Dodge, so that still works. Whether you get hit or if you Dodge it, you still get the same Rage.
So, if your gear is so good that it currently mitigates a lot of that damage, maybe reduces it down to 500 actual damage per hit, then you’re getting effectively half the Rage they figured on per minute.
It’s just an example for purposes of clarification, roll with it.
If that is the case, than sure, the more mitigation you’ve got, the less Rage you’d see, unless you are Dodging frequently enough and Critting frequently enough to compensate for it.
Now, I like the sound of having Rage returned be unaffected by gear levels/mitigation standards. That tells me that they don’t want you having your Rage return be lower if you vastly outgear the content, or be higher (infinite Rage) if you undergear the content.
They want what they set to be steady, so if you get hit, you get a flat Rage return, unaffected by gear.
However, by saying that the amount of Rage returned will be tied to your Health, the implication (which is not spelled out this way, it’s my interpretation) is that what they are comparing is your Health against the difficulty level of the content, and raising or lowering base Rage return per hit on a sliding scale.
To illustrate this interpretation, if you were level 80 running a friend through Deadmines, your armor mitigation would not be what was affecting your Rage return. Instead, it would be your insanely high Health pool agasint the content.
So at-level content would be fine, but the lower the level of the content, the higher your Health pool would be against intentions, and the lower your Rage return would be.
I’m interested in your interpretations, of course, and knowing how things work, there have probably been 10 Blue posts clarifying this already that I haven’t seen.
Still, this would certainly improve Rage returns as gear improves if you were running at-level content, regardless of how it affects running your friends through Deadmines.
3) We will provide warriors and druids with more instant sources of rage. For example, the warrior shouts are changing to work more like the death knight ability Horn of Winter. Instead of Battle Shout consuming Rage, it will generate Rage but have a short cooldown. Both classes will have additional methods to generate Rage in an emergency or bleed off Rage when they have too much.
This, to me, sounds very promising. Changing Demoralyzing Roar to generate Rage with an added cooldown, and keeping Enrage (and it’s armor reduction, but maybe returning Enrage to a rage-over-time), would be a positive change by itself, especially at lower levels. But even better is the promise of more options, perhaps even tactical options, that would be there when we have extra Rage to deal maybe more damage or nail down more Threat, or would be there to generate more Rage in an “oh shit” situation. As I said way up above, having the class abilities require skill and judgment to use properly is something I am all in favor of.
4) All “on next swing” attacks in Cataclysm are being removed. Heroic Strike and Maul will be instant swings that cost a variable amount of Rage. For example, imagine Heroic Strike costs between 10 and 30 Rage. You must have at least 10 Rage to use the attack, but it will consume all available Rage up to a maximum of 30. Any Rage consumed above the minimum will cause the ability to hit harder, and in some cases much harder. We will tune the ability so that it’s generally not a good idea to hit it when you have low Rage (unless everything else is somehow on cooldown) but becomes a more attractive button the higher your Rage.
Now, on face value and trusting the Developers, this rocks my bear socks.
Do I want Maul on instant cast when I want it? Yes.
Do I like the idea that if I’m patient, and let my Rage build up, I’ll get more value for my money on use? Yes.
What worries me is the Threat balancing. Maul really is a huge chunk of current Threat generation on single targets, and with moving targeting around on Mauls, even on groups.
If you remove Maul from the mix by placing it on the GCD and encouraging you hold off on it until Rage is plentiful, then you are creating a sizeable hole in Druid Threat generation. Remember, we like the added damage from Maul, but a good tank isn’t looking at DPS output, they are looking for Threat per second output.
So long as the upcoming changes include alternate sources of increased Threat generation in the early, first seconds of a pull, then this is nothing but win to me.
Our goal is for each character’s Rage to not be always high or always low, but rather a resource that needs to be managed properly by the player.
As an ending statement, I find nothing but reason to applaud.
We will see how the implementation goes, but truthfully speaking… I see nothing but increased fun if things go according to stated intentions.
Really. I don’t want to seem like I’m riding the kool-aid train, but I can see a good, solid, valid reason for changing the thing they announced, and all of it stems around increased control of Rage levels to balance the challenge between highs and lows, and to give us increased flexibility and control.
I’m feeling pretty optimistic.