[WotLK] Stealth change to Feral

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WoW Community Council
#1 - April 10, 2023, 8:28 p.m.
Blizzard Post

Is this a mistake?
If this is a response to the PvE DPS buff ferals received last week, why is this the change being made?
This affects PvP and Feral tanks, not just PvE Feral DPS.

For reference, Naturalist is supposed to be 10%, not 5%, but is currently 5% on live.

Edit: Update, the change was reverted as outlined here:

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WoW Classic Game Producer
#5 - April 11, 2023, 3:14 a.m.
Blizzard Post


I think it’s fair to ask for some clarification on these adjustments, and we think this whole situation deserves a bit of a post-mortem as well, so I’ll bite and do my best to provide as much insight as I can here. I don’t know how satisfying this will be, but I’ll do my best.

So, What Happened?
Essentially the original Druid adjustments last week were merely meant to de-emphasize the “Bearweaving” playstyle and smooth out the feral druid rotation, as our original post highlights. I’m not going to rehash all of that here, but the original logic was simply that Bearweaving is unintuitive, has an impact on how your raid behaves, and is simply not something that would have been permitted to persist had it been widely used in original Wrath of the Lich King. While increasing or decreasing damage wasn’t really the main goal per se, we knew it would impact damage, likely dramatically for lesser skilled players in particular. For the most part, this actually was fairly successful, particularly for the average feral player who did not Bearwave before.

However, it’s safe to say we definitely underestimated the level of buff this would be for top-end players, and the net effect was that this ended up being a much larger buff across all skill levels than we had intended.

Looking at it over the next several days, our team considered several options and decided that the change with the fewest moving parts is an adjustment to the Naturalist talent. All told, adjusting the damage increase from these talents from 10% to 5% would have decreased the top end players’ output down from the ~6-12% damage increase on most bosses to around half that increase, which felt better than reverting the original change entirely.

As many players quickly pointed out however, this adjustment has much further-reaching impact than just a PvE nerf of course, particularly in PvP. This of course runs directly counter to one of the goals we called out last week for our first set of changes, so we relatively quickly reverted the Naturalist change this evening, which leads us to where we are now.

Going Forward
Having had some time to reflect on all of this, I think there are a few key lessons we can learn here and apply to any future adjustments we may feel we need to make.

  1. Put these kind of adjustments on a PTR first, period. PTRs allow us to measure twice and cut once, and we should have used this tool to help us better evaluate both changes.

  2. Communicate intent better for every change of this magnitude, including follow-up adjustments. This goes hand-in-hand with the lesson above.

As painful as this was, this is a good reminder as to why putting these kinds of changes out for public testing before we commit to them is a good idea. Ultimately our team are all humans, and we make mistakes, or may fail to consider all angles. It’s frustrating when these mistakes cause confusion or uncertainty, and frankly just isn’t very “classic”. We can do better.

I’ll start wrapping this up by saying that for now we don’t have any further adjustments planned for Druids, but we are going to be watching the performance of Feral DPS over the coming weeks and may look into testing and getting feedback on additional refinements to our original Omen of Clarity change when we stand up the patch 3.4.2 PTR to test Trial of the Crusader and other Phase 3 content.

Lastly, and for transparency, we wanted to let you know that we have been experimenting with some foundational adjustments to Deep Wounds and Ignite to fix the very authentic–but very frustrating–“Munching” effect that causes these spells to not stack properly when two attacks that add to their magnitude land at the exact same time. This is a tricky issue to solve as it will require completely rebuilding how these spells work, which is a risky change. Looking to the lessons above, we are going to wait until we have those adjustments fully fleshed out and can get them tested carefully on a PTR before pushing any adjustments to these spells live. Please keep an eye out for those adjustments coming to the Wrath Classic PTR over the coming weeks.

Thank you for your patience with us on this, and apologies for the confusion and uncertainty. This was a good reminder of the right and wrong way to go about doing these things, and we are going to do our very best to do better going forward.