Feral Druid Feedback -- Build 21249 -- 9-Mar

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Community Manager
#1 - March 9, 2016, 9:58 p.m.
Blizzard Post
Please feel free to reply to this thread with feedback you have on this specialization in the most recent version of the Legion Alpha.

This thread and subforum are for class feedback. We may not be attentive to other threads on this subject. Please confine discussion in this thread to issues related to this spec only.

Thank you!
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Game Designer
#5 - March 10, 2016, 12:31 a.m.
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When you say its tuned low, are you aware of its current interaction for us? It doesn't actually effect bleeds at all. I would say thats NO tuning in regards to our abilities. Its actually close to a completely worthless stat at the moment in comparison to everything else (even Versatility, and people don't really enjoy this stat either).

So i would say, design is where the issue is. Bleeds where not designed to interact with haste, vice versa.

No, there's no intention for Haste to affect Bleeds. As far as we can tell, the idea that Haste is worthless is based on live tuning, not alpha design. There's no design issue with Haste for Ferals that we see, merely tuning. We'd love to hear what the concerns actually are, if any.
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Game Designer
#11 - March 10, 2016, 1:30 a.m.
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03/09/2016 04:54 PMPosted by Tinderhoof
Since a majority of our damage comes from bleeds, and a majority of the talents on our artifact boost bleeds, and there are specific talents which boost only bleeds and Haste does not boost any of that damage there is a concern. We have almost unlimited energy right now and it does not make gameplay better. Gone is the energy pooling and methodical rotation. So Haste making us have even more energy does not seem a benefit nore does it fit well with our class fantasy and as evidenced by live having more than we know what to do with doesn't make us better.

I think you just identified the tuning issues, no?
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Game Designer
#21 - March 10, 2016, 7:56 a.m.
Blizzard Post
03/09/2016 05:51 PMPosted by Pawketsz
As long as haste does not benefit bleeds, haste will continue to be poor unless its contribution to our direct damage is substantially increased to compensate. That is a design issue, not a tuning issue, because the problem cannot be resolved without changing the mechanics of the spec.

Mastery doesn't affect all of Feral's damage, yet is of high value. Similarly, Haste could be of high value, if things were tuned differently, without affecting all of Feral's damage.

At its core, Feral's damage is made up of direct damage (Autoattacks, Shred, Ferocious Bite), and bleed damage (Rake and Rip). Haste improves the direct damage, and Mastery improves the bleed damage. Balancing both sides of that relationship ensures that Haste and Mastery stay balanced. There are many elements on both sides of that equation (and thus, many tuning knobs). Baseline ability costs and damage, and especially talents. (People also commonly forget the impact talents have on stat values, only paying attention to whatever the current meta follows as the highest DPS talent selection.

Currently on live, that equation is rather unbalanced in favor of the bleeds. That's supported by base damage, and heavily reinforced by talents that favor them (Bloodtalons most of all), and a current tier set bonus that effectively acts as a large amount of Haste (reducing the value of more Haste). If the direct damage were stronger, and Haste-favored talents (such as Lunar Inspiration) were stronger, and set bonuses were different, that could swing the other way.

Artifacts are a new wrinkle in balancing this equation for Legion, and we'll have to ensure that it doesn't skew that balance. I agree that artifact traits currently favor bleeds, and we can tune the artifact to solve that, and also tune the core abilities to assist.

We'll get there, and we'll certainly find the assistance of the Feral theorycrafters valuable. Please keep an open mind, and consider all of the possibilities, not just the accepted meta. Thanks!
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Game Designer
#23 - March 10, 2016, 8:50 a.m.
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I agree that the core gameplay is looking really good right now (especially once the T18 set bonus is gone), and we don't want to change that.
I don't think the gameplay will change much due to stat balance tuning, though. (At least, I'm not looking for it to change). In fact, unlike many of our rotations, I think the Feral one is fairly resilient to change. In many other specs, it can be a 'house of cards', where it's challenging to adjust tuning on one thing, without risking breaking the rotation when you consider some other talent setup or ability. Feral, however, is fairly elegant in its mechanics. To break it you'd have to really push some ability so far that Ferocious Bite beat Rip or something silly, which is easy to avoid doing.

Regarding the commonly suggested change of making bleeds tick faster with haste, we see that as solving the stat balance problem, while actually making a bigger problem worse. The fact that the direct damage is so much weaker than bleeds is a problem that we need to fix anyway. If Feral bleeds ticked faster with Haste, that would just be doubling down even further on "Bleeds are all amazing, DD is terrible, it hardly matters if you Shred/Bite well." The gameplay works best when you care about both sides of that situation. Making bleeds tick faster with Haste would just be pushing even more weight onto that side of the table. Making them balanced isn't going to change that gameplay about caring about bleed uptime. In fact it will increase the skillcap. The more unbalanced that equation is, the less skillfully balancing both of them matters.

EDIT: Had some further discussion with Tinderhoof and Purrowl and a few others in their chat. To summarize that:

Unlike Mastery, Haste affects your gameplay feel. You actually use more abilities, and your ratios of abilities changes. Mastery just makes your existing ability usage stronger. It's more passive.

Yeah, the T18 set bonus really hurt Feral gameplay, no question. And really really hurt the value of Haste.

Super simple illustration of what's wrong with Feral tuning right now, and why it's a tuning problem: Consider your finishers. Rip and Ferocious Bite. Haste gives you more Bites (and it does so at greater-than-linear rate; a little Haste significantly increases your Bite usage). But that's not valuable, if Bite is weak. Rip needs to be stronger than Bite for the rotation to work, but the larger that difference, the more Mastery beats Haste. Right now, in Legion raid gear, a single Rip cast will likely do ~1.2million damage. A single Bite cast will likely do ~300k damage. That's an astoundingly massive difference. With a difference like that, it's no wonder that Haste sucks. But if that Bite did ~1.0million damage, nothing about your rotational priorities would change, but you'd value Haste more, and you'd value efficiently generating and using your combo points more.

The same can be said about Rake and Shred. Rake currently does ~500k, and Shred does ~130k. Again, no wonder Haste sucks, when all it gives you is more of those ~130k Shreds, not more Rakes.

Looking forward to how we might solve this... Energy regeneration will likely look something like what it was in early Warlords, before T18 set bonuses gave you too much energy to know what to do with. The simplest starting point is to literally triple the damage of Shred and Ferocious Bite. I don't know offhand if that's too much or too little, but it's something in that ballpark.

The goal for Rip vs Ferocious Bite tuning is that Rip is "clearly stronger", but that can be achieved with a difference of 15%-30%. It doesn't need to be 300% stronger. Same goes for Rake vs Shred, or Moonfire vs Shred.

I hope this helps clarify things. We hope to be on the same page as you all, especially for theorycrafting collaboration.