Alas Poor Powershifting, I Knew Thee Well

So, didja hear the news? Apparently all the clever little kitties out there have been exploiting the system by Powershifting. Apparently, instead of saying “Hey, what a neat unintentional consequence of furor our players discovered! How can we use this to make the game more interesting yet still keep things from being Overpowered?” Nope, it’s getting a general nerf-bat. That’s right kids, thanks to Kal for giving me a heads-up, but Powershifting, as we know it, will be no more.

I could continue to QQ about the vanilla-izing nerf-bat and mention other games where unintended consequences were discovered and embraced, but that’d spawn a rant, and not something I’m trying to accomplish here.

What I want to talk about is an ability that’s near and dear to every druid’s heart, the reason we all chose to roll druids and my very favorite thing in the whole wide world about playing a druid. That’s right, our adaptability! Nerf balance? I’ll go feral! Nerf that I’ll still rip faces (somehow)! I don’t care what you do to me, I’ll adapt!

Here’s the posts, both blue and non, about the energy changes coming in WotLK, and their affect on the ever-resourceful druid community.

Jimmythenumbers says:

The Cat Form energy regeneration mechanics you are seeing in the current beta build are a bug resulting from “powershifting” being partially fixed. We changed energy regeneration on Cat Form so that it occurs continuously no matter what form the Druid is in. However, the second half of the change did not make it in before the data pull for the build. When Furor triggers on shifting to Cat Form, your energy will be set to the minimum of its current value and 40. So, if you are over 40, it goes to 40. If you are less than 40, you gain no energy, but keep the amount you gained through normal regeneration. If Furor does not trigger or you do not have the talent, energy is set to 0.

“Powershifting” was never an intended mechanic. However, it has become so prevalent among Feral Druids that if we did not eliminate it, we would have to balance around it. So, this change effectively eliminates the possibility to gain extra energy regeneration through the Furor talent. For the intended use: shift out, heal self a bit or Innervate or Tranquility or Rebirth, go back to Cat Form, it will work as well as it ever has.

Followed by:

Astrylian!, who says


Q u o t e:

This part is true.

Furor IS still giving you energy….you can shift out and cast spells and assuming your energy would have ticked back anyway, you will shift back to cat with 40. The only difference is that now powershifting is pointless.

It’s quirky things like powershifting that have made the devs hesitant to buff our dps. It’s always felt more like an exploit than a cool ability, imo, and I’m fine with them taking it out so long as they man up to their promises to make cat dps competitive.


I just confirmed that nothing has changed since 8820 on beta currently. I’m asking Jimmythenumbers about which of his contradictory lines is correct, not your guess at it. As is,


Q u o t e:
When Furor triggers on shifting to Cat Form, your energy will be set to the maximum of its current value and 40.


…directly contradicts…


Q u o t e:
So, if you are over 40, it goes to 40. If you are less than 40, you gain no energy, but keep the amount you gained through normal regeneration. If Furor does not trigger or you do not have the talent, energy is set to 0.


If the first line is true, it’s a minuscule buff from on live (only difference besides the tick timing is you wouldn’t lose energy if you powershift when energy>40), and still allows powershifting, which contradicts the whole point of his post.
If the second line is true, it’s a significant nerf, actually reducing the energy gain when powershifting (to 0, in most PvE), and goes in line with the point of his post.

Originally, I was hoping they’d remove powershifting in WotLK, because I didn’t want to have to code it in Rawr cause it’s nasty complex. But after playing with the powershifting mechanic in beta, I found it so fun, I would hate to play without it, and found it would be easier than I thought to code.

Which is then ‘clarified’ as:

Jimmythenumbers says:

You are right, I typed faster than I was thinking. Your energy will be set to the MINIMUM of your current amount of energy and 40, or, from another point of view, it will be maxxed at 40. Sorry. I’ll correct my post.

Here’s an example:

At time 0 I have 0 energy and I shift out of Cat Form, but I’m on global cooldown for 1 sec. from the last Cat Form ability I used. I cast Rebirth on a fallen party member, that takes 2 sec. During that 3 sec, I gained an additional 30 energy. I shift back to Cat Form with the Furor talent and have 30 energy. WIthout the talent, I have 0.

Another:

At time 0 I have 0 energy from killing a mob with a critical Ferocious Bite. I shift out of Cat Form. Once the global has passed from the FB (1 sec). I regrowth myself (2 sec). and Lifebloom myself (1.5 sec.) I go back to Cat Form. 4.5 seconds passed, so I am entitled to 45 energy, but Furor cuts me off at 40 energy when it fires.

Another:
I’m in Bear Form as an off-tank. My mob dies, and I shift to Cat Form to help kill the next target. I’ve been in Bear Form for longer than 10 seconds, so my energy bar is full, but Furor cuts me off at 40 energy.

Yes, there are some cases like the first one, where if I have no latency, never pause for any decision-making, and only cast one spell out of Cat Form, I get less than 40 energy. However, in most cases I will always be at at least 40, and so Furor will give me the intended amount of energy without creating the degenerate “powershifting” case.

Ok, so I don’t know about you, but the first time I read through this it was about as clear as mud. After knuckling my brow and picking out pieces that made sense (‘current amount of energy and 40’ could be taken to mean any number of things) I’ve come to my own conclusions.

Powershifting, in the past, has been a way for druids to convert mana into energy through the Furor talent, thus allowing us to attempt to be viable dps in end-game. (we really are kind of borked on the dps side of things, even at my best in my full dps kit it’s a struggle for me to maintain 600dps)

This conversion of mana into ‘free’ energy was not intended and it’s being ‘fixed’ in the following manner (as I understand it):

Energy will continue to tick while in caster form. If you’re running along, have been in caster form and have a full energy bar then shift into cat your energy bar is wiped.

Taking the skill furor (5 ranks) will allow you to keep up to 40 of those energy points.

If you’re dpsing and you have 0 energy and execute a powershift (/cast !Cat Form) you will find yourself back in cat form with 0 energy.

So, in essence, there is no point to shifting out and back in to cat form without doing something else in between (like casting some heals or a rebirth). In essence, it’s a soft cooldown on furor. Furor is designed as a skill to soften the blow when a druid finds it necessary to shift forms and perform some other task as opposed to an energy-gaining buff skill. (I believe there’s been some druid changes that give us one of those now, more on that in another post)

You might be thinking that you can now ditch that /cast !Cat Form button, but I wouldn’t reccomend it. Personally, I’m pretty bad at powershifting, but I do find that button extremely handy for getting out of snares. I used to simply click my cat form button twice but between server lag and my own unremarkable reaction time I’ve found myself stuck, stunned, or dead in caster form more often than not.

You would use this macro in a number of situations

  1. Getting away from the Shade of Aran when he gets ready to cast his huge AoE explosion. (Powershifting removes the movement debuff)
  2. Getting away from Rage Winterchill when he freezes everyone in place just before he ice blocks someone. (I like to run in the direction of the healers)
  3. Running after that pesky little mage in BG who thinks they can frost nova you to the ground, or that foolish druid that thinks rooting you would actually accomplish anything. (Seriously now, why would you ever try to root another druid? Waste of time and mana when a feral can just be sleeped)

I’m sure there’s more applicable circumstances to use Powershifting, even after 3.0, but I’m sure you get the idea now.

For those of you that have never done much Powershifting life will continue as normal. For those of us who do well, we’ll just have to put Tiger’s Fury back on our cast bar now won’t we?

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  • Comments (5)
  1. “Powershifting, in the past, has been a way for druids to convert mana into energy through the Furor talent, thus allowing us to attempt to be viable dps in end-game. (we really are kind of borked on the dps side of things, even at my best in my full dps kit it’s a struggle for me to maintain 600dps)”

    I’m sort-of glad of this change, I have to admit. It did always seem a little bit like cheating to me – though I do hope they will consequently buff feral dps to be equivalent to the numbers they hit whilst powershifting – kitties should not have to rely on exploiting a mechanic for good dps in my opinion!

    Through powershifting one of our feral kitties hits around 1.2 – 1.3k dps in Mount Hyjal – not that far behind similarly geared rogues.

    One fun powershifting story for you –

    The feral druid I mentioned above was dps-ing on Kaz’rogal in Mount Hyjal – the dude with the mana drain and explodifying when your mana is low. Suddenly, the whole melee group died. Can you guy what happened? Yup, he power-shifted with low mana with the mark of Kaz’Rogal ticking, was unlucky enough to get caught by a warstomp and BOOM. *grin*

    /hug
    /vanish

    • Tigerfeet
    • August 29th, 2008

    Heeeeeeee :3 that story reminds me of our raiding roster on the nights we take down Solarion. For dps it invariably reads something like this

    lolret | Somebody | Don’t blow up the raid
    chicken | Somebody | Don’t blow up the raid
    arcane-y | Somebody | Don’t blow up the raid

    • Songwhistle
    • September 11th, 2008

    LOL good story regarding powershiftning.

    On Kaz’Rogal i usually boost my +heal and int rather than spirit and shift to cat when marks comes. i do this for the first part of the fight until marks begin coming faster. that way i can spam heal without loosing much mana in the beginning and just simply keep hots running on tank while in cat form.

    reduced mana costs for shifting is advised otherwise only do it short term.

    Bu t at the end i haven’t used a pot and have usually given my innervate to a priest or something.

    • Psyrix
    • July 2nd, 2010

    Why don’t they just get rid of faildom energy regen that plagues this class and use something they know to to do with energy regen, use the same mechanics as rogues, sure it will derive from the druid as its class but hell i would take combo regen over energy starving anyday.

      • Tigerfeet
      • July 3rd, 2010

      Just to be clear – This was written before Wrath of the Lich King was released 😉 It’s also been about a year since I last played WoW. Last I had played the skill Tiger’s Fury made up for the loss of powershifting quite well, though I can’t tell you now if that’s still the case.

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