Increasing Feral Druid's Energy Regen Using Weak Troll's Blood Potion in Burning Crusade Classic
About the Author
I am an avid Classic WoW fan and theorycrafter with roots back in retail TBC. I mained a warlock during TBC and Wrath, and frequented the Elitist Jerks theorycrafting forums back then as a lurker. One of my favorite aspects of the game was the offline effort to model and understand each spec in order to optimize performance. I currently main a feral druid in Classic, and have taken a more active role in theorycrafting the spec. I create sim tools and stat weight calculators for tanking and cat DPS, and am a moderator on the
druid class Discord
where we collaborate on these tools and help out players of all skill levels (ranging from casual players to competitive speedrunners) with gearing and playstyle decisions. Feral druids are in an exciting spot in Classic for tanking especially, as the predominant meta around gearing has been reshaped by the Classic community compared to vanilla and private server expectations. I am excited to continue furthering our understanding of feral druids in TBC Classic, and we already have sim tools we're working on to that end. Come join the druid Discord if you'd like to participate!
The Feral Druid community has been in uproar over the last few weeks due to recent changes to the energy regeneration system that were implemented by Blizzard just at the pre-patch launch. This article will go over what these changes are, how they impact the performance and gameplay of feral druids, and absurd workarounds discovered by the community to compensate. There has been a lot of confusion and misinformation floating around on Reddit and the WoW forums about these issues, so hopefully we'll correct that here and get everyone on the same page about what happened and why.
The Feral Druid community's top scientists have come together to find a solution!
How Energy Regeneration Changed in Patch 2.2
The genesis of the feral community's current frustration was a broad change to game mechanics implemented in Patch 2.2 of original TBC, which impacted how every class resource functioned: Mana, Energy, Health, and Rage. This section will provide an overview of what these changes are and why there were implemented originally.
How did Energy regen work in vanilla WoW?
Before discussing changes during TBC, we must first understand how the Energy regeneration system worked initially in vanilla WoW and early TBC. The original system, which we'll call "2.0 regen", worked as follows:
All player resources (Mana, Energy, Health, and Rage) regenerate discretely on a fixed 2 second "tick".
On every tick, each resource is increased by the
current regeneration rate
times 2 seconds. So for example, Energy regenerates at a baseline rate of 10 Energy per second, so 20 Energy (10 x 2) is awarded on each Energy tick. Likewise, Mana is returned by taking the player's
current total mp5
, including both Spirit-based regen and raw mp5, and multiplying it by 0.4 (2 divided by 5) in order to determine how much Mana to refund on each tick.
The timing of these regeneration ticks is
, and never changes, even when moving in and out of combat, or when casting abilities like
regen rate is used when calculating how much Mana or Energy to refund on each tick, the timing of abilities like
relative to the tick timer impacts how these abilities work! For example, if a rogue times an
cast to happen just before the next Energy tick, they will immediately get a large burst of Energy as if the buff was up for the entire tick.
For druids, this system causes Mana and Energy regeneration to proceed exactly the same regardless of what form the Druid is in or on when they shapeshifted. When shifting into
, for example, the druid's Energy is zeroed out but then 20 Energy is restored whenever the
Energy tick occurs after the shift. So similar to rogues, druids could time their shapeshifts before an Energy tick to sync with the fixed timer of when Energy batches will arrive.
This regen system was used for all of vanilla WoW
in TBC until Patch 2.2. As a reference point, the
raid was released in Patch 2.1, so
all of the TBC content through Tier 6 was already out under the vanilla system
Why was the regeneration system changed to begin with?
Most of the time, the vanilla regen system works just fine for all classes, and the fixed tick cycle was baked into many player strategies. For example,
is one of the unique quirks of Classic WoW, and is possible precisely because the player can change their Mana regen rate temporarily by drinking water just before a tick occurs, and then can keep walking until the next tick. Also, on average the system did provide the correct amount of total Mana or Energy regeneration from abilities like
regardless of when they were cast: Casting these spells right before the tick gives you an artificially high amount of regen on the first tick, but then also gives you an artificially low amount of regen on the final tick when the spell is active, so the "errors" average out.
The one place where the vanilla regen system causes serious problems is when an ability like
is used on the
same spell batch
as the Mana/Energy tick. In this scenario, the player can lose a full tick of these spells because the game uses the old regen rate when calculating Mana and Energy returns, even if the enhanced regeneration buff was active just slightly before the tick occurred. Losing a tick to unfortunate batch timing like this feels miserable to players even if it happens infrequently, so Blizzard overhauled the entire regen system in Patch 2.2 to eliminate this issue.
How did Energy regen work after the change?
The new regeneration system introduced by Blizzard makes resources like Mana and Energy regeneration
server side, rather than in discrete batches. However, the resource is still delivered to the
in discrete 2 second batches, just as in vanilla. The reason for this weird hybrid system is because class mechanics in TBC were tuned
the fact that regen was discrete rather than continuous, so classes like rogues would play totally differently if their Energy increased continuously in real time. In Wrath, the regen system was made continuous both server side
client side, so Energy classes play way more smoothly in that expansion compared to TBC.
In order to solve the issue with missed ticks, the following implementation was used:
Each player maintains a personal tick timer for their resources that can be reset, rather than the fixed server tick timer used in vanilla.
Any change to the rate of Mana/Energy/Health regeneration triggers a full reset of the tick timer, as well as an instantaneous refund of Mana/Energy equal to the previous regen rate integrated over the time since the last tick. Subsequent ticks then return energy at the new regen rate.
To see how this works, let's suppose a rogue starts with 0 Energy and casts
exactly mid way (1 second) into their Energy tick. Under the vanilla system, the Energy tick would not change and the rogue would be awarded 40 Energy (twice the baseline) one second later. Under the 2.2 system, the rogue is rewarded 10 Energy, the old regen rate of 10 Energy per second multiplied by the one second since the last tick. Then the tick is completely reset, and two seconds later (rather than one second later in the vanilla system), the rogue is awarded their next 40 Energy. Once the
buff falls off, the same thing happens: Energy is instantly refunded based on the previous tick time, and then the tick resets, with later ticks providing the base rate of 20 Energy once again. As a result, this change guaranteed that abilities like
restore the exact same amount of total Mana/Energy regardless of when they are cast.
Importantly, for druids, shapeshifting was treated as a spell that triggered an Energy/Mana tick reset, so Energy ticks started to completely reset after shifting into
as of Patch 2.2.
How the Energy Regeneration Changes Impact Feral Druids
The changes mentioned above were intended to be a quality of life
to classes that used Mana or Energy, ensuring that regeneration cooldowns always provided full value to the player. However, an unintended consequence of the change was that feral druid powershifting was massively nerfed! This section will describe how feral powershifting normally works, and how the damage output and enjoyment of feral gameplay were nerfed by the 2.2 change.
What is this powershifting thing anyway?
Both feral druids and rogues ordinarily live with a fixed Energy regeneration rate of 10 Energy per second, or 20 Energy per tick. Since most special abilities for these classes cost between 30 and 50 Energy, this means that the base DPS rotation involves a lot of waiting around until you generate enough Energy to cast your next ability. However, feral druids have a unique trick up their sleeves to speed up the rate at which they can deal damage.
As a hybrid class that can fill multiple roles, druids possess both a Mana bar and an Energy bar, which typically operate completely independently for use in humanoid form or
, respectively. In Classic WoW, however, druids are given a unique talent called
, which allows a druid to generate 40 Energy immediately upon shifting into
. The level 40 item
boosts this to
, which is why this helm is best in slot for the entirety of vanilla and TBC.
Therefore, when low on Energy, a cat druid can shift out of form and then back into form for a significant Energy boost, rather than waiting 4 seconds to regenerate that Energy "naturally". When done very quickly, the act of shifting out of form and back into form is called "powershifting", and is a critical component of the feral DPS toolkit. Each shapeshift costs Mana, so powershifting can be thought of as a conversion of Mana into Energy, allowing the druid to refresh their Energy supply whenever they want, so long as they have enough Mana to do so. Powershifting is
reason why feral DPS druids are able to keep up with other classes in damage, and makes the feral DPS rotation more dynamic and challenging than most other classes in Classic WoW.
Feral druid powershifting in Patches 2.0 to 2.1
A typical TBC powershift cycle looks like this under 2.0-2.1 regen system. We will use the example of two
casts, each costing 42 Energy when talented:
Time in seconds
GCD ends, cast Shred
GCD ends, wait
GCD ends, powershift
This cycle allows 2 Shreds to be cast every 4 seconds, with only 16 energy wasted each cycle. In contrast, if we wanted to cast two Shreds the conventional way without powershifting, the DPS cycle starting at the end of the above would look like this:
Time in seconds
GCD ends, wait
GCD ends, wait
GCD ends, wait
Notice that without powershifting, it takes 8 seconds to cast the same 2 Shreds! This is why powershifting is such a critical tool for feral DPS: it effectively doubles the rate at which special abilities can be cast.
Importantly, each powershift occurs one second into the fixed Energy tick, so the 60 Energy that is gained from
is bumped up to
before the GCD ends. This is what allows both Shreds to fit into the 4 second window. This rotation creates a fun and engaging playstyle that feral druids have come to love in WoW Classic, with very little downtime between player decisions and a smooth flow of actions.
Feral druid powershifting in Patches 2.2 to 2.4
Under the revamped Energy system, the tick completely resets upon each powershift, so the druid must wait a whole two seconds after each shift to receive that extra 20 Energy needed to cast two Shreds. The powershift cycle therefore changes to the following:
Time in seconds
Powershift, tick reset
GCD ends, cast Shred
GCD ends, wait
GCD ends, powershift
Notice that it now takes 5 seconds to cast two Shreds, compared to 4 previously. This results in a
20% nerf to yellow damage
for ferals, and
~14% nerf to overall DPS
. The magnitude of this nerf is so significant that it changes feral DPS from a middle of the road DPS spec that is competitive with every other hybrid class, into a bottom tier DPS spec. A 2007 blue post acknowledged that powershifting was not intended to be nerfed by the regen change, but that is what ended up happening in a dramatic way.
Much more importantly, the playstyle caused by the new Energy system is much slower and clunkier than the original rotation, as you are now waiting idly for 2.5 seconds each cycle with nothing to do.
This makes the rotation feel awful to play compared to vanilla, which is why the community is in such an uproar about the change. A significant fraction of the feral community chose the spec specifically because of the engaging and fast paced DPS rotation, and would have played rogue instead if optimizing just for DPS output. As a result, the new rotation feels like a major blow to the enjoyment of the class for this subset of the community.
impacts energy ticks.
Saving the Old Rotation: Trollsblood to the Rescue
Earlier today, the feral community discovered a loophole to get around the slow 5 second DPS rotation shown above. Let's look at how the 2.2 regen change was worded in the patch notes:
Power Regeneration: Any effect which triggers a change in your rate of power regeneration (Mana, Rage, Energy, Focus) will now cause an immediate reward of some power at the old rate of increase, and then begin new “ticks” of power at the new rate approximately 2 seconds later. This was done to improve functionality of abilities such as Evocation and Innervate so that they did not have wasted “ticks”.
This led us to wonder, what happens if one of our
resources, such as Mana or Health, has a change in regen rate right after a powershift? A member of the feral community by the name of
discovered fortuitously that if
happens to fall off right after a powershift, the Energy/Mana tick is reset a
time (on top of the reset that happens upon shifting), because the rate of Mana regeneration has now changed. Therefore, under the 2.2 system, the player is immediately refunded Mana
Energy based on the time when
fell off relative to the powershift. This means that if we could find a way to
this change in Mana regeneration rate, we could recover some of the Energy that we lost via the 2.2 change!
The first solution the community came up with is to leverage the fact that weapons can be swapped while shapeshifted and can have different mp5 values. A few druids who were lucky enough to posses
discovered that if they swapped from Atiesh to
, which has a lower mp5 value, then the exact same thing happened as in the
test: a partial Energy refund was immediately given to the player! Unfortunately, weapon swapping triggers a GCD and resets the swing timer, so swapping weapons every powershift cycle would not be ideal and only partially recover the lost DPS from the tick reset.
So some clever ferals put on their thinking caps and came up with an even crazier idea: changing your
regeneration rate (hp5) right after a powershift should also have the same effect and give the druid a partial Energy refund. Enter
, a level 8 consumable that provides a tiny amount of hp5 to the player. By applying this hp5 buff on each powershifting and then canceling it shortly afterward, we have once again forced a change in a regeneration rate, causing the game to give us an Energy refund.
This is what the "Troll's Blood Rotation" looks like:
Time in seconds
Powershift and use
buff, triggering Energy refund and tick reset
GCD ends, cast Shred
GCD ends, cast Shred
GCD ends, powershift and use
By canceling off the hp5 buff at precisely the right time, we are able to recover
enough Energy to execute our two Shreds in 3.5 seconds rather than 5, returning us to the fast paced rotation of vanilla WoW. This rotation is extremely penalizing to play, however: Waiting any longer than 0.5 seconds to cancel the potion is a DPS loss, but canceling before 0.4 seconds is catastrophic and causes you to lose a whole two seconds in the cycle. So the player has a 0.4-0.5 second window (including latency) to execute the aura cancel optimally.
Moreover, the consumable requirements this induces are absolutely insane: one
every 4 second cycle translates into
used every 3 minute fight
! A feral druid would therefore need to bring close to 30
to a typical raid night, filling up their entire inventory with this silly consumable. The farming requirements would also be extremely tedious: rather than spending all their time in
in vanilla, ferals will now spend even
just to compete.
showing how energy regeneration changes based on health or mana per 5.
Developer Intent Versus Implementation of 2.2 Regen
The crux of the community's frustration over Energy regen, as well as the insane workarounds that have been devised, is the fact that the Energy tick always resets on a shapeshift. This was confirmed by Blizzard to be "not a bug" in that it matches the 2.4.3 reference client, and also matches observations in 2007-2008 forum posts and gameplay videos. But does a tick reset
make sense under a consistent interpretation of the 2.2 change?
Remember that the intention of the new regen system was to reset ticks
whenever there is a change in the rate of regeneration
of any player resource. This would imply that shapeshifting induces a change in regen rate, but it turns out this is not true! On the current pre-patch client, if you shapeshift out of
into caster form, there is still an Energy bar ticking behind the scenes that you can't see. If you query the game for your Energy values while still in caster form, you will see that the Energy is still ticking at the
same rate of 10 Energy per second
while in caster form. The same is of course true for Mana in the opposite direction: shifting from caster form into an animal form keeps your Mana regeneration rate the same. Yet, in both directions, the Mana/Energy tick is completely reset upon shifting. So which is it, does shifting change the regen rate or not?
There are two tweaks that could be made to the system currently implemented in the pre-patch that would preserve the
of 2.2 regen consistently:
Simply do not treat shapeshifting as a change in any regeneration rates (because none of them actually change), and therefore don't reset any ticks. This would lead to original 2.0-2.1 powershifting.
Alternatively, if the ticks need to be reset upon a shapeshift, then provide the instant Energy refund to the druid immediately
the shapeshift. Currently the "refund" that is given upon a shapeshift is 0, which is unlike how any other class gets their resources refunded. This implementation would lead to a cycle similar to the "Troll's Blood rotation" but without the need for such ridiculous consumable usage.
The community is waiting with bated breath to see if and how Blizzard responds to these apparent inconsistencies.
Will feral druids be stuck using a level 8 potion for all of Burning Crusade Classic in order to abuse a broken mechanic that was implemented for the final two raids of TBC?
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