Tuesday, August 26, 2008

[Druid] The 2.5 patch - bear/generalist talent build edition

Yes, yes, the sky is falling, the black goat has been seen as far afield as Luton, we're all gonna die.

I am, of course, talking about the content push that will have ferals getting their new talents, skills and horrible itemization coming in the 'upcoming weeks' while TBC is the big kahuna. We don't know what build we'll be getting, we don't know what talents or skills will be changing, and we have no clue what will be done for itemization.

So let's everyone panic a bit.

Okay, better?

Now that we've gotten that out of our system, let's talk about what build we're going to spec to. Keep in mind - this is a spec for Burning Crusade. This isn't the lvl 80 spec or even what you'll be leveling with come Wrath. This is trying to answer the question of what you should be raiding with when the patch comes out for Burning Crusade content. (thanks, Felkan - I totally left this out)

The big thing to note is that with only (hah) 61 points, there is no way to get both Omen of Clarity and Berserk in the same build. Omen of Clarity is being changed to be far, far better in Wrath/3.0 (it will proc only on white attacks but it will proc all the time), giving cats a huge dps boost. Berserk is a huge dps boost but only for 15 seconds every 5 minutes.

The important thing is this: If you want to tank, you'll take berserk. If you want to DPS, you'll take Omen of Clarity.

I've not fully made up my mind on that, to be honest. Bears have been getting by without berserk for a while now, and it's been okay. But omen of clarity doesn't do that much for tanking, and berserk is just a silly good ability for tanking. It's worth it for tanking Archi alone. It's worth it for tanking flames, given how much damage and threat you can put out. And it would be good to get it into your available buttons so you're more used to it. Plus it's damn fun. Omen of Clarity is kinda boring, but being able to mangle three targets while getting tons of rage and doing massive damage AND not taking as much damage? Ooh, fun times.

Of course, it is likely that ferals are going to get a major revamp to the talent trees coming up soon. Who knows what the talents are going to be like? This could easily be out of date tomorrow.

That doesn't stop me from rampant speculation. :)

With all that being said, I think I'll be going with the 51/10 build. The goal of this one is to have a good selection of tanking talents while being able to do good (if not the best) damage as a cat. Just so you don't have to swap back and forth, here's what it looks like, text wise:

Balance (0 points)


Feral Combat (51 points)

5/5 Ferocity
3/3 Feral Instinct
3/3 Thick Hide
2/2 Feral Swiftness
1/1 Faerie Fire (Feral)
3/3 Sharpened Claws
2/2 Shredding Attacks
3/3 Predatory Strikes
2/2 Primal Fury
2/2 Primal Precision
2/2 Savage Fury
1/1 Feral Charge
5/5 Heart of the Wild
3/3 Survival of the Fittest
1/1 Leader of the Pack
2/2 Improved Leader of the Pack
3/3 King of the Jungle
3/3 Infected Wounds
1/1 Mangle
3/3 Improved Mangle
1/1 Berserk

Restoration (10 points)

5/5 Furor
5/5 Naturalist

More importantly, here's what's been skipped:

Feral Aggression
Brutal Impact
Primal Tenacity
Nurturing Instinct
Predatory Instincts
Rend and Tear
Omen of Clarity
Natural Shapeshifter
Master Shapeshifter

Let's go over each talent and see why it was picked.

First off, the easy ones - the ones that didn't change (or their base ability didn't change:
Thick Hide
Feral Swiftness
Sharpened Claws ( a prereq for primal precision)
Feral Faerie Fire
Primal Fury
Heart of the Wild
Leader of the Pack and Improved Leader of the Pack

All of those are mostly straightforward for tanking and are pretty much a requirement for tanking. You might quibble with faerie fire, but I use this so often personally that it might as well be a requirement.

Now, the things that are changed or that have competition (and thus were not taken):
Feral Aggression, even with the buffs to ferocious bite, is still not particularly good. Demo roar still is not as good as demo shout, and ferocious bite isn't good even with full buffs like rend and tear. Skip it.

Brutal Impact is nice to have but does nothing for most encounters save M'uru adds. Skip.

Feral Instinct isn't the best talent, though it's very good and exceptional for keeping multiple mobs tanked. This combined with 4pT6 will make swipe by far the best threat talent to spam. I think with this alone it'll be better than lacerate is.

shredding attacks could be cut in favor of all sorts of other abilities. It's unclear whether cat dps would be so horribly nerfed by the lack of OoC that it wouldn't be worth it to even try. I'm assuming that some cat DPS would like to be done. They do offer some wiggle room though, so think about this when you're doing your bear's spec.

Predatory Strikes got even better, increasing the AP of your weapon by 20%. And of course it's a prereq for Heart of the Wild.

Primal Precision is the biggest improvement to threat that a bear can take for two points. This is expertise skill, not rating, which means these two points reduce parries by 2.5% and dodges by 2.5% - or, essentially, increasing your total threat by 5% while helping out with mitigation. If you have a ton of expertise on gear this might want to be cut, but I don't see how you'd get it.

Savage Fury doesn't help claw and rake anymore. Instead, it helps both flavors of mangle and maul. A huge threat boost for the two points.

Not that you would have skipped Feral charge anyway, but it also has a cat version.

Nurturing Instinct got nerfed anyway, but you simply don't have the points to get it any more. Too bad; I liked having it when healing on Bloodboil and Illidan.

Survival of the Fittest was also a must-have, but now it removes any need for any resilience or defense on gear. This alone is going to boost feral druid tanking by quite a bit, given all the itemization that can be otherwise freed up.

Primal Tenacity was always mediocre, but now that it only reduces duration instead of giving a flat resist it's much worse. And we don't have the points to spare.

King of the Jungle is essential for cat energy (and makes Tiger's Fury awesome!) but will also add a nice threat boost when enraged, helping out early on fights for snap aggro. Not essential, but nice for both cat and bear. And I wanted to play with it some.

Predatory Instincts was...tough to cut. 10% crit damage is a big deal for cats or bears, and the aoe avoidance was nice if erratic. The problem is that it's simply not as good as Naturalist. I could see a reasonable argument to take this instead of shredding attacks and King of the Jungle, and clearly this would be better for bears than shredding attacks/KotJ is. But again - trying to make a build that will allow good tanking and good dpsing.

Infected Wounds is another iffy one. I am assuming it will work on all bosses the same way thunderclap does. (This isn't currently the case on the beta servers, but I can hope, right? Thanks anon) If that's not the case, this can be skipped entirely. Otherwise it's very useful and helps out quite a bit when a warrior can't tclap for you for whatever reason.

Improved Mangle is another big boost for bear threat, effectively increasing mangle threat by 33%. It will take the place of a swipe/lacerate in the cycle, though, so it's not perfect, but it will definitely be a threat boost. The cat mangle cost reduction will help a lot with farming and somewhat on damage. This might not be as good as predatory strikes; I need to work the math out on that a bit more.

Rend and Tear is simply not enough of a boost to anything. The ferocious bite bonus is great for farming but not useful enough for raiding. The maul boost, even assuming 80% of your damage was in mauls, is not as good as predatory strikes or naturalist. Same goes for shreds.

Berserk is just too fun, and is that ohshit button that bears have been asking for for years. It isn't essential - and if you do want to do max dps as a cat, this isn't for you. (I'll be doing that build tomorrow). But for tanking? Oh yes, please.

Furor is mostly for cat regen; powershifting is ridiculously powerful in wotlk because of it. Any serious cat dps must have this. The tanking aspect isn't so special, but that's okay.

Naturalist is one of the better threat talents a bear has. Pity it's in the resto tree. It's good for cat and bear. It's not a pure 10% threat boost, but it's pretty close, and it does help with cat quite a bit.

For a pure bear build with no interest in going cat, I would go with something like this. Which I don't think is all that interesting, but some folks would want it. More overall threat, a bit more non-dependable mitigation. But no versatility.

Check back tomorrow for the cat build. Weird.


Anonymous said...

Looks like a bunch of bosses are immune to Infected Wounds


Kalon said...

Anon - unfortunately, I know. I think that's not their intent, because otherwise it makes infected wounds pretty pointless, and I'm assuming that it wouldn't be the case for bosses in TBC. If it is, though, IW can be entirely skipped. I'd probably put the points in predatory instincts in that case.

runycat said...

I'm currently with you about the OoC and Berserk choice, but I'm going to test it out. I was somehow gifted with a beta key from somebody, so I'm in the process of copying my dr00d over right now. I'm really interested in seeing how my armor compares to the bullshit we've been seeing so far--because hey, I was a little panicky.

Kalon said...

Dude, I'm ALL about the panic. From some of my calculations, as it stands right now Sunwell will always have the best drops for bears forever and ever just because of the insane armor. That's the feral druid nightmare - having to get all the tanking drops from rings, trinkets, etc and having no other upgrades because mitigation trumps...well, everything else. If we thought our itemization was bad before...

I'm also really worried about the nerf to agi->dodge and agi->crit without giving any other replacement. Especially the dodge rating providing diminishing returns as you get more of it. Since we can only stack dodge, that could really hurt.

I'm trying not to freak out about it simply because our talents aren't remotely done, there is no finalized gear and nothing's set in stone. At the same time it's easy to remember that they thought druid itemization was fine and dandy in TBC, and they didn't think the role of the bear was fine in TBC. Both of those things seem so far away from the game I'm playing...ugh. That's the real worrier, like you mentioned - this odd disconnect between the devs and the players.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this write up, its very informative and interesting. I'm really looking forward to playing with the new spec, and becomming a bona-fida tank at last. Now I'll be able to announce that I'm specced for tanking...so dont put me in some yawner dps role for 90% of the raid :)

Ha I'm entirely NOT about the panic, I find it very hard to panic when a game is in beta. Panic about a game even? The concept just doesnt make sense, but I guess thats just me, judging by the overwhelming amount of negativity, cynicism and panic on the offical forums. It must be a weird part of the job at Blizzard: posting on the forums. You work your butt off for the kids every day of the week, and get shot down in ignorant, abusive and often irrelevant ways.

So yeah, I love your article --- but I dont agree there's a disconnect between the devs + the players. You can marshall all the evidence you like about stats + tbc screwups, but that's not what I mean.

If there is a disconnect, maybe its more about age difference and maturity? (btw, I'm over 21 and I have a proper job)

felkan said...

Even if IW does work on a boss, you don't need 3/3. 2/3 is fine and some have suggested even 1/3 is enough.

FWIW, a recent blue post seems to indicate there will be a *major* change in the Feral tree "real soon now". Something about "imagine there are 5-10 points that boost your defenses but don't help DPS....."

So, while it is fun to plan (believe me I've built my talent tree dozens of times already), it might be all in vein since it is going to change so much.

Also, at lvl 70 I'm taking OoC over Berserk. We don't have Berserk now and I tank fine and OoC is so much better for leveling. I'll pick-up Berserk at 71, if not later depending on the update tree. In a way, I sort of feel like we have a gimped 51 point talent.

Felkan said...

One more thing, you can drop ImpLotP all LK healers will have a nice AoE heal, so its benefit isn't needed as much as in BC. Though it is still nice for leveling and the little threat boosts it provides.

A recent blue posts hits that LotP will become raid wide. If the same is true for iLotP, we might end up being #4 on the healing meters....lol

Kalon said...

anon - the disconnect I personally have is the disconnect between where druids are currently (blizzard appears to think that feral druids can barely tank anything now and cat dps is great) and where I believe they are now (dps is mediocre at best and requires a lot of odd gear, but tanking is great and is in a good spot). If you disagree and think that tanking as a bear isn't that good, cool on you. I love the newer instances and the role ferals play in each encounter, and one of the reasons I enjoy them so much is because of the ability to be both in bear and cat form.

If there is a disconnect, maybe its more about age difference and maturity? (btw, I'm over 21 and I have a proper job)

Possibly. I'm 33, have a wife, two kids and am a professional programmer. I'm not sure that equates with maturity or not. To me, it's always felt like feral druids were this odd unwanted stepchild of the blizzard community, where stuff just wasn't thought out for them. They have gotten a lot better about that, but even then a lot of feral rebalancing/nerfing has been done so that resto specs aren't ridiculous in arena. That's not a healthy way to go about things, IMO, and doesn't show a lot of care for the class. I hope that you're right and that ferals are awesome come the next push.

And in this post, I was hoping to show what you could do at 70 with the talent spec currently up and be a bit constructive. :)

Felkan, hey. :) And eep. I totally messed up. This whole thing was supposed to be about having a build for TBC. So for leveling it doesn't matter; this is only for raiding at 70 in TBC content. I didn't explain that well enough, and I really should have. Same reason that I wouldn't be dropping imp LotP - while healers are going to get a lot of AoE abilities, imp LotP is going to be a raidwide boost of health. That's a big deal in BT and Sunwell. Good point on infected wounds; it really depends on the chance, but yeah, I could easily see taking just one point in it and getting basically the same effect. Assuming, of course, that it actually works on bosses. Argh.

Anonymous said...

Great article man. The recent announcement made me cheer for several minutes, main is a hunter. Then I had to think of my druid....umm will I even be able to tank?

I am in a casual guild so in no way worried about BT and such but still need to tank plenty. Got a little worried all of a sudden as I only compared talents to lvl 80.

Glad to see a view of the now that is not freeking out!

btw, thank you for adding the name and anonymous feature. Hope that adds some more traffic for you.

runycat said...

Okay, I still fail at testing tanking because I couldn't get into the beta last night.

I just think the developers are out of touch, and I do think that they never quite knew what to do with druids. Ever. I highly doubt that has anything to do with some sort of age gaps, especially since we're not exactly the youngest crowd in the WoW world, and I'm not sure what that has to do with maturity either. I just don't get the whole "druids are broken zomgzers", especially since we've been powerhouses in T6 content.

This whole desire to "fix" us doesn't make a lot of sense.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful post! I'm so glad that someone with more theorycrafting experience under his belt is willing to go out and take a long hard look at specs with tanking in TBC in mind.

So I think I'll take your build and continue concentrating on my WotLK leveling build, thanks so much!

Anonymous said...

How do talents rate in 3.2.2?

Kalon said...

Anon - wow, this is an oldie but goodie. I think I'll point you to the fluid druid blog - he talks about the most recent patch changes and talents here:


And it's really a great read.