Wednesday, August 6, 2008

[Druid] What a feral wants from WotLK

I'm going to try really hard to not be bitter today about feral stuff in WotLK. Instead I'd like to talk about where I see ferals now and where I'd like to see them in the future.

Right now, feral druids are only an okay melee choice but a good tank choice. Their melee DPS is about 70-75% of an equivalently geared rogue given similar buffs, which isn't great but isn't the worst thing ever. Their group buff is very good for raid dps since it tends to already improve the highest dps classes (hunters and rogues), and they do not require an optimal party composition to achieve decent DPS. They also provide very useful generic druid buffs to a party that can make progression fights far easier. For tanking, there are only a few fights that mechanically a feral druid can't main tank, only a small amount where a feral is significantly disadvantaged, and a few where they are the best choice for tanking on progression. They have a niche as the best physical damage tanks in most situations and the best offtanks in most situations that require threat without being hit constantly. The unification of the two in one single spec, able to switch as necessary depending on the encounter's requirements, is also a huge strength and a huge source of the fun of a druid. I have spoken about that before, but it bears (hah) emphasis: a feral druid is both a cat and a bear. You should be able to do one or the other. That is a feral's biggest contribution to a raid: flexibility. Without that, a feral druid only has a few fights that they can tank the best and no fights where they can DPS the best.

It is the versatility that makes a druid a joy to play and makes them valuable to a raid.

The big weaknesses that I see are:
  • A lack of itemization, especially in higher tiered content. The best overall tanking weapon is a trash drop from SSC. The best trinket is a random world drop. Most non-tiered armor drops are either more trash, crafted, or gained from pvp/arena. The 'tanking stats' like defense aren't optimal for bears, and no epic leather pieces exist in the game that have defense on them anyway. It's a big mess. For cats, their DPS doesn't scale well with the high-end stats like haste, and their base damage was not that great to begin with. Thus they do not scale as well with the rogue gear that is best for rogues, and the feral gear is loaded with stats that aren't relevant such as int or armor.
  • Poor scaling mechanics. Armor is the best stat to stack for a bear, but armor becomes cappable early in raiding. After that there simply isn't much to improve. As a result, bears peak in overall effectiveness in T5. Cats are similar in that the only stat they scale well with is crit, which has very large diminishing returns.
  • Lack of choices. Paladins suffer from this as well, but a bear's tanking rotation is set in stone: mangle, lacerate, maul. If you're well-geared and buffed, putting in swipes while maintaining the lacerate stack is an option, but this is still 4 buttons to manage at most, and all are spammable. There's very little else going on, and this rarely changes as you fight different bosses. There's almost no interactivity with the mobs you're facing. For a cat, there's a lot more interaction if you're doing it right thanks to powershifting, but it is still 4 buttons: rip, mangle, shred, shift.
For WotLK, I would like bears to remain the best physical tanks out there, especially against harder hitting mobs. Bears cannot mitigate magic damage, so let them do well against physical enemies. I would like that to remain throughout WotLK. This doesn't mean design fights where you are either armor-capped or you die horribly; those fights are gimmicks. I am talking about something like Gruul, where the hits are so hard that armor is simply best. Threat mechanics and rage generation are also reasonable things to stay as they are; it is good that bears produce more snap aggro and pre-loaded threat relative to a warrior but less than a paladin. I would like this niche to be ironed out further via talents; allow more rage generation when not being hit, allow more mitigation of physical damage regularly (example: barkskin in forms), allow more snap aggro.

For cats, I would like them to close the gap a bit on being a useful raid slot. Ideally I'd like to see them get more raidwide utility buffs. Leader of the Pack is a good buff, but it scales poorly with some classes, the healing is unreliable and fairly unremarkable, and the synergy with any other class is lacking. I don't want to actually see their DPS go up all that much; it seems okay where it is and that + awesome party buffs would be far too much.

Above all, I'd like to see that the unification of a feral druid remains. The versatility that embodies a druid, the fluidness of forms, the ability to use all of your skills as you need - this is what makes a druid a joy to play.

Still trying to be not bitter.

Blizzard has not finished the feral druid for WotLK, and as such we don't know what the end will give us. We have no idea what the itemization will look like, but chances are it will be rogue leather + some tier pieces/tanking rings/cloaks/amulets/trinkets. That could be okay; I remain skeptical that a mismash of random class gear, dps gear and tanking gear will be reasonably itemized for a druid, but it's possible. And if done right, it gives a lot more freedom in gearing up than previously.

As of now, tanks do not have any more options in terms of their rotation, really. Berserk is a great ohshit button for a tank, but it must be saved as that most of the time and is on a 5-minute cooldown. Mangle's cooldown is being reduced so that it can be spammed more, but that is all. For cats, the addition of savage roar has some potential, as does the improvement of Omen of Clarity, but there is still not a lot of interaction, the scaling for a cat is still not that good with rogue stats (the best stat for DPS scaling is strength, which appears on 0 pieces of leather currently), and the actual dps output looks to be not so great, still.

But what really bothers me is the following:

We're not entirely happy with the way the Feral ended up in BC. The idea was that you could be a decent tank and a decent melee dps class, so Ferals were something you wanted to bring if you weren't the kind of guild that swapped different people out for every boss. But I don't think "convenience factor" is ultimately a great value to bring to a raid.

I do think the Feral flexibility will still count for something, as will unique abilities like Innervate. But we'd like the Raid of the Future (tm) to be one where you need various roles filled, but have options for how to fill them. Ferals can fill tank roles or melee roles (or both!) and can also supply the X raid buff. It would be nice if every spec of every class could bring a version of some raid buff.
and (oops, thanks Brad)

If you want to do a little tanking and dps, you probably won't be as optimal at either, though you'll probably always be better at switching between the two than other classes. In order to be as good at tanking as the other classes, you might have to give up a few talents that maximize your dps, and vice versa. This is a good thing -- it lets you choose to actually be a main tank.

The stated goal of the dev team is to make ferals consciously choose between being a good tank and an okay dps or a good dps and an okay tank. For me, this is an easy choice: it will be a tank. It'll be a hard choice though, because while I tank a lot, and I'm good at it most of the time, I also like DPSing as a feral. I like the role I have right now. Reading other druid's experiences, I think they do as well. The versatility, not the specific abilities, are what make druids unlike any other class, and this feels like something of a desired nerf on Blizzard's part. I can't even clarify it further than that, and that's really frustrating. It could be only a 5% increase in maul damage vs. a 5% increase in shred damage, something minor, and it would still feel restrictive.

Blizzard believes that ferals want to choose. I think I'd rather be an okay tank who occasionally excels and an okay dps who doesn't embarrass themselves and provides raid utility than a tank all the time or a dps all the time. I'm surprised by this; when I rerolled a druid I did so because I wasn't sure what our guild would need most - a tank or a healer - but as I've played the druid I've found the flexibility is what brings me back to the joy of playing. No other class has that kind of flexibility.

Keep in mind - I can totally buy that this sort of change, this required choice to be a good tank or a good healer - will make a bear more effective as a tank or make a cat do more damage or be more useful in a raid. I'm not denying this at all. It has nothing to do with effectiveness of the class or getting a raid spot; it has to do with the sheer pleasure of playing a druid.

So I ask you all - what is your view of where a feral should go in WotLK? Should they be separated into Feral Cats and Feral Bears? How strong should the separation be? What would you like to see improved? I'm very curious whether my views of ferals - and my joy in playing them - matches up to others.


runycat said...

An excellent article, and I'm thrilled that I'm not the only crazy druid who thinks this is a very, very bad thing. I'm in the midst of writing up an article about the tanking changes--would you mind if I linked to yours?

Kalon said...

Thanks, runy. And you're more than welcome to use my writing as you'd like to.

Brad said...

I think you actually left out the quote that says they devs want us to choose either cat or bear (not that it matters, the quote is there somewhere). But right now I'm taking a slightly more optimistic interpretation of what the devs are saying, although I could be totally wrong.

What I hope they mean is that currently druid tanks are okay, and kitty dps is okay (barring the scaling issue). What'd we prefer is to give you the following choices for bear/kitty instead of just being okay/okay.

1. Improve your tanking (great/okay) so everyone wants a druid tank
2. Improve your kitty (okay/great) so you scare rogues (but not enough to be

So I'm hoping they don't mean to nerf one tree or the other. You can still be the best offtank and do awesome kitty dps, or you can do decent (not embarrasing) kitty dps and be the most desired main tank.

Personally I like the OT/dps roll. I'm OT because sometimes OTs are needed, but I love doing dps. Also, I love being able to pick up MT targets in a pinch if the MT goes down.

Kalon said...

Thanks, Brad. I did forget that small detail that, ya know, actually made my point. Oops.

For my guild (and I imagine for many others) the possibility of being average is not really acceptable. It is expected that progression will trump all, and if you aren't giving the raid the best shot at beating a boss, you probably won't be playing that night. With the situation the way it is currently we had either a very good tank combined with a mediocre DPS that could also contribute raid buffs and abilities and justify being in, either way. And that was the slot a feral druid offered. It was unique, it was different than other classes, and it did allow for a good player to fill in for both tanking and DPS at once. It gave raids versatility without gimping them. And even then, many times when I was not tanking anything I'd be sitting out.

With this change, I don't see that happening. It's hard to imagine many feral druids wanting to be just a cat, but there will be some fights where they'll either need to respec to cat or sit out. Same with bear. It doesn't feel like a nerf, feels more like a very different path of progression. Before, you could be a feral druid. That was your identity, and you could expect to do tanking, DPS, and even random healing now and then as a raider. With this change it sounds like you can't reasonably expect to do both in a raid.

And that bothers me, because it was doing both that I liked.

Again, it could be a very minor difference and really be thematic, similar to some of the minor talent differentials you have right now as a feral that don't end up mattering significantly. My feeling is that they're going to give a raidwide buff that only cats can provide - and getting that buff will require not getting something crucial for bear tanking.

Mostly, it feels like this is what they believe the feral community wants, and it's that view that concerns me, as it means that WotLK is going to shoehorn ferals into one role or another.

Jacemora said...

Sadly I am seriously considering switching my main to either my Horde hunter or my Alliance Lock in the expansion.

Let me tell you why.

I had no idea the sheer amount of time and energy it would take to accumulate the gear I would need to tank, dps, Boomkin, and switch to resto if I decided to play healer at times. How is that fair compared to other classes that can excel in their role just collecting 1 set of gear.

Make druid gear that covers all the above and find a way to cripple healing and caster DPS if you spec feral... etc. Sure you will still need different rings, idols, and trinkets but put good +healing, INT, Str, Agi, etc on just one set of damn gear... lol

Yeah, I know, I am dreaming... just not looking forward to running stuff over and over to fill each roles gear set... at least not doing it again.

Myze said...

Seems like I'm the only optimistic Druid here. At least from what I've seen in the talents that are available, there's not going to be much difference in how easily we will go from good tank to good DPS. The only issue that affects that in my mind is the itemization. If Blizzard keeps pumping out that Stamina/AP/Hit/Crit crap, and that's what we're stuck with, then our kitty DPS will be fried.

I've seen some Druids that will only play cat. I don't think I've ever seen an effective bear Druid that couldn't also DPS well. And while it is possible to build a full-on Cat DPS build that would put out higher damage than the standard 0/47/14 build, the losses as a bear tank would severely outweigh the minor gain you would get in DPS.

Kalon said...

Myze, thanks for coming by.

The worry is not what the talents are now. Right now the talents are bland, underpowered relative to both tanking and dps, and not particularly special.

The worry is that blizzard has specifically stated they aren't done, that the cat/bear trees aren't done, and that they do plan on making the change significantly more than what it is right now. I'm not addressing what is going on in the Beta at this time because it's either unknown (the itemization as it stands is horrible, but we're not even seeing level 80 quest rewards or crafted items yet) or it's yet to be revealed (the dev team design goals).

That Blizzard has stated they want to go away from a druid's versatility and make them more specified is the thing that bothers me. Yes, I'd like them to go away from the 2pT5 bonuses that are so utterly useless for most ferals outside of PvP, but there's a balance between that and having two separate bear and cat talent choices that are exclusive to each other.

Myze said...

Ah, as it is I don't keep up too much with the changes coming in WotLK that aren't already in the beta.

A split between Cat and Bear talents would look a little more like Druids of the old day. You know when only crazy/ignorant people were Feral? If this does come to pass, then yes, I will be very sad. But until I see something a little more than "we are going to change it like this" I can't comment. Designs can be changed pretty easily before they are even implemented, so there's no telling what will be out there until it's out there.

Edward said...

Hummmm I'm very split when it comes to what bliz what ferals to become, this is because I am not sure if what they mean by choosing to be a feral(tank) or feral(cat) is either:

1) One of the below,

Endgame Tank/Aweful Kitty,
Aweful Tank/Endgame Kitty,
Early Endgame Tank/Early Endgame Kitty,



Endgame Tank/Early Endgame Kitty,
Early Endgame Tank/Endgame Kitty,
Somewhere in between.

If it is idea one then i think they are losing a large part of what feral is about, however, if it is number 2, then I can understand (kinda) there logic I would always prefer to be an:

Endgame Tank/Endgame Kitty gear dependant of course.

Ded said...

I honestly think the changes in WOTLK will be great for ferals.
Right now we are stuck at off-tank role in high end raiding with occasional MT duty here and there. That’s not good enough for me. I want to be full time MT of my guild and progress as such through all content that game has to offer.

I want to tank every single boss in the game and not to be labeled as trash tanker forever.

Blizzard already stated that all 4 tanking classes will be equally good in high-end content and warriors will not be mandatory MT's like they were before. Actually, it will be possible to not have tanking warrior at all and manage all game raiding content with other 3 classes.

Isn't that great news for us?

As to Lack of choices in tanking circle you are talking about. I disagree with you completely. What makes a great tank is not an amount of buttons he can push or use, it is much more than that. It is your overall awareness, fast reaction, right positioning, right switching between targets, decisiveness, ability to predict and counter things before they even happen (like when you miss you first mangle and maul in a row and heavy dps already started on a target and you know by heart that aggro will be pulled from you) – all those thing and much more make all difference between an ok tank and really great one.

And even before WOTLK we have much more tools for tanking than you describe, for instance:
Feral charge, Bash, Challenging roar, Demoralizing roar, Enrage, Faerie fire, Growl, Frenzied regeneration, trinkets, drums…
All those fit frequently in our tanking cycle.
And I don’t mention our ability to switch from forms and do lots of tricks with self healing and battle res and innervate …

So I don’t really think feral community should be pessimistic about incoming changes in WOTLK.

Ozotaga said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kiulia said...

I agree totally - sorry for the late reply, just saw this post. I couldnt be happier about the changes to the feral tree, to make us choose one or the other. Otherwise, if we could do both very well, its not fair to warriors or pallys who have to choose. I'm really bored of the currently solution - making us mediocre MTs but great OT/dpsers.

So I'd much rather choose to be a MT via talents, than be relegated to the trash offtanker who dpses better than a prot warrior.

Also, I couldnt agree more with the points about skill. Interestingly, a lot of warriors are worried by these changes. I think this is partly because their niche role is coming to an end, and they'll have to compete on the open market with the other tank classes, at the level of skill, rather than spec.

Kalon said...

Hey, Ded. Thanks for commenting. :) I'm glad you're optimistic about the changes that blizzard wants to achieve. I hope you're right and that the druid is a great, dynamic choice for tanking. I'm just...well, not trusting, I suppose. :)

And even before WOTLK we have much more tools for tanking than you describe, for instance:
Feral charge, Bash, Challenging roar, Demoralizing roar, Enrage, Faerie fire, Growl, Frenzied regeneration, trinkets, drums…
All those fit frequently in our tanking cycle.

I don't mention these because for 95% of the time you're doing tanking, they don't come into play. None of them are particularly reactive with respect to a boss either, which makes tanking not particularly interactive. Feral charge gets used once in almost all boss fights, if that. Bash is rarely usable. Challenging roar is an AoE taunt that is worse than a warrior's version, and has a huge cooldown. Demo roar is the same. Enrage often is suicide against harder hitting bosses, so it tends to get used only once. Faerie fire does fit in, but only if you don't have a moonkin. Growl rarely gets used either on bosses - though the bosses it does work on tend to be a bit more interactive (Kalecgos comes to mind here, as does Nalorakk). Regen flat-out sucks, trinkets are entirely reactive and don't interact with a boss at get the idea.

An example of interaction that I'd like to see is the revenge mechanic, where you have to watch for a specific action to take place before you can use the ability. And you can only use it within a certain time period. Having spell interrupts is another example, where you have to do something within a specific time to make something work. Having a spell interrupt would go a long way towards making druids more interactive, and feral charge doesn't really count :)

And I don’t mention our ability to switch from forms and do lots of tricks with self healing and battle res and innervate …

Not a lot of this happens during tanking in my experience, but yes - that's exactly what I don't want to lose as a druid. And hopefully we won't. We'll see. Tanking using the gear that is in WotLK right now is, according to experienced tanks, essentially impossible. One of the things I love tanking is Illidan's flames. In that fight I DPS in Phase 1, tank the first flame, try and dps the second flame but usually can't, so I heal and do ranged DPS. Then switch back to DPS in phase 3/5, with random raid healing in P4. I love that versatility, and I don't want to lose that ability. That's what I'm afraid of.

Kalon said...

Kiulia - thanks for coming too. :)

I agree with both you and Ded - what makes a good tank isn't how many options you have, it's how you use the options you do have. Tanking is about situational awareness, knowing what the boss does, how to react to certain conditions, keeping track of healers that are on you, knowing where the raid is (IE, are they feared at that moment), paying attention to cooldowns, buffs, debuffs, etc. Those are all traits of good tanks.

But that doesn't mean I want to tank using three buttons over and over again. Heck, some very good druids just have a macro for their attack sequence that they spam. One button, occasionally two. That's it. That's just not that fun.

I should have clarified - I don't think that more is really required to make a druid tank a good one. I just would like to see more options to make things a bit more fun. Plus, with more options comes better separation of good players and bad ones. That's not so bad either.

Ded said...

Kalon thanks for your response.

Now let me disagree with you once again on a subject of lack of choices in tanking druid circle.

I think its all question of playing style – and I will explain further.

I played as a warrior MT in vanilla wow and did almost the entire raid content except Naxx.

Using shield block every 5 seconds and spamming revenge was not a reaction to some sort of things going on – it was brainless spam of those 2 abilities, unnecessary micromanagement which has nothing to do with skill.

The fact is Blizzard changing shield block to something very different in WOTLK.

So for me it is not such a good example of reactive ability. But there are other good examples in my opinion, to name some:

Last stand – we get Berserk in WOTLK

Stance dancing for immunity to fear – well to some extent Berserk will take care of this, though I would like to see anti-fear component added to Enrage maybe.

Spell Reflect – we have nothing in our arsenal to counter heavy spell damage incoming, Barskin usable in forms can be a good way to mitigate some of it, please blizzard think about it.

Shield wall – this ability will be less effective in WOTLK but still is a very good panic button. Again, berserk + barskin (hopefully) will do the same job for us, or I would like to see this through itemization specific to druids (like Moroes watch + badge combo).

Disarm – gimmick ability in my opinion, in WOTLK we have stacking effect to low attack speed of mobs – so works the same way…

Commanding shout – before nerf it was another last stand for a warrior – not anymore.

Heroic strike = Maul

Sander Armor = Lacerate

Shield slam + Devastate = Mangle

Shield Bash = …

Concussive blow = Bash

…. = Swipe, every warrior would kill to have this.

Basically, as druids we trade few mitigation and panic abilities of warrior for much higher stamina pools, higher armor and much better threat generation. We also do a lot of damage and actually help our raid to down boss faster.

I see it this way: Warriors must use few more abilities and more frequently to achieve our level of threat and mitigation, and for this complexity they get their special bonuses in a way of few more panic buttons to spam.

That’s not a whole big difference between 2 classes, it a small one that make them both unique to some extent.

It is a question of playing style and adding too many specialized reactive abilities to druid will make it feel and play like a warrior, which I don’t want to ever happen.

We are just that: mighty beasts with huge paws tearing apart everything in our way, absorbing all those huge hits with our crazy stamina pools, berserking and enraging and dishing out loads of damage, without thinking twice about sophisticated moves that warriors or paladins can pull to get the job done. That’s a part of being druid as a nature brutal force.

And if I feel that this is not my style of play – well I can always roll a warrior (and I have one and find tanking with him tedious and unpleasant experience).

Kalon said...

Ded - I think we're coming at bears from two different angles, so bear with me (groan).

I agree with you - there aren't that many things that mechanically bears need over warriors. Really, if they made barkskin usable in forms (perhaps with a longer cooldown so it's not totally insane), gave enrage an anti-fear/stun break, and gave bears some form of thunderclap-like ability that actually works on all boss mobs (currently most mobs are immune to infected wounds), I think bears would be mechanically fairly sound and reasonably interesting in their own right. They're not that far right now. Heck, they're not that far from warriors in live.

But they still wouldn't have a lot of interaction with a mob past beating on it with ridiculously huge hits. I'd like to see more interaction with mobs not because it's needed to be on par with warriors (or DKs, or paladins) but because it's more fun. I'd like to see a bit more twitch mechanics put into tanking as a bear. Or a paladin, for that matter. Disarm/spell reflect/pummel/revenge can be the warrior's deal. A spell interrupt would be great but isn't required. What I'd love to see is some physical interrupt-like ability, that causes a reset of a boss's swing timer and is only usable every 15 seconds or so. I'd love to see some kind of chromatic armor that automatically increases resistance to a school of spellcasting by 400 when that spell is used against you. I'd like to see more abilities that make druids specifically the best anti-physical tanks. If that's not their niche, I'd like to see more abilities that are interactive that help their niche.

Not because they're needed - but because they're more fun.

I don't really want a carbon-copy of a warrior. But right now, bear druids have by far the lowest amount of attacks they can use, and the lowest amount of abilities they can use, compared to every other tanking class in WotLK. You can argue reasonably that this is a matter of flavor and if you wanted a more complicated tanking class, roll another one. Personally, I liked that druids have so many options, and bear is only one of them. I'd like to see more options in bear form as well.

BTW - warriors are getting a swipe-like ability as one of their high-tier talents. They've apparently already killed for it. :)

Kiulia said...

Well, whats cool about all this is that Blizzard is knocking around ideas exactly the way we are. They havent worked out yet exactly how we'll look. I love it. I do have a lot of confidence in them. They have stated they want the 4 tanking classes to be interchangeable on all encounters and tbh, thats enough for me.

I agree that our button clicks are rather limited, but I tend not to get bored while tanking content (unless I'm ultra familiar with it) simply because so many unexpected things happen all the time. Also, I just love the vibe of being in the face of the mob all the time - even if I'm only clicking 3 buttons. Its that element of skill, reactivity etc etc, that gives the game the edge for me, rather than the details of the abilities I have.

I always thought it was fair that our abilities were a cut down version of other classes. Our form shifts are so radical and the mechanic changes are so big. Why should we have the same degree of sophistication they have?

I've played a warrior, and a warriors attacks are many and subtle variations on how to physically hit something (to be very simple about it). We're the no-frills version, and I always accepted that as the druid thing.

I too love our versatility. I mean, damn it, warriors cant even heal themselves. And neither can rogues. At the end of a good session on Lady V, we're far more likely to see the floor strewn with dead hunters, rogues, or fury warriors than dead ferals. We have a self-sufficient quality; if we had all the micro sophistication of the other classes too, why would anyone roll anything other?

Snowybear said...

I have played a feral druid now 3 yrs. Yes, even when it wasn't popular. I am very unhappy with the change in philosophy.

If we think we will be the endgame tank of choose, we are fighting 4+ years of stigma/paradigm. Warriors will always be the preferred MT by the top raiding guilds.

At BC Blizzard made pally tanks viable and necessary for some content. Pallies are the kings of AoE/multi-mob tanking (ironically a talent of bears pre-BC) and as such have found a niche (E.g. Mount Hyjal and the many gauntlet runs). I am not going to argue about whether they are possible with another kind of tank. I am going to say they are significantly easier with a pally.

In T6+ content, feral druids are far behind rogues in dps. They are however good tanks and are good enough at dps not to be substituted out for single tank boss fights.

Based upon history; I’m extremely skeptical that feral druids will ever be competitive dps (due to poor itemization and philosophical approach to druids based upon class mechanics). Historically, Blizzard has not wanted druids to compete with rogues (see discussions at the outset of BC and all the cries to nerf cat druids). That leaves us as tanks. If we are going to be tanks and Blizzard is going to gimp our dps for this decision then we will not have a place in an endgame/progression raids unless the warrior is sick that day.

The druid's versatility is our hallmark. If we aren't going to have it anymore then we should re-roll a "pure" class (I don't think that there exists a "pure" class anymore).

Blizzard holds up Rogues as the "pure" dps class. Well, in my experience a rogue brings a tremendous amount of utility to a raid (sap, kick, distract, etc.) That, and top single target damage.

We are not the only class that is "broken" but it seems that Blizzard is making an effort to give every other class multiple rolls and utility and they are taking the class that was envisaged to bring this and specializing it.

This makes me a sad bear. We will just have to wait and see how it ends up.

WillFeral said...

I think the thing that bothers me most about WotLK gear is that it basically makes our gear rogue gear. This is great for Cat form, but bear form needs more stam and armor, and less straight AP. Also, since I mainly PVP, where is the Int? I am almost forced to never change (also effects powershifting druids in PvE) forms, and heals are almost a thing of the past from a feral if Int is getting dropped. I personally love the feral gear now. High armor, stat heavy, and allows versatility. WotLK gear also makes SotF talent scale horribly as opposed to now. If you want to make raiding gear rogue based, do so, but leave the PvP gear alone, too many times you are forced to change forms, or cast when the situation calls. we need the stats.

Menas said...

This is a little ranty but I'll try to be as objective as possible.

Point 1).

The first point I'm making is to address how optimistic I am about druid tanks being able to MT as effectively as other tanking classes in end-game content of WotLK.

I've been a druid tank almost since WoW first launched (I was one of the crazy ones).

I'm very skeptical of WotLK for feral tanks at this point, because Blizzard seems to be taking the same approach with regard to feral tanks and end-game that they took for the original game and for TBC - focus on the journey to the level cap, and just hope the experience after that will somehow take care of itself for feral druids.

It experience (and common sense) hold true, it won't.

In the original game druid tanks weren't viable options after UBRS. If you were lucky you got to tank a core hound once in a while. Kitties weren't wanted either. The gear wasn't there.

In TBC druid tanks are viable single target physical damage tanks through T4 content and part of T5, after which they start to fade again. Kitty dps is effective up to about the same point. Again, the gear/itemization for druids is not present after that part of end-game. Obvious druid tanking short-comings in comparison to other tanking classes such as multiple-mob aggro and lack of bailouts are never addressed (still have to shift just to take a pot/HS?). After two versions of the game have passed we still don't have a way to translate a weapon stat/ability to a faster attack speed for ferals.

And now we're supposed to believe that somehow druid tanks are supposed to be effective MTs after hitting the level cap, when the only gear we'll have available to us is rogue gear and the only tanking stats we'll have available to us are agi and sta, and they haven't figured out how to make it work yet on the road to 80 much less for the end of the game.

I'm very discouraged at this point. The devs should have known that it would be easy to balance all of the plate wearers to make them all effective (mostly equivalent) MTs, and very hard to do the same with druids as they're a completely different 'animal'. They should have slotted the time to put the forethought and playtesting into the schedule to account for this. They've had four years to think it over.

Scaling by definition has to do with the gear/itemization of the game. Scaling doesn't have anything to do with player level or talents, because for the expected role those don't change (other than game design) once people hit the level cap. Only gear changes.

I had hoped for WotLK that things would be different, and that Blizzard would have itemized the game completely through the highest tier content, and playtested it before stating something like 'all tanking classes are going to have approximately the same desirability for instances'.

The way things are looking in Beta, and with the information that's currently available, there's no good reason to believe things aren't going to be the same for feral tanks that they were in TBC. Their base stats on the way to 80 will cause other classes to complain about them being overpowered and call for a nerf, which they'll get. After which druid tanks will discover their gear for end-game content will only successfully get them through the first part of the content before raid groups start looking for a different type of MT. People at Blizzard might actually want to do something about it but most likely won't have the time.

I doubt if kitties will have the same problem though. The fact that ferals will be using rogue gear will make them much easier to adjust.

I actually don't mind the idea of deeper feral talents allowing druids to either be a great tank and a moderate dpser or a great dpser and a decent OT (like a dps warrior). I'd like to share some thoughts about that that are non-ranty/venty, but it will have to be later as I'm out of time.

I think Blizzard will be able to make kitties effective dpsers all the way through end-game pve content, so at least that will be fixed. As for feral tanks being effective MTs all the way through end-game content however, I'm not a believer. Blizz is probably entirely sincere about wanting it to work, but they haven't put the time in to make it work thus far, and I doubt they'll have the time when WotLK goes live. They didn't have time for any of the other iterations of the game, why should we believe it's going to be different this time around? This druid tank will most likely be hanging up his claws for now.

Kalon said...

Hey, WillFeral - sorry I didn't reply earlier.

I'd like to see a bit more differentiation on leather gear, though perhaps not in the way you're suggesting. If they fixed a couple of the DPS stats (AP/crit/hit/haste/arpen) so that they also helped bear forms via mitigation or avoidance, this would go a long way towards making the rogue leather feel more...well, bearlike. As it stands PvP gear is the best for a bear.

And right now, PvP gear is pretty bad for PvP since it doesn't have int, as you said. They should probably put int on the PvP gear. I hope they'll combine some stats so that a bear has more than agility as a combined threat/defensive stat, but I don't think they will this late in the game.

Menas - wow, I really owe you a response. :)

I don't have a lot to say about that post because, well, I think you're basically right on. Currently bears have the highest mitigation of all the tanks by a fair margin and are putting out more damage than any other tank, and end up taking less damage than any other tank. But that's just through T7 content. This is, well, exactly like it was at the end of T4 content, where Bear armor was way better than the mitigation for warriors was and people were calling for nerfs as bears were simply amazing. Their damage got cut, their threat was reduced..and even then their mitigation was insane.

Except there weren't particularly meaningful upgrades past that point. At least from a mitigation perspective. Now as it turned out, agility became so silly and avoidance so good that druids could stack agility til the cows came home, have 70%+ avoidance and 75% mitigation. It was pretty ludicrous.

And what do we see now? We see bears that are 20% shy of the armor cap (and can hit it with an inspiration proc) at the end of Naxx. We see a heroic staff that will be a better tanking staff than anything that drops from the raids so far because of its huge armor. We see blues reporting that bears are too high in mitigation, HP and threat and need a nerf - and others agreeing.

And most importantly we don't see any way to scale other than agility and stamina.

So yeah, I agree. I think they needed to get a lot more clever with how they were going to make feral tanking work. They decided that they would make armor, stam and agi king by hugely buffing how they scale, but then they simply gave us tons of armor on non-leather gear while taking it away from leather gear. How does this make sense?


Anyway, nice to have you come around. :)

Ded said...

Dearest druid brothers, particularly Kalon and Menas.

I am much more optimistic about our tanking faith in LK.

I would like to remind you that Blizzard NEVER stated that druids suppose to be on par MT's in BC. They DO now for LK.
It is a new approach and things shifting to this direction.

Also remember that things will change and evolve during the future and if they will find out that Druids have scalability problems at higher content, things will be changed to fix that. You ask why? Because now Blizz will have no excuse by claiming that this is game design.

Imagine Blizzard never stated that all 4 tanking classes will be interchangeable. It would be a disaster for me personally: I am sick of my current position as an incomplete tank unable to tank effectively some of the game content.

Now to details:

Firstly, we have not 2 but 4 tanking stats: agility, armor, stamina and expertise. Dodge and defense also works for us to some degree. Once we reach armor and expertise cap, we can focus on agility and stamina. We can free 2 talent points from expertise and put it somewhere else to strengthen our Threat or Mitigation. That’s all good for me.

With recent changes to our existing abilities (feral last stand, barkskin in forms, berserk, improved frenzied regeneration, unlimited swipe, better FF, bash interrupt spell casting etc), I don’t think we really need any more tools to get our job done. No need in more buttons to push.

We have all we need: situational mitigation panic buttons, situational threat boost buttons, great mobility and immunity to root effects, 2 forms of spell interrupt (in bear form), 2 forms of CC we can use before pull and also our ability to pull some neat tricks by switching forms in fight.

As to balancing all this in 1 solid bundle – I trust Blizz and believe they will do the job right, though you guys do understand that there always be slightly better tank class and high end top guilds will pick this class for pure efficiency, even if the margin will be 1%.

That’s not a problem for me – I am a leader and MT of my guild, and now I only need 1 skilled tank by my side in LK to clear all its content in 10-man format.

Menas said...

Thanks for the reply Kalon!

A couple quick points on what Ded said.

While it's true that armor is a core tanking stat, I didn't mention it simply because it's a given. All tanking classes use this stat in the same way. Also, Blizzard mentioned they weren't going to put high armor values on leather gear just so druid tanks could hit the cap. Which to me means that the other stats are going to be driving gear desirability, because for a same-level piece of gear the armor should be about the same (based on what Blizz said). This won't necessarily be true for non-set pieces though (rings, trinkets, etc.).

Expertise is not a core tanking stat, it's a 'nice-to-have'. I wouldn't recommend putting a stat that is used to cause a little more damage and generate a little more threat ahead of survivability when you're a tank.


If druids will have to put points into expertise prior to armor, sta, and agi in order to be able to generate enough threat to be effective than we're really screwed.

Ded said...

I would like to clear my statement about expertise.
Expertise IS a core tanking stat in a sense of mitigation. Once mob parries attack from player, next swing from comes at a significantly lower timer. This is called "counterattack". By lowering parry chance of a mob, we can prevent a lot of damage, especially burst damage.

As you mentioned, expertise gives us additional threat which is always good.

Anonymous said...

I miss the pre-BC days where I could heal well as balance spec, tank well as resto spec, etc., for 5 man content. Since BC came out it seems you have to be the spec of the job you are assigned to do. In the old days Druids were as originally intended, a versatile class not the best at anything but reasonably good at any role needed on the spur of the moment (assuming you had some okay gear for that form).

And with Wotlk I am so confused about what stats a feral tank even needs now that I don't even equip my feral gear anymore, just switch between resto and balance gear.

Anonymous said...

One thing people need to take note of with the current state of feral DPS/Tanking. Druids that are specced to tank will still enjoy a decent DPS in cat form. With the buffs to mangle and rake you really don't need shred to decent raid DPS. Of course a shred based DPS build will still out DPS a mangle-spam build but the margin isn't so large as to be a source of derision. So if you are into being the Off-tank, decent DPS spot you will still have it. Also when dual specs become available this will be mostly a moot point :-)