Thursday, October 9, 2008

[Druid] The core 3.02/WotLK bear talents

Bears have choices.

Many, many, many choices. Probably too many. And of course, things will change; since I did my first preview two months ago bears have added several new abilities, talents and skills to their repetoire. So I'll go with both the generic and the specific on this so that in case anything else comes up, it'll be at least mostly accurate.

For bears as for all tanks, the rule has been ever simple: survival first, then threat, then situational abilities. Sure, you can go for the threat build early on and make your DPS happy, but if you die it won't matter at all. That was actually a viable build for paladins post T6, for instance, and it may be a viable strategy for bears. But I'm considering the case where you're facing a boss that hits harder than you've ever seen, or makes it so that healers simply can't heal you that often. Or when, simply, you're at the edge of progression and need the survival. That's the general thinking on tanking and what we'll go with first in terms of priority.

The essential talents for all bears are:
Ferocity (5 points)
Thick Hide (3 points)
Savage Fury (2 points)
Survival Instincts (1 point)
Feral Swiftness (2 points)
Feral Charge (1 point)
Predatory Strikes (3 points)
Heart of the Wild (5 points)
Natural Reaction (3 points)
Survival of the Fittest (3 points)
Leader of the Pack (1 point)
Protector of the Pack (3 points)
Mangle (1 point)

Total talent points required: 33

That surprised me too. Since WotLK launched I've felt feral was overbloated, but the fact is that the core tanking talents aren't really that big. The big problem here is tier 6; Tier 6 has 11 talent points in essential talents, but there are only 17 talent points before it that are absolutely required.

From there, you get a lot of talents that rock but are not required for any specific reason. Why? Because they either all deal with threat at around 1% more threat per talent point, are situational, or are buffs that are taken care of by other classes.

As I said above, the tricky part is tiers 1-5. There are only 17 talent points that are required. The rest are situational and may be wanted or not depending. The classic build would have 3 points in Sharpened Claws, two in Primal Fury, and three in Feral Instinct. Those could also be put into Feral Aggression as well. Personally, I would put the points into Primal Precision before Primal Fury. In any case, you need 8 more points to get to 25, but after that you need exactly 41 to get everything that is required in the feral tree including mangle. And 52 total for the 11 point resto tax.

From there, it comes down to a lot of personal preference and the big bugaboo - raid utility versus threat output. Of the remaining talents, I would get them in the following order:

Primal Fury
Improved Mangle
Rend and Tear

That's a total of 52 points spent in the feral tree. Why those 4?

Primal Fury is a requirement for doing cat DPS. It also helps quite a bit with offtanking and when tanking multiple mobs with swipe can give essentially infinite rage.
Improved Mangle is not a huge threat win; replacing one swipe or lacerate in 6 seconds with one mangle is not actually as big of a threat gain on a single target as you might think. This, however, enables fairly decent DPS using mangle spam for cats without requiring shredding attacks.
Rend And Tear is close to the best threat benefit, point for point, that bears have. Since maul makes up 50% of our threat currently, each point in R&T is a 2% threat boost, straight up. That's almost as good as primal precision. That it also helps cat DPS cycles is a bonus.
Berserk is just fun. A fear ward is great, but 10 mangles in 15 seconds is just a huge boost of early threat. Mostly, it's a fun talent that should be taken because it increases your joy.

Assuming the standard 11 points in the resto tree to get Omen of Clarity, what's left? Well, if you've followed my advice, you've got 7 talent points to play with, and the following talents to put them in that are worth anything:

Improved Leader of the Pack (2 points)
Feral Aggression (5 points)
Shredding Attacks (2 points)
Brutal Impact (2 points)
Infected Wounds (3 points)
King of the Jungle (3 points)
Master Shapeshifter (essentially 5 points)
Predatory Instincts (3 points)

And again, we come down to utility vs. threat vs. cat.

On the cat talents: Shredding attacks is almost entirely a cat talent, but it's a good one. Shred is still the winner on DPS, though it's not nearly as high a winner as it used to be thanks to mangle being buffed to 200% damage. Despite the tooltip, Predatory Instincts is 100% a cat talent; it does nothing for bear for either ability, at least right now. It is still a big boost to cat DPS. King of the Jungle is primarily for cat and is a big boost there, though an early enrage to build up threat combined with berserk means such a huge threat lead it's not funny.

The utility talents: brutal impact gives bears an actually useful interrupt at 30 seconds. This isn't the most essential in a raid environment but could be really nice for 5-mans. Feral Aggression is required if your raid doesn't have it but is likely better taken by a warrior if possible; it's not as costly to them to spec into as it is for druids. Improved Leader of the Pack is a middling useful talent. The healing rarely helps tons, though now that it's raidwide it may be a bit better. The mana back is nice for soloing and pvp. Infected Wounds is another talent similar to feral aggression; it's needed if your group doesn't have it already, but pretty superfluous if they do - and all the tank classes get something similar to it for cheaper.

Master shapeshifter helps threat and helps cat as well, but the 5 points spent to get it are very costly. 5 points for 4% more damage or 4% more crit rating is not a particularly good bargain no matter how you slice it. I don't recommend this any more, but for the best threat possible this is what you want.

And that's it. And really, after those 41 points you can do almost anything. If you need a high-utility build, take feral aggression instead of rend & tear, take infected wounds instead of improved mangle, and take brutal impact along with imp LotP. If you want to be more of a hybrid take king of the jungle, predatory instincts, shredding attacks and drop imp mangle. Even furor isn't necessary to max out, and putting two points in Imp mark of the wild is a decent idea.

It's no longer the case that every feral is going to have the same 47/14 build where 10 of those points are very flexible. But all bears should have the same 33/11 core talents, with 8 of those spent in different ways depending. I like that there is more chance for true hybridization or situational abilities or dealing with needs in the raid. The tree is looking pretty sharp right now. I would like to see more spreading of essential talents for bears and cats and possibly a separation of ferocity and feral aggression into a cat-only and bear-only talent, but these are quibbles. And as long as you go for those 33/11 points, you should be good to tank anything.


Felkan said...

Every time I work my way thru a build I end up with this 0/54/11 build. That leaves 6 points to put in 3/3 IW, 3/3 PI or 3/3 iMangle.

PI == Nice cat DPS and cat survivability talent
iManlge == minor(?) cat DPS and very minor bear (TPS) talent
IW == Fun PvP talent, increased PvE survivability for bear.

At this point, I think I'll end up with this 0/60/11 build. For my 5/10-man Tank/DPS build. Thoughts?

Myze said...

Funny, I just wrote an article about Rend and Tear, and I found that Rend and Tear is actually a 1.2% threat increase per point, assuming nothing about current tanking changes. This is because Maul has a static threat component that does not increase with damage and that of the bear threat reports I looked at while researching, Maul comprised an average of 40% of the threat, not 50%.

When you factor in Improved Mangle and Mangle's increased threat modifier (up to 1.5x from 1.3x), you find that rend and tear provides ~1.15% threat per point spent.

As for Felkan's build, I think that's fine. Outside of the core talents listed, a lot of talent choices are really up to the player, and will have a great influence on the playstyle of the bear. I can see several iterations of the feral tree working well, each with its own slightly different move priorities and advantages.

Kalon said...

Hey, Felkan -

That build looks fine to me. It's got decent utility, especially for 10-mans where you might not have a tclap handy. It's got good threat. And it should be competitive with cat DPS. You can also think about going with imp mangle instead of shredding attacks, as the two DPS builds are pretty close to each other - and it helps out bear TPS more. But really, it's up to taste.

Myze, as I pointed out in your blog I believe that they've removed the large static threat portion of Maul. But even if your numbers are correct, it's still better than any of the other optional threat boosters, though that may make it not particularly desirable for you specifically. 2% threat per point is hard to ignore, but 1% threat per point isn't so bad.

Thanks to both for stopping by. :)

Myze said...

My point is not that Rend and Tear is a bad talent, my point is that it seems to be a little hyped up. Yes, it is definitely a good talent, I'm just really split on whether I should take it or not.

So I analyzed it and found that maybe it's not as bad as I thought at first, and probably not as good as a lot of people are saying. However, you'll get no argument from me that Rend and Tear provides the most threat out of optional talents (though it is still behind Savage Fury, Leader of the Pack, and Primal Precision.) I just don't know if the extra threat will be all that important with all the buffs to tank threat that are already in WotLK.

Figgster said...

I was wondering why you have omen of clarity listed as a 'core' talent. Outside of cat dps, I don't see it as the boon that it once was. In TBC we took it because it saved us 15 rage appx every 30 seconds, which wasn't bad since we were frequently rage starved.

With the implementation of natural reaction, and the reduction of our armor, we won't be rage starved like we used to be, and therefore I don't see it as mandatory anymore. Others' thoughts are appreciated. :)

Kalon said...

Hey, Figgster - thanks for stopping by. :)

OoC isn't as important for MT duties, that's for sure. In BC with heavy avoidance OoC was one of the nice ways to avoid rage starvation. In WotLK, that's not going to be the case simply because avoidance will not be coming close to going that high and the emphasis is on mitigation, which means a nice, steady diet of rage. Between that and NR, we should have all the rage we want.

For offtanking however, OoC becomes really strong. Why? Because of Maul. Maul has, if anything, gained even more prevalence as the threat generator of choice, so much that skipping lacerates/swipes is likely better than skipping mauls. Since OoC's proc rate has been increased significantly, you can expect a lot more procs - which means more mauls, potentially. OoC is proccing twice every 30 seconds now for cats; you can expect 3 or 4 procs every 30 seconds as a bear.

The final reason is for cat form. For 1 talent point you do about 10% more DPS as a cat. For me, that's a big enough win; even knowing that I will not be able to seamlessly switch from bear to cat role and be the best cat ever, it's nice knowing that I can switch gear and do fairly good DPS or even not switch gear (say, on Brutallus) and do decent DPS. It's an absolutely essential talent for DPS and so cheap at what it provides that I recommend it on that basis.

But honestly? At 70 it can be skipped. There's just too much good stuff in the feral tree (like berserk) that I think it's perfectly reasonable as a tank in 3.02 to go without it. Just make sure to save a few points to get it in the future, especially when grinding.

Rocc said...

Im on Figgsters side about OoC, but i say that you got more use for beserker then Ooc for tanking, but can`t say if its needed for raid instances like SSC/Tk or even lower if you get so low threat there because the mobs hits you for too low dmg.

But can`t see the reason for having Feral Instinct and improved motw if you are going for Ooc.

They are so useless in raids where u got resto druids for the buff and there is so low aoe dmg that Feral Instinct wont be needed.

Even tho BLizz has done it more difficult for us to specc both dps and tanking after the wotlk speccs came, so can you easily just go tank specc and have lower dps in cat form and have a high tps in bear and still be useful for raids, all other dps classes got so high dmg now.

Even BT is boring to go now since its too easy to kill bosses.

Kalon said...

Hey, Rocc - thanks for coming by. :)

Feral Instinct's main benefit is the 30% more swipe damage, which makes AoE threat a lot better and makes AoE grinding much easier. After doing this some I can't go back to the old way. Your mileage may vary, of course - but it's not a core talent.

OoC really isn't needed for rage generation unless the mechanics of a given fight are starving you for some reason. With Natural Reaction you tend to be swimming in rage.

Imp MotW is simply a filler talent. It's mostly that furor is not that good. With 3 points you'll have to powershift twice at the beginning of a fight to get the 10 rage, which isn't that hard. Imp MotW gives you some backup in case you've not got any other druids - such as in 5 and 10 mans.

And I wouldn't judge any talent's efficacy on the ease of raiding in 3.0.2. While it's not Sunwell-hard, raiding in Wrath is significantly harder.

Rocc said...

well furor is mostly useless, but what if your for example not in bear form and need to take a target fast so will the extra 10rage when u go into bear be good to have for a charge or anything else.

But about something else, the armor to a druid. It is reduced after the new patch, but does the talent "protector of the pack" work together with the normal armor if you are in a party?

Kalon said...

Rocc -

Furor isn't bad exactly, it's just not as good as it used to be. There are plenty of places where it is good - you have one example. Another is shifting out of snare effects and having some rage. Another is if you have to go from cat to bear to pick up some marauding add. There are plenty of places where it can be useful.

But you can say that for a lot of talents. And like I said, if worse comes to worse you can shift a couple times to get the rage if you really need to.

As to protector of the pack, it multiplies on damage reduced. So basically apply armor, then apply PotP. If you have 60% reduction from armor and a 12% PotP reduction, you'll take:

(1-60%) * (1-12%) = 35.2% damage.

Not super hot, but better than nothing.