Earlier I posted about some of the things that I'm excited about for Bears in WotLK. There was a lot I had problems with too, but we'll leave them aside. Because this post? All about the new hotness. And trust me, it's hawt.
For starters, Barkskin is usable in all forms. This isn't a shield wall; you don't prevent a ton of damage like shield wall does. But over time it's as good, and it is situationally better than shield wall in a number of circumstances. For instance, it's a lot better against something like Brutallus with it's 1-minute cooldown. And it's usable as a cat, too! Survivability in PvP just went way up. Really great change, but ya know, we already had barkskin. That can't be it, right?
Nope! Ferals get a new 11-point talent, Survival Instincts. This is the Last Stand separated out from Berserk. True, Berserk no longer gets this, but that's fine; if worse comes to worse use both at the same time. Having it earlier in the tree gives Ferals a nice talent, and man is it nice to have the threat/fear break component broken away from the Last Stand component.
Hmm...where did Feral Faerie Fire go then? Wait a sec...it's now trainable. W00t!
And Bash now acts as a spell interrupt as well as a stunner! That means for mobs that are immune to stun (or resist the stun part) it will interrupt their spellcasting, similar to pummel. Finally bears get a spell interrupt at close range.
So if Berserk lost the Last Stand component, isn't it a bit boring? Not any more - because as a bear, it removes the cooldown from Mangle. 15 seconds of mangling that hits 3 targets? And it's only on a 3-minute cooldown? 10 mangles for 15 seconds is pretty hot.
But our tree is bloated! Not any more! Predatory Instincts got reduced to a 3-point talent that does everything the 5-point did AND reduces AOE damage by 15%. Mitigation is always better than avoidance because it's predictable, which means for 2 fewer talent points we get a better overall talent. And what can you spend those 2 points on? If you like, the improved Brutal Impact, which heavily reduces the cooldown of Bash.
Some of the talents sucked before though - like Rend And Tear. Well, Rend And Tear's effect was doubled. 20% more maul damage? 20% more shred damage? Yikes. What was a marginal 5-point talent now is a great 5-point talent, only beaten by savage fury, primal precision (when capped) and LotP for threat per talent point.
With no intellect on gear, there were reports of shifting costing too much. That was helped by adding an 8% mana return based on max mana every time LotP triggers. Best part is that you get the mana back even if you don't get healed for anything. Nice for PvP!
But itemization sucks for druids! We have to wear rogue gear and random non-druid tanking gear! Waaaaah! Well, okay, that kinda still sucks. PvP leather gear is either as good or better than PvE gear for Bears at the same iLvl. Meh. However, we get some new hotness. There's a new blue trinket that beats the pants off of Badge of Tenacity. And then there's an epic trinket that is simply ridiculous. So ridiculous, we will have to have a picture of a bear dancing on a trampoline.
Defender's Code850 armor? Are you kidding? Wow. WOW. Combine that with a Moroes-like on-use bonus and you've got the best trinket imaginable for druid tanking.
Binds when picked up
Requires Level 80
Use: Increases parry dodge by 455 (10.17% @ L80) for 20 sec. (2 Min Cooldown)
Wait a sec, you say - what's this 'parry dodge' thing? Well, there exist a number of items now that have been changed so that any parry rating is converted to dodge rating if you cannot parry, at a 1-1 ratio. Which means all that wasted parry on gear we share will be non-wasted dodge rating.
With these itemizations we're looking at breaking 40k armor in Naxx-25 gear. With something like inspiration procs, we'll actually be at the cap again. Except this time, Bears will have another 12% mitigation thanks to Protector of the Pack.
The depressed bear in me thinks we'll be nerfed soon. But right now? Things are looking way up.