Thursday, February 12, 2009
I've been reading and posting on the main tanking forums more, especially now that there's news of a new mechanic in 3.1. There's quite a few good posters and good players there, and it's nice to be able to talk with other tanks in a sort of free flow of information that isn't quite so moderated as EJ.
At the same time, there are a ton of druids that are irrationally afraid of what's in store. And one of the things I keep seeing is this basic idea:
"Don't nerf our armor, you've already nerfed our armor twice already!"
"Predictable mitigation is ALWAYS better than RNG mitigation or avoidance!"
I don't want to talk about the incorrectness of the latter; the math has been demonstrated, and it's clear from simple examples that this is going to depend on a lot of things. What struck me as odd is how the identity of the druid tank really seemed to be wedded to having high armor. It didn't matter that things like crushing blows were removed or that bears were given protector of the pack. It doesn't matter that right now, druids are the least spiky they've ever been in the history of WoW (better magic mitigation, usable barkskin in forms, no crushes, PotP, and use of consumables in forms all attribute to this).
All that seemed to matter is that they have huge armor.
I guess I can see that; armor was a huge deal in TBC after all, though avoidance became a lot more important when we could stack 80% of it. But I never really thought of it as my identity. Though to be fair I don't tend to think of myself as a druid or a bear anyway; that's just the toon I play on WoW. But when I think about druids and druid tanking, the thing that I think of first is something I've mentioned before.
To me, playing a feral meant being able to tank in some places and DPS in others. It meant being able to pull using ranged aoe spells and build extra aggro via healing myself. It wasn't in the bosses that I could tank or fights I was more advantaged on, and it certainly wasn't about my gear or the specific values on that gear. Honestly, it's tough for me to imagine any druid identifying with much in the way of gear since itemization was so ass for such a long time; should you identify with the Pillar of Lol? How about that awesome Badge of Tenacity?
No, to me it was about experimentation. About thinking about approaching things differently, figuring out ways to work around disadvantages (like pvp gear or intervenes on shears), to take certain problems (not using potions in bear) and making them advantages (getting 40% more health with a pot drinking macro). For me, that's basically morphed into figuring out what gear and spec I can use to be a great tank and a good DPS at the same time, or how I can tank Sarth without using anyone else's cooldowns.
Nothing intrinsic to feral playing has really changed thematically. Only the specific problems to be solved have. That's a good thing too; I like solving new problems. I like having to figure out new ways to do gear and specs and encounters. That's where I get a lot of pleasure from WoW.
I think that if they made ferals ridiculously rigid - akin to prot/other specs in the other tanking classes - that would make me seriously consider another class. If they made it so that the stats that bears use for tanking and DPSing were hugely different (which is close to what TBC was like) and the spec was hugely different - so much that you could not do decent DPS as a cat while bear-specced - would make me want to switch.
I'm curious though - what do you all think about this? Is being the high-armor, big physical hit tank what being a feral means to you? If you lost all your extra armor and had exactly the same armor that you do in cat but nothing else changed, would that bother you? If you were forced to spec into cat or bear so that you really couldn't do much in the way of damage when bear-specced, would you care?
What's your concept of a feral druid? And what would make you not want to play a feral any more? What's your sacred cow?