A continuation of the big long talk from yesterday.
First, I'd like to say that I really appreciate folks taking the time to look at their fellow tanks in their raiding guilds and do their own legwork on this. It was good to get largely reasonable confirmation that the numbers were correct for other people and that the relative numbers compared to other tanks were at least on par. It gave me some insight as to what is fair and reasonable. For instance - is it okay if druids are below warriors sometimes, depending on gear choices and profession choices? Must they be a bit higher?
But in the end, I think that this sort of stamina nerf would be fair and reasonable across the board, relative to tanks.
The question that wasn't asked but should always be is this: is it fun? Well, clearly being nerfed is never, ever fun. On the flip side, being sat because someone else happens to be playing an overpowered class isn't much fun either. So balance is somewhat important for a lot of people in raiding guilds fighting to get a spot in that guild.
But how many of those out there are there, really? How many people would be benched if (for example) paladins, not druids, had the 15% health lead?
It's not an easy thing to answer. With DPS, it's very simple: either you bring amazingly useful buffs for the rest of the DPS or the raid, or you put out great DPS. This is mitigated by things like 'do you stand in stuff' and 'do you loot whore', but for the most part, we know where DPS stand. If you buffed one class's DPS by 20% over others, tons of people would reroll to that class, and tons of people would welcome them with open arms into raiding.
With healing and tanking I think it comes much more down to the player, not the class. Healing has occasionally been measured by healing meters (which is stupid), but most of the time you bring the healer with the mechanical capabilities you need (Chain Heal, CoH, MC, whatever) or the better role to play (awesome tank heal, awesome movement, etc). It rarely comes down to raw healing output. It's not nearly as quantifiable.
And even less quantifiable is tanking. Tanking has a lot to do with odds and minimizing odds. It has much more to do with being in the right place at the right time, using your abilities the right way, and allowing others to do the right thing. Yes, you can look at health and armor and avoidance and make guesses as to how well a tank could do compared to another tank - and that does happen from time to time. But the bigger limiter isn't class; it's skill.
Now, with DKs a couple things happened. For starters, they were really stupidly overpowered. It wasn't a small degree, it was a huge one. Second, their abilities matched up really well to the encounters. But most importantly, every guild had a TON of DKs waiting in the wings. If you needed another tank, plenty of people would chime in and be happy to go to town. With Naxx, alts had gear, main specs had secondary pieces, etc. It was easy to find a DK with enough stuff ready to tank at least at a decent level, gear wise - and with their overpowered abilities and stats they could find success.
But is the same thing true for ferals? Not really. Having to start from level 1 on a reroll of the flavor of the month is a big difference than getting a ridiculously geared 55 that rolls through early content. Are there a lot of guilds out there with feral tanks waiting to burst on the scene? I don't think that's really true. I can't reasonably study spec/class populations in raids and who gets to do what; I'll leave that to the smarter folks like Flyv. But anecdotally, I hear a lot about not many ferals are seen tanking, or many have chosen to do DPS more than not. It's hard to find a feral tank on my server, and harder to find a good one. Anecdotally, I don't think the population of good feral tanks is particularly high.
So if there's no real danger of people rolling a new feral, and not a lot of guilds have ferals, is it okay if they're not balanced?
I used to think no - it's never okay that they're not balanced. It's not good for the game no matter what. But I talked it over with my wife, and she changed my mind.
The thing is, people do want to have fun playing their character. Some people have fun playing the underdog type - the one that is underpowered but they want to show that they're so awesome they can do well with it anyway. (this, I think, applies to a LOT of protection paladins out there, or did - I know it did for me when I was playing it). Others want to be creative and figure out new, better ways to do old things.
Others want to feel needed - that something they bring to the table isn't done by others. That makes them feel important .
And others simply want to feel like they're super powerful - not only relative to the content they're fighting, but relative to other players. They want to nuke everything and laugh. They want the big numbers, the big crits, the giant stamina. Heck, some don't even care if they're ridiculously awesome tanks; high stamina beats overall survivability, right? It certainly can when trying to find a PUG.
Everyone feels these to some degree or other, but the point is that all of these things exist for people. And I think for a lot of people, if you took away the health and armor advantages that druids have, they'd really cease to be fun. At that point, they wouldn't be overpowered relative to other tanks. They'd be the same - except they'd have worse cooldowns, a more boring rotation, no armor graphics, weird buggy behavior, odd itemization and no real unique abilities.
If you get rid of that, what's left? And it's not a matter of 'why would you bring one' - you'd bring one because they're a good tank, and good tanks are in short supply. No, it's a matter of 'why would you play one?' I think Blizzard did a really exemplary job of making the death knight not only viable but really fun to play; the resource system and the way the trees work along with the graphical awesomeness of the DK made for an excellent hook.
But I don't know whether bears really have those sorts of things.
I'm not saying that everyone would abandon ship if something like a nerf in health combined with a fixing of cooldowns happened. I know I wouldn't; I'd once again figure out how things worked and move on the best I could. Many others I know are the same; they're happy because they can MT anything and do it well, and they're no longer constrained by stupid mechanics requiring shields. Others are just happy they get to tank at all. Yet others really love playing druids because druids are awesome in their own right.
But I do think for many people it would make them change. It would remove the parts of being a druid tank that are fun for them - the big numbers, the feeling like a mighty meat shield. With that gone, they'd move to something that gave them that feeling in some other way.
So right now, I'm not really supporting any big nerf like this would be. Maybe next expansion bears can be revisited heavily, and when that happens things like making bears care more about druid abilities, rotations, interesting shifting mechanics, resource management, itemization and graphics can be fixed. And if bears need a stamina nerf now, perhaps a small one will work to do the trick and balance them reasonably.
But I don't think there's a need for it, not yet at least. Because sometimes, fair and balanced isn't what people want, and it's not what's actually fun.