Field Testing, Druid Tank: Patch 3.0.2 Changes

18 10 2008

  In the process of Herbing for my Inscription needs, I’ve had a chance to test out what effect the new mechanics have had on my tanking abilities. It’s a limited sample to be sure; I have yet to run in a group with Rib to see how it goes, though I’ll certainly cross that bridge this weekend. Primarily, I’ve just been sampling the local fauna to see what shakes out.

  With Ribeye, I continue to be underwhelmed. In fact, it’s really starting to feel like a sense of loss. Perhaps I just need to get more accustomed to my new hot buttons; with a rotation of trinkets (currently, Moroes’ Watch and Badge of Tenacity), Barkskin, Frenzied Regeneration, the “Last Stand” thingy and the Herbalism HoT, I can buy a fair amount of time with some sort of bonus mitigation or other. The issue to me is, I just can’t take the pounding like I used to. I’ve noticed an increase in Bear damage to be sure, even without Berserk – but this is addressing the wrong side of the coin.

  Nearly every change that has been made to the Feral tree is aimed at one of two things – increasing DPS, or presenting some gimmick to offset what they took from Bears. I’ve never though of my DPS as an issue, personally. Don’t get me wrong; it’s great that, should I want to go full-cat (and I probably will for levelling), I can spec something that will allow me to post respectable DPS numbers. As a Bear, though, it’s a non-issue. My DPS as a tank was somewhere around 385 (before 3.0.2) or so most of the time. Sure, it’s not great – but it’s almost double what a Prot Warrior at a similar gear level puts out, and in line with a Pallytank. Main Tank DPS is a complete throwaway number to me anyhow, since it’s not the thing that you should be focusing on, unless your threat generation is coming up short.

  Any good tank knows, it’s all about mitigation and avoidance. Avoid as many hits as you can, and lessen the ones that land. In the process of soaking this damage, you have to deal out enough annoyance to the mob being tanked – threat – that it’s anger stays focused on you. This is where I beef with the new changes. More or less, I feel like an Arms Warrior in good gear that’s tanking. My mitigation is good, but without Parry or Block, it’s missing some key components that stop it from being great. I’m inherently gimped from the start because all I have is Dodge and Armor – and my Armor now is reminiscent of the days when I was just starting to hit my stride in Heroics, the kind of stuff that any freshly-minted 70 Druid could achieve in a week or two. Thus, I’m inordinately squishy. Pre-patch, I was at ~33,600 armor. Now, I don’t even hit 24,000.

  In case you haven’t looked me up on the Armory, or if I was in DPS gear when you did, I’m operating with every available Badge piece, plus the best available through BOE crafting, Kara, Gruul, Mags, and most of Zul’Aman. Every piece has been chanted and gemmed appropriately for tanking, and BeImba’s ranking / evaluation of my gear put it as “MH / BT” level for my capabilities.

  I tested out my damage soaking by kiting a Fel Reaver into Thrallmar for the guards to mess with. Before 3.0.2, this was no contest. I could hang in long enough, on gear and trinkets, for the guards to down it by the time I was around 30% health. Now? It’s the Fel Reaver thats at 30% when I drop. With results like this, it’s abundantly clear that I have no business whatsoever resuming my old role as the Main Tank for heavies like Magtheridon or Gruul (well, maybe to eat the Hurtful Strikes, I guess.) Pushing new content is right out; there’s no way I’m a suitable tank for something like Tidewalker at this point.

  I’m not going to point at the talent tree for the issue; whatever they’ve done as far as new abilities and coefficients isn’t what’s causing my problems (outside of, possibly, the 400 -> 370% Dire Bear change). What’s ripping me up is the item changes, specifically the removal of bonus armor from leather pieces. I’m finding this to be a bit perplexing in a lot of regards as well, since leather seems to be the only thing hit. Slikk’s Cloak of Placation, for instance, still has bonus armor. Ditto for the Violet Signet of the Great Protector, and the Ring of Unyielding Force. I understand that Blizzard is trying to mainstream gear so that it’s less spec or class specific. What I don’t get is the rationale on the armor. No other tanking class lost out on their “bonus armor” items (of course, the only plate wearers are Paladins and Warriors anyways.) Yet, in the interest of items “rollable by all”, pieces like the Bands of the Swift Paw, or Tameless Breeches – leather with intellect, which no sane Rogue will ever take – have been nerfed down. Now, they benefit nobody. Class (and Spec) specific Tier pieces ate a heavy dose of nerf bat, too – and there’s nobody but a Feral that’s going to wear them! Rogues and Feral cats are going to look for Agility-heavy gear that stacks Attack Power, Hit Rating and/or Crit. Moonkins and Trees are going for Spellpower and Intellect. That leaves the supposed “tanking” gear, that’s now nothing more than a nominal collection of big stat numbers but nothing to mitigate. Weak armor, no +defense, no +dodge, nothing. In effect, all that a Bear Druid is now is a big ol’ furry health pool without adequate mitigation skills to make up for what they lack in outright avoidance. Know what that means? You’re a Mana sponge, and endless pit for your healers to try and stay on top of. I’ll probably run some kind of 5-man heroic, or possibly Kara this weekend just to put it to a greater test, but I’m just not enamored enough with the results as they currently stand.

  Fortunately, it seems that the bulk of problems are gear-based. I don’t know what’s in store for WotLK, though it’s obviously going to be escalating. I’ve read that a complete set from Naxx, with the right drops, can put a Bear over 40,000 again. If this is true, then I guess it’s something that I can live with.

  In the short term, though, it feels like someone cut off my arm. My favorite character, the one whom I have put the most time and effort into, and the one whom I have enjoyed playing more than any other over the last year, can no longer effectively do his job until the expansion – and that sucks. Maybe I’ll go back to being a Tree for the next month, so that I can keep my pride…

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