Items and Equipment
So with the announcement that WotLK will likely be released in Q4 of this year, the countdown to shiny new levels begins and with it, an increase in not only speculation but in Blue posts discussing what’s to come, what to expect, and why. Today, an interesting Blue post landed and along with the changes we’ve already seen or heard discussed, drops a lot of excitement and worry onto our fuzzy little heads. First, a few notes: Ferals are now known to be sharing the majority of our armor with Rogues. This means that the absolute armor available to us will be going down as high armor pieces in leather may be unknown as we know them today. Survival of the Fittest, when maxxed, will reduce the chance we’ll be critted by 6%, more than enough for a raid boss as it stands today. The implication is that we will not need Defense on our armor and perhaps not even on our jewelry. This further strengthens the case we’ll be sharing gear with Rogues. We are also getting some apparently significant buffs to our DPS capabilities in Cat Form via improved Feral AP, a new finisher, and refined talents. Warriors and Paladins look to have their AoE tanking improved. I don’t see anything being done to improve Bear tanking with the exception of the reduced timer on Challenging Roar… which doesn’t cut it. Taunts != Threat-building tools, they’re just emergency buttons. Well, here we go:
The changes made to things like armor were done mostly to solve itemization problems. We didn’t make them to nerf Ferals (or anyone). We did them because we started to consider bosses who needed to drop 30 different pieces of armor (or tokens to trade for them or whatever) because classes and even specs were heading off into distinct niches. You’ll get something to make up for it. No, you aren’t there yet.
Hopeful. Very hopeful. One one hand, I’m not keen to look like a Rogue with a staff, but we all know how much that affects our Robert Smith costume, while on the other, I do enjoy that this could reduce frustration at farming a given piece quite a bit. The vague promise of more to come is tantalizing, but the cynic in me thinks that the implication is juicier than the reality.
We’re not entirely happy with the way the Feral ended up in BC. The idea was that you could be a decent tank and a decent melee DPS class, so Ferals were something you wanted to bring if you weren’t the kind of guild that swapped different people out for every boss. But I don’t think "convenience factor" is ultimately a great value to bring to a raid. The problem was we were kind of stuck because if we made Ferals end-game tanks and amazing melee, then the rogues were screwed, because they couldn’t go respec to tank or heal.
Interesting. Not entirely happy. It’s nice to see that they’ve noticed the vaunted versatility of the hybrid classes was never a reality in BC. Given the general difficulty of instanced encounters, specialization was and is highly encouraged, such that I still don’t consider Druids to be Hybrids in the commonly accepted sense of the term. Spec-dependent specialist, perhaps. What is disheartening, though, is to see the tired refrain that Rogues can’t do this or that so we shouldn’t compete. Warriors, for instance, are frequently seen to perform as well as Rogues on the meters, yet they can respec to be phenomenal tanks. Is it our extra role, the healing? No, it’s that we can do much of our tanking and DPS with the same spec. Still, the comparison is weak. I don’t intend to get into ground I’ve covered before but we’re talking about a difference of scope and function, and the two classes just aren’t comparable, regardless of surface similarities.
But now we have a chance to add some new talents, and we’d like for some of them to be the kind that let a druid declare that she is more of a cat or more of a bear. It doesn’t have to be shoehorning two whole talent trees into one, but even offering a few choices would go a long way.
Druids are unique in that they “ought” to have 4 talent trees if the intent is to separate tanking and DPS talents, but as that’s not likely an option I do think we’ll continue to have a mixed tanking/DPS feral build with the real separation of spec coming in PvE and PvP flavors when it all shakes out. I am inclined to say that because they keep talking about improved DPS for both Protection specs, among others, which minimizes complaints about Druids being simultaneously tanks and DPS.
I didn’t mean to sound condescending. The pot example was to offer that we haven’t forgotten about bears. My point was NOT: hey, you lost armor but gee you got health stones, so why all the QQing? It was cool to see those big armor numbers on bears, and we have some plans for how to replace them (and not just with pots).
Okay. Interesting. So our armor won’t be great big, but with the rumors that Crushing Blows are going away, the actual need for the huge armor is lessened. Sure it’s not nearly as much fun and given all the other tools they have it’ll be disheartening to see a Warrior or Paladin potentially sporting more of it, but I don’t think this is the end of bears. The thing is, healthstones are nice, but they’re something we should have had all along. We never should have had to write a macro cheat to use them. So…whatever else you have on tap better be good.
The DK gets a lot of attention because it has a lot of catching up to do. There were no DKs in UBRS or MC or TK or even Arathi Basin. Nobody knows how their abilities and power system are going to work so we feel like we have to cover a lot of the ground that was explored literally years ago for some of these other classes.
There is some speculation that it is the complaints of Death Knights that is in part, causing us grief. I don’t read the beta boards nearly enough to say whether this is true. What I do know is that the implementation of a new class is likely very time-consuming from a balance standpoint. I’m willing to bet the biggest post WotLK nerfs won’t be for us, y’know? That said, I’m GLAD they’re trying to avoid that.
We will be really disappointed if there aren’t bears main tanking Naxx and later raids, and cats that if not consistently as high as rouges are at least a lot closer than they are now.
Well, it’s nice to see that even Blizzard likes their ruddy powder. Oh wait, that’s not what they were talking about, was it? So, we’re already great tanks, often limited in the player base’s minds merely by the fact that Crushing Blows aren’t something we can realistically avoid (so we mitigate with incredibly high armor). It’s obvious we’re getting help in the Cat arena but I’m a bit apprehensive about the actual role Bears will play in the tanking sphere. The above assertions are nice, but platitudes are just that, and in an election season we are all too aware of how hollow that can be. I don’t think Druids will realistically be able to move away from an essentially combined Cat/Bear spec, nor do I think they should. Moves to make other classes share a tank spec with some damage output are better spent. Improvements to the class are always welcome, though, and I’m excited to see where we end up. As with all things, changes are unnerving and not always easy to deal with. So for DPS, I’m fairly optimistic and excited; for tanking, I think I’m still hanging outside the polling booth trying to figure out who to vote for.
For more on this topic, I invite you to read one or more of the following: