Spells and Talents
We all like to think we don’t care what other people think of us, but this is patently untrue. As small children, we seek largely for the approval of the adults in our lives, and as teenagers – the point in our lives where we push hard for our independence from those same adults – even the fringe activities we engage in are given their veracity primarily through the fact that they continue to express themselves through grouping. From goths and cheerleaders to geeks and soccer-queens, human beings not only group, but seek acceptance through conformity, even if that conformity takes the shape of rebellion or rejection. As a 30-something I see grouping in people my age and older. Even the marginalized and socially rebellious group for approval and acceptance.
So it was that Phae showed me Talent Chic and I noticed that my spec is nowhere on the list. My initial reaction was that I must have missed the boat. Somewhere, somehow, people were seeing things I wasn’t and suddenly, I had to rethink my spec.
But as I started looking it over, I realized that were I to respec, I’d likely pick the same points all over again. Why? I’ve read the arguments for and against certain talents and I’ve looked at the math involved and I know that not all my choices are optimal, so why did I pick what I did?
Well, let’s look it over and find out.
First, I think it’s important to understand the realities of the way you play. What content do you find yourself in frequently and what content do you need to be able to perform well in? What sort of role do you play in said content and what are the classes and capabilities of the people you’ll be grouping with? How much do you solo, how much do you tank, group, quest for dailies or PvP?
For a long time, I’ve been the big bad Druid tank of my guild. My playtime is limited, thus my raid time is also limited and based in part on my performance (I’m really not trying to be arrogant, I’ve just done it for a long time and several cited me as an inspiration), several others have also taken up the mantle of the Dire Bear. As such, my capabilities have been eclipsed in no small measure. Most of them are my statistical equal or superior at this point and are accomplished tanks in their own right, independent of any guidance or inspiration I may have been.
Many of the others have followed Phae Phae into Resto while a few more than that have gone the route of the Laser Chicken, confidently calling death and destruction from the heavens. To whit: DPS and Healing, when not covered by “pure” classes, are as well and truly covered as Bear tanking.
As has been discussed many times over, there is a fundamental lack of tanking Mains in the world, something our guild never really felt until daily Heroics were implemented. In and of themselves, they didn’t – of course – cause a tank shortage. What they did, with their lockouts and badge bonuses, was make it so that only about half the guild had ready access to daily Heroic runs.
So the net result of all this is that I am still needed to tank frequently, but just as frequently, I find myself soloing dailies, filling in for a DPSer that drops from a run in progress, or some other task that requires a generalized Feral Druid. My role, as I approached my build, was one of MT/DPS/OT, about in that order. I must be able to drop into an MT role in a raid (I can and have, even for one boss fight I made it to in MH) just as easily as I must be able to become a purple kitty (please, FSM, please let me be a Snow Leopard soon!).
So first things first.
Furor, while nice, is really just a speed bump to Naturalist and Omen of Clarity. I happen to be one of those who shifts a lot even in PvE content, moving between encounters in Elf form and shifting to Dire Bear during a pull. My typical pull involves Moonfire on a secondary un-CC’d target, then shifting and going to my tanking rotation. I hate looking at my big fuzzy ass all the time so I shift. It’s likely not the most efficient method. Sue me. I still like Furor for its mechanics, though.
Naturalist provides me with both threat and damage and as such, is a nice payoff, even if you consider it’s essentially 1% per point if Furor is useless to you. 2% per point if you make active use of it.
Omen of Clarity. Oddly, this talent has seen a lot of discussion as to its relative worth on the boards. I still see it proc a lot and free rage and energy is hybrid utility in a talent at its best. I also get endless amusement at having it go off when I’m crafting.
Now here’s where, in the Resto tree, it gets a little dicey. I shift enough and occasionally PvP such that Natural Shapeshifter is immensely appealing, and the crit from Master Shapeshifter is also tempting to the point of salivation. However – and you knew that was coming because you are far more astute than any Druid Pundit credits you with – we are now looking at slightly less than 1% damage increase per point for MSS if we factor in the cost of NSS. This discounts the bonuses Cat gets talented from critical hits, but you get the point. It’s a pair of skills that would increase my combo point usage and increase my quality of life (not to mention my PvP viability for those rare times I PvP), but that come at a cost of 5 points quite possibly better spent elsewhere.
It’s important to note that I am not a believer that any and all talents should be valued on their ROI (Return On Investment) but on a broader spectrum of form, function, and perk. So take it with a grain of salt when I say something isn’t worth it. Even though I’m probably right. =P
Now is when we really get to the meat of my odd little spec and I attempt futilely to defend and explain my choices.
Feral Instinct gives us tanking utility and a measure of padding for both soloing and PvP while Savage Fury gives us a damage boost to the most commonly used abilities we have, increasing our DPS and threat. That’s got to be a no-brainer. Zombie players of Druids probably have the sense to spec that.
Thick Hide is purely for tanking. With our armor lost from items, it’s even more critical for players that want to tank to snatch up this talent in its entirety. For an end-game Druid it’s worth more than 2000 armor.
Feral Swiftness is as much for moving faster unmounted as it is for the dodge bonus, though the dodge bonus is how we justify this talent because even I wouldn’t touch it if all it did was let me run faster. I don’t PvP enough for me to get a skill that’d only do that.
Survival Instincts I almost skipped. Before you groan at my stupidity, let me explain myself. I’m a Druid tank. To date, my only emergency tools in tanking form have been, in order of access: Frenzied Regeneration, a potting macro, and a couple trinkets. I am flat-out not used to tanking with any way to stave off the inevitable and I’ve been remarkably successful for it. My first reaction to it, thus, was to wonder if I’d even remember to use it, let alone use it effectively. But when I realized that it’d bestow an emergency 6k (or close to it) health for 20 seconds, it was really hard to keep telling myself the point would be wasted.
Here’s hoping I remember to use it.
Sharpened Claws is our crit boost and good for both bear and cat, but for obviously different reasons. Slaved to Primal Fury the efficacy of this talent is enough to kick me in the face. More please. The other talent opened up with Sharpened Claws is Primal Precision. Now, there appears to be a significant amount of Expertise gear in the game later on, so this could be something I spec out of later, but for now, the boost to Expertise is outstanding, not to mention the energy return portion of this talent making it really nice for cats, too. I wonder how much of the benefit of the refund is negated by the other portion of the talent, though (that’s idle curiosity, nothing more really).
Feral Charge should be obvious, and Survival of the Fittest has significant value even if you don’t need or want the crit immunity (though why you wouldn’t, even if you aren’t a tank, is beyond me) just for the stat boost. Predatory Strikes and Heart of the Wild boost threat and damage. Good deal.
Nurturing Instinct was skipped because… well because it’s garbage. I wouldn’t even put that in a PvP build. Brutal Impact looks tasty for both forms, but I’ll be honest and admit I don’t use my stuns much. 2 points saved. Shredding Attacks is nice, but I need to be group DPSing to really get the mileage out of it I’d want, so I skipped that, too. I do DPS in groups, but not enough to warrant the talent.
I have serious issues with Protector of the Pack, but it’s the best thing we’ve got of its kind, and I can’t really pimp Thick Hide if I’m willing to skip this one. Improved Leader of the Pack isn’t really a necessity, but I like it and the soloing longevity I get from it, as well as the rather miniscule cushion it provides my healers. The mana regen mechanic is interesting, but I’d still like to see something more fundamental to the form to handle that, since it seems we’re not getting mana on our gear anymore.
Finally, I put 2/3 into Infected Wounds. Widely regarded as primarily a PvP talent, the tanking applications and even soloing application should be obvious. It’s more damage reduction.
The easy cop-out answer is that I don’t have enough points. So juggle some around, you might say! After all, many of those I picked (after all Infected Wounds, Improved Leader of the Pack, Feral Charge and Survival Instincts are more luxury than necessity) can be dumped to make room, and some would make the case that all the points I put into Resto are wasted.
King of the Jungle is a damage boost in bear and an energy burst in cat. God that’s tempting. I really do want it. Tiger’s Fury finally useful? Wow. I’m in shock.
Rend and Tear speaks directly to how we do our damage, through bleeds and abilities that augment or are augmented by them. It also makes Ferocious Bite… bite less. Overall, a very tasty talent.
I fully intend to grab both of those when I level.
So… Berserk. 51 points. I’m not sure what to think of the talent, to be honest. I have a tendency to forget cooldown abilities and I’m unnaturally tied to Omen of Clarity, too much for my own good, I think.
A few things that stand out to me is that Barkskin is okay for tanking, but the damage reduction is fairly underwhelming in the few situations I’ve used it while Frenzied Regeneration is my new best friend (especially glyphed). Survival Instincts is interesting and something I’m trying to learn to use effectively.
Overall, I’ve been pretty underwhelmed by the patch in general, though I am starting to suspect that my spec is part of the issue. I think I’ll be trying out a full Cat and full Bear spec in the near future to see what happens.