Hey guys I know it’s been awhile but I promise you in my absence I have not been neglecting the blue announcements. This night I’d like to shift focus and look into the other side of the feral tree our brothers in fur, da bears! I’ve been a full time bear for a few weeks as one of our guilds MT’s had to step away from the game. For those of you who have to tank some, or all fights this post will be more directed for you.
4.1 has been pretty neglectful in the cat dps side of things so far, while there’s still hope for an announcement there has been some interesting things I’ve noticed thus far for our bear brethren.
First comes to very large assortment of bear damage increases coped with of course the change to savage defense we’ve been discussing on the forums
- Savage Defense has been redesigned slightly. Instead of a single charge absorption, it now places an absorption effect on the druid absorbing up to 35% of the druid’s attack power (modified by mastery, if applicable) in damage and lasting 10 seconds. There are no longer any charges on the effect.
- Swipe (Bear) cooldown has been reduced to 3 seconds, down from 6, and is now trainable at level 18 (training cost has been reduced). In addition, the bonus threat from this ability has been removed and replaced with increased damage done.
- Thrash bonus threat has been removed and replaced with increased damage done.
Let’s break this down into 2 topics. First the removal of the added threat and increase to damage done. Most of you remember the nerf to Mangle damage bears went through not so long ago. This nerf was largely due to the fact that we were destroying the other tanks on the damage meters. While Swipe isn’t in a single target tanking rotation, Thrash most certainly is. The change is nice and should, if done correctly, scale a lot better then the threat modifier in higher gear levels; however, I highly see this being a change that gets reverted once we see how this effects our damage output in a raid setting.
As for Savage Defense, the change is exactly what we needed. However, there’s been some ptr reports on it being pretty buggy. Blizzard tried to explain that tracking the shields with 3rd party addons like recount can cause misleading information in the combat logs:
- There are two issues here.
One is that the combat log is saying “refresh” in a confusing way when it’s really just applying damage to the shield (i.e. a new shield has not been created). We’re looking at some ways that might be fixed.
The second issue has to do with our combat log (or third party logs) apparently disagreeing about what happened. Remember, our combat calculations are done on the realm side and then reported to the client, but the client only gets those reports periodically. The message has to travel a potentially long distance between your client and our realms. It’s important that the calculations are done realm-side though, to maintain gameplay integrity.
Because of the latency inherent in client – realm communication, it can appear that a hit lands before the shield procs, yet still applies to the shield, leading to the mistaken impression that the proc isn’t occurring properly. In reality, the server is (probably) performing the steps correctly, but the client sometimes lags behind. For example, there’s a case where what actually happened is this sequence: 1) shield proc, 2) hit, 3) absorb, but the client is slightly behind and instead (incorrectly) shows 1) hit, 2) shield proc, 3) absorb in the combat log. Or it could appear that you lost shield points without actually taking less damage, when in reality either the shield or your health pool weren’t affected. Or it could appear that if you take multiple hits nearly simultaneously that the shield did nothing to the later hits, but in reality the shield was gone on the first hit and your client just hasn’t been notified of that fact yet. We will investigate this issue just to make sure, but we’re pretty confident that Savage Defense and Blood Shield are working correctly and are just sometimes getting misreported. With Savage Defense lasting longer in 4.1, you may see this kind of thing more often.
The takeaway is that latency can in some cases cause combat log display issues like the one we’re seeing here. We understand that a lot of you use the combat log as a reporting tool to analyze a fight after the fight has concluded. The combat log as currently implemented is supposed to give you a data feed in real time. We’d like to redesign the combat log to fill that post-combat analysis role better (as Ghostcrawler alluded to in a recent Q&A) but that is a Very Big Task. Just delaying the current combat log so that it was in 100% parity with the server could cause serious issues with third party mods among other things, so we have to be careful not to turn a single screw and end up dismantling the whole machine, so to speak. Despite its limitations, it remains an accurate and useful tool in the vast majority of circumstances.
The change overall sounds awesome and sound help in a lot of aoe situations, but I think Felhoof on our forums said it best:
- It actually helps a lot less than you think depending on how they implement it. Right now the problem isn’t dinky hits vs super big hits – it’s super big hits vs mostly big hits.
Heroic mobs can hit for upwards of 10-20k depending. SD currently gets wasted on the 10k, but not as much as you’d think – close to 5-10k is wasted. That’ll help, but if that 10k gets refreshed by another crit (which is almost certainly going to happen with swipe) you’re not gaining anything if you wouldn’t have gotten hit in that time.
Now if they allow SD to stack in damage absorption that would solve both issues and make the only problem that it doesn’t actually scale with incoming damage. Still, it would go a long, long way towards fixing most of the issues with SD and making it significantly stronger for bears.
I know a lot of tanking deathknights who in times of offtanking would simple deathstrike every 5 secs to roll a rather large shield on themselves. When they needed to finally taunt they’d have that up. Savage defense is powerful but a 50% chance on crit will always be 50% chance on crit no matter how you look at it. Until there’s away to get the absorb effect to stack on savage defense my suggestion is to remain placing shield tanks on add/multi-mob tanking duty.
As always let me know what you think, I know a bear article isn’t the norm here; however, I do get pm’s on the forums asking me how I handle tanking situations so I’m sure some, if not most, of the readers will appreciate. Feel free to post here or even better get topics up on the forums for discussion, if you have a very well thought out post like Felhoof I’ll be sure to include it in front page material.
Until Next Time