Apr 062011

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


 Posted by at 9:31 pm

  23 Responses to “Bears Count as Ferals, Right?”

  1. More Bear post plx. Almost every cat in a raiding guild tanks at sometime or another. I used to not have to, but my druid friend abandoned me leaving me as the cat that has to tank.

  2. The SD change will likely be fairly small in the grand scheme of things. Bears can tank the adds on every fight in the game already. They are, however, the worst at it and given the choice you should always let a shield tank tank the adds. After the change to SD that will still be the case.

    It’s a small step in the right direction that we didn’t NEED but it will be nice.

    I also agree that the damage increase is going to make bears the highest dps tank again. We will have to see if it is enough that Blizz needs to knock us down again. The reduced CD on swipe is a nice QoL improvement, especially for low level bears.

    When it’s all said and done, I think all these changes won’t add up to anything too major. Now we just need them to fix cat AoE.

  3. I haven’t seen anyone mention this as a possibility for kittys facing 6+mobs, but have we considered the possibility of using bear “enrage+swipe,thrash,swipe” attack sequences now that these abilities have been buffed?

    I’ve been playing with this idea, but i wouldn’t know how to actually model it. . . but basically I’m looking at the possibility of inserting this string into the rotation of cat-swipes while energy is being pooled from near zero energy (with 3 points in furor) and berserk and TF are on cd.

    Side note: I’ve also been playing with the idea of using thorns on the tank while energy is pooling, for both single and multi-target encounters. (made a 1 button, 2-step castsequence macro that puts thorns on the tank without having to switch targets . . . only problem is, is that its difficult to track the effectiveness with thorns not registering into our dps recounts)

    • Just a quick comment on thorns or any sort of casting. If you have the 4 piece tier, you lose the Panther buff when you shapeshift. Despite being retired from the game, Yawning recently did some testing on an experimental version of Mew and with a full 372 geared profile he measured around a 110 dps loss for casting a single rebirth in a 5 minute patchwork style fight.

      At the very least you would need to ignore the 4 piece set bonus if you started using thorns on cooldown lest you spend most of your filler attacks on mangle to re-stack the Panther buff.

      You would also need to be very cognizant of the timing – since you are looking at two gcds before you could use your next yellow attack.

      • Thanks for the reply Leafkiller. =)

        I don’t yet have the 4pc so I didn’t even think of that when considering using non-kitty abilities to boost our dps rotation in specific instances.

        I’m gonna hold onto the idea and play with it a bit, solely focusing on add phase scenarios then for where the loss of the Panther buff might still be overshadowed by a possible buff to short term aoe damage output.

        I wonder if Panther is working as intended, or if the devs will make it behave like SR in a future patch . . . anywho, thanks for the feedback. =D

  4. As always thanks for the blog, and the update on DA BEARS!! I do both in raids, tank and dps, and alot of ferals do even if it isnt in a raid, they will tank heroics to get around long dps ques. So anything feral is always helpful. Thanks again.

  5. I’ve been watching these changes rather closely, as I was a bear through wrath, but have mostly been a cat since cata due to how embarrassed I feel every time I try to tank anything with more then 2 adds.
    I was looking at this SD change and thinking it looks good on paper but without some sort of stacking mechanism it isn’t going to change much… It’s good to see that I wasn’t completely out in left field.

  6. Some corrections:

    The swipe/thrash change is threat-neutral. Both looked like this before:

    base damage * bear threat multiplier *1.5 = total threat.

    Now they look like this:
    (base damage *1.5) * bear threat multiplier

    That’s it.

    The bigger change is to lacerate; lacerate’s ‘high threat’ component has been altered and more damage has been given. This will make it scale better (it will scale on crits now) and more importantly it will do a TON of damage.

    Swipe will likely overtake lacerate in firelands as a single target boost.

    Reesi estimates this is about, overall, an 8-10% dps gain.

    • Something needed to be done about lacerate. I AM NOT A GOOD TANK by any strech of the imagination. I get forced into it at times but that is what happens when you are in a raiding guild. But honestly tanking a raid mob after you pop beserk and mangle, maul, and thrash on cd you aren’t getting caught on threat. If you are you aren’t getting things as soon as they come off cd. It doesn’t do enough damage to really become a priority. Especially if you aren’t a full time raiding tank that is more worried about making sure you don’t screw up the boss mechanics than if the closest person is at 65% threat instead of 75%.

      • You might be disappointed then; lacerate’s not going to be THAT much better than it was in terms of threat. Just in terms of damage. At least right now. As crit rates go up and as AP goes up you should see better returns there.

        • Yeah but with more damage even lazy bad bears like me will use it more. I probably need start really getting serious about bear because I think we are going to just go with two main tanks and instead of recruiting one just use myself and another main dps’s offspec since our gear is getting pretty good. As soon as a damn pair of boots drop. LoL we have been doing heroic halfus for literally months now and we have rouges that have been thier since the begining without the boots.

    • Nice catch, I still can’t believe they’d buff our damage after the nerfs but hey if cats can’t get a damage increase might as well put one somewhere in the feral tree.

  7. How will these changes affect 5 man heroic tanking?

    For our 10 man team I’m DPS but for other folks in the guild I used to tank 5-mans for em. I stopped doing it because on 4-5 packs where we had no CC, I never felt I was doing a good enough job, because it was a complete panic for me. Spamming swipe and thrash every time they were up and in between that, going “Oh crap!” spamming tab & lacerate like a lunatic. Didn’t take long for me to realize if thats what tanking is like now, I’ll pass.

    Guild mates said I did fine, and maybe I did or didn’t, but I never felt confident. Do you think this change in cool down to swipe will help, or does the threat reduction negate that? I’m not looking for a return to Wrath spam swipe and win tanking, I just want aoe tanking (when you can’t cc) to feel more under control.

    • Tanking 5mans in 372 gear is pretty faceroll atm, I use to do the whole tab target thing but now it’s pretty much just trash and swipe on cd.
      If your guild can run right into firelands and get you some of the 378 normal gear that will drop in there, then the old heroics should be pretty much aoe tank feast, not sure how ZG/ZA will match up though.

      • My tanking gear is mostly 346’s with a few 359’s that are duplicates of pieces I already have on my dps set (I’m the only feral and no rogues.).

        Maybe with the ZA/ZG gear it’ll be easier, but right now it’s a pain.

  8. Should have waited an extra day before posting…Enrage no longer increases damage you take when used! Nice to see an outdated mechanic finally match what Warrior tanks have…

    • Lol thats sweet I had to tank heroic Nef tonight stacking up the adds and before the fight I had to pop enrage to get the rage ready for the swiping. It would be very nice to be able to pop when I actually need it

      • Not sure what your set up is but I’d highly suggest placing a shield tank on the adds. I know in our group we have a Prot Pally on Ony, while I tank Nef, and a Warrior on adds. In P3 the Pally taunts Nef while the Warrior is still on adds. I literally follow the warrior around tanking nothing; unless an add is rez’d late due to shadowblaze spawns then I generate threat on the stragglers bringing them back to the Warrior while avoiding purple fire on the floor.

        As for the change to bears after the post went live, thanx blizz!!! ::Shakes fist::

        • It is just for the phase one round up that I am tanking the adds. We have a pally do the phase 3 kite. The other two tanks are WAY better geared and I am the scrub stand there and tank nothing guy for phase 3. With the cds I don’t take enough damage during phase 1 for it to matter. I might look at a seeing what I can dump off in the spec. Because when we jump up on the platform I am rolling lifeblooms and tranqing to keep people up. I will check tommorrow what I can drop for a minimum of the n.instincts for the xtra heals.

  9. Hey guys.
    1st: ty Q for making a great Bear post.
    2nd: I know the posts have been pretty spread out as of late but there really isn’t much going on in the cat world. But we are all still here. I have been working on the new 4.0.6/4.1 Ketteh DPS guide. It is pretty much done but I just can’t decide on how much 4.1 information to include. That plus IRL work is killing me. Anyone need an IT manager? I’ll give you mine.

    • If you are looking for a post to write there is alot of druids that still don’t understand the 4.06 rotation. I am constantly getting tells about what to do and it would be nice to have somewhere to send them. The information is there on this site but it is generally back quite a few pages and spread out. I don’t think there is a here is the rotation post, even though it is pretty trival now considering what it used to be.

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