World of Trouble: Addressing Druid Tanking in WotLK

Posted in Feral, Rant, WotLK on Aug 26, 2008

At the risk of raining doom and gloom before the clouds even start gathering, I’d like to vocalize some concern about the apparent “direction” Blizzard is trying to go with feral druids.

Unless you’re living under a rock, you’ve probably read the downpour of blue-posts about both the direction of tanking in general and, in particular, the role of bear tanks in Wrath of the Lich King. Although I’ve seen every flavor of tank (save the ever-changing Death Knight) function in an MT capacity at some point during my raiding career, Blizzard wants to take it a step further and allow all tanks to be “Main Tanks.” Tanking, apparently, isn’t “fun” or at least requires a lot more work than they meant it to (if the blue posts can be trusted), and clearly streamlining the entire process will make Azeroth a better place.

Almost as a point of pride, Blizzard has also announced that Cat Form melee DPS will now be a considerable beast to contend with—but we hybrids are going to have to make a choice between being a better cat or a better bear. We’re not quite at the point of having four talent trees, but if the extra abilities and talents Ghostcrawler has promised come into play, we’re really getting close.

At the risk of sounding like I know more about my class than Blizzard does, the developers seem to be forgetting that we furries do not have parry or blocking capabilities and have thus far glossed over the fact that WotLK currently sees us tanking and DPSing in rogue gear.  Maybe that’s not so bad for DPS, although I worry about items with “crit rating” rather than straight up AGI. Blue-poster Ghostcrawler has repeatedly stated that all the tanking stats we lose (you know, the bread & butter DEF, RES, STA, and heavy AC) will be made up for through additional talents and abilities—but as I look through the latest WotLK talent calculator, I’m at a loss. “Soon,” they promise. “Just not yet. Come on, guys, we’ve got until like, October at least.”

And we wait with bated breath. Before you scoff at my bias, consider the amount of time that a player like me has invested in both my class and the game: a substantial hobby and monetary investment precipitates a certain amount of expectation. Maybe I’m out-of-tune with the feral community, but I’m not sure I follow the desire to be either a main tank or a viable melee DPS class—the point of being a feral druid is that you have tanking and DPS functionality simultaneously. Am I wrong? I consider that my role, and I consider myself to have been very successful in both regards. I wouldn’t expect a kitten to do more DPS than a similarly geared rogue or fury warrior or any other pure DPS class, but we offer group (and supposedly in the future, raid-wide) buffs and the opportunity to slot an awesome off-tank and a moderate DPSer in one position. A two-for-one deal, so to speak.

Druids are the Kings and Queens of flexibility. I’d argue that being an excellent druid demands the knowledge and quick-thinking to excel: you’re at once a synonym for a warrior and a rogue, and I’m sure many feral druids have also, at one time or another, taken up healing as a means to an end. All classes have their idiosyncrasies, but druids have always been fickle beasts—and I’m not sure Blizzard has ever really known what to do with us. Watering down our “quirks” to solve a so-called tanking problem seems to be an inadvertent slap-in-the-face as to why we chose to play the class in the first place—or at least why I chose to play.

I’d like to take a look at a thread that the Ghostcrawler (a new voice in blue posting) started in order to outline Blizzard’s plans for tanking. I find him wildly out of touch with the WoW community I have been a part of and can’t help wondering if he’s ever raided past Kara, or, for that matter, played a tank.

1) Our goal in Lich King is for all 4 tanking classes to be viable.

2) We would like for tanking to be a little more fun. I’m going to leave this vague on purpose, but it is definitely a concern.

All four tanking classes are already viable, dear, and tanking is enormously fun. Any class or spec can become stressful (um, healing, hello?) in a competitive raiding environment, especially when you’re trying to aggressively hold aggro against balls-out DPS. The frustration lies within the fact that many people don’t bother understanding threat mechanics and that most tanks’ threat generating abilities don’t scale nearly as well as DPS can. Brutallus is a perfect example of an environment where DPS needs to push itself to the limit to kill him within the six minute enrage timer but end up being limited by the amount of threat their tanks can generate. The best tank in the world might not be able to hold aggro when competing against a group of careless, Shadow Bolt spamming Warlocks. This isn’t a tank issue; it’s a damage scaling issue.

3) In 5-player instances, most warriors, druids, paladins and death knights should be effective tanks. The healing specs may have a harder time than the dps specs. Arms wariors, Fury warriors, Ret paladins, Ferals and most DKs should do fine.

4) In 5-player heroics, the expectation is that the tank has a heavy investment in tanking talents and appropriate gear. Arms warriors might have trouble tanking a heroic unless they overgear the instance.

It rather goes without saying that to be a successful tank, you need to spec for it. Tell us something we don’t know. Here, however, he also suggests that various off-specs should also be able to tank in regular five-man instances, which has me wondering why the casual player would spec for tanking at all. We continually see the difficulty of the game being scaled back for players who don’t seem to want to invest any time or effort in learning mechanics, and now this. To be fair, any decently geared individual could already run through five-mans without a true tank, and oftentimes, without a true healer. I’ve healed a normal Arcatraz run feral specced without difficulty, Lycentia’s hunter has tanked Ramparts with just a pet, and we’ve gone through a myriad array of similar arrangements such as these with minimal effort—but we also knew what we were doing.

6) This is a shift in philosophy for us. Previously, we sometimes tried to steer Ferals as being better off tanks than main tanks. We also expected specific classes to appear in the raid. Our new assumption is that you might have any of the 4 tanking classes as a tank. We are trying to achieve as much parity as we can among the 4 tanks without making them too similar. If nearly all guilds want the same class as their MT, we’ve failed.

7) This is a big one: the game isn’t finished. We aren’t spending too much effort yet to make sure mitigation, threat and tools are similar across the 4 classes at level 80 in blue or purple gear. Likewise, your talent trees and core abilities aren’t finished. Tanking (and PvP) need to have a lot of other pieces of the game in place before we can really get the numbers right. It’s fine (useful even) to point out when you feel a particular ability, talent, class or build is too good or not good enough. But please don’t infer the work in progress as a reflection of our intent. If we end up changing our minds or if things don’t work out, it will be posted here.

Unless all tanking classes are “normalized”, so to speak, there will always be a “best” tank for a specific fight. Superior mitigation? Check out the druids. High spell damage? Bring out a Death Knight. Multiple mobs? Try a paladin. You get the picture. Druids have arguably main-tanked every fight in the game thus far (including Illidan, I might add, using an Intervene rotation), and we’re supposed “off-tanks”. Merging roles with other classes does make us more or less the same. Death Knights and Druids don’t have shields, and that’s a pretty fundamental difference from Paladins and Warriors. If the necessity for using a shield in a raid environment is lessened to compensate for Druids and Death Knights, then why use one altogether? Players roll a specific class to be able to fill a certain niche—don’t take that away.

Q u o t e:

“Why aren’t there tanking leather pieces?”

I’m not quite able to wrap my brain around this, especially since you’re trying to make us as good as any other tank. Why wouldn’t you give us access to the tools to do it?

We *will* give you the tools to do it. We just might not give you those tools the same way another class gets them. There are no two-handed tanking weapons, yet I suspect 50% or more of DKs will use two-handed weapons. Neither DKs nor druids have shields. Druids need defense less than other tanks because they can achieve crit immunity. We can do something similar for your damage reduction (bake it into bear form, or put it in a talent are two obvious choices). Now, when you get your leather though, we are assuming you gem and enchant it as a tank would.

This whole promise for talent changes and new abilities has become the blue poster stump speech: we hear an awful lot, but we don’t see any policy changes. I would much prefer to keep my role as offtank and off DPS and gain a few talents that strengthen it instead of trying to rewrite the tank books. Druids need less defense? Does he understand how crit immunity is attained? By taking 3/3 Survival of the Fittest, we only need 415 DEF to reach crit immunity, or a combination of RES and DEF, as I outlined in a previous post—but we still need it. There isn’t any magical talent or gem or ability that auto-grants us crit immunity, as Ghostcrawler seems to imply. It seems that we’ll be farming for PVP yet again to pick up the RES necessary to tank—or gemming for DEF, which seems to be Blizzard’s line of thinking. Forget STA and AGI, kids! OH WAIT, how could I forget? Is RES even functioning outside of BG’s anymore? That’s a serious problem.

Q u o t e:

It seems that every time you refer to druid tanking all you say is “big healthpool”. Do you realize that in live, well geared warriors and paladins already come fairly close to our pools? Currently druids rely on health, capped (or near) armor, and very high dodge. Your comments lead me to believe that you are looking at us in a very one-dimensional way. I assure you that no healer wants to deal with a tank that is just a pile of hitpoints with no real mitigation/avoidance to speak of.

I totally get this. Druids won’t be popular tanks if everyone knows them as the OOM tank. When I say “big health pool” I’m not talking about 30% more than a warrior, and I’m not even sure that’s the route we’ll go. But since the “big health” idea generates a lot of discussion, I’ll walk you through our thought process.

Druids are going to have a harder time hitting the armor cap in Lich King largely because there is no leather tanking gear, and virtually no bonus armor at all (except on a few pieces like rings and necks). Now we can’t just make druids do without armor, or they won’t compete with other tanks. We can’t just bake the armor into Dire Bear Form though, or we risk making resto druids even better in PvP. So when I have mentioned big health pools, that is partially because we’re trying to solve the problem where druids need armor but can’t get it. Big health is a way to do with less armor, but it’s not a total fix for the situation, it definitely has drawbacks, and it doesn’t mean 30% more health and 30% less armor. If I had to guess, all of the tanks will end up having pretty similar endgame stats, minus obvious things like block.

Keep in mind how good a well-geared druid tank would be in live if we hadn’t added Sunwell Radiance. It is surprisingly easy to make bears too good or not good enough. We have to tread carefully.

But we haven’t changed the design of wanting bears to be able to MT. And that doesn’t mean technically they can MT but all the healers complain and as soon as the warrior logs on, you eagerly swap him back in. MT means MT.

Here, Ghostcrawler addresses the classic problem of confusing PVE with PVP and not really knowing what he’s talking about in terms of druids in general. We’re going to nerf your PVE tanking abilities because we’re afraid that Restoration druids are going to be so leet! They already are, congratulations. If readers will recall, our T6 feral armor was actually nerfed because of PVP concerns (STA reduction). If PVE versus PVP concerns are this big of a deal, why not make gear that can only be worn in an arena environment, and vice versa? It’d certainly eliminate the Glaive wearing Rogues issue. I read his response and hear: we’ve made a huge mistake in changing this and have no idea how we’re effectively fixing this.

For the record, my druid and Lycentia’s warrior have incredibly similar health pools—I just have more armor and more avoidance. He, of course, has the ability to Block and Parry (and Dodge, naturally) and also has (as a Human) high expertise and a considerable amount of +hit. Hmm. Sounds like a decent trade-off to me already. Even without Sunwell Radiance, I would argue that warriors might still be the superior tanks, especially since they have more stats built into their gear and don’t have to worry about losing crit immunity by screwing around with their gems. Avoidance is a fabulous stat (sweet, no one can hit me!), but if you’re not getting hit, you’re not generating rage, which of course means you aren’t generating as much threat. It’s unreliable. One wrong roll of the RNG and you can be destroyed. Not being in the beta I can only speculate, but I recommend that feral druids with T6 armor keep their paws on it; we may need to continue using it until Blizzard takes its head out of its collective ass.

I could dissect the entire thread (having also played a warrior and a paladin), but it’s not necessary to illustrate the obvious concerns. Druids are flexible OTs, MTs, and reliable DPSers, and reslotting their role fundamentally changes the class and, I’d argue, eliminates what made us so desirable. We already have considerable difficulty gaining the stats we need at high levels (as illustrated in previous articles), and stripping us of our basics (like AC) is ludicrous.

Admittedly, I wouldn’t be as worried (though still frustrated) about the prospective changes if WotLK still seemed as distant as Northrend. Unfortunately, yes, you heard me correctly, unfortunately, WotLK seems to be approaching much quicker than we realized. If we look at the old timeline for BC’s release, we saw content approximately one month after the cinematic release. Are they accelerating their timeline to put out (unpolished) content to compete with WAR? Well, we’ve seen the frosty cinematic, and now we’ve received news of a pre-WotLK content patch. While this not only bones raiders, it also assumes that Blizzard has “come up” with something to “fix” the tanking situation—and if Ghostcrawler is truly the mouthpiece of the developers, we’re in a World of Trouble.

25 Comments

  • At 2008.08.26 10:29, Lassirra said:

    Looking at it from another perspective, what other tank currently in the game can spec to be both a viable Main Tank as well as a viable raid dps class without having to change talent trees? None.

    Currently, two of my raid group’s feral druids (that I can think of off the top of my head) double as tanks and dps. They do both extremely well. In point of fact, when assigned a dps role in lieu of tanking, both manage to tackle the 3rd-7th spots on damage meters in 25mans, above any other melee class (rogues included), on a consistent basis (keeping in mind that both of these druid are specced to tank, not dps).

    That seems a bit unbalanced to me, considering no other class in the game can perform two roles using the same spec, and certainly no class can do so as effectively. (Indeed, this is what makes druids such a force to be reckoned with.)

    So, to have this advantage re-evaluated seems like a fair decision. Should Blizzard nerf the flexibility that makes druids so unique? No. Should Blizzard re-evaluate how this adaptability is implemented so that druids are more on-par with other dual/tri-function classes? I think so. After all, how viable is it for a prot pally to switch to a dps role without swapping specs? Not very, I’d wager. And, considering that druids and pallies are the only two classes in the game that can fill any of the three required raid roles (tank, dps, and heal), shouldn’t they both be capable of the same versatility (though it should be implemented differently as befits their class’s lore/mechanics/etc)?

    Just some points to ponder.

    • At 2008.08.27 07:18, Runycat said:

      Obviously as a druid, I’m biased—but we’ve always had swing-man roles. Pre-BC, I also played a feral druid in a competitive raiding guild, but instead of tanking and DPSing, I was actually tanking and healing (when HotW was actually viable for huge mana pools and HT downranking). Many guilds still use DPS warriors in prot gear for trash (and have them DPS for important encounters), and we specifically had a protadin put on Holy gear and heal for bosses where we didn’t need extra tanks (and he put out some very impressive numbers).

      Right now, there isn’t actually a “tank” versus a “DPS” raid spec; there are a few points you can stick here or there for PVP or (presumably) leveling, but it’s fairly cookie cutter. So yes, you’re right—with one spec you can essentially perform both roles adequately; however, I would argue that it takes a considerable amount of time and skill to excel in both of the roles. DPSing effectively requires gear above and beyond the tank set, and if you’re competing with other melee DPSers (because yes, we had an Enhance shammy taking leather), it’s a pain in the ass.

      Additionally, I also have to second Kalon’s point in that any content beyond T5 generally puts feral DPS on the backburner. I can churn out some rather large numbers consistently, especially on melee friendly fights (of which there are very few the further you progress), but even in exceptional gear, using all my cooldowns and powershifting accurately, I am woefully out damaged by rogues and warlocks (and others, obviously). Ultimately, playing a pure DPS class yields considerably more DPS—if you know what you’re doing and you have good gear.

      Obviously I’m not in any of your raids, but from my experience, it sounds like you’ve got a smart pair of ferals and some mediocre DPSers. In higher end content (and almost always, I’d contend), our spots have always been “off” roles; can I DPS and tank like an almost pro? Sure. Am I as functional as a warrior or a rogue? No.

      Still, if you’re going to make the case for paladins being able to multitask, that’s a mostly valid one—though I don’t think it should be shifting the role of the feral offtank/off DPS. How can we allow paladins that same versatility? I mentioned it earlier, but there are prot paladins who carry holy gear to fill off-healing roles. No, it’s not DPS, but it’s something. I have a paladin myself, so it’d be interesting to explore that route further.

      These are really awesome comments, and I’m glad we’re generating discussion.

      • At 2008.09.01 09:30, Inzilbêth said:

        Theres a very nice Protadin 41/20 (IIRC) spec which gives you almost as much of a healing utility boost as a Healerdin, just without the mp5 to go with it — which can be ameliorated with things like Mana Tide, shadow priests, and just plain chugging potions — and given the large amount of Plate Healing gear available in Kara it seems it’s not infrequent to see such a Paladin being tank 2 in ZA or Kara and also Healer 4/Healer 3. (Likewise you can have them tank a channeler in Maggys and then shift to MT healing say, or tank in the High Council in Gruuls and then heal on Gruul himself). My own raiding experience doesn’t go much higher than hat but I’m sure there are similar situations available later.

        • At 2008.09.07 16:54, Soral said:

          Sure, druids currently get to dps and tank (and sometimes even heal) in the same raid, but we’re carrying 3 complete sets in our bags and using mods like ItemRack to keep it all under control. I don’t know any druids who can effectively tank and dps in the same gear.

          A warrior or paladin invests their time, badges, and gold into getting the best gear possible but druids have to do that for each set while keeping the last set up to date. If your druids are viable main tanks and still topping your damage charts then they have earned their position. Most druids fall behind as their guild progresses and have to focus on a single set (bear or cat).

          Then of course you reach raids that require resistance sets. Incredible. Now the druids needs you double the number of sets they’re maintaining.

          Then we go roll a warlock alt because pew pew is so much easier and the repairs are cheaper.

          • At 2008.09.27 11:45, Miliann said:

            Oh damn, you completely said what I have done not more than 2 months ago…

            Yea the gear/repairs was killing me 3 sets (feral- tanking/dps and resto) with different pieces for the same slot to deem adequate for whatever the situation called. Also 3 resist sets (Shadow, Nature, and Frost) all carried at once to limit trips to the bank…Eventually became sick of it all and guess what I did. Yep, you guessed it I rolled a warlock for that very same reason..it’s good to know im not the only person that felt as such xD. Also made me rofl for a good while when I came across this.

    • At 2008.08.26 10:57, Kal said:

      Awesome article. :) Couldn’t agree more.

      Quick nitpick tho – in WotLK, SotF is being changed to add 2/4/6% crit immunity instead of 1/2/3 – so in WotLK, feral druids don’t need any defense or resilience.

      And to add to your fun ire of death, they’re making agility scale worse for both crit and dodge at level 70. Agi will now scale like a rogue’s does for crit (I believe this is about 1%->25 at 70), and dodge will scale about the same as a warrior. Huge nerf. That ends up making strength the best dps stat for cats…which isn’t found on any rogue gear. Argh.

      Lassirra – I used to think feral druids were a bit ridiculous in that regard, since they could put out so much damage. Then I started seeing how well the rogues, warriors, warlocks, hunters and eventually mages scaled with gear. Post T6, it’s not really a contest between feral druids and other dps classes, at least on fights where dps really matters.

      • At 2008.08.27 07:19, Runycat said:

        The first half of this article? Over a month old. Still, a valid point, and perhaps one less thing to worry about. I have to assume that Blizzard has a myriad array of other talent changes in the works (talents, of course, because we wouldn’t want those wily resto druids doing any of that PVP nonsense), but what worries me is the manner in which they’ve attempted to discuss them. Terribly.

        Now, I’ve read similar things about AGI scaling, but I have yet to see it for myself. I just got to screw around in the beta last night, and things crashed so many times that I couldn’t accurately hit anything. I did, however, have ZERO problems killing anything in cat form, and my AP seemed closer to 4k than I remembered it. My crit was also through the roof, and I’m wondering if we’ll see start seeing major differences once I start replacing that gear (you know, at level 78 or so). So Cat damage? I’m not too worried right now, and I wasn’t even specced properly for it. Tanking will be another adventure that I’ll try to keep everyone updated on.

      • At 2008.08.26 11:00, MostlyKaldorei said:

        Though I’m not going to crawl through all the posts on the topic, I believe Blizzard had said they wanted to have the Feral tree have talents to focus on either tanking or dps, allowing players the option of specializing for one role at the expense of the utility we currently have, while still having the option of going for a utility spec; a spec that mirrors current abilities, I would suppose.
        Regarding crit immunity, Survival of the Fittest has been increased from 3% to 6% reduction in chance to be crit. Unless the chance to be crit is significantly higher than it is now, most feral druids will be or will be nearly crit immune solely from talents.
        Lassirra:”Currently, two of my raid group’s feral druids (that I can think of off the top of my head) double as tanks and dps. They do both extremely well. In point of fact, when assigned a dps role in lieu of tanking, both manage to tackle the 3rd-7th spots on damage meters in 25mans”
        That is what makes me welcome the changes to feral druids. Do I like being able to tank and place competitively on the dps charts? of course. It also means that I’m among the first tanks in an encounter to not be tanking. (Granted, being the raid leader, I only have myself to blame for that choice.) I look forward to the idea that, when choosing tanks, my choices are going to come down to who is the best tank, not what organization provides better raid dps.

        • At 2008.08.27 07:19, Runycat said:

          I really don’t think we’ll be able to take the “off tank/off DPS” role anymore in any sort of competitive raiding environment, because no one will want that—though maybe I’m wrong. I want to see what sort of ridiculous changes they’re making in our talent tree before I unwillingly swing toward tanking, because it appears as though they’re not sure how to handle making us effective MTs (though hey, we’ve MT’d everything thus far anyway)—i.e. lowering our armor, supposedly rescaling our avoidance, etc.

          Effective raid groups are going to need superior tanks of all shapes and sizes—just like we do now. It does suck if you’d rather be tanking instead of DPSing, but if you feel like you’re the best tank in your raid group, then I’d contend it’s time for you to step back and reevaluate your other tanks.

          • At 2008.09.01 09:33, Inzilbêth said:

            Unless they’ve changed the formulas again, the chance to crit will still be exactly 5.6% for a boss or mob 3 levels higher. (and they can make bosses count as up to 5 levels higher before that becomes more than 6%)

          • At 2008.08.26 11:06, Nyxtaru said:

            While I play primarily as resto, but I love feral almost just as much. In WotLK I had originally planned to hop into feral more full time. But these recent changes are making me reconsider.

            Part of why I LOVE being a druid is the ability to be utterly and entirely versatile. I like being a true hybrid, I like being different. And now theyre just going to…… dumb it down?

            I’m in Beta, and while cat dps really is fixed, bear is only going to downhill until the dev’s pick their faces up off the floor and take a serious look at what a druid *is*.

            • At 2008.08.27 07:22, Runycat said:

              Well, obviously you know where I’m coming from, especially since you’ve seen the high-end content that doesn’t cater to Cat DPS so much anymore. So far, Cat damage feels pretty good in the beta (although I haven’t gotten very far at all and I wasn’t even specced for it optimally), but I haven’t tried tanking—and when I do, I want to try running the same instance—once in quest gear, and once in the gear I currently have (and really, see what’s better).

              I said it before and I’ll say it again—if I wanted to be a pure melee DPS class, I would have rolled a rogue. If I wanted to be a pure tank, I would have rolled a war—oh wait, I DO have a warrior, and I like my druid so much more. I’m worried, and I’m really looking forward to exploring the beta a little bit more to get a better feel of whether or not my favorite class still resonates with my playstyle.

            • At 2008.08.26 11:08, Myze said:

              Didn’t there used to be a second armor talent in the alpha Feral tree? Maybe they’ll go back to that but I doubt it.

              With regards to your point about not hitting crit immunity, Survival of the Fittest in WotLK will grant 6% crit immunity, which should still keep us from being crit at level 80.

              The part that concerns me most is the quote “If I had to guess, all of the tanks will end up having pretty similar endgame stats, minus obvious things like block.” That really makes me wonder if there’s going to be some other mitigation or something. A Holy Shield-like ability that said “Damage taken is reduced by 1% of your total health for 8 seconds. Each hit expends a charge. Lasts 8 charges.” would be awesome and solve a lot of problems (though make us a bit overpowered in 5 mans, and probably PVP.)

              I think the problem is that we really don’t have the block, and with the upcoming changes, the pure avoidance that the other tanks will have what with their Parry.

              I remain optimistic that Blizzard hasn’t shown its full hand, and that we have good changes in store. I become less optimistic as the expansion looms closer and we haven’t seen what the new changes are so we can give feedback about them sooner. The first few weeks may be tough for Ferals.

              • At 2008.08.27 07:22, Runycat said:

                Blizzard obviously hasn’t shown us everything; that much is obvious, and I’m just hoping we get a glimpse of it before it’s being shoved down our throats in a content patch. I also firmly believe that any sort of changes will be in talent form, deep in the feral tree, so that they somehow won’t interfere with resto PVP (cue the eyeroll here).

                You know, we could all be totally wrong here and when we get WotLK in our hot little paws, everything will work beautifully and bears will be as fabulous as they always have been. Tigole’s right: things are not finished. The beta definitely feels unpolished and jerky, and other classes are still missing highly-touted abilities (i.e. Murder Spree for rogues, etc.). But as I mentioned, if Ghostcrawler represents the voice of the developers, it really makes me wonder if Blizzard has any idea what’s going on, especially in terms of competitive raiding. I wish my blog wasn’t growing progressively crankier.

              • At 2008.08.26 14:16, Urthona said:

                I think it’s the belief that the remaining 4% crit immunity will be obtained through jewelry, trinkets and cloaks. Which is fine. Those items are cross-tank.

                While I’m Balance with regard to druids, I play a Protection Paladin and participate in the forums on Maintankadin. We’re aware of the seeming hierarchy between Shield tanks and Sharp tanks, and it boggles us as we’re majority supporters of a 4MT endgame. I’d like to say we’re not thrilled with the emphasis on niche roles for tank classes, but there’s an argument and possibly an article in the making in its discussion.

                What do you feel would “fix” Ferals, Runy? … And what do you feel is the Druid tank’s niche?

                • At 2008.08.27 07:22, Runycat said:

                  I’m aware of the paladin desire to have strong MT functionality (which hey, is great), but I’ve always felt that druids’ traditional roles laid within off tanking, providing melee buffs, and contributing strong “off” DPS. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I don’t feel like druids are currently broken, and I don’t quite understand why there’s a fervent desire to streamline us into up-front roles. In my opinion, there’s no way that a hybrid class should out DPS a pure DPS class, so what’s the point of speccing into cat DPS when you still shouldn’t be able to top someone whose only job EVER is to DPS? Does that make sense?

                  Our mitigation v. spells is abysmal, and certainly not one of our strong points—that’s not our little “niche”. While paladins might be the Kings and Queens of add control, druids aren’t too shabby at that either. We also can’t tank anything that requires a shield (without a complicated Intervene rotation, ala illidan), but our more-than-modest health pools and ridiculously high AC allow for (mostly) predictable damage soak over time, making us ideal for particularly hard hitting, physical damage-type bosses. Additionally, with the proper stacking of expertise and hit, we also (like paladins, I’d argue) frontload a lot of damage, which of course establishes aggro early on and allows DPS to open up quicker (which of course has made druids kick ass on bosses like Brutallus).

                  All I hear right now is “flimsy tanks” and “big health pools” and “poor armor” and “dodge scaling like it does for a warrior”, leaving me wondering what exactly we’re supposed to DO to maximize our staying-alive stats. If huge amounts of STA are all that’s required to tank, I don’t see why a warlock with eight million health can’t stand there like a champ and drain healer mana as well. Hell, maybe we’ll even see rogues stack DEF gems in their same-as-druid-gear and try their swords at tanking as well. I’m wary. I want to see these muchly discussed talents, and I’m hoping we’re going to see deep feral talents for additional AC increases (beyond Thick Hide) and Dodge. Berserk is all well and good, but I wouldn’t trade the role I’ve always occupied for a cheap Last Stand.

                  Hopefully my latest forays into beta will give me some answers.

                • At 2008.08.27 07:33, Fathul said:

                  Settle down, the sky is not falling. Now, I will say that I haven’t been around WoW nearly as long as you and thus may not be as scarred due to getting burned in the past, but I think you’re really going overboard here.

                  They want to let ferals specialize in tanking or dps so that they can be viable in both and thus not sat out on progression raids. By mid to late T6 feral dps is not viable, which is a bad thing from the devs’ point of view. However, they can’t also make one spec able to both tank and dps at an acceptable endgame level, so their decision is to make us spec for one or the other. The idea is that you can still off-tank in raids if you spec for dps, or you can dps at a reasonable level if you spec for tanking, but you won’t be ideal at the job you didn’t spec into. It remains to be seen how this works out, but I think this is the only logical direction for them to take.

                  1) Our goal in Lich King is for all 4 tanking classes to be viable.

                  This is just a reassurance that they don’t intend to remove the ability to tank from druids or paladins.

                  2) We would like for tanking to be a little more fun. I’m going to leave this vague on purpose, but it is definitely a concern.

                  You think tanking is fun, and I think tanking is fun, but the numbers show that the WoW community at large does not enjoy tanking. No role is as scarce in group content as tanks, so it only makes sense for Blizzard to increase the appeal of tanking to encourage more people to try it out.

                  3) In 5-player instances, most warriors, druids, paladins and death knights should be effective tanks. The healing specs may have a harder time than the dps specs. Arms wariors, Fury warriors, Ret paladins, Ferals and most DKs should do fine.

                  4) In 5-player heroics, the expectation is that the tank has a heavy investment in tanking talents and appropriate gear. Arms warriors might have trouble tanking a heroic unless they overgear the instance.

                  Blizzard’s goal is to have people see content. By opening up normal 5-man instances to non-specced tanks they allow a larger portion of the population to run instances. At the same time they are ensuring that heroics are difficult enough that you have to be tank specced to properly tank them.

                  6) This is a shift in philosophy for us. Previously, we sometimes tried to steer Ferals as being better off tanks than main tanks. We also expected specific classes to appear in the raid. Our new assumption is that you might have any of the 4 tanking classes as a tank. We are trying to achieve as much parity as we can among the 4 tanks without making them too similar. If nearly all guilds want the same class as their MT, we’ve failed.

                  7) This is a big one: the game isn’t finished. We aren’t spending too much effort yet to make sure mitigation, threat and tools are similar across the 4 classes at level 80 in blue or purple gear. Likewise, your talent trees and core abilities aren’t finished. Tanking (and PvP) need to have a lot of other pieces of the game in place before we can really get the numbers right. It’s fine (useful even) to point out when you feel a particular ability, talent, class or build is too good or not good enough. But please don’t infer the work in progress as a reflection of our intent. If we end up changing our minds or if things don’t work out, it will be posted here.

                  Their goal is that tanks will still have niches, but that specific classes won’t be required on any boss fight. Yes, you can get away with using a druid on Illidan, or a druid/pally on RoS phase 2, but the difficulties involved in doing so pretty much rule out the possibility of using such tanks when the fight is still progression. Their goal going forward is that while it may be somewhat more difficult with the “wrong” tank for a certain boss fight, it won’t be a significant setback.

                  • At 2008.08.31 08:51, Runycat said:

                    Firstly, it’s an opinion piece, and secondly, there’s a lot of hyperbole going on; it’s how I write.

                    I genuinely think that a lot of my concerns are more applicable in high end raiding environments, and these changes are more to appease the casual players. Why? Well, if you’re in any sort of competitive raiding environment, you don’t care about super-optimizing what you’re doing, and if that means having five tanks on call, that’s how it is.

                    Additionally, druid DPS is viable in T6/Sunwell content, because I’ve done it, and I’ve done well. We’re just not meant to equal any sort of pure DPS class damage, and for good reason. Why should a hybrid class (who can heal, spellcast, DPS, and tank) be able to do something better than a class whose only job is to DPS? It just doesn’t make sense to me. While I understand the “business perspective,” I also don’t think Blizzard should be catering to folks by letting them go through and tank things as offspecs, especially since that’s been possible already in BC for dungeons on “normal” mode (why make things even easier?).

                    There’s obviously a lot more we need to see from Blizzard in the near future, but right now in beta, it doesn’t look like things are “fixed” (there are a lot of scaling issues).

                  • At 2008.08.29 22:49, Justin said:

                    While I am glad that they are forcing druids to finally spec either dps or tank, I am also nervous at some of the comments made by the dev’s.

                    Why do they feel the need to make cat dps competitive to rogues?

                    Why do they want to make you tank as viable as any other class?

                    Why are they making boomkin druids on par with mages/locks?

                    As a “Jack-Of-All-Trades” I don’t think anything should be on “par” with a “pure class” I think that druids have come a LONG long way, and have maybe a little bit more room before they feel about right in the role that they were initially designed for. It feels like they are going away from the core design of the class in lieu of making the masses happy. While this is good from a business standpoint, if you are blending the properties of a class, why not do it to all of them?

                    But on a side note, I would like to see a different functionality for tanking with a druid. It seems the policy is to stack dodge like a mofo after you get uncritable and pray that you don’t have a boss that nukes very hard. I would like to see a different mechanic, something a little more original than predictable damage due to high HP pools and AC. Something maybe along the lines of having a “pet” that you can share damage with in a pinch (sort of a “bearwall” if you will) or something where you can increase different stats with a “bear skill bar”. I.E use it to increase dodge by 20% on a boss, increase HP pool by 10%, or increase your dmg by 25% to increase threat generation. It would feel much much more customizable and flexible. I don’t know, I guess I am just brainstorming here for no reason other than to see what type of response you can give me lol!

                    • At 2008.08.31 08:43, Runycat said:

                      A few things:

                      1) As I mentioned in the article, I don’t think druids are broken, and I don’t follow the desire to be as good as a “pure” class in any given role; that’s not our job. It never has been. Druid offspecs have always been for utility.
                      2) If what I’m seeing in the beta right now is any indication, I still don’t think we’ll be on par with main specs. Here’s my problem with it: if the developers legitimately want us to be competitive with pure tanking/DPS classes, they still don’t have it right. While some people might say hey, that’s GREAT! what it means is that the developers have been implementing changes that are continuing to break things, not fix them.
                      3) Dodge is unreliable, we know this.
                      4) I don’t want any bullshit pets.

                    • [...] Addressing Druid Tanking in WotLK from Runycat of Unbearably HoT Runy rants about the troubles faced by Ferals in Wrath of the Lich King, analyzing at length the comments made by Ghostcrawler regarding changes to Bear itemization and mitigation. [...]

                      • At 2008.09.03 10:45, Copey said:

                        All of this talk has me pretty scared about the expansion. I brought up my resto druid, and managed to find a guild that ran late at night when I could play. That got me pretty well geared at 1735 +heals. Then the guild fell apart, and I could never, ever find a tank to do anything. So I switched over, and began the painful process of collecting tanking gear (keeping in mind I had already passed up many, many of the quest rewards for the healing option or just sold off the reward for the gold).

                        Now I have my gear up to snuff and can main tank most of Kara when I’m in a well organized group. But I don’t see myself progressing much past this just due to the fact that the guilds that run the raids that would upgrade me run earlier than I’m able to log on. I’m starting to love tanking, how is this going to affect things?

                        Are we still going to be trying to do quick Kara runs for 22 badges to get badge gear after the expansion? Or are greens going to totally replace all those purples that I’m now currently getting? And if they lack in the big armor numbers (ie rogue gear), is it still to my advantage to stack up with as much gear as I can right now, even though it’s not T6 top of the line gear?

                        • At 2008.09.03 11:00, Runycat said:

                          I realize that the piece is a little bit more alarmist than it probably should have been, but I think it adequately conveys the frustration I’ve been feeling about druids in general—we’ve always had difficulties as a hybrid class. My main problem lies within the fact that I truly do not believe that Blizzard fully understands our role or what our role should be as compared to “pure” tanking and DPS classes.

                          Still, they haven’t yet implemented all the proposed talents (even the placeholder talents I see in the beta), and there are presumably a few more that make up for our absolutely abysmal AGI scaling and poor mitigation through AC. I don’t want to be discouraging, but I think you’ll find that most pre-T6 gear starts being replaced somewhere around level 74. Should you go and vendor your gear right away? Absolutely not. We have no idea how our end level itemization might be, and we might very well want to hold on to high-armor accessory items (like rings, trinkets, necklaces) as long as possible.

                          If you’re down on gear though, don’t stop running Kara! There are definitely a few great trinket/idol items that might end up being irreplaceable for a little while. If nothing else, you can buy epic gems with those badges, and you can sell those for as much money as you can milk the AH for before the expansion, netting you a tidy little nest egg to get started with. Additionally, I really wouldn’t say OH GOD I WILL NEVER TANK AGAIN! just yet. Even without the new talents implemented, I can tank just fine in low level beta instances such as the Nexus, and I have seen a huge damage boost (especially in the form of Maul). How will this end up at 80? I really can’t tell you. The best we can do is ride it out right now and see what happens.

                        • At 2008.09.03 12:42, Copey said:

                          You bring up an interesting idea as far as a nest egg. I have an epic gem or two that I just can’t see putting into a piece of gear that I may be upgrading even before the expansion comes out. Will these gems lose value after the expansion comes out? Because if new green and blue gems come out I’d hate to lose the opportunity to stock up on gold now.

                          Thanks for the info, nice to have a druid on the inside to give us some scoop.

                          • At 2008.09.03 12:53, Runycat said:

                            There are plenty of dr00ds on the inside, and if you’re really interested in some incredibly detailed information/speculation, I really recommend that you check out Elitist Jerks.

                            I think that there will be a few people looking to get titles (via leveling) who will still purchase epic gems and socket them in green gear just to move along faster. Although the price of gems on many servers have dwindled (i.e. I made my money when they were 399 a piece and now they’re about 150 as the market has become saturated), if you’re not doing anything else with your badges, you might as well.

                            I recommend Crimson Spinels and Pyrestones.

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