Latest Blue Talks Druid Tanks: Not So Homo(genized)!

Posted in Feral on Oct 30, 2008

Seemingly just after I finished having a discussion with Lycentia about why I think Protector of the Pack needs improvement, MMO-Champion sees fit to give us this most informative blue post:

Protector of the Pack limitation mechanic – not very fun, what was the thinking behind this and can the limitation be removed?

I’ve avoided this debate for a long time because it seems to really, really upset people that they can’t do something they really, really want to do in a very niche case. Bear isn’t designed to be something you run around solo to kill things in, and even if you want to do so anyway, your damage reduction shouldn’t be a big deal. It’s designed as a tanking talent and “solo tanking” is sort of nonsensical. Bear itself works fine without it, and in fact you can even tank just fine without it as long as you aren’t doing progression raiding. (If it affected your dps or something, I’d be a lot more convinced.)

In this case, I’m going to have to beg to differ. Blizzard has made the case long and hard that tanking classes need to be streamlined and homogenized. They gave us some great new abilities, boosted our tanking DPS to nothing short of ridiculous, and even removed that pesky limiter on Swipe—and we saw Warriors and Paladins receive similar cross-class treatment. Here, I don’t think the argument is “Oh, I want to solo tank the world!” but rather “Why do I get a damage reduction penalty when I don’t have a full group, and why aren’t Warriors and Paladins penalized in the same fashion?”

Admittedly, it’s a fairly silly argument when you’re considering progression raiding, because under those circumstances, you will always have a full group. But when you remove a Warrior, Paladin, or Death Knight from a raid group or a party, all of their mitigation effects still work as per normal. If Bears are supposed to have the same functionality as a Warrior, Paladin, or Death Knight (as Blizzard has heatedly alluded to in the past), then one might assume that we should still retain our damage reduction abilities when we’re not in a group—just like them.

Let’s take a look at Lycentia and I, similarly geared in terms of item level, post 3.0.2. For kicks, we’ve been going and four-manning various Heroic dungeons and AOE tanking entire rooms of mobs. Let’s use Shattered Halls as an example. When he’s played his Warrior and I’ve healed him on my Paladin, his health bar barely moves. He gathers up a room, Thunderclaps to his heart’s content, and moves on. When I’m tanking, I gather up my mobs, wedge myself in a corner so as to have them all in my 180 Swipe range, and take a metric fuckton of damage by comparison (using Barkskin and all our other wonderful little “Oh shit!” buttons). Is this a “niche” tanking role and an exception to the rule? I suppose.

But even Lycentia, who normally listens with one ear closed when I complain about the differences between Druids and other tanking classes, thinks it’s a stupid liability:

“Clearly, I would be flipping my shit if I had the same penalty applied to me, BUT YOU’RE A BEAR, DON’T YOU HAVE A PACK YOU ROLL WITH?”

Let’s get real, folks. Bears aren’t even pack animals. The proper group terminology for a company of bears is actually a “sloth.” To be honest, I much preferred the Disney-fied “Mother Bear” placeholder, because at least it made a little more sense. Regardless, tanking elites or boss-level mobs with a less than optimal group obviously isn’t something Blizzard specifically plans for—I get it. But if you are going to use less than 5 people, whether for a group quest or a Heroic dungeon, why not just take any other tank and spare the healer some grief?

Looking to the Protection tree for Warriors, I have a hard time finding any talent as singularly important for tanking as PotP is for Druids. The closest equivalents, perhaps, are “Toughness” and “Anticipation.” Combined, Rank 5 of Toughness and Anticipation increase armor value from items by 10%, reduce the duration fo all movement slowing effects by 30%, and increase your Dodge chance by 5%. Even losing those two talents aren’t as potentially dire as losing 3% flat out damage reduction per party member (and by flat out, I mean that it applies to both physical and magical damage). What about Improved Defensive Stance? That’s a little closer: “While in Defensive Stance all spell damage is reduced by 6% and when you Block, Parry or Dodge an attack you have a 100% chance to become Enraged, increasing melee damage caused by 10% for 12 sec.” That’s a little closer, but again, it’s only 6% (and only spell damage) versus a potential 12%—and those wily Warriors still have Block and Parry as well.

It’s a simple fix. Afford us the same benefit the rest of the tanking corp has, and remove the pointless party limitation—we still have to sink the points in it to be effective tanks anyway.


  • At 2008.10.30 09:48, Spectrum said:

    After seeing your graphic I can’t help but post a link to Warrior v Paladin: The Musical

    • At 2008.10.30 09:50, Spectrum said:

      Alright, I should probably add that I agree, and this is pretty annoying. Having variable mitigation that is not tank-controlled like this means that a druid tank will always have more or less DR than other tanks, depending on which point they are balanced around. I wish it were a mechanic they could just remove.

      • At 2008.10.30 10:28, Runycat said:

        I suppose I just don’t get it, and it’s that simple.

        One of the only things I can come up with, is that if they removed the party member limiter, PVP Ferals might swoop down, pick it up, and receive what are essentially “full tank benefits” without any penalty.

        Then again, I also have a big problem with changes for PVP that affect PVE.

        • At 2008.10.31 16:03, Simon said:

          I agree. I’ve pretty much given up on tanking with my druid. I’ll be speccing for dps in 3.0.3 The PotP mechanic plus the 30% armor reduction to dire bear just took the bloom of the rose for me.

      • [...] The concern here might be that a Feral would have too much armor in small-scale Arenas (they’ll still get the bonus in 5s, though, and it doesn’t drop as group members are killed). Runycat provides a more detailed write up regarding this limitation in her latest article, Latest Blue Talks Druid Tanks: Not So Homo(genized). [...]

        • At 2008.10.30 11:41, TheseRootsAreMadeForWalkin said:

          I get the sense that they don’t understand how this can be an issue with druids. They got rid of 10K+ of my armor (and the mitigation associated with it) and then they expect that the 12-15% will cover that which essentially forces you to be grouped if you want to do the things you were able to solo before.
          I was with a warrior friend the other day and he soloed a fel reaver, shield slamming the thing into the ground. He was at about 1/2 health when he was done and was very pleased with how little damage he took vs how much damage he could output. I later tried the same thing and took so much damage that I couldn’t kill him. My damage didn’t seem nearly up to the warriors and my armor is now significantly lower than his so I was getting hit quite hard. Hmm more armor, more threat, more damage, better mitigation…doesn’t quite sound like they made all tanks the same to me.

          • At 2008.10.30 11:54, Runycat said:

            As I mentioned previously, no, I don’t understand the reasoning behind the talent. The blues have alluded to it being a “flavor” addition, but rather than provide some interesting and cool benefit, it only hinders us in strange situations.

            In terms of armor: I’d worry less about this as time goes on. We’ll get it back, or we’ll be getting close to it. There are a number of high armor trinkets, rings, necklaces, and cloaks to be had in Wrath, and I recommend checking out my “Heroic Shopping List” for a closer look at that.

            I’d also have to respectfully disagree on the “more threat” and “more damage” bit for Warriors. I do an enormous amount of damage tank specced; in a 10 man with a few high DPSers and a few schmucks, I’m easily in the top 5 or 6. In an endless Rage scenario with cooldowns and trinkets timed appropriately, you should be churning out an obscene amount of threat; in fact, I’d argue that we’re probably the best TPS generating tanks right now.

            Now, if you’re going to compare Swipe to Consecration (360 degrees), Thunderclap (360 degrees), or Shockwave, there’s really no contest; those all hold better AOE threat than Swipe does. Although Shockwave requires a 180 degree cone in the same fashion that Swipe does, Shockwave + Thunderclap is rather crazy. But in a pure raiding scenario, how often do you REALLY need to hold so many mobs that Thunderclap or Consecration will really edge out over Swipe? Probably not often (unless we’re talking Live v. Undead, in which case Consecration rules).

          • At 2008.10.30 12:29, Eldr said:

            My beef is that this makes bears second class choices for short-man teams . I understand there are achievements for short-man Naxx in fact.

            And well, isn’t flavour supposed to be fun?

            • At 2008.10.30 12:31, Runycat said:

              I’m sure the argument will be that we “rise to the occasion.” And, you know, find a particularly stellar healer.

              But yes, I didn’t even think about the short-man achievements. If there isn’t a full party in the raid group to which you switch the dr00d, you’re in a spot of trouble. Another good point.

            • At 2008.10.30 22:50, Ribeye said:

              Completely with ya on this one, Runy. I’m so disappointed in my tanking after 3.0.2, I’ve gone Tree ’til the Xpac. It’s not often that something happens in this game that’s outright depressing when it comes to my enjoyment – though Zombies almost got to that level – but the Druid tanking changes are insufferable. Sure, there’s all of this blah blah blah garbage about how it will all normalize come 80… well, my Druid is my favorite 70, and right now he flat out sucks. With the same gear, I’ve gone from being the best-geared tank in my guild to somewhere around #7 or 8. I mentioned it in a post, but the fact that I can’t even solo kite a Fel Reaver into Thrallmar and hang on long enough – even with my full compliment of ‘oh shit’ buttons, trinkets, a potion (yeah, ’cause I only get one) *and* my herbalism HoT, I can’t keep myself alive until much further than 30% of his health. It’s taken all of the Bear fun out of things until well into WotLK for me. I think I’ll just go balls-out Rocket Cat and enjoy the ride. Look around these days, how many Druid tanks do you see on your instance runs and raids anymore? Given that there weren’t a huge amount before, but they just don’t exist these days. Blizzfail.

              • At 2008.10.31 00:01, Abagoo said:

                I feel the same blues as many of you. I may not have the t6 gear that Runy has but I worked really hard for my gear (…I ran so many heroics I have all the badge gear for ferals) and I did lots of pvp to get the gear I needed to be considered one of the best geared tanks in my guild. But pre-patch I still wasn’t aloud to MT due to crushing blows and my guild’s fear of letting anything without a shield tank. I figured after the patch that things would change. But they haven’t. I’m upset because I have to regem a lot of my gear to get to the dodge I had before which is absurd because I spent a lot of gold on my gems. And even now a warrior in four blues is aloud to MT over me…which is beyond Absurd. I’m a little peeved that blizzards fear of making ferals a little over powered in arenas has stopped them from making me a good tank.And I think its about time ferals got a leg up in pvp. I dunno about anyone else but feral pvp is most definitely not all that awesome (except WSG), what the big hype about ???

                • At 2008.10.31 06:34, Runycat said:

                  Well, let’s take a few steps back here.

                  This particular article was not written as an attempt to bitch about how terrible Feral tanking is or isn’t, because as a matter of fact, tanking has become so insanely easy that there’s not too much to complain about. Even if you shut your entire brain off and only press two buttons, you’ll probably be able to hold aggro over decent DPSers.

                  As I mentioned, I think that the PotP limitations are a little ridiculous and don’t make any practical sense; however, those limiters will not in any way inhibit normal raid tanking (since you’ll always have a full group). I still feel that many of the Bear changes were unnecessary (as I liked it how it was pre-patch), but we’re pretty hax right now in many ways.

                  1) We do an insane amount of damage. Insane.
                  2) We don’t have to worry about DEF or RES anymore. While DEF isn’t entirely useless, we can now rechant/replace various items to stack more TPS or survivability stats.
                  3) Swipe may not be a 360 AOE, but we do have Thorns and an unlimited 180 degree physical ability. Note that I said “physical.” Because we’re actually CONNECTING with all the mobs in front of us (like a cleave), we can put Mongoose on our weapons and get a stupid amount of procs from it.
                  4) We can now take potions, stones, use Lifeblood, and use Barkskin in Dire Bear form.
                  5) We have a Last Stand.
                  6) We have Berserk, which essentially cements any mob to us as soon as we whip it out.

                  I understand that crushing blows were certainly a valid concern pre-patch, but they’re hardly an excuse to bench a feral (especially considering how many end-game guilds use them to tank). I have to wonder what gems you were using pre-patch, because your best bet was almost always to stack heavy AGI in the first place.

                  Essentially, I wouldn’t go overboard with rechanting/regemming if you’re not doing any serious tanking right now, especially since you’ll replace most of your gear pretty quickly (save some T6/Sunwell pieces). Take this with a grain of salt, but if your guild doesn’t want you to tank (when Ferals are pretty great right now), you should definitely sit down and reevaluate why that is, because there’s no game-mechanic reason why you wouldn’t want a Feral Druid right now.

                  • At 2008.10.31 06:39, Runycat said:

                    To be honest, I haven’t even gotten around to rechanting/regemming all my different sets. I spent a lot of time dicking around as a boomkin and spending some badges in that direction.

                  • At 2008.10.31 02:55, Eldar said:

                    It’s 12, not 15!


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