Thursday, April 8, 2010

My Feral Wishlist for Cata

As I'm beginning to type this, 4 classes have gotten their Cata previews published up on the Forums. My impressions of the changes so far have ranged from meh (Locks) to F-YES (Shaman). A direct correlation between my excitement and my knowledge/playtime of the classes may exist.


Anyway, Druids are due up tomorrow (or early, early Saturday morning depending on posting order and your timezone). Based on what's been put out so far I have some predictions about what's going to come down the pipe for Ferals. But rather than spend time on those, I'd like to take a minute to discuss some of this things I hope to see.

Overall I'm happy with Bear tanking. There's a few things we know for sure already (I discussed them a couple days ago), but it's obviously not everything.

The single biggest thing I hope for is more uniqueness. My biggest complaint about Bears is that it feels like we're handicapped Warriors. Moreso now than ever since we've lost our BC niche of having absurdly high health and armor. Lemme demonstrate:
Maul <--> Heroic Strike
Feral Charge <--> Charge
Bash <--> Shield Bash
Demoralizing Roar <--> Demoralizing Shout
Survival Instincts <--> Last Stand
Frenzied Regeneration <--> Enraged Regeneration
Barkskin <--> Shield Wall
Berserk <--> Berserker Rage
Savage Defense <--> Carries a shield

A lot of these things are exactly the same. Some are tweaked just a little. Hell, half of them are practically named the same thing.

We need some separation. Some uniqueness. Honestly, I feel like the only thing I can truly do better than a Warrior tank is AoE tank (and do so on the move) thanks to Swipe. This is a huge niche and one very unique to bears. But it's not enough.

Okay, and we dodge a ton more. But we can't parry. So it evens out.

I understand bears weren't originally designed to be masters of their craft. We weren't intended to be end-game tanks. So it was okay that we behaved like crippled warriors. There wasn't a lot of reason to make us feel unique.

BC came around and Blizz worked hard to make us viable tanks. They did a pretty good job, too. We still didn't have the toolset of Warriors and Paladins, and what we did have still looked a hell of a lot like the things a Warrior had. But we at least had those absurdly high health and armor pools. We felt special enough.

Time has eroded that. My health pool is about the same size as any equally geared tank. My armor is a touch higher, but not by what I would consider a significant amount. And I still have a toolset that mirrors a subset of a Warriors.

Granted, you ask me to pick things on that list that I'd be willing to give up and I'd have a really hard time doing it. I like them. They're useful and they work well. I also have no concept of what I'd replace them with.

What I think I'd like to see with tanking abilities is something similar to what they're doing with dispells. Decide on a very small set of essential tank tools (single-target taunts, for instance) and give them to all tanks. Then create a pool of useful and well thought-out tanking tools and divide it among the four tank classes such that only two of the four have any given tool and no two of the classes are too similar. Then come up with a small set of tools that are very unique to each of the four classes and assign those.

Tools can be abilities or traits. (I want at least one of my absurdly high pools back.)

The tanks then should have enough in common that balancing encounters such that any tank can complete it isn't a complete nightmare. At the same time, we'll all feel unique enough from each other that we feel special in some way.

I also want more buttons to push when tanking. But I covered that in my Rage post, too.

Again, I'm not terribly disappointed with the way cats work right now. Our rotation is complicated, but that's part of the fun. I don't want it simplified drastically. Or really even at all right now since the 3.3.3(.3.3.3) Mangle change already made it a bajillion times easier.

We are very Rogueish, but I feel we're somewhat unique in that the vast majority of our damage comes from our bleeds. And under the right circumstances we're very capable of serious burst damage.

Additionally, unlike the Bear/Warrior paradigm, it's okay that Cats are very much like Rogues. Why? Because when we're dpsing, we can stop to provide support in ways that are very unique to druids. We can throw out a brez or an Innervate to a raid member that needs it. Or a couple spot heals. Or curse removal. We can go Bear to grab an add for a few seconds if things get out of control. Bears can't do these things while tanking. The boss doesn't stop hitting them for six seconds just because they're asked nicely. If a bear gets hit out of bear form, he's toast.

One of the things I would like to see is more ways to proactively reduce our threat (buff Cower and make us have to use it when we're geared equally to our tanks) or ways to dump it off on someone else (ala ToT or Misdirection). Either that or give us an ability called Play Possum that works like Feign Death. We could even shift into a Possum while it's active. That would be great for comedic value alone. (Except it would probably fail in PvP since anyone with a brain cell could tell the difference.)

Granted, if we're fast enough, we are able to just shift into Bear form. But if we pull aggro in a raid and aren't insta-killed, we're usually left with so little health that even in Bear form we couldn't survive another.

So yeah. Some kind of useful threat management would be nice.

Okay, so that's one thing per form rather than "some." But they're really the only things jumping immediately to mind. With Bears it's a pretty big thing. With cats, not so much. But again, we already have special advantages there.

So we'll see what comes down the pipe tomorrow (or Saturday) and then ultimately down the line in Beta. I'll do my best to keep you all informed.


  1. The Play Possum <-> Feign Death ability sounds great! Cower is underpowered, and as a night elf I can Shadowmeld, but something more effective would be nice.

    The visual of the possum (perfect for druids!) could maybe be switchable: off for PvP, and activated by the player during raids or for questing in non-PvP situations.

    Good stuff! :)

  2. I was halfway through typing a suggestion about Shadowmeld actually dropping threat (when you come out of it, your threat's right back where it was unless combat ended) when I remembered that it's a NElf ability that wouldn't really help Tauren, Worgen, or Trolls. I salvaged the idea with Play Possum. :-)

  3. I agree, feral tanks used to be HUGE HP, HUGE MITIGATION. But now thanks to blizzards... fail devs bear form = weak warrior. Really hope bliz works on it.

  4. I wouldn't say the devs are fail. Far from it. I just happen to disagree with their decisions in this case for no other reason than it makes me feel less unique. I don't feel like I have a true niche anymore (except for mobile AoE tanking, which is admittedly a big deal).

    I DO hope they work on it, obviously. Or I wouldn't have made this post. But it's been over two years since I started tanking Kara and I'm still going in ICC. So I can't say they've done anything seriously wrong.