Patch 4.1 is bringing with it a ridiculous amount of changes. In addition to two more heroic dungeons (with epic loots!), the Development Team has been super busy giving Bears multiple tweaks and quality of life changes. It’s a lot to handle at once, so I’d like to take the time and break everything down.
All non-damaging interrupts off the global cooldown will now always hit the target. This includes Pummel, Kick, Mind Freeze, Rebuke, Skull Bash, Counterspell, Wind Shear, Solar Beam, Silencing Shot, and related player pet abilities.
>> Now we have an even bigger reason to ignore Hit. Yay never missing!
Threat Modifier Removals and Damage Increases
Lacerate, Thrash, Swipe and Faerie Fire (Feral) bonus threat have been removed and replaced with increased initial damage done.
>> This is not something to freak out about. At all. Arielle explains it here, but I’ll do a quick and dirty version for this post. The threat modifier numbers were turned into damage. 1234(x) = (1234 * x). All they’re doing is moving the multiplier to a different spot in the equation, in this case, our damage. If you remember anything from math class at all, you know that moving a multiplied number around in a linear equation does nothing to change the outcome.
In the cases of FFF and Lacerate, the threat from Crits will be increased, due to their previous bonus threat not benefiting from the crit(additive bonuses are not affected by crits), whereas bonus damage will be doubled from crits.
From a threat standpoint, this does nothing to our single target rotation or priorities. It remains the same priority as always. Things just visually hit harder. Our DPS will go up, but our threat should remain the same. Although that’s a little weird, considering we were being told we did too much damage with 4.0.6…
Swipe and Thrash
Swipe (Bear) cooldown has been reduced to 3 seconds, down from 6, and is now on trainable at level 18 (training cost has been reduced).
>> Huge boon for low level Bears. Now you only have to endure two levels of no AoE abilities (oh c’mon, it’s not THAT bad).
Equally huge boon for AoE threat. Rough estimates from Arielle is giving this change an approximate 30% increase in our AoE threat generation, assuming use on cooldown. Whatever your stance is on our AoE threat capabilities, this will make it easier and better.
Thrash’s bleed is now calculating correctly and is no longer being mitigated by armor.
>> Another boost for AoE threat and damage. The 30% estimated increase did not include this, so this should bump it up even more.
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.
>> This is a very lovely change for AoE tanking. Now, let’s see if I can remember all the questions being asked about this and address them all.
Does Savage Defense absorb all damage now?
>> No. Although the tooltip has been changed to this phrase: “absorbing damage equal to 35% of your attack power” it is inaccurate. Savage Defense will always absorb only physical damage.
Wow, Savage Defense will be up 100% now, with it lasting 10 seconds!
>> Again, no. This new mechanic acts exactly like Power Word: Shield does. Once the damage threshold of the absorb has been met, it will drop.
How does Savage Defense refresh?
>> With the full absorb. If you partially absorb a Savage Defense and refresh it, it will be refreshed in full. It does not add like Blood Shield, nor does it refresh at half strength.
Does this change make Mastery better?
>> It does not. Against bosses that are capable of removing SD in one hit, there will be no change. The change is with multi-mob tanking. In a situation where mobs hit incredibly soft (outgeared content and few raid adds), mastery will become stronger, but having a mastery set and a dodge set isn’t necessary. The usual setup of gear(x/mastery with dodge reforging) is just as good.
Does this make Crit better to get our shields up more?
>> Again, it does not. Crit’s value remains the same (behind Dodge and behind Mastery).
Enrage no longer increases physical damage taken.
>> Omigodit’slikechristmasinapril. Not only is this a huge quality of life improvement, it also opens up the option of having a hybrid spec as a Main Tanking spec by adding in King of the Jungle. If that’s not your cup of tea, then you can now have 15% more damage during Berserk’d Mangle spam. What is not to love about that?
And of course that raises the question, since we only have 1 “free” talent point to move around in a straight up tanking build, where do we get those 3 points from?
>> First point to go is the one from Stampede. Stampede is incredibly useless for Bears, as it will only provide, at most, 1 more auto attack during the 6 seconds it’s up after a charge. The other two are the options and will depend on your raid composition. (I’ll probably be running with two different ones, just because I do nothing but Tank)
The talent options for the other two points are Infected Wounds, Feral Aggression, and Brutal Impact. I don’t recommend taking out Endless Carnage. Pulverize can be difficult as it is to keep active. Taking off 6 seconds of the buff only makes the rotation far more restrictive and will potentially result in a loss of uptime due to the priority system and ill luck with missed abilities. In addition, if you intend to DPS in cat, the loss in Rake uptime is a loss of DPS because you’d be sacrificing shreds to upkeep it.
You mentioned that “H” word again. How does that fit into tanking?
>> Hybrid! I enjoy playing a hybrid build. We have two hybrid posts written right now. Mine that addresses utility, and Tangedyn’s that addresses the how-to and technical aspects. I will also be adding a section to my Tanking Guide to do a quick version of it.
Stampeding Roar’s duration has been increased to 8 seconds, up from 6. The movement speed effect has been increased to 60%, up from 40% and is no longer canceled by canceling shapeshift form.
>> I know a lot of people hate this ability, and I’m mostly mentioning this out of principal. This is a nice side-buff, regardless of how you feel about it. 10y range is still “meh”, but the increase in duration and speed is nice to have. Though, I may be biased because I use it all the time. So much so that it has earned a place on my main keybindings.
Berserk is no longer on the global cooldown.
>> Another quality of life change. I’m quite happy about this because I have always hated the fact that it was still on the GCD. Minor DPS/TPS increase. And it means I won’t have to hit Growl when I use the damn thing on Al’Akir (though, TotT is getting a 100yard range buff). Still! Good change.
Feral Swiftness now also causes Dash and Stampeding Roar to have a 50/100% chance to instantly remove all movement impairing effects from the affected targets when used.
>> This doesn’t particularly have any affect on our tanking. But hey, now you have something to use on Asaad when you/your group fails at jumping, right?
Zul’Aman and Zul’Gurub
Zul’Gurub and Zul’Aman are now level-85 five-player Heroic difficulty dungeons. To provide a new tier above the current Cataclysm dungeons, players can expect to find epic-quality item level 353 loot. The minimum average item level to enter these Heroic dungeons is 346.
>> Why am I mentioning this? Why, loot tables, of course. There’s a few pieces that every bear should be trying to get if it’s an upgrade.
The “must haves”:
Fasc’s Preserved Boots - These are practically equal in value with the Storm Rider’s boots. Storm Rider’s are very, marginally, in an insignificant way, better than Fasc’s. However, because of the threat connotations associated with the expertise, you may want those instead.
Amulet of the Watcher – Both the ring and the neck are very close in value to their 359 mastery counterparts.
Jin’do’s Verdict – Obviously not better than Malevolence since it has the same stats, but get it if you don’t have Malevolence.
Belt of Slithering Serpents – This is not better than the crafted belt. However, if you lack funds or you’re a cheap-ass, definitely bag this as it’s about as good as the 359 off Ascendant Council(slightly worse).
And there you have it. 4.1 in all its glory. This is a very good patch for Bears, so enjoy it! I know I will.