Friday, October 15, 2010

Pre-Cata 4.0 Bear Thoughts

So my guild went in to ICC 25 this week a day late due to the patch, to try to relearn on the go how the game is played, so I got a good look at how to do things bear-wise until Dec. 7th.  I was actually pleasantly surprised with a few things, but I thought I'd roll that in to how to Bear in patch 4.0!

I'll cover all of the abilities in more complete detail in a later set of posts...

But first off, here is the spec I went with for my first go around...

Bear Build for 4.0!

Without the points to get to Perseverance (which I'll want at 85), I actually had one more point to use in the Feral tree than I will when I get that far.  We'll have 5 more points then, 2 of which will be in Natural Shapeshifter to get to Tier 2 resto, 3 in Perseverance, and I will find 1 point from somewhere (current odds are to take one out of Stampede) at that point for Master Shapeshifter... but we'll see.

For now... that looks like a solid build.  I have all the points in everything I want in the Feral tree, plus Heart of the Wild.  I personally don't think it would be bad, while using 4p t10 armor, to put 3 points in King of the Jungle to enhance Enrage even further for in-combat use, but excepting the tier bonus there's no reason to put points there at all.

On a side note, the tooltip for the four piece bonus to t10 armor still reads that "Enrage no longer reduces your armor and instead..."  I'm hoping they actually updated the mechanic so that it doesn't make you take extra damage, because Enrage no longer reduces armor anyway.  Even if they didn't, the bonus makes you take less damage, and more than overcomes the extra damage you take from Enrage anyway, so... I guess it all works out.  Anyway, back to the task at hand.

Tanking seemed... a little clunky to me.  Times were, the only rotationally used abilities Bears had on cooldowns were FFF and Mangle.  Now we've added Swipe and Maul to the mix, and given us an ability that wants us to build up Lacerate stacks, then remove them, AND an ability that wants us to have Lacerate ticking all the time.

So, in short, there's more buttons for us to press, and more limitations in how and when to press them.  To make matters worse, Maul and Swipe both now cost 30 rage (although Swipe's rage cost is supposed to be coming down, and word is they're reducing the threat generation to match, but keeping the cooldown.)  I can't say that I'm entirely pleased with that change - the 6 second cooldown on Swipe is a royal pain - but at least we'll be able to use Swipe at the beginning of a pull for initial aggro now.

I found myself doing things distinctively different for single-target and AOE pulls, which was... not entirely true previously.  For single-target, Mangle and FFF followed by Maul.  Maul and Mangle when off cooldown, fill in the space with Lacerates until 3 stacks, then Pulverize.  If you have the Pulverize buff up, 3 stacks of Lacerate, and Maul and Mangle are on cooldown... FFF again.  If that's also on cooldown... then Swipe, or consider Pulverizing to refresh the buff duration.  Doing this, I've been putting out comparatively massive threat - typically outpacing our DK and Warrior tanks.  Of course, maybe they just don't have their rotations down yet, or maybe I had rogue/hunter threat help, I don't know for sure.

For AOE pulls, I tended to start out with Lacerate, Pulverize immediately to have some buff up, then Swipe.  From there, I was tab-target Maul, Mangle, and Lacerate wherever I needed threat.  Swipe when off cooldown, and Pulverize whenever I could a) eat more stacks of Lacerate than the current buff had, or b) the buff was about to fall off.  I found myself sometimes having no issues with rage at all, and sometimes being rage-starved it seemed no matter what I did.  Either way, I was getting compliments from several folks on our run with doing awesome threat.  One player who has regularly had issues with generating just a little too much threat said he was going all-out and couldn't catch me.  Again, maybe I had help, but that certainly gave me some confidence.

All in all I didn't have many problems with threat generation, and when I did they seemed to be tied to rage starvation.

On the downside, the first night we got to Saurfang and had to stop because the door was bugged and wouldn't open after he died.  The second night, we killed Rotface before giving up because several of our players were having bug issues with the raid instances - getting dropped out of the instance, not being able to come back in, WoW crashing when they came in, WoW crashing when they were summoned - just generally annoying bugs.  I hope they get it all fixed soon.

I haven't had a lot of chances to cat yet, but I have a few thoughts I'll share when I get the time to.  As for my last post about it, I realized later I did my dummy testing after they buffed us a little bit.  Anyway, happy hunting!

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