So, last night, the first full night after Patch 3.0.2, I took my nice new Bear Tanking Talent spec for a drive.
Yes, it has Berserk. Yes, I decided to try it out without Omen of Clarity. Just FYI.
The location for this test run?
Heroic Magister’s Terrace.
Because I’ve never done it on Heroic and gotten past the Priestess PvP fight before.
Well, okay, so we only ever went in there on Heroic once, and ran out of time for the evening before getting the Priestess down. It’s not like we have tried for months with epic fail. Too busy playing a ton of alts and doing Kara, really.
Still, it counts as not having been done by me before. So by gosh and by golly, Heroic MgT! Who’s up for it?
Turns out Cassie was up for it with her new Combat Swords spec (as suggested by Chase, the Rogue columnist for WoW Insider), Graimerin with his Paladin and a fresh new Healing spec, Elystia and her Mage, and Doodlebug on his Über-Warlock Doozie and a Destro spec.
Cassie and I updated our addons, mostly Omen, Recount, Cartographer, and Fubar and all it’s little joys. We hurriedly arranged our buttons and checked for new spells at the trainer.
I gladly blew 24 gold to get my new Revive out-of-combat ressurect spell, and the new Nature’s Grasp that we get without having to invest in the Balance tree.
Let me show you how I set up my button bar for the run.
Okay, I move with the mouse, and use the numbers to activate attacks. So, with a new layout, there was some hesitation on my part when doing it that way.
On that button bar, the way I lay things out is with an eye for ‘opening moves’ on the far left of the bottom bar. Then, as I go from openers to common abilities, I move from left to center. I linger in the center, going back on forth on frequent abilities. The less repetitious an ability becomes from there, the farther to the right it goes.
So you can see on the bottom, I have Feral Charge and Enrage, my two main opening moves, on the far left. Then I put Frenzied Regeneration conveniently right next to Demoralizing Roar, then Feral Faerie Fire, then the 4 core attack abilities, Mangle, Lacerate, Maul and Swipe. Then I finish it with Growl, Bash and Challenging Roar.
Before 3.0.2 my attacks were laid out in order of GCD and threat priority, but I am still measuring the new speed of Mangle, the effects of Maul, and how much I like Swipe. These may change a bit.
On the top button bar, I start with my favored land mount (it always goes there on all my toons), followed by the core abilities that are now shared by all forms, with an eye towards optimizing my Bear bar synergy.
I have Tiger’s Fury positioned in kind of the ‘red-headed stepchild’ position, because I never used it in Kitty but it’s supposed to be buffed now so I plan on testing it out. I then have Survival Instincts directly above Frenzied Regeneration, for the synergy between them.
Frenzied Regeneration now heals over time based on your max health at the time it is cast, healing .3% of max health per point of Rage, at the rate of 10 Rage per second for 10 seconds. So, 3% of max health per second for 10 seconds. Survival Instincts boosts your max health temporarily by 30%. So I pop Survival Instincts to bring my health in Bear from 18,000 to 23,400… and then pop Frenzied Regeneration which heals over time based on a max health of 23,400, or 702 health per second, 7020 health total. They go together like Rum and Coke. If I were to just pop Frenzied Regen without SI, it would heal for 540 per second, instead. Hey, a difference of 1620 health is a Potion all by itself when things are tight!
After Survival Instincts, I have the core abilities that I wanted handy, right over my Mangle through Swipe set; Berserk, Barkskin, Lifeblood (the Heal Over Time you get with 375 Herbalism), Super Healing Potions, Charged Crystal Foci, Healthstones, Tanking Trinkets, and of course then we drift out towards the edges again with Entangling Roots and Nature’s Grasp.
Everyone’s got their own style of doing things, and I sure don’t want to come across like I think this is the best. Not hardly. People use tons of different mods to arrange buttons, and all sorts of different play techniques. Lost of folks put everything on hotkeys and would never dream of clicking a button.
This is just my way of doing things that I’ve used for a long time, and I like it.
Anyway, we strolled on into Heroic Magister’s, and I was excited to see how it would go.
Boy, did I stink it up in there for the first couple pulls.
The first thing I noticed?
My Rage seems to decay a LOT faster than it used to. I mean, eyeblink and it’s gone.
Used to be, I’d shift, pop Enrage, say to go ahead and Sheep pull, and have no problems picking up whatever came running. I was so used to never having a problem, I damn well forgot just how much Threat a Sheep pull causes a Mage.
Well, at least three seperate times last night Elystia died simply because I said to pull, and I didn’t have enough Rage to blow out a candle by the time her cast time was done and the group came running.
Once I actually got something fighting me, the Rage came fast and easy, but the first few seconds of a pull require timing and care.
The next thing, of course, is that Swipe is lovely. But so is being able to use Pots, Healthstones, and Crystal Focus whenever we feel like it, or when the Healer is a little busy keeping a squishie alive.
Not to mention being able to pop Survival Instincts and Frenzied Regeneration if the Healer is busy.
And popping Barkskin whenever under attack by more than one mob.
The next thing I noticed was that our Threat generation is quite lovely. I have definitely seen a big spike in Threat output. I was almost… not 100%, but almost, able to keep every Mana Worm on me for the entire AoE fight (the ones you pull right before the second boss), even with Elystia blasting them all out with her AoE. Towards the very end, usually two or three would fly past me to her before they all died, but for the most part Swipe kept the Worms VERY busy, and off the Mage.
Another thing of note, I found that even though Lifeblood is a nice, no Mana cost HoT that we can use in Bear form, I almost never used it. Since it does take a spot on the Global Cooldown, even though I had it I almost never popped it, because Mangle now has such a fast cooldown when fully talented that you just don’t want to waste a Mangle. But I did use it a couple times.
Basically, what I found was, if I wanted a shot of Health, and I was willing to blow the GCD, I was more willing to slam a Healing Potion than trigger a HoT. That may change when tanking easier fights, or longer fights, but on the four-pulls of short frantic duration I frequently was more concerned with insta-Health and throwing the Threat far and wide than on casting HoTs.
Like I said, I made more than my share of mistakes while getting used to having a LOT more toys to play with, and seeing what I liked using where… but one thing that was a hard lesson to internalize, was that Growl has a 20 yard range now.
At least three times, we’d be beating hell out of a group, and the Sheep would finally break, or the Sap would break, and I’d be busy with two mobs and Swiping around, and the mob would run for Graimerin, and I would spin around, and guess what? Feral Charge.
The second time I caight myself doing it, it got annoying. I’m too used to Feral Charge to nail someone in the backfield. I keep forgetting I can just turn around, Growl to get him off the Healer and onto me, and stay right there in place to finish the kill priority before Charging off to pick him up.
It’s far more efficient to stand in place and continue to beat heck out of your opponents, than to go charging off, dragging them all into melee range of the Healer, making the melee DPS chase after you all, and send everyone into Chaos just to pull Threat off.
No, much better to see the bad guy break and go running, and simply stand in place and pivot if necessary, throw down a long range Growl, and go back to beating the heck out of your primary kill targets. If things take too long, and the mob loses interest in you again, THEN decide if you want to Charge or wait for another Taunt. Geez.
Another thing? Berserk is AMAZING… but it DOES have drawbacks.
First, I’ve said it before, and I’ll keep hammering it home; before you trigger Berserk in Bear form, make damn sure Mangle is OFF cooldown.
When triggered properly, you can spam 10 Mangles one right after the other, BAM BAM BAMx10, right smack in the face of the bad guy. But if you trigger Berserk when Mangle is still on cooldown, from what I’ve seen it looks like it immediately removes the Haste buff you get from being specced fully into Improved Mangle, and you have to wait out the entire remaining old slow cooldown before you can finally start spamming the Berserk Mangles.
I haven’t timed it, but I was watching it close, and that seems to be what is happening. I’ll definitely be testing that out more.
The other drawback to Berserk, is that sometimes you DON’T want your attacks to hit more than your one main target.
We were fighting Kael’thas, and I was tanking him and beating hell out of him, and I decided to pop Berserk and Mangle the unholy heck out of him to fry his little Blood Elf brain before our first floater session with the globes.
And just as I begin to unleash the chain Manglex10 of DOOM, the Phoenix spawns RIGHT ON TOP OF Kael’thas.
Guess what? Birdie took the same ten Mangles… and the casters were never able to kite his butt off me. We lived through that, but Cassie was obviously in melee range and died.
The ‘My attacks hit far and wide” issue wasn’t limited to Berserk. Other times, I intentionally found myself in tight quarters with a Sheep nearby, and I did not dare use Maul, because I have that Glyph equipped that let’s it hit two targets… and I was afraid to break Sheep. Another couple times, I was sure the Sheep was far enough away so I could safely pop Swipe, and broke it anyway. I dearly need to test the exact range limits of Swipe when turned to the side.
Anyway, we blasted through Heroic Magister’s Terrace, we beat everthing up, we struggled a LOT with figuring out the Princess fight, wiping three times, until Cassie sapped the Warlord, Doozie banished the engineer, Elystia Sheeped the Eeherial, and then we all unloaded on the Monk, destroyed him, and then took down the Priestess, and one after another annihilated the last three as they broke CC.
On that fight, the abilities we have simply SHONE, as it was so delightful to be able to pop Survival Instincts, Barkskin, Healing Pots, Healthstones, Nature’s Grasp, and Berserk in Cat form to just survive solo LONG past when I’d normally be picking myself off the floor.
My biggest, most hugest mistake of all, though?
I forgot, as we were doing it, that my Entangling Roots work indoors now. I forgot! We are sitting there discussing CC methods on the damn pull, and I COULD HAVE ENTANGLED ONE!!!!!!111!
We can take the concentration we used to devote to keeping track of aggro levels on different mobs and multiple targeting, and apply that concentration towards a ton of wonderful abilities that are designed to keep us alive.
IF I can remember I have the damn things.
Next, I think I’d like to tank a Heroic Shattered Halls.
I’m definitely going to do Magister’s again on Heroic. SOON. It was a lot of fun.
Oh, and since I am in all Badge gear and Kara epics… I think you can rest assured, our armor number reduction has not changed our fundamental capability of effectively tanking a Heroic MgT.
And since most everyone seems to be geared way better than me these days, you ought to be quite, quite excited.
I cannot wait to see what Druids will get up to next. I’m already hearing stories of Whelp pulls in Onyxia’s Lair, and others pulling the eggs on purpose in UBRS looking to get the Leeroy Jenkins achievement, and similar delightful happenings.
Ah, it’s a beautiful day to be a Bear.
Oh, and grats to Cassie on getting the Shard of Contempt! Woohoo!
Sorry folks, the screenshot of my UI was posted wrong, and I’ve been swampeda t work so I wasn’t able to even know, let alone fix it. My bad!
Edit again: the unit frame mod I use is X-Perl, I like it a lot, a great all in one mod that you can customize quite well.
The bar I use for quickmarks is called… well… QuickMark. :)