Ghostcrawler made what, to me, was a surprise announcement yesterday detailing upcoming Feral changes that are going to have a drastic impact on how we approach our itemization. 

Here is his post in it’s entirety; 

ARMOR
We are changing the way bear armor works so that bonus armor on items does not receive the bear armor multiplier. Specifically this means that trinkets, rings, necks and cloaks with bonus armor will not be multiplied by the bear bonus. The normal armor on leather will still be multiplied by this bonus. We are also going to remove bonus armor from Feral staves. You’ll get your bonus armor from the leather you acquire.

Examples:
1) A ring that grants 100 bonus armor will now grant a bear 100 armor (not ~470 armor).
2) Leather legs with 253 armor will still grant a bear ~1190 armor (not 253 armor).
3) A feral staff will now grant 0 armor.

We are making this change because armor is such a good stat for bears that it makes taking pieces with bonus armor a non-decision and we don’t want acquiring these pieces, which tend to not be common, to be so much of a barrier to a druid who wants to tank a raid.

This change will NOT be in effect when Lich King ships. We are letting you know this now so that you don’t go through heroic efforts to acquire items like the Badge of Tenacity, or Defender’s Code. Defender’s Code, with 850 armor, will still be a good trinket. But it won’t be an insanely good trinket for a bear.

We will adjust the bear armor modifiers so that your net mitigation does NOT go down with these changes. Let me repeat: this is not a nerf to Feral armor. It is a change to the amount of armor you get from gear with bonus armor.

MANA
We are adding an effect to a deep Feral talent (something like Primal Tenacity) to further reduce the cost of shapeshifting into cat or bear by 50%. This talent will stack with Natural Shapeshifter for a total cost reduction of 80%. PvP-focused druids can get both talents to shift easily and often despite, no longer having Int on gear at level 80.

PROTECTOR OF THE PACK
We are removing the group requirements from this talent. The new tooltip will say: “Increases your attack power by X and reduces the damage you take in Bear Form and Dire Bear Form by Y.” The values of X and Y themselves are not changing.

Again, these changes will NOT be in Nov 13 for Lich King’s launch. We will add them in a patch that will come out sometime before the major Ulduar content patch. We’re letting you know now so that you can choose quest rewards and loot drops accordingly.

As you can see, Ghostcrawler had three main points.

In no particular order;

1) Protector of the Pack will no longer be affected by how many folks are in your party, but retains it’s stats. Win!

2) More shifting for less Mana cost in the deep Feral tree.

Now, this one I think will be a buff, but I’d like to know a little more about what Talent they are going to add the effect to. Right now, there are a lot of Talents in the deep Feral tree that I simply don’t take due to a lack of points at 70. At 80, it eases a lot, but depending on what they tack this onto, and whether or not they modify an existing Talent to more properly fit with the ‘PvP’ utilization of this might make it a PvP only Talent. Only time will really tell.

That we will have the choice to take it if we’re all that worried about Mana, should effectively shut at least some of us up. So win?

3) Bear Armor will come from equipped Leather. Period.

Okay, he has promised that our Bear form armor multiplier will be increased so that our mitigation from armor will stay the same with less actual armor to counteract the removal of Rings, Necklaces, Trinkets, Cloaks and Staves. 

In other posts, Ghostcrawler has said they are also looking at removing the concept of bonus ‘Green’ armor from gear entirely, meaning that PvP gear would not be quite as much of a no-brainer as it is right now for tanking.

So what we might be looking at would be gear that would have a set armor value according to it’s item level, and the variance in gear would be in how the stats play out.

Will there still be ‘best of class’ drops for Bear tanking?

Always.

But a change like this should mean that the difference in Bear tanking capability and mitigation should be a lot closer between tanks of various progression levels.

Pre-patch and Wrath, there was a massive difference between the mitigation and survivability of a tank dinging 70 equipped with AH greens and blues and quest rewards, and a tank that had made repeated runs into specific instances looking for that one perfect drop.

How many Feral Druids out there ground out their Cenarion Expedition rep to Exalted for that one, ‘must have’ Earthwarden weapon?

Would the answer be “All of us”?

Yes, we had Braxxis’ Staff of Slumber as an easily obtained alternative, but the fact remains, grind grnid grind to get one item that was considered darn near required pre-SSC.

There were so many items like that. Some you could AH, but others you just had to keep running and running and hope for a drop… and have to put up with there not really being that many alternatives.

Well, this is all about having more alternatives while you hunt that one perfect drop.

YES, there will still be items that are best in class. Yes, we will still have items that we desire over the rest for an equipment slot.

But, we should be able to have a vast assortment of viable alternatives to choose from to help us tank effectively in 5 mans while leveling along the way.

And that I think is pretty awesome.

But this whole thing? The changes and uncertainty?

THIS is why I have not done a single guide since all this went into production. I am waiting for a reasonable moment when WotLK has been out, and we have done at least a little leveling, before I start doing gear analysis and upgrade planning for level 80 raiding.

Because you just never know, and we don’t need it yet.

I’m liking these planned changes… so far. I hope you do too.

23 Responses to “Ghostcrawler drops da Bearbomb!”
  1. Rahl says:

    Hey BBB.
    Personally i think that the changes are great news! It just goes to show that Blizz does listen to the community and takes on constructive criticism where its warranted.

    Bring on Dual spec and new models for forms in this patch and it will forever be known as the BigBearPatch!

  2. Erthshade says:

    While I had a moment of panic on reading about the upcoming bear changes, a few moments of reflection made me realize this is all good.

    The only equipment question that’s been on my mind since 3.0.2 hit has been, “What should I do with my Arcanum of the Gladiator and Aldor tanking inscription, since resilience has been made completely useless and defense rating only slightly less so for me?” Well, that and whether to exchange my VE tank ring for dps once these changes go live.

    Gotta say I’m in love with barreling into groups of mobs and swiping them all down, though I had to drop two points from Infected Wounds back into Shredding Attacks because my cat rotations were suffering too much on single targets.

  3. Sannu says:

    Um, so basically they’re taking away armor on our staves, which replaced the necessity of shield/parry/block. Now we’re left with a tad more armor than warriors and still only have increased dodge without parry or block. I hope they increase the armor multiplier so that we can keep up with the death knight’s 180% armor from PLATE items plus parry and warriors’ and paladins’ shields plus block and parry.

    Darn this seems so much like a flame post, but I’m just bringing out the facts and if they increase the multiplier then it’s all well.

  4. rakhman says:

    The devs continuing to change stuff and balance and tweak, at their own admission, much after the fact of the expansion, is just a little bit concerning. Sure us cognoscenti will read the post and choose items accordingly, and when any future changes happen will be just fine.

    But there are those in the game, in my guild, among my friends, who do not read this stuff, won’t know about future planned changes to change their conceptions of the world, and will suffer as a result. I also dislike having to second guess changes and when comparing items, take into account current stats and talents and now bleeding future changes to talents and stats.

    I guess we just have to be glad that the devs are at least warning us about such changes, rather than dropping them on us all of a sudden and making it feel like the dreaded nerf.

  5. FaceTankingForFunAndProfit says:

    I used to be the primary tank for my guild. They liked how I mitigated lots of damage and took damage in a more controlled way (easier on the healers that way). With all the changes that have been made to armor already I have basically been relegated to 3rd OT because I get pounded now by Sunwell mobs (I lost about 12k armor in that patch).

    Warriors and Paladins seem able to take on 5-6+ mobs at a time and keep threat on all of them whereas I can only take about half that much (with my health yo-yo-ing like crazy) and the other tanks still pull threat off me even when my mob isn’t their focus. It would be nice if there were shorter cooldowns on some our threat generating talents. Oh and btw, Paladins who are worried about us being the new aoe tanks have nothing to worry about. I have seen our paladins pull entire rooms full of mobs in BT and not have their health bars move much. It is an impressive thing to see tbh.

    I hope that things at 80 look alot better than this because quite frankly it sometimes makes me not want to play my druid and hop back on my warrior or paladin. I am trying hard not to make this sound like just another QQ but it seems that not all tanks are created equal (at least not at 70 anymore). I am hopeful though that things will change when we hit 80 and that blizzard hasn’t ruined druid tanking.

  6. Aluminum says:

    So the Earthwarden…. the Badge of Tenacity… th VE rep ring…

    These are things I should change now? after burning my fingerprints into my keyboard grinding out the rep? So a DPS staff is better than Earthwarden now?(or in the near future i mean) something like the badge one, or the Kara dropped one….
    can someone confirm/explain?

  7. Squirrelz says:

    I’m just really glad they changed the way protector of the pack works. It was an interesting idea, but unless they made mitigation for the other tanks work the same way they were basically saying that bears are the only tanks that aren’t allowed to “solo tank” or duo things. I remember the first time Nasirah and I duoed a Felreaver. I wasn’t happy when it seemed that the devs were saying that a paladin, warrior, or DK could do that now, but not a Bear. I’m glad they finally listened to reason. /cheer

  8. bigbearbutt says:

    I wholeheartedly agree, Squirrelz…

    And for clarification… none if this is live.

    NONE OF THIS IS LIVE YET!

    Read it voer, you’ll see that not only didn’t this happen in Patch 3.0.3, but it ain’t going live next week in the Wrath release, either.

    And it may not.

    You never, ever know until you see the patch notes.

    However, this IS a ehads up that, once Wrath comes out, do not get rid of ANY agi/stam/dodge/hit rating/expertise item, no matter what it is, or how it compares to your current armor level if all else is equal. If rogue/druid elather drops, and it looks decent, hold onto it. Stuff will get ‘rebalanced’ once again soon.

    If you have to, make a bank alt you can mail all your druid’s non-soulbound stuff to, to make room in the bank. Don’t get rid of what you may find out was gold after the change.

  9. Sannu says:

    Sorry about the QQing before, I did not pay enough attention to this statement:
    “We will adjust the bear armor modifiers so that your net mitigation does NOT go down with these changes. Let me repeat: this is not a nerf to Feral armor. It is a change to the amount of armor you get from gear with bonus armor.”

    In addition, the Protector of the Pack will make up, if not boost our efficiency.

  10. Kheldar says:

    can’t say i’m happy to seem them making such major nerfs to armour again for us.

    they only just nerfed the multiplier and took away armour from items i am using.

    now at the 11th before Wrath they announce this huge potential change ?

    their timing sucks tbh. if they were really planning such a sweeping change it should have been announced months ago and it should be partof Wrath. not some half baked posting that does not have all the details needed.

    atm i’m getting to the stage i’m not interested or excited about playing my druid, which as its my only 70 from Day 1 of Wow is beginning to signal the end of wow for me.

  11. Xathras says:

    (Disclaimer: I play a hunter. I don’t have a tank. Deal with this post as you will)
    To those worried about their mitigation, particularly the guy who lost his MT slot. GC and the other blizzard devs aren’t idiots. If they see that ferals are never getting to tank they’ll fix it.

    Also keep in mind that this patch, and these pre-announced changes, are balanced around lvl 80 raiding and lvl 80 items. Druids, paladins, and death knights were MTing raids in the beta. Wrath was designed around the idea that all tanks could MT. In TBC the warrior was designed as the MT and all other tanks were supposed to OT. That design has changed. You may not be fine at release, there’s always that possibility. But you will be fine by 3.1 or 3.2. Blizzard’s profit margin depends on it.

  12. Kal says:

    To FaceTankingForFunAndProfit – one reason that you got smacked around like a doll in Sunwell is because your ability to tank was balanced around having level 80 trinkets like Defender’s Code, which has 850 armor, in addition to having another 550 armor trinket equipped. That meant that if you did have the trinket you were doing great – but if you didn’t, you were effectively out 4000 armor.

    That’s not a good way to balance a game. No class should be so dependent on just a couple of very rare drops to be successful, and no class should desire one stat so much more than any other.

  13. Rhoelyn says:

    As a religious ignorer of patch notes (perhaps, not the wisest choice of existential belief systems), I got my first hint that all was not well in druidland when I went to kill my favorite herds of clefthoof, last night. Post-3.0, I had discovered that I was powerful enough to take on 2-3 of the thunderstomping herds quite easily IN MY CAT GEAR.

    Last night, I discovered that I’m back down to 1-1.5 herds IN MY BEAR GEAR. Losing 10k armor has been very painful, but I suppose it really just puts me back into feeling reasonably powerful instead of crazily overpowerful.

    Still, Rhese likes to munch on Clefthoof. He’s a little distraught over the entire change. In the grand scheme of things, are we still going to be okay, or should I start planning to head back to Gruul / Mags for my tanking fix?

    Not Tanking So Well with the Face,
    ~Rhoelyn / Rhese

  14. Eru says:

    To FaceTankingForFunAndProfit: Seriously, you have a problem in Sunwell? I had been using a cat spec for the last few weeks, but respecced for mitigation as we needed an extra tank in SW this weekend. I found quite the opposite to be true.

    When the 3.0.2 patch hit I went from capped armor (75% mitigation) to around 25k, maybe a little more, which is 70% mitigation. Add in PotP for an extra 12% and I actually ended up with MORE total mitigation than before, and PotP includes magic damage. I found myself rage starved in nearly every trash pull, and not able to hold agro as well as I’m used to. Definitely no survivablility issues, even on bosses. I switched back to a cat spec after the raid, and doubt I’ll go back until 80.

    After these changes, we won’t lose mitigation, as they will increase modifiers. We WILL have more options for our rings/trinkets/weapon slots that we will be able to switch around depending on the encounter. This is a great change, I just hope they work on the FAP mechanic too.

  15. Hammaer says:

    “Stuff will get ‘rebalanced’ once again soon.”

    And that’s the entire problem. It’s impossible to plan what to do with my druid at the moment, because Blizz has no idea wtf they want to do with hybrid classes, but they’re rolling out changes anyway without any understanding of the impact on their players.

    They’ve actually come out and said publicly that hybrids aren’t allowed to be “as good” as pure classes at anything, because then those classes will QQ about us until we get nerfed. As a result, our abilities are supposed to be “5% less all things being equal”. They are essentially forcing out hybrid classes in favor of pure classes.

    If I’m a Raid Leader, and I’ve got the choice between taking someone who can max out on dps/tanking/healing or someone who is a hybrid and therefore will do 5% less, I’ll take the pure class every time. Or more accurately, so that we canz have buffz I’ll take one resto druid, one resto shaman, and one holy pally. Then I stock up on warrior tanks, priest healers, rogues, hunters, mages, and warlocks. If I’ve got a good player playing a hybrid, I make them switch to a pure class to optimize the raid.

    Like FaceTanking said, they’ve made all these changes that relegate us from MT to 3rd OT. What they should have done was keep the game balanced at 70, then re-adjust to 80 once people reached that content. Frankly, I don’t care that things will re-balance at level 80 – I’m playing the game NOW at level 70 running end-game content, and since 3.0.2 I’ve been hit by a massive nerfbat that resulted in my being replaced by a prot warrior as MT. I’m now the first kill target tank, because I don’t have as much survivability as I used to have to MT things – I can hold aggro, but I can’t stay alive.

  16. Rahl says:

    I dont want to start a flame war but…

    All those people going OMG wot am i going to do? They have nerfed amour already and now we are getting another armor nerf!

    Read the post!
    Blizz is changing the armor multiplier and changing it so that we get more armor from the items that do get multiplied!
    In other words, NOTHING CHANGES (give or take a few 100 or so) because the increased multiplier makes up for the armor we loose of weapons and trinkets.

    What it does mean is that we can go after an increased number of items that aren’t armor focused and give us more SAT, STR, AGI, Ect.. This will make us more diverse and mean we wont have to grind dungeons or rep for that one stellar item that was just for druids!

  17. Ahiga says:

    Just praying that all other classes start the Xpac with the nerfs druid tanks are. Will all my hard earned tanking gear have its stats refigured to the same level of performance I had in TBC for the start of Wrath? Maybe it wont matter for long but fair is fair.

  18. ARA says:

    Great write up, yes I’m very happy about these too for exactly those reasons: it will allow us all a lot more flexibility with gear choices and enable us to perform well, without waiting for these big quantum upgrades. I remember the plateau I was on while running normal steamvaults 15 times for my earthwarded… Played the game a lot, tanked a lot, but didnt dare try a heroic without it.

    Kudos to you for waiting till live to work on gear lists! Those who jumped the gun are finding they have to revise their lists once more after this change, and who knows how soon again after live.

  19. Cappy says:

    I think the real thing that hurts is the timing of it all. Yes the Protector of the Pack change is great, but it probably won’t get implemented until after we have all hit 80 and don’t need to solo group quests anymore. I love the idea that we don’t have to focus only on heavy armor items in our trinket/neck/cloak/ring slots. The real problem is that there is no real alternative. We went from having to struggle to get the great armor drop to being able to choose from a ton of different options that are all pretty much sub-par for a druid. Choices are great but because we only use armor and agility/dodge for mitigation there are plenty of choices for us now that bonus armor is gone, but we won’t want any of them.

    Before we were going to take the “Tank” off slot pieces. Most of those items have some combination of nice armor, good +stam, +def, +dodge, +block and +parry. Some of those stats are terrible for us, especially block and parry, but it was ok because we got a huge amount of armor from the item. Now we will all get “DPS” necks/rings/cloaks and hope we can find some that have mostly agility, stamina and some other stat like +hit or expertise, but most likely Attack Power. That will be ok, the agility will be nice but the stamina on that piece will be only 60% of the stamina on the pure “tank” item. So our stam multiplier will only give us equal stam to other tanks. With no armor on feral weapons, we are looking at having the similar health levels with other tanks, slightly better dodge, and no parry/block.

    So it all comes down to how much armor do we get from the new conversion standard for leather they are introducing. Well Elitist Jerks theorycrafting has run the numbers and with this change and the amount of armor we lose, in full Naxx 10 gear, we would have to have the Dire Bear Multiplier increased to over 900% to have the same armor levels we had before this change. I don’t know about you, but i’d bet serious money they are not increasing Dire Bear Form multiplier to 900%. And of course they aren’t going to allow resto druids to have a 900% bear form modifier in Arena. And yes they will probably add an increased modifier onto a talent in deep feral so resto’s can’t get it, but i’m still betting they don’t make the new multiplier give us a total of 900% increased armor from leather.

    So I think we’re looking at having the same Stam as other tanks, probably similar armor as other tanks even after whatever new modifier they give us, much better threat generation (because we have to wear dps rings/necks now) and slightly better dodge, but no block and parry. That is not a good place to be in. What they will have to do to make this change work is introduce some new off-slot items that are agi/dodge, high stam and armor only for the off-slot pieces. But other tanks wouldn’t want those and this would be inconsistent with their plan of homogenizing loot drops.

    I do have some faith that we will be adjusted and tweaked, but if it takes months and months to make us viable as MT’s again, it might be too late for some of us. We’ll just have to wait and see I guess. I can deal with Nerfs, it’s the uncertainty that bothers me.

  20. Copey says:

    I’m not sure what you guys are talking about. I logged on after another patch download last night, and got immediately invited to Kara pug. Yeah it’s only Kara, but I’m only geared up in T4 and QD Badge gear. I was told I’d be OT and the well geared pally would be MT. By the time we hit Nightbane and Curator it was obvious that I was holding threat better on single mobs, and often time doing a better job with multiples. By the time we got to Shade and only needed one tank from then on out I asked him to respec to heals after we lost a healer (since I had been given the raid leader position) and he hearthed out and logged. We nine manned the rest after picking up a brand new 70 that had very little spell power/plus heals.

    I don’t see any nerfs to my moderately geared druid, in fact it was maybe even easier than last weeks run.

  21. ARA says:

    Hammaer – just read your post. Man you’re rough, I wouldnt want to be in your guild :P

    Seriously though, sorry to hear your having issues. I love it!!! Yaaayyy for swipe and the glyph of maul. So I guess mileage will vary. Our warrior MT is actually bottom of the tank damage meters on all types of tanking jobs: aoe clearing, single pulls, and boss fights. The druid (me) is at the top for the tanks, and the pallies are in the middle. The warriror is MT because of his time and committment to the guild, not because of the mechanics of the class any more.

    Your thinking on hybrids is too simplistic, and you’re taking some of GCs comments out of context. The bottom line is that all 4 tank classes are viable main tanks in wrath, so a guild that chooses to progress new content with any combination of tanks will not be at a disadvantage. Dont forget gear plays a large role in all this too – I’m not sure if your gear is comparable to the other tanks in your guild. But mechanically and from a design pov, and from my own recent experience in (nerfed) t6 raids, I believe Blizzard have done an excellent job in balancing the 3 tanking classes. Dont be depressed!

  22. bigbearbutt says:

    Cappy, excellent write up, we’re on the same page on some things.

    One thing I’d not take too seriously right this second is anyone that professes to decide what the actual armor modifier would have to be at 80 raiding.

    As I said in my speculation post, the Developers are going to have to decide for themselves what target number they intend Bears to hit to be balanced with other Tanks, and then use that as the baseline for designing modifications, while lookin at how such a chjange will scale using Rogue leather armor levels.

    I don’t really think that selecting a collection of currently listed Naxx gear and other drops of comparable iLevels, while certainly a good starting point for a rough idea, is a valid basis for QQing just yet.

  23. Cappy says:

    Yeah sorry for the major QQ post I guess i’m just really nervous. I have absolutely loved the changes to feral up to this point and have been enjoying my new spot as MT for my guild. Feral tanking has so many more abilities now and it is much more fun.

    I just really see an ever worse problem with itemization now than the armor trinkets/rings of the past. Before you knew you were going to try to get the armor trinket and then you were set. It wasn’t fun but at least you had a best in slot to work for. I don’t see it being any different now, just a different item. We only use agility/dodge for mitigation and stamina never hurts, so there will be a Commendation of Kael’thas type trinket in WotLK and we will simply have to go for that instead of the Defender’s Code. It’s not like they nerfed armor so now we want the shield block trinket, or the parry trinket, or the +defense/stamina trinket. We’re in the same boat just not the armor boat anymore.

    Also, from my recent experience i’ve noticed with the gear homongenization it is harder for a feral to gear up than a warrior. We are two tanking BT right now, and every single time a piece of +def palte drops of a boss, it goes to the warrior without even a roll because he’s the only one who can use it. A nice leather piece drops and I have to roll against two-three rogues and maybe even an enhancement shaman for it.

    I can’t wait till I have to roll on the high agility, stam, +hit/attack power neck that might drop. We run with 5 hunters, 2 rogues, 1-2 enchanment shammies and two DPS warriors. The warrior tank gets his armor/def/parry/block/stam tank necklace by default and I have a 1-9 shot of outrolling dps for my “tank” necklace.

    I am hopefully that it will all work out though. I have been having a blast tanking lately and I honestly don’t care if we have an armor niche or no niche as long as I can still MT for my guild it’s all good. So let’s hope GC and the gang get it all worked out. They did a nice job on our new abilities so i’ve got my finger’s crossed.

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