The answers to Ask the Devs #9: Tankin’ went up this morning.

I’m gonna preface what follows by acknowledging that I am grateful that the developers take the time to tell us anything at all. In the early years of World of Warcraft, all we had were prognostications from tea leaf readers and drunk hoboes off the street as far as what the Devs were thinking, planning, or their reasons for changing things. I much prefer the amount of information they share with us now. I don’t want to go back.

On the other paw, when something like Ask the Devs comes along, and the membership is asked to submit their questions for consideration, this is an exciting moment.

The Developers are knee deep in the gore, they swim in the chum-slicked waters of “what is, what may, and what will never be” all week long. They are engaged in the active process of updating and improving the game all the time. They consider new ideas, revisit old ideas, continue forward progress and face obstacles all the time.

When you’re up to your ass in alligators, it can be real hard to remember that you were hired to drain the swamp, and a whole bunch of folks are waiting behind the construction fence, wondering how you’re doing getting their new swimming pool finished.

The players are enjoying the game they’ve got, but they can see your blueprint for the proposed structure, and they’re curious how things are going on the other side of that big fence. They can’t see the alligators the Devs are fighting, so it’s possible they have a different vision of where things are now, and might come up with surprising questions on what the pool will finally look like, and what features they hope to see.

Asking the players to submit questions is awesome, it gives an opportunity for the Devs to really see what people are thinking and wondering.

So, questions got asked. The Devs chose which to answer. 

In that context, question #2 and it’s answer pissed me off. Yes, I am a Grumpy Bear right now.

Q: Have you considered normalizing initial Rage for feral druid tanks? For example, when a warrior uses Charge, it generates 15 points of Rage, which lets them use another aggro generating ability quickly, something that Feral druids tend to be a bit short on. Why in Cataclysm was the bear bonus health pool was reduced, as well? Their survivability always depended on the amount of health since they don’t have parry or shield block. Do you have any plans to improve bear tanking in the future? At the moment, it’s considered to be the weakest tank. Have you considered giving druid tanks an additional tool to pull casters at range? It’s the only tank class that doesn’t have a talent or spell to help in those situations. – Pødêrøsø (LA), Вирко (EU-RU), Амелья (EU-RU), Condenacion (EU-ES), Whitewnd (KR)

A: Bears are getting a significant mitigation buff in 4.2 and we’re retuning their damage such that it’s a little easier to hold aggro at low gear levels, and a little harder at higher gear levels. While we definitely don’t expect the community to ever agree on anything, we’ve seen little evidence of a widespread concurrence that druids are “the weakest tank.” There are plenty of druid tanks out there, handling everything from Grim Batol to Sinestra. Tank balance overall is in a really good place. Players may focus on potential problems that could arise in the future but we also have ample time to address those problems should they occur. Gone are the days when we would just release a class into the wild and refuse to touch it again until the next expansion.

Oh, that irritates me so much.

First up, the question was a bad question to answer in one wall of text. That is not ONE question, there are four questions in one paragraph, each asking something different. But it was presented as one question, and so the answer was provided as one big rolling answer.

Let’s break that wall o’ questions down some and insert the applicable answers with my comments.

Q1. Have you considered normalizing initial Rage for feral druid tanks? For example, when a warrior uses Charge, it generates 15 points of Rage, which lets them use another aggro generating ability quickly, something that Feral druids tend to be a bit short on.

A2. (and) we’re retuning their damage such that it’s a little easier to hold aggro at low gear levels, and a little harder at higher gear levels.

This tells us there will be changes to how fast we initially build Threat, but the way it’s phrased implies that whatever they do will NOT be giving us normalized tools to build initial/instant Rage as was asked, but instead will be some kind of change to the threat generated by our instant cast abilities that start strong but don’t scale with AP on a 1 to 1.

Q2. Why in Cataclysm was the bear bonus health pool was reduced, as well? Their survivability always depended on the amount of health since they don’t have parry or shield block.

A1. Bears are getting a significant mitigation buff in 4.2 

This does seem to be how they are answering Q2. I’m willing to believe this is meant to acknowledge that Bears need a little tweaking to improve mitigation, possibly because our health is normalized but we can’t Block or Parry. I do wish that the reason for the ‘significant mitigation buff’ was more clearly revealed. I don’t feel there is an issue, myself. If they feel Bears need some buffing, I’d love to know why or what the data says as a cause.

Q3. Do you have any plans to improve bear tanking in the future? At the moment, it’s considered to be the weakest tank.

A3. While we definitely don’t expect the community to ever agree on anything, we’ve seen little evidence of a widespread concurrence that druids are “the weakest tank.” There are plenty of druid tanks out there, handling everything from Grim Batol to Sinestra. Tank balance overall is in a really good place.

If they have seen “little” evidence, then I’m going to trust them. Anything I’ve seen personally would be anecdotal evidence unsupported by server-wide research. A solid, non-waffling answer.

Why non-waffling? Because for the little evidence they have seen, they have announced they are implementing significant mitigation buffs in 4.2 and a change to low level initial threat generation. So maybe there is a little evidence, but they’re doing something about it. Can’t ask for much more than that. I still haven’t seen problems. Only thing I heard people bitch about was the Swipe cooldown issue, and they fixed that. Matheo who raids as a Bear says it’s made a huge difference.

Q4. Have you considered giving druid tanks an additional tool to pull casters at range? It’s the only tank class that doesn’t have a talent or spell to help in those situations. 

A4. Players may focus on potential problems that could arise in the future but we also have ample time to address those problems should they occur. Gone are the days when we would just release a class into the wild and refuse to touch it again until the next expansion.

Oooo! Just, grrr! Do you see what I see here? How is that in any way an answer to Q4? “Potential problems that could arise in the future”? It’s a problem that exists NOW, insofar as it is a problem. Was there any real mention whatsoever to Bears getting a method to deal with ranged casters in a group pull like other classes have?

NO. Completely ignored.

And THAT is the source of my irritation and general feeling of pissyness. Sure, the questioners stuffed the box full, but the Devs chose this questionwall to answer, cherry picked which parts of it to address, and then completely ignored the only bit of it I would really want a direct answer to!

Devs, If you don’t want to answer the question, then don’t put it up there in the wall o’ text! If you put it up there like that, and then completely ignore it, it feels like you are intentionally dodging a question like some politician accused of being a weinie wagger.

That just pisses me off. It shows us you know we’re asking the question, and tells us you aren’t WILLING to answer it.

What are the options here?

Either you know there is an issue and don’t WANT to address it, or you know there is an issue and you don’t know HOW to address it, or you know there is an issue and you don’t consider it important enough TO address for the cost in development time, or you don’t agree there is an issue there at all.

None of those seem like a shameful secret that must be concealed. This ain’t a stiffy in your shorts you want to hide in class, it’s a question on group management tool planning for the development team, and who else would you ask about that but the Devs?

Why can’t you just pick one and tell us!

20 Responses to “Ask the Devs; Irritation Factor Nine”
  1. Ozamalus says:

    BBB, I would say that you should just enjoy your hunter…seriously. The devs HAVE no blueprint with bears so they CAN’T answer consistently. I know you still enjoy WoW so just move along to the hunter, nothing to see about bears here. I quit their game because of their cluster bomb mentality towards bears (throw a bunch of shit towards it and hope something hits the target) but I still enjoy your writing style so I check your site from time to time. Keep up the good work.

    Almost forgot…hope you’re enjoying the Wheel Of Time series.

  2. Ming says:

    Actually, I’ve always assumed the questions are given as is to the developers by some CMs, and then the developers answer them in some rambly sort of way and send them back, and then the CMs translate to multiple languages and post them.

    So it’s not so much that they’re ignoring the question itself so much as they were writing the answer out to that giant bunch of questions and it slipped their mind in the shuffle. At least, that seems like the most reasonable situation to me.

    • bigbearbutt says:

      You’ve got an excellent point on the troubles involved in translating questions and answers from language to language so that all community members can understand it. Sometimes things can be lost in translation.

      The reason this one question stood out, for me, like a fart in church was that this question has been asked repeatedly for YEARS in the official forums, and has received nothing but silence. To my knowledge, it has never been acknowledged as having been asked, let alone answered.

      It’s like one of those questions that get asked in the forums, where a CM comes in and tells the poster never to post that question in the forums again and to go put in an online trouble ticket, and which leave me feeling that the message here is, they could take the time to scold the poster for making his question public, but they couldn’t take the time to ANSWER THE QUESTION SO WE COULD ALL BENEFIT FROM THE ANSWER.

      Why? Whats the big mystery? They know we aren’t completely stupid, just because they refuse to acknowledge a question exists doesn’t mean we don’t know it was asked, and it doesn’t mean we don’t still want an answer. All it does is highlight a question they’ve dodged, and make us wonder why.

      I’d love for them to simply highlight that one question, will Bears get a ranged interrupt/silence, and then answer NO, they WANT the playstyle of Bear tanks to be in-your-face death machines, and standing off hiding isn’t hardcore enough for Bears. They WANT us to get in there and claw the shit out of the enemy right in their grill.

      Would we really bitch about it? Or would we sit there and go, “hell yeah bitches, that’s a Bear, all up in those bastards and giving them the what for, that’s why I’m a Bear instead of some pansy Death Knugget.”

    • Minos says:

      The problem with Question #2 is not that it’s not a shotgun barrage of questions from one person, it’s 4 questions from 5 different people (in 4 different regions!) smashed together by whoever gathered the questions. So it’s either shame on the CMs for overloading the question or shame on the Devs for including a question they then proceeded to ignore.

      I understand that they wanted to discuss bears in general, but Question #2 was poorly formulated to address that desire.

  3. Riegnman says:

    Don’t we have skull bash or whatever? That is a charge that interrupts and stops casting of that school for 4 seconds or something, right? Maybe I am way off.

    • bigbearbutt says:

      There is Skull Bash, yes indeedy, and what it does is give us an interrupt on a 10 second cooldown (when specced), that requires us to be within physical contact of the enemy to use.

      Blizzard graciously decided that, if the mob didn’t happen to be IN melee range when we wanted to bash their skulls in, this ability would take us TO the mob.

      Now, this is certainly better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick, and I think it would be churlish to scorn such an offering. All right, granted, it’s the exact same thing we once had with the combination of Feral Charge and the original Bash, but combined and not sharing the same cooldowns as the current Feral Charge and Bash. It was still nice of them to give this interrupt to us in both Bear and Kitty form, and I thank them.

      What you don’t understand, because I failed to be clear about it, is that I’m not upset about Bears having a lack of ranged silence slow Captain America Shield like Pallies do, or a Force Choke Yank Pull Slam like Death Knights do, as much as I am irritated that they simply ignored the question completely.

      For all of me, I am perfectly happy with the way things are, SO LONG AS THE ARCHITECTURE ALLOWS FOR LINE OF SIGHT PULLING.

      As long as Blizzard designs instances so that we have options, which do include the tank being smart enough to call for other players to use THEIR abilities including CC, and we can apply skill to overcome obstacles, then I’m cool with it.

      That being said, I do think that it’s kinda bullshit that our charge costs us Rage instead of giving it to us like Warriors get, AND we don’t get a ranged silence/interrupt that lets us maintain a safe distance from face pulling an entire room like other classes get.

      If they change Feral Charge to give us Rage, then I would be so thrilled I’d squee. If they gave us a ranged interrupt/silence that we didn’t have to charge into a room to use, I’d squee. That we get neither, leaves me feeling meh.

      • Lazaros of Llane says:

        Charge costing Rage is a bad legacy of pre-4.0 when other specs could hybrid up to Feral Charge in a funky PvP spec to gain more utility. Now that that has been solved, it’s past time to remedy that situation, just like they did with Enrage.

        Playing the other tanks lately in 5’s (DK at 85, Pally at 84, 20’s Warrior), I see so much in terms of group control, not just “gather ‘em up and survive.” Bears do decently, but seem to have a smaller toolkit. (Though I could very well be wrong here.)

  4. Kel says:

    The thing about skull bash is that it’s melee range. All other tanks get a ranged interrupt/silence, either an ability or through talents, but bears have to be in melee range to silence a caster (which may end up with face-pulling the next trash pack). The questioner was asking if bears would ever get a ranged silence, so the mob will run to the tank instead. And it looks like the answer is ‘no’. :(

  5. Kemonojin says:

    We DO have Furor, giving us 10 rage on a shift, and Enrage, giving us 20 rage immediately (talentable up to 32) and 10 more over 10 seconds, without having to charge into a mess to get it. I’d love to have FFF give us a ranged silence or something, even if it’s only ‘not in combat’ so we can pull with it.

    I do miss the bonus threat we used to have, though. Friend says that the extra DPS is supposed to make up for it, but I don’t really see it. I’m losing things more often than I used to.

  6. Savvy-Savvage says:

    I never feel like my bear tank is underpowered ever. It may be because I have 5 max level tanks, every class plus a second deathknight, and my bear is the only one with “Defender of a Shattered World.” (/happydance and thankyou to BBB for getting me started) It may also be because no matter who comes to tank with us, I have issues modulating my threat low enough for them and get prompted in whispers by my healers to teach the other tank how to take less damage like I apparently do. /flex? I’m flexing on behalf of all bear tanks out there because we are not underpowered, we are under advocated.

    Skull bash isn’t even our best tool against ranged casters outside the group in my opinion, FFF is. There’s no way healer aggro is gonna overcome you spamming FFF every 4th GCD on a ranged mob and guess what? We can only AOE on 3/4s of our cooldowns so the 4th one is totally available for that. DPS are never gonna understand what you are doing in that situation and that IS a problem but the problem is with us not doing it or explaining it well enough.

    Need early threat? Pop enrage with King of the Jungle and fight the tears of laughter. Pop barskin with it if you are still a little squishy. I miss my old health pools but I seriously love having savage defense absorbing 23k+ damage :). I can completely block small-medium attacks unlike my warrior or pally who have their own advantages. The stuff I can’t completely block comes through and meets my armor which is just ridiculous compared to theirs.

    I hope everyone goes out and plays their bear tank soon!
    (I reforge to dodge but stack mastery otherwise. I managed to get about 200 per slot. At 3k mastery you’ve doubled your savage defense size.)

    • Suxxy says:

      Would that FFF be on a mouse-over macro, so you don’t even have to change target from the mob/group you’re meleeing?
      #showtooltip
      /cast [target=mouseover, harm,exists, nodead] Faerie Fire (Feral);Faerie Fire (Feral)

      (with apologies to the spell-clickers)

    • Lazaros of Llane says:

      This is what I need right here. This is the encouragement I need to get back into bear (aside from using it to farm old content the easy way). You’re about to make my guild a happy bunch by adding a second tank to the lineup.

      Cheers!

    • bigbearbutt says:

      Have I told you… lately…. that I love you.

  7. James says:

    Even though the content of this post doesn’t apply to my main play experience (dwarf rogue FTW!) I have to say that the prose you used, especially in the first few paragraphs, was very enjoyable and was fun to read. This I why I like reading the stuff that you put together.

  8. Dysheki says:

    Pretty sure they’ve just given these questions to a PR intern to answer.

    lol

    SPIN THE WEB

  9. Dorgol says:

    My only complaint with Druid tanking vs other tanks is the ranged interrupt. I don’t need a spell reflect or dark simulcrum or anti-magic shell. What I need is a way to interrupt the “big bad” without dragging all the other mobs with me. Moving them causes the melee to get annoyed and it causes me to have to do the little dance trying to get everyone in front of me again.

    Otherwise, I’d say Bears are in the best shape they’ve ever been.

  10. Khettien says:

    I remember a WoW (maybe GC?) Dev stating, way back in the day, that the Vanilla and BC design for Feral explicitly was not to have a (standard) spell interrupt. I don’t remember the reasoning, as it’s been a long time since then.

  11. Tonori says:

    When I started Bear-ing my way through instances my mentor tank – who using this blog as his chief reference & I were strongly of the opinion that the Bear was different because of the lack of direct options to ranged casters. We ‘understood’ (assumed) that the HP pool was so large for a bunch of reasons & that this was probably the main one. It means you could spend more time with the mob to ensure aggro lock then go the caster. It meant that shammies, other druids & melee… & the occasional mage, ‘lock & hunter pet kept their eyes open & took care of that problem. Bear tanks made the party smarter. Bear tanks made the party use teamwork. Bear tanks meant that they were safe to do so.

    It seemed so obvious…

  12. Belile says:

    I love my bear. I do. Despite a few shortcomings, because really, every tank has them. I’ve raided with my 80 Warrior and 80 DK in Wrath and my Bear in Wrath and Cata. My new Pally tank just hit 80. So I know all the tanks reasonably well, and I love them all, so please don’t think I’m hating on the others. I just love my bear. :-) Though sometimes I wonder if its rational.

    Below are a few issues I still see bears having that I would like to see addressed. Its not that I expect all my wishes to be granted but rather that there are some inequities that I don’t see as interesting enough to justify the lack of normalization. I’m OK with certain stuff being lacking in one, or slightly OP in another tank as that adds flavor. When one tank is getting a crappy ability or clunky behavior for no good reason, I scratch my head. Here are some oddities with bears, some comparrisons, and a suggestion or two (with rationalization) of how it could be remedied.

    1) How attack speed debuffs are spread: DK: with blood plague (via pestilence, outbreak, w/e). War: Thunderclap (no talent required), Pally: Hammer of the Righteous. Bear: Mangle/Maul. The problem: We can spread to 2 most of the time (3 while zerking), and more eventually. Each of the others can get to ALL targets in 1 to 2 clicks. Keeping that debuff up on an add pack is trivial for all except us. Why is it a problem: tanking add packs we seem to take a bit more dmg than the others. Our armor helps a goodly amount here, but how our mastery works seems to hurt a little.

    Suggestion: I don’t think it would be OP to apply Infected Wounds on all targets of a Thrash, at least not from the attack speed debuff side. The fact that it snares as well….arguably would make this OP. I would question whether it was more OP than Avenger Shield+Hammer of the Righteous though. I wouldn’t mind if they split the snare and the attack speed debuff apart if they had to.

    2) So much of the Utility that people site about bears and hold over our heads on why we shouldn’t get X-Y-Z is stuff that requires us to shift out of bear form into caster form. I believe its horribly unfair to hold this stuff against us when we pay the huge penalties if we use them.
    a) we lose all vengeance stacks
    b) We lose all rage
    c) we can’t do this while tanking (which should be most of the time) since we lose all our armor and a lot of our life, and dodge, and….you get the picture.
    Basically, if you do this while tanking something, you’re dumb. A good bear can sneak in a brez, or the wet noodle that is Innervate on a tank swap, or when any adds they are tanking die, or some such. Its tough though. And I’m man enough to admit I’ve caused a wipe once or twice by misjudging the amount of time I thought I could spend in caster form.

    Suggestion: would it really be that OP if we could innervate from Bear? It doesn’t do much anyhow!!! Would it really be OP if we could brez while in bear? I don’t think so. Let us Innervate and B-rez in bear form. Tranq would be pushing it though. Hey, while we’re at it, could I get Thorns while in bear? Just so I don’t have to pop out, cast, and go bear again. (I have that macro’d. Nice for a little extra initial aggro on packs. Especially when you switch to caster gear in between. Mwahahaha)
    3) Feral Charge using rage instead of giving: seriously….this is legacy crap that needs to go.

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