Archive for the “Bearwall” Category

The new patch is supposed to drop Tuesday, the long awaited live release of 4.0.1.

With this patch comes the revamped Talent Trees. The modifications to existing abilities. Mastery at level 80 and beyond.

You know, all that jazz.

What doesn’t come out is new leveling, group or raid content.

Or new races.

What does this all mean for the excited Bear tank?

Talent Tree research for Bears

When you look at the new Talent Tree and try to figure out your spec, the very first thing to keep in mind is the Blizzard philosophy; nothing really matters until you reach the top level.

That was level 80. You used to be great. You coulda been a contenda. Not any more. Even though you can’t actually get to 85 yet… as far as the mechanics are concerned, that’s the new max level.

Right now, all you’re really concerned with is how to respec your Talent Tree so you can right back to tanking your group runs. Or soloing Karazhan. Or Onyxia, for that matter.

But the new Talent Tree is intended to be filled out with a moderately balanced spec after you reach 85. By the same token, you’re not expected to Bear tank group runs effectively without all your key abilities… and Thrash (the new AoE attack that adds a Bleed effect to your foes) isn’t even available until level 81. So, after December 7th. See you then?

Please, don’t get frustrated when there are Talents you’d really like that you just can’t reach. Yes, get frustrated that you can’t get Thrash until the expansion, but you still want to run ICC now. That’s just annoying. But it too will come in due time.

The point here is, you can’t get all the goodies in the Talent Tree… but with a new expansion THAT close, just over the next horizon, nobody is really going to care all that much. They’re going to be dreaming of end game raiding with new loots and challenges to overcome. As long as you’ve got the essentials, you’re going to be okay in current content. And with level 80, you CAN get the essentials.

One last word on Talent Tree concepts.

Even if you were at level 85, you still couldn’t get everything you’d really like for Bear tanking.

Thanks to Blizzard’s desire to give us tradeoffs and too many choices so there can’t be one single “cookie cutter” spec, what we’ve got is a Feral tree where, even if you’re passing on all the Kitty focused Talents, you’re still gonna have stuff you’d  love but can’t afford. Deal with it as best you can.

With so many “sidegrades” in the Tree, your judgment is going to be even more important when it comes to choosing what to take.

So, it’s not about the math… it’s about knowing what you should be looking for. 

This is the time to get back to basics. What do Bear tanks really want?

  • Survivability – the ability to take multiple damaging blows over time.  
  • Avoidance – the ability to completely avoid being hit.
  • Damage Mitigation – the ability to reduce the actual damage taken per hit by a little bit.
  • Increased Threat – grabbing the attention of enemies so they don’t eat your friends. Even when your friends look really tasty.
  • Rage Generation – the ability to build the resources needed to cast anything except Growl, Feral Faerie Fire and auto-attack.

It’s just that simple.

How did we get to the current “AoE it all down, and forget about skill” situation?

Gear has currently gotten to the point that, in 5 person runs that still give valuable Frost Emblems, Stamina, Agility, Armor value, Attack Power, Critical Strike and Hit Rating all went waaaaay beyond the Heroic balance point.

With a Tank in reasonably available gear levels, you can ignore Survivability, Avoidance, Damage Mitigation and (with Swipe and grabbing big groups of mobs) Rage Generation.

All that leaves you with is holding Threat… and boy, with all that AP and Hit and Crit, if we Swipe spam we could just about stay ahead of the DPS, who are all AoEing as well.

So, Tanks got used to charging in as fast as possible, grabbing big groups, spamming their AoEs and waiting for the DPS to burn everything down… and you walk away virtually unscathed.

Hold on tight buttercup, the road to Cataclysm is going to be a bumpy ride.

In Cataclysm, all those things you ignored in 5 mans become important again.

Raiders, especially raiders of hard mode challenges, will rejoice that skill will return to pre-eminent importance.

But… not just yet.

Not until the new content, new leveling, new raids.

For now… we will still be facing the same content, BUT… there will no longer be Defense Rating on Plate tanky gear.

We still have our own Talent that makes us uncrittable, it’s just changed it’s name from Survival of the Fittest to being rolled into Thick Hide. Thick Hide is now the first “big” core Bear tank Talent.

All the other tank classes now have their own version of that… and no longer need Defense Rating. In fact, all that Defense Rating will vanish, to be replaced with other stats.

But we’ll stay the same.

Think about that. We will effectively have the same gear as before, stat allocations should continue mostly unchanged for us. But all the other tank classes will suddenly have a Talent taking care of that Defense Rating… and their gear will have either more Stamina or more DPS grade stats which will add more Threat to their output.

Plus, we get a high rage cost Swipe with a 6 second cooldown, and no Thrash.

I am NOT saying it’s all doom and gloom. We’re still going to be OP and uber compared to current content.

What I’m doing is reinforcing my earlier point… we are no longer at the max level. We no longer will have our balanced end game abilities and talents. We MUST adapt and overcome.

When you look at your skills and Talents, try and flush your preconceived ideas of running in 5 mans or being OP as a tank. When the new content DOES come, you will be hit like a freight train wants your lunch money. You will not have insanely ridiculous AoE Threat generation on everything.

You must get back to the basics. Survivability, Avoidance, Damage Mitigation, Threat and Rage.

So. That is far and away enough preamble. The Talent Tree.

When we choose the Feral Tree, we gain Mangle at level 10 instantly rather than having to pay for it. So we get a nice instant cast attack that does reasonable single target threat, and also applies a debuff to the target that makes Bleeds do more damage… a debuff that now lasts 60 seconds.

Any player leveling a Bear tank under level 51 should be very happy with this development.

Plus, you can get a free, no Rage-cost Mangle sometimes when you Lacerate a target that has your Mangle’s Bleed debuff on it. Just saying, that’s kinda cool, right? Oh wait, Omen of Clarity go bye-bye for us. Well, so we keep the effect, sorta, while losing the Talent. Fine. We can work with it. :)

Second, at level 10 we will get Vengeance. Vengeance is the new Tank ability that gives you increased Attack Popwer based on the damage you take. Each whack you take gives you an individual AP buff that lasts 10 seconds… they do stack cumulatively, but after 10 seconds, the first whack a mole buff you got drops off. So, you get hit – hit – hit… you get buff – double buff – triple buff… and then first one drops after ten seconds and you go back down to double buff… and then the second one drops and you go down to just the third buff all by itself.

Get it? I knew you did. And it should be quite nice… for the first ten seconds of a fight, we’ll build up our AP bonus… then we’ll stay level until the fight is over, new damage adding buffs to replace the ones that drop off. Then it’ll all be gone 10 seconds after the fight’s over. Seems pretty reasonable to me… knowing, as I do, that in the new content it’s gonna take longer to complete each pull, so 10 second duration should be pretty well balanced.

Finally, you SHOULD have the ability to learn Mastery from the trainer at level 80, and get a 32% increase to the amount of damage absorbed by Savage Defense. We won’t have gear with Mastery (unless it comes with the stat overhaul), but it’s still very useful at it’s baseline. And it’s also another reason we will continue to love Critical Strikes.

Remember that list up above. Critical Strikes trigger Savage Defense (our one hit bubble shield), and the more Crits, the more bubbles. More bubbles means more mitigation, so go go Crit Bear!

Now, Savage Defense is seeing some big changes, too. It’s not a guaranteed 100% bubble on a crit. It’s down to 50% chance on a crit. But it DOES absorb more damage. A lot more. Lots and lots more!

The model for Cataclysm, in terms of tanking in general, is to have high health, lower than customary avoidance, and focus on Mitigation. Dealing with a steady stream of damage, rather than spiky hits. Healers will be dealing less with twitch reflexes on instant saves against two big spikes in a row, and more on managing mana over longer duration fights against steady streams of damage.

Mastery with Savage Defender isn’t just another ability, it’s a clue as to the overall change in the tanking paradigm; steady, not spiky.

Yes, we still want Agility, for both Dodge and Crits. The balance has definitely swung towards heavier weighting for Stamina Stacking, though.

Okay, so my recommendations and review of the Feral Talent Tree (for Bears).

The first Tier gives you three choices;

  • Feral Swiftness (0/2)
  • Furor (0/3)
  • Predatory Strikes (0/2)

If you’re leveling, I’d personally suggest starting in Feral Swiftness for your first levels, go 2/2 and then fill out Furor. Predatory Strikes is a solid Kitty Talent, and of no use for us big ol’ Bears. Dodge and moving faster as a kitty are always in demand. :)

That brings us to level 17 already, and on to the second Tier.

Tier two has four Talents to choose from, and a hard decision.

  • Infected Wounds (0/2)
  • Fury Swipes (0/3)
  • Primal Fury (0/2)
  • Feral Aggression (0/2)

Now, Fury Swipes is awesome as a Kitty, and it’s also a reasonable Threat boost as a Bear as your Critical Strike values rise. Now, how is that possible when Maul replaces a normal auto-attack?

I’ll tell you how… because Maul no longer replaces an auto-attack! It’s now an instant cast attack costing 30 Rage with a 3 second cooldown! And it’s off the GCD too, but with a cost of 30 Rage, PLEASE don’t macro it… talk about Rage starved!

This isn’t my saying Fury Swipes is great, it’s just my way of saying that your abilities no longer replace auto-attacks, so this is a steady percentage of boosted auto-attacks unaffected by Maul in Bear form.

Primal Fury is a key Bear talent, providing Rage generation as you Crit. Definitely a must-have as you level.

Infected Wounds is a delicious ability for tanks to have, seeing as it’s core function is to keep fleeing enemies in your range longer, and to slow down the rate of their attacks that do damage to you. With two of your bread and butter attacks, Mangle and Maul both applying the debuff, and with Maul still getting Glyph of Maul (even if the second target does only take half damage now) it’s a very nice Talent to consider.

Feral Aggression is the real tease, though.

You see, Feral Faerie Fire is no longer a single cast spell. It’s still free, but it can now stack up to 3 times on a target… you get Feral Faerie Fire at level 24, and it does damage based on your attack power (remember that Vengeance thingie?) and also increased Threat in Bear form. It also has a 6 second cooldown.

Feral Aggression, damn them, when fully Talented applies all three stacks to the enemey target at once… leaving you free to use it on a second target on your very next cooldown, instead of wasting it on getting a second stack on the same target.

Don’t underestimate the effectiveness of this for low level Bear tanks needing more single target Threat generating attacks on multiple mobs. This with three stacks on one cast, plus Mangle and Maul will be very nice.

For leveling, I’m going to suggest you start with 1 point in Fury Swipes, switch to 2 points to fill out Primal Fury, and then have a very hard decision that you can only answer from personal experience; which is closer to being true – you feel like you’re taking too much damage, or you feel like you’re not generating enough Threat?

If you feel particularly squishy, take Infected Wounds 2/2, and if you feel like you need more single target Threat all up front, especially on your pulls, go with Feral Aggression 2/2. But only one or the other.

Me? I took Feral Aggression. But please, go with your gut on this one. Infected Wounds also rocks!

You’re now level 27, and the third Tier is open to you.

Tier 3 consists of;

  • King of the Jungle (0/3)
  • Feral Charge (0/1)
  • Stampede (0/2)
  • Thick Hide (0/3)

Now, at this point I have to say, if you’re Bear tanking, you fill in Thick Hide. It’s a core defining tank Talent, rolling increased armor multiplier benefit and uncrittable by targets three levels higher than you all into one.

King of the Jungle may seem confusing… is it good? Is the follow up good?

Allow me to help you make your decision, by telling you that the mechanic of Enrage has changed.

Enrage used to decrease your armor by 10%. It was a slight reduction in physical damage mitigation.

Not anymore. Now, when you activate Enrage, you take a 10% increase to all damage suffered for the duration of the effect. That’s 10% more damage suffered, to the tank. You. Not just physical, all damage. And you’re a long, long way away from spell damage mitigation, my friend.

With the changes to Enrage, it’s my recommendation that you only use it while in combat if fighting scrubs. Don’t use it on tough fights. And that means don’t ever use it on tough fights at end game in Cataclysm.

It’s best use is as a pre-planned, pre-fight manuever to stand there and build up Rage, and only Feral Charging or pulling with FFF after the Enrage 10% damage debuff wears mostly off.

And if you’re not popping Enrage in combat a lot… who cares if you’ve got a damage bonus while Enraged?

Your mileage may vary… 10% is NOT a big deal while leveling, unless you love grabbing lots of mobs at once. And with the Swipe cooldown changes, that’s gonna be iffy anyway.

My personal recommendation is for Bears to skip King of the Jungle (and the follow up, Primal Madness) entirely, and take 1/1 in Feral Charge, and then 1/2 in Stampede. Stampede 1/2 increases your Melee Haste by 15% for 8 seconds after you Feral Charge. I personally use Feral Charge all the time.

Why take Feral Charge if you’re going to be getting improved Skull Bash later, with Talents to reduce it’s cooldown to 10 seconds?

First, Skull Bash costs 15 Rage. Feral Charge (Bear) is free. Second, a 15% Melee Haste at the start of your fight is a good thing to bring faster Threat generation. Marginally. :) 

Third, you do get Skull Bash at level 22, and Feral Charge is first possible at 35, but until level 43 you’re not going to be able to have that 10 second cooldown on SB. For hopping from mob to mob quick across the room to intercept wayward mobs, I do so love my Feral Charge.

If you would like to skip Feral Charge and Stampede in favor of going back and filling out either Fury Swipes or Infected Wounds… please, by all means. I will say that taking the Stampede melee haste, and going back later to fill in Fury Swipes for more auto-attacks in those initial 8 seconds might be a valid Threat boost.

But still. Tier 4.

  • Leader of the Pack (0/1)
  • Brutal Impact (0/2)
  • Nurturing Instinct (0/2)

Please, dear lord, don’t take Nurturing Instinct. Just, don’t.

I feel that Leader of the Pack is just a must have for kitty OR Bear, and with the advent of Skull Bash and it’s charging across the room spell interrupt/school lockout, I am all in favor of 2/2 in Brutal Impact.

As an aside… Feral Charge no longer interrupts… it roots. Your spell caster interrupt/school lockout is Skull Bash. Period.

That leaves us with 2 more points to spend somewhere else to advance.

You could go 2 in Infected Wounds, 2 in Fury Swipes, 1 and 1 in Feral Charge and Stampede (depending on where you went earlier), or even 1 to fill out Stampede and 1 to boost Fury Swipes, making it more effective after a Feral Charge. It’s kinda up to you.

Me, I’m going to go with 1 in Stampede to fill it out, followed by 1 in Fury Swipes at this point. I’m anticipating more of a desire at earlier levels for greater Threat and damage generation than reduced damage, at least at these levels.

This unlocks Tier 5 for us, and we’ve got a real solid selection of Bear Talents.

Tier 5 includes;

  • Primal Madness (0/2)
  • Survival Instincts (0/1)
  • Endless Carnage (0/2)
  • Natural Reaction (0/2)

Natural Reaction, available at level 49, is another Bear defining Talent. Damage Reduction, Dodge increase AND Rage generation, all in one. It’s a must have, early and often. This brings you to level 52 once it’s filled out.

We didn’t take King of the Jungle, so Primal Madness is locked out. That leaves Survival Instincts and Endless Carnage.

Survival Instincts, at this level, should definitely get your next point. SI used to be your “oh shit” button to be used with Frenzied Regeneration. SI would increase your max health by 30%, and then Frenzied Regeneration would heal you for a percentage based off of that higher health pool.

Surprise! Frenzied Regeneration has been buffed to have the 30% health pool increase built right in! It’s a new all-in-one!

Sadly, the new version of Glyph of Frenzied Regeneration takes away the self-heal aspects of it, boosting healing done TO you by 30%. Of course, you can swap Glyphs in and out once you learn them, so you can change it for solo to group play.

Getting back to Survival instincts, if it ain’t a flat 30% health pool increase, what is it?

Why, it’s a 60% damage reduction spell with a 12 second duration. 60%! Wahoo!!!!

Oh, but it’s got a 5 minute cooldown. Awwwww….. :(

Now, about Endless Carnage.

Do you want it?

Yes.

Do you want it right now if you’re leveling?

No.

Endless Carnage is mostly a kitty Talent, except for it’s affect on the new Bear ability Pulverize in Tier 6, and now is a good time to talk about Tier 6, because Endless Carnage is a big part of it.

You can’t get Pulverize until level 65. It’s a very nice attack, plus when you use it after stacking Lacerate on your target, you get increased Crit chance for 10 seconds… 18 seconds if you took your two points in Endless Carnage.

Remember what we said about Crit? More Crit equals more Rage, plus more bubbles for damage reduction. Yay! Plus, you know… more Threat, too.

If you’re leveling, though, it doesn’t do you any good to take Endless Carnage now. In fact, I’d rather recommend you fill out Fury Swipes and Infected Wounds (if you haven’t already) and then Rend and Tear as you level, and respec out of those points just enough to take… 1 more in either Fury Swipes ( to finish it) or 1/2 in Infected Wounds before going 2/2 in Endless Carnage, 3/3 in Rend and Tear, and 1 in Pulverize once you finally DO reach 65.

Blood in the Water is, of course, all kitty, all the time. Pass!

This leaves us at our final point in the Feral tree… Berserk at level 69.

So… are we done here? ARE we?

I’m afraid we are, and there’s a good reason for it when the max level is 85.

In the Restoration tree is a 2nd Tier Talent we’re really going to want for end game Bear tanking… Perseverance (3/3). When fully specced it reduces all magic damage by 6%. That’s a whole lot of spell damage reduction to always be on. Barkskin is great for the 12 seconds it’s up, but 6% is 6%.

And that means, in order to get it, we need to go 3/3 in Heart of the Wild (which is awesome), and then spend two points somewhere. Like, Natural Shapeshifter. Boo.

Then you can put 3/3 in Perseverence, and decide what to do with your last ever Talent point. Do you go with 4% increased physical Bear damage from Master Shapeshifter, or do you go back to fill out that one more point you’re dying for in Feral?

It’s up to you. There are a lot of areas that are must haves, but there are also “but that would be good too” Talents.

EDIT: I’m sorry, I’m up late, I forgot to post my “But wait, the level cap is 80 right now” modification.

Since the current level cap is 80, Perseverance is not attainable. Instead of putting those last two points in Natural Shapeshifter, I suggest you spend them in filling out Infected Wounds and Stampede instead. So, my current recommendation for a level 80 Bear tank before Cataclysm raises the level limit to 85 is;

Link to Wowhead’s Talent Calculator showing a level 80 Bear tank spec

My apologies for the original omission. Your Blog Feed must have been confusing.

This, concludes my “Where should I start when they change my Tree” review for patch 4.0.1.

I hope you see it through in style!

For more information on exactly what has changed and how tanking works for Bears in Cataclysm, I’d like to direct your attention to Dustcart’s post in the tanking forum of the WoW forums, which is far more complete and succinct than I would be. It’s a great job, and should answer all of the rest of your questions. I haven’t seen anyone else say it better, so please give it the love it deserves.

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It’s been a funny weekend, all things considered. A weekend worth a rambling, stupid, tired Bearwall.

It started out with a rather unexpected bonus, and then kinda drifted from there.

I’ve been playing on lower level characters for weeks now, having fun on the Warrior here, the Paladin there, just messing about. It’s been fun.

Along the way, the Rogue that I was leveling hit 80, and the “hey, I’m 80, I should get gear” impulse kicked in, starting a frenzy of Heroics.

That started a cascade effect.

Running on the Rogue just reminded me of the good times on my Hunter, who had never quite finished getting geared from Heroics.

Running Heroics on my Hunter just reminded me of the good times on my Paladin, who REALLY had crap gear on his Ret spec. Most of his early emblems went to tanky stuff. Blech.

Once on my Paladin, I was reminded that, hey, I like my Druid too.

That began a weekend long process of flipping back and forth between the two in Heroics.

That brings us to this last Friday.

I hopped on my Druid to tank a quick one, and what should I get but Heroic Pit of Saron, immediately followed by the Battered Hilt dropping, and my winning the roll.

Hurm, as Rorshach might monotone.

What to do, what to do.

The Battered Hilt sells for around 7500g on my server at the moment, so it’s 7500g sitting there… but, I don’t care about gold. If I need it, I sell some of the tons of mats my various crafters collect. Never really had a problem with gold yet. Sure, I can’t just buy a Tundra Mammoth out of pocket, and I don’t have a motorcycle, but that’s okay. If I really wanted either THAT bad, I’d have gotten it already.

I was going to get a motorcycle for my Engineering Hunter, but she won the roll on a VOA Mammoth a long, long time ago, a nice three seater model, and after that, it kinda seemed like a moot point.

Back to the Battered Hilt… if I use it, who to use it on? And what spec?

This was an actual crunch time for me, because it caused me to really think about what I enjoy doing in the game, how I felt about playing the game, and who I wanted to invest in with a big ticket item for the long term.

I thought of my Druid first, of course, but I have the Orca Hunter’s Harpoon on him, and I really like the way it looks. From a pure graphics standpoint, it’s the awesmome. I don’t like what the weapons Feral Druids get from the Battered Hilt look like, despite how awesome all that Expertise is.

But, but… the weapon would have been better! Yeah, but this was the first realisation to come out of my thinking… I really, no I mean really, don’t care about stats beyond Heroics at this point. Faced with the guaranteed big time tasty weapon for someone, I decided against stats…

And went with looks.

My Ret Paladin has the big honking axe from Heroic Pit of Saron. It’s a good axe. Thing is… I don’t like the looks of the axe.

The Tyrannical Beheader is one bitchin’ looking weapon… but meh. My Paladin is SO over axes this season.

But do I really like my Paladin enough to replace a perfectly good, powerful two handed glowey axe with a two handed sword valued at 7500 gold, no matter how smokin’ hawt?

I thought about it a long time, and realized… yes, I guess I do. It’s only money, and screw stats.

Plus, hey, I’ve heard thats a real fun quest chain. That’s a bigger draw than whatever weapon I eventually get.

The second thing I internalized is, I like my Druid for Tanking and Healing. I like my Hunter for ranged DPS. And I like my Paladin for in-your-face melee DPS.

Any other character I play is, inevitably, going to end up being a good time leveling, before being dumped on the trash heap of MMO history.

Oh yeah, and being a Profession bot.

I did the entire Battered Hilt quest chain, and when I finished I had a massive two-handed Quel’Delar with Berserking enchanted on it courtesy of a rather melancholy player. :)

I was, initially, quite pleased.

I was so pleased, so heady with that ‘new gear’ smell, that I dropped the 8 Primordial Saronite I’d been stockpiling to someday craft my Druid a pair of pants to cover my big bear butt, and instead had a pair of stainless steel britches forged instead.

They chafe in places that I shall not mention.

It was quite nice to sit and enjoy the feeling of having significant gear upgrades on a character I used to like to play.

Alas, like any other toy, there’s only so much fun to be had looking at it sitting on the shelf.

I decided to take that new gear out on the road for a spin, see what it could do. Open it up, feel the wind through my fur… um, hair, and glory in ridiculously oversized male compensation, er, I mean brandish my big honking sword, a mighty weapon that requires two hands to lift, no, no, that’s not much better, perhaps I shall leave that line of descriptive narrative, hmmm?

It was at that moment in time when the weekend kinda went downhill. At least it started on a high note.

Now, I’m not going to let this just degenerate into pissing and moaning.

I did some runs using LFD, queuing mostly as melee DPS, and gee whiz, it took a while to get groups.

I’m sure you never expected that.

When I did get groups, there was a pretty even mix of groups that failed due to people way undergeared and not playing well, or people way overgeared and not playing well, and the asshattishness such things see as a result.

When there were no problems, when the runs would go smoothly, which I’d say realistically were about 40% of the time, the accompanying silence and curtness would remind me of playing Unreal Tournament Onslaught in bot mode. Fun group play, but you feel like you’re the only actual person in a field of automatons.

There were about a solid 10% of runs that had friendly people, people who met adversity in some way, rose above it, and became groups that were fun to be a part of, if for no other reason than it was nice to know that for once I was playing with people that seemed friendly and mature.

But the worst of the runs… they do stand out, don’t they? They stand out for what they tell us about ourselves, and what we choose to do.

I’ll grab one example out of the grab bag, because as a proponent of Feral Druid Tanks, this guy just pissed me off.

I happened to pop on my Druid to heal one, since I’ve mostly forgotten what healing is like.

I got a random Heroic Gundrak with a Feral Druid tank. The Feral Druid had over 6k GS, and by the time we were done with the snake boss and hitting the Elemental Boss trash, I had begun to realize that this tank, by my standards, just sucked. Bad.

Why? Because either from lack of skill or lack of give a shit, he wasn’t bothering to actually play as a tank.

First example? I spent most of the first boss with 4+ snakes on me because he went after the boss rather than clear the trash first.

Apparently, holding aggro is for lesser geared tanks that actually give a shit. I spent the entire short time healing myself and everyone else while the other DPS shot things off of me, bless them. The tank, of course, was busy being a 6k GS rockstar out front.

All the snake adds that came in after the boss aggroed? On me as well. 

Really? Just, really?

So yeah, I’m thinking to myself, self, what are the chances that this guy just happened to get so many prime pieces of feral tanking loot in high end raids that he’s an (actually 6.1k GS) rockstar, but he doesn’t know how to tank his raid groups? What are the odds he’s really normally kitty DPS and just stupid at tanking?

Maybe 50/50, I guess.

Either way, he sucks, and it’s irritating.

But here is realization #3; the runs I have with people possessing a gearscore of over 4800 are far worse than those with people in 4000 to 4400. They are more painful, there are more deaths, there is a lot more bitchiness and general pissyness, and people display a complete and utter lack of skill at the most amazing times.

Cassie, having long ago decided the same thing, tells me that I need to start queueing with my weapons and shoulders unequipped, cutting down on my apparent gearscore, so I’ll have a better chance at running with lower ranked players.

Why is that? Because she thinks, and I’m starting to agree, that one of the biggest irritants we see is that people with high raiding gearscores are arrogant, think they are ‘the shit’, feel like they are too good for Heroics with ‘the scum’, and yet do it to get their two Frost emblems each day anyway.

So, they’re slumming, resentful of it, and phone it in, playing with their heads up their ass, and frankly sucking at it. Gear does not equal skill, and I have seen countless 4400 GS tanks do a mind-blowingly superior job tanking compared to the 5.5k GS idiots I see more often.

I agree with her… I’d rather play with people that are still cautious and trying to play with skill because they think their gear sucks and are trying their best so as to, ugh, not offend the high gearscores that are deigning to carry them.

You think I’m kidding?

Let me finish talking about that one Gundrak example.

We are just hitting the trash in the room outside boss numero two, the purple goo elemental that inhabits the stone statue, when our masterful Feral Druid tank decides, after a run of dead silence, that he has wisdom he’d like to share with the class.

Specifically, he starts talking shit about the Warlock in the group. Just, out of nowhere.

First, he announces, “Mr Warlock. Stop using Rain of Fire. It sucks. Only Seed of Corruption.”

Now, before anyone has a chance to respond to these words of Heroic Gundrak wisdom, while still sucking as a tank and I’m healing everyone frantically while the Death Knight is pulling one of the mobs the tank ignored off of me, he continues, with the flat announcement “crap DPS pisses me off.”

What, crap DPS pisses him off? Well, eating mobs in my branches pisses me off, bad tanking pisses me off, bad FERAL DRUID tanking freaking enrages me, and I’m not pissing and moaning about it in group, now am I?

And then, right on the heels of that stunning bit of personal sharing, he announces that “I’m sick of playing with crap DPS.”

Now, I’m pretty confused. I hadn’t noticed anything wrong with  the run so far except really crappy tanking, to be honest. Stuff is dying mighty fast, ain’t that what DPS is supposed to do? They’re even grabbing the mobs off me that the tank is ignoring, I’d rate them as a bunch of fine chaps, they’re all right in my book.

I glance at the DPS Meter, maybe there is someone that ain’t pulling their weight.

I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt on that one, since I had JUST been in a Heroic Halls of Reflection where a Warrior gleefully announced he was still leveling his weapon skill… he was at 320 at the time. During most of that HHoR run, the warrior averaged 352 DPS, so yeah… I could understand a little aggravation if we had another one of those types of situations.

Oh, that HHoR run? Nervous Tank with 4400 GS, Healer with about the same, my Paladin, a Mage and the aforementioned Warrior… it was one of the smoothest HHoR runs I’ve ever been on, thank you very much. Not a single 5k+ GS to be seen (except me), and yet us poor little peons managed to do JUST fine… unlike the runs in HHoR I had later in the weekend with the 5500 GS tank and healer combo that couldn’t make it past the first boss.

That’s not evidence of anything, by the way, unless you want to think of it as my experiences in reinforcing why I increasingly don’t want to play with strangers in Heroics with really high gear.

now, after that build up, where do you think that Warlock came out on the DPS meters?

He was indeed at the bottom, with a measly 3000 DPS.

You know and I know that 3000 DPS isn’t exactly rocking the ICC hard mode charts, right?

But this isn’t ICC. This is Heroic Gundrak. Heroic GUNDRAK.

It’s not even ToC, FoS, PoS or HoR. The four instances where gear over iLevel 200 drop.

It’s Heroic Gundrak.

I don’t care how you measure it, 3k DPS as the lowest on the chart doesn’t suck.

A couple of the other players, not even the Warlock, talk for the first time in the run, one saying that he wouldn’t exactly call 3000 DPS “crap”, and the other saying “asking a Warlock not to use Rain of Fire is like asking a Hunter not to use Volley, lol” which I thought was pretty damn funny. 

I was initially busy, because you know… getting eaten and having to heal frantically and all.

But I find the manual dexterity to chime in with, “The only problem I’ve seen so far is you aren’t bothering to tank, unless I’m supposed to be tanking all these mobs as part of your master plan.”

The tank, without a further word, runs forward, pulls the boss, hits it once and drops group.

Well, that’s show us, won’t it! That certainly put us in our place.

Without a break in stride, the Death Knight went all out while the Warlock sicced his pet on the boss, we easily killed the thing, and there were no deaths, thank you very much.

Then we requeue for a tank, and laugh at his idiot fail butt. He couldn’t even handle a proper seeing to!

We wait for about 30 seconds before I say “I can switch to my tank spec”, at the same time as the Death Knight says HE can switch to tank… and we get a new tank anyway.

30 whole seconds.

We get a measly 5500 GS tank, who lols at us for wiping, and when we explain the tank abandoned us in mid pull, he kinda metaphorically shrugged his shoulders, hitched his suspenders and away we went.

The rest of the run went smooth as silk, and hey, nobody said anything the rest of the run. We even ran the extra boss, which is nearly unheard of.

That’s just one example of the kind of thing that’s been eating away at the back of my brain, making me nibble around the edges of realization #4.

It’s not yet a full blown realization, it’s still a burning question. 

Why?

No, really, why do I continue to play this game?

I don’t like other people’s snotty little kids. I just don’t.

I don’t put up with that kind of bullshit in person, so why should I put up with it on the internet? Serious business? Oh, please. Cry more? Yeah, keep talking that brave internet talk.

I keep telling myself that the number of really nice, mature people that play the game are the silent majority, and the asshats just seem more prevalent because they make SURE they make their presence felt.

It’s always a comforting thought to hold dear. Sure, this guy may be an assclown, but most folks in the game are nice, pleasant, mature folks it’d be a pleasure to quaff Guinness with.

But, is that true?

Are most people in the game nice? Or pleasant? Or mature?

Over the weekend, I ran into two players in a run, both from a guild called something similar to “Sofa king reh todd edd”. That one stands out in my mind as almost demanding a bitchslap, but it’s certainly not an isolated incident.

Others I know told me of similar naming delights they experienced in their pugs, but fortunately my memory has blocked it out.

There is something I’ve long held to be true, and I’m starting to wonder how it applies in an MMO.

“You can’t depend on anyone else to make you happy. In a relationship, in life, in a game, whatever, only you can make you happy. Other people can try and bring you up or down, but whether or not you’re happy all comes down to you.”

I get cranky at times, and take a shot at an asshat or two, or wonder at the idiocy I see around me, but when it comes to having fun in the game, I’ve never had a problem finding the fun. If I’m not having fun at the moment… I move my butt until I’m back in the fun. I don’t expect the game to do it for me, to present me with a covered platter, under which there shall be found ‘teh fun’. Nope, if I ain’t having fun, I go looking for it.

I don’t expect other people in the game to make me happy, or be my good time. I expect to have to seek out things that I find fun, and my good mood has to come from my own point of view.

Realization #4 is that I really have to re-examine what I want out of the game, and how I spend my time… because more and more, max level activities with strangers, any strangers, are just NOT it. 

And from that realization comes some corollaries.

For example, if I ain’t gonna play at max level anymore, why bother getting upgrades for level 80 play in the first place?

I have been riding that edge already, spending every Emblem on my toons to get Heirloom gear to make leveling new alts a smooth experience.

But aside from a kick ass weapon… do I really need Heirlooms? What’s the rush to get to 80? All I’ll be doing is putting another character on the shelf and starting another one.

I still really enjoy leveling new character classes, building new adventures around a new persona. That’s still a lot of fun, and nobody talks about how they raped someone else in PvP when you’re soloing in Barrens with all the chat channels turned off.

What I’m thinking, is maybe I should restart on another server entirely, much like Elystia did.

Just pull up stakes, start somewhere new, and if I want to help a poor low level alt out, I can make a Death Knight to go do some quests in Outlands, pull in a few gold.

Make a new character, go out without Heirlooms, and see the World of a different server.

And before I take that first step… shut off every global chat channel in the game. Make it the equivalent of the biggest single player game filled with random bots ever seen.

I’m getting burnt out. Burnt out on playing a game where the misfits are starting to outnumber the people I’d like to hoist a few with.

It’s too bad that Quel’Delar can’t be Bind on Account, and scale in power like an Heirloom.

In fact, it’s too bad all the Legendaries don’t do that. That would make them oh so glorious to have, a true joy to play with rqather than an epeen bragging right on your trophy room wall? If your Legendary scaled and was Bind on Account? That would be just too cool to see on a level 1 in the Exodar.

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A word or two about Spider-Man, if you’ll indulge me.

Okay, I’m kidding. It’s a bearwall.

This one is so offtopic it’s off the map. Or is that off the chain? I get those two confused, I’m old.

A recent Gutters comic (god I love that webcomic) captured how I felt about the entire Joe Quesada “Brand New Day” Spider-Man retcon… well, perfectly.

Look, I think Joe Quesada has done a lot of positive things for the Marvel line-up. I really do.

I love the entire Ultimates concept that he supported, for example. 

And if we take a look at what actually happened to the mainstream Spider-Man comics, it wasn’t all bad ideas.

For one thing, there were just too damn many Spider-Man monthlies with similar titles, different numbering schemes, and crossover storylines that you had to hop from series to series to try and piece together.

Blech. It’s stupid. If you’re gonna tell a serialized story, put all the pieces of the story under one title, OR do it rarely and then clearly label those seperate issues that are part of the crossover.

I’m gonna have a very limited amount of patience with trying to decide if an issue is a tie in from another series in the middle of a story arc if you’re not gonna clue me in on the cover. And no, I’m not just going to buy everything you ever publish in the hopes that THAT way I’ll get the whole story. Umm, /facepalm.

Now, if you’re in the comics industry, and all you do is think about and follow the comics industry, then I bet you’ve got no trouble whatsoever keeping it all straight. After all, it’s what you do. You read everything done by everybody, and follow it all, and read the authors blogs, and developer diaries, and whatsis.

If the people who do that are your intended demographic… well, okay, then I should shut up ’cause I ain’t who you’re marketing for.

But if, by some chance, you do hope to catch the marketshare of the ‘people who like to read comics along with other stuff’, well, I gots better stuff to be doing with my time than keep track of your entire publication lineup. No, I don’t follow the trades catalog to see if you’ve got a special one shot coming up that will have a critical part of the story from your normal series that I’ll miss otherwise.

NO, I will not pick up a comic purchase story arc card from the comic shop so I can plan wwhich issues come out which month so i don’t miss them (are you f’ing kidding me with this? I’m looking at you, World War Hulk).

Just saying.

No, wait, I can’t let that go. Seriously, LOOK AT THE CHECKLIST THEY GAVE OUT!!!!

That’s just asinine. Joe, I want to bitchslap you so hard your ancestors will be put off sex, that’s what I want to do.

Anyway, Spider-Man and multiple series simultaneously.

Joe Quesada, perhaps bowing to sales figure reality, collapsed all the various Spidey titles under one umbrella… and then made it a triple a month release.

Hey, that should’ve been done years ago. One series to follow, and you bring it out more often per month to catch the sales interest in that character. Good job. Even *I* can follow one series. At least, until you do one story arc across a bazillion other titles.

No, I’m not going to even try to pretend that Joe Quesada is some kind of evil, smelly demon-man. Nah. He’s done a lot I can agree with.

I’ll bring up that Ultimates thing again. Umm, Joe, thanks for helping bring about the single greatest pleasure I have had in comics as an adult… seeing a brilliant re-invention of my favorite comics lines, from the ground up, done by adults.

I know the Ultimates brands are referred to as marketed to the teen audience, but I beg to differ. I prefer to think they were targeted, in terms of story, towards people that like tight stories.

Brian Michael Bendis’ Spider-Man run is my favorite, by far, but a real close second is the Fantastic Four relaunch. I really loved the entire Cosmic Cube storyline, from seeds planted early to eventual conclusion.

Yes, I know that a ton of pop culture is embedded in them… hey, that’s one of the things I like about them. I can identify and relate. Spider-Man interrupting a film being shot in New York about him? His fight action getting recorded and included in the film… and since he can’t reveal his identity, his not making a dime on it? Oh, that was hilarious.

I won’t pretend to like or enjoy the Ultimatum Wave ending, it felt pretty half-assed compared to other aspects of the overall Ultimates storylines, but hey… At least Ultimate Spider-Man is still continuing on.

But let me get back to that Gutters comic, and Joe Quesada’s continuity retcon.

I really liked J. Michael Straczinski’s run on Spider-Man. I did. He brought a ton of great concepts and built them very well.

And then, and pardon me if I still choke a little, Joe Quesada kicked all us fans right in the nutsack.

Peter Parker, after decades of us growing up right alongside the smartassed, wisecracking little nerd trying his best to fight the good fight, the kid with all heart and no quit, married the woman of his dreams. A real marriage, hard times, problems, stress, and working through it. He decided to try and do more with his life than swing around looking for muggings to interrupt; he got a job teaching a class in a school. Just a regular class, trying to make a difference, a difference we could relate to, a damn hard task for anyone, making a difference in the lives of some real kids who need a mentor and understanding teacher more than they do a guy in spandex.

I for one grew up reading Spider-Man comics.

I wasn’t some idiot who tried to be Spider-Man when he grew up, but I could definitely relate to the underdog aspect, the trying your damndest and never giving up aspect of it.

Okay, so i also loved that he was a smartass. To EVERYONE.

Who else do you know that will be a smartass to Galactus? Yeah, ahuh.

People talk about inspirations and examples for our formative years. The importance of having something to look up to, someone to admire.

And then, for the most part, we’re told to look at politicians and sports athletes and rock stars and movie stars to seek that inspiration.

Umm, no. Athletes pretty much equals a desire to take any perfomance enhancing drug if they think they can get away with it, drunken wild orgies on boats on lakes in Minnesota, driving over policewomen in downtown Minneapolis, and flying personal jets to training camp after the actual ‘training’ part is over, blowing off practice because you’re apparently too good to need any of that teamwork building crap, and making me applaud one brave announcer who proclaimed “The Ego Has Landed” when Farve touched down.

Wait, what was I saying?

And politicians? If you use a politician as your role model, well, jeez. Anyone aspiring to be a politician when they grow up might as well just be a bank robber – it’s a less dishonest way of making a living. At least you’re stealing it all at once without pretension to a higher calling of public service.

Rock Stars? Umm… okay, I’m not gonna go there. And movie stars? Man, give me a target that takes at least SOME effort.

But you open up a comic book, and what do you have?

You have an attempt to depict, for the most part, people trying to do the right thing… and exploring what that means. Whether they be aliens from another planet, or normal people overcoming great personal tragedy, or anything in between, one of the most prevalent recurring themes in comics is struggling to do the right thing… even struggling to understand what the right thing even is.

It goes way beyond “with great power comes great responsibility”. Many modern storylines take serious looks at what it might be like if someone with godlike power but flawed concepts of morality or ethics tried to impose their will on various cultures.

One of my favorites was the recent Black Summer by Warren Ellis, who writes some damn fine pieces of speculative fiction hiding behind pretty pictures.

Getting back to Joe Quasada’s gutting of Spider-Man.

The Spider-Man had it. His life was hard, it wasn’t glamorous, it wasn’t even fun most days. It was frequently bleak, long hours of dedicated back breaking work, trying to do the right thing.

But he had the most wonderful, vibrant marriage to the woman he loved above all else in his life. That, and knowing in his heart that he was doing his best to actually make a difference, in costume and in normal life. that, and the struggle, was enough.

And Joe Quesada not only broke up Pete’s marriage and dumped Peter back into the Daily Planet, but he also decided in his massive retcon that all of that grown up crap NEVER EVEN HAPPENED ANYMORE.

It didn’t exist. No marriage. He didn’t even get along on speaking terms with MJ. Just, slam! Didn’t like that, did ya Joe? It’s more fun to have a single, angsty, dating problems Spider-Man with crap tossed in his direction by old tired super-villains, and teaching? What, teaching kids in school? SPIDER-MAN? Hell, who can relate to THAT? Nah, make good old Peter a struggling kid out to make a buck taking photos, and hiding his secret from Aunty May.

That… that was a galactic level kick in the nuts.

Why?

Because, there are SO DAMN FEW GOOD EXAMPLES OF A NORMAL LIFE in the media!

I actually, mentally just did a Jesse Ventura “meee deee ahhh” there in my head. I knew I should have stopped for beer on the way home tonight.

Take a good, long look at comics, or television, or really any other form of media.

Just how many examples of a strong relationship that weathers any storm do you SEE out there?

Look, emotional turmoil makes for spicy drama, so I know, I KNOW that for a quick and cheap dramatic turn by a lazy writer, you build up a quicky relationship JUST so you have something to tear down later. 

But it’s everywhere. That kind of writing, that relationship foundation is the norm out there. That is the most prevalent example you’ll ever see… nobody, but nobody has a stable relationship for long. They all fall apart eventually.

How many incidents of true love, true enduring ‘can’t touch this’ love can you name in comics or television media?

Relationships that lasted, and grew, and no matter what bullshit went on around them, just stayed strong because no matter what else, the two people loved each other and trusted each other, and no lazy writer came along and decided to shatter that trust by writing in a bullshit cheating or lying or deceiving moment?

Now… of those loves… how many were ended by the death of one or the other to provide some good old fashioned grief or revenge?

Don’t you think that such a relationship, depicted in fiction, and left alone to just keep going is a rare enough thing that it makes for an interesting story concept on it’s own?

Ahh, but it’s almost never done… so, for lazy writers, you’ve got to actually WORK to keep it interesting, don’t you? Nothing much to copy out there, is there?

But there was one. call it what you will, Peter and MJ finally had a strong, enduring relationship and marriage together.

And along came Joe Quesada, who saw nothing worth saving, nothing of value, in the enduring love of Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson. Just tear it down, that stuff doesn’t make for gripping drama.

Hey Joe? Yeah, for that, and that alone, kiss my ass.

You know what I thought when I read that issue? The One More Day/Brand New Day arc?

I thought of the death of one other enduring, unbreakable love that really pissed me off.

I would be talking about the Willow Rosenberg/Tara Maclay relationship from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Now, episode after episode, once it got going, that was true, unshakeable love. It was hard at times, there were issues, there was some shaky writing in there, and there were moments of real high drama. But the drama was in our expectations… the episode where Tara’s got a group of, umm, ‘people’ who come to try and bring her back to their, umm, ‘home’ with them, in particular, was one of the most intensely worrying ones, because it really looked like there was an intentional storyarc building to show that Tara’s love and trust was a deception after all. The drama from that one came from the way you just can’t trust a storywriter to NOT write in a bullshit twist to cause a TV relationship to fall apart.

But no, that was a romance and a relationship that made me cheer what I hoped was a new age in TV writing. Writers daring to show a strong, trusting relationship that didn’t get betrayed by one damn thing or another, or by some stupid misunderstanding that could have been worked through if there was actual trust between the two. Damnit, I would have loved to have seen those two get married on top of a sealed Hellmouth as the series ending.

I’m not going to belabor the way that relationship ended. Aside from noting that, and I am not exaggerating, that moment, that exact moment when the relationship died in the backyard of their house stands out as one of the few moments in my life where I was truly pissed off and livid at a television show.

I mean, ‘choke the living shit out of the writer if he was in front of me’ livid.

But, that’s where they took it, and I guess a lot of people agreed it was a good direction to take the story, so whatever.

I’ve got a big middle finger for how they did it because i wanted it to keep going… but then again, if they started by wanting to get to ‘Dark Willow”, and were trying to find a way to do it, I’d rather they did what they did than that they cause some form of deception or failure of trust or messy bullshit breakup be the reason.

IF they really wanted to get to Dark Willow and were looking for a way while still treating their relationship with repsect, that is. And that’s what I think happened there. They wanted to get to a Dark Willow story arc, and wanted to find a way to do it while treating Willow’s relationship with Tara with respect.

Joe Quesada, from what I saw while reading those comics, simply wanted to destroy the marriage. He didn’t treat it with any respect, he treated it as something to shitcan for expedience in the name of a series reboot and as an attempt to boost sales.

Seriously, I honestly think that if I want to see a long lasting, enduring romantic relationship that withstands the test of time, two people that never lose faith in each other come what may, I’m going to have to write it myself.

Ahem… one shot movies like the Princess Bride, and Romeo and Juliet, don’t count. And R & J [spoiler] both die at the end, which cuts down on the recurring episode market for that one.

You know, even the most powerful on-screen recurring relationship I can think of, Beauty and the Beast, couldn’t maintain it without destroying it eventually in the name of ratings.

You’d think they could, considering the structure of the show… and if you stop watching after season two, and DO NOT WATCH season three, you can retain your blissful ignorance of any eventual tragedy, and prefer to believe, like I do, that Catherine and Vincent remain forever in love, sharing their lives in the Tunnels Below with their family.

Ahh, I miss that show, damnit.

Anyway, in the name of shining examples of actual, enduring love and trust and mutual respect, Joe Quesada, this middle finger’s for you!

Comments 15 Comments »

I got a nice short email earlier today, in response to the “The Return of AnnCoulter” post.

I expected some responses, after all, politics is serious business. It really is, and emotions related to politics run very deep.

I’m certainly not going to be surprised about getting some kind of flaming arrow of indignation fired my way.

Good lord, the country I live in is damn near split down the middle, politically, so why would I think the readers of my blog all think like I do on anything?

Hell, I’d be SCARED if all of you shared my opinions on everything, because I’m freaking insane. You’re my therapy, so if you’ve got MY back, who the hell has YOURS?!?

I get this email, and I was bored this afternoon over my lunch hour, so what the heck. It’s apparently that time again, it’s been a few years since I did one of these posts, so I guess we’ll do it up right.

From: E=Mc

I don’t appreciate political bashing in with my wow fun.

Take care and have fun.

That’s it. That’s the email I got, in reply to the feedreader emailed “Return of AnnCoulter” post.

Simple, right? No swearing, no offensive language at all, spelling and grammar are correct. On the surface, it appears to be a nice, simple, intelligent email. These are usually considered telling points in an email, lending greater weight to someone’s opinion.

Unfortunately, where it fails is in maturity and sense.

Let’s say you are reading things on the internet, you’re browsing, surfing the web. Following links, reading blog posts in various places, WoW.com articles, whatever.

Along the way, you may encounter something you really like, and think that it would be nice to subscribe to their mailing list or to their blog feed, in the hopes that you’ll get to see similarly enjoyable writing delivered conveniently right into your mailbox in the future.

Suddenly, you do get another post by the same author delivered into your email box or in your feedreader, and this one shocks you. The author didn’t write another article on a topic similar to the last one. This time, he wrote about a subject you take very seriously, and in addition, you don’t like his attitude about it. You’re offended by this idiot. Hey, he may write the funny okay once in a while, but what the heck makes him think you care what he actually thinks about anything else? You thought you were signing up for one thing, and here you are getting something else entirely. This will not do.

So, what do you do then?

A mature individual may do many things, depending on how strong he or she feels about it. They may unsubscribe from that writer entirely, wanting to make sure they are never bothered by that kind of thing again. A total flush to prevent being further offended.

Or, the person may decide that, as irritating as that article was, the other posts were good enough, enjoyable enough, that they don’t want to miss out on any more in the future. They were irritated, but not so much that it outweighs the positives of the funny posts. So, they’ll simply “mark as read” or delete the offensive posts, and scan future posts quickly to weed them out and continue on, only reading the ones that sound interesting.

Those both seem like reasonable responses to me. People change, writing changes, and you never know when someone like me might just go off the deep end.

Why should you put up with it? With a ‘subscribe by choice’ blog, like mine, it couldn’t be easier to flush the bad articles from your life, or the blog itself. You just unsubscribe and delete any links to the website, and don’t follow any links from anyone else, and you’ll never see that blog writer again for the rest of your life.

So, all that being said, where in all that do you fit in a situation where a person decides to email the writer with a brief two sentence message like that? What end does that serve? 

I’ve given it a little thought, and while I can’t pretend to know what goes on in the mind of anyone else, I can speculate, and will.

What I would speculate is that such a person, when faced with an article that irritated them or made them unhappy, they could not simply take action of their own to protect themselves and leave it at that. No, they felt the need to take action to share their unhappiness, to spread it around.

The “If I’m not happy, why should anyone else be” mindset.

That’s just not an attitude I can respect.

I know that over time, misunderstandings can happen. Especially when people read posts about WoW and Bear tanking, and are directed here or linked here from WoW-only websites, and accordingly develop an expectation as to what the point of the blog is, what it is I do here, and what they are likely to see.

I’m going to do my best to clear the misunderstandings up.

My blog exists as a place for me to write what I want to write about, when I want to write about it, on any given day. I write whatever I may be inspired about at the moment. I write about my enthusiasms. I especially write about things that bother me. I frequently write what I think of are entertaining posts to cheer both myself up, and hopefully other people.

I do not limit myself to any particular topic. On the “About” page of my website, it says “BigBearButt offers his cranky opinions of a long time World of Warcraft casual feral druid about druid life, the WoW world, and everything.”

That last bit, where I say “everything”? That early bit, where I say “cranky”? Both of those are keywords for the content of this blog.

It’s my own personal website used as a means for my personal expression.

See, I don’t want to mislead you. If you think the blog posts wandering from topic to topic is a temporary situation, please don’t. When I do write about WoW, most often it’s from a Feral Druid Tank mindset. But I don’t limit myself to that, and if that’s the only reason why you’re here, well, you’re facing a lot of disappointment.

So, that’s the blog. That’s what you can expect in the future. Basically, the same old, same old that I’ve been doing here for years.

Now, I don’t want to be unkind. I might tend to think it’s simply an immature desire to lash out at someone that irritated them, but maybe there is an alternate reason why someone would mail me like that.

I know that there is a tendency for people to think that in any situation where they receive a service, they are a customer, and the opinions of a customer are always right and should be respected.

I know that, because of this philospohy, a lot of people feel that if they are not happy, it’s important for them to make their unhappiness known to the ‘management’. Sometimes it’s not for personal benefit, but to try and guide the management service towards better efforts in the future, or just a desire to nudge people to do what you want in the way you think they should, to mentor them when you feel they’ve gone off track.

Whatever the case, it doesn’t apply here. You are not my customers. You do not pay me money. 

Our contract, such as it is, is that I will continue to write what I want to write, and I will continue to post it publicly for anyone who wants to spend some of their time reading it.

I pledge to myself that I will do my best to stay true to myself, and to write my honest thoughts and opinions and research. 

Your end of the contract is that you read it whenever you feel like it or not, as you choose. Whether you walk away amused or irritated or bored, it’s all your decision. But if you do choose to comment, you do so in a mature way, sharing your honest thoughts and opinions, being considerate of others, and if it’s within your power, helpful in your suggestions. 

Further, and I do think this is something that is implied but may not be readily apparent, if you have really strong feelings you want to share in great detail, especially ones that are in direct contradiction of everything I ever say, then you go make your own blog and write your own posts there. You don’t just try and hijack mine every time I write anything.

You may be my friends, you may be people that have been visiting only once or have been here for years commenting frequently and becoming folks near and dear to my heart, like Dechion, Katt and Tesh, but you”re not my customers.

I pay for the website hosting, and to the best of my knowledge I’ve never asked any of you to rush out and fund my purchase of anything. I certainly don’t recall trying to push for people to buy items from the blog store so I can get some cash.

I don’t even host ads, despite a lot of emails wanting me to, so I don’t receive money from passive pagehits. I’ve always felt ads would have been unsightly.

See, I don’t do this for money, If I wanted money, hell, I’d still write for WoW.com and I’d have closed this blog a long time ago. Life isn’t all about making money. There’s nothing wrong with making money, and there’s nothing wrong about websites having banner ads.

But not being a money making enterprise leaves me ethically and morally free to say what I’m saying right now, which is that I don’t owe anyone a damn thing in what I write or how I write it. 

I write for fun, I write for myself, and I write for the amusement and enjoyment of you, my friends. I also continue to try to provide a place to share ideas and suggestions and tips for people starting out tanking, to help get their feet wet and feel confident.

When people do spend money on the blog store, I don’t even keep that. So far, it’s all gone right back into buying shirts or buttons I’ve given away to readers, either at local Meet the Bear events or through website contests.

I’ll never be a Penny Arcade making money with this stuff; it’s not what I aspire to.

I’m always happy to discuss what part of my opinion may have upset you in private, as long as you’re interested in talking about it via email, and not just in lecturing me. If you want a reasoned discussion, hey, I’m your Bear. Close your mind, and I close MY browser.

Where I simply shake my head in laughter is if you read something I wrote that you didn’t like because I wrote about a topic you don’t want to have to see on a “WoW blog”, and then you email me to tell me so.

I don’t care. Click “unsubscribe” and move on with your life, don’t bother me with your sillyness.

Am I supposed to go, “Oh my, I stepped over the bounds of a WoW blog and delved fleetingly in the deep waters of the political spectrum, and my readers have made their wishes known; henceforth, I shall restrict myself to good, wholesome WoW related blog posts so as not to offend.”

No, it doesn’t do that.

I write what I write that I really think and feel. You may love me, hate me, or say ‘meh’, but at least you know it’s me.

If I am really thinking about something a lot and being bothered by it, I’m not going to censor myself, when talking about it and getting it off my chest really does make me feel better. That’s one of the best things about having a blog; to write what I really think and get it off my chest.

I may hold myself to a personal standard in my writing, and I may do my best to hold to that standard, but I do not OWE any reader anything. I don’t answer to you, I answer to my own conscience.

In return, you do not owe ME anything. :) Ain’t I nice? This is finally one thing in your life where you know that no bill will come due.

If you don’t like what I say or how I say it, you don’t have to just endure it. Heck no. You always, ALWAYS have the power to exercise your freedom of choice and remove me from your feedreader and from your life. I’m just one more idiot in a world full of them, writing BS on a blog.

Where we have the divide, is that your freedom of choice does not include a right to attempt to inhibit or discourage my exercising of my freedom of speech and freedom of personal expression on the blog I pay to maintain.

If and when you don’t like what I say on any given day, you have the power. Just unsubscribe, and never come back. Don’t subject yourself to what you find offensive. Be a mature individual, and just close the browser to me.

Just, whatever you do, please don’t bother taking that further step to email me just to tell me you didn’t like my going off WoW topics, or talking politics or whatever. I’m not going to censure myself to make you happy, or apologize for speaking my mind here in my house.

It’s just not going to happen.

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Blizzard has released some of the new Cataclysm Talent Trees, in a “we’re still working on it” condition.

Druids are one of the fortunate few to get to see a preliminary glimpse at their tree!

Can I just say as a prelude, I anticipate people rerolling Druid JUST to have a Nom Nom Nom ability?

I know *I* would.

Sadly, there is some idea that Blizzard might not keep the name of the proposed Talent “Nom Nom Nom”. I’m almost tempted to start a petition drive to beg them to keep it. Would making the Talent icon a small picture of a cheeseburger be going too far? I think not.

Reposted from MMO Champion’s website for those without connection to them from work, here is the text version of the Druid Talent Tree. My rambled musing starts after the info.

Balance Tree

Tier 1 (Left to Right)
Starlight Wrath (5 points) – Reduces the cast time of your Wrath and Starfire spells by 0.1/0.2/0.3/0.4/0.5 seconds.
Genesis (5 points) – Increases the damage and healing done by your periodic spell damage, healing effects and Swiftmend by 1/2/3/4/5%.

Tier 2 (Left to Right)
Moonglow (3 points) – Reduces the Mana cost of your Moonfire, Starfire, Starfall, Starsurge, Wrath, Healing Touch, Nourish, Regrowth and Rejuvenation spells by 3/6/9%.
Nature’s Majesty(2 points) – Increases the critical strike chance of your Wrath, Starfire, Starfall, Nourish and Healing Touch spells by 2/4%.
Improved Moonfire (2 points) – Increases the direct damage of your Moonfire spell by 5/10%.

Tier 3 (Left to Right)
Nature’s Grace (3 points) – All non-periodic spell criticals have a 33/66/100% chance to grace you with a Blessing of Nature, increasing your spell casting speed by 20% for 3 seconds.
Solar Beam (1 point) – You summon a beam of solar light over the enemy target’s location, interrupting the enemy target and silencing all enemy targets under the beam within 10 yards while it is active. Solar Beam lasts for 12 seconds.
Celestial Focus (3 points) – Reduces the pushback suffered from damaging attacks while casting Starfire, Starsurge, Hibernate and Hurricane by 23/46/70%.
Nature’s Reach (2 points) – Increases the range of your Balance spells and Faerie Fire (Feral) ability by 10/20%, and reduces the threat generated by your Balance spells by 15/30%.

Tier 4 (Left to Right)
Nature’s Splendor (1 point) – Increases the duration of your Moonfire and Rejuvenation spells by 3 seconds, your Regrowth spell by 6 seconds, and your Insect Swarm and Lifebloom spells by 2 seconds.
Lunar Justice (3 points) – When you kill a target that yields experience or honor, a ray of moonlight will shine underneath the fallen enemy instantly restoring 2/4/6% of your base mana to you or the first ally who stands underneath it. Lunar Justice lasts for 15 seconds.

Tier 5 (Left to Right)
Brambles (3 points) – Damage from your Thorns and Entangling Roots increased by 25/50/75% and damage done by your treants increased by 5/10/15%. In addition, damage from your Treants and attacks done to you while you have Barkskin active have a 5/10/15% chance to daze the target for 3 seconds.
Starsurge (1 point) – Requires 1 point in Solar Beam – You fuse the power of the moon and sun, launching a devastating blast of energy at the target. Causes 622 to 691 Spellstorm damage to the target and knocking them down.
Vengeance (5 points) – Increases the critical strike damage bonus of your Starfire, Starfall, Moonfire, and Wrath spells by 20/40/60/80/100%.
Dreamstate (3 points) – Regenerate mana equal to 4/7/10% of your intellect every 5 seconds, even while casting.

Tier 6 (Left to Right)
Gale Winds (2 points) – Increases damage done by your Hurricane and Typhoon spells by 15/30%, and increases the range of your Cyclone spells by 2/4 yards.
Lunar Guidance (3 points) – Requires 1 point in Starsurge – Increases the radius of your Solar Beam by 2/4/6 yards, and your Starsurge also instantly generates 5/10/15 Lunar or Solar energy, depending on which is greater.
Balance of Power (2 points) – Increases your chance to hit with spells by 2/4% and increases your spell hit rating by an additional amount equal to 50/100% of your Spirit.

Tier 7 (Left to Right)
Moonkin Form (1 point) – Shapeshift into Moonkin Form. While in this form the armor contribution from items is increased by 120%, and increases the spell critical strike chance of all nearby friendly and raid targets within 100 yards by 5%. The moonkin cannot cast healing or resurrection spells while shapeshifted. The act of shapeshifting frees the caster of Polymorph and movement impairing effects.
Improved Moonkin Form (3 points) – Requires 1 point in Moonkin Form. You also grant 2/3/5% spell haste to all nearby friendly party and raid targets within 100 yards while in Moonkin Form.
Euphoria (2 points) – When you critically hit with Wrath or Starfire, you instantly gain an additional 2/4 Lunar or 4/8 Solar Energy. When you reach a Solar or Lunar eclipse, you instantly are restored 6/12% of your total mana.

Tier 8 (Left to Right)
Owlkin Frenzy (3 points) – Requires 1 point in Moonkin Form – Attacks done to you while in Moonkin form have a 5/10/15% chance to cause you to go into a Frenzy, increasing your damage by 10% and making you immune to pushback while casting Balance spells. Lasts 10 seconds.
Wrath of Cenarius (3 points) – While moving, the direct damage of your Moonfire spell is increased by 5% and its mana cost is reduced by 10% for 3 seconds. This effect can stack up to 3 times and lasts 3 seconds, but is refreshed as long as you are in movement. Your starfire spell gains an additional 8/12% and your Wrath gains an additional 4/6% of your bonus damage effects.

Tier 9 (Left to Right)
Improved Eclipse (3 points) – Increases the amount of Lunar or Solar energy generated from your Starfire and Wrath by 12%, and when critically hit by a melee or ranged attack, you will instantly generate Lunar or Solar Energy. When you critically hit with Starfire, you have a 101% chance of increasing damage done by Wrath by 0%. When you critically hit with Wrath, you have a 61% chance of increasing your critical strike chance with Starfire by 0%. Each effect lasts 15 seconds and each has a separate 30-second cooldown. Both effects cannot occur simultaneously.
Typhoon (1 point) – Requires 1 point in Moonkin Form – You summon a violent Typhoon that does 400 Nature damage when in contact with hostile targets, knocking them back and dazing them for 6 seconds.
Force of Nature (1 point) – Summons 3 treants to attack enemy targets for 30 seconds.

Tier 10 (Left to Right)
Earth and Moon (3 points) – Your Wrath and Starfire spells have a 100% chance to apply the Earth and Moon effect, which increases spell damage taken by 2/5/8% for 12 seconds. Also increases your spell damage by 2/4/6%.
Fungal Growth (2 points) – When your Treants die or your Wild Mushrooms are triggered, you spawn a Fungal Growth at its wake covering the area within 8 yards, slowing all enemy targets by 35/70%. Lasts 10 seconds.

Tier 11 (Left to Right)
Starfall (1 point) – Requires 1 point in Typhoon – You summon a flurry of stars from the sky on all targets within 30 yards of the caster, each dealing 303 to 348 Arcane damage. Maximum 20 stars. Lasts 10 seconds. Shapeshifting into animal form or mounting cancels the effect. Any effect which causes you to lose control of your character will suppress the starfall effect.

Feral Combat Tree

Tier 1 (Left to Right)
Sharpened Claws (2 points) – Increases the damage caused by your Claw, Rake, Mangle (Cat), Mangle (Bear), and Maul abilities by 10/20%.
Ferocity (5 points) – Reduces the cost of your Maul, Swipe, Claw, Rake and Mangle abilities by 1/2/3/4/5 Rage or Energy.
Feral Aggression (5 points) – Increases the attack power reduction of your Demoralizing Roar by 8/16/24/32/40% and the damage caused by your Ferocious Bite by 3/6/9/12/15%.

Tier 2 (Left to Right)
Shredding Attacks (2 points) – Reduces the energy cost of your Shred ability by 5/10 and the rage cost of your Lacerate ability by 1/2.
Feral Instinct (3 points) – Increases the damage done by your Swipe ability by 10/20/30% and reduces the chance enemies have to detect you while Prowling.
Thick Hide (3 points) – Increases your Armor contribution from cloth and leather items by 4/7/10%.

Tier 3 (Left to Right)
Feral Swiftness (2 points) – Increases your movement speed by 15/30% in Cat Form and increases your chance to dodge while in Cat Form, Bear Form and Dire Bear Form by 2/4%.
Predatory Instincts (3 points) – Increases the damage done by your melee critical strikes by 3/7/10%.
Feral Charge (1 point) – Teaches Feral Charge (Bear) and Feral Charge (Cat). Feral Charge (Bear) – Causes you to charge an enemy, immobilizing and interrupting any spell being cast for 4 seconds. This ability can be used in Bear Form and Dire Bear Form. 15-second cooldown. Feral Charge (Cat) – Causes you to leap behind an enemy, dazing them for 3 seconds. 30-second cooldown.
Improved Feral Charge (2 points) – Increases your melee haste by 15/30% after you use Feral Charge (Bear) for 8 seconds, and Ravage will temporarly not require stealth for 3/6 seconds after you use Feral Charge (Cat).

Tier 4 (Left to Right)
Nurturing Instinct (2 points) – Increases your healing spells by up to 35/70% of your agility, and increases healing done to you by 10/20% while in Cat Form.
Fury Swipes (3 points) – When you auto-attack while in Cat Form or Bear Form, you have a 4/8/12% chance to gain an extra auto-attack on the same target. This effect cannot occur more than once every 6 seconds.
Primal Fury (2 points) – Gives you a 50/100% chance to gain an additional 5 Rage anytime you get a critical strike while in Bear and Dire Bear Form, and your critical strikes from Cat Form abilities that add combo points have a 50/100% chance to add an additional combo point.

Tier 5 (Left to Right)
Brutal Impact (2 points) – Increases the stun duration of your Bash and Pounce abilities by 0.5/1 seconds, and decreases the cooldown of Bash by 5/10 seconds.
Heart of the Wild (5 points) – Increases your intellect by 4/8/12/16/20%. In addition, while in Bear or Dire Bear Form your stamina is increased by 2/4/6/8/10%, and while in Cat Form your attack power is increased by 2/4/6/8/10%.
Survival Instincts (1 point) – When activated, this ability temporarily grants you 30% of your maximum health for 20 seconds while in Bear Form, Cat Form, or Dire Bear Form. After the effect expires, the health is lost.
Predatory Strikes (2 points) – Increases the critical strike chance of your Ravage by 50/25% at or above 90% health, and your finishing moves have a 10/20% chance per combo point to make your next Nature spell with a base casting time less than 10 seconds become an instant cast spell.

Tier 6 (Left to Right)
Natural Reaction (3 points) – Increases your dodge while in Bear Form or Dire Bear Form by 2/4%, and you regenerate 1/2 rage every time you dodge while in Bear Form or Dire Bear Form.
Endless Carnage (2 points) – Increases the duration of your Rake by 3/6 seconds and your Savage Roar and Pulverize by 3/6 seconds.
Survival of the Fittest (3 points) – Reduces the chance you’ll be critically hit by melee attacks by 2/4/6%, and increases the contribution from cloth and leather items in Bear Form and Dire Bear Form by 11/22/33%.

Tier 7 (Left to Right)
King of the Jungle (3 ranks) – While using your Enrage ability in Bear Form or Dire Bear Form, your damage is increased by 5/10/15%, and your Tiger’s Fury ability also instantly restores 20/40/60 energy.
Leader of the Pack (1 point) – Requires 1 point in Heart of the Wild – While in Cat, Bear, or Dire Bear Form, Leader of the Pack increases ranged and melee critical chance of all party and raid members within 100 yards by 5%.
Improved Leader of the Pack (2 points) – Requires 1 point in Leader of the Pack – Your Leader of the Pack ability also causes affected targets to heal themselves for 2/4% of their total health when they critically hit with melee or ranged attacks. The healing effect cannot occur more than once every 6 seconds. In addition, you gain 4/8% of your maximum mana when you benefit from this heal.
Primal Tenacity (3 points) – Reduces the duration of fear effects by 10/20/30% and reduces all damage taken while stunned by 5/10/15% while in Cat Form.

Tier 8 (Left to Right)
Protector of the Pack (3 points) – Increases your attack power by 2/4/6% and reduces the damage you take by 4/8/12%, while in Bear or Dire Bear Form.
Infected Wounds (2 points) – Your Shred, Maul, Ravage and Mangle attacks cause an Infected Wound in the target. The infected Wound reduces the movement speed of the target by 25/50% and the attack speed by 10/20%. Lasts 12 seconds.

Tier 9 (Left to Right)
Primal Madness (2 points) – Tiger’s Fury and Berserk also increases your maximum energy by 6/12 during its duration, and your Enrage and Berserk abilities instantly generates 0/12 Rage.
Mangle (1 point) – Mangle the target, inflicting damage and causing the target to take additional damage from bleed effects for 1 minute. This ability can be used in Cat Form or Dire Bear form.
Improved Mangle (3 points) – Reduces the cooldown of your Mangle (Bear) ability by 0.5/1.0 seconds and reduces the energy cost of your Mangle (Cat) ability by 2/4.

Tier 10 (Left to Right)
Nom Nom Nom (2 points) – When you Ferocious Bite a target at or below 25% health, you have a 50/100% chance to instantly refresh the duration of your Rip on the target.
Rend and Tear (5 points) – Increases damage done by your Maul and Shred attacks on bleeding targets by 4/8/12/16/20%, and increases the critical strike chance of your Ferocious Bite ability on bleeding targets by 5/10%.
Pulverize (1 point) – Requires 5 points in Rend and Tear – Requires Dire Bear Form – Deals 100% weapon damage plus additional 786 damage for each of your Lacerate applications on the target, and increases your melee critical strike chance by 2% for each Lacerate application consumed for 10seconds.

Tier 11 (Left to Right)
Berserk (1 point) – When activated, this ability causes your Mangle (Bear) ability to hit up to 3 targets and have no cooldown, and reduces the energy cost of all your Cat Form abilities by 50%. Lasts 15 seconds. You cannot use Tiger’s Fury while Berserk is active. Clears the effect of Fear and makes you immune to Fear for the duration.

Restoration Tree

Tier 1 (Left to Right)
Blessing of the Grove (2 points) – Increases the healing done by your Rejuvenation by 2/4%, the direct damage of your Moonfire by 3/6% and the damage done by your Claw and Shred by 2/4%.
Nature’s Focus (3 points) – Reduces the pushback suffered from damaging attacks while casting Healing Touch, Wrath, Entangling Roots, Cyclone, Nourish, Regrowth and Tranquility by 23/46/75%.
Furor (5 points) – Gives you a 20/40/60/80/100% chance to gain 10 Rage when you shapeshift into Bear and Dire Bear Form, and you keep up to 20/40/60/80/100 of your energy when you shapeshift into Cat Form. In addition, your total intellect is increased while in Moonkin Form by 2/4/6/8/10%.

Tier 2 (Left to Right)
Perseverance (5 points) – Reduces all spell damage taken by 2/4/6/8/10%.
Subtlety (3 points) – Reduces the threat generated by your Restoration spells by 10/20/30%.
Natural Shapeshifter (3 points) – Reduces the mana cost of all shapeshifting by 10/20/30%.

Tier 3 (Left to Right)
Naturalist (5 points) – Reduces the cast time of your Healing Touch and Nourish spells by 0.1/0.2/0.3/0.4/0.5 seconds and increases the damage you deal with physical attacks in all forms by 2/4/6/8/10%.
Omen of Clarity (1 point) – Each of the druid’s damage, healing spells and auto-attacks has a chance of causing the caster to enter a Clearcasting state. The Clearcasting state reduces the mana, rage or energy cost of your next damage spell, healing spell or offensive ability by 100%.
Master Shapeshifter (2 points) – Requires 3 points in Natural Shapeshifter – Grants an effect which lasts while the druid is within the respective shapeshift form. Bear Form – Increases physical damage by 2/4%. Cat Form – Increases critical strike chance by 2/4%. Moonkin Form – Increases spell damage by 2/4%. Tree of Life Form – Increases healing by 2/4%.

Tier 4 (Left to Right)
Improved Rejuvenation (3 points) – Increases the effect of your Rejuvenation and Swiftmend spells by 5/10/15%.
Tranquil Spirit (5 points) – Reduces the mana cost of your Healing Touch, Nourish and Tranquility spells by 2/4/6/8/10%.

Tier 5 (Left to Right)
Nature’s Swiftness (1 point) – Requires 1 point in Naturalist – When activated, your next Nature spell with a base casting time less than 10 seconds becomes an instant cast spell.
Improved Tranquility (2 points) – Reduces threat caused by Tranquility by 50/100% and reduces the damage you take while channeling Tranquility by 25/50%.

Tier 6 (Left to Right)
Living Seed (3 points) – When you critically heal your target with Swiftmend, Regrowth, Nourish or Healing Touch spell you have a 33/66/100% chance to plant a Living Seed on the target for 30% of the amount healed. The Living Seed will bloom when the target is next attacked. Lasts 15 seconds.
Nature’s Bounty (5 points) – Requires 3 points in Improved Rejuvenation – Increases the critical effect chance of your Regrowth spell by 10% on targets at or below 25% health, and you have a 20% chance when you critically heal with Healing Touch and Nourish to reduce the remaining cooldown of your Swiftmend spell by 0.5 seconds. Increases the critical effect chance of your Regrowth and Nourish spells by 10/15/20/25%.
Fury of a Stormrage (3 points) – You have a 5/10/15% chance when you cast Nourish or Healing Touch to cause your next Wrath spell to be instant cast and cost no mana. Fury of Stormrage lasts for 8 seconds.

Tier 7 (Left to Right)
Swiftmend (1 point) – Requires 1 point in Nature’s Bounty [NYI] – Consumes a Rejuvenation or Regrowth effect on a friendly target to instantly heal the target for 5306.
Empowered Touch (2 points) – Your Healing Touch heals for 5% more on targets at or below 25% health, and your Nourish spell has a 50% chance to refresh the duration of your Lifebloom on targets. Your Healing Touch spell gains an additional 32%, and your Nourish spell gains an additional 16% of your bonus healing effects.

Tier 8 (Left to Right)
Efflorescence (3 points) – Requires 1 point in Living Seed – When you critically heal with your Regrowth spell you also sprout a bed of healing flora underneath the target, healing all nearby friendly targets within 15 yards who stand on them for 10/20/30% of the amount healed by your Regrowth every 1 seconds for 7 seconds. Increases your total spirit by 10/15/20/25%.
Empowered Rejuvenation (5 points) – The bonus healing effects of your heal-over-time spells and Swiftmend is increased by 4/8/12/16/20%.
Natural Perfection (3 points) – Critical strikes against you give you the Natural Perfection effect, reducing all damage taken by 2/3/4%. Stacks up to 3 times. Lasts 8 seconds.

Tier 9 (Left to Right)
Revitalize (3 points) – When your Regrowth or Lifebloom heal-over-time periodic damage critically hits, you instantly regenerate 1/2/3% of your total mana. This effect cannot occur more than once every 6 seconds.
Tree of Life (1 point) – Requires 5 points in Empowered Rejuvenation – Shapeshift into the tree of Life, increasing healing done by 15% and increasing your armor by 240%, but reducing your movement speed by 50%. In addition, some of your spells are temporarly enhanced while shapeshifted. Lasts 45 seconds. 5-minute cooldown. Enhanced spells: Lifebloom, Wild Growth, Regrowth, Entangling Roots, Thorns, Wrath
Improved Tree of Life (3 points) – Requires 1 point in Tree of Life – Reduces the cooldown of your Tree of Life by 30/60/90 seconds, and increases your damage done while in Tree of Life by 5/10/15%.

Tier 10 (Left to Right)
Improved Barkskin (2 points) – Grants 80/160% additional armor contribution from cloth and leather items while in Travel Form or while not shapeshifted. In addition, the damage reduction granted by your Barkskin spell is increased by 5/10%.
Gift of the Earthmother (5 points) – Increases the healing done by your Tranquility on targets at or below 25% health by 4%, increases the healing done by the bloom effect of your Lifebloom by 2%, and your Rejuvenation spell also instantly heals for 3% of the total periodic effect. Increases your total spell haste by 4/6/8/10% and reduces the base cooldown of your Lifebloom spell by 4/6/8/10%.

Tier 11 (Left to Right)
Wild Growth (1 point) – Requires 1 point in Tree of Life – Heals up to 5 friendly party or raid members within 15 yards of the target for 2905 over 6.99 seconds. The amount healed is applied quickly at first, and slows down as the Wild Growth reaches its full duration.

Isn’t that just amazing?

Remember please, that the Talent Tree specifics including the picture is reposted directly from MMO Champion, and you can expect them to have continual upates and additional information as they discover it, so please check there yourself when you’re able. Thank you.

Now, for the, ahem, “value added” part of the blog post, yes?

The first impression is, Feral Bear Druids are going to walk into Cataclysm with very few changes to the core philosophy of the class.

We continue to have Feral as our main tree, with some points in Resto, and none in Balance.

We continue to use Survival of the Fittest, in Tier 6, as our “immune to critical strikes from opponents 3 levels higher than us” ability. By implication, max level raid mobs and bosses will continue to be set at 3 levels higher than us in terms of Hit.

In fact, we continue to have all of the abilities and Talents we’ve grown used to as Bears. Survival Instincts for an “oh shoot” button, Natural Reaction to increase Dodge and return Rage, Primal Fury to return Rage from critical strikes, Leader of the Pack and heals from Improved Leader of the Pack, Protector of the Pack for an overall damage reduction (including magic), Mangle and Berserk.

I think that, considering the changes in store for Plate wearers in terms of diverting attention away from Defense Rating, we can be reassured that we’re building on our foundation rather than ripping it up and starting over.

The first big change of note is the addition of Perseverance in Tier 2 of the Resto tree. This Talent will add an additional 10% spell damage reduction. That’s a pretty huge Bear Tank survival Talent change, and should be cause for some happiness.

Unsurprisingly, when we consider a new level 85 cap with 76 points available to spend, I’m not seeing a “perfect” build that gives me everything I want. Which is what we were told to expect.

What I’m seeing specifically in my build analysis is a solid 16 points in Restoration, with 5/5 Furor, 5/5 Perseverance, 5/5 Naturalist, and 1 in Omen of Clarity.

I originally posted this as 18 points in Resto, and 2/2 Master Shapeshifter. Unfortunately, as Kaethir pointed out (as someone always does within seconds of a post) there was an inaccuracy. Namely, you can’t take Master Shapeshifter without first taking 3/3 Natural Shapeshifter. In really looking at the options available, I can say that I am unwilling to lose 3 points elsewhere so I could take Natural Shapeshifter, just to keep +4% physical damage in Bear form. That’s a 5 point investment for +4% damage. We’ll keep in mind that we’d like to free up 5 points from the Feral tree in a perfect world, shall we?

Don’t hold your breath.

With 16 points in Resto, at level 85 we’re left with 60 points for the Feral tree. 

I’ll describe my initial thinking, including describing all Talents (not just new ones), just because you never know how knowledgeable someone is about what a Talent name actually corresponds to in end effect. I do try to be new tank friendly. 

What I’m looking at in the Feral tree is;

2/2 Sharpened Claws, for increased Maul damage. Maul is a huge part of Threat generation.

5/5 or 4/5 Ferocity for Rage cost reduction on many abilities. If you want a single point for something else, this is a possible choice. Otherwise, go 5/5. 

3/3 Feral Instinct for increased Swipe damage. More Swipe damage = more Swipe threat on AoE targets. Win.

3/3 Thick Hide… mandatory talent for Bears.

0/3 in Shredding Attacks for my build, because Lacerate is only one ability in the rotation, and the Rage savings doesn’t measure up to the value of a point to me. This attitude on my part may change with the new desirability of full Lacerate stacks to an Endless Carnage/Pulverize rotation. But I doubt it.

2/2 Feral Swiftness for the Dodge, another core Bear talent.

3/3 Predatory Instincts, increased melee critical strike chance. This is important as a foundation for the build, not only because crits increase damage based threat across the board, but also because a later talent, Primal Fury, feeds us Rage on a successful critical strike. More crits = more Rage, especially with Swipe on AoE.

1/1 Feral Charge. I use Feral Charge all the time when running from group to group. Heck, I even use it a TON during a single group pull, when caster mobs are spread out like they are in early Forge of Souls and on the ramp of Pit of Saron. The spell interruption is perfect since I use it to go from caster to caster.

2/2 Improved Feral Charge. My initial plans put this as a possible place to shave points. The reason I want to keep it is because 30% melee haste for 8 seconds, in the very first 8 seconds of an initial group pull, is pretty huge in terms of fast threat generation, SO LONG AS YOU HAVE ENOUGH RAGE. I see this dovetailing with Enrage and Primal Madness to form a new standard pull strategy of Enrage and Feral Charge in every time. Assuming, of course, you’re not doing that already.

1/3 or 0/3 Fury Swipes, and I’ll tell you why. It’s based on auto-attack speed, it’s 12% max chance, it triggers only from auto-attacks, and it can’t happen more than once every 6 seconds. For a DPS rotation, yes I’m sure it could be good if used properly, but for Bears, with so many other Talents to choose from, it’s not going to improve our initial Threat generation in the first 6 seconds of a pull by nearly enough to justify three points. Over a long fight, yes it could be very significant, and may be a solid Talent for a main tank boss fight build. BUT, for most situations, Talents that improve initial threat generation and instant damage should take precedence over Talents that add damage at a steady, measured pace over time. So the longer the fight, the more significant Fury Swipes would be. My default is to leave a point in this one so it does trigger occasionally, and see if the 6 second choke on it helps it proc enough to overcome not having a higher chance of occurance.

2/2 Primal Fury is another core Bear talent, returning Rage from successful crits, including crits caused by each mob affected by Swipe.

5/5 Heart of the Wild – we get to keep this? Yay!

1/1 Survival Instincts, again I love this as an effective “oh shit” button, especially when triggered right before Frenzied Regeneration.

3/3 Natural Reaction, a core Bear talent increasing Dodge and returning Rage per successful Dodge.

2/2 Endless Carnage. This is a really interesting one, because for Bears it will increase the duration of Pulverize by 6 seconds. Pulverize is a talent on the Tier 10 range that I’ll go into a lot more later. Just keep in mind… plus 6 second duration of Pulverize.

3/3 Survival of the Fittest, our core Bear talent for being uncrittable by mobs 3 levels higher than ourselves, which are basically raid mobs and bosses. Oh yeah, and more armor for more damage reduction!

3/3 King of the Jungle – this is one of the other abilities I can see losing a point from. We could either lose 1 point in this, Ferocity, or Improved Mangle. Losing 1 point in this drops our boosted damage while Enraged to 10% instead of 15%.

1/1 Leader of the Pack, a great party/raid buff, but that’s not why I like it.

2/2 Improved Leader of the pack, a self heal per crit, and THIS is why I love LotP. It’s nice when in a party or raid, but when soloing, it’s divine, especially on lower level instances. And I’ll be honest… one of my favorite things to do is to run my friends/wife through lower level content. This almost completely removes the need for a healer when running through Ramparts.

3/3 Protector of the Pack, which does boost damage, but more importantly is one of the main ways we reduce magical damage. Our armor does not affect magic damage at all, so this, and the new Perseverance, are our two magic damage reduction abilities. Is it important not to instantly die in an AoE fire? Yes, I think so.

0/2 or 1/2 Infected Wounds, normally none. If you do feel particualrly squishy, especially on new boss fights in Catacylsm, the slower mob attack speed can help. If so, or if you’re annoyed by lots of runners, you can put a point in here from somewhere else. I’d recommend starting with Fury Swipes and Improved Mangle to draw from.

2/2 Primal Madness, I love having that instant Rage from Enrage, and this now also buffs Berserk Rage, so yes, I want to keep 2/2.

1/1 Mangle. Umm, yeah.

3/3 or 2/3 Improved Mangle. This one is the one I really think is the most likely to lose 1 point in my build. In my rotations, with the longer Bleed duration, I think it would be fine. The one wierd thing is, while it says 3 ranks, it shows 0.5/1.0 and 2/4, which indicates only two ranks. So, will we not even have the opportunity to have 3/3? We’ll see.

5/5 Rend and Tear, which not only buffs Maul damage by 20 bloody be damned percent, but ALSO unlocks Pulverize.

1/1 Pulverize. A new Talent, a new ability, and an interesting choice. Dire Bear Form only, so it’s a tanking thing. What does it do? Well, it looks like an instant cast that deals 100% weapon damage, PLUS 786 damage per Lacerate on your target. So, you stack Lacerate to max and then boom. But wait, there’s more! It also EATS those lacerate stacks, and in exchange it increases your melee crit strike chance by 2% per Lacerate. It’s 10 seconds default, plus 6 seconds if you have 2/2 Endless Carnage. There is nothing that says this is increased crit on that target only. So, what we’re saying is, you can stack up Lacerates on one target, blow Pulverize, and increase your max crit chance on all targets affected by everything, including Maul and Swipe, for the next 16 seconds.

Yes, please. Oh, hell yes. Remember that whole “regain Rage on successful crit” thing from Primal Fury? And let’s never forget, your successful crits BUBBLE YOU. Yum yum yum feaking yum.

And finally, 1/1 Berserk. I love Berserk anyway, and now Primal Madness makes it give me Rage, too.

So… interesting, interesting. I’m not seeing any problems here whatsoever. It’s all good, my friends.

Anyway… the future looks so bright, my Bear might have to wear shades!

And please… no whining about not getting more AoE talents, all right? I think 1 16 second buffed crit chance from Pulverize might help enhance the threat of our existing Swipe AoE.

Oh yeah, and as far as no ranged Silence to help pull… well, I LIKE using Feral Charge and ranged Feral Faerie Fire and Growl on distant mobs. It feels like I’m more active on the battlefield. Don’t ask me why.

So… what are your impressions?

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