Alchemy Gem Transmute Recipes gone in 4.0.1

No, not the ones you already know.

Just the ones the trainer has to give you if you are leveling the Alchemy Profession now.

This is a major issue for anyone that is thinking of taking Alchemy, or who is in the process of learning Alchemy. Once you hit level 450, all existing recipes turn grey. Previously, at 450, the Epic Gem transmutes were made available for purchase, you trained those, and there was also the quest offered by the trainer to learn the Transmute of Cardinal Rubies… that requires 5 Epic Gem Transmutes to turn in.

You can’t complete the quest, because you can’t get the Epic Gem Transmute recipes anymore.

Is it a bug? Is it intended?

There is absolutely no way of knowing at the moment, because there has been zero response from Blizzard on this issue to date. No Blue forum posts, no Patch notes, and multiple in game tickets have gone unanswered, or answered with “Geez, I dunno, is there anything else I can help you with? Please fill out our survey.”

There has literally been nothing but silence from Blizzard concering an issue that has crippled a Profession for anyone training it right now.

Posts entered into the official US forums concerning this issue are not only being ignored by Blue posters, but I have confirmed that even very politely framed requests for help or information are simply being deleted by moderators… much as the posts about being hacked that were entered into the Customer Service forum used to be when Blizzard took no response in years past, before they stopped pretending it wasn’t happening and developed an actual customer service response.

Hey, bugs happen. A lot of Alchemists are upset about varying gem transmute cooldown timer issues. This was a huge patch, and I’m sure not everything is going to be perfect.

But the current attitude from Blizzard is insulting. As customers, we pay money for the opportunity to spend time playing the game with persistant characters. It is money for time. When a significant investment of that time is invalidated or deleted, possibly due to a bug or not, then it seems reasonable to expect an acknowledgement that they are aware of the issue, a clarification of what the nature of the issue really is (bug or intended removal, perhaps as recipes to be discovered via Discovery mechanics), and a timeline for resolution, such as “someday in a future hotfix”.

What I do not think is a reasonable response is deleting posts asking for help or clarification of the issue, ignoring the existence of the issue itself, and sticking their heads in the sand as if we might all just shut up and go away. 

I tell you, just when I dare to think that Blizzard has implemented solutions for customer service concerns that make them the leader in the MMO software industry, such as their responses to hacking issues and return of lost items, the development of authenticators to improve account security, the addition of security levels to Guild functionality, the continuous improvement to the balancing and fun of the game, and the communication by “Blue” moderators in the official forums, something like this comes up.

Bear tanking in 4.0.1

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.

NOOO!!!! NOOOOOOOO!!!!!

You… you….

No.

I can’t believe it. I won’t accept it.

No. Not just no, HELL no.

Someone hold my coat, I’ma gonna get my claws bloody on this one.

Someone give me the name of the rat bastard fink that is responsible for this insane travesty of all that is right and holy!

I swear, when I find out who’s behind this, I’m gonna gut ’em.

First I’ll skin ’em, and THEN I’ll gut ’em.

And I’m not even a skinner, so it doesn’t matter if I use a damn spoon or not, it’s STILL gonna hurt.

Can you believe this crap? I swear, this time they’ve gone too far. Screw writing my congressman, not that he’d give a shit.

Oh, hey, you know what the definition of a congressman is?

A member of the second group put up against the wall after we finish shooting all the lawyers.

You think you’ve got things under control. You think that you’re on top of the world.

You’ve got plans. I had plans! Damnitall, I had plans!

And then they go and do this.

I just…. I just don’t know what to do.

<sniff>

You know, I try so hard. <sniff>

I really do. I keep those embers burning, ya know? I never give up.

No matter how hard it gets, and some days, it’s really damn hard, I just stay with it, ya’know? <sniff>

<sniff>

It’s like, you know, just when you think you’re up, they gotta drag you right back down, man.

I just… I mean, man… I just don’t know if I can take this anymore, man. Just, just game over, man, game over. Maybe we should just roll over and put them in charge.

What? What do you mean, them who? What am I talking about?

Good lord, where have you BEEN?

Haven’t you HEARD?!?!

It’s right there in Black and Green.

According to the tooltips, Swift Flight Form, Flight Form, Aquatic Form, Travel Form, Bear Form, Cat Form no longer make you immune to Polymorph.

They did it. Those damn Mages finally went and did it.

I never thought they would, but they finally got their hooks into someone in Blizzard and made it happen.

It’s the big one. The balloon just went up. Screw DEFCON 5.

Damnit, I WARNED you all it was coming!

I tried to tell you. I warned you, and did you listen? Hell no.

I told you, first you give them a forum to talk, and then you give the short ones a soapbox so they can reach the mike, and then you let them assemble without hosing them down with the firetrucks…

The next thing you know, it’s all over. It’s all Bears in sheep form, BRK wandering around drunk looking for the cheese dip, and drunken Mages having their wild depraved parties with NOBODY TO MAINTAIN SOME DAMN DECENCY ANYMORE!

Well, okay, no, *I* don’t maintain the decency… I’m talking about those other Druids in the Annarchy guild over on Dark Iron.

The point is, we were safe! We had protection!

And when the Mages are around, you know you bloody well NEED all the protection you can get!

As I always say… if you’re planning on hooking up with a Mage later, you better darn well make sure you’ve got protection with you.

What’s next? huh? What’s bloody next? Are they gonna make Druids wear a thong like Jong?

You KNOW that doesn’t go with our fur, dagnabit! You’ve got to have baby smooth skin, freshly waxed to pull that off. An all over Brazilian body wax. You know, like Jong has.

I can tell you one thing… this just proves beyond a doubt that Mages are a more powerful force than Hunters ever will be, even counting BRK.

Because if the Hunters had their way, we’d be tameable pets tomorrow.

Of COURSE it was an exploit!

As many of you have noticed, and some of you pointed out in comments to one of my previous recent posts, farming Lovely Charms in Ulduar or in Battle before the Citadel no longer works.

Let me be clear, in reference to Keeva’s post; Yes, farming Lovely Charms in this way WAS an exploit.

If you claim it wasn’t… then you just like to deny reality when it conflicts with you justifying what you want to do as ‘fair’. Saying it was fair doesn’t make it so, and Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt (written for the 2 people in the audience that ain’t heard that one before).

An exploit is anything you find that allows you to bypass what the game designer clearly intended.

Now, in a tabletop pen and paper role playing game, finding inventive and imaginative solutions to complex problems gets you bonus experience points. There is no way to cheat, because you are actively playing with a live, and hopefully awake, game master that has the ultimate power of veto. In an RPG like that, a lot of the fun is in using your brain housing group to think your way out of trouble (or into even greater trouble… sometimes, double or nothing is a valid, and highly entertaining, strategy).

The only real way to try and cheat in a tabletop rpg is to shut off the brain, engage cruise control and snooze through the situation. And I hope you get eaten by a grue.

If you are in a tough situation, and you try some crazy shit… the GM can choose to enjoy it, and likely will. It may fail disastrously, but heck, that can be fun too. But if you try and cheat your dice rolls (No, really, it was a 20. The dice rolled off the table, and behind the chair, but it was a natural 20. I should have left it for you to see, but you trust me, right?) or do something else to get out of thinking and really cheat, he or she can respond interactively with an immediate rebuttal. Such as dropping a 50,000 ton meteorite on top of your character’s head.

Or, if your character for some reason is immune to such things as direct impacts, can prove a point by dropping a 50,000 ton meteor on top of the nearest city… and then hand you an Encyclopedia open to the chapter on Kinetic Energy and mention indirect fire weapons.

In WoW, there are no live moderators or GMs to see what you attempt to do when faced with a challenge, and adjust the difficulty or amend the rules or drop a meteor on your head if you try and slip one by.

Instead, there are pre-defined responses to your input. The results are checked… and if the GMs find general results sh0w that there is a way to bypass their intent, they have to adjust the code. A hotfix.

The argument that “If they didn’t want us to do that, they should have coded the encounter to prevent it” is specious bullshit; it sounds good if you like to take no responsibility whatsoever for your own actions, but it doesn’t really play well in Peoria.

I take full responsibility for my own actions… I knew darn well that I was exploiting a bug that was allowing me to garner up far more Lovely Charms that I should have been able to when I did Battle before the Citadel jousting, and again when I hit Ulduar for no other reason than Charm farming.

I wanted to do the achievements, saw how many Lovely Charms I’d need, spent an hour farming hardcore off mobs in Icecrown, and felt quite daunted. When someone told me you could get ’em from jousting, after the hour I spent, I didn’t feel guilty… I felt overjoyed.

“Yay! Less time farming, more time having carefree fun! Woot!”

Still doesn’t change the fact I didn’t do it straight.

And I’m okay with that.

In a word… WoW!

Tonight, we went and accidentally did the three new 5 man instances.

Well, it was an accident on the part of myself and Cassie.

I’ve intentionally not read or viewed anything at all about the new instances previous to going. No PTR stuff, no videos, no pictures aside from what was shown at Blizzcon and a few screenshots showing a chamber with a dangling Frostmourne hanging over an altar.

No strategies. No walkthroughs. No “this is what to expect.”

For once I wanted to just see it, cold, up close and get to react to it.

My one regret was that I was in vent and didn’t have game sound turned on for most of it, but hey, I’m a blabbermouth in vent. I fully intend to join LFG as a silly little solo pugger, just so I don’t have to listen to anything other than game sound next time around.

It was an accident, because we expected to take a few shots at the first of the new 5 mans, The Forge of Souls, and see what we could do. After that, we expected to have to leave to put the cats to bed, our son to bed, and watch the season finale of Top Chef.

Just prior to running The Forge of Souls on my Druid as tank, I ran it once on Horde side as a Ret Pally. We set it up, went in, and the rest of the group had seen it the night before, so they had some basics to share. It let me see the fights, and gave me some respect for it even on normal, because the guys I was with are pretty damn good, and the fight against the final boss left two DPS dead at the end, with the Tank dying simultaneously with the boss. And this was on normal mode, and the guys had downed Onyxia 10 with ease a few weeks before. Clearly, something to take seriously.

On Alliance side, I gathered up the same group of us that had wanted to do it last night, and failed from being unable to zone into the instance. I’d promised we’d try a second time, and everyone was up for the challenge.

I went in as the Tank, and it was an unfamiliar sensation to truly know nothing about the actual abilities of the mobs aside from what I’d seen once. But I had a lot of faith that we’d be, well, overpowered.

Improvise, adapt, and overcome. Especially the improvise part.

We went in on the normal setting, looking to learn the ropes, and the thing that really struck me was how long the run up to the first boss seemed, when the groups of enemies are spread so far apart on long, narrow ramps. It really was quite fast to go from the entrance to Bronjahm, but it felt slow, if you know what I mean. It felt as if I should be taking the trash seriously, because of how spread out they were.

One thing I noticed is that the arrangements of the groups meant that almost every pull consisted of some ranged casters that don’t come when you pull, spread out far enough that you can’t blanket them both with a simple ‘run and gun’, or as I prefer to call it ‘charge and stun’ attack.

I found myself, much more than normal, spending my time watching threat levels across all the targets, satisfied that I had aggro and were marking kill orders rather than pin down one mob specifically.

I found it best to mark a ranged caster, charge him and lay down a heavy initial threat level on him, target a distant ranged caster while still Swiping local targets, thrown down a Growl and Feral Faerie Fire, drop back to local Skull to gain some more Threat level distance over the DPS, and then with a safe margin Charge the second or, if there, third ranged caster and pin him down better.

Really, it was group aggro control, the way I liked it from the bad old days of Burning Crusade, when it felt like flying fangs of feral fury spinning around and twisting viewpoints to keep an eye on the two legged lunch and just having fun.

Now, next time I’m going to play with something you may remember… Crowd Control. I think there were many situations where solid coordination and the effective use of Crowd Control would add… fun to the encounters. It’s almost as though they spread out the mobs enough that the designers are asking us to please, just think about using CC. Just for fun.

There are several situations that Crowd Control would have actually added to the smoothness of the run, but I’ll get to that later.

We faced down Bronjahm, I shared the tips I picked up from my horde side friends, and sure enough, easy kill. I was shocked to learn we were getting an Emblem of Triumph for each boss kill. This is normal mode, right? Cool! AND loot? Well, dip me in butter and call me corn!

We moved on, facing the same kinds of trash, with the addition of a couple Spectral Wardens, that are pushovers but they can fear you, so pounding them is not only fun, but a sound tactical idea.

We went on and faced the final boss, and I found that, aside from remembering that he summons many, many, many adds at times, and that he drops puddles of evil goo that you don’t want to stand in, and that he does a mirror soul on a target that causes damage he takes to be shared with the player just like the Eyeball boss of Violet Hold… I couldn’t remember anything else about the fight. 

Still, I had a few plans for what I could remember, such as calling out when someone was hit with mirror soul so we could stop DPS, and to watch for the purple circle that looks like a well and drag the boss away from it, and to call out for everyone to fall in on my position when the army of ghostly adds appears so they all come to me and get their little spirit butts handed to them.

We tried it, and well… I guess it went well, because we won handily, although sadly I somehow allowed dear Cassie to take a dirt nap. Still have no idea what killed her, either.

Well, that was it. A lot to digest, a great new instance, a lot of fun. Time to go.

And Elystia says, “And now we jump in this convenient portal right here to go to the second instance in the chain, Pit of Saron.”

Umm… well, okay. Sure.

In we go… and there’s all sorts of cool stuff, there’s a big ass dragon flying around and a huge wide open space filled with things, and Jaina Proudmoore, and wow, this kicks ass.

It’s day two of the Patch. That’s as far as I’m prepared to go in terms of spoilers.

I will say this.

We are, all of us, in gear that comes from drops in ToC, Heroic ToC, some 10 man Naxx, a few Ulduar 10 drops, and mostly Emblem of Conquest gear. Maybe one or two pieces of Triumph.

We cleared all three instances, in normal mode, without a single wipe, without having any idea of what was coming at us. We took it as it came, we reacted and tried to think our way through (although I think Jardal and Kaelynn cheated and were reading strats from somewhere!) but in the end, we won.

Even that last bit at the end of Halls of Reflection, and DAMN that was exciting and awesome and fun! Woo!

I’ll tell ya, we almost let him kill us just to see what would happen. If you’ve done it, you know what I mean. Damn, that’s tense when you’re all rushing “Kill him now, kill him now, get the fat one, shit Arthas is almost here, crap, go go go! Now RUN!”

God, that’s just a great series of instances to run back to back to back.

Here are some tips for Bear tanking it, for those of you that are raring to get in there, but haven’t yet done it.

First, be prepared to remember the kill order. Don’t hesitate to mark, and remember, if they wear cloth or heal the enemy, kill those bastards first. If they are ranged and don’t pull, you don’t have to get in their grill to hold them, but you DO have to use your Feral Faerie Fire and ranged Growl to keep them on you, and stay over the healer aggro. When in doubt, Feral Charge and make it up close and personal.

When dealing with fast runs, remember your strength; kiting and tanking on the move with your butt, and a moving AoE Swipe that hits 360 degrees. By all means, gather them up and drag them after you. In the Halls of Reflection, be prepared to search for ranged healer or casters, mark them with Skull to tell the DPS to focus only on them at first, and then do a run around the room to gather up the moveable mobs and bear swipe them on the fly and kite them/Feral Charge them into your designated kill target. Make solid use of Growl, because sure as heck if you spend a few seconds gathering up other mobs, the kill target will have time to get off at least one shot on someone else if you’re unwary.

Mostly… have fun in there. It’s a freaking winter wonderland for a Bear tank, and also for a Tree druid.

Mobility is our key strength. It’s our bread and butter. Yes, melee DPS wants us to stand still, and you’re a professional, so do it, and be consistent in how you pull so the other players know if you’re going to be facing the mob, or turning it to put it’s back to your group.

But always be prepared in there to make the fights mobile, to drag them around out of poison and toxic waste and the paths of boulders and wells of souls and gauntlets of adds standing in collapsing tunnels and roomfuls of waking adds and all sorts of other awesomesauce.

I can’t help but feel this was what I was missing. My only regret was in not marking CC targets, and using it in my tactics. I really, really want to do that again. Yes it’s slower… but it always gave me a strong sense of, well, “playing with my food.”

I really miss that. I think I’d like it back.

I hope you’ve had the chance to get in, and to see it all for yourself. I believe that when you do, you won’t be disappointed.

Welcome to patchville, hope you enjoy your stay

Logging into the game, for me last night, was a very surprising event.

First, I had me a new pet!

As I bet you already know, folks with Authenticators got themselves a little Core Hound pup non-combat pet in the mail, and damn but he’s the cutest thing!

You add him to the new Perky Pug you can get by being in random LFG heroics with 100 other players, and there is a new, welcome trend towards more diversity in the canine non-combat pet world.

Okay, he’s just cute, but I wanted to sound like there was some larger ramification there. Nah, just cute. I wouldn’t say no to a husky, or a malamute, or a golden retriever, though.

What next? A goldfish bowl on a floating mini-magic carpet to follow quirky Mages around?

Wait a minute… I like that idea.

Shake it off, Bear, shake it off.

The second thing I noticed was the changes to the UI.

Guild chat revolved around this, that or the other being broken, with wonky Cartographer and Quest Helper conflicts being the most common refrain.

What I did, and I’d like to re-address this later, is I shut down all the built-in Quest Tracking and helping tools from the Options/Interface menu. Just for the time being.

The second thing I did… was to make sure anything that conflicted with Cartogrpaher was shut down. This included opening the map, and looking at the bottom right corner of the map, where there was an option for using Quest Tracking for the map. Unchecking that let my Cartographer return to normal, with Questhelper working again.

Why did I do that?

Well, I’m very excited at the idea of removing a few memory-using addons, it’s true. And I generally love the professionalism of what Blizzard brings in, (built-in voice chat aside).

In this case, first, Cassie is map-challenged. Spacially, she gets lost quite easily in the game. She refers to the larger map all the time, and also makes extensive, and I mean EXTENSIVE, use of Cartographers ability to add your own notes and waypoints.

She also relys on Quest Helper’s minimap arrows to help her know which direction to fly next. In zones like Icecrown and Storm Peaks, it’s about the only way she can find her way back to the same place again.

I don’t know much about the new map system, but so far as far as I know there isn’t a way to add your own notes or waypoints directly to it. So finding a way to let Cartographer run was important for her.

For myself, I’d love to just shut down Quest Helper and Cartographer and dive right in.

What’s stopping me?

Routes.

Lol… greed, damnit! And laziness!

I still Use the Addon Routes, coupled with Gatherer and Cartographer, to display my farming routes for Herbs and Ore. Even though I bloody well KNOW where they are by now, when I want some fast Saronite, or old school Ore like Thorium for someone that is leveling a profession like Blacksmithing, boom, I have a route and away I go. If I have to give that up, I’m going to miss it.

Still, got that working, found that X-Perl seems to be acting wonky, but nothing too bad.

Then I went and…..

Did Argent Tournament dailies. :)

NO, I didn’t go rush off to do the new instance. I figured there’d be plenty of time for that.

But the Argent Tournament… yesterday was the last day, the very last day I had to do any quests, to finally become a Crusader, Exalted representative of every faction. Woot!

Once I got that done, and cried inside over needing 150 Crusader Seals to get a pony for my squire, off I went to do a random instance!

Aaannnd…. crash. Stuck onloading screen, failed to enter instance, got the deserter debuff for leaving the failed group.

We tried a couple times, but it was clear that folks were having a lot of problems getting in.

I’ll say now what I said then.

This patch will still be here, a long, long, long, long, long time from now. I’m sure, somehow I’m sure, I’ll have plenty of opportunity to try again some other time.

In the meantime, well, I can tell you for a fact that mailing Bind on Account Heirloom items across factions… WORKS!

Time to send all that yummy stuffs over, and get a Tauren Drood leveled up.

I hope your patch night went well, and that everything you hoped to achieve went smoothly, my friends.

Take care, and have a happy!

Chill of the Throne thoughts

Thanks once again to the wonderful talents at MMO Champion, I woke up to all of this today.

The critical quote;

For Icecrown Citadel, we are implementing a spell that will affect every enemy creature in the raid. The spell, called Chill of the Throne, will allow creatures to ignore 20% of the dodge chance of their melee targets. So if a raid’s main tank had 30% dodge normally, in Icecrown Citadel they will effectively have 10%.

I will share all of the information MMO Champion shared as posted by Ghostcrawler further below so you can see all the details and reasoning. I just wanted to kick the big announcement out first so you can prime your mind. If you’re all caught up on this already, just mosey on down the post for some discussion!

For Icecrown Citadel, we are implementing a spell that will affect every enemy creature in the raid. The spell, called Chill of the Throne, will allow creatures to ignore 20% of the dodge chance of their melee targets. So if a raid’s main tank had 30% dodge normally, in Icecrown Citadel they will effectively have 10%.

Why are we doing this?

The high levels of tank avoidance players have obtained is making the incoming damage a tank DOES take more “spiky” than is healthy for raiding. Ideally, tanks would be receiving a relatively constant stream of damage over time. This allows healers to better plan their healing strategy, broaden their spell options, and simply give more time to react. Tanks could use their cooldowns more reactively. Instead, the current situation is that if we make a hard hitting melee boss and a tank doesn’t avoid two successive swings then the tank could very well be dead in that 1-2 second window. The use of reactive defensive abilities instead becomes a methodically planned affair, healers have to spam their largest heals just in case the huge damage spike happens.

We’ve been trying to do a fair amount to mitigate the effect of high tank avoidance on the encounter side of things during this expansion with faster melee swings, additional melee strikes, dual wielding, narrowing the normal variance of melee swing damage, and various other tricks. There’s a limit to what we can do, however. So to give us a bit of breathing room we’ve implemented Chill of the Throne. Going forward past Icecrown Citadel, we have plans to keep tank avoidance from growing so high again.

We’ll have this on the PTR soon so players can see the effects inside Icecrown Raid.

Our original estimations for tank avoidance would have worked fine had we not decided to add extra tiers of gear to reward heroic boss kills halfway through the expansion.

The Cataclysm design will keep tank avoidance at more manageable levels. The loss of defense skill counts for a lot right there. We are also considering giving bosses expertise or other ways of baking in Icewell Radiance — basically the concept that bosses scale with gear rather than just hitting harder and taking more hits.

Player comment: It would still be fine if the itemization team had designed the gear accordingly. In a full 258 setup for warrior tanks, precisely two pieces have anything but a 3 way split of pure avoidance stats on them. There’s 3 different avoidance stats on 3 different diminishing returns, and pumping them all up like that can really make avoidance numbers go way out of whack. Meanwhile, we lose out on things like Expertise, and the preciously rare Hit Rating which is available on *1* piece of 258 tanking gear and end up having to swap gear around to cover those deficiencies.
You are making the common mistake in thinking that our goal for itemization is to give you the best possible gear that we can. Itemizing your character is supposed to be a choice. There will be better pieces and worse pieces. There will be pieces that combine stats your really want with stats you don’t really need. Wearing the best gear for their character (which is not the same as wearing the best gear) is one way players have to demonstrate mastery of the game.

This is also why I always preach to take BiS lists with a grain of salt. Merely reaching for the item declared to be BiS by a spreadsheet or system you might not even understand could lead you to making bad gear choices, often of the variety of passing over the good upgrade because it’s not the best possible upgrade.

Player comment: Also, if you’re going to give mobs expertise, can you please make a spell or some kind of method to determine the level of expertise without us having to do parses?
Yes. We would probably just let you see the numbers directly. I consider it a design flaw that players have to experiment to determine thinks like hit and expertise caps. We’re all for experimentation and theorycrafting, but we don’t think it’s fair to require some players to go out and do a lot of work to generate specific numbers that all players feel like they need to know.

Player comment: Putting so much avoidance on gear isn’t a bad idea because other stats are better. It was a bad idea because it causes tank scaling to fail and makes Radiance necessary.
That logic doesn’t really work. It’s like saying instead of nerfing armor pen, we should have just put less and less on higher level gear.

If we had avoided avoidance on tank gear, then every piece of tank gear would have hit and expertise (and maybe crit, haste and armor pen). Stamina and armor are static amounts, and if they were not, then those pieces immediately become the only pieces players would pay attention to.

Player comment: If you want ICC damage to be steadier, why don’t you just walk over to the item team and say “Hey, we’d like less avoidance, can you cut out half of the avoidance from the ICC gear and replace it with stamina?” Or if you’re worried people will get too much stamina, make it Frost Resistance and put in so much Frost damage you couldn’t hope to survive long with TotGC gear alone.

We just don’t think that works. If you put very unattractive stats on gear then players just go back the previous tier of gear and complain that we don’t know how to itemize. If you put bonus stamina on the tier 10 gear, then that means the next tier of gear better have bonus stamina as well. If it has avoidance instead of that bonus stamina, tanks just shrug and go back to the tier 10 gear.

This is not a tank only problem. Casters won’t upgrade to gear that doesn’t have more spell power on it, because spell power tends to trump everything else for purposes of their dps or healing.

We put a little bonus armor on non-armor items (necks, rings, trinkets and the occasional cloak). We don’t put bonus armor on gloves and chests because that gear would be too good.

It’s an item level problem. If we added another raid tier to Lich King, we couldn’t just keep avoiding avoidance and avoid it for every tier going forward. We just need a system where you avoid a Naxx boss 30% of the time and an Icecrown boss 30% of the time, the same way the Icecrown bosses have e.g. 30% larger health bars and thus take 30% more damage to kill. Otherwise the stats don’t scale and bad thing happen (in this case the boss having to land so much damage to account for the fact that it misses so often).

Reasons behind the change
I’ll address this one more time and then leave it because I think players are more interested in trying to turn this into a huge tanking nerf than understand what’s going on.

We would not have this problem if Icecrown gear had been item level 245 or so, as we originally intended. We added a few extra tiers of gear to support heroic modes. We felt like we had to do that to have different difficulty levels and make raiding more accessible overall. We felt like we had to reward the harder modes with the better gear or nobody would have been very interested.

The proportions of relative stats on your gear are not the problem. They are proportional, give or take a little, at every tier except for stats like hit that cap out. The problem is not the class and item teams being out of sync. In fact, they are the same team.

Diminishing returns
The 20% nerf is applied after diminishing returns. That is why I am saying it won’t affect the relative value of dodge and parry. The Icewell Radiance won’t get you closer to diminishing returns by itself.

The whole point of this change is so bosses can hit less hard but more often, for the same damage over time but with fewer deadly spikes. That should feel better to everyone overall. The reason I am reluctant to say that is because some players are going to go into Icecrown, find it hard, and then expect us to buff their class.

It won’t be Brutallus hard, at least most of the bosses and at least on normal mode. We’re not going to be particularly sympathetic to players who find heroic mode too hard.

Stamina less important?
It arguably makes stam less important (though it will always be important for tanks). Many players are probably telling you right now that only stamina and armor are important because if you ever fail to avoid two boss hits in a row that you’re going to die. Under that environment, avoidance loses a lot of value.

If bosses hit for less in IC (which they will, since they will hit more often) then the value of avoidance for purposes of survival increases.

I still expect many tanks will die in two hits until they get geared up a little. But they will, and then the ability to survive two hits in a row won’t be as big an issue.

Effective Health
I am going to attempt to explain the disconnect the community and the developers have over effective health.

When I first learned to tank, long before I came to Blizzard, I learned that effective health is a measurement of your stamina in relationship to your armor. This is a pretty easy number to generate. It’s reasonable to include say shield block and other simple forms of mitigation into the calculation.

However, you cannot directly translate effective health into best tank. Avoidance matters. If it didn’t, we would have no reason to nerf it in Icecrown. Good tanks don’t depend too much on avoidance, but great tanks understand its value.

Furthermore, your estimations of effective health become less and less accurate the more variables you try to factor in. Most saliently, you can’t easily account for cooldowns. You can’t compare a short duration that reduces damage by 80% to a long duration that reduces damage by 10%. Mathematically they might generate the same effective health number, but in reality they work pretty differently and each has their own benefits in certain situations, which vary depending on boss mechanics. (I’d generally take the first one though.)

We purposely made the cooldowns difficult to compare from class to class. You shouldn’t then be surprised when we take your effective health calculations based on direct comparisons of said cooldowns with a grain of salt.

It’s fine to compare health, armor, avoidance or cooldowns. I would not recommend putting too much faith in one ubernumber that you generate by combining all of them.

Icecrown isn’t Naxxramas
I am pretty sure on day one of 3.3 going live this forum will be filled with tanks who died and respond with “I thought bosses weren’t going to hit hard.”

It’s Icecrown. It’s not going to be Naxx.

Avoidance relative value
If you conclusion is that anything that improves your avoidance is now bad as a result of this change, you should think through it a little more. If you didn’t like avoidance before, nothing changes. If you liked avoidance before, nothing changes. You just have less of it now. The relative value should not change, unless you get to the point where bosses no longer two-shot tanks so much, in which case the relative value of avoidance increases. (Source)

The first thing I want to draw your attention to, is the true shape of the discussion. This is not about nerfs or buffs. This is not about discussing how much or to what extent to change things. This is about combat design philosophy and mechanics.

The base issue is the way tanks in general endure damage in an end game raid encounter.

With the combat design system in place, and the gear itemization designs implemented to date, there are two methods of dealing with incoming damage; enduring but mitigating (lessening) the damage from a blow, or avoiding all damage from a blow entirely.

What we are being told is that mitigation is the design that Blizzard prefers to build around for scaling, because it’s easier to streamline.

Avoidance will still have it’s place, but if the current design to challenge tanks and healers tries to include Dodge as is in the equation for damage sustained over time, then if the random number generator decides to clump Dodges and hits taken rather than spread them out, you take more damage in a short time than planned, Healers get stressed more than intended, and tanks die from a situation that was out of their direct control to manage.

That’s the key. They want the encounters to be challenging, but they don’t want success or failure to depend so much on random, uncontrollable events.

We are being told that they will make things more challenging in the short term by reducing one avoidance stat, Dodge, by 20% for the purposes of this one raid alone, but leave us our full power levels for other content.

This is a novel idea. Ghostcrawler addresses changing stat balancing on items, and how if they changed stats allocation on one Tier people would just fall back on the previous Tier as a reason, but that argument neglects to mention one way they HAVE handled the avoidance issue in the past; a global formula change that affected avoidance at all levels of gear.

In the past Blizzard has changed the base formula used to determine how much Agility or other stats contribute to each classes’ Dodge, and they have also changed the base multiplier used in the Dodge calculation formula per class. 

Doing so would affect all Dodge, all across the board. I think they hesitate to do this because then all current Wrath content would be unbalanced except for Icecrown. Good reason? Yeah, I think so too. It’s still something they may decide to do when Cataclysm comes along, if Defense alone is not enough.

This is not about nerfing stats that are too good, this is about trying to find a way to balance end game raid challenges with a preference for mitigation, when trying to handle avoidance is causing balance issues. 

Now, one of the things I’d like to point out as we continue, is a comment Ghostcrawler made about how, in Cataclysm, part of this will be resolved with the removal of Defense skill.

When the removal of Defense was first mentioned at Blizzcon, I think that I, as well as other people, had thought they meant that the mechanic of Defense and how it works was being removed, but that something else was going to take it’s place. Something such as the Druid Survival of the Fittest talent, for example. This would be a direct case of foreshadowing removal of an avoidance mechanic in favor of a mitigation Talent.

I did not actually take the Blizzcon announcement as meaning that Defense skill is being removed with nothing taking it’s place. That’s kinda how Ghsotcrawler’s comment made it sound.

Obviously, if that’s really what they are thinking, then itemization priorities for other tanks will be hit a lot harder than Feral Druids. Just something else to think about.

What I’d like to point out here, is that the intent of this Chill of the Throne change is to cause tanks in general to take a lot more hits, and to have to rely more on mitigation to handle it.

They’re saying, “Yes, we WANT you to get hit a lot, we want Healers to be healing constantly, and we don’t want a tank to be one shot or two shot if we have encounter design that takes healers out of the equation for one split second at the wrong time.”

I’m sure we’re going to see a ton of commentary on this.

What I really wanted to address is how this affects Feral Druids.

I’ve seen a lot of sudden panic that this is a terrible nerf of Druid tanks, that this will hit Druids harder than other tanks based on our love of Dodge.

I’d like to remind you that this is actually a lot easier for us to deal with than you might think.

Remember, looking forward, we already do not rely on Defense skill for the bulk of our tanking survival. If there is a Defense change in Cataclysm, we are already prepared for it mentally.

As far as a Druid reliance on Dodge.

Our gear, based as it is on Rogue DPS leather, as much simpler tanking stat foundations than other classes.

We have armor value that we pursue for mitigation. We have Survival of the Fittest Talent, as well as other Talents for mitigation.

We do have a ton of Agility alongside our Stamina, and we do not have Parry, Block, or a requirement to have Defense Rating for being uncrittable.

Edited for clarity: What this means for us is that, by regemming and changing enchants from Agility and Dodge Rating to prioritize Stamina then we can increase our buffer that gives healers time to bring us back up, and by pursuing trinkets, rings and weapons that have armor value on them, we can work towards increasing our mitigation. I’m sure everyone is already working towards having the highest armor value on leather gear as it is.

So we CAN quickly modify our style to prioritize increased health and mitigation over Dodge. 

Also don’t forget that compared to other classes, our Dodge is huge. Even if we do reprioritize a bit, we’ll still have a big Dodge after 20% is cut off the top.

Yes, moving from loving Dodge to loving mitigation SUCKS, based on historical yoyo bouncing. We WERE the mitigation masters. It’s what we pursued from our leather gear, based on armor value multipliers for years. Just the knowledge that they nerfed the shit out of our armor multipliers and mitigation, just to announce that we really should focus on mitigation, is annoying as hell.

Yes, we know. You changed our focus for us to be the best we could. You know, that mastering the gear aspect? So we mastered it too well, you nerfed it in response, that’s kind of flattering, really. But to come back now and say that everything is messed up because we moved away from mitigation. Grrr.

Still, you deal with the hand you’re dealt. 

Flexibility. It’s our strength.

Let’s read what’s said, remember the lessons ot the past, anticipate how they may again change their minds when they approach future raid design, but always remember that we are the class of flexibility.

Semper Gumby!