Bear changes coming in 3.1

Well, here we go again.

Just when you think it’s safe to have fun, we’re gonna be changed up a bit.

Eyonix has been posting some advanced warning for changes they are intending in Patch 3.1.

The second installment, with changes for Druids included, can be found here.

Now, the text for Druids in Eyonix’s post is as follows;


  • Savage Defense – this is a new passive ability. When a druid in Dire Bear form deals a melee critical strike, the druid gains a damage shield equal to 25% of their attack power. The next hit completely removes the shield regardless of how much damage was done.
  • Survival of the Fittest has had its bonus armor reduced to compensate for the above increase in damage mitigation.
  • Faerie Fire (and similar debuffs) now reduces armor by 5%. See Sunder Armor in the warrior update below for additional details.
  • Thorns and Nature’s Grasp can be cast in Tree of Life form.
  • Survival Instincts now works in Moonkin form.
  • Replenish – to avoid confusion, this talent has been renamed “Revitalize.” It now also works with Wild Growth.
  • We are also looking at increasing the sustained (not burst) damage of feral druids in cat form.
  • The armor comment referred to above found in the Warrior section; Creature armor has been globally reduced so that debuffed targets should take about the same damage from physical attacks that they did before this change. The net effect should be that this debuff is slightly less mandatory in PvE and is not disproportionately more powerful against cloth targets in PvP.

Now, that’s some pretty interesting stuff, that to my mind comes a little out of left field.

Some of the changes are pretty simple, tools other forms have access to being added to Moonkin or Tree of Life. Being able to spec into Survival Instincts as a Moonkin should make for some interesting build choices in PvP. At least, I would imagine so, I wouldn’t know a Moonkin build if it Moonfired me into next Tuesday.

The change to Feral Faerie Fire adding an armor reduction is nice, but as I already keep Feral Faerie Fire up at all times on my target, it isn’t going to make me change my tactics during a run. I kept it up before, I’ll be keeping it up in the future. Okay, thank you. Appreciate it!

The phrasing of the armor reduction section from the Warrior changes confuses me, just a little.

From the sounds of things, they are stating that they are reducing the armor of all mobs across the boards, so that the weakened affects of Sunder Armor will have the same end effect as before.

At this time, Sunder Armor (rank 7) reduces the target’s armor by 785 per application, stacking up to 5 times for a total of -3925 armor to a target, regardless of the target’s original armor or level.

The new change, of course, is a percentage of armor is reduced. Period.

I’m interpreting this to mean that they no longer want a squishy low-armor target to be drastically, ridiculously weakened by Sunder Armor.

Armor of course equals physical damage mitigation. Many purely physical tank PvE targets have exceptionally high armor values, and so a Sunder Armor of -3925 is a reasonable debuff.

But for caster style PvE mobs, with a cloth-based physical damage mitigation, -3925 armor can be quite powerful… and falls into the ‘don’t want to have any class be a must bring’ when they look for changes.

The side effect of such a change is going to make the PvP effectiveness of Sunder Armor on cloth wearers get adjusted down a lot… which I’m sure makes everybody but Warriors very happy. 

I’m curious what they mean by Creature armor has been globally reduced, though.

Obviously, it’s not live now, this is all the whispering of a pipe dream of the future. But if they really were to reduce all creature armor globally, wouldn’t that cause a corresponding increase in physical damage done to those targets?

It all depends on how much, exactly, they intend to reduce armor… and whether they will reduce the big tank style targets more than squishy caster types.

But it certainly would tend to have the effect of increasing all damage done by physical ranged and melee, though. Even if only by a teeny bit.

The proposed Survival of the Fittest and Savage Defense changes are the most… potentially annoying, however.

It seems to me that the biggest single effect this change will have is to skew our gear itemization priorities so that we want different things after we max our Agility and Stamina.

Without knowing any details I’m certainly not going to deal in any kind of wild ass guess with real numbers.

But they are saying they are going to reduce the effects of Survival of the Fittest, an always-on continuous, trusted steady as a rock Damage Reduction, and replace some of it with a Damage Absorbing shield that lasts for exactly one strike per activation, is activated by landing a successful critical strike, and has it’s Damage Absorbtion based off of Attack Power.

So how often it CAN proc is going to be based off of how fast your attacks occur (Haste Rating), how often your attacks land (Hit Rating and Expertise) , how often those attacks that actually land are Critical Strikes (Agility and Critical Strike Rating) and whose Damage Absorbtion is based off of Attack Power.

Oh my.

So, right now in the game I can happily pass on items that are really primarily oriented towards DPS classes. I can look for items with really high Agility and Stamina first, and let the other stuff go. I may lust after some drops that a Rogue, Hunter, Death Knight, Ret Paladin or Enhance Shammy would want, but I can tell myself that they are better for them than for myself, and they all compete for the same few rare drops, so I can pass and just not worry about it.

Oh, thank you so much for the thought that soon I may have to roll on some of those items… I’m sure they will all appreciate it. 

And don’t our healers just LOVE dealing with spiky damage! After all, WoW has become boring for them, they can predict the boring old damage trends… this will certainly spice up the runs! Yay!

Lord knows I don’t want bored healers.

Yes, I know… I am overstating the affect any change will have for dramatic value. Most of our gear, once you get into Naxx and beyond, already has Hit Rating, Expertise, and Attack Power, and of course we already stack Agility to kingdom come. Most of my loose interpretation is intentionally tongue in cheek.

But I wrote it the way I did because it does seem to me to be a change intended to move us away from steady predictable damage mitigation, and bring us more in line with other tanks, having to deal with unpredictable damage spikes.

And in order to try and do the best we can as tanks, it will be our duty to try and maximize those stats we will need to get the shield up as often as possible, as strongly as possible.

And that means we change our itemization weighting again.

Oh boy, just sign me right the hell up.

18 thoughts on “Bear changes coming in 3.1

  1. @wintersdark
    People are worried because any advantage druids had in raids are going away slowly but surely. This is especially worrisome for druids who are in more hardcore raiding guilds
    1) I agree
    2) the problem is that it is periodic mitigation that really isn’t that much and can be removed by a tiny hit from anything. Even if the shield is 1k it goes away on any hit
    3) I don’t think anyone is worried about druid dps although I am still outthreated by our warrior and death knight
    4) our advantage was taking steady damage. My guild’s dk and warrior are only a couple k behind me in health but have alot more avoidance with parry than I do (10-15% more). The numbers may be saying that we take the same overall damage as other tanks but all it takes is the perception of us not being worth healing that will kill our spots in raids. In high end guilds where everything is scrutinized it doesn’t take much to find yourself without a role. I used to be the main tank for our guild because of my high health and steady damage. Now I am the third off tank that mainly is the tank for 3 drakes because in my high stam set I can get my health over 55k
    5) no such thing as rage problems

    Please don’t take this as a QQ. I love playing my druid and want to keep playing him if I can. I just would love to know why blizzard thinks this will be better for us. The only thing I can think is they want to put some stuff in ulduar that would be too good given the current situation in druid tanking.

    On a side note if the “leaked” patch notes are accurate it looks like master shapeshifter will give bear 2% damage reduction. I hate to have to spec higher into resto to get it but if dual specs come out that will be a little easier to swallow.


  2. Ok, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say I’m cautiously optimistic about these changes.

    1) bear gearing was too simple. Now, we can push for different types of damage mitigation, and have harder gearing choices. This is a good thing.
    2) it’s a net mitigation buff. Yes, our physical mitigation remains equal, but we gain magical mitigation when we had none (or little, resistances etc).
    3) we’ll do more dps. ‘we’re tanks, that’s not our job’ you say? It doesn’t matter were it comes from, dps is dps. Also, more dps=more threat.
    4) spikier damage? Somewhat, yes. We’re not losing our jobs over that, though. It puts us no worse off than other tanks.
    5) rage problems? You have rage problems? High end content rage is a nonissue, low end content just put on dps gear and tank.

    Seriously, there’s so much angst about this, and I think most of it is simple fear of change.

    Yes, BBB, I realize you were talking somewhat tounge in cheek, I’m more referring to others comments


  3. I have respecced Taurros, my main druid, for cat dps. I’m giving up on serious tanking until Blizz makes up their minds(plus he’s still only 71 anyway, hunter addictions ftl). Heck, I might even go tree at this rate. This is kinda ticking me off tho, Taurros has been feral(and only feral) since 1.8, and I hate changing things now after all this time.

    My other druid Alanon is a boomkin/sometimes tree, so at least he isn’t affected by all this.

    It may be time to level my warrior.


  4. I have been playing since the start and my druid is the third main that I have had but to be honest it is also the first one I really loved playing. With all this yanking around they are making it hard for me to not switch mains again. I am in all tier 7.25 gear (best in slot of everything with 45k+ health and 50%+ dodge in my non max stam gear) but all I hear from my healers is how I take a beating when I used to have nice steady damage. If they make my damage even more spikey I may be relegated from off tank to not getting invited to raids anymore. I can’t imagine how much worse it would be if my gear was not the best available.


  5. Javan said with 5-6K AP (which is a ton) he would be able to have a 1200-1500 point shield for one hit. Isn’t that like nothing? or a very light amount of damage for having a huge amount of AP?

    The bit about changing how Sunder and FF work is stupid. They are afraid that cloth armor gets reduced too much? It’s CLOTH it doesn’t stop shit anyway. My guild paladin has more armor on his left boot than my Mage has on his whole body.


  6. I dunno…. it seems to me that druids (of all stripes) are getting less and less pleased, collectively, with the chain jerking we’re all experiencing.

    It’s starting to feel like pre-bc all over again, okay, well, maybe not THAT bad, but there does seem to definately be “something up”.


  7. Why doesn’t blizz help us out with all the nerfing they’re doing to us for no good reason, and give us some different armor classes we can get into like mail, or better AE threat gen. I had heard they were supposed to fix swipe, but I haven’t seen it. Basically if they’re going to mess with the bear tanking why don’t they give us some cookies to balance things out. I feel like Bear tanks are struggling more so than other tank classes right now with the new trendy AE tanking and what not. In short we should be the last ones right now that need nerfed.


  8. Currently in bear, I’m at between 5-6k attack power for groups / raiding (depending on buffs, etc)

    That means, I’d get a shield of 1200-1500 damage.

    Now, the question really does become – what happens with Swipe if I crit on 4 targets? What happens with Glyph of Maul if both strikes crit? And as Artoo asked, what happens when you get another crit before your first shield has been used?

    These are questions that will definitely decide whether I like or dislike this change.

    From an initial view, it seems like this gives us our own form of “Block”, making Crit Rating somewhat of a tanking stat, but as Agility already was, it really only re-emphasizes Agility as a bear stat, and will make the damage we take burstier for our healers.


  9. One thing I’m curious to see about savage defense is how it will work if you crit while you still have it up. Will it do nothing? Will it stack to give you one shield for double the amount absorbed? Will it shield you for the next two hits you take?

    If it does nothing that would be pretty disappointing, I think the best one would be if it creates a second shield so you’ll have damage absorbed on the next two hits would be ideal, although stacking the shields for would be nice on slow, hard hitting bosses.


  10. Neil…

    “I am overstating the affect any change will have for dramatic value.”

    “Most of my loose interpretation is intentionally tongue in cheek.”



  11. Hey … before you start flipping out about the world ending, let’s take a step back and think about how much we really know about what’s going on here.

    We know they’ll be reducing the armor coefficient from Survival of the Fittest, BUT WE DON’T KNOW BY HOW MUCH. It’s inescapable that to have Savage Defense with our current fantastically high armor mitigation would simply be overpowered. An armor nerf is necessary, so let’s not flip out about it until and unless we try it in raids and the healers are dramatically displeased with the results.

    Furthermore, as Eberron has pointed out, you’re going to get that crit rating whether you want it or not. Most of the leather you’ll see in Naxx and beyond will have the three basics of Agility, Stamina, and Attack Power. And after that, you’ll get some brew of Hit, Expertise, Crit, and Haste Rating. Considering that threat is far less of an issue for us now, Hit/Crit/Haste have been of very low utility.

    But now, Crit gains value for obvious reasons, and Haste gains value because more hits yields more crits. We will be making MUCH BETTER USE of the gear we’re getting. So relax!

    Blizz isn’t going to leave us dead in the water. I have faith 😀


  12. Trading armor for a luck based damage reduction seems rather stupid. It also seems real odd that its for only one hit. Trying to force a shield/block mechanic on us seems silly, that’s why we walk around with tens of thousands of points of armor and health on us. Oddly I don’t hear anyone crying foul that druids have to much armor, so why all the armor reductions? Is it so the devs at blizzard can get lazy and generalize all gear for all specs.

    Hate to be negative but all I see this doing is making bear tanks less desirable depending on the SotF armor reduction through the increase of spike damage.


  13. Edit of a sort: I hadn’t noticed the mitigation would work for magic damage as well. That’s nice, but this still seems like a seriously random thing to do. I’m getting this “We want to reinvent the whole class!” vibe from the last few patches, and I can’t quite decide if I like it…


  14. It feels like bears started out at the “Lolwut?!” Tank coming out of level 60, and by the time 70 was hanging around and things started to settle down, bears were the tanks with the most even damage. Sure we didn’t have a shield or the ability to parry (Which all the npc creature bears in the woods seem to have, oh well.) but we had amazing armor and insane stamina. So they use a bit more mana on our green bars, at least it wasn’t spiky. I guess that just wasn’t supposed to be our niche, so they pried us out of it and then didn’t know where to stick us.

    All this changed in a moment of blinding inspiration!

    The devs got together one night, took a car ride to Hollywood and broke into one of the storage lockers where they found the old set from the Russian tavern in Indiana Jones. Throwing back a few shots of vodka to set the mood they looked to each other and declared, “Eureka!”

    Bears will be the new Russian Roulette tanks! XD

    Alright, so maybe it won’t be that bad. I don’t know. And it’s not going live tomorrow either. Still, doesn’t it seem this way?


  15. I, for one, welcome our new crit-bear tank overlords.

    Okay, kidding aside.

    This is necessary, folks. An absolutely essential change given their stated itemization goals for kitties, bears and rogues.

    As it stands right now, T7/7.5 is an absolute JOKE of a piece for a tank! I’ve literally seen it brought up on forums as “Your T7 may be crap bro, but at least you’re not a feral. Their tank set has crit on it! Crit!”

    This is intended to deal with that exact sentiment. I’m hoping they change it to absorb a set amount of damage rather then just one hit for the reasons commented on above (piddly hits) but if it absorbs magic damage.. woot!

    Blizzard has stated before that “solo tanking” as they see it is a non-issue. So stating “I can’t round up large groups of mobs as I’d like to do and bear them down” is something Blizzard is aware of… and doesn’t really seem to care about. They’re not behind that use of your ability, at least not in the sense that they’re going to build to promote it.

    A bummer, I know, but how this factors in to PVP applicability is important. Ferals want to be able to PVP, and against melee mobs, bear is an essential tool. Being able to burst your energy bar down (twice with Tiger’s Fury) and then go bear for the next 10 seconds, rinse repeat, on melee players is absolutely awesome.

    They’re going to tweek this, folks. Mark my words, but it’s a step in the right direction.

    Now if they can just figure out how to convert Defense Rating in to more dodge for us… My 81% mitigation, 40% dodge and 34k HP isn’t gonna let me solo naxx. Get on it Blizz!


  16. I’m not a fan of tanking-by-avoidance either, but I will wait and see exactly how much they’re reducing the survival of the fittest armor buff by before I cry doom. Given that I’m a freak hybrid between cat and bear, I tend to think I’ll come out ahead on this change, but I’m not sure I like the driving philosophy behind this movement towards randomness.


  17. I _loathe_ this approach.

    Is this the fifth, or only the fourth reduction of bear armor so far?

    Didn’t they just change Death Knights/Bone Shield/Frost Presence because of how dependent they could be on Bone Shield being active? Seems like this is a similar setup. Won’t it just be _fun_ to be feared, punted, “pacified”, or otherwise unable to hit anything, and thus unable to generate this additional protective shielding? I imagine it will be nearly pointless when tanking ‘many’ mobs as the shield will go down to those miniscule hits as fast as you can put it up.

    The more I consider it, the more ill conceived it appears to be.

    Have they lost the ability to _plan_?


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