Worgen, a source of endless amusement

As I was spinning my way through Sholozar pursuing ore for my most recent obsession, my old pal Occulus logged in and said hi.

He shared with me his excitement about the upcoming Worgen, and his intention to make his Worgen a Druid.

Well, hells yes, same as me! Woot!

Then he mentioned that he was stoked about saving gold for his future Worgen to be… he had already saved up 10,000 gold this week towards his goal of having 50,000 gold when his Worgen began. You know, for those minor essentials like Epic Flying Form, Cold Weather Flying, a passenger Mammoth and a motorcycle allr eady and waiting for him.

Umm… dude.

But then he mentioned his excitement at the Goblin race mount, the go karts, and how he was slightly dissapointed that Worgen would be riding a Boar. And how the hell did that happen anyway? Why wouldn’t the Worgen just EAT the Boar?

Well, screenshot or it didn’t happen.

So Occulus coughed up a link to a screenshot, courtesy of MMO Champion;


Okay, that’s definitely a sketch of a Worgen on a Boar mount, from Blizzcon. Dude.

Back to this whole “Why would Worgen not eat their mount” thing.

Well, let’s face it, if you were a Boar, and a wolf thing jumped on your back, you’d run like hell, wouldn’t you?

I’m thinking a LOT higher base movement speed.

And then again, there’s that image I had…

Here comes a Worgen, riding into Stormwind.

A Guard stops him at the main gate. The Guard looks him over, and then looks his mount over.

The Worgen looks scruffy, scarred up and dusty, like he’d been lost in the Badlands for quite some time.

The Boar he’s riding is missing both ears, has an eyepatch, and has not one but TWO peg legs.

The Guard looks the Worgen up and down, and says, “Furball, that mount of your’n has seen better days. What in the world happened to him?”

The Worgen looks down at the Guard, and replies, “Well, I was looking for ore down in the southern part of the Badlands, and just when I got my pick stuck in, the damn rock came to life and attacked. This here Boar done got me out of there faster than shit through a goose!”

The Guard looks up at the Worgen and says, ‘Well, I can see that’d be a difficult position, but that doesn’t explain…”

The Worgen goes on to say, “Then later, we were over in the east part of the Badlands looking for ore, and a bunch of red flappy things started raining fire down all around us. This here Boar got me out of there alive when the fire was splashing around us harder than a cow pissing on a flat rock.”

The Guard eases his helmet back and says, “Well, that’s a mighty fast Boar, I’ll grant you, but I still don’t get…”

The Worgen then says, “And then we were over in the southwest of the Badlands looking for ore, and we found the motherload! And then, just as I was hauling away the biggest sack of iron and gold you ever saw, along came not one, not two, but five huge Ogres, led by this massive chief Ogre with a big stick! I thought we were done fer, but this here Boar got me AND the sack of ore out and gone, and left those Ogres standing there in our dust, just like a raid of noobs standing in Archavon’s fart cloud right afore the wipe.”

“Great!” yelled the Guard, “It’s a wonderful Boar that carried your furry tail out of a bunch of tight messes! I get it! Now tell me how in the hell it got so beat up?”

And the Worgen says, “Well, shoot, a Boar that good, you don’t eat it all at once, now do ya?”

Rare White Elk Day – Answering a Letter

Yeah, I know, I almost never do this on the blog. This was a damn good question, so what the heck. I’ll push back the other four posts I was in the middle of writing to answer it.

Hey there, I’ve been reading your blog for a while, and I have started
down the druid road.  I’ve got 3 toons at 80 already (all of which
happen to be hordies on Kael’thas), but at the prodding of my
guildmates, I made a druid.  Well, it wasn’t so much prodding as me
saying “Druid or Rogue” and the general consensus come back “druid.”
I haven’t played one since the closed beta, but I’ve already enjoyed
it a lot more than I did then.

So, to my inquiry… I can’t find much on the “leveling” aspect of the
class that’s been updated since TBC.  Do you have any generalized
advice or suggestions?  I’m drawn to feral, which is supposed to be
the hotness in terms of leveling and versatility, but I’m kind of at a
loss for which direction to take my talents.  Is it better to lean
bear in terms of leveling and survivability, or is it better to shoot
for raw damage and roll cat-esque talents?



First, thanks for the letter, Chris. And damn good questions.

Let me first get this out of the way; if what you want is the absolute smoothest or fastest possible leveling experience, I would go with Balance.

The reason is attitude more than anything else. When you start at level 1, you start as a caster, and are stuck in it until level 10. That get’s you accustomed to the gear and playstyle. You have crowd control, ranged attacks, all sorts of fun stuff.

When you get Bear at 10, unless you’re rich from higher level toons you typically don’t totally redo gear choices, and having half caster/half bear gear or spec just sucks from 10 to 20. Plus, Bear is very underpowered in terms of DPS from 10 to 20 compared to caster style. If you DO max out the agi/str/stam/armor value gear and go with Feral Talents, then you’ll do great as a partner of another DPS player as a bear, but you really won’t enjoy the soloing from 10 to 20.

Now, once you are level 20, and you’ve got Cat form, it’s a hard decision. Again, to go Cat, you have to completely regear from your caster stuff with all new gear with Strength/Agility/Attack Power/Crit/Stam as your stat choices.

As a refresher, in Cat and Bear, 1 point of Strength equals 2 Attack Power, and in Cat form ONLY, 1 point of Agility equals 1 point of Attack Power.

I’m going to assume from your letter that you want to go Feral as you said, and my blessings upon you. I chose Feral because I love it… I’m not about what feels easiest, personally. Also, there is a lot more leather Cat gear than there is leather caster gear in early levels, thanks to our friends the Rogues.

Cat DPS is similar to a Rogue, you’ve got Stealth, you’ve got Finishing Moves and points, you use Energy as you use abilities, etc.

The biggest tradeoff is that you lose stunlock capability and massive evil in toying with your pray for the ability to shift out of Cat form to cast instant heal over time spells on yourself, and then shift into Bear to wear multiple opponents down.

I’m writing a series of articles about low level Bear tanking right now, and I wasn’t planning on talking about Cat DPS, because there are several great Cat DPS blogs.

But in general terms, as a player focused on Cat, you’ve got very good DPS. You’re DPS won’t be as big a burst out of the gate as a Rogue, but it will be very good compared to other melee. On single targets you’ll be extremely powerful, and I would level using Talents to maximize that Cat power.

Even so, the Feral Tree combines enough other things that your Bear form won’t just be an afterthought. 

And because of that, by maximizing Cat and keeping balanced Feral Gear, you’ll find that it’s multiple pulls where you’ll really tear things up if you take the time to have fun.

I’ll give you one example.

Say you’ve got three mobs in front of you. By level 30, you’ve got Bear Swipe and Maul, and in Cat form you’ve got Claw and Rip. You’ve also got both Rejuvenation and Regrowth, and of course Entangling Roots.

Assume there is one caster in the group.

You can start in caster form at max range, cast Regrowth on yourself (while out of combat), cast an Entangling Roots at a melee fighting target far from the ranged mob (so you won’t be in melee range while dealing with the caster) and then pop into Bear and activate Enrage, run up to the ranged mob (Demoralyzing Roar) and begin going to town on both targets, using Glyphed Maul primarily on the caster, and Swipe of course, burning him down. 

The caster will die, and the Entangled target will probably be free and on you at this point. If you’re health is getting low, then you can cast Rejuvenation right from your button bar to automatically pop you into caster form, and then decide whether to pop back into Bear and keep going, or into Cat for faster DPS if you think you can take two at once.

Once the second one is dead, flip into Bear if you ain’t already there, Bash the last one to stun it, pop into caster and cast another Regrowth and Rejuve, and then leisurely finish him up.

I say this is a three mob pull, but honestly, I’ve done this for over 15 in a row, in a stream. Using Cat when low numbers of mobs are on you, Bear when you’ve got several, and Bash and Rejuvenation and Regrowth to keep health coming in as you go makes things very fun.

Sound difficult?

If so, then you might not really be cut out for Feral. You’ve got all these tools to use, and you can really use them to screw with the enemy by remembering your strengths;

  • Each form has a purpose.
  • Caster Form has solid DPS ranged spells, but instant cast heals over time that keep ticking regardless of what form you’re in are awesome.
  • Bear form is very durable, has attacks to hurt multiple mobs, especially if you’re geared appropriately and have a Rejuve and Regrowth ticking away on you. Plus, you get Maul Glyphed giving you big whacks on two targets, and a single target Bash stun for you to shift out and cast more heals.
  • Cat form is kinda squishy, but does great single target DPS, and if your health starts dropping, you’ve always got the Rejuve/Bear combo to fall back on.
  • Most of all, fast DPS in Cat at the cost of being squishy, or slow DPS in Bear with the benefit of greater mitigation and higher health from the same gear, gives you the power to use your judgment on the fly to decide what’s best in your current circumstances.

As far as a leveling Talent spec, what I’ll do is invite some of my blog readers that run their own awesome Feral Cat blogs to help you out. I’m really focused on that wierd subsect of people like me, that like to level as a focused Bear tank and play grouped the whole way. I’m not testing leveling a Cat druid at the moment, and what the heck… I’d love to see some attention go to the Cat Druid bloggers that rock.

I hope that some of what I’ve said helps, Chris, and I look forward to hearing more of your experiences as you level!

Idiots in PUGs, redux

Will this post share anything new?

Anything thou hast not already heard?


Still, this stuff amazes the heck out of me, I mean, aren’t we all a little past this crap by now?

Apparently not. And that’s why I am continuously amazed.

You know those bumper stickers, the ones that say “Mean people suck”, that we found witty a decade ago?

Yeah, they’re a cliche because it’s true, and because saying it does nothing… the mean people don’t seem to grasp the idea that, hey… we’re talking about you, asshole. Yeah, you. Omigod, no, not the person behind you, YOU!

Stop looking stupid, you know we’re talking about you. You were a dick, and you were busted on it. Play it off all you want, you’re still a dick. You know it, and we all certainly know it. And at the end of the day, it’s just a video game for the rest of us, and we log off and return to our happy lives, and you’re still a dick. 

Shall I share yet another tale of asshattedness in the trenches of a pug?

Well, heck, I’m just back from vacation, why not. I haven’t been cranky in, like, a week.

It’s a record.

So, only a few logged in for the guild, and in an instance. So, I’m in the mood to run something, and why not join a pug?

Why not, right? My friends and fellow players have commented in the blog quite often that I and I alone am unlucky enough to have bad pug groups, others never see that kind of thing. Maybe this time, things will be different.

Hope springs eternal, and all that.

I put myself in LFG as a healer, and almost immediately I am invited to a group, and the group leader, a DK named Bigdk says, in broken WoWglish, “ill tanks want to start a H ToC”.

Actually, not so bad as far as WoWglish goes. An actual sentence. This, this has possibilities. I will overlook, as much as possible, the fact that Bigdk could be short for “big dick”. It’s probably my imagination. It’s really just short for “Big Death Knight”, and the other possible connotation is simply a coincidence.

Unfortunately, that right there is what we in the writing biz call “foreshadowing”.

He forms up a group of other folks to DPS very quickly. No questions, no pauses, just BAM! there’s a group, formed from LFG.

We fly to Icecrown, summon the stragglers, enter the instance, and mount up. No real chit chat, except for Bigdk, who lets us know we’ll run out after champions are down.

Again, everything fast, smooth, minimum conversation. We’re here for business.

We burn down the mounted phase, run out, pop back in and buff up.

The group at this time consists of Bigdk the Death Knight tank, myself on Windshadow for tree heals, a Warlock named Cedeelia, a Death Knight for DPS named Darkskryer, and a Druid playing as Moonkin named Tryxter.

Pretty darn good group, I think. Should be solid.

After we buff up, we line up for the first pull. And then there is a long pause.

And then, without preamble, Bigdk says, “dark whats your dps”

Dark replies “bout 1.8, 1.9 usually.”

Bigdk replies “your half in tank gear”

Dark says, “I know, don’t have a full DPS set. Still allright though, just need a new weapon.”

Cedeelia asks, “Are we ready?”

Dark says, “Ready.”

And then Bigdk whispers me, saying “boot and replace now or ?”

And I just stare at the screen like I’ve lost my freaking mind.

WTF, over?

Let me tell you what my immediate response is, so you can then debate whether I went totally over the line or not. I’m cool with whatever your honest opinion is. I’m sure people take these things different ways, I understand.

But I whispered back, and said “Do it and I quit the run and put you on ignore. Does that make my feelings clear enough?”

Yes, that is what I said.

He then responded with “wwth” and “what the hell was that” and “why are you so rude to me”, and repeated the “Why are you being so rude” pretty continuously.

My response was “What you want to do to Dark is one of the most heinous things you can do to a player. You had him do the joust, what people call the hard part, and NOW you’re going to boot him?”

He repeated the “Why are so rude”, and then made me group leader and left the group. No words to the rest of the group at all, just bang, gone.

Seconds later, Tryxter left as well. Either a friend of Bigdk, or simply saw the tank leave and figured he’d have better luck elsewhere.

I explained to the party that Bigdk wanted to boot Dark for only having 1.8k dps, and that I told him I’d quit the run if he did, he didn’t like my attitude, so he left. I asked Cedeelia and Dark if they would be willing to continue on if I got a couple more people to fill out the group.

They both said sure, so I was fortunate enough to get Faydre to bring in his Druid to tank, and Cassie logged in with her Paladin specifically to fill out the group.

A very fast, brutally successful run later, and we parted ways, happy with our new loot.

While getting the party together, Bigdk continued to whisper me. Yes, after he had already left. No, I had not added him to my ignore list. I didn’t see the need. I only do that with spammers, or people that whisper me repeatedly when I’m trying to focus on a raid.

Anyway, he kept whispering me, telling me I’m a dick a few times, an asshole once, and then ordered me to put him on ignore so he wouldn’t have to see me ever again.

Umm… the only reason for him to want me to put him on ignore is if he intended to be one of those guys that sits in Dalaran and spends an afternoon on /2 Trade saying how nobody should run with “soandso”, they’re a ninja, and didn’t want me to know. But whatever, lifes too short.

 A very minor, very stupid event. But it just left me totally flabbergasted.

Who the hell invites people to a group, has them do part of an event, and only after they are successful starts doing gear checks and boots people that don’t measure up to his standards?

Hey, if he wanted to be stringent about gear levels and dps, then the time to do that, the only time to do that, was BEFORE we started the run.

Technically, Dark wasn’t saved to the instance. He wouldn’t have been locked out of doing the entire joust in another group all over again. Yay, how considerate.

That’s just bullshit on a level I can barely even come close to comprehending. How do you think doing that to someone is cool, and think someone else telling you they’ll leave your ass in the dust if you try to pull that shit is being rude?

Am I missing something here? We are still people sitting behind these keyboards, right? Other players aren’t like bots or something that you can use like a tissue for what you want, and then toss aside after, are they?

I mean, come on. I can see some asshat doing that to other people because they are afraid they suck as a tank and need to be carried, or something, but then acting like he was absolutely 100% in the right and that I was the one being “rude, a dick, and an asshole” for telling him that if he booted Dark I’d leave too?

I was blunt, I’ll grant you that. I wasn’t ambivalent, I wasn’t wishy-washy or passive or fucking meek. I was in-your-face confrontational when presented with something that struck me as being complete bullshit.

Maybe my approach was what was wrong. Maybe I was supposed to be what folks call “tactful” these days, meaning I should’ve kissed his ass and been all mild and said “No, please let’s not boot him. I’m sure it will be fine, let’s just go ahead with the run.”

See, I could have done that. But that’s not what I was thinking. What I was thinking was, “If you didn’t want to share loot with another plate wearer or death knight, you should’ve thought of that before you invited him and had him do the joust, asshole.”

I’m curious to get your thoughts on this kind of thing. On whether booting someone after doing well in the game and helping the party, but before they are saved is fine, and about whether my response was appropriate, over the top, or what.

Sometimes, I think I’m just losing my grip.

Added thoughts after some dinner;

You know, in hindsight, I did react more strongly to what he said to me than I would’ve normally. I wouldn’t have been quite so ‘all up in his face’ about it in other circumstances. The difference between a normal reaction and how I felt was that, the moment he whispered me, he brought me, personally, into a kind of partnership with him, against my will.

The way it felt to me at the time was that his whispering me in that way said that he assumed I was one of ‘his people’, someone that WOULD do that kind of thing to someone else. Someone that would hold a whispered huddle behind another players’ back like that in mid-run. And that’s what got me. He brought me into his bullshit little world, going behind Dark’s back to decide whether or not to boot him from a run he had already contributed to.

If Bigdk had announced in party chat, after hearing that Dark had 1.8 dps, that he was going to remove Dark from the group at that time because Bigdk thought his dps wasn’t high enough for a heroic, I would NOT have felt as emotionally invested in what had happened. Not even close.

It would not have changed the outcome, though.

I would have said in party chat that if Dark left then I’d take off too, that wouldn’t have changed, since I’m not going to play those kind of BS games. If Bigdk had insisted on kicking him, I would still have tried to revive the group. Emotionally, I wouldn’t have been as upset. I would have felt more like “ah, another elitist dick, whatever” and moved on to working the problem to a solution that resulted in fun for those that, well, had earned it by not being a dick, and probably never have thought twice about it.

It’s kind of funny to me now, that what Bigdk seemed to think was a compliment, that he was including ‘the healer’ in on the decision to boot a member of the DPS behind the back of the rest of the party, was the one exact thing that just sent my blood pressure into the red zone.

Away on vacation!

A very short one, and I’ll be worrying about work the entire time I’m gone.

In the meantime, if you try and email me, I am not ignoring you, I’m just not there.

It’s only after I get back that I’ll start ignoring you.

While you’re waiting, why not go visit Tish Tosh Tesh? He’s got a contest going on!

And while you’re there, be sure and say Hi!

I'm up, they see me, I'm down!

I wanted to talk briefly about what I’ve been doing, aside from testing lower level Bear tanking by observing a low level Bear in it’s natural habitat (ie in the middle of a big group of mobs).

What I’ve been doing is playing an alt. An alt I know absolutely nothing about. And I ain’t researching how to do it on a blog.

I’ve got a little Rogue, oh yes I do. It’s my “I love Craft of War: Blind” obsession toon.

It is my Heirloom sink. I have both Heirloom swords, one with Crusader and the other with Fiery (because it looks pretty), the leather Emblem Hit Rating Heirloom shoulders, and one Haste Rating Heirloom trinket.

Yes, I do want the Heirloom chest armor and one more Haste trinket. I just haven’t sunk the Emblems into it yet. Besides the fact that it’ll benefit this toon, it’ll position me well for a Worgen Druid when Cataclysm releases in 2011 ( I try not to get my hopes up.)

But what I do have is a full set of Defias armor to go with my shoulders and neat glowy swords.

I’ve been leveling Combat, and I’ve been trying to tackle stuff solo, no run throughs.

Around the mid-20s, I tanked for a Shadow Priest of appropriate level in Lakeshire, and that felt very challenging. Holding threat on multiple targets is tricky as a Rogue, oh yes it is. Especially when doing the escort quest in Redridge Mountains, taking that wounded Corporal Keegan through the caverns filled with Blackrock Orcs, and everything has respawned, and those little bastards Imps are fireballing you from everywhere….


No, really, it was! I just wish I had a “cause excess threat” move on a Rogue, because Shadow Priest damage can be pretty powerful.

We get Feint, I think we should also get the “Inigo Montoya” move. When you activate it, your character pauses, flourishes his/her weapons, and the enemy freaks out and charges like a crazed berserker.

Anyway, I only thought that lakeshire was challenging.

I found the pinnacle of challenging fun this weekend.

I was in Wetlands around level 28, and went to help those besieged Dwarves in Dun Modr against the Dark Iron Dwarves.

They wanted me to help them out by killing 10 Dark Iron Dwarves, 5 Saboteurs, 5 Demolitionists, and 5 of some other damn thing.

Now, I’ve got a choice. There is that fort right there in front of me, shooting and throwing explosives at the Dwarves… or I could go find some of the camps over where Belegar has an ear waiting to be taken.

The choice? Fight in close quarters, room clearing operations in the fortress, or do nice peaceful ranged pulls in open air with plenty of line of sight.

Oh hell yes, cover me boys, I’m going in!

Damn, that was awesome.

I went in straight at first, I’m 28 and they range from 28 to 30, no Stealth, swords held high.

I pulled one, took him and his friend, took the first two adds that came running, and the next one, and then the one after, and then started looking for the damn Vanish button. Whoops! Too late!

Okay, after I rezzed and ran back, it was time to re-evaluate.

Maybe, and this is just a thought, maybe I’m not a leather wearing dual wielding warrior. Maybe I should try a slightly different approach.

I went through my button bars and started looking for abilities to arrange in combat mode. 

I activated Stealth and arranged my bar there for sneaky abilities.

Hey, I’ve got something called Gouge! Neat! Hey, what the hell is Cheap Shot? When did I get that?

Oh wow, this looks shiny!

I went back in with a brand new bag.

I started out in Stealth, used Distract, Sapped a mob, Cheap Shotted his buddy, burned him down before he had a chance to touch me, Gouged a third running in and tackled another, and DAMNIT I had a blast!

I felt like a frenzied whirlwind of destruction.

But a quiet, sneaky little frenzied whirlwind.

I cleared the whole place just for fun, sneaking past mobs with a Distract toss in the appropriate direction to slip into the bar, clearing over here, Cheap Shotting over there, Sap-Sap-Sapping away.

I actually Pickpocketed a mob! No, for reals!

Having to deal with lots of mobs, each of which were individually tough (those Demolitionists are tough little hairy buggers), all of whom are close together with lots of patrolling buddies just within earshot, made me have to do something horrible.

I had to learn2play.

Seriously, it was challenging, it was new and different, and the abilities I had available were just what I needed to get the job done.

More than anything else, it was memorable.

I can burn down Raptors in seconds, and it doesn’t really feel that powerful. It’s just doing what you do for a quest. Pull, attack, dead, NEXT!

Struggling against crowds of mobs all your level, knowing you’ve been given the tools to get it done, and that if you fail, it was because it was your skill and wits that didn’t measure up. That is what made it memorable. 

And this wasn’t in an end game raid. It wasn’t in a new Heroic.

It was just me and a little level 28 alt.

I don’t know, I’m starting to wonder if I should branch out, try a different tree. Maybe get myself a pair of Daggers, and begin exploring the esoterica of Mutilation or Subtlety.

I sure wish I knew a couple folks that played a Rogue, so I could ask some questions. Sigh.

/ducks the thrown knives of Kaelyn, Jess and Cassie.

Oh, and I’m on vacation starting tonight, and going through to the weekend. I’m gonna be swimming in the Wisconsin Dells, so until then… have fun, everyone!

Bear tanking mini-guides will resume this weekend. Bye!

How to Bear Tank the Lower Levels Part 1: Gear

Hello, and welcome to what will hopefully be a helpful little series of mini-guides to tanking on your Feral Druid at the lower levels of content.

The situation is one I should have addressed a long, long time ago.

You make a Druid alt, your friend or loved one creates a squishy clothie alt, and the suggestion gets floated that you play together as you level, and the Druid levels as Feral and does the tanking.

First, welcome to the party! It’s good to have you here!

Playing a Feral Druid may seem daunting, especially if you’ve never played as a tank before, and especially if you’ve never leveled a class that tanked at lower levels.

“What do I do? How does this work? Why are those three mobs beating holy heck out of me?!? Hey, I thought I was a tank, and those suckers HURT!!! What am I doing wrong?”

Relax, and let your worries go. It’s really not that bad. There is a lot that you can choose to learn to help things go easy for you, but the core is fairly simple;

If you are tanking, your goal is to grab ’em all, hold ’em all, and still be standing at the end of the fight.

If you are already accomplishing that, then grats… you’re a tank!

See, this is what we mean by Rogue tanks and Boomkin tanks, etc. If you can grab ’em all, hold ’em all, and still be standing at the end, you tanked. Rogues have successfully tanked many things, through guile and kill and a smart mix of itemization, Talents, dodge-tanking and picking their targets wisely.

If, while accomplishing those three phases of the mission, you also did some decent damage, then it’s a bonus. But doing high DPS is mst definitely NOT required.  

The first part of this series of mini-guides will give you some guidance on what to look for in terms of gear, and why.

When soloing, the Cat form of a Feral Druid acts most like a Rogue, but without quite as many evil distracting and stunning tricks. For the purposes of this guide, I’m going to talk mostly about gear for the hopeful leveling tank. The gear you will choose will also be adequate to do solo kitty DPS. It just won’t be optimized for that role. I’ll explain the difference in a little while.

First, what do Bear Tank Druids wear?

Bears wear leather armor for preference, always looking for the highest armor value available.

In Bear form, which you can get at level 10, the amount of armor contribution you get from cloth and leather items is multiplied by 180%.

Additionally, Stamina is multiplied by 25%. We’ll go into that after armor.

Bear form lasts until level 40, when you can get Dire Bear form, which boosts that armor contribution up to 370%.

You can increase this contribution even more by taking three Talent points in Thick Hide for +10% armor contribution (available at level 8), and by taking 3/3 of Survival of the Fittest making you immune to critical strikes from enemies 3 or less levels above you, and +33% armor contribution from items (available at level 34).

The easiest answer to the “Why am I so squishy” question is usually, “Are you trying to tank three of four things at once at level 30? Because you’re tanking in the equivalent of Mail armor.”

Warriors and Paladins also get an armor boost at level 40, they go from using nothing but Mail, to being able to equip Plate. Bears are fortunate, we still use the same type of armor, we just get more out of it.

Why is a high armor value important? What does it do for me, anyway?

The short answer is, the higher your armor value, the less actual damage that gets through per hit from physical attacks.

Here’s a simple scenario. You are fighting three mobs, two Orc Warriors and an Orc Warlock. The two Warriors are up in your face, and beating on you, but they’re not doing much damage. Hey, you must be a badass! Then the Warlock starts casting, and your health drops like a big rock in a still pond. Thwump! Down you go.

Armor reduces, lessens, mitigates physical damage. It doesn’t do a blessed thing against magic. Hence, the age old battle cry, “Kill the casters first!”

Well, wait a minute. How the heck do I mitigate that magic damage, then?

Well, there are basically three ways to deal with magic damage.

First, have a ton of Stamina/Health to eat the blasts, and focus on killing the bastard first.

Second, wait until level 49 and be 100% in the Feral Talent tree, so you can be 3/3 in Protector of the Pack, which reduces all damage you take by 12%, including magic.

Or third, look for gear that has Resistance to the particular school of magic damage you’re going to suffer, like Fire Resistance or Frost Resistance. You used to see this a lot for raiding in places with mostly Fire based damage, such as Molten Core. You still see this with some tanks preparing for Sapphiron in Naxxramas. It doesn’t really have much business in the early levels, though.

Until you’re level 49 (assuming you DO go 100% Feral), your best bet is stack as much Stamina as possible, and target the casters first.

So, armor is covered.

Next priority is the Stamina. As I said, the higher your health, the better when tanking. Can’t go wrong choosing good Stamina. Your bear and Dire Bear forms and the Talent Heart of the Wild all multiply your Stamina, so when choosing between a flat Health enchant or a Stamina enchant, the Stamina is better.

After Stamina, the next core Bear stat is Agility. Put down, the pitchforks, I’ll explain.

Agility is a controversial stat when leveling a Feral Druid, because it does different things depending on whether you are in Cat form or Bear form.

In both forms, Agility provides an increased chance that attacks will be critical strikes, and also increases your chance to Dodge an attack.

  • In Cat form, 1 point of Agility gives you 1 Attack Power. Your attacks that get through do more damage.
  • In Bear form, Agility provides no Attack Power bonuses at all.

Strength, on the other hand, provides 2 Attack Power per 1 point of Strength in BOTH forms.

Strength is great for doing damage in both forms, and since the random enchantment on Leather gear that has Strength and Stamina is called “of the Bear”, it’s a reasonable assumption to believe it’s for Bear tanks.

Don’t get me wrong, Strength is great on your gear. But if you have a choice between Stamina/Agility and Stamina/Strength, take the Agility for the increased Dodge.

So, we’ve got Armor value, Stamina, Agility (and Dodge Rating at higher levels), and Strength.

After these, while you’re leveling, you will find Attack Power, Critical Strike, Hit Rating and Expertise very useful.

Once you are able to gain the Talent Primal Fury (available at level 26, technically), Critical Strike and Agility both combine to help your Rage generation, so Critical Strike moves past Attack Power and Hit and Expertise. You’ll be getting Expertise as soon as you take Primal Precision, anyway.

Once you can get 3/3 in Natural Reaction, so your successful Dodges also get you Rage back, you’ll be loving all that Agility and Dodge Rating you’ve been stacking.

that should do it for gear choices, until you get much higher level.

Once Defense Rating and Dodge Rating become pretty common, you’ll have to factor them in to your decisions.

In talking about Defense, there are two skills, Defense and Defense Rating. Defense is Defense. 25 points of Defense equals 1% Miss, Parry, Dodge and Block. It also serves to reduce the chance you can be struck by a critical attack (not so important with Survival of the Fittest for us Bears).

Defense seems pretty valuable, right?

Well, keep in mind Bears to not Block or Parry. We don’t use weapons, and we don’t have shields. So 2 out of 4 benefits of Defense are wasted. Alo, the biggest draw for the stat is reaching the Uncrittable cap, which Bears can ignore due to Survival of the Fittest.

Defense Rating is by far a key stat for Paladins, Warriors and Death Knights (I think, don’t know much about DK tanks, sorry), and really not a Bear stat. If something with it drops, please check for Plate wearing tanks that might want it before rolling on it, hmm?

Still, Miss and Dodge, mmm tasty, right? Why isn’t it a key Bear stat?

Well, hold on just a moment.

Defense Rating is not the same as Defense. It takes varying amounts of Defense Rating to get just one point of Defense. The higher you are in level, the more Defense Rating you need to get just 1 point. And it’s Defense Rating that’s on gear.

At level 80, you need 123 Defense Rating for 1% Dodge and 1% Miss. That’s a lot of Defense Rating.

Now, there is one other stat to think about and compare.

Dodge Rating.

Dodge Rating is more effective for Bear tanks than straight Defense Rating, because it only takes 45.25 Dodge Rating to get 1% Dodge.

No, you’re not getting Miss at the same time, but keep in mind that whole “When I miss I get Rage” thing. Getting 90/5 Dodge Rating gets you 2% Dodge, and that’s mighty fine.

Now, I’m not going to go into Diminishing Returns. I’m just not doing it again. This is supposed to NOT make your brain hurt.

Let’s just say taht, when you start tanking at low levels, the Agility and Crit and Expertise are all very potent. But as you level, it takes more of each stat to get the same effects. And as you really get high in level, and really get tons and tons of stats, the amount of stat you need for the same effect keeps growing.

Has no effect on you in the early game, just a way of making it super hard to ever reach a perfect 100% Dodge, that’s all.

As far as gear goes, just remember;

  • Armor Value (multiplies from leather and cloth only, not trinkets, rings, weapons or necklaces)
  • Stamina
  • Agility (and Dodge Rating later)
  • Strength
  • Critical Strike Chance (after Primal Fury)
  • Hit Rating (until you have enough to reliably hit your targets)
  • Attack Power
  • Expertise (don’t need that much, Primal Precision helps a lot at low levels)

What does this mean for Heirloom items, btw?

Well, it means that of the choices for Feral Druids:

Repurposed Lava Dredger 65 Emblems of Heroism
Two-Hand Mace
361 – 542 Speed 2.90
(156.0 damage per second)
+68 Agility
+103 Stamina
+15 Fire Resistance
Requires level 1 – 80 (80)
Item level 1
Increases attack power by 1417 in Cat, Bear, Dire Bear, and Moonkin forms only.
Equip: Increases your armor penetration rating by 45.
Equip: Increases attack power by 91.

That’s the best item of all of them right there. Agility and Stamina out the wazoo.

After that, believe it or not is the PvP Heirloom Shoulders.The Exceptional Stormshroud Shoulders have Agility, Stamina and Attack Power, while the Emblem shoulders only have Stamina, Hit Rating and Attack Power. Not bad at all, just not optimized. 🙂

If you have the Emblems, the new 40 Emblem of Heroism (or 60 Champion Seal) Chestpiece is quite nice, because it scales with your level, always providing you with a solid Armor Value for your level, plus good Stamina. My only wish is that they had put Agility on it instead of Attack Power. Ah, well.

See you again soon for pulling mobs and aggro management!

Stinky old cheater!

Yeah… that would be me!

I cheated, it’s true.

Whats more, I’m proud of it!

I cheated, and I’d do it again. I’m unrepentant. I’m also incorrigible, curmudgeonly and irascible, but we’ll leave my hygiene out of it.

What did I do?



I played other MMOs this weekend while BlizzCon was going on.

Hells yes I did!

This last weekend was open Beta testing for Champions Online, and I scored a beta key from Fileplanet, downloaded and installed the software, and fired that sucker up.

Anyone that has played City of Heroes would have felt right at home… it is, after all, a superhero MMO by Cryptic Studios that shares a lot of the same design team.

Overall, I quite enjoyed it.

I created three different characters, prowling around in the creation process. Then I played each one a little to ease into the various different feels in archetypes… and then I played one all the way through the big starter event and into the next chapter of the game, where you get to upgrade your character with new powers.

So, I saw a good bit of Champions Online, and the first thing I noticed was, for a Beta, that sucker felt rock solid on my system. I had one crash, which took me to an integrated bug reporting system. It happened when I was changing screen resolution and graphics settings on the fly, not when I was actually playing.

I also played Dragonica, which went live last week. Umm, I’m sure Dragonica is a good game, but it didn’t do anything for me. It’s free to play, so by all means try it, but I had a hard time getting used to the 2D gameplay without mouse use. Kinda had a fun old school fighting game feel, but it’s not what I was in the mood for at the time.

As far as Champions, I have mentioned before that I liked City of Heroes a lot when it came out, so Champions Online excited me. I was really grateful for the chance to try it out. I tried to do all sorts of things and interact with it a lot, give it a chance to succeed or crash. 🙂

Character creation left me feeling a little… well, odd. On the one hand, when compared to City of Heroes, it’s a success. It continues the theme of customization, and added even more neat options. Things like flowing capes and such are clearly integrated and available right from the start, but even more than that, some costume choices are accompanied by graphic animations in the game.

A spoiler; at level 5, you gain new powers. You gain one new power of your choice in your archetype… and you can select a travel power. At level 5. And I don’t mean the “hover as fast as your granny walks”, I mean teleportation, super-leaping, and 5 or 6 versions of flight, where you take off like a bat out of hell. The versions are various graphics associated with your choice of flight, like flame body, or ice surfboard and contrail, or just flight, or rocket boots, etc. And super-speed running, etc of course.

Well, there are many various types of wings you can choose when you create your character. If you’d like, anyway. Butterfly wings, beetle wings, angelic, draconian, demonic, etc, plus of course you choose colors and stuff.

Well, I saw level 5 characters that had selected wings, and when they used a flight power… the wings flap very realistically. Yes, those wing choices at character creation animate when using flight powers. Very, very cool.

After a while, though, the sheer number of options left me feeling irritated.

You could craft a custom made character with some insanely cool appearances… but in order to do so took hours of planning, testing, choosing and discarding options, and trying to find where in the massive list of variations what you hoped to find was lurking.

Yes, I am grateful that you can make a great personalized character. I had a lot of fun doing so. But there were also random buttons… and let me tell you, when you’ve got THAT many different choices that are outright wierd, like peg legs and skeleton limbs and demon faces and bug faces and stuff, plus every color scheme in the universe, hitting random leaves you with nothing but muddled crap.

I know it sounds like I’m complaining… and I guess I am. I think when you’ve got such a powerful tool, there should perhaps be a tutorial about how to use it… OR, perhaps a basic mode that let’s you choose a basic archetype, where each individual option that is tied to another can be selected as a kit.

What am I talking about?

If you choose a skintight chest costume, you can choose various theme designs. One of those is a fairly nice flame theme.

Every other costume piece also has that same design option nested somewhere in a menu… and if all you want to do is have your entire costume use that theme, you have to dig through various menus trying to see where they are all hidden.

Being able to select the basic “skintight flame” package, and then choose accessories like goggles, finned boots, a cape and a color scheme would have cut a half hour off the process.

Why mention it?

You don’t even want to know how hideous most characters I saw in the game looked. Damn, Bozo, lose your balloons? Aren’t there some kids and a pony you’re supposed to be terrifying somewhere?

Anyway, as far as gameplay and quest design and controls, I was delighted. You could see how they’ve learned from other MMOs what works, what doesn’t, and chose well.

The combat scheme is more fast paced, it incorporates the ability to block attacks like a very lightweight fighting game, you can interact with the environment as you play, and if you choose to fly you can even swoop in and use ranged attacks from overhead while hovering in place. Very fun.

At one point, as I fought two mobs of slimy aliens, my son noticed that I was standing next to a mailbox, and a little clickable message had popped up asking if I wanted to pickup the mailbox.

I clicked it, and my character reached over, picked up the mailbox, and my attack bar changed to buttons that let me start wailing away, pounding on the aliens with the mailbox until it broke.

My son was a BIG fan of this. He began directing me to go grab things to smack aliens with. Like lampposts. And cars.

A function very like Questhelper is built right in. When you get a quest, you can see on your map green circles showing you where on the map is the area where that quest can be completed… you mouse over a green circle on your map, and the name of the quest pops up, too. No in-game arrows, but you can keep track of quest routes fairly well.

I made three characters, a power armored robot death machine, a black panther claw wielding brawler, and an archer.

I hated the power armor, using powers felt slow and clunky, awkward. The claw brawler was fun… but stuff died too fast for me to feel in control. I’d right click, and auto-attack would have a target dead before I got a chance to try any abilities out.

The archer… the archer was a lot of fun. Ranged sniping was okay, but the power attack, an arrow you can charge up, was like wielding a cannon. You had a fast barrage of arrows that was like hitting a bad guy with wasp stings, and a slow attack that used energy up, but the longer you held the attack and charged the arrow, the bigger the boom when you released. It lent the feel of strategy… when to ping and when to pound, and for how long.

Really, giving you the kick ass travel abilities at level 5 also really felt grand.

My only complaint… my ONLY compaint about the game (assuming you ignore my bleating about character design), is that it felt a little cold, and it was all battle, all the time.

What I mean is, when you are in WoW, you have many places you can travel where you are simply exploring, or hanging out, or chilling and relaxing. You can sightsee in Azeroth undisturbed by mobs or encounters. The single biggest place for this are the capitol cities, where there is no PvP, and there are no mobs.

In Champions, much like City of Heroes before it, the city itself is a war zone, and all areas you travel to are besieged at all times by goons menacing civilians. You cannot travel 15 feet in any direction without some encounter waiting to happen, some villain to beat on, some citizen in distress.

I don’t like the feel that logging into the game is placing you into an ever-present war. I like being able to walk down the street of a city and not have to think, “No thank you ma’am, you’re on your own. I just saved 400 citizens this morning from being mugged, buy yourself a can of mace and shut the hell up.”

Of course, the alien invasion may have been a special event and the normal city of Champions will be much more peaceful. Or maybe most people DO like the constant havok. It was just a little thing.

But I do know that after I logged off Champions, I logged into WoW, and took my Troll Hunter to the coastline, and peacefully watched the sunset. Just me and my raptor sharing a quiet night looking at the stars. And I found more fun in that moment than I’d had all day.