First of all, what can we glean from Ghostcrawler’s recent blog posts about the changes? They haven’t said anything specific for bears, but they’ve dropped some hints.
We define [active mitigation] as hitting buttons regularly that have a meaningful impact on your future mitigation.
As an aside, the Feral druid’s mitigation is arguably the most passive right now, and we’d want to change things like Savage Defense to be active buttons under this model.
From these two comments, I expect they plan on making Savage Defense into Blood Shield. They don’t seem to be a huge fan of Death Strike’s heal, so they probably won’t include that in the feral model. My guess is that instead of proccing a small bubble on critical hits, we’ll proc a large bubble on a specific attack. We don’t know much more than that.
The Three Active Tanking Models
They mention three different models to make this happen. They seem to prefer the third one, but they don’t say so explicitly.
Model One: Tank DPS matters
Model Two: DPS buttons provide mitigation
Model Three: DPS buttons build up resources
It feels like Model 1 is already in effect; tank dps matters in 10 man content, though not so much in 25 man. Nothing would change if this is what they went with.
Model 2 is a step up, though druids already have a form of it. They mention that its drawbacks are severe: you feel weak when you don’t have a mitigation buff up, and when you’re forced to do things other than hitting the boss you can’t help yourself.
If they went with this model, I imagine it would look like this: Mangle procs a Savage Defense shield. Either this shield is somehow based on attack power and crit (to keep us scaling with our dps gear), or it’s a bubble akin to Blood Shield that is based off the last attack received.
I’d prefer somehow scaling with attack power and crit because that’s a unique feral flavor that the other tanks don’t have, but it does have the same draw backs that the current Savage Defense is subject to. I would like to see a shield that is a size relative to our attack power, but has a chance to “crit”, i.e. to be double the normal size, relative to our critical strike chance. The problem with this model is that we push Mangle an awful lot, and we also dodge an awful lot, so we might be stuck with trying to save SD procs by not pushing Mangle but instead get a string of dodges. That’s great for our mitigation, boring for tanking.
Model 3 relies on resources. Obviously for Paladins that resource is Holy Power, and for DKs that resource is runes. Warriors and Druids are left in the dark. Bears do have an unconventional resource in Lacerate stacks, however, which we already use for Pulverize. It’s not a traditional sort of resource, but it’s enough.
What if we consumed Lacerate stacks and instead of Pulverize granting 9% crit, it granted a bubble that absorbed damage? The problem with this model is that we might choose to never hit Mangle because keeping three stacks of Lacerate available will help our mitigation the most.
What about the rest of our rotation?
That’s the big worry about any active mitigation changes: granting one ability a defensive component might render our other abilities useless. What we really need is a rotation similar to a full-time damage dealer’s rotation. Most damage dealers have to push all their buttons, not just the ones that deal the most damage. There are buttons, like Mangle, that must be used because they increase the damage of other abilities. There are abilities, like Rip, that don’t deal a huge amount of damage up front, but they provide enough damage that they’re still worth using. There are abilities that are the heavy hitters and can be used when everything else is set up, like Shred and Ferocious Bite. Maybe tanking can be similar.
For instance, what if we had a “heavy hitter” damage mitigation ability tied to Lacerate Stacks. This would be something that we can use fairly often, but we can’t spam it and we have to prepare for it. For this example, let’s say it’s the bubble I described earlier. In addition to that, we had smaller mitigation abilities, like Mangle had a chance to grant a small heal and the Trash debuff increased the Pulverize shield.
With this new mitigation model, we need a reason to hit all of our buttons. Our primary rotation consists of Mangle, Lacerate, and Pulverize. We throw in Thrash and Faerie Fire for good measure, though I don’t consider those our core abilities (to be honest, we could use more core abilities). Hopefully the PTR will be available soon, so we can start giving feedback.