Bears and Other Tanking Changes in 4.2

The Firelands are coming! A little too soon for me, since my guild is still one boss away from fully completing all the content, but I’ll welcome a change in environment. Even though the change is from one fire-covered city and shadowy tower with a fire-covered basement to an entire fire-covered realm

For the full list of changes, go here.

As always, my Bear Guide and Gear List have been updated to reflect 4.2 changes.

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How to Apply to Raiding Guilds: The Feral Flavored Version

I was inspired by WoW Insider’s recent Encrypted Text and Spiritual Guidance articles on how to apply to a guild as a rogue and priest, respectively. Both are excellent articles with advice that applies to everyone, not just those classes. I recommend anyone who’s looking for a new raiding guild to read them.

Here are my own recommendations for guild applications, from general use to bears and cats.

Your guild application is your first and likely your only chance to make a good impression. Do not waste the opportunity. With the right application, you can get a main tanking spot in a guild with heroic raid progression when you’ve done nothing more than five man dungeons (well, at least I did). With the wrong app, you can get ignored or silently ridiculed behind your back.

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Feral Macros

Macros are necessary for simplifying many aspects of the game, so even though they make for very boring blog posts, I’ll suck it up and write one like a good bear. I use macros for condensing multiple similar spells into one button and for removing the less-interesting decisions from my to-do list. I don’t approve of complex cast sequence macros for ferals because they can easily mess up and they can never replace your own brain power. They’re both lazy and inefficient, and never even work well with bears or cats.

Also, never, EVER macro all of your cooldowns together. Each cooldown has a use, and blowing multiple or even all of your cooldowns at once, without thought, is a bad habit to get into.

With that in mind, here are the macros I do use, for both bear and cat.

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Bear Repsonse to Ask the Devs # 9: Tanking

Today’s Ask the Devs answers were exactly as I predicted. Blizzard never announces anything new or super insightful in this series (that’s what their official blogs and Dev Watercolers are for), and they often answer questions that pop up a lot with newbies but make veterans cringe. I don’t really mind the newbie questions; I think too many people forget how difficult it can be for a brand new or returning player to jump into the information ocean that is World of Warcraft, and that they have the same right to answers as us more seasoned players do.

Anyway, on to the things that might interest bears!

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Why Worgen Bears Are Best Bears

Sometimes people wonder why I play a Worgen bear. “Aren’t night elves the best tanks?” they say. True, Quickness is a strong racial for tanking; 2% more avoidance is awesome. But Shadowmeld is useless to the serious tank. I guess you could argue that Shadowmeld shines when you want to piss off your five man pug, but you wouldn’t do that in a raid, would you?

So here are the reasons why everyone should be a Worgen.

1. Darkflight is the best racial of all time. It’s a sprint you can use in bear form! While Quickness will save you from 2% damage over the duration of an encounter, Darkflight can flat out save you (or your teammates) from death. Need to quickly position a boss? Darkflight. Need to dodge a Squall Line? Darkflight. Need to pick up adds that are spread out and attacking your healers? Darkflight. Need to kite? Need to get out of ooze puddles? There are so many uses for it, and most uses will prevent more damage than a measly 2% miss. It’s also a strong racial for both PvE and PvP.

Not enough spare rage to use Stampeding Roar, but you have to get it fast before the damage dealers pull.

2. While Viciousness, that 1% crit bonus, doesn’t compare to the raw damage mitigation value of Quickness, it is useful for every spec you can play. It increases your chance to proc Savage Defense, and increases your damage in both bear and cat form. I often argue that a bear’s strongest utility is its ability to deal damage on the side, and this racial supports the strong hybrid-tendencies of a feral druid.

3. You have a total of 9 possible forms: bear, cat, human, worgen, flight, seal, tree, moonkin, and travel form. That’s just so druid. You can throw off your guildmates by going into human form. “Who is this funny looking human with feathers in her hair OMG IT’S THE BEAR!” You are also fuzzy or feathery at all times (except for human times).

4. You never have to buy a mount. With Running Wild and Flight Form, your travel needs are met as soon as you reach the required level. There’s also the hidden bonus of having a very small profile in both travel forms, so you can sneak up on an enemy without being noticed.

5. You get a cute, fuzzy mane. No other bears get fuzzy manes.

6. You can be a steampunk bear. Taurens are earth-loving hippies, trolls are witch doctors and animal god worshipers, night elves sleep for a long time and talk about Elune. But you, my transformed Gilnean friend, you come from a world of industry and technology! You can put on goggles without wearing them ironically. You can put spiked gloves on your paws just because that’s how Gilnean druids do it.

Not an ironic bear

7. Most importantly, your hair doesn’t disappear when you wear a helm. Taurens lose their precious ears when they equip most helms; night elves and trolls lose their hair. But worgens always get to show off their style! (Well, sometimes we lose our ears, but usually it doesn’t look funny when we do.)

There’s a flat spot where this tauren’s ears should be. Creepy.

So there you have it. It it wasn’t for the pure awesomeness of troll druid forms, I would bid every druid to reroll worgen. They’re just that good.

How to Make Tanking More Interactive

The Problem with Passive Tanks

One of the questions I saw popping up a few times in the Ask a Dev: Tanking thread concerned the lack of active defenses for tanks. That is, tanks rely on passive stats like dodge, parry, block/Savage Defense, and base damage reduction to survive. Death Knights, with Death Strike, Blood Shield, and a handful of minor cooldowns actually have a healthy amount of active control over their defenses, so this question doesn’t apply to them as much as it does Druids, Warriors, and Paladins.

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The Best Part of the Dungeon Journal

My guild is semi-hardcore. We try really hard to stay in the US top 100 (and usually fall just short), we raid every weeknight, and we often have to develop strategies for bosses that haven’t been the highlight of a TankSpot of Learn2Raid video yet.

A semi-hardcore guild like mine doesn’t jump into a fight blind. No, we’ve had a hundred or so guilds do it before us; ours is not the place to reinvent the wheel. Instead, we scour the parses of guilds that have successfully completed a fight. We google the far corners of the internet searching for incoherent hints and pieces of strategy, put them back together, and assemble a plan.

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How to be a Feral Hybrid

Ferals, with two roles smushed into a single specialization, are the strongest hybrid in the game. To make the most of your chosen feral spec, you should learn how to play both cat form and bear form to the best of your ability.

I spend about half my progression raids as cat, half as bear. While I think part of this is due to my guild’s Divine Guardian guilt (“we really like bears, but Divine Guardian is just so overpowered that we’re forced to use two paladin tanks; here, have a dps cookie”), it’s unmistakeable that bears bring the best off tank dps around. Bear and cat specs are nearly identical, and their gear is interchangeable. Holding your own as a bear-cat hybrid will take some extra gold and preparation, but the end result is that you become invaluable to your guild as both a tank and damage dealer.

Apparently a bearcat is actually a thing.

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4.2 PTR for Ferals — A First Look

The newest PTR has been released, and so far things are looking good. First off, here are the patch notes as relating to druids.

Many crowd control abilities no longer cause creatures to attack players when they are cast. The creature will not attack the player when the crowd control wears off, and nearby creatures will not become hostile to the player either. However, if a visible player gets too close to the target creature, the creature will remember and attack the player when the crowd control effect wears off. The intent is to make it easier for dungeon groups to manage crowd control assignments and pulling packs of hostile NPCs. The abilities affected by this change are: Hibernate, Entangling Roots, Wyvern Sting (will still cause hostility when it begins to deal damage), Freezing Trap, Polymorph, Repentance, Shackle Undead, Blind, Hex, Bind Elemental, Banish, Seduction.

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Thoughts From My Free-to-Play Days

I started out my MMOing career with free-to-play games, commonly abbreviated as f2p. Actually, it probably went more like chat rooms -> Neopets -> free MMOs, but I’m not here to talk about internet creepers or angel paintbrushes. I think I started playing MMOs about a year before WoW came out, and then well into the first two years of its existence. The last two years of high school were spent with my face buried in a CRT monitor, burning away six to eight hours a day grinding in these games (high school is a weird time for most people). Thanks to that, I’d like to think I know (or knew) a bit about hardcore f2p MMOs.

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