The Mists of Pandaria talent calculator has just been updated, incorporating some feedback from the community and moving further towards the vision Blizzard has for the future.
There are some major changes for feral druids:
- Savage defense: 60 rage, Reduces all physical damge by 80% for 3 seconds
- Mastery: Nature’s Guardian: Increases your armor by 9.6%. Each point of Mastery increases your armor by an additional 1.2%
I’m not as sure whether this item is a change from the previous version, but it’s significant as well:
- Lacerate has no rage cost and has a 3 second cooldown.
Savage Defense and Mastery
The changes to Savage Defense were definitely needed. The previous version only cost 20 rage for a 60% damage reduction, which would allow for a very high uptime. This new version seems like it would be harder to maintain constantly.
The Mastery changes are also sensible – it is now separate from Savage Defense and will benefit the guardian druid all the time, not just when they manage to get Savage Defense up. The value of Mastery could really increase as a result of this (possibly becoming higher than Agility), but this will be determined by how the armor multipliers end up working in the 5.0 patch. We’ll all have to wait until the beta and ptr releases to see the final effects.
Rage generation and damage mitigation
The new model for Savage Defense requires Rage to be spent on damage mitigation. Currently bears use rage to generate threat and cause damage, so sharing this single resource will become difficult in the future. The balance of enough threat vs. damage mitigation will determine the difference between a good and a bad druid tank.
The new versions of spells used while tanking have had some changes that directly impact this:
- Lacerate does not appear to have a rage cost.
- Maul costs 30 rage.
- Mangle, Thrash and Swipe do not have a resource cost specified because they apply to both bear and cat form. Unfortunately the cooldowns on these spells are not specified either, but I think it is safe to assume they will be something similar to what they are today.
- Faerie Fire has a cooldown in bear form, but costs no rage.
With the changes to Savage Defense it will be critically important to generate as much rage as possible so that it can be used to reduce physical damage taken.
I think Faerie Fire and Lacerate will become the most important part of threat generation for single target fights because they lack a rage cost. Mangle hits hard enough that it will be important regardless of whether it costs rage, and it also grants 15 rage on a critical hit thanks to Primal Fury. Hate will also become a mitigation stat because of Primal Fury – 15 rage from an auto-attack hit will be valuable.
Our AoE abilities may be used less frequently if they have the same rage cost as today:
- Mangle: 15 rage, 6 second cooldown
- Swipe: 15 rage, 3 second cooldown
- Thrash: 25 rage, 6 second cooldown
Trash packs will probably result in a starting rotation like this:
- Bear form/Enrage
- Faerie Fire for the pull
- Barkskin while the mobs run to you
- Swipe or Thrash to pick everything up
- Lacerate/Mangle/Faerie Fire until you have 60 rage
- Savage Defense
- Spread Lacerate around, use Mangle on cooldown, AoE only when needed
- Savage Defense gets top priority while there are 3 or more mobs up.
Not having Barkskin ready for a pull, or a full rage bar, will have a pretty significant impact on damage taken for the first few seconds of every trash pack.
Maul will be pushed even further down the priority list, and only used when you have 90 rage or more. Using it at other times will result in a lowered Savage Defense uptime, which will be fine on some trash pulls in instances, but not desired in raids.
Overall I like these changes.
The rotation changes take tanking back a bit to when using Faerie Fire was important, and when spreading Lacerate mattered more as well. Thankfully I don’t have a longing for swipe to only hit 3 targets though…that was painful.
Balancing the use of Savage Defense and threat generation could be engaging, or it could be horribly painful. I’ll just hope for the former 🙂