There has been a major update to the Mists of Pandaria talent calculator, with talents swapped between levels and some getting scrapped altogether. In this post I want to discuss the impacts of the updated spells and talents on tanking.
Some of the talent changes are significant, but there are a few quality of life changes in the spells that are pretty good too. As well as the talent calculator, there have been some blue posts that clarify abilities (Mangle, Swipe, Thrash and others) that are not described in detail in the talent calculator. I’ve used that information to make the behaviour of abilities clear in this post.
Alaron has discussed the talent changes over at The Fluid Druid and in his column at WoW Insider. Arielle has also talked about it at The Inconspicuous Bear. If you want to see exactly where talents have moved to and where they previously were, have a look at their posts.
Here’s the spells for our tanking rotation now:
|Mangle||6 sec||generates 5 rage||Damage. With Soul of the Forest, it generates 7 rage.|
|Thrash||6 sec||15 rage||AoE damage and a bleed. Applies the 10% reduced damage debuff. Chance to reset mangle cooldown on bleed tick.|
|Lacerate||3 sec||free||Damage and a 15 second bleed. Chance to reset mangle cooldown on bleed tick.|
|Faerie Fire||6 sec||free||Damage and weakened armor debuff.|
|Maul||3 sec||30 rage||Damage, on the global cooldown|
|Growl||8 sec||free||Activates bear form.|
|Savage Defense||1.5 sec||60 rage||40% reduced physical damage for 6 seconds.|
|Enrage||60 sec||generates 20 rage||generates 10 rage over 10 secs.|
When tanking, we must (in no particular order):
- Keep up the 10% reduced physical damage debuff on targets using Thrash.
- Apply the weakened armor debuff to the primary target using Faerie Fire.
- Generate enough rage to allow a high uptime for Savage Defense.
- Maintain threat.
Looking at that list and the abilities above, the real unknown is rage generation. There are quite a few things that significantly affect our rage generation in the new model:
- Mangle generates 5 rage
- Lacerate and Thrash bleed ticks can reset the cooldown on Mangle, allowing more rage.
- Critical hits from Mangle and autoattacks grant 15 rage because of the Primal Fury passive ability.
- Berserk is now a rage generation cooldown. It will allow 5 rage to be generated every global cooldown, with the chance for extra rage from crits.
- The Incarnation talent gives Mangle (and other abilities too) a 1.5 second cooldown for 30 seconds. This is a huge rage generation potential.
- The Soul of the Forest talent increases the rage generated by Mangle to 7 points.
- Enrage is the same as now, generating 20 rage instantly and 10 more over time, but using it every time it is up is attractive now.
The rage generation basically comes down to a rotation and three possible cooldowns to assist.
Interestingly, there are only three abilities that actually cost rage: Savage Defense, Maul and Thrash. Given the importance of Savage Defense and the AoE and rage generation potential of Thrash, those appear to be the only viable options for rage dumps at the moment. Even when rage is capped, it makes more sense to wait for a second or two and use Savage Defense again rather than hit Maul. If Maul has some other benefit then this may change, but I can’t see using it much at the moment.
Swipe, Faerie Fire and Lacerate cost no rage, so they will fill the global cooldowns that are not used for Mangle, Thrash and Savage Defense (if it’s on the GCD). This is reminiscent of tanking at the start of the Wrath expansion when Faerie Fire was an important part of the threat generation rotation. The amount of damage done by Faerie Fire will determine if it is used for anything more than a ranged pull or the debuff.
It should be possible to manage cooldowns and Savage Defense so that a Guardian mostly has at least a 20% damage reduction defense up. Using Berserk, Incarnation and Enrage to build rage and Barkskin to cover times where rage generation is required should be relatively straight forward.
I like the fact that there are a couple of other cooldowns to help; Might of Ursoc and Renewal should assist when bridging any gaps between Savage Defense uptimes. This is much more like playing a Death Knight tank and using cooldowns around the presence of blood shields.
The defensive cooldowns are:
Note: I’ve listed Berserk and Incarnation here for the rage generation portions of those abilities.
|Barkskin||60 sec||free||20% damage reduction for 12 seconds|
|Berserk||180 sec||free||Mangle has no cooldown and hits 3 targets for 10 seconds.|
|Survival Instincts||180 sec||free||50% damage reduction for 12 seconds.|
|Frenzied Regeneration||?||free||convert rage to health (10 rage/second for 6 seconds)|
|Might of Ursoc||180 sec||free||+30% max health for 20 seconds. Heals if below 30% health.|
|Incarnation (talent)||180 sec||free||Cooldown on melee abilities and Growl is 1.5 sec for 30 seconds.|
|Renewal (talent)||120 sec||free||30% self heal|
|Disentanglement(talent)||30 sec||free (ish)||20% self heal on a powershift|
Here’s our utility cooldowns usable in bear form:
|Skull bash||15 seconds||10 rage|
|Stampeding Roar||120 seconds||15 rage|
|Bear Hug||60 seconds||free|
|Ursol’s Vortex (talent)||30 seconds||free|
|Mass Entanglement (talent)||120 seconds||free|
|Typhoon (talent)||20 seconds||free|
The utility talents have the potential to significantly change the way a Guardian approaches pulling trash mobs, particularly Ursol’s Vortex and Mass Entanglement. Clever use of these should enable most of a trash pack to be disabled while one or two mobs are taken out first. It’s possible (theoretically!) that line-of-sight pulls will be used to good effect…but then again I think I only managed to get groups to do that half a dozen times in Cataclysm.
I like the direction of the changes; we have several rage dumps, and a rage generation mechanic that is based on the existing play style (hit Mangle lots!). The gameplay will be made deeper by the addition of self heals and active Savage Defense, with cooldowns to help when things get a little out of control. This will more than make up for the loss of Pulverize.
I love the fact that Demoralizing Roar is dead! It always annoyed me, especially when Paladin and Death Knight tanks get that debuff built in already.
It will be challenging to make the behaviour change to keeping Savage Defense up while AoE tanking, and my prediction of a lot of bad tanks in my previous post still applies. New tanks will not press the active mitigation buttons as much and let the load fall on the healer. This will cause some interesting discussions in dungeon and raid finder groups I’m sure.
Since Guardian rage generation is based on crits (and other stuff), the statistic priority is probably going to be similar to the mastery builds now:
- Mastery rating
- Critical strike rating
- Hit/expertise to caps