Friday, October 23, 2009

Sad Bear is Sad

I love my bear, it's my favorite character, and although I'm away from the game right now, I miss him terribly. But it's been said that bears have problems. From reading an article on, the problems seemed to boil down to 2 things:
  • It's hard to gear a bear
  • And bears have trouble with AOE aggro.
The unfortunate situation is that with the changes to how bears gear in Wrath there are now lots of people who want the same gear that a Bear would want. Bear gear is loaded with agility, crit, haste, and attack power. Guess who else wants those things? That's right: Cats, Rogues, Enhancement Shamans, and Hunters. Now, consider the Plate tanks. They have their own special category of gear, which only they get to use. They have a considerably easier time gearing up.

My hope was that in Cataclysm, with the removal of defense rating and the addition of the mastery stat, that plate tanks would have to share their gear with plate DPS. Unfortunately, in the twitter chat that Blizzard held, they addressed this question and said that plate tanks would retain their special gear niche. This bothers me, since it seems that the issue is simply being ignored. It doesn't seem likely that the developers will reopen with Tanking Leather gear niche, so I have no idea how this problem is going to be fixed. Hopefully, in Cataclysm, Hunters and Enhancement Shamans will be further dissuaded from using Leather, lessening the issue.

The problem with Bear AOE threat is that it relies completely on Swipe spam. This makes it very difficult for us to react to new problems without interrupting the Swiping, possibly losing control. Also, since we can't use other special abilities while Swiping (aside from Maul), we lose single target aggro, which makes it difficult to maintain aggro control over classes who AOE and Single Target DPS at the same time (Rogues, Hunters, etc). Now, it's time to compare.
  • Warriors: Thunder Clap - Cooldown, big threat
  • Warriors: Shockwave - Cooldown, big threat, however, it's directional
  • Paladins: Consecrate - 100% uptime, Paladin can't move out of it.
  • Death Knights: Death and Decay - Larger than Consecrate, not 100% uptime, Cooldown
  • Death Knights: AOE diseases - 100% uptime, easy to spread.
  • Druid: Swipe - As discussed above.
 I can think of a few fixes to this problem.
  • Give a proc off of Mangle that buffs your next Swipe.  So we get periodic AOE burst, and allows us to use a single target ability without worry.
  • A new ability that uses the Bear's currently unused mana to activate, allowing for an early fight threat burst, than can be activated periodically throughout the battle.  This could add to the Bear's druidness.  After all, a Bear druid is not just a Bear, it has mana, it should be able to use it, but can't now because it can't shift out of form.
That's all of my current ideas for helping improve the Bear.  Although, I do have a tip:  Thorns scales with Spellpower, so either get a resto or boomkin to keep it up on you, or switch to spellpower gear when you need to recast it.  You will see a dramatic increase in Thorns' damage, which will help with threat.

EDIT: Proofreading fail.