Friday, February 11, 2011

[4.0.6] Fair Weather Ferals (or FotM Ferals)

During Wrath of the Lich King, Feral Cats started to enjoy periods during which they were among the top DPS in PvE.  This was somewhat novel, as Cats were generally just good at DPS prior to that and, wayyy back, well, they were a joke (Vanilla WoW really only supported Druid Healers in raiding).

Feral Bears were playable at the end of Vanilla WoW, but really did not see meaningful mechanical viability in tanking raids until WoW's first expansion, The Burning Crusade (TBC).  I was able to witness this firsthand, as I began tanking with my Druid shortly before TBC.

The Burning Crusade

The Burning Crusade was a time of great progress for Bears.  We were still in last place, but we became increasingly viable and capable.  Paladins were still stronger, especially with multiple mobs.  Warriors continued to be the most favored, especially for raid bosses.  For example:
  • Illidan Stormrage, the end boss of the Black Temple had a Shear ability, which *required* a Warrior Tank (I believe they removed it around the time the Wrath of the Lich King mechanics patch or release)
  • Kael'thas Sunstrider, had a Pyroblast ability that required the Tank to be able to equip the Phaseshift Bulwark, a shield, or die
But outside of that, things were OK.  I was pretty good at playing my Bear, though; I really pushed his bounds and as a result he was never an impediment to progression.  Still, it did feel like I worked a lot harder than the other Tanks.  Yet I stuck it out.

PvP for Ferals in The Burning Crusade was somewhat of an indulgence.  While we could be useful in Arenas and BGs, unless we were carrying flags in Warsong Gulch (Eye of the Storm, to a lesser extent) or Tanking the opposition's general in Alterac Valley, we were not a top choice for a PvP partner.

Wrath of the Lich King

With Wrath of the Lich King (WotLK), we started to see the manifestation of a philosophy of, "Bring the player, not the class".  This was primarily targeted at getting away from the need to bring a specific class for their mechanics.  The basic idea included the notion that you should not need a specific type of Tank.  However, you still needed specific numbers of specific roles, so bringing 15 Rogues for your DPS team was not very viable (for example some fights specifically required a minimum number of raid members to be outside of melee range).

Feral Cat PvE DPS had ups and downs during WotLK.  It was usually good, sometimes great, but for the most part it did not draw a ton of people away from their class with the promise of uber DPS.

Feral Tanking continued to gain ground and for the first time, a Druid Tank became preferable in many applications.  A long-standing characteristic of Druid Tanks was lots of armor and Health, and it was jacked up quite a bit in WotLK.  It worked very well for Heroic fights, but it led to silly things like always wearing your Frost Resist gear because it had lots of Stamina and you could slots lots of Stamina gems in it.  Any time people are preferring Resist gear over regular gear, you can be sure something is amiss.

Towards the end of WotLK, Bears saw some nerfs to their Stamina-boosting Talents.  It wasn't a showstopper, and we still had lots of armor and Health.  Icecrown Citadel (ICC) was a bit daunting though, as the -30% Dodge debuff was a bitter pill to swallow for Bears, whose only Avoidance came through Dodge.  Still, we were successful there.

Cat DPS was still good, but maybe not as high as it had been at it's peak in WotLK.  All I know is that there were less Cats running around in raids.


Enter Cataclysm.  With the push of the 4.0 mechanics prior to Cataclysm, we Ferals finally had a practical interrupt ability, Skull Bash (Bear & Cat), provided we spent two Talent points on Brutal Impact.  That was pretty awesome.  Reports from the Beta had been glowing about Cat DPS and yes, in fact, Cat DPS was very good.

So, for the first time ever, Cataclysm gave us a Feral Cat with top DPS and top PvP.  And for the first time ever, I saw someone change their main to Feral Cat.  Oh, I am sure that it had happened before, but this person had worked hard to get Shadowmourne; in fact he was the first person in the guild to get it.

And a whole bunch of Cats seemed to be popping up all over the place.  These are what I call Fair Weather Ferals (some might say Flavor of the Month (FoTM) Ferals).  The Druid class and concept is irrelevant to them, it is merely a path to mechanical effectiveness/advantage.

It's people like these that get on the World of Warcraft forums and try to say that we should be happy with the gutting of our class because we can still "kill stuff good" in PvP.  They miss the point because to them, the only thing that matters, numbers, has not been negatively impacted.  For them, all of the class abilities are new and they are not emotionally attached to any of them...just the numbers, ma'am.

I don't care for it.  Blizzard, please nerf our numbers a bit so we can cull the herd and get back to a pack of Ferals that "get it" and give a damn about the class. :)

Now, if you are new to the class and spec, and have truly fallen in love with it like the rest of us, welcome.  Get out on the WoW forums and fight for our soul.

1 comment:

Kammler said...

My Feral Druid got to L60 and just sat in my inbox for an eternity. Towards the end of WoLK I began tanking with him and leveled to 80 just before Cataclysm hit.

I worked on and perfected my Cat rotation for PvE and had the Tank rotation down well too.

Cataclysm comes and true to form I went back to my other, main toons. My druid sat again.

Very recently I began leveling my Cat again. He's now at 82 and running a consistent 3.8k DPS on PvE content at L82. Not terribly decked out in gear either.

I have been very happy with the DPS so far. Now for that tanking stuff.....