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Shifting Perspectives: Disappearance of the bear, part 2

Allison Robert

#5: Bear gameplay is boring.

Then: SwipeSwipeSwipeSwipeSwipeSwipeSwipeSwipe.

Now: The addition of Thrash and Pulverize to the bear rotation shook things up and kept bears more engaged in optimizing their rotations, so Cataclysm brought us another win here. However, it's generally agreed that the protection warrior remains the most interesting and dynamic tank, and while Blizzard's made a lot of effort to bring the bear in line with that model, something is still ... off. As someone who's played both, the warrior is by far the more engaging tank to play if rotation is your primary concern, to the point where it feels like a puzzle with lots of little pieces all fitting perfectly.

I don't know. Something about Pulverize in particular still bothers me, but I can't articulate exactly what the problem is. That said, death knights are probably the worst off with respect to rotation issues at the moment -- the so-called "rune tetris" problem is not something I envy -- and I confess I'm not sure where paladins fall. Thoughts?

#6: Gear consolidation resulted in druids looking stupid in caster form.

Then: When the inability to see your gear while tanking can be considered a feature rather than a bug -- that's bad.

Now: No change. The degree to which feral druids resemble Bozo the Clown in any given raid tier is still up to the whims of Blizzard's artists. Non-set rogue-themed leather + druid tier gear + hunter-themed polearm usually = something that no one is rushing to put on promotional art. Frankly, it sucks to play something that always looks ugly, and it's hard not to resent being doomed to this while warrior tanks have non-set pieces designed to complement their tier sets.

Tier 11 isn't bad as tier 8 and tier 10 were, but tier 12 looks like it's going to be another visual schizophrenia-palooza.

#7: It's easier and faster to gear a plate tank.

Then: Plate tanking gear is stuff that absolutely no one else in the raid wants, and it goes to off spec pretty quickly as a result.

Now: Insert shrug. This is still somewhat true these days -- but again, the disappearance of armor penetration has really made a difference to the ease of gearing a feral. As with our commentary on #2, you still might be rolling against an awful lot of people for jewelry, weapons, and cloaks.

#8: Druids are the easiest tank to shove into another role when needed.

Then: The odds of your tanking an encounter are determined more by the overwhelming popularity of plate classes than your actual skill at playing a tank.

Now: No change. As you can actually argue that the defining feature of the druid class is the ease of jumping into another role when required, this isn't necessarily a bad thing unless you want to remain a dedicated tank and nothing but. In which case -- as horrible as this sounds -- you're probably better off rolling a class that can't be shifted to as many options. The druid is the best possible tank to have around when you want them to do something other than tank, and that's not a great niche if that's really what you want to do with the character.

As I was drafting this article, I couldn't help but notice that this is the third consecutive year I've written a column wondering what happened to all the bear players we saw during The Burning Crusade. However, it might be time to accept that the popularity of the bear tank during BC was purely the result of circumstances -- namely, the druid's status as the only dedicated off tank -- and not the attractiveness of the spec itself. The game as a whole is better for having moved beyond that context, but I hope something can be done to improve the spec's draw with players nonetheless.

Shifting Perspectives helps you gear your bear druid at 85, tempts you with weapons, trinkets and relics for bears, then shows you what to do with it all in Feral Druid Tanking 101. We'll also help you gear your resto druid.

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