Luckily, we get to see them to up on the Test Realm and since they rarely change before going live, we can safely assume the changes are accurate. Going down the list, here's what matters to Bear Tanks.
- Epic Flight Form
So I suppose this doesn't really have anything to do with Druid tanks, but it's something we're all interested in. After all, who doesn't want twin plasma cannons?
The duration is dropping to 12 seconds and the cooldown reduced to 1 minute. Not a bad tradeoff considering it can now be used in forms and during some conditions.
- Feral Charge
Oooh, a nice change here. Anyone that tanked Ras Frostwhisper back in the day or has PvP'd against a Frost Mage will appreciate that Feral Charge isn't affected by slowing effects anymore. I think our groups will appreciate that, too.
So Mangle, after receiving a fairly severe nerf in the last big patch, is being rebuffed. It's getting a +15% damage shift and an accompanying -15% to threat generation. Theoretically this means it will be more useful for PvP and perhaps when things go south when soloing while not boosting our tanking threat, an area that's showing more and more concern from the developers.
Supple Leather Boots are losing 30 Attack Power and gaining a mere 3 Strength. A nerf, but it sure makes picking the boots from the Heavy Clefthoof set easier for those that haven't made the shift already. Read on.
The Heavy Clefthoof set is being redone, and when the changes were first announced, I nearly panicked. They told us that the armor would be increased but that the Stamina and Defense would be going down. All I could think was that since my armor already broke 20k I didn't desperately need more but that I did need more health since I don't quite have 12.5k unbuffed health.
My fears were for nothing. Between the three pieces of Heavy Clefthoof, we are gaining 658 armor, losing 23 Stamina, and losing 12 Defense Rating.
Those of us with Thick Hide will be gaining more than 3.5k AC from this while losing a miniscule amount of Stamina overall. Defense also suffers but ultimately it's only a drop of 5 or 6 points of Defense. I have 430 right now myself and since I only benefit from half Defense's features losing a bit for other stats is just fine.
The real balancing of this comes in the buffs to Earthwarden and Braxxis' Staff of Slumber. Both items are getting 39 Stamina, making the Heavy Clefthoof Stamina nerf ultimately a buff. After all, I don't know any serious Druid tanks that aren't using one of those two items unless they've found an epic that's better (I think I saw one on the boards, but I can't remember for sure). Most of us are going to use one of these two weapons, though, due to the fact that any Druid can acquire them given enough time - no access to raiding required. Even those that get better will likely start with these and use them extensively.
What I find funny about this is how many Druid tanks on the official boards are just now saying that this is THE pre-T5 tanking set. In my humble opinion it always has been. Certainly there are other items that previously had more armor, but the sacrifice in Defense and Stamina was rarely worth the tradeoff. Regardless, more and more Druids will now be seen in the getup I'm wearing already, one that makes me look like an extra from a Mad Max movie or a Dungeons and Dragons 3/3.5 character in their dungeonpunk aesthetic.
Regardless, this patch is a good one for Druid tanks, no question.