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Sorting Out Our New Abilities

August 6, 2012

Start here.

With all the changes that have happened to our class, it’s going to take a while to get my action bars straightened out and then get my muscle memory up to snuff.  I wanted to get organized for once, instead of trying to hold everything in my head, I thought perhaps I should map out my skills in a way that would be more visual, and hopefully doesn’t miss anything.

For the first step, I wanted to get a map of the abilities.  Now, it’s going to look huge, and I apologize for that.  But, honestly, there’s 47 abilities, not counting racial abilities, or trinket activations.  There is plenty to assign to your measly 1 through = keys.

I decided to break the skills into 11 categories:

  1. Attacks
  2. Rage Generation
  3. Offensive Cooldowns
  4. Active Mitigation
  5. Rage Spending
  6. Threat Management
  7. AoE
  8. Utility
  9. Cat Form
  10. Healing
  11. and the last group: WTF DO I USE THIS FOR?

Skill Map

My first category “Attacks” is something I was hoping would be easier to fill out, because the way I think of playing a Bear in Cata is a whole lot of attacking stuff.  With the addition of Rage Generation, however, we now have to manage generating our rage in order to spend it on Active Mitigation abilities.

I was a little liberal with my terminology of Active Mitigation.  I’m using it to mean any defensive cooldown ability, whether or not it consumes Rage, our primary resource.  Only Savage Defense and Frenzied Regeneration consume Rage these days, and the rest are just cooldowns that help our survivability.  You really should know those skills are around these days, because if you’re caught without enough rage for either “true” Active Mitigation skill, you should be using your free defensive cooldowns.  These need to be on your action bars!

Rage Spending was a category I was hoping would be more filled in as well, but there’s only one ability, Maul, which is now basically a Rage dump.  Unless I seriously overpower the content, I’m not likely to use this skill very often.  The loss of being able to hit an Active Mitigation cooldown in exchange for a few points of DPS is pretty sad, even if it is my personality type.

Threat Management used to consist of two skills, Growl, which boosts your threat equal to the highest threat on the target, and some other “holy crap we’re gonna die” button that is there if you’ve completely blown everything.  I can’t remember the name of that skill anyway, because I never pushed it – I always left it at the ready.  Now we’re down to just Growl.

We still have two AoE skills, Thrash and Swipe.  Thrash applies a bleed (see that red blob?  That’s supposed to be a blood drop!).  The red plus on Swipe is meant to show that it hits harder on opponents that have bleeds applied.  Given a choice, hit Thrash, then Swipe.  Lacerate (up in Attacks) also applies a bleed.

Those long streaky arrows from Lacerate and Thrash show that Mangle’s cooldown gets a chance to be reset when you push that skill.  Since Mangle is the only thing that makes Rage for you, you’ll want to use it often.  Hit the skills that let you use it more often.  As a sanity check, that now means you have a “priority” of Mangle > Thrash / Lacerate > Swipe.  Put very simply, YOU WILL SPAM MANGLE.  Sometimes you get to hit other buttons, which let you hit Mangle more.  If you’re not hitting Mangle, maybe try… um… hitting Mangle?  If you can’t hit Mangle, you can push another button, but the next button after that will definitely be Mangle.

Utilities became a very gross, over-concentrated category.  I’ll be writing a follow-up post that sorts out the Utilities better, because I’m going to need it to work out my new action bar mappings.  This catch-all category includes a battle rez, various CC abilities, movement CDs, interrupts, and for some reason it looks like I can actually push “track humanoids” as a button, instead of just a mini-map option.

Cat Form abilities are helpful to note, because if Heart of the Wild becomes a viable way to transition to Cat for some temporary DPS while not tanking, you’re going to want these on your cat action bars.  To better deal with the amazing shift in skill sets, I use the Bartender4 add-on.  You can assign multiple bars to swap based on your shapeshift.  In Cata, I used up two bars of buttons for Bear, and two bars for Cat.  In Mists, there’s a good chance I’m going to need 3 bars with all the new cooldowns available.

The Healing category has a couple skills marked with green dots – these are, in fact, HoTs – heals over time.  I wanted to identify those specifically because how you think about HoTs can be a little different than direct heals.  If you don’t need all of the direct heal, you may not want to cast it for efficiency reasons.  If you toss a HoT out, you may get less overheals as a result.  I’m no healer though – so don’t take my word for it.  Most of the skills here will also take you out of Bear form (unless you’re using Nature’s Swiftness skill), so don’t put these directly on your action bars.  If you use Nature’s Swiftness, you can macro it with Healing Touch.

Finally… the WTF DO I USE THIS FOR? category.

Now, to be fair, I know when I should use Wrath and Moonfire – when I’m doing dailies in Org and want to hear the cool sound effect without chasing down the pigs, or the stealthed food thieves.  I’ve never used Hurricane other than making a mess on my screen.  I’ve heard of bears using it to pull aggro on a pack of mobs, but I just never tried, namely because the targeting reticule, and channeling aspects are cumbersome to deal with.  I wouldn’t make a good boomkin, despite all that gear I’ve collected.

I have also used Teleport:Moonglade while leveling – it’s a close enough flight to Org that it makes getting back from certain places easier if your hearthstone is on cooldown, and, of course, you’re Horde.  Between scrolls of recall and the reduced cooldown on my hearth from guild perks, I don’t use it anymore.

Symbiosis, like everyone else, deserves its own write-up.  I’m mostly concerned what the UI looks like for the people involved.  We can argue about the skills all day, but the fact remains that most casual players aren’t going to know what to do with a new skill, let alone map it to their action bars and actually use it in a 5-man.  Unless it shows up as one of those “Extra Action Buttons” like Dream in the Madness fight, casual non-druids aren’t going to use their new skills, period.

Enjoy the map – and as always, feedback appreciated.




From → Bear, Druid, WoW

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