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Shifting Perspectives: 3 observations on the tier 13 set bonuses

Druid tier 13
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Shifting Perspectives for cat, bear, restoration and balance druids. This Tuesday, we ponder tier 13.

Tier 13's set bonuses were revealed this past Saturday night to the delight of many, the disgust of just as many, and the widespread horror of healers, who quickly arrived at the same conclusion that you're going to see me talk about in this column. Which is not to say that the tier set bonuses are bad, mind you -- it's just that they scare the hell out of us.

I'm going to muscle in on Alaron's job this week very briefly, because cats inevitably wind up with the same tier bonuses as bears. In tier 13, that's going to have some pretty serious implications for raid survivability, so we'll touch on that today. Resto itself didn't get anything too striking, but we do have enough information to hazard a guess at how much the set bonuses will add to our healing, and the feral bonuses hint at some tough stuff ahead for healers.

Tier 13 set bonuses
  • Feral, 2P -- While Berserk is active, Savage Defense absorbs are 100% larger, and your Blood in the Water talent now causes Ferocious Bite to refresh the duration of your Rip on targets with 60% or less health.
  • Feral, 4P -- Frenzied Regeneration also affects all raid and party members, and your Stampede talent now grants two charges after using Feral Charge (Cat).
  • Restoration, 2P -- After using Innervate, the mana cost of your healing spells is reduced by 25% for 15 sec.
  • Restoration, 4P -- Your Rejuvenation and Regrowth spells have a 10% chance to Timeslip and have double the normal duration.

The Public Test Realm (PTR) isn't yet active for patch 4.3, so nobody's really sure what the particulars are here. The most compelling questions are whether the bear's four-piece bonus is affected by the Glyph of Frenzied Regeneration and if all of Frenzied Regeneration's effects are copied or just the health bonus. And if the self-heal is copied, does the healing done on everyone depend on your rage or their own resources? I'll let you know as soon as we find out.

Restoration concerns

As the folks over at Elitist Jerks calculated, the restoration two-piece bonus is worth about a 2% mana savings overall. I think Hamlet pretty much nailed the issue in his observation that that's not necessarily a compelling hook over the four-piece tier 12 bonus at present, but you'll have to upgrade eventually. I would consider the two-piece a nice, incidental bonus, but not something to plan your Innervate usage around.

The four-piece bonus is reminiscent of the old tier 10 four-piece bonus, and the "jumping Rejuvenation" was plagued by bugs for a while (the inability to Swiftmend a Rejuvenation that had hopped was the big sore point). I hope that's not going to be the case here, although druid commenters seem more consistently concerned about the possibility of overhealing on raid members who get a 24-second Rejuvenation. However, I really don't think that'll wind up being a problem, and that's mostly due to what the feral set bonuses imply about Cataclysm's final raid.

On that note, the most interesting observation we can make with respect to the tier 13 set bonuses is arguably this ...

Implications: Deathwing and beyond

Expect raid damage.

Lots and lots of raid damage.

OK, this is perhaps not all that terribly surprising, given that the end boss of each expansion has always featured lots and lots of raid damage. However, it's never been featured to the point of orienting every single tank's tier set bonus around a raid cooldown. With two tanks per raid, odds are good that Blizzard's planning for some serious shiznit as Deathwing approaches the end.

An additional possibility is that tier 13 represents an experiment. Blizzard's acknowledged that tier set bonuses are an opportunity for the developers to fiddle with adding certain abilities or features to a class (e.g., the Nordrassil Harness two-piece feral bonus reappeared as the talent now known as Predatory Strikes), so maybe the developers just want to see what happens when every tank has some form of raid cooldown like Divine Guardian. That has probably been the most consistent tank-related complaint for the length of Cataclysm: Non-paladin tanks can't compete with the utility provided by that one skill, and the survivability it affords raids is just too good, particularly on heroic encounters. Tier 13 is a chance for Blizzard to remedy this ... somewhat. Not all of these tier "cooldowns" are created equal, but without seeing them in action on the PTR, it's hard to guess at the degree. Again, stay tuned.

For my own reference later, this is each tank's four-piece set bonus and its realistic uptime (i.e., accounting for standard talents like Shield Mastery):
  • Death knights Your Vampiric Blood ability also affects all party and raid members for 50% of the effect it has on you. May or may not be affected by Glyph of Vampiric Blood. 1-minute cooldown.
  • Druids Frenzied Regeneration also affects all party and raid members (keep in mind that the tooltip is incorrect; maximum health is increased by 30%). May or may not be affected by Glyph of Frenzied Regeneration. 3-minute cooldown.
  • Paladins Reduces the cooldown of Divine Guardian by 60 seconds and increases the radius of its effect by 70 yards. With the four-piece bonus, this is now a 2-minute cooldown. Bastards.
  • Warriors Your Shield Wall ability now grants 50% of its effect to all party and raid members. May or may not be affected by Glyph of Shield Wall (though I can't see why it wouldn't be). Cooldown time will range from 2 minutes (assuming Shield Mastery) to 4 minutes if glyphed.
If the tier 13 bonuses are in fact an early indication of what Blizzard's planning for the next expansion, we might as well acknowledge a cold truth here and now, my bearish brethren -- if Blizzard does wind up giving every tank spec a raid cooldown, we are probably not going to get anything as badass as Divine Guardian. Why? Anything you give to the bear, you give to the cat. As long as the two specs are yoked, that's extremely problematic for both PVE and PVP balance. See the last observation below.

Bear tank ready for action.
Tanks to the front

Every tank just got bumped to the front of the gear line. Like they weren't there already? Gearing your tanks first is kind of like sending flowers to your significant other on Valentine's Day. You're kind of expected to do it even if there's no practical reason, and then the one decade that you don't, they get mad and leave you, and you discover that that that was the practical reason for buying flowers in the first place, and next week you see them running around with that crapsack guild leader on your server who'd recruit a serial killer if he already had his tier, and you know they could totally do better but nobody listens to you.

That said, we hear from a lot of folks whose raids aren't particularly fussed about gearing their tanks any faster than anyone else, but I suspect even they might reevaluate this policy for the purpose of tier 13 progression. If the tier cooldowns turn out to be necessary (or at least highly desirable) for raids to survive certain mechanics -- and that'd be a smart bet right now -- there is no earthly reason why you wouldn't want both of your tanks kitted in four-piece tier 13 as quickly as possible. Sorry, DPS.

This is actually somewhat troubling for any raid that has crappy luck with tier tokens, particularly for 10-man raids intended to have slower gear progression anyway. If you keep getting, say, Vanquisher and your two tanks are a pally and a warrior, that's gonna hurt. Then again, if your two tanks are a bear and a death knight and you keep getting anything other than Vanquisher, that's even worse. Players are not going to like being held back by loot RNG.

Help wanted -- cat DPS

Cats have emerged from this whole debacle with two paws held high á la Rocky. They are now the only DPS spec in the game that gets a free raid cooldown alongside its DPS bonuses from tier 13.

If Alaron's right about what this will do for cats, plan on two-piece tier 13 being a 2% DPS increase that I can see getting paired with two-piece tier 12 for maximum damage output. Four-piece tier 13 will only realistically compete with that on add fights -- and I'm kind of wondering how many of those we're going to get with a multi-stage fight on Deathwing's back. But the real attraction of four-piece tier 13 is an extra, and now raid-wide, Frenzied Regeneration.

Is this a DPS loss for the cat concerned? Yep. Will your raid leader give a rat's ass? Nope. Your bear might be first in line for tier 13, but if your raid's got a cat running around, they're not far behind.

Shifting Perspectives helps you gear your bear druid, breaks down the facts about haste for trees, and then digs into the restoration mastery. You might also enjoy our look at the disappearance of the bear.

Filed under: Druid, Analysis / Opinion, (Druid) Shifting Perspectives

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