On Patch 5.1

So, it’s here.

And I find myself at a loss to say anything meaningful about the patch, other than to parrot my wife’s remark that Varian Wrynn makes a great pet, and that I’m happy those damned Lesser Charms are out of my bags and on a currency tab…

New gear, yeah. More dailies, fan-fucking-tastic. I’m really getting tired of the daily thing. I can see this being SOP for the rest of the expansion and beyond. Faction after faction, each one a new monster to feed, a new green bar to fill to get the next level of shinies. Although I do find the new Commendations to be a welcome change. My hunter should be up there with the Tillers and the Golden Lotus fairly quick-like.

Seriously, though, yay for soloable raids! Nerfed bosses and no group to get in, hallelujah! The hardest part is deciding where I want to go first, and on which toon. Could my 85 solo ICC? Could my 80 take down Nightbane for the cool shield? It’s going to be fun finding out.

To me, the most important part of any patch is class changes, and Bears got a doozy, a huge change to how we use Maul.

Notice I said Bears, not Guardians. I would prefer to use the term Feral, for that is what we are–feral. I was and am just as feral as any cat druid. “Guardian” makes me sound like I should be signing someone’s permission form before raid, just in case there’s an accident and Azuremyst Middle School doesn’t want to get sued because a gnome got eaten on the school trip to Gruul’s Lair.

It’s at this point that I’d like to point out that I in no way put myself up as an authority, a theorycrafter, or anyone who gets sexually aroused by a spreadsheet. There are many fine blogs out there that cater to those needs, and I’m happy to use them, just as you do. My “data” is observational and anecdotal. I’m a word person, which means numbers and I have a hate/hate relationship.

Some of you may remember that Maul used to be a nice filler attack, back when rage flowed like wine. I had it macroed to just about every attack on my bars. With the talent overhaul, Maul got pushed to the background. Suddenly, I had to use rage to stay alive with Savage Defense and Frenzied Regeneration. This meant that when I had generated a certain amount of rage, I had three choices about how to use it: more threat, SD, or FR.

I have to admit that I’ve only recently been making use of FR on a regular basis. I’m still in the mode that it is part of my oh-shit macro, only to be employed in the direst of situations. But it’s getting better. And it still makes me angry that bears have no way to significantly mitigate magic damage other than Barkskin and Survival Instincts, both of which have long enough cooldowns that bringing them into the rotation makes me worried. What if I need to time those for big damage later on? Will they be ready? Look at the abilities, and you’ll see that our bread-and-butter short cooldowns are mostly centered around physical damage, making swings miss or count for less damage. You’d be surprised, however, at how few raid bosses just hit the tank because they don’t know any magic.

Anyway, Maul costs 30 rage, which before 5.1 I would much rather have spent on a defensive cooldown, especially after it lost its threat bonus. After all, I can do much better with Swipe and Mangle. Post patch, a fourth option has been given to us. Using rage has become a minute-by-minute multiple choice exam…

Question 1: A raid boss boards a train in Honolulu and is bound for San Diego. He is moving at 88 MPH, and travels into the future to meet your raid 15 minutes after the scheduled start time, when everyone will actually show up. When the raid boss collides with you and you generate sufficient rage to use a defensive skill, you should _______________.

A. Spend a hefty 60 rage on FR to get back the health lost from that big hit
B. Spend 30 on Maul to make his next autoattack hit for less
C. Spend 60 on SD to get your dodge up
D. Use Barkskin/SI and hold off on the others until you “need them”.

You have .05 seconds to finish the exam.

Am I exaggerating? A little bit, but who wants to read the unadulterated facts all the time? How incredibly boring that would be. And by the way, my raid is quite good about being there on time…for the most part. I’m looking at you, Mash. Working, earning money, improving your quality of life and all that bullshit. Seriously fucked-up priorities, right?

I did some initial testing on all of this in LFR, and it pretty much panned out like I thought it would. Once I got stuck into a boss fight, I had plenty of rage, sometimes enough for both SD and Maul. But on trash I’d often find myself a bit rage starved, having to use it for a defensive (since nobody CCs) and coming up a bit short for threat generation.

Speaking of threat, both I and my warrior tanking buddy Blackbear have seen aggro issues since the patch. A guest paladin in raid this weekend was working his Salv button like it was earning him cash, and that’s not quite right, especially several minutes into the fight, when both of us had a good grip on the mobs. Maybe it’ll get sorted out in a hotfix, but I swear there’s some shenanigans going on–evil shenanigans. Patches are odd things; their inner workings baffle me. I remember a Wrath patch that broke Scarlet Monastery. How? HOW?! How can tinkering with current content affect a lowbie dungeon? Is WoW like Dunkin Donuts, made fresh every patch? It just doesn’t make sense…

Anyway, what do you think of the new patch? What do you like or not like? What odd things have you seen?