Nov 092010

There was a ton of excellent commentary on my previous post (which I encourage you to check out…Kalon wrote more in my comments in a day than he’s written on his blog in a month). As such, let me try to clarify a bit.

The Hybrid Spec…when would you use it?

I basically see three situations where having a hybrid CatBear spec (as opposed to a CatUtility spec, which I’d generally recommend) would be useful.

  1. The MT dies, and a fillin MT is needed. Typically, a tank death means a wipe in 10-man, and usually in 25-man. Raids don’t carry a “just-in-case” tank, and by the time the MT gets a rez, enough of the raid is dead that it doesn’t matter. (Either that, or it’s one of those bosses that splits his damage between two tanks or has a stacking debuff, which means your second tank is taking a ton of damage and dying quite quickly.)  Having a cat that can go bear can prevent this wholesale carnage by holding aggro on the boss, not dying immediately (by cooldown usage) and giving time for a MT rez and a healer adjustment. Obviously, in this scenario, you won’t be PLANNING on the tank dying, so you’ll be in your cat gear and glyphs. You won’t be an optimal tank, but you’re much better than anyone else. (I have an addon that gives me a distinct audio cue when the tank dies. I’ve trained myself to automatically go bear when I hear that, as I will typically be pretty high on the threat list anyway.)
    Now, opinons vary on the longterm viability of a CatBear emergency tank (say the rez already got used on the healer, so you’re all that’s left from 50%-0%). You’ll have less stamina than a regular tank does, because you won’t have tank trinkets/jewelry. You’ll take a bit more damage, because you won’t have the tanking meta. It’s not all bad, though- your avoidance will be slightly higher than a regular tank, because of your higher agility, and you shouldn’t have any problems with threat because you’re in DPS gear. In my mind, the viability of this is directly related to your raid’s level (norm/heroic), size, and encounter type. In a 25H, for example, simply because the boss outputs so much damage that you’ll likely die before your healers can adjust, and even if they do, you’re very susceptible to burst. In a 10M, surviving this is much more likely. Of course, if it’s a dragon fight that revolves around surviving burst, you’re likely dead anyway. (A lot of this thinking is based around LK health pools. If burst is less of a concern in Cata, then that makes a hybrid build more attractive.)
  2. A fight demands a temporary OT (adds, stacking debuff on MT, etc) and has a tight DPS requirement. These type of fights aren’t very common, but this is the perfect scenario for the CatBear spec. For an example, I remember reading about a world top10 10-strict guild who got their first kill of H Sindragosa by using a cat-specced druid tanking Sindy to let the debuff drop off the MT. (I want to say this was Kae’s guild, but I’m not sure.) I’ve deliberately been avoiding reading too many details about Cataclysm bosses, so I don’t know how many encounters will be similar to that.
  3. 5-man/entry-level-raid pugging. This is somewhat similar to point 1, but if you have a poor tank (or a tank leaves, etc), you can step in for them and tank without any interruption. You being somewhat sub-optimal is made up for the fact that you’re running non-progression content, and there’s a very real risk that the group/raid will disband if people have to wait for you to go respec. Of course, you could dual spec feral for this, which I’m not opposed to at all. I do like playing resto as well, however, and I’m ready to step in if we lose a healer (again, without needing to go run and respec, which can break a PUG).

Other than those situations, I’d prefer the CatUtility spec (or a full Bear spec, depending on the situation) I recommended in my feral DPS guide. As Kalon noted, porting to Moonglade to respec is pretty quick, so it takes hardly any time in an organized run to go optimize. Pretty much, as the content you’re attempting gets more difficult/specialized (N->H, 10->25, T11->T12->T13), the deficiencies of the hybrid build become more prevalent. Of course, this depends on your guild as well. If your tanks tend to die a lot, then you might want to consider it more (or go resto. :))

Personally, I’ll probably do the same thing I did for WOTLK; run a hybrid build for leveling/5-mans/entry-level raiding, then re-evaluate. (I think I re-specced to a full Cat build for the first time somewhere in Ulduar. Of course, I was in a much more casual guild then.) Once Rawr gets updated for Cata and we start to see some more complete gear information, I can actually get some hard numbers about the survivability of a fully specced/geared bear vs. a moonlighting cat.

 Posted by at 9:56 pm

  10 Responses to “Hybrid Hate: Part 2”

  1. Wow. I was going to write a BearCat hybrid guide once Cataclysm comes out, but that seems so irrelevant now.

    I am not currently now in the Beta, nor am I dinking around on the PTR, outside of playing with talent calculators, thanks to a last-minute rush to finish stuff before Cataclysm hits.

    If there are tank-swap fights with long periods of time between swaps, a la Festergut, BearCats *really* shine.

    As far as the utility vs. specialization argument goes, though, I am of the opinion that the utility provided by a hybrid spec *is* being able to DPS or Tank at the drop of a hat. Toe-may-toe, tuh-mah-toe, it’s utility, just of a different flavor.

    That being said, pre-4.0.1, wasn’t it pretty much a toss-up between the Shielded (formerly Effulgent) Skyflare Diamond and the Austere Earthsiege Diamond?

    I mean, if I had to consolidate my discrete Bear and Cat gear sets, I might go back to the Austere, but for the better part of ICC, I have been running with a Shielded, stacking straight stamina (and one Nightmare Tear), for general tanking.

  2. @Paona,

    I agree wrt. utility. I like how Blizz has done it- get your base DPS talents, then either pick up mobility (Stampede/PS), kitty utility/survivability (BI/NI/IW), or base bear (TH/NR/Pulv). Every talent has a use (except for Primal Madness, that thing sucks).

    For metas, yeah, tossup. I usually went Austere for my bear sets because, well, armor>all. I think. If I remember my rough math, the magic meta was more effective, but they about balanced out on average since you usually took more physical than magical damage.

  3. @someone in the last thread: agi and mastery are extremely good stats for bear as well as for cat. In a world of limited-mana healers (which is the reasonable assumption for Cataclysm) where tanks are not one-shot, stamina is a lot less interesting and mitigation/avoidance become better.

    As for why being an hybrid, the answer is simple: BECAUSE I CAN.

  4. It seems in my last comment I was confusing people. What I was trying to point out is that we need to analyze this from 2 different perspectives. The first being where you are normally the OT and the seond where you are normally a kitty dps.

    If you are OT the whole ‘tank dies’ thing is irrelevant to the discussion. You are a tank so hybrid can’t help. That only leaves the question if an extra 3% or so dps is worth giving up some talents in your OT spec. To me an druid who is always playing bear should never get the hybrid spec to gain a couple percentage in dps for the few times that 2 tanks aren’t needed. Unless I missed something that means the hybrid spec really only applies to a feral kitty that may need to tank.

    You mentioned 3 scenarios where it might be useful to go hybrid. I would expand scenario #2 to also include that the person who normally tanks your raids doesn’t show up for the night and you need top fill in.

    In the first scenario you are right in what you describe. But as Kalon pointed out the hero bear is kinda rare. Usually by the time the tank dies a good portion of the dps is also dead. And as for that rez, you can’t tank and cast a b-rez at the same time. So unless you have a lock and they change soulstone mechanics the tank never gets the rez if you end up tanking. Also, we have to be honest and admit that it is really hard to pull off the switch and save the day. Not that it doesn’t happen as my favorite example was me going bear in Naxx and with just a healer we killed that dancing boss guy where you had to move back and forth and avoid the lave bursts. It took 25 minutes to do.

    Now what might be interesting is if for your dual spec you had a primary (either all tank or all dps talents) and then in your off-spec you had a hybrid. This allows you to do 5 man stuff, and then for that rare fight you can switch specs to the hybrid.

    The downside to this is you can’t then have a PvP or healer spec as the off-spec. But again being honest with ourselves we wouldn’t have the gear fot it anyway till much later. As we level in Cata we will be picking reward gear based on what we want to do. And any emblem gear is also going to be used on our main spec. So it will be a few months before we have feral kitty, feral bear and then healer gear. Here at the end of WotLK I still don’t have a very high GS for switching to healer even if I wanted to.

    To wrap up I think I’ll sort of continue doing what I have been doing. A dual spec where primary is full cat dps and off-spec is for tanking so my wait times in LFD are really short.

    Final point. I bet that hybrid spec might really shine in soloing old content.

  5. With or without a utility spec, I have gone bear and soaked some OT damage to give the other druid enough time to battle-rez the fallen tank. Now, we all died anyway, but it’s the thought that counts, right?

  6. @ Goodmongo – If a feral cat is worth his claws hero bears are not hard to find. In our 25 man ICC I can’t even count on one paw how many times I have made a quick change to bear once the MT goes down and taunted a boss before even a single melee died. And this is on Heroic bosses. Bear – taunt – barksin/lifeblood macro and the healers have plenty of time to adjust.

    As for the point Kal made about pugs, my thinking is my “lack” of tanking skills in bear will not be the biggest issue in the group. Don’t mean to sounds elitest but when was the last time anyone who reads/posts in these forums felt like they were the weak link in a pug? I stll out dps people tanking in heroics even after the nerf bat to swipe. (Which reminds me pulled 20K dps on fastergut tank swapping two weeks in a row – tanked in kitty gear and talents too ;P) LOL the cries for nerfing druid after I was third in DPS while tanking still makes me smile. Dont blame me lolmourne wearers – druidz r just the good!

    • But this is WotLK stuff where you outgear it by tons. I’m referring to Cata and progression stuff. Let’s face it and be honest. Look back at the fights. The tank is usually not the first person to die. And let’s also be honest on how that tank died. Most likely that tank in tank gear with tank talents died because the damage it took was more than the healers could manage. So now you in bear but without tank stuff is going to survive that same type of attack?

      In 25 man raids there is a stronger possibility to be a hero bear. But not really in 10 man raids. Often you and you alone are the only druid so the rez is up to you. You can’t tank and rez at the same time and the situations where only a tank dies and you rush in and help out to save the day are very far apart.

      They happen and happened to me. There were really cool and solidified my position in the guild as a decent player. But to be honest we either killed the boss without an issue or we wiped. And on progression fights like say H-PP back a few months ago it was dps or healers dying not tanks. Same for H-Sindy and H-LK (which we never actually got done).

      TIme will tell but my gut is that till we outgear Cata we will need every ounce of talents and gear and glyphs to go forward.

  7. I respeced my full cat spec into your Hybrid spec last night, and must say that I am really liking it. I didn’t lose that much DPS as cat, and have been “Insta-Queing” as tank for my justice point grind. Very good sir.

  8. @GM,

    You make some good points. Yes, if the first tank dies, that’s probably a good sign you’re not going to last long. :) Tanks don’t typically die because they’re taking too much damage, though; they die because the tank healer was dodging a mechanic or trying to help heal the raid, or someone else screwed something up. There have been quite a few gimmick-type “dispel this effect or the tank goes splat” bosses; if a dispel got missed and the tank was splatted, that doesn’t mean that the healing was too low.

    I don’t think I’ve ever herobear’d a progression kill; but I’ve saved a LOT of farm kills/PUG raid kills. Koralon/Onyxia80 were good examples of this.

    • Alaron, you and I are actually on the same page. I think hybrid is great for leveling, pugs, farming etc. It is also a decent alternative once you are geared out. My whole point was that for a fresh 85 in cata doing those very first raids the hybrid spec will have to sit in the closet. We don’t have the gear and we will need everyonce of dps or survivability that we can muster at the start.

      I’m just thinking back to level 80 in a couple of blues and trying H-HOL for the first time. We needed potions to survive that last fight. So giving up even a few dps or hp’s would most likely have meant a wipe. Once we had some Naxx gear it was a piece of cake. Of course getting Naxx gear was an adventure in itself. :)

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