Nov 082010
 

A few weeks ago, I listened to the Druid Roundtable podcast on Raid Warning, which featured pretty much everybody who is anybody in the druid blogging community. (Unfortunately, they went with a straight Q&A format, and 90% of the questions were resto/moonkin related.) Late in the show, someone asked a question about hybrid specs for ferals, and the UNANIMOUS answer was that it was “unviable.” This has been the consensus of the WoW community for a long time. Some random forum quotes from a quick search:

You won’t be viable for both tank / dps (feral) if you try and go hybrid. You’ll be wasting the raids times. As far as 5mans go (if you only plan on doin 5M) then I’m sure your brain can come up with one and I hope your healer or dps can support your “lol” hybridness.

You could derive a spec that would make you “equally good” (whatever that really means!) at DPS and tanking, but that doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily be “good enough” at either.
A hybrid spec is probably adequate for non-heroics, as long as you have two sets of gear and swap between them appropriately.
For lvl 80 Heroics and raiding, you’ll be well behind the curve on DPS, and essentially an ineffective tank, if you don’t specialise.

Guess what? Wrong. It was mostly wrong in WOTLK, it’s wrong for 4.0.1 WOTLK, and it’s definitely wrong for Cataclysm.

Assessing Viability

Determining the viability of a build for DPS is pretty easy- set it up, and run it through a calculator, such as Mew. Here’s the builds I’m using:

Using my DPS/talent point figures that I determined previously, I’ve dropped Primal Madness, Stampede, Predatory Strikes, and a point from Feral Aggression to pick up the key Bear talents (Infected Wounds, Thick Hide, Natural Reaction, and Pulverize). Everything else stays the same. Using the Yawning profile from Mew, here’s my results using the simulator:

  • Full Cat: 16554 DPS (100%)
  • Hybrid: 16355 DPS (98.8%)

1.2% DPS. That’s it. That’s all you lose from the cat side. I’m sorry, anyone who condemns a talent build that does 98.8% DPS of the full build as “unviable” has been drinking the EJ kool-aid. There’s even an option if this is too low for you: Drop Infected Wounds (debuff is applied by DK’s via Frost Fever) so you can max out Feral Aggression, and your DPS rises to 99.3%. Really, the biggest thing you lose is utility/survivability; if you skip the low-DPS talents as a Cat, you can either pick up the essential Bear talents, or get stuff like Brutal Impact/Nurturing Instincts, but not both.

As a Bear? Well, that’s a little harder to quantify, but you essentially lose the small haste buff from Stampede (helpful, but not necessary), the extra rage from Berserk (who cares), and the 50s Skull Bash cooldown reduction from Brutal Impact (ew). Of the three, only the cooldown reduction on Skull Bash is a big deal for self-sufficiency. You’ll have to rely on your DPS to do any necessary interrupts…but that’s always been the case for raiding, so that’s not a big change.

Now, there will obviously be some tradeoffs in regards to gear, if you only use one gear set. However, it’s not nearly as bad as it was before. Gemming straight agility (which you’ll be mostly doing anyway for cat) is a very acceptable choice for bear now, whereas stamina gemming used to be nearly required. Your reforging will be mastery, which is a very good choice for bear as well. Really, the only things you’ll want to switch out will be a helm (so you can use the tanking meta) and possibly jewelry/trinkets, depending on whether you want to emphasize survivability or threat.

Of course, glyphs can be switched as needed, as can consumables. In the worst-case scenario (an emergency in-combat switch from DPS to tanking) you’ll lose about 5-6% DPS/TPS from not having the Mangle/Lacerate glyphs in, you’ll lose 2% armor + some stamina from not having the tanking meta, and some additional avoidance/mitigation from not having tanking jewelry (but you’ll probably make up the DPS/TPS loss from the glyphs)…and that’s it. In short, while you’re not as great a tank as you could be, you’re MUCH better than, say, a DPS-specced Warrior switching to Defensive Stance and grabbing a shield. You still have crit immunity, you still have most of your mitigation, etc.

What about 85?

Let’s take a quick look using the Premade profile in Mew and see what the outlook at 85 is for the Hybrid Spec. From 80-85, two interesting talents unlock in the resto tree, Master Shapeshifter (+4% crit, 3 points with the useless Natural Shapeshifter prereq) and Perseverance (-2/4/6% spell damage). Every feral build will be picking up NS/MS, but Perseverance presents an interesting tradeoff for the Hybrid build. You can skip it, and get 2/2 FA + 1 free point for something else (let’s call it the CatBear build). Or,  you can max it for Bear survivability, but you’ll have to drop down to 0/2 Feral Aggression (we’ll call this build BearCat). Results:

  • Full Cat: 16739 (100%)
  • CatBear: 16584 (99.1%)
  • BearCat: 16482 (98.5%)

Either way, we’re not anywhere NEAR what I would call “unviable.” If your guild is in a fight where enrage timers are super tight and you need every bit of DPS you can muster (Heroic ICC end bosses, for example), than sure, go for the full Cat build. For anything up to that, though, and especially for 10-man content, the extra flexibility provided by the hybrid build FAR outweighs that 1-2% extra DPS.

But should we?

We are a unique snowflake. No other class has anything CLOSE to this level of hybridization, as far as I’m aware. (I’ve heard that a paladin caster DPS/healer hybrid shockadin build is pretty good now, but I don’t know any specifics.) We’re definitely the only tank spec that can still bust out great DPS when not tanking. There are problems with this, though:

  1. Blizzard doesn’t like it. They don’t want classes that can do multiple roles to be able to do them simultaneously, as that devalues other players.  (There’s a blue post on this somewhere, but I can’t find it right now.)
  2. Non-druids don’t like it. (Waah, druids are OP!)
  3. Bear-only players don’t like it. (Yes, I know it’s best if I’m the OT since my DPS in Feral kills WarDude’s DPS in Prot, but dammit! I want to MT!)
  4. Cat-only players don’t like it. (Tank? Wut? How does that help my mad DEEPS? Make the lolret go prot, they’re faceroll anyway.)

Honestly, I really don’t know what to say to these objections. Yes, Blizzard could have fixed this, but it would have taken a serious redesign of the feral tree, and quite possibly gutting one of the feral tree’s two roles. For those who want to ONLY be bears or ONLY be cats…well, I understand wanting to specialize, but you may be hurting your raid by refusing to embrace your flexibility. (Now, if you really want to tank/dps but your RL keeps asking you to do something else, simply talk to the other guy and your RL about rotating from time to time. Your other tank might want to DPS occasionally. In most guilds, it won’t be an issue. If it is, it might be time to find another guild.)

Personally, I LOVE being the “swing” guy. I’ve had raids where I tanked, melee DPS’ed, and healed (dualspec…we’re not that OP), all in the same run, without needing to hold everyone up by respeccing. Hell, that’s why I titled this blog what I did. I’ll be rolling in my “tri-specs” for Cata, and having a blast doing it.

  27 Responses to “Hybrid Hate”

  1. Dangit, Alaron. I’ve been working on this same post for later in the week. Now I have to find some other topic that makes me sound like I sometimes know what I’m talking about… ;-)

  2. Good article – I’ve been meaning to post something like this for a while, but now I don’t have to :)

    I think you gloss over a couple things that are missing that hurt a lot from a functional perspective. While I don’t think the cat build is hurt that drastically, not having nurturing instincts is going to hurt you in raids and especially in 10-mans. Having extra healing and that survivability and being able to get a very large tranquility out is going to be a saver. Tranquility, honestly, is the new innervate; it’s like a shadow priest popping hymn to cover a picked up disc priest.

    For bear, losing perseverance hurts quite a bit (assuming dragons do the standard 60% melee/40% magic, that’s a 2.4% gain in damage taken). But let’s assume you lose that. Now let’s also assume you’re the MT and you don’t have a warrior tank. You have the fun situation where you either have to spend 18 seconds during the fight putting up sunders or have the rogue or warrior do EA and force their rotation to suck. Bears being able to sunder at range for three stacks for 5 minutes is a huge, huge bit of utility; ask a warrior if they wish they could talent into that!

    But yes, talent wise there’s not a huge difference. You lose a fair amount of utility and some DPS depending on how you do it, but it’s possible. The real problem comes in the gearing and glyphing. There’s no real good set of glyphs that you can share that make sense; the best is berserk, but that’s iffy for both specs. Your best bet is probably to go all cat glyphs at that point (rip/shred) but then you lose out on 10% more threat on your mangles (which are the best threat source now) and 5% more crits on lacerate (which are the primary generators of SD procs). For majors you’re not losing a lot though. Still, that’s quite a bit of hit on what you can do as a bear – 10% less damage on mangles, 5% fewer crits on lacerates, no interrupts, no extra cheap charge every 10 seconds, and either 6% more spelldamage or really crappy sunders.

    Is that viable? Sure. But the thing is, most anyone who groups with you will expect you to have these things if you say ‘I’m a bear’. It’s going to be weird to explain that someone else has to handle interrupts. It’s going to be odd to explain why you take more damage than another tank on those big hits. It’s going to be annoying to explain to others that no, they need to sunder – because their expectation will be set that they don’t need to, since you’re around.

    Gear is really the final arbiter. While stamina is no longer insanely awesome like it was for bears, it’s still pretty awesome. The meta is basically a requirement for cats, so you’d lose out on 2% armor. Enchant wise you’d lose out on about 150 stamina compared to teh dps side (at 80). Gem-wise, you’ll lose out on another 10 sockets at least – meaning about 300 more stamina. All told you’ll be short around 500 stamina, or about 7000 health. Again, this isn’t going to make or break you necessarily, but people will wonder why you’re such a low-health tank compared to others. And that’s at 80; at 85, it’s going to be about 4 times worse.

  3. @Saniel-

    Sorry for stealing your idea. We really should form a feral committee and delegate these assignments. :P

    @Kal-

    Great response, as always. I agree that losing NI is a big loss (Heck, I’ve been carrying water for NI since 3.3 and the Mangle changes), which I did sort of lump under “losing survivability/utility.” I’d like to see the numbers on NI vs non-NI + Tranq.

    @Perseverance- well, the way I see it, you’ll have either Pers. or Feral Aggression, so you’re either slow stacking FFF or getting hit harder, but not both. (I’m not in beta, so I can’t really evaluate how effective Pers. is.)

    @Glyphing/Gear- My point was you can switch glyphs quite easily now, so it’s not a big deal to switch to bear/cat glyphs. If you didn’t want to or were planning a hybrid tanking/DPS glyph set (say for Fester, maybe) then I’d probably go Rip/Shred/Mangle.

    You really think it’s odd expecting others to interrupt? That was the WOTLK consensus, and I don’t see that changing.

    Anyway, I don’t think we’re disagreeing; in an emergency tanking situation, you’re going to have significant flaws as a tank, since you won’t be able to switch gear/glyphs, but you’re miles better than anyone else. In a non-emergency situation, you can switch up the gear/glyphs and be a very slightly flawed tank, without any significant hit to your DPS. Obviously, dual bear/cat is the best choice but if you want to have a resto spec also, that’s out.

    • Dunno about others, but my tranq/non-NI is about 4k a tick; it’s about 8k a tick with it.

      For bears, you can get both FI and perseverance without any issue normally if you’re not going for a hybrid. Point of fact, you can get every bear talent that you’d ever want save possibly KotJ – and you really don’t want that anyway, especially if you’re doing the normal cancelaura enrage to get rid of the debuff. Perseverance is about as effective as you’d think it would be; it’s a minor bonus, but it’s an expected one and in the age where mana matters and damage taken is a big deal, every bit for a tank helps.

      I don’t think it’s odd expecting others to interrupt now; I do think it’s odd going forward. Going forward fights will be made such that they expect all melee DPS to be able to interrupt reliably. They’ll likely expect most tanks to be able to. On a fight like Iron Council, they could easily force every tank to interrupt; what happens if you’re in that situation?

      I think I said this in the podcast too – it’s not that you couldn’t do it and do decently, it’s that you just lose out on too many little things to make it really good. The real thing is that if you’re pugging at all or if fights require weird things, you’re going to have to either explain why you have a ‘fail’ spec or tell them why you can’t interrupt this or tank this as well or whatever. And that might be…annoying.

  4. I agree- we’ll have to see how many fights require “weird things,” as you aptly put it, be they magic damage, interrupts, or what have you.

    Just for fun, I went and looked at ICC to see how much magic damage each boss does (total guesstimates on numbers from looking at WoL):
    MG: 15% magic
    LDW: 60% magic
    Saurfang: 0% magic
    Fester: 35% magic? (not sure about the blight damage)
    Rotface: 10% magic? (not sure about the slime damage)
    Prof Put: 15% magic? (ditto)
    BPC: 5% magic (random AOE’s), unless tanking the Shadow dude
    BQL: 25% magic
    VDW: 60% magic
    Sindragosa: 50% magic
    LK: 20% magic (does Soul Reaper count?)

    Overall, magic damage is about 25-30% of a boss’s damage, so Pers is more like 0.5/1/1.5% of overall damage reduced. To me, that puts it squarely in the “nice to have but not necessary” column. Of course, high magic/Sarth3D fights are exceptions…but I’m not saying the hybrid build is optimal, merely that it’s “good enough” for the majority of content, and an alternative utility option for feral DPS’ers.

  5. Nice post.

    BTW I’ll be going full hybrid when Cata hits.
    And I plan to use a single set of gear as much as possible (as you say helm+meta and trinkets probably be the only pieces I switch, weapon is another possibility, since it can be switched in-fight).

    For glyphs, the best solution is rip/shred/mangle if you’re more cat-oriented, replace shred with lacerate if you’re more bear-survival-oriented (the extended duration of SR makes it possible to manage 1 CP SR + 5 CP rip even with lower rip duration). Glyph of mangle is also a nice cat glyph for fights where you cannot reliably be behind the target. Gemming will be agi + agi/crit. Hit and expertise cap become important even if they are not DPS-optimal-on-paper (tanking below 26 expertise is bad and growl misses are bad also).

    …and finally, I’ll laugh at those who go “OMG you lose 3% dps”, expecially after they end up below me on recount, or after I save from a wipe by tanking the boss for the last 30% :P

  6. @Heli- exactly. I’ve had exactly one 0% fight in a hybrid build (where me being full dps might have pushed the boss over), but I’ve saved several fights by emergency tanking.

  7. Interesting post. I don’t disagree that a hybrid build loses very little.

    Personally though, I just can’t bring myself to lose anything from my core dps build, not even 0.1% dps. I strive to improve my dps over and over and all those little 0.1% increases from talents, gear, glyphs, tweaks to rotation etc etc soon add up. Thats just me though, I put everything into maxing out my dps and improving it over and over again, thats an enjoyment I get from playing this game. I play cat to dps. I see myself as a dps toon playing a dps role. That Im a hybrid played no part in me selecting to play a druid, I just liked the idea of being a dps cat and I like the style and rotation etc. Thats not to say if the incidental benefits provide value I wont use em. I will use Rebirth, I will use a Tranq if I have to…but I’ll be grumpy I had to stop hitting something to do so :)

    Each to their own though, we have cats in our guild who always jump in as emergency bear tank when the need arises…they know I’ll always let them do it before I try and they spec, play accordingly. If they enjoy that hybrid adaptability then great, I appreciate them…I hope they appreciate me doing mad damage because I do absolutely everything I can to push it to the max.

    So, no I dont laugh at those who go hybrid and go “OMG you lose 3%…” i appreciate their desire to play that way and the usefullness it brings. Equally tho, I dont think there’s anything wrong with someone choosing the pure dps path either.

  8. @Kal: Actually, when gemming for agility you overwrite the need for glyphs.

    So you wont be missing 10% damage in mangle when you hit harder with everything else, you wont miss 5% crit on lacerate when you crit more with everything else, and the lack of nurturing instinct can be balanced with the fact that you avoid a lot more.

    So my point, you are not a worse tank, you are just different. And who knows, maybe the expansion will demand more agility tanking in the future.

    Feral is OP. Blizzard failed at differentiating cat from bear and gave us the mighty dps/tank.

  9. I don’t like hybrid build however I would not call it “not viable”. However even you agree it is less than optimal.

    The reasons I dislike hybrid are
    1- You lose a lot of utility
    2- You lose some DPS
    3- You gain nothing. You already have dual spec, so you can have 2 optimized specs (bear spec and cat spec) instead of 1 less than optimal spec. If that’s not enough (for example you need a healing or moonkin spec too), you can reset talents at trainer. The gold cost is nothing and most of the time guild banks will cover that cost and it’s really rare that you would do 3 roles in 1 raid, so it’s not like you are going to pay the respec cost everyday. I used to respec once or twice a week before the introduction of dual spec.

    I can’t say I know the fights in Cataclysm well, but most fights are not tank and spank like patchwerk.
    Lot of running and target switching? And you miss Stampede and Feral Instincts. Note that 20% DPS on demand (Free ravage) can mean a lot even if it’s 1% just overall damage boost (think portals on Jaraxus). Mew won’t take that in cosideration.

    Need CC or to remove enrage effects from a mob (think faction champions)? You will miss predatory instincts instant cyclone/hibernate/roots/soothe are there. And when you spend 1.3-1.4 seconds casting soothe or hibernate you not only losing DPS time, you are also making the raid take extra damage in that duration. Mew will not take the lost DPS time in calculations.

    Another example, as cat I would rather take nurturing instincts over natural reaction or pulverise which are pure bear talents. Extra healing received increases my chances of survival and being alive is more DPS. Mew won’t tell you that. Of course if mob movement speed needs to be slowed, infected wounds would be great.

    Brutal impact is another utility the hybrid build is missing. I really don’t need to explain why interrupts are good.

    So Mew while an excellent tool to assess talents and stats and give you an idea how your DPS will be like, it will not take fight mechanics in cosideration.

    I know very well that all the utilities are talents that you can skip and live without. You can probably complete any content successfuly with the hybrid build, but the question is why? What will you gain from a hybrid spec? This is what I don’t understand.

  10. Great post and grreat comments. I think some of this needs to be put into perspective. There are three situations where a bear cat spec come into play. The first is the emmergency situation where a tank dies and no rez is left. You as feral MUST switch to tank it. These are rare and not common.

    The second situation is where you are either an OT and now are at a boss that only requires one tank, or you are DPS and not at a boss that requires three tanks. In the past we usuall had dual specs and two gear sets to handle this. I really don’t see an issue staying with 99% of the talents of you main spec and then changing some glyphs/gear to get to 97% of the new spec. So if you were cat you might have to tank without Perserverance but you are thrid tank after all. And if OT but now dps I’m sure every RL would love a class that can do even 95% of the top DPS spec. So no Hybird here is what I’m saying.

    the thrid situation is more guild specific. I had feral cat as primary and my dual spec was feral bear. This was because tanks were/are in short supply and it’s much easier pugging or getting a dps for a raid then finding a tank if one didn’t show up. In these situation your role for the whole night was either feral cat or feral bear. And the expectations were there to be the best possible for that role.

    The hybrid build would be used to save one of your dual spec slots for something else (PvP, restro, etc). So the question is if the hybrid spec fits the bill for this thrid scenario. And I’m not sure at this point.

    To sum up I don’t think you would pick hybrid for the emergency tank switch. It just doesn’t happen enough of the time to warrant even a .5% reduction in dps.

    The second scenario where in a raid one boss only needs a MT and you as OT switch also doesn’t require a hybrid spec in my opinion. You always have the option to change glyphs and you can keep some other dps gear on had so your dps might be around 95% or so. That is still great. And for the feral cat aht has to third tank you can also change some glyphs and gear and still be strong enough. I doubt if the third boss in the room will be that hard anyway since it is most likely tuned so a MT can tank two at once.

    That only leave the thrid scenario where your guild wants you to be a tank and a dps depending on who shows up for a raid. Dual spec resolved that in the past and that leaves you with the choice of hybrid or dual spec.

  11. 3- You gain nothing.

    I disagree. Specially in 10-man with the new BR system (only one per fight), the ability to offtank on demand can be decisive.

    Considering that you can successfully tank without nurturing instinct, pulverize and perseverance, not taking the 4-6 points (specially Thick Hide) and some non major glyphs that give you the ability to successfully switch to tank in the middle of a fight is just losing too much IMO.

    If you are only doing 25s i guess that for a main dps going dps/dps (range) o dps/heal will be more than enough

  12. I appreciate the discussion related towards viable hybrid builds. Unfortunately in my guild, we already have a paladin and druid for tanking so my role as cat will be limited for DPS. I will be getting Survival Instincts for that “on-the-fly” tank ability, but most of my talent points will be going into pure dps talents. On a slightly off-topic note, Alaron what will you spec for leveling? I figured losing Blood in the Water for Natural Shapeshifter would be beneficial so that as soon as we ding 81 we can get Master Shapeshifter, then move points back into the talents. Thanks again for the hybrid info, it gives great perspective on how rounded feral is turning out to be.

  13. @Dabeasty- I definitely respect that position.

    @Grendizer- Same here. I had several specs loaded in Talented (Talented + ActionBarSaver were absolutely awesome addons for respeccing). I agree that you’re losing quite a bit of kitty utility by doing this, but I argue that for some scenarios, the utility of having a mostly viable tanking form available on demand trumps the other stuff.

    @Goodmongo- Tanks dying are rare? Your guild must be good. :P My general observation is that if a tank goes down, if I don’t go bear and grab it RIGHT NOW, it’s a wipe. (Of course, I’m frequently next on the melee DPS threat list, so it’s also a survivability thing.)
    I disagree with you, though on OT’s- I think a full cat spec is not viable as an OT (not enough dodge, no crit reduction, etc).

    @Noctuary- Yeah, BITW’s pretty crap for leveling (and Stampede/PredStrikes is a lot better…I wish we had a glyph that reset FC CD when enemies dies, like DK’s have with Grip, but apparently enemies are going to have quite a bit more HP, so it may not make a difference.) I’ll probably do a post with a leveling spec when we get closer to release date, but yeah, I’d agree with your suggestion.

    • @Alaron: How can you not have enough dodge if you’re gemmed for agi and have agi in the neck/rings?

      In retrospect, how could you have MORE dodge than a cat/bear spec by gemming the standard stamina? (assuming you do str/dodge jewelry AND trinkets you are still missing the agi for those pieces plus 18-20 sockets)

    • @Alaron:
      Do you mean by “a mostly viable tanking form available on demand”, an emergency tank that switches in combat when the tank dies? In that case it would be a squishier tank in DPS gear, but yeah can work if content is easy (i.e. outgeared) or the boss is almost dead. Which is quite rare scenario TBH. Whether it’s worth sacrificing kitty utility and DPS for that is debatable. I am inclined to think it’s not worth it.

      But if you mean a tank available when a main tank can’t raid tonight or has to leave the raid early, then I think the respeccing cost is a better alternative. In that case the hybrid build is just a gold saver. In my guild though, the Guild bank usually pays for respec cost if the raid leader asks anyone to respec.

  14. I’d put it this way, Alaron – while tank deaths are reasonably common in terms of a wipe, situations where a tank death is recoverable in terms of being able to survive and down it or even delay the inevitable are pretty rare. I’ve done it once or twice on Sindragosa, but only for as long as my CDs lasted; then I was toast. I’ve done it on LK once as well and we managed to beat him – but again, only for a few seconds. There are very few situations where I can be doing all-out DPS for the majority of the fight and then just switch right to bear just as the boss kills the tank, not gib everyone with some random cleave/breath, have the healers switch over to me okay and keep on going.

    Those times are awesome and legendary, but they’re very rare. I don’t ascribe to the ‘spec for the rare but awesome case’.

    @Tiosega:

    Gemming for agility doesn’t get you 10% more mangle damage; not even close. It certainly doesn’t get you 5% more lacerate crits. It doesn’t combine for both of those well either.

    And I’m confused about what you mean for nurturing instinct; it’s a cat talent. The reason you’d get it is to make yourself more healable and give your healers another big boost when it’s most important to do so (and save their mana). It has nothing to do with avoiding anything.

    • @Kal: Maybe not 10% more damage on Mangle, but if you add all the attack power and crit you get for all attacks you do more overall damage (and therefore threat).

      But I think we de-toured here. Hybrid spec its more than viable. It’s actually OP.

  15. @Tiosega: how on earth do you get that it’s OP?

    Put it another way: in which fights is being able to spec so that you’re a decent cat and a decent bear at the same time valuable?

    As stated above, it’s not a particular gain before the fight starts; it’s convenient but not amazingly different, and respeccing is really easy these days. Heck, druids have a teleport directly to a class trainer that’s independent of their hearth. So respeccing isn’t that special of a benefit.

    You will gain a bit more gear for your ‘off’ spec faster, so it’s likely you’ll be more prepared for your other role quicker or have higher pieces of gear. But again, that’s an emergency role and given how much tanking plate actually drops, it’s not as big of an advantage as you might think.

    For those pieces of gear, you have a choice of gearing suboptimally for cat or for bear. While agility and mastery are top stats for cats, they’re definitely not top stats for bears, so no matter how you slice it that’s not optimal – and that’s missing out on things like the metagem too.

    So we’ll take out the part where it matters at all what your spec is before the pull, since it’s clear that your spec/gear/glyphs before the pull don’t really matter and can be switched easily. What about during the pull?

    What fights give an advantage to a tank that can easily swap between roles? From recent times:
    - Halion kind of does, though honestly having a suboptimal bear on progression there would be a problem, and the fight isn’t a DPS check so having more cat dps isn’t a huge deal. Plus the only time you could dps is in the second phase, which really isn’t that special of a time.
    - LK requires two tanks the entire time. The best you can hope for is herobear, but it was enough of a DPS check that I”m not sure you could afford that, and you couldn’t tank him very long without stam gear.
    - Sindragosa requires a second tank only in P3, but extra dps in P1 and P2 isn’t that important – and survivability in P3 is. The second tank often wore random resist gear for the fight anyway, so switching here isn’t good.
    -BQL has the second tank just soaking hits. But you have to be in bear the entire time and your dps is going to suck anyway.
    BP requires three tanks all the time. No advantage but herobear.
    Putricide does well with 3-4 tanks, and was something of a dps check early on (especially on phase changes). Plus given the rotations, you could use CDs when tanking and likely survive for 20 seconds at a time without any issue. This is a good example of where this strategy could make sense.
    Festergut requires a tank swap and could use a good cat DPS after the swap. The problem is that you also need survivability early on, and potentially later.
    Rotface requires two tanks all the time. No advantage.
    Saurfang could have you switch to cat when not tanking, but it’s not that big a deal.
    Lol@gunship
    Deathwhisper did use 3 tanks late, and you could switch to cat if you were one of the two tanks on her – but you wouldn’t build up threat as fast, and that’s the primary importance. so that’s out.
    Marrowgar you pretty much needed to be in tank form; you could do dps during the bonestorm, but it’s hardly necessary.

    So of the 13 fights in late game, one (PP) has an advatage for catbear. Just one. And it’s not even that hard of a fight.

    I did this analysis for Ulduar, Naxx, and even Sunwell and BT. The thing is that fights like this just don’t exist any more. They don’t want them to exist; fights where someone’s tanking for a while and then don’t tank for a while aren’t fun for the tanks. PP was a failure in that regard. The closest we have are council-style fights where the councillors die one after another, but even they tend to require multiple tanks while tanking the boss (Iron Council hard mode is an example).

    The idea that you can tank and DPS in the same spec is a neat one, but it’s a solution in search of a problem. It’s hardly OP.

    • I’m sorry to interrupt so to speak but I have a few issues with your post that I would like to address.

      1. Even with Kitty gear using your CDs right you can survive long enough for the tank to drop stacks. Though I would keep that as an emergency option and not primarily be the OT cause it’s just hell to do, but a viable option if the tank dies.

      2. Bear DPS can be particularly high in comparison to most other tanking classes. In fact just last night I was in an ICC 10 with one who was pulling a pretty consistent 5+k dps. While that’s not completely overpowering in fights like Blood Queen he was hitting nearly 9k dps without getting bitten.

      3. I’ve never seen the blood princes done with three tanks, even in 25 man. I’m not saying you should randomly be flipping in between on this fight as that truly is a bad idea survivability wise but having the option to switch from Bear to Cat by rotating some glyphs isn’t negated by the fights in which it’s not 100% useful at any point.

      I have a few more small probably more opinion based issues but I think you get the gist of what I’m trying to say. The main advantage of the spec, at least for people like myself, is that my guild raid leaders can call me up and say X person didn’t show up and we need a replacement for Y position and when Z person has to go to work we may need you to quickly switch to A or B while we rotate C person in who doesn’t want to come until Z person has gone to work. Plus in Nax fun runs it makes the entire experience a hell of a lot more enjoyable.

  16. - LK requires two tanks the entire time. The best you can hope for is herobear, but it was enough of a DPS check that I”m not sure you could afford that, and you couldn’t tank him very long without stam gear.

    In our last HLK kill we had one of our tanks die at the start of phase 3 just before the frostmourne room. This ment that the 2 raging spirits were going to be loose after the raid was dropped out. I went bear (full cat spec and gear) and was able to hold them till they died. I did need to chain my cooldowns to make it, but having 4 helps (Barkskin, Enrage, Survival Instincts, Frenized Regen).

  17. Thanks for bringing this up! Throughout WotLK I raided in a tankable cat spec, mostly with my medium-casual 10-man group. I felt I fit a valuable role in our raid, for all of the “pro” reasons people have already mentioned.

    The one time I switched to having a pure cat and a pure bear spec was when my guild formed a 25-man for ICC and we were actively pushing progression. Once we had things on farm, I went back to my hybrid spec.

    My dirty little not-so-secret is that I’d rather keep my secondary spec for PvP, so having a hybrid PvE spec is very suitable for my overall playstyle.

    One last question: Which addon do you use to give you the “tank died” sound? I think I need this.

  18. I must say people downing on the viability of BearCats is down right disturbing. I’m not sure who said it but whoever said that a hybrid spec would not be able to successfully do anything beyond regs is very wrong. From personal experience using a build based off the Hybrid build I found here and rotating sets of armor for what is appropriate for each boss I was able to not only quickly learn how to tank but do it starting with H HoR as one of the first 3 randoms I got stuck in without so much as a hitch. I’ve gone from that to Tanking Nax, RS, and sections of ICC (mostly Sindragosa when the OT dies due to lack of Coordinated or good healers) with the spec. And as far as DPS goes I’m consistently hitting 10+k dps on bosses within ICC. This being said I fail to see how BearCats are bot a viable spec for WotLK and Cata. If anything it seems like the smartest thing to do while learning new raid bosses.

  19. Was a cool podcast, though I was disappointed with how little love tanks got in the talks =/

  20. Seriously… someone seriously claimed you can’t do hyrbid specs? What rock are they living under?

    11/12 HM ICC25… bear’d and kitty’d every boss (different weeks… different roles)… tree’d about half of them.

    We’re not exactly a pro guild, but we do okay.

    • It should be noted… my bear gear and cat gear overlap only a tiny bit (shared tier shoulders, and shared neck-piece), otherwise I carry 2 bear sets (stam set, balanced set), a cat set, and a tree set.

      There’s no reason you can’t MT HM’s with a hybrid spec, but you certainly need the gear for it.

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