Hey, everyone.  Long time, no post.  I started leveling another Druid so I could pick up writing a Guardian leveling guide for LFD junkies.  Instead I was quickly sidetracked with how nearly unplayable it felt when first entering dungeons at 15.  As in, worse-than-swipe-at-32, unplayable.

This is my feedback and my rant.

Weird rage quirks – I spoke with someone on this, and they suggested it was akin to low level spells having smaller cast times and/or cooldowns because of the limited amount of abilities provided in total.  But, Rage per Auto Attack (RpAA) will go down as you gain levels until it plateaus at level 21.  That is, when we gain bear form at level 8, we get 27 rage per auto.  At level 9, 24 RpAA.  Level 10, 21 RpAA.  Level 11, 20 RpAA.  It then goes down 1 rage per level until 21 when we get the 10 RpAA that we are supposed to.  This is problematic for various reasons and I will describe most of them below.

Abilities – At level 15, we have two damaging abilities.  One with a 6 second cooldown (mangle), and one with a 3 second cooldown and a hefty cost of 30 rage(maul).  Both of them hit pretty soft.  Maul hardly hits for more than an auto attack.  Savage Defense has its large 60 rage cost, making it largely unusable, and Growl is just Growl.  At level 18, we gain Bear Hug – which is mostly useless and only mildly useful in certain situations.  At level 22 we gain Swipe.

That’s 7 levels without an AoE.  I’m not alone when I say that I believe all tanks, not just Guardians, all tanks, should have at least 1 AoE button to use upon entering LFD at 15.  It just makes life easier.

Instead for 7 levels, this is what we experience: Mangle, wait, wait, wait, Maul, Mangle, wait, wait, maul, wait mangle, wait wait wait, mangle, maul, wait, wait, maul.  That’s the sugar coated version.  What’s really happening during those waits is: Growl, no wait, chase that one down, no wait, mangle missed (EXPLETIVE), oh, maul missed too?  Word.  Lost threat here, don’t have enough rage there… Why does my face hurt?  Oh god oh god oh god, 60 Rage for Savage Defense, WHERE ARE YOU.  Get 60 rage – oh, look, mobs are at 10% health or there’s 1 left and it’s a caster, GREAT.  *thumbs up*

. . .

To be quite honest, at 15, rage isn’t too much of a problem.  Why?  Because you’re getting 14 RpAA.  Two autos and a Mangle gives you enough for a Maul, and it’s not that bad of a wait to be able to hit SD if you plan (way, way) ahead.  As you go forward, however, you’re getting less and less rage.  It is 100% noticeable.  You may not know that you’re getting less RpAA at higher levels, but you certainly notice being unable to hit Maul or SD as much as you started out being able to.  That is massively frustrating.  We go from having a certain amount of rage generation to less rage generation with the same amount of abilities, and getting and keeping AoE threat actually gets worse the closer you get to 22.

This was my typical rotation for a pack of 3 or more.  Run in and Growl #1 on the way in, auto attack #2, Mangle #3, Maul #1 if I lost it, whirl back around and auto attack #4, mangle #2 before I lose it again, maul #4…  For 7 levels.  For 7 levels I frantically switched targets, mashing Maul, mashing mangle, tab auto attacking, keeping growl almost on CD, praying neither of my physical abilities got parried, dodged, or missed, and bemoaning my inability to hit SD as my health seesaws back and forth because I need to use my rage on Maul.  Occasionally I’d be able to shift out and Moonfire 2 or 3 mobs on the pull, but if I had any amount of rage I’d stick in bear form because I know I’d need it sooner rather than later.

It’s also quite ironic that the one scenario where Thorns would actually have been helpful… and it was removed from the game.

And Bear Hug?  1 minute CD.  We can hit it and switch targets as a form of AoE opener, but it is really nothing special.  At level 18, we don’t want a stun on a 1 minute CD that we can kind of use for threat or kind of use for an interrupt.  At level 18 we want our AoE abilities because 3 levels of hell just happened.  Bear Hug just adds insult to injury at that point.

18-22 was the same rotation as above with Bear Hug sprinkled in out of complete necessity, not out of wanting to use the ability.  I only used it because I needed to, not because I wanted to.  It is a very lackluster ability and to be quite honest, we can do without getting it so early on.

Level 22 and we finally get swipe.  Oh my god, a breather from the hectic need to grab AoE threat with limited abilities and resources.

Except…

Swipe, Mangle, Swipe, wait….. wait…. Swipe, Mangle, Swipe, wait…. wait…. Swipe, Mangle, Swipe, wait….

We just went from frantically running around to: “oh… my-god… this is so painfully boring.  What… I can’t even…”

Why not add in Maul for a bit more flavor?  Well… Because Maul is a trap.

See… I know I should be saving my rage for Savage Defense.  Say what you will about low level dungeons but it’s still easily possible to drop dead if your healer is only half paying attention.  Especially if you have those swell DPS that like to run ahead of you and “accidentally” pull more packs of mobs as though the large pack you have now is beneath them to kill first.  DPS must flow…

Maul… hardly does more damage than an auto attack with a cost that’s too great for the damage it does.  And, I’m sorry, since when did MAUL go from “OH GOD MY FACE” to “heh heh… hey, that tickles… ^.^”?  Not cool.  Not.  Cool.

The average new Guardian isn’t going to know that, however.  They will have just spent 7 levels (perhaps more if they quested in Bear form) using Rage on Maul and probably ignoring Savage Defense because it wasn’t damage.  And they needed damage because the damage output is woefully slow and small that every bit was necessary.  It’s also teaching Guardians how to play incorrectly.  It’s teaching them the wrong priorities.  It can’t be helped because of the poor ability spread (I’ll get into that too, don’t you worry), but nevertheless, it’s teaching them to do it wrong.  They will get to higher levels, still be hitting maul, get asked why they’re not using SD and answer “lol, because I need rage for damage and SD costs too much”. (note: I am not saying that SD’s rage cost is too high)

Well… life gets a bit better at level 28 when we finally receive abilities that reset the CD on Mangle: Thrash and Faerie Fire.  In addition to that, Thrash will buff the damage of Swipe.  AoE ceases to be an issue and Rage flows a bit more freely – getting even better at 30 with the addition of Primal Fury.

But, that’s 15 levels of suffering in order to get the point to where it’s comfortable to tank and not feel awful about it.  Is that really necessary?  We’re back to the days of “just don’t tank until level 32 when you get swipe.”  There’s nothing fun about Guardian LFD leveling 15-28.  Nothing.  It’s awful, it’s mundane, it’s painful, there’s no synergy between abilities, there’s hardly anything to press, it’s frustrating, and if I was a new player I’d be completely turned off from Guardian until much later, if not forever.

That’s not Okay.  It was not Okay to tell Bears to wait until 32 to tank in Wrath, and it’s certainly not Okay to tell bears to wait until 28 or 30 to tank again.  Wrath was doable – we had thorns, maul hit really hard and rage was not in short supply.  This?  MoP?  It’s almost unbearable (no pun intended).  It nearly made me give up on it.  Never enough rage, abilities hitting for very small amounts because of the low base damage which was caused by unlimited Vengeance – which you don’t see very much of in low level dungeons.  I get, maybe, 50 extra AP?  That’s not enough to make a difference, even with chain pulling.

___

Moving on to the ability spread.  It’s… terrible.  Again.

  • AoE at 22, when it should be at level 14, 15, or 16
  • Bear Hug at 18, when it should be much later, allowing for something else to be moved down
  • Thrash and FFF at level 28.  2 abilities that reset Mangle, when 1 of them should be moved down (FFF to 18?) much earlier to get used to the synergy.
  • Ranged pull ability at level 28.  Compared to 20 for Warriors, 10 for Paladins and 10 for Monks.  Again, FFF to 18.
  • Lacerate is fine as is, though moving it lower wouldn’t hurt.
  • Barkskin: level 44. Availability feels a bit high still.  The SM dungeons hurt a bit more and the lack of cooldown is no fun.  It’s an improvement from getting it at 58, however.
  • Enrage: Level. Seventy. Six.  Is this for real?  Seventy-six?  Warriors get theirs at level 18 and they certainly have an easier time tanking – and do more damage.  What the hell?  What?  Oh, no.  No, no, no… I don’t want my resource generating ability until WELL AFTER I have very few problems generating it.  You must have me confused for someone that NEEDS it.  I can’t even talk about this without wanting to swear, so I’m just going to say: Lower the level we get Enrage.  By a lot.  Soon.  In 5.1.  Please.  Do it for Baby Cenarius.  Move like… Bear hug to 76.  I can live without Bear Hug until that point.  Really, I can.  I can live without Bear Hug until 90.
  • Seriously, take Bear Hug out of the level 18 slot.
  • … no really.

 

Low Level Guardians need a ton of help.  I took no enjoyment away from leveling my new one.  It wasn’t fun, it was tedious.  I did it because I had to, and the only “wanting” to was for the purpose of experience in order to give this feedback.

All I can do is provide this feedback and hope that they will be looked at, else we will be telling other guardians not to bother with tanking until 30 levels in again.

7 Comments

  • SgtGrumblez says:

    Very Nice post.. I wish GC would at least acknowledge the issues with Guardians at these levels. I cant even get a single reply back from him when I even mention Guardians.. Very sad…

  • Perrin says:

    I think you dismiss Lacerated too quickly. Give Lacerate to a bear at 18, and suddenly every second GCD is filled, 3/4 including Mangle, and all GCDs can be active when you get swipe. Not only that but throwing Lacerates on different targets teaches target swapping, and makes you appreciate swipe.

    Given that at 85/90 Lacerate is your ‘go-to’ filler for single target, they should get used to using it early. It would also help with early rage needs.

    • Reesi says:

      I likely did. To be quite honest, I wrote this post in a hurry so I didn’t forget anything. I plan on doing a more refined version for the tank forums after MoP releases. Probably one with less sarcasm and anger. :P

    • Perrin says:

      I’ve levelled a number of bears to 40 with RAF/Heirloom in the last two weeks, so I feel your pain. For me its more a case of “Wewt! Ding 38. Lacerate… count to 10. Ding 40, put it on the shelf for RAF level granting to monks.”

      The biggest issue I had levelling is that if I could hit stuff, it was mine for aggro. If I couldn’t it’d run wild. Lacerate would fix that mightily.

    • Reesi says:

      Yeah, I could see that, but I’m entirely used to Swipe being there and just being able to tab Mangle and Maul in order to maintain threat because of leveling in Wrath and Cata.

      My baby druid is also being leveled without heirlooms for a more painful comparison. Guess I’ll sweat it out until 38 to see how lacerate feels after that.

  • mythdol says:

    Thanks so much for doing this. I honestly hadn’t noticed the changes to low level bearing. I know I did the dungeon grind since level 15 and even in cata I felt like bears were more challenging than my other tanks. I think it wasn’t until my bear that I truly got good at it, simply because compared to others it was more challenging and more rewarding I thought.

    Looking at the new tree I wouldn’t recommend any baby bears to start at 15 unless there are changes. Really replacing maul with anything lacerate/FFF/swipe/thrash would be better than what we have now below level 22.

    Baby bears need more than just mangle!

  • quinzil says:

    I am an avaerage player who was a pretty aweful tank, and still may be in many other players eyes. I love it though, mostly because I love dungeons and hate waiting as DPS. I especially love the bear. I do the feel all the pain mentioned above everytime I start a new one, but to be honest, of all the tanking specs, I feel the lack of AOE and lack butt kicking low level abilities has helped me become a little less sucky as a tank. It’s helped me learn to multiple target, watch the less than patient twinked out dps, and keep an eye on my healer better. So while yes it’s painful, I think it’s also helpful in a casual tank’s eyes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *