Thick Hide – Theorycraft

February 8, 2011

4.0.6 went live today and with it the confusion with Thick Hide.  Is it buffed?  Is it a bug?  Why are there no patch notes on it (other than a vague hint)?  Why am I out of syrup?  Armed with only snippets of knowledge, the best approximation I can give is that yes, it is intentional and that the 10k armor gain isn’t a lie (but the cake is).

So, why?

A little back story, if you’ll allow me.  When 4.0 launched before Cataclysm, we all had this tremendous armor buff and none of us had any idea where it came from or why.  After a bit of research, people were able to determine that Thick Hide was giving us a 78% armor contribution from our gear.  None of us understood why.  It wasn’t annotated, and we certainly saw no need for the buff, but there it was.  About a week and a half after 4.0 launch, Thick Hide was hotfixed as a bug back to the 33% it was supposed to be… until today.  That’s also a main reason why many of us were wary of this change and the rumors whispered from MMO Champion when the PTR first went up.  It could be 4.0.1a all over again.

But my question is, did they hotfix the right thing back then?  There is/was another bug.  Hidden, if you will, to all but those who were able to notice a minute inconsistency and then pursue it.

When Tangedyn and I were looking into Vengeance to figure out how it was truly calculating, he and I noticed something else strange that couldn’t be explained away by any conventional means.  Attack Power.  I had extra attack power that I shouldn’t have had.  Despite everything, adding in all the multipliers, adding up all the buffs, going through possible scenarios, etc., we couldn’t pinpoint it.  Tangedyn eventually surmised that I was getting an additional 6% attack power while in Bear Form.  But from where?  Why?  We thought it to be a stealth buff.

Tangedyn got into contact with someone with connections, and the response was something unexpected: A talent bug.  One that the Devs knew about and were intending to fix with 4.0.6.  One they didn’t want to fix right away.  How long the Devs knew about it, I don’t know.  What I do know is that it meant a large portion of Bears were afflicted by this bug without knowledge.

I hope you’ll forgive us, but we chose not to mention it further except in private conversation.  Had we been forthcoming, it would have created a small amount of upset that none of us wanted to fuel.  In fact, it probably still will.  To be honest, I have to wonder if some of their damage changes were fairly done (it was needed, but depending on the numbers they viewed, it could have been a bit inflated).

But damage output is neither here, nor there.

So what is this talent bug, and why were only some bears affected by it and not others?

When 4.0.1a went live and the talent trees were redone, there were a few talents here and there that became ghosted.  If you were in the right spec with the right talents during this change, you suddenly had extra bonuses you shouldn’t have had.  Feral Cats experienced this with the (old) Predatory Strikes talent, which increased damage from melee critical strikes by 10%.  This was hotfixed out soon after.  What was ours?  Ours was a bit more significant than that.

Protector of the Pack.  Our old damage reduction talent.  If you were in bear spec at the time of the Shattering, you have had this bonus until today.  And yes, you had this bonus regardless of which spec you were in.  So long as you were in bear form, you were gaining 6% more AP and an extra 12% damage reduction.  I say “extra” because that 12% reduction is now in Natural Reaction.

It was like a double rainbow…

Until I realized I’d be taking more damage after the patch.  And believe me, I already take a silly amount of damage.  Well crap.  It also means a lot of new Bears are taking the damage we were all intended to take, and why some bears say they hardly take any, and some say they get wrecked.

That brings me back to the intention of Thick Hide originally.  Should they really have hotfixed our ghosted Talent in the beginning instead of our Armor?  Or did they just not realize until after the fact?  Either way, those of us that knew about this bug began to guess that our new and improved 78% Thick Hide is intentional as a way to make up for the ghosted talent we’ve had for over 2 months.

To be honest, I’m still wary of this nearly undocumented change.  It is a lot of extra armor.  I can’t explain the real why, only produce conjecture based off what I know.  With this change, we will be taking a more magical damage (12% more, but still less than the other tanks thanks to Perseverance), but less physical damage.

It’s possible this was done to compensate for the second loss of PotP.  It’s possible it was done to combat our weakness against AoE tanking.  It’s possible it was done to even us out on Hardmode tanking, where other tanks’ blocks scale off incoming damage and ours does not.  It could also be because we have a fairly low amount of self healing, and our increase in healing gained is a cat talent.  It could be a combination of all those things.

Until we’re told it straight, all I can do is guess and hold my breath.


To see how this buff affected your physical reduction, please visit Tangedyn’s mini calculator:

From his calculations, it’s roughly a 12% (sound familiar?) physical damage reduction, dependent upon your own armor.  The only thing those affected will notice is an increase in magical damage taken.

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