Wednesday, January 27, 2010

On Bricks, Backstrafing, Talents and Professions for Baby Bears

After doing more work last night with backstrafing, I wanted to share a couple of my observations. But first, a note on the name "Brickflank". Since choosing this name for my new Bear Tank, the word "Brick" has been marinating, infusing itself into my whole mindframe regarding Druid tanking. Bottom line is that it's just a fun word, and a damned fine metaphor for the tank role.

But enough on that. On to the sauce.

First, I have absolutely confirmed that while backstrafing away from an enemy, I can not only dodge their attacks while withdrawing, but also deliver my own attacks. And, at the moment of my choosing, I can drop a Nature's Grasp for the root and make a little distance. This could be very useful for tricky pulls where you are forced to pull two mobs but need a little one-on-one quality time with one of them.

All in all, it led to quite a few interesting encounters. Imagine me, strafing into trees and shrubberies while trying to learn how to backstrafe while still remaining aware of my surroundings. I still feel like a baby bear, batting around bunnies in the backyard. But, I tell you, there's a Brick inside, just waiting to claw his way out.

The day after I got Bear Form, I continued to struggle with what professions I'd pick up, and spent an evening doing prep work and chores. First, I took the long boat and train ride to Ironforge and trained up maces, happily ending my fishing pole's reign as the best weapon I could afford. After that I decided to grind out some startup capital and get the old economic engine up and running, churning out about 30 gold with various fish, herbs, leather, and other farmed goods, as well as a few well placed local recipes that tend to sell for a lot on the auction house. Some poor guy also bought a stack of Refreshing Spring Water from me for 10g. Now I know how Coca Cola Company feels.

I immediately dumped this income into a couple of green tanky items and a respectable lumberjack shirt. Let's face it. I'm going for the "Brick" effect, and nothing about a wiry pink-skinned Night Elf with his chest-bits showing says "Brick" to me. Lumberjack shirt took care of that issue. I now feel that I can call myself an ursine of promise. That shirt will be with me forever, I have a feeling about this.

Fully recognizing that these profession choices are temporary, I picked up herbalism and skinning, and started to make the most of them. While doing so I had time to think about the three main gathering professions. Each of them "feeds" one or more of the crafting professions (I'm not talking one-off recipes that require a crossover item, but honest daily working relationships here). Skinning feeds only Leatherworking. Herbalism feeds both Inscription and Alchemy. Mining feeds Engineering, Blacksmithing, AND Jewelcrafting. Experience tells me that there's a glut of glyphs on the auction house, because people rarely need to change their glyphs out, so there's not a great deal of income in Inscription, effectively negating it from the list of potential professions I could feed with a given gathering specialist. Some time ago, I recall reading a comparison of the end-game profession benefits on Druid effective health, and Engineering was high on the list. Experience confirms that engineering makes for fun tanking. So, I can guarantee I'll switch Brickflank into Engineering at some point. It's also worth noting that as you go through the leveling process you tend to accumulate tremendous amounts of various materials. I don't think that maintaining two serious gathering professions on the same character is in the cards for me, at least not for very long. Brickflank is destined to be an engineer, but I'm not resolved on whether or not I'll make him a miner as well. Skinning begets Crit and leather for tanky gear as I level.

I had a proverbial "moment of fear and pain" deciding how to allot my first handful of talent points. It really comes down to two choices. First there is Furor, which gives us that rush of Light, Sweet, Rage upon first switching into Bear Form and helps to prime the line for an opening Maul. The second is Ferocity, which reduces the Rage and Energy requirements for a host of our front line skills such as Maul, Swipe, Claw, Rake and Mangle.

You want them both. It's true, but until L19 you can't handle them both. Too much power in one so young leads only to the dark side. Or so I'm told.

I went with Ferocity, because it comes with a guarantee, whereas climbing the ladder to Furor 5 still leaves a chance of zero effect in the crucial opening moments of an encounter. It could mean the difference between holding aggro on a group fight and wiping on a pull.

Level 12 brought with it Enrage and Revive, both of which will prove tremendously useful for when I get in over my furry little head or things go South in a fight. And I will. I've got a full slate of quests lined up in Darkshore and plan to pound back some levels tonight and push for L19, at which point I might actually turn off XP for a bit and do some tanking in Deadmines and Wailing Caverns, try out the new random dungeon feature, and get back out in front of a crew.

Coming up: A glimpse at glyphs, tanking cuisine, bartender and macros for baby bears and a special surprise for old times' sake.

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