Thursday, February 11, 2010

In Favor of Furor: Seeing Red over Blue Rage

To those of you who are trying to spare me from the fate above, I thank you.  The argument against Furor, which I've gotten twice now in the last two weeks, is this:

"Furor is not needed now that Enrage gives instant Rage."

This is the orthodox, safe, standard, popular opinion. If you want to go with the flow and save the TL/DR below, awesome. /salute

This snap rage is nothing new. Enrage alongside Improved Enrage which later became Intensity used to give snap rage, though not as much, and the above argument against Furor was just as popular back then as it is now that they consolidated the two talents. For more on this, see BBB's July 04 2009 post on endgame raid tank bears vs "facepulling" 5-man bears.

Ultimately, Furor lets you use you mana as rage. It's that simple. It gives you a guaranteed infusion of rage whenever you need it, as long as you have enough mana to make it back to Bear form. If you can take advantage of this during a powershift to break out of a root (Deadmines Frost Novas come to mind), more's the better. And you don't have to choose between them--you can use both Enrage and Furor if you want (I do often).

So, with respect to Bear tanks talented into Furor, Mana is not Mana. It's blue rage.

The most rage efficient mechanism for generating threat at level 20-30 for four or fewer mobs, is to keep Maul and FFF on cooldown. Swipe's "threat per rage" vs fewer than 5 mobs at low levels is abysmal, and without Savage Defense there's really no reason not to save the extra 5 rage for your next Maul and to target cycle.

The only mobs that you're going to be able to actually make stick to you when spamming Swipe are melee combat mobs (casters stay put and cast), so blowing Enrage in order to Swipe spam a pack of melee mobs is probably a very poor idea for low level encounters.   Swipe's threat generation isn't worth the rage cost.  I don't think it can stand up to a Mage's Blizzard at early levels.  Even if you can keep the melee mobs on you, Enrage comes at the expense of 27% of our base armor, which is exactly what you don't need when you're Swipe spamming melee.

Not that I'm arguing for the value of the extra armor, really.  The early value of Thick Hide is possibly worth debating, but probably not worth it.  Armor's contribution to survivability is pretty limited for low level Bears.  I never ever stack armor in the 20s, but the time when armor would conceivably be most useful at my tender level is when I'm surrounded by melee mobs, making that a very poor time to blow Enrage.  So, Enrage for Swipe spamming, I'll conclude, is not useful at this point in my tanking career.

Conversely, armor doesn't contribute at all to survivability vs. magic damage, so saving Enrage cooldowns for caster encounters is probably its optimal use.  The armor penalty means nothing at that point, so it's just free rage and makes a great burst if you need to drop a Bash, for example, in WC when the druids are about to cast sleep on your Healer.

Once you get Savage Defense, then combined probability on crit strikes vs. melee mobs becomes a major contributing factor to survivability, and Swipe is totally redeemed. Also, by this time you can talent into Feral Swiftness / Natural Reaction to fuel extra rage generation from dodges. At this point, temporarily speccing out of Furor is probably very smart.

But, between target cycling glyphed Maul, watching my autoattack swing timer and rage meters for good opportunities to powershift, and my Dealers following the kill order, I have zero problems right now with threat generation or keeping aggro. I'm pretty darned good at it, actually. So, dropping furor on the premise that my talents can do my tanking for me is not in the cards.

Survivability is really not impacted by Thick Hide at my level. At all. In fact, I dropped 20 gold to respec and ran a TankPoints comparison on it, and three ranks in Thick Hide left my overall damage mitigation completely unchanged. At these low levels, tanking is all about Stamina, and paying attention.

The 4% added dodge from Feral Swiftness is really tempting, though, and I'm looking forward to having it, but it doesn't become a no-brainer until it can be combined with Natural Reaction. Savage Defense with Swipe Spamming makes Feral Swiftness / Natural Reaction (FS/NR) a murderous combo.

There are two feral talents that are absolutely worth speccing out of Furor for, in my opinion. The first is Feral Charge at L30. The second is Mangle at L50. The FS/NR is also a worthwhile combo to spec into. But Swipe and FS alone are just not worth it.

I'll probably spec into and out of Furor a number of times as I climb the tree. It's sort of a "training wheels" talent, scaffolding to prop us up as we level. Furor / powershifting enables a certain style of play that I find challenging and rewarding, so I will keep it for the time being. If I could use mana (which I don't need) for rage (which I constantly need) without burning 5 talent points, I'd love that. The bonus ability to keep my energy in cat form should take some of the pain out of leveling.

What can I say?  I think there's value in blue rage.

Anyone who decides to play differently, devoting themselves to deep feral from the beginning, and forsaking the impurity of the Resto tree, as long as they are having fun with the results of their decision, is doing what they ought to, and I won't recriminate.


  1. Seems like a good plan. Furor is a nice tool to have, but definitely not a requirement. Speccing out of it for Feral Charge and Mangle are 100% worth it.

  2. This is really only an issue at mid-lower levels, since bears almost unilaterally get Furor on the way to Omen of Clarity these days (though not all go 5/5, stopping instead at 3/5 to pick up both ranks of Imp. MoW).

    As for the use of enrage, I powershift/enrage before the first pull and after any pull that leaves me with low rage. I don't generally get complaints about spending a few seconds before the next pull. Most of the time, I do it right after the last mob goes down if the healer has mana to continue and its duration is nearly over after the looting. If not, I cancel it after I get enough for my opening attacks.

    I can see the argument against having it that early, though. I don't necessarily agree with that argument, but I can see its merit. It's really a playstyle thing, I think.

  3. Nice blog ;) I noticed you when i decided to update my own blog again *hides in shame*

  4. @Mak: Hey buddy! Good to see you back in the world again. I think it made a lot of sense to pick it up in the 10-19 bracket, it's tough to hold on to it in the 20s, as some of the Cat talents come into reach. I've got insane income on my server (~16,000 alliance characters), so can afford to respect often, and will likely drop it at least twice in the next 30 levels.

    @Tarskin: Thank you very much, sir. Glad to be back and writing again--no shame required, otherwise it feels like a job =)