This seemed like a natural follow-up to the first article, or rather expansion on it.
Ferals get a lot for free. It's great. We're crit immune and sporting tons of mitigations and some dodge and parry reduction out of the box. Life's good, and blizzard is piling on the sweetness with the upcoming changes to armour, providing even more scaling before you even start gearing up. Sure we're getting hit by a small nerf to current top end armour(although how small it actually is is debatable), but we can live with it. And besides, we'll make up for it with the next iLvl gear. So why am I concerned about the future viability of my furry friend?
Put simply, the problem is the 3.0.8 changes are going to help us hit the armour cap faster in the long run. Armour scales ridiculously well with harder hitting mobs. We might even max out armour during T8. We're almost certain to max out expertise in T8. And we're already knocking on the point where dodge starts to feel the effects of diminishing returns. Sounds good, right? But what's left for us to scale with then? Stamina? With Blizzards stated goal to avert the endless mana of late TBC, the upcoming JoW nerf for high int classes and nerfs to aoe-healing, we're likely to see healers blowing more mana on raidhealing, and having less mana to work with. This won't be a problem for current top end guilds, as we already outgear the content by a country mile(and is unlikely to be felt hard in general on the T7 level). What it does mean, is that going into the next level of content, healers are probably going to start to feel the constraints of mana-shortages. Stacking stamina in such an environment will get you many angry remarks about that stupid manasponge of a bear-tank. But that's all we really have left to scale with. And this scares me. Because by the end of T8 this means other tanks will be on level with us, but they still have ways to improve themselves. We won't.
You might argue that armour scales not simply as you get more of it, but it scales as the hits get bigger. This may be our saving grace until Blizzard gets around to figuring out how they really want us to work. But having played underdog classes in the past, waiting for Blizzard to get around to fixing a fundamental flaw really does not fill me with confidence. We need a comprehensive re-think akin to that which paladins received in the beta. The problem is Blizzard already gave us a fundamental reworking, and we're getting another, almost as important one, in 3.0.8. And yet neither of these addresses the problems looming over the horizon.
There is hope, but past experiences makes me weary. While I don't expect to find any gear tailored for my tanking needs in T8, there is the chance that if Blizzard does decide not to give us proper leather tanking gear they might instead feel we have to gain more from offensive stats into defense. If so, we're set for a reverse-paladin style mechanic, not gaining offensive powers from defensive stats but perhaps scaling our healability from crit or AP. If our healability is allowed to scale, it opens up an endless scaling in terms of stamina when coupled with good DPS-stats. The risk might be that stamina becomes simply too powerful or that druids can become a lot easier to heal, allowing a raid to bring more DPS and less healers if they stack druid tanks with high healability and mitigation. There are many pitfalls and if something is done, it's quite likely to have to result in nerfs to our base talents. Will Blizzard accept nerfing most druids to maintain the highest geared druids as viable tanks in late T8 and going into T9? This remains to be seen.