Melee Bear vs. Caster Bear

Summon Bear is one of the oldest skill trees in the game, and it shows, in a not-great way. The vast majority of its nodes relate to casting thorn-like skills in retaliation, and in that regard, it’s fine. Especially if you take the Druid mastery, as one of the last passives in the Druid tree give 40 spell damage to your bear casts. Not to mention Entangling Roots, which can give another 40 spell damage for a total of 80 spell damage just from those two nodes alone.

But what about Melee bear? There are some synergies within the Bear tree, but compared to the caster bear, it’s just very disappointing. Here’s the list below:

  • Bear has the option to use your Swipe tree, but it takes 4 points just to get it to a reasonable cooldown (2.4 seconds or so). It brings up the idea, “hey, why not use the node on Swipe that gives it a cooldown but gives 1.8X more damage to Slowed targets?” Well…
  • War Cry (activated off of Werebear’s Roar) gives the Berserk ability, which can also apply to your Bear. Yay! But wait, if Swipe is on cooldown, then you can’t stack Berserk stacks at all and risk losing your stacks altogether. And Rampage + Maul are either too inconsistent or have too long cooldowns to serve as melee hits to keep the Berserk stacks up.
  • The Swipe tree has so many useless nodes it’s not funny, and it’s downright hilarious (in a bad way) if you’re trying a cooldown Swipe build. Aspect of the Panther has anti-synergy with Cooldown Swipe, as well as the Bleeding nodes (2.4 seconds for one bleed stack! Woo!). The right half of the tree is trying to convert Swipe to Lightning, which I assume doesn’t even work because the Bear’s regular hits would still be Physical. Then there’s the Claw Totems… why is this still a thing in both the Swipe and Bear trees? All in all, if you’re going for Cooldown Swipe, you only have 12 or so useful node points before you get to that point where investing any further is pointless.
  • The Nature of both the Bear tree & the Druid passive node that limits companions to 1 provides multiplicative health bonuses to your bear, which is great for heavily reducing the number of Minion Health suffixes you have to apply, but sucks if you want to incorporate totems in any way, since their health will be far worse off without the necessary affixes to keep them alive.

If I wanted to dig down further, I can probably find a whole bunch of other useless oddities (like Swipe using the Companion’s ability and healing the Companion to full, making the Bear’s Roar completely useless), but the biggest thing I’d like to see is Swipe being reworked so that the Bear can use it and not feel completely helpless.

And not having a Unique that gives Werebear more damage for having a Bear on the field is criminal. I’m just saying…

I mostly disagree. The bear using your swipe is great. I agree that Swipe on Cooldown is a terrible idea for a werebear build, and in general, which renders the anti-synergy with aspect of the panther mostly moot.

Converting swipe to lightning works well, that’s what I just built my bear / werebear combo to do, with the lightning swipe gloves. You trigger the conversion 1/3 seconds baseline, plus 1/3 seconds from the gloves, plus whenever you drop a totem. Speaking of, I used claw totems both myself and with the bear, and routinely had 10+ on the field, absolutely shredding any enemies including minibosses who dared approach in a clump. Solo large targets the damage was unimpressive, granted, but that’s werebear druid in general for you.

Given that the totems are stationary and enemies die quick, their health was never a concern. My melee swiping bear and his melee swiping bear sidekick (you decide which is which) had a grand time, and the bear definitely did not feel completely helpless by any means. I agree that cooldown swipe is a terrible idea, generally speaking, but basically disagree on everything else.

Though I’d certainly not object to having a unique which benefits the damage of werebear and bear companion alike. Maybe a set of gloves, the “bear hands”, improving your companion’s melee damage and yours while transformed or something. Would be cool.

I’m confused: you say you disagree with me, but then your points match up exactly with what I’m saying, so I don’t know how you’re disagreeing…

Lightning Werebear + Bear would be great… if there was a way to convert the Bear companion’s Physical damage to Lightning, but there isn’t, so you’re stuck with the bear mainly having Physical attacks with a Lightning swipe every 3 seconds or so. Yeah, there are modifiers for Melee Minion damage that can give both of those damage boosts, but you generally want to stick with one damage type for maximum efficiency.

The only thing that actually goes against what I’m pointing out in my post is the Claw Totems thing, which great that it works for you, but it’s near useless against big boss enemies like Orobyss that don’t have adds to kill.

Any way you put it, you either end up with Cooldown swipe on Wearbear so that both the player and the pet have Swipe on Cooldown (which we both agree is awful, considering War Cry + Berserk on Bear Companion is just so much better), or we have general melee Werebear where the Bear’s swipe ability just doesn’t do that much since it’s on cooldown so often you can’t use it for things like stacking Bleed or Physical Penetration.

I shouldn’t have said the Bear is helpless, just that it sucks that the Bear companion has to use Swipe on cooldown when so many of Swipe’s nodes are anti-synergistic with cooldown Swipe. There are so many ways to make Swipe better so that the Bear can take full advantage of it, so I don’t know where there is disagreement.

The points I disagree with:

  • Melee Bear is very disappointing. I found it to be very nice.
  • Converting Swipe to Lightning doesn’t even work with the Bear. It does, the regular hits deal very little damage, but that’s perfectly fine. It’s still nice and tanky and absorbs aggro and the lightning swipes deal Chunky damage.
  • Claw totems are useless. I found them to be exceptional, in all circumstances other than mono-target bosses, and I personally doubt those 3 points spent elsewhere would fix the low DPS werebear builds in general have in such circumstances.
  • The swipe tree has so many useless nodes it’s not funny. In my book the only useless ones are Claws of the Bear which singlehandedly ruins everything the bear does well, and the two which are unfortunately locked behind it (which on their own would be great). This is because I can’t envision a build which wants Swipe and is also ok with it being on cooldown more often than not.
  • The passives which provide multiplicative health bonuses and resultant lack of focus on minion health suffixes leaves your totems with terrible health, which sucks overall. I didn’t personally find totem health to ever be a problem, maybe it becomes one in high corruption end game, I wouldn’t know. But from my perspective the single companion limit passives (in BM at 5 and Druid at 35) are nothing but a boon, and totems can die as fast as they want it’s fine.

We agree that claw totems are useless against big bosses without adds (giving even a 1% per rank chance to drop them when hitting a rare enemy would be better design no doubt, but I think they’re still useful as-is while you question why they exist), we agree that cooldown swipe is a terrible idea which fundamentally breaks everything the werebear otherwise does well, and we agree a unique centered around the werebear + bear combo would be cool. 5 points I disagreed with vs 2.5 I agreed with, which is why I said ‘mostly disagree’.

I’d be totally fine with Swipe getting some love and bear getting some love and werebear getting some love; I think it’s a cool build and wouldn’t mind seeing it refined and improved upon. But I think a bear using Swipe as it’s currently designed without a cooldown would be absurdly powerful, likely far too powerful compared to other companion options, and I’d be leery of any redesigns of Swipe’s tree which sought to synergize with cooldown swipe for you and / or the bear, as I think it’d be easy for it to be worse than current options, possibly by a significant margin.

I didn’t realize that threads stay open for a whole year, but I wanted to provide an update and let people know I’m still working on this project. I haven’t specifically played much of my Werebear + regular Bear melee, because honestly, I find it very squishy and unreliable, especially as the regular Bear can’t do its healing taunt unless I spec into Cooldown Swipe. I have, however, played several different Primalist specs that I simply find much, much better, and I’ll go into detail about them.

For melee “Berserk” set-ups (as Bear has access to it), Beastmaster with solo Raptor is hundreds of orders of magnitudes better. It was initially meant to be a “use Eterra’s Blessing with the Raptor evolves node to make the companion a giant Godzilla,” but I’ve optimized it a lot (sadly the evolve node is… again… useless against bosses with no adds), and Aspect of the Shark + Aspect of the Lynx blows everything the Druid has out of the water. I have access to the same “War Cry makes everything Berserk” tree, and Gathering Storm is infinitely better than Swipe in securing that both the player and the companion can crit for huge damage (and leech thanks to the Lynx passives).

As for “spell damage” Werebear, I’m playing with a Lighting Swipe + Thunder Tempest (from Tempest Strike) Werebear with the Raven companion, as the Storm Crow has 150% increased Lightning damage for every 100% Lightning damage that I have, so the Raven has over 1,000% Lightning damage alongside its basic attack damage multipliers (a 2.2X direct boost at the cost of 6 Mana per attack is amazing considering how easily Werebear can keep its Rage filled). I tried using Crowstorm at the cost of running cooldown Swipe, and it was a disaster! Keep it to Swipe with War Cry + Berserk, it works so much better. I’d say it’s less effective than the Raptor Beastmaster, but tons better than the Werebear + Bear.

All in all, I think the only way that the Bear companion isn’t obsolete is the Maul to Entangling Roots combo, and even then, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Spriggan form to activate Entangling Roots does the job better (Entangling Roots costs a ton of Rage, and taking the Werebear route denies it the skilltree nodes that provide Rage on Hit / kill. I’m definitely disappointed in the lack of Werebear + Summon Bear synergy, and hope it gets rectified in the future.

Sad to hear that, but, erm,

Shouldn’t that be “Bearserk”?