Jul 172009
 

(Yes, I stole the post title from BBB. He decided not to use it, so hopefully he won’t mind.)

For those unaware, Ghostcrawler, the public face of the dev team, has been doing a class-by-class Q&A roundup– yesterday, it was the Druids’ turn. Here’s the link: read through, if you’d like, then I’ll publish paraphrases and my comments. Overall, however, I see some complaining about this Q&A, (hence the title) and I’d like to provide a counterpoint. I think Druids are fine…a bit OP, actually, though I won’t admit that loudly. I have a “State of the Druid” post upcoming in the next week or two, to hopefully go into more detail on that. Onto the Q&A!

History/Current state of druids:

  • GC acknowledges that, PVE-wise druids were (end-game) meant to be healers in classic WoW; that all specs were buffed significantly for BC (where trees and bears were great, cats and moonkin were viable but typically non-competitive), and buffed again for WOTLK, to where all four specs are viable. In PVP, resto druids have been dominant for much of BC, with the other specs being non-viable; now, resto druids have come back to the pack a bit, feral’s a bit below average, and balance has serious issues.

Bit difficult for me to comment on history (or PVP, for that matter) since my druid is mainly a WOTLK creation. This seems accurate, though. Moving on.

Balance:

  • GC thinks that Wrath and Starfire are not differentiated enough, and the Moonkin rotation, as a whole, is a bit stale, with not enough synergy between the spells. He likes the  PVP-wise,  he thinks casters in PvP are generally underpowered, with the exception of frost mages.

While I’ve never raided as Moonkin, I was specced Moonkin for quite a while pre-WOTLK, and I couldn’t agree more. The rotation back then was far too basic- keep up your two DOT’s, cast your highest DPCT nuke. Pop Starfall/Treants on CD. The addition and buffing of Eclipse helps, but it still feels like an arbitrary way to force you to rotate your nukes. Just for grins, lets look at some of the other casters fun abilities (I’m sure I’ll leave some stuff out):

  1. Fire Mages get  instant Pyroblasts.
  2. Frost Mages (as mentioned) get instant Fireballs.
  3. Arcane Mages get to adjust their rotation to prioritize DPCT or mana conservation; and get Missile Barrage procs.
  4. Affliction Locks get instant Shadowbolts and a spell Execute.
  5. Demo Locks get to weave Incinerate/Soul Fire, Demonic Empowerment, and Meta.
  6. Destro Locks get Conflagrate and Backdraft.
  7. Ele Shammies get Elemental Mastery.
  8. Shadow priests…Actually, I have no clue…lotsa DoT’s, that’s all I know.

The thing that strikes me? Most casters get either an RNG ”hey click me for instant burst DPS” button (All Mages, Afflocks), or a less frequent but timeable burst DPS (Demo, EleShams, or just general craziness (Destro Locks). Spriests need some help, and so do moonkin. Treants aren’t burst, thy’re essentially an instant DOT with variable damage. Starfall is good, but it’s underpowered. Eclipse gives you some burst DPS, but what’s crucial, you’re not hitting a different spell…you’re just hitting harder with your standard nukes. I’m sure Graylo or Hana has some really well-thought out ideas, but I think Wrath needs to be designed as the basic nuke, and Starfire designed as the hard-hitting nuke with a CD. Then, give MF a chance per tick to proc an instant SF, and IS a chance to proc an instant Wrath, or something like that. The set bonus is already moving in this direction, I think.

Feral:

  • GC doesn’t want druids to be able to DPS, tank, and heal, in one spec…being a superstar shuts out other players. He’s okay with hybrid builds, but thinks they’re relatively rare, as most players prefer to specialize in a role. He does want to encourage more shifting, so they’re considering reducing/eliminating shapeshifting mana costs.  He’s fine with the complexity of the cat DPS rotation, thinks cats have enough interrupts to be successful in PVP, and mentions the addition of Savage Defense and 360 degree bear swipe as good changes.

Well, I think I do just fine with  my hybrid build. :) I have successfully tanked Razorscale, then switched gear/glyphs/flask and and topped DPS meters on XT in Ulduar-25.  In general, though, I don’t understand how he can be down on hybrid builds, but want to encourage shifting more frequently. Can’t say much about PVP, since I’m not a PVP’er, but lowering shifting costs would certainly help feral PVP. Ferals can either burst like rogues, or absorb damage like warriors, but not both. The cat DPS rotation is excellent fun and should remain the same…I think bear swipe could use a rename, now that they’re pretty different, but that’s minor. 

Resto:

  • GC has a huge glurge paragraph on long-term plans for Resto. He specifically says “this is one paragraph you should read,” so go read it, but in summary, with the potential removal of shapeshifting costs, they’re trying to find ways to encourage more frequent shifting…possibly by making Tree form a CD, like warlock Meta. They really don’t like that trees are locked out from half the spellbook for what amounts to a buff.  They also don’t like that Druid armor never gets seen.

Well…okay, yeah, the spell lockouts are a limitation that other classes don’t have. So? If I want to cast damaging spells as Resto, that means that things are either totally screwed-up, or the content is so trivial it doesn’t matter. I don’t try to heal as a bear or cat (though Tranquility can still save 5-mans), and I don’t try to heal as boomkin. If we’re supposed to be specialized, then it’s perfectly fine if our other abilities are gimped. The fact we have them at all is awesome,  actually, only one other class comes close to our versatility (pallies).

The biggest problem, I think, and this applies to boomkin as well, is that there’s not enough differentiation between the specialized form and caster form. Boomkin/Trees don’t get anything special except a small buff.   Wild Growth/Starfall should probably only be able to be cast in their respective forms, for example.

Itemization:

  • GC answers complaints that crit is useless for trees, finding good tanking gear is difficult for bears since many pieces have block/parry, and cloth is often better than leather for casters. His answers: Yes; Yes; and dodges the last question.

I was a bit disappointed with his answers, but then again, I was a bit disappointed with the questions. Every piece of gear has stats that are good and stats that aren’t as good. Things would be easier, but ultimately less interesting, if every piece of caster gear had nothing but +spellpower and +int, or every piece of dps gear had +AP and +str. While he didn’t answer the question, I would not be surprised to find out that HoT’s can crit in 3.3. Of course, this will warrant a nerfing of HoT’s coefficients, so QQ will be massive regardless. For bears…meh. the only pieces that buff block/parry are cloaks, trinkets, rings, and necks, which provide the fewest itemization points. It does kinda suck that we have less selection, but it’s not going to cripple a bear to have an old neckpiece or cloak. DK’s have the same issue, but not quite as much since they can parry as well, so warrior/pally gear isn’t quite as bad for them. 

The caster issue is much greater, though, since that applies to all items. (Note: this question was rolled in with the tanking gear question…he answered that one and ignored the bit about cloth.) I personally don’t have a problem with letting resto druids roll on cloth, but our guild healers are very good at communicating to find upgrades. Pallies and cloth…that’s a little different story, due to the emergence of RF healer tanking being a large help on some fights. We haven’t really had an issue, since there always seems to be lots of healing plate to go around…but then, we’re short on holy pallies.

Minor Things:

  • GC dislikes relics being on the vendor, since then they become standard kit. He does acknowledge that some relics are too difficult to get, and is considering making relics part of an entire instance’s boss loot table. He has no plans for a special 310% flight form…your swift flight form will just speed up if you have a 310% mount. He may allow Warstomp to be usable in forms; and plans are to update Travel and Aquatic forms next.

Relics (sigils, librams, etc.) are silly, and Blizz needs to make up their mind what to do with them. Unlike regular items, there’s generally no choices involved…either you have the best one, or you don’t. It’s a very linear progression. The problem with making them boss drops is that there’s a high chance that they won’t be usable by anyone in the raid, which sucks, but that’s the case for several items. (Rogue daggers, caster plate, etc.) I could go either way with this, really…I just think it’s absolutely ludicrous that they’ve skipped three levels of idols for bears, so that your only choices currently are the lvl 70 badge idol, the blue idol from the Grizz Hills PVP dailies, or an idol from Gen V in 25-man Ulduar. Can someone explain why the badge vendor has an epic kitty idol, an epic resto idol, and an epic boomkin idol…and that’s it? The other stuff…sure, sounds good.

Whew, long post. Not going to be 1500+ words every time, I promise. 

Roundup of other druid blogger reactions:

  • Bell at 4Haelz likes being arboreal. (Yes, this is your vocabulary word of the day.)
  • Hana at Flash of Moonfire agrees with me that Druids are fine, and has extensive commentary on the Q&A. Go check it out.
  • Graylo at Gray Matter adds his moonkin comments. (Summary: Nothing new here.)
  • Lissana at Restokin has many thoughts.
  • Sylly at Rolling Hots can’t stand ANOTHER GCD to have to deal with.
  • Keeva at TBJ has much more to say about the possible resto changes. (Healing lazors FTW!)

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