Apr 092010
 

Yay! The druid notes are up! Let’s take a look…notes in blue quotes, analysis as we go.

New Druid Abilities

Thrash (Level 81): Thrash deals damage and causes all targets within 10 yards to bleed every 2 seconds for 6 seconds. The intent here is to give bears another button to hit while tanking. Talents will affect the bleed, such as causing Swipe to deal more damage to bleeding targets. 5-second cooldown. 25 Rage.

Okay, this is cool, kind of like an AOE Lacerate. Of course, they’ve already said we won’t have as many AOE situations as in WOTLK, so it remains to be seen how useful it will actually be. Hopefully, it will be part of the single-target rotation as well.

Stampeding Roar (Level 83): The druid roars, increasing the movement of all allies within 10 yards by 40% for 8 seconds. Stampeding Roar can be used in cat or bear form, but bears might have a talent to drop the cooldown. The goal of this ability is to give both bears and cats a little more situational group utility. 3-minute cooldown. No cost.

Hmm…seems I said something in my last post about movement being a key thing in Cata? :) It’s hard to really judge the value of this ability without seeing the encounters that it’ll be designed for. Right now, it feels a bit weak with the 3 minute CD. (We’ll probably see something like Mimiron or Sindragosa where you have to leave point X within Y seconds…unfortunately, the run-out timers are tight enough that you really need to use this preemptively to save someone who’s slow.)

Wild Mushroom (Level 85): Grows a magical mushroom at the target location. After 4 seconds the mushroom becomes invisible. Enemies who cross the mushroom detonate it, causing it to deal area-of-effect damage, though its damage component will remain very effective against single targets. The druid can also choose to detonate the mushroom ahead of time. This is primarily a tool for the Balance druid, and there will be talents that play off of it. No cooldown. 40-yard range. Instant cast.

Please tell me this is a joke. Mushrooms? MUSHROOMS? WHAT THE HELL? Lord, and moonkin get laughed at now… Um, as for the actual spell, not really sure what to say. It’s basically a proximity mine, which won’t have a lot of PvE application. (…trails off, mumbling something about design committee deadlines)

Changes to Abilities and Mechanics

In addition to the new abilities listed above, we intend to make changes to some of the other abilities and mechanics with which you’re already familiar. This list and the summary of talent changes below it are by no means comprehensive, but they should give you a good sense of our goals for each spec.

All heal-over-time spells (HoTs) will benefit from crit and haste innately in Cataclysm. Hasted HoTs do not reduce their duration, but instead add additional HoT ticks. Haste will also benefit Energy generation while in cat form.

About what we expected from the previous class notes. Unresolved is the exact nature of how the haste works on the HOT…is it stepwise or linear? If it’s stepwise, then gearing is complicated again, as we have to gear for the haste level where we get 7 Rejuv ticks instead of 6, or something. If it’s linear, then how does it work? Also, nothing about Feral or Moonkin DoTs.

Unlike the other healers, Restoration druids will not be receiving any new spells. They have plenty to work with already, and our challenge instead is to make sure all of them have a well-defined niche. A druid should be able to tank-heal with stacks of Lifebloom, spot-heal a group with Nourish and Regrowth, and top off lightly wounded targets with Rejuvenation.

As expected from previous discussion. I assume Healing Touch will get some love, Nourish/Regrowth will be differentiated, and Tranquility will be made raid-wide (and probably nerfed to compensate).

We want to add tools to cat form and depth to bear form. If a Feral cat is going to fill a very similar niche to that of a rogue, warrior or Enhancement shaman, it needs a few more tools — primarily a reliable interrupt. Bears need to be pushing a few more buttons just so the contrast between tanking and damage-dealing is not so steep.

Yep! Yay for new interrupt. Pretty sure that was the #1 thing on my list for Cata.

Barkskin will be innately undispellable.

Yay for PvP, though trees won’t have quite the survivability anymore (because they won’t be trees…see below).

We will be buffing the damage of Mangle (cat) significantly so that when cat druids cannot Shred, they are not at such a damage-dealing loss.

Erm…they’re not really losing that much damage right now, if it’s Glyphed. I detailed this in a previous post. Hey, why not just make Shred usable from the front?

Druids will lose Abolish Poison with the dispel mechanics change, but Restoration druids will gain Dispel Magic (on friendly targets) as a talent. All druids can still remove poisons with Cure Poison and remove curses with Remove Curse.

As already noted. I thought they were rolling them together into one spell?

New Talents and Talent Changes

Tree of Life is changing from a passive talent to a cooldown-based talent, similar to Metamorphosis. Mechanically, it feels unfair for a druid to have to give up so much offense and utility in order to be just as good at healing as the other classes who are not asked to make that trade. We are exploring the exact benefit the druid gets from Tree of Life. It could strictly be better healing, or it could be that each heal behaves slightly different. You also will not be able to be banished in Tree of Life form (this will probably be true of Metamorphosis as well). Additionally, we would like to update the Tree of Life model so that it feels more exciting when you do decide to go into that form. Our feeling is that druids rarely actually get to show off their armor, so it would be nice to have at least one spec that looked like a night elf or tauren (and soon troll or worgen) for most of the time.

Uh-oh. Blogstorm coming in 3…2…1… Seriously, I understand the reasoning behind it, but healing really demands consistency, not cooldowns. A lot of people really like their Tree form, and will push HARD against this change.

We want to make the Feral cat damage rotation slightly more forgiving. We do not want to remove what druids like about their gameplay, but we do want to make it less punishing to miss, say, a Savage Roar or Rake. The changes here will be on par with increasing the duration of Mangle like we did for patch 3.3.3.

This was expected, though I’m not sure how you make it “slightly” less punishing. Perhaps our DoTs will ended up being a lower proportion of our damage, and/or SR will be less of a buff.

Balance druids will have a new talent ability called Nature’s Torrent, which strikes for either Nature or Arcane damage depending on which will do the most damage (or possibly both), and moves the Eclipse meter more (details below). The improved version of Nature’s Torrent also reduces the target’s movement speed. 10-second cooldown.

See? This is a good name for a balance spell. Is the mushroom committee taking notes? Moonkin needed another instant, and it looks like they’re getting it.

Restoration druids will have a new talent called Efflorescence, which causes a bed of healing flora to sprout beneath targets that are critically healed by Regrowth.

This is cool. I wonder if this will replace the HOT component on Regrowth.

We plan on giving Feral cats and bears a Kick/Pummel equivalent — an interrupt that is off the global cooldown and does no damage. We feel like they need this utility to be able to fill the melee role in a dungeon or raid group, and to give them more PvP utility.

About time…though if we get one, the rets will want one too, I’m sure. I’ve successfully been a part of an interrupt rotation with Maim, and it’s absolutely destructive to your DPS.

We want to make sure Feral and Balance druids feel like good options for an Arena team. They need the tools to where you might consider a Feral druid over an Arms warrior, or a Balance druid over a mage or warlock. Remember that the PvP landscape will probably look pretty different for Cataclysm with a focus on rated, competitive Battlegrounds.

Sounds good.

Mastery Passive Talent Tree Bonuses

Balance

  • Spell Damage
  • Spell Haste
  • Eclipse

Eclipse: We are moving Eclipse from a talent into a core mechanic of the class and making it less random. Balance druids will have a new UI element that shows a sun and a moon. Whenever they cast an Arcane spell, it will move the UI closer to the sun, and buff their Nature damage. Whenever they cast a Nature spell, it will move the UI closer to the moon, and buff their Arcane damage. The gameplay intention is to alternate Arcane and Nature spells (largely Starfire and Wrath) to maintain the balance.

Erm, okay, this seems contradictory. I can boost my damage in one school by primarily casting in that school…but I’m supposed to maintain a “balance?”

Feral (Cat)

  • Melee Damage
  • Melee Critical Damage
  • Bleed Damage

Lessee, way back on March 9th I said, “…bonus 1 will be Bear +damage reduction / Cat +damage increase, bonus 2 will be +agility, and bonus 3? Dunno. Maybe Cat +bleed damage, Bear +%HP?” Looks like I came pretty close. :P It doesn’t surprise me that they’re boosting crit damage instead of crit rate, with all the cap issues we’re having now.

Feral (Bear)

  • Damage Reduction
  • Vengeance
  • Savage Defense


Bleed Damage and Savage Defense: Feral druids will receive two sets of passive bonuses depending on whether the druid is in cat or bear form. Bleed Damage will be improved for cats. Savage Defense is the current bear mechanic for converting crits into damage absorption and will be improved for bears.

Vengeance: This is a mechanic to ensure that tank damage (and therefore threat) doesn’t fall behind as damage-dealing classes improve their gear during the course of the expansion. All tanking specs will have Vengeance as their second talent tree passive bonus. Whenever a tank gets hit, Vengeance will give them a stacking attack power buff equal to 5% of the damage done, up to a maximum of 10% of the character’s unbuffed health. For boss encounters we expect that tanks will always have the attack power bonus equal to 10% of their health. The 5% and 10% bonuses assume 51 talent points have been put into the Feral tree and the druid is in bear form — these values will be smaller at lower levels. Remember, you only get this bonus if you have spent the most talent points in the Feral tree and are in bear form, so you won’t see Balance, Restoration, or Feral druids in cat form running around with it. Vengeance will let us continue to make tank gear more or less the way we do today — there will be some damage-dealing stats, but mostly survival-oriented stats. Druids typically have more damage-dealing stats even on their tanking gear, so the Vengeance benefit may be smaller, but overall the goal is that all four tanks do about the same damage when tanking.

Kalon’s (Yes, THAT Kalon, he’s back, sorta. :)) got a long post up about Vengeance, so I won’t discuss it too much. I don’t really share his pessimism…I think Vengeance gives the developers a very easy option with which to boost tank damage/threat if needed.

Restoration

  • Healing
  • Meditation
  • HoT Scale Healing

HoT Scale Healing: HoTs will do increased healing on more wounded targets. The mechanic is similar to that of the Restoration shaman, but with HoTs instead of direct heals. In Cataclysm, we anticipate druids using a greater variety of their spells so there is a distinction between healing and HoT healing.

This is better for us then for a Shaman, I’d imagine, as this will help directly with what HoT’s are best at…high-efficiency HPS.

Overall? Ferals got a few new toys, but nothing overly special. We didn’t need much, honestly. A ranged silence would have been nice, but I’ll take the new interrupt for kitty form and be happy. Meanwhile, restos lost their iconic form, and got nothing of substance back in return, while moonkin got…mushrooms. Exploding mushrooms. Yeah, I’m happy to be a feral.

  8 Responses to “Druid Cataclysm Class Changes Analysis”

  1. Im just a bit worried about the fact that every class preview untill now has had the “dots benefit from haste and crit” part.
    lets just hope that they will add atleast rake to primal gore, because i think im getting a bit addicted to the t10 4p, and it would be a shame to loose the critting rake.

  2. I’m happy about the interrupt as well. Having greater ability to control a fight, like a rogue, is high on the wish list. I’m excited, and interested to see how the specifics look.

    “Yeah, I’m happy to be a feral.”

    Amen!

  3. The interrupt is awesome. I always feel like a bastard when I am on Deathwhisper with 5 combos and he casts his frost whatever and I don’t maim. :)

    In other news today, I see they are going to make combo points transferable from a dead target to a fresh target on a 1 minute cooldown (like rogues) – that’s going to be awesome too.

    My guess is they’ll nerf SR from 30% to 15% and up our base damage to compensate. And extend the durations of most of our DoTs.

    In some ways I like the fact that Shred is positional – even if no other classes have this requirement anymore. It makes things more challenging and interesting. I always have to make sure our tanks have marks on them in the raid, as it’s hard to tell which way mobs are facing otherwise (often). Maybe my eyesight is crap though.

  4. p.s Kalon is a grump and I stopped reading him awhile back tbh.

  5. Regarding dots, GC did respond with:

    “Most hots and dots, including druid ones, will benefit from haste and crit. The exceptions are things like Deep Wounds and Ignite, which are already tied to crit. ” (source)

    I am guessing this does mean rake/rip will benefit from haste/crit, as well :)

  6. I think you got the eclipse meaning backwards. You dont buff your school by casting in it, you buff the other school. Casting arcane makes nature spells better and vice versa.

  7. I can actually see the magic mushrooms being useful in some PvE situations. Take a fight like Grobbulus or Razorscale where the boss has to be kited around. Stay ahead of the kite path and keep dropping those suckers.

    Fights like Festergut where you’re (potentially) being asked to stand in melee range of the boss to keep the minimum number of people outside, you can just keep dropping them in your rotation.

    On trash pulls: “Drop the mushroom on top of me when I cast FF to pull. By the time it goes off, I should have enough threat to hold through it.”

  8. Every write up I’ve seen is unimpressed with Stampeding Roar but I think everyone’s missing the purpose. Blizzard focusing on battlegrounds in the expansion. That’s where it will shine.
    Sure the cooldown will mean you have to use it at the right time, but as a frequent flag carrier in WSG, I’ll love having a well-timed burst of speed that keeps my support with me.

    With all the movement changes mentioned, though, I’m sure they have specific raid encounters designed around movement.

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