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Shifting Perspectives: Anticipating the changes in Patch 2.4

Every Tuesday, Shifting Perspectives explores issues affecting druids and those who group with them. This week John Patricelli, sometimes known as the Big Bear Butt Blogger, takes a look at what is making his Druid cat ears perk up in the upcoming Patch 2.4.

What a difference a weekend makes.

Patch 2.4 has hit the Public Test Realms, and folks are getting excited at the changes and additions in store.

Since an entire new area is being added, with it's own late-game raid, instance and faction rewards, you know we're going to have a lot to talk about between now and when it goes live.

For now, as information gets dragged kicking and screaming out of the patch, I thought it would be fun to take a look at what specific patch changes Druids need to pay attention to.

Let's explore Druid fun in the patch after the jump!

When the patch notes for 2.4 went live, my guild was in the middle of a Zul'Aman run. I tabbed out to check the mail, saw the news the notes were up, and scurried off to go check them out.

As I looked them over, I shared tidbits over Teamspeak that I thought sounded cool (characters will now retain talented spell ranks so when they retalent they do not have to relearn the spells from trainers) and also sounded horrible (Monstrous Kaliri have learned how to chase players going straight up).

Sadly, the run was actually scrapped in-progress as most folks tabbed out to read the patch notes. That kind of thing says a lot about our desire to stay informed on what changes are coming to the game we love.

Either that, or it says a lot about how our progression was going that night.

Well, in this post I hope to answer the burning question... "What's changing for ME?!"

As far as I can see, here are the non-gear patch changes that may affect the Druid class;

Empowered Rejuvenation: This talent now properly affects the final heal from Lifebloom.

Frankly, I was unaware that this was either broken, or sometimes did not perform as specified. And as I try to research what the problem is that this is meant to correct, I'm not seeing a lot of other people reporting having this issue, either. So, if it has been happening and we didn't know... thanks for fixing it, Blizzard!

Gift of Nature: This talent now properly affects the healing from Tranquility.

Again, another bug fix for a problem I was unaware existed. If this had not been working previously, then I am very glad it's getting fixed. On those occasions when I am privileged to run with a Resto-specced Druid (something my guild sadly lacks), Tranquility actually gets used pretty often. Anything that gets it working as intended is great with me.

Insect Swarm: Casting lower ranks of this spell is now properly penalized like other healing and damage effects.

There were a lot of these kinds of changes announced in this patch.

Most folks, I'm sure, remember when the reduced effects of +Healing and +Damage to downranked spells were introduced prior to the Burning Crusade. Some people were unconcerned, but as a Resto Druid healing in raids at the time, my bread and butter spells were downranked Healing Touch for the faster cast times and mana conservation with high +Healing.

I was very concerned then that this was going to nerf my effectiveness... until it went live and I saw just how much +Healing was being added to the late game gear. So understand I'm not going to cry just because I see Blizzard is reducing something's effectiveness, at least not until I see how it works in the live game.

For Insect Swarm, I'm reading this as pure damage reduction to downranked versions, and not as something that will affect the Hit Reduction effects at all.

I'm going to think that this change is simply to stay within the boundaries they are setting for all such spells. Reduced damage isn't going to change the fact that this is going to annoy the heck out of anyone you cast it on, reduce their chance to Hit, and interrupt any spellcasting taking place.

On the other hand, this spell may have been doing enough damage when downranked to have been deadly in PvP. PvPers, what's your take on this? Do you really use downranked Insect Swarm a lot? Is this going to hurt your Arena performance? I'd honestly like to know.

Lacerate: This ability now deals additional damage based on the attack power of the Druid.

Okay, now this change is interesting. The supposed intent of this change is to bring the Threat Per Second (TPS) output of Lacerate more in line with the TPS output of Swipe at higher levels of play (and by higher levels, I mean Tier 5/6 gear).

This change should make Lacerate more effective when tanking in situations where it's not safe to be liberally throwing a Swipe around, breaking CC in close quarters.

From some results coming out of the PTR, it's looking like both the initial damage and the damage over time effects have been increased, with a boost of about 100 DPS per tick coming from a full 5 stack of Lacerate when Attack Power is at 2500+.

In the end, while it's still in testing stages, that's not a big increase, and at lower levels of gear will not make much of a difference in holding or maintaining threat. I have rarely heard of bear tanks complaining that they have trouble holding aggro on single mob pulls previous to now, anyway.

Hopefully, the final version will do as intended and help to scale our Lacerate TPS slightly upwards as we get closer to the late-game raids.

Personally, I'd prefer a shorter cooldown on Challenging Roar, say 5 minutes instead of 10, but I know that's just dreaming. And being greedy.

Mangle (Bear) now properly triggers a 1.5 second global cooldown, increased from 1.0.

Well, shoot. I'd never noticed that the GCD from Mangle was shorter than our other attacks. A longer GCD after Mangle means a longer delay before popping off another ability, like Lacerate or Growl.

It may be a fair change, but I still see this as a bit of sadness. A half second doesn't sound like much, but in reality it is going to slow down our initial threat generation just a tad, and you know what that will mean; more runaway mobs in the first few seconds of a pull, especially when you are trying to chain pull and the Healers are causing Global Threat keeping you alive.

And I don't want to hear about Spell Haste. What feral Bear is going to have Spell Haste? Ain't gonna happen.

But I'm not really complaining. It's just a little change that we will adjust to, it's not the end of the world. Just keep in mind you'll really want to keep those Hunters using Misdirection when they can, and perform your pulls with more aggressive threat generating abilities like Wrath, Starfire and Moonfire when time permits. Things that we should be doing anyway.

Natural Perfection: This ability will no longer be triggered by taking critical strikes while sitting. In addition, it is now affected by the Subtlety talent.

The biggest effect I see here is this is going to prevent your 5% damage reduction effect from triggering in PvP when drinking to regain mana. I can certainly see why this was done. As far as Subtlety affecting the 3% Spell Crit, that's a little nice, but I think this overall was put in place for PvP purposes. Since I don't PvP unless forced at gunpoint, I'd love to hear your take on this change as well.

Gems obtained through Heroic difficulty instances are no longer Unique-equipped.

I think this is an interesting change, but personally it's not going to affect me much. Being able to equip multiple Beaming Fire Opals, Enduring Chrysoprase, or Regal Tanzanite might make those Heroics more enticing to the dedicated raiding crowd. Yet more reason to chase the drop for dedicated min/maxers looking to eke out a few more points of Stamina or Hit Rating.

I know that I will continue to rely on crafted Rare gems for my needs, and if an Epic drops, it will be a lucky occurrence, not something I intentionally chase.

But I am rejoicing that I will no longer have to hear the casters in my Heroic runs whine that no one can use the Epic gem that dropped because everyone already had it. For that alone, I am grateful. Thank you Blizzard.

Non-corporeal Undead and Mechanical creatures are now susceptible to bleed effects.

What is there not to love about this? For the feral Druid, having more targets susceptible to our Bleed debuff from Mangle is delicious.

Of course, I am assuming that this change would also affect the Curator of Karazhan, as well as the non-corporeal undead of that instance.

I cannot wait to see how much fun it is to have a Rogue going to town on the Curator during Evocation with the Bleed debuff on him.

There are a lot of proposed changes to Idols in Patch 2.4.

However, I'm not going to weigh in on my opinion of any of them until I know what the actual changes are in real terms.

Yes, I know it's a cop-out, but some vague "we are increasing the mana cost reduction" message just doesn't tell me enough to know whether it's a big change or an ineffectual tweak.

The Idol of Ursoc is an excellent example of what I mean.

As things stand now, when they changed how Lacerate worked so that the majority of it's threat was 'front-loaded' on the first hit, and the threat from Damage over Time was multiplied by 0.2 (a pretty severe reduction in threat output), the Idol of Ursoc became very weak. The Idol of Terror, upon introduction, was hailed for bringing us a new strong tanking Idol.

Will the Idol of Ursoc be buffed enough to make it a useful Idol until you earn enough Badges of Justice to purchase the Idol of Terror? Will it be buffed so highly that it can even be a viable alternative to the Idol of Terror?

Well, okay, let's not go crazy. Chances are good that it might be buffed to 'okay' levels. But I'm not holding my breath.

The thing to remember about all the Idols that are being changed in patch 2.4, is that each of them are considered weak in comparison to something else, but most of them still have their situational uses.

There is no global cooldown (at this time) when swapping Idols, and you can do it when in combat. So, if you are using an equipment swapping macro or Addon, you might benefit a great deal from experimenting with using different Idols as your tactical situation changes.

Just as an example; the Everbloom Idol increases the damage dealt by Shred. This is situational, since you can only Shred when behind the enemy. The Idol of Terror has a chance when you Mangle to increase your Agility by 65 for ten seconds. In my experience, the Idol of Terror procs almost every time I activate Mangle. Hey, I said almost!

So, again we're talking as an example, if you were to leave your Idol of Terror equipped when in front of the enemy or just moving behind it, and when behind the enemy you used the idol of Terror during application of the Bleed debuff before switching instantly to the Everbloom idol and attacking with Shred, you would increase your overall damage, giving you the chance to have both the Agility buff and the increased Shred damage during your attacks. Swap back to the Idol of Terror to reapply the Bleed debuff, and back to the Everbloom Idol to resume Shredding.

As I said, it's just an example of the potential benefits from experimenting with Idol swapping... and why changing a bunch of underpowered Idol stats may change our game quite a bit.

I guarantee, as more facts come in, we'll be talking about Idols a lot more.

Weightstones and Sharpening Stones: The bonus damage from these temporary enchantments now works while shapeshifted.

This sounds like an amazing buff. I don't know whether it will truly carry over to live, but this would be the first temporary weapon-specific buff that I know of that would carry over benefits to shapeshifted melee attacks. I am really looking forward to playing with this.

A very solid percentage of our melee Cat DPS is generated from white (normal) melee attacks; on my own character white attacks account for about 38% of my sustained damage. Being able to add a damage and crit chance buff for the minor cost of an Adamantite Weightstone would rock.

Assuming it's true, then Blacksmiths should be delighted at having a very, very large market suddenly open up for their products.

Non-posted change: Mana Regen via drinking is changed from immediate benefit to a gradual increase.

To quote Drysc from a WoW Forum thread on this topic;

"There is indeed a change in 2.4 intended to offset some of the mana regen from drinking away from the very beginning of the duration.

However, we specifically made sure the water would not change the amount of mana regenerated by players who drink between pulls or during gauntlet runs. You should see little to no difference in the amount of mana yielded if you sit to drink for at least 6 seconds, which most players do."

The change causes you to get little to zero mana regen from drinking for the first 0 to 4 seconds, and then the amount of regen you get ramps up dramatically in the last couple of seconds. The overall amount of mana regenerated remains unchanged, this change just affects when you get it.

The main effect this has, as far as I can see, is to benefit a player that can run outside of combat range, and drink uninterrupted long enough to get the full effects of mana regen.

Normal PvE should not be impacted. But PvP, especially for Night Elf Druids...

There has been some discussion in various forums that this change will tend to benefit Night Elf Druids over other casters in PvP, since Night Elf Druids can use Dash to run outside of combat range, pop Shadowmeld, and then drink and gain some actual mana regen before they are hunted down and interrupted.

Again, a change that may or may not make it all the way to live, so we'll just have to wait and see.

There you have it, my own spin on the changes that are in testing right now. Weigh in with your opinions and results, and let me know what you think!

Filed under: (Druid) Shifting Perspectives, Druid, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Rumors

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