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Patch 3.2 Druid changes, part II



Innervate: Duration reduced to 10 seconds, and cooldown reduced to 3 minutes. This means each use of Innervate will give half as much mana as before, but it will be available twice as often.

This is actually a good solution to the problems posed by Resto mana efficiency in arena, because most matches are not lengthy affairs (or at least, not ideally so). Additionally, it should have little to no effect on PvE gameplay as long as people are smart enough to blow Innervate earlier than they would normally. The only type of PvE encounter likely to be affected are short-duration fights with high raid damage. Stokin' the Furnace comes to mind, but if Innervate doesn't cut it you can always use a mana pot.

That said, I have to wonder what effect this is really going to have. Resto Druids have always encountered the most success in 2v2 arena, and 2v2 will cease to exist as a means of gear progression in 3.2. We aren't really designed to outheal the burst in 5v5, and Druid teams have historically been weak to the ubiquitous Rogue-Mage-Priest of 3v3. Resto Druid representation is basically halved in 3v3, then halved again in 5v5, Balance is a very distant second as a viable arena spec, and Feral is barely on the map in any bracket. Commenters have noted that Feral's encountered some 2's success in combination with a Disc Priest -- and a well-geared Feral is very difficult to kill. However, in the absence of an MS effect, matches tend to be pretty long, which is made possible because the Feral can...Innervate the Priest. Round and round we go.

The sum total of this is that Innervate's being nerfed at the same time that Resto's most forgiving bracket is going bye-bye, and Balance/Feral continue to maintain dismal arena records. Quoth the Magic 8 ball, "Outlook not good."



Glyph of Innervate: Duration reduced to 10 seconds.

This dovetails into the duration change of the new Innervate, so no surprise here.

Improved Barkskin: No longer provides dispel resistance to all effects on the druid, but now reduces the chance your Barkskin is dispelled by an additional 35/70%.

Improved Barkskin was most often used in conjunction with 3/3 Subtlety to provide near-total dispel immunity for 12 seconds while the Druid Innervated, which accounts for the number (and volume) of forum complaints concerning the need to force a Druid to go through 2+ mana bars in any given match. Not a great situation for anyone concerned, as nobody enjoys games that keep dragging on.

Between this and the change discussed above, Innervate is going to be significantly more vulnerable on top of granting less mana even if it lasts the full duration. This would be less worrisome if 3v3 and 5v5 weren't completely choked with Priests and Mages.

Lifebloom: The final heal that occurs when this spell blooms has been reduced by 20% on the base and on the spell power coefficient.

I suspect the Magic 8 ball cannily skipped ahead to this portion of the patch notes. Pro tip: never believe a small plastic orb that insists it's clairvoyant.



Lifebloom nerfs are familiar territory by now, but Ghostcrawler said something I found to be pretty revealing in what was actually a thread dedicated to Moonkin concerns. He observes that the change to resilience's functionality has actually buffed healing power in matches; a decently-geared player will simply be taking less damage than they are right now, so heals don't have to heal for as much in order to return said player to full. Consequently, he writes, the Lifebloom change "will either not be felt at all or will be a slight buff relative to the amount of damage you take."

It is, don't get me wrong, a PvE nerf, but Lifebloom is still typically stacked and then rolled on tanks in PvE content; the bloom is just an incidental bonus to the per-second tick. I will miss seeing a raid-buffed 14-16K 3-stack crit on those occasions where you have (or want) to let it bloom, but it would probably have been overpowered for arena given the resilience change. But once you start adding it all up - the Innervate change, the Improved Barkskin nerf, and most especially the axing of 2v2 as a progression route -- things start looking fairly grim for Druids. Unless we start magically getting amazing in 3v3 and 5v5, I expect the class to stumble a bit in Season 7, unless the resilience change really does have a massive impact on the burst potential of the larger brackets.

Empowered Touch: Now also increases the amount of bonus healing effects for Nourish by 10/20%.

Empowered Touch is usually ignored in PvE Resto builds; Healing Touch is rarely used outside of the standard Nature's Swiftness macro, and the talent just isn't that compelling as a result. Adding a Nourish component makes this talent a LOT better, to the point where EJ commenters took especial notice of its potential as a beefy raid and tank heal, all the more so if you choose to glyph it and have taken 3/3 Living Seed.



Trees are such excellent (bordering on overpowered, I admit) raid healers right now that I'm a little surprised Blizzard is doing so much to boost our tank-healing capacity by way of Nourish, but I half-wonder if this is yet another change prompted by arena and the need for fast healing.

Mangle: Ranks 4 and 5 base points reduced by about 11%. Scaling from attack power unchanged.
Rake: Ranks 6 and 7 base points on initial and periodic damage reduced by about 7%. Scaling from attack power unchanged.
Rip: Ranks 8 and 9 base points and points per combo point reduced by about 6%. Scaling from attack power unchanged.

Don't panic.

Cat damage is an issue the Druid community's been following for a while. There are certain Ulduar fights where melee DPS, particularly melee DPS with AoE capacity (read: Swipe), does exceptionally well, and that left the developers in an ambivalent place over whether a demanding melee spec was genuinely overpowered or just situationally so.

My personal experience with my guild's WWS logs and the records available on WoW Meter Online make it fairly obvious that ferals have the advantage conferred by being melee on "good melee fights," and that's enough to override any advantage conferred by being a pure, albeit ranged, DPS on said fights. It is not enough to override the advantage conferred by being a pure melee DPS on the same encounter: a well-played Rogue will always beat a well-played feral, period. Nor does said advantage extend to "good ranged fights," where pure ranged DPS reassume their usual slot at the top of the meters. The crux of the issue has less to do with Cats themselves than it does to do with how encounter design has resulted in such a wide gulf between melee and ranged performance on different fights, regardless of whether the DPS in question is hybrid or pure. If you're one of those people who thinks that hybrid DPS should always be worse than pure DPS regardless of the circumstances, it needs to be said that it's virtually impossible to cook up a fight where you can tax hybrid melee without screwing over pure melee, or tax hybrid ranged without screwing over pure ranged.



The numbers look scary, but to be frank, this isn't actually that big a big nerf. Commenters on EJ are pegging it as a 2% DPS loss on average, with Verdan (perhaps correctly) describing it as "a paper nerf to shut people up." Also I have to wonder if anyone on-staff at Blizzard has been reading Parliament of Whores, because --

Swipe (Cat): Percent of weapon damage done reduced from 260% to 250%.
Shred: Ranks 8 and 9 base points reduced by about 10%. Scaling from attack power unchanged.

O'Rourke's Circumcision Principle: You can take 10% off the top of anything.

Savage Defense: The animation for gaining this buff will no longer make the bear stand upright.

Called it!

Whose house?

RUN'S HOUSE.

I said, whose house?

RUN'S HOUSE.

WHOSE HOUSE? SAY WHAT? MARTIIIIIIIIN, MARTIIIIIIIN.


Druids will now be able to see their mana bars when shape-shifted.

This has long been a perk integrated into several mods like Pitbull -- and was, for a time, even the sole point of the mod Druid Bar -- so I'm pleased to see it become part of the default UI.

Rage potions can now be used by druids.

For that moment in the middle of the night where you wake up, eyes glazed, drenched in the sweat of nightmares, terrified into the realization that, "My God! I don't have a sufficiently useless way to waste my valuable potion cooldown!

Patch 3.2 will bring about a new 5, 10, and 25 man instance to WoW, and usher in a new 40-man battleground called the Isle of Conquest. WoW.com will have you covered every step of the way, from extensive PTR coverage through the official live release. Check out WoW.com's Guide to Patch 3.2 for all the latest!


Filed under: Druid, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, News items

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