Two more new abilities and a flotilla of upgrades to existing ones:
- Challenging Roar: A clone of the Warrior ability Challenging Shout, although while linking these two abilities to Wowhead I was disturbed to discover that Challenging Roar is apparently three times the rage cost of its Warrior counterpart. This is problematic at a level where 15 rage is very precious indeed; I wonder if it's actually just a mistake. Anyway, Challenging Roar finds its best use during a pull in which everything's gone to hell and you need to recapture aggro on the mobs quickly. It's also extremely useful if your single-target Growl fails to hit (although it bears mentioning that Challenging Roar is subject to the same spell +hit cap that Growl is, so it's possible to have both Growl and Challenging fail to hit back-to-back). If you do any amount of tanking, you're bound to encounter both of these situations sooner or later. Keep in mind that Challenging Roar only guarantees you aggro for a period of 6 seconds; if a trigger-happy DPS is still obliviously spamming whatever got them aggro in the first place, odds are good that a mob or two's going to grind them into a fine paste as soon as your Roar ends. While Roar is up, tab-target through the mobs to see which among them is the most likely to take off, and start putting more threat on it/them. If it's all of them, have a quiet talk with the DPS making your life miserable before the next pull. "Mr. DPS," you will say. "IANAP (I Am Not A Paladin). Cut the crap." "Yes, Ms. Lolbare," they will reply, chastened and remorseful. Ha ha! That never happens.
- Cower, rank 1: In all honesty, I wouldn't bother keeping this on your bars. It's useless while soloing and pretty close to useless while DPSing. That's not to say that you can't get anything out of it -- it'll shave about 1,000 points of threat off your current total, give or take -- but between Wrath's improvement to tank threat generation and the energy cost of the skill itself, you're usually better served by just giving the tank a few seconds on threat before starting DPS. If you're so close to exceeding 110% of the tank's threat that Cower is going to save you, that's usually symptomatic of a bigger problem, whether it's your tank's threat generation or if YOU are the trigger-happy, oblivious DPS forcing your tank to blow Challenging Roar. You weren't chastened or remorseful at all, were you? I knew it. You monster.
- Entangling Roots, rank 3: standard upgrade.
- Moonfire, rank 5: standard upgrade.
- Nature's Grasp, rank 3: standard upgrade.
- Rejuvenation, rank 5: standard upgrade.
- Rip, rank 2: standard upgrade.
Regardless of the talents with which you're leveling, at 30 you'll get access to one of two 21-point talents: Insect Swarm if you're Balance, and Feral Charge if you're Feral (once Bear-only, now subdivided into Feral Charge -- Bear and Feral Charge -- Cat). Both are abilities that you'll still be making heavy use of at 80.
Insect Swarm is a mana-efficient DoT (actually, still the most mana-efficient in the game, particularly once glyphed) that, in combination with Moonfire, is fairly potent DPS. Even if you're running low on mana, you can usually eke out a few more kills with just Insect Swarm and Moonfire before you have to drink, particularly if you're chain-rooting your opponent. I should probably note that Moonfire and IS are pretty good at breaking Roots quickly, so you'll be babysitting Rooted targets even if you've glyphed it. It isn't a particularly exciting way to kill things, but if your water supplies are running low, it'll keep downtime to a minimum.
Feral Charge is the same basic mechanic for both Bears and Cats, but the two versions are slightly different. The Bear charge is both an immobilization and an interrupt; the Cat charge will daze but not immobilize or interrupt the target. The former is of use while pulling and, used smartly, can also be used to address one of the Bear's weaknesses in its vulnerability to caster damage; get enough distance on a spellcaster/ranged target then Charge it while it starts up a cast. I find Feral Charge particularly useful as a tank in that it allows me a few seconds of uninterrupted threat generation before the DPS catches up, although you have to be careful about using it for that purpose if you're also outranging your healer.
Cat charge finds great use in PvP, locking down runners in dungeons, and on fights like XT-002 Deconstructor where it'll speed up your ability to return to DPSing after having to outrange an AoE ability, etc. While using it out in the world, you'll quickly find it's possible to be unable to hit a target right after using it, because it Dazes but doesn't stop a pathing mob. This is made somewhat worse by the fact that it puts you behind a target; you're not going to land in front of wherever it was moving. As you level, you'll also find that you can Feral Charge a hostile mob several levels below you without actually aggroing it, which is amusing.
Apart from these talents, you'll also be upgrading a number of skills at 30 in addition to learning one new one:
- Tranquility, rank 1: This is an enormously powerful, albeit channeled, group heal that can really save your bacon in both PvE and PvP. While +spellpower makes it better, even a Feral can save a raid or party members by popping this after nasty AoE damage. Use it wisely and try not to waste it; the 10-minute cooldown will make you regret blowing this too early. Tranquility also gets my vote as one of the prettiest and most distinctive spell graphics in the game.
- Bash, rank 2: standard upgrade.
- Mark of the Wild, rank 4: standard upgrade. You're still keeping this up all the time, right?
- Rebirth, rank 2: standard upgrade. If you still have some Maple Seeds hanging around your packs, you can continue to use those in conjunction with rank 1 Rebirth to avoid letting them go to waste. Just keep in mind that using lower ranks of Rebirth as you level can be hazardous to the health of the battle-resurrected player; getting Rebirthed to, say, 500 health while a dungeon boss is charging up a 2K+ AoE ability is Le Suck.
- Regrowth, rank 4: standard upgrade.
- Shred, rank 2: standard upgrade.
- Wrath, rank 5: standard upgrade.
Every week, Shifting Perspectives treks across Azeroth in pursuit of truth, beauty, and insight concerning the Druid class. Sometimes it finds the latter, or something good enough for government work. Whether you're a Bear, Cat, Moonkin, Tree, or -- for some unaccountable reason -- stuck in caster form, we've got the skinny on Druid changes in patch 3.2, questions and answers on new Bear and Cat forms, and thoughts on why (or why not) you should be playing the class.