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Shifting Perspectives: Beta build 12803

Every Tuesday, Shifting Perspectives explores issues affecting feral/restoration druids and those who group with them. This week, we ponder change.

Beta build 12803 dropped late Friday, and with it a number of changes to the feral and restoration specs. Some are what you'd expect after some recent forum conversations with Ghostcrawler (lead systems designer), and others came out of left field. We'll take a look past the cut.

Feral
  • Lacerate now stacks up to three times, down from five times.
  • Mangle (bear) no longer has a cooldown.
  • Improved Feral Charge is now named Stampede.
  • Heart of the Wild moved to tier 1 of the restoration tree.
  • Furor is now a tier 1 feral talent: Gives you 33/66/100% chance to gain 10 rage when you shapeshift into bear form, and you keep up to 33/66/100 of your energy when you shapeshift into cat form, and increases your total intellect by 2/4/6%.
Some pretty interesting stuff here, although we knew the HotW and Furor changes were coming. We'll discuss the more compelling among them.

I'm happiest about the Lacerate change, because the five-stack deal was a little disheartening; almost a third of your active time in a fight was spent spamming Lacerate if you wanted to keep the best Pulverize buff going.

There's still something that's made me a little uneasy about Pulverize, and I thought about it a lot this past weekend. I arrived at the conclusion that Pulverize annoyed me not because it was an inherently bad talent, but because feral damage has been so bugged that it felt like a bad tradeoff, even though it probably won't be.

I should explain. Pulverize, back when we could actually see how much damage we were doing, was only hitting for around 3-4k at five Lacerate stacks (level 80), courtesy of the feral damage bug. As I wrote in the earlier article on the beta bear, my character does about 3,000 DPS on the live realms while tanking a run-of-the-mill 5-man, and a 3-4k Pulverize is about half of what I'd expect to see on a cool Maul crit with minimal buffs. With the amount of Lacerate spam that went into Pulverize, a 3-4k payoff just didn't feel like it was worth it, no matter how valuable the additional crit was. If you're going to give up your guaranteed bleed damage in exchange for a gamble that you'll crit more, Pulverize has to hit sufficiently hard that you manage your Lacerates with the sort of obsession more frequently seen in heroin addicts or Twilight enthusiasts. Give me the opportunity to lay the pimp hand of God almighty on a mob every 16 seconds, and I'll hand you a rotation so flawless it could be gilded and sold to the idiots at Sotheby's. If it hits for the same or less as your usual damage skills, Pulverize becomes something that you have to do because you're balanced around it, rather than something you want to do because it's cool.

So the feral damage bug has definitely not done me any favors trying to get a feel for what Pulverize is going to end up like, but we can only wait and see.

Mangle's not having a cooldown in bear form surprised me, and it's really made me wonder what the final "bear rotation" is going to look like when all's said and done. If you were tanking on a warrior, this would amount to having Shield Slam available all the time, although I sincerely doubt that Mangle's threat modifier is going to stay the same as Shield Slam's if it's spammable. I can't help but feel that the bear would really benefit from a reactive proc like the warrior's Revenge, because right now I still see a lot of spam in the playstyle.

Restoration
  • Tranquility now heals every 2 seconds, down from 5 seconds.
  • Rebirth now has a 40-yard range, up from 30 yards.
  • Revive now has a 40-yard range, up from 30 yards.
  • Empowered Rejuvenation (tier 6) renamed to Swift Rejuvenation (tier 5) and revamped. Now reduces the global cooldown of Rejuvenation by 0.25/.5 seconds.
  • Efflorescence now affects targets within 4 yards, down from 15 yards.
  • Wild Growth mana cost reduced to 27%, down from 55%.
  • Fury of Stormrage moved from tier 5 to tier 4. Now also reduces the mana cost of your Wrath spell by 50/100%.
  • Gift of the Earthmother moved from tier 5 to tier 6. Rejuvenation spell instant heal increased from 3/6% to 5/10%.
  • Nature's Bounty now increases critical strike chance on Regrowth from 20/40/60% (up from 10/20/30%) and now has a 33/66/100% chance to proc (up from 20/40/60%).
  • Empowered Touch now increases the healing done by your Healing Touch and Nourish spells by 5/10%, and your Nourish spell has a 50/100% chance to refresh the duration of your Lifebloom on targets.
  • Naturalist moved from tier 2 to tier 1. Changed to two ranks, down from three ranks. Reduces the cast time of your Healing Touch and Nourish spells by 0.25/0.5 seconds (up from 0.15/0.35/0.5).
  • Natural Shapeshifter is now a two-rank talent, down from three ranks.
  • Nature's Cure (tier 5): New -- Empowers your Remove Corruption spell to also remove a magic effect from a friendly target.
  • Heart of the Wild is now a tier 1 restoration talent -- increases your maximum mana by 5/10/15%. In addition, while in bear form, your stamina is increased by 3/7/10%, and while in cat form, your attack power is increased by 3/7/10%.
The Rebirth and Revive changes are consistent with range increases to a number of other spells in the game, so nothing surprising here.

Empowered Touch previously increased Healing Touch's healing by 20 percent in addition to the Lifebloom benefit, so they've nerfed it a little for HT but added the Nourish component. Nourish is really weak right now, so this is a welcome change. What worries me about Nourish being our only really cheap heal is that it only feels like it's worth using once you've slapped a bunch of relatively expensive HoTs on the target. Otherwise, it's a slow heal that makes a maddeningly small difference to the survivability of players with huge health pools.

Gift of the Earthmother's initial Rejuvenation hit went from 1,403 for me to 1,460.

I know we've said this here before, but the developers are really pushing Regrowth as a main-line heal. The 60 percent crit in addition to the paltry amount of crit I've got or could add to my gear puts me within a holler of 70 percent crit from that one spell. If Efflorescence winds up being worth using (and the effect, at least so far, does stack), you could theoretically do all of your healing on melee DPS, although this was easier while it was healing for something like 3,500 per second. As of the new build, it's healing 421 per second.

That's one of the reasons that the Efflorescence radius nerf worries me; 4 yards is a very small area. Healers are rightly skeptical, I think, that DPS will drop what they're doing to run to a specific location for healing (see Lightwell, The Long and Ugly History of). Healing efficiency would have to be truly bad for DPS to prioritize their own health over damage, and ... well, healing efficiency is truly bad right now. That said, Efflorescence's new graphic cracks me up because it bears a passing resemblance to the evil green stuff dropped by Grobbulus. I would love to take the guildies for a ride in Naxx after the Cataclysm content patch so I can terrify and confuse the melee.

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 stuck in caster form, you'll find the skinny on druid changes in patch 3.3, a look at the disappearance of the bear tank, and thoughts on why you should be playing the class (or why not).

Filed under: Druid, (Druid) Shifting Perspectives

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