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Shifting Perspectives: PTR 4.0.6, balance and you, part 2

Sunfire/Moonfire

The mana cost of both Sunfire and Moonfire has been reduced. Honestly, this is a fairly meaningless change for balance druids. In a normal rotation, we have enough mana regeneration as it is to where we don't need i , and when we are actively spamming Moonfire/Sunfire, it costs virtually no mana as it stands. I haven't a clue what Blizzard was hoping to address with this change, but don't look a gift buff in the mouth, I suppose.

Glyph of Entangling Roots

Balance wept.

If the forum complaints over these past weeks is any indication, the change to the Glyph of Entangling Roots to reduce the cast time by 0.2 seconds instead of making it instant-cast -- and, hopefully, removing the cooldown -- was done mostly because of feral druids. A lot of people seems to think that feral druids had far too much control when they could shift out to use an instant root and an instant Cyclone; perhaps that is true. It is just a sad state of affairs that we have to be nerfed as a consequence.

In all of the forum complaints that I have seen thus far, none of those saying that the glyph was too strong for feral druids believed that it was too strong for balance druids. In fact, most of the complaints that I have seen from non-druid players had been suggesting to roll the instant roots into a balance talent instead and just remove the glyph, because they know that balance desperately needs the instant roots.

Here's to hoping that Blizzard believes the same, because we didn't need any PvP nerfs as it stood, and this is a pretty big one for us.

Soothe

Soothe is back to being an instant-cast, down from a 1.5-second cast, and I am rejoicing over that fact. There have only been a limited amount of Enrages in PvE that need to be dispelled, and thus far, the cast time hasn't proven to be problematic towards them, but that's entirely due to encounter design.

Back when Soothe was first changed to dispel Enrages, it was instant and was later nerfed to have a cast time. This was back during the times so long ago when players were still fighting the Lich King, and that nerf made heroic Lich King highly problematic. RNG is RNG, and that encounter was the highlight of it. During heroic LK, I was tasked with dispelling one of the adds; no big deal, but having an add Enrage right when Shadow Trap goes out on the range and I had to move ... If the tank wasn't prepared for that, it was easily a one-shot right there. Or having an add Enrage right as I got Necrotic Plague ... It was painful not being able to dispel Enrages on the move; reverting this nerf is a huge deal.

It also impacts PvP in certain ways -- not enough to where it will really make a difference in that department, but every tiny inch we can get.

Misc. changes

There are a few other things to take note of that are going out in this patch as well.
  • Enchant Off-hand - Superior Intellect has been reduced from 100 to 40 intellect.
  • Enchant Bracers - Mighty Intellect has been added. Adds 50 intellect to a wrist.
  • Burning Shadowspirit Diamond has been added. Increases intellect by 54 and increases critical strike damage by 3%.
  • Flasks now require 8 herbs, down from 12, and 8 Volatile Lifes, up from 6.
  • Vibrant Alchemist Stone has been added. Increases intellect by 301, haste by 194, and has a red socket.
  • PvP trinkets can now be used to remove silence effects.
  • Omen of Clarity can no longer proc from beneficial spells without the Malfurion's Gift talent.
  • Shooting Stars now lasts 12 seconds, up from 8 seconds.
  • Barkskin is now undispellable.
  • Troll and worgen druids now have unique Flight Form graphics!
The change to the off-hand enchant is a good one, even if it is a nerf, as it lowers the gap between using a main-hand and an off-hand or using a staff. However, there still isn't a staff-only enchant to make up for the gap, so I don't see how this fixes the issue at all. Perhaps staves will be adjusted at the base value to make up for the lack of enchant?

The addition of the intellect bracer enchant is a good change in some respects. Previously, the leatherworking personal enchant to bracers provided intellect in a slot that couldn't have intellect without that bonus. This had the enchant slightly better than other options, but not significantly so. I appreciate the equalization, but I mourn the loss of enchanting choice. Right now, you can either go 50 spirit or 50 haste on wrists depending on if you need hit or not; now that option is gone, as you will always choose the intellect enchant.

The new alchemy trinket is a great addition to the profession, especially at this stage in the game. It's certainly the best pre-raid trinket choice that you can go for; barring Darkmoon Card: Volcano.

Really, though, we should focus on the important change here. Troll druids now get to have a bat as their Flight Form. How awesome is that? Forget everything else -- I'm pumped that I'll finally be the coolest mount of the block. Now if only Blizzard could fix the troll Moonkin Form's having night elf ears ...

Last-minute "we hate Murmurs" change

So, yes, a few new things out on the PTR late last night, at least "late" at my edge of the world.
  • Shapeshifting no longer removes root effects.
  • Typhoon's mana cost reduced by 50%.
I am a major advocate for patience; I despise jumping to conclusions, I hate unbalanced content be it for any class, and I do not like crying about nerfs. The game changes, things need to be equalized, and Blizzard isn't blind.

That aside, I am appalled by this change. Feral druids will certainly feel this nerf heavily, but balance druids are being hit badly as well. Being able to shift out of root effects was a huge portion of our defensive utility; I'd go so far as to say it was the biggest part of defensive toolkit that we had. We do not have very many kiting tools. Even with the change to Wild Mushroom to ease the use of Fungal Growth, our ability to keep targets away from us is highly limited. Our kiting strength was in simply being more mobile than other classes. We couldn't really slow them, but they couldn't slow nor root us, and we could move faster.

Yes, we can still shift out of snares, and that will be one saving grace, but the inability to shift out of root effects hurts us far more than I believe other players and Blizzard realize. We shift out of roots frequently in PvP, and it is one of the few things that saves us in many situations. A balance druid without mobility is dead. Balance is suffering a lot in PvP at this moment, to the point that if I must write up a PvP guide, all it would say is "re-roll frost mage." Further nerfing us without providing anything to meaningfully boost our PvP prowess, be it aimed towards us or feral, is bleeding a dry corpse.

The Typhoon change is ... whatever. It will help, kind of, in PvP when mana is an extreme issue, but no amount of mana cost reduction is going to save balance druid's PvP mana issues. The problem is not our mana costs; the problem is that we cannot switch between Eclipse procs reliably enough to benefit from Euphoria.


Every week, Shifting Perspectives: Balance treks across Azeroth in pursuit of druidic truth, beauty and insight ... from a moonkin's perspective. We'll help you level your brand new balance druid, analyze balance racials and abilities, and walk you through PvP as a balance druid.

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