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Shifting Perspectives: Feral DPS changes in patch 4.0.6

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Shifting Perspectives for cat , bear , restoration and balance druids. Today marks the beginning of our new weekly feral cat edition, brought to you by Chase Hasbrouck, aka Alaron of The Fluid Druid blog. Let the face clawing begin!

The rate of PTR changes has slowed to the point that we can reasonably expect patch 4.0.6 to drop soon, so let's take a look at its effects on feral cats. Unfortunately, there's more bad than good to report here.

The day the cat stood still
  • Shapeshifts: Entering or leaving a shapeshift no longer cancels root effects. It continues to cancel movement slowing effects.
This is an immense change to a mechanic that has existed since beta, which I'm somewhat at a loss to even begin to discuss. Many PvPers rolled druids solely for this mechanic; I didn't personally, but my absolute favorite part of playing a druid is their mobility in both feral and restoration specs. The loss of this ability (and the attendant loss of mobility) completely mystifies me. It removes one of the most fun things about playing a druid, it guts a spec that was already fairly rare in arenas, and it wasn't necessary for balance. If I'm spamming shapeshifts to break roots, I'm not doing any appreciable damage or generating any CPs for an instant Roots/Cyclone.

If this change has to go live, I'd like to at least see a deep feral talent or glyph that enables shapeshifting to Root break on an ICD, or perhaps buffs the mostly harmless Stampeding Roar with a reduced CD and root-breaking abilities. If not, we'll need a new ability of some sort to defend against spells, something akin to Anti-Magic Shell. At least it doesn't affect PvE overmuch (we have to jump on Asaad now! Darn).

Damage profile adjustments
  • Mangle (Cat Form) weapon damage percent (at level 80+) has been increased to 460%, up from 360%.
  • Shred weapon damage percent (at level 80+) has been increased to 450%, up from 350%.
  • Rake damage has been reduced by 10%. Rip damage has been reduced by 10%.
These changes were made for PvP reasons, and I'm not overly happy with them for PvE. By simulation, it works out to be DPS-neutral, but I find that I tend to do more bleed damage and less Shred damage then my character is supposedly capable of. It wouldn't surprise me if this ends up as a slight nerf. Overall, we'll be a bit better at target switching on adds that need to die fast and a bit worse at fights with long-lasting adds (that we would normally multi-DoT).

Other PvP changes
  • Glyph of Entangling Roots redesigned. It now reduces the cast time of Entangling Roots by 0.2 seconds, rather than making it instant cast.
  • Berserk no longer breaks Fear or makes the druid immune to Fear.
  • Barkskin is no longer dispellable. Entangling Roots, Hibernate, Infected Wounds, and Nature's Grasp now have a PvP duration of 8 seconds.
  • Prowl is no longer broken by enemies using Demoralizing Shout or Demoralizing Roar.
  • Skull Bash's lockout time has been reduced to 4 seconds, down from 5.
The glyph change was necessary. Instant Roots was far too powerful (though the new glyph is laughable). The loss of Berserk as a fear break is depressing, especially in light of the inability to break Roots as well. The 15 (20 glyphed) seconds of fear immunity was OP; the break was not, especially on a 3-minute CD.

Everything else is fairly minor. Barkskin's not being dispellable is nice, but it's not enough of a defensive CD to begin with. The CC duration changes are across the board for all CC, so no real issue there. Prowl change is a quality of life fix for us; Skull Bash change is a quality of life fix (for opposing casters).

Racials
  • The night elf racial trait Shadowmeld can now be used while shapeshifted.
  • The tauren racial trait War Stomp can now be used while shapeshifted.
These are somewhat helpful. Shadowmeld in kitty will be nice for world PvP as a poor man's Vanish, though it won't wipe any DoTs or anything. War Stomp in kitty will be somewhat useful for fighting mobs or players that can be interrupted with stuns, though it's much more useful for bears.

Minor fixes
  • Mount Up: This guild perk now applies to Flight Form and Swift Flight Form as well.
  • Blood in the Water: Timing on this effect has been improved so that Ferocious Bite will immediately refresh Rip, rather than be slightly delayed (which gave a chance for the Rip to expire despite being refreshed).
  • Omen of Clarity can no longer trigger from helpful spells (aka heals), unless the Restoration talent Malfurion's Gift is chosen.
  • Soothe is now instant cast, down from 1.5 seconds.
  • Worgen and troll druids now have new art for Swift Flight Form.

I'm happy to see the Mount Up and Blood in the Water fixes. It really sucked watching Rip not get reapplied even though I knew I hit FB (typically on Halfus after a Howl). Soothe change is nice, for the five times or so I've actually cast it. It's great if you're still working on killing the Lich King.

And, oh yes: Bats are sweet.

Gear changes
  • A socket has been added to most crafted epic armor pieces that did not already have one.
  • All PvP 4-piece bonuses have had their flat stat values cut in half.
Primary stats are very powerful in Cataclysm, so much so that players were considering using PvP gear in PvE just because of these primary stat bonuses. Considering? Heh. I've been using the four-piece PvP gear in my raids for weeks now. Had to happen, I suppose, and at least they didn't destroy the set bonus entirely (so if it's your only set, it's serviceable until you can find replacements). I haven't seen any sockets added to the DPS leather craftables yet (Belt of Nefarious Whispers/Assassin's Chestplate), so the jury's still out on those.

Professions
  • Alchemist's Stones for Agility, Strength, and Intellect have been added.
  • Three new bracer enchants are available. They increase Agility by 50, Strength by 50, or Intellect by 50 respectively. Item level 300 or higher required. These new recipes are rare world drops.
  • Synapse Springs now increase Agility, Strength, or Intellect (whichever is highest for the character). In addition, the effect now lasts 10 seconds, down from 12.
  • Meta gems with the Chaotic and Relentless prefixes now have a requirement of 3 red gems.
  • New meta gems have been added: Agile Shadowspirit Diamond (Agility/3% critical damage), Reverberating Shadowspirit Diamond (Strength/3% critical damage), and Burning Shadowspirit Diamond (Intellect/3% critical damage). These new recipes are unbound and can drop from any Cataclysm creature. The new meta gems have a requirement of 3 red gems equipped.
The new Alchemist Stone is okay for starting out, but it's not going to make any BiS lists since it trades item budget for the +potion boost. (Now, if it boosted DPS potion duration, I'd be all over it.) I would put in below Tia's Grace and pretty close to other heroic trinkets.

The new bracer enchant makes leatherworking's +130 bracer enchant no longer overpowered in comparison to other professions. Likewise, the update to the Synapse Springs enchant makes engineering no longer underpowered.

The new meta gems will be very nice; no more long, complicated math problems to try to figure out whether going with blue gems, and the Relentless meta was a better choice than red gems. Try to get an Agile Shadowspirit Diamond as soon as you can; they'll likely be expensive, so budget-minded players may want to buy a Relentless Earthsiege Diamond (yes, the level 80 version) instead.

Undocumented changes
  • Skull Bash now successfully reports to the combat log. No more (Interrupts: 0) on Recount to frustrate you.
  • The trinket Unheeded Warning has had its proc changed significantly. I'm still deciding its' exact worth, but I believe it may end up as near-BiS (despite my initial feelings to the contrary). If you don't mind the risk, I'd try to buy/get it now, while the value is low.
Overshadowing the changes

Most of the changes are nice, but the shapeshifting nerf overshadows all of them. I farmed up a PvP set because of the PvE buffs, but I grew to really enjoy feral PvP along the way. My fervent hope is that this change gets reverted; if not, I'll be following the crowd and going resto for my futile PvP attempts.
What race should you choose for your druid? What happened to Tree of Life? How can you get started as a bear or cat in Cataclysm? Shifting Perspectives has the answers!

Filed under: Druid, (Druid) Shifting Perspectives

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