As promised, I hit the patch 4.1 PTR to get a feel for the changes we talked about last week. Naturally, the first change I ran to confirm was Prowl's new icon, which I'm pleased to report is totally kickass and addresses all our icon-related needs for the forseeable future.
This patch isn't going live with new raid content, so the premade toons on offer are kitted in heroic blues (ilevel 346). This gear is all easily obtainable with a little elbow grease on the live servers, so the numbers you'll see in this column should be representative of what a pre-raid druid will look like. Just for kicks, I also copied my main over, and she's in slightly better gear feral-wise and slightly worse gear resto-wise.
As an aside, when did we get that cool little swooping animation upon changing into flight form? Is this totally new, or did it happen in patch 4.0.6 and I missed it while buried under a mountain of snow and subsequent flooding in my winter-ridden hell? Or -- scary thought -- am I so used to shifting to flight form in midair that I've failed to notice it for months? God, that's terrifying.
Cosmetic and/or Not Otherwise a Big Deal
- New Efflorescence spell effect Curiously, this is either disabled on the current PTR build, or it's linked to video settings that, however much I toy with them, I can't seem to replicate. I'm not sure what's going on.
- Stampeding Roar's snare removal and duration/speed buff I debated which category this one fell into for a bit but finally dumped it here. Don't get me wrong; the speed buff is great, but the 10-yard area of effect is still a major roadblock to the ability's overall utility. The real difference is likely to be noted by PvP cats blowing it as a snare removal tool. If this doesn't describe you or you weren't feral to start with, there is really nothing about the buff that will change whatever use you get from Stampeding Roar now. However, I would be remiss in not admitting that the speed boost helped me escape a botched pull in the new and decidedly vicious Zul'Gurub.
- Prowl's new icon We're farting through silk now, folks!
- Lifebloom's nerfed bloom effect Truthfully, this falls somewhere between the two categories. I tend to focus on PvE pretty exclusively in this column, and the bloom nerf should have minimal effect on PvE healers.
- Swipe's new 3-second cooldown To the extent that anyone's running around pulling trash mobs like daisies these days, this is a boost to AoE tanking capacity at the cost of a partial return to the boredom of Swipe "spam" (well, sort of). If you're still crowd-controlling most of a pull, this obviously won't have much impact on you. However, I should note that there are several pulls in the revamped Zul'Gurub and Zul'Aman where a 3-second Swipe is going to be extremely useful (not least so on the new version of the "panther boss").
- Tranquility's 3-minute cooldown This is not, as previously reported in the patch notes, linked to the passive Gift of Nature; it's a cool bonus you get with Malfurion's Gift. As we observed last week, this is most interesting for what it's not in the sense that we're still waiting to see what Blizzard does with the proposed damage reduction cooldown. Still, you'd have to be an idiot to turn down a 3-minute Tranquility, which is an ass-saver par excellence.
nerf buffchange See below; this isn't a discussion well served by sound bites.
I don't yet have an answer for the question as to whether the "smart heal" component of the spell is dynamic -- that is, whether Efflorescence constantly looks for the lowest-health person in the AoE to whom it applies the next tick -- or if it picks the three lowest-health targets at the time of application and sticks with them. However, rank 4 Healing Touch managed 9 ticks at a functional 2,005 haste (with Dark Intent and the 5% haste buff), which I think goes a long way toward demonstrating the real potential of the change.
Quick notes on Zul'Aman and Zul'Gurub
I don't have enough experience in the new versions of Zul'Aman or Zul'Gurub to write extensively on them here yet -- I should really devote next week to a look at both and the cool drops we'll see there -- but a few tidbits:
- The new Lost Offspring of Gahz'ranka mobs in the Zul'Gurub river can't see through stealth. However, the buffed Shredtooth Frenzies can. Don't make my mistake. Choose life.
- Trash in both instances can get pretty crazy, to the point that it's probably going to be nerfed before it goes live. Then again, I say this as someone who's pugging the content (and we all know how that usually ends), so don't quote me if you wind up steamrolling the place with your guildies.
- Tank damage is not as high as expected even on a largely heroics-geared bear, at least in Zul'Gurub. I'll have more information on healing next week.
Shifting Perspectives helps you gear your bear druid at 85, tempts you with weapons, trinkets and weapons, then shows you what to do with it all in Feral Druid Tanking 101. We'll also help you gear your resto druid.