I'm currently prepping a column on the bear experience on the beta, but seeing as to how so much of the recent experience consists of disconnecting, lagging my way to parts unknown, launch problems, and finding colorful new language with which to greet these events, let's put that on the back burner for now.
One of the things that was instantly obvious about the new set of Mists of Pandaria druid glyphs is that a lot of them are, for lack of a better term, really, really fun. One lets us confuse people endlessly about our actual spec. Another lets us be mounted by friends and groupmates for totally platonic purposes. I hope.
Now, these are by no means all of the new glyphs available on the beta right now, but with so many class abilities being retuned and changed, it's tough to evaluate how most of the major glyphs stack up. However, even a few of the major glyphs are things that'll pretty obviously have a positive impact on how you experience a spec, so I've included the ones that really pop out here.
Hoo, boy. Glyph of the Treant is possibly the single nicest thing Blizzard has done for the class. It makes absolutely no difference whatsoever to gameplay, unless you count improving it by 500%.
The really cool thing about the new version of the Treant is that it's not spec-restricted. You can pick it up and play with it even if you're balance, guardian, or feral. (I am tempted to pick it up even while guardian-specced just to screw with people in Battlegrounds or for the confusion factor at the beginning of random PUGs.) Once you glyph it, a Treant shapeshift option appears along the usual class bar. The form doesn't confer any offensive or defensive advantages, but once you're in it, you can do anything that a druid in caster form can do -- cast Roots, teleport to Moonglade, feel superior to paladins, heal stuff, or whine about rage generation problems on the forums. What's more, a treant that can now Wrath stuff to death. It's brilliant. After glyphing it, I ran around Azshara with no purpose in mind other than enjoying being a treant again.
Because the former version of Tree Form (i.e., the pre-Cataclysm version) wouldn't let you cast any offensive spells in it, the new version feels like a supremely fun version of the old Tree. You can still get the kicked-up version of the present Tree of Life if you pick up Incarnation from among the level 60 talents, although that does mean giving up both Soul of the Forest and Force of Nature. The latter in particular makes this a really tough choice, because having three additional treants healing people around you while you're already in Treant form healing people around you is kind of a ghetto version of Mirror Image.
As an aside, balance players will get Mirror Image from mages with Symbiosis, at least under the current build. And what does resto get? Ice Block. Neat, but the Symbiosis version has a pretty harsh 5-minute cooldown. But that's OK -- mages are only getting Healing Touch in return. Hands up, all those of you who have ever seen a raiding DPSer stop to cast a heal, ever.
Wow, I have become a cynical, cynical healer over the years. But is there any other kind of healer?
Maybe they'll use it in Arena.
Oh, and if you're wondering why Blizzard dumped the old version of Tree Form in the first place, here's why.
Glyph of Master Shapeshifter
The Glyph of Master Shapeshifter replaces the present talent Natural Shapeshifter, which is actually nowhere near as good. I would anticipate that most players picking this up will do so as a PvP thing, but it's still nice to have around.
I'm trying and failing to remember if we've had a previous talent or glyph that reduced shapeshifting costs to that degree. I can remember Staff of Natural Fury and the Rune of Metamorphosis, and I'm positive that the BC or Wrath version of the restoration tree's shapeshifter talent massively reduced costs, but I can't quite remember what it was.
Glyph of Fae Silence
Glyph of Fae Silence addresses a longstanding complaint that bears have had in relation to pulling -- namely, that they are the only tank spec without a ranged silence. Death knights have both Death Grip (which is functionally an interrupt, even if that's not the main point of the spell) and Strangulate, warriors have Heroic Throw (talented via Gag Order), and paladins have the ne plus ultra of all pulling abilities, Avenger's Shield. All of these make pulling and positioning caster mobs the hell of a lot easier.
By contrast, bears have the caps lock key: "JESUS CHRIST, HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO TELL YOU TO STOP DPSING THE MOBS WHILE I'M HIDING BEHIND A CORNER? HOW DIFFICULT IS THAT? DO YOU WANT TO GO BACK TO THE QUEUE? HUH? I DIDN'T THINK SO. NOW SIT ON YOUR HANDS WHILE I PULL." While occasionally useful, this is not a ranged silence as such.
I actually don't know if monks have a ranged silence. My monk is all of level 12, and looking this up on Wowhead would require effort.
So it's apparent that Fae Silence is of immediate use to a bear. However, it also has the bad luck to be a major glyph, and now that your only choices are between major and minor glyphs (the "Prime" class has disappeared), major glyph slots are very thin on the ground. However, there still aren't a lot of dedicated bear glyphs in Mists, and the ones that do exist (e.g., Glyph of Survival Instincts, Glyph of Might of Ursoc) are not necessarily things you'd want glyphed for each encounter. (Glyph of Maul is still around, but we may not wind up using Maul enough to justify glyphing it.) It'll definitely be an attractive glyph for the purpose of 5-man tanking, though.
By the way, the current beta tooltip is incorrect -- the beta version of Faerie Fire has a 6-second cooldown, so glyphing it basically doubles this.
Glyph of the Stag
Glyph of the Stag changes the current kitty version of Travel Form to the white stag seen in the screenshot above. In addition, you become a vehicle able to give another player rides. I have not spent any real length of time in Orgrimmar on the beta without seeing at least one druid giving people rides around the central portion of the city, which suggests that this glyph is already something of a success.
It's too bad that the stag model seems to possess an even lower poly count than the cheetah, if that's possible. I know that Blizzard's been working on new character models, and part of me wonders (and hopes) about the possibility of fixing up some of the game's creakiest mob models as well.
Glyph of Lifebloom
Glyph of Lifebloom is basically the healing version of the rogue's Redirect ability, except better, because it doesn't have a cooldown. Now, for the purpose of 5-mans, it's probably not all that useful, because you'll want to keep Lifebloom running on the tank. However, for tank switches in raids or all the target-switching that goes on in Battlegrounds and Arena, this is an absolute godsend.
That, actually, is one of the reasons that restoration druids have historically had so many problems successfully healing the 5v5 bracket. The ramp-up time on Lifebloom (and the general weakness of Nourish on any target where Lifebloom isn't running) is a killer with the frequent target switches that occur while the opposing team is searching for the most vulnerable among your teammates. This glyph might make a very, very big difference to a problem that's existed since the very beginning of Arena.
Or not. Another problem with 5v5 is the burst that druids generally have more issues handling than other healers, although the Soul of the Forest talent mentioned above, Cenarion Ward, and Ironbark could have a huge impact on that. A baseline Living Seed doesn't hurt either, although it's not among the more compelling talents in the present restoration tree.
Glyph of the Chameleon
This is another option that, despite having no impact whatsoever on combat, makes your play experience 500% better. Glyph of the Chameleon randomly changes your animal forms among the different color options available to your race, which is just fun as hell and a real pleasure to play with -- or it would be if it were working, which it doesn't appear to be at present.
I would assume that once it's functional, it'll have a chance to happen with each shapeshift, so you should even be able to powershift into the form you're already in for a different color whenever you want. Snoogans.
Shifting Perspectives: Bear and Resto Edition takes a peek at healer balance in Dragon Soul, discovers why bears and PvP gear are a pretty good mix, lends advice on gearing up to hit the Raid Finder, and helps you level a druid in the Cataclysm era.