With apologies to Isaiah Mustafa ...
Take a look at your cat. Now look at me. Now back at your cat. Now back at me. Sadly, your cat isn't me, but if you stopped playing that silly rogue and switched to feral, you could have a cat that looked like me. Look down, back up -- where are you? You're on a boat with an armored cat, the cat your cat could look like. What's in your hand? Back at me. I have it -- it's a clam with patch notes declaring ferals to be epic. Look again; the notes are now the tears of all the classes who wish they could look like me. Anything is possible when you roll feral. Forget horses; I'm a stag.
Yes, I was tempted to end the column right there --but we've got so much good stuff to talk about.
A few weeks ago, Ghostcrawler mentioned that Incarnation would have specific art for cats, bears, and moonkin; in the latest patch, a datamined model showed us what is likely the first example of that. At first, I wasn't too sure about the idea of putting armor on a feral form, but it's really grown on me over the last couple of days. It's obviously difficult to do cosmetic effects for a class that revolves around shapeshifting, but I'm grateful that Blizzard's continuing to add something for forms. I can't wait to see the bear and moonkin armor. (Do moonkin even need armor?)
New level 90 talents
To put it kindly, the original level 90 talents were not well received. While a few players (including me) welcomed the challenge of incorporating shapeshifting into our play, many, many others felt forced into a playstyle they didn't want. Happily, Ghostcrawler saved the day. Allison's already covered the changes from a general perspective, so instead I'll take a look at each talent and see what it heralds now for cats and moonkin.
Heart of the Wild Dramatically improves the druid's ability to serve combat roles outside of normal specialization for 45 seconds and passively increases Agility and Intellect by 6%.
Well, adding the passive stats made the talent much more palatable to those who didn't like the idea of role-shifting; unfortunately, it directly contradicts what Blizzard said talents were going to be. Adding the passive buff feels like a bribe. "Don't want to shapeshift? OK, pick this, but if you ever change your mind ... the button's right there ..."
Anyway, the passive buff is nice, but we'll have to see how the numbers play out in comparison to Nature's Vigil. There are a lot of mechanics that come into play here. How will it stack with other buffs? How much will agility/intellect be worth in comparison with secondary stats in Mists? How much better will druids be than other classes? Two times or 10? You know, the usual.
Dream of Cenarius Wrath, Starfire, Starsurge, and melee abilities increase healing done by your next healing spell by 30%. Non-instant casts of Nourish, Healing Touch, and Regrowth increase the damage done by your next damaging spell or ability by 70%.
I think I get where Blizzard's going with this. I really do. The devs want to give DPS druids a talent that lets them use the occasional off heal, without forcing them to give up the clear damage boost that the other talents in the tier provide. Unfortunately, I don't feel like this design will work for PvE.
Let's face it. Mr. Boomkin or Mr. Feral's job is to kill the target by using their damaging abilities in a good rotation. DPS rotations, when done well, flow logically. Stopping a rotation midway to throw in a heal is counterintuitive, as it means breaking the flow to find a heal target, then resuming. Certainly, Blizzard can add a buff and play with the numbers to make doing this a DPS increase -- but should they? That's a harder question to answer, but I lean toward no. DPS classes should not be mixing in cast-time heals.
"Hypocrisy!" you exclaim. "You were all about Heart of the Wild last week!" Well, yes, but I think the two ideas are fundamentally different. With HotW, you're not popping back and forth from one role to the other; you're completely assuming another role temporarily to help your group deal with a situation, and then you stop. It's a one-time thing, fundamentally no different from a non-resto druid Tranquility or a shadow priest's Divine Hymn (except it lasts a bit longer.) I'm OK with one-time rotation interrupters; DoC is not one-time. I could envision a class that mixed healing and DPS in an effective, fun way -- but not in this game.
Nature's Vigil Increases all damage and healing done by 30% for 30 seconds. While Nature's Vigil is active, all single-target healing abilities damage a nearby enemy for 50% of the healing done, and all single-target damaging abilities heal a nearby ally for 50% of the damage done.
Many commenters on the beta forums recommended a talent similar to this, and now it's here. I'm a big fan of the healing portion; unfortunately, it doesn't really synergize well with the damage portion. To boost DPS to the greatest extent possible, NV will be used in concert with other DPS cooldowns (Incarnation/Celestial Alignment for moonkin, or Incarnation/Berserk for ferals) and then used on cooldown. This pretty much eliminates the idea of saving it for when the group needs healing, though.
The return of Disentanglement
Of course, I can't end this column without giving a fond welcome to ...
Disentanglement Shapeshifting now removes all movement-impairing effects. Baseline for all druids.
This darkness has passed; the chains have been broken. Welcome home, druids. Welcome home.
Looking for the latest and greatest in feral cat druid guides? Shifting Perspectives has the answers! Check out our guide to soloing instances and raids, as well as our top gear recommendations and feral guides to the Siege of Wyrmrest Temple and the Fall of Deathwing.