- There's a new section called Secondary Stat Attunement that basically comes right out and tells you what stat you're expected to want for each specialization. Fury warriors, you'll notice it's still crit. Fire mages? Same thing. We're still angry and hot. We both still love crit. We should totally form a band.
- Other new sections include the Self-Sustainability section (which explains how your ability to not die has been changed) and the Tooltip Clarity section, which explains why they've made changes to various tooltips. Of extra import is the mention that, just because the tooltip has changed, that doesn't mean the ability has, unless the patch notes say it has. So keep that in mind.
- There have been several changes to the Ability Pruning section - Death Knights lose Blood Strike and Necrotic Strike, druids see a mountain of changes (seriously, if you're a druid, go check that out, it's crazy) - paladins, priests, rogues and especially shamans have gotten some significant pruning as well (I'd put shamans just behind druids).
Filed under: Druid
But I never could get into playing a balance druid. At first it was the fact that I began playing a druid before balance druids were even something remotely feasible to play. Then I was drawn to other classes, and by the time I got back to the druid, balance looked like a complicated impossibility to learn. Apparently I was not alone in this assessment, as balance druids are headed for some massive changes according to the latest iteration of patch notes from the Warlords of Draenor alpha.
- Difficult to get starting gear - For most people, it's hard to get started as a tank. Gearing is an issue, because some tanks (DKs, warriors and paladins) need specific tanking gear, while even the leather tanks still generally use different stats to some degree, different enchants, different weapons for tanking than DPS or (especially) healing. This is a problem the gearing changes in Warlords should really help with.
- Where can you learn it? - Tanking requires a different skill set from DPS or healing. While proving grounds exist, they don't really teach the most important part of being a tank - reacting to other players. It can be hard as a new tank to walk into a dungeon having never done it before. That leads into the third difficulty of picking up tanking.
- Dungeons don't provide any sort of experience right now - With the wildly disparate gear levels on people running random dungeons, you can have a tank in 450 gear trying to hold aggro off of players in 580 gear. While it can be nice to be the tank in 580 gear, even you might have trouble when groups don't cooperate, run ahead of you, pull mobs half way across the zone, and generally simply refuse to act like any kind of groups at all. This is something I'm hoping the gear squish and ten levels will do away with - we'll all basically be on the same page when Warlords dungeons are being run.
In addition to new stats, there are the abilities each tank will see affected by readiness to consider. There are also Draenor Perks for each tank spec, granted randomly as we level from 90 to 100. There are changes in what abilities exist, in what specs get them. Vengeance is gone, replaced with Resolve, buffing our self heals and absorbs. In short, while the basic idea remains the same - generate resources via attacks to spend on damage reduction in one fashion or another - how we go about it, how it interacts with us has so many changes that it's worth discussing in length. There's so much change coming in that I don't pretend I'll catch all of it, which is why we have comments, after all.
So what do I expect to see out of tanking coming 6.0? It should be noted, this discussion is based on the Warlords alpha patch notes and such datamining as I've looked over, and I freely admit I only tank on one class, so while these are general observations I may be missing key class specific factors.
The solution being implemented here is to overall increase tank DPS without an unreliable mechanic like Vengeance adding different attack power depending on how much damage the tank takes. This also removes the temptation for tanks to deliberately take more damage in order to get Vengeance stacked up faster. So Vengeance is gone, and Resolve is implemented. How does it work?
- Resolve improves self-healing and absorbs done by the tank to the tank (so no, it won't buff priest bubbles) based on the damage taken (ignoring avoidance and mitigation, same as Vengeance now) within the last 10 seconds, and your Stamina. This means stuff like Death Strike, Shield Barrier, things of that nature. If you cast a heal on someone else, Resolve won't buff it.
- Each tank class' tanking mastery will now add 12% attack power, and the amount of attack power will scale with mastery as well. This is in addition to current affects, not replacing it - your tanking mastery will do what you're used to it doing, it'll just also do more.
- Brewmaster monks will no longer deal less damage. That 15% damage penalty? Gone.
The section of the patch notes detailing the change is, as always, behind the jump.
@Vigilate_MW Oh, hah, that's a big oversight, my bad. Yes, Combo Points are 'on the Rogue' now. Could revert based on feedback, but trying.- Celestalon (@Celestalon) April 4, 2014
This is honestly a really big change for both classes. One of the unique frustrations of playing the class was spending the time and energy to build up enough points for a big finisher, only to see the target die before that finisher could land. Don't get me wrong, having a target die is always the name of the game, whether you're stabbing with daggers or skulking around as a cat. But once that target was dead, all combo points you carefully built up would simply vanish when the next target was acquired.
- Currently, with healers able to heal everyone so quickly, fight damage has to almost kill them instantly to get healer attention, which is a design they want to get away from.
- The goal is for every healer to have a triage-capable healing kit without feeling the same.
- No, they're not just trying to repeat Cataclysm's healing game.
- Shamans have too many smart heals. But they have less instant cast healing that other healers.
- The changes to crit damage and healing in PvP mentioned in the watercooler are indeed PvP only.
- These changes are intended to affect all healers - this is a start for beta iteration to follow.
- Healers may have time to put DPS attacks into their rotations while healing in the new healer paradigm.
- Baseline mana regen will be higher, but you'll still use spirit to boost it when you get it on gear.
Dedralie at Healiocentric has started a series examining how the 6 healer specs fared in Mists of Pandaria, and the first installment starts with a look at representation in raids. It's a fascinating article on the rise, fall, and sometimes stagnation of class fortunes, and toward the end there's a pretty cogent prediction on what mythic raids in Warlords of Draenor are probably going to look like if current trends continue.
This is a quick summary, but I'll provide more details past the cut. As Dedralie writes, while we're not really talking about healer balance or throughput here, there are a few obvious trends you can track from the Mists launch in September 2012 all the way to heroic Garrosh kills in January 2014:
- Discipline priests and holy paladins ruled the expansion.
- The absorption effects brought by these two healers is a huge advantage in heroic content (even more so in 10-man), and it may be too valuable as a mechanic.
- Tier 15 (Throne of Thunder) was the most balanced with respect to representation. Tier 14 saw significant gulfs between class popularity that unfortunately returned with a vengeance in Tier 16 (Siege of Orgrimmar).
- While monks and holy priests are still struggling for representation, it's instructive to look at the fights where they were significantly more popular.
- Mythics will probably look like the "under-healed" heroics of MoP, which will prejudice heal teams toward synergies between absorption healers and those with strong throughput-based cooldowns.
Several months and sixty levels later, that experience remains full of fond memories of endless frustration with the class and how it played. It absolutely did not help that giant improvements for that class were rolled out in a patch shortly after I hit 60. I rolled Horde, and the rest is history ... or it was, anyway. The druid remained at level 60, years after I hit 70, 80, 85 and 90, frozen in a distinct period of time. Several months ago, while idly looking at the login screen and pondering what to play, I decided to actually level the druid and get it caught up. Furthermore, I decided to make the trip without heirloom gear -- after all, it didn't exist when I originally played the character.
This is the story of a peculiar alt that used to be a main, and what happens when you crack open a time capsule from 2005.
So if tanking a small group or adds that accompany a boss mob, this change will have little effect - it's when tanking huge packs that the vengeance decay will be most noticeable. The calculation based on most damage seems interesting to me - hopefully the calculations won't be such that vengeance fails to stack properly.
These changes are almost certainly aimed at reducing the very high DPS that we can see on trash pulls and boss fights with a great many streaming adds (such as Tortos' bats or the packs before Iron Qon) especially as we head into the final tier of gear for Mists of Pandaria, which would inflate these numbers even more. Raids that use tanks with the highest DPS tanks will probably feel these changes the most. As always, this is the PTR, so if you have an opinion on these changes getting on the test servers and testing them out is useful so you can give proper feedback.
In the last part of this column, we discussed all of the changes in the patch notes, and what that might portend for your feral or balance druid. This week, we'll look at the "other stuff" that might affect your play: set bonuses, trinkets, and the legendary cloak.
- Feral T16 2-piece: Omen of Clarity increases damage of Shred, Mangle, and Ravage by 50% for 6 sec.
- Feral T16 4-piece: After using Tiger's Fury, your next finishing move will restore 5 combo points on your current target after being used.
The PTR has returned with patch 5.4 goodies, and I'm back to discuss what this means for your feral or balance druid. Remember, numbers at this point are completely unbalanced, so focus on the substantive changes!
First, the nerfs
- Cyclone no longer has a 20-second cooldown for Feral Druids.
- Predatory Swiftness no longer has a chance to make Cyclone instant, free, and castable in all forms.
I find this very interesting, especially combined with the changes to Dark Command, Reckoning, Growl and Taunt. All of these abilities will now not only force a target to attack the tank in question, but will also increase her threat by 200% for 3 seconds. This means that, even if you are tanking a boss or mob that you already have threat on, these four abilities will still increase your threat overall when used, meaning that if you hit a taunt while tanking it will still have a positive effect on your threat. It's worth noting that hunter pet Growl works exactly the same - hunter pets will also get the extra 200% threat over the three seconds.
We're clearly not even remotely done with tweaks and fixes in patch 5.4, but by themselves these changes suggest that tanking is definitely going to see its fair share. The change to taunts is the biggest change to how taunting works that has ever happened, and the inclusion of Riposte goes one step further towards making avoidance also provide threat.
Patch 5.3 is here, the item upgrade vendors have returned, and it's time to talk about everybody's favorite things; gear. What are the pixels I can pick to push my kitty to the top of the heap? Let's take a look.
Weapons and trinkets first
As a feral, getting a good weapon is your highest priority. It's the jelly to your peanut butter, the ketchup to your french fries...okay, I may be hungry, but you get the point, it's a necessary complement to ensuring you can be an effective damage dealer. You have four choices for weapons; three drops from Throne of Thunder (Shan-Dun, Breaker of Hope, Jalak's Maelstrom Staff, or the Darkwood Spiritstaff) and the weapon with a legendary socket from 5.0, Gao-Rei. The differences in the ToT weapons are fairly minor, so just get the best you can, and upgrade it ASAP. If you can't get into ToT yet, the +500 agility from the legendary gem on Gao-Rei makes it a worthwhile fill-in. Oh, and if you've completed Chapter II of the legendary quest and received an Eye of the Black Prince, don't forget to buy another one when you get a weapon upgrade.