I've had a number of requests for caster DPS staves lately, so I decided to highlight Cryptmaker, which isn't actually a caster DPS staff at all so I have no idea why I chose this particular intro. Rather than dwell on it, let's move on with our lives.
We talked about druids in bear form also getting AP from strength. Strength won't appear on leather and no piece should have Str and Agi together, so it's not like they would really double dip. That lets us still have tanking necks, rings and cloaks with strength on them that are attractive to all 4 tanking classes.
Ghostcrawler, you machine, you. First you tell us that all of these stats are just plain goin' away in Cataclysm, and now you give us specifics? Such an industrious crab. But how is this change going to be carried out? Turns out he's got something to say about that, too.
Every week, Shifting Perspectives examines issues affecting druids and those who group with them. Today we root around our inbox and herd a series of scribbled notes across our desk, trying to get what we actually know about patch 3.3 in order.Also, Zach Yonzon's PhotoShop skills for the win, but we already knew that.
This week's column is going to be a little bit of a grab bag in much the same way that our patch 3.1 miscellany post was, because there have been a few changes on the PTR recently that we haven't yet discussed.
Before we get any farther, I'd also like to give a shout-out to our readers and commenters on last week's column, "The disappearance of the bear." I was a little antsy over how it was going to be received (lengthy articles on what's going wrong with a spec can get derailed into QQ-fests pretty easily, and that wasn't my intent), but was heartened to see so much quality discussion. One of the things I realized after reading through the comments was that Blizzard may actually have succeeded a little too well in their quest to make tanking more attractive and fun to the average player. WoW's four tanking classes (warrior, paladin, druid, and death knight) comprise 4 of the 5 most popular classes in the game right now. As I've written previously, the druid functions as the proverbial canary in the coal mine as a harbinger of class balance concerns, and with each of the game's plate classes numbering among the most played at 80, it's impossible for this not to have an impact on druid spec choice.
Anyway. For the moment, we are going to turn away from this rather depressing situation, and concern ourselves with what's going on in patch 3.3.
NATURE'S GRACE: Now procs from non-periodic spell criticals (old: all spell criticals).
So direct-damage spells (e.g. Wrath, Starfire, Moonfire's initial hit) or direct-healing spells (e.g. Regrowth's initial heal, Nourish) will be the only ones that can trigger the 20% haste effect from 3/3 Nature's Grace. This is definitely a nerf for Balance concerning Starfall and Hurricane crits, but it's also a nerf concerning specific gear sets. Moonfire's DoT component can crit if you're using Balance 2-piece Tier 9, and a Restoration druid rocking 4-piece Tier 9 gains the ability for Rejuvenation to crit.
For Balance's AoE situations and Starfall cooldowns, it's an out-and-out nerf, albeit a limited one given Starfall's cooldown and the unlikelihood of Hurricane playing a major role in any given boss fight. Otherwise, it's also a nerf directed at Tier 9 bonuses, unless Blizzard's planning on future tier bonuses (or class changes) that will make periodic damage and/or healing crits a routine thing. Stay tuned.
Every week, Shifting Perspectives examines issues affecting Druids and those who group with them. This week, we haul ourselves to Outland and are shocked to discover that +spellpower sometimes comes on leather.
The above video is the result of an idle question I was asked recently by a friend: "So how much damage would you guys do in caster form meleeing?" I started to answer and then realized I had no idea. The notion of actually hitting something with a weapon is utterly foreign to the class. We have claws and a can of celestial pain for that nonsense if provoked, but still, the question was pretty interesting, particularly because after seeing Prinnygod's comment from last week I started to wonder about all the different ways you could level as a Druid if you deliberately avoided Cat and Moonkin. Sure, you'd be a gibbering wreck at the level cap, but that's beside the point. Blizzard once had a talent called Weapon Balance in the Balance tree that improved our melee damage with weapons by 10% -- they were expecting us to hit things. I wondered how that would have worked out if Druid talent trees had never been overhauled.
So I took my main to the mobs outside the Argent Tournament and smacked stuff while running a stopwatch. What you'll see here is a level 79 Frostbrood Whelp with 12,600 health which took me 34.4 seconds to kill, with two global cooldowns devoted to casting a Rejuvenation and then a Lifebloom. I'm currently on a Feral (Bear) spec and thus wearing gear that does help one's melee damage, mind you, but that still works out to a godawful 366.28 DPS. The moral of our little story can be found at the end of the video. Master of Arms is going to be a real trip.
Again, this is mainly a nerf to PvE raiding but it could end up affecting PvP slightly as well. It's not expected to completely rock the arena world or anything. The worst thing that could happen is Priests (or other soft targets) like myself will survive a few seconds longer against melee heavy teams, or people like Rogues have it worse against Plate. I guess from my perspective it could be viewed as a buff!
Note that in Cataclysm, armor penetration will be removed as a stat as it has been deemed confusing in regards to its use.
Every week, Shifting Perspectives examines issues affecting Druids and those who group with them. This week, we reach our 31-point talents and rejoice, for leveling is now...pretty much the same as it was before we got our 31-point talents, but nonetheless, level 40 is a milestone.
In the wake of the announcement concerning the upcoming abolishment of spell and ability ranks, I'm wondering whether it's worth our time to continue noting and linking the presence of new ranks while leveling. For now, I'm going to keep linking them; when Cataclysm hits, it shouldn't be too much trouble to go back and delete them, because I'll be revising the guides anyway to reflect any changes Cataclysm makes to the class. Also -- werewolves. Who saw that coming? Have you seen those racials? Sweet Sister Mary Clarence, those are overpowered. And the transform animation? Well, don't we all feel stupid now for rolling something that barely manages a weak whumph when it shifts. But I'm an optimist at heart, and I firmly believe that Blizzard has something special in mind for us. Maybe a bigger whumph.
On a completely unrelated note that I am going to write here just because I can, I was tanking a VoA-25 PuG earlier this week and we lost our offtank to a disconnect right before Emalon. We then spent the next 30 minutes trying to find another tank...with 7 Death Knights in the raid.
There really aren't a ton of Druid changes on the 3.2.2 PTR as yet, but two of them are rather intriguing means of handling current PvP concerns for the weaker PvP specs (Balance and Feral). Anyway, I wanted to get our commenters' take on them because PvP is definitely not my area of expertise.
MOONKIN FORM: This form now also reduces the damage the druid takes while stunned by 15%.
Ghostcrawler mentioned recently that the main concern for Balance PvP isn't damage or CC -- it's just survivability, pure and simple. This is a very welcome change in that vein, although I'm surprised that it went to us over other casters, who are arguably more vulnerable to melee stuns. Well...maybe not. Shadow Priests have Dispersion, Warlocks have Demonic Circle, Mages have Ice Block and Blink, and so on. All of these are instant-cast, which might be part of why they're more effective "Oh s^$t!" buttons than Roots and Cyclone, both of which can be interrupted and silenced. Travel Form leaves you more vulnerable than you are in Moonkin, Bear Form has limited options given that most moonkin PvP builds I see still don't put any points in Feral despite the change to Survival Instincts, and Nature's Grasp -- well, you have to get hit for that to trigger that anyway.
We'll see if this helps, although if the root of Balance arena issues lies in the vulnerability of caster form (which was one of the factors driving the "tankiness" of Trees in Season 6), this change just nudges the Druid to stay in moonkin more than they already are. Still, I'm curious to see what effect this will have.
Every week, Shifting Perspectives examines issues affecting Druids and those who group with them. This week, we begin to enjoy our brand-new Bear and Cat forms in earnest.
Hail and well met, Druids. I apologize for my lack of comments on the last Shifting Perspectives, but I was away that week on vacation with abysmal hotel wireless. After spending 20 minutes trying to send a single reply, I gave up and decided that my time on vacation was better spent gorging myself on the offerings of the resort's culinary school. 4 days of coquilles St. Jacques, filet mignon, and venison sausage in puff pastry left me unable to move, but fortunately I have recovered sufficiently to roll myself, Violet Beauregarde-style, in the direction of the laptop for today's column.
Levels 10 through 20 will be among your most interesting and frustrating as a Druid, and they're certainly among the most volatile; as of patch 3.2, you will gain 4 of the Druid's possible forms within these levels, with the biggest alteration to your playstyle likely to occur at 20 with Cat form. Be forewarned that this resulted in a fairly lengthy, 3-part article.
In case you can't tell, I really loved the series of pictures I got to shoot on the PTR of the new Night Elf cat loping across the frozen wastes of Dragonblight. It is almost impossible to take a bad picture with the new forms, but there's just something about them that inspires you to hit the road looking for the best contexts in which to show them off. I foresee this may prove troublesome in the poorly-lit reaches of certain dungeons, where Druids will be loath to walk for fear that their beauty may only imperfectly grace the monitor. Such is life, my friends.
Where was I? I had to stop there to weep into a sherry. Well, no matter. Patch 3.2 is here, and with it a number of changes for the Druid class, both good and bad.
Read on for a guide to all 4 specs in 3.2 and the changes likely to impact Druids in both PvE and PvP.
In a somewhat surprising turn of events, the devs have decided to do a followup to the recent Druid Q&A, tackling certain things with more specifics rather than the general approach they took originally. The followup seems mostly aimed at Druid PvP, perhaps an omen of the future. It reminds me much more of the unofficial Shadow Priest Q&A that Ghostcrawler tackled, addressing very specific issues.
For convenience, the full followup can be read below.
Q: Players feel that the effect of Feral Cat Charge isn't as good as the Feral Bear Charge yet the cat charge has double the cooldown. What is the reasoning behind the cooldown difference of these two abilities? A: Feral Charge Bear mirrors warrior Charge (15 sec), while Feral Charge Cat mirrors Shadowstep (30 sec). They are really different abilities. We just had to put them on a shared cooldown to keep the druid from using them back to back.
Q: Are we satisfied with the damage that Shred does without a bleed/mangle effect on the target compared to how much it does with the bleed effect?
Every Tuesday, Shifting Perspectives explores issues affecting Druids and those who group with them. This week, we begin at the beginning, and we will go on until the end. Then we will stop. Then we will ask ourselves why we are taking advice from 19th century children's literaturerather than the books that are relevant to our interests, like Why Buying a House You Have No Idea How To Renovate Is Probably a Bad Idea, or Smoked Salmon and You: A Guide To Not Eating Yourself Into a Coma.
Greetings, Druids. I took the liberty of rolling a few new Druids to test out the improved leveling process, and if possible I'm going to level a brand-new one all the way to 80 to make sure everything in the guide's been personally tested and accurate as of the 3.1/3.2 game world. Today we'll start off with a baby Tauren Druid on the PTR who's now level 9; later I'll be switching between a Night Elf and a Tauren.
This is the single best thing you can do for yourself, at least for leveling in classic content. As we've previously discussed, the Druid is still hobbled by its initial design as an endgame secondary healer, but you can skip a certain portion of this early weakness by leveling feral. Piggybacking off all of the DPS leather that went into the game to support the billions of people who rolled Rogues is a nice advantage, but the real attraction of leveling Feral lies in the ability to DPS in forms that don't require mana. Being able to save your mana bar for healing and buffing decreases downtime enormously (more so as you gain levels, as our mana efficiency and damage aren't that great early on).
Blizzard's class Q&A is back again, this time with a class that's near to my heart: Druid. I play my Druid more than my Priest these days (who says there's a healer shortage?), and I've grown pretty enamored with the class. But you didn't come hear to hear me talk about me. What did Ghostcrawler have to say on behalf of the dev team?
Every class Q&A so far has started with a section on the class's past and present.
In original WoW, end-game Druids were basically healing-only.
BC: Bears were pretty good; cats and (b)oomkin were probably still underpowered. This was the era of the hybrid tax.
Wrath: all four specs are viable.
Of course, PvP is a bit different, with Resto's dominance in the BC era.
After the break we'll take a look a closer look at a few areas, and present to you the complete Q&A.
Every week (sort of), Shifting Perspectives explores issues affecting Druids and those who group with them. This week, in the anticipation of a patch likely to bring many new players into the fold, we descend into the depths of an ancient library in pursuit of Druidic history, lean back in our chair considering the modern form of the class, cast a gimlet eye toward the future, and then wonder how many more clichés we can shove into a sentence before readers start writing angry letters to our editor.
Dear new Druids,
Welcome to the class -- and for some of you, welcome back. I've observed a flood of players rolling premade Druids on the PTR to try out with the new bear and cat forms, and with the promise of new moonkin and tree forms arriving at some point in the future, I think it's reasonable to expect lots of you trying (or rediscovering) the class on the live realms. You are most welcome, and we are glad to have you. This is the best class in the game.
Now, I'll grant I'm prejudiced, because I have loved this class since the first day I started playing. I love it so much that it's difficult for me to remember that there are 5...or 8...or...however many other classes there are. I don't know. I haven't checked lately. I'm told Blizzard added another one, but I can't be expected to keep up with every little thing.
It is possible that we have changed more than any other class between the beginning of the game and July 2009 as I write this. I want you to know what the Druid is all about, why it might be a good choice for you, and why (as much as I find this difficult to write) you may wish to steer clear before we start a series on leveling a Druid.
3.2 approaches! Sort of. The PTR itself isn't up yet (at least, not as I write this), but nonetheless, 3.2 approaches on little cat feet.
I'm going to examine the 3.2 PTR patch notes line by relevant line, just because there are several changes that impact Druids while not being class-specific. If you want a quick summary without being massively spoiled, Balance is getting a huge and welcome change to the functionality of Eclipse, Cats are getting bonked by the nerfbat, and PvP-Restos are really getting bonked by the nerfbat. Bears, well...not much is going to happen to bears this patch, which is a little demoralizing given the improvements being made to Pally tanks, but that's OK. We still have our, uh, amazing Tier 8 set bonuses and...um...the best -- sort of -- tanking cooldowns in, uh, the...uh...
...Oh, screw it, just stack the hell out of stamina and pray to the gods of RNG if your guild's dumb enough to try Ulduar on hard-mode. Congratulations; you have now done all you can possibly do to prepare yourself for modern tanking.