Thereâ€™s one thing in beta that I havenâ€™t heard any Bear Druids complaining about: damage dealt. Weâ€™ve been handed a cornucopia of talents and multipliers that dramatically increase how hard we can hit it and for how long (i.e. Rage generation for dodging)â€”and who doesnâ€™t like an animal who knows how to get it on strong? Maybe thatâ€™s another story. But Druids, by and large, have been concerned about surviving. This latest beta build pulls a few more tricks out of the developersâ€™ hats, but doesnâ€™t quite provide the security we wanted. Iâ€™ve divided the updates into three categoriesâ€”damage dealing, survivability, and PVPâ€”for ease of reading.
Hit It Like You Mean It (Damage)
- Shred: effects which increase Bleed damage also increase Shred damage.
- Maul: effects which increase Bleed damage also increase Maul damage.
- Faerie Fire (Feral): now deals damage and causes extra threat while in Bear form.
- Glyph of Swipe has been removed and has been replaced with Glyph of Maul, enabling Maul to hit two targets.
Briefly: none of these are negative changes. Anything that increase damage dealt increases our ability to aggressively hold aggro and therefore raises the threat cap your DPS have to manage. Itâ€™s pertinent to note that the language for Shred and Maul can be a little confusingâ€”Shred and Maul are not becoming bleed effects (bleeding, remember, means damage over time) but rather have their damage boosted by effects that normally increase bleed damage (i.e. Mangle and potentially the Warrior Armâ€™s talent Trauma).
Faerie Fire is already a staple ability that generates a minute amount of threat, and converting it to a damage ability, however small, is a welcome addition to the TPS arsenal (and will certainly encourage some forgetful ferals to apply it).
I also donâ€™t see the removal of the Swipe glyph as any sort of nerf. Swipe already hits 4 targets. Removing one and allowing us to utilize one of our largest threat/damage attacks on two targets is pretty stellar, in my opinion, even if Maul is a â€œnext attackâ€ spell (think: Heroic Strike).
Keep It Stronger Longer (Survivability)
- Barkskin: now usable in all forms.
- Predatory Instincts: reduces the damage taken by area of effect attacks by 3/6/9/12/15%.
- Improved Leader of the Pack: in addition, you gain 4% of your maximum mana when you benefit from an Improved Leader of the Pack heal.
The Barkskin change was already anticipated. No complaints here. Iâ€™m actually more excited about the change to Predatory Instincts, which I had finally decided to max out over Shredding Attacks. The previous Predatory Instincts offered a â€œchanceâ€ to avoid AOE; here, weâ€™ve been given a 15% flat damage reduction from AOE. Marry that to the critical strike bonus, and I think we have a winner.
The Improved Leader of the Pack change is most definitely a survivability changeâ€”now, the entire raid group will receive a small mana refund every time theyâ€™re healed by LotP, reinforcing the reason you might want to take a Druid over another, similar raid buffer. Arenâ€™t we the clever little fur-batteries?
4 Fite (PVP)
- Bash: now interrupts spell casts for 3 sec. and stuns for 4.
- Brutal Impact: now reduces the cooldown of Bash by 15/30 seconds in addition to its previous effect.
- Feral Charge (Cat): causes you to leap behind an enemy, dazing them for 3 seconds. 30 second cooldown.
Most of the changes affect Bash. I slotted these changes into a PVP section, because I fail to see how useful the spell interrupt function is in a PVE environment. Why? If youâ€™re using Bash to stun a mob in PVE, youâ€™re stunning it. If the mob is stunned for 4 seconds while simultaneously being silenced for 3, youâ€™re already accomplishing the same purpose, right? In a PVP scenario, your target can immediately trinket out of Bash and find him or herself unable to counter immediately with a defensive or offensive spell. The cooldown reduction is obviously complimentary to this function.
Whatâ€™s the difference between Cat and Bear Feral Charge? The cooldown and on-charge effect. In Bear Form, Feral Charge sits on a convenient 15 second cooldown and immobilizes and interrupts your target. In Cat Form, we now have a longer cooldown and a daze effect. A carefully timed Feral Charge in a PVP environment can considerably slow your target, and in some cases, increase the damage your comrades can deal to said target (i.e. a Warriorâ€™s Heroic Strike, however useless in PVP, or a Hunterâ€™s Steady Shot).
Blizzard is seemingly taking a few steps in the right directions in regards to Feral Combat, but will the survivability changes assuage the wary community?