Greetings, folks. Patch 3.0.8 is coming, bringing a few significant changes for the Druid class. Feral attack power is disappearing from the game entirely alongside bonus armor contribution from non-leather items. Restoration is receiving a nerf in the form of a 6-second cooldown to Wild Growth but is otherwise getting some buffs. Balance is also getting a few buffs, including one that will make a big difference to PvP combat versus Rogues and Hunters. But I think, dear readers, we are overlooking the most important part of patch 3.0.8:
Fixed a bug with a Wild Mustard plant that was under the ground in Dalaran.
Oh, thank God. That drove me nuts.
(I'd also love to see them do something about the underground Tiger Lily spawn in Sholazar).
(It's just south of River's Heart).
(Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?).
AQUATIC FORM: Now trainable at level 16.
This gave me a moment's pause. Doing the aquatic form quest without any outside help or experience with the game was a massive undertaking back in the day, although I'll grant it was also a pain in the ass. But the quests themselves aren't being eighty-sixed -- they just won't be necessary to get aquatic form. Oh well. Sic transit gloria annoying quest.
FERAL ATTACK POWER: All weapons now have the potential to grant feral attack power based on their dps (as compared to the best superior-quality weapons available at level 60). Players will see their existing feral weapons grant roughly the same attack power as they did before (+/- 2 or so), but many new weapons will be options for the feral druid. Some feral weapons have had strength converted to attack power to be more appealing to other classes able to equip them. All druids will see the amount of feral attack power granted by an item in the item tooltip, if it grants any, but other players will not see that information.
I confess that the one thing that bothers me about this is whether or not Blizzard chooses to design Druid-influenced weapons in the future. One of the truly cool things about the class is that feral weapons tend to be quite visually distinctive. I would hate to see some of the game's most beautiful and unique pieces disappear, even if gear consolidation is otherwise a good cause.
Oh, Stanchion. I wish I knew how to quit you.
REMOVE CURSE/ABOLISH POISON: Now usable in Moonkin form.
We could decurse in Moonkin as of patch 2.3.0, but being able to cast Abolish Poison is a very welcome change. It has obvious implications for PvP, particularly with respect to the two classes (Rogues and Hunters) who depend on poison effects, but it'll also come in handy for grinds against poison-capable mobs. Having to blow a ton of mana on a shapeshift just to get rid of a poison effect was fairly irritating.
A 5% increase to Hurricane damage isn't enough to make this talent worth taking over Starlight Wrath for moonkin, but Genesis is a popular talent for Restoration builds. More oomph to Tranquility is welcome, but you're really here for the 5% boost to HoT's anyway.
GROWL: Range increased to 30 yards.
"Hey, (idiot overnuker)?" It's cool, bro. You can start overnuking from as much as 30 yards away now."
"I can? Wow!"
"Hey! Why didn't you taunt off me?"
"Oooooooh, those pesky resists."
KING OF THE JUNGLE: The Bear effect is now physical, and thus cannot be dispelled.
KotJ's effect in Cat Form (as much as 60 energy) is instant and also a physical effect. I assume the change was made to bring the Bear effect in line with its kitty counterpart, although KotJ is markedly less useful for Bears (at least in PvP) than it is for cats.
This talent is another popular one for both Restoration and restokin specs, so additional mana efficiency to Nourish is certainly welcome. More on this under the "Nourish" entry below.
I laughed. The opportunity to shave half a second off a Revive cast won't come frequently, but when it does it'll be a fun little bonus.
Blizzard is really trying to push Nourish as more of a main-line healing spell, and the buffs certainly help. Druids complained for ages about our lack of a flash heal (with most of the complaints coming pre-2.3 and 2.4, with the combination of a dismally-inefficient Regrowth coupled with the pre-buff Spirit mechanic). Now that we have one, it seems to have been heavily eclipsed by the glyphed Regrowth. But Nourish is still faster, and -- assuming Moonglow plus WG -- now more efficient and powerful.
Ha! Take that, Hunters.
Actually, this opens a few interesting possibilities, especially with respect to cat weapons. Black Ice off Malygos-10 will be one of the best cat weapons in the game and may, depending on your gear set, be roughly comparable to the Naxx-25 Undeath Carrier and the Naxx-10 Staff of the Plaguehound.
PRIMAL TENACITY: Now reduces the cost of Bear Form, Cat Form, and Dire Bear Form by 17/33/50% in addition to its previous effects.
I used to enjoy having Primal Tenacity in a 0/47/14 pre-Wrath build for some wiggle room against fears and stuns while tanking 5-mans and Nightbane, but these days there's not much room for the talent in a PvE-oriented build. You'd be crazy not to have it in a PvP-build, however, and that's the part of the game most affected by the need for quick shifting. Both this and Survival of the Fittest are now somewhat overbudget for the benefits you'll get from them, but with the complete lack of +int on feral gear, I don't think too many PvP ferals are eager to complain.
Assuming they're not changing anything else with the talent, a 3/3 PotP is now a flat 12% reduction to damage from all sources in bear form whether you're soloing or standing in front of Malygos making statements of questionable veracity concerning his mother. Not too shabby.
This is a huge help to raiding cats who often find themselves out of form to battle-rez, Innervate, and/or toss a Tranquility, and to PvP cats who are just as frequently out of form to heal or CC. Between talent changes like this, Primal Tenacity, and SotF, I am very, very curious to see how feral Druids are going to fare in Season 5.
STARFALL: Instead of canceling shapeshifting, now cancels on shapeshifting into an animal form.
This makes a lot more sense. Balance PvPers are in and out of moonkin to heal just as frequently as their cat counterparts, and losing an expensive Starfall while switching between two forms that could cast it anyway was a little counterintuitive.
Otherwise known as the talent change that should finally consign Badge of Tenacity to the bank (or vendor) forever in conjunction with the loss of bonus armor contribution from non-leather pieces.
I have mixed feelings about it, and the EJ discussion between Falk and Duilliath on this page accurately summarizes arguments on both sides. There's no denying the rush that came from finally getting a huge, huge, game-changing drop on the level of Wildfury Greatstaff, or Badge of Tenacity, or Origin of Nightmares and Defender's Code...but it also really sucked if things like that never dropped for you. Druid itemization has traditionally been awful, and it was and is entirely possible to go through a whole tier of raid content without being able to upgrade a key slot if a single piece didn't drop. And -- let's face it -- it is a giant problem for the class as a whole that one of the best trinkets at 80 is still a BoE blue zone drop from level 70.
As most have observed, the SotF + AC change is only an immediate nerf if you were already rocking most of the best in-slot items from 25-man raids with bonus armor. It'll be a short-term buff if you haven't been that lucky. Long-term -- well, we'll see. Bear tanks are virtually guaranteed to have SotF anyway, so all in all, I think we can call this a change for the better, pending future itemization in Ulduar and beyond.
SWIPE: Swipe (Cat) has now been added at level 71, dealing 260% weapon damage, costs 50 energy with no cooldown. All talents affecting the Bear Form version affect the Cat Form one as well.
WILD GROWTH: Now has a 6-second cooldown.
Alas, Wild Growth, we hardly knew ye. This parallels a similar nerf to Circle of Healing occurring in the same patch. There's been a lot of back and forth over whether the WG nerf was deserved and the extent to which it's actually going to affect Restoration's healing output. Most Restos will tell you that Wild Growth, as a "smart" HoT, wasn't designed to be spammed, certainly not in the same way that CoH and Chain Heal could be.
The two fights arousing the most consternation seem to be Malygos and his Vortex during Phase 1, and Loatheb in Naxx-10/25. Worried healers do have a point about unavoidable raid-wide damage.
And two notes concerning Druid tier gear changes:
Dreamwalker Battlegear: The Rip bonus is now 4 seconds instead of 3.
Noice! Between this and Glyph of Rip, that's a bonus of 8 seconds to Rip's duration, which is no small thing.
Dreamwalker's Regalia: The 2-piece bonus has been changed to reduce the mana cost of Lifebloom.
The current 2-piece bonus reduces the cost of Rejuvenation by 5% which is -- eh. I haven't yet seen by how much Lifebloom's mana cost is being reduced, so I can't really make a call on this one, but I will say that the bonus, in conjunction with Glyph of Lifebloom and Nature's Splendor, make Lifebloom significantly more compelling. The nerfs were pretty harsh; the recent buffs seem to be an effort to turn it into a stronger HPM spell.