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.
New Bear and Cat Forms
Y helo thar, Tauren cat form. I have but one thing to say to you, my stiff-eyed, pinch-hipped, three-phalange'd affront to the natural order:
That's right, folks. Redesigned Bear and Cat forms go live today, and that sound you hear is the sound of a million sobbing Druids who believed that the game would go to its final reward with the same ugly-ass forms. We're still crossing our fingers for updated Tree of Life, Moonkin, Travel, and Aquatic forms -- and there was a small spark of hope recently from a comment made by Ghostcrawler in the Druid Q&A:
For the official word, do we have plans to update more druid form models at some point in the future?
Ghostcrawler: I know for a fact that the current Travel Form and Aquatic Form are loathed by the artist who redid bear and cat. We do have plans to update additional forms at some point in the future.
If someone meets either Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street or this unknown artist at BlizzCon, please buy them a refreshing beverage or possibly small nation of their choice, and send me the bill.
- Video of new Night Elf forms
- Video of new Tauren forms
- Picture and discussion of new Tauren Bear forms
- Picture and discussion of new Tauren Cat forms
- Picture and discussion of new Night Elf Bear forms
- Picture and discussion of new Night Elf Cat forms
A complete guide to relevant 3.2 patch notes for Druids can be found here. As a TL;DR, I've picked out the most important parts for each spec below:
- MOONKIN: Balance of Power was retooled to reduce all spell damage taken rather than the chance to be hit by spells. Owlkin Frenzy has been improved to restore 10% of your base mana over its 10 second duration. And the biggie: Eclipse's lunar and solar procs are now on separate cooldowns. What does this mean for your rotation? Keep Moonfire and Insect Swarm up as usual, but cast Wrath until you get the lunar Eclipse proc, then cast Starfire until you get the solar Eclipse proc. Lissanna has a more involved discussion here, and Graylo's run the numbers on the % damage increase you should realistically expect.
- BEARS: The only change likely to have any impact on you is the 15% nerf to the agility-to-dodge and dodge rating-to-dodge conversion ratio. Combined with the 8% buff to parry returns from +parry rating, this has the effect of (slightly) improving parry's desirability as a stat before diminishing returns. Obviously, that only impacts the tanks who can parry. Having logged onto both the live realms and the PTR to check, I'm seeing a 1.77% dodge loss between my live bear and PTR bear (both unbuffed), which is within shouting distance of the math that Kalon ran on the changes. Enrage is also getting a small buff and will instantly produce 20 rage, then 10 over the next 10 seconds. Also, we're finally losing that incredibly annoying Pillsbury Doughboy-esque "Poke my tummy!" Savage Defense animation.
- CATS: Neeeeeeeeeeeeeeerfs -- but small ones. Most Cat damage abilities are getting a flat, percentage-based reduction, with commenters pegging it around a 2% DPS loss overall. King of the Jungle is also getting the Bear/Cat shapeshifting mana cost reduction currently linked to Primal Tenacity.
- TREES: As is now customary with patches released on days that end in -y, Blizzard is nerfing Lifebloom. Innervate's functionality has also been tinkered with, mostly over concerns related to Resto mana efficiency in PvP (see below); it provides about half the mana it once did, but its cooldown has been reduced to 3 minutes. If you're having mana issues past the patch, I'd invest in a Glyph of Innervate, stat. Nourish is once again being buffed by getting yoked to Empowered Touch. If you follow Blizzard's design trajectory to its logical conclusion, Nourish will eventually become a 0.5-second cast ability costing 50 mana and healing for 8 billion, whereas Lifebloom will be renamed to Just Put The Damn Spell Out of Its Misery FFS. This concerns me.
The significant change likely to be noticed by Druids for raiding purposes is a 20% nerf to Replenishment, although items with mp5 will be receiving a 25% buff to the amount of mp5 allocated. This helps Paladins and Shamans a lot more directly than Priests and Druids, who use the Spirit that predominates on cloth and leather, so yes -- we're going to feel this more. But Priests and Druids are, I suspect, the main targets of the Replenishment nerf anyhow, with our much-vaunted mana efficiency in raids.
Leveling and Traveling
There aren't any changes that will really have a huge impact on leveling (unless you count the oodles of new Druids likely to be rolled for the new forms), but we do get a few welcome changes to leveling speed in the form of...well, more speed period:
- Travel form is now trainable at level 16.
- Flight form is now trainable at level 60 with its base flight speed increased to 150%.
- Swift flight form remains trainable at level 71 but available at level 70 through a quest chain (which I strongly advise all Druids to do). However, if you've also got a 310% speed mount, your epic flight form is now the same speed! This is great news if you've been lucky enough to obtain a 310% speed mount previously and had to choose between the beloved flight form or more speed for long-distance trips.
- And, in a really welcome change for all those of us who group with smug Paladins accustomed to outdistancing us, Crusader Aura now applies to both flight forms as well.
The change likely to have the biggest and most undesirable effect on Druid PvP is the removal of 2v2 as a means to a complete set of updated PvP gear and the Gladiator title. While the bite from this is less savage than it initially was, there's no way around the fact that 2v2 is far and away the best bracket for Druids and that Balance/Feral haven't made a substantial inroad into arena representation in any bracket. Lately Resto has been doing better than it historically has in 3v3 and and 5v5, but Resto's getting a pretty thorough going-over with the nerfbat.
Most of the changes made primarily affect Restoration PvP, and not in a good way. The Innervate change is designed to prevent Resto Druids from operating with a full mana bar even during short, bursty matches, but is also likely to negatively impact any Druid partners who are used to relying on Innervate in the same situations (e.g. Feral/healer comps, which were already rare to begin with). The Improved Barkskin change is equally aimed at mana efficiency, removing one of the best and most effective protections Restos had to keep Innervate from being dispelled. The Lifebloom nerf is also pretty clearly targeted at PvP. The sum total of these changes leaves Resto less mana efficient and more vulnerable to dispels designed to make them still less efficient.
Balance is still a distant second to Restoration as a viable arena spec; the best it managed in Season 6 was a 4% share of Druid players in 2v2 and a 4% share in 5v5 according to Arena Junkies records. It gets two nice PvP buffs in the form of the Balance of Power and Owlkin Frenzy changes. However, I don't think either will wind up having a hugely noticeable impact on Balance arena performance.
Feral is a still more-distant third in terms of arena representation, and the Cat nerfs won't do anything to help this.
New Talent Builds
For the most part, 3.2 is business as usual talent-wise. The one talent that's become significantly more compelling in the wake of 3.2 is Empowered Touch for Resto. Trees who do absolutely nothing but raid healing and make use of Revitalize probably won't bother with it, but especially for those tank, PvP, and 5-man healers who are already making use of Glyph of Nourish, the talent's very much worth your time now.
There's an interesting conversation between two new Tauren NPCs on Thunder Bluff's Elder Rise in 3.2 that may -- or may not -- point to some upcoming changes.
| WoW's Patch 3.2 ushers in the Crusaders' Coliseum, the Isle of Conquest, flying mounts at 60, and much more. WoW.com has all the patch information your Worgen obsessed mind can handle in WoW.com's Guide to Patch 3.2!