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.
What are the current patch notes?
As always, the most recent version of the PTR patch notes can be found here on Blizzard's PTR page. The only recent change that's been omitted (I think) is that the most recent build includes the following change:
Gift of the Earthmother: Now also reduces the base cooldown on your Lifebloom spell by 2/4/6/8/10%.
More on this in just a bit (and yes, that's in addition to the existing GotE change that's a flat 2/4/6/8/10% improvement to spell +haste).
What the hell is going on with Rejuvenation?
(As an aside, I shouldn't have laughed at Nailer's take on this from the EJ forums, but I did: "Well, there is nothing left from Lifebloom to nerf, so we saw it coming.")
The max-rank Rejuvenation was first the target of a bug-fix, which was really a nerf, then it was un-nerfed, but it's kind of still nerfed because of the changes to Gift of the Earthmother...and..../scribbles and starts over again.
Right. In the first patch 3.3 PTR build, Blizzard had corrected a bug (that has apparently existed for the duration of Wrath) where rank 15 Rejuvenation was healing for a base 15 seconds instead of the normal 12. Problem is, that's partly what's powered Restoration's amazing raid-healing capacity, and players were not happy that the "bug fix" constituted a 20% nerf to the existing spell. Much wailing and gnashing of teeth and threats to defenestrate later, Blizzard changed the duration back to a base 15 seconds but is still tinkering with Gift of the Earthmother. Per Ghostcrawler, this has a lot less to do with Rejuvenation itself than it does to do with the cumulative effect of both the Rejuvenation nerf and the GotE changes being too harsh on Resto, and they didn't want that.
So the answer to "What the hell is going on with Rejuvenation?" is -- nothing, at least for the moment. It's the exact same "bugged" spell, healing for the same amount for the same duration for the same mana cost on both the live realms and the current PTR build. But this still leaves Rejuv in a place where the developers have acknowledged it's healing for too much and too long. Don't be surprised if we see a Rejuv nerf in either patch 4.0 (the Cataclysm content patch) or shortly after Cataclysm goes live.
OK, so what's up with Gift of the Earthmother?
Nerfsville, baby. Well, sort of. As Ghostcrawler observed, upcoming changes aren't really meant to be a nerf: "(They're) aimed at not making haste such a wonky stat for Resto." The deal with Gift of the Earthmother is that, as gear has improved over the duration of Wrath, +haste has become steadily less and less useful because we were already shaving 20% off the base GCD of three frequently-cast spells (Rejuvenation, Lifebloom, and Wild Growth). Gift of the Earthmother on the live realms is worth close to 1,000 +haste rating for these abilities. Because there's no way to get below a 1-second GCD, this meant that most of the +haste and/or +haste procs on trinkets and gear were largely wasted itemization on three very commonly-used spells in both PvE and PvP.
So what does the Gift of the Earthmother change do to our existing spells?
Dreambound Druid had a great article on precisely this right here that you should read, but as a means of shorthanding everything:
If it's not currently affected by GotE (e.g. Regrowth, Nourish), it's going to get faster.
If it is currently affected by GotE (e.g. LB, Rejuv, and WG), it's going to get slower (less so for Lifebloom). +Haste effects will, however, be significantly more useful for all three.
Regrowth is likely to be the big winner of the GotE changes. Although it's still unlikely to replace either Rejuvenation as a raid heal or Nourish as a spot heal, it'll be possible at existing levels of gear, talents, and a few raid buffs to get its cast time close to (and even less than) the base cast time for Nourish (i.e. 1.5 seconds). Nourish, in a very surprising development with absolutely no precedent whatsoever, gets a nice buff as well. I was ready to say that Rejuvenation was going to be the big loser even though we'll still be using it, but then there's this new glyph...
Glyph of Rapid Rejuvenation. 'Nuff said.
However, I can't be the only person who finds it funny that so many Restos will happily slot in a glyph that, despite its benefits, functionally accomplishes the exact same Rejuv duration penalty that people were so terrified of with the initial Rejuv "bug fix." Lissanna's done some testing if you want a look at how the glyph currently functions on the PTR.
Wait a minute. Isn't +haste an equally screwy stat for Balance?
Yes, which the developers aren't happy about. Any moonkin with halfway-decent gear is likely to be haste-capped for the Wrath portion of his/her rotation, which creates the exact same problem Restoration currently experiences with Gift of the Earthmother, except much, much worse. Being haste-capped on a spell that's essentially 40-ish% of a Balance player's normal rotation creates two issues: a). a UI issue, because you can't queue a spell while it's on the GCD, and b). a gear issue, because +haste is frickin' everywhere and most of it is completely wasted on one of Balance's two main nukes. In another touch of irony, Starfire (the other main nuke) does great with +haste, to the point where all the +haste on early Wrath gear was enormously prejudiced toward the use of a lunar rotation before the patch 3.2 Eclipse change.