Oh, patch 4.3. I didn't know what to expect from you after so many bad, ugly, or just plain bizarre PUGs on the public test realm, but you turned out to be pretty cool. I don't have to wear ugly gear anymore, the Dragon Soul raid is live, Vengeance blows up like a grade school volcano science experiment, and Deathwing no longer roasts all my archaeology dig sites with the sadistic glee of an NPC who knows that I will never get the Crawling Claw if I am dead.
On the downside, I have to deal with Echo of Tyrande trash ("Hey, where'd the healer go?"), and Thrall still does not seem to have realized that the rest of the world moved on to epic mounts several years ago.
You win some, you lose some.
We started the expansion desperate to get our hands on some purples, and now they're only slightly less common than cults at an airport.
You need an average item level of 372 in order to qualify for the Raid Finder, but take heart: Any tank or healer willing to spend some time in the new 5-mans should reach that threshold fairly quickly. While an involved discussion of the new ilevel 384+ gear merits its own article, these are the pieces you might want to search for in order to meet the minimum acceptable standard for the Raid Finder.
For bear druids:
- Helm Helm of Thorns (Mannoroth in Well of Eternity). Not well-itemized for bears, but it'll work.
- Neck While there are no necklace drops in the 5-mans or their associated quests, the justice points you're getting from heroics can be used for Necklace of Smoke Signals (1,250 justice points at the Stormwind/Orgrimmar quartermasters).
- Shoulders Desecrated Shoulderguards (Archbishop Benedictus in Hour of Twilight)
- Cloak Cloak of the Banshee Queen (Echo of Sylvanas in End Time)
- Chest Time Twisted Tunic (Murozond in End Time)
- Bracers 1,250 justice points for the Flamebinder Bracers
- Gloves Gloves of the Hollow (Echo bosses in End Time); the leatherworking Clutches of Evil will also be a bit cheaper these days.
- Belt Peroth'arn's Belt (Peroth'arn in Well of Eternity)
- Legs Puppeteer's Pantaloons (Azshara in Well of Eternity)
- Boots Wayfinder Boots (Arcurion in Hour of Twilight)
- Rings Alurmi's Ring (quest reward from Documenting the Timeways in Well of Eternity) and Mannoroth's Signet (Mannoroth in Well of Eternity), or 1,250 justice points for the Splintered Brimstone Seal
- Trinkets Arrow of Time (Murozond in End Time) and Veil of Lies (Archbishop Benedictus in Hour of Twilight)
- Weapons Thornwood Staff (Mannoroth in Well of Eternity)
- Relics Same deal as with necklaces: Save 700 justice points toward the purchase of Covenant of the Flame
And for restoration druids:
- Helm Timeway Headgear (Murozond in End Time)
- Neck As with bears, you won't see a necklace drop in the new 5-mans or their associated quests; 1,250 justice points will nab you the Firemind Pendant, however.
- Shoulders Spaulders of Eternity (Mannoroth in Well of Eternity)
- Cloak Cloak of Subtle Light (Asira Dawnslayer in Hour of Twilight)
- Chest Chronicler's Chestguard (quest reward from Documenting the Timeways in Well of Eternity)
- Bracers While you can use the Evergreen Wristbands (Arcurion in Hour of Twilight), the Smolderskull Bindings for 1,250 justice points have spirit.
- Gloves This is a problem slot at the moment. The BoE Waterworn Handguards are a trash drop in Well of Eternity. If they don't drop for you or show up on the Auction House, you may want to fall back on the leatherworking piece Heavenly Gloves of the Moon.
- Belt Cord of Lost Hope (Echo bosses in End Time)
- Legs Leggings of Blinding Speed (Asira Dawnslayer in Hour of Twilight)
- Boots Boots of the Forked Road (the quest Murozond in End Time)
- Rings Horned Band (Peroth'arn in Well of Eternity) and Signet of the Twilight Prophet (quest reward from The Twilight Prophet in Hour of Twilight), or 1,250 justice points for the Soothing Brimstone Circle
- Trinkets Foul Gift of the Demon Lord (Mannoroth in Well of Eternity) (expect to roll against your caster DPS)
- Weapons Jaina's Staff (Echo of Jaina in End Time), Scepter of Azshara (Azshara in Well of Eternity), and Stalk of Corruption (Archbishop Benedictus in Hour of Twilight). While the +hit on it doesn't make it ideal, in a pinch you can use Fanged Tentacle (Archbishop Benedictus). If you go for a two-hander, the Stalk is itemized much better than Jaina's Staff.
- Off-hands Demonic Skull (quest reward from The Path to the Dragon Soul in Well of Eternity)
- Relics 700 justice points for the Singed Plume of Aviana or a Soulflame Vial if you don't need the spirit
Worst: The Wild Growth nerf
Right now it's too early to evaluate the long-term effect of the Wild Growth nerf. We've had a week with Dragon Soul, and a lot of anecdotes are arriving from both the Raid Finder and established raids. So far, I've seen versions of the following responses:
- I'm closer to the other healers now but still topping the meters.
- I'm going to lose my raid slot.
- No big deal.
- I still have an advantage on mobility fights, but I'm losing pretty badly to everyone else when the raid's stacked.
- Nerf paladins.
In time, these will build and morph into the great mass of information known as legitimate data, and we'll have an idea of where druids stand -- but right now there's no way to know whether a given player's experience is actually representative of a wider trend. While watching parses trickle onto World of Logs, I'm still seeing a lot of druids topping meters, so I'm not sure I agree with the contingent claiming that the sky is falling.
To address a question that keeps popping up, yes: The Glyph of Wild Growth is still a throughput increase, albeit one with an extremely unpleasant penalty. If you're primarily a 5-man healer, you never needed the glyph anyway, but this is all the more reason to unglyph it. If you're primarily a raid healer, it's probably still worth your time.
As a timely reminder to everyone, don't forget that when you hear someone complaining about his class, you could be listening to a good player from a good raid, a good player from a bad raid, a bad player from a good raid, or a bad player from a bad raid. Each one of these people will see and experience content very differently.
Best: The quick Vengeance cap
Oh, trash -- I had no idea just how much absurd damage I could do on you. Every PUG is an exercise in hyena-laughing at the DPSers' desperate and ultimately futile attempts to catch up. While this was always kind of true on a high-damage bear tank, the degree of difference now is funny. Bizarrely, it's now the trash I look forward to most while tanking a dungeon.
Worst: Bad PUGs
I've had only two really bad PUGs on the live servers since patch 4.3 hit, but I'm still scratching my head over the hunter who thought Multi-Shotting into Hibernated Echo of Baine trash was a good idea. Twice.
Let me take you back for a moment to patch 3.3, which introduced the Dungeon Finder to WoW. At the time, we all thought of it as a nice tool for anyone who was sick of spamming trade chat in the endless hunt for a group, but not something that was going to be a wholesale replacement for running with your guildies.
Wrong. Well, mostly: The Dungeon Finder isn't a wholesale replacement for running with your guild, but it did fundamentally alter how the game was played. I think transmogrification may wind up having a similar underestimated impact. While it's nowhere near as important as the Dungeon Finder, it's helped rejuvenate old content (I wish I had a nickel for every old raid I saw being advertised in trade chat), and it's gotten players to quit obsessive theorycrafting (if only for a moment) in favor of asking, "Does it go with my helm?"
Worst: The lack of Call to Arms satchels
Due to the flood of players in the Dungeon Finder for the new 5-mans, Call to Arms went bye-bye for a few days. It's amazing how fast you come to regard what is essentially a nice perk as an intrinsic right.
Shifting Perspectives helps you gear your bear druid, breaks down the facts about haste for trees, and then digs into the restoration mastery. You might also enjoy our look at the disappearance of the bear.