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Analysis of Druid changes in 3.1

Eliah Hecht

Earlier today, Eyonix released some details on some changes that we can expect in patch 3.1. They're not exactly earth-shattering like some classes' changes, but there is still some interesting stuff in there. Let's get down to analysis.

Savage Defense – this is a new passive ability. When a druid in Dire Bear form deals a melee critical strike, the druid gains a damage shield equal to 25% of their attack power. The next hit completely removes the shield regardless of how much damage was done.

Survival of the Fittest has had its bonus armor reduced to compensate for the above increase in damage mitigation.

I'm going to take these two points together, because they're inseparable. Savage Defense is interesting, and you certainly can't call it a direct copy of some other class's ability (an issue that's plagued us in the past).

Let's look at the numbers involved, since it's hard to make sense of the ability straight off the bat (at least for me). In Dire Bear form with my heroic and crafted blues and epics, self-buffed, I have right around 4,000 AP. So when I crit with a melee ability (I have a 27% crit chance), I get a shield that absorbs up to 1,000 damage from the next hit.

If I'm using a melee skill every GCD (which I am, more or less), as well as auto-attacking every 2.5 seconds, I should get (on average, with my crit rate), roughly 17 shields per minute, absorbing up to 17,000 damage in that minute. I'll get a lot more shields if I'm swiping multiple targets.

That's quite a respectable amount, although remember that each shield is removed after one hit regardless of how much the hit is for. Also note that armor from SotF is getting nerfed, which will mean our overall mitigation will probably stay roughly the same (maybe more on magic because the shields presumably work on magic too, whereas armor does not).

A few clever commenters in the post breaking the 3.1 changes pointed out that this is a lot like giving Druids a shield, such as Warriors and Paladins have. Every so often we simply take less damage from an incoming attack. Possibly more importantly, it causes our mitigation to scale at least somewhat from crit and AP, stats that bears currently aren't paying a lot of attention to but that Blizz wants to be able to put on leather for Rogues and cats.

Faerie Fire (and similar debuffs) now reduces armor by 5%. See Sunder Armor in the warrior update below for additional details.

The additional details are as follows: "Creature armor has been globally reduced so that debuffed targets should take about the same damage from physical attacks that they did before this change. The net effect should be that this debuff is slightly less mandatory in PvE and is not disproportionately more powerful against cloth targets in PvP." I don't think we'll see a huge change here.

Thorns and Nature's Grasp can be cast in Tree of Life form.

Really? You couldn't cast Thorns as a tree before?

Survival Instincts now works in Moonkin form.

So Moonkin who choose to got 11 into Feral, presumably for PvP purposes, can now get their Owl Last Stand too. Seems fair enough, although I suspect it's still not going to be a very popular talent choice.

Replenish – to avoid confusion, this talent has been renamed "Revitalize." It now also works with Wild Growth.

This looks like a nice buff to a previously somewhat lackluster talent. Resto druids do still seem to be using Wild Growth all the time, and despite the fact that like every other healer they don't seem to be having mana problems right now, more mana never hurt anyone. Update: It has been pointed out to me that I misread this talent somewhat. Extra mana/rage/energy/runic power for everyone WG hits? Very tasty indeed. [thanks, Venerus]

We are also looking at increasing the sustained (not burst) damage of feral druids in cat form.

I read this as "more damage on bosses." Sweet. If I was Blizz, I'd probably do this by making Rake last longer, and possibly giving us some way to scale (better) from Haste.

Patch 3.1 brings us Ulduar, dual specs, significant changes to all the classes, and more! We've got you covered from top to bottom with our Guide to Patch 3.1.

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