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More Cataclysm change details for druids

Allison Robert

Fear not, my fellow druids; your feral analysis post is going live later tonight, and resto sometime tomorrow. Daniel Whitcomb and I have been talking about the incoming changes to the spec, and particularly the decision to change the tree of life from a constant form into a cooldown. I honestly didn't know how to feel about it at first. But before we get to that, Ghostcrawler stayed up hellaciously late last night to answer questions from druid players about the Cataclysm changes currently planned, and we've collected all of them here for you.

Druid HoTs and DoTs
No DoTs benefiting from haste and crit?

Most hots and dots, including druid ones, will benefit from haste and crit. The exceptions are things like Deep Wounds and Ignite, which are already tied to crit.

Ghostcrawler Q&A on the Tree of Life change
We knew changing Tree of Life to a cooldown was going to be controversial. There was just no way a change this big would be unanimously accepted. My apologies if being a tree was what really drew you to the class.

We didn't add new rotational spells to Restoration or Feral cat because, good lord, you have enough buttons already. We tried hard with Cataclysm to not add new spells just because. The specs that got new spells were ones we think had big holes in their rotation. You'll still get new talents and mechanics so I expect there will be a lot to learn when the big game-changing patch rolls around.

In short, are we trading the current Tree bonuses for a throughput cooldown, or are we gaining a throughput cooldown? Gaining one is fine--for all that the preview listed "no new spells," you guys are clearly on top of that (regrowth crit to an AoE heal and a throughput cooldown, at least). Trading bonuses for a throughput cooldown, however, is simply at odds with HoT healing, which is all about consistency.

This is what we're trying to do. On live today, druids are balanced around healing in tree form, meaning they give up a lot of utility just to be as good as other healers. When Tree of Life is a cooldown, then you'll be balanced healing in night elf, troll, worgen or tauren form, and then you'll be more powerful when in tree form. The nice thing about cooldowns is the difference can be pretty significant while active.

(Concerning popularity of the change to Tree of Life) There is a large difference between "controversial" and being close to unanimously hated.

You don't have any evidence of that though. Even within this thread, there are plenty of players who like the change. It's not like we design around public vote anyway, but if you look at the old "Is Tree form fun?" thread, there were a lot of players on both sides of the argument. It was a change we wanted to do anyway, but we tested the water to see if the change would be unanimously hated. We concluded there were plenty of players in favor of it. I don't know if the split was 50 / 50 or what, but it doesn't really matter because it wasn't a poll. It was just to take the community's temperature.

I'm not saying you don't have a right to feel passionately about any of this. It's fine, understandable even, if you do. I'm just asking you not to assume that everyone must naturally feel the same way you do.

We might (*might*) consider a minor glyph that kept the visual of the old tree form in some fashion even when not using the Tree of Life cooldown.

GC, please just shoot us straight here. Many of us are adults, and we can accept it if the change is PVP-related as is being speculated on the boards... but your stated rationale in making this change currently counters everything you've previously posted about making gameplay about more interesting choices.

It's not for PvP reasons. We just don't think healing forms are a good idea.

Now if you want to talk about PvP, I'd agree that going tree was an interesting decision back when it came with huge penalties (like movement). That wasn't very fun to actually play in though so we kept chipping away at the differences between being in tree form and not being in tree form until we were left to wonder what the point was. We asked players on these boards and elsewhere how attached they were to the form, and found some loved it, some hated it, and some were indifferent.

I don't fault you at all if you loved the form though and I'm sorry if this makes playing a druid less fun for you.

In response to a repost of Ghostcrawler's class Q & A on the druid

I'm not sure why this keeps getting brought up as some kind of logical inconsistency that is supposed to mean we aren't allowed to change our minds.

Plus, if you really read the quote, I'm talking about two things:

1) Hey, maybe staying in a single form all the time isn't really that good for the class.

2) Druids use three different resources: mana, energy and rage depending on what form they're in.

Part of our logic here is that tree form doesn't actually do enough. It doesn't change your resource system. It doesn't give you new tree-only abilities. It can't let you be a better healer than the priests, paladins or shaman, and we keep adding things to the list of what druids can do as a tree because it's not fun to be so limited. We started asking ourselves what we were really gaining.

The same can be said about moonkins, yet this isn't happening, why? it appears a double standard

I've said this before, but we don't think giving up everything (hyperbole, but you get the idea) to go into a dps form is that big a sacrifice, because you're being compared to and presumably want to fill the role of classes and specs that do nothing but dps. It's not a big deal for a druid to give up healing to dps like a mage, because the mage can't heal.

But giving up abilities to heal is tough when priests, paladins and shaman don't have to. If this was a single player game, we'd probably do something like say druids have to fully commit themselves to healing, but if they do, they'll be 10% better at healing than any other class. In an MMO, it doesn't feel fair to do that. So instead you make sacrifices just so you can heal as well as everyone else. But that ends up feeling unfair, so we give you most of the abilities you'd typically ever want to cast, and pretty soon the Tree of Life talent is just changing your visual. If it was super compelling gameplay, we'd probably be talking instead about ways to keep it.

So you're making ToL a CD but what are you going to do about the fact that ToL gives us buffs and gives us a SP bonus that brings our SP equal to other healing classes. Without that buff our spell power is below all other casters are you planning on either raising the amount of sp granted by gear or giving us a talent that gives us that buff

We can put those buffs anywhere in the tree or remove them and just balance around it. Virtually every number in Cataclysm has to change anyway to support new character levels, health pools, combat ratings, going to a single spell rank, etc. There's no reason to worry about how this would affect your relative power in today's live build. At this stage I would focus on mechanics or design intent, not actual numbers. The numbers will start to be more important as we get closer to ship.

As I've said not ten minutes ago, constant polymorph immunity, 200% armor bonus, 15% bonus SP from spirit and 10% extra healing is kind of a big deal. Putting that on a CD is going to make an impact on Druid healing

None of those things need to be tied to the Tree of Life form though, and in fact they are all examples of the kind of passive bonuses we're trying to winnow out from talent trees.

Are the Tree (on CD) and Moonkin forms being updated? I don't need details, I just would like to know if I can expect to see the same Owl form I have now in the next expac or if we finally will get more polygons at least

We would like to. Those are on the list, but they're expensive tasks because they require so much art time. You might be willing to have one fewer new boss models in order to get the forms updated, but if we did that and we added a new demon for warlocks and a couple of new models for other class needs here and there and pretty soon all of those bosses are going to end up looking pretty recycled. :(

It will stay on the list though. If we don't get to it for 4.0, there's always 4.1.

My post also addresses your counterpoint. Remove the poly immunity, shift the these-effects-are-only-to-bring-you-up-to-par-with-other-healers off the talent, and reduce the offensive restriction (to, for example, no offensive arcane spells). All of the mechanics reasons are thus addressed. A healing aura (which wouldn't stack, and therefore isn't 100% required) and additional armor (not always useful in PvE, and a tradeoff in PvP) remain, as well as the flavor of each druid role having its own form. The only remaining reason to remove it? Showing off gear

But under your argument, the only reason to keep it is flavor. You have a talent that essentially says "gives the druid flavor" because all of the actual bonuses are baked in elsewhere. That's our actual concern about the talent: increasingly it doesn't do anything except change your art.

Well, the bartender's saying something about last call, so I'm going to have to duck out. My intent was not to ignore the Ferals or Balance druids out there, or all the other classes with previews who probably resent my spending so much time on the Tree of Life issue, but we knew it would be controversial and I wanted players to know we were listening to them. Perhaps we should have announced it earlier like we did with the DK tanking post, though to be fair, we've hinted at this change coming since Blizzcon.

Rogue/cat UI additions
Are cats receiving a similar change for Savage Roar and their UI, or is this going to be completely rogue specific?

It will most likely apply to cats as well.

Improving early druid gameplay
Has there been any consideration on giving druids cat form at an earlier level? Similar to how hunters will start with a pet at level 1, and shamans getting a melee attack at 3. Also hoping paladins get an extra button to push at earlier levels, as well.

It won't be super low level, but we might switch the levels at which you get cat and bear.

Feral mastery bonuses
Does this mean that druids can no longer have a hybrid Cat / Bear spec and would need to spec specifically? Or would said bonuses only apply depending on what form your in at the time?

It applies to the form you are in at the time.

so when a warrior puts 40 points in arms he gets 40 points worth of melee damage and armor pen and since its the most points in the three trees he gets the mastery. the remaining points in fury gets him 31 points worth of melee damage and melee haste but he doesnt get the mastery. even if its 51 and 20 you still get something. looks like you dont have to put all points in one tree b/c the other trees give you bonus's right?

so when a cat druid puts 52 points in feral tree he gets 52 points of melee damage and melee critical strike damage and since its the most he gets the mastery. The other in resto tree, b/c currently there is 19 points worth of useful feral stuff in the resto tree, he gets 19 points worth of improved healing and mana regen. Is that right? sounds good for pvp but crapy for pve

Hibernicus, in your warrior example, he only gets the three bonuses for the points spent in Arms. The only thing he gets from Fury are those, presumably juicy or he wouldn't have gone there, talents.

In your druid example, that's a Feral druid (because he spent the most points in Feral) and he doesn't get any Resto bonuses. He may get OOC though, which aint bad.

Diversifying restoration spell use
We think there will be more reason to cast Healing Touch (perhaps with some number tweaks) for when you need to heal someone who has a real health deficit.

Druids don't have perfect analogs to the priest heals, but you can imagine Regrowth as the Flash Heal, Nourish as the heal, and Healing Touch as the greater heal. Lifebloom is something you'd put on a tank before healing with Nourish or Healing Touch (which might even refresh the stack). Rejuv will still be good for the reason hots are good. Wild Growth is still a group heal. Tranquility is an emergency heal, and we'll change it to act more like Divine Hymn.

Eclipse UI addition
How will the Eclipse Bar factor in how much it shifts?

Damage Done?
Cast Times?
Cast Completions?
Mana Costs?

We're going to try a few different things and see what feels the best. Spells cast is the simplest system, but we also get a little more dynamic system if it was damage done or even if just crits moved the meter more. We still don't want a rotation that is just 1111222211112222.

Simplifying cat DPS
Hey GC can you expand on what Bashiok mentioned about changing the feral cat damage rotation to be slightly more forgiving? He gave a few examples but I am still curious about it.

The recent Mangle change is a good example. Other candidates include letting Rake last longer, changing Mangle's damage such that it's not such a gigantic dps loss not to Shred, and / or changing the bonus of Savage Roar so that it's not such a crippling dps loss if it falls off. Using Savage Roar after a target with cps on it has died will help too.

We still want the John Madden crowd to be able to try and maximize their dps. We just want players not playing at that level to not be so far behind (though behind is fine).

Restoration getting "no significant changes"
Other from the universal healing changes Resto Druids have absolutely NOTHING to relearn or spend time to master unlike the other healing class notes released.

Let me know how that Rejuv spamming with WG on cooldown works out for you at 85.

You really want us to be excited that we get to cast something we already have? While we watch everyone else get new and shiny toys? Really? Do you just rewrap your children's xmas presents year after year and expect them to be excited they go the same thing as last year?

You'd just be here in a few months posting "What's the point of Mega Moss? It's too similar to Regrowth and doesn't heal as much as Nourish." By which I mean there's not point giving a new heal to Resto just so your bar looks a little different if you're not going to actually use the spell. Seeing as how many druids don't use much beyond Rejuv and WG today, I'd say we have plenty of heals to find homes for before we worry about adding new ones.

There will be several new talents to consider. The Resto tree still has a lot of passive bonuses in it to be replaced.

If Mega Moss wasn't a watered down version of a current spell - we wouldn't complain about it. The reason we didn't like Nourish is because we already had 2 direct healing spells. Why is it hard to do away with something we don't use that much and give us something new to look forward to?

My fear is the universal answer to a new druid healing spell will be "the reason we didn't like X is because we already had Y."

I'm sorry but have you ever healed as a druid in high-end raids? I regularly use 6 spells: Regrowth, Rejuv, Nourish, Wild Growth, Lifebloom, and Swiftmend; very few fights go by where I don't use all 6. People who do what you described are pretty universally considered bad druids who just try and pad the meters. Changing the way druids and healers in general play based around bad healers is bad design; those bad players will always attempt to do exactly that.

That's not to mention Nature's Swiftness, Nature's Grasp, Barkskin, War Stomp (if adds are out of control), and Faerie Fire if no other druids are available

I just pulled a couple of heroic Icecrown parses at random from among the best guilds out there. Their druids had like 60% Rejuv and 25% Wildgrowth. I'm sure some of that remainder was LB or Swiftmend or something (like a certain hammer or mace), and maybe they even saved someone's life with one of those spells. But you're going to have a hard time convincing me that druids aren't too effective with just those two spells. That will change in Cataclysm.

Eclipse mastery
Our deep Mastery bonus for Balance is Eclipse. What exactly will the bonus be? What if we shape-shift or stop casting for awhile- does the Eclipse bonus decay or disappear?

The bonus will be increased damage to Nature spells or to Arcane spells. We're not sure of the magnitude yet, but it will need to be hefty enough for you to actually want to switch.

It will need some kind of decay -- we don't want you farming naga or whatever before you step into the raid with a full meter -- but it shouldn't decay fast enough that you find normal encounter movement very troubling (for that reason anyway).

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm will destroy Azeroth as we know it. Nothing will be the same. In's Guide to Cataclysm you can find out everything you need to know about WoW's third expansion. From Goblins and Worgens to Mastery and Guild changes, it's all there for your cataclysmic enjoyment.

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