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Shifting Perspectives: Revisiting Cataclysm talents, part 2

Allison Robert

5th tier

(CHANGED) Brutal Impact
: The cat version (increasing the stun duration of Pounce/Bash by 0.5/1 second) is unchanged, but the cooldown improvement to Bash (reducing it by 15/30 seconds) has now been dropped to a 5/10 second improvement. Huh? I suspect Bash's base cooldown has been dropped too, because otherwise the change doesn't make any sense. Spending 2 points to get Bash as a 50-second cooldown would be a pretty raw deal for the tank who's not particularly well-off trying to control casters and their damage.

(MOVED) Heart of the Wild
: Moved from a 6th to 5th tier talent but otherwise unchanged.

(MOVED) Survival Instincts
: Moved from a 3rd to 5th tier talent but otherwise unchanged.

(MOVED AND CHANGED) Predatory Strikes
: Moved from the 4th to the 5th tier and redesigned. The new version increases the critical strike chance of Ravage by 25/50% at or above 90% health (your own or the enemy's? I'm not sure) in addition to the current instant-cast Nature spell for combo points deal. The attack power bonus is gone, and the talent's also been unyoked from Heart of the Wild.

With the current change, there's no benefit anymore to having the talent in bear form, and as much as I'd like to take it for fun -- I enjoyed having the cat's instant heals even while grinding on a bear build -- I just can't get a tanking build to work with it right now. Future talent overhauls might make that possible (it is beta, after all) but I'm not optimistic that that'll happen. The trend that started after BC with the feral tree being steadily divided into cat-only and bear-only talents seems to be increasing.

6th tier

Natural Reaction
: No change.

(NEW) Endless Carnage: Increases the duration of your Rake by 3/6 seconds and your Savage Roar and Pulverize by 3/6 seconds.

This is a pretty big deal for cats, as anything that increases bleed/buff durations tends to be. Blizzard's indicated its desire to make the cat rotation a bit more forgiving in Cataclysm, and Rake's big drawback as a bleed has always been a relatively short duration. It's one of the reasons that two-piece tier 8 and two-piece tier 9 for cats is so strong. I'll admit I'm not entirely certain what they mean by the extension of the Pulverize buff (see below; it's a new 10th tier talent) -- do they mean the bonus to critical strike chance for 10 seconds?

Otherwise, I don't know what bear threat is going to look like with the addition of Vengeance, so your guess is as good as mine as to whether Endless Carnage might be worth taking for the tank contingent. I did hear that bear threat was basically gutted when the alpha went up because all of the stat changes had already been made to gear, and bears -- oops -- still weren't getting any attack power from agility. Hopefully that bug gets fixed soon.

(CHANGED) Survival of the Fittest
: The portion increasing all your attributes by 2/4/6% has now gone to that big talent tree in the sky. SotF is otherwise unchanged.

7th tier

(MOVED AND CHANGED) King of the Jungle
: KotJ has been moved from a 9th to 7th tier talent, and the portion reducing the cost of bear and cat form by 20/40/60% has been removed. It's otherwise unchanged. I'm a little surprised at that, but I'm wondering if Blizzard's just reluctant to give the cat a ton of new situational abilities and a new interrupt and cheap shifting. The intent seems to be keeping the player in cat form more.

Leader of the Pack: No change.

Improved Leader of the Pack
: No change. Still, in my humble opinion, the best talent in the tree.

(CHANGED) Primal Tenacity
: The reduction to fear effects is still there, but the protection against damage while stunned has been reduced from 10/20/30% to 5/10/15%. With health pools said to be so much bigger in the next expansion, the present talent may have been a little overkill.

8th tier

Protector of the Pack
: No change.

(CHANGED) Infected Wounds: IW's been altered from a 3-point to a 2-point talent (score!) and Ravage added to the list of abilities applying the debuff. They're really pushing Ravage, aren't they? It feels like it's turning into the Nourish of Wrath. Otherwise, no change.

9th tier

(NEW) Primal Madness
: Tiger's Fury and Berserk also increase your maximum energy by 6/12 for their duration, and your Enrage and Berserk abilities instantly generate 0/12 rage.

The cat portion of this temporarily mimics a talent granted to assassination rogues called Vigor that permanently increases the rogue's energy by 10. So far, response to this has been pretty mixed, and I'm equally ambivalent myself; Yawning on the druid boards wrote that the talent will wind up being either "totally worthless or totally mandatory," and I think that's probably accurate. We just don't know how much haste is going to contribute to energy regeneration, and as Alaron pointed out, you shouldn't be anywhere near the energy cap with TF or Berserk up anyway. We'll see.

Mangle: No change.

Improved Mangle: No change (more's the pity).

10th tier

(NEW) Nom Nom Nom
: When you Ferocious Bite a target at or below 25% health, you have a 50/100% chance to instantly refresh the duration of Rip on your target. We talked about this on our previous look at Cataclysm talents, and nothing's changed since then. As our commenter Carrie wrote on our first look at Cataclysm talents, "If Blizzard keeps Nom Nom Nom as the talent name I will give them like, all of my moneys. Like all of it." I concur ... although we know it'll never happen.

Rend and Tear: No change. This worries me a bit for bears; Maul is almost certainly going to be a much, much smaller portion of our rotation in Cataclysm, so we'll be spending 5 points to get a damage boost to a skill that we may not be able to afford that much.

(NEW) Pulverize: Requires Dire Bear Form. Deals 100% weapon damage plus additional 786 damage for each of your Lacerate applications on the target, and increases your melee critical strike chance by 2% for each Lacerate application consumed for 10 seconds.

The wording has been changed a bit from when we first saw it. I'm still not completely clear on what it does, but I think it costs you one Lacerate on your target in return for the instant damage and the 10-second (16 seconds with Endless Carnage) critical strike boost. There's no cooldown and it's an instant attack, but it'll also run you 20 rage each time, so this really isn't a spammable deal unless you're in a high-rage scenario. With a full rage bar and a full stack of 5 Lacerates, you could theoretically spam Pulverize, obliterate your stack (and your rage bar in the process), and get a huge threat boost in return.

11th tier

Berserk: No change, although I'd still kill to see this do something to the bear/cat models a lá Bestial Wrath. What is that little green circle? That's just sad.

Every week, Shifting Perspectives treks across Azeroth in pursuit of truth, beauty and insight concerning the druid class. Sometimes it finds the latter, or something good enough for government work. Whether you're a bear, cat, moonkin, tree or stuck in caster form, we've got the skinny on druid changes in patch 3.3, a look at the disappearance of the bear tank, and thoughts on why you should be playing the class (or why not).

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