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Shifting Perspectives: Revisiting Cataclysm talents

Allison Robert

Every Tuesday week, Shifting Perspectives explores issues affecting feral/restoration druids and those who group with them. This week, Allie gulps Motrin and predicts your future.

Hey folks. I apologize for the lateness of the column this week. As an aside, those of you interested in old home renovation may want to rethink your purchase if: a). the home inspector crashes through the porch within 5 minutes of stepping onto the property, and: b). you have to extract a nail from an inconvenient portion of his anatomy before the inspection can continue. Just saying.

An official set of Cataclysm talents broke last week, which was highly irritating to all those of us who had spent hours scraping together a look at their (ahem) unofficial but still largely accurate counterparts back in mid-May. Today we're going to start off with the full set of official feral talent changes, and next week we'll cover restoration.

Before we get started, here are a few links to feral round-ups around the druid blogosphere (I apologize if I've missed anybody -- just send me an email and I'll make sure you're included): 1st tier

(MOVED AND RENAMED) Sharpened Claws: The current 3/3 third-tier talent increases your chance to crit by 2/4/6%. It's been moved to the first tier, converted to a 2/2 talent, and increases damage caused by Claw, Rake, Mangle (Bear), Mangle (Cat), and Maul by 10/20%, duplicating the current Savage Fury talent (currently a second-tier talent).

Which is a roundabout way of saying that Sharpened Claws is going bye-bye and Savage Fury's being moved to the first tier and given its name.

Ferocity: No change. Still a first tier talent reducing the cost of your Maul, Swipe, Claw, Rake, and Mangle (Bear)/Mangle (Cat) abilities by 5 rage or energy.

Feral Aggression
: No change.

Demoralizing Roar itself is going to change, however; all attack power reductions are going to be percentage-based in Cataclysm rather than the current "decreas(es) nearby enemies' melee attack power by 408" at max rank. As of early May, I was told that the default attack power reduction was 10%. Feral Aggression may also be of significantly more interest to cats with the new amazingly-named Nom Nom Nom talent (below), although I'm waiting to see exactly how good haste is in relation to energy regeneration before speculating on Ferocious Bite's frequency in the cat rotation.

2nd tier

(MOVED) Shredding Attacks
: Moved from the fourth to the second tier. Now reduces the energy cost of Shred by 5/10 rather than 9/18, but the Lacerate component (reducing rage cost by 1/2) is unchanged.

Shred isn't actually getting more expensive, however; the base energy cost will be 50, with Shredding Attacks dropping it to 40. For comparison, the base energy cost right now is 60, with Shredding Attacks dropping it to 42.

Feral Instinct
: No change. Still a second tier talent improving Swipe damage (cat and bear) by 10/20/30% and reducing the chance enemies have to detect you while Prowling. It's likely to remain a key bear talent while being an optional pick for cats interested in a more AoE-centric build.

Thick Hide: No change. Still a second tier talent improving the armor contribution from cloth and leather items by 4/7/10%.

3rd tier

Feral Swiftness
: No change. Still a third tier talent increasing movement speed by 30% in cat form and the bear's chance to dodge by 2/4%.

(MOVED AND CHANGED) Predatory Instincts
: PI has moved from an eighth tier to a third tier talent and still grants 3/7/10% additional damage to melee critical strikes. The portion granting 10/20/30% reduced damage from AoE has been removed.

I'm a little surprised that it's this far down in the tree, which makes it an early and fairly unhelpful feral talent for players who really won't be rocking much crit for a good chunk of the leveling experience. The loss of protection against AoE damage may hurt cats in raids depending on the kind of encounters we see. We'll see what happens; the talent seems like it's under-budget at the moment.

(MOVED) Feral Charge
: Moved from the fifth tier to the third tier but otherwise unchanged.

Of great interest here is Feral Charge's return to its status as an 11-point talent, which makes it relatively easy to pick up in any PvP build. My guess would be that, with the loss of a constant Tree of Life form and the corresponding armor from Improved Tree of Life, resto PvP might see a return to the mobility of its BC playstyle, with the new Tree of Life cooldown as an "Oh S&%t" button when your other options fail.

(NEW) Improved Feral Charge: Increases the damage done by your next three attacks by 5/10% in Bear Form after you use Feral Charge (Bear), and Ravage will temporarily not require stealth for 6 seconds after you use Feral Charge (Cat).

After seeing this for the first time, my initial thoughts were: a). great for a threat boost after Charging a trash pack as a bear, and: b). Possibly a means of using Ravage as an opener for raiding cats. But the more I think about it, the more I'm unsure that the former is really accurate. Blizzard's been open about its desire to end the AOE approach to heroics, which they intend to discourage mostly through unhealable tank damage rather than insufficient aggro generation (which was a significant deterrent to AoE tanking for bears and warriors in Burning Crusade).

Charging a trash pack and trying to build threat on everything was definitely not how I pulled back in the BC days. Not only would I have been annihilated, but it was also a clumsy way to handle any pull when your DPS was CCing a few of the mobs.

4th tier

(MOVED) Nurturing Instinct
: Moved from a fifth to a fourth tier talent, but otherwise no change. I'm a little curious as to whether this becomes a more attractive PvE talent for cats given the loss of protection against AOE attacks from Predatory Instincts.

(NEW) Fury Swipes: When you auto-attack while in cat or bear form, you have a 4/8/12% chance to gain an additional attack on the same target. This effect cannot occur more than once every six seconds.

Cats: White damage doesn't figure prominently in cat DPS until high gear levels; the cat has the fastest base swing timer in the game, and if we did hit hard on each, a ridiculous amount of our early damage would simply be auto-attacks (a situation that Blizzard is in fact trying to reduce on rogues). But a well-geared cat's white damage winds up being pretty potent, to the point where the Herkumi War Token is considered best-in-slot for a cat in ilevel 264+ gear (the other being heroic Deathbringer's Will, natch).

Bears: Protection paladins actually have a somewhat similar talent called Reckoning, and our paladin colleagues will tell you that an extra attack hasn't always been a good thing. Back in BC, the hopelessness of getting expertise on tankadin gear meant that Reckoning was routinely left out of raiding protection builds. Why? Because bosses with enormous melee damage could destroy a tank with back-to-back parries. That was actually one of the ways we lost our own tankadin on Kalecgos several times when we first stepped into Sunwell; Reckoning would proc, he'd get parried on two or more subsequent attacks, and -- hey presto -- dead tank.

However, the parry-haste mechanic's been phased out so much I'd be surprised to see it play any significant role in Cataclysm, and with Maul spam being yanked out of the bear "rotation" and converted into an instant yellow attack (i.e. bears are getting their white hits back), I'm curious to see how this works out. Truthfully, I'm a little more interested in it as a rage generation than threat tool.

Primal Fury: No change.

(REMOVED) Primal Precision: When we last saw this, it was only the energy refund portion of the talent that had been removed, but the updated talent tree's done away with it altogether.

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