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Cataclysm Beta: Balance druid changes

Tyler Caraway

Blizzard snuck in another beta build last night, and it was more than a little exciting for the balance druid side of the world. Although I wouldn't say that druids or balance in particular were the "primary" focus of this build, as paladins have been in the past few builds while Blizzard fixes the new holy power mechanic, it certainly held quite a number of changes that we've been looking forward to for a long time. I've dawdled on long enough, though, so let's just get right on with it.

Spell changes

  • Faerie Fire range increased to 35 yards, up from 30 yards
  • Insect Swarm range increased to 40 yards, up from 35 yards
  • Starfire range increased to 40 yards, up from 35 yards
  • Entangling Roots range increased to 35 yards, up from 30 yards
  • Moonfire range increased to 40 yards, up from 35 yards
  • Wrath range increased to 40 yards, up from 35 yards
  • Cyclone cast time increased to 2 seconds, up from 1.5 seconds
  • Thorns now lasts 20 seconds, down from 10 minutes; damage increased by 1,400%
  • Wild Mushroom is now limited to 3 mushrooms, down from 5

The range increases are all standard for every class and is merely the same effect as the old Nature's Reach talent. Although it can be easy to get excited over the increase in Cyclone's cast time, but before you go running to the forums, know that this is a game-wide change to all similar CC effects such as Polymorph and Fear. The Thorn change is certainly interesting, but it's a little bit "ehhh" at the moment. Not mentioned in the patch notes is that Thorns also has a 45-second cooldown, which is understandable given the intent of this change, but the damage is only around 500 after spellpower and it costs around 2,500 mana -- by comparison, Starfire costs 1,500 mana. It should also be noted that Starsurge's range was not increased to that of our other spells, which makes it very wonky to use in many situations; whether or not this is a bug has yet to be verified.

Talent/miscellaneous changes

  • Moonkin Form now increases Nature and Arcane damage by 10%.
  • Starlight Wrath now reduces the cast time of Wrath and Starfire by 0.15/0.25/0.5 seconds.
  • Heart of the Wild and Furor have switched places.
  • Moonfury, the balance specialization bonus, now also increases the critical strike damage bonus of spells by 200%.
The change to Moonkin Form is a nice one, as it actually gives us a solid reason to use the ability outside of the armor increase for PvP. Although the flat damage increase seems flat, it really isn't that surprising of a change, given that it is unlikely Blizzard would be able to make significant changes to spell mechanics at this stage. Not saying that it isn't possible for that to happen, as it certainly is, but creating an entirely new system such as that which people have been asking for would taken loads of development time simply to produce the same effect as what we've been given now. Balance may need new and interesting mechanics -- I wouldn't argue that -- but baking them into Moonkin Form really isn't the answer. Even though the Furor and Heart of the Wild change is a feral/restoration issue, it does change how we spend our talent points, given that we must take Furor. Leveling ferals may appreciate this change, but it significantly limits the flexibility of balance druid's talent choices.
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 brand new races to revamped quests and zones. Visit our Cataclysm news category for the most recent posts having to do with the Cataclysm expansion.

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