Shifting Perspectives: The best and the worst of patch 4.3

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Shifting Perspectives for cat, bear, restoration and balance druids. This Tuesday, we chortle our way through 5-man trash.

Oh, patch 4.3. I didn't know what to expect from you after so many bad, ugly, or just plain bizarre PUGs on the public test realm, but you turned out to be pretty cool. I don't have to wear ugly gear anymore, the Dragon Soul raid is live, Vengeance blows up like a grade school volcano science experiment, and Deathwing no longer roasts all my archaeology dig sites with the sadistic glee of an NPC who knows that I will never get the Crawling Claw if I am dead.

On the downside, I have to deal with Echo of Tyrande trash ("Hey, where'd the healer go?"), and Thrall still does not seem to have realized that the rest of the world moved on to epic mounts several years ago.

You win some, you lose some.

Restoration druid healing during the Mannoroth encounter.

Best: The ease of gearing up

We started the expansion desperate to get our hands on some purples, and now they're only slightly less common than cults at an airport.

You need an average item level of 372 in order to qualify for the Raid Finder, but take heart: Any tank or healer willing to spend some time in the new 5-mans should reach that threshold fairly quickly. While an involved discussion of the new ilevel 384+ gear merits its own article, these are the pieces you might want to search for in order to meet the minimum acceptable standard for the Raid Finder.

For bear druids:

Don't forget that PvP gear is also pretty good for ferals, and the new Arena season 12 gear should be available today. The new leatherworking pieces Bladeshadow Leggings and Bladeshadow Wristguards are also available, but expect them to be enormously expensive due to the Essences of Destruction they require.

And for restoration druids:

As with bears, the new leatherworking pieces Leggings of Nature's Champion and Bracers of Flowing Serenity are available, but again, they're extremely expensive if you can find them at all.

Worst: The Wild Growth nerf

Right now it's too early to evaluate the long-term effect of the Wild Growth nerf. We've had a week with Dragon Soul, and a lot of anecdotes are arriving from both the Raid Finder and established raids. So far, I've seen versions of the following responses:

  • I'm closer to the other healers now but still topping the meters.

  • I'm going to lose my raid slot.

  • No big deal.

  • I still have an advantage on mobility fights, but I'm losing pretty badly to everyone else when the raid's stacked.

  • Nerf paladins.

(Actually, Holy Radiance may well be nerfed, as the paladins on the forums will tell you.)

In time, these will build and morph into the great mass of information known as legitimate data, and we'll have an idea of where druids stand -- but right now there's no way to know whether a given player's experience is actually representative of a wider trend. While watching parses trickle onto World of Logs, I'm still seeing a lot of druids topping meters, so I'm not sure I agree with the contingent claiming that the sky is falling.

To address a question that keeps popping up, yes: The Glyph of Wild Growth is still a throughput increase, albeit one with an extremely unpleasant penalty. If you're primarily a 5-man healer, you never needed the glyph anyway, but this is all the more reason to unglyph it. If you're primarily a raid healer, it's probably still worth your time.

As a timely reminder to everyone, don't forget that when you hear someone complaining about his class, you could be listening to a good player from a good raid, a good player from a bad raid, a bad player from a good raid, or a bad player from a bad raid. Each one of these people will see and experience content very differently.

Best: The quick Vengeance cap

Oh, trash -- I had no idea just how much absurd damage I could do on you. Every PUG is an exercise in hyena-laughing at the DPSers' desperate and ultimately futile attempts to catch up. While this was always kind of true on a high-damage bear tank, the degree of difference now is funny. Bizarrely, it's now the trash I look forward to most while tanking a dungeon.

Worst: Bad PUGs

I've had only two really bad PUGs on the live servers since patch 4.3 hit, but I'm still scratching my head over the hunter who thought Multi-Shotting into Hibernated Echo of Baine trash was a good idea. Twice.

Best: Transmogrification

Let me take you back for a moment to patch 3.3, which introduced the Dungeon Finder to WoW. At the time, we all thought of it as a nice tool for anyone who was sick of spamming trade chat in the endless hunt for a group, but not something that was going to be a wholesale replacement for running with your guildies.

Wrong. Well, mostly: The Dungeon Finder isn't a wholesale replacement for running with your guild, but it did fundamentally alter how the game was played. I think transmogrification may wind up having a similar underestimated impact. While it's nowhere near as important as the Dungeon Finder, it's helped rejuvenate old content (I wish I had a nickel for every old raid I saw being advertised in trade chat), and it's gotten players to quit obsessive theorycrafting (if only for a moment) in favor of asking, "Does it go with my helm?"

Worst: The lack of Call to Arms satchels

Due to the flood of players in the Dungeon Finder for the new 5-mans, Call to Arms went bye-bye for a few days. It's amazing how fast you come to regard what is essentially a nice perk as an intrinsic right.

Shifting Perspectives helps you gear your bear druid, breaks down the facts about haste for trees, and then digs into the restoration mastery. You might also enjoy our look at the disappearance of the bear.