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Shifting Perspectives: Mana wars, crowd control and patch 4.2

Allison Robert

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Shifting Perspectives for cat, bear, restoration and balance druids. This Tuesday, we swap Innervates with a new air of defiance.

The most interesting part of the proposed patch 4.2 changes is arguably what's being done to crowd control, but that's not the only addition to the game that's going to affect us. At the moment, there actually aren't a metric ton of changes in store for druids, but I expect that itself will change.

As a quick update to my ongoing TankWatch project, I returned to some dungeon-running on my alts between the patch 4.1 and 4.2 PTRs. As of evening Monday on May 9, this is what I've seen of tank representation through the low-level dungeon finder:
  • Druid 9%
  • Paladin 60%
  • Warrior 31%
My goblin priest should hit Outland soon, so we'll see what impact death knights wind up having on the statistics.

Patch 4.2 PTR notes
Innervate now grants an ally target 5% of his or her maximum mana over 10 seconds, but still grants 20% of the druid's maximum mana over 10 seconds when self-cast.

Glyph of Innervate now causes the druid to gain 10% of his or her maximum mana over 10 seconds when Innervate is used on a friendly target, in addition to Innervate's base effect.

The upshot is that -- assuming this change makes it to the live servers -- Innervate really won't be worth using on other players, and Glyph of Innervate is likewise trashed because it won't improve on the abysmal 5% return. There are any number of reasons why Blizzard would want to do this, so you can take your pick from among the following:
  • Arcane mages blow through mana like s^%t through a goose and were relying on Innervate to compensate for mistakes in their rotation.
  • Innervate trading among a raid's resto druids is way too good. This is probably the real reason, as you can get a guaranteed return of >30,000 mana between two raid-geared and buffed resto druids.
  • Caster DPS stomped every tier 11 fight with the exception of Al'Akir, which influenced raids to stack moonkin.
  • Blizzard hasn't figured out how it's going to nerf Mana Tide Totem yet, and this is just the first shot fired in the upcoming Firelands mana wars.
  • Every time the developers think they've killed off the last vestige of our utility in raids, some enterprising wanker pipes up from the back of the conference room with, "Wait! I just thought of something else!"
That last one was uncalled for. Maybe I'm still sore about losing root immunity.

I'm surprised that Blizzard hasn't just bitten the bullet and made Innervate exclusive to the caster, which seems like it would eliminate the problem it's really trying to deal with here -- caster druids are balanced around having Innervate, but it's way too good if the player can afford to give it away to a class that isn't.

As for Glyph of Innervate's replacement? Your only other option, assuming you want to stick with a pure healing glyph, is really Glyph of Healing Touch (as we noted last week in Restoration Druid 101). Assuming you spend a decent number of Clearcasting procs on Healing Touch, it's not horrible, but it's still less useful than the Innervate glyph is/was.

Patch 4.2 PTR notes
Many crowd control abilities no longer cause creatures to attack players when they are cast. The creature will not attack the player when the crowd control wears off, and nearby creatures will not become hostile to the player either. However, if a visible player gets too close to the target creature, the creature will remember and attack the player when the crowd control effect wears off. The intent is to make it easier for dungeon groups to manage crowd control assignments and pulling packs of hostile NPCs.

This is a pretty elegant solution to the nuisance of coordinating crowd control between unfamiliar players without the benefit of Vent, and any 5-man tank can tell you that a significant portion of each dungeon is eaten up by just that. It's pretty common to see a disorganized pull when the group isn't on the same page (e.g., the mage launches a Polymorph while the shaman healer's dragging Hex out to his bars), though needless waits are just as frequent because people have bizarre interpretations of the phrase, "Go ahead and pull." Abilities like Sap and Trap Launcher can also be screwed over by someone unilaterally deciding to set a pull in motion.

So yes, this does streamline the process at the cost of "dumbing down" the game, as some have charged, but honestly ... directing crowd control and then praying that people don't go off half-cocked is a pointless hassle.

The 5-man tank in me is nothing but overjoyed. The pessimist in me is not sure that this change is going to do anything to convince people not to be douchecanoes in 5-mans, which appears to be a major factor at the root of the tank shortage.

Patch 4.2 PTR notes
Entangling Roots and the equivalent spell triggered by Nature's Grasp no longer deal damage.

The crowd control changes wouldn't be possible if Entangling Roots continued to cause damage to its targets; you could theoretically kill a soon-to-be-oblivious mob by just casting and recasting Roots until it finally keeled over and died. While amusing, this would be somewhat unbalanced, although you've really got to think that the sheer length of time required for this would be punishment enough.

Patch 4.2 PTR notes
Lacerate no longer causes a high amount of threat.

This isn't actually a change, but rather a tooltip correction to Lacerate from patch 4.1. Blizzard increased the damage done by key tanking abilities while reducing their threat modifiers accordingly.

Patch 4.2 PTR notes
Druids now gain 1 attack power per point of Strength, down from 2. They continue to gain 2 attack power per point of Agility while in Cat Form or Bear Form.

Not a big deal. If anything, it actually simplifies what was already a pretty simple matter -- that is, whether an agility or strength piece was better for a bear. Some 99.9% of the time, it was the agility piece. Off the top of my head, the only strength item I can think of that was really a standout was the Wrap of the Great Turtle, owing more to its armor, note-perfect itemization, and status as a pre-raid epic than anything else. Even then, the advantage over ilevel 346 agility pieces is still fairly slim.

So this isn't really a nerf. Strength pieces aren't attractive before patch 4.2, and they'll be even less attractive afterwards.

Shifting Perspectives helps you gear your bear druid at 85, tempts you with weapons, trinkets and relics for bears, then shows you what to do with it all in Feral Druid Tanking 101. Are you a healer? We'll help you gear your resto druid and catch the basics with Restoration Druid 101.

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