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Shifting Perspectives: First look at balance druid tier 12 bonuses

Tyler Caraway

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Shifting Perspectives for cat , bear , restoration and balance druids. Balance news comes at you every Friday -- learn how to master the forces of nature, and know what it means to be a giant laser turkey! Send your questions, comments, or something you'd like to see to

Right then -- on the off chance that you happened to miss the massive rant that was last week's Shifting Perspectives, made in reaction to the horrible, horrible changes that Blizzard had originally planned for balance ... ,you don't quite have to read it. Actually you should read it, because the reasoning behind the change is still there and Blizzard is going to try something to make it happen, but that specific method is off the table for the time being. There's already a new attempt out, but frankly, I don't think it's worth spending every single week hammering down a new flop on the same tired design.

Instead, I think it's rather a good time to take a first little glance at our newest tier set bonuses that were datamined about a week ago. Normally, I'm not a huge fan of datamined information; it's nice to look at, but it can often be incomplete or missing perspective that allows it to make sense. This is a bit different, though; it's spell data pulled straight from Wowhead, so it should be rather spot on. Doesn't mean it's final though, so do keep that in mind.

Two-Piece Tier 12 bonus: Burning treants

No matter what class you play or what complaint you may have about the set bonuses for this raiding tier, you have to admit one thing -- they are flippin' sweet. Themed tier bonuses across all classes? That's pretty amazing, and frankly, I love the idea of it. I think it goes without saying that the theme is fire, yes? But well, in case you didn't pick up on that, the theme is fire.

For our first trick, we'll gain a chance to summon burning treants on our Wrath and Starfires casts that run about and hit things for us for 15 seconds. Now, regardless of the DPS factor of this bonus, you have to admit that it is one of the coolest set bonuses that we have seen. I mean, come on -- treants running around whacking things as they're on fire? That's awesome!

Anyway, any guess at the impact this is going to have on our DPS is just that at this point -- a guess. There's no method of figuring out how much damage the treants are going to actually do until we can see them. Looking for them in the NPC database might provide a little bit more insight, but unfortunately, they don't quite exist yet.

The one thing that we do know is that the spell currently has a 20% chance to proc, which is pretty darn high when you consider how many times we can end up casting Wrath and Starfire within any given encounter. What's most interesting is that it is a flat proc chance, although I'm not entirely sure that Blizzard could separate the procs between Starfire and Wrath. The reason that this is so intriguing is because normally, Wrath has a lower chance to proc natural effects than Starfire.

Enchants and the like are always the same between spells, which is why this is the same too, but our talented abilities usually have a higher chance place on Starfire because of its longer cast time. Again, I'm really not even sure if it would be possible for Blizzard to work it that way -- although it's probably bad to say that anything isn't possible, because I'm sure it's always possible on some level of coding. Work-wise, however, it may not be worth it. Still, a 20% chance to proc is a pretty big deal, and with that high of a number, we can actually expect to see the little buggers out rather frequently.

There is a predictable downside to this bonus. We don't yet have the ability to test this out, but it is more than likely that the treants will spawn next to us instead of spawning next to the mob. This is just a matter of how such proc effects work. Think back to Nibelung from ICC, which did much the same thing; it spawned Val'kyr right next to our current location.

For the staff, this wasn't a bad deal; the Val'kyr were ranged attackers, anyway, so it didn't much matter where they popped out. The treants, though, are melee creatures, so it's a bit of an issue that they'll have to drop out at our feet and then run up to the boss. Overall, this really doesn't have a huge impact on their DPS -- it shouldn't take them but a second or two to reach the boss -- but it is something worth keeping in mind.

While it would be nice for them to spawn at the feet of the creature they'll attack, it's probably just a technical limitation that is going to prevent that. Now, I could be wrong -- I am not a coder, after all, and I don't know the base code for WoW -- but I've seen several similar procs and have a pretty good understanding of how the game tends to function.

Honestly, it isn't the spawning mechanic that has me worried about this set bonus; instead, it is the limitations of the treants themselves. First is control. I would assume that they would be set to attack your current target. Perhaps they'll be in a general "defensive" or "aggressive" stance, as our treants used to be, but this is rather problematic. Consider Omnotron, where you absolutely have to target switch, because attacking the wrong target is bad news bears. Will the burning treants be able to not attack shielded targets? Will their damage not proc the shield effects? It's worth knowing and thinking about.

Blizzard's creating a new "assist" stance for pets, so perhaps our treants will use that. Here's to hoping, at least.

The other issue to consider is encounters like Al'akir. Maybe I'm just a bad, but I can't use Force of Nature in phase 3 no matter how hard I try. Since there is no ground to summon the treants on, the spell just fails every time. Will our treants work the same way? It may be "old" content, but keep in mind that the fire bird encounter is supposed to have a similar flight mechanic. If our two-piece bonus isn't even usable in these situations, that's a pretty significant nerf.

I love the idea of this bonus, but I am very worried how the mechanics of it will turn out.

Four-piece Tier 12 Bonus: Eclipse generation

As cool as the two-piece bonus is, the four-piece bonus is a little bit more bland, in my opinion. With it, Wrath generates 3 additional Lunar Energy and Starfire generates 5 additional Solar Power when outside of Eclipse. Sounds fantastic, doesn't it? More Eclipse is always great, and it does the very thing that is so important to us: It reduces our time outside of Eclipse. That's a pretty big deal.

Overall, it is a decent bonus, as bonuses go, although it could just be that I'm a bit jaded with how simply overpowered our current four-piece bonus is. In essence, this bonus should reduce the number of Wrath casts needed to proc Eclipse by two and the number of Starfire casts by one. The Starfire side of the bonus is rather constant in always reducing the number of Starfire casts by one no matter how you mess with Eclipse, but the Wrath side can be a little bit more tricky, sometimes providing a little less, rarely providing a tiny bit more.

The other side of this is how it will interact with Euphoria, which doubles the Eclipse gain of any given Wrath or Starfire cast. Will the additional bonus from the set bonus also be doubled? It is highly unlikely that it will, but shouldn't it? After all, Euphoria is essentially supposed to replicate the effect of casting two spells for the cost of one, and in this case, two spells would generate double the bonus from the tier set, so shouldn't it also proc?

I doubt that it will, honestly, again being a limitation of the coding, but there's more of a work around for this. Euphoria itself is two different procs that generate energy on their own accord, so having a hidden mechanic within the set bonus to also proc off of Euphoria shouldn't be all that difficult to implement. We don't really need to have this, which is a reason why I really doubt it will happen, but I do like for things to be consistent. It's more of a factor of Wrath, anyway.

Comparing tier 12 to tier 11

At the end of the day, it's the damage that matters, right? As I had mentioned, there really isn't a way to guess how much damage the tier 12 two-piece bonus will do. We simply don't know how much the treants are going to hit for, so while we can guess using random estimates, we can't give any solid numbers on it right now.

What is slightly problematic about this is that it is rather important how much damage it does. Our current four-piece bonus is exceptionally strong, and the combination of stat gains plus the damage of the new two-piece bonus has to account for more than that damage; otherwise, it isn't really worth the switch.

Frankly, I'm the tiniest bit worried that it won't work out to where tier 12 won't be good enough to switch to right away. For players who are going from normal tier 11 to normal tier 12, it will most likely be a clear damage increase that you won't pass up. But will the same be true for going form heroic tier 11 to normal tier 12? There's less of an ilevel difference between the two -- and again, the tier 11 four-piece bonus is pretty overpowered.

The four-piece bonus on tier 12 is a little bit less of an issue when it comes to damage. It is very clearly worth less than our current four-piece bonus -- which I would think just about anything would be -- but there's really never going to be a case where we won't use at least four pieces of tier gear.

Balance druids aren't really in the same type of boat as cloth DPS casters when it comes to item selection. Any non-tier gear for us is going to have spirit on it, which we only need limited amounts of. Given that tier gear is usually the only method we have of avoiding spirit on every single item that we own, we aren't going to much have the choice in whether we wear it or not. We pretty much have to.

For a more solid number of the tier 12 four-piece, it currently looks to parse out at around 500 or so DPS, give or take. Like I said, not a huge gain, but it isn't something that we'll just toss away as useless. It's good, just not spectacular -- but that's quite fine. It's still too early to tell how tier 12 will hold up against tier 11, and I do have a few doubts for certain situations -- but hey, at least you'll have really cool treants. Plus, the tier 12 helm looks terrific, no matter what you say. Haters gonna hate.

Happy treants

Just one thing: Happy birthday to me. I feels old. /cry

Also, have you seen the new Solar Beam? I'm just saying, the balance annoyance factor went up 10,000-fold. I loves it. (If my PTR stops being evil, I'll post a screenshot. If a nice reader with a PTR who doesn't hate them wants to send one in, I'll post it. Glorious.)

Every week, Shifting Perspectives: Balance brings you druidic truth, beauty and insight ... from a moonkin's perspective. We'll help you level your brand new balance druid, tweak your UI and your endgame gear, analyze balance racials and abilities, and even walk you through PvP as a balance druid.

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