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Shifting Perspectives: Examining the tier 12 set bonuses

Allison Robert

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Shifting Perspectives for cat, bear, restoration and balance druids. This week, we preview tier 12.

Hey, folks. Today's going to be a slightly shorter edition of Shifting (say that three times fast), as I'm a little under the weather, but I've been wanting to take a peek at the upcoming tier 12 set bonuses for bears and resto.

As a quick update to a previous post, I occasionally get into trouble in this column by assuming that feral changes are only ever going to concern bears. We were spoiled by having Chase Hasbrouck (also known as Alaron of The Fluid Druid) around recently to cover the cat portion of Shifting Perspectives. The strength nerf in patch 4.2 is in fact a noticeable nerf to our cat brethren, even if it's not going to affect bears quite so much. Kalon's comment is a good explanation as to why.

On that note, we're now looking for a new kitty columnist, so please apply if you're interested!

Patch 4.2 PTR tier set bonuses
Feral two-piece bonus: Your attacks with Mangle, Maul, and Shred deal 10% additional damage as Fire damage over 4 seconds.

This is more oriented toward cat DPS than bears, but it mirrors a similar damage increase present in all tanks' two-piece set bonuses. What's unknown at this point is whether these fire DOTs will automatically overwrite each other -- an issue that famously plagues the fire mage's Ignite, which is not to say that fire mages on doing poorly on the meters these days -- or if they don't. None of the tier gear is currently available on the patch 4.2 PTR at the moment, so nobody's certain as to how the more eccentric set bonuses work yet.

But that's not really why you're interested in tier 12 if you're a bear. You're definitely here for the four-piece bonus:

Patch 4.2 PTR tier set bonuses
Feral four-piece bonus: Your finishing moves have a 20% chance per combo point to extend the duration of Berserk by 2 seconds, and when your Barkskin ability expires you gain an additional 10% chance to dodge for 12 seconds.

Quoth the Jay, "Snoogans."

As with the two-piece bonus, this will be a familiar sight to anyone who's seen the other tanking four-piece bonuses, which makes me wonder what heroic Firelands raid encounters are going to be like. Assuming you use Barkskin on cooldown, the additional dodge once it expires is absolutely lovely, but its real value lies in the ability to time Barkskin and the subsequent dodge boost around dangerous boss abilities. That's actually worrisome in a way, as you want to blow Barkskin for any substantial damage increase, which runs the real risk of leaving the additional dodge as a mere incidental bonus, but ... well, we'll see what those raid bosses do.

This may also result in some balance issues as tanks start acquiring tier gear, because the abilities that trigger survivability increases don't all have the same cooldown. Ouch. Stay tuned, folks.

Patch 4.2 PTR tier set bonuses
Restoration two-piece bonus: Your periodic healing from Lifebloom has a 40% chance to restore 1% of your base mana each time it heals a target.

Interesting that this arrives in another patch when Blizzard's squeezing the bejabbers out of healers' mana. As we speculated might happen, Mana Tide Totem came in for a significant nerf not too long after we got news of the Innervate nerf. The mana wars have begun ... again.

Druover at Elitist Jerks ran the math and concluded that this amounts to a rough 800 mp5 passive bonus. While this will vary by fight, depending on how frequently you can pop Tree of Life, it's no mean gift.

Patch 4.2 PTR tier set bonuses
Restoration four-piece bonus: Your Swiftmend also heals an injured target within 8 yards for the same amount.

This is much better than the original four-piece bonus, which was: When your Lifebloom blooms, it instantly heals up to 2 nearby injured targets for the same amount. It was a fantastic PVP bonus but a terrible fit for restoration's PVE game play; realistically, it would have seen use only during the Tree of Life cooldown (while being, I admit, horrifically overpowered at that time, as you could "bloom" over 30 players) -- because otherwise, you're trying your damnedest never to let Lifebloom expire at all. Additionally, it also seemed more than a bit counterproductive, given the nature of the two-piece bonus. Also, a lot can happen in the 10 seconds it takes for Lifebloom to bloom, so the bonus was essentially about predicting the need for raid healing accurately in advance and praying that other healers didn't render the issue entirely moot in the interim.

Is that enough? Do we need to keep going?

Well, no more. The Swiftmend bonus is a lot less troublesome, and I particularly like that it'll nudge the more forgetful among us into using Swiftmend on cooldown -- which, as we observed last week, is one of the easiest ways to keep the Harmony buff running without having to devote a lot of thought to it. However, the 8-yard range isn't a lot -- it's the same distance you get with Efflorescence -- so don't bank on this being a great raid-healing bonus on fights when the raid has to stay spread out. Think of it as another chunk of healing on a target you'd want getting hit by Efflorescence anyway.

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. We'll also help you gear your resto druid.

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