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Shifting Perspectives: Making life hell for groups with Mists of Pandaria druid talents

Allison Robert

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Shifting Perspectives for cat, bear, restoration and balance druids. This Tuesday, we are delighted to discover that we are still able to create localized black holes in the next expansion.

To me, the best thing about Mists of Pandaria talents is how they benefit me so much more than the rest of my colleagues on this column. Tanks and healers do not, as a rule, care about anything that affects their damage. They care about survivability and a lot of stuff that looks suspiciously like what we call utility and -- perhaps most of all -- outrolling the hunters on Kiril. To see a talent tree full of things that do not improve anybody's damage gives me great pleasure.

After finishing this article, I realized that I had considered many of these talents largely in the context of how annoying I could make life for a 5-man group by using them. Hmmm.

We meet again, Mr. PuG. But this time, the advantage is mine.

I'm coming up on my third beta for WoW, and the one thing I've learned is not to make any serious predictions too early. While you can usually get a sense of where the developers are headed, there's the inevitable moment where Blizzard's plans crash into the 10 million people who play the game, and then all hell breaks loose.

So we're not going to do that. We're going to look at current Mists of Pandaria talents and ask ourselves what seems to be the most logical pick for each spec within the context of what each is going to train.

Level 15

  • Feline Swiftness Increases your movement speed by 15%.
  • Displacer Beast Teleports the druid up to 20 yards forward and activates Cat Form and Prowl. 3-minute cooldown.
  • Wild Charge Grants a movement ability that varies by shapeshift form. The rest of the talent description is so long that I'm just gonna link it here for you. The bear version basically duplicates the current Feral Charge. The caster version "flies" you to an ally's position. 15-second cooldown.
For bears, it's difficult to ignore Feline Swiftness, which is better than the speed boost granted by Assassin's Step, though not as good as the second rank of the present Feral Swiftness (which is what makes cats so speedy now). However, this may come down to a question over preserving the current bear playstyle. Feral Charge doesn't appear anywhere in the MoP guardian druid's skill set, which is problematic for those of us who use it all the time. Ouch.

Displacer Beast is currently of no real use to a tank, unless you want to use it to teleport out of a battle and enter stealth and chortle while watching everyone else die horribly.

Forget I said anything. Displacer Beast is amazing.

For trees, this is a tougher choice. I would actually have to nominate Displacer Beast as the most attractive, if only because it allows you to get to safety when a pull's gone south or the raid is wiping. However, that assumes that the Prowl effect keeps you out of combat, and I don't know if that's the case. Feline Swiftness' use is obvious.

Level 30
  • Nature's Swiftness When activated, your next Cyclone, Entangling Roots, Healing Touch, Hibernate, Nourish, Regrowth, or Rebirth becomes instant, free, and castable in all forms. The healing and duration of the spell is increased by 50%. 1-minute cooldown.
  • Renewal Instantly heals the druid for 30% of maximum health. Usable in all shapeshift forms. 2-minute cooldown.
  • Cenarion Ward Protects a friendly target, causing any damage taken to heal the target for 4,015 every 2 seconds for 6 seconds. Gaining the healing effect consumes the Cenarion Ward. Usable in all shapeshift forms. Lasts 30 seconds. 30-second cooldown.
For bears, this is tough. Very tough. All three are situationally very good, and this is probably a tier that'll see a lot of switching back and forth depending on individual circumstances. One thing we'll have to look at early is if Cenarion Ward scales with anything, as bears will be training a version of the present talent Nurturing Instinct and converting a portion of their agility to intellect.

For trees, this is an equally tough choice. Renewal's something you can probably ignore unless you're a PvP player. Otherwise, the new version of NS and Cenarion Ward both look very useful, although the numbers on the latter are probably just a placeholder.

Of note -- Cenarion Ward is the only one of the new druid talents that costs anything to activate. As of now it clocks in at 22% base mana.

Level 45
  • Faerie Swarm Grants an improved version of Faerie Fire that also reduces target's speed by 50% for 15 seconds. This talent replaces Faerie Fire.
  • Mass Entanglement Roots your target in place for 20 seconds and spreads to additional nearby enemies. Affects five total targets. Damage caused may interrupt the effect. Usable in all shapeshift forms. 2-minute cooldown.
  • Typhoon Summons a violent Typhoon that strikes targets in front of the caster within 30 yards, knocking them back and dazing them for 6 seconds. Usable in all shapeshift forms.
For bears, I'm gonna have to go with Typhoon here. Wait until you get a moonkin in your group and they've cast their mushrooms and started channeling Hurricane. Then Typhoon all the mobs out of their damage radius. Laugh heartily. Deliver lecture on why payback is a bitch.

Or not. Thinking about Faerie Swarm from the perspective of a 5-man tank, I'm not sure how the speed debuff would ultimately work out for pulling. It means that one mob out of a full pack won't be with the rest of its colleagues while you're firing up your AoE rotation. That said, it'd be great for the purpose of kiting a single mob, and I can see Mass Entanglement's being useful on several raid fights, past and present.

For trees, this is another tier with stuff you'll want to consider situationally. Faerie Swarm and Mass Entanglement would be fabulous Arena/Battleground talents, but then, neither of them will allow you to blow someone into the abyss in Eye of the Storm like Typhoon will. I advise you to engage in a strict examination of conscience and ask yourself how best to make other players' lives unpleasant.

Level 60
  • Soul of the Forest Aessina's blessing grants a benefit which varies by your combat specialization. Again, too long to write here, so here's the link. Guardians get 2 extra rage per Mangle, and resto gets 50% haste for the next spell after a Swiftmend. No cooldown or limitations, so I assume these are always-present buffs.
  • Incarnation Activates a superior shapeshifting form appropriate to your specialization for 30 seconds. You may freely shapeshift in and out of this form for its duration. For the lengthy descriptions, here's the link. 3-minute cooldown.
  • Force of Nature Summons three treants to assist in the druid's current combat role. Treant capabilities vary by specialization. Usable in all shapeshift forms. 3-minute cooldown.
For bears ... ouch. I likes me some treants, but Soul of the Forest is the most obviously useful talent here for a bear. It might even be a crutch of sorts while people are getting used to the new Spend Rage for Survivability deal, though we have yet to find out exactly how useful 2 rage is going to be. (Aessina may turn out to be less generous than we would have hoped.) It's hard to evaluate how good Son of Ursoc is going to be without seeing it in action, and we don't yet know exactly what the treants will do, so the level 60 tier is a pretty big unknown at present.

For trees, Incarnation is now the only way to get Tree of Life, which means that we should probably stop shorthanding restoration players as trees. (Man, Blizzard, drive that knife in a little deeper ... ) This is a very tough tier for resto. Again, without knowing the specifics of how Force of Nature will work, the level 60 talents are a cypher. I lean toward Incarnation.

Level 75
  • Disorienting Roar Invokes the spirit of Ursol to roar, disorienting all enemies within 10 yards for 4 seconds. Usable in all shapeshift forms. 30-second cooldown.
  • Ursol's Vortex Conjures a vortex of wind at the destination location that pulls all enemies within 15 yards toward it. Lasts 15 seconds. Usable in all shapeshift forms. 30-second cooldown.
  • Mighty Bash Invokes the spirit of Ursoc to stun the target for 5 seconds. Usable in all shapeshift forms. 50-second cooldown.
For bears, if you take anything other than Ursol's Vortex, you're a communist.

For trees, if you take anything other than Ursol's Vortex, you're a communist.

Level 90
  • Heart of the Wild Dramatically improves the druid's ability to serve combat roles outside of normal specialization for 45 seconds. Again, full descriptions are here. 6-minute cooldown.
  • Dream of Cenarius Wrath, Starfire, Starsurge, and melee abilities increase healing done by your next healing spell by 30%. Non-instant casts of Nourish, Healing Touch, and Regrowth increase the damage done by your next damaging spell or ability by 30%. Each of these bonuses last 30 seconds and cannot be gained more than once every 30 seconds.
  • Disentanglement Shapeshifting now removes roots. In addition, shifting into a form heals the druid for 20% of maximum health. This heal cannot be received more often than once every 30 seconds.
For bears, Disentanglement is the only way to get the old shapeshifting root/snare-breaking bonus back (thanks for nothing, cats!) that we lost earlier in Cataclysm. Heart of the Wild is oriented toward more caster-type damage for us, so it'd be about 45 seconds worth' of either healing or DPSing in caster form while not tanking. Dream of Cenarius won't be useful until and unless you can pop out of bear to heal. I see both talents as necessarily limited by the druid's restriction to bear form for tanking. As long as you're still taking damage, you ain't popping out.

At least that makes this choice easy, so break out the champagne: Hello again, Disentanglement! Hopefully powershifting into bear works for the 20% heal.

For trees, Heart of the Wild is a much better bonus for resto it is for bears, turning you into an emergency tank or emergency DPS as you prefer. Dream of Cenarius could be useful if you have enough downtime to cast Wrath and thus proc the healing bonus, but it seems like that would have worked out better if Fury of Stormrage weren't currently a resident of Gonesville in MoP. Disentanglement's use is obvious, though the ability to cleanse/dispel most roots makes this a lesser bonus for resto. For now, I'm calling this for Heart of the Wild.

Shifting Perspectives: Bear and Resto Edition takes a peek at healer balance in Dragon Soul, discovers why bears and PvP gear are a pretty good mix, lends advice on gearing up to hit the Raid Finder, and helps you level a druid in the Cataclysm era.

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