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Shifting Perspectives: Relooking at feral and balance druids in Mists of Pandaria


Every week, WoW Insider brings you Shifting Perspectives for cat, bear, restoration and balance druids. Welcome to our DPS edition, brought to you by Chase Hasbrouck, aka Alaron of The Fluid Druid blog. This week, we analyze to theorize.

A few months ago, I posted my initial thoughts on the balance changes and feral changes in the Mists of Pandaria beta. Now that the abilities and numbers have gone through a round of fixes and changes, I'd like to relook at some of my initial concerns and see what problems the specs are still experiencing.

Balance issues

Underpowered single-target rotation, overpowered AoE rotation Thankfully, this has been addressed significantly. This specific issue was touched on by Ghostcrawler in the beta class analysis thread:


Actually, is the design intention to have both Eclipses with the same damage output for single targets and AoE?

Actually, no. We're currently intending for Lunar to be slightly better at single target damage and Solar to be AoE damage. When you have time between phases or situations where you can use Astral Communion to quickly switch sides, you should be able to further optimize performance by tailoring which Eclipse you line up with which boss phases. The difference should not be significant enough, however, that in a Patchwerk-style scenario, you are compelled to only DPS in one eclipse.
As a side note, I posted incorrect information about Mushrooms. They DO count as Solar, and we think that's fine.

Of course, now we get to debate what "slightly better" means. Current theorycrafting suggests that Starfire (aka Lunar) and Hurricane (aka Solar) are about 20% better then their counterpart abilities in the other Eclipse. I agree with Graylo that this difference is probably too large and makes Eclipse-twisting feel more mandatory and less like an "optimization." Dropping this to the 5% to 10% range would still allow theorycrafters to come up with optimizations, but it wouldn't be necessary for players to use; they could ignore Astral Communion entirely and still do reasonably well.

Eclipse control Astral Communion is the tool that was implemented to help moonkin control Eclipse, and it works pretty well. There are some quality-of-life adjustments that could be made (which I detailed in this column), but it succeeds at what it's trying to do. There's a delicate balance here between this issue and the first; if too much a percentage of moonkin DPS revolves around being in the right Eclipse at the right time, the playerbase is going to demand better control tools. I think if Blizzard brings the two Eclipses together a bit more, the calls for finer-grained control over Eclipse state will go away.

Movement problems Here, I think this is still a significant problem for moonkin. They lose a significant amount of damage potential when forced to move, and Lunar Shower doesn't address the problem significantly enough. As a partial fix, I would like to see a glyph for balance that makes Astral Communion castable while moving. If we're going to force balance druids to be turrets, let's let them be effective turrets.

Feral issues

Reduction in ratings Crit's going away -- but it's not just us, it's everyone. Ghostcrawler again:

To use a concrete example, one of the things we do is whack ratings when an expansion begins so that there is room to grow into additional gear. As I have said before, this feels bad to players but is sort of inevitable because we can't start at say 75% crit chances and grow into 130% crit chances. However, we think the current loss of stats in MoP is too extreme, and is exacerbated by losing all of the passive talents and glyphs that often added haste and crit especially. We believe, and we're certainly hearing the feedback, that players are playing from level 85 to 90 with haste, crit and mastery percentages that are so low as to be unfun. We think we have room to bring those up a little, which is something we're looking at right now.

I feel that this is definitely true for feral. Feral's DPS has always depended on a certain amount of crit to generate combo points via Primal Fury. As you add crit, the extra combo points get turned into more Shreds and Ferocious Bites. Unfortunately, if your crit's too low, you can't even maintain Rip and Savage Roar, and it feels like you're struggling to play. I had talked about this before, and I'm glad to see it's going to be addressed.

Removal of Stampede Sadly, this appears to be permanent. The instant-cast Ravage was a lot of fun and added a good initial kick to get a rotation going. While the new Glyph of Savagery definitely helps with getting a rotation started, it doesn't feel as fun as the quick pop in damage you got from Ravage, and it still feels like our ramp-up time is far too long. I'm dreading any encounter with a target-switching component, though Symbiosis will help with that to some degree.

Talent balancing Certain tier abilities are still too mandatory. Wild Charge is absolutely amazing, which negates Displacer Beast and Feline Swiftness. Incarnation is intended to be a burst DPS option, but Force of Nature does more because it doesn't require any energy to use. These are all rather minor things, but they need to be worked out so we can have effective choices for each tier. (I'm reserving judgement on level 90 talents; there are still quite a few bugs, and we need a more fleshed-out view of raids and endgame content.)

Overall, I'd say both specs are looking reasonably good for Mists, though feral still has a significant question mark until the crit issue is addressed. What issues do you still see the druid DPS specs having?

Looking for the latest and greatest in feral cat druid guides? Shifting Perspectives has the answers! Check out our guide to soloing instances and raids, as well as our top gear recommendations and feral guides to the Siege of Wyrmrest Temple and the Fall of Deathwing.

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