Thursday, May 6, 2010

Fried Turkey: Balance Druid Talents in the Cataclysm Alpha.

Note: I'm making some updates as I continue pouring over the talent tree and finding new nuances and typos. I'll flag important ones.

You know how curiosity killed the cat? Well, it's a good thing I'm a tree. I'd read a bunch about the talent information that had been released and I finally lost my willpower. I must say, if these talents are representative of the new place of druids in WoW society, we're becoming the epitome of hybrid-mode.

I'll start working on Resto now that Balance is done, but it won't be posted until later tomorrow morning since Anakha and I have a movie date and I want to have more time at it. From what I've seen so far, the Resto tree is where the hybrid feel is stemming more from at the moment.

Please bear in mind that all of this information is subject to change between now and release!

So, first, a link to the tree of leaked information can be found here. (No pun was intended in the writing of that sentence.)

New Talents

  • Lunar Justice: This could be interesting. Unless Blizzard plans to reduce our mana pools significantly, 2/4/6% of base will not be a huge boost. Nice for PvP, grinding, and no downtime on groups of enemies, sure. Not as useful for boss fights unless they have adds that will actually trigger it. I hope the 'first ally' clause is actually 'first ally who uses mana and is not already at full'; wasted triggers will be annoying. Edit: The bonus is only granted if 'you kill a target'; the BoA trinkets have a similarly-worded proc and only proc if you actually get the killing blow, not if you assisted with the kill. This talent is now leaning more toward 'not impressed'.
  • Solar Beam: This reminds me of the Hammer of Dawn from Gears of War, except without the ability to move it once summoned. How wide is this beam? Is the 'disoriented' effect like Blind? How or will this affect bosses? So far it seems like only a PvP tool to me; nice for that cluster of healers standing just inside the corner of the boss rooms in AV.
  • Starsurge: 2s cast to knock down, so don't expect to use it as an interrupt. You can get a free crit on someone laying down, but does being knocked down count? Especially if they stand back up again immediatly. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that Spellstorm damage is mixed Arcane/Nature, similar to a mage's Frostfire. Solar Beam is a pre-req.
  • Fungal Growth: A Magic Mushroom Enhancer that also affects our Treants, could be great for kiting boss-fights if they'll actually be affected. Also nice for running away in PvP or the leveling scene.


Old Stuff that's Really New
  • Lunar Guidance: The old SP-from-Int version is out the window. The new version increases the range of Solar Beam by 2 (from what? 10?) and causes Starsurge to generate some of that new lunar or solar power that Eclipse will be based around. Starsurge is a pre-req.
  • Wrath of Cenarious: This almost should be listed as a new spell, since the old static buffs to Wrath and Starfire are gone and replaced with MOONFIRE SPAM! I won't be the only one doing this in PvP anymore. It's nice that they're trying to give something for us to do without losing DPS on movement fights, but why embrace that stupid old cliche'? Changed from 5 points to 3.
  • Eclipse: Another new incarnation of an old talent, it looks like the Lunar/Solar meters will be innate to all Turkeys, rather than only gained through the Eclipse talent. Without knowing how this new balance-of-power works, it'll be hard to know how good this talent is. The extra-energy-when-critted is interesting; will it apply to your current highest like Lunar Guidance? Sounding like a PvP talent unless bosses are going to have 100-yard 360-degree cleaves--I wouldn't put it past Blizzard.



Old Stuff with New Changes
  • Genesis: Now affects Swiftmend
  • Nature's Majesty: No longer a pre-req for Nature's Grace and Nature's Splendor
  • Improved Moonfire: No longer increases crit chance and no longer affects DoT portion of moonfire
  • Celestial Focus: Moved from Tier 4 to Tier 3 and no longer increases haste
  • Nature's Grace: No longer has Nature's Majesty as a pre-req.
  • Nature's Splendor: Now a 33%/66%/100% chance to increase duration of those spells by 3s, rather than the scaling increases across them per point. Moved from Tier 3 to Tier 4; no longer as Nature's Majesty as a pre-req. Edit: It looks like this is another 'broken' talent; rank 1 is identical to the current version; rank 2 and 3 are the new version listed here. Take that as you will.
  • Brambles: Moved from Tier 2 to Tier 5. Should we assume that Treants, Thorns, and/or Entangling Roots are going to become more commonly used/useful?
  • Vengeance: Moved from Tier 4 to Tier 5.
  • Balance of Power: Spell damage taken has been removed and shifted to its own talent (see the Resto tree). Flat 4% hit and 100% spirit-as-hit-rating? The exponential growth of ratings must be getting out of hand; soon the required hit rating to reach boss-level creatures will be infinity.
  • Moonkin Form: Turkey got nurfed! Lost: Damage reduction while stunned, party critical chance increase, and mana return from criticals. And we still can't cast Rebirth without wasting a GCD. They should make the turkey-Rebirth the party member hatching from an egg in 10 seconds; could make timing fun.
  • Improved Moonkin Form: The 5% crit from the old Turkey form is moved here for 6% over three talent points. No haste, no SP-from-Spirit. Ironically does not require Moonkin Form to take.
  • Owlkin Frenzy: Removes the mana restoration but otherwise it's our familiar feral-turkey. Also does not require Moonkin Form to take, heh.
  • Typhoon: Now a pre-req for Starfall. Edit: Cost increased from 25% base to 32% base.
  • Force of Nature: Now a pre-req for the new Fungal Growth.
  • Earth and Moon: Spell Damage taken reduced from 4%/9%/13% to 2%/4%/6%.
  • Starfall: Base damage nerfed, no longer splashes. It was too good to last. Typhoon is now a pre-req.



Old Stuff that's Gone Missing
  • Insect Swarm: This talent is missing but the spell is still referenced by Nature's Splendor; looks like it'll be going the way of the trainer.
  • Improved Insect Swarm: Also missing.
  • Moonfury: Gone. Too much of a good thing?
  • Improved Faerie Fire: Honestly not missing this one. If you ended up in a run with no shadow priest and two turkeys, someone was going to have to scrounge up more +hit for the fight.



Nothing's Changed... Yet
  • Starlight Wrath
  • Moonglow
  • Nature's Reach
  • Dreamstate
  • Gale Winds



My thoughts? I'm really feeling the PvP vibe here. With the new rated Battlegrounds, that's not as surprising, but if some of these new abilities existed in current content, that's all they would be used for. I have faith in Blizzard and their making use of these abilities in PvE... eventually. The loss of many regen abilities, namely from Owlkin Frenzy and Moonkin Form, will cause more turkeys to hoard that Innervate for themselves rather than giving it to the silly mages. It is of course too early to tell as any and all of these are subject to change, but it certainly will give food for thought.

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