To the surprise of no one, MMO-Champion has the new talent trees up from the latest Beta build. Blizzard says the druid trees aren't as far long as the other classes, so much of this will probably change, but we can at least see where they're going.
Since I've actually raided as all four druid playstyles now, I figure I can probably talk about all four without sounded like a complete idiot (though kitty remains my shakiest), and the changes to all trees are actually relevant to me.
We can see right off the bat that unpopular or straight dps talents have been kicked out. No more Brambles or Earth and Moon. Even though Lunar Guidance remains in name, it now increases the radius of our Solar Beam and generates more Solar or Lunar energy for our new Eclipse.
I made a preliminary talent spec using the available talents and was pleased to find myself at 36 of 41 points spent, and this was after I'd taken everything I'd considered must have, or even taken talents I would have considered to be so-so just so I could continue up the tree.
For instance, I have a full three points in Genesis now, which is considered fairly worthless for moonkin in WotLK. But when the talents I'm skipping over are Fungal Growth (slowing targets in area of my wild mushroom or expired treants), Owlkin Frenzy (unchanged), and Lunar Justice (mana back from standing in beam of light over defeated enemy that awards honor or exp), is Genesis really that bad anymore?
I spent a full 31 points in the balance tree and those three talents were my leftovers.
On the resto side I spent 3 points in Furor (more or less the same, just with fewer ranks) and 2 points in Blessing of the Grove for increased Moonfire damage. There's nothing deeper in the resto tree that's moonkin specific.
So what to do with my last 5 points? Well, I'd probably pick up Owlkin Frenzy since having situational pushback isn't so crazy anymore and maybe put 2 points into Perseverance in the resto tree to reduce the amount of spell damage taken, since healing's supposed to be a bigger deal now. Or maybe two points into Fungal Growth, because the slow might come in handy.
We actually do have choice, which is kind of nice.
And what happened to moonkin form itself, since it's not in the talent tree? Apparently it's now trainable! Level 40 according to MMO-Champion. That's kinda trippy, and it makes me a wee bit jealous that other druids can /dance in moonkin form without being balance druids.
It might not stay that way though. Ghostcrawler says they're experimenting with whether moonkin form or Starsurge should be the level 10 bonus for specializing in the balance tree.
The feral tree saw a lot of pruning of "X talent increases the damage of Y ability" as well as any pure damage or stat increase abilities. Feral Swiftness and Natural Reaction stay, but Survival of the Fittest is gone, oddly enough, since bears would still need it to be uncrittable. Mangle is now baseline for ferals, as a reward just for specializing in the tree, so that's not a talent anymore. Primal Fury lost the cat component and now looks like a bear-only talent. Thick Armor remains a talent so apparently the damage reduction just from our mastery alone with not be enough to cover us. We'll still have to spec into it.
Fury Swipes is a new talent that gives us a chance at a free auto-attack whether in cat or bear form, which is nice. Pulverize and Endless Carnage will synergize for more threat since the first does extra weapon damage and gives us extra crit based on the number of Lacerate stacks for a limited time, and the second will allow the Pulverize state to last a few seconds longer.
But the feral tree doesn't feel finished yet.
For one thing, Feral Charge is still a talent, when there is a new trainable skill called Skull Bash that does the same thing. The Brutal Impact talent has similar been changed to reference Skull Bash rather than Feral Charge. I doubt ferals will have both since 2 points in Brutal Impact will already reduces the cooldown of SB to a mere 10 seconds, and having two methods to charge and interrupt would result in a crazy amount of mobility while simultaneously locking up casters (though that would be fun). But then there's also an Improved Feral Charge, so… maybe we will have both?
I didn't find quite the room in the feral tree for a bear spec as I had with the moonkin, with 39 of 41 talent points spent, but that's because I pushed up the resto tree to get Perseverance for the spell damage reduction. If that's regarded as optional, then another 5 talent points are refunded (since both the Tier 1 Blessing of the Grove and Natural Shapeshifter are fairly useless for bears). But then what's left to spent them on?
As with balance, it's easier to say what I skipped over than what I kept.
I skipped over King of the Jungle (same as on live), Primal Madness (which I think has a typo, but generates a certain amount of rage when Enrage or Berserk is used), Nom Nom Nom (pure cat talent), Nurturing Instinct (same as live and still pure cat), and Brutal Impact.
With two points left I'd probably take Brutal Impact. More stuns and interrupts are good, and that would take care of all my points.
I found cat to be freer to spec than bear, even taking what would arguably be filler along the way to arrive at my 36 and 41. For cats the key new talents is the lovable Nom Nom Nom, which allows the player to use Ferocious Bite to refresh Rip during the last 25% of the target's health. Primal Madness will increase maximum energy by 20 during Beserk and Tiger's Fury, so there should be less losing of energy when those are activated at less than optimum times, and Endless Carnage will increase the duration of Rake and Savage Roar, all of which makes the cat rotation more forgiving than its current incarnation.
I ignored all the bear only talents in the feral tree, but I put 1 point in Nurturing Instinct as a filler just to go further down the tree, because with healing being harder, getting more heals as a cat seems to work in my own interest. Who knows. There might even be a need for cats to pop out and heal themselves if a fight gets really bad, and since all cats will have Predatory Strikes just to get to the Tier 2 talents, it'll be possible to make that heal an instant.
In resto I nabbed Furor and Blessing of the Grove, the latter for the boost in Shred damage.
With 5 points left to spend I'd probably fill out the rest of Nurturing Instinct and grab 2 ranks of Infected Wounds since I like the kitty PvP, leaving me with 2 more points I'd probably drop into Natural Shapeshifter because of the PvP. Or maybe I could take Perseverance for the spell damage reduction.
Again, there are choices.
But the tree does feel a little lean for me. There are still talents I'm passing over, but they're clearly for bears rather than usually for bears (like Infected Wounds) because they do not operate in cat form. In the bear spec I made for myself I skipped over talents that still had a bear component to them. In the cat spec, there's nothing not taken that had a cat specific affect.
I'm gonna love Skull Bash in PvP though. Ten second cooldown with talents on a combined spell interrupt/charge that increases the mana cost of the target's spells for the next 10 seconds? Now if only cats didn't have to Skull Bash from a distance so we could reliably interrupt on boss fights like rogues.
For a different perspective on the feral trees I recommend Kalon's write-up at ThinkTank. I agree that a lot of the removed talents did things like boost our expertise and increase our combo point generation, but I'm not as concerned about them because expertise can be fixed with gear and even combo point generation might not be as much of an issue if the numbers are changed so our white damage counts for more or when we do perform a Rake or a Mangle the damage is more meaningful.
I'm much less happy as with the resto tree than I am with the others, largely because most of the bottom tier talents really don't have anything to do with being a resto druid in particular. Most of the bonus healing to this spell and that spell is gone, with the higher tier talents introduced in WoLK being pulled in to form the bottom half of the tree, though a few oldies like Improved Rejuvention and Empowered Touch remain in slightly altered forms. Newer "quirky" talents such as Living Seed and Revitalize remain, and there is the new Efflorescence that creates an AoE heal after critting with Regrowth.
But getting back to building a spec, the early talents just feel like filler. Blessing of the Grove's bonus healing to Rejuvenation is the only direct boost to what a resto druid down. Natural Shapeshifter doesn't impact healing at all and Furor effects every form except the caster one. No matter what, the resto druid will be dropping two points in filler off the bat. I suspect this will have to change.
In Tier 2 Improved Rejuvention would be a must have, but its only companion is Perseverance, which feels like it should be optional, except there's nothing else to take at this tier and we've already seen what great options there are at Tier 1, so again the resto druid would be dropping a couple points in filler. Considering that it will no longer be possible to subspec until reaching 31 points in a talent tree, this is quite a concern for someone who wants to level as a healer!
Tier 3 is a bonanza though with Living Seed, Nature's Swiftness, and Revitalize all on the same row. MMO-Champion's calculator currently says that moonkin form is required for Nature's Swiftness, but even if moonkin form is now trainable I'm sure that's a mistake, because balance druids will be unable to get high up enough in the resto tree to use it, and resto druids can't cast heal spells in moonkin form.
Tier 4 only has Nature's Bounty of interest, but because of Tier 3's bonanza I was able to fill more points in there and ignore Fury of Stormrage (chance at instant, free Wrath) which I'm sure is nice in PvP, but I don't do as a resto.
I put full points in the rest of the tree except for Natural Perfection to take me up to 31 points, and then spent 9 points in the balance tree to get Genesis, Nature's Grace, and Moonglow. Swiftmend is probably going away through since that's supposed to be the level 10 ability druids will get just for specializing in the tree.
This left me with a meager 1 point to spent somewhere else, which is maddening because of all the "waste" in Tier 1 and Tier 2. Natural Perfection, with its crit bonus, sounds like a fantastic "optional" talent, but I can't take two points in it without dropping a point from Nature's Grace or Moonglow.
On the other hand, if I could get back the points I "wasted" on Natural Shapeshifter and a lesser degree Perseverance, I'm not sure what I'd spend them on. Perseverance I might have dumped points into anyway, but since I didn't get a choice at the end of my tree it feels like appetizing. Natural Shapeshifter I'm sure I don't need as a resto druid, but the remaining options aren't that appetizing past Natural Perfection.
More than the other specs, the resto druid feels like there's no choice involved.
Though it still could be worse. I actually can't figure out a spec with points leftover as a paladin...
In conclusion I'm probably most happy with moonkin, somewhat with bear, less with cat, and least with resto. But all of this is still early and hopefully there will be some more "interesting" talents to make things fun without us having to maximize dps, survival, or heals. I think the moonkin's optional talents like Fungal Growth are the most "fun" of the bunch and it would be nice if the other trees could take a page from it.
Weekend minipost: moron day in the CFC
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