Cata Druid class changes: preview analysis

So, we finally got the new druid class mechanics, and they came at just the right time (when I was sitting down at a computer in New York City, where I didn’t want to be wandering the streets by myself, anyway). Overall, I kinda feel like I got coal in my stocking for Christmas as a resto/moonkin druid. Moonkin felt VERY ignored in the preview, other than Eclipse changes. Resto feels like it’s getting possibly worse instead of better. Feral seems to be the only spec really getting attention in the preview, and even then, with having 4 specs, the preview just leaves you wanting more. This isn’t comprehensive, but it’s a snapshot (with some commentary) that I put together for all the druid specs. I will be posting more in-depth about these changes & more after I get back from NYC. (also, since I had internet access, my BF didn’t have to do a guest post for me. I work hard just for you guys!).

Here’s what we have so far:

Resto druids:

  • Resto druids don’t get new spells (which I actually predicted in the original “what new spells?” thread I wrote months ago).
  • No more constant tree form. Instead, tree form will be a temporary buff (more like metamorphasis). I personally hated having to stay in tree form when it first came out, but I’ve grown to appreciate it more. It seems lame at this point to take it away from being a constant thing. This is something a lot of resto druids are likely to be angry about. However, I really want to see what the new tree mechanic would actually look like before I start freaking out.  Also, there is a chance that they may change their mind between now & when Cata actually goes live many months from now.
  • HOTs benefit from crit/haste.
  • New talent related to regrowth. After you crit, you sprout flowers around that person, which does some healing. lol.
  • Druid mastery will have HOTs heal for more when the targets are lower on health. This should be an interesting mechanic, I think.


  • Eclipse mechanic was totally changed. Now, when we cast arcane spells, our nature spells will be stronger. When we cast nature spells, it makes our arcane spells stronger. This has the possibility to either work great or become a really frustrating mechanic. My hope is that it will be on the really great, but this is something where I can’t even conceptualize what the playstyle will look like without seeing it in action. We really need to beta test this and give it a lot of attention.
  • New ability: Magic Wild Mushroom (available at 85): You plant a magic mushroom which can explode on your target and do damage. Intended to be an ability used for AOE or single targets. Looks like it was designed to work for PvE and PvP purposes (if you can detonate it yourself, rather than it having to be stumbled upon by your target). Also… lawl magic mushroom grenades
  • New Ability: Nature’s Torrent – Seems like frostfire bolt type mechanic, but only possibly more annoying because of how it will interact with Eclipse. The description of it was so vague that it makes it almost impossible to give feedback about.
  • Moonkin DOTs will scale with haste/crit. It should be feral bleeds, as well (since they said not ignite or deep wounds).
  • One of the moonkin’s mastery bonuses is spell haste. This seems inherently bad since moonkin have had terrible scaling problems with the haste stat on gear. I’m not sure I want haste as my mastery bonus. I would think that spell crit would make a better mastery bonus for moonkin, so that we don’t run into problems (AGAIN) for another expansion with spell haste having to use wrath.
  • My thoughts: Other than Eclipse & a few new abilities, moonkin didn’t get very much attention in the class preview, leaving me worried about: PvP mobility & having enough diversity of tools to succeed. They talked about wanting moonkin to be Arena viable, but said nothing about HOW they will get moonkin to that point. That leads me to believe that they still have a lot of work to do with moonkin, to the point where I’m still really concerned. WTB new beta talent trees.
  • My requests: I would like Stampeding Roar to work in moonkin form. Moonkin are the ones who need to move faster! Also, we’re big & fat, so a moonkin stampeding could be really terrifying. lol. Moonkin also want the interrupt that is possibly being given to cat-bear. GC promised me a pony, but all I got in my stocking was a lump of coal & some magic mushrooms!

Feral (bear & cat) – combined because there is overlap in where they talk about these specs.

  • New ability: Thrash. Bleed damage ability for bears. Will help round out bears’ damage dealing ability list.
  • New ability: Stampeding Roar (for both bear & cat): Group movement speed buff. Group Utility. This should be interesting for PvP purposes, or maybe for helping people move out of fires faster in PvE.
  • Bear & Cat may be getting an interrupt & other new tools. They want bear pushing more buttons, and they want cat to have more tools (but cat won’t have more “core” DPS buttons for PvE rotations). This seems reasonable to me. Also, they’re buffing mangle (yay), and wanting cat DPS to be more forgiving. I agree with these types of direction goals, though they don’t talk about how they plan on reaching these goals.
  • My thoughts: Their preview completely neglects thinking about the first 20 levels of druids (before you get cat form), where leveling is incredibly painful. This is particularly concerning since they discussed quality of life issues for leveling for other classes that have fewer very early leveling issues compared to druids. (UPDATE:It won’t be super low level, but we might switch the levels at which you get cat and bear.“)
  • Savage Defense is moving to a mastery bonus for bears, and something called “vengeance” as the mastery bonus for bear should help with tanking damage (by buffing bear’s damage done).
Posted in Cataclysm, Druid - General, Feral Bear tanking, Feral DPS Cat, Moonkin Balance DPS, Restoration Healing Trees

33 comments on “Cata Druid class changes: preview analysis
  1. Angelya says:

    Oh my lord… I can’t get the image of stampeding moonkin out of my head o.o

  2. Lissanna says:

    Dear bliz… make moonkin stampeding happen!

  3. darksend says:

    You are in new york!? I was right by the way, second! Just put up my thoughts on the feral changes

  4. Huggeroftree says:

    Fingers crossed and hoping Nature’s Torrent (you put “Arcane Torrent” in the post, by the way) is an instant cast ability. Like you said, they were vague, but I hope it’s an instant cast ability that could be used as a kind of finishing move. As in, you would get eclipse to the far left or right and then cast nature’s torrent, instantly blasting the target for massive damage. In pve this would be nice for that killing blow we’ve been needing, or in pve in preparation for having to move.

    If nature’s torrent has a cast time, then our rotation will be dramatically changed, and that would be intersting to see. At the very least, we’ll be getting an instant cast nuke in the form of Wild Mushroom.

    All in all, I’m impressed.

  5. Analogue says:

    I want my Tree of Life. It’s what makes being a druid healer cool and unique. I don’t want a cooldown like paladin wings, I want my tree.

    *grumble grumble qq*

    I know, wait and see, but…

  6. Coldbear says:

    Ugh. Resto’s are gonna be angry if they turn into priests with HoTs and a minor Tree-buff temporary thing. Cat’s don’t need more buttons. Bears maybe yes.

    Ferals did need an interrupt or somesuch, but just adding and adding and homogenizing …meh. You all enjoy Cataclysm. Hopefully I’ll be off doing irl pvp.


  7. Poneria says:

    I *love* tree form. Except for casting, it’s so HAPPY all the time. 🙁 I would have preferred making a cosmetic change where maybe your hair determines whether you’re an apple tree or a pear tree. (Or change with the seasons, y’know?)

    I don’t really imagine moonkin stampeding…I see waddling. And the moonkin sound over and over with a moonkin mob waddling quickly over a boss floor. /giggle

  8. Nimizar says:

    My druid is primarily feral, with a secondary resto spec, so the preview looked fun to me. An AoE bleed that can crit will be really nice from the point of view of procing Savage Defence.

    They do also give some hint as to what they’re considering doing to make kitty DPS easier: increase the duration of things like Savage Roar, Rake, and perhaps even Rip. With longer durations on those, it would make it easier to maintain the key elements of the rotation (bleeds and SR), while still allowing skill differentiation in how well you handle Tiger’s Fury (use it close to on cooldown without wasting the 60 bonus energy) and Ferocious Bite (use it as close to 35 energy as possible).

    GC has started posting in the thread now too:
    – clarified that, yes, moonkin and feral dots do benefit from haste and crit
    – yes, they knew making ToL a healing CD would be controversial
    – they avoided giving Resto and Kitty much in the way of new abilities because they have so much to do already

    I’ll still comment on Eclipse despite not playing balance: from the sound of it, the choice will be between just alternating Wrath and Starfire for a consistent minor buff, or firing a steady stream of one or the other in order to build up to a major damage bonus. For example, before a “DPS burn” phase, it may be worth getting the Eclipse meter all the way over to one side with Wrath in preparation before blasting away with Nature’s Torrent and Starfire for a quick damage burst.

  9. Galashin says:

    Regarding the resto preview,t hough they initially said “no new spells,” we’re getting at least two:
    1) Regrowth is changing to have a reasonable chance to proc an AoE heal, and
    2) A throughput cooldown.

    Given that crit will be affecting all HoTs, we’ll no longer be avoiding it like the plague, which, coupled with Nature’s Bounty and the talent, has the potential to change regrowth entirely.

    The throughput cooldown, however… If we’re *trading* the ToL bonuses for it, it’s a terrible exchange. If we’re simply *gaining* the cooldown, it has potential. HoT healing is about consistency and efficiency–it *has* to be, that’s what we gain for never being sure if the healing will be quick enough on the one hand, or effective at all on the other. Throughput cooldowns just don’t jive with consistency, especially not at the *cost* of our ToL bonuses. We’ll have to wait and see.

    The mastery bonus, on the other hand, is just illogical. It’s great for shaman on their direct healing, but pointless for HoTs. When someone’s that low (barring a decimate-style gimmick), they’re going to need and get a direct heal. So what’s the point of our HoT getting one or two ticks of increased healing? More interestingly, the mastery bonus is directly at odds with their own comments earlier in the preview, about lifebloom being for tank healing (tanks are, of course, kept healed), rejuv for topping off lightly damage targets (if they’re lightly damaged, the mastery bonus doesn’t seem to apply), and *nourish*/regrowth being for spot healing (thus emphasizing the direct heal of regrowth, *not* it’s HoT component).

    Give Blizz some credit, of course–this will get changed. It’s just a matter of when.

    In short, we learned basically nothing, other than verifying that we’re not getting (negative) special treatment with the HoT/DoT crit and haste change. Which is good to hear, I guess.

  10. Lissanna says:

    I’ve been updating this thread as the new info comes. I can’t do it for much longer, though. He seems to be hitting on the major points that I QQ’d about, so by the end, this may look like a happy post. lol.

    Also, nothing is “set in stone.” Stuff will change between now & when Cata goes live.

  11. Nimizar says:

    Hmm, if HoTs did scale higher with lower health… what would that mean for Swiftmend?

  12. Lissanna says:

    Nimizar – I can test that mechanic with some cliff-jumping heal testing on the Beta or PTR servers. Won’t know until that point. lol

  13. Galashin says:

    It’s most logical that swiftmend will be buffed on low health targets accordingly–but then, that just makes the mastery bonus more about “super heal once per 15 seconds on a low target” than really being effective. I can’t imagine they won’t change it. I’m hoping for extended HoT duration, myself–which would let us choose between increasing efficiency (the baseline option) or controlling our own HPS increase (choosing what to cast during the time gained).

  14. Donnavar says:

    Oh no. I love my tree form! It’s the whole reason I play a druid. I feel like we’re being victimized out of the four specs. Why not just let trees cast other spells?

    I don’t understand. Why nerf us like that? I don’t care what my armor looks like. Being in tree form beats any armor I can possibly show! (breaks out crying)

    The restoration mastery seems to be based on the idea that when you’re blanketing Rejuv, say for an incoming AOE attack, then your HOTs will bring the raid back up faster. I’m not sure if it’s such a good idea to put it as a mastery bonus. It won’t help at all in five-mans and is of dubious benefit for tank healing. We may end up avoiding mastery gear, or at least be forced to collect two sets of resto gear, one without mastery for tank healing so that we don’t waste itemization on it.

    I would have preferred if the mastery was something that’s applicable more generally.

    I love the Efflorescence idea. It’s the little things like these that stick to a spec making it special.

    Bear tanking looks to be the same. Maul is going away, so it’s gonna be Thrash,Swipe*N,Thrash,Swipe*N,…well hopefully not.

  15. tyra says:

    I’m absolutely drooling over the speedd buff. Sounds amazimg! I hope then trend continues with a talnt or 2. One thing I’m worried about is my rotation. It doesn’t look like its goin ton change much. So far, I haven’t gone nto an expac with the same rotation. Learning a whole new system was literally 1/3rd of the fun. I hope I don’t have to swwitch classes for variety. Maybe its time to give bear another whirl, or one of the other 2… then again, I’m a sucker for dw 1hander fury warriors >.>

  16. tyra says:

    Oh, and I know shrooms are the balance shiney… but wtb shrooms in feral forms. I think bring back enviromental awareness/targeting sounds like a win

  17. LXj says:

    Well, they DID add a new nuke for moonkins, it will definitely affect our rotation somehow

  18. Hiraun says:

    It is far too early to say how the new ToL mechanic will work out. However, I have to say, if I am going to see my tree form only for temporarily buffing the party/raid (feels like some kind of Bloodlust) I am going to resent that. Endgame being endgame, I do not think there will be much choice if one wants to raid effectively.

  19. Ellimist says:

    Hugely disappointed about the ToL changes. They should have just had a glyph or other option to hide the tree model, and updated it for those who do want it permanently.

  20. Maor says:

    I was kind of ambivalent about ToL being removed, but the more I think about it the more I like that it’s not a permanent form anymore. It would be nice to know what they plan on doing with the new ToL cooldown, but my impression is that they haven’t decided yet themselves.

  21. PPB says:

    I’m no druid professional, but I find these changes a bit underwhelming. For one thing, the magic mushroom part looks a bit goofy. I’m not against the concept of the spell, but I can’t believe they couldn’t think of anything better than an exploding mushroom. It doesn’t even feel druidy to me. The lack of new resto spells, although understandable, is a tad disappointing since new spells are shiny.

    On the other hand, I welcome the tree of life change. It *is* kind of cute, but I’ve grown really tired of never seeing my gear.

    Some people would argue that shapeshifting ought to be a core feature for druids. And I agree with that: shape*shifting* should be a core feature. All the druid forms in the game are currently just gimmicks, a “turn on and forget” mechanic (at least in PvE). I understand this for bear and cat, as it would make gameplay a bit iffy otherwise, but I always thought balance and restoration should have cooldown-based shapes that would help in specific situations rather than be simple “turn it on to emulate mage or priest” forms.

  22. Chezza says:

    I actually switched specs from mostly balance to restoration when 2.0 was released in order to get Tree of Life Form. It was just such a good fit for a character based on Cheza from Wolf’s Rain. Really going to miss Tree Form 🙁

  23. Hamlet says:

    I’m surprised you’re so unhappy with the changes. Overall, I think they’re mechanically sound, and the only main disappointment is the lack of a qualitative new ability of some kind for Resto.

    If anything, the biggest problem is the lack of any detail in the preview–a lot of the announced mechanics have a lot of potential (most importantly Eclipse), but we don’t know enough yet to really see how they’ll turn out.

    I put my full comments here:

  24. Lauraya says:

    I know it’s early and a lot can and will change before and during Cataclysm, but the Feral newness doesn’t seem too hot.

    Making Maul a choice instead of something macro bound to every other ability in the Bear rotation is good, but adding Thrash as something that is almost identical in use to Swipe does not make up for Maul’s removal in the rotation.

    I would like to see a fun and visually impressive Bear ability that helps ranged threat generation that can also be used in the rotation against bosses…something like a targeted ranged, small radius aoe conjuration of spiked brambles that shoot up from the ground.

    Bears need something cool and dynamic that makes them feel more unique, something as iconic to the class/spec as Shockwave and Deathgrip are and as Heroic Leap will most certainly be. Right now every Bear animation is very similar to one another and it’d go a long way to bringing Bear tanks back into the game if players could be doing awesome things as opposed to just being a meat shield. Warlocks get green fire! May Ferals have something even half as cool?

    Stampeding Roar is a great concept but will end up being almost exclusively a PvP ability unless the fights are designed so much more around movement. But even if fights are designed that way a 3 minute cooldown (or possibly even 2 minute talented) will relegate it to generally useless since groups won’t be able to rely on it often enough for it to matter. And if there is an encounter for which you’ll need Stampeding Roar, raiders will complain about having to bring a Bear tank. Nice for PvP, but I don’t see much point otherwise.

    More interrupts are nice, but it doesn’t feel like a hell of a lot of thought has yet gone into Ferals or Druids in general.

  25. Lissanna says:

    I’m not unhappy with the changes so much as unhappy with lack of info from which to decide if I’m happy or not about the changes. He’s been posting more information recently, which has helped clarify things, but I posted this thread originally an hour after the first post went live (with some editing to remove criticism of a few of the clarified comments).

    I should be posting “soon”, with articles more specific & in-depth for moonkin & resto (likely Sunday thru Tuesday).

  26. Merdrah says:

    I hope they don’t take my chicken wrap away =(

    Shrooms?! Boomshroom, Moonshroom?! No mushrooms with my Chicken please! I hate mushrooms.
    I do want to share my little story about my Beefsteak druid and going balance to finish leveling to 20 with the LFD tool but I’m tired and need to work in the morning. I’ll think of a “What if” from a Warlock perspective with some of the changes.
    Shroom does sound like it can be a fun spell to play with but I foresee a few dozen druids planting them in AH entrances to lag people out.
    /hug the Chicken Wrap

  27. Silinix says:

    @Lauraya: The iconic thing for feral tanks is the fact that they look like bears. I realize this is a bit of a cop out, but it’s true. Would it be cool if they had some big roar (other than the existing two) as unique as Deathgrip? Sure. But the special thing about druid tanks is that we tank with our faces/snouts.

    Most of the feral changes seems to be under-the-hood type adjustments (e.g. rage normalization, adjusting cat abilities to ensure less of a drop off if your rotation isn’t perfect, maul no longer replacing a white swing, etc.) as opposed to the removal of the passive Tree of the Life form and the addition of the Eclipse Meter. However, I’m guessing that ferals will play just as differently in Cataclysm as our other specs. The differences just won’t be as flashy. We’ll have to wait and see.

  28. boozychef says:

    I’m rather ambivalent on the mushrooms myself. I think it’ll come down to how it’s implemented. If for instance we have to always ground-target it like we do hurricane, i think it’ll be amazingly annoying for single target. especially so if it’s on a short cooldown and factors for a reasonable percentage of our damage. imagine the pain of a rotation that forces you to aim and click a point in the environment every 10 seconds. movement/tight quarters… both will be much more our enemy than what they currently are now

  29. Qieth says:

    I am not sure what to make of the TOL change. I am sure that in terms of healing, it will be balanced just fine, but i think of druids as shapeshifters, and now we have a druid that doesn’t shapeshift.

    Instead of this, I would maybe have preferred that they kept the TOL form, and then gave them the cooldown where they transform into an anchient, looking all cool and stuff.

    I hate not being able to see my bling just as much as the next druid, but shapeshifting is still awesome. I don’t buy the “We keep you out of form in case you want to DPS”. Priests, paladins and shamans might be able to cast a spell once in a while, but they rarely do – and Blizzard has promised healers that they have to take more care of their mana in Cataclysm, which makes it unlikely that a resto would take time to nuke a boss – any damage a resto druid does is pebbles next to a DPS specced class.

  30. Treeboi says:

    Things you might have missed, because the changes were buried in responses…. (search for Tranquility)

    Tranquility is being changed to resemble Divine Hymn.

    Aka, Tranquility will now target a limited number of raid members, instead of being limited to party members, which means that it will finally become a useful spell.

    Rebirth is going back to a 30 minute cooldown. Ouch.

  31. Jon says:

    I can’t remember that I’ve ever QQ’d about changes to my class before, but hearing of making ToL a cooldown really makes me sad. Sad. It’s such a big part of my character.

    I also play a priest and never once have I experienced the situation: Oh noes! OT lost aggro. The ooze is on the lose! That guy needs a heal… shiny… shiny shoulders! *Guy dies*

    Ridiculous argument…

  32. Maor says:

    @Qieth – Druids are still shape shifters without ToL. None of the base forms are being removed and you can shift into them anytime you want. It’s just that ToL (which is a form that was increasingly becoming no different than caster form) is getting removed and a new spell (a cool down) which druids have been asking for for a while is getting the same name.

    And the argument for it’s removal is that they want a spec of druids that can use caster form (and in extension see their gear) and, this being the important reason, get rid of a healing form which is a mechanic they do not like.

  33. Aysel says:

    What I don’t get about the removing ToL is the arguement that it only provides passive bonuses (btw maybe I missed it what is happening to those passive bonuses?). The same could be said for moonkin form as well and they don’t seem to be taking that out. Owlkin Frenzy was only added in Wrath and I don’t believe it is currently taken by a raiding moonkin anyway (maybe I am wrong with that one I don’t raid as a moonkin). Granted Moonkin form has been around since Vanilla WoW, but I would be willing to bet there are a lot of resto druids.

    The other part I have not read about is that ToL provides a passive 200% armor increase. I realize leather isn’t that much armor, but in pvp it sure has helped me a lot. I assume that will be going away as well.


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