I wanted to post a recap last night, but I was too exhausted to form coherent sentences by the time I got back to my hotel last night. This post, instead, is delayed in time but much more coherent & complete than what last night’s 1 sentence post would have read: “OMG healing shrooms & arcane hurricane”.
Day 2 of Blizzcon was actually pretty exciting for druid-related news, as I feel that the druids overall had the best set of questions asked, and the most direct answers out of the Q&A. I wanted to give a big Thank You /HUG to all the developers who answered questions at the Q&A and gave druids such great responses and information. I’m actually incredibly happy and excited by everything they told us yesterday. /HAPPY TREE DANCE
So, what did we learn for druids? Let’s take a look:
Moonkin Eclipse: It is part of the design that moonkin are high on DPS sometimes and low on DPS other times, as is the nature of the Eclipse mechanic. However, they will be giving us an AOE option for Lunar Eclipse. They said they will be giving us an arcane-based hurricane that will benefit from Lunar Eclipse in the future. This would likely mean that we would multi-DOT & Shrooms in Solar and then Hurricane in Lunar. I think switching between 2 different AOE rotations depending on what Eclipse we are in could actually be a lot of fun, and would prevent us from needing to sit in Solar-Cleave mode for AOE-heavy boss fights. Other than that, we haven’t learned too much about what moonkin’s toolset & rotations will look like in Pandaria.
Splitting Cat DPS & Bear tanking: It is intended in 5.0 that cat druids won’t be great for DPS when they switch to cat with the same spec. Since other tank classes don’t have great DPS options, the splitting of druids into 4 specializations will mean a heavy nerf to Bear-tank damage potential when they are outside of bear form. This will be the end of bear/cat hybrid tank/DPS. Instead, you will want to have a dual-spec 1 bear build and 1 cat build. This should be okay, since the new talent design will still allow bears & cats to bring a lot of utility with them to raids (ie. bearfoon), but it will have a large overall impact on how feral druids play in 5.0 (ie. cats won’t have some of the important bear tools, and bears won’t have some of the important cat tools).
Feral cats won’t dual-wield fist weapons. They will share some 2-handers with monks. This is fine, since dual-wielding AND 2-handers available for cat/bear would really be a balancing and design nightmare. They also want the bear T13 set bonus to not work for cat druids, but not be constraining for bears to use it, and they will change the set bonus if it just doesn’t work.
Resto druid AOE healing design: They like how resto AOE HOT-based healing works now, and are worried about push-back from the community if they tried to change it too much, since resto druids didn’t like it when they tried to make us add single-target direct heals back into our rotations. They think a lot of the “spam” feeling is really an encounter-design problem, and that we do still have to make choices about who we Swiftmend and sometimes make decisions about who needs the HOT healing more. I felt their explanation of the current state of resto healing at the Q&A was something I agreed with mostly, and it was nice to hear them talk about their design decisions in more detail. In the Beta testing phase for Cataclysm, we got a lot of talk from them about not liking the way Rejuv/WG spam worked, and the nerfing of WG in 4.3 made me overall nervous about what their design intentions were for resto druids. While their quite lengthy response to my question about druid AOE healing sounded more like a “no” response to my question, there was actually a LOT of great design-level information they gave us in their answer (it is actually pretty rare to get that coherent of an answer from them at a Q&A), and I largely agreed with basically everything they said. I really did appreciate them explaining it all. This part didn’t make it into any of the actual website recaps of Blizzcon so I wanted to emphasize this before I go into the one toolset change they did announce during their answer of that question.
Healing Shrooms! One thing they did announce at the Q&A is that we will get a version of wild mushrooms in 5.0 that will do healing. Wild Mushrooms work by placing targeting reticules on the ground that last there for up to 3 minutes, and explode when you hit a “detonate” button. This is actually a really nice option for resto druids, since you can actually place shrooms before you need them if you know there will be a stack-up point on heavy AOE phases. The mechanic will be just situational enough that it would be unlikely that you would have to “spam” them. Instead, you would use them on places where people would likely be stationary for a while (say on the melee group or something), and you wouldn’t replace rejuv/WG use in raids with the new mechanic. Instead, shrooms would be something supplemental that you had to choose when to use them (and when NOT to use them). They actually solve most of resto druids’ problems right now by allowing for more burst AOE healing, and adding more decision-making and choice into what we do (ie. drop 1 quick shroom to activate your mastery for less over-healing on a lighter AOE phase, or set up 3 shrooms during down-time for an upcoming larger burst AOE ability, or skip casting shrooms because it’s a movement-heavy phase). The way they answered my question suggested that our AOE healing will still largely be similar to what we do now, which is good for the people who like the style of healing druids are using. Healing Shrooms are supplemental tools that will increase the difficulty-level of decision making for resto druids without changing the core mechanics of how resto druids heal.
In thinking about our Pandaria toolset, the talent preview also gives us several other possibilities for things that could supplement our toolset, http://www.wowhead.com/mists-of-pandaria-talent-calculator#d , though all of these are really subject to change between now and when 5.0 is released many months from now. For example, we could potentially pick up things like Cenarion Ward which is the 30-second cooldown ability that applies a HOT on someone after they take damage. The treant ability could give us Healing Treants, and disentanglement self-heal could be really neat if tree form stayed as a cooldown and shifting into tree form would heal yourself for 20% HP when you shifted into it. I am really excited to see how this works in Mists of Pandaria!