February 25, 2009

WoW Patch 3.1 PTR Druid glyphs

Personally the change I'm still plotzing over most in relation to 3.1 is the sheer locational chutzpah of the Argent Tournament. I'm not sure I understand why the northern portion of Icecrown is considered an appropriate spot. It's like seeing some Milwaukee strip-mall developer parachute into the middle of Mordor and exclaim over the retail and tourist opportunities within a 100-yard radius of Sauron's eye. What does the Scourge think about this tournament? Did they get a cut of the concession stand's profits as a means of buying their cooperation? Who else was bribed in order to make this happen? These are all questions to which I think we deserve answers.

Anyway, I seem to be one of the unlucky souls doomed to disconnect every 10 minutes from the PTR (although I'm not anywhere near Dalaran), but I'm sure it'll get fixed. One minor suggestion for all those Druids porting to Moonglade in order to pick up dual-specs immediately; have 1,000g in hand before you do so. As we all know, getting into Moonglade is rather easy. Getting out of Moonglade tends to be rather more time-consuming unless you're willing to burn your hearth in a world newly free of ghetto-hearthing.

Some of the undocumented changes we've actually already talked about, so if you don't see something here but missed our first article, you should find them here.


FAERIE FIRE and FERAL FAERIE FIRE: Now decreases armor by 5% (previously decreased armor by a set amount).

It's (probably) a buff against more heavily-armored bosses, a nerf against less heavily-armored bosses, but otherwise falls in lockstep with changes to armor-reduction skills elsewhere. To what effect this will be seen versus present or Tier 8 bosses, I'm not sure -- outside of the 10% buff to boss armor in the beta as a means of nerfing physical DPS classes, I actually have no idea what kind of armor current bosses are rocking, and of course nobody knows what Ulduar's going to be like in this respect.

SAVAGE ROAR: Changed to increase physical damage done by 30% (previously increased attack power by 40%).

This I'd like to test as soon as possible, provided the PTR server cooperates. If I had to make a call right now, I would say you won't see much of a change at the moment, but it trends toward a long-term buff if it isn't already a short-term buff. It says a great deal about how badly Cat DPS scales with attack power that in raids you may need three times the AP of a pure physical DPS even to think about competing with them.

Between this and what we've already noted concerning the new Primal Gore talent, strength is not necessarily your best buddy anymore. I would expect to be gemming for agility and agility/hit if I were you, which is what we were doing in BC anyway, and (as Kalon notes) means there's a little more overlap now between Bear and Cat gems and enchants.

MAIM: Now a Stun effect instead of an Incapacitate.

The first thing I thought of while reading this was that Mages can Blink out of stuns but can't Blink out of incapacitates, and that this is definitely a nerf versus the ubiquitous Frost Mage in arena. Beyond that, it's also a nerf to Feral CC in forms anyway, as changing Maim to a stun now means it shares diminishing returns with Pounce and Bash. However, while classes can use damage-reducing abilities while stunned (think: Barkskin), Maim may also last the full duration now before DR before breaking. Feral in arena right now is doing better than any other Druid spec, so...yeah. Consider this an effort to try to stop the lolmelee juggernaut in arena right now, even if we're not necessarily the worst offenders.

(NEW ABILITY) SAVAGE DEFENSE: Each time you deal a melee critical strike, you gain Savage Defense, reducing the damage taken from the next physical attack that strikes you by 25% of your attack power.

SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST: Now increases your armor contribution from cloth and leather items in Bear Form and Dire Bear Form by 11/22/33% (previously 22/44/66%).

I'm yoking these because you really can't discuss one without discussing the other. Much ink has been spilled...well, pixels abused, anyway, discussing the upcoming changes to how Bears mitigate damage. On most boss fights you're not likely to notice much of a difference outside of the universally-cited Patchwerk OT model. You and your healers are likely to notice much more of a difference on trash, as each crit now functions as a version of block, and the lack of block was one of the underlying (though not articulated) reasons behind healer complaints concerning Bear tanks in heroics. One of the things that makes Warriors and Paladins easier to heal against smaller, faster hits is block, which is greatly lessens or outright negates damage from this source. With decent gear it's almost impossible not to land a crit by Swiping 3+ mobs, so this is a pretty big buff to the ease of healing Bears who are multi-mob tanking, particularly if the shields stack.

But the Bear high-armor model was one of the things that made them take more predictable damage versus heavy-hitting raid bosses. Again, on most bosses this isn't going to wind up mattering much in overall damage taken, but the armor nerf does mean that unshielded hits that do land are going to be felt more and seem more "spiky." Minimizing the frequency of this means you'll be looking for more agility, +hit, and +crit, on top of getting as much attack power as possible to get bigger shields. Getting more mitigation from offensively-oriented stats may also solve some of the current issues with bear threat if people re-gear accordingly.

Savage Defense isn't yet live on the PTR (this has been confirmed as a bug) so I have no idea if it stacks or not, and I'm also not sure if you gain rage through a shielded attack. I'll have information on this as soon as a new build gets patched.

Otherwise, I can't say I'm looking forward to Maexxna or Sartharion 3D with Shadron's acolyte and/or Vesperon's acolyte up (for which most tanks will stop attacking Sartharion entirely), but situations where the tank either can't attack or is incapacitated should be pretty rare.

PREDATORY STRIKES: Now increases now includes Moonkin Form in its effect.

Out of curiosity, does anyone running a Balance build even have this talent?

IMPROVED REGROWTH renamed NATURE'S BOUNTY: Increases the critical effect chance of your Regrowth and Nourish spells by 5/10/15/20/25% (previously increased just Regrowth crit by 10/20/30/40/50%).

Nature's bounty, now with less bounty! This is a giant buff to Nourish and a giant nerf to Regrowth, and I'm not sure how I feel about the latter. A 50%+ crit rate on Regrowth was basically the only thing that made Living Seed a viable talent. Now, whether it was worth taking is another argument, but a high crit rate on Regrowth was the only thing that made Living Seed even possible in the first place for a HoT-oriented healer.

What comes to mind most when looking at this is wondering what Ulduar itemization is going to be like. It's possible that there's a lot of leather +spellpower and +crit gear coming up that would have made a glyphed Regrowth one of the most insanely overpowered spells of all time. Because there's some bleed-through between Balance and Restoration gear right now, Restos have become accustomed to seeing +crit pop up fairly regularly even on their tier set, and the scaling of that on Tier 8 gear in addition to raid buffs might have made not critting on a Regrowth almost impossible. So, while it's a nerf, it'll allow Resto to scale better with +crit, although it's kind of a pain that we don't get any other bonuses from crit like Priests and Shamans do -- and for Restos without access to raid gear with heavy stat allocation toward +crit, the Regrowth nerf is a just a flat-out nerf, period.

Between Nature's Bounty and Glyph of Nourish (see below), I would also expect to be using Nourish a bit more frequently, and Living Seed's getting a substantial buff, so eh.

INTENSITY: Now allows 17/33/50% of mana regeneration to continue while casting (previously 10/20/30%).

Seems like a buff on the outside, but Spirit's being heavily nerfed to reduce the Oo5s mana regeneration. I'll actually have an article coming on this soon because this is a pretty damn big change for Priests and Druids who are used to relying on the 5-second rule. This will additionally have an effect on Balance, so stay tuned.


GLYPH OF REBIRTH: Players resurrected by Rebirth are returned to life with 100% health. (Old: Increases the amount of health on a character brought back to life via Rebirth by 100%.)

This is a substantial improvement on the current glyph, but whether or not you'll find it useful is going to depend on your individual circumstances. A Druid of any spec in a competitive raiding guild may find themselves called upon to Rebirth as much as possible in order to keep attempts at progression content going. Of course, we don't know what the fights in Ulduar are going to be like, but if we see predictable raid damage on the level of, say, Sapphiron or Kel'Thuzad, the glyph will make it substantially safer to battle-rez someone without losing them to AoE a moment after.

GLYPH OF STARFALL: Reduces the cooldown of Starfall by 90 sec. (Old: Increases the duration of Starfall by 2 sec).

Eh. Starfall right now is... not that great, and one of the most routinely ignored talents in a PvE Balance build. Now that it no longer has a chance to proc stuns, it's also not quite as useful (and by useful, I mean overpowered) in PvP. However, it is extremely useful as a damage ability that's essentially fire-and-forget while you've got melee on you. How useful is the reduced cooldown? How long do your arena matches typically last? Probably worth picking up if you're Balance for arena.

GLYPH OF BERSERK (NEW): Increases the duration of Berserk by 5 seconds.

Hrm. That's pretty nice for both Bear and Cat, especially because one of the Bear's weaknesses as a tank is a lack of burst AoE threat outside of Berserk. It should also provide a nice DPS boost for kitties.

GLYPH OF WILD GROWTH (NEW): Wild Growth now affects up to 6 targets.

This is similar to existing glyphs for Shamans and Priests increasing the number of targets healed by Chain Heal and Circle of Healing respectively. It's a welcome addition to a Resto Druid's arsenal, especially if you're typically on raid healing duty. If you do mostly 5-man content, you can safely consider this glyph superfluous, as Wild Growth already hits up to 5 people.

GLYPH OF NOURISH (NEW): Your Nourish heals an additional 6% for each of your heal over time effects present on the target.

Between this, recent buffs, and the change to Improved Regrowth, they are really pushing Nourish as more of a main-line healing spell. I'm going to have to dig out my calculator soon and try to see how much closer this gets Nourish to a glyphed Regrowth assuming HoT's already present on the target. At the moment, I'm not sure whether this stacks with the Tier 7 4-piece set bonus.

GLYPH OF SAVAGE ROAR (NEW): Your Savage Roar ability grants an additional 6% bonus damage done.

Interesting. This, Glyph of Rip, and Glyph of Berserk are going to be the three required Cat glyphs for maximum DPS builds, particularly if you've got an Arms Warrior in your raid applying Trauma (removing the need to Mangle), but it is a sign that Bear and Cat builds and damage are moving farther and farther apart.

GLYPH OF TYPHOON (NEW): Reduces the cooldown of your Typhoon spell by 3 seconds.

Another glyph that seems intended for Balance PvP, but probably a bit more useful than Glyph of Starfall.

GLYPH OF BARKSKIN (NEW): Reduces the chance you'll be critically hit by melee attacks by 1 to 0% while Barkskin is active.

This and the new Improved Barkskin talent in the Restoration tree seem aimed at shoring up Resto's abysmal performance so far in Wrath arena (saw that coming!), although the glyph can obviously be put to good use for anyone's PvP sec. 1% crit reduction is worth an extra 75 resilience at 80. This might be helpful until you get resilience-capped (if that's going to be possible without horribly gimping yourself in Season 6 gear, of course).

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