|Crab on a Tricycle
Watch your step this morning as there’s blue goo everywhere. Ghostcrawler made several post in the Druid forums yesterday, and it’s likely that he’s “making the rounds” after the developers’ recent in-depth look at Retribution and Holy Paladins. As usual, here’s a summary of what was discussed and my thoughts on each point.
- Druids are not “Fill in the Gap” Healers
- Druids Need a Fair Chance at Visual Improvement
- Ghostcrawler Responds to Feral Concerns
- On the Subject of Balance DPS QQ
- Infected Wounds’ Snare Effect Can be Resisted
Beta tester Flynx of Murmur quotes Ghostcrawler for having said that:
Druids have better single-target and AE heals now, but the single-target spells aren’t as good as the paladin ones and the AE isn’t as good as a shaman or priest. They are just there to fill in the gaps. Paladins got Beacon of Light, Holy Shock and things like Infusion of Light to also fill those gaps. The question asked was what if those aren’t sufficient, and my reply was we will buff them or add new spells.
He understandably wanted to know if the developers’ intention is truly for Restoration Druids to simply “fill in the gaps” left by other healers. There is some hemming and hawing about whether the quote has been taken out of context, but fortunately Ghostcrawler himself chimed in on the thread to clarify what he was trying to say:
In our minds, your go-to spells when healing anything bigger than a 5-player group are Rejuvenation, Regrowth and Lifebloom. You are probably not benefiting your raid the most if you are chaining Healing Touch on the tank while the Paladin is trying to keep everyone up with Beacon of Light.
Healing Touch, Swiftmend and Wild Growth are all very useful spells. But they are intended to be used in smaller group or when something unusual happens in a raid. If the entire group takes a lot of damage at once, that’s a good time for Wild Growth. If a melee DPS class is very wounded, and you don’t have time for the bloom and Swiftmend is on cooldown, go for the Healing Touch.
If any class is the “fill in the gap” healer, it’s the Holy Priest. Their strength is in versatility – they have single-target heals, group heals, instant heals and HoTs. The standard (but by no means only) way to heal a raid is to have a Holy Paladin on the tank along with a Resto Druid, have a Resto Shammy AE heal the group, and then put the Holy Priest wherever you need them. We are also trying to get the Disc Priest into a role similar to the Paladin, but based more around damage avoidance than efficient, quick heals.
That’s comforting to know, though I’d be hesitant to classify Priests as “fill in the gaps” healers unless it was in the most positive light possible. In other words, Priests can fill in any gap because they can essentially do everything, almost as well or better than any other healer. Of course, the strength of Circle of Healing is such that you do lose out on a bit of flexibility in terms of assigning them a task other than AE healing on any fight where there’s a considerable amount of splash damage.
Interestingly, Ghostcrawler doesn’t even mention our new level 80 spell, Nourish, a fact that’s seized upon by Arenis of Lich King (US) who inquires, “Is there any acknowledgment among the Devs [that] it is a pretty redundant heal? I mean why does any class need 3 direct heals that heal for basically the same amount with basically the same cast times?” Ghostcrawler graciously responds to Arenis’ question:
Nourish is supposed to be a Flash Heal – fast but expensive. It may be too fine a line for a class that already has Swiftmend and a (much improved) Regrowth.
This is something that has been said repeatedly, both by players and developers, almost as soon as the initial period of “well, what does THIS do?” wore off. So why is it still there? I don’t know how you feel, but I’m personally not looking forward to choosing between two direct heals and a third direct heal plus HoT. The spell made some kind of sense when Healing Touch was still disallowed in Tree of Life (giving us some kind of direct heal), but even then it’s HPS and HPM were pretty divergent from that of an unglyphed Healing Touch. Many Restoration and Balance Druids would like to see the spell scrapped in exchange for a new Balance ability, something that would benefit both specs. As time goes on, however, this looks less and less likely.
Responding to a beta tester’s complaint that Druids are tired of the same old form visuals, Ghostcrawler chimes in with a very hopeful response:
New art for forms, customization per form, and even the possibility of showing some gear in a form is all stuff we are talking about. When we have a firm plan we’re ready to unveil, I’m sure you’ll hear about it.
|Bubble Crab Meat
Great news, of course, but Feral Druids aren’t the only ones who need a visual revamp. Trees also use a model that was in the game at release. You can find it in the model viewer under “Rotten Broccoli.” Left up to me, I’d request new art for forms with optional customization based on the cumulative item levels of your gear. Basically, aesthetic points that you could spend on buying new features. Of course, this begs the question of what happens when you take all your armor off or happen to downgrade an item in terms of item level, but that’s why Blizzard gets my $15/month – to figure out answers to pressing questions like these!
And how. Ghostcrawler took the time to respond to a numbered list of Feral concerns put forth by beta tester Xaamau of Lich King (US):
Q: Feral Mana Pools are very limited, is there a planned fix for this?
A: It’s something we are still looking at. The way mana regens now when you’re in a form feels like it’s enough to let you occasionally use that mana for something. We think you will probably still go dry quickly if you’re healing a lot (which ultimately isn’t something we want Feral to do a lot) or if you’re chain shapeshifting (which is also something we don’t want you ideally doing a lot, but recognize sometimes you need to – dealing with a Frost mage perhaps).
So essentially, only Restoration and Balance Druids are able to shapeshift a lot because they have the larger mana pools to sustain it. Of course, their functionality (re: their ability to heal or DPS) draws on the same limited resource, so there is a tradeoff. Nonetheless, the flexibility of being able to change roles (CC, high armor, stealth, healing, DPS) is one of the things that has made Resto PvP so strong. I can see why they’re hesitant to give Ferals the same advantages.
Q: Protector of the Pack limitation mechanic – not very fun, what was the thinking behind this and can the limitation be removed?
A: I’ve avoided this debate for a long time because it seems to really, really upset people that they can’t do something they really, really want to do in a very niche case. Bear isn’t designed to be something you run around solo to kill things in, and even if you want to do so anyway, your damage reduction shouldn’t be a big deal. It’s designed as a tanking talent and “solo tanking” is sort of nonsensical. Bear itself works fine without it, and in fact you can even tank just fine without it as long as you aren’t doing progression raiding. (If it affected your DPS or something, I’d be a lot more convinced.)
My take on it is that the people who hate the limitation on the talent just hate the idea of the limitation, not for how it actually limits them (which is still a totally valid way to feel). It would be similar if the talent said “You gain damage reduction but only while wearing a ridiculous green hat.” It is in there just for flavor, but it has been controversial enough that we have talked about removing it. I’m not sure if we will yet, but I believe we understand your concerns.
The concern here might be that a Feral would have too much armor in small-scale Arenas (they’ll still get the bonus in 5s, though, and it doesn’t drop as group members are killed). Runycat provides a more detailed write up regarding this limitation in her latest article, Latest Blue Talks Druid Tanks: Not So Homo(genized).
Q: Feral talent point usage in Resto tree means we have to focus too many points on a non-Feral tree, also very difficult to get all the “tanking” talents offered, no room for PvP choices in a tanking build – is this intended?
We designed the new Feral tree with Omen [of Clarity] as a trade-off. If we ever moved Omen around, we would also juggle Feral talents. We don’t want you to be able to get all Feral talents and OoC. You can be a good Bear, good Cat, get good PvP talents or get Omen. But you can’t do it all with one build.
That seems like way too many tradeoffs to have to make. You can either be good at Bear, Cat, PvP, or get Omen of Clarity but no two of the above?
Q: Swipe / Thorns combo (360′) Aoe. Is it possible to get a 360′ upgrade to our bear form AoE ability?
We don’t think too many Druids are having trouble using Swipe in its new form. A little difference among class abilities that are otherwise very similar is probably good for the game.
Ferals have recently complained that all tanks other than Druids have access to a 360-degree AoE ability, while Swipe remains a frontal cone. We wouldn’t be Druids anymore if we got something awesome that didn’t have an arbitrary limitation to make it worse than our counterparts, right? Expect it to become 360 degrees in the Emerald Dream expansion.
Q: Feral Itemization issue 1: Too much Armor on some earlier tanking weapons compared to 25-man Naxx gear is this intended?
Do you mean you’re going to keep using the older weapon instead of the Naxx bear staff?
Q: Feral Itemization issue 2: Not enough "Armor" trinkets in game making them invaluable to Druids, basically once you have these trinkets you will not grab anything else unless you reach armor cap. Can more armor trinkets be added, with different usage stats?
My suspicion is you are still over-valuing armor compared to other defensive stats. I realize you don’t want block or parry but that doesn’t mean it’s armor or nothing.
Q: Feral Itemization issue 3: Tanking gear – PVP gear seems to be better for tanking, more Stamina, why is this the case?
PvP gear pays a lot more of its item budget on resilience than it did in BC so you’re going to be giving up something else (like Agi) to use it. Also make sure you are comparing PvP gear to PvE gear of the same item level.
I’ve heard many complaints that the PvP gear is better for Ferals than the equivalent PvE gear because it still has green armor. It seems obvious that, if PvP is the way to get the highest armor values in PvE, Druids are going to PvP to pursue it. It almost sounds like they’re arbitrarily punishing Druids who do this, though, with more expensive Resilience (which no longer grants any benefit in PvE) and lower auxiliary stats as a result. The major contributor to the decision to eliminate bonus Armor was probably the desire to streamline gear between Druids and Rogues (who would complain if itemization points that could have otherwise been applied toward DPS stats were instead spent on augmenting Armor values). Later in the same thread, Ghostcrawler comments about a player-proposed gear comparison between the [Hateful Gladiator’s Dragonhide Robes] and the [Heroes’ Dreamwalker Raiments], both item level 200:
Okay, yes I have seen these examples before. If you are willing to give up 42 AP and 35 Exp (which is a nominal mitigation stat), then you can increase your health by 130 (plus modifiers). I don’t predict many tanks will take that trade, but we’ll see. I am sure there are other situations in which you could take an even lower item level that grants you more Stam than that. You are giving up an awful lot of threat stats though. If we start getting a lot of reports about how bears can’t hold aggro, I’m going to immediately look to see if they are wearing Resilience gear.
So essentially, Ghostcrawler is re-emphasizing the idea that Druids are expected to avoid PvP gear or see their threat generation take a noticeable hit. This seems to be confirmed Kalon of ThinkTank’s recent post, Rumors of My Bad Threat may have been Greatly Exagerrated.
Q: Kitty AoE – Kitty form basically has no AoE ability, which limits damage output in multiple mob situations – we would have to switch to bear / caster which would mean taking a chance on pulling aggro or doing minimal damage with hurricane. Are there plans to add kitty form AoE?
Hurricane and Swipe do pretty good AE, certainly better than rogues have (on which cat was modeled).
It’s easy to say that neither Rogues or Cats should be doing “good” AoE damage and that they should have better single-target damage to compensate. However, in practice, this philosophy is flawed since most boss encounters end up being single-target damage fests. If Rogues and Cats were that much better single-target DPS, you’d end up stacking your raid with melee DPS. On the other hand, without any AoE to speak of, Rogues and Cats will find it difficult to remain competitive on many trash fights and even a few boss encounters where AoE can be helpful. It’s a delicate balancing act, and I don’t envy Blizzard for having to manage it.
Q. Cat charge being linked to Bear charge. – Why is this the intended mechanic for these two attacks?
We think this would encourage quickly shifting from one form to another, which is something we have actually taken pains to discourage (RIP powershifting).
Ghostcrawler goes on to elaborate on this point by responding to complaints about being forced to remain in the same form for extended periods of time:
No, that’s not exactly it. Using cat in short bursts is awesome. Shifting out of feral to Innervate or Rebirth is cool, even if you immediately go feral again. Where it starts to cross the line is being a bear, going cat to hit a button, then going back to bear to benefit from the cat button. Doing feral charge bear, shifting and doing feral charge cat is not what we want. Anything that starts to feel like the old powershifting (changing just to generate mana) is what we’re trying to avoid.
If it helps, think about it this way: shifting once in a small window is cool. Shifting several times in a small window is less cool.
RIP powershifting, indeed. Anything that discourages shapeshifting into different roles is going to cost Druids some of the versatility that would make them strong in PvP. I’d personally love to see a talent or talent addition that affords Ferals an additional mana discount for shapeshifting directly from Bear to Cat or Cat to Bear, but I suspect that by more or less tying you to one form or the other, they feel it’s safer to make each individual form more potent than they could otherwise. They are, in effect, de-hybridizing us in an effort to ensure we remain competitive.
Q. Berserk – The current version of Berserk feels weak now that the immunity to all snares has been removed, and its cooldown is too long. – Is there any way the snares functionality of berserk can be restored?
We thought it was too good if it broke all snares and granted such a great DPS increase.
Q. Savage Roar – Is it possible to have it persist through shifting?
Same answer. We don’t want to add anything else to the class that encourages you to say go cat, use an ability, then go back to bear. Changing forms is cool. Changing forms to buff yourself in one form then going to another isn’t what we’re going for. If you’re a cat and shift to humanoid to heal or decurse or bear to survive when being attacked – that’s cool and what the Feral design is all about. It’s when you start to chain several shifts together that we get uncomfortable.
I don’t really feel qualified to speak to this topic as I’ve never PvPed as a Feral, but it seems like Ferals would like to include a snare break on Berserk to avoid having to spend the mana to shift and break snares. I can understand wanting to discourage shifting into a form for a specific ability and then shifting back to the form you’re using 95% of the time. This was one of the problems with Restoration PvP and Feral Charge and is the reason the ability was moved so much further down the Feral tree.
The whole idea of Druids losing some of their hybrid nature so that we’re more effective in whatever role we choose is really enforced by a comment that Ghostcrawler goes on to make:
We considered a model where the Druid was the jack of all trades and master of all, but decided that might cause problems.
|A Crab in the Beach
In a world (of Warcraft) where players have access to 71 talent points with which to specialize their characters, there is an ever-growing risk that a “jack of all trades” will constantly be eschewed for specialist classes instead. This is less of a concern in 10-man raid instances where Druids will undoubtedly shine, and dual-specs will practically make everyone hybrids to some degree, but I’m not surprised to see an increased emphasis on choosing your role carefully. Yes, Ferals have lost the ability to switch between Bear and Cat in the middle of an encounter and perform at similar levels of effectiveness, but the dual spec should still allow them to switch between the two on an encounter basis, and with a lessened (but not eliminated) need to maintain two independent sets of gear. This can be seen in direct parallel to Restoration/Balance dual-speccers who can also function reasonably well in their off spec by using the gear associated with their main spec.
For a Feral’s perspective of the above quotes, check out Big Bear Butt’s recent post, Ghostcrawler Shares Some Shifty Thoughts.
Respected beta tester Lisana of Northrend (US) posted an articulate and intelligent response to the recent QQ that’s been going on about Moonkin PvE DPS. At the risk of over-simplifying her lengthy post, she states that
- Measurements of Balance DPS will vary widely due to the variability of the Eclipse talent.
- While some meters show Moonkin dominating other players in terms of DPS output, there are many that do not.
- Performing well as a Moonkin requires considerable skill and – in some cases – the use of addons to help manage Eclipse procs.
- Moonkin are not overpowered in level 80 PvP, partially because shifting out to access healing costs them a great deal of survivability and other Moonkin-specific benefits (armor, spell casting interruption prevention, spell haste procs, higher crit chance).
Ghostcrawler responds to Lisana’s post with an explanation of how Blizzard tries to objectively measure a class’s DPS output:
I’m not sure which quote you’re referring to, but we measure DPS at a point in time and over the course of several minutes (and even longer if it looks like a caster might run out of mana). For PvP we obviously focus a lot more on the short-term DPS.
Moonkin DPSdoes seem to be pretty high right now on Live, but we believe that is partially an artifact of so many groups AE’ing their way through the nerfed raid content (and Hurricane doing serious damage now). We’ll have to see what the Starfire + Wrath numbers look like at 80 compared to our own testing.
So it sounds like they aren’t allowing themselves to be overwhelmed by player QQ and that Moonkin are actually benefitting from the same thing that’s hurting Restoration Druids: content that’s too easy and allows for the use of abilities that would otherwise be too inefficient or risky. While Restoration Druids are seeing their HoTs overwritten by massive and expensive AoE heal spam, Moonkin are using massive and expensive AoE Hurricane spam they might otherwise avoid. Interesting!
Beta tester Zargantor of Murmur (US) asks, “I have noticed infected wounds missing when the attack itself lands. It seems like they land as separate attacks with separate chances to hit versus automatically applying with the attacks they are suppose to hit with. Has anyone else noticed this?” Ghostcrawler responds to confirm that this is, in fact, intended as:
Infected Wounds is a disease, so it can fail, which shows up as a miss in combat logs. Stacking hit should fix the problem if it seems to happen a lot. Poisons have the same issue.
So PvPers shouldn’t discount +Hit! (Not that you were going to anyway, right?)