I’m going to try my hand at some news / patch notes posts and what better place to start than with the next expansions alpha notes. I will be focusing on the Feral Changes. Since there is such a large volume of information I have split it into two posts. Part 1 covers General Changes, Button Bloat, Buffs and Debuffs and Class Changes. Part 2 will cover Racial Traits, Glyphs, Level 100 Talents and Perks.
Disclaimer – These are notes are in alpha testing and are subject to change. Do not take them as fact or apply them to current game mechanics. Every time you use these out of context Blizzard kills a kitten AND a puppy.
“Agility no longer provides an increased chance to critically strike with melee and ranged attacks or abilities. The base chance to critically strike is now 5% for all classes. There are no longer different chances to critically strike with melee, ranged, and spells. There is a new passive, named Critical Strikes, which increases chance to critically strike by 10%. It is learned by all Rogues, all Hunters, Feral and Guardian Druids, Brewmaster and Windwalker Monks, and Enhancement Shamans.”
The commentary we have heard from the Dev’s thus far is that they want to move away from primary stats as a gearing strategy and focus more on secondaries. These changes to agility are inline with their thinking. The changes with crit are to fix the problems with removing the base values for stats. The plan is what you see on your character sheet is what you get.
“Each point of Agility or Strength now grants 1 Attack Power (down from 2). All other sources of Attack Power now grant half as much as before. Weapon Damage values on all weapons have been reduced by 20%. Attack Power now increases Weapon Damage at a rate of 1 DPS per 3.5 Attack Power (up from 1 DPS per 14 Attack Power). Attack Power, Spell Power, or Weapon Damage now affect the entire healing or damage throughput of player spells.”
Like I said above a lot of this is to do with the removal base values for stats. Weapon damage has been our top stat for this expansion. I’m not sure how these changes will affect our stat priority, I’ll leave that for the theorycrafters. I’m also not sure if the changes to attack and spell power will affect schools of spell damage. This is the reason why the level 100 talent that lets Ferals cast Moonfire was bad – Ferals get a bonus to Nature spells not Arcane spells which is the school Moonfire belongs too. The notes do say “entire” but don’t mention schools. Time will tell.
Strict facing requirements can be frustrating to deal with, especially in hectic Raid combat or PvP environments. In order to ease this frustration, we decided to remove or significantly loosen the facing requirements of all attacks that required the player to be behind their target.
- Druid: Shred no longer requires the Druid to be behind the target.
To be expected. I am going to miss the flavour of Shred but it will be good to not be the only class penalised by another Kolgan/ Ultraxion / Tortos encounter.
We reduced the mana cost of all resurrection spells to 4% of base mana, so that mana isn’t an inhibitor on the Raid or Party’s ability to recover from a wipe. Cast time already functions as the primary cost of these spells. Note that Priests’ Resurrection spell was already at 4% of base mana, so it remains unchanged.
- Druid: Revive, Monk: Resuscitate, Paladin: Redemption, and Shaman: Ancestral Spirit now cost 4% of base mana (down from between 10% and 50%).
This means I wont have to Innervate myself in order to cast only a single Revive. That being said I wont be able to Innervate anymore anyway. See the Button Bloat section below for more information.
- Enrage has been removed.
- Innervate has been removed. Mana costs for Druids have been adjusted accordingly.
- Mangle (Cat Form) has been removed. Mangle (Bear Form) remains unchanged.
- Shred is now available to all Druids.
- Swipe (Bear Form) has been removed. Swipe (Cat Form) remains unchanged.
- Symbiosis has been removed.
In my Warlords of Draenor Wish List I discussed and somewhat predicted some of the changes seen here. Enrage being removed was a surprise initially but understandable given Guardian’s rage generation overhaul. All mana regen abilities have been removed so Innervate follows suit. Called the Mangle / Shred change which leaves us with Symbiosis.
I had planned to dedicate an entire post to why Symbiosis was poorly designed, however I’ll give a brief overview of my thoughts. The problems with Symbiosis include;
- Having to be in a party to use the spell and no benefit when not grouped up. This limited its usage in solo content such as the leveling, Brawler’s Guild, Proving Grounds and soloing old content.
- Initially it had a 6 second cast time. This was just ridiculous.
- The spells gained were very polarising either being completely useless like Death Coil or game breaking in certain encounters, especially when it granted immunities to the Druid like Divine Shield or Dispersion.
- Group size limited choice.
- Not to mention the PVP ramifications which I am not qualified to discuss.
- It was very buggy – not lasting through death as it was meant to, it would get cancelled when ever you or your target changed specs, talents of glyphs, and it was easily forgotten. It is common for some Druids to simply not use it.
It’s only redeeming feature was Soul Swap gained from Warlocks.This gave us Ferals some much needed target swapping capability after the removal of the old Stampede talent. I’m not sad to see it go.
- Cyclone can now be canceled by immunity effects (i.e. Divine Shield, Ice Block, etc.), and can be dispelled by Mass Dispel.
- Disorienting Roar effect now shares Diminishing Returns with other Mesmerize effects.
Cyclone was a special snowflake for so long. This brings it inline with other crowd control spells. No one takes the Disorientating Roar talent so it’s not really important.
BUFFS & DEBUFFS
Weakened Armor and Physical Vulnerability were effectively redundant, both filling the role of increasing Physical damage taken by the target. So, we removed Weakened Armor and widened the availability of Physical Vulnerability a bit. The following abilities no longer apply the Weakened Blows effect.
- Druid: Faerie Fire now applies Physical Vulnerability, increasing Physical damage taken by 4% for 30 seconds.
Just some debuff consolidation. It’s still easy for us to apply the debuff as Feral’s aren’t GCD locked.
Druids have seen a few significant changes. The loss of Symbiosis (see Ability Pruning above) will primarily impact druids’ survival, as many of the abilities received through Symbiosis were defensive cooldowns. To compensate for that change, we buffed Survival Instincts significantly and the ability is now available for all specializations.
- Survival Instincts is now available to all Druid specializations. Survival Instincts now reduces damage taken by 70% (up from 50%) with a 2-minute cooldown (down from 3), and for Feral and Guardian specializations can have up to 2 charges (up from 1).
Holy over-powered buffs Batman! This change seems quite ridiculous at the moment but I’m not complaining. We will have to see what changes are happening with other classes. It may work out to be on par with other class spells like Dispersion or Cloak of Shadows. Still unclear if it will be affected by the glyph – 70% damage reduction on a 1 minute cool down with two charges is insane!
Feral Druids received a few tweaks beyond what’s been mentioned above in Ability Pruning and Facing Requirements. Pounce was buffed significantly, in order to bring it up to par with Ravage. Primal Fury was changed to let it affect area attacks as well. Glyph of Savagery was reworked to better achieve its intended effect.
- Pounce’s damage has been increased by 100%.
- Primal Fury now also grants a combo point for area attacks that critically strike the Druid’s primary target.
- Glyph of Savagery now grants a free 5 combo point Savage Roar when leaving Prowl, instead of allowing Savage Roar to be used with 0 combo points.
Pounce may become our new opener depending on how well it scales with mastery and if the buff is enough. The changes to Primal Fury will help our AOE dps from Swipe which currently only gives a combo point if you are in range of your current target. I’m on the fence about the new Glyph of Savagery. It appears that it would only be useful for the beginning of a fight and no where else as we have no wait to exit combat to reactivate the glyph. Incarnation doesn’t count because it is bad as pointed out in my Soul of the Forest vs Incarnation post.
In addition to the huge info dump the devs have been answering questions on Twitter. One important class change came from Celestalon who said that combo points are now on the Druid rather than on the target.
I’m not a fan of this though it is probably a change for the best. It will help new players and bring the resource inline with Holy Power and Chi.
This post is long enough as it is. I will leave racials, level 100 talents and glyphs for a second post. It looks like the information flood gates have been opened and there is bound to be more info released over the next few days. Be sure to check out Part 2.