Shaping Up: Patch 5.4 PTR

Within the last few weeks patch 5.4 PTR has become available, and there’s a large assortment of Druid changes to pay attention to. The other big news, of course, is Flex Raiding which should prove to be a very interesting change, not only for casual and experienced raiders, but also to see if it will bring back some of the lost subscribers.

There’s still a lot of room for changes to 5.4, but here is a run-down of the current state of planned changes relating to Feral Druids, complimented by my fascinating commentary:

  • Cyclone no longer has a 20-second cooldown for Feral Druids.
  • Predatory Swiftness no longer has a chance to make Cyclone instant, free, and castable in all forms.

Basically a PvP change. Instant Cyclone has been a distinctive Feral trait for a long time now in arena, and you could argue many a Feral Druid was invited to a team for this ability. What’s really changed since WotLK and Cataclysm, however, is that Feral no longer suffered a GCD penalty for having to shift out of form to cast this come MoP.

A 20 second cooldown was chosen to try and combat instant ‘clones, but Blizzard now seems to have caved in to pressure from some experienced Ferals, and merely made it only castable out of form, rather than instant casts, so that the druid has to make the decision when and where to attempt to hard cast, rather than merely cycling instant ‘clones on enemy targets. As I understand it, a change such as this is more likely to hurt inexperienced PvP Ferals (like myself) but hinder experienced PvP Ferals much less. All up it should make using cyclone less clunky, though there are a lot of people asking that it still be castable in form to avoid the wasted GCDs from shifting, which we’re the only class that has to deal with. I would moderate this a little by asserting that we have more CC options than most classes, but one being only usable against our own class.

  • Faerie Fire now has a duration of 20 seconds while in PvP combat (down from 40 seconds).

Strangely enough, this is actually to the benefit of Feral druids, as we’re the only stealth class without a way to dispel this from ourselves (excepting Resto of course). I can’t state enough how annoying this is to still have on you after you’re out of combat with another druid, so the duration change is quite welcome. Now if only DK diseases would go the same way…

  • Innervate now causes the target to gain mana equal to 50% of the casting Druid’s Spirit every second for 10 seconds. The total mana gained from this ability can never be less than 8% of the casting Druid’s maximum mana, and the amount gained is unaffected by Mana Tide Totem.

Got to love it when you complain that Feral Innervate is useless, so Blizzard goes ahead and makes it more useless. Since Feral has basically baseline spirit, casting this will obviously go for the second condition, which is 8% of your mana. Currently you’d give 10% of your mana, so it doesn’t really make much difference, just makes it slightly more useless than before.

It would be really nice to have some actual use out of this ability as it costs some dps uptime to provide utility to the raid, and since all mana pools are the same for casters/healers (300k) I don’t think that it would be too much to ask for the receiver to receive 8% of their mana pool. I’m not really sure why it retains this condition on it, when Moonkin have it too (and as I understand probably don’t need to use it on themselves), so why not just make it, as all this condition does is make it useless for Feral and Guardian but have some use for Balance.

  • Dream of Cenarius has been completely redesigned to reduce complexity and increase usability, but maintain the spirit of the effects. Benefits now vary by specialization.
  • Feral: Increases the amount healed by Healing Touch by 20%. Casting Healing Touch increases the damage for the Druid’s next two melee abilities by 25%. causes the Druid’s next Rip to deal 15% increased damage.

Thankfully, this has been reverted back after the awfully conceived state it was going to be changed to for a while after much pleading and reasoning on the Forums. However, the healing increase nerf has remained (PTR 20%, 30% on live). I don’t really understand the angle they’re taking by nerfing the healing amount.. it’s quite inconsequential on live, even though it is a nice heal but I’d say the vast majority of mine are overhealing even when I use my mouseover macro. As I understand, very few PvP ferals take this talent except maybe for 2s without a healer (?), so it’s hard to argue that feral is able to do too much healing in an arena, especially compared to Heart of the Wild. Mind you, with instant cyclone gone, the majority of PS procs in an arena are probably going to HT anyway, so it may be preemptive.

If the heal is not perceived too powerful for PvP, there’s really no reason to reduce the amount. Actually, you’d be able to make a good case for increasing it a little, to make up for the lesser utility compared to HotW.

Given that, from what I understand of current sims, DoC isn’t really that far ahead of HotW anymore, I think that the value of DoC could probably be nudged up a few percent, probably to 30%. A lot of ferals are feeling forced to take HotW for raid cooldowns, and I think that a little more damage incentive for DoC would be a good thing, but I know a lot of people who think DoC is too complex would vehemently beg to differ.

  • Force of Nature Treant summoned by the Feral version of this talent will now cast Entangling Roots instead of Bash.

Still probably not worth using because of the poor AI, but this seems like a minor nerf for PvP.

  • Mass Entanglement no longer has a limit on the number of targets that could be affected, up from 5.

Does anyone even use this talent? Maybe for RBGs.

  • Nature’s Swiftness is no longer a talent, and is now an ability learned by Restoration Druids at level 30.

This is an indirect nerf to Dream of Cenarius, as it was pretty much a mandatory spec choice if you took DoC. Ironically, in Blizzards plans to make DoC less complicated (and thus their reasoning for planning to change DoC to a 15% buff on Rip only) they basically made it more complicated anyway by removing this talent. It means that it’ll be that much harder to keep up a DoC buffed Rip.

The reason for this of course, is PvP based (what a surprise!). Instant CC with this talent was just too good. Now, if you just took Cyclone off the list of spells it will instant cast, you’ve solved most of the issues with this talent. Or better yet, make it only work for Rebirth and Healing Touch for non-Restoration specs, but still make it baseline. If however, this goes live, Feral will need some other way to proc DoC on demand to buff more Rips, especially on the pull. An on-use option for the talent itself would work quite nicely.

  • Ysera’s Gift, a new talent healing the Druid for 5% of their maximum health every 5 seconds. If the Druid is at full health, it will heal the most injured friendly target nearby instead. This talent fills the spot vacated by Nature’s Swiftness.

Pretty meh. Acts just like Leader of the Pack, unless you are full health which makes it a smart heal. Kinda good if you’re really lazy. Even so, 5% health every 5 seconds is pretty shit. I’ll probably be going back to Renewal as my OH SHIT button, but I’ll definitely miss NS + Rebirth for when I just don’t have time to hardcast.

  • Glyph of Ferocious Bite now causes Ferocious Bite to heal the Druid for 2% of their maximum health for each 10 Energy used (up from 1%).
  • Glyph of Pounce now increases the range of Pounce by 8 yards (up from 3 yards.
  • Glyph of Skull Bash now increases the duration of Skull Bash’s interrupt by 2 seconds, and increasing the cooldown by 5 seconds (down from a 4 second interrupt and 10 second increase to cooldown).

Glyph of Ferocious Bite: adds to an already rather poor heal and as a % doesn’t receive a bonus from Glyph of Cat form. @ 25 energy FB (assuming you haven’t consumed any extra) 2.5 x 10 energy, 2.5 x 2% health at around 500k health buffed, for what, 25k heal? Even if my math is off, it’s still a very small heal, but may be worth it in some cases where any extra healing is very important. To provide a contrast – PS is available after every 5 combo finisher (not just FB) and heals for ~80k+ and can crit. But despite a few exceptions, this glyph wouldn’t be worth it, especially compared to say, glyph of survival instincts for predictable short duration high damage (like Quills on Ji’Kun). Mostly though, because we only have one usable glyph spot. I’m forever surprised that this receives interest for being improved, when the problems of us having 2 mandatory glyphs for raiding remains unchanged. Either Savage Roar or Cat Form glyphs being made baseline would help a lot more than tweaking other glyphs.

Glyph of Pounce sounds good, but still is plagued by the same problems as other glyphs – with only one slot to use this one will likely get passed up in PvP for something like Barkskin or sacrificing Savage Roar to pick it up.

Skull Bash probably deserved a small nerf; if you’re blessed with good latency and fast reflexes, it seems a very strong glyph against healers. Again, you have to sacrifice something very good to pick up either of these two glyphs for PvP.

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One thought on “Shaping Up: Patch 5.4 PTR

  1. I called it in a few blogs ago that NS would go baseline for resto. I also though it would go baseline for boomkin, time will tell.

    I really don’t like that talent that replaces NS. It basically overlaps with Leader of the Pack, which, alone with Innervate, really need to be redesigned. They both have the potential to become powerful raid cool downs. Innervate really annoys me because I can’t heal myself to full without going OOM. Even if I use Innervate, the mana return is so low that I might get one or 2 extra heals which still doesn’t get me to full HP.

    It breaks the norm that the healing from the Glyph of FB isn’t affected by the Glyph of Cat Form. It seems out of character. FB has situational usage, I find it hard to believe that if it was affected by Glyph of Cat Form, that it would be over powered. Just a bone of contention with me 😡

    Glad they kept DoC like it was for Ferals. I’m kinda disappointed that Druid’s didn’t recieve anything similar to the other hybrid classes i.e. a talent that does damage and healing at the same time like Execution Sentence or Halo. All Druid spells require you to do something to trigger something else, not two things at once. Another pet peeve of mine.

    I think overall, Druids have been given the short end of the stick, again. Bandaid fixes, acknowledgement of issues (especially resto) yet little improvements. Suppose we will have to wait til 5.4 is live to pass final judgement.

    ~Elamari

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