Okay, after perusing the Blizzard ToS and EULA, I think that it is safe to say that I can discuss rumored unreleased alpha content, but I will comply with any take-down notices that I receive within reason. That being said, there are a lot of new abilities and talents that wikidot has posted that need to be discussed.

Let me start with the most hopeful changes I have see in the alpha leaks. First, there is the 51 point feral talent "Berserk" which "Reduces the energy cost of your Cat form abilities by 50% while in Cat form (lasts 15 seconds, 5 min cd), and increases your total health by 30% and causes your Mangle (Bear) and Maul abilities hit up to 3 maximum targets while in Bear form or Dire Bear form. Berserk instantly clears all effects which cause loss of control of your character, and makes you immune to them for the duration. Lasts 20 sec, 2 min cd." Feral druids have been complaining about the fact that while our damage output is good, we really do need a cooldown-based ability to help us dish out some burst damage to be competitive with other melee classes (most notably: rogues). As well as decent burst damage (from reducing the cost of all our abilities), we also get an opportunity to use our abilities via "The Beast Within" mechanics that keep us from getting rooted/stunned/snared/cc'd. This will definitely help us apply pressure for a short burst.

Second, the 45 point talent is subtle. I must have looked at the changes 100 times since returning from my vacation and had not noticed it until today. "Primal Aggression - Increases damage done by your Maul and Shred attacks on bleeding targets by 2/4/6/8/10%, and increases the critical strike chance of your Ferocious Bite ability on bleeding targets by 10/20/30/40/50%." The ferocious bite change is the one I am referring to, though the added 10% multiplier on shred is also really good and should not be overlooked. The problem with ferocious bite is, and has always been, that it takes all your energy to use it. It is decent damage, to be sure, but that is all the burst one could do for a couple ticks. Then I saw that another change was to make the energy consumption of FB scale with attack power. "Well," I thought, "that's good, at least I can put a little more burst out when I actually use FB every now and then in BGs." However, the best change was the Tiger's Fury was put on a 30 second cd at no energy cost... which confused me until I saw the talent "King of the Jungle (new) - While Enraged in Bear Form or Dire Bear Form, your damage is increased by 5/10/15%, and your Tiger's Fury ability also instantly restores 20/40/60 energy."

After a bit of thinking, I sort of pieced the combo together like this: get 3 combo points, use mangle, use rake. Now you have 5 combo points, mangle, and a bleed up on your opponent. Pop Berserk and it's time for Ferocious Bite (which will have >70% crit rate in really REALLY crappy gear and above 90% in great gear, not to mention that it will cost half as much and therefore give more damage as it eats the remaining energy from you), then use Tiger's Fury to instantly generate 60 energy, and shred 3-4 times (WITHOUT any OOC procs at all; each shred will cost 21 energy) without worry of being cc'd. Additionally, your shred will be applying the Infected Wounds debuff that will slow the enemy's movement and attack speed to 50% (when fully stacked). Essentially, the top-tier feral abilities REALLY give feral druids some amazing burst potential.

Another addition (yes, I know I started the conversation with "first" and should hit "second" some time... let's give up the counting game and just start listing them, shall we?) that aught to really help ferals control battles a little bit better is an ability called Lockjaw, which, for all intents and purposes, is Kidney Shot for ferals. Also, Predatory Instincts has been changed from an ability that scales your attack power with your level (lawl... end game uselessness at its best) to a talent that scales your attack power with your level and the attack power on your equipped weapon (hmm... that means that weapons will actually scale for ferals... interesting... that makes us like more warriors/rogues of 4 years ago which is a step in the right direction).

Kalgan has stated that the development is going to lean away from gear that is really class/spec specific. Kalgan specifically mentioned that pure damage gear (something like +80 shadow damage) would be removed in favor of damage/healing gear, which is a bit odd for Kalgan, as he is one of the premier min/max proponents and this change would make off-spec'd dps classes (shadow priests, elemental shamangs, balance druids, etc) more accepted as their talents will make their damage/healing gear even better than the gear by itself. Another rumor circulating is that healing gear will be done away with in favor of damage/healing gear as well, but the healing coefficients will be improved dramatically by talents in the healing trees. This is, again, catering more towards the hybrid classes, if the changes are indeed going to go through this way. The interesting twist on the matter is that Nurturing Instinct has been nerfed from 100% agi goes to +healing to 70% agi goes to +healing. My assumption here is that the feral gear is no longer going to have +healing on it, but will be stacked with agi and will be the same as the rogue gear, and if that is true, then we will be agi machines and therefore will need less to get the same bonus from Nurturing Instinct.

Additionally, one more released ability past 70 for druids (the first being Lockjaw... though the information on Lockjaw is pretty scarce at the moment) is Nourish, a trained heal. "Nourish (Rank 1) - 600 mana, 1.5 second cast. Heals a friendly target for 1550 to 1800. Heals for an additional 387 to 450 if Rejuvenation is on the target." This will be helpful for ferals, though I think that it will be more suited for Balance and less for resto (resto likes the instant heals most the time). It will likely be nice for grinding and perhaps small instance healing, but I doubt it will be the best heal even though it has a really low cost.

One sad thing for druids is in our history. When The Burning Crusade was released, each class got five new abilities trained. For instance, rogues got 1) shiv, 2) deadly throw, 3) anesthetic poison, 4) envenom, and 5) cloak of shadows. While many rogues would argue that anesthetic poison is useless, they got 4 other abilities that were awesome. Likewise, warriors got 1) intervene, 2) spell reflect, 3) commanding shout, 4) victory rush, and 5) that ability that lets warriors retain some rage when they switch stances that I cannot remember the name of or find on WoWhead. Anyway, the point is that everyone got five, if not amazing at least, useful abilities.

Everyone except druids, that is. 1) Lifebloom (amazing), 2) maim (good... not amazing... we definitely needed it), 3) cyclone (amazing), 4) lacerate (good for tanking... I guess), and 5) 1000 gold. Oh, sorry that last one was actually flight form, and while being able to instantly transform into a bird and fly (even when falling) strikes me as awesome, other druids were not so convinced and still think we got the shaft on that one. The point, now, is that in the alpha, we are getting a resurrection spell (finally) and people are starting to get worried that it is going to be flight form all over again. "Revive - Returns the spirit to the body, restoring a dead target to life with 1800 health and 1365 mana. Cannot be cast when in combat." While I agree that we evidently needed a rez, giving it to us as one of our abilities seems a bit harsh, and I am sure that it will only feel even more agitating once we see what the final toll for new abilities is for each class. For now, however, I am looking forward hopeful that these (and more) druids changes are on the way.

I'm even looking at shadow priest + feral druid as a viable 2s solution. Spriest+rogue is good right now, so I'm guessing that once we have some burst damage, a snare, and some stuns at our disposal (coupled with spriests being able to "iceblock" and drop snares with fade), that this team might actually make a decent one. Oh well, I am always hopeful until I am disappointed. Only time will tell. I will keep posting back information as it trickles out.

Some things I forgot to mention, but which are so crucial to the viability of ferals in both PvE and PvP scenarios:

  • Omen of Clarity is now a passive effect instead of a self-cast buff.
  • Entangling Roots can now be used indoors (nature's grasp too).
  • Base damage of Maul, Rake and Ravage has been increased.
  • Soothe Animal is now instant cast (lawl).
  • Frenzied Regeneration now only has one rank. Frenzied Regeneration will now restore 0.1% of your max health per rage instead.
  • Feral Charge is now available in Cat Form as well.

Most notable is, obviously, the fact that Omen of Clarity is no longer a buff. Dispelling OoC was the biggest dps drop that druids could sustain in any given fight, so much so that ferals could not fight against shamangs or priests because they would just dispel OoC and cut the feral's dps by about 33% (random testing of long battles shows OoC increases dps by about 33%... not to mention that that could be a free heal or cyclone etc). The proc remains dispellable, but the actual chance to proc is no longer dispellable. REJOICE!!!

Also, entangling roots indoors has been a long time coming buff that restos and balance druids alike need to be viable in PvE scenarios. There are so many times that such druids are turned down for PUGs because of "lack of cc on dps." Also, tanking druids will rejoice in the fact that frenzied regeneration will now scale with hit points. So many amazing (slight) buffs that really have been warranted for a good long time.