Posted by Reygahnci on Tuesday, November 8, 2011
I really wanted to get into discussing the blue post concerning stat points in the future and how to get around the exponential growth problem, but I have resigned myself to finishing what I started (though I also pseudo-promised this would be published Monday and it is in fact Tuesday). Therefore, I ought to finish up talking about the talents as we know them.
Before we can get into the issue of actually picking talents, we need to understand the role which the Feral of MoP will need to play in PvP. By the looks of the talents, Feral has access to some truly amazing utility talents which could potentially net us some truly interesting builds, and if nothing else we will have a wide arsenal of abilities which lay outside the scope of dealing damage. Additionally, we cannot take for granted that which we currently have; with the talent tree toss up coming in MoP, we may end up losing some current talents in favor of ground-shaking balance adjustments - we may not have Predator's Swiftness any longer and therefore may not have the ability to throw out instant Cyclones after finishers.
Why do I say that particularly? Well, if I look at the talent trees directly, I notice that all Druids have access to Nature's Swiftness in the second tier. Further to that, it also increases the duration by 50%, so that Cyclone would last 8 seconds in PvP (9 otherwise) like most other CCs. Again, this is just speculation and should be taken with a grain of salt, but it is important to acknowledge these types of possible caveats so as to not get one's hopes up. Personally, I do not believe that Blizzard will allow Nature's Swiftness to go ahead as-is because an 8s duration instant Cyclone from a Resto Druid would be an atrocity.
Okay, as the title suggests - let's talk turkey!
I find the first tier the most interesting, though not for obvious reasons. I think that every Feral sees the allure of an ability like Displacer Beast; we all have begged for something like this for a LONG time, but the cooldown is much longer than I would have imagined. Again, taking nothing for granted and treading lightly, we may be cautiously optimistic that simply specializing in Feral will innately lower this cooldown somewhat while leaving it as a longer cooldown for Resto/Balance, but I do not know for sure. The truly interesting thing about the first tier is that of the other two abilities, they were something which we had taken entirely as Feral previously - we are accustomed to moving 30% faster while in Cat Form and for the last few months breaking roots and snares when using either Sprint or Stampede. Yes, this tier is the most interesting to me because it implies a lot about the state of talent trees and how Blizzard aims to force choices amongst players in the future. Personally, I am leaning towards Displacer beast simply because of the huge number of things it does - teleports in a random direction 20 yards (quite a distance), removes all periodic damage effects (CloS on steroids), and puts us into prowl for 10 seconds.
Essentially, Displacer Beast is Blink, Cloak of Shadows, and Vanish rolled into one on a 3min CD. This can be used either offensively (again, assuming that we will continue to have access to Feral Charge Cat and it providing a free Ravage after use) or defensively as a get out of jail free card. Its true utility will only be seen in implementation; by this I mean that if we purge all DoT effects, stealth, THEN teleport so as to keep enemies from even GUESSING to where we have gone, then it will truly be an amazing talent (and one which even Restos and Balance druids will likely take). Even if it teleports us, then applies the purge+vanish effect it will still be worth-while, I imagine, but it will give away our "random" positioning which would truly be the strength of the former.
My pick: Displacer Beast
The second tier is interesting in that Nature's Swiftness has been changed to allow for an 8s Cyclone castable in Cat Form every three minutes. This is basically Blind on PCP... there is only one thing in the game that can break Cyclone (another taken-for-granted assumption) and that is the trinket. Most Druid teams essentially fish out trinkets with Cyclone and then use their longer CC-trains on the target when trinket is down. This allows for a longer train, in many cases, but also gives potential to dispels and damage-breaks and the like. However, if Cyclone is now a does-not-break-on-anything Blind which also keeps the target from receiving healing, then it may be worth taking just to set up some extreme CC-trains.
Again, I do not expect Blizz to allow NS to go live as-is... it would truly be too overpowered even at a 3min CD. The other option for Feral is Renewal. Essentially, every 2min I can simply give myself 30% of my hp as a self-heal in case I need a button to survive. I suspect that we will not have access to Survival Instincts any longer in MoP being as the Bear and Cat specializations are being pulled apart at the seam, but I could be wrong. My guess is that Renewal will be the button we press instead of SI when we need to survive a few more seconds, but I could be way off base and maybe we will still have SI in our arsenal (would be great) and this is just another button to press when your healer eats a CC train.
Because Cenarion Ward is a heal and based around spell power, I do not see Ferals picking it up.
My pick: If we do not have Predator's Swiftness anymore, Nature's Swiftness; else Renewal.
The third tier is another amazing tier in terms of interest. Faerie Swarm is basically our Feral Faerie Fire as-is, except there is a tacked on 50% snare thrown into the mix. Now, I have no idea what Blizz is playing at here; it could be that Blizzard is removing Infected Wounds in favor of forcing Ferals to pick up Faerie Swarm and gain a ranged snare on the GCD (a la hamstring + range), but who knows at this point. I suspect (and truly hope) that Infected Wounds remains in the game and Faerie Swarm is simply a snare aimed at helping Balance and Resto, though if Resto has access to a snare, then they would be the only healer with one (as far as I know) and that seems a little bit weird to me. If I were in Blizz's position here, I would be looking to give Balance a ranged snare (a la Slow) and some added utility for mixing with physical damage-dealers, so I would rewrite Faerie Swarm to say "When in Boomkin form, Faerie Swarm also causes a 50% snare for 15 seconds" so that the intention is clear. This would allow Infected Wounds to remain as-is and would give Balance Druids an option for ranged utility and a snare for escape.
Mass Entanglement was something I was truly excited to see until I read the "Cannot be cast while in Bear Form or Cat Form". I do not know why this stipulation is on there, as having a 2s cast AoE root effect would be strong but probably not overpowered, particularly if we are forced to stand still while casting it. Oh well. It looks like it's going to be an area of effect spell like Death and Decay, but then apply Entangling Roots to everyone standing there once it fires. I expect Restos will take this in a heartbeat, but the other option is also interesting.
Typhoon is back! I do not know why this is not simply a staple of the Balance specialization; it has been as long as Typhoon has been. I guess the new staple is Solar Beam, though I would be lying if I said I had not hoped that Solar Beam was going to be one of the new talent choices which Feral could acquire. If Infected Wounds remains in the game for Feral as our snare, then I will definitely be picking up Typhoon. Having played Boomkin for a while during season 8 (for funsies and to get my Arena Master title; Boomer was for 5s while Feral kind of sucked in 5s), I can say that Typhoon is one of those abilities that can entirely change the game, and while Feral is up in people's grills most the time, we occasionally need to peel someone off of Guntir, and Typhoon gives a 6s 50% snare and knocks the target away, and since priests have access (currently; no idea if this will remain in MoP) to an ability which breaks snares, Typhoon is a must-have for a Priest healer on the team. Additionally, Typhoon allows Ferals to cheese some fights on certain maps by knocking a player down and making a match 2v1 or 3v2/1 for a bit, and that advantage is HUGE.
My pick: If we have Infected Wounds, then I will take Typhoon. If we no longer have Infected Wounds as a snare, I have to take Faerie Swarm.
The fourth tier is another one of those tiers which caused me to sit and think for a few minutes. Wild Charge looks like it will likely be the Feral Charge equivalent and while it does not currently have a Cat Form version, I expect it to be the Feral Charge Cat we have come to know and love of late - charge an opponent and allow a Ravage out of stealth with no positional requirement for 8 seconds. However, maybe this is just a utility talent and there will be something else in store for Cat Form and the Feral specialization will have the Feral Charge Cat functionality built into the spec. I cannot know at this time.
Incarnation is, essentially, Shadow Dance on ... I am running out of drugs that make people stronger at this point. It allows the Feral to use abilities which require stealth for 30 seconds AND it allows, during those 30 seconds, for the Feral to use Prowl. The latter portion mentioned here may seem like a non-issue, but recall that being able to use Ravage instead of Shred is a huge dps boost, and having access to a combo-building stun instead of a combo-consuming stun means utility and damage output. I have been asking for a long time to have access to Pounce on a cooldown instead of Maim, and now I apparently have access to such a talent. Although, a three minute cooldown for 30 seconds of crazily increased damage output and control may actually overwhelm my need for Feral Charge... I know... that is how insane this talent is.
Think of it this way: for THIRTY seconds, you are allowed to use Ravage instead of Shred. Shred requires Mangle be applied and a Bleed be applied in order for it to do great damage, then you have to get behind your opponent and start Shredding. It is difficult to get behind an opponent sometimes and getting there while Mangle/Bleeds are applied is even tougher. Ravage, on the other hand, requires you to be behind your opponent for full damage. One would still want to have Mangle and Bleeds applied for additional supplemental damage, but Ravage will do full damage regardless. Additionally, one can use Pounce to stun the target in place for four seconds to line up a few Ravages. However, the kicker is yet to show itself; Ravage costs 60 energy, so it is a bit expensive and cannot really be spammed. That is, unless the Feral has Berserk activated at the same time, then someone could fire off 4 Ravages in a row before becoming energy-starved under normal circumstances. I really do not know how I feel about this talent versus the ability to use Feral Charge Cat, but if FCC is baked into the specialization and Wild Charge does nothing for us, then the choice is a no-brainer.
Force of Nature is unwieldy at present and the damage from the tree posse is less than amazing, but as an honest talent, it may receive some much needed love from the Devs and get an overhaul. Additionally, the talent states that capabilities will vary from specialization to specialization, so it may have some truly interesting abilities to offer Feral once the specifics have been worked out. I will keep my ears open on this one.
My pick: If we have FCC from the specialization, then I will take Incarnation; if Wild Charge ends up replacing FCC, then I think I will likely take Wild Charge, but Incarnation is still on the table if mobility is strong enough without the charge and some dps is required.
The fifth tier is absolutely my favorite tier. This is the CC-tier, if there is such a concept. Demoralizing Roar is essentially an AoE blind that lasts for 4 seconds on anyone within 10 yards of the Druid (which is reasonably large, but not super-large of a radius). Additionally, the talent reads that using this ability would force the Druid INTO Bear Form instead of requiring Bear Form, so it seems like this will truly be accessible for Ferals to use while in Cat Form; maybe this ability is a set-up for Bash on a CC-target (Demo-roar everyone, follow those 4 seconds with a 5s stun in bash on the train, follow that with a cyclone???). Additionally, this is on a 30s CD... this is absolutely bonkers to me being that it is an AoE CC that does not (at present) share diminishing returns with either Cyclone, Stuns, or Roots. I would imagine Restos take a good long look at this one.
Ursol's Vortex is like... no I'm going to stop that now. Essentially, it is an AoE Deathgrip on a 30s CD. The talent suggests that it is useable in all shapeshift forms, which leaves me wondering if that means that it cannot be used while not in form (Caster Form)... which would mean that Resto could not pick it up, though they probably would not anyway as they are usually trying to escape from baddies, not bring them closer for hugs and kisses. I like this talent for Feral, maybe more than Demo Roar (even though the idea of having even MORE CC appeals to me greatly). Think about it in terms of "with Typhoon"; if I go to a ledge on Blade's Edge or Sewers maps and bring everyone to me, I have to take one step and turn around to Typhoon - instant match-reset button. I am really looking forward to testing this out.
Bear Hug is an interesting ability, but as it is largely a self-CC that does pretty decent damage to the target (it will do 30% of your HP to the target and we can basically assume that that will be about 30% of their HP as well) it is not an ability I will be considering at first.
My pick: PROBABLY Ursol's Vortex just for the added control outside of the scope of CC. Also, bringing a kiting player to me for damage is a huge boon for when Feral Charge Cat is on CD.
The last tier is arguably the worst and most boring. Heart of the Wild is still in the game as a "do some other role almost half as well as the main-spec'd would" on a HUGE 6 minute cooldown. I simply do not see this talent as being anything good. It could be that Innervate has finally been removed from the game and HotW is how Feral is supposed to regain our mana, but we really should be past the point of relying on mana anyway (unless we're spamming heals in a probable-loss situation). Additionally, it increases our hit rating... Blizzard still does not seem to grasp, or they have more changes in store to address, why Feral does not really care about hit rating past the 4% (or w/e) needed to land a kick in PvP.
Master Shapeshifter is another, albeit passive, talent which allows the Druid to perform some non-main-spec'd role poorly-but-better. Essentially, it says that throwing out 3 non-instant spells would increase attack power by 30% for 15seconds. I have no idea what the wash is, but my guess is that the 10-15 seconds it would take a Feral to lob out 3 spells to gain that 30% more attack power would be more than lost in damage NOT dealt during the ramp-up time. Blizzard keeps trying these hybrid styles of play and they simply never work. Bear and Cat are different specs now... Blizzard can allow Druids to stop being hybrids in this ridiculous sense.
Disentanglement heals the Druid for 20% of his maximum hp every time they shift with a 30s CD in addition to allowing the Druid to remove Roots and Snares via Shapeshifting. This is a no-brainer; every Feral will take this ability unless shapeshifting has been drastically changed for MoP.
My pick: Disentanglement (though I hope that Blizz does something to change HotW and Master Shapeshifter... they are simply awful at the moment and I would like a choice at the highest talent tier).
Well, those are my picks for the moment. Of course, I will try and keep everything as up-to-date as possible and post updates when applicable, but I am excited about the prospect of some of these combinations (like Typhoon and Ursol's Vortex). We shall see.
Next time, I hope to get into the stat crunch and Blizzard's musing on how best to address exponential stat growth throughout expansions as it is truly an interesting subject of debate.