I, and 99,999 other players including Guntir, received my Mists of Pandaria Beta invite on Friday. I am always amazed by the scope and size of these sorts of games, but with every Beta I end up downloading and installing a "fresh" copy of the game to my 2TB drive. MoP calls for 18GB of disk space to install, and compacts down to roughly 10GB after the install finishes. This expansion is huge...

Yes, I mean the size of the expansion itself is staggering, but also the scope of changes that have already been announced coupled with the planned changes leaves me breathless. MMO-Champion will spend days and weeks trying to form some semblance of reasonable posts categorized and painstakingly marked up to try and give everyone an idea of the vastness of all the changes. MMO-Champion will spend weeks putting up data-mined information, videos, screenshots, Beta player testimonials, and anything else they can find to try and convey the scope of the changes. Put simply, MMO-Champion cannot cover all the detail of the changes of MoP.

That is where I come in; I am the observer of Druid changes and detail. I will attempt, though my schedule is a limiting factor, to sift through the class and hopefully provide insight and greater detail than MMO-Champion can provide. As I mentioned, my schedule is becoming more and more tight and finding time to write these posts is becoming more difficult by the day (not that I ever succeeded at hitting my Monday post schedule in any meaningful way before). My wedding is four weeks away and I have a project at work that is on roughly the same tight deadline, so I have difficulty finding an hour to write a post while at work and when I get home I am working on wedding stuff until bed... a rough life, I know.

Let me tell you what I have found so far in my limited time play MoP side-by-side with Live:

* Shred - 29k crits on Live, 23k crits in MoP. I feel like this is almost entirely because of Mangle no longer providing 30% bonus damage to bleeds and Shred. Astute mathematicians will notice that 70% of 29k is less than 23k...
* Mangle - Does the same damage as Shred when there are no bleeds present. Shred hits 20% harder than Mangle when there are bleeds up. This is closer to the model that I have asked for in the past, but still too far off; Shred hits too much harder than Mangle for 5 additional energy for Mangle-spamming to be a realistic strategy.
* Rake - Hits proportionally hard on MoP as it does on Live, but lasts 15s by default, making it our best damage-dealer per energy by far and it might as well read "increases Shreds damage by 20% for the duration". I do not recall the exact numbers, but I will try and get some videos out today or tomorrow illustrating the difference.
* Rip - Same as Rake, basically; this is still a heavy-hitter, but requires some ramp-up via SR now. I suspect the overall damage has gone down quite a bit, just like Rake and Shred.
* Ferocious Bite - Still hits hard, the extra consumed energy is back to 35 (up from 25 on live) for reasons unknown.
* Ravage hits for about the same, not that anyone will be using this ability anymore.
* Savage Roar - Increases damage by 30% and is still an enrage effect and is therefore trivially dispelled, as we all have lamented.
* Maim - No changes except in the wording to the damage portion of the ability... it still does roughly 2 white swings worth of damage at 5cps.

Okay, that's the boring stuff... let's look at the interesting stuff:

* White Swings - What? Why would I be bringing this up? Blizzard seems to be moving Feral (and a lot of melees) away from big burst rotations with limited up-time toward sustained damage-dealers with reasonable up-time. My White Swing hits for 1.5k on live, crits for around 3k; on the beta server, my white swing (in the same gear mind you) hits for about 5k and crits for 10k. I am truly astounded by this... I have no real guess at how Blizz plans on this being fair, but our damage output has gone up even with all our damage-dealing abilities going down. Keep in mind that those numbers are before SR; with Savage Roar active on Live, my white swing goes up to 3-4k hits and 6-8k crits. Beta, on the other hand, has my white swings doing 6.5k hits and 13-14k crits when SR is active.
* Attack Power - Again... What? My attack power with MotW up on Live is around 21k, but on the beta it is only ~14k. I am not entirely sure where this discrepancy comes from (except to say that we don't have Aggression in MoP, so that's -25% attack power right there), but from what I can tell, it does not affect my overall damage output. What is truly remarkable here is that even though I have lost so much attack power, my white swings are STILL hitting so much harder.
* Critical Strike Percent - This is a source of pain; we lost 4% crit from Master Shapeshifter going away, but we also lost a ton of crit from a hitherto unnamed source. I went from ~42% crit on live to around 28% crit on the beta. Do not quote me on this until I can look into it in more depth, but I suspect that Blizzard has changed the agility->crit ratio to be more lenient to non-agility melee classes. Recall that Warriors and such lost a lot of abilities that ostensibly read "Mortal Strike will crit after Charge", so their crit rates are around 5-10% with nothing improving them. This may lead back to the days of critical strikes mattering; I was sick of running around with greater than 50% crit on live anyway (I reforged on Sunday and bought the crit trinket and back).
* Ursol's Vortex is hilariously overpowered. Mark my words here - it will not make it to Live in its present form (30s cd; 15s duration); it is simply too strong. Essentially, you place the vortex and it immediately applies a 50% snare to everything in range. Once the target leaves the vortex and the snare falls off, they are pulled back into the vortex (with the slowest travel time of any movement ability I know of). This grip-effect will only occur once per target, but everyone affected will be pulled back if they leave the vortex. This is, without any pretense, the strongest peel in the game; it seems to ignore Cloak of Shadows and the like entirely.
* Typhoon is underwhelming from almost every perspective except that it is more reliable as a knockback. The timing is still bonkers, but you can actually rely on it hitting and knocking someone somewhere. I plan on abusing Typhoon in the arenas simply because of the existence of Blade's Edge and Sewers.
* Soul of the Forest is currently bugged and does not work with Maim, but it is still a rather strong ability given that we have a lot of finishers to balance. It is somewhat annoying that we have to take a talent to reduce our finisher costs, but I am petitioning for it to be buffed a bit to make it better.
* Wild Charge is an amazing ability. Rather, it is two amazing abilities wrapped into one. The Cat version is underwhelming, but we needed a 15s gap-closer; we simply do not get enough up-time on targets on Live. The caster version is going to have to be nerfed; it is so strong even at 25y range. I have already made the macro "#showtooltip Wild Charge /cancelform /cast [tar=guntir] Wild Charge;" to mash (has to be hit twice >_<) under stressful times when I need to get the hell out of wherever I am.
* Nature's Swiftness is either bugged or Blizzard is ahead of me on the PvP game. Currently, if one uses NS+Cyclone on a mob, it will last 9 seconds; however, NS+Cyclone on a player will only last 6 seconds. This may be intended; I have no idea. If it is intended, then I will end up probably taking Renewal or even Cenarion Ward. Cenarion Ward??? Yes...
* Nurturing Instinct has finally returned Feral to a level where healing spells are not a wasted cast. Healing Touch does around 11-12k on Live, but on beta it will hit for 24k-ish. I will need to test Cenarion Ward, but with the 20% increased healing received from Glyph of Cat Form, Cenarion Ward might be worthwhile. I would like to see this changed to simply be spell power instead of Nature Spell Power (whatever that is) so that we could use Moonfire once again.
* Wrath - hits for 10k. Yeah... so there is that. This would have made sense in the present scene where rooting us means something, but in MoP we will have Disentanglement to escape roots, so I do not see using Wrath all that often. That and our white swings hit every second for around this amount.

Well, that is all I have time for for now. Hopefully, I can start throwing up some YouTube videos again and get some demonstrations of all this rolling.