Before I get into the preview I just want to remind everyone that all of this information is subject to change and will likely change to some extent before Cataclysm is released. If you look at the early days of the WotLK Alpha leaks and compare that to what went live on release, you will see two very different things. What looks good here may not last. What looks bad can be improved. Don't over react to these notes.
New Spell: Wild Mushroom
Wild Mushroom (Level 85): Grows a magical mushroom at the target location. After 4 seconds the mushroom becomes invisible. Enemies who cross the mushroom detonate it, causing it to deal area-of-effect damage, though its damage component will remain very effective against single targets. The druid can also choose to detonate the mushroom ahead of time. This is primarily a tool for the Balance druid, and there will be talents that play off of it. No cooldown. 40-yard range. Instant cast.First Reaction: "Druids are getting a Hunter's trap."
It seems like it is designed to help our movement DPS. Since it is instant cast we can cast it on the move. Plus we could place it in front of a moving target. However, I assume it would be targeted like Force of Nature, and I find that difficult to do while moving.
It definitely seems to have situational uses. For example, on a fight like The Lich King you can put it down in the Val'kyr path before they spawn. That way you can put some extra DPS on them without spending a GCD during the critical burn period. It could also be good for bears that want to get some aggro on spawning adds, but It probably wouldn't hit very hard for them.
This description leaves a lot of questions about how it will work that won't be answered until we can test it in the Beta.
Changes to Abilities:
All heal-over-time spells (HoTs) will benefit from crit and haste innately in Cataclysm. Hasted HoTs do not reduce their duration, but instead add additional HoT ticks. Haste will also benefit Energy generation while in cat form.First Reaction: "What the hell?"
I have no problem with the change, but I'm a little shocked by what it's missing. I was 100% certain that our DoTs would get the same treatment. If you read the Warlock preview and the Priest preview, then you know that both class's DoTs will be innately affected by Crit and Haste. Ghostcrawler then went on to say "Almost all dots will crit. The exception will be things like Deep Wounds and Ignite because those are already the product of a crit. Rend will crit."
Since Moonfire and Insect Swarm are not like Deep Wounds or Ignite I expected our DoTs would get the same treatment.
The important thing to remember here is that they still might. This may be a case of where they don't want resto's to have strong versions of Moonfire or Insect Swarm. Therefore, they may place a talent later in the talent tree that buffs them based upon our Crit and Haste. It is obvious that they are open to the idea at the very least. The key here is DO NOT PANIC.
If the truly aren't allowing our DoTs to Crit and benefit from Haste, I would love to hear the explanation for why.
The Change to Eclipse:
Eclipse: We are moving Eclipse from a talent into a core mechanic of the class and making it less random. Balance druids will have a new UI element that shows a sun and a moon. Whenever they cast an Arcane spell, it will move the UI closer to the sun, and buff their Nature damage. Whenever they cast a Nature spell, it will move the UI closer to the moon, and buff their Arcane damage. The gameplay intention is to alternate Arcane and Nature spells (largely Starfire and Wrath) to maintain the balance.First Reaction: "It's like capping towers in EotS."
As silly as that may sound, the first thing that popped into my head was the little bar that pops up when you try and capture a tower or something in PvP.
It is definitely a novel idea, and I am quite intrigued by it. It is a play off of the charge system that I think a lot of us expected, but it seems to have more depth then a simple charge system.
It give you a much greater ability to control when your spell is buffed. For example, if you know that Heroism is going to be used in 30 seconds, start casting lots of Wraths so you can machine gun some Starfires out right when it is popped. It also stores the value so you don't loose it when you have to move to a better position or get out of the fire. Both of those improvements are pluses.
The description also implies that they are changing which spells are buffed and how they are buffed. Notice that it says when you cast an Arcane spell your Nature spells will be buffed. Therefore, it sounds like Moonfire and Insect Swarm will benefit from Eclipse as well. The comment also makes no mention of +Damage or +Crit. This leads me to believe that they are normalizing the buff for the two schools of magic. (note that this is just an assumption on my part) If that is true then I think it will help with the scaling and balancing of our various spells.
Obviously, we will need more details on how it will work before we can give it a true thumbs up or thumbs down, but right now it sounds promising to me.
New Talented Spell: Nature's Torrent
Balance druids will have a new talent ability called Nature’s Torrent, which strikes for either Nature or Arcane damage depending on which will do the most damage (or possibly both), and moves the Eclipse meter more (details below). The improved version of Nature’s Torrent also reduces the target's movement speed. 10-second cooldown.First Reaction: "We're getting Frostfire Bolt also?"
At first I was a bit confused by this ability (partly because I hadn't read the Eclipse change yet). At first it sounds a lot like the dual school spells that that seem to be popular in Cataclysm. I can see the use of Mind Spike for priests and even Fel Flame for warlocks, but we've never had an issue with not being able to switch magic schools, and we don't need another nuke. So was a little confused.
After a little thought, I realized that was not the goal of this spell. I expect this will be a way for us to manage our Eclipse buff. It will be interesting to see how it will work in Beta.
- Mastery Bonuses: The increased spell damage was a no brainer and I kind of expected that Eclipse would become our 3rd mastery. The only question I had would the second be crit or haste, and I'm glad it is haste. If we haste couldn't be capped for Wrath we would scale so well with haste it would be ridiculous. By ICC level gear Haste would likely be superior to spell power point for point. Having haste be the second mastery bonus will hold it in check which is good.
- We want to make sure Feral and Balance druids feel like good options for an Arena team. They need the tools to where you might consider a Feral druid over an Arms warrior, or a Balance druid over a mage or warlock. Remember that the PvP landscape will probably look pretty different for Cataclysm with a focus on rated, competitive Battlegrounds. - Woot for moonkin who like to PvP. Lets just see if they can get it right this time.
- There was no mention of Nature's Grace in the preview. We know it's going to be nerfed, removed or changed in some way. I just hoped we would learn how.
Overall I am content. None of the changes or additions really exited or pissed me off.
On the positive, the two new spells sound interesting, but I want to see how they work in the game before I make a final opinion. I am impressed with the new Eclipse. It sounds like something that could actually be fun and not a standard charge system.
On the negative, I'm a little disappointed that they didn't say anything about Moonkin DoTs being affected by haste or crit. I also wanted to see what they had planned for Nature's Grace.