Friday, April 9, 2010

Druid Cataclysm Preview

The wait is over, and the Druid Cataclysm Preview has been released. I'm going to primarily look at the Moonkin pieces of the preview since I have little experience with those trees.

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.

Quick Comments:
  • 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.


Unknown said...

I dug through, and a later post by GC confirms that our DoTs will be getting the same effect from crit and haste. It was a copy/paste error. It seems that all DoTs and HoTs will benefit from both stats in Cataclysm.

(except the ones that require a crit to activate won't be able to crit themselves)

Huggeroftree said...

Thanks for doing this Graylo, I like to see your input.

I'd really like it if they gave us some kind of info about Nature's Torrent. We don't even know anything about the cast time--or if there is one at all. The new Eclipse sounds great, though. Add shrooms on top of that and 'kins won't have trouble moving at all, it seems.

Unknown said...

It's kind of weird seeing the tree form be the form that is more metamorphasis(sp)-like. It would have been interesting to use during heroism or such.

Then again, getting a new model for moonkin would have been great... I kinda had hoped they woulda added a more winterspring-like moonkin when they did bear/cat models. With cataclysm approaching, I don't have any more good ideas because they're the only ones i enjoyed looking at :P

simchampagne said...

I can see Nature's Torrent hit for like, Arcane damage when its deep into Nature eclipse and vice versa. It would give you a way to speed up the side switch. I would expect it to be instant, since we are also asking for an instant nuke or something alike for movement dps. since it has a 10 sec cooldown its convincing to be instant cast.
Once you hit the maximum ARcane damage, how would you see the rest of the rotation, 1 wrath, 1 starfire, etc. during 10 secs, to keep using the most of the buff ?
I would see something like : [Wrath]x10 (theoretical number) to reach full +Arcane damage eclipse. Then [Starfire] to use a "charge" of the eclipse, then [Wrath] to fill it up again. Then, if you need to move and have wratsh hit harder (Saurfang adds for example), It would "flip" the meter around or something alike.
Can't wait to see this !

Anonymous said...

Looks like the mechanism behind the Eclipse bar is still very much TBD, so we'll see how the beta goes.

"Q: How will the Eclipse Bar factor in how much it shifts?

GC's A: We're going to try a few different things and see what feels the best. Spells cast is the simplest system, but we also get a little more dynamic system if it was damage done or even if just crits moved the meter more. We still don't want a rotation that is just 1111222211112222. "

Kelvin said...

We are possibly the only spec which has a Maestry bonus that defines all the playstyle, instead of being an extra bonus... Interesting.

Anonymous said...

my first reaction to the spell was: WTF MUSHROOMS?

maybe its just a typo, but does it say anywhere that only ONE mushroom can be active at a time.
(+ no cooldwon + instant = mushroom madness ?)

I am pretty sure this is supposed to be a strong moonkin pvp spell. (it is designed to do noticable single target dmg). i think its going to be very nice combined with spells like the new smokecloud rogue ability.
just place a mushroom inside the cloud and enemy players (especially meeles) will run right into your shroom :D)

+ the spell becomes definitely stronger with environment like pillars and other obstructions.

[i]Remember that the PvP landscape will probably look pretty different for Cataclysm with a focus on rated, competitive Battlegrounds.[/i]

This quote highly supports that assumption.
+ mages will also be given a similar "defensive area spell" at 85 wall of fog.

(the chance arcane mages will be asking for innervate as evocation is a "dps- loss" is also going to increase :D

[i]Arcane will deal damage based how much mana the mage has. For example, Arcane mages will do much more damage at 100% mana than at 50% mana. If they begin to get low on mana, they will likely want to use an ability or mechanic to bring their mana up to increase their damage.[/i]

regarding eclipse i am rather dissapointed but simons comment here with the "flip" idea sounds actually very interresting!

i'd really like to see an actual talent tree!

Draugir said...

In terms of pvp viability, it seems that all moonkin are gaining is more burst. Dots will be better, mushrooms will help against melee. But we will still lack what are our 2 big weaknesses - a true survivability cooldown, and an interrupt.

The dps changes seem interesting, but I still think I'm going to go ahead with my plan of switching to feral for Cataclysm. Moonkin has been a lot of fun this expansion, but for me it'll be time for a change.

Anonymous said...

Moonkin do have an interrupt. It's called Typhoon, the knock back interrupts any spell casting in pvp and does interrupt some pve bosses as well.

Xaktsaroth said...

Moonkin do have an interrupt. It's called Typhoon, the knock back interrupts any spell casting in pvp and does interrupt some pve bosses as well. /quote

And youre can predict future stabile enough to hit typhoon 1-4 seconds (depending on distance) before they start casting the spell ?
Typhoon is just pure luck if you manage to interupt or not.

The cata moonkin changes seems very interesting now all we can do is to wait on more detailed info at least they seem to have the right intentions with our specc for both pvp and pve.

moonwhisper said...

I am a bit concerned about the eclipse meter mechanics.
my first thought was EotS too and
that there is a major drawback in this system:
After a ramp up the optimum is always a periodic alternation of spells. If it is bound to spellcasts it will be prolly something like.../W/SF/W/SF/etc.
IMO not funny. One way out would be to provide a buff when it reaches 100% which supports chaincasting of the opposite spell.
(as we have today)
If they are going to tie it with crit as thrown in by GC. Guess what - randomness is program again!
I also have asked myself, what might happen if fights hinders alternation (e.g. movement). Does my dps drop significantly because I am forced to cast Wrath like hell while not being able to use the Arcane buff to a significant extent?
I am concerned that we see a big volatility which cannot be influenced.
But we need to see the details.
However, concerned. The mechanism is really complex.
P.S. and where is the requested reduction of the influence of eclipse on our over all damage output? Currently, it might in Cata bigger as in WotLK.

The Bitter Fig said...

thinking about eclipse, and i hope it doesn't work like some folks here are thinking it will, where it provides a constant buff to all spells based on where your eclipse meter is.

here is my hope on how it will work. you start at zero points, lunar or solar. build 100 solar points or 100 lunar points to activate an eclipse, which will last, say, 15 seconds. when eclipse procs, it will return you to zero solar or zero lunar power. at which point, the starfires or wraths you're casting will start swinging the eclipse meter in the other direction.

under such a scheme, a fixed rotation between wrath and starfire will come into play, not to prolong an eclipse, but to prevent it. you have a cooldown coming free in a few seconds, or know that bloodlust will happen soon, or such? cast wrath until 90% of the way, then hit starfire to drop you back down to 80%. wrath up a little, then back to starfire to keep from blowing your eclipse too soon.

something like this would eliminate the annoying randomness of the old eclipse and grant us much-desired control. however, it wouldn't be control which would help us prolong our preferred eclipse, but to choose when we start whichever eclipse we want.

at least, this is how i hope it works. if the new boomkin rotation is just "wrath until eclipse, then alternate SF and Wrath", that's a major fail on blizzard's part in giving us an interesting rotation.

Anonymous said...

I had had the same thought as Moonwhisper, unless there's some kind of "bonus" for reaching the Nature end or the Arcane end of the spectrum that fades after some amount of time, the number munchers will figure out which end of the spectrum pumps the most damage and then the idea will be to always keep the meter near that end. If there is some damage bonus that fades over time it has to be so perfectly balanced (get the pun?) - significant enough to be worth going for, but not so large that movement at a bad time causes a major dps loss. I'm convinced Blizzard has an idea, I can't tell if it's a good idea or one that will solve the current issues. There seems to be so much detail missing from the mechanics description of the new eclipse it's pretty hard to take any position beyond a "wait and see". But that's what we were doing before the class preview =P

On the PVP side, mushrooms sounds... interesting? 4s grow period might limit it's effectiveness beyond a pre-prepared trap or a melee "stay away from me!". I imagine they won't let moonkin grow forests of mushrooms (line the center field of Warsong Gulch lol). No range spell interrupt/lockout probably still means we'll never have a method for cleanly finishing off a healer, even if the cat pummel/kick is available to moonkin specs, I think it'll be pretty easy for people to adapt to expect "cat form means kick!" as they did for "bear form means bash!" The slow component for the Nature's Torrent sounds ok, but nothing even comparable to a Mage slow, Warlock curse of exhaustion, Warrior hamstring which can be spammed to high heaven. Still moonkin state of PVP has to take what it can get, and typhoon followed by Imp Nature's Torrent may keep an enemy at bay for more than a few seconds.

-Thedrun, US Stormrage

Anonymous said...

Another possible implementation for Eclipse could be, as you go farther up on end the damage bonus increase. Say the meter is 10 each way. At +5 you might get +10%damage while at +10 you get 25%. That would encourage us to go deep into each and not just alternate w and sf. Also as has been mentioned, i can easily see a nice benefit to storing up a buff for heroism or in preparation to burst down an add or burn through a dangerous\vulnerable phase. It will also be interesting to see how things like Starfall interact. Would it give 1 arcane on cast or 1 for each star hit, allowing us to sfall then spam wrath as it get each star rebuffs nature. Lots of interesting possibilities, the devil will be in the details

Kaug of Silver Hand

Anonymous said...

One interesting way could be, if Natures Torrent could switch your actual amount of "Eclipse-Points" instantly into the opposite kind.
So, if you have 90 of 100 solar-points you could switch them to 90 lunar-points with this spell.

What do you think?

Anonymous said...

when i read it it looked like this in my head:

0 25 50 75 100 (arc %)
| -- | -- | -- | -- |
100 75 50 25 0 (nat %)

u start off at one end and as u spam ur wraths(bottom row)..u eventually switch to starfires(top row) and swing like a pendulum between the two extremes

this means ur not spammin the one spell forever as it diminishes in its effect..however it may be good to do this for when u need burst..then just switch..boom! otherwise u could hover it around the middle for consistant dps

Unknown said...

I'm also concerned about how the devs are going to encourage us to switch back to the opposing side of the meter. If the community ends up deciding that one nuke is higher DPS than the other then what's going to encourage us to include the other nuke in our rotation?

Eclipse exists for the purpose of adding some complexity to our rotations but it remains to be seen how exactly they're going to encourage us to use both Wrath and Eclipse.

This has been stuck in my head for days now so it'd be great to hear what others thought about this topic; it's possible I may just be misunderstanding the blue posts.

Tsuki said...

@Moses: that's simple to answer. If you keep nuking with SF, your Wrath will get progressively stronger and vice-versa. A "full-powered school" can't be weaker than a "neutral" opposite - aka a 200% nature weaker than 100% (or less, if possible) arcane.

So you're not only encouraged but basically forced to keep switching. In the worst scenario you'll use a spell more than the other, but if they can manage to mimic the good balancing work they did with the latest Eclipse, we'll be fine.

SirFWALGMan said...

I thought you were kidding about the Magic Mushroom thing.. Sounds kinda like Mario Brothers.