Mists of Pandaria: First look at Druid talents
So then, Blizzcon is here and last night we had the opening ceremony and quite a few panels outlining the various bits of awesomeness to come in the next expansion – Mists of Pandaria. There is a bunch of various cool new stuff, some exciting and some not so. MMO-Champion has a full list of changes announced so far.
One of the big changes announced was the complete and utter revamp of the talent trees. Unlike previous changes to the talent trees this is not a little fiddle, oh no, this is delete the old trees and replace it with something different. In a nutshell, every 15 levels you have a choice between three abilities along a theme e.g. mobility, cc etc. You can only pick one of these at a time. However, you can change it as easily as glyphs, so without going back to a city and respeccing you should be able to swap out different talents between encounters. Many of the various other abilities and buffs from talents are either removed or folded into existing abilities or the “basic” toolbox you get for picking a particular spec.
Now you have a basic idea of the changes, onto the druid specifics. In addition to the new talent trees that everyone gets, druid got a little extra – a 4th tree. That’s right- feral bears now have their own tree. Blizzard have finally split cats and bears into their own separate trees.
For those who prefer a list rather than the pictures below, MMO Melting Pot has a transcription of the druid talents.
Now onto the new talents for druids
Level 15 Tier: Mobility
First we have the 3 choices at level 15 for druids. This tier is based on mobility. We have a range of abilties that affect movement speed and such, and two that work around kitty form.
The first talent has a general utility as it gives a fixed movement speed buff (never a bad thing in raids).
The second I can see as a PvP talent (especially against ‘locks and spriests) and I have visions of a kitty being chased by the aforementioned spriest and ‘locks and jumping off a cliff. The ‘lock and priest watch warily for the magically vanishing cat that suddenly appears behind them, purged of DoTs and ready to rip their faces off
The last talent also seems to have a lot of PvP application.
Looking through the first 3 talents, I am included to think that the first will be the “standard” for PvE raiding, with the others more used in raiding.
Level 30 Tier: Survivability (sort of)
The second tier of talents is gained at level 30 and is sort of based around personal survivability and such.
The first talent is the good old Nature’s Swiftness and is pretty standard except it only includes utility spells (roots and cyclone) and healer spells (all the others). However it does has an important caveat that will make some people thankful – it allows the use of above spells in ANY form. So now we have the instant combat rezz on a bear without moving to caster form and dying .
The second talent is a straight forward large self heal, as this is so basic and boring I would be surprised if it doesn’t get changed before release.
Finally the last talent is a curious one. It is almost like a mini earthshield for druids. As it is castable on friendlys, it would be a nice little addition to a resto’s toolbox, but would it be better than Nature’s Swiftness? Would bears find it useful to work into their rotation/priority as a small self heal? One thing I wonder about though, is what level is that data for? That cost and healing at level 30 seems rather OTT, but at level 90 it’s is pitiful. What will it scale with? Spellpower for balance and resto and attack power for ferals? What about ferals not using mana, will it use energy/rage or remove from the “hidden” mana pool? So many questions, but the potential to be a really cool little talent.
Level 45 Tier: Mob/player control and debuff
The talents available at level 45 are in the vein of debuffing and controlling other players and mobs.
Firstly we have the updated Faerie Fire – now called Faerie Swarm. The effects are pretty much the same, with the addition of a movement slowing component. This is likely to remain the staple of feral bears as well as having more PvP utility thanks to the slowing effect.
Mass entanglement is an answer to the prayers of any druid who sat through the little intro to Alysrazor and said “sigh, wish I had an AoE roots like Staghelm”. Now we do The mention of “destination” suggests it will be a placed ability similar to blizzard. Most notable is that it cannot be used by ferals (in form) so this is much more of a balance/resto utility talent, or a “cast, cat, DASH!!!!” talent.
The last talent for this tier is Typhoon. This is similar to current typhoon with the exception that it can be used in any form. Again, a good ability to throw enemies away from you while you heal up, run away etc.
Level 60 Tier: Nature power!
This tier is all about channelling the very power that makes druids awesome – nature.
Wild Charge is a powerful movement spell that has different effects depending on what form you are in. Basically it looks like it will work as feral charge for bears, and then change for others.
The second talent is where we find Tree of Life in MoP. Incarnation allows you to take on a “superior shapeshifting form” for the duration. In resto this is the ToL, feral kitties can use stealth attacks while not stealthed and I imagine bears and moonkin will gain similar “uberness” though it.
Lastly is Force of Nature. This is pretty much the same as the current balance spell, except it will be usable in all forms. I can hardly see this as a resto or tank thing, so I suspect it will just be taken by Boomkin again.
Level 75 Tier: More ways of debuffing and controlling the enemy
As it says above, the talents on offer at level 75 offer more ways to debuff and control your opponent.
Your first option is the fairly standard Demoralising Roar. This is different to the current variant in that it disorientates your enemies. This could mean a slower movement or attack speed, or it could be a general “daze” effect. Will have to wait and see how it develops.
Ursol’s Vortex is an AoE “deathgrip” mechanic. Very handy for tanking large groups with multiple casters in the pack. Less useful if you are not a tank. If teamed with the AoE roots it could be good; cast vortex, barkskin, AoE roots, cat + dash = win.
The last talent for this tier, Bear Hug is an interesting ability. The stun + dealing 30% off your HP as damage over 3 seconds will be quite good, especially given that MoP health pools are likely to be very large.
Level 90 Tier: Operating outside your primary role
These final talents are all about doing something you don’t normal do – healing as a boomkin, doing melee dps as resto and so on.
Heart of the Wild is a long CD ability that converts intellect to agility (and vice versa) and such so that you can temporarily perform in a capacity outside your normal role better than you would normally, but only for a limited time.
The second talent, Master Shapeshifter is designed for those who are constantly in a state of flux regarding what they are doing and it can boost your dps in one form by switching to another briefly.
Disentanglement is an ability that heals you as you switch forms as well as clearing any root effects on you when you shift forms.
Now my thoughts
They we have it then, a quick outline of the proposed new talents for druids in 5.0. Personally I am quietly hopeful that they will work. There are some that seem to have been directly lifted out of current talents and abilities (typhoon, force of nature etc) and other that seem a bland filler (Renewal). Hopefully some of these will be altered so that they are more interesting or helpful – after all, we only get 6 of these choices over 90 levels, those choices need to be between some totally awesome things.
Generally I quite like the look of the talents, though the last tier really does seem totally meh and lacklustre to me. As the very last ability you gain, you are really looking for something amazing and that defines your role. What we have a mixture of the boring (Disentanglement), the clunky (Master Shapshifter) and the annoying (Heart of the Wild).
I am resto, I do this because I want to heal. I look for things to help my healing and of the options on the Tier 6 talents there is nothing I see that will help me do that. Not one of them increases anything to do with healing. Possibly if MS was changed so that melee abilities increased spellpower by 10% 3 times, but atm it is spell damage and therefore useless for healing.
So with the exception of the last tier, this new style of talents looks like it may work, so long as they actually put some effort into coming up with some good talents.
My main conern with this system for the talents is that they have removed some of the variation. Sure there were cookie cutter specs, but you also had the ability to change things – my build has changed a number of times since we started Firelands, to begin with I had a mana conservation build that had gradually changed to a throughput build as my gear has improved. The new talent system wouldn’t allow (or even give me the option) of something similar.
Likewise, some of the “extras” in talents that were not direct abilities or flat out buff of +1%/2% etc have gone. E.g. empowered touch allowing nourish/HT/RG to refresh LB. Will this “extra” become a glyph? or folded into basic resto selection? or removed completely? Hopefully some of these extra little things will find themselves in glyphs or similar rather than vanishing altogether.
Here’s hoping they don’t mess us up too much ^^