Category Archives: Feral

Dragon Soul first impressions

4.3 was released this week, and with it came a veritable oodle of new content to slash, stab, transmogrify and store in giant vaults. Most significantly for the raiders amongst us, of course, was the Dragon Soul, the final tier of raid content for this expansion, giving us the opportunity to finally put an end to Deathwing, the Aspect of Death. I’m going to go through my first impressions for the zone below:

Morchok 

The first boss of the zone, and frankly something of a push-over – certainly easier than Shannox was after our first day in Firelands. This guy has a simple tank-swap mechanic (Crush Armour), as well as something to keep the ranged interested with an orb/crystal that will spawn in a random location around him and will deal damage to the 3 closest players after a certain amount of time, which varies based on how far away those players are – a red beam indicates lethal damage, yellow is high-but-survivable, and blue is low. When the orb blows up, it will knock the 3 players into the air. He also Stomps, dealing damage to everyone in 30 yards, and double damage to the 2 closest targets (your tanks). His last ability, Black Blood of the Earth, will deal high damage to everyone in line-of-sight, and will require everyone to run behind the rock shards that spawn in a circle around him.

Basically, this fight is a loot-pinata; everyone’s job is extremely simple here, it’s essentially tank-n-spank – just be ready to run away when he casts Black Blood (he pulls everyone to him before casting it); as a Feral, Stamp Roar is a really useful tool here. On heroic, this fight promises to be more interesting, with the boss splitting into 2 identical versions (Morchok and Kochrom) at 90% health,l which will necessitate your group splitting into 2, and you tanks being unable to reset their debuffs until Black Blood.

Zon’ozz

A Vezax clone, this guy’s another that’s basically tank-n-spank with a couple of important differences – first is a debuff that he throws on to random people dealing shadow damage and knocking them up in the air when dispelled; the second is his ability Void of the Unmaking, which summons a ball of…purple stuff in front of him. This will bounce off of players, dealing damage (split between everyone nearby), and when it hits the boss, it will cause him to get Very Big And Very Angry, and force your healers to start spamming.

I quite like this fight overall – not a great deal to do, but the increased speed from being a Feral is useful as the Void can sometimes start spinning off at a slight angle to where it came from, which means you’ll need to run after it ASAP (if it hits the walls of the room, it’s a wipe). You’ll be able to pull huge amounts of DPS here, as each time the Void hits Zon’ozz, he gains a debuff that increases his damage taken, which lasts for the rest of the fight. As a healer, you’ll need to be on your toes with dispelling, and save your cooldowns for phase 2, when he starts AoEing the whole raid. Try to aim for bouncing the orb a minimum of 5 times, or it’s going to be super-stressful for healing – in 6/7 FL heroic gear, you can probably go up to 9 bounces in normal mode.

Yor’shaj

The first really interesting fight in the instance; the slimes that patrol around his room are inherent to the fight, and their abilities will give you an idea of what to expect when the encounter begins. The boss himself only has 1 ability, a Void Bolt that stacks for increasing shadow damage and will require a tank swap at around 4-5 stacks; however, he can gain additional abilities when he summons slimes from around the room – he’ll summon 3, and you’ll need to choose 1 to kill, while the other 2 will hit and empower him. When the slimes spawn, listen to your raid leader’s call and get over to the slime that’s going to die ASAP – the tank can run as well, as Yor’shaj will channel until the slimes reach him. Additional abilities are as follows:

 Purple –  everyone will be debuffed with Deep Corruption, causing them to explode for shadow damage when they receive 5 direct heals.

Green – poison spit that will deal splash damage (think Chimaeron).

Blue – summons a mana void that will drain everyone dry of mana until it’s killed, whereupon it will explode, redistributing the mana evenly to everyone in 30 yards.

Black – summons adds that need to be AoE’d; they cast an ability called Psychic Slice that deals shadow damage to everyone in front of them.

Red – chain lightning that deals increased damage the further away from the boss you are. Hits everyone in the raid.

Yellow – halves Yor’shaj’s ability cooldowns and his Shadow Bolt becomes AoE.

I’ve pretty much put those up in the order of most-to-least dangerous; purple should always die first, but then you’ll need to look at what other slimes you have. If you have Green, Black and Red, kill the green (as it forces you to spread out, while red and black force grouping up). Trust your raid leader and move fast to kill a slime – even healers can help killing them as there’ll be no other damage going out while they’re up.

I really like this fight – it’s incredibly dynamic, and can change massively depending on what combinations you get; in heroic mode, when the boss summons 4 slimes at once, it’s going to become even more so. Again, Feral has a good advantage here as we can reach the slime that’s been marked to die very quickly, and we can pop Stamp Roar to give everyone else a nice speed boost. Again, tanks and healers can go and kill the slimes too.

Hagara

This one’s pretty interesting, and requires good group co-ordination in phase 1 and phase 2.5 (there are 2 possible phase 2s); basically she starts hacking away at your tank, occasionally using a 5s channel called Focused Assault – if you’re tanking, you can run away from this as she’ll be rooted in place. She’ll also cause ice crystals to spawn around the room which will fire off Ice Lances at people – if your tank is targeted, run in between him and the crystal to start soaking the damage. After a period of time, she’ll either go into her Thunderstorm or Blizzard phases – in Blizzard, run to the edges of the room and move around while staying in front of the moving wall of ice (think of it like a Twilight Cutter from the Halion encounter, except you can always see these and they always hurt), while also killing the 4 ice nodes around the room; in Thunderstorm, have your tank bring the Lightning Elemental that spawns to the north (in 10m at least) to one of the Lightning Conductors – killing it will result in the Conductor powering up, and your raid will then need to position in such a way that you can chain the lightning from 1 conductor to the next. Upon either killing all the ice crystals, or powering up all the conductors, Hagara will be stunned for a while and then resume p1.

This fight’s pretty easy once you sort out dealing with Thunderstorm; I quite like the random phase 2, and using your raiders as little lightning nodes is innovative. Nothing too hard though, so long as your tank remembers to run away from FA. Also worth noting is that in every p1 after the first, she’ll trap 2 people in ice blocks akin to Sindragosa in ICC; just like on normal Sindy, group up on her so you can AoE the blocks and her down at the same time. As a Feral, you’re quick, so you can move between nodes quickly, and easily stay ahead of the Ice Walls.

Ultraxion

After the instance’s most annoying trash, you get to fight this guy. There’s a lot to deal with here, most of which focuses around the Heroic Will button that will appear in the middle of your screen. If it DOESN’T (some actionbar mods will block it, although I was fine with Bartender), then use the following macro:

/click ExtraActionButton1

Put that somewhere on your bars, you’ll need it frequently. Every time Ultraxion casts Hour of Twilight, click this button unless you are one of the designated soakers – tanks, Warriors with Shield Wall, Paladins with Divine Protection, Spriests, DKs with AMS and Rogues with CloS make excellent people to stay in soak damage, similar to Algalon’s Big Bang. The boss will also occasionally debuff the tank + a random other person with Fading Light, which will kill you if you are in the Twilight realm, so click this button when there are about 4 seconds left on the debuff to avoid it. This is your tank-swap mechanic, as it will also reset threat against the boss.

Healers will also need to watch out for the buffs that the Aspects will make available to them throughout the fight – your raid leader will probably designate who will take which. We used a Druid to take Alexstraza’s (+100% healing), a Shaman to take Ysera’s (direct heals are duplicated and distributed evenly amongst friendly targets) and a Paladin to take Kalecgos’s (-75% mana costs, +100% spell haste).

I love this fight while tanking – it’s absolutely frantic to tank swap, pop into Cat, DPS a bit, back into Bear to avoid Fading Light and taunt and so on. For our kill, we had our Warrior MT while I was taunting for Fading Light; something worth noting for Feral tanks is that if you’re NOT in Bear, you won’t get the Last Defender of Azeroth buff from Thrall (halves defensive cooldowns and doubles their duration) and you can be targeted by Fading Light – we had a couple of times when both tanks got hit by it as I was trying to throw out more DPS. While DPSing, however, it’s pretty boring – stand still and nuke, occasionally click Heroic Will, and spam Mangle.

Anyway, at present I quite like the instance, despite it being insanely easy – I don’t like being able to walk in and 1-shot the first 4 bosses and then 3-shot the 5th. If heroic content is a big step up, this will be a problem, where the barrier to entry for normal mode is so low that people get lulled into a false sense of security, walk into heroic and get their faces smeared across Dragonblight. That being said, I think the fights have a lot of potential – Yor’shaj and Ultraxion especially, and on heroic they’re going to be really interesting. I can’t give feedback on Blackhorn, Spine and Madness yet, as we were meant to raid last night (Thursday) and my monitor died, so we had to call the raid; back in on Sunday though (my birthday!) to hopefully go 8/8 ready for heroic-modes next reset.

This instance also feels, as Sunnier Bear mentioned in her recent blog post, like a last hurrah for Ferals – Morchok, Zon’oth and Yor’shaj are both single or or 1.5 tank fights, as the tank debuffs on Morchok and Yor’shaj aren’t a guaranteed application, so they can actually drop off before you’ll need to taunt; a hybrid Bear/Cat spec is really useful on these fights.

If you’ve any questions, you can reach me on Twitter (@Shredable) or in-game (Cantor <Omen> @ Emerald Dream EU)

So, you’re new around here…part 1

Hello again everyone! I’m sticking this video here because (We Are) Performance are awesome and this came on to my generic MP3 player while I was writing this post. Enjoy 🙂

This post will be split into 2 parts – the first will concern starting a brand new Feral, your race selection and what glyphs you want to look at while leveling. The second will focus on what to do once you hit 85, stat weights, addons, rotation etc.

Starting Out – Races:

You’ve decided to create a new Druid, and spec Feral; your first decision, of course, is whether you want to play as the mighty Horde or the sissy prissy Alliance. Some points for consideration – Horde get 8ft tall walking cows and voodoo Trolls; Alliance get Elves and Twilight wannabes. HOWEVER, should you really want to play for the Blues…

Night Elves – the original Druidic race; interesting thing to note here is that back in the Vanilla beta, Chris Metzen didn’t want anyone other than Nelf males to be able to play as a Druid, although this of course was sacrificed in favor of gameplay. Night Elves are the second-oldest race in the game, and are ruled over by Tyrande Whisperwind, the High Priestess of Elune, the Moon Goddess. Night Elves with amber eyes (such as Malfurion, Illidan and Azshara) denote a character with great Druidic power, or that is destined for greatness.

Shadowmeld – allows you to drop combat until you take any action or take damage; Useful when trying to res quickly after a wipe, or to get away from world PvP with a ‘Meld/flight form macro. Bear in mind that if you move while the boss is still active, you’ll be put right back into combat.

Elusiveness – +5% speed while stealthed; reasonably useful but it’s not going to make or break your gameplay experience.

Wisp Spirit – Night Elves move twice as fast while dead; Hopefully not that useful to you, but hey, if you’ve got this far then you already play Alliance and there’s no saving you, so get used to corpse-running. Heh.

Nature Resistance – Night Elves gain a small boost to their Nature resistance; doesn’t stack with MotW, Resistance Aura/Totem or any other resistance buffs, making this of limited usefulness.

Quickness – the buff tanks would kill for if they could do enough damage to kill anyone. This is a flat +2% chance to be missed by all attacks, and functions even while you’re otherwise unable to dodge (say, while CCed). A very powerful buff for tanks.

Worgen – the race of humans that live behind the shattered Greymane Wall in the Eastern Kingdoms. One of the original 7 Alliance races (they others were Stormwind, Lordaeron, Stromgarde, Kul Tiras, the Magocracy of Dalaran and Alterac), these guys were introduced into the game with Cataclysm, and doubled the number of options for Druid races open to the Alliance. It is unknown how they came by their Druidic power, although we believe that Gilneans promised a primitive form of Druidism before the Greymane Wall was shattered (hence the lowbie Druid trainer Celestine of the Harvest), which was then expanded upon by the Night Elves.

Darkflight – a +40% speed boost for 10 secs; not much to say here, as a racial this is really powerful, and despite the flavour text it does NOT force you back into your caster form while using it.

Viciousness – +1% crit chance; again, not much to say, but this is really a pretty powerful racial for everyone. Mana conservation for healers, more damage (and combo points) for Ferals and Balance, noms.

Aberration – in the Cataclysm beta this reduced the duration of poisons and diseases by 15%, but that was a little too powerful; now, this simply provides a small boost to Nature and Shadow resist, but like all other resistance racials, doesn’t stack with totems, auras etc.

Flayer – +15 skinning skill, and skin faster; believe it or not, there are times when I’d have loved this skill. I’m the only one silly enough to stick with skinning in our FL group, so I’m always left there chewing my way through fire scorpion corpses while everyone else is off killing stuff. Still, if you’re not a skinner…

Well, that’s the Alliance done. To the Horde! Yay, Hordlings!

Tauren – huge, nomadic Minotaurs that live on the planes of Mulgore. The best description of the Tauren would be as gentle giants, although they are skilled hunters. As a Druid, you would be part of the Mistrunner, Runetotem or Wildmane tribes, each of which is involved with the Druidic teachings within Tauren society. Tauren revere the Earthmother, the embodiment of nature, who is also followed by the Wildhammer dwarves and Pandaren.

Endurance – +5% base health; this racial used to be amazing as it scaled with gear, now it barely amounts to an extra 2k health at level 85. Really not worth worrying over, especially considering the days of Stamina-stacking tanks are gone, and Bears will be getting an additional +10% health (which DOES scale) in 4.3.

Nature Resistance – identical to the Night Elf version (except Tauren are cooler, so we can say we had it first).

War Stomp – 0.5s cast to stun up to 5 enemies around you for 2 seconds; frankly, for PvP or tanking, this is amazing. Yeah, the cast time is annoying, but at least it can now be used in Bear and Cat; I was a Tauren from launch until Cataclysm, and race-changed to a Troll because I had no racials that were even marginally useful for Ferals; 2 days after I did, they announced that War Stomp would be usable in forms…

Cultivation – +15 Herbalism skill, and 0.5s herbing speed; the source of eternal frustration to other classes, as we can also herb while in flight form. Tauren Druids make the best herbalists in the game, even in Vashj’ir (due to having glyphed Aquatic Form which stacks with Sea Legs, we can travel as fast as others can while mounted), so even if you’re only making a Druid with the intention of herbing (why would you?!), this is a good-enough reason to be a Tauren.

Trolls – peaceful, moral, great table manners – none of these statements apply to Trolls. They are savage, dark and voodooistic (I have no idea if that’s a word), but closely tied to nature (they are the only race in the game, apart from Tauren, that have access to all 3 elements of a JungleCleave 3v3 team – Shaman, Druid and Hunter) through Loa Spirits. In lore, these spirits are what grant the Trolls access to their shapeshifting potential.

Beast Slaying – +5% damage to Beasts. You will be fighting a LOT of Beasts while playing WoW, so why not kill them 5% faster? There are actually still some bosses that are defined as Beasts, Beth’tilac being the only one in current content, but this racial alone is probably worth more on that boss than all the gems in your gear combined.

Berserking – +20% attack and casting speed for 10s every 3 mins; ties nicely in with the cooldown on Berserk, but it’s worth noting that this is not +20% haste, merely attack speed, so it won’t increase your energy regen. while active.

Bow Spec/Throwing Spec – +1% crit with bows and thrown weapons; Druids can’t use bows, so this is of no use to us.

Da Voodoo Shuffle – duration of snares and roots reduced by 15%; as we can’t shift out of roots anymore (*sob*), this is actually pretty useful. It’s not going to make or break your PvP encounter even against a dirty, stinking, overpowered Frost Mage, but it could help you get a couple of extra hits off.

Regeneration – the long-standing joke of all racials, this is poop. +10% health regen, and 10% of your health regen continues in combat. This will account for such a measly amount of healing it just isn’t worth even mentioning.

Conquer Doors – Trolls can fit through most doors while mounted. Tauren cannot. Note that while this racial may not be listen in the game files, it does exist, and by golly when you’ve played a Tauren since launch and never been able to run down to the Dalaran sewers on any mount other than a bloody Mechano-hog…

So, there’s the rundown of races; if you’re min/maxing, as a tank, you want to be a Night Elf or Tauren; as a Kitty, you want to be a Worgen or Troll (the difference between a Tauren and Troll on a Beast fight is actually quite significant, and as I play in a 6/7 heroic guild, you need everything you can get while you’re doing progression content; I wish it wasn’t this way, as I bloody love Tauren, but their racials are frankly crappy for DPS); for PvP, it’s pretty open – Night Elves have Shadow Meld, Worgen have Darkflight, Tauren have War Stomp and Trolls have Da Voodoo Shuffle.

Glyphs:

You’ll unlock 9 glyph slots while levelling to 85 – 3 Minor, 3 Major and 3 Prime. Minor glyphs are mostly cosmetic changes or utility cooldowns; Majors are the “fun” glyphs, that actively change the function of certain spells; Primes are actually the most boring, providing simple damage increases to certain spells. Anyhoo, here are all the glyphs that you’ll likely be interested in as a Feral, both while levelling and at 85.

Minors:

Dash – knocks 36s off the cooldown of Dash, bringing it down to a 2min 24sec cooldown.

Unburdened Rebirth – removes the reagent cost from Rebirth, freeing up a bag slot.

Aquatic Form – increases your swim speed in Aquatic Form by 50%; as mentioned above, a god-send in Vashj’ir, and I’ve never used a mount there on either of my 2 Ferals (yes, I have 2. No, I don’t know why).

Mark of the Wild – Reduces the mana cost of MotW by 50%; pretty pointless to a Feral, as you’ll be casting this once an hour in most cases, but could be reasonably useful to levelling Ferals who tend to cast a lot more frequently than geared max. level characters.

Challenging Roar – reduces the cooldown on Challenging Roar by 30s. Only useful to Bears, and probably only while levelling. With the introduction of Thrash, your AoE threat becomes a lot more solid, to the point that you’ll likely not be using CR at all after you hit 81 until you get into Troll heroics and start running into a few people in heroic raid gear.

Frankly, these provide such little impact on your gameplay, I’m raiding H Raggy with a glyph that makes me swim 50% faster. These are wide open, so use anything you want here. I will say, however, that Dash and Unburdened Rebirth are both very useful in all aspects of the game.

Majors:

Barkskin – reduces your chance to be crit by 25% while Barkskin’s up; very useful in PvP – in fact, this is probably your best survival glyph combined with Bear Form and Frenzied Regen.

Thorns – cuts the cooldown of Thorns by 20s; certainly useful to the levelling tank, as Thorns is a real hard-hitter now. Not so great at 85, when there are much better options around and you won’t really have downtime between packs in dungeons,

Feral Charge – reduces the cooldown of Feral Charge (Cat) by 2s and Feral Charge (Bear) by 1s; meh, this is ok, but hardly standout. Could be good for the slightly added mobility in PvP, and it’s ok if you’re really trying to push out more Stampeded Ravages while DPSing.

Frenzied Regeneration – increases healing received while FR is active by 30%, but you no longer heal yourself; while raid tanking, you need this glyph. For 5-mans and PvP, it’s not AS good, and is really a judgement call on whether to use it or not, but basically if you’ve got multiple healers focusing on you, then this glyph will generate far more healing than the unglyphed version would do.

Rebirth – targets of Rebirth are ressed with 100% life; a really useful glyph for raiding Ferals, as Druids are one of only 3 classes than can res in-combat, and of those 3, we’re the only one that does it properly, not through some bastardised shadow magic (yes Warlocks and Death Knights, I’m looking at you). Anyway, getting someone back with 100% health rather than 20% is a big help to your healers, so you definitely want to look at investing in this glyph if you can.

Faerie Fire – +10 yards on the range of FF and Feral FF; gives your Bear a frikkin’ 40 yard critter-laser. And, I guess, a useful pulling tool. Not amazing, but decent if none of the other Majors appeal.

Ferocious Bite – heals you for 1% of your maximum health for every 10 energy you spend on FB; forgive me for not being thrilled, but a 5% heal is hardly amazing. This is ok sub-25% when you’ll be Biting every time you get 5CPs, and becomes more so when you get 2t13 (with BitW activating at 60% health).

Maul – allows your Maul to hit a second target for 50% damage. I’ve become so used to this glyph now I just see it as a standard part of the Bear toolkit. If you’re a tank, get it, use it, love it.

Majors are quite a lot more focused than Minor glyphs, and can actually impact your gameplay somewhat; I use Unburdened Rebirth, Ferocious Bite and Feral Charge while DPSing, or Maul, Frenzied Regen and Faerie Fire while tanking.

Primes:

Mangle – +10% Mangle damage; I personally hate Mangle with a burning passion, as it’s the reason that Blizzard won’t make Shred usable from any direction. Until you’ve experienced p2-3 Al’akir and p2 Raggy in a 10m guild, and some other bosses with extremely awkward positioning like Magmaw, you won’t know how damned frustrating this is (I had to try very hard to to type a $@&”ing swear word there); I lose somewhere in the region of 4k DPS swapping to a Mangle rotation from Shred, which is just bloody pathetic. I want to see this ability OUT of the Feral spec entirely, but until then, this is a solid glyph to pick up while levelling, and should be your first Prime choice. Dump it when you hit 85.

Lacerate – +5% crit chance to Lacerate; quite handy for Bears, as we have a chance to proc Savage Defence every time we crit, and Lacerate is going to be the ability you spam the most while single-target tanking.

Savage Roar – boosts the autoattack damage bonus by 5%; kind of useful, but mathematically it loses out to our other Primes. That’s not to say this is bad in anyway, but the other glyphs beat it.

Tiger’s Fury – reduces the cooldown on TF by 3 seconds; given that this is a 15% damage boost that affects your bleeds as well, you want to be popping this as often as possible. Quite useful while levelling, but doesn’t compare to our 3 “main” Prime DPS glyphs.

Berserk – +10s on the duration of Berserk, pushing it to a 25s duration, which is massive. With 4t12, you can push Berserks for as long as 45s if you’re good with your energy management and lucky with crits. Pick this up as soon as you can after getting Berserk.

Rip – +15% damage to your number 1 finisher that you should be maintaining for the entire duration of any boss fight? Take. This.

Shred – your Shreds extend the duration of your Rip by 2 seconds, up to a maximum of 6 seconds; this is one of the prime reasons we lose so much of our damage when we can’t Shred – ignoring the fact that Shred crits about 12k harder than Mangle, you save so much energy when Shredding vs Mangling, it actually makes our rotation achievable. With Mangle, it’s actually quite tricky to maintain Rip and Roar on a boss, as your Rips will only be lasting for 12 seconds, so if you don’t get lucky with crits…anyway, this is being changed to the Glyph of Bloodletting in 4.3, and will proc off of Mangle as well, which will go some way toward alleviating the problem. Get this in your life too! You need it!

So, for tanking at max level, your Prime glyphs should be Lacerate, Mangle and Berserk; for DPS, you want Shred, Rip and Berserk. I know, boring, but as I said above, Primes are very easy to theorycraft as to which is going to provide the most damage; that third slot used to be a toss-up between Berserk, TF and Savage Roar, but then they doubled the duration increase on Berserk so that eliminated that choice pretty rapidly. It’s worth noting that Blizzard have said that they don’t really like the Prime slot, so we might see it removed in Mists of Pandaria, with the bonuses tied into the abilities, or just based around not having them (although Glyph of Shred would be ohrrible to not have, so it will likely become a Major).

Ok, this was significantly longer than I intended it to be, so I’m going to cut off there. Next time, I promise that I will bring a So-I’ve-Just-Hit-85-WTF-Do-I-Do-Now analysis. I know I’ve been saying it for a while, but it WILL get here.

Incidentally, I might as well make a shameless plug or my friend Lobbe (best Warrior EU) will eat me – Omen are recruiting a Balance Druid, a Mage and an Elemental Shaman for our second 10-man raid team, who are currently significantly progressed through H Firelands (4/7 if I remember correctly, although they may have swatted H Beth while I wasn’t looking). Feel free to apply on our website!

Guest Post: 5.0 druid talents from a Kitty PoV (courtesy of Cantor)

A few weeks ago I featured a guest post from Cantor. Well, guess what landed in my inbox yesterday afternoon 🙂 Another post, this time regarding the talent changes announced at Blizzcon, but from the PoV of a kitty, rather than my view as a tree. So here is Cantor’s take on the new changes.

MMO Melting Pot has a complete transcription of the druid talents.

Changes? You betcha!

Right then! I had planned, as some may have read, to write a post concerning the differences between Alliance and Horde races, and why I chose to play as a Cowman all those years ago – however, Blizzard have gone and spoiled that for you by introducing some enormous (sorry, that wasn’t big enough – ABSOLUTELY MASSIVELY HUGE MEGA-SHARK VS GIANT OCTOPUS ENORMOUS) talent changes, and a new expansion. Let’s get stuck in.

So, first of all, we still have talent specialisations – you will still be Balance, Feral, or Restoration, but Druids also get a new specialisation called Guardian – at this time we are only class with 4 specs. Feral as we know it is gone, and the new Feral spec will cover Cat DPS only, while Bears will be covered by the new Guardian spec. It’s also worth noting that we will gain a base set of abilities per class (things that are integral to the class, like Cyclone, Roots, Barkskin, Healing Touch, Moonfire) and then learn new spec-specific abilities automatically as we level up; for Ferals, this could include Shred, Ferocious Bite, Rake and so on, while for Guardians, this may be things like Survival Instincts, Frenzied Regeneration, Maul and so on.

Secondly, talent trees are gone; out of the window, not coming back, no more 3/3 Furor, 1/1 LotP, 0/3 Primal Madness etc; now, we get 1 “class tree”, with a talent point given every 15 levels (at 15, 30, 45, 60, 75 and 90). There are 3 talents to a tier, all (or most) of which encompass a new activated ability; once you have chosen your ability, there’s no returning to that tier once you get a new talent point in 15 levels. It’s strictly one talent per tier, then move on. Blizzard has stated that talents on each tier are similar, however; for example, the first Druid tier consists of movement-related abilities, which is nice as we’ll never be stuck thinking “right, do I want CC or more damage?” because the choice is obvious.

Ok, got all that? I hope so, because we’re now getting into the real meat-and-potatoes – the actual talents themselves. These can be found floating around the Interwebs, but notably they’re on the front page of Wowinsider and MMO Champ.

Tier 1 (level 15) – movement:

Feline Swiftness: Increases your movement speed by 10%, and by an additional 20% while in Cat Form.

This is slightly modified from the current t1 Feral talent, in that it gives a passive 10% move speed to all forms, and doesn’t grant additional dodge to Bears. Still a solid option for PvE players.

Displacer Beast: Teleport up to 20 yards in a random direction, purging all damage over time effects and providing stealth for 10 seconds. Attacking or taking damage cancels this effect, and using this ability activates Cat Form. 3 min cooldown.

Woah. Druids just got given Blink + Vanish in one move; this will be the premier talent for PvPers as an escape – we all know how annoying Rogues are when they Vanish and seem to be able to indefinitely reset arena matches – well, now we can too! Works in all forms as well, but forces you into kitty – still great for any spec, but it’s going to be a nasty pill to swallow, having to give up that passive 30% run speed.

Tireless Pursuit: Removes all root and snare effects, and increases your movement speed by 70% while in Cat Form for 15 seconds. Does not break Prowl, and using this ability activates Cat Form. 3 min cooldown.

A solid talent for flag carrying and catching up to annoying Mages (although they can no longer have Ring of Frost and Cone of Cold in the same build, hur hur hur); for RBGs, this will probably win out over Displacer Beast, which is more about survival in an arena setting, whereas this will help more with keeping up the damage; could become less useful at level 90 however – read on to see why.

Tier 2 (level 30) – healing:

Nature’s Swiftness: When activated, your next Entangling Roots, Cyclone, Hibernate, Healing Touch, Nourish, Regrowth or Rebirth become instant, free and castable in all forms. The healing and duration of the spell is increased by 50%. 3 min cooldown.

Now this one is pretty interesting; allowing us to cast CC from forms, and having it bumped up in duration too (9 sec Cyclones anyone?) will be incredible; however, the usefulness remains to be seen, depending on whether the Feral tree retains Predatory Strikes – if it doesn’t, that’s a big hit to PvP, and will essentially force this talent to be taken.

Renewal: Instantly heal yourself for 30% of your maximum health. Usable in all forms. 2 min cooldown.

Not much to say here – this one will be taken by any Guardian-specced Druids, and is nice for the PvE players too as a mana-free, significant self-heal on a 2 minute cooldown. Again, we don’t know what talents we’ll be retaining to judge how useful this is – for example, will Ferals be getting Nurturing Instinct as a passive at some point? If so, this heal becomes even bigger in Kitty, which is nice.

Cenarion Ward: Protects a friendly target, causing any damage taken to heal the target for 2660 every 2 secs for 6 secs. Gaining this healing effect consumes the Cenarion Ward. Usable in all forms. 30 sec cooldown.

Kind of similar to the current Restoration talent Living Seed, in that it places a heal on the target activated by damage. I don’t think this will be too useful to Ferals or Guardians with Nature’s Swiftness and Renewal on the same tier. Bear in mind that the numbers you’re seeing are based on the level 30 version of the spell.

Tier 3 (level 45) – crowd control:

Faerie Swarm: Decreases the target’s armour by 12% for 5 minutes, and reduces their movement speed by 50% for 15 secs. Target cannot stealth or turn invisible while affected, deals damage in Bear Form and has a 6 sec cooldown if cast in Bear or Cat. Replaces Faerie Fire.

We don’t know yet if FF will be changing (can it still stack to 3 for example?); if there are no significant changes to the spell, then I think this needs buffs, as all it is, essentially, is a 3-stack of FF that slows the target. Ace for Moonkin and Trees however, as this appears to be a spammable ranged snare with no cast time.

Mass Entanglement: Root all enemies within 12 yards of the destination for 8 secs. Not castable in Cat or Bear Forms. 30 sec cooldown, 2 sec cast time.

What’s that? An AoE root on a 30 sec cooldown with no target cap? Damn right I want that! Again, without Pred Strikes this will have limited use for Ferals, but is still sexy as hell just for the utility that it offers.

Typhoon: Summon a violent Typhoon that strikes all enemies up to 30 yards in front of the caster, knocking them back and dazing them for 6 secs. Usable in all forms.

I will now proceed to cackle, continually and repeatedly, at melee classes that don’t have a caster hybrid spec. “CATS AND BEARS ARE ALL UP IN YO FAICE AND THEN YO GET TYPHOONED. LOL” as they’d say in geek-world.

Tier 4 (level 60) – self-buffs:

Wild Charge: Grants a movement ability that varies based on shapeshift form. No cooldown listed.

Note that we don’t have access to every version of this ability yet, but it’s basically Feral Charge. The Bear version is the Charge/30% haste that we know today, Moonkin get to “bounce” 20 yards backward and generate Solar/Lunar energy, and caster-form Druids fly to an ally and get a mana-free heal. The Cat version (currently unrevealed) will likely be Kitty Leap with the Stampede effect built-in.

Incarnation: Activates a superior shapeshift for 30 secs that varies depending on your specialisation. 3 min cooldown.

Again, we don’t know all of the abilities, but Feral (remember that’s Cats only now) gets a buff called King of the Jungle, allowing you to use all abilities that normally require Prowl, and to activate Prowl in combat. Resto gets Tree of Life. Interesting certainly, and allows you to spam Ravages for 30 secs, or activate Pounce in PvP.

Force of Nature: Summon 3 Treants to assist your current combat role; Treant capabilities vary by spec. Usable in all forms. 3 min cooldown.

There is literally no info on this talent other that that posted above. Could be amazing, could be crap – we have no idea right now. I’m envisaging healing Trees for Resto, Moonfire/Wrath spammers for Balance, etc.

Tier 5 (level 75) – Feral crowd control:

Demoralising Roar: The Druid roars, disorientating all enemies within 10 yards for 4 secs. Using this ability activates Bear Form. 30 sec cooldown.

So Demo Roar as we know it is gone – no more need to maintain the 10% melee damage debuff on bosses anymore; instead we get an AoE Gouge, which is just lovely given that it has no cost and only a 30 sec cooldown. More of a PvP ability to be honest, but could be fun in PvE too when the shit hits the fan.

Ursol’s Vortex: Conjure a vortex of wind, pulling all enemies within 15 yards to your own location. Usable in all forms. 30 sec cooldown.

Very similar to the level 90 DK talent Guile of Gorefiend, this is a short-range AoE Deathgrip – again, very nice when a pull goes a bit wrong, to group up adds for AoE, or to peel something off of your healer.

Bear Hug: Melee attack that stuns the target and deals 10% of your health as damage every sec for 3 secs. Effect is cancelled if you take any other action. Using this ability activates Bear Form. 1 min cooldown.

I’ve wanted a Bear Hug move for ages, and now we get it with a hefty damage component thrown in. I’m assuming it’s based off of your current health rather than total, as with MoP health pools we could be seeing a tank doing 80k damage in 3 seconds, which is just a tad excessive. Either way, this is a nifty little ability with a short cooldown, nice to shut down a healer at low health.

Tier 6 (level 90) – Shapeshifting utility:

Heart of the Wild: Dramatically improve your ability to serve combat roles outside of your normal spec for 45 secs. 6 min cooldown.

Again, not a lot of info here, but we know that for Ferals, this will give a buff granting 50% Agility as Intellect, +100% hit rating and +95% armour while in Bear Form, as well as a mana regen boost, Moonkin get an Int -> Agility conversion, a Hit -> Expertise conversion, and the Bear armour buff, while healing spells also generate Lunar/Solar energy.

 This one is really interesting – I recently had a situation where our tank died on H Baleroc at 15%, and I quickly swapped to Rawrbear, taunted and tanked his remaining health down using cooldowns. With this ability, we’d have seen a good deal less stress on the healers – it really brings the hybridised nature of Druids to the fore. I can’t see it being amazingly useful – the number of times I’ve had to swap to tank a boss are pretty few and far between – but this will certainly appeal to some people.

Master Shapeshifter: Improves your effectiveness at swapping between forms; melee attacks grant a 10% buff to spell damage, and cast-time spells grant a 10% buff to attack power. Stacks up to 3 times, and using an ability that benefits from the buff reduces it by 1 stack.

Handy in PvP I guess, but the amount of times you deal spell damage as a Feral are minimal. I guess we need to wait and see how this pans out, because at the moment I’m not really seeing a reason to take this over HotW or the next talent.

Disentanglement: Shapeshifting now removes roots, and shifting into a form heals the Druid for 20% of their max. health. The heal cannot occur more than once every 30 secs.

THIS! THIS is the crown jewel in our cap, the ultimate, crowning, awesome ability in our tree. We finally get to shift in and out of forms again to remove roots, AND get a massive heal on top of that? I really can’t see this making it all the way to Live, but without the 30% move speed from Feline Swiftness in PvP (as I assume most will be taking Displacer Beast), and possibly lacking Feral Charge, this isn’t AS powerful as it could be, and indeed will be absolutely necessary for Ferals to close with their targets.

Well, that’s all folks. I for one am really pumped for this expansion – Monks, Pandas, and teleporting Cats ahoy. Let me know what you think in the comments!