16 December 2008

Patch 3.0.8 for Resto and Balance Druids

Today's long maintenance window may indicate the arrival of patch 3.0.8 (which happens to follow 3.0.4). That's very quick, as the PTR only went up a week ago. But I would bet that Blizzard is eager to start Arena season 5 before Christmas, for players who have time off from school or work. So we'll likely see the new stuff today.

So what's happening? The 3.0.8 patch notes from yesterday show a lot of changes. There's some general fun stuff — Tauren on raptors! — but for the most part the general changes are bug fixes. One in particular that we've encountered:

The Wintergrasp Aura should now properly update in all instances, transferring the buff when the zone control changes.
We saw this in Utgarde Pinnacle the other night. My computer locked up and I had to reboot halfway through the instance. When I returned, I could no longer loot the [Stone Keeper's Shard], though the rest of the group could. Best guess is that Wintergrasp fell to the Horde while we were in the instance, but the other players didn't get the message. So that will suck a little bit when you lose Wintergrasp, but will help when you seize it.

There are a few other minor changes like that in 3.0.8, and of course the rewards for Arena Season 5 are part of it too. But I mostly wanted to look at Druid changes, and specifically changes that affect Balance and Resto druids. The Feral changes are big, though, so if you're a bear or kitty, check them out. In short: armor calculations are a lot different, and the weapon-damage relationship is completely different. No more Feral Attack Power! There's a good first look from Big Bear Butt Blog as a start. It appears that this will be a minor nerf, but the challenge right now is more about understanding the effects of the change more than overcoming it. Ferals have some thinkin' to do!

So what about the rest of us? Here's the changes that will affect Resto and Balance druids:

Wild Growth now has a 6 second cooldown. This is the big one. You can get an in-depth look from Phaelia (with only a couple of tears shed). Wild Growth has been an amazing spell; it will be 90% as amazing after the change. For starters, this doesn't even really matter if you're running 5-man instances. Wild Growth hits 5 toons and HoTs for 7 seconds, so there's no benefit to casting it twice. It's a bit bigger nerf for 10-man instances and pretty substantial for 25-mans. But even there, the "smart heal" effect plus the HoT aspect means that spamming WG was subject to diminishing returns. So I suspect that Druids will move along just fine.

Genesis: Now works with Tranquility and Hurricane. This makes Genesis more attractive for Boomkin, basically buffing Hurricane damage by 5%. The Resto effect on Tranquility is probably less exciting — Tranquility already heals for a lot — but Genesis is already attractive for Resto anyway.

Remove Curse and Abolish Poison can now be used in Moonkin form. I'm a bit confused, because Remove Curse was already available in Moonkin form. My hope is that they really mean that Remove Curse can be used in Tree form. That current limitation is a bit annoying to Resto, and it would be nice to see it gone. But it's great that Abolish Poison is now available for Moonkin; it's a good solid utility we can provide to the group. Boomkin, help out your healers: remove curses and poisons! EDIT: I forgot that had changed for Trees. Obviously I was leveling as Balance when I posted!

Starfall: Instead of canceling shapeshifting, now cancels on shapeshifting into an animal form. (The "instead" clause here refers to a previous PTR build, and not current live behavior.) OK, now you can't cast Starfall, shift into Bear form, and blast your enemies with arcane bolts while you're armored. So don't do that. This must be targeted at Arena tactics that I'm not familiar with. If you're deep enough into Balance to get Starfall, you'll almost always have Moonkin form, which has a pretty good armor bonus too. Maybe the risk was Starfall + Cat form + Stealth? Or Sprint? Either way, it's gone now.

Nature's Grace - Now also effects Revive. You know what I hate? When people use "effect" where they mean "affect". If Nature's Grace really effected Revive, it would mean Nature's Grace procced Revive. Now THAT would be a buff! Instead, you'll occasionally get a half-second shorter Revive. I predict now that you will see this happen exactly three times in the next year.

Polearms: Now trainable by Druids. I like this, just because Polearms are IMHO the best looking weapons. But there are only 111 polearms in the game, and none of them have any Spellpower. (Two have MP5, but the best of them is the [Ethereum Phase-Spear], a vendor green from Netherstorm. Our Feral cousins will be eager to roll on stuff like the [Wraith Spear] that drops in Naxx, but polearms will be strictly eye candy for casters.

And... that's it for the mana-eater Druids. One noticeable nerf, and a couple of utility buffs. We're not buffed like Arcane Mages... but we're not nerfed up like Hunters either. Should be fine! I'll update if anything new or surprising shows up.

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