So, when is 3.1 going to arrive? The current tea leaves are a bit mixed. It feels fairly close, as the PTR builds haven't seen major changes lately. We heard yesterday that Arena Season 5 will end on 14 April, and Noblegarden is currently scheduled to start 12 April (though they will delay it if needed).
The Arena season info is dispositive for me. I can't imagine they'll drop 3.1 on 7 April, with so many talent and balance changes, just for the last week of the arena season. That to me says that 14 April is the most likely date for the patch. That would probably delay Noblegarden by a week, starting it on 19 April. We'll see if that's how it plays out. It's also possible that it will be even later, but Children's Week is supposed to start 1 May, and they're unlikely to overlap the two holidays.
So, we've probably got a couple weeks to get ready for the patch. I've spent a little time on the PTR. I haven't done any raiding there yet, so I don't have a firm opinion yet on how much the regen and Lifebloom changes will hurt. Still, I picked provisional specs for both Resto and Balance, based on talent changes.
Resto in 3.1Here is the 11/0/60 spec I'm considering:
This is a raid-focused, mana-conservative spec. I'm worried about running out of mana, so I put 4 points into Tranquil Spirit. If mana turns out to be OK, I might steal those points back and put them elsewhere.
One place I didn't put points is into Nature's Grace. I've written about this before, but after reflecting a bit I think its value is a bit less for Resto druids than the previous flat .5 sec savings. To take advantage of the buff, you'll have to react to the NG proc quickly to cast a couple non-instant spells. But we do a lot of healing with instant-cast spells, which don't benefit, and they will use up the 3-sec buff. Also, I believe Nourish won't play nicely with this either, as the faster cast time will just bump up against the GCD. (I need to confirm this on the PTR.)
I put a total of 6 points into Living Seed and Revitalize, even though I'm not completely sure of their utility yet. For now though, I'll take the talents and see how much difference they make. Living Seed I feel better about, as the change to reflect overhealing will really help, and I think Nourish in particular will be a bigger part of our healing. Revitalize is a difficult talent to evaluate, but the addition of Wild Growth should make a big difference. If it goes well, this should actually bring a slight DPS increase to your raid.
If I pulled points out of Tranquil Spirit, Living Seed, or Revitalize, I'd be inclined to put them back into Natural Perfection, Empowered Touch, or possibly Nature's Grace. I would grab Improved Tranquility if I was doing 5-man heroics or PvP, and I'd definitely grab Natural Perfection and Improved Barkskin in a PvP build.
Balance in 3.1Here is the 68/0/3 spec I'll probably use:
First, note that this is not a pure raiding spec. I expect to use this for a combination of raiding, battleground/Wintergrasp PvP, and solo questing. So I've taken a wide range of talents that won't help much with raiding. This spec will certainly do decent DPS, but if you really want to maximize your raid DPS, you'll need to look at your gear and the other players in your raid. Based on that you can decide whether talents like Improved Faerie Fire are useful.
So based on my desire for versatility, I've taken just about everything in the Balance tree. I took both IFF and Balance of Power, but these might be droppable if either I assume I won't be raiding as DPS, or if I collect enough Hit on my gear. (I should have plenty of hit for Heroics, even without these talents.) On the other hand, Eclipse is only really useable on longer fights, so if I were to stick to PvP and/or soloing, I'd probably shed those 3 points. Owlkin Frenzy is another talent I might sacrifice, particularly if I wasn't concerned with PvP.
If I pulled those points back, I'd put them into the Resto tree. The goal would be to build into Master Shapeshifter via more points in Furor, Improved Mark of the Wild, and Natural Shapeshifter. I'd also look at Intensity if mana is an issue.
So there are a couple provisional specs for 3.1. The big wild card in both specs is mana viability. Some of that can be theorycrafted, but a lot will depend on how the raids play out in both fight design and raid membership (particularly for 10-man). I can't promise that these will be the best specs, but I'm fairly confident that they'll provide a good starting point.