Druid talent picks

(I took a screenshot of the full talent screen from the panel stream, then edited it a bit to remove background clutter.)

A lot of people are doing this, and I was certainly going “ooh, I love that one” in my head while I watched the panel, so I figure what the hell.

This is from an almost purely PVE perspective (to say I’m not a great PVPer would be a massive understatement), and I’ll be considering talents based on their usefulness for a feral druid tank and for a feral druid DPS. I’m not going to mention in exact detail what each talent does, just briefly sum them up – if you want more details, MMO-Champion has a ton of screenshots, and Wowhead’s Mists of Pandaria talent calculator has the information as well.

Level 15

Feline Swiftness is a basic flat increase to your movement speed, Tireless Pursuit is an extra Dash, and Displacer Beast is a “ack, getting focused in PVP, must survive” panic button. To me, the choice is very clear-cut.

Feral tank: Feline Swiftness. No contest.
Feral DPS: Feline Swiftness most of the time, although I’ll be swapping in Tireless Pursuit if there are specific fights where you stay mostly still but suddenly have to get from point A to point B as soon as possible.
Leveling: Displacer Beast. I’m on a PVP server and I’m pretty awful at PVP. An extra “ack ack ack get it off get it off” panic button every 3 minutes might not end up saving me more time than the flat movement speed increase, but it’ll certainly save me tons of frustration.

Level 30

Nature’s Swiftness makes specific spells instant and castable in all forms, Renewal is a self-heal, and Cenarion Ward is a reactive HoT that can be cast on any friendly target.

At a first glance, Renewal is the most useful for a tank, since it gives you an extra panic button and 30% of your maximum health can be a decent chunk. However, depending on how much health you have and on how well it scales, Cenarion Ward might end up totaling more self-healing than Renewal when pushed every time it’s up, since its shorter cooldown means you can use it four times as often as Renewal… however, it’s not a panic button. As for Nature’s Swiftness, the only real benefit it offers to a tank is the ability to cast Rebirth instantly and without shifting out – which is only useful if you’re the only person in the raid who can combat res. On the one hand, I am in that situation (10-man raid, no death knight, no warlock, I’m the only druid and I’m a tank)… on the other, more important hand, I don’t see why I should have to sacrifice a cooldown that could very well save my life just so I can rescue some idiot who died from standing in bad and is quite likely to die again from standing in bad after I res him.

For a feral DPS, the choice is simpler. For most fights, panic button heal > instant Rebirth without shifting out > reactive HoT. (The reasoning being that you do no damage when you’re dead, while although you lose some DPS time when shifting out and resurrecting somebody it’s not likely to get you killed. The reactive HoT is unlikely to trigger very frequently if you cast it on cooldown, and if your healers are having issues keeping people up in fights with mild AoE damage you have bigger issues than Cenarion Ward can fix.) In fights with lots of heavy AoE damage, Cenarion Ward might become useful and end up taking some strain off the healers, but if it’s not off the GCD it might negatively impact your damage.

Feral tank: Renewal. Even if Cenarion Ward ends up totaling more self-healing over the course of a fight, I’d rather have a cooldown I can push to save my life when it matters than a consistent trickle of health. As for Nature’s Swiftness, thanks but no thanks.
Feral DPS: Renewal, although I may swap in Cenarion Ward depending on the fight.
Leveling: Cenarion Ward might come in handy here, depending on the scaling. Would certainly reduce downtime. If it doesn’t scale well, Renewal here too.

Level 45

Faerie Swarm adds a movement slow to an ability we already have, Mass Entanglement is a targeted AoE root, and Typhoon is an AoE knockback plus daze.

I’m immediately discounting Mass Entanglement because it very specifically can’t be cast in bear or cat form, and well, screw that. Even if there was a fight that absolutely required adds to be rooted – other classes can do that at less cost to them. The other two are very situational, and which one is the best very much depends on what you’re fighting.

Typhoon is going to be incredible for any fight where there’s something that absolutely must be knocked back, or else. (Hello, Ragnaros adds.) Faerie Swarm is going to be incredible for any fight where there’s something that absolutely must be slowed, or else. We currently have Infected Wounds, but I’m guessing that’s going to go away in 5.0 – and even if it doesn’t, Faerie Swarm is a ranged slow. My only qualm with it is the 6-second cooldown it incurs in bear and cat form. It makes sense – normal Faerie Fire is the same way – but it caps the amount of targets you can efficiently slow to two unless you shift out and just spam it every global cooldown.

(I’m not sure how likely it is that they’ll make it so you can only slow one target at a time. The Slow talent for mages very specifically says it can only be used on one target at a time and it’s a level 90 talents as things currently stand, but it also slows ranged attacks and spell casts, while ours doesn’t. We’ll see.)

Feral tank: Typhoon in most cases, replacing it with Faerie Swarm when a slow is needed.
Feral DPS: Typhoon, except for when a slow is needed.
Leveling: Typhoon. It’s extremely unlikely that I’ll want to slow the movement of something I’m trying to kill, considering er, I’m a melee… and there’s all those lovely cliffs in Pandaria that I can potentially knock people that try to gank me off of.

Level 60

This is where I say “gee Blizzard, would it have killed you to be a bit more specific?” – most of the talents don’t say what they do for one form or the other. All three talents are “does something, based on your form or spec.” Feh.

Wild Charge looks like it will be useless to bears, unless they make haste not suck or take away Feral Charge. Which they very well might, since they specifically said “Wild Charge is a new version of Feral Charge” and that the idea was “Let’s take something cool that different talent trees have and make it available to everyone.”

(Don’t even get me started on how angry I’ll be if they do that. Yeah, let’s force all feral tanks to take a specific talent and sacrifice something that might buff their threat or survivability instead if they want a gap closer, that’ll go very well with the idea of not making any of the choices mandatory and making people “choose between apples to apples.” Warriors have a gap closer by default and get to pick a way to buff it at level 15, paladins get theirs at level 15 and it’s not even a particularly hard choice because the other two talents aren’t nearly as good for a paladin tank, death knights have Death Grip, and druids have to wait until level 60 to get Wild Charge? Screw you. Put it at level 15 with the other movement effects where it belongs or leave Feral Charge as a baseline ability for tank druids, and have Wild Charge replace it with a buffed version – give it 30% extra damage after charging rather than 30% haste and it’ll actually be a choice people can decide to make rather than “oh well, the other two talents look nice but I have to take the gap closer.”)

Uh. I clearly have Strong Opinions. Moving on.

Incarnation “activates a superior shapeshifting form based on your specialization.” Force of Nature, they said during the panel, “works a little bit like Guardian of Ancient Kings.” As far as cat druids are concerned, both of these are likely to be a DPS-increasing talent – for bears, they could go either way, boosting survivability or threat.

All in all, I don’t know enough about this talent tier to make a reasoned choice. All I can do is guess (and get angry based on that guess – ahem).

Level 75

Demoralizing Roar is an AoE disorient, Ursol’s Vortex is a short-range AoE Death Grip, Bear Hug is a stun with a damage component.

(Demoralizing Roar as we know and hate it today will be gone. Hooray. As they put it during the panel, it “was just kinda maintenance-y, the debuff wasn’t that interesting” and I’m glad they decided to get rid of it.)

This is interesting. The new Demoralizing Roar strikes me as more of a PVP thing – I honestly can’t see the usefulness of an AoE disorient in PVE, except maybe in very specialized situations. Ursol’s Vortex sounds pretty amazing – 15 yards might not sound that big, but for instance Skull Bash currently has a 13-yard range. It’s going to be a useful ability to get enemies all nice and clumped, both for bears and for cats. Bear Hug at first glance seems more of a PVP thing, and it’s definitely pretty useless for a tank, but… hmmm.

Does it work on bosses? As in – does the damage still go through if the stun component doesn’t?

In cat gear, cat spec and bear form right now I have 145k health, completely unbuffed. Just smacking around a target dummy, Shred hits for 11.5k non-crit. And just for precision’s sake, let’s count autoattacks as well – 1.4k non-crit, once every 0.93 seconds. (I’m wearing a 300agi flask, but considering it’s got almost the full 2 hours left and I have a raid soon, I’m unwilling to click it off. Bear with me.)

Given the 1sec GCD and assuming I’m starting from a full energy bar (or have either Tiger’s Fury or Berserk available), I could Shred a maximum of three times in a 3-second period, for a total damage of 34.5k. Add in four autoattacks (rounding up for sanity’s sake), you get 40.1k. Bear Hugging something, assuming I was at full health, would do 14.5k damage (10% of my health) per tick, three times, for a total damage of 43.5k. I’d also incur a GCD when switching back to cat form, but if I were to Bear Hug when I’m out of energy anyway, I’d be dealing more damage than I would just autoattacking while waiting for my energy bar to fill back up. At worst it’s damage-neutral (assuming I miss two more autoattacks due to having to switch back to cat form); at best, it’s more damage than just autoattacking when waiting on an empty energy bar with nothing available to fill it back up.

Definitely something I’ll want to try out.

Feral tank: Ursol’s Vortex.
Feral DPS: undecided. Ursol’s Vortex offers good utility, but if Bear Hug works on bosses…
Leveling: Ursol’s Vortex, most likely.

Level 90

Heart of the Wild allows you to cover a role that you normally wouldn’t be able to take on for a short time, Master Shapeshifter buffs your spellpower when you use melee attacks and your attack power when you cast non-instant spells, and Disentanglement allows you to shapeshift out of roots and heals you for 20% of your maximum health every time you shapeshift, with the heal being on a 30-second cooldown.

Ehhhh. Not really interested in Master Shapeshifter. Heart of the Wild might come in handy, depending on the effect it has for bear druids – if it allows you to temporarily do decent cat DPS, I might even take it. Disentanglement has the potential to be insanely powerful. Never mind the shifting out of roots (something I very much want back, thank you very much) and the PVP effect of the talent (shift to bear form to turtle out some damage, get a heal to help you out with that)… I find myself wondering if you could use it to heal yourself while tanking, by shifting out of bear form and back in between the boss’ melee swings. It would need very careful timing but could be quite awesome.

Feral tank: Disentanglement for the root removal and the potential, switching in Heart of the Wild for fights in which I would be able to temporarily switch to cat form and try to do some damage (assuming it buffs my cat damage).
Feral DPS: Disentanglement for the root removal and the additional survivability (low health? shift out of cat form and back in to save your skin). Heart of the Wild looks nice on paper – however, the chance that fights will exist where a cat DPS will be wanted as a sub-par tank for 45 seconds every 6 minutes are very slim, and I’d rather talent for myself rather than pick a talent just in case somebody screws up and I need to step up and save the day.
Leveling: Disentanglement for the root removal and the heal both (kill something hard, shift out, heal yourself to 80% and shift back into cat form). Master Shapeshifter might come in handy here, too – hit stuff, shift out and heal yourself better when it’s dead, shift back in and hit stuff harder – but I’m unsure if it’ll make that big a difference.


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