WoW Class Balance and Design Q&A — Organized Transcript

Druid


I noticed in a sample of the druid talent tree coming up in MoP, that there seems to not be many restoration-specific talents. In fact it seems a lot like hybrid-esque talents. Is this intentional? Will the lack of restoration talents be made up for in the spells they get?

The overall philosphy of the Druid talent treee is to bring some hybridization back to the Druid class. The 4 Druid specs have become very focused on never using the forms that they do not specialize in. We would like to bring the whole class back together more. So, interesting functionality themed around the different combat roles has been introduced. Some players have objected that they aren’t good at the other roles, and those abilities aren’t worth the global cooldown they cost. To address this, we are making the existing Nurturing Instinct talent baseline to both Feral and Guardian Druids, and making a new talent which grants attack power based on Intellect for Restoration and Balance Druids. That will make the occasional use of core class abilities that require other forms useful even to the Restoration Druid. In addition, the combination of talents may let a Restoration Druid do things like use Demoralizing Roar, which cc’s nearby enemies, triggers an instant heal (from Disentanglement), and increases armor and health all in a single gcd. That capability is useful to Restoration Druids even in a raid setting.

Correction, not a new talent, a new baseline abiltiy for Resto and Balance that grants ap from Intellect.


In the old talent trees, a lot of the talents gave players spec-specific gameplay mechanics that are core to its gameplay, such as the Mage’s Hot Streak talent. Others, such as Infected Wounds for Druids, also provided important benefits/mechanics, but might not be necessary to take depending on raid composition (i.e. if another player brought the debuff). With the new talent system, how are these mechanics going to be incorporated into the classes? It would seem overwhelming to players to roll all of the core spec mechanics into the “Level 10 Pick Your Spec” decision, and are talents like Infected Wounds going to be made choices of some sort, or are they also just going to be rolled into the spec?

In most cases, if it’s a fun mechanic, we give it to your spec. All Fire mages get Hot Streak at a certain level. Feral druids (but not Guardian druids – the new bear spec) learn Infected Wounds. As with every expansion, we are taking a close look at buffs and debuffs, simplifying the matrix a bit, and making sure you don’t feel like you are locked into a certain debuff.


Are there any plans to simplify the feral cat druid dps rotations or are you happy where they are right now?

The Feral rotation has been simplified slightly in 4.3 by renaming the Glyph of Shred and allowing it to trigger off Mangle instead. In addition, in 5.0 Mangle will no longer cause a bleed damage debuff and so no longer be required in the rotation. At that point, the two abilities will be interchangeable, changing only by whether a Feral Druid can attack from behind or not. That will make Feral easier to play in high movement encounters and encounters with facing restrictions. The current Feral Charge and Stampede talents are becoming part of Wild Charge, so you can select not to have that complexity with Ravage. Past that, we are pretty happy with the rotation and feel there is a strong Feral community that enjoys the current rotation.


Moonkin are losing many of their core talents to the general “druid talent tree.” How will they be compensated? It seems like we’ll probably be forced to take these talents while the other druid specs will have options. Why were many more (500%?) balance talents taken away while talents from other specs werent?

If you look at the tree carefully, you will find that talents from other Druid specs were also placed in the tree, such as Tree of Life, Feral Charge, Feline Swiftness, and Nature’s Swiftness. In general, if a Druid wishes to keep the exact same abiltiies they have today, they can, they are just locking themselves out of some of the new choices. In particualr, the level 60 row has Feral Charge vs. Tree of Life vs. Force of Nature. Each of the existing 4.3 specs has something in that row, and the exciting opportunity to take something that belonged to a different spec instead.


With the previously mentioned removal of the +bleed debuff will Feral druids have Mangle taken away to become Guardian only and Shred lose its positional requirement. Without the bleed debuff and its obvious lower damage output than shred, Mangle is extremely situational especially when somebody else is already providing the ability. Or will Mangle debuff on the target just increase the feral druids bleeds and shred damage?

Mangle and Shred will both exist for Feral (cats). Mangle will no longer apply a debuff, but will be usable from any facing, whereas Shred will offer slightly more overall DPS if you are able to stay behind the target. Guardians (bears) will have Mangle, but not Shred.


For the Druid talent: Incarnation, what does this talent do to Balance/Moonkin Players?

Incarnation for Balance transforms the Druid in to the Chosen of Elune Form, which currently increases spell damage done and Solar and Lunar energy generated. That is, of course, subject to change.


Rogues and Feral Druids currently spend a good portion of their attack time just sitting and Autoattacking because they have to wait for Energy regen. Is there anything that you guys are thinking about to help lessen the waiting?

Honestly, we would prefer if all classes worked like that. The Energy model is the one that is most tolerant for lag, player error, movement and just giving players a chance to stop tunneling so much on the target and pay a little attention to the rest of the fight. We don’t like it when any class fills every GCD. It works okay for casters, as long as they aren’t using all instant spells.


I think this is the main question that feral druids seems to have right now: when you said that Shred will do “slightly” more damage than Shred, did that mean that mangle is going to get buffed a little to provide less penalities in the several encounters we can’t Shred? Because the difference between those skills is pretty big currently. ^^

Our own internal numbers show that once the Glyph of Shred works from Mangle as well as Shred, the difference between a Mangle and a Shred rotation is actually fairly small (in the 5% range).


As a Druid, I feel that the level 90 talents feel too much like work. You guys put so much effort into making the Moonkin unique and more complex, so why force us to shift more often to “fill other combat roles?” Poor kitties are going to have a nightmare of a time dealing with this…

The level 90 Druid talents deliberately come in 3 different levels of work required. Heart of the Wild is perfect for an encounter where there is a period where increased healing is needed for a short time, and dps is not the need of the encounter. Something like the Chimaeron encounter where more healing is needed at certain times, and dps is less important. Master Shapeshifter targets the Druid who is willing to do a lot of work shifting back and forth or occasionally needs to heal or damage, such as Blood Queen Lanathel, where a Tranquility boosted by the talent would help your group a lot during her air phase. Disentanglement is there for the “lazy” Druid who doesn’t want to do that work, but still gets some benefit from a well-timed shapeshift.


There hasn’t been any questions answered about Resto Druids yet. Can you talk about our extremely weak state in PvP and the fact that we’re the only healer not only not seeing a buff but seeing a nerf in 4.3?

We will definitely be addressing some of the PvP weakness of Resto Druids in 5.0. For one, the ability to recreate the Restokin builds of earlier expansions was introduced in the talent trees. Carefully selecting talents like Typhoon and Wild Charge together will give Restoration Druids a lot more opportunity to control. One of the new abilities Resto Druids will get baseline is a replacement for Barkskin that can be cast on others with the same effect and cooldown. Finally, we have a new level 87 ability abiltiy in mind for all Druids called Symbiosis that will blwo your mind and potentially add a lot of flexibility and utility, including survivabiltiy options.


A lot people are worried that with druids being able to do well at our other roles, we’ll see the return of the “hybrid tax”. It’s the same old story: if we can perform any role when needed, raids will stack us, unless we don’t do as well in our specific roles, in which case we’re bad at what we most want to do. What assurance can we get that we won’t have this problem?

We are very interested in opening opportunities for more hybrid gameplay in druids, as you can see in the level 90 talent tier, while still allowing an option for players who want to never do anything outside their role. We don’t intend for that added hybridization to be offset by any sort of DPS nerf. While DPSing, a druid’s DPS will be entirely competitive with other DPS. We hope to see druids that do things like, “DPS in Cat Form most of the fight, but during one phase, when healing is super difficult, pop out of Cat, hit Heart of the Wild, Tranquility, and spam heals on the raid to help top everyone off, then go back to Cat and resume DPSing.” In that sort of the situation, the Cat will have spent less time DPSing than other DPSers, but his/her DPS while DPSing would have been competitive, and in exchange helped save the raid when healers were falling behind. You can probably think of many situations where this would be useful in raid content, or in some 5man content, and frequently in PvP. To clarify a bit further on how the druids will perform at their off-roles: Ferals and Guardians will have Nurturing Instinct, which increases spell power based on Agility, and Balance and Restoration will have Killer Instinct, which increases attack power based on Intellect. They will have a smaller toolbox of spells for their off-role, but the strength of those spells will be competitive, when under the effects of those hybrid talents.

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