Friday, July 30, 2010

[Druid]Could it be - a Cataclysm talent tree that almost works?

With build 12644, the Cataclysm beta has a feral tree that is almost functionally useful. I say 'almost' because...well, you'll see. But it's certainly better than what we've seen before, and so far it's the most reasonable feral tree since the 31-point massacre.

For the first time one can spec bear or cat and not actually have to take cat/bear talents. That's pretty neat. Sure, most of the talents still don't do anything, others are not working as intended, and many of the actual abilities related to those talents aren't working properly - but who cares, right? Let's look at the talent trees.

This is a 0/33/8 build, in case you were curious. Most of the points are mandatory, though one could spend the last two points from Improved Feral Charge and put them into the last point of Natural Shapeshifter and one point in Master Shapeshifter. No purely cat talents are taken here, and anything that could give some survival as a bear is taken. It's a very basic build, but as stated above there's not a lot of room for flexibility here. All the talents that aren't taken are basically cat talents with marginal or negative usefulness as a bear. Even Natural Shapeshifter is just filler for Perseverance, as the mana cost for shapeshifting is absurdly low currently. Thanks to giving a mini-charge, I consider Brutal Impact to be mandatory for all ferals. I guess one could spec out of Infected Wounds, but there's really not a lot else you might want as strictly bear.

I do have to say I'm thrilled with the change to Feral Aggression; between it making it apply all three stacks at once, FFF not costing rage any more, and it being a lower tier talent it is much, much better.

One big problem here is that the resto tree, as far as ferals are concerned, is very, very poor. Furor still only gives rage back 60% of the time, but it's the best tank talent there is in the first tier. I assume it'll be improved and made 100% with three points, but that's still not amazing. Blessing of the Grove is useless for a bear, and Natural Shapeshifter is almost useless. It's all filler to get to Perseverance. Then we have the rest of the tree, and one can literally take every single talent that affects bear performance positively with the points. I'm assuming that Enrage still reduces armor (it does currently) - in which case King of the Jungle and Primal Madness remain cat-only. So while the tree looks workable, it's not exactly fun, and there's certainly not a lot of agonizing over what choices to make.

Similarly, let's check out the basic cat build:

This is a 0/34/7 build. And similar to bear, there's not a lot of 'choice' here, though there's a bit more than bear. I'm assuming that Predatory Strikes remains mostly a pvp talent, as doing three rakes at the start of a fight with a 90% crit rate sounds like a stellar way to...pull aggro. While Natural Shapeshifter and Master Shapeshifter are marginal (4 talent points for 2% crit) there's really not a lot of option to spend it on otherwise. The only cat-like utility that could exist is Infected Wounds; I elected to buy Survival Instincts and put the final point in 1/3 Furor. And again, given that it gives you a 10-second charge, I consider Brutal Impact a mandatory talent.

Again, the resto tree just sucks for ferals at this point. There's no compelling reason like Omen of Clarity to go deep in the tree, and no talent like Naturalist that gives a really awesome boost to damage per talent point.

So...if bears don't hugely want resto, and cats don't hugely want resto, why take resto? And that leads me to the main reason why I believe the talent trees themselves aren't done yet: the 0/41/0 build.

This takes almost every useful talent in the feral tree, skipping only Predatory Strikes and a point in Nurturing Instinct. One could swap that around as well, having only one point in infected wounds or something like that. This basically would make a completely functional bear and cat build all in one. What does it lose?

From bear, it loses 6% spell damage reduction, 60% chance of 10 rage on shifting to bear, and potentially 2% more damage.

From cat it loses 4% shred damage, 2% crit chance.

Is that optimal? No. But it's very flexible, and if you don't tank a huge amount (or primarily offtank heavy physical damage dealers) or want to have a feral build AND a spellcasting build, this is a pretty nice choice. It loses no utility from bear, compromises very little on threat and only a small amount on incoming damage. It loses a small amount of damage from cat that may be irrelevant depending on how good mangle turns out to be compared to shred; right now mangle is actually neck and neck with shred with the 10% mangle glyph, though all of that is likely to be modified.

This is made possible by the complete lack of super compelling talents in the resto tree. And not a ton of compelling talents in the bear/cat tree, either.

I don't really like this, honestly; I want the difference between a cat and a bear build to be profound. If you wanted to do that before, you'd lose out on quite a bit of good damage dealing talents (like 10% more damage on crits) and have almost no utility. Now you gain all the utility and only lose a bit of damage. That's not enough.

I hope that the feral tree will gain a few more interesting, cool abilities that make you want to take them and make you sweat about which one you didn't take. I also really want resto to have some close to mandatory talents for both specs, so you can't spend all your points in the feral tree like a n00b who thought they could ONLY spend their points in one tree. Unfortunately we're likely to be pretty close to being done with ferals, at least as far as their talents go; my gut feeling is that we'll see a couple of juggled talents here and there, but largely the next step is going to be balance and number crunching. Still, a guy can hope - and at least this time the tree is mostly sane.


Golle said...

Never really thought about the skull bash as a charge. I wonder if you could make it a 1button macro thing.

/castsequence reset=30 Feral Charge(Cat), Skull Bash(cat), Skull Bash(cat)

Would that work?

Rauxis said...

I do not think the tree is completely done - or GC scraped their idea to separate Bear and Cat. But they have been so adamant about prevent a (near) optimal Cat build from being an even half decent off tank and vice versa - but I do not see it in this built.

I'm at a loss with Pulverize - I can't drop the impression that only in real end game guilds - when you fight for the last bit of threat - it will be of real impact. I think it's application is too complicated for Norma Bear.

Improved Feral Charge seems to me a bit superfluos as well - at least PvE wise. And I do not play PvP, so I'm completely at a loss there.

Personally I'd like to come out with a specc that is 90% Bear/90% Cat - so I came up with

but as I said - I'd bet we will see at least one big Feral change. My guess would be an exclusive talent - similar to Fury Warriors. For instance "crit imunity vs savage roar"

Rauxis, chosen of CAT

Mitch said...

Really? Furor only allows you to keep 60 energy on shapeshift? :(

Not a HUGE deal, but annoying for pvp.

Anonymous said...

Ye but ya get an improved 30 sec cd lol

Copey said...

The 0/41/0 build (or what ever it would be at level 80) might be nice for a leveling spec. Get enough cat stuff in there for easy questing, yet still be able to tank 5 mans. I think that would be pretty decent actually if one didn’t want to dedicate a 2nd spec for leveling.

Wouldn’t want to raid with it as either a bear or cat since it isn’t optimal, but I can see it for 80-85 while I kept my off spec dedicated to my secret lover (Moonkin).

Starpaw said...

I've one of those ferals who plays cat and Bear in the same spec. I was inspired by your Anti Tank post long ago. So if they do somehow make it impossible I'll be sad.

I use my second spec for feral pvp, and I gotta tell you it's no secret that Ferals suck in arena. I hope they are doing something to improve it.

Gingershnaps said...

You're right in that the resto tree needs a lot of work to be of use to ferals. Think you could take a look at my blog post? I just wrote up a 2200 word post analyzing the feral talents in the resto tree and I'd love to hear your feedback.

Rauxis said...

The latest build - plus the already announced change swapping "Furor" and "Heart of the Wild" - IMHO has the very "interesting" effect that all speccs will need HotW, and all speccs except maybe bears will need Natural Shapeshifter + Master Shapeshifter. And even bears might need the threat boost.

So that makes it 6 mandatory talent points - 5 of the essentially saying +X% damage/Heal/Threat. Talk about choice :(

Rauxis, chosen of CAT

Kalon said...

Yeah, Rauxis, I've been tempted to write about the more recent changes soon; I need to do some mathy things before I do though, and it seems like I don't have a lot of time.

The talent tree still feels weirdly incomplete and uninteresting. Ferals still feel mostly ignored. My biggest concern is that I was right, and that ferals once again are not getting designed, they're being fixed so that the problems they had this expansion aren't issues. After all, does thrash really matter when you're not AOEing?


Rauxis said...

let me guess - you little one is demanding some attention :)

btw - I think Restos have a similar problem. Nothing really new but a lot of losses, and a healing model that will weigh heavily on the DPS/Healer ratio

Rauxis, chosen of CAT

Rauxis said...

correction - it's not as bad as I thought. Master Shapeshifter has been reduced to 1 point, so it's 4% only - and not 8% as I thought

*grumble about my own silliness*

Rauxis, chosen of CAT

Ashalia said...

My cat build would be 0 / 32 / 9.
I would leave the two points in Nurturing Instinct and put it into 3/3 Furor.

I agree with your 0 / 33 / 8 bear build.

As already said, there are some changes with Furor, Master Shapeshifter und HotW.

Jorani said...

I find it frustrating that they are having so much trouble seperating cat and bear. It seems obvious. Do what they did with mages fire/frost fire specs. Cat be 10/31/0 and bear be 0/31/10. Surely it can't be that hard? Make the resto talents bear only(or critical) and make the balance cat only(5%-10% dps boost). Or put critical talents there. Like move armour bonus to L2 resto. Put shred/claw crit boost etc in balance tree L2.