As pointed out on MMO-Champion, Blizzard have released the round-up of the changes for 4.1 which is a strong indicator that the patch itself will be released at the next reset. Let’s take a look at what these changes mean for feral druids.
- Lacerate bonus threat has been removed and replaced with increased initial damage done.
- Enrage no longer increases physical damage taken.
- Prowl has a new icon.
- Savage Defense has been redesigned slightly. Instead of a single charge absorption, it now places an absorption effect on the druid absorbing up to 35% of the druid’s attack power (modified by mastery, if applicable) in damage and lasting 10 seconds. There are no longer any charges on the effect.
- Stampeding Roar’s duration has been increased to 8 seconds, up from 6. The movement speed effect has been increased to 60%, up from 40% and is no longer cancelled by cancelling shapeshift form.
- Swipe (Bear) cooldown has been reduced to 3 seconds, down from 6, and is now on trainable at level 18 (training cost has been reduced). In addition, the bonus threat from this ability has been removed and replaced with increased damage done.
- Swipe (Cat) damage has been doubled.
- Thrash bonus threat has been removed and replaced with increased damage done.
- Druids now innately have 100% pushback protection from damage while channeling Tranquility.
- Berserk is no longer on the global cooldown.
- Feral Swiftness now also causes Dash and Stampeding Roar to have a 50/100% chance to instantly remove all movement impairing effects from the affected targets when used.
- Glyph of Rake is now Glyph of Pounce, which increases the range of Pounce by 3 yards.
Druid Bug Fixes
- The troll druid models for Flight Form and Swift Flight Form has slimmed down to be more in scale with other druid flight forms.
- Druids should no longer have UI issues after leaving a vehicle.
There appear to be a number of changes designed to encourage bear tanks, from snap threat on Lacerate to the re-design of Savage Defence and the reduced cooldown on Swipe. There’s also two nice quality-of-life changes in Enrage not causing damage and Berserk moving off the global cooldown. The adjustment to the level required to learn Swipe is intended to make low-level bear tanking easier, but as Sunnier Bear wrote there are still a number of issues with low level bears.
The cat changes (yes, all three of them) are not great, but are potentially moving in the right direction. First up, the new icon for Prowl is neither here nor there. Secondly the Feral Swiftness change allows a druid to escape all movement-impairing effects twice every two minutes. While I accept that Blizzard are staunchly maintaining the shapeshifting nerf was necessary and we are very unlikely to see it reverted, this does return some of the mobility we lost.
Finally, a change with enormous potential to fix our issues with aoe-damage in raiding; Swipe (Cat) damage has been doubled. When this was first announced there were a number of surprised and jubilant druids – surprised because Blizzard made the change quite late in the PTR cycle without previously acknowledging any of the feral issues, and jubilant because it seems completely over-powered. In the comments of the linked post a number of people have admitted they expect this change to get them killed on every trash pack in the first week after it goes live, while Alaron himself half-jokingly pointed out we may have to use a hybrid build and be ready to go bear after pulling aggro with a single Swipe.
After thinking about the Swipe change, I do still have some concerns. The initial problem was that our aoe damage was both low and unsustainable. The first problem is more or less sorted, our aoe burst will be incredibly high. However, unless Berserk is available Swipe will run out of steam very quickly indeed due to the prohibitive energy cost of it. A smart player will be able to get around this issue by knowing the fight, but possibly at the expense of missing damage in other phases or portions of the fight due to not having a damage cooldown available. We shall see how it pans out, but this is definitely a step in the right direction even if it is not the complete solution to our aoe problems.
In slightly more general changes, Kalon gave a really great run down of the gear available, mainly from a bear perspective but there is a useful paragraph for cats as well. The return of Zul’Gurub and Zul’Aman sound like a lot of fun, but if there is a requirement to run them for the increased valour they may become very repetitive very quickly – 7 random heroics a week, chosen between two destinations does sound quite limited. Guild challenges, weekly random heroic rewards and the Call to Arms “bribe” are all interesting changes, and in my opinion, mainly for the better.