World of Warcraft Cataclysm Druid Changes
Druids have seen changes to how their class operates in Cataclysm. Feral, balance, and restoration druids need to adjust to the changes from the earlier expansions.
Introducing the New Cataclysm Druid Abilities
The Cataclysm Druid changes occurred without much fanfare. Feral, balance and restoration druids have had their play style changed. The balance tree had its focus changed slightly. Restoration and Feral druids experienced the largest number of changes designed to make them more effective at their intended group roles. Feral druids received a more effective AoE taunt, balance druids got a star surge and a tool that helps them manage their eclipse states and restoration druids have had their area of effect heals upgraded considerably. Each druid talent tree received a mastery ability.
Changes for the Balance Talent Tree
The eclipse mastery ability increases the damage of the wrath and of the starfire spell when a druid achieves an eclipse state of the appropriate type. The higher the druid's mastery rating, the more damage his spells do. Lunar eclipse has had the high damage dot sun fire added to it. Sunfire helps make up the difference between the damage done by wrath and starfire in the different eclipse types.
Solar beam, a talent which silences mobs for 8 seconds enhances the raid usefulness of balance druids. Eight seconds pass quickly in the real world, but the short time can seem like an eternity in a raid. Healers appreciate the lack of spell damage caused by enemy casters during this time.
Changes for the Feral Tree
Healers worried about having a feral druid for a tank in The Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King. Paladins, death knights and warriors kept the attention of mobs more easily than bear druids did. Area effect taunt abilities caused feral druids to tank multiple mobs with difficulty. The Cataclysm expansion fixed this oversight. Bear tanks can now use mangle to hold the attention of multiple mobs.
Mangle does a small amount of damage and applies a bleed to targets within ten yards. Bear tanks, as with other tanks, need to know where mobs are in relation to their abilities. Any damage breaks most crowd control abilities.
Feral druids gain two symbiosis abilities. Savage defender will reduce the damage you take from mobs as a result of the savage defense ability. Razor claws, an ability designed to help feral druid dps, increases the damage the druid’s bleeds do while in cat form.
Changes for the Restoration Tree
Restoration druids saw the biggest change to their raid healing abilities. MP5 gear dominated Wrath of the Lich King. MP5 gear does not exist in cataclysm. Spirit now affects a character's mana regeneration. New abilities such as nourish, lifebloom, and swiftmend make up the bulk of the changes for healing druids.
A high level ability called swiftmend makes it easier to heal melee characters near the tank. Swiftmend converts the a rejuvenation or a regrowth heal over times spells into a high hit point heal heal. Swiftmend works well to keep a tank or other characters taking a lot of damage alive. The Effloresence talent causes a green circle to appear underneath the character swiftmend was used on. Characters standing in this circle receive a heal over time effect.
Overall Changes to Druids
Intellect is a more important stat for balance and restoration druids in Cataclysm than it was in previous expansions. Intellect affects a character’s spell power and his mana pool. The important feral druid statistics are unchanged. Dodge for druids is important as defense is for plate wearing tanks.
The emphasis on crowd control means that druids may need to put the hibernate spell on their hotbar. Hibernate puts animal mobs to sleep for 30 seconds. The Entangling roots spell keeps a mob in place in an emergency.
The Cataclysm druid changes made the life of the restoration and feral druid easier. Experienced players only need to make small changes to their play style to use the new druid abilities effectively. Balance druids can no longer expect to compete with warlocks and mages for the top damage per second slots. Solar beam does not make up for the loss of higher damage per second. High level gear may cause balance druid damage to reach its former levels.