Shifting Perspectives: Patch 6.2 druid notes and set bonuses
Welcome to Shifting Perspectives, Blizzard Watch’s regular column for druids of all vocations. This week, Chase Hasbrouck (@alarondruid) is hoping for Patchnote Christmas.
It’s that time again! Patch 6.2 is here, heralding the release of a new raid dungeon in our near future. We’ve got lots to talk about, so let’s dive right in and discuss patch 6.2 Druid changes for each specialization from the PTR patch notes, and the datamined new set bonuses as revealed by Wowhead. Disclaimer: As always, the PTR is a testing realm, so always expect changes from current builds.
- Item – Druid T18 Balance 2P Bonus: Your Moonfire has a chance to summon a Faerie Dragon to assist you in battle for 30 sec.
- Item – Druid T18 Balance 4P Bonus: When a Faerie Dragon is summoned, your arcane and nature damage is increased by 5% for 30 sec.
Nothing to see here. Let’s move on.
Oh, you wanted buffs? Changes? Interesting set bonuses? NOPE! Hopefully, these set bonuses are placeholders, because these bonuses are both completely passive and completely boring. We can’t really gauge how effective they are until we see what the Dragon’s uptime and damage looks like, but it’ll have to be spectacular to save this set. I would definitely plan on using T17 for a while. As for the small Mastery nerf, it isn’t that significant; I expect Mastery to remain the best Balance stat.
- Item – Druid T18 Feral 2P Bonus: Increases your Omen of Clarity proc chance by 2% and increases your maximum Energy by 10.
- Item – Druid T18 Feral 4P Bonus: During Omen of Clarity, your next Cat Form ability generates 100% of its Energy cost when used.
Currently in 6.1, Feral druids are in a bit of a difficult place. While they are among the best at single-target damage, their AoE is very poor, even after the 6.1 buffs. n theory, this would balance out. In practice, the single-target advantage is inconsequential — Butcher was the only boss that it mattered on — while the AoE weakness is crippling on fights such as Blast Furnace, Kromog, and Thogar. I had hoped that 6.2 would rectify this to some degree; instead, we’re seeing primarily single-target buffs. Yes, the Thrash buff helps, but it’s primarily an enabler of Swipe, not something we spam.
The set bonuses are little better. One of the most enjoyable things about the Feral playstyle is the strategic use of your energy pool; while pushing all the correct buttons as soon as they light up works okay, thinking ahead and saving energy for adds, trinkets, etc. is much better. With these set bonuses, all that goes out the window. You’ll want to keep your energy pool as empty as possible in order to maximize the energy gains from the 4-piece set bonus, and you’ll be very much at the mercy of RNG. That’s not strategic play, that’s button-mashing.
- Bear Form now increases armor by 285% (up from 250%) for Guardian Druids.
- Healing Touch no longer cancels Bear Form for Guardian Druids.
- Savage Defense now also reduces physical damage taken by 25%.
- Frenzied Regeneration now refunds a proportional amount of excess healing dealt back to the Druid as Rage.
- Thrash now deals 10% more damage.
- Dream of Cenarius‘ effect can now be stored for up to 40 seconds (up from 20 seconds) for Guardian Druids.
- Item – Druid T18 Guardian 4P Bonus: Savage Defense also reduces the cost of Frenzied Regeneration and Tooth and Claw by 50%.
Unfortunately, we don’t know what the 2-piece set bonus is yet, but what’s here is almost all good. The Bear Form and Thrash buffs bring Guardians back into line with other tanks for damage mitigation and AoE damage, while the Frenzied Regeneration, Dream of Cenarius, and Healing Touch changes are quality-of-life fixes that close some newbie traps. (If you’ve ever gotten splattered because you hit Healing Touch just after the buff dropped and shifted out of bear, you’re not alone.) Note that this doesn’t mean Healing Touch is castable in form — it just means that auto-unshift is disabled, which is a much more sensible default.
The Savage Defense buffs are much more significant, however. If this stays as-is, Savage Defense goes from strong (compared to abilities like Shield of the Righteous and Shield Block) to super-strong. I foresee that planning out when to use Savage Defense during a fight will become even more important in Hellfire Citadel than it is now, as Frenzied Regeneration and Tooth and Claw are both fairly weak in comparison. The set bonus helps with this to a degree, but not significantly so.
- Item – Druid T18 Restoration 2P Bonus: Your Lifebloom has a 30% chance to bloom when it periodically heals.
- Item – Druid T18 Restoration 4P Bonus: You can Lifebloom two targets at once.
Well, there’s no real changes to note yet, so let’s talk about Aspect of the Fox’s removal from hunters and how it effectively nerfs Restoration druids. As things currently stand in the Mythic healing game, discipline priests and holy paladins are mandatory includes due to their current strength; the remaining healers for a given fight are added as the fight’s damage profile dictates. In this world, a Restoration druid’s primary contribution is their ability to single-handedly counter heavy burst AoE damage with Tranquility. Aspect of the Fox meant that contribution was reliable; you never had to worry about losing the majority of the cast because you were targeted by a raid mechanic.
Post-6.2, that is no longer the case. This means less-powerful but more reliable healer cooldowns such as Revival are much more valuable. (Yes, you can still utilize a paladin’s Blessing of Protection in similar fashion, but there’s often many other potential uses for BoP.) It’d like to see a glyph be added for Tranquility that enabled it to be cast on-the-move; this forces the druid to drop one of the other useful restoration glyphs, which I think is an acceptable tradeoff.
As for the set bonuses, I need some more clarification. First, we don’t know if the 2-piece bonus means the lifebloom is consumed by the bloom — which would be terrible — or just adds an “extra” bloom. Assuming the second, this is still pretty uninteresting – it’s just extra tank healing, which is not a Restoration druid’s main niche to begin with. Second, we don’t know if the extra Lifebloom granted by the 4-piece bonus can proc Omen of Clarity. Assuming it doesn’t — because that would make the Moment of Clarity talent very overpowered — this is a decent set bonus, but it’s not great. Lifebloom is still basically a better Rejuvenation, and while it’s nice you can have a second one, casting it is still time you could’ve spent casting something else.
While this technically applies to all specs, it’s only really relevant for Feral and Balance; Restoration treants don’t do damage, and Guardians only use Force of Nature in very specific situations, such as Challenge Modes, where they need the CC. I’ve only had a chance to test Feral, and Incarnation remains better for overall DPS, though the gap is much closer. I suspect Balance is similar. I’m hopeful that there will be some strategic uses for it in Hellfire Citadel, if only to give Incarnation a rest; there’s been virtually no reason to use anything else for Highmaul and Blackrock Furnace.
That’s it for patch 6.2 Druid coverage for now; if anything breaks, I’ll be sure to cover it in my next column. I’d love to hear your feedback — what’s your mood like after seeing the 6.2 changes?
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