Well, first off, the talent is really about the stacking debuff on the boss, not the heal->damage conversion. You're right that such a talent would be lackluster if that was the only benefit, but more because I'm pretty sure we won't be seeing any off-tier spell damage leather anymore. My guess is that, given they want to consolidate itemization so that we don't see wasted drops anymore, we'll be wearing tier gear where it exists, and healing leather in the remaining slots. This talent, besides the debuff, brings that gear to be on par with damage leather. They don't want this conversion to be accessible to all Druids, as it would make healers too powerful, but to give us a talent that only has the conversion would be a nasty way to go, forcing us to spend talents to cover their lack of itemization. So they split the difference and tacked it onto a talent they knew we'd take.
When I first saw that aspect of the Nature Fury buff, my thoughts went to +spell dmg/healing gear and general dps increase contribution. To make sure it wasn't a one off, i looked at the other caster trees for any gear related or general damage increase talents and wrote a post concerning all the damage increase talents paying closer attention to the more general ones and less situational ones.
You will probably find that all the caster trees do get a general damage increase of some sort, some more remarkable than others which imo reflect their stronger pre-WotLK lead is being chipped away a bit more, some caster class trees were alot more popular and more valued than others. I am inclined to believe this talent 20% healing conversion WILL apply to spell damage/healing gear as well as +heal only gear, because every tree has got some general dps talent boost, for e.g. arcane mages get damage increase based on spirit now, whiles frost get a flat extra percentage, Shadow priests and balance druids' version is 20% more healing converting to damage. But unless someone's friend who is on the Alpha can have a spy at the screen and report their findings, or someone who has a friend who has a private server, it's hard to ascertain the meaning as of yet. This is bearing in mind things will change.
Wow, I hadnâ€™t really sat down with them in a calculator before...
The tree is way too bloated. It seems the resto 15 are almost mandatory, but then that makes us pick and choose our moonkin talents a lot. In its current state, its almost like you have to respec for any aoe encounters, and lost straight dmg ability to get there.
I did, and noticed the bloated trend was right across the board which for me, pointed to one of two things: 1. A serious press to make even tougher more complex choices, OR 2.A big surprise like a bonus 10 points is coming in the WotLK. But before you scream impossible, overpowered etc at this thought, have a little think about it, and try a few combinations on warriors, priests and druids with an extra 10 points in the War Pirate talent calculators, it makes talents a hell of a lot more exciting with 10 more, especially if you thought you would only get 71 talents at level 80 and would have to do either a lot of respeccing or miss out on some really interesting stuff, then you discovered you get an extra 10 points. You will still have to make interesting choices, however you will have more leeway and it will allow pure PvE specs to be able to take some more pvp orientated talents and so have some effectiveness in PvP without a complete respec and vice versa especially for the 90% more casual population. Above all though, it would be immense fun because it gives the possibility of an extra spell, i.e. getting both the 51 point talent and the 21 point talent for all classes, although some would go 50/31 instead.
Changed Balance Spells
Entangling Roots/Nature's Grasp - no longer restricted indoors.
Hurricane - Cooldown removed, attack speed reduction increased to 50%, also reduces spell casting time by 50%. (Screenshot: http://img.photobuck...pg?t=1211672979)
Indoor roots means the lower tree mat finally carry its weight in raids, depending on how many melee, root-able mobs are in the trash pulls. Hurricane is quite amazing now, double the effect and no cooldown.
Entangling roots indoors at last. Although I will be upset that some will still moan about druids getting this when the official changes are announced IF it is included in the patch notes. I'm tired of pointing out to un-desirables that the impact of this spell will not affect Mage CC supremacy, neither will groups flock to take healer druids because they can do this. The complainers tend to completely forget roots has been part of the druid arsenal since the very beginning, it did not make druids hugely more popular as dps dealers, healers or tanks in outdoor instances because of this. Off course many of them lack foresight and haven't played the druid at all therefore will fail to realise only balance chiefly benefits from this despite restoration and feral able to do this. As a feral druid, you will not be shifting out to root as you fight, infact only if there is no CC in the group would you open with a root then shift, and you would hate doing that between sets of mobs in 5-mans where this spell will have the greatest impact, because you will lose a lot of rage or all your energy.
As a healer also you will not be wasting mana going in and out of tree form to use this and maintain it seeing how +spell hit affects it and as feral or healer it may break, making it necessary to be refreshed in crucial moments, not to mention it's effectiveness on largely melee mobs (groups won't be clever enough to use LOS on range mobs when most groups in CoT, ZF, ZG where roots are used don't even know how to move out of melee range of a rooted mob)...like fear/mind control it's a class 3 CC, just slightly better than those, with Trap being a class 2 CC, and polymorph/shackle/banish/hibernate being class I because they are most idiot proof. Notice how a healing priest never casts mind control, but if there are undead mobs will almost always kick off with a shackle. Likewise resto druids will cast hibernate but not roots in CoT for eg... Balance druids will now have a much appreciated 5-man incentive, but the cries will disappear like they did for the change to hunters trap, when it goes live as people would realise that non-druid dps, tanks and healers wont' lose any viability. The important thing is that blizzard have finally seen this is a good restriction to lift, [P.s roots remains one of the few spells like thorns demonstrating druidic Earth magic, for indoors, a druid merely parts the stone as he beckons the roots to grow through and trap his target]
Thorns: Finally this buff is made useful with alot more damage, ideally i would have liked to see this damage increase combined with a percentage damage reduciton, say 25% of the reflected thorns damage is a damage reduction, because in principle the idea is that thorns grow on your person, someone hitting you will take damage from hitting you but also the impact of their strike on you would be lessened as your thorns and not you will absorb some of their blow.
Those of you pre 1.7 would havve noticed the classic wow spell description of thorns which was worded as "reflects damage" which implied by logic that it damages the attacker and the attackers strike on you loses as much as the thorns damage i.e a DR component. Other ideas may have been brambles extending to spells or getting that DR, it remains to be seen if the Thorns spell has also changed to reflect a DR of some sort, highly unlikely but it's worth someone who has a friend with access seeing if this is the case.
Conclusion is that even with out the afore mentioned DR, the massive thorns damage increase makes it essential to have on the tanks in PvE, and brambles boosting that damage makes it worthwhile getting. Tanks will feel the benefit of this, once they feel, they will demand it as standard. Also it extending to trees, combined with the reduced cooldown of Force of Nature AND a damage increase in force of nature may make the trees a decent PvE spell I am quite fond of. The daze effect is almost wholly PvP, but people concluding stun/daze etc abilities as pvp only tend to overlook that many PvE encounters including raids have mobs where these effects actually would work on and would actually be useful, like the feral trees wotlk infected wounds ability. Increasingly large amounts of boss fights are incorporating adds as an important feature or mechanic of an encounter, and having abilities that do these things are becoming increasingly more relevant in PvE than previously.
New Balance Talents
Gale Winds - Increases damage done by your Hurricane and Typhoon spells by 25/50%, and increases the range of your Cyclone spell by 10/20%. (Requires 40 points in Balance)
May be worth it if there is a lot of aoe to do in WotLK raids.
Typhoon (Rank 1, 645 Mana, Instant, 20 yd range, 2 min cooldown) - You summon a violent Typhoon that does 530 Nature damage when in contact with hostile targets, knocking them back 5 yards. (41 point talent, requires Moonkin Form)
Interesting, I am guessing it will work like the zuljin phase 3 tornadoes, but do the damage on the knock-back, not on spell-casting (though that might have been cooler).
Starfall (Rank 1, 866 mana, instant, 30 yd range, 3 min cooldown) - You summon a flurry of stars from the sky on all targets within 30 yards of the caster, each doing 500 Arcane damage, and an additional 170 Arcane to all nearby targets within 10 yards. Maximum 20 stars. Lasts 10 sec." (51 point Talent)
Quite a nice aoe, although I am curious how the stars work, is it 1 star per target per second until 20 have dropped? Also with these new aoe spells it would be nice if they were included in some of the damage increasing talents like moonfury ad vengeance (since it seems like they both could crit).
Starfall: I have thought long and hard about this. The Starscryers at the start of tempest keep also cast Starfall if you want to see the graphic of it, pay closer attention to them next time you are in there. Historically, it is a Night Elf in origin ability, as to which discipline, Moonguard, Priesthood, Druid it is native too, is unkonwn as yet, but becoming a Druid class ability may mean it is native to druidism as one of the more "Heavenly" based abilities. You see that druids aren't the only casters of moonfire and other druidic abilities which you sometimes see Wizards/Sorcerers cast and mobs like the Owlkin. The druids have a unique relationship with the Moonkin who are considered sacred creatures of Elune by Night Elves, but blizzard have yet to elaborate. Tyrande Whisperwind can cast a Starfall also in WC3 which suggests it is not Sorcery based spell despite being Arcane Magic, she could have learnt it from the druids as readers of the War of the Ancients know that she trained with Malfurion under Cenarius a while. Anyway the origin of spells is not often revealed, the only thing that could possibly have a druid a priest and a mage like caster such as a Starscryer in common might be a relatively focused but obscure type of nature casting, afterall being scryer does not necessarily mean you only cast arcane spells or are a mage even, doing blood elf starting area shows that the Night Elves are attempting to scry on the Blood Elves to see what they are up to, and it seems some focused use of moon and starlight is employed.
This ability from its description I intepret to mean that 20 starts will fall on EACH target within 30 yrds radius of the Druid casting it. Each star may crit, and if it lasts 10 secs that is 2 stars per second. the 20 stars is stated so you know it is not a random amount of objects and the number has some significance especially when doing a damage analysis. Off course an extra 170 affecting targets within 10 yards has 3 effects to it. Firstly, if there is a cap on the amount of targets an aoe can hit, this spill over will hit the remaining, 2. Those closer to the druid will take more damage, whether this can crit independently of a Star I cannot determine yet.3. It will generate a lot of threat, expect the startfall to cause the mobs to rush to the druid, if this means a mob leaving it's position even if running towards the druid, will make it avoid the star that was falling on it, then the spill over damage may be compensation, however this is unlikely, as aoe effects have so far continued without change as long as targets are in the tooltip defined raidus. but it is a possibility.
Considering Starfall then, you will have the highest damage dealing AoE in the game, pretty much like hurricane at one point was, but again limited by cooldown, making you being outdamaged overall in the long run aoe wise by mages/locks easily who have a far more flexible and versatile arsneal of AoEs. However do not moan or complain, balance druids have been shockingly weak on AoE for so long, a shame for such an AoE class through lore.. finally it has some reflection in game mechanics. Starfall would be incredible burst, and as Moonkin you have the armor for dealing with aggro. Dropping Hurricane's cooldown means there IS a continuous aoe at last, and Gale Winds will make it stronger than blizzard and Rain of Fire as a spell, but bear in mind it's your only contnuous aoe whiles they have many.
Finally some AoE tanking will be seen. Only the Death Knight and Protection Paladin will be able to AoE tank better than thebalance druid, currently as a balance druid i'm often in many enough groups/raid without a protection paladin and some mages,locks where even with the recent change to thunderclap warriors and druid tanks (who can kick of with hurricane but seldom do) are unable to hold aggro on Mages. The AoE additions through Starfall, Typhoon, Hurricane (which you'd presumably cast in that order) will have the mobs stick to you like glue. With your 400% AC and barkskin at least through the first hurricane, you will effectively AoE tank and you're far easier to heal. It's a small but welcome boost in usefulness for a balance druid.
However do remember that whiles 75% of the AoE fights in TBC do not last longer than 15secs, there are important ones that do, and how long a section lasts depends on how many AoE you have. I remember once doing a Solarian fight with only 1 mage and 2 locks, now imagine if it was just 1 mage, 1 lock and 1 moonkin? the aoe period there would be longer than it would be with your usual 5mages/locks/ele shaman and shadow priest who also get a channelled AoE to their arsenal. Also WotLK may have more complex AoE encounters. Note that with a Frost Death Knight or Protection Paladin, you will not take aggro and you can spam hurricane after your starfall and tycoon to your heart's content.
I don't know how Typhoon works, but it could be darn useful spell both for damage AND when you're AoE tanking or simply casting AoEs. IF the Typhoon circles you it would be awesome, all the aoes can stand ontop of you and get some protection as it would knock back mobs 5yards reducing the amount actaully hitting you or whoever is tanking a little bit for at least 10 secs. Making it easier on healers to heal you or whoever is tanking. A nice compliment. Shame about the 2 min cooldown
So it looks like although Starfall is the highest damaging AoE in the game, the new moves will not make balance druids quite as huge on the aoe damage as mage/locks, HOWEVER it looks like the new spells are DEFINITELY giving us AoE utility. The ability to AoE tank in the abscence of tanking Death Knight/Paladin seeing as we are the next best suited to take the pounding amongst the casters, and also giving some protection to AoEers. I like that. It effectively means that in your 75% cases of 10secs or less AOE time, I can measure up in damage to the other AoErs, in such cases tanking aoe or protecting is near irrelcant as it's over so quickly. In the longer aoe fights, I lose damage to the aoe maestro's but i still have utility in that I'm either protecting whoever is tanking or tanking myself as well in the aoe finally having a decent PvE use for that extra armor. My hurricane also slows casting speed and attack speed, so basically what i lack in AoE damage, i make up for in AOE utility.
Very clever and well thought out by blizzard. Let us not jump the gun however though, we don't know how Typhoon works.
Improved Moonkin Form - Your Moonkin Aura also causes affected targets to have a 33/66/100% chance to gain 100% spell haste when they critically hit with spells for 10 seconds. This effect cannot occur more than once every few seconds. (Requires 30 points in Balance, Requires Moonkin Form)
[I]Well we have been asking for improved moonkin aura of some kind for quite a while, but I think anyone suggesting this particular version of it would have been laughed off the boards. There must be some caveat we aren't thinking of but maybe they just REALLY want people to take us to raids. NOTE: This talent may have a tooltip bug and these numbers may be completely off, please refrain from QQing or getting hopes up about its OP nature.
Contrary to the cynic, I do not believe this is a typo, balance druids have been markedly weak in their contribution to groups when compared against elemental shaman and shadow priests, 1 on 1 against the other caster classes there have been no contest really, it has been one of the worse builds in the game since itâ€™s started and seemed to only get leftovers and quick makeovers as you saw in patch 1.8, even in TBC again EVERY build had a lift over including balance, but where feral came out quite smooth, balance again seemed patched up, lump them with a lot more dps and mana regen makes them able to at least dps, and throw in a couple of group buffs, which are helpful off course to have in group but not a patch on the others. Face with having 1 space to left and having to choose between an elemental shaman, balance druid and shadow priest, I would never pick the TBC balance druid given all 3 were in similar level gear and of similar skill. This is the ability that really makes the balance druid worth having. Seriously. 6% arcane/nature damage is nice, but small, as is the utility in the AoEing. We needed one powerful new addition, 1 extra bonus, and the fixing of the broken or not quite so useful ones. Thatâ€™s what we got.
Powerful group ability is the Improved Moonkin aura, the bonus is the Natureâ€™s Fury arcane debuff, the fixed/buffed poorer existing abilities was Thorns and Imp Faerie Fire. I do not believe the tooltip is wrong at all, we have not had a serious contending ability yet, and this is it. Finally to elevate the balance druids to the other casters. And whiles it may get nerfed a little like Imp LotP was and the Enhancement Shamanâ€™s attack power buff was, I doubt and hope it wonâ€™t be my much if it is. But weâ€™ll see. Roots indoors is the 5-man boost for the non-raider who will barely benefit from the likes of Natureâ€™s Fury and Improved Faerie fire, but at least will have that, moonkin auras and thorns useful to the group.
i forgot to add, Nature's Fury will be very welcome by Mages, Hunters (arcane shot and stings), Shaman, Rogues of all, so it has a wider range than the Fire/Shadow 15% debuufs (shadow will 10% dmg, 5%crit) which only involves 4 classes. But saying that, those 4 classes have an enormous output in fire and shadow, whereas a hunter & Rogue's arcane/nature damage out put is quite small, so maybe it is a bit low. But it may also be low to compensate for the excellent imp moonkin aura. We shall see if hunters get more Elvenesque like arcane abilities and posions/stings play an enhanced role when their changes are released