Thursday, August 12, 2010

Feral Trees, Take 2

It's been a while since the initial release of the redesigned 31 point talent trees and quite a lot of work has gone into them. While they're still very likely to shift and change, I think it's worth taking another look at how they're coming together.

TL;DR version before we dive into the text wall. I'm actually pretty excited about where Cat builds are right now. I feel like I can pick up all the "essential" talents and still have a lot of room to play around based on the needs of my raid and my personal preferences. Bear, on the other hand, still needs a lot of work, I think.

Also, I'm not in the Beta (yet). I haven't been able to play around with any of this personally. Everything in this post is pure mental masturbation. You've been warned.

Alright, here we go. Cat build first.

Cat Build (Beta Build 12694)
Essentials - 25 points
These are the talents that I would say are pretty core. They're the ones that I don't intend to pass over for any reason. Most of them are direct contributions to our DPS, or indirect contributions in the forms of reduced energy usage and increased combo point gain.
Heart of the Wild - 3/3
Fury Swipes - 3/3
Primal Fury - 2/2
Feral Charge - 1/1
King of the Jungle - 3/3
Leader of the Pack - 1/1
Primal Madness - 2/2
Endless Carnage - 2/2
Rend and Tear - 3/3
Nom Nom Nom - 2/2
Berserk - 1/1
Blessing of the Grove (Resto) - 2/2
Optional Groups - 8 points
There's 8 points that you have to fit into the following optional groups. Most of the talents below are meant to provide raid utility, increase personal survivability, or just make the class a little more fun to play. The way I have the list of groups arranged is that each represents a point where you must put a certain amount of points in "optional" talents in order to progress down to the next tier of the tree. Those points can be spent in the group they're assigned to, or any group higher up the list than that one.

For instance, in group A you have 2 points to spend. Since there's no groups above that one, you have to spend those 2 points in some combination of PS and FS.

When you get down to group B you have an additional optional point you have to spend. It can be spent in IW, FA, IFC or either of the talents in Group A.

Group C's points can be spent anywhere in C, B, or A. And so on. Hopefully that makes sense.
Optional Group A - 2
  Predatory Strikes (2)
  Feral Swiftness (2)

Optional Group B - 1
  Infected Wounds (2)
  Feral Aggression (2)
  Improved Feral Charge (2)

Optional Group C - 4
  Brutal Impact (2)
  Nurturing Instinct (2)

Optional Group D - 1
  Survival Instincts (1)
Free points: 8
At this point, you have 8 total points left over to spend wherever you want. In these new trees, those 8 points can cover a lot of ground.

There's two more optional talents at this point, both in the Resto tree.
Optional Group R(esto)
  Furor (3)
  Master Shapeshifter (4, 1 + 3 from Natural Shapeshifter prereq)
Where your overall 16 optional points go is going to be completely up to your usual raid comp and your playstyle. For instance, a lot of classes bring the melee speed debuff that we provide with Infected Wounds. If someone else you regularly run with has that, you don't need it. Likewise, if your raid already has a lot of interrupts, lowering the cooldown of your Skull Bash via Brutal Impact may not be the best use of points.

The run speed increase from Feral Swiftness is very nice (and you really miss it when you're used to it and suddenly don't have it anymore), but I wouldn't call it crucial in any regards.

Survivability and healer mana conservation is shaping up to be a big deal in Cata raiding. While Nuturing Instinct isn't all that great now, it may be very nice to have in the expansion.

It's also worth noting that there's 3 talents that have extremely limited, if any, value to Cats. They're intended to be Bear-only talents. I would pass up these 3 completely:
Thick Hide
Natural Reaction
So from all this, I think Blizzard's goal of streamlining the trees and still managing to give us a lot of choice has been pretty much accomplished. Almost 40% of our talent points can be spent at our discretion. That makes me very happy.

Bear Build (Beta Build 12694)
I could run through and do the same kind of breakdown with a Bear Build as I did with Cat, but I'm not going to. It's not worth it yet. Here's why.

Predatory Strikes, Nuturing Instinct, and Nom Nom Nom do not provide any tangible benefit to raiding Bears. They are Cat talents. That's 6 points off the tree.

Then there's King of the Jungle and Primal Madness. They do provide benefit, but only when we use Enrage in combat. And as long as Enrage carries an armor reduction penalty with it (which it still does in current Beta builds) I don't plan on ever using it enough while in combat to make spending any talent points in these two abilities worth it. So that's another 5 points gone.

Now there's 33 points left in the Feral tree worth taking for Bears, and we have to spend a minimum of 31. In my theoretical build, I picked Improved Feral Charge as the one Feral talent to not get Bear points. There's some wiggle room and options there based on preference...but it's not worth going into great detail over.

And even after that, you still have 10 talent points left to spend. Let's see.

Perseverance over in the Resto tree would be nice. 3/3 there gives us 6% incoming spell damage reduction. But how to get there? Blessing of the Grove doesn't really do anything for Bears. Likewise, a raiding bear isn't going to be shifting enough to make Natural Shapeshifter worth it. Furor is okay, I guess. It has actual use, even if the benefit is marginal. Okay, so that's 3 points. Still need 2 more to get down to the next tier.

Natural Shapeshifter at least lets us get down to Master Shapeshifter, which has some benefit. Again, it's negligible, especially for the 4 total points it costs. But Blessing of the Grove literally does nothing for Bears, so it might be the best option. So 3 in NS, 3 in Pers, and 1 in MS. Done.

I don't feel I'm being given any real choices here. One total talent to shift around. It's not interesting and it's not fun. Still a lot of work needed.

Taking the armor reduction penalty out of Enrage would go a long way towards that goal. That would free up 5 more points in the Feral tree for serious consideration, opening things up a lot.

Adding some tangible benefit for Bears to Blessing of the Grove and dropping the cost of Natural Shapeshifter to 2 points might be enough to take care of the rest.

There's still a lot of Beta time left, and I'm sure Blizz is going to make plenty more changes to these trees at it progresses. The Beta level cap is still at 83 (I think), so none of the end-game style testing has even really started yet.

In another couple months, I'll revisit this again and see how things are shaping up. Hopefully by then I'm in the Beta as well and can give opinions based on more than sheer speculation. :-)


  1. It's so funny - about an hour before you posted this, or at least before it hit my feed reader, I was mucking about in the talent builder creating a cat spec thinking "oh, nice!" Not a clue how to do bear stuff yet since it's undiscovered country for me, but I'll take your word for it that it needs some more bells and whistles.

    I am hoping that Nom nom nom stays the name for that talent.

  2. Have you considered a bear/cat build? That's what I've been looking at recently with a lot of hope. By making a couple minor consolations, you can pick up most of the talents to do either job well (although, still not as good for cat as a dedicated build). With the ability to swap glyphs easier, I think there is some real promise here.

    Oh, and you may notice that Nom Nom Nom no longer has the [NNF] tag on it, so it looks like they're planning to keep the name.

  3. I don't typically look at hybrid builds, simply because I don't play them that often. I love both sides of being a Feral druid, and I love maximizing my potential in both of them. San will never ever be a healer or a caster. Both his specs will be forever used in getting the most out of each aspect of the Feral tree.

    That said, I did play around with potential hybrid builds. All in all, I feel like it's in a good place. You can easily pick up what I would consider to be the essentials for each role and still have a few points left over to spend as you wish. (I had 7)

    There's already been a new build with changes to the Druid trees since I made this post and they're somewhat compelling. Enrage now increases the damage you take by 10% for the duration instead of reducing your armor. 3/3 Furor is now all 100 Energy and 100% chance for 10 Rage. The bonuses for Master Shapeshifter have all been increased to 4% (from 2%). All these things make choices more interesting. A lot of what I said in this post (especially regarding Bears) is already obsolete.

    Viva la Beta, eh?