Feral Druid Changes in 7.3.0

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Game Designer
#1 - July 7, 2017, 6:25 p.m.
Blizzard Post
Hi Cats,

We have a number of changes to Feral Druids coming soon. The general goals of these changes are:
  • 1. Reduce (but not necessarily displace entirely) the dominance of the big three complexifying and powerful talents: Savage Roar, Jagged Wounds, and Bloodtalons. Each of those talents is (on live) winning by a large margin in terms of throughput against other talents on their rows.
  • 2. Balance out the power level of the last 3 talent rows, allowing more talents builds to be viable.
  • 3. Increase the skill floor and reduce how punishing it can be to error when playing the rotation.
  • 4. Compensate for power-level-reductions of talents with baseline damage increase to the spec so that at the highest level, performance isn’t really affected, but the bottom of the spec is brought up.

The most major changes:
  • All damage done increased by 33%.
  • Jagged Wounds reduced to 20%. (down from 33%)
  • Savage Roar duration increased by 50% at all combo points. Damage bonus reduced to 15%. (down from 25%)
  • Bloodtalons damage bonus reduced to 25%. (down from 50%)

Looking back at the development of Feral Druid in Legion: when Savage Roar was moved from a baseline ability to the talent tree, in order to bring the power level of the ability closer to most talents (+25% damage to everything for a long duration is far stronger than most talents are), rather than reducing its damage bonus, its duration was significantly shortened instead. This contributed greatly to the overconstrained and overly punishing Feral rotation that you see on live today. Additionally, Jagged Wounds was added as a new talent, reducing the amount of free combo points Ferals had available to finishers such as Ferocious Bite (which was basically pushed out of the rotation entirely). Both talents probably would have been fine on their own, but taken together (because they were the strongest) at the live tuning values led to a more pressured Feral rotation than we felt was right.

Additionally, a few talents are being rearranged in the talent tree:
  • Jagged Wounds moved to lvl 75 row. (from lvl 90 row)
  • Savage Roar moved to lvl 90 row. (from lvl 75 row)
  • Brutal Slash moved to lvl 90 row. (from lvl 100 row)
  • Elune’s Guidance moved to lvl 100 row. (from lvl 90 row)

The primary gain here is moving Brutal Slash to a sort of multitarget/AOE lvl 90 talent row along with Sabertooth (which can be well-utilized in a sustained low-target situation), giving the lvl 90 row a solid talent for dungeons. For now, we want to go with an arrangement that keeps Jagged Wounds, Savage Roar, and Bloodtalons on separate rows so the current most common live build is still possible.

Other less major changes include quality of life and tuning adjustments to some talents to balance out the rows:
  • Prowl cooldown reduced to 6 sec (down from 10 sec) for all Druid specs.
  • Rebirth is castable in all forms, and consequently, is no longer affected by or consumes Predatory Swiftness.
  • Sabertooth damage bonus to Ferocious Bite increased to 20%.
  • Incarnation: King of the Jungle energy cost reduction reduced to 50% (down from 60%) and only allows the use of Prowl once. This it to balance out that talent row with the new Jagged Wounds and to reduce the frequency of Rake stuns in PvP while still allowing Incarnation to function as an effective Vanish.
  • Moment of Clarity now causes Omen of Clarity to trigger twice as often and increases the damage of the affected abilities by 25%. This is to better space out what is essentially a large energy proc and reduce slightly the impact that a single talent has on the resource income and pacing of the rotation.
  • Elune’s Guidance cooldown reduced to 30 sec (down from 45 sec) and combo points granted reduced to 5 + 5 over 5 seconds (down from 5 + 8 over 8 seconds).

Overall, with these changes, balance for the last 3 talent rows and consequently overall should be better in general. We expect the current most common build/playstyle of Jagged Wounds + Savage Roar + Bloodtalons to still remain one of the strongest builds, but it should no longer win by a huge margin over other competing talent builds and also should be a little less strenuous to play.

These changes should be available in an upcoming PTR build. As usual, we may make further adjustments – especially tuning – as PTR progresses.
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Game Designer
#201 - July 18, 2017, 9:01 p.m.
Blizzard Post
Short update for some changes in the next PTR build:

Thrash will generate 1 combo point baseline - as an energy-spending non-finishing move attack, it feels like it should. The Tier 19 2pc bonus which previously had this effect has been changed to a 15% damage increase to Thrash. With these changes, Thrash is still intended to not be used in the baseline single-target rotation (not counting the effects of sets/legendaries).

Additionally, to help out Feral AOE a bit more, the energy costs of Thrash and Swipe are being reduced by 5. (to 45 Energy and 40 Energy, respectively).

Moment of Clarity will, as an additional feature of the talent, allow Omen of Clarity's clearcasting proc to stack up to 2 times (and is now tooltipped). This should be sufficient with how the clearcasting procs are better spaced out in 7.3.
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Game Designer
#300 - Aug. 3, 2017, 5:51 p.m.
Blizzard Post
Savage Roar will no longer be a "snapshot" mechanic damage buff, where it causes a damage over time ability to deal the bonus damage for its entire duration, like how Bloodtalons and Tiger's Fury work. This is a recent 7.3.0 change and is intended.

Snapshotting can be a contentious mechanic - some people like it, some people don't. However, snapshotting has been a mechanic on Feral for a long time, so we want to keep it in some form on the spec for now.

Savage Roar is not really an interesting place to have snapshotting, especially in 7.3.0 where its duration is being greatly increased and combo points won't be as scarce in a Jagged Wounds build. Keeping Savage Roar up 100% of the time will be much easier, and as a result, snapshotting there becomes a mechanic where you're only really given opportunities to fail with a larger than usual damage penalty. Contrast that with Bloodtalons and Tiger's Fury where - due to their limited nature - the player is instead given opportunities to maximize the benefit of those two buffs and gain more than usual benefit from a low-uptime snapshotting damage buff.