Balance Beta Blues

If you read the druid beta forums (well the US ones because the EU ones are just too far from the action) You may have noticed a growing frustration at the blue attention the ferals are getting. Well finally the chattiest of the Devs a certain crab called Ghostwalker replied to a Balance post. In the time honoured tradition I am of course about to pick it to pieces.

Orginal is called Ferals continued favoritism


I am focused on tanking an awful lot right now. It’s just a part of the game we think needs some help. It’s certainly not the only part that needs help, but it’s what I’m doing and I tend to post a lot so you see a lot of discussion about tanking.

I’d actually worked this out. With four classes being able to tank all of them have adopted the well known warrior habit of QQing like a bunch of babies. He’s been kept pretty busy trying to reassure them that it’ll be alright on the night. I try to remain sympathetic but my real feelings are ‘welcome to my world’. 4 healing specs. 6 ranged dps specs, 5 melee dps specs. Everyone else has to compete against others doing the same job with a different tool set why do tanks think they should have it any easier?

I actually appreciate the Balance community a lot because somehow you guys manage to stay fairly positive even though you have not gotten the attention you deserve (either from blue posts now or all throughout BC).

Thats nice we at least get an acknowledgment that we’re the red headed stepchild of WoW, joking it is a big step in the right direction to know we’re not being paranoid we really are being ignored.

I started to go through your tree in more detail today so I understand why you think there are too many mandatory talents, and I promise to get back to that soon.

Really that simple line means so much, someones not only started listening but sees the point.

What do we want balance to be able to do? What’s your role?
You’re a caster. Surprise, I know. But we think we didn’t always give you the tools to be a good caster before. You need:

Just a caster so being a dps/healer hybrid is dead? A shame it’s what I like about the spec that I can switch to healing if needed, though it’s clear that was dying in TBC. But I also know I was in a minority, for a class that is meant to be hybrid we have a lot of players who want to be good at just one aspect of the class. While its obviously too much to ask that we have one spec that allows us to perform all four roles I saw Resto as the single focus spec, feral as the melee dps/tank spec and balance as the caster/healer spec. A ‘perk’ if you like of being a primary healing class that neither us or shadow priests lost the abilty to step into the breech and heal if needed. That both of us could heal 5 mans and be the third (or 2.5) healer in a 10 man. Heroics & 25 mans being when you’d want a fully specced healer. You might want to rethink that given all these extra tanks roaming around Wotlk I’ll happily heal as a balance spec but I’m not respeccing for some pug 5 man.

— Competitive dps. Mages and warlocks just tend to get a lot of attention, maybe because there are more of them, or more races of them, or they are more archetypal classes (in the familiarity sense).

stick with because there are more of them. Just remember that druids are what make WoW different from those generic archetypes in MMORPG 2573. We don’t want to take over the world but we definately want to protect it.

— Good AE utility. Encounters and dungeons tend to get designed with the assumption that the ranged dps can do AE. Hurricane is phenomenal now. I healed a run today and did really competitive dps with Hurricane on the ranged pulls. And I wasn’t even Balance! I love Starfall. It’s a rare spell because it feels new — it isn’t single target and it isn’t classical Hurricane-style AE either.

Oh gawd you’re a resto. You realise I can’t respect you now, whatever you say. Sorry no its been ‘hate a resto month’ for at least a year now. I’m just not allowed to respect anyone who specs it ever (Hides her inner tree in amongst the treants)

Yeah Hurricane is sweet even in TBC. Removing the 1minute cooldown makes it a lot sweeter. Can’t comment of Starfall I don’t have it yet, but being dispellable in PVP is never a good thing. The 3 minute cooldown means it will suck in PvE. We’ve been through this with hurricane over the years. Please consider reducing the cooldown to 1 minute (removing it all together would also be good)

— CC. If a group has a choice between a druid and a mage and only the mage can CC, the decision gets a lot easier. With Entangling Roots used inside, problem solved.

Partially solved. You see you made it base line which means ferals can use it as a pulling mechanism that doesn’t help balance druids and its balance druids who compete with mages not feral druids. When the change was made I was okay with it as ferals don’t have spell hit so there’d be a strong chance of it resisting and balance druids would be preferred but now there’s just +hit and ferals will be wearing it as they don rogue gear. We need ours to be clearly better. I know we can talent so ours absorbs 20% more damage before it breaks, which is great for soloing but not so in 5/10/25 mans where you’re not meant to be damaging a cc’d target until you want it to break. Also that advantage is too subtle for most players to grasp. They haven’t managed to grasp the difference between chance to resist & breaks on own damage yet and that change was made back in 2005.

When looking at balance druids we need a cc that isn’t shared with our feral & resto kin if we’re to stand a chance of being taken for cc rather than any druid can do it. I don’t want to encourage more bloat in the balance tree but give us a way to extend cyclone on mobs or increase the types of mobs hibernate works on (and then put them in instances) Or buff brambles to allow roots to work indoors rather than going baseline with it.

— Group utility. I think deep balance provides that now. Even Insect Swarm and Faerie Fire have a better role now. Without the vicious cycle of Curse of Shadows buffing warlocks which lead to inviting more warlocks somewhat solved, I think it will be easier for Balance druids to get into raids regardless. We’ve just opened space for more classes now.

I like what you’ve done with insect swarm, though could we have improved insect swarm increasing the damage of nature spells by 3% and the crit of arcane spells by 3% rather than just wrath & starfire. That only really means roots & moonfire, and possibly typhoon when you’re done with whatever new direction it’s going in. I’m not planning on putting IS on every target I intend to AOE with hurricane or starfall. I also like the glyph that means 30% more damage that way if someone else in the raid has the debuff it allows me to continue using IS in my rotation. Just check that IS scales properly this time, thats what hurt it in TBC and why we used it less and less as we progressed.

Faerie Fire *sigh* it’s role isn’t better and its not unique and it still wastes 3 talent points in a bloated tree. Really bin it. Put the +hit chance on Moonfire, seeing as insect swarm already has a debuff (wrap it into the Wrath of Cenarius so its deep balance only). Make faerie fire baseline in all forms (so ferals don’t need to talent to use it) It’s really not strong enough for any spec to spend talents on.

— The ability to keep causing damage. I think the oomkin thing was largely addressed in BC, but it’s still something we need to keep an eye on, or at least try and banish the stigma that other players still think it has.

I’d have to agree though I didn’t really have an Oom issue in classic WoW but I ‘m wierd I like spirit. We’re going to be sharing gear with resto’s so even if I didn’t I can’t avoid it in Wotlk. Please look at making Spirit more meaningful for balance druids dps though, by increasing Crit.

Also while we’re here lets look at Lunar Guidance it got nerfed from 25% of our int converting to dmg/heal down to 12%. That hurts our damage the second patch 3.0.2 goes live. I did a quick run through the trees and I can just about make it back if I pick up furor & master shapeshifter, but thats 10 talent points to compensate for a change to a 3 pointer. Lunar Guidance needs to be merged into Dreamstate or given more oompf to compensate for its reduced usefulness. Some people are pointing at shadow priests twisted faith talent and asking why spirit can’t do the same for us. It’s okay I know the answer you can’t use shadow spells for healing (apart from the obvious exception) you can use nature spells and buffing just arcane would simply take us back to the one button mashing.

So that’s it for role. Beyond that, what I think Balance needed was a means not to go insane by mashing the same buttons all the time. My favorite talent for attempting to solve this is Eclipse. Eclipse almost by itself “saved” Balance for me. Several times I tried going Balance in Classic and BC and just couldn’t do it. But Eclipse is fun just because sometimes you want to Wrath and sometimes you want to Starfire. Improved Insect Swarm starts to get at this kind of mixed up of rotations too, and even the haste benefit from Moonkin a little as well.

The nature of WoW is to mash the same buttons all the time, if it gets too complicated people make macros to simplify it again :). The problem with Eclipse is it takes the decision out of the players hands. I switch between wrath & starfire now depending on the fight, high mobilty fights, ones with silences, even where I need to decurse and will end up cancelling starfires wrath gets more use. So its not going to make any difference to the number of buttons I mash. With an RNG talent it takes the decision out of my hands about which is the more appropriate spell to cast when . It either means I ignore the bonus or I try casting 3 sec starfires when I’ve flames heading towards me, to try and benefit from it.

I’m praying it doesn’t go off during the pull. “I over aggroed? sorry but see I really had to switch to machine gunning wrath then, eclipse procced and it’ll be 2 minutes before it procs again & the mob’ll be dead” Or whats more likely it procs & I ignore it because its the wrong time to switch . Meh I just talked myself out of even speccing into it.

Those are my thoughts. I don’t think Balance is done yet by any stretch, but I don’t hesitate to go Balance in a dungeon or raid now, which actually says quite a lot. I think the designers have done a good job with the tree so far.

Thats all well and good but really wouldn’t it be better to take feedback from those of us who have stuck with this spec through thick and thin? Or are you planning on going deep balance and staying there? Can you put your hand on your heart and say yes Balance is as well positioned as resto and feral to be considered for a raid spot. Or are we going to be left outside dancing until the raid hits a day when all the shadow priests warlocks hunters & ret palas are missing ? At the moment I think we’re good for 10 mans because of the range of buffs we potentially bring in one package but thats not going to be the case for 25 mans.

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