News from the Beta!
I'm really excited that I got the invite and have been bouncing around on the beta since! After an initial worrisome period (I think I basically just cannot run the game while it is still downloading, or at least not on beta, as I was having tons of graphics/fps issues), the game is now running smoothly and I've been going around exploring and trying things out.
I'd like to check out the starting zones some but that may have to wait as A) the Worgen starting zone keeps crashing (and seems to be happening to other players too), and B) there may be a new bug? as last I checked it wasn't letting me create new characters, though I should check that again.
I did transfer my druid over though as well as get a premade 85 druid too. It's been pretty fun so far. I've done the starting quests in Vash'jir and, upon realising I needed to discover the Throne of the Tides entrance in order to queue for it, did some exploring around the area. Vashj'ir is a really cool zone - a lot of odd and fun stuff around, some interesting quests so far, and some beautiful areas (the ruins beneath the water are really cool). The Abyssal Depths (which I warily went down to and was immensely relieved to find myself down by an instance entrance after getting sucked down) is quite creepy and beautiful all at the same time. There's a lot more still to explore; I'm undecided just how much questing I'll do in beta, as I really enjoy questing to level so I'd like to leave some surprises for when Cata comes out, though I'll be balancing that with leveling fairly quickly to get to 85. I suppose on one hand being somewhat familiar with the quests will let me get going more quickly so I don't wander around too aimlessly. I think I'm going to hop over to Hyjal next to check out some of the opening quests there. Also, seahorse mounts are amazing (and you get one for free in one of the opening quest chains in Vashj'ir). Only real issue I've found in Vashj'ir so far is how to get back - I hearthed out to Northrend, then had to fly back from Stormwind and didn't quite beat the fatigue timer (fortunately my corpse wasn't far off). Not sure if I just missed a key point or didn't do enough quests to get the flypoint initially, or if there's just something missing.
The ruins in Vashj'ir are really beautiful. I need to double-check the name of this one. Really fun to explore, and not too difficult I found actually... the sea horse gives you 450% swim speed - not certain if that will change or not. There were a few big elites around, though some were neutral, but I wasn't too concerned swimming around.
I've been questing as feral, which has been fine. My feral set is a mix of 264 and 277 gear (to give you an idea of what I'm entering in). I've been using the following spec (at level 80):
At 85 I'll be putting points into Natural and Master Shapeshifter, as well as possibly two points into Brutal Impact (for more frequent stuns to increase utility). As you can see I've picked up Thick Hide (as there are enough points to do a pure cat DPS spec and still pick up that and Survival Instincts) which makes me uncrittable. This spec does not have all the tanking points (Natural Reaction and Pulverize and, possibly, Infected Wounds) so is usable as an emergency tanking set but not a proper tank. I hope it stays in this area, as I really like being able to pick up Surv Inst and Thick Hide for utility.
My impressions questing so far, at least for these early zones; I'm not having any big trouble handling mobs of pretty decent size (I've dealt with 3-5 level 80 mobs with no problem in cat form). I'm not certain if this is just undertuning, or just entry-level mobs, but either way it's been fine. My damage has dropped a lot so cat dps is still an issue, and I also haven't been able to replace my crit gems with agility ones as my jewelcrafting is broken (all of my armour pen went to crit). I lost around 4k attack power from live as well. Hopefully cat dps will be tuned up. That being said, I haven't had any issues killing mobs though.
I've also been playing around with the Resto tree and have been able to heal a couple of dungeons.
First, the specs I've been using:
On my main copied over, level 80:
After a brief chat with a druid I decided to take out the two points in Swift Rejuvenation and put them into Heart of the Wild for the intellect increase. With appropriate levels of haste getting our spells to the 1sec GCD, it may not be necessary to take the two points in Swift Rejuv (I'd like to see some proper theorycrafting on all this before I say anything definite though), so the Int gain (and resulting mana and spellpower gain) is likely worth it. I can't see sparing more than 2 points for it though as I still need points to make it to tier2 in Balance and I like providing Replenishment (for both myself and the group) with Revitalize.
This is the full spec I've put on for my 85 premade:
I'd still like to see Genesis swapped with Nature's Grace to get it into tier 1. With this change you could use this spec and pick up Moonglow, or forego Moonglow and max out Heart of the Wild and possibly Swift Rejuv. That being said, though, Nature's Grace seems like it might not be as much of a waste of points as I had originally though. I'm really just undecided at this point on it, and really need a lot more experience trying it out in both easier and harder dungeons. The haste boost is really nice, but I'm torn mostly about the cooldown on the proc (especially as Resto druids can't reset it as we don't have Eclipse). I have been able to use it by tossing out a Moonfire and using the haste on my Nourishes and Healing Touches, which has been nice. I'm still wary of how much it will actually be able to be used in an end-game environment, mainly whether the GCD and mana will be able to be spared. We shall see!
I will say this: I absolutely LOVE the new Efflorescence mechanic where it procs off of Swiftmend! It's been great both in terms of fun and of utility. Whether I want to target it to a specific group, in which case I might Swiftmend say the tank or a melee, providing the Effl. HoT for that group, or if I need to pop it on the fly, the additional HoT will tick on the target while I heal other people. The increased range (8 yards, up from 6) is also great, it gives a lot more room to move into it and remain in it. I am really pleased with it!
Also, glyphs! I've been using the following glyphs on both toons:
Lifebloom (increases crit chance)
Rejuvenation (Increases the healing of your Rejuvenation by 10%)
Wild Growth (unchanged)
Healing Touch (when you use HT, the cooldown of Nature's Swiftness is reduced by 5 sec (want to check if this stacks or not))
Mark of the Wild (unchanged)
Unburdened Rebirth (unchanged)
I actually really like the selection for resto (the feral selection is a little limited feels like, but a discussion for another day). I like the choices I have both for Prime and Major, I feel like I was able to pick up both crucial straightforward ones (like Swiftmend, WG and Rejuv) and more utility ones. I like that I was able to pick up the Rebirth glyph - I'm not fond of this glyph on live mainly because it steals a glyph spot from more useful ones, but I do like the effect - it can be really helpful for a person to be battle rezzed with full health, particularly in the new environment where mana and healing is so different from Wrath. So I'm really happy I'm able to pick that up without sacrificing any other glyphs. My Minor glyph choices are mostly for convenience, apart from Unburdened Rebirth still being crucial there's still flexibility there.
I was able to try out two dungeons so far, one on my premade and one on my main who I transferred. I did Throne of the Tides on my main and Stonecore on my premade.
An interesting thing of note - I guess because my main's gear is good enough (almost all 277 gear), I had ZERO (and I do mean ZERO) mana problems while healing Throne of the Tides. I was throwing my innervate out to the shadowpriest every time I could because he was going OoM a ton. I'll be interested to see how far my raid gear goes both in Beta and on Live when Cata is released. Solace of the Defeated is still amazing, along with all of the spirit on my current gear really helps. I found this really surprising just because I healed Stonecore on the premade before TotT and had some mana issues ; went OoM at least once and was definitely running down to at least half mana or less pretty consistently, whereas on my main my mana bar barely moved. While Stonecore is a higher level dungeon than TotT, it was still on regular (NOT heroic) and I was 85.
I'll try to get some proper posts in on the instances themselves (I think this is already getting dangerously long without even going into the boss fights). They were pretty interesting though and I enjoyed going through them. Damage is interesting... there were points where there were some massive hits on the tank, but fortunately the next shot wouldn't kill them, so you had more than a single GCD to recover (which you don't really get in Wrath at the moment). After healing Stonecore on the premade and having mana issues, I was being fairly conservative with my heals at first on my main; I think I'll have to try both again a number of times more and see how that balances out. We didn't use a huge amount of CC though we did use a bit. Spatial awareness is definitely important - a feral druid in the Tides group got himself killed twice on the same boss due to a 'shadow fissure' I believe it was called, he must have been stood in a voidzone. It was essentially a one-shot (or very close to it). I think the tank may have stood in it once as he took quite a substantial hit in the beginning of the fight (it was against the faceless one in Tides - will double check names for proper write-ups) but didn't take another as big as that for the rest of the fight. The fight against the drake in Stonecore involves falling rocks and lava spots, so you definitely need to watch where you're standing! The rocks will also Line of Sight you, so I had to keep maneuovering around to ensure I didn't lose sight of the group.
Also, if you can spot in that screenshot, you can see my druid's name was taken! So I've gone with Derwentt for my premade and Derwentree for my main. Close at least! Sort of.
Overall, though, I'm feeling pretty positive about healing so far. I had fun while healing and going through the new dungeons. I was definitely using all of my different spells. It will take some adapting to find out the best strategies for different fights and, of course, learning the fights themselves, but good signs on the horizons. I feel like our actual heals were reduced a bit - I feel like I'm healing for less than I do on live at times in terms for actual number output of single spells. That may be numbers tuning, I'm not certain. The heals themselves felt good though and seemed to all work well with each other. I'd still like a lower cast time on Nourish but it wasn't awful. I found myself even using Healing Touch when I needed to. I feel like the longer Nourish cast time almost helps HT seem more valid as a spell because they're the same cast time - they each have their different uses both for size of heal and size of the mana cost. Lifebloom is nice on the tank, though I'm still adapting to how often I both need or want to keep it up for - it's a good strong heal to keep on the tank, but I found myself tossing out the occasional unnecessary LBs or Nourishes to keep the stack up. I think one of my favourite things for shifting to tree (and it is on a 3 minute cooldown now, down from 5) is being able to toss out the instant Regrowths for the larger instant heals. The longer cooldown on Wild Growth feels just fine - my innate sense of it is slightly off so I found myself trying to use it sometimes a little bit early, but the longer cooldown definitely isn't limiting. As I mentioned earlier too, I absolutely love Efflorescence proccing off of Swiftmend - I think that's a brilliant change.
The biggest change does seem to be that people (and your tanks), at least so far, do not seem to be dying in just two hits or one GCD, so the longer cast times on big heals like Nourish and HT haven't felt deadly. I still have a lot of testing to go, and I'll be really interested to try all these out when 4.0 hits the live servers so I can try them in fights I know really well in ICC to see how things will adapt and shift. That will be particularly useful as well as I'll be able to compare it to what I do currently so I can really see the changes. I could try doing some Wrath heroics on Beta, but that seems a bit pointless since I overgear the instances so much, I won't have to actually make decisions about which heals to use.
Anyhow, I imagine that's enough for one post! Perhaps even enough for two. I'll try to get more testing in and look more at the heals used and things. I'll also be interested in seeing both for this build and for future ones how slightly different specs work. I hadn't been that keen on Heart of the Wild for Resto, but it does add a decent amount of spellpower it seems like. It's hard deciding which points to drop for that. I had someone suggest dropping Blessing of the Grove, but the decrease in Rejuv power from doing that is substantial (and that is NOT made up for with the spellpower increase from HotW). I think with enough haste, Swift Rejuv will be the one we can drop points from (as we may not need the increased Rejuv cooldown). That still only frees up 2 points. If Genesis is moved to tier1, we'll have some more points freed up to place into HotW I think. Theorycrafting will be interesting on all of that.
Also, Archaeology seems really fun! I think it might be a bit bugged at the moment (I seem to be able to dig at one site, then not be able to dig anywhere else, at least on that continent... need to look into that), but I also haven't had too much time to investigate that. I really like the concept and am looking forward to leveling it, though I imagine it may have to wait until I hit level cap to really get into it.
Alright, stopping before I ramble on too much! I'll leave you with a screenshot of me in my Mim head over Stormwind.