MMO-Champ is reporting that patch 4.0.3a is landing on live servers this week! We're only two weeks away from Cataclysm's launch (where did the time go??), and this patch will bring about all the landscape, zone and quest changes as well as new class/race combinations (though Worgen and Goblin characters are only available with Cataclysm). There will also no longer be portals in Dalaran or Shattrath, so I suggest resetting your hearthstones to places like Stormwind/Orgrimmar or else placing your toons at places with convenient transport to major cities (Valiance Keep and Warsong Hold in Borean Tundra are decent ideas, with transport direct to SW/Org).
For those in Stormwind, there will be a new auction house and bank in the Dwarven District (along with additional innkeepers), so you don't have to be stuck in the busy Trade District if you don't want to. I think there are similar changes in Orgrimmar, but I don't know the specific details.
There are a lot of Druid changes in this patch, which is basically just bringing us in line with Beta and ultimately Cataclysm.
- Bear Form now provides 10% bonus health, down from 20%.
- Nourish no longer consumes Omen of Clarity.
- Rejuvenation has had its mana cost increased by 30%.
- Soothe now has a 1.5-second cast time.
- Swipe (Cat Form) can now be used even if the druid does not have a primary target selected.
- Thorns: beginner tooltip revised to no longer imply the spell could be kept up at all times. In addition, Thorns damage has been reduced by 60%.
- Brutal Impact now increases the mana cost of spells on the victim by 5/10% for 10 seconds, down from 15/30%.
- Leader of the Pack now heals for 4%, down from 8%.
- Survival Instincts now provides 50% damage reduction, down from 60%, and its cooldown has been lowered from 5 minutes to 3 minutes.
- Swipe (Bear Form) damage has been reduced by 20%.
- Vengeance is no longer cleared on exiting Bear Form, and instead is cleared upon entering Cat Form.
- Empowered Touch now procs from Healing Touch as well as Nourish.
- Heart of the Wild: the Bear Form Stamina bonus from this talent is now 2/4/6%, down from 3/7/10%.
- Malfurion's Gift no longer has Fury of Stormrage as a prerequisite talent.
- Natural Shapeshifter now also increases Tree of Life duration by 5/10 seconds.
- Revitalize is now a 2-point talent, down from 3. It provides a 20% chance to return 1/2% of the druid's total mana on periodic heals from Lifebloom or Rejuvenation. This effect cannot occur more than once every 12 seconds.
- Swift Rejuvenation is now a 1-point talent, down from 2. The global cooldown reduction this talent provides to Rejuvenation remains 0.5 seconds.
- Symbiosis: heal-over-time spells (Rejuvenation, Regrowth, Lifebloom) can no longer benefit from this Mastery merely by refreshing themselves. A different heal-over-time spell must be present.
- Glyph of Healing Touch now reduces the cooldown on Nature's Swiftness by 10 seconds after using Healing Touch, up from 5 seconds.
- Glyph of the Treant (new) allows druids to keep the original treant Tree of Life look... if they must. Must they?
- Blood in the Water now refreshes Rip to the correct value.
- Flight Form now properly appears in the trainer window before Expert Riding is learned.
A lot of changes in there. Some nerfs in there, but overall it's nothing too massive. You'll likely feel a bit of a hit at level 80, but at 85 things balance back out again. Not mentioned in there is also the change to Efflorescence, where it now has a diminished effect when healing more than 6 players at once. There's been some debate over just how this is working now (if it's healing 6 for full and less for the additional people in, if it's healing only 6, if it's healing everyone stood in for less... etc) and, as far as I'm aware, no official confirmation/clarification yet on it (someone let me know please if you've seen something). I'd like to state, though, this is NOT restricted to Druids - ALL healing classes are having their AE spells reduced in exactly the same way. Shammy Healing Rain, Priest Holy Word: Sanctuary, and Holy Radiance all have the same changes. So don't panic!
There are some nice changes for the Resto talent tree with this patch which finally bring us in line with Beta. Empowered Touch now allows both Nourish and Healing Touch to refresh Lifebloom stacks, which is an excellent change. Revitalize is now a 2-point talent, which is nice as it frees up a talent point to put elsewhere and, in a similar vein, Swift Rejuvenation is now only a 1-point talent. Another very nice change is Malfurion's Gift no longer requires Fury of Stormrage, so if you either cannot afford the points or simply don't wish to spec it, you can still pick up Malfurion's Gift.
With those changes in mind, I suggest picking up the following spec at level 80, which should carry you nicely into levelling from 80-85 in Cata 2/0/34.
Malfurion's Gift, though if you don't feel you need the extra Omen of Clarity proc chance at 80, you can opt to put one or no points into this talent. I opted for Malfurion's Gift over Blessing of the Grove for both 80 and eventual 85 spec. OoC with Regrowths (especially when in ToL form using instant-regrowths and being able to cast Lifeblooms on multiple targets) will be extremely helpful for mana management both now and especially at 85. Though, you can move points into there if you like, especially at 80 where Rejuv-spamming is still doable with little mana consequence. If you're having mana problems or simply want a larger mana pool you can still move some points over into Furor as well.
ETA: I've updated my Resto guide to include the above 4.0.3a changes: Resto Guide.
The Feral tree is largely unchanged. For kitty I suggest sticking with the 0/33/3 spec, as this picks up the max DPS talents as well as some nice survivability talents.
Thick Hide will make you uncrittable. Brutal Impact is a very useful talent but will likely be less useful while levelling, and you can easily pop two points in there as you hit 81 and 82. The point in Survival Instincts could be moved around as well, I personally like it for emergencies, especially if I ended up pulling too many mobs.
It also looks like the new Tree of Life model will be coming with 4.0.3a (much to my dismay), but the Glyph of the Treant should be available if you want to keep your old Tree-form. I'll be hunting down an Inscriptionist to get that made! I'm hoping it's just trainable at the Inscriptionist trainers.
Otherwise, enjoy the last moments of the old world! Grab any last screenshots, head through any last ZG runs (no raptor for me!), take a stroll through the Park in Stormwind one last time, and so forth!