Most of the changes for all three specs were PvP-oriented, with most of our CCs getting a reduction to 8 seconds in a PvP environment. Entangling Roots (and Nature's Grasp) and Hibernate have a PvP duration of 8 seconds, Skull Bash's lockout has been brought down to 4 seconds (from 5). The only Feral-specific change mentioned in this update is another PvP change, Infected Wounds now has a PvP duration of 8 seconds. Moonfire has also had its mana cost reduced to 9% (from 18%) and, in a nice change, Soothe is once again an instant cast (down from 1.5 seconds).
Our Troll and Worgen brethren will also finally get their new flight forms which will be implemented in the next patch! This includes Troll's new bat form.
There are quite a few additional Restoration changes, though, so let's take a look!
Updated Resto Changes
We've already seen a reduction in the mana cost for Rejuvenation (from 26% down to 16%) which is a very welcome change. Alongside this now is a big boost for our raid heals, Wild Growth healing has been increased by 30% and the cooldown has been reduced to 8 seconds (down from 10 seconds). Definitely a good change here, as our raid heals were really suffering (you can read the full rundown on some of the current healing imbalances in my last post here). I definitely can feel Blizz on wanting to avoid a return to the Rejuv/WG spam of Wrath, it's something I'd like to avoid as well. Whatever way you cut it, though, our HoTs are important and Rejuvs and WG are really crucial to raid healing. Hopefully this will put us back on the right track and get us back in line with Priests on raid heals (as opposed to behind, where we generally are now, even with equal gear/skill).
Lifebloom on multiple targets
The last set of patch notes informed us that Regrowth will join Nourish and Healing Touch in the talent Empowered Touch, they will all refresh Lifebloom stacks on a target. The new change with this update is that now it will no longer be possible to maintain Lifebloom on multiple targets outside of Tree of Life form. This was a decent little trick with the Empowered Touch talent - simply, if you used Nourish or HT to refresh the Lifebloom on a target, you could do so indefinitely on multiple targets outside of ToL. Clearly this wasn't an intended ability, though, and it will no longer be possible to due so with this patch.
Honestly, I'm not too bothered by this change. Although it could theoretically be useful, especially if focussing on two tanks, it was a tremendous pain to maintain in most fights. It would eat up a lot of GCDs, time, and attention, so I'm really not too disappointed to see the back of it!
Tree of Life
Some small nerfs to the Tree of Life cooldown, though nothing too huge.
For everyone, the duration has been reduced to 25 seconds (down from 30). The Natural Shapeshifter bonus has been reduced to a 3/6 second increase to ToL (down from 5/10). So with two points in Natural Shapeshifter we'll see a 31 second ToL. Not too bad, they likely just thought it was a bit too long of a healing cooldown. We saw a similar nerf from the original cooldown, which used to last 45 seconds.
Mastery (Symbiosis) Buff
This is a decent change, the Symbiosis benefit has been increased by approximately 16%.
All in all, we're continuing to see some decent buffs to Resto, so hopefully that trend will continue! Similarly, hopefully they won't overdo it and actually achieve a roughly equal balance among the healing classes rather than having some just completely overpowered than the others. Pallies and Priests have some small reductions incoming so far and Shamans are getting a bit of a boost, so hopefully things will begin to even out.
Mana Tide Totem has also been revamped so that it now 'no longer multiplies the Spirit of those affected by it. It instead gives a flat amount of Spirit equal to 400% of the casting shaman's Spirit, exclusive of short-term Spirit buffs affecting the shaman when dropped.' This is a good change overall, really, and most likely from PvE imbalances (rather than PvP, which a number of the upcoming changes are adjusting). MTT combined with Spirit /use trinkets and additional factors was becoming extremely overpowered in raid settings (and poor shamans were basically being used only as mana batteries for priests/pallies), so hopefully this will again contribute to more equalising of the healing classes and encourage mixed comps rather than the need to stack specific classes.
I would still like to see some additional tools for our tank healing, mainly at least in some sort of cooldown (likely a damage reduction one if not another healing boost one) or perhaps a damage reduction incorporated into a talent. Druids can definitely be viable as tank healers and do a good job, but if Blizz really wants us competitive with Pallies (and, indeed, priests with PainSupp/GS) we could really do with something to help us measure up.
I am very pleased with the boost to our raid heals, though, with the upcoming Wild Growth and Rejuvenation changes. We should be a lot stronger on raid heals with the changes and help bring back some of our previous strengths in raid healing. The changes should also help us a lot in benefiting from our Mastery (which is also getting buffed) - with more Wild Growths going out (from the reduced cooldown) and more Rejuvenations going out (from the reduced mana cost), there should be a lot more potential overlap of our HoTs and heals, which should then trigger our Mastery a lot more. Hopefully this is what we'll see! As ever, though, we'll see how it plays out in practice.
Positive signs ahead, though!
ETA: There was also a very interesting post by Ghostcrawler on the difficulty of heroic dungeons, which is definitely worth a read. Check it out here: Wow, Dungeons are Hard!