Sunday, August 29, 2010

Cataclysm Druid Armor Set Bonuses

I am a big fan of armor set bonuses.  They present Blizzard with the opportunity to gift new and interesting class mechanics upon dedicated raiders.  When we review the List of Druid Set Bonuses, we see that the developers have frequently taken advantage of the chance to flex their creative muscles.  The transformation of Enrage into a defensive cooldown in tier ten, the instant cast Starfires in tier eight, and critical Rejuvenation ticks in tier nine; each succeeded in changing the way a particular spec played.

The problem with tier bonuses, however, is that each new one must be bigger and better than the last.  An inferior set bonus can easily turn a new raid set into a total dud.  With Cataclysm on the horizon, Blizzard once again has the challenge of crafting a new set of mechanical goodies to accompany the expansion's first raid set.

Unfortunately, no word has yet been released on what Cataclysm's tier set bonuses will be.  Nevertheless, what's to stop us from coming up with our own tier bonus ideas.  Seeing as this is Druid Digest, I thought it might be fun to come up with some hypothetical Druid set bonuses for as of yet unreleased tier eleven.  Check out my ideas after the bump and feel free to leave yours in the comments.

The first tier bonus for most armor sets tends to be a slightly flat, percentage based boost to a class ability or mechanic.  As for the four piece bonuses, they have historically provided stronger, more varied boosts to the mechanics of core class abilities.  When designing my set bonuses, I tried to be as realistic as possible.  This meant keeping the bonuses reasonably limited as well as targeting abilities being emphasized in Cataclysm.

Cataclysm Balance Tier Bonuses

2/5 Balance Tier 11 Set Bonus: Your Moonfire deals an extra 10% damage.

4/5 Balance Tier 11 Set Bonus:  Whenever you generate Solar or Lunar Energy, you have a 15% chance to generate an additional 1 Solar Energy or 2 Lunar Energy.

I chose to give Moonfire some love for the two piece bonus because it is being reborn as a Moonkin's "run and gun" spell of choice come Cataclysm.  Since the spell will be getting more use, it makes sense for it to be slightly more powerful.  On the other hand, spamming the ability still remains somewhat situational, so this buff doesn't risk becoming too powerful.

For the four piece bonus, Blizzard has clearly put tons of work into the new Eclipse mechanic, so it only made sense that it would be a big target for a set bonus.  I designed the bonus the way I did because a number of Balance Druids have complained that Cataclysm's Eclipse system is still too mechanical and predictable.  Injecting some RNG into Solar and Lunar power generation would certainly help shake things up.

Cataclysm Feral Tier Bonuses

2/5 Feral Tier 11 Set Bonus: Your bleed effects also increase auto-attack damage you deal to the target by 15%.

4/5 Feral Tier 11 Set Bonus:  Your Berserk ability now also grants you a 30% increased chance to resist spells and a 15% auto-attack speed increase for its duration.

A number of Cataclysm changes, including Fury Swipes and the redesign for Savage Roar, have made auto-attacks a more significant portion of Feral damage.  My first tier 11 set bonus plays to that trend by allowing a Feral Druid's many bleed effects to also increase auto-attack damage.  Though this bonus might seem less of a benefit for bears, I am of the school of though that threat generation is 50% of a tank's job.

For the 4 piece bonus, I decided to bump up Berserk's utility.  Even today, I still get questions about whether or not Berserk is any good for bears (yes it is, in fact Glyph of Berserk isn't a terrible choice for bears).  This set bonus should put all questions to rest by not only making the ability a potent defensive cooldown, but also appreciably buffing attack speed for its duration.

Cataclysm Restoration Tier Bonuses

2/5 Restoration Tier 11 Set Bonus: Your Swiftmend spell now hardens the skin of your target, reducing all damage taken by that target by 10% for 5 seconds.

4/5 Restoration Tier 11 Set Bonus:  Increases the duration of Tree of Life by 15 seconds and reduces its cooldown by 1 minute.

Swiftmend is one of a Restoration Druid's few panic buttons, yet it is not particularly exciting or interesting to use.  I liken it to Holy Shock, except there is a penalty for using without the glyph.  Allowing the spell to not only provide burst healing, but also mitigate incoming damage for a short period of time would make things much more interesting.  Do you pop it needlessly on the tank to slightly reduce the burden on the other healers or do you save it for emergencies, now with an even greater chance of keeping your heal target alive?  In my opinion, those are more interesting choices than the current "I don't have any other way to save them" usage of the spell.

For the second tier 11 bonus, I knew I had to do something with Tree of Life.  The Tree of Life revamp is really the only major change coming to Restoration Druids in Cataclysm.  Rather than simply having Tree of Life be more powerful, I instead choose to have it be available more often.  I do not think a potential 25% up time would be troublesome as the 4 minute cooldown is still just long enough to make it situational.  Further, 45 seconds every 5 minutes just isn't enough for a core spec feature.  Come on, even Metamorphosis is on a 3 minute timer!

What tier bonuses would you like to see in Cataclysm?  Do you think my proposals are reasonable?  Let me know in the comments.  Also, if you happen to be a Blizzard employee, feel free to appropriate any or all of my set bonuses.  Just name an item after me if you don't mind :)


  1. I want Tree of Life to be a regular form again. That's the reason I started leveling a druid, because they're awesome healers especially w/ that form. Look at Moonkin form, that's still a full form.

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