A few weeks ago, probably a couple months now actually, I dropped my hybrid feral/resto specs in favor of a "guardian" (tank) spec and a feral (DPS) spec. Just to see how the hybrid spec I was using compared to a dedicated tank/DPS spec and to get used to the idea of some of the changes coming down the pipe. What I also got was some insight into what some of the changes in the new talent calculator will mean and just how lame the talent choices are for ferals.
My first observation is that when just DPSing in a tank spec, happens a lot when there are two tanks and one of them isn't actively tanking, it just doesn't pay to flip to cat form. That is with all the cat abilities they are taking away from tanks in the next expansion: shred, rip, savage roar and tiger's fury to name the biggies.
On the other side of the coin, pulling a hero bear (flipping from cat to bear to tank in an emergency) is also a thing of the past. With my hybrid spec it saved the day countless times and contributed to many first boss kills. But without crit immunity, and many of the other tanking talents to reduce magic damage and such, it just isn't that effective. If a real tank goes down a poor excuse for a tank isn't going to fair much better; not for long anyway.
That was pretty much the point of splitting feral into two specs though. I guess it works. The problem is that is totally shatters any feelings that druids are a hybrid class. There are a point way back when where balance spells were a widely accepted means of grabbing aggro at the start of a pull. Not sure I really miss that particular detail, but I will be a little sad when I look at my cat or bear bars in my opposite spec and find that they are half empty. What is the point of switching forms when my other form doesn't do anything fun? It just becomes a chore; I have to hit this one button so I can use this one ability and then I have to hit this button to go back.
So here we have the hybrid features of the feral class pretty much entirely gutted, to the point where I don't feel there is any benefit from switching forms anymore, and then we have new talents to pretend we are still a hybrid class. X talent forces you into cat form, or Y talent forces you into bear form. Flipping forms going from a fun utility mechanic to an annoyance that you have to press another button to return to your spec's actual form.
Or that talent that increases the damage of your spell/melee attacks when you do the other. It's only purpose would be for feral DPS to toss heals and regain some of the DPS time lost. I guess that isn't terrible, but only one spec out of four has any business taking it. Just give it to feral DPS and come up with a new talent more than one spec might be interested in.
I think the most insulting one has to be the heart of the wild which is designed to allow a druid to temporarily fill a different role. I wonder just how useful a non crit immune bear with limited mitigation cooldowns is going to be to any encounter. The talent is almost better used to help heal before a tank goes down.
I keep waiting for that something special to show up and fill the void left by the not having reason to flip forms. Feral druids don't have any flashy abilities like other classes, their flash ability was always shifting forms. With shifting out of the picture there needs to be some pizazz in the feral druid specs to make them more than poor imitations of rogues and warriors (ability wise, not performance wise).
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