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Patch 4.1 – Released Today!

April 26, 2011

Honestly, after watching that video I almost want to join the Zandalari, not fight against them. I mean, really – the poor Trolls have it pretty rough and they were one of the first races in Azeroth.  I don’t blame them for wanting to assert themselves.

Anyway, Patch 4.1 is officially hitting servers today. All the realms are down and probably will be for a while. This seems like a great time to write about what the new patch will bring.  The first part of the post will discuss Druid changes in detail while the second part will mention changes that every raider should be aware of.  Any direct quotes from Blizzard are in blue.

If you like, you can go read the Official Patch Notes.  Otherwise, follow me after the cut.

Restoration Druid Changes

There aren’t many changes to Resto Druids, but some of them are important.  First of all, as I’ve mentioned before, Tranquility will have it’s cooldown reduced to 3 minutes.  There’s a bit of confusion in the Patch Notes as to how it’s being reduced…

  • Gift of Nature (passive) also reduces Tranquility’s cooldown by 2.5/5 minutes.
  • Malfurion’s Gift now reduces the cooldown of Tranquility by 2.5/5 minutes.

Well, which is it Blizz?  Is it Gift of Nature or Malfurion’s Gift?  Now, personally, I’m kinda holding out for both.  I mean, if Gift of Nature passively reduces the CD on Tranquility from 8 minutes to 3, and Malfurion’s Gift reduces the CD from 3 minutes to -2 minutes, I imagine that I’ll pretty much be in a constant state of casting Tranquility and my healing meter will go through the roof!

Yeah, I know… I won’t hold my breath.

Anyway, while going through the patch notes I noticed something interesting.  It looks like Blizz is homogenizing the CDs on numerous big raid healing/damage mitigating cooldowns.  Tranquility is on a 3 minute CD.  The Prot Pally’s Divine Guardian is now on a 3 minute CD (up from 2 minutes).  A Disc Priest’s Power Word: Barrier is now on a 3 minute CD (again, up from 2 minutes).  The new Resto Shaman Spirit Link Totem is on a 3 minute CD.  Coincidence?  I think not.  This is something to keep in mind when coordinating cooldowns during raid.

Also remember to change your Barkskin/Tranquility macros.  (You were using a Barkskin/Tranquility macro, right?)  All Druids now have 100% innate pushback protection while channeling Tranquility.  You will not lose healing ticks by taking damage while channeling Tranq, so using Barkskin at the same time now is just a waste.

Efflorescence is being completely redesigned:

It creates a healing zone at the feet of a Swiftmend target, but this healing zone now restores health equal to 4/8/12% of the amount healed by Swiftmend to the three most injured targets within 8 yards, every 1 second for 7 seconds. This periodic effect now also benefits from spell haste, but the individual ticks cannot be critical effects.

I know, it now hits only 3 targets instead of unlimited targets, but this is not a nerf.  This should improve Efflorescence so it finally hits harder than a wet noodle.  Will it also recalculate who the most injured player is from tick to tick and adjust accordingly?  I haven’t heard, so I guess we’ll find out.  Regardless, Efflorescence should be much more appealing now, and if you left it out of your build before you might want to pick it up.

Efflorescence also has a new spell effect, so I won’t be able to tell people to go stand in the healing slime anymore.  The Holy Priest ability Holy Word: Sanctuary is likewise getting a facelift.  This should make it a lot easier to tell good-stuff-on-the-floor-that-I-must-stand-in from bad-stuff-on-the-floor-that-I-must-never-stand-in.  The Efflorescence talent has also been decoupled from Living Seed, so all Resto Druids will probably want to reexamine their specs.

Nature’s Swiftness has been improved.  It will now increase the healing of your next nature spell by 50%, in addition to making that spell instant cast.  This will make Nature’s Swiftness a more appealing talent choice.  Personally, I use NS a lot and it has saved tank lives (or my own life) on many occasions.  Generally NS is best combined with Healing Touch for a quick burst of healing, but I’ve also heard of people using it to make Rebirth instant cast.  Sadly, if you are using the Glyph of Rebirth, the extra healing from NS will be wasted.

So far, all the Resto changes have been buffs, but sadly we don’t get off entirely nerf-free this patch.  Unfortunately Lifebloom‘s bloom heal has been reduced by 20%.  Now, this shouldn’t have a huge effect in PvE, since we normally roll Lifebloom anyway.  It will reduce our healing from strategically using the bloom, but that shouldn’t be a big deal.  Where we will feel the hurt is in PvP.  I know I roll Lifebloom on myself constantly in PvP, so that if I’m stun-locked I will get the nice, big, lifesaving heal and prevent my own death.  Alas!  We shall be easier to kill now.

Another nerf that will affect me personally, and might affect other people, is the nerf to the Warlock ability Dark Intent.  You might remember that I wrote a post explaining Druid Haste break points, and mentioned that the break points are different if you are getting Dark Intent from a Warlock. Well, the DI Haste buff used to be 3% (stacking to 9%), but it is now 1% (stacking to 3%).  That will drastically change our Haste break points, and I will now be reforging some of my extra Haste to Mastery. Correction! It’s the stacking periodic damage/healing component of Dark Intent that is being nerfed. The flat 3% Haste buff remains as it was before. Hooray! That will still nerf my healing a little bit, but not so drastically.

Other Druid Patch Changes

Druid Bug Fixes

  • Druids should no longer have UI issues after leaving a vehicle.  So that’s what was wrong with my UI!  It was driving me crazy.
  • The troll druid models for Flight Form and Swift Flight Form has slimmed down to be more in scale with other druid flight forms.  This doesn’t affect me at all, but I suppose it’s nice for all you traitors who race changed to Troll.  I’m sorry, but Berserking does not make up for being an ugly bat.  (Also, I really, really want to fix the grammar in that Blue quote…)

Balance

  • Starsurge damage has been reduced by 20%.  This nerf was brought to us by the letters P, V and P.  I guess our burst damage was too high and this change is trying to address it.  I’m not happy about it because a) Starsurge is amazing, b) Balance Druids are not exactly owning PvP, and c) Balance single target damage isn’t exactly overpowered in PvE either.  Oh well, at least we still have some of the best AoE in the game.
  • Solar Beam is now more responsive when enemies move into or out of it.  I guess this is a nice change.  I hadn’t particularly noticed any issues with Solar Beam.  Maybe it would be more noticeable if I PvPed as Boomy.

Feral

Honestly, I haven’t played Feral in Cataclysm, so most of the Patch changes mean nothing to me.  I’m not sure why all the Bear abilities are having the threat component replaced with additional damage done, and I have no idea what that will do to Bear threat generation.  The Bear Mastery has also been redesigned, Berserk is no longer on the GCD, Dash and Stampeding Roar now have a chance to reduce movement impairing effects, Enrage no longer increases damage taken, and Prowl has a new icon.

The only change that will personally affect me is the increased duration of Stampeding Roar, though I only really use that when running back from a wipe…

Oh!  And Swipe is now on a 3 second CD, (down from 6 seconds), and is trainable at level 18 (down from level 36).  This should make Druid tanking much more bearable.  I hope we start to see more Druid tanks again.

Other Patch Changes that will Impact Raiding

The full patch notes are way too long and detailed for me to discuss fully.  The following are some patch highlights that seemed important for every raider to be aware of.

General:

  • A dead player can now be resurrected by targeting them using the Party or Raid Frame even if they have released. No more hunting for corpses.  Thank God!  It’s about time this change was implemented.
  • All non-damaging interrupts off the global cooldown will now always hit the target. This includes Pummel, Kick, Mind Freeze, Rebuke, Skull Bash, Counterspell, Wind Shear, Solar Beam, Silencing Shot, and related player pet abilities.  Hooray!  Tanks and healers will be able to reliably interrupt!  This will be a huge boon to raid groups like my own which usually have a tank assigned to an important interrupt.  No more random wipes to Maloriak’s Arcane Storm!

Death Knight:

  • Raise Ally has been redesigned to be a battle resurrection, analogous to Rebirth. It is instant cast, but costs 50 Runic Power to use, and has a 10-minute cooldown. It shares the same global battle resurrection cap with Rebirth and Soulstone.  Warlocks are getting a brez too (see below).  While I’m sad that a unique Druid ability is being given out like candy, this is a good change.  It sucks when the Druid is the one who dies and suddenly no one can brez at all.  Also, the Druid brez will still be better because we can use the Glyph of Rebirth and bring people back at full health.  Because of this, it will still be better to use a Druid brez if possible.

Hunter:

  • Hunters will no longer automatically acquire a new target if the current target dies in the middle of a cast.  Hooray!  Hunters will no longer accidentally pull adds!

Paladin:

  • Righteous Fury now persists through death.  No more aggro issues when a Pally forgets to turn RF on after a wipe.
  • Word of Glory now has a 20-second cooldown.  Some tanks were using WoG as a centerpiece of their tanking rotation and they will have to change their strategy.  This might lower Pally survivability a bit.
  • Divine Guardian cooldown is now 3 minutes, up from 2.  As I mentioned above, Blizz seems to be homogenizing the CDs of the big healing/mitigation cooldowns.
  • Avenger’s Shield can no longer be blocked.  I imagine this will help Pallies when positioning a pull.

Priests:

  • Priests now innately have 100% pushback protection from damage while channeling Divine Hymn and Hymn of Hope.  This is the Priest corollary to the Druid Tranquility pushback protection I discussed earlier.
  • Power Word: Shield duration has been reduced to 15 seconds, down from 30.  This sucks for Priests who pre-shield, especially considering the high mana cost of PW: Shield.  :(
  • Power Word: Barrier’s cooldown has been increased to 3 minutes, up from 2, and its effect has been reduced to 25%, down from 30%.
  • Chakra now lasts until canceled, up from 1 minute.  And the Holy Priests cried, “Amen!”
  • Holy Word: Sanctuary healing done has been increased by 35%. In addition, it has a new spell effect.  HW: Sanctuary will have a new spell effect, just as Efflorescence will.  Again, making it easier to tell the good spells from the bad.

Rogue:

  • Tricks of the Trade now has a 100-yard range, up from 20.  This will make life a lot easier for our rogue friends.

Shaman:

  • Nature’s Blessing has been improved to 6/12/18% bonus direct healing on Earth Shielded targets, up from 5/10/15%.  Since Earth Shield is usually placed on a tank, is this supposed to make Shaman better tank healers?  If so, I don’t think this will be enough of a boost…
  • Spirit Link Totem (new talent) reduces damage taken by all party and raid members within 10 yards by 10%. This lasts 6 seconds, and every second it is active the health of all affected players is redistributed among them, such that each player ends up with the same percentage of their maximum health. This counts as an Air totem and has a 3-minute cooldown.  The very exciting new Shaman cooldown!  Just be careful about its use – I hear that placing one too close to the double-strike tank on Chimaeron can easily kill the tank.

Warlock:

  • Soulstone can now be used in combat to resurrect a targeted dead player.  I assume this means Warlocks will no longer soulstone people before an encounter, but will rather save it until someone dies.  See my note on the new DK brez ability – it will be better to use a glyphed Druid brez than a Warlock soulstone, if possible.
  • Dark Intent: The friendly target of this ability now receives 1% (stacking 3 times to 3%) periodic spell damage and healing bonus instead of 3% (stacking 3 times to 9%). The casting Warlock still receives 3% (stacking 3 times to 9%).  I am not happy about this, and I really don’t know why Blizz is nerfing this ability.  Was it really so game breaking?  Those of us relying on DI to reach Haste breakpoints will be going back to the reforger. Edit: As mentioned above, the base 3% Haste buff is staying the same.  It is only the periodic damage/healing portion that is being nerfed.  I’m still not sure why Blizz is nerfing DI, but it’s not as bad as I first thought.

Warrior:

  • Charge and Intercept no longer have diminishing returns on their stun effects.
  • Shield Bash has been removed from the game.  But see the next point…
  • Pummel is now usable in all stances.  Oh good!  Warriors still have an interrupt.  Prot Warriors will need to change their bars/keybinds.
  • Rallying Cry (new ability) is available from trainers at level 83. It temporarily grants the warrior and all party or raid members within 30 yards 20% of maximum health for 10 seconds. After the effect expires, the health is lost. It has no cost, no stance requirements, and is not on the global cooldown. It has a 3-minute cooldown, but also shares a cooldown with Last Stand.  I am so excited about this!  I can think of several really great places to use this ability, like any of the burn phases with increasing AoE raid damage (think Ascendant Council or Cho’gall).  The 30 yard range means it will primarily affect people in melee, but Cataclysm is terribly brutal in terms of damage taken by melee classes, and this ability should help them with survivability.
  • Gag Order now applies to Pummel and Heroic Throw, giving these abilities a 100% chance to silence the target for 3 seconds. In addition, Gag Order lowers the cooldown of Heroic Throw by 30 seconds.  This is probably because of the removal of Shield Bash.  Warriors trying to position spellcasting mobs will be grateful.

Professions – Alchemy:

  • Flask of Steelskin now grants 450 Stamina, up from 300. The Mixology bonus for alchemists remains at 120 Stamina.  This flask is a bit weak, since it is the only real tanking flask, and Stamina is no longer the king of tanking stats.  Increasing the amount of Stamina the flask provides is a start, but introducing a Mastery flask would probably be more beneficial.

Raid Encounter Changes:

I suppose most of these changes are nerfs, which I’m sure will make the hard core people QQ.  But honestly, I think the changes were necessary.  Atramedes in particular seemed plagued by RNG issues.  Many of the changes below apply only to heroic modes or 10-man normal modes.

Blackwing Descent

  • Atramedes
    • Searing Flames now causes a 6-second cooldown on Modulation.
    • Searing Flames no longer increases Sound on players.
    • Players should no longer be able to avoid the first period damage tick of Searing Flame, and Searing Flame now ticks every 2 seconds. The damage of Searing Flame has been increased to compensate for it ticking less frequently.
  • The Bile-O-Tron 800 in the Chimaeron encounter is now more resistant to being knocked offline many times in rapid succession.
  • Flash Bomb (Golem Sentry ability) now has a more clear warning visual.
  • Magmaw now triggers a raid emote when summoning Lava Parasites.
  • Maloriak
    • Maloriak now has a brief windup before beginning to channel Arcane Storm, slightly increasing the amount of time players have before the spell begins to deal damage.
    • Further improvements have been made in the Maloriak encounter to avoid Flash Freeze targeting the tanks.
  • Nefarian’s End
    • The damage of Shadowflame Barrage has been reduced by 15% (10-player normal and Heroic difficulty only).
    • The damage of Tail Lash has been reduced by 20% (10-player normal and Heroic difficulty only).

The Bastion of Twilight

  • Dragon Siblings
    • Blackout can now be dispelled on Heroic difficulty.
  • Cho’gall
    • The health of Blood of the Old God on 10-player Heroic difficulty has been lowered by roughly 20%.
    • The health of Darkened Creations on 10-player Heroic difficulty has been lowered by roughly 20%.
    • The corruption gained from Corruption: Accelerated on 10-player Heroic difficulty has been lowered slightly.
    • Knockbacks and Deathgrip can now be used to interrupt players that are converted by Cho’gall.
  • Sinestra
    • Twilight Slicer is now less likely to target two healers at once.
    • Wrack will avoid jumping to tanks.

Oh look, the realms are back up.  Just in time for me to eat dinner and run to choir rehearsal.  :(  Oh well.

…What are you still doing here reading?  Go play!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Glaornla permalink
    April 26, 2011 7:55 pm

    I haven’t yet red the full article, but the Dark Intent section needs modification:

    DI will continue to be a 3% haste buff, however the Increase to periodic damage/healing has been nerfed – it will stack 3 times for 1% periodic healing to a maximum of 3% periodic healing.

    So haste thresholds aren’t changed, if we had been getting a multiplicative 9% haste that would have been Ammmmazzzing!

    • April 26, 2011 9:28 pm

      Oh, thank god! And thank you for letting me know before I reforged everything. :)

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