This is a mirror of the post I made on the Beta Class Forums. I’ve saved a record of it here in its entirety for posterity when the forums are closed. Feel free to follow along while the thread is open here.
Hi everyone, I want to talk about talents today. For the most part, Guardian talents are in a pretty good spot. But there are some problematic rows that didn’t play out well in Legion and I’d like to address those here, as well as offer some potential solutions to fix them.
Blood Frenzy feels out of place now - it fills a role (AoE rage generation) that is already filled quite capably by our new baseline rage from damage taken, and doesn’t appear strong enough to compete on single target with Bristling Fur. Hasted bleeds might improve this situation since Blood Frenzy will now scale with Haste, so we’ll have to see how this plays out.
Brambles feels odd on this row. Being an almost entirely offensive talent its benefit is largely orthogonal to the other two, and while you can convert rage into DPS via maul I would consider this primarily a defensive row. This is not necessarily a problem (having choices between offensive and defensive choices is potentially interesting) and I don’t know what Blizzard’s stance on these types of talents competing is, but I would be interested in seeing the absorb component of Brambles buffed to give this talent more defensive benefit regardless.
I think pretty much all druid specs suffer from the same issue with this row - two mobility options and a third non-mobility option (Intim Roar for Guardian, Renewal for everyone else). This is a bizarre choice, amplified by the fact that Intimidating Roar just makes no sense as a talent. Incap roar can actually interrupt a lot of casts that Intim roar cannot because of the classification change from disorient (Incap) to fear (Intim).
I don’t think anyone would argue that Guttural Roars should have stayed, it was obviously horrifically overpowered. I’m lukewarm on Tiger Dash however because it serves the same purpose as Dash, at the cost of a talent. Tiger Dash would have been a fantastic addition to supplement catweaving if it were off the GCD (previously Dash was used as an off-GCD shapeshift into cat form) since it has a shorter cooldown, but that’s out the window now that both Dash and Tiger Dash on the GCD. In addition, if you need a short-cd mobility option and you don’t care about dropping out of form, Wild Charge is almost certainly better in addition to being more versatile.
I’ll always remember this row in Legion as the one with the most squandered potential. Affinities in theory could be so cool, allowing any role to swap momentarily to another role to add some extra benefit to the raid. Sadly it’s devolved into a row of passives for Guardian (some specs like Resto still have viable form-weaving setups).
Feral Affinity could enable Catweaving as it did in Legion, a strong single-target DPS boost for when you’re off-tanking or third tanking. Balance Affinity could allow you to shift into Moonkin Form to spread sunfires across lots of targets to do more AoE damage. And with Resto Affinity you’d be able to spot heal if your raid needs a swing healer but can’t afford to drop a DPS, or if a healer dies during an encounter.
I would love for form-weaving of any sort to make a triumphant return in BfA.
Don’t have much to say on this row. I think it’s probably fine. Mass Entanglement might be a bit too weak compared to Typhoon in raids (save for Coven, the one encounter in the expansion where ME was absurdly strong). But overall I have no major concerns here.
I’m conflicted about this row. Theoretically, it’s got a nice diversity to it. You have the single target passive talent in Soul of the Forest, the burst AoE talent in Incarnation, and the cleave/sustained AoE talent in Galactic Guardian. In practice the only one that feels enjoyable to play is Galactic Guardian, and in Legion this row was tuned to support a GG playstyle in all encounter styles which I was more than happy to oblige. GG is getting a (probably justified) nerf in BfA, which means the other talents will see more play so it’s worth talking about them.
Soul of the Forest is unremarkable. It’s a pretty boring yet significant passive buff to Mangle.
I really don’t like the way Incarn plays. It might be strong but I don’t feel like spamming a single button for 30 seconds is particularly engaging. In an ideal world this would grant you a damage and rage generation boost by means other than just removing the cooldown on your strong abilities.
In my opinion, this row lives or dies on whether form-weaving is viable. If it is viable, then you have extra incentive to take SotF and Incarn so that you have free GCDs to shift into other forms (or if you prefer to be a bear, you can take GG to fill those GCDs with Moonfire procs). If not: better get used to casting Swipe, as you’ll be doing it a lot.
I think this row has been successful overall, especially after the removal of Mark of Ursol. I worry that Guardian of Elune will become too valuable again in BfA on account of the changes to Frenzied Regen making any increase to self healing much stronger.
This row can probably be fixed with tuning. Curb the ubiquity of Rend and Tear by making it worse defensively in all scenarios than Pulverize, and worse offensively in AoE than Lunar Beam.
Pulverize has an inherent issue in its design which is ramp-up time; requiring a certain threshold for Thrash stacks means you’re waiting 6-12 seconds into combat before you can get the buff rolling. That’s provided your targets live that long in the first place, which especially in something like M+ is not a guarantee.
Solution: Change Pulverize to always consume all Thrash stacks on the target. Additionally, it also deals the remaining damage from the Thrash bleed (with reduced base damage to compensate). This reduces ramp time significantly (if you need DR right away, your opener becomes Thrash -> Pulverize) and incentivizes Pulverizing at maximum stacks for extra damage.
There are two talents I’d like to rise to prominence in BFA. Perhaps unsurprisingly, they’re the talents that introduce more nuance and decision-making into the rotation.
The first is Pulverize. Pulverize earned sort of a bad rep in Nighthold when players began seriously considering it for its defensive benefits, because it demanded significantly more effort to execute than Rend and Tear for a disproportionately small gain in survivability and damage. If Pulverize were ahead by a significant margin, it would feel more rewarding to choose and execute correctly.
The second is not a single talent, but rather the entire Affinities row. I’m not sure what has to happen to improve these talents from simply passive choices to active ones - whether it’s buffing the form spells to the point where it’s worth shapeshifting to cast them, or giving you a temporary damage/DR buff every time you shapeshift to encourage weaving, or something else - but I think there is a huge opportunity on this row to make Guardian a truly enjoyable spec to play.
Overall I think Guardian talents are in a mostly healthy spot with respect to diversity and trade-offs. The rows that I have issues with are mostly a matter of tuning (and a few reworked spells) which is a good position to be in at this stage.