Balance Druid general and Covenant ability feedback.
Signature ability: Fleshcraft feels useful from a single player perspective and in Torghast to a point, but it can be hard to charge it up to any real strength without first killing an elite aka the very kind of mob you’d want to have the shield to fight. In m+ I could see it being used between packs on some weeks, but as far as bosses and raid content goes, I can’t see ever justifying such a long channel time for a 20% shield that any decent hit will eliminate.
The only alternative I can think of to make this ability viable to use while IN combat would be to perhaps make a portion (10-20%) of the shield instant cast and then the channel adds 5-10% per second over a 3+ second channel period. At least then, without needing a body, you could channel a useable shield during boss downtime or have a quick, one shot shield at the cost of a global or two.
Class ability: Adaptive Swarm feels useful overall and there certainly seems to be some decent skill flexibility in mixing it with heals and trying to carry it from one pack to another. It definitely feels like a relatively powerful single target ability, even more so when combined with Stellar Flare, that is worth pressing when possible.
I only have a couple of minor complaints with the ability so far - listed in order of importance. First, I would like to see it favor jumping to damageable targets when in Balance spec or even see it have a fixed order of enemy > friendly > enemy when targets are available. Secondly, it feels kind of strange/clunky to have it locked at a range of 40 yards when almost every other Balance ability - even including Resto Affinity abilities - have a range of 45 yards. Third and definitely least important, the ability feels kind of like maintaining a third/fourth dot rather than a special cooldown/unique ability. I don’t see it being anything more than a simple fire and forget single target dps tool in raid and boss content. I think removing it from the GCD or adding some kind of effectiveness increase after each bounce would add some depth to how it is used, but leaving it as a third/fourth dot - bland as it feels - still leaves it as a worthy ability to have. Tl;dr, worth using, but not really special - a fire and forget dot.
Signature ability: Summon Steward feels very different from the other three Signature abilities. Where Venthyr and Night Fae offer mobility/utility and Necrolord offers defense, Summon Steward doesn’t seem to add anything at all. It’s basically a novelty without the handful of powers in Torghast that turn the potion it offers into a powerful heal/damage increase. The services it offers once per day are entirely non-combat and easily replaced by items/mounts/toys. The potion it offers is likely to only be useful in very niche situations where the dispel has value, otherwise it will be replaced by regular health potions.
To bring it in the same line and spirit of the other Signature abilities, I would draw from Torghast’s alterations to the ability. Having the steward provide flat movement speed %, be it the 35% from Torghast or something lower, while it is out or having it give buffs like leech and/or avoidance % while out would make it feel much more like an actual utility. Outside of adapting Torghast powers, other options could be to even keep it as just the non-combat + potion and don’t have the potion share cooldown with any other potion or make the potion into a stronger heal/hot to make you want to take it as a real additional defensive option.
Class ability: Kindred Spirits/Empower Bond feels, frankly, like not having a class ability at all. Solo it doesn’t feel worth pressing and, honestly, feels like a mistake to use. Either you press it then incarnation/celestial alignment, at which point you are left with 6-7 seconds thanks to both cooldowns being on the GCD, or you press incarnation/celestial alignment and then Empower Bond therefor clipping as much as a full cast or 1-2 Starsurges of time off of your main cooldown. Using it outside of Incarnation/CA isn’t worth mentioning since you could neither build any real power on it or really even use the power of the ability without that major cooldown.
In that 6-7 seconds (assuming you used it immediately prior to incarn/CA) you can get a couple of casts off and a Starsurge or two. Even with three critical Starsurges and a critical Wrath/Starfire (likely the best you could fit in that duration) you get intellect equal to somewhere between 1 and a half to 2 and a half times your weapon(s). Not only is the intellect gain low, it doesn’t matter because, by the time you’ve ramped it up to a viable strength, it goes away from timing out. The only ability that meaningfully increases Empower Bond (Starsurge) is also the only ability that realistically gains meaningful power from its buff.
Moving on to group play, I still don’t see how it can be of any real value as even the most powerful burst dps aren’t going to be empowered by you enough to have more than 1 or 2 meaningfully powered up casts in the short duration of the buff. Even with empowering another player, the short duration still removes the usefulness as the partner you are empowering would only get 2 or 3 seconds of significant buff as you would spend around 7 of the 10 seconds using Empower Bond > Incarn/CA > Starsurge x 3. None of which mentions the fact that coordinating usage of this ability with another dps in a way that is impactful would be too difficult to be a viable option.
I purpose the following solution to make the ability worth pressing and flexible skill wise. Keep the way it works in the sense of empowering the bond and having damage grant primary stat (maybe with a small 10-20% increase to the stat gain, but detailed balancing is another issue entirely). However, don’t grant the primary stat as it is built up. Instead, have a 10 second window when you first “Empower the bond” where damage done determines how much primary stat you are going to gain without immediately giving you the stat (a ramp up window). After the 10 second ramp up window closes, gain the full primary stat increase that was built up in the ramp up window as a buff for 10 additional seconds (a dps window). This would provide a meaningful buff that you could actually make use of instead of spending the entire duration of the ability ramping it up to something worth while. 10 seconds to build stats followed by 10 seconds to use them. You could even have the primary stat decay slightly across the 10 second dps window if the ability seemed too strong and still have it feel like gaining a real buff.
I think this solution adds a lot of options for how the ability can be used and makes it actually feel like a cooldown worth pressing. Solo with this version, a moonkin would still only get limited ramp up due to the ability GCD stacking with incarn/CA, but you could reach a decent level of stat gain and still have a 10 second window to use it with a handful of casts and Starsurges - a number of casts that could reach impactful amounts in skilled hands. Grouped with this version, a moonkin would actually be incentivized to try and empower the bond for another player as, combined properly with a full 7 seconds of incarn/CA, you could generate a significant buff going into their cooldown(s) without damaging your own dps (aside from losing Empower Bond itself). In grouped content, this version of the ability requires only the coordination of using it immediately prior to the other player’s cooldown(s) rather than having to try and time it so the last 1-3 seconds, where the stat gain is reasonable, falls during a major casting point of their cooldown. This version also gives them time to notice you building a buff for them and allows them to plan for the incoming stat gain, further reducing the coordination requirements without diminishing the skill cap of coordinating it exceptionally well.
Night Fae Covenant:
Signature ability: Soulshape is certainly cool and will likely have many situational uses for a lot of classes/specs. It feels good for a movement ability and I’m interested to see where it can be used to creatively avoid/bypass mechanics in unique situations. It didn’t seem explicitly needed with all the movement options a druid already has, but I wouldn’t really put it below the other Signature abilities in the utility it adds.
Class ability: Convoke the Spirits feels awful. Spamming Moonfire is virtually worthless and can make refreshing your dots down the line more awkward since Sunfire (and Stellar Flare if you have that) end up completely off-sync with Moonfire’s duration. Spamming Wrath gives Astral Power and decent damage, but only really helps if you use this during solar eclipse/incarn/CA. Any other ability cast is really just worthless at best and outright dangerous if options like thrash encourage a moonkin into melee range. Combine all of that with the fact that it’s complete luck of the draw and the ability seems like a seriously bad option to choose as Balance.
My purposed solution to the ability’s issues comes in three parts. First, allow shifting between forms freely during the channel. Second, instead of having it “favor your current specialization” have the ability ONLY cast things related to your current form. Third, replace Moonfire with Starfire. This version would allow you to use it to push either eclipse and benefit from either/both eclipses, would not cause awkward refreshes of Moonfire and would give you a real dps gain even if you didn’t get the exact chain of casts you wanted. It would also allow for the versatility and skill flexibility that comes with form dancing to force bear/cat/resto abilities.
Signature ability: Door of Shadows is a wonderful movement utility to have - primarily due to its ability to change levels. I don’t mind the cast time and it has a healthy range. Nothing but praise for this ability.
Class ability: Ravenous Frenzy is best summed up by saying; I will, without any doubt, pick Venthyr on my druid if this ability goes live as it currently stands - regardless of Signature ability/story/cosmetic content. This ability feels like an extremely powerful second incarn/CA that is also versatile enough to help with self healing. It doesn’t even feel bad using it in AoE situations where I’m just dotting everything and letting the rapid growth of haste and damage rot it all down. The negative edge of idling reminds me of the joyous rush of early Legion surrender to madness and, somewhat surprisingly, feels very forgiving. I’m not afraid of the ability, but it’s also not just a bland cooldown that you press and forget like Necrolord. I also love the fact that things off the GCD like Barkskin and Solar Beam add stacks to it, encouraging you to try and weave those in for the extra 4%. Throw in that things like changing form, movement abilities and spamming dots increase stacks and it even feels like being forced to move during a mechanic or losing uptime for some other reason isn’t harming your dps output as much as normal while this ability is active. Even GCD stacking it with incarn/CA doesn’t feel as bad as GCD stacking normally does since incarn/CA grants a stack. This ability is absolutely amazing in every way as it currently stands.
General Balance Feedback:
There’s limited ability to really test the strength/role of the class at the moment so I just have a couple of limited remarks as to the changes to Balance/Druid. I only take one issue so far with the Eclipse system and that is in starting packs of mobs (or even combat with a single mob). Having to either do three long cleave casts on a single target to start the single target focused Eclipse or three single target casts on one mob in a group to start doing proper AoE feels awful. It would feel much better and be much more in line with the ramp up/control of other classes if Eclipse reset to 1 cast of either Wrath or Starfire to trigger an Eclipse whenever you exit combat. This would give a lot more control over whether we are doing AoE or single target focused dps from pack-to-pack without compromising the dance between Eclipses in combat.
Secondly, Starfall feels awkwardly expensive at 50 Astral Power, especially with Starsurge being 30. I think having Starfall at around 40 would feel a lot better and, since you can’t gain by casting several on top of each other anymore, I don’t see how it’d be an issue to have it cheaper. Otherwise, Balance Druid feels good so far. The addition of a lot of CC is wonderful and the largely familiar talent tree already looks to have many possible interesting interactions with the new Eclipse system and Covenant abilities.