Feral Druid – Playing with Claws of Shirvallah

ClawsofShirvallah-femalenightelfcomparison

Let’s talk about this awesome new level 100 Feral Druid talent, Claws of Shirvallah.

I’m going to start with telling you something you probably already know; some classes get different level 100 Talents offered to them depending on what specialization they are.

Non-Beastmaster Hunters, for example, get offered the Lone Wolf Talent which increases damage done by 30% when you don’t have a pet out. That Talent is not offered to Beastmasters, they get Adaptation instead which gives your active pet both DPS and survivability spells.

Not all classes get offered different Talent choices based on spec at level 100. Mages get a few different ones, Warlocks also. Some classes get only one choice that changes, others get two.

Druids? Every Druid spec has it’s own completely different set of three Talent choices at level 100.

Thank you to Blizzard for taking the time to add so many choices. I think we’re all aware of how much work goes into these kinds of options. Every new Talent they add has it’s own ramifications and balancing implications. To create 12 new level 100 Talents just for Druids, so each Druid spec has three relevant ones to choose from… it’s humbling. Really, thank you.

None of what follows is me complaining or bitching about Claws of Shirvallah. The amazing thing is not how well it’s done, but that it was done at all. I’m grateful for what it is exactly as it is. Can I suggest things that might improve the aesthetics? Sure. Is it fair of me to expect more than the awesomeness we already got? Not really, no.

So, all that said, if you haven’t been playing a Feral Druid, there is a lot you might have missed at level 100.

The single biggest thing that still blows my mind are our Talent choices at level 100, all relevant to our kitty interests.

Lunar Inspiration lets you add Moonfire to your kitty repertoire. I haven’t played with that because it doesn’t ignite my imagination, but I can see advantages to adding a ranged attack to Kitty without having to switch forms. Or shall I say, an effective ranged attack. Especially for, oh, such critically important tasks as soloing legacy Battle for Mount Hyjal raids. I’m looking at you, Gargoyles in the backfield munching on Trolls.

Bloodtalons is an intriguing option. Your Healing Touch spell causes your next two melee attacks to deal +30% additional damage.

If you read my earlier Feral Druid post, you might have seen how free Healing Touch casts procced by your normal DPS finishing moves means you will be frequently getting free Healing Touch instants during a fight.

What intrigues me about Bloodtalons is the fact that an instant cast Healing Touch from a finishing move doesn’t have to be cast instantly when you get it. Conceivably, you could save that proc for a few seconds until you build up five more charges, then cast Healing Touch and instantly follow that up with a finishing move to get it at the +30% damage buff. I haven’t played with it on a training dummy yet, but I suspect to make it work reliably I’ll need to make a Healing Touch cast macro that includes a /stopattack afterwards so I can make sure I cast my finishing move directly afterwards and don’t let a melee autoattack use up both +30% charges.

Sorry, I didn’t mean to digress into Bloodtalons, I think that even if you don’t try to micro-manage the +30% buff it will still be a nice DPS boost. Just remember to keep using your Healing Touch procs whenever available, that’s all.

But my real interest is in this third Talent Feral Druids are offered, Claws of Shirvallah.

Let me get the one bad thing out of the way first; there is no female version of the form. As you can see from the side-by-side comparison, my female Night Elf when in cat form with Claws of Shirvallah becomes distinctly NON-female in appearance, especially when compared to the difference between male and female Worgen forms. This makes me a sad kitty.

There are four colors/fur patterns depending on your race right now, and obviously it’s based on the Saberons who as NPCs don’t have females. We do have Celestalon saying they hope to expand on the Claws of Shirvallah form in the future, so let’s leave it at being an optimitic happy kitty, all right?

The other appearance-related issue I don’t like is that the /dance emote doesn’t work, it just causes you to stand up as you can see in the comparison photo. The normal ‘standing around’ appearance is the one with the cat down in the Worgen travel form running stance.

ClawsofShirvallah-normal

Finally, and this is just a super small ‘aw shucks’ thing, but when using Claws of Shirvallah, it replaces your cat form. If you like to use Burning Seeds to become a Druid of the Flame (cindercat!), they do NOT work with Claws of Shirvallah. Burning Seeds replace the cat form appearance, and the Claws of Shirvallah do not register as a cat form to the Burning Seed effect.

So, that is all the sad bits. I can’t find it in me to complain though, because what I’m basically sad about is that Blizzard did not take the time to make this one Talent out of 12 for Druids a complete new character race. I mean, that is what we’re talking about, having different appearances for male and female, having special animations like /dance, etc. When put that way, it would have been awesome if they did it, but it’s pretty great that they did what they did.

Totally unrelated, but I do think that having female forms for all races, NPC or playable alike should be baseline, but I know that has been talked about often enough to walk away from it feeling like I have nothing of valuable to add to that conversation. It’s really hard to walk away from that topic, but it’s been addressed in the community so many times in the past and nothing has changed yet, so bah.

Now for the good stuff. And it’s really good.

The Talent tooltip for Claws of Shirvallah tell you about a 5% Versatility increase in the form. What that translates to is a flat +5% damage and healing boost, and incoming damage is reduced by 2.5%. Not bad, right? With our focus on high burst and long term free self-healing this is a great addition.

ClawsofShirvallah-text

The tooltip also mentions casting non-traditional cat spells. So far the spells that have made an immediate difference to me in PvE is the ability to Remove Corruption and pop Entangling Roots without dropping forms, both very nice.

What the tooltip doesn’t mention but that you can find when mousing over the buff in game is that you also get a +30% movement increase. That movement increase is from Claws of Shirvallah, and doesn’t include the +15% from the Feline Swiftness Talent.

ClawsofShirvallah-mouseovertooltip

No, I’m an idiot, I forgot to test whether the +30% and +15% from the two Talents are additive. I intend to do that later tonight. I will say that you feel damn speedy in Shirvallah form.

In my defense, I was having too much fun soloing Firelands to remember to stop and check speed differences with Talents enabled and disabled.

And yes, you CAN taste the 5% Versatility when soloing at-level mobs.

As a quick anecdotal test, I decided to go solo some of the Ironhide Bulls needed for the level 3 Barn leather traps. They are elites in Nagrand and can be a bit finicky to kill without kiting if you’re undergeared.

My Feral Druid was freshly minted, in less than iLevel 505 gear, and I did NOT bring a bodyguard from the Inn with me.

I did not kite, I did not pop any kind of defensive cooldown like Survival Instincts. All I did was test the effectiveness of standing and burning down using the standard DPS attacks, finishing moves, instant Healing Touch procs and Rejuvenation.

No problem. Burned the Ironhide Bulls down, dropped trap, and then endured the damage incoming while waiting for the trap to trigger. Burst damage in particular is amazing.

My next test was to take the same Druid into Firelands as i said above, to see what it was like to solo through there. I’ve done it as a ranged Hunter and Warlock many times, but not generally as melee DPS.

Firelands was AWESOME! Swipe and Maul on all the packs of adds, the massive speed buff, two temporary speed boosts with Dash and Stampeding Roar, all of it makes for insane trash clearing speeds. And energy regen is pretty good, too, even at low gear levels.

All in all, I’m scared. I hesitate to even begin to invest hope in my Druid again. it’s been so long, and so much pain. I’m afraid to be hurt again. What if I go all in on Feral once again, and they take all these toys away or nerf the heck out of it?

This is everything I ever liked as a Feral Druid, just without the versatile tanking bits, but hey, self-healing! Super fast playstyle and movement, hopping around like a lunatic toying with my prey.

So right now, my review of Claws of Shirvallah would be a cautiously optimistic 4 out of 5 stars. Feels fun as hell to play, looks great if you love super beefy guy cats, lots of good tools in the toolbox, effective in the field in multiple environments, whether legacy raiding or questing in the modern world. Only downsides are the lack of a female version of the form and a fleshed-out range of emotes.

Cautious because I feel like we need to whisper our love of anything in this game for fear we will draw attention to the supreme funcrushing overlords. maybe if I just whisper it?

Psst. hey, you. Feral Druid is 4 fite.

Claws of Shirvallah, in one sentence; unstoppable death on itty, bitty furry paws.

Okay, NOW my journey to the Feral side is complete

Tesh has taken up the challenge, and crafted the ultimate Ring of Power™.

Or at least, the ultimate Ring of Furry Feral Druid Pride.

Yes, I said Furry. We’re Druids. Get over it. SOME of us are even Taurens, so if you can’t at least handle the label with humor, dare I say “let it slide like water off a Manatee-forms back”, then you’re in the wrong end of the class pool.

Tesh has opened a new Shapeways store, called Tish Tosh Tesh Toys (I love that name), and has presented us with several different Feral Druid ring designs.

One of these rings is exactly, EXACTLY, how I envisioned the ring I wanted to design… except a little better, because it has our Druid shoulder markings on each side of the claw design;

It’s amazing! And on Shapeways, when made out of Stainless Steel, it’s only $23.00!

Now, at this time it is only on there at size 11. I do not know what size my finger is, but it’s unlikely to be 11. I ain’t that lucky. But Tesh tells me he is going to be adding more ring sizes soon.

I think if we ask nicely, he may also add the option to have it made out of other materials… I don’t know what the options are exactly, and I know I will buy the stainless version so I can wear it without worrying about breaking or chipping it, but it seems to me you can have things made of other materials, some colored. Perhaps a Night Elf purple or Tauren brown version are possible.

 Still…. behold the power of creation!

And if Tesh acts fast, it is entirely possible that some lucky Druids could be seen wearing one of Teshs rings at Blizzcon! Talk about a head turner, eh?

In other Tish Tosh Tesh related news, one of the things he intends to create and place for sale on his Shapeways store are Zomblobs! figures for a tabletop game version of his game design.

Just sayin’, this ain’t a one-shot store for a one day wonder novelty item that will quickly and quietly fade away. Tesh has plans. Exciting, imaginative plans. I’m really looking forward to seeing where his vision will carry me next.

The Struggle makes it Sweeter

Just to be clear for those visiting from search engines… the post title refers to an article about playing World of Warcraft.

MMO Champion dropped a feral bombshell on us this last weekend, showing a video of a wonderful item effect for Feral Kitties.

There will be a staff in the next expansion, Fandral’s Flamescythe, that, when equipped, will cause your Druid Cat form to transform into a gorgeous flaming cat when engaged in combat.

The video highlights this item in use… and it’s stunning.

How do we get this incredible item? Is it a quest chain, or a crafted Legendary for Druids, or some such thing?

No, my friends, it’s not. It’s an epic drop from a raid boss in Firelands, Majordomo Fandral Staghelm, and therein lies the heart of our discussion.

I’m not going to act all stupid and incite a flamewar between raiding players and those who focus on other aspects of the game. Every aspect of the game has it’s own special rewards, and if you want the reward, then you play that part of the game. I’m not looking to ask who is excited at seeing this item go to raiders only or something like that.

PvP, Crafting, Archeology/Fishing/Cooking, Raiding, Exploring, playing together as a guild, killing critters… there are a lot of special items that you can only get by taking part in activities outside of questing. If I were to ask a raider vs non-raider question like that, it would be pandering for pagehits on a polarizing position, a pathetic ploy to pursue.

People who raid and want it are excited, people who don’t raid and want it are disappointed, but hopefully looking forward to the day when Firelands is old content that non-raider 5 person groups can farm for the fun toys they want.

Where I’d like to go with this instead is to muse on how working hard as part of a group to get something while it is still viable adds spice to the game that long outlasts the item itself.

There was another item that was arguably designed for Ferals that I once lusted after. It was also an item you could only get as a raid drop, except at the time Druids couldn’t equip polearms. This particular item was a staff.

I’m talking about Terestian’s Stranglestaff, which dropped from “that demon guy what you used to kill in Karazhan behind the secret door, the one with all the imps that you needed Seed of Corruption for”.

Yeah, you know who I mean. :)

I was a Feral non-raiding Druid, a fresh member of a guild that DID raid, and I wanted that staff. I lusted after those tentacles writhing on that pole. Err, this went in an uncomfortable direction all of a sudden. Hold on, swerving to avoid gratuitous tentacle sex references.

I wanted that staff not only because it was awesome for Ferals, not just because it looked freaking wicked… but also because wearing it would have been a readily identifiable tentacle-waving symbol that I had entered and experienced Karazhan while it was current with a bunch of friends.

I’d have a visible reminder of having done something fun with the guild, a shared experience with souveniers. 

A fun part of the MMO experience, for me, is simply talking with other players and swapping stories, reminiscing about the fun we have had along the way.

Over the years, even though I’m not a raider, I have been fortunate enough to have friends who either formed raid groups with me, or who invited me along as a hired gun. Er, borrowed claw. 

So, I’ve raided Onyxias’ Lair, Molten Core, Blackwing Lair, AQ20 and ZG 10 when they were current. Not 5 times a week, and not every week, but I did enter them and see them when they were what people had to talk about for current events. I was part of the conversation, and to this day I can bring forth my own “Do you remember when…”. I carried away the only thing you really own with a video game; the memories of fun times. 

Same with Burning Crusade, although for the most part my time there was in Karazhan, Gruuls Lair, Magtheridon’s Keep and a very teensy bit of Serpentshrine.

With Wrath of the Lich King, I got to see Naxx, a good bit of Ulduar, some Trial of the Crusader and Icecrown Citadel. Not on the leading wave of raiding, not consistently and certainly not all the way through, but I got to take part and build those shared experiences with friends.

Does that make me leet in any way? No. But what it does do is bring to mind all of the good times, and when looking back on things, a whole lot of the good times was taking on difficult challenges, and getting drops for overcoming those challenges that I was proud to wear.

I knew at the time, the same as you, that wearing Tier gear or having a Stranglestaff didn’t make me special, I wasn’t posing in front of the Ironforge AH hoping some0ne would gawk in admiration, tears of awe shining on their faces.

What they did was serve as visual cues, little reminders that, “Yeah, I did that, and I remember when we killed that son of a bitch Curator for 3 months before the Tier piece finally dropped that I wanted.”

This staff from Fandral Staghelm will be very cool. It’s a sweet idea that I love Blizzard for adding to the game, a neat goal for Ferals to look forward to.

I’m a little sad knowing that a lot of players who would dearly love having a flaming kitty form will not get to experience it until a long time after Firelands has been out, because they just can’t raid, or they can’t raid on their Druid. I’m likely one of them, getting my Druid raid worthy is a seemingly impossible task. Maybe one day.

At the same time, and even knowing that I likely won’t be able to get it myself, I like knowing that part of the pleasure of having it will be the satisfaction of overcoming a challenge as a group, and having something to chat about in the future. When you see someone pop kitty and flame on like Ghost Rider, you’ll know that they saw Fandral and took part in killing that worthless, traitorous, sniveling little bastard.

Ahem. Sorry. 

I love the items I have earned from questing, from exploring, from Archaeology and crafting, the pets I’ve found and the mounts I’ve had drop.

But there is something to be said for items that you can only get at the conclusion of kicking the hell out of a challenge as a group, and seeing that purple you want drop while you’re still riding that adrenaline high.

Plus, hey, remember when?