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.
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.
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.
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.