- Eclipse : Primarily its difficulty to activate, but also tied up with the trouble had casting Starfire. The 4pc PvP set bonus helps, but isn't enough, imo.
- Lack of passive defenses : notably a vulnerability to spell damage, but a below-par resistance to melee that is compounded by lack of active defense or escape options.
- Lack of active defenses : as above, lacking both active and passive defense options leaves the Balance Druid with few options. The vulnerability one has while hard casting means that the Druid is better of spamming Moonfire so as to retain some semblance of control and flexibility.
- Lack of options when trained : tied to the above points of a lack of active defense options. Balance Druids have few options when under attack by one opponent, and no options when assaulted by two or more. All Druid defensive measures are enemy-targeted (Roots/NG and Cyclone), but are far more effective as 'distance maintainers' rather than self-peels or distance creators.
The question of Wild Mushroom viability has been covered very well already on the Beta forums.
Much of this could be put down to melee being designed as offensive classes while casters are defensive; Charge/Death Grip/Stuns/Interrupts/CloS/AMS/Bladestorm/etc vs Blink/Roots/CC(Poly etc)/Iceblock/Cyclone/Travel Form/Demonic Teleport. Melee don't stop the offensive when under pressure where casters typically must fall back into defensive mode when under attack. A generalisation? Yes, as there are always exceptions.
This is of course debateable. I think this design is fine; however, the point I'll eventually get around to making is that the Balance Druid doesn't have defensive options when under pressure. Instead of anti-train and activated defenses, the Balance Druid loses offensive capabilities when being attacked, especially by melee. We cannot deal competative damage to a melee player while they are in melee range and they will easily out-dps us (we die unless we're able to be saved). We work at range, but melee is designed to prevent that.
The 'Moonwalk' concept is a great one. I've always envisioned it as a Faerie Dragon-esque 'Blink' (as per WarIII) where the Druid would take on the traits of the Faerie Dragon to disappear (or slip into the Dream) for ~3 secs. This would be our equivilant of a Mage's Blink, but with a unique Druid style. I have a feeling I've mentioned this a few times over the last few months somewhere on this blog.
So why does the Druid need this? And is it only Balance, or does Resto and Feral also 'need' this kind of reliable defensive option?
I don't have an answer for Resto/Feral, but to me the key boon from such an ability is that we suddenly have options as Balance. We have the choice to put ourselves in a vulnerable position with the knowledge that we do have a chance to make a play if things turn sour. It doesn't guarantee us invincibility, nor does it allow us to be careless. What it does do is allow us to not be countered so easily and force the enemy to work to actually take us down (rather than work on distracting our teammates from supporting us).
With the massive healing changes for Cataclysm, the Balance Druid suffers greatly. Our healing is no longer our crutch defensive option, and Balance Druids suffer here alongside Resto in PvP (due to offensive dispelling and lockdown vulnerabilities; as Bottleórum linked in post #63). Of course, this is more crippling to Resto, but it greatly changes the way we play as Balance without compromise too.
So the Moonkin has comparatively sub-par passive and active defenses. Even Ownkin Frenzy contradicts itself: we gain more offensive power in a situation where we have little-to-no option to be offensive.
If the Balance Druid is intended to be a glass cannon, then we need more options to escape and/or be actually able to deal our damage reliably and effectively. Moonfire spam as our primary PvP attack is not fun nor challenging for either the Moonkin or the enemy.
If the Balance Druid is intended to be a damage sponge, then we need greater passive defenses and activated defensive moves. We do NOT need any more ways to control the enemy. We need ways to control ourselves, imo.
The issues with the Balance Druid in PvP will not be cured by getting more resilience. We need the ability of choice so that we are better able to control how we play in PvP and we need the spec's mechanics to work effectively in PvP (including Eclipse).
As is, we are a half-caste with:
- mediocre healing (and only so when we are not under pressure).
- a Moonfire spam and Insect Swarm -reliant spec. (BG damage parses clearly show the lack of Wrath/Starfire use)
- an easily trained spec that has no active defense option
My random 2 cents on a Starfire reiteration (as is a topic of the moment on the forums):
2.0 sec cast
Blasts the target with energy, dealing 987 to 1229 Arcane damage. Each time you cast Starfire the damage and cast time of Starfire is increased by 25%. This effect stacks up to 2(3?) times and lasts 6 sec.