Yes, this series is probably going to continue for some time. I have to talk about every class, and anything else I think of along the way.
I have not played a druid, nor have I played with one extensively in PvP, so my insights are probably going to be significantly less insightly this time around.
First up, moonkins. Poor moonkins.
Moonkins aren’t in a very good place, overall, and haven’t been this entire expansion. Or ever. Moonkins are generally inferior to their other caster brethren, enjoying limited success in the hands of excellent players in a couple comps in 2s and 3s, and like death knights are shunned from 5s. They do quite well for themselves in battlegrounds, largely because the best way to PvP as a moonkin is to shove people off cliffs, ledges and bridges.
The major problem facing moonkins is that they are a caster trapped in the body of a druid. They have snares, they have nuking capacity, they have crowd control, they even have a half decent defensive cooldown, but all of those are inferior to what their caster brethren enjoy. In addition, moonkin do not have access to something all the other casters have: an interrupt.
Mages, warlocks, shadow priests, and so forth all have numerous ways to shut down opposing casters and numerous ways to avoid being shut down by other players. Moonkins have neither. They have no meaningful interrupts and no reliable way to avoid being shut down by enemy players. To put it lightly, a moonkin is a caster with either no caster tools or weak versions of them.
Every arena comp I’ve played, whenever we come across a moonkin, we very rarely don’t hit the moonkin extremely hard right off the bat. The only defensive cooldown they have is Barkskin, which can be easily dispelled and doesn’t even provide a great measure of help anyway. Other than that, their only real major option is to shift and run away, which frankly suits us just fine.
Similar to how an arms warrior in defensive stance with a shield equipped stops being a major threat, so does a moonkin forced into caster form to heal itself or cheetah to try and run away.
Moonkin damage is alright, which is about the only thing they have going for them. Currently, with Starfall and trees popped a moonkin can deal respectable damage, but without that their damage is merely average. A lack of damage is not what is holding moonkin back from being a great PvP spec, a lack of burst damage is not what moonkin are hurting for. (Though a more reliable Eclipse talent would certainly be a big help.)
What the balance tree needs is some proper caster tools. A few defensive abilities, to use against both enemy melee and enemy casters, would go much further in helping moonkins than anything else. Barkskin is simply not enough, not nearly enough. Buffing the damage Starfall deals isn’t going to fix anything.
Hell, even letting barkskin provide 100% dispel protection while it’s active would be a major improvement. Which, apparently, is coming to druids in cataclysm. Little late for any moonkins trying to compete in season 8.
Ferals are in roughly the same boat as moonkins. A melee class without any of the melee tools. Which isn’t entirely true, as any mage can tell you from trying to fight the instant snare breaking polymorph immune bastards.
I can’t say much about ferals, for I don’t particularly know a lot about them. They are few and far between, the only time I can recall even seeing one per battleground was the first few months after Wrath shipped. Since then, I see one maybe every five or six battlegrounds, and even less often in arenas.
Generally though, their population trend is the same as tree druids. Prevalent in 2s, scant in 3s, and seeing one in 5s is cause for laughter and derision.
All I can really say is that feral druids are very tough melee characters. With numerous bear tanking talents at their disposal, they have higher than average armor, health, and critical strike chance reduction. They can shift into bear form for significantly higher survivability any time, they can shift out and heal themselves, and quite excellent mobility. They can stealth, though they lack a way to regain stealth during combat.
Near as I can tell, the lack of an interrupt and the inability to deal damage in a PvP friendly way is what is causing ferals to lag behind.
Ferals, from what I understand, rely on a significant amount of target uptime in order to get their various buffs and debuffs to actually start dealing heavy damage. PvP does not allow for a lot of uptime, any DPS class typically works in small bursts. Three seconds here, four seconds there. Situations where you can sit on a target for ten or so seconds, just hammering damage into them, are extremely rare.
And so, ferals are forced to do as much damage as they can in a few globals. Which is especially poor in their case, relative to other classes like warriors and ret paladins.
In any case, there aren’t a lot of feral druids running around in PvP. Perhaps because they all rerolled resto years ago.
Tree druids, on the other hand, are quite numerous. You can find them everywhere, really. They are in battlegrounds and a dominating force in 2s. Far less common in 3s, and rather rare in 5s.
This, I think, is due to a resto druid not having high throughput or group based defensive cooldowns. Resto druids have abilities and cooldowns that can defend themselves, but they have nothing to bring to the table when someone else starts getting blown up. The total lack of a magic dispel doesn’t help either.
They have numerous powerful HoTs, but HoTs cannot save someone immediately, they save someone eventually. A resto druid simply cannot keep up with the damage output in the 3s and 5s brackets, something shamans, paladins and priests can all do. In these larger brackets, the damage output teams can do is immense. A player can be taken from full health to a dirt nap in a matter of three or four globals. This is damage output druids cannot easily handle.
Druids can pre-HoT, yes, but their mana pool isn’t deep enough to pre-HoT everyone. Swiftmend and Nature’s Swiftness obviously are used plenty, but even that isn’t enough. Druids simply lack the healing throughput, and they don’t have the cooldowns to offset that. This is also why the only successful druid teams in 3s feature at least one partner that can seriously bolster their power. A ret paladin, for instance, has access to powerful team based cooldowns, shields and his own heals and dispels to help the druid.
However, a resto druid does have access to some offensive abilities. They have crowd control.
This makes them perfectly suited toward small scale PvP. This is why they are so strong in 2s. The amount of damage going out in 2s is far less than 3s and 5s, so the resto druid actually can heal effectively. And of course the fewer people there are, the more efficient crowd control becomes. Druids almost seem tailor made for the 2s bracket. Hardly surprising, considering druids have nearly dominated that bracket since season one.
One final note: Cyclone.
In my eyes, Cyclone is a broken ability for one reason and one reason only: it has no counters.
If you are hit with cyclone, your only option is to trinket. There are no other abilities you can use to get out, there are no abilities your teammates can use to free you.
You could say locking down the druid or using LOS to break the cast are counters, but those are also counters to every other kind of CC in the game. Every CC can be countered by locking down the CCer, breaking LOS or staying away from the healer, or removed once a player is CCd by any number of buttons.
Except Cyclone. Nothing counters Cyclone. This is broken.
Cyclone nullifying all incoming damage and healing is fine. I say, increase the duration of Cyclone to ten seconds, like the other forms of casted CC. However, Cyclone becomes a magic debuff, and thus can be dispelled.
What Cyclone does is fine. CC is CC, but most come with other little effects attached to them. Even locking out immunity buttons during Cyclone is ok, though it does make druids better at CCing paladins and mages than they would be against other classes.
The only issue I see is that Cyclone cannot be countered, which to me is extremely broken.