The fact that his health has been nerfed and the Animus spawns sooner (which I doubt is accidental - you don't nerf a boss' HP by 25% by accident) says to me that the clearcasting nerf is deliberate, but I can't find actual confirmation, so I've edited the post to more speculative, and to add this disclaimer that we still haven't had official word on it.
PS: I also heard Onyxia deep breaths more - but this is also unconfirmed. ;)
EDIT:12/8 - this has been confirmed as an intended change.
Ulduar raiders - something you may not be aware of is a recent possible "stealth" nerf to General Vezax and the strategy used by many druids to supplement and sustain their mana over the course of the fight, usually in hard-mode.
I'm referring to tree-punching, of course.
The General Vezax fight seems to have been changed so that it is no longer possible to use clearcasting procs such as Omen of Clarity to get free casts off. This affects all clearcasting abilities for mana users. As far as I have read, ferals are ok.. but I can't find an official word on this.
The (defunct?) Tree-Punch Method
If you weren't aware of this method until now, here's basically how it worked:
- Stand with the melee.
- While going about your normal healing business, tree-punch the boss until you get a Clearcasting proc.
- With clearcasting up, cast a Lifebloom. This will cost 0 mana.
- When the Lifebloom expires, it will return part of its base cost. (not as much as usual though - I think it is 25%)
Figure 1: BAM.
Because the Lifebloom cost you 0 mana to cast, but refunded you some mana, this method means you are gaining mana every time you do it. Alternatively, you could use that clearcasting to cast say, a free Regrowth.
It was a very effective way to sustain your mana, particularly on hard mode when you aren't able to use the saronite vapors to get mana back. It also meant that you could sit with the melee and stay out of the way of Shadow Crashes.
Unfortunately it seems that no mana users can use clearcasting anymore, and if this is the case, this method will no longer be viable.
(Insert sad pandas here.)
Figure 2: This is actually just Figure 1 with a big red X through it.
Other changes to the fight
Vezax's health has been nerfed, and in hard mode the Animus' health has been nerfed too (it now also spawns after 6 vapors, down from 8). This means that the fight is shorter, so it should be less of a strain on mana.
No more melee tree?
Some people choose to continue to use the "Shadow Crash Dance" method - casting Lifeblooms from the puddle (which reduces the cost by 75% but also the ticks by 75%) and allowing them to bloom for a nett gain in mana (particularly if you are wearing 2pc + Spark of Hope etc).
It has been argued by some that the mana gain is too small to bother using this method - but on hard mode, if we can no longer punch our way to free healing in Phase 1, it may become a more commonplace strategy to sustain our mana.
Could anyone confirm (or would someone like to test) whether Fel Mana Potions still work on this fight? They were working pre-3.2.
Just a heads-up, it may mean no more tree punching on this boss.