Difficult to tell until we get proper group fights, but yeah, the bubble change feels a lot like the end of an era. Getting the bubble up in the right place at the right time was fun. Popping it to carefully advance while staying out of cc, meh. And it just doesn't feel right to have to play it that safe as a warrior. With quicker pulses, the bubble will still have a point in semi-instant boon ripping mid-fight, but it'll likely be gone immediately after. Still a useful tool, but the days of it shaping blob movements seem gone.
Not quite sure about Battle Standard. It has potential for snowballing an advantage, but the finisher radius is only 180 so it might take a good few coordinated banners to really swing a fight.
Then of course, there's the kittens, but we won't know where we stand until a few weeks of nerfs have gone through. Right now, it's probably a good idea to keep a few kittens out of combat to pounce and finish the downed as they appear. Wonder if there isn't a niche there for thieves/mesmers to pounce with kitten skill 1, stealth/port out of combat asap and remount for the next pounce. A single party working this way could be enough to get all the quick finishers in the world.