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Druid Leveling 30-60: Restoration and Balance

02 Jul



Last time we talked about Druid leveling 1-30: Resto and Balance, and today we’re going to take the next 30 levels in stride and get our little Boomchick’a’trees into Outlands. Level 30 is a big turning point for Druids, particularly Balance who have been waiting for another good spell to use for quite some time. Level 40 is similarly key for Balance Druids as Moonkin Form finally becomes available and at long last we get an AoE. Restoration doesn’t get to enjoy the butt-tentacly goodness of Tree of Life form until level 50, but they do get a few more tools added to their healing belt at levels 30 and 40.

Important Spells
The following are spells that we gain in the 30-60 level bracket that I feel have a strong impact on our playstyle either in this level bracket or throughout the Druid’s career. Numbers for healing and damage are taken from their highest spell rank within the level bracket in question (30-60), but do not reflect changes from talent points.

General (All Specs)

Track Humanoids: [Requires Cat Form] Shows the location of all nearby humanoids on the minimap. Only one type of thing can be tracked at a time.
Innervate: [Instant, 3 min cooldown] Causes the target to regenerate mana equal to 225% of the casting Druid’s base mana pool over 10 seconds.
Barkskin: The druid’s skin becomes as tough as bark. All damage taken is reduced by 20%. While protected, damaging attacks will not cause spellcasting delays. This spell is usable while stunned, frozen, incapacitated, feared or asleep. Usable in all forms. Lasts 12 seconds.
Gift of the Wild: Gives the Gift of the Wild to all party and raid members, increasing armor by 240, all attributes by 10 and all resistances by 15 for 1 hour.

You may be wondering why in the world I’m talking about a Feral ability to start with, so let me get that out for you right now. Track Humanoids is a very useful spell when you take advantage of it. It requires you to be in Cat form, but it puts icons on your mini-map of all humanoids in the area. While it’s especially great in PvP, it also has solid use while questing if you’re looking for specific humanoid mobs or a specific named mob. It’s important to note that the icon will be dull or grayed out a bit if the target is not on the same physical level as you. So if the icon isn’t bright then the mob (or player) in question may be inside a building or underground in a mine or similar structure.

Innervate is the answer to all (most) of your mana problems at long last. It restores 225% of your base mana pool (how much mana you have with no gear on), to the target over 10 seconds. When I first got this spell and was healing all the time I used this on the DPS people I ran with in LFG. As I switched to Boomkin and as I got higher in level I came to use it in both specs. As a boomkin you’ll be using this from the day you get it to the day you retire the character. As a tree, you’ll use it pretty often from your high-40s to your mid-70s, and then its usage will slacken again as you get in groups that are better geared and you get better gear yourself.

Barkskin is your panic button as a Tree, and your “die now, suckas!” button as a Boomkin. If you’re healing and you start taking hits then this is how you save yourself and your spellcasts so that you can keep people alive while you wait for someone to taunt him off of you (unlike the freaking paladin who let four casters send frostbolts and shadowbolts at my face repeatedly). As a Boomkin it still holds the same use, but it can also be put to an offensive use because it removes the pushback you suffer while casting. That includes pushback of your channeled spells, so your Hurricane AoE will get its full effect.

Druid Forms
Moonkin Form: Shapeshift into Moonkin Form. While in this form the armor contribution from items is increased by 370%, damage taken while stunned is reduced by 15%, and all party and raid members within 100 yards have their spell critical strike chance increased by 5%. Single target spell critical strikes in this form have a chance to instantly regenerate 2% of your total mana. Moonkins can not cast healing or resurrection spells while shapeshifted. The act of shapeshifting frees the caster of Polymorph and Movement Impairing effects.

Tree of Life Form: Reduces the mana cost of your healing over time spells by 20% and grants the ability to shapeshift into the Tree of Life. While in this form you increase healing received by 6% for all party and raid members within 100 yards, and you can only cast Restoration spells in addition to Innervate, Barkskin, Nature’s Grasp and Thorns spells. The act of shapeshifting frees the caster of Polymorph and Movement Impairing effects.

Flight Form: Shapeshift into flight form, increasing movement speed by 150% and allowing you to fly. Cannot be used in combat. Can only use this form in Outland and Northrend. The act of shapeshifting frees the caster of Polymorph and Movement Impairing effects.

The last of our combat forms (except Dire Bear Form which we get for free at level 40 and is an upgraded version of Bear Form), these are the two forms that you’ll spend most of your time in from here on out. That won’t be the case for Tree Druids once Cataclysm gets here, but for now that’s how it is.

Moonkin is your caster DPS form and what you’ll be in basically non-stop unless you’re traveling or find yourself in need of some emergency healing. The +5% Crit buff is great for being in groups or raids, and you have the added benefit of having some of your mana restored when you crit while in Moonkin Form as well, so it’s even better.

Tree of Life Form is your healing form and you definitely don’t want to break it if you don’t have to. WIth -20% mana cost on your primary heals and an extra 6% healing done you definitely don’t want to pass up those benefits if you don’t have to. The only time I find myself popping out of Tree Form is when I decide to add some DPS to the mix because everyone’s at full health and I’m at full mana and passing out from boredom, or when I’m doing PvP and need to use other spells that break the form such as Entangling Roots.

Flight Form is one of the best spells ever given to us. I always thought this spell was cool, but I didn’t realize just how amazing it really is until I got it for myself. Not only is it great for travel, it’s also unmatched for gathering professions and gathering quests as well. Of the three gathering professions, only Mining breaks you out of your flight forms, but the fact that it’s instant cast means you’re still a step ahead of any other class that’s out there farming mats with the possible exception of Paladins and Death Knights with their +20% movement spells and talents. And on top of that it’s just plain fun to use.

Restoration Spells
Resto doesn’t get any new spells by default of leveling in this range, but they do get some new spells through their talent tree. Because of that though, I’ll cover them in the talents section instead of general spells.

Balance Spells
Hurricane: [Instant, Channeled] Creates a violent storm in the target area causing 100 Nature damage to enemies every 1 second and reducing movement speed and increasing time between attacks of the enemies by 20%. Lasts 10 seconds and the Druid must channel to maintain the spell.

At long last, level 40 comes with our first AoE spell, and lucky for us it’s a good one. The good news is, it hits hard and fast and also slows everything it hits. The bad news is, you’ll be tearing through your mana pool like I will a plate full of bbq ribs, and in case you’ve never had the (dis)pleasure of seeing me eat ribs, let me tell you that’s fast. When you first get it, even with +Int enchants on your gear, you’ll be lucky to get three of these cast before you’re completely out of mana.

Leveling as Balance
Questing Rotation: Starfire, Wrath, Moonfire, Insect Swarm, (Wrath spam or Entangling Roots)
LFG Trash Rotation: Insect Swarm*, Hurricane**, Typhoon, Wrath for clean-up
LFG Boss Rotation: Faerie Fire, Wrath, Insect Swarm, Moonfire, Wrath/Starfire spam

The questing rotation is pretty much all you’ll need until Northrend. In vanilla content I preferred to just burn things, so I would spam Wrath to finish off the mobs and not really let my DoTs do their full damage. It’s not like I was a Warlock, right? I also ran out of mana like nobody’s business. I didn’t really catch on until Outlands when I sat down and really looked at what my spells did. It was then that I found out the trick to conserving my mana, and that was to let my DoTs do their job, or to not cast them in the first place. Look at the damage that your spells do and look at the health of the mobs you’re facing. If you can kill everything with Starfire (or Wrath) > Moonfire > Insect Swarm > Entangling Roots, then do it. Knock them down a few notches with your nukes, then DoT them up and let them die while you go pull another mob.

As we sit right now, pre-Cataclysm, LFG dungeons are all about AoE on trash mobs. If there’s a caster or a heavy damaging melee mob in the mix then throw an Insect Swarm* on them at the beginning, if there’s not then don’t bother casting it unless you really want to. Cast Hurricane** once and then judge the health of the mobs. If there aren’t at least three mobs alive and with more than 25% health or so then don’t cast it again, otherwise give it a second cast. If the mobs are near death, but there are multiples, then Hurricane is going to be a waste of your mana, so instead use your Typhoon (if you have it) to take them out or clean up any remaining mobs with Wrath or your questing rotation if they have a lot of health.

For boss fights you want to maximize your own DPS and that of the group. Faerie Fire reduces the target’s armor so that your melee deal more damage to them, and with the Improved Faerie Fire talent you also make them easier for you to hit with your spells and easier for you to crit with your spells as well. The Wrath right after that is to establish your Earth and Moon debuff which increases the spell damage they take by 13%. So establish your debuffs on the boss, cast your DoT spells, and then lay into him with nukes. Casting FF/Wr/IS/Mf at the beginning should give your tank time to build enough threat that your double-Starfire will not steal agro from him (unless they both crit), but just in case it does you’ll want to either back off on your DPS or cut out your second Starfire for Wraths instead.

[Update: I forgot cooldowns!
Once you get high enough that you have Eclipse 3/3 you’ll chance up your nukes and instead cast Wrath until you get a Lunar Eclipse proc, then cast Starfire until Solar Eclipse procs, recast your DoT’s, and then go back to Wrath/Starfire to use your Eclipse procs.

You also don’t want to forget to use your cooldowns, so once you have Force of Nature you want to cast it right before you start in on the Wrath spam. Starfall should come after the Force of Nature, but I would save that for boss fights instead of trash packs to avoid over pulling and accidental wipes.]

Leveling as Resto
Questing Rotation: Starfire, Moonfire, Entangling Roots, Starfire, Entangling Roots, Wrath, Wrath
LFG Healing Priority: Regrowth, Rejuvenation, Swiftmend, Nature’s Swiftness + Healing Touch

Questing as Resto still sucks, and in fact it sucks even more as we gain more levels. You shouldn’t have much trouble until your 50′s, but it gets worse as you go. You’re basically a Root & Nuke machine with Wrath Spam. When things get a little rough you may want to use Bear/Cat form to save yourself a little mana. I did a little bit of questing as Resto in Outlands just to try it out and the best thing I found was to actually start off the fights in Cat form and use all of my energy before switching back to caster form for R&N.

With Innervate at our disposal now I tend to be a bit more nuke-heavy in my R&N rotations after level 40. I prefer to use Starfire to break the roots instead of Wrath and only use Wrath to finish them off. As you get more spell power on your gear you’re going to break the roots with either Starfire or Wrath, so you might as well get a little extra damage from roots ticks while going for the big Starfire cast than Wrath, but it’s up to you.

If you quest as Resto then use whichever style works best for you. Personally, I just picked up a dual spec and switched between DPS and Heals as needed. If you don’t have 1,000g laying around to do that though, you’ll need to either deal with questing as a healer or leveling strictly through LFG and PvP Battlegrounds.

Resto Spec and Glyphs




Changes: First off I’m going to let you know we’ve got some changes to the spec here. The spec I used leveling up to 30 worked great for me. As I got higher in level though, some of those points we spent early on became wasted and talents that we didn’t buy with those points became needed. If you’ve followed this spec beyond level 15 then you can either respec now or wait until level 40. The problem talent is Naturalist, which reduces the cast time of Healing Touch. Once we get Nature’s Swiftness at level 30 that talent becomes mostly useless because the only time we’ll cast Healing Touch from here on is when we use Nature’s Swiftness to remove its cast time all together. Instead you should invest those points into Natural Shapeshifter. This should be the new link: Level 30 Resto

Gift of Nature 5/5: Increases the effect of all healing spells by 10%.
Improved Rejuvenation 3/3: Increases the effect of your Rejuvenation spell by 15%.
Nature’s Bounty 1/5: Increases the critical effect chance of your Regrowth and Nourish spells by 5%.
Swiftmend 1/1: [Instant cast, 15 second cooldown] Consumes a Rejuvenation or Regrowth effect on a friendly target to instantly heal them an amount equal to 12 seconds of Rejuvenation or 18 seconds of Regrowth.
Living Spirit 3/3: Increases your total Spirit by 15%.
Nature’s Bounth +1 (2/5): Increases the critical effect chance of your Regrowth and Nourish spells by 10%.
Empowered Rejuvenation 5/5: The bonus healing effects of your healing over time spells is increased by 20%.
Tree of Life 1/1: Reduces the mana cost of your HoT spells by 20% and grants Tree form. While in Tree form you increase healing received by 8% for all party and raid members w/i 100 yards, and you can only cast Restoration spells in addition to Innervate, Barkskin, Nature’s Grasp and Thorns spells.
Improved Tree of Life 3/3: Increases your armor contribution from items while in Tree form by 200%, and increases your healing spell power by 15% of your spirit while in Tree form.
Revitalize 1/3: Your Rejuvenation and Wild Growth spells have a 5% chance to restore 8 Energy, 4 Rage, 1% Mana or 16 Runic Power per tick.
Gift of the Earthmother 5/5: Increases your total spell haste by 10% and reduces the base cooldown of your Lifebloom spell by 10%.
Wild Growth 1/1: [Instant cast, 6 second cooldown] Heals up to 5 friendly party or raid members within 15 yards of the target for 686 over 7 seconds. The amount healed is applied quickly at first, and slows down as the WG reaches its full duration.

Resto Glyphs

Major

  • Glyph of Regrowth: Increases the healing ofyour Regrowth spell by 20% if your regrowth effect is still active on the target.
  • Glyph of Swiftmend: Your Swiftmend ability no longer consumes a Rejuv. or Regrowth effect from the target.
  • Glyph of Innervate: Innervate now grants the caster 45% of their base mana pool over 10 seconds in addition to the normal effects of Innervate.

I made a slight change to the glyphs as well once I found out how Nature’s Grasp and Swiftmend work. I never cast Healing Touch without Nature’s Grasp to make it instant anymore, so the Glyph of Healing Touch has been removed. I also found that I rarely needed to Rebirth somebody in combat while leveling until I got to Northrend, and even then it’s no problem to bring them back with a regular battle res and then just heal them to full with a couple of casts, so that glyph is gone as well (though it will reappear in the level 80 build).

As such, go ahead and keep Regrowth for now as your level 15 glyph, use whatever you want as filler at level 30, and then at level 40 swap that one out for Swiftmend.

If you find yourself having mana problems, which I did once I started getting BRD for all of my randoms, you may want to drop Regrowth for Innervate instead for the extra mana. It’s not necessary, but it is useful if you find yourself in need of mana frequently and your group doesn’t like sitting still for you to drink.

Minor

I used to think Unburdened Rebirth just saved me bag space, but I had no idea that the reagent for Rebirth actually changes every time you get a new rank of the spell. I keep a full stack of reagents on hand when I don’t have a glyph to remove them, but having to constantly go to a vendor to buy the new type of reagent or downrank the spell to use an old one was ridiculous on so many levels it’s not even funny. Get this glyph of your Druids no matter which spec you’re running.

Though my love for Aquatic Form runs deep, I do need to point you to useful glyphs when I can so for the sake of being helpful I’m going to suggest the Wild over it for leveling purposes. You should be buffing people in dungeons and battlegrounds and you’re going to need to rebuff yourself every half hour as well, so it only makes sense that we cut the mana cost of that in half.

Balance Spec and Glyphs




Lunar Guidance 3/3: Increases your spell power by 12% of your total Intellect.
Improved Insect Swarm* 1/3: Increases your damage done by your Wrath spell to targets afflicted by your Insect Swarm by 1%, and increases the critical strike chance of your Starfire spell by 1% on targets afflicted by your Moonfire spell.
Moonfury 3/3: Increases the damage done by your Starfire, Moonfire and Wrath spells by 10%.
Dreamstate 2/3: Regenerate mana equal to 7% of your Intellect every 5 seconds, even while casting.
Moonkin Form: Shapeshift into Moonkin form, increasing armor from items by 370%, damage taken while stunned reduced by 15%, and party/raid members w/i 100 yards gain 5% critical strike chance. Your critical spell strikes have a chance to instantly regenerate 2% of your total mana.
Improved Moonkin Form: Your Moonkin Aura also causes targets to gain 3% haste and you gain 30% of your Spirit as additional spell damage.
Improved Faerie Fire 1/3: Your FF spell also increases the chanace the target will be hit by spell attacks by 1%, and increases the critical strike chance of your damage spells by 1% on targets afflicted by FF.
Owlkin Frenzy 3/3: Attacks done to you while in Moonkin form have a 15% chance to cause you to go into a Frenzy, increases your damage by 10%, causing you to be immune to pushback while casting Balance spells and restores 2% base mana every 2 seconds. Lasts 10 seconds.
Wrath of Cenarius 2/5: Your Starfire spell gains an additional 8% and your Wrath gains an additional 4% of your bonus damage effects.
Typhoon 1/1: [Instant cast] Summon a violent Typhoon that does 400 Nature damage to enemies, knocking them back and dazing them for 6 seconds.
Force of Nature 1/1: [Instant cast, 3 minute cooldown] Summons 3 treants to attack enemy targets for 30 seconds.
Eclipse 3/3: When you critically hit with Starfire, you have a 100% chance of increasing damage done by Wrath by 40%. When you crit with Wrath, you have a 60% chance of increasing your critical strike chance with Starfire by 40%. Effect lasts 15 seconds and each has a separate 30 seconds cooldown. Both effects cannot occur simultaneously.
Earth and Moon 3/3: Your Wrath and Starfire spells hav a 100% chance to apply the Earth and Moon effect, which increases spell damage taken by 13% for 12 seconds. Also increases your spell damage by 6%.
Gale Winds 2/2: Increases damage done by your Hurricane and Typhoon spells by 30%, and increases the range of your Cyclone spell by 4 yards.
Starfall 1/1: [Instant cast, 90 seconds cooldown] You summon a flurry of stars from the sky on all targets within 30 yards, each dealing 145 to 167 Arcane damage. Also causes 26 Arcane damage to all other enemies within 5 yards of the enemy target. Maximum 20 stars. Lasts 10 seconds. Shapeshifting into an animal form or mounting cancels the effect. Any effect which causes you to lose control of your character will suppress the starfall effect.

That’s a pretty big list of talents, so I’m not going to go into detail about what they do or why we’re taking them because it should be fairly obvious from the descriptions I list after them. Basically we’re taking talents that increase the damage of our primary spells (Wrath, Starfire, Moonfire, Insect Swarm), we’re trying to either conserve or regenerate mana wherever we can, we’re increasing spell power based on other stats (Intellect or Spirit), and we’re gaining other spells that help to increase our DPS as well (Typhoon, Force of Nature, Starfall).

If you read through the talents you’ll also get the sense of what really drives a Moonkin’s playstyle, and that’s Crit. The more you crit, the more benefits you get from various talents and spells. You get mana back, you get increased damage on Wrath or increased crit chance on Starfall, and so on. Moonkins go by a lot of names, but this is why “Critchicken” is one of them.

Balance Glyphs

Major

  • Glyph of Innervate: Innervate now grants the caster 45% of their base mana pool over 10 seconds in addition to the normal effects of Innervate.
  • Glyph of Focus: Increases the damage done by Starfall by 10%, but decreases its radius by 50%.
  • Glyph of Wrath: Reduces the pushback suffered from damaging attacks while casting your Wrath spell by 50%.

We’re taking a pretty big turn in the glyph world from where we were before, mainly because of the new spells that become available to us as we level. When you get to level 40 you want to replace one of your glyphs with Innervate. If you’re doing a lot of soloing then drop Insect Swarm for it. If you’re running dungeons or doing a lot of PvP, then drop Wrath for it instead. With this glyph using Innervate on yourself now restores 270% of your base mana pool to you and if you use it on someone else then you still get 45% of yours returned as well. While I have cast it on other people on occasion, most often I end up using it on myself, so the extra mana just keeps me going that much longer.

Once you hit level 60 and get the glorious Starfall spell it’s time to grab Focus which you’ll swap out for the Wrath/IS glyph that you’re still holding onto. Starfall is an amazing, face own spell of mass destruction. The problem is, it’s mass destruction is freaking massive, having a total reach of up to 35 yards (30 plus 5 yard splash). That’s a lot of damage to a lot of mobs, but the problem is the range on it. Using Starfall basically pulls every mob in your area to you. Using it in dungeons is like asking the mobs to come wipe your group. Focus cuts the radius in half which helps with the wiping, and it also increases its damage by 10%. You still have to watch out for those wipes, but at least now you’re as likely to get everyone killed when you use it.

Minor

While I’m still a big fan of the Aquatic Form glyph, I’m going to have to throw some other suggestions out there for those of you who aren’t. I still don’t cast Rebirth a lot as DPS, though I know I will do it more when I start raiding with him, but it’s still better to have this glyph on hand to remove the reagent. I didn’t realize until leveling the druid more that the reagent for Rebirth changes every time it gets a new rank. So not only do you have to have the reagent, you also have to keep buying new ones all the time when it levels. Save yourself the hassle and just get the glyph. Typhoon is a good glyph to pick up if you’re doing a lot of random dungeons. In PvP and solo questing I love the pushback effect so I don’t use the glyph myself, but it does get the tanks a little upset sometimes.

I personally level with Aquatic Form and Unburdened Rebirth, but Typhoon is a good choice over Aquatic Form if you don’t care for a little extra swim speed with how little it’s actually necessary to swim.

Gearing Your Druid

Resto: Spell Power > Haste > Spirit
Balance: Spell Power > Crit > Intellect > Spirit

Since we’re still leveling I’m going to keep Intellect pretty high on the list. Resto usually has no mana problems starting out, then can’t seem to get enough mana around level 40 and through most of Outlands, and then you get into Northrend and you’re flooded with mana again. If you have mana problems then stack more Int. If you don’t have mana problems then stack more Spell Power. Alternatively you can stack more Spell Power regardless of your mana issues and try to get your heals large enough that you don’t worry about mana because you need fewer heals anyway.

Balance always has mana problems, that’s just the way it is. Personally, I like to fix that by kicking the crap out of things fast enough that it doesn’t matter, or with so few spells that it’s not a problem. Rather than stacking Intellect so that we can cast 10 spells to finish off a mob, go ahead and stack Spell Power as much as you can so that your spells do enough damage that just a few casts can kill them. Your spells make themselves better when you Crit because of your talent points in things such as Eclipse, so crit has a solid place for us now as well. Haste is the key to having your Starfire not take forever to cast, and as one of your hardest hitting spells you’ll ever have that’s a big deal as well. When none of that is available, then it’s time to get some Intellect, and if you can’t find it then pick up Spirit which translates into mana regen as well as Spell Power when you’re in Moonkin form.

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Posted by on July 2, 2010 in Caster, Class, Druid, Guide, Leveling, Macro, Play Styles

 

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