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Hand Me Downs: Druids

29 Nov

So we all know that the Hand Me Downs: A Poor Man’s Heirlooms post was a huge wall of text, and that I’m breaking it down into class-sized pieces for you. No need to repeat all of that business, so here we go. Moving on to the next class in this series (in no particular order, I might add), we have: Druids.

General Concept
The basic idea of what I call “hand-me-downs” (or HMD’s) is that you’re taking items that can be passed from one toon to the next (so Common, White-quality items) and enhancing them to make them better. Enhancements that we’re going to talk about here come mostly from the Enchanting profession, though a few may also be found in Blacksmithing (counterweights, sheild spikes, etc), Leatherworking (armor kits), and Engineering (scopes).

The whole point here is to get low level gear that you can pass around to any alts that you ever roll to make them more powerful starting out. As Cynwise and I have proved through experiment in both PvE and PvP at low levels, it isn’t heirlooms that make your character so overpowered, it’s actually the enchants.

So if you’re trying to decide on which class to role, or what to go take one for a test drive for 10 levels or so before deciding whether or not to keep them, this is a great way to get a feel for how the class is going to play for you without putting in investment that’s going to be wasted. Since these items can be passed around due to their lack of binding, it’s not a big deal to roll a character, gain a few levels, scrap them and reroll another, and so on until you find a nice fit.

Balance and Restoration Weapons
We’re going to start off with weapons because they have more potential than armor for making your low level toons extra powerful. When you’re choosing a hand-me-down weapon, you need to consider which type you’re really looking for. For Melee weapons you’re interested in three things: damage, usefulness, and coolness.

Balance and Restoration Weapons
Arcane Forged Mace: 2-5 Damage (1.7 DPS), 1.90 Speed
Arcane Forged Dirk: 1-4 Damage (1.7 DPS), 1.60 Speed
Mana Gathering Staff: 5-9 Damage (2.1 DPS), 3.20 Speed
Apprentice’s Staff: 3-5 Damage (1.3 DPS), 2.90 Speed

As I’ve said before, the Mace is the only weapon that every healing class in the game has in common, so the Mace is one of your best choices. However, the Dagger is the one weapon that can be shared across every type of spellcaster in the game, except for the Holy Paladin. If you only want to enchant a single caster HMD, then the dagger is the best option because both healers and DPS casters can use it save for the Paladin.

Balance and Restoration Enchants
Enchant Weapon – Mighty Intellect: +22 Intellect
Enchant Weapon – Spell Power: +30 Spell Power
Enchant Weapon – Healing Power: +29 Spell Power
Enchant 2H Weapon – Major Intellect: +9 Intellect

In 3.5 the +30 SP was the go-to enchant for casters, but with the change to spell power Mighty Intellect has taken the lead. It’s also the cheapest of the three options which makes it that much more appealing. You don’t get quite as much spell power out of the deal, but you’re trading 7-8 SP for 330 mana which is more than worth it for low level casters in my opinion.

I find that I have more mana issues as Balance so +22 Intellect is the clear winner there for me, while as Resto I’m begging people to go jump in a fire or something just so I can spend my mana on something. I’ve mostly given up on the 30 SP enchant for everything non-twink at this point, but you might find it to be more to your liking.

Feral Weapons
2H Frostbit Staff: [Lvl: 5] 12-19 Damage (5.8 DPS), 2.70 Speed
2H Quarter Staff: [Lvl: 11] 20-32 Damage (9.6 DPS), 2.70 Speed
2H Gnarled Staff: [Lvl: 15] 27-42 Damage (11.9 DPS), 2.90 Speed
1H Copper Dagger: [Lvl: 6] 5-10 Damage (5.0 DPS), 1.50 Speed
1H Amani Sacrificial Dagger: [Lvl: 12] 10-21 Damage (7.8 DPS), 2.00 Speed

The best way for you to kill things when you roll a fresh Druid is to just spam Wrath until your target is dead. You don’t have any Feral abilities at all until level 8, so you start out as a Balance Druid no matter what you want to do later in the game.

Once you get Cat form you can switch over to melee combat instead of Wrath spam. You’ve got a couple of options to consider here. First, some Cat abilities now take weapon damage into consideration, so you want weapons that actually deal damage. Second, you have to take reusability into consideration and Druids have some of the worst weapon selections for that.

There are four classes that use Agility as their primary damage stat (Druid, Hunter, Rogue, Shaman). The highest Agility bonus enchant you can get comes from two-handed weapons, but the only other Agility class that will use two-handed weapons is the Hunter, and the only two weapon types you share in common are the Staff and Polearm. Hunters don’t care about melee weapon damage, so they could use a level 1 weapon for 40 levels and not care. If you have multiple two-handed HMD’s you’re not going to the same reusability from them that you would other weapons because the Hunter doesn’t need to upgrade HMD’s until he can dual wield.

My personal suggestion for Feral Druid HMD’s is to use a staff with +25 Agility when you first get Cat Form at level 8, and then upgrade to two-hander (likely a Mace) with Crusader on it in your teens and stick with that until you replace your HMD’s with dungeon drops or quest rewards. The Crusader two-hander can be used by your Warriors and Paladins, so it has at least some chance of being reused where a higher level staff with +25 Agility would not.

Feral Enchants
Enchant 2H Weapon – Agility: +25 Agility
Enchant Weapon – Crusader: Proc: +100 Strength for 15 sec., heals you for 75-125 (x2 crit)
Enchant Weapon – Fiery Weapon: Proc: +40 Fire damage (x2 crit)
Enchant Weapon – Agility: +15 Agility
Enchant Weapon – Lifestealing: Proc: Steals 30 health from the target (x2 crit)

Since the purpose of HMD’s is to be used at low level, you want to consider what kind of investment you’re really making. The best enchant for your class is Agility, but the best enchant for those low levels is technically Crusader. Druids don’t get the luxury of dual wielding, so your best option is a two-hander with +25 Agility on it, or any weapon you can use with Crusader on it. You can put a +25 Agi enchant on it for a consistent +50 AP, or you can put Crusader on it for a fairly reliable +100 AP most of the time.

I haven’t had enough time to really sit down and test this one out from a min/max point of view. As far as being able to reuse an item goes though, a staff with +25 Agility is great for Feral Druids but also excellent for Hunters until they can dual wield at level 20. At the same time, Crusader is the best Strength class weapon, so you can also reuse those weapons on your Warriors and Paladins.

Another thing to consider is that the best place to farm the mats for the Agility enchants has apparently been nerfed in my experience. The day before 4.0.3a went live I farmed the area for just over 40 minutes and had 4.5 stacks of Essence of Air. I farmed it again on patch day and in the time that I should have had over 2 stacks in my months of farming experience I only had 3, total. Not 3 stacks, just 3, when I should have had more than 20. So Agility might be harder to come by than it once was.

Fiery and Lifestealing are both great choices as well, with Fiery being the better of the two. I like that Fiery procs often lead to one-shots, but the higher you get in level the less impressive the enchant becomes. Lifestealing does at least have some scaling with your level, but it’s proc rate isn’t as high as Fiery so it doesn’t happen as often.

Armor
Armor isn’t nearly as important as your weapons because in the levels that you’ll use HMD’s you should not have very many issues with survivability, making the armor stat much less impressive than it really is. The main benefit that you’ll get from your HMD’s then is actually the enchants that you place on them. The best-in-slot items for both chest and leg slots (that can be used at level 1) are interestingly cloth items; Haliscan Jacket and Haliscan Pantaloons.

And since the whole point of HMD’s is to enchant them in order to make them more powerful than regular gear, we’re not going to bother making HMD’s that cannot benefit from enchants, or which benefit only a very small amount. So we’re not going to look at Belts, jewelry or trinkets.

Leather Armor Set
Chest: Haliscan Jacket: 90 Armor (Cloth), Sun Cured Vest: 33 Armor
Legs: Haliscan Pantaloons: 77 Armor, Black Tuxedo Pants: 54 Armor, Sun Cured Pants: 29 Armor
Waist: Squeeler’s Belt: 22 Armor, Sun Cured Belt: 18 Armor
Bracer: Sun Cured Bracers: 14 Armor
Gloves: Sun Cured Gloves: 20 Armor
Feet: Sun Cured Boots: 23 Armor
Back: Linen Cloak: 12 Armor

Above is the vendor bought Leather set from the Blood Elf starting area. For level 1 characters these do end up being the strongest items available to you, so I haven’t bothered listing items for other levels as armor upgrades really aren’t important for your first 20 levels unless you’re a tank.

The Haliscan Jacket and Pantaloons and the Tuxedo Pants easily beat out the best leather options at level 1, so they’re listed here as well even though they’re cloth. They also happen to have higher item levels than all of the other options, giving you the ability to put more worthwhile enchants on them as well.

Balance and Restoration Chest Enchants
Enchant Chest – Exceptional Stats: +6 All Stats [ilvl 35+]
Enchant Chest – Greater Stats: +4 All Stats
Enchant Chest – Major Mana: +100 Mana
Enchant Chest – Stats: +3 All Stats
Enchant Chest – Restore Mana Prime: Restore 7 Mana every 5 seconds [ilvl 35+]

The best choice here is +6 Stats which gives you 90 Mana and 6 Spell Power, though it can only be placed on the Haliscan Jacket. The +4 and +3 Stats enchants are listed for the same reason, providing both spell power and mana. I like the +100 Mana more than +3 stats for Druid HMD’s because while mana isn’t an issue in most cases I’m more likely to need the extra mana than I am a mere 3 points of spell power. Mana regen isn’t usually a huge issue, but if you run into mana problems then you might want to consider Restore Mana Prime.

Feral Chest Enchants
Enchant Chest – Exceptional Stats: +6 All Stats [ilvl 35+]
Enchant Chest – Greater Stats: +4 All Stats
Enchant Chest – Exceptional Health: +150 Health [ilvl 35+]
Enchant Chest – Stats: +3 All Stats
Enchant Chest – Major Health: +100 Health

We have basically the same situation for Feral, except the +X Stats enchants get much more beneficial. The +6 Stats for instance grants 18 Attack Power (6 Agi = 12 AP, 6 Str = 6 AP) as well as 6 Spell Power and 90 mana, all of which you’ll use (though SP to a lesser extent). This is a great example of when being a hybrid is a good thing. I’ve found Feral Druids to be more on the squishy side than they used to in the early levels, so +150 Health isn’t a bad idea either, if you have the Haliscan to put it on.

Balance and Restoration Bracer Enchants
Enchant Bracer – Healing Power: +15 Spell Power
Enchant Bracer – Greater Intellect: +7 Intellect
Enchant Bracer – Mana Regeneration: Restore 5 Mana every 5 seconds

I personally choose +15 SP for my bracer enchants, but the +7 Intellect enchant is a lot better now than it was before 4.0. You can either have 15 SP or you can have 7 SP and 105 Mana to go with it. It’s up to you really, I just like to have that extra level of power from the 15 SP for my personal taste.

I feel that the mp5 enchant is the weakest here, but it’s still a decent fit for a caster. I find I have more mana issues as Balance than I do Resto, but I’d go for one of the other enchants over this one regardless.

Feral Bracer Enchants
Enchant Bracer – Superior Strength: +9 Strength
Enchant Bracer – Superior Stamina: +9 Stamina
Enchant Bracer – Minor Agility: +1 Agility

I don’t know why in the world they gave us +9 to both Strength and Stamina, but not Agility. We don’t even have a +7, +5, or even +3 Agility; they just left us with the dinky +1. However, we do still get 1:1 AP from Strength, so the +9 Str enchant is your best bet here. If you’re feeling especially fragile then go ahead and reach for the +9 Stam instead, but you shouldn’t have many too survivability problems in this level range, especially not as a class with some of the most useful heals in the game.

Balance and Restoration Glove Enchants
Enchant Gloves – Healing Power: +16 Spell Power
Enchant Gloves – Minor Haste: +10 Haste

Casters have a lot of really good options here. The generic enchant of choice is Healing Power for +16 SP to all of your spells. Unfortunately, most of our damage is Nature which doesn’t have it’s own “.. Power” enchant, so Healing Power is your best option. Haste can help you in a few situations, though mostly in your reduced cast times.

If you’re going for Resto then Haste actually helps a lot more because of your HoT’s, but at the same time you aren’t going to have much trouble healing low level instances anyway so it’s not all that big a deal in this time frame.

Feral Glove Enchants
Enchant Gloves – Superior Agility: +15 Agility
Enchant Gloves – Greater Agility: +7 Agility
Enchant Gloves – Greater Strength: +7 Strength

Gloves provide us one of the best enchants of all of our HMD’s with Superior Agility (+15 Agi). The +15 Agi enchant isn’t exactly easy to find though, because it’s not exactly easy to farm either. If you can’t find it, then look for the +7 Agi instead, or +7 Str if you can’t find either of the Agility enchants.

I’ve been told that the rep grind for Superior Agility isn’t as bad as it was prior to 4.0 being released, so perhaps it will become easier in the future. I’ve done the farming on my own for one of my servers and am about to start on my other server just as soon as I finish up the Cenarion Expedition grind that I’m on right now for the cloak enchant that we’ll talk about down below.

Leg Enchants
Light Armor Kit: +8 Armor to Chest, Legs, Hands or Feet
Medium Armor Kit: [Lvl: 5] +16 Armor to Chest, Legs, Hands or Feet

I’m going to go ahead and list these here just for the sake of completion. I don’t use HMD pants because of the fact that these are the only enchants you can put on them. A little extra armor never hurt anybody, but it never really helps for your low level toons either. Not when we’re talking about 8-16 points of it, at least. If you want to use them, then here they are.

Balance and Restoration Boot Enchants
Enchant Boots – Minor Speed: +7% Run Speed
Enchant Boots – Lesser Accuracy: +5 Hit

Casters get the shaft on boot enchants, with nothing really standing out. I lean towards the speed increase for my personal use, but you might prefer the +5 Hit. Run Speed will help you quest and level faster, while Accuracy will help you kill faster, so the choice is yours.

Feral Boot Enchants
Enchant Boots – Greater Agility: +7 Agility
Enchant Boots – Lesser Accuracy: +5 Hit
Enchant Boots – Greater Stamina: +7 Stamina
Enchant Boots – Minor Speed: +7% Run Speed

For Feral Druids I almost always suggest you go with +7 Agility because the first two points you spend in your talent tree are likely going to include a speed boost while in Cat form anyway. If you don’t want to spend your points there, then the Minor Speed is still a good option, but I personally go for that kitty speed right off the bat. The speed from the enchant and the speed from those talent points do not stack, which is why I mention it.

Cloak Enchants (All Specs)
Enchant Cloak – Stealth: +8 Agility, +8 Dodge
Enchant Cloak – Lesser Agility: +3 Agility
Enchant Cloak – Superior Defense: +70 Armor
Enchant Cloak – Subtlety: -2% Threat

The top cloak enchant is thanks to a change from 4.0.3a in the Stealth enchant. It used to just make you count as a single level higher when calculating how hard/easy it was for someone to see through your stealth. But now this sucker has almost three times as much Agility as the previous option and it also has Dodge thrown in for good measure. I don’t know what prompted this change, but I’m loving it.

If you’re not Feral though, the Subtlety enchant is probably your best option for the reduced threat. Tanks don’t have great AoE threat compared to what they used to have, so it’s not too uncommon for healers to get early agro on trash packs. If you don’t like LFG or don’t think that threat is an issue, then go for either Stealth or Superior Defense.

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3 Comments

Posted by on November 29, 2010 in Caster, Class, Druid, Guide, Hand Me Downs, Leveling, Melee, Play Styles

 

Tags: , ,

3 responses to “Hand Me Downs: Druids

  1. LongStrider

    November 29, 2010 at 3:54 PM

    You want http://www.wowhead.com/spell=25083 as the link on enchant cloak stealth not what you’ve got.

    All those enchants that require high BC faction rep make me sad since I’m leveling my enchanter (57 right now) and I’ve done that grind before on my alchemist main… don’t want to have to do it again, especially now when it’s much harder to find groups.

     
    • Psynister

      November 29, 2010 at 4:24 PM

      Sometimes I have to ask myself just how the crap these link typos happen… Thanks!

      Yeah, it really sucks that you have no choice but to get the rep for some of them. I’ve managed to get a lot of my enchants from doing them with my level 80’s either with the guild just for fun or soloing it on my own.

      You can get some of the rep from queuing specifically for the dungeons you need while leveling through Outlands, but all of those dungeons cap at some point.

       

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