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Sage/Sorcerer Leveling: 21-40 DPS

In the 1-20 guide I went over two specs for DPS leveling but this time around we are going to look at three. The first two will be Full Telekinetics/Lightning and Full Balance/Madness, and the third will be a hybrid of the two which is also my personal favorite.

For those of you who are interested I do have a healing version of these guides in the works that I will also be posting Soon™. I’ve got a level 30 Sage that I just switched over from Balance that I had a lot of fun healing with, so now I’ve got a baby Sorcerer who’s going to level as a healer to give me a view of the 10-30 range so that I know what the crap I’m talking about.
Turn the page to find out more…

 
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Posted by on February 29, 2012 in Caster, Consular: Sage, Inquisitor: Sorcerer, SWTOR

 

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Druid Leveling 30-60: Restoration and Balance



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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Druid Leveling: 1-30 (Resto and Balance)



When you ask people about leveling Druids the default response has almost always been “level Feral”, and for good reason. Feral is a very solid spec with very little downtime. The damage is high as the style of play is very Rogue like, and with your own healing spells as well as multiple methods of travel it’s one of the easiest and fastest leveling setups in the entire game.

As most people are aware, with the introduction of the random dungeons and being able to queue yourself up it has now become much more common, and perhaps the default, to level instead as Resto using the LFG/LFD tool exclusively for leveling from 15 all the way to 80. Druids are also one of the most mana efficient healers in the game while leveling and the way that their HoTs work it often seems as though nobody ever drops below 90% health which means most tanks love them (I know my DK and Paladin both did for sure). The key to leveling a Resto druid is knowing your abilities and knowing how to manage your mana. From there on the rest is cake.

But what about the red-feathered stepchild of druid leveling? Balance is a fairly “simple” spec to play, much like any other caster in the game. People don’t suggest leveling with it often though because it’s easy to feel that you have mana issues and that you’re constantly stopping to drink and replenish your mana. The key to leveling a Balance druid is to know when to hold back and when to push forward. There’s also another aspect of it that we’ll talk about in the Balance section.

My purpose with this post is to show you how to level as either a Balance or Restoration Druid up to level 30, discussing the specifics of both as well showing you how to embrace your hybrid nature when the time comes so that you make use of your entire skillset instead of a small part of it.

Character Creation and Preparation

Races
If you want to be a Druid then you’ve got only two options: Night Elf (Alliance) or Tauren (Horde). When the Cataclysm expansion arrives that will expand to Worgen (Alliance) and Troll (Horde) as well.

Of the two current choices Night Elves get “better” starting stats than Tauren do, but it really won’t matter in the long run. If you’ve had trouble leveling a Druid in the past, then I suggest you go with a NElf because you’ll have better caster stats for starting out.

Heirloom Items
If you have access to heirlooms then you have a few choices for which items you would like to give to them. Each item slot is listed in the order I would suggest them. For armor pieces the only difference (usually) between leather and cloth pieces is the amount of armor that is one them. You’ll get better armor for the leather piece, but you can use the cloth piece with more classes if you play multiple alts.

Chest: Preened Ironfeather Breastplate or Tattered Dreadmist Robe
Ring: Dread Pirate Ring
Shoulder: Preened Ironfeather Shoulders, Tattered Dreadmist Mantle, Exquisite Sunderseer Mantle, Lasting Feralheart Spaulders
Trinkets: Discerning Eye of the Beast, Swift Hand of Justice
Two-Handed Weapon: Dignified headmaster’s Charge, Grand Staff of Jordan
One-Handed Weapon: Devout Aurastone Hammer, The Blessed hammer of Grace

For the shoulders you can’t really go wrong with any of the four I have listed. The ESM is a bit more Balance oriented with a bonus to Crit chance where the LFS is more Resto with additional Spirit. The first two shoulders (PIS and TDM) are your top two regardless of spec.

Since mana is likely to be your main issue rather than hit points, I suggest a pair of Discerning Eyes over one of each trinket if you can afford them. The Haste from the Swift Hand can certainly help you, especially at higher levels, but since mana is key I suggest the Eyes.

As for weapons you should first decide whether you want to stick with a staff while you level or if you want to be open to using off-hand items that you find as you level. My personal preference is to go with a staff, but it’s your call. There are some good off-hand items in the game, I just prefer to go with a solid weapon I know I can make good use of at any time, regardless of what else may or may not drop for me.

Important Spells
Druids have a huge list of spells available to them because of how versatile they are. They’re the only “true” hybrid class in the game right now, meaning they’re the only ones who can fill every role that the game has to offer. Since you have so many skills available to you it’s important to know which ones matter the most.

Values are based on the highest rank up to level 30, completely unmodified by either talents or gear.

General (All Specs)
Mark of the Wild: Increases a friendly target’s armor by 150, all attributes by 6 and all resistances by 5 for 30 minutes.
Thorns: Thorns sprout from the friendly target causing 9 Nature damage to attackers when hit. Lasts 10 minutes.
Entangling Roots: Roots the target in place and causes 90 Nature damage over 18 seconds. Damage caused to the target can break the roots early.
Nature’s Grasp: While active, any time an enemy strikes the caster they have a 100% chance to become afflicted by Entangling Roots (rank 3). Three charges, lasts 45 seconds.
Teleport: Moonglade: Teleports the caster to the Moonglade.

Mark of the Wild (MotW) is your signature buff spell. Have it up at all times and spread it around any groups or battle grounds that you happen to get yourself into. Thorns is another buff you should probably have up on yourself when you’re soloing, and on your tank when you’re in a group (or everyone in a BG). Entangling Roots (ER) is the key to the “Root & Nuke” play style and is your primary source of Crowd Control; just remember that you can only have it cast on one target at a time. Nature’s Grasp is sort of like a Shaman’s Lightning Shield ability, except that instead of dealing damage for each charge it casts Entangling Roots on them. Nature’s Grasp can root 3 individual targets at the same time in addition to a target that you’ve actually cast ER on.

Teleport: Moonglade is how you teleport yourself back to Moonglade for training and most of your class quests. If you’re a Night Elf then lucky for you the flight path from Moonglade back to Darnassus is about a minute long. If you’re a Tauren, then I hope you have something to do during the 12 minutes it’s going to take you to fly from the top of the flipping continent all the way down to Thunder Bluff.

Druid Forms
Bear Form: Shapeshift into bear form, increasing melee attack power by 30, armor contribution from cloth and leather by 180%, and stamina by 25%. Also protects the caster from Polymorph effects. Shapeshifting frees the caster from polymorph and movement impairing effects.
Aquatic Form: Shapeshift into aquatic form, increasing swim speed by 50% and allowing the druid to breathe underwater. Also prevents Polymorph effects.
Travel Form: Shapeshift into travel form, increasing movement speed by 40%. Also protects the caster from Polymorph effects. Shapeshifting frees the caster from polymorph and movement impairing effects.
Cat Form: Shapeshift into cat form, increasing melee attack power by 40 plus Agility. Also protects the caster from Polymorph effects and allows the use of various cat abilities. Shapeshifting frees the caster from polymorph and movement impairing effects.

Bear Form is what you would tank in if you were the tank. But you’re not the tank, you’re a healer or a deeps. Use this if you’re out of mana, below level 20, and something’s kicking your butt. Use it, and then run away with it. Aquatic Form is how you get around in water and how you never worry about drowning again. Travel Form is your mini-mount, allowing you to move 40% faster on land without having to use a mount. Cat Form is your melee DPS form which you’ll use if you’re out of mana, at least level 20, and want to kill things while you’re out of mana.

Restoration Spells
Healing Touch: Heals a friendly target for 490 to 594.
Rejuvenation: [Instant Cast] Heals the target for 305 over 15 seconds.
Regrowth: Heals a friendly target for 318 to 360 and another 343 over 21 seconds.
Revive: Returns the spirit to the body, restoring a dead target to life with 150 health and 260 mana. Cannot be used when in combat.
Cure Poison: Cures 1 poison effect on the target.
Rebirth: Returns the spirit to the body, restoring a dead target to life with 750 health and 1200 mana. Can be used in combat.
Remove Curse: Dispels 1 Curse from a friendly target.
Abolish Poison: Attempts to cure 1 poison effect on the target, and 1 more poison effect ever 3 seconds for 12 seconds.
Tranquility: Heals all nearby group members for 351 every 2 seconds for 8 seconds. Druid must channel to maintain the spell.

Healing Touch is your “big” heal with a fairly big cast time to go with it. Rejuvenation is one of your two primary heals with Regrowth being the other. Both of these are heal-over-time (HoTs) spells and what you’ll be using most often. Revive is your typical resurrection spell similar to what all the other healing classes have, while Rebirth is the game’s only “combat rez”, allowing you to bring someone back while still in combat. Cure Poison is just that, but you’ll mostly likely end up using Abolish Poison for that purpose in the end anyway. Remove Curse is another no brainer. Finally you have one of the largest heals in the game, Tranquility which restores massive amounts of health over time to all nearby party members.

Balance Spells
Wrath: Causes 130 to 148 Nature damage to the target.
Moonfire: Burns the enemy for 61 to 73 Arcane damage and then an additional 124 Arcane damage over 12 seconds.
Starfire: Causes 189 to 231 Arcane damage to the target.

Outside of talent tree spells this is your toolbox as a Boomchicken. Wrath is your primary nuke, Moonfire is your primary DoT (until Insect Swarm), and Starfire is your super nuke used for pulling mobs when solo or for opening a boss fight in a group as your tank closes in.



Leveling as Balance
Root & Nuke Pre-20: Wrath, Entangling Roots, Moonfire, Wrath x2, Entangling Roots, Wrath spam
Root & Nuke Post-20: Starfire, Moonfire, Entangling Roots, Insect Swarm, Starfire, Wrath spam
Level 20+ Rotation: Starfire, Insect Swarm, MoonFire, Wrath spam

Root & Nuke is your safest method of leveling because you’re constantly using crowd control in addition to your DPS to make sure your target doesn’t get close to you. Sadly, you don’t have any AoE spells until you reach level 40 so you are pretty well stuck in a single target role until then unless you want to juggle DoTs and roots on multiple mobs which can get pretty hectic and very draining on your mana.

When using the R&N method you need to remember that damage will break the effect of your roots early. Because of that you want get as much uptime on your roots as you can, without wasting time, before going back to nukes. What I mean by that is that once your ER spell has been cast, or your NG charge has gone off to root the mob in place, cast one or both of your DoT spells on the target and then back away to put distance between you before you start spamming Wrath. The first thing this does is it gives time for the roots’ DoT effect to deal some damage, and second it gives you more safety by keeping you out of harm.

If you don’t want to R&N then your next best option is to just lay right into them. In cases like that start off with Starfire if you have it or Wrath if you don’t, then get at least one of your DoTs up (both if the target has a lot of health), and then spam Wrath after Wrath until the target is dead.

The key to conserving mana as a Balance Druid is letting your DoTs do their job. You’re only wasting mana if you cast Wrath on a mob with 30 hp left when you know your DoTs have over 100 damage left to deal. Be aware of how much damage your DoTs do and make use of them.



Leveling as Resto
Questing Rotation: Wrath, Entangling Roots, Moonfire, Wrath, Wrath, Entangling Roots, Wrath, Wrath
Healing “Rotation”: Regrowth, Rejuvenation, Healing Touch (if necessary)

If you’re leveling as a Resto Druid, meaning that your talent points are spent in the Restoration Tree more than any other, then you’re going to find questing to be a bit harder than if you took one of the other specs. You’re basically a Balance Druid without talent points to increase your efficiency.

Your best bet for leveling as Resto is to get to level 15 using the Balance play style of Root & Nuke that I just talked about to keep mobs away from you while you burn them down with Wrath spam and the occasional Moonfire. Once you get to level 15 forget the whole R&N business and queue yourself up for some dungeon runs (random or specific, doesn’t really matter). Be sure to select the Healer’s role in the LFD tool, and I wouldn’t bother signing up for extra slots unless you’re actually looking to fill them. Your best bet as an off-spec role is going to be DPS. Please don’t queue as a tank if you’re not used to tanking or do not plan on being a tank, or else I may be forced to shoot you.

As far as healing goes you want to keep an eye on the damage that people are taking. If their health is barely moving, but you know they’re getting hit (because it’s the tank, right?…Right?) then you can start off with a Rejuv since it’s instant cast and only heals over time. Regrowth has an initial heal effect in addition to its HoT, so it’s better when you see that there’s actually a gap in their current health versus their total health. If they’re taking a lot of damage then Regrowth, Rejuv, and then Healing Touch to get them back near full health. When incoming damage is low, stick to your HoTs and don’t bother wasting time with HT unless you really need to. If damage is moderate, then make sure both of your HoTs stay up on the target and feel free to pad it with an extra Regrowth if needed. If damage is high then get at least one HoT rolling and then Healing Touch for the big heal.

Your healing rotation isn’t so much a rotation as a priority list, but it also changes based on your glyphs. You can get glyphs that make Rejuv heal more when the target is lower on health, one that makes Regrowth heal more if Rejuv is already on the target, or one that cuts the cast time of HT by 1.5 seconds (huge) though it also cuts the heal in half as well. For now you only have the three heals to keep track of so learn them well and consider your glyphs based on your needs. More details on glyphs down below.



Embracing the Hybrid
Your true strength as a Druid is your versatility in being the only complete and true hybrid class in the game, capable of filling any of the four roles (tank, heals, ranged dps, melee dps) at any given time. If you’re out questing and some extra mobs were pulled so that you’re now out of mana and facing one more mob with full health you could either attack it with your melee weapon, you could run away, or you could drop into either Bear (level 10) or Cat (level 20) form and maul its face off.

The final example there is what embracing your hybrid nature is all about. The best way to do that is to keep a weapon on you that has DPS-related stats on it that you can switch to when you run out of mana and then shift into a melee form and fight with your paws/claws.

The best weapons for you in this case are ones that have +Agility and/or +Strength stats on them, or ones that have proc abilities such as “Chance on hit: Deals 40 Fire damage to the target.” so that you can deal additional damage with the weapon even though your stats and gear help your spell casting instead of your melee abilities. If you don’t have access to weapons like that it’s not really that big of a deal, just use whatever you have instead. Your damage in Bear and Cat form is not based on your weapon, so even a weapon that does 0-1 damage will hit just as hard in those forms as any other.

There are two weapon enchants that are especially useful for doing this, though they aren’t necessarily cheap. The first one is Enchant Weapon – Fiery Weapon which generally costs 25-40g on most servers. It has a chance to deal 40 Fire damage when you attack, procs very frequently, and the damage can crit for 60 or 80 Fire damage as well. When you’re in Bear or Cat form the weapon damage does nothing for you, only stats and proc abilities count for you, so you can put this on any weapon you can equip and get the benefit of the enchant.

The other enchant is Enchant Weapon – Crusader which will cost anywhere from 125-250g, but has a proc ability that gives you +100 Strength for 15 seconds and heals you for 75-125 health, and this proc is also capable of being a critical heal for up to 250 health. This option is more expensive than Fiery, but the heal proc gives you a method of healing that does not require mana, and 100 Strength = 100 Attack Power which means you’re going to hit like a truck for those 15 seconds.

If you don’t have easy access to either the enchants or the mats for the enchants, then I suggest you either get Fiery weapon or ignore enchants all together and just use whatever weapon you already have. The enchants are not in any way critical, they just help when/if the time comes. Since my main character is almost always an Enchanter I keep at least one of every non-polearm weapon in an alt’s bank that has the Fiery enchant on it and can be used low level characters, so I always have something on hand for low level toons.

Resto Spec and Glyphs



Improved Mark of the Wild 2/2: Increases the effects of your Mark/Gift of the Wild spells by 40%, and increases all of your total attributes by 2%.
Nature’s Focus 3/3: Reduces the pushback suffered from damaging attacks while casting Healing Touch, Wrath, Entangling Roots, Cyclone, Nourish, Regrowth and Tranquility by 70%.
Subtlety 3/3: Reduces the threat generated by your restoration spells by 30% and reduces the chance your helpful spells, Moonfire, and Insect Swarm will be dispelled by 30%.
Naturalist 2/5: Reduces the cast time of your Healing Touch spell by 0.2 seconds and increases the damage you deal with physical attacks in all forms by 4%.
Omen of Clarity 1/1: Each of the Druid’s damage, healing spells and auto attacks has a chance of causing the caster to enter a Clearcasting state. The Clearcasting state reduces the Mana, Rage or Energy cost of your next damage, healing spell or offensive ability by 100%.
Intensity 3/3: Allows 50% of your Mana regeneration to continue while casting and causes your Enrage ability to instantly generate 10 rage.
Naturalist +1 (3/5): Reduces the cast time of your Healing Touch spell by 0.3 seconds and increases the damage you deal with physical attacks in all forms by 6%.
Tranquil Spirit 5/5: Reduces the mana cost of your healing Touch, Nourish and Tranquility spells by 10%.
Nature’s Swiftness 1/1: [Instant cast, 3 minute cooldown] When activated, your next Nature spell with a base casting time less than 10 seconds becomes an instant cast spell.

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 Rebirth: Players resurrected by Rebirth are returned to life with 100% health.
  • Glyph of Healing Touch: Decreases the cast time of your Healing Touch by 1.5 seconds, the mana cost by 25%, and the amount healed by 50%.
  • Glyph of Rejuvenation: While your Rejuvenation targets are below 50% health, you will heal them for an additional 50% health.

I list these in order that I prefer them while leveling. Regrowth is my go-to heal in most cases while leveling as Healing Touch is usually too big of a heal with too big of a cast time, and this glyph makes up for any difference there might be. Rebirth is useful, especially with so many tanks these days not actually using tanking specs. That usually leads to either the tank himself dying or a lack of threat generation which leads to other people dying instead.

Healing Touch is a decent spell, and this glyph significantly cuts down the cast time and cuts the mana cost by a fair amount as well. I’m not a huge fan of having the healing cut in half though. I don’t often find myself in enough of a bind that I need a super-fast heal for a somewhat mediocre amount. Rejuvenation is one I’ve messed with several times and just never grew to like.

Minor

I’m a big fan of not having to waste bag space with stupid reagents, and the Druid is the freaking king of stupid reagents as not only do they have several spells that need them, but they also need new reagents for each individual rank of the spells too. For that reason, I like to have Unburdened Rebirth as my first minor glyph for Resto. I’m also a huge fan of being able to move quickly, so Aquatic Form is always in my list of Druid glyphs somewhere.

Playing as Resto
Resto is not the most entertaining spec for me. It is the most enjoyable spec for me, but it’s also quite boring at times. If you’re running through a random dungeon and your tank is in heirloom gear and taking almost no damage at all than you’re literally going to slap a HoT or two on him and then do nothing for the rest of the fight from a healing perspective. Because of this I’ll often drop into a mediocre DPS role sometimes that happens by using Moonfire on fleeing mobs who are low on health, and sometimes it by dropping into Bear form and offering some horribly low AoE damage with Swipe spam, or after 20 it may be kitty claws just because. If you want to save mana then use your Feral forms, otherwise either use Balance spells or just stay out of combat like a good little healer.

At the same time, during low levels in particular, you’ll also find groups where everyone ignores their designated roles and just go crazy killing things. In terms of end game play this is absolutely stupid, but for low level it’s pretty well the norm these days. That doesn’t make it alright or acceptable, it’s just the way things often turn out (looking at you in particular, Hunters). In times like those you’ll often find that you’re healing everyone in your group, including yourself. Inevitably someone will pull something but nobody will bother tanking it so your heals make you the target. Remember your Roots when things like this happen.

Balance Spec and Glyphs



Starlight Wrath 5/5: Reduces the cast time of your Wrath and Starfire spells by 0.5 seconds.
Moonglow 3/3: Reduces the Mana cost of your Moonfire, Starfire, Starfall, Wrath, healing Touch, Nourish, Regrowth, and Rejuvenation spells by 9%.
Nature’s Majesty 2/2: Increases the critical strike chance of your Wrath, Starfire, Starfall, Nourish, and Healing Touch spells by 4%.
Nature’s Reach 2/2: Increases the range of your Balance spells and Faerie Fire (Feral) ability by 20%, and reduces the threat generated by your Balance spells by 30%.
Nature’s Grace 3/3: All non-periodic spell criticals have a 100% chance to grace you with a blessing of nature, increases your spell casting speed by 20% for 3 seconds.
Celestial Focus 3/3: Reduces the pushback suffered from damaging attacks while casting Starfire, Hibernate and Hurricane by 70% and increases your total spell haste by 3%.
Vengeance 2/5: Increases the critical strike damage bonus of your Starfire, Starfall, Moonfire, and Wrath spells by 40%.
Insect Swarm 1/1: [Instant cast] The enemy target is swarmed by insects, decreasing their chance to hit with melee and ranged attacks by 3% and causing Nature damage over 12 seconds.

Balance Glyphs

Major

  • Glyph of Wrath: Reduces the pushback suffered from damaging attacks while casting your Wrath spell by 50%.
  • Glyph of Insect Swarm: Increases the damage of your Insect Swarm ability by 30%, but it no longer affects your victim’s chance to hit.
  • Glyph of Moonfire: Increases the periodic damage of your Moonfire ability by 75%, but initial damage is decreased by 90%.
  • Glyph of Starfire: Your Starfire ability increases the duration of your Moonfire effect on the target by 3 seconds, up to a maximum of 9 additional seconds.
  • Glyph of Entangling Roots: Increases the damage your Entangling Roots victims can take before ER automatically breaks by 20%.

Nothing sucks for a caster more than pushback (except for Silence, of course) so I like to nip that straight away with Wrath since Wrath is our primary nuke. At level 30 we get Insect Swarm and as I mentioned up above one of the keys to our DPS as Balance is maximizing our DoT effects. We’re not worried so much about getting hit as we are killing things, and 30% is a pretty big boost to our damage.

If you’re a huge fan of using the Root & Nuke method then you might want to consider Entangling Roots for one of your glyphs. I’ve never been a fan of this type of glyph myself, even for a Frost Mage with my obsessive AoE grinding; it just doesn’t appeal to me. However, it will help if your a R&N fiend. Moonfire and Starfire work really well also, especially if you pair the two of them up. I don’t take these two myself because I like to take advantage of the burst damage from Moonfire as a finisher and as an instant cast mini-nuke. However, 75% is big boost to DoT damage and using Starfire to increase its uptime can add up a lot over time. The problem is, not a lot of mobs are going to last long enough through a Moonfire/Starfire barrage for the extra time to count for anything.

Minor

We have the same situation here as we did above in the Resto section. The only difference is that I don’t find myself casting Rebirth quite so often when I’m playing DPS as I usually focus instead on killing whatever’s around us. So I start off with Aquatic Form when playing balance and then add Unburdened Rebirth when the next slot opens up at 50.

Playing as Balance
Balance is an evolving spec. When you first start out you’re mostly a Wrath-spamming nuker. As you go along you add Moonfire into the mix for some DoT damage, then you bring in Starfire for heavy nuking, and then Insect Swarm for more DoT damage. The key to playing it successfully is knowing your spells’ potential, most important in that area are your DoT spells.

If a mob has 150 HP left and you know that your DoTs can do that much, then you don’t need bother with a Wrath. Similarly, if you know your DoTs aren’t going to be enough to bring them down then you know you need another spell; Wrath or maybe just another Moonfire. Also remember that Entangling Roots has a DoT effect to it as well. It’s not a big one, but it’s there. It’s not a bad idea to Moonfire > Roots > Swarm, and then just walk away and let the mob die while you start killing his buddy. Just don’t forget to loot them all when it’s over if you go with that route.



Gearing Your Druid
During this stretch of levels your gear selection is going to be a bit different than it will as you get higher in level. Since both of the specs we’re talking about here are caster specs then some general rules apply regardless of level, such as Spell Power being important. As you’re leveling though, you need to find a good balance between Spell Power and Intellect to reduce your downtime.

Intellect >= Spell Power > Spirit

As Resto you’ll want to put a slightly higher priority on Intellect while not ignoring Spell Power. You need your spells to restore a solid amount of health, but you also need to be able to heal through an entire fight. If you’re running out of mana a lot then you could probably use more Int to fuel more heals, but by the same token if your heals are stronger because of your SP then you wouldn’t have to cast as many of them so your mana would be fine. It’s a bit of a balancing act between the two, so just use your best judgement.

Resto wants more mana so that they can heal for longer periods of time. Boomkins want more SP so that they can kill faster. What you’ll find in actually playing though, is that Resto tends to stay high on their mana because their HoTs make them cast fewer heals overall, and Boomkins run out of mana all the time so even though they save time in combat they more than make up for it in drinking.

Personally I say you rank Intellect higher on the priority list, but pick up Spell Power whenever you can. If you have a choice between an item with +10 Int and one with +6 Int, +4 SP then grab the second one. However, if I had a choice between one with +10 Int and one with +10 SP, them I’m most likely going to go for the Int item if I’m Resto and the SP item if I’m Balance.

Enchants
The enchants that you want to look at for this level should be ones that can increase either your Intellect or your Spell Power. If you don’t have heirloom items then either skip enchanting while you level or go with cheap enchants.

Enchanting on the Cheap
Enchant 2H Weapon – Lesser Intellect: Permanently enchant a two-handed melee weapon to increase Intellect by 3.
Enchant Chest – Greater Mana: Permanently enchant a piece of chest armor to give +50 mana.
Enchant Bracer – Greater Intellect: Permanently enchant bracers to increase Intellect by 7.
Enchant 2H Weapon – Major Intellect: Permanently enchant a two-handed melee weapon to increase Intellect by 9.
Enchant Chest – Major Mana: Permanently enchant a piece of chest armor to increase mana by 100.

There aren’t any “cheap” options for permanent Spell Power enchants, but one option that you have open to you if you aren’t using an Heirloom weapon is Wizard Oil. Minor Wizard Oil requires you to be at least level 5 but gives +8 SP for 1 hour, and Lesser Wizard Oil requires level 30 but gives +16 SP for 1 hour.

Heirloom Enchants
Enchant Weapon – Spellpower: Permanently enchant a melee weapon to increase spell power by 30.
Enchant Weapon – Healing Power: Permanently enchant a melee weapon to increase spell power by 29.
Enchant Weapon – Mighty Intellect: Permanently enchant a melee weapon to increase Intellect by 22.
Enchant Chest – Major Mana: Permanently enchant a piece of chest armor to increase mana by 100.

While you could put a +4 Stats enchant on your chest, I’m going to suggest +100 mana instead, regardless of spec. If you would rather get the stats enchant, then by all means go right ahead and do it. As for the weapon enchant, you now have the option of Spell Power or Intellect. I’m currently running with the +22 Int enchant on my weapon which is an extra 330 Mana. I used to have the +30 SP enchant on it which worked just fine, but I find the extra mana to be especially useful in lower levels so I’m sticking with +Int for mine. Again, the choice is yours.

 
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Posted by on May 13, 2010 in Caster, Class, Druid, Guide, Leveling

 

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Druid Leveling: 1-20 (Balance)

[Update: One thing that I didn't mention in this guide is that even though you can train Aquatic Form from your trainer now instead of having to do the quest for it, I STRONGLY suggest that you do the quest anyway. You receive the Aquarius Belt for completing the quest which has some excellent stats on it.

The best part about the belt though is that it has a Use effect that heals you instantly, and only has a 5 minute cooldown. That means you aren't having to waste mana on heals as often, and since it does not break your druid forms you can heal while running around in a Feral Spec without having to drop out and then back into form.

I will add more detail on this in the next post, but for now I am updating this one to include this information at the top so that new or repeat viewers do not miss out on this excellent quest reward.]

Leveling a druid can be a hard thing for a lot of people to do. The leveling gets easier when you hit 20, but getting through those teens is where most people delete their character instead of pushing through it.

Similar to the priest, this is the third time I have tried to level a druid. The first one was deleted at level 12, the second I got up to level 24 and though I did not delete the character I never bothered playing it again either. The mistake that most people make, myself included until now, when leveling their druid through their teens is switching over to Bear Form at level 10. To be as honest as I can here, Bear Form sucks. It does get better, but when you get it it sucks. You will have much more success sticking to spell casting than you will being a bear during your teens.

Important Spells
If you’re just getting started with a druid, take note of these icons and remember them. These are the primary spells that are going to get you to level 20. There are three others worth mentioning as well, but these are the icons to remember.

The two on top are your buff spells (Mark of the Wild, Thorns), the two in the middle are your damage spells (Wrath, Moonfire), and the two on the bottom are your utility spells (Rejuvenation, Entangling Roots). I will be discussing these spells in depth down below. These aren’t the only spells you will use, as you do/will have two more healing spells as well as a resurrection spell, and another buff/utility spell (Nature’s Grasp, mentioned below). But those six spells are most of what you will be casting.

Leveling 1-6: Starting Zone

Rotation Option 1: Wrath, Wrath, Attack/Wrath
Rotation Option 2: Wrath, Moonfire, Wrath/Attack
Explanation: At this level Moonfire is a huge mana-sink and most mobs will be dead long before its full damage can take place. I suggest you save your mana and your time and stick with option 1. If you do cast Moonfire, then make sure you cast it either to pull or immediately after you pull to get the most out of its use.

As with all classes that I level, I prefer to go and grind mobs as soon as I log in with the character until I reach level 2. I don’t accept quests or do anything else, I just go kill things until I gain a level. There are a couple of reasons why I do this. First, the trash that drops from those first 8-10 mobs that you need to kill to reach level 2 will sell for enough to pay for your first ability and give you some spare copper as well. All characters have a spell that they can train at level 1, they just don’t start with the cash to do it with. Second, this helps you to reach level 6 by the time you finish your starting zone to help maximize your experience gained from turning in quests.

During your first six levels there are not a whole lot of options open to you. You start out with only Wrath and your Auto-Attack for damage, and that’s pretty much what you will be using for most of your leveling. You do get Moonfire at level 1 if you can pay for the training, but it’s high mana cost is significantly higher than Wrath so try to focus on Wrath so that you can minimize your downtime.

You also start off with one of your buff spells, Mark of the Wild. The main reason I prefer to use it is because of the bonus it gives to your stats. The armor bonus doesn’t matter much to me, but I do enjoy more health/mana.

Most mobs will die with just a couple of Wrath casts plus an attack or two. Some mobs might take three Wraths to take down instead, and that’s fine too. In early levels I tend to rotate between killing a mob with Wrath x3, then killing another 1-2 mobs by doing Wrath x2 followed by attacks, and then repeating that cycle. Since the chances of you dying in your starting area are fairly small, I use my health as another resource while leveling. I don’t mind letting something beat on me for a few seconds for the sake of conserving mana for the next fight. When both my health and my mana are low, that’s when I sit down to eat and drink.

When you get to the quests in your starting zone that has you facing mobs that are hostile (Red bars instead of Yellow), then you can go ahead and add Moonfire into your rotation if you’d like. Personally, I try to only use it in my starting zones when a mob with low health runs away from me or when I know that killing that mob is going to give me a level. Because Moonfire is an instant cast that does deal some damage right away, I do use it when my health gets dangerously low and I need to finish the mob off quickly. That way I don’t have to die, and the mob goes down faster so I can eat/drink sooner.

At level 4 you receive your first Heal over Time (HoT) spell, Rejuvenation. This is my preferred method of keeping my health up while leveling. A lot of people suggest casting it on yourself right before you start combat, I personally just use it whenever I feel a need to do so. Since casting spells is going to be your fastest method of killing mobs right now I would at least wait to cast it until after a mob has already started to attack you in melee. Generally, I cast it after I kill my current target or on my way to my next target. If I start to drop below 50% health while fighting mobs I will cast it then as well, but that doesn’t happen very often in the starting area.

Leveling 6-12: Surrounding Map

Rotation Option 1: Wrath, Entangling Roots, Wrath, Attack/Wrath
Rotation Option 2: Wrath, Moonfire, Entangling Roots, Wrath/Attack
Explanation: You don’t get Entangling Roots until level 8, but when you do you start to get a lot more control over combat.

At level 6 you get your second buff spell, Thorns. This spell is going to deal damage to every mob that attacks you. It’s basically free damage for the price of getting beat up. And since you’re going to get beat on anyway, you might as well get paid for it with the blood of your enemies. Thorns only lasts for 10 minutes, and I honestly forget to refresh the thing all the time. It’s damage isn’t great, but every little bit helps.

Until level 8 you will play just like you did from levels 1-6, sticking to Wrath as your primary source of damage.

At level 8 you get one of your key spells, Entangling Roots. It’s both an offensive spell and a defensive spell all wrapped up into one. The damage it deals isn’t significant, but it is there as a nice little added bonus. The reason for using this spell though is that it snares the target and prevents them from moving. So you can pull the target with Wrath, snare them with ER, and then Wrath them 1-2 more times to finish them off.

I still hold back on casting Moonfire at this stage because of its mana cost, but if you do decide that you enjoy using it, try to cast it before Entangling Roots. ER breaks after its duration has expired, or after the target has taken a certain amount of damage. Since Moonfire does damage when it hits, it’s better for that initial damage to happen before ER rather than after so that your roots don’t break early.

At level 10 you get one of those spells I mentioned up at the top that I did not include in the picture. The spell is called Nature’s Grasp, and what it does is it casts Entangling Roots for you on the first mob that hits you after you’ve cast it. The spell lasts for 45 seconds and has a 1 minute cooldown on it. The best thing about the spell though is that it has no mana cost. It’s great for use as crowd control in case a hostile mob comes up behind you while you’re fighting another one, or even as just a part of your regular fighting methods. Cast this, Wrath the target twice, and when they hit you they’re stuck. Then you just run away a few steps and turn around to throw another Wrath in their face. It’s an excellent spell, and I use it frequently.

Nature’s Grasp is also a great tool to use when facing fast-moving mobs, like Raptors, who can close into melee range faster than you can get off your second Wrath. Those are the mobs that I usually use Moonfire against as well to help me take them out sooner.

Leveling 12-20: Secondary Zone

Rotation Option 1: Wrath, Moonfire, Entangling Roots, Wrath, Wrath, Attack
Rotation Option 2: Nature’s Grasp, Wrath, Moonfire, Wrath, Entangling Roots, Wrath
Explanation: By now you should have a good enough mana pool that you can throw Moonfire into the mix. Entangling Roots should be part of your rotation now to save yourself from spending mana on healing spells as much, and saves you from having to look for Stamina on your gear as much.

Since I prefer playing Horde, the Barrens is the location of choice for leveling during your teens. Now, most of my toons I prefer to level up elsewhere, but some of your druid quests actually require you to be in the Barrens to do them, so I’d rather just stick to one place.

Barrens is an excellent zone for professions such as Skinning and Herbalism, and it’s pretty decent for leveling your Mining as well. The main reason to level here though, other than the druid quests, is that there are so many quests in the zone and they are all pretty well bundled up in the same areas so that you can easily do several of them at once.

You don’t really get any new spells in these levels to help you go any faster, but you do get more mana which allows you to be a bit more controlling in how combat plays out. Start off with Wrath, hit them with Moonfire, and then Entangling Roots to keep them in place. Entangling Roots will deal damage to them while it holds and Moonfire will continue to tick away their health as well. If the mob has closed in enough to hit you with melee attacks, then back up right after you root them, otherwise I suggest you just stay where you are and throw another Wrath at them. If they still have a lot of hit points left, then continue Wraths until they drop into melee range and then pummel them to finish them off.

If you have plenty of mana to spare and don’t mind a little extra downtime, then you can also go with a full Root ‘n Nuke style of switching between damaging spells and snares. I would suggest using Nature’s Grasp first since it does not have a mana cost, and then pulling with Wrath. As soon as Wrath is cast follow it up with a Moonfire. You have two options at that point, you can either run directly into the mob to get them to attack and trigger your Nature’s Grasp, or you can stay where you are and let them come to you while you nuke them with another Wrath. I generally run to the mob to get NG to proc and keep on running “through” the mob and turning around on the other side to hit them with another Wrath. Once they are snared follow with another Wrath and then cast Entangling Roots on them to root them again. Go back to either casting more Wrath nukes, refreshing your Moonfire, or just letting the damage ticks from ER and Moonfire kill them off for you.

When doing Root ‘n Nuke you have to judge for yourself how many times you need to root and how many times you need to nuke. The only time I have ever needed to root more than twice was when one of them missed. Most of the time I don’t actually need to root a second time and instead will just nuke them again to bring them down. Very few mobs here should take more than 3 Wrath spells and a Moonfire to bring them down, and what extra damage does need to be dealt can usually be covered pretty easy with regular attacks.

Another method of using the Root ‘n Nuke is to just switch off between Wrath and Entangling Roots. You can generally get off two Wrath’s per ER unless you happen to Crit with one. If you use this method then pull the mob using Entangling Roots itself, follow it with a Wrath or two, then reapply ER. Repeat as needed until the mobs are dead. You can throw in a Moonfire to increase the damage they take over time which will allow you to conserve mana a bit by not having to cast Wrath so often.

Play around with the Rooting and Damaging spells that you have until you find a rotation that works for you.

Another bonus to leveling in this area is that it is going to be easier for you to find groups going into Wailing Caverns. The Embrace of the Viper set, frequently referred to as the “Fang” set, is found in WC and it is excellent for getting you geared up and ready to switch over to Cat Form dps at level 20.

With a combination of questing and running through the WC instance, you should easily be able to hit level 20 in the Barrens. My druid is actually sitting at level 25 right now and he still has almost 20 quests that he can do in the zone. I’m not going to keep him there that long, but I mention it to give you an idea of how much experience there is to gain here.

Macro Suggestion
There is really only one Macro that I find helpful at this early level with the Druid, and it’s a very simple one.

#showtooltip Wrath
/startattack
/cast Wrath

It’s a very simple macro, but I use a variation of it on almost every class. This macro makes your character start attacking the target with it’s melee weapon, and then casts Wrath on the target.

This macro does two things:

  • First, if you have no target selected then it will select the nearest target in front of you (assuming they are within 40 yards or so) and have your character attack them with your weapon. If you’re not within range to actually hit them with your weapon then your character still stands ready to attack if they do end up closing in to melee range (which they will).
  • Second, this macro causes your character to cast Wrath on your target (if possible).

So the main reason to use this macro is really to save yourself the hassle of targeting a mob and then casting a spell. Instead it combines it into a single button. The side benefit of using this though is that since you are playing as a ranged caster, and your roots are going to occasionally break or miss in the first place, you will end up in melee at times. Since the /startattack line is in the macro you will start to hit the mob with your melee weapon as soon as they are in range without having to press any other buttons or take any other actions.

So it serves as a bit of a time saver, and provides a bit of convenience as well.

Talent Points and Glyphs: Level 10-19

You have a little wiggle room in the talent trees, so you can go with anything you feel comfortable with. I chose to go with the build below and I had no trouble at all while I was leveling or while I was running instances as both dps and heals.

I suggest spending these points from top to bottom, left to right.

tree_druid_balance19

Glyphs
Glyph of Wrath is really the only major glyph that I see you getting a whole lot of use out of while casting your way through your teens. If you really feel like being a bear then you can go with a different glyph, but I strongly suggest that you stay away from bear and it’s associated glyphs for now.

Glyph of Thorns is going to increase the duration of the spell by 50 minutes, so that it lasts for a full hour instead of just 10 minutes. This is really only a glyph of convenience, but it does help with your damage while things are attacking you so I include it in the guide here.

Personally, I don’t really care about Thorns at this level, I care more about moving around the world quickly. I do that with a druid by using the Glyph of Aquatic Form instead. You get Aquatic Form at level 16 which allows you to breath underwater and also increases your swimming speed by 50%. Normal Swim Speed is 66% of your regular running speed, and Aquatic Form by itself increases that number by 50%, so it becomes 99% by calculation though addons that monitor speed show it to be 100%. The Glyph increases your speed by another 50% (of the base 66%) which would put you at 132% speed, but again those addons actually show you to be at 135% speed in water. So you actually move faster in Aquatic Form than you do when you’re running on land.

So which minor glyph you choose is up to you. Thorns will help you in combat more, but Aquatic Form will help you in transportation more. I personally like to move fast so I go with AF instead of Thorns.

Gearing Up for Spellcasting

When you are looking for gear to help while you’re casting your spells, you want to focus heavily on Spell Power (SP). There is a lot of SP to be found in Tailoring gear, so if you have access to a tailor then you might want to hit them up for some SP gear. It’s also nice to increase your mana pool by getting gear with Intelligence on it, and it never hurts to have a nice health pool from Stamina gear either. At this level I would go for Spell Power above all else, followed by Intelligence, and then whatever you happen to find for the rest. Since Wrath deals Nature Damage, you might want to look for a weapon that adds decent Nature Damage since finding a straight +SP weapon might be hard. Preferably a one-handed weapon such as a mace or dagger, since one of your druid quests in the Barrens is going to reward you with an off-hand item that gives you a very nice mana regeneration.

Level 20: Time for a Respec

When you reach level 20, it’s time to drop that precious gold coin you’ve been working towards for so long and switch over to a feral spec. There are a lot of different ways you can spec, and you can find quite a variety of advice across different forums and blogs. Feel free to look at other suggestions from other sites, but this is the build that I suggest switching to at level 20.

tree_druid_feral20

Gearing Up for Feral

The primary stat you should be looking for as Cat DPS is Agility. You do get more Attack Power (AP) from Strength than you do Agility, but Agility is also going to provide you with Crit and help with your Avoidance as well. Stack Agility above all else. Anything that increases your Hit Rating is also going to be good for you since missing is going to make you suck. Strength will help you deal more damage, Stamina gives you more hit points which is nice since you will now be in melee constantly, and so on.

Having a Leatherworker is going to give you the most benefit in the land of Agility stacking, so I suggest heading there for your starting gear. Most of the Fang armor will be better for you than what a Leatherworker can make for your level, but it’s not always easy to get your hands on the full set since the gloves are the only piece that does not bind when you pick it up. My Shaman picked up the entire set with only two runs through WC, but my Druid has been through WC five times now and only has two pieces, one of which are the gloves.

If you look at the Glyphs included in the Feral spec above, you will see that I left Glyph of Thorns as the minor glyph and replaced Glyph of Wrath with Glyph of Rip. You aren’t going to be using Wrath anymore since you now claw everyone’s face off, but Thorns will become more useful with how much time you spend in melee. Glyph of Rip is going to extend the duration of your Rip which is your primary Finishing Move when you start out as a Cat.

Again, I personally stick with Glyph of Aquatic Form as my minor glyph regardless of how much Thorns can help. The only benefit you get from Glyph of Thorns is extra time on it, but since you aren’t using your mana for anything else besides an occasional heal it’s not a big deal to just recast it as needed. Extra movement speed is always a good thing though, so I like making my flippers move faster. Once again the choice is yours, either having Thorns up more consistently to help with damage, or move faster when swimming.

 
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Posted by on July 10, 2009 in Druid, Guide, Leveling

 

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