Druid Leveling: 1-20 (Balance)

10 Jul

[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
/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.


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.


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.


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



3 responses to “Druid Leveling: 1-20 (Balance)

  1. lordkaladar

    July 15, 2009 at 10:54 AM

    My only question with the AF glyph is “how often you encounter water?”. Sure, The Barrens have the 3 oasis, that one big puddle in WC, and the coast near Ratchet, but when do any quests or travel take you through them?

    Even more hateful will be 3.2 giving mounts at 20 :P

    • Psynister

      July 15, 2009 at 11:13 AM

      Encountering water happens quite a bit. Barrens also has the river running between it and Durotar, it has the coast line that leads from Ratchet all the way down the rest of the zones in the continent, etc. I find it useful in most of the zones in the game, actually. The zones that are land-locked aren’t going to help you out a whole lot, but a lot of the zones you’re in have water either along their coast or running through the middle of them.

      Getting mounts at 20 in 3.2 isn’t going to be the big change that kills us, it will be the Travel Form at level 16 that does us in. Swim at 135% speed, or use Travel Form for 140% speed? Once 3.2 gets here I would suggest dropping the AF glyph for leveling. It’s still good if you enjoy battlegrounds such as AB, but for the most part I don’t see a lot of reason to bother with it after 3.2.


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