Monthly Archives: May 2011

Druid Leveling 4.1 — 20-30

Hopefully by now you’ve gotten into some sort of groove with your druid. You know your role and you know how to behave in a group. The next ten levels will go by just as fast, with just as much stuff being thrown at you. Ferals especially will see a barrage of new skills they will have to learn to use. Your ability to perform two roles with one spec is dwindling. At this point you should be queuing only for the role you spec’d to play, though you are still capable of filling another role in a tight spot (like, say, if the healer drops group during a pull, you can still toss up heals and be quite effective). This is about the point, I find, where people begin to notice if you aren’t the proper spec, and may say something. If you’re questing to level, then it’s of no concern to you, but be cautious when queuing for a role you are not spec’d to fulfill.

Without further ado, let’s look at the next ten levels.

Level 21:

Nothing new here. Even if you are focusing on questing, I recommend grabbing the level 20 druid quest from a trainer and popping into Shadowfang Keep for an awesome staff.

Level 22:

Feral druids get bombarded with three new abilities this level: Enrage, Ravage, and Skull Bash. Enrage will solve you rage woes in bear form. Hit it before you pull to load up on rage, because if you haven’t figured out by now, rage = threat. Ravage is a kitty ability that packs a punch, providing you are both stealthed and behind your target. There was no reason to be attacking a target from stealth before Ravage, and for the sake of efficiency I will argue that there still isn’t. It’s faster just to run up unstealthed and start Mangling than to creep up and open with Ravage, but if you know you need the element of surprise to kill something (say an elite or a difficult quest mob) then Ravage is worth the time. Lastly, we have Skull Bash, which has both a cat and a bear counterpart. Skull Bash is your basic interrupt, which will stop any spell from being cast and prevent spellcasting for a few seconds. Interrupting a mob’s heal is always a good thing.

Level 23:

Nothing new or interesting here.

Level 24:

Faerie Fire is used in both feral forms as well as in caster forms. While you won’t have the time or the need to apply it while solo questing or killing trash in dungeons, it’s a good idea to toss it on bosses or elite mobs for the extra debuff. Because Faerie Fire also deals damage and threat while in bear form, you will be using it to pull mobs now if/when you tank. You can stack it up to three times.

Remove Corruption is a healer’s dream, since it means you spend less mana healing a player who is taking damage from a curse or magic debuff. As healer you should be using Remove Corruption whenever someone gets cursed. It’s a good habit to get into for the later levels, where not removing a curse can wipe the entire group or raid. Later on you will find a resto talent that adds magic to the mix, and you will need to be on the lookout for both things to cleanse from your allies. Balance druids should also be looking to cleanse their groupmates, especially if a resto druid is not present (or is out of mana). Ferals should cleanse only when it is of life-or-death importance (for example, the curse applied during the Godfrey encounter in Shadowfang Keep) because Remove Corruption knocks them out of cat/bear form…as a general rule, a bear tank should never pop out of bear form for any reason.

Tiger’s Fury is a kitty’s best friend. Use it every time it is off cooldown for maximum effect, especially on bosses. Later talents will improve upon this ability, making it an instant “generate energy” button.

Level 25:

You’ve finally unlocked your first glyph slots, so let’s take a brief moment and talk about glyphs for the leveling druid.

First, it’s important to understand that leveling glyphs are not the same as end-game glyphs. Leveling glyphs focus more on survivability and utility, whereas end-game glyphs focus more on pure DPS output or healing or what have you. Sometimes they are one in the same. Sometimes not. The glyphs you choose now will probably be replaced by the time you hit max level. Don’t fret about choosing the “wrong” glyph. Furthermore, glyphs are not essential right now. If you cannot afford them off the AH (my server is currently selling them at about 60g on average per glyph, which I will guess is out of the range of affordability for most leveling druids), don’t worry. If you do decide to spring for a glyph or harass a friend into making some for you, here are my recommendations:

Minor: Glyph of Unburdened Rebirth by far outweighs anything else at level 25. It means you will always have the ability to battle rez, no “oops I forgot reagents” moments ever again.

Major: Glyph of Maul for the tanking druid is a must-have. It allows your Maul ability to hit one extra target, which is huge in terms of keeping mobs glued to you. Glyph of Rake for kitties prevents mobs from fleeing if you have Rake on them. Useful for preventing a mob from running to gather its friends while questing or instancing. Pickings are slim for casters at this level, but if you want to wait until level 28 then Glyph of Innervate is probably your best bet. Though, personally, I don’t start having to use innervate until later levels anyway.

Prime: Glyph of Insect Swarm and Glyph of Wrath are both excellent for a balance druid. Glyph of Moonfire is also good. Glyph of Swiftmend is a must-have for healers, no exceptions. Glyph of Mangle is the only glyph for ferals at this level, so luckily it’s a good one.

Level 26:

Cower is um…it’s…well, it’s Cower. It’s mostly useless. Kitties who pull threat from an under-performing tank (or kitties who refuse to attack the tank’s target) will find use for Cower. Otherwise, leave it to collect dust in your spellbook. Your action bar’s real estate is too valuable to waste.

Feline Grace is a passive ability that basically means you can launch yourself off higher buildings than anyone else. Have fun.

Dash is a fun little ability that sees the most use when running away from a bad situation.

Level 27:

Nothing new here.

Level 28:

Innervate is a spell that allows you to regenrate a chunk of your mana over a short period of time. If you find yourself in a tight spot with no mana, Innervate yourself. If you’re in a group and the healer runs out of mana during a boss fight, Innervate them. Glyph of Innervate makes this second scenario much more palatable, as the glyph means 50% of the spell’s effect will also be cast upon you.

Soothe is a very situational spell, and likely won’t see much use on your action bars. If a mob or boss enrages, Soothe can usually be used to remove the enrage effect. Very useful for boss fights at higher levels.

Challenging Roar is another “oh shit” button that enables a bear tank to taunt all enemies nearby at once. Good for those moments where all hell breaks loose and you need to get aggro on a ton of things in a split second before they munch on your healer. The three minute cooldown means you don’t have to be too picky about when you use it, either.

Level 29:

At 29 you’ll get the chance to purchase your first “major” spell from your talent trees. Balance druids will finally get their moonkin form, feral druids will get the option to purchase Charge, and resto druids…well, resto druids don’t have anything quite that awesome just yet. While balance and feral druids have a very clear choice for their 11th talent point, resto druids have a couple. Living Seed is okay, but I find myself using rejuvenation 80% of the time to heal my tanks, as they rarely require large bursts of healing such as those that will trigger the seed. Nature’s Swiftness is also okay, though again I rarely find myself in a position where I need to do massive healing, at least not at this level. Fury of Stormrage is gross, don’t touch it. That leaves Revitalize, the main component of which is useless because you dont have Lifebloom just yet. It does, however, offer mana regeneration when you heal with rejuvenation, so if you find yourself constantly low on mana, you might consider this one. Again, nothing too outstanding for a resto druid yet.

Level 30:

You finally get Mark of the Wild. Finally. I cannot fathom the reasons behind giving druids this buff this late in the leveling game, but for whatever reason, you’re getting it now. You will want to keep this buff up on yourself and/or your party at all times. If someone dies, rebuff. If you all die, rebuff. If it runs out (it has a 1 hour duration), rebuff.See the pattern?

You also gain access to dual spec, perhaps the best feature introduced into the game in a long time. It costs 10 gold to activate, and can be purchased from your class trainer. Dual spec allows you to have two completely separate specs at once, and switch between them at your leisure. Both specs have their own action bars and their own set of glyphs. Switching specs will remove any buffs you have on your party, and will also wipe all of your mana, so pick a wise time to switch. It can also not be done in combat.

If you’re leveling as balance, consider going resto (or vice versa). Both resto and balance uses the same gear pretty much until level 85, so you won’t need to gather two different sets. If you want to toss a feral spec into the mix, you will need to gather an agility/stamina set of gear.

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The next ten levels will likely take me a short while to write. If you haven’t already guessed it, I’m writing these as I level a new druid, level by level, bit by bit. It’s the best way for me to give accurate information, but it also means that as I get to higher levels, the guides will come more slowly. Rest assured I’ll be filling in the gaps with other helpful tidbits and ramblings and whatnot.

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A Title Goes Here!

We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming to bring you a brief Q&A section specifically for the leveling druid audience.

The level 20 to 30 guide should be posted no later than tomorrow (now that I say that, something catastrophic will happen and it will be delayed) but I wanted to take a minute or two and fire off some FAQ-style questions to clear the air about some issues I couldn’t quite poke into my guides. Shall we?

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1. What spec is best for leveling?! I WANT A STRAIGHT ANSWER.

NO.

Well, fine. Fine. It seems the majority of players cannot stand the “they’re all good just play what you like” answer, so I’ll narrow this down the best I can. For the first few levels, Feral seems to pull ahead. Most mobs die after two Mangles and if they don’t then one more smack of the paw finishes them off. You kill things so fast they don’t have time to deal any damage to you, and if you pull more than you can handle, you can switch into bear form for added survivability. So, for the first…oh, twenty or so levels (that is, from level 10 when you choose a spec until about level 30) Feral really shines.

But after that, Feral and Balance are truly neck and neck. In the hands of a good player, Balance is just as good as feral from the moment you hit level ten. If you’re new or inexperienced, then Feral has more room for error and can take more of a beating, whereas Balance requires a tad more finesse. It’s more about “which spell is best for this situation” where the situation changes every split second, while Feral is more about “RAWR MANGLE SPAM”.

Feral is more about smashing things one by one, where Balance has an arsenal of AoE spells that can take down half a zone in a few seconds.

It’s about playstyle. It’s about preference. It’s about playing two very different roles and playing them well. So the short answer is “feral pulls ahead in the beginning” but the long answer is “both feral and balance druids are effective for leveling”.

2. Is it possible to level as a resto druid?

Possible, yes. Preferable? Hell no. For the first probably ten levels, you’ll do okay. Not great, but not poorly. You’ll spam wrath and things will die and you’ll be fine. But then about level 20 you’ll hit a roadblock. Things won’t die as fast. You won’t do as much damage. Things will hit harder. You’ll spend more time and mana healing yourself than you will killing things. It’s a slow, repetitive, laborious way to level and I don’t recommend it. If you want to heal, you’ll be confined to dungeons until at least level 30, at which point you can purchase dual spec.

3. If I spec Feral, how do I know if I am spec’d for tanking or for DPS?

Read each talent in the feral tree carefully before investing in it. The talents themselves tell you whether they are for tanking or for DPS. Many are for both. If it enhances any bear ability, it’s for tanking. If it enhances any cat ability, it’s for DPS. Because most talents effect both cat and bear forms, it’s easy to build a sort of “hybrid within a hybrid” spec that allows for both DPS and tanking roles. And really, until level 75+ or so, you can tank perfectly fine with a cat spec.

4. What professions are best for a druid?

If this is your first character or your first character on a new server, I recommend grabbing two gathering professions, because the potential to make massive amounts of gold is ripe. Pick two of skinning, herbalism or mining and get gathering.

If that’s not your style, then rest assured that most professions will benefit a druid in some way. Druids wear leather armor so obviously Leatherworking is a solid choice. Inscription, Jewelcrafting, Enchanting and Alchemy benefit everybody. Engineering is iffy, but it does provide some fun toys. Both Tailoring and Blacksmithing offer no benefit for a druid.

For the best benefits while leveling a druid, you’re probably looking at Leatherworking. Kill stuff, skin it, make it into armor you can wear. Not a bad deal, and not outrageously expensive to level like some of your other options. Cough, enchanting and jewelcrafting…cough.

5. What zones/instances should I be leveling in?

Blizzard has done an immaculate job of redesigning the old Azerothian zones to be compelling and interesting, so you can’t go wrong regardless of which zone you choose. Go somewhere you think will be fun, and I guarantee you it will be. I think every zone now has some sort of “epic” quest line that ends in blue quality rewards, so no matter where you go you’ll get something nice.

As for which instance, I can’t really answer that. Each instance has loot that will benefit different specs, so you might have to do a bit of research to determine which instance you should queue for. Or, just random queue and let the dungeon finder decide.

6. Should I be wearing/rolling for cloth armor?

If you are feral, then the answer is no, never. If you’re balance or resto, though, then the answer is kinda muddy.

The reason you will not see a level 85 druid wearing cloth is due to Leather Specialization, a passive skill learned at level 50 that awards you a 5% bonus to your best stat if you’re wearing all leather. But, like I just said, that doesn’t kick in until level 50. So, before level 50, there is absolutely no reason not to wear a cloth item if it’s an upgrade for you. Even after level 50, a massive cloth upgrade may still outweigh the 5% bonus. Note that the bonus is only added, not taken away. You will not receive a 5% penalty for wearing cloth. You just won’t get the bonus. So, if you find a cloth piece in your 60s and 70s that is a large upgrade, don’t hesitate. But in your 80s, stick to leather for the bonus.

Even with the entire world revamped, caster leather is still pretty hard to find. If you earn it from a quest reward, no one cares if you equip it. But if it drops from a dungeon, cloth-wearing players may take issue if you roll on it. My general rule of thumb is this: Do not roll on cloth armor against a cloth wearer. If the cloth wearers in my group pass or roll greed on the item, then I roll need. If they roll need, I don’t. If that doesn’t appeal to you, then kindly get some sort of communication going with your group on the matter.

Personally, I feel that healers of any class should get to roll on cloth, because like I said, caster items of any other armor type tend to be few and far between. Groups want healers, healers make the queue go faster…but they don’t want them to roll on gear that lets them heal. Odd.

7. Should I be taking strength gear as a feral druid? That mace is a huge upgrade…

No, it isn’t, actually. Strength gives one point of attack power per one point of strength; agility gives two points of attack power per one point of agility, plus dodge and crit. You lose by taking strength over agility any time. Leave the strength gear for those who truly need it (Hint: not you) and save your rolls for agility gear.

8. I’m having a really hard time holding threat as a bear tank…why?

Because low level bears are oddly not designed to tank. If you are not yet level 18 and are having issues, then I propose that you wait until level 18 when you get Swipe, which will help wonders. If you’re level 18 and are still having issues, then take a good look at your “rotation”, such as it is at this level.

Pull with faerie fire when you can. It has a damage component when in bear form as well as a boost of threat. Hit the target with Mangle for instant threat. Maul when you have enough rage. Swipe when you have more than one mob attacking you; Swipe should be done before Maul in this case, otherwise mobs will run amok while you regenerate the rage you used for Maul. Buy Glyph of Maul to allow Maul to hit (and thus produce threat) on more than one mob. Some target switching may be in order to build threat on multiple mobs. Growl to taunt wayward mobs back to you.

If you’re doing the above (in other words, if you’re doing more than auto-attacking) and you still can’t maintain threat on a mob, then you may need to talk to your DPS. Even at early levels there is no reason to harass a tank with bad manners (i.e., pulling before the tank does, attacking the wrong target, etc.) so if you find that your DPS are going apeshit and causing a problem, politely mention that you would appreciate it if they could watch threat and let you establish aggro first. If they react like entitled little shits, then that’s why the vote to kick option was invented.

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That’s it. Stick around for levels 20 to 30 and more druid related goodness over the next few days.

You can also join the fun over on Zangarmash (US-H) with the WoW Insider guild, if you want.

Druid Leveling 4.1 — 10-20

Presumably you have reached level ten and spent your first talent point responsibly (you have, haven’t you? Maybe this will give you some encouragement). I’m going to assume you’re rarin’ to get back to the leveling grind, so without further ado, let’s address the next ten levels.

Levels 10 through 20 will help you flesh out your druid in regards to his/her chosen spec. Healers will gain more potent heals, balance druids and kitties will add more attacks to their arsenal, and bears will begin to come into their own on the tanking scene. Though it seems like a long haul, the next ten levels will fly by in seconds, so hold on and try not to get carsick.

Level 11:

No new spells. Whether you decided to spec resto or balance, you rotation still hasn’t changed much. You should be using starfire to pull (recall that its longer cast time makes it difficult to get off when you’re having your face beaten in) and entangling roots to keep mobs at bay. Apply moonfire for the DoT and wrath until dead. Kitties will mangle and rake things to death, using ferocious bite if you have 2-3 combo points and the mob isn’t dead yet. Regardless of spec, things seem to die faster and easier if you’re in cat form. If you find yourself having difficulty casting things to death, give cat a try.

Level 12:

Your utility as a healer just skyrocketed. Both Regrowth and Revive will be handy tools once you begin dungeon crawling (if that tickles your fancy). Regrowth is also a top contender in high level healing, because of its HoT effect, which couples nicely with Swiftmend. More on that later. For now, use regrowth if you’re in need of a fast burst of healing, perhaps if you find yourself outnumbered while questing. Revive’s utility will kick in later, once you begin grouping with others.

Level 13:

Nothing new here, either. Continue on.

Level 14:

Carry on. Nothing here but the final push to level 15, and the dungeon finder.

Level 15:

Oh thank God. Finally. If you’re anything like me, you just spent 14 levels bouncing and twitching and fiddling because you wanted to be running instances, not running around questing. If you’re anything like me, you have a disturbing obsession with leveling via the dungeon finder. If you’re anything like me, you just heaved a huge sigh of relief, mentally high-fived yourself, and blew a big fat raspberry at your quest log.

Level 15 brings with it several very important additions to a druid’s arsenal, most notably of which is bear form. Not only have you unlocked the dungeon finder, but you can also queue as a tank. If you plan on leveling as feral, this is a very happy day. If you don’t, well, you have one more pretty form to fart around in.

But before we start discussing bear form in any depth, let me first advise you this: don’t tank yet.

No, seriously. Don’t. You have a very limited array of abilities afforded to you, none of which offer AoE threat. Your first foray into a dungeon as a tank will be a nightmare (unless you are ridiculously pro, but if you were you would not be reading this). Mobs will peel off you left and right, you’ll fight everyone and their grandma for aggro, and you’ll end up pulling your teeth out within ten minutes. Take a chill pill and put tanking on the back burner until level 18, when you will gain Swipe and your troubles will be (mostly) solved.

But now, bear form. Bear form is the tanking form. If you tank, you will be in this form. Do not touch cat form for tanking. Do not. Any tank who tries to sell you the “cat form is better for trash DPS” or some such line is full of bullshit and should be shot. Got it? Okay. Bear form comes equipped with 3 abilities right out of the box: Demoralizing Roar, Growl, and Maul. Roar is a debuff that affects all targets nearby with a damage reducing spell. It’s key to reducing incoming damage when you’re being beat to death. Growl is a taunt. If something is not attacking you and you want it to be, use Growl. Maul is your standard “threat” attack. Use maul when you have enough rage in order to keep the target focused on you.

It’s all very simple, and as such is quite limited right now. Again, I don’t recommend you queue as a tank until level 18, but if you’re super pro or super brave (or super stupid), you will be using the above three abilities to manage threat and keep people alive. Best of luck.

You also learn the spell Teleport: Moonglade. It’s use is also limited, but a creative druid knows he can use it as a sort of second hearth stone for free and limitless access to northern Kalimdor (which is invaluable in some circumstances).

I’m going to go on a quick tangent here for those of you who are dungeon-hungry and give a brief explanation of what your “rotation” should look like while in a group.

Restoration: Druid healing is about preventative measures, not last minute mega-heals. Keep Rejuvenation rolling on the tank while he takes active damage. If he’s taking more damage than Rejuve can negate, hit him with Nourish. Use Regrowth sparingly; it’s a major mana hog. It should only be used when you need a very fast, powerful heal. Use Swiftmend as an “oh shit” button when someone is about to bite the dust and you need to pop off something instantly. Swiftmend requires the target in question to have a Rejuve/Regrowth HoT on them; and that’s why we keep Rejuve on that tank at all times.

Balance: Keep Moonfire up on the target and spam wrath. That’s…pretty much it. Most trash will die too quickly for your DoT to really take effect, but it’s good practice and doesn’t hurt you. Change it up with Starfire if you want, but Wrath is faster, which is a bonus considering trash will die in seconds. Use Starsurge on cooldown. Want a faster queue time? At this level you’re perfectly capable of healing, and no one in Ragefire Chasm gives a damn if the healer is actually a boomkin.

Bear: Like we talked about above, you’re at a disadvantage in the tanking arena. Most low level DPS don’t give a damn if you have aggro or not, and will pull at random with no regard to your efforts, so be prepared to fight for threat. A bear needs rage to generate threat, but cannot generate rage if he is not being pummeled. Growl to get initial aggro, then use Mangle for quick threat and Maul when you have sufficient rage. Use Roar when you have several mobs on you just to keep their damage down. Pray.

Kitties: Mangle. Mangle. Mangle. Manglemanglemanglemangle. Rake, if it looks like your target will live longer than five seconds. For bosses, apply Mangle, then Rake (since Mangle increases the damage of any bleed on the target, and Rake is a bleed), then Mangle until you have a few combo points, and Bite.

Level 16:

Travel form and Aquatic form. Travel form saw more use in the early days of WoW, back when your first mount didnt come until level 40 and you had to traverse the world on foot. Now it’s a tad less useful, seeing as four levels from now you will purchase your first mount. But that’s still four levels you don’t have to spend running on foot. Aquatic form increases your swim speed, which is marginally useful if you find yourself needing to swim a great distance. It also allows you to breathe underwater, which in my opinion is its greatest asset. I mostly use it as a breath refresh when killing things under water.

Level 17:

Nothing new here.

Level 18:

Swipe! Swipe is your only multi-target threat tool while tanking, and will be for a long time yet. Use it when you have more than one mob attacking you. If you’ve been holding off on tanking since level 15, now is the time to change that. Good luck!

Level 19:

Nothing new here, either. Keep pushing for level 20.

Level 20:

You made it! In addition to getting your first mount, you’ll also earn yourself a few new spells to play with.

Insect Swarm will now be added to the rotation if you’re a balance druid. Keep both Insect Swarm and Moonfire active on your target.

Omen of Clarity is a passive spell that will sometimes trigger from your attacks or spells, allowing you to cast/attack once for free each time. Handy for any spec.

Rebirth is the druid’s signature ability (although now those stinky Death Knights have it too). It allows you to bring a fallen comrade back to life while still in combat. Use it to bring back someone of importance; don’t waste it on a DPS who stood in the fire. If things go haywire and people are dying, a well-timed, well-aimed battle rez can save the group. Tanks and healers should be your priority.

A Journey to Moonglade

Druids receive their first class-specific quest at level 20. Speak with a druid trainer in your capital city to acquire “A Journey to Moonglade” and use Teleport: Moonglade to get there. Speak with Loganaar when you arrive and accept the quest “The Circle’s Future”. You will be required to step foot in Shadowfang Keep if you want to complete this. The rewards are two very nice staves, itemized for any spec. Hit up the dungeon finder and good luck. You will need to kill Lord Walden (the fourth boss) for his elixirs. The sinew can be looted off the undead at the start of the instance, and the wood is found just inside the courtyard area after the first boss as well as inside the kitchen area just beyond.

Druid Leveling 4.1 — Which Spec?

Because druids have essentially three separate and wildly different roles to fill, and each spec is dedicated to one of these roles, how you spend your first talent point can be a big and rather daunting decision. Remember that you must choose one tree to put your talents in to now, and you will be locked into that tree until later levels. So, making a wise decision now is important if you want to enjoy your druid later.

First off, let’s look at what each spec is capable of and used for.

Restoration:

This is the healing spec. You deal wussy damage and you cannot tank. Druid healing focuses on potent HoT spells and AoE spells that heal the entire group/raid.

Feral:

This is the tanking or melee DPS spec. Which talents you choose determine which role you fulfill, though at lower levels so long as you are feral, you can fill either role perfectly. A feral tank is a limited-target non-AoE tank (though I should mention some of our AoE threat ability has been restored). A feral cat is a rogue-style damage-dealer that uses combo points to unleash a variety of finishing attacks.

Balance:

This is the caster, magic-based DPS spec. A balance druid uses nature spells to damage its opponents from far away, and has an arsenal of nature-based utility such as treants, 3 little tree friends which will attack your foes on command.

So really, which tree you choose to spend your first point in is up to your preferences. If you prefer to level via the random dungeon finder, I recommend restoration or feral (tank and healer trees) for faster queue times. If you want to level via mostly questing, I recommend feral or balance (both damage trees) to be the most efficient.

The threshold for dual-spec has been significantly lowered in recent months, so if you would like to perform two different roles, there’s not much stopping you. Consider a damage role for questing and a healing/tanking role for dungeons.

As far as “which spec is best for leveling” and “which spec does most DPS” type questions, the answer is this: both feral and balance druids are capable of doing an obscene amount of damage when played right, and neither has a strict advantage over the other in leveling. Play which ever one you feel will be the most fun.

Before we hop over into the level 1-20 guide, let’s take a look at what gear each spec should be using.

Restoration and Balance druids should be looking for intellect and spirit on their gear. Intellect increases spell power, while spirit increases mana regeneration (doubly important for healers). Agility and strength give no benefit, and stamina is of minor importance.

Feral druids should be looking for gear with agility and stamina on it. While strength isn’t exactly a bad stat, it is nonetheless not nearly as beneficial as agility. Leave strength to the warriors and paladins (unless it is on a quest reward that is a major upgrade for you). Intellect and spirit will give you no benefits while you are a cat or a bear.

Druid Leveling 4.1 — 1-10

Regardless of which race you chose or which role you plan to fill later on, all druids start the same. You’re scantily clad, kinda squishy, and mostly useless. Thankfully, you’re on your way to becoming one of the most potent and versatile classes in the game. Historically, druids have had a tough time with the leveling process. Cat form wasn’t available until level 20, mangle didn’t come until level 40…ah, I remember leveling my first druid…I also remember that I hated it. Luckily for you, Blizzard has smoothed out the leveling process for many classes, and the druid has been overhauled for the better. Let’s take a quick introductory look into levels 1 through 10.

Level 1:

You start out with only one spell available to you (not counting any racials) – Wrath. From now until level 4, you will spam Wrath to kill anything. Just spam it. Spam it good.

Level 2:

You earn Rejuvenation, a staple in any healer’s line-up. Unless you’re failing miserably, you shouldn’t need to use it yet. But it’s there in case you have an oops and require healing. It’s your standard heal-over-time spell, no bells or whistles…yet.

Level 3:

…Nothing. Keep questing and killing.

Level 4:

Moonfire! A standard damage-over-time spell which will be a source of major DPS later on. Right now things die so fast with Wrath spam that there isn’t a pressing need to also hit them with Moonfire; however, you won’t go wrong if you use it anyway.

Level 5:

Thorns. Thorns is, well…it’s thorns. On my level 85 druid, I have largely forgotten about thorns. For now, it’s mostly an “oh shit” button. If you have more mobs beating on you that you can handle, pop thorns to help deal damage to them when they hit you, and hopefully they will die before you do.

Level 6:

Nothing new here. Keep spamming Wrath and using Moonfire at will.

Level 7:

Entangling Roots is added to your repertoire. While not a particularly potent part of your spell book right now, the roots are nonetheless your only form of crowd control for now. If you pull one too many mobs, root one and pull the rest away. Rooted mobs can’t take much damage, or else the roots will break, so avoid rooting a mob that has moonfire or another DoT on it. In addition, roots are only effective on melee-type mobs. Casters will just continue to cast, rooted or not. Finally, if you know a particular mob hits hard, you can begin with roots and then moonfire and wrath before he breaks free and runs to you, to buy yourself some extra time.

Level 8:

Level 8 opens a whole new can of whoop-ass on the leveling game. You receive cat form and a host of abilities only available while you’re in it. Regardless of the spec you want to be or the role you want to fill, cat form for now is your most powerful form. You can continue casting wrath and moonfire if you’d prefer, but I usually find that killing things as a cat is much more efficient. Claw is your basic melee attack as a cat. Each time you claw a target, you generate 1 combo point. Rake is a bleed effect, meaning you use it to apply a debuff to your target that adds one combo point and also causes damage over time. If your target isn’t dead after a claw or two and a rake, use Ferocious Bite to consume the combo points and deal a large chunk of damage.

Lastly, you’ll gain Nourish and Starfire. Nourish is a solid heal that will be your staple until much, much later in the game. If you have a HoT (such as rejuvenation) on your target, Nourish will heal for more. Starfire is a large nuke that you will find more use for at later levels, but for now you can open with it against a target (if you’re choosing not to use cat form right now). Opening is best, since starfire has a longer cast time. Then moonfire, then back to wrath spam.

Level 9:

Nothing new here. Continue clawing or casting things to death.

Level 10:

Congratulations on making it to level ten. You will learn Prowl, which is instrumental in PvP and invaluable in PvE. Avoiding unwanted hassles with mobs is always convenient. You will also earn your first talent point, which is yours to spend where you please. Not sure what to spec or where to spend your points? Check out the next segment in this series.

Summary:

Wrath and moonfire are your basic spell casting attacks. Use Starfire when you have enough time to cast it without being beaten on. Use Wrath in close quarters, and Moonfire to apply its DoT. Use Entangling Roots to keep extra enemies at bay, or to buy more time to cast spells before they hit you. Thorns is helpful in dealing damage to multiple enemies as they beat on you. Pop Rejuvenation if you are low on health in combat; use Nourish if you’re not being hit. Use both if you’re really in trouble. If you choose to spend a few levels as a cat, use Claw and then Rake to apply its debuff and get combo points, then use Ferocious Bite to consume those points and deal extra damage. Prowl to sneak by enemies.

Raptor Factor

I mentioned before that I was on a quest to collect as many non-combat pets as possible. Today I took some time between finals (I had over an hour break in between with no studying needing to be done) and worked on getting the raptor pet from the Stranglethorn Vale quest line.

The following was produced because I was dissatisfied with the information and guides available elsewhere on the internet. Enjoy.

Step 1:

You’ll need to pick up a primer quest in order to get the little lashtail baby to drop. Killing creatures in STV without this quest will, for some reason, not allow you to find the raptor.

Alliance: Rebel Camp in northern Stranglethorn Vale. Obtain the quest “Bad Medicine” from Brother Nimetz. Also obtain “The Fate of Kurzen” from Lieutenant Doren.

Horde: Grom’Gol Base Camp on the coast of northern Stranglethorn Vale. Obtain the quest “The Defense of Grom’Gol: Raptor Risk” from Commander Aggro’gosh.

The rest of this guide will be written from the Alliance’s point of view. Presumably the Horde’s version is very similar, if not identical, obviously replacing the Rebel Camp with Grom’Gol.

Step 2:

Head to Kurzen’s Compound and slaughter its citizens until you obtain 7/7 jungle remedies. When the 7th one is looted into your bags, a quest prompt will pop up stating that you have discovered a baby raptor, and directing you to return with him to Rebel Camp.

Also while you are in the area, you will need to complete “The Fate of Kurzen” by looting pieces of paper off the floor inside the houses. Return to Rebel Camp when you are done.

Step 3:

Bring your raptor baby to Corporal Sethman at the Rebel Camp. He will give you a quest to kill basilisks and feed the baby.

Turn in “The Fate of Kurzen” to Doren and accept the quest “Spared from Madness”.

Step 4:

The basilisks are located in the hills east of Kurzen’s compound. Bring your baby with you and it will feast 4-5 times for every one basilisk you kill (if you lose your hatchling, there should be an egg in your inventory that will summon/dismiss him).

For “Spared from Madness” located the two-story house in Kurzen’s Compound (it’s the only one) and head to the second story. Free the three captives in the cage. Return to Rebel Camp.

Step 5:

Return to Corporal Sethman and turn in the basilisk quest. Accept the quest he offers next, even though he admits it is “unrelated”. It isn’t.

Head west with your baby to the Bal’lal ruins on the coast and loot the troll tablet from the ruins. If your raptor got lost, summon him again here. He will run to a little pile of skulls next to the tablet and pick one up, prompting a quest to pop up over his head. Click and accept. Return to Rebel Camp.

Step 6:

Turn in the tablet quest to Sethman.

Osborn Obnoticus (the gnome you saved from Kurzen’s Compound) will be waiting for you. He will give you a quest called “A Nose for This Sort of Thing”.

Head south west to the Tkashi ruins and summon your raptor if he got lost. He will then run around the ruins and dig up troll fetishes for you. You don’t have to do anything, just follow him around. If he seems to get stuck, run a few paces and he’ll pick up the trail again. Collect them all, then return to Obnoticus at Rebel Camp.

Step 7:

Accept the quest “A Physical Specimen” from Obnoticus next.

Head out west to the ruins of Zul’Kunda and head up to the second “tier” of the troll settlement. In the northernmost corner is Gan’Zulah. Kill him and loot him. Return to Rebel Camp.

Step 8:

Your aid has allowed Obnoticus to dabble with troll magic, and he has created Bloodlord Mandokir. Accept the quest from the bloodlord and hand over your baby raptor to him. Bye bye, baby. Maybe we should have left Osborn in that cage after all.

Step 9:

Osborn’s gratitude does not make up for the fact that you had to give up such an adorable companion, but he may have a solution. Accept his quest to visit Priestess Thaalia. Head south to Fort Livingston.

Accept the quest “Mind Vision”.

Step 10:

The next few quests are quick and easy, so I’m going to lump them together.

Head out and kill jungle raptors for their feathers. Return to Thaalia. Accept the next quest, “See Raptor”, and talk with Thaalia to begin. Complete, and accept the Quest “Mind Control”. Head south east to the ruins of Zul’mamwe and kill Braddok, loot his brain, and return to Thaalia. Accept the quest “Be Raptor” and talk with Thaalia to start.

Step 11 – Be Raptor:

You will be transported to the body of your kidnapped raptor baby, who you will then control. Speak with the raptor standing in front of you; each raptor will teach you something new. The object is to avoid the trolls by skirting them as much as possible. If spotted, you will be returned to the last “save point”, which is the last raptor you talked to. Hug the walls and make your way out of the main room and talk to the raptor in the entry way. Then, hug the wall to your right and talk to the next raptor. He will ask you to get him some food. Hug the wall and make your way south to the unguarded hut. Sneak inside and loot the sleeping troll for his food. You have 3 minutes to return to the raptor, who will then teach you to light fires. Head north from there and use the brazier to light the troll mask. Run past while the guards are distracted. Continue down the pathway lighting tiki masks to distract guards. You will need to use sprint to make it to the mask in time to light it. Speak to the next raptor. Head west by dropping skulls into the paths of patrolling trolls. This will cause the trolls to jump off the bridges. When you reach the instance entrance, you will need to light another troll mask on fire. Before you can escape, you will be spotted, and the quest will auto complete and boot you back to Thaalia.

Accept the quest “Report to Ghaliri”. He’s standing five feet away.

That’s the end of the quest chain to get your little raptor, but it isn’t the end of the line. If you completed this quest at a low level, you’ll need to wait a very long time to see the fruits of your labor. If you’re 85 and geared enough to step into Zul’Gurub, then you will need to kill Bloodlord Mandokir to receive the pet. Standing to Bloodlord Mandokir’s left is your raptor friend, chained to a few posts. After his death, the raptor will present you with a quest. Accept to receive your raptor.

Best of luck.

Unhappy Face

Nothing really interesting to say today.

I won the battle with my internet, though it came at a high cost to my sanity. Six phone calls to customer service, many hours spent screaming internally, two technician visits to my home…in the end we just replaced the entire modem, and it seems to have worked. Honestly, nothing it more infuriating than being disconnected every 30 seconds from your internet. Not just from WoW, but from everything. I tried absolutely everything possible to fix it on my own, because, as I will explain in a second, AT&T has the worst customer service on the planet. I tried hard wiring myself to the modem directly, I tried resetting and a hard shut down (like ten times) and I tried moving it to another wall jack in another room. And still I was being disconnected every 30 seconds or so, for hours on end, for several days. And it made me very, very angry.

This is not to suggest that I enrage when deprived of WoW. It is to say that when I am attempting to use the internet that I am paying for, and it simply isn’t working, I get angry. It’s the constant disconnecting, only reconnecting long enough to log back in to WoW and yahoo IM and then…be disconnected again. It’s that. That’s what makes me sprout horns and turn red and start punching babies.

It reminded me too much of living at home with my parents, where the internet was of so low a quality I swear it was powered by a squirrel on a stone wheel (sidenote: if you’re ever shopping for internet in rural California, run away if someone directs you towards Ponderosa Telephone. Quite possibly the absolute worst internet I will ever encounter). Playing WoW at home was like playing on dial-up in the Sudan. I frequently (okay, always) had 5-10k latency and would often disconnect and lag out. Any attempt to inform my parents that the internet service they were paying for wasn’t working correctly was met with the typical parent response of “I’m paying for it so it’s not your right to complain” or my favorite “I don’t notice it so I don’t care”. So, when I finally moved out, one of my most favorite changes was internet both under my control and that worked.

The real kicker was AT&T’s service. When you call the customer service number, you’re automatically put on the line with an automated representative, which then wastes the next twenty minutes of your life asking questions it cannot understand the answers to. Our conversation went something like this:

Automated Dumbfuck: Hello and welcome to AT&T wireless customer service. I see you are calling from a mobile phone; is this the number on your wireless account?
Me: No.
AD: Please say or enter your 10 digit wireless account number.
Me: *pokes in number*
AD: Okay. One moment while I pull up your account information. Are you calling about home phone service, DSL service, mobile phone service, or television service?
Me: DSL int-
AD: Or you can say none of these.
Me: DSL INTERNET.
AD: I’m sorry. I didn’t quite catch that. Are you calling about *blah blah blah*
Me: DSL…internet…service…
AD: Please say or enter your postal code so I can verify your service *blah blah blah*
Me: *pokes in zip code*
AD: I’m sorry. It doesn’t appear we have any accounts in that area. Is this the number you meant to give me?
Me: YES.
AD: I’m sorry. I didn’t quite catch that. Is this the number you meant to give me?
Me: YES!
AD: One moment while I *blah blah blah* Which of the following are you calling about? *lists a bunch of stuff again*
Me: Internet.
AD: One moment while I connect you to a customer service representative…

And that wasn’t even the worst part. Never mind that Automated Dumbfuck can’t distinguish between “yes” and “no” in the English language, sometimes I never even got the option to talk to a real person. On several occasions, despite answering the same way I always do, it automatically kept trying to do a trouble shooting session with me…even though this was probably the fifth time I’d called in, and the customer service reps had already done all their tests on my internet and couldn’t find anything wrong. There was no option to “skip this step and talk to a real person” and eventually I just started screaming “I WANT TO TALK TO A REAL PERSON YOU RETARDED PIECE OF SHIT” which is really when you know you need a few Xanax and some hard liquor.

Don’t even get me started on the real people, either. They’re helpful and I am, in all honesty, as polite and patient as possible with them…but I have a sneaky suspicion that AT&T outsources to India because I got several techs that…did…not…speak…English. Oh, the words were English. But the accent and intonations and pronunciations were anything but. And I feel as though my problems increase ten-fold when the person I call to fix them cannot speak in a manner than I can understand, leading me to believe I might actually be better off speaking to Automated Dumbfuck because NonEnglishMan is almost worse.

And really, what kind of modern mega-corporation thinks that HANGING UP ON A CUSTOMER is “good service”? After fighting to be understood by Automated Dumbfuck, and then fighting to understand NonEnglishMan, I finally connected with a live, English-speaking person in Arkansas. My family is from Arkansas. I understand Arkansas people. Oh thank God. Your accent is heaven, sir. And Arkansas man declares that he will transfer me to the department that deals directly with modem and line issues, so finally I feel like I will get somewhere with this clusterfuck and solve my internet woes. No. I’m connected with NonEnglishWoman, who at least is easier to understand than NEM. SHE tells me she needs to transfer me to another department, and while I’m on hold, I hear…

“We’re sorry, but we cannot process your call. Please call the toll-free number again.” Click.

YOU HAVE GOT TO BE FUCKING KIDDING ME.

I feel I should mention that it is also finals week. The last week I ever need to be experiencing internet issues, because besides making it impossible to raid, has made it impossible to stay connected long enough to access study materials online. And has also just generally made the stress I’m already feeling over my finals fester and breed until I break down and curl up and cry. It is also the one weekend a month where Boyfriend goes off to Be All He Can Be and I spent the entire time alone and completely bored without even basic television to distract me because I use Netflix which, of course, requires the internet.

So, this really had nothing to do with WoW even though I originally intended it to. Just venting.

A Return to Pet Collecting

Years ago I spent quite a great deal of time and effort on collecting non-combat pets on my hunter. I don’t know why I didn’t do it on my main, but somehow it seemed more appropriate for a hunter to have pets. I enjoyed matching them up to my combat pets for double the fun. I even neglected holiday events on my main so that I could spend more time farming pets on my hunter.

Well, that’s being rectified. I recently decided to go all-out in collecting non-combat pets on Sylvestris. Blame it on my achievement whoring nature, but I couldn’t stand it any longer. I had to do it. I had to have that fawn’s salt lick and so forth. Apparently a new reward pet is being added for the 150 pet achievement as well (a squirrel, which doesn’t excite me, but oh well). Up until now, my MO when collecting pets on Sylv was to only nab the ones I truly liked, as opposed to grabbing anything just for the achievement tally.

Today I got my happy ass over to Warcraftpets.com and deleted my hunter’s profile, replacing it with my druid’s. It was kind of startling to realize that the months and months of hard work I put into my hunter’s collection was blown out of the water in a few hours of poking around on my druid, who quickly exceeded her total tally with minimal effort.

I’ve encountered a few snares in my journey to 100 pets. Namely, my efforts to whore myself into the good graces of the Bloodsail Buccaneers have made me very unpopular with the goblin factions, which of course I took into account when I started the rep grind to begin with, but I didn’t expect it to be this far reaching. For example, I could not complete the OOX quest line (the one where you find the distress beacon in Tanaris and Feralas and the Hinterlands, then escort the robo-chicken to safety) because the final turn ins require you to be neutral or higher with Booty Bay…thankfully, I’m ingenious. The mechanical chicken pet that is the final reward for rescuing all three chickens is BoE, so any character can complete the quest then mail (or sell) the pet to less fortunate friends. I had to complete the quests on my mage in order to send the chicken pet to my druid.

A few tips for that quest chain:

  • After poking through wowhead comments on the subject, I have concluded that the drop rate for the OOX distress beacons is actually fairly low. However, you still have a very good chance at getting it from your first few mobs in the zone, somehow. It dropped on the very first kill for me in Feralas, after about five kills in the Hinterlands…and then not for almost half an hourof massacring trolls in Tanaris. Be patient.
  • If you find yourself stuck in Tanaris like I was, go to Zul’Farrak. If you’re high level, you can mow down half the instance in a single pull and root through the corpses for your beacon. Also, the scarab room is a good place to AoE things dead.
  • If, like me, you leveled through these zones years ago and have no possible way of knowing which quests you completed, you have a few options. There’s help to be found on the customer service threads at the official website, addons such as QuestHelper can tell you which quests you have yet to complete in a zone, and so on.
  • If you find yourself grinding endlessly with no luck, try finding the collapsed chicken its self and see if it doesnt have the quest available for you (turn on low level quest tracking). You may have found the beacon while leveling in that zone months/years ago, accepted the quest, then tossed it out or abandoned it or whatever. The chicken will know.

As it stands now, Sylv has 94 pets collected and many more in the works. I’m just watching those achievement points rack up…closer and closer to 9,000 🙂

Profestris!

My little druid project, Ashcrofte, is slowly earning his keep around more famed druids like Sylvestris. I’ve decided to go after the violet proto on Ash, too, which means Boyfriend and I will be plowing through the holiday achievements full-force in the coming months.

First on today’s agenda was the infamous and much-abhorred School of Hard Knocks…which we just completed about five minutes ago. As this is my second time completing that achievement, I feel perfectly confident declaring it the worst idea Blizzard has ever barfed up, and should promptly be returned to the twisted, half-aborted mind from whence it came. I am of the opinion that it probably still exists because it is the brain-child of some Blizzard higher-up who got his feelings hurt when the vast majority of the WoW player base decreed it to be horrible, and he is staunchly refusing to take it off the table as a matter of wounded pride.

I digress.

In other news, Sylvestris is digging his way across Azeroth once more. There was a time when I assumed I would quit (or at least take a break from) archaeology after completing the battle bug rare (and thus my 100th mount; see post below). How silly of me! No, I went right back at it today for several hours, knocking out a handful of straggling achievements left in my log. I even solved my 20th rare and nabbed the Professor title. Professor Sylvestris sounds…pompous as best. I prefer Profestris.

Next on the list: running more heroics for the Call to Arms satchel (which, on my first run ever, awarded me with the Azure Whelpling pet. Squee!) and continuing my hunt for rare mounts.

Advice for completing School of Hard Knocks, you ask? You realize the event ends tomorrow night, right? Procrastinator.

If you aren’t an absolute PvP dynamo, the best advice I can give you is…

Look pathetic, and pray.

And…There it is.

I got my 100th mount tonight at about 10 pm. This past week and a half I have been working tirelessly towards the Mountain O’ Mounts achievement, collecting anything I could get my paws on. I grabbed the Drake of the West Wind from the Baradin’s Wardens, the final PvP mount from Stormwind, and one of the 100 seal mounts from the Argent Tournament. That left me at 99, with my last mount depending on a rare drop from something. If nothing else, I had the wintersaber lined up for completion in a week or so, but I was farming Tol’vir artifacts today and…up popped the scepter. It took me about an hour to complete and bag my 100th mount, the Ultramarine Battle Tank. I’m not certain how I feel about the dragonhawk model, but it’s flashy and exclusive and the only dragonhawk available to Alliance, so I am satisfied for my efforts. It’s been a long time in coming.

Many, many thanks to everyone who has helped me along the way, especially my guild who has been kind enough to lend a hand from the very beginning, and for staying up late with me running battlegrounds for my last 1000+ honor a few nights ago. You guys rock.

If you’re looking to farm for the Scepter yourself, a few things to keep in mind:

  • Tol’vir artifacts require max level archaeology to dig up. You won’t even see them on the map until then.
  • Consider completing your Night Elf rares first. If you complete every Night Elf rare, then you will have a decreased chance to see Night Elf dig sites pop up on your map, and since Kalimdor is like 90% Night Elf sites, this means you will have more Tol’vir sites pop up. Once I finished my last Night Elf rare (the doll), I started getting a lot more Tol’vir sites, sometimes 6-8 in a row.
  • The wowhead comments for the scepter suggest that there is a pattern involved in Tol’vir rares. Many commenters pointed out that they solved the ring first, then the scarab pendant, then got the scepter. This held true for me as well. Something to keep in mind while you solve.
  • Archaeology is my favorite thing ever, and even I will admit that it is…boring. Tedious. Grindy. Annoying. Consider distracting yourself with television or music while you grind.
  • Don’t ignore sites that are not Tol’vir. You have to dig up other sites to erase them from your map and spawn a Tol’vir dig site, so just dig them up. If you’re looking to make money, both the Night Elf and Fossil sites can produce trash that vendors for 200 gold (the silver scroll case and kraken tentacle, respectively) and the keystones from most of your races will also net some gold on the AH.
  • Don’t give up 🙂