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.
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.
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.
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.