Monthly Archives: July 2011

A Look Back on the Firelands Dailies

I’m a few days behind, but I finally finished the Molten Front dailies and the Leyara quest chain.

It was worth the effort.

Speaking of effort, I had to dual-box the majority of my time in the Firelands, because The Boy refused to allow himself to fall behind on dailies while he was gone for two weeks. So for two weeks I ran around with his toon on follow and got him all his achievements and marks. I don’t recommend it. It wasnt fun. I got burned out and didnt do them at all for 3 days, hence being behind. Go ahead and insert another few paragraphs of grouchy rambling here, because I’m too lazy to type it.

Moving on.

The Molten Front dailies provided some of the best fun I’ve had in WoW in a long while. I love achievements, so as soon as I saw all the achievements available to me there I went a little nuts. Speaking of achievements, I have a guide coming up on how to earn them all, so stick around.

The quests were especially gratifying as a druid. I felt like I was really a part of something that an old druid like Sylv would be a part of. I felt like I was really involved in the war against Ragnaros. Maybe not on the front lines, but it was nice to still be in on the action. I’ll likely never see the Firelands raid, so this was a nice touch for me.

I loved the druidy quests and the flame druids and the druid everything-ness of the Firelands. I would kill to get Staghelm’s polearm thing that turns kitties into fire kitties. There is nothing more badass than a fire kitty.

The quests themselves were fun (albeit repetitive, but that’s kinda defined in the word “daily”, right?) and engaging. I loved all the voice artists and the fun cut scenes and such.

I especially liked how the mobs operated for the quests in regards to tagging and quest credit. I can’t imagine how horrid those quests would be if mobs grayed-out upon being tagged. Ugh. It was nice to be able to kill things in mob fashion without having to actually group with people. Mad props to the developers who realized they should do it this way.

I only have two achievements left for my title, and even then I’m only missing a few things from each achievement. I’m certainly going to continue doing these dailies every day as often as possible. One because the gold is pretty good, and also because I want marks so I can by the cache off the vendor. I want that little fire pet! The Boy also has a few days left to finish his dailies (he wanted to get the achievements -I- earned him for himself…grumble…) so I’ll be doing them with him anyway.

So overall I really enjoyed this bit of content. Am I going to do it again on another character? Heck yes. I just don’t know who yet.

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Druid Leveling 4.1 — 70-80

Northrend, for some reason, was never really one of my favorite areas to quest. I suppose it may be due to the fact that I leveled the majority of my alts to the cap in Wrath, so I saw every zone at minimum six times. Regardless, I’m putting my effort into questing now because my guild has a lot of rewards for the well-liked, and sitting at neutral just won’t do. Additionally, I’m having trouble locating acceptable caster leather and as such am wearing more cloth than I’d like. I’ve limited myself to just one run per dungeon right now so that I have time to quest thoroughly before departing. Guild rep is my focus for now.

Dungeons will once again award tabard rep, so if you’re still short you can make up for it here.

Regardless of your attitude towards Northrend, know that your stay here will be brief. Perhaps too much so. Heirloom pieces and guild perks etc. will make your time in the snowy mountains quick and relatively painless. Even without heirlooms I’m bombing along faster than I thought I would. Remember that you cannot begin Cataclysm level content until level 80, so you may as well enjoy your stay.

Level 71:

Talent point.

Level 72:

Nothing here, unfortunately.

Level 73:

A talent point.

Level 74:

Cyclone is a crowd control ability that, while short-lived, renders its target incapacitated. I find more use for this in PvP (where you can be horrendously annoying if you want to) but it’s also handy in PvE if you need to quickly get a mob out of your face. It is also one of the few forms of CC that cannot be broken via damage because the target is immune for the duration.

Level 75:

You unlock the last set of glyph spots.

Level 76:

Savage Roar is going to become one of the cat druid’s most important skills. It’s similar to Slice and Dice for rogues: you’ll want to keep it active as close to 100% of the time as possible. I use Mangle to establish one combo point (or two, as the case may be) then Roar to consume them, then get one with my normal rotation. Don’t bother if you’re just out questing, but if you’re in a dungeon or killing elites, it’s a good boost to your damage.

Level 77:

Talent point.

Level 78:

You finally get Healing Touch, the resto druid’s largest heal. It’s slow and it’s expensive and won’t take the place of Nourish for general healing purposes, but if you combine it with Nature’s Swiftness you’ll have a nice “oh shit” button for tough situations.

Level 79:

Talent point.

Level 80:

Congrats! You’re 5 levels away from end game content. You’ve earned the right to benefit from Mastery, which we’ll discuss in the next segment. You’ll want to leave Northrend behind now, because any questing you do there from here on out is not going to net you enough reward to be worth your time. Head to your faction’s capital to get started on your journey into the Cataclysm zones, and good luck.

Peculiar

As I work my way towards level 80 (three bars to go!) I have been randomly queuing for dungeons to finish out my Northrend Dungeonmaster achievement. I’ve come to realize I probably wont be able to finish it, because the level 80 dungeons require a higher iLevel than I currently have, so I may end up running them after I hit Cataclysm content. Anyway.

I noticed as I was queuing an oddity in the dungeon finder system. If I queue as both healer and DPS I get into a group within seconds, but nine times out of ten it is as DPS. Now, if I queue solely as DPS…well, I don’t know how long it will take, because I left the queue after 40 minutes.

Peculiar.

**UPDATE**

It seems I should pay more attention to achievement requirements! Trial of the Crusader and the Icecrown 5-mans are not required for Northrend Dungeonmaster, something I learned once I finished Culling of Stratholme and got my achievement. So that wraps up my adventures in Northrend (I hit level 80 in Strat too). Stay tuned for the level 70-80 guide.

Druid Leveling 4.1 — 60-70

I’m really enjoying my time questing in Outland so far. Admitetdly my strategy thus far in Azeroth has been to avoid quests and rapid-fire myself through as many dungeons as possible, and I had hoped to keep that strategy once I got to Outland. But I realized that questing gave almost better experience (since I was not constrained to waiting on flunkie tanks or idiot DPS or people who drop out without warning in the middle of a pull…) and it also netted me a little bit of guild rep as well. I am also thoroughly enjoying leveling as a solo balance druid. It’s been one big sloppy AoE hurricane/typhoon fest so far and I love it. I pull anything and everything within rang of me with DoTs, then Hurricane it all down and Typhoon if I’m being beaten too savagely. It’s satisfying as all hell. On top of all that, this is the first time I’ve seen Outland from a Horde perspective, and I want to make the most of my time here. Because of this I’ve decided to put dungeons on the back burner and continue my quest-fest until further notice.

Before we dive into the level-by-level break down, let’s take a moment to overview the different specs and how they’re beginning to look at level 60.

Balance

A balance druid at this level has almost all of the DPS tools it will need to be successful. Hurricane is a devastating AoE (especially if you DoT things with moonfire/insect swarm beforehand) and can wreak havoc in both solo questing and dungeon environments. Your DPS rotation is still the same as it was a long while back: DoT your target and refresh when they fall off, spam Wrath or Starfire depending on Eclipse state, and watch them die. Add in a Hurricane when there are many mobs (assuming your tank is good on threat; if he has trouble, skip Hurricane). Typhoon is still a no-no in instances unless glyphed. It’s a blessing while questing if unglyphed. Pop your treants to take down a boss or handle a tough trash pull or a large group while soloing. You’re still fully capable of healing an instance in a pinch, if your healer dies or leaves, etc. Everyone has their own opinion on when you should stop queueing for a role you are not spec’d to fill and here’s mine: unless you have dual spec and a resto spec handy, don’t queue for a healing slot as a boomkin. Fill in if necessary, but don’t queue.

Restoration

Resto druids are still several tools short of a full toolbox, but their healing options have opened up significantly by now. You should have spent talent points in both Efflorescence and Wild Growth (and if you haven’t, rectify that immediately). Both are potent group heals that can see you through the very worst of pulls. Your Swiftmend spell is now doubly significant: it provides a burst of healing on the target as well as a bloom of healing on the ground for all to stand in. Use it often. If you’re having mana trouble, take a step back and reevaluate your healing rotation. You should not be using Regrowth as a primary heal. Use Nourish instead. Keep Rejuvenation up on the tank always. Hit Swiftmend if things look dicey, and the healing puddle will help the group as a whole as well. Don’t spam Regrowth! Keep an eye out for spirit gear and use your Innervate at about 50% mana.

Feral

Feral druids are still capable of tanking and DPSing in the same spec and gear. That won’t change until almost level 85. A bear’s AoE threat is sub-standard at this point in time, but a little communication with your group as well as Swipe spam will help that. Glyphed Maul is also pretty much mandatory. Tanking for now is going to be a balance of Swipe spam and tab-targeting to apply Mangle and Maul threat. Kitties will be adjusting to adding Rip to their rotation. Always remember to stand behind your target as a cat, or Shred won’t be effective. Rip at 4-5 combo points if the target is at near/full health; Bite if the target is beneath 50%. Your healing capabilities at this point are less than effective, but if you find yourself in a pinch a cat druid can pop out and heal if necessary. Bear druids should never leave bear form while tanking mobs. They can, however, pop Nature’s Grasp to root a single mob (only works on single mobs) and run away to battle rez or heal or what have you.

Anyway.

Level 61:

Talent Point.

Level 62:

Maim. Maim will see good use in PvP but can also be used in PvE if you need the jump on a difficult mob, such as an elite. It is not part of a regular DPS rotation but can (and should) be used to interrupt heals.

Level 63:

Talent point!

Level 64:

Lifebloom is another one of those really important spells that comes oddly late in the game. It stacks three times to deliver a nice HoT effect, and when it expires it delivers quite a punch. The object of the game here is to know when to let it expire. It is more mana efficient to keep it rolling indefinitely, though if your target needs a quick burst of healing under heavy fire, letting it expire may be better. You will want to keep this spell stacked 3 times on your tank at all times.

Level 65:

Talent point.

Level 66:

Lacerate. The bear tank is going to see a few more helpful abilities in these later levels – why they couldn’t get them earlier is beyond me, but whatever. If you’ve ever played a warrior, Lacerate is sort of like Sunder Armor. You stack it three times on your main target. It is a threat boost as well as a damage boost. You can tab-target to Lacerate multiple enemies if you want. You’ll want to keep it from dropping off (bosses, at least) for maximum damage. Because it deals periodic bleed damage, this is (like almost all feral DoTs) something you apply after Mangle.

Level 67:

These points be talented.

Level 68:

Tranquility is hands down your most powerful heal, bar none. It’s channeled (which means you may want to hit Barkskin before you cast it to spare yourself the heartache of it being interrupted or knocked back) and applies both a direct heal every second or so for 8 or so seconds, and then on top of that it stacks a HoT 3 times on all affected targets. It has the ability to bring your group back from the very edge of a wipe. It saves your ass. It saves your group’s ass. The 3 minute cooldown means you shouldn’t be afraid to pop this when you need to. It will be back up by the time the next “oops” rolls around. It’s potent in any spec, so DPS should not hesitate to crank it out if things look bad.

At this point you’re also eligible to head into Northrend. Whether you go or stay is of course your decision. Beginning content in Northrend can be a bit rough on an undergeared level 68. I’m choosing to stay in Outland until level 70 to catch up on dungeons I haven’t yet run.

Level 69:

A talent point. You finally gain access to your end talent payoff. Balance druids get Starfall, a massive AoE barrage; Ferals get Berserk, a nice DPS boost; and healing druids finally get their own form, Tree of Life.

Now that you’ve maxed out your chosen talent tree, the game will allow you to plop additional points in another tree of your choice. This can be confusing for new druids, so let’s take a second to discuss where you should spend your overflow points.

For Balance druids, the natural choice is to pop over to the resto tree. Blessing of the Grove, Natural Shapeshifter (for its linked talent) and Heart of the Wild are all good choices. You will want to aim towards Master Shapeshifter, as well.

For Ferals, neither Balance nor Restoration are optimal trees. Restoration has the edge, though, with Natural (and Master) Shapeshifter talents and Heart of the Wild.

Restoration druids will want to slip over to the Balance tree to grab Nature’s Grace and Nature’s Majesty, as well as Genesis or Moonglow. It’s increased healing vs. decreased mana cost. Your pick.

Level 70:

Yay, congrats. If this were the Burning Crusade, you’d be hot shit right now. That’s not to say 70 still isn’t a nice accomplishment, but you have a ways to go before you’re the big dog on campus. Still, 15 more levels are going to fly by. Take some time to clean out your bags and quest log, because you’ll want to head over to Northrend if you’re still hanging out in Outland.

You’re also eligible to buy epic (280%) flight form now, and you’ll want to pick up Cold Weather Flying too.

Druid Talent Tree Analysis 4.1 — Feral (Level 60)

Here we go with feral, the only “dual spec” tree that doesn’t require two separate specs to accomplish the same goals.

If you really want to, there are plenty of ways to arrange your talents to succeed as both a tank and a melee DPS. On the flip side, you are also perfectly capable of arranging your talents to be “just” a tank or “just” DPS. A leveling druid will likely get more mileage out of a hybrid build while a druid at level 85 will more likely wish to specialize. It’s your call all the way.

Without further ado…

The Feral Tree

First Tier

Feral Swiftness — I am a huge fan of the run speed increase, but the chance to dodge for bear means this is a solid tank talent. As a bear, dodge is one of your only mitigation attributes, so if you can increase it you definitely should. This talent also has a nice PvP clause, too.

Furor — full points in this means you start with an instantly full energy bar when you shift to cat, and a good chunk of rage when you shift to bear. You never want to be caught with either bar at empty, so this talent is a must. Additional mana? Meh.

Predatory Strikes — increased crit chance for Ravage is nice. You’ll only get one Ravage off anyway since it requires stealth, so it isnt great. The healing bit tacked on at the end is moot for bear druids and less than great for kitties. This appears to be more PvP oriented than anything.

Second Tier

Infected Wounds — causes a debuff to slow the target’s attack speed. That means less damage on you and/or the tank. Good.

Fury Swipe — free DPS increase. Take it.

Primal Fury — additional rage is always good. Additional combo points for critical strikes is a DPS increase. The faster you crank out combo points and fill the meter, the faster you can lay down a Rip or a Bite. Simple.

Feral Aggression — increased Bite damage is good. Automatically stacking Faerie Fire means you wont waste global cooldowns to stack in manually, which means less time spent spamming FF and more time spent attacking.

Third Tier

King of the Jungle — more damage to bears is great, but this talent really speaks to kitties. It will refill your energy bar in addition to amping your DPS every time you hit Tiger’s Fury, which means you wont waste a second of that short little damage buff. Good stuff.

Feral Charge — there’s no way to justify not taking this. Charges are all well and good, yes, but you take this talent in order to get its linked partner.

Stampede — increases the bear’s melee speed and removes the stealth and positioning requirement for a cat’s Ravage. Win. This makes charge your opener of choice for both roles.

Thick Hide — entirely a bear talent. If you plan on being a bear tank, plan on taking this talent.

Fourth Tier

Leader of the Pack — endows your group with a crit buff (awesome) and causes your critical strikes to heal you for a small amount. Excellent talent for the solo-enthusiast and always optimal for any druid.

Brutal Impact — all about the interrupts. Great for PvP and PvE alike.

Nurturing Instinct — another talent that is best saved for the PvPer. You will not be popping out to heal as a bear, and even if you decided to as a cat your heals would be next to worthless anyway.

Fifth Tier

Primal Madness — treat it like an instant “energy potion”. Pop it to increase your damage output, sure, but the real reason I keep this thing on cooldown is for the instant boost to my energy bar.

Survival Instincts — THE defensive cooldown for ferals. Bears and cats alike will want this. It is one of two (Barkskin being the other) damage reduction tools in your toolkit.

Endless Carnage — increased duration of Rake means you don’t need to reapply it quite as often. That is nice. Same for Savage Roar and Pulverize.

Natural Reaction — a pure tanking talent. Reduces damage and increases avoidance, plus increases rage gained when you dodge.

Sixth Tier

Blood in the Water — it may take a moment for the effect of this talent to really sink in. As a rule of thumb, you always want Rip to take priority over Bite. If your target is at very low health, however, and Rip would not last long enough to be useful, Bite is the better choice because it delivers a larger dose of damage all at once. So, if you have a target that already has Rip ticking away on it, this latent lets you use Bite to refresh Rip’s duration 100% of the time. If you are a master of proper timing, it means you can keep Rip ticking indefinitely while at the same time punctuating it with large bursts of damage from a 5 point Bite. Pure win.

Rend and Tear — increases damage done by Maul and Shred to bleeding targets and increases Bite’s crit chance on bleeding targets. As a feral druid, you target should always be bleeding.

Pulverize — a massive attack for bear druids. Use after you have applied three stacks of Lacerate.

Final Tier

Berserk — this means Mangle is going to pop off cooldown a lot more frequently. Use it when it does. It also has an on-use effect which basically makes you a rabid, furry killing machine. Use it to grab snap aggro on a large trash pack that may otherwise have blown right past you. Use it to decrease the energy cost of your kitty attacks and get double the damage going. Use it. A lot.

Druid Talent Tree Analysis for 4.1 (Level 60) — Restoration Tree

Here’s the next segment of my talent analysis for the leveling druid: the restoration tree.

Again, this is the type of guide that focuses on the why and the how of talents, so if you just want a cookie-cutter spec thrown at you, look elsewhere.

Because the restoration tree is centered around healing, and healers in general are not solo-effective, I’m not going to discuss talents in the context of “if you solo, then…” because…if you’re trying to solo quest as a healer, you’re probably insane.

Restoration Tree

First Tier

Blessing of the Grove — increased healing to Rejuve is always good. No one cares about Moonfire.

Natural Shapeshifter — meh. Reduced mana cost is okay, but not enough to be incredible, and of course increased duration of Tree of Life (which you don’t have yet at level 60) is hot, but the real reason you take this is to access its linked talent.

Naturalist — decreased casting times is always a must for any healer. It equates to more healing over a period of time and less people dead due to “damnit, I had a heal coming” type things.

Heart of the Wild — another less than amazing talent, but increased intellect is directly related to increased healing, so it is at least viable.

Second Tier

Perseverance — you can look at this from a few different angles, but I tend to just view it as a waste of my talent points. A PvP druid will love it, and a PvE druid will probably pass it by. Again, at level 60 you probably wont be taking enough damage to warrant spending any points on this talent; at level 85, though, you may decide raid/heroic damage is plentiful enough to want it. Your call.

Master Shapeshifter — increased healing by 4% is nothing to sniff at.

Improved Rejuvenation — again, more increased healing. Good stuff.

Third Tier

Living Seed — great for healing a tank. That little bloom of free healing is always welcomed, however small it may or may not be.

Revitalize — you dont have Lifebloom yet, which makes much of this talent kind of worthless, but you do have Rejuvenation, and mana is always a good thing. You can spend points in it now for a little extra mana, or you can wait until you get Lifebloom to spend the points. Your call.

Nature’s Swiftness — I rarely ever use this while healing, even at level 85. It’s an “oh shit” button that you will pretty much always use with Healing Touch (it being your longest cast time and most potent). At level 60ish, you’ll probably not have need for such a thing, since Swiftmend has pretty much the same effect but with added AoE healing. You’ll want it eventually, but not necessarily right now.

Fury of Stormrage — I don’t honestly know what to think of this. Is it intended to help resto druids quest and solo stuff on their own? Is it intended to encourage resto druids to DPS while in a group? Neither of those options is acceptable. If you want to quest, go feral or balance and you should never waste mana and global cooldowns by DPSing when you queued as a healer. No no no and no. This reeks of PvP. Skip it otherwise.

Fourth Tier

Nature’s Bounty — more healing buffs. Yes. It also means your Nourish spell will be quicker to cast if you have Rejuve rolling on three or more people, which can certainly happen if lots of damage is going around.

Empowered Touch — increases healing done by a host of your strongest heals and also grants those heals a chance (100% at two points) to refresh your Lifebloom stacks (which you don’t have yet). The refresh is very important once you have Lifebloom.

Malfurion’s Gift — this one buffs spells you don’t have yet at level 60, but it should be revisited when you do have them later on. Lifebloom giving Omen of Clarity is great for mana conservation and the reduced cooldown on Tranquility (far and away your most powerful heal) is mandatory. Malfurion doesn’t skimp on the awesome when he gives a gift, eh?

Fifth Tier

Efflorescence — we’ve discussed this before and why it’s so great, but let me reiterate just in case you weren’t listening: this is mandatory! The group healing effect is powerful enough to speak for its self here.

Wild Growth — again something we’ve already had words about, but let me briefly restate: this is one of your best AoE healing abilities. It is a must-have.

Nature’s Cure — at the lower levels being able to cure magic is not really a priority. The higher you go, though, the more this becomes handy, to the point where it will be mandatory at the end game level. Being able to dispel magic in addition to poisons and curses makes you far more likely to be able to keep people alive in dicey situations. Magic debuffs can tick for insane amounts of damage, just like curses, so any savvy healer will want this.

Nature’s Ward — meh. The way I see it, if you’re being actively beat on while at or below 50% health, you’re going to be healing yourself anyway. Still, a free and instant HoT cast on yourself that doesnt trigger the global cooldown is a good thing. This is one of those “if you want it” talents, not a “must have”.

Sixth Tier

Gift of the Earthmother — what did I tell you about gifts? Always a good thing.

Swift Rejuvenation — means you can pop out Rejuvenation on more people faster. Good.

Final Tier

Tree of Life — the ultimate in healing druidyness. 15% increased healing plus a host of enhanced spell effects means this is probably one of the best healing buffs available in your talent tree. They don’t call us tree druids for nothing.

 

In a few days we’ll look at the Feral talent tree and its implications for both cat and bear druids. Keep an eye out for the 60-70 chapter of the leveling guide, too.

Blargh!

You ever get the feeling that the dungeon finder system likes to screw with you?

Sometimes I think it sits there in its high-backed executive chair deviously stroking a white cat while plotting its next annoying stunt.

Seriously!

I queued as both DPS and healer on my baby druid a few minutes ago for Slave Pens.

First queue pops: DPS. Hooray! I don’t have to switch specs. Oh, someone declined the queue. Grumble.

Second queue pops: DPS again. Phew that was close. Damnit, someone declined again.

Third queue pops: DPS! Man I got lucky – DAMNIT. Stop declining, people!

Fourth queue pops: Healer. Fine. Maybe someone will decline it…

Everyone accepts. Zoning in to Slave Pens.

Crap it all.

Tank doesn’t give me five nanoseconds to switch specs. Someone leaves the group before I’ve even finished zoning in.

We queue again. I get slotted as DPS.

Make. Up. Your. MIND!

Totally not the first time it’s happened, either. Only about a week ago I was running Blackrock Depths (the whole freakin’ instance) with a group. As groups generally go, someone dropped out about every 20 minutes or less and we re-queued repeatedly. First I was a healer. Then I was DPS. Then back to healer. Then DPS again. The tank was laughing at me. I finally unchecked one of the role boxes (don’t remember which anymore) and stayed whatever I had been for the remainder.

Lousy queue.

Druid Talent Tree Analysis for 4.1 (Level 60) — Balance Tree

So here’s that talent point analysis for the 4.1 leveling druid I said I would do and then…kinda didnt.

Ahem.

This isn’t so much a “these are the talents you must take and here is your cookie cutter talent tree template” kind of thing, so if you’re just looking for a copy/paste talent tree thing, search elsewhere. This is going to be more of a “here is why this talent is good/bad/okay for questing or running dungeons” sort of a guide.

This guide is also tuned for level 60 druids who are actively leveling, not level 85 druid who are trying to raid the Firelands content. Keep that in mind, too.

And here we go:

At level 60 you will have 26 talent points to spend. You will be able to spend up to the fifth tier. Where you spend them is your business. Don’t fall in to the “this talent is trash” mentality that some players seem to subscribe to. Place your talent points where you want them, in talents that seem like a good investment for your playstyle. If it doesn’t work, well, a respec is cheap enough these days to warrant some fooling around. Have fun.

The Balance Tree

First Tier

Nature’s Grace — spell haste is always, always a good thing.

Starlight Wrath — also a good talent. The faster you pump out Wrath and Starfire, the faster you hit eclipse, the more damage you do.

Nature’s Majesty — critical strike is always a good thing. However, if the first tier talents, this would be the place to skimp if you so desire.

Second Tier

Genesis — not as great as the above talents. Increased healing does not help your damage (but does help if you’re solo questing) and increased DoT time is just okay. For now, you can skip this talent. Come back to it later.

Moonglow — I’m always looking for ways to save mana (like money). If you find yourself low on mana often, take this. If you don’t think you’ll have a problem, don’t.

Balance of Power — extra hit from Spirit is awesome especially if you’re dual spec’d as a healer. Increased spell damage speaks for its self.

Third Tier

Euphoria — again, mana regeneration is always a hot thing. Getting yourself to and from eclipse states is also a good thing. It means more time spent in an eclipse state, which roughly equals more damage (unless you spend your eclipse states picking your nose or something).

Moonkin Form — uh, duh?

Typhoon — whether you decide to glyph it or not, Typhoon is an amazing utility that can save your ass and still have enough awesome left over to kill things.

Shooting Stars — if you for some reason don’t see any merit in taking this talent, you’re in the wrong spec entirely. Instant cast Starsurge procs are killer. KILLER.

Fourth Tier

Owlkin Frenzy — of debatable importance. You will see this proc far more often if you solo quest, as you’ll be hit by mobs quite frequently, so for the questing moonkin it’s certainly a good thing. For someone who runs dungeons a lot, though, presumably your tank is taking the hits and not you. Pass if you run dungeons primarily.

Gale Winds — a direct buff to your most powerful AoE ability? Yes please.

Solar Beam — hot stuff in any situation. Being able to silence healers and pesky casters saves you and your group quite the headache, and will be mandatory at the end game anyway.

Fifth Tier

Dreamstate — for now I find this talent to be pretty much mandatory for me. Extra mana from Innervate is a glorious thing if you like to spam Hurricane (which is a mana hog). You may find the need to cull talents from this later on if mana is not an issue. A more potent Innervate means less time spent on your ass drinking, which means more time killing things. Win.

Force of Nature — don’t leave the little trees homeless. Adopt your trees today. That means it’s mandatory.

Sunfire — it takes a bit of sleuthing to deduce why this is so good: Moonfire does arcane damage, which means that while you have a Solar eclipse proc up, Moonfire is not taking buffed damage. But this talent changes Moonfire to Sunfire, which does nature damage, thus benefitting from Solar eclipse. Nifty, huh?

Earth and Moon — you’d be crazy not to take this, as if effectively gives 10% increased damage to targets afflicted with this debuff.

Sixth Tier

Fungal Growth — meh. I never take this one. Maybe if you PvP a lot where slows would be a huge benefit to your team, then this talent is for you. But as it is, most things die fast enough that a little slow effect is pointless. I would save my points for something more directly benefiting damage.

Lunar Shower — buffs damage done by Moonfire, always good. It also pushes your eclipse meter back and forth a tad faster.

Final Tier

Starfall — oh come to mama. Starfall has had its…uh…its challenges over the years. It used to enjoy pulling mobs from miles away. I once ended up with no less than half (only slight exaggeration) of Dragonblight eating my face because a friend popped Starfall. It’s been revised and fixed since that time, though, so you shouldn’t fear using it. It’s a potent AoE that, when coupled with Hurricane, can mow down almost anything in seconds. It’s the grand overlord of AoE destruction and there is no way in hell you should even think about skipping this.

 

We’ll talk about Resto talent next, but in an effort to not pound you over the head with a 26-page post on talents, the next installment will be coming along in a day or two.

 

 

 

 

Druid Leveling 4.1 – 50-60

You’re in the home stretch towards Outland, where gear is better and quests reward more xp. If you’re running dungeons, you’re going to see a lot of Blackrock Depths, which can quickly become a nightmare with the wrong group. You’ll want to spend some time catching up on any trade skills you may have neglected, and don’t fret too much over getting the best gear, as it will soon be replaced. Enjoy your time in the revamped Azeroth, because it is quickly coming to an end.

Level 51:

A talent point goes here. Use it to grab whatever big-ticket spell or talent you didnt grab with your last talent point.

You’ve come in to your own as a healer now, as you’ve finally gotten your two biggest AoE group heals. Wild Growth is great for when the party is taking moderate to light damage, and you can even throw it up as an extra HoT on the tank if he’s taking a lot of damage. Efflorescence is one of your best talents, so if you didn’t take it for some dumb reason, rethink that. The bloom of healing on the ground is one of the more potent group heals in the game at any level. However, it does require some forethought to use it effectively. For example, you don’t want to use Swiftmend (which triggers Efflorescence, by the way) on a lone ranged DPS standing off on his own. The group healing effect is best used on…groups of people. So, cast it where several people are standing (such as on the tank so that melee DPS will also benefit) to use it to its full advantage.

Level 52:

Frenzied Regeneration is another tanking cooldown for bears. If you find yourself getting your face bashed in and your healer is struggling, pop it. You will be rage starved, but it’s better than dying.

Nature’s Grasp is fun in PvP, but has its uses in PvE as well. As a healer, if I find myself being beaten on and the tank isnt quick on the uptake, I’ll pop NG to root my attacker (without using a cast time for the roots spell, when my casting time is best spent healing) and run away. The same tactic works for balance druids, or kitties who don’t want to be beaten to death.

Level 53:

Talent point.

Level 54:

Rip. Rip is one of those things that comes late in the game but feels like it should have come much sooner. Then again, given the massive amount of abilities feral druids get, maybe it’s best to space them out a bit. Anyway, Rip is going to become one of the most important parts of a feral cat’s DPS rotation, and learning to manage its timing properly can mean the difference between good and bad DPS. While DPS should never be anyone’s top priority at level 54, you can bet it will be the closer you get to 85, so pay attention to Rip’s utility now. Rip is a bleed effect, which means it benefits from Mangle’s bleed-enhancing debuff. You will still want to use Mangle first to apply the debuff, then use Rake for its bleed, then start building up your combo points. You will want to Rip with at least 4, optimally 5 combo points for maximum damage. Because Rip is a DoT, you will want to be sure your target will live long enough to see it through. Don’t bother to Rip non-elite trash in a dungeon, for example, because they live about 10 seconds total and by the time you get Rip up they will be dead. Do Rip on bosses and harder trash mobs. Watch Rip’s timer and be sure you have combo points ready to refresh it when it expires (if your target is even still alive).

Level 55:

A talent point!

Level 56:

…nothing. Uh…continue on.

Level 57:

Talent point.

Level 58:

Barkskin is a defensive cooldown useful to all specs, though you’ll likely use it the most if you tank. The 1 minute cooldown means you’ll never have to worry about blowing it at the wrong time, and because it is useable in all forms you will never be popped out of bear or cat form when you use it.

At this point you are eligible to pass through the Dark Portal into Outland. It’s your call whether you go or stay, but considering that the newly revamped questing experience in Azeroth is (at least in popular opinion) vastly superior to Outland now, you might consider staying in Azeroth for a few more levels. You’ll want to move on at 60, though.

Level 59:

Talent point.

Level 60:

Congratulations. You’ll finally be able to purchase flight form (which is probably the best thing to happen to a gathering druid). A few fun things about druid flight form:

  • You can pick flowers while in flight form. However, you must be “landed” on the ground.
  • Survey (for archaeologists) will pop you out of flight form, but you can still use it while landed which makes for quick transport between dig sites.
  • You can loot corpses and items that have a cogwheel mouse icon without being landed. This makes things so much faster!
  • You can cast flight form while moving. Particularly useful while falling…
  • Night elves can use their racial, Shadowmeld, to exit combat (such as combat gained while mining/herbing a node) to quickly get back into flight form.
  • If you have ornery friends who like to kick you off two-person mounts mid air (or if for any reason you find yourself in mid air…) you have an instant cast flying mount to save you.
  • You look badass.

If you haven’t done so already, clear your quest logs and auction your old-world wares and head to Outland. In Outland, dungeon quests are no longer available just inside the instance portal like they were in Azeroth. You’ll have to do a bit of questing and digging to get your hands on them. Outland also puts a stop to reputation gains via faction tabards in dungeons. You’ll earn reputation for different Outland factions instead. However, you can still queue for and get reputation from level 60 Azeroth dungeons, so feel free to do so if you have a reputation close to exalted and want to finish it up.

It’s about that time when you begin to earn guild rep, and you’ll earn more guild rep for your time if you quest in addition to running dungeons as opposed to just running dungeons. When I hit Outland I had about 400 rep earned towards my guild and was earning 6 rep per quest turn in. Bear in mind my guild is level 25, so I get increased gains anyway.

Enjoy your time in Outland. It will be brief.

Druid Leveling 4.1 – 40-50

Level 41:

Nothing but a talent point.

Level 42:

Nothing, again.

Level 43:

A talent point! How exciting.

Level 44:

Hurricane! Finally balance druids are starting to get their arsenal of AoE spells. Hurricane is going to be a massive DPS boost for trash pulls, but it also eats up a ton of mana. Be picky about when you use it or you’ll spend more time drinking than you will DPSing. I don’t recommend using it on non-elite trash packs, as with other class’ AoE they will die too fast for your hurricane to be of any use, and you’ll have wasted the mana.

Level 45:

Another talent point.

Level 46:

Shred is going to become a mainstay in any feral cat rotation, so get used to using it. It requires you to be behind your target. You will want to Mangle to apply the debuff to your target, then Rake for its bleed effect, then spam Shred to fill up your combo points. Positioning shouldnt be an issue, as you should always be behind your target as melee anyway.

Level 47:

Talent point again.

Level 48:

Hibernate is the second of your crowd control options as a druid, the first being roots. Hibernate is useable on beasts and dragonkin, which reduces its usefulness. While questing you can use it to sleep an extra mob. You won’t see much use in instances until the later levels, as lower level groups rarely bother with CC. Off the top of my head, I know it comes in very handy in Grim Batol on the trash packs.

Level 49:

Talent point. Your 21st talent point will allow you access to some really nice spells, so rejoice. Let’s look at where to put it.

For resto druids, Efflorescence and Wild Growth are the top contenders. They are both heavy group heals, their only difference being positioning. Wild Growth hits everyone in the party regardless, whereas Efflorescence creates a healing circle on the ground that people must (but generally dont) stand in. Both are great choices for your talent point. Nature’s Cure is a must-have for end game content, but not so much right now. Nature’s Ward is nice but in my experience while PuG healing at this level it isn’t going to see much use. I took Wild Growth. Whichever one you don’t take, plan on grabbing it with your next talent point.

For Ferals, Survival Instincts sticks out as being the most useful for bear and cat druids alike. It is a damage reduction “oh shit” button that can save your ass. Primal Madness is great for kitties and a solid DPS boost. Natural Reaction is another good choice for bear tanks.I would take Survival Instincts if you tank, Primal Madness if you’re a cat.

Balance druids will likely gravitate towards one talent only: Force of Nature. Three treants to do your bidding on a small cooldown is a huge DPS boost for bosses or for “uh oh” moments when someone pulls to much and all hell breaks loose. The other 21 point talents are nice, but who wants those when you can have treants?

Level 50:

Yay! Congratulations. You’ll gain leather specialization, a passive skill that increases your primary attribute (your best stat depending on what spec you’re in) by 5% provided you are wearing all leather. At level 85, you should be wearing all leather with no exceptions. At level 50, you can still get away with cloth. If at all possible, try to stick to leather, but if you stumble across a piece of cloth that is vastly better, go for it. You’ll replace gear so fast at these levels anyway that fretting over your gear spec isn’t really worth it. Just remember that the higher level you get, the more that 5% will begin to make a difference.

You will gain access to your second tier of glyphs now, so be on the lookout for good auction house deals or crafty guildies to fill those. If you dont have it yet, I highly recommend the Swiftmend glyph for healing druids, as it will make your Efflorescence talent really shine. I also recommend the Glyph of Unburdened Rebirth for all specs.

Level 50 also provides you with your next class-specific quest (the first being at level 20). Head to your druid trainer to pick it up. The quest is called The Breath of Cenarius and I picked it up in Moonglade. It involves killing Pyromancer Loregrain, who is an optional boss in Blackrock Depths. Loregrain has the unfortunate distinction of being part of neither the Detention Block nor the Upper City segments of the instance, so most (if not all) groups will bypass him entirely. Be vocal, and eventually a helpful group will go out of their way to nab him for you. Kill him, loot the artifact from his body, and use it to close three portals nearby.