Monthly Archives: August 2011

To Level 30…and Beyond!

Dungeon Crawling

Lil Izza has made dungeon running her habit of choice as of late. I’ve given up trying to quest AND run dungeons: there just isnt enough experience per level to do both. So I’ll get back to questing shortly, but for now I’m enjoying blitzing through the lower levels. Level 30 came a lot faster than I expected.

And it’s around this level that my least favorite dungeons pop up, namely Gnomeregan and Stockades. I actually like them both fine (Stocks is boring as hell, though) but it’s the optional bosses that annoy me. People don’t want to do them. They bitch if you try to take any detour. The worst of them will promise that they will stick around to do them afterwards, and then bolt as soon as the end boss is killed. I don’t understand the idea of an “optional” boss at any level in any context. How many times have you killed Mindbender Ghur’sha in a PUG? Once? Twice? Because no one wants to take a brief detour down that optional hallway, just like no one wants to take a brief detour in Stocks to kill Overheat because you don’t HAVE to.

Thankfully I know Gnomeregan like the back of my hand. It’s really easy to get turned around in there. Unfortunately, it is not as easy to tell a PUG “go this way” because no one reads/listens to anyone but themselves. Like the one guy who bawled because I went the “wrong way” in the Electrocutioner’s room….which is a circle. You can go either way. There is no wrong way. Good grief, people.

It’s an exercise in patience, at the very least. I havent met a group yet that was content to let me pull. I’ve grown to ignore the warlocks who run ahead pulling and fearing. I grit my teeth through the shaman who thinks sending mobs flying every which way with Thunderstorm is good dungeon etiquette. I ignore the paladins who run with Righteous Fury on and the hunters who cannot figure out how to turn off Growl.

There needs to be an end-all be-all Holy Bible of sorts, a comprehensive “thou shalt not” list for beginning dungeon-goers. It needs to be an in-game item too, I think, that you can open and peruse at your leisure. And if you break any of the “do nots” it lists, it shocks the crap out of you.

Hammer and Anvil Adventures

Leveling blacksmithing is proving to be a chore, even at the low levels. Probably because I spend a lot of time in dungeons where there are no ore nodes to mine. I’m rectifying that currently. I’ve been running around gathering up as much ore as I can carry, since my blacksmithing is only at level 110.

I’ve been alternating dungeon runs with laps around Arathi and Western Plaguelands. I do about 4 or 5 dungeons and then make a few laps around collecting iron and gold. Arathi is nice because no one is ever there, meaning I don’t ever have to compete for nodes…but the iron nodes there are few and far between. WPL has more competition generally but almost 3 times as many nodes as Arathi, so one lap around the zone nets me two stacks of ore on average. That’s good, because everything I have at the moment that will skill me up requires 5-7 iron bars.

Devastate vs. Sunder Armor

This is a noob moment. Forgive me. I have been using Sunder Armor (glyphed so it hits two mobs at once) up until now. But since I hit 39 I spent my talent point and grabbed Devastate. What’s the difference? Devastate does damage. Okay. Great! Costs the same amount. Cool! But am I supposed to replace Sunder Armor with it? I’m assuming so.

 

So this post is actually really late. Iza is level 45 right now. That’s what happens when everything goes wrong all at once in real life and you have to put some things on the back burner but not others. Also school started and I’m pressed for time, which I dont general spend playing WoW anymore. Things will smooth out soon here once I get back in the flow of being a student again, but anyway. Yeah. Late post is late. Hopefully I will catch up the posts to my actual adventures here shortly!

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Reflections

Summer is over. It’s been interesting.

Lazy may be a better word.

I had good intentions for my time this summer, and between you and me I could not really afford to spend an entire 3 months on my butt. But part of life is rolling with the punches so to speak, and making the best of the hand you’re dealt.

I had grand ideas of spending my time volunteering at the hospital, maybe even getting a part time job somewhere fun and easy (Jamba was my top choice). I had a thousand great ideas to pad my application for grad school. And then Boy’s car broke down and we had to share mine. Since his job is the one that pays the bills, he got the wheels by default and I sort of just…languished.

It wasnt a BAD summer. Goodness no. I spent good times with friends and got to visit my family. I even went to the beach. But it was not how I saw my “last summer” as an undergrad going.

Eventually we will junk Boy’s car and purchase him a “new” one, and since I walk to school there is no urgent need for me to have my car all to myself. We’ll patch things up and move along like we always do. Life, and so forth.

I played a lot of WoW because I had nothing else to do, really. Aside from household chores like laundry and dishes, I have nothing really to DO here. I watch Netflix (Flashpoint and the Tudors are amazing) and sometimes play another game like Plants vs. Zombies but it was mostly WoW. And I got a lot done, sure. I accomplished a lot. New titles, new mounts, new pets…new gear. It’s all something to show off and, sure, I’m sorta proud of it in game, but…

If someone gave you 3 months and limitless opportunities to better yourself, would you really be proud to say you spent it playing WoW?

Izza vs. The Dungeon Finder: Round One…FIGHT!

Orc Sea Dog says: I may or may not have pissed myself.

Uh…that’s great, dude…*thumbs up*

 

 

Little Izza hit level 15 a while ago and I took her into the Deadmines for some pirate-slaughtering fun. It was interesting. Successful, but interesting.

I don’t know why people insist on ignoring etiquette in low level dungeons. It makes it very difficult to tank things when someone pulls before I can even get close enough to hit the mob. Then everything scatters and I cant get aggro, which means no rage, which means no nothing. So long as no one has the stones to bitch to me about a problem they’re causing, I guess I can just deal with it.

Ragefire Chasm is the bane of any decent player’s low-level existence. They really need to fix it so that the “end” boss is not the first boss in the dungeon. Every time, without fail, we kill Taragaman the Hungerer and then the group bails. Since you’ve already completed the dungeon technically, you can’t queue for more…it’s a pretty big oversight by the dungeon planning department.

Also, anyone who joins a dungeon with Rez Sickness ought to be tracked down and clubbed over the head with their own keyboard. Repeatedly.

Most of my “tanking” consists of taunting things and spamming Sunder Armor. And, because groups these days seem to lack any sense of manners, a lot of cursing under my breath.

Silverpine Forest

I just finished the final quests in Silverpine. Gotta say, one of my favorite zones so far in the old world. I feel a little guilty causing havoc for the Worgen, being a Worgen lover at heart, and kidnapping Lorna makes me feel all kinds of dirty…but the quests are so incredibly fun I find myself not caring. I really wish the opposing quests were available for Worgen, because it seems pretty harsh that they don’t get to see the end to their own story line. Having an entire Alliance camp in southern Silverpine where you work to deter the Horde onslaught would be oodles of fun.

Unfortunately I think my determination to run each dungeon as I level up is forcing me to outlevel Hillsbrad before I even get there. Oh well.

Glyphs

I picked up Glyph of Sunder Armor and Glyph of Cleaving for cheap off the Auction House. No idea if they’re optimal for me, but they were at least affordable.

 

In Other News

I have continued my pet collecting habit in earnest over the past few weeks. I picked up the last Alliance Argent Tournament pet I needed, purchased a few of the Horde ones at low(ish) prices off the AH, and even got the last crocodile pet from the Outland fishing daily. Finally!

I grabbed the bear and the lasher from the Hyjal dailies and was extremely surprised (and happy!) to see the Scorched Stone in my daily cache. The little fire elemental is a welcome addition to my wee elemental collection.

I was able to buy a special promotion trading card pet as part of a pre-sale thing over on Warcraftpets.com and while I was checking out that purchase I noticed that another TCG pet was on sale for 4 bucks. Uh, yes please! So I bought those two for about 15 bucks total. I’m not in the habit of spending real money on fake things, but for such low prices I can’t feel too guilty.

I also got Mojo a week or so ago while running Zul’Aman with the guild. In that same run I think I also got the achievement for unhexing all of the people. Yay!

And to cap off the rare drops, two days ago I was questing in Stranglethorn just for the quest achievements and picked up the Razzashi Hatchling! It dropped off of Tethis, the quest mob that caps off Hemet’s “kill a zillion raptors for no reason” quest chain. Apropos, right?

I recently saw a Deviate Hatchling on the AH for 200 gold starting bid (800 buyout) and thought I would be crafty and bid on it…and lost. So now I’m irritatedly farming for it off and on.

I’m still working on the Crawling Claw. Almost 40 Tol’Vir solves and I have the mount and the ring and…something else. But it isnt the pet so I don’t care.

Izza and Darnell, Sittin’ in a Tree…

…probably not kissing because Izza is missing her lower lip…

But I really do like Darnell. I have created some sort of (depraved) narrative in my head in which Darnell and Izza fall in love. It’s the kind of love only corpses can feel: cold, distant, smells kinda funky…and it gives a whole new meaning to the term “boning”.

Don’t look at me like that.

Anyway. I’m running around Deathknell hacking up my less-intelligent brethren and wondering how exactly I can see with no eyes, and why Darnell just stands there and lets me get beat on without helping. He’s probably the type of guy to rush in and loot a quest object off the floor while I do all the dirty work clearing to it…oh hell. It’s like questing with The Boy.

Darnell is forgiven; he plays hacky-sack with the corpses of Scarlet Crusade members and can carry six at a time on his shoulders. /swoon

Steady now, don't drop them!

On a more serious note, I absolutely love the mood of the entire Deathknell experience. Helping newly turned Forsaken accept who they are? Best quest in the zone. Seeing who those Forsaken become as a result? Even better.

I feel like they should remove the chance to miss for melee and spell attacks below level 10. I’ve died twice now because, while fighting one mob my level, my only melee attack (Strike) missed twice and they mob killed me before I could kill it. That doesn’t seem entirely…right…

It gets better as I get a few more levels under my belt. And also actually get a belt. Turns out I was kinda running around in my skivvies.

I took Blood and Thunder as my first talent. Seemed a safe choice since I probably don’t need extra armor at the moment and I don’t have Heroic Strike just yet.

I just hit level 15. Time to run a few dungeons. That is for another post, though. Ta!

The Next Project

Meet Izza.

That would be short for Itzalotl, which in turn is short for Itzpapalotl, only I removed the P’s because I have a strange aversion to the letter P. Itzpapalotl is a skeletal Aztec warrior goddess of the underworld…does any of that NOT scream Forsaken to you? Anyway, it took me like six weeks to pick a name and even though Itzalotl is kinda strange off the tongue I refuse to go back and look for a replacement. If I keep talking I am going to rant about how the Greeks have a minor god for every damned situation imaginable (patron god of shitting in a dirt hole!) so we’ll just go from there.

Anyway…

Another Guide?

I don’t have the stomach for another lengthy “how to” guide. More to the point, the warrior is the one class in WoW that I confess I do not know how to play. Never had a warrior at the level cap, never seriously looked at gear or rotations or even specs. It is the unknown. This should be fun!

She is on the same server as Nthati, my project druid (Zangarmarsh US-H) to allow for fostering if need be.

I am going to be writing a series of pseudo-guide posts that chronicle my adventures as a warrior. They will be mostly for entertainment (for me as much as you, I hope). I will most likely talk about low level tanking techniques, what I learned, mistakes I made, etc. These posts will likely encompass some sort of actual, useable information, but it’s not my intention to map out talent trees or prattle on about how to level effective in Fury spec or whatever. Nope. I have only a few weeks of summer left and I’m going to poke around in a more laid-back manner.

This little warrior isnt going to replace my focus on Nthati either. I’ll be playing them both, and writing about them both, and of course still writing about my main druid.

I don’t think I will level very fast, so you won’t see these little posts popping up left and right twice a week. Then again, I could get into a groove and knock out half the game in a few days. Who knows.

The Plan

I am going to level via questing, and run each dungeon a maximum of one time. I find this works the best given how fast I tend to level. I love the undead questing zones so much I don’t want to bomb through them in an hour because I spent time in a dungeon.

Izza will be Protection originally, and then will dual spec to Fury later on. I will queue as both tank and DPS and see what happens. I will not keep two separate sets of armor until probably level 80.

Izza will become a blacksmith and a miner. Like the warrior class, I have never thoroughly leveled blacksmithing (which I hear is a pain in the butt). Thankfully Nthati is a miner as well so I can funnel mats in as needed…as well as gold.

I’m going to mail myself 100 gold to start with to cover the initial costs of everything. After that I am going to try to keep Izza autonomous if possible by auctioning extra mats and such.

I am going to quest through Tirisfal, Silverpine, and Hillsbrad. After that, we’ll see where I end up.

In Other News

Nthati is chugging along through the regular Cataclysm instances, tearing through her Molten Front dailies, and just generally making a nuisance of herself in all manner of things. She’s already got the iLevel for heroics but I’m not confident enough yet to poke my head in one. Going to replace a few more pieces of gear with justice point items, reinstall Recount to get a feel for my DPS (it was linked in a Grim Batol run at 8k, I need to know if that was a fluke or if I can actually sustain that, or better). Then I will start running heroics. I’m also paying extra close attention to my rotation and cooldowns trying to get it all right and squeeze out the best DPS I can. It’s a new arena for me since I usually heal and couldnt care less. It’s been fun.

I am in the process of overhauling the site. It may look completely different in the next few days. At the top of my list is a cleaner site layout with tabs for guides and such so people can find things easier. Hopefully I can pull that off.

 

 

I Get High with a Little Help from My Friends…

That 29,000 gold purchase I mentioned I made?

RAWR!

Yup.

Dragon. Sandstone Drake, to be precise.

A big, huge, ultra-mega-thanks to my guild, who as soon as they heard I was whipping this thing up showered upon me all the help I could possibly ever want. Several people donated truegold, or mats for truegold, or cooldowns to make truegold. Others still crafted potions for me, or helped me hunt down an alchemist who could make the end result. It’s one of the many reasons I love my guild so much. I didn’t ask for help; I just got it. I couldn’t be more grateful. Honorable mentions? You bet.

Adra, The Boy, Manda and Alma for truegold transmutes and lots of them.

Adra again for making the potions (if I remember correctly…I dealt with a lot of alchemists…)

Nani and Syraeda for donating extra volatiles.

Aish for dropping a crap ton of truegold on my head. I feel like I owe her my first born child or something. Seriously crazy-nice donation.

And Barnaught, who was awesome enough to make the dragon for me once I got the mats together.

If it werent for these folks I’d probably still be farming mats. I cannot thank them enough. Free dragon rides for life! Just, please, no “mile high” club on my back…

The Process

If you’re looking into getting this mount for yourself, you’ll need to have bare minimum 29,000 gold. That doesnt take into effect goblin discounts, though, so if you’re a goblin or know one, the end price may be cheaper.

The dragon is only made by alchemists with a 450 skill in archaeology. Even then, they have to dig up and piece together a Canopic Jar from the Tol’vir artifacts and hope that it has the recipe inside. It’s only about a 10% chance, too, so expect the availability of alchemists who can make this to be very low.

The mats for this recipe are as follows: 12 truegold, 8 Flask of Titanic Strength, 8 Flask of the Winds, and 8 Deepstone Oil. Then you have to purchase a pyrium laced vial and 8 sand of time from Yasmin in Uldum.

That further breaks down into 36 pyrium bars, 120 volatile air, water, and fire, 128 volatile life, 128 whiptail, 64 cinderbloom, 64 Azshara’s veil, 16 crystal vial, and 8 albino catfish.

You’ll also need to purchase 1 pyrium laced vial for 4,000 gold and 8 sand of time for 3,000 gold each. See where the gold investment comes in? Ouch.

So you can understand now why farming these mats all on my own was a huge undertaking. I spent hours, literally, flying up and down the river in Uldum picking whiptail, and equally as long circling Tol Barad picking Azshara’s veil from the water. I spent hours over the course of two days fishing in Hyjal for volatile water, at a rate of maybe 1-2 waters per every 3-4 pools. I hijacked as much from my alts as I could, and then got small donations from guildies to fill in the rest.

I think overall about 60-70% of the total mats I farmed myself, with the remaining percent coming in from generous folks in my guild.

If you’re planning on making this and NOT planning on spending more money than you have to, here’s a bit of advice: get friendly with an alchemist and an herbalist. Maybe even a miner, if you’re none of the above yourself. I mean real friendly. I wont tell your mother.

Buying all those mats off the AH will turn a 29k gold drake into a one million gold drake easily, so unless you’re the richest bastard in WoW, I highly recommend farming as much of it yourself as possible.

Leave some room in your wallet for a tip.

Fun stuff: as a druid I can switch out of the dragon form high in the air, pop over to flight form, and let my poor passenger float all…the way….down…

Works especially well for the, ah, heavier passengers out there…

Ow, my back.

Looking Back on 85 Levels of Druidyness

I started this leveling guide with the intent of providing useful information level by level for new druids. Given some of the comments along the way, I’m hoping I at least succeeded in lifting a bit of the mystery away from the class. Druids are a jack of all trades and the only class in WoW that can actually fill all four roles. While the saying usually goes “jack of all trades, master of none” I feel that in competent hands a druid can be as powerful and as dangerous as he/she wants.

I’m certainly no stranger to the class, having played a druid since 2005, and having healed raids since late Burning Crusade, but I admit I learned a little along the way. I learned that a moonkin with all her cooldowns ready in an eclipsed state is a serious force of destruction. I learned that low level druid healers feel a tad gimped, and I constantly yearned for Wild Growth. I learned that people still like to blame the healer for even the slightest problem in a group.I learned that druids are masters of solo play with far more tools for survival than I gave them credit for. I learned that even after leveling my umpteenth druid (third to level cap) that I am still madly in love with the class.

I wrote this guide as a leveled, so each level’s information was written as I was physically experiencing it. I feel like that helped the overall quality of the information. It was my goal that low level druids could come to these guides, look up their specific level bracket, and poke around for information that pertained to them. I may later go back and reorganize them to make them clearer in some way, but not now.

Furthermore, the talent analysis section was my favorite and by far the greatest learning experience for me. I’ve spent so much time at the level cap over the years that “leveling” builds evade my understanding. Why would I take a leveling talent for raiding? Thankfully nowadays the talent system is so streamlined that there really is no wrong choice when it comes to talents, and regardless of where you spend yours talent points first or last, you’ll get the same bang for your buck. For years now I’ve just dumped my talent points into their respective tree without even reading the talents themselves. I read them if they undergo some sorta change, sure, but I dont go back and read every talent over again each time talents are reset. It was refreshingly informative to really sit down and read each talent, analyze it, think about it, and write about it. I discovered some things about druids I didnt already know. Granted they were for specs I don’t normally play, but you get the point. My overall feeling is that talent tree analyses like mine were probably the best part of the series. Maybe, maybe not, but I did enjoy them.

Other Things I Enjoyed:

The revamped questing experience in Azeroth is bar-none by favorite thing about this expansion. I used to plow through endless dungeons in order to avoid the old world questing zones, but now I almost cant kick the urge to avoid dungeons in favor of questing. Less drama, less time, less irritation all around. The fact that most zones culminate in some sort of epic questing adventure that awards blue quality gear just satisfies my itch for good gear while I level.

Healing dungeons is my safe zone. Maybe that makes me nuts, I dunno. Especially in the higher levels where everyone gets scrutinized in the most malicious of ways, I’d much rather be doing something I know by heart than fumbling to do something I’m still learning. This is a double edged sword, though.

I loved my guild as I leveled up. I picked it purposefully because I knew there would always be people on should I find myself in need of help, and also because I knew it would be drama free and full of like-minded people who just want to relax and have fun. As shy as I am, I havent said much yet, but I’m hoping now that my project is over I can get gear for heroics and run with some of my guildies for fun.

Leveling as a boomkin was a blast. I havent done it before, not like this. I have another level 85 balance druid but he leveled as feral until almost 85. I have a level…eh…probably 60ish balance druid but I rarely play her. Questing as a moonkin was a blast. If anyone ever asks me “which spec I lvl in LOL?!” I will say moonkin. “But I herd FERALZ -” No. Moonkin. End of story. I just flat destroyed everything I came into contact with. Elites? Pft. Group quests? Ha! It says three or more players…how cute! As long as I could keep myself from being beaten on, I could nuke anything into the ground with no trouble.

Things I Didn’t Enjoy So Much:

The leveling experience just goes by so fast. I didn’t even have heirlooms on and I was blowing through the levels at lightning speed. My guild does have the experience perk, and I know they retooled the quests and dungeons to give more experience, but daaamn. It felt like I was missing half the content because as soon as I got to it, it was beneath me. I like being able to queue for dungeons while I quest but I started feeling like I had to pick one or the other. If I ran even one dungeon (especially in the lower levels) then I outleveled my quest log by the time that dungeon was over. And heaven forbid I should end up one mob short of a dungeon quest and have to go back in. I eventually just started deleting quests I didn’t finish in dungeons because I couldn’t afford to run them more than once. I love the new Azeroth but next time I think I will focus on questing, not dungeon crawling.

Looking back on it, I probably should have chosen a spec I don’t normally play. While I love resto, I think going feral and tanking instances might have been more of a stretch for me, and might have made a more interesting guide. My main druid is indeed a tank, but that is not the same as being a low level bear just starting out. Food for thought for next time, I guess.

The guide got kind of boring, at least to me, in the later stages of the game. Once you leave Azeroth it seems like all your core abilities are already learned and you only get talent points from then on out. I got really tired of writing “oh look…another talent point…wheee” every level in the 60+ parts of the guide. If I were to write another leveling guide, I think I would change the format a bit to alleviate the doldrums.

Writing a guide from the perspective of four separate and wildly different specs was a real challenge and I dunno if I did it justice. Certainly I know all four specs well, but that doesnt mean that knowledge transferred over into writing.

On a non-guide related note, I didn’t like how the character progression from Northrend to Cataclysm goes. It’s not very seamless, in my opinion. You quest around in the snow for a while and then when you hit 80 suddenly you’re whisked away to another place entirely. And if you’re in Northrend quest gear, as many people will be, then you’re health pool is low enough to be one-shot and your spells and attacks do nothing and you can get pretty frustrated right out of the gate in Hyjal or Vashj’ir. I know I did. On top of that your iLevel is too low to queue for dungeons, so even if you get burned out questing you won’t be able to queue. The only real remedy I could find was to run level 80 Wrath dungeons until you have solid blue gear, but that is counter intuitive to the fact that you get almost no experience for level 80 stuff once you hit level 80. Maybe I’m just grumbling and waving my cane around for no reason.

I wanted to try PvP. I did. I know I normally abhor it, but I wanted to give it a shot. I just never did. This kinda goes along with the “leveling too fast” complaint above.

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Overall though, and if pageviews are any indication, I think the guide was a success. There are some things I liked (talent analysis, no cookie cutter specs, play-by-play leveling) and some things I didn’t (trying to cram info for four specs into one guide, repetitive later levels, etc.) It’s been a lot of fun to write and I hope just as much fun to read, even if you don’t give a whit about druids. Will I do another guide in the future like this? No, probably not. It took a lot of time and effort and I only have a few weeks left of my summer vacation and 5 classes in the fall, so regardless of desire I just won’t have the time. I do, however, have another little project planned and a pseudo-guide to go along with it. Stick around for that announcement in the following days.

What’s next for my project druid? Well, Nthati is already heroic-ready thanks to about 45 minutes chasing stupid Thrall and Aggra around and doing the first tier of the Firelands dailies. Seriously, if you want a quick way to boost your iLevel, Hyjal is the way to go. I am going to finish the Twilight Highlands for more gear and rep, then start queuing myself for random normal dungeons until I feel comfortable enough to hit up heroics (preferably with guild accompaniment). Will I ever raid on her? No. Very likely not. I already have one druid raiding and that’s enough.

So my little project is finally over. Bittersweet, I suppose. I’m going to take a break from leveling anything for a little while and just poke around the Firelands to see what mischief I can get myself into. I have a few posts planned in the meantime for silly little things.

Thanks to everyone who read and commented!

Druid Leveling Guide 4.1 — 80-85

Here’s the game plan for the following five levels:

I am going to run each dungeon once. I’m going to focus on questing because I am jonesing for guild rep. I am going to hit Hyjal, then Deepholm, then head right to Twilight Highlands when I hit 84.

I’m going to continue to address each level as I earn them, but a lot of what is contained in this section of the guide won’t pertain to individual levels. I’m going to do my best to address issues such as item level requirements, dungeon running, and Mastery as they pertain to a first-time druid. This guide was never designed to be a comprehensive look at stat values or rotations or anything raid-worthy, so if you feel you’ve mastered yourself well enough to be needing that kind of info, I will include links at the bottom of this post to direct you to some of that information.

Without further ado, let us start our journey to level 85.

First on the agenda:

Mastery and You: A Beginner’s Guide to the Stat

What is mastery?

Mastery is a stat, like crit or hit, that directly affects your character’s DPS or healing output, or their ability to tank. You’ll find mastery on Cataclysm level gear.

Do I need mastery?

Sure. It’s always a good thing to have. Unlike stats like hit, which only help those who actually do damage, mastery helps all classes, all specs, and all roles.

How good is mastery for a druid?

Mastery is a “good” stat for any druid. However, where it ranks among other good stats different between the specs.

For resto druids in end-level raiding gear, mastery edges out haste for the top stat. For a newly level 80 to 85 resto druid, though, you will want to take haste over mastery until you have hit the haste cap (which is beyond the scope of this guide, see links below for more info).

For a balance druid, mastery increases the damage you do while in an eclipsed state, so of course that makes mastery a useful stat for you. However, don’t neglect haste or crit, because you only spend about 80% of your total rotation in an eclipsed state.

Feral druids have two different masteries that will benefit either the cat or the bear. For the bear, mastery increases the amount of damage you can absorb when Savage Defense procs. Because bears do not have shields and thus cannot block, nor can they parry, dodge and absorbs are the bear’s biggest ways to mitigate incoming damage. This makes mastery a fine tool for surviving bigger hits. For the cat, mastery is a direct DPS increase. Much of a cat’s DPS is tied up in bleeds, and mastery increases bleed damage.

So is mastery a good stat? Yes. It seems to be. Take it where you can but don’t neglect your other stats.

Cataclysm Instances: Not the Same as Wrath Instances

I feel I need to do a public-service type announcement here real quick. I don’t want to contribute to the number of whiny, screaming babies already in the dungeon queue after all. Having just come from Wrath-level dungeons, I am well aware how nearly every pull is an AoE-fest with no regard for kill order or anything of that sort. It works because everyone overpowers the content due to guild perks or heirlooms or what have you. This does not work in Cataclysm. It worked for a little while at the beginning because people were stepping out of Icecrown Citadel in epic gear and could muscle through the content, but it doesn’t work that way anymore. Your average person now is coming fresh out of questing in Storm Peaks and Icecrown, and are bedecked in quest greens from Hyjal and Vashj’ir.

It is at this point where you really need to learn to understand your class and how it functions within a group. You cant just sit and spam Wrath or Mangle or pick your nose and expect to still see things die. You will have to get your rotation down and at the same time be aware of things like crowd control, which I’m guessing you havent used thus far. You’ll also have to figure out how not to die from environmental hazards on bosses, which adds a whole other level to being aware.

With a decent group, Blackrock Caverns and Throne of Tides can be pretty gentle in the initiation of a new level 80 druid, but don’t expect the same treatment in later dungeons. Here are a few tips for a beginning druid to keep in mind while dungeon crawling in Cataclysm:

  • Crowd control is king, and you have a lot of it. Roots are excellent against melee mobs (poor against ranged or casters), Hibernate can take care of dragons or beasts, and cyclone is there if something goes wrong. Don’t let over confident people bully you into running sloppy dungeons. Speak up if you feel CC needs to be used, especially if you’re the healer.
  • A feral cat is still capable of tanking should the need arise. If your tanks dies, don’t hesitate to pop into bear and taunt wayward mobs. You just might save the day.
  • Never stand in anything on the ground ever. If you didnt put it there, get the heck out.
  • If you’re not using your Innervate, give it to a healer. They’ll love you long time.
  • Get used to focusing fire on one mob. AoE is still viable on some pulls, but most of the time (with a competent group, anyway) you’ll be working around CC’d mobs that you really dont want to break. Single target attacks only.
  • If you’re tanking, remember that glyphed Maul hits two targets, which means it can and totally will break CC. This is my biggest issue as a bear tank. I maul the sheep all the time and it makes me sad.
  • Learn to watch your own crowd control timers. Nothing says incompetence like letting a mob’s CC run in the middle of battle and having it wipe the group. There are add ons that can help here but honestly I find just setting my CC target as a focus target and keeping an eye on the debuff works, too.
  • You can and should be interrupting any spell cast you see. Not just heals, either. Some trash mobs and bosses have immensely powerful AoE or other attacks that need to be interrupted quickly, which is a skill you must have in order to tackle heroics.

Now let’s take a quick look at the two starting level 80 zones. Ultimately whichever one you choose to quest in is up to you, and most people end up doing both for the achievements.

Hyjal:

Hyjal is my pick, especially since I’m a druid. It’s doubly important if you ever want to get into the Firelands quest chains and dailies, since you must do a majority of the Hyjal quest line to unlock them. Hyjal also seems to go quicker, in my opinion at least. I love the scenery and I love the fact that everyone there is a druid, or allied with druids, or helping the druids. Druids! Zone bonus: a non combat pet, awarded from the jousting quests.

Vashj’ir:

The underwater zone is one of my favorites, though I think I’m in the minority here. Many people seem to be irritated by the underwater mechanics, and I have to admit they annoy me too at times. The zone is also vast, and multidimensional, which confuses me sometimes when I dont know exactly where that stupid ? is on my map. The underwater topography is often difficult to navigate, but the scenery with the massive reefs couldnt be more splendid. Overall though the quests get tedious and there is one point where you swim back and forth across the zone several times in a row for quests and I always dread that part. Don’t let me dissaude you though; Vashj’ir is fun too. Zone bonus: a seahorse mount awarded at the start of the zone.

And now, on with the leveling.

Level 81:

I’m getting my ass kicked out here in Hyjal. My spells barely dent the mobs and I get pummeled half to death each time I pull something. Always nice to be humbled, I guess. I have found that I need to work Roots into my rotation as well as Typhoon to keep mobs off me. If you’re getting your face bashed in, you might try it as well. You will be awarded Thrash at this level, which ramps up your ability to obtain and keep multi-target threat as a tank. Use it on cooldown.

Level 82:

Another talent point, another level. I’m in far better shape than I was at level 82, much thanks to replacing Wrath-level quest crap with Cataclysm-level quest crap. It’s annoying how little my healing spells help now. If I’m in trouble I’ve learned to just Dash away instead of trying to heal myself.

Level 83:

Toodling around Deepholm, one of my least favorite zones. I think it’s all the monotony of rock. A miner’s paradise, though. I have made a crap ton of gold in just a few days, nearly doubling my coin purse. It’s almost sad, really. My baby project druid almost has as much money as my main druid. Then again, my main druid just spent 29,000 gold on something. Something. We’ll talk about that later. Anyway.

I recommend Deepholm, in case you were somehow thinking you’d skip it. You have to do it anyway to unlock the Therazane faction and the only source of shoulder enchants for non-scribes. Just get it over with.

You get Stampeding Roar here. I…don’t know what to say about Stampeding Roar. It feels so lackluster for a level 83 skill. I want to poke it with a sharp stick just to see if it’s hiding something better inside. It’s just a roar that increases movement speed of party/raid members around you for a few seconds. Possible applications: moving your group’s slow ass out of the fire/lava/ice/thunder/whatever. Okay, sure. But when fire starts spewing everywhere, are you really going to have the presence of mind to hit a button? Probably not. You’ll probably just be running. And the chances that more than one person are within SR’s tiny range is also small. It may be nice in PvP, such as in arenas, but I don’t PvP so I dont know.

Know where I use it the most? When the group wipes are we’re running back through the dungeons. Yeah.

Level 84:

I hit Twilight Highlands immediately upon reaching 84. The gear iLevel is higher which means it gets you closer to running level 85 dungeons and heroics. That said, I thought the opening quests for the Horde side of TwiHi were a lot more fun than Alliance. Even so, the Dragonmaw’s…er…architecture makes me very sad. Dead and dismembered dragons everywhere. Just pushing my way towards 85 as best I can. TwiHi is your best bet if you’re trying to get into heroics right away. The end quests all award iLevel 333 gear. You should also be hitting up Lost City, Halls of Origination, and Grim Batol for gear.

Level 85:

You’ll finally get your Wild Mushrooms here. They’re a huge part of the Balance druid’s DPS, so don’t forget to lay them out every time.

You’re eligible for heroics now, though I doubt you have the iLevel required to queue for them. To rectify that, I would recommend grabbing up the Cataclysm faction rep tabards and running the three dungeons I mentioned above until exalted to purchase gear. Check every rep vendor available to you for upgrades. Get yourself over to the Hero’s Call board in your capital city and pick up the quest to begin your Molten Front assault. The dailies will provide a massive amount of guild rep plus access to high level vendors for gear. If you didn’t play through Hyjal at level 80, you’ll need to go back and do so now if you wish to participate in the Firelands dailies.

Further Reading

I did not intend this guide to include strategy and advice for level 85 druids. It was meant solely as a leveling guide for those unfamiliar with the class. Given that, I’m not going to discuss gearing, gemming, rotations or anything like that here. There is already a plethora of good information around the internet, and I’d feel like I was only regurgitating it. If you feel like you’ve mastered the basics and are ready to truly test yourself, here are some related readings for the heroic-ready druid.

Ah! Bears! Cataclysm Tanking — a stickied thread on the official forums that I use as my go-to reference for everything bear.

Restokin — a druid healing blog with a ton of great guides and information. If you heal, check it out.

Syrco Owl — another druid blog, this time for moonkins.

Shifting Perspectives — always a wealth of information for all of the druid’s roles.

Elitist Jerks — if you have an appetite for numbers and min/maxing, EJ has everything you require to push yourself.

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So that’s it folks. We’ve gone from level 1 to level 85. It took some time and a lot of effort on my part, but for what it’s worth I’m glad to have another level 85 druid. I am going to write a “brief” wrap-up sort of post reflecting on my little adventure here in the next few days, and that will conclude our druidy adventures here. I have a lot more up my sleeve for the future so if you even remotely enjoyed the druid guide, hang around. As always, thanks for reading.