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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.