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.
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!