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!
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.
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.
Nothing here, unfortunately.
A talent point.
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.
You unlock the last set of glyph spots.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
These points be talented.
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.
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.
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.
Nothing but a talent point.
A talent point! How exciting.
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.
Another talent point.
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.
Talent point again.
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.
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?
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.
As you progress through your 30s your rotation will start to look a little bit more like what it will be at level 85.
Balance druids in particular will get a shake-up with the Eclipse mechanic. It’s not truly important to your DPS right now to adhere to Eclipse’s procs, but it will be at higher levels, so practice as best you can. Trash still dies so fast in dungeons I find I only have time to cast Moonfire and Insect swarm and maybe Wrath once before they’re dead. The key to Eclipse is to keep your meter moving as quickly as possible to the opposite end. The tracker will always start in the center. If you cast Starfire it will move towards the sun; casting Wrath will move it towards the moon. Starsurge will contribute to whichever direction the meter was currently moving. When the meter hits either the sun or the moon, you will gain an Eclipse effect. A solar eclipse (meter hits the sun) will empower your Wrath spell, so cast that exclusively (with Starsurge, of course). A lunar eclipse (meter hits the moon) will empower your Starfire spell, so cast that. Again, most things die too fast to really give you a sense of how the meter should work, but on longer boss fights the mechanic really shines. For questing it’s almost moot. Both DoTs and a few Wraths usually kill things for me, eclipse or no eclipse. Typhoon is a fun spell in that it knocks enemies back. Good for solo questing, bad for dunegons (unless all hell broke loose and the tank is dead anyway) because the knockback effect makes tanks very angry. Don’t use it in dungeons.
Kitties have the most abilities, but the simplest rotation for the moment. Mangle to apply the debuff, Rake to apply the bleed, Mangle until dead. Quest mobs and most dungeon trash die fast enough that you will not have time to rack up points for a Ferocious Bite, but for boss fights, you will want to gain four or five combo points to use with Bite. Keep Rake’s bleed up at all times. Swipe if there are multiple mobs in a pull. At this point whether or not you open from stealth is a matter of personal preference. If you choose to stealth between mobs, whether questing or running dungeons, use Ravage to open your attacks. In dungeons, though, groups move so fast and things die so quickly that I find stealth just hinders my contributions.
Bears should be having little trouble with threat right now, with Swipe and a glyphed Maul at their disposal. Charge your target and Swipe immediately if more than two mobs. Establishing threat early is important, as inevitably your DPS have all selected separate targets. Mangle your main target, Swipe on cooldown so long as three or more targets remain alive. Glyphed Maul will hold two targets. If you don’t have the glyph, Swipe is your only option. Maul single/double targets, Swipe three or more.
Healing druids will find themselves in the midst of a dry spell for many more levels. No new spells, no new toys, just three basic heals and one “oh shit” button. And truthfully, we don’t need much more than that. Keep Rejuvenation on the tank at all times (it’s mitigation will keep you from having to spam larger heals most of the time) and use it to top off any DPS who gets smacked around. Regrowth should still be used sparingly when the tank needs a big heal, and its HoT combined with Rejuvenation’s HoT is a powerful force. Nourish will fill in the gaps where Rejuvenation isn’t quite strong enough. If all goes well, you’ll be spending the majority of your mana on Rejuvenation.
Naught but a talent point, move along…move along.
Bash is a bear ability used to stun an opponent for a few seconds. I use it primarily to interrupt spells or heals, but it is nice just to spare yourself the extra damage you might otherwise take. Bosses are generally immune to being stunned, so dont waste the cooldown.
Pounce is fun if you prefer to open from stealth while in cat form. Again, I still feel like it’s more efficient to attack unstealthed while questing and instancing, but you have options now if you would like to creep around in stealth.
Track Humanoids requires you to be in cat form. It works the same way any hunter tracking spell works: the tracked target will show up on your minimap. Combined with prowl, this can be quite useful in locating quest mobs or rare spawns in places like caves or barracks.
Just a talent point here.
Nothing new here, either. You’ll start seeing dry spells like this more frequently as you progress into higher levels, considering you’ve already learned a good chunk of the spells and abilities you’ll learn.
Swipe (cat form) is the only multi-target attack you’ll get as a kitty.
Nothing at all.
Nothing…again. Sensing a pattern?
Keep moving towards 40.
Ah, at last. It feels like a long haul with so few new abilities, but get used to it…especially if you plan to heal. Level 40 may not be the epic achievement it was back in the early days of WoW, but it’s still no small feat. You’ll earn your epic riding skill finally, and be well on your way to bigger and better things.
The only new skill you’ll learn is actually a passive ability for bears. Savage Defense is basically a damage reduction ability that has a 50% chance to occur whenever you critically hit with Mangle or Maul. Not exciting for level 40, but still better than nothing.
Now is a good time to go back and acquire any glyphs you may be needing, rearrange your current talent points if you’ve the need, grab a second spec, etc.
I will make the push to 50 as fast as I can. In the interim, I may be writing a guide for your first 16 talent points to fill in the gap.
Hopefully by now you’ve gotten into some sort of groove with your druid. You know your role and you know how to behave in a group. The next ten levels will go by just as fast, with just as much stuff being thrown at you. Ferals especially will see a barrage of new skills they will have to learn to use. Your ability to perform two roles with one spec is dwindling. At this point you should be queuing only for the role you spec’d to play, though you are still capable of filling another role in a tight spot (like, say, if the healer drops group during a pull, you can still toss up heals and be quite effective). This is about the point, I find, where people begin to notice if you aren’t the proper spec, and may say something. If you’re questing to level, then it’s of no concern to you, but be cautious when queuing for a role you are not spec’d to fulfill.
Without further ado, let’s look at the next ten levels.
Nothing new here. Even if you are focusing on questing, I recommend grabbing the level 20 druid quest from a trainer and popping into Shadowfang Keep for an awesome staff.
Feral druids get bombarded with three new abilities this level: Enrage, Ravage, and Skull Bash. Enrage will solve you rage woes in bear form. Hit it before you pull to load up on rage, because if you haven’t figured out by now, rage = threat. Ravage is a kitty ability that packs a punch, providing you are both stealthed and behind your target. There was no reason to be attacking a target from stealth before Ravage, and for the sake of efficiency I will argue that there still isn’t. It’s faster just to run up unstealthed and start Mangling than to creep up and open with Ravage, but if you know you need the element of surprise to kill something (say an elite or a difficult quest mob) then Ravage is worth the time. Lastly, we have Skull Bash, which has both a cat and a bear counterpart. Skull Bash is your basic interrupt, which will stop any spell from being cast and prevent spellcasting for a few seconds. Interrupting a mob’s heal is always a good thing.
Nothing new or interesting here.
Faerie Fire is used in both feral forms as well as in caster forms. While you won’t have the time or the need to apply it while solo questing or killing trash in dungeons, it’s a good idea to toss it on bosses or elite mobs for the extra debuff. Because Faerie Fire also deals damage and threat while in bear form, you will be using it to pull mobs now if/when you tank. You can stack it up to three times.
Remove Corruption is a healer’s dream, since it means you spend less mana healing a player who is taking damage from a curse or magic debuff. As healer you should be using Remove Corruption whenever someone gets cursed. It’s a good habit to get into for the later levels, where not removing a curse can wipe the entire group or raid. Later on you will find a resto talent that adds magic to the mix, and you will need to be on the lookout for both things to cleanse from your allies. Balance druids should also be looking to cleanse their groupmates, especially if a resto druid is not present (or is out of mana). Ferals should cleanse only when it is of life-or-death importance (for example, the curse applied during the Godfrey encounter in Shadowfang Keep) because Remove Corruption knocks them out of cat/bear form…as a general rule, a bear tank should never pop out of bear form for any reason.
Tiger’s Fury is a kitty’s best friend. Use it every time it is off cooldown for maximum effect, especially on bosses. Later talents will improve upon this ability, making it an instant “generate energy” button.
You’ve finally unlocked your first glyph slots, so let’s take a brief moment and talk about glyphs for the leveling druid.
First, it’s important to understand that leveling glyphs are not the same as end-game glyphs. Leveling glyphs focus more on survivability and utility, whereas end-game glyphs focus more on pure DPS output or healing or what have you. Sometimes they are one in the same. Sometimes not. The glyphs you choose now will probably be replaced by the time you hit max level. Don’t fret about choosing the “wrong” glyph. Furthermore, glyphs are not essential right now. If you cannot afford them off the AH (my server is currently selling them at about 60g on average per glyph, which I will guess is out of the range of affordability for most leveling druids), don’t worry. If you do decide to spring for a glyph or harass a friend into making some for you, here are my recommendations:
Minor: Glyph of Unburdened Rebirth by far outweighs anything else at level 25. It means you will always have the ability to battle rez, no “oops I forgot reagents” moments ever again.
Major: Glyph of Maul for the tanking druid is a must-have. It allows your Maul ability to hit one extra target, which is huge in terms of keeping mobs glued to you. Glyph of Rake for kitties prevents mobs from fleeing if you have Rake on them. Useful for preventing a mob from running to gather its friends while questing or instancing. Pickings are slim for casters at this level, but if you want to wait until level 28 then Glyph of Innervate is probably your best bet. Though, personally, I don’t start having to use innervate until later levels anyway.
Prime: Glyph of Insect Swarm and Glyph of Wrath are both excellent for a balance druid. Glyph of Moonfire is also good. Glyph of Swiftmend is a must-have for healers, no exceptions. Glyph of Mangle is the only glyph for ferals at this level, so luckily it’s a good one.
Cower is um…it’s…well, it’s Cower. It’s mostly useless. Kitties who pull threat from an under-performing tank (or kitties who refuse to attack the tank’s target) will find use for Cower. Otherwise, leave it to collect dust in your spellbook. Your action bar’s real estate is too valuable to waste.
Feline Grace is a passive ability that basically means you can launch yourself off higher buildings than anyone else. Have fun.
Dash is a fun little ability that sees the most use when running away from a bad situation.
Nothing new here.
Innervate is a spell that allows you to regenrate a chunk of your mana over a short period of time. If you find yourself in a tight spot with no mana, Innervate yourself. If you’re in a group and the healer runs out of mana during a boss fight, Innervate them. Glyph of Innervate makes this second scenario much more palatable, as the glyph means 50% of the spell’s effect will also be cast upon you.
Soothe is a very situational spell, and likely won’t see much use on your action bars. If a mob or boss enrages, Soothe can usually be used to remove the enrage effect. Very useful for boss fights at higher levels.
Challenging Roar is another “oh shit” button that enables a bear tank to taunt all enemies nearby at once. Good for those moments where all hell breaks loose and you need to get aggro on a ton of things in a split second before they munch on your healer. The three minute cooldown means you don’t have to be too picky about when you use it, either.
At 29 you’ll get the chance to purchase your first “major” spell from your talent trees. Balance druids will finally get their moonkin form, feral druids will get the option to purchase Charge, and resto druids…well, resto druids don’t have anything quite that awesome just yet. While balance and feral druids have a very clear choice for their 11th talent point, resto druids have a couple. Living Seed is okay, but I find myself using rejuvenation 80% of the time to heal my tanks, as they rarely require large bursts of healing such as those that will trigger the seed. Nature’s Swiftness is also okay, though again I rarely find myself in a position where I need to do massive healing, at least not at this level. Fury of Stormrage is gross, don’t touch it. That leaves Revitalize, the main component of which is useless because you dont have Lifebloom just yet. It does, however, offer mana regeneration when you heal with rejuvenation, so if you find yourself constantly low on mana, you might consider this one. Again, nothing too outstanding for a resto druid yet.
You finally get Mark of the Wild. Finally. I cannot fathom the reasons behind giving druids this buff this late in the leveling game, but for whatever reason, you’re getting it now. You will want to keep this buff up on yourself and/or your party at all times. If someone dies, rebuff. If you all die, rebuff. If it runs out (it has a 1 hour duration), rebuff.See the pattern?
You also gain access to dual spec, perhaps the best feature introduced into the game in a long time. It costs 10 gold to activate, and can be purchased from your class trainer. Dual spec allows you to have two completely separate specs at once, and switch between them at your leisure. Both specs have their own action bars and their own set of glyphs. Switching specs will remove any buffs you have on your party, and will also wipe all of your mana, so pick a wise time to switch. It can also not be done in combat.
If you’re leveling as balance, consider going resto (or vice versa). Both resto and balance uses the same gear pretty much until level 85, so you won’t need to gather two different sets. If you want to toss a feral spec into the mix, you will need to gather an agility/stamina set of gear.
The next ten levels will likely take me a short while to write. If you haven’t already guessed it, I’m writing these as I level a new druid, level by level, bit by bit. It’s the best way for me to give accurate information, but it also means that as I get to higher levels, the guides will come more slowly. Rest assured I’ll be filling in the gaps with other helpful tidbits and ramblings and whatnot.
Regardless of which race you chose or which role you plan to fill later on, all druids start the same. You’re scantily clad, kinda squishy, and mostly useless. Thankfully, you’re on your way to becoming one of the most potent and versatile classes in the game. Historically, druids have had a tough time with the leveling process. Cat form wasn’t available until level 20, mangle didn’t come until level 40…ah, I remember leveling my first druid…I also remember that I hated it. Luckily for you, Blizzard has smoothed out the leveling process for many classes, and the druid has been overhauled for the better. Let’s take a quick introductory look into levels 1 through 10.
You start out with only one spell available to you (not counting any racials) – Wrath. From now until level 4, you will spam Wrath to kill anything. Just spam it. Spam it good.
You earn Rejuvenation, a staple in any healer’s line-up. Unless you’re failing miserably, you shouldn’t need to use it yet. But it’s there in case you have an oops and require healing. It’s your standard heal-over-time spell, no bells or whistles…yet.
…Nothing. Keep questing and killing.
Moonfire! A standard damage-over-time spell which will be a source of major DPS later on. Right now things die so fast with Wrath spam that there isn’t a pressing need to also hit them with Moonfire; however, you won’t go wrong if you use it anyway.
Thorns. Thorns is, well…it’s thorns. On my level 85 druid, I have largely forgotten about thorns. For now, it’s mostly an “oh shit” button. If you have more mobs beating on you that you can handle, pop thorns to help deal damage to them when they hit you, and hopefully they will die before you do.
Nothing new here. Keep spamming Wrath and using Moonfire at will.
Entangling Roots is added to your repertoire. While not a particularly potent part of your spell book right now, the roots are nonetheless your only form of crowd control for now. If you pull one too many mobs, root one and pull the rest away. Rooted mobs can’t take much damage, or else the roots will break, so avoid rooting a mob that has moonfire or another DoT on it. In addition, roots are only effective on melee-type mobs. Casters will just continue to cast, rooted or not. Finally, if you know a particular mob hits hard, you can begin with roots and then moonfire and wrath before he breaks free and runs to you, to buy yourself some extra time.
Level 8 opens a whole new can of whoop-ass on the leveling game. You receive cat form and a host of abilities only available while you’re in it. Regardless of the spec you want to be or the role you want to fill, cat form for now is your most powerful form. You can continue casting wrath and moonfire if you’d prefer, but I usually find that killing things as a cat is much more efficient. Claw is your basic melee attack as a cat. Each time you claw a target, you generate 1 combo point. Rake is a bleed effect, meaning you use it to apply a debuff to your target that adds one combo point and also causes damage over time. If your target isn’t dead after a claw or two and a rake, use Ferocious Bite to consume the combo points and deal a large chunk of damage.
Lastly, you’ll gain Nourish and Starfire. Nourish is a solid heal that will be your staple until much, much later in the game. If you have a HoT (such as rejuvenation) on your target, Nourish will heal for more. Starfire is a large nuke that you will find more use for at later levels, but for now you can open with it against a target (if you’re choosing not to use cat form right now). Opening is best, since starfire has a longer cast time. Then moonfire, then back to wrath spam.
Nothing new here. Continue clawing or casting things to death.
Congratulations on making it to level ten. You will learn Prowl, which is instrumental in PvP and invaluable in PvE. Avoiding unwanted hassles with mobs is always convenient. You will also earn your first talent point, which is yours to spend where you please. Not sure what to spec or where to spend your points? Check out the next segment in this series.
Wrath and moonfire are your basic spell casting attacks. Use Starfire when you have enough time to cast it without being beaten on. Use Wrath in close quarters, and Moonfire to apply its DoT. Use Entangling Roots to keep extra enemies at bay, or to buy more time to cast spells before they hit you. Thorns is helpful in dealing damage to multiple enemies as they beat on you. Pop Rejuvenation if you are low on health in combat; use Nourish if you’re not being hit. Use both if you’re really in trouble. If you choose to spend a few levels as a cat, use Claw and then Rake to apply its debuff and get combo points, then use Ferocious Bite to consume those points and deal extra damage. Prowl to sneak by enemies.