As the launch of Legion is still a long time off, and massive changes to the beloved bear-spec druid are not yet on the horizon, I decided to write a bit about why you should totally consider leveling your druid as a bear. This druid is, and always will be, a versatile class. Druids are capable of fulfilling all roles, and are the only class currently in game that can do so. They’re also the only class with four separate, distinct specializations. So why should you choose Guardian over Feral, Balance or Resto?
Survivability. A Guardian druid has hands down the best survivability of any druid spec. If you enjoy the idea of pulling large numbers of mobs and shredding them to bloody pieces while suffering negligible damage to yourself, then the bear druid has your name written all over it. Bears have an exceptional arsenal of abilities that let you mitigate or avoid damage. Survival Instincts, Pulverize. and Barkskin will decrease the amount of damage you take, while Savage Defense will both reduce incoming damage and increase your change to dodge, thus avoiding damage outright. Add that to a large health pool and the inherent bonuses to survivability in Bear Form and you have a hell of a chance of surviving even the biggest oopsies.
Self Healing. Your ability to heal yourself while in bear form is actually pretty decent. Your level 30 tier of talents offers three options for self healing. I favor Renewal for a burst of healing, which comes in especially handy when I’ve done something dumb like stood in the fire and taken a chunk of damage all at once. For smaller amounts of damage over time, your level 90 tier talent Nature’s Vigil is a must. When activated it turns 40% of the damage you deal into healing. If you’re solo, all that healing goes to you. Pair Nature’s Vigil with the level 60 tier talent Incarnation and you can out-heal almost anything.
Solo Ability. Your ability to solo as a bear druid is top notch. Whether it’s a quest, a rare spawn, or elite mobs and bosses in old raids or dungeons, you’ll find you can outlast and out-gun almost anything. If you enjoy soloing old content for mounts, pets, or transmog, consider giving it a shot as a Guardian druid. Run through, aggro everything in sight, gather it up, Thrash, loot, and repeat. It’s that simple. You don’t have to wait until max level to tear through old raids and dungeons for goodies and gold. While you’re leveling up, the bear’s exceptional survivability and self healing mentioned above means you can rip rare spawns and “group” quests apart all on your own, no assistance required. Rare elites? Nothing a Nature’s Vigil/Incarnation combo can’t handle. I have downed every elite and rare elite in Warlords as a bear druid without issue. When I tried it on other classes, or even as a druid in another spec, I found it more difficult. Restoration and Balance druids will have trouble interrupting, for example, and Feral druids lack the damage mitigation cooldowns.
PvP Capability. While I prefer to heal when I PvP, there is a lot to be said about bears in battlegrounds. I don’t arena and probably never will, so I can’t comment about the viability of Guardian druids in 2v2 and so on. But a well-played bear in a random battleground in an awesome force of nature. Bears can charge, stun, interrupt (both with Faerie Fire and with Skull Bash), knock back (with Typhoon), incapacitate (with Incapacitating Roar), slow (with Faerie Swarm)…the list goes on and on, depending on which talents you select. While these talents are available to all druid specs, combining them with the sheer unstoppable survivability of a bear makes them double trouble to the opposing faction. There really isnt anything more badass than charging into an enemy’s bunker and shredding them to little sticky pieces with your bear (haha!) paws. Bears are hard to kill which makes them perfect for tasks such as carrying a flag or defending a base. If you enjoy PvP while you level, give the Guardian druid a shot.
PvE Flexibility. The Guardian druid is the perfect choice if you want to quest and queue for dungeons while leveling. Doing so as a Guardian means no collecting or maintaining another set of gear, no switching specs when the queue pops, and best of all, no queue time. I have leveled as both bear and tree druids, and while healing queues can sometimes vary, the tanking queue is almost never longer than 10 seconds.
Strong Tanking. A low level druid may not have access to all the goodies of a max level tank, but don’t dismiss the bear druid as a viable tank for leveling dungeons. Bears get Thrash at level 14, which makes it available for use when you can start running dungeons at level 15. Thrash is an AoE that hits fairly hard, has no cooldown or rage cost, and has no limit to the number of mobs it can hit. It is an essential tool for low level bear tanks in your typical “gogogo” LFG run as it helps them hold threat on a large number of mobs simultaneously. Savage Defense is learned as soon as you choose Guardian spec at level 10, giving you immediate access to damage mitigation. Your job as a low level tank is mostly just to hold threat and survive, so between Thrash and SD you’re covered. Of course, all the survivability reasons listed above are also a factor in bear tanking, as well as the general druid utility (resurrecting, buffing, pinch healing, etc) that you bring to a group.
The biggest advantage of leveling as a bear druid is simply your ability to outlast anything that comes your way. The bear’s ability to mitigate damage while dealing a respectable amount of its own, as well as tank, PvP, quest and solo all in the same spec makes the bear druid a seriously fun spec to play . If you enjoy being an unstoppable mass of fur and fury, then the Guardian druid sounds right for you.
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.
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.
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.
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.