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.
I hit level 50 shortly after beginning Felwood, which was a nice surprise. Fifty levels of not dying! Woo!
Let’s get down to it, shall we.
Felwood is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a scenic place. It is, however, an interesting one.
I have mixed feelings when it comes to Felwood. On the one hand, it’s a neat zone. I like satyrs and corruption and the furbolg. On the other, this is the zone that ruined my warlock for me back in the early days of WoW. I had been slogging through the epic mount quest chain and it finally took me to Felwood, where I died a lot and spent way too much money. I was broke, frustrated, and eventually ended up deleting my warlock because of this quest chain. A lot has changed since then, but Felwood still reminds me of that.
Thankfully this time I saw it through the wide eyes of a level 50 hunter who had no ambitions of an epic demon mount. It was a lot more fun this time around.
We slaughtered furbolg:
We ran afoul of plenty of satyr:
And we got suitably lost inside a massive underground labyrinth that I remember dying in at least a dozen times back in the day. This time, thankfully, we survived with our dignity in tact. I won’t lie, though: entering tunnels like this makes me a wee bit uneasy as an Iron-Man challenger. Way too easy to end up in a bad spot, you know? And this particular cave was riddled with bad spots.
Like this one.
And this one.
It was, overall, a harrowing experience.
Yet we made it through. I ended up switching back to my trusty raptor because the wasp I tamed in Feralas seemed a tad too squishy. Eventually, I tamed a rare spawn Warpstalker to add to my menagerie and named him Rex, after the shape shifting lizard bad guy in My Little Pony.
With Rex by my side we made our way deeper into the corrupt forest. We encountered gigantic old tree dudes.
Smaller, creepier tree dudes.
And gigantic flaming infernals, whom we dispatched quickly to avoid being burnt to a crispy pile of Draenei ash.
Along the way, we discovered what it was like to enter another dimension:
How to fight imps using the magical power of rainbows!
And what Illidan was doing in Felwood a zillion years ago.
Along the way we also discovered some pretty awesome Night Elves who were dedicating their time to restoring the forest to its former grandeur. Nevermind that their leader turned out to be a satyr in disguise. That’s mostly irrelevant.
Fun fact: the ancient tree guardians here at this little Alliance base were level 90 neutral mobs. As in, had I accidentally right clicked one, I would have fired and arrow into its face and died horribly in approximately two seconds flat. I spent the majority of my time in this base very carefully keeping my mouse cursor NO WHERE NEAR these guards, just in case I bumped it and shot one of them. I have no clue why some sick, depraved developer decided to make them neutral and attackable, but it made my feeble little Iron-Man heart twist in my chest. So, if you find yourself in this region, be aware of that. I assume death is exceptionally swift when you are stomped flat by thirty foot tall level 90 tree.
After helping the elves cure some small part of the forest, we headed north, to quite possibly the coolest camp in the game.
This is Talonbranch Glade, and it is a Worgen outpost in the northern-most reaches of the forest. It’s a two-hundred-plus foot tall black tree with waterfalls cascading from it canopy and a shimmering, sparkling pool at its base. It has a cavernous area beneath its roots for NPCs to take up residence. If I could designate any place in the game as my home forever, it would be here. Somehow I don’t think this tree is an option when it comes to building your garrison, though. Sad times.
After finishing up some quests for the friendly furbolg in the north, Iarann and I said our farewells to Felwood. I’m glad I decided to stop by and see how it compared to the Felwood of old. It’s a more interesting, more engaging zone as a whole and it helped to alleviate some of those bad memories I had carried around in the back of my mind all these years.
Our next stop is some place a little drier and a little more arid, with golden sand dunes shifting under an endless blue sky. See you there!
My little druid project, Ashcrofte, is slowly earning his keep around more famed druids like Sylvestris. I’ve decided to go after the violet proto on Ash, too, which means Boyfriend and I will be plowing through the holiday achievements full-force in the coming months.
First on today’s agenda was the infamous and much-abhorred School of Hard Knocks…which we just completed about five minutes ago. As this is my second time completing that achievement, I feel perfectly confident declaring it the worst idea Blizzard has ever barfed up, and should promptly be returned to the twisted, half-aborted mind from whence it came. I am of the opinion that it probably still exists because it is the brain-child of some Blizzard higher-up who got his feelings hurt when the vast majority of the WoW player base decreed it to be horrible, and he is staunchly refusing to take it off the table as a matter of wounded pride.
In other news, Sylvestris is digging his way across Azeroth once more. There was a time when I assumed I would quit (or at least take a break from) archaeology after completing the battle bug rare (and thus my 100th mount; see post below). How silly of me! No, I went right back at it today for several hours, knocking out a handful of straggling achievements left in my log. I even solved my 20th rare and nabbed the Professor title. Professor Sylvestris sounds…pompous as best. I prefer Profestris.
Next on the list: running more heroics for the Call to Arms satchel (which, on my first run ever, awarded me with the Azure Whelpling pet. Squee!) and continuing my hunt for rare mounts.
Advice for completing School of Hard Knocks, you ask? You realize the event ends tomorrow night, right? Procrastinator.
If you aren’t an absolute PvP dynamo, the best advice I can give you is…
Look pathetic, and pray.
I got my 100th mount tonight at about 10 pm. This past week and a half I have been working tirelessly towards the Mountain O’ Mounts achievement, collecting anything I could get my paws on. I grabbed the Drake of the West Wind from the Baradin’s Wardens, the final PvP mount from Stormwind, and one of the 100 seal mounts from the Argent Tournament. That left me at 99, with my last mount depending on a rare drop from something. If nothing else, I had the wintersaber lined up for completion in a week or so, but I was farming Tol’vir artifacts today and…up popped the scepter. It took me about an hour to complete and bag my 100th mount, the Ultramarine Battle Tank. I’m not certain how I feel about the dragonhawk model, but it’s flashy and exclusive and the only dragonhawk available to Alliance, so I am satisfied for my efforts. It’s been a long time in coming.
Many, many thanks to everyone who has helped me along the way, especially my guild who has been kind enough to lend a hand from the very beginning, and for staying up late with me running battlegrounds for my last 1000+ honor a few nights ago. You guys rock.
If you’re looking to farm for the Scepter yourself, a few things to keep in mind:
- Tol’vir artifacts require max level archaeology to dig up. You won’t even see them on the map until then.
- Consider completing your Night Elf rares first. If you complete every Night Elf rare, then you will have a decreased chance to see Night Elf dig sites pop up on your map, and since Kalimdor is like 90% Night Elf sites, this means you will have more Tol’vir sites pop up. Once I finished my last Night Elf rare (the doll), I started getting a lot more Tol’vir sites, sometimes 6-8 in a row.
- The wowhead comments for the scepter suggest that there is a pattern involved in Tol’vir rares. Many commenters pointed out that they solved the ring first, then the scarab pendant, then got the scepter. This held true for me as well. Something to keep in mind while you solve.
- Archaeology is my favorite thing ever, and even I will admit that it is…boring. Tedious. Grindy. Annoying. Consider distracting yourself with television or music while you grind.
- Don’t ignore sites that are not Tol’vir. You have to dig up other sites to erase them from your map and spawn a Tol’vir dig site, so just dig them up. If you’re looking to make money, both the Night Elf and Fossil sites can produce trash that vendors for 200 gold (the silver scroll case and kraken tentacle, respectively) and the keystones from most of your races will also net some gold on the AH.
- Don’t give up 🙂