The first time I rolled a druid, it was because they were cool shape-shifters. However, like hunters without a companion until L10, druids don’t start learning how to shift forms until L10, and aren’t eligible for Tree of Life until at least L51. I’ve never made it that far; however, being my only untested class, I’ve committed my <SAN> identity to a druid. As I learn the ropes, I’ll be giving mini-updates and information I’ve found helpful along the way. On the whole, I’ll be dedicating myself to feral tanking… at least until I can afford to try out a tree ^^
I’m Totally Going to Be a Bear *RAWR*
Unless you aspire to be a giant-feathered moonkin, the first ten levels as a druid may be difficult for you. Not in terms of difficulty, but rather, in the necessity of shooting things to death with green blobs of pure nature goodness and orbital lazers. The good news is, you also get your buff and healing spells early, making your first foray into the class rather pain-free.
Level 1 – 3
You start in your zone of choice with two spells on your bar.
Wrath: Causes 17 to 19 Nature damage to the target. 1.5 second cast.
Healing Touch: Heals a friendly target for 37 to 51. 1.5 second cast.
Wrath is a Moonkin’s spell of choice, so if that is your chosen path, get used to casting it often now–you’ll be seeing it for years to come. However, during the first levels, everyone will be using it, so don’t feel obliged to take it off your bars and bludgeon things to death. Seriously. Don’t. You are not that sturdy, and you’ll need the firepower. You can generally lob a couple of Wrath-spells at the enemy before they close with you. I would suggest continuing to cast it if dealing with a mob your level or higher even in range. Healing Touch is capable of healing you for about 1/3-1/2 of your health at this level; however, it has a 1.5 second cast time making it difficult to cast in battle. If I’m casting Healing Touch during combat, I generally find smaller mobs to beat on so things die faster!
At level 2, you pick up one new spell at your trainer:
Mark of the Wild: Increases the friendly target’s armor by 25 for 30 min.
Cast it, love it. A thirty minute buff, it doesn’t require a reagent and is surprisingly effective.
Levels 4 – 7
At level four, you get orbital lazers and your first healing HoT! Woot!
Moonfire: Burns the enemy for 7 to 9 Arcane damage and then an additional 12 Arcane damage over 9 sec.
Rejuvenation: Heals the target for 40 over 15 sec.
I prefer to stand WAY back throw a couple of Wrath-bombs at my target, and Moonfire. Depending on my targets health and how hard they’re hitting me, I either hit them with my stick of doom, or give them another Wrath to the face. Moonfire usually needs to be re-applied on same level or above targets; however, it is very handy, especially on those annoying humanoid runners. While Moonfire is instant cast for the intial damage, avoid spamming it whenever possible as you will seriously deplete your mana pool–and no likes to med!
Unlike Healing Touch, Rejuvenation is a great in-battle healing spell. It is an instant cast, but don’t forget, it is a heal over time, so it is best used when you start taking damage. If you wait until you’re near death it likely won’t save you! If you are taking size-able damage, Rejuvenation followed by Healing Touch can often save you from a visit to the graveyard.
Once you hit level 6 you’ll pick up
Thorns: Thorns sprout from the friendly target causing 3 Nature damage to attackers when hit. Lasts 10 min.
Wrath (Rank 2): Causes 32 to 36 Nature damage to the target. 1.7 second cast.
Thorns is another self-buff, and you should keep applied at all times in spite of its short 10-minute duration. Thorns does noticeable damage to melee mobs, and can really help on same-level or above mobs. You’ll also want to take note of the increased cast-time of Wrath. It’s not a deal breaker, but if you adapt quickly to spell cast-times it could be a bit disconcerting.
Levels 8 – 9
Life starts to get interesting at level 8. You pick up:
Entangling Roots: Roots the target in place and causes 20 Nature damage over 12 sec. Damage caused may interrupt the effect. 1.5 second cast.
Healing Touch (Rank 2): Heals a friendly target for 88 to 112. 2 second cast.
Just take note that Healing Touch has increased in cast time again. While still a very effective and hard-hitting healing spell, I’d strongly suggest utilizing it out of combat when possible. The real fun, however, is entangling roots.
Roots allows you to control the flow of the battle a bit better, lobbing those big nasty Wraths more freely, and *hopefully* find you leaving your battles with less overall damage. There is a down-side to constant roots use–mana usage! I’d suggest using ER only when you need it–to kite a hard-hitting mob or hold in place a surprising 2nd addition to a pull. While ER may seem like a great opener all the time, at these levels, casting Wrath constantly will rapidly diminish your mana pull requiring you to med. While ER can be a life-saver on difficult solo pulls or to kite away from a bad encounter, use it when it’s needed!
At level 10, you begin your life as a shape-shifter. Bear form is first up, and you get some tasty abilities to use in your newly acquired shape, but first you have to get your form. Until then, you can pick up the following from your local trainer:
Nature’s Grasp (Can be used in any form including humanoid): While active, any time an enemy strikes the caster they have a 100% chance to become afflicted by Entangling Roots (Rank 1). 1 charge. Lasts 45 sec. 1 minute cooldown.
Mark of the Wild (Rank 2): Increases the friendly target’s armor by 65 and all attributes by 2 for 30 min.
Moonfire (Rank 2): Burns the enemy for 13 to 17 Arcane damage and then an additional 32 Arcane damage over 12 sec.
Rejuvenation (Rank 2): Heals the target for 70 over 15 sec.
To start the bear questline, you can talk to any Druid trainer, who will direct you to either Mathrengyl Bearwalker in Darnassus, or Turak Runetotem in Thunder Bluff for the Body and Heart quest chain.
The quest line is fairly straightforward. When you talk to your specific druid trainer, you will be given a free ride to Moonglade with the Teleport: Moonglade spell. Who knew Druids had some mage in ’em?
This is a simple walk-through guide for Alliance druids. Before you teleport, make sure that you set your home point in Darnassus to save yourself a few silver! Then teleport to Moonglade. You will arrive in front of a small home. Run inside and upstairs and talk to Dendrite Starblaze. He will then direct you to the Bear Spirit located in the Northwest part of Moonglade. After talking to the spirit about the attributes needed to take on the form of the bear, he will send you back to Starblaze. Run back upstairs, turn in your quest, and use your hearthstone to return to Darnassus.
Once there, you will want to speak to Mathrenyl Bearwalker, located in the Cenarion Enclave (2nd floor). Head out through the tree portal to Ru’therean Village and fly to the nearby coastal town of Auberdine. When you arrive, follow the road east out of town–when it splits North/South continuing running east across the countryside (short distance). You are looking for a Owlkin cave that includes a small 2 ft. stone with a small hole in the upper middle top. Use the dust provided by Bearwalker to summon Lunarclaw. He will run into the cave from outside. Kill him, speak to his spirit, and return to Bearwalker in Darnassus.
Congratulations! Bearwalker will provide you with Maul, Growl and Bear form. You will need to view the trainer’s book to pick up Demoralizing Roar.
Bear Form: Shapeshift into bear form, increasing melee attack power by 30, armor contribution from cloth and leather items by 180%, and Stamina by 25%. Also protects the caster from Polymorph effects and allows the use of various bear abilities.
The act of shapeshifting frees the caster of Polymorph and Movement Impairing effects.
Demoralizing Roar (Bear/Dire Bear): The druid roars, decreasing nearby enemies’ melee attack power by 31. Lasts 30 sec.
Growl (Bear/Dire Bear): Taunts the target to attack you, but has no effect if the target is already attacking you. 8 sec. cooldown.
Maul (Bear/Dire Bear): A strong attack that increases melee damage by 18 and causes a high amount of threat. Effects which increase Bleed damage also increase Maul damage.
You also get your first talent point. Yay! Since the LFG system provides for easier group forming, feel free to choose from any tree that catches your fancy. Bears and Cats should start in the feral tree, Moonkin in the Balance tree and Trees in the Restoration tree. Since I’m planning on being a bear *rawr* I’m taking my first 5 points in Ferocity. For those of you who plan on being kitties, Ferocity is a good choice for you as well.
When you train Bear Form, you’ll gain a new bar. It will automatically add this icon for your bear form. Don’t be tempted to drag all those bear abilities onto your standard bar! Make sure you click the Bear paw and change into a bear–this will bring up a new stance bar and you’ll want to drop your Bear specific abilities here. It does cast mana to change into your bear form, but you will regen mana while in different forms. Your Bear form uses rage to activate abilities–much like a warrior, you are dependent on your hits hitting and taking damage to gain enough energy to complete your best attacks.
However, always remember, you CAN shape-shift. If you want to pull a mob to you, feel free to pop a moonfire down, change into a bear, and maul away. Taking a beating? Pop back into your humanoid form and cast a heal on yourself. Excessive mana use can leave you stuck without enough resources to regain your form, but there are quite a few add-ons that allow you to keep track of your current mana level while shape-shifted.
Whether or not you want to bear up, or you really just like that Wrath/Moonfire duo is a personal choice. From my experience, Bear at this level requires a bit of spellpower to get the ball rolling if you’re impatient and death-dealing oriented; however, I just love my furry butt and swiping claws, so I generally go the wrath/moonfire/bear/maul route.
A Short Note on Gear
I’m infamous for having the worst dressed kid at the party while leveling. While I pick appropriate gear in terms of stats and upgrades from whatever I’m currently wearing, I do not make a point to upgrade pieces, I do not troll the auction house, and I don’t make gear lists. That being said, with the new and improved LFG tool I will likely start looking at dungeon gear for my main upgrade pieces since I plan to spend plenty of time learning the ropes of bear tanking by… tanking! For the first 10 levels, you likely won’t find much (or anything) with stats–just use your best judgement. You’re going to want leather over anything else, and choose cast-y type stats if you plan on leveling as moonkin or resto (intellect, spirit, spellpower–I don’t remember anything with crit or mp5 at this level) and damage-y type for bear or cat feral (agility, stamina, armor–if the rogue wants it, you probably do too).