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Revision of [Druid][Balance][Leveling]Druid leveling guide 1 to 85 from Tue, 2010-12-28 19:39

Lycander's picture

Hello, all. This guide is being updated for Cataclysm, so there will be some errors below.

Original author: Ataraxia
(Guide format shamelessly stolen from Trollvink and his awesome Enhancement Shaman guide)



Introduction

Balance Druids are the caster DPS of the druid tree. This spec should be viable for leveling all the way to 85. However, you will have to pick up cloth gear for the most part, as caster leather is extremely rare before Outland. Given that, you may want to level as Feral until at least 39 (when you get Moonkin Form) or even 60 (when the gear selection becomes much better). If you do, check out Zerox's Feral Guide.


Talents

This spec is for primarily for leveling. This is not an instance or raid spec.
(Full spec can be found here)


Spells and Rotations

  • Always start at max casting range.
  • Always keep Mark of the Wild on you once you get it

1-7
Take whatever 2-handed weapon/weapon and offhand that provide Intellect and spell power.

  • Until you get Moonfire, spam Wrath until the target is in melee range.
  • Once you get Moonfire, cast it after you've launched your first Wrath. (Wrath takes time to travel to its target while Moonfire hits immediately. Your first Wrath will hit the target as he starts runing towards you.)
Rotation - Pull with Wrath, cast Moonfire, spam Wrath. Refresh Moonfire if needed.

8-9

  • Open with Wrath.
  • Spam Starfire until the target is dead.
  • When fighting multiple mobs, use Moonfire followed by Entangling Roots on one. Then, focus on other mobs, healing as necessary.
Rotation - Pull Wrath, then spam Starfire.


Eclipse Mechanic

It's important that you learn how the Eclipse mechanic works for a balance druid. Once you select the Balance talent specialization, you'll get a bar under your portrait. To the left is a moon, and to the right is a sun. The spells you cast will move the bar towards one side or the other. Once you get all teh way to one side, you'll trigger an Eclipse, the effects of which are pretty much the same except for the spells they effect.

First thing is to understand the bar's motion. Once the bar starts moving, it's direction will be shown by an arrow. Once the bar starts a direction, it will NOT go the other direction until an eclipse happens. The bar will move depending on what spell is cast. Certain spells move it a specific amount.

Wrath will move it 13 points towards a lunar eclipse, and Starfire will move it 20 points towards a solar eclipse. Starsurge will move it 15 points in whichever direction it's going (if you've just logged in or ressed, it'll go towards lunar).

A Lunar Eclipse will make your starfire do more damage, and a Solar Eclipse will make your Wrath do more damage. Because of how this mechanic works, you'll be changing Wrath and Starfire in the rotation, depending on which way your bar is moving or if you proc an eclipse. WIth that in mind, here's the rotation you should keep using:

That's pretty much it. I'll be covering some of the other options you'll have as you acquire new spells, but the rotation above should take you to 85.

10-28
This is where your rotation makes a major change, and the following pattern should be followed for the rest of your leveling.

  • Open with Wrath, then spam Starfire.
  • Start trying to find a weapon that increases spell power and/or intellect. If you get a one-handed weapon, get an off-hand to go with it.
Rotation - Cast Wrath, then spam Starfire.

40-50
We get two abilities at 40 that allow us to do a lot more damage: The iconic Moonkin Form and Hurricane.
From now on, stay in Moonkin Form

  • For single targets, the rotation is the same as above
  • For multiple targets, use Hurricane. Either run into a group or pull using Moonfire.
  • Once you get Barkskin at 44, use it before using Hurricane.
  • Use Innervate when you're low on mana.
  • Use Force of Nature on groups or tough mobs. Warning - Make sure you damage whatever it is your trees are fighting. If you don't, you get no experience or loot!
Rotation (Single Target) - Cast Wrath, then spam Starfire.
Rotation (Multiple Targets) - Run into a group (or pull multiples to you using Moonfire), cast Barkskin then Hurricane. Re-cast Hurricane as needed.

51-59
At this point, we have a fudamental change in our single target rotation.

  • For single target, the rotation is the same as above except if Eclipse (Solar) procs.
  • Cast Wrath if Eclipse (Solar) procs.
  • Use Typhoon to knock approaching mobs back or to pull several at once. Warning: The range on Typhoon is further than the animation. Get a feel for it before you use it often!
Rotation (Single Target) - Cast Wrath, then spam Starfire. If Eclipse (Solar) procs, switch to Wrath.
Rotation (Multiple Targets) - Run into a group (or pull multiples to you using Moonfire), cast Barkskin then Hurricane. Re-cast Hurricane as needed.

60-80

  • Same as above, except use Starfall for extra DPS on groups. Use with caution, as this spell targets all creatures within range.
Rotation (Single Target) - Cast Wrath, then spam Starfire. If Eclipse (Solar) procs, switch to Wrath.
Rotation (Multiple Targets) - Run into a group (or pull multiples to you using Moonfire), cast Barkskin then Hurricane. Re-cast Hurricane as needed.


Tips

Solo:

Instances:

Professions

  • Tribal Leatherworking is a great way to go if you're levelling as balance. There are some nice BoP pieces for balance.
  • Skinning is a good compliment to leatherworking, allowing you harvest your own materials. Additionally, skinning will give you a critical chance buff which helps your damage out.


Stats

In the following order: Spell Power -> Intellect -> Crit -> Stamina -> Mana per 5 -> Spirit

    1 - Spell Power: Needed to directly increase damage

    2 - Intellect: This stat give you more mana, as well as increasing spell power and spell critical chance

    3 - Crit: Higher crit chance means more damage

    4 - Stamina: Try as you might, you will get hit. This helps you stay alive longer

    5 - Mana per 5 (Mp5): Helps keep your mana up, even in combat.

    6 - Spirit: Also used to keep your mana up, but not effective in combat. Once you get Improved Moonkin Form, spirit will increase your spell damage.


Glyphs

Click here for a complete list of druid glyphs

Major

Minor


Gear

The gear listed below are just suggestions. There are plenty of other choices out there. If possible, try to upgrade your gear every 10 levels or so.

Armor

    From 1-57, you'll probably be wearing cloth gear since there isn't much in the way of spell leather in Vanilla WoW. The biggest exception is the Embrace of the Viper set that drops from the Wailing Caverns instance. After that, the next major pieces of caster leather are the Ironfeather set.

    Once you get to Outland, there are plenty of pieces of spell leather. The first you should be able to get are pieces of the Wild Draenish set.

Weapons
Your caster weapons are limited to one-handed maces, daggers, fist weapons and staves. If you're using a mace, dagger or fist weapon, make sure to get an off-hand item.
Once you hit Outland, you'll find several upgrades available through quests. If at all possible, get a group to do the Ring of Blood quest line at 65 for the reward. At 75, do the Amphitheater of Anguish.


Druid Quests

Alliance

Horde

Both


Addons

There are several add-ons that are directly useful to druids.

  • ControlFreak - ControlFreak is a small addon that allows you to set a target for your CC spells, as well as monitoring their status to let you know if they're out or taking damage. You can also re-cast your CC without actually switching targets.
  • Decursive - This handy addon will allow you to remove any negative effect you are capable of removing from any member of your group with a simple click, without having to target them

Comments

Lycander's picture

Druid Balance Guide Updated

Heya, all.  This guide has been updated for Cataclysm.  It was done based on what I used leveling from 80-85 and a little research.  I'll be playing through with a new druid to test and tweak it, but I feel confident that it's pretty solid as it is.  I've moved it back to the Class Guides -> Druid section.  If you have any suggestions, please add a comment below and I'll try to take care of it!


Thanks!

Druid Quests

There is a nice list of Druid Quest over at WoWHead: http://www.wowhead.com/class=11#quests

Of note  would be the quest at level 20, The Circle's Future, which gives you a pretty good staff for that level. I am only a level 29 so far on my Cata Druid, but so far so good, thanks for updating the guide.

Lycander's picture

Thanks, Brian

I haven't played my Cata druid much, so I haven't gotten to the class quests.  I'll check out the link you've provided and see wht I can update.

One minor nitpick

The Glyph of Focus linked in the AoE section links to wowhead/spell instead of wowhead/item, so it shows up as spell not found in the hover tooltip.  The one linked in the glyph section is correct.

Looks awesome.

Lycander's picture

Thanks for the catch.

It's been fixed now.  Please let me know if you spot anything else or have any other suggestions.

Weapons List

There's a few mislinks in the weapon list as well.  Looks like:

  • Death Speaker's Scepter
  • Hand of Righteousness
  • Fire Eater's Guide

Glyph of Typhoon in the same

Glyph of Typhoon in the same section.  Looks to be the same issue (linked to /spell instead of /item).  Totally missed that one earlier. :|

Lycander's picture

Thanks for the catches once again

Thanks again for cathing these.  I've fixed everything you mentioned, and I'll give it another once-over for other errors.  If you see anything else, or have any suggestions, please let me know!  Thanks.

Jiyambi's picture

Moved to Archive Section

We are recently working on improving the quality of content here on WoW-Pro.com, both by limiting low ranked guides and by moving out of date guides into archives. For more information, see the full news post detailing this process.

Your guide has been moved to Work in Progress mode for the following reasons:

  • The guide is significantly out of date.

If you improve your guide to address these issues, you are welcome to change it to Finished mode again. If you have any questions about this process, feel free to comment here.

Skumball's picture

This has 4 Jiya... Just

This has 4 Jiya... Just pointing out Smiling

-Skum

Jiyambi's picture

Copy paste fail.

Copy paste fail. Fixed.

Lycander's picture

All lines are open!

Heya, everyone. I've finished a re-vamp of this guide and would love any and all feedback on it. Please leave a comment and let me know what you think or what chages/improvements it needs. Thanks!

Thank you.

Just a quick thanks for the guide. I am leveling my first Druid (well, first one I got past 14) using this guide, and finding success.
Spamming Starfire after wrath for 20-39 seems to be my only question. At level 23 anyhow, it takes a long time to cast and it sucks up the manna. Is it really more efficient than wrath>moonfire>starfire>spam wrath or starfire>moonfire>spam wrath? Wowhead suggests it uses less mana than 2 wraths, but speed seems to count for something. Also, even after the global cool down, it doesn't seem to want to stack the next starfire or wrath until it casts out, am I missing something there?
Perhaps I need more pots I can use while in combat?

Lycander's picture

Starfire is more efficient

While Wrath does cast faster, the cast time for 2 wrath is equal to 1 starfire. There's a small discrepancy between damages, depending on which spell you just got, but starfire will always cost less. For example:

At level 20, compare Starfire and Wrath. Starfire is 3 seconds to cast, does 149 damage max and costs 16% of your base mana. Two Wraths would take 3 seconds to cast as well, do a max of 114 damage and use 22% of your base mana.

At 22, when you get the next level of Wrath, your max damage increases to 156 but everything else stays the same. It's still more mana-efficient to use Starfire.

That being said, there are a couple advantages to Wrath and it is a viable play style. Wrath's main advantage, in my opinion, is that there's a travel time involved. Starting at max range, you can get a second one cast before the first reaches your target and he starts approaching. It's second advantage is that it's less likely that a mob will pat out of range just as your about to complete your spell. (That happens to me with starfire WAY too often.)

Anyways, I hope this helps you. And please, feel free to post any other questions or comments you may have. I'll help out if I can. Thanks.

I have to disagree with a few things here

First, DOTs are all but useless when leveling, because fights don't last more than 6-7 seconds unless you're doing it wrong. Insect Swarm is a waste of a talent point, and Moonfire is only good for killing runners. Second, you should definitely not be using Entangling Roots on every fight, much less opening with it. In general, you want to open with Wrath (because Wrath has a travel time during which you can start casting your next spell), then spam Starfire, which is your most mana-efficient DD. If you're following Jame's guide, you will usually be fighting mobs slightly lower than your level, which means it should take a maximum of three Starfires to finish one off, usually less. Entangling Roots is very wasteful -- you really don't care if the mob hits you a few times; in fact, it can even be beneficial to do some extra Thorns damage, especially with the new, kinder spell pushback mechanics. Note that you will want to vary your casting sequence depending on the hit points of the mob, crits, etc. Use common sense, and keep in mind that mana is really your only resource. Be thinking about how to conserve it at all times. Overkill is bad. Roots and heals are bad, and should only be used in "oh sh*t" situations. BY THE WAY -- you can only root one enemy at a time, and this includes both Entangling Roots and Nature's Grasp, so that part of your guide is flat-out wrong. Don't neglect Hibernate, which is a much longer CC than root, although it only works on beasts and dragonkin.

Your talent build is OK except for Insect Swarm, Nature's Splendor, and Owlkin Frenzy. OF is not a terrible talent but unfortunately doesn't often proc until nearly the end of a fight, making you waste most of it unless another mob is right there. Take those out and replace with 3/3 Celestial Focus and 2/2 Balance of Power. Also, 5/5 Wrath of Cenarius is a big priority, since it affects the two spells that will be doing 95% of your damage.

AOEs are not very useful when questing. Most quests are geared to killing mobs one at a time, and situations where you can effectively kill many at once are relatively rare.

Your gear ratings are substantially accurate, but it helps to have a numeric priority rather than just saying "spellpower is the best". A good rule of thumb for leveling gear is: 1 SP = 2 hit/haste/crit = 3 INT = 10 Spirit. (80 gear values are TOTALLY DIFFERENT! You will be swapping out most or all of your gear when you start doing 80 instances and raids, not to mention respeccing!) Enchants are not usually worthwhile because gear is replaced too quickly, but if you're rich, go for it. They're also good on heirloom weapons, although that may be changing in 3.1.

Profession wise, I really recommend Skinning as your gathering profession. The passive crit rating helps a good bit, and it's a nice money maker too. It's much easier to skin your kills than waste time running around looking for resource nodes. This is assuming that it's your first character; if you already have an 80, making a few hundred extra gold on the way up won't matter.

The biggest tip I would give to Balance Druids is to clip your spells. "Clipping" refers to the fact that your character actually finishes casting the spell slightly before the client-side castbar fills up. If you start the next spell a little early, you will begin casting it a little earlier than it looks like you should be able to. (Practice will give you a "feel" for when you should start casting, depending on your latency and PC performance.)

Entangling roots

You wrote:

BY THE WAY -- you can only root one enemy at a time, and this includes both Entangling Roots and Nature's Grasp,

--------------

News to me, considering I've rooted at least two mobs at once using Nature's grasp. Yes you can only cast Entangling roots at one mob, or rather only the last one you cast at will stay rooted, but Nature's grasp can hold up to three mobs at a time. Plus the entangling Roots one.

Lycander's picture

I didn't realize they had changed that

I haven't used Nature's Grasp in a long time, as it used to cancel Entangling Roots when it procced. Thanks for the heads-up!

Jiyambi's picture

Huh, I never knew what the

Huh, I never knew what the word for that was ("clipping" that is). I've been doing that as a resto/balance druid for some time, noticed the phenomenon and went with it. It does indeed let you cast much more quickly than if you patiently waited for the spell bar to finish filling up.

Night_Hawk's picture

Clipping is great for any

Clipping is great for any class, I know I do it as a holy pally as well. The comment below me is right on the money, Quartz is a great addon, it will show your latency on the cast bar, as soon as the cast has progressed into the 'red' area you can click your next spell. You can download it here.

I never knew what the word was either, I'll check and see if it is in the WoW Dictionary. Eye

For the Clipping part you

For the Clipping part you can download Quartz AddOn. It will show you when you can start casting you next spell.

Jame's picture

Good feedback.

Good feedback.

Trollvink's picture

Heya, you might want to add

Heya, you might want to add the following add-ons to your guide:

Druid specific addons:

  • Bang! Eclipse, This mod will inform you when to switch between starfire and wrath to maximise DPS via eclipse.

Useful Addons while leveling:

  • RatingBuster, The design aim of RatingBuster is to provide detailed, meaningful and customizable information about items so you can easily decide for yourself which item is better.

  • AutoProfitX , Adds a button to a vendor-window which, if you click on it, makes you sell all the gray items in your inventory.

  • XBar, Makes bars for things like Tracks, Buffs, Companions, Class specific stuff, etc.

  • ArkInventory, is a bag addon, which allows you te create seperate windows for different stuff, also shows the vendor price of items.

I know most of these addons have nothing to do with Druids, but while leveling, these addons are god-like. You save alot of time if you have these installed.

Feel free to copy this into your guide.

Jame's picture

Hey, thanks for writing a

Hey, thanks for writing a guide.

I just skimmed it and the content appears to be very useful, however, the presentation is a problem: big wall of text Sticking out tongue

Please check out these guides written by other wow-pro members and try to use them as an inspiration for your guide:

If you don't know how to make your guide look as good as theirs, don't worry, we actually have guides to help you with that:

1. Jame's Guide Writing Guide
2. Jiyambi's Guide on how to make a Table of Content

Thanks for the quick reply

Hey Jame, tnx for your quick response (and also for your lvling guides btw). I will work on that one. I wrote it last night, when I was bored and servers were down. As soon as I have time, I will fix the big walls of text. Smiling

Wish I was old and a little sentimental (Cool

Wish I was old and a little sentimental (Cool

Shikamaru's picture

If you have any questions

If you have any questions about the codes, just tell me and I'll help you Smiling

PS. Why'd you want to be old ?Sticking out tongue