Itemization is still far from perfect for Balance druids (the proper name for a build which incorporates Moonkin form), as leather armor with caster stats is still pretty rare, but it's much better than it used to be. As such, more and more druids these days seem to be giving Balance a try! Let's take a look at an average PvE build, and see what advantages your group will get from bringing a Moonkin along.
Due to the lack of itemization for caster-centric leather armor, many balance druids must look to cloth armor for the stats they need. Balance druids tend to need lots of spell crit and int, both for the increased mana pool and additional mana/5. The recent change to the Intensity talent in the Resto tree has definitely made extended fights easier, and hopefully helping druids to kick their mana potion habits (or at least, cut back).
There are 3 good reasons to take along a Moonkin. One is that the aura they generate gives all party members within 30 yards an additional 5% spell crit. The second reason is for their Insect Swarm spell (a talent in the Balance tree), which gives your tank another 2% of pure damage avoidance. The final reason is for their Improved Faerie Fire, which increases the chance melee and ranged attacks will hit the target by 3% (at max rank). Put your Moonkin in a caster group for the 5% crit, and let them work Insect Swarm and Faerie Fire into their spell rotation to help your tank and physical damage dealers.
The build I'm examining is 43/0/18, which picks up Intensity and Subtlety from the Resto tree, and snags most of the goodies from Balance. I wouldn't use this as a grinding build, or for PvP -- this is a PvE-centric build, which is why I skip talents like Celestial Focus.
Balance (43 points)
- Starlight Wrath (5/5) - Wrath and Starfire are 2 spells you'll be using a lot, so this is a no brainer.
- Focused Starlight (2/2) - More buffs to Wrath and Starfire -- this one increases their chance to crit by 4%.
- Improved Moonfire (2/2) - Increases Moonfire's damage and chance to crit by 10%.
- Control of Nature (3/3) - For when you need to get that Cyclone off under pressure.
- Insect Swarm (1/1) - One of your tickets in to parties and raids. Pick this one up.
- Nature's Reach (2/2) - Increases the casting range of your Balance spells and Faerie Fire by 20%
- Vengeance (5/5) - Increases the critical strike damage of Wrath, Moonfire and Starfire by 100%.
- Lunar Guidance (3/3) - Adds additional spelldamage / healing based on your Intellect.
- Nature's Grace (1/1) - A fantastic talent. Each time you crit a spell, it reduces the casting time of your next spell by half a second.
- Moonfury (5/5) - More buffs to your primary spells -- Wrath, Moonfire and Starfire.
- Moonkin Form (1/1) - Another reason to bring you along when raiding, but let's face it -- it also makes you look cool. And that dance? Awesome.
- Dreamstate (3/3) - Helps extend your mana pool by giving you additional mana regen based on Intellect.
- Improved Faerie Fire (3/3) - Yet another reason to bring you to a raid. Rogues, Hunters, DPS Warriors and Retribution Paladins will love you for this.
- Wrath of Cenarius (5/5) - Even more buffs to Starfire and Wrath. This talent adds another 20% and 10% of your spelldamage to two of your primary spells.
- Force of Nature (1/1) - Not the most useful of talents, but if your trees last the full 30 seconds they do a respectable amount of additional damage.
Restoration (18 points)
- Improved Mark of the Wild (5/5) - Increases the effect of your MotW and GotW spells by 35%.
- Natural Shapeshifter (3/3) - In Moonkin form you can only cast Balance spells, so you'll find there are times you need to switch forms. This talent reduces the mana cost of all your shapeshifting by 30%.
- Intensity (3/3) - An essential talent for a raiding Moonkin, this gives you 30% of your normal mana regen at all times, even when casting.
- Subtlety (5/5) - Decreases the threat you generate by 20%. Considering how fast a Moonkin can start throwing spells (and how often they crit), this lets you DPS that much harder before you pull aggro. Very useful for raiding.
You can shift points around in this build (there are certainly a few filler talents in here) to suit your needs, but I feel it's a pretty viable build for raiding or instances. Sure, itemization is less than perfect and there may be the occasional heckler or mocking comment to deal with, but a properly played Moonkin can turn out a good amount of DPS and brings some nice buffs to the party... in addition to having another backup healer if things go bad (remember, you can switch out of Moonkin form if needed).
That wraps up this edition of Build Shop, but I'll be back again next week! What do you want to see on Build Shop? Send me an email with your questions or comments, and we'll talk shop.
[ Thanks to Daniel Martin for writing in with his Balance Druid suggestions! ]