Only one more leveling guide after this, and then we'll be heading into an array of new articles I've been planning for a while, and a Druid perspective on tanking issues raised by Matt Rossi's article. I will probably be turning some of this material into just plain Druid posts rather than Shifting Perspectives columns, though, as otherwise it'll take longer than I'd like to get them all posted.
In Outland and Northrend, you'll be training new ranks each level as opposed to every other level, so don't forget to hit your trainer promptly with each level-up.
Cat form gets a non-stealth stun approximately a billion years after its Rogue counterparts, but that's it for the new stuff.
- Maim: An unholy mating of the Rogue abilities Eviscerate and Kidney Shot, Maim is Cat form's only interrupt (unless you count Pouncing a mob or player whose attention is directed elsewhere) and is a Stun effect as of patch 3.1, as opposed to the Incapacitate it was previously. What's the difference? Incapacitate effects can be broken by damage, while stuns can't be. While this sounds like a good deal for Druid PvP, it also means that the Maim stun shares diminishing returns with Pounce and Bash. Don't forget that Maim is a baseline ability and you can use it on a mob/player even if you're not Feral. Building combo points on an enemy player to Maim them at a later point is a classic technique of Resto PvP (though considerably more common in BC arena than it is nowadays). Maim also comes in handy versus PvE mobs; if you're fighting a caster or healer, you've got a double interest in opening from Pounce, because in decent gear it's possible to take a mob from 100% to 0% without allowing it to get a cast off. What are your odds of doing this versus a player? Not all that terribly high. Even if you switch to Bear in order to get Bash off, a Druid's ability to "stunlock" is considerably less than that of a Rogue's even if you've talented into Brutal Impact, but the damage that Maim applies is also useful (particularly combined with Pounce's DoT and Rake) in draining their health. While out grinding, Maim can and should be used defensively to stun an enemy or mob if you're low on health and need to pop out and heal -- or if you need to make a break for it and get a head start.
- Demoralizing Roar, rank 6: standard upgrade.
- Healing Touch, rank 12: standard upgrade.
Rollin', rollin', rollin', keep that Lifebloom rollin', you don't have Lifebloom just yet, Raw-HIDE.
- Ferocious Bite, rank 6: standard upgrade.
- Moonfire, rank 11: standard upgrade.
- Rejuvenation, rank 12: standard upgrade.
The much-beloved (and much-nerfed) Lifebloom makes its debut!
- Lifebloom: Lifebloom is one of those abilities that seems doomed to a life of endless tinkering, as we've previously observed. During BC, the spell was significantly cheaper than it is nowadays (and also wasn't possible to extend beyond a 6-second duration), to the point where Trees who were healing multi-tank fights were little other than glorified Lifebloom-bots. In Wrath -- at least at the present time -- it's a very mana-intensive (and usually ill-advised) proposition to roll Lifebloom on more than one tank at a time. Lifebloom adds another insta-HoT to our healing arsenal, but it requires a little more thought and attention than Rejuvenation or the talented Wild Growth. For PvE raiding, it still finds its best use being stacked and "rolled" (i.e. not allowed to reach its final heal, or "bloom") on a tank unless you deliberately allow it to bloom to deal with sudden burst; in 5-mans, you can still stack it if needed but can a little more liberal with the bloom due its mana return; in PvP, Lifebloom is one of our more annoying abilities versus an enemy due to its forced bloom upon dispel (screw 'em, if they didn't want it to heal than they shouldn't have tried to dispel it in the first place). As an interesting note, the threat generated by Lifebloom will belong to you during the rolling portion, but the threat of the final heal belongs to the person to whom it's applied. If you're a dedicated tank healer, you will want to pick up both Glyph of Lifebloom and the Balance talent Nature's Splendor (although it bears mentioning that any kind of Tree will want Nature's Splendor). It can be difficult for new Druids to keep track of the HoT's they have on targets; Tree Bark Jacket (which has recently moved; this is the old site) had an excellent post back in January on modifying Grid for this purpose that you'll want to read.
- Rake, rank 5: standard upgrade.
- Swipe (Bear), rank 6: standard upgrade.
- Thorns, rank 7: standard upgrade.
Bears can start mumbling to themselves, "One more level to Lacerate...one more level to Lacerate..."
Another way to bleed things to death. Feral seems curiously focused on that sort of thing.
- Lacerate: Lacerate needs to be stacked to 5 in any high-threat rotation versus a boss mob. For 5-man and trash-tanking, odds are good the mob's not going to live long enough to justify spending much time stacking it (the individual application of Lacerate does less threat than Swipe, and that's your primary concern while holding aggro against your LOLDPS), but it's still in your best interest to get at least one Lacerate going on as many mobs as you can. Why? Two reasons: a). Rend and Tear (you do have Rend and Tear, don't you?) and b). Primal Gore (you do have Primal Gore, don't you?). Rend and Tear is a significant contribution to Maul's threat, and the only way to get a mob bleeding as a Bear is to apply Lacerate (Mangle applies a debuff increasing bleed damage, but it doesn't actually cause a bleed in itself). If you're tanking, you want Lacerate up on your primary target at all times, and if you have Glyph of Maul (which you generally should in a dedicated Bear build), you also want it up on whatever secondary target the additional Maul is hitting. Also, because Savage Defense DOES proc from the Lacerate bleed crits granted by Primal Gore (and because Lacerate's threat is significantly better with the talent), you want to get Lacerate going early, triggering an SD proc and threat boost with each crit.
- Pounce, rank 4: standard upgrade.
- Ravage, rank 5: standard upgrade.
- Claw, rank 6: standard upgrade. Redundant skill is redundant.
- Maul, rank 8: standard upgrade.
- Rip, rank 7: standard upgrade.
- Starfire, rank 8: standard upgrade.
Get thee to Northrend, yongge wastrel, the lande of ices ynd snoo ynd very broun-colorred gears.
- Cower, rank 5: standard upgrade. Largely useless skill is largely useless.
- Healing Touch, rank 13: standard upgrade.
- Rebirth, rank 6: standard upgrade, but don't forget to pick up some Flintweed Seeds.
- Rejuvenation, rank 13: standard upgrade.
- Revive, rank 6: standard upgrade.
- Wrath, rank 10: standard upgrade.
Ah, 70...I miss you somewhat. Or maybe I just miss the days when people were actually putting Nightmare Seeds up on the auction house. Farming those things is a pain.
- Cyclone: Oy. Possibly the second most-hated ability in BC PvP (the first would have been Fear), Cyclone is a short-lived but often ass-saving Banish effect that renders its target unable to do anything but float in midair mentally composing another apoplectic forum thread on the need to nerf Cyclone. The short duration makes it mostly useful as an escape mechanism in PvE and as the Druid's only baseline interrupt in caster form, but it's really in PvP that it, er, shines. I've embedded an early video from arena's Season 1 by a well-known EU Balance player named Tradix to demonstrate how Cyclone can be used both offensively and defensively. One of the things you'll also notice is that Tradix makes additional use of Cyclone by frequently timing Starfire casts (ordinarily difficult to get off in PvP) to land immediately after Cyclone breaks, providing a good source of burst on a target that can't avoid it.
- Gift of the Wild, rank 3: standard upgrade, but don't forget to pick up some Wild Quillvine.
- Hurricane, rank 4: standard upgrade.
- Mark of the Wild, rank 8: standard upgrade.
- Moonfire, rank 12: standard upgrade.
- Shred, rank 7: standard upgrade.
- Soothe Animal, rank 4: standard upgrade.
- Tranquility, rank 5: standard upgrade.
Every week, Shifting Perspectives treks across Azeroth in pursuit of truth, beauty, and insight concerning the Druid class. Sometimes it finds the latter, or something good enough for government work. Whether you're a Bear, Cat, Moonkin, Tree, or -- for some unaccountable reason -- stuck in caster form, we've got the skinny on Druid changes in patch 3.2, questions and answers on new Bear and Cat forms, and thoughts on why you should be playing the class (or why not).