You've got your gear, you've read all the strategies, but there's always that little something more. I know that gearing is perhaps getting a little overdone at this point, but there are still a few points to cover, after which it's on to boss guides. Yes, there was much rejoicing. Mostly it's more so a matter of getting these bosses down myself. Perhaps it's different for some of you, but I am a very tactile learner. I can read day in and day out on what to do, how to stand, where to move, but none of it really helps me until I've actually gone and seen the encounter itself. For that reason, I like to experience bosses at least once before I write about them.
It doesn't take much to write out a generic boss guide -- and I do not mean that as a bash on TankSpot or the various other guide sites; they are all highly useful -- but writing for a specific class is different. There are small little tweaks and adjustments that every class and spec can make for each boss that simply can't be conveyed in a general guide. There isn't enough room for it. So, next week, I promise.
Until then, let's go into the final touches that need to be made to all that wonderful gear that you've collected at this point.
Gemming is an interesting little issue at this point in time due to the current problems with the standard Chaotic meta-gem that DPSers use. Right now, the Chaotic Shadowspirit Diamond still requires more blue gems than red gems in order to activate. Using this meta is still the best DPS choice, but there's something of a catch there. The gems needed in order to reach that point are very specific.
In order to use the CSD, you need to get your hands on some green gems -- specifically, Lightning Dream Emeralds. From there, it becomes a balancing act to make sure that you maintain more blue than red gems. The problem with this is that Lightning gems can be highly difficult to find, especially if you are on a low-population server. To get this cut, jewelcrafters have to spend their hard-earned tokens to get the pattern. Simply put, there are other, better gems that are in higher demand, more useful, and turn a better profit. So unless you have a guild that's willing to work with you or an alt JC yourself, getting the green gems that you need is hard.
Your other choice is to go with the Ember Shadowspirit Diamond instead. The only requirement is two yellow gems, which is trivial to get, and this way, you don't have to make any drastic changes to your standard gemming practices. Given that CSD is going to be changed (presumably in the next content patch), I would suggest simply going with ESD at this point in time. The gain over it is small, and you'll eventually have to re-gem either way. The choice between regemming every yellow, blue, and possibly red socket or just changing out a meta makes the choice pretty clear.
If you are a jewelcrafter, then I would strongly suggest going with the ESD. It may be different for others, but my dungeon gear had zero blue sockets but several red and prismatic sockets. Even though jewelcrafting is the "best" profession to choose for the pure sake that it is the only one which allows flexibility in your personal benefit, intellect is the only choice, because it is so much better. Unless you have at least four yellow/blue sockets, then it's impossible to use the red JC gems and still activate the CSD. Using the CSD is not worth losing the extra intellect from using those red gems.
Once the CSD is reverted back to only requiring two blue gems, nothing in our gemming strategy has really changed since Wrath:
Red Brilliant Inferno Ruby
Yellow Reckless Ember Topaz
Blue Purified / Veiled Demonseye
After you have a minimum of two blue gems, you can choose to ignore the socket bonus and simply gem straight red if the socket bonus is rather weak. However, now that hit is a blue gem stat, there are usually not many cases where you'll need to do that.
Enchanting, I have to admit, has gotten a little bit more interesting this time around. Not by much, but there's a slight improvement over the way that it has been since well before time can remember.
- Helm Arcanum of Hyjal is your only real option.
- Chest There's something of a choice here. Peerless Stats is the best choice, hands down. Right now, it is difficult to find and excessively expensive, so you can go with either Mighty Stats or Exceptional Spirit. The comparison is 40 hit to 15 intellect and 15 hit -- and in that case, it's a wash either way as to which is better.
- Cloak Greater Intellect is the enchant of choice, unless you are a tailor.
- Shoulder Greater Inscription of the Charged Lodestone is what you want unless you are a scribe.
- Wrists Greater Speed will probably be the enchant of choice, but there is some leeway. Exceptional Spirit is technically just as good if you need the hit and honestly much less expensive. For this raiding tier, when hit is a little bit harder to reach, I would probably go with spirit.
- Gloves There is the super-expensive Greater Mastery, but that's rather worthless to a balance druid. Haste is just as good, if not possibly better, and far less expensive.
- Pants The reason that mages and warlocks hate us. You want Powerful Ghostly Spellthread, which gives intellect and spirit, instead of intellect and stamina.
- Boots Lavawalker is going to be the enchant of choice for the run speed, but right now it can be pretty difficult to get your hands on it, and you really don't want to spend that much gold on a pair of boots that are probably going to be replaced soon. Instead, go with Precision or Haste.
- Main-Hand Hurricane is perfectly acceptable and not that expensive, while Power Torrent is going to be the better option once you get better gear.
- Off-Hand Well, you only have one choice -- so might as well use it!
Oh, the joys of picking glyphs. I suppose I shouldn't complain too much, because unlike many other specs, balance druids actually do have a decent amount of choice in which glyphs they should use, and it can change from encounter to encounter. On top of that, glyphs stay with you forever now, so switching is ridiculously easy .
Without going into too much boss detail, encounters such as Magmaw and Maloriak do have multiple targets, but they don't particularly support the Starsurge glyph. On Magmaw, the adds are trivial, and you want to save Starfall for when the boss's head is exposed anyway -- plus Starsurge won't ever give you an extra Starfall against the head, while Wrath will increase the damage you deal against the head. On Maloriak, you need to save Starfall for the green phase, and using it early can be a little tricky due to adds spawning; you may not want to put additional pressure on your tank.
In short, if you know that you can use Starfall on cooldown -- every cooldown, without issue -- and there are going to be at least two targets up for every Starfall, then use Starsurge. If not, then Wrath is probably the better option.
From there, it becomes a lot more complicated. Focus is often a very good choice, and it is one of the few DPS choices that you can take, but it isn't practical in a lot of encounters. If you know that you will always be within the limited range for Starfall, then by all means use Focus, but if you or the boss is going to be highly mobile or there will be several targets that are spread out, then I wouldn't use Focus. Innervate is a great option, even if you aren't going to be Innervate trading with a restoration druid. Played correctly, a balance druid in full heroic blues should never run into mana issues until you hit the 9- to 10-minute mark. Tossing out your Innervate to others and still getting a little something back is fantastic, so there's no reason to not take it if there's nothing else you need.
Thorns, Solar Beam, and Monsoon are your utility options that you can choose to pick up depending on what you need for the encounter. Typhoon is useful on some encounters, but usually you don't need it so frequently that Monsoon will make much of a difference -- but it can help. Although Thorns has been nerfed significantly, it can still be useful to help a tank pick up multiple targets, so having it more frequently isn't a bad thing at times. Finally, Solar Beam is great if you need to do some interrupting. Provided the target can be silenced, an additional 5 seconds that your other interrupts don't have to worry about catch spells is a pretty big deal -- from a rogue's stand point, it's pretty much an additional Mutilate every minute that they can spare without having to pool their energy for Kick.
Honestly, just take whatever. Dash and Unburdened Rebirth are probably your best raid utility options. Other than that, nothing really matters.
Every week, Shifting Perspectives: Balance treks across Azeroth in pursuit of druidic truth, beauty and insight ... from a moonkin's perspective. We'll help you level your brand new balance druid, analyze balance racials and abilities, and walk you through PvP as a balance druid.