Status Check; A-OK
In our last article, we covered the basics of using Wrath, Moonfire, the 5 second rule and the concept of a planned combat sequence.
There's an old saying that no plan survives contact with the enemy, but having a practiced, well thought out approach to handling an enemy lets you free up your concentration for improvisation; once you have the basics down, go mix it up and have some fun.
Try not to get too fixed on one plan, just use your combat sequence as a starting point. Once you are comfortable with your abilities and your timing, experiment. See how fast you can chain your Wraths together, or switch things up and see how far down you can take an enemy with Moonfire spam before you go Out Of Mana. Try different things and you might find a different method of fighting that just feels more comfortable to you. Don't hesitate to use it!
In our last column, we blasted through levels 1 through 5. Now that levels 6 through 10 await you, things will slow down just a bit. You'll still probably reach level 10 in one sitting, but along the way you'll get plenty of opportunities to practice the basics and add new and exciting abilities to the mix.
Improving Mana and melee DPS with Auction House upgrades
As we level from 6 to 10, the two biggest annoyances we face are low Mana and weak melee combat damage.
Each level, your Mana pool will increase. Unfortunately, the extra Mana is sucked away by increased casting costs as your Wrath spell gets boosted to rank 2, and again when you gain Entangling Roots at level 8.
Low Mana is an issue that never really goes away; especially once you get different forms to shift in and out of. Mana is based on your Intellect stat; 1 point of Intellect provides 15 Mana. For as long as we are playing our class as casters, we can compensate for low Mana by purchasing equipment with Intellect.
For our low melee damage at these levels, the blame can be lain on our vendor or quest reward weapons, which have a very low base DPS. Again, we can compensate for this with better gear.
If you have been dutifully gaining income through Herb and Ore farming, or by sending money to your Druid from a higher level character, then once you reach levels 6 or 7 you should expect to find some nice Uncommon quality items available on the Auction House to upgrade your gear.
Around level 6, leather armor can begin to be found that has Intellect on it to increase the size of your Mana pool, and Stamina to increase your Health (1 Stamina = 10 health). Until you gain your first melee combat form, you ought to look for gear with those stats first.
At level 7, it's time to start searching for weapon upgrades at the Auction House. The weapons you buy from vendors or gain through quests do as little as half the damage of an Uncommon green at the same equipped level. Doubling the DPS of your chosen weapon goes a long way towards easing your leveling pain.
For melee combat only, 1 point of Strength = 2 Attack Power, which increases the damage you do to enemies. Looking for this and Stamina on your melee weapons is an excellent choice. Agility aids in chance to Dodge, but does not provide any bonus to Attack Power until you reach level 20 and Cat form. For now, take Strength, Stamina and Intellect over Agility whenever possible.
Druid weapon skills
Night Elf Druids start the game with the Staff and Dagger weapon skills. Tauren Druids start with Staves and One Handed Maces. Druids can learn the skill they lack plus Two Handed Maces and Fist Weapons from specific Weapon Masters.
Of the weapons that Druids can use from character creation, only One Handed Maces tend to be readily available on the Auction House at levels 7 - 10. For the weapon skills you can learn from Weapon Masters, Two Handed Maces are the other most commonly found items on the Auction House. Daggers and Staves are very scarce, and Fist Weapons are nearly non-existent. For this reason, I recommend running off in search of One Handed and Two Handed Mace weapon skills.
New weapon skills can be learned from Weapon Masters right at level 1, and cost 10 silver each. You could get them at any time, but until you reach level 7, you're just not going to find anything in the Auction House you could use.
Tauren Druids are fortunate. Not only do they start out with One Handed Mace skill at creation, but Ansekhwa, the Horde Weapon Master that teaches the Two Handed Mace skill, resides in the capitol city of Thunder Bluff, on the Lower Rise. It is very easy to reach him at any level and get your skill.
For Night Elf Druids, the closest Weapon Master that teaches One and Two Handed Mace skill is Handiir, who resides in the Draenei capitol city of The Exodar. To reach The Exodar requires having the Burning Crusade expansion; if you don't have it, then the only other Alliance trainer of these skills is Buliwyf Stonehand, who resides in the Military District of Ironforge, clear on the other side of the world.
As a reminder, Night Elves can journey from the city of Darnassus to Rut'theran Village on it's lower shore, and from there take the Flight Path or ship to the port city of Auberdine on the shore of Darkshore. At Auberdine, you may take the ship to Azuremyst Isle and The Exodar, or take a different vessel to Menethil Harbor in the Wetlands for the long overland hike to Ironforge. No matter which route you choose, make sure you remember to grab all of the Flight Points along the way.
Once you have your weapon skills, keep your eyes out for upgrades on the Auction House. The Walking Stick with 4.2 DPS was fine at level 3, but picking up a Spiked Club of the Monkey at level 8 with 9.0 DPS, +1 Agility and +2 Stamina makes a noticeable difference.
Whatever weapons you pick, having more options to choose from should help you find the upgrade you need when you want it, at a price you can hopefully afford, especially if you are trying to level on the income from low level Herbs and Ore.
New abilities at level 6
When you reach level 6, you'll get Thorns, another nice Druid buff that unfortunately only lasts 10 minutes, and Wrath (rank 2).
As we suggested before, you'll have to be a bit more careful on casting now, since your new Wrath uses 35 Mana per cast, but your combat spell sequence should remain unchanged. Just make sure you always keep Thorns and Mark of the Wild active.
Thorns is pretty nice for soloing, in that it only does damage to an opponent when he is actively hitting you. If you have several mobs attacking you, each of them is taking some damage.
Once you start grouping, however, Thorns becomes a situational spell. Since it deals damage to any attacker, it is also increasing threat against all opponents that are attacking you. If you are in a healing role in a party, the last thing you want is to be gaining threat with attackers, when a tank will only have to work that much harder to pull them off of you. When you're in a group, instead of casting Thorns on yourself, cast it on your Tank, and it will help them to build threat and keep aggro over multiple targets.
New abilities at level 8; Branching out with Entangling Roots
At level 8, the new skills you'll get are Entangling Roots and Healing Touch (rank 2).
Entangling Roots adds a much needed crowd control aspect to Druid warfare. So far, you've been suffering through as a pure offensive caster, trying to get your spells off as fast as you can before your opponent forces you into melee combat.
With Entangling Roots, you now have a spell that has the same range as Wrath and Moonfire, with the same 1.5 second casting time as Wrath, that not only applies damage over time for 12 seconds, but also roots your target into place so he can't run after you.
Now, damage applied to a target that is affected by Entangling Roots will, more often than not, break the root early. And it happens often enough that some Druids neglect using Entangling Roots at all when soloing, except when an additional mob joins a fight. And that's a shame, because rooting targets properly is fun and makes leveling as a caster a lot easier.
Being animals at heart, adding Entangling Roots to our combat sequence lets us have a lot more fun 'playing with our food'.
Let's see what happens when we add Entangling Roots to the solo mob combat sequence we've been using up to now;
We move to extreme range, use left-click (auto-attack disabled) to select the target, and engage with two Wraths.
Instead of casting Wrath a third time, we begin the casting of Entangling Roots. It should go off just as he reaches us. Since we are not auto-attacking, we do not risk accidentally breaking our Root with melee damage.
The target is rooted in place, and begins to take damage from the DoT. This let's you maneuver yourself back to extreme casting range from the target.
Wait for the Entangling Roots duration to be at or around 3 seconds left, regaining a little Mana outside the 5 second rule, and then continue your attack by casting Wrath.
You should easily be able to cast Wrath twice more, and still have time to decide whether you want to cast Entangling Roots again, or simply finish the target off with Moonfire/Rejuvenation/melee.
There is always a chance that your target can break the root early, but since you were maneuvering to extreme range, if he does you can begin casting Entangling Roots again right away, and have it activate as he reaches you.
You can keep rooting your target, getting to extreme range, recover some Mana and hit him with Wrath for as long as your Mana holds out. If you get impatient, then as soon as you reach extreme range, you can begin casting Wrath immediately; the damage only has a chance to break Root early, it's not always guaranteed to happen.
Tip: Higher ranked versions of Entangling Roots have longer durations as you level up. However, if used against other players in PvP, it will always have a maximum duration of 12 seconds, and each subsequent application against the same target has it's duration halved (12 seconds on first application, then 6 seconds, 3 seconds, and finally the target is immune).
The other, and much more common use of Entangling Roots is to deal with additional mobs.
There are always going to be times when you are engaged in one fight, and you pull a second mob accidentally. That's a good time to hit the new mob with Entangling Roots, back off a few yards so he can't hit you anymore, and focus on burning down your original target as fast as you can.
If you are a Tauren, the perfect time to use War Stomp is when both targets are in melee range. A fast .5 second cast War Stomp and the targets are stunned just long enough to let you get Entangling Roots cast on the add without interruption.
New abilities at level 10
At level 10, you will get to train Moonfire (rank 2), Rejuvenation (rank 2), and Mark of the Wild (rank 2).
A quick note on Mark of the Wild; at rank 2, your MotW begins to add a bonus to all attributes, in addition to the bonus armor. This benefits all classes, and only gets better as your rank increases. Make sure you always keep MotW cast on yourself and fellow party members.
Since you didn't get any new spells in this level, nothing in the casting portion of your combat sequence should change.
Level 10 is still cause for rejoicing, however, for lo and behold, you finally get what you've been waiting for; your first chance to learn a new form to shapechange into, Bear form.
Both the Alliance and Horde class trainers will give you the first quest in the chain, Heeding the Call, that leads to Bear form. You do not have to visit a certain trainer; any of your class trainers will have the quest waiting for you at 10th.
Along with the quest, they will teach you your solitary class teleport spell, Teleport: Moonglade. The quest chain will culminate in summoning and fighting Lunaclaw (a level 12 Moonkin), and speaking with his spirit to earn your Bear form and unlock the Feral Combat abilities and talent tree.
A step by step walk through of the quests from both the Alliance and the Horde perspectives is a little beyond the scope of this guide, but you can find an excellent breakdown of the quests in the chain, and how to find Lunaclaw, at Wowwiki's website here.
Every part of the quest chain is easily soloed; they are simply a collection of 'travel here and talk to' quests that introduce you to some of the lore behind the Druid.
The final solo fight against Lunaclaw is also easy to complete at level 10.
For Tauren Druids, the Moonkin Stone that you will use to summon Lunaclaw is behind a building on the right, just as you cross from Mulgore into the Barrens. There are no mobs around the stone to clear before you begin, although there are some level 20 wandering mobs that you should watch out for. The fight is entirely outdoors, so you can set up and fight Lunaclaw as though it were any other battle.
For Night Elf Druids, the Moonkin Stone will be found in the back of a cave in Darkshore, just east of Auberdine and across the road. The cave itself is in a little hollow area heavily patrolled by level 12 and 13 Moonkins.
I actually feel a little sorry for the Horde on this chain. Going forth at level 10 solo to Darkshore, clearing the level 12 and 13 Moonkins that patrol the area, and then taking down Lunaclaw gives you a solid feeling of accomplishment in playing your class on the Alliance side.
Using the combat techniques you have already practiced, here is the way I suggest taking down Lunaclaw as a Night Elf.
First, approach the area and observe the Moonkin that patrol. There should also be bears in the area that will attack you if you get too close to them. Pick an area outside the cave that you want to fight your battle in, and begin taking down any Moonkin or Bear that looks like it might get drawn into the fight.
You're going to want to clear a decent area to work in, because your Entangling Roots do not work underground... or in a cave.
When you've cleared an area, run into the cave to apply your Cenarion Lunardust to activate the Moonkin Stone. When Lunaclaw appears, back quickly out of the cave and into your cleared area. Once outside, you will have full use of your Entangling Roots against him, and your only danger will be dealing with any additional mobs that you might have missed in your preparations.
If you have been practicing any of the techniques in this guide, you should have no problems with Lunaclaw at all.
After you speak to the spirit of Lunaclaw, turn in the Body and Heart quest to your trainer.
Congratulations! You have now attained your Bear form, and opened up the Feral Combat talent tree. You gain the new Feral abilities Growl and Maul, and have access to Demoralizing Roar from the trainer.
Discussing Bear form in more detail will have to wait until next week, but for now, enjoy having the ability to shift into a form that provides you with boosted Attack Power (3x your level, or +30 Attack Power at level 10), 180% bonus to base Armor (100 base Armor becomes 280 armor value in Bear form) and +25% Stamina.
In effect, we can add shifting into this form immediately to our combat sequence, like so;
Move to extreme range and engage with two Wraths.
Cast Entangling Roots on the target.
Move to a safe area at extreme range from the target.
Wait for Entangling Roots to be at 3 seconds left.
Continue your attack with Wrath x2.
As the target gets close to melee range, cast Moonfire, Rejuvenation, and then Bear form.
Use Demoralizing Roar to reduce your targets attack power, and Maul him whenever your rage allows.
When soloing a single mob in Bear form, and staying in Bear form, you lose the ability to re-apply Moonfire, or cast Rejuvenation or Healing Touch.
What you gain is increased survivability and stronger melee combat power. The 5 second rule applies to shapeshifting; you begin regenerating your Mana 5 seconds after you shift into a new form. Using Feral abilities such as Growl or Maul do not reset the 5 second rule. So if you are in the thick of it and almost out of Mana, casting bear form at the last second is much better than trying to whack your enemies with a stick.
When next we meet, we will pick up where we leave off, and visit the adventuring uses of bear form and shifting, find places to spend those talent points, take a look at Aquatic form, and trudge on through until the glory of Cat form is finally achieved.
Until then, have a great week!