Every week, Shifting Perspectives examines issues affecting Druids and those who group with them. This week, we haul ourselves to Outland and are shocked to discover that +spellpower sometimes comes on leather.
The above video is the result of an idle question I was asked recently by a friend: "So how much damage would you guys do in caster form meleeing?" I started to answer and then realized I had no idea. The notion of actually hitting something with a weapon is utterly foreign to the class. We have claws and a can of celestial pain for that nonsense if provoked, but still, the question was pretty interesting, particularly because after seeing Prinnygod's comment from last week I started to wonder about all the different ways you could level as a Druid if you deliberately avoided Cat and Moonkin. Sure, you'd be a gibbering wreck at the level cap, but that's beside the point. Blizzard once had a talent called Weapon Balance in the Balance tree that improved our melee damage with weapons by 10% -- they were expecting us to hit things. I wondered how that would have worked out if Druid talent trees had never been overhauled.
So I took my main to the mobs outside the Argent Tournament and smacked stuff while running a stopwatch. What you'll see here is a level 79 Frostbrood Whelp with 12,600 health which took me 34.4 seconds to kill, with two global cooldowns devoted to casting a Rejuvenation and then a Lifebloom. I'm currently on a Feral (Bear) spec and thus wearing gear that does help one's melee damage, mind you, but that still works out to a godawful 366.28 DPS. The moral of our little story can be found at the end of the video. Master of Arms is going to be a real trip.
Oh well. Fortunately for us, we don't have to level like that, but regrettably I have no new trainable abilities to discuss this week. We'll look at the new 51-point talents you'll be getting, but apart from that, levels 51 through 60 are more of the same old thing. However, they will go faster than previous levels (or at least seem to do so), as both Balance and Feral have some important damage and utility talents under their belts now.
Cower, rank 2: standard upgrade. Again, you're probably not going to find much use for this.
Claw, rank 5: standard upgrade, but Claw is absolutely worthless as a damage skill if you're Feral and have Mangle. The two abilities have the same energy cost, but Mangle does substantially more damage while also increasing the damage from bleeds and Shred. Point being, there's no reason to have Claw on your bars at this point.
All set? Head for the Blasted Land portals that you'll now find in your factions' major cities (located next to the portal trainers, or in their general area) and get thee to Outland. Both Balance and Feral players will notice rather quickly that there's a lot of Druid leather among the quest rewards and instance drops, which is a lovely change from the relative 1-58 gear drought for Balance particularly. You'll also note that the same or similar gear rewards are often present across a variety of quests, which is a fantastic opportunity to build a halfway-decent offset -- and you're going to want to do precisely that.
Why? After leveling two characters recently through Outland, it's apparent that, while the flood of new Death Knights has ebbed somewhat, they're still a significant portion of the leveling population. Ferals in particular are going to face a lot of competition for melee DPS and tank slots in groups. Now that it's relatively easy to build a healing offset -- and so incredibly easy to find a healing slot in 5-mans -- I'd advise all Druid players to try their hand at healing Outland 5-mans.
Get ready for an extraordinarily expensive level, but at least you'll save money on one thing...
Oh, yes, and here's what you're really turning 60 for:
F*#& YEAH FLIGHT FORM: Newly-improved to 150% speed and an absolute godsend for leveling purposes, Flight Form (and later Swift Flight Form) is your bestest buddy. While it's only usable out of combat, it's nonetheless insta-cast and fabulous for leveling efficiency, transportation, and -- forgive me -- healing on the "fly." Moreover, you can't be knocked out of flight form while damaged (with the exception of the bombs tossed out during Netherwing air races, which you won't have to worry about for 10 levels anyway), which is a huge bonus over normal flying mounts. You even get Expert Riding trained for free while picking up Flight Form. What's not to love (except for the long ears if you're a Tauren)?
Getting enough altitude while damaged, shifting out to cast Rejuvenation and Lifebloom, and popping back into form before you hit the ground. Continue on your merry way while the HoT's tick. Herbalists can also use Lifeblood without having to leave form, incidentally.
Hit X (or whatever hotkey you use for sitting) while on the ground in order to perch.
Herbalists and Skinners can pick herbs and skin without ever leaving form, making the Druid a superlative farmer for both professions.
The famous Rawrbomb if you're feral. Due to so many feral builds these days not incorporating 5/5 Furor, you may need to Enrage as you plummet in order to get the rage you'll need for Feral Charge:
Macro /mountspecial and use it while you're sitting.
The insta-cast nature of the ability makes it a fantastic escape tool even in world PvP; pop Dash or Travel Form to outdistance an opponent, get the hell out of combat, and take to the air as fast as you can. Heal up and stealth back. This also works for mobs; as long as you can get airborne, you'll (usually) be safe.
You'll find more tricks here on the Wowwiki page on flight form.
Once you're all done giddily playing around with Flight Form (and I seriously spent hours and hours doing nothing but flying around after I got it), take a peek at your 51-point talents:
BALANCE 51-POINT TALENT -- STARFALL: One of the loveliest spell graphics in the game, Starfall is a powerful fire-and-forget damage ability that you'll be making good use of at 80 with some experience under your belt, but at 60 I feel more obligated to warn you about its potential drawbacks while you're learning how to use it. While soloing and leveling it's -- regrettably -- an extraordinarily easy way to get yourself killed. The stars hit all around you within a 30-yard range, which is slightly less than the range of your other damage abilities assuming you have Nature's Reach (which extends the range of your Balance spells to 36 yards). As a general rule of thumb, if you can hit something with a Wrath, be prepared for Starfall to aggro it. In a densely-populated mob area or 5-man, it's not unusual to pop Starfall for the purpose of damaging one group and accidentally aggro the next. Because the spell also chains to any mob that's within 5 yards of a mob that gets hit, you can also snag patrols. You may want to head to a low-level area in order to experiment with when and where to pop Starfall for maximum effect. Once you get the hang of it, Starfall's nothing but gravy, and very pretty, high-damage gravy at that. For AoE situations, Starfall + Hurricane = mobs go boom.
FERAL 51-POINT TALENT -- BERSERK: I'm still holding out hope that Blizzard will give this a somewhat different animation. I'd really wanted something along the lines of Bestial Wrath, because an enormous, angry bear/cat would easily be the best Feral animation of all time. That little green circle -- what is that? Anyway, Berserk is invaluable as the Druid's only Fear break apart from resorting to a PvP trinket, and both Bears and Cats will get great use from it in PvE and PvP. For Bears, Berserk is the only source of multi-target burst threat you're going to get, so you're going to want to pop it on any large pulls and tab-target to spread the love around (don't forget that you can keep queuing Maul while using Mangle). You'll also want to pop it on fights like King Dred, Auriaya, Argent Confessor Paletress, and/or Faction Champions to avoid or escape Fear. Cats will want to pop Berserk for Fears as well, but they'll also get a lot out of it in conjunction with Swipe on trash pulls for absolutely unbelievable AoE damage. For single-target DPS, use it with Heroism/Bloodlust on raid bosses to pump out the most damage possible.