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Shifting Perspectives: Balance 101, part 3

Tyler Caraway

9. Basic balance game play:

Sadly, balance does not have an awesome flow chart like cat druids have. It almost makes me sad at times. We do, however, have something of a priority system in place of an actual rotation. Here is essentially how the balance system works:

  1. Apply Faerie Fire to the boss.
  2. If there is no Unholy Death Knight, cast a single Wrath to get Earth and Moon up.
  3. Apply Insect Swarm and then Moonfire.
  4. Unless your boss strategy is very strange, use Force of Nature and Starfall.
  5. Cast Wrath until you proc a Lunar Eclipse.
  6. Cast Starfire until you proc a Solar Eclipse.
  7. Reapply DoTs as they fall off.
  8. Use Force of Nature and Starfall as they come off cooldown.
Now, as I said earlier, there are a few tricks that you can utilize in order to maximize your DPS. The first trick to use is to try and time Starfall with either Lunar Eclipse falling off or a Solar Eclipse proccing. The main benefit of Starfall is not the increased damage, even though that is a very good perk, but it is also the vast increase in Nature's Grace uptime while Starfall is active. Since Nature's Grace should be up 100% of the time during a Lunar Eclipse anyway, it is mostly worthless to use Starfall during this period. That is why you want to wait a few seconds to make use of this perk.

As with any other DPS class that has any long cooldowns, try and time using Force of Nature with Bloodlust. Making sure you know when Bloodlust is going to be used is very important for this because Force of Nature has to already be active in order for your Treants to benefit from it.

There are times when staggering the reapplication of Moonfire can result in a DPS gain. Moonfire has a 15 second duration, as does each Eclipse proc. If Moonfire drops off right as you get a Solar Eclipse proc, and you instantly refresh it, then you will not be able to benefit from the Glyph of Starfire. Due to this, try to wait a few seconds to reapply Moonfire on the boss. Depending on RNG, you may not always get Lunar Eclipse up before Moonfire falls off, but the risk of not getting because of RNG is always better than knowing that you will never get it.

If you are going to be using a potion during the encounter, then use a Potion of Speed and try your very best to time it with a good Lunar Eclipse - that is, one in which you do not expect to have to move. If you know there is a high probability that you will have to move during that Lunar Eclipse, then wait to use your potion. You only get one per encounter and it isn't going anywhere. If you are planning on using the 'two potion' trick then you will want to use a Potion of Wild Magic before the encounter starts. Wild Magic is better than Speed at the start of the encounter because you'll be applying DoTs, using long cooldowns, and casting Wrath in order to proc Lunar Eclipse. None of those options benefit very much from Haste.

When it comes to add-ons, balance druids got lucky in not really being required to use any. Using the add-on Squawk and Awe is very beneficial but not a requirement. SaA tracks your DoTs (including extensions on Moonfire,) your long cooldowns, procs, and, most importantly, Eclipse. Beyond that Quartz is a good add-on for any casting class.

10. Gems:

Gem choices for balance druids are rather straight forward. There are not too many traps to fall into.

Meta: Chaotic Skyflare Diamond is the only option to go with, no questions asked.

Red Sockets
: All red sockets should be gemmed with Runed Cardinal Ruby.

Yellow Sockets: Yellow sockets offer a little bit of a choice. If it is an item in which you are going for the socket bonus, and in most cases you will on items that have these sockets, then the choice is either Potent Ametrine or Reckless Ametrine. If you are under the 400 Haste mark, then the latter option is going to be your best choice. If you are over the 400 Haste mark, then go with the former. Now, if you happen to be under the Hit Cap, then you will want to use either Veiled Ametrine or Rigid King's Amber depending on how much Hit you need. Use Veileds for all odd multiples of 10 and Rigids for all even multiples of 10 - rounding how much you need as applicable.

Blue Sockets: This is the place where players generally have the most trouble. For a balance druid, you only want to use two, and no more than two, Purified Dreadstones within your gear. You always want to put Purified Dreadstones into the pieces of gear that will net you the highest socket bonus. If you have three blue sockets, then find those two items that give the highest bonus and socket those with your Purifieds. After all of your Purified gems are set, socket all remaining blue sockets with Runed Cardinal Rubies.

Socket Bonuses: I brushed up on this for each specific gem, but I'll give some more specific information here. Socket bonuses can be very hit or miss when it comes to balance druids.
  • If the item has all red sockets, then go for the bonus.
  • If the item has all yellow sockets, then go for the bonus.
  • If the item has all blue sockets, then go for the bonus - the aforementioned caveat withstanding.
  • If the item has red/yellow sockets, then go for the bonus.
  • If the item has red/blue sockets, then go for the bonus - the aforementioned caveat withstanding.
  • If the item has blue/yellow sockets, then go for the bonus if, and only if, this is one of the best places to use one of your Purified Dreadstones. If you are not going to use a Purified Dreadstone in the blue socket, then use another Runed Cardinal Ruby in the yellow socket.
  • If the item has red/blue/yellow sockets, then go for the bonus only if you are using one of your Purifieds in this slot. Otherwise, socket everything with Runed Cardinal Rubies.
11. Glyphs:

There are three primary choices for balance druid glyphs.
These choices are standard and there really is not much else for you to use. The only optional choices here is with the Glyph of Insect Swarm. If your guild wishes for you to not use the Glyph of Insect Swarm so that you are able to provide the chance to hit debuff on a boss, then you should replace it with the Glyph of Starfall. Do not use Glyph of Focus. Starfall's damage, save in AoE situations, is very terrible and it does not scale very well. The primary benefit of using Starfall in a single target situation is for Nature's Grace. Reducing the cooldown on Starfall helps with this, increasing the damage of Starfall does not.

Never use Glyph of Innervate. If you are having mana issues, then move your two floater points into mana regeneration talents. If you are still having mana issues at that point, either you are doing something wrong or you are missing some crucial raid buffs. This glyph will not solve any of those problems. Glyph of Wrath, Glyph of Hurricane, and Glyph of Monsoon are all also terrible choices for PvE.

For minor glyphs, there aren't really any options that will impact your DPS at all, so you are pretty much free to choose whatever you want here. I would suggest Glyph of Unburdened Rebirth, and Glyph of the Wild. Really, though, you can take anything that makes you happy. There isn't really a right or wrong with minor glyphs.

12. Endgame Enchants

Which enchants to get is pretty much a cut and dry choice:

Helm: Arcanum of Burning Mysteries (Kirin Tor quartermaster)
Shoulders: Greater Inscription of the Storm (Sons of Hodir quartermaster), or the Inscription equivalent.
Cloak: Enchant Cloak - Greater Speed or the Engineering/Tailoring equivalent.
Chest: Enchant Chest - Powerful Stats
Bracers: Enchant Bracers - Superior Spellpower or Leatherworking equivalent.
Gloves: Enchant Gloves - Exceptional Spellpower or Hyperspeed Accelerators (Engineering)
Belt: Eternal Belt Buckle
Legs: Brilliant Spellthread
Boots: Enchant Boots - Tuskarr's Vitality
Weapon: Enchant Weapon - Might Spellpower or Enchant Staff - Greater Spellpower

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 stuck in caster form, we've got the skinny on druid changes in patch 3.3, a look at the disappearance of the bear tank, and thoughts on why you should be playing the class (or why not).

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