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Shifting Perspectives: Faction rewards for balance in 4.2

Tyler Caraway

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Shifting Perspectives for cat , bear , restoration and balance druids. Balance news comes at you every Friday -- learn how to master the forces of nature, and know what it means to be a giant laser turkey! Send your questions, comments, or something you'd like to see to

So, I guess there is going to be this whole patch thing coming out soon. It's great and all if you haven't heard about it: tons of new daily quests, a new faction, a new raid. There's also this awesome legendary staff involved, although I'm really not a staff person. It's not that I dislike them so much as I really prefer my one-handed weapon and off-hand. Maybe it's some residual shaman rubbing off on me or something.

Past the staff gripe, I need to bring another issue forward. This patch brings in two new "grinds" that players will be involved in. Both of these are essentially druid factions in one form of another, and frankly I find it offensive that we have to bother with gaining reputation or gather marks like the other, lesser classes. We're druids, they're druids, isn't there some kind of code that says we should just be given these things? Totally not fair. See if I defend Moonglade next Lunar Festival.

With that in mind, let's take a look at some of faction rewards that you can get in the next patch to help with our goal of destroying critters. In the name of nature, of course.

Gaining daily access

First and foremost is the newest daily quest hub which involves a rather lengthy grind in terms of time investment. In order to gain access to this hub, you have to have completed the Hyjal quest chain up to the rebirth of the Regrowth. Honestly, considering that leveling players have the choice between either starting in Hyjal or the vastly inferior Vashj'ir, I think it's a rather fair trade off.

In order to begin your new adventure, simply pick up the starter quest from any of the new adventure boards located in a major city. This will send you out to Sanctuary of Malorne in Hyjal where the druids are under attack. After the initial quest chain, you'll gain access to three daily quests. It takes 20 Marks of the World Tree to open the next stage, which requires three days' worth of questing to get.

Unlocking stage two brings you right into Firelands itself. Here, you'll have to complete another quest chain in order to unlock a new set of dailies to do. These new dailies allow you to gain up to 14 Marks per day. Getting to the third stage requires a massive 150 Marks in order to unlock. All in all, it takes at least 10 days to get there.

For the third part, you can choose to unlock either the Druids of the Talon or the Shadow Wardens. Both will unlock more daily quests for you to complete that will up the amount of Marks that you can earn per day to 23 max. It doesn't matter which you pick first as you gain nothing but quests and you eventually have to unlock both. In total, this phase takes 300 Marks to complete. It should take 7 days to unlock your second faction. Note that unlocking the second faction doesn't grant you any additional quests. You will get new quests, but you can only quest for either the Druids or the Wardens every day, so all you gain is variety.

After both factions have been unlocked, you will open up three new quests that will finally net you the rewards that you've been after. Each of these quests require 125 Marks in order to open, which will take you 6 days or so in order to reach -- potentially only 5 as you get some Marks from the initial quests. The three unlocks are the Ancients, the Armorer, and the Moonwell.

Unlocking your rewards

Which of the three quests you choose to unlock first is a pretty big deal in some respects. It determines which items you gain access to first, and it will slightly change the number of Marks that you can gain per day. Unlocking the Ancient gives you access to a new daily quest that awards 3 Marks; unlocking the Armorer opens up two new quests that award 1 Mark each; and opening the Moonwell doesn't give you any new daily quests, but you get an initial 15 Marks after unlocking it.

While the Marks you gain from each are different, it's worth noting that none of them change how long it will take to get the next unlock. After the first unlock, it will always take 5 days to get the next one. From start to finish, it will take you around 36 days, 35 at a minimum, in order to unlock everything. Which to unlock first, though? That depends on your item needs.

The Moonwell

The Armorer
The Ancient
Seems a bit lopsided, doesn't it? Unlocking the Moonwell is probably going to be your best first choice. You'll get access to a really awesome new trinket, a brilliant relic upgrade that everyone can use, and an off-hand that you can make use of as well. Overall, that's your best choice to open first in terms of the number and quality of items that you get. Trinkets are worth quite a lot, and relics aren't exactly common.

If your druid happens to be a blacksmith, going with the Armorer first holds its own rewards. You'll only really gain access to a belt for your personal use, but you'll also be able to pick up loads of great crafting recipes for gear that is going to be selling like hot cakes. Weapons are one of the biggest upgrades that any player can get, so having that is a total plus.

That being said, I wouldn't really suggest rushing off for that dagger. The one from heroic Magmaw is far better -- not just by ilevel but in itemization too. While heroic raiding content isn't taking any nerfs, you will gain access to better gear through Firelands, and Magmaw is really one of the easier heroic bosses to beat. Even convincing a guild 10-man run on an off-raid night to just go in and take down the worm shouldn't be difficult.

As a last thing to mention, you also gain Nightweaver's Amulet after you complete the Through the Gates of Hell quest in the second stage of the daily hub. It's a free middle version between the normal and heroic version of the neck from Valiona. Pretty sweet score.

Shocking lack in itemization

An extremely important thing to take note of in the daily quest rewards from Hyjal is that there are no spirit options. Now it could be that Blizzard just really hates healers, or they realized that in giving out spirit items via the daily quests they would effectively giving hybrid DPS casters two items while every other caster only gets a single item.

While we can live without the spirit, do take into account that it means you won't be able to get any hit from these items. Should you have hit from those pieces currently, you'll be losing it by upgrading. This isn't too big of a deal for a majority of the slots, but most druids currently use a spirit belt right now. The only way you won't be using a spirit belt is if you have the of the Feverflare enchantment from heroic Conclave of Winds.

Getting your revenge

On top of the new daily quest hub offering some really great rewards to players, there is also a new reputation-based faction titled Avengers of Hyjal. They're a not-so-fun group of druids that seem to totally hate on other druids. Seriously guys, why do I have to grind rep with you? I'm a flippin' druid too! I thought all druids were friends. Clearly, they don't read Alamo.

Despite my animosity towards them for not giving me a bro-fist right off the bat, they do have some pretty stellar rewards that you can claim by gaining their friendship. Reputation with them is earned exclusively through raiding Firelands; both bosses and trash. From what I recall hearing, trash only rewards reputation up to a certain point, so there's a limit to what you can gain via trash farming. If true, that's totally something I support.

Don't 100% quote me on that one, though. I could be misremembering or falling into someone with bad information -- or bugged information. It wasn't mentioned in the WoWhead write up, but they're rather scant on information anyway, and Curse is still dead at writing this. (Guys, you have to remember to feed the hamsters.)

Anyway, you get a new reward at each reputation level.

Friendly: Cloaks

Even though there is a healing option to take here, there isn't much of a reason to do so. Actually, there's no reason at all not to take the DPS cloak. It has hit on it, which is the same as spirit, and haste, which is far better than mastery. Still, it's worth mentioning that you have a terrible option if you want to ... use it as a bed sheet or something.

Honored: Belts

What's interesting about the belts is that none of the hybrid caster item slots have a healing option. There is no spirit mail, leather, nor cloth item to get. I think Blizzard seems to have learned from their initial "mistake" in giving hybrid casters far easier access to hit than pure casters due to everything having a spirit on it. Now it seems you'll only get spirit if you can similarly get hit.

Revered: Trinkets!

I go through all that praise for Blizzard and then they go and do this. I guess I can't complain though! If you need the hit, then getting the "healer" trinket is one of the best options that you could possible pick up. In fact, I'd probably even suggest making room for the hit in a lot of cases. Even if you reforge that massive amounts of spirit into haste, the Quintessence is a far better choice than the Rune. How sad.

Exalted - rings

And again with the whole smacking-my-idea-in-the-face thing. This one is forgivable, though, since it is the end item and it would be rather unfair to skip over healers. The DPS-centered ring is a far better choice than the "healer" ring, once again due to the whole haste being better than mastery thing. The upside, however, is that you can use both! Not only can you, you absolutely should!

The rings are the same ilevel as what you can get from heroic Firelands content, and there isn't a better drop anywhere in the zone than these two rings. The dropped DPS ring is hit and mastery while the healer is spirit and crit. I feel a lot of crying coming on once people realize this, but, let's be honest, there really isn't anything Blizzard could have done to avoid the matter.

Itemization to come

There are a few subtle hints from the itemization that we're seeing. It does seem as though Blizzard realized that allowing hybrids have a ridiculous amount of spirit gear to choose from was a bit unfair towards the non-spirit wielding counterparts. I, personally, feel that it wasn't so much a design flaw in making too much spirit gear as it was making too much non-hit gear for other casters.

While it is true that we druids can "double up" on said rewards (as we will totally be doing with those sexy, sexy rings), there isn't quite as much incentive to do so. Hit caps out, so while we might be able to cap out faster than others, it doesn't really increase our gearing options overall.

This system does create a lot more work for the itemization team though. A spirit and haste ring is very, very tempting for balance druids, but it pales in comparison to a haste and mastery ring when we can get spirit or hit and haste in other slots. In the end, it's more a matter of -what- they pair with hit. The reputation cloaks were a good start, and I expect to see more of that in future patches.

Every week, Shifting Perspectives: Balance brings you druidic truth, beauty and insight ... from a moonkin's perspective. We'll help you level your brand new balance druid, tweak your UI and your endgame gear, analyze balance racials and abilities, and even walk you through PvP as a balance druid.

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