Latest in

Image credit:

Shifting Perspectives: Guide to druid leveling in Cataclysm, part 2

Allison Robert

How to level as a bear

This section has been written by Allison Robert. If you plan on playing a bear druid, the Tuesday edition of Shifting Perspectives addresses feral tank issues, tips, and tricks.

If you're planning on leveling strictly as a bear, you will most likely want to stick to dungeons. While the bear can pump out some respectable damage at the level cap, it is not a very efficient quester, especially versus single mobs. Assuming you talent normally, the cat is still faster and more powerful. If you'd prefer to quest your way to 85, I would recommend doing so on a cat spec, and you'll want to read Chase's input on cat leveling below.

For better or worse, the bear rotation while tanking at early levels is extremely simple:
  1. Your initial damage abilities as a bear will be Mangle, Maul, and auto-attack. At level 18, you will gain the AoE Swipe. These are the only offensively oriented skills you will have until Lacerate at level 66, Pulverize at 67, and Thrash at 81.
  2. Mangle is your big single-target threat skill. Use it on cooldown and glyph it as soon as you can. Swipe as much as possible. Don't Maul until you have a lot of rage to dump, and make sure you glyph it as well. When you get Lacerate and Pulverize, use Lacerate as a filler on AoE pulls. On single targets, Pulverize your Lacerates at three stacks to maintain the crit buff. When Thrash finally shows up, use it on cooldown for AoE tanking and to add damage to single targets.
  3. Keep Demoralizing Roar up to reduce incoming damage. Enrage when you're low on rage, although you'll also want to perfect the art of banking rage toward the end of one pull to spend on the next. Feral Charge groups to give yourself a second or two of uninterrupted threat generation before your DPS catches up with you, or to root a runner.
  4. Cooldowns won't arrive until later: Survival Instincts at level 49 (at the earliest), Frenzied Regeneration at level 52, and Barkskin at level 58. Get used to using Barkskin as much as possible to reduce damage regularly. Survival Instincts should be used to blunt big incoming damage or to give the healer room to breathe on heavy AoE. Frenzied Regeneration is more problematic as it destroys your rage supply. Glyphing it is generally not advised for 5-man or leveling purposes.
  5. Always keep yourself and your group buffed with Mark of the Wild. At early levels, you may want to pop Thorns before AoE pulls to help with threat, or even cast a Rejuvenation on yourself before pulling.
  6. Train yourself into interrupting and stunning as much as you can with Skull Bash and Bash. Every mob you silence or stun is another few seconds' worth of damage you don't take.
To be frank, the bear leveling experience isn't one of Blizzard's successes in Cataclysm. The spec spends roughly 50 levels doing little other than Swiping everything in sight, and major survivability talents arrive slowly. However, leveling as a bear is still excellent practice for learning how to manage rage, pulling, interrupts, and groups themselves.

Bear talents

Finished talent spec 0/31/9. This is not a spec you will necessarily want to use at 85, but it does address more leveling-related concerns.
Bear gear

Look for leather gear with agility and stamina. Even very well-itemized strength tanking pieces are nearly always inferior to their melee leather counterparts, as the bear is so heavily reliant on agility.

More reading
How to level as a cat

This section has been written by Chase Hasbrouck. If you plan on playing a cat druid, the Sunday edition of Shifting Perspectives addresses feral DPS issues, tips, and tricks.

When first starting out, the cat rotation is pretty simple. You'll want to start with a Rake to begin your bleed damage, then Mangle a few times (or Claw for levels 8 and 9). That will kill most quest-type mobs. For things that are a little tougher, keep using Mangle as you have energy until you get 5 combo points, then use Ferocious Bite. For fights that look tricky, cast Thorns on yourself before engaging. For bosses, just make sure you reapply Rake when it wears off.

That's it until your 20s. You'll want to pick up the Feral Swiftness, Predatory Strikes, Primal Fury, and Fury Swipes talents. At level 22, you gain Ravage, which lets you unleash a powerful attack while prowling (stealthed). Combined with your Predatory Strikes talent, this is an excellent opener and should be used when possible. At 24, you'll also gain Skull Bash, which is a spell interrupt, and Faerie Fire, a debuff. Neither of these is essential for questing or leveling purposes, but they are required for group content, so feel free to get used to them now. Lastly, make sure you pick up the Glyph of Mangle at level 25.

Your 30s are where things start to get awesome. You'll be able to get Feral Charge at level 29 (get the glyph as well) and Stampede with your next talent points at 31 and 33. This will drastically speed up your killing times for single mobs, as you'll be able to skip the Prowl requirement; just Feral Charge in, Ravage, and dump the rest of your energy. At 35, you'll be able to start putting points into King of the Jungle, which turns Tiger's Fury from useless to essential. You now have two strong abilities with 30-second cooldowns, so you should find yourself falling into a natural rhythm when questing of using one per enemy. You also get Swipe at 36, which should only be used for situations with four+ enemies at once (mostly group content, though there's the occasional solo quest where in comes in handy).

In comparison, the 40s are a little dull. Once you get Leader of the Pack at 41, none of the talent choices are really all the special. If you are primarily leveling via groups, pick up Nurturing Instinct to help out your healer; otherwise, grab Feral Aggression. At level 46, you get Shred; feel free to ignore it for now.

At level 50, you'll get a new glyph slot, with Tiger's Fury being the only effective option. At level 54, you'll finally pick up Rip, which is a cornerstone ability for group content. It's a very strong damage over time effect; however, it's only worth using with 5 combo points, so you'll likely never use it for soloing. At this point, your rotation is mostly locked in; however, you'll want to switch to using Shred (and the Bloodletting glyph instead of Tiger's Fury) for groups once you get 3/3 in Rend and Tear at level 63.

Berserk finally comes along at level 69. It's very effective for mowing down enemies quickly, even though it's likely overkill for single quest mobs. Once you glyph it at level 75, though, Berserk + bear form Mangle becomes a very effective AoE for killing entire packs of quest mobs.

The last key part of our rotation comes at level 76, Savage Roar. This isn't too helpful for soloing, but for maximum DPS in a group, you'll want to keep the Rip, Rake, Mangle, and Savage Roar debuffs/buffs all rolling. This will take some practice; just keep working with it, and you'll be well set to start working on endgame content at 85.

More reading
Leveling as restoration

This section has been written by Allison Robert. If you plan on playing a restoration druid, the Tuesday edition of Shifting Perspectives addresses resto issues, tips, and tricks.

Leveling as restoration is not advised unless you really, really like instances; healing specs are explicitly group-oriented. Questing as a restoration-specced druid is fairly tedious because there's little in the tree to support DPS barring Fury of Stormrage. This guide has been written with the assumption that you are healing your way to 85 through the Dungeon Finder.

There's no rotation as such for healers. You'll learn to use the best spell for the right context. As most leveling dungeons are fairly easy -- and, in truth, the earliest can often be done without a healer at all -- you have a fairly wide margin for error while you're learning, so experiment and see what works best for you.
  1. Rejuvenation is your first, and arguably greatest, spell. Keep this running on your tank, glyph it as soon as you can, and slap it on anyone who's taken more than trivial damage. However, spreading it around too lavishly at early levels will run you OOM quickly.
  2. Nourish is a maintenance heal. While not as efficient as it'll be at 85, it's still a fairly low-cost way to do minor or routine healing.
  3. Swiftmend You'll get this automatically for speccing into restoration. An excellent spell, and one that should generally always be glyphed. Train yourself into using this on cooldown. Not only will it later proc Efflorescence (if talented), but it counts for Harmony, the resto druid mastery.
  4. Regrowth This is the druid's "flash heal" -- quick but expensive.
  5. Omen of Clarity is not a healing spell per se, but it does have a significant impact on your healing. When this procs, your next spell with a cast time (barring Nourish) is free, so try to use it for Regrowth or (later) Healing Touch.
  6. Remove Corruption The druid's dispel. This is now expensive, and for leveling 5-man work, you will probably not want or need to blow a lot of mana on frequent dispels for inconsequential debuffs. There are more serious debuffs awaiting you at higher levels, so you'll still want to know that they're there.
  7. Innervate Mana recovery.
  8. Wild Growth Assuming you've talented into restoration, you should get this powerful group HOT at level 47. It's excellent for medium group damage but likely to run you OOM if you rely on it too much. For leveling and 5-man purposes, do not glyph it.
  9. Lifebloom This stacks three times and should be kept running on your tank as much as possible. Several talents, and the druid's single-target healing more generally, depend on it. When talented through Empowered Touch, it can be extended on your target with Nourish, Regrowth, and Healing Touch. Lifebloom should be glyphed at later levels.
  10. Tranquility An extremely powerful, but channeled, AOE heal. Blow this when the group's taken (or taking) heavy damage, and preferably in combination with Barkskin to keep the spell's full duration protected.
  11. Tree of Life An all-purpose cooldown, useful for mana recovery, extra healing, or (if fight conditions allow) extra damage. Learning when and how best to use the Tree is a key part of every battle.
  12. Healing Touch A slow but big heal. Use it when you need to heal non-trivial damage on someone (usually a tank) and a HOT won't do it fast enough.

How does this all work in a 5-man? At earlier levels, you'll want to keep Rejuvenation running on your tank and do your maintenance and spot-healing with Nourish. Glyph Swiftmend as soon as possible and train yourself into using it on cooldown. When Omen of Clarity procs, use it for a free Regrowth.

At later levels with higher tank damage, Lifebloom should be kept running your tank in tandem with Rejuvenation (if necessary). Use Nourish to keep it refreshed. Omen of Clarity can be used for free Regrowths and Healing Touches (don't forget that either can be used to keep Lifebloom running). Swiftmend on cooldown. In emergencies, Tranquility and the Tree of Life should be used to keep the group alive.

Restoration talents

Finished talent spec: 8/0/31. Again, this is for leveling purposes.
  • Tier one Blessing of the Grove, Natural Shapeshifter, Naturalist, and Heart of the Wild. You'll probably want Naturalist first to decrease Nourish cast times. NS is actually of very little use overall, and you may want to avoid it for a few levels as a result. You're really after the increased healing from the linked talent Master Shapeshifter in tier two.
  • Tier two Master Shapeshifter and Improved Rejuvenation. Raiders at 85 will probably want Perseverance as well, but it's not necessary for leveling or 5-mans.
  • Tier three Revitalize and Nature's Swiftness. In general, you should macro Nature's Swiftness to a big heal (like the later Healing Touch) for emergencies. If you find yourself bored in 5-mans a lot, Fury of Stormrage is a good investment so you can DPS for free.
  • Tier four Empowered Touch and (eventually) Malfurion's Gift. You will not need Malfurion's Gift early as you don't get access to Lifebloom or Tranquility until much later, but you will eventually want it. In the meantime, Nature's Bounty is a good substitute and will guarantee a crit on most Regrowths. Whether you'll want to keep it at 85 is an individual matter, although personally I think it's an underrated talent.
  • Tier five Efflorescence, Wild Growth, and Nature's Cure. Assuming you've trained yourself into using Swiftmend on cooldown, Efflorescence can be a valuable source of group healing. Wild Growth is an integral component of druid AOE healing. While you may not need to keep Nature's Cure at 85 for raiding, it's generally a required talent for leveling and 5-man work due to the plentiful supply of magic debuffs.
  • Tier six Gift of the Earthmother and Swift Rejuvenation
  • Tier seven Tree of Life

Once you've filled out the restoration tree, you'll want Nature's Grace and Nature's Majesty from balance, and then Moonglow. Afterwards, you should have two points left to put where you want. If you're not having problems with mana, Genesis is a good pick. If you are, Furor in the feral tree is helpful. And at 85, you will probably want to reevaluate your build.

Restoration gear

Restoration players seek intellect, haste (to certain breakpoints), and mastery. You're not likely to find the latter two on much gear while leveling, but you should look for intellect leather (and, if necessary, cloth).

More reading

Shifting Perspectives helps you gear your bear druid, breaks down the facts about haste for trees, and then digs into the restoration mastery. You might also enjoy our look at the disappearance of the bear.

From around the web

ear iconeye icontext filevr