Worgen druids at the end of Cataclysm

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Shifting Perspectives for cat, bear, restoration and balance druids. This Tuesday, the claws come out.

In November 2010, before Cataclysm hit, I wrote a series of articles on why (or why not) to play a particular druidic race for theorycrafting, lore, and roleplay purposes. These articles turned out to be a really big hit with readers, and you can find them here:

This week, we're going to tackle the worgen, the strangest and most predatory of the four druid races -- and the one with the least sense of responsibility to any bit of territory that doesn't fall under the appellation of Gilneas.

The worgen

It's an odd thing to be writing about a druidic race that is more isolationist and xenophobic than the night elves, but the Gilneans have somehow managed this impressive feat. More than anything else, that's key to understanding their perspective on the world. If you're a worgen player, you're a Gilnean first and a druid at a distant second. That's slowly changing as the former inhabitants of that unhappy peninsula reintegrate into the world, but what I wrote a little more than a year ago is still very true, I think -- The Forsaken may have destroyed the Greymane Wall, but the average Gilnean's still got one built in his head.

What is it about druidism and its penchant for turning up among the lonelier races of the world? Is a certain amount of cultural introspection a requirement before a nation can produce druids? While writing this series, one of the things that quickly became apparent is how the isolationism of the original druidic race (the night elves) actually has a lot of parallels with the tauren and the worgen. (The Darkspear don't exactly fit this mold, I'll grant.)

So the Gilneans and the night elves are a good match for each others' insularity, and they probably have a cordial if not particularly close relationship sharing space in Darnassus, but they're not a great ideological match in other ways. Here, too, we're starting to see the cracks in druidic unity that we've already talked about with respect to the tauren. The night elves are facing an uncertain future without their immortality, and that's a problem to which the worgen can't possibly relate. Their concerns are more immediate. As long as Gilneas remains deserted and in ruins, don't expect a Gilnean's priorities to be elsewhere. The Molten Front? Mount Hyjal? Dragonblight? They're sideshows at best.

Merciless pragmatism

But that's consistent with the worgen druid's overriding sense of merciless pragmatism (one they share with the trolls). Druidism among the Gilneans started as a means of supporting crop production in a rocky land that had shut itself away from the world. They're grateful to the night elves for their tutelage, but they're not likely to be interested in the elven druids' deeper philosophical questions or eager to embrace a sense of responsibility for Azeroth as a whole. The question is always "What is this going to do for me?" or "What is this going to do for Gilneas?"

The wolf is never far from the surface, and the wolf's overriding concern is its pack. (Here, the parallels between that and Gilnean society as a whole are very apt.) For the worgen, everyone and everything else disappears into the amorphous other for which they feel no particular concern. And I think that explains in a lore sense why you still won't see too many worgen out and about in the druids' outreach efforts. You have to appeal to a worgen druid in an individual sense to get things done in a way that you don't with the night elves and the tauren. The elves feel collectively responsible for the guardianship of the natural world that they came so close to destroying, and the tauren see themselves as obligated to safeguard the Earthmother's creations. On the other hand, a worgen druid's response to a natural disaster will not necessarily be to help. The natural world is often destructive and predatory? Why is this such shocking news to everyone?

The worgen are arguably closest of the four druidic races to the sense of savagery and the wild that you would expect a feral to champion. (Or to put it another way, they don't have to spec feral to be feral, if that makes sense.) Night elves are comfortable with the brutality of nature, but they've been insulated from its worst effects long enough to grow arrogant about it. The tauren simply accept that things are the way they are. The trolls work to subvert phenomena they don't like by way of their loa.

And the worgen? As go the laws of the jungle, so goes their nation. To wit: Might makes right.

What do the worgen druids think of the pandaren? The pandaren are just one more new, weird thing in a world full of new, weird things. They'll probably appreciate the emphasis on balance in a more intellectual sense than the elves and the tauren do -- it basically describes their lives as worgen/human hybrids -- but that'll be it. They'll laugh at anyone trying to explain the concept of inner peace.

What is Azeroth's perspective on worgen druids right now? "You won't see them in town much, and when you do, they'll keep to themselves even more than the elves do. Oh, and unless you have something to say about Gilneas, forget it -- they don't know, and they don't care."

Good racials Nothing's changed since our original article on the subject. Worgen continue to have the best DPS racials among all four races, in addition to the only pure fun racial in Two Forms. Tanks will probably want to go night elf, but everyone else will get more benefit from the worgen. PvP players can go either way due to the usefulness of the night elf Shadowmeld.

Neutral points Honestly, I'm scratching my head. Viciousness and Darkflight are useful for just about everything you'd want to do in the game.

Shifting Perspectives: Bear and Resto Edition takes a peek at healer balance in Dragon Soul, discovers why bears and PvP gear are a pretty good mix, lends advice on gearing up to hit the Raid Finder, and helps you level a druid in the Cataclysm era.