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Shifting Perspectives: Why play a druid?


Every week, WoW Insider brings you Shifting Perspectives for cat, bear, restoration and balance druids. Welcome to our DPS edition, brought to you by Chase Hasbrouck, aka Alaron of The Fluid Druid blog. This week, we consider our origins.

I've spent a lot of time in Realandia and Monkville lately, so I found myself a bit stuck for a topic to discuss this week. Of course, it was right there the whole time, and it took a note from a follower on Twitter to bring it out: Why not revisit why we play this glorious (no offense, Kormac) class in the first place? After all, if you're planning on switching mains for Mists of Pandaria, now's probably the best time to make that decision.

With that, I bring you: Why druids are awesome.

Shapeshifting Let's face it, who hasn't gone to a zoo, looked at the animals, and said, "Man, wouldn't it be cool if ...?" This, above everything else, is what sells me on the class. I'm not a boring biped casting spells or whacking away with swords. Instead, look! I'm a bear, mauling your face off! Now I'm a panther, pouncing on your face! Now I'm a happy little tree! OK, the metaphor breaks a bit here, but you get the point.

If I'm counting correctly, there are six forms that are open to all specializations: Bear, Cat, Stag/Cheetah, Seal/Orca, Bird, and Treant. (Two of those have options via glyphs, hence the slash.) Two more are open to certain specializations (Tree of Life, Moonkin/Astral), which gives us over 10 different options for "Poof! Now I'm a ..."

The little growl your character gives when you shift into one of the feral forms? Love it -- wouldn't miss it for the world. I always would play cool shapeshifting tricks when tanking, too. I remember back in Naxxramas, I would sneak into the middle of an enemy pack while prowling in cat form, then shift to bear with a yell of "Suddenly, BEAR!" I thought it was funny, anyway.

Movement Story time! My first character was a warlock, which I enjoyed until my guild needed a tank, so I went paladin. (Shock! Horror!) It never made it past level 50 or so. Part of that was the terribly boring leveling experience for paladins at the time, but it was mostly the overall leaden feeling that I was always forever catching up to someone, somewhere. Then I rolled a druid and realized how, well, how fast it played. Both feral and restoration had a faster than normal GCD, so things felt fun instead of slow for the first time. After playing for a while, I realized just how many movement tools druids actually have. (Not counting balance druids, sadly, but that's a problem that burdens all casters.)

  • Feline Swiftness 30% faster as a cat (now only 15% in Mists of Pandaria and a talent, but it's extended to all specs and cats get an extra 15% baked into the form, so you can stay at 30% if you choose).
  • Feral Charge, soon to be Wild Charge. Get there fastest with the furriest? Sadly, you can't take both Feline Swiftness and Wild Charge in Mists.
  • Dash and Stampeding Roar. BearCat: Double Dash!
  • Disentanglement It's not called that anymore, because it's specifically baked into the forms. Run, run as fast as you can; can't catch me, I'm a druid, understand?
Oh, and last but definitely not least is the fun of instant Flight Form, aka bird mode. If you've never played a druid to 60, it's hard to explain how much of a difference it makes being able to instantly shift into flight form makes, but it lets you do things no other class can do. Out in the middle of the ocean? Jump out of the water, shift to Flight Form, go. Need 10 widely scattered quest items? Pick them in Flight Form, without having to remount every time. Want to get down to the bottom of somewhere fast? Jump off a cliff, shift before you hit the ground. (Just be careful if you have lag, or ... oops.)

Shifting Perspectives Why play a druid SUN
Doing it all Druids are the only class with four specializations in the game, one specialization for each of the four combat roles. (Guardian and Feral used to be more or less awkwardly sandwiched together.) This means if you wake up one day and decide to want to try healing, or ranged DPS, or anything, you don't have to level another character -- just respec, get some gear, and go. Even better, the melee roles (feral/guardian) and the ranged roles (balance/restoration) share the majority of their gear, so you can fit out a reasonable gear set for each role with only two sets.

Why you might not be ready for Pure Awesome

That said, druids aren't right for everyone. They do have some definite differences that can affect their feel.
  • No gear If you're shapeshifted, you can't see all the cool stuff you've acquired. To some people, this isn't a big deal; to others, it's gamebreaking.
  • Sometimes have to do it all While this isn't as large an issue as it was in the past, let's face it: Druids are still the most hybrid class in the game. That means if your group or raid makeup changes and you need a new X, you're most likely to be the one who's asked to switch to an alternate role. If you like that style of gameplay, that makes you feel wanted and needed; if you prefer sticking to a single thing, that makes you feel jerked around.
  • Fewer tools in the toolbox Feral druids are patterned after rogues, while guardian druids are patterned after warriors; however, the druids have fewer abilities to use. They make up for this by having the rest of the druid toolbox to draw on; however, that just doesn't cut it for some players.
While I'm having lots of fun on the beta on my monk and he'll be an alt I play frequently, writing this out has reminded me of what's important: Druids 4 Lyfe. (Ahem.) Let me throw this back to you: If you're planning on staying primarily druid for Mists, what's your favorite aspect of the druid? Likewise, if you're switching away now or previously, what made you quit?

Looking for the latest and greatest in feral cat druid guides? Shifting Perspectives has the answers! Check out our guide to soloing instances and raids, as well as our top gear recommendations and feral guides to the Siege of Wyrmrest Temple and the Fall of Deathwing.

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