Yeah, I know, I almost never do this on the blog. This was a damn good question, so what the heck. I’ll push back the other four posts I was in the middle of writing to answer it.
Hey there, I’ve been reading your blog for a while, and I have started
down the druid road. I’ve got 3 toons at 80 already (all of which
happen to be hordies on Kael’thas), but at the prodding of my
guildmates, I made a druid. Well, it wasn’t so much prodding as me
saying “Druid or Rogue” and the general consensus come back “druid.”
I haven’t played one since the closed beta, but I’ve already enjoyed
it a lot more than I did then.
So, to my inquiry… I can’t find much on the “leveling” aspect of the
class that’s been updated since TBC. Do you have any generalized
advice or suggestions? I’m drawn to feral, which is supposed to be
the hotness in terms of leveling and versatility, but I’m kind of at a
loss for which direction to take my talents. Is it better to lean
bear in terms of leveling and survivability, or is it better to shoot
for raw damage and roll cat-esque talents?
First, thanks for the letter, Chris. And damn good questions.
Let me first get this out of the way; if what you want is the absolute smoothest or fastest possible leveling experience, I would go with Balance.
The reason is attitude more than anything else. When you start at level 1, you start as a caster, and are stuck in it until level 10. That get’s you accustomed to the gear and playstyle. You have crowd control, ranged attacks, all sorts of fun stuff.
When you get Bear at 10, unless you’re rich from higher level toons you typically don’t totally redo gear choices, and having half caster/half bear gear or spec just sucks from 10 to 20. Plus, Bear is very underpowered in terms of DPS from 10 to 20 compared to caster style. If you DO max out the agi/str/stam/armor value gear and go with Feral Talents, then you’ll do great as a partner of another DPS player as a bear, but you really won’t enjoy the soloing from 10 to 20.
Now, once you are level 20, and you’ve got Cat form, it’s a hard decision. Again, to go Cat, you have to completely regear from your caster stuff with all new gear with Strength/Agility/Attack Power/Crit/Stam as your stat choices.
As a refresher, in Cat and Bear, 1 point of Strength equals 2 Attack Power, and in Cat form ONLY, 1 point of Agility equals 1 point of Attack Power.
I’m going to assume from your letter that you want to go Feral as you said, and my blessings upon you. I chose Feral because I love it… I’m not about what feels easiest, personally. Also, there is a lot more leather Cat gear than there is leather caster gear in early levels, thanks to our friends the Rogues.
Cat DPS is similar to a Rogue, you’ve got Stealth, you’ve got Finishing Moves and points, you use Energy as you use abilities, etc.
The biggest tradeoff is that you lose stunlock capability and massive evil in toying with your pray for the ability to shift out of Cat form to cast instant heal over time spells on yourself, and then shift into Bear to wear multiple opponents down.
I’m writing a series of articles about low level Bear tanking right now, and I wasn’t planning on talking about Cat DPS, because there are several great Cat DPS blogs.
But in general terms, as a player focused on Cat, you’ve got very good DPS. You’re DPS won’t be as big a burst out of the gate as a Rogue, but it will be very good compared to other melee. On single targets you’ll be extremely powerful, and I would level using Talents to maximize that Cat power.
Even so, the Feral Tree combines enough other things that your Bear form won’t just be an afterthought.
And because of that, by maximizing Cat and keeping balanced Feral Gear, you’ll find that it’s multiple pulls where you’ll really tear things up if you take the time to have fun.
I’ll give you one example.
Say you’ve got three mobs in front of you. By level 30, you’ve got Bear Swipe and Maul, and in Cat form you’ve got Claw and Rip. You’ve also got both Rejuvenation and Regrowth, and of course Entangling Roots.
Assume there is one caster in the group.
You can start in caster form at max range, cast Regrowth on yourself (while out of combat), cast an Entangling Roots at a melee fighting target far from the ranged mob (so you won’t be in melee range while dealing with the caster) and then pop into Bear and activate Enrage, run up to the ranged mob (Demoralyzing Roar) and begin going to town on both targets, using Glyphed Maul primarily on the caster, and Swipe of course, burning him down.
The caster will die, and the Entangled target will probably be free and on you at this point. If you’re health is getting low, then you can cast Rejuvenation right from your button bar to automatically pop you into caster form, and then decide whether to pop back into Bear and keep going, or into Cat for faster DPS if you think you can take two at once.
Once the second one is dead, flip into Bear if you ain’t already there, Bash the last one to stun it, pop into caster and cast another Regrowth and Rejuve, and then leisurely finish him up.
I say this is a three mob pull, but honestly, I’ve done this for over 15 in a row, in a stream. Using Cat when low numbers of mobs are on you, Bear when you’ve got several, and Bash and Rejuvenation and Regrowth to keep health coming in as you go makes things very fun.
If so, then you might not really be cut out for Feral. You’ve got all these tools to use, and you can really use them to screw with the enemy by remembering your strengths;
- Each form has a purpose.
- Caster Form has solid DPS ranged spells, but instant cast heals over time that keep ticking regardless of what form you’re in are awesome.
- Bear form is very durable, has attacks to hurt multiple mobs, especially if you’re geared appropriately and have a Rejuve and Regrowth ticking away on you. Plus, you get Maul Glyphed giving you big whacks on two targets, and a single target Bash stun for you to shift out and cast more heals.
- Cat form is kinda squishy, but does great single target DPS, and if your health starts dropping, you’ve always got the Rejuve/Bear combo to fall back on.
- Most of all, fast DPS in Cat at the cost of being squishy, or slow DPS in Bear with the benefit of greater mitigation and higher health from the same gear, gives you the power to use your judgment on the fly to decide what’s best in your current circumstances.
As far as a leveling Talent spec, what I’ll do is invite some of my blog readers that run their own awesome Feral Cat blogs to help you out. I’m really focused on that wierd subsect of people like me, that like to level as a focused Bear tank and play grouped the whole way. I’m not testing leveling a Cat druid at the moment, and what the heck… I’d love to see some attention go to the Cat Druid bloggers that rock.
I hope that some of what I’ve said helps, Chris, and I look forward to hearing more of your experiences as you level!