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Shifting Perspectives: Leveling and Talent specs

Every Tuesday, Shifting Perspectives explores issues affecting druids and those who group with them. This week John Patricelli, sometimes known as the Big Bear Butt Blogger, continues the new Druid leveling guide with leveling Talent specs from 10 to 70.

Welcome back to tips on leveling your new Druid!

In previous articles, we've talked about getting your UI and Addons set up the way you'd like, the basics of casting tactics and timing your abilities, and leveling up to 10.

We finished the last article by getting your bear form, unlocking your Talent trees and getting your very first Talent point.

In this section, we're going to explore Leveling Talent specs in more detail, and not just levels 11-20, but leveling all the way to 70.

So let's get started!


Talent Points

At level 10, you got your first talent point. You'll get another one every level, you can spend them any way you'd like, and you have three Talent trees that they can be distributed among; Balance, Feral and Restoration.

Each Talent tree focuses on one particular aspect of Druid game play; Balance is designed mostly for those who want to optimize ranged casting, Feral is for those that want to claw faces in melee, and Restoration is for those that want to specialize in healing themselves and others.

If you choose one path to specialize in, you will be selecting talents that improve how well you perform that role. You will still have access to all of your normal abilities; you'll just be better at some than others.

You can choose to spread your Talent points amongst all three trees, if you'd like, but what are considered the most beneficial talents are pretty far down each tree, requiring you to spend quite a few points to reach them. Spreading your points around won't make you a jack-of-all-trades; it'll just prevent you from getting any of the real goodies that make the Druid class shine.

Some talents in a tree benefit more than one role; you can't just put all your points in one talent tree and call it good.

What each talent does, and how useful it may be for you is a massive topic; instead of covering it in detail here, I'm going to send you to the official WoW Forums Druid Talent thread to learn more.


Now, I'm a tried and true Feral advocate. So it should come as no surprise to anyone that my bias for the Feral Druid lifestyle is going to come into play here. For leveling, I'm going to recommend placing your points into, and focusing your playstyle on, talents that benefit Feral melee in-your-face combat.

But before I talk about what talents I recommend at each level of progression, I'd like to show you the base Feral talent spec at Level 70, and discuss a couple of variations in finishing it out. I feel it is always a good idea to know what it is you're working towards.

No matter whether your end-game aspirations are for tanking or for melee cat DPS, the basic spec for Feral starts the same;

Feral Combat (42 points)

  • 5/5 Ferocity
  • 3/3 Feral Instinct
  • 3/3 Thick Hide
  • 2/2 Feral Swiftness
  • 1/1 Feral Charge
  • 3/3 Sharpened Claws
  • 3/3 Predatory Strikes
  • 2/2 Primal Fury
  • 1/1 Faerie Fire (Feral)
  • 2/2 Savage Fury
  • 5/5 Heart of the Wild
  • 3/3 Survival of the Fittest
  • 1/1 Leader of the Pack
  • 2/2 Improved Leader of the Pack
  • 5/5 Predatory Instincts
  • 1/1 Mangle

Restoration (11 points)

  • 5/5 Furor
  • 5/5 Naturalist
  • 1/1 Omen of Clarity

No matter how I work with the talents available, I keep coming back to this as the foundation.

You can reach this spec at level 62, leaving 8 points to play with as you continue to level to 70.

Additional talents that you will have to choose from that will help a Feral druid in some way, in no particular order, include;

  • Shredding Attacks (2 points)
  • Feral Aggression (5 points)
  • Natures' Grasp/Improved Natures' Grasp (5 points)
  • Control Of Nature (3 points)
  • Brutal Impact (2 points)
  • Nurturing Instinct (2 points)
  • Primal Tenacity (3 points)
  • Natural Shapeshifter (3 points)
  • Intensity (3 points)

So from level 62 to level 70, you'll earn an additional 8 points to spend, and you'll have 28 points worth of useful Talents to choose from. Time for some decisions based on playstyle.

Raiding additions

The way to finish your spec off for raiding, is to add;

  • 2/2 Shredding Attacks
  • 3/3 Primal Tenacity
  • 3/3 Intensity

Shredding Attacks will benefit your most-often used cat and bear attacks when raiding. Shred is the premier cat attack move in raids, but it requires you to be behind your opponent, something that doesn't happen in the solo game unless you've stunned your prey. Lacerate is, likewise, the most-spammed bear tanking threat generator. Anything that reduces the Rage or Energy cost on these attacks is highly beneficial to raiding.

Primal Tenacity increases your Stun and Fear resistance by 15%. If you are tanking in bear form in a group without a Priest to provide Fear Ward, it can really save your party. And the less time you spend stunned, the more time you have to generate threat. Every little bit helps.

Intensity allows you to instantly gain 10 Rage when Enrage is activated. This can be a really useful Talent, when you have high armor gear for tanking. When Enrage is activated, you begin gaining 20 Rage over 10 seconds. With Intensity, you get an instant 10 Rage boost, for when you really need that Mangle to re-establish aggro right now.

The downside to Enrage, of course, is that your armor is reduced during the effect. In bear form your armor is reduced by 27%, in dire bear form its reduced by 16%.

By way of example, if you have 30,366 armor in dire bear form, and you trigger Enrage, your armor drops by 16%, or 4,859, to a final total of 25,507 armor for the entire 10 second duration of the spell.

So Enrage is most useful when tanking moderately weak trash mobs that just don't hit you hard enough to give you a lot of Rage, and not so much when tanking a real heavy-hitting boss like Prince Malchazeen that can keep you in a perma-Rage situation, but hits so hard in Phase Two that you'll want your armor at max for the entire duration of the fight.

Solo cat DPS

For a casual soloing cat, when you're leveling up or you don't anticipate being in an end-game raiding situation, you have a few other options.

When soloing, I like having a longer duration stun from Pounce or Bash to give myself more time for heals and drinking potions. I like having the Mana to be able to shift between forms frequently, and I like having a bit more damage from my Ferocious Bite finishing move.

So the solo spec I recommend is;

  • 2/2 Brutal Impact
  • 3/3 Natural Shapeshifter
  • 3/5 Feral Aggression

The last 3 points that I put into Feral Aggression are really kind of fluid. An argument could be made for Natures' Grasp for PvP playing, Primal Tenacity for greater survivability or even Nurturing Instinct for a teeny bit more +healing when in DPS gear. The final choice you may make among these, and any end game talents, is ultimately up to you.

Now that we've covered the foundation of level 70 Feral spec and a few variations, let's break down the talents to choose when leveling.

Leveling Talent choices

When leveling as Feral, the goal is to push as hard down the Feral tree as you can to get Mangle at level 50. Mangle does outstanding damage in both cat and dire bear forms. Once you have Mangle, you can replace your regular Claw Attack with it in cat form, and use it as your default attack form in bear, relegating Maul to an honorable assist role.

But level 50 is a long way away when you're starting leveling. I'm going to recommend you spend your talent points in a way that benefits you now, and then re spec later on at 50 when it's time to get your Mangle.

Levels 10 - 49

  • 5/5 Furor
  • 5/5 Ferocity
  • 5/5 Naturalist
  • 1/1 Omen of Clarity
  • 3/3 Feral Instinct
  • 2/2 Brutal Impact
  • 3/3 Sharpened Claws
  • 2/2 Feral Swiftness
  • 2/2 Primal Fury
  • 3/3 Predatory Strikes
  • 1/1 Feral Faerie Fire
  • 2/2 Savage Fury
  • Either 1/1 Feral Charge / 1/5 Feral Aggression, OR
  • 2/5 Feral Aggression
  • 4/5 Heart of the Wild

Furor will increase your starting Rage, and then your starting Energy when you shift into your bear or cat forms.

Ferocity will reduce the Rage cost of your bear attacks, and when you reach level 20 and gain cat form, you'll have reduced Energy costs for your cat form. Cheaper Energy cost per Claw in cat form means more claw attacks in a shorter period of time.

Naturalist increases your base melee damage in all forms, highly useful this early in leveling.

Omen of Clarity is an excellent ability for Druids. It triggers fairly often, and when it does you get a 'free' attack that would have cost Energy, Rage or Mana. And the more special attacks you can cram into a small period of time, the better.

At this point, you have both cat and bear form. You can choose either Feral Instinct or Brutal Impact to take next. If you are spending a lot of time stealthing to your objective, then take Feral Instinct to help you sneak around without being seen. If you are spending a lot of time using bear form and Bashing your enemies to get off a quick heal, then take Brutal Impact first. You should be level 32, and in 4 more levels you'll get Pounce, so the Brutal Impact will aid both bear and cat.

Taking Sharpened Claws will increase your critical chance rate, which improves your burst damage. Following that up with Feral Swiftness not only speeds up your speed in cat form outdoors, but improves your Dodge.

Primal Fury gives you more combo points to be spending on your Finishing Moves, like Ferocious Bite or Pounce.

Predatory Strikes increases your Attack power slightly, and is necessary to get Heart of the Wild later.

Feral Faerie Fire is absolutely wonderful. It gives you a ranged pull in cat or bear form that costs no Energy, Rage or Mana to cast, causes threat, decreases your targets' armor, and in PvP prevents stealthing for a short period of time. You will come to love this ability very rapidly.

Savage Fury increases the damage your cat form Claw attack does, and before too long it also boosts your Mangle damage.

We still need two more points to open up Heart of the Wild, our 31 point Feral Tree ability. Taking Feral Charge for 1 point will add an option to bear form that can be useful for interrupting a spell casting target or getting to a enemy fast, or you can place both points into Feral Aggression to add 6% damage to your Ferocious Bite finishing move.

Heart of the Wild is a fantastic Talent, and is really worthy of being a 41 point Talent all by itself. What you get for the point cost benefits all forms, and really makes this a must-have Talent. But we're only going 4 points into it, because at level 50, it's time to respec.

Level 50 - Respec into Mangle

When you reach level 50, you have enough points available to unlock Mangle. And yes, I do believe that mangle is good enough to warrant respeccing your Talents right now to get it.

Here is how to redistribute your points at level 50;

  • 5/5 Ferocity
  • 3/3 Feral Instinct
  • 2/2 Brutal Impact
  • 2/3 Thick Hide
  • 3/3 Sharpened Claws
  • 2/2 Feral Swiftness
  • 2/2 Primal Fury
  • 3/3 Predatory Strikes
  • 1/1 Feral Faerie Fire
  • 2/2 Savage Fury
  • 2/5 Feral Aggression
  • 5/5 Heart of the Wild
  • 1/1 Leader of the Pack
  • 2/2 Improved Leader of the Pack
  • 3/3 Survival of the Fittest
  • 4/5 Predatory Instincts
  • 1/1 Mangle

Yes, we've had to skip some good stuff to get here... but we also just gained a very nice boost in more ways than one.

Leader of the Pack, and Improved Leader of the Pack not only provide you and any members of your party with a 5% bonus to crit chance for both ranged and melee attacks, which is a massive bonus, but it will also provide a steady stream of self-healing that really, REALLY helps when soloing. As your crit increases in cat form, this healing is almost always triggered every 6 seconds. Again, a great Talent well worth the point cost.

From here on out, it's time to fill in the gaps in our Feral spec.

Level 51-62

  • 5/5 Furor
  • 5/5 Naturalist
  • 1/1 Omen of Clarity
  • 3/3 Thick Hide
  • 5/5 Predatory Instincts

And there we are... at the foundation of the Feral Druid spec, all the basics covered, and ready to build upon. Only one respec was needed, and only a few levels were spent without the bonus Energy and Rage of Furor.


I heartily welcome any comments or suggestions you may have on talent specs.

I personally would love to see recommendations from you on your favorite Feral, Balance, Restoration or PvP spec, and why you like it.

I know that for fun, or to run around in Warsong Gulch for a weekend, I'll respec just enough to get Nature's Grasp/Improved Natures' Grasp and Control of Nature for the entangling roots on my pursuers, and the uninterrupted Cyclone.

But that is not the point of this article. I came here to talk about Talent point choices for leveling, and I hope that this guide will serve you well in the leveling to come.

Have fun, and I hope I see you in game!

Filed under: Night Elves, Tauren, Druid, Analysis / Opinion, Tips, How-tos, Features, Leveling, Guides, Classes, Talents, Alts, (Druid) Shifting Perspectives

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