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Shifting Perspectives: Leveling 10-20 and how to spec


Every week, Shifting Perspectives examines issues affecting Druids and those who group with them. This week, we begin to enjoy our brand-new Bear and Cat forms in earnest.

Hail and well met, Druids. I apologize for my lack of comments on the last Shifting Perspectives, but I was away that week on vacation with abysmal hotel wireless. After spending 20 minutes trying to send a single reply, I gave up and decided that my time on vacation was better spent gorging myself on the offerings of the resort's culinary school. 4 days of coquilles St. Jacques, filet mignon, and venison sausage in puff pastry left me unable to move, but fortunately I have recovered sufficiently to roll myself, Violet Beauregarde-style, in the direction of the laptop for today's column.

Levels 10 through 20 will be among your most interesting and frustrating as a Druid, and they're certainly among the most volatile; as of patch 3.2, you will gain 4 of the Druid's possible forms within these levels, with the biggest alteration to your playstyle likely to occur at 20 with Cat form. Be forewarned that this resulted in a fairly lengthy, 3-part article.

Ready to go?



After reading through the comments on our 1-9 guide, I feel obligated to note that these guides are being written with the following assumptions:

1. I assume that you do not have access to BoA items.

It's just a nice bonus if you do.

2. I assume your Druid is not starting life as the offspring of a wealthy main, with an array of BoE items awaiting them as they level.

Not everyone's that well-off -- and even if you are, there's no law saying your Druid is on the same server (or of the same faction). I won't tell you to do something that only a character with 1,000g worth of gear and enchants can realistically do at a certain level.

3. I assume that you're not necessarily familiar with the game at large or with the gameplay of a ranged/melee DPS.

The readership demographic for WoW.com leveling guides runs the gamut from very experienced players of multiple classes to people who have only just bought the game yesterday. I do apologize to more experienced players who may resent being given advice they don't think they need, but when I started this game I did not know my arse from my elbow. I have very vivid memories of spending an afternoon wiping over and over again trying to get Supervisor Fitzsprocket done, and have no desire to inflict that on anyone else.

/end apologia pro leveling guide sua

LEVEL 10

Your shapeshifting odyssey begins, but you've got a few other things to train first:
  • Mark of the Wild, rank 2: standard upgrade, but very nice in that now you'll get +2 to all attributes in addition to extra armor. Again, keep this up at all times.
  • Moonfire, rank 2: standard upgrade.
  • Nature's Grasp, rank 1: This is essentially an insta-cast version of Entangling Roots, with the caveat being that a mob or enemy player has to hit you in order for it to trigger. When you cast Nature's Grasp, you'll notice yourself gaining a buff. If nothing hits you while Nature's Grasp is active, it simply fades away and won't do anything. If something does hit you, it gets rooted. Because NG is castable in all combat forms and Tree of Life, it's a good escape skill to hit when you're fighting a melee mob (or a caster mob you can line-of-sight) and your health is dangerously low. Hit NG, take off, the mob will get itself rooted on its next hit, put some distance between yourself and the enemy, then heal up.
  • Rejuvenation, rank 2: standard upgrade.
All done shelling out to that extortionist posing as a class trainer? All right, let's get started. Your trainer will now offer you the first Druid class quest for Bear form. While different, the Night Elf and Tauren experiences are still largely the same --

The Alliance chain:

  1. Heeding the Call: Get thee to Mathrengyl Bearwalker in Darnassus. You'll find him on the second level of the Druid trainers' tree in the Cenarion Enclave (35,8).
  2. Moonglade: You'll be taught the Teleport: Moonglade spell and asked to find Dendrite Starblaze. Cast it, and you'll find yourself in front of a house in Moonglade. Dendrite is located inside on the second floor (56,30).
  3. Great Bear Spirit: Dendrite asks you to find and speak with the Great Bear Spirit in Moonglade, who is located in the northwestern end of the zone at 39,27.
  4. Back to Darnassus: With your lesson learned, Dendrite packs you off to Darnassus on a free flight. The Cenarion Circle flightmaster (who provides courtesy flights for all Night Elf Druids to Darnassus) is located at 44,45 at the south point of Nighthaven. The Alliance-affiliated flightmaster (you might as well pick up the flight path while you're here) is located in southern Moonglade at 48,67.
  5. Body and Heart: Mathrengyl will send you to Darkshore to fight Lunaclaw, a level 12 NPC who needs to be summoned at the Moonkin Stone (43,46 inside the central cave). This is due east and just outside of Auberdine. I would advise reading the comments on the Wowhead entry linked, as it has several helpful tips, but Lunaclaw is not a difficult fight; you'll spend more time clearing pesky moonkin mobs than you will fighting him. Once you sprinkle the Cenarion moondust on the Moonkin Stone, it'll take 1-3 seconds before Lunaclaw actually spawns and runs into the cave from outside. As he does, toss a Rejuvenation on yourself, Moonfire him, then Wrath him to death. Once he's dead, talk to his spirit and head back to Mathrengyl in Darnassus.
The Horde chain:

  1. Heeding the Call: Get thee to Turak Runetotem on Elder Rise in Thunder Bluff. He's the NPC ahead and to your left as you enter the Druid tent.
  2. Moonglade: You'll be taught the Teleport: Moonglade spell and asked to find Dendrite Starblaze. Cast it, and you'll find yourself in front of a house in Moonglade. Dendrite is located inside on the second floor (56,30).
  3. Great Beat Spirit: Dendrite asks you to find and speak with the Great Bear Spirit in Moonglade, who is located in the northwestern end of the zone at 39,27.
  4. Back to Thunder Bluff: With your lesson learned, Dendrite packs you off to Thunder Bluff on a free flight. The Cenarion Circle flightmaster (who provides courtesy flights for all Tauren Druids to Thunder Bluff) is located at 44,45 at the south point of Nighthaven. The Horde-affiliated flightmaster (you might as well pick up the flight path while you're here) is located in southwestern Moonglade at 32,66.
  5. Body and Heart: Turak will send you to the Mulgore/Barrens border to fight Lunaclaw, a level 12 NPC who needs to be summoned at the Moonkin Stone (42,60 just before the border with Mulgore. Essentially, take the road out of Mulgore and hang a right as you exit into the Barrens). As with the Night Elves' version of Lunaclaw, this is not a difficult fight, but you have slightly more advance warning of Lunaclaw's approach then they will (here he has to come around a tree and walk a little bit longer to reach you). Toss a Rejuvenation on yourself, Moonfire him, then Wrath him to death. Once he's dead, talk to his spirit and head back to Turak in Thunder Bluff.

Bear Form starts with the following abilities:
  • Basic melee: At this level, nothing to write home about, but it will be slightly better than your caster form's melee attack.
  • Growl: This is your single-target taunt, forcing a mob to attack you for 3 seconds. This only finds use while tanking or distracting a mob off someone else; you don't have to spend any time convincing mobs to attack you while you're soloing. As of patch 3.0.8, it has a 30-yard range but is still considered a spell. In other words, you can be silenced out of the ability to taunt. While this may sound odd, it's still nothing compared to one of the most unbelievably stupid mechanics once in the game; before patch 2.3, Growl's chance to hit was also subject to +spell hit, which you've probably noticed is not exactly a common stat on tanking gear. Thus tanks were saddled with a ghastly 17% taunt failure rate on raid bosses like Al'ar, which often had fatal results. Show of hands; who misses that?
  • Maul: This is a clone of the Warrior ability Heroic Strike right down to the threat coefficient. It replaces your next white attack (i.e. auto-attack or basic melee) with a stronger yellow (i.e. special) attack. This has the unfortunate effect of consuming not only the rage cost of the skill itself, but also cancels the rage you would have generated from a white attack landing. Consequently, Maul gobbles both existing and potential rage, and is one of the primary culprits behind the Bear's horrible rage efficiency at this level (more on this in a moment). But it's an invaluable threat and damage tool at later levels and, like Heroic Strike, needs to be spammed for maximum threat generation, so hotkey it someplace easily accessible (however, due to its effect on rage generation, I wouldn't recommend macroing it to other abilities yet).
Your Druid trainer will also teach you:
  • Demoralizing Roar: This is a useful attack power-reduction tool versus melee enemies, but probably not worth the global cooldown (GCD) to put up at this level. What little rage you'll be generating will be needed for DPS. Demo Roar can be useful as an initial aggro tool on multiple enemies, but it's minimal threat at best; you want to slap it up to reduce incoming damage, not to generate aggro.
Once you've gained Bear Form, you'll notice something about its offensive capability; it doesn't have any. Many Druids who go through the initial class quest are disheartened to find that taking their shiny new form out for a test drive is like being strapped to a chair watching paint dry to the accompaniment of Wagner's Ring Cycle. You will typically kill more quickly in caster form, to the point where, even if you plan to level Feral, it may be worth your time to spec Balance between 10 and 19. So no, you're not doing it wrong -- caster form really is better for the moment.

Reading over what I've written, I'm a little uncomfortable with how gloomy much of it sounds, but after leveling two Druids recently through this content to make sure it's current for present concerns, I'm still struck at how agonizing the early Bear really is. So I just want to say this before we get any further; at 80 you'll be mowing through enemies like a hot knife through butter, soloing old raids and heroics, and uttering a disdainful laugh at the phrase "group quest." Hang in there.



Filed under: Druid, Analysis / Opinion, Features, Leveling, (Druid) Shifting Perspectives

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