Every week, Shifting Perspectives examines issues affecting Druids and those who group with them. This week, we slog through levels 21-30. Also, werewolves.
Once the news broke on Troll Druids (and, I would guess, Worgen Druids as well, assuming that Blizzard isn't in the middle of a giant hoax), I sat back in my chair and held the following conversation with my subconscious, as I am so often wont to do:
ME: Troll Druids make no sense. Neither do Worgen Druids.
SUBCONSCIOUS: This is not about sense. This is about expanding your readership. Trolls + Worgen = MOAR DURIDS = more people reading Shifting Perspectives.
ME: That's not a valid statistical assertion.
SUBCONSCIOUS: Cool story, bro. Everyone will be rolling a werewolf Worgen when the expansion hits. You know you will be.
SUBCONSCIOUS: Werewolves! How badass is that, is all I'm saying.
ME: But the Trolls hate the Elves! They wouldn't be caught dead in Moonglade! And how the hell did the Worgen learn Druidic magic that took thousands of years to develop while some nutcase locked them behind the Greymane wall for 10 some-odd years?
SUBCONSCIOUS: Who cares?
ME (faltering): But...lore...wibba...wubba...
SUBCONSCIOUS: F%@k the lore! Now's the time to make a mad bid for power! Grind the rest of the class columnists under your questionably-itemized i-level 239 boot!
ME: Screw you, I need to go write the column for this week.
SUBCONSCIOUS (shouts after me): WEREWOLVES WEREWOLVES WEREWOLVES!
All right, my newly-expanding readership, let's get our collective nose back to the grindstone. Levels 21-30 are going to be significantly easier than levels 10-20 if for no other reason than a growing set of offensive abilities, but overall they're still not likely to be among your easiest.
If you're leveling Balance, your DPS rotation should be making heavy use of an early Moonfire and then Wrath spam in conjunction with Rooting mobs to keep yourself undamaged. Starfire can also be used, but until you get some +haste on your gear it's a very long cast (although it's more mana efficient than Wrath). I would advise investing in a Glyph of Entangling Roots for leveling purposes.
If you're leveling Feral, the Cat's DPS rotation will be mostly Claw spam for the moment. A 2 to 3 combo-point Rip on your target will force it to die a little faster, though. Pull with Feral Faerie Fire, pop out of Cat to heal, then keep grinding. You can open from Stealth if you want, but in the absence of Ravage and Pounce, there's really not much point to doing so from a combat perspective.
Two new skills and three updates:
- Shred: At 80 this will be a major contribution to your DPS and your main "spammy" damage skill, but while leveling it's of significantly less use due to its positional requirement. "Positional requirement?", you ask. Namely, you have to be behind a mob. Without access to Maim, your only real opportunity to use Shred at this level (unless you're DPSing a dungeon) is while opening from Prowl, so while it's a great damage move, you'll probably only get one off before the outraged mob in question is facing you. Hence, if you're leveling Feral, whether you invest 2 points in Shredding Attacks or not is entirely up to you.
- Soothe Animal: In my opinion, this is one of the Druid's most underrated abilities. It's a version of the Priest ability Mind Soothe, and as of Wrath, it applies to Dragonkin in addition to Beasts. It's instant-cast, doesn't place you in combat, and is basically a version of stealth without being in stealth; it greatly reduces the distance at which a hostile Beast or Dragon will "see" you. Even at 80 I still find it enormously useful while herbing or running around doing anything without wanting to spend time in a fight. A trick you may want to use while trying to stealth past a higher-level Beast or Dragon is casting Soothe Animal on them first, and then attempting to stealth past; it's a poor-man's version of Distract.
- Moonfire, rank 4: standard upgrade.
- Rejuvenation, rank 4: standard upgrade.
- Wrath, rank 4: standard upgrade.
Two key Cat damage abilities (immensely improved from their initial form) and the ability to decurse!
- Rake: In the absence of the ability to use Shred on most targets while soloing, Rake was always a go-to Cat skill for face-to-face combat. However, it wasn't worth keeping on your bars for dedicated DPS situations in classic or BC, in which it wasn't really worth using over the old "Shred to 4/5 combo points, then Rip" rotation. Nowadays, Rake is worth your respect, and worth using early on an enemy to get a potent bleed going in addition to a valuable combo point. At this level, it should be the first damage ability you slap on a mob. At 80 you'll still be using a lot of it for dedicated DPS, but while soloing, a mob may not live long enough to see much damage from the bleed.
- Remove Curse: At one time in the not too distant past, Druids were the only healing class with the ability to remove curses, so three guesses as to what we were doing for the most part in raids. At any rate, Remove Curse is a fairly straightforward ability, but I would highly recommend downloading Decursive or a similar mod if you plan on healing (possibly even if you don't). It should make debuff removal (for both curses and poisons) both faster and easier.
- Tiger's Fury: Until Wrath, TF cost energy and really wasn't worth using for the most part; the damage return was almost canceled out by the energy cost, and it was only useful opening from stealth where you could pop it about 4 seconds before making your first attack (which allowed enough time for your energy to tick back to full). These days, the ability has a 30-second cooldown but is significantly more useful, particularly if talented with King of the Jungle. Train (or macro) yourself into popping it on cooldown.
- Regrowth, rank 3: standard upgrade.
- Revive, rank 2: standard upgrade. Sad as this sounds, I still get excited to resurrect people.
- Swipe, rank 2: standard upgrade.
- Thorns, rank 3: standard upgrade.
Two new abilities and a few upgrades:
- Abolish Poison: Installed Decursive yet? You'll probably want to after getting this. Abolish Poison replaces Cure Poison, the quest-only ability from level 14, so if you never bothered to do the poison questline, it becomes a moot point at level 26 (although I'd still recommend doing it for the sake of some class lore). Because Abolish Poison ticks every 3 seconds for 12 seconds (it used to be 2 for 8, if I recall correctly), you can use it preemptively on a tank or PvP partner when a mob or enemy player is going to try to get a poison up (e.g. Titanium Vanguards in Halls of Lightning, or versus a Rogue or Hunter in PvP).
- Dash, rank 1: This Cat ability (a clone of the Rogue's Sprint) is a great emergency skill and significantly faster than Travel Form for getting out of trouble quickly. It's also great for closing the distance between yourself and a PvP opponent, or for getting to a runner in a dungeon, although Feral Charge (the Feral 21-point talent; the earliest you can get it will be in 4 levels) will accomplish the latter two without having to blow Dash's more serious cooldown.
- Healing Touch, rank 5: standard upgrade.
- Maul, rank 3: standard upgrade.
- Starfire, rank 2: standard upgrade.