5. Finding the right team
So, the big question, whom do you play with? There are a good number of teammates that a balance druid can choose from, but there are several key teams out there. When it comes to 2v2, you are going to have to running a double DPS set up. For that, your best choice for a partner will be a rogue, mage, or shadow priest. The first two focus more so on control coupled with solid burst damage, while the last is more focused on putting out some real pain. Keep in mind with any of these that you are the healing back-up, but, generally speaking, you do not want to have to heal for any extended amount of time. When you are healing, you are not dealing damage, and you are going to start slipping behind. The key is to balance pressure, control, and minor amounts of healing.
3v3 is where most of the balance druid action is. Since 2v2 was changed to not allow access to some of PvP rewards, 3v3 has now become the new PvP focus. For this, there are several teams that a druid can choose to play with.
First and foremost, there is the comp often referred to as Owlplay, which is a shadow priest, restoration shaman, and balance druid. This set-up focuses on strong damage, using Bloodlust to put out obscene amounts of pressure, and making sure that you get people on you. In this set-up, you want to take the beating, you want to be focused, and thus you want to be as survivable as possible.
Next is going with either DRP or DMP; which is druid, rogue, priest or druid, mage, priest. It is a twist on the traditional RMP team that merely replaces the rogue or the mage with you. Both options are viable, though most players that take this set-up usually run with the rogue instead of the mage. The team has high amounts of control, and your focus is going to be to try and lock down what you can while coordinating your burst dps to secure kills.
The last 3v3 team I'll cover is arms warrior, balance druid, healer. Which healer you choose isn't as significant, and you can make a case for going with a shaman, paladin, or a priest - a druid healer is generally not as viable of an option. With this, you play similar to the double healer/arms warrior set up but with more burst damage. With this, you want to make sure that everyone lives, doing so through healing and control, while also providing additional burst when possible. Combining a good Bladestorm and Force of Nature combination on a rooted and/or slowed target is pretty much going to ensure that they are dead. Your ability to use Entangling Roots on players is a major asset for this team. You can use it not just on melee to keep they at bay, but also on other players to keep them in range of your warrior.
5v5 teams are more difficult to describe as 5v5 is in something of a poor balancing state. The burst provided by Heroism and multiple dps cooldowns by a variety of classes makes for some really unhealable damage output. If you wish to play on a 5v5 team, your only requirement is to have a shaman of some form.
6. Basic strategies
Let's get to the down and dirty of it, shall we?
What does a balance druid actually do in PvP? Well, most of that is honestly going to depend on the type of team that you are running and what is needed against the team you are facing. There are loads of variables in PvP encounters, thus to give any form of "Do A, B, then C" is very difficult. There are a few tips that I can give out that might help you though.
Use as many abilities for dispel protection as you can. This is especially true if you are using an Owlplay comp. Keeping Moonfire, Insect Swarm, Faerie Fire, and Earth and Moon on the focus target is going to provide four additional magic debuffs that can be stripped off instead of your shadow priest's DoTs - which are going to be a lot more damage than your own. Although the same strategy can be somewhat effective in protecting Entangling Roots as well, Entangling Roots will generally always be the first thing dispelled from a target since it has no dispel protection.
Coordinate to lock down the off-target. Whether you are focusing on a DPS or a healer, you need to make liberal use of both Cyclone and Entangling Roots on the non-focus target to make sure they are not doing the things they want to do. Communicate with your teammates about CC. Nothing is worse than having your rogue Blind a target that you just Cycloned. Also, remember than Entangling Roots is not worthless against casters. Yes, they can still cast at you, but it can also be used to abuse LoS and to out-range casters while you work on something else.
Time your burst. Don't just throw out Force of Nature because it is up, time it to be the most effective. Plan it to make sure that your treants will have the most up-time possible. Also remember that mages are usually not great targets for Force of Nature. While they are nice and soft and make wonderful sounds as three trees rip them to shreds, mages have a tendency to use Frost Nova or Blink to escape and wasting your cooldown. Also, remember, that just because the treants can die easily from AoE does not make them useless. Yes, try not to throw them out on a warrior that will one-shot them with a Whirlwind, but if you can force a player into spending a few GCDs on using AoE to get rid of your pets, then they aren't spending those GCDs on CC or damage or healing. Oh, and don't let your treants get fooled by Feign Death.
Do not lose your focus. When going into to secure a kill with Lunar Eclipse and Heroism up, it can become easy to get distracted. Don't let a key CC chain break or forget that your squishy healer is being eaten alive while you sit there and pewpew.
7. Talent builds.
Speccing for PvP is rather awkward in comparison to speccing for PvE. There is a lot more flexibility, a lot more options, and too few talent points to spread around. The basic building block of the spec is generally going to look something similar to this.
Within that build are four talent points that haven't been spent yet, where they go is more so your choice than anything else. You can make a very strong case for several of the talents, which you take in the end is entirely up to you though. Instead of going through each and every talent within the build, I will show why you might want to spend your 4 remaining talent points on specific un-take talents.
Brambles: Brambles is still something of an iffy talent, although it has many useful PvP applications. The increased damage to Thorns and Entangling Roots is something of a side benefit that can mostly be glossed over. While a stronger Thorns is somewhat useful against rogues and enhancement shaman, Thorns itself is still a rather weak spell. The true potential of this talent is the daze aspect of Force of Nature and Barkskin. The additional daze on Force of Nature can go a long way in helping your treants stay on their target in a PvP environment, and it can also help in keeping a target slowed for a melee teammate such as a rogue or a warrior. The daze on Barkskin can sometimes help you get away from a melee class if they are focusing on you. Although not reliable enough to depend on, it can sometimes save your life.
Improved Moonfire: The Glyph on Moonfire is not very good in a PvP environment, which means this talent is actually a rather good DPS boost to Moonfire. Moonfire is a very expensive spell though, so you probably won't want to be applying it excessively, which makes the real DPS gain to be rather minor overall.
Celestial Focus: The pushback resistance may seem useful in PvP where pushback is common, but it really only applies to spells that have limited use in a PvP environment. The boost to Starfire is nice, but you will generally only cast this spell during Eclipse procs - which are a lot less frequent - and during Wrath of Elune procs. The additional haste is a good bonus in PvP since haste is on so little of our gear.
Improved Insect Swarm: In short, this talent is very poor in PvP. There are going to be lots of dispels going around and you cannot always ensure that your appropriate DoT is on the target. Not to mention the actual DPS gain of this talent is going to be the least out of all of your other options.
Subtlety: There are currently only 2 points into this talent, which can be very useful in PvP. Although you will not be using many HoTs, this protects your Innervate, Barkskin, Moonfire, and Insect Swarm from being removed, which can be very, very useful.
Master Shapeshifter: This is a very solid talent to increase your damage output, pretty much the best that you can choose from. It is only active while in Moonkin Form, which is something of a drawback in PvP, but, honestly, you should not be shifting out of Moonkin Form all that much, and when you are is going to be during times when you are not actively damaging players.
Intensity: Balance druids have some mana issues in PvP, it is true, but this is still a very poor PvP mana regeneration talent. The balance PvP set does not have any spirit on it and to gain spirit on any of the off-pieces means giving up a very significant amount of crit, which is also a form of mana regeneration for balance druids as well as providing more damage output. Mana should not be too much of an issue unless you are either using Typhoon too much or Moonfire too much.
8. Gems and Enchants
I have been repeating one single mantra throughout this guide, and I am about to say it again; get more stamina. Seriously, stacking stamina is very key to being important to balance PvP play.
There are some players that will mock this, some will sit there laughing that doing so reduces your damage output by far too much to be worth it. Those people are wrong. Dead DPS is 0 DPS. Period. Balance druids do not have the built in tools that other classes have in order to survive, we need to stack stamina in order to survive, in order to win.
Socket every blue with a Solid Majestic Zircon. Red sockets can use Glowing Dreadstones. For yellow sockets, if you need more resilience, then socket them with go with Mystic King's Amber, if you don't, then go with Reckless Ametrine. When it comes to Meta gems, there are lots of choices and, honestly, I haven't seen a solid argument to favor any one over the others. The Effulgent Skyflare Diamond is a very solid choice providing lots of stamina and reducing all damage taken. There is also Trenchant Earthsiege Diamond, which increases spell power and reduces stun durations. There are also several similar to the TED that reduce silence duration, snare/root duration, or fear duration.
Enchanting follows pretty much the same pattern:
Helm: Arcanum of Burning Mysteries (Kirin Tor quartermaster)
Shoulders: Greater Inscription of the Gladiator (Faction honor vendor)
Cloak: Enchant Cloak - Spell Piercing
Chest: Enchant Chest - Exceptional Resilience
Bracers: Enchant Bracers - Major Stamina
Gloves: Heavy Borean Armor Kit
Belt: Eternal Belt Buckle
Legs: Sapphire Spellthread
Boots: Enchant Boots - Tuskarr's Vitality
Weapon: Enchant Weapon - Might Spellpower or Enchant Staff - Greater Spellpower
Keep in mind that if you have an alternative due to your profession, go with it. The only thing to remember while doing so is that the Tailoring cloak enchant will require you to gem for additional spell penetration.
Now, I'm sure there are some people freaking out at this point. Just to show you that the world is not coming to and end, take a look at these two WoWhead profiles: stamina heavy and spell power heavy. Essentially, you are gaining approximately 2,000 health for a trade off of around 140 spell power. Which professions you have can change this slightly. If you have, for example, Leatherworking, then you would gain more health, but lose more potential spell power.2,000 health is a fairly major gain, 140 spell power is not.
Every week, Shifting Perspectives treks across Azeroth in pursuit of truth, beauty, and insight concerning the druid class. Sometimes it finds the latter, or something good enough for government work. Whether you're a Bear, Cat, Moonkin, Tree, or stuck in caster form, we've got the skinny on druid changes in patch 3.3, a look at the disappearance of the bear tank, and thoughts on why you should be playing the class (or why not).