Gear to look out for
With the introduction of the dungeon finder tool, gearing up while leveling an alt has never been easier. Each dungeon level set (generally, dungeons exist is sets that span 10 levels and share comparable loot between them) will offer a bag reward that contains one of two item types that's pretty much the best of the best that you can find for that level. Here are a list of the different items that you can get and the level at which you will get them:
|Level||Item 1||Item 2|
|15 - 25||Cloak||Belt|
|26 - 35||Necklace||Gloves|
|36 - 45||Ring||Shoulder|
|46 - 55||Boots||Bracers|
|56 - 60||Cloak||Belt|
|61 - 64||Necklace||Gloves|
|65 - 70||Ring||Shoulder|
Whisperwind Headdress This drops from a rare spawn in RfK, so getting it may be tricky, but it's the best helm for many levels to come. Plus it's actually leather, so there's little chance someone else will take it.
Ruby Crown of Restoration A crafted helm that's very good, but can be hard to come by on some servers. If you can find it for a decent price, then I'd suggest picking it up.
Bad Mojo Mask It's cloth and drops from ZF, so you may have a few issues getting it, but it is a great helm.
Death Speaker Mantle A nice little drop from RfK. It too is cloth, but you won't have many other choices when it comes to shoulders.
Inquisitor's Shawl A common drop from SM that you'll probably see a lot of; it's good, so get it if you can.
Ironfeather Shoulders The cream of the crop if you aren't using BoA gear. I might even suggest going out of your way to pick up both Ironfeather pieces once you can wear them.
Robes of Arugal Chests are difficult to get too if you want leather, but this from SFK is a nice cloth option.
Robe of Doan Again cloth, but there should be no issues picking this one up. You will get sent to SM very frequently, and these drop like candy.
Ironfeather Breastplate The Ironfeather set is amazing, and did I mention they don't require farming Ironfeathers anymore? The mats for these items are so cheap and easy there isn't a reason to not get them.
Dryad's Wrist Bindings Honestly the only wrists worth mentioning at all. Get them, because you won't regret it. They are super cheap; just a single BG win will net you enough honor for a pair. You do have to wait until 40, but there is literally nothing else at all until then.
Gold-flecked Gloves/Serpent Gloves Identical items, but one comes from DMn while the other comes from WC. Either option is the best you'll get for a long while.
Gloves of the Atal'ai Prophet Super-sweet and sexy, you won't replace them until well into Outland.
Deathmage Sash Like most other slots, there just aren't many options to pick from, and no options in leather. This is a good start-off, though.
Chloromesh Girdle If you don't mind the lack of stats, this is a fine belt. I've used it on many toons and it's well worth it.
Gaze Dreamer Pants There is nothing in the way of good leggings, seriously. Take these and run with them, as you'll not really find anything else.
Wildfeather Leggings Drops suck, and all of the pants that drop suck even more. These are a really good pair of pants that can be crafted rather cheaply, so I'd suggest getting them.
Spidersilk Boots These are fairly common, fairly cheap and you can get them at a fairly low level. A great bargain.
Vinerot Sandals A good drop from Mara that's pretty common; after the change in zone leveling, though, I never found myself placed in Orange very often.
Watersprout Boots Amazing pair of boots that you'll definitely want and certainly get. They are a very common drop and no other class really needs them.
Battle Healer's Cloak/Caretaker's Cape It's another PvP item, but, again, it's very cheap, plus you can get it at 18 and upgrade it every 10 levels should you choose to; I might suggest going every 20 levels (or at least skipping 28), since the upgrades aren't large.
When it comes to weapons and jewelery, there are so many options out there that it's difficult to list them all. Although necklaces and rings are fairly rare-ish, you usually find at least one per dungeon tier that's useful, and most don't gain spellpower until later levels anyway. There is a PvP ring from the WSG vendor, the same place you get the aforementioned cloak and wrists, that is pretty nice as well. For weapons, they're everywhere, especially once you hit SM, so there isn't any particular one notable item to look out for.
When gearing, just remember a simple rule: Spellpower is king. You want spellpower at every chance you get, without question. Nearly every other stat is trivial. Intellect is a nice secondary stat to look for as well, since it increases your spellpower and mana regeneration, but everything else is fairly bleh. Finding the few items that do have crit on them is nice when you can get them, but they tend to trail off in effectiveness rather quickly while leveling. Spellpower never diminishes in strength, which is why it is always the superior choice.
Proper spell selection
With all the boring stuff out of the way, I want to take a quick second to talk about what abilities you should be using while in a dungeon group. Beyond the standards that I've already discussed about using all of your utility spells, do not forget that you are there to kill things. More often than not, I've found that many balance druids will start each trash pull by putting their DoTs up on the primary target, then starting to nuke, repeating the process with each additional target. This isn't a wise choice. Although Moonfire and Insect Swarm produce decent levels of damage, especially at that stage in the game, most trash is simply going to die too quickly for your DoTs to amount to a significant amount of damage. Beyond that, there is also the little bit that, in doing this, you are ignoring a very important piece of utility that you bring.
Earth and Moon is a huge deal; it's a major damage increase and you'll want it up as often as possible, not just for yourself but for the rest of your groupmates as well. On trash, there really isn't a reason to bother with using either of your DoTs. If it's a stronger mob that might last a few moments, then you can start with Insect Swarm, but leave Moonfire out -- the mana cost of the spell is huge. Start with Wrath as often as you can, and really, just keep wrathing things. Choose your AoE carefully, too; only use it on a true AoE pull of at least four mobs. Anything less and you're just expending far more mana than you need to.
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).