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The Art of War(craft): Must-have PvP talents for druids in 4.0.1

Every week, WoW Insider brings you The Art of War(craft), covering battlegrounds and world PvP, and Blood Sport, with the inside line for arena enthusiasts. Want to crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentation of their women? Battlemaster Zach Yonzon, old-world PvP grinder and casual battleground habitué, rambles on about anything and everything PvP.

Let's try to get you prepared for Cataclysm, shall we? In the new (banged-up, broken and burnt) world of the expansion, battlegrounds play will stand toe to toe with arenas as far as gear acquisition and quite possibly have even better participation. You don't want to miss out on that. Today we'll discuss the best PvP talents you can pick up as a druid, and you can decide for yourself what other talents to round out your PvP spec.

Perhaps the biggest change for druids in patch 4.0.1 is a new mechanic for balance druids called Eclipse, which relies on the buildup of lunar or solar energy conferred by casting either nature or arcane damage spells, respectively. This means that balance druids will be constantly trying to achieve an Eclipse by casting spells from one school, then shifting to another school once they've gotten the bonus. Out of all specs, balance plays the most differently compared to before the patch, but everyone gets fun tools to use in PvP. Let's check out all these toys across all specs.

Balance As I mentioned, moon-chickens are going to behave quite differently in PvP. In some ways, they work like anti-caster casters, with excellent tools to deal with spellcasters at long range. As a casting class that relies on a lot of spells with cast times, balance druids suffer somewhat in melee but have enough abilities to get them out of a tight spot. If you want to blow things up from long range with lasers, there just isn't anything in the game quite like balance. Some suggested talents for PvP:
  • Moonkin Form and Owlkin Frenzy These are no-brainers, as everything you do as balance just works better in moonkin form. More important for PvP, however, is Owlkin Frenzy, which can proc off any attack -- melee, ranged, spells -- and provide something critical to boomkins in PvP: immunity to pushback. An optional glyph to have for mitigation would be Glyph of Barkskin (major) to confer a reduction to enemy melee critical hit chance while using Barkskin. Melee classes such as rogues are still a pain for balance druids to deal with, so a combination of Owlkin Frenzy and glyphed Barkskin should make you a little more competitive.
  • Typhoon and Gale Winds Typhoon is another non-negotiable talent for PvP and might be the most important peeling spell you have in your arsenal. Its knockback is a cone effect that can affect multiple targets and as a bonus also applies daze for 6 seconds, which buys precious time for more casts. In a pinch, it can also be used to interrupt spellcasting. Glyph of Monsoon (major) cuts Typhoon's cooldown to 17 seconds, which is huge for PvP. Although the bonus damage is cool, moon-chickens should pick up Gale Winds primarily for the extended range to Cyclone, the best crowd control spell in the game.
  • Shooting Stars While balance deals the most damage firing off spells standing still from a distance, you often won't have that luxury in PvP, which means you'll often rely on a healthy mix of instant-cast spells -- Moonfire and Insect Swarm. This means you'll have a good chance to proc Shooting Stars for a free and instant-cast Starsurge ... and free and instant are two of the sweetest words in PvP.
  • Solar Beam This talent is what makes balance druids so potent against other spellcasters. It's not only an interrupt, but it's also an AoE silence. It's a 10-second duration AoE that silences enemies who enter the admittedly small area of the beam. It's ridiculous when paired with Entangling Roots, which should keep your opponent rooted and silenced. It borders on the obscene with Glyph of Solar Beam (major), which increases the duration of the silence effect by 5 seconds, effectively creating a full 10-second school lockout if used to interrupt a casting. Glyph of Entangling Roots (major) then allows druids to cast Entangling Roots on the run, which is straight-up win for PvP -- it's an instant-cast root spell. Never mind the added cooldown; you should be able to toss it again once your enemy breaks free of the spell.
  • Force of Nature and Fungal Growth The PvP utility of Force of Nature should be pretty self-explanatory, but you won't be picking up the talent just for the angry tree party ... You'll want it because you need it for Fungal Growth, which creates an AoE snare where your treants die (which will happen, anyway). If your opponents think treants are annoying now, wait til they get all bogged down in sticky fungi. The best thing is that Fungal Growth becomes even cooler in Cataclysm, when druids can learn Wild Mushroom at level 85.
  • Sunfire and Lunar Shower Moonfire spam gets even better! Sunfire ensures that you can keep on spamming Moonfire even when you've hit a Solar Eclipse, by creating a nature-damage version of the spell in Sunfire. Lunar Shower buffs Moonfire damage and rewards movement; actually, if you don't move, the buff will expire, which means the folks at Blizzard are encouraging you to move. Since PvP is all about movement, it makes perfect sense to pick up Lunar Shower, considering you're guaranteed to use Moonfire, anyway.
It's interesting that many of the talents in the balance tree lend themselves well to PvP, such as Fungal Growth or Lunar Shower -- moreso than for PvE, in fact. Although these utility talents may seem tangential to DPS, they're incredible tools on the battlefield when used correctly. Even Gale Winds' extending Cyclone's reach to 24 yards is a pretty significant thing. This makes balance druids more than feathery cannons -- even critical pieces in an objective-oriented team.

In battleground situations, consider swapping out the Glyph of Barkskin with Glyph of Hurricane (major), which transforms Hurricane into an AoE snare. It's a situational glyph that can come in handy when slowing down entire armies down the field or in key junctions of a battleground. These small things can make a difference in competitive battleground play, when players will be called upon for their utility and not just their ability to blow things into oblivion. Fortunately, balance druids are pretty good at that, too.

Filed under: Druid, Analysis / Opinion, PvP, The Art of War(craft) (PvP)

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