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Shifting Perspectives: Why (or why not) to play a tauren druid


Every week, WoW Insider brings you Shifting Perspectives for cat, bear, restoration and balance druids. This week, welcome to Thunder Bluff.

This week, we're continuing our series on why (or why not) to play a particular druidic race in Cataclysm, and today we'll continue with the tauren. Fair warning: We tread on some expansion spoilers in this article.

The full series is available here:
  1. Shifting Perspectives: Why (or why not) to play a night elf druid
  2. Shifting Perspectives: Why (or why not) to play a tauren druid
  3. Shifting Perspectives: Why (or why not) to play a worgen druid
  4. Shifting Perspectives: Why (or why not) to play a troll druid


Considering the tauren

A river can move a mountain even as it nurtures the life upon it. A fire will destroy everything in its path while failing to move a single stone. Thrall understood this, but I am not sure that Garrosh does. Don't spend too much time in Orgrimmar.

Random facts:
  • The pre-3.2 version of tauren cat form was one of the most universally loathed models in the game (not least by me), leading a not-inconsiderable number of players to engage in illegal model-swapping.
  • The female tauren is the tallest model in WoW. They were once too big to reach the NPC to port into Molten Core and, at the start of Wrath, were unable to get out of the starting room in Wintergrasp as part of a defending team.
  • As of patch 3.3.5, tauren are sixth in terms of racial popularity with a 9 percent share of all characters (as compared to the night elves, who are third for racial popularity with 15 percent). Sex ratios among player characters are extremely lopsided, with 84 percent of tauren players choosing to play a male and only 16 percent playing a female.
Why you'd want to play one The tauren are a lot like the draenei of the Alliance -- gentle giants who can get along with just about anyone given half a chance. They're in the Horde largely by happenstance and have a very healthy skepticism of orcish bellicosity, elven magic dependence, and Forsaken ... well, they're skeptical of anything to do with the Forsaken, and not without reason. Even after the goblins' arrival, the tauren have the least history with and personal investment in the Horde among the faction's six races, and from a rational perspective, that's probably a good thing with Garrosh at the helm. If you're someone who's antsy about the Horde's general direction in Cataclysm, you could play a tauren with a clear conscience. Interestingly, the same can be said of the Horde's newest druidic race, the trolls (but we'll talk about that later).

Even tauren architecture and their exploitation of Mulgore and Thousand Needles geography (e.g., the propensity for building mesa cities) are a metaphor for their faction status. They're in the landscape but not quite of it and always in an excellent position to observe -- or, more cynically, an excellent position to be safely out of the way when things go to hell.

Their overall sense of kindly detachment extends to the Alliance as well. They have no real quarrel with anyone barring the centaur, and already have representatives among the Argent Dawn and Earthen Ring in a world where almost no one knew they existed until a short time ago. Players tend to forget that the tauren are still a relatively new introduction to Warcraft lore; they didn't show up until fairly late in the Warcraft 3 story, but once introduced to the world, quickly found like-minded individuals among those fighting the Scourge or elemental corruption. This is a race with fearsome size and strength, and they're not moved to violence over petty issues.

Why you might not want to play one Whatever their virtues, the tauren are not known for innovation, a truth that's oddly confirmed by the in-game introduction of priests and paladins into their ranks. They've slavishly copied druidic practice from the night elves, but they haven't really added anything to it. One of the more revealing quests concerning their philosophy on this popped up in the last year. Horde characters are sent from Dalaran to Thunder Bluff in order to return a shield to an NPC recovering from an injury in Northrend, and you'll find her talking to a friend in the druids' tent on Elder Rise. Rather than copy the entire conversation and add unnecessary length to the article, I'll link a transcript kindly provided by a Wowhead commenter.

Revealing, isn't it? Tahu Sagewind goes on to become one of the first tauren priests; Aponi Brightmane becomes one of the first tauren paladins. While there are innovators and critical thinkers among the tauren, you're not going to find them among the druids. Only time will tell if the same societal undercurrents that made it possible for priests and paladins to gain a foothold will have any impact on the druids.

Beyond that, it's also hard to escape the conclusion that this is a race that has an uneasy relationship with the future. By Warcraft 3, the tauren had been fighting the centaur for hundreds, if not thousands of years and by most accounts were losing. Now they owe their very lives to a race (the orcs) whose fate they may not particularly want to share, and that alliance was made with Thrall at the helm. They've lost Cairne Bloodhoof to a disagreement over Garrosh's talent for picking stupid fights (though Cairne's death wasn't really Garrosh's fault), and you've got to wonder if they aren't asking themselves about the wisdom of this whole "Horde" thing. Now Baine has the unenviable job of being a young, untested leader shepherding a loosely-knit tribal nation through Azeroth's reordered political landscape.

Allie's take I'm biased. The first character I ever rolled was a female tauren druid, and she's still my main today. I genuinely enjoy playing both male and female tauren, and there's something about the race's general personality that just clicks for me. They share the night elves' concern for nature without falling prey to the delusion of mastery over it, and if you want a quick gloss on how this works out in practice, you might try contrasting Thunder Bluff with Darnassus. Both cities are actually post-Warcraft 3 constructions. The night elves grew Teldrassil in a bid to recapture their lost immortality, and the tauren relocated to their ancestral homeland of Mulgore and correctly saw the mesas as an excellent defensive position. Darnassus is characterized by an abundance of permanent stone structures: Thunder Bluff is largely a collection of tents with a few wooden buildings and signposts. The tauren can pack up and leave within a few days, leaving no sign of their presence beyond footpaths, but the night elves ... not so much so.

Racial attributes
  • Cultivation Very helpful if you plan to be an herbalist, and I am a fan of Lifeblood. Druid herbalists are also able to pick flowers without leaving flight form. Between that and a 0.5-second gathering speed, tauren have a significant advantage for gathering large quantities of herbs quickly.
  • Endurance The tauren warrior is the traditional Horde raiding tank, and Endurance would be why. However, the bonus isn't as good as it used to be, as it's now calculated from base rather than total health. What does this mean? I'll give you an example from the beta. A feral worgen in bear form at 85 with starter heroic gear equipped has 109,000 health (40,897 with nothing equipped). A feral tauren in bear form at 85 in the exact same gear has 111,000 health (42,985 with nothing equipped). Compared to Viciousness or Quickness, this is pretty uninspiring, particularly because a raiding bear in tier 11 will probably approach or exceed 200,000 health.
  • Nature Resistance Same deal as with the night elves -- it's a pretty situational bonus, and one you're likely to get more benefit from in 5-mans than raids.
  • War Stomp This is an ass-saver par excellence, but only if you're in caster, tree or moonkin form; cats and bears have to shift out in order to use it. It can be used both offensively and defensively, but arena players generally prefer the reliability of Shadowmeld.
Best for? Tauren racials are a mixed bag. For tanking purposes, the small additional health from Endurance is dwarfed by the additional survivability from a night elf's Quickness, but a tauren is your best bet if you're a Hordeside tank. Otherwise, there are no DPS bonuses from the tauren racials, so if you're planning on min-maxing a cat or a moonkin, you'd be better off with a troll. War Stomp is extremely useful if you're in a form that can make immediate use of it, and it's saved my life on countless occasions as a battleground healer. However, arena players generally prefer to play night elves for the reliability of Shadowmeld and its capacity to reset a fight, and the inability to use the stun from bear and cat form doesn't look like it'll change any time soon.

Every week, Shifting Perspectives treks across Azeroth in pursuit of druidic truth, beauty and insight. Whether you're a bear, cat, moonkin, tree or stuck in caster form, we've got the skinny, from a look at the disappearance of the bear tank to thoughts on why you should be playing the class (or why not).

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

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