Tier 5: Levels 49 through 58
Another get-everything tier, and you will literally be getting everything. The order in which you pick up what is entirely up to you. Personally, I would put the first point into Earth and Moon because it's not only a significant damage increase for you, but it also provides great utility in dungeons. The second point is rather a toss-up between Sunfire and Force of Nature. Sunfire is great for damage, but Force of Nature is amazing for getting you out of a rough spot and for helping to solo elites faster -- at least the ones that can't be rooted.
I would favor getting Sunfire first over Force of Nature, but the choice there is up to you. The last two points that you get should go into Dreamstate. Mana probably isn't an issue for you at this point, especially if you got Moonglow earlier, but more mana is never really a bad thing.
Tier 6: Levels 59 through 68
Ahh, the double-edged sword of our talent tree. Lunar Shower is a must-have, and your first three points should go into picking it up as soon as you possibly can. Fungal Growth, however, is pretty much crap. At this point, the only spell you have that gets any use out of it is Force of Nature -- and having a snare on a 3-minute cooldown and a 30-second delay that drops behind a target isn't that useful. Fungal Growth isn't that useful until you have Wild Mushroom, which isn't until level 85.
The other two points that you have to spend are just floater points to pick up whatever you feel like getting at this point. If you need mana and haven't gotten it yet at this point, then go for Moonglow. Otherwise, your choice is between Owlkin Frenzy and Gale Winds, neither of which is really all that useful.
Many people will swear by Owlkin Frenzy while leveling, but, frankly, unless you are pulling multiple mobs at a time, then it isn't going to be much of a benefit to you. AoE grinding as balance is a solid method for leveling, but I wouldn't really suggest it until you do have Lunar Shower, which is why I would wait until now to get OF if you are going to get it at all. Honestly, though, I found that most mobs simply died far too quickly for the talent to be that useful. It really isn't until level 83 and you're in Uldum that mobs are going to live long enough for OF to really matter.
Level 69 and level 80
Level 69 is finally when you'll be able to pick up Starfall, that wonderful spell that loves to pull additional packs of mobs just for you. It's very sweet that way. After that, you'll be given the freedom to put five points into wherever you wish, even other trees besides balance. The first set of three points that you get a level 71, 73, and 75 should go into picking up Heart of the Wild; after that, it's really all mush.
Even though it may seem like a not-so-great investment at the time, I would highly suggest putting those last two points into Furor in the feral tree. Furor grants additional mana that isn't particularly useful at this stage of the game, but the mana cost of your spells is going to skyrocket between level 80 and 85, and you are frequently going to find yourself having mana issues until you get better gear. Furor pretty much becomes one of those must-have talents for the initial stages of Cataclysm, and you are going to pretty much have to have it at 85 ... so might as well get it now. The only other option that I would suggest is to get Natural Shapeshifter in preparation for getting Master Shapeshifter later; however, MSS is a fairly low gain in damage in comparison to what you already have, so waiting to get it until 85 isn't that big of a deal.
The cataclysmic push: level 81 to 85
Things change a little bit going from 81 to 85. Once you reach 81, you no longer gain a talent point every other level; instead, you get one at every level. This means that you are going to have five additional talent points to play with. Four of those points, sadly, are already spoken for. Between levels 81 and 84, you are going to fill out Furor, Natural Shapeshifter, and Master Shapeshifter. Which order you get them in isn't that important; personally, I favor getting Furor first, but those are your must-have talents.
Furor may seem questionable, because I am an avid supporter of Perseverance along with Graylo. Sadly, early 85 balance druids have to make a difficult choice in the matter. Without Furor, you are more than likely going to have to use Innervate on yourself at every cooldown in order to prevent yourself from going OOM; however, if you pick up Furor and Moonglow, then you should be able to get away with sparing every other Innervate on a healer instead, perhaps even every Innervate. The choice then becomes being able to feed a substantial amount of mana to a healer or taking reduced damage yourself. It is a tough choice, but I would always favor giving a healer mana.
Later in the game, perhaps by tier 12 or 13, we'll probably be able to forgo Furor and still be fine on mana, but that just wasn't the case even in tier 11.
Glyphing for success!
Initially, you'll only be able to pick up a single glyph of every type, eventually getting all three of your glyph slots as you level up. Balance has several strong prime glyphs, a few great major glyphs, and even a couple of solid minor glyphs, so it can be a tough choice at the start.
It may seem like I'm crazy, but the first prime glyph that you should pick you should pick up is Moonfire. Even though the Glyph of Insect Swarm is a 30 percent increase while the Glyph of Moonfire is only 20 percent, it seems that Moonfire is actually dealing more DoT damage than Insect Swarm at this point, at least it is for me. It may be a different story while leveling; I sadly don't have a lower-level druid to test it on, but it is the case at 80.
Anyway, once you can get a second glyph at level 50, you should then pick up the Insect Swarm glyph. Getting both of our DoT glyphs first may not seem like a great leveling tool, given than things are likely going to die before your DoTs fully tick out -- and if you are in full BoA gear, you may not even use them aside for proccing Nature's Grace -- but your only other real choice is the Wrath glyph, which requires Insect Swarm to be up on the target anyway.
Speaking of the Glyph of Wrath, it should be your third primary glyph choice once you've unlocked them all. Your other option is to pick up the Glyph of Starsurge, but there is some wash over which is better. The Glyph of Wrath is generally a higher DPS return on single-target encounters, while the Glyph of Starsurge is better for AoE encounters. Once you're at level 85 and raiding, I would suggest carrying around some Dust of Disappearance so that you can swap between the two as the fight calls for, but for leveling and general dungeon running, I'd just stick to Wrath.
Major glyphs are a little bit more tricky. Thorns isn't quite as good as it used to be since the damage nerf. Rebirth is a great choice and one that I suggest having once you get to 80, but at lower levels, you really shouldn't find yourself using Rebirth as much. For leveling, the best choice are really Glyph of Monsoon, Glyph of Innervate, Glyph of Solar Beam, and Glyph of Starfall once you can get it.
Monsoon is great for being able to Typhoon more often if you ever find yourself in a sticky situation or just in general to keep mobs from getting to you. Innervate is fantastic for dungeon runs so that you can Innervate a healer to help reduce his downtime and still keep your own mana up, and Solar Beam is fantastic for keeping a mob silenced while you kill it. Which you choose is really up to you and whichever you find most useful.
I would strongly suggest against using the Glyph of Entangling Roots while leveling. Many of the elite mobs that you encounter can be rooted, which can allow you to kill them excessively easily even solo. Unfortunately, Entangling Roots breaks very easily, and having a cooldown on the spell prevents you from completely locking down a mob. Switching to the Entangling Roots glyph when you reach the 80 to 85 push is more practical, as there aren't many (if any) elite mobs that you encounter that aren't meant to be done solo anyway. But even in Northrend content -- especially in Howling Fjord, Dragon Blight, and Icecrown -- there are plenty of group quests that can be soloed using a chain root method.
That's all, folks! Stay classy, and remember, there's nothing quite as awesome as a giant owl-turkey-bear-man-thing blowing the living bejeezus out of things. Why do you think balance druids are so cool? Over and out, Connecticut.
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).