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Tauren druids at the end of Cataclysm

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Shifting Perspectives for cat, bear, restoration and balance druids. This Tuesday, there is a cow level.

In November 2010, before Cataclysm hit, I wrote a series of articles on why (or why not) to play a particular druidic race for theorycrafting, lore, and roleplay purposes. These articles turned out to be a really big hit with readers, and you can find them here:
This week, we're going to revisit the tauren, who are in a truly unique position among the druids. They don't represent the class' old guard (exclusively night elves), but neither are they truly among the new.

The tauren

The tauren are increasingly cognizant of the fact that their choices matter, and that puts them in both an unprecedented and uncomfortable position. Why? Because they're still a fairly isolationist race and by far the least aggressive among the Horde. While they might be one of Garrosh Hellscream's more trusted peoples, and the tauren nation has consolidated to the point that tribal distinctions won't matter as much anymore, that doesn't mean that the fundamentals of tauren culture have changed. Garrosh's leadership does not suit them as well as Thrall's did, and it's a safe bet that they're not behind the deforestation in Ashenvale or Stonetalon, they're not interested in needlessly antagonizing the night elves, and they're not necessarily on board with pissing off the Alliance as a whole. This goes double for the druids, who have always had more exposure to the outside world than other tauren.

So any examination of the tauren and their culture has to acknowledge that they're approaching the end of Cataclysm in a somewhat awkward place politically and an equally strange place culturally. Now that so many of the world's threats have been eliminated, this is a race that would be more than happy to take its ball and go home. Not surprisingly, they track pretty close to the night elves on that count; both races have always kept to themselves whenever possible.

The more that all four druidic races (night elves, tauren, worgen, and trolls) are considered together, the more it becomes apparent that the two new entrants to the class are taking it in a more assertive and possibly individualistic direction and that their presence in such organizations as the Cenarion Circle is likely to unsettle the old guard. As relatively new members themselves, the tauren aren't as likely to be bothered by this, but does that make them part of the new guard?

I don't think it does. I think the tauren are kind of stuck between the two. They appreciate what the night elves were and are trying to do with organizations like the Cenarion Circle, but I also think they've probably been the victim of night elf racism on the way up. At the same time, they don't necessarily identify with Darkspear ambition or ruthlessness, and they're probably ill at ease with the Gilnean obsession with their homeland.

So how do they fit? The answer is that they don't.

Where are the druids?

Why are there no troll or worgen druids among the defenders in the Molten Front and so few in Mount Hyjal? Granted, they do show up during The Protectors of Hyjal daily, but there's a curious -- or perhaps, not so curious -- lack of them among the Hyjal leadership and quest givers.

So that brings us back to the tauren and their choices and why tauren druids suddenly find themselves with more power than they've ever had and in a rather interesting position. The night elves no longer have the huge advantage of numbers or sheer length of influence (it's hard to beat immortals for breadth of experience) to give them the upper hand in druidic organizations (although it would probably be more accurate to say that their numbers and influence, still considerable, are on the wane). Now, the tauren are on far more equal footing.

If you're a tauren druid, you may be just as uncomfortable with the politicking as the average night elf is likely to be and may deal with it by avoiding it completely. I can absolutely see a feral druid simply vanishing into the wilderness whenever possible or a restoration druid using his healing gifts for the benefit of his tribe and not getting involved in wider questions over the class' future.

What do the tauren druids think of the pandaren? As with the night elves, the pandaren emphasis on peace and balance is an appealing approach to the tauren. They are likely to see in them another large race that uses its strength as wisely as possible, or at least tries to.

What is Azeroth's perspective on tauren druids right now? Reliable, but quiet. Don't expect them to speak until they have something to say.

Middling racials Now that War Stomp is usable in feral forms (win!), I'm a big fan of it as part of the tanking rotation in 5-mans and on raid trash. Two seconds' worth of zero incoming damage or mob abilities at the start of a pull is all gravy. You won't have it up for every pull, but it's great to use on mobs with lots of caster damage or even as a stop-gap interrupt when Skull Bash and Bash aren't up. Cats will find obvious use for it in PvP as well. Otherwise, nothing about the tauren racials has changed from our initial article on them. Endurance is a minor benefit for tanks, but that's it.

Neutral points As with the night elves, no tauren racials give an advantage with respect to DPS.

Shifting Perspectives: Bear and Resto Edition takes a peek at healer balance in Dragon Soul, discovers why bears and PvP gear are a pretty good mix, lends advice on gearing up to hit the Raid Finder, and helps you level a druid in the Cataclysm era.

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

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