Druid balance leveling guide 1 to 85

Druid balance leveling guide 1 to 85

Hello, all. This guide is being updated for Cataclysm, so there will be some errors below.

Original author: Ataraxia
(Guide format shamelessly stolen from Trollvink and his awesome Enhancement Shaman guide)



Introduction

Balance Druids are the caster DPS of the druid tree. This spec should be viable for leveling all the way to 85. However, you will have to pick up cloth gear for the most part, as caster leather is extremely rare before Outland. Given that, you may want to level as Feral until at least 39 (when you get Moonkin Form) or even 60 (when the gear selection becomes much better). If you do, check out Zerox's Feral Guide.


Talents

This spec is for primarily for leveling. This is not an instance or raid spec.
(Full spec can be found here)


Spells and Rotations

  • Always start at max casting range.
  • Always keep Mark of the Wild on you once you get it

1-7
Take whatever 2-handed weapon/weapon and offhand that provide Intellect and spell power.

  • Until you get Moonfire, spam Wrath until the target is in melee range.
  • Once you get Moonfire, cast it after you've launched your first Wrath. (Wrath takes time to travel to its target while Moonfire hits immediately. Your first Wrath will hit the target as he starts runing towards you.)
Rotation - Pull with Wrath, cast Moonfire, spam Wrath. Refresh Moonfire if needed.

8-9

  • Open with Wrath.
  • Spam Starfire until the target is dead.
  • When fighting multiple mobs, use Moonfire followed by Entangling Roots on one. Then, focus on other mobs, healing as necessary.
Rotation - Pull Wrath, then spam Starfire.


Eclipse Mechanic

It's important that you learn how the Eclipse mechanic works for a balance druid. Once you select the Balance talent specialization, you'll get a bar under your portrait. To the left is a moon, and to the right is a sun. The spells you cast will move the bar towards one side or the other. Once you get all teh way to one side, you'll trigger an Eclipse, the effects of which are pretty much the same except for the spells they effect.

First thing is to understand the bar's motion. Once the bar starts moving, it's direction will be shown by an arrow. Once the bar starts a direction, it will NOT go the other direction until an eclipse happens. The bar will move depending on what spell is cast. Certain spells move it a specific amount.

Wrath will move it towards a lunar eclipse, and Starfire will move it towards a solar eclipse. Starsurge will move it in whichever direction it's going (if you've just logged in or ressed, it'll go towards lunar).

A Lunar Eclipse will make your starfire do more damage, and a Solar Eclipse will make your Wrath do more damage. Because of how this mechanic works, you'll be changing Wrath and Starfire in the rotation, depending on which way your bar is moving or if you proc an eclipse. WIth that in mind, here's the rotation you should keep using:

That's pretty much it. I'll be covering some of the other options you'll have as you acquire new spells, but the rotation above should take you to 85.

10-28
At this point, start using the rotation listed above. If you end up pulling multiple mobs, cast Moonfire on all of them, then concentrate on them one at a time.

29-85
Starting at 29, you'll have access to the iconic Moonkin Form. Once you have this ability, you hsould always be in this form when fighting. The only reason to leave this form is to mount up or heal. You will automatically leave Moonkin Form whenever you cast a healing spell, but you'll have to manually leave it in order to get on your mount.

  • There are some talents you'll be picking up that will start affecting your rotation. The biggest one of these is Shooting Stars at 31, which can grant you a free cast of Starsurge. Use it whenever it's up.
  • Next up is Typhoon, which you talent into at 35. Typhoon affects a cone in front of you, knocking targets back for a short distance. Use it to keep melee mobs away from you. Warning: The range on Typhoon is further than the animation. Get a feel for it before you use it often!
  • At 41 you get Solar Beam through talents. This calls a large area of light that prevents enemy casting while it's up. As most mobs will just leave it and start casting again, it doesn't provide any real long-term benefits to a fight. WIth that in mind, here area couple of the best situations to use it:
    • Cast is on a mob just as it's about to finish a spell with a long cast time. This reduces your incoming damage considerably, as you'll have gotten free shots on him while he was casting, as well as attacks on him while he moves and starts casting again.
    • When fighting multiple mobs, use cast Entangling Roots followed by Solar Beam on a caster. This will effectively keep him from contributing until one of the two spells runs out.
    • If you find yourself taking a lot of damage from a caster mob, run into melee range with it and then cast Solar Beam. If you're in melee range, casters will switch to a melee weapon if they can't cast. You'll still take damage, but it'll usually be a lot less than his spells would have done.
  • At 51, you'll pick up Force of Nature though talents. This ability calls 3 treants to your side to fight for you. I personally save this ability for "Oh, crap" moments, such as when I end up with too many mobs, or when fighting elites. They can be directed to attack specific targets, but only as a group. Use them to occupy a mob if you've pulled to many, or as extra damage when fighting an elite.


Area of Effect Pulls

This section will cover your area effect spells and how to use them in pulls.
  • Your main AoE spell is Hurricane, which you get at level 44. This is a channeled spell, which means if you're taking damage while channeling it you'll lose some duration. For low HP mobs or groups of 3, this can do more damage than single-target casting. For groups of 4, it's only useful once you get Barkskin at 58. This spell keeps you from suffering pushback when channeling or casting.
  • The second spell AoE spell is Starfall. This spell causes AoE damage to any targets within a certain distance of you. However, this spell is NOT limited to just creatures you're fighting so be careful. Using it in the wrong situation could get you killed. That aside, it does excellent damage and is not a channeled spell, which mneas you can use that as well as Hurricane at the same time. Consider getting the Glyph of Focus. This slightly improves Starfall's damage while reducing its area, meaning you're less likely to kill yourself while using it.
  • Not to be underestimated, use Thorns on yourself when AoEing against melee mobs. The extra damage adds up fast.
While Typhoon is technically an AoE spell, I don't include it here because the cooldown prevents it from being used more than once a pull and its knockback will generally push a mob outside of your other AoE's effect. If you want to add this to your AoE rotation, make sure you get Glyph of Typhoon so you don't knock them out of range.

There are other configurations for AoE grinding, but I tend not to use them (mostly because I'm on a PvP server and don't want to have to worry about 3+ mobs when getting attacked by another player).


Tips

Solo:

Instances:

Professions

  • Tribal Leatherworking is a great way to go if you're leveling as balance. There are some nice BoP pieces for balance.
  • Skinning is a good compliment to leatherworking, allowing you harvest your own materials. Additionally, skinning will give you a critical chance buff which helps your damage out.


Stats

In the following order: Intellect -> Spell Power -> Crit -> Stamina -> Spirit -> Hit Rating

    1 - Intellect: This stat give you more mana, as well as increasing spell power and spell critical chance

    2 - Spell Power: Needed to directly increase damage

    3 - Crit: Higher crit chance means more damage

    4 - Stamina: Try as you might, you will get hit. This helps you stay alive longer

    5 - Spirit: Also used to keep your mana up, but not as effective in combat. Once you get Balance of Power, spirit will increase your Hit rating.

    6 - Hit Rating: Your spells arent' any good if they don't hit their target. Once you get Balance of Power, spirit will increase your Hit rating.


Glyphs

Click here for a complete list of druid glyphs

Prime

Major

Minor


Gear

The gear listed below are just suggestions. There are plenty of other choices out there. If possible, try to upgrade your gear every 10 levels or so.

Armor

    From 1-57, you'll probably be wearing cloth gear since there isn't much in the way of spell leather in Vanilla WoW. The biggest exception is the Embrace of the Viper set that drops from the Wailing Caverns instance. After that, the next major pieces of caster leather are the Ironfeather set.

    Once you get to Outland, there are plenty of pieces of spell leather. The first you should be able to get are pieces of the Wild Draenish set.

Weapons
Your caster weapons are limited to one-handed maces, daggers, fist weapons and staves. If you're using a mace, dagger or fist weapon, make sure to get an off-hand item.
Once you hit Outland, you'll find several upgrades available through quests. If at all possible, get a group to do the Ring of Blood quest line at 65 for the reward. At 75, do the Amphitheater of Anguish.


Druid Quests

I don't know how the original quests have changed with Cataclysm, but I'll update this section as I come across them.


Addons

There are several add-ons that are directly useful to druids.

  • Decursive - This handy addon will allow you to remove any negative effect you are capable of removing from any member of your group with a simple click, without having to target them.
  • Recount - Recount lets you keep track of how much damage you're dealing and your overall DPS.