Druid tactics

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Druid tactics for Mists of Pandaria are presented below. Be advised that the rest of the article is significantly out of date, and that while it may contain some strategies and advice that is still relevant to the current game, much of its content may no longer be accurate.

Useful abilities

Buffs

All druids can provide the Statistics raid buff through [Mark of the Wild] after reaching level 62. This does not stack with similar buffs, such as monks' [Legacy of the Emperor] or paladins' [Blessing of Kings].

Feral and Guardian druids can also provide the Critical Strike raid buff through [Leader of the Pack] after reaching level 46, while Balance druids can provide the Spell Haste raid buff through [Moonkin Form] after reaching level 16. These likewise do not stack with similar effects.

Debuffs

All druids can provide the Armor Reduction raid debuff through [Faerie Fire] after reaching level 28. This does not stack with similar debuffs, such as rogue' [Expose Armor] or warriors' [Sunder Armor].

Feral and Guardian druids can also provide the Physical Damage Reduction raid debuff through [Thrash]. This likewise does not stack with similar effects.

Interrupts

  • Balance Only: [Solar Beam], which is an area-of-effect interrupt/silence learned at level 28.
  • Feral / Guardian: [Skull Bash] is a single-target interrupt learned at level 64.
  • Note: Restoration druids do not currently have an interrupt ability.

Dispels

  • All: [Soothe] is a single-target dispel that can remove Enrage effects learned at level 60.
  • Balance / Feral / Guardian: [Remove Corruption] is a single-target dispel that can remove Curse and Poison effects.
  • Restoration Only: [Nature's Cure] is a single-target dispel that can remove Magic, Poison and Curse effects learned at level 22.
  • Note: Druids do not currently have the ability to remove Disease effects.

Resurrection

  • All: [Revive] is a normal resurrection spell that can only be used outside of combat learned at level 12. [Rebirth] is a resurrection spell that can be used in combat learned at level 56.

Offensive cooldowns

Defensive cooldowns

  • All: [Barkskin] is a minor cooldown that reduces damage taken by 20% for 12 seconds learned at level 44. [Frenzied Regeneration] is an ability learned at level 68 that converts Rage in Bear Form into health. [Might of Ursoc] is a major cooldown usable in [Bear Form] that increases maximum health by 30% for 20 seconds learned at level 72.
  • Feral / Guardian: [Survival Instincts] is a major cooldown that reduces damage taken by 50% for 12 seconds learned at level 56.
  • Guardian Only: [Savage Defense] is a charge-based ability which increases dodge chance.

External cooldowns

  • Balance / Restoration: [Innervate] is an external mana regeneration cooldown that can be used to restore the druid's mana or the mana of an ally learned at level 54.
  • Restoration Only: [Ironbark] is an external defensive cooldown that reduces damage the target ally takes by 20% for 12 seconds.

Raid cooldowns

  • All: [Tranquility] is an extremely powerful raid cooldown that delivers an enormous amount of healing learned at level 74. [Stampeding Roar] is a raid-wide mobility cooldown learned at level 84.

Crowd control

  • All: [Entangling Roots] is a 30 second root learned at level 10. [Hibernate] is a sleep effect for beasts and dragonkin learned at level 66. [Cyclone] is a 6 second incapacitate learned at level 78.

Talents

Tier 1 talents

At level 15, you will have a choice between three talents that affect your movement capabilities.

  • [Feline Swiftness] is a passive ability that will simply increase your base movement speed.
  • [Displacer Beast] will teleport you forward, activate [Cat Form] and give you a large but short movement speed increase.
  • [Wild Charge] will have different effects depending on what your current shapeshifting form is.

Feline Swiftness is a simple 'default' talent that requires no management as it provides its benefit passively. Its effect also stacks with the movement bonus provided by Cat Form, making a shapeshifted Feral druid event faster.

Displacer Beast is also useful in any situation that would require the druid to move very rapidly in a specific direction at set intervals, such as moving from one stack point to another or when there is a large void zone that the druid needs to cross without taking damage.

Wild Charge's effect depends on what shapeshifting form you are currently in. While it is not particularly effective for Balance or Feral druids, it is has an immobilizing effect for Guardian druids and is functionally a reverse [Leap of Faith] for Restoration druids. The targeted teleport could be very useful for evading a deadly ability for Restoration, and the immobilizing effect for Guardians could be useful for freezing a newly spawned add so it cannot hurt other players.

In general, all druids should use Feline Swiftness by default, but consider whether to use one of the other two talents if it would be better in the given situation.

Tier 2 talents

At level 30, you will have a choice between 3 healing abilities.

  • [Ysera's Gift] is a passive ability that will heal you every 5 seconds, and if you are already at full health, will heal an injured ally.
  • [Renewal] is a strong self-heal with a 2 minute cooldown.
  • [Cenarion Ward] will instantly heal and create a HoT on its target if they take damage during the next 30 seconds.

Ysera's Gift requires no management. If you take this talent, it will simply automatically heal you or an injured ally every five seconds.

Renewal is a a strong heal that can boost your survivability in a pinch. It is particularly useful for healing bursts of damage that are not very predictable.

Cenarion Ward is the most challenging to use efficiently, although it has the highest total healing throughput. It is most useful in situations where damage is predictable enough that you can place the ward on a target that will be receiving damage during the 30 seconds of the effect.

Tier 3 talents

At level 45, you will have a choice between 3 crowd-control abilities.

None of these abilities directly affect the performance of any spec. It is best to use whichever talent is most appropriate for the crowd-control needs of the situation.

Tier 4 talents

At level 60, you will have a choice between 3 abilities that improve your performance. Each of these has a different effect depending on your current specialization.

Balance

  • [Soul of the Forest] passively grants your [Wrath], [Starfire] and [Starsurge] a chance for your next [Astral Communion] to grant you 100 Lunar or Solar Power, allowing you to enter your next [Eclipse] faster when it procs.
  • [Incarnation] is a damage cooldown, allowing you to do significantly more damage for the next 30 seconds while in Moonkin form.
  • [Force of Nature] is a charge-based ability where each charge will summon a treant that will root your current target and repeatedly cast [Wrath] on it for 15 seconds. It has a maximum of 3 charges, and it takes 20 seconds to recharge.

Incarnation and Force of Nature will deal approximately the same amount of damage when timed effectively with procs and other damage cooldowns. You can select whichever one suits your preferences most.

Soul of the Forest is difficult to use effectively since Astral Communion is not normally part of the Balance rotation and using it, even to hasten the next Eclipse cycle, interrupts damage output.

Feral

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Guardian

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Restoration

Incarnation: Tree of Life is the default choice for most situations, providing a large burst of additional healing on-demand when your situation requires it.

Soul of the Forest is potentially very powerful if the Haste bonus is used on the right spell, although it may require more planning of when you will use [Swiftmend] to get the most out of it. It is very powerful when paired with [Tranquility], allowing you to do a massive amount of healing in a short time.

Force of Nature can be useful in a situation where damage is very predictable. If the target has already taken a large amount of damage, but is not going to take more for some time, it can be used to top off that target's health while you focus on other healing tasks.

Tier 5 talents

At level 75, you will have a choice between 3 crowd-control abilities.

  • [Disorienting Roar] disorients all enemies within 10 yards for 3 seconds.
  • [Ursol's Vortex] is a targeted slow that affects all enemies within 8 yards. It also pulls in enemies that try to leave the area of effect.
  • [Mighty Bash] is a 5 second stun that affects one target.

None of these abilities directly affect the performance of any spec. It is best to use whichever talent is most appropriate for the crowd-control needs of the situation.

Tier 6 talents

At level 90, you will have a choice between 3 abilities that improve your performance. Each of these has a different effect depending on your current specialization.

Balance

  • [Heart of the Wild] will passively increase your Stamina, Agility and Intellect by 6%. When activated, it increase your Agility, Hit and Expertise in both [Cat Form] and [Bear Form], increase your armor and grant you [Vengeance] while in bear form and make all of your healing spells free.
  • [Dream of Cenarius] increases the healing of your [Healing Touch] and also causes your Healing Touch to further empower your next [Eclipse].
  • [Nature's Vigil] is a damage/healing cooldown boosts your damage and healing by 12% and also causes your damaging spells to heal a nearby ally for 25% of the damage done, and for all of your healing spells to damage a nearby enemy for 25% of the healing done.

Heart of the Wild strongly expands your utility to your party, giving you the ability to fill in for other roles for a short and critical period of time during an encounter. Dream of Cenarius improves the potency of your healing and rewards you with additional damage output for mixing a few heals into your rotation. Both of these talents are very powerful and you should plan wisely on which you will select.

Nature's Vigil is currently the most difficult to use effectively, providing only a small throughput boost to damage and healing, and the splash damage and healing is not very powerful either.

Feral

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Guardian

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Restoration

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Tier 7 Talents

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At level 100, you will have a choice between 3 abilities that improve your performance. Each of these has a different effect depending on your current specialization.

Mists of Pandaria

Balance

Rotation and general advice:

Cooldowns and situational abilities:

  • [Entangling Roots] lets you root a target for up to 30 seconds.
  • [Barkskin] gives you 20% damage reduction for 12 seconds with a 1 minte cooldown.
  • Use [Astral Communion] to enter an Eclipse state before tougher battles. It has no cooldown, so you can use it as often as you please.
  • Use [Solar Beam] to interrupt and shut down tougher enemy casters.
  • If you're in a party with a physical attacker, you should use [Faerie Fire] against tougher foes to weaken their armour.
  • You can cast [Innervate] to restore 20% of your mana over 10 seconds, or to restore 10% of an ally's mana over 10 seconds.
  • [Soothe] dispels Enrage buffs.
  • [Hibernate] lets you CC a beast or dragonkin for 40 seconds.
  • [Celestial Alignment] lasts 15 seconds, gives you the simultaneous benefits of Lunar and Solar Eclipses, causes your Moonfire spell to apply both the Moonfire and Sunfire DoT debuffs and prevents you from gaining more Lunar or Solar Energy while the buff is active. Ideally, it should be used while you're low on Lunar / Solar energy and not in an Eclipse state. It has a 3 minute cooldown.
  • [Cyclone] lets you CC a target for 6 seconds.
  • [Symbiosis] gives an ally a druid-themed ability based on the ally's spec, and gives you an ability based on your spec and the ally's class.

Feral

Rotation, cooldowns and general advice:

  • Pre-combat:
    • You're generally best off using a two-handed agility weapon.
    • You're generally best off fighting in [Cat Form].
    • You should activate [Prowl] before tougher pulls and open with [Ravage], which stuns and inflicts a heavy bleed DoT.
  • Combo point builders (use until you hit 5 CP):
  • Finishers:
    • Ferocies Bite is the hardest hitting of the three finishers.
    • Maim damages and stuns a target for up to 5 seconds, making it a good example when fighting a single, tough foe. Keep in mind that most dungeon bosses and many elites are immunet to stuns.
    • [Savage Roar] provides a 30% physical damage buff for up to 42 seconds. It may be beneficial to try to keep up Savage Roar, checking some of the major theorycrafting websites for futher details after each major patch is recommended.
  • Spam [Swipe] for AoE.
  • Miscellaneous abilities:
  • You can use [Innervate] to give some mana to an ally.
  • [Survival Instincts] reduces all incoming damage by 50% for 12 seconds with a 3 minute cooldown.
  • [Soothe] dispels Enrage buffs.
  • Stampeding Roar gives the entire party a brief but powerful speeed boost with a 2 minute cooldown.
  • [Symbiosis] gives an ally a druid-themed ability based on the ally's spec, and gives you an ability based on your spec and the ally's class.
  • Remember, glyphs, talents and set bonuses may affect your rotation.

Guardian

Tanking

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Soloing

Rotation, cooldowns and general advice:

  • Pre-combat:
    • You're generally best off using a two-handed agility weapon.
    • You're generally best off fighting in [Bear Form].
  • Use [Mangle] on cooldown to build Rage.
  • Use [Faerie Fire] on tougher foes to weaken their armour.
  • Use [Lacerate] when you've got a free GCD and nothing better to do.
  • Rage dumps:
  • AoE rotation:
  • Cooldowns and situational abilities:
    • [Bear Hug] stuns that target for 3 seconds and inflicts damage equal to 30% of your maximum health. It has a 1 minute cooldown.
    • [Barkskin] gives you 20% damage reduction for 12 seconds with a 1 minute cooldown.
    • You can use [Innervate] to give some mana to an ally.
    • Use [Skull Bash] to interrupt casters.
    • [Survival Instincts] reduces all incoming damage by 50% for 12 seconds with a 3 minute cooldown.
    • [Soothe] dispels Enrage buffs.
    • [Might of Ursoc] raises your current and maximum health by 30% for 20 seconds, with a 3 minute cooldown.
    • Enrage gives you 20 rage plus an additional 10 rage over 10 seconds, with a 1 minute cooldown.
    • Stampeding Roar gives the entire party a brief but powerful speeed boost with a 2 minute cooldown.
    • [Symbiosis] gives an ally a druid-themed ability based on the ally's spec, and gives you an ability based on your spec and the ally's class.
  • Remember, glyphs, talents and set bonuses may affect your rotation.

Restoration

Healing

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Soloing

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General tactics

Druids have four specializations — Balance, Feral, Guardian and Restoration — and each leads to radically different play styles and tactics; however there are some general principles that apply to all druids.

Shifting

  • Any specialization of druid can shapeshift. All shapeshifting breaks roots and snares, and grants immunity to polymorph and will break polymorph effects.
  • Shifting out of a form is a not a spell, nor an action, and can be done anytime (unless under Mind Control). It can be done while stunned, feared, etc but it does not break the effect. It can even be done while skinning/mining/gathering (e.g. to prepare for a heal). Shifting in to a form is an action however and cannot be done while stunned, feared, etc. Shapeshifting is not a spell, so can be done while silenced or locked out of your nature school.
  • Shapeshifting is an instant ability, so it can be used during movement. This is useful when falling to switch to [Cat Form] to take advantage of [Feline Grace] to avoid fall damage, or to [Flight Form].
  • While in an animal form you count as a beast for the purposes of spells and abilities, and are vulnerable to [Hibernate] and [Scare Beast], but not to abilities that only affect humanoids, such as Mind Control. Shifting out of an animal form while the spell is being cast upon you will cause it to fail as you are no longer a valid target. However attempting to shifting after it has taken effect will not break it (for example, you will remain asleep even if you shift back to humanoid form after being hibernated).
  • Most spells and effects that change your appearance are canceled by shifting. Some, however, are not affected and allows for some entertaining displays (especially if you have obtained [Flight Form]). Feel free to experiment, particularly with 'disguise' style quests.

Spells and abilities

  • Cat form has the ability to [Prowl] and [Dash], which can be useful regardless of specialization.
  • [Bear Form] greatly increases your armor and HP, which can also be useful regardless of specialization.
  • [Rebirth] works in combat and brings someone up with significant or full health and mana (depending on if  [Glyph of Rebirth] is equipped). It can prevent a wipe if used properly. It can also be used as a form of wipe recovery.
  • [Barkskin] both mitigates damage and can be used to avoid most types of interruptions. It is especially useful for casting [Healing Touch], [Tranquility], or [Hurricane] while in close combat. It can also be cast in feral forms for the damage reduction or when escaping.

Partying and raiding

A tauren druid fighting with a draenei warrior.

Historically, there was no place for non-Restoration Druids in end-game raiding. Today, Druids in the top-tier instances will often be called upon as healers, tanks, or DPS. Ultimately, the choice of specialization is your preference.

A large part of a druid's raid utility is their adaptability. If you go to an instance with a group or raid and you have Dual Talent Specialization, you should bring another set of spec appropriate gear so you can switch spec/roles depending on the raid's needs. Generally unless you have the specialization and the appropriate gear, a Druid can not fulfill two roles successfully in a raid environment at the same time and in emergency situations can only fulfill other roles in a limited capacity/time. A Balance Druid would not last long in [Bear Form] against a raid boss but could provide some clutch heals before quickly going oom.


Druids also possess 3 highly desired abilities:

  • [Innervate] can regenerate mana for yourself or a party member quickly during a long fight.
  • [Rebirth] for returning a dead player to combat.

Even when you are the main tank keep an eye open for an emergency that requires the above abilities.

Soloing

For players who have not yet attained access to Outland, it is very strategic to place your  [Hearthstone] in the Eastern Kingdoms (for Horde, Undercity or Kargath; for Alliance, Ironforge or Stormwind); since you can easily access Kalimdor through the spell [Teleport: Moonglade], learned at level 10. This acts as a second hearthstone. From Moonglade, you can fly for free to Darnassus (Alliance) Silva Fil'naveth or Thunder Bluff (Horde) Bunthen Plainswind from the FlightMaster located around (44,45), in the very southwest corner of the town, Nighthaven. There is also a normal flight path in the south/southwest of the zone with connections to various places (Darkshore, Felwood, Winterspring). This can decrease the amount of time you spend waiting for transport between continents.

A method for soloing mobs much stronger than yourself (such as elites), is to simply alternate [Starfire] with whatever crowd control option is open to you (backing up after each cast), repeating until the mob is dead. While time consuming, this enables a druid of any spec to take out mobs that cannot be soloed head on. When facing a mob much stronger than yourself, it is usually unwise to use [Moonfire], as this has a tendency to break crowd control. If both crowd control options work on a particular mob, you must compare the two; [Entangling Roots] is less likely to break than Hibernation, and sometimes a druid can squeeze two or three Starfires in before having to recast it. However, if a mob manages to close the gap, Hibernation will prevent it from hitting you, whereas Entangling Roots will not. A smart druid can typically kill anything that can be put to sleep or rooted in place.

This tactic should not be Underestimated: In Vanilla wow, the Druid Tier 0 boots (The Wildheart Boots.) used to be regularly solo farmed from Mother Smolderweb in Lower Blackrock Spire. It is possible to stealth to her, then kill her using a hibernate/starfire cycle.

PvP

Main article: Druid PvP guide

General

Druids are very versatile in combat and can therefore approach a fight in many different ways. Healing is very tricky against a smart opponent or a class with spell interrupts.

You will often find that against another player you will find most of your abilities useful at various times regardless of talent specialisation — a feral druid will benefit greatly from using [Cyclone] and healing spells alongside their animal form abilities, and a balance or restoration druid will find [Travel Form] and Dash similarly useful.

Spells and tactics

  • Rooting: Entangling Roots is very handy for keeping melee opponents at bay and making casters stay put so that you can attack them in Bear or Cat form. It has an instant cast variant in [Nature's Grasp] that will root someone attacking you in melee. Be aware that there are many items and abilities that break root. If you rely too much on the spell, it will get you in trouble.
  • Kiting: Travel form can be used to put distance between you and your enemy, which can be very useful while they are affected by DOTs (i.e. Moonfire, Rip). You can also use this tactic to run far enough away from them that they cannot catch up before you can get a heal off.
  • [Hibernate]: This ability can be used against Shamans in Ghost Wolf form, Hunter pets, and other Druids in beast forms. This spell can give you time to heal or restealth in a one-on-one battle, reopening the battle with a Ravage or Pounce. In group PvP, hibernate is invaluable, as it takes an opponent out of the fight. Be careful who you hibernate, however, as hibernate will be broken if one of your teammates attacks your target. It is safer to hibernate an opponent with full health, as this usually means they are not currently under attack, and the probability that one of your teammates will engage that person at the exact same time you put them to sleep is low.
  • [Innervate]: A nice mana boost. Be careful using it around an enemy Mage, Priest, Shaman, or Felhunter, as having it dispelled is incredibly frustrating and wastes the timer. In a fast paced battleground, use it as often as possible (read: as soon as it is cooled down) to maximize the number of innervates (and thus the amount of mana regained) per round. If you are a feral druid, cast this on healers whenever you get a chance, since you probably won't be using it, and a single healer typically has more sway in group PvP than any DPS class does.
  • Debuff Removal: Rogues and Warlocks will use a lot of poisons and curses on you. It is generally a good idea to remove them as soon as you see them. Cure Poison and Remove Curse are cheap compared to many of the effects they remove.

Other

  • Buff Removal: Mages, Priests, Shamans and Warlocks (Felhunter) can use [Dispel Magic]/ [Purge]/ [Devour Magic] on you to remove your own buffs. This includes [Nature's Swiftness] and [Nature's Grasp] among others. Having these buffs removed will start the respective cooldowns. This makes it a generally bad idea to precast buffs against these classes. Fighting against these classes is mostly a battle of mana so be careful about reapplying mana expensive buffs like [Mark of the Wild]. Note that Druid shapeshift forms are not considered a magic ability and cannot be dispelled.
  • RAWRbomb
    To perform RAWRbomb, use [Flight Form], fly over your unaware target, change to [Bear Form]/ [Cat Form] and [Feral Charge] to player who stands in ground. This will give you valuable surprise-effect, because you came out of nowhere. Charging just before you hit ground will remove the falling damage, so RAWRbomber will not die on fall damage.
    NOTE: RAWRbomb requires perfect timing. If timed wrong, it will turn from deadly surprise attack to miserable failure; RAWRsplat.

References