Leveling a druid: Intro to balance spells

So, I’ve written mostly about talents in my leveling guide. Since a lot of my blog readers  happen to be new druids directed here from the forums, I thought I’d take some time this week (before things ramp up for Blizzcon news) to talk about some things that new druids have to make sense of.  First up, I’ll be looking at the spell caster damage abilities, labeled as “balance” in your spell book. These are tools most commonly used by druids who invest in talents in the balance tree, however until level 10 (when you get bear form), it is your primary source of damage even if you want to level as feral. Using your damage ranged spells is probably the fastest way to get to level 20 (when you get cat form). A balance spec druid plans on being moonkin at level 40, and prefers to stand back away from things and cast spells from ranged (more like a mage or warlock).

Level 1: Wrath. When you first enter the world as a druid, you only have a few things you can use. This is one of them. Wrath is a damage spell with a short cast time, and an important part of the balance druid ‘s leveling tools.

Level 4: Moonfire. A damage over time spell (DOT), which is cast instantly (meaning that it doesn’t have the cast time that wrath does).  You would want to use this early in the fight, as most of the damage is done over the next 9 seconds after you cast it (it lasts for 12 seconds when you are higher level). You don’t want to repeatedly cast it the way you cast wrath. Put this up once and then let the damage happen until the DOT runs out. Since it is instant, you can also cast it while running.

Level 6: Thorns. A buff (something you can cast on yourself or others). When something hits you and you have this buff on, they take damage. It lasts on you for 10 minutes. You should try to keep this up on yourself, and put it on other people when you join groups.

Level 8: Entangling Roots. This is a type of crowd control that holds something into place and does damage to it. This keeps things from beating on you while you try to cast, since you can move away from the rooted target. This is often used at the beginning of a fight so that you can keep them from hitting you, and for extra damage over time. Things can still cast spells at you, they just can’t hit you with their melee weapons, but this helps you survive longer before needing to regain health.

Level 10: Nature’s Grasp. Works like entangling roots, only it’s a buff you cast on yourself. When something hits you, they will be rooted in place. This is nice for when you are getting hit and want to keep something off you. Just remember to run away at least a little bit after this roots your target, so they’ll stop hitting you.

Level 18: Faerie Fire. This is more useful for bear & cat druids who spend a lot of time hitting their target in melee range. It reduces armor when you cast it on your target, but balance spells don’t do melee damage. So, reducing armor won’t effect your spell casting. Ignore this ability if you are primarily rooting your target and casting spells from far away. It becomes more useful again in higher level grouping.

Level 18: Hybernate. Makes animals (beasts and dragonkin types) go to sleep. When you do damage to it, the target wakes up. Works good if you have 2 things on you, to make it stop hitting you while you kill the other target.

Level 20: Starfire. Similar to wrath, but it has a longer cast time, and does more damage. I usually cast this when my target is held in place by Entangling Roots so that it doesn’t get interrupted.

Level 22: Soothe Animal. Pretty useless.

Level 40: Hurricane – An Area of Effect (AOE) spell, meaning that it hits all the targets in the area you cast it on. You have to channel the spell, meaning that you have to stand still and it does damage over 10 seconds. Sometimes, things run out of the circle you selected on the ground, so usually I try to group a couple things together and then cast it. Not useful for 2 or 1 target. Has good synergy with the Barkskin ability you get at 44 and the Owlkin Frenzy talent available in the balance talent tree.

Level 40: Innervate. This returns mana to you. It’s really nice for leveling and at max level. You can cast this on other people, too! If you are in the middle of a fight and your mana is low, cast this and you should be able to keep fighting for longer. Not recommended for use between fights, since drinking one of your beverages will give you back mana better when you can drink after the fight.

Level 44: Barkskin. Reduces damage done to you and protects spells from being interrupted. This is great to pair with hurricane so that when things hit you, the spell won’t get cut short.

Level 70: Cyclone. Another form of crowd control. When you cast this, your target gets stuck in a twister. They can’t attack or cast spells at all, but you also can’t do damage to them. Since roots doesn’t work well on things casting spells at you, this is a good way to get casters to stop doing damage to you for a while. It doesn’t last very long, though.

Closing: That’s all the spells you can train. At certain levels, you get new ranks of the abilities that do more damage. You should always use the highest rank spell, as it will hit the hardest. You also learn some new abilities from talents (insect swarm, typhoon, & starfall), however I talk about those more in the leveling talent guide.

5 Comments

  1. Ken
    Posted August 17, 2009 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    Sweet. I’m just starting a Druid and have bookmarked your page. Thanks for taking the time to post good info.

  2. Dillion
    Posted August 17, 2009 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    On the “Always use Highest rank” one area you can use a lower rank is for PvP moonfire spam for finishing off someone. You want to start with Highest then use the 2nd highest so you don’t overwrite the dot. :D

  3. Posted August 17, 2009 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    Oh I gotta say, I LOVE Soothe Animal. It really helps me get to quest specific mobs protected by beasts. It also helps me get out faster without having to kill my way through the masses. I am thinking particularly of The Barrens and 1k Needles, where all us hordeling Druids seem to find ourselves!

  4. Lissanna
    Posted August 17, 2009 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

    Relevart – I don’t even think I’ve ever used soothe animal after the very earliest changes they did to it when I was leveling in vanilla WoW.

  5. Posted August 21, 2009 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

    Painful that it’s not worth saying that Wrath is nature damage and Starfire arcane. Blizzard has only themselves to blame for the convergence and spam-style DPS play druids are stuck with.