I’ve been pondering making this post for a while now. In fact, it was one of my post ideas alongside my original latency post. Lissanna asked me to do the latency post instead, so this one has been gathering dust until now.
The number one thing about druids in my mind is that they are the only class that can perform all 4 roles in raids : tanking, melee, ranged, healing. Paladins and Shamans are a close 2nd with 3/4, and honestly I feel Enh Shamans should have a tanking subtree like ferals, but that’s a topic for another day. I remember when I first started playing wow, I couldn’t decide what role I wanted to play, so I was advised to roll a Druid. Best. Advice. Ever.
Making the Most of Hybrid Dual-Specs
The problem is that we only have two specs that we can have ready at a time. You can also share 2 sets of gear between those 4 specs (Agi = Cat/Bear, Int = Resto/Boomkin). Paladins require 3 sets of gear, by comparison. So ideally, if you take yourself seriously as a true hybrid, at any given point you should have one feral spec, and one caster spec, as this will make it possible to be two mouse clicks away from a switch. At the same time you will have two sets of gear on your character, perfectly optimised for the two specs you currently have. This sets you up to be able to switch from one to the other with just two mouse clicks. For most of Cata so far I’ve been Bear/Resto, with occasional trips into Bear/Boomkin.
OK, so now, say you are Cat/Resto specced, and suddenly want to be Cat/Boomkin. How long does it take to change setups? Well, it requires 4 things :
1 – Change Spec + Glyphs
2 – Change Reforges
3 – Change Meta
4 – Change Bars
- 1 : Changing Spec + Glyphs: This can be easily done from memory, talent editor bookmarks in your browser or even better, using a mod like talented. Sadly, this mod seems to have been abandoned – if anyone knows of a working mod that does something similar, let me know please. Make sure you have enough Dust of Disappearance to switch your glyphs!
- 2 : Changing Reforges: ReforgeSaver is your friend here. One click and it’s done for the small price of 300G.
- 3 : Changing Meta-gems: Keep a few of each cut meta close by, so you don’t have to cut or buy one when you need them.
- 4 : Changing Spell/ability bars: This can be the tricky part. What I’d recommend is have your boomkin stance bar setup for boomkin, and your “humanoid” bar for resto (the same works for bear and cat). You might need to drop spec specific talented abilities onto the bar after a respec (swiftmend, starsurge, starfall, etc), but the majority should be in place.
You should also have your power auras setup in a way that the correct set activates. E.g. Resto = not in bear/cat/boomkin form, Boomkin Auras in Boomkin form. This is the one part that is completely seamless if setup correctly. For details on how this is done, look at my power auras post series.
A hybrid druid is a raid leader’s best friend
Once you’ve had some practice, you’ll become your raid leader’s best friend. Assume you’re in raid setup as kitty/boomkin. Did your tank or healer’s line die and they need to be replaced in a hurry? Tell your raid leader “give me 5 minutes and I can be resto/bear ready – have a warlock ready to summon” and they can go hunt down another dps to take your place. As a raid leader myself, I can’t fully express how useful hybrids are when it comes to keeping raids going through unexpected subbing.
Other druid Role-swapping advice
One thing worth noting is that it’s much easier to switch between Resto and Boomkin, than it is between Cat and Bear. If you look at the best gems and enchants for the two feral specs, there isn’t much overlap other than Agility.
- Blue sockets (20+ agi socket bonus) : Bear likes Stam, Cat wants Hit.
- Yellow sockets (20+ agi socket bonus) : Bear likes Dodge, Cat wants Mastery.
- Bear uses armor on Cloak and Gloves. Cat uses Greater Mastery on Gloves and Agi on Back.
- Bear uses Agi+Stam on legs. Cat uses Crit+Ap.
Compare to Resto/Boomkin. Both want Int, Spirit (Hit for boomkin), and Haste. They use the same leg patch. They also perfectly overlap with best enchants. So all it takes to change between them is a Reforge, Respec/Reglyph, and changing your Meta. Much faster and cheaper than a Feral Respec.
For this reason, I suggest picking a Feral spec you want to use, and then having Resto/Boomkin as your “switchable” spec. I suggest going Bear, as you’re then two mouse clicks away from all 3 roles (Tank/Heal/DPS). If you ever need to go Cat, have a plan. Do you want to Gem + Enchant for the best Min/Max stats for both, or are you willing to have a hybrid gear setup and take a small hit to performance in Bear? If you want to go down the Feral hybrid route, the Cat enchants and gems work just fine for both (Mastery, Hit, etc).
In conclusion, having one caster spec and one tanking spec gives you the most flexibility and ease in switching between three different roles with the same character.