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MOP Druid leveling guide preview: Talents

With the new talent system being released with the 5.0 MOP pre-patch, I have started working on the newest version of my leveling guide. With the talent changes, I am doing one talent section that covers info for all four specs, since there is a lot of info that would have been redundant if I did one for each of the four specs. Since I spent all day working on the guide, I thought I’d release the talent section early. Please note that it’s subject to change if Blizzard changes talents. Also, keep in mind that the leveling guide is targeting people level 1 to 89, and when you hit 90, you should be looking at end-game guides for talent advice. I’ll have end-game talent suggestions for moonkin & resto druids closer to MOP’s patch day.

Druid Leveling Talents in Mists of Pandaria (patch 5.0):

There is a new talent system which has a set of talents that is shared across all four druid specializations. Choosing your specialization now gives you a bunch of abilities as you level up. Then, you get to choose 6 additional abilities from the talent set. Here, I will briefly explain the sets of options you have and how useful they are to each spec for leveling (your max-level choices may be different). The purpose of these talents is to allow for choice, so I will spend more time explaining what they do than telling you which one to choose.

Level 15: All specializations choose either feline swiftness or wild charge.

  • Feline Swiftness: Increases your movement speed by 15% at all times. This is pretty useful for all four specializations.
  • Displacer beast: Teleports you 20 yards away and shifts you into cat form. This talent isn’t useful for anyone because it is too easy to break you out of stealth. Bad for all specs.
  • Wild charge: Gives you a different movement teleport effect depending on your specialization. In caster form, you teleport to the location of your targeted ally.  Moonkin bound backwards 20 yards. Travel form leaps forward 20 yards. Swim form goes faster. Cats jump behind your targeted enemy. Bears charge at their enemy and imobilize them for 4 seconds. Good for everyone except resto druids for leveling.

Level 30:  Resto: choose Nature’s Swiftness or Cenarion Ward. All other specs: Choose nature’s swiftness or Renewal.

  • Nature’s Swiftness: makes your next healing spell, roots, rebirth, or cyclone instant-cast and usable in all forms. This is useful for all specializations.
  • Renewal: Instant cast that heals yourself for 30% of your health. Useful for DPS and tank druids for keeping yourself alive. Less helpful for resto druids where the other options can be used on either yourself or others.
  • Cenarion Ward: A buff you put on your target that will apply a HOT to tick down after they get hit. This could be useful for resto druids, but I’d recommend other specs to pick up one of the more burst heals. In addition, this may not heal very much at lower levels, so one of the other talents could be a better healing talent for leveling.

Level 45: Overall, I prefer typhoon. However, for leveling, your choice of crowd control here doesn’t matter much.

  • Faerie Swarm: Your faerie fire spell slows your target’s movement speed. Situationally useful.
  • Mass Entanglement: Will root multiple targets in place for a short time. Situationally useful.
  • Typhoon: Knocks back your target and dazes (slows) them for a short period of time. Situationally useful.

Level 60: Varies by spec (see below). All of these are designed to help your main role, so any choice ends up being potentially helpful for leveling. Each talent does something different for each specialization.

  • Soul of the forest: Gives balance more solar or lunar energy when you exit Eclipse (good option because it gets you back into an Eclipse faster). Gives feral more energy when you use finishing moves (not as helpful for leveling if things die fast). For Guardian, mangle generates more rage (helpful for leveling as a tank). For resto, using swiftmend makes your next cast spell faster (not as helpful for leveling as resto). The nice part of this is that your bonus is passive so you don’t have to remember to cast it.
  • Incarnation: For balance, increases your damage while Eclipse is active (probably better for grouping than solo). For feral, this gives you a couple different bonuses (probably better for grouping or max level than solo leveling). Guardian: Reduces the cooldown on abilities (good for leveling in instances). Resto: increases your healing done and gives you several nice bonuses (good for leveling in instances).
  • Force of Nature: Summons treants to fight for you. For balance, treants cast wrath & roots (helpful for leveling). For feral, treants do melee damage and can stun the target (helpful for leveling). For guardian, treants taunt (not as helpful for leveling). Resto treants cast Healing Touch (helpful for leveling).

Level 75: Another crowd control tier where it doesn’t matter what talent you choose.

  • Disorienting roar: Disorients all enemies within 10 yards (your targets won’t attack for the duration of the effect, but any damage you do will break the disorient).
  • Ursol’s Vortex: Will slow the movement speed of enemies in the vortex.
  • Mighty bash: A 5 second stun that requires being in melee range.

Level 90: See end-game guides for recommendations once they’ve been released. Heart of the wild‘s passive bonuses are useful for everyone (though the “utility” benefit is less useful), so you can start out with Heart of the Wild and choose your talent based on the end-game content you want to do. The other two talents are more situational.

Posted in Beta Feedback, Druid - General, Leveling, Mists of Pandaria, Written By Lissanna

Updates to MoP Talent calculator

So, it looks like we got a nice MoP talent calculator update for druids. For this post, I’m just going to go through a handful of the bigger changes. I’ll do more focused critiques for resto & moonkin over the next few weeks. The change list isn’t inclusive of all the changes. I’m just highlighting some of the bigger changes.

Major talent changes:

  • None of the talents force-shift you into shapeshift forms anymore (except for displacer beast which is okay because it activates prowl). The talents are all useable in all forms. One additional awesome change is that all the feral utility abilities (dash, taunt, stampeding roar, etc) will shift you into an appropriate feral form if you are not already in form. So, the effect that used to be on the talents are now just on our baseline feral utility abilities (yay!). For tank swaps, if you are outside of bear form & need to taunt, you wouldn’t have to go into bear before taunting – taunting would just now shift you to bear.
  • All 3 level 15 movement abilities were changed. Wild Charge replaced dash 2.0 in the level 15 talents and they are all relatively caster-friendly now. Displacer beast sends you 20 yards forward (no longer random & dangerous), and feline swiftness increases the movement speed of all specs by an equal 15%.
  • New Talent (Soul of the Forrest) replaced the spot where wild charge used to be (does Eclipse power gains for moonkin & casting haste buff for resto).
  • Bear hug is now a baseline ability. Level 75 talent replaced with Mighty Bash. This requires you to be in melee range to stun the target for 5 seconds, but at least it is useable in all forms. I’m not totally sold on the level 75 talents for caster druids, but the talent set is better now.  They all seem really situational for PvE purposes.
  • Master shapeshifter is gone (as predicted). Replaced with Dream of Cenarius, where using healing spells give you a damage buff & using damage spells give you a healing buff. This is still situational and won’t likely be a DPS/HPS increase for your main role, but is still potentially useful for off-role utility purposes depending on how it ends up being implemented. Requires some beta testing for the mechanic to see if it ends up being useful or not. It’s better than the original horrible talent, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it is ready to go live as currently designed. It has more potential for being decent with some tweaks as we test the talents.

Overall talent change impressions:

Druid talents are obviously harder to get right than any of the other specs. Nothing really feels that amazing for PvE purposes in pretty much any tier. However, the are significantly better than the original talent tree versions. The problems with heart of the wild haven’t been addressed, but we are at least headed in the right direction and we can see that they are listening to at least some of the major criticisms about the original set of talents. There is still a LOT of work for us to do over the course of beta, but a lot of these talents now need to  be tested & theorycrafted instead of just being totally laughable.

Moonkin Ability Changes:

  • Eclipse gained an interesting effect, where Solar Eclipse will cause wrath to increase the duration of sunfire & Lunar Eclipse will cause starfire to increase the duration on moonfire.
  • The new insect swarm increases all spell damage by 25% rather than only increasing the damage done by our three nuke spells. I’m not sure what I think about the change or how it impacts what I wrote about earlier.


All of the dispel abilities have cooldowns now for all the classes, which is the only major change to resto abilities. I didn’t see any other major resto spell changes, and I’m not looking at the cat/bear ability lists for time reasons (because I didn’t memorize the feral tooltips prior to the changes, lol). Symbiosis was clarified to say that it can’t be cast on other druids. The talents are now at a point where we need to test them in beta to really be able to see how they are going to work in the new content. Some of them may be very useful in certain encounters that we just haven’t seen yet, and some of them may turn out to be totally useless.

Posted in Cataclysm, Druid - General, Moonkin Balance DPS, Restoration Healing Trees, Written By Lissanna

Repost: Resto Druids In End Game Guilds

Progression raiding at times can be time-consuming, but a very rewarding activity. Breaking outside the normal, watch this video and kill the boss like this, and developing strategies for yourself gives a great sense of success when a mighty boss falls beneath your feet. Excelling your gameplay to the next level, is what some players inspire to do. I started out in a small, non raiding friends and family orientated guild. I studied, number crunched, and learned how to be a successful healer. If you are wanting to take the plunge into competitive raiding, or you just want to see what the process is like. Please keep reading!

Where to Begin

A common question I get asked by druids, is how do you get into competitive raiding?  The first trick to getting started is, look at all the knowledge about your class that you can. Read through theory crafting (even if you don’t understand the numbers behind it, just understand why it works), examine progression orientated raiders and learn from their gearing choices, and hit the forums for some good guides on proper set up for your characters. The bigger insight into your class that you have, the better your chances are of beating out your competition. There are tons of resources on the internet for bettering your game play, and if you are on this page, you are well on your way.

Another good resource that I always find useful, is watching a player stream their raids for you to view. This will give you a heads up look at how other druids play. Examine everything from their UI, down to their cooldown management, and how they take down each specific encounter. I offer a live stream Monday – Thursday 6:30 – 11:00 CST and always will make sure people know if we are not raiding that night, or if I am going to be late/unavailable to our raid ( All my announcements will be made via There are many other resto druids stream that can be found, and I urge you to tune in and watch at least one, to see how they handle progression raiding.

I’m Good, but I Have No Experience

Most progression orientated guilds, are going to want to see previous raiding experience in the current tier, as well as previous tiers. If you don’t have prior raiding experience, you have to start somewhere. Finding a guild for your given class, can prove to be tedious, however they are out there. Join a guild that has lower progression then what you are hoping for, and really shine. Perform well above the rest of the players, and advance through the ranks of the guilds on your server. Eventually you will have the required experience and knowledge to start the application process with a highly ranked guild.

Dedication of Time

The other problem that raiders generally run into is being able to allot that time to the guild each and every week. What you have to understand is, you are making a commitment to the other 9 or 24 players that will be there during raid times. By joining the guild, you are saying “Hey, I can make your schedule work for me”. Now, life does come up and most guilds allow for this, but it doesn’t hurt to check their attendance policy. If the guild you want to join doesn’t fit the times you need, keep searching.

Loot Rules

Loot rules will be the breaking point for some people. Loot is a means to an end. Gear is looted in a way to advance the guild into more challenging encounters. Open roll loot is going to pretty much disappear at this point. The good news is, you only have roll against balance druids, for now… KUNG PAO (Monk sounds) Having raided in both a loot council, and DKP system I can tell you that they both have their ups and downs, but in the end they are both fair loot systems in most cases.

The Dreaded Application Process

If you have ever browsed the forums of your favorite guilds, you’ve likely took notice to their application process. At first glance, you might shrug off the idea of filling in the information, to raid with a group of people, although you should never ever think of it like that. This is your time to shine in this guilds eye. First impressions are key, and demonstrating your class knowledge is just one more way to prove to the guild, you are ready to undertake the challenges of competitive raiding. Don’t rush through the process, take each question slowly, and really build a well written response. A sloppy or short application, will generally be disregarded. Players that put the time and effort into writing up a grammatically correct, well thought out application will have a upperhand over the other classes that are applying.

I would suggest keeping a high focus on uptimes during your application. Active casting time is HUGE for being a competent resto druid this tier. We have once again fallen from our spam model, and have to micro manage our buffs and hot timers.

What We Look For In Parses

I really rather enjoy analyzing parses. Sometimes I feel that they don’t do justice, but most of the time they will if the person reading them understands the mechanics of the fight. When I examine a resto druid, I check two things first. Harmony uptime, how often are you using a direct heal to make your hots more effective. Harmony is a key component for mastery based druids. (The exception would be of course experimenting with crit, but I don’t like stat weight discussions) The other important component is Lifebloom uptime. Giving that extra little boost to a tank, is a big help to the tank healers. I look for those stats to be above 76% on a standard tank and spank fight.

Then, I will move to effective HPS and overhealing done. If I look at your graph, and you are peaking highly on activity at the start, but slow all the way down towards the end it usually means you aren’t managing correctly and have run yourself oom. Usually, your overheals will be super high right out of the gate. Mana management is a key part on my determination of your competency as a healer.

The last section that I look at for parses is spell selection and cool down management. Is your lifebloom count high enough? Are you properly offering fillers into your rotation when damage is low? Did you use your tranq during a period of low damage? You can learn a lot from players by looking at their logs. I encourage you to compare your logs to other resto druids and see how you guys line up on particular fights.

It Doesn’t Hurt to Ask

I can’t speak for every guild in the game, but if you have questions about joining it never hurts to ask. Speak to a member about what it takes to join, what kind of experience they are looking for, and what classes they currently need. Your journey to the next level of gameplay is a just a little research away. Stay up to date on resto druids, and if competitive raiding sounds like it’s for you, best of luck on the start of your journey.

Posted in Druid - General, Written By Shakk

Repost: Talent points: When more isn’t better

Remember back in Wrath of the Lich King (not that long ago), when we had these hugely cumbersome talent trees? You had to invest 5 points in things that you get for 1 or 2 points now. New players looked at the giant web of 1% increases to abilities, and talents buffing abilities you didn’t normally even use (ie. Improved faerie fire for moonkin was a source of constant frustration for the druid community for a long time). You spent talent points on buffs and debuffs that benefited your raid, so everyone spent 2 of those talent points improving Mark of the Wild (we spent 5 points on improved MOTW back in Vanilla & TBC). As a reminder of how daunting those talent trees used to be, lets take a look at a picture of the WOTLK talent calculator:


Why am I showing this to you? Well, lets take a look at our very recent history. In this case, the final talent point in a tree is 51 points deep. For Cataclysm, rather than making the talent trees 56 points deep (and then 61 in MoP), they shrunk the talent trees for  Cataclysm. This streamlining got rid of a lot of talent point sinks (no more Improved Mark of the Wild), and reduced the point cost of a lot of talents (ie. Cataclysm’s tree has mostly 1 to 3 point investments). Cataclysm also constrained you to only being able to put points in one tree until you hit the end, to stop the endless cycle of trying to create ultimate hybrid builds by investing points split more evenly between two trees (ie. the “restokin” specs this blog was named after).

As someone who maintains a leveling guide for WOW, I often interact with new players to the game who are first trying to navigate the druid class and figure out how to spend their talents. Talent trees largely have a “right” and “wrong” answer. For a restoration druid at level 85, Wild Growth is NOT optional, it’s NOT a choice. It is something you HAVE to take or you will fail at being a restoration druid. What is the difference between automatically receiving Wild Growth as you level and placing a talent point in Wild Growth? Well, really absolutely nothing. The only real decisions you get to make are for talents that increase your damage/healing/survivability/utility by leess than .05%, as those end up being non-mandatory talents, and when you run out of “mandatory” talents, you are free to pick through whatever unhelpful dredges are left in the talent tree to figure out which ones are the most likely to provide some benefit (and often times, people make the wrong choices even for “optional” talents).

However, Mists of Pandaria (and beyond) have the same problem of needing to give you more talent points and additional class progression in a way that has the ability to turn talents back into this sort of jumbled mess.More levels means more points, and that means more filler junk, more confusion,  more spreadsheets, and creates all sorts of balancing issues.

My recent adventures in Star Wars: The Old Republic has taught me one thing… That more talent points isn’t always better. The SWTOR talent system is modeled off of the Burning Crusade and WotLK style talent trees. When I started my first character, I had to figure out what talents I wanted to invest in. As a brand-new character, I looked at the talent tree on Torhed (wowhead’s SWTOR equivalent) and saw a bunch of talents that largely say: “Improves your Blah by 1%”. When you are new to a class or game, you don’t know what those abilities do, just that the talent says it makes the ability a tiny bit better. You often invest points in talents that you realize later you aren’t ever actually using. I ended up having to change my talent spec somewhere between level 20 and level 25 because I realized that my talents just weren’t fitting the rotation I was actually using in combat. The talents just didn’t seem to  be doing anything to help me, and getting to place a talent point in minor stat upgrades every level didn’t really have any real meaning at all – it just slowed down my leveling process by having to go out in search of trainers that could help me undo all my mistakes (and it took me half an hour to find a trainer that would unlearn my talents in SWTOR).

Another approach to “talents”: Diablo III
In addition, I spent some time playing with the Diablo III beta, and saw how their skill system ended up feeling a lot more meaningful than the talent choices I was making in SWTOR. In Diablo III, you choose what skills you want to use (and add runes to augment those abilities), and your choice of one ability prevents you from having access to others, as there is a limit on how many abilities you can have at one point in time. In Diablo III’s skill calculator, you can have up to 6 active skills (which you can change if you need to), and you get to choose 1 of 5 possible runestones to modify that ability, and you get 3 passive skills that also improve your effectiveness. In this case, there isn’t an obvious answer as to what “spec” you should be, since every Wizzard may end up with a slightly different arrangement of skills, runestones, and passive abilities. While you still have the opportunity of making bad choices, you do get the ability to make your character’s build much different from other people and it allows for much more variety.

Based on all of this, I decided that I am all in favor of Mists of Pandaria’s new talent trees.

The MoP system keeps the best part of WoW’s talent system for each class (ie. the core choice of being resto, moonkin, cat, or bear for druids), and borrowed some of the better choice mechanics from other games that force you to pick one at the exclusion of being able to have another ability instead. In MoP’s system, you don’t choose your core spells through this new talent tree. Instead, you choose utility abilities that will augment your character’s power (regardless of which specialization you choose). All those old “mandatory” talents become things you automatically pick up, which were never really about making choices in the first place.

Does the Pre-Beta version of the MoP talent calculator still have flaws? Sure. Some of the utility choices don’t really provide something every druid would want to use. However, I think those individual talents in the MoP system are a lot easier to fix than a plagued system that permeates too many video games. I welcome the simplification in terms of number of points, and I welcome the increased complexity of not always having a “right” answer. Sometimes, simple systems still have a lot of complexity. At the very least, the MoP talent system allows for a lot more growing room for future expansions.

Posted in Druid - General, Feral Bear tanking, Feral DPS Cat, Moonkin Balance DPS, Restoration Healing Trees, Written By Lissanna


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