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Druids have four main 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.
- Shapeshifting can release you from certain types of movement impairment.
- Shifting out of a form is not a spell, nor an action, and can be done anytime (except when you are under some kind of 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 an instant ability, so it can be used during movement. This is useful when falling to switch to cat form to absorb 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 a priest's Mind Control spell. Shifting or unshifting while the spell is being cast upon you will cause it to fail as you are no longer a valid target, but unshifting 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).
- Similarly in Tree of Life Form you are an elemental and are vulnerable to Banish. Moonkin Form is humanoid, just like your caster form, and confers no extra vulnerabilities or immunities, except the immunity to polymorph that all shapes share.
- 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 health and mana. 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, but can also be cast in feral forms or when escaping for the damage reduction.
Usually you will be assigned a certain role in a group. If not, it is your job to decide how to best aid your group. But even when you are the main tank keep an eye open for an emergency that requires your other abilities.
Historically, there was no place for non-Resto druids in end-game raiding. Thankfully, The Burning Crusade added a wide range of possibilities for different specs. Today, druids in the top-tier instances will often be called upon as healers, tanks, or DPS. Ultimately, the choice of build is yours.
A large part of a druid's raid utility is their adaptability. While a druid may not always be called upon as a primary tank, or damage-dealer, the joy of a druid is that in one raid you may be called on to DPS on one boss, Heal on another, and Main Tank on a third. If you go to an instance with a group or raid, you should bring all of your gear so you can switch roles depending on the raid's needs.
Druids also possess 3 highly desired abilities:
- Innervate can regenerate mana for yourself or a party member quickly during a long fight.
- Mark of the Wild is among the best buffs in the game.
- Resurrection mid-fight, while other classes can only resurrect outside of combat.
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 should do), 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) or Thunder Bluff (Horde) 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.
Once you reach Outland, it is better to travel to Shattrath City and place your hearthstone in one of the inns there. In the center of the city you will find portals to all major cities in Kalimdor and Eastern Kingdoms. There is a flight path directly from the Dark Portal to Shattrath when you first come though the portal.
Once you reach Northrend, it is better to set your hearthstone to one of the inns in Dalaran. You can reach all the major cities of Eastern Kingdoms, Kalimdor and Shattrath City from the portals at Silver Enclave (for Alliance) or at Sunreaver's Sanctuary (for Horde).
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.
- Main article: Druid PvP guide
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, Bash and Dash similarly useful.
Know whether your opponent is melee or ranged. If melee, such as Warriors and Paladins, you can toy with them with roots and ranged spells. If ranged, like spell casters and Hunters, cast Stomp, Moonfire, and then Entangling Roots. When your opponent has a few hits on you, Stomp if you have one left, Regrowth, Moonfire, switch to Bear form, profit.
Spells and tactics
- Rooting: Entangling Root is essential both for keeping melee opponents at bay and making casters stay put so that you can attack them in Bear or Cat form. 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 (or Feral Swiftness) 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 shapeshifted into any form except Moonkin Form/Tree Form. 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, it should never be used around an enemy Priest, Shaman, or Felhunter, as having it dispelled is incredibly frustrating and wastes the six minute 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 (no offense DPSers, there's a reason enemies always go for healers first). If the healer notices where the innervates are originating from, you may even notice a few extra heals coming your way.
- 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. The rogue's Blind is now considered a physical ability and can no longer be removed by poison cleansing effects.
- Buff Removal: 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 a RAWRbomb, use flight form, fly over your unaware target, change to bear form and Feral Charge to the player who stands on the ground. This will give you a valuable surprise effect, because you fell from nowhere. Charging just before you hit the ground will remove the falling damage, so that the RAWRbomber will not die due to fall damage.
NOTE: Executing a RAWRbomb requires perfect timing. If timed wrong, it will turn from deadly surprise attack to miserable failure; RAWRsplat.
- Main article: Druid tactics/Balance
- Main article: Druid tactics/Feral
- Main article: Druid tactics/Restoration