Balance Druid Changes in Patch 5.0

 

You want to play, not read, so here’s a quick guide to what’s changed for balance druids in Patch 5.0! (First two sections are for all druids; scroll down for balance specifics.)

Changes for All Druids
  • Feral is no longer a tank/DPS spec. Feral is now solely melee DPS, and a new spec has been added for bear tanks, Guardian. Yes, that makes us the only class with 4 specs in the game, which means we are still the best class in the game. (I may be biased.)
  • Many abilities are now available only to certain specs. This is a good thing, as most of the off-spec abilities were pretty useless.
  • The old talent trees are gone! Rejoice. Instead, you now have six “tiers” of talent choices, with one choice (out of three options) every 15 levels. I’ll cover the major choices briefly below; see my Druid Talents page for more.
  • All the old Prime glyphs are gone. Now, there are just two tiers: Major and Minor. Glyphs are now much less important and are all mostly situational. Hit my Druid Glyphs page for a full list.
  • Relics and head enchants are gone.
  • You can AoE loot now. Have fun storming the (Molten Core/Black Temple/old raid of choice)!
  • Druids get a new spell called Symbiosis at level 87 that lets you link with a group/raidmate, giving both you and them a new ability. You won’t get this until you can start leveling in Mists, but you might want to read up on it now; there’s a LOT of possible combos.
  • Druids get a new spell called Symbiosis at level 87 that lets you link with a group/raidmate, giving both you and them a new ability. You won’t get this until you can start leveling in Mists, but you might want to read up on it now; there’s a LOT of possible combos.
  • Rebirth now returns a player to 60% life instead of 20%, making the glyph much less mandatory.

New Talents
  • Level 15: Movement talents, one of Feline SwiftnessDisplacer Beast, or Wild Charge. Feline Swiftness grants you all-around movement speed, while Wild Charge gives you a quick movement ability (actual ability varies by form, check the comments on wowhead). Both are good choices. Displacer Beast is terrible.
  • Level 30: Self-healing talents, one of Nature’s SwiftnessRenewal, or Cenarion Ward. NS is great; lets you use free instant heals or rezzes without leaving form with NS + Healing Touch or NS + Rebirth. Renewal’s a simple option; 30% self-heal every 2 min. CW is a bit too fiddly for most specs but is good for leveling. None of these choices are bad, really.
  • Level 45: Crowd control talents, one of Faerie SwarmMass Entanglement, or Typhoon. None really stand out; feral/guardian will gravitate away from Faerie Swarm, since they have Infected Wounds still.
  • Level 60: DPS-increasing talents, one of Soul of the ForestIncarnation, and Force of Nature. Force of Nature is the old balance treants on a 1m CD that also stun (feral), taunt (guardian), heal (resto) or root (balance) their target; great for PvP, and reasonable damage. SOTF is a passive DPS increase for Feral/Balance, a passive rage increase for Guardian, and an odd haste buff for Resto. Pretty good for all but Resto, IMO. Finally, Incarnation is a burst cooldown that gives you a sweet armored form and some extra damage or healing. It’s likely the best option for max dps but takes some management.
  • Level 75: Crowd control talents again, one of Disorienting RoarUrsol’s Vortex, or Mighty Bash. UV sounds cool, but isn’t that effective in practice; just pick Bash. (Yes, it’s the old bear bash, but now usable in any form, which makes it 100% more awesome.)
  • Level 90: Hybrid healing/damage talents, one of Heart of the WildDream of Cenarius, and Nature’s Vigil. HOTW is a passive buff that can also be activated to buff your non-spec forms; that bit’s not very effective. Take it for the passive buffs. DoC changes your rotation considerably for the damage classes; you’re now weaving Healing Touches in, so you generate some healing and hit a bit harder. Likely to end up as the best DPS option, but requires significant skill to maximise properly. Not very useful for the non-DPS specs.  Nature’s Vigil gives you yet another burst cooldown that also does some healing (or damage). Basically, it’s a choice between HOTW for passive buffs or NV for a burst ability, with balance/feral getting to mix things up with DoC to potentially squeeze out a bit higher DPS.

Balance-Specific Changes
New Mechanics
  • Moonfire and Sunfire are now completely separate DoTs that you can keep up at the same time.
  • In a Lunar Eclipse, Hurricane becomes Astral Storm, and entering a Lunar Eclipse resets the Starfall CD.
  • Lunar Shower, which used to be a talent, is now a passive ability.
  • The Faerie Fire debuff now automatically stacks three times (yay) but only lasts 30 seconds (boo). If you need to maintain this for your raid, get used to hitting a keybind for it when you have a free GCD.
New/Removed Abilities
  • Insect Swarm is gone, effectively replaced by Sunfire.
  • Astral Communion lets you charge your Eclipse bar when out of combat.
  • Celestial Alignment is a new cooldown that helps combat Balance’s lack of burst. When cast, it grants you the damage bonuses of both Lunar and Solar Eclipses, and causes Moonfire to automatically apply Sunfire. Using this resets your eclipse energy to 0 and stops you from gaining any energy while it’s up.
  • Might of Ursoc is a new survivability cooldown that increases your health by 30% for 20 sec. Unfortunately, using it activates bear form and leaving bear form causes it to drop off. This may or may not be intended, but it’s of questionably utility at the moment.
Rotation Basics
Pretty much the same as from Cataclysm.
  • Use Astral Communion prefight to get near an Eclipse.
  • Keep both DoTs up at all times and Starfall on cooldown.
  • Use Starsurge on cooldown or when it procs. Otherwise, use Wrath or Starfire to push to your next Eclipse.
  • Use your DPS cooldowns ASAP or when the fight requires. Celestial Alignment should be used immediately after you exit an Eclipse.

That should get you started; if you have any questions, let me know. I plan to have a full MoP guide for balance up sometime in the next month, so subscribe to my RSS feed or follow me on Twitter and I’ll let you know when it drops!

 Posted by at 4:25 pm

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