Druids – A Brief Introduction


If you’re here, you’re thinking about starting up a druid in World of Warcraft. That’s an excellent choice! (Admittedly, I’m biased.) On this page, I’ve got a brief introduction into, well, playing a druid. If you’re looking for more detail on a certain druid specialization, I’ve got separate guides for those, which will follow shortly.

What’s a Druid, anyway?

Well, in real life, druids were a religious group that existed in Britain over 2000 years ago. In WoW, though, druids are those who seek to preserve and protect natural life; from their studies, they learn how to draw on nature’s power to perform many great feats. Druids are most iconic for their shapeshifting abilities, which are unmatched. (See this excellent wowpedia  article for more about druid lore and story; the rest of this page will focus on gameplay elements.)

So, what’s this shapeshifting thing?

Druids have several animal forms they can assume at will in order to accomplish their goals. There are six forms that are open to all specializations: BearCatStag/CheetahSeal/OrcaBird, and Treant. (Two of those have options via glyphs, hence the slash.) Two more are open to certain specializations (Tree of LifeMoonkin/Astral), which gives us over 10 different options for “Poof! Now I’m a …”

Whoa, wait. Specializations?

At level 10, each character class must pick a specialization, or subclass. This choice determines what role your character will play in group combat (healing, tanking, ranged damage or melee damage) as well as what abilities are available to you. Druids have four specialization options:

  • Balance: Uses a mix of Arcane and Nature magic to destroy foes from a distance. Also known as “moonkin,” which is their iconic form. Ranged damage spellcaster.
  • Feral: Becomes a panther or lion (depending on race) to destroy foes at close range. Often called simply “cat spec.” Melee damage dealer.
  • Guardian: Becomes a large bear to absorb enemy attacks and protect others. New in Mists of Pandaria (previously, both roles were integrated into Feral). Melee tank.
  • Restoration: Uses Nature spells to heal friends. Focuses primarily on heal-over-time spells. Can temporarily assume the form of an ancient (large tree-like being) for increased healing potential. Prior to Cataclysm, healed permanently from a treant form.

Druids are the only class in the game to have four specialization options, and are thus the only class that can perform any of the game’s four roles. (All other classes have three specializations, and vary in which roles they can perform.)

Are Druids good?

Man, that’s a loaded question. :) Tell you what: I’ll do a quick list of the things I find awesome about Druids that keep me coming back.

  • I’ve mentioned it already, but shapeshifting is awesome. My 4-year-old loves it. “Be a cat, Daddy! Now be a bear! Go scare the monsters, Daddy!” (Yeah, I don’t get a lot of actual playing done when he’s sitting with me, but it’s cool.)
  • Flight Form. All other classes have to buy a mount, and wait 1.5 seconds every time they want to start riding. Druids? Click and go. More importantly, that means you can mount while moving…so you can jump off a cliff, plummet to the ground, and shift into your flight form right before going splat. Or, you can fly over a target, go bear or cat, and charge them from midair. It’s fun. :)
  • There’s a whole zone dedicated to druids called Moonglade. Everybody can visit, but druids can teleport there at any time for free.
  • Disentanglement (even though it’s not called that anymore). If you get hit with an effect that slows you or stops you, you can shapeshift out of it. “Can’t catch me…”
  • Since your character can perform all the different roles, you never have to worry about switching to a different character if you want to do something else. You may not even need to acquire much new gear; Balance and Restoration share 80% of their gear, as does Feral and Guardian.

Is Feral/Balance/etc. specialization good/strong/balanced?

In general, Blizzard has been very good at balancing classes so they perform reasonably equally.  Even though the balance changes a bit from patch to patch, things usually even out. Don’t worry about picking something that’s “weak” or “strong,” pick it because you like how it plays. (Yes, if you’re in the top 5-10% of competitive guilds out there, you start to identify definite strengths and weaknesses…but that doesn’t apply to most. It’s like me going out and playing golf; sure, I can intellectually understand that there’s a difference between a $200 driver and a $2000 driver, but I’m not at the level where I can tell a difference.) Instead of going into too much detail, I’m going to take each spec one at a time and discuss what I see as their strengths and weaknesses, compared to other classes that do that role.

Balance Balance druids will be walking around in Moonkin form most of the time, blasting things. Traditionally, they are very good in fights that have lots of enemy targets, due to strong damage-over-time spells that are easily cast on multiple foes. Unfortunately, they’re pretty immobile; they can do a bit of damage while on the move, but not much. A fire mage is probably the closet comparison.

Feral This is my favorite spec (as you’ve seen, the majority of the site’s old content is feral-related), so I’m probably a little biased. Ferals are the  opposite of moonkin, almost; they’re very mobile, and excel at doing damage to a single-target, even if the target is moving. They struggle at damaging multiple targets that aren’t grouped closely together. They are modeled after rogues, but they have far fewer abilities to use from stealth and interact with it much less.

Guardian Guardian bears are modeled after warrior tanks, but very loosely. Guardians excel at, well, taking damage; they have the highest armor of any spec in the game. To compensate for that, however, they have no secondary mitigation; they don’t block (like paladins or warriors) or self heal/shield (like death knights). As a consequence, Guardian ends up being reasonably simple to play, compared to a warrior which is more technical.

Restoration Restoration druids are the king of the healing-over-time (aka HOT or HoT) spell. This means restoration druids excel at dealing with consistent enemy damage, and struggle somewhat with burst damage. Because so many of restoration’s spells are instant-cast, they are the most mobile healer class. Prior to the Cataclysm expansion, restoration druids had a Tree of Life form that they healed in permanently; since then, tree form has become a form they can temporarily assume when they need stronger healing.  (This was very controversial.)

What are some reasons NOT to play a druid?

In the interest of fairness,  druids aren’t right for everyone.

  • No gear If you’re shapeshifted, you can’t see all the cool stuff you’ve acquired, or your spiffy transmogrification (AKA costume) set, etc. (Except for Restoration.)  To some people, this isn’t a big deal; to others, it’s gamebreaking.
  • Sometimes have to do it all While this isn’t as large an issue as it was in the past, Druids are still the most hybrid class in the game. That means if your group or raid makeup changes and you need an additional tank/healer/DPS, you’re most likely to be the one who’s asked to switch to an alternate role. If you like being a jack-of-all-trades, that makes you feel wanted and needed; if you prefer sticking to a single thing, that makes you feel jerked around. Now that Guardian and Feral are split into separate specs, this is less likely to occur, but it’s still a possibility.
  • Fewer tools in the toolbox I already briefly mentioned this, but feral druids are patterned after rogues, while guardian druids are patterned after warriors. Unlike rogues and warriors, though, ferals and guardians have a few less main buttons to hit. That doesn’t make them worse; I find it actually makes them somewhat easier to play, but others disagree.
  • Animal jokes This is pretty petty, but I had a friend who was really bothered by it. If you play Feral, you’ll get cat jokes; Balance, chicken jokes; etc. It goes with the territory.

What races can druids play as?

Traditionally, druids could only be Night Elves (for the Alliance) or Tauren (for the Horde). In the Cataclysm expansion, that choice was expanded to include Worgen (Alliance) and Trolls (Horde). At only four races, druids have the smallest set of race options available to them of any class.

What stats do druids prefer?

Well, it depends on your spec. Feral and Guardian druids’ primary stat is agility, which grants dodge, attack power, and critical strike chance. After that, Guardians will look for stamina, which increases their health, and dodge rating, who increases their dodge, naturally enough. Ferals will look for hit and expertise, which decreases their chance to miss a target or have the target parry/dodge an attack.

Conversely, Balance and Restoration druids’ primary stat is intellect, which increases the power of their spells. After that, they will look for spirit, which increases the size of their mana pool and (for Balance) decreases their chance to miss a target.

(For more specific information on stats, see the individual spec guides.)

What weapons and armor do druids use?

For weapons, druids can wield either two-handed staves, maces, or polearms, or a one-handed dagger, mace or fist weapon combined with an off-hand item (no shields). While no specialization actually uses the weapon visually, the stat bonuses on it are figured into your abilities. For armor, druids are intended to wear leather. A leveling druid might wear a few pieces of cloth armor if they haven’t been lucky with drops, but that’s about it.

Well, that about wraps it up for introductory material. As always, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @alarondruid for news and updates!

(All images from the WoW TCG.)

 Posted by at 1:02 am

  1,422 Responses to “Druids – A Brief Introduction”

  1. Looking good Alaron. This is a very good high level intro for folks who are likely not playing a druid. Not exactly sure what the purpose of the post or the audience, but it’s a very good all around synopsis. Adi

  2. This is a waste of space on the internet GRATS!

  3. I came here expecting an outdated druid guide for cata that someone just got around to making. I was plesantly surprised to see such a well written guide when I clicked that Reddit link. Loved the guide (although I might be biased, being feral and all) very helpful for new druids. Hopefully it gets seen often!

  4. Great guide. But I did notice under the weapons and armour section you have not mentioned the type of armour druids can wear. Not sure if this was intentional or not.

    Can’t wait for the spec specific guides :)

  5. Overall, good job. I personally would take out the sections on stats and armor. I think for people who just want an overview that information is too technical.

    Second, I’d move the part about Druids being the only class in the game that can play all four roles to the beginning of the section.

    “Prior to the Cataclysm expansion, restoration druids had a Tree of Life form that they healed in permanently…” This is true but perhaps misleading. In Vanilla there was no ToL form at all. I don’t remember the exact patch it was added but it hasn’t always been in the game.

  6. Don’t listen to all these knuckle heads and their criticisms. This is a great guide. Nothing needs to be added and nothing in it needs to change.

  7. Thank you for posting a great introductory guide. I’ve been playing since Vanilla and recently just started a Druid I made a long time ago and this really helped me pick a spec.

  8. This makes a fantastic Guide. For YEARS (like six of them) my main has been my Holy Priest. Had I known then what I know now, it would have been Druid all the way.

  9. Good synopsis, One thing that is *AWESOME* about Druids that you may consider including is that at lvl 60 and higher (i.e. with flight form) they are the best class for gathering professions. You can fly from herb to herb w/o leaving flight form, and if the corpse are there for you to skin, the same for skinning. This also helps with some other mechanics like gathering items for quests so that you can complete it more quickly and perhaps avoid confrontations when you’re on the clock.

    Heck I wrote a whole guide on how to use a druid to level a guild more quickly, based on this b/c it can be a gamechanger for gathering:

  10. Thanks for every other magnificent article. The place else could anybody get that kind of information in such a perfect method of writing? I’ve a presentation subsequent week, and I’m at the search for such information.

  11. 816184 234286Ive applied the valuable points from this page and I can undoubtedly tell that it gives a great deal of assistance with my present jobs. I would be really pleased to keep finding back in this web page. Thank you. 542718

  12. 453064 553057Some times its a discomfort in the ass to read what weblog owners wrote but this website is really user pleasant! . 239985

  13. 774597 765400That being said by use it all, planet is actually restored slightly far more. This situation in addition will this certain Skin tightening and starting to be moved and into the mood of these producing activities. every day deal livingsocial discount baltimore washington 929993

  14. 80711 761483I like this web site quite much so much superb info . 543997

  15. Druids – A Brief Introduction – The Fluid Druid
    yfkthdhxi http://www.g4d323q03pf39c2t43yqr02bga4f2c5ss.org/

  16. Recently, the Fansided to knight main rotation player in the first two rounds of the playoffs, the performance of the Owen only C +, love there is only a B.
    adidas pure boost

  17. 482411 378324Wonderful artical, I unfortunately had some problems printing this artcle out, The print formating looks just a little screwed over, something you might want to look into. 473469

  18. What needs fixing: Upgrades at WR, depth at RB, help on the O-line.
    China Soccer Jerseys

  19. Carey – Owen about injury of varese, said it happened out how knight players want to play games.”I was about to enter a 5 on 5 game, but after three seconds, varese is injured
    kevin durant jersey

  20. Yesterday, the wall on the right side 45 live a miserable life in the three points must win.The shooting location is Owen puts up the location of the many times.Today was asked Owen saw wall dead there is what feeling
    kyrie 4

  21. With three points to beat John wall, the day before yesterday the wizards will competition into the tiebreak wars, 8:00 tomorrow the wizards will be tie-break at Celtic and rival.
    nmd human race

  22. For Jordan and gregg popovich comments James never hit back, but just yesterday in the knight’s basketball stadium set aside a James training video, far look like illusions emerged both Owen, a carefully look just know is James
    lebron james jersey

  23. Layup is a very basic basketball skills maybe everyone layup but there is a way of layup is not everyone that is wrong step layup.

  24. Draft of the same year on the bottom rookie will be what?In general the draft should be able to blow the other party, who would have thought them took Owen on the 60th pick small Thomas in the same year, he turned out to be in the position of the challenger?
    mizuno running shoes

  25. Draft of the same year on the bottom rookie will be what?In general the draft should be able to blow the other party, who would have thought them took Owen on the 60th pick small Thomas in the same year, he turned out to be in the position of the challenger?
    asics shoes

  26. I am constantly browsing online for ideas that can facilitate me. Thanks!

  27. Thanks for sharing your ideas. The first thing is that pupils have a solution between fed student loan plus a private education loan where it’s easier to go for student loan debt consolidation than over the federal student loan.

  28. I like the helpful info you provide in your articles. I’ll bookmark your blog and test again here regularly. I am rather certain I will be told lots of new stuff right here! Best of luck for the following!

  29. In this case, the class name specifies a font, Ubuntu Mono.
    Wholesale Nike NFL Jerseys

  30. Carey – Owen about injury of varese, said it happened out how knight players want to play games.”I was about to enter a 5 on 5 game, but after three seconds, varese is injured
    ugg 5815

  31. Since we have deemed our home page to be pretty important, but not as important as our products page we will use a value of 0.
    Supply MLB Jerseys China

  32. You got a very wonderful website, Gladiola I discovered it through yahoo.

  33. Attractive portion of content. I just stumbled upon your site and in accession capital to say that I acquire actually loved account your blog posts. Anyway I will be subscribing in your feeds and even I achievement you access consistently rapidly.

  34. Heya i am for the first time here. I came across this board and I to find It truly helpful & it helped me out a lot. I am hoping to give something back and aid others like you helped me.

  35. I haven’t checked in here for some time since I thought it was getting boring, but the last several posts are great quality so I guess I will add you back to my everyday bloglist. You deserve it my friend :)

  36. But wanna comment that you have a very decent internet site, I love the style it actually stands out.

  37. They lost trusted cornerback depth with Tarell Brown and Carlos Rogers left.
    China Jerseys Cheap

  38. I don’t normally comment but I gotta state regards for the post on this amazing one :D.

  39. I truly enjoy looking through on this internet site, it holds excellent blog posts.

  40. As a Newbie, I am always searching online for articles that can aid me. Thank you

  41. I have been checking out many of your stories and i must say pretty good stuff. I will definitely bookmark your website.

  42. Very interesting details you have observed, regards for putting up.

  43. of course like your web site however you have to check the spelling on quite a few of your posts. Many of them are rife with spelling issues and I find it very bothersome to inform the truth then again I will definitely come again again.

  44. My husband and i got now relieved that Raymond could round up his inquiry via the ideas he was given out of the site. It’s not at all simplistic to simply happen to be offering strategies which usually many people could have been making money from. We really do understand we have got you to give thanks to for that. All the illustrations you have made, the simple site menu, the relationships you help to foster – it’s mostly exceptional, and it’s really aiding our son in addition to the family reason why that matter is pleasurable, and that is especially vital. Thanks for everything!

  45. Thank you sharing these types of wonderful posts. In addition, the ideal travel and also medical insurance system can often eliminate those worries that come with traveling abroad. A new medical crisis can rapidly become expensive and that’s absolute to quickly decide to put a financial problem on the family’s finances. Putting in place the best travel insurance offer prior to leaving is worth the time and effort. Thank you

  46. Ja’Wuan James, T, Miami Dolphins James played a ton of snaps this season but struggled mightily once he was switched to the left side.
    China Jerseys

  47. He had running ability, he was good-looking.
    Jerseys From China

  48. Carey – Owen about injury of varese, said it happened out how knight players want to play games.”I was about to enter a 5 on 5 game, but after three seconds, varese is injured
    kyrie 1

  49. I also believe that mesothelioma is a exceptional form of cancer that is usually found in people previously subjected to asbestos. Cancerous tissue form within the mesothelium, which is a safety lining that covers most of the body’s areas. These cells typically form inside lining on the lungs, belly, or the sac that really encircles one’s heart. Thanks for revealing your ideas.

 Leave a Reply