Posted Sun, Jul 03, 2011 by Xerin
Combat or learning how to play a Druid depends purely on the specialization and, more importantly, which form you currently are in. Druids operate much differently from other classes in that many of their abilities are locked to “forms.” Shapeshifting is an intricate part of the Druid’s life and mastering will turn a good Druid player into an excellent Druid player.
How do you play a Druid?
The first thing to do is to go over the basics, which includes what each form is. Once you have that basic information down you can understand a bit more.
There are four primary specializations for a Druid. They are Tanking (Bear), Healing (Restoration), Melee (Cat), and Magic (Balance). Druids are capable of filling every single role out there depending on how they spend their talent points. This means that each specialization plays drastically different than the other ones.
However, the general idea behind tanking, healing, and doing damage applies. That’s why if you’re looking for ways to beef up your DPS, soak up more damage, or heal better then look at our specialized guides for Healing, Tanking, and DPS.
The first of the two feral forms is Cat Form. In Cat Form you switch from your normal humanoid state into a cat, which replaces your mana bar with an energy bar (similar to a Rogue). All attacks now cost energy, which regenerates at the rate of 10 energy per second (the energy bar is always at 100). It also prevents Polymorph and allows access to cat like abilities. You also turn your Agility into Attack Power, which is important for damage dealing reasons.
Attacks also generate combo points. You have a limit of 5 combo points and they’re used for special finisher moves that cost not only energy but use all of your available combo points. Their strength depends entirely on how many combo points you currently have and most finishers only work best at 5 combo points.
While leveling Cat Form is going to a staple for Feral Druids and until you hit max level you’re going to basically Mangle five times and then use Ferocious Strike. You can mix other abilities as you see fit, but you’ll honestly find that to be the best rotation for you.
At max level you’re going to see a generalized rotation of getting behind the enemy (in instances/raids) and making sure Rip, Mangle, and Rake are up at all times and Shred for combo points.
Cat Form Druids focus primarily on obtaining Agility because it not only gives attack power but also increases their critical strike rating.
Bear Form is the same as but different from Cat Form. Your mana bar becomes a rage bar and bear only abilities are accessible. In addition you gain more armor, 10% more stamina (more health), Agility turns into attack power, you become immune to Polymorph. Sounds pretty good right?
Bears focus primarily on tanking. To be a good tank you should read our ultimate tanking guide which goes over how to actually tank, where to put mobs, and other special techniques. As for Bears, it’s pretty simple actually. Keep Demoralizing Roar up, use Mangle when you can, make sure Lacerate is always up, and Maul/Thrash whenever you have the Rage to. You’ll keep threat most of the time.
Don’t have those abilities? Don’t sweat it, just Maul the enemies and most of the time they’ll come running to fight you.
Bear Form Druids focus primarily on Stamina, increasing their health pool to take more hits.
Balance Druids get Moonkin Form which gives them 10% more damage, 15% damage reduction, and increases the party/raid’s spell haste by 5%. Additionally, Druids who specialize into Balance gain something called the “Eclipse Bar.” As you use your abilities the bar will either move toward the Solar Eclipse or Lunar Eclipse. This makes your rotation super simple at most levels.
Basically, cast Wrath until you gain Lunar Eclipse, then cast Starfire until you get Solar Eclipse, and then repeat. Keep Insect Swarm up at all times, although when in solo PvE don’t worry about if you kill enemies before it is too effective.
Balance Druids primarily focus on Intellect for more mana and spellpower.
Restoration’s form, Tree Form, is actually a cooldown ability that gives you more healing and changes your spells to make them more effective. It should be used anytime you need to increase your healing throughput. Don’t know what that means? Check out our Ultimate Healing Guide.
Restoration focuses primarily on healing groups, so don’t specialize into this to roam around solo. Healing as a Druid is quite simple. Rejuvenation is your HoT and should be generally reserved for the tank. Wild Growth is the AoE healing spell that’s extremely effective and good for healing the entire group. Lifebloom is a really efficient heal on the tank and can let you focus on healing others while he’s taking damage.
As for casted heals, Regrowth is the emergency heal whenever someone is taking a ton of damage and you need to get a heal off to save them. Nourish is the most efficient heal mana wise while Healing Touch is the inefficient large heal.
Swiftmend is a cooldown that heals a ton, use it frequently to pull someone’s health up.
The different forms work outside of their specializations as well. For instance, you can switch into any form to avoid Polymorph. Bear Form can be used by anyone as a way to soak up more damage and avoid death while Cat Form provides a sprint to any race. Healing Spells are disabled in most forms, so going into your “caster form” and healing can save yourself or reduce downtime while soloing.