Updated for patch 5.2 & 5.3
As Balance your number 1 job is ranged damage. This page focuses on just that, DPS in a raiding environment. If you’re looking for PvP or leveling info then see the links just below.
5.3 brought no real changes, other than Force of Nature now only summoning one minion. All the druid notes are here.
|This Balance Druid guide is primarily intended for maximizing PvE and Raid damage (DPS) at level 90. However, the same principals will still apply during the leveling process. If you’re looking for advice on leveling your Druid, check out our Druid Leveling Guide.
If you want the same in-game step by step leveling guide that we use to get to level 90 as fast as possible, take a look at our favorite in-game leveling guide.
Other Druid Guides:
Balance Druid Talents
Patch 5.2 & 5.3 updates for Druids are here and the notes below are updated appropriately.
Tier 1 has 3 mobility options, all useful in particular cases.
- Feline Swiftness offers us an ever useful speed increase, You don’t have to click it, you just have it. It’s the most generally useful of the talents in this tier.
- Displacer Beast is useful if you need something akin to a Blink+Sprint. There may be times when you will want this, bot the others are going to be much more useful overall.
- Wild Charge lets us leap back a decent distance, invariably helpful for avoiding various boss mechanics/abilities or just showing off. Much like the Hunter’s Disengage, it gets you out, right now. It does not stop you from jumping off a cliff, so be aware of surroundings.
Tier 2 has us choose between three talents focused on healing, something I try to avoid as a Boomkin.
- Nature’s Swiftness offers the greatest utility of this tier and lets us instantly throw out a heal or rebirth if necessary, and the cooldown is only 1 min. I recommend this choice for the variety of uses it has as compared to the other two options.
- Renewal is a good self-heal, but it has a 2 min cooldown and lacks the utility that Nature’s Swiftness offers.
- Cenarion Ward, like Nature’s Swiftness, lets you help out your teammates with a heal here and there when necessary. Cenarion Ward, unlike Nature’s Swiftness, is terrible. While improved in 5.2 (heals more,) it’s still a poor choice.
Tier 3 is about Crowd Control
- Faerie Swarm improves upon your Faerie Fire ability, which might be interesting if you actually used it with any frequency. Even in 5.2+, where it can snare more than one target, it’s not great.
- Mass Entanglement is an AoE Crowd Control that won’t work on a raid boss anyway. Potentially useful for adds. Could be very useful if all heck breaks loose and you need to nail the trash down.
- Typhoon knocks targets back, primarily useful for keeping them out of range of you and of any melee DPS you happen to be competing with on the DPS meters.
As none of these talents provides a particularly notable benefit for raiding, take whichever you least mind not using.
Tier 4 is for DPS
- Soul of the Forest grants us a consistent bonus to our Solar and Lunar energy generation, making it easier to bounce from one eclipse to another. Improved in 5.2.
- Incarnation is a DPS cooldown only effective if used while in an Eclipse state. This is the best overall DPS choice is my recommended choice although Soul of the Forest is also quite good.
- Force of Nature summons a treant, letting you re-enact Lord of the Rings. Best used in combination with the new talent swapping system to switch to something more useful before the fight actually starts. Buffed in 5.2 and changed to one treat in 5.3, so might actually be worth experimenting with.
Tier 5 is more Crowd Control
- Disorienting Roar isn’t worth taking most of the time given the limited range it has.
- Ursol’s Vortex is useful for controlling targets and my recommended choice as it can be conjured at a distance.
- Mighty Bash stuns a target, which is good, but requires you be in melee range, which is bad.
- Heart of the Wild - For most situations this is the best pick, since it’s a nice Int boost at all times. Overall it’s a bigger DPS add than the others and can be used for emergency heals. The 6 min CD makes Nature’s Vigil (90 second CD) worth considering.
- Dream of Cenarius - You’re not a primary healer, and probably not a secondary one, so this talent has less value.
- Nature’s Vigil - Increases overall damage & Healing by a bit (10%.) Your single target damage will add some healing to your allies. Damage buff and the cooldown were both cut in half in 5.2, so the CD is now 90 seconds compared to Heart of the Wild‘s 6 minutes. If you’re good at managing your cooldowns then this will be a good pick.
These are taken with the idea that your main purpose is damage, not healing. None are required. Use them depending on your needs of the situation. As with the Talents, your glyphs can be changed anytime, with one Tome of the Clear Mind per glyph.
- Glyph of Stampeding Roar is a useful bonus to the Stampeding Roar ability, beneficial on a raid level and best paired with Glyph of Stampede. Especially useful when quick movement is necessary.
- Glyph of Stampede makes Stampeding Roar useable in all forms.
- Glyph of the Moonbeast allows the use of Rebirth, Tranquility, Healing Touch and Rejuvenation without leaving Moonkin Form.
- Glyph of Rebirth – Bring players back at 100%, rather than 60%. Save a bit of healer mana.
- Glyph of Omens – Various abilities can grant Solar or Lunar energy.
Minors are generally cosmetic, but a couple have some minor utility.
- Glyph of Grace – Reduces falling damage in any form.
- Glyph of the Stag – Take a buddy with you.
- Glyph of Aquatic Form – Faster swim speed.
Balance Stat Priorities
- Primary: Intellect > Spellpower
- Secondary: Hit Rating to 15% (combined Hit and Expertise and Spirit) > Critical > Haste
- Weaker: Mastery
- Useless: Excess Hit/Expertise. The only possible value here is to reforge the excess into something else.
Int is your #1 stat and it applies to your damage and a bit of Crit. It does not add to your manapool. Int is much better than any other stat.
Spellpower is only available on certain items, but is close to Int in value.
Hit: Hit and Expertise both add to your Spell Hit rating as does Spirit, via your Balance of Power ability. You can’t damage what you can’t hit, so your Spell Hit is the most valuable of the secondary stats.
Haste speeds up your stuff and has great value when you can hit a breakpoint, such as when you get an extra tick off a heal or DoT spell. It’s much less useful if you’re not at a breakpoint. Go here if you want to work towards those breakpoints, otherwise just reforge to Hit, Spirit, or Crit.
Mastery and excess Haste are pretty weak.
Reforging: Make sure you have your Hit rating. Next check your mana usage:
- If you already have Hit on a piece of gear you can reforge the second stat to Expertise and gain more Spell Hit.
- Mana problems? Reforge weakest available stat to Spirit, note that this will affect your Spell Hit rating.
- No Mana or Hit problems? Go for Crit after you have your Spell Hit.
In-Depth Rotation Guide
Balance druids manage a ‘Balance’ power resource as part of maximizing their DPS. Depending on which spell you use your bar will charge towards one of two potential Eclipse effects, Lunar and Solar. Combined with the neutral state, this makes for three potential effects your Balance power can have on your spell casting.
- Wrath causes your bar to charge towards a Lunar Eclipse while Starfire generates Solar Energy. Starsurge will cause your bar to move in whichever direction it is already moving.
- Prior to a fight you can use Astral Communion to determine which Eclipse state you wish to start the battle in as it allows you to charge your Balance bar.
When in the neutral state you can use either Starfire or Wrath to determine which Eclipse state you will begin moving towards. Entering an Eclipse state grants you a 15% spell haste for 15 seconds as well as restores 35% of your maximum mana. The Eclipse state will end when your bar returns to the center, allowing you to begin charging your bar once more towards another Eclipse.
Your first priority is applying Moonfire and Sunfire to your target. It’s important to note that the duration of Moonfire is extended by 2 seconds every time you critically strike with Starfire while Sunfire‘s duration is extended by 2 seconds when you critically hit with Wrath. Starsurge critical strikes will extend the duration of both Moonfire and Sunfire by 2 seconds.
When entering an Eclipse state re-apply whichever DoT will benefit from the Eclipse effect. The DoT not benefiting from your current Eclipse should only be refreshed when it’s about to expire. Since your DoTs also benefit from other buffs, remember to also re-apply them when benefiting from other damage or haste increasing effects such as Celestial Alignment.
- Celestial Alignment should be used as often as possible throughout a fight. Celestial Alignment grants you the effects of both the Lunar and Solar Eclipse simultaneously, increasing the damage done by your Arcane and Nature spells by 35%. While Celestial Alignment is active applying Moonfire to a target will also apply the damage effect of Sunfire. Activating Celestial Alignment consumes all Solar and Lunar energy and prevents the generation of either for the duration of the effect.
- Starsurge should be used on cooldown, as should be Starfall. Starfall‘s cooldown will be reset every time you enter a Lunar Eclipse.
- Using Wrath to trigger Lunar Eclipse and Starfire to trigger Solar Eclipse you will effectively be yo-yoing your Power Bar to obtain maximum DPS.
In AoE encounters it’s important to use Wild Mushroom as often as possible, planting the maximum possible of three mushrooms and then detonating them. You should still maintain your DoT’s, this time on all enemies.
Starfall should still be used whenever possible.
Tier 4 Talented Abilities:
The only relevant talented ability is Incarnation: Chosen of Elune. This ability, like Celestial Alignment, should be used as often as possible, however Incarnation only benefits you while in an Eclipse state or while Celestial Alignment is active, therefore it shouldn’t be used carelessly.
As Incarnation has a longer duration than both a single Eclipse state and Celestial Alignment, it’s advised that you chain the two together by triggering Incarnation as you enter an Eclipse state and then activate Celestial Alignment the instant you exist the Eclipse state to obtain the maximum benefit from Incarnation’s effect.
Gems for the Balance Druid
For Balance Druids your stats are closer in value to each other than they are in some other classes. While Int is the best stat it isn’t best by a big margin. This means that you will want to match socket bonuses.
If the socket bonus is for Int or Crit, then matching is definitely recommended.
- Meta: Either gem, depending on your mana needs.
- Red: Int
- Yellow: Use the Orange gems: Potent Vermilion Onyx or Reckless Vermilion Onyx
- Blue: Either a Blue or Purple gem, depending on your Spirit needs.
|Meta||Burning Primal Diamond: +216 Int & 3% Increased Crit Effect
Revitalizing Primal Diamond: +432 Spirit & 3% Increased Crit Effect
|Red||Brilliant Serpent’s Eye: 320 Int, self-only Jewelcrafting gem
Brilliant Primordial Ruby: 160 Int
|Yellow||Quick Sun’s Radiance: +320 Haste
Smooth Sun’s Radiance: +320 Crit
|Blue||Sparkling River’s Heart: +320 Spirit|
|Orange||Potent Vermilion Onyx: +80 Int & +160 Crit
Reckless Vermilion Onyx: 80 Int, 160 Haste
|Green||Energized Wild Jade: +160 Haste, +160 Spirit
|Purple||Purified Imperial Amethyst: +80 Int, +160 Spirit
Veiled Imperial Amethyst: 80 Int and 160 Hit
|Prismatic||Brilliant Primordial Ruby: 160 Int|
|Cogwheel||requires an engie helm, such as this.
Sparkling Tinker’s Gear: 600 Spirit
Quick Tinker’s Gear: 600 Haste
Smooth Tinker’s Gear: 600 Crit
Balance Druid Enchantments
As much as possible you will be enchanting for Int, then Spirit (depending on your mana use) and Crit.
Helm enchants are gone in Mists of Pandaria, shoulder enchants are handled by the Inscription profession.
Short on gold? If you want to buy the best enchants, fund all of your alts, donate to the guild, etc., but don’t have the cash, then see what that Blood Elf, just above, can do about about fixing your cash flow.
|Enchantments for the Balance|
|Weapon||Enchant Weapon – Jade Spirit: Sometimes increases Int by 1650, might increase Spirit if Mana is low. (usually expensive)
Enchant Weapon – Windsong: Sometimes add 1,500 Crit, Haste, or Mastery for 12 sec.
|Shoulders||Secret Crane Wing Inscription: – 520 Int and 100 Crit rating, Requires Inscription 550.
Greater Crane Wing Inscription: +200 Int and 100 Crit
|Cloak||Enchant Cloak – Superior Intellect: +180 Int
Lightweave Embroidery – chance for 2k Int for 15 sec, requires tailoring
|Chest||Enchant Chest – Glorious Stats: +80 to all stats|
|Bracers||Enchant Bracer – Super Intellect: +180 Int
Fur Lining increases Int by 500, requires leatherworking.
Socket Bracer – Pop in a gem, requires Blacksmithing 400
|Gloves||Enchant Gloves – Greater Haste: +170-Haste
Socket Gloves – Pop in a gem, requires Blacksmithing 400
|Belt||Livingsteel Belt Buckle: Gem slot for a nice Int gem|
|Leggings||Greater Pearlescent Spellthread: +285 Int and +165 Spirit|
|Boots||Enchant Boots – Greater Precison: +175 Hit rating
Enchant Boots – Pandaren’s Step: +140 Mastery, slight run speed increase.
|Rings||Enchant Ring – Greater Intellect: +160 Int, Requires Enchanting 550|
Druid Races for Balance
Before Cataclysm the choice of race for a Druid was a “difficult” one: Tauren or Night Elf? Now, there are four races. Cataclysm allowed the Worgen and Trolls to become Druids. Mists of Pandaria will make no changes to races or racial abilities and there will be no Pandaren Druids.
The difference between races is largely visual as opposed to bringing any real advantage to any particular race. Trolls might be the most generally useful, but pick the race that works best for you. But, if you want to be “efficient,” then here are the details for each race:
- War Stomp stuns nearby opponents
- Increased health (about 5%,) doesn’t seem to scale well at very high levels, but is still a plus.
- Good with Herbalism
- Resistant to Nature damage.
- Can periodically move quickly, which is useful.
- Increased crit chance is nice, since Crit is a decent stat for you.
- Increased skinning speed and skill
- Berserking increases attack and casting speed.
- Damage increased Vs beasts, all 5 million of them, which is nice while leveling and will have some use Vs beast mobs in dungeons and raids.
- Ranged weapon Expertise is a useless ability since you don’t use ranged weapons.
- Reduced duration of movement impariing effects, useful for most, but your shapeshift is a far superior “break free” ability.
- Night Elf
- Shadowmeld has situational use. You fade away, dropping aggro, but must remain stationary. Nice for those times when you need to drop aggro, right now.
- 2% dodge is a nice ability for bear tanks and cats, you have little use for it.
- Faster movement while stealthed is nice when prowling, but you waddle and don’t prowl.
- Resistance to Nature damage
Professions for the Balance Druid
All of the professions provide some benefit for any class/spec, though clearly some are better than others. Even the gathering professions have some value, especially Herballism with its 2,880 Haste, but you might be better served by using those to build a larger gold stash.
Most of the professions add an average of about 320 Int or so. Since gems with secondary stats are twice the value of those with primary stats (320 Crit Vs 160 Int, for example) Blacksmithing (640 total stat bonus) might be the most valuable profession if you’re just looking for the buffs. Jewelcrafting provides only 320 in any stat over non JC gems.
|Tailoring||Cloak enchant sometimes adds 2k Int for 15 seconds. Make your own epic gear.|
|Leatherworking||Bracer enchant adds 500 int., but this profession has little other value to you.|
|Jewelcrafting||Make nicer gems for your own use.|
|Enchanting||Enchant both rings, for a total 320 Int gain.|
|Inscription||Shoulder enchant adds 520 Int and 100 crit, can also make some nice staves.|
|Alchemy||More effect from your own potions. Adds 320 Int and an extra hour to your main flask.|
|Engineering||has lots of interesting toys, some of which have situational use, and Synapse Springs, which increases Int by 1940 for a short time. If you take this use a macro to activate it along with other short term buffs.|
|Blacksmithing||gives two extra gems slots. Since gems with secondary stats have twice the value of gems with primary stats Blacksmithing might be a very valuable profession. For example, you’ll be able to socket he two gems for 640 Crit or Haste instead of 320 Int.|
|Skinning||provides 480 crit rating|
|Herbalism||Small heal and 2880 Haste for 20 seconds. Also can find life and mana spirits, which are rather nice.|
All food buffs last one hour. Alchemists get about 30% more effect and an extra hour from Flasks and Elixirs. As Balance your flask will be better than any of the elixirs.
- Mogu Fish Stew: 300 Int
- Steamed Crab Surprise: 300 Spirit
- Braised Turtle: 275 Int
- Fire Spirit Salmon: 275 Spirit
- Flask of the Warm Sun: 1,000 Int for an hour.
- Flask of Falling Leaves: 1,000 Spirit for an hour. Only if you have mana problems.
- Potion of the Jade Serpent: 4k Int for 25 seconds. If you pop one immediately before combat you will be able to pop another during combat.
- Master Healing Potion: Heals 120k HP
- Master Mana Potion: About 30k Mana
How to Get your Druid to the Level Cap, ASAP
Druid leveling is pretty easy, especially if you go Feral (though Balance isn’t bad.) The only problem is the time involved and then you have those other alts you want to level though those 90 levels.
With the thousands of quests to 90 and a bazillion mobs to kill (not to mention other players, but they don’t count here) sorting out which quests are best and which series of quests will get you to 90 the fastest is important, which is why we highly recommend Zygor’s Guide.
Zygor’s is an in-game guide and it nearly automates the whole leveling process: you just pick your starting point, at any level, and the guide tracks which quest you’re on, tracks the quest objectives, and automatically advances and updates as you complete your tasks and quests. In addition, a waypoint arrow is set automatically, so you never have to wonder where to go. All of the important quest info is included in the guide so you never have to wonder what to do. You’ll find that it’s vastly superior to the in-game questing help.
Playing with Heirlooms and/or Recruit a friend? Gaining a few levels in the dungeons or in PvP? Zygor’s has your back. The guide knows what level you are and will correctly suggest where to go next and will let you dump all of your obsolete quests. You will probably never need to look at your quest log again.
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