The Druid Class Guide Overview
As master shapeshifters, druids can take on the forms of a variety of beasts, morphing into a bear, cat, storm crow, or sea lion with ease. This flexibility allows them to fill different roles during their adventures, tearing enemies to shreds one minute and surveying the battlefield from the sky the next.
These keepers of the natural order are among the most versatile heroes in Azeroth, and they must be prepared to adjust to new challenges on a moment’s notice.
The Druid class is intended to be protector of the wilds, defender of the great balance, and preserver of life, but unless you’re playing on an RP server, I somewhat doubt that you truly plan on doing anything aside from laying some major smack down on everything from mobs, when leveling, to other players in the arena, to bosses in raids.
Let not the (relatively) low population of Druids sway you from your interest. Druids are one of the most fun, inventive, and overall powerful (overpowered?) classes in the game, and for good reason considering how the class is designed.
Druid Overview Contents
This page is just a basic overview of the Druid.
The pages linked below, on the right side, have much more detailed info.
|This page:||Other Druid Guides|
Druid Race Choice, Class Abilities, and Talents
Before Cataclysm the choice of race for a Druid was a “difficult” one: Tauren or Night Elf? Now, Trolls and Worgen have joined the club as well as those other Humans (Kul Tiran)
The difference between races is largely visual as opposed to bringing any real advantage to Druids. Trolls might be the most generally useful, due to their Berserking cooldown, but pick the race that works best for you.
You can see the details for all the available Druid races, including the Allied Races, on the Druid Leveling page.
And your abilities? It used to be, long ago, that your talents defined your specialization (spec,) beyond a couple of core abilities. In Mists of Pandaria and beyond it’s the abilities that define your spec, not so much the talents. Shadowlands pushed some things around, but didn’t change the feel much.
The abilities that are shared by all specs can be found here, on the Druid Leveling page.
Druid Forms (Shapeshifting)
Druidic abilities cover a lot of ground. This is exactly where the druid class differentiates itself from all others.
Druids will find their capabilities both enhanced and hindered based upon which form they’re currently using making proper preparation the key to effectively combating various opponent types, whether player or monster.
Overall the experienced Druid gains the instinctive insight of when, where, and how to use his vast arsenal of abilities, making them nigh invulnerable to any combination of attackers and deadly despite any apparent disadvantages. This huge variety of capabilities also makes the class rather difficult to play well.
Shifting into whichever form will bring various benefits, plus the actual act of shapeshifting frees you from movement impairing and polymorphing effects. Pretty handy in PvP and a few other spots.
Caster Form – Humanoid
The standard caster, or humanoid, form for druids is the form you’ll be using for everything from ranged caster style damage and nuking to playing the healer and supporting everyone else in your party. This form is useful at times, due to not being classified as a beast like all other forms. The beast forms make the Druid vulnerable to Scare Beast and various other attacks against beasts. Humanoid form also allows you to look pretty as opposed to looking like a wild animal. Unless you’re Tauren.
Cat form is the Druid’s first step on the road to melee DPS capabilities, giving us a massive increase in burst damage, damage over time, and kill speed efficiency as we gain the ability to grind for lengthy periods of time without stopping for mana. Additionally, this form grants you the ability to stealth, very much like a rogue, as well as possessing a sprint like ability and various stealth-opener attacks that allow you to very quickly burn down the opposition.
Cat form is immensely useful in making the druid a fast leveler compared to the slower speeds granted by the other forms.
Bear form represents a large increase in our survivability, massively boosting armor and health to levels matching that of Warriors and Paladins early on. You get 20% more Stamina at level 12.
Travel form is an ever useful speed increase that, despite what you might think, is never fully replaced by you regular mounts. This form is nice for any PvP strategy due to its massive increase in maneuverability over normal players. Very useful in Warsong Gulch and Eye of the Storm due to the capability to carry the flag while in travel form. It is also undispellable, unlike the Shaman’s Ghost Wolf.
Exactly which form you take depends on whether land, water, or air is called for.
At level 20 your ground form gets a +60% speed boost. Not available in Bettlegrounds or arena, and otherwise has to be out of combat.
Need to give your buddy a lift? Mount form is for you. 40% speed increase.
Get a nice boost (+100%) to your swim speed and the ability to breath underwater. I’m sure you can find some use for this.
Boomkin (Moonkin) form
You become awesomely sexy and this form also increases the damage of your spells by 10% and your armor by 125%. At 37 any single-target attack against you (not area effects) can make your next Starfire instant, on a 15% chance per hit.
Druids also gain a flight form equal to the flying mount. This form also comes at a fairly cheap trainer price and does not require you to train the flying skill itself to use this. However, to obtain the upgrade form, Swift Flight Form, you’ll need to train your riding skill.
The upside is that flight forms can be activated while falling, and at any other time, instantly, as long as you’re not in combat, making it somewhat more viable than mounting up.
Feral Druid, Cat form
Feral druids are focused on becoming Rogue and Fury Warrior-like in that they burst through mobs in a whirlwind of flashing claws or death and destruction, stopping only to throw on a few HoT’s (Heal over time) before shifting back into cat form and moving onto the next group. Downtime is almost nonexistent at mid-level and beyond, as you gain some of the massively damaging attacks that define feral druid and cat form DPS.
Guardian Druid, Bear Form
Like most tanks Guardian is fine for leveling, with slightly different tactics. While the cats will go from opponent to opponent and destroy them, one by one, you’ll round them all up and burn the whole group down at once. Probably without taking a scratch, certainly nothing that you won’t be able to heal.
Tanking can be quite an enjoyable experience. Bear form easily gives you the capability to hold threat while whoever you’re teaming with burns the offending mobs down. With near zero wait times for dungeon queues you’ll level quickly. See the Guardian Druid page for abilities, talents, etc.
Leveling as Balance is the second option when setting yourself along the path to the level cap (or whatever your goal happens to be.) I personally selected balance as my build of choice when leveling my first druid to 70 (back when 70 was the level cap.) I found it more fun to play a unique hybrid caster as opposed to another rogue clone with heals.
Stacking up as much damage gear, and good gear in general, is key to being viable as Balance. Balance is also good support for a group of players leveling together, giving you the ability to deal out the damage and remain in reserve for heals when needed.
Restoration leveling is an exercise in patience and exasperation, you gain virtually no improved solo capabilities while improving your already powerful healing capabilities to pointless levels, as far as soloing is concerned. Only consider this build if you plan on dedicated teaming.
The upside would be that you provide massive aid to any team you happen to join and, if instancing regularly is your thing, it actually comes in quite handy and sets you apart from any other Druids you might encounter.
Gear, Stats, and Numbers
Gearing woes will plague you throughout your career as a Druid. One of these woes will the the idea of maintaining several sets of gear, one for each role that you want to play. At the very least an Agility set and an Intelligence set, assuming you want to bounce between melee and ranged (attack or heals.)
These are the basic stat priorities that you will need. For more info, including builds, gems, and enchants see the pages linked to in the table below:
The linked pages have much more detail on appropriate stats.
Stamina Note – at low levels we recommend that you stack Stamina until survival is no longer an issue (which will be different amounts for different people.) If you’re doing low level PvP (or any PvP) you’ll want a lot more than otherwise. In a PvE environment, if you’re DPS and have a good tank, then you don’t need much Stam.
PvP Note: Once upon a time there were special stats for PvP, but no longer. PvP gear is the same as PvE gear these days. Get the best gear and enchants that you can.
What does this mean for gemming and enchanting for PvP? Gem the same as for PvE, for max damage or healing.
Keeping up with the best gear will require gold, and a lot of it. Keeping up with “good enough” gear is much cheaper. Using heirlooms will have the big initial investment, but then you’ll be able to use them on all of your characters.
PvP gear requires no gold. PvE drops require no gold, but the repair cost is higher and you have to be pretty lucky (or determined) to get a full set. Go here to check out an addon that will help with the gold, otherwise work your gathering skills (herbs, ores, skins) hard until you have the gold.
Higher item level is almost always better then lower. Esp. for items with Int/Ag.
Shadowlands has an “diminishing returns” on your secondary stats. This means that stacking large amounts of one stat, such as Haste, will not have the same value as before. As you gain higher levels in the stat, each additional point will have less value than the first.
Note: For a more in-depth look at leveling a Druid, including builds, specs, and tips, check out our Druid Leveling Guide. For an actual path to get to the level cap fast, with all the “where to go” and “what to do” stuff completely covered, you should see this page.
Leveling a druid varies for every player, unlike many classes. How enjoyable you find the experience is almost entirely based upon personal capabilities at controlling the numerous, and sometimes tricky, abilities and combos that make up a druid. However, when looking for leveling speed, Feral will most definitely come out on top,
Balance is second, although gaining slightly at higher levels, and finally Restoration – a distant third, given that it only benefits healing aside from the first talent (furor.) However, if you’re a team player and are doing most of your leveling in teams (ie: dungeons, battlegrounds) then Resto is quite viable as a leveling build.
Guardian is the Tank spec and how it levels, via questing, is an open question. Typically tanks do very well rounding up groups of opponents and burning them down and Guardians do quite well at that. Plus, if you’re willing to be the dungeon tank you will have near-zero wait time for dungeons.
Are Druids viable in PvP? I think enough of us have had our butts kicked by Druids to know that that is a silly question. Druids are very viable in PvP, any PvP. For builds and info see our Feral Cat PvP, Resto PvP, and Balance PvP pages.
If you’re just looking to make some gold, as opposed to crafting items, Herbalism works very well. Combine this with another gathering skill such as Mining or Skinning. It makes for a solid money maker combo and you’ll likely never be left wanting for more gold, except perhaps to buy that expensive top level purple gear on the Auction House.
Even though you have your own heals keeping a stack on bandages (from Tailoring) and another of healing potions (from Alchemy) can still come in handy from time to time, especially at lower levels. (Never underestimate the benefits of a free heal.)
Generally speaking, the crafting skills are very expensive to level. If you have lots of gold already then go for it, otherwise wait until you do.
A nice change in Battle for Azeroth was breaking out each tradeskill into sub-skills appropriate to each expansion. For example, you blast through the levels to 110+ and decide you want to learn Leatherworking. You can buy the skill as Kul-Tiran/Zandalar Leatherworking and not have to level it up form all the other zones. Just start from scratch in the BFA zones. Rather nice. The same is true for the Shadowlands zone, you’ll just start there at 50, instead of 110.
Of course, if you want all the earlier recipes you will still have to head back to all those old zones to gain and level those skills.
Tradeskills for the End Game
There is some nice gear to be made, though it’s a bit expensive.
- Engineering: Flexweave Underlay (a parachute) and Grounded Plasma Shield are cool engie toys. Watch for engie side effects, they might be “interesting” in a dungeon or raid situation. You can also make rockets and shields and other cool stuff.
- Leatherworking: All Druids wear leather armor so if you’re leveling you might find this skill to be useful. Your garrison Leatherworking minion will let you make tents than increase your stats by 10% for an hour, though in Draenor only.
- Jewelcrafting: Make and use nicer gems than the other people get, in addition to useful jewelry.
- Blacksmithing will let you make mail or plate armor and weapons.
- Alchemy: Make cool potions and trinkets.
- Enchanting: in addition to the Draenor enchants your garrison Enchanter minion will let you make Illusionary enchants, which let you change the look of your other enchants.
- Inscription: Glyphs, some trinkets, and some staves.
- Tailoring: Cloth armor, bandages, nets to catch players, bandages, etc.
- Herbalism for the gold or to fuel your Alchemy or Inscription profession. Gains XP with each herb gathered, if you are leveling.
- Skinning for the gold or to fuel your Leatherworking profession. No XP gain.
- Mining for the gold or to fuel your Engineering or Blacksmithing profession. Gains XP with each herb gathered, if you are leveling.
Now Get Your Druid Leveled Faster
Now that you’re on the way to becoming a lean, mean, killing (or healing) machine you should consider a full blown leveling guide for your blast to the top levels. Why? It will save you many days of in-game time and will also save a good deal of frustration, even if you already know many or most of the quests.
You’ll never again wonder about where to go, what to do, or where to find that thing you’re looking for.
Our recommended leveling guide is Zygor’s Guide. Zygor nearly automates the whole leveling path (automatically updating as you complete tasks and quests) and is like having an expert helping you every step of the way.
Pick your starting point and the guide automatically updates and advances as you complete quests, sets a waypoint arrow automatically, and includes all the important quest info. If you gain a few levels in the dungeons or in PvP, then come back to the guide, you’re still covered. It’ll figure out where you are and adjust accordingly, allowing you to ignore obsolete quests.
Whether you’re brand new to WoW or decked head to toe in heirlooms Zygor will get you to the level cap faster than anything else out there. Grab your copy of Zygor’s Leveling Guide, here.