As you may or may not know, I’ve been playing WoW off and on since open beta. My first character was a dwarf hunter named Chark, who made it up to level 24 before I lost interest and went elsewhere. I’ve made dozens of warlocks, tried to get a priest above 25 and failed, and once upon a time, actually got a Tauren druid up to 58. At that point, it was the highest level character I’d ever guided through any game, and it was sure to be my first-ever maxed-out character.
Which did not happen. For many reasons, actually. While I had a great group of guildies to run with, I loathed being on an RP/PVP server (ganking frustrates me to no end), and could never, ever find the right talent spec for my druid to enjoy. In theory, I love hybrid classes, and being able to do a little of everything appealed to me greatly. In practice, I just couldn’t settle down and make peace with a build. When the moonkin patch released, I rolled moonkin and was mortified that there wasn’t much I could do past dancing and running low on mana. I hated the thought of being a healbot just to get innervate (that was before it became a purchasable class skill). And I wasn’t too crazy about spending 90% of my career as a cat with horns or a bear butt. I spent hundreds of gold on respecs, back when 50g actually meant something more than “4 quests completed”. It just didn’t stick.
So I rerolled to a few different servers, and eventually ended up on Rexxar. My first toon? Snappi, a druid. Maybe I was asking for punishment, but I also love the thought of playing a class that most people… don’t. Sure, I adore pet classes, but while everyone is playing a hunter (and thus, hunters are in low demand in groups), nobody seems to want to pony up for a druid. I got Snappi up to her 20’s, got frustrated once more with how to shape her talents, threw up my hands, and rolled Syp. Syp became my first level 60 (and later, 70), and became an extension of my experience in WoW.
However, I never quite forgot about Snappi, and recently I’ve been playing her more and more. At first, it’s because (as always) we have a hard time putting together runs sometimes because we lack a tank or healer. Bingo! Druids can do both! So I felt I could contribute to the guild a bit more — if I could ever level her high enough for Outland. I really struggled to make a Moonkin spec work, and there is potential for nice damage output there if that’s your thing. Starfire – moonfire – insect swarm – feral fire – and either Wrath it down or just swing away with a quick one-hander (a giant owl with a dagger the size of a toothpick is a fun sight) to get some mana regen. The problem with this build is that it’s not great for grinding; you have a lot of down time, taking breaks after every third or fourth mob. You can’t heal without shifting, so you have to invest in first aid. And as pure-DPS, you don’t offer much to an instance group past the moonkin aura.
So recently I bit the bullet and respecced feral. I know, I know, every druid does it, but that’s for a good reason. The strength of the class is its flexibility. Maybe we can’t ever be the BEST healer, or quite as rogue-like, or the BEST tank, or the BEST spellcaster… but we CAN do any and all of these things, at the click of a button. Feral has some wonderfully nice talents added since I last played my Tauren druid, and I’ve started to really warm up to the thought of getting a feral druid up to Outland. There’s a nice talent that gives you a free heal every time you crit — and in cat form, I’m attacking every second with an 18.50% to crit. That’s almost a free heal every five seconds. I’m vastly looking forward to lacerate, cyclone and lifebloom, new BC spells that help give druids more crowd control, damage and healing ability.
Most of all, the feral build pleases me because I can easily slide into whatever’s needed. I’m just now learning how to tank effectively, never having played a tanking class much in my WoW career, and there’s a fine skill to it. Bear druids have incredible amounts of health and armor, which make them supreme meatshields in a difficult fight. I have a crappy healing set, if anyone needs me to slide into a healing role — HOTs are almost as fun as my warlock’s DOTs, and allow me to cycle around the group instead of focusing primarily on one guy. And while I can’t see myself doing kitty attack during instance runs, the ability to prowl and set up a nice stun at the start of a fight can’t be underestimated.
Although they’re difficult classes for some people to mentally grasp — usually we like to just concentrate on setting up a perfect attack order and doing that over and over — the flexibility and fluidity of the druid should appeal to many of us jack-of-all-trades. I just hope I can get Snappi to Outland before I die of old age.