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Dancing with the Stars - Balance Druid PvP
#1
Hello fellow Balance Druid enthusiasts!

I get whispers regarding Balance Druids quite often, so I decided to write this short guide that covers the basics of a Balance Druid. Before I go any further, please keep in mind that Balance Druids are fairly useless if not played correctly and you need decent gear before you can actually feel like you're making a difference.


-- Spells --

I won't explain what every spell does, but I will give you an idea of what you should have on your bars and obviously binded. This only includes spells from your spellbook, not things such as mounts, trinkets, food or consumables.

Starfire, Wrath, Moonfire (max rank and rank 1), Entangling Roots, Regrowth, Rejuvenation (max rank and 4 or 5), Healing Touch (max rank, 7 or 6 and rank 4), Insect Swarm (max rank and rank 1), Faerie Fire, Remove Curse, Barkskin, Nature's Grasp, Abolish Poison, Innervate, Hibernate, Mark of the Wild, Thorns (rank 1), Tranquility, Hurricane, Rebirth, Bear Form (Bash, Maul Demoralizing Roar, Frenzied Regeneration, Enrage), Cat Form (Prowl, Dash, Pounce, Ravage, Track Humanoids, Claw, Rake, Shred, Ferocious Bite, Rip) and Travel Form.

Moonfire - Use rank 1 to pop Grounding Totems or when low on mana and you want to bait dispellers into wasting their time in larger fights.

Rejuvenation - Use the lower rank when you're almost at full hp, but you don't want to stop to eat/drink.

Healing Touch - Same reasoning as Rejuvenation.

Insect Swarm - Use rank 1 to waste dispellers' time or if you want to reduce the target's hit chance when low on mana (Not very effective, better off eating/drinking at that point).

Faerie Fire - You want to learn to spam this alot, you can render Rogues and some Druids basically useless for a long period of time.

Barkskin - You want to use that when fighting melees and you're either not going to hardcast for a while or if you are focused and you have a healer on your side. Keep in mind you can remove it when you don't need it anymore.

Thorns - Might seem useless in PvP, but it's another magic effect to hide your buffs behind from dispellers.

Rebirth - Use it when it's one of those 50 minute turtle games and you're about to kill the efc, but your trusty warrior friend falls in the heat of the battle, can instantly turn fights like that around.

Bear Form - Demoralizing Roar to find stealthed enemies or to just reduce the attack power of melees when fighting in Bear Form. Frenzied Regeneration is a decent cooldown to use if you have been in Bear Form for a while and got some rage to turn into health. Be careful when using Enrage, it reduces your armor, but can be useful in some situations.

Cat Form - Pounce is usually the better opener, but you can also Ravage on enemies that are low and are about to die. Track Humanoids is very useful when looking for enemy flag carrier or when defending your flag to call incs. Generally you don't want to use Rake, because it barely deals any damage, but you can use it for a quick bleed on a heavy armor target when you don't have energy to Claw or Shred before shifting out of Cat. Rip is a very potent bleed at 5 points (Only use in very rare occasions, when killing someone in a healer infested brawl for example), but only use it if you have alot of points accumulated over the course of Pounceing on someone for a few times, don't sit in cat and shred a target for 20 seconds just to get a 5 point Rip on them.


-- Spec --

First off, there are many different specs you can play as a Balance Druid. Right now I'm using the build that in my opinion has the best mix of everything I want (30/0/21), but there are many other specs that also work well, there's a lot of flexibility in Druid talent choices. If you're looking for something more hybrid based or flag carrier focused, feel free to take a look at Dwuidd's guide - http://retro-wow.com/forum/showthread.php?tid=2432 .

In this guide I will focus on my spec, (30/0/21). Why is this spec good? One of the main reasons why this is my favorite spec is because it is very versatile. Staying in caster form gives you the ability to heal and use Insect Swarm and in addition to that you gain a very powerful defensive (or in some cases offensive) cooldown Nature's Swiftness, that can help you out in many tough situations. Moonkin form is clumsy (shift multiple times for cat openers or bear stuns) and it is extremly mana intensive. The spec I linked is not the only possible variation of the (30/0/21) build though. While there is little to no room for change in the resto tree (1/5 Tranquil Spirit can be used somewhere else), there are a few choices you can make in the Balance tree. Some people opt for 4/4 Improved Nature's Grasp to bump it's proc chance up to 100% from the 65% you have with 2/4. Natural Shapeshifter and Improved Entangling Roots are both great if you want some more utility or flag carrying potential. However, you are very fragile in this build, meaning that if you have to cast Entangling Roots while there's a melee smacking away at you, you're probably dead anyway, which makes Improved Entangling Roots slightly less effective at later gear levels, where people can blow you up in a matter of seconds. This build is one of the hardest hiting out of all possible variations and less valuable on the utility spectrum. If you are running a premade with a heavy melee comp/low cc you can opt for some more utility, as you won't be the main damage dealer.


-- Stats --

When gearing your Druid you want to follow this pattern for damage values:

Hit cap (3%) > Crit chance > Spell power

The values here are only for caster stats and not stamina. You want to get as much stamina as much you need to feel comfortable. Balance Druids don't have many gear choices, because we don't have a tier set, so figuring out which gear is the best isn't very hard. I wouldn't really give a certain value at which point spell power is greater than crit chance, because if you're aiming for BiS caster pieces there aren't many occasions when you can choose between items with crit or spell power (One of the most notable being Maexxna robe and MC robe). The reason why I stack crit so hard is because Starfire is a very long cast time (3.5 not talented) which means it scales very well with spell power. Now if you add the fact that your crits deal 200% damage and make your next cast 0.5 sec faster, you can put out crazy burst if you get 2 crits in a row. In addition to that it makes procing Nature's Grace alot easier with Moonfire (Which has another +10% crit from talents, bumping it to over 30% in BiS gear).


-- Gear --

For the spec I'm currently using, this is my favorite gear set:

Head: Mish'undare, Circlet of the Mind Flayer [ZG Enchant]
Neck: Gem of Trapped Innocents
Shoulders: Rime Covered Mantle [Sapphiron enchant]
Back: Cloak of the Necropolis [Any resistance or 1% Dodge]
Chest: Robe of Volatile Power [+100 Health]
Wrist: The Soul Harvester's Bindings [+9 Stamina]
Gloves: Gloves of Ebru [+30 Healing]
Waist: Eyestalk Waist Cord 
Legs: Leggings of Polarity [ZG Enchant]
Feet: Boots of Fright [Movement speed]
Ring: Ring of the Fallen God 
Ring: Seal of the Damned 
Trinket: Generally you want to have multiple trinkets so you can use them for different situations. I highly recommend leveling Engineering to be able to use the Frost, Shadow and Fire Reflector. You also need a PvP trinket and for damage I would recommend The Restrained Essence of Sapphiron .
Weapon: Soulseeker [+30 Spell power]
Relic: Idol of the Moon

Obviously there are many other sets for PvP you can use depending on situation (T2.5 pieces to be more tankier, 2 pieces of the PvP set for set bonus etc).


-- How to balance --

There are many ways you can approach a fight. I'm not here to tell you how to play Warsong Gulch, but I will focus more on how to defeat your enemies. First rule is simple: use the environment around you. You can't take on many people on an open field, so always have a way out ready. When fighting people make use of your dots and hots and LoS to avoid taking unnecessary damage. I will go over fighting different classes and specs and list the tactics that have the highest rate of success, but keep in mind that this is PvP, so be ready to improvise according to the situation. In most cases the best opener you can hope for is Cat Pounce, having the element of surprise on your side is always the good thing. Try to be unpredictable in your plays against more experienced/skilled enemies as they can read your patterns fairly easily if you keep on going in with the same strategy.

1. Priest

Your worst nightmare as a druid. Good priests will make sure that you don't hot or dot anything and it is nearly impossible to kill them because getting close for a stun results in you getting feared almost every time. In addition to that they can use their shield to avoid pushback and when needed heal up quickly. When fighting a priest try to go for Starfire combo. Keep casting Starfire until you get a stun then follow that up with another Starfire and a quick Moonfire after that. Assuming none of these crit, you will deal roughly 3k damage while the priest can't do anything. If you get a crit or two in, the priest will be under heavy pressure and is either forced to back off or you can likely finish him off.

Shadow priests are basically impossible to kill, you're better off running away from them, because they can negate anything you throw at them and Blackout procs make sure you can't even cast a single Starfire against them. Your best bet is to try to outdps them with Wrath or hope for RNG and spam Moonfire to get crits, but it rarely goes in your favor.

2. Mage

Mages are quite easy to beat, they use a very predictable combo and you can easily heal up when needed. You want to open with Pounce in Cat form and then see how the Mage reacts. Less skilled mages usually blink this stun, which means they have no blink for Bear stun. Try to get close to them while applying your dots/throw rejuv on yourself. Most of the time they try to come in for the Frost Nova, in which case you are well prepared and shift into Bear right as they Nova you, break the Nova and stun the mage. This leaves them stunned without Blink. At this point you can go for the riskier Starfire cast if you think you can do it before the stun ends, or simply Wrath and Moonfire. Better mages will wait out the Pounce and Nova you after that. You can then follow the Nova with a stun or simply shift out of it and save your stun for later on.

When you are fighting mages be vary of Counterspell. If they lock you down for 8 seconds it can be quite painful, but I haven't seen many Mages that actually hit their Counterspell here, so it's not too hard to fake cast it. If you want to go for the safer option you can just start hardcasting Starfire and make them lock your Arcane tree, once they do that they probably feel confident and think they have the advantage. After using CS they don't have anything to prevent you from healing yourself or using Wrath to finish them off. Always be ready for the Polymorphs, some mages try to Polymorph you and the animation is different from their other spells, so you have time to prepare for the quick shapeshift out of it.

Against Fire Mages you want to make sure you have something you can hide behind, because a PoM Pyro crit with a followup Scorch/Fire Blast crit can deal crazy amounts of damage and if you survive the initial hit, the Ignite will wipe you out pretty fast.

3. Warlock

This matchup heavily depends on how the Warlock plays. If he uses Fear after every dot application, you want to stay away from him, because you can't probably kill him. However, if you can LoS his fear and keep slowly doting him down, you can win the fight. Generally you don't want to trinket their fear before the Death Coil into Fear combo. After that they don't have instant cc, so if you make use of LoS you can avoid Fears and kill them. Keep an eye out for the pet, as the Felhunter can be a nuissance, because of the dispell and silence. The best way to deal with it would be to root it when you have the time. Don't go for a root on the pet when the Warlock is casting Fear on you though, you will very likely lose that trade. When you see the Felhunter dispell you use Nature's Grasp right after that, the pet will usually root itself before it can dispell your buff.

Generally when fighting Warlocks you want to make sure you have hots up on yourself just in case you get feared.

4. Rogue

Rogues are very different case to case. As you play more you start remembering certain names and you become more aware of what they are capable of. Geared rogues can kill you in Cheap Shot without much problem, not so geared rogues can't even finish you off after a Kidney Shot. The key here is knowing when to trinket. Against some of the stronger Rogues (Fun, Vampiregirl etc.) you want to trinket the very moment they Cheap Shot, because if you don't you're very likely dead before it ends. After you trinket go for the Bear stun. Now if that misses or gets resisted (Orcs op), you're generally in trouble. Go for the NS Entangling Roots (or Nature's Grasp if you're feeling confident) followed by a Faerie Fire and heal up a healthy distance away. Always keep an eye on the rogue in case they break the roots and be ready to reroot again as fast as possible. If you want to take the fight, start by refreshing roots followed by an Insect Swarm, because it rarely breaks roots. Against weaker rogues trinket Kidney, this leaves them with Kindey on CD and 0 combo points and the fight is quite simple from there on, as long as they don't use every cooldown at their disposal.

With some experience you will soon be able to predict Blinds pretty well, so try to study the pattern how rogues use Blind and pre-abolish poison accordingly. Nearly all rogues Blind into Abolish and when you get out of it a few moments later they are usually left wondering what just happened, giving you a +1 in the mental war.

5. Druid

Druid mirrors generally come down to Hibernates. It is nearly impossible to kill a flag carrier druid alone, especially ones with over 6k hp, as they can run away from you and keep healing. The key here is to keep Faerie Fire on, only dot if you are going for a potential kill combo and try to get Hibernates as often as possible. Don't hesitate to NS Hibernate, it gives you a free window for a Starfire cast. Before breaking Hibernate position yourself as best as you can, so you can follow up with damage immediately. If you manage to Hibernate the other Druid without NS, you don't want to stand too far away, just in range for the him/her to Feral Charge you. If played well, you can break Hibernate with Starfire, the other Druid will very likely go for the Bear Form and Feral Charge combo, in which case you NS Hibernate before you get stunned. This gives you another free Starfire, at which point he/she will be either dead or under heavy pressure. Generally at this point you can Moonfire spam while he/she is trying to run in travel form.

Against Feral Druids you don't want to dot much, unless you're going for the execute or you heavily outgear the poor kitten. Try to Hibernate, keep hots up and reset the fight with Bear Stun and healing touch when needed. If you know the Feral wants you dead, it is also quite effective to full dot him/her and hot yourself up and continue fighting in Bear Form, slowly chipping their health down. Because geared Ferals have very high critical chance and you have very low armor they can kill you very fast with 2-3 Shreds if you try to tank them in caster form.

When fighting balance druids you don't want to be hit by Starfire, as that will result with your death most of the time. Keep dots/hots up, try to Bear stun when the other druid is roughly at half health and follow that with a quick Starfire+Moonfire to finish the job. Whoever forces the other one to hardcast heals often wins the brawl.

6. Hunter

Hunters are a tough matchup, as the geared ones can reach upwards of 8k health and still do insane amounts of damage from a distance. Generally you want to LoS the hunter and Hibernate the pet as soon as possible. Avoid getting hit by Aimed Shot at all costs, as even semi-geared hunters can completely wipe you out in 1 combo if they get a few crits (I've been hit for 4.3k by Aimed Shot alone). Good hunters will Viper Sting you, keep Abolish up to cleanse that. Bad hunters will serpent sting you. Don't Abolish serpent sting, taking under 200 damage every 3 seconds is worth it, because serpent sting prevents him from reseting the fight with a trap. Never stand out in the open trying to hardcast Starfire at a hunter when they are focusing you. When killing not-so-geared hunters you can just dot them up and use a few Wraths to finish them off. When fighting geared hunters you want to wear them down slowly. Root them, get in their Deadzone (the range where they can't range you) and keep refreshing dots and roots. Make sure you stay topped of at all times, because if you end up getting trapped you are probably dead if you're not ready to take heavy amounts of damage.

7. Shaman

One of the hardest opponents, as they counter most of your strengths. Enh Shamans are fairly easy to beat, keep them rooted, shift out of Earthbind/Frost Shock and keep your distance. You should almost never lose against them.

Elemental Shamans are much harder to deal with. They have huge burst and strong heals, they can purge your hots, throw down Grounding totem to completely negate your attempts of Starfireing and interrupt you with Earth Shock. Your best chance here is to dot them up and LoS them/heal yourself through the damage as best as you can. When they are forced into healing themselves quickly Bear Stun them, make sure you have poped their Grounding (preferably with a rank 1 moonfire to conserve mana) and go for the Starfire if you know Shocks are on cooldown or Wrath if not certain.

Resto Shamans are quite difficult to defeat, but their lack of hots/shields makes them extremely vulnerable to Starfire stuns. As long as you can force them to stand in place and heal you can kill them, if you don't get enough lucky crits or they have huge healthpool they usually end up Ghost Wolfing and running away from you. Unlike other healers, shamans are very capable of killing you, as their base damages are very high and they can purge your hots/interrupt hard cast heals with Earth Shock, so be ready to take the defensive approach when they start playing aggro on you.

8. Warrior

After reaching a fairly low threshold of skill level, this fight ends up very RNG based. You always want to be the first agressor here, be it Cat Pounce into roots or Moonfire from far away, to avoid the Warrior from having the chance to charge you. Use Nature's Grasp right after your opener and run away from them to force them into intercepting you. After you get the first root down make sure everything is under control, use Nature's Grasp if still available, hot yourself up, refresh roots if needed and start with Insect Swarm and Starfire. If the roots break and the Warrior gets an intercept on you it's time to pray. It's not rare that geared warriors 100-0 me in an Intercept stun with a few lucky crits, so always be prepared for that and don't get too frustrated, since there's nothing you really could've done about it. If you survive, the Warrior will very likely be rooted from Nature's Grasp, if resisted or trinketed go for Bear stun and root. You now have a window where he/she can't get close to you, use it and dish out as much damage as you can. If you get unlucky on roots and they break often you will very likely end up dead.

9. Paladin

Paladins can be quite annoying to deal with. They can bubble to reset the fight, Cleanse your dots and they have a long stun that lets them either escape or set up for chunks of damage. Keep your Bear Stun for when you are going for the kill or to force bubble. Using Bear Stun to reset the fight is not very effective, because it is quite hard to finish Paladins off without stuns.

Reck Paladins are a nightmare, you are built around criting as much as possible, giving the reck paladin free stacks just to right click you down. Trinket stun without hesitation, unless you know the paladin has max stacks, at which point you probably die to 1 swing anyway, making the use of Trinket a waste in most cases. Keep your distance and don't let yourself fall low on hp if you know they have stun available.

Holy Paladins with T3 can be quite hard to kill, since most of them use the bugged set bonus to keep healing while on the run, good Paladins can just los your all cast attempts while healing themselves with the occasional Flash of Light and Cleanse spam. Your dots are quite useless here, but many Paladins can be baited into spamming Cleanse to remove your Moonfire dot while your teammates are puting out the damage needed to take them out or simply the initial damage from your Moonfire which forces them to hardcast at some point giving you a potential Starfire cast.


These are just some examples to work off of. Obviously most fights are not going to be textbook because you never know how your opponent reacts, when they use certain spells, engineering, you never know when the 1v1 might be interrupted by a rogue that decides to screw you and so on and on. Try to improve your ability to anticipate your opponent's next move. Anyone who has played arena on a serious level knows that the key to winning is being a step ahead of your opponent. Track their cooldowns, stay unpredictable and try to surprise your opponent. In most situations you want to force your plays on the opponent, but sometimes it's better to stay passive and make your opponent feel like they have the upper hand, because retaliating when they are feeling confident can throw them off and give you a massive edge all of a sudden.


-- Addons --

You don't really need macros in vanilla because focus targets are basically non-existant and spells are so basic that you can do everything manually. Obviously there are many that benefit you, but since I don't use many you can come up with your own if you feel like you need them. There are many addons that make playing alot more effective though. I highly recommend using unit frames (I'm using xperl) to help keep an eye on your and your team's health, possible poisons or curses to remove and it also gives you the ability to change your UI around. You can put important information to a better place (Depending on your dominant eye).

Another very useful addon is ItemRack, it gives you the ability to quickly change gear sets and trinkets according to situation.

I also suggest using a cast bar addon. There are many variations of simple addons like that one, so find one that suits you the best.

The last basic PvP addon that you should use is a cooldown tracker that helps you keep track of your cooldowns, so you don't find yourself shifting into Bear just to realise that Bash is on cooldown and you just wasted precious time.

These are the basic addons you should have. I have alot more misc and PvE addons but I'm not going to list those here, as this guide is purely PvP focused.


I hope you found what you came looking for! If you have any questions don't hesitate to ask and if you see any mistakes please feel free to correct me. Also, keep in mind that this is how I play and there are many other ways to play the game just as effectively, if not better. Smile
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#2
Fantastic guide!!

 /salute, my friend.
I'll be editing my guide to reference yours.
[Image: izW8PhA.png]
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#3
Thank you for the kind words Smile
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