Monday, August 11, 2008

Druids Are Complicated

I often forget how far I’ve come in understanding the druid class (and how far I still have to go). I almost assume that almost everyone else knows the basics of gearing and talenting their druid, despite writing a blog designed specifically to help people with their gameplay. But druids really are multi-faceted and much more complicated for first-time players than many other straight-forward classes (like the rogue, mage, hunter or warlock).

I was reminded of this on Saturday when I went to my aunt’s house to celebrate my father and uncle’s 50th birthdays. My father’s cousin, a woman 35 years older than I, also plays WoW with a 50-something druid as her current main. An enjoyer of the infamous disease known as “altitis,” she has no 70’s and only plays the game about a half hour to an hour each night due to taking more college courses for a degree.

Talking to her, she admitted she was having problems with her druid. Due to my interest in the druid class, we got in a discussion about how she was playing and why things were going so slow for her. In the end, it turned out she was restoration spec, equipping any leather (and maybe cloth) that was an upgrade for her, and trying to kill things in kitty form. She didn’t know how respeccing worked, or what stats to look for.

I did my best to give a quick rundown, but I think I confused her more than helped her. I tried to tell her which stats were important for which spec, and how the druid class, like any hybrid, is a little complicated and requires different gear and talents for different roles. I think I may have accidentally overloaded her with information. I didn’t mention my blog; I’m not sure it would have helped her as much as I would like it to, just confuse and overload her more.

That night, after I arrived home, I offered to heal a heroic Steam Vaults. It was me, two feral druids, a mage and a rogue. After we arrived and people had grabbed the keys, we set off, one of the feral druids tanking. It was a near wipe, with me running out at the end. The tank had pulled with Faerie Fire, and there was no initial aggro to stop my heals from pulling threat. No one could stay under the tank and do their jobs. Another bad pull and we switched tanks.

Again, the same problem. Pull with Faerie Fire, an odd threat rotation, few swipes, and I ate dirt. Everyone else survived, so we tried again after I was rezzed (I was running back, but one of the other druids gave me one). This time, full wipe. We broke up; it obviously wasn’t happening.

I had suggested to the tanks to pull with a tick of hurricane for initial aggro or to use a starfire-moonfire-bear form pull for threat, but it was shaky, uncoordinated, and it seemed the two bears, both in the same guild, were quite used to Faerie Fire pulling. I had even put on some T4 to make my Lifeblooms less intense, and they still couldn’t hold aggro.

In the case of the tanks, they weren’t bad players. They knew how to itemize, what gear to get, and the basics of tanking. They just didn’t know the best way to gain aggro, to hold threat, or how to keep the mobs off a healer whose Lifeblooms gave her a steady stream of threat on all targets.

Every once in a while I see someone in trade chat looking for help on switching over to a Resto spec. I help if I’m not going to busy for a while, but there is so much involved in the druid class that it often does take a long while. Speaking with my cousin brought back memories of my own trip to 70, of the times I dps’d the wrong add, or melee’d from the front, equipped whatever I could get an used attacks after only glancing at the tooltip.

I’ve come a long way since then, but I have a long way to go still. I don’t know the raw healing conversion for any of my healing spells; that’s the next goal. I should get them down just in time for WotLK to come and give me more to learn.

Sometimes, though, it’s good to sit back and gain perspective on how much you’ve learned, how much you still have to learn, and empathize with the fresh-70 tank who doesn’t quite know how to use all his skills to max effect or the Boomkin who hasn’t learned the best spell rotation for mana conservation with high dps and no front-loaded threat or the Tree who spams Regrowth as their main heal.

It’s all too easy when you know what you’re doing to look down on someone who doesn’t. Not everyone can be naturally amazing at a class (though there are those out there), and not everyone knows there are web resources or has the time to root through them. So next time someone doesn’t know what they’re doing, bite your tongue on the word “noob” and help them learn.


Anonymous said...

Hey Bell, great to have you back!

I agree with your point at the end there; when someone is new to a class (or even going from always being resto to trying to tank as feral), and they don't get it right away, the best thing you can do for them is to be patient and friendly while helping them. :)

Love the blog!

Jeff said...

Bell, I don't think I learned how to really play my druid until I was around level 64. I leveled full out Resto like your Aunt and I had NO idea what stats I was to be looking for. I had more Feral spec gear then I had Resto gear for most of the time. I was SHOCKED that there was such a thing a pure healing gear. I will admit I am still confused at times over the whole MP5 vs. healing argument when it comes to choosing between upgrade.

Like Keith said best thing is patience. I actually found reading blogs and going to WoWwiki helped me become a better Druid in general.

I look back on my leveling days and laugh I really had no idea what I was doing.


Unknown said...

Try DrDamage, it puts tons of info straight on the tooltip. Not just the coefficient but HPM and spam-HPM for spells like regrowth.

Anonymous said...

yeah i know what you mean.

for good loot for a couple of slots i've just started some pvp and find i am learning new things about my druid and my skills !

and i've been playing since day 1 of wow and the druid is my only 70!

and tanking in heroics i have now started to sometimes use barkskin+hurricane to pull rather than a moonfire.

Anonymous said...

Druids are complicated is an understatement..

::sigh:: I'm a happy 70 tree. Always have been, leveled all the way as resto. NOW, though, with doing heroics and raids I'm getting... um... 'encouraged' to take on feral gear so it doesnt get sharded.

So I look at this stuff and realize I really dont know nearly as much about a druid's feral aspects as I probably should for a member of my class. So now, I am off to begin to learn that.

Gaaah!!!! There's still HEALING issues I'm working on...

Sir Sannhet said...

To be honest, although you might not agree with me, the only class I was ever naturally good at was hunter. Some people might even make the argument that hunter is easy. It took a lot of trial-and-error to get good at either my pally or my warrior, and I think playing every spec at least once before picking my favorite had a lot to do with my "expertise" with them.
That being said, I still miss being a hunter, and when and if I begin playing again, it'll be a hard decision between kiting as a hunter and smashing face as a pally.
- Button

ThRiNiDiR said...

great post and even better entreaty, but you are preaching to the already convinced; I'm absolutely sure, that anybody who takes time and reads blogs about their class or wow in general tends to be considerate and nice :)...

btw...i'm coming back to wow after two years of "vacation" time (dropped the game just some while after I ticked the lvl60 cap; I guess the guild I was in just didn't work for me and the game lost some sense of fun for me); this time i've changed server (to the one that my good friend is one), rolled another druid (the first one was full resto all the time, I'll try tanking with this one :)) and hope to have a great time.


Anonymous said...

So what do you do when they don't want to learn?

Anonymous said...

Yeah its good to take the time and help less experienced people learn how to play their character, especially in harder heroics, assuming they are open to the help, and if they need it I guess they usually are. If the people are in your guild it is totally worth the time to help them learn because chances are you'll be playing with them quite a bit and your patience and training will pay off down the road. I learned a lot just leveling my characters, and leveling with other people. Also there's a lot to be said for a bit of healthy competition with friends who play the same class/spec as you. Great post Bell

Anonymous said...

One thing I'm confused about from your post. As an experienced feral tank, I do the vast majority of my pulls with FFF. It saves me rage from chain pulls and goes very smoothly. I can't fathom why you'd need to have a lifebloom on the tank early enough for you to pull aggro. Also, you mention that the tank was trying to tank multiple mobs. Between the Mage's polymorph and the Rogue's saps, there's only a few pulls in SV that should require more than 2 mobs being tanked by the druid. Plus, since you had 2 ferals, split tanking was also an option. Another point is that you should be using Omen so you can monitor your threat and see the tank's threat per second. In my mixed Badge/T4/T5 gear, I regularly do 12-1500 TPS depending on damage in. There's no way a healer could take aggro from me after my initial mangle, Feral Faerie Fire pull or not.

Anonymous said...

Hi All, I dunno if this blog is still carryon since it stop last year. I'm a Taiwan server player of resto TOL.

My initial stage of playing this druid is really tough as i have never been a resto before.

After playing much and had my experience in naxx, then i realise all the while i'm playing before starting naxx has been heal wrongly.

So was self refresh and learn again and find out more under this blog and yeah.. i am not pro but won't let a person die off so easily now.

Teaching? i can't teach or help anyone which is newer than me.. but i'm also learning from everyone including noob..why ? even they are new, this give me more pratically healing power to learn. Its a challenge~

Perhap, i may talking nonsense but it is all my opinion.

Bell said...

@anonymous - don't worry, the blog's still going! You're in the archives, you can read from the beginning at

All healing in the beginning is tough. Even after healing on my druid for a long time, healing on my paladin took a lot of work to do it right. If you ever need any specific help, feel free to e-mail me at 4haelz AT gmail DOT com or to talk to me on AIM with my screenname JuiceboxDani

I'll be happy to help however I can.