Druid builds

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For old builds preceding Patch 4.0.1, see Druid builds/Archive.
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Though Druids are a hybrid class, the differences between builds of the same specialization tend to be fairly minor because of the great amount of must-have talents embedded inside each tree. The 3 trees are Balance, which improves the druid's ranged DPS, Feral, which improve the druid's animal forms, allowing him to Tank or Melee DPS effectively, and Restoration, which improves the druid's healing abilities.

Until Patch 4.0.1, hybrid builds were fairly popular even after the advent of dual specializations, to have some particular talents from each tree or create Druids that could function reasonably well in multiple roles. The Druid has been called "jack of all trades, master of none", and in some ways it was possible for some characters to do that all in one fight. After Patch 4.0.1, obviously, that isn't possible any more, but there is still a fair amount of room for choice of how many talent points to put which secondary trees.

Balance

Balance druids specialize in caster dps, like a mage with antlers.

From [Elitist Jerks]: "Any PvE Balance spec will include the following talents: Nature's Grace, Starlight Wrath, Nature's Majesty, Genesis, Balance of Power, Euphoria, Moonkin Form, Shooting Stars, Force of Nature, Sunfire, Earth and Moon, Lunar Shower, Starfall, Natural Shapeshifter, Heart of the Wild, Master Shapeshifter. That leaves 10 points, 6 of which must be in the Balance tree (2 in tier 4 or below), mostly up to you."

Sample builds follow.

Leveling (31/0/5)

PurposeLeveling from 80 to 85
Talent Link(s) Wowhead
Tested patch4.0.3a

Suggested for use when characters that existed before Cataclysm first leave Northrend and go to the new Cataclysm areas. New druids leveling as balance may follow this spec as well; when putting points in this while leveling, it's generally a good idea to take utility talents as soon as they are available but otherwise the order of point allotment shouldn't matter too much.

The only utility talent missing from this is Fungal Growth, and that is not nearly as effective before you have Wild Mushroom, which you get at 85. Mana should not be an issue while leveling, and if it is, just sit down and drink. However, if you feel that hit rating isn't important while leveling, the points in Balance of Power could be put in Dreamstate instead and you'd never have any mana problems.

Balance dps (32/3/6)

PurposeRaiding
Talent Link(s) Wowhead
Tested patch4.0.3a

This spec has most of the utility talents (Solar Beam, Typhoon, etc.) just in case, but lacks Fungal Growth. The points in Dreamstate will depend on your guild and raid composition: if your healers frequently need help with mana, then Dreamstate will be wasted and those 2 points could be spent on Olwkin Frenzy, Gale Winds, or Blessing of the Grove for incremental increases in DPS depending on playstyle and how things normally go for you.

Balance PvP (31/0/10)

PurposePvP
Talent Link(s) Wowhead
Tested patch4.0.3a

Still primarily caster DPS, this build forgoes mana efficiency in favor of all the mobility, utility and survivability talents possible. Not tested.

Feral Combat

Feral druids specialize in animal forms: [Cat Form] for physical damage and [Bear Form] for tanking.

Feral leveling (0/31/0)

PurposeLeveling as feral
Talent Link(s) Wowhead
Tested patch4.0.3

This build will get you into Northrend before you need to respec or worry about other trees. DPS with this build will probably be mediocre at best, but the ability to tank instances on the side should more than make up for that. In addition, this build has all the self-healing abilities so you can solo quest and grind with basically no downtime.

Feral Tank (0/32/9)

PurposeRaiding
Talent Link(s) Wowhead
Tested patch4.0.3a

Basic tank build that takes all Bear talents.

Feral DPS (0/32/6)

PurposeRaiding
Talent Link(s) Wowhead
Tested patch4.0.3

Basic DPS build that takes all Cat talents, leaving three talent points left for personal customization.

Feral DPS (0/35/6)

PurposeCat off-tanking
Talent Link(s) Wowhead
Tested patch4.0.3

The interesting thing about feral druids is that they can potentially fill two different roles in the middle of a fight, and this build maximizes that: it gives up some utility and situational DPS talents and takes the basic tanking talents instead. A druid with this build will not be able to handle being the main tank in end-game raiding and will not have the top DPS either, but might be enough for regular dungeons and some heroics, and if the main tank dies in the middle of a heroic or raid encounter, a druid with this build will be able to tank for a few valuable seconds simply by switching forms and taunting the boss. (If the boss is tauntable, of course...)

Restoration

The Restoration tree empowers the druid's heal over time spells (HoTs) and their other direct healing spells.

Basic Restoration (2/0/34)

PurposeRaiding
Talent Link(s) Wowhead
Tested patch4.0.1

Takes all of the talents that improve healing throughput. If you find that you have mana problems then fill out Furor and put points in Moonglow.

Leveling Restoration (2/3/31)

PurposeLeveling
Talent Link(s) Wowhead
Tested patch4.0.1

Focuses on mana regen and your pre-80 heals. Once you hit level 80, you will want to switch to a end-game resto spec. Note that this is only meant for grouping; despite the fact that resto druids can get a few DPS talents, it is not recommended to level like that.

Resto dps (10/0/31)

PurposeHealing while throwing a little dps in
Talent Link(s) Wowhead
Tested patch4.0.3

Resto DPS + High hit rating w/Spirit (10/0/31)

PurposeHealing & decent DPS
Talent Link(s) Wowhead
Tested patch4.2.0 PTR

One change in Cataclysm is that every healing spec now has a few dps talents thrown in. Mostly these are optional; some people will put their extra points in utility talents, some will put them in survivability, et cetera, and some may put them in dps. This spec, while still being basically a healing spec, uses every dps talent available to resto druids. In particular, the Fury of Stormrage talent deep in the resto tree makes Wrath completely free and gives you a chance to make Starfire instant cast. On top of the standard dps talents from early in the balance tree, and the Tree of Life's bonus of reduced cast time and increased damage to Wrath, this should give resto druids substantial damage when they aren't busy healing.

This spec is meant for druids leveling as resto who don't have a dual spec or have it but want to use their other spec for something else, and healers in groups and raids who will have the time free to not be healing constantly and help with dps a little bit. Completely untested.