In preparation for the updates to our guides for Mists of Pandaria Patch 5.0.4, we are releasing articles such as this one, explaining what has changed for a particular class and spec, and what the new rotation is likely to be.
Keep in mind that this is still a work in progress (both from Blizzard's side and from our own) and that this article assumes you are at least somewhat familiar with the Cataclysm version of the Balance Druid rotation and playstyle (such as from reading our guide).
We will first list the most important changes to the Balance Druid Cataclysm abilities, and then we will proceed to explaining the (likely to be) optimal rotation. Keep in mind that we do not document every single change or new ability, only those that impact the rotation.
Finally, we will give you some information about the most useful talents and glyphs you should choose.
- Astral Communion is an ability that allows you to change your Lunar or Solar power, when outside of combat. It is ideal for setting up an Eclipse for the start of a fight.
- Celestial Alignment is a powerful DPS cooldown that lasts for 15 seconds. It simultaneously grants you the damage bonuses of both eclipse states (50% increase to both Nature and Arcane damage). Additionally, when you cast Moonfire, Sunfire is automatically applied (both DoTs will be up at the same time). Finally, when you use this cooldown, your Lunar/Solar Energy is reset, and you cannot generate any energy for its 15 second duration.
- Might of Ursoc is a cooldown that increases your current and maximum health by 30% for 20 seconds. Using it activates Bear Form (and cancelling Bear Form also cancels the effect). It can prove to be a useful cooldown if your own survival is of utmost importance.
- Tier 4 talents offer a choice between Soul of the Forest, Incarnation: Chosen of Elune, and Force of Nature. We discuss these talents in greater depth in the Talents section.
- Tier 6 talents offer a choice between Heart of the Wild, Dream of Cenarius, and Nature's Vigil. We discuss these talents in greater depth in the Talents section.
- Symbiosis is a buff that you can place on one party or raid member. The buff lasts for 1 hour, and grants you an ability belonging to the target's class, depending on what your specialisation is. At the same time, the target receives one of your spells. A full list of all the buffs granted by Symbiosis can be found here. Note that these spells are still likely to change.
Changes to Existing Mechanics
- Moonfire and Sunfire are no longer mutually exclusive, nor do they depend on your current eclipse state. They are both DoTs that you can keep up at the same time.
- Eclipse has been slightly changed. Entering an eclipse state grants you 15% spell haste for 15 seconds (previously provided, in a slightly different format, by the now removed Nature's Grace talent) and you also regenerate 35% of your maximum mana.
- When in a Lunar Eclipse, your Hurricane (which deals Nature damage) is replaced by Astral Storm (which deals Arcane damage). For all intents and purpose, Hurricane and Astral Storm are identical, with the exception of their damage schools.
- Entering a Lunar Eclipse resets the cooldown of Starfall.
- You gain Lunar Shower by default as a passive ability. This used to be provided by an optional talent in Cataclysm. The only difference between the Cataclysm version and the Mists of Pandaria version is that Moonfire and Sunfire no longer grant you energy while under the Lunar Shower effect.
- Insect Swarm has been removed.
Rotation and Spell UsageThe basic rotation has remained unchanged from its Cataclysm version (detailed in our guide). A few changes are worth mentioning:
- You can now, thanks to Astral Communion, choose which eclipse to be in at the start of the fight. This will affect your opening rotation, depending on which eclipse state you choose.
- You can and should keep both Moonfire and Sunfire up at all times.
- Starfall can and should be cast more often.
- Apply Moonfire and Sunfire, and refresh them before they expire.
- Cast Starsurge on cooldown (its cooldown still has a chance to be reset by Shooting Stars).
- Cast Wrath until you enter a Lunar Eclipse.
- Cast Starfire until you enter a Solar Eclipse.
- Cast Starfall each time you enter a Solar Eclipse. You may, of course, want to delay it slightly so that it is timed when a large number of adds need to be bursted down.
Cooldown UsageYou now have several DPS cooldowns (this was not the case in Cataclysm), depending on what talents you choose. Note that Incarnation: Chosen of Elune and Force of Nature are mutually exclusive.
- Celestial Alignment, Incarnation: Chosen of Elune, and Nature's Vigil are all on 3 minute cooldowns, so they should be stacked whenever possible.
- Force of Nature is on a one minute cooldown, and it should be used as many times as possible during the fight.
TalentsTier 1 talents offer a choice between 3 means of increasing your movement abilities:
- Feline Swiftness is a passive ability that increases your movement speed by 15% at all times.
- Displacer Beast is an active ability that teleports you 20 yards forward and activates Cat Form and Prowl.
- Wild Charge is an active ability that differs based on the shapeshift form you are in, as follows:
- No shapeshift form: you fly to an ally's location.
- Moonkin Form: you leap backwards.
- Bear Form: you charge an enemy, immobilizing them for 4 seconds.
- Cat Form: you leap behind an enemy, dazing them for 3 seconds.
- Travel Form: you leap forwards 20 yards.
- Aquatic Form: your swim speed is increased by 150% for 5 seconds.
Tier 2 talents offer a choice between 3 healing spells:
- Nature's Swiftness is an active healing cooldown that makes your next Healing Touch, Nourish, or Regrowth instant cast and free of mana cost. Moreover, it increases both the potency of the spell and the spell's duration (in the case of HoTs) by 50%. Nature's Swiftness also affects some utility spells, but this is less important.
- Renewal is a powerful self-heal with a 2 minute cooldown.
- Cenarion Ward is a buff that you can place on a friendly player, lasting up to 30 seconds. When the player takes damage, Cenarion Ward activates a powerful 6-second HoT on them, consuming the buff in the process (meaning that it will only trigger one HoT per Cenarion Ward).
Tier 3 talents offer a choice between 3 crowd control spells:
- Faerie Swarm is a spell that replaces Faerie Fire, upgrading the latter spell, causing it to also slow the target's movement speed by 50% for 15 seconds.
- Mass Entanglement is an AoE root, that roots up to 5 targets in place.
- Typhoon is a spell that affects targets in a cone in front of you, knocking them back and dazing them for 6 seconds.
Tier 4 talents offer a choice between 3 talents that each significantly improve your DPS:
- Soul of the Forest automatically grants you 20 Lunar Energy each time you exit a Solar Eclipse and 20 Solar Energy each time you exit a Lunar Eclipse. In pratice, this will make it easier for you to get from one Eclipse to the other.
- Incarnation: Chosen of Elune is a DPS cooldown that increases all Nature and Arcane damage by 25% while Eclipse is active, for 30 seconds.
- Force of Nature is an active ability that summons 3 treants for 15 seconds. The treants deal a moderate amount of damage.
Tier 5 talents offer a choice between 3 crowd-control spells:
- Disorienting Roar is an AoE disorient that lasts for 3 seconds and affects all enemies in a 10 yard radius.
- Ursol's Vortex is a targeted AoE slow. When enemies first try to leave the slowing area, they are pulled back in.
- Mighty Bash is a single target 5 second stun.
Tier 6 talents offer a choice between 3 talents that can affect your gameplay:
- Heart of the Wild increases your Stamina, Agility, and Intellect by 6% at all times. Additionally, with a 6-minute cooldown, it allows you to viably perform roles outside of your Balance specialisation, for 45 seconds:
- allows you to tank in Bear Form, by ensuring that you are not susceptible to critical hits, that you gain Vengeance from damage taken, and that your melee stats and your armor are increased;
- allows you to DPS in Cat Form, by increasing your Agility, Expertise, and Hit Chance;
- allows you to heal efficiently, by increasing the healing of your spells by 100% and reducing the mana cost of your healing spells by 100%.
- Dream of Cenarius is a passive ability that grants you a healing bonus each time you deal damage, and a damaging bonus each time you heal.
- Casting Wrath, Starfire, and Starsurge, or performing a melee attack increases the healing of your next healing spell (except Tranquility) by 30%.
- Casting Nourish, Healing Touch, and Regrowth increases the damage of your next 2 Moonfire or Sunfire by 100%, or the damage done by your next 2 melee abilities by 30%.
- Nature's Vigil is a 3-minute cooldown that increases all healing and damage done by 20% for 30 seconds. While Nature's Vigil is active, all single target healing spells also damage a nearby enemy for 25% of the healing done, and all single target damage spells also heal a nearby ally for 25% of the damage done.
Dream of Cenarius may be useful over the course of the fight, if you are having to resort to playing a hybrid role of DPS-healer. The exact efficiency of this spell must still be determined.
Nature's Vigil is a very straightforward and quite powerful DPS cooldown, that we believe will be the default choice in encounters where you do not need to heal.
GlyphsThere are several Major Glyphs that are useful to you as a Balance Druid, although none affects your DPS performance directly.
- Glyph of Rebirth remains unchanged from Cataclysm. It resurrects players with full health. This is a near-mandatory glyph for raiders. However, since it now shares a category (Major Glyphs) with other important glyphs, it may be best to only use it when absolutely necessary, namely on encounters where there is a lot of AoE damage that can kill a newly-resurrected player.
- Glyph of The Moonbeast allows you to cast Rebirth, Tranquility, Healing Touch, and Rejuvenation without canceling Moonkin Form.
- Glyph of Innervate causes your Innervate to regenerate 10% of your maximum mana when cast on other players, in addition to regenerating their mana. This glyph will be useful when you find yourself regularly casting Innervate on other healers.
- Glyph of Stampede removes any form requirement from Stampeding Roar. In the event that your assignment is to cast Stampeding Roar, this glyph may prove slightly beneficial to you.
- Glyph of Stampeding Roar increases the radius of Stampeding Roar by 30 yards. This glyph may be useful in certain situations.
This concludes our Balance Druid preview for Mists of Pandaria. We hope you have enjoyed reading it and that it proved useful to you. As always, we are looking forward to reading your opinions on the matter!