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Starym

Balance Druid in the Shadowlands: Class Recommendations and Spec Highlights

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Update: the Balance pre-patch guide is ready and you can check it out here:
Balance Druid Shadowlands Guide

It's back to Druids in our Shadowlands class overview, as we move from healing to DPS, as boomkins take over. Balance guide writer Bora takes a look at the Covenant choices and baseline additions, as well as some legendaries, but the main takeaway is that the spec is fun to play and in a good place mechanically, although the numbers aren't quite there yet.

Exciting Changes for Balance Druids in Shadowlands

Shadowlands boasts a return to form for the Balance Druid class through the introduction of new throughput spells and abilities in Covenants, un-pruned utility, and the removal of the unwieldy 2-resource system of BfA and Legion.
 

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Covenant Choices

Night Fae - Convoke the Spirits Convoke the Spirits

Call upon the Night Fae for an eruption of energy, channeling a rapid flurry of 12 Druid spells and abilities over 4 sec.

Convoke is one of the more satisfying button presses in the expansion. Even though it was recently nerfed from 16 random spells to 12, it is still a strong and competitive ability on up to several targets. Even from aesthetics alone, it is visually a beautifully designed spell. To make things even better, it has a small chance to drop a Full Moon Full Moon on the target, which generates 40 Astral Power on top of looking amazing.

Venthyr - Ravenous Frenzy Ravenous Frenzy

For 20 sec, Druid spells you cast increase your damage, healing, and haste by 2%, stacking. If you spend 1.5 sec idle, the Frenzy overcomes you, consuming 3% of your health per stack, stunning you for 1 sec, and ending.

While not as visually appealing as Convoke the Spirits with its red, smokey mist, is still a great all around ability. This spell syncs up well with Celestial Alignment Celestial Alignment and has great throughput potential on both single and multi-target. When you are inside this cooldown, you begin to epitomize a spell casting machine gun. This increased generation synergizes very well with the Eclipse Eclipse system leading to some very large numbers at the tail end of your cooldowns. Just remember your ABC’s, always be casting.
 

ability_nightfae_soulshape.jpg Soulshape and Door of Shadows Door of Shadows bring additional mobility to the spec in the form of blinks which have not been in the kit since Displacer Beast. While short range mobility has never been a problem for the class, large gaps of movement or frequent movement are heavily punishing. Door of Shadows looks fantastic for almost any sort of encounter raid or dungeon alike as a long range teleport is never bad. Soulshape looks as though it could easily fill some sort of niche movement for certain fights but will at least be another improved Cat Form Cat Form.

You can also check out all the other Balance and other spec Covenant abilities here.
 

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Baseline Improvements

One of the more exciting changes for me was the removal of Empowerment charges. I believe as a player it was not that big of a deal but from a design standpoint, a two resource system was choking class design for two expansions. Fillers are a crucial part of the spec in a builder-spender relationship, but became increasingly one-dimensional as time progressed. I believe the Eclipse Eclipse system better captures a healthy design philosophy and opens the door for more healthy changes.

Starfall Starfall is back. Well, a useable Starfall is at least. It was hit with nerf after nerf in BfA and the direction of the class was moved further away from multi-target and that power was put into Starsurge Starsurge. Starfall has returned to its Warlords of Draenor iteration, being an aura spell that damages enemies in a large radius. This massive spell also brings a 10-second casting while moving buff when talented into Stellar Drift Stellar Drift.

Shooting Stars Shooting Stars is now baked directly into the class. This is a good first step in making our DoTs interact directly with the class and give them some purpose other than free damage. While Shooting Stars still has diminishing returns, it is valuable Astral Power generation on both single and multi-target, which smooths out the rotation considerably.

Typhoon Typhoon is baseline, Mighty Bash Mighty Bash and Mass Entanglement Mass Entanglement are still talentable, and there is an additional multi-target control ability in either Incapacitating Roar Incapacitating Roar or Ursol's Vortex Ursol's Vortex. Along with spell_nature_earthbind.jpg?35789 Cyclone which has its own uses in instanced content and Stampeding Roar Stampeding Roar, Balance Druid is absolutely brimming with utility of every form. Heart of the Wild Heart of the Wild is even back as a talent allowing for clutch taunt saves or heals.
 

Legendaries

Right now the two most usable legendaries are Primordial Arcanic Pulsar Primordial Arcanic Pulsar, whose effect has been used all of Battle for Azeroth but still suits the kit, and Balance of All Things Balance of All Things. Balance of All Things is a nice frontloaded legendary with strong synergy within the builder-spender rotation. I would like to see Timeworn Dreambinder Timeworn Dreambinder be usable in the future with more Astral Power generation, but i fear that it may be too niche to be usable with its current effect.
 

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Conclusion

The most recent wave of changes looks very promising for Balance Druids. While currently we do low damage on Beta, tuning is yet to be done and the feel of the class is what is important.

Balance Druid looks as though it will be easy to grasp for new players while still challenging the min-maxers through Astral Power and Eclipse buff management. Do be warned, you may run out of keybinds this expansion, so start stretching your fingers as you may need to reach for a few.
 

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Other Spec Highlights:

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