Now that we’re a week into the Cataclysm, and I actually have some enforced downtime (thanks, maintenance), I thought I’d share with you my initial thoughts about balance druids in PvE at 85.
I think balance druids really shine in heroic dungeons. We have some incredible CC and damage mitigation that’s unparalleled by other classes. With [spell]hibernate[/spell] for dragonkin, [spell]Entangling Roots[/spell] for melee mobs, and [spell]Solar Beam[/spell] to drop on a kill pack and provide 15 seconds of silence (when glyphed), we’re great at both control and tank mitigation. Besides this, we can offer an [spell]innervate[/spell] to the healer as well as provide a clutch [spell]rebirth[/spell]. Being a balance druid shouldn’t hinder your chances at a heroic dungeon, and in my opinion, they should probably be glad you’re there.
I’ve found balance druids to be very on-par with every other class when it comes to viable damage output. On top of this, we provide some great utility. Currently, I spec for maximum mana conservation and maximum mana pool so that my innervates may be given to our healers. This is a very powerful tool during any encounter right now as healer mana pools are at a prime. (As a balance druid, with this method you should probably have the most mana of any class in your raid). Also, a glyphed [spell]Rebirth[/spell] can really make the difference between a wipe or a boss kill, as you can instantly resurrect your tank at full health (and spare your healers a ton of mana trying to top off 175k health).
A few tips:
Become friends with a scribe. Having a stack of [item]Dust of Disappearance[/item] handy is going to make you even more versatile. I usually swap out two or three glyphs depending on whether I am in a raid or in a 5man. In a 5 mans, [item]Glyph of Solar Beam[/item], [item]Glyph of Focus[/item], and [item]Glyph of Starfall[/item] are usually ideal. Depending on the dungeon, you may want to swap out Solar Beam for [item]Glyph of Entangling Roots[/item]. I find the glyph of focus to be MANDATORY for 5 mans, as most dungeons have such tight trash packs that starfall is rendered useless unless you can half it’s radius.
For raiding, I usually prefer [item]Glyph of Starfall[/item], [item]Glyph of Innervate[/item], and [item]Glyph of Rebirth[/item]. I really think these are fairly mandatory, and all druids should have the rebirth glyph.
[item]Glyph of Innervate[/item] is a very powerful glyph when all mana-wielding druids have it. This is going to allow multiple druids to buddy up and “cross innervates”, so each of them will gain a 20% innervate from another druid as well as 10% of their own innervate, yielding 30% mana return instead of the standard 20% they would normally return. Also, as a balance druid you should be able to effectively manage your own mana to the point that you can innervate a restoration druid and they can innervate another healer. This will provide you with 10% mana return, the restoration druid with 30% mana return, and another healer with 20% mana return. This is a net gain of 20% mana return over the restoration druid using their innervate on their own self and the balance druid using theirs on another healer.
Welp, that about wraps it up. What are your thoughts?