I don't normally blog on the weekends, it is something I generally do to pass the time at work. However, I was debating which class to do for the next installment, and the idea just sort of came upon me.
The druid. I actually have rolled more druids than any other class. Some would think the phrase "jack of all trades, master of none" would be appropriate to describe the druid. It isn't. While they lack the stun and sap capabilities of the rogue, the mitigation of the paladin or warrior, and the raw sustained damage of a mage or warlock, druids are just as effective in any role as the classes that on the surface may seem more suitable.
Strengths: Versitility. No matter which talent tree a player goes down (I personally prefer feral for leveling, at least to 40), there are multiple tools to get the job done. No other class can stealth one minute, switch to a tank form the next, then root enemies, back away and heal themselves. When played correctly, druids are extremely efficient and level quickly with very little down time. Another boon to druid solo play is free flight form. Not only free, but 2 levels before anyone else has access.
Weaknesses: Complexity. Druids cannot be played effectively by someone who does not understand the game. They offer so many different options, selecting the correct one for a given task can be difficult. The dynamic of utilizing the druids different forms can be frustrating and lead to quite a few trips from the graveyard.
Strengths: There is no role a druid cannot fill in a group. Tank, caster DPS, melee DPS, healer, the druid can fill all of these roles. The druid also brings powerful buffs to the group, all druids will boost attributes and can give an ability that damages on hit. In their moonkin form, druids also increase the critical chance of party members.
Weaknesses: Further into the game, druids pretty much have to follow their talent tree. Feral druids will be unsuitable for healing duties and a restoration druid should be the group's tanking option. However, in their chosen roles, they don't suffer from any real weaknesses in group play.
Strengths: Depends on their spec. Balance druids are a nightmare for multiple classes due to strong root abilities, the ability to shape shift out of polymorph, and being much tougher than any other caster class. Feral druids have increased stealth and damage from stealth and can do well against casters.
Weaknesses: Feral druids don't have the armor or additional abilities to keep up with melee characters (paladin, warrior, rogue, enhancement shammy). Once they leave stealth, they are toast. Hunters can fear them, and track them when in beast form. Other druids can hibernate them in beast form. Balance druids suffer from mana dependance, a trait they share with other casters.
Feral: The predominant leveling spec before level 40 (when moonkin form becomes avaialable), feral has been continually streamlined and improved and is a very good choice for solo players. Cat form offers high DPS and an almost instant switch to bear form and dire bear form gives high survivability. Druid tanks are now a solid option as instance main tanks and have very high health and armor allowing them to take a large amount of punishment.
Balance: The balance tree speciliazes in caster DPS. With minimal talents selected from the restoration tree, it becomes more mana efficient. Although it may not be able to do quite as much damage as a Mage or Warlock, balance is a very strong choice for players who want a caster with a little more overall utility.
Restoration: Not generally used for leveling, restoration is a strong build for endgame healing. It is what it is, tree form druids get strong, efficient heals, both over time and straight casts that allow them to heal any content in the game if properly geared.
Hybrid: Although all classes are capable of "Hybrid" specs (i.e. not an overwelming amount of talent points spent in one tree), it is very common to see druid hybrids due to their inherent utility. Really, any combination of Balance, Resto, and Feral is possible, with "Restokin" (Balance up to moonkin with a heavy expenditure in restoration) being the most common hybrid. Hybrid druids are generally designed to do something specific, and do that job extremely well. The Restokin as an example is a very good balance between DPS and healing.
If I had to pick one character to play and I wasn't allowed to play any alts, I would pick a druid and be happy. They are more than capable in any role a person could desire to play, which role is chosen is matter of personal preferrence. Isnt that how it should be?
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