Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Moonkin Leveling Spec and Glyphs

This seems to be a little bit of a hot topic lately. Lissanna did a post last week detailing what spec choices she recommends while leveling. And then a few days after that Allison Roberts did a post on WoW.com with the leveling spec she would recommend if you choose to level as balance. Looking over both of those recommendations I don't see anything glaringly out of whack, but I'd probably do things a little differently. Here are the choices I would make if I was leveling a moonkin today.

I do want to say one other thing before we get into the meat of the topic. I have done a lot of math on a lot of these talents, but all of that math was done from the perspective of a max level character looking to raid. The comments I will make here are based almost entirely on my experience with moonkin and leveling characters. I have not done any math specifically for this post.

My Leveling Philosophy:

There are a lot of different ways to level. Some people like to go slow and steady to experience the content. Some others like to do PvP or run a bunch of instances. I am neither of these types. I have one primary goal while leveling: Get to the next level as quick as possible. Therefore I make some choices in this process that may seem a little strange. Here are some specifics:
  1. DoTs - In short, I don't like them. Both MF and IS are 12 second DoTs not talented and in my experience single targets quicker then that, Therefore part of the DoT is wasted due to mob death. On top of that Moonfire is very inefficient even when used to its maximum potential.

  2. Damage Over Completion - I won't worry about maximizing a talent if I think there is a better talent in the next tier. There will be a few times when I put two or three points in a talent and then move on. Its not that the talents bad it’s just that I think the next one is better.

  3. What Roots? - I'm a nuker. I don't care if a mob comes up and beats on me for a little bit.

  4. Efficiency - The more you drink the less you DPS, therefore I like mana talents.

The Guide: I really like Lissanna's format so I'm stealing it.

  • 10-14: Starlight Wrath 5/5 – This is a pretty obvious choice. Reducing the cast time of your nukes is always good and Genesis is a horrible talent for DPSers.

  • 15: Glyphs: Glyph of Wrath and Glyph of Thorns - To be honest, the moonkin glyphs aren't that good for leveling. They are much more focused on raiding. I picked the Glyph of Wrath because pushback is always nice. I choose Glyph of Thorns because I always forget to refresh my thorns.

  • 15-17: Moonglow 3/3 - Tier 2 of the Balance tree is not a very good tier. Both of the talents I pick here have more to do with getting to the next tier rather than the quality of the talents. I pick Moonglow first because better efficacy will help you last longer and you won't get much out of the other two talents at first.

  • 18 -19: Nature's Majesty 2/2 - The extra crit provided by Nature's Majesty is nice, but Crit really isn't that big of a stat for leveling. Not only is your crit rate so low that you don't feel much impact, but Mobs have such low health that, some of your crits will be wasted. Not a great stat for leveling, but it is better than Imp Moonfire.

  • 20-21: Nature's Reach 2/2 - A little extra range is always nice. Some people underestimate this talent. It's not an obvious winner, but I think the extra range helps with runners, and can help you with difficult pulls.

  • 22-24: Nature's Grace 3/3 - Not a good talent for leveling. The buff is up for a very short period of time so it will be wasted a lot while you switch targets. That said, I would personally use it more than Brambles. If you are more of a Root and Nuke player then definitely go with Brambles instead.

  • 25-27: Celestial Focus 3/3 - This is a great leveling talent and I am really surprised that Lissanna decided to wait until level 31 to pick it up. Haste is a great leveling stat. It is the only stat that guarantees you to kill a mob faster. On top of that you have pushback resistance for one of your primary spells. This is an all around great talent.

  • 28-29: Vengeance 2/5 - For Vengeance to be really effective you have to have a fairly high crit chance, and at the lower levels that just isn't the case. I leveled my druid a really long time ago, but on all of my alts my Crit chance has been less then 10% at this point. On top of that critical strikes aren't as effective against mobs with relatively low health. If you really like this talent, don't worry. I will come back to it.

  • 30: Glyph: Glyph of Entangling Roots - At level 30 you get another major glyph. I go with this glyph for 2 reasons. The first is a complete lack of options. There isn't a better glyph in my opinion. Second, even if you don't root often there will be times you need to root. This way the roots will hold a little longer.

  • 30-32: Lunar Guidance 3/3 - Once again I want to remind you that I didn't do any math specifically to evaluate the talents for a leveling build. However, my gut says that Lunar Guidance is better then Vengeance at the lower levels. The great thing about Lunar Guidance is that it will improve as you improve. Intelligence will be on almost all of your gear upgrades and you will get some each time you ding.

  • 33-34: Vengeance 4/5 - See, I told you we would be back. However, I still don't max it out for the same reasons as before.

  • 35-37: Moonfury 3/3 - Your standard DPS increasing talent. This is a great talent.

  • 38-39: Balance of Power 2/2 - Some of you may be a little surprised by this choice. Many people view Balance of Power as a raiding talent because they don't think you need hit while leveling. That is not necessarily true. You have a base 5% chance to miss a mob that is the same level as you. So, if you tend to fight mobs that are close to your level or higher this is a great talent. If you tend to fight mobs that are 2 or more levels below you will get less out of it.

  • 40: Moonkin Form 1/1 - WOOT!!! Now you get to walk around looking like a chicken. The benefits of this talent are obvious, and I expect this is the reason most people choose this tree.

  • 41-43: Improved Moonkin Form 3/3 - Another great talent. As I said before Haste is a great leveling stat. On top of that you also will get additional Spell Power from your spirit now. Like Int you will be picking up a lot of spirit from gear and you also pick up some just by dinging.

  • 44: Vengeance 5/5 - We finally max out this talent, and it's really a good time to also. You now have a 9% crit chance from talents alone, and should have a decent amount from stats. Vengeance is starting to be more affective.

  • 45-49: Wrath of Cenarius 5/5 - I debate placing this one here a little bit. For this talent to be affective you have to have a decent amount of spell power, and there isn't a lot of it as you level up. That said, I have notice more of it now when I level my Mage and Shaman than when I leveled my Druid. On top of that we have quite a bit of Spell Power from Int and Spirit. It’s a decent damage increase at this point, but will get a lot better when you get all of the great gear in Outland.

  • 50: Glyph: Glyph of Unburdened Rebirth - You pick up another minor glyph slot at level 50. If you don't group you won't use this one much, but it is the only glyph that every max level druid should have. Not having to pick up reagents is great and there aren't any better glyphs.

  • 50-52: Owlkin Frenzy 3/3 - Primarily a PvP talent, Owlkin Frenzy has some benefits for leveling as well. If you’re a Nuker like me, then it will provide a little extra damage, pushback resistance, and now will give you some mana. All of these are great things.

  • 53: Force of Nature 1/1 - Your Trents are a bit of a situational ability. I don't use them a lot while leveling, but there are times when I find them very useful. In my experience, many of the group quests in WoW are soloable if you do them correctly and there are always those quests that are a little tougher then expected. I like popping my trents on the mob so that they can hold aggro for a few seconds and get a little extra DPS off.

  • 54: Typhoon 1/1 - Another situational ability. If you've followed me for a while you know I don't like this talent for raiding, but I found it very useful leveling from 70-80. We've all had those times when we got a little over our head with the number of mobs we pulled. If you get into one of those tough situations, the knockback on Typhoon can save your life.

  • 55-57: Earth and Moon 3/3 - Another standard DPS increasing talent. The benefits are obvious.
The Tipping Point:

In my experience, with all of my alts, there seems to be a point where you've picked up all of the great talents, and nothing else you can pick really seems to matter. This is that point in the Balance tree. There are still some good talents left but you've picked up all of the heavy hitters. From here on out my choices are going to be a lot more debatable. Feel free to change the order or choose some different talents. I don't think you would be hurting yourself much if at all.
  • 58-62: Furor 5/5 - A decent talent that will give you more Int and therefore a little bit spell power, crit , and mana. The main reason to pick up this talent is to advance higher in the Resto tree.

  • 63-64: Improved Mark of the Wild 2/2 - Pretty much the same as Furor. It gives you a few more base stats that help in several ways, but the main thing is advancing in the tree.

  • 65-67: Natural Shapeshifter 3/3 - Not a good talent but it is a prereq for Master Shapeshifter, and it gets you to the next tier of the tree.

  • 68-69: Master Shapeshifter 2/2 - A good solid DPS increase.

  • 70: Glyphs: Glyph of Dash or Glyph of the Wild - To quote a lolcat: Minor glyphs are minor. I doesn't matter which one you pick or if you pick one at all, but these seem to be the most popular.

  • 70: Omen of Clarity 1/1 - The best mana conservation talent we have for just a single point.

  • 71-73: Dreamstate 3/3 - More mana = Less down time. Some of you may be thinking: "Wait! You told us that Intensity was better than Dreamstate 6 months ago. What gives?" That is true. Intensity is the better regen talent for raiders, but this is primarily due to raid buffs and the amount of spirit available from raid gear. A leveler is unlikely to have those buffs or stats from gear. Therefore Dreamstate is better in this situation.

  • 74-76: Intensity 3/3 - More mana = Less down time. Dreamstate may be better for leveling but Intensity is still good.

  • 77: Insect Swarm 1/1 - I still don't like DoTs for leveling, but it can have it uses. If you’re running instances or pulling large packs of mobs then it could be helpful.

  • 78-80: Improved Insect Swarm 3/3 - Its the last talent I pick for leveling so that just shows how important I think it is for leveling. Again, it could be helpful if you’re running instances.

  • 80: Glyph: At level 80 you pick up another Major glyph but I expect you'll be abandoning your leveling build soon. I don't know what the best glyphs are for PvP but for Raiding I suggest Starfire, Moonfire, and Insect Swarm.
Talents I skipped:
  • Nature's Focus - This is probably the most controversial omission. I stated three times how great pushback resistance is and I skip a talent with pushback resistance. I skipped it for a couple of reasons. First, it’s in the Resto tree. You'll notice I didn't put any points in the resto tree until level 58. That’s because I wanted to get all of the great talents in the Balance tree. Second, the glyph already provides some pushback resistance. Not enough bang for the buck. I could definitely see putting two points here instead of Imp MotW though.

  • Genesis - A horrible Moonkin talent. It's a minor buff to our DoTs and DoTs are a minor part of our DPS. The only this talent is here is for Resto Druids to advance farther in the balance tree.

  • Improved Moonfire - Since I don't like DoTs for leveling I passed this talent up. However, this is a nice talent if you use Moonfire regularly and it is un glyphed.

  • Brambles - A good talent that doesn't do much for my style of play. I don't root much and the buff to thorns and trents is fairly minor. However, I don't see any problem with picking this talent instead of Nature's Grace.

  • Improved Faerie Fire - Great raiding talent, but useless for leveling. There is no point in wasting the GCD to cast it.

  • Eclipse - Again, great raiding talent, but not great for leveling. There's just too much downtime between pulls for this talent to be really effective.

  • Gale Winds - I'm not big on AoE leveling, therefore this talent has little use for me. However, if you like to use AoE while leveling you will probably want to pick up this talent.

  • Starfall - Situationally useful, but most of the time it's a liability. There is no way to control who it hits and its range is deceptively large. However, it is great if you want to pull a large group of mobs.


Thorn said...

"Improved Faerie Fire - Great raiding talent, but useless for raiding."

I think that's a typo? :)

Anonymous said...

starfall --> barkskin --> hurricane literally carried me from 70-80. Combined with Rocket Boots to gather up as many mobs as possible, this combo rakes in XP especially in the Northrend starter zones.


Timothy said...

A perfect post for me as I've just started leveling a balance druid! I do have one question though, would you recommmend Leatherworking(speciallizing into Tribal) or Tailoring for gear?

Anonymous said...

I love this blog and the many things you post have helped me as well as many other boomers,.. but with a new content patch I'm a little shocked there is no talk of that,... no mention of the difficulty applying dots (because of no downtime) in 3.2; no mention of anything relevant to those boomers who read your blog most,..
while I'm complaining I understand that does not make your post less relevant,.. I just am left wanting more i guess.

Graylo said...


LOL!! Thanks for pointing it out.


My level 23 shaman is my only leatherworker so I can't claim to know a lot about the profession, but so far I am unimpressed with the caster gear available. I've leveled Leatherworking well beyond his level because I had all the mats from my mage and almost all of the gear was melee focused. Its been a while since I leveled tailoring but if your looking for gear I think it is better.

Tracey said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you! I love your bkog, but it's mostly irrelevant to my play -- I'm new and low-level and so many bloggers focus so exclusively on level-80 issues it's hard to find info relevant to leveling. This is beautiful! Level by level, with enough discussion to start to understand why certain talent. Love it!

Thorn said...

I'm a LW and it's only pure stubbornness (and the bracer enchant) that stops me dropping it. For levelling you can pick up what used to be healing leather or cloth drops now and with the latest revamp of the badge system you'll get better gear at 80 from doing instances with less hassle. I'd probably go herbalism & alchemy for potions & flasks rather than tailoring or LW if I were starting out now.

Anonymous said...

I like starfall in that, crits that proc will trigger the .5sec reduction in casting. It's not a huge, but hey while starfall is going, nearly all casts are .5sec reduced.

Phil said...

I have leatherworking maxxed, you get an enchant a +76 spell power on you bracers that makes it worth it in the end. I think +30 is the best a 450 enchanter can do for you on them... but I dont know what is best so if someone else does please post. I was thinking of doing enchanting and ditching skinning to get the big caster bonus for my rings but then I would need to lvl an alt's skinning to get matts.

~Gargen of US-Vek'nilash

Byron Hauck said...

I think you are vastly underestimating the usefulness of Glyph of Aquatic Form. Have you forgotten how much time 1-62 is spent underwater?

Otherwise, great guide. Boy has Moonkin leveling improved since my day.

Γιάννης said...

Smartly glyphed Starfall can be a very useful "oh sh...." talent that saves a lot of embarassment if we have to fight more than 3 mobs. The glyph improves damage sacrificing range :) just divine!

jinx said...

Starfall + Glyph of Focus = WIN. Starfall is free damage: it's instant cast and you can do other things while it's pummeling things. With Glyph of focus, it cuts the annoying range problem in half and adds 20% to damage.

Moonreaver said...

So after reading this post, I'm leveling a druid tomorrow, starting at level 1.

How is leveling balance the whole way to 80 compared to leveling feral? I'm one that is doing it for speed to get to end-game, I have 4 level 80's that I've personally leveled, one of them being a feral druid. I'd like to level Balance, but not if it's going to be WAY slower. Is it pretty close now? Thanks!

Moonreaver said...

Also, if I do decide to level balance, should I be stacking mostly Eagle gear up until outlands for stam/int, or should I go Owl for spi/int for the extra spell damage/regen the spirit will give me? Again, thanks for any responses!

Jen said...

Timothy, I second the tailoring suggestion. My balance druid is level 65 and a LW and I've crafted 4 items tops for her until now. 90% of LW gear is rogue/feral, so if the gear is all you're doing it for... don't. Thought the bracer enchant someone mentioned is a perk at 80. Until I hit Outland I wore mostly cloth.

Moonreaver, I haven't leveled a feral druid, but balance *has* improved (according to my BF who leveled his moonkin about 2 years ago). I don't know if it's just the fact that I got better at WoW or not, but I found leveling my oomkin easier than my mage, at least.

If you go caster from day 1, you'll be oom after every 1-2 fights for a while - until level 25ish or so. There's virtually no caster druid gear until Outland, but if you have friends to help you (or are willing to PUG) you can get some nice blues in dungeons. And you'll wear lots and lots of cloth for the stats.

Life gets easier after you get moonkin form, and an absolute blast in Outland. I replaced virtually all my items within 4 hours of hitting Hellfire and I'm loving my druid more than always.

So, to answer your question: if you enjoy playing a caster and don't mind the leveling process, go for balance, it's better than it used to be. If you just want to rush to 80, feral might be better.

Lilly said...

I am in the middle of writting my own moonkin leveling guide after getting tired of reading how "feral is the only vialable option and only crazy people level as balance".

I see we share very similar philosophy however there is one thing I noticed while actually leveling as balance (I made a druid alt to have more practical support for writting) - starting out as pure balance isn't the best way (nor pure feral). No matter what talents you take mana will always be some issue at the lowest levels and in my oppinion it's better to go into feral form (even in caster gear) and keep going rather than drink.

I've actually leveled my druid as pure balance till lvl 18 and then decided to try out my old idea from feral leveling and moved those few points into resto - it went much better somehow especially when I reached OoC. I started to put following point into balance again. Worked like a charm. At level 40 I respecced to full balance to get the Moonkin.

In general the main idea of this approach is getting OoC which is really great before you get the ultimate mana sources like Moonkin Dorm and Innervate. At the same time Natural Shapeshifter and Furor can be handy at those few moments when it's good to switch into bear (upsy, bad pull) or kitty (upsy, mana looks lowish).

EU-Burning Legion

Lykon said...

Im a level 73 moonkin and am trying to find the right talent build for my moonkin. I read your article where you dont like to use dots and just nuke your self from level to level and use the best spec.s that give you more mana and help you do that. The only thing is, you didnt mention the nuke rotaion you use while not using dots. Can you please explain it to me. my in game name is Lykon. ty

Arceli said...

TY For this guide! I've been checking it out for awhile, but only have implemented it once I hit lvl 40:) was getting bored as a feral cat. awesome guide...add heirloom gear and I crit 1k randomly at lvl 47 now:) I've leveled 3 plate classes and a priest to 80....but I'm loving my moonkin hehe

hrbngr said...

Thanks for posting this great leveling guide. I wanted to check in b/c here in late 3.3.3 w/some of your posts talking about the improvement in Starfall, I wasn't certain if your recommended build had changed slightly in any ways. Please reply if u have a chance.