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