Friday, September 30, 2011

Balance Druid PVP Guide (3.3.5) | [Big] Boomkin Guide

Boomkin / Moonkin / Balance Druid
Ultimate Boomkin PVP Guide, by Clovis

DISCLAIMER: This guide is oriented at general PvP - namely battlegrounds. I am not focusing on arena, which some believe is the ultimate PvP environment. You can still use the advice for arena, of course, but just keep in mind that I am not writing this for that specific environment.


  1. Introduction
  2. Strengths & weaknesses
  3. Talent build
  4. Gear
    -- Enchants
    -- Gems
    -- Glyphs
  5. Professions
  6. Combat (general)
    -- General guidelines
    -- Players to run away from
    -- Players to lol at
  7. Combat (guides)
    a) Paladin (Retribution)
    b) Rogue
    c) Warrior (Arms)
  8. Conclusion

1 - Introduction

Before I get started, I think it's important to establish some credentials, as people do generally not like to read guides written by players who aren't actually qualified to write them. So here's a bit of my background as a Boomkin:

I've been playing since Dec. 2009, and have always double-specced as Balance Druid. Over the course of my playing time, I've accumulated around 45k honorable kills (all as Moonkin). I do have much 3v3 or 5v5 arena experience, though I'm currently sitting around 1700-1800 rating in 3s. My Shadow Priest partner and I are slowly working on our 2v2 rating. You can view my armory here. I consider myself very good at PvP. It's kinda hard to justify this in a post, but I suppose I'll just have to hope you trust me. I can kill anybody in a fair 1v1 match, and I know how to use all of my abilities to the maximum of their potential.

But anyways. If you've seen my posts around the forums before, you know I like to sometimes QQ about Moonkin PvP viability. Most people will agree with me that Moonkins tend to be free HKs. That said, I firmly believe that Moonkin PvP is fun and viable with the proper amount of practice and know-how.

2 - Strengths & weaknesses

Before you PvP seriously with any class/spec, it's important to know your strengths and weaknesses.


  • Lack of effective defensive cooldown
  • HoTs can be dispelled or spellstolen
  • Lack of controlled burst damage
  • No silence/stun/effective peel
  • High visibility


  • Good kiting ability
  • Decent HoTs
  • Potential for quick burst

Survivability is one of our main weaknesses. Blizzard intended us to soak up damage through our armor, and to counter whatever damage was coming through with our HoTs. Unfortunately, healing requires us to drop that armor. Furthermore, our magic-damage mitigation is very poor. Our armor is useless against casters, and only half-useful against melees, who will ignore our armor through the use of bleeds, poisons, holy damage, diseases, etc. Our only defensive cooldown is Barkskin - 20% damage mitigation for 12 seconds. In comparison, Warlocks have permanent 20% flat damage reduction through Soul Link. Barkskin is also dispellable.

Another problem is control. We can never stun or silence our target. We have no button we can push to incapacitate our target while DPSing them down. Entangling Roots break fairly fast, and are mainly used to help kite our melee opponents. Furthermore, it has a cast time. Cyclone also has a cast time and will be used mainly as a form of defense (Cyclone + heal). We have no instant get-out-of-my-facebutton, except for Typhoon, which can be difficult to use properly against a melee that is training us.

Our burst damage is very RNG-dependent. Wrath and Starfire, our main nukes, are weak outside of Eclipse, and their cast times beg for interrupts. Our DoTs are weak, and our other instants - Starfall and Treants - are only situational. Quick burst is possible if you have both a Lunar Eclipse and a Wrath of Elune proc, or if you manage to enter a Solar Eclipse and have room to chaincast Wraths.

On the other hand, we are Druids, and our mobility is excellent. Shapeshifting will break all roots and snares, allowing us to effectively kite or run away from almost any class (save perhaps for Frost and Arcane Mages). Shifting away from our melee opponents while keeping up HoTs on ourselves is essential to staying alive. You can also gain a bit of distance and smack a Typhoon in their face, followed by roots.

3 - Talent build

Your build is, of course, at the mercy of your gamestyle. Here is the build I use:
Molten World of Warcraft Armory - Druid Talent Calculator

I had a floater point, so I just put it in Moonglow, as mana is sometimes an issue in arena.

There isn't much room for variety in a Moonkin PvP spec. I have been considering picking up Brambles for a while, but unfortunately it is currently bugged on Molten, so I have not tried it out yet.

Some PvP Moonkins will put a few points in Furor. In PvE, the advantage of this talent is the extra 10% intellect. In PvP, you will never benefit from this extra intellect because of how often you shift - the appeal is from the instant rage obtained when shifting into Bear Form, which you will sometimes do to Bash your target. I personally avoid the talent, as I can shift into Bear Form > Enrage > Bash without any issues (Bash being off the global cooldown).

You can avoid Imp. Insect Swarm and Imp. Faerie Fire, as they are very minor damage increases. Make sure you pick up Nature's Focus, Owlkin Frenzy, and Gale Winds.

4 - Gear

Gearing itself isn't complicated, of course. Just get all the PvP gear you can - you don't have much room for choice. Unfortunately, leather itemization is poor, and unlike cloth-wearing casters, you will not be able to have bracers, boots, and a belt with +haste on them. You are limited to choosing between crit and spirit.

Make sure you pick up haste where you can: on the necklace, cloak, and weapons. Haste will quicken your GCD, your Wraths, and your Cyclones.

Some classes will balance their PvP gear with PvE gear. Usually these are players who rely more on avoidance than mitigation to survive, such as Rogues. Good Rogues know how to avoid getting hit at all, and for that reason they can afford to trade off some PvP gear with PvE gear. As a Moonkin, however, you cannot do this. You will take all damage in the face, and you need to make sure you can take it and live. This means you should get as much resilience and stamina as you can. This will help compensate for your lack of survivability.

I enchant resilience and stamina where I can. The rest is spellpower.

These are my gemming choices:

  • Red sockets: Runed Cardinal Ruby (+23 spellpower).
  • Yellow sockets: Steady Eye of Zul (+10 resilience + 15 stamina). I do this to compensate for the lack of haste on leather gear.
  • Blue sockets: Glowing Dreadstones (+12 spellpower +15 stamina). A mix between power and survivability. Self-explanatory.
  • Meta socket: Effulgent Skyflare Diamond (+32 stamina -2% spell damage taken). I think the choice here is obvious. We are most vulnerable to spell damage, hence reducing that damage makes sense.

Other options including gemming for spell penetration in blue sockets, and resilience in yellow sockets.

Other than the Glyph of Starfall, there are no BiS Moonkin glyphs. These are all viable PvP glyphs, the first three being my prefered choices.

  • Glyph of Starfall (-30s on cooldown). Essential for damage.
  • Glyph of Insect Swarm (+30% damage). This is also important for damage. DoTs are a main source of damage in PvP and this helps tremendously.
  • Glyph of Monsoon (-3s on cooldown). I use Typhoon almost the moment it is off cooldown. It's a great ability against casters and melees alike.
  • Glyph of Barkskin (-25% chance to be crit by melees while active). This is good against melees for survivability.
  • Glyph of Moonfire (-90% initial damage, +75% DoT damage). You can't Moonfire spam people to death, but the DoT part will actually do decent damage.

About spell penetration: the minimum spell penetration you should have is 75. I use the Wrathful Gladiator's Grimoire, which sports +79 spell penetration, allowing me to freely add a bit of stamina in my blue sockets. You should also put +35 spell penetration on your cloak against those nasty Mages.

Alternate gearing choice

Lately, I have found myself experimenting with more power-oriented gear. I am already stacked in PvP gear, and as my experience grows in Moonkin PvP, so does my general survivability. I have been playing around with gemming and enchanting choices, and I am thinking of making a new gear set focused on burst. Here are the differences I would aim for:

  • PvP shoulders >> T10 shoulders
  • Corroded Skeleton Key >> Dislodged Foreign Object
  • Steady Eye of Zul (+10 resilience +15 stamina) >> Reckless Ametrine (+12 spellpower +10 haste)
  • Glowing Dreadstone (+12 spellpower +15 stamina) >> Mysterious Dreadstone (+12 spellpower +13 spell penetration)
  • Spell penetration offhand >> haste offhand
  • Effulgent Skyflare Diamond >> Chaotic Skyflare Diamond (+21 crit +3% crit damage)
  • Stamina/resilience enchants >> spellpower/resilience enchants

This would be, of course, for battlegrounds rather than arena. The benefit of this gearing choice is the power. Though Moonkins can easily be locked down, it is still possible to gain the advantage with overwhelming burst, pressuring our opponent on the defensive. Though this may be hard to do without proper execution, and though the playstyle is riskier because the gear makes you squishier, it may be something to consider if you do not arena or if you feel comfortable enough with your kiting/healing.

5 - Professions

There is really no right or wrong profession. Personally, I prefer Enchanting and Engineering. I put +23 spellpower on my Ashen Verdict ring, and +30 stamina on my Wrathful Gladiator ring. Engineering's Pyro Rocket is an extra 1k-2k damage every 45s, off the GCD, a parachute (and +27 spellpower to the cloak), and invaluable Nitro Boosts in battlegrounds.

Let me tell you: shapeshifting + Nitro Boosts has saved my life countless times. If you love battlegrounds, you should seriously consider this profession.

6 - Combat (general)

Alright, so let's say you're fully geared, enchanted, gemmed, you know your spells, etc.. but what the hell do you do when fighting somebody?

I will have specific guides written below - however, here are some general guidelines for any PvP fight.

General guidelines:

  • Reduce your visibility. Moonkin Form is a huge PvP taunt, and will often make your opponents immediately focus you. Avoid shifting into form unless necessary. I have found Noggenfogger Elixir to be extremely useful (not to mention fun) in PvP. The smaller size makes it more difficult for players to target you, and will reduce you to about the size of a Dwarf - you won't suddenly stand out the moment you shift anymore. Finally, learn to keep your distance and to leave sticky situations when appropriate.
  • Keep yourself HoTed. This not only improves your survivability, but also increases Nourish's potency when you inevitably find yourself needing to use it.
  • Keep a full DoT uptime on your target(s). PvP is a game of movement and instants, and DoTs will be a much bigger part of your damage against other players than in raids. Some people will use the Glyph of Moonfire to help this - I prefer not to, as I find the initial damage to be useful in certain situations.
  • Don't just pop Starfall the moment it is off cooldown. Be sure to know your opponents' abilities, and use it when you know it will most effective.
  • Make use of your Druid abilities. Travel Form is one of your best friends, and so is Cat Form > Prowl > Pounce.
  • Shapeshift! Don't let melees train you, as it will be impossible to DPS them, and you will not survive. Shapeshift away from them. Shapeshift out of LoS of casters. Shapeshift to safety. Shapeshift while carrying the flag (I have over 110 WSG flag captures on Frostwolf). Shapeshift shapeshift shapeshift!
  • Keep Nature's Grasp up. They are useful against both melees as well as melee pets.
  • Make free use of Entangling Roots and Cyclone. The 6-second duration of Cyclone is great to give you some breathing space, either to heal up or run away. Keep in mind that you can also Hibernate Hunter pets and Feral Druids.
  • Keep Abolish Poison up while fighting Rogues and Hunters.
  • You can use Cyclone offensively, especially against healers. You can Cyclone one (also negating the effort of their HoTs), and begin casting Starfire so that it lands right when Cyclone drops off. With a bit of luck, you might proc a Solar Eclipse and you can follow it up by firing some Wraths. OR - you can do this right after you entered a Lunar Eclipse. Quickly Cyclone the healer before he CCs you, and then blast him with an Eclipsed Starfire.

Although you may have different playing styles, you will generally have to play defensively. In arena, you can be aggressive if you have a partner with good control tools. If you have to rely on your own tools, however, you will not be able to control opponents well enough to DPS them at will.

Mainly, you will need to kite/heal in order to stay alive through your opponent's burst. It is very hard as a Moonkin to be the first to put pressure. You will mostly be naggy, thanks to DoTs, the occasional Wrath, and the mobility. You have to wait for a window of opportunity, and then unleash hell.

Players to run away from:
I'm adding this part mostly for fun. I'm not actually telling you to run away, but keep in mind that the following classes are some of the harder ones to defeat as Moonkins.

  • Casters. Almost all casters dominate over Moonkins, particularly Shadow Priests, Destruction Warlocks, and Arcane Mages. It's 50/50 against Elemental Shamans.
  • Arms Warriors, because of their un-CCable Bladestorm and Mortal Strike.
  • Marksmanship Hunters, because of Aimed Shot, Silencing Shot, and some insane burst.

Player to lol at:
These are classes I find generally easy to kill.

  • Rogues. When one opens up on me while I'm in Moonkin Form, I usually do a /dance emote at them. Only exceptional Rogues can down me 1v1 (Somafera and Bellona come to mind).
  • Enhancement Shamans. I think everyone lol's at them 
  • Other Moonkins. Mainly because I'm an Alpha Moonkin and cannot stand to see other ones, so I kill them immediately 
  • Hunters that are not Marksmanship.

Picture taken by me in the middle of a fail duel

7 - Combat (guides)

I decided I would add a small strategy class against different classes/specs. Please keep in mind - this is not an arena guide. For this section, I will be speaking from the point of view of 1v1. When you add more people, there are too many possibilities and it's impossible to really make proper predictions.

Also, I will not take the time to explain different classes' abilities. I'm going to assume that you already know them. If you don't.. get to it! Here's an arena guide by a fellow Molten player who listed every ability you should know. Arenas: basic guide - Molten Community Forums

a) Paladin (Retribution):

Although Retribution Paladins are capable of quite a lot of burst and survivability, there are actually easier to defeat than one might think. Retribution's #1 weakness is mobility: they are very easily kited. And because a Druid's #1 strength also happens to be mobility, we are usually well-off against them.

Typically, the Paladin will try to stun you with Hammer of Justice, pop his wings, and mash the buttons on his action bar. If you let him do this, you will lose. Their burst is tremendous and mostly Holy-based, so your armor doesn't count for much (you still want to be in Moonkin Form against the melee attacks and for the damage reduction while stunned, however).

Use your trinket on HoJ and run away from him while his wings are up. You can Travel Form away, Cyclone, Root, or Typhoon him. Preferably, you would have Nature's Grasp up, and the Paladin would have rooted himself right before you ran away. Always keep your distance. If for some reason he manages to keep you in melee range while his wings are up, pop Barkskin.

Though Paladins can remove your DoTs, they will not necessarily do so, and I recommend trying to keep a full uptime. Once you have gained distance, you can begin nuking him away. If he gets near, just CC him, run away, and start again. Remember to keep HoTs up (he can't do anything about them), and you should be just fine.

b) Rogue:

Rogues are generally one of the class I feel safest against, because we are actually well-equipped to counter them. You will want to use your PvP trinket on the Kidney Shot or the Blind. Blind breaks on damage, so if you find yourself taking more damage than you'd like, and DoTs are ticking on you, it's safe to trinket Kidney Shot. Whatever you decide to do, do NOT trinket sap!

When a Rogue opens, pop Barkskin. After you've used your trinket, put Faerie Fire on him. This will prevent him from Vanishing, unless he uses his Cloak of Shadows cooldown. Against bad Rogues, you can even use a DoT first instead of Faerie Fire. Many Rogues will waste Vanish while DoTed, only to be pulled right out of stealth as soon as the DoT ticks.

Once you are unstunned and Faerie Fire is on the Rogue, the next thing to do is powershift out of Crippling Poison, put up Nature's Grasp, and throw a Typhoon in his face. Run away while putting up HoTs and Abolish Poison. Abolish Poison is extremely important in order to get rid of Wound Poison and Mind-Numbing Poison. Get back into Moonkin Form, and root him.

This is when you should use the opportunity to lay down some hurt. Pop your Treants. In this vulnerable situation, the Rogue will most likely CoS, and though this will prevent you from harming him with spells, your Treants will still beat him up. If his Vanish is available, he will use it and try to get another opener on you. If not, good job, you win.

Keep a full DoT uptime and use your better judgment to decide when to pop Starfall. You should use it when you think he will take the most damage from it - that is, when he is farthest away from you and cannot stun you.

Gaining distance against a Rogue is extremely important. You can do this easily by using Entangling Roots (especially Nature's Grasp) and by shapeshifting. Gaining distance means that he cannot stun you, and that if he tries to go back into stealth, you can flush him right back out with a well-placed Typhoon or even Hurricane (not suggested).

c) Warrior (Arms):

I will refer to the Arms Warrior as simply "he", even though it might be a she, for the simple reason of it being shorter, thus easier and faster to type. Nothing sexist.
Arms Warriors can be a tricky thing. The main problem comes from their never-ending Charges, Mortal Strike, and Bladestorm. Keeping your distance is helpful, as they cannot charge you from as far as you can nuke them. Unfortunately, it is not difficult for them to close the gap.
Note: In duels, you cannot get too far away from the "flag" (for obvious reasons), which makes fighting an Arms Warrior just that much harder.

The most important thing to do is to use Typhoon on every cooldown and keep absolute 100% DoT uptime. Playing against an Arms Warrior is very difficult, because you have to slowly wear him out as they try to burst you down. Make very liberal use of Entangling Roots - this will allow you to move away and HoT yourself (just because your healing is cut by 50% doesn't mean you shouldn't heal yourself at all).

When he uses Bladestorm, run like hell: It hurts a lot, and you cannot stop it. I usually use Nitro Boosts to run way from it, or Travel Form in arena. Fortunately, however, they cannot charge you while Bladestorming. This means that once you have gained distance, you can heal yourself some more without fear of interruption. The moment Bladestorm is over, Cyclone > Starfire > Moonfire > Insect Swarm (you should start casting cyclone before Bladestorm is over). Let him charge you, then Typhoon > Entangling Roots
I usually pop Starfall right after he has used Bladestorm and later on Charged me (now. If he isn't severely out-gearing you and if you haven't done any mistakes, Starfall > Moonfire spam should take care of him.).

If you can stay away from them and keep full DoT uptime, you should be fine. Remember not to use Force of Nature against them, unless you want to feed their rage.
Shaman (Elemental):

Elemental Shamans are the most similar class-spec to Balance Druids. There is actually no "secret" to beating them. The probably most important thing however is to keep them in LoS (Line of Sight), because they are known for their extremely fast and little mana using heals.  
Now... The biggest difference between Shamans and Druids is that Shamans can use totems. You should watch out for nasty ones like Stoneclaw TotemGrounding Totem and sometimes even Earthbind Totem (in case the Shaman is trying to run away behind a pillar for example.

Normally, I would start the fight in stealth so I get some time to think of a plan. If he has a Stoneclaw Totem and/or a Grounding Totem, you should quickly take out the Stoneclaw Totem first, then the Grounding Totem. This will leave him totally vulnerable, and this is where you should start putting down some serious burst damage -> use everything you have: Starfall (with a +spellpower trinket macro if possible {see "Macros") > Treants > Moonfire > Insect Swarm. At this point, I suggest you use Typhoon in order to interrupt either a heal, or the infamous Lava Burst (Can crit about 10-15k). All your actions until now should have been chained and done in such a small amount of time that the Shaman shouldn't have been able to actually do anything yet (Blitzkrieg). Now if the shaman hasn't already died, you should either Moonfire spam him (if he's very low on hp), or start chaining Wraths. 

The single most important thing to do against Shamans is to interrupt their heals. If you start Moonfire spamming him to death, it is suggested to use a Typhoon as soon as he starts casting a heal, and be ready to use War Stomp (if you are a Tauren), and/or Bear Form > Enrage > Bash when needed.
As said above, your chances to beat an Elemental Shamans is pretty much 50/50, depending on each player's spell power, resilience and stamina. It is basically a burst-fight.

8 - Conclusion

Moonkin PvP can be very fun if played properly. It is lacking in many regards, especially in the survivability department, but it is still perfectly possible to do well when speccing Balance. As with any toon, practice makes all the difference.

Good luck!

Please go check out Clovis' blog and his guides (original source):

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