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Druid Talent Guide 2.0.3

NOTE: This guide covers the talent trees for the 2.0.3 live build as of January 9. Please note that earlier comments on this thread may reference earlier versions of both the live talents and this document and may not be relevant to the current talents or guide.
One thing Druids are missing that most if not all the other classes have is a full-on talent document. So I'm trying my hand at this. Everything in here is subjective, colored by my own experiences and what I've read. I'll admit up front that I've had limited experience with Moonkin, so I'm largely biased by what others say there tempered with personal speculation. I did play a full-on Restoration build into my 40s, as well as the full-feral, tank-bear, and Hybrid Healer spec, so I have some basis for personal opinion there.
I've tried to rate the talents from 1 to 5 stars. The key:
***** Talent worth designing a build around
**** Strong talent key to its own spec and/or worth considering going cross-spec to get
*** Decent talent worth taking in its own tree
** Very situational talent, or of marginal use in its own tree
* Talent of no use or only of use in a very specific build

***** BALANCE *****

[TIER 1]
Starlight Wrath ***
Ranks: 5
Reduces the cast time of your Wrath and Starfire spells by 0.1 seconds per rank.
Changed to include Starfire, this talent now is the core first step for Balance builds. Even if you detour to take Nature's Grasp for one point, four here is probably a better use than the other option if you want to go farther in Balance.

Nature's Grasp ****
Ranks: 1
[prerequisite for Improved Nature's Grasp]
Instant cast, 50 Mana, 1 minute cooldown
[Rank 1] While active, any time an enemy strikes the caster, they have a 35% chance to become afflicted by Entangling Roots (Rank 1). Only usable outdoors. 1 charge. Lasts 45 seconds.

A great escape ability at low levels and very useful for PVP purposes, Nature's Grasp gives you a buff that has a chance to cast the appropriate rank of Entangling Roots on whoever's hitting you. This ends the buff. This is sometimes the first point taken, as druid escape measures before Travel Form (level 30) can be limited. Now that this ability is usable in feral forms, it's worth considering dropping a point here, even if it's your only point in Balance.

Improved Nature's Grasp *
Ranks: 4
Requires: Nature's Grasp
Increases the chance for your Nature's Grasp to entangle an enemy by 15% per rank (20% for the final rank).
Four points (and you'll either take all four or none) raises your Nature's Grasp chance from 35% to 100%. If someone's hitting you, plain NG will go off on average after three hits. With this talent, it's after one. Is that worth 4 points?

[TIER 2 -- require 5 points in Balance]
Control of Nature *
Ranks: 3
Gives you a 40% chance to avoid interruption caused by damage while casting Entangling Roots or Cyclone. Rank 2 increases that to 70%, and rank 3 increases the chance to 100%.
Again with the roots. The base ability, for Roots is probably not worth your point investment. It's possible that the added functionality for Cyclone will make it worthwhile, but I'll withhold judgement on that until Cyclone's in the game.

Focused Starlight ****
Ranks: 2
[prerequisite for Vengeance][/u][/b]
Increases the critical strike chance of your Wrath and Starfire spells by 2%.
A new and badly needed core talent for Balance builds.

Improved Moonfire ***
Ranks: 2
Increases the damage and critical strike chance of your Moonfire spell by 5% per rank.
An obvious and strong choice for Balance builds. Slimmed from 5 points to 2 for the same total effect in 2.0.3.

[TIER 3 -- require 10 points in Balance]
Brambles **
Ranks: 3
Increases damage caused by your Thorns and Entangling Roots spells by 25% per rank.
It's really not an awful talent, there just may be a better place to spend 3 points. It does now effect Entangling Roots too, which could be worthwhile if you use roots a lot.

Insect Swarm ***
Ranks: 1
[Rank 1]Instant Cast, 30 yard range
The enemy target is swarmed by insects, decreasing his chance to hit by 2% and dealing nature damage over 12 sec.

This is a moderately useful ability -- a mana-efficient DoT combined with a small but useful debuff. All in all, if you're taking 20+ points in Balance, it's worthwhile to spend one of them here, but it's not an ability you'd base a build around.

Nature's Reach ***
Ranks: 2
Increases the range of your Balance spells and Faerie Fire (Feral) by 10% per rank.
Range is generally a good use of talent points in caster builds, and this is no exception. It's far from exciting though, so depending on how you play, it's a potential skip candidate.

[TIER 4 -- require 15 points in Balance]
Vengeance ***
Ranks: 5
Requires: 2 points in Focused Starlight
Increases the critical strike damage of your Starfire, Moonfire, and Wrath spells by 20% per rank.
One of the key talents for a balance build. If you're this far into the tree, you should have this talent, hands down.

Celestial Focus **
Ranks: 3
Gives your Starfire spell a 5% chance per rank to stun the target for 3 seconds, and increases the chance you'll resist pushback when casting your Wrath spell by 25% per rank.
Now with pushback protection. By pushback, this means that getting hit may not cause you to lose time on your cast bar. The new part of it could very well be worthwhile, but I'm not yet sold. Could depend on your playstyle -- if you're in groups/raids, casting from the back, this isn't doing much for you.

[TIER 5 -- require 20 points in Balance]
Nature's Grace ****
Ranks: 1
[prerequisite for Moonfury]
All spell criticals grace you with a blessing of nature, reducing the casting time of your next non-instant spell by 0.5 seconds.
A very useful ability for one point, especially considering how slow a lot of important druid spells are. This talent is one good reason to consider a Balance/Restoration build.

Moonglow ****
Ranks: 3
Reduces the Mana cost of your Moonfire, Starfire, Wrath, Healing Touch, Regrowth, and Rejuvenation spells by 3% per rank.
Similar to Nature's Grace, helps with one of the key druid weaknesses -- a lot of our best spells are slow and mana hungry. Balance/Resto druids will take this as a key ability.

Lunar Guidance ****
Ranks: 3
Increases your spell damage and healing by 8% of your total intellect per rank.
The fianal tier 5 talent that's excellent both in its own right and in a balance/resto hybrid build. The best part is that this talent scales with gear, and it appears itemization is stressing stats come the expansion.

[TIER 6 -- requires 25 points in Balance]
Moonfury ***
Ranks: 5
Requires: 1 point in Nature's Grace
Increases the damage done by your Starfire, Moonfire, and Wrath spells by 2% per rank.
If you're this far into the tree, you're taking this talent. Why else have you put 25 points in?

Balance of Power ***
Ranks: 2
Increases your chance to hit with all spells and reduces the chance you'll be hit by spells by 2%.
Many caster trees now get this sort of defensive/offensive hybrid talent. I like this more than most, since +hit is a very nice stat if you don't already have a lot of it. If you do, it's largely wasted, so skip this. But, balance gear seems to be light on it, so it gets an extra star.

[TIER 7 -- requires 30 points in Balance]
Moonkin Form ****
Ranks: 1
872 mana, instant cast
Transforms the Druid into Moonkin form. While in this form, the armor contribution from items is increased by 360%, attack power is increased by 150% of your level, and all party members within 30 yards have their spell critical chance increased by 5%. Melee attacks in this form have a chance on hit to regenerate mana based on attack power. The Moonkin may only cast Balance spells while shapeshifted. The act of shapeshifting frees the caster of Polymorph and movement-impairing effects.

Moonkin is an extremely odd ability, combining Dire Bear's damage mitigation with Leader of the Pack's shared critical bonus, and topping it off with Shadowform's spell-usage restrictions. Now add a melee bonus, plus they have a funny dance. All in all, it's a pretty nice package in the right situations, so if you don't need Swiftmend, and you're nuking a lot, dance away.

Dreamstate ***
Ranks: 3
Regenerate mana equal of 4% per rank of your Intellect every 5 seconds, even while casting.
It's an MP5 talent, and by this high up, your should have a good idea on how much that is, and how much it means to you. I'm guessing it will be a part of most Moonkin builds.

Improved Faerie Fire **
Ranks: 3
Your Faerie Fire spell also increases the chance the target will be hit by melee and ranged attacks by 1%
Kind of a reverse +hit ability. My initial reaction is that it's a somewhat handy talent for raid targets. So, if you're a raiding Moonkin, you should take it, but it's too expensive pointwise and too far into the tree for general use.

[TIER 8 -- requires 35 points in Balance]
Wrath of Cenarius ***
Ranks: 5
Your Starfire spell gains an additional 4% per rank and your Wrath gains an additional 2% per rank of your bonus damage effects.
Nice synergy with Lunar Guidance from tier 5. It's a kind of subtle effect that's more useful, the more dedicated you are in your role, and the better your gear gets. I don't feel its worth stretching to take it, but if you're dedicated to Balance, and choose Force of Nature over the other options, it's worthwhile.

[TIER 9 -- requires 40 points in Balance]
Force of Nature ***
Ranks: 1
374 mana, instant cast, 30 yard range, 3 minute cooldown
Summons three treants to attack the enemy target for 30 seconds

Much has been written on this talent by people who have worked on it a lot. Take a look, generally it's positive. Heavy balance builds who have taken this talent like it. Come level 70 and TBC, though, we'll come up to the same problem Moonkin used to have: is this better for a balance build than Nature's Swiftness?

***** FERAL *****

[TIER 1]
Ferocity *****
Ranks: 5
Reduces the cost of your Maul, Swipe, Claw, Rake, and Mangle abilities by 1 Rage or Energy per rank.
A serious no-brainer talent. While the effect Claw and Rake is moderate, the effect of taking Swipe from 20 to 15 rage (a 25% reduction) and especially Maul from 15 to 10 (a 33% reduction) is enormous. If you ever plan to be in bear form at all, whatever your spec, you need this talent.

Feral Aggresion *
Ranks: 5
Increases the Attack Power reduction of your Demoralizing Roar by 8% per rank and increases the damage of your Ferocious Bite attack by 3% per rank.
Feral Aggression isn't a horrible talent, but it's not great and it shares its slot with a terrific tier 1 talent. There's almost no scenario under which I could see putting many points in this versus either Ferocity, or any of the other abilities later in the tree.

[TIER 2 -- require 5 points in Feral]
Feral Instinct **
Ranks: 3
Increases the threat caused in Bear and Dire Bear forms by 5% per rank and reduces the chance enemies have to detect you while prowling.
One of the many talents that came out of the 1.8 Druid review with both bear and cat-side abilities that don't necessarily have anything to do with each other. The stealth bonus, while beloved by rogues, is of limited utility for druids simply because we don't have Sap or the huge premeditation-type preperation abilities. If you don't get to Pounce or Ravage to start a fight... that's fine, it doesn't matter all that much. So, the question is -- how much is the threat bonus worth? Basically, it comes down to how much you're going to tank. If you want to focus on tanking, this is a very strong, core ability. If you don't do it, or even don't focus on it -- it's not necessary. The change of this and Thick Hide to 3 points each makes it a more likely take now, though.

Brutal Impact ***
Ranks: 2
Increases the stun duration of your Bash and Pounce abilities by 0.5 seconds per rank.
I've heard a lot of disagreement over this talent, which I had at 2 stars until this version of the guide. My rationale, which I still think is valid is that you don't need this to Bash/Heal -- the base length of Bash is still long enough to get off Regrowth, maybe followed by a HT ... or if you have Nature's Swiftness this isn't needed. And if you're a Tauren, you have War Stomp, that's also handy.... You see my point. I give this a third star now based on the level 62 ability Maim, which will, in conjunction with this talent, give the druid a limited form of stunlock. Frankly, none of the tier 2 talents are great for low levels, at least if you take this one, you won't have to respec to get it 45 levels later.

Thick Hide ***
Ranks: 3
Increases your Armor rating from items by 3% per rank (4% for rank 1).
While this works in all forms, the notable use is in Bear/Dire Bear form, where it stacks multiplicatively with the natural bonus. That means, in Dire Bear form, to see how much armor you get from an item, instead of multiplying its value by 5.5, multiply it by 6.05. In other words, it's a 55% base armor increase, not a 10% increase. If you plan to tank at all, it's a good investment to go at least this far in the Feral tree. Now also a 3-point talent, so it's hard to recommend skipping this if you're going to tank at all.

[TIER 3 -- require 10 points in Feral]
Feral Swiftness ****
Ranks: 2
Increases your movement speed by 15% per rank while outdoors in Cat form and increases your chance to dodge while in cat, bear, and dire bear form by 2% per rank.
Feline Swiftness has two strong abilities. The first is obvious -- 30% speed increase outdoors can make Cat Form serve as an interim travel/escape form as early as level 20-21, especially combined with Dash. There are a lot of people who suggest taking this talent as soon as possible while leveling for just this reason, and it's a good argument. The second ability now effects both cat AND bear form, so it's a great use of points.

Feral Charge ***
Instant Cast, 5 Rage, 15 second cooldown, 8-25 yard range
Causes you to charge an enemy, immobilizing and interrupting any spell being cast for 4 seconds.

At first look, Feral Charge looks similar to the warrior's Intercept ability, which it is. There's a significant difference -- instead of a stun, you get an interrupt, which has caused Feral Charge to be called "the game's weirdest Counterspell". FC is a good ability for a druid who expects to use bearform to tank in a group at lower levels (especially combined with the Furor talent), or who plans to PvP a fair bit, where it really shines. The Feral Faerie Fire ability reduces this talent's necessity as you climb the feral tree, however, and it's perfectly possible to level up without it. For one talent point, though, it's handy for a dedicated tank build and really needed for PVP if you go furry at all.

Sharpened Claws ****
Ranks: 3
[Prerequisite for Primal Fury]
Increases your critical strike chance while in Bear or Cat form by 2% per rank.
A key and must-have talent for anyone going past this point, whether cat, bear, or neither is preferred.

[TIER 4 -- require 15 points in Feral]
Shredding Attacks ***
Ranks: 2
Reduces the Energy cost of your Shred ability by 9 per rank and the rage cost of Lacerate by 1 per rank.
Shred is the catform equivalent of backstab. If you group or raid most of the time, and if you DPS in that group in catform the great majority of the time, then... it's pretty good, especially with Mangle. If not, there may be more flexible and powerful places to put your points.

Predatory Strikes ***
[Prerequisite for Heart of the Wild]
Ranks: 3
Increases your attack power in Bear, Dire Bear, and Cat forms by 50% of your level per rank.
This is another keystone ability for Feral druids. Partly because it's a decent use of points in its own right (90 attack power at level 60 is nothing to sneeze at), but moreso because of its prerequisite status. If you're not going to Heart of the Wild, it could be left untaken.

Primal Fury *****
Ranks: 2
Requires: 3 points in Sharpened Claws
Gives you a 50% chance per rank to gain an additional 5 Rage anytime you get a critical strike while in Bear form or Dire Bear form and critical strikes from Cat form abilities that add combo points have a 50% chance per rank to add an additional combo point.
Merged with Blood Frenzy, this is one of the best talents any class gets, period. Resto builds may even want to consider going 17 in Feral -- just this far -- to multiply their feral viability immensely.

[TIER 5 -- require 20 points in Feral]
Savage Fury ****
Ranks: 2
Increases the damage cause by your Claw, Rake, Maul, Swipe, and Mangle abilities by 10% per rank.
Obviously good core talent for any build going more than 21 points into Feral.

Faerie Fire (Feral) ****
Ranks: 1
[Rank 1]Instant cast, 30 yard range, 6 second cooldown
Decrease the armor of the target by 175 for 40 seconds. While affected, the target cannot stealth or turn invisible.

Feral Faerie Fire is an enormously underrated talent by those who haven't used it. The effect of this is identical to regular Faerie Fire of the same rank, with the attendant utility thereof. The key is considering that it is (1) a ranged ability usable in feral forms, and (2) free. It costs no mana, energy, or rage to use, which means it can be freely bopped whenever it's up, either to spread the armor debuff around, add a little extra threat while tanking, or just reapply. The even more important key is that it allows you to pull while in feral form -- often an excellent thing to start attacking with full energy, or to save a rage bar from a previous fight.

Nurturing Instinct **
Ranks: 2
Your healing spells are increased by an amount equal to 25% per rank of your Strength.
Decreased in amount, but increased in usefulness by making this an always-active passive talent, Nuturing Instinct will do well for hybrid feral/resto druids, especially those whose gear supports it. I don't think this is a particularly good talent for full feral builds, though.

[TIER 6 -- requires 25 points in Feral]
Heart of the Wild *****
Ranks: 5
Requires: 3 points in Predatory Strikes
Increases your Intellect by 4% per rank. In addition while in Bear Form or Dire Bear Form your Stamina is increased by 4% per rank, and while in Cat Form your Strength is increased by 4% per rank.
Heart of the Wild may be the single best talent a druid gets. Caster? 20% more mana. Bear? 20% more hit points. Cat? 20% more strength for attacking. Whatever you're doing, you're better at it. It can reasonably said that this talent makes you 20% more druid. It's a very reasonable and compelling reason to consider 30 feral points in a hybrid build even if you're healing on raids most of the time.

Survival of the Fittest ***
Ranks: 3
Increases all attributes by 1% and reduces the chance you'll be critically hit by melee attacks by 1%
Novice players may look at this talent and be impressed by the wrong part. The attribute bump is almost meaningless, it's so small, but the anti-crit bonus is huge for tanking in tough instances and raids. Should you get it? Well... if you're going to be main tanking, it's highly recommended. But for a general-use feral build that's only occasionally offtanking or doing DPS... probably not.

[TIER 7 -- requires 30 points in Feral]
Leader of the Pack ****
Ranks: 1
[prerequisite for Improved Leader of the Pack]
[prerequisite for Mangle]
While in Cat, Bear, or Dire Bear form, the Leader of the Pack increases ranged and meelee chance of all party members within 45 yards by 5%.
I upgraded LotP on the 2.0 release for two reasons: first, the increase in crit from 3 to 5 percent. Secondly, you no longer get "just" LotP by choosing not to take Nature's Swiftness too, you now also get Mangle. Mangle's a compelling reason to go to 41 points, and in that case, LotP is a strong and obvious 1-point use.

Improved Leader of the Pack **
Ranks: 2
Requires: 1 point in Leader of the Pack
Your Leader of the Pack ability also causes affected targets to have a 100% chance to heal themselves for 2% per rank of their total health when they critically hit with a melee or ranged attack. The healing effect cannot occur more than once every 6 seconds.
This is another talent that a lot has been written about, and the max point total was dropped from 3 to 2. In terms of the current pre-expansion game, 4% is a very moderate heal on this timeline and for this talent to be considered better than mediocre, a very favorable situation has to be in place. Long-term, 4% of a bear's HP total could be considerable.

Primal Tenacity **
Ranks: 3
Increases your chance to resist Stun and Fear mechanics by 5% per rank.
A moderate talent. Very useful for PvP, and subpar in the great majority of PvE encounters as 15% just isn't enough to rely on.

[TIER 8 -- requires 35 points in Feral]
Predatory Instincts ***
Ranks: 5
Increases your critical strike damage with melee attacks in forms by 3% and your chance to avoid area effect attacks by 3%
This is a nice, if somewhat subtle talent. Its obvious use is for catform dps. You're going to get more from your crits. Possibly more important from a raid perspective, you're going to dodge a lot of the environmental damage in some boss fights, which is nice because a lot of times you're not getting healed for that, so you'll have to stop DPSing to do it yourself. The other nice thing about this talent is that it doesn't scream "all-or-nothing" so you can toss whatever points you're short of 40 right here to get to Mangle without feeling like you're really missing out.

[TIER 9 -- requires 40 points in Feral]
Mangle *****
Requires: 1 point in Leader of the Pack
Mangle the target, inflicting damage and causing the target to take additional damage from bleed effects and Shred for 10 seconds. This ability can be used in Cat Form or Dire Bear Form.
Mangle is actually two abilities, so let me talk about them seperately. Mangle (Cat) is essentially a replacement for Claw. It has a base cost of 45 Energy and gives 1 combo point. It does slightly less than double Claw's damage under normal conditions. Mangle (Bear) is an instant-use attack with a base cost of 20 rage (15 with Furor). Its damage is about 20% higher than Maul, but it doesn't use your swing. Given the recent nerf to Maul aggro, the damage from Mangle actually makes it a key ability in tanking now as well. This is an excellent, and obviously strong talent that's worth taking -- a keystone reason to make a full feral build.

***** RESTORATION *****

[TIER 1]

Improved Mark of the Wild **
Ranks: 5
Increases the effects of your Mark of the Wild and Gift of the Wild spells by 7% per rank.
The Restoration tree interestingly offers two very different but both useful abilities at tier 1. Improved Mark of the Wild boosts your main buff, and does it... adequately. At level 60 and 5 points, the bonuses are things you wouldn't mind having... but might not notice if you didn't have them. My recommendation is to take Furor instead unless you almost never go feral, then if you have a few points you want to spend in the resto tree later, toss them in this ability then. For raiding druids, consult with the others since varying levels of this talent can cause overwrite/stacking problems when buffing.

Furor ****
Ranks: 5
Gives you a 20% chance per rank to gain 10 Rage when you shapeshift into Bear or Dire Bear form, or 40 Energy when you shapeshift into Cat form.
An excellent ability if you plan to shift into feral forms with any regularity whatsoever. Furor's especially worthwhile when needing to shift to bearform (perhaps in an emergency if a tank falls) by letting you use Feral Charge, Demoralizing Roar, or Maul immediately.

[TIER 2 -- require 5 points in Restoration]
Naturalist *****
Ranks: 5
Reduces the cast time of your Healing Touch spell by 0.1s per rank and increases the damage you deal with physical attacks in all forms by 2% per rank.
Ten percent is a significant boost for DPS, and since threat in bear form is so dependant on damage, it's also a useful tanking tool. Even a half-second means a lot when talking about the slow but powerful Healing Touch, making this a key talent for healing, either others or yourself while in solo combat. This combination of two strong talents before gives a monstrously strong use of 5 points.

Nature's Focus ***
Gives you a 14% chance per rank to avoid interruption caused by damage while casting the Healing Touch, Regrowth, and Tranquility spells.
Another strong talent for healing in most situations. Unless you're never getting hit while healing (and if so, life's already good for you) you can make good use of this talent.

Natural Shapeshifter **
Ranks: 3
Reduces the mana cost of shape shifting by 10% per rank.
This is a solid but not essential Feral talent for PvE, since you probably won't do a ton of shifting. PvP druids may like this more as their fights are more frenetic. Dedicated PvE Ferals should find better places high in the Feral tree to spend their points. Hybrid builds looking to build to Nature's Swiftness on Feral-friendly talents may consider it, though.

[TIER 3 -- require 10 points in Restoration]
Omen of Clarity ****
Ranks: 1
Instant cast, 120 Mana
Imbues the druid with natural energy. Each of the druid's melee attacks has a chance of causing the caster to enter a Clearcasting state. The Clearcasting state reduces the Mana, Rage, or Energy cost of your next damage or healing spell or offensive ability by 100%. Lasts 30 minutes.

Omen of Clarity is a self buff that gives you a chance to proc (about twice a minute) a Clearcast, no matter what form you're in. The clearcast can be used to Maul, Swipe, Shred, Demoralizing Roar ... or even cast a heal or nuke. Since shifting doesn't use the clearcast, you can even be in a form, proc the Clearcast, shift out, heal/nuke, and shift back (obviously most effective with Natural Shifter).

Intensity ***
Ranks: 3
[prerequisite for Nature's Swiftness]
Allows 5% of your Mana regeneration per rank to continue while casting and causes your Enrage ability to instantly generate (4/7/10) rage.
An interesting combination of two mediocre talents, Reflection and Improved Enrage. A lot of people will take it because of its prerequisite status. It's still not incredibly overpowered, but it's got enough utility for most druids to be worth the points on its own.

Subtlety **
Ranks: 5
Reduces the threat generated by your healing spells by 4% per rank.
If you're dedicated to healing and you're pulling aggro from it, this may be a useful ability, but more likely your problem is with your tank, not your talent point allocation. Some druids like putting almost all their points into Restoration, and in that case, sure, Subtlety has some value, but if you're content to stop at 31 or less, you can probably find a better place.

[TIER 4 -- require 15 points in Restoration]
Tranquil Spirit ***
Ranks: 5
Reduces the mana cost of your Healing Touch and Tranquility spells by 2% per rank.
With the mana cost of Healing Touch, this is a useful if not terribly exciting talent. If you're going deep into Restoration, you'll probably want it.
Improved Rejuvenation ***
Ranks: 3
[Prerequisite for Improved Regrowth]
Increases the effect of your Rejuvenation spell by 5% per rank.
The three stars here is actually 4 or 2 depending on your healing style. Basically, do you rely on Rejuvenation to do a lot of your healing? If so... it's great. If not... it's fine, but you may get better use elsewhere. With the change to heal stacking in 2.0, it's probably more often four than two now.

[TIER 5 -- require 20 points in Restoration]
Nature's Swiftness *****
Ranks: 1
Requires: 3 points in Intensity
Instant cast, 3 minute cooldown
When activated, your next Nature spell becomes an instant cast spell.

Some people, usually restoration-spec druids, consider Nature's Swiftness a "crutch" and say that if you don't have it, you don't rely on it and learn to work without it. Having both had it and not, they're largely correct when you're healing. NS gives you a panic button while healing that, with careful play, you can avoid using. But that's not the only time it can be used. NS is good enough that both Balance and Feral have very, very strong builds that ignore their own top point talent to take NS (and the lead-up Restoration abilities) instead. A Feral-NS build can easily work as an offtank or DPS in many situations, poping out to do a heal every couple minutes, then back to work. It allows you to be a secondary healer without waiting around in caster form. For Balance builds, the combination is obvious there as well. All in all, it's a keystone of many builds and should be at least considered.

Gift of Nature ***
Ranks: 5
[Prerequisite for Swiftmend]
Increases the effect of all healing spells by 2% per rank.
If you're going past Nature's Swiftness, there's no reason not to take some points in Gift of Nature. It's another core, solid, somewhat dull talent.

Improved Tranquility *
Ranks: 2
Reduces threat generated by your Tranquility spell by 50% per rank.
Tranquility got a lot stronger in 2.0.3, but went on a 10-minute cooldown. It's possible that this is a talent someone needs, but the huge majority of druids will just skip this, and rightly so.

[TIER 6 -- requires 25 points in Restoration]
Improved Regrowth ***
Ranks: 5
Requires: 3 points in Improved Rejuvenation
Increases the critical effect chance of your Regrowth spell by 10% per rank.
If you're going to take Swiftmend or Tree of Life, you'll probably take this talent. The 2.0.3 patch reduced the mana cost of Regrowth significantly. Combined with the 2.0 changes to heal over time effect stacking, this is now a reasonable talent. However, remember that unlike offensive spells, most healers don't want to rely on criticals. There's a potential combination of this and Nature's Grace. Note that Regrowth is the only direct heal castable in Tree of Life form, so it's almost an automatic if you're going ToL.

Empowered Touch ***
Ranks: 2
Your Healing Touch spell gains an additional 10% per rank of your bonus healing effects.
A nice, subtle, scalable healing bonus. The better your healing gear is, the better this talent gets.

[TIER 7 -- requires 30 points in Restoration]
Swiftmend ****
Ranks: 1
Requires: 5 points in Gift of Nature
Cost: 498 Mana, Range: 40 yd, Casting Time: Instant, Cooldown: 15 sec
Consumes a Rejuvenation or Regrowth effect on a friendly target to instantly heal them an amount equal to 12 seconds of Rejuvenation or 18 seconds of Regrowth.

The replacement for Innervate, which became available to all druids in 1.11, Swiftmend provides a reliable quick heal for heavy-restoration druids. The real question is whether you want to muddle through the 9 points between Nature's Swiftness and Swiftmend to get this. It's largely a function of how much you heal. If you're pretty much a dedicated healer, you want the ability.

Living Spirit **
Ranks: 3
Increases your total Spirit by 5%.
By itself, this talent is pretty bad. Spirit's the most situationally useful stat as it is, and spending talent points to go get more seems like a waste. It's not quite that bad though. Intensity will be taken by almost all healing builds (due to its prerequisite status) so that makes it somewhat more useful. Then, if you have a priest with Improved Divine Spirit, it works out to give you a little more spell power. The real reason for this talent is Tree of Life, though, and particularly, using Tree of Life in a group of healers. Otherwise, skip it.

Natural Protection **
Ranks: 3
Your critical strike chance with all spells is increased by 1% per rank and melee and ranged critical strikes against you cause 4% less damage per rank.
Ahh, to be in another tree. As a balance talent, this would be a core nuking ability. As a Feral talent, 6this would be a solid tanking ability. Instead, it sits far down the restoration tree, taking up space in case you want an inefficient use of a couple points just to go farther.

[TIER 8 -- requires 35 points in Restoration]
Empowered Rejuvenation ***
Ranks: 5
[prerequisite for Tree of Life]
The bonus healing effects of your healing over time spells is incresed by 4% per rank.
Notice a theme among the three druid tier 8 talents? This one's weaker if only for the reason that you need to put in all 5 points to get to Tree of Life, which is probably the only reason you're up this high. You'll take it if you have to.

[TIER 9 -- requires 35 points in Restoration]
Tree of Life ****
Ranks: 1
Requires: 5 points in Empowered Rejuvenation
872 mana, instant cast
Transforms the Druid into the Tree of Life Form. While in this form, you increase healing done by 25% of your total Spirit on all party members within 40 yards, your movement speed is reduced by 20%, and you can only cast Swiftmend and healing over time spells, but the mana cost of these spells is reduced by 20%. The act of shapeshifting frees the caster of Polymorph and Movement Impairing effects.

This is another talent on which many, many people have given a more informed opinion than I, so I'll leave it to you to read what they have to say and decide. I think though that if you're really dedicated to having the ultimate healing spec, you're going to want to have this in your arsenal, even if it's not always best to use it. Also, if you're a raider, not every druid needs it, but you'll be happy if some do.

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