Come on ride that train!

If there’s one thing a lazer chicken has to get used to in PvP, it’s the fact that you’re a gigantic target on the battlefield (unless of course you use the minor glyph to not show your true form, but geez, who doesn’t want to show their true feathers?).  And not only is your character physically large on the screen of opponents, it’s also a well rehearsed play of how the first interaction with a feathered druid occurs in PvP:

Random Opponent: OMG I SEE A MOONKIN!!!! FREEEEEE POINTS!  TRAIN ‘EM TO THE GROUND!!!

This old script still plays out day after day in battlegrounds and arenas from around the world (of warcraft).  This idea stems from the fact that training you used to mean that you would fall over once barkskin was down.  With the limited defensives we’ve historically had, topped with losing damage reduction when coming out of form, it was actually a really good strat prior to MoP.  Unfortunately for that unwitting dps screaming “CHAAAAARGE” at the top of his lungs as he runs towards you, expecting to mop you across the floor, the tools brought by MoP have made it possible to turn the tides quite well when used correctly.

So without further ado, five tips for dealing with getting trained:

1. DON’T PANIC!!! – I say this because I know this was the first thing I used to do all the time.  Keep calm and get used to the idea that they attack you.  There are great pluses to focus on, like the fact that your partners are free to cc/cast at will and that you are gaining eclipse power when getting struck from our set bonus.  Realize that you do not have to be a scared chicken.  It’s tough not to get frustrated, especially when melee run right out of line of sight or behind you as you finish a cast (annoying rogues), but keeping calm can be more important than anything else I’m about to list.

2. Swap out talents/glyphs – I can’t express enough how important this is depending on who you are facing.  Being able to swap to mass entanglement when facing a BM hunter (all his pets look so sad when they can’t reach me ;D) or picking up HOTW when facing triple dps to help out with healing can be huge.  Start to experiment with swapping around, especially when it comes to glyphs.

3.  Make room to cast – We’ve been blessed with a huge number of ways to get casts off in MOP.

  • Typhoon – getting a knock back that slows their run back can give you time to get a cyclone or entangling roots off on the target, or even a big starfire if you’re working on some pressure
  • Displacer Beast – one of the best talents in game at the moment.  Even if you’re dotted, you can use this so many ways: aimed towards a pillar and immediately travel form around it to avoid the warriors charge, head towards your shaman so he can spirit link, avoid a casted cc or big frost bomb since it drops target, get a pounce off on an annoying hunter to follow with a clone.  So many more creative ways you can use it too!
  • Disorienting Roar – Can I just say how much I love this talent?  I rarely take Bash now (outside of 2’s where you may need to dps into the cc’d target) because having DO available on such a short cooldown makes it easy to get off cyclones, entangling roots, a final starfire into an instant surge to get some great burst out or to travel form around a nearby pillar.  It’s super annoying for a melee cleave and exactly what moonkins needed.
  • Solar Beam:  Too often people think of solar beam as a caster only stopper, including using it on a healer.  I find that for my first beam, a lot of times I can eliminate a ton of pressure on openers by placing it perfectly and standing in it.  DK’s, Ret Pallies, and Enhance Shamans can do very little when silenced and even Feral’s won’t be able to throw out instant cyclones or heals while standing in it.  Using it in places like behind the boxes on Dalaran or at the top of the ramp on Blade’s Edge can really give your healer some much needed breathing room during cooldowns.  Don’t get me wrong, I use it a ton on healers and casters as well, and I’ve definitely been known to open from stealth with the awesome combo of root-beam on the opposing healer to start to build pressure (cast entangling roots and immediately follow with solar beam and they won’t have time dispell before they are silenced!)  Just remember there are many ways to use it.
  • Wild Charge:  As awesome as Displacer Beast is, the combo of Typhoon into Moonkin Form Wild Charge (leaps backwards) can get you some awesome distance from melee.  You can even Wild Charge in caster form up to a second level by targeting either your teammate or one of your own Wild Mushrooms!  Experiment for yourself and see which playstyle you prefer.
  • Nature’s Swiftness:  Sometimes it’s as simple as not casting – using NS with a cyclone or entangling roots can give you the chance to step back a few yards and line up your burst. Or even to get a trinket out of them and follow up with a casted cc on the same target!
  • Ursol’s Vortex:  What a versatile spell! If it wasn’t for my love of Disorienting Roar, I’m sure I’d use this far more often.  Vortex is a great way to leave melee in your dust.  Combine it with a priest partner’s Life Grip, and you can find those two melee stuck for quite some time in one spot while you and your partner(s) nuke away at them.  It’s also incredibly good when paired with solar beam – in a BG this can literally be the difference between killing a flag carrier and losing the game!
  • Mighty Bash and Tauren Stomp: Both the racial if your Tauren and the talent if you choose it are incredibly good for starting a cc chain.  Stunning them, followed by a casted cc can setup quite some time where they are out of commission.  You can even choose to use the stun time to get off some burst, if it seems like the perfect time to make them go defensive by getting one of them low.
  • Nature’s Grasp:  Pop this and run.  It’s really great to get a melee off of you, and with the glyph, it’s only on a 30 second cooldown.  Just keep in mind that it does have diminishing returns with your casted roots as well, so you have to make a choice when using it if you recently rooted the target.
  • Symbiosis:  Don’t underestimate what an overpowered spell this can be if you pair it with the right partner.  Getting anti-magic shell from a DK or cloak of shadows from a rogue makes you immune to magic interrupts (death-grip, mind freeze, etc.)  The cooldown you get from a warlock allows you to cast without being interrupted.  As long as you aren’t stunned, you may be able to get off some burst during this time, even though the melee are training you!

4.  Remember you have heals! – With the new Glyph of the Moonbeast allowing us to cast in form, along with only a one minute cool down on Barkskin, make use of the fact that you can keep Rejuvenation rolling on yourself, or tie your Nature’s Swiftness into Healing Touch for a big instant heal.  And if everyone is getting low?  Get that root/DO/vortex off, run around a pillar and pop your Tranquility – it really heals for a lot and can be a game changer.

5.  Turn the pressure around – This is probably the most important tip, and by far the hardest to master.  If you want to see someone do it masterfully, watch Talbadar of Team EG play (pro Shadow Priest).  When Talb gets low (or someone else on his team) you won’t always see him go defensive, peel, or heal the low target.  What he will always gauge is whether he can turn the tide solely by pushing with a strong offense.  Keep in mind that if two players are training you, more than likely they can’t keep infinite cc on both of your partners (even if it seems that way!)  As you get more experience with your partners, you will know when these moments are, and by keeping your dots rolling on everyone (including pets!) for as many instant Starsurge procs as possible, you can be able to either keep targets low for your partners burst or be the one who get’s off the finishing blow with one of your instant casts and offensive cooldowns popped.  You don’t have to be a target who is completely free to cast for 20 seconds straight to pop your cooldowns – sometimes it’s enough to get 5 or even 3 seconds worth of damage out if the moment is right for it.  Just takes practice.

Hopefully this helps you take a step back when you’re riding the melee pain train and look at what you can do that’s helping your team, rather than just getting mad at Blizzard for the fact that you can’t get away.

FYI folks, I really am working on a new format that will allow comments – in the meantime, please keep the emails/twitter comments and questions coming.  I love the conversation and sometimes they really help to spark a new blog post or fix something that is incorrect in an old one!

For now, it’s time for me to enjoy some holiday excitement with my great family.  Here’s to wishing you all a happy, BG scoreboard leading, arena winstreak holding, flag of ownership planting holiday season!

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