This isn’t a comprehensive guide or anything, but does include a lesson learned the slightly more expensive way. As I recently mentioned i’ve started a baby druid and I am aiming to level him as Balance. It’s been a while since I leveled a mana user and Turkelife, my priest main, was the last one at least 12 months ago. I quickly rediscovered the annoying thing about leveling mana users… mana, or rather lack of it.
At higher levels these toons have strong mana regen both inside and outside the five second rule based on their gear. They also get a number of mana management talents which either further increase mana regen (e.g. Meditation for priests and Intensity for druids), provide a lump sum mana return (Hymn of Hope for priest and Innervate for druids), or clear casting effects which provide free spell casts (Surge of Light for priests and Omen of Clarity for druids).
But at the start they have nothing. My druid (Turketree) had 19 MP5 outside the five second rule and a grand total of zero mana regen inside the five second rule while in his teen levels. This means about every second pull he needs to drink 😦 This can be a bit frustrating when your trying to level a druid and your play time is not limitless.
There are a number of ways players deal with this: a) they buy a lot of water and drink it, b) if they are a priest they buy/make a good wand and wand things to death for their first 30 or so levels, or c) if they are a druid they bear form and melee stuff. I believe leveling as feral (bear/cat forms) is the norm for druids.
I, as I often do, wanted to do something a bit different so i’m leveling as Balance. To deal with the mana issues I flipped and flopped around with my talents, respecing several times. Eventually I am aiming for something like this. Initially I started up the Balance tree and ran into the the mana regen issue I just described. Then I respeced and took the resto talents, but they don’t help until level 19 when I finally reach Omen of Clarity. So then I Googled and found only a few suitable posts about leveling as Balance, which seemed to say going straight up Balance was the way to go. So I respeced back there. A couple more levels of drinking and frustration and I finally returned to the resto tree.
Finally at 23 I ended up with this build. The mana issues started to fix themselves very swiftly even from level 19 when I took Omen of Clarity. I was healing Wailing Caverns (love that instance) with a PUG when I hit 19 and it was easy to tell the difference as soon as i did. I immediately started drinking about half as much. You wouldn’t think it from the talent description but it made a huge difference. A free Regrowth most pulls was both a big heal and a big mana saving.
So long-story-short, if you’re planning on leveling as Balance take the mana regen talents from the resto tree first and just live with the fact you’ll be getting Moonkin form at level 54 instead of 40.