Ahh, druids. Instant cast heals and near immunity to every form of control a mage provides. What’s not to love?
Attempting to control druids is something that is typically best left to other members of your team. Hopefully any other member. As a mage, the only form of control you honestly have over them is counterspell and it’s 4 second silence (you did get the silence, right?).
Druids have no form of escape from stuns or disorients (i.e. Kidney Shot, Blind, Hammer of Justice) or Fear abilities. Hence, your job against a druid will typically be to watch them carefully, and then slap them with counterspell the second they try to cast a heal. Most druids will not attempt to cast anything while your counterspell is ready to go (besides cyclone). A druid locked out of their ability to heal is match breaking.
You can also use the silence effect from counterspell as a further way to chain control over a druid, if you are on the cusp of killing something. Time it so that counterspell lands as soon as a fear/stun/whatever ends, so that the only real thing the druid can do is stand there, helpless, or attempt first aid.
Tip: Polymorph swapping. There are instances where it would be to your advantage to cast polymorph on a druid in caster form: To interrupt a heal, or just to flat out force them to spend a GCD. It’s called swapping because doing this doesn’t actually provide CC against the druid, you’re just spending a GCD to spend one of theirs.
You must be on the ball with Shatter combos when a druid is involved. The only reliable opportunity you will receive is with your elemental’s nova, and this usually must coincide with a stun. Otherwise, the druid has ample time to flee around a pillar, avoiding damage completely.
If your team has some strong melee (a rogue, warrior, whatever) it can be very well worth it to use rank 1 frostbolt on a fleeing druid quite often. As in, just shy of spamming it. Most druids will shape shift constantly in an effort to get away from your melee, thus spending mana (and global cooldowns) that could have been used on something else.
Also be aware that a rogue’s poisons are not nearly as effective against a druid, as they can cure any poison effect you hit them with.
This isn’t quite as effective against Dreamstate druids (the talent allows 10% of their intellect, in mana, to be restored regardless of the 5 second rule.) These guys do not run OOM; your only real option is to kill them. You cannot outlast them.
Moonkin druids are… special. They like to cast far more offensively, with things like Starfire and Wrath, than heal. Don’t give them a choice. Do enough damage fast enough, and the druid will have no other option but to heal. That’s when you clinch it, either by forcing a NS heal or controlling the moonkin and wiping out on of their teammates.
The overreaching strategy to defeating a druid is to apply heavy pressure early on, and then take advantage of any defensive cooldowns that were used.
Mage/Rogue versus Warrior/Druid
The druid will be stealthed (unless said druid is a complete idiot), so the idea is to force the druid to appear. As a mage, you get to go toe-to-toe with the warrior for a bit. Don’t really expend any effort attempting to kill the warrior, merely harass him. Depending on the bracket you’re in, the warrior will either brazenly charge out and attack you, or attempt to hide behind pillars and so forth.
As soon as the druid pops out of stealth, now cooldowns get blown. Strategies diverge at this point, some attempt to control the druid and wipe the floor with the warrior, others suddenly sheep the warrior and keep him controlled while killing the druid.
Either way, the idea is to keep one of them locked down while the other gets destroyed. Let’s assume, for this example, the kill target is the druid.
Sheep the warrior, and immediately queue a second sheep. The vast majority of warriors will trinket right away, in an effort to save their druid. Be ready to cancel the cast, however, in case the warrior decides to eat the sheep. In this case, if the sheep goes for it’s full duration, be ready to cast it again as soon as it’s about to break. Try to get the timing down to where the new polymorph lands as soon as the old one expires.
Bust out the elemental, and go to town on the druid. The rogue should have the druid stunlocked, thus allowing you to DPS with impunity. Time counterspell to land as soon as Kidney Shot ends; you need as much time as possible to get the druid down, before the druid starts runnin’ for the closest pillar.
Nobody here but us druids… oh yeah, and this idiot mage trying to find us. Pff, can’t wait for rank 1 Blizzard to get nerfed.
Mage/Druid/Warrior versus Druid/Warlock/Warrior
Exactly as before, the idea is to open up on the warrior, except this time, you’re actually shooting for a kill here. Well, almost. You’re actually trying to force the druid to use Nature’s Swiftness, so he doesn’t have it later. From here on out, it’s practically a free for all.
It may also be worth it to Counterspell/Cyclone the druid a this point, in order to finish off the warrior. Cyclone is typically not going to work, as the druid will trinket out of it and blow NS to save the warrior. If you can kill the warrior, great, if you can’t, well hey, you don’t need to worry about NS anymore.
Note: When you attempt to mess something up like this, either by forcing a cooldown or otherwise ruining your opponents day, this is called a “gib”. Most “gibs” involve suddenly dealing a massive amount of damage to a target, usually in a target swap.
If the warrior is not successfully killed, it’s time to swap to the warlock. As your warrior was attacking theirs, chances are good that your warrior critically hit a time or two. Thus you, dear mage, need to wait for that specific DoT (Deep Wounds) to give out before you can sheep. The druid should Cyclone until it’s gone, then you can take over keeping the warrior out of the fight. Obviously if your warrior didn’t take Deep Wounds you do not need to worry about this.
Take out the felpuppy. Doing so will make your life much easier, as now you’ll be able to cast (relatively) freer, and the warlock is easier to kill. Try to prevent a resummon from occurring (usually a Voidwalker), but if you can’t, be ready to destroy the new pet as fast as possible.
With no pet, Mortal Strike up, and their warrior completely out of the game, the warlock should be easy to drop.
Bear in mind that for this matchup, taking advantage of a bad mistep on your opponent’s side takes priority. If their druid, for instance, suddenly finds himself far from the cover of a precious pillar, just begging to get pounded, oblige him.
Playing With Druids
Note: The druids root ability and your root abilities share diminishing returns.
Druids and mages can make surprisingly good partners in death, especially if the druid is more offense oriented. With polymorph, cyclone, and various roots, these two classes bring a massive amount of crowd control to the table.
If on a smaller team (i.e. 2v2, with the druid specced for moonkin or at least dreamstate), this specific team composition has a great deal of longevity, as well as intense burst damage capability. You hear about them every now and then… horror stories where, seemingly out of nowhere, a shatter combo and a starfire crit appeared…
Tip: in a Mage/Druid setup for 2v2, the druid should not cast any buffs on the mage. This will trick the opposing team (at least, the first time you play against them) into thinking that your team is Mage/Rogue. Many teams, especially those with a rogue, will open up on the mage. Imagine their surprise when out comes the druid, and suddenly the mage is not a viable target anymore.
Moonkin/Mage versus Warrior/Druid
Just as an example of how mage/druid works together.
With this setup, you will largely be attacking the warrior, unless the druid leaves himself open (again, away from his precious pillars). It is often possible to get the opposing druid to trinket out of cyclone while the warrior is under pressure, and will subsequently leave themselves open to a major burst attack.
Then, target swap away! Drop a shatter/starfire and go from there. Bash, counterspell, whatever works.
Another reason why cyclone is brutal to use against another druid is HoTs “falling off”. While cycloned, they keep ticking, but do nothing, and the druid can’t recast them. Win/win, all around. This is why cyclone is considered an offensive spell just as much as it is a defensive one.
If the druid is casting Healing Touch on the warrior, for instance, and the mages counterspell is down, cyclone can be used on either one of them to prevent the heal. Cyclone the warrior, and the heal goes off… doing nothing.
Tip: Polymorph/Hibernate. As mentioned above, casting Polymorph on a druid in caster form forces them to spend a GCD. Shortly after this polymorph goes off, the druid in question will now be in an animal form of some sort. Meaning that your druid can cast Hibernate, putting that druid to sleep for ten seconds!
That’s all I got for druids.
Stay tuned to the comments for additional strategies/tips/tricks!