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Skylake's Auto-Druid Guide

#1
Here is a guide to an auto-attack druid concept. It's built very similarly to an auto-mage, yet with some key differences. It's for druids who want to get into the nitty-gritty combat, who want to take up arms like their fellow rogues and warriors, who feel useless sitting around while they wait for skills to cool down and DoTs to tick in. The focus of this guide will be on leveling, but these ideas can be altered to suit a PvP build or even a bossing build.

Here's the key to the guide:
Green is good!
Orange is meh.
Red is bad.

The core of this build relies on making the most of your time while you're waiting for you skills. This means doing damage with your auto-attack. Most caster druids purely rely on skills—e.g. cast lightning bolt, cast strangling vines, wait a few seconds, cast-lightning bolt again, etc. However, there can be even more damage done in that time.


Build Types

The differences in these builds come from the weapons. The builds are centered around their weapons, which have their own pros and cons.

Hand-to-hand Build: Alone, your fists will not do any damage. But add elemental damage and level up your hand-to-hand ability, and you'll be able to hit hard and fast.

Totem Build: Druids are also able to use totems, which are one-handed, and so the offhand slot is free as well to add more damage. However, they are slower than fists, and require a bit of strength in order to make the crushing damage effective.

Novelty Build: Novelty weapons don't have any class restrictions, and there are some pretty strong ones out there. However, their effectiveness drops off at higher levels.


Stats

Focus
Focus increases your max-energy, but more importantly, it boosts the effectiveness of your skills. Prioritize this.

Vitality
Vitality is the second-most important stat. Being an auto-attack build, you need enough health to take hits from mobs. However, with support skills, you're able to minimize the amount of damage you take as well as recover your health, and thus you don't need too much health. Focus is more important.

Strength
Strength scales physical damage but not elemental damage. Thus, strength is not useful with one exception: a totem build will benefit from strength, as totems do crushing damage.

Dexterity
Dexterity is not useful at all for auto-druids, so long as you have the right gear. Dexterity provides attack, which you should get through gear instead, and defense, which isn't that important (unless you decide to use winds in your build).


Skills

Lightning Strike
An instant-cast skill, so it doesn't disrupt your auto-attacks, and it's got a quick cooldown. A great DPS skill, does magic damage.

Strangling Vines
A great DoT skill, just cast it once and it'll do the work. It lasts 30 seconds, doing damage every tick (hitting 6x). Once cast, it is unavoidable damage. Despite being "strangling" vines, they do magic damage.

Nature's Embrace
Normally I wouldn't use nature's embrace—nature's touch heals more. However, casting nature's touch mid-fight is a bad idea: its cast time is long and it gets interrupted often, so you will find yourself trying to cast instead of hitting the enemy and maximizing DPS. Thus, it's better to just cast embrace once and let the heal work in the background!

Shield of Bark
With an auto-druid build, you should be focusing on damage and focus boosting gear. Thus, you'll probably lack in armor. Shield of bark is great for solving that deficiency.

Stinging Swarm
Stinging swarm is okay, and it is another DoT skill that'll do the work by itself. It also deals unavoidable and irresistible damage. Yet it comes with a high energy cost, doesn't do much damage at low-levels, and it hits only thrice per cast (hits every tick over 15s). Use this at higher levels (100+).

Nature's Touch
As stated above, trying to use touch will hurt your DPS because if you're casting, you're not hitting the enemy. Still, if you have extra points and find yourself desperately needing heals in between fights, nature's touch isn't a bad secondary heal.

Howling Winds
A decent replacement for shield of bark is howling winds. However, I do not recommend using them both, as it is redundant to have two damage reducing skills. If you want to take less damage, kill the enemy faster instead of stacking your survivability. If you use winds, don't use bark and make sure you have enough defense (which may mean adding dexterity). See this guide for further info on winds.

Storm Touch
Storm touch does a lot of damage, but has a long cooldown and is not instant cast. Thus, it will interrupt your auto-attacks. While a good skill, I do not recommend, since you can do more damage with your autos.

The rest of the skills are not much use for an auto-druid.

Abilities

Nature Magic
Good for all builds, boosts all your skills.

Hand-to-Hand, Totem, Novelty
One of these is necessary depending on which build you choose, as it improves your attack.

Evasions
All the evasions are important, but not necessary. Still, it's good to start early and let them level up over time.

Gear Overview

Main Hand
Fists, totems, or novelty weapons.
Here are some good totems:

There are more totems than this, but those are just examples. I recommend searching through the Celtic Heroes Database for more info.

Here are some good novelty weapons.

As you can see, while novelty is strong at lower levels, it loses effectiveness around levels 60-80. It's best to go with totems or fists by then—either more damage or faster attack speed.

Off Hand
Use elemental damage + strength weapons from the lux shops (e.g., golden blade of ice, arcane axe of triumph, etc). The strength is even more critical if you're using a totem build.
If lux is too expensive, there are other elemental offhand alternatives: phantomblades, brands/torches, battleskewers.
However, consider stacking magic damage. More on this later.*

Armor
You can use a lux damage helmet (e.g., fiery helm of the champion, warmagic helm, etc) to boost your damage. Again, magic.*
Another must is heroic gloves of haste. Increase your attack speed!
For the rest of the gear, try to get focus or damage boosting armor. Some examples include wyrmbone, beastbone, otherworld armor, and earthstone. The shadow armors (duskshadow, darkshadow, spiritshadow) work as well, but the quests can be tiresome and the focus gain is minimal.
While getting main quest armor (warden, meteoric, frozen) is important for end game, they are NOT to be worn. They provide a bit of health and energy, but those stats aren't as good as more focus and elemental damage. However, if they're all you've got, they work as well. They give a decent amount of armor (for a druid, at least) but shield of bark is WAY better.

Jewelry
In the early game, a heroic ammy of rejuv is always good. However, after level 100, some lux options open up. Here are some damage examples: wyldgrove zephyr ammy, spectral ammy, and this starstone ammy. Again you can see that I'm favoring magic damage.* If you want to use amulets that boost focus and vit instead, that works as well. Here's a shrivewood ammy and an agrestal ammy.
For bracelets and rings, go for skill boosts. However, at lvl 120, aggy damage rings also open up to you. Consider only higher damage ones (40-50 damage) if you're going to replace your skill rings. Make sure you boost the important skills listed above.

Stables
For a mount, get a war elk. It gives vitality and focus, both of which are desired, but they also have a skill that does magic damage.* War bears work as well if you want strength and vitality along with its shield skill.
For a pet, I strongly recommend a purple phoenix* if possible. One of the ways in which druids differ from mages is that druids do not have lure. By getting a purple phoenix, you can reduce a mob's resistance to magic. Your DPS skills—strike and vines—do magic damage. So if you can get a purple phoenix, capitalize on its "magic lure" by getting magic damage gear as well: a golden blade of magic, an arcane helm of the champion, magic damage ammy and rings. You get the gist.
If a phoenix egg is too expensive, then a rabbit is fine as well: it gives focus, it heals health, and it provides energy regen.
Without a phoenix, it isn't necessary to focus on one damage type.

I'll now provide brief summaries of the individual builds.

Hand-to-hand Build
Fast autos, especially with haste gloves. Make sure you level up hand-to-hand.
Attack gear is helpful but not needed.
Stats
Focus: 60%
Vitality: 40%

Totem Build
Physical and elemental damage. Make sure you level up your totem ability, and find good totems.
Stats
Strength: 10%
Focus: 50%
Vitality: 40%

Novelty Build
Strong in the early game.
Stats
Focus: 60%
Vitality: 40%


Final Thoughts
How do you add even more damage on top of this? Food will maximize any additions to strength you have, and leveling with a mage friend who has lures would lower resistances. Hastes and attack lixes would also help improve DPS. Finally, as you level up, it's important to keep your attack up as well. This means training your abilities (wisdom lixes) and upgrading your gear.

Ultimately, what are the overall pros and cons of an auto-druid?

Pros
    - greater DPS
    - more kills per lix
    - faster leveling
    - (possibly) more fun!

Cons
    - expensive
    - high maintenance
    - lower skill damage than pure caster build
    - (possibly) too hectic!

It's up to you whether the cons are worth the pros. While it is an interesting and exciting build, it also requires a lot of thought and attention.

==================================================================

This concludes the guide. Let me know if there are any revisions or additions needed.

I plan on making a video showcasing this concept in action and reviewing its effectiveness.

I hope you enjoyed the read. Happy hunting!
Skylake
druid main
mage alt
Ronin - Belenus

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