Master of Forms, Storms, and Swarms: A Druid Handbook
I'm currently working on migrating all of the material in this guide to my new guide, Call of the Wild. This guide will no longer be updated. The new guide will include the Sentinal build.
So you've chosen to be a Druid. In doing so, you've chosen to be anything (in a manner of speaking). Thanks to Wild Shape, you can slip into the form of any natural or fey beast, though in reality your imagination is the limit: the PHB2 even suggests that some Druids use Wild Shape to emulate the Primal Beast by become an indistinct blur of fur and feathers, claws and talons. Your versatility is unmatched, but don't let that underestimate your effectiveness in a given area. The fluidity with which you can switch between melee and ranged combat is legendary, making you a wild card on the battlefield (and allowing you to be ready for anything the enemy throws at you). Finally, while you are labeled as filling the "controller" role, keep in mind that Druids tend to lean strongly toward a secondary role, and you have the option of focusing on any of the other 3: striker, defender, or leader.
Why Play a Druid?
- You're versatile: This class has no trouble switching between fighting in melee and at range. This appeals to players who like to switch their fighting style in response to the flow of battle. It's also a good option for a player that wants to try out the controller role, but still likes mixing it up on the front lines. Because they're often in the line of fire, Druids are tougher than the other controllers. Druids also get 1 more at-will than other classes, which gives you an additional option in combat (and Druids have several excellent at-wills to choose from).
- You double-dip in roles: Controllers can sometimes singlehandedly turn the tide of a battle, but let's be realistic here - sometimes there's just not a huge need for control. Instead of being swingy in their usefulness as most controllers are, Druids can fall back on a secondary role (or 2), in particular encroaching well into the territory of pure strikers. This can usually be done without sacrificing much (if any) control, and often you can control and strike/defend/lead simultaneously.
- You're the best Summoner around: Druid summons get instinctive actions, and while some of them are risky, there are plenty of "safe" onces to choose from. Attacking without the Druid needing to spend an action provides a nice boost to DPR, and is often a good enough incentive for enemies to attack the summoned creature, which means that you and your allies aren't getting attacked (and the summon's HP pool is "cheaper" than a PCs). Some summons even get some control effects tacked onto their instinctive actions.
- You're mobile: Only the Monk has you beat here, and even that's debatable (especially Predators). Wild Shape grants you a minor action shift (which can be a free action in Paragon) and Predators can significantly increase the distance with a feat, plus many of their powers grant shifts. It also helps that you're an extremely competent charger, so in theory you can Wild Shape (shift) to disengage from an enemy, use your move action to swing around and position yourself, and then charge a particularly juicy enemy (and probably end up flanking for the charge attack, given all of that re-positioning). Druids are great at punching through the front line and taking on the squishies in back, and take note that they have several tricks up their sleeve for locking down/severely punishing ranged enemies.
GOLD indicates what is essentially a must-have option, a rare gem indeed.
Sky Blue options should be strongly considered, as these are optimal choices.
Blue options are very good; they're generally useful and often optimal depending on build.
Black is average. Solid option, but you could probably do better (you're pretty safe sticking with these for thematic reasons, though).
Purple indicates a below average choice, but for certain character builds (or to preserve thematic consistency) it's still viable. Still, you shouldn't choose too many of these.
Red is pretty much junk. Take it at your own risk, but remember that you were warned.
PHB = Players Handbook
PHB2 = Players Handbook 2
PHB3 = Players Handbook 3
PrP = Primal Power (may also be referred to as PP, though I'll try to be consistent)
MP = Martial Power
AV = Adventurer's Vault
AV2 = Adventurer's Vault 2
D### = Dragon issue ###
PHH = Players Handbook Heroes minis set
HotFL = Heroes of the Fallen Lands
HotFK = Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms
MBA = melee basic attack
RBA = ranged basic attack
OA = opportunity attack
NAD = non-AC defenses (Fortitude, Reflex, and Will)
Molecule, for his excellent Druid guide, Heart of the Wild (which you should check out, because multiple opinions are useful).
LDB for the standardized format.
Everyone that posts with commentary/suggestions.