This guide is a work in progress.
This guide is about playing intelligently, about OPTIMIZING your class options, about exploiting the internal mathematics of the game to your advantage. I'm not going to mince words. I'm not giving points to Role-Playing when it's undeserved. I'm not going to list ridiculous options. This is an optimization thread.
Let's get started.
The druid's role is that of a controller. You will not be the most damaging combatant nor are you the most resilient nor the most adept at buffing or restoring hit points. However, through intelligent use of your abilities, you can control the battlefield so as to make the your allies' jobs much easier.
As per the hybridization of roles in the PHB2, in addition to your role as a controller, you can fulfill the role of either a secondary striker or a secondary leader. The most salient characteristic of a druid is the ability Wild Shape. This lets you change your form as a minor action into that of an animal. The animal you choose has no effect on game mechanics (a wolf is a panther is a bear), and as such if you choose a bird you can not fly, if you choose a rat you are not tiny, etc. Functionally and mechanistically, all uses of the wild shape power are the same.
Some of your powers (those that have the beast form keyword) can only be used while wildshaped. Similarly, those that don't have the beast form keyword, can only be used while not wildshaped.
Playstyle: The true strength of the druid lies in versatility. You can jump into the melee fray and control anything that's getting out of hand, charge an enemy to peel them off your casters, then shift out (and I do mean shift :D ) of beast form and throw out AoE control. I will discuss playstyle more throughout the guide and in a gameplay section at the very end.
Purple: Limited situational use.
Black: Unremarkable; why not take a blue instead?
Blue: Great option, if you can't take sky blue, take this.
Sky Blue: Optimal.
AV - Adventurer's Vault
MP - Martial Power
PHB - Player's Handbook
PHB 2 - Player's Handbook 2
References & Formatting Ideas:
Treantmonk's exceptional guide for controllers, hear him wax poetic about the virtues of control.
Everyone who posts suggestions/corrections/etc. in the thread. I'm greatly indebted to your hard work and I will be naming you individually at the bottom of this guide. This is as much the work of many as it is my own.