Lunar Guidance, Spells and Talents
What Barkskin Does
Well first of all, Barkskin is self-only, like Paladin Divine Shield. Its damage reduction is percentage-based which means it scales automatically with the damage taken (unlike Power Word: Shield which scales with +Healing). Best of all, it can be cast through most forms of crowd control: stuns, ice, incpacitation, fears, or sleep. The damage reduction combined with spellcasting delay prevention and ability to cast while crowd controlled makes this an excellent PvP spell that’s available 12 seconds out of every minute. Unfortunately, it can only be cast from one of our casting forms — Elf, Moonkin, and recently Tree — which leaves Cat and Bear out in the cold (fortunately, they have fur).
How It Stacks Up
In terms of similarity, it makes the most sense to compare Barkskin to the Priest Power Word: Shield and Inner Fire.
Barkskin vs. Power Word: Shield
- PWS can be cast on others, allowing it to be used in a number of helpful ways that Vonya details in her article. As such, it’s generally considered part of the Priest healing arsenal. Barkskin, on the other hand, is self-only and is considered more of a defensive mechanism than a healing tool.
- PWS scales with a Priest’s +Healing, making the shield from a Holy-specced Priest better than that from a Face Melter. Because the damage reduction for Barkskin is an unmodifiable percentage, any Druid casting Barkskin receives the same benefit, regardless of spec.
- PWS can be cast on the same target once every 15 seconds and can be cast on an unlimited number of targets. Barkskin is only usable once a minute.
- PWS costs 600 mana to cast. Barkskin costs 12% of base mana (284 at level 70).
- PWS cannot be cast while under the effects of crowd control (although a friendly target can receive it while crowd controlled).
When used in self-defense, Barkskin seems to come out the winner. A 20% damage reduction, even if only for 12 seconds out of every minute is far superior to PWS, even when augmented with 1500 +Healing. In PvP, PWS isn’t likely to give you enough time to cast much, with Warriors that can Mortal Strike for 3k. However, one of the biggest strengths of PWS is that it can be used on friendly targets and it’s definitely a nice “crutch” in times of need.
Barkskin vs. Inner Fire
However, a more fair comparison for Barkskin might be the Priest spell, Inner Fire which, fully talented, provides an additional 2054 Armor. This effect lasts for 20 hits and can be refreshed for 375 mana:
Let’s compare the two:
- The 2054 Armor from Inner Fire when fully talented equates to an additional 13.79% damage reduction at 1500 Armor in Cloth (math presented at the bottom of this post). Compare this to the 20% reduction of Barkskin and the fact that Barkskin also reduces spell damage by this amount rather than solely physical (melee and ranged).
- The damage reduction of IF divided by the mana cost is .000367. The damage reduction of Barkskin divided by the mana cost is .000704, giving it twice the “bang for your buck” during the twelve seconds out of every minute it’s available.
- IF can be refreshed whenever the Priest needs to and isn’t on a cooldown.
- IF does not prevent spellcasting delay. Nor can it be cast when crowd controlled.
I’d probably have to go with Barkskin for this comparison as well. Because, while Inner Fire is available basically any time it’s needed, assuming the Priest isn’t crowd controlled, Barkskin includes a bigger damage reduction for more types of damage and for less mana. It also allows you to cast spells without worry of interruption by damage. On the other hand, if focus-fired the entire match, IF might end up being more useful, but really a Druid’s forte is avoiding being focus-fired for too long, especially in caster form.
The Secrets No One Told You
Of course, one of the most obvious uses for Barkskin is to allow you enough time to cast a Healing Touch, Entangling Roots, Regrowth, or Cyclone that can’t be delayed by damage. Here are a few additional ways that Barkskin can be used that you may not have considered, however:
- Barkskin + Tranquility
For a group heal that can’t be delayed or interrupted by damage. Who needs Improved Tranquility? No, seriously. Who needs it — you can have mine. Also usable with Hurricane to clear the Stockades in Stormwind at level 70 (if you’re Restoration-specced).
- Barkskin + Really, Really High Place = SPLAT!
You may have heard rumors that Barkskin reduces your fall damage by 20%, preventing you from dying since fall damage is based upon total health. This may have at one time been true but is no longer, probably having been changed when PWS was nerfed so that it no longer prevents its recipient from dying when jumping from high places. I know this because I just tested it, leaving behind a Phae-colored puddle in Netherstorm.
- Feared and a sense of impending doom via Warlock?
Pop Barkskin to reduce the total damage they can do to you while Feared by 20% for 12 seconds. Also helpful for taking the wind out of a 3-minute Mage’s sails (although the ones who spec for Air are already a little questionable).
Be it Warrior or Rogue, one of the best tactics to use against a Druid is to beat on them and keep them from retreating to Bearform until you can kill them. Pop a Barkskin to buy yourself 20% more time for the stunlock to elapse.
- Instancing and Raiding
There are a number of encounters where Barkskin gives you an advantage that other classes may not have, since it can be cast when you’re otherwise immobilized. Try it when Sacrificed by Terrestrian Illhoof in Karazhan or Thorngrin the Tender in Botanica. Or use it just before Gruul’s Shatter and you’ll take less damage than those unfortunate enough to be around you.
All in all, Barkskin is an incredible class ability that provides a lot of utility when used in various ways, both in PvE and PvP. I know that I personally need to get an itchier trigger finger when it comes to popping this ability when crowd controlled.
P.S. The “Barkbark” reference is to an oft-quoted post from a player who was disgruntled that Barkskin could not be used in Tree of Life prior to Patch 2.1:
Barkbark, new spell in 2.1.0
Q u o t e:
You don’t have any skin! You’re already made of bark.
Barkskin…. silly trees.
The damage reduction of Inner Fire was calculated using the formula from WoWWiki.com:
%Reduction vs. 70 = (Armor / (Armor + 10557.5)) * 100
So at 1500 Armor in Cloth:
100 * (1500 / (1500 + 10557.5)) = 12.44%
A 12% damage reduction means the Priest would still be taking 87.56% damage. Now add the 2054 Armor from fully talented Inner Fire:
100 * ((1500 + 2054) / (1500 + 2054 + 10557.5)) = 25.19%
That means that with Inner Fire the Priest would still be taking 74.81% damage. Comparing this with the 88% calculated without:
(0.7481 / 0.8756) = 86.20%
An 86.20% of damage taken converts to 13.79% additional damage reduction from Inner Fire.
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