“Don’t you know,” she said pityingly, “that everybody’s got a Fairyland of their own?”
P.L. Travers, Mary Poppins
Utility is talked about, roughly, as the things that classes can do outside of their role as DPS, Healer or Tank. An Interrupt is a utility and the cooldown is different for different classes. Crowd Control in the form of traps, polymorph, roots are all utility spells. There are other examples, like the Lock TV.
Druid are unique and, frankly, are loaded with utility. Legion has given us Affinity “stances” (so to speak), strengthening our utility by a Talent but also has removed common spells in our books by moving them to the Affinity.
Ignoring the Affinity Talent for the moment, if you are a Resto-Druid the ranged moonkin-type spells are always available. You can dot with Moonfire and cast Wrath. You don’t see the moonkin choice unless you have chosen the Affinity. The other shapeshift choices are there on your bar: guardian, feral, travel.
The utility of “going bear” while in Resto spec is that your armor is increased by 200%. You can use the Bark Skin spell for temporary toughness. The default is sneaky in that it only pre-loads Bark Skin but you can put Growl on your bar. And you have your three “works in all shape-shift forms” Talents: Mighty Bash (a stun), Mass Entanglement (group root) and Typhoon (group knock back and daze) — all instant cast with fairly long cooldowns. However: gone are our offensive spells: we can not mangle or thrash without the Affinity Talent.
“Going Bear” is all about opportunity. Being able to survive jumping on a bomb can be a big help to the team. By casting Growl on an add, running away and casting Entangling Roots, you can “kite” mobs and leave them stuck in the back of the dungeon. You might be able to save the day if the tank goes down but you are sacrificing your healing job: really, a flip of the coin when things are going bad.
“Going Kitty” is great because you have Dash and Prowl. Prowl is fantastic for weaving through mobs that you don’t want to engage (typically when soloing in the world). Dash is always useful and a signature spell for the Druid. In dungeon content, you might cast Entangling Roots and Dash your way out of the dungeon door!
Travel Form is simply that; we get to look different and move different than anyone else. We can fly, swim or even be a stag that offers a ride to your weary buddy.
Take the time when the pre-expansion patch drops to set up all of your action bars. Be ready to “go bear” on the fly with your spells where they need to be: same with the Affinity Talents: preset them and know what to expect when it is on demand.
The Affinity Talents are strong, very strong. Now we cross the line from core utility and really consider it part of our spec. Resto/Balance is a healer who can do some additional DPS from range. Resto/Feral is a healer who can do some additional DPS from melee. Resto/Guardian is a healer who can off-tank (wow!).
Anticipating your ambition and knowing the encounters will make your Resto-Druid shine. Savvy Druids will be learning the dungeons in Legion to see when our utility spells like Ursol’s Vortex are in demand and make a difference. Also, we anticipate our Affinity Talents and should use them at any and every opportunity. The same with Talents; having Renewal when in Guardian makes a lot of sense.
The key is being aware and looking for the chance and choice to use all of the weapons in your toolkit. Watching for when groups tend to struggle; rooting that add on Kilrogg in WoD or kiting an Infernal, can be the reason why everyone should want a druid in their dungeon or raid.
One more thing: our shapeshifting is instant. We Druids are always ready.
Finally, let us give a nod to the passing of Stampeding Roar. No longer available to the Resto-Druid, it was once a great utility spell!