The last few days before a patch are always very painful for anyone who maintains an addon, or in my case a script for an addon. When Cata first came out, I picked up support for the feral Ovale script that we maintain on the Fluid Druid Forums. In keeping with the tradition established by Nightcrowler (the author of FeralbyNight, an addon we used back in BC) I have always based the rotation in my Ovale script on an optimized Mew simulation script. While that sounds simple enough, it means I spend time optimizing the sim script in Mew, then updating my Ovale script to match, and finally debugging the Ovale script on the PTR. And, I pretty much have to wait until just before the patch is released due to the ongoing changes to the feral class that we have seen in 4.2 and the accompanying changes that Yawning has been making to Mew.
The good news is, barring any unforeseen additional changes to 4.2 and/or Mew, I just completed my work on the Mew sim script and a first version of a 4.2 compatible Ovale script, which means the changes to the rotation for 4.2 are fresh in my mind.
Starting from the top… in case anyone has not heard, the optimum third glyph to use is now Glyph of Berserk. So be ready to grab some Dust of Disappearance, and swap out Glyph of TF (if you are still using it). This means that the base duration of Berserk will be 25 seconds, and the duration of TF will be 30 seconds. With the 4 piece tier 12 set bonus, we will sometimes see Berserks that are over 40 seconds in length (during Heroism) and will typically see 4T12 Berserks last just over 30 seconds. The result is that the optimum time to cast Berserk is during TF (preferably at the same time). As a matter of fact, the only time you would ever want to cast Berserk without TF is if you are in a situation where the Berserk is coming off of cooldown and is going to be clipped if you wait for TF (like the end of a fight) – and even then, if TF is coming off of cooldown soon (6 seconds seems to be a good rule of thumb) you should wait for it. So make sure you have TF macroed into your Berserk, and hit both together.
Next up, casting Ferocious Bite during Berserk. Clearly, this is important to do if you have the 4 piece T12 set bonus. As it happens, it is also a small dps up to cast FB during Berserk even if you do not have the 4 piece set bonus. No more complaining about endless Shred spamming during Berserk, FB is back. There are, of course, guard times. Make sure there is at least 5 seconds left on Rip and 3 seconds left on Savage Roar when you cast your 5 combo point FBs.
In case people did not get the message in 4.1, trying to refresh Savage Roar early in order to avoid having it come off of cooldown around the same time as Rip is no longer a dps gain. However, Savage Roar has been buffed in 4.2, and the rules around when to refresh it have changed. In the 4.1 rotation, there was a 6 second Rip guard time on Savage Roar. Basically an optimized rotation would wait to refresh Savage Roar if Rip was going to expire within 6 seconds, even if this meant an extended period of downtime on Savage Roar (as much as 8 seconds). The scales have tipped, if Savage Roar is coming off of cooldown, you don’t check for when Rip is going to expire anymore, you just refresh it. Keep in mind, Rip is still higher in the priority list than Savage Roar, and we do try to refresh it about 2 seconds before it expires, so this is really about the cases where Rip has more than 2 seconds left and/or we have less than 5 combo points. Nonetheless, it is trading off uptime on Rip for uptime on Savage Roar.
Did anyone else feel a cool “Wrath-like” breeze blow by just now? Not only is it a dps up to cast Ferocious Bite during Berserk, but it is also a dps increase to cast it other times. The guard times are very restrictive (can you say “level 80 Wrath“?), 14 seconds for Rip and 10 seconds for Savage Roar, but it does happen. I spent time on the PTR training dummy earlier tonight and it popped up in my Ovale script occasionally. Just be fast, because the window closes quickly.
The final change worth mentioning is in the area of energy pooling. Keep doing it, only more than before. When you are not in the middle of TF or Berserk, refreshing a DoT or debuff or hustling to get a few extra combo points because Rip and/or Savage Roar are about to expire, get your energy up to at least 85. This is a good 10-15 energy higher than what was needed in 4.1.
Now, having gone through all of the changes, it is important to remind all of you to keep these changes in context. Specifically we have a complex priority-based rotation, and all of these changes are still subject to a set of well defined priorities. To understand those, you should spend some time reading either my new Ovale script and/or the latest, greatest Mew sim script (which should be released in the next day or two and is available via SVN). If you really want to get a good feel for the rotation, download Ovale, grab my 4.2 script from the Fluid Druid forums, and play with it on the PTR. The 4.2 Ovale script is incredibly close to the sim script, closer than any other script I have done to date. Just get on a training dummy, setup both Ovale and a cooldown monitor of some sort, and follow the Ovale suggestions. You will quickly get a feel for how the rotation has changed, especially if you keep in mind what I have covered here.
In closing, I like the rotation changes. It has brought some life back into feral play. The endless Shred spamming during Berserk was mind-numbing. I think most of you will appreciate the changes. It does feel a lot more like the Wrath rotation did. Also, the best thing about testing with a premade T12 feral was not having to keep SoTP up and running. That is probably my least favorite set bonus ever. I can’t wait to get 2 piece T12 so I can lose the 4 piece T11 set bonus (hopefully forever).
Best of luck to everyone in Firelands. Soon we will be having Fire Kitty processions and dances! I am looking forward to seeing some cool Fire Kitty videos on Youtube ;)
P.S. there will no longer be zero range Feral Charges. We have estimated that the 4.2 changes are on the order of a 9% dps increase over 4.1 , but on fights where we used to be able to Feral Charge on cooldown while standing next to the boss, expect the improvement to be half of that.