Sep 122012
 

It’s here…the thing you’ve all been waiting for…(yes, all four of you)…the 5.0 Feral Guide!  /applause

As always, I’ll put an excerpt here, but go to my blog to read the full guide.


IntroductionHorkin Figluster, Art by Dave Kendall

What are feral druids? Well, we’re the druid melee DPS class, and we kill things, fast and stylishly. Overall, we’re similar to rogues (we have stealth, energy, and wear agility leather), but there’s less stealth and poison and much, much more bleeding.

Our primary resource is energy. It’s contained in a pool that regenerates at 10 energy/second, which can be increased with haste, and has a maximum capacity of 100. The majority of our abilities use this energy to generate damage.  Now, if that was all we had, things would be boring, but we have a secondary resource: combo points.

These combo points serve to create an ability rotation that is wave-like in nature. Many of our damage abilities will generate a combo point (or two) on a target. These combo points will stack up to 5, and can then be consumed by other abilities known as “finishers” to increase their damage. In almost all cases, you will want to use finishers with a full 5 combo points to maximize their effectiveness. Now, both of our primary finishers (Rip and Savage Roar) have relatively short timers, so doing good DPS revolves around keeping those two abilities up as much as possible, while using as many of our other abilities as we can.

(Oh, and if things are looking bad, we can turn into birds and fly away. Everyone else can have their sparkleponies; give me instant Swift Flight Form any day.)

Feral Strengths
  • Speed. With Feline Swiftness, Dash, and Stampeding Roar, cats are one of the most mobile roles in the game, bar none. As raid encounters continue to get more complex and require more movement, the ability of cats to open and close range quickly becomes essential.
  • Self-sufficiency.  We have two damage-reduction cooldowns and multiple self-healing abilities; we also can glyph for a permanent 20% healing done (to us) increase. We will not stress healer mana.
  • Best off-role potential. With the Heart of the Wild talent, we can jump into tanking or healing temporarily and “save the day,” if necessary.
Feral Weaknesses
  • Complicated rotation. Feral is easy to learn, but hard to master. Unlike a, say, arcane mage who gets all of his damage from direct abilities, a vast chunk of our damage potential comes from damage-over-time effects and self-buffs; you have to juggle these to keep them up.
  • Target switching. Once all our abilities are up, we can dish out pain like no one else, but it can take a while to get there. Unlike a rogue/warlock, we have no built-in way to “transfer” effects or combo points from one target to another, so we suffer in this area. (There’s always Symbiosis…but I’ll talk about that later.)

Primary Abilities

These are the abilities you’re going to use most often, so know them, love them, hotkey them.

Ability Icon Discussion
Shred 40 energy. Basic attack. Increases combo points by 1 (2 on crit). Does a good bit of damage, and does more if the target is bleeding (which thy should be). Your primary direct-damage ability, but it only works from behind, so paying attention is key; it’s far too easy to miss the error message that your attacks aren’t hitting.  If you are stuck attacking frontally (certain fights, no tank, etc.) sub in Mangle instead. (For experienced ferals, note that Mangle no longer has a bleed debuff.)
Rake 35 energy. A damage-over-time ability that hits (or “ticks”) six times over 15 seconds. Increases combo points by 1 (2 on crit). You’ll want to keep this up and ticking as much as you can.
Savage Roar 25 energy. Finishing move that provides a 30% damage buff for 18 to 42 seconds, depending on the number of combo points used. By far, this is the most important finisher you have. Above all else, you want this up at all times. If possible, you want to refresh it at 5 combo points to cut down on energy use, but if it drops, put it up immediately with whatever combo points you currently have. Note the glyph, which allows you to use it with 0 combo points for a 12 sec duration.
Rip 30 energy. Finishing move that ticks 8 times over 16 seconds; damage is based on number of combo points used. If Rip is on the target, the next three Shreds (or Mangle/Ravage) will add 2 seconds and an additional tick. Second in priority to Savage Roar.
Ferocious Bite 25-50 energy. Consumes all your current energy (minimum of 25, maximum of 50) and combo points for a large direct-damage attack. If the target is under 25% health, a Ferocious Bite will also refresh Rip’s duration. (This is known as the Blood in the Water or BitW effect, after the Cataclysm talent.) You can use this if you’re finishing something off, but you won’t use it too much in groups above 25% health; you won’t have the energy or combo points to spare.
Tiger’s Fury 30 sec CD, immediately generates 60 energy and increases damage done by 15% for 6 seconds. Off-GCD, so you can use this anytime. USE THIS ON COOLDOWN. I can’t stress this enough; people try to save it, which is a bad idea 99% of the time. If it’s available for use, use it UNLESS you’re above 30 energy (don’t want to waste the benefit). In that case, toss a Shred or two, pop TF, and keep going.
Berserk 3 minute CD. For 15 seconds, all of your abilities cost 50% less energy. Unlike TF, this one you have some flexibility on; use it when you’ve got a chance for some uninterrupted damage time. Note that Tiger’s Fury is locked out while Berserk is active; to best combine the two, pop TF and then immediately Berserk.
Soul of the Forest /
Incarnation
Force of Nature
You get ONE of these as your level 60 talent choice. Soul of the Forest is a passive bonus that effectively lowers the cost of all your finishers. Incarnation is a 3 minute burst cooldown that gives you a sweet armored form and some extra damage (by swapping Ravage for Shred).  Force of Nature is the old balance treants on a 1m CD that also stun your target. Overall, SOTF is the best choice, though certain fights may demand one of the other options.
Heart of the Wild / Dream of Cenarius / Nature’s Vigil You get ONE of these as your level 90 talent choice. Heart of the Wild is a passive bonus that also adds the ability to do off-role stuff temporarily. Dream of Cenarius completely changes up your rotation by asking you to weave in healing casts to buff your damage abilities; Nature’s Vigil is another burst damage cooldown that also adds some splash healing. Overall, Dream of Cenarius has the best theoretical DPS, but the DoC rotation is very difficult to use optimally, so I generally recommend Heart of the Wild.
Swipe 45 energy, basic area-of-effect (AoE) attack. Also generates combo points, so you can swap in Swipes for Shreds when you have a primary target and a few extras running around (known as a “cleave” effect).
Thrash 50 energy, AoE damage-over-time ability that ticks 6 times over 15 seconds. If a pack of enemies will last for a while, you want to Thrash them first then Swipe away.

That’s it! Master those 10, and you’ll know 90% of what you need to do.


This is an excerpt – full guide available here.

 Posted by at 2:24 pm

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