|A request has been made for this article to be peer reviewed in order to receive a broader perspective on how it may be improved.
The information in this guide is intended for endgame feral dps players in groups and raids. Pool information here and help update this to avoid having multiple out-dated guides on several different websites.
Practice. I’ve spent upward of 50 hours on a target dummy in Stormwind since the launch of WotLK practicing feral dps. The result is that I perform VERY well for the gear that I have. Being good at feral dps means thinking about your buffs/debuffs 10-15 seconds in advance. – Gwindor <Aeon> US-Suramar [A]
Specs and glyphs
- For Feral DPS specs see Druid_builds#Feral_Combat
- "Feral Swiftness and Survival Instincts don't directly increase your damage. But they offer very significant survival tools. Additionaly, both allow you to DPS for a second longer here and there." - Murna, ElitistJerks Cat DPS Guide for Dummies
- Feral Aggression generally affects only a small percentage of most feral dps damage on most raid encounters.
- Improved Leader of the Pack is useless if another feral in the raid covers that buff.
- 2/2 Improved Mark of the Wild is a large dps buff.
- Feral Instinct is useless on single-target raid encounters, but helps with trash mobs and adds.
- Survival Instinct adds a large amount of on-demand survivability that is very useful in the hands of a skilled player.
- Nurturing Instinct adds a small amount of survivability and may be useful on some hard mode/heroic raidfights if you have points to spare.
- Protector of the Pack affects Bear Form only.
- Infected Wounds is generally not useful in raids that have an Arms or Prot Warrior, Prot Paladin or Unholy or Frost Death Knight.
- Improved Mangle is generally needed due to the dynamic nature of many raidfights - having to run through a boss or attack adds and bosses from bad angles. YMMV on specific fights or with specific raid compositions. This talent issue is disputed.
Glyph of Savage Roar, Glyph of Rip and Glyph of Shred will give you the most dps as of Patch 3.3.0. Check Rawr or Toskk's Dps Gear Calculator for exactly how much each contributes to increasing your dps, and the value of alternatives in subsequent patches. For specific hard mode fights other combinations may be better, e.g. on Heroic Anub'arak it is recommended to switch out the Glyph of Shred for Glyph of Berserk due to the extremely dynamic nature of the fight, the importance placed on Berserk + Swipe (Cat) on the first wave of adds and the relative lower overall amount of damage from Rip in the fight.
QUESTION: When and when not to extend a Rip with one more Shred rather than re-apply Rake?
Minor glyphs do not affect dps, though an exception is Glyph of Dash which can raise your life expectancy and/or improve your effective time in melee range on some fights.
Feral Dps relies on a system of priorities, i.e. an algorithm - although this is commonly referred to as a Rotation. The first lines are always more important, i.e. Mangle is more important than Savage Roar which is more important than Rake which is more important than Shred. Keep in mind that the following algorithm is designed to maximize the raid's overall dps as opposed to your own, and sometimes you will have to switch targets to adds that may die too fast for you to "ramp up" effectively.
- With 3 or more targets in range in front of you and it doesn’t matter which dies first, use Mangle to keep up Savage Roar and use Swipe (Cat) whether it’s talented or not. If targets die too quickly or you can't get in a good position to Swipe (Cat), just concentrate on Savage Roar and Mangle/Shred, alt. Mangle/Rake if using Idol of the Crying Moon.
- With two targets and it doesn’t matter which will die first, pick the one that will last the longest and proceed with single-target dps:
- Keep up Feral Faerie Fire unless you have a boomkin who puts up Improved Faerie Fire in the first second or two – and keeps it up.
- Keep Mangle up - many 25p raids will have a Trauma-specced Warrior who does this automatically, or a Bear tank. If you're keeping this debuff up for the raid, it's by far the greatest dps contribution you can make, as it greatly affects the damage from Warriors, Rogues and some Hunters using bleed effects.
- Keep Savage Roar up – you want 100% uptime, though in reality it will drop during Innervates/Rebirth/phase-changes/run-in-run-out mechanics etc.
- If you know threat will not be an issue or you've already taken steps to deal with it (by talking to a Paladin about getting Hand of Salvation ahead of time), use Berserk at this point in the intial pull to maximize the chance of using Berserk as many times as possible in a fight.
- Keep Rake up but don't clip it - if you clip it, it may cost you energy and give you a combo point, but not overwrite or extend the bleed effect. (This has not been confirmed to be a bug or intended behaviour.)
- Shred - a Rip-extending Shred may be higher damage-per-energy than Rake - REFERENCE NEEDED
- Get 5 Combo points then Rip – unless Rip is already up, in which case pool energy and wait
- If < 35 Energy then Tiger's Fury or Nature's Grasp (which can proc Omen of Clarity)
- If Omen of Clarity procs then Shred unless Mangle or Savage Roar is about to run out
- If you have 5 Combo points and there’s 8 seconds or more left on *BOTH* Savage Roar and Rip, then and only then Ferocious Bite - ideally you want easy 5 Combo points afterward, e.g. Tiger's Fury coming off cooldown.
- anticipate if Savage Roar and Rip will run out concurrently, and clip Savage Roar to desynchronize the timers with a low-Combo Point Savage Roar immediately. Clip Savage Roar, but don't clip Rip unless you're about to lose melee contact with the boss for an extended period of time.
- Berserk as early and as often as possible except:
- Save it to take advantage of a boss mechanic
- Try to stack with cooldowns like Hysteria or Shattering Throw
- Try not to Berserk within 6s after Tiger's Fury except for the first one, nor at low Energy and not at above 85 Energy REFERENCE NEEDED.
Do everything right, with decent to good gear, on a static fight - according to some calculations in SimulationCraft you could end up with 40% downtime, i.e. just pooling energy - a key part of becoming a good feral dps player is recognizing when this is a good thing, and how to line up GCDs for best effect as timers collide chaotically.
The above dps algorithm also happens to be one of the most complicated in the game, and according to the World of Warcraft Lead Systems Designer Greg Street, a.k.a. Ghostcrawler:
NOTE: The algorithm is not set in stone. Fight mechanics, Innervate, Rebirth, adds, void zones, standing in fire and even things like gear that necessitates that you keep a stackable buff up - will all play havoc it.
- Ferals require substantial ramp-up time before the damage really gets going, averaging 5-7 seconds in melee range to get Mangle, SR, Rake and Rip up. You want to draw your raid leaders’ attention to this if needed, so you don’t end up switching targets more than necessary, especially at low energy. Other specs have little to no ramp-up time and much more burst-on-demand, but the situation and raid composition dictate tactics, which means you will have to do the best you can, given what the raidleader needs done. Keep in mind that many other dps players would rather be sticking to one single target as well.
- You will not always be able to remember every step in the algorithm, but in the UI section you will find solutions to this headache.
- "This relatively high complexity pays off; you have the potential to top the charts on any fight without a gimmick stacked against you."- Astrylian of <Aeon> on US-Suramar[A], Author of Rawr
- No other spec currently in the game needs to be behind its target to do competitive PVE damage.
Feral dps players are thus disproportionately concerned with getting and staying behind the boss. Be aware that "behind" the target is defined as anywhere in melee range in the rear 180-degree arc. (IMAGE NEEDED) To the side and just slight behind the middle is fine, and sometimes it's possible to Shred while technically facing the wrong way inside the target's graphic model. Many bosses and adds rotate quickly and unpredictably, e.g. Lady Deathwhisper, Stormcaller Brundir, Lord Jaraxxus and it may be worth your while to decide whether to continually adjust or to just refresh the Mangle debuff instead. If you’re the only feral dps then the raid may be better off positioning to your disadvantage, but if maximizing your dps becomes an issue, the raid may have to accommodate this unique positioning requirement. Keep in mind that most raid leaders are stressed, don’t know everything about every class, rarely have perfect raid comps and face a lot of competing priorities.
With the increased importance of Situational Awareness comes a great need to be able to see personal melee positioning very clearly, while simultaneously being very aware of your health, energy, combo points, target's health, target cast bar, various buffs, debuffs, cooldowns, boss emotes, raid warnings, possible Innervate targets and possible Rebirth targets. A common solution to this is to use UI addons to centralize a lot of this information much more effectively than the stock UI does - for details see the Feral druid resources page.
Each stat will change in dps value for you as you change gear and buffs/debuffs and boss mechanics. Toward the end of WOTLK, ferals will be able to meet multiple hit, crit, Armor penetration and Expertise soft and hard caps. It’s getting VERY complicated and the values of various stats as you approach these caps will become very skewed to the point that general recommendations no longer apply. For example, as you approach the Armor penetration hard cap the value of hit and Expertise goes up way out of normal proportions. You can either do tons of math and reading and theorycrafting or just let a calculator help you with it, imperfect as Rawr, Toskk’s and SimulationCraft may be.
In the context of stats, the term "hardcap" refers to the point at which equipping more of a particular stat will have no additional value. Many trinkets have procs that when triggered put a player close to, or above the hardcap. "Softcap" simply means that you're at the point where, when the trinket procs - you're precisely at the hardcap.
As the WOTLK expansion cycle nears its end, it's becoming easier for feral raiders to reach various hard and soft caps on Hit, Crit, Armor Penetration and Expertise. As you approach these caps the values of some other stats become disproportionately large, e.g. the value of Hit and Expertise go up dramatically as you approach the Armor Penetration hardcap.
Many feral dps guide authors recommend either gemming for Agility or Armor Penetration based on how much Armor Penetration you already have on your gear if you are unwilling or unable to use programs like Rawr, SimulationCraft or web apps like Toskk's Dps Gear Calculator. REFERENCE NEEDED
It is normally not recommended that a feral worry about the hit cap unless the player has a difficult time with the rotation being thrown off by misses, or in extremely dynamic fights where missing a key finishing move can disproportionately lower effective dps. For further information, model your character/fight in Rawr, Toskk's or SimulationCraft - or see ElitistJerks.
- Hit cap against a level 80 target: 164 hit rating or 5% (numbers useful against some adds and in pvp only, not bosses).
- Hit cap against a level 83 target: 262.32 hit rating or 8%.
- With Draenei in your group due to Heroic Presence, against an 83 target - 230 hit rating or 7%.
It is normally not recommended that ferals worry about the Expertise cap.
Expertise Cap vs lvl 80 targets: 5% (Dodge)/5% (Parry) = 20 Expertise = 163.9 Expertise Rating Expertise Cap vs lvl 83 targets: 6.5% (Dodge)/14% (Parry) = 26/56 Expertise = 213.13 / 459.1 Expertise Rating. Since you should always attack from behind, your target can't parry. Therefore you only need 26 expertise or 213.13 Expertise Rating [to reach the Expertise cap]. - Murna, ElitistJerks Cat DPS Guide for Dummies thread.
If Rawr, Toskk's or SimulationCraft isn't telling you to gem for Armor Penetration you should generally be gemming for Agility as it provides the most dps per stat point otherwise. The exception would be if you are close to some of the hard- or soft-caps. UPDATE NEEDED
Critical Strike Rating normally provides inferior dps gain point-for-point v.v. Agility, use Rawr, Toskk's or SimulationCraft to analyze based on your gear. The exact values of various white- and yellow-attack crit caps is still being researched. It is expected that many ferals will achieve some sort of crit cap in T10 gear levels. REFERENCE NEEDED
Cataclysm stats will be significantly different, with the aim of simpler, more easy-to-understand gearing decisions that don't require a spreadsheet or 3rd-party application to figure out.
Many websites and authors try to assign static values (Agility Equivalence Points a.k.a. "AEP", wowhead stat weightings etc.) to different stats in order to give various items, talents, glyphs or professions a static value that can then be condensed into a neat and simple list.
"Rawr [and Toskk's Dps Gear Calculator - Editor's Note] does not use SEP or AEP or any other kind of stat weight. The value of an item, or of your character, is based on a mathematical model that takes in all of those numbers. If you're hit-capped and hit provides no further benefit to your character, then an item with 100hit and no other stats will have a score of 0." - ebs2002, Rawr Developer.
If you're a fan of stat weightings, check out the ThinkTank blog, where the author also discusses many newly available items in-depth.
HOW TO DECIDE WHAT GEAR TO USE
Gear lists like Emmerald's, Think Tank and wowhead rankings - and the Agi/ArPen numbers given in the ElitistJerks Cat DPS Guide for Dummies thread are quick, simple and easy to understand, but don't take into account the rest of your gear or what you have to work with in the bank, nor help you figure out the opportunity cost of dropping a 2- or 4-piece tier set bonus. To put a number estimate on various gearing issues that hard to intuitively understand, use Rawr, SimulationCraft or google Toskk's Dps Gear Calculator.
When gearing up a new feral dps character, it is advisable to get fully epic gear in Normal and Heroic 5p dungeons first, then proceed to 10p and 25p raids while attempting to gather as many of the latest emblem/badges as time permits. 10p Heroic/Hardmode fight loot is sometimes on par with, or better than some 25p loot. To decide what to spend dkp and emblems on, you can first attempt to put a number on how much dps you would gain on a specific new piece in one of the resources below, and then divide that number by how much you would expect to spend on it as a rough guideline. The higher the number, the greater the dps gain per unit of resource spent. This becomes much more difficult when set bonuses are involved.
3RD-PARTY RESOURCES AND THEIR LIMITATIONS
Toskk's Dps Gear Calculator – strenghts & limitations
- Web-based application that is simple to use and understand, models static fights and is actively supported by a variety of feral dps theorycrafters after the main developer quit the game and received an Honorable Mention in the form of Toskk's_Maximized_Wristguards_(heroic). Does not directly help with figuring out the optimal gear set based on what you have available. Static fight only.
SimulationCraft– strenghts & limitations NEED BALANCED VIEWPOINT
Actively supported project for numerous classes and specs including feral dps, but some mechanics may not be 100% correctly modeled. Not suitable for the beginner without prior theorycrafting/programming knowledge.
Rawr - strenghts & limitations
Very actively supported project for numerous classes and specs including feral dps, with an emphasis on graphical UI and user-friendliness. The original author Astrylian was recently honored by Blizzard creating an item called Astrylian's Sutured Cinch. Rawr does not yet have a fully implemented BossHandler system for ferals and the web-based application is currently in beta testing. It is also very complex and can be confusing at first for new users.
ARMOR PENETRATION NUMBERS LISTS
Many guides on various forums and blogs have simple to follow lists of Armor Penetration numbers and what to gem if your other gear has a certain amount of ArPen. Following these guides will give decent to good results, but may cause you to inadvertantly disregard good gear upgrades that don't have that stat on them. NEED BALANCED VIEWPOINT
In order to determine when to keep and when to drop a set bonus in favour of offset gear pieces you need to do rather complex calculations that's most easily done with the Rawr Optimizer, though Toskk's Dps Gear Calculator can also help figure it out. The value of each new tier set bonus that's added to the game will depend on your other available gear.
BEST-IN-SLOT GEAR LISTS
BiS gear lists are generally not of much use to the average raider, and should only be used as a rough guideline of what's available at a given tier of content. If an item is not on the list, it may still be an upgrade to you depending on the gear you currently have available. These lists, found on many websites such as ElitistJerks, MMO Champion forums etc. - are still useful for high-end hardcore raiders who will eventually have the vast majority of all gear available to them from each successive tier of raid content, and need to theorycraft and compare best possible gear sets to decide how to spend their resources such as emblems/badges and dragon kill points.
Items like Idol of the Crying Moon - and set bonuses like 4T8 - can affect some or all of the normal Dps Algorithm due to needing to keep a self-buff stacked, or by affecting the rate of incoming combo points (already incrementally changing with increasing critical strike chance). For specific guidance, search wow wiki, wowhead, well-known feral blogs listed on the Feral druid resources page, google and ElitistJerks.
- Head – Revered with The Knights of the Ebon Blade for the Arcanum of Torment.
- Shoulder – Exalted with The Sons of Hodir for Greater Inscription of the Axe unless you have Inscription.
- Cloak – 22 Agility from Enchant Cloak - Major Agility or 23 Haste Rating from Enchant Cloak - Greater Speed unless you have Engineering or Tailoring.
- Chest – 10 Stats from Enchant Chest - Powerful Stats
- Wrists – 50 Attack Power from Enchant Bracers - Greater Assault unless you have Leatherworking.
- Feet – Enchant Boots - Icewalker if you could use the +Hit or else Enchant Boots - Superior Agility - unless you have Engineering in which case grab Nitro Boosts and enjoy an extra Dash.
- Legs – Icescale Leg Armor unless you have Leatherworking.
- Hands – 44 Attack Power from Enchant Gloves - Crusher or 20 Agility from Enchant Gloves - Major Agility unless you have Engineering. The Engineering hand tinker Hyperspeed Accelerators is best macro'd in with Tiger's Fury and possibly Berserk.
- Waist - Eternal Belt Buckle
- Rings - Enchant Ring - Assault - only available to Enchanting.
- Weapon – your other gear will determine the value of Enchant Weapon - Mongoose vs. Enchant Weapon - Berserking or even Enchant Weapon - Executioner at very high Armor Penetration levels.
(As of Patch 3.3.0)
Murna of EU-Kargath[H] in ElitistJerks Cat DPS Guide for Dummies:
- "There is only one Meta, you always want to have this one activated: Relentless Earthsiege Diamond. The Chaotic Skyflare Diamond is coming close, but it require 2 Blue gems and this requirement is worse than one yellow + one blue."
Astrylian <Aeon> US-Suramar[A], Author of Rawr:
- "They should use Rawr to be sure, but typically the best gemming configuration is a Nightmare Tear in the blue socket with the best socket bonus, agi/hit or agi/crit or agi/haste (ask Rawr) in yellows with good socket bonuses, and agi or arpen in the rest."
- "Note: If you’re still gearing up, feel free to substitute the blue or green variety of the gem... Bad players blow all their cash on epic gems/top-end chants in ilvl 187/ 200 gear, or worse, don’t gem/[en]chant it at all. Good players realize that in comparison to a 200g epic gem, a 5g green gem has 60% of the stats and a 20g blue gem has 80%."
If you truly wish to min/max your performance you will need to use the food and flask or elixir that Toskk, Rawr or SimulationCraft estimates is most useful for you based on your buffs, debuffs or raid composition.
"Pretty simple: eat for whatever your best stat is. Fish Feasts are slightly suboptimal, but they’re much better than nothing." - Alaron (http://thefluiddruid.wordpress.com)
Min/maxed raiders will likely go with Blacksmithing/Jewelcrafting on their feral raiding main, but other professions like Leatherworking, Enchanting and Alchemy also have good bonuses. Alchemy will also cut down on the consumables cost of raiding a fair amount. Even Engineering is nowadays no longer the pvp-only profession it used to be, and offers yet another useful high-mobility speed boost in the form of Nitro Boosts. Mining and Herbalism are generally to be avoided as they do not currently confer worthwhile dps bonuses, though Mining's Toughness bonus is good for tanking if that is your main role. Keep in mind that these and other long-term and costly player choices can change in relative benefit with any given patch.
For Engineering, it is useful to macro Hyperspeed Accelerators to Tiger's Fury and additionally to Berserk, as the on-use hand tinker haste bonus stacks well with the Tiger's Fury buff and with Hysteria and Shattering Throw which ferals generally try to time with Berserk.
Buffs and debuffs
From Alaron's Dps Guide post on his blog The Fluid Druid (http://thefluiddruid.wordpress.com):
While you don’t really have any control over this, here’s a list of the (major) raid buffs/debuffs which will increase your DPS, with a note over who brings what and a rough estimate of how big a buff it is. I’ve included our own buffs for comparison. TLDR version: bribe your RL to bring an enhancement shaman and a ret pally.
- Improved Icy Talons/Improved Windfury Totem (+20% haste, frost DK or enhancement shaman; any shaman can drop regular WF totem for a 16% buff): +6% DPS, +5% unimproved
- Abomination's Might/Trueshot Aura/Unleashed Rage (+10% AP, blood DK/marksmanship hunter/enhancement shaman): +6% DPS
- Horn of Winter/Strength of Earth Totem (+155 str/agi, any DK/shaman, enhancement shamans can talent for an additional +23): +5% DPS, +6% improved
- Sunder Armor/Expose Armor/Acid Spit (20% enemy armor reduction, any warrior/rogue/certain hunter pet): +5% DPS
- Blessing of Might/Battle Shout (+550 AP, any warrior/paladin, retribution paladins /DPS warriors can talent for an additional +137): +4% DPS, +5% improved
- Blood Frenzy/Savage Combat (+4% physical damage taken, arms warrior/combat rogue): +4% DPS
- Blessing of Kings (+10% base stats, any paladin, +8% version available to all classes via item): +4% DPS, +3% unimproved
- Leader of the Pack/Rampage (+5% melee crit, feral druid/fury warrior): +4% DPS
- Arcane Empowerment/Ferocious Inspiration/Sanctified Retribution (+3% damage, arcane mage/BM hunter/ret paladin): +3% DPS
- Heart of the Crusader/Master Poisoner/Totem of Wrath (+3% crit, ret paladin/mutilate rogue/elemental shaman): +2% DPS
- Mark of the Wild (+51 all stats, armor/resistances, any druid, +37 version available to all classes via item): +2% DPS
- Mangle/Trauma (+30% bleed damage, feral druid/arms warrior): +1% DPS (Note: this refers to someone else putting up the debuff, meaning you can drop Mangle from your rotation. No bleed debuff will drop your DPS by about 10% or so.)
- Improved Moonkin Form/Swift Retribution (+3% haste, balance druid/ret pally): +1% DPS
Keep in mind that these buffs will change in upcoming patches.
- Savage Roar is the most important buff or debuff a feral needs to keep track of.
- Buffs from idols and other items are generally not as important and happen as a consequence of normal play, but still of concern to the hardcore feral raider trying to stack as many beneficial buffs as possible - even to the point of sometimes keeping track of item's internal cooldown to line them up with on-use items and skills.
- Dps cooldown abilities and proccing item buffs tend to all get activated in the first ten-twenty seconds of melee combat, which can stack dangerously high and contributes to feral dps players' sometimes extraordinary threat problems early in a fight relative to many other melee dps specs, especially if the tanks are undergeared, underskilled or not receiving immediate Misdirection or Tricks of the Trade.
- Making these easily monitored should be a central consideration in any Feral UI design.
DEBUFFS BY YOU
- Mangle is the most important debuff a feral player needs to keep track of as it dramatically increases the damage of Dps Warriors, Rogues and some Hunters. It is equivalent to the Arms Warrior Trauma debuff, the presence of which makes the feral dps algorithm much simpler and more effective. Be nice to any Arms Warriors you have in your raid, or they may re-spec to Fury, which means they will now need you to press a button to keep up the debuff they previously effortlessly provided themselves.
- Rip is the another important debuff a feral player needs to keep track of as it does a large amount of damage per energy/combo point spent.
- Faerie Fire is usually provided by a moonkin in many 25p raids, but since this spec is a bit of an oddball historically - and tanks and resto druids are in high demand, you may be required to provide it if a moonkin is missing.
- Rake is a potentially powerful debuff depending on gear and situation, but normally one of the lower-priority concerns on the feral algorithm.
DEBUFFS BY OTHERS
Included in above Raid buffs section.
The Utopia addon will let you monitor in real time the buffs and debuffs you should be concerned with – and is especially useful if you think someone in the raid isn’t keeping a certain debuff up consistently. It can also alert you to gaps in Mangle up-time.
MANGLE AND FAERIE FIRE
Discussed in previous section.
Assuming the player is already doing near-top dps, Cat Druids are arguably the best choice for Hysteria – doing purely physical dps and able to stack Berserk and on-use items with it. Other classes’ burst dps cooldowns don’t stack with Hysteria or a significant portion of their damage is elemental.
From Murna's ElitistJerks Cat DPS Guide for Dummies:
- Arms Warrior - Does not stack with Wrecking Crew. Besides, they don't have strong Cooldowns to blow while Hysteria is up.
- Death Knights - A significant portion of their damage is magical and not physical. Dancing Rune Weapon scales only half with Hysteria, summon Gargoyle doesn't at all
- Enhancement Shamans - A good portion of their damage is magical. Feral Spirit, their Cooldown, is not affected by Hysteria
- Fury Warrior - Although all of their damage is physical, they cannot blow their big Cooldown Death Wish with Hysteria, because it doesn't stack.
- Hunter - A good portion of their damage is magical and their pet wouldn't benefit from Hysteria.
- Retribution Paladins - A very big portion of their damage is magical.
- Rogues - A good portion of their damage is magical.
Cats benefit by far the most from Hysteria. As long as you are quite close to the top DPS in your raid, try to convince your Blood-DK or your raidleader, that you should get Hysteria!
Realistically the minor damage differential between you and a Blood DK isn’t crucial unless you’re attempting content that’s at the limit of what your guild can handle, a.k.a. a progression fight. You might very well see more of a dps increase by min/maxing your professions or working on your skill usage, or trying to optimize the raid composition.
It’s also possible to stack weapon-enchant procs and trinket procs with Berserk and/or Hysteria, but that involves keeping track of internal cooldowns.
TRICKS OF THE TRADE
Tricks of the Trade is generally reserved for classes/specs that have much more reliable or better threat dumping or Aggro Dumping abilities. It should only be used on Feral Dps when Hand of Salvation or similar is immediately available or tank threat is simply not an issue.
Mana users will love you for this skill. Using it on will shift you out of cat form and initiate a global cooldown, which will lower your effective dps for the fight unless you do this while not in melee range. It is useful to have mana-users that need an Innervate make a macro with a few lines of "/w INNERVATE ME PLEASE" - or similar. Many raiding addons exist that keep track of other people's cooldowns, if your raid is using a variant of these the mana-users should be able to monitor when your Innervate cooldown is up so as not to bother you needlessly. Keep in mind that many specs have their own mana-return cooldowns available, and responding to a call over vent with an immediate Innervate may lead to several Innervates simultaneously on one target - wasting an important raid resource.
Simple macros are available that can announce who you just Innervated, and it's not difficult to set up a macro that immediately and without de-targeting your current target uses a skill on your focus target if you know ahead of time who you will use a skill on, see Feral_druid_resources for details. There are also addons that fulfill these functions, and can detect when the skill didn't go off as planned so you avoid spamming "Player X has just been Innervated!" to the raid if the ability was on cooldown still and you accidentally pressed it, or the target was out of range.
Knowing who is a good target for Innervate and when is a hallmark of a good feral player and one of the reasons a feral player can rarely get away with not having a full set of raid frames visible at all times on the UI, in contrast to many other dps specs who are rarely concerned with who is alive/dead or out of mana.
Your raid members will have to be coaxed into asking for early Innervates. If you don’t use Innervate on a progression fight, you’ve wasted a significant amount of class synergy as the skill is seldom worth much to you, and always try to Innervate a battle-rezzed mana user, though they will usually pop a potion or cooldown right after.
- Pro Tip: Keep track on your UI by having Grid set up to put a purple dot on whoever is below 40% mana.
Rebirth has a long and glorious history of chain-rezzing numerous people and saving a fight, or making an already lost battle last longer, or simply causing one of your frenemies a double repair-bill.
Ideally you and your raidleader would keep track of all available Rebirth cooldowns, and always consider rezzing a fellow druid if you have multiple victims to choose from to get a Rebirth chain going, where one druid rezzes the next who rezzes another who rezzes someone who has appropriately bribed the druids.
- Another reason to keep a full set of raid frames visible on screen.
As the long cooldown on this skill recently was cut in half, it has never been more important to learn how to use this skill quickly, efficiently and with a minimum of fuss in an already clogged vent communication channel.
Hysteria stacks with Berserk stacks with Shattering Throw stacks with Potion of Speed stacks with Hyperspeed Accelerators and many on-use trinkets . Learn the different cooldown lengths of all these skills and communicate with your fellow raiders ahead of time on how to best use your skills together. Coordinating these and various tanking/healing cooldowns is one of the hallmarks of successful WOTLK raiding, not unlike how raid composition was a major issue in TBC raiding.
One of the things you should ask the raid prior to each progression fight is:
- Hey <WARRIOR'S NAME> - are we getting any Shattering Throws and if so, when - and how will you notify us?
With some prompting, most Warriors can be cajoled into putting a /yell somethingsomething macro'd with Shattering Throw - enabling you to more easily keep track of their usage of this skill, not unlike what's already common practice with Shaman's Bloodlust/Heroism usage.
Bloodlust/Heroism generally doesn't affect Feral Dps skill usage very much since Berserk doesn't receive much additional benefit from stacking with them. It does mean slightly higher chance of Omen of Clarity procs and does stack with Tiger's Fury or any trinkets that add Attack Power.
Cower, the feral threat reduction skill, only lowers your threat by a flat 2432, which is a silly low number, less than the average white auto-attack. It doesn’t scale at all, which means as everyone’s gear gets better it just gets WORSE.
You’re better off just pulling out to save energy, since in the GCD that you use Cower, you will also auto-attack, immediately negating the threat-reduction.
This is where adds become important – try to attack some adds whenever you can if you know threat will be an issue.
It’s entirely possible for Feral DPS’ers to be top on threat but behind "pure" damage-dealing classes on damage, even given reasonably equivalent gear and skill.
Plan accordingly, recognize the warning signs of a problem early and ask for Vigilance or Hand of Salvation as early as possible or just back off. Make sure Hunters are using Misdirection and the Rogues use Tricks of the Trade on the tank. Watch out or the Blood DK might try to get you to pull aggro by giving you Hysteria even when you don’t ask for it.
Before a progression hardmode/heroic bossfight when there will be a tanking warrior and you know you may have threat problems, ask the raid:
- Who's getting Vigilance ?
All the gear and skill in the world won’t help you if you don’t know the fight mechanics. Read up on the fight and watch a video or two before the raid (Google, StratFU, TankSpot, BossKillers or use Wow Wiki's own Instances by level page), use Berserk asap unless there’s a time in the fight when the boss takes extra damage.
Ferals excel at mobility in WoW - no other class has so many movement options. Leverage this to your advantage by maximizing time in melee range as well as what you do while not directly causing melee damage. Don't try too hard or you'll push the limits too far on waiting for a melee nova to go off, or get tunnel vision trying to get in range to use Rebirth only to have them rez in a slime pool/void zone/fire. Commonly used class-defining skills are Feral Charge - Cat and Dash.
Time away from the boss or out of melee range is time best spent making sure you'll be able to get back in range asap, glancing at your raid frames to see Innervate targets and Rebirth targets – generally healers or top dps players.
If you know you will have enough time to shift back into Cat Form and regen to full energy, it may be worthwhile to get a free Omen of Clarity proc by using Gift of the Wild while away from melee range.
The Predator’s Swiftness buff from the Predatory Strikes talent now allows us to instantly battlerez someone. Therefore make sure Rebirth is easily accessible somewhere not on your primary Action Bar , as you need to be able to just press the hotkey without having to shift out first.
Cyclone, Entangling Roots and Abolish Poison/Remove Curse/Healing Touch (or Regrowth) and Innervate should all ideally have buttons not on your form-specific Action Bar , though with the massive amount of different skills a feral druid has to keep track of, this is easier said than done without UI addons.
Double Potion, Double Trinket
- On a progression fight you might use two Potion of Speed per serious attempt – one right before going into combat and one during any burst dps availability like Hysteria/Shattering Throw or increased-damage boss mechanic.
- If you find yourself with two very good proc trinkets that both semi-randomly give you a large buff to one stat to the point that the stat is pushed over the hardcap - you may wish to explore other gearing options. The alternative is to remove one of the trinkets and re-equip it (possibly with a macro) right before going into combat. This causes the internal cooldown to activate on the trinket that was just equipped, while the other one is ready to go off, with the result that the two trinket procs become de-synchronized and you get full value from both. This is an advanced technique useful only for a very few.
Analyzing your performance
See the Combat Log page for a list of 3rd-party programs that serve as central data collections where your raid members can analyze individual and group performance after or even sometimes during the raid.
How to use these different websites and programs is complicated and beyond the scope of this guide, though you should at least learn how to check your Savage Roar and Mangle uptime on any fights which don’t require significant time away from melee range.
Anything less than 90-95% on those types of fight means you’re probably doing something wrong.
"Another easy thing to check is how often you Berserked on a fight. If the fight lasted 3 minutes and 30 seconds and you only Berserked once, then you probably ****ed up." - Allev of <Serious Casual> on US-Mal'Ganis[H], feral theorycrafter
7 minute fight? Probably should have Berserked three times, first time in the first ten seconds of the fight, second at or before 3:30 mark, then at or before 6:30 and so on.
Some of the combatlog-parsers offer real-time feedback, but usually you need to use an instant combat log-parsing damage meter like Recount or Skada for that - the latter of which also serves as a threat meter.
For commonly-used Feral UI addons, see Feral druid resources .
It is possible to play as feral dps using only the stock UI. It’s just very difficult to do so effectively.
Feral DPS players have to keep track of:
- positioning/situational awareness
- target facing
- bossfight event timers
- player hp
- energy/combo points
- target hp
- buff/debuff timers - at least 2 buffs and 5 debuffs
- Rebirth targets
- Innervate targets
- Omen of Clarity
…and that’s on top of cooldowns, moving out of void zones, not pulling aggro, attacking the right target, adds, listening to calls over vent, making sure you’re behind the boss, running out, running in etc etc. - no wonder that some stressed out feral player created this: http://coldbear.files.wordpress.com/2009/11/catdps.jpg?w=500&h=1312, also known as the JOHN ****ING MADDEN cat dps flowchart.
Watch the UI tutorials made by Daniel Moy at http://www.pvptutorial.com/ and then decide how you’d prefer to deal with this issue. His UI philosophy translates very well to a feral dps pve environment. Other UI tutorials are also available on YouTube or on the addons' hosted websites.
The most important information should ideally be within a short radius of where the player's eyes are usually focused on the screen. Scrolling combat text is a good tool for this, but if you like to keep your number of addons to a minimum you’ll find it useful to only display the information you really REALLY want or your screen will just become a cascading waterfall of green text. A popular way to get things more centralized and effective is to use one of many timer addons, a frame addon and an actionbar addon, or simply an addon to move the default Blizzard frames around to a more convenient location. For more information, see the Feral druid resources page.
Any ideal Feral UI would also make it easier to keep track of some important buffs and debuffs from other players: Horn of Winter, Sunder Armor, Totem of Wrath or Heart of the Crusader or Master Poisoner, Blood Frenzy or Savage Combat Poison, Hysteria and Shattering Throw.
NOTE on Spell Recommendation addons: Due to the nature and complexity of the Feral Dps Algorithm many feral dps'ers like to use a spell recommendation addon like Feral By Night or the newly developed and updated Ovale scripts. These are only ever accurate on static fights, and care must be taken to avoid slavishly following the recommendations since it will lead to standing in fire or ignoring how much target-switching and extremely dynamic fight situations play havoc with the algorithm. For more information, see the Feral druid resources page and ElitistJerks.
If you want to be successful at feral dps, you will have to learn how to use Macros.
For commonly used feral macros, see Useful macros for druids .
A "/startattack" line in each non-stealth, direct-damage, melee skill macro means you start auto-attacking even when you don't have enough energy to use the skill you just pressed.
With 10 slots on your primary Cat Action Bar and TWENTY-THREE abilities commonly used in Cat Form you simply have to find a way to double up some skills on the same hotkeys or use an Action Bar Addon, a lot of modifier keys and/or the non-form-specific action bars.
Experiment and search Wow Wiki, the EJ and official forums for macros that suit you.
Count yourself lucky – at least you don’t have to deal with Powershifting anymore!
Hardware and keybindings
It is possible to play a melee dps spec by using your keyboard to turn and the mouse to click skills. It is NOT possible to do this efficiently. If you’re a keyboardturning “clicker” and want to learn how to do things faster & better, play a first-person shooter game for a while on your computer.
Many players find the default "WASD" set up constraining, and re-bind their keys to "ESDF", with S and F for strafing - and just turn with the mouse. Your left hand stays stationary, but you have more keys within reach. There are many variations to this.
It’s also possible to play WoW with the stock mouse that came with your computer, but it’s inefficient, slow and getting a good mouse can dramatically improve your gameplay for less than $100. Though new computer hardware is released continually, the best solutions for WoW players typically involve extra buttons, a gamepad, and/or keyboard with more/better features than the stock one.
Bind your most used abilities to the mouse buttons available. If you spend $100 to acquire a second monitor you will be able to do research and browse the internet during downtime in the game.
Research and development
To keep up with new developments and patches you can visit various blogs or websites like ElitistJerks once in a while, especially a little while after a patch once the really knowledgeable people have had time to figure out the new mechanics and priorities using tools like Rawr, Toskk's Dps Gear Calculator and SimulationCraft. You can also stop by the official forums or just read Wow.com.
Some really good feral blogs currently active are Think-Tank, The Fluid Druid and Feral Aggression.
For a list of websites and blogs, see the Feral druid resources page.
|Parl2001's Guide - Part 1||Parl2001's Guide - Part 2|
| Full movie|
Full movie download
Author's note: For update/errata check http://coldbear.wordpress.com/2009/12/04/things-i-got-wrong/
- Feral druid resources
- Useful macros for druids
- http://druid.wikispaces.com/ToskksDPSGearMethod - Online Dps Gear Calculator
- http://elitistjerks.com/f73/t63774-cat_dps_guide_dummies/ by Murna of <Legenden der Horde> EU-Kargath[H]
- http://thefluiddruid.wordpress.com/2010/01/03/the-33-cat-gearing-guide-part-1/ by Alaron
- http://www.tankspot.com/article.php?id=308463 by Geros on US-Anub'arak [H]
- http://www.stratfu.com/classes/druid/feral-dps-guide-work-progress by Ark of <Prophecy> on EU-Darkmoon Faire
- http://www.mmo-champion.com/class-druid/feral-druids-the-cat-guide-3-2!-edition/ by Paskgotsheal
- http://www.ensidia.com/home/guides/complete-feral/ by Tun of <Ensidia>
- http://elitistjerks.com/f73/t16902-feral_megathread/ by Dukes of <DarkStorm> on EU-Al'Akir[H] - included here for historical purposes only