Feral Druids are a complex class on many levels; rotation, utility and play style. More often than not we are just lumped with the other melee damage dealers. Because of the Feral Druids complexity there are some things that often get overlooked or are unknown to raid leaders. This post aims to provide some insight by listing and discussing 5 things that raid leaders should know about Feral Druids.
1. Feral Druids should always attack from behind the target when possible.
It is important for all melee dps to be behind their target because mobs / bosses can’t parry from behind, they can only dodge; therefore your chances of landing a hit are increased. However it is more important for Feral Druids because our primary combo point generating ability, Shred, can only be used behind the target. Targets that can only be attacked from the front (e.g. Ultraxion, Major-Domo Staghelm, Magmaw, Kologarn etc…), put Feral Druids at a damage dealing disadvantage. When ever possible try to position yourself behind the target and discuss this quirk with you raid leader.
This problem of only being able to do competitive PVE damage while behind the target was addressed to some extent with Mists of Pandaria by making Shred and Mangle deal the same amount of base damage. However Shred has a 20% damage increase against bleeding targets making it the preferred choice. This change has made Feral Druids more competitive against targets that must be attacked from the front, but still not optimal.
The Glyph of Shred removes the positional requirement of Shred while Tiger’s Fury & Berserk are active. The advantage of this glyph is it allows the use of Shred while in front of the target but the disadvantages are that window of opportunity is very small and attacks can be parried when attacking from the front. This glyph is better suited to people still learning the rotation or using while leveling, but in a raiding environment there are better glyphs on offer.
2. Feral Druids are not good at target swapping.
Traditionally Feral Druid dps ramp up is quite long. Without cool downs it can take anywhere from 10-15 secs to get full powered bleeds and Savage Roar rolling, depending on combo point generation and energy regeneration (which depends on gear levels). For this reason you should discuss with your raid leader about being left on the boss / main target as much as possible e.g. Will of the Emperor. Encounters where killing adds is essential (Elagon, legs on Garalon) you will still need to swap targets in order for the team to succeed. Thankfully Mists of Pandaria has brought tools to aid with target swapping in the form of Symbiosis.
When used on a Rogue, Feral Druids gain the Redirect ability allowing the transfer of existing combo points to a new target on a 1 minute cool down. When used on a Warlock, Feral Druids gain the Soul Swap ability allowing the movement of your existing Rip and Rake to your current target. This is great if you have a Warlock or Rogue in your team, but not every team does. In addition there may be better Symbiosis choices in your raid that take preference over your personal choice. I will discuss this in the Symbiosis section further down.
Other techniques to help with target swapping include using the Glyph of Savagery and consuming combo points off dead targets.
3. Feral Druids bring masses of utility.
Feral Druids utility is a strong point of the class offering; interrupts, combat resurrection, 3 forms of crowd control, 3 types of dispel, complete role switch for 45 secs with the Heart of the Wild talent, raid wide healing cool down, raid wide movement increase and specialized utility through Symbiosis. I will go over each of these briefly, but this section will be quite long.
Skull Bash is the Feral Druids interrupt. With a 15 sec cool down it can be regularly relied upon. The Tier 5 level 75 talent Might Bash can be used as an interrupt on targets that can be stunned. With a 50 sec cool down and 5 sec duration Mighty Bash is highly versatile. Similar to Might Bash the Maim ability can also be used in similar situations. It is best to plan ahead when using Maim as “off the cuff” usage will limited by combo point availability.
Combat resurrection via Rebirth used to be unique to Druids. With Cataclysm, Warlocks and Death knights also provide combat resurrection. Combat resurrection of some form is considered mandatory in most raiding environments. When combined with a Predatory Swiftness proc or Nature’s Swiftness the spell becomes instant cast, very useful.
The Entangling Roots and Cyclone crowd controls can be used on any type of creature while Hibernate can only be used on Beasts and Dragonkin. As with the combat resurrection, all of these spells can become instant cast with a Predatory Swiftness proc or with the Nature’s Swiftness talent.
All Druids can dispel 3 types of debuff; poisons, curses and enrages. Poisons and curses are dispelled with Remove Corruption and enrages are dispelled with Soothe. Remove Corruption triggers the 8 sec cool down that came with dispels in MOP but Soothe doesn’t. It is also important to remember that using either of these spells will shift you out of Cat Form. With the design changes in Cataclysm and MOP Feral Druids will rarely be required to dispel. However, don’t forget that you have the option there. Noticing buffs / debuffs you can dispel will increase your situational awareness.
The Tier 6 level 90 talent Heart of the Wild is the epitome of hybrid play, allowing a complete role change for 45 secs on a 6 min cools down in addition to a passive benefit. Similar to Symbiosis, the usage of this talent may depend on the requirements of your raid to defeat certain encounters or situation usage when things turn sour. Discuss this talent with your raid leader and let them know what options are available.
Stampeding Roar offers raid wide movement speed increases. The wide range, short cool down and root & snare removal make this spell very useful. I wrote a blog post going into depth about the spell, its changes and good situations to use it in, in my last blog. Check it out.
Symbiosis is a very unique and powerful spell in the Druid arsenal. As such is requires its own section. See below.
Symbiosis is a spell that the Druid casts on another player granting the Druid a spell based on their specialization (spec). The target also receives a spell from the Druid based on their spec. For example, when a Feral Druid casts Symbiosis on a Paladin they receive Divine Shield. A Feral Druid will always receive Divine Shield regardless of which spec the Paladin is.
The Paladin will receive a different spell from the Druid depending on their spec. They will always receive the same spell for their spec regardless of the spec the Druid is. For example;
- A Holy Paladin will always receive Rebirth.
- A Retribution Paladin will always receive Wrath.
- A Protection Paladin will always receive Barkskin.
Symbiosis is a lengthy topic and won’t be covered here because I wrote a post previously about it and its application. Check that out. However there are a few points that I wish to touch on. Symbiosis has a lot of options available to you and can be difficult to remember. There are a number of tables / charts that show the spells you gain and the spells that your target gains and I have linked some of them below.
- WOW Head – http://www.wowhead.com/forums&topic=202586
- The Fluid Druid – http://fluiddruid.net/symbiosis-a-druid-primer/
- Fat Boss Youtube – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LekZHvuN98s
Symbiosis can be used several different ways. The first method is granting the casting Druid a personal damage increasing ability. The second way is through granting an ability that benefits the raid, through increased damage, healing or utility. The last way is by granting the target of the spell with an ability that only benefits them. How this spell is used will depend on your raid situation. In LFR it will most likely be at your discretion. In an organised raid it might not be your choice so it is best to discuss it with your raid leader.
5. Feral Druids perform a lot of self healing.
One of the most significant changes to affect Feral Druids with MOP was the splitting of the Feral spec into two. All of the tanking and prominent Bear abilities were moved to their own tree now called Guardian and Feral was specifically for Cat Form dps. As a result, Ferals lost some survivability. However, this has been offset by our ability to do a lot of self healing. This is achieved by several glyphs, spells and abilities working together.
The first part to this is the Glyph of Cat Form. This glyph increases all healing received while in Cat Form by 20%. This affects all healing including bandages. This glyph replaces the old Nurturing Instinct talent and is considered mandatory for all raiders.
Predatory Swiftness is a passive ability that gives your finishing moves a 20% chance per combo point to make the next Healing Touch free, instant and castable in all forms. This means that every finishing has the potential to give heal. In addition this spell also affects the combat resurrection and all crowd control abilities.
All of the Tier 2 level 30 talents are about healing. Nature’s Swiftness currently has the most throughput and shortest cool down. In addition it synchronizes thoroughly with the Tier 6 talent Dream of Cenarius. Renewal is a second in terms of throughput but has the longest cool down. Cenarion Ward is the least useful for Ferals because of its low throughput and inability to trigger the DoC talent, which Renewl also suffers from.
Finally Dream of Cenarius is a Tier 6 level 90 talent that focuses on a hybrid play style, incorporating healing into a dps rotation. It works by providing a 25% damage buff to two abilities for Ferals after a Healing Touch is used and a 30% healing bonus after dealing damage. Healing Touches normally have a cast time and un-shift you from Cat Form. This issue has been eliminated due to the MOP changes for Predatory Swiftness and access to Nature’s Swiftness. The healing bonus from DoC stacks with the Glyph of Cat Form for a 50% bonus to healing received in Cat Form.
All of this self healing allows Ferals to “look after themselves” to an extent. Some situations where this is useful include times when healing is tight or limited (Gara‘jal in the Spirit World), during periods of sustained damage (very last phase 1 Elegon) and/or recovering from spike damage (Blade Lord Ta’yak’s Unseen Strike). Good communication with your raid leader and healers is important in reducing over healing and increasing healer throughput. Your contributions will be felt by your healers.
Raid leaders have a lot of responsibility on their shoulders. Anything you can do to make their job easier or provide insight for you class to them in aiding with decision making and strategizing will be of great help. Good open, clear and consistent communication is important. Good communication skills contribute to making you a better player.
What do you think is important for raid leaders to know about Feral Druids? Have you had experience with people who don’t understand how important it is for Ferals to be behind their targets? Please feel free to share your experiences. You can leave a comment on the post, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow me on twitter @Elamari_ or you can like and / or leave a comment on the File Under Feral Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/FileUnderFeral.
<Naenae> Proudmoore, US