If you’re reading this it’s probably because you play a feral. One thing I’ve noticed about us is that Ferals love reading and talking about Ferals. That’s how I found File Under Feral in the first place. You therefore probably already know our strengths and weaknesses! It’s for this reason that in this post I’m going to explore the latest raid tier – Throne of Thunder (Patch 5.2) – from a Feral standpoint. I would like to thank Elamari for letting me write this post and also for being an all-round nice guy helping my guild several times when we have been short a DPS – quite often at very late notice!
My Feral druid, Ravissian, is part of a 25 man guild on Frostmourne-Oceanic. We were progression raiding as a 10 man in 5.0 and decided to switch to 25 man for 5.2 as we grew and I have to say – Throne of Thunder is impressive in a 25 man setting!
Melee DPS classes haven’t had it easy this expansion. Blizzard seems hell-bent on coming up with all kinds of things to avoid standing in. It’s not easy sometimes, but the more you do it the better you get at it. The more time you spend on each fight, the less you worry about mechanics and the more you start focusing on DPS. I’m not going to discuss every boss; rather the highlights (and low lights) of the raid from a Feral’s perspective. It’s pretty easy for any feral to figure out fights like Jin’rokh and Ji-Kun – both have positional requirements but otherwise are fairly easy fights to keep up our rotation. But there are some tricky ones – the following discussion assumes you’ve seen the fights on normal mode, but LFR ferals keep reading. I fondly remember coming into 5.2 around item level 500 and struggling.
Difficult Fights For Ferals
Every feral knows how weak we are when the majority of our targets die in a matter of seconds due to our bleeds not being up for long enough to cause any real damage. Having waves of adds is a terrible thing for us. You can Thrash and Swipe all you like but the reality is that they’re going to die before Thrash has any real effect on them, and Swipe can only get you so far, partly due to it’s high energy cost, but also because around half our damage comes from bleeds. Soul of the Forest is my talent choice for this fight as it comes in handy here for constant energy regeneration.
During my guild’s usual 25m raids, I’m unfortunately stuck on the adds along with everyone else. I have joined a few 10 man pugs and only once was I allowed to tunnel Horridon himself for the duration of the fight. I ended up on top of the DPS meters and managed to have Horridon himself down to around 20% at the third door before Heroism was used. It’s an issue my usual raid leader acknowledges but to him it’s not worth the risk – feral druids have enough utility to make up for lack of measurable boss DPS. We can interrupt (which is quite important on most of the doors e.g. the Gurubashi Venom Priests on the second door) and we can also cleanse the poison from players should one get through. Granted it’s once every 8 seconds but every dispel helps. Other than that, just Mangle, Mangle, Mangle until everything’s dead, keeping Savage Roar up all the time.
All in all Horridon was a huge roadblock for our team when we were at the start of the patch and I could only assume that any Ferals on a 10m team would be having a tough time until their team has some more gear to make this fight easier.
As I mentioned at the start, melee have had a rough time lately. Iron Qon is probably the greatest example of this in this tier, especially on 25m. It’s a four phase fight and each phase has it’s challenges for us.
The first phase involves groups of players stacking together (which causes the boss to cast Unleashed Flame at them) and then spreading 10 yards apart once the incoming damage from Unleashed Flame becomes too intense so that the boss stops casting it at them. Translation: if 1-2 people don’t allow room for you when you’re supposed to be spread, you won’t be in melee range of the boss. The best solution is to blow all of your cooldowns on the pull and get your bleeds rolling on the boss – get them up and then worry about keeping your DBM range radar green – if you can’t find room to get at the boss then so be it – hang back and let your bleeds do the work for you. I found Thrash has a higher priority than normal here, as it’s yet another bleed we can apply and then be able to keep our distance. If your team is comprised of observant, raid aware players who understand how to keep 10 yards apart you will have a much better time in this phase and can autoattack and use melee abilities to your heart’s content.
Phase 2 involves a windstorm and dodging tornadoes – it comes as no surprise that we should be using Stampeding Roar to get our raiders away as quickly as possible. You can go with Feline Swiftness for this fight for the passive moment speed increase, although Wild Charge can be handy to get at the boss if you’ve been cut off by one of the bosses different Spear abilities on the ground.
Phase 3 seems easy enough – the boss has shields up on two sides, meaning you have to be facing him from a certain angle. Executing this is harder than it sounds due to the Spears on the ground as well as tornadoes from Phase 1. I find I keep getting slowed and sometimes stunned in this phase – hitting Dash or Stampeding Roar will clear this debuff and also restore your normal haste and autoattack rate.
In Phase 4 you finally fight Iron Qon himself. It’s a straightforward fight, however the increasing damage from Fist Smash can ramp up near the end of the fight. If our group has enough DPS and can afford to continue without mine for a few seconds I will generally use a Heart of the Wild + Tranqulity if I see the healers struggling to keep everyone topped up.
You will likely need to roll through all of your defensive cooldowns like Barkskin, Survival Instincts, Heathstones and possibly Might of Ursoc during this phase. Remember, sometimes it is more important to survive than to mash your DPS rotation frantically – if Might of Ursoc helps you survive through a high-powered fist smash, that means you will still be around to hit cat form again and get your DPS rotation going again, hopefully getting your kill.
Great Fights For Ferals
It’s not all bad – there are some fights where we shine!
Tortos is a great fight for feral druids. Great. At first it looks like we’re stuck in front of the boss ala Ultraxion – but at second glance there are spots on either side that count as ‘the rear’ – perfect for Shredding! Get into one of the sides as quickly as possible and blow Berserk and get into your normal rotation.
When the boss uses Quake Stomp followed by Rockfall, start running across the front of the room towards the other side of Tortos (make sure to keep your distance from the tank – because Rockfall could land on them. I might have done this once or twice…. on purpose…!). Keep your rotation up as best you can while avoiding the Rockfalls yourself then head back over to your original side to recover and settle into a solid rotation again. The other great part about this fight is the Whirl Turtles & Vampiric Cave Bats. You see, the turtles are on a timer so we can predict when they’re coming – meaning we can move towards the centre and hit a well-timed Thrash as they come out! Keep practicing it until you can hit all three turtles with one Thrash. If you can do the same with the bats without pulling threat by all means do so. This might be tricky if your bat-tank has a low ilvl so work out your limits here.
Other than Quake Stomp this is a solid fight where we can keep our rotation up (nearly) the whole time, even during Rockfall in most cases – and it’s not hard to get to the top of the DPS charts for this fight.
Lei Shen is an incredible fight – but it can be unforgiving. Every raider needs to be on their toes. A single person failing a mechanics can mean a wipe. Being raid aware is crucial for this fight.
As the fight begins, simply follow your normal rotation while keeping your distance from the boss – he has a very large hitbox. Stay out of Crashing Thunder which Lei Shen will place on the ground in melee range. I strongly advise using the addon GTFO as it sounds an alarm whenever you take damage from a variety of different sources, with different alarm sounds indicating different damage types. Very handy! As Lei Shen is dragged from pillar to pillar, Ferals can make use of our tier one talent Feline Swiftness to keep up with Lei Shen, which in turn lets us keep our rotation up a little easier. This also helps us move to the assigned platform during the Intermission phases.
The first big hurdle comes when Lei Shen reaches 65% health and the intermission phase begins. Glyph of Stampeding Roar certainly comes in handy here as you can help most of your raid with the extra movement speed they need to reach their platform quickly. Follow the “dance” by stacking/spreading depending on which mechanics are being used. Visit Icy Veins for a detailed description of the abilities. Keep in mind that during Static Shock it is advised not to use personal defensive cooldowns. The amount of incoming damage is spread among all players within range so if you use Barkskin and take 20% less damage – that 20% will be transferred to other raiders, potentially killing them. Make sure your health is topped up by using a Healthstone, potion or even a Nature’s Swiftness powered instant Healing Touch on yourself. Once the intermission phase is over resume your DPS rotation on Lei Shen himself. There are more adds this time which you will need to get down quickly with Swipe while still focusing Lei Shen. Stay out of Lightning Whip and you’ll make it to the second intermission phase, and hopefully to the last phase!
In the last phase, Lei Shen throws everything he can at you. In addition to Thunderstruck and the two burnt-out platforms which you should avoid walking on, you now have Violent Gale Winds to contend with. As always, keep an eye on your health and as on Iron Qon rotate through your defensive’s as needed. I personally have had to use Heart of the Wild + Tranquility many times to save us. Use your potions here to help boost damage in the last few seconds (along with Berserk if it’s available) and you’ll get your kill.
In my opinion Throne of Thunder has been an amazing tier. It’s shown us that being a good raider is about a lot more than DPS or healing throughput. Understanding mechanics, making use of all utility, not taking unnecessary damage etc… all contribute to being a good raider. As we move into 5.4’s Siege of Orgrimmar raid I can’t wait to see what Blizzard has in store for us! We will find out tomorrow.
If you want to catch up with me for a chat my battle tag is ravbat#1863 and my email is firstname.lastname@example.org.