Must-Have Addons for Raiding Feral Druids
Ideal addons should be able to tell you what you need to know in the most unobtrusive way with as little effort involved as possible in getting this information. Think of it like the dash on your car. There’s a lot of information there, and you don’t want to take your eyes off the road for too long to get this information, or you risk veering off the road or into oncoming traffic. A quick glance is all it takes to see how fast you’re going, how much fuel you have left, your engine temperature, if your high beams are on, and so on. A good UI should do the same thing. You don’t want to spend 5 seconds looking for something while you stand in fire or run off a ledge because you can’t watch what you’re doing and look for this piece of information at the same time.
The purpose of addons:
Addons are to tell you things you need to know, or change the appearance of the UI, that aren’t directly supported by the default UI.
For some excellent pointers on how to set up your UI optimally, have a look at by Elamari’s User Interface post at File Under Feral. There are also many YouTube guides solely for this purpose (but make sure the addons they recommend are updated for the current patch).
I’ll be going through a list of addons (and some viable alternatives) which I feel are really important if you want to get the most out of your raiding feral. Basically what you need as a Feral Druid (in my opinion) is: A way to track necessary buffs and debuffs, combo points, defensive and offensive cooldowns and procs. Raid awareness – this includes raid frames to see the state of the raid. A clean UI, where you don’t get spammed with numbers, enemy bars and graphics that take over your screen will aid raid awareness.
I can’t resist showing the difference between an overcrowded UI illustrated by a UI posted by my Guild Leader back in Wrath (I’m not sure if he was serious when he posted this, my senses are telling me he was) contrasted with an *ahem* clean’er’ one which is my own (not perfect, but it’s easier than stealing someone else’s picture).
The temptation to outline an entire UI is pretty high, but much of those addons would be rather universal, like DBM (or bigwigs), Omen, and so on. So while I will be including a few common addons, such as grid and bartender, it is because I feel these reflect the goal of this guide, which is to outline addons which will specifically aid you as a Feral Druid, not only in DPS but in raid utility and awareness. Having said that, some addons will be much more important than others, and I’ll try to outline which are very important for feral, and which are good to get the most out of the spec as a raid member. I want this guide to be almost a “one stop” guide for people who may be new to the spec to see what the best options are for addons.
This will be heavily from a PvE perspective; for PvP the idea tends to be minimal addons except specifically what you need to know.
I’ll try as much as I can to list the good alternatives I know about, if you have any other really good alternatives by all means leave me a comment! While I wish I could list every single addon that does these things (and I’m sure there are A LOT) I’m going to try to keep my lists as concise as possible.
If you don’t like the addons I recommend, don’t hesitate to try out some of the others with similar features! One size does not necessarily fit all.
Managing Visibility of Buffs and Debuffs
The default UI is very ill suited for feral play. Your most important Debuffs and Buffs are quite literally on different sides of the screen. A way to track your bleed dots next to savage roar and near your combo points is very important.
Alternatives: BadKitty, FeralbyNight (not currently maintained), and FBN lite (maintained), and Weak Auras (by inputting the specifications manually)
DroodFocus is a very comprehensive addon for Druids (and of course works for other classes), particularly Feral and Guardian. Because it covers so much, it can be very daunting when first installing and trying to configure it. Either you can try it out in it’s default format to see how you like it, or disable everything except the Buff/Debuff tracking. I personally do not like the icons for Berserk/Tiger’s Fury etc, and prefer to track these with other addons.
Possibly the best thing about DF is the tracking bar which displays your Savage Roar, Rake, Rip and Thrash, can also track how much your current stats are better (or worse) than the snapshot when you cast them. This is integral for knowing when to refresh rake, or if it’s better to refresh your Rip below 25% when blood in the water is active.
Integrated into DroodFocus is a Combo bar, Energy bar, Threat Meter, timers on Predatory Swiftness, Dream of Cenarius stacks, and timers on cooldowns and so on and all can have their appearance configured. Most important Druid abilities are covered in some way by Druid Focus, and it’s up to you whether you want to use their Combo points and so on, or download another addon to handle this.
There’s also lots of built in gems, like a warning when you try to shred without being behind the target, GPS, an icon flashed when it comes off cooldown or when you receive a buff. Also built in timers for abilities and tracking of dots (i.e. thrash, rake) on multiple targets.
Setting up DroodFocus:
This could warrant a guide all on its own. DF offers a lot of options and they’re very overwhelming. The first thing you should do is work out exactly what you want to use it for. If you want everything it can do, it’s already set up to do this, just go into configuration mode and move things around as you see fit.
To enter Configuration mode, type “/droodfocus options”, and click on “Enter” configuration mode. You can go through all the segments to configure them or simply right click on them in your UI. If you’re happy with all the displays and they’re in a place that pleases you, you probably don’t need to configure it any more. If you’re just after tracking your buffs/debuffs, a little tweaking may still be involved.
Personally I only have DF track Savage Roar, Rake, Rip and Thrash. It may be a good idea to let it track your Sunder Armor stacks also (from Faerie Fire) I don’t do this as I feel like I’m pressing FF every time I have energy downtime. To choose what shows up for this bar, click “Configure” for Icons, or right click on the bar in configuration mode. As a default, there will be Icons 1 and Icons 2. 1 is for main abilities such as Savage Roar, Thrash, Rake and Rip, the second for Tiger’s Fury, Berserk, etc. You can choose to hide or show the second by right clicking and Deselecting Visable (displayed left).
The segment which covers Dot Power is not activated by default. By right clicking Icons or entering configuration mode for Icons, in the bottom right hand corner is a tick box for Dots Power. This is the module that will track the strength of your bleeds compared to your current stats. However, it will not track the strength of your bleed based on how many combo points you used – i.e. if you accidentally use Rip on 4 combo points, it may say a new rip is weaker based on your stats.
Also feel free to move around your combo points, energy bar, threat meter and so on to where you think it has the most benefit to you. Mine basically looks like this:
I really don’t think I could come up with enough screenshots to display how to get around this addon. If you are trying it out and can’t get your head around it by yourself, I strongly recommend watching a YouTube guide or looking for a guide online.
DroodFocus sub-option alternatives:
– Combo Bar: NugComboBar, WeakAuras using the code provided . DroodFocus combo bar is highly customisable in appearance.
– Threat meter: Can be handled with Omen, Skada threat module. DF option is very minimal and lightweight. Tank threat is very stable now with Vengeance and there is very little you can do anyway if you are about to, or have pulled aggro except run away, stop damaging, Shadowmeld (temporary solution) or Feign Death (probably the best option) or Survival Instincts and grit your teeth hoping the tank taunts back off you. Not doing stupid things like going all out before the tank has positioned the boss, AOE’ing before tank hits them are the best ways to avoid high threat.
– Timers and Cooldowns: Raven, Weak Auras, Tellmewhen, needtoknow all have functions to track abilities. Raven is really good if you want just icons or timers in a neat row and requires a lot less settings than the same thing in Weak Auras for example. However Weak Auras has more options and is more customisable as a whole.
Alternatives: TellMeWhen, NeedToKnow, Raven – these offer some of the functions available from Weak Auras.
You could write volumes on Weak Auras, or it’s older counterpart, Power Auras. Many PvPers choose this addon for displaying buffs/debuffs because of the simplicity and minimal impact. A little daunting at first, this is by far one of the most useful addons you will ever have. It gives you the ability to display a large library of graphics or icons anywhere on your screen with any number of triggers and sound effects. Most addons I’ll mention (other than ones that actually change the UI) could possibly be handled by Weak Auras in some way if you chose to spend the time getting them right (or someone else does it for you).
I mostly like it because unlike other addons, I can make these notifications look how I like, put it where I like and make it behave as I like. I wasn’t always sure whether my Predatory Swiftness proc had come up, so I made a very obvious graphic to show it. So I prefer to use this rather than the default options on DroodFocus, or even the default UI. If you ever say to yourself “I want to know when this happens…” this is the best addon to do it.
Ideas for using Weak Auras:
As I’ve already mentioned, on the Fluid Druid there’s a thread which gives you a replacement for the default (or Droodfocus) combo points, which is more intuitive than the alternatives. Since Feral can get 2 combo points instead of 1 when an ability crits, there can be a delay before the second combo point is displayed. This script will check for the crit and show the extra combo point making it smoother and faster to update. I believe there’s even one for tracking the strength of your bleeds similar to what DF offers link here.
Want to do something another addon doesn’t offer? It’s likely it’s possible with WA. For example, I was considering trying to show feral druid dps on a youtube video, but there’s no addon I know of that will flash what ability I use as I use it (and without that the viewer doesn’t know what abilities you are using). Achieving this was very simple with WA.
You can do progress bars like this: for tracking the time left on abilities, or graphical images. I use an image to show when I’ve used Nature’s Swiftness, a large, centred progress texture for when Predatory Swiftness is up (with the opacity set very low) , textures for Dream of Cenarius stacks, dots to show 2set bonus’s charges, progress bars that can track rip and rake on other targets, and one for how long my CC abilities have left. I also have a very loud warning when a hunter tries to use Scare Beast on me and a large image of Blessing of Protection for when a Paladin thinks it’s funny to BoP me.
Some of the best uses are for anything that you need to know if it’s still up, if it’s off cooldown so that you never need to check your buffs or debuffs.
Maximising your Rotational Cycle
Ovale Spell Priority
Alternatives: BadKitty, FBN(lite) (Feral By Night not being updated for MoP)
This is a move suggestion addon, but it’s equipped with regular updates and run with Nerien’s feral script. Although not perfect, it will be able to make split second decisions for you which are not possible for you to make all the time, every time, alone. Since one second can quite literally change which move you should use, Omen takes a lot of the guess work out. While is it possible to do very well without this addon, it will help hone your dps much closer to optimal.
It can be a great tool to learn the rotation but it is my belief that you should learn feral DPS without a move suggestion addon otherwise it will be a very difficult crutch to get by without. There’s also the matter that Ovale will recommend moves for a more advanced rotation that may be far more difficult to master as a beginner. Another matter to consider is that the script is based off an action priority list which will not be 100% accurate for all situations. Plus there’s things that will always need human judgement – if you know you are about to change targets and Ovale is telling you to use Ferocious bite (for e.g.), your judgement may tell you it’s better to refresh your Rip. There’s many other little judgement differences that you will come to know when you become experienced with the spec, which is why it’s so important to learn without needing this addon to DPS.
Skada Damage Meter
While not as important as Ovale or Droodfocus, it’s a lot harder to get better without knowing what you’re doing wrong and right, and how you’re comparing to other people in the same situation. Most damage meters can tell you your buff and debuff up times, and if you’re finding you’re doing relatively lower DPS than you feel you should, the first thing you can do is take a look at your damage percentages, and the uptimes of your dots and Savage Roar. If you’re finding any of them particularly low, that’d be a good place to start to improving your dps.
I should mention, that on a Skada vs Recount note, I used to use Recount up until Ultraxion where I would get horrible frame lag in the last phase even with all but absolutely necessary addons disabled. I tried Skada out one night, as I’d heard many people say it’s smaller cpu usage. That night my fps didn’t miss a beat. Been using Skada ever since.
The above addons are the most important things you need to cater for for Feral play. Setup of a UI is much more preference based and there are a lot of options available. For this section I’m going to list some of the addons I prefer to achieve a better UI, and a brief explanation of the benefit to using them.
Unit Frames: Xperl
Alternatives: PitBull and many more
A lot of room for customisation, including colours, sizes, locations, etc. Only downside is the raid frames are rather horrible and much better handled with a separate addon.
Raid Frames: Grid
Alternatives: Pitbull, Vuhdo, Clique.
The Blizzard raid frames are a lot better than they used to be, but Grid is very simple and clean in its layout, with a lot of buff/debuff display options. Most of these will be more beneficial if you’re healing, but even as DPS it is a really good idea to have good raid frames. Grid is also compatible with a lot of extra addons for added utility, so you add as little or as much as you want. Some Grid addons I like to use are:
Mana Bars (I really like to be able to see Healer’s mana, for reasons including knowing if I should throw out an innervate)
Grid Indicator Corner Icons & Grid Indicator Side Icons (for additional indicator icons – mostly for healers),
Grid Status Role (I really like this one especially for LFR, it tells you what role each person is: tank/heals/melee/range), and
Grid Click Sets which works as a click to cast addon which is great for Rebirth, innervate or decursing. Decursive is an alternative to the latter.
This isn’t so much of a “must have” as a “really good to have”, as the Blizzard UI takes up a lot more room than it needs to, and being able to arrange your buttons where you like and change the size and so on, can help free up a lot of space and greatly reduce clutter. BT is very easy to use; just unlock the bars and drag them to where you like. It’s also really good for setting up your keybinds easily, simply by hovering over each button (in keybind mode) and pressing the keys you want it bound to. I found that by using this addon I could delete most of my mod macros and simply bind the keypress I used to use to a new button.
Again not as high priority, but much better than the default plates. Default plates can go quite spastic when there’s a lot of mobs all clumped together. Tidy Plates can also be configured to show your combo points and debuffs on a target.
Recap and Links for addons mentioned:
Tracking Buffs and Debuffs: