There are lot of great feral guides that cover DPS aspects and I advise you to look at them if you want to get beyond the basics for this spec. I’ll give links at the end. This is from a PVE perspective. If you want PVP advice there are a lot of great YouTube videos. If you have any extra advice or recommendations I have missed, feel free to leave a comment.
Feral Druids are a melee DPS spec, which use energy as a resource and combo points to deal damage. Feral functions almost completely in Cat Form, and values Agility. A feral druid should always have a 2h agility weapon and concentrate on leather gear with agility.
Competitive DPS. While we’re usually around the middle as far as rankings go, feral DPS is usually in a decent spot. Single target DPS is where we shine.
Versatility: You’ll be a valuable member of your raid if you utilise your cooldowns effectively. Innervate healers, rebirth tanks/healers, tranquility, etc.
High Mobility: Increased run speed, speed boosts and wild charge all make feral highly mobile. You should never be the last to run out of the fire or the last to engage the boss.
Limited Crowd Control: I feel that this is worth mentioning, as druid CC is very weak for PVE (but fantastic for PVP). Entangling roots is one of the weakest choices for raid CC, and cyclone is next to useless in the same situations and it likely to get you yelled at. Hibernate is great if you can ever find an opportunity to use it.
Poor Target Switching: Appeased slightly if you’re able to symbiosis a Rogue or Warlock, but frequent target changes will gut your DPS significantly, because of the longer ramp up time of bleeds, which account for close to 50% of total damage.
Complicated DPS Cycle: It is worth mentioning again. A lack of understanding of the spec will yield poor outcomes, and a decent amount of practice is involved to yield good or excellent results.
Inferior DPS when facing bosses: There are some bosses where it is impossible to avoid having to attack from the front due to mechanics. Cataclysm style bosses bring to mind Ultraxion and Majordomo Staghelm. Bosses who frequently turn (e.g. to cast, or have no threat table) will also hurt your damage unless you have lightning fast reflexes (and latency).
The basic abilities you will make use of are:
Rake, Shred, Rip, Savage Roar, Tiger’s Fury, Berserk, Mangle (if must attack from front),Ferocious Bite and Faerie Fire. Do not let the tooltips of Shred and Mangle fool you without reading carefully. Although it says they both do the same damage, shred will do more on targets that are bleeding.
You should make sure these are your most easy to reach keybinds or buttons.
Extra abilities you should make use of, and keybind appropriately are:
Barkskin, Survival Instincts, Innervate, tranquility, Rebirth, Dash, Stampeding Roar, Wild Charge (if you pick it up), Healing Touch (especially if you are using a DoC build), Renewal or Nature’s Swiftness, Incarnation/Nature’s Vigil (if you chose it, and generally it is best to macro these to Berserk), Hurricane (if you are using a HotW build for AoE), Thrash and Swipe
Stats to aim for:
Very generally speaking, the stats you want to aim for go in this order of priority:
Weapon DPS > Agility > Mastery > Hit=Expertise > Crit > Haste
The reason I say generally is that the value of each stat will depend on your current gear makeup. I have also put a higher priority on Hit and Expertise here than you will see in relative stat values because of the benefit of this stats to counter human error.
Always gem red sockets with agility; you can safely ignore the socket bonuses which do not give agility. As a general rule, you should value 3 points of a secondary stat to 1 point of agility, e.g. 1 Agility = 3 Secondary Stat, so 100 agility is better than 200 Critical Strike. It is not mandatory to cap hit and expertise but it is highly recommended. If you choose to cap, aim for 7.5% in each. Never gem or enchant for hit or expertise over agility.
Feral DPS simplified:
At it’s most simplistic, the Feral DPS cycle is basically keeping up Savage Roar, Rake and 5 combo point rip up as much as possible, using shred for combo points, and without clipping (refreshing one before it finishes) as much as possible.
You should position yourself behind the boss or mob at all times. This is for a number of reasons: bosses can parry from in front, and shred has the positional requirement of being behind the target, and shred does more damage than mangle. Many bosses also have frontal cone attacks or cleaves, and unless a mechanic requires you to soak some of this damage, it is better for you, your healers and tank to be behind the target.
The next step up of understanding is:
- keep the sunder armour debuff up from Faerie Fire,
- use Ferocious Bite when Rip and Savage Roar both have more than 8 seconds remaining or when rip is up and the boss has under 25% health (this will refresh rip),
- use Tiger’s Fury on cooldown as long as you won’t cap on energy,
- use savage roar preferably on 5 combo points but use any combo points if it will drop off.
- Use your Omen of Clarity procs on Thrash.
An opening procedure may go something like this:
- Healing Touch before combat (if using DoC)
- Use Savage Roar with 0 combo points on or before the pull
- Use Faerie Fire
- Shred 1-2
- Tiger’s Fury
If you use Savage roar just on the pull, it should expire shortly after you apply rip.
It’s worth mentioning, in a PVE environment, you should never be using Prowl or Pounce unless a mechanic requires you to stun something, and even then Bash is a better alternative.
Moving on to a more specific priority list, this time I am using a quote which will explain it better than I can:
1. Tiger’s Fury on cooldown. (Only if below 30ish energy.)
2. Berserk on cooldown. Use right after a TF for best results. Delay use if TF will come off cooldown in 15 seconds or less.
3. Any other DPS cooldowns you have (Nature’s Vigil, Incarnation, Force of Nature) use on cooldown.
4. Savage Roar, if it’s down.
5. Ferocious Bite to extend a Rip if the target’s below 25%. Prefer to use at 5 CP, but use at any CP if the Rip will drop.
6. Shred to extend a Rip, if you haven’t used three yet.
7. Rip, if you have 5 CP’s and it’s down.
8. Savage Roar if you have 5 CP’s and SR will expire before Rip. (Why not Ferocious Bite? Well, you won’t have enough energy/CP’s to get FB off AND refresh SR/Rip with 5 CP’s before they drop. Better to refresh one a bit too early than a bit too late.)
9. Rake, if it’s down.
10. Shred (or Ravage during Incarnation) filler.
The spec I recommend for those new to the spec is this or similar:
I will at some point make a page on specs, and go through my choices, etc.
Tier 3 for level 45 it doesn’t matter much which you choose. However, I would advise to stay away from typhoon if you don’t know how to use it correctly or you will have some very unforgiving tanks.
The toss-up for Tier 2 between Nature’s Swiftness and Renewal is a matter of choice providing you use a good macro for either one. NS offers a little more utility and has a shorter CD, but heals less. If you have only 1-2 WTF I’m going to die! moments per encounter, I would go with Renewal with an appropriate macro. If you want a bit of raid utility to help top up a tank or quickly battle res a dead person, NS is your friend.
Glyph of cat form is considered mandatory almost across the board. Grace is probably the only minor glyph that will have raiding benefits.
Savagery allows you to use Savage Roar with no combo points which is very handy for keeping it up if you don’t have the combo points to spend.
Glyph of Shred allows you to use shred without positional requirements when you have Berserk or Tiger’s Fury up. Now this should not be abused; it should not make you ignore your position to shred a target. You are still subject to parries in front of a target, so should avoid attacking from the front even with this glyph. However, this glyph is very helpful when you cannot attack from behind, or if you have a random casting mob (like Spirit Kings), and a situation arises where you pop Tiger’s Fury and/or Berserk, go to shred and the boss turns resulting in energy capping (which is bad and makes for a sad kitty).
A few addons are worth mentioning, specifically move suggestions and buff/debuff tracking:
- Nerian’s Ovale Script – This supports more advanced DPS cycles, but should be fine for beginners too.
- Badkitty – A move recommendation addon.
- Drood Focus: Looks a little intimidating at first but once you’re able to set stuff up and move it to where you want, it’s great for keeping track of your important buffs/debuffs, and even has a component that will tell you if your current stats are higher than when you last cast rake or rip which is great if you are trying to clip them for a dps increase. It also has a lot of other components that you may find useful.
- Power Auras or Weakauras: PA is only functional right now with a patch for MoP; Weakauras is the updated alternative. This allows you to create custom graphics displayed on your screen to alert you to buffs/debuffs, etc. I highly recommend using this or something similar to track things like Tiger’s Fury, Berserk, Predatory Swiftness and Dream of Cenarius. The benefit of this addon over other addons which track similar things is purely customisation; you can use any available icon in any colour/shape/size anywhere and even sound effects, and to appear to highly customisable conditions.
These are links I highly recommend for feral guides:
- Noxxic only if you are a beginner and just starting out. For advanced/experienced play, the following are more suitable.
- The 5.0 Feral DPS Guide – World of Warcraft forums, written by Alarron, who you will see around a lot on Druid sites. Keep in mind this hasn’t been updated for 5.1 but pretty much all the information should still be valid.
- Elitist Jerks – Can’t mention guides without mentioning this. Some good advice and discussion.
- The Fluid Druid – Probably the most helpful and reliable source (at least in my opinion). Advice and contributions from many highly ranked feral druids.