Warcraft Druid DPS Guide

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Disclaimer

I am no longer active on World of Warcraft, and have not even played Lich King. This material should be taken with a grain of salt. I can now be found on the text-based MMORPG Discworld MUD, where I am one of the administrators. Drop by and check us out - it's all text, but I'm sure you'll manage!


Drakkos' Feral Druid DPS Tips

V2.0


As a secondary guide (the first being the Druid Tanking guide) for New Feral Druids, I thought I'd pontificate a bit about druid DPS. In comparison to tanking, DPS doesn't require nearly as much attention or strategising, but it's worth talking about each of the aspects in turn so you can maximise your damage output.


Once upon a time, druid DPS was considered laughable – ‘OMG, you think you're DPS!' was a common refrain from DPS classes who posted on the druid forums. Times have changed though, and druid DPS is now certainly not to be discounted. An equally geared pure DPS class will always out damage us – but that's fair, that's all they can do. But regardless of this, we can bring heavy duty DPS to bear (teehee) while also maintaining the ability to main-tank and heal in a pinch.


Table of Contents

Druid DPS Equipment

When you're aiming to maximise your damage output, only two stats have primary importance:


  • Strength
  • Agility

Other stats that are valuable, but of secondary consideration (get them if they're going):


  • Hit rating (more on this later)
  • Stamina

Stats to avoid, if you can find ‘druid' alternatives:


  • Attack Power
  • Critical Hit Rating

I'm not saying that these are bad stats – it's just that for druids, raw stats are always better than ratings. We gain so much more from them, as I'll explain in a later section of the guide. Attack power and Critical Hit rating do not scale with buffs or druid talents, and as scaling in the endgame is the biggest problem for feral DPS, this just exacerbates the problem.


For each point of strength a feral druid has, he or she gains 2.4 attack power provided they have the Heart of the Wild talent. If the Survival of the Fittest talent is also present, this counts as 2.72 attack power for each point of strength.


For each point of agility, a feral druid in cat form only gains one attack power. There are however other benefits to having agility, mainly that it builds your crit rating and your dodge (which can be useful if you need to off-tank something while in your DPS gear).


Other stats have dubious benefit for druids - haste rating for example does not give us the same measure of benefit as it does to other melee classes because of our faster attack speed. If you can get it, it's not wasted - but you shouldn't stack it in preference to pure stats.


In general, you should look to prioritise agility over strength, purely because attack power is easier to get hold of in a raid and instance setting. Raid buffs will hugely increase your attack power while giving only minimal boosts to your critical hit chance.


There is an excellent document on the druid wiki that discusses which of Agility and Strength is better in a given context. The graph in particular is very useful as it shows exactly where the crossover point of value is up to 2,800 AP and 50% crit. An instance buffed druid can easily be sitting at the 2,800 AP mark with even mediocre equipment - at that point you need a greater than 50% crit rating for strength to be a better choice than agility.


Hitty Hitty, Critty Kitty!

Boss mobs always count as being three levels higher than the max player level (so at the time of writing, level 73), which means that any single-wielding melee class has a 9% miss chance. The miss chance against higher level foes is shown in the table below:


Level Miss-Chance
73 9%
72 6%
71 5.5%
70 5%

This means that for heroics and normal instances, +6% hit rating will be enough to ensure that you never miss (you can attain this with 95 hit rating). Anything above that is likely to be wasted - it's not something you need to stack very much of, and you should never go for it over the primary druid stats listed above. Essentially, it's a case of 'get it if it's going, but not too much'


The remaining 3% to hit bosses would require a further 48 hit rating, which is a lot of excess on your equipment for most purposes. That leaves you two choices. Choice one is to build a 'boss DPS' set that has additional hit rating on it and swap into that when facing a boss.


Choice two is better but requires you to have one of a few very specific pieces of equipment in your arsenal. It involves the use of Feral Combat Skill Rating, which is available on only a few items in the game. I won't bore or confuse you with the reasoning, but the upshot is that having exactly 20 Feral Combat Skill Rating counts for an additional 3% hit against level 73 targets only. It has benefit against lower level targets, but of a greatly reduced value. Stacking more than 20 Feral Combat Skill Rating is also sub-optimal - it's just 20 that hits that magic 'sweet spot' here.


There are comparatively few items out there with the right quantity of Feral Combat Skill Rating, but the following are moderately easy to obtain:


It's important to get the full benefit from Feral Combat Skill Rating that you have 20 (more is okay, less is not). The Clefthoof Hide Leggings for example give only a 1.6% chance to hit against level 73 targets despite having 18 Feral Combat Skill Rating.


So for boss fights, the optimal strategy goes like this:


  • Stack 95 hit rating
  • If you have the Shapeshifter's Signet, swap out out one of your other rings for it.
  • If you don't have the signet, but you have Earthwarden, then use Earthwarden unless you have a substantially better DPS weapon.

This is the ideal way of ensuring you have maximum hit chance against bosses - more than 95 hit rating on your equipment will be a waste for most other purposes.


Druid DPS Numbers

Three stats have an impact on your base-line DPS – your attack power, your critical hit chance, and your hit chance. The three of these together are your baseline damage output (also known as your ‘white damage' because it appears in white when you hit a mob. It's the damage from your auto-attacks.).


In cat form, you have an attack speed of 1.0, which means you make an attack every full second. The baseline damage of your cat form is 55, which means unmodified, each time you hit a thing with your paw, it does 55 points of damage. As you hit once per second, this means that you do 55 Damage per Second (or 55 DPS).


Attack Power modifies that at a rate of 14 attack power to each additional point of DPS – if you have 1400 attack power, you add 100 DPS – each white attack will do 155 points of damage.


Your critical hit rating is the chance that any of your attacks will be Critical Hits – critical hits do double damage as well as other Tasty Things for a feral druid.


You have a baseline 5.6% chance to miss equal level opponents – each additional level an opponent has on you adds 1% to this chance. A boss mob is always treated as being 3 levels higher than you, and thus you have a 8.6% chance to miss. Your +hit rating allows you to reduce your chance of missing an opponent, which has a scalar effect on your DPS.


As a ‘Heroic Geared' feral druid, you should have roughly the following stats:


Stat


Value


Attack Power


2200


Critical Hit Chance


32%


Chance to Hit


5%


These are rough values, and a low value in one can be compensated by a high value in another.


A druid with those DPS stats will have the following average white damage:

(55 + (2200/14)) * 1.crit_chance = 280 DPS

As all feral druid damage is physical, it is mitigated by armour – if we assume a mob's armour mitigation at 30% then that gives us a white DPS of 196. This is your base-line sustainable white damage – over a short period of time, it might be more or it might be less (depending on how lucky you get with critical hits). Over a long enough period of time, it will converge towards this value.


Burst DPS is damage over a short period of time – it's when you unload your heavy duty instant attacks. Burst damage is primarily for PvP and in the last few seconds of a mob's life. The rest of the time, sustainable damage is more important. For this reason, many druids disproportionately favour strength over agility. Balancing both will give you the best of both worlds, although since raid and instance buffs favour attack power over critical hit, you would do well to stack agility in favour of strength if you plan on instancing at all.


Energy

Energy is your fuel in cat-form – you have a ceiling of 100 points of energy, and you spend that on your special attacks. Energy regenerates a rate of twenty points every two seconds – there is no way to speed this up outside of certain very unusual boss fights.


Timing your energy ticks can be very useful – it can sometimes give you an instant 20 energy boost right after using a special attack. Your energy ticks even when you're in another form - this will become relevant in a few sections when we talk about powershifting.


In long fights, managing your energy versus your special attacks becomes an important part of maximising your DPS – we'll see that when we talk about basic attack rotations.


Some nice Druid DPS Equipment

The following items are all great for DPS and fairly easy to obtain. They should form the basis of your ‘base' hurty set. I've also included some suggested upgrades for when you need a bit of extra oomph – these will be harder to get hold of, but not so hard that they are unobtainable. The PvP stuff in particular is surprisingly easy to get, and the arena stuff just requires you to be constantly emasculated for a few weeks. The only real risk is never having enough self esteem to sexually satisfy your lover ever again. But that's a fair price for Nice Things, right?


Where there is no non-raiding upgrade, or an easily obtainable upgrade that is of Dubious Value, I'll leave it blank.


Slot


Item


Upgrade


Head


Stealther's Helm of Second Sight


Merciless Gladiator's Dragonhide Helm


Neck


Natasha's Pack Collar


Haramad's Bargain


Shoulders


Expedition Scout's Epaulets


Merciless Gladiator's Dragonhide Spaulders


Back


Cloak of the Craft


Vengeance Wrap


Chest


Chestguard of the Talon


Shadowprowler's Chestguard


Wrist


Spymistress Wristguards


Veteran's Dragonhide Bracers


Hands


Handgrips of Assassination


Windslayer Wraps


Waist


Naaru Belt of Precision


Veteran's Dragonhide Belt


Legs


Clefthoof Hide Leggings


Forestwalker Kilt


Feet


The Master's Treads


Veteran's Dragonhide Boots


Rings


Ravenclaw BandOverseer's Signet


A'dal's Command
Shapeshifter's Signet


Trinkets


Bladefist's Breadth
Ancient Draenei War Talisman


Hourglass of the Unraveller
Skyguard Silver Cross


Weapons


Dreamer's Dragonstaff


Staff of Natural Fury


DPS Enchants and Gems

Gems and enchants are pretty straightforward - raw stats give you the most bang for your buck. Personally, I recommend agility over strength - the many Feral Attack Power weapons out there mean that we're not as limited in our attack power as we once were. The benefits given by agility outweight those provided by strength for pure DPS in instance settings, and they also increase your survivability.


As with tanking, you should think very carefully as to whether the socket bonus on a piece of equipment is sufficient to justify using sub-optimal gems. For druid DPS, red gem slots are the most valuable. Consider two scenarios - we'll use the Stealther's Helm of Second Sight as our comparator here. It has a red socket, a blue socket and a yellow socket.


If we picked the best easily obtainable DPS gems of each colour (as per Emmerald's Equipment List) and placed them in our sockets, we'd get:


Gem Slot Stats DPS Points
Delicate Living Ruby Red
8 Agility
18.9
Inscribed Noble Topaz Yellow
4 Strength, +4 crit
15.6
Soverign Nightseye Blue
4 strength, +6 stamina
9.6
44.1

The socket bonus for this item is 8 attack power, which gives the sockets a total of 52.1 DPS points. Not bad, but we can do better:


Gem Slot Stats DPS Points
Delicate Living Ruby Red
8 Agility
18.9
Delicate Living Ruby Yellow
8 Agility
18.9
Delicate Living Ruby Blue
8 Agility
18.9
56.7

This may look like a marginal increase (which it is), but remember the DPS points take into account DPS only - that +24 agility is also 1.6% dodge as opposed to 0.3% dodge from the 'properly socketed' version. If you have hybrid feral equipment (equipment you'd like to use for DPS and tanking - there's quite a bit of it about, especially the PvP equipment and the T4/5/6 epic equipment), then socketting with agility means that you get the best of both worlds - agility is an excellent DPS stat and also an excellent tanking stat.


However, stacking optimal gems means that it will be very difficult to meet metagem requirements should you be lucky enough to get hold of a headpiece with a metagem on it... and believe me, you'll want to satisfy the metagem requirements so you can get the Relentless Earthstorm Diamond. The requirements are steep (Two red, two blue and two yellow gems), but they can be satisfied by using only four gems - two Shifting Nightseye and two Inscribed Noble Topaz.


I spent an afternoon with a spreadsheet trying to work out whether it was worth my while resocketing my equipment to fit in the metagem above - I have to confess I wasn't entirely sure how valuable the +3% critical hit damage would be. I won't bore you with the math, but the net result is that for a 'Heroic Geared Feral' as outlined above, that increased damage alone counts for roughly 57 AP. That's a lot from a single gem. However, the true value of the metagem comes in how well it scales - it's a gem that gets better as you do. Consider an 'instance buffed' druid of around 2800 AP and 35% critical hit rating - its value soars to around 75 attack power. For a Raid Buffed endgame feral (let's say 4400 AP and 45% crit), it's worth 140 AP. More than that, it's attack power condensed into burst damage. It's a truly fantastic gem, and for a heroic-geared feral druid it counts as an 85 point DPS gem. For comparison, the next highest gem is epic and worth only 24.72 DPS points.


So the advice from this section is simple - socket agility unless you need to meet the metagem requirements of a metagem, and in that case socket according to the minimum number of gems you need to satisfy the requirements..


Druid Special Attacks

Baseline DPS isn't going to cut it – we need to make use of our special attacks if we're actually going to start pumping out the hurts. Luckily, we have a variety of these and most of them are pretty good, albeit situational.


A lot of druid DPS is driven by combo points – you apply your s special attacks to build these, and then you use your finishers to consume them. Druid DPS is best focussed on single targets so combo points can accumulate.


Main Attacks


There are only two attacks that, as a rule, you'll use to build combo points. Both of these can critically hit.


  • Mangle
  • Shred

Once you have mangle, remove claw from your toolbar. It is obsolete. It has no use to you as a feral druid. I see this asked quite a lot, so it's worth emphasising – Mangle is a full replacement for claw.


Mangle is your bread and butter for soloing – it does heavy damage by itself and also increases the effectiveness of your most powerful finishing move. It is non-directional, which means you can use it no matter what direction you are in relation to your opponent.


Shred is your instance/raid DPS tool – in these situations, you should mangle and then shred until the mangle debuff is gone. Shred can only be used when behind an opponent though, so if your opponent is positioned in a tricky location or is highly mobile, then you might want to rely on the convenience of mangle.


These two attacks are Heavy Hitters. Consider our druid with 2200 AP (we will ignore critical hits for now). Our druid is hitting for 212 unmitigated points of damage:


Attack


Formula


Unmitigated Damage


Mitigated Damage


Mangle (Rank 3)


192% + 346


753


527


Shred (Rank 7)


225% + 405


882


617


We'll look at these in connection with critical hits in the next section.


Finishing Moves


Each of these attacks, when they land, award a combo point on the target. You can build up to five of these, but they will be lost if you switch targets. Your combo points can then be spent on one of your two finishing moves:


  • Rip
  • Ferocious Bite
  • Maim

Rip is a bleed effect , and as such does not work on a number of mobs – undead, elementals and mechanicals are the usual suspects, although there are some inconsistencies. It is also not mitigated by armour. Rip does damage over a specific period of time, like a slow-release capsule… damage like this is called DOT damage. As such, it's a waste to use rip on a mob that isn't likely to live long enough for you to get more than about six seconds of damage. Rip lasts for twelve seconds, and does damage six times with two seconds between 'ticks'


Ferocious Bite unloads all your damage in one big chunk, but it consumes all your energy to do so, and is mitigated by armour. Ferocious Bite (or FB) is best saved for when a mob has mere seconds to live (and there are no other mobs to be dealt with), or when you desperately need to front-load a big chunk of hurt (such as in PvP).


Maim is a ‘mini ferocious bite' that also incapacitates for a few seconds. It does not consume all of your energy.


Rip and Ferocious Bite scale according to the number of combo points you have applied – we'll look at how they compare for five combo points. The tooltips for the attacks also quote static damage numbers – both attacks actually scale with your attack power. Ferocious bite takes 3% of your attack power per combo point, and adds it to the final damage. With four and five combo points, rip adds 24% of your attack power to the damage done. As far as I am aware, maim does not scale with AP .


Let's assume you've applied five combo points for both with 2200 AP:


Attack


Average Base Damage


Unmitigated Damage with AP


Mitigated Damage with AP


Rip (rank 7)


1092


1620


1620


Ferocious Bite (rank 6)


951


1281


897


Maim (rank 1)


692


692


484


Ferocious Bite and maim can critically hit, while rip cannot. Ferocious bite is also mitigated by armour, so it does substantially less than quoted. However, you can also wait until you have more energy before using ferocious bite – it costs 35 energy itself, and each additional point of energy you have gets converted into 4.1 damage. A ferocious bite at 100 energy does an additional 266 points of damage, but you lose all your energy in the process.


Because ferocious bite can critically hit, it can generate some very large numbers – a critically hitting FB at 100 energy does 3094 points of damage before we even take into account talents that increase it. Even if we are taking into account mitigation at 30%, that's 2165 points of damage.


But, it all gets more complicated when you add in mangle – mangle applies a debuff to your foes that causes them to take an additional 30% of damage from shred and bleed effects (such as rip). Mangle modified for these two, we get the following damages:


Attack


Non-Mitigated Non-Mangled Damage


Mitigated Non-Mangled Damage


Non-Mitigated Mangled Damage


Mitigated Mangled Damage


Rip (rank 7)


1620


1620


2106


2106


Shred (rank 7)


882


617


1146


802


With a mangle up, a rip does more damage than most critically hitting ferocious bites, without draining the entirety of your energy bar. Shred also hits considerably harder, to the point where it's more DPS efficient to ignore combo points and shred than to use a ferocious bite.


Openers


If you begin a fight in stealth, you have additional choices as to what attacks to use:


  • Pounce
  • Ravage

Pounce applies a bleed debuff (increased by attack power at a rate of 18% of your AP) and stuns your opponent for three seconds (untalented). It also awards a combo point, but cannot critically hit. Ravage simply unloads a very large amount of damage and can critically hit. It also awards a combo point.


For most situations, pounce is the superior opener – it gives time to unload a very effective combo of pounce, followed by mangle, followed by shred. Even if none of these critically hit, you will get three combo points. If both your mangle and shred critically hit, you'll do massive damage and also have five combo points left to unload whatever finisher is most appropriate.


Taking into account openers only, they compare thusly on a 2200 AP druid :


Attack


Non-Mitigated Damage


Mitigated Damage


Pounce (rank 4)


996


996


Ravage (rank 5)


1256


879


Pounce is almost always a superior opener – the only real exception comes if you are about to ravage someone who is sitting or lying down. Any hit against a prone target is an automatic critical hit.


Pounce's real benefit though comes in the stun it applies – if you have a full energy bar, you can get off a pounce, mangle and shred before your opponent gets a chance to even react: If you're quick you can also throw in a Faerie Fire after the pounce to maximise your damage.


Attack


Unmitigated Damage


Mitigated Damage


Pounce


996


996


Mangle


753


527


Mangled Shred


1146


802


Total


2895


2325


If either the mangle or shred critically hit, then the damage done is even greater, of course.


Situational Attacks


That leaves two abilities on the toolbar that have not been discussed. These have situational utility at best:


  • Rake
  • Tiger's Fury

For the energy they cost, the damage these two contribute towards is almost negligible. Tiger's Fury has lsome imited utility if you are about to ravage an opponent – the bonus to damage it gives is factored into the damage by ravage, and even its short duration does not hurt much.


Rake has virtually no PvE utility – in PvP, it is a useful mechanism for stopping rogues vanishing, or stopping non-healing classes from bandaging. It's a low damage, low duration bleed effect. Outside of PvP, its utility is virtually non-existent.


Critical Hits and You

The figures above have largely ignored critical hits because they are a little more complicated for druids with the appropriate talents. Critical hits for a druid do more than simply double the damage of an attack – they give us extra rage and combo points (with the Primal Fury talent), and also proc our Leader of the Pack healing, Those who have talented for it (Predatory Instincts) also gain a 10% bonus to critical hits, making them more desirable still.


The following table shows the increased damage for each of the critically hitting attacks discussed in the previous section:


Attack


Non-Mitigated Non-Crit


Mitigated Non-Crit


Non-Mitigated Crit w/o Predatory Instincts


Mitigated Crit w/o Predatory Instincts


Non-Mitigated Crit with Predatory Instincts


Mitigated Crit with Predatory Instincts


Mangle


753


527


1506


1054


1656


1159


Non Mangled Shred


882


617


1764


1235


1940


1358


Mangled Shred 1146 802 2292 1604 2512 1764

Ferocious Bite


1281


897


2526


1768


2779


1945


Maim


692


484


1384


968


1522


1065


Ravage


1256


879


2512


1758


2763


1934


The impact of Predatory Instinct on your overall DPS is fairly marginal - it gives roughly a 3-4% increase in DPS at the critical hit chance quoted above. It's nice to have but hardly mandatory. However, since you're looking to maximise your critical hit chance anyway, it's worth taking unless the points are needed elsewhere. Don't sacrifice another desired talent for it, but take it if it's available.


Mitigation

I've included the unmitigated values of damage above for one simple reason – your enemy won't always have the full amount of mitigation quoted (30%). Sometimes they'll have more (mobs in plate armour). Sometimes they'll have less (mobs in robes). Sometimes you'll be fighting a mob that has had its armour substantially removed – expose armour, sunder armour and even faerie fire all count towards this. You may find your attacks aren't actually being mitigated as much as you might think, in which case the unmitigated numbers become important. A mob that has had all the armour reducing debuffs applied (sunder/expose armour and faerie fire) has around 3200 less armour than it would normally - such a mob will be taking a large amount of extra damage from every one of your attacks.


Your Talents

In reality, I'd say ‘Take the entire feral tree except Nurturing Instinct'. It's an excellent tree, with very little fat in it – and if you're reading this guide, you're a feral at heart already. Nurturing Instinct might be useful for hardcore PvP, but I'd be dubious of any use outside of that. However, if you were looking to maximise your cat DPS with the minimal talent expenditure, this is what you're looking for:


Talent


Tree


# Pts


Justification


Ferocity


Feral


5


As a Hardcore Feral, you won't use claw or rake. But by god, you'll use mangle.


Brutal Impact


Feral


2


That one additional second on pounce is golden for pulling off the combo discussed above.


Sharpened Claws


Feral


3


6% extra critical hit for three points? Yes please - in terms of the actual benefit you gain per talent point, it's hard to feel hard-done by when other classes must spend five talent points to get 5% increase.


Shredding Attacks


Feral


2


The must have DPS talent for instancing druids. Most of your instance DPS comes from shred, and this makes it much cheaper to do.


Primal Fury


Feral


2


It's free combo points, and combo points drive an awful lot of your damage in long fights.


Predatory Strikes


Feral


3


It sucks, but you've got to take it to get the next talent.


Heart of the Wild


Feral


5


Pure awesomeness all around - 20% extra strength is virtually mandatory in ensuring that your attack power scales properly with gear.


Leader of the Pack


Feral


1


5% extra critical hit for one point? You'd be mad not to take it – and it's even a buff for your party!


Improved Leader of the Pack


Feral


2


Has zero effect on your DPS output, except that it keeps you alive longer and that's always a good thing. It's one of the things that justifies taking a feral druid along as DPS.


Mangle


Feral


1


Try going back to claw after using mangle - it's beyond painful.


Naturalist


Resto


5


A 10% increase in all the damage you do is a very good thing.


Omen of Clarity


Resto


1


Energy free attacks every now and again - it procs at roughly one and a half times per minute over a long enough period of time, and if it procs at a good time (such as when you're doing a pounce / mangle /shred opener), it's just beautiful to behold.


Total points spent


32


Of course, there are prerequisites here – you need to spend 41 points to get mangle, for example – but these are the must have DPS talents. The rest, well – you can pick and choose. If you plan on a tank/DPS build, then you can't go wrong with the standard 1/49/11 or 1/46/14 builds. The former is more PvE based, the latter ever so slightly more PvP based. Either of them will serve you well for both roles.


You'll notice I left out Feral Aggression from this list of must have talents, despite it buffing Ferocious Bite by quite a bit (15% at five points). That's because you'll hardly ever use Ferocious Bite in instances unless you're fighting a bleed immune mob – even then, because of the energy deficit, it's usually better to just keep on shredding and ignore your combo points.


Ferocious Bite versus Shredding

Ferocious Bite is, in the majority of cases, a bad finisher . I'll explain why! It's not to do with the damage it does (which can be considerable), it's to do with the fact it steals all your energy at a fairly abysmal conversion rate. If possible, always rip rather than ferocious bite. However, in some circumstances (such as facing mobs that are bleed immune), it's the only damage-dealing finisher you have (excluding maim, which is a mini ferocious bite). Consider two strategies on a bleed immune mob, using our 2200 AP druid as a baseline. We'll assume 100 energy and Shredding Attacks.


Ferocious bite without five points in feral aggression:


Attack


Cost


Unmitigated Damage


Mitigated Damage


Ferocious Bite


100


1548


1083


Ferocious Bite 35 1281 897

Ferocious Bite with Feral Aggression:


Attack


Cost


'Unmitigated
'
Damage


Mitigated Damage


Ferocious Bite


100


1780


1246


Ferocious Bite 35 1473 1031

Now, shredding without a mangle debuff:


Attack


Cost


Unmitigated
Damage


Mitigated Damage


Shred


42


882 618

Shred


42


882 618

Total


1764


1234


And shredding with a mangle debuff:


Attack


Cost


Unmitigated
Damage


Mitigated Damage


Shred


42


1147


803


Shred


42


1147


803


Total


2294


1606


The situation gets less pronounced at lower levels of energy – if you have less than 42 energy left, then do a ferocious bite – for its base energy cost, it has excellent damage output. The more energy you have, the worse your damage becomes in comparison to your alternatives.


Basic Special Attack Rotation

As DPS on long fights, we get a fairly simple job – if we are the sole druid, we mangle when the debuff has expired, and shred the rest of the time. If we are part of multiple druids, it's worth discussing who is to mangle and when – you can share out the duties, or assign it to the druid with the lowest sustainable DPS. For five mans and heroics, it's unlikely to actually matter.


Let's assume we're the sole druid in a group – our strategy is simple. We are limited in our attacks by the global cooldown (whenever you use an attack, the global cooldown is triggered and makes it so you can't use another attack for a full second) and our energy. Although cat-form attacks are instant, we can't unload them faster than one per second.


The mangle debuff lasts 12 seconds – we apply that, and then shred as often as we can until it needs to be reapplied until we have five combo points. At this point, you let your energy tick until it's 80+, and then do a rip following immediately by a mangle. This is the way to maximise your DPS on long fights:


Second


Energy


Action


Action Cost


Note


Combo Points
0 100 N/A N/A N/A
1 60 Mangle 40 Mangle debuff applied for 12 seconds 1
2 18 Shred 42 2
3 38 N/A 0 Energy Tick
4 38 N/A 0
5 16 Shred 42 Energy Tick 3
6 16 N/A 0
7 36 N/A 0 Energy Tick
8 36 N/A 0
9 14 Shred 42 Energy Tick 4
10 14 N/A 0
11 34 N/A 0 Energy Tick
12 34 N/A 0

At this point, the mangle debuff wears off when you have 54 energy.


Let's look at Scenario A, mangling right away and then ripping when you can:


Second


Energy


Action


Action Cost


Note


Combo Points
12 34 N/A N/A N/A 4
13 14 Mangle 40 Energy tick. Mangle debuff wears off and is reapplied 5
14 14 N/A 0
15 4 Rip 30 Energy Tick and rip debuff applied

0

16 4 N/A 0
17 24 N/A 0 Energy tick and Rip tick
18 24 N/A 0
19 2 Shred 42 Energy tick and Rip tick 1
20 2 N/A 0
21 22 N/A 0 Rip tick and energy tick
22 22 N/A 0
23 0 Shred 42 Energy tick and Rip tick 2
24 0 N/A 0
25 20 N/A 0

Energy tick and Rip tick.


Mangle debuff fades


26 20 N/A 0
27 0 Mangle 40 Energy tick and rip ticks, and then mangle debuff is reapplied 3
28 0 N/A 0
29 20 N/A 0 Energy tick
30 20 N/A 0

The last tick of your rip isn't affected by mangle, whic is a shame because that's a loss of a full 5% of your rip's damage. Over a long fight, that adds up. In addition, it becomes harder to keep track of your debuffs - when should you be mangling, and when should you be shredding and ripping. It's messy.


On the other hand, let's look at what happens when we let our energy tick back up to 80 before the rip/mangle rotation:


Second


Energy


Action


Action Cost


Note


Combo Points
12 34 N/A N/A N/A 4
13 54 N/A N/A Energy tick
14 54 N/A N/A
15 74 N/A N/A Energy tick
16 74 N/A N/A
17 44 Rip 30 Rip debuff applied and energy tick 0
18 4 Mangle 40 Mangle debuff applied 1
19 24 N/A 0 Energy tick and Rip tick.
20 24 N/A 0
21 2 Shred 42 Energy tick and Rip tick. 2
22 2 N/A 0
23 22 N/A 0 Energy tick and Rip tick.
24 22 N/A 0
25 0 Shred 42 Energy tick and Rip tick. 3
26 0 N/A 0
27 20 N/A 0 Energy tick and Rip tick.
28 20 N/A 0
29 20 N/A 0 Energy tick and Rip tick.
30 40 N/A 0 Mangle debuff fades

At this point, you then shred to 4 (or five, it's not a huge difference) combo points and then begin the rotation once more.


If you have a druid tank, you can drop the mangles (the bear tank will be keeping them up already) and concentrate only on shredding – this has the effect of substantially increasing your DPS and simplifying your rotation – all you do is shred to four/five points and then rip.


It should be obvious at this point what Ferocious Bite does to the rotation – it starts it off from zero again, whereas rip keeps 24 rage intact meaning that a shred can follow up on the next tick. Little drops like that can have a huge impact on your damage in a long fight.


Advanced Attack Rotation - Powershifting

So, furor - it also has its place in a very mana intensive, but high power DPS strategy - powershifting. Powershifting is shifting out into caster form and immediately back into cat form. The 40 energy you gain from furor is two ticks, which you can use in low energy situations to let you pile on another special attack, or give you a head start in regenning energy to 100.


For what it's worth, I don't use powershifting. It just seems like a lot of extra hassle. It's very timing sensitive - if you screw up the timing you're going to end up lowering your DPS more than anything else. It requires you to have a perfect grasp of energy ticks to get the most out of it (there are addons to help you with this) - a lot of the technique is based on the fact that energy ticks even when you're not in cat form (although this is perhaps to change in an imminent patch - reports vary). It also requires you to have a significant pool of mana (shifting isn't cheap - if you're going to adopt this as a primary mechanicm, three points in natural shapeshifter and a staff of natural fury would be huge benefits). If you're really, really serious about it, you might even invest in a Wolfshead Helm,although I suspect that would bring your overall DPS down considering how many stats you'd be sacrificing on even mediocre gear.


Shifting out of a form is not affected by the global cooldown - this is important for powershifting. You can shift out of your form without triggering the cooldown, and then back into it before the cooldown triggers- we'll assume for this rotation that you can do both in the space of a single second - you may want to make a macro for this.


Let's assume we're following the rotation outlined above, and after applying our rip, we powershift:


Second


Energy


Action


Action Cost


Note


Combo Points
0 100 N/A N/A N/A
1 60 Mangle 40 Mangle debuff applied for 12 seconds 1
2 18 Shred 42 2
3 38 N/A 0 Energy Tick
4 38 N/A 0
5 16 Shred 42 Energy Tick 3
6 16 N/A 0
7 36 N/A 0 Energy Tick
8 36 N/A 0
9 14 Shred 42 Energy Tick 4
10 40 Powershift 0

Shift in and out


11 60 N/A 0 Energy tick
12 60 N/A 0
13 80 N/A 0 Mangle debuff fades

It's important to time the ticks of energy properly or you won't get the proper benefit - you want to powershift just before your energy ticks so that you get 60 energy. If you powershift just after it ticks, you'll be left with 40.


You can see here how this has circumvented a lot of the waiting you normally need in order to do your rip and mangle combo - it's shaved five seconds off of the process - instead of a rip/mangle at 18 seconds, you can do it at 13 and at the cost of only a white hit.


You can do all sorts of other, more intensive strategies with powershifting - for example, if you're at 0 energy you can powershift to get off a shred (effectively you turn your white hit into a shred instead).


How much DPS does it actually add? Well, that's hard to say and will depend on your exact powershift strategy. However, as it requires split-second timing, low lag and a large mana pool, it's probably more trouble than it's actually worth unless you desparately need to eke out every last point of damage.


As of Patch 2.2, you can no longer time your shift to get the instant 20 energy tick - this has implications for the viability of power-shifting, but the basic principle remains intact. It is unknown at this time if this change is intentional or an unexpected side-effect of the changes to Evocation and Innervate.


Threat and You

As a feral DPSer, you're going to pump out a lot of threat. Luckily, as a cat you have an inbuilt threat reduction of 29% - every point of damage you do is a point of threat, but because of this modifier you get 71 threat for every 100 points of damage you cause. That's a giant help, and one that's relatively new.

You also have the ability cower – for the cost of 20 energy, you reduce your threat against your current target by 831. Oddly enough, cower can be parried. Go figure.


Aside from these two things, you have zero class-specific ways to reduce your threat. That means you need to pay attention when you're doing damage. Sometimes you're going to have to stop your rotation and throw on a couple of cowers – I recommend this after a couple of shred critical hits. Sometimes you're going to have to stop special attacks entirely until the tank can rebuild aggro – switching to another safely tanked target can be a good way of doing this until you feel it's safe to unload the hurt again.


Druids are ‘pared to the bone' in terms of their functionality – we tank without ‘oh shit' buttons, we heal without ‘oh shit' buttons, and we DPS without ‘oh shit' buttons. Just remember, bear form is your friend if you pull aggro, but for the love of God don't keep DPSing in bear form – your threat will rocket through the roof. Turn away, let the mob hit you but don't hit back – you won't survive for long, but you'll give your healers a bit of breathing space and ensure you don't get two or three-shotted to death. Always keep that in mind – the chances are you're going to be one of the first to pull aggro, and you're the DPSer least equipped to deal with it in your damage form. Sometimes you have to pull it back a few notches.


Useful Macros

Probably the most useful DPS macro I use is one that triggers my 'on use' AP trinkets whenever I make a special attack. I always forget to use them otherwise, so I decided to bind them into macros and use those macros in place of my normal attacks on the action bar.


Let's say for example that I have the Ancient Draenai War Talisman and Bladefist's Breadth. I want them to be used whenever mangle or shred is used, but I don't want to be spammed with 'Item is not ready' messages. This macro hides the error window, attempts to use both trinkets, and then finally unloads a shred. If the cooldown on the items is up, they'll be activated one after another (not both at the same time). If not, I can shred away without being scolded by the UI. This macro is for Shred:

  1. showtooltip Shred(Rank 7)

/script UIErrorsFrame:Hide()
/use Bladefist's Breadth
/stopcasting
/use Ancient Draenei War Talisman
/stopcasting
/cast Shred(Rank 7)
/script UIErrorsFrame:Clear(); UIErrorsFrame:Show()

The only thing needed to change this to a mangle macro is the command actually used:

  1. showtooltip Mangle (Cat)(Rank 7)

/script UIErrorsFrame:Hide()
/use Bladefist's Breadth
/stopcasting
/use Ancient Draenei War Talisman
/stopcasting
/cast Mangle (Cat)(Rank 7)
/script UIErrorsFrame:Clear(); UIErrorsFrame:Show()

For what it's worth, I also bind this macro into my bear mangle and bear swipe attacks - always nice if you have to go bear form while wearing your DPS gear.


Other Stuff

Not sure what I've missed out here, so if you have any questions let me know and I'll add them in. Other druid DPSers should also feel free to post their advice and such, and I'll compile it all into the main document.