Nov 232010

The world has been shattered and remade while we slept, and it’s time to rock. I’ve got the info you need to prepare you for leveling in Cataclysm. (If you’re looking for a full guide to raiding as a feral, go to my main guide here.)


EDIT: Changed a few points around on these, after reading Reesi’s leveling advice and deciding I liked it better. :)

Pure Cat Spec: (wowhead link)

This spec is designed around questing/leveling (it should be fine for DPS in dungeons, but I definitely wouldn’t try to tank with it). Instead of discussing what I took, I’ll just mention what I left out:

  • Primal Madness: Still horrible.
  • Pulverize/Natural Reaction Bear talents. Infected Wounds is kept because it’ll significantly reduce the damage you take from trash.
  • Blood in the Water: Yes, trash lasts longer, but not so long that you’ll actually have the chance for Rip to tick through it’s full duration twice.
  • Furor (1/3): Other options are better.
  • Thick Hide: A bear talent, but we’ll take it as we’re leveling for more survivability (those Uldum/Twilight Highlands mobs can HURT).
  • Endless Carnage (1/2): The one that hurts the most to leave off, but we’ll be killing many of the earlier mobs in less than 12s anyway. Optionally, add this as you’re leveling instead of Thick Hide.

81-85 talent choices: Master Shapeshifter, Thick Hide 1/3, TH 2/3, TH 3/3, Endless Carnage 2/2. (Optionally, grab EC earlier if stuff is lasting long enough to need it. You’ll be respeccing at 85.)

CatBear Spec: (wowhead link)

This spec is designed to be more survivable; able to tank early Cata dungeons/do a bit of AOE mob grinding with bear Berserk, without gimping your DPS ability too much. It drops Feral Aggression, Nurturing Instincts and a point from Fury Swipes and Endless Carnage to pick up Thick Hide, Natural Reaction, and Pulverize. Glyphs are unchanged.

81-85 talent choices: Master Shapeshifter, 3/3 Fury Swipes, Endless Carnage 1/2, EC 2/2, Feral Aggression 1/2. (You’ll be respeccing at 85.)


  • Prime: Mangle, Tiger’s Fury, Berserk/Rip. You won’t be using Shred or Savage Roar frequently, so Mangle/TF takes their places. For the third slot, I’m thinking Berserk for the early zones, then Rip for the later zones once mobs really start bulking up on the HP.
  • Major: Faerie Fire, Feral Charge, (your choice). FF/FC are obvious. I don’t see any great third choices, so take your pick; I’d recommend Maul, for “oops pulled too many” situations.
  • Minor: Dash, (your choice), (your choice). More Dash is always good, the rest are, well, minor.


The gear reset for this expansion is a bit different from the previous two. Similar to LK, DPS stats on gear don’t grow rapidly. However, the stamina on Cata pieces is significantly higher. Ferals are one of the sturdier classes to begin with, so this doesn’t affect us as much as it would a cloth class, but it’s something to thing about. My recommendations:

  • T9 (232) gear or worse: Upgrade immediately.
  • T10 (251) : You’ll be okay for VJ/Hyjal; look to start upgrading in Deepholm.
  • T10.25/Heroic T10 (264/277): You’ll be okay up to Uldum; you can probably make it to Twilight Highlands without upgrading, but you’ll be very squishy.

Also, don’t forget to do something about your meta, as I noted previously. EDIT: Never mind, metagem change is being reverted, but no timeline as to when. You may want to grab a Thundering Skyflare, just in case. (And if you’re on Vek’nilash-US, buy it from Alabank! TY.)


Unlike LK where bursting quest mobs down was easy (Manglex3, FB, repeat), you’ll need to employ your DoTs a bit more, as well as Ravage. Mob health is through the roof (yes, this is for normal mobs):

  • Level 80 (WOTLK): 12k
  • Level 80 (Cata): 30k
  • Level 81: 37k
  • Level 82: 44k
  • Level 83: 53k
  • Level 84: 70k
  • Level 85: 85k

Not only is mob health going up, our combat ratings are dropping drastically. Details are here, but figure that we lose roughly 5% crit per level post-80(mastery is similar, hit/haste aren’t quite as bad off). The combat rating scaling is to such a degree that you can expect to do 20-30% LESS damage at level 85 (in the same gear) than you did at 80.

As such, here’s what a sample rotation might look like:

  • Feral Charge in (to proc Stampede)
  • Rake
  • Ravage (from Stampede)
  • Manglex2
  • Tiger’s Fury
  • FB if the mob is close to death, otherwise put Rip up and go back to Mangling.

Savage Roar probably isn’t worth it, though if you’re fighting many mobs in sequence, you might as well put it up after a fight ends using leftover CP’s. Don’t forget you have Nurturing Instincts and Predatory Strikes, also; you can pop an instant Healing Touch after each fight to bring your health back up, and you’ll need to now that Leader of the Pack’s effectiveness has been halved. Don’t forget about your many “oops” buttons, too; Survival Instincts, Frenzied Regeneration (Bear), Barkskin+Tranquility, Shadowmeld (night elves).

Don’t forget about Berserk! It’s a bit of a waste using it in Cat Form, but it’s great for AOE grinding in Bear. Every 3 minutes, grab up 3/4 mobs then go bear, hit SI, then Thrash/Berserked Mangle them all down.

For tanking, Thrash at 81 will make your rotation much more potent (and AOE tanking much easier), as it hits significantly harder than everything save Mangle (and Maul, but that’s a separate case). Basically, your rotation will be Mangle/Thrash/x/x, repeat, where x is Demo Roar/FFF if needed, Lacerate if it’s not stacked 3x, or Pulverize if Lacerate is fully stacked. Substitute Swipe for Lacerate for AOE situations. Just be careful of CC; if you’re using it, leave out Swipe/Thrash.

That’s it for now; once Cata is unlocked, I’ll test all this and make any fixes necessary. Feel free to share anything or ask questions in the comments!

 Posted by at 3:23 pm

  23 Responses to “The Fluid Druid’s 80-85 Feral Leveling Guide”

  1. As 3rd major glyph I plan to pick up “Entangling Roots”, changing it to an instant cast. Should help against adds.

  2. In your level 80 cat spec, I would not bother with the two points in Natural Shapeshifter and I would put those in Brutal Impact. Part of speed leveling is minimizing time healing yourself. When I leveled on Beta, I interrupted casters a lot. Also, Skull Bash allows you to close the distance to a nearby caster quickly – handy when you have multiple mobs with a caster hanging off to the side.

    For glyphs, I highly recommend Glyph of Rake as the third major glyph. It is great for keeping those pesky humanoids from running off and grabbing their buddies. It is a huge boon when leveling.

    • Those two points in NS are to enable grabbing MS at 81; if there’s a lot of interrupting going on, then yeah, BI would be important.

      Good call on the Rake glyph as well.

  3. Excellent leveling guide Alaron.

    Just curious if anyone knows of similar blogs of the same “The Fluid Druid” caliber for warriors and shamans? I am looking to level my alts sometime, and would love to know if there was something out there. There seem to be an abundance of good druid theorycraft bloggers for all specs, but I haven’t found anything for other classes. Is this something unique to the druid community?

  4. They are reverting the meta gem change

    DPS Meta Gem requirements changes
    The current design has been reconsidered, so we’re planning to revert gems that now require more blue than red gems back to their original requirements. Such a change can’t be accomplished via a hotfix though, so we’ll have to wait to revert these in a future patch

  5. Thanks for putting this together. Really made me excited for next Tues.

    I wanted to also post some feedback for but there doesn’t seem to be comments for that page.

    1) LotP is now a 4% heal (*sad bear*).
    2) Primal Madness tooltip seems to say “increases *current* and maximum energy”. So it would both give you 120 energy for TF and Berserk, but it also gives you an extra 20 energy for both. Weak for Berserk, but it makes TF give you 80 energy, rather than 60. Though I imagine that 20 energy / 30s is a small dps boost. (hence your “Primal Madness: still horrible” here).
    Just pointing out that it at least does something more useful now.

    Might be better in PvP, since it gives you 20 more energy to do stuff while your burst +15% physical damage buff is going. Or if 80 energy is enough to complete a rotation inside the 6s window, while 60 wouldn’t be.

    3) Most places I’ve read put expertise and hit below the value of crit. Apparently missed yellow attacks only cost 20% of their energy, while a crit effectively gives you 100% energy (since you get 2 points). So while you may lose a gcd here and there due to a miss, we are mostly energy capped, and crits give us that extra combo point we lost to a miss. (plus, our bleeds can crit, but at worst a miss just pushes them back 1GCD, they’ll still bleed a long time.)

    And if you time refreshing your bleeds for when there is 1 tick left (refreshing will extend a single tick), then you potentially could avoid any lost time from bleeds falling off.

    • I apologize that I didn’t get to the end, where you debate the Mastery vs Hit question. Ignore (3) above.

    • Thanks for the feedback.
      1) I’m tracking the LOTP change, and it will be in the guide update (probably posted on Friday)
      2) For Primal Madness, the problem with it was that (unless they’ve changed it) was that the extra energy faded away once TF/Berserk ended. For example, if you had 0/100 energy and hit TF, you’d jump to 80/120. Six seconds later (say you Mangled twice, so you gained 60 energy and burned 70) you’d go from 70/120 to 50/100.
      Essentially, you only got the free energy if you were able to FB or otherwise dump all your energy immediately before it fell off.
      3) Yes, exp/hit will be the worst stats for Cata, and the whole hit/exp capping thing is obsolete.

  6. I was thinking about the rotation for kitties. Wouldn’t pounce followed by rake, ravage, ravage till pounce stun wears off, mangle, TF, FB also be good?

    And in the hybrid spec if you only want to level and not do any tanking in instances then you can leave off pulverize and put that point somewhere else.

    • Rotationwise: Yes, that would work, though I need to see what the DPE on Pounce is (and I think you mean Shred until stun wears off…which, with glyphed Mangle, isn’t adding much if any DPE). I wonder if Stampeded Ravages ignoring the positional requirement is intended behavior, as it hasn’t been fixed.

      Specs: I’ve tweaked them a bit. Yeah, you could drop Pulverize if you weren’t planning on dungeon running.

      • However, you are also missing the 30% bleed debuff, which is hurting rake and shred (and pounce). I’m not sure how much time is on pounce, but something l like:

        TF, Pounce, Mangle, Shred (as many times as you can), Rake seems reasonable. You don’t have to rake before shred, because Pounce is already bleeding. And from what I’ve read, Mangle can be applied after applying a bleed, as long as it is before the tick. (similarly if it falls off before a tick, the tick will be smaller).

        However, all that is quite a bit more complex than:

        TF, Mangle, Rake, Mangle until 5cp, rip/fb, etc.

        Length of fight and how hard they hit will probably be a big factor. Is it worth stealth to get pounce off when it takes you longer to get to the mob (and positioning yourself behind the mob as well).

        The simpler rotation also lets you pull with Faerie Fire, which means you’re much less likely to get adds.

      • Yeah, I think complexity can be overrated. If I’m running through a zone’s worth of “kill 10 x’s,” which are generally not too much challenge (yes, presumably harder then Wrath, but they’re still normal level mobs), then I don’t want to waste too much time figuring out what to do. Feral Charge, Ravage/Mangle/Rake/FB them down, and continue. Save the thinking for the elites. For example, I could see doing a Stealthed FC/Pounce/TF, then Rake/Mangle/Mangle/(SI)/Ravage/Rip. (Then go Bear.)

  7. Actually the reason I mentioned pounce was for the stun effect. A mob stunned for a few seconds means zero incomming damage which means I can go longer without spending time to heal.

  8. I was setting up my hotbar last night and found a nice trick to help bring the bar bloat down a bit. You can put feral charge and ravage on the same button via a macro since feral charge is off the gcd.

    /cast Feral Charge(Cat Form)
    /cast Ravage(Cat Form)

  9. I have to say, so far, I am really missing 3/3 furor for leveling. With shifting out to complete some quest objectives and shifting to flight form to quickly jump between mobs, having the energy immediately is very handy. I put my 81 tp to get 2/3 furor, and if I happen to be close to a trainer at some point, will be going 3/3.

    • I did about half of Hyjal before heading to work…I didn’t have too much of a problem with energy, as stuff was mainly dying in 5-6 sec, but I can see how someone in lesser gear might have issues.

  10. Never said it was hard, or i was having a hard time killing stuff (in all 264 or higher gear), just that i found it annoying to shift out of flight form to cat and be sitting on 30ish energy (not enough for a mangle) instead of up to 100. It is a little less annoying with 2/3 furor.

  11. Just wanted to say this is a great guide (as usual) and exactly what I was looking for! Keep up the good work Alaron!! :o)

  12. […] The Fluid Druid’s feral 80-85 feral leveling guide Alaron wrote this with more of an eye toward cats than bears (see our cat section, below), but you’ll find extremely useful information here nonetheless. […]

  13. […] every stupid fight brought me to half-health or below and I was starting to get pissed. Fortunately Alaron’s excellent guide advised me on how to respec and change my rotation to handle the harder-hitting and harder-to-kill […]

  14. Super good guide mate!!!
    You got some pvp Information? Find it maybe i read over it anyway thx for great guide!!!

  15. good guide, but here you are saying that it is difficult to kill the mobs as they have up to 85k health, this may be so in cat form, but in bear form even mobs 2-3 lvl higher are easy, as i can often hit 15k and take hardly any damage. IS there any chance you could add some information about druid bear form because that would make this site even better.

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