Guide Status: Updated for 6.0, some level 100 material to be added.
Greetings. I’m Chase Hasbrouck (aka Alaron), formerly of WoW Insider. I’ve been blogging and writing about Druids since Wrath of the Lich King, and I’m here today to teach you everything you need to know about playing a feral druid in Warlords of Draenor, WoW 6.0. Let’s begin!
(Author’s Note: This guide is targeted at the intermediate WoW player. I will include links to guides that cover concepts in more detail where appropriate.)
Changes in 6.0
While we didn’t see the huge change that we did in 5.0, feral got quite a few tweaks across the board. If you’re already familiar with how to play feral and just want a summary of what’s changed, check out my Feral Druid Changes in Patch 6.0 post. As a short recap, though:
- Hit/Expertise is gone. Two new secondary stats have been added; Versatility (flat buff) and Multistrike (chance to double hit). Reforging is gone.
- Snapshotting is gone; no more stacking super-powerful bleeds.
- Combo Points are on the player, not the target.
- Mangle is gone. Ravage/Pounce are gone, and functionality folded into Shred/Rake from Stealth.
- Level 90 talents no longer affect damage.
What are feral druids? Well, we’re the druid melee DPS class, and we kill things, fast and stylishly. Overall, we’re similar to rogues (we have stealth, energy, and wear agility leather), but there’s less stealth and poison and much more bleeding.
Our primary resource is energy. We have a 100-point pool of energy that all of our abilities draw from, which regenerates at 10 energy/second (increasable via haste). Our basic attack, Shred, costs 40 energy, so we can chain together 3 when starting with a full bar; after that, we have to use an energy regeneration ability or simply wait. However, there’s more than just energy to deal with.
Our secondary resource is combo points. Each of our basic attacks generates a combo point, which can be stacked up to 5 and can then be consumed by other abilities known as “finishers” to increase their damage. In almost all cases, you will want to use finishers with a full 5 combo points to maximize their effectiveness. Thankfully, it’s now much easier to do that; Warlords of Draenor changes combo points to store them on the player, rather than the target. This means you can freely change targets without losing your current combo points.
- Speed. With Cat Form’s innate speed buff, Dash, and Stampeding Roar, cats are one of the most mobile roles in the game, bar none. As raid encounters continue to get more complex and require more movement, the ability of cats to open and close range quickly becomes essential.
- Self-healing. We have multiple self-healing abilities that can be used in-form; we also can glyph for a permanent 20% healing done (to us) increase. We will not stress healer mana.
- Best off-role potential. With the Heart of the Wild talent, we can jump into tanking or healing temporarily and “save the day,” if necessary.
- Complicated rotation. Feral is easy to learn, but hard to master. A vast chunk of our damage potential comes from damage-over-time effects and self-buffs; you have to juggle these to keep them up. This has been considerably simplified for WoD, however.
- Area-of-Effect damage. Our basic AoE attack, Swipe, is very weak. We can do competitive AoE damage, but it involves rapidly switching targets and applying Rake to each, which is difficult. While final damage balancing for Warlords of Draenor is still being done, it was common in Mists of Pandaria raiding to assign feral druids to full-time boss damage.
These are the abilities you’re going to use most often, so know them, love them, hotkey them.
|Shred||40 energy. Basic attack. Increases combo points by 1 (2 on crit). Does a good bit of damage, and does more if the target is bleeding (which they should be). Your primary direct-damage ability. Using Shred from Stealth increases its damage significantly; you’ll typically prefer to open woth Rake, however.|
|Rake||35 energy. A damage-over-time ability that hits (or “ticks”) once then hits again five more times over 15 seconds. Increases combo points by 1 (2 on crit). You’ll want to keep this up and ticking as much as you can. Using Rake from Stealth adds a 4s stun and doubles its damage (Extra damage with Improved Rake perk at level 9x).|
|Savage Roar||25 energy. Finishing move that provides a 40% damage buff for 18 to 42 seconds, depending on the number of combo points used. By far, this is the most important finisher you have. Above all else, you want this up at all times. If possible, you want to refresh it at 5 combo points to cut down on energy use, but if it drops, put it up immediately with whatever combo points you currently have. Has two glyphs for WoD; one gives you a free 5cp SR when you open from stealth, the other gives you perma-SR at 75% effectiveness of normal.|
|Rip||30 energy. Finishing move that ticks for damage 12 times over 24 seconds; damage is based on number of combo points used. Second in priority to Savage Roar.|
|Ferocious Bite||25-50 energy. Consumes all your current energy (minimum of 25, maximum of 50) and combo points for a large direct-damage attack. If the target is under 25% health, a Ferocious Bite will also refresh Rip’s duration. (This is known as the Blood in the Water or BitW effect, after the Cataclysm talent.)|
|Tiger’s Fury||30 sec CD. immediately generates 60 energy and increases damage done by 15% for 8 seconds. Off-GCD, so you can use this anytime. USE THIS ON COOLDOWN. I can’t stress this enough; people try to save it, which is a bad idea 99% of the time. If it’s available for use, use it UNLESS you’re above 40 energy (don’t want to waste the benefit). In that case, toss a Shred or two, pop TF, and keep going.|
|Berserk||3 minute CD. For 15 seconds, all of your abilities cost 50% less energy. Unlike TF, this one you have some flexibility on; use it when you’ve got a chance for some uninterrupted damage time. Best used in combination with Tiger’s Fury.|
|Soul of the Forest /
/ Force of Nature
|You get ONE of these as your level 60 talent choice. Soul of the Forest is a passive bonus that lowers the cost of all your finishers. Incarnation is a 3 minute burst cooldown that gives you a sweet armored form and some extra damage for 30 sec. Force of Nature lets you pop out a treant every 20 sec that does damage. Pick whatever sounds good to you; eventually if you get serious about DPS, you’ll want to learn all three so you can optimize on a per-fight basis.|
|Thrash||50 energy, AoE damage-over-time ability that ticks 6 times over 15 seconds. Does solid damage and worth using any time you can catch 2+ targets with it.|
|Swipe||45 energy, basic area-of-effect (AoE) attack. Pretty lackluster damage; it works for AoE, but it’s not ideal unless there’s 6+ enemies out there. With less than that, Thrash + multiple Rakes is better.|
|Lunar Inspiration /
Claws of Shirvallah
|Your level 100 talent choice. Claws of Shirvallah is the passive ability that gives you a new Cat Form, a Versatility buff, and free in-form casting of most spells. It looks good, but it’s the least effective ability point-for-point in terms of damage. Bloodtalons causes Healing Touch to buff your next two attacks; like DoC in Mists of Pandaria, it’s a very strong single-target ability, but difficult to use. Finally, Lunar Inspiration allows you to use Moonfire as part of the rotation, which is perfect for multi-target fights.|
That’s it! Master those 10 (or 11), and you’ll know 90% of what you need to do.
Other notable abilities:
|Rebirth||10 minute CD. This lets you resurrect another player in combat. This capability, known as a “battle rez/brez,” used to be an iconic druid-only ability before it was spread to a few other classes, but mastering its quick use can be the difference between a kill and a wipe.|
|Survival Instincts||2 minute CD. A 50% damage reduction ability, lasts for 12 seconds with two charges. This WILL save you if things are intense, so keep it handy. Consider popping a charge early on expected damage and keeping one in reserve.|
|Predatory Swiftness / Healing Touch||Every time you use a finisher, you have a chance to proc Predatory Swiftness. This lets you instant-cast in-form a few Nature spells; you’ll primarily use this with Healing Touch as a self-heal, or if you’re feeling skilled, as a tank/raid heal.|
|Heart of the Wild / Dream of Cenarius / Nature’s Vigil||You get ONE of these as your level 90 talent choice. Heart of the Wildadds the ability to do off-role stuff temporarily. Dream of Cenarius allows you to Rejuvenate in form and buffs your Healing Touches. Nature’s Vigil is a burst splash healing cooldown. Overall, Dream of Cenarius looks best here, but this is up to personal taste.|
|Omen of Clarity||Every time you autoattack, you have a small chance to proc Omen of Clarity, which makes your next ability free of cost (“clearcasting”). This doesn’t change things up much, as your rotation will remain the same; just try to use OOC as soon as it procs, as it can’t proc again while one is already active.|
|Mark of the Wild||It’s a buff! Gives 5% to primary stats for you and your group, and 3% to Versatility.|
Here’s a brief list of abilities you should be using for maximum DPS, and the order you should be using them in.
- Savage Roar, if it’s down. Keeping SR up at all times is absolutely essential. If you’re struggling with this, you can use the Glyph of Savagery to make it always-on, but this will significantly hurt your DPS potential.
- Tiger’s Fury on cooldown. (Only if below 30ish energy.) DON’T SAVE IT! Keeping as much uptime as possible on the damage buff and using the extra energy is important. If you’re full on energy, toss up a few Shreds/Rakes to burn energy and use it immediately.
- Berserk on cooldown. Use right after a TF for best results. Delay use if TF will come off cooldown in 15 seconds or less.
- Any other talented DPS cooldowns you have, such as Incarnation or Force of Nature. Incarnation is best used in concert with Berserk. Force of Nature is best used when a trinket procs; drop all your treants then, else just keep 1 up to keep it constantly charging.
- 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.
- Rip, if you have 5 CP’s and it’s down.
- Rake, if it’s down.
- Ferocious Bite to burn CP’s if you have plenty of time on Rip/Savage Roar.
- Shred filler to burn extra energy.
If that looks too complicated, short version: use all your cooldowns (TF/Berserk/talents) as frequently as possible, keep Savage Roar, Rake, and Rip up as much as possible, and spend extra energy on Shreds.
Overall, your damage breakdowns will look something like this in a static fight.
- 20-30% melee
- 15-25% Rip
- 15-25% Rake
- 15-25% Shred
- 5-15% Ferocious Bite (depending on gear)
- Cleave situations (1 high-health target plus a few lower-health adds): Add in Thrash to standard rotation. If adds will live longer than 15 seconds, switch out boss Shreds for Rakes on adds, else let Thrash kill them.
- 2-5 target AoE: If they’re close enough together to Thrash more than 1, use Thrash. Else, keep Rake up on all (plus Moonfire, if specced into LI) and take turns dumping CP’s into Rip. Don’t let SR drop, though.
- 6+ target AoE: Keep Thrash up, Swipe all the things. (The actual number of targers threshold where Swipe beats Rake is still somewhat in flux.)
Cookie-cutter talent specs are dead! Spec for each fight, it only takes a single click (and a vendor item) to change a talent choice now, so you have only yourself to blame for not optimizing correctly. Take these recommendations with that in mind, and feel free to deviate if something else works better for you.
- Level 15: Feline Swiftness or Wild Charge. Feline Swiftness is a great passive but Wild Charge is amazing for short bursts of movement. Either one’s a good choice. Displacer Beast is handy in specific situations, but not worth a general recommendation.
- Level 30: Ysera’s Gift. Ysera’s Gift gives you a constant stream of healing that you don’t have to worry about. Simple is good here. Renewal is a simple big chunka’ heal, but with a longish CD. Cenarion Ward is great for leveling, but tends to become overhealing in a group. All are reasonably good choices.
- Level 45: Any. All of these talents will be useful only in very specific situations. If you can use it, take it.
- Level 60: Soul of the Forest, but fight-dependent. SOTF is a good general recommendation while you’re learning the class; it’s never bad, but doesn’t have the upside of the other two talents. Incarnation is excellent for bosses with soft enrages or other “kill it now” mechanics, but it’s easy to waste some of the buff accidentally. Force of Nature is a good middle ground, decent burst DPS, but you have to remember to use a treant every 20 seconds and dump all charges when a trinket procs. Not a huge fan.
- Level 75: Mighty Bash. More situational talents. Ursol’s Vortex is pretty nice but hard to use, Incapacitating Roar is pretty meh. I’ll take the 5 second stun in any form, thanks.
- Level 90: Dream of Cenarius. Keeping Rejuvenation rolling on the tank + you is a great use of downtime, enough so that it’s finally pried me away from my beloved HOTW. Of course, take HOTW if you have a plan for it, or just do 5-mans a lot and want to cover your bases. Nature’s Vigil is okay, but 90 seconds is a tricky duration for a minor raid-healing cooldown; not strong enough to save for certain situations, not frequent enough to just use on CD.
- Level 100: Claws of Shirvallah, but very fight-dependent. Tough call here. Like SOTF, Claws of Shirvallah has a solid passive (5% Versatility) which is always helpful. Unlike SOTF, however, LI and BT are both very strong choices with limited downsides. Lunar Inspiration requires multiple targets to truly shine. Bloodtalons is the best DPS talent, but requires some practice to learn. In general, I’d recommend CoS when learning a fight for the increased survivability + easier rotation, then switch to one of the other two for a kill.
For a broader discussion, see the Druid Talents page. (not yet updated for 6.0)
You effectively have two A/B choices for your first two slots.
- Glyph of Savage Roar – Grants a free 5 CP Savage Roar when leaving Prowl OR
Glyph of Savagery – Grants permanent Savage Roar at 75% effectiveness. (I hate the tooltip wording; it says effectiveness reduced by 10%, which doesn’t sound bad, but it means from a 40% buff to a 30% buff.) For questing or just learning how to play, Savagery is fine, but you’ll want to eventually switch to GoSR for maximum DPS when raiding.
- Glyph of Cat Form – Increases healing received by 20% OR
Glyph of the Ninth Life – Reduces damage taken by 10%. Either is good, with the Cat Form glyph being better unless you’re dying to a sudden damage spike mechanic.
Good 3rd slot choices:
- Glyph of Dash – Reduces the cooldown of your Dash ability by 60 sec. Handy for utility, probably the best general 3rd slot choice.
- Glyph of Ferocious Bite Your Ferocious Bite ability heals you for 1.5% of your maximum health for each 10 Energy used. Another decent choice for the 3rd slot.
- Glyph of Rake Increases the range of your Rake by 8 yards while Prowl is active. Designed for PvP, but since Incarnation Rakes trigger like you’re in Prowl, somewhat useful in PvE.
- Glyph of Stampeding Roar Increases the radius of Stampeding Roar by 30 yards. If you’re using SR for your group for a specific fight, this is basically mandatory to make sure you catch everyone.
- Glyph of Survival Instincts Reduces the cooldown of Survival Instincts by 60 sec, but reduces its duration by 50%. Of course, this glyph will be encounter-dependent, but for fights where you don’t have a preplanned use for SI, I think I prefer this version of the ability.
Other glyphs of questionable value:
- Glyph of Rebirth Players resurrected by Rebirth return to life with 100% health. This used to be mandatory; now that Rebirth returns a player to 60% health instead of 20%, it’s not needed anymore.
- Glyph of Faerie Fire Increases the range of your Faerie Fire by 10 yards. For PvP only, now that FF no longer applies an armor debuff.
- Glyph of Maim Increases the damage done by Maim by 100%. PvP glyph. IMO, not that useful since you already have two stuns (Mighty Bash and Rake from Prowl).
- Glyph of Cyclone Increases the range of your Cyclone spell by 5 yards. For PvP. Meh.
- Glyph of Entangling Roots Reduces the cast time of your Entangling Roots by 0.5 sec. For PvP. Okay with CoS.
- Glyph of Skull Bash Increases the duration of your Skull Bash interrupt by 4 sec, but increases the cooldown by 10 sec. For PvP. I generally wouldn’t recommend this, except for very specific situations.
Agility and Weapon DPS are the two most important stats in terms of calculating DPS, so upgrading weapons is the fastest way to increase damage output. In terms of secondary stats, a detailed discussion is better suited for an advanced guide; suffice to say that crit beats all, with multistrike close behind. Versatility and mastery are okay, with mastery becoming much better on multitarget fights with more Rakes. Haste is the worst of the lot. That said, all the stats are still close enough in value that it’s not a significant issue if you end up with lots of haste gear. See aggixx’s forum guide for more.
Here’s all the recommended enchants at level 90. (In case you missed it, professions no longer have combat bonuses, so I’ve dropped those from the table.) At level 100, enchanting has been simplified dramatically, with an “expensive” and “cheap” option for each slot. Note that all pre-WoD enchants cannot be applied to WoD gear (anything above ilvl 600).
|Shoulders||Greater Tiger Claw Inscription|
|Waist||Living Steel Buckle (gem socket)|
|Legs||Shadowleather Leg Armor|
|Hands||Superior Mastery, or Greater Haste|
|Back||Superior Critical Strike or Accuracy|
|Main Hand||Dancing Steel|
|Neck (Amulet)||Gift of Critical Strike or Breath of Critical Strike|
|Fingers (Rings)||Gift of Critical Strike or Breath of Critical Strike|
|Back (Cloak)||Gift of Critical Strike or Breath of Critical Strike|
|Main Hand (Weapon)||Mark of the Thunderlord or Mark of the Shattered Hand|
Gemming is vastly simplified in Warlords. There are no meta sockets/gems, no socket bonuses, and many fewer sockets to be found in gear.
- Meta: Capacitive Primal Diamond or Agile Primal Diamond.
- Red Sockets: Deadly Vermilion Onyx or Crafty Vermilion Onyx.
- Blue Sockets: Rigid River’s Heart, Glinting Imperial Amethyst or Accurate Imperial Amethyst.
- Yellow Sockets: Smooth Sun’s Radiance, Deadly Vermilion Onyx, or Crafty Vermilion Onyx.
Consumables work almost exactly the same in Warlords as they did in Pandaria. One thing to note, however: the better foods are MUCH better then the cheaper equivalents, which is a change from Mists where there wasn’t much benefit to the best foods.
- Best Food: Sea Mist Rice Noodles, Seasoned Pomfruit Slices, Pandaren Treasure Noodle Soup
- Better Food: Valley Stir Fry, Pandaren Banquet/Great Pandaren Banquet, Banquet of the Wok, Deluxe Noodle Soup
- Okay Food: Sauteed Carrots, Non-Wok Banquets, Noodle Soup
- Flask: Flask of Spring Blossoms
- Potion: Virmen’s Bite
- Best Food: Savage Feast
- Better Food: Blackrock Barbecue
- Okay Food: Blackrock Ham, Feast of the Waters, Feast of Blood
- Best Flask: Greater Draenic Agility Flask
- Okay Flask: Draenic Agility Flask
- Potion: Draenic Agility Potion
Wowhead’s Feral Guide is written by Tinderhoof, my better-looking feral twin.
Aggixx/Pawkets’ Feral Raiding Guide is the go-to for everything about feral raiding, so of course, it’s hosted on my forums. Go read; he knows stuff that I’ll figure out a few months from now. “Hey guise check out this snapshotting thing! /facepalm”
The Fluid Druid Forums – I may be biased, but 5/5 ferals agree with me that the best place for advanced feral discussion is here.
MMO-Champion Druid Forums – Very crowded, so you have to wade through a lot, but generally has good info.
Ovale – A move recommendation addon that will display what ability you should use now/next for optimum DPS. HIGHLY recommended until you’ve learned the rotation backwards and forwards. The default script that comes with it is pretty basic: you’ll want to grab an updated script from my forums. Not ready yet for 6.0, but being worked on.
Vuhdo – While discussing raid-frame addons is beyond the scope of this guide, I like Vuhdo because it has built-in support for battle rezzes. If someone dies, their bar will go dark; just click it to immediately Rebirth them. Also lets you spread around HT’s on PS procs if you choose. Works in 6.0.
SimulationCraft – Currently the best supported tool for DPS modeling. Replicates game mechanics and uses a scripting system to allow user-customizable scripts to test various DPS options. The feral script is maintained by aggixx, who is a frequent poster on our forums. Works in 6.0.
Catus – A complete Feral simulator, modeling tool, more. Extremely powerful. Not ready yet for 6.0, but being worked on.
Well, that wraps up the guide! If there’s anything specific you’d like me to add, discuss, just think I got wrong, just drop me a note and let me know!