Hey, I’m Chase Hasbrouck (aka Alaron) from WoW Insider. Welcome to my full PvE Feral Druid guide! This page will teach you everything you need to know about playing a feral druid for Mists of Pandaria. Read, enjoy, and if you find it helpful, feel free to hit the donate button in the sidebar. Let’s begin!
Guide Status: Updated for 5.2.
Not much for feral PvE players. Many talents were tweaked, but not ones that ferals were typically using anyway. Cenarion Ward’s effect was doubled, so that’s an effective option to HT+NS now. Nature’s Vigil was halved in duration and cooldown, which means it no longer syncs well with Incarnation, and Cyclone got a cooldown. On the bright side, MOTW and Revive’s mana cost was drastically cut, so no more spec-switching and needing to drink before you can buff/rez, which is nice. Oh, and before I forget, Rip got a slight damage buff; that shouldn’t affect rotations much, but if it does I’ll update the guide. Really, the only big change is from the Rune of Re-Origination, but I’m still working out how that changes stuff (and most people won’t be getting that for a few weeks, anyway).
Obviously, gear did change a fair bit, and I’ve written another 3500+ words talking about gear and stat weights. Go here for that.
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, much more bleeding.
Our primary resource is energy. It’s contained in a pool that regenerates at 10 energy/second, which can be increased with haste, and has a maximum capacity of 100. The majority of our abilities use this energy to generate damage. Now, if that was all we had, things would be boring, but we have a secondary resource: combo points.
These combo points serve to create an ability rotation that is wave-like in nature. Many of our damage abilities will generate a combo point (or two) on a target. These combo points will stack 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. Now, both of our primary finishers (Rip and Savage Roar) have relatively short timers, so doing good DPS revolves around keeping those two abilities up as much as possible, while using as many of our other abilities as we can.
- Speed. With Feline Swiftness, 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-sufficiency. We have two damage-reduction cooldowns and multiple self-healing abilities; 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. A HOTW-boosted Tranquility is an exceptionally powerful cooldown.
- Complicated rotation. Feral is easy to learn, but hard to master. Unlike a, say, windwalker monk who gets all of his damage from direct abilities, 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.
- Target switching. Once all our abilities are up, we can dish out pain like no one else, but it can take a while to get there. Unlike a rogue/warlock, we have no built-in way to “transfer” effects or combo points from one target to another, so we suffer in this area. (There’s always Symbiosis…but I’ll talk about that later.)
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 thy should be). Your primary direct-damage ability, but it only works from behind, so paying attention is key; it’s far too easy to miss the error message that your attacks aren’t hitting. If you are stuck attacking frontally (certain fights, no tank, etc.) sub in Mangle instead. (For experienced ferals, note that Mangle no longer has a bleed debuff.)|
|Rake||35 energy. A damage-over-time ability that hits (or “ticks”) six 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.|
|Savage Roar||25 energy. Finishing move that provides a 30% 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. Note the glyph, which allows you to use it with 0 combo points for a 12 sec duration.|
|Rip||30 energy. Finishing move that ticks 8 times over 16 seconds; damage is based on number of combo points used. If Rip is on the target, the next three Shreds (or Mangle/Ravage) will add 2 seconds and an additional tick. 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.) You can use this if you’re finishing something off, but you won’t use it too much in groups above 25% health; you won’t have the energy or combo points to spare.|
|Tiger’s Fury||30 sec CD, immediately generates 60 energy and increases damage done by 15% for 6 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 30 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. Note that Tiger’s Fury is locked out while Berserk is active; to best combine the two, pop TF and then immediately Berserk.|
|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 effectively 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 (by swapping Ravage for Shred). Force of Nature is the old balance treants on a 1m CD that also stun your target. Overall, SOTF is the best choice, though certain fights may demand one of the other options.|
|Heart of the Wild / Dream of Cenarius / Nature’s Vigil||You get ONE of these as your level 90 talent choice. Heart of the Wild is a passive bonus that also adds the ability to do off-role stuff temporarily. Dream of Cenarius completely changes up your rotation by asking you to weave in healing casts to buff your damage abilities; Nature’s Vigil is another burst damage cooldown that also adds some splash healing. Overall, Dream of Cenarius has the best theoretical DPS, but the DoC rotation is very difficult to use optimally, so I generally recommend Heart of the Wild.|
|Swipe||45 energy, basic area-of-effect (AoE) attack. Also generates combo points, so you can swap in Swipes for Shreds when you have a primary target and a few extras running around (known as a “cleave” effect).|
|Thrash||50 energy, AoE damage-over-time ability that ticks 6 times over 15 seconds. If a pack of enemies will last for a while, you want to Thrash them first then Swipe away.|
That’s it! Master those 10, and you’ll know 90% of what you need to do.
Other notable abilities:
|Faerie Fire||This ranged ability does no damage, but applies the Weakened Armor effect, which is critically important for damage in a group. (Note that the Faerie Fire effect which prevents stealth is what lasts 5 minutes; Weakened Armor only lasts 30 seconds.) You’ll have plenty of free GCD’s while waiting for energy to refresh, so get used to refreshing it when you can.|
|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. (You can only use 1 brez per fight, or 3 brez’s in a 25-man group; don’t bother trying to save the second/fourth person who dies.)|
|Barkskin||60 sec CD. A 20% damage reduction ability, lasts for 12 seconds. Not going to save you if things are really intense, but has saved my furry butt in “oops” moments tons of times. For beginners, you may want to just macro it to Tiger’s Fury so you don’t forget to use it; not really worth saving except in specific situations.|
|Survival Instincts||3 minute CD. A 50% damage reduction ability, lasts for 12 seconds. Unlike Barkskin, this WILL save you if things are intense, so keep it handy.|
|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.|
|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.|
|Tranquility||8 minute CD. This mega-group heal is channeled (meaning you can’t do anything else while you’re using this) but it WILL save your party in a pinch. Best used with Heart of the Wild and a macro to swap in an intellect weapon.|
|Mark of the Wild||It’s a buff! Gives 5% to primary stats for you and your group.|
|Symbiosis||This ability grants you and your friend a new ability. You get a copy of one of his, he gets a copy of one of yours. Depending on the situation, this can either be vastly powerful or completely useless. See later in the guide for more on this.|
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.
- 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.
- 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 (Nature’s Vigil, Incarnation, Force of Nature) use on cooldown.
- 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.
- Thrash on an Omen of Clarity proc. (Yes, Thrash is an AoE ability, but it’s our hardest-hitting single-target as well. Feel free to leave this out while learning the rotation, it’s only a small DPS gain.)
- Shred to extend a Rip, if you haven’t used three yet.
- Rip, if you have 5 CP’s and it’s down.
- Savage Roar if you have 5 CP’s and the SR/Rip timers will expire within 4 seconds of each other. (This is called a “desync” and is an advanced tactic.)
- Rake, if it’s down.
- Shred (or Ravage during Incarnation) filler.
If that looks too complicated, short version: use all your cooldowns (TF/Berserk/talents) as frequently as possible, keep Savage Roar and Rake up at all times, spend extra energy on Shreds, Omen procs on Thrash, spend extra CP’s on Rip.
Overall, your damage breakdowns will look something like this in a static fight, not that there’s many of those.
- 25% Rip
- 25% Rake
- 20% melee
- 30% Shred/Mangle/Ravage/Thrash/Fero Bite
Cast a Healing Touch prefight to get your bonus up. Cast an instant HT using Nature’s Swiftness (when available) or Predatory Swiftness, but only if you have 4+ combo points. This will let you DoC-empower most Rips. Other than that, same as the normal rotation. Definitely go check out the forums for more details.
HOTW + Hurricane does absolutely ridiculous AoE DPS for 4+ targets; of course, you only get that for 45 seconds every six minutes. Use that if/when you can. For regular feral:
- Cleave situations (1 high-health target plus lower-health adds): Sub Swipe for Shred.
- 2-3 target AoE: Single-target rotation on one with subbing Swipe for Shred; once Rip/Rake is up, switch to other target and repeat. Thrash on OOC as usual.
- 4+ target AoE: Keep Thrash up full-time; stop raking (swipe more).
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. Displacer Beast is beyond terrible. Feline Swiftness is a great passive but Wild Charge is amazing for short bursts of movement. Either one’s a good choice.
- Level 30: Any. Nature’s Swiftness gives you an on-demand instant heal/rez, similar to Predatory Swiftness. (if you have PS up and use NS, the next cast will consume both buffs- beware!) 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. Note that going with DoC at level 90 pretty much forces you to take NS.
- 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. If the upcoming fight has a specific burst requirement, pick up Incarnation (for long, widely spaced burst) or Force of Nature (for shorter, smaller burst). Otherwise, stick with SOTF, which is the highest DPS talent.
- Level 75: Mighty Bash. More situational talents. Ursol’s Vortex is pretty nice but hard to use, Disorienting Roar is pretty meh. I’ll take the 5 second stun in any form, thanks.
- Level 90: Heart of the Wild. Dream of Cenarius provides the highest DPS but makes the rotation more complicated. By all means, try it, but it’s only about a 5% boost if used perfectly over HOTW. In general, I recommend sticking with HOTW for the added utility. Nature’s Vigil isn’t really worth it; it’s equivalent to HotW in terms of damage benefit, but only if it’s used optimally (i.e. with every Berserk). That typically won’t line up with when your raid needs healing.
For a broader discussion, see the Druid Talents page.
Glyphs are much less important than they used to be for most classes; however, the Glyph of Cat Form and the Glyph of Savagery are pretty much chalk, with the last choice being more situational. I think Survival Instincts or Shred would be my pick.
- Glyph of Cat Form – Increases healing received by 20%. Absolutely essential, and the one exception to the general rule that glyphs are not mandatory. If you’re in Cat for any significant length of time, you need this glyph. No exceptions.
- Glyph of Savagery – Savage Roar can now be used with 0 combo points, resulting in a 12 sec duration. Mandatory for feral raiders, now that SR is more important than it used to be.
- 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.
- Glyph of Shred While Berserk or Tiger’s Fury is active, Shred has no positional requirement. Has definite upsides and downsides for PvE. Downside: Shredding from the front (as opposed to moving behind the enemy first) means the target gets a chance to parry. Upside: After Berserk/TF, you’re likely very close to energy cap anyway, so it’s less bad to Shred from the front than lose some energy.
- Glyph of Dash – Reduces the cooldown of your Dash ability by 60 sec. Handy for utility.
- 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. Good for applying FF with a bit more flexibility.
- Glyph of Ferocious Bite – Your Ferocious Bite ability heals you for 1% of your maximum health for each 10 Energy used. Not recommended, at least for the first tier. You won’t be biting all that often.
- Glyph of Might of Ursoc Increases the health gain from Might of Ursoc by 20%, but increases the cooldown by 2 min. Situational, but nice. If you need to survive one BIG spike, take this.
- Glyph of Prowl Reduces the movement speed penalty of Prowl by 100%. Handy, but pretty situational; cats don’t have a big stealth toolbox.
- Glyph of Skull Bash Increases the duration of your Skull Bash interrupt by 4 sec, but increases the cooldown by 10 sec. I generally wouldn’t recommend this, except for very specific situations.
For the full list of glyphs (including the cosmetic minor glyphs), see the Druid Glyphs page.
Gear, Stat Weights and Reforging
I’ve compiled a 3500+ word post with a listing of gear/advice, so instead of me repeating myself, just go check that out. Newly updated for 5.2.
Here’s all the recommended enchants: I’ll try to go back and add in others if options present themselves. Having two crafting professions remains the best choice for optimum DPS. Not mentioned in the table is Alchemy (+320 agi from Mixology) and Jewelcrafting (2 gems that give +160 agi over their rare equivalents). Herbalism (2880 haste on-use ability) and Skinning (480 crit) bonuses are half as effective as those from the crafting professions; Mining (480 stamina) just helps you stay alive a bit longer.
|Shoulders||Greater Tiger Claw Inscription (200 agi, 100 crit)
Inscription: Secret Tiger Claw Inscription (520 agi, 100 crit)
|Chest||Glorious Stats (80 all primary stats)|
|Waist||Living Steel Buckle (gem socket)|
|Legs||Shadowleather Leg Armor (285 agi, 165 crit)
Leatherworking: Primal Leg Reinforcements (cheap version)
|Feet||Blurred Speed (140 agi, +8% movespeed)|
|Wrists||Greater Agility (170 agi)
Blacksmithing: Socket Bracer (gem socket, stacks with enchant)
Leatherworking: Fur Lining – Agility
|Hands||Superior Mastery (170 mastery), Superior Expertise (170 exp) or Greater Haste (170 haste)
Blacksmithing: Socket Gloves (gem socket, stacks with enchant)
Engineering: Synapse Springs (1920 agi proc, stacks with enchant)
|Fingers||Enchanting: Greater Agility (160 agi) x2|
|Back||Superior Critical Strike (180 crit) or Accuracy (180 hit)
Tailoring: Swordguard Embroidery (4000 AP proc)
|Main Hand||Dancing Steel (1650 agi proc)|
In order to make non-primary stat gems more compelling, Mists doubled the amount of secondary stats provided by gems. Unfortunately, this doesn’t really matter for feral, since agility is still better than any other stat. I’ve got a list of recommendations below, but you’ll want to gem for max agility UNLESS there’s an agility socket bonus you can pick up by matching colors. Epic gems are in the wowhead database, but I’m holding off on those for right now. Of course, if you’re a Jewelcrafter, use your supergems first.
- Meta: Agile Primal Diamond.
- Red: Delicate Primordial Ruby/Perfect Delicate Pandarian Garnet, 160 agi.
- Purple (blue sockets): Glinting Imperial Amethyst/Perfect Glinting Roguestone, 80 agi/160 hit, or another agi/x gem if hitcapped.
- Orange (yellow sockets): Adept Vermilion Onyx/Perfect Adept Tiger Opal, 80 agi/160 mastery.
Consumables basically work the same as they did in Cataclysm, with one major difference: there are now three tiers of food, instead of two. The best tier (+300 agi) is individual foods; the bottom two tiers (275 and 250) have individual foods or feasts, now known as “banquets.” The Pandaren Banquets/Great Pandaren Banquets are for 10m/25m respectively, and offer 275 to all. There are several other banquets, one for each cooking sub-specialization (Grill, Oven, Pot, Steamer, Wok, Brew). All of those provide 250 agi, except for Wok, which also provides 275 agi. Be prepared to level Cooking or spend heavily on the AH. Flasks and Potions work the same way they did in Cataclysm.
- 300 agi: Sea Mist Rice Noodles
- 275 agi: Valley Stir Fry, Chao Cookies, Pandaren Banquet/Great Pandaren Banquet, Banquet of the Wok
- 250 agi: Sauteed Carrots
- Flask: Flask of Spring Blossoms
- Potion: Virmen’s Bite
I’ve got a full page listing all the abilities you get/give from symbiosis, so check that out first. There’s very few pairings where both parties benefit equally, so you’ll essentially be choosing whether to buff your personal DPS or buff your raid in some way.
- Personal DPS: Symbiosis with a warlock for Soul Swap or a rogue for Redirect. Essential for target-swap fights. Getting Divine Shield (paladin) or Dispersion (priest) may allow you to ignore certain boss mechanics. If nothing else, Symbiosis a shaman to get Feral Spirits, which do a tiny amount of damage.
- Raid DPS: Symbiosis a warrior and get Shattering Blow. Probably only a DPS gain in 25’s.
- Raid HPS: Symbiosis a shadow priest to give them Tranquility.
- Tank Survivability: Symbiosis any tank to give them a useful damage-reduction cooldown.
- Other: Symbiosis a rogue to give them mega-Growl which lets them tank temporarily.
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.
Droodfocus – A feral tracking addon; tracks buffs, debuffs, energy, combo points, ability cooldowns, just about everything. Very customizable.
Badkitty – An alternative to Droodfocus that does similar things; try both and see what you like.
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.
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.
Rawr – Much more newbie-friendly than SimulationCraft, this has a paperdoll UI and is great for planning gear upgrades and gemming/reforging strategies. Hinalover is updating it for Mists.
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!