Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Feral Cat Raiding Spec

EDIT: This post is now updated to reflect changes in patch 3.3.3!

The following is my raid talent build for Cat. "Raid" being the key word here. In this build I pass over abilities that are nice during solo or PvP play and focus strictly on what's useful for raiding. This is also not meant to be a hybrid build of any kind. It's optimized strictly for raiding as a Cat. (I'll post up a hypothetical hybrid build at some point.)

I'll try and explain why I picked the talents I did. In the Feral tree I'll also explain why I passed on the talents that got no points.

Balance - 0 points
There's just nothing in there that's useful for cats. Maybe if Genesis affected our bleeds...but, alas, no.

Restoration - 16 points
Furor - 3/5
As of 3.0, Cat Energy regenerates at the normal rate regardless of what form the Druid is in. For each point in Furor, we will have up to 20 of that Energy ready to use the moment we shift into Cat form. All 5 points would equal 100 (full) energy. But in PvE there's not a whole lot of shifting going on, especially in a build optimized for one role/form. It helps when resuming DPS after having tossed out an Innervate or a Battle Res, but if there was somewhere else to (reasonably) put points to get down to the next tier, I'd spend even less here.

Improved Mark of the Wild - 2/2
The other 2 points to get past the first tier of the Resto tree. Easy buff to our buff and a stat increase to boot.

Naturalist - 5/5
Since all Cat damage is physical, this is a straight up 10% DPS increase. No brainer.

Natural Shapeshifter - 3/3
Really a useless PvE talent, but it's required for getting Master Shapeshifter (below).

Omen of Clarity - 1/1
Basically amounts to a free attack every time it procs. From the information I can find, this has about a 6% proc chance off your auto-attacks, or 3.5 procs per minute (on average). That's a significant DPS boost.

Master Shapeshifter - 2/2
With the bleed damage from Rip (and Rake, if you have have your 4-piece T10 bonus) now being able to crit, this is a pretty amazing talent.

Feral - 55 points
Ferocity - 5/5
Any talent that reduces the energy cost of any of your abilities should be picked up. For cats this affects Rake and Mangle, which will free up 10 Energy per attack rotation (on average). That's a full second of Energy regen!

Feral Aggression - 2/5 4/5
This is one of the iffy talents. It's a direct DPS increase, even if the increase is on an ability (Ferocious Bite) that doesn't make it into most rotations very frequently. If you're looking to max out your single-target DPS (i.e. bosses) you should put 5/5 here, though. I have 2 to get the needed points to hit the 4th tier. I've noticed (especially in 25 mans) that I end up using FB quite a bit anymore. I chose to move two of the points formerly in Improved Mangle up to here.

Feral Instinct - 3/3
Until cats got their own Swipe ability, this was a solo/PvP talent. Now it's much nicer. On most trash pulls you can open with two Swipes right from the start then hit Tiger's Fury and get two more plus (maybe) an OoC proc, dishing out a significant amount of damage. The Berserk + Swipe spam is also insanely fun, but will usually kill you. :-)

This is great for Heroics and large, weak trash packs like we used to see in Naxx (which is when I made this build). If I ended up going Cat more often in higher tier raids (ToC, ICC), then I'd probably move these points up to fill out Feral Aggression.

Savage Fury - 2/2
Again, a straight up DPS increase. Rake and Mangle will be seeing heavy use in your rotations.

Thick Hide - 0/3
You should never be taking sustained physical damage in a raid. 'Nuff said.

Feral Swiftness - 0/2
Again, nothing in a raid should be trying to hit you, so there should be no reason to need to dodge things.

Survival Instincts - 0/1
This is more of an emergency (tank) button than a raiding Cat necessity. If you ever need to hit this as a cat, it's probably too late anyway.

Sharpened Claws - 3/3
6% increased crit? Yes, please. Even if this talent wasn't necessary for two more very good ones, I'd be filling this out. Good Cat DPS is heavily reliant on crits.

Shredding Attacks - 2/2
Shred will (likely) be used more than any other single combat ability you have. Reducing its Energy cost by 18 is very important to keeping your DPS high.

Predatory Strikes - 3/3
Straight up DPS increase.

Primal Fury - 2/2
Free combo points on crits. Which you should have a lot of.

Primal Precision - 2/2
Once you start loading up on the iLvl 226+ gear you'd have to actively try to get below the finisher hit cap, but the energy return on misses is still very nice for the starting raider. Above and beyond that, though, the 10 Expertise this talent gives lowers the Expertise Rating you need to collect on gear/gems from 214 to 132 to make raid bosses unable to dodge your attacks. If your gear takes you far enough over that cap, you can shift one or both of these points elsewhere.

Brutal Impact - 0/2
You should never be Pouncing in a raid.

Feral Charge - 1/1
Not a key ability, but useful for getting into combat faster and for quicker switching between targets in multi-target fights. This roughly equates to more DPS.

Nurturing Instinct - 0/2
This is mostly a PvP talent, but if you find you're dying a lot to AoE or random-target damage, you can move some points here until you gear up a little better. It may hurt your DPS some, but a dead cat does no damage.

Natural Reaction - 0/3
This talent has no affect on cats.

Heart of the Wild - 5/5
10% AP increase.

Survival of the Fittest - 3/3
The only useful part of this for cats is the 6% increase to all stats. But that's still very, very useful.

Leader of the Pack - 1/1
Gives everyone near you a 5% bonus to crit. Including you.

Improved Leader of the Pack - 2/2
This is a utility talent that will not have any effect on your DPS, but if (like me) you're the only Feral in most of your raids, you should invest points here. If another Feral in your raids has this covered, feel free to move these points elsewhere.

Primal Tenacity - 0/3
This is primarily a PvP talent. Not really worth spending points in a raiding build.

Protector of the Pack - 0/3
The tooltip on this is somewhat ambiguous due to bad use of grammar, but PotP has no affect on cats. Both the AP bump and damage reduction apply only to bears.

Predatory Instincts - 3/3
+10% damage on all crits is the big deal here, but the reduced AoE damage helps the healers focus a lot less attention on you.

Infected Wounds - 2/3 3/3
Again, this is a utility talent that won't matter to your DPS numbers, but I have a really hard time not putting points here. At full 3/3, your target's attack speed is reduced by 20%, which means your tank is taking (roughly) 20% less damage while this debuff is active. That's So helpful. At least one Feral in your raids should have points here. If another one has this covered, feel free to move these around. I used one point from Improved Mangle to top this talent off.

King of the Jungle - 3/3
This is Blizz's attempt to make Tiger's Fury not be a useless (actually, wasteful) ability like it was in TBC. They succeeded. 60 free energy every 30 seconds.

Mangle - 1/1
Absolutely required. No questions asked.

Improved Mangle - 3/3 0/3
As already stated, any talent that reduces the Energy cost of your attacks is a must have. When 3.3.3 came along and buffed the duration of the Mangle debuff to a full minute, this became a virtually useless talent. We just don't mangle very often anymore. It's still good if you PvP a lot, as you'll be Mangling far more often than you Shred. But of PvE, it's gone the way of the dodo.

Rend and Tear - 5/5
The 20% bonus to Shred attacks (the single most common attack you'll use) was nice before. The crit chance increase on Ferocious Bite was not too bad either. But now 5 points are required in this talent to unlock the MacDaddy of cat talens...

Primal Gore - 1/1
Rip already does a huge percentage of Cat damage in good rotations. With this...oh my. Watch your spot on the meters, rogues. (And if you can get the 4-piece T10 bonus, well...the thought makes me tingle.)

Berserk - 1/1
Your once-every-three-minutes omgdps ability. When your raid leader says "Blow your cooldowns," this is what you should be doing.

Optional Moves:
There are 12 points in this build that I consider "optional." Removing some will lower your DPS, though mostly situationally, others will have you lose a little bit of utility, but nothing that can't be overcome.
The 15 points are those spent in the following talents:
Feral Aggression (4/5) (if you rarely use FB)
Feral Instinct (3) (if you need less AoE abilities)
Primal Precision (2) (if you pass the Expertise caps with gear)
Feral Charge (1) (if you never use it)
Improved Leader of the Pack (2) (if another Feral in your raids has this)
Infected Wounds (3/3) (if another Feral in your raids has this)

The points then could be shifted around to some other areas:
Feral Aggression (1/5) (if you want higher single-target DPS)
Feral Swiftness (2) (mostly for running around during solo play, but good on high-movement boss fights, too)
Survival Instincts (1) (if you're having survivability issues and want an emergency button)
Nurturing Instinct (2) (if you're having survivability issues)


  1. Awesome guide! Looks like I'm going to be tweaking my spec a bit (I thought infected wounds was only a bear thing, silly me.)

  2. Improved mangle is pretty useless as a raiding cat, especially if you have an Arms warrior or a Feral tank keeping the mangle debuff up. Even if this isn't the case, the 6 energy that you save every 16 seconds to keep the mangle debuff up isn't worth the 3 talent points. I'd rather spend those points in Feral Swiftness and Survival Instincts. Feral Swiftness helps a ton in high mobility fights such as Putricide, Marrowgar, Blood Princes, just to name a few from ICC, and Survival Instincts is a good "Oh Shit Fire" button that you can push. I even use it sometimes to stand in the fire just a little longer to get a Rip off, a la Lady Deathwhisper's Death and Decay.

    Just saying, Improved Mangle is hardly a necessary talent.

  3. @Anon

    Good points all around. Sadly, our guild lacks regular raiding Warriors of any spec (the ones we do have are all Prot) and we have one other Feral besides me when we have our full 25-man team and everyone is on their mains. That other Feral is rarely in our 10-man runs. So Mangle is pretty big in my rotations.

  4. Thank you thank you! I had speced more for leveling, and now that I'm mainly dungeoning, I was in dire need of a spec reorganization. This was an excellent guide and increased my DPS by a ton! The explanations meant a lot.

  5. Glad I could help!

    Enjoy it for the next two weeks before it all becomes irrelevant with the new patch. ;-)

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