Monday, October 4, 2010

Feral Builds: 4.01

Is it safe? Can I make a post like this now without it being obsolete in 3 days? Can I flex my mental muscles for more purpose than that of just flexing them? Let's try.

Patch 4.01 is coming up on us quickly. How quickly? A week, I believe. October 12. That seems likely, with a Release Candidate build only just released to the PTR a day ago.

Of all the things coming with the patch, the biggest is arguably the newly re-designed talent trees. Months (years, really) of work obsessing over current builds and squeezing every last bit of performance out of them is gone. Out the window. And now we're starting from scratch.

The patch puts us in an interesting place, though. We have all these new trees and skills. All our mechanics are changing to fall in line with the Cataclysm ideals. But we're still 2 months away from Cataclysm. We have to work all these class changes into a current game.

So let's play. Let's take a look at the talent trees and see what we might want to do with them for the two months before we start making the journey to 85.

Again, big caveat here. These are level 80 builds geared toward current content. These are not necessarily indicative of any decisions that will be made while leveling during Cataclysm or running in Cataclysm end-game content.

Also, I have not gone onto the PTR at all to actually test any of this. I haven't had the time or, honestly, the desire. (Largely because I'm trying to avoid spoilers of the in-game events leading to the Cataclysm.) I may very well have to revise these builds after playing with them in-game for a while.

As with all my build posts (to date) the intention here is to make the best possible build for raiding, even at the expense of dungeon- or solo-play.

Bear Build, Level 80, 4.01:


Bears are at an interesting place in 4.01. A couple of talents I would hardly consider taking under normal circumstances become somewhat delicious when combined with our 4pc T10 bonus.

Five points is a lot, though. Especially now that we only get 36 to work with at level 80. Will I get a big enough payout from these to make it worth it? I don't know. But it looks fun and I want to try.

Outside of those 5 points, the build is pretty basic. With Predatory Strikes, Nuturing Instinct, and Blood in the Water providing no tangible benefit to Bears, they're out.

Brutal Impact is looking really juicy. I'm salivating over the prospect of having my very own, reliable interrupt on a short cooldown. Once I lose my tier set, this is the first place I'm sticking some extra points. But for now, I've been getting by just fine without this and I can wait a little longer.

The same general logic went into going only 1/2 in Stampede.

As for Feral Aggression, it doesn't seem highly necessary for Bears just now. F3 is already a pretty regular part of our rotations. I don't think we're going to have a problem routinely stacking it to a full 3 applications (which is a new mechanic for this spell) and maintaining that stack in current content.

Now, if you don't have your 4pc T10 bonus, I would recommend taking the 5 points out of KotJ and PM and using them to fill out the 5 points I just mentioned above.

Cat Build, Level 80, 4.01:


Yeah, 33/3 seems to be the magic combo for Ferals at 80 in 4.01.

Just like the strict bear build, a strict cat build has 3 talents that can be all but ignored: Thick Hide, Natural Reaction, and Pulverize.

After that, though, things get tricky. Cat builds have a lot of possibility crammed into them, and we don't have benefit that Bears do in that their gear (via the set bonus) can very heavily influence the decisions we make with all the possibility.

The hardest part of this build (and this is going to sound so odd) was keeping points out of Nuturing Instinct. Wrath (ICC, specifically) has a lot of unavoidable damage flying around and I get the sense from several of the healing blogs I follow that healers are going to be facing the biggest change in play style out of all the roles. They're not going to be able to do the kind of spam healing they (and we) have grown somewhat accustomed to. So it feels like a couple points here would be hugely beneficial in current content. But I just don't know.

If my healers come to me and say, "San, getting a 20% boost to every heal we throw your way would help us a ton with keeping our mana reserves up," then I will happily take the 2 points I have in Feral Swiftness and put them here. But I don't want to make unnecessary assumptions about my healers and their ability to do their job.

My not putting any points into Brutal Impact follows the same logic as with my Bear build: I'm drooling over it, but I think I can wait 2 more months to have it. Current content just doesn't rely on us having those interrupts readily available.

Now you might be saying, "But Saniel. What about Master Shapeshifter? Why didn't you grab that?" And that's a legitimate question. 4% crit for 3 talent points is a pretty good trade-off. Especially given how crit reliant Cats can be. But here's what it comes down to: we just don't have enough talent points right now to do it.

Under the new mechanics we need a minimum of 31 points in the Feral tree before we even get access to the others. At level 80, that leaves 5 more points to spend. We need a total of 6 to pick up Master Shapeshifter (5 to unlock the second tier of talents, and the 6th to get it).

I have a feeling this is a very intentional design decision by Blizzard. They don't want us getting access to that talent again until Cataclysm. I don't know why, but that's moot point and I'm not going to speculate. Just rest assured that if we could get this talent in 4.01, I would.


  1. I've tried the new bear tanking on the's interesting to say the least. The tanking model seems like a return to crowd control and precise pulling. With a 6 second cooldown on Swipe and a rage throttle on Maul, our AOE tanking abilities (like the other tanking classes) seems to be history. I won't be totally comfortable until level 81 when I get Thrash, and even then it won't be the swipefest of yore. Pulverize is disappointing, to say the least. Skull bash is everything and more. Of the 4 classes and 8 specs I play, I'm looking forward to feral tanking the most. Thanks for the post!

  2. Talents are currently the least of my worries at the moment. When the new patch drops, my guild--which is still actively raiding ICC and RS content and progressing--will be thrown into disarray with people having to learn their class all over again. Granted this will give some people a new breath of gameplay, but I'm really worried about backwards progression after that. The whole process of relearning feral priority system is daunting for someone who is expected to continue with end-game raiding at the moment.

  3. I know what you mean. We have a group of players that have been extending an ICC10 lockout for over a month now trying to get another Lich King kill. Five of the members are already Kingslayers (on at least one toon, if not the one in that group) and the rest are trying to get it done for the first time. We've had attendance issues the last two weeks and haven't gotten a single night of attempts in in that time. I'm really hoping we can get it done this week, or it's going to be really hard to get it done at all. And there's still a few others we really, really want to get in there for more titles.

  4. If I had a significant portion of my guild's core members on the PTR, I'd go over there as well to do some play testing. But that just hasn't happened.

    I'm definitely planning on emphasizing Heroic runs in my guild after the patch drops while everybody learns the new ways to play their classes.


    This is probably the build I would go with. I'm sure we'll be close to 75% crit anyway, and I just want to know I have that awesome lifesaver to use if my fur hits the fan.

  6. Don't worry about Nurturing Instinct until 85 (maybe). Healers will still have plenty of mana after 4.0.x @80. The real change happens at 85 when our healing spells cost about six times as much to cast (base mana pool of 20590 instead of 3836) and our mana pool only slightly less than doubles (about 30k to about 50k).

    Gobble gobble.

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