Friday, January 7, 2011

Leveling Feral 80-85

I saw a lot of theory posts coming out in the weeks and months leading up to Cata regarding this. A few of them were written by people that were actually in the Beta, and so they had first hand knowledge of what things would be like. A lot of the rest were pure conjecture though.

Now that I've taken San (and two other characters) up to 85 I think I have a good feel on what it's like. So I'm going to offer my own advice on how to level from 80 to 85 through Cataclysm.

So you just dinged 80 and you're ready to head home from Northrend and start exploring the world that Deathwing (un)made. Cool.

From a pure solo-play, quest-grinding perspective, I would suggest you have your spec set up something like this 0/33/3 spec. It's a little mish-mashed and it's missing some of the key Druid cooldowns/abilities, but you'll only miss them while in dungeons. And even then...not too much. Once you hit the level cap, you can respec and optimize for group-play.

As you get leveling talent points, it's really not too important where you put them. Fill out Fury Swipes and then spend the other 4 wherever you want.

  1. Prime
    • Mangle: This will be your primary attack while leveling. Get everything out of it that you can.
    • Savage Roar: Kill things faster.
    • Tiger's Fury or Lifebloom, depending on how often you end up HoTing yourself.
  2. Major
    • Faerie Fire: Increasing your pull range is always useful.
    • Feral Charge: You want this available as often as possible for the free Ravage.
    • Rake or Thorns: I didn't notice many mobs that try to flee, but Glyph of Rake would stop any that do. Thorns is nice for tougher mobs or when you get stuck in a crowd.
  3. Minor

You're going to be spending almost all your time in Cat form, so get cozy with it. While you're running around, you're going to have two basic attack patters:
  1. If Feral Charge is available
  2. If Feral Charge in unavailable (on cooldown or the enemy is too close)
    • F3
    • Mangle
    • Rake
    • Mangle spam to 5 CPs
    • Tiger's Fury
    • Ferocious Bite (if you still have Savage Roar active, otherwise Savage Roar)
    • Mangle Spam

Through all the zones, mobs are spaced just far enough apart and take just long enough to kill that you'll be rotating through those lists on a 1-2-1-2-1-2 basis pretty regularly.

For tougher solo mobs, you can throw a Rip in there as long as you already have Savage Roar up already, but most mobs are going to die long before Rip becomes more effective than Ferocious Bite.

Unfortunately, Cats don't really get any new and exciting (useful) tools from 80-85. So your attack pattern in the first quests of Hyjal and Vashj'ir is going to stay steady all the way through your last quest in Twilight Highlands.

Other abilities
Keep Skull Bash handy. There's a lot of stuff to interrupt while you're questing through the new zones that will make your life 100 times easier. A lot of caster mobs will die without ever getting a spell off if you manage this right.

I got a lot more use out of Maim while leveling than I did through most of Wrath. If you're getting low on health, that 5 second reprieve can be invaluable. You won't need to use this regularly, but using it at the right times can save you a corpse run.

Also, keep Nature's Grasp handy for those times when you start to get overwhelmed. Pop it and hightail. Anything chasing you will get rooted in place, giving you plenty of open space to run away.

Stay healthy
Quite frequently, you're going to find that you're at 4 or 5 CPs when a mob dies. If so, pop off a Savage Roar (you can use this to consume the leftover combo points from a dead mob now, as long as you don't go too far away or attack something else) and then use the ensuing Predator's Swiftness buff to pop off a quick Healing Touch, shift back to cat, and go back to the grind. (The buff comes from having specced 2/2 into Predatory Strikes.)

If you need a little more of a boost, stack up Lifebloom. It used to be way too mana-intensive for Ferals, but with the change of only allowing it to stack on one player at a time, the mana costs have been lowered significantly. This is a great spell to use while on your own now, only hindered by the fact that it takes 3 GCDs to fully apply. The bloom at the end is amazing in Cat form, though, with the aid of Nuturing Instincts.

Pull with care
While we have a number of tools at our disposal (including Bear form) to help out our survivability, Cats are still kinda squishy. The idea is for us to be able to nuke something down before it has much time to do real damage to us. One- and two-pulls usually aren't much of a problem. Three-pulls start to feel fairly dangerous, especially once you get out into Uldum and Twilight Highlands.

Four-pulls end up being pretty deadly.

Keep an eye on your surroundings, pull mobs to safe places to kill them, and be aware of OoC and Predator's Swiftness procs for emergency heals.


  1. Good stuff, though I don't think I ever used Savage Roar.
    Mob 1- Rake/Ravage/Mangle to 5 cps/FB if it'll die soon, otherwise Rip and move to next mob
    Mob 2- Rake/Mangle/TF/Mangle to 5cps, etc.
    Whenever Berserk is up, mount up, pull 3-4 and Bear/SI/Berserk Mangle them down.

  2. I always felt better keeping SR up for the extra white damage. It may not actually have been as fast as using those CPs for a finisher, but it felt smoother. It helped a lot when I ended up in unintentional chain pulls and had already blown TF.

    Towards the end of leveling, I frequently used 3pt Rips just to have a steady decline on a mob's health than have it going down in chunks.

    Had I glyhped FB, I probably would have used it more. It's certainly one option. But I tended to avoid it since it was a huge energy drain.