May 19, 2010

The Guide

Edit: Up to date for current patch: 3.3.5

Recent Updates:
- (8/28/10) Updated the weapon enchants section
- (7/20/10) Added link to the very important melee hit table article.

As a class druid's are quite diverse, and therefore have more play styles than any other class. Kitty dps is becoming more and more popular despite being undoubtably the least played druid spec for a while, and as my main spec, it is my duty to inform those that wish to master the most difficult rotation in the game.

Table of Contents:

A. Spec
B. Itemization
C. Enchants
D. Gems
E. Glyphs
F. Rotation
G. Things to Note

A. Spec

The feral tree is comprised of talents that buff cat and bear form, only bear form, and only cat form. It is possible to create a hybrid spec that will allow both forms to be played with some degree of fluency, however, those that wish to master cat dps here is the suggested spec and the one that will be used in this guide:

(0/55/16) - Feral DPS Single Target

This spec includes 2 points in Feral Instinct instead of Improved Leader of the Pack. It might be more beneficial to the raid if one feral druid has ILotP, however all feral tanks should have it, so cats will often not need to include it.

It is acceptable to take one point out of Feral Instinct and put it in Survival Instincts If the encounter lends itself to lots of heavy but predictable damage like Festergut, however in encounters like Dreamwalker as well as trash pulls extra swipe damage is better.

It is important to note that once a decent set of tanking gear is obtained it is possible to tank in this spec, as I have tanked multiple 25 mans with no problem.

In this spec, the 2/2 points in Feral Swiftness is not directly related to cat dps, however the 30% indoor speed increase is very helpful both in and outside of raids and while it won't greatly increase dps, it will greatly help damage done on movement based fights.

B. Itemization

When choosing items, feral druids seem to be the most in the dark. When walking through Dalaran it is rare to find a cat gemmed and enchanted correctly. The reason for this is partially from the itemization back in BC and the misunderstandings about which stats are better to stack.

As with all other dps class it is nice to be hit capped, however, it is not a priority stat. The reason for this is Primal Precision. Because 80% of the energy is returned for missed attacks, the penalty for misses is much less than for other classes. Also, while gearing, most cats can become hit capped, or hit capped with draenei, easily, without gemming for it. This is less and less true as Icecrown gear is acquired. Most of the t10 and non tier gear does not have any hit at all and with enough gear, it will be important to make sure you do not lose all of your hit.

Being expertise capped is also a worry of cats. While it is nice, expertise is not as important as other stats for the same reasons as hit.

One should also realize that hit and expertise are increasingly important as gear increases. Each hit will hit harder, and therefore the penalty for misses increases, but the main reason hit/expertise become important stats is when the crit cap is reached. More on that later.

Hit & expertise, therefore, will be itemized separately from the other stats that one must stack as cat dps, but the caps for both hit and expertise are below.

Previously increasing attack power was the single most important aspect of feral itemization. This is not true anymore. With changes in talents and stats it is now important to look into other benefits, however the numbers break down is as follows:

Assuming all important feral talents and cat form. Numbers in parenthesis include Blessing of Kings. Most important numbers in bold.

1 Str = 2.37864 AP (2.616504 AP)

1 Agi = 1.18932 AP (1.308252 AP)
1 Agi = 0.0129744% Crit (0.01427184%)
77.05 (70.07) Agi = 1% Crit

1 Sta = 10.812 (11.8932) Health

Critical Strike Rating
1 CritRating = 0.022% Crit
45.91 CritRating = 1% Crit

(Be sure to factor in crit gained from an idol proc)
76% – White crit cap (+ 24% Glancing Blows = 100%)
79.8% – Ferocious Bite Crit Cap (+ 25% Crit from Talent – 4.8% Crit Suppression = 100%)
104.8% – Yellow Crit Cap (- 4.8% Crit Suppression = 100%)
You have to subtract any avoided attacks from these caps. For example: If 4% of your attacks are avoided due to not reaching the Hit and/or Expertisecap, then your white crit cap would be 72%.

If there is a Retribution Paladin in the raid spec'd into Heart of the Crusader and you are hit/expertise capped, the crit caps are reduced by 3% and play out as follows:
White Crit cap: 73%
Ferocious Bite Crit Cap: 76.8%
Yellow Crit Cap: 101.8%

Haste Rating
1 HasteRating = 0.030% Haste
25.22 HasteRating = 1% Haste

Hit Rating
1 HitRating = 0.030% Hit
32.79 HitRating = 1% Hit
Hit Cap vs lvl 80 targets: 5% Hit = 163.95 HitRating
Hit Cap vs lvl 83 targets: 8% Hit = 262.32 HitRating
Hit Cap vs lvl 83 targets with Heroic Presence: 7% Hit = 229.53 HitRating

Expertise Rating
1 ExpertiseRating = 0.030% less Chance of getting parried or dodged
32.79 ExpertiseRating = 1% less Chance of getting parried or dodged
8.2 ExpertiseRating = 1 Expertise
1 Expertise = 0.25% less Chance of getting parried or dodged
Expertise Cap vs lvl 80 targets: 5% (Dodge) / 5% (Parry) = 20 Expertise = 163.9 Expertise Rating
Expertise Cap vs lvl 83 targets: 6.5% (Dodge) / 14% (Parry) = 26 / 56 Expertise = 213.13 / 459.1 Expertise Rating

Since you should always attack from behind, your target can’t parry. Therefore you only need 26 expertise or 213.13 Expertise Rating.
But every serious Cat skills Primal Precision, which gives 10 Expertise or 81.97 Expertise Rating. So if you skill this talent, your cap will be:
Expertise Dodge-Cap vs lvl 83 targets and with Primal Precision: 16 Expertise = 131.16 Expertise Rating

Armor Penetration Rating
1 ArP Rating = 0.07145% Armor Penetration
13.9957272 ArP Rating = 1% Armor Penetration
Hard Cap 1399.57272 ArP = 100% of the target’s armor is ignored

Currently Agility does not provide as much attack power per point as strength, however due to Primal Gore and the t10 4 set Bonus, the crit benefit from agility makes it the most important stat.

Once you've begun to learn more about the feral rotation and things effecting your dps be sure to read this post about the melee hit table and how it effects your damage.

C. Enchants

A list of all the required enchants for cat dps:

Helm: Arcanum of Torment (Ebon Blade quartermaster).
Shoulders: Greater Inscription of the Axe (Sons of Hodir quartermaster), or for Inscriptionists.
Cloak: Enchant Cloak -- Major Agility, or Engineering/Tailoring enchants.
Chest: Enchant Chest -- Powerful Stats.
Bracers: Enchant Bracers -- Greater Assault, or Leatherworking enchant.
Gloves: Enchant Gloves -- Major Agility, or Hyperspeed Accelerators (Engineering).
Belt: Eternal Belt Buckle.
Legs: Icescale Leg Armor
Boots: Enchant Boots -- Superior Agility or Icewalker if you need the hit.
Weapon: Weapon enchants are a more complicated subject. It is best to use Rawr or Toskk's to decide which is best for you. These tools are discussed later in the guide. Generally though, if you are below the crit cap, Mongoose is the best enchant, but after the crit cap Black Magic is better. (Yes its weird, but it procs off mangle and shred.) Berserking and Enchant 2H Weapon -- Massacre are also viable options, with berserking being a little better in most cases.

D. Gems

Gemming can be confusing for new ferals so I will break it down as simply as possible and then go into more detail.

The Meta gem is a Relentless Earthsiege Diamond. Use a single Nightmare Tear in a blue socket where it will give the best socket bonus (usually the most agility). Use a single Deadly Ametrine in a Yellow socket where it will give the best socket bonus (usually the most agility) unless you are crit capped, in this case use a single Deft Ametrine. These will take care of your Meta and the requirements for it. Otherwise gems are as follows:

1. Use ALL Delicate Cardinal Rubies if you do not fall into any of the categories below.

2. If you have the Grim Toll, the Mjolnir Runestone, or the Needle-Encrusted Scorpion, use Fractured Cardinal Rubies until your Armor Penetration reaches 735 for the Grim Toll, 788 for the Mjolnir Runestone, or 722 for the Needle-Encrusted Scorpion. Then gem the rest for agility using Delicate Cardinal Rubies.

3. If you can find two trinkets better than the ones above and you can reach 1100 or so Armor Penetration WITHOUT a proc from gear + gemming all Fractured Cardinal Rubies, then use the better trinkets and gem all Fractured Cardinal Rubies until ArP reaches 1400, then gem Delicate Cardinal Rubies.

4. If number 3 is true AND you are crit/ArP capped, use Precise Cardinal Rubies or Rigid King's Ambers until hit/expertise capped.

5. If number 3 is true AND you are crit/hit/expertise/ArP capped use Quick King's Amber unless according to the line on the graph below you should be gemming strength, if this is true use Bold Cardinal Rubies. If your crit and attack power are higher than the graph goes to, simply continue to follow the general trend of the line, attack power scales linearly with crit so the line will continue to go up. Although, if you're at this point, the graph won't really matter, gem haste.

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So in more detail, while ArP was reduced by 12% in 3.2 it is still a viable stat when used with the proper trinkets or even without trinkets (at very high ArP levels on gear). The ArP cap is the point at which all of the target's armor is ignored for non-bleed effects. However, reaching the ArP cap (or "Hard Cap") with gems and gear is very difficult. In order to reach this one of three trinket's may be used, the Grim Toll, the Mjolnir Runestone, and the Needle-Encrusted Scorpion. When these trinkets proc it is possible to reach the ArP "Soft Cap." This is the point at which the sum total of ArP on the trinket proc and gear reach the hard cap. The hard cap for ArP is now 1400, with soft caps for Mjolinar Runestone, Grim Toll, and Needle-Encrusted Scorpion of of 735, 788, and 722 respectively.

Again, one should also note that with ICC gear increasing stats again it may be possible to hit the hit/expertise/crit/ArP caps all without an ArP trinket. When total ArP increases to the point where almost all of the ArP gems have been replaced with Agility, it may be time to find a better trinket and re gem to hit the hard cap of 1400 ArP.

E. Glyphs

For feral dps the major glyphs that are required are: Glyph of Rip and Glyph of Shred, and Glyph of Savage Roar.

One minor glyph should be Glyph of Dash. None of the other minor glyphs really affect dps so they're really just a matter of preference. I use Glyph of Aquatic Form and Glyph of Challenging Roar (for those times when you have to pop into bear because the healers failed).

F. Rotation

Besides gear level the most influential thing affecting kitty dps output is the rotation. The feral dps rotation is arguably the most complex rotation in all of WoW. It is, in fact, not a rotation at all. The basic premise behind the rotation is keeping buffs on your self and debuffs on the mob at 100% uptime. Here's the breakdown:

1. When running in to dps cast Faerie Fire (Feral).
2. No matter if you have another druid or a trauma warrior open with Mangle, this will give you a combo point on the target. If there isn't another druid keeping up Mangle or an arms warrior keeping up Trauma then Mangle keep up needs to be kept up! If there is someone applying the debuff, drop Mangle from the rotation.
3. Use Savage Roar, and keep it up! This is the most important one.
4. Use Rake, and keep it up!
5. Shred for combo points
6. When you reach 5 combo points (cp) use Rip. (Always use a 5 cp Rip, never lower).
7. Continue to Shred for combo points while keeping the rest of your buffs and debuffs up.
8. When Tiger's Fury is off cd, use it, but never use it if you have more than 25 energy or so.
9. When Berserk is off cd and you have time to really wail on the target pop Berserk. When using Berserk you need to if at all possible wait until Tiger's Fury is off cd to use right before Berserk, this will give you the maximum amount of energy while Berserk is up.
11. When deciding to renew a debuff on the target there a a few general rules: If Rake will run out, use Rake, when Rip is running out make sure you have 5 cp to use on a new one, however if Rip and Savage Roar have 10 seconds or more or if you can use Tiger's Fury or Berserk you can use the 5 cp to use a 5 cp Ferocious Bite. Once the bite is off, Shred for more combo points while keeping up the normal buff and debuffs.
12. When everything else has been taken care of, and you are simply pooling energy, use Nature's Grasp as this can then proc Omen of Clarity.
13. Use ALL Omen of Clarity procs for shreds.

When using Rip or Rake, try not to clip the DoTs. Allow them to run the full timer even if it means just sitting there Shredding. Rake, if clipped may consume energy, do its initial damage, but not reapply the DoT because the last time it was used there was a trinket or some sort of proc making it better. It is currently being discussed on the forums whether this is how Rake is supposed to work. Rip will not allow you to clip the previous one if it is more powerful because Rip does not have initial damage.

G. Things to Note

-Topic: Hysteria

Cats are the best target for Hysteria:
Arms Warrior – Does not stack with Wrecking Crew. Besides, they don’t have strong Cooldowns to blow while Hysteria is up.
Death Knights – A significant portion of their damage is elemental and not physical. Dancing Rune Weapon scales only half with Hysteria, Summon Gargoyle doesn’t at all.
Enhance Shamans – A good portion of their damage is elemental. Feral spirit, their Cooldown, is not affected by Hysteria.
Fury Warrior – Although all of their damage is physical, they cannot blow their big Cooldown Death Wish with Hysteria, because it doesn’t stack.
Hunter – A good portion of their damage is elemental and their pet wouldn’t benefit from Hysteria.
Retribution Paladins – A very big portion of their damage is elemental.
Rogues – A good portion of their damage is elemental.

Cats benefit by far the most from Hysteria as 100% of our attacks are physical and Berserk will stack with Hysteria. As long as you are quite close to the top DPS in your raid, try to convince your Blood-DK or your raidleader, that you should get Hysteria! In order to maximize Hysteria you should make a macro for using berserk that reads something like:

/use Berserk

Replace Deathknight with your DK's name. Since in most fights berserk is used off the start, when given Hysteria it is extremely easy to pull aggro, to solve this you might add in the macro:

/use Berserk

Replace Pally with a pally you have talked this over with prior to the encounter.

-UPDATE: Cower is no longer a legitimate threat dropping ability! With current gear levels where they are, using Cower will reduce threat by an amount nearly equal to the threat gained by a single auto attack. It is now useless to cower, therefore be even more careful not to pull threat. Dead DPS is bad DPS.

-When AOEing open with Rake, this will give you a cp to use on Savage Roar. Once Savage Roar is up your damage is increased by 30% which, when applied to AOE Swipe is massive damage. When Swiping mobs simply make sure all the targets are in front of the cat, target the closest mob and spam Swipe.

-One really great video for Feral DPS is located here, however, he will tell you to spec into Survival Instincts. If you are having such a problem dying that you need to waste a talent point on a 3 min survivability cd, you may need better healers.

-There are several programs such as Rawr or Toskk's that can be used to decide on gear upgrades quickly (I find Toskks better than Rawr), however, relying on these programs is a dumb mistake. They are frequently inaccurate and are often buggy. The best thing to do is know enough about your class/spec to decide for yourself.

Special thanks to all the guys over at Elitist Jerks. Credit to many of the calculations go to them.

Feel free to message me in game with questions.

/target YOU

Happy Shredding!