Patch 4.3 is upon us. It's time to take down Deathwing. Are you prepared? If not, fear not: This handy cheat sheet will sum up all the feral changes you need to know to keep you performing at your best. (As always, thanks to Tangedyn and Yawning for their invaluable analysis; make sure to check out Mew, if you haven't already.)
I'm going to put this right up front, since this is easily the most frequent question I receive: What should I reforge to, and what are my stat priorities? Easy -- it doesn't matter.
Seriously. All of the secondary stats (mastery, haste, crit, hit, expertise) are roughly equal in value for DPS purposes. This was the case in 4.2, and it remains the case in 4.3. (To put a more exact number on it, it's a roughly 1% DPS difference, which is well within the margin of error for any given fight.) My personal preference remains the same: Cap hit and expertise (960/780 rating, respectively) to reduce rotational unpredictability, which has benefits that aren't captured by computer simulations that play perfectly. By all means, however, reforge to whatever you prefer; just make sure you're still gemming and enchanting your gear, going for agility wherever possible.
OK, on to the interesting stuff.
Tier 13 set bonuses
For review, here are the new set bonuses:
- Feral two-piece T13 bonus Your Blood in the Water talent now causes Ferocious Bite to refresh the duration of your Rip on targets with 60% or less health.
- Feral four-piece T13 bonus Using Tiger's Fury will also trigger your Stampede talent as if you used Feral Charge (Cat).
I expect set bonuses to be much easier to acquire this tier, due to the new Raid Finder system. As such, I won't discuss the previous tier, except to say it should be your goal to upgrade to two-piece T13 as soon as you can. The buff to Blood in the Water is a substantial DPS boost, so get used to using Ferocious Bite. Four-piece T13 is a different story and will require a slight rotational tweak. Previously, when beginning a fight (and any other time you used Feral Charge and triggered Stampede), it was best to couple your free Ravage with the 15% damage buff from Tiger's Fury, when possible. Once you get four-piece T13, however, that will be decidedly bad, as the Stampede proc from using Tiger's Fury will overwrite the proc from the Feral Charge. You'll still begin the same (apply Faerie Fire, Feral Charge in, Mangle/Rake/Shred), but instead of hitting TF and continuing to Shred to 5 combo points to apply Rip, you'll use your free Ravage, hit TF to proc another one, then Rip and continue as normal, using the second free Ravage before the 15% damage buff from TF wears off.
AP buff The 10% Attack Power buff (from Blessing of Might, Trueshot Aura, Unleashed Rage, or Abomination's Might) will become 20% for melee classes. Not much to say here; just enjoy the buff (and feel happy that Blizzard noticed the discrepancy between melee and ranged I mentioned a few months ago).
Glyphs Our major glyphs have changed significantly. Glyph of Shred has been renamed to Glyph of Bloodletting and now confers its benefits on Mangle as well as Shred. In theory, this was done in order to help fix the crippling problems that Feral has with attacking from the front, since Blizzard likes to design raid tiers with at least one encounter that locks us out of using Shred. Unfortunately, due to the happy Law of Unintended Consequences, the changed glyph is not helpful for Mangle-spam fights.
Why? Three reasons. First, Glyph of Rip and Glyph of Berserk remain the two strongest glyphs, so we're only fighting over the third slot. Second, if you know you're going to have to use Mangle instead of Shred, the Mangle glyph becomes a very attractive third option. Now, Bloodletting would still be competitive with Mangle if it wasn't for our two-piece T13 set bonus (discussed above), which greatly devalues the value of the glyph. Short version? Just do what you did in 4.2, and use Glyph of Rip/Berserk/Bloodletting for Shred fights, and Rip/Berserk/Mangle for Mangle fights.
Handling Ultraxion, the DPS check of 4.3
Why is this relevant? Well, there's been a lot of concern on the forums with regards to the Ultraxion encounter. Without spoiling things, this is the DPS check fight of 4.3 ... and it's an encounter that locks you into attacking from the front. Blizzard is obviously still deciding how to balance him correctly for melee classes, as he has gained and lost the ability to parry frontal attacks and be hit by positional attacks. As it stands now, he does not parry, but Shred does not work. This will require us to switch to a Mangle-based rotation (with the Glyph of Mangle), which will result in a roughly 5% DPS loss. This won't make much of a difference in normal modes, but it could be significant for guilds challenging heroic Ultraxion.
As an aside, the introduction of Dispatch means that feral druids and subtlety rogues will be the only specs remaining with positional DPS requirements. Blizzard, I said this before, and I say it now: It's time to kill the positional requirement from Shred. I totally buy the flavor argument for Backstab; the stealthy thief attacking an enemy's weak spot is one of the most common fantasy tropes. It makes sense for Subtlety. It does not make sense for Feral. Have you ever seen a cat attacking something? The shredding occurs from all angles.
That should get you started; if you have any specific questions, feel free to ask in the comments! I'll be updating my gear list for 4.3 next week, so stay tuned.
Looking for the latest and greatest in feral cat druid guides? Shifting Perspectives has the answers! Check out our cat 101 for Cataclysm. Also don't miss gearing your cat for Firelands raiding, addons for cat druids and raiding strats for feral cats, as well as our feral cat Firelands boss strats.