Tier 1: We like to charge it, charge it
No way around it: Displacer Beast is flat-out terrible. In theory, the ability serves as a way to escape from enemies; in practice, it completely fails at this because it lacks the threat-dropping capabilities of Feign Death or the temporary damage absorption of Vanish. DoTs will still immediately snap you out of stealth, as will spells in the air (sometimes). Non-players will keep all their threat and keep attacking you. I could maybe sorta kinda see it being used offensively in PvP for feral (open from Prowl, dump some energy, DB out and reopen), but that's pushing things. At this point, I don't think the talent is fixable, and I'm hoping they scrap it and replace it with something that buffs Dash and/or Stampeding Roar.
Luckily, we have two other talents that are much better. Feline Swiftness's passive movement speed increase is boring but very helpful in any situation. Unfortunately, it has one key downside: It does not stack with boot enchants, which makes them an integral part of the decision. Feral will almost certainly be using the Blurred Speed enchant anyway for the agility bonus, so it's really more like a 7% bonus for them. Balance has a little more choice here; they can choose between move speed + 140 mastery or 175 haste, which will likely be a superior DPS option.
Wild Charge, in contrast, has a wealth of situational uses, especially in PvP. The cooldown being so short means you can use it pretty much every time you need it, which is great. Of course, that means you have to use it to gain any benefit from the talent. If you'd rather focus on your rotation, just go with Feline Swiftness. Basically, it's a pretty close call. I probably prefer Wild Charge for feral and Feline Swiftness for balance, but it can go either way.
Tier 2: Wards better than Montgomery's
Tier 2 All of talents in this tier are useful, so you can't go too far wrong here. Nature's Swiftness, your first choice in this row, is quite versatile. The instant-cast CC will make this talent probably a must for PvP, and the heals from it are pretty good-sized as well. Balance will definitely want this. It'd be good for feral too, except they already has a form of it. Predatory Swiftness. PS and NS don't play very nicely; if you have PS up, use NS then cast Healing Touch (for example), the spell will consume both buffs. That's not an insurmountable problem, but that's an issue I'd rather not worry about. As such, I'd recommend feral players look elsewhere, though they may still want it for PvP.
Renewal is pretty simple. You click the button, you get a 30% instant heal. Boom. Downsides: The heal doesn't scale with anything except HP boosting abilities, can't crit, isn't affected by the Cat Form glyph, isn't much stronger than a Nature's Swiftness-boosted Healing Touch, and has a pretty long cooldown. It's not a terrible ability, but it's the worst choice of the three.
Cenarion Ward has some good things going for it. Of all the healing talents, it generates the most overall healing when used on cooldown. The "delayed HoT" effect means that it's less likely to overheal, and the 30-second buff duration means it's very easy to cast it pre-combat. It works very well for leveling. Just like Wild Charge, though, you have to actually use it to get the theoretical benefits. I recommend it for feral, but if you're using it less than once per minute, you might as well stick with Nature's Swiftness for your healing needs.
Tier 3: You get a root! You get a root! Everybody gets a root!
Unlike the previous two tiers, this tier is really defined by the word situational. You always have to move, and you always have to heal, but in most group PvE content, you don't have to worry about crowd control. If you're primarily a raider, you may never use any of these, so don't worry too much. Challenge mode 5-mans and PvP, though will see some use.
If you need to kite something, you can't go wrong with Faerie Swarm. Balance druids, especially, will make significant use of this to keep nasties away now that Nature's Grasp only has a single charge. It's mostly useless for feral, though, since both feral and guardian get Infected Wounds as a passive.
Mass Entanglement is probably the ability that I see having the most impact in 5-mans. You know those situations where you're merrily DPSing away on some trash in a heroic and see another pack just kinda stroll in from the side, then aggro and kill everyone? Now, you can entangle them, finish off the first set, then get the rest in peace. You could also use it to help give your tank a breather; just make sure you communicate this well, as rooted melee mobs will ignore threat tables and smack anything in range.
Typhoon's a little trickier to use. Like Faerie Swarm, it's intended for balance druids as a way to keep mobs away from you, but it's stronger in exchange for having the cooldown. Once a melee enemy has reached you, FS doesn't do much good, but Typhoon gives you a bit of breathing room. It's not much; it's only a 10-yard knockback, but combined with the daze, it'll buy you a few seconds. While ferals don't need knockback much, it can serve as a ranged interrupt in a pinch. It won't have any silencing component, though. Oh, and lest I forget, if you're PvPing in an area with high elevations, you want this. Nothin' says lovin' like typhooning someone into the Twisted Nether in Eye of the Storm -- and you can do it from stealth.
Next week, I'll cover the last three tiers, which have significantly more impact in terms of DPS. Until then, keep on druiding!
Looking for the latest and greatest in feral cat druid guides? Shifting Perspectives has the answers! Check out our guide to soloing instances and raids, as well as our top gear recommendations and feral guides to the Siege of Wyrmrest Temple and the Fall of Deathwing.