3.0.2 for Feral Druids

In a few hours, when the servers come back up, patch 3.0.2 is going to hit, and WoW will change drastically. Every tree is get revamped to a greater or lesser extent, and extended up to 51-point talents. The Feral tree changes, in my opinion, fall somewhere in the middle in terms of how radical of a shake-up they are.

The big change, philosophy-wise, is that we're going to be able to be main tanks or top-tier DPS, on par with the best warriors or rogues. The catch is that we won't be able to do it with the same spec; we can spec to be DPS or tank, and do as well as anyone at those rolls. We can still try to spec somewhere in the middle, but then we'll get back to our old "master of none" status. In my opinion, this is good news, especially considering we'll be getting dual-spec capabilities in 3.1 (the first post-Wrath content patch).

The way they enforce this new design strategy is by giving us a slightly higher number of talents in Resto that are practically mandatory, which leaves us fewer points to invest in Feral. They then put in more cat- and bear-specific talents than we previously had. The end result is that we can't get all the best bear talents, all the best cat talents, and all the near-mandatory Resto talents in one build; we wind up taking the Resto talents and picking one of cat or bear. This is even more pronounced at level 70.

The new and changed Bear talents will change the way we gear substantially.

  • Survival of the Fittest has been doubled, rendering us uncrittable solely through talents. This means we no longer need (or benefit much from) Defense on our gear.

  • Protector of the Pack, a new talent, gives us 12% damage reduction whenever we're in a full party. This is good, because there will no longer be leather gear with extra armor. This combined with the SotF change makes it clear that they want us to be sharing gear (to a certain extent) with rogues and kitty druids.

  • 12% damage mitigation probably doesn't quite make up for the armor we'll be losing, so Natural Reaction gives us a free 6% dodge - and bonus rage when we do it! This should help in those situations where we're dodging most attacks and therefore not generating much rage. Now whether we dodge or get hit, we'll get rage either way. (This is a small side point, but I'm intrigued by the phrasing of "regenerate 3 rage." Most rage abilities say "generate rage" - why the "re-" here?)

  • We have a few new "oh !@#$" buttons, a lack of which (outside of trinkets) has always been a weak point for bear tanks.

    • Survival Instincts: cf. Last Stand. Might be a little better for us since we tend to have very large health pools.

    • This isn't actually a talent change, but it's well worth noting here: Barkskin will be usable in feral forms. It's a third the mitigation of Shield Wall, but its cooldown is five times shorter; I foresee this getting a lot of use.

    • Our 51-point talent, Berserk, is one that I don't think many feral druids will be skipping in Wrath. For tanks, it will provide a quick way to generate gobs of threat, with Mangle hitting multiple targets and being spammable.

    • We'll also be able to use consumables in forms. Rejoice!

Of course, we're still stuck at level 70, so we don't have quite as many points to pump into the trees as they're designed for. I see 16 points in Resto as must-haves, so that leaves 45 for Feral. I'll probably be going something like this for a tank spec, but I'm interested to hear your thoughts. Edit: some people are arguing that it's worth going to Berserk anyway, which leads me to something like 0/52/9. I like that a lot better.

We turn now to the other side of Feral: the side that shreds. There isn't as much changed here as on the bear side, talent-wise, although I hear we should be seeing more damage anyway. Part of that will be Savage Roar, which we won't see until 75. But we did have some changed and new talents that will definitely affect cats:

  • Primal Precision (new talent). Expertise is always good. The hit cap is easy enough to reach as a cat, but it is nonetheless annoying when those five-point finishers fail to land.

  • Feral Charge has been extended with some cat form utility. It's a lot like a kitty Shadowstep now, though without the damage bonus. Should come in handy at least for leveling/grinding, not to mention PvP.

  • Although I wouldn't take it for a cat spec at level 70 (due to not having enough points to put in Feral), Rend and Tear will be a must-have at 80. Our targets should be bleeding much of the time from Rip and a now-useful Rake, and who would say no to a 20% increase on our staple damage skill?

  • Finally, Berserk has a huge benefit for cat druids too. Again, probably not enough points to put into it right now, but boy will I be loving it at 80.

So given the same 16 points in Resto as I took in my bear spec, I'd go for something along these lines [edited] for a PvE cat. It's surprising how different these talent choices are from the bear build; it seems Blizz really was serious about differentiating the two specs within one tree. I don't like not being able to get down to Berserk, but it's hard to pass up those 2%-damage-per-point talents over in Resto. It'll be a little bit uncomfortable being a feral druid between 3.0.2 and Wrath.

If you're preparing for the patch, we've written all about it. Druid fans should definitely read Shifting Perspectives, and if you want a peek at what's ahead for everyone, check out our Wrath coverage. Rawr!