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Shifting Perspectives: Patch 4.0.1 for cat druids

Allison Robert

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Shifting Perspectives for bear, cat and restoration druids. Today we stop worrying about those inevitable moments where Rip and Savage Roar are due to fall off within seconds of each other, but are disturbed to discover that the feral damage bug remains.

Cats, in marked (and blessed) contrast to bears and resto, aren't changing a lot in patch 4.0.1 (barring a lingering DPS issue I'll talk about later), and the column I published earlier on the beta cat is still largely accurate if you want an ability-by-ability rundown on specific skills.

How do I spec?

Like everyone else, we don't have access to all the good stuff at level 80, but you can jerry-rig a serviceable spec out of the 36 talent points we do have. Alaron recently published a recommended spec of 0/33/3 at The Fluid Druid and I tend to agree with his (and Kalon's) assessment concerning the current state of feral talents. Their recommended specs differ only in talent point allocation between Stampede and Survival Instincts.

If your guild's still running content like heroic Icecrown Citadel or Halion post-4.0.1, I would pick up Survival Instincts just for the additional survivability. While healers won't really be getting the worst of mana efficiency changes at level 80, they'll still be getting a dose of it, and anything you can do to keep yourself alive is going to appreciated. Actually, the cat's array of self-healing options and access to tanking cooldowns is extremely good for just that, and we are definitely among the less-fragile DPS specs in Cataclysm heroics. Not that I've actually seen more than one or two cats in beta heroics anyway due to feral damage's ongoing inability to escape the toilet, but eh.

Frequently asked questions

What's my rotation going to be? The final "rotation" should be pretty similar to what we're doing right now. The only thing that's really changed is that you're not going to be anywhere near as punished in the inevitable moments where Savage Roar and Rip happen to drop off within seconds of each other. Right now you'd be reapplying Savage Roar and then getting Rip back up as quickly as possible, with an unavoidable DPS loss in the interim. Post-4.0.1, Rip is the more compelling priority, as Savage Roar buffs only white damage.

Near as I can work it out, this is what you're looking at:

  1. Feral Faerie Fire (unless your target already has an armor debuff).
  2. If you're Feral Charging the target (either at the beginning of a fight or rejoining one), Ravage.
  3. Savage Roar.
  4. Mangle (unless your target already has a bleed debuff).
  5. Rake.
  6. Shred to five combo points, then Rip.
  7. At this point, the standard cat DPS "rotation" should kick in until your target reaches 25 percent health. Assuming 2/2 Blood in the Water (thank you, Blizzard, for changing its name), you should substitute Ferocious Bite for Rip unless Rip has fallen off. In that case, reapply Rip and continue to substitute Ferocious Bite until and unless Rip falls off again (which it really should not).
  8. As always, time Berserk to coincide with a Mongoose and/or trinket proc. I'm not sure what's happening to the blood death knight's Hysteria.
So basically Savage Roar isn't as important because it sucks now? I'm not sure I'd put it that way. Under ideal circumstances (and I'd love to see some of those), cats would be overpowered if Savage Roar continued to buff all of our damage due to new baseline critical strike bleeds and haste's contribution to energy generation. But cats are still suffering from a huge DPS blow on both the PTR and beta, and I'd rather have the difficulty of the "old" rotation back if it meant regaining this lost damage. We have no way to compensate for the loss of armor penetration, and I'm still not entirely convinced there's not a bug lurking elsewhere in either class or mechanic changes.

A lot of feral commenters are gloomily waiting for a buff to come at level 85, because the odds of something being done to address this in the interim are not high. Unless Blizzard actually intends for cat DPS to fall relative to other specs', which is always possible but not something the developers have explicitly stated.

Uh, most of my gems are straight armor penetration. What's going to happen with that?
They've converted to straight critical strike gems on both the beta and PTR. Blizzard may change this when the patch goes live, but regardless of the stat you'll find on your gear post-4.0.1, it ain't gonna be armor penetration.

What should I regem?
We're losing Primal Precision, so depending on your gear it may be necessary to gem for expertise. After that, gem for agility.

Wait a minute. Isn't our four-piece tier 10 bonus worthless now?
Well, the current version is, insofar as bleeds can now be critical strikes by default. The four-piece bonus has been changed to increase Rake's damage by 10 percent.

My head hurts
. So does mine, friend. So does mine.


What glyphs should I use?
For whatever reason, ferals are still up the proverbial creek when it comes to comprehensive glyph coverage. Whether you play a bear or cat, you're going to encounter a few "holes" in the new system that I assume Blizzard will address in a later patch or when Cataclysm goes live. I'd rather not have a repeat of the situation we had in early Wrath where the Burning Crusade-era Idol of Terror was still standard equipment for all bear tanks simply because there wasn't anything better. Assuming the new glyph system goes live, this is what you should look for:

Prime This is where the good stuff is:
  1. Glyph of Rip
  2. Glyph of Shred
  3. Glyph of Savage Roar
Savage Roar is much less compelling nowadays (to the point where I wonder what it's doing in the prime glyphs category), but it's still a DPS increase over Glyph of Berserk and Glyph of Tiger's Fury, as Alaron observes.
Major Sorry, folks; there's nothing really amazing here, but these are your options:
  1. Glyph of Feral Charge
  2. Glyph of Faerie Fire
  3. Glyph of Ferocious Bite
  4. Glyph of Rake
If you've historically had problems incorporating Ferocious Bite into your rotation, I would glyph for that, but otherwise your other three options are entirely up to you. If you're a raiding cat who does a lot of Rebirthing, you may even want to pick up a Glyph of Rebirth. Having said that, Rebirth is back to being a 30 minute cooldown, so ... yeah.

Minor Druids' minor glyphs are still the same, so whatever you've picked up before should be fine.

Every week, Shifting Perspectives treks across Azeroth in pursuit of druidic truth, beauty and insight. Whether you're a bear, cat, moonkin, tree or stuck in caster form, we've got the skinny, from a look at the disappearance of the bear tank to thoughts on why you should be playing the class (or why not).

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