Shifting Perspectives: Feral thoughts on the new talents and abilities

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Shifting Perspectives for cat, bear, restoration and balance druids. Welcome to our feral cat edition, brought to you by Chase Hasbrouck, aka Alaron of The Fluid Druid blog. Let the face clawing begin!

Because there are just not enough cute cats around here! This is Hello Kitty Online, right? Where we gossip about how cute our cats are? This is my oldest and grumpiest, Hailey Reagan, in a decidedly non-grumpy pic. ...Oh. Oh. WoW. Right.

Anyway, news! Finally! I've returned from my brief hiatus, and happily, there's lots to discuss. Blizzard has updated the Mists of Pandaria calculator with tons of new info, so let's take a look at what we could be seeing Soon(TM).

Baseline abilities

I won't cover everything that's changed, but here are a few tweaks that I thought were interesting for feral druids:

Bear Hug This is now available to all druids at level 22 and is essentially the replacement for Bash. The damage (30% of your HP channeled over 3 seconds) is fairly decent; I can definitely see this being used as a finisher in PvP for trolling purposes. Personally, I'm just going to macro /hug to it.

Thrash This former Bear ability is now able to be used in all forms, so we might see a change to our AoE rotation from Swipe, Swipe, Swipe, zzz.

Symbiosis This ability probably deserves its own column; a blue post revealed some more details on how it would be implemented. Three abilities signposted as likely to be received are Feign Death, Frost Nova, and Soul Swap. The first two aren't that interesting, obviously, but if I can SS my bleeds? Hello, Mists, you have my attention.

Mists of Pandaria talents

Tier 1: Movement As I and many others noted in our previous analyses, Wild Charge didn't really fit in Tier 4. To make room for it, Tireless Pursuit was dropped, which makes sense because it was currently just a clone of Dash. Unfortunately, that makes our choice much more difficult. More movement speed is never a bad thing, so I suspect Feline Swiftness will remain the default choice, but it's not as good as it was previously. Before, it was a 10% boost for all and a 30% boost for cats. Now, a 15% boost is baked into Cat Form, and the other 15% is located here.

Wild Charge, of course, is the reworked version of Feral Charge that now works for all classes. Obviously, we're losing Stampede (which makes me sad), but if it remains on a 15-second cooldown, it should be up for you to use pretty much all the time.

Displacer Beast is the odd one out here. It lost the random component (good) and the DoT wipe (bad). Without it wiping DoTs, I can't see it getting much use in PvP, and we never did much from Prowl in PvE to begin with. I'm hoping that the feral toolset from Prowl gets reworked to make getting back into it more desirable.

Tier 2: Healing The only change to this tier was the cooldown reduction on Nature's Swiftness to 1 minute. This is probably not going to last; being able to land an instant 9-second Cyclone in PvP is pretty OP. For PvE, though, Renewal is likely the best option. I can't see Cenarion Ward as being useful until we see how it scales, but I think it'd end up just being overheal anyway.

Tier 3: Control I There's a single-target snare (Faerie Swarm), an AoE root (Mass Entanglement), and a knockback (Typhoon). For PvE, this is going to be one of those highly situational things, depending on the fight mechanics. (One add or many? Kite them or kill them?) PvP will favor Faerie Swarm or Typhoon for Arenas, depending on if you want to play offensive or defensive; note that Faerie Swarm lost the 6-second cooldown in this iteration. Of course, Mass Entanglement will be an excellent havoc-creating option in BGs.

Tier 4: DPS Oh boy, let the debates begin. With Wild Charge moving to Tier 1, Soul of the Forest steps in to fill the slot ... and meh, just another version of the passive bonuses that the talent trees were supposed to be getting away from. The10 less energy on finishers is very nice, sure; it'll make our rotation more liquid and make it much easier to throw out a final Rip/Bite before switching targets. It's just not very interesting compared to the alternatives.

Incarnation and Force of Nature are unchanged. As I mentioned in discussing Displacer Beast above, there's no real reason for us to want to go back into Prowl in PvE right now, so Incarnation is out for Feral. Force of Nature, of course, is a big black box of Who knows? at the moment. Actually, I agree with Reesi; the spawned helpers should be spec-specific, so instead of trees for all, guardians could get bear cubs, and ferals could get kittehs.

Tier 5: Control II As with Tier 3, you get a stun (Mighty Bash), an AoE disorient (Disorienting Roar), and an AoE Death Grip (Ursol's Vortex) -- pick one. Yes, don't let the adjective fool you, Mighty Bash is just bear form losing Bash, making us pick it again if we want it. Disorienting Roar is probably the best overall choice for feral, as Ursol's is a bit short-ranged.

Tier 6: Bearcats and restokin, we still love you This tier is just massively TBD at the moment. I expect Heart of the Wild to go through some large balancing passes as Blizzard decides where the line falls between helpful and unbalanced. Dream of Cenarius (previously Master Shapeshifter) is worrisome. I'm OK with being able to throw out an occasional useful heal. I'm not okay with the thought of potentially having to hardcast a heal every 30 seconds to get a damage buff to maximize my rotation. Finally, Disentanglement ... Ehh. It really depends on whether powershifting will trigger it.

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.