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Feral resources and philosophy
#1
For budding kitties and bears, I thought I would share a few of the places I haunt when I'm looking for gear advice and raiding tips. My links and comments will be shaded towards the cat-specific, but almost all of these places also have equally good bear information. I won't repeat the work of others who have written about cat dps/bear tank procedures; this is more a compilation of where to go to get to those people.

The Granddaddy:
Elitist Jerks Druid forum: The Cat DPS guide is quite good, and the discussion is ongoing in the later pages. This forum also has a number of links to simulators which can help with spec, gear, gemming and other variables. Has info for all Druid specs.

Simulators and such:
Rawr: I've never been able to use this, since I am on a Mac, but it gets a lot of recommendations. The creator of Rawr now has ICC gear named after him. [item]Astrylian's Sutured Cinch[/item]
Toskk's DPS Gear Method: I use this a lot to try to generate upgrade paths. [item]Toskk's Maximized Wristguards[/item] is also an ICC item. Toskk's forum is good too.
SimulationCraft and Team Robot are simulators linked from Elitist Jerks. I've never used them; they seem a little too mathy and geared toward the TheoryCrafters more than being for actual play, but owno.
Simulators should be used as guides only. Temper the outputs from these idealized situations with actual play, and with discussion forums and other research.

Great Blogs:
I've found tons and tons of useful and interesting information in the world of Druid Blogs. Several of the oldest and best have left us this year, but luckily for us, others have tossed their paws in the ring. Many of these blogs have great posts about early gearing up for raiding. Obviously since you can now get 245 gear simply by running random heroics all day, take the philosophy into account more than the actual gear lists. See what stats are important at your current gear level.
Feral Aggression: Excellent information and theory. He also writes guides to soloing old instance and raid bosses.
The Fluid Druid: also excellent discussion.
MMO-Champion: general wow site. Great tracker of Blue posts and excellent links for loot on raid bosses. The forums are often clogged with fools, but you can occasionally dredge decent information or a good link out of them.
Feral DPS Guide: looks like a really nice basic guide with good links.
The Coldbear Report: Lots of pvp stuff, but also some raiding info and sometimes fun links. He's very grumpy, but that can be amusing. One of the best Druid pvp videos I have ever seen is linked from his site. Makes me laugh every time I see it.

Less-active but still excellent archived information:
Unbearably HoT: Very good guides to Ulduar gear and earlier.
Of Teeth and Claws Basic Kitty DPS Guide: Very good for beginning kitties.
ThinkTank: Very good for both cat and bear. Gear lists, discussion of relative stat values (which change for kitties with very high-end gear).

Addons:
BadKitty: I used this until I got a handle on keeping up multiple timed abilities. A similar addon is: CatRotationHelper, which I have not used but which looks more compact than BK.
NeedToKnow: Very lightweight tracker for abilities, even ones that are not yours. So if you want to see if Trauma is up on a target (meaning you don't have to waste energy Mangling *glee*), you can set it to track this. Yes, usually you can see the Trauma icon on the target, but sometimes it gets lost in the fray.
MikScrollingBattleText: Nice HUD-style setup, with very useful alerts for ability timers and OOC procs.
OmniCC: Adds cooldown timers to your buttons. Very very handy, especially if you are not using BK or another cat rotation addon.
Inline Aura: Used in conjunction with OmniCC, lights up icons that are on a particular target. Works well for healing too.
Omen Threat Meter: Very very good, since Cower is complete crap (lowers threat less than what is gained by one autoattack). It is your responsibility to chill out a bit if you are accruing threat way faster than the tank. Dead kitties do zero dps. Turn off autoattack for a bit, ask for Vigilance from a warrior, or do whatever else you can do for a couple of seconds to dump a little aggro. Blaming the tank does no good: you have to adjust your output to their abilities and gear level.
Recount: Mentioned early and often in other posts, the DPS meter can be really handy for gauging your own performance. You can see how often you missed/dodged/parried etc, and see how well you're keeping up your various debuffs/bleeds. Note that cats are at their best when on a static boss you can hit from behind. Fights with a lot of target switching, targets that burrow and drop your precious 5-point Rip instantly, and targets that spin around so you are hitting from the front a lot will all screw with your theoretical max dps, so don't stress out about how you are in comparison to others on every single fight. It's also fun to see you pulled 15k dps on a trash pack, especially if the rogues popped everything too early and got smooshed in the first 2 seconds and you didn't. :wink:
DBM or BigWigs: Bosses are complicated. If you are standing in the fire, failing to run out of range, blowing up your allies, or missing a target switch because you aren't watching the boss's every move, emote, glow, or spellcast, please get one of these mods. You cannot rely on someone calling out in vent for every single thing you need to do. If you want your UI to remain "pure," then please pay attention to the boss and react accordingly. If you can't do that, then take a little responsibility for yourself and download one of these addons to help you out.

Things to consider when gearing your cat:
Agi Agi Agi Agi Agi. Don't gem hit, expertise or strength, unless you have ilvl 264+ gear everywhere and are white crit and armor penetration capped. When you hit a certain level of armor penetration on your gear (which varies whether or not you have an armor pen-proccing trinket), you can start gemming for armor pen. However, the difference between agi and arpen is not quite as huge since the big arpen nerf of '09, and making the change will affect your playstyle quite a bit. If you are more comfortable with lots of combo points and smooth Rip applications, you may want to stay with Agi for longer.

Armor pen is quite good when you have some, and fantastic when you have a whole lot. Deciding when to make the switch from Agi is the subject of many a forum post and blog. Rip and Rake ignore Armor already, so the TL;DR difference is between gearing for constant bleeds, or gearing for large white hits. ToC favors Armor Pen due to boss mechanics. Of course, I never had an arpen trinket during all of our ToC time. Sigh.

Current cookie cutter cat is: 0/55/16 (shows 1 extra point left over to play with). I don't have quite this build; I like to solo things and pvp on occasion, but I also am bringing small raid heals with Improved LotP, and better aoe with Feral Instinct. With 3.3.3 I have taken my points out of Improved Mangle and put them back into Infected Wounds, but I haven't decided if they will stay there yet.

Make sure Primal Precision is in your talent build. This is why cats don't need to stack expertise or hit until you start capping other things. It gives 10 expertise on its own, but also refunds 80% of the energy cost if you miss a finishing move. This lessens the impact to our rotation when we miss or are dodged. HIt on gear is fairly easy to come by until you get to high ICC gear level; expertise is very very hard to find. The current theory is that we'd lose more dps by gemming or struggling to get expertise/hit gear than we do by missing or being dodged. Of course, there is also a vigorous opposition to this idea which wants to get hit/exp capped before anything else. Your milage may vary. I ignored hit completely until about ToC-level gear. At that point I got a flood of hit and am now currently way over the hit cap. I've never had any gear with expertise on it. I may have to start worrying about it again in tier 10, we'll see.

Being at/near the hit cap is a very good thing overall, but you don't need to go nuts over it. Once your bleeds are on the target, they can't miss. Arpen gearing makes hit and expertise more important than an Agi/bleed build. Bears need hit and expertise gear far far more than beginning Cats do. If you are missing enough that your bleeds and buffs fall off a lot, add more hit.

At ICC gear levels, you are nearing the white crit cap (~71%), which means every dodge, miss, or parry is pushing a crit (rather just just a hit) off the table. This makes gearing for hit and expertise much more valuable than they were earlier. However, most cats are still trying to hit the armor pen cap (either 750ish depending on your trinket proc or 1400 if you are going for hard cap with no trinket proc) and the crit cap before going for expertise cap. Haste becomes very good at this point as well. Stat weighting is pretty complicated at the moment. Just remember that you really can't go far wrong with Agility.

Do not let Mangle fall off the target. It boosts all of our special attacks. If at all possible, get an Arms Warrior or another Feral to put up your bleed debuff (Trauma/Mangle). If a kitty has someone else applying that debuff, it's a large boost to your dps. Regardless, it needs to be up 100% of the time. And if you're the lowbie kitty in the raid, guess what? You're the Mangler. Big Grin Due to 3.3.3 patch changes, Mangle now stays up for 60 seconds. This lets us dps with a much looser timing factor, and basically rocks. It still needs to be up 100% of the time, but it's far easier to make it do that now.

Stay behind the target if at all possible. Not only should you be there for strategic reasons (lots of frontal-cone boss abilities plus parried frontal attacks), but our main combo point generator requires it. Shred is going to be your default attack button. On fights where you have to be in front, or where the boss is moving/rotating a lot (or where the DK casts Army of the Dead..grrr), your dps will be lower across the board due to lack of shreds. When there are tank swaps, try to stay in a position where you'll still be hitting from the back after the boss changes to face the other tank. Sigh for having the last main attack with a positional requirement. Thanks Blizz!

Glyphs:
[item]Glyph of Savage Roar[/item], [item]Glyph of Rip[/item], and [item]Glyph of Shred[/item] will give you the best DPS, even if you are applying your own Mangle. In cases where Berserk + Swipe is a larger damage component than extending Rip on a single target, swap out [item]Glyph of Shred[/item] for [item]Glyph of Berserk[/item]. Glyphs are cheap (don't buy them, get the mats instead), so do not be afraid to swap them out as needed to buff DPS on any given fight. It's a possibility now that [item]Glyph of Mangle[/item] could be used in place of Shred on specific fights with adds or lots of movement, such as Lady Deathwhisper and Valithria Dreamwalker. You'll strictly lose dps because you don't have the chance to Shred very much, but you'll gain some of it back by increasing Mangle damage.

And finally:
Kitty DPS Flowchart. Scarily accurate. Warning: does have two adult words in it.

Sorry for wall o' text. Big Grin I'd be happy to update the link list if others have sites to recommend.
Edit: Added some more links and some other ramblings.
Nganga Nyeusi
He is fast and is the danger.
What's a dazzling urbanite like you doing in a rustic setting like this?
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#2
This is a great guide, Nganga. Thank you so much for writing this up!

-Zlinka
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#3
Updated a few things for 3.3.3.

Also thought I'd add some thoughts now that I have much higher-level gear.

4T10 is incredible. Get it as soon as you possibly can, whether you are a cat or a bear. Keep it, even over 264 upgrades. Farm VoA for free tier gear.

Hit and Expertise are now a lot more valuable than they used to be. I'm not really bothering with the last few points of expertise, since if I get 2 dodges out of 300 attacks I'm frankly not that chuffed about it. Picking up some in the form of T10 pants was really nice, however. I'm also trying to stay within shouting distance of the hit cap, which may require some ugly re-gemming when I get my next weapon upgrade. I still say don't worry much about it before you start getting 251+ gear, except as required to keep a smooth bleed series going.

I'm still riding the edge of Arpen. I love it on my gear, but I *feel* like there's a difference when I drop my agi food for arpen food. Probably there really isn't one, since +/- 40 Agility isn't that big a deal at the moment, but if my buttonmashing feels off, it's going to be off. I'm playing with using both and haven't yet decided to stick with one.

Try very hard not to clip your bleeds. Wait for them to fall off, then reapply immediately. Losing the last tick of a Rip or Rake really adds up in wasted energy and lost damage over the course of a fight. Go ahead and clip Savage Roar as needed to get your main timers back out of sync, and clip a dot if you need to leave that target and switch to a new one, but try to avoid it as much as you can otherwise.

One thing to add which I've seen with ferals on a few pug raids and so will pass on to any alts or offspecs who want to play with catnip: don't bother opening on a boss from stealth. Ravage isn't really worth it for 60 energy when you could have gotten off a Mangle/Shred instead, and Pounce is nothing without the stun, to which bosses are immune. The time you spent crawling to the boss in stealth you could have been using to beat on him instead. The only two exceptions (until someone comes up with more Smile ) would be: if you can stealth right up to the boss without pulling, and you open with Mangle, or on a pvp-style fight where it's awesome to start off that stupid Tree with a nice Pounce (which does land on Faction Champs). Otherwise you are wasting valuable dps time getting to the boss, and wasting energy on a subpar opener.

And as I said above: hit them from the back! Shred shred shred shred! Yes it means you have to move around. Yes it means you absolutely HATE Army of the Dead. Do it anyway. Shred is your best direct attack.

Fish feasts, while better than nothing, are not much better than nothing. Go fishing and get yourself some Dragonfin. Same goes for bears. Attack Power? Really? So many other options out there that scale much better with our abilities. Arpen (which is a great threat stat for bears, btw) agi, crit, strength, haste, hit, expertise...etc. Even using Strength food over AP food will give you more AP due to our talents and buffs. So easy to get, so easy to make or have someone make for you. Every little bit counts, and it's a fantastic way to fill gaps in your gear. Heck, I might start using hit food instead of regemming two slots.
Nganga Nyeusi
He is fast and is the danger.
What's a dazzling urbanite like you doing in a rustic setting like this?
Reply


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