The Ironsong Tribe

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Purrfessor has dropped a bit of a gift on us Ferals this week.

Nganga found this on the forums as we were both researching how we can squeeze out the most AoE damage in Mythic+++ dungeons.  This is probably of limited use as a Feral is likely only to worry about this after item level 850 but I wanted somewhere to post it so I could make some notes and comments to help any serious feral druids in the Tribe and ourselves.

Subject: Feral Mythic Trash Rotation

*** Repost from Purrfessor: ***
Feral is absolutely 100% viable EVEN IN M+ but first let me get this out of the way, unless it's higher mythic + many mobs simply don't live long enough for feral bleeds to tick all the way down, and burst AoE is dependent on very specific talent choices and legendaries. However feral can absolutely deal great amounts of damage in higher M+ with the correct play style. This play style however is much more difficult then just about any other melee class for the result you get. Yes you can pick easier talents and do less damage unlike other classes faceroll talents are their best. Feral in dungeons takes some serious effort, concentration, and practice to preform on a high level.

Rake is the core of your dungeon damage, when i check my overall damage at the end of the dungeon it usually sits around 35-40% over my total damage. Personally I almost always stick with the follow talent set up for dungeons.

Dungeon Talents:
  1. Predator
  2. Displacer beast
  3. Balance affinity
  4. Mighty bash
  5. Savage roar
  6. Jagged wounds
  7. Blood talons
I choose these talents because it buffs your raking ability and damage, and rake being the core damage dealing ability in dungeons these talents should be the best overall offensive gain as you can play around them and adjust to the situation. Many talents such as Might Bash, and Displacer beast are situational and should be changed as you need to. Might bash offers a free, on the GCD 5 second stun, that is almost good in every situation to stop deadly casts or to help alleviate tank damage. Displacer beast just a general mobility talent that helps you get out of dangerous situations, or help you advance towards your target faster.

While it does depend on your talents and legendaries (since those significantly change your rotation) you usually want to do the following in a ROUGH order as everything changes depending on the situation:

Longer living mobs:
  • Keep rake up on all targets
  • Keep up savage roar to buff all the rakes, thrashes, and rips you do
  • Swipe when all targets are bleeding, or are close to death
  • Keep a constant check on mob HP, as bleeding low HP targets is a damage loss and you want to get as many predator resets as possible. This aspect alone on top of keeping a 100% rake uptime on every mob is CRITICAL to dealing great feral dungeon dps. If you don't properly time every single bleed, finisher, SR, and more your damage will drop like a rock.
  • Make sure bleeds are on targets that are about to die with either:
  • -    Rake for a single target
  • -    Thrash for multiple targets
To get as many tiger fury's as possible from predator. Successfully controlling your energy through the lows and sudden influx with predator is one of the keys to feral dungeon dps.

Speaking of energy, knowing when to dump energy and work around your omen procs is another substantial gain to your dps. You always want to be spending your omen procs in this rough order: 
  1. Raking when it needs refreshing
  2. Swiping if all rakes are good on their time
  3. Buffing yourself with SR
  4. Thrashing if you your rake AND combo points are looking good
There are so many factors that go into knowing when to use what it's something you can only learn from practice. Wasted energy is rakes that fall off, and rips that don't happen.

Shorter living mobs:
  • Buff SR (from last mob 5 points)
  • Thrash
  • swipe swipe swipe swipe swipe...
  • Fill in energy with TF resets
  • Rip on priority targets (Super short live trash mobs you should save the points)
  • Keep up SR
If the mobs live for a moderate amount of time, such as the mobs are still going to alive before you're going to run yourself out of energy, you should buff your thrashes > focus rips > swipes with blood talons as it saves you energy while giving you roughly the same amount of damage.

Other things to note:

-Ferocious bite... unfortunately... really sucks. The damage from ONE full 50 energy bite is roughly the same as 1/6th-1/7th of a SINGLE 30 energy rip with jagged wounds. Plus many artifact abilities depend on rip being up on the target 24/7 such as ashamanes' bite and open wounds. The only scenario where bite is useful is when you can not snapshot a better rip under 25% of a mob's HP.

-Always rip higher health or priority targets, and depending on your mastery, two ticks alone of rip can out damage a bite.

-it's 110% OKAY to wait at energy cap as long as any other choice would have made your bleed fall off. For example, with jagged wounds, rake's pandemic threshold of refreshing is roughly at 4 seconds. If you're about to cap energy and a rake you need to refresh is sitting at ~8 seconds it's completely worth it to wait. While you're sitting there keep your auto attacks rolling on something to fish for an omen proc (refer back to omen proc section), or use some CC on a mob that needs it. Refreshing rake/rip earlier even is MUCH BETTER then letting it fall off completely.

-Generating 5 combo points at the end of one pull so that you can SavageRoar leading into the next (while still stealth) is a GIGANTIC gain along with having Tiger'sFury up from the Predator reset

-Letting savage roar fall off is acceptable in a handful of situations, including but not limited to:
You will not be able to cast another finisher on the mob.
You will be casting SavageRoar again before reapply any bleeds
You would otherwise not be able to generate an acceptable amount of combo points before the next pull (usually 5)

While savage roar is substantial damaging buff, it only helps the damage you deal AFTER using roar, and outside of some very long living mobs and bosses you should almost never ever have to re-cast it mid-pull except the very first time.

-Many other talents (Such as soul of the forest, and brutal slash) are viable for dungeons and are MUCH easier to use (little more spammy) but as you get higher and higher into M+ those heavily cripple your single target damage to the point of detriment. There is a strategy using soul of the forest to rip multiple mobs and swiping to trigger ashmanes' bite procs but I personally don't find this to be overall very viable due to SoTF losing to SR in high mob or single target situations and targets tend to die eventually so you simply can't rotate between the same 3 targets turreting bleeds.

-Cooldowns should be ROUGHLY used whenever you can get the biggest use out of them while not waiting a long time on them. That means sometimes you should berserk a mob to keep rake on everything, or saving it for the next pull which may be a boss, or using Ashamnes frenzy to get combo points leading up to a huge AoE pack for a SavageRoar. Really just have to test them out to get a feel for it.

-Many of the abilities and dps gains are HEAVILY tied to how many artifact points / where your point are at. The combination of shadow thrash + luffa bracer legendary EASILY accounts for over 50% of my gigantic small mob aoe pull dps (Such as bats in black rook, early demons in Vault, etc)

-Legendaries such as Luffa Wraps (higher thrash usage ), Wildshaper's Clutch (more combo points for rips), and Ailuro Pouncers (free BT... when it gets fixed) all really change things up and interact with each other in very specific ways.

Feral dungeon dps is NOT IN ANY WAY easy, if you are careless with a single aspect you will lose the majority of your dps as every part of your rotation works off each other to increase the damage of a few key abilities. I would go as far to say that being a feral DPS in a dungeon setting is one of if not the hardest dps to play optimally.

With my current set up (50% mastery, Luffa bracers, Pouncer boots, and swapping Symbiote belt on for bosses) I am able to very consistently pull roughly or over 350k dps on bosses / 450K mobs(3-6) and spike upwards of 1.5m dps on anything bigger than that with shadow thrash slot machine luck. Here's some proof of numbers while I helped out a guildy who was streaming:
*** End repost ***

Granted Purrfessor runs with a *sick* amount of legendaries and swaps 1 between boss and trash.  But even without the legendaries the recipe above for multiplying your damage by stacking your skills correctly is clearly something that can drastically improve AoE dps!

I created a Legend of the skills/talents/items mentioned here for quick reference.
  • Predator (Talent):
  • -     The cooldown on Tiger's Fury resets when a target dies with one of your Bleed effects active.
  • Tiger's Fury (TF):
  • -    Instantly restores 20 Energy, and increases the damage of all your attacks by 15%
  • -    for their full duration. Lasts 8 sec.
  • Savage Roar Finisher (SR): 
  • -    Finishing move that grants 25% increased damage to your Cat Form attacks for their full duration.
  • -    Lasts longer per combo point (max 24 sec)
  • Rake:
  • -    Rake the target for (91.2% of Attack power) Bleed damage and an additional (456% of 
  • -    Attack power) Bleed damage over 15 sec.
  • Thrash: 
  • -    Strikes all nearby enemies, dealing (100% of Spell power + 41% of Attack power) 
  • -    Bleed damage and an additional (146% of Attack power) Bleed damage over 15 sec.
  • Swipe: 
  • -    Swipe nearby enemies, inflicting 500% Physical damage.Deals 20% increased damage 
  • -    against bleeding targets
  • Bloodtalons (BT) (talent):
  • -    Regrowth (RG formerly HT) cast causes next 2 melee skills to deal 50% more damage
  • Omen procs:
  • -    Your auto attacks have a chance to cause a Clearcasting state, 
  • -    making your next Cat Form ability cost no Energy.
  • -    (Recommended order for choosing clearcasted skill: Rake -> Swipe -> SR Buff -> Thrash)
  • Pandemic cap/threshold:
  • -    See advance discussion here
  • Regrowth (formerly Healing Touch or HT)
  • -    Healing spell obviously, but used by BT for 2 skill +50% damage)
  • Primal Fury (passive):
  • -    Every time you critically strike with a combo generating ability you gain an additional combo point.
  • Shadow Thrash (Proc from artifact):
  • -    Thrash has a 25% chance to release part of Ashamane's soul, 
  • -    causing all nearby enemies to take (2 * (100% of Attack power)) Shadow damage over 2 sec.
  • Legendary: Luffa Bracers (Wrist):
  • -    Increases damage output of Thrash by 25%(?)
  • Legendary: Ailuro Pouncers (Boot):
  • -   Gain 1 stack of Predatory Swiftness every 15 sec. 
  • -    Additionally, Predatory Swiftness now stacks up to 3 times.
  • Legendary: Wildshaper's Clutch (Gloves)
  • -    Critical damage from your Bleeds have a 40% chance to trigger Primal Fury.
  • Legendary: Cinidaria, the Symbiote (Waist)
  • -    Your attacks cause an additional 30% damage as Physical to enemies above 90% health.
Thanks for saving this here, Zoop. Lots to work on, for sure. Maybe someday those legendaries will start to drop...
I viewed Purrfessor's stats today and it had finally saved him in Feral spec so I jotted them down to see his breakdown
  • Agility 27627
  • Mastery 55.55%
  • Crit 46.26%
  • Haste 1.91%
  • leach 2.72%
  • Versatility 1.36%
  • Avoidance 5.86%
  • Armor 2240
Granted this is with crazy legendaries so that determines some of his loadout.  But I found that the standard AskMrRobot and Icy Veins stat priority gives you nothing near this.

As an exercise of comparison and weights only - since my stats are not amazing and in a couple weeks of gear drops this will all be irrelevant - I tried putting in these weights and seeing what stats chosen "Best in bags" gear would give me

However I tinkered with AMR stat weights and got something similar with the following weights:
(Disclaimer: I am not completely sure if the way I have changed this from default is legit.  My strategy was simply to lower the numbers for haste and versatility, drastically raise mastery and raise crit to match closer to the % breakout that Purrfessor achieved with his gear.)
Agility 11.19
Mastery 9.05
Critical Strike 8.04
Main Hand Damage 5.25
Haste 2.5
Versatility 2.1
Leech 0.03
Avoidance 0.02
Movement speed 0.01
offhand damage 0

With gear sitting in my bags this gave me a breakdown of
Agility 23k
Mastery 59%
Crit strike 39%
Haste 1.9%
Leach 1.25%
Versatility 0.78%
Avoidance 4%
Movement speed 7
Item level for reference is about 848 with this gear set which chose a lot of older items obviously
** It's greatly possible that this whole stat priority is a big mistake for anything but trash in Mythic +++ dungeons

If I use DEFAULT Ask Mr Robot
Agility 20k
Mastery 34.7%
Crit Strike 41.8%
Haste 28.9%%
Leach 1.8%
Versatility 5%
Avoidance 0%
Move speed 7
This is about item level 850

This is the default set of Stat Weights that Ask Mr Robot has decided upon from using SimulationCraft with 840k item sets.    Granted this is going to probably make certain assumptions like you are hitting a single boss and not moving.  Which is only a small part of the picture for Feral Druid.

AMR Default Sat weights:
  • Atility 11.19
  • Critical Strike 8.04
  • Haste 7.79
  • Versatility 7.2
  • Mastery 6.76
  • Main Hand Damage 5.25
  • Leach 0.03
  • Avoidance 0.02
  • Movement speed 0.01
  • Off Hand Damage 0

Notice this is even different from Icy Veins suggested Feral Druid stat priority:
  • Agility
  • Mastery
  • Critical Strike
  • Versatility
  • Haste
* Icy Veins also says their stats have been obtained by combining simulations using Simulation Craft but also common sense and in-game testing.

In conclusion or tldr;
  1. Purrfessor's stats and gear choice model more icy veins than default Ask Mr Robot.
  2. It is easy to change Gear Strategy in AMR to model different gear strategy, and if Purrfessor's turns out to be better for aoe trash it's worth considcering.
I am tending to agree with the high Mastery stacking, plus enough Crit to keep combo points coming. With the Ashamane's Bite trait that grants a shadow rip on your target, the higher our bleed damage is, the higher that shadow is. Mastery also buffs the bleed from Ashamane's Frenzy. Vers adds damage, but not as much per point as Mastery does (since our white damage and FB have always been garbage, buffing those doesn't help much). Haste is tricky; I've never felt like it does anything for us but I've also never stacked enough for it to show.
Hmm. Since I've started playing Feral again, I should do more research on Feral Haste. Crit (for example) increase DPS and DPE (Damage Per Energy), and enough will start to really alter your typical rotation through the additional combo points it generates.

Haste has several possible impacts for Feral. I believe Haste increases Energy gain rates, so unless you're regularly pooling energy at cap (e.g. to ensure you refresh a Bleed at the right time), that will help. I'm not sure if they altered Bleed duration to keep the rotation the same, or if they just increase tick frequency without altering total duration so more Haste would allow an extra attack before refreshing a bleed. That is -- Haste is definitely an increase to DPS on those DoTs, and might double dip (as it does for HoTs) and also increase DPE. Also not sure if they extended the GCD reduction changes to Feral, allowing Haste to further reduce the GCD below the previous 1 second lower bound. If so, Haste could also increase Burst DPS (at the risk of hitting latency limits for pushing buttons too quickly). If it does all of those, Haste has several interactions that make it... and interesting stat to consider, difficult to model, and have some definite hard breakpoints and caps where it modifies your rotation. I suspect Haste will remain one of the stats where the theory crafters essentially give up and guides will say "get enough until your rotation feels 'good', then move to Mastery or Crit".

Sidenote: I'd almost never advocate stacking a single stat to the complete exclusion of others, as ends up happening when using some of these tools where a full variety of personalized gear is available. Typically, the diminishing returns kick in quickly enough that you'd get more by building a little more closely to even. As many posts on various forums will say, if you ask about this, the best people run their own sims on *each* piece of gear as they get it, with their existing gear as a base, to figure out if it's an upgrade. That is, each piece of new gear you put on will alter your stat weights slightly. Eventually, a different stat will become more valued (or valued enough that what isn't an upgrade by the static stat weights would be an upgrade for you personally). The static analysis from AMR (and similar Best-in-Bag type systems) fails to account for that properly. That said, a few specs are so wildly out of whack right now, such that Secondary Stats occasionally are still more valued than even Primary stats (meaning lower ilvl gear can be better than significant higher ilvl pieces) -- but it doesn't look like Feral is one of them, given the AMR static weights being so close, and with none over Agility.
I prompted a bit more discussion on another thread.  A Feral named Cátdaddy who posted some high parses replied regarding the build above with respect to Ferals on Mythic+++
Quote:The build he [Zoopagoo] linked (Pred/SR) sacrifices very little Single target damage and, in many cases, (any boss with regular adds---rokmora, oakheart, cragshaper, etc) will actually output more ST damage than an LI or BS build, provided you are aware of add spawns and can capitalize on TF resets.

That said, I would recommend taking LI/SotF for higher M+, the word higher is somewhat subjective based on your group's gear and experience but once trash stops vaporizing and giving constant TF resets SotF outputs enormous cleave damage, think 500k+ on 3+ targets while only sacrificing 6-7% single target damage.

From my experience in the 250+ m+ I have done, basically all of them in feral; there's basically 3 builds you can take:

  1. The first is the conventional Predator/Stampeding Roar, Very good in lower affixes when adds are constantly dying giving lots of Tigers Fury uptime.
  2. Second is LI [Lunar Inspiration]/SotF [Soul of the Forest - causes your finishing moves to grant 12 Energy per Combo Point spent] ---See above [in thread linked here]
  3. Finally Brutal Swipe/Incarnation:KotJ has its place when pushing records at low keystones or just doing regular M0 where you can expect bosses to die in 30 sec or so, your burst damage with incarn is absolutely mental, think 700k+ on single target.

So a couple other fun talent strategies to play with there.