Druid Feral/Levelling Talents

From US forums, sticky by Jaegor:

Guide for Feral/Leveling spec post-1.8 (v. 2.2)

As of July 25, 2006 (Patch 1.11.2) this guide is up to date, relevant, and (to the best of my knowledge) accurate for those interested in the Feral tree. My account lapses at the end of July, at which time I will no longer be updating this guide. Lissanna has offered to repost it on the new forums, with my blessing.

-Jaegor, 60 Feral Druid, Dark Iron, Panda Attack

Updated 5/25/06 How to rebind your Shapeshift Keys
Updated 4/27/06 for links and Druid Speeds
Updated 1/3/06 for Improved Shred debate
Updated 12/22/05 to confirm Druid formulas and Savage Fury info.
Updated 12/20/05 to include Junto’s Pure Grinding Build upfront, as well as some minor talent reassessments.
Updated: 12/13/05 now includes additional equipping information as well as various druid formulas

This guide is applicable for those interested in the 14/32/5, 0/30/21, 0/20/31, or any of the many variations thereof. It is specifically geared towards balancing build construction between PvE and PvP needs, without the need for respeccing. It will also present the most effective builds at the upper levels of the lower BGs. Balance druids should look elsewhere, check out Stians posts for his results with the moonkin build. This guide was made to address the major changes in the druid talent trees in patch 1.8.

The first thing to understand is that feral is the most efficient tree for grinding. Manaless damage means less downtime for drinking or healing, which means more time for exp. Speccing as a primary healer for instance runs may net you more xp/hr, but that is not what this guide is for.

1. Starting out: Initial point placement.
2. Branching out: Finding your desired spec
3. Talent Builds
4. Low level BG advice
5. Q&A

Starting out:
So you just hit level 10 and got your bear form and first talent point. Congratulations! But where to place that first talent point for maximum benefit?

Feral tree: Ferocity (-5 rage/energy for Maul/Swipe/Claw/Rake)
10-14 5/5 Ferocity
By lowering the cost for your primary attack, you just increased your DPS by a significant amount. At this level, there are no talents to use Furor with, IMotW is a waste (see Q&A), and remember, Feral is more efficient that Balance.

15-16 2/2 Brutal Impact (+1s stun for Bash and Pounce)
What? Why? Because you will now have a 3s stun instead of the normal 2s. This should be enough to allow you to get an emergency Bash-> Regrowth or Root off, or save that silly clothies life by stunning the mob for an extra second. This becomes markedly better with higher ranks of Bash.

17-19 3/5 Feral Instinct (+stealth in catform and +9% threat generation in bear form oint)
But I dont even have catform yet!?! But you will, and you will spend a lot of time in it. The first rule for rogues and kitties is not to be seen. Each level of FI adds roughly 0.6 a level of stealth. Thus, with three ranks of FI, you will stealth as if you were 2 levels higher than you are. Nelfs Shadowmeld grants them a passive bonus to stealth as if they add an additional point in FI. Bears will also enjoy the +9% threat generation bonus. \

This leaves you as 0/10/0 for the 10-19 WSG. Please see the PvP section for tactics there.

20! Yay for catform!
Your next points will immediately go into:

20-21 2/2 Feline Swiftness (+30% to run speed while outdoors or while prowling)
This is the reason you put your first ten points into Feral. Increased runspeed means decreased travel time -> higher exp gain. It also allows you to outrun those youre chasing or being chased by. As an additional bonus, only the fastest mobs you run past will be able to get more than one shot on you as you run by. (Known bug: If at anytime you go indoors you will lose the FS bonus and will not regain it when going outside. You must reshift again once outside for the bonus to return.)

22 1/1 Feral Charge (Charge an enemy 8-25 yds away, interrupting the spell they were casting and immobilizing them for 4s)
One of the best talents available to druids. This should be a keystone of any druid build as it allows many different options when paired with 5/5 Furor. You can engage an enemy from a distance, stop a runner/flag carrier, interrupt a spellcaster, or use it as an escape tool (target a mob/critter/player 8-25yds distant and charge).

As stated, Feral Charge is best when it can be used right away so . . . .

23-27 5/5 Furor (100% chance to generate 10 rage/40 energy when shifting)
The 10 rage is invaluable for bear form (see Feral Charge) and makes building combo points with cat that much easier. Instant Claw/Rake or wait a tic for a shred.

2. Branching Out

At this point you are level 28 and 0/13/5. Here is the first main division between builds. If you are planning an x/x/31 build, it would be advisable to spend the next 16 pts in Resto for Natures Swiftness. If you are considering a build with any points in Balance (14/32/5 or 1/29/21, etc) the next point should be spent in Natures Grasp. For a mere 1 pt, the return is excellent. This would leave you at either 1/14/5 or 0/13/6 for the 20-29 BGs.

I would suggest that anyone going for ~30 pts in Feral should spend their next 16 pts there simply to get HotW filled out as early as possible. 0/30/21 druids might spend those 16 points in Resto for Natures Swiftness as well. It really becomes a matter of choice and depends a lot on what your preferred method of leveling is. Again, Feral provides the most efficient leveling, while Balance will eventually give you additional tools (Natural Weapons/Natural Shapeshifter), and Resto will give you a panic button (Natures Swiftness)

Key Talents in:

Natures Grasp/Imp. Natures Grasp (100% chance to insta root your attacker)
Excellent points spent. Useful to get away from rogues, warriors, and hunter pets (NG pet, shift bear and charge hunter)

Natural Weapons (+10% physical damage in forms)
This applies to all of your white damage, and will raise your special damage as well.

Natural Shapeshifter (-30% mana cost for shifting)
Excellent for a feral druid with a small mana pool, even with HotW.

Sharpened Claws (+6% crit)
Significant damage increase. Crits are where its at.

Predatory Strikes (+150%xLevel AP)
More AP is always good. Remember, Hit Small = Crit Small. Plus, it is necessary for . . .

HotW (+20% int in caster, sta in bear, and str in cat)
Possibly the best talent druids get. Note that this will actually get better as your equipment improves, thus why it is so nice to get early.

Savage Fury (+20% damage to Maul/Swipe/Claw/Rake)
Increases the total damage on your common specials. Could be replaced by Improved Shred based on playstyle.

Feral Faerie Fire (Instant armor debuff for 40s, target cannot stealth/turn invisible)
Its free. F-R-E-E. Thats right it doesnt cost rage/energy. It generates hate for PvE, it annoys rogues PvP, and generally makes things easier to kill. With only 6s cool down it can be spammed to maintain aggro on one target.

Natures Focus (70% chance not to be interrupted while casting)
Good choice for PvP/PvE at early levels, but Barkskin can act as a good substitute after the mid-40s.

Improved Healing Touch (-0.5s cast on HT)
Good for our slow as molasses heals, and necessary for . . .

Natures Swiftness (Your next nature spell is instant cast)
Right up there with HotW for best talent druids get. If you are putting 21+ into the resto tree, this is the milestone.

Insect Swarm (DoT and 2% chance to hit)
DoT, damage mitigation, and it stacks with moonfire. Very nice.

Innervate (+400% mana regeneration for 20s)
Somewhere up there with Natures Swiftness and HotW, this is often considered by the uninformed to be the only worthwhile talent available to druids. Yes, it is very good. Yes, if you are putting 31+ into resto you will be getting this talent. Yes, you will be able to make priests jump around like dogs begging for a treat with this. No it is NOT necessary for endgame healing.

3. Talent Builds

14/32/5 (Cat Spec)
Strict DPS build. Good for PvP/PvE endgame.

14/32/5* (Bear Spec)
Can be adapted for more points in Thick Hide or Imp. Enrage. Generally good for a MT spec. May consider dropping Nat Shift for Imp Thorns for additional damage. May also consider Imp Enrage.
MT spec: http://www.wowhead.com/talent/?MzLV0oZxxxscMdtV0b
Full FI/TH and Imp Enrage. No Nat shifter, no bash (mobs are immune).

0/30/21 (Hybrid spec)
Natures Swiftness is key. Geared more for Cat. Can be adapted for IMotW, Reflection, or Thick Hide. Also good for PvP.

*/*/31 (Innervate/Feral Spec)
My best guess, designed for survivability. This spec is not really Feral, but you will probably still start with your primary points in Feral. Just substitute 3/5 TH for 3/5 FI in the talent progression and fill it out later. 5/5 IMotW for 5/5 Furor, and immediately after 2/2 Imp Enrage for a poor man’s Furor. Feel free to post better ideas, because Im sure there are better specs out there.

My current build:
I like tanking, and like doing it in level 60 instances (no where near geared for Raids yet). My previous spec had a bit of difficulty holding aggro, so I dropped Natural Shifter for 2 more points in Feral Instinct and 1 pt in Imp Enrage.

The following is a Pure Grinding Build, orignally posted by Junto later in this thread, designed to maximize XP gain, with little regard for PvP utility. Many common talents are missing, because they are not needed for a pure grinding build. You would have to respec out of this once you reach a level where you wish to PvP.

Q u o t e:

I disagree with the OP.

Ideal spec for grinding should maximize damage and minimize downtime.

Points should be spent this way:

[5]Thick Hide (I chose feral instinct, but this is a better choice for minimizing damage).
[2]Feline Swiftness
[3]Sharpened Claws
[3]Predatory Strikes (rip isn’t worth it when the enemies die to quickly for the dot to justify the energy cost; the combo point talent isn’t worth it until you pick up ferocious bite)
[2]Blood Frenzy (you’re nearing 32)
[1]Faerie Fire (for pulling without needing to shift)
[2]Savage Fury (lil’ bit of extra dps)
[2]Improved Shred
[5]Heart of the Wild
[1]Leader of the Pack

[1] Nature’s Grasp
[4] Improved Nature’s Grasp (even I mess up sometimes :P)
[5] Natural Weapons

Back to Feral:
[5] Feral Instinct

Last five points are personal choice. You’re in the home stretch and are probably getting ready to respect to a group oriented build for instances.

If you’re grinding, you should only have to shift out for a heal every 3-5 mobs. Furor is not good for grinding, though it’s a good PVP talent.

Fight green and low yellow mobs depending on how efficiently you’re doing at your particular level.

Use an XP/hour counter.

At levels 25-30, questing more than halves my druid’s XP/hour. Not worth it.

Try to xp grind on mobs with things you can AH. Cloth is good and will help you finance your STR gear.

Max out on STR gear and get STR enchants where you can. You don’t need mana, you don’t need health (just be careful about adds, also bring +STA food), or anything else. Drop into Cat and kill, kill, kill.

4. Low level BGs

10-19 WSG
You can play! Have fun! Just remember that you are still primarily a caster. You dont have cat form, and your bear damage stinks. (I had trouble meleeing a mage in bear form) I suggest tossing heals liberally, followed by roots, hibernating druids/hunter pets, and tapping people (ONCE!) with MF/FF. Remember to hold enough mana to shift bear.

20-29 BGs
You will probably never see an AV at this level. 10-19 advice still applies, but remember you have increased survivability at this level with bear, as well as additional DPS in catform. I find its best to stay hidden as long as possible in cat while the battle develops, then shred some backside or tossing some heals/roots. Watch your mana pool because it isnt the greatest. Always leave enough to shift for escapes.

Try to use your forms to their advantages. Dont stay in one forever. Utilize catspeed for mobility, as the only ones on the battlefield that are faster than you are Shamans in ghost wolf form. You have Feral charge to close the distance.

Moonfire spam: DONT!*

*unless it will leave the target dead and allow your team an advantage. (eg. Spamming the turtling flag carrier down in WSG to allow your team to cap the flag.)

5. Q&A
Q: Why not put your first five points in Imp MotW?
A: Because despite the 1.35xMotW is a minimal gain at that level for the points invested.

MotW (Rank 2) base
65 AC, 2 to all stats

IMotW (Rank 2) (available at level 14)
88AC (+23), 3 to all stats (+1)

+23 AC, and +1 stats is simply not worth 5 talent points compared to the other options available.

MotW (Rank 10) base
285 AC, 12 stats, 20 resist

IMotW (Rank 10) (available at L60)
385 AC (+100), 16 stats (+4), 27 resists (+7)

The only time this is worth the 5 talent points is if you are a) DEEP in the resto tree, b) heavily involved in PvE raiding. In PvP the buff will get purged/cleansed or your target will die. For druids that are primarily feral/pvp, 5/5 Furor will be much more valuable for its effectiveness with cat/bear.

Q: What about 1 point in Improved Shred???
Example: assume full starting energy and 5/5 Ferocity
Energy used total(tics required)
——Regular —–1/2—- 2/2
Shred –60——–54 —– 48
Shred –120(1)— 108(1)– 96(0)
Rake —155(3)— 143(3)– 131(2)
Rip —-190(5)– 178(4)– 166(4)

EDIT: Ok, that formatting blows. Looked fine when I wrote it out.

Essentially, the energy returns over time start to equalize. However, the initial attack sequence of Shred>Shred has no benefit from 1/2 Imp Shred.

If you were to substitute Claw (40 energy) for Rake, it would look even worse for 1/2 Imp Shred because the cost for an additional attack after the Claw would require the same number of ticks for energy as unimproved shred.

Basically Improved Shred is one of those talents that needs to have 2/2 to have an effect.

Q: Why didnt you include Omen of Clarity/Leader of the Pack as a key talent?
A: Because I (emphasis on I) dont consider it to be. For the most part those are gimme talents that are taken for the relatively high return on investment (1pt). I personally am still on the fence about OOC, due to reports about its low proc rate. LotP is nice, but there may be other, more fitting talents out there. I believe HotW is Ferals best talent, not LotP.

Q: Why not spec x/x/x instead?
A: The guides posted above are merely guides to give you an idea of what some people consider cookie cutter specs, but the best spec will always be the one that fits YOUR playing style the best. Feel free to adapt them as needed.

Q: What about Talent:X?
A: Feel free to post questions about why x over y. I will try to respond, and if there are enough questions, I will include a review on all talents as part of the guide. Keep in mind that this guide is geared for a balance between PvE/PvP, and the order I chose talents reflects that.

Q: Why didnt you post your build?
A: Because Im level 25! 😀 Yes thats right, and this is my first character EVAR! I dont even know what my endgame spec is! (I do know it through 28, if you dont, then you should re-read the guide)

Q: OMFG! N00B! U R n0t 60! STFU/GTFO!
A: Very succinctly put. However, Ive been lurking on the boards for quite sometime now, reading informative threads, and watching the posted videos. I believe my guide to be the most efficient there is. I also happen to think its a lot of fun. Feel free to disagree with anything Ive written.

Q: Sir, you are both a gentleman and a scholar! How can I help inform others?
A: Bump the guide, post responses, or link this post to those with questions.

Q: What kind of cake do you like?
A: Chocolate with vanilla icing.

Appendix from the Guide for Young Feral Druids.

Personally, I would put 11-14 points into balance right after getting feline swiftness. OOC is a very good tool for healing, dps, and tanking alike – and the extra 10% damage will be welcome. Id just shove those points in between feline swiftness and furor Bovie
I know it’s getting out of the “young” range, but this is definitely worth mentioning…

Once you hit level 30, hop right on over the the AH and pick up the Green Whelp Armor chestpiece. There is *nothing* that works better for soloing/tanking for a good number of levels to come. For those of you unfarmiliar with this armor, every time a melee mob hits you (normal and special attacks), there is a 5% chance that the mob will fall asleep for 30 seconds. Just make sure if you’ve picked up multiple mobs, get rid of your thorns (as they tend to break the sleep affect instantly). ^_^

Edit: Also great for PvP. Nothing’s funnier than watching the rogue that was beating on you take a quick cat nap. Heal up, throw farie fire on him (pretty sure this won’t break sleep), give him a hug, go cat/stealth and either leave or turn Mr. Rogue into your new cat toy. – Illiyana

Savage Fury is a higher priority than Imp Shred since it effects a variety of our abilities instead of just one. You could probably easily put off Imp Shred until the end. It’s a great talent for a specific skill but lacks the overall utility of a lot of the others. In fact, you may pass on Imp Shred altogether. If you find you’re tanking a lot more than playing in cat then those 2 points may be better spent in a talent that more directly impacts bear form. (Thick Hide or Primal Fury, if you don’t already have it, for example.) – Aerodineth

1. As a young feral druid you must keep the cower skill in your toolbar, especially if you invest any points feral instinct. Coming from experience of off DPSing in cat form pre-1.8 to now, I’ve had to rediscover cower the hard way. Learn to use your cower, a well timed cower can be the difference between life and death.

2. Gear well! For casting/healing for instances grab all the eagle/owl gear you can but also make a nice set of bear/tiger/monkey for your feral rampage.

3. Learning to play a 11-14/30-33/5 build takes time, you must know when to heal and when to run. Spec’ing for a feral/resto build might not be a bad choice – then respec post lvl 40. You’ll be doing a lot in cat form then once you get dire bear becomes a valuable tool in your arsenal. Nothing saved me more (pre 1.8) than Natures Grasp and Nature’s swiftness. Both are arguably “crutch” skills – you can play without but they are worth looking into. But a talent like Nature’s Focus is very valuable, I don’t have it but I often bash-heal or use bark skin (which really doesn’t do a lot in PvP). 😉

And if you spec feral go at least 30 points and get Heart of the Wild. Easily one of the druids best talents!

Savage Fury > Imp. Shred (Shred is nice, especially PvE or PvP once you get in the habit of staying behind an opponent)

Equipping for PvP:

Druids are heavily reliant on their gear to be able to perform whatever role theyve chosen. Whether you are Feral, Balance, or Restoration, you will be significantly less effective compared to a well-geared druid if you do not carefully select your equipment. Most high level Druids carry at the very least two equipment sets on them at all times (Feral and Healing) with some carrying as high as seven (with some cross over items). To make it easier to manage your gear, look for the Wardrobe add-on which will let you easily select your desired equipment.

Feral PvE:
Primarily STR/STA/AGI/INT. STR has a direct effect on your Attack Power, while stamina keeps you alive longer. In all forms, AGI will give you more crit% (1% = 20AGI), as well as a AC and Dodge bonus. Do not completely neglect your INT stat, so that you have mana available for emergency heals (for yourself or others).

Healing PvE:
Yes, even as a Feral Druid, you will be called on to heal perhaps more often than you would like. Primary stats INT/STA/SPI. You should still try to maintain a reasonable HP/Mana balance because a dead healer does no one any good. Do not be afraid to throw a couple of cloth pieces in if the stat increase is worthwhile. Also, do not be afraid do drop to bear form if needed. You will still get the higher stamina and AC bonus, allowing you to hold out longer than you would as a caster.

Feral PvP
STA/INT/STR/AGI. Stamina is by far the most important stat in PvP since it will keep you alive. INT is also important, though it may not be second, I want you to remember it. A balance of HP/Mana is required to maintain flexibility, as well as be able to shift in and out of snares. STR/AGI apply just as in PvE.

Healing PvP
Similar to healing PvE, but you might want to throw on a few more STA pieces, just to keep your HP up. It would be wise to stay away from cloth as well, because the INT increase probably wont make up for the loss in STA and AC.

The following are important formulas:

1 str = 2AP
With HotW (in cat form) 1 str = 2.4 AP
1 AGI = 1 AP cat form only
14 AP = 1dps

20 AGI = 1% melee crit
20AGI = 1% dodge
1AGI = 2AC

1 STA = 10 HP (w/ HotW bear = 12)
1 INT = 15 Mana (w/ HotW = 18)

Spirit mana regen = spirit/5 +15
Spell crit 59.5 int = 1%
(spell crit confirmed by Tseric in the following mage forum post: http://forums.worldofwarcraft.com/thread.aspx?fn=wow-mage&t=559324&s=blizzard&tmp=1#blizzard)

Other info

Dire Bear and Moonkin armor is calculated as 460% of items (agi bonus, armor kits, and enchants are not included in this calculation) This can be raised to 506% with 5/5 Thick Hidea

Weapon procs listed “on hit” (eg. Crusader/Fiery)do NOT proc in forms (moonkin aside). Trinkets/armor that are listed as “on hit” DO proc in forms (Maelstrom, Elementals decks).
+Atk speed enchants DO work in forms.

When looking for Feral weapons, go for those with the best stats, not necessarily the best DPS, because weapon DPS matters SQUAT when in forms. You aren’t using the weapon itself, but you still get the stat bonuses.

Best Enchants:
Tanking Weapon – +25 Agi
DPS Weapon – +25 Agi
Healing – +heal
Casting – INT
Regen – spirit for mana regen

In the event you are poor like me, the Iron Counterweight (+3% attack speed) DOES work for druids in forms, and is a good alternative on weapon that doesn’t deserve an end game enchant.

Best PvE Raid setup for healers = 3 weapons
Start – high int with +int enchant
Heal through your bonus int
Swap – high heal with +heal enchant
Heal til you need to regen
Swap – high spi with +spi enchant
switch back to +heal

Druid Speed( what stacks with what)

How to rebind your Shapeshifting Keys
Your shapeshifting keys are default bound to ctrl-F1 through ctrl-F4. Not the most comfortable position for most people.

To rebind them in the default Interface:
Special Action Buttons 1-4

Bind them as you will.

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