Feral – Cat

4.3 Cat Survival Guide

November 15, 2011

Update: Removed Kiroptyric Sigil (E410), recognizes that Glyph of Bloodletting is useless, corrected Starcatcher Compass iLevels, added Vial of Shadows

A new expansion is almost upon us, so we can have a look at the changes that affect us (not much) and what we need to do to adapt to the changes (not much).

  1. The 10% Attack Power raid buff will be increased to 20%. This is supposed to close the gap between melee and ranged DPS that is very apparent for several bosses with movement. A nice little boost. Not going to change much for what we do except Agility increases its lead over the secondary stats.
  2. 2x Tier 13 bonus allows Blood in the Water to be used at under 60% instead of 25%, which is a substantial DPS boost. This will cause a slight shift in stat value from mastery rating in favour of critical strike rating and haste rating.
  3. 4x Tier 13 bonus allows Stampede to be activated whenever Tiger’s Fury is used. Note that with this bonus, there is now a slight change in our priority – You must now spend your Stampede buff (if it is up) BEFORE activating Tiger’s Fury.
  4. Both Tier bonuses combined will increase the value of Glyph of Tiger’s Fury to become better than Glyph of Bloodletting, but ONLY if you are not using Ancient Petrified Seed or the newer Kiroptyric Sigil trinket. This is because a huge part of the trinkets value come from being able to synchronize the trinket’s cooldown with Tiger’s Fury’s cooldown.
  5. Glyph of Shred has become Glyph of Bloodletting, and now works for both Mangle and Shred. The intention of this change is to reduce the penalty whenever we are forced to Mangle instead of Shred. Unfortunately, even with this change, Glyph of Bloodletting is still inferior to Glyph of Berserk, Glyph of Mangle and Glyph of Rip for mangle-spam encounters (Hi Ultraxion!), so this change really does nothing for us. This has been tested with 4T12, 2T12+2T13 and 4T13.

Rough trinket rankings, based on known data. May change before patch is released (especially since we think Vial of Shadows is overpowered and will be nerfed)

  1. Vial of Shadows (E410), Wrath of Unchaining (E416)
  2. Vial of Shadows (E397)
  3. Wrath of Unchaining (E403)
  4. Vial of Shadows (E384)
  5. Wrath of Unchaining (E390), Starcatcher Compass (E410)
  6. Starcatcher Compass (E397)
  7. Kiroptyric Sigil, Matrix Restabilizer (E397)
  8. Matrix Restabilizer (E384), Starcatcher Compass (E384), Ancient Petrified Seed, The Hungerer (E391)

Special thanks to Yawning and Mihir for the help with the information above.

First of all, it’s a Saturday Night.  Not only were we told the PTR would go up soon, but we’ve now just gotten the news on the T13 bonuses for everybody.  It’s a Saturday night.  I was expecting a nice quiet night of leveling more druids (because we all know I’m a little crazy), but no.

What the hell?

Whatever.  Ok.

As if you haven’t seen this listed around enough, I’m going to list the bonuses here too!  Just in case you don’t have eyes… and now somehow you do.

  • Feral 2pc – While Berserk is active, Savage Defense absorbs are 100% larger, and your Blood in the Water talent now causes Ferocious Bite to refresh the duration of your Rip on targets with 60% or less health.
  • Feral 4pc – Frenzied Regeneration also affects all raid and party members, and your Stampede talent now grants two charges after using Feral Charge (Cat)

Time to break it down:

2pc Bear – I can’t imagine that Berserk will stay as it is right now.  Not only is 25 second Berserk too powerful a duration in various settings, its cooldown is too long for 2pc to have any consistent value.  Choosing when to use Berserk with that long of a CD would make it very tedious, and heaven forbid we mess it up because it ain’t comin back until half the fight has gone by (or it’s nearly over).  It also wouldn’t make sense for it to consider the Lacerate Berserk procs to be the buff they mean (they are the same name) since we tend to use Mangle within the next GCD.

Double the Savage Defense size.  Assuming they overhaul berserk, this could be quite interesting.  At face value, as I have not gone too far into theorycrafting this, this could raise Agility’s importance.  It could also change how we value Mastery.  Knowing what they choose to do with Berserk, if anything, will give a better picture and starting block for crunching numbers.

4pc Bear – Frenzied Regen, while it is often used as an Oh Shit cooldown, is one of those things that we don’t usually have to worry about.  As such, it doesn’t seem all that hurtful for us to withhold using it and saving it as a raid CD.  Depending on how it interacts with the Glyph, it would seem to be an incredibly potent raid CD, seeing as Cataclysm is the World of AoEcraft.  Does the glyph affect it?  Will Frenzied Regen actually grant the extra HP this time around?  Or is it just a Rallying Cry without the healing bonus?

Oh, and if you haven’t already figured this out, Feral DPS have access to this.  Consider that for a moment.

PTR Please

2pc Cat – Uh.  Hi.  My name is execute range for over half the fight, how are you?  And yes, you’re reading it incorrectly.  You do not need Berserk up for Blood in the Water to go into effect.  Execute range is being raised to 60%.  Good Game, Ferals.

4pc Cat – Erm.  Okay?  This feels like the 2pc Bonus, and the 2pc should be the 4pc.  I don’t really understand the reasoning behind this bonus, unless they intend to riddle Dragon Soul fights with lots target swapping and lots of required mobility.  Or get rid of the Min. range for Cat Charge (seriously, I miss that).  Shrug.

Also, Frenzied Regen raid CD.  Probably need to stay in Bear, so it’ll be a DPS loss, but good job giving 1 DPS TWO raid cooldowns.  (2/2 NI Tranq + Frenzied = Lol I win?)  I almost wonder if they considered the implications of this set bonus.

 

Now, on to the rest of the post.  Paladin, Warrior and Druid 2pc bonuses are all minor forms of active mitigation.  Revenge is up all the time, thanks to CTC, Judgement is on a short Cooldown, Berserk will likely be remade (I hope)… all of these imply the changes to come in forcing tanks to choose when to use their abilities for extra mitigation.  Now, to obviously get the most smoothed out damage reduction, they will be used on CD at all times.  But we all know there will be periods of high damage, perhaps forcing the tanks to think twice about using the necessary abilities.  If this is the direction they hope to move in, to prep us, it doesn’t seem so bad.

Consider this, however; Blizzard is unintentionally pigeonholing all progression guilds to gear out their Tanks and Feral DPS first to have those potent raid CDs as soon as possible.

And for heaven’s sake, the PTR needs to go up.  Now.

Swipe damage doubled. Kthxbai.

Yep, that’s about it. Looks pretty short compared to Reesi’s Bear Survival Guide to Patch 4.1, but that’s all that Blizzard has given to cats this patch. Well, we don’t need hit anymore to Skull Bash successfully, which is also pretty nice. So with this buff, we will likely be more competitive when it comes to AE DPS, and we should start using Swipe with less targets available to swipe. I haven’t been able to theorycraft at how many targets it would be worth switching over from tab dotting, but my gut feeling is 3 is a good number to start swiping.

There’s been some concerns that this change seems to good to be true and it is due a nerf, but I don’t really see it that way. Many other classes also received AE buffs, so this is definitely part of a larger AE DPS balancing. Nerfing this change would likely require nerfing all the other classes too, so I’d have to assume the developers have tested the new numbers and are more or less happy with them.. for now.

The Feral State of DPS, pre-4.1, was not as bad as some would like us to believe. Yes, according to few WOL ranking aggregator sites out there we are at the bottom of the melee pile, but it’s reallly not that bad since the entire melee pile is all within 5% of each other, meaning the melee DPS as a whole is fairly well balanced. A 5% difference between the top and the bottom is actually pretty good considering Blizzard’s track record. Of course, the big issue is the huge difference between the ranged and melee pile, which is a far bigger problem Blizzard needs to look at. With the Swipe change, I’d expect Feral Cats to close the 5% gap slightly. I’m concerned though, that some ranged DPS are also receiving AE buffs, which is likely to widen the gap between the ranged and the melee pile.

With the 4.1 release also comes a new release of Mew, updated to Mew-20110425. Major changes since last release:

  • Simulation Progress Bar updates now throttled to reduce system resource overhead
  • (4.1) Berserk is now off the GCD
  • Leafkiller’s optimized Cat Strategy is now available in Samples/universal1.script (please read this before using it)
  • Simulations now generates a Report Output, which can be copy and pasted

We have created a Google Discussion Group as the official feedback and support forum for Mew. We will continue to keep an eye on a few other forums and on my blog, but not as frequently. Also when reporting results of your own Simulation runs, please copy and paste the entire Report Output (from the Report tab) in your post. This will allow us to analyze your results better.

My Cat DPS Guide on the main forum isn’t fully updated yet, will get to it ASAP.

Mew and RSVs

April 17, 2011

Mew was recently updated to 20110412 last week. These were the major changes:

  • Dark Intent’s periodic damage increase is now 1/2/3% per 4.1 PTR patch notes.
  • Interrupts are reliable per 4.1 patch notes.
  • Simulation is now the default model for all new profiles.
  • The Simulator now allows for casting Rebirth/Tranquility durring the encounter.
  • Furor and Predator’s Swiftness are now modeled by the Simulator.
  • Spell Vulnerability/Haste/Crit Taken are specifiable buffs/debuffs (Mostly used for Tranquility/Rebirth, also affects certain trinkets).
  • New Simulator script calls getBerserkBaseDuration(), getEncounterDuration(), getElapsedTime(), and isAutoAttackEnabled()
  • New Simulator script actions AUTOATTACK_START, AUTOATTACK_STOP.
  • The Simulator now expects the script to manage the swing timer.
  • Formulation no longer uses Ferocious Bite at all over 25% mob HP.
  • New option that will cause Mew to model Glyph of Shred as +1/1/2 ticks.
  • BUG: Change potion cooldown. (Was 60 sec is now 120 sec, no DPS impact for encounter durations worth modeling.)
  • BUG: Apply the ToTT multiplier to trinket sourced damage procs. (DMC:H is still sub-par compared to other options.)
  • BUG: Stampede buff duration is now always 8 sec regardless of the number of points in the talent.
  • Numerous other internal changes, please see the SVN commit logs if you are curious.

A couple more 4.1 changes has not made it in yet but are fixed within SVN: Dark Intent bonus reduced to 3%, and Berserk is off the GCD now. At the moment Yawning is looking at updating the Pivot UI to allow the use of the Mew Bear Simulations while I’m doing some work on improving the backend and writing a Chardev importer.

A few weeks ago, I’ve reported that Glyph of Berserk is now better than Glyph of Tiger’s Fury. We’ve since discovered that we could push a little more DPS by expending energy instead of pooling energy while Tiger’s Fury is up. This increases the value of the Glyph of Tiger’s Fury to the point where it gives slightly more DPS than Glyph of Berserk, but it is all very dependent on the duration of the encounter. Some encounter durations favor Glyph of Berserk, but overall, Glyph of Tiger’s Fury is a slight win. However, I would continue to recommend Glyph of Berserk over Glyph of Tiger’s Fury because of the extra utility it gives during encounters that feature burn phases – and the majority of encounters this tier do.

Recently, I’ve been seeing a lot of questions asked about the Relative Stat Values (RSV) produced by Mew. There has been weird RSV results obtained, and I’ve found that in just about all cases, this is caused by running Mew Simulation with insufficient iterations. The default 10k iterations is sufficient to test if one strategy is better than another, or if changing a piece of gear gives any improvement in performance. However, for the purpose of generating RSVs, I would recommend using 1 million iterations.

When Mew Simulation reports DPS results and RSV results, it gives the corresponding 95% confidence limits for the result too. For example if Mew reports “DPS: 22000.00 +/- 10.0″, it means that we are 95% confident that the true mean lies between 21990 and 22010. Running more iterations will reduce the error and give us a mean value that would be more accurate. Running 10k iterations, we are looking at RSVs having values like “Hit Rating: 0.9500 +/- 0.15″, and you can see that the error is unacceptably large to the point where it is being useless to compare against something like “Crit Rating: 1.05 +/- 0.15″. In order for Crit Rating is better than Hit Rating with statistical significance (95% confidence), the RSV measured for Crit Rating needs to be 0.15 * SQRT(2) = 0.212 more than that of Hit Rating. Increasing the number of iterations by 100 times to 1million will reduce the Error by 10 times, to ~0.015 requiring 0.0212 difference in RSV, which is far more acceptable.

We know that Mastery is the best secondary stat, so that will always be the priority. Haste and Critical Strike Rating are sort of the joint second-best, so with the help of Kurenin, I’ve prepared 3 different E359 BIS profiles: Haste Oriented, Crit Oriented, Balanced. These are the results:

Haste Oriented Crit Oriented Balanced Error
DPS 23491.0 23562.6 23528.8 +/- 1.2
Agility 3.023 3.021 3.021 +/- 0.016
Strength 2.266 2.280 2.274 +/- 0.016
Mastery Rating 1.140 1.178 1.162 +/- 0.016
Crit Rating 1.049 1.020 1.035 +/- 0.016
Haste Rating 0.944 1.094 1.160 +/- 0.016
Hit Rating 0.979 0.988 0.981 +/- 0.016
Expertise Rating 0.971 0.978 0.973 +/- 0.016

The error of +/- 0.016 means we require a difference of 0.023 to confirm (with 95% confidence) that one stat is statistically better than another stat.

The results of the Haste-Oriented Profile are not unexpected – Over-pushing Haste Rating causes the value of Haste Rating to fall even below the values of Hit Rating and Expertise Rating. In the Crit-Oriented Profile, Haste Rating’s value increases and is now better than Crit Rating while still belong lower than Mastery Rating.

It is the Balanced Profile that is giving surprising results. It would have been expected that the Balanced  Profile provides the highest DPS, where Haste Rating and Crit Rating should have similar values. Instead Haste Rating’s value has been pushed up to the point of being statistically similar as Mastery Rating, while the overall DPS has dropped to below that of the Crit-Oriented Profile.

This is all rather strange and I have not yet worked out the reason for this. It would probably take a few more profiles with varying levels of Crit/Haste balance to get a better picture, but this will take a lot to do. Furthermore I’ve just realized that the profiles had Glyph of Tiger’s Fury instead of Glyph of Berserk which may affect the results. Also, I’m using a newer (unreleased) version of Mew that has the 4.1 Berserk changes in. I’m also looking into testing E372 profiles too.

So much work, so little time….

The Hybrid Feral Guide

March 27, 2011

UPDATE 2012-01-10 – This guide is now considered OBSOLETE for 4.3 – Please visit the 4.3 Bearcat Guide instead

I had this article in draft for a few weeks, but Reesi’s latest post convinced me that I should finish it.

With the large change to the talent trees in Cataclysm, and the tree design focused around having less “compulsory talents” and more talent point remaining to take “optional utility talents”, it has actually made it viable for Feral Druids to have a talent build that covers almost all the necessary talents for both the Bear and the Cat role. This is because the “optional utility talents” are often the talents required to perform the other role.

The current “cookie cutter” cat build is here.
The current “cookie cutter” bear build is here.

Taking all the talents that are in both builds will require an additional 12 talent points over what is available to us, so we will need to look at candidate talents that can be dropped, and what talents are compulsory.

TLDR Version

This is the combination of Glyphs and Talents that I would recommend for a Hybrid Feral build. You will actually need to choose 2 out of these 4 talents for your build:

  1. Feral Aggression
  2. Infected Wounds
  3. Blood in the Water
  4. Brutal Impact.

The build I have linked chooses the last two, but depending on the needs of the raid you may need to swap in one or both of the first two.

The glyphs chosen are the typical combination used if you are doing both tanking and DPSing within the same fight. For pure Cat DPSing, or even for encounters where you switch roles, you may consider replacing Glyph of Maul with Glyph of Berserk. For pure tanking, you may consider switching in for the bear prime glyphs, but it would probably not make much of a difference.

Feral Tier 1

Feral Swiftness – Compulsory for Bears, optional but highly useful for cats. This makes this talent overall compulsory.

Furor - The only thing necessary about this talent is that you have to take at least 1 point in it to reach Tier 2. It is however, highly useful for both roles, especially if you are switching within the two roles during the encounter. This talent is taken mainly because we’re eliminating Predatory Strikes.

Predatory Strikes – Useless for bears, it’s also decent DPS boost for cats, however it is useless without the Stampede talent. This talent should therefore be dropped.

Feral Tier 2

Infected Wounds – Cats generally don’t take this talent, and for Bears it is seen as a necessary raid debuff. However several other classes provide this debuff too, and most of them get it baseline and do not have to spec for it. This makes this talent a candidate to be dropped depending on the needs of the raid.

Fury Swipes – Compulsory for Cats, it’s optional but very nice for Bears with the free threat and DPS coming from it making up approximately 10% of Bear DPS.

Primal Fury – Compulsory for Cats, it’s optional for bears since Rage generally isn’t an issue during raids, but it does help.

Feral Aggression – For Cats, this is a marginal DPS gain. For both, it increases quality of life. However, other people can provide the debuff, so depending on your raid makeup (are there warriors? or another feral druid?) you may not be required to put up this debuff. This talent is therefore a candidate to be dropped.

Feral Tier  3

King of the Jungle – Compulsory for Cats because of the large DPS boost. Bears generally don’t take this although there is some small benefit.

Feral Charge – You could probably do without this talent, but it represents such a huge qualify of life boost for 1 talent point for both Cats and Bears that it just feels compulsory.

Stampede – It’s a decent DPS increase for Cats with Predatory Strikes, but the DPS boost is not very significant. The threat boost for bears isn’t very significant. This talent should therefore be dropped.

Thick Hide – Compulsory for Bears. It’s a nice survivability boost for Cats to make up for the loss of Nurturing Instinct.

Feral Tier 4

Leader of the Pack – Compulsory for both. Sure, someone else in the raid could provide it, but this is one talent point.

Brutal Impact – Almost compulsory. Encounters are designed around having tanks being able to interrupt every 10 seconds. You may be able to get away with not having this talent if you raid 25 man and have sufficient melee DPS (and/or shamans). For 10 man it is pretty much compulsory.

Nurturing Instinct – Useless for bears, very useful for cats. Unfortunately we’ll have to drop this to have sufficient talent points, but this is made up by having Thick Hide and Perseverance.

Feral Tier 5

Primal Madness – Terrible DPS talents. Cats take this talent because it’s gives some miniscule DPS boost, but will be glad to have a reason to drop this talent, and having a Hybrid Feral build is the perfect reason.

Survival Instinct – Compulsory for Bears. Encounters are designed around the tank having this talent.

Endless Carnage – Compulsory for Cats, and a significant qualify of life boost for bears.

Natural Reaction – Compulsory for Bears.

Feral Tier 6

Blood in the Water – Almost compulsory for cats. It is a significant DPS boost, but smaller than all the mentioned ‘compulsory’ Cat talents. We try to keep this talent as much as possible, but may have to drop it if we are required by our raid to have other optional talents.

Rend and Tear – Compulsory for Cats. Decent threat and DPS boost for Bears too.

Pulverize – Compulsory for Bears. The boost to Critical Strikes is large enough that it plays a big part in increasing our Savage Defense uptime.

Feral Tier 7

Berserk – Compulsory for Both.

Restoration Tier 1

Natural Shapeshifter – Useless talent, but is a pre-requisite for Master Shapeshifter.

Heart of the Wild – Compulsory for Both.

Restoration Tier 2

Perseverance – Arguably compulsory for Bears, as it is one of our very few advantages we have over the other tank. Sure, we should theoretically be able to survive without this since other tanks don’t have it, but any talent that reduces incoming damage so significantly should be considered Compulsory.

Master Shapeshifter – Compulsory for Cats. Very nice for Bears too.

Prime Glyphs

Glyph of Rip – This is our biggest DPS increasing glyph, giving us ~3.5% DPS increase. Pretty much compulsory.

Glyph of Shred – This is out second biggest DPS increasing glyph, and ensures that we are able to keep Rip and Savage Roar up 100% of the time. Accounts for a ~2.2% DPS increase.

Glyph of Berserk – This glyph is joint 3rd best for cats, giving around ~1.0% DPS increase. Unlike Tiger’s Fury though, this one benefits Bears. I prefer this glyph over Tiger’s Fury because of it’s flexibility – I can use Berserk when it matters, e.g. during special burn phases.

Glyph of Tiger’s Fury – Joint 3rd best for cats, giving around ~1.0% DPS increase.

Glyph of Mangle – Well, it does benefit cats a little, ~0.2-0.3% depending on whether you are keeping up the 4xT11 bonus. This is huge for bears though since a large percentage of bear threat and DPS comes from Mangle (depending on the fight, anywhere from 20% to 35%). I choose this glyph over Glyph of Berserk because for pure bear tanking, you’d definitely want Glyph of Mangle. If Dust of Disappearances are cheaply available to you, then you should find yourself switching between this and Glyph and Berserk a lot.

Glyph of Lacerate – Increasing critical strike chance for less than half our GCD attacks by 10%, well it does increase our survivability somewhat, but it’s really not very noticeable. For a progression fight that you are tanking full-time, you may want to consider spending a Dust of Disappearance to glyph this.

Major Glyphs

Glyph of Frenzied Regeneration – Pretty much compulsory for tanking.

Glyph of Maul – It’s definitely a very good glyph for the cases where you need to tank more than one target at a time. Such situations are rarer in raids, but you’d want to have this when it occurs.

Glyph of Faerie Fire – A very useful quality of life glyph especially for pulling. You’ll be deciding between this and Glyph of Rebirth for the 3rd slot.

Glyph of Rebirth – Also a very useful glyph to ensure whoever you battle rez stays alive. You will choose this or Glyph of Faerie Fire.

Glyph of Feral Charge – A stable for pure cat builds, but since we won’t be having Stampede and Predatory Strikes, we don’t need this.