So I have an awesome druid friend who’s relearning the Way of the Kitteh, and rather than /whisperspamming “Oh, and I forgot about THIS part!” in the middle of a boss fight, I figured I’d just write it out. I’m concentrating on raiding DPS at the moment, since 1) that’s largely what I’ve been DOING on Rashona lately and 2) raiding DPS reflexes will serve perfectly well for solo grinding. (Y’know what? If you’re solo grinding, leave the cat gear on, go bear, and beat the tar out of six or seven mobs at once. It’s efficient and oddly therapeutic.)
The first thing, which I STILL sulk about, is that to maximize your DPS, you have to streamline your talent tree for kitty, kitty, kitty. I love the Swiss Army Knife nature of druids and am not happy about having to further specialize within a talent tree, but none of the hybrid-feral specs I tried out worked with my hyper-competitive perfectionist streak left me capable of what I know I can do. So currently, for cat-spec I’m running 0/55/16, with Furor, Naturalist, Omen of Clarity and the Natural/Master Shapeshifter talents in Resto.
So: actual raiding deeps.
The most obnoxious thing in an instance, as far as I’m concerned, is the AoE pack. Spiders in Naxxramas, XT’s buddies in Ulduar, and I tremble to think what they’ll be in Icecrown. Geists, probably, because geists squick the hell out of me and Blizzard clearly knows this.
Anyway. AoE packs are evil and nasty because they’re…well, boring. Swipe, swipe, pop Tiger’s Fury to fill your bar back up, swipe, swipe, and then wait for your energy to regenerate while praying for a Clearcast to break the boredom. It feels horrendously inefficient. It is horrendously inefficient, but you’re still going to be dishing out more hurt than you would if you stood back and Hurricaned with your no-spellpower-havin’ feral self. (If you want to get fancy, on scattered pulls like the Razorscale dwarves, you can build up a couple of combo points on something while the tanks are manuevering your targets into position, then pop a Savage Roar before going to town with the swipe. 30 percent more damage is FUN.) If there’s time before a boss pull, by all means drop Berserk and REALLY dig in, as long as you have an AoE tank you trust.
Then there’s multi-mob trash – two-to-five pulls that are tougher than the little AoE packs. My rule of thumb with those is to swipe if there’s three or more, and whittle down the smaller pulls the same way you would in an instance. For maximum efficiency (or padding the DPS meters, take your pick), I will usually use Ferocious Bite as a finisher if the mob’s at 35% health or less, just because it’s not likely to last long enough for me to build up another round of combo points. That’s not a hard-and-fast number at all, just what I’m used to; my experience running with the Anvil is that 35 percent is when the mob just starts to dissolve. And there are few things I hate more than standing there with a dead mob with four combo points on its icon. Shedding on it just doesn’t give you that same feeling of satisfaction, somehow.
Then, there’s bosses, AKA “sharpen your claws and settle in for the long haul”. Once you strip away all the bells and whistles and gimmicks of each particular boss, it’s pretty simple: 1. Keep Savage Roar up on yourself at all times. 2. Keep Rip up on whatever face you are currently nomming. If you have enough combo points sitting around between 1 and 2 expiring, drop a Ferocious Bite here and there. (A word about Ferocious Bite: I like it. I really, really like it. There’s just something about seeing a big yellow 15000 float up above me that fills my soul with glee. BUT on a long fight, it’s fairly inefficient. I generally only use it on three or four points at the most, and only if I’ve got ten+ seconds on one of my Big Two and 20+ on the other. You can imagine how often this happens. The PITA factor involved in calculating all this is enough for some people to drop it altogether.) Unless there’s a special damage phase (like XT’s Heart), launch Berserk as soon as the tank has a solid grip on aggro, because 20 seconds of Berserk is more fun than anything except possibly Bestial Wrath on a hunter. (Speaking of which, to the hunter who kept stalking Rashona around Eastern Plaguelands so he could tame her and teach her Bestial Wrath: Neener.)
Little things: Tiger’s Fury needs to be hit early and often. If it’s up and I have less than 40 energy, I will hit it and go shredding on my merry way. And Rake has been proving itself surprisingly useful with the addition of the Primal Gore talent; that plus Rend and Tear make it a good choice for beating down (relatively) low-health mobs.
So, um, rawr.