wotlk pve feral druid rotation cooldowns abilities
  • Author: Oxykitten
  • Date: November 9, 2022
  • Expansion: WotLK Classic

As covered in the overview, one of Feral DPS’s greatest weaknesses is their complicated rotation. While this makes for fun and engaging gameplay, it does mean that most ferals will perform less well than other classes. Feral DPS can be competitive when played correctly, so it is important to know and correctly execute the appropriate rotation for both single-target and multi-target DPS, which this page will focus on.

Keep in mind that “rotation” is an out-dated concept as most classes (Ferals in particular) are dynamic, meaning that the abilities you use depend on a number of factors like energy levels or combo point generation. Because of this, the best ability to use at any given moment cannot be pre-determined, and I cannot give a cyclical rotation to describe optimal gameplay. Instead, the use of priority lists is more effective, whereby you follow the first ability which fits your current scenario.

The optimal rotations described in this guide were discovered and developed through the use of simulation tools and hard work from Nerdegghead and others on the Druid Classic Discord.

Single Target Rotation

  1. <40 energy + Tiger’s Fury off cooldown = Tiger’s Fury 
  2. Berserk off cooldown + Tiger’s Fury on ≥15s cooldown = Berserk 
  3. ≥1 combo point + Savage Roar not active = Savage Roar
  4. Clearcasting up = Shred 
  5. 5 combo points + Rip not active on target = Rip
  6. Rake not active on target = Rake 
  7. Mangle not active on target = Mangle
  8. ≥40 energy = Shred or pool energy for any of the above steps (i.e. if a buff/debuff is about to fall off)
  9. <40 energy + Berserk not active + >4.5s Rip duration remaining = Bearweave

The above list functions as a priority order for which abilities you should use at any given moment. You do not start a fight with Tiger’s Fury, but if at any point in an encounter you have less than 40 energy and Tiger’s Fury is off cooldown, that is your best action in that moment. While this list may seem complicated to those of us who are not simulation tools able to run a 9-item priority order in milliseconds to dictate our actions, the underlying concepts are relatively straightforward:

  1. Maintain important buffs and debuffs: Savage Roar can be applied with 1 combo point; Rip should always be applied with 5 combo points; Rake does not require combo points but is a less powerful debuff; Mangle is less urgent still, and is also applied by Arms Warriors in the form of Trauma if (for whatever reason) you have one in your raid. Note that bleeds should always be allowed to expire before being reapplied, as refreshing your bleeds forfeits the remaining damage ticks which results in a significant DPS loss.
  2. Build combo points when buffs/debuffs are active, or in order to activate them. When Rake is already on the target, use Shred instead. Note that you should not waste energy on shred if you need that energy for a more important action, i.e. if a buff/debuff is about to expire and can be refreshed with that energy.
  3. Use your cooldowns appropriately: Tiger’s Fury when low on energy, and Berserk when high on energy and Tiger’s Fury is on cooldown. Note that these conditions are always met immediately after using Tiger’s Fury, so using Berserk after Tiger’s Fury is an easy way to organise one’s cooldowns.
  4. If you cannot do anything in Cat form (low energy, buffs/debuffs already active, Tiger’s Fury on cooldown), you may as well go into Bear Form to do some extra damage while your energy regenerates. This is called Bearweaving.

I understand that the limitation of a priority order is that it does not give a simple picture of what actions you take in what order. I thought it might be helpful to give an example of an opener on a single-target encounter and demonstrate exactly how the priority order works in practice. Keep in mind that plenty of variables (such as a Clearcasting proc) could change this, which is why a priority order is more accurate.

  1. Encounter starts – >40 energy, 0 combo points, all cooldowns ready
    As you are at >40 energy, you do not cast Tiger’s Fury. As Tiger’s Fury is not on cooldown, you do not cast Berserk. As you have no combo points and do not have clearcasting up, the first available action is to cast Rake .
  2. Rake cast – >40 energy, 1 combo point, all cooldowns ready. Rake is up on target.
    Still at >40 energy with Tiger’s Fury up, so you do not cast Tiger’s Fury or Berserk. Instead, you cast Savage Roar as you have 1 combo point available.
  3. Savage Roar cast – >40 energy, 0 combo points, all cooldowns ready. Rake is up on target, Savage Roar is up on you.
    Still not using Tiger’s Fury or Berserk. Rake is up, so you do not cast it again. Mangle is not up, so you cast Mangle.
  4. Mangle cast – <40 energy, 1 combo point, all cooldowns ready.
    You are now below 40 energy, and cooldowns are ready. Use Tiger’s Fury.
  5. Tiger’s Fury cast – >40 energy, 1 combo point, Tiger’s Fury on >15s cooldown, Berserk  off cooldown
    You have high energy and Tiger’s Fury is on cooldown. Use Berserk. Also use any other cooldowns (e.g. trinkets) with Berserk as they complement each other.
  6. Now continue with the priority order – Shred (Rake after it expires) to 5 combo points, put up Rip, maintain Savage Roar, and soar to the middle/lower end of the DPS meter!

Bearweave Rotation (Single target)

Bearweaving is the action of going into Bear Form while your energy regenerates to do some extra damage instead of just waiting. This may seem a little bit silly, and it is less important than executing the base rotation correctly. However, it is free DPS, as it is only used when no other action is available, and it’s a lot of fun as well.

There are two types of bearweaving: ‘Lacerate Weave’ focuses on regularly bearweaving and using Lacerate to maintain 5 stacks of lacerate at all times on the target, whereas ‘Mangle Weave’ simply focuses on using Mangle. While Lacerate weaving is more damage than mangle weaving, it is significantly more difficult to pull off as it requires you to bearweave at every possible opportunity. This is only possible on Patchwerk-style fights, and even then for most players (myself included!) will likely lead to a DPS loss as they struggle to maintain the more important buffs and debuffs.

Mangle weaving is relatively foolproof — simply go into bear form whenever you have nothing else to do and follow the priority below:

  1. ≥70 energy OR Clearcasting active OR Rip about to expire = go back to Cat Form
  2. Enrage off cooldown = Enrage
  3. <10 rage and Enrage on cooldown = Powershift Bear form to gain 10 rage
  4. ≥15 rage + Mangle off cooldown = Mangle
  5. ≥13 rage = Lacerate
  6. ≥10 rage = Maul

Again, this sounds more complicated than it is; effectively, you should use Enrage, cast Mangle + Maul, and then go back to Cat Form once your energy has regenerated. Note that Maul is not tied to global cooldown, and it can and should be used alongside the other abilities listed. However, it is lower on the list because if using it will leave you without enough rage to use other abilities, you should hold off on casting it.

Area of Effect Rotation

  1. Use a Sapper if you have engineering
  2. <40 energy + Tiger’s Fury off cooldown = Tiger’s Fury 
  3. Berserk off cooldown + Tiger’s Fury on ≥15s cooldown = Berserk 
  4. ≥1 combo point + Savage Roar not active = Savage Roar
  5. 0 combo points + encounter will last longer than 5 Swipe casts = Rake
  6. ≥40 energy OR Clearcasting active = Swipe / pool energy
  7. <40 energy + Berserk not active = Bearweave

On AoE packs, the Feral rotation is far simpler; cooldowns remain the same, and you effectively just spam Swipe. However, Swipe does not generate any combo points, so if the encounter lasts long enough, using Rake to generate a combo point with which you can cast Savage Roar (to boost your subsequent swipe damage) will increase your overall DPS. Once you’ve used all your energy, cooldowns, and don’t have clearcasting up, you may as well bearweave and Swipe in bear form while your energy regenerates in the background.

Bearweave Rotation (AoE)

Bearweaving is even simpler and more relevant in AoE situations. As you are not concerned about maintaining debuffs, and Swipe has a high energy cost, there is more opportunity to go into Bear Form and cast Swipe, which deals a respectable amount of damage. Follow the priority order below while in Bear Form:

  1. ≥70 energy OR Clearcasting active = go back to Cat Form
  2. Enrage off cooldown = Enrage
  3. <10 rage and Enrage on cooldown = Powershift Bear form to gain 10 rage
  4. ≥15 rage = Swipe
  5. ≥10 rage = Maul

Note that Maul is not tied to global cooldown, and it can and should be used alongside Swipe. However, it is lower on the list because if using it will leave you without enough rage to Swipe, you should hold off on casting it. Note also that Glyphofmaul is very powerful when bearweaving in AoE scenarios; if you care about your overall DPS (which you should!) and do not have separate single target / AoE dual specialisations, you should consider Glyphofmaul as one of your main glyphs.

Overview of Abilities

Offensive Abilities

  • Rake generates 1 combo point and places a bleed effect on the target that deals damage over time. Over the duration of its effect, it deals more damage than Shred and therefore Rake is your preferred combo point builder. However, it should only be used when rake is not already active on your target, as refreshing the debuff will forfeit the remaining bleed ticks and lead to a DPS loss.
  • Mangle (Cat) enhances all the bleed effects on the target by 30% and does direct damage. If you do not have another Feral or an Arms Warrior in your raid to apply Trauma, you should keep Mangle up on your target.
  • Shred deals instant damage and generates 1 combo point. It can only be used from behind your target. Additionally, when paired with GlyphofShred it will extend the duration of Rip on your target. Although Shred is your lowest priority ability, it will be your bread and butter combo point builder once your relevant buffs and debuffs are all active.
  • Rip is a finishing move that should only be used with 5 combo points on your target. It is a powerful ability and should be prioritised in your rotation. However, note that you should always let the Rip debuff expire before reapplying it, as refreshing the debuff will forfeit any remaining bleed ticks and lead to a DPS loss.
  • Ferocious Bite is a finishing move that requires combo points in order to be activated. This ability deals significantly less damage than Rip, so should only be used if all buffs and debuffs are active and you are guaranteed to replenish your combo points after using Ferocious Bite and before any of them expire. This is unlikely to ever be relevant in early phases. In later phases, a high critical strike chance from improved gear gives you better chances of regenerating combo point and could make Ferocious Bite part of the rotation; that remains to be seen.
  • Savage Roar is a finishing move that requires combo points in order to be activated – it enhances your overall damage by 30%. Savage Roar will provide the same percentage no matter how many combo points you use. If it is not active, you should activate it with even just 1 combo point, as it will boost your damage and can be later refreshed. Unlike your bleeds, refreshing Savage Roar before it expires does not really have any negative repercussions (aside from the fact that you will need to refresh it sooner). This means that, if your Savage Roar and Rip are likely to expire at the same time, you should refresh Savage Roar early and then build enough combo points to reapply Rip as soon as it expires.
  • Berserk is a powerful cooldown that empowers you for 15 seconds, reducing the cost of your abilities by 50%. You should use this energy while at high energy to get the most out of the cooldown. Note that you cannot use Tiger’s Fury while Berserk is active, so you should try to use Berserk when Tiger’s Fury has more than 15 seconds left of its cooldown remaining; this way, you will not delay the use of Tiger’s Fury. As Berserk should be used at high energy and while Tiger’s Fury is on cooldown, it is a good idea to use berserk immediately after using Tiger’s Fury, since your energy will have just been replenished and Tiger’s Fury will be on cooldown. In addition, you should try to align Berserk with other effects that increase your damage, like Savage Roarr, trinket cooldowns, and Unholy Frenzy.
  • Tiger’s Fury is an ability that increases your damage by 80 for a short duration. More importantly, when talented into King of the Jungle, Tiger’s Fury replenishes your energy and becomes a core part of the Feral DPS rotation. It should be used whenever you have less than 40 energy and it is off cooldown in order to maximise its benefit.
  • Feral Charge – Cat allows you to quickly reposition yourself behind the target and is especially useful when having to deal with a mechanic that forces you far away from your target.
  • Swipe (Cat) is your only Area of Effect ability in Cat Form. This ability can damage all the targets that you are currently facing.
  • Mangle (Bear) does a significant amount of damage. It has a cooldown and can only be used in Bear Form, but is worth changing form to use if you have no energy to cast anything in Cat Form.
  • Maul is a high damage, high rage cost (when considering the rage not gained from the autoattack that Maul replaces) ability usable in Bear Form. Maul is not tied to the global cooldown, and can therefore be used alongside other abilities. Using Maul alongside Mangle when bearweaving is easy and adds some free DPS to your rotation.
  • Lacerate is a stacking bleed debuff usable in Bear Form with a low rage cost. At 5 stacks, it does a lot of damage and is therefore theoretically the best ability to use when bearweaving if you bearweave often enough to maintain 5 stacks while not compromising your more important Cat Form buffs/debuffs. This is very difficult or often impossible in practice, so I recommend sticking to “mangle weaving.”
  • Swipe (Bear) has been buffed in Wrath to hit all targets in melee range. This makes it a powerful ability to use when AoE bearweaving. Simply go into Bear Form when out of energy and use this while your energy regenerates in the background.
  • Enrage generates rage and increases your damage dealt in bear form when talented with King of the Jungle. It is a useful boost to bearweaving and should be used regularly.

 

About the Author

Oxykitten

I've been an avid WoW player since Vanilla. At 6 years old, I was slowly progressing through Blackfathom Deeps and levelling up with my brothers. Since Classic Wow launched, I've found a new way to enjoy the game; participating in Feral Druid theorycrafting communities and performing well in an underdog class has been a fun challenge. I hope to be able to share all I've learned with anyone who shares that interest!
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