Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Druids: cat form DPS

Since we started raiding Ulduar a couple of weeks ago, we have come across some problems. Not in the usual places, like healing and tanking, but in the more unusual arena of DPS. We were failing miserably on several DPS check fights (like Razorscale and Deconstructor), hitting hard enrages without being close to killing them. To address this problem, our raid leader recently made a general request of the guild to start forum threads covering DPS in its various forms with rotations, builds and other tips to begin educating our members and aleviating the problem. We are, after all, a casual guild that happens to raid, not anything close to a hardcore guild. That being said, we do have several members that know their classes very very well and are capable of providing guidance for the rest of us.

I decided to take the plunge and write what I knew about druids DPSing in cat form. Here is the result of that effort:

I don't pretend to be an expert at this, but I am getting more and more familiar with the inner workings and theorycrafting of druid dps in cat form as time goes on.

First lets talk about resources: everyone in this series of posts has mentioned Elitist Jerks and I need to give it a nod also. It is, hands down, the best, most in-depth forum for mechanics of any class out there. The only drawback it has is that it may be TOO complicated. The amount of theorycrafting and mathematically intense calculating on the various threads can scare away (with good reason) the more casual player. For those who feel that much of the information at Elitist Jerks is over their heads, there are a number of more approachable druid blogs that handle various aspects of druiding (TM). For cat dps, the foremost blog, in my opinion, is Karthis' Of Teeth and Claws. He speaks very candidly and clearly about the how to get the most out of your cat in many different situations. Due to the nature blogging, finding the answer to the exact question you have may require a little digging, but in most cases, the answers are there. Unfortunately, a few of his latest posts seem to indicate a degree of burnout, so the position of leading cat blogger may soon be vacated.

DPS as a cat is not what it used to be. We now have to juggle a lot of different abilities and are limited only by our energy regeneration. We can't just mangle-spam and expect to do well on the damage meters. And lets face it: when we are dpsing (unlike healing or tanking) our position on the meters is almost all that matters.

The abilities that we will be using to dps are: Mangle, Rake and Shred to generate combo points, Savage Roar, Rip and Ferocious Bite to use them up and Tiger's Fury to generate precious energy. The basic idea of dps as a cat is to get Savage Roar up and KEEP it up while keeping bleeds, dots and debuffs up as much as possible. While Mangle is not truly desirable for its dps potential, it *is* desirable for the debuff that it applies. If we have a feral druid tanking or another cat druid in the raid attacking the same targets, we may talk ahead of time to see whose responsibility it will be to keep Mangle applied to the targets. In the case of a beartank, they will want to be the one mangling because of the threat it is capable of generating. If there is only a second cat (and no beartank), then generally the one with lesser damage potential should be refreshing mangle.

Use Rake early and allow it to go almost its full duration before reapplying. The up front damage is low compared to the bleed aspect of this ability so we want to maximize energy usage by allowing it to go on as long as possible. As soon as the fight begins use Savage Roar as soon as possible, even if it only with a single combo point. That flat 30% increase in damage is too valuable to wait for 5 points. After that, Shred to 5 combo points, then Savage Roar again to get the 33 sec duration up. Keep using Shred, only stopping to reapply Rake or Mangle as necessary then Rip at 5 combo points. Keep juggling these abilites. If (i.e. when) you run out of energy, use Tiger's Fury to instantly regenerate 60 energy and keep going. If you reach 5 combo points and Rip still has a long time left (8 sec or more) and you don't need to reapply Savage Roar use Ferocious Bite instead. Unless you have the glyph of shred (which I don't yet) this should not occur very often at all.

All this requires carefully watching 1. Debuffs on the boss. 2. Buffs on you and 3. Energy reserves. There are a number of mods to help with this DOTimers is a mod originally developed for warlocks but works really well for cat druids. It shows the debuffs on the boss with countdowns showing how close they are to expiring. I think there is a way to make it show your own buffs as well, but haven't figured it out yet, so I am constantly looking at my own buff timers to see how long I have left on Savage Roar.

Use Berserk every time it is up. Use Berserk every time it is up. Use Berserk every time it is up. Use Berserk every time it is up. Use Berserk every time it is up.

In conclusion:

With beartank: Rake-->Savage Roar-->Shred-->Shred-->Tiger's fury-->Shred to 5 combo points-->Savage Roar-->Rake-->Shred to 5 cp-->Rip, refresh Rake, Savage Roar and Rip as necessary.

Without another mangler: Mangle-->Savage Roar-->Rake-->Shred-->Tiger's Fury-->Shred to 5cp-->Savage Roar-->Shred-->Rake-->Shred to 5cp-->Rip. Refresh Rake, Savage Roar and Rip as necessary.

Oh, and watch your threat...

Tell me what you all think.

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