So… cat DPS is hard to do well

This post was inspired by GC’s recent comment on the DD forums:

This is a personal opinion and not a Blizzard design philosophy, but I think cat is one of the most challenging. With a long Feral Faerie Fire it’s a little better.

workA lot of druids (I think) agree with this observation.

Why?

Lavata thinks part of the reason is that energy doesn’t regen fast enough.

There are a couple things cat has for energy regen purposes: omen of Clarity Procs, the King of the Jungle talent allows Tiger’s Fury to restore 60 energy every 30 seconds, and Kitty Berserk gives you half energy cost for 15 seconds.

Another possible reason is just the number of buffs, debuffs, ability cooldowns, and combo point requirements feral has to keep track of.

Altosis recently did a good write-up for the feral cat talents and such. You should check it out here. Altosis also has a really awesome analysis (with graphic chart) comparing what talents are good for what feral specs.

So, now that you have the talents figured out, how  do you do damage as a cat druid? Well, you won’t have a simple rotation, so what you want to do is just manage your buffs, debuffs, and cooldowns.  Most of the guide up in Karthis’ “of teeth and claws” guide should still be applicable in 3.1.

You have a priority list instead of a rotation (from Karthis’ guide):

  1. Savage Roar
  2. Mangle
  3. Rip (5 combo points)
  4. Rake

You would want to pick up glyphs that increase how long those last, basically:

  • Glyph of Mangle – Would you like a nice hot cup of mangle lasting longer? If you really want more time before refreshing mangle, this is an option, but we’ve got other new glyphs that are going to be more useful.
  • Glyph of Berserk - New glyph gives you reduced energy costs for longer. PvP glyph maybe or maybe not… I’m not sure it would be useful for raiding much at all, but I’m not 100% sure.
  • Glyph of shred -  The new version helps increase the duration of rip when you shred (up to 6 seconds).
  • Glyph of Rip - Increases duration of rip by 4 seconds. Useful if the shred glyph isn’t available or is too expensive. In theory, you could pick up both, but it’s probably not worth the glyph slot.
  • Glyph of Savage Roar – This is going to increase damage done by 3% for Savage roar. It doesn’t increase the duration, but it’s still nice.

So, overall, 3.1 seems to have made feral DPS a bit easier, since some of these abilities can now last longer, in addition to not needing to refresh Faerie Fire very often.

Toskk’s DPS calculator is also updated for 3.1. It’s a nice tool to play around with for cat druids.

In the end, feral kitty DPS is just hard. In any fight requiring movement, your DPS is going to be lower than if you can stand still. If you are new to DPS, you will need to do a lot of practicing to really refine a good strategy for you. Good luck, and remember that practice makes purrfect! Most of what I know about cat druid DPS I learn from reading other people’s analysis of the spec…

EDIT: There was also something I wrote a while back talking about how both cat & moonkin “rotations” stopped being actual rotations and turned into buff/debuff management.

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7 Comments

  1. shaydwyrm
    Posted April 21, 2009 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    The mangle glyph is really only useful in 10 mans – on 25, chances are you will have either an arms warrior or a druid tank.

    The berserk glyph seems nice, but in my experience by the end of the berserk duration I’m out of energy anyway, so the last few seconds are considerably less valuable than the rest.

    I would pick Shred, Rip, and Savage Roar glyphs – the extra extension on Rip, combined with the 2T7 bonus, gives you enough leeway in your rotation that you might be able to fit in the occasional Ferocious Bite. At the very least it’s less energy spent on Rip and more spent on Shred.

    The Faerie Fire duration change doesn’t seem so important to me – there’s always some downtime for energy regen in the cat rotation, and on the rare occasion where there’s neither a bear nor a boomkin in the raid, FFF reapplications fit in pretty comfortably there.

  2. Lavata
    Posted April 21, 2009 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    Well since my comment was mentioned I will elaborate. I was saying that feral cats do not regenerate energy fast enough in comparison to rogue abilities. Since they use similar mechanics the comparison is valid.

    Subtlety has several talents in their tree that reduces the energy cost of their openers, closers and a few standard abilities. On top of this they also have several talents that award additional or conditional combo points.

    Combat has the classic Adrenalin Rush and another talent that when taken at 3/3 gives 25% faster energy regeneration. Additionally the rest of the tree is all about increasing the damage of base rogue abilities.

    Assassination is the rogue tree that it seems feral cats were sort of based around. Both have a talent that when taken to max will award an additional CP on crit. However assassination also has +10 energy and a talent that on all crits also give +2 energy. When you consider that assassination is a dagger build tree and that dual wielding daggers attacks about as often or faster than a cat they can rack up quite a bit of energy just from fast attacks with a high crit rating. On top of that when you crit you get extra CP and then 2 of the finishers also refresh the duration of S&D.

    While I was writing this I had a better idea on how to reduce or at least lessen the energy problem. Make an ability that reduces the cool down on Tiger’s fury by some amount or extra energy on crit.

    This is not direct just related equality.
    Savage Roar = HoF (Requires Bleed Effect)
    Rip = Rupture
    S&D = ?

    No Haste
    Cat = 1 attack per sec
    Rogue dual 1.8 daggers = 1 attack per .9 seconds
    Rogue dual 1.8 daggers + S&D = 1 attack per .72 seconds.

    At 40% crit = +1 CP every 2.5 attacks.
    Cat: +1 CP every 2.5 seconds.
    Rogue: +1 CP & +2 Energy every 2.25 seconds.
    Rogue + S&D: +1 CP & +2 Energy every 1.8 seconds.

    If the rogue is competent they will keep S&D up most if not all the time.

    Our ~S&D effect really comes from the improved Tiger’s fury if talented to give energy as well.

    the only improvement I could see would be some sort duration extension added to the cat mechanics. Additionally it would be better and scale better if it was changed to be like S&D, maybe +10% attack speed with a 12-15 second duration, keep the 30 sec + cooldown, just have some sort of way to keep it refreshed, like +x seconds per CP of Rip and F. Bite or +x seconds per crit to a max of 15 seconds.

    Also yes I do have a rogue and druid.

    Rogue’s Armory
    Druid’s Armory

    I will keep the other 7 70+ out of this.

  3. Aelinna
    Posted April 21, 2009 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    I would have thought Combat Potency would be the obvious rogue mechanic.

    Cat DPS is hard but awesome, I dualspecced to bear so I had a little kitty fun in hc DTK and it was great fun! Man they hit hard!

  4. Posted April 21, 2009 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    @ Shaydwyrm – I believe that you are correct. A bit of my glyph stuff was copy/pasted from earlier analysis of the same basic cat glyphs, but I wanted to refine it more and talk about it along with what makes DPS harder for cats & how 3.1 makes it better, since some of those glyphs are new-ish. Since I assume that most of the feral druids that actually read what I write are not the cutting-edge raiders most of the time, I have to leave open possible suggestions for people just doing 5-mans or 10-mans in addition to the higher-end content a lot of the time. :)

  5. Lavata
    Posted April 21, 2009 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    Ya I missed Combat Potency when I was making my list. My rogue was speced Assassination for the past 10 levels. I was combat swords in the 40s and 50s and went HfB at 61 through 70. Combat Potency was actually the ability I was thinking about but could not find so I left it out. I have not played the rogue other than to inscribe for the past few weeks. Got the Warrior and Mage to 80, and working on gearing the Warrior up a bit. The guilds I am in have plenty of Druids.

    Since Combat Potency is an off hand only proc and 20% per point invested to balance it for cats it would need to be end up giving 50% at 5/5 in a comparable level of the tree or preferably make it 3 ranks at 15%, 15%, 20% for a 3 point talent.

    I actually like that one better.

  6. wintersdark
    Posted April 21, 2009 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

    Lav has it. Cat dps is made difficult because of the circumstances surrounding the priority system. It’s not that you need to keep buffs/debuffs up but that you need to do it within the bounds of a slow energy regen+RNG based cp generation.

    It is now (as of 3.1) unarguably the hardest to maximize. And that’s what makes it a ton of fun for me. Back pre-wotlk, I was all bear and tree; now I can’t get enough Kitty.

    I’m a reasonably hardcore raider sort, but I read your blog becuase you’ve got a great writing style and provide excellent insights into other aspects of my class – while I may be pretty die-hard feral, I think it’s important to keep up to date with every spec.

  7. Tagarel
    Posted April 28, 2009 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

    I find managing our “rotation” is much, much easier with the addon Badkitty. It’s hard enough just keeping track of it – trying to find your own debuff icons in an ever-shifting 25man debuff stack? Impossible, at least for me.

    Also, we have – and need – a LOT of crit. Even in what averages out to naxx10 gear, I’m now running 45%. The jump from 40 to 45% seems to have pushed me over the line of being able to use ferocious bite occasionally or keep everything up easily on moving bosses. Because of the inherent variability of cat damage readouts, I’m not sure how much it did in that respect, but I do know I’m having an easier time of it and occasionally grabbing aggro again all the sudden, so there seems to be some sort of break point there.