Okay, so one of the most common complaints by druids who are leveling feral is how bad it is to level from 10 to 20. These are usually druids who get bear form and try to plod away by mauling things to death for 10 levels. It’s pretty painful.
What bear gets from 10 to 20:
- Demoralizing roar (10) – debuff
- Growl (10) – taunt
- Maul (10) – does damage
- Enrage (12) – buff that generates rage
- Bash (14) – is a stun
- Swipe (16) – AOE damage
- Faerie Fire (18) – range ability that lets you pull things from far away
Only 2 of those are actually damage abilities that you are going to use on a regular basis (maul & swipe). You basically have 2 or 3 buttons (if you include faerie fire for pulling) that you are going to really use for solo leveling 10 to 20. All you will really use for solo leveling is: Maul, swipe, and faerie fire.
Maul is really the only damage ability for single-target damage. Faerie Fire is basically just a debuff that doesn’t do much damage at all at low levels. Swipe is better for fighting groups of things than fighting things by themselves. This actually limited number of solo damage leveling abilities is really what makes bear form so painful for leveling 10 to 20.
We don’t have many good damage abilities in bear from from 20 to level 50 when we get mangle. This kinda sucks, but it’s the most problematic until you get to level 20. I have heard dozens or hundreds of complains about how bad feral leveling is from 10 thru 20 – and then we just go cat from level 20 on unless we’re tanking.
What bears need for the 10 to 20 grind:
- We know that Maul & other “on next swing” mechanic damage abilities are probably changing soon. For bears, they won’t be able to just take it out, since it’s our ONLY damage ability for a LONG time in bear form. They’ll have to change it to something else that’s a direct damage ability that is spam-able (not on a cooldown).
- New ability, usable in bear form, available at 12 or 14 – a weaker version of Mangle that does a fair amount of damage on a cooldown (no bleed debuff, less damage than mangle). Replaced by Mangle at level 50 through talents, since it would share the same cooldown with Mangle – and mangle would do more damage along with applying the debuff.
- New ability name suggestions: Darting bite or battering claws.
We get cat at level 20 - but it’s not all good then, either
Cat is still pretty bad at the lower levels. The improvements to cat that came along were all put in at level 40 or above, which leaves 20 to 40 as not fun. Here’s the problem. We don’t get the right openers & finishers early enough.
Cat openers (require stealth):
- We get shred at level 22, which requires us to be behind the target. The only time we are behind the target is when we are in stealth mode at the beginning of a pull. Unless you are leveling with a partner, feral druids have to treat this as an opener instead of a real damage ability.
- Our first opener is at level 32. This is ravage.
- We don’t get pounce until level 38.
We should get either pounce or ravage at either level 20 or 22. We need our opener ability earlier. It doesn’t matter which ability, but going 12 levels with stealth without anything that requires us to be stealthed is just really, really silly. It also hurts cat’s early leveling playstyle to not get an early opener move. It’s okay to pick up one of them in the 30s – but one needs to come early.
Cat finishers (require combo points):
- Rip at level 20.
- Ferocious bite at 32.
- Maim at 62.
- savage roar at 75.
Rip is a bad finisher move at lower levels. You shouldn’t be fighting things long enough for a finisher bleed from level 20 to 32. That’s just too slow of a leveling process if you can bleed things to death like that. Ferocious Bite needs to come earlier. I mean, rogues get eviscerate at level 1. Having to wait until level 32 to get our eviscerate is really just not fun. I’d recommend level 24 for ferocious bite (so we go a couple levels with just rip before we get FB).
In conclusion, this is what feral needs to make leveling more fun:
- A new bear ability to use from 10 thru 50 (can be replaced by mangle if Blizzard doesn’t want another tanking ability.
- Need a better opener/finisher set at lower levels. Make ferocious bite trainable before level 30. Make either ravage or pounce trainable before level 30.
Just one new ability and changing the timing of when we get 2 other abilities will have a huge impact on improving early feral druid leveling. With Cataclysm working on revamping low level zones, I really think that some classes (like druids) need the timing of early abilities re-examined so that new druids don’t have to suffer through the same problems we’ve had since the game first came out. Fixes (like Ferocious bite & mangle) were given to us at higher levels, which made the higher levels less painful, but it doesn’t address the early struggles.