Need more abilities: 10 to 30 feral

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.

18 Comments

  1. Posted November 25, 2009 at 2:40 am | Permalink

    (Background info: I started a level 1 druid on 30 Oct 2009, feral until 60, then balance/resto dual to 75.)

    Cat with Claw has enough damage that you’d never use Rip anyway. Before Ferocious Bite, I’d just Claw mobs to death. Rip needs to have combo points affect duration instead of damage. That way it’s useful during leveling as a finisher—I can claw twice and rip for, say, a 6sec bleed. Either that, or we really need to have it swap places with Ferocious Bite. FB really was a big change in my leveling play. I find myself using it all the way to 60, when I switched to Balance.

    We definitely need to up Bear damage from 10-20 at the very bare minimum. I’m willing to accept Clawing my way to level 32. After all, my ret paladin Judged his way to 50 when he finally got a second button to push during combat—the Crusader Strike. (But one should also note that the Ret paladin design is very passive-heavy at heart.)

    Now for some wishful thinking: redesign the combo point system to attach to player instead of target. So you would Claw*5 to kill one mob, then on the next mob actually open with Rip for a full duration bleed. This also opens up possibilities in building up bleeds on secondary targets when you’re instancing.

  2. t0xic
    Posted November 25, 2009 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    It sounds like you’re suggesting bear druids should have more dps in their tanking spec to make leveling easier (unless I’m reading it wrong).

    There are a few other classes that have the same issue. Paladins and warriors.

    The same can be said for healing classes that choose to spec into holy/resto rather than dps for faster leveling. Have you ever tried to dps as a tree druid? It’s laughable =)

    I think the bigger issue is that, at least if you’re a hybrid, you spend your time leveling in a dps spec. When you get to the level cap you’re told to spec as a tank or a healer with little to no experience.

    Wise people spend money to dual spec and learn to dps/heal or dps/tank before level cap. This \extra utility\ is almost mandatory if you want to do anything other than sit in LFG all day waiting for a dps spot.

    The game trains you to be a dps from level 1. Training for tanks and healers is trial by fire.

    I guess I wandered from your point about bear dps, but what I’m saying is that if you want this you have to recognize the other specs that other classes are leveling with that have the same issue. After you do that and recognize the scale of the changes that would be required (to make it fair to everyone) you have to ask yourself if it’s really worth it or not.

  3. Posted November 25, 2009 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    Not so much more dps, more buttons to push. The only ability that is spammable/usable before Mangle at level 50 is Swipe. Warriors are not is the same boat. Paladins yes should get a form of the shield bash ability at level 10-25 not 75.

    Warrior Prot or Not, Hamstring, HS=Maul, Thunderclap = Swipe, Shield Bash, Cleave, Pummle, Whirlwind, Slam, ok some of these depend on stance but the warrior has so many other abilities over the Druid it is not even comparable.

  4. Lissanna
    Posted November 25, 2009 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    You can’t dualspec from level 10 to 30. I’m asking for level 10 thru 30 improvements. This is before most people are even tanking. For feral, I just want 10 to 20 to suck less. They don’t even have to necessarily do more damage – but just actually be fun. That’s why I was recommending a bear ability that shared a cooldown with mangle: so that it couldn’t have an impact on higher level play.

  5. Posted November 25, 2009 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    Or just make Cat available at Level 10. Problem solved.

  6. Lissanna
    Posted November 25, 2009 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    As much as I would like to see cat trainable at level 10, I think a new bear button is actually much more likely.

  7. Rachel
    Posted November 25, 2009 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    Absolutely the reason why there are far more druid leveling guides than any other class. When it comes to soloing I enjoyed the root, cast, shift to bear rotation. I totally get the complaints thought, esp having attempted to level a heck of a lot more in bg’s with my second druid.

  8. Posted November 25, 2009 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    I agree with Arielle that swapping when we get Cat & Bear forms would be a more direct fix. Even better if it comes with the ability acquisition changes you suggest, to put the focus on effective DPS abilities earlier. Bear is really about tanking, and tanking is something most people leveling don’t do for a long time. Once I got cat form, though, I didn’t shift out of it for 50 levels. (I did experiment with a Balance leveling spec. Briefly. Cat was just so much faster.)

    However it’s also hard to argue with your point about big class changes like that being unlikely. We are looking at a progression that’s been unchanged since beta, I think. And class questlines that are maybe too much of an investment in development time to tinker with.

  9. LXj
    Posted November 25, 2009 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    Some observations:

    1. The biggest problem with 10-20 bears is not even Maul itself, but rage starvation. Giving one more damaging ability will not solve this

    2. You’re saying that Rip is bad on low levels… so your solution is not very logical! IMHO it would be more correct to give cats Ferocious Bite at 20 instead of Rip, and move Rip to later levels

  10. Lissanna
    Posted November 25, 2009 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

    I wasn’t sure if Blizzard would be willing to move rip to later levels, so I just want them to move ferocious bite earlier.

    There’s not much we can do about suggesting changes for the early rage generation mechanics… so I’ll stick to things that I actually understand better. ;)

  11. Lauraya
    Posted November 25, 2009 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

    Leveling from 10 to 20 takes what, ten hours? I guess that it’s not a bad idea to reduce the pain, but unfortunately I don’t think Blizzard is going to care so much about it.

    Regardless, I never had much of an issue with leveling up Feral. When I got Bear form I felt like a demi-god, demolishing anything, popping a few heals on myself when necessary, never dying. It was fun.

    As far as Rip goes, I think if you’re not using Rake and Rip when leveling to chain kills, you’re doing it wrong. You shouldn’t expect Rip to be there to take down one target then move on to the next. You should expect to Claw, Claw, Rake, and Rip, and run to the next target while the first one bleeds to death. Nevertheless, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to drop FB down a few levels. But it really is level 30 and above when classes/builds start to distinguish themselves.

    I’d be up for some adjustments to the 10-30 leveling process, and I like the suggestions. I just wonder if those complaining about the deficiencies might not just want to rethink how to play as a hybrid. Because really, that’s how the Feral is best played while leveling. Learn to really use shape-shifting and healing and the occasional damage spell, and the class opens up quite a bit, unfortunately to be harshly pigeon-holed in end-game.

  12. Posted November 25, 2009 at 11:20 pm | Permalink

    Paladin leveling had been “fixed” for quite a while. From the moment you get Judgement of Light, you’re blasting through mobs. Even though from then on, you’re locked into the Judge and loop cycle, you actually have all those talents passively buffing your white swings and Judgement damage.

    Paladin is a little boring before you get Judgement of Light at level 4, druids are _painful_ before you get cat form at 20.

    I leveled a paladin in 3.0 and druid in 3.2, if bear form feels like a demi-god, then the ret paladin would be god himself at that level.

    I did try chain killing with Rip and Rake, although it feels more like a waste of energy. Rake and about three or four Claws will usually finish off a mob. There’s little reason to close with Rip instead of Claw and leave the mob chewing on you.

    Rake should be your first attack right after you contact with the mob. One style of play is to open with Shred from stealth. Stealth > Shred > Rake > Claw > Claw > Claw > mob already dead or will die from another one or two white swing. Then you stealth and start on the next mob with Shred again.

    When you learn Ferocious Byte, your rotation becomes Stealth > Shred > Rake > Claw > Claw > FB to finish off the mob.

    There’s nothing wrong with multi-mob bleeding, but there’s also nothing wrong with Stealth and Shred openers. I don’t think cats are necessarily “meant” to play multi-mob bleeding. Stealth and Shred openers are just as effective—indeed, this effectiveness is exactly what makes Rip useless (for this playstyle).

    But in any case, I think most of us would agree that “cat form is fine”. The question of Rip is that something like Ferocious Bite makes more sense at this level. The real pain in leveling a druid is before cat form.

    And I agree with LXj. The real source of the pain is rage starvation between 10 and 20. If Maul doesn’t cost us our white swing rage income, Bear would really become the unstoppable killing machine. It is for this reason I believe warrior and bear leveling will feel fresh after Cataclysm comes out, since they’re planning on taking away the on-next swing mechanic.

  13. Fleethoof
    Posted November 26, 2009 at 3:43 am | Permalink

    Druids feel like this:

    1-10: Level a crappy version of a mage from 1-10
    10-20: Level a crappy version of a warrior from 1-10
    20-40: Level a crappy version of a rogue from 1-20

    Every time you learn a new role, the game attempts to reteach you how to play the new role by more or less giving you a very small amount of abilities and slowly building off of them. By the time other classes are in their 20s and 30s, they’ve had many levels teaching them skills that build on each other. Druids, however, keep getting “reset” every 10 levels, and are stuck with incredibly simplistic and boring abilities as the game tries to ease the druid into their new role.

    I think that your suggestions would go a long way to helping druids while leveling. On next attack abilities are boring, and bear form could definitely use something that isn’t swipe or maul before level 40. Cat form desperately needs an opener earlier, preferably pounce. I also wish that Ferocious Bite would be learned at level 20, and would be changed to an exact eviscerate mirror (no excess energy consumption… it’s potentially imbalanced for pvp in some cases with the LOL12kFBCRITS, it’s difficult to use in PvE, and it’s annoying everywhere).

  14. Posted November 26, 2009 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    Levelling is all about killing as many things as fast as you possibly can.

    Bear doesn’t help you do that :)

    Cat does.

    I think just a straight up swap of Cat & Bear (and related abilities) in regards to when they are trainable would solve basically all problems. Although to be fair it’s been SO LONG since I levelled from 10-20 (and I think it was in Vanilla) that I don’t really remember what I did.

  15. Lissanna
    Posted November 26, 2009 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    I still don’t see them giving us cat earlier, as nice as that would be.

  16. Posted November 26, 2009 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    If we made a good argument for it, I don’t see why it wouldn’t happen. They might at least tell us why they wouldn’t do it.

  17. Posted November 26, 2009 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

    Paladins: Righteous Fury at level 16
    Warriors: Defensive Stance at level 10
    Druids: Bear Form at level 10

    Now consider how the horde only had access to warriors and druids before, and how the alliance has Dead Mines while the horde has Ragefire Chasm as their first instance. Maybe the reason Bear Form come at level 10 is so you are able to tank the first instances?

    Or maybe there really is no reason at all. Cat Form doesn’t have a quest line anyway, just give it to us at level 10, and still keep the Bear Form quest line at level 10. It will make the Bear Form quest much easier, too.

    Then delay Travel Form to level 20. Then make a Swift Travel Form at level 40 that runs at 100%! Okay, that’s just wishful thinking…

    I also think it’s unlikely they’ll give Cat to us at level 10. But the reason may very well be that they consider the new Bear Form “fixed” for leveling needs. Remember they want to take out on-next swing, which means significant changes to Bear Form.

  18. Posted April 11, 2010 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    I loved the analysis and breakdown of the druid leveling process, it’s nice to have someone break it down and point out flaws instead of simply saying “here’s how it is”.

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