Recently, Blizzard has been kind enough to provide several fansites with a preview of talent specs to come in Cataclysm, with the exact numbers to start figuring out what spec is best. So here’s my analysis, and prediction of what the best spec is going to be.
Let’s do a quick rundown of the feral tree, and the first few tiers of the Resto tree that will affect us as kitties. You can find a blank talent sheet for this here.
- Tier 1
- Sharpened Claws (2 points) (Mandatory) - Icreases the damage caused by your Claw, Rake, Mangle (Cat), Mangle (Bear), and Maul abilities by 10/20%.
- Ferocity (5 points) (Mandatory) – Reduces the cost of your Maul, Swipe, Claw, Rake and Mangle abilities by 1/2/3/4/5 Rage or Energy.
Energy cost reduction, again standard.
- Feral Aggression (5 points) (Mandatory) - Increases the attack power reduction of your Demoralizing Roar by 8/16/24/32/40% and the damage caused by your Ferocious Bite by 3/6/9/12/15%.
Depending on how often you FB, this will come in handy a bit. Only mandatory because it allows you to skip some bad talents in higher talent tiers.
- Tier 2
- Shredding Attacks (2 points) (Mandatory) - Reduces the energy cost of your Shred ability by 5/10 and the rage cost of your Lacerate ability by 1/2.
This is what makes our Shred the powerful, staple CP-generator that it is.
- Feral Instinct [TBR] (3 points) (Mandatory) - Increases the damage done by your Swipe ability by 10/20/30% and reduces the chance enemies have to detect you while Prowling.
Good for AoE damage. Again, only mandatory in order to fill in talent requirements to get to higher tiers.
- Thick Hide (3 points) (Unused) - Increases your Armor contribution from cloth and leather items by 4/7/10%.
Bear talent. Don’t bother
- Tier 3
- Feral Swiftness (2 points) (Mandatory) – Increases your movement speed by 15/30% in Cat Form and increases your chance to dodge while in Cat Form, Bear Form and Dire Bear Form by 2/4%.
Astoundingly good for raid mobility. A must have now and in Cataclysm.
- Predatory Instincts (3 points) (Mandatory) - Increases the damage done by your melee critical strikes by 3/7/10%.
Another pretty standard +damage.
- Feral Charge (1 point) (Mandatory) – Teaches Feral Charge (Bear) and Feral Charge (Cat).
- Feral Charge (Bear) – Causes you to charge an enemy, immobilizing and interrupting any spell being cast for 4 seconds. This ability can be used in Bear Form and Dire Bear Form. 15-second cooldown.
- Feral Charge (Cat) – Causes you to leap behind an enemy, dazing them for 3 seconds. 30-second cooldown.
The feral charge we all know and love. Excellent for mobility as always.
- Improved Feral Charge [NNF] (2 points) (Optional)- Increases your melee haste by 15/30% after you use Feral Charge (Bear) for 8 seconds, and Ravage will temporarly not require stealth for 3/6 seconds after you use Feral Charge (Cat).
This is an interesting one. It is definitely geared more towards PvP, however it might have some limited use in fights with a lot of target switching (I’m thinking Putricide here) where the +haste could make a noticeable difference.
- Tier 4
- Nurturing Instinct (2 points) (Optional) - Increases your healing spells by up to 35/70% of your agility, and increases healing done to you by 10/20% while in Cat Form.
Good for raid survivability, no dps benefit.
- Fury Swipes (3 points) (Mandatory) - When you auto-attack while in Cat Form or Bear Form, you have a 4/8/12% chance to gain an extra auto-attack on the same target. This effect cannot occur more than once every 6 seconds.
A nice little proccy talent, that’s a nice little white damage bonus.
- Primal Fury (2 points) (Mandatory) – Gives you a 50/100% chance to gain an additional 5 Rage anytime you get a critical strike while in Bear and Dire Bear Form, and your critical strikes from Cat Form abilities that add combo points have a 50/100% chance to add an additional combo point.
Another staple of current cat dps, which it will undoubtedly continue to be in Cata.
- Tier 5
- Brutal Impact (2 points) (Unused) – Increases the stun duration of your Bash and Pounce abilities by 0.5/1 seconds, and decreases the cooldown of Bash by 5/10 seconds.
- Heart of the Wild (5 points) (Mandatory) – Increases your intellect by 4/8/12/16/20%. In addition, while in Bear or Dire Bear Form your stamina is increased by 2/4/6/8/10%, and while in Cat Form your attack power is increased by 2/4/6/8/10%.
+Attack Power is always good.
- Survival Instincts (1 point) (Optional) - When activated, this ability temporarily grants you 30% of your maximum health for 20 seconds while in Bear Form, Cat Form, or Dire Bear Form. After the effect expires, the health is lost.
Another one that can help with raid survivability, but it’s generally aimed more at tanks and PvPers.
- Predatory Strikes (2 points) (Unused) – Increases the critical strike chance of your Ravage by 50/25% at or above 90% health, and your finishing moves have a 10/20% chance per combo point to make your next Nature spell with a base casting time less than 10 seconds become an instant cast spell.
PvP talent through and through, unless ravage becomes a viable opener for PvE dps, which I don’t think will be happening.
- Tier 6
- Natural Reaction (3 points) (Unused) - Increases your dodge while in Bear Form or Dire Bear Form by 2/4%, and you regenerate 1/2 rage every time you dodge while in Bear Form or Dire Bear Form.
- Endless Carnage (2 points) (Mandatory) - Increases the duration of your Rake by 3/6 seconds and your Savage Roar and Pulverize by 3/6 seconds.
Love the name, and love the rake duration bonus.
- Survival of the Fittest (3 points) (Unused) – Reduces the chance you’ll be critically hit by melee attacks by 2/4/6%, and increases the contribution from cloth and leather items in Bear Form and Dire Bear Form by 11/22/33%.
Looks like this long-used talent is becoming tank-only.
- Tier 7
- King of the Jungle (3 ranks) (Mandatory) - While using your Enrage ability in Bear Form or Dire Bear Form, your damage is increased by 5/10/15%, and your Tiger’s Fury ability also instantly restores 20/40/60 energy.
The energy regen talent that is key to kitty dps.
- Leader of the Pack (1 point; Requires 1 point in Heart of the Wild) (Mandatory) - While in Cat, Bear, or Dire Bear Form, Leader of the Pack increases ranged and melee critical chance of all party and raid members within 100 yards by 5%.
Yay for +Crit and raid utility!
- Improved Leader of the Pack (2 points; Requires 1 point in Leader of the Pack) (Reccomended) - Your Leader of the Pack ability also causes affected targets to heal themselves for 2/4% of their total health when they critically hit with melee or ranged attacks. The healing effect cannot occur more than once every 6 seconds. In addition, you gain 4/8% of your maximum mana when you benefit from this heal.
This is a good one to have for soloing, and in raid. No dps benifit, but provides huge raid utility.
- Primal Tenacity (3 points) (Unused) - Reduces the duration of fear effects by 10/20/30% and reduces all damage taken while stunned by 5/10/15% while in Cat Form.
- Tier 8
- Protector of the Pack (3 points) (Unused) - Increases your attack power by 2/4/6% and reduces the damage you take by 4/8/12%, while in Bear or Dire Bear Form.
- Infected Wounds (2 points) (Unused) - Your Shred, Maul, Ravage and Mangle attacks cause an Infected Wound in the target. The infected Wound reduces the movement speed of the target by 25/50% and the attack speed by 10/20%. Lasts 12 seconds.
Tanks and PvPers only
- Tier 9
- Primal Madness [NNF] (2 points) (Mandatory) - Tiger’s Fury and Berserk also increases your maximum energy by 6/12 during its duration, and your Enrage and Berserk abilities instantly generates 0/12 Rage.
More energy is always good. This will allow a few more shreds when you hit TF or Zerk, and when you use them together will provide even more synergy.
- Mangle (1 point) (Mandatory)- Mangle the target, inflicting damage and causing the target to take additional damage from bleed effects for 1 minute. This ability can be used in Cat Form or Dire Bear form.
Obvious necessity for any feral.
- Improved Mangle (3 points) (Optional) – Reduces the cooldown of your Mangle (Bear) ability by 0.5/1.0 seconds and reduces the energy cost of your Mangle (Cat) ability by 2/4/6.
With the lengthening of Mangle, this isn’t as important as it used to be. Still can be a slight dps buff though if you’re assigned to keep mangle up.
- Tier 10
- Nom Nom Nom [NNF] (2 points) (Mandatory) – When you Ferocious Bite a target at or below 25% health, you have a 50/100% chance to instantly refresh the duration of your Rip on the target.
OH MY GOD!!!! This is HUGE!!! This will increase our dps on bosses immensely. I do expect this will be in for a nerf though.
- Rend and Tear (5 points) (Mandatory) - Increases damage done by your Maul and Shred attacks on bleeding targets by 4/8/12/16/20%, and increases the critical strike chance of your Ferocious Bite ability on bleeding targets by 5/10%.
Another +damage one, and it’s going to be great in combination with Nom Nom Nom.
- Pulverize (1 point; Requires 5 points in Rend and Tear; Requires Dire Bear Form) (Unused) - Deals 100% weapon damage plus additional 786 damage for each of your Lacerate applications on the target, and increases your melee critical strike chance by 2% for each Lacerate application consumed for 10seconds.
Sorry, Bears only :(
- Tier 11
- Berserk (1 point) (Mandatory) – When activated, this ability causes your Mangle (Bear) ability to hit up to 3 targets and have no cooldown, and reduces the energy cost of all your Cat Form abilities by 50%. Lasts 15 seconds. You cannot use Tiger’s Fury while Berserk is active. Clears the effect of Fear and makes you immune to Fear for the duration.
THE dps cooldown for kitties
- Tier 1
- Blessing of the Grove (2 points) (Mandatory) - Increases the healing done by your Rejuvenation by 2/4%, the direct damage of your Moonfire by 3/6% and the damage done by your Claw and Shred by 2/4%.
More shred damage is always good. Also needed to unlock talents in the third Tier
- Nature’s Focus (3 points) (Unused) - Reduces the pushback suffered from damaging attacks while casting Healing Touch, Wrath, Entangling Roots, Cyclone, Nourish, Regrowth and Tranquility by 23/46/75%.
Trees and Moonkin only.
- Furor (5 points) (Mandatory) - Gives you a 20/40/60/80/100% chance to gain 10 Rage when you shapeshift into Bear and Dire Bear Form, and you keep up to 20/40/60/80/100 of your energy when you shapeshift into Cat Form. In addition, your total intellect is increased while in Moonkin Form by 2/4/6/8/10%.
Going to get back to the good old days of 5/5 furor. No direct dps benifit, but will help with shifting out to Battle Rez or Innervate someone.
- Tier 2
- Perseverance (5 points) (Unused) - Reduces all spell damage taken by 2/4/6/8/10%.
PvP talent only it appears. May have some use for tanks.
- Subtlety [TBR] (3 points) (Unused) - Reduces the threat generated by your Restoration spells by 10/20/30%.
- Natural Shapeshifter (3 points) (Mandatory) - Reduces the mana cost of all shapeshifting by 10/20/30%.
Used to unlock Master Shapeshifter.
- Tier 3
- Naturalist (5 points) (Mandatory) - Reduces the cast time of your Healing Touch and Nourish spells by 0.1/0.2/0.3/0.4/0.5 seconds and increases the damage you deal with physical attacks in all forms by 2/4/6/8/10%.
The standard +physical damage we know now.
- Omen of Clarity (1 point) (Mandatory) - Each of the druid’s damage, healing spells and auto-attacks has a chance of causing the caster to enter a Clearcasting state. The Clearcasting state reduces the mana, rage or energy cost of your next damage spell, healing spell or offensive ability by 100%.
Clearcasts! More shreds! Yay!
- Master Shapeshifter (2 points; Requires 3 points in Natural Shapeshifter) (Mandatory) - Grants an effect which lasts while the druid is within the respective shapeshift form.
- Bear Form – Increases physical damage by 2/4%.
- Cat Form – Increases critical strike chance by 2/4%.
- Moonkin Form – Increases spell damage by 2/4%.
- Tree of Life Form – Increases healing by 2/4%.
Crit is always good.
Looks like we will be rocking a 0/58/18 build (I’d probably use something like this one) for the most part as level 85 kitties in cataclysm. True to Blizzard’s word about Cataclysm specs, there will be about five free points in the feral tree to use in various talents that won’t directly affect your dps in a large way (and some could argue even more than that). Talents are more fun and less boring, as blizzard promised, and there are some very exciting changes.
One thing to note, from what I’ve seen going on in the Druid forums, a lot of people are forgetting of the damage bonuses that are going to be provided through Mastery, which is probably the reason for certain “nerfs” like the one to naturalist.
OH MY GOD!!! NOM NOM NOM is going to be AWESOME!!!!!
Ok, my euphoria aside, I can honestly say that this talent makes up for my slight disappointment of having no new kitty-exclusive move in cataclysm outside the kick clone that’s supposed to be added. This will definitely evolve the kitty rotation, and add a new level to it, something that I wholeheartedly support. This will also revitalize the use of Ferocious Bite a whole lot more in PvE. Parts of this talent simplify the kitty rotation (at least sub-25%) and others add a little complexity. I’m sure there’s going to be huge theorycrafting discussions on what the best method will be to maximize dps when the target goes below 25% health. It will be key for good kitties to watch the health pool of the boss, and their combo points, in order to start refreshing rip as soon as possible, and hopefully not use rip again for the rest of the fight.
As far as general impressions go, I do like how blizz has lived up to their promises and opened up speccing a bit more. Now I can add a lot more raid utility and survivability to my spec without gimping my raid dps. Cataclysm is definitely looking to be a fun expansion.