Know Your Enemy – Feral Druids

I’m struggling to get a 3v3 team at the moment (priest partner isn’t enjoying 3v3 healing and my DPS has just moved house) so I’ve spent the week mostly in […]

I’m struggling to get a 3v3 team at the moment (priest partner isn’t enjoying 3v3 healing and my DPS has just moved house) so I’ve spent the week mostly in 2s and RBGs. Something I hadn’t realised during 3v3s was how much a feral still counters rogues. It’s a spec I’ve never played and I’ve done about three arena games with a feral partner since TBC – prior to 5.3 I can’t remember meeting many in RBGs either, but I’ve had a couple of disappointing games this week where I repeatedly failed to take a base 1v1 from a feral defender.

So, I’ve been talking to a feral glad friend and looking into a spec that (along with enhancement) I’ve never really bothered to learn about. Here’s a crash course in feral druids, written from a rogue perspective. I’m not going to list all of their abilities, just the ones it’s important to know.

Offensive Abilities

NightstalkerIncarnation
Incarnation is the druid version of shadowdance and allows them to use pounces (cheapshots) and ravages (ambushes) out of stealth for 30seconds. Luckily it’s VERY easy to spot – their appearance changes drastically. Here are screenshots of a feral druid before and after he has popped incarnation.
Druid
Incarnation
If a druid suddenly spouts feathers and armor, get ready to play very defensively.

NightstalkerBerserk
While Incarnation is similar to shadowdance, Berserk is the feral equivalent of Shadow Blades. Even though it’s an enrage, it can’t be dispelled via shiv (neither can Savage Roar since MoP landed).

Faerie Fire
Yes, I know it’s not strictly speaking an offensive ability, but out of every spell in WoW it’s the one that offends me the most. This abomination is usable every 6seconds and there’s not much you can do about it other than cloak it off or beg for dispels when you need to set up a blind>vanish>sap CC chain on someone.

Main Defensive Cooldowns

NightstalkerHeart of the Wild
The strength of this ability is indicated by it’s lengthy cooldown. If you’ve ever seen a resto druid suddenly switch to cat form and destroy someone, this is how they do it. Ferals using HotW gain a decent healing buff with no mana costs on their heals – they’re very hard to kill through this ability so make sure you don’t use all of your burst to force this cooldown.

NightstalkerMight of Ursoc
This gives decent survivability on top of the extra armor/health from Bear Form. It has a 20 second duration but it is cancelled if the druid switches form.

Druids also have Survival Instincts and Nature’s Swiftness – all you can really do is sit them out, they’re likely to be off cooldown on every kill opportunity you have.

Utility Cooldowns

NightstalkerPredatory Swiftness
Free instant cast cyclones (or heals) without the need to switch form – the buff can be dispelled (but not by shiv) so call out to your partners if they have an ability which will remove this. It only lasts 8seconds so if the druid doesn’t burn it immediately you can gouge/stun them so it runs out.

Displacer Beast, Typhoon, Nature’s Grasp/Entangling Roots
When combined with their high mobility, these three spells make Burst of Speed a necessity if you plan on going toe-to-toe with a feral. Without it, a good feral will be able to stay out of your range until he’s feeling safe again.

NightstalkerInnervate
If you’re unlucky enough to be facing a feral 1v1, innervate will be the last of your worries. In team games your partners should focus on dispelling it the second they notice it, 10% of a healer’s mana isn’t a huge amount but if you’re trying to win a mana-war it will really damage your progress.

Symbiosis

When you face any druid in arenas you should first look at their partners to work out what their Symbiosis ability will be. As they can only have one of their partner’s ability they will naturally go for the strongest – some classes give feral druids very strong abilities. There’s a full list of symbiosis abilities on Wowpedia but the ones to watch out for are these;

Abilities gained by Druid

Abilities gained by Druid’s Partner

Conclusion

Ferals have a lot of different abilities, but only a few buff icons you need to be alert for. Incarnation and Berserk are the obvious abilities to be careful of, but make sure you call out dispels on Predatory Swiftness and Innervates in case your healer doesn’t see them in time. With their stuns, bleeds and mobility feral druids feel like rogues crossbred with prot warriors. The damage put out by a feral beats that of even an assassination rogue so try not to turn games against them into mana wars – as rogues we don’t stand much of a chance against them 1v1, but through well timed burst/cc, an awareness of their cooldowns and a bit of luck, you can still beat them in team situations.


No article about feral druids would be complete without a reference to ‘cat durid is 4 fite’ and a link to the Alamo page on Wowpedia. Enjoy!

About Dcruize

Rogue addict, PVP junkie, insomniac. I started playing WoW in 2006 and, after being told that 'nobody wants a rogue', tried to level a priest. I quickly realized that love and approval were a poor alternative to stealth and ambush and have been backstabbing away quite happily ever since.