I’ve mentioned a few times but as a recap, I played a Destruction Warlock for raiding during most of Pandaria, and with the coming of Warlords I remain committed to being ready to raid on the character. Not sure where that’s going at the moment, seem to be a raider without a team, but I’m certainly ready to do LFR tonight if I can possibly stand it. I still have two iLevel 615 items that linger on like the smell of a dead woodchuck in a dryer vent, but I might replace both tonight with crafted items. I really like that Blizzard lets us pick what items we craft for ourselves, we’re just limited to having three equipped. Allows for a lot of flexibility.
For raiding, there is the Warlock. Cocked, locked and ready to rock. Or is that rocked, cocked and ready to ‘lock? Meh.
That’s the raiding, sure. The group stuff with people. Being part of a team.
When it comes to having fun playing with myself, it’s the Feral Druid.
It feels to me like something came full circle with Feral Druids in Warlords. Kitty Druids are, shit, I don’t know. It feels wrong to say they’re fun again, because I don’t think they ever stopped being fun.
I think what happened for me was that the division between Feral and Guardian split my love in two, and neither spec alone fulfilled the feral itch for me anymore.
That’s all changed, and my love has come back to me. No, that’s wrong. I’ve returned to the love I once abandoned, and it has welcomed me with open paws.
I’m feeling really good about playing as a Cat again. I’ve been having a good time solo leveling through Draenor.
I’m looking forward to writing about playing as a kitty in the future, something I haven’t done in a long time now, but for now, I’d like to break down some of the changes and comparisons that are firing my imagination and causing so much soloing love.
One of the big changes for me is a stark comparison in playstyles for the stealthy-minded sort.
After patch 6.0 came but before Warlords was fully released, I spent a lot of time on both my Rogue and my Feral Druid. I rapidly leveled my Rogue to 90, at the same time I prepared my Druid with new gear and achievement in advance of the expansion.
Side by side playing a Cat and a Rogue, I could clearly see two different approaches to being a stealthy leather-wearing melee DPS that use combo points.
Again, this is purely from a ‘damn this is fun to play solo and cat around Draenor’ point of view. It sure as HELL isn’t about maximizing DPS. It’s about fun for me.
The playstyle for Feral Druid feels… stripped down. Cut to the bone. No frills, no distractions. If you choose to, every combo point action you take can cause DPS, while still allowing for a lot of survivability.
Rogues spend combo points to set up their big DPS buff timer, and again later in place of a DPS finishing move to cast a HoT on themselves when they need healing. Rogues get plenty of defensive actions too, no question, lots and lots of tools in the box. But when it comes to buffing DPS and healing themselves regularly without blowing a cooldown, Rogues are spending combo points to do it, points that aren’t being used on DPS finishing moves.
For the Kitty things are much different.
For one thing, Savage Roar is our version of a combo point DPS buff on a timer… but there are two Glyphs you can choose from to remove the need to manage that buff or spend points on it. Glyph of Savagery puts Savage Roar up ALL the time but at 10% less power, and Glyph of Savage Roar puts it up for free any time you Rake or Shred while you were Prowling.
Two choices for removing the need to spend combo points on the buff. For raiding, you’re likely to want Glyph of Savage Roar.
But for soloing? Glyph of Savagery gives you the buff at a reduced level of effectiveness, and lets you focus all of those combo points on finishing moves.
Yes, you lose DPS by reducing the power of Savage Roar. I haven’t done tests yet because i’m not at 100 , but I imagine you’ll be losing a lot. See what I mean about not suited for raiding? But what you gain is not just one less buff timer to manage, you also gain those combo points to spend on direct damage or DoT uptime. It’s a DPS loss, but not as much of one as you might expect. You have to figure losing 10% DPS from Savage Roar against the increased frequency of DPS finishing moves, those same moves also being 10% less effective than they could have been.
For soloing, does it really matter?
The other thing is that Cat Druids don’t have to spend combo points to heal yourself. The talent Ysera’s Gift gives you tiny healing every 5 seconds, and when you pop any full five combo point finishing move you trigger a free instant cast of Healing Touch that doesn’t drop you out of forms.
Sounds good? Ah, but the catch is that you’re not a healer so your Healing Touch sucks. Ah! But there’s more. With Dream of Cenarius, your Healing Touch and Rejuvenation are 20% more effective. With the Glyph of Cat Form, all healing done to you is increased in effectiveness by another 20%.
And as you level, your Rejuvenation gets empowered so you can cast it in Cat Form. You can keep that going as well.
Incarnation King of the Jungle is an awesome talent that provides VERY powerful burst DPS and looks neat… but if you choose to take Soul of the Forest, you’ll be getting back more energy with your finishing moves, which lets you do more Shreds, which builds more points for finishing moves… all of which trigger more free Healing Touch spells.
It’s the opposite of a vicious circle… it’s a ring of delight, as doing more damage causes you more opportunity for healing in an endless chain.
I have been using Heart of the Wild myself in the early levels because I like to pop bear form and HotW, pretend I’m still a Feral Druid with effective Cat AND Bear forms all the time.
Last night I admit, I tried out a Dream of Cenarius build for a bit, and I never ended any fight with less than full health.
It’s almost like kitty heal tanking.
For soloing and tearing up rares in Draenor, it’s been a blast.
So let me run this down for you. With Glyph of Cat Form, Glyph of Savagery, Ysera’s Gift, Soul of the Forest and Dream of Cenarius, your DPS rotation can be streamlined down to Rake, Shred to 5 combo points, Rip, free Healing Touch, Shred to 5 combo points refreshing Rake as needed, Ferocious Bite, free Healing Touch, and when the target is below 25% stop worrying about Rip, the Ferocious Bite automatically refreshes it.
Or, to be simpler; Rake, Shred(x?), Rip, Shred(x?), Bite. Heal if it feels good to you, one’ll be available ALL the damn time. Getting tight on health? Rejuvenate too!
This… this is not a complicated rotation, lol.
And this is without using the Glyph of Ferocious Bite, which adds even more self-healing for every Bite! I like my reduced cooldown on Dash while soloing. But I could almost convince myself to make do with Stampeding Roar, and sacrifice more frequent Dashes to really see how silly kitty heal tanking can get on rare mobs.
Now, I’m not max level yet. I’m leveling like a fiend, but I’ve been dead set on gearing my Warlock for raiding. I’ve been coming late to this.
But think on this. At level 100, you get new talents to choose from.
I’ll admit that I’m fascinated to try out Claws of Shirvallah. A new visual form that makes you a humanoid shaped kitty? Interesting to try, I can hardly wait to see it.
But I love true cat-form too much to expect to want to use it. Lunar Inspiration gives you kitty moonfire. Is that awesome or what?
Ah, but as neat as that is, what have we been talking about? Healing without sacrificing DPS. Kitty heal tanking.
And what could be better than flipping that around with Bloodtalons, the level 100 talent that makes your next two melee abilities after casting Healing Touch do 30% more damage.
Just… Ring of delight. Your attacks give you free heals that in turn increase your damage from attacks.
Oh, are you taking a lot of damage? Now we can honestly say the proper response is DEEPS HARDER. Yes!
For raiding, not so much. You don’t have to be totally self–sufficient in the healing department when you’re with a raid team.
But for soloing? For stealthy adventuring in the deepest dark corners of the map?
I’ll tell you… it plays even more fun than it sounds. So much fun.
Moonfire is so tempting, though. And I love Heart of the Wild and popping bear form. And so many fun movement choices, teleporting, always running fast, ugh. So many fun choices that matter in our talent tree!
This is a GOOD THING. So much fun, handle it!