Friday, July 2, 2010

A Primer on Kitty DPS, Part 2 (The Spec and Glyphs)

I can't think of anything funny or witty to open this up with, so... here I go again!

Here is Part 1... refer to that if you're a little confused.

I realize that a lot of this will be useless soon, as Cataclysm will change everything, but hey I'm just late to the party getting in on this.  It will get reworked come Cataclysm.  Besides, I had to get my rant off my (4) readers' feeds.

The Kitty Spec

There used to be a little difference between the best specs for single-target or AOE DPS, but with the changes to Mangle they are close enough together that I'm going to present just one spec...

Just like the Bear Spec, you have a few points in the Resto tree, none at all in Balance, and a ton in Feral.

Restoration Talents

Tier 1

2/2 Improved Mark of the Wild - Increases all your attributes AND makes your buff better?  Can I get a few more points in it?

0/3 Nature's Focus - Resto/Balance Talent.  Ignore.

3/5 Furor - Gets you to the second Tier, and lets you do a little shapeshifting without always losing all your energy.

Tier 2

5/5 Naturalist - 10% damage bonus.  Need I say more?

0/3 Subtlety - Resto/Balance.  Ignore.

3/3 Natural Shapeshifter - Makes shapeshifting cheaper... and lets you get Master Shapeshifter.

Tier 3

0/3 Intensity - Not interesting to cats.  Not really interesting to bears, either, but at least they'd get something out of it.  Next.

1/1 Omen of Clarity - Free stuff is good mmkay?

2/2 Master Shapeshifter - With Natural Shapeshifter, we've spent 5 points to get only a 4% damage bonus (less mana cost is good but meh.)  We spent 5 points to get 10% just a few minutes ago.  What gives?  Well... it's not worth it without spending all 5 points here, and there's nowhere we'd rather spend all 5 points, so here it goes.  And really... it's 4% damage bonus across the board, don't complain.

Feral Talents

Tier 1

5/5 Ferocity - Reduces the Energy cost of some key abilities (with the changes to Mangle, it's most important for Rake and Swipe for cats)

5/5 Feral Aggression - Increases damage done by Ferocious Bite - not very useful except in long raid boss fights, but then it can make a significant difference.

Tier 2

3/3 Feral Instinct - The stealth upgrade is a nice bonus.  30% additional swipe damage is HUGE.  This talent was left off single-target maximized builds before the changes to Mangle.

2/2 Savage Fury - 20% increased damage to Rake and Mangle (and Claw, but... ew.)  So... 20% increased damage to Rake here.  Rake is a fairly large chunk of our DPS.  Take it!

0/3 Thick Hide - Bear talent, safely ignored.

Tier 3

2/2 Feral Swiftness - Not the most key talent, but the increased movement speed really helps get on target faster and stay on target longer during movement-heavy fights.  Increased dodge chance helps survivability as well.

1/1 Survival Instincts - An emergency button for 1 talent point, to help you through those rough patches, worth taking it.

3/3 Sharpened Claws - Static crit chance bonus?  Yes, please!

Tier 4

2/2 Shredding Attacks - Shred is one of your key DPS and combo point regen abilities, so reducing its energy cost by 18 is huge.

3/3 Predatory Strikes - This gives you a bunch of attack power (and can randomly give you an instant-cast nature spell.  While it is rarely to your benefit to cast spells... it might help?  It's here for the huge AP bonus, though.

2/2 Primal Fury - You're going to crit, a LOT.  This gets you free extra combo points when you do.

2/2 Primal Precision - A HUGE chunk of Expertise you don't need on gear is great, and you get refunded if any of your finishing moves fail to land.  Which they shouldn't, but that's another discussion, and sometimes it's unavoidable.

Tier 5

0/2 Brutal Impact - Increasing the stun duration of Pounce is... well it's PvP-focused and if you're going for a PvP spec you might want it... but here it's not really that useful.  Maybe, possibly, if you had free points you wanted to spend, but I'd still spend them elsewhere.

1/1 Feral Charge - Allows invisible-flying-cat-leap and helps in engaging enemies quickly.  Worth 1 point.

0/2 Nurturing Instinct - I'm not really sure how this is useful (maybe PvP for a hybrid heal/cat spec?).

Tier 6

0/3 Natural Reaction - Bear Talent.

5/5 Heart of the Wild - 10% increased attack power... yum...

3/3 Survival of the Fittest - 6% to all attributes?  Awesome!  Oh and cats get to be uncrittable too??  Sweet!

Tier 7

1/1 Leader of the Pack - Static raidwide 5% buff to ranged and melee crit chance is good for 1 point.

0/2 Improved Leader of the Pack - Wouldn't be a terrible choice to put any points you want to move in.  Not great, but not wasted either.

0/3 Primal Tenacity - Not a bad PvP talent, but kinda wasted on a PvE build.

Tier 8

0/3 Protector of the Pack - You are not a bear.  Bad kitty.

3/3 Predatory Instincts - Damage from Melee crits increased 10%.  Not too shabby, and a reduction to damage from AOE effects to boot.

0/3 Infected Wounds - Not a bad debuff.... but doesn't help us at all.  Maybe if your raid group needs the debuff, and you've got points to spare....

Tier 9

3/3 King of the Jungle - A key talent to keep us going by giving us a way to quickly regenerate energy, with some side perks on top.

1/1 Mangle - One of our key debuffs, and a damage ability.  There's a reason people refer to one cat strategy as Manglespam.

0/3 Improved Mangle - Without this, Manglespam is a costly tactic (and you may actually want to Claw (ew!) instead).... but since it lasts 1 minute you shouldn't be using it often enough for the increased cost to matter, since normally you'll be behind an enemy so you can Shred.

Tier 10

5/5 Rend and Tear -Increases a bunch of your damage on Bleeding targets.  Since you make targets bleed (a LOT!), increases a bunch of your damage.

1/1 Primal Gore - You should Rip on any boss fight - trash you won't have time.  But for boss fights, gives you the ability to crit.  More random free damage, and it only costs 1 point.

Tier 11

1/1 Berserk - Become the flailing cat-ball of death.  You know you want to.

You may (or may not) have noticed that I'm 1 point short - that can go where you feel it will be best utilized (1/2 iLotP or 4/5 Furor are probably your best bets).

The Glyphs

Generally speaking, your best three major Glyphs are:

Rip: Increases duration (and thus damage) of Rip by 4 seconds.

Shred:  Makes your Shred extend Rip by 2 seconds, up to 6 seconds total - so makes Shred doubly-important when Rip is up.

Savage Roar:  Makes the ability that you always have up and buffs all of your attacks buff them more.

If you're weird and just don't like those, consider these Glyphs, which, while subpar, are not horrible:

Mangle: You probably should shift talent points around to take iMangle if you're going to use this.  It makes Manglespam better...

Berserk:  You get to be a cat-ball of death for a little longer.

Minor glyphs are a little more malleable.  The generally accepted "best" are:

Challenging Roar:  Not as cool for cats as bears, but makes it easier for you to sacrifice yourself (or try to shift to bear and tank for a few seconds) to save your healer.

Unburdened Rebirth:  I honestly don't think any Druid should be without this.

Dash:  Remember me talking about how it's important to move quickly in certain fights?

Peronally, I drop Challenging Roar for Aquatic Form and Dash for Glyph of the Wild.  Personal choice.

So what's the point?  See Part 1.  We increase our damage a bunch, sure, but we've made a lot of our abilities synergistic - as I said then, Savage Roar buffs everything, Mangle buffs Rip, Rake, and Shred, Rake and Rip both buff Shred, Shred extends Rip... and on the occasions we get to Ferocious Bite or have to Claw, they've got some buffs too.  The really tricky part is keeping everything going properly.

Stay tuned for Part 3 (Gear, Gems, and Enchants)! (Sometime before Cataclysm... I hope...

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