The current version of Feral is very much at odds with the identity that has been associated with it for the longest time: a slow paced, DoT juggling spec. Currently it’s a high APM direct damage spec, which maintains its primary DoT for free from the pull until the end of most fights. One big goal is shifting it back in the direction of bleeds being the focus, as well as slowing down the pace a bit.
Another big issue is that Feral’s DPS CD is awful. It’s absurdly weak, and contradicts the spec’s slow paced identity. Turning the DPS CD Feral uses into something that is more interactive, alters decisionmaking and doesn’t suddenly make a slow paced spec GCD capped is another goal of this rework.
Feral has a surprisingly low amount of decisionmaking remaining, as the only DoT left to really manage on ST is Rake, and on AoE it’s essentially the same except you replace Rake with Thrash and Shred with Swipe. Adding some decisionmaking and rotation-altering effects to the spec solves some of this, as the current spec is quite straight forward, set in stone and repetitive.
I also strongly believe that specs should get positive reinforcement for correct play, both in order to intuitively allow people to figure out most of the correct play patterns and in order to encourage using utility abilities, like DH interrupt or Sephuz’ Secret in Legion.
Finally there are some effects that were quite iconic or unique to Feral from past expansions, some of which would make sense to add back in some form.
Direct damage, costs energy, generates combo point
Bleed, costs energy, generates combo point. Deals double damage and stuns if cast from stealth.
Direct damage AoE, costs energy, generates combo point
Bleed AoE, costs energy, generates combo point
Nothing really changed in the generator department, the setup of having 1 filler and 1 DoT for both AoE and ST works fine.
Direct damage finisher, consumes up to 2x energy to increase damage, 2.5 cycle duration
Self-buff finisher, lasts longer per combo point spent(max 3 CP cycles)
Small damage, stunning finisher
Heals target for initial healing and applies a HoT. Instant cast, 2 charges, 2 cycle hasted CD
The finishers are also mostly fine, with the return of Savage Roar to baseline adding some more depth to the decisionmaking of combo points. For durations I used CP cycles rather than seconds, as it better illustrates how frequently you’d be using each finisher. More on Regrowth in the notes on Predatory Swiftness.
Doubles Shred crit chance, doubles Rake damage(same snapshot as stealth), Swipe can proc Primal Fury on each target(instead of just once per cast), Thrash reduces the cost of Swipe for each unique target hit until Incarnation ends. Increases damage done by x%. Lasts 15 seconds, 3 minute CD.
The energy cost reduction is removed, as just speeding up the pace of the spec through GCD capping you doesn’t mesh well with a slow paced overall spec. On ST, it’s essentially a shorter duration live Incarnation, because the long duration of Incarnation doesn’t work very well with short burst windows. On AoE, it uses an effect similar to Scent of Blood to speed up the pace a bit again, because due to the Swipe effect you’re going to be casting a lot more finishers. It’s likely that most of those finishers will be Ferocious Bite, which is very energy intensive and reducing Swipe’s cost makes up for this a bit. It allows for funneling damage from AoE into ST, but in a less broken way than Subtlety’s old Shuriken Combo. The reason for making Thrash require unique targets is to avoid having you spam Thrash at the beginning of Incarnation on lower target counts, instead if you have 3 targets to hit, that’s all the reduction you’re going to get.
Restores 60 energy. Your next finisher gets an additional effect and you deal 25% more damage(snapshots) for 10 seconds. 30 second CD.
Rip applies to all targets around you.
Ferocious Bite adds 0.2 cycles to Savage Roar’s duration on your target per combo point spent, if no Rip is present on the target also deal double damage
First of all the power of the snapshot is increased, to make properly utilizing it more rewarding. The second effect is inspired by Thunder Focus Tea on Mistweavers. It effectively keeps Primal Wrath a part of the spec but avoids the current situation where you just spam refresh the Rip from it thanks to the direct damage on impact. The Ferocious Bite effect fills both the role of being a generic ST effect that essentially lets you wait another cycle before Savager Roar needs refreshing, and the role of priority target burst, something that Feral has historically struggled with.
Critical strikes with generators generate an extra combo point. Your base energy regen is increased by 5(for a total of 15)
Not much changes here, with the exception of adding a tuning knob for the spec’s pre-haste/crit pacing, and compensating for a lowering of Omen of Clarity procrate.
After casting a finisher, for 3 seconds your generators apply a short bleed, which ignites.
This is an example of positive reinforcement of correct play, in this case pooling before casting your finisher, in order to get 1–2 applications of the bleed. It’s inspired by both Ashamane’s Rip from Legion, which filled a similar role, and the Feral Frenzy ability.
Each combo point spent reduces the CD of Regrowth by 0.1 cycles.
Changing Regrowth(and Entangling Roots) to have a CD and 2 charges achieves a few things. The first and most obvious is that you can now cast finishers below 5 combo points without randomly getting screwed, you now know exactly what you’re going to get. The second is that thanks to the 2 charges, you are now more flexible in when you can use it for offhealing, as well as allowing some degree of pooling. The CD length is basically tuned so a full 5 combo point cycle gives you 1 charge(half from the direct refund on finisher, half from the time the cycle takes), meaning the frequency of Regrowths is not changed substantially.
Dream of Cenarius(mastery):
Casting Regrowth or Entangling Roots causes your next 2 abilities to deal 25%+mastery extra damage(snapshots)
Renamed the current Bloodtalons effect because I wanted to use the name for something else. It being the mastery takes the mastery from something entirely passive that only affects your bleeds to something more impactful which allows you to choose where to allocate it. The increased power of the effect also increases the impact of this decision.
Omen of Clarity:
Your next generator costs no energy. Consuming this grants you either Omen of Blood or Omen of Claws(selected randomly) causing your next finisher to give you either Bloodtalons(Omen of Blood) or Sharpen Claws(Omen of Claws).
Your next 3 Rakes deal significantly increased damage(enough to be worth casting for just direct damage over Shred, also snapshots)
Your next 3 Shreds deal increased damage and give you a stack of Razor Claws for 1 cycle(duration does not refresh). For each stack of Razor Claws, your auto attacks deal extra damage.
The idea is to have Omen actually be an Omen of something, rather than just being a name. It heralds a change in how you play in the next combo point cycle.
Bloodtalons is based on Rune of Re-Origination, which caused you to use Rake as your generator when it procced rather than Shred. In play, it would likely look something like 1–2 Rakes at the start of the next cycle, with the remaining 1–2 being put at the end of the cycle in order to maximize the duration of the snapshotted Rake damage.
Sharpen Claws is a mixed inspiration, with the Shred damage being vaguely based on the 2nd version of Unheeded Warning in Cataclysm, which at the time massively increased your Shred damage due to how Feral worked with weapon damage procs. The second part, Razor Claws, is based on Nightblooming Frond from Nighthold. The idea in terms of gameplay would be to try to get all 3 Shreds out as quickly as possible, to maximize the time you have at 3 stacks of Razor Claws.
Somewhere around 4 procs per minute would lead to decent pacing of the spec, possibly a bit on the slow side, while also giving a reasonable balance of “empty” and empowered cycles.
Leaving Cat Form gives you 100% dodge and 100% chance to deflect spells for 5 seconds. Casting Growl extends the duration by 3 seconds. 6 minute CD. CD recovers twice as quickly while in Cat Form. If the buff is still active when you shift back into Cat Form, the CD is reduced by 3 minutes.
Nine Lives is essentially a copy of Ashamane’s Protection from Legion, although with the armor component traded for spell deflection, granting effectively an immunity to targeted attacks and abilities. The cooldown is a bit complicated, probably unnecessarily so. The Growl extension is intended to reward you for actually using it to help out your tanks, but could very easily end up being degenerate by having you just pop into Bear Form and taunt, followed by the tank immediately taunting back, purely for the duration increase. The CD, if you’re in Cat Form for it, is around 3 minutes, which is in line with Hunters’ Aspect of the Turtle, which has a similar effect. If you “waste” some of the duration by going back into Cat Form early, it becomes around 1.5 minutes, which is more like Cloak of Shadows (2 minutes) or Evasion (2 minutes). This adds some more power to Feral’s already strong defensive kit, which is why Survival Instincts has been nerfed slightly.
Increased movement speed for 10 seconds. 2 min CD.
Increased movement speed for all allies within 20 yards for 8 seconds. 3 min CD.
Depends on form: caster form flies to target friendly, bear form charges and roots, cat form leaps behind and dazes, travel form leaps to target location.
Not much to say about the mobility skills, they’re mostly unchanged, with Stampeding Roar getting a more reasonable range, and Travel Form Wild Charge becoming Heroic Leap-esque rather than a forward Disengage.
50% damage reduction for 6 seconds, 3 min recharge, 2 charges.
Interrupt, 15 sec CD, short charge to the target if not in melee range. Successful interrupt(or hitting within 1 second of another player’s successful interrupt) generates 20 energy.
Another example of positive reinforcement, similar to what Demon Hunters already have, although 20 energy is likely a bit low.
Turn into a bear, gain armor and stamina.
Taunts enemy. Only castable in Bear Form.
Turn into a deer, run faster.
Dispels all curses from a friendly target. 10 second CD if successful. Castable in shapeshift forms. Successfully dispelling a curse reduces the CD of Tiger’s Fury by 15 seconds.
Purges an enrage effect. 10 second CD if successful, and reduces the CD of Tiger’s Fury by 15 seconds if successful.
Another 2 examples of positive reinforcement, this time for using offensive/defensive dispels. These are more situational, so the reward is a bit bigger.
Roots target enemy. Breaks after some damage. Shares charges with Regrowth.
Grips enemies in an area to the centre, and the next time they attempt to leave the area they get rooted.
A combination of Ursol’s Vortex and Mass Entanglement(or Gorefiend’s Grasp and Binding Shot), giving Feral an AoE CC ability, which it is currently lacking.
Combat rez. Castable for free, including in shapeshift forms.
Causes target beast or dragonkin to fall asleep for 1 minute, 45 second CD. Sleeping enemies do not trigger proximity aggro. Breaks immediately on damage.