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Feral Druid in Shadowlands - DPS Strengths, Best Covenants, Soulbinds and Legendaries
16.11.2020 um 22:38
Shadowlands launches on November 23rd / 24th and all classes will be getting new toys to play with -- from Covenant abilities, to Conduits and returning Legendary effects! This article, written by Guiltyas, will provide details on the current state of Feral Druid in Shadowlands, to help you to prepare for the upcoming expansion!
With Shadowlands official launch right around the corner we're looking at how the Beta cycle has worked out for Feral. In the previous state of article we'd just come out of alpha, and while there had been some positive changes made, there was a lot that we a) didn't know or b) wanted to see further changes too. Since then we've gotten a much clearer picture of the direction of Feral in Shadowlands, We've now got legendaries, conduits, and there have been a variety of additional changes that for the most part addressed the problem areas that we highlighted previously. This review will of course be primarily targeting PvE content, both M+ and raiding, so your mileage may vary in other aspects of the game.
About the Author
Some of you may already know who I am, but for those who don't.
Hi, My name is Guiltyas, I have played feral for a number of years and for some unknown reason I'm extremely passionate about it. I'm highly active in the
, I write the
here on Wowhead and I have somehow tricked <Pure> on Turalyon into trialing me as a Feral druid going into Shadowlands.
In addition to all of that you can find me on
(where I occasionally publish a feral related podcast),
(where i will be extremely opinionated about all kinds of subjects) and infrequently
Check out all our Shadowlands Launch Opinion articles by our Class Writers and members of the community! Click on any of the colored specs below to see what articles we've released so far.
These guides were meant to give you a preview of what's to come in the expansion, but don't worry -- our full Shadowlands Class Guides will be updated soon!
Blood Death Knight
Frost Death Knight
Unholy Death Knight
Havoc Demon Hunter
Vengeance Demon Hunter
Beast Mastery Hunter
Recent Changes to Feral Druid
Fortunately much of the changes that we wanted going into the beta cycle and that we listed in our initial
state of article
have actually been addressed and favourable changes have addressed most of our issues. Some issues still remain but for the most part we should be pretty happy about the changes!
has been adjusted, it no longer increases
s duration by 5 seconds, instead only increasing by 1 seconds. This doesn't completely remove the issues with the talent but it does minimise it a lot, you now need to consider
's duration before biting, which results in a significant change in the rotation.
That's not to say that it isn't still significantly simplified, on average
now adds around 60 seconds to each
which is still a significant increase on the base duration.
has been changed significantly as anyone who has played in prepatch will be able to tell. The previous iteration of
was a 40% energy reduction,
now treats your spells as if you were stealthed and refunds combo points when you cast a finisher. To go along with this changes were made to the stealthed version of
, which now grants 2 combo points allways (meaning 3 combo points on a critical strike).
While the previous version of
"sped up feral" by allowing you to cast more spells, this "speeds up feral" by significantly reducing the duration of your cycles, turning more of your casts into finishers rather than generators, functionally acting as a damage amplifier.
Bloodtalons has recieved a marginal change since the first article and now triggers off any 3 unique generators, rather than being limited to
. This simplifies it a little bit on single target, and makes it slightly nicer to play on AOE, but it isn't a significant gameplay change.
is a perk that causes your
to grant an additional combo point when cast from stealth. This combined with the
change that refunds up to 2 combo points when you cast a finisher will reduces finishers with a crit
to a single GCD in between finishers.
is a perk that causes your
to refund an additional combo point (2 total, up from 1) when you cast a finisher (20% chance per combo point)
is a perk that causes your
to withstand 20% more damage3 before breaking, this likely won't have significant impact on gameplay, but may make it more useful for controlling mobs in certain encounters.
is a perk that gives
an additional 40% increased chance of critting when the target is already affected by
, a little extra healing is always nice but this likely doesn't change too much in terms of gameplay.
Covenant abilities being the new central power system of Shadowlands it will likely have big impact on the state of classes. We've only seen the surface of system so far which presents itself in 2 abilities you obtain from signing on with each covenant. A generic utility ability and a class specific combat ability.
I'm sure anyone following the discourse around Shadowlands will be aware of some of the issues that people have raised with the wide system so i'll avoid harping on about it past this one statement, not being able to swap covenants at all is an awful system that actively punishes anyone who wants to participate in multiple aspects of the game with almost no redeeming benefit. It is awful and it should change.
So onto my thoughts about the actual abilities themselves.
- This covenant has changed a little since the initial article, in the same vein as the initial design. You still link with another member but now both members receive a "pool" of damage, containing 20% of damage dealt by each person, this pool is then spent as additional damage on each ability, or healing, or as a shield when taking damage. It's still pretty boring, but now it's complicated and boring. This ability still doesn't attribute all damage to the druid so it will appear worse on logs than it is actually performing.
- To add onto an exceedingly boring class ability comes an exceedingly boring Covenant ability. The main combat part of this is a flask that will heal you for a portion of your health and remove bleeds, poisons, and diseases. It also gives you access to a talent changing station and a repair bot. I think the ability is fine and it looks to be reasonably useful on a variety of fights in Nathria. It's not very interesting or fun though.
- This is Kyrian Potency conduit, it reduces the cooldown of
for each rank, this is actually a downgrade from the default cooldown of
as it de-syncs it from
- Stacking damage boost on a 3 minute CD, the Idle period can also be stacked by non combat abilities such as
, also has some extremely nice quality of life, if you are CCed while the buff is ticking down it will not trigger the negative effects from being Idle.
- There's been a LOT of talk about this particular covenant ability and how "gamebreaking" it is. I definitely don't agree. I think it's super overrated and has super limited combat value, especially on a spec like Feral with such high baseline mobility. There's no such thing as too much mobility but there certainly is such a thing as diminishing returns on your mobility, the more mobility you have the less you need more, and I think this lands solidly in that category (especially with a cast time attached).
- This is the Venthyr Potency conduit, it causes
to grant crit in addition to it's other bonuses for each stack you have. This is actually a pretty significant increase on the default bonus from
- Fairly short CD dot/hot that also empowers your own dots/hots. Due to the way the CD and duration line up you can have 2 of these out for some multi-target value. I have the least strong feelings about this particular ability. it feels fine to play, and anything that boosts our DOT value is kind of A-okay in my book.
- I actually think that this is the best covenant ability for feral. The shield is pretty large baseline and you can make it even larger. The channel time is a bit annoying but it has a really long duration. It's not super flashy but it's more interesting than Kyrian
- This is the Necrolord Potency conduit, it increases the dot damage increase from
, while this isn't bad it's not a significant increase especially compared to some of the feral specific conduits.
Konvokation der Geister
- This ability casts 12 spells, 8 of which are form specific spells, it has been much improved since the initial version and now plays reasonably well, it can be cast while moving which is a huge upgrade from the initial version and now feels reasonably okay to play, There is still a level of variance that can be frustrating but it is much improved, especially with the most recent change that causes convoke to cast
moonfire rather than default moonfire.
- Much like
this lands in the "do we really need this much mobility" category, and we kind of don't but this particular ability is a lot more interesting (who doesn't love a collection minigame). I actually also think this has more potential combat value than door of shadows due to it's Instant nature. Baseline however the form is about as fast as Travel form, so on outside fights we won't gain that much value from the movement speed.
Konflux der Elemente
- This is the Night Fae Potency conduit, it increases all damage dealt during
Konvokation der Geister
. Again this isn't bad but it's not a significant increase compared to the feral specific conduits.
Picking a Covenant
I know it might seem close to the expansion, but there's still a few weeks left for focused tuning, but if Shadowlands were to release tomorrow I'd be recommending Kyrian, it's uninteresting, but it's tuned the highest on both Single Target and Multi Target as well as being the most versatile, being useful in all content as well as having a signature ability that seems to be of the most use for progress in Nathria.
Feral Druid Soulbinds and Conduits
Soulbinds and conduits are the other aspects of the covenant you pick, a talent tree-esque system with slots to socket in "conduits" relic like items that grant additional effects to your abilities, coming in three flavours, "Potency" - throughput increases, "Endurance" - which grant's defensive bonuses, "finesse" - which grants utility bonuses.
When you pick a covenant you'll also pick a soulbind from 3 options, if you pick Kyrian for example the below would be the ideal Soulbind tree.
Pelagos is a generally powerful tree due to it's strong final trait
Die Vergangenheit loslassen
and a path that allows you to easily path through 2 potency conduit slots. Most of the nodes you pass through are reasonably meaningless,
is nice to have but doesn't really impact your choice. Really what it comes down is just the damage gain from the final trait and from the potency conduits you path through
If you didn't want to pick Pelagos for some reason, the next best choice would be Kleia, in this path you'd only get 1 potency conduit and would get an additional endurance conduit instead, you'll also path through some more valuable defensive nodes on the way to the final node
Conduits come in three different varieties, "Potency" - throughput increases, "Endurance" - which grant's defensive bonuses, "finesse" - which grants utility bonuses. Each different soulbind path will give you access to a different number of conduit slots, and they come in various different ranks (up to rank 7 in the first tier). There are also conduits specific to each covenant.
- Increases the damage bonus of
by a percentage depending on the rank. This is one of the better Potency conduits, though it does not really impact your playstyle.
- Grants you a chance per tick of
to earn additional energy with the chance scaling per rank of the conduit. This is not one of the best conduits even on AOE, and it won't really impact playstyle outside of having slightly more energy.
- With this Conduit your finishing moves have a chance per combo point spent to make your next
act as if cast from stealth. This gives you a proc to track that ideally you'll want to spend on
to maintain stealth snapshots on
. This is one of the best conduits for feral.
Verlangen nach Blut
- This conduit increases the damage dealt by
for each bleed on the target. This is one of the best Conduits for feral, and encourages you to maintain more bleeds on the target to maximize
Conduits for feral are pretty powerful, most of the best Soulbind paths will involve you taking 2 potency conduits.
Ideally you'll want to be picking
along with one of the following:
Verlangen nach Blut
for Single Target,
for AOE, or if you're Venthyr
This does shift depending on what covenant you are and the rank of your conduits so the best result will allways be to sim it but as a general guideline that should serve you well.
There are also a variety of interesting Endurance and Finesse conduits such as
Spitze des Rudels
however these don't have quite as much impact on play as the potency conduits. Fortunately the best of the Potency conduits are actually the most interesting of the conduits with
Verlangen nach Blut
leading the front of the pack.
Legendaries are the last facet of borrowed power in Shadowlands, while doing normal content around Shadowlands you'll find recipes that allow you to craft Legendaries with stats of your choice and the effects you've unlocked.
There are a variety of these powers that are feral specific but there are also certain legendary recipes that are available to all 4 druid specs and some of these are fairly powerful options!
Feral Specific Legendaries
Gelüst des Eliteraubtiers
- Apex predator's craving gives a chance on each
tick to grant a free use of
. This use of
will behave as if it was cast with 5 combo points and 50 energy for the maximum output. This is a pretty fun legendary to play and when combined with Primal Wrath allows you to funnel damage into targets very effectively on multi target scenarios.
- This legendary increases your maximum energy by 60 and refunds 25% of the cost of abilities cast with Clearcasting. This is one of the best general legendaries for feral, It's one of the best Single target choices and it's a solid Multi target choice. It's not a significant change in play, it primarily means you'll have slightly more energy to play with.
Auge der furchteinflößenden Symmetrie
- This causes your next 2 finishing moves after you
to refund 2 combo points. This is an interesting and strong option, particularly on AOE where you get constant Predator resets, and much like Apex Predator's it allows you to funnel damage effectively.
Band der Raserei
- Frenzyband causes your Generators during
to apply a bleed for 100% of their damage and also reduces the cooldown of your
(or Incarnation). While not the most powerful legendary by itself when combined with Incarnation it can be very competitive!
Only 2 of the Druid general legendaries are really relevant for Feral dps, but the two that are relevant are fairly interesting and powerful options. Both of them orient around your dots.
Kreislauf aus Leben und Tod
- This is the legendary that you might have seen referred to as "JW" or "Jagged Wounds" this is because it's designed around a Feral talent removed during BFA that functioned in the same way. This is both an interesting and a strong option, competitive on single target and with some covenant selections the best on multi target. It changes your rotation a decent amount, and is particularly interesting with
where it really fullfills the fantasy of racing the clock on your bleed durations.
Trunk der tiefen Konzentration
- is the other general legendary option that may see use. While not as interesting as Circle it's a powerful option on pure single target, with the disadvantage of course being that it only works on single target.
Picking a Legendary
Due to the way Legendaries function you'll be picking a legendary pretty early in the expansion, you'll want to pick something that functions in dungeon content and if you raid also works for that when raid opens, fortunately for feral this is pretty doable.
For Kyrian in mythic + the
remains the best choice, however for all other covenants you can alternatively choose to use
Kreislauf aus Leben und Tod
for aoe and mythic + content which may make some ferals nostalgic for legion reasonably happy!
remains the best single target legendary for all covenants. The general legendary,
Trunk der tiefen Konzentration
, is not far behind but does have the significant drawback of only really functioning on a single target.
Conclusion - State of Feral in Shadowlands?
While some people might not agree, I think this beta cycle has been broadly positive for Feral's. Much of the issues we raised early in the alpha and beta cycle have been addressed.
The big bug bears we had going into alpha were the state of
, The weakness of
, and the lack of utility. While Utility has not been addressed almost all of our other peeves or issues have been addressed.
has been adjusted to be an interesting and powerful burst option that adjust pacing without flooding the spec with energy, which addresses scaling concerns with haste or heroism in particular. Rather than directly making you cast more abilities it now moves casts into more powerful abilities such as
and reducing the Cycle duration to fit more
s into the available energy pool. Which is in my opinion a much more interesting way of approaching pacing changes.
was another major concern going into the Alpha, we've gone through almost an entire expansion with
as the premier (and most uninteresting) talent in the row. Going into Alpha there were significant concerns by some portions of the community (me included) that this would be the case again in Shadowlands. Fortunately the changes blizzard have made to the talent have made it, if not perfect, at least reasonably interesting. The reduced extension on the talent seems to target a fantasy whereby
functions similarly to void form, and you have to balance refreshing
to both maximize
casts while not losing available snapshots for
still isn't perfect (in my opinion at least), on average you'll get around a 60s extension to each
, which means that on a 5 minute fight you'll be casting
5 times, but that's a significant improvement over the BFA version of
where that number would be 1.
Utility was the last thing that we were lacking going into Shadowlands, on this aspect nothing has really changed. Feral is still severely lacking on the utility front, on this subject much of what I addressed in my original article continues to apply to Feral going forwards. Feral continues to be a melee spec in a world where melee spots are at a premium where everything that feral brings is brought by other specs, tank, ranged, and healer, and other melee specs bring either unique (and functionally mandatory) damage buffs or powerful raid utility. This isn't a feral specific issue and it's not an easy one to solve, but despite no changes in this area it remains an issue.
the final bug bear to conquer - tuning. It's at this point of the beta cycle where the big T word becomes relevant. No matter how well designed or positive the changes to feral are it all falls on it's face if the tuning is not right. As it is at the moment I do think feral is slightly undertuned, though the buffs this week go a way towards addressing it, hopefully blizzard continue iterating and feral lands in a favourable spot!
I hope anyone who's made it to the bottom here has enjoyed reading, i'm optimistic for feral going into shadowlands and look forward to getting my hands on it in just 2 short weeks!
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