Updated 2012-01-10: Updated recommended glyphs/spec. Add Wowhead links
This guide is an updated version of my previous Hybrid Feral guide. Quite a bit has changed since that guide has been written, and this guide supersedes all the information from the previous guide, mainly in the Talents and Glyphs section. I’ve also added more information about stats, reforging, and boss strategies into the guide.
I’d like to thank the following people who have helped with making this guide possible: Mihir, Yawning, Reesi, Arielle and Leafkiller.
2. Why Hybrid Feral Bear-Cat?
There are several reasons to go Feral Bear Cat for the 4.3 Dragon Soul expansion.
- Mists of Pandaria has been announced, where Cats and Bears will have two separate trees, Feral (for Cat DPS) and Guardian (for Bear Tanking). Dragon Soul represents our last chance to make use of of a hybrid bear-cat tree before we lose it forever.
- Dragon Soul has been released, and several of the fights have been made bearcat friendly. This guide will go into some details for each fight in Dragon Soul.
- Some encounters in Dragon Soul and single tanked while others are double tanked. Being an expert bear-cat allows us easily switch between tanking and DPS roles as needed without needing to change much gear.
- Bear Druids are lacking in utility compared to the other tanks, especially when it comes to raid cooldowns. The 4T13 bonus fixes some of that but all the other tanks are also receiving similar 4T13 bonus. Our only real utility is being able to go into cat form and do DPS that is competitive with the average Damage Dealers in the raid. If we do not make use of this utility, we can be somewhat gimped compared to the other tanks.
This is the talent build that I recommend. However there are viable alternatives depending on your preferences and requirements.
Stampede was not recommended in the previous guide, but the first point is mandatory now to make the 4T13 bonus useful. The second point in Stampede is optional.
Blood in the Water was optional in the previous guide, but you will now want to have two points in it to make the 2T13 bonus useful.
Brutal Impact was optional in the previous guide, but is not recommended now because none of the bosses in Dragon Soul (and Fireland) require any interrupting.
Infected Wounds was optional in the previous guide, but is not recommended now because the talent points are needed elsewhere and other optional talents have become mandatory.
Feral Aggression was optional in the previous guide, and is still optional now. It does not give as much DPS per talent point as Stampede, so Stampede has priority, but you may be able to drop points in other talents for it.
Perseverance was mandatory in the previous guide, but it can be optional and removed if you need to push more DPS out of the build, if you feel that you have sufficient magical mitigation to not worry your healers.
Nurturing Instinct is very nice to have. There is probably not enough room for this talent, but if you are willing to give up some other talents for this, it is definitely worth getting.
Primal Madness is the worst of the Cat DPS talents that directly increases DPS, but if you must maximize your Cat DPS, you can probably find other talents to drop for this.
Leader of the Pack can be dropped if someone else in the raid is able to provide the buff.
Generally, the choice of Primary Glyphs should be:
If you are spending very little time in Bearform for the fight (e.g. Madness) it may be worth switching Glyph of Mangle out for Glyph of Bloodletting.
The Secondary Glyphs are mostly optional, and you will choose from
- Glyph of Maul – You definitely want to have this for Madness, Yor’sajh and Blackhorn
- Glyph of Frenzied Regeneration – This affects the 4T13 bonus, so it depends if your raid wants the glyphed or unglyphed version. I prefer it glyphed
- Glyph of Faerie Fire – Makes pulling more convenient
- Glyph of Rebirth – You’ll definitely want to have this if there aren’t many other Battle Rezzers in the raid
- Glyph of Feral Charge – A theoretical Cat DPS gain on Patchwerk like fights (especially if you can Feral Charge from melee range), it probably doesn’t help on any of the fights in Dragon Soul.
5. Stats and Gear
5.1 Stat Priority
For primary stat, there is no doubt about it, you will definitely want to be stacking Agility instead of Stamina.
The secondary stats priority for Hybrid Bear-Cat roughly follows the pure Bear priority except that Dodge is dropped since it doesn’t help cat form. Therefore the stat priority is:
Mastery > Expertise (up to 781) = Critical Strike > Hit (up to 961) > Expertise (up to 1682) > Haste
If you are using Reforge Lite, the recommended Stat Weights setting is:
Hit = 30, Crit = 60, Haste = 10, Expertise = 60, Mastery = 120, Hit>961 = 0, Expertise>781 = 20, Expertise>1682 = 0
If you cannot afford to change Metagems in between progression fights, you should stick to using Agile Shadowspirit Diamond, which makes a bigger difference than Austere Shadowspirit Diamond (however you definitely want to be using Austere Shadowspirit Diamond against Heroic Blackhorn). Ideally, you will have 2 helms gemmed differently to switch between, or carry one stack each of each shadowspirit diamond.
Your trinkets should have Agility, or proc Agility. However, avoid trinkets that have Haste or proc Haste (e.g. The Hungerer).
Helm: Arcanum of the Ramkahen
Shoulders: Greater Inscription of Shattered Crystal
Cloak: Enchant Cloak – Greater Critical Strike or Enchant Cloak – Major Agility
Chest: Enchant Chest – Peerless Stats
Bracers: Enchant Bracer – Agility or Draconic Embossment – Agility (for Leatherworkers Only)
Gloves: Enchant Gloves – Greater Mastery
Legs: Dragonscale Leg Armor or Charscale Leg Armor
Boots: Enchant Boots – Major Agility
Rings: Enchant Ring – Agility (for Enchanters only)
Weapon: Enchant 2H Weapon – Mighty Agility
6. Boss Strategy
6.1 Morchok (Normal)
This depends on the raid’s strategy. This fight was designed to be 2 tanked (taunting off the stacks and soaking the double stomp), but is easily doable with one tank, since the debuff is a joke and any plate class or feinting rogue can soak the double stomp without problem. You can probably soak the double stomp in cat form too with just Thick Hide, but I won’t recommend doing that during the Enrage without Barkskin or Survival Instinct.
6.2 Morchok (Heroic)
You will pretty much only be DPSing the first 10% of the fight which will only last ~20 seconds, before tanking the remaining fight. Note that you probably do not have Infected Wounds, so try to get a Death Knight on the boss you are tanking.
The is a single tank fight. If you have a pure Cat spec, switch to that.
Another good encounter to use a Feral Bearcat. You can single-tank this encounter especially in 10-man, but having a second tank makes it a lot easier, and with a Bearcat you don’t lose much DPS switching from one tanking to two tanking. Two tanking this fight makes keeping the MT up easier especially if Purple Oozes are left up. If you have the Mirror of Broken Images, it may be a good idea to equip it to make Void Bolt soaking easier.
When the oozes reach the boss, you want to be in bear form to taunt the boss and soak the first 2-3 stacks of Void Bolt. If you are in a tough ooze combo (yellow-red, or yellow-red-black in heroic), you will want to blow Frenzied Regeneration if you have 4T13 when your Recently Shapeshifted debuff drops off. If Black Ooze is up, stay in bear form to do AE DPS with Thrash and Swipe spam – with max vengeance this does more DPS than going to cat form. Be careful of switching to catform too soon after being taunted off if Purple is up – the DoT will still ticking hard on you for 20 seconds.
This is a single tank fight. If you have a pure Cat spec, switch to that.
Theoretically in Normal mode, this fight can be single tanked. You will need a plate DPS class or even yourself to be second on aggro to absorb one melee hit from the boss while the MT phases out in the last second and taunts immediately after. You will probably need to start the fight in Bear form to receive Thrall’s buff allowing you to soak every other Hour of Twilight with Survival Instinct, before switching to catform.
More likely (and single tanking isn’t possible in Heroic mode) you will need to switch to Bear Form just before Fading Light is cast on the MT (so that you don’t both receive Fading Light), and taunt the boss after the MT receives it. Once you receive the second Fading Light and the MT taunts back the boss, you can return to Catform until just before the next Fading Light is cast. This theoretically allows you to be in catform for 28 seconds out of every 45 second cycle, and requires a LOT of concentration so as not to screw up the timings to switch to bear, soak the Hour of Twilight and to phase out of Hour of Twilight.
It may be preferable to play it safe and remain in bear form for the rest of the fight after you switch to bear for the first Fading Light. You should therefore blow your Berserk at the start of the fight (after receiving Thrall’s buff while in bear form, of course)
This is a very physical fight that, especially in heroic mode, and may require you to switch to Stamina trinkets, if you do not have enough cooldowns to handle most of the Vengeance for the boss. You will have some time to switch to cat for some Cat DPS in between taunts on Phase 2, but don’t count on it making any significant differences. Personally I have no problem tanking this fight with agility trinkets and 2 healers, so the incoming physical damage may have been overstated.
6.8 Spine of Deathwing
It is possible to single-tank this fight, allowing you to stay in cat form. Chances are your raid will be using a seperate Amalgation tank and Blood tank. Ideally, you’ll want to be the Amalgation tank, allowing you to switch to cat form to attack the Burning Tendon once the Amalgation is dead while the MT tanks the leftover Bloods and any extra Amalgations.
Note that the Burning Tendons can be shredded from the front, but there is no need to use Glyph of Bloodletting – the Tendon won’t last long enough to make it useful. Try to get Savage Roar and Stampede up using a spare Blood for the CP and Feral Charge. Use Berserk if it is not on CD – generally this will be on the first and third tendon.
Bearcatting works great on Heroic Spine too. As in Normal mode, you want to be tanking the Amalgations while the other tank tanks the Bloods. You should use be able to use Berserk for the first lift of each Tendon. Also, get the Kiroptyric Sigil it should be usable for every lift and will be better than both the Vial and the Wrath.
The optimal reforge for this fight is Hit > Crit > Mastery > Haste > Expertise
6.9 Madness of Deathwing
Another fight with the Bearcat build shines. It is possible to single-tank this fight if your raid has enough DPS to kill the Corruption before the second Impale and enough external cooldowns to allow the tank to survive tanking two Elementium Terrors, but most raids will probable be two tanking this.
Most of the attackable targets in this encounter can be shredded from the front, except for the Blistering Tentacles. You’ll be spending most of the fight in cat form, so use Glyph of Bloodletting instead of Glyph of Mangle.
In Phase 1, you will only be tanking the Corruption for one Impale per platform. Either the first or the second, but arrange with your MT so that you get the most DPS time on the Corruption – If you take the first Impale, you’ll want the MT to taunt right after while you go back to cat form. If you take the second Impale, you taunt only just before it is cast. This is the recommended cooldown usage for each platform.
Platform 1: Use Dream + Barkskin
Platform 2: Use Survival Instinct + Barkskin
Platform 3: Use Barkskin + Guardian Spirit or Hand of Sacrifice or Pain Suppresion
Platform 4: Use Survival Instinct + Barkskin
In Phase 2, you will take a LOT of magical damage from Tetanus. If you get targetted by shrapnel, do NOT use Dream, simply go into bearform to survive it. You want to save Dream for the Tetanus. Barkskin and Frenzied Regeneration should be ready – use them when your Terror is at 60%, then use Dream when your Terror is almost dead. Your Terror should be the first to die, wait for your stacks to drop then taunt the other Terror off the MT. For the second set of Terrors you will have Barkskin, Survival Instinct and Dream ready. If you have the Mirror trinket, you will want to use it on this encounter.
Berserk can be used 5 times in this fight, each platform last a little under 3 minutes, so if you use it whenever it is on CD, it should be ready just before the Elementium Bolt spawns on the 4th platform.