The Hybrid Feral Guide

March 27, 2011

UPDATE 2012-01-10 – This guide is now considered OBSOLETE for 4.3 – Please visit the 4.3 Bearcat Guide instead

I had this article in draft for a few weeks, but Reesi’s latest post convinced me that I should finish it.

With the large change to the talent trees in Cataclysm, and the tree design focused around having less “compulsory talents” and more talent point remaining to take “optional utility talents”, it has actually made it viable for Feral Druids to have a talent build that covers almost all the necessary talents for both the Bear and the Cat role. This is because the “optional utility talents” are often the talents required to perform the other role.

The current “cookie cutter” cat build is here.
The current “cookie cutter” bear build is here.

Taking all the talents that are in both builds will require an additional 12 talent points over what is available to us, so we will need to look at candidate talents that can be dropped, and what talents are compulsory.

TLDR Version

This is the combination of Glyphs and Talents that I would recommend for a Hybrid Feral build. You will actually need to choose 2 out of these 4 talents for your build:

  1. Feral Aggression
  2. Infected Wounds
  3. Blood in the Water
  4. Brutal Impact.

The build I have linked chooses the last two, but depending on the needs of the raid you may need to swap in one or both of the first two.

The glyphs chosen are the typical combination used if you are doing both tanking and DPSing within the same fight. For pure Cat DPSing, or even for encounters where you switch roles, you may consider replacing Glyph of Maul with Glyph of Berserk. For pure tanking, you may consider switching in for the bear prime glyphs, but it would probably not make much of a difference.

Feral Tier 1

Feral Swiftness – Compulsory for Bears, optional but highly useful for cats. This makes this talent overall compulsory.

Furor - The only thing necessary about this talent is that you have to take at least 1 point in it to reach Tier 2. It is however, highly useful for both roles, especially if you are switching within the two roles during the encounter. This talent is taken mainly because we’re eliminating Predatory Strikes.

Predatory Strikes – Useless for bears, it’s also decent DPS boost for cats, however it is useless without the Stampede talent. This talent should therefore be dropped.

Feral Tier 2

Infected Wounds – Cats generally don’t take this talent, and for Bears it is seen as a necessary raid debuff. However several other classes provide this debuff too, and most of them get it baseline and do not have to spec for it. This makes this talent a candidate to be dropped depending on the needs of the raid.

Fury Swipes – Compulsory for Cats, it’s optional but very nice for Bears with the free threat and DPS coming from it making up approximately 10% of Bear DPS.

Primal Fury – Compulsory for Cats, it’s optional for bears since Rage generally isn’t an issue during raids, but it does help.

Feral Aggression – For Cats, this is a marginal DPS gain. For both, it increases quality of life. However, other people can provide the debuff, so depending on your raid makeup (are there warriors? or another feral druid?) you may not be required to put up this debuff. This talent is therefore a candidate to be dropped.

Feral TierĀ  3

King of the Jungle – Compulsory for Cats because of the large DPS boost. Bears generally don’t take this although there is some small benefit.

Feral Charge – You could probably do without this talent, but it represents such a huge qualify of life boost for 1 talent point for both Cats and Bears that it just feels compulsory.

Stampede – It’s a decent DPS increase for Cats with Predatory Strikes, but the DPS boost is not very significant. The threat boost for bears isn’t very significant. This talent should therefore be dropped.

Thick Hide – Compulsory for Bears. It’s a nice survivability boost for Cats to make up for the loss of Nurturing Instinct.

Feral Tier 4

Leader of the Pack – Compulsory for both. Sure, someone else in the raid could provide it, but this is one talent point.

Brutal Impact – Almost compulsory. Encounters are designed around having tanks being able to interrupt every 10 seconds. You may be able to get away with not having this talent if you raid 25 man and have sufficient melee DPS (and/or shamans). For 10 man it is pretty much compulsory.

Nurturing Instinct – Useless for bears, very useful for cats. Unfortunately we’ll have to drop this to have sufficient talent points, but this is made up by having Thick Hide and Perseverance.

Feral Tier 5

Primal Madness – Terrible DPS talents. Cats take this talent because it’s gives some miniscule DPS boost, but will be glad to have a reason to drop this talent, and having a Hybrid Feral build is the perfect reason.

Survival Instinct – Compulsory for Bears. Encounters are designed around the tank having this talent.

Endless Carnage – Compulsory for Cats, and a significant qualify of life boost for bears.

Natural Reaction – Compulsory for Bears.

Feral Tier 6

Blood in the Water – Almost compulsory for cats. It is a significant DPS boost, but smaller than all the mentioned ‘compulsory’ Cat talents. We try to keep this talent as much as possible, but may have to drop it if we are required by our raid to have other optional talents.

Rend and Tear – Compulsory for Cats. Decent threat and DPS boost for Bears too.

Pulverize – Compulsory for Bears. The boost to Critical Strikes is large enough that it plays a big part in increasing our Savage Defense uptime.

Feral Tier 7

Berserk – Compulsory for Both.

Restoration Tier 1

Natural Shapeshifter – Useless talent, but is a pre-requisite for Master Shapeshifter.

Heart of the Wild – Compulsory for Both.

Restoration Tier 2

Perseverance – Arguably compulsory for Bears, as it is one of our very few advantages we have over the other tank. Sure, we should theoretically be able to survive without this since other tanks don’t have it, but any talent that reduces incoming damage so significantly should be considered Compulsory.

Master Shapeshifter – Compulsory for Cats. Very nice for Bears too.

Prime Glyphs

Glyph of Rip – This is our biggest DPS increasing glyph, giving us ~3.5% DPS increase. Pretty much compulsory.

Glyph of Shred – This is out second biggest DPS increasing glyph, and ensures that we are able to keep Rip and Savage Roar up 100% of the time. Accounts for a ~2.2% DPS increase.

Glyph of Berserk – This glyph is joint 3rd best for cats, giving around ~1.0% DPS increase. Unlike Tiger’s Fury though, this one benefits Bears. I prefer this glyph over Tiger’s Fury because of it’s flexibility – I can use Berserk when it matters, e.g. during special burn phases.

Glyph of Tiger’s Fury – Joint 3rd best for cats, giving around ~1.0% DPS increase.

Glyph of Mangle – Well, it does benefit cats a little, ~0.2-0.3% depending on whether you are keeping up the 4xT11 bonus. This is huge for bears though since a large percentage of bear threat and DPS comes from Mangle (depending on the fight, anywhere from 20% to 35%). I choose this glyph over Glyph of Berserk because for pure bear tanking, you’d definitely want Glyph of Mangle. If Dust of Disappearances are cheaply available to you, then you should find yourself switching between this and Glyph and Berserk a lot.

Glyph of Lacerate – Increasing critical strike chance for less than half our GCD attacks by 10%, well it does increase our survivability somewhat, but it’s really not very noticeable. For a progression fight that you are tanking full-time, you may want to consider spending a Dust of Disappearance to glyph this.

Major Glyphs

Glyph of Frenzied Regeneration – Pretty much compulsory for tanking.

Glyph of Maul – It’s definitely a very good glyph for the cases where you need to tank more than one target at a time. Such situations are rarer in raids, but you’d want to have this when it occurs.

Glyph of Faerie Fire – A very useful quality of life glyph especially for pulling. You’ll be deciding between this and Glyph of Rebirth for the 3rd slot.

Glyph of Rebirth – Also a very useful glyph to ensure whoever you battle rez stays alive. You will choose this or Glyph of Faerie Fire.

Glyph of Feral Charge – A stable for pure cat builds, but since we won’t be having Stampede and Predatory Strikes, we don’t need this.


  • ssunflash says:

    I’ll combined my comment about Reesi’s utility=dps post and Tangedyn’s hybrid post. I recently got a hybrid build and tanked 45% of our 10man atremedes encounter (thank you fixation bug). But nobody commented or thought it was at all interesting. I did 1k less dps than our next dps and tanked almost half the fight. While I subscribe to the theory “anything you can do to help the raid, do it, even if it’s not your specific job,” i just wish we had 1 or 2 more buttons to push to help out the group. Other than brez (which is incredibly important and I do cast while tanking normal raids), i feel limited in how I can assist others. I just wish it were more noticeable than “hey look, i do damage.” maybe I’m asking for too much. Maybe i have a THANKMEDAMNIT-complex. Maybe both. Regardless, in my limited opinion, i wish I could do something more noticeable that impacted the raid. Then again, Reesi helping her raid in H-Cho’gall is pretty cool

  • Helistar says:

    Lots of comments on “hybrids” lately :)
    I’ve started with an hybrid build in Cataclysm, just like I had one in early Naxxramas (but I was switching more gear) and I’m keeping it. I’ve tried a full DPS build, but I find that:
    - the DPS difference is not as big, and I lose the possibility to tank. I find that in HM tanking in full DPS stuff is not long-term viable, but cycling cooldowns can keep you alive enough for an emergency plan to be put into place. The DPS loss is “big” in Mew, but mostly insignificant in reality.
    - you gain some utility, not that ferals have much right now. Apart from B-Rez and the occasional Tranq, Innerv is now irrelevant. As much as the talented Tranq seems to be touted as a winderful thing, I don’t find that talenting it makes much of a difference.
    - I lose the possibility of a completely different spec, which I may be unable to use in a raid due to lack of gear, but adds to the “fun” factor (even if I admit I’m on LotRO when I’m not raiding).
    - I find Feral Charge/Ravage seriously aggravating, with an inconsistent behaviour across bosses (some I can FC/R from melee range, some I can’t, go figure, FC from melee range still moves me screwing up my positioning compared to other people, I mean… it’s just bad design).

    On your spec, I’m not sure I’d want to drop Infected Wounds, but this is probably dependent on our raid composition at times. Vengeance is nice, but I assume that if other tanks can live without it, I should be able to as well. I’ve kept Feral Aggression, it makes life easier if you need to apply it as a DPS, but dropping it for Vengeance would probably be a good idea.

    BTW Primal Madness tests as a 500DPS loss for me under Mew/Formulation (around 2%). I can’t even remotely understand how this would be possible without having 0 lag and some uber-reflexes for your /cancelaura macro. I’ve done some testing and I seem to be gaining 6 energy per application on average (at the same time I have no idea if my energy calculations are right, since the values aren’t in the combat log….).

  • Goodmongo says:

    Let’s see here. In Reesi’s post he was making the argument that ferals utility is more DPS. But in hybrid our feral cat dps would actually be lower. So therefore, the only logical conclusion is hybrid is just for bears and not for cats. After all for bears it is expected to possibly dps many fights after your tank target dies or during swaps. But as cat you don’t ever plan on tanking unless there is an emergency. So this whole line of thinking should be limited to hybrid bears doing dps and not for cats to tank in the rare situations where a tank dies.

    • ssunflash says:

      Goodmongo, it’s possible that they expect Cats to have other pieces of utility (brez, tranq, random spot healing) that they can do. I, for one, do tend to prepare for emergencies, hence my switch from a full feral dps OS to a hybrid one.

      Also, I don’t have any solid information about this, but would a hybrid be a good candidate for being a 3rd tank in Heroic Chimaeron?

  • Rinaya says:

    As our 10 man Raid started trying Cho’gall I switched to a hybrid spec, very similar to what you have posted above. I dropped Blood in the Water for Infected Wounds, as most of the time I have to apply it myself.

    I succesfully tanked all normal content bosses and my damage on Chimaeron, Atramedes, Cho’gall, Magmaw and Halfus went up a lot, without losing survivability. It’s usually no problem to apply Faerie Fire 3 times and I rarely miss having Stampede (in fact never, as a bear)

    I miss not having the Rebirth Glyph at times (especially on Nef, phase 2), but as we have a moonkin on our raid, he does most of the rezzes.

    I think, especially for a 10 man raid, hybrid spec is the way to go at the moment.

    • Tangedyn says:

      Yes it definitely makes significantly more difference in 10man than in 25man (therefore my epeen is larger than Reesi’s!)

      When we initially started on Cho’gall I tanked first (therefore had no cat time) and struggled quite a bit. When we switched so that I tanked second, we easily got him to P2 before the 4th add and that made a huge difference and led to our kill.

    • Reesi says:

      Your DPSpeen is larger. ;)

  • Goodmongo says:

    My point was I can see the argument for hybrid if you are scheduled to do some tanking. But if you are only expected to dps then why would you want to lower your dps by going hybrid? On the other related post there have been 2 or 3 comments how the extra dps of the bear going hybrid helped kill a boss. Well logic states that if the extra dps helped the kill then lower dps for a cat hybrid would risk that kill.

    Bear hybrid – arguments to support it. Cat hybrid – not logical based on the same arguments supporting bear hybrid.

    • Groendell says:

      Goodmongo I see what you are saying and it does make sense, especially from a min/max perspective.

      However, I am wondering how much of a drop in dps you’d see by using the hybrid spec vs pure cat, especially now that shred has been buffed. Or is the drop in dps more due to the gear you are wearing (if crit or haste were reforged to do dodge etc. to (off)tank.)

      These posts offer feral druids some food for thought and more utility either way. Nothing is more frustrating than going to cat in the pure bear spec and waiting for your energy to pool for the next shred….

      Way to go Tangedyn and Reesi! Good posts!

  • Kal says:

    Really, really nice work on this, Tangedyn. I had thought about doing this for a while but this is way better than what I was working on. Thanks for this writeup.

  • Goodmongo says:

    Kalon over at ThinkTank ( has a two part post on hybrid that includes gear, gemming, enchants etc. He also lists the pros cons and when it would be good or bad to do it. I thought it was a really nicely balanced post on the whole hybrid subject.

    • Tangedyn says:

      Ya, good post there. I didn’t go too much into gear, gem and enchants since I keep (almost) two sets of gear anyway for bear and cat. For fights where I switch between the two, I would use the bear gear.

      As long as you do the right thing and enchant/gem mainly for agility instead of stamina, you should do fine with bear gear in cat form.

  • Wildpaw says:

    Thanks; this is the hybrid build I plan on running for my OS as we push into hardmodes more. Reesi’s accounts of her cat dps making all the difference on a few attempts absolutely has me sold. And for once, the other tanks in my guild agree…

  • Chamaco says:

    I have this talent tree that works quite well, but i’m not convinced. any suggestions?

    • Tangedyn says:

      As the article said, you can’t really tank progression content without Natural Reaction and Perseverance. Also, Predatory Strike is pretty much useless without Stampede.

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