Part 3 - Min-maxing
In this section we will cover the following …
- Talent changes per key and why
- Soulbind/Conduit changes per key and why
- What would you like to see changed to M+ Feral
- Final words …
Talent changes per key and why
Feral talent changes are pretty restricted, it comes down to Pred vs SbT most of the time, as the rest of our talents are pretty hard-locked.
Personally I (Fore) just run Pred in every key and if I need more ST, I just switch soulbinds as per the next section. Honestly I don’t have much to say here as our spec’ is very cookie cutter, you can swap to FF if you want the extra pride/target damage, but right now BT is out scaling FF reasonably hard.
You can swap to SbT if you want more ST damage at the expense of AoE, though personally I don’t feel the gain outweighs the cost. If you are pushing with a known group, and are pushing the highest of keys, then changing to be more or less ST focused for particular pulls or issues i definitely a consideration, for example going SbT to ensure you can kill Prides without too many CDs being used.
If you’re really looking at what you can fiddle with, you can change to Renewal on high keys to deal with Prides and give yourself another healing CD, but it’s pretty minor optimisation - SR is also surprisingly good for a bit of a change of pace, but it relies on sustained AoE, so don’t run it with burst specs that’re going to wipe out mobs too quickly.
It’s a bit of a sad state really, Blizz removed the old-school talent trees because they were too “cookie cutter”, but we may as well not have talents at this point as there is basically no choice there.
Soulbind/Conduit changes per key and why
What are the choices?
Feral soulbind changes come down to ST vs AoE and the key you’re about to do or group you’re running with. The two “cookie cutter” builds are as follows as well as some reasoning for choosing them.
This is a recap of the Soulbind/Conduit explanation in Part.1, if you want a reminder of that head to … https://www.dreamgrove.gg/feral/2021-01-14-mythic+_guide_part_1/
- Niya as your bind for the mastery buff during convoke
- Poison is borderline worthless in M+ (or any content), giving you around ~50k extra damage over an entire key. You’re purely taking it for the extra conduit
- Conflux to go even harder on Convoke ST burst
- You could also swap in Taste for Blood instead of Carnivorous Instinct for even more ST
- Korayn as your bind for the Crit proc and Damage multiplier
- Carnivorous Instinct for AoE damage
- You could also swap in Conflux if you want AoE soulbind but a ST conduit
Where do you need to think about it?
The obvious place you need to think about conduits and soulbinds is Tyrannical vs Fortified and the uptime possibility of Korayns 25% crit. Tyr requires more ST to deal with bosses, like Hakkar in DoS, Ingra in Mists or basically all of the bosses in SD. If a boss is the biggest crux to you completing your key in time, then you should strongly consider switching to more ST focused builds.
There are some keys where you can abuse Korayns binds even on Tyr weeks, like Mueh’zala in DoS as he stays above 75% hp for the entire first phase or bosses that have add phases where you can re-trigger the crit % buff, such as Echelon in HoA or basically every boss in Plaguefall. The gauntlet in SD has a constant stream of Gargons that you can use to trigger the 25% crit, so, my current thought process key to key is …
De Other Side - Korayn or Niya
I lean Korayn in DoS because the last boss has a huge 75%+ hp uptime, and the key is generally a lot of AoE, especially in Arden. You can proc First Strike reliably on Hakkar due to the add spawns (not when they come back to life though). That said, Niya can also be strong because of the ST burn it provides on Hakkar if you want that boss dead asap, and also totems to convoke them down, so either or works here.
Halls of Atonement - Korayn
- Big AoE key with mobs that spawn other mobs, it’s worth letting your group know when before you start that the “Depraved Collector” you’ll deal with, and let 1 add be spawned before you interrupt it to proc’ Korayn again.
- Make sure to hit the adds on the 2nd and 3rd boss before they hit you to re-trigger it, this is particularly hard with the 3rd boss as it pulses AoE almost immediately, so be ready.
- HoA is also basically 30-50% uptime on Korayn in the mini-boss room before the last boss.
Mists of Tirna Scithe - Korayn or Niya
The reason you can run either here is that although this is mostly a Korayn key, the big crux of a high Tyr key is the first boss, and Niya provides a bigger burst ST with convoke, so if you know you need to 1-phase this boss and don’t think you will without the extras burst, then run Niya. Otherwise Korayn is triggerable on both the 2nd and final boss for large crit uptime with about ~15%+ on both bosses
Plaguefall - Korayn
Every boss has something that can trigger Korayn reliable and regularly, and as a large trash key with lots of mobs at varying health and a few that summon new mobs, it’s a good uptime key.
Sanguine Depths - Korayn (some consideration for Niya)
SD has the highest Korayn uptime of any key due to the gauntlet having a constant stream of Gargons, i’ve seen upwards of 40-60% here which is nuts. The reason you need to give some consideration to Niya however is the same as Mists, in that the 1st boss is the big crux of this key on Tyr weeks where you won’t get any use out of Korayn really, so if you need big burn to overcome this boss, Niya is the way, else go Korayn.
Spires of Ascension - Niya
Spires is simply a very ST key, there’s no real uptime abuses to be had and 3-4 mini bosses to kill depending on your route. Also the 2nd and 3rd boss are big ST burn bosses, particularly the 3rd with it’s weakness phase for more damage and nuts hp pool - Niya works well in Spires.
Theater of Pain - Korayn or Niya
So ToP may seem like a ST key, but it’s got a lot of places to trigger Korayn, every boss except for the caster wing has adds spawn in the boss fight that can be abused. The only real consideration to Niya in ToP is how much of a crux the military wing will be with the mini-bosses and how much of them you will convoke.
- Challengers has Xira you can proc it on when you stun her
- Gorechomp has the small adds periodically
- Xav has the banners (i’m actually not 100% these proc Korayn atm)
- Mordreetha has the adds that you need to interrupt and kill
Necrotic Wake - Korayn (some consideration for Niya)
The bosses that matter all have ways to trigger Korayn either throughout, or at the point that matters…
- Blightbone has the worms that spawn throughout
- Amarth has the skeletons that spawn and need to be burned down, nothing like having 25% crit to help with the burn
- Stitchflesh you can pre-setup all your burn then as soon as he comes down, Rip, Rake and convoke, to get a good chunk of 25% crit uptime during convoke while also have DoT’s rolling
Also a lot of the trash spawns other trash that you can proc First Strike on, so lots of value in this key. Niya has some consideration as always if you need more ST burn for bosses like Blight or Stitch to kill them asap.
Don’t take the above as a gospel list, as it does somewhat vary based on your comp as well - the takeaway from this, is that soulbinds are reasonably easy to switch up key to key, so put some thought into it at the start of each run to make sure you’re targeting your damage in a helpful way for the group.
What would you like to see changed to M+ Feral
Talking from a specifically MDI perspective, the spec needs to have an AoE burst somehow, or just way more rip damage if you want a spec to be good for MDI particularly, it needs short bursty CD for AoE and ST, that or really good consistent damage, even more than what we have right now, it needs to be reaaally good.
I think if Feral ever does get something bursty for AoE, it can be one of the top specs for MDI. I’d also like to see PW baseline and add a new talent instead in that row.
For me, Feral is in a spot where in M+ it is middle of the pack, and as always it’s more a community perception issue that Feral has had for a long time than an actual throughput/utility issue, as well as (and this is a general issue not just Feral) it is overshadowed by other specs’. Realistically if a spec can do even 1% more than you, it’ll see play over your spec’, it’s the way meta and competitive games work, and unfortunately, this has a habit of trickling down to the general playerbase where spec’ really doesn’t matter for 90-95% of content.
When it comes to changes, you need to be careful to not just have knee jerk reactions to the state of the meta at that particular time, like Treants & Innervate I see shouted about a lot right now, but throughout BfA Treants was a meme talent that no tank wanted. I’m all for getting these spells, but I don’t think people should see it as a viability silver bullet. Realistically, it comes down to homogenisation vs niche, does every spec bring the same things in different flavours or does each spec’ have a niche and a spot to fill? Realistically, i’d prefer the “bring the player not the class” mentality so I’m in favour of homogenisation over niche as Blizz have proven they have zero interest in designing fights to favour all specs individual niches.
I’d like to see a Feral modernisation akin to the one that Shadow Priests get every tier or two, things like …
- New and interesting interactions between talents and spells, make BrS leave Rakes on targets hit or merge BrS and Thrash, i’m not a game designer so don’t quote me but there’s so much they could do (this should be done for all specs as well, once they’re finished with the 4th or 5th priest rework, obviously)
- More abilities baseline to allow for less maths rows and more utility rows. MoC vs BT vs FF isn’t interesting, it’s a numbers exercise, whereas Tiger’s Dash vs Wild Charge vs Renewal is
- AoE row to provide more AoE options based on situation, e.g. Burst, Cleave, Funnell and/or Sustained AoE - for example they could’ve made PW baseline, then replaced it in the tree with Apex, providing a Funnel AoE option
- BrS back to a Legion style BrS where pressing it in AoE mattered
- Berserk should interact with Swipe in some way, for example while in Berserk they could lift the 2cp limit on Swipe to allow it to feel better in AoE, the current Berserk AoE rotation isn’t intuitive and can confuse a lot of new players
- SbT back to an execute
- For a bit of fun, I’d love if Feral had Shroud as it’s Druid-specific utility, aka not give it to the other Druid specs - Ashamane’s Shroud (ty Trem & Kitch) and it behaved the exact same way as Rogues Shroud
- AoE stun (Ashamane’s leg sweep)
- Fix Feral Frenzy’s weapon damage and base mastery scaling ….. (come on)
As a complete side, I’d have preferred they left incarn as it was, and made Berserk work like BotE or Jungle Fury somehow, as a much more interesting button to press - there’s something about large crit windows that I love as Feral.
Also, target caps are dumb and should be removed across the board, worst decision since the GCD fiasco. At most they should still hit all mobs but have the damage spread across all in range, such a bizarre change.
Are there any reasons in M+ to play defensively? Eg. Resto Affinity or a damage absorption trinket.
Maystine: Unless you are pushing the highest keys and can’t survive a mechanic you don’t need to.
Fore: I loved running N’Zoth trinket in 8.3 high keys, as the 1min defensive it provided was nuts at a 2-3% DPS loss, so it’s worth thinking about at a high enough level to justify something like Scale or the Cheat-Death trinket, which are both a ~2% DPS loss, but I wouldn’t consider it until then - and i’m talking where things start to hard 1-shot, which is a point we haven’t really reached yet
How do I work out what I am doing wrong?
Maystine: Record your gameplay and try to see your mistakes (CD management,…) and for raiding you have a lot of logs to analyse and to compare yourself.
Fore: Recording your gameplay is the big one, the amount of times I get sent video’s and see that berserk sits off CD for 4-5 mins at a time is scary
In a world where all the covenants we’re equally balanced, what would be the “best” for m+ and by what merits? Is Convoke just that strong? Would the Empowered Bond DPS do enough frequent burst? Does the burst from venthyr or the sustain from necrolords have their place?
Fore: It would still be Night Fae i’m afraid, as they’re all designed right now …
- The Night Fae ability is very well suited for M+ and provides a large ST burst on a 2min CD. It’s also dynamic/versatile in that you can use it as a Resto-voke for big group offheal or Boomie-voke for big AoE.
- Necro is too volatile for M+, and too ST focused, if it had some sort of burst AoE component it’d be really strong
- Venth is simply too long a CD to be best for M+, 3min CDs mean you have to hard pull around them, 2mins is the sweet spot
- Kyr hurts my soul as an ability, if it was balanced equally to Night Fae in terms of DPS, then strong 2nd contender and versatile if you want to play around switching who it’s on
What trinkets for mythic+ and when to run them?
Fore: Quantum is flat out broken in M+ as you can basically guarantee it’ll proc’ stats every use, this is hard-locked and just use it with Berserk every time. Personally I take a passive trinket as my 2nd, so Phial or (when I get it) the 233 vers trinket will likely be strong as well, roughly speaking you can go by this…
Fore: I don’t really use many macro’s specifically for M+, but obviously Weak Auras are huge, I’d recommend …
Nice interrupt macro that if you’re out of cat form you can spam to interrupt, and if you’re incat form it’ll just interrupt.
#showtooltip Skull Bash
/use [noform:1/2]Cat Form
/use Skull Bash
This is my lazy stun macro lol, that will prio’ using Bash, then fall back to Maim on the same key, not really sure if this is optimal …
/castsequence [talent:4/1]reset=50 Mighty Bash, Maim, Maim, Maim
This macro covers all affinity spells in all specs, nice to have
/use [spec:1,talent:3/1][spec:3/4,talent:3/2]Maim;[spec:1/2,talent:3/2][spec:4,talent:3/3]Incapacitating Roar;[spec:1/2/3,talent:3/3]Ursol’s Vortex;[spec:2/3/4,talent:3/1]Typhoon
- ZenTracker (ZT) - Interrupt and Cooldown Tracker (the brain) https://wago.io/r14U746B7
- ZT Front-End Party Icons (the UI part) https://wago.io/M3N3WBg0D
- Someone in the group to have an auto-marker https://wago.io/1ctv3b91K/13
- Prideful incoming tracker https://wago.io/PridefulAffixTracker/4
- A generic dungeon ability warning WA, like this one - https://wago.io/SL-Dungeons
- A “Time to kill” WA can be useful to help with cooldown timings - https://wago.io/hYW3MVbnf/1>
- The one I use doesn’t seem to be on Wago anymore, but a good group interrupt tracker
Also, you should set Plater up well so that you can see the casts and the target, so you know if someone is about to get every cast to the face and you need to act quick, or things like if a poly is about to go through on a Druid so you can ignore it and let it go through.
There’s also some affix specific stuff out there that shows things like the CD on quaking to help know when to be ready for it so it doesn’t interrupt convoke.
How do you best optimize Convoke and Zerk CDs in M+ when routing through trash? Using HoA as an example, I’ve been trying to use both off CD, convoke for groups and Zerk for priority targets like shard but it doesn’t feel quite right.
Fore: I went through this in more detail in part.2 in the Cooldowns section, but the summary is…
- use as close to on cooldown as possible
- talk to your team to know when important points are coming up that might needs CDs held for
Why would I play feral when I could play any other good spec
Fore: Honestly, at the end of the day, play what you want to play - Feral (and all specs) will be as good as you can play it, your skill with the spec' will be a deciding factor much much before the spec itself is.
Are there certain dungeons where you should bring SbT or is that just comp dependent? Like if you’re running with a Fire Mage
Maystine: From my experience, when running with a fire mage and windwalker monk, SbT was better for overall speed of the dungeon. They were just melting trash and I was doing way more ST than them without losing too much aoe.
Fore: From my point of view, if you’re doing keys with other DPS where every single pack is dying too quick for you to reliably get DoTs out and do DPS, you’re not doing keys high enough for your groups level. That said, if you save 5% time in killing a boss with ST talents and don’t lose any time on DPS in AoE, then that is obviously a gain overall, I just don’t think that is the reality - I’ just switch between Niya and Korayn depending on if I want more ST vs AoE.
Get rid of spiteful
Maystine: B-but… my predator reset? :(
Anti melee dungeons?
Fore: I wouldn’t say there’s any particularly anti-melee dungeons, but there are definitely anti-melee pulls or mobs, for example …
- HoA the Darkblades (my least favourite mob in M+ btw) do a frontal that can 1-shot on high Fort, because tanks love to kite atm you need to be really careful of this one
- DoS the Deathwalkers do the annoying spinning ability that can 1-shot on high enough keys, as well as the Headless Clients that spin and get launched in the direction that they’re hit
- SD the Regal Mistdancers have a frontal that can be awkward to avoid with the traps and small corridors at the start of the key
- NW the Stitched Vanguards have a very hard hitting melee attack (Bone Claw) that will hit the closest target, so if your tank is kiting, be aware of where it’s stood
If you have a rip on the boss which is weaker than a rip you could apply now but the rip still has 10+ sec time, do you still apply the stronger rip or do you just bite and let the weaker rip last in the boss and only refresh rip in pandemic? And if you refresh the rip before pandemic, how much stronger should the rip be? Thanks in advance
Fore: I asked the man himself, sooo…
BuffMe: Rake: Clip below ~60% in general. For BT proc generation (if you use rake to specifically proc BT) 2 additional options…
- Clip instantly if better multiplier or refresh in pandemic if worse multiplier.
- Pragmatic option: Clip if multiplier is better or wait for pandemic if it’s worse.
Rip is the opposite: Never clip. If you have no SbT you wanna only refresh in pandemic, bite is way too powerful. With SbT you ideally never want to be in the position where you have a non optimal rip on the target, timing TF cooldowns with Rip refreshes is very important. In the case of having a non TF Rip up for whatever reason: don’t clip and deal with being bad.
When all soulbinds are fully unlocked do you feel one will be more useful in high keys? Is Niya’s poison more alluring in M+ because of the constant need for a melee interrupt? Will Koran be a good option if you can use first strike efficiently? Will the minor dps loss of Dreamweaver still be offset by Podtender’s cheat death like ability?
Fore: Oh wow did this really take that long to write that we’ve had soulbinds fully unlocked for like, 2-3 weeks now, my bad …
Do you also agree that everyone who uses square combo points should have their account blocked?
Is the sudden ambush conduit worth taking
Fore: Unfortunately not, possible as a Necro but as a Night Fae the TF or Conflux conduit are just better
How do I get in the group to begin with when pugging as a feral druid?
Maystine: Best option when playing a non-meta class, make your own group!
Fore: I know it sucks, and pugging can be soul destroying, but honestly this isn’t a Feral specific problem. The io meta is in full force and the only way to get invited to groups as most specs, is to have a high io. So my advice is to work up the ladder and grind it out, get that io, and it’ll be easier.
How much energy should you pool to set up BT?
Fore: I asked BuffMe again …
BuffMe: 65 approximately - It’s 35+35+40 - 3x15
Do you believe the spec will get buffs/nerfs? If so, to which abilities and why? I.e: Night Fae/SbT nerf, Necrolord/LI/SR buffs?
Fore: I’m actually terrified in between tiers of convoke nerfs, as I do believe that Feral would be worse off if any of the other covs were better than Night Fae, they just don’t really “fit” with the M+ meta as well as convoke does. For example if Convoke went down to 12 spells it’s be a different game.
In terms of the other stuff, i’d love to see AS get a real AoE change, maybe make it an aura from the target or something, a slightly longer CD but burstier playstyle would also be much better for M+, outside of that I guess we might see number tunings, but I can’t see any 8.1 reworks on the cards until the next expansion, but i’d be happy to be proven wrong.
FF vs BT with Circle?
Fore: Aaaaah… I really wish FF was better than BT, but it’s just not unfortunately, maybe when the bug is fixed and it correctly scales with weapon damage and base mastery, but for now honestly, it should be BT every key
Should I learn to play Guardian instead of Feral for m+ to get into groups easier?
Maystine: But then you won’t be playing feral, if you want to do m+ as feral and are struggling to get into group, you can always make your own.
Hello! I wanna say ty for all the information and also wanna ask about Niya, should I run Burrs or just 2 potency conduits in general?
Fore: Double potency is just better than Burrs in M+, so I’d go with that - check out part.1 for the Soulbind run through.
Best cat form?
Maystine: We all know the purple one from mage tower is the best
Fore: Haha easy, i’ve got a tier list floating around somewhere…
Final words …
This has taken more time than either of us expected when we decided to do this, so I really hope at least a few people learned some stuff or it opened up some ideas or plays you might not have thought of.
M+ is always evolving, so good chance this will all be redundant in a tier or so’s time lol, always happy to chat about M+ strats, builds, ideas, meme pulls and to help Hippo relive his MDI dreams one day.
Any questions or comments, hit me up on Discord in the normal place.
I hope this guide will help you to learn some stuff for your m+ journey, because it requires a lot of knowledge if you want to push really high keys and not only from your class, but also each mob.
You can ask me anything on discord, I will always try to answer the best I can. And soon after the last MDI cup I will finally be able to stream some feral content!
Deep Dive Part.4
We’ll likely be back once the new M+ dungeons are released or anything substantial changes in the M+ world, until then, any q’s or thoughts hit us up in #Feral