Disclaimer: There have not been any significant changes regarding balance, what was good in 9.0 will remain good in 9.1.
It is important to state that every covenant works well, and can pick one you prefer without hindering yourself.
If you are raiding: It is very likely that NF will stay on top as burst damage is always valuable in raids, so if you were NF and wondering if you had to swap do not worry about it. As always the other covenants also work but will perform slightly worse.
If you are running M+: With Tormented. Venthyr is likely to be strong in M+, not only do you get access to the best dungeon bonuses, but you also get a kit that synergizes very well with the way we believe the affix will be played. (I.e. sneak to get all the powers, do massive pulls with them). With that said, NF will still be very good, with it’s very solid soulbinds and burst damage. Kyrian has also gained a very strong soulbind with Mikanikos in 9.1 and is a solid contender. Necrolord will likely perform slightly worse than the others, but is still an option if you need the dungeon bonuses.
Every covenant is within 5 to 7% of each other depending on the situation (ST/cleave/AOE) (Please refer to the sims for more information)
Night Fae is likely the ideal choice if you are going to Offspec as it is the best for resto and very good for feral, it also offers another burst damage/survivability cooldown, that said in bear form, Convoke can feel random at times and you cannot control if you get more damage/survivability. You can also use it in other forms for more damage or another healing cooldown
Necrolord offers some of the best priority damage out of the covenants we have access to, some self-healing capabilities if you cast Adaptive Swarm on yourself. But will drop off as the target count increases. That is in part mitigated with the soulbind they have access to.
Kyrian gives you an ability that can give you either strong defensive capabilities/utility or some offensive potential,and, unlike Night Fae you can control which one you get. It can have a few downside (relying on other people, the dps tether acting as a 15% Ignore Pain and thus can end up wasting a bit of the damage). But unlike necrolord its dps is constant and does not drop off either in ST or AOE. Furthermore Pelagos is still a strong soulbind. Important to note that if you can avoid it you should never use the solo bond of the ability as it is inferior to any other benefits.
Venthyr gives you Ravenous Frenzy, which if paired with Incarn, it is one of the strongest 3 minute burst in the game, and has virtually no downside (you have the GCD + 2sec before getting stunned while being idle and bears are GCD locked). Venthyr also has access to strong soulbinds for ST, where it will likely struggle more with other covenants.
TLDR; Pick the one you prefer it is rather very close and is unlikely to make or break what you are doing
First off, your base spell Kindred Spirits (2,5s cast time, only usable in caster form)
You first have to use that spell to either bond yourself with an ally or, if there is no ally around, with yourself. You can change your bonded partner any time. Depending on the target you did bond yourself to, you gain different active spells, each with a 1 min CD:
On yourself: Lone Protection - 10% less damage taken for 10s.
On another player: First off, 40% of the damage your partner takes for the next 10s is redirected to you (this effect stops after 10s or if you fall below 20% health, Kindred Protection
What do you gain in exchange?
Bonded to a tank: You gain also Kindred Protection, so 40% of the damage you will take will be transferred to your co-tank - except the damage that got transferred from him at the same time. Mind that this only shifts damage and should only be used if one of you is dying to a certain mechanic otherwise.
Bonded to a healer: Kindred Focus, for the next 10s you receive 30% of the healing dealt by your bonded parter.
Bonded to a DPS: For the next 10s you collect 20% of the damage they deal in a pool Kindred Empowerment. You use this pool to strengthen your damage, your healing and your absorb by 15% for up to 20s after activating this ability (until you used up the pool). The “absorb” part means that hits against you during that time get reduced by 15% (similar to how “ Ignore Pain” from warriors works).
Generally speaking, Versatility/ Mastery is a good defensive setup but rarely does one need to go full defensive so alternatively going Vers/Haste is a good middle ground.
Offensively secondary stats can change from player to player so the best bet is to refer to personal sims through Raidbots.
For more information please visit the Wowhead and Icyveins guides, both written by Pumps.
Unbridled Swarm: Trash and will never be used, as it’s basically random on whether it’s a dps gain or just net neutral.
Kindred Affinity: Gives 5% of a stat depending on what covenant your bonded partner is and 5% stats when you activate the bond again. It is okay at best, but rather unlikely to outperform our current legendaries.
Sinful Hysteria: Very solid damage-wise, but suffers from the same problem as Luffa in keys, i.e. UFR exists.
Celestial Spirits: Somehow makes Bearvoke even more unreliable. But is carried by getting you 16 stacks of Grove invigoration from Niya every minute, so might be taken for damage just for that. But again, it is not UFR so you are not likely to use it in keys.
In 9.0 legendary slot preference was based on stat allocation. However, in 9.1 with Domination Socket Slots, we suggest changing the following to new slots:
Natural Order's Will: Remake on Bracers
Draught of Deep Focus: Remake on Neck
Luffa-Infused Embrace: Remake on Cloak
Circle of Life and Death: Remake on Ring
Legacy of the Sleeper: Remake/Keep on Belt
Ursoc's Fury Remembered does not originally take up a Shard of Domination slot. However, we do suggest remaking on Cloak when you get the opportunity for M Kel’thuzad Legs.
Ignoring what your alternative items are for each slot, here is a rule of thumb for legendary crafting slot selection: Chest >= Legs >= Head > Ring = Amulet > Shoulders >= Boots >= Belt = Gloves > Wrist > Cloak This is generally going to be the most bang for your buck out of the extra ilvl, with some variance on the relative value of jewelry depending on what you are optimizing for.
The new rule of thumb is
Legs > Ring = Amulet > Belt > Wrist > Cloak
Chest >= Head > Shoulders > Boots > Gloves
We have a multitude of strong legendary choices, each strong in its own place:
The Natural Order's Will (NOW) - Will see use in cutting edge keys and in early raid progression when undergeared. Paired with Survival of the Fittest and Tough as Bark at Rank 7, this allows for 36% uptime on 30% DR (Drops from Huntsman Altimor, Castle Nathria)
Lycara’s Fleeting Glimpse (Lycara’s) - Decent Barkskin uptimes, but currently falls victim to the proc happening within the first 45sec of combat and not after 45 sec of combat which makes it a bit unreliable in a dungeon environment though it has some potential play for shifting into Owl Form and Starfall’ing. (Drops from Mordretha, Theater of Pain)
Draught of Deep Focus (DoDF) - In pure ST, this will be the best leggo offensively for Kyrian and Venthyr. It’ll be Best ST option for all convenants if you catweave. If you Moonfire, rake, rip, or rejuve more than one target this becomes useless and the effect does not see use. (Drops from The Great Vault)
Ursoc’s Fury Remembered (UFR) - Consistent absorb, more Thrash damage, falls off the higher you push in keys. Most players will not reach the threshhold where it’ll be weaker than NOW. (Drops from Torghast, Coldheart Interstitia, Layer 3+)
Legacy of the Sleeper (LotS) - The go to for PVP, that includes arenas and R/BGs, because of it’s strong CC immunity.
For m+, most people are aiming for UFR first. It will be awhile before you will need NOW and currently we still have not reached that point.
For Raid, most are aiming for Draught for single target damage or Luffa for AoE damage. NOW is generally seen as overkill for raid.
This does not mean you have to create something else while waiting for those two. Waiting to craft is perfectly fine.
For a more thorough explanation and a recommendation on which piece you should build your legendary, check the wowhead-section about legendaries.
The short answer: Press thrash and swipe more
The long answer: Above 3 targets anything outside of Thrash/ Swipe is a loss of aoe threat, ie your priority 99% of the time is to spam Thrash/ Swipe on your opener. So for your opener, you want to use Thrash then 3 Swipes then Thrash again, rince and repeat, once you have built up threat, you can spread Moonfire to the mobs instead of Swipe for more damage and IF you have an issue on one mob don’t hesitate to use Moonfire/ mangle on it to get some quick threat. Another good tip is to wait that all the trash is in range of Thrash before pressing it, as it’s our best aoe ability and the only uncapped tool we have so you do not want to waste a use early.
Important to note: - opening with Taunt on single target is highly advised, and Incarn/ Zerk will reduce Taunt CD to the GCD. -the cap on Swipe is proximity based, so if you have more than five mobs around you can wiggle around to hit different targets with each Swipe.
Simply put catweaving and owlweaving is when you switch forms, when out of harms way, to push out a little bit of extra damage when survivability is no longer an issue.
Catweaving: Switch to cat form when Thrash/ Mangle is on CD and you have no rage to spend, apply Rake, deplete all your energy with Shred, and if at 4 or 5 combo points apply rip, switch back to bear, rinse and repeat. This rotation is mostly concerning single target.
Owlweaving: Cast Heart of the Wild, cast Moonfire/ Sunfire on target cast two Wrath cast Starsurge, proceed to follow Eclipse rotation for the duration of Heart of the Wild, when out of it, if you have mangle/ Thrash in CD, if you have no rage to spend, and if you’re going to use Swipe, switch to boomy and cast Sunfire on the target, switch back to bear. When in aoe, if you are outside of melee range you can switch into boomy to put Sunfire on mobs, it is quite solid damage.
PSA: YOU DO NOT blow a CD to switch form to do damage, that is a meme thing to do in non relevant content, do not do it when progging in raids or pushing in m+.
FIRST: Understand that simming is only for dps, any website or person telling you they can sim survivability is either lying or being massively reductive, or both.
Quick sim will just run a sim of your character with your current gear.
Top gear checks all the gear you have equipped (and if you have the weekly chest open it will take those into account as well) allows you to pick and choose every option you wanna check out (gear/talent/conduit/soulbind) run all the sims and tell you which one is the best for you.
Droptimizer runs the loot from dungeons/raid/pvp and tells you where your biggest upgrade will come out.
Once you’ve chosen the one you’re interested in, select the fight style you are interested in under simulation options;
Patchwerk is basically just you hitting a dummy (or several) for a certain amount of time, it’s good to see how much damage you can expect uninterrupted on a boss.
Hectic add cleave is more niche and is one dummy with several wave of small adds spawning to try and simulate bosses with adds that comes by wave, rarely used.
Dungeonslice tries to simulate a dungeon, it is not perfect, but if you wanna get the best bang for your buck in an m+ environment, it is fine for a premade profile.
Once you picked that, click run the simulation, wait and after a while you will have your dps and the best gear you have available currently shown to you, by the power of my APL and computers.
As with all generalized charts, these are for informational purposes only and DO NOT accurately reflect your own character. You should ALWAYS use Raidbots to sim your own character instead of relying solely on general charts like these.
Currently the APL is going to cast Convoke in the affinity form you have selected ( boomkin affinity Convoke in boomkin); If you wish to sim with bear Convoke please select the restoration affinity talent
To sim Catweaving, one needs to add druid.catweave_bear=1 into the Custom APL section.
If you have crafted The Natural Order's Will (NOW), you have probably wondered if it is worth using SotF over EW all the time. The first thing you need to understand is that the choice is not legendary dependent, while it is true that The Natural Order's Will (NOW) renders SotF more attractive, some situations warrant the use of SotF while not using it, or the use of EW while using NOW.
What does this mean?
- Essentially, you need to look at your damage breakdown, if you are in an encounter where you take a lot of melee damage (think Hungering destroyer or Mist of Tirna Scythe dungeon) EW will be significantly more attractive than SotF since it will allow you to mitigate the majority of your damage taken (ie melees) while still having access to bark on top.
- On the other extreme, if you are taking more magic damage (such as on inerva in the raid), or physical damage not mitigated by EW (think mutilate from the abomination in Necrotic Wake) SotF will be more attractive. In short, look at your damage breakdown, if melee is the bigger damage intake, Earthwarden is better, if it is not it is possible that SotF is better. AND THOSE THINGS MUST BE TAKEN INTO CONSIDERATION REGARDLESS OF YOU USING NOW
As for the conduit TaB, it is our opinion that people tend to overestimate it, you absolutely do not need to use it if you use NOW, it’s a 9 to 6 sec reduction if used with SotF, which translate to maybe one more use in an entire fight in the raid, and in m+ you have period where bark will cool off, due to less damage intake/moving about. So for this, if TaB allows you more bark usage/mitigating something that would not be possible otherwise, consider it, otherwise it is not a must always use adapt your conduits to your situation.