So, you've done all the prep work, and you think you're ready to raid. You've geared yourself appropriately; you have the right enchants, potions, and consumables; and you've set up your awesome UI. Well, congratulations, you did your homework. Now comes the test. Think of everything you've done to this point as building your potential; now comes the time to activate that potential.
I'll go over each encounter in the current raiding tier and give you what you need to know to maximize your contribution to your raid. (Hint: That doesn't always mean maximizing your personal DPS.) I'll only briefly cover fight elements that are not feral-specific; for more detail, I highly recommend reading through Tyler's posts on raiding as a balance druid. I'll tackle the fights roughly in order by difficulty (easiest to hardest), as most guilds generally follow that path for progression.
The basics A very simple encounter. For the vast majority of the fight, you'll stand in one place and fight, only moving a bit when Argaloth decides to set the room on fire at 66% and 33% HP. In order to avoid people's getting Meteor Slashed repeatedly, your raid leader will likely divide you into two groups and have you stand on opposite sides. This means that you'll have to DPS from the front half the time, so be prepared to Mangle instead of Shred in those cases. Make sure you stay with your group, as Meteor Slash damage is shared among everyone in range.
The next level If you can keep an eye on the Meteor Slash timer, you can ignore what I just said and only DPS him from the rear. Just make sure you run back into your group before they take their Slash. (Upsetting your healers is not a good strategy.) You can also continue to DPS during the Fel Firestorm; just slide left or right to stay in melee range while still getting out of fires. Finally, consider popping Tranquility after one of the Firestorms to help your healers catch up.
The basics Magmaw is rooted in place, so you will be moving very little throughout the fight. On the pull, move to your spot and commence DPS. Adds will spawn periodically; in most raid compositions, the ranged DPS will handle them, so feel free to focus on Magmaw.
Periodically, Magmaw will temporarily swallow your tank (Mangle) and slump forward. When this happens, two to three players will have to jump on Magmaw and use Constricting Chains, which briefly impales him on the large spike in his room. If you are assigned Chains duty, when you see him slump forward (you'll also get a warning message), just right-click him like you would a vehicle to hop on, click the Constricting Chains ability (it's the only ability on the hotbar that comes up) to give you a targeting circle, and click on the spike in the middle of the room. This will expose his head briefly. The head takes double damage, so hit it as hard as you can until he resets, then repeat. Note that he can slump down in any direction; if you see steam rising from one part of the room, move away, as he's about to fall there. If the whole raid is there, now's an excellent time for Stampeding Roar.
The next level Assuming the chains are done correctly, the first exposed head should show up around 2 minutes in, then every 90 seconds after that. It's generally attackable for slightly less than 30 seconds -- 26-28 or so. A Rip + Glyph of Shred lasts 22 seconds, so you really want to have a Tiger's Fury ready to go at the start of the phase so you can get a Rip up ASAP. Why? Well, then you can put it up again, and it'll keep ticking for double damage even after the head is no longer attackable. Also, make sure you're saving your cooldowns (Berserk, Tol'Vir potion, trinkets, etc.) for the head phases.
The basics This fight looks really complex, but it's pretty forgiving on normal mode. There are four "trons," two of which will be active at all times, on a rotational basis. You'll always want to be on the "newest" tron, as the other will put up a shield that will do very bad things if attacked. Essentially, you're switching targets every 30 seconds; luckily, that's exactly the cooldown of Feral Charge.
Other than that, you may be assigned to interrupt Arcanotron while he is active. You'll want to run away from the raid if targeted by Magmatron. And you'll want to help kill Toxitron's oozes when they spawn. (Don't be too hasty, though; they pick a target and explode on it, so be prepared to run away if you get picked.)
The next level Even if you're not assigned as an interrupter on Arcanotron, know who has interrupt duties. If they go down, you'll want to step in ASAP to ensure every cast gets interrupted. Also, Magmatron typically does the most raid damage, so it's worth using a Tranquility while he's out. Barkskin and Survival Instincts are best saved for Magmatron, as well.
The basics Halfus has five drakes (well, four drakes and 1 pack of whelps), three of which are in play on any given week. The drakes in play provide large passive boosts to Halfus' abilities. Your raid leader can choose to activate one or more of these drakes; they promptly try to eat your raid (bad), but they also debuff Halfus and boost raid DPS when they die (good). You'll kill the drakes or whelps, then Halfus. If the time drake is playing this week, you'll want to stay out of fireball barrages (just watch for rings on the ground), and as with Omnotron, you may need to help interrupt Shadow Novas if determined by your raid leader.
The next level Ferals are incredibly useful for this fight, with their hybrid abilities. A DPS kitty can go bear to hold a drake for a while and then DPS Halfus (saving a tank slot) or hold Halfus temporarily to let Malevolent Strikes stacks drop off your MT. Even if you're not getting that fancy, remember to use Barkskin for every other Furious Howl, and use Tranquility to help your healers catch back up (especially after a missed interrupt on Shadow Nova). For some reason, feral charge doesn't work on drakes, so I'd advise against trying to DoT two targets.
Valiona and Theralion, Bastion of Twilight
The basics Although there are two dragons for this fight, you only engage them one at a time. While attacking Valiona, you'll want to stay out of her breath attack (which is easy, just run straight through her if she aims in your direction) and dodge the spinning purple void zones that Theralion casts before he tags in. When fighting Theralion, you can pretty much ignore everything else (though stay out of the void zones if they end up near melee). Before Valiona tags in, she'll randomly breathe on a few parts of the room; don't be there when she does.
The next level The hitboxes on Valiona and Theralion are so large that you can use on of my favorite tricks -- the zero-distance Feral Charge. Simply fight as normal and use FC whenever it comes off cooldown. You'l move a step or two, keep hitting the boss, and get access to a free Ravage. This trick can be a good DPS boost (3-5%) if you use it right.
Other than that, this fight is pretty dull for melee. Use Tranquility as appropriate, typically after a Blackout cast, and use Barkskin as needed to help reduce damage.
Well, that's it for the easy bosses. Tune in next week as we take a jaunt into Throne of the Winds for the Conclave, and we'll push farther into Blackwing Descent. Happy raiding!
What race should you choose for your druid? What happened to Tree of Life? How can you get started as a bear or cat in Cataclysm? Shifting Perspectives has the answers!