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Shifting Perspectives: Feral cat strats for the Firelands, part 1

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Shifting Perspectives for cat , bear , restoration and balance druids. Welcome to our feral cat edition, brought to you by Chase Hasbrouck, aka Alaron of The Fluid Druid blog. Let the face clawing begin!

All of us want fire kitty staff, but there are a few obstacles in the way ... mounds of trash and five or so bosses. For my next few columns, I'll take a look at feral DPS strategies that will get you through mostly unscorched.

The first thing you'll have to deal with is trash. There's a nice Firelands trash guide right here on WoW Insider, but let's start this week's study with a brief overview.
  • Molten Lords, Core Hounds, Molten Surgers Simple tank and spanks. Molten Lords have a knockback, Core Hounds have a fear, and Surgers do AOE damage (so spread out!).
  • Hell Hounds Can be deadly to tanks. Be prepared to go bear if your tank bites it. Can be handled single-target or AOE, depending on your tanks and healers.
  • Flamewalkers Focus-fire the Cauterizers (healers), then clean up the rest.
  • Scorpions Explode for a good bit of AOE damage on death. If your raid AOEs these down, pop Barkskin/SI when the pack is close to death.
  • Pyrelords/Elementals The only real threat, these require a bit of coordination. The Pyrelord will periodically ignite one of the elementals; only DPS the elementals when they're afire, as they have a damage reduction buff otherwise.
  • Turtles For the love of teenage mutant ninjas, leave the turtles alone. Please. If your raid must pull them, then have one finger hovering over Feral Charge. It may save you.
Once you kill enough trash and the crude foreshadowing concludes, Shannox will come out to play!

Shannox

Basic strategy Shannox has two mean doggies, Riplimb and Rageface, and he of course is no fun customer, either. The initial goal is to get Shannox to just above 30% HP, kill both dogs, then finish off Shannox.

Guilds approach this encounter differently. Some burn Rageface down immediately, to eliminate his deadly Face Rage ability (now less deadly -- thank you, Blizzard hotfixes) and rely on their healers to handle Shannox's Frenzy buff. Others try to keep the dogs alive as long as possible to reduce the chance of tank gibs from Frenzy.

Regardless of your guild's overall strategy, the main threat in this fight isn't the mobs-- it's the traps. Shannox will throw these under a random raider's feet frequently, forcing quick movement. By the end of the fight, the ground will be covered in traps, which makes not tripping one difficult. The Immolation Traps simply put a nasty DOT on you; if you hit one of these, just pop SI, and you'll be fine. The Crystal Traps are much worse, however, as they'll freeze you in a Hodir-style block that requires fellow raiders to bust you out. These "Crystal Prisons" have a lot of HP; a raid can typically burst open only one or two before hitting the fight's enrage timer (depending on your DPS), so try not to hit them. The latest version of DBM does an excellent job of calling out traps.

Once both dogs are dead, Shannox enters a soft enrage, periodically hitting the entire raid with Magma Rupture for a large amount of damage. You'll want to ensure you have all your DPS cooldowns (Berserk, TF, potion) and survivability cooldowns (Barkskin/SI) available to use for this phase to burst him down as fast as possible.

Advanced tips Feral Charge > Ravage! works well for breaking a Face Rage, but you'll have to have very fast reflexes to pull it off. A 5 CP FB can work as well. Basic attacks (Shreds) won't hit hard enough on 25-man but should work for 10-man.

If you are talented into Nurturing Instinct (as you should be), a Tranquility in the final burn phase can do wonders for saving your raid. Ask your healers.

Most of the targets are typically kept spaced far apart, so your chances for multi-DOTing are pretty limited. However, if you're currently targeting a dog that hits a crystal trap, don't bother dpsing the imprisoned dog if another target is nearby; switch over and drop a Mangle+Rake before switching back.

It takes constant awareness of positioning, but try to keep an Immolation Trap between you and Rageface when possible. If he jumps to Face Rage you, the Trap will set off and instantly break the Rage. (Note that you can and should use Barkskin to reduce the Face Rage damage.)

This is a perfect fight for the hybrid cat/bear build. Riplimb doesn't hit overly hard; a hybrid tank can tank him quite easily, and then help burn down Shannox. For a 10-man raid, this will increase your DPS a good 10-15%, which can push you over the top if you consistently wipe at sub-10%.
Beth'tilac

Another
spider boss. Honestly, it feels like Blizzard's strategy for boss design this tier was to take random WoW bosses and add fire. "Spiders on fire? Makes no sense, but it's cool, so ... yeah!"

Basic strategy This fight is divided into two phases, a super-chaotic phase 1 with adds popping up from everywhere, and a steady burn in phase 2. Phase 1 divides the raid into two teams; the majority of the raid stays on the ground, killing adds, while a tank, healer, and assorted DPS ascend to the second floor (webbing) to attack Beth'tilac directly, to prevent her from raining poison down on the raid.

The top team will have to periodically drop down and climb back up, as Beth'tilac will periodically use an AOE that kills everything on her level (Smoldering Devastation). The catch, of course, is that the only way to climb is by killing Spinner adds, which leave a clickable tendril of webbing that carries you to the top. Only one tendril per player, sadly.

While the top team is doing its thing, the rest of the raid deals with three types of adds. The Spinners, already mentioned, spawn above the raid and must be taunted to bring them into killing distance. The Drones are large spider adds that appear singly and must be tanked. Finally, the Spiderlings are hordes of small, low-HP spiders that must be slowed and AOEed down, as they will heal and buff the Drones if they reach them. (If you fought XT back in Ulduar, it's a bit like that.) They also will heal Beth'tilac in phase 2 for quite a bit if any are left alive.

Sadly, phase 1 is not our strong point. The priority is definitely on adds; several guilds have killed Beth'tilac from near-100% to 0% in phase 2. However, we have no AOE slow, and our cone AOE attack is better suited to tanked packs, instead of spread-out groups. If you end up on the bottom, you'll want to be DPSing the Drones. As you might expect, your priority will be to kill enough Spinners to get your top crew up, then Spiderlings, then the Drones themselves.

Once Beth'tilac uses her Smoldering Devastation three times, she'll drop to the floor, and the phase 2 burn begins. This is a very simple phase; she gains a stacking buff that increases her damage by 5% every few seconds, so it's a race to kill her before she kills your raid. Use all your cooldowns here, as with Shannox.

Advanced topics Our long-lasting DOTs make us well suited for DPSing Beth'tilac in phase 1. Simply refresh your DOTs before you drop down, and they'll continue to tick while the Smoldering Devastation is going on. Plus, cat form lets you drop through any hole; other classes want to take the center hole, which lowers you to the ground, but cat form will greatly mitigate the fall damage from falling through directly.

Being hybrid has some advantage here. While two tanks are required for phase 1 and 2, the time between tank swaps in phase 2 is relatively long, which lets you go into cat and lay down a full DOT rotation. Definitely pick up Nurturing Instinct (and drop something marginal, like Fury Swipes) if you intend to do this.

Next time, we'll take a look at the next two bosses your raid will likely take on: Lord Rhyolith and Baleroc. Until then, enjoy being OP!

Looking for the latest and greatest in feral cat druid guides? Shifting Perspectives has the answers! Check out our cat 101 for Cataclysm. Also don't miss gearing your cat for Cataclysm raiding, addons for cat druids and raiding strats for feral cats.

Filed under: Druid, (Druid) Shifting Perspectives

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