Night Fae is the go-to covenant for all forms of PvE content, providing the highest dps in every scenario. Convoke the Spirits provides Feral with a much needed burst Cooldown and as such, a very desirable and relevant damage profile, especially in Single Target scenarios. It is important to note that Moonfire casts from Convoke in Cat Form are treated as ones cast with Lunar Inspiration and, along with multiple casts of Rake, add to its value on Cleave and AoE, while 3-6 casts of Ferocious Bite (also note that all Ferocious Bites that Convoke casts count as having 5 Combo Points and 50 Energy) add massively to its value on Single Target.
Soulshape is also a great mobility tool, which is always nice to have, despite Feral not lacking in terms of mobility. If you’re planning on playing Feral in any sort of relevant high-end content (aka if you plan to raid Mythic or push relatively high keys), Night Fae is a no-brainer and miles ahead of the alternatives. This guide is going to assume you’re playing Night Fae.
Necrolord provides Feral with bleed-focused gameplay and is reminiscent of the spec in earlier expansions gameplay-wise, giving it a bit of a learning curve as well. As of Patch 9.2, Necrolord Feral performs quite well in AoE/Cleave situations and is a valid option for Mythic+. Its damage profile differs from Night Fae quite a bit and is significantly weaker for Single Target, but makes up for it in AoE, particularly sustain AoE. Due to its dot-focused damage profile, much lower burst, and lower overall single target, Necrolord has no justifiable place in progression raiding. Adaptive Swarm adds an extra layer of micro-management, is manipulatable but uncontrollable, and many mechanics can still cause Swarms to despawn, resulting in lost DPS. There is material elsewhere that goes into more depth, but it won't be covered here since it is outside the scope of this guide.
Kyrian and Venthyr
Both of these Covenants play very similarly to Night Fae while being strictly worse so there’s really not a whole lot to say about them.
Soulbinds and Conduits
Taste for Blood: This Conduit makes Ferocious Bite deal increased damage for every Cat Form Bleed on the target (meaning the Conduit does not interact with non-Cat Form Bleeds, such as Embrace of Kimbul, the Zandalari Troll Racial). It synergises well with both Sabertooth and Apex Predator’s Craving. This is Feral’s strongest Conduit on Single Target and Low Target Cleave situations.
Conflux of Elements: This Conduit simply increases your damage and healing done during your Convoke the Spirits channel. Note that it doesn’t only increase the damage/healing of abilities cast by Convoke itself, but also makes your Bleed ticks stronger for the duration. It is a very strong Conduit and enhances your burst potential by a decent amount. It will be your second best Potency Conduit option in all situations.
Born of the Wilds: This Conduit reduces the Cooldown of the entirety of the Level 35 Talent Row, making it the only Finesse Conduit that is a dps gain, since Heart of the Wild is a dps Talent in a utility Talent Row. That fact alone makes it so you can safely lock this Conduit in.
Well-Honed Instincts: This is one of the strongest Endurance Conduits in the game and is a fairly safe option to go with, acting as a pseudo Cheat Death. Note that the heal is cancelled if you shapeshift in or out of a form during its 3 second long duration, so try your best not to do that when it procs.
Innate Resolve: This Conduit buffs both Frenzied Regeneration (which only really applies to Feral through Well-Honed Instincts, since Guardian Affinity is generally not taken) and Regrowth cast on yourself, most(if not all) of which should be cast while you’re pooling and Predatory Swiftness is active. This is a very good option as a second Endurance Conduit, seeing as it both synergises with Well-Honed Instincts and improves your self-healing throughput.
Ursine Vigor: This Conduit gives you a large amount of increased health and armor for 4 seconds every time you enter Bear Form, making it effectively a potent defensive with no cooldown. While it’s rather situational, since there’s fights where you’d never make use of it and fights where it’s incredibly strong, it is definitely something to keep in mind and often switch on and off of when appropriate.
Niya is a very strong Soulbind, offering one Finesse Conduit slot, two Endurance Conduit slots, two Potency Conduit slots and the choice between a third Potency Conduit + Niya’s Tools: Poison OR a third Endurance Conduit + Niya’s Tools: Burrs. Niya’s Tools: Poison either does nothing on Raid Encounters with no Interrupts, or does negligible damage when Interrupting is possible, making it so you can ignore it for the most part.
Niya also offers Grove Invigoration, a very powerful Mastery buff with solid uptime, buffed even further through Bonded Hearts. The only real deviation you can make is switching Innate Resolve to Ursine Vigor on fights where the latter is strong.
Note: Conduit Placement matters since patch 9.1 brought with it Conduit enhancements. (less so if you are at max Renown and have access to all the empowered slots)
Feral has a selection of strong Legendaries. Now that we always get to have Celestial Spirits equipped, we also get to choose our second Legendary. Much like earlier in the expansion, this will bring some options and chances to diversify and be flexible. This time around, our decision is also influenced by our Set-Bonus, mostly the 2-piece. The Cooldown Reduction based on Combo Points spent provides us with more synergy with certain Legendaries than others.
The baseline effect and the aforementioned synergies will be outlined below. Still, the short version is that we will most likely use Frenzyband on Single Target and Apex Predator’s Craving on Multi-Target scenarios.
Optimal Slot: Back
Draught of Deep Focus
Draught of Deep Focus is an incredibly powerful Single Target Legendary, increasing the power of your Rips and Rakes (Moonfires too technically, making it so you want to Moonfire in every Owlweaving cycle while you’re using this Legendary) when they’re only on one target. Having this Legendary on makes using Rip on a second target roughly dps neutral assuming they live the entire duration, so generally speaking you only want to Rip one target at a time with this on. Rake on the other hand, can be spread, since the opportunity cost for using Rake is effectively Shred, which does very little damage. While this remains a strong option, Frenzyband will overtake it on Single Target for most fight durations due to its synergy with our 2-piece Set Bonus.
Optimal Slot: Neck
Apex Predator's Carving
Apex Predator’s Craving is a strong legendary that allows your Rip ticks to have a chance to proc a free Ferocious Bite, which acts as one used with 5 Combo Points and 50 Energy. It synergizes very well with Sabertooth. Using it in combination with Primal Wrath is your only real “funnel” option on the spec, allowing you to use the free Ferocious Bite on a priority target, which can be especially useful on Inspiring weeks in Mythic+. Apex also shines in Low Target Cleave situations, outperforming the alternatives. There’s also the misconception that Apex is a good Single Target Legendary option, since it interacts with the spec’s two main Single Target finishers.
This is false, since all other options mentioned here outperform it on Single Target. Its proc is not RPPM, meaning it’s entirely random, making it a Legendary with a high amount of variance, especially on lower target numbers. With the introduction of our 2-piece Set Bonus, this Legendary gains a significant amount of value in all scenarios since each Ferocious Bite you gain from it gives you the full Cooldown Reduction of 2.5 seconds. This will now be our go-to for any Multi-Target scenarios, including Mythic+.
Optimal Slot: Shoulders while Celestial Spirits is on your Belt and Belt after that
Circle of Life and Death
Circle of Life and Death Circle makes your DoTs do their full damage in a shorter duration, effectively increasing their damage, but making it so you have to refresh them more often. It is a very strong AoE option thanks to its synergy with Primal Wrath. While this Legendary remains a perfectly viable option for Mythic+, it will almost always be outperformed by Apex Predator’s Craving.
Optimal Slot: Ring
Frenzyband makes your generators during Berserk place a stacking Bleed effect on the target, while also reducing the Cooldown of Berserk by a bit for every generator used. It provides a great amount of burst, making it a solid option on encounters that favour burst damage. Those include fights with burst phases, significant downtime and fights with short duration. It is also a solid option in Mythic+, but has become weaker with the removal of the seasonal affix, Prideful.
Optimal Slot: Wrists / Waist
Stats: Crit/Mastery OR Crit/Vers
The Night Fae Covenant Legendary, it reduces Convoke the Spirits' Cooldown to 1 minute, but it now casts 12 spells instead of 16. After its massive buff right before it became available, this has become a very strong Legendary option.
As of Patch 9.2, we get to always have this Legendary on, which is great since it is one of the strongest Legendaries in the game and allows us to use one of our other powerful Legendaries. It gives us an incredibly high uptime on Grove Invigoration and Bonded Hearts, potentially devaluing Mastery as a stat for us since it is effectively baseline. Giving us a very impactful 1 minute DPS Cooldown in Convoke the Spirits is a considerable benefit, as those are highly flexible.
This Raid Tier brings with it Tier Sets and, with that, Tier Pieces and Tier bonuses. As a Feral Druid, the 4 Set Pieces you want are the shoulders, gloves, chest, and Legs, allowing you to put Unity on your Helm.
While the above still makes sense, with the Creation Catalyst at effectively infinite charges, you can now freely catalyse all pieces to be Tier, so you’ll most likely end up running with all 5 Tier Pieces. Additionally, the fact that Legendary Items’ Item Level did not go up, they are now our lowest Item Level pieces of gear, meaning we want to put them in the armour slots with the smallest Stat Budget, which in Feral’s case is the Back slot for Unity.
The introduction of the Puzzling Dinar vendors also present us with multiple meaningful choices to make when it comes to gear. Realistically your priority for spending your Dinars should be as follows.
- Zovastrum, the Unmaking or Nightwatch Eviscerator (Nightwatch Eviscerator is technically BiS assuming full raid BiS gear, but the difference is marginal enough to where the choice doesn’t really matter.)
- The First Sigil: This Trinket remains consistently insane and outperforms all alternatives for most fight lengths.
- Decanter of Endless Howling: This Trinket is the current strongest option to pair up with The First Sigil, though alternatives exist.
Honourable mention to Gavel of the First Arbiter, a weapon option that becomes very powerful through weapon swapping, but isn’t really worth it if you’re not willing to bother with weapon swapping.
Noteworthy Dungeons/PVP Trinkets:
So'leah's Secret Technique: Effectively a stat stick that grants you a decent amount of a secondary stat based on the party/raid member you use it on for 30 minutes. It's a solid option.
Cosmic Gladiator's Badge of Ferocity: A crit stat stick with an on-use effect that gives you a decent amount of your primary Stat on a 1-minute cooldown. It lines up well with Convoke the Spirits and is easy to get at a decent item level, making it a solid option to go for early on.
Noteworthy Raid Trinkets:
All 3 Fated Raid offer several strong Trinket options, but the options highlighted earlier are your best options:
The First Sigil: An enormous Versatility on-use with a very long Cooldown of 5 minutes. It also resets your Covenant's Signature Ability (Soulshape for us realistically). It's a very strong option but slightly reliant on kill-timers not being horrible for it. The Soulshape reset also has relevant applications.
Elegy of the Eternals: A simple Stat Stick that grants you a decent amount of your highest secondary stat and another 10% of that amount to allies in your party (not raid) that are in the same Covenant. Another strong option that can be a blanket pick.
Earthbreaker's Impact: An on-use Trinket that deals a solid amount of damage split between nearby enemies and additional damage if you or an ally move over the extra tectonic weak points it spawns. A powerful option for both Raid and Mythic +.
Cache of Acquired Treasures: An on-use Trinkets that rolls between 3 weapons while off Cooldown and grants you an effect based on the active weapon when activated. You options are:
1) Axe: this makes Critical Strikes from your direct damaging abilities cause a Bleed effect on the target and is very strong in AoE situations.
2)Wand: this deals a flat amount of damage to a single target.
3)Sword: makes your damaging abilities grant you a stacking Haste buff.
This Trinket is your strongest option for Mythic +. You want to use Axe on AoE and any of the 3 on Single Target.