Zoology for Hunters, Part 1: Ferocity

This post aims to provide a comprehensive overview of Ferocious beasts circa patch 3.3. For a guide to choosing your pet head here and for the rest of this series (Tenacity and Cunning) go here.

Rawr!

Ah, Ferocity! This pet family is the one you’ll encounter the most in dungeons, but you’ll also tend to encounter them pretty frequently in other environments. Join me as I examine what they can do, which beasts are considered members of this class and how to train and talent a Ferocious beast.

What is Ferocity?

Ferocity is a classification or class of beasts. Ferocious beasts specialise in damaging things (quite a lot, in fact) and as a result are good companions for adventuring hunters. Training for a Ferocious beast focuses on improving how much damage they do (mostly) and survivability (to a lesser extent but remembering that a dead pet does no damage). If you are in an instanced dungeon or raid zone, you will do very well to have a Ferocious beast by your side.

Which beasts are classified as Ferocity?

The following pet families are considered members of the Ferocity class. Click on each to view the Petopia entry. Please note that only Beast Masters with the 51-point Beast Master talent can control exotic beasts.

Carrion Birds
Cats
Core Hounds (exotic)
Devilsaurs (exotic)
Hyenas
Moths
Raptors
Spirit Beasts (exotic)
Tallstriders
Wasps
Wolves

What is their natural environment?

In Naxxramas, feast eats you!

Their high damage output makes Ferocity class pets useful in almost all environments. You will certainly find them in PvE situations such as 5-man dungeons and raids, where maximizing damage done is important. Many hunters use them when they are questing on their own as killing an enemy quickly is rarely a bad thing. Finally you will also encounter them in PvP battles for the same reason – they may not have much in the way of utility, but a dead enemy doesn’t need to be stunned, snared or otherwise inconvenienced. Beware, though: If an enemy player gets it into their head that they’re going to kill your pet, Ferocious beasts are not durable!

How do I go about training and talenting my Ferocity-class beast?

Just as there is a theoretical most effective spec for hunters, so it is with pets too. There is a recommended way to place the points for maximum damage output, but there is also a little room for movement to enable you to put together your most effective spec. A couple of things to remember first:

  • To fully train your pet, both you and your pet must be level 80. You do not receive the full number of pet talent points until this level.
  • Beastmasters with the 51-point talent receive an extra 4 points to spend on training their pets, giving them a total of 20. Marksmen and Survivors get 16 points.
  • You can reset your pet’s talents at any time for free by visiting a pet trainer in a major city. There is therefore no cost for experimenting!

The guideline spec for non-beastmasters (click the image to go to the Wowhead pet talent calculator):

Ferocity guideline spec for non-beastmasters

For Beastmasters who receive the extra 4 talent points:

Ferocity guideline spec for Beastmasters

Those extra four points are handy, allowing Beastmasters to max out Bloodthirsty and Wild Hunt and put two points into Shark Attack.

With that said, there’s maximum DPS and then there’s maximum DPS. Spending some time in a room with the Hunter DPS Analyser will tell you that the above specs are the theoretical best for ferocity, but there is some room to move points about for best effect. But what effect could possibly be better than doing maximum damage, you (maybe) ask? Keeping your pet alive perhaps, as a dead pet does no damage. If you’re a Beastmaster, you’ll suffer a massive reduction in your DPS if you allow your pet to die (30-50%), and your DPS will drop to absolute zero while you are resurrecting. In addition, you’ll be pushed into Viper much sooner as revive pet costs a fair bit. If you are a Marksman or Survivor, it’s likely that you’ll lose the several hundred plus DPS contribution that your pet would have made for the rest of the fight, as you may not be able to justify the long, long revive pet cast.

Training for success: Ferocity talents in detail

The solution of course is to train your pet based on the cookie-cutter guideline specs but moving points around to suit your playstyle and requirements. Let’s go over the various talents in this tree, and examine where they might be useful. Follow along using the pet talent calculators on the official site or at Wowhead! If I know of any bugs or special considerations regarding trained pet abilities, you’ll find them in the listings below.

First Tier

You gain access to these talents once your pet reaches level 20, at a rate of one talent point per four levels.

Reflexes of the Cobra!Cobra Reflexes: Improves your pet’s attack speed by 30%, although every attack does reduced damage. Why is this important? If each hit deals reduced damage, surely there’s no damage increase? On ‘white’ standard hits, no – there’s more hits but they hit for less, so it works out the same. More hits, however, means more chances at critical hits. More crits means more damage and for those who are talented into it more Frenzy procs! This is A Good Thing.

After them!Dash / Dive: Boosts pet speed by 80% for 16 seconds every 30 seconds. No DPS improvement, but this is still a recommended talent. The reasoning behind this is that if your pet is travelling 80% faster 50% of the time, he will be able to get to his target faster and start DPSing. It is also a survivability boost on high-movement fights. This is pretty useful in any situation where you need to recall your pet to prevent him getting splattered (including PvP where he can run away faster than that melee-type can follow him!).

Great Stamina: Increases your pet’s stamina by 4/8/12%. You can use 1 point here instead of in dash if you like, although I prefer the speed boost. Yes, you can add survivability to your pet, but it’s also possible to talent your pet to do exactly the same damage as a completely untalented pet which isn’t what Ferocity is about. The most effective (for least points) survivability talents are further down the tree.

A note on survivability: If you’re considering spending multiple points in stamina or damage mitigation talents, perhaps consider if you could be doing anything else to prevent pet-failure: recall your pet to move him away from dangerous things that might kill him, make sure he’s not growling enemies off of the tank or attacking the wrong person, recall + dash if an enemy player decides to start hacking away at him. If you’re solo or doing something which really requires more pet-survivability, consider grabbing a Tenacity class beast. If you really love your Ferocity pet, you want to use him as your pet-tank when soloing you could reassign points here if you really need the extra pet health. Just remember to respec before queueing for dungeons!

Steel plate is natural, right?Natural Armo(u)r: Increases pet-armor by 5/10%. See that stuff I wrote just above? Under Great Stamina? Right. That, again. Oh, I suppose 4% stamina is probably better than 5% armor, since armor only mitigates physical damage. Honestly, I’m only still writing because the size of the picture screws up the formatting of the next line if this paragraph is too short. So, uh…

Second Tier

To gain access to these talents, you must spend three points in the first tier. Required pet level: 32.

Right, lad, today I'm going to teach you to cower better...Improved Cower: Reduces Cower’s damage penalty by 50/100%. Quick recap of what cower does: Reduces the damage your pet takes by 40% for 6 seconds, but pet movement speed is halved. Putting two talent points in here essentially allows your pet to reduce all damage taken by a substantial amount once every 45 seconds, with no loss of mobility. This is pretty good from a survivability perspective. To get best use out of it, it needs to be triggered manually as your pet will use it at random inappropriate times (meaning it will probably be on cooldown when the big unexpected damage comes). Bear in mind that Cower does a pretty decent job even with the speed loss, so Bloodthirsty is generally a better option.

RrraaaaghrraghrrBloodthirsty: Your pet’s attacks have a 10/20% chance to heal your pet for 5% and improve happiness by 5%. Personally, I prefer this to Imp. Cower on the grounds that 1: It means I very rarely have to feed my pet and 2: It happens automatically without me having to trigger it. It also works very well with Cobra Reflexes, that extra attack speed causing more automatic pet heals.

Well if you're GOING to attack things with your neck, at least wear this collar...Spiked Collar: Improves all pet damage by 3/6/9%. All pet damage. All. Pet. Damage. Ferocity pets are there for damaging things. This improves all damage. By 9%. Put three points here. I… think we’re done here :P

Eye of the Tiger! Speed of the... Boar?Boar’s Speed: Improves pet speed at all times by 30%. I probably wouldn’t recommend having this in addition to Dash as there are already too many useful things in this tree to divide your points between. Also unlike dash, you don’t need anywhere to put points to reach the next tier. Your mileage may vary, though!

Third Tier

To access these talents, you must spend six points total in lower tiers. Required pet level: 44.

Can you cull undead?Culling the Herd: Every time your pet’s focus dump critically hits, you and your pet’s damage is increased by 1/2/3% for ten seconds. This stacks with Ferocious Inspiration (and any other damage buff, it seems). It’s not a huuuuuge damage boost and there’s not a lot you can do to make claw/smack/bite crit more often, but the significant part about this is that it boosts both pet and hunter damage. 3% for 10 seconds is pretty respectable and if you’re lucky with crits it can be up quite a lot.

If that warlock seems scary, just imagine him in the latrine. Actually... don't.Lionhearted: Reduces the duration of stun and fear effects on your pet by 15/30%. I could see this having some utility in PvP environments, but it’s difficult to see where you’d pry the points from to put here. Remember that Bestial Wrath breaks stuns and fear effects for Beastmasters, and that you can buy a dirt-cheap basic PvP trinket for about 2000 honor now. The PvP trinket will break fears and movement impairing effects for the hunter, and if you’re a Marksman or Survivor it won’t hamper you too badly if your pet’s running around in fear.

Chaaaaarge!Charge / Swoop: Your pet charges a target, immobilizing them for 1 second and improving melee attack power by 25% for the next hit. This is an interesting one. It will get your pet from 25 yards to your target pretty much instantly which is useful. Problems, though: 8 yard minimum range, so you only get to use it once per boss-fight, bosses are immune to being immobilized, and one single attack with +25% AP isn’t much. In theory, if you swap a point from Culling the Herd to Charge it’s a minor DPS loss but if you execute it well on a short fight you may notice an increase. You will almost certainly see a loss on longer fights though, so I probably wouldn’t recommend it in raids. I plan to test it out in PvP, I can see it working well there.

Fourth Tier

To access these talents, you must spend nine points total in lower tiers. Required pet level: 56.

From the ashes, rise again!Heart of the Phoenix (Requires 2/2 Bloodthirsty): When your pet dies it will return to life with full health. No mana or focus cost, instant, 10-minute cooldown. I love this talent, and sacrifice a point further down the tree to take it. The description text is slightly misleading, however: Your pet does not trigger Heart of the Phoenix itself, you must trigger it. That’s fine, but if your pet’s dead you don’t have access to his pet-spells. The solution, then is to macro it and stick it on your action bars. The macro itself is very, very simple:
/cast Heart of the Phoenix
Taking this over – let’s say 2/2 Shark Attack for beastmasters is a DPS decrease in absolute terms, but let’s not forget that losing your pet is a big DPS loss – dead pets do no damage. In an ideal universe, your pet control is flawless and your pet doesn’t die. In reality, healers don’t heal pets and sometimes something happens that Mend Pet simply can’t cope with. Revive pet takes bloody forever to cast, and YOU are doing zero damage while it’s casting. Risk vs. reward, your pet will do more damage if you put this point somewhere else… if you can keep him alive!

Bite of the... Spider! Yes.Spider’s Bite: Increases the critical strike rate of your pet by 3/6/9%. Your personal crit rating does not pass to your pet. Your pet needs to crit to trigger certain abilities. This is the only way to improve your pet’s base crit rate. Three points!

Resistance is slightly less futile.Great Resistance: Improves magical damage resistance by 5/10/15% (absolute). Unless your pet is tanking for you, most elemental damage flying about is Area of Effect. In raids and dungeons, your pet has an innate 90% resistance to AoE. In PvP, 15% resistance won’t stop anyone annihilating your pet unless you have tons and tons of resilience. Not a significant enough contribution to survival to warrant the loss of DPS.

Fifth Tier

To access these talents, you must spend twelve points total in lower tiers. Required pet level: 68.

You'd think rabies would be a concern, but apparently it's fine.Rabid: Your pet goes into a killing frenzy (good start). Every hit has a chance to improve Attack Power by 5%, stacking up to 5 times. Lasts 20 seconds, 45 second cooldown. This is really quite good. If you’re a Beastmaster, the cooldown’s down to 31.5 seconds which means that this is up most of the time.

I wish I could clean myself to full health over five seconds.Lick Your Wounds (Requires Heart of the Phoenix): immobilizes your pet for five seconds while he heals 100% of his health. Since your pet channels this ability, he will be unable to attack, move or otherwise respond to anything during the 5 seconds. This is the most powerful pet survivability spell that you have access to, and can be useful if your raid’s healers ignore pets. It’s not recommended to leave this on autocast – it will sometimes successfully go off at 20% pet health, but your pet will also blow it every time you use Heart of the Phoenix – so your pet reappears with 100% health, and then heals himself for 100% of his health making him useless to you for the next 5 seconds and wasting both a three minute and ten minute cooldown. Turn off autocast, macro it using
/cast Lick Your Wounds
and cast it manually as required. As to whether you should pick this spell up over something that causes more damage… it’s your call. I really wouldn’t recommend it for non-beastmasters, but if you’re BM and your pet’s regularly taking a beating you may want to consider it. As previously stated (over and over again), dead pets do no damage, but pets channeling LYW also do no damage. If it saves you a Revive Pet though, you’ve gained something by pushing back your Aspect of the Viper phase.

Shouldn't this be 'Roar of the Wild'?Call of the Wild (Requires Spider’s Bite 3/3): Increases you and your pet’s attack power by 10% for 20 seconds. 5 minute cooldown (3.5 for BM). This is a really substantial damage boost. Beastmasters should wait until they have Bestial Wrath, then blow this, kill command, BW and trinkets at the same time. Under no circumstances leave this on auto cast, as your pet will blow it immediately upon engaging the first enemy he sees. You want to save this for boss fights, macro it or stick it somewhere prominent on your pet action bar and trigger manually.

Sixth Tier

These talents were added in Patch 3.1 specifically to give Beast Mastery hunters a place to put those extra four pet talent points. To access them, you must spend 15 points total in lower tiers. Required pet level is 80, although hunters with the Beast Master talent can reach this tier as early as pet level 64.

Yes, it works above water too! Like the land-shark.Shark Attack: Improves pet damage by 3/6%. It’s the Return of Spiked Collar! Now spiked collar was good, but hunters who are tight on points will probably want to take Wild Hunt instead as it scales better. Beastmasters not taking Heart of the Phoenix or Lick Your Wounds will probably want to put two points here. Non-beastmasters will have at most a single point left to spend in this tier, and will generally want to take 1/2 Wild Hunt. 3-6% improved pet damage is nice, but Wild Hunt scales better.

What should we call this talent? Eh, we'll pick a name out of a hat.Wild Hunt: Increases your hunter -> pet stamina contribution by 20/40% and attack power contribution by 15/30%. That is to say, the amount of stamina and attack power of the hunter that passes to the pet is increased by those amounts. Non beastmasters will only be able to put one point here, and unless you have a very low attack power – somewhere sub 3000 – you’ll find Wild Hunt better for you. Beastmasters should go 2/2 here over and above Shark Attack. Notice it also improves stamina, which will make your pet harder to kill and help pet-tankers out. After training your pet, the extra stamina and attack power may not appear immediately – logging out and back in generally solves this as does mounting and then dismounting.

Conclusion

Hopefully, this has answered any questions you had about Ferocity pets, hunting with them and how to train and specialise them. Ferocious beasts are the workhorse (workcat? workwolf? workspiritbeast?) of the adventuring hunter, you’ll be spending a lot of time with yours. Make sure you get one that does the job for you and that you get on with. Questions? Comments? You are most heartily encouraged to make use of the comments form below! I am most happy to answer anything I haven’t covered and to update this guide if I’ve missed something / made a shambles of explaining something (this happens regularly). And evidence that someone’s read this stuff is good too :P

Good hunting!

Go to the  Zoology for Hunters Guide Index

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