Xanzara's Feral Guide
Feral is a melee specialization, specialized at dealing sustained damage to enemies. Feral is also a specialization that features a unique playstyle, balancing limited resources and maintaining a lot of buffs and debuffs.
This guide will have two paths, with different perspective. The beginner path will attempt to teach a begining feral player into playing a feral druid and introduces the basics and will slowly add more advanced concepts. This will easily explain
The advanced path will be more akin to a reference, and it will be easy to look up any particular detail about feral gameplay you want to read about right now.
First few steps
This section will explain the fundamentals of the rotation. Talents will add or change aspects of this, those changes will be presented under each talent.
Feral gameplay circle around a dynamic rotation, you rotate finishers and builders around a fairly predictable pattern.
In the builder phase, which occurs at any point we have less than 5 combo points:
A normal cycle compare of 3-4 builders, and one finisher.
Rake - Maintain the Rake debuff on as many targets as fesible. This normally means 4-5 targets. Normally this means that you cast Rake if it's off the target or the remaining duration is less than the pandemic threshold (30% of base duration, or 4.5 seconds without Jagged Wounds or 3.6 seconds with Jagged Wounds). There is additional rules relating to snapshotting, those will be explained under the snapshot section.
Thrash - Maintained on 2+ targets, also serves as enabler for Swipe on larger number of targets through the Scent of Blood mechanic. There are some mechanics that will makes this enter single-target gameplay.
Swipe - Multi-Target filler, used at 2+ targets as the lowest priority. Additionally used as a primary AoE move at larger number of enemies (5+) while Scent of Blood is up.
Shred - Single-Target filler, used to generate combo points when no other options are available.
For all finishers: You always want to cast Finishers with 5 combo points. This is especially important for Rip - unlike other combo point based dots (such as Rupture for Rogues) combo points do not scale the duration of Rip but the damage. That means that if you cast a 4 CP Rip it will deal 20% less damage than it otherwise would for the entire duration.
Rip - Maintain this finisher on as many targets as possible. Refreshing it in Pandemic range (5.76 with Jagged Wounds, 7.2 without.) and pooling as much as possible to refresh it as late as possible. You also refresh it if it has less than half duration remaining and you would apply a stronger snapshot
Ferocious Bite - Is our filler finisher, when used against targets in execute range (<=25% hp) it will additionally refresh Rip on that target to its full duration. It cost at a minimum 25 energy, but will also burn up to 25 extra energy (if available when cast) and deal proportionally more damage. You should nearly always cast Ferocious Bite with full energy (>50). The only notable exception to this is if your Rip is a few seconds from falling off in Execute range in which case it is fine to cast Ferocious Bite with any available resources. (Including less than five combo points)
Procs & Cooldowns
Tiger's Fury should be used to as close to as cooldown as possible. It is almost never worth it to waste energy regen from TF and that is the overreaching concern. Inside Tiger's Fury any dot cast will snapshot the TF damage increase. It's worth it to refresh a Rip early to add a TF snapshot to it if it didn't have it already.
Berserk - You always want to sync up Tiger's Fury with Berserk, making sure that you get the entire damage incrase during Berserk and also make sure you have enough energy when you go into Berserk to not starve early on and waste the reduction. It's almost always better choice to delay Berserk to sync with a TF useage than the reverse. The damage increase provided by the Feral Instinct trait does not snapshot but will affect bleeds while it is up.
Ashamane's Frenzy - deals a large amount of damage, and it's fairly important to cast it with as many damage increases as possible. The bleed portion of this ability snapshot as you'd think, but the initial hits do not so you want to cast this with atleast 3 seconds left on Tiger's Fury if possible. However since the cooldown seldom lines up with Tiger's Fury, it is not always possible. You have to make a judgement call whether to wait for next TF or not. If you can delay without losing a use of AF then the answer is yes, otherwise the answer is no.
Ashamane's Rip - is a proc that occurs from using a builder on a target with a active Rip. When it procs it adds a dot Ashamane's Rip onto that target. Ashamane's Rip is a duplicate of the Rip applied at that moment, including duration and any active damage snapshots. While this is mostly a factor of luck, it factors into pooling decision making since the builders you cast immediatly after refreshing Rip would in the event of a proc apply a much longer Ashamane's Rip than the ones used near the end of Rips duration.
Omen of Clarity / Clearcasting - occurs from auto-attacks. Unlike in the past, it now only affects Thrash, Swipe and Shred. Normally you don't change your play around getting these procs, and continue playing as you would and let your normal builder casts consume these procs. There are specific items that affect this and would make you weave in thrashes on single target.