And you thought all that mana was just for shape shifting!
I think one of the most forgotten abilities that Feral Druids have in their arsenal is their Hurricane Spell. I know I'd forgotten about it. In fact, I'm embarrassed to say that I had been running Kara for over three months before it dawned on me to use it on our AoE pulls. So, tonight when I was watching my husband run one of our guild's 2 Kara groups through, which happened to have one of our newer Feral Druids Off-Tanking, I noticed him frantically swiping in Bear form trying to help out as best he could. I immediately sent him a whisper and suggested that he cast Barkskin and Hurricane on the next AoE pull.
This is one of the best things we can do, as off-tanks, on an AoE pull. Swipe only hits 3 mobs on each application...if they are directionally in front of you and within range and if you have the rage. However, Hurricane affects all the mobs in the target area. Lets take a look:
Hurricane - Creates a violent storm in the target area, causing X Nature damage every 1 sec, and reducing the attack speed of enemies by 25%. Lasts 10 sec. Druid must channel to maintain this spell.
At Rank 4, hurricane will do 206 damage to each enemy in the targeted area each second for 10 seconds. That is a lot more damage on a lot more mobs than what your swipe will cause. My swipe (and I'm going on memory here), typically does around 130 damage to each of the 3 enemies I'm attacking unless I crit, then it can be 200-450 on 1 or more of those mobs. So, lets say I do an average crit of 300 on one mob and base damage of 130 on the other two, total that's 560 damage. However, one tick of the Hurricane spell on those same 3 mobs totals 618 damage. Now, considering that you'll have a lot more enemies in the target zone than 3 (I used 3 to compare to swipe) we can see how this spell is much more effective in burning the enemies down.
Another good aspect of this spell is the attack speed reduction of 25%. I know before I started using this spell, we'd always emote /bye to our mage prior to an AoE pull as, about 30% of the time, he'd die from the agro generated by his AoE spells. So, the 25% attack speed reduction can actually help save his life enabling him to dispense with the mobs more quickly.
There are three drawbacks with the Hurricane spell. One is it's a channeling spell and therefor generates a lot of threat and when you get hit, it can be interrupted wasting that 1,905 mana it costs (usually about a 3rd of a feral druids mana). However, this can be avoided/reduced by casting Barkskin prior to Hurricane.
The second drawback is that it has a one minute cooldown (as well as Barkskin). So, if your tank pulls two AoE groups in a row, you won't be able to use your AoE spell on the second group. This can be easily fixed by asking your MT to alternate AoE pulls with the single patrol pulls, when possible.
The third drawback is that Hurricane is a targeted AoE spell. This means that once you place that big green target, that is where the damage happens. If the enemies run out of that area, they no longer take damage. There are quite a few things to consider here; if the tank does a ranged pull and you target the area the mobs were originally standing, you'll be lucky if one or two stays in the target zone. If you place your target where the tank is, but hang back in the healing and casting area, you'll find that a few of the enemies will break away and come to attack you...which means you just pulled baddies into your squishies...doh! You also have to consider the positioning of the mage as he's the one who will generate the most threat and will have most of the mobs surrounding him and these are the ones that need the attack speed reduction. Since I'm usually in my Bear clothes, I just run up to where the MT is (our mage is usually nearby as well), cast Barkskin followed by hurricane and position my target around us and the mage. That typically takes care of the majority of the mobs.
Once Hurricane has run it's duration, I check to see how many mobs are left and what level of health they have. If I see one or two on the 'out skirts' with a decent amount of health, I go into kitty and burn them down quickly. If I see a couple over near our healers, I go into Bear to ensure I get their attention. Overall, though, once we're all done with the AoE, we rarely have more than 3 baddies left and they certainly don't last long.
In Kara, there are a lot of AoE pulls in the first half of the instance. Most of these are found in the Banquet Hall with Moroes and in the Ballroom. The only time I do not use Hurricane is when we have an AoE pull with more than one elite; for example, the pulls containing the two Philanthropist. On those pulls, you will need to off-tank and, since the non-elite adds are minimal, you and your MT should be able to hold agro on them all.
So, the next time you're in Kara and your raid leader announces a non-elite AoE pull, cast Barkskin followed by Hurricane and position you and your big, green target between your MT and Mage. Then bask in the glory of all that damage text drifting across your screen!