Look out Shadowburn, you have a new 80 feral druid who's going to be jumping in all your Dungeon Finder queues looking for epics. I took a nice snapspot of Darkker in her newly minted level 80 cat gear. Unlike Hana and Gillien when they hit 80, she has nary a TBC epic on her. Everything she's wearing is pure WotLK gear.
The good news is, I made her dual spec into bear, so once she has a chance to do some more gearing that's one less dps Shadowburn will have to contend with and one more tank to take three of those dps on a romp through heroics. The bad news is she's newly 80 so while she likely has the gear to tank the older WotLK heroics (you don't need to break 40k health, or even 30k, to tank heroic Nexus), you're not going to see chain pulls from one end of the instance to the other and if you're a healer you might actually have to work a little.
She has 26k health and 30% dodge in bear form. I know tanks used to run with that, but it's been ages. I admit I'm a little shy about taking her out for a heroic spin as a bear. She might have the gear with a forgiving group, but I don't expect a Dungeon Finder pug to be anything resembling forgiving. It's far easier to go as dps and quest/do AH stuff while waiting for the queue. By the time she runs out of those sorts of things to do she'll have the gear she needs to be a proper chain-pulling, aggro-hogging tank for your average pugger.
And I did have five low level epics waiting for her too, thanks to leveling my leatherworking. I have both trollwoven pieces, the polar chest and boots (just for tanking), and the Ice Striker's Cloak. Avoidance isn't too hot with the polar set I know, but everyone's gotta start somewhere.
I plan to be kitty for any initial pug raiding though. I'm not taking Koralon punches like this, though I probably could squeak by as dps. Admittedly it's embarrassing seeing the achievements fly up for my fresh 80 since that just sends up a noob flag, but then there's a certain satisfaction that comes with getting that achievement and out-dpsing other people in the same run. I might be a nub 80, but I sure as heck do more than those slackers doing three digits dps.
After a few heroics I can safely say I pull about 1800-2000dps, depending on buffs and the types of boss fights. If the stars align and I get a Bloodlust on a single target boss fight I can break 2500, just barely. It feels horribly low, but it's just a gear issue, and in a way it gives me some perspective. I realize that I've forgotten how much dps a new 80 does in a 5-man.
I haven't been in this position for a while now, since Hana and Gillien were both 80 before Ulduar came out, and it's kind of fun looking at a world where nearly every 5-man holds promise of a potential upgrade. I'm even looking forward to rep farming. Darkker is my only 80 on this server so she has to earn her head and shoulder enchants the hard way since I can't mail anything to her.
My worst fear, that I would be Vote Kicked for being a nub, hasn't materialized at all. Though my feral has been on a couple heroics where people have complained about the dps, the complaints haven't been directed at her. In one of them, a hunter that was doing about the same dps as her dropped group while we were waiting for our afk healer. The party leader, one of those "raid tanks" sporting a spiffy title, said something to the affect of maybe we would get a real dps to replace him.
I thought that meant he would have taken a dislike to me as well, so I prepared myself to be derided throughout the remainder of the run, but oddly enough he was perfectly friendly to me. And I have to wonder, given the postings by other bloggers, if perhaps it wasn't that this guy didn't like the hunter's dps, but the dps the hunter was putting out for his gear. I was trying my best in blues and a trio of low level crafted epics, I wasn't going to break 3k in a 5-man with my gear, but the hunter was fully purple.
I'm also looking into feral add-ons. I tried Feral By Night briefly, but it's too fast-paced for me. By the time the suggested next move registers in my mind it's generally gone and I don't feel like I really understand the underlying priorities that are telling me which move to use. I'm not learning as I use it.
I probably could adjust it, but I found that what I really was looking for was something like Squawk and Awe, the moonkin debuff/proc timer bars; something that would tell me in a bar form when my buffs/debuffs were going to wear off so I could make the decisions myself (and thus learn). So I'm currently using Bad Kitty at the recommendation of one of my guildies, and it looks like this one's going to work.