I have worked the numbers again and again, and as far as I can see, it’s six of one, half a dozen of the other. We may have arrived at different weighting systems, but the end results are mostly the same.
So if you want a great ranked listing of Bear Tanking gear, go visit the Druid Leather page and the Druid Items pages of WoW Think Tank. It’s a solid resource. And I’m not so egotistical that I feel I have to reinvent the wheel on this. I wanted to make sure it was solid… and now I’m sure.
What I’m going to do is waste your time by giving you a base spec, and a couple stages of gearing, with an eye towards helping everyone still leveling to prepare for Naxx.
So, prepping the feral Druid tank spec.
You know you’re going to HAVE to have a talent spec with 3/3 in Survival of the Fittest to be uncrittable in raids. Period. You know you’re going to HAVE to have 3/3 in Protector of the Pack, as well.
A decent all-in tank spec is something like this, but you don’t have to go all cookie cutter on me. Just make damn sure you have your max dodges, your max armors, and your uncrittable and PotP, ‘kay? If you like more fear duration reduction, fine. If you’d like to have more Energy return and Bear damage boost from Tiger’s Fury, by all means.
In fact, if you’d like to rework things to take 5/5 in Rend and Tear, that’s perfectly valid also. I’ve done some whack-a-mole target dummy action that shows a very decent threat and damage boost from Rend and Tear. I haven’t worried about it myself, because in the Heroics I’ve run threat generation has been the least of my concerns. But it IS a perfectly valid tanking spec choice. And a ton of your damage comes from Maul, now.
Hmm… maybe I better reiterate that.
A TON of your Damage and threat comes from Maul, now.
Shoot, I never really got into that, did I? And this post ain’t the time.
Let me just say in passing that, while Mangle does generate decent damage and threat, and Lacerate is nice, Maul blows them both out of the water for damage and threat. It is well worth being your rage dump when you’re tanking, and having the Maul glyph to have it strike two targets at once is a FANTASTIC return on your glyph investment, and DAMN WELL worth the effort of repositioning yourself and moving around to avoid having that extra attack hit a CC’ed target when you don’t want it to.
A few points about some of these talents that may not be obvious. Kind of a round-up.
Natural Reaction is an awesome talent. +6% Dodge. And when you Dodge, you get extra Rage. And Bear tanks have three main goals when preparing to be tanks; high health, high armor, high Dodge. You want to Dodge a lot in the first place, and this gives you a ton of Rage for doing what you’re supposed to be doing anyway, like being given a cookie and a pat on the head for cleaning your den. Cave. I mean room.
Primal Fury gives you bonus Rage every time you crit. And Swipe hits all targets in front of you, and every single one of those targets affected by Swipe is considered a seperate attack, each has a chance to crit, and therefore you can gain multiple crits from one Swipe, each feeding you Rage. And what did we say was a main goal of Druid tanks? Dodging? And what is the most point effective way of gaining that? Did you say Agility? And what else does Agility boost? Why, is that Critical Strike chance? Why, I think it is!
Survival Instincts is another great talent. If you put the button to activate it right next to Frenzied Regeneration, and you have the Glyph of Frenzied Regeneration, what you end up with is a whale of a ‘oh shit’ button. If you are an Herbalist with Lifeblood on top of it, you’ve got a sweet little bit of self-heal action going on there. You pop Survival Instincts and it boosts your already large health even higher… and then you pop Frenzied Regeneration and it gives you a healthy HoT that is healing you based on that real high boosted max health you just got from Survival Instincts. And if you throwdown with Lifeblood on top of it, Lifeblood is boosted from the Glyph of Frenzied Regen while it’s active. Yes, yes, Lifeblood does count as a Healing Effect that gets boosted 20% by the glyph. And your healer, who is trying to keep you alive during whatever caused the ‘oh shit’ moment, is going to love that extra 20% also. If you’re healer is dead, and that’s why you’re panicking… it helps keep you alive. Believe me, I’ve used it to do just that several times, especially on Skirmisher pulls in Azjol-Nerub.
Anyway, so you’re leveling your bear tank. And you know how you’re going to spend your talent points. But you’re also leveling your Rogue or Priest or warlock, and you’d just like to know what you should look for in terms of gear, right?
Well, my advice is to start by crafting everything that is relatively inexpensive or getting what is available on the AH, and have it waiting for you.
A good list of crafted gear to have waiting for you at 78+ is;
Head: Eviscerator Facemask (BoE LW)
Shoulder: Trollwoven Spaulders (BoE LW)
Back: Durable Nerubhide Cape (BoE LW)
Chest: Polar Vest (BoE LW)
Wrist: Eviscerator Bindings (BoE LW)
Hand: Eviscerator Guantlets (BoE LW)
Waist: Trollwoven Girdle (BoE LW)
Feet: Polar Boots (BoE LW)
The mats really don’t cost that much, or can be farmed. Or just buy the pieces outright with some of the ridiculous gold you get from questing.
The Polar Vest is outstanding for a starting chestpiece. The mat cost is really not that high at all, it has a very high base armor value, it has tons of Stamina, and it has handy sockets for gems which I filled personally with a couple of Glinting Monarch Topaz and a single +24 Stamina gem. If you do not want to spend the money on the mats for the Polar Vest, I’m not going to argue with you. You have, as a free alternative, the opportunity to stealth solo into Utgarde Pinnacle and claim the quest reward chest piece, the Exotic Leather Tunic. It’s not quite as good when starting out as the Polar Vest, especially if you are playing with a Healer who is just starting out looking for gear with you. But, it WILL do the job.
For the hardcore, and after all, who doesn’t want to be the second greatest (Ali was the greatest, but you can aspire for number two) there are a few more items that you can have crafted for you, or can buy direct off the auction house.
The mat cost, **if** you can make your own Dragon’s Eyes, aren’t bad at all for the Titanium Earthguard Chain and Ring. Each one takes FOUR Dragon’s Eyes, and on my server at least they are currently selling for 370g each. So if you have to buy these mats, the Eyes themselves will set you back close to 1400g. Sadly, they are good enough that I’m going to go ahead and make them for myself… because I do, in fact, have a JC to make the Dragon’s Eyes. Your mileage, and the depth of your pockets, may vary.
The Darkmoon Card: Greatness is just the best damn bear tanking trinket around. If you can make the cards yourself, go for it. I have been working my butt off to make this, and as of this writing I have the Ace through Seven… I just need that Eight to come up and one deck will be finished. I also have the start of a second deck for Cassie. If you have really, really deep pockets, the individual cards on my server sell for about 1200g – 1500g each. Have fun with your 10,000g+ trinket!
A word about the Inscription game, and buying Herbs to Mill to try and get Icy Pigments to craft Snowfall Ink. According to Warcraft Econ, in patch 3.0.8 there will be a new vendor in Dalaran named Jessica Sellers that will sell you 1 Snowfall Ink in exchange for 10 Ink of the Sea. This will drastically increase the number of Darkmoon Cards you can make from the same number of milled herbs. Warcraft Econ credits El’s Professions with giving him the heads up. Two great sites, go check them out!
Okay, so that covers crafted gear, both easy and hard.
Next, there is one instance you need to run to get a must-have quest reward; Culling of Stratholme. Why? The instance itself is great fun, and for a quest reward you can choose the Handwraps of Preserved History.
Right now, the Handwraps are the best tanking gloves in the game for ferals. Sad, but true.
After the patch, they gonna be nerfed, but they’re still going to be very, very good.
Screenshot of ‘after’ courtesy of MMO Champion.
If you have some solid neck, trinket and ring gear from level 70, you can feel pretty good pre-Patch in continuing to use them in Heroics. The trinkets and rings with high armor on them continue to benefit from the armor multiplier.
So, with the gear I listed above, and some solid level 70 rings, neck and trinkets, you are ready to tank Heroics.
Your very first decision?
What Tabard to equip for reputation.
I have personally chosen Wyrmrest Accord first. At Exalted with Wyrmrest, you get to have a nice Dragon mount to add to your collection (yeah, I know… when do Druids ever use a mount? I know, I know…) and you get to buy the Dragonfriend Bracers. These are pretty nice Bracers, and you can get them just by doing other stuff.
You have as an alternative the Kirin Tor, who at Revered have both Leggings and a Feral Tanking Weapon. The leggings are better than the Chain Gang from the AH, so that is a great choice, but the weapon… well, let’s just say there is a much better choice in Heroics, and wait a bit until we get there, okay? It’s not bad, don’t get me wrong, it’s just not what you COULD have.
The Argent Crusade has the head enchant you’re going to most likely want, the Arcanum of the Stalwart Protector at Revered. Since that’s about it, well… darn.
There is one other rep to get if you choose, and there is no Tabard for it. Inscription lets you make yourself some mighty powerful shoulder enchants, but if you ain’t an Inscriber, you’re going to need to think about doing Sons of Hodir. Lesser Inscription of the Pinnacle at Honored, which is the same as the old Aldor Exalted shoulder enchant, and Greater Inscription of the Pinnacle at Exalted.
I’ll make you a deal… if you don’t grind the rep, and stick to an Exalted inscription from Aldor or Scryer, I won’t tell anyone if you don’t. It’ll be our bear tank secret.
There is, finally, Knights of the Ebon Blade. The rewards from this reputation just aren’t as good as stuff you can either craft, or get from somewhere else easily.
Okay, so you picked a Tabard, you’ve got starter gear for Heroics. You’re going to get Emblems of Heroism as you do the Heroics, so what do you want to plan to buy with them?
There are five tanking items you can purchase from the Emblems of Heroism that drop in Heroics and 10-man Naxxramus. They are what you should save up for, in order of importance;
Chained Military Gorget (25 EoH)
Valor Medal of the First War (40 EoH)
Chestguard of the Lost Vanquisher, which turns into Heroes’ Dreamwalker Raiments (80 EoH)
Gloves of the Lost Vanquisher, which turns into Heroes’ Dreamwalker Handgrips (60 EoH)
Savage Gladiator’s Dragonhide Helm (45 EoH)
If you are buying the Titanium Earthguard Chain, then I recommend placing the Chained Military Gorget either at the end of your Emblem purchasing list, or removing it altogether.
If you are getting the Darkmoon Card: Greatness, then I recommend your putting the Valor Medal at the third position after chest and gloves, because there is a stellar trinket as a Heroic Drop from Heroic Azjol-Nerub taht is, frankly, better (Essence of Gossamer) .
The chestpiece is outstanding. And, after the nerf to the Handwraps of Preserved History in the next patch, and the accompanying boost to armor value from leather gear, the Heroes’ Dreamwalker Handgrips are going to really shine. So adjust the list where your drop choices deem appropriate.
But the helm. The Savage Gladiator’s Dragonhide Helm is better than either of the two Heroic drops pre-Naxx that we would look for, the Shroud of Darkness or the Mask of the Watcher. Although the Mask of the Watcher, to me, is incredible even though it lacks so much Agility, because of the solid Expertise jump. So while you do Heroics, I’d try to get either of the Heroic helm drops… but if you just cannot get the random number generator to favor your getting a helm the straight way, by all means. Take excess Emblems and get yhe Savage Dragonhide.
And of course, if you’d rather PvP, well. Bring on the Hateful.
So… the Heroics. What to run to look for what from the Random Number Generator?
Well, your first order of business should be running Heroic Utgarde Keep. Skarvald can drop the Bindings of the Tunneler, a great bracer until you get the Dragonfriend Bracers from Wyrmrest. But the big reward is, Ingvar can drop the Enraged Feral Staff, the best tanking weapon pre-Naxx. This is a big upgrade over Earthwarden, and should be your very first goal. Enchant it with Mongoose and call it a very, very good day.
After that, it’s time to specifically target Heroics for what you feel like taking on.
Heroic Drak’theron Keep has the Keystone Great-Ring to complement your crafted Titanium Earthstorm Ring.
Heroic Azjul-Nerub has the incredible trinket, the Essence of Gossamer. The Essence of Gossamer and the Valor Medal can be your two tanking trinkets of choice quite happily when strolling into Naxx.
Heroic Oculus has the Mask of the Watcher, a great helm. At this point you have the gear to tank Oculus successfully… but the helm drops from the last boss, and the fight has nothing to do with your gear or class. It’s a battle on dragonback, and it requires cunning, skill, and tight coordination. I’ll be honest. I went in there on Heroic, kicked it’s ass on the run, and when we got to the Dragon… no lie, we wiped about 30 times, with all sorts of different people coming in and out, reclearing trash, and taking a good two to three hours over the course of an evening. And we never did kill the bastard. So don’t expect to just waltz in with an overgeared group from a pug and knock it over. Killing the dragon is a solid accomplishment. We plan on running it several times on normal JUST to practise handling our dragons in combat properly.
Heroic Violet Hold has a slightly lower ranked helm, the Shroud of Darkness, but groups to run fast Violet Hold Heroics seem plentiful, it’s not ranked THAT much less, and in your gear and with a solid healer, Heroic Violet Hold is fun and fast and frantic. I pugged it on Saturday and had a blast. Far and away a better choice of a Helm in terms of accessibility.
Heroic Gundrak has a nice upgrade to the Chain Gang Leggings, the Gored Hide Legguards. Be polite with this drop, though. Unlike most leather drops, where what we want won’t be optimum for a Rogue and vice versa, this really is a great set of Rogue leg armor. PLease don’t declare it to be ‘Druid loot’.
The same goes for any leather, now that I think about it.
So, there you go. Run all of those Heroics, stock up on all those items… and you’re pretty much set to walk into Naxx 10 man as a main tank and be confident that you’re going to be as well geared as you could reasonably expect.
There is a nice epic weapon drop in Heroic Violet Hold… the Staff of Trickery. When the upcoming patch removes armor multipliers from weapons, that will make the Staff of Trickery very, very nice. So if you’re running Heroic Violet Hold, by all means grab that staff and enjoy it. But right now, with weapon armor multipliers still in place… keep the Enraged Feral Staff, please.
If you check out Kalon’s lists for comparisons, you’ll see (of course) that the upcoming PvP gear will all be godlike for tanking bears. If you love PvP, by all means, pursue your PvP gear. It will be very nice.
Any items that just require Honor to purchase… be advised, those Stone Keepers Shards that you get from bosses killed while your faction controls Wintergrasp can be used to buy Honor. 30 Stone Keepers Shards can purchase 2000 Honor by getting a Wintergrasp Commendation.
Also, the Wintergrasp PvP gear that you can buy from Wintergrasp Marks of Honor after the next patch are also very, very nice. That seems to me to be much more interesting to pursue than the Arena gear, much more fun, so take a close look at what’s there. If you have tried Wintergasp and like it… yummy!
A list of all the items in the PTR from MMO Champion, and a quick rundown of those items we can use;
The boots aren’t quite as nice as Polar Boots, so that’s a ‘meh’ situation, but that helm is certainly the best pre-Naxx we’ll see, so I think doing Wintergrasp enough to buy the Helm sounds like a heck of a goal.
After you have your Pre-Naxx gear all lined up… well, a lot of it will get tossed from a drop in Naxx, so don’t cherish it too highly. Blizzard seems to have intentionally removed Expertise and Hit Rating from a lot of available gear, with the intent of keeping us looking for that next drop in a raid. They give us what we need to reach the next level. A lot fewer drops that are ‘best in class’ in super-early content that keep us from upgrading in raids forever.
But with the gear I’ve listed out here, feel content that you’ll be able to tank Heroics well as long as you work together with a good team. You’ll find it easy to hit 27k+ in armor, 34k+ health and 32%+ Dodge, and with that kind of health you’ll be able to tank with an adequate cushion to keep pace with your healer… who, in a perfect world, is leveling and gearing up right beside you.
Once your healers are extremely well geared… it’s time to let the health drop in favor of more avoidance, more Agility and Hit Rating and Expertise. You can let those Polar Pieces go for other, more balanced items.
I hope this helps some of you to plan your gear, assuming you aren’t clearing Naxx 25 and beyond already.
Take care all, and Happy New Year!