From the mailbag – Barkskin and Tanking

Disclaimer – I am horrible… HORRIBLE… at returning emails.

I get hundreds of emails a day. Between the blog and WoW Insider, I’m freaking serious.

BRK never mentions this, so either he is far more organized than I am, or, well… he’s probably just more organised than I am.

I made the mistake of mentioning my email depsair to TJ once. She quickly informed me that she spends hours each night answering every single email, because HER readers matter to her. And she reaffirmed the fact that, yes, I suck.

Note to self: Don’t go crying to TJ for sympathy in future.

But really. I cry inside, but I just can’t answer them all when I’m at work. I do my best to answer the ones that are folks saying Hi, but if there is a question asking for info, it gets read, and then I move on, fully intending to get to it as soon as I can.

And then a month later, with several hundred emails asking for in-depth answers to tanking or druid questions… none of whom I even acknowledged at the time, because “I’ll answer that tonight when I get home”… I give in to despair, crack the seal on a bottle of Captain Morgan and get drunk.

But sometimes… sometimes, I get an email that not only asks a question, but asks one that I can answer super-quickly, and at just the right time at work for me to have the 20 minutes it takes to actually put the answer down in pixel form.

Congratulations Saresa, you managed to hit the window of opportunity, and your email question will actually get answered instead of sitting forgotten for two months.

And if you have emailed me with a serious question, and never heard from me again… I’m sorry. I really am. I read it, I swear I did.

I suck. I know this.

I really do intend to answer your questions when I get home, but… my email’s the black hole, it swallows not only your questions but also my will to live.

Now, on to the question from Saresa! 

Saresa of Destructive Reach wrote;

I was talking to a druid friend of mine the other day, and he mentioned Barkskin when we were AoEing.  Now, me being the noob druid I am, didn’t even realise that feral druids had that spell. 

Anyway, my friend said that it is useful for tanking, but I am not so sure, seeing as it lasts a whole 12 seconds.  I was just wondering what your thoughts were on the issue.


Thank you very much for your question, Saresa!

Your friend is right, but possibly not in the way you might be thinking.

What Barkskin primarily does for feral tanks, is allows us to cast a channeled spell against a group of enemies without the possibility of interruption.

Feral druids do not have any threat mitigation abilities, and that applies to our spells, as well. So our spell damage does a little more threat than other spell casters.

To provide you the most common example of Barkskin tanking, I’ll talk about the trash pulls prior to Moroes in Karazhan.

There are mobs of non-elite opponents just prior to Moroes, that are too great in number for a bear tank to swipe or tab-target easily, and that are a mix of physical and ranged casters.

As a druid main tank for these pulls, you can have the rest of your team stand down a bit on the stairs, and then you pop your caster-form head up onto the landing.

Target one of the non-elite crowd, fire off a ranged spell of choice, and then duck back down the stairs out of line of sight, forcing the entire group, ranged casters and physical alike, to come to you as a tight group.

When you back down the stairs, pop your Barkskin, and activate your channeled spell Hurricane to bring up the targeting reticle.

Barksin lasts 12 seconds, Hurricane lasts 10. This gives you 2 seconds after firing off Barkskin to activate Hurricane and center your targeting reticle properly, and still get your full 10 seconds worth of damage ticks on the mobs.

Be warned, sometimes I have found the reticle graphics to bug, leaving you no positive idea where your AOE target is for Hurricane. Just an FYI, keep an eye on where your mouseover icon is when you prepare to activate your spell.

As the group of enemies crests the rise and comes down the stairs to you, you fire off Hurricane, doing a ton of AOE damage to every mob at once, and with Barkskin up they can pound you for 12 seconds without interrupting the spell.

As long as your healers are prepared for you to be in squishy form, and the party casters let you have a second or two for Hurricane to tick some Threat, you should have no problems holding aggro for the life of your Barkskin.

If you practise how you back away and at the last second jink back in towards them a bit as they crest the landing, the ranged casters usually abandon casting for melee, tightening the group up some more, something I do most often when pulling the tables right in front of Moroes…

If you have multiple Druids that are also Barkskin/Hurricaning, and of course the masters of AOE, Mages, it makes potentially hectic free-for-alls of mobs running all over the place chasing healers and spike damage into a tightly orchestrated massacre, leaving a small pile of corpses at your feet.


Saresa, I hope this answers your question, and that you enjoy having this additional technique to pull mobs of enemies.

With multiple healers in a 5 man, this can be nuts, but lots of fun, if your group is in a playful mood.

Say you have an atypical group makeup for a 5 man, with two healers and two druids or a druid and a mage, and a DPS. You can have a lot of fun on your pulls as the tank by Moonfiring a mob, ducking around a corner to force a line-of-sight pull to your face, Barkskin/Hurricane the group while the two healers focus on you, let the other druid start his Barkskin/Hurricane two seconds after yours so his Threat trails yours, and then once your Barkskin runs out shift to cat and claw the faces of the poor dazed bastards that survived.

Hey, remember, we be droods. Improvise, adapt and overcome. And above all else, have fun!


21 thoughts on “From the mailbag – Barkskin and Tanking

  1. Keep in mind barkskin is great for a boss pull. 12 second may not seem like much but it can provide 20% mitigation on the first few hits.

    Usually on boss pulls I will cast regrowth, rejuv, moonfire the boss, barkskin and bear form. This gives you 20% more dmg reduction for the first few hits plus healing to boost your threat lead and help you not lose aggro to spike healing at the start of a fight.

    As BBB mentioned its great for Hurricane or tranquility and getting off that rebirth when under fire.


  2. The barkskin/hurricane trick is useful in Blood Furnace for the groups of imps/warlock that can be pulled around a corner.

    As well, AOE birdies in Sethekk and AOE skellies in Shadow Labyrinth.

    I use it as well when we have big pulls that I need to hold a lot of aggro on, but are elites as well. The big pulls in Shattered Halls (provided I can target around a sap if there is one) and the pits in Shattered Halls. I do it at distance for these, and though the mobs don’t stay in hurricane very long as they run towards me, it’s enough to keep them on me long enough for me to sink some solid aggro on them.

    Basically, I probably use it anytime we’re short on CC and we have more than 3 mobs.

    And… hey.
    “of course the masters of AOE, Mages”

    Warlocks have Seed of Corruption, which has a far cooler effect than any mage spell and does as much damage, if not more! (gear dependent, naturally) Especially if you get off four of them before the first one ticks down. It’s beautiful! And guaranteed to get you a dead warlock if the healers aren’t ready. 🙂


  3. Huricane by itself is also a great way to pull a large-ish group. Even if you only get 1 or 2 ticks off, it amounts to a nice amount of threat.


  4. Kikidas, I offer up to you my most humble apologies.

    See, I never get to ever play with Warlocks. Ever.

    My friend Kemangi plays one, but I almost never get to play at teh same times she does, and when we do, I’m tanking, not watching what she’s doing.

    I know warlocks do good AOE from Seed of Corruption from the Illhoof fight, but again, I’m not watching what the warlock does, because I’m tanking.

    Of all the classes, the one whose actual mechanics I am most ignorant of is the Warlock. Please excuse my ignorance.

    I keep making Warlock alts to try and play one up to elarn first hand, but they rarely get past 12 before I say “ooh shiny” and move on to something else.

    I had no idea that Seed of Corruption could be better AOE than Mages produce.


  5. Actually, to be more accurate, TJ spends 1-2 hours a night on email and many hours feeling like a giant asshole for the ones that DON’T get answered. But still, not coming to me for sympathy is generally a good rule to live by.


  6. Barkskin + Tranquility is great for Vexallus, the second boss in Magisters’ Terrace. His damage is purely arcane so your loss of armor is meaningless, the only thing you’re missing out on is some hit points. I’ve also barkskinned to throw out an Innervate or Rebirth if the boss doesn’t hit hard, such as Illhoof and Moroes. This probably isn’t viable in higher level content as a main tank, but it’s something to keep in mind.


  7. “masters of AOE, Mages”
    “I had no idea that Seed of Corruption could be better AOE than Mages produce.”

    Hehe. To give you an idea of SoC, our mage in the early Kara AoE pulls does about 2500 dps. When SoC starts going off, I do ~4000 dps. Thanks to SoC, warlocks are considered far and above the masters of AoE now. We’re also the first ones to die in those AoE pulls since we do no dps for a couple of seconds while seeds “ferment”. The mages do dps first and get initial aggro – thus getting the healers’ attention. Then….BOOM…SoC starts popping and all mobs run to the lock and catch healers off-guard. =P



  8. Mages are considered the best AOE just because they have the most options and can do it in 3 different damage types. While seed may do more damage if there are mobs that dispel this effect then it deals no damage also if the target is nuked before it goes off ( I could be wrong on that) it deals no damage.

    There is no disputing that locks have probably the highest aoe dps available though.


  9. Barkskin at the beginning of an AoE Hurricane trash pull, yes.

    Barkskin at the beginning of a single-target boss pull or when you need to tank 1-3 elites, no. Unless you’re really undergeared, you need that 20% damage for initial threat generation- those first 10 seconds are crucial for aggro control and being rage starved for those first 10 seconds could easily get your healer or CC killed.

    Barkskin during every single Shatter in the Gruul fight? YES YES ABSOLUTELY MUST DO EVERY SINGLE TIME. Not optional for ANY Druids, regardless of your role in the fight.


  10. Karellen… damn good points.

    But be fair… I’m not advocating about doing this against heavy hitting small groups of elites that will require serious heals to keep your squishie butt alive, making your healers glow like stars on global threat lists.

    I suppose I should have used a disclaimer… you got me there, pardner. 🙂


  11. Lifebloom, Lifebloom, Lifebloom, Barkskin, Hurricane?

    And it might be pretty handy in PvP, but I always forget about it…


  12. I’m talking bosses like tidewalker and the sorts that hit for around 5-8k that damage reduction will certainly not starve you of rage. Also if its that big of a deal you can use enrage. The increase from barkskin will be alot greater then the decrease in armor.


  13. I should mention that I’m talking about raid bosses and not heroics or reg instance bosses. For heroics and the sort I generally use enrage just so I take more damage for rage.


  14. Since Blizzard reduced the duration of Barkskin, I made this macro to help me out on those hurricane pulls:

    #showtooltip Hurricane
    /castsequence reset=30 [mod] Hurricane;Barkskin, Hurricane

    What this does is let you hold a modifier to position your targeting circle, then hit the keybind twice and click. 12 seconds minus the 1.5 second global cooldown and the 10 second Hurricane channel time = .5 seconds to position… not good enough.


  15. Thankyou for getting back to me so quickly BBB! Your post and everyones replies have helped me learn a great deal about barkskin, and given me some great ideas to test out 😉


  16. Hey BBB, sorry if my tone came through askew, I wasn’t meaning to pull a “gotcha” or anything…just expressing my thoughts on this one! The now defunct (and your friend-cum-nemesis) Karthis wrote an article on this subject a few months ago if anybody cares to dig it up.

    Artorin- Yeah my experience in raiding never extended that far, so if your experience is that using Barkskin before a pull like that is a good move, I’ll certainly take it on your word. In fact, I could see that being a useful tactic for Halazzi in ZA- if you get a Misdirect and the guy his hitting you like a truck even if you’re taking 20% less damage, that’s a win.


  17. Hehe, apologies accepted, Captain Needa.

    As someone else mentioned, Warlock AoE is a little dependent on how long the mob lives. If it’s killed before SoC goes off, then we do little DPS. But especially in the pulls before Moroes, those guys live long enough that it’ll set it off. Or the Illhoof fight. Nummy DPS.

    The nice thing about SoC is that you set it on one mob, cast it on a second and so on and get no aggro initially. If other AoE is going off at that time, that AoE will set off the first SoC without a doubt, which that explosion will set off the second SoC if it wasn’t already going off. You get this beautiful chain effect. Getting as many SoC’s off before the first explodes is a must if you want those truly spectacular numbers. 🙂

    (I wuv my warlock)

    In terms of Barkskin, my group healer (usually my husband) always says ‘Why aren’t you in bear form! What are you doing?’. But he doesn’t have a druid and doesn’t listen to me when I try to explain. Healers. Oy.


  18. Correct me if i’m wrong, but doesn’t SoC go off when it either runs out, is dispelled or the mob dies? so you get the damage anyways?

    And I thought you’d lose barkskin when you change your form to bear. So you don’t have any benefit of it at all when tanking in bear form.


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