Modern Bear Tanking 1: Specs and Rotations

Welcome to the first in a series of modern tips and suggestions on Bear tanking.

Talent Specs

There are two basic styles of bear tanking spec, depending on the content you intend to be facing.

The two scenarios? Full on raid tanking, or instance and old school tanking.

The difference between the two specs?

In full on raid tanking, you are worried less about Rage generation and are more concerned with maximizing survivability and threat output.

In instance and old school tanking, with decent gear, Naxx tanking gear or better, you can focus less on your survivability, and lean more towards 100% Rage uptime for fast pulls and all-out Threat generation from the start on a rock star facepull run.

Full on raid tanking spec:

My recommended spec for full on raid tanking is: (0/60/11)

Feral Combat (60 points)

Ferocity – Rank 5/5
Feral Aggression – Rank 5/5
Feral Instinct – Rank 3/3
Savage Fury – Rank 2/2
Thick Hide – Rank 3/3
Feral Swiftness – Rank 2/2
Survival Instincts – Rank 1/1
Sharpened Claws – Rank 3/3
Predatory Strikes – Rank 3/3
Primal Fury – Rank 2/2
Primal Precision – Rank 2/2
Feral Charge – Rank 1/1
Natural Reaction – Rank 3/3
Heart of the Wild – Rank 5/5
Survival of the Fittest – Rank 3/3
Leader of the Pack – Rank 1/1
Improved Leader of the Pack – Rank 2/2
Protector of the Pack – Rank 3/3
Infected Wounds – Rank 3/3
Mangle – Rank 1/1
Rend and Tear – Rank 5/5
Primal Gore – Rank 1/1
Berserk – Rank 1/1

Restoration (11 points)

Improved Mark of the Wild – Rank 2/2
Furor – Rank 3/5
Naturalist – Rank 5/5
Omen of Clarity – Rank 1/1

This build is designed, as I said, to maximize survivability and threat generation in a serious raid environment. You will be getting hit hard from bosses and reasably hard from trash, you will have Misdirection and Tricks of the Trade available in most cases, and before a serious boss fight you will have time to set up and get ready. It is most important to you to mitigate every possible drop of damage that you can.

This build relies on using Demoralizing Roar, and keeping it active on mobs all the time. Maul provides Infected Wounds, as does Mangle, so keeping both of those active, most especially Maul, is the second key, but keeping Maul active is important for all Bear tank builds, no stunning revelations there. Finally, working at keeping five stacks of Lacerate on the kill target is more important with this build than using Mangle as soon as it is active, so long as you have someone else in the raid, such as Kitty DPS, keeping Mangle hot and loaded for the Bleed debuff.

This build does not provide a +10% bonus to damage while Enraged, for the simple reason that if you are really, truly trying to maximize your survivability, you do not want to activate Enrage during a serious boss pull. When Enrage is active, it is similar to a storytime berserker rage… you gain more power, but you take more hits in your carelessness. In game terms, you generate Rage over time, but your armor value drops. As a real world example, if you have 28107 armor in Bear form, and you pop Enrage, it will drop by 16% to 23609.88 (effectively 23610 armor). This is not an important amount in instance or old school raiding, but if you are struggling for every drop of survivability in a serious boss encounter, you should have no trouble with Rage generation and should not use Enrage.

With this kind of focus, your gear choices will be designed for maximum survivability… so you will be prioritizing Expertise right under your Agility/Dodge and Stamina until you have eliminated Parry from the enemy arsenal. One of the key things to worry about for spike damage as a raiding Bear tank are Parries, so please keep that in mind while looking at gear choices.

Instance and old school tanking spec:

Why a different spec?

For instance and small group or old school tanking, the focus changes from becoming a pure damage sponge, and shifts more towards a fast paced pull-and-demolish role. You will want to be as durable as possible, it’s true, but you’ll also want to be fast and smooth in picking up chains of mobs and unloading a whole pile of whoop-ass on ’em. In a raid, it’s fine to have fewer points in Furor because there is no problem in shifting a few times until the Rage pops in. Likewise, Rage generation becomes less of an issue in raids because the bosses and trash mobs all hit much harder.

But if you like doing fast heroics or old school raids where you are taking very little damage at all, having more methods to generate Rage  and maintain it makes the tanks’ job much easier to keep the pulls going fast.

My recommended spec for instances and old school raids is: (0/57/14)

Feral Combat (57 points)

Ferocity – Rank 5/5
Feral Instinct – Rank 3/3
Savage Fury – Rank 2/2
Thick Hide – Rank 3/3
Feral Swiftness – Rank 2/2
Survival Instincts – Rank 1/1
Sharpened Claws – Rank 3/3
Predatory Strikes – Rank 3/3
Primal Fury – Rank 2/2
Primal Precision – Rank 2/2
Feral Charge – Rank 1/1
Natural Reaction – Rank 3/3
Heart of the Wild – Rank 5/5
Survival of the Fittest – Rank 3/3
Leader of the Pack – Rank 1/1
Improved Leader of the Pack – Rank 2/2
Protector of the Pack – Rank 3/3
King of the Jungle – Rank 2/3
Mangle – Rank 1/1
Improved Mangle – Rank 3/3
Rend and Tear – Rank 5/5
Primal Gore – Rank 1/1
Berserk – Rank 1/1

Restoration (14 points)

Furor – Rank 5/5
Naturalist – Rank 5/5
Intensity – Rank 3/3
Omen of Clarity – Rank 1/1

This build removes the extra 2% stats from Improved Mark of the Wild, removes the extra attack power reduction of Ferocity, and removes Infected Wounds in favor of guaranteed 10 Rage per shift, instant 10 Rage on Enrage activation, +10% Damage while Enraged, and a reduced Mangle cooldown. This build is designed with the understanding that you will be using Enrage whenever you feel like it, even on boss pulls, so go for the gusto with the extra damage. Gusto, I say!

In effect, you’re accepting slightly increased squishiness for all Rage, all the time.

When Patch 3.2 goes live, Rage Potions will be useable by Druids. The decision on whether youw ill want to use your potion use in a fight on Rage or on health is up to you, but remember that pots drunk BEFORE in combat don’t count. The instance and old school build will likely see some changes then, since simply drinking a potion before a pull will give you that instant Rage, so putting points into Intensity will then be mostly superfluous. At least, they will if you have an alt Alchemist that can dump hundreds of Rage Potions on you. Until then, this is pretty viable, and I’ve used it to tank heroics, Mount Hyjal and karazhan old school runs, and main tank Naxx 10 mans with no issues. I like the flexibility. 🙂

A brief note… for tanks new to the Rage mechanic, your abilities cost Rage to use in Bear form, and when you run out of Rage, you are stuck dead until you can generate more, ususally through the damage your auto-attack does or from taking damage by being beat on. The more damage you deal, the more Rage you generate. The more damage you endure, that gets through your avoidance (Dodge, etc) the more Rage you generate. With Bear tanking specs, you also gain 10 Rage through initially shifting into Bear form (100% if specced 5/5 in Furor), you get 10 Rage instantly when popping Enrage if so specced with Intensity, and you gain Rage every time you Crit an opponent, which can happen multiple times with Swipe on groups of mobs. Your Maul, your best Threat generating attack, is NOT on the global cooldown, can be activated whenever you have the Rage to do so… but it replaces a normal auto-attack and does NOT generate Rage. So if you are very low on Rage attacking a single mob, you may find Maul eats your remaining Rage away to nothing. Also, while you are not in combat, your existing Rage drains away. If you are in combat with anything, your Rage stops ‘decaying’. A favorite Bear tank technique is simply to Feral Faerie Fire distant mobs to chain attack, keeping your Rage from ever decaying.

Glyphs

Now before we go further, keep in mind the Glyphs that are most useful for Bear tanking;

Major:
Glyph of Frenzied Regeneration
Glyph of Maul
Glyph of Survival Instincts or Glyph of Mangle (situational).

For Majors, Frenzied Regen and Maul are the best two. With Glyphed Frenzied Regen, not only are you healing yourself, but the affects of healing on you are increased, a very good thing if straits are dire enough to pop Frenized Regen in the first place.

Glyph of Maul is darn near a no brainer. For Bear tanks, the majority of threat generated comes from Maul. It’s critical in your rotation, and having Maul affect two targets for the Rage price of one is precious.

For the last two, it comes down to your group composition. If you feel that you will be the only one providing the Mangle debuff on targets, and especially if you are speccing/gearing for instance and old school raid play, then the Glyph of Mangle is a good choice. Your Rogues will certainly love you. If, however, you can be assured of some Kitty DPS action providing Mangle, then you can safely go with Glyph of Survival Instincts and enjoy the increased health cap when used.

While I would love the Survival one myself, in my guild we have many Rogues. We have few active kitty DPS players. Thus, I go for the Mangle Glyph. Your choice should likewise depend on how you play and who you play with.

Minor:
Glyph of Challenging Roar
Glyph of Unburdened Rebirth
Glyph of Thorns

Even though Thorns is boosted by spellpower, and thus a Moonkin or Tree in your party will give you a more powerful buff, it’s very nice to have 30 minutes on your self cast Thorns. And really, there aren’t very many good options for Bear tank Minor Glyphs, are there?

Rotation advice:

First thing off the bat, you’ll want to have Barkskin up at all possible times. I personally bind it to a frequently used Bear attack in a macro…

#showtooltip Swipe (Bear)(Rank 8)
/script UIErrorsFrame:Hide();
/cast Barkskin
/script UIErrorsFrame:Clear();
/script UIErrorsFrame:Show();
/cast Swipe (Bear)(Rank 8)

I know that there is a way to phrase it so that sound effects are also blocked, but I don’t use any game sound when playing, it interferes with passing instruction and chatting in vent. However, I as always welcome folks to post ther own versions in the comments.

The second thing to do is be aware of the holy trinity of life for Bear tanks…  the power of having Glyph of Frenzied Regeneration, and when in a dire situation, health dropping, Healer preoccupied, dead or stunned, popping in rapid sequence Survival Instincts, Frenzied Regeneration, and, if you have Herbalism, Lifeblood. Keep that sequence of keypresses near and dear to your heart.

Finally, when actively tanking;

  • Pull with a Feral Faerie Fire or other Threat generation attack.
  • When the group is in range, open with a Mangle to apply the Bleed debuff.
  • Use Demoralyzing Roar to reduce the attack power of all mobs once they are in range, and watch the timer on it to keep it refreshed.
  • Use Mangle whenever it’s not in cooldown
  • Keep Maul up, it’s not on the global cooldown so you can keep refreshing it whenever you have Rage
  • Begin using Lacerate every time it’s off cooldown until you build 5 stacks, and then keep 5 stacks on the enemy at all times. Use Lacerate every cooldown, since without being at the hit cap, you can miss one.
  • Use Swipe to maintain solid threat on group mobs unaffected by Maul.
  • Use Feral Faerie Fire every time it’s off cooldown because it generates significant Threat and costs no Rage or Mana.
  • Watch enemy casts, and be prepared to use Bash when appropriate to interrupt enemy Heals.

Once Demoralyzing Roar, 5 stacks of Lacerate and Feral Faerie Fire are on your target, you should be priorityzing your attacks by using, when off cooldown;

  1. Maul (Not on Global Cooldown, refresh every time it goes off)
  2. Mangle
  3. Lacerate
  4. Feral Faerie Fire
  5. Swipe

Okay, that’s it for part one. I think I’ve covered the basics fairly solidly. I look forward to seeing you again with part two.

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65 thoughts on “Modern Bear Tanking 1: Specs and Rotations

  1. Great guide 🙂 It’s great to see a ground-up approach like this to explaining Bear tanking and I’m glad you did it 😀

    A couple points of contention, though … (Cassie warned you, right? :P)

    As a Cat Druid, I can’t say this enough: having to use Mangle is bad for us. Mangle(Cat) has very poor damage-per-energy compared to Shred. I’ll use it when required, of course, as the debuff is crucial for the majority of our damage-dealing abilities. However, I know I can expect a DPS increase of 100 or more when I don’t have to worry about it. Also, Mangle is another layer of complexity in one of the most convoluted DPS rotations in the game – I love going through encounters without having to push that button 🙂

    My argument is this: the Bear is using Mangle every 4.5 to 6 seconds as part of a normal tanking rotation. So, I have a hard time envisioning a normal scenario in which the responsibility falls to the Cat to maintain the debuff. I can understand it in cases of the Bear running to pick up another mob, the Bear being disabled by a fight mechanic, etc., but those are edge cases. If it comes down to a choice – “Is Mangle the Cat’s job or the Bear’s?” – I would like to think the responsibility falls to the Bear 😛

    Along the same lines, I would appreciate some clarification of your reasoning regarding the Glyph of Mangle’s utility for a Bear. The baseline duration of the Mangle debuff is 12 seconds and the tanking rotation will refresh it every 4.5 to 6 seconds. It seems unlikely for the debuff to fall off unless two consecutive attempts to apply it fail – unlikely at best, I would think.

    All that said, my Bear tanking skills are rusty (not since Zul’Aman at level 70!), so I default to your expertise on the issue 🙂 You are the Big Bear Butt, after all 😀 and if I’m wrong, I’m happy for you to tell me about how and why.

    If you could clarify the utility of the Mangle Glyph, though, I would greatly appreciate it. I may not be an active tank anymore, but I never know when I’ll be called back to Bear duty 😛

    And if you could maybe throw out a little plug for just how helpful it is for bare durid to help cat durid by using mangelspam … I’m sure there’ll be many happeh kittehs out there 😀

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  2. Couple thoughts. When doing serious raid tanking, the glyph of maul isn’t particularly usefull – you’re tanking one mob, and potentially with CC’d mobs nearby. I’d recommend survival instincts instead for the serious raid tank.

    Maybe also I’d suggest the instance build be a preferable offtank build even in a progression raid, because it allows for significantly enhanced catdps once your mob is down, and maximized mitigation is less important in that case as well.

    Great post!

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  3. A couple of things. Personally, in my raid build, I go with Natural and Master Shapeshifter over Feral Aggression. Yes, it takes more damage, but when you have geared DPS that are able to really push the limits, the 10% more damage makes a huge difference in long term sustained threat.

    Lastly… Glyph of Mangle. I would NEVER use this in a bear build… You have to keep in mind that as a bear, you will be (or should be) hitting mangle every six seconds. The debuff lasts for 12 seconds, with the glyph extending it to 18 seconds. Most of the benefit will be wasted. The glyph is designed and intended for Cat’s who are running without another form of Mangle.

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  4. Long time lurker,first time poster. Hello from Europe! Just a quick question:

    Any advice on threat stats? I think i have the rotation nailed down,but is expertise and hit really all that important as my DeathKnight friend is trying to push into my skull? Currently sitting on 4.5% expertise and about 6% hit…but can’t seem to break the 4000 Threat per Second barrier…which over half our dps have no trouble at all going over by one or two thousand TpS (Figures from Omen). Not to say that they overaggro,but they whine for me to push out more threat 🙂

    Of couse you’ll probably answer all that and more in your next post(s) won’t you. /sigh

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  5. Mmmm. I’ll guess that I’m number 5. So, “LOL. No one runs Naxx anymore. Nub.” 😛

    Great post for beginners. I always appreciate how you cut past the crap and explain things with just enough detail. 🙂

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  6. Thanks for the post, BBB – I’ve been mothballing my drood until all the changes settled down, but now I have a nice comfy target to aim for… I really appreciate you taking all the time to so carefully document all of this.

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  7. Very nicely laid out post, a good start for any aspiring feral druid.

    My raiding spec is pretty much exactly like yours, tho i drop Feral Aggression in favour of improved mangle and 2 misc points. I prefer the lowered cooldown for threat and dmg output.

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  8. Neil, I’ll hit up your questions fast before I get back to the 4th celebration stuff.

    1) My recommendation for the Glyph of Mangle, and by all means experienced raiding Bears discard for what you’re comfortable with, is the frequency of switching mobs and applying the Bleed debuff across the waves when doing heroic instances and old school raids.

    It is specifically so that during the first pull on a large mob, you can pop Mangle on each mob in rotation and know that you can get back to main kill target and not worry about who the Rogue is annhilating from time to time.

    If you simplify group threat by focusing on one kill target and trusting in Swipe to pick up the rest, and expect the Rogue/Kittys to simply stick to assigned targets, then by all means, go with Survival Instincts Glyph. The Mangle Glyph does not provide any benefits to single target tanking. That is why I placed them side by side… Survival more for raiding, Mangle more for one tank situations for instances and old school raids.

    If you are informed as to why you’re choosing WHAT you’re choosing… heck, my work here is done, even if you totally disagree with me. At least you KNOW why you think I’m wrong. 🙂

    2) By all means, if you are Rogue or Kitty (really, the two classes that love the Mangle Bleed debuff), if you make sure the Bear will be reliably using it, go nuts and have fun. Manglebot Bears in raids are pretty standard. BUT, not all Kitties use the same Elitist Jerks standards. If a kitty is throwing down Mangle, hey, use the opportunity for something else.

    And for others… perhaps I should put a disclaimer… I wouldn’t have thought after two years of my blogging style it was necessary, but what the heck; your own personal experience and comfort zone are the most important part of your character. If you have a variation of a Bear spec that I didn’t recommend… it is not wrong. It’s just not one of my two Bear extremes. I did NOT post a blended offtank/cat build, because this is only part 1, concerning bear tanks. Kitty and kitty/bears come later. The point about using the instance build for kitty and bear is a good one, but it would be tweaked up a bit more to be friendlier to kitty DPS.

    I love the comments about variations on specs, because so far you are saying what you different, and explaining why. That does just what I like; helps to inform the readers of options, and why they might choose them.

    Have fun!

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  9. BBB

    Pretty good stuff.. I have a few variations to it but overall pretty much the same. I would also suggest look at the Glyph of Growling for a bear tank glyph. In the higher end raids it is vital to make sure that when you growl you hit with it. I am 5/5 Conqueror and run with about 225 hit rating so I rarely miss but I have in the past. Try explaining to a raid leader why a taunt missed when doing 3 drakes or when Thorim in Ulduar casts Unbalancing Strike and you can see why I like to make sure that my growl never misses. Anyway just something to keep in mind.

    Keep up the great blog 🙂

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  10. Can anyone explain to me why i see lots of tank specs with IMP MOTW? aside from the attribute bonus, i have never taken it, then again, i normally roll with atleast 2 tree’s and or 1-2 boomkins so i never have to cast gift in a raid, unless its 10man.

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  11. @Navir – I only raid once every couple of weeks so for me IMotW is a big benefit to my interim 5-mans. My build is very similar to BBB’s old school spec but I only use 3/5 Furor to make room for my 2/2 IMotW. When I’m rage starved before a pull I simply keep shifting from human to bear until the 60% for 10 rage procs.

    @BBB – After reading about backwards tanking in H CoS I decided to try it for myself . . . works like a charm 🙂 Thanks for the idea.

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  12. Thanks for the guide,
    Excellent stuff.
    I’ve tanked before but never as a Druid and I’m just getting the hang of it lately. Druid is far and away my favorite class; but also the class I’ve played the least. So all this stuff is great! Thanks a ton!

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  13. I’d agree with taking the Glyph of Growling over the Mangle. Reason? It hit caps your taunts without any other gear, which in turn means you can gear expertise over hit straight out of the gate. Mangle is, to me, a DPS glyph.

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  14. BBB,

    I love the idea about adding Barkskin to your macros. I think I’m gonna give that a try. My bread and butter macros are:

    Swipe:
    #showtooltip Swipe (Bear)(Rank 8)
    /cast Swipe (Bear)(Rank 8)
    /cast !Maul(Rank 10)

    Mangle:
    #showtooltip Mangle (Bear)(Rank 5)
    /cast Mangle (Bear)(Rank 5)
    /cast !Maul(Rank 10)

    Lacerate:
    #showtooltip Lacerate
    /cast Lacerate(Rank 3)
    /cast !Maul(Rank 10)

    With these macros, I’m using Maul every single time it is off cooldown. Great threat with little thought, plus it saves me a slot on my toolbar.

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  15. Can anyone explain to me why i see lots of tank specs with IMP MOTW? aside from the attribute bonus.

    You answered your own question. For a bear, you’re hard pressed to find a better place to put those talent points. Two points in Imp MotW for the 2% stat boost flat out has no downsides. Think about it for a second, and ask yourself this: “Do you want more stamina?” Yes! “Do you want more agility for crit and dodge?” Yes! “Do you want more strength for threat and shield value?” Yes!

    Pretty easy to see imo. Plus it spreads the ability to put up MotW. Not really an issue if you have the other druids, but like someone said, 5 man content!

    Though 3B, I’d ask: Why no discussion on either Natural Shapeshifter (for threat) and how your raid composition might effect your talent speccing?

    For example, in the last months I’ve been on pretty consistent raids between my three toons and finding a raid without a Death Knight has been a profound surprise, to the point that I don’t spec in to it even for my hard mode bear spec. There’s just not much reason to do so with so many DKs flying around.

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  16. Oh Thank you for writing this up. I have been feral for most of my toons playing time, but I have not been in a group to tank. This really answers all my question on where to start. I am the most comfortable with feral of course Moonkin is REALLY nice also. I was never sure how to keep the aggrro and all that. Thank you very much you blog is really a blessing 🙂

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  17. Thanks for the quick response, B^3 😀

    I hadn’t considered the scenario of debuffing many mobs for the benefit of Rogues and Cats picking their own targets. Granted I’d come down like a ton of bricks on DPS in my raids who were neither AOE’ing nor focusing on the tank’s target 😛 but in that scenario I can see how the longer debuff would be useful.

    I guess I lost perspective on the fact that not everyone plays in an “Elitist Jerks”-optimized way. Sometimes sub-optimal things can be a lot more fun.

    @Navir: As a few others have already pointed out, Imp. MotW was given its attribute bonus to make it appealing for reasons other than raid utility. An extra 2% to all stats is very handy for Druids of all forms 🙂

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  18. As a new baby bear, I really appreciate your writing this, and I’m looking forward to the next installment! The discussion of options in the comments is very useful as well.

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  19. Thank you for the great post BBB! The responses and discussions above are also great.

    I’m about to ding 80 on my Druid while I’ll likely be Kitty / Tree, I expect opportunities to tank will abound.

    This is great… I am looking forward to your bear part 2 and Kitty posts. Thanks. 🙂

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  20. first, a wish. i wish bliz would make Furor give a 100% chance to generate 2/4/6/8/10 rage instead of 20/40/60/80/100% chance to generate 10 rage, or that they at least test it on the PTR to see if it would be an improvement.

    second, a question. i come from a warrior background, where yes, shield block is macro’d to my shield slam for maximum damage/uptime, but i tend to save my shield wall for oh-**** moments. i know barkskin has a lower effect than SW, and a shorter cooldown. is there a specific reason why on CD is best for it, or is it just a matter of preference?

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  21. @ Morphy @Navir – I only raid once every couple of weeks so for me IMotW is a big benefit to my interim 5-mans. My build is very similar to BBB’s old school spec but I only use 3/5 Furor to make room for my 2/2 IMotW. When I’m rage starved before a pull I simply keep shifting from human to bear until the 60% for 10 rage procs.

    I actually normally do not have any IMP MOTW but i go 5/5 Furor and i have a power shift macro for use when i need rage which is rare in raids, or getting out of snare’s, i’m still just not that content with thinking that 2% to all my stats is really going to be that benefical. i might have to respec and try it if i ever get back into raiding when i get back to the game more.

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  22. I’ve tanked in kitty and bear specs, if you tank in kitty spec I would highly recommend 2 things, firstly don’t do it at all until you have full emblem/raid gear (that is tanking specialized), secondly do not try this on any serious heavy hitters. Should be able to 5 man tank, as long as you don’t go into it expecting it to be as easy for us as it was in TBC. These days, a full dps spec sacrifices quite a lot on survivability.

    Which all amounts to saying, take caution and don’t expect to be doing any tanking for a long time. You’re going to be collecting gear for 3 different sets and probably have to pass on tanking gear to your tanks. This is especially difficult in 5 mans where there are only a few good items worth farming and many tanks will need them. I saw 2 keystone greatrings drop and passed to my tank for them, and the 3rd was graciously passed on by a guildy who was playing his alt and knew he wouldn’t probably use it as much.

    These aren’t the specs I’d recommend to tank with, but where I differ probably is only minor. I would never recommend skipping the iMotW, and if you really need furor, I’d take points out somewhere else.

    Glyph of Mangle.. In a raid AoE I can’t imagine getting mangle on that many targets. Glyph of Berserk is probably the best for overall threat. Glyph of Growl, as mentioned, is great for raiding if you aren’t hit capped.

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  23. Nice Macros, Steevee, thank you for sharing those!

    Okay, I can see there seems to be some confusion as to the Mangle Glyph and using it. Maybe I’m wrong, but most of the confusion seems to be coming from folks that are raiders that haven’t used it in the past. That’s cool. I figure I’ll give you a scenario showing how I use it, and then maybe people will stop with the close-minded “It’s useless I can’t possibly see why anyone would take it” stuff. And remember, just because you do things your way doesn’t make it the best or only way, or indeed the only way the game can be played.

    Scenario; You’ve got a 10 person raid group. The group consists of, VERY regularly, one Druid tank, one Paladin tank, three Rogues, a Hunter, a Mage or Ret Paladin, a Tree healer, a Paladin healer, and a Priest healer. You are regularly fighting multiple large mobs, close enough that AoE will overlap on both. The Bear tanks’s main threat target is not always, or even often the main kill target, and the Paladin tank’s target is close enough for melee attacks.

    With three Rogues in a group, no cat DPS, and only one Bear tank, Mangle Glyph simply let’s you pull your target or group, get one tag on the other guy’s main kill target to get the Bleed going, and settle down to pay attention to your own business.

    End of scenario.

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  24. Thank you for this post, I’ll be keeping my eyes on this series and adding it to my favourites. Seriously. The only tanking class I don’t have is a bear – I need to get right on this lemme tell ya.

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  25. I thought they’d taken out spell damage boosting thorns because all the pvp rogues were crying that we had a defense?

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  26. I had never thought to use King of the Jungle in my talent spec for 80. I am currently using it more because I spend a lot of time in Cat form leveling and I love being able to generate a burst of energy for a finisher.

    I really appreciate this article because although I’ve read up on bear tanking, it isnt really intuitive for me yet.

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  27. BBB

    I don’t think anyone mentioned the glyph of mangle after your initial post other than to say that there might be alternatives that would suit people better depending on their role in a raid. The one person that mentioned how he can’t imagine getting that many mangles up probably is in a raid like mine where most aoe targets are dead before you could get up one or two mangles. For others it may be a very valuable glyph for keeping threat on big groups of mobs. Especially in pugs where people can’t ever seem to understand that they need to attack the main tank target hehe

    Just didn’t want you to feel like your opinion was being attacked

    Keep up the great blog man…very entertaining 🙂

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  28. Hey, FaceTanking, don’t worry about it. I’m sure sometimes my replies seem a bit wierd, but what you don’t see are comments that get spam/deleted because they either included profanity, or because they served no purpose other than to try and hurt me in some way. Even then, if the comment has some actual point to make, I generally don’t care, but you’d be amazed at some of the stuff that pops up here. Well, maybe not. 🙂 But enough people felt that Glyph of Mangle was a “stupid choice that only a retard noob would make” that I felt at least one example scenario was warranted.

    No worries.

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  29. Great stuff BBB, I would definitely recommend this post to beginner druid tanks.

    @thebitterfig: “second, a question. i come from a warrior background, where yes, shield block is macro’d to my shield slam for maximum damage/uptime, but i tend to save my shield wall for oh-**** moments. i know barkskin has a lower effect than SW, and a shorter cooldown. is there a specific reason why on CD is best for it, or is it just a matter of preference?”

    It’s mostly a matter of preference. On what little tanking I do these days I tend to save my Barkskin for emergencies. Also, of course, if your strat revolves around using cooldowns at specific times (perhaps tanking Anub’Rekhan in place and popping Barkskin just before Locust Swarm) you need to save it. However, on a farm fight with no incoming burst damage you’ll reduce the most overall damage by using it on cooldown.

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  30. Awesome post. Started playing about 1.5 years ago with a Druid that morphed from a totally noobish balance/feral hybrid to a kitty machine. Due to severe altitis aggravated by friends on different servers, that first character has levelled very, very slowly . . . more slowly than several newer characters. Only level 66 while I have a level 80, 70 and a slew of lower level alts. But he’s still my favorite and nominally my main.

    Anyway, just dual specced to have both a bear and cat build. Great post. Very nice to see I’m at least on the right track with talents, glyphs and rotation. Mostly, I was basing my choices on concepts that worked for the prot warrior and DK I tanked with. Thank you for the time you’ve put in to share your experiences.

    I’m going to open myself to complete ridicule. At least, in some internet forums, I’d expect it. I’m kinda’ hoping for a more understanding response here because I’m really not a dumb person and I’m basing my question on my own limited experiences tanking with a DK into Northrend heroics, tanking with a Warrior through vanilla WoW pre-raid content and now starting to tank with a Bear in mid level Outland instances.

    Every Bear build (and many Cat) I’ve seen takes Survival Instincts. Every Prot Warrior build I’ve seen takes Last Stand. I don’t and I’ve never missed them. Now, I’ve never tanked a raid. I’ve only ever tanked heroics with my Frost DK and haven’t seen a need to take blood talents for Rune Tap. Is Survival Instincts just a nice talent, but not really a necessary one? And by that I mean, not necessarily better than a point in a passive utility talent like Primal Tenacity or Infected Wounds? Or am I missing something that does make it necessary? Or is it only necessary for raiding?

    My level 70 (and the character I’ve probably played most) is a Resto Druid who heals for a regular group of IRL buddies. Our tank has Last Stand and tells me he uses it from time to time. But I’ve never seen his health drop so far that I thought he needed it to supplement normal healing. Like it seems to be more of a security blanket than anything else. “OMG! Health is low! Panic button! . . . whew, and right when the heals went off too. Imagine that.” Honestly, when we wipe, it’s most often because I die and there just plain aren’t any more heals coming. Period. It is a rare occasion when I (as healer) die and the fight is also close enough to pull out a win with Last Stand. Most commonly I die because things are all ready FUBAR and no amount of temporary health gain is going to turn it around.

    I guess what I’m looking for is some input into why everyone seems to take Survival Instinct. Not as a “why is everyone so dumb” criticism (because I believe most people aren’t dumb), but as a self-evaluative, “am I doing something wrong?”

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  31. @Jack – I agree that SI / Last Stand isn’t required for normal / heroic tanking. There are some places, however, where that extra health is going to save your raid (often in Hardmodes, but even something like Mimiron’s Plasma Blast is easier to heal through with that extra health padding).

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  32. Thanks all this info, I’m usually Moonkin dps or heals, but sometimes will jump in a heroic or 10 man and try to tank. While I’ve managed to tank OS, Occulus, and even a timed COT4, I really felt quite clueless as to, is this a good spec, and what buttons should I mash? It can be hard to find basic, essential information such as this nice laid out for people like, well, like me =D

    Awesome stuff!

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  33. BBB

    Sorry to hear that people can be such jerks. People really need to learn to be constructive or go home. Unfortunately people seem to feel like it is their right to be a part of the conversation even when they have nothing to say. That is the one downfall of the internet imo. People have the brass to say things that they would never say in person.

    Please keep in mind that most of us can offer constructive conversation even though we might not be the most vocal 🙂 Keep up the great work. Your blog is always entertaining and informative for the vast majority of us

    Like

  34. Yea it’s irritating that someone would just comment to flame your choice. When I said I don’t see, that’s really what I mean, it doesn’t mean that I don’t believe you find it valuable for your specific circumstances. I would recommend something different, not because I don’t agree with your reasons but because in my experience other glyphs would do more good, like Berserk glyph which lowers the cooldown on Berserk. Berserk generates a lot of threat, quickly, and gives you the ability to mangle up to 3 targets. Maybe I’m just being lazy and don’t like the whole idea of switching targets. And there is probably some truth to the comment that in my raiding situations I don’t see many AoE fights that would take long enough for any mangles to start dropping off, either.

    Now, I totally respect BBB’s insight, always have. I do genuinely want to know, in an AoE how many mangles he’s doing. It’s a tactic I’ve not really dealt with much: (ie being a lazy bear). I’m also wondering how long those fights last. If I find myself in these situations I may be tempted to experiment.

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  35. Well, we just got a new KithenAid from Lowe’s and LOVE IT. 51 db is a wonder to not hear and it cleans like a son of a gun.
    oh, btw thx 4 all ur bear posts – makes the game fun for me not to have to run the numbers and still feel “qualified” as a tank.

    Like

  36. Pretty good advice for a beginning feral druid. My input on it is that Mangle is by far the best ability for damage and threat, so hitting it every time it’s off cooldown is good, even if it’s while you’re building a 5xlacerate stack. As for refreshing lacerate, I find that doing it when you have 3 sec left (giving you a mulligan if you miss the first attempt) very rarely has any problems. Other than that, just mash Maul and Swipe.
    More on the Mangle thing, I find that sometimes my DPSers can put out some nice damage… and threat, so my bear has 3/3 imp mangle for more TPS. Giving up 3 pts in Feral Aggression to me is a very easy trade for more mangling.

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  37. Here’s some comments from a Ulduar-25 (& 10 ofc) tanking bear.
    First I need to say that your guide is quite good and I’m sure it will help alot of bear tanks out there 🙂

    Personally I use a build where I have changed feral agression to natural & master shapeshifter. I’ve done this because the DPS I play with can pull some very nasty numbers on some encounters and the threat may become a issue.
    The point of tricks of the trade and misdirection is good, but atleast on our runs tricks of the trade goes to some other melee dps so that’s not a help in threat.

    As for glyphs, for major I use maul, growl & frenzied regen. Minors are challenging roar, thorns & rebirth.
    I’ve chosen growl above survival insticts because I really really hate to miss that one growl on thorim when you need to change the tank. That can be a real pain. As for maul, it’s just something I’m used to. Helps keeping threat on packs and I haven’t encountered a lot of problems with breaking CC so it is not a issue.

    As for barksin I don’t have it macroed. It’s a short cooldown skill and it doesn’t trigger a global cooldown so you can basically time it whenever you know theres alot of damage coming to you. That is ofc if you know the encounter. What comes into mind are XT-002 tantrum, hodir frozen blows, thorim when the stacks are piling up, mimirons plasmablast etc. Those are the kind of things I personally want to “save” my barskin for to ease up the healers job. Those are also a good time to pop survival instict+frenzied regen combo.

    As for the skills rotation I use. 1) Keep mangle & Feral Faerie Fire on cooldown all the time. 2) Keep demo roar up on the boss 3) Keep Maul queued up (macros steevee pasted are the ones that make this basically automatic). 4) keep lacerate up at 5 stacks. 5) swipe between all of this.

    As a final note. Thanks for a nice blog BBB. Been following you for quite some time now 😛

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  38. @Jack: I’ve used Survival Instincts since the day I could grab it. Especially because for a long time, we didn’t have our pseudo-block mitigation, so strings of big hits that avoidance didn’t, well, avoid were a bigger deal when you weren’t knocking 1800 damage off the top, especially for fights like Patchwerk on 25-man. Whether you need it for 5-mans or not, you probably don’t, but I had one Heroic AN run where due to a bad Smash on the last boss, along with just some bad luck, with the boss at 10% health, the entire rest of the group dropped except me, and by juggling SI, FR, Barkskin, Berserk, and trinket cooldowns, I was able to finish off the boss and rez the group, rather than having to wipe the attempt. On group-healing-intensive fights or fights where healers need to be moving a lot, like Loatheb, XT-002, Razorscale, Thorim, Heigan, Sapphiron, or even in fights like KT in Naxx when the OT drops due to a bad void zone, that extra health from Survival Instincts is absolutely a life-saver. For 5-mans, not so big a deal, although I would never give up a cooldown in favor of a minor upgrade in another talent. Additionally, Primal Tenacity is a PvP talent, not a PvE talent. A raiding bear should not use Primal Tenacity. The number of fights that utilize fear / stuns simply isn’t worth the talent investment… and with Tremor Totems, Fear isn’t a huge deal anyway.

    @BBB, first of all, some great advice in there 🙂 Thanks for taking the time to put all that together.

    However, my numbers have shown that Mangle is by far one of our best DPS / TPS abilities. Between Mangle, Swipe, FFF, and Lacerate, Mangle shows (with my #s in Rawr) as 2798 threat / 1351 damage, which is over double either Swipe or Lacerate – obviously Lacerate should be kept to a 5-stack with it’s DoT, but in my opinion as an Ulduar 10-raiding bear, the faster Mangle makes a big difference, especially since I have a pair of ranged DPS who are starting to give me a run for my money in threat. For this reason, I’d recommend 3/3 Improved Mangle, dropping Feral Aggression to 2/5.

    Additionally for glyphs, by having 3/3 in Improved Mangle, not only have you upped your TPS / DPS, your Mangle is now every 3rd attack in your rotation, thereby providing debuff spam for your DPS, thereby making sure you don’t need to worry about Glyph of Mangle and that you can get Glyph of Survival Instincts.

    I wouldn’t have bothered contradicting you, except for the debate on Glyph of Survival Instincts vs Glyph of Mangle. IMO, the 24% upgrade in Demo Roar just isn’t worth even considering giving up Glyph of Survival Instincts – on fights like Iron Council that can hit for 40k in 2 seconds, having an extra 15% max health in case a heal is late or the dispel is slow can mean the difference between living and dying. #’s wise, Demo Roar at rank 8 does 408 AP reduction. 2/5, that goes to 473. 5/5 that goes to 662. 189 Attack Power vs 15% extra health cooldown.

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  39. @ Javan, RE Feral Aggression & Demoralizing roar:

    if the new vindication has the same effect as an improved demo shout/roar, then hopefully ret pallys can be convinced to spec into vindication, considering how many talent points they have left over once they’ve bought all their dps talents.

    in general, though, this is the difference between specing for threat and specing for mitigation. warrior tanks spend 10 more points in arms than they need to for mitigation in the standard 15/5/51 build. if you want a pure mitigation spec, they by specing into imp demo shout and piercing howl, plus maxing shield specialization with a 5/11/54+1 build. likewise, skipping Improved Mangle is a similar choice. it says “my threat will be good enough, but i want more survival.” and that seems to be the stated goal of the 0/60/11 spec that The Bear gave us. this isn’t to disagree with your alterations, but to say that there are no doubt a multitude of effective specs which swap a point here and there for improved (rage generation) (survival) (single target threat) etc. I think everyone would agree that you spec based on your needs and the raid’s need, rather than what some blog post or EJ thread tells us to.

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  40. Some really nice comments here, I would also add that I have come across the same problems with fighting threat against the DPS. In my experience threat (but not rage) is of a much greater concern the further along you get in raiding. DPS these days are often under the impression that watching threat meters is so TBC, and this just is not the case. 😦

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  41. Macro for those “dire” moments:

    /cast Frenzied Regeneration
    /cast Survival Instincts
    /use Valor Medal of the First War

    I have this bound to a key, and it saved me multiple times. All three commands in this case are activated at the same time. I don’t have “Valor Medal of the First War” anymore, I just left it as example, you could use a potion (gets expensive), trinket or Lifeblood. Nice thing is, you got one key stroke, and you’re out of trouble (sort of).

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  42. You just gave me an idea!

    Like you, I like a 1 button response to emergency situations. However, there are some brutal fights where you’ll need a boost more than once and I find many tanks are spreading their abilities out. For all our spells we can have a single macro that does this with a castsequence. Was SI not quite enough? press the button again, and pop Frenzy, etc. If you don’t specifically set a time limit for your castsequence, it will never reset and you can use your next ability whenever you need it.

    That means that

    /castsequence Barkskin, Survival Instincts, Frenzied Regeneration, Lifeblood (if you have it).

    sits on 1 button or hotkey. Use 1 ablility at a time, or use them all. The macro will go down the sequence for you, whenever you want it to.

    The downside is that if you stagger your abilities, you need to activate items separately.

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  43. The castsequence is nice to have too, it all boils down to personal preference. Spreading out your abilities is of course preferred, however, if you’re tanking “progression for you” than it is good to have an instant life saver. I used my macro above a lot during boss fights in Naxx in the beginning, now in Ulduar, but less often. It is as everything else situational. Got a good healer backup, no problem. Gearing out a new healer, well, you might need it more often then. I usually don’t have enough time to react with 2 or 3 different key strokes when I am sitting at 5% health. This is probably my major “tanking issue”, I don’t watch my health carefully enough (now, I said it, so I will be watching).

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  44. @Heilwienix – that is a really good macro for most tanks to have. I have been using an equivalent one for a long time and I can’t even count how many times it has saved my life (SI with glyph + Barkskin + FR + 4pc T8.5 == close to 70k health for 28 seconds + healing for me). I would just make sure in the macro you posted to have it cast Survival Instincts first since it should boost the healing that Frenzied Regen will do – If I remember correctly Frenzied Regen checks the amount to heal based on your health at the time the Frenzied Regen was clicked so boosting your health first will allow Frenzied Regen to give you a bigger hot. I may be wrong but I am pretty sure that is how it works. I’ll have to double check when I get on next unless someone else can confirm…

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  45. Thanks for all your insight.

    I lvled to 68 or so as Feral (mostly kitty) then switched to Moonkin. I only went back to Feral when Dual Specs came out with the intention of Bear tanking. Now as a Bear tank I’ve OTed Gluth and Baron Rivendare, but do most of Naxx as a Moonkin. I want to tank regular/heroic WOTLK instances but struggle with more than 1 mob (I know part of it was gear…lots of Stam not enough AP).

    It seems that I can’t wrangle more than 3 easily.

    My question: So, take upstairs in H UK, where you have 5 mobs. Any single pull is gonna have the caster stay put and try and blast and all the mobs rushing in (including 1 worg). My general pull is to FFF the caster, rush in, turn around and start spamming Swipe, pop Berserk, then spam Mangle, Maul, basically a variation of 3 keys with the occasional Growl thrown in. I generally tell the dps not to AOE until I make sure I have them all. So since Swipe, glyphed Maul, and Berserked Mangle only hit 3 targets, do I need to tab-target through all 5 applying the first rotation? That seems like a long rotation to apply before switching to the next target? And do I run the risk of losing Threat to my healer even before the dps kicks in? So, help, how do I maintain Threat on more than 3 mobs?

    Thanks in advance. Love your Blog.

    Dbodinem
    Oedipas
    NE Druid
    US-Echo Isles

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  46. I have a question that will probably sound stupid, but how does a bear tank go about getting to the hit cap? I have been tanking for a few weeks now and accumulating gear, but none of it has any hit on it. So as far as I can tell I am forced to gem/enchant hit if I want it. Is this correct? I guess I would also be interested in anyones opinion on how important hit actually is for a bear tank. Thanks.

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  47. @ FaceTankingForFunAndProfit: Ooops, you’re right, SI should come first, gotta change that.

    @ dbodinem: Move, I usually mark one caster as first and the 2nd caster as 2nd target, charge one, hit swipe, move to 2nd swipe again, than concentrate on 1st again until dead. Tell your DPS to wait 5 to 10 sec before opening up. Tanking multi targets I usually use mainly maul (glyphed) and swipe. Exception is Ulduar where I work the main target a little more.

    @ joven: You can get pretty good threat without being hit capped. I actually don’t worry too much about hit, since Ulduar came out. I am sitting at 150 odd, and have no threat issues, except if I have a ueber DPS with me.

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  48. @Jack
    “Every Bear build (and many Cat) I’ve seen takes Survival Instincts. Every Prot Warrior build I’ve seen takes Last Stand. I don’t and I’ve never missed them. Now, I’ve never tanked a raid. I’ve only ever tanked heroics with my Frost DK and haven’t seen a need to take blood talents for Rune Tap. Is Survival Instincts just a nice talent, but not really a necessary one?”

    Nothing makes me grin more then when in a BG and I feral charge into a group of 3 or 4, pop SI, and watch as at least 1 or 2 of my opponents freak (and sometimes run away) when my HP goes over 50k. Priceless.

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  49. Veri, you hit the spot , thats how I like to tank.

    One thing i love about a feral druid is our dps output, we are great tanks that pick up the slack for a low geared dps, I MT for our guild and have no problems surviving in Ulduar 25 man, I have enchanting and JC to optomise my armour buffs, i take the crit on the head enchant ços the defense is not really needed and the crit is useful to tanks nowadays. As for my major glyphs i dont use survival instincts but berserk instead, an extra 5 seconds is always useful in keeping threat up, and for mimiron on the final push, using baby spice on the lowest section, I’m hitting all 3 body parts for a long period. The normal survival instincts is enough, an extra 15% is nice, but the 5 seconds on berserk is way more fun.

    Nice post BTW, and putting maul in with every attack is not always nice, but if rage is a problem on a pull, using maul is asking for trouble, buy a mouse with an extra button, thats the way forward.

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