Advice on being less squishy

I had a very nice (and funny) email from someone that was looking for a few tips on getting ready to tank.

I’ve covered a lot of different things all over the place, but the biggest problem with being a prolific writer is, after a while someone can have 900+ posts to wade through to try and find where you hid advice or suggestions on what you’re looking for.

Sometimes, having a search function and tags just don’t cut it anymore. If you’re tired of me covering ground you’ve heard a gazillion times, well… sorry. I’m a bear, can I help it if I’m panda-ring to my readers?

Yes, yes, I know, /groan.

First, the email. I love you folks, the emails always cheer me up.

Hi there!  I’m a relatively new end-game bear tank with a lot to learn.  Lets start with the story:

My guild let me run my first raid, OS, as the main tank.  It went surprisingly well 🙂

The next day my GM was running H ToC and gave me the opportunity to tank that as well.  It was a travesty.

During the very first fight my health shot down like a bullet, far too fast for the healer to catch up, even with survival instincts and frenzied regeneration up.  We tried it twice before the group quickly and grumpily disbanded.  My GM told me I needed to stack up defense rating, but I read on your blog that bears didn’t need to worry about crits with maxed SotF.  So I’m wondering, what stat do I need to work on instead to make me less squishy?

I currently have 24k armor, 32k health unbuffed, 31% dodge chance and 415 defense.  My glyphs are Maul, Growl, and Mangle.

Marshmallow Bear Kaliska

Kaliska, thanks a lot for your email. I sincerely hope you don’t let a tough Heroic ToC run get you down on tanking.

The first thing I’ll suggest, is that you keep your confidence up. There is no reason for you to feel you can’t handle the fights. I know that there is a growing feeling among the WoW playerbase that Bear tanks are not as equally strong as others, since the reduction in armor, Stamina and Dodge per Agility that we’ve experienced in past patches.

It’s a perception, based on a flawed premise; that the tanking survivability of the strongest tanking class is the standard, and tanks that are not at the same standard are unable to successfully tank.

In plain language; if my tank is squishier than tank class X, then my tank can’t tank. 

It’s not a competition. There is a big difference between being as “good” as another tank (as measured in survivability, a combination of max health, damage mitigation and damage avoidance) and being good ENOUGH to tank fights well.

I’m gonna give you some basic fundamentals for a second here, before moving on to suggestions. I strongly believe in understanding WHY you are doing what you are, and choosing what you do. If you understand and remember the underlying principles that drives your decisions, then in the future, when things change, you know how it will affect you, and you can decide for yourself if you need to change yourself to compensate.

Survivability. It’s one of the two key aspects of tanking. (The other being threat generation, of course).

Survivability is composed of three parts;

  • Health
  • Damage Mitigation
  • Damage Avoidance

Health is self- explanatory. The more health your character has, the more damage you can sustain before reaching zero. This directly relates to how long you can go without heals before hitting zero and dying. Health is NOT the primary stat to concern yourself with. If your healing support does a lot of small heals, then if you take 3 huge hits, one after another, the healer can be healing you at max speed, and never do enough healing to overtake and surpass your losses. It’ll take longer to die, but having 100,000 health doesn’t help that much if you’re taking 20,000 damage per hit. To effectively work with your healer and give them time to heal you, you need to reduce the amount of damage you are actually taking per attack. So let’s move on to those other two aspects of survivability, shall we?

Damage Mitigation is the term we use to describe reducing the amount of damage you actually endure when a hit lands. Your armor is what reduces the amount of actual damage you take, but from physical attacks ONLY. Poison, Magic, Flame, these attack types ignore armor. (Protector of the Pack, a Feral Talent, helps against these – more later).

Mitigation of damage is taking the amount of damage from every blow that hits, and reducing it by a little bit. This is what we build up/improve that takes those big hits that causes your health to plummet like a stone, and reduces the damage from each one so your health glides down in a leisurely fashion, giving healers more time to respond.

Bears used to have very high armor, and thus extremely good mitigation of physical damage, because of the way our Dire Bear Form armor multiple worked. Originally, the armor value on every single piece of equipment we wore would be counted for the multiplier. You could easily see a Bear tank in Burning Crusade with 34,000 armor or higher. Burning Crusade, not Wrath.

In modern times, they have nerfed that a good bit, first by reducing the number of equipment slots that count as being multiplied (only worn leather armor and cloaks count for the multiplier now, no Neck, Rings, Trinkets or Weapons count) and then by reducing the multiplier itself.

What this means for us is that, when we look at items to upgrade to increase our physical Damage Mitigation, we need to look at using the leather items and cloaks that have the highest base armor value possible. To be specific; if you are worried about your armor level, then the way to improve it is to upgrade your Helm, Back, Chest, Wrist, Hand, Leggings, Belt or Boots first. Those are the only items affected by the armor multiplier.

It also means (as I will go into later for Damage Avoidance) that any other items that have armor on them, such as weapons, rings or trinkets, are NOT necessarily the best in-slot upgrades, because the armor on them does not multiply. It used to be a given, a no-brainer, that an item with armor on it plus Stamina and Agility was far superior than another item with a teeny bit more Agility and Stam, but no armor. That ain’t the case anymore, unless it’s an obscene amount of armor, like 1200 – 1400. If it’s armor in the 300 – 400 range, or even 600, then you need to look at it’s other stats, primarily Agility and Stamina (and to a lesser extent Defense Rating) to see if it’ll help you Dodge better to avoid those attacks entirely. You’ll have to make a judgment on balancing armor for Damage Mitigation against Dodge for Damage Avoidance (and Stamina or increased Health cushion).

“But wait!” I hear you cry. “What about the magic and fire and poison B.S.? If armor doesn’t work, what does?”

Well, that’s where the Talent Protector of the Pack 3/3 comes in.

You see, Protector of the Pack provides pure Damage Mitigation… and it’s against both physical AND all other types of damage. As such, when you see your armor value as, say, 24k armor and think, “Boy, in Burning Crusade that would be insta-death in Gruuls’ Lair”, you need to now keep in mind that on top of your armor mitigation, PotP reduces all damage taken by 12%. (Changed from my original typo of 3%… thanks Neil. )

And never forget Barkskin as a non-global cooldown ability of awesomeness. More on Barkskin later.

Damage Avoidance is the third leg of the survivability tripod. It’s what it sounds like; how many incoming attacks can you avoid altogether?

Damage Avoidance is very critical to the fundamental preparation of Bear tanking. Damage Mitigation reduces the damage the blows that get through do to you, but Avoidance is making sure you don’t get hit in the first place.

An attack that misses is a beautiful thing for a Bear tank. When specced properly, not only do you avoid the potential damage entirely, but you also get some Rage back for your successful Dodge. Yummy!

For Bears, it is Agility that provides the single largest source of Dodge from gear. The stat also has other benefits, the Crit chance increases the frequency that your damage absorbing bubble procs, and each point of Agility is worth one point of armor. (Yeah, I know. Woo. Oh, be still my excessively beating heart.) Still, Agility is a wonderful thing to gem for and enchant for. It is entirely controllable to gear for. Armor for Mitigation is difficult to gear for, as it’s pretty much driven entirely by item level now. But Agility is something you can stack like a fiend. Dodge Rating is great as well, and Defense Rating (until the expansion removes it) also serves, but the grand daddy to stack on gear is Agility.

Okay, so I covered Health, Damage Mitigation and Damage Avoidance. I know I’ve done it before, but we’ve now gone over it again, so let’s build on it with some suggestions.

Position/Check your Six.

When you are tanking, watch your environment for where you are in relation to your enemies, and watch for non-physical threats.

Now that you know that your strength is in mitigating physical damage, not magic or poison or fire, you now can understand how critical it is that when the poison puddle drops from the Rogue in ToC, you get your big bear butt on out of that green stuff, fast. Likewise when the green smoky fire circle of Desecration is dropped (pretty sure that’s what it’s called) from phase three against the Black Knight. Get thine ass, tank or not, out of the fire.

Along the same lines, since you now know that your Avoidance is primarily based on Dodge… do not let your enemies get behind you. Attacks from behind cannot, CANNOT, be Dodged. Watch your position, many large mob fights consist of the group coming and then spreading out around you to even out their position. This causes them to form an arc, and move to your, um, behind. So practise backing the heck up, swiveling the camera view to see around you frequently, and seeing how you can Feral Charge into large groups and then immediately back up a bit to keep them in a frontal cone. Sometimes, you just can’t get them to stay off your ass, but you can try.

You can try.

Part of this means irritating the heck out of melee DPS. Melee DPS is manuevering behind the targets, and there you go, dragging them around again. TRY to stand still and let the melee hold position when you can, but believe me, if the melee DPS understands that you are only moving to get yourself, AND THEM out of the fire, and to keep yourself from being hit from behind and risking getting killed from fast non-avoided damage, they will forgive you. Hopefully.

“You need to stack more Defense Rating”

Remember that every other traditional tank out there has to use Defense Rating to become uncrittable at this point in the game. Every player that has ever played a tank class and prepared to raid has had the importance of Defense Rating hammered into their heads to be uncrittable, and in the old days, uncrushable. Well, pushing crushing blows off the combat table. (Grrr, shut up Bear, you don’t want to go there.)

Don’t be upset if you meet someone that is unfamiliar with Bear tanks, and they tell you that you need to improve your Defense Rating.

It’s what they know.

Don’t get defensive, it’s a sign to you that they are simply ignorant of bear tanking mechanics. Take the time to be knowledgeable without being defensive or hostile. Just accept that they do not know any better, and try to calmly, and with authority, educate them that while the Defense Rating requirement is currently true for Plate wearing classes, the class mechanics of leather-wearing Bear tanks with 3/3 Survival of the Fittest is different, Defense Rating is unnecessary for Bears, and our mechanic has become so popular that Blizzard announced at Blizzcon that Defense Rating is going away from all tank classes to bring them in line with current Bear mechanics.

Not much more you can say, really. They can choose to believe it or not.

Gear Priorities

On your gear, I can wholeheartedly recommend stacking Agility, Stamina, Dodge Rating, Defense Rating, and upgrading your actual leather items that are affected by the armor multiplier FIRST when faced with Emblem choices. I’ve posted about gear gemming and enchanting and stat priorities on some of the stickes on the sidebar, so I’m not going to waste your time even more by discussing that again. Just keep in mind priorities; Health to give you a buffer of time before you go down from big hits, but build your active Avoidance through Agility, Dodge Rating and Defense Rating, and work on improving armor to 25k+

By way of comparison, right now. I have about 30K armor, 41+% Dodge, and about 32K Health unbuffed. My trinkets and items with procs are built around improving/increasing Dodge Rating and Agility for Dodge, not armor or crit or attack power.


As far as Glyphs are concerned, I really feel that for tanks, the Maul and the Frenzied Regeneration Glyphs are kinda must haves. Maul having a rage-free second target Maul is just, well, I dunno. OP? And the Frenzied Regeneration Glyph really takes your Survival Instincts and Frenzied Regeneration, abilities you tend to only use when things have gone completely to hell, and improved the synergy all the way around. Not only are you healing yourself, the heals of your healing support are more effective on you so you get back up faster.

After those two, Growl is good for when it’s absolutely imperative to have Growl not miss, but with so much Hit Rating on gear these days, consider changing that one out for either the Survival Instincts Glyph for even better “oh shit” action, or the increased duration Mangle Glyph for even better multi-mob threat in a threat race. I’m currently using the Mangle Glyph, because I haven’t been tanking raid content for a long time. I’ve been seriously thinking of changing that out for the Survival Instincts Glyph that my good friend Elystia sent me.

Long Cooldown Abilities

I briefly touched on Survival Instincts and Frenzied Regeneration already, but there is also Barkskin to consider.

I’m a big proponent of matching your technique to your situation. You can’t do that unless you are armed with knowledge of what you’re going to face. That’s why the groundwork.

Now, I typically face 5 man runs as a tank, and spend my time with highly skilled players with moderate to good gear. As such, I don’t worry about Growl getting resisted/missed that much, because I rarely need it. I don’t worry about stacking the Survival Instincts Glyph instead of the Mangle Glyph, because I almost never need the SI/FR combo, even on a timed Culling of Strat run. And because I rarely need an “oh shit” button, I roll with Barkskin on a macro with Swipe, so it’s cast every time it’s off cooldown. It just helps ease the healer’s load in general on moderate runs

As a new tank, working on your gear, or as a tank raiding real serious content, your situation changes. You ARE worried about those things. Instead of Barkskin being on cooldown, you’re going to want to have it there exactly when you want it, and not on cooldown from some macro.

When it’s critical that you taunt the mob off the other tank (or a healer) at just the right time, like in two tank Puppydog in Naxxramus, Growl suddenly is a main line Glyph.

Yes, Puppydog is his official name. Bite me.

And for abilities with long cooldowns, you want to put them where you can get to them, and practise using them.

How often do you have a Warlock in your group, get a Healthstone, and then don’t use it?

You’re not used to having it, so you don’t have the practiced instincts to reach for it in a critical situation.


Practise using them.

Position the buttons for Barkskin, Frenzied Regeneration, Survival Instincts, Challenging Roar and any other emergency reaction buttons where they are convenient to get to when stressed. Practise them. Go find some large packs of scrubs, aggro them, and practise controlling the group, backpedal moving with the group while keeping them away from your butt, practise selecting various mobs with tab targeting or clicking nameplates or whatever, practise marking with Skull or X on the fly, practise moving your camera view and picking one to Growl taunt, and above all, practise those long cooldown abilities.


I’ts been a long time since I’ve mentioned them, but remember your consumables. Few things give you an edge to get over rough spots like having all those Flasks, Food and even Scrolls in use.

People drop Fish Feast a lot these days, and everyone queues up to the trough. That’s all fine and dandy if you’re a Hunter or a Healer, but attack power ain’t gonna do you a damn bit of good in being less squishy. Instead of eating Fish Feast as a food buff, carry a stack of Blackened Dragonfin around for increased Agility.

Likewise, depending on the group you’re in, you might lack Death Knight or Shaman Agility buffs, and if so, you can buff yourself using a Scroll of Agility, easily made by Inscriptionists.

As far as Flasks are concerned, I do use the Flask of Stoneblood. Using Elixirs can target Agility and health independantly, but I’ve gotten out of the habit of farming herbs for ten hours a week for Elixirs the way I did in Burning Crusade. For the content I’m doing, I’m good with Stoneblood. For an all out effort, you might like to go for the gusto on a more powerful combination of short lived Elixirs.


One last thing. I’ve talked about what YOU can do. Using Thorns and GotW, obviously, is so mandatory it doesn’t deserve comment.

There is one more thing I should mention, that you can keep in mind.

Manage the abilities of your group, where they overlap with your responsibilities.

I’ve mentioned your succeptibility to non-physical damage.

Take the time to ask your fellow teammates to use THEIR abilities to reduce that spell/fire/poison/other damage, when appropriate.

Priests casting Shadow Resistance, Paladins using auras of Fire Resistance, asking Shamans to use Tremor Totems against Fear or Totems to cleanse Poison, etc, etc. Those are not your responsibility to cast, but nothing says you can’t ask for them to be brought to the table to help out.

End Edit.

I think that’s it. Anything else would come under the category of threat generation and aggro management, and that’s beyond the scope of what I set out to talk about. And by now, I bet a 3,310 word reply to your email is a little more than you wanted to deal with, anyway. 🙂

I hope that at some point in this, something helped guide you to how to prepare yourself to be standing tall when tanking, and make it through the fight.

If not, don’t hesitate to ask for help in the comments, the readers here often have more insight than I do in some of the options, and they’re excellent about sharing their experience and helping out.

Until next time, when I swear I’ll get a working CoS movie, I’m da Bear, signing off.


28 thoughts on “Advice on being less squishy

  1. Additional Glyph comments, especally for starters.
    Glyph of Thorns…1 hour vs 10 minutes casting makes it much less of a hassle.
    Glyph of Challenging Roar, -30 sec and its a minor! Its awesome!


  2. The only thing I have to add is on the subject of armor: Raising the iLevel is the only way to boost the armor that gets multiplied (and that applies to the plate tanks’ “Toughness” talent, Frost Presence, and the Austere meta-gem as well as bear form). Bonus armor on cloaks, cloth, leather, mail, plate, and shields above and beyond what they get from their iLevel doesn’t get multiplied by anything, just like the armor from trinkets, jewelry, weapons, and enchants.

    Second, I believe you get two points of armor per point of agility; Mongoose is good for 240 extra armor when it procs. Or rather, more, because if I recall correctly the armor from agility does get the multiplier.


  3. Great write up. It’s nice to see a consolidated source of information on this topic.

    I remember having a spot of trouble in my first TOC Heroic. CC is very useful as stated above. I’ll usually get an MD on one of the targets to help start me off on threat. The most important thing though is positioning.

    It’s also worth mentioning that in the early stages of gearing your new Bear, PVP items are a really good and relatively painless way to do it. They don’t put out the threat you might require at higher levels but are chocced full of Armor and Stamina with a decent chunk of Agility on the side.


  4. Just off to bed, must ad a comment from today’s pug fail.
    Did the jousting in HToC, getting set with buffs & things (me still in humanoid form with 29k unbuffed) and the healer starts up a convo in /party

    put ur def gear on
    <== Bear
    what sort of gear r u wearing?
    bear tank, let’s do this

    /pull group, the healer quits the party, those who were left all die.

    Yes, I should have taken the time to explain that I am not a warrior, pally nor DK. I should have taken his lack of knowledge & helped him understand the way of the bear, instead I rez’d and found he was in Icecrown, so lampooned him in /1

    /1 {healer’s name} just left a HToC before the first pull because he wanted me to put on my plate +def gear, and I wouldn’t.
    /1 Did he ask if you were def-capped? LOL, I hate that on my bear alt
    /1 I didn’t say you needed plate
    /1 Yeah, I don’t heal any instance on my priest unless I have my plate gear on

    I don’t have Elephant to get the exact text, but this is close enough.
    Turned it into a guild run & flawless victory.

    Note for Enrage:
    When the Black night phase starts & he’s doing his speech, right when he says “little” in the “your pathetic little combat”, switch into bear form for 10 rage (if you have that talent) and pop enrage straight away. With that timing, the enrage (and therefore the armour debuff) will finish about a second before combat begins. Max available rage all ready for threat generation = Win.


  5. One thing to do soon after the pull of the champs is to pop Berserk and Mangle away. Obviously, get all 3 in range before doing so, but after all of those Mangle’s hitting all 3, you shouldn’t have issues with threat on any of them so long as your dps are following kill order.
    Someone mentioned using an OT. I’ve done this and had it done a number of times depending on group makeup. One thing I would say is, never have someone OT the Mage unless the MT is a bear, otherwise the MT can get sheeped and things go to hell after that.


  6. Excellent post. I can recall so many times when the S### hit the fan (usually cuz someone pulled another pat or something) when I was the last bear standing and the dps are upset at me for “moving their targets” and I said something to the effect of.. If I had not backed up with all those guys I would not be standing here to rez you. 😛

    Thanks again BBB, love your posts.

    Nokin… Feral since Feral was not cool! (wait.. it’s always been cool to me! )


  7. Thanks for the great guide, it helped sorting some issues I was battling with. Long time dps’er trying to be a big bear butt as well!

    Cheers m8, keep up the good work


  8. I used to tank with the legs and shoulder pieces from the PVP set ( I am not sure but it was the “Deadly” prefix i think) as the agi, stam and resil seems sexy to me.

    Reading the mechanics, resil is still useful for the spell damage received regardless if it came from PVP or PVE.

    I macroed my barkskin and my lacerate together as well as barkskin and swipe. I also macroed a raid or party warning on SI+Bezerk+dodge trinkie+Frenzied Regen+ Enrage as my ultimate “O Crap: I am going to die” button. The dodge trinket will mitigate the loss in armour whilst getting rage from dodging, Enrage and getting healed with FR.

    I suggest getting some more badges for vendor tier pieces and keep puggin VOA as well.

    Good onya mate I wish you well.


  9. BBB, you forgot to mention Savage Defense! (Edit: I do just now see it mentioned barely in the tail end of your last comment…but it deserves more)

    Kaliska, make sure you didn’t miss picking it up when it was introduced, I believe you had to go back to your trainer and learn it. For max level characters at the time, you might not have seen your trainer since then. Savage Defense gives you a shield every time you crit. So that means crit is officially a mitigation stat for bears. And the amount it shields you is 1/4 of your attack power. AP is now a mitigation stat for you. Obviously, you don’t want to go overboard with crit and ap for a bear. But if you completely neglected them to get the stats you said in your e-mail, you may need to rethink that. Personally, on my bear, I gem almost entirely shifting twilight opals to give me some stam, and the agi for dodge, crit, ap, and armor all from one stat. How wonderful is that?

    Also, you might want to let us look at your talent spec. Looking you up on the armory and matching servers based on the stats you said you have, I think I know your spec. But just make sure you’ve got Primal Gore. That will allow you to cycle targets, putting up one stack of Lacerate as you do, and every time it happens to crit on any of the targets you’ve got it up on, it’ll proc your shield.


  10. SHIT! Thanks Copey, damn it, I knew I forgot something!

    Enrage… BIG BIG BIG warning on Enrage for a new Druid!

    Sometime, pop into bear, open your character view, and select the Defenses window. Watch your armor. Then pop Enrage.

    On my 30k armor Bear, I drop 5K armor instantly for the duration of Enrage.

    98% of the time, pop Enrage and have no worries.

    If you’re facing a target that’s doing a big whopping ton of Physical damage, like the ToC warrior and his bloddy be amned Whirlwind, and you’ve got the healing debuff, you really don’t suddenly want to lose a big chunk of mitigation from Enrage.

    Thanks Copey, I hate it when I forget something like that.

    And thank you to everyone for providing specific strats on tanking in Heroic ToC, I’m so glad you’re doing that. I guess I’ve gotten silly in my old age, someone asks for a little help, and I completely omit providing any kind of isntance specific help. Sorry, sorry.

    And Dirz… yes, it also provides 40 Stam, but Blackened is 40 Agi and 40 Stam, not 40 AP and Stam. The AP does nothing for Avoidance, the Agi does.

    Now, another fun food can be Crit Rating and Stam. Increased Crit if you’re running low from gear can help bubble procs.


  11. I’m curious if H ToC means Heroic Trial of the Champion (5 man instance) or it means Heroic mode Trial of the Grand Crusader (10 or 25 man raid set to heroic).

    I would have to assume that a new tank with those stats would not be asked by his guild leader to do Heroic ToGC-10. Because, yeah, it would be brutal. Anyway, I have an added thing I do with Barkskin. I have the button conveniently placed right next to enrage. If you have a habit of popping Enrage before a fight so you have the extra rage to gain the threat you need, you need to remember that it’s knocking down your armor a bit when you do this. You are inherently more squishy during enrage then at other times. I normally, pop enrage and barkskin together when I pull, and then barkskin is available as an “oh shit” button later.

    I also have all those buttons lined up in an easy to use place. Things going down poorly? Barksking->Surviv instincts->Frenzied Regen->avoidance trinket. If that isn’t enough next down the line is a warlock stone and health pot. After things get under control, probably have to pop enrage again if FR used all your rage up. If all that isn’t enough, it may be time to review if you have the gear to do what you are attempting to do.

    The thing to remember is not to get down on your self. If your GM asked you to do a heroic ToC-10 man….you know, the hardest possible ten man in the game….it’s more his fault in judgment, not your inability to tank. Grind up those heroic 5 mans, get conquest badges, and you will be rocking end game raids real soon.


  12. My suggestion for H ToC? CC

    Yup, it’s kind of gone by the wayside in Wrath, but if you are new to tanking, do not be afraid to ask someone to CC those champs. Even the short duration of a cyclone from a friendly laser-chicken/tree can give you enough time to deal with some of the others. Just be sure to pick them up properly once it ends….

    For a fresh 80, especially a fresh 80 tank, H ToC is a hard instance. If you aren’t using the abilities in your group to help you out, I wouldn’t be surprised to see anyone struggle. You might get a shocked DPS asking if you’re sure or what do you mean by “CC”, but if you get through that first boss-fight you can probably do the rest.


  13. Awesome writeup.

    My Druid doesn’t tank, but understanding exactly how you do it helps a bunch when I wind up healing one (not you, of course, pug stuff) and things go sideways.



  14. I have started tanking on my warrior alt (I am usually a healer) and faced the save situation as Kaliska.
    I have tanked HTOC several times with little or no problems until the other day.
    I got the Warrior, Rogue and the Shammy.
    The Warrior and Rogue together are a mess.
    The warrior will MS you and has the nasty WW. The rogue has the poison.
    What this translates into is LOTS of incoming damage and 50% less incoming healing.
    We finally beat them by having the group focus on the Shammy while I kited the Rogue and the Warrior around the room, stunning as much as possible and running when he WW’d.

    What I am saying is you are not a bad tank, you might not even be lacking alot. Some combos just SUCK.


  15. There is always Feral Faerie Fire to keep threat on one or two ranged targets. That is usually more than enough threat to keep something off a healer.

    I always like the bash one and go beat up the other strategy too when having to focus on two ranged mobs that are not close to each other.


  16. Jack,

    Don’t forget how useful Faerie fire and Feral Charge are for that combination. It takes a little more activity to get them focused on you, but you have so many tools to do it, just remind your DPS to stay on the kill target and let you charge, mangle, and lacerate one and FF the other. The biggest problem I see with new bears is that they jump into slightly more advanced content then they are ready for and they aren’t as comfortable with using all of the tools. Especially if you’re in on the champs early enough to get a swipe in and then tab target lacerates you should have more than enough threat on them that you can maintain it as you go.

    Keep trying to improve your hit and expertise rating while maintaining or improving your defensive stats. Missing or being blocked on attacks can be very frustrating and detrimental to your morale as a tank because that’s often when your threat drops and your DPS start whining. I go a little overboard on my druid tank, but I’m hit capped (263 hit rating) and usually running around 30 expertise with precision factored in.


  17. H ToC5 is definitely a messy tank instance. The first part, the warrior keeps throwing you away so you have to run back, you need to faerie fire the hunter/mage occassionally to keep agg, or drag the others to her repeatedly, the rogue keeps laying down splotches of poison, and if you don’t take out the healer first you’re in trouble… In other words a mess.

    It is also one of the tougher fights, so do it on normal first a few times (and also get that dang trinket that is so nice).


  18. “you could try having an ‘off tank.’ “
    My biggest challenge is trying to get aggro on both Hunter & Mage. Mostly I just kite the third champion into melee range of the mage and throw a taunt at the Hunter whenever it’s off cooldown. And hope the healer can heal himself throw a couple shots from the hunter between taunts. However, I did once have a Warlock offer to tank the Hunter with his Voidwalker. It worked pretty well. Voidwalker eventually died, but it bought time to kill the mage and move into range that I could start putting threat on the hunter.


  19. There are I think 7 druids named Kaliska, so I could be off-base, but there is one with a defense rating of exactly 415 who has tanking gear that sort of matches up with the story if you will. The spec itself looks ok, but the gear could definitely use some work, which is to be expected for someone who is new to tanking. While I think Bear’s response is a great tanking primer, the quick and dirty way to become less squishy is to improve your gear every chance you get. That means the proper enchants, gems, and item choices. Your overall stats aren’t bad in bear form for a new tank, but I suspect that you’re sacrificing +hit, +expertise, and a lot of stamina/health if I’m looking at the right character. As others have noted, H ToC can be a tough heroic, it’ll be good for you to start on the earlier heroics, not only for the pure gear upgrades that you’ll find, but also for the badges.


  20. Dude! Kaliska’s experience sounds so much like a couple of my attempts at tanking H ToC. I’m even at roughly the same stats. The first time I tanked H ToC it went incredibly well. The second it went horribly. Sometimes it’s meh. Mostly, once I get past the Champions, the instance is easy peazy.

    When it has gone poorly, it is almost always in three quick steps (1) my health plumets like a rock, (2) I lose aggro on the ranged champions and (3) they kill the healer.

    More than once, I’ve been asked if I’m defense capped. Every time I politely explain that Bears talent for crit immunity and don’t need defense rating and every time it’s been met with, “Oh. Okay. I don’t know much about Druids.” But I do actually have to explain it. Just linking Survival of the Fittest doesn’t seem to be enough for the light bulb to click.

    Anyway, evaluating my failures, contrasting them with the successes, I think I hit on a few critical factors

    (1) some boss combinations are hard. Mage + Hunter specifically. Mage, Hunter, Rogue is my nightmare. Shaman, Warrior, Hunter is a cakewalk.

    (2) Use your cooldowns. It’s funny that BBB mentioned Barkskin specifically because I always do forget it. But use them right out of the gate so the healer can wait a couple beats while you establish threat.

    (3) Kite. Kite the melee champs into melee range of the ranged champ. Kite the Warrior away from your DPS when he whirlwinds. Kite everyone out of the green mess and the lightning storms.

    (2) A healer with a lot of level 78 blues won’t cut it, but one in T8-9 gear can almost carry you.

    (3) DPS needs to calm down, take a deep breath and count to five while you establish threat before they go apeshit on the champions’ collective butts. T9+ players dishing out 5K+ dps need to hold back. You can’t hold aggro against that if your in H ToC to farm gear.

    (4) Seriously, you do the best you can. Once you’re through the champs, the only real tanking challenge left is kiting the Black Knight out of his AoE and away from his exploding ghouls. And as long as you know that’s coming, it’s not even that hard.


  21. That fight can be hard on even seasoned tanks depending on which three bosses are randomly chosen for the encounter and the group you went in with.

    The warrior’s whirlwind in particular puts out considerable damage and there is no way to stop it. That would be the time to burn any and all defensive cooldowns. I’ve also found strafing away from him helps so long as you are careful to not face your back to him, run him into anyone else or get out of healing range.

    Depending on what else you got you might have a rogue dropping poison under the group, a hunter muti-shotting everyone, a mage poly-morphing people, etc. So potentially lots of group damage to keep up with on the healer’s part even if the tank is doing their job and holding aggro on everything.

    One defensive cooldown people might not always think of, bash, works great on that fight to stun one of the bosses (aside from a spinning warrior) and mitigate some damage by preventing it entirely.

    The other four people in the group probably had some tricks up their sleeves to use as well. For instance if you have a hunter they can use distracting shot to lure a spinning mob of doom to them and before it gets to them the tank can taunt it back and/or the hunter can pop deterrence. Any class with a ranged taunt can do something similar.

    I’ve also on a couple occasions had a second healer help out where someone with a dual spec was available. You work with what you have and get stuff done even if it isn’t very conventional.

    Judging from only two tries though the expectation was probably to get it done quick and easy and there probably wasn’t much interest in getting creative once brute force failed.

    Certainly nothing to worry about as a tank. I’ve been in there with my bear and over 40k heath, 40% dodge, 26k armor and still felt squishy with some groups. I’ve also taken my DK there shortly after hitting 80 with 24k health buffed and a few points shy of the defense cap and did just fine (one wipe) with a little help from my healer (naxx/badge geared) and burning every cooldown I had.


  22. As always, you’ve done a great job of running down the fundamentals of Bear tanking. One problem: Protector of the Pack is 12% mitigation, not 3%. Big difference there 🙂

    The first 10-15 seconds of faction champions in H ToC is the most brutal burst damage you’ll encounter in 5-mans. I usually open with a Feral Charge followed /immediately/ by Barkskin, Survival Instincts, and Frenzied Regeneration. If you’re facing the Rogue, keep your eyes wide open for the poison puddles and make sure to have your DPS kill it first.

    If you’re still struggling to stay alive, you could try having an “off tank.” I use the quotes because what I’m really referring to is having a plate-wearing DPS class or a feral DPS druid in bear form keep the Mage, Shaman, or Hunter occupied. None of those three hit particularly hard. I don’t recommend this with the Rogue or Warrior, though.


  23. Fantastic post BBB, all bear tanks looking to improve their game could use the advice or at the very least as a refresher.

    Thanks for sharing.


  24. This was a fantastic read. Makes me want to respecc my crit chicken and try feral again. Never could get the hang of the tanking thing, but this gives some great direction. Thanks!
    .-= Errun´s last blog ..happy dance =-.


  25. A month or two ago I dropped glyph of Maul, I know I shocked myself too, but here’s there reasoning. Currently I run Barkskin, Survival Instincts and Berserk. Honestly for tanking Glyph of Barkskin is worthless…and Survival Instincts is only marginally useful. If I had my glyphs set up for pure tanking (instead of glyphing for pvp where those glyphs help a lot more) I still don’t think I would include Maul though. It just isn’t necessary for heroics or even raids. Swipe spam puts out enough threat right now to hold most mobs unless your dps is actively trying to pull.

    Frenzied Regen is by far the best tanking glyph available to ferals atm.


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