Some discussion about Bear Threat and Faerie Fire

In previous posts, I’ve talked a lot about the creation of Threat.

What I’d like to do now is provide some numbers, for your use in understanding how much threat can be generated, and how it all compares.

The first thing to understand is, Threat scales based on Attack Power, even your Faerie Fire (Feral). It’s well known that the more damage you deal, the more Threat your attacks generate, especially when properly Talented. What isn’t as widely understood is that even Faerie Fire is affected by gear.

Let’s take a look at two cases, side by side. One with full gear, the other naked. We are only interested in the results of successful hits of each ability, not overall results factoring in misses.


As you can see, the variation in your gear can have drastic affects on your Threat generation, more than you might believe.

The other thing you can see is the disproportionate Threat of Maul as regards Attack Power. Certain abilities, such as Faerie Fire (Feral), Maul and Lacerate all specify that they do a certain amount of damage, plus a “High amount of threat”. That’s part of why you see a disparity between Auto-Attack Threat scaling and Maul Threat scaling in the chart above.

Regardless, by looking at this chart, you should be able to arrive at some conclusions when thinking about your Threat rotation.

First, Maul indeed causes the most Threat of any of your attacks per application. If you have the Rage to keep it constantly queued up at all times, it will also be your highest Threat Per Second attack on one target (plus a buddy with Glyph of Maul!). It also will apply Infected Wounds in your target, which slows their attacks. So, all around great.

The drawback to Maul is that it must be queued up. It is not an instant application of Threat. Once queued, it replaces your next scheduled auto-attack. Another drawback, but one much more minor, is that Maul costs Rage, while an Auto-Attack generates Rage. Use Maul all the time, and you’re losing a good bit of Rage income. Just a point.

The second thing to think about is that, of the instant cast abilities open to you, Faerie Fire (Feral) does a very solid amount of Threat… it’s ranged, and it costs nothing to cast except an activation of the Global Cooldown. All great things, but the key here is that it’s RANGED, and this adds another tool to our toolbox.

This makes Faerie Fire (Feral) a must-use Threat tool… but who you choose to use it on may depend on circumstances. More on this in a bit.

Mangle (Bear) has received a pretty bad rap, and the reasons I thought it did just don’t seem to be there. Thanks to your comments and my research into Threat, I now know that it delivers a solid amount of Threat, it also adds Infected Wounds to the target (when Talented in Infected Wounds), and when Berserk is activated it will hit three adjacent targets on every hit, as fast as the GCD allows you to fire. That’s a lot of Threat applied very fast to three targets.  

Lacerate does less Threat than many other attacks, but with Primal Gore, each tick of damage has a chance to Crit, providing bonus Rage (and bubble procs). What it primarily does for you is apply a Bleed effect to the target. With 5/5 in Rend and Tear, your Maul will do 20% more damage. That’s a hefty Threat increase from Maul, and very valuable. That is why you will see people recommend that you get Lacerate in early, so that you are getting the full benefit to your Maul of a Bleed effect being on the target. And don’t forget that your Mangle puts a debuff on your target so that it takes more damage from Bleeds like Lacerate in the first place, which helps Lacerate do more Threat, too.

Finally, Swipe. Swipe does more Threat than people tend to realise. It doesn’t have the slowing or Bleeding goodies of other abilties… but it hits as an AoE, and every single individual target hit can be a Crit, with all the yummy bubble procs and bonus Rage that goes along with it.

This congruence of factors is why, in my own pulls, I will favor pulling with a Faerie Fire (Feral), use Swipe to start Threat on the entire group and counteract AoE and healer threat, start queueing and keep up at all times Maul, get a Mangle on my main target to start a enhanced damage from Bleed debuff, another Swipe, Lacerate for the enhanced Maul damage, Swipe, Faerie Fire (Feral), and then settle down and focus on keeping FFF up, working Lacerate into the act to add more stacks, and again… keep that Maul, which does NOT trigger the Global Cooldown, up at all times.

Now, about that Faerie Fire (Feral).

It is instant cast… it’s free to use (activates the GCD), and it’s ranged.

One other thing about it.

You do not have to be facing the target to trigger it. You can cast it at a target behind you. You can cast it from your butt.

And it does a really marvelous amount of Threat.

Remember, when dealing damage on a mob, damage equals Threat. When someone is Healing damage done to a player, their Threat is divided amongst all the mobs that are aware of them. Divided.

Healing threat builds up at a pace slower than damage based Threat, when fighting multiple targets.

Assuming, as we should, that most situations of a single distant ranged mob outside your AoE would be that the mob is only seeing Threat from the healer, then this gives us a marvelous tool to stay ahead of healer threat on ranged targets, while still romping on our own in the main group.

I have created a Faerie Fire (Feral) macro for special occasions.

To use the FFF macro, you first need to be able to set a target as your Focus. A Focus is a mob that you want to be able to cast things at, without having to target it specifically each time.

You could simply create a macro that consisted of;


You target a mob, you click the macro, that mob is now your Focus target. If you use UI unit frame mods, almost all of them have a Focus Frame that it will display.

Another option is to use a mouseover macro to make a mob your Focus. Longtime readers know that I’ve long enjoyed mouseover macros; they let you do things to mobs without having to target them first.

/focus [target=mouseover, exists] target

To use that macro, you mouse over the mob you want made into your Focus, then activate the macro. If the macro button is on your bar as #1, for example, you can mouseover the mob and press 1. Instant Focus.

Now, the Faerie Fire (Feral) macro is as so;

#showtooltip Faerie Fire (Feral)
/clearfocus [modifier:alt][target=focus,dead][target=focus,help][target=focus,noexists]
/cast [target=focus] Faerie Fire (Feral)

The line that says /clearfocus means that, if you no longer have a valid mob as a Focus, like it’s dead, or it’s vanished, then it clears the focus window. The cast line will cast Faerie Fire (Feral) at your designated Focus, regardless of what mob you’ve got targeted at the moment, so long as the spell can be cast and the Focus is in range. 

I personally use the /focus macro, and then the macro above. I don’t use the mouseover version of focus, because I really like my current button bar arrangement;


On the bottom, in Bear form, I have Feral Charge and Enrage as two ‘prepare to engage’ buttons.

This is followed by Survival Instincts and Frenzied Regeneration above each other in a stack, symbolizing how I trigger them… one after the other. (My long cooldowns go on the top bar, generally, above commonly used abilities on the bottom).

Then you get into the core of the Bear attack rota, the Demoralizing Roar at the farthest left, the Faerie Fire (Feral) far left, Mangle at left, Lacerate at right, Maul at far right, and Swipe at furthest right. Long cooldown Berserk is right over Mangle, Barkskin is right over Lacerate, Lifeblood is over Maul.

The Swipe button has the word Swipe ON it, because it is my Barkskin macro;

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

And then, past the attack rota, you’ve got Growl, Bash, and Challenging Roar, in order of decreasing frequency of use.

The skull and crossbones button saying “Ready” is just my Ready Check macro.

I know this has gone far afield, but the way this Focus macro with Faerie Fire (Feral) can be used is to choose a distant spellcasting target, make him your Focus, target your near mob and make him your Skull kill target, and then charge in on Skull. Attack as normal, Swipe, Mangle, Maul, whatever you like…

But every time you hit your FFF macro, that distant ranged target is getting hit with Faerie Fire (Feral), and easily staying over healer aggro without ever having to actually target him.

In conclusion… knowing your enemy, knowing what they will do, knowing who will come running to you into Swipe range and who will hang back and fireball is most of the battle.

The REST of the battle is knowing what you want to do about it!

Welcome to the New Ninja Order!

I’ve been waiting for his post all day. I was online when it happened, and we all helped talk him down off the WTFROFLMAOBBQ ledge.

Dechion, good friend and guild mate, has been regaling us with tales of his bad pug experiences since 3.3 went live. First person that I know to get Perky Pug, first person to catch the wave of asshattery.

Yesterday, yesterday has to cap it, though.

You see, and please read his more detailed story full of facts and screenshots on his blog, he joined a random pug, found the other four members were all from the same server, 3 were all guilded, and they ran Heroic Trial of the Champion together.

Once the Black Knight was down, they used a nice, new technique to ninja the loot for themselves.

Black Knight dies, and as his body hits the floor they instantly kick Dechion from group before the body gets looted.

Let’s get past a few things as we talk about this.

Move past whether or not anyone really cares if they lost a chance at pretty little purple pixels. Move past the fact that whatever asshattery was committed, it happened in a virtual realm, and who cares anyway.

Those are stupid arguments used to belittle a core issue and cloud the conversation with bullshit. 

It makes no difference what Dechion was denied, or whether it was in the ‘real world’ (thanks, Jess) or in a virtual one.

The core issue is that one person played in a group, confident that the rules would allow fair play to equal fair chance at reward, and the others in the group found a way to use the rules to deny him his chance at that reward. 

The ninjas in this case were all from the same server, Dethecus.

Their names are:

The first three are from Axis of Justice, and the last is from Storm Forged, a pretty massive guild on Dethecus.


This couldn’t have been about gear. You look at the gear of these four, and it’s almost inconceivable that any one of them was just dying over a piece of Heroic ToC loot.

Of course, that word may not mean what I think it means, because maybe one of them has been hankering for that one special drop for the last 6 months, and refused to be denied it yet again. You never know what goes on in the minds of asshats.

But if it isn’t about gear, why would they have done it? 

What about… because they could? For a laugh? For revenge that one of them died in the run and has a repair bill, so to hell with Dechion, he’s from another server, nobody will ever know?

All of the above?

Who cares.

The fact is, a glaring loophole has been found that allows a group to run something when short just one person… and then cut that person out of the loop at that last, critical moment.

How would you like this to happen to you?

Say… when Arthas has been defeated at the end of a hard fought Heroic Halls of Reflection, and as you run to the airship with everyone else, you get kicked from the group before anyone even reaches the chest on the ship?

Wouldn’t that be special?

What happens if the loot window opens, and only THEN you are kicked?

Does anyone know if having a loot window open for rolling prevents your being kicked? Or prevents you from rolling on the loot?

Wouldn’t it be lovely if you were running in ICC 5 mans, and the Battered Hilt dropped, but before you had a chance to roll, the rest of the group kicked you?

Think about it.

And if you see any of those four, please, from me, and with all my heart, tell them Big Bear Butt wishes them all the karma they’ve got coming to them… and a special, extra kick in the ass just from me for irritating my friend.

One last thing.

We know three of them were from the same guild… and the thought runs through my head…

How do we KNOW that Ortherion was in it with them? What if he was kicked too?

I don’t know… but it takes at least three for a kick, and three were from the same guild, so I’m not budging on that point at all. If someone comes up to me, in all fairness, and says that Ortherion was kicked also, had nothing to do with it, and is hurt that I called him out with the other three, then I’ll certainly give him a chance to make his case, and if he’s convincing, I’ll be pleased to make a retraction.

Until then, well… tarred with the same feather, my friends. And if this spurs someone on to prove they had nothing to do with it… perhaps with screenshots, or by ticketing a GM from that server? All the better, all the better.

New project: Tanking through the levels

Alternative title: Patience my butt, I want to tank something!

I see a lot of questions from folks wanting just a little advice or guidance on tanking with a Bear in lower levels.

These requests don’t fall on deaf ears, the simple fact is that it’s been impossible for me to really know what to tell you.

It’s been years… really, many years, since I leveled a Druid.

Yes, I leveled Feral, but I mainly focused on Kitty DPS, in a time when speccing a cross between Feral and Restoration gave you reasonable soloing Kitty DPS, Bear survivability against around 3 mobs, and Nature’s Swiftness + Healing Touch was in almost every Feral build for a quick Bash/shift for Insta Heal and back to Bear combo.

I’m saying a long, long time ago, when Onyxia 40 mans and Molton Core were still the hot tickets, hehe. Should I mention my lawn, the luxurious nature of it’s grass, and the desirability of youths to remove themselves from it’s environs now?

This was back when you may have thought you could do anything, but when you got into raids, the only Druid specific loot had healing stats on it. Yep, the role according to Blizzard’s itemization for a Druid in raids was Healing, there were no Tree forms, and the only raiding Tier gear that dropped for druids had healing stats. Period.

Okay, sorry, as much as I like reminiscing about the good old days with you, and love hearing your stories about the good old days as well (No, really, I really look forward to your long comments, they are like mini-posts I get to read all day), that’s not the point.

The point is, it is nearly unbelievable how much the Druid class has changed since I leveled Feral.

The class has changed dramatically, the Feral spec has gone from being a joke to being highly respected, the gear choices have gone from non-existant to sweet Heirloom stuff, and the tanking opportunities have blossomed for at-level content with cross-server LFD in Azeroth.

There’s just no way I could do more than study, extrapolate from other people’s data, and guess, really. No first hand knowledge to share.

Well, hell, that ain’t gonna cut it.

So what I’ve been doing is playing a new Druid.

No, seriously, I deleted my old Druid alt and created a brand new Tauren Druid, specifically as a laboratory for tanky leveling purposes.

I don’t advise you to wait for my posts about it, as the alternative post title says, you don’t want to be patient and wait for some schmuck to tell you what to do, you want to get out there and have fun now.

But I’m intending to spend most of my time on this alt tanking in random LFD, in level appropriate content. And I’ll post about my results, bookmark it on the sidebar, and provide a venue for your comments and additional suggestions.

I am, at the time of posting this a level 16 Tauren Druid with the full range of Heirloom items.

For sake of reference, the best Heirloom items for you if you intend to actually Bear Tank your way up from 20+ and are twinking are:

There is also an excellent Ring, the Dread Pirate Ring, that is an Heirloom with solid Bear tanking stats. It comes as a quest reward for winning the new Kal’uak Fishing Derby, and I’m listing it after the above stuff because I ain’t got it. And, now that I’ve let the people on my server know about it (those that didn’t already), chances are good I never will, lol.

Now, I know that this list doesn’t help a damn bit if this is your first character. None of those items are available to you without a level 80, and the wherewithal to spend some Emblems on alts. But I’ll be doing my best to take that into account as I level.

My professions are Skinning, and Leatherworking. Dual gatherer Mining and Herbalism would be more useful to tanking low levels, but you can craft some good gear with Leatherworking, and I’ve never done LW before, so what the heck.

If you aren’t using Heirloom items, then I think if you look closely at seeking out items with high armor values, as much Stamina as you can get, followd closely by Agility, and afterwards Strength, then you should be doing very well early on.

Level 16 Bears have the following tools at their disposal;

  • Growl (ranged Taunt)
  • Maul (Single target high damage/threat, and you have a single Major Glyph slot available that you can use for Glyph of Maul)
  • Swipe (Bear) (AoE threat)
  • Demoralyzing Roar (enemy damage reduction)
  • Bash (single target stun)
  • Enrage (instantly generate 20 Rage, plus another 10 Rage over 10 seconds. Drops Armor value in Bear form at early levels a LOT)

Aside from Swipe, there aren’t any instant cast attacks like Lacerate or Mangle available at this level to establish single target threat. But these tools are still a very decent repertoire with which to start your Bear tanking travels.

This is going to be pretty interesting, but I’m fairly excited to see what comes of it.

When is a rockstar tank not a rockstar?

On the flip side to yesterdays whinefest, there is a perception that I wanted to touch on briefly for one of our fellow tank classes; the Paladin.

As gear has increased, you see a lot more tanks running and pulling like crazy. And to go with it, I see quite a lot of folks upset about how tanks are doing things in runs.

This post is really for the non-tanks, more than anyone else.

Please remember my friends, not all tanks are created equal.

The mechanics of tank abilities actually vary a great deal.

For Bears and Warriors, we use Rage as the power source for our special abilities. We start our first fight with zero Rage (or what Enrage gives us, work with me here folks), and as we take damage or deal damage, our Rage meter fills up. The longer a fight runs, the MORE Rage we have to deal with things, not less.

For Warriors and Bears, we are endurance machines. Once we get started, we build up steam and can go on and on forever.

Yes, yes, Bears may start slow, but we can go all night long.

Death Knights have that Runic Power stuff, and it refills pretty quick. 

But Paladins… Paladins use Mana.

Paladins start a fight at full force, all guns blazing. But the longer the fight goes, the limper they get.

One of the worst is if you’re overgeared for the Halls of Stone ‘Brann Bronzebeard’ chamber fight, as the mobs die too fast for Judgements to help much, and hit too lightly to really cause you to get heals and mana back. And it goes on and on and on….

My point is, for Warriors and Bears, we commonly leave a battle at full or near full Rage, and it decays slowly enough that we can pause for a few seconds to check mana and health levels of the party, dance a little dance, sing a little song, get down and funky, and still be great for the next pull.

We Bears can pop Enrage to stop Rage from decaying, we can Feral Faerie Fire non-elite mobs at a distance (like Skeletons in Culling of Strat) to stay in combat (Rage only begins to decay when out of combat), all sorts of stuff.

For Paladins, when they are using their abilities, their Mana is going down. And the Silencing shield throw in particular is a mana whore.

Now, Paladins have a couple choices on how to address this.

You could just sit down and drink after most pulls when you get low.

You can use Blessing of Wisdom, or Judge Wisdom instead of Light or whatever.

Or, you can go another route.

A Paladin has a Talent that lets their melee hits refresh the duration of Divine Plea. Divine Plea is an ability that gives MP/5, at the cost of reduced Healing.

If a Paladin tank pops Divine Plea at the start of a pull, then for as long as he’s whacking stuff, he’s getting mana back. If he’s also Judging Wisdom, then there is even more… but the mob has to live long enough to take some whacks to the head for the mana to get back.

Now, this goes along with another key way Paladin tanks get mana back.

Paladin tanks get mana returned to them when they get healed.

Let’s put these things together.

  • With the way the gear you can get casually has improved so dramatically in comparison to the Heroics we run, a well geared Paladin tank takes far less damage than before in a Heroic 5 man.
  • Less damage taken equals less healing received, and less healing equals less to no mana back.
  • Abilities cost mana to use. Less mana back means less abilities available to generate threat and hold aggro.
  • Long delays, or even delays of more than a few seconds between pulls means Divine Plea expires, and is on cooldown.

So, what will a smart, well geared Paladin do to adapt to the new situation, keeping their mechanics in mind?

A Paladin will seek to have as little time in between pulls as possible, and as many mobs on them at one time as possible, riding a ragged edge of danger.

A Paladin will want to take enough damage that heals will give back mana, but not so much damage that he’s in danger of dying and wiping the party. And the pulls will need to be frequent enough to keep Divine Plea going all the time.

So you get what we see a lot nowadays. A Paladin tank that pulls a group, establishes solid threat, and as soon as one or two of the first group are dead, run off to grab the next group, trusting in their thrown shield to Silence any casters in the next group and get them huddled close together and pull them back in.

You get continuous chain pulls.

A good Paladin tank will seem to ride a wave of chaos into the heart of the instance, chain pulling across the backs of dead mobs, and leaving the rest of the party to run like hell to keep up.

Now, if you know this going in, then you can be prepared to deal with it, especially on drinking whenever possible if you’re the healer.

As a Druid healer, I love going with a Pally tank, because my HoTs let the tank run ahead of me and still get heals, my Innervate keeps me moving in step if I get low on mana, and I can even Innervate the Paladin if things get out of sync for his mana recovery between pulls.

What I wanted to do was have this post to be my way of saying, when I’m talking about rockstar tanks, I’m not talking about anyone that rushes on ahead or pulls fast, or anything like that.

When I talk about a rockstar tank, I’m talking about one that does his own thing, without any consideration for working with the group as a member of a team.

A Paladin tank can chain pull and run ahead and do all the things he does, in an effort to perform his class well, and still watch the mana bars of the party, the health bars of the group, his own health level, and the aggro of the mobs around him (or her).

A Paladin tank can still mark kill orders to help provide the DPS, especially melee DPS, some guidance.

A Paladin tank can still watch his own health, and adjust his pace accordingly.

A Paladin tank can, in short, push when it’s all good, but remains aware of the status of the rest of the party, and works to make life easier on everyone. And if a mob goes after the healer, or there is chaos in the backfield, he is aware of it, and grabs it back. He’s not just focused solely on the next chain pull, oblivious to the world around him.

In most cases this does not require him to slow down in the slightest, except when the party really, really needs it.

In short, in my opinion, a rockstar tank isn’t necessarily one that moves fast, or pulls lots of things.

A rockstar tank is one that is in their own little world, doing their thing, oblivious to and without consideration for the rest of the team.

A rockstar tank just assumes the rest of the band will be there laying down the supporting music, and if they can’t keep up, they must suck.

Oh, and as a side note; I wonder how many tanks see how someone like the Paladin runs and chain pulls, and being ignorant of the mechanics involved, thinks that running that way is how every class should do it? I wonder, when you see a Warrior chain pull big groups of mobs and lose aggro on some of them, and things get crazy and people start dying, and then they blame the DPS for pulling, were they inspired by a Paladin tank, and just don’t understand we all do our bit in our own special ways?

You people make me bugnuts

Yeah, that’s right. I said “You people”.

Now, maybe you ain’t one of the actual people that make me bugnuts. Chances are, if you’re on a blog looking for advice, and it’s a blog that pretends to mostly talk about tanking, maybe, just maybe, you’re open to suggestions or are looking to improve your tanking skills.

If you are, God bless you.

You’re free to climb out of the bucket. Provisionally.

But holy shit!

Or, as Cassie said this last weekend, “Okay, all the morons and stupid little children are home from school for the holidays. Time to stop pugging.”

I had heard… I’d even sometimes seen… but never, never had I imagined the complete and absolute collapse of skill and sense in PUGs like what we dealt with last weekend.

Holy shit.

Just… how the hell? I’m not even talking about a single person, or people from all one guild, or even people from just one server. I’m sure we all expect to run into the oblivious on occasion. 

I mean an endless perfect storm of jerkwads.

Here is the worst run that I stayed in. I left more than a few that were just incredible fails of blamefests, but I stayed in this one, and it was amazing to the end. In a “surely at some point things will change, and I want to be there when it happens” kind of way.

Complete random PUG, zoned into Nexus, and I was queued as Healer.

I actually prefer to tank, I really do, but if I’m going to tank, I like to know who my healer is. So, usually in a pure 100% PUG I’ll go as heals.

I like to think that, hey, things may suck, but at least I know there will be good heals. Elitist? Arrogant? Sure, I’ll own that. All I know is I’ve carried some pretty amazing failpugs just by overhealing idiots that think Rogues can consistently Tank, and Hunters that don’t know what Feign Death is.

Sadly, I’ve also run in failpugs where I felt grateful that our Rogue COULD tank, because the actual tank was just a complete… no, let’s not go there.

But this one… I’m there as heals, and we zone in, it’s Nexus.

The tank instantly leaves.

You’re queued as a tank and you bail on Nexus? What a lazy prick. If you want something specific, queue for something specific. If you just don’t like Nexus… come on, the instance takes less time to run than the deserter debuff does to wear off.

And if you bail, it better not be out of fear… they don’t GET much easier than Nexus.

Anyway, we try for more, and I see that the Priest is queueing as Heals/DPS.

So I say, and hold onto your laughter, I say “I’ll tell you what. It’s easier to fill DPS. I’ll tank if you switch to heals.”


Off we go.

It’s a bit slow, but we do the first few pulls and it’s okay. My only initial concern is, I notice that we’ve got two melee DPS, and both are running up to stand next to me to fight. Not behind the enemy, but right next to me in the enemy’s face.

I politely, gently, quite considerately suggest that if they move behind the mobs to DPS, then the mobs can’t Parry their attacks, and their damage will go up.

Both of them are from different servers. Both of them are melee. Neither of them ever acknowledge I said anything, and neither ever moves behind the mobs. The whole run.

This sets the pace for the entire run.

  • Nobody kills the targets I assign.
  • Nobody moves behind the mobs if melee.
  • Nobody gets out of Whirlwind on the first boss.
  • Nobody kills the Portals but me.
  • Nobody gets out of the ice spikes but me.
  • Nobody moves to remove the cold debuff but me.

I offer advice, suggestions, they all fall on deaf eyes. They do nothing whatsover but spam buttons, move as little as possible, and get carried by me and the healer. The healer, who increasingly through the run is getting bitchy from healing people who are making no effort whatsoever to do things… well, as if they gave a shit.

At the end of the run, boss dead, longest damn Anomalous fight I’ve ever seen (since I’m the only bastard killing portals)….

And the DPS of the group is like this;

  • 2100+ DPS Me (the tank)
  • 1000 DPS
  • 1000 DPS
  • 900+ DPS
  • 125 DPS (healer)

Now, I have no problem with people having low DPS. As I said before, you don’t get much easier than Nexus. If you’re looking to learn how to play as a newly dinged 80, then Nexus is the place to be.

But if you are a brand new level 80 looking to play as DPS… what in the name of all that’s holy brings you to just completely phone in your gameplay? If you have no intention of making an effort, or paying any attention to the rest of the group, why are you even here?

Just flat out refused to get behind the mobs. As though I were somehow lying about the effects of Dodge. And ignoring kill order… not as if I ever had to worry about them pulling aggro, but it sure would have been nice if there was some focused DPS so that the mobs went down a little faster. You know, like the ones that can heal?

Sure, I know people are too leet to think that kill targets should apply to them, even after I ask that they follow my kill order. And I suppose that people are too special to listen to the advice of anyone else, like kill portals first, even when they’ve got a little skull on top, because hey, who the hell am I as the tank to tell other people what to do? I should keep my mouth zipped and be a nice little Mangle-bot.

But if you are so damn special you need to go do your own thing and to hell with everyone else…

If you really do know everything already…

At least cough up more than 900 DPS. Just sayin’.

Okay, now that I got that out of my system, here’s the real frustration from the weekend.

An ever growing tendency for tanks to cop an attitude.

Now, this probably sounds hilarious after the attitude I, the tank, just displayed on the blog. Bear with me a moment.

I’m serious. I don’t mean a nice ‘take charge and git ‘er done’ kind of thing that in bad lighting might be mistaken for leadership, I mean a pissy little 8 year old elitist prick kind of thing.

Tanks that can’t hold aggro, refuse to mark targets, pull too much stuff and don’t actually aggro any of it except their one main target and let the others run off willy nilly on everyone else… and then type all in caps “omigod the dps sux, healer u sux, piss off losers” and leaves group.

Or get into arguments, I kid you not, over who did what. And refuse to go further until they’ve blamed someone else for whatever it is. 

I never thought I’d see the day when a group degenerated into “Did you pull those mobs?” “No, you did!” “Did not!” Did so!”

Example; After Ick in Heroic Pit of Saron, those two groups of mobs heading up the hill with the Flamewraiths. Tank, no marks, no attempts at holding aggro on multiple spellcasters, just runs and guns into the center mob. Has no aggro on half the mobs, mobs run free, both Flamers are bursting, party wipes. Second shot, same as the first, party wipes. Third shot, same as the first, but the second group farther up the hill also gets pulled. Group wipes.

Tank stops dead, and begins to demand to know who pulled the other group. “Allright, who pulled that group? Who was it? I want to know who it was!”

Can someone tell me what earthly difference it makes? The tank is incompetent, and hasn’t attempted to change his style yet, so who cares if the second group was pulled or not?

Rogue says, “I dunno, maybe it was my Fan of Knives.”

Tank chews the Rogue out. Chews. The. Rogue. Out.

Next time, tank doesn’t do any different, but the DPS all focus on the Flamewraiths and then the main mob that chain casts Deathbolts, they basically get it done despite the tank.

Are you kidding me?

What next?

“I won’t tank this group unless everyone likes country music same as me.”
“I like country.”
“Me too, let’s go.”
“Wait, hey you, Hunter, what kind of country do you like?”
“Chris LeDoux rodeo style.”
“That ain’t the right kind of country for me, I vote to kick the hunter.”

Are we in high school now? WTF?!?

Cassie is doing Oculus. She’s grown to like Oculus. No, really, I kid her over it, but it’s true.

On the final dragon fight, flying high overhead, her group wipes.

The tank begins demanding to know who had a ten stack up on the boss and never triggered their ability to consume it. There were three yellow drakes on the run, Cassie on one of them. She prefers the yellow, she likes them and knows them well.

Me, I like green. Dot dot dot….

I kid you not, the tank (on a red drake) demands to know which yellow didn’t trigger their ten stack. He’s adamant, he saw a ten stack up and unconsumed, and by God, and he’s not going any further until he knows who it was!

And the DPS cater to this little tantrum, by chiming in saying, “Well I used MY ability, it wasn’t me!” “Well, I know I used MY ability, it wasn’t me either!”

Cassie, actually being an adult, isn’t even acknowledging this complete loserfest.

So the tank announces, “It must have been Cass then!”

The logic for this, apparently, being that she didn’t defend herself, so she must be guilty, and hanging her head in shame before the monitor.

The others gang up on Cass. “Yeah, it must have been Cass. You suck, noob.”

Are you really serious? 

In her second random heroic of the day, she got TOC.

The group mounts up and the talking starts.

The tank yells, “Geez, you did the long intro, you noob.” 

An argument immediately breaks out. Can you guess why?

The argument follows;

“I did not, I wasn’t even near the guy.”
“Wasn’t me, must have been player x.”
“Nope, wasn’t me, must have been Cass.” (who again was not participating in the argument).

This time she lost her patience for this type of behavior, informed them they were acting like children, and left the party.

These are stories not meant to showcase two individual runs, but to serve as an example of what I’m seeing in more groups in general, and with the tanks in particular lately… rude little pricks.

Tanks especially, the short group wait time seriously seems to be causing some of them to think their shit doesn’t stink.

That they really are, somehow, more important than, or more special than, other players.

If that’s you, this is your wakeup call.

I don’t give a good goddamn who you THINK you are, what your gearscore is, how short a wait you get, or if you think that the groups all revolve around your tiniest whim and if you are the slightest bit displeased, somebody better start soothing your ruffled feathers or you shall no longer grace the group with the awesomesauce of your presence.

If you really think that, as the tank, you deserve to have your ass kissed by the rest of the party if they expect to do a run, then I’ve got startling news for you, sister mary sunshine. And it’s NOT that you can save money by switching to Geico.

You deserve the same politeness and consideration as every other player that pays their money to play. No more, and no less.

If you’re going to be a dick right out of the starting gate, then you deserve much less.

I surely hope that this is a blip on the bubble. I hope that this is not indicative of a growing trend, and we’re going to see a lot more of this.

I’ll be the first to say, if you don’t like the people you meet in PUGs, then don’t pug.

But on the other hand, there are lots of great people that I know are out there, and if you don’t pug, you’ll never see them. I’d hate to have that happen.

Just yesterday, I had a great pug.

I had the best pug of the weekend when I healed a Culling of Strat with 3 people from my own server, strangers, from a guild named Vampires.

They were very, very good, and very, very nice.

The fact that we had a hunter that was afk 75% of the instance only shows how crappy the other pugs were that this one was my best, and also shows that just because one person is an idiot, it doesn’t mean the rest of the party should necessarily suffer for it. We four-personed most of the run, and it went well. Got the extra boss, etcetera. Joked a little. Good times.

I just hope, I really hope that things will return to a more polite, considerate feel. Or that the weekend was, as Cassie suggested, a fluke based on the holiday break.

We all play WoW. This should be something that serves to pull us together against the outsiders that think we’re crazy. We start stabbing each other verbally out of general pissyness, and things are going to get a whole lot uglier.

Regardless, Gabriel and his Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory does seem to feel more like a proven law than a theory at this point.

Intro to the basics of Bear Mechanics

For the brand new Bear tank, a few fun facts about bear tanking to help you understand why you do what you do, and how things generally work.

We’ll assume you visited my previous post about Specs, and are specced with the key Bear Tanking Talents.

This is in a nutshell how Bear tank abilities work;

  • Mangle makes your Lacerate (Bleed) do more damage, Lacerate (Rend and Tear Talent) makes your Maul do more damage.
  • Mangle and Maul both can apply Infected Wounds in a  target, slowing them down (Infected Wounds Talent).
  • Swipe is instant cast, and costs Rage. (It is affected by the global cooldown).
  • Swipe affects a 360 degree radius around the Bear.
  • Swipe can affect targets that are slightly outside your normal melee range at the moment. Keyword: Slightly.
  • The target of Swipe does not have to be physically in range for Swipe to activate; Swipe will still normally affect targets that are within your range.
  • Bears cannot Dodge targets behind them.
  • Bears can cast Swipe while moving.
  • Every time you successfully achieve a Critical Strike, you activate a personal damage shield/bubble. It lasts for one hit, regardless of how much the damage of the hit would be, and absorbs an amount based on your Attack Power.
  • Every time you successfully Dodge or achieve a Critical Strike, you get a small amount of Rage back.
  • You also get Rage from dealing damage, and from TAKING damage.
  • Growl is a Taunt that forces a targeted enemy to focus on you. It causes NO threat. All it does is raise your threat to be the highest your target sees. If your target has only seen you, it does nothing. If someone else has passed your threat on the target, it RAISES yuor threat level for that target to match.
  • Growl can miss.
  • Survival Instincts raises your maximum Health when activated. Frenzied Regeneration heals based on your max Health at the time it is activated. Casting Frenzied Regeneration immediately after Survival Instincts gives you bigger FR self heals.
  • Barkskin allows you to reduce all damage you take by 20% and can be used to survive attacks that would otherwise kill you. The Tier 9 4 piece bonus reduces the cooldown, further encouraging you to use it often.
  • Demoralizing Roar is an AoE ability that reduces a mob’s attack power (by 575 with talents), reducing the damage you take.
  • Feral Faerie Fire is free to cast in bear form, causes damage and a large amount of threat, and is a great rotation “filler” if you’re waiting on a global cool down.
  • Maul does not consume a global cooldown, can be added to other abilities in macro form so that it is always queued when you use Mangle or Swipe, for example, and when Glyph of Maul is used it strikes two targets. It does a very large amount of threat. Using Maul replaces a normal Rage generating attack, so using it when at low to zero Rage at the beginning of a pull can be dangerous without activating Enrage first.
  • Challenging Roar is not a true taunt like Growl – mobs will be forced to attack you for a short time, but it will not raise your threat level with them to be the highest. At the end of the effect, their threat list will be restored. While active, use high threat generating abilities to re-establish aggro on mobs. 
  • Enrage generates Rage, but the armor reduction applies to final armor value, not ‘base’ armor before multipliers. With a balanced group, this should simply mean that you take slightly more damage while Enrage is active, and this causes even more Rage to build up. Warning healers that you will be temporarily more squishy can be helpful.
  • Lacerate is a bleed that Bears can use and stack to 5. Not only is it good threat but when talented with Primal Gore it can crit and activate Savage defense, this is very useful when stunned as you can still mitigate some damage if Barkskin is on cooldown.
  • Demoralizing Roar is great to use right after a charge – not only does it reduce the damage you will be taking from mobs, but it also has more range than swipe which reduces the likelihood of a mob being missed by swipe and going after the healer.
  • Berserk is highly useful and has multiple applications. If you are facing mobs or a boss that frequently fears, popping Berserk after the pull can allow you to spam Mangle along with Maul repeatedly without interruption by Fear, allowing you to keep the boss in one place and establish a lot of initial threat. Additionally, as Berserk allows your Mangle to hit three adjacent melee targets in front of you, you can pop it to establish high initial threat on three targets when feeling stretched thin by solid DPS using AoE. 
  • Ignore what the people who don’t know Bear Tanks tell you… Bear Tanks fully Talented in Survival of the Fittest do NOT need Defense Rating at all. It is a useful stat, but is NOT required to become uncrittable. Blizzard likes it so much that they are giving every OTHER tank class a Survival of the Fittest type Talent in Cataclysm. 
  • Damage absorbed by bubbles, such as those cast by a Disc Priest, still gives the Bear that it is cast on Rage comparable to the damage that would have gotten through. Don’t ask your Priest friends to hold the bubble.

This list is purely for a short form “bullet points to be aware of” kind of list. Comments are welcome for one sentence tips to add to this list. Simply mention your tip in the comments, and I’ll add it to the list. Thanks!

I hope folks will offer tips on how these things can be used in day to day life.

I’ll kick it off, by mentioning that you can target a distant enemy spellcaster that will not come to you, and while he is targeted and outside your melee range, you can use Swipe to cause threat on near targets and Feral Faerie Fire to build threat on the distant target. Select your close Skull kill target, Maul and Mangle and such, then select the distant target and Grow if necessary, Feral Faerie Fire for threat. Assuming your group not doing massive AoE, the only aggro you have to stay ahead of on distant targets is healing aggro. If they ARE doing massive AoE and hitting the distant target… kill close spellcasters first, then kite the melee enemies over to the distant so he IS within range.

Patch 3.3 Bear Gear – Consumables

To round off the stuff that will help you prepare your Bear tank, there is just one last area to explore – temporary buffs.

Temporary Buffs are things you can bring with you to help get that last little bit of preparation for when you’re tackling the big jobs.

If you’re going into Drak’theron Keep or Utgardt Keep, generally speaking when you’ve got good gear, consumables are entirely optional.

If you’re facing a big challenge… well, we can always use a little boost at times, right?

1) Food

For Bear tanks, the best choice really is Blackened Dragonfin. If you are looking for the best tanking results, then Agility plus Stamina is it. It’s all I ever carry around for tanking food. If you’d like some alternatives, then a combination of Crit and Stam, or Hit Rating and Stam, or Expertise and Stam are all also good. Just, not nearly AS good.

2) Flasks or Potions


Flask of Stoneblood – increases maximum Health by 1300 for one hour. I’m sorry, that’s about the best all around Flask.


If you prefer to go with Elixirs, then there are some to look at;



3) Finally, other forms of self buffs.

There are two relatively new items that can be crafted that can be used by anyone that are of special interest to us.

Inscription: Runescroll of Fortitude – increases Stamina by 165 for all party or raid members for one hour. For when you don’t have a Priest in the party, can be used by anyone, and only takes 1 Snowfall Ink and 5 Resilient Parchment to make a stack of FIVE.

Leatherworking: Drums of Forgotten Kings – Increases total stats for all party or raid members by 8% for 30 minutes. For when you don’t have a Paladin in your group. 8% is a LOT, my friends. It’s crazy. It takes 8 Heavy Borean Leather and 8 Icy Dragonscale to make one, but’s it’s usable by anyone, and has 50 charges. That’s not a typo, it’s FIFTY charges.

Tanking technique update

A brief note to my fellow tanks about enemy AI.

There seems to have been a minor change to how enemy AI responds to the movements of the highest threat target.

It’s hard to see on one mob consistently, but if you grab groups of 3 or more, you should be able to see it clearly.

Previously, the mobs would tend to stay in front of you, and spread themselves out in a semi-circle. If you pulled them to you but remained moving forward for a moment, differences in lag would sometimes cause the mobs to overshoot your position, and you would have to do the bear butt waddle, stepping backward to gather them up once more in a semi-circle to your front. Once there, they would stay there.

Additionally, if you did a Feral Charge to a mob just after they had seen YOU, they would start moving in your direction while you overshot them… and depending again on lag, sometimes you would be facing away from them, and sometimes you would actually flip to face back the way you came, staying facing the mob and having them happily be facing you, away from the rest of the party.

Well, recently the enemy AI has changed a little. It’s very subtle, but what seems to have changed is the speed of their responsiveness.

The mobs will tend to move on you, getting behind you, and a simple backstep waddle will not always be a fast solution. They may do a variation on what we used to see with our Hunter Pets in BC, when Pet AI was first implemented to get the pet behind the mob, and you’d see your pet and the mob dance for a bit as each tried to get behind the other.

This may be intended, or it may be a bug, but I just wanted to bring it to your attention so that if you see the mobs getting behind you, you are prepared to move.

Don’t ever forget, having a 50% Dodge doesn’t do you a damn bit of good when the target is behind you. Targets behind you are unaffected by Dodge.

Oh, and FYI, that’s why those pseudo-rogues in the 10 waves of trash in Halls of Reflection suck so bad. Back attacks.

Have a happy!

Update: Veyska brings to attention a Blue post she linked to in the comments that the devs are aware of this, that it is a bug from 3.3, it’s not intended, and they’ll be working on it.

So, thank you very much, Veyska, for your help!