Polar Bears: Episode I – Northrend’s Got Talents!

Now that my Warrior is hitting Naxx on a regular basis, is exalted with Hodir and has nearly all the goodies out of Heroic Instances that I had on his shopping list, I’ve been feeling the call of the wild, urging me to return to my Feral roots and level my Druid, Urago, who has been sitting idle in Shattrath City for many moons now. I wanted to be able to provide Bear Tank insights here anyway, and the best way to do that is to experience it first hand, right? So I’ve been hitting Howling Fjord the past couple of days, gathering Goldclover and killing Vrykul along with my Resto druid buddy Rivanu. So far we’ve not run into any major challenges with my AoE tanking abilities and his HoTs, we just keep hitting and healing until things sparkle. I’ve been doing a lot of experimenting with builds and here’s what I’ve finally landed on:

Urago’s Talent Build

I’ll go through each of my choices here as well…

BALANCE TREE: There’s really nothing beneficial for a Feral Druid to be found in here. Sorry Boomkins. Keep on dancin’ on those mailboxes though.

FERAL TREE (60 pts): Go figure, the bulk of your points are going to be spent in this tree, whether you go for more of a Bear build, a Cat build or even hybrid between the two (as I’ve half-heartedly tried to do, though I admittedly slant far more toward Bear.)

TIER 1
Ferocity (5/5): Maul, Swipe, Mangle. These are your 3 biggest weapons when tanking, particularly when tanking multiple targets. Saving 5 rage each is a huge benefit, especially while levelling. In an end-game tanking setting where you’re more likely facing infinite rage scenarios, I might not go this route. You also save energy on your Cat Mangle, which is great for DPS mode.
Feral Aggression (0/5): My standard build philosophy is Survivability > Rage Management, so why Ferocity over FA? I’m building for 5-man content mostly. If I ever raid, I might be more inclined to respec FA as given the 2 choices, FA clearly provides more survivability. But for my purposes, I would rather conserve Rage on my 3 most used abilities for the time being.

TIER 2
Feral Instinct (3/3): +30% Swipe Damage? Hellz yeah! AoE tank away baby.
Savage Fury (2/2): +20% Mangle Damage? Woot! Great for single target tanking OR DPS’ing, and combine w/ Berserk for AoE happiness. Mangle is our Shield Slam and we must give it love accordingly. You give a Warrior +20% to SS and they’ll wet themselves with glee.
Thick Hide (3/3): No-brainer. You don’t get block, you don’t get parry, you don’t get plate. Dodge, Armor and Health are all you have. Your armor multiplier no longer applies to bonus armor or rings/trinkets/etc. This is a bear-form must have.

TIER 3
Feral Swiftness (3/3): Remember what I just said about Dodge?
Survival Instincts (1/1): Bear Stand. Warriors are loaded with “OH S#1T!” buttons. We get one. Take it.
Sharpened Claws (3/3): Aside from being a prereq for a talent or two in tier 4 you might want, 6% added crit is great for threat and will be even greater for Mitigation (What? Yes!) if the current 3.1 PTR changes end up making the live 3.1 release.

TIER 4
Shredding Attacks (0/2) – Not so hot for Bear. If you’re wanting to specialize in Kitty DPS then by all means (but you’re on the wrong site, my fine feline friend.)
Predatory Strikes (3/3) YES PLEASE! It’s also nice when they make 1 must have talent a pre-req for an even better must have talent. I wish whoever created the Destrolock tree felt the same way (Soul Leech Fail!)
Primal Fury (0/2) OH! Controversy abounds! No Primal Fury? Well, like I said, my build priority is Survivability > Threat Gen > Rage mgmt. Sure it could be argued that Rage mgmt. and Threat Gen. go hand in hand, but I think I’ll get more bang for my buck out of where I spent these 2 points, which I’ll get to much much later.
Primal Precision (2/2): 10 Expertise. NOT 10 Expertise Rating. 10 Expertise. I haven’t looked.. I don’t know how much Expertise we’ll have available from gear, but if I can drop 2 talent points to give myself over 1/3rd of the Expertise I’ll need at 80 to hit the Dodge cap and really cut down on parries? Sign me up.

TIER 5:
Brutal Impact (2/2): More controversy! Some say this is a pvp talent. I say Bash now carries a SEPERATE interrupt component from the STUN component. So even if a mob is immune to Stun, they can still be affected by the interrupt. Interrupting spells is a crucial skill to have in my tanking opinion, and knocking 30 sec. off that cooldown is a big help.
Feral Charge (1/1): Gotta have it for those pulls where you want to keep the mob tanked right where he/she is. Plus.. you can use it in combat w/out the need for an additional Warbringer like talent, and you can fly by kicking it off in mid-air, which is great on knockback boss fights.
Nurturing Instinct (0/2): A cat-form only talent and even then I’m not sure I’d recommend it. MAYBE if you’re a heavy pvp’er.

TIER 6 (The greatest tier in all of Feral Beardom!)

Natural Reaction (3/3): 6% MORE dodge. For those keeping track at home, that’s a 10% Dodge increase through talents alone. Duh.

Heart of the Wild (5/5): 20% more STAMINA. That’s not Health. That’s STAMINA… the kind that scales with cool things like Blessing of Kings. There are no excuses for not having this.

Survival of the Fittest (3/3): Even with the upcoming 3.1 nerf, this is still a must have. If you don’t know, we’ll likely be losing a bit of the armor bonus here but getting it back in the form of a crit. based “shield” effect elsewhere. Even w/out the armor bonus, this is how we get to be uncrittable in 0 +DEF gear, so you have to have it anyway.

Leader of the Pack (1/1): Your DPS will love you. The aura from this is a really great boost and you’ll be a hit in all your parties.

Improved Leader of the Pack (2/2): Now your healers will love you too. Think of it as a Replenishment buff for Green bars. You’re going to want to crit on mobs anyway… why not get some health back? The mana gain is inconsequential except maybe in PVP.
Primal Tenacity (0/3): This USED to be really good in PvE when Fear was a massively devastating (and rather often utilized) mechanic. Now this is really more of a pvp talent and not worth picking up compared to what else is available.

TIER 7

Protector of the Pack (3/3) Survivability! Also note, it’s no longer based on the number of people in your party, which was a wierd mechanic anyway.
Predatory Instincts (0/3): Again, a Cat thing. If I’d had more points, sure. It’s nothing personal.
Infected Wounds (3/3): Nasty! It turns your Maul, Mangle or Shred (cat) into a sort of mini single target Thunderclap in addition to the damage they’re already inflicting. Great debuff especially on those wacky hard-hitting melee boss types.

TIER 8

King of the Jungle (3/3): Here’s where I spent those 2 points that I didn’t put into Primal Fury. The damage boost while Enraged is 15%. That’s really nice for when you’re in a DPS race, getting a strong lead on Threat, or are just tired of staring at Boss Face and want to make it die quicker. Make sure your healer can keep up w/ the increased damage you take while enraged and you’ll be fine.
Mangle: Dur. It’s our Shield Slam. You’re going to need this and you’re going to want to keep its cooldown constantly spinning. Whatever rotation you use, this is your DPS AND Threat cornerstone.
Improved Mangle: I’m puzzled by the number of Druid Builds I see that exclude this. Even discounting the energy savings in Cat form(which is a nice bonus for those times when you have to DPS) you’re taking one entire GCD out of your rotation in between Mangles. More Mangle uptime means more threat for you and more bleed debuff on baddies which is win all the way around. I can’t imagine not wanting this.

TIER 9

Rend and Tear (5/5): 20% more Maul damage on a bleeding target. Here’s the deal, unless you just ignore Lacerate altogether (which you shouldn’t cause keeping 5 stacks of it going at all times w/ the Mangle debuff always on the mob really adds up fast) chances are REALLY good that somebody in your party is going to make the mob bleed, even if it’s not you, even though it SHOULD BE. Maul is our Heroic Strike. In an infinite rage scenario, all your normal swings should be Mauls. If you glyph your Maul (which you SHOULD) to hit 2 targets, this becomes an even better tanking tool because it helps both single target and AoE.

TIER 10

Berserk (1/1): Mangle hits 3 targets and has no cooldown (GCD still applies) for 15 seconds. I don’t think I need to explain how good this is.

RESTORATION TREE:

TIER 1:

Improved Mark of the Wild (0/2): Unless you’re the only druid in your party, Restos nearly always pick this one up so you won’t ever need to cast yours. If you ARE the only Druid in your party, it might be worth it.
Nature’s Focus (0/3): Why are you healing? No. Bad Druid.
Furor (5/5): The days of powershifting may be gone but you’ve got to get in 5 points in this tier somewhere. Might as well be on something you’ll actually use.

TIER 2

Naturalist (5/5): +10% Damage in Bear or Cat form. WIN!
Subtlety (0/3): Doesn’t help you at all
Natural Shapeshifter (0/3): If you PVP a lot or are just so in love with Master Shapeshifter that you can’t live without it, OK. Otherwise, pass.

TIER 3

Intensity (0/3): Used to be an OK pickup to boost your Enrage, but now your points are needed elsewhere.
Omen of Clarity (1/1): Still great for Feral despite the fact that they actually now made it work for Resto and Boomkin, too. If you’re a MT Bear in an end-game, infinite-rage scenario, then you don’t need this and you can put this point elsewhere. Otherwise, it’s great and you want it.
Master Shapeshifter (0/3) I tested this one a lot. In the end, I was not blown away by the +4% Bear Damage increase. If you are focusing heavily on Cat DPS, then the 4% Crit booster is very appealing and you might want to go 15 into Restoration to get this talent along with OoC.

And there you have it, my thoughts on building a Feral Druid Tank (with some DPS thrown in for utility) in the world of 3.08. I’ll discuss any 3.1 changes in the forums once they’re official. Next up, my thoughts on Feral Tank Gear for lvl 80

Comments

  1. For 5-man content this is fine, but the second you set a paw in a raid (where you’re not the main tank) you’re going to be wishing that you had taken some of those kitty talents over the more sketchy bear choices.

    Improved Mangle is a threat boost – but tank threat is so insane that getting in one extra mangle every 30s is hardly going to make or break your rotation.

    The 30s bash enhancement is likewise expendable in raids – so many other classes have much more frequent interrupts.

    Shredding Attacks is absolutely crucial if you intend to do any sort of reasonable DPS, and Predatory Instincts isn’t that far behind it.

  2. Thanks for the input Karthis. Admittedly my goal here was Tankability primarily with a bit of utility sprinkled in, but still heavily slanted toward Bear form. I may do some playing around with swapping Imp. Mangle and BI for SA and PI to see how it goes.

  3. The only difference I have in my current raid tank build vs what you show here is trading Brutal Impact for Primal Fury. When offtanking and on AOE, it makes a huge difference to your rage pool. When tanking 10+ trash mobs (or offtanking) every swipe fills your rage bar. Thirty seconds off bash is still far too long to be usable. Like Karthis said, leave the interrupting to the DK’s, Rogues and Shammies out there. Only way I would take Brutal Impact in a pve build is if it reduced the bash cooldown to 10s or less.

  4. @Karthis

    I’ve found that when I slap on my cat gear, that shredding attacks isn’t wholly necessary. I don’t really use shred since it costs so much energy, instead I manglespam between rakes to keep my combo points coming. It has the added benefit of simplifying my rotation for cat. Obviously no cat build should be without it, but for a bear build I can do without it.

  5. Thanks for posting this. I recently respecced my druid to a feral tanking build and it worked out pretty similar to what you’ve shown here. My druid’s only 71 so he hasn’t filled in all his talents yet.

    My druid is my first real attempt at tanking. Before the respec he was resto, then balance. If you don’t mind giving a little advice with a rotation for quick threat generation, I’d appreciate it. I haven’t done any grouping with the bear yet but the rotation I’ve been using just to get into bear fighting is mangle – lacerate 5 stacks – maul when available. Throw a mangle in every CD.

    As I said it’s my first shot at tanking. Any advise on bear threat generation would be appreciated.

  6. Well, I’ll add this – I’m still lvl 73 on my Druid but I did go ahead and respec dropping BI and Imp Mangle and getting some points in Shredding Attacks and 1 rank in PI so far. I have to say I’m very impressed with the DPS difference between BC and Wrath. I HATED being relegated to Kitty duty in 1-tank fights in BC because it was nothing more than Manglespam until my 5 pt combo was up which bored me to tears. Shredding Attacks really does allow for a nicer, more elegant rotation that cranks out the deeps. I churned out 960 DPS at 73 for a 5-man run last week using Mangle > Rake > Shred > Shred > Rake > Rip as my primary rotation, subbing in Pounce (Trash) and Ravage (Bosses) as a 1st strike when stealthed and finishing w/ FB instead of Rip when the mob was getting close to death. It was fun and I was about 100 DPS ahead of the BM Hunter who was 2nd on the Recount chart. Very impressive stuff.

  7. Also, Berserk will let you get through that entire rotation twice before you have to wait for energy to make your next move, so that’s tons-o-fun.

  8. @Radford

    Thanks for asking! Bear rotation really all comes down to what you’re doing. If you’re on a boss, then Mangle > Lacerate > Lacerate > Lacerate > Mangle > Lacerate > Lacerate will get you to 5 stacks. At which point it’s not as much a pure rotation as it is a prioritization. Mangle needs to constantly be ticking. Once you have Lac stacked to 5, you can just reapply when necessary to keep them bleeding, which frees up a nice amt of range to convert all of your swings into Mauls which will do a ton more dmg and a lot more threat. I’d also smack them with FFF whenever it’s off cooldown as long as you don’t need that GCD for Mangle or to top off Lac. Keep your Roar debuff up on them too and juggle until dead.

  9. …And now for the 2nd half of that that I forgot to add before submitting.. If you’re tanking groups of mobs, drop Lac and throw in Swipe. Swipe is awesome. And, if you have Glyph of Maul, your Maul will be hitting 2 targets as well, keeping them glued to you. For multi tanking you want to keep Mangle on CD on your primary target, keep Maul lit unless you get below about 40 rage or so, and then otherwise just spam Swipe and keep your Roar debuff up. If things get really hairy and you think you’re going to lose some mobs, pop Berserk and spam Mangle. That’ll all but guarantee 3 mobs stay put. If you have more than that then use Tab/Mangle to spread it all around. And if one breaks off anyway, remember that Growl is now ranged and can even be used if the mob is behind you. Just growl them back to you and drop a couple of mangles on that one and carry on.

  10. @ Radford

    You’ve got the right idea for the rotation. I would strongly recommend you get glyph of maul immediately. Although if you do you have to be cautious of using maul around CC’d targets, I found that it’s mostly a non issue, and it helps a lot with ae threat. When I’m ae pulling, I just switch out lacerate for swipe, and keep tab maul and mangling. Keep up demo roar unless a warrior is shouting, and throw in Faerie Fire whenever you have an open cooldown or are waiting on rage. Faerie Fire is free threat.

  11. As always, great posts.

    Also, 6th Picture of the 6th Folder game… tag, you’re it!

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