Druids are very well known to do a variety of roles depending on the talent tree assigned by their player. They can turn into trees and do some wicked raid healing, they can turn into cats that do some nice physical DPS, then there’s the Moonkin or Boomkin (which isn’t a pleasant sight when dancing) for some massive magical DPS, and there’s the bear which we all know can take on the role of tanking. Though they are not particularly popular in the tanking department, they usually do a pretty good job in raids and dungeons.
Now that Cataclysm is just months away (we hope), what can we expect from our fearsome furry feral tanking friend as new abilities and stat systems are introduced in the game?
Druid tanks have a couple of changes that range from “huh” to “whoah!” It’s just a matter of how druid tanks utilize these abilities to their advantage.
Now we all know by now that most stats that we’ve become attuned to are being scraped out or being integrated to the main stats. Block Rating, Dodge Rating, Hit Rating and attack power are either down the sink hole or combined to the core stats such as Strength, Agility, Intelligence, and so on. This makes gearing pretty easy but a little mindless to most of the players.
Along with that, Bear druids will also have Rage Normalization just like the Warrior class. Rage Normalization standardizes the amount of Rage gained for every attack made or attack received. Bear tanks would have to rethink their strategy in pulling and maintaining aggro during an encounter.
A couple of abilities will also be added to the Druid in general, let’s check ‘em out and see if they’re useful for our Bear form:
Thrash (Level 81): Thrash deals damage and causes all targets within 10 yards to bleed every 2 seconds for 6 seconds. The intent here is to give bears another button to hit while tanking. Talents will affect the bleed, such as causing Swipe to deal more damage to bleeding targets. 5-second cooldown. 25 Rage.
Thrash is basically a filler for the Bear tanks to utilize coming from comments that Druid tanking has become less dynamic and boring. It’s a cool ability that gives the druid more abilities to grab aggro from a mob, especially during boss-encounters when adds spawn. However, the cost of 25 Rage can become a bit of a let-down considering Rage farming getting complicated. Some Druid tanks might consider other options rather using this Thrash (no pun intended. Lol).
Stampeding Roar (Level 83): The druid roars, increasing the movement of all allies within 10 yards by 40% for 8 seconds. Stampeding Roar can be used in cat or bear form, but bears might have a talent to drop the cooldown.
Pretty neat ability for the tank and the melees if they want to rush in the boss all at once, though it may cause trouble since the tank is still trying to establish threat. From the 3-minutes cooldown, it’s not as appealing as it looks in the beginning, but once you spend a talent point or two (we hope not), you’re free from the long CD. This ability is more PvP oriented but can still be of some use for PvE.
Wild Mushroom (Level 85): Grows a magical mushroom at the target location. After 4 seconds the mushroom becomes invisible. Enemies who cross the mushroom detonate it, causing it to deal area-of-effect damage, though its damage component will remain very effective against single targets. The druid can also choose to detonate the mushroom ahead of time. This is primarily a tool for the Balance druid, and there will be talents that play off of it. No cooldown. 40-yard range. Instant cast.
Basically a DPS ability. It is possible to use it for threat generation, but doing so might pull unwanted adds. Better leave this ability to DPS experts.
In a nutshell, these abilities may be DPS-driven rather than a gift for the tanks, but again, it’s just a matter of how to use them.
The bear form of the druid will also be seeing their own unique Mastery Bonuses:
Damage Reduction: Pretty much a no-brainer here, but more details have yet to be released.
Vengeance: Similar to other tank classes, Vengeance is an ability that allows the tank to keep up with the DPS so as not to lose threat to high-DPS team members. Vengeance allows up to 10% increase in Attack Power and works once the tank receives damage from an opponent.
Savage Defense: Although there are no further information given by Blizzard, most likely it will be a buff that increases defense and allows the tank to do damage once they’ve been hit, a little more like the Thorn ability.
Druid tanks have a lot of changes in store for them come Cataclysm. The stat changes and Rage Normalization will definitely be something to think about when doing a pull and a rotation. Ability wise, we won’t be seeing much for our beloved bear tanks as they continue to become a lackluster for new players or new tanks. We have yet to see the Druid tanks step up to the plate and manage keep up with the other tank classes, especially the Paladin.