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Feral Tanking: Just Grin and Bear It.

>> Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Table of Contents:
1: Talent Builds
2: Stat Priority
3: Gearing Up
4: Enchants
5: Playstyle
6: Useful Macros
7: Your Role in a Raid

1: Talent Builds
A few talents that should be pointed out that have a huge impact on a Feral, besides the obvious core talents, are Nurturing Instinct and Natural Shapeshifter. These 2 talents are vital for different purposes, Nurturing Instinct being a great talent for extra threat from self-healing at the beginning of a pull. And Natural Shapeshifter (in combination with Furor, which every Feral should have) is needed for powershifting to maximize dps. I will discuss more on powershifting later in the "Playstyle" section. These are a few sample builds (with descriptions) designed to fit the different playstyles of each individual Feral out there:

The Average Bear:
This build is very well balanced, allowing for high-end brutal Bear tanking plus the devastating claws of the Cat for maximum dps. It sacrifices an incredibly small amount of survivability by having only 3/5 in Feral Aggression in order to obtain Natural Shapeshifter maxed on the Restoration talent tree. It lacks Nurturing Instinct, as this talent isn't absolutely necessary for tanking anyways.

The Momma Bear:
This build in almost entirely based around Bear Form, and has little room for talents that improve the Kitty within a Druid. However, even though Natural Shapeshifter isn't included, it doesn't mean that the Druid's Cat Form isn't useless with this spec. Nurturing Instinct 1/2 is included to help with initial threat at the beginning of a pull.

The Bear Cub:
This build is mostly designed for 5-man dungeons, however it can be used for raiding. The Kitty Form with this spec is extremely powerful, but lacks a hard hitting burst finisher due to 0/5 points in Feral Aggression. This is something that can be worked around, especially when Cat Form will hardly be used when doing 5-mans.

The Curious Kitty:
This build is completely focused around that precious Kitty Form that most Ferals wish they could use more often in PvE. No tanking with this build, since that Bear becomes very soft without Thick Hide. If you are in a raid core that doesn't have the need for a dps that can shove tank gear on and become a meat shield, then this is a great spec.

The Beast:
This build is obvious, PvP your heart out and rip your enemies to tiny shreds! Feral Druids lack a slowing effect in TBC, but it doesn't stop them from having an incredible amount of control and mobility to make up for it. Pounce, Maim, Dash, Feral Charge, Bash, Nature's Grasp, and Cyclone all have high potential when a Feral dominates their opponent by making use of quick shapeshifts with superior mobility while dealing large amounts of damage.

2: Stat Priority
I will only list the stat priority list for the fellow Bears out there, since this topic is designed to help Feral tanks eager to learn the spec. Some things that everyone should know about a Feral Druid's mechanics are that through your talents and spec, bears do not need to worry about defense rating, some might tell you other wise but you don't need to worry about it. Now with that being said, upping your def is not a bad thing as it does help you survivability a bit more then normal but you dungeon/raid tank without building up this stat. Agility gives more dodge chance per point than Dodge Rating, in addition to also giving crit chance and a small amount of extra Armor. Also, Druids are capable of achieving the armor cap for players once they are in T6. The Armor soft cap is 31,672 against trash mobs (level 70) and the hard cap is 35,880 against bosses (level 73). The soft cap should be aimed for immediately, but until you reach the hard cap, Armor increasing buffs such as Inspiration and Ancestral Healing will help fill the gap. Armor is a high priority since druids aren't capable of being immune to crushing blows (150% damage). Expertise is good for every tank, since it increases threat and reduces the amount of parry-hasted attacks you receive from a boss. The expertise soft cap is 26, which negates all dodges but leaves parry on the table still yet. Don't worry about trying to reach the expertise hard cap (eliminating parried attacks), it's impossible to reach in TBC. Though you won't be aiming for hit cap, I figured it would be good to state that the hit cap for druids, along with all other melee classes and hunters, is 9%. Classes that dual-wield can go over the hit cap without wasting stat points since it's only their soft cap, however anything that doesn't dual-wield will waste stats if they go over the cap. Here is the stat priority list:

1: Defense Rating - don't worry about it, bears are good in this stat naturally
2: Armor - Your eventual goal is to be Armor capped, so aim high.
3: Agility - This stat tends to be put lower in the focus but I think that is a big mistake. Agility will give you dodge rating and the more you dodge, the less damage you take. If you doubt, take some time and try stacking more stam instead (which is what some bears do). You will notice that healers like you a lot more if you stack agility.
4: Stamina - This stat is a must after bringing up your agility. Remember, you don't need a ton of health if they can't hit you or can't hit you very hard.
5: Expertise Rating - Reduces the chance that the enemy can dodge or parry you, increasing your threat and survivability.
6: Dodge Rating - Though not as valuable as Agility, it's good to have on non-leather gear.
7: Hit Rating - Not hitting an enemy can cause a load of problems, primarily loss of threat.
8: Crit Rating - Good for boosting threat and maintaining a healthier rage bar.
9: Strength - Threat increasing stat that scales with raid buffs, making it very attractive.
10: Armor Penetration - Great threat boost, this will be on many high-end pieces of leather gear.
11: Haste Rating - Should be generally avoided if you have a low amount of Expertise Rating.
12: Intellect - Increases the amount of times you can shapeshift during a fight, not as important for tanking as it is for dps.

3: Gearing Up
This is a short section that I will use to simply outline the type of gear that you will want to aim for as a Bear. One of the first things that you'll want to do is obtain an entire set of leather gear that has bonus Armor (Armor text will be in green). A great set of pre-raid gear for a Bear is the Heavy Clefthoof set. Every tier set for Ferals has bonus Armor, along with many other leather and cloak raid drops. Another priority in gearing up is to obtain a "Feral Staff" or a "Feral Mace". These are weapons that specifically give bonus attack power in your Feral forms. A good starter weapon to aim for is the Wildcaller, which is a quest reward (both Aldor and Scryer appropreate rep quests are available) in Shadowmoon Valley. Now then, one of the hardest parts about gearing a Feral Druid is obtaining necklace, cloak, rings, and trinkets which do not have Parry Rating, Block Rating, or Block Value on them. These stats do absolutely nothing for a Bear, so it should be common sense to avoid them at all costs. A good trinket to shoot for when first beginning the gearing process is the Badge of Tenacity, since Armor and Agility are such attractive stats. And finally, since a Druid is one of the 3 hybrid classes (other 2 being Paladin and Shaman), you will be needing a Relic. Druids use Idols in the Relic slot, and the best one possible to get as a Bear is the famed Idol of Terror. This is your easiest best-in-slot item to obtain as a Feral Druid, only costing 20 Badges of Justice. When socketing your gear with gems, the best meta gem to use is either Relentless Earthstorm Diamond because of the Agility or Powerful Earthstorm Diamond for the extra Stamina.

4: Enchants
Something that many people may not know about enchants for a Feral Druid is that anything that affects your weapon damage (+7 weapon damage for example) or chance on hit procs (Mongoose for example) will not work in Feral forms. So, that narrows down your weapon enchant selection to only one option. Also, I list Boar's Speed as the best boots enchant because it's only 3 Stamina less than Fortitude and makes up for the loss with a minor run speed increase. Here is the list of best available enchants for a Feral Druid:

Head: Glyph of the Defender - Revered with Keepers of Time.
Shoulder: Greater Inscription of Warding or Greater Inscription of the Knight - Exalted with either Aldor or Scryers respectively.
Cloak: Greater Agility - 310 Enchanting.
Chest: Exceptional Stats - 345 Enchanting.
Bracer: Fortitude - 350 Enchanting.
Gloves: Superior Agility - 300 Enchanting.
Leggings: Nethercleft Leg Armor - 365 Leatherworking.
Boots: Boar's Speed - 360 Enchanting.
Ring: Stats - 375 Enchanting (self-enchant only).
Weapon: Major Agility - 360 Enchanting.

5: Playstyle
Not every Bear or Kitty plays the same. However, every one of them knows what their job is - ripping everything to shreds that gets in their way of epic loot! Bears operate much like a Warrior when tanking, having to prioritize debuffs on the enemy while maintaining a good amount of threat. So, without further ado I present to you the priority system:

Demoralizing Roar > Lacerate > Mangle > Faerie Fire

During tough situations, a Bear doesn't have many options for survival. Depending on whether you are being directly attacked, you may be able to shift into caster (don't worry, you won't be out of Bear Form long enough for anyone to notice) and use Barkskin. Also, Barkskin can be used directly before a pull to reduce damage for a few seconds. Bears also have Frenzied Regeneration, which is a decent heal and the only survival cooldown available without shifting out of Bear Form. The downside to using this ability is it consumes rage, so you don't want to use it unless you know that you can maintain threat for the few moments that it will cause you to be rage starved. Rage starvation is a very bad thing, so be kind and feed the Bear as many hits as he or she can eat.

As a Kitty, a very intriguing part of the playstyle is the art of powershifting. By shifting out of Cat Form and then back in when your energy supply hits rock bottom, a Feral Druid with the Furor talent is able to gain 40 energy for the cost of a little bit of mana. This should be done between energy ticks, so that you don't lose 20 energy while in caster form.

6: Useful Macros
Ah, my favorite part of this game's mechanics. Macros are very important, and depending on your playstyle, you may find yourself with a full list of macros on your Feral Druid before you know it. When making a macro that you wish to use trinkets in, you can simplify it by using numbers 13 and 14 since they are the corresponding numbers for your trinket slots. Here are some very good macros that I have used for a long time:

#showtooltip Dire Bear Form(Shapeshift)
/cancelaura Dire Bear Form
/cast [nomodifier] Dire Bear Form(Shapeshift)

#showtooltip Cat Form(Shapeshift)
/cancelaura Cat Form
/cast [nomodifier] Cat Form(Shapeshift)

/cast [form:1] [form:3] Faerie Fire (Feral)(Rank 5); [noform] Faerie Fire

/cast Mangle (Bear)(Rank 3)
/cast !Maul

/cast Lacerate

/cast [stealth] Pounce; [nostealth] Maim

/cast [stealth] Ravage; [nostealth] Shred

/cast Tiger's Fury
/use 13
/use 14

Also, you can use macros to instantly switch Idols for use with different abilities. Equipping an Idol of the Raven Goddess prior to shifting into an affected form allows the bonus to remain, even after equipping a different Idol while in that form. Here's the ones that are valuable for Ferals:

#showtooltip Dire Bear Form(Shapeshift)
/equip Idol of the Raven Goddess
/cast Dire Bear Form(Shapeshift)

#showtooltip Cat Form(Shapeshift)
/equip Idol of the Raven Goddess
/cast Cat Form(Shapeshift)

#showtooltip Mangle (Bear)(Rank 3)
/equip Idol of Terror
/cast Mangle (Bear)(Rank 3)
/cast !Maul

#showtooltip Mangle (Cat)(Rank 3)
/equip Idol of the White Stag
/cast Mangle (Cat)(Rank 3)

#showtooltip Lacerate
/equip Idol of Ursoc
/cast Lacerate

#showtooltip Rip
/equip Idol of Feral Shadows
/cast Rip

#showtooltip Rake
/equip Idol of Savagery
/cast Rake

#showtooltip [stealth] Ravage; [nostealth] Shred
/equip [nostealth] Everbloom Idol
/cast [stealth] Ravage; [nostealth] Shred

7: Your Role in the Raid
There are a few reasons why a Feral Druid is such a desired spec to have in a raid:

1: You are the most versatile spec in the game, capable of fulfilling 2 roles in a raid using the same spec.
2: Leader of the Pack, it's what every melee and hunter dps will absolutely love you for.
3: Mangle applies a debuff that increases bleed damage by 30%, which rogues and warriors in the raid will enjoy mildly.

In addition to these perks, playing a Feral is very fun and rewarding. And of course, the number 1 rule of raiding as a Feral Druid: You must always remain in a Feral Form for fear that your clothes have disappeared somehow... Buffing, battle resurrection, using Barkskin, drinking a potion, or mounting up are the only excuses for breaking this rule!

If you enjoyed this post, check out our other guides in this site.

Originally posted by: Scruff


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