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Druids as tanks

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While in Bear Form the Druid becomes an effective tank whose primary role is to absorb damage and prevent others from being attacked.

The Druid Bear Form

The Bear Form

The Druid's [Bear Form] can be learned from druid trainers at level 15. That form is replaced at level 40 by [Dire Bear Form].

When a Druid shapeshifts into a bear the following happens:

  • The Druid is allowed to use various bear abilities like [Maul], Swipe (Bear), and [Growl].
  • The Druid's mana bar will be replaced by a rage bar.
  • The Druid's stamina is increased by 25%.
  • The Druid gains 370% more armor from every leather and cloth item they have equipped.
  • The Druid's bear abilities will cause extra threat.

A Druid lives off of his superior stamina in bear form and his agility. Agility is of particular importance because not only does it increase the chance to dodge, it also increases the chance to critically hit, which is a Bear form Druid's basis for generating rage and for proccing [Savage Defense] to block some of the incoming damage.

Advantages of a Druid tank

  • The [Survival of the Fittest] talent allows Druids to become immune to critical hits at level 80 without the need of additional Defense or Resilience from gear, thus allowing room for other enchantments such as +Stamina, +Agility, or +Attack Power
  • Although not an advantage nor a disadvantage, bear Druids are different from the other 3 tanking classes regarding stats. Generally a bear tank will have more hit points, a higher dodge chance, and slightly more armor than other tanks; but these extra stats are a balance for the inability to parry or wear a shield.
  • [Feral Charge] allows the Druid to quickly close in on the enemy at a very low rage cost. This ability comes in handy in many situations, allowing the Druid to instantly re-engage a mob after getting knocked back or when picking up a loose mob (even though [Growl] can take care of that too now).
  • Although bears can be disarmed, they only suffer the loss of the stats from the weapon, whereas another tank could temporarily lose abilities that require a weapon to perform.
  • Previously, a Druid using Swipe (Bear) was only able to hit 3 targets, thus greatly limiting the Druid's ability to AoE tank. However, version 3.0 has removed that limit, allowing Druids to AoE tank any number of mobs quite effectively.

Cataclysm

  • Now, advanced levels have some really great abilities that help survivability of the druid. Enraged regeneration has been changed to accomplish the effects of the old Survival Instincts, and alongside with the new Survival Instincts talent-ability, it grants the druid temporaly immortality, if he/she is battling at the given moment.
  • The AoE tanking (as it is on the Beta) is really much easier now, with the new AoE damaging ability, Thrash. The new instant version of [Maul] isn't bad, the difference isn't great.
  • However, the low-level tanking is a little more engaging than it was prior to patch 4.0.1, because the AoE damage is completely zero until lvl 19, when you can spend a talent point in one specific talent that gives a chance to a Swipe be unleashed whne you auto-attack an enemy.

Disadvantages of a Druid tank

  • One of the disadvantages of bear tanks is their limited set of last-resort options. However version 3.0 has dramatically reduced this issue. [Frenzied Regeneration] now restores a percentage of maximum health (instead of a fixed quantity as previous) and, if glyphed, increases healing received by 20%. Bears now also have the Survival Instincts (druid ability) ability which temporarily grants 30% of maximum health (like [Last Stand]). [Barkskin] and healing potions are now usable without reverting to caster form.

Threat Generation

Pulling

  • First and foremost, Druids are a hybrid class and are not limited to what Bear Form can do. The use of the caster-form spells are an excellent choice for establishing initial threat. The use of damage spells helps establish threat on a single mob, and the use of heal-over-time spells helps establish threat on an entire group. It also gives your healer some downtime where she or he will not need to generate threat by healing.
  • In Bear Form, mobs can be safely pulled from the maximum range of [Faerie Fire (Feral)], which now does spell damage. If this is the method of choice to pull a group of mobs, [Demoralizing Roar] is a good next move as it will get the attention of the whole group as they run up to you, but beware its area of effect: it will aggro neutral mobs if present.
  • In situations where the pack of mobs you are about to pull contains both casters and melee and there is no way to take advantage of Line of Sight, it is often better to use [Feral Charge] and start Swipe (Bear) right away. Although this is not usually an issue, make sure not to pull nearby groups by getting too close to them.
  • Try pressing [Maul] before charging/engaging the enemy mob. That way, as soon as you are in range of the mob, you may Mangle/Swipe and not have to worry about Maul until after you've established your initial threat. This also reduces the amount of time your party must wait to begin attacking the current mob, as this method generates a lot of threat very quickly.

Maintaining threat

  • Against single targets and bosses; [Mangle], should be used first and as soon as it is available. [Faerie Fire (Feral)] should take second priority, and [Lacerate] should be used to fill in the gaps between the two. [Maul] should also be used as often as rage permits, while leaving enough rage for the primary attacks. Swipe (Bear) used to be known as a secondary attack and shouldn't be used on single targets, but as of 3.1 Swipe (Bear) threat generation was increased significantly and is now used as part of a normal rotation. If, and only if, the mob or boss doesn't summon reinforcements or fear, [Berserk] can be used to increase damage output and therefore increase threat generation. Any off-tank, regardless of class, should watch threat so they do not pull aggro from the main tank.
  • Against multiple targets, the use of Swipe is highly recommended. Also of great use is the [Glyph of Maul], which allows your Maul attack to hit two targets instead of one; this will help boost your overall damage output and help to keep aggro on more than one mob. The effect of the glyph is not under your control and there is no way of telling which target it will hit. Berserk can also be used in the same way, hitting 3 targets for a large burst of damage; it has the same drawback as the Glyph of Maul.

Various aspects of Druid tanking

A Druid in [Dire Bear Form] is a very viable main tank, and an above average offtank, due to much of their threat coming from damage.

Mitigation, avoidance and the defense cap

Since Druids cannot parry or block as such, they must rely on their armor and higher dodge values to mitigate and avoid physical damage and their large hit-point pool to provide a more comfortable buffer for their healers. As such, they must specialize their gear differently from other tanking classes to play to their advantages. Consequently agility, stamina, and armor become the most important stats for feral Druids.

As of patch 3.1, druid tanks have gained the [Savage Defense] ability which allows them to absorb a certain amount of damage from melee attackers, effectively giving them a block. Since the ability procs based off of critical strikes, agility is now more important than ever for druid tanks.

Druids have the highest dodge per agility ratio of all playable characters, making agility an important avoidance booster for them. However, dodge comes on a diminishing return scale since 3.0 (like armor), so it doesn't have the same value as it did previously.

A unique advantage of feral tanks is that they do not need any extra defense to become immune to critical strikes; [Survival of the Fittest] takes care of that. This means that Druids need not concern themselves with the defense cap. Defense still adds a small chance to dodge an attack or be missed, but is worse point for point than agility until about 65% dodge.

Healing a Druid tank

Healers' general consensus on healing a Druid tank is commonly "less spike damage, but more mana required". Druids tend to be hit more often, lacking the overall avoidance of other tanks, however their armor and stamina make them more able to withstand very large physical-damage attacks.

The Druid's lack of a viable shield-wall ability used to make them harder to heal than a protection warrior during situations when a short-duration large-damage-output period could be anticipated (i.e., a boss enraging). However, they have since gotten a few more emergency button options with the introduction of Wrath of the Lich King. Scroll down to the Emergency Buttons section to read more.

Snap aggro

Druids have both a single target Taunt and an AOE Taunt. In times where a Druid must generate a lot of threat in a short amount of time, the use of Mangle and Maul together can establish a high amount of threat within the period of one attack. It should be noted that both of these abilities can crit, generating around double the threat.

Another useful tool for Feral Druids is [Faerie Fire (Feral)] which requires no rage and assists in initial aggro establishment as well as allowing a Druid to perform a ranged pull without having to shift out of Bear Form and use a mana-based ranged spell. Faerie Fire also has the benefit of not having any travel time, which allows for better control of when a mob will be pulled.

Knockbacks

Feral Druids can almost immediately recover from many knockbacks using [Feral Charge].

Fear

Some encounters, notably High King Maulgar, Nightbane, and various trash in Gruul's Lair and SSC, are made easier with fear-eliminating abilities. Groups with a Druid main tank in these encounters must either use [Fear Ward] or Tremor Totems. Druids can also use fear-dispelling trinkets such as [Insignia of the Alliance]/[Horde] or use the ability [Berserk], although these are all on relatively high cooldowns.

Disarm

Druids are affected less by being disarmed than other classes as their attacks are made with claws and teeth. This means that often they may be affected by the Disarmed debuff, but it doesn't change their attack power or prevent them from using their special attacks. This can be rather useful in encounters such as General Rajaxx. On the other hand, sometimes the Disarmed debuff is enough to trigger an effect, as with the Ethereal Thief mobs in Karazhan.

Emergency buttons

Druids have many more options for emergency buttons than before since Wrath of the Lich King. Some abilities and items no longer remove feral forms, making them viable emergency buttons.

  • [Frenzied Regeneration] can restore 30% of a Druid's current maximum health with the [Glyph of Frenzied Regeneration]. This ability is on a 3-minute cooldown. It should be noted that Frenzied Regeneration consumes a lot of rage, so a bear using it will be constrained to use their threat-generating moves less, particularly [Maul].
  • [Barkskin] (now usable in feral forms) can be used to reduce damage taken by 20% for its 12-second duration and is on a 1-minute cooldown. Set bonuses can increase the uptime to as much as 25%.
  • Potions and Healthstones can be used in feral forms without the need for a "Bearpot" macro, that most Druids were unwilling to use, because of the possibility of being killed while in humanoid form.
  • [Lifeblood](Herbalism) can be used in feral forms and will provide you with 3600 health over 5 seconds at the max level, for those herbalist Druids.
  • [Nature's Swiftness] and [Healing Touch] can be used in a dire situation, but most serious tanking Druids won't have the required 21 points in the Restoration tree to do so, and it is not recommended in anything more than a normal 5-man, as raid bosses would surely deal enough damage to kill you before you can return to Bear Form.
  • [Enrage] can be considered a defensive cooldown with 4 pieces of the Tier 10 Lasherweave set. Though a weaker version of [Barkskin], it has the offensive component of rage generation, talented damage increase [King of the Jungle], and is on a separate cooldown.
  • Many of the Druid's emergency buttons are NOT on the global cooldown, allowing them to be macroed together into a supreme "OH SHIT" button, such as:
#showtooltip Survival Instincts
/cast Survival Instincts
/cast Frenzied Regeneration (Most Druid tanks have this glyphed to increase healing received by 20%)
/cast Barkskin
Also, a mitigation trinket may be added here, or possibly Lifeblood if you are an herbalist Druid, which is also off the GCD
This is a must-have macro for Druid tanking as it will increase your maximum health, heal you for large amounts of HP, and mitigate extra damage while doing so. Every healer will love you for this macro when the situation gets sticky. Also, even if one of the spells in this macro is still cooling down, the others can still be cast with this same button.

Weapon enchants

Even though Druids couldn't previously make use of chance-on-hit weapon enchants, this has been changed in patch 3.0 making many of them viable for Druids to use.

With the 3.0 changes, [Mongoose] (chance on hit 120 agility for 15 seconds) now seems to be the most popular feral-tanking weapon enchant. Even with the diminishing returns on agility, a raid-buffed t7.5-geared feral tank can still expect to see an increase in dodge of 2.0% (before diminishing returns) when Mongoose procs. However, the chance on hit may make this option less appealing to some. For a more reliable component to dodge, the old [+35 agility]enchant remains a viable option.

Polymorphing bosses

When a tank is polymorphed, any targets they held aggro on will run wild. Druids are immune to polymorph while shapeshifted, so they have an easy out on those types of mobs/bosses. This comes in handy with encounters that [Polymorph], such as: Jin'do the Hexxer, Talon King Ikiss, and Blackwing Spellbinders in Blackwing Lair. However, shapeshifted Druids are not immune to the Shade of Aran's Mass Polymorph ability, but, since that boss cannot be tanked, feral Druids should be in cat form.

Tanking-related talents

Both the Feral Combat and the first few tiers of the Restoration talent trees have talents which improve tanking ability in some way.

Feral Combat

  • Tier 1 - (5/5) Ferocity - Reduces the rage cost of Maul, Swipe, and Mangle by 5.
  • Tier 2 - (3/3) Feral Instinct - Increases Swipe damage by 30%.
  • Tier 2 - (3/3) Thick Hide - Increases armor contribution from leather items by 10%.
  • Tier 2 - (2/2) Savage Fury - Increases the damage caused by Mangle and Maul by 20%.
  • Tier 3 - (2/2) Feral Swiftness - Increases dodge chance in Bear Form by 4%.
  • Tier 3 - (1/1) Survival Instincts - Temporarily grants you 30% of your maximum health for 20 seconds.
  • Tier 3 - (3/3) Sharpened Claws - Increases Critical Strike chance by 6%.
  • Tier 4 - (3/3) Predatory Strikes - Increases your Attack Power by 150% of level (120 Attack Power at level 80) and by 20% of any attack power on your equipped weapon.
  • Tier 4 - (2/2) Primal Fury - You gain 5 rage points for every critical strike.
  • Tier 4 - (2/2) Primal Precision - Increases expertise by 10.
  • Tier 4 - (2/2) Shredding Attacks - Reduces the rage cost of your Lacerate by 2.
  • Tier 5 - (1/1) Feral Charge - Allows the Druid to charge every 15 seconds.
  • Tier 5 - (2/2) Brutal Impact - Decreases the cooldown of your Bash by 30 seconds.
  • Tier 6 - (3/3) Natural Reaction - Increases dodge chance in Bear Form by 6% and returns 3 rage points every time you dodge.
  • Tier 6 - (5/5) Heart of the Wild - Stamina is increased by 20% in Bear Form.
  • Tier 6 - (3/3) Survival of the Fittest - Increases all stats by 6%. Also reduces the chance you'll be critically hit by melee attacks by 6% (thus granting critical-hit immunity against level-80 bosses). In addition increases armor contribution from leather items by 33%.
  • Tier 7 - (1/1) Leader of the Pack - Increases the critical-hit chance by 5% for all ranged and melee within 45 yards of the Druid.
  • Tier 7 - (2/2) Improved Leader of the Pack - All characters benefiting from the Druid's Leader of the Pack heal 4% of their maximum health and gain 8% of their maximum mana when they achieve a melee or ranged critical hit. This effect cannot trigger more than once every 6 seconds per player.
  • Tier 7 - (3/3) Primal Tenacity - Reduces the duration of fear effects and the damage taken while stunned by 30% in cat form only.
  • Tier 8 - (3/3) Protector of the Pack - Increases attack power by 6% and reduces all damage taken by 12%.
  • Tier 8 - (3/3) Infected_Wounds - Maul and Mangle cause an Infected Wound, reducing attack speed by 10% and movement speed by 25%. Stacks up to 2 times. Lasts 12 seconds.
  • Tier 9 - (1/1) Mangle - Instant, high-damage ability that also increases damage from bleed effects (Lacerate is a bleed effect but maul also has it's damage increased) for 12 seconds.
  • Tier 9 - (3/3) Improved_Mangle - Reduces the cooldown of Mangle by 1.5 seconds.
  • Tier 9 - (3/3) King of the Jungle - Increases your damage by 15% while using Enrage.
  • Tier 10 - (5/5) Rend and Tear - Increases the damage of your Maul attack on bleeding targets by 20%.
  • Tier 11 - (1/1) Berserk - Causes you Mangle to hit up to 3 targets and have no cooldown. Also removes Fear.

Restoration

  • Tier 1 - (5/5) Furor - The Druid gains 10 Rage every time they switch into Bear Form.
  • Tier 2 - (5/5) Naturalist - Physical damage done is increased by 10%.
  • Tier 3 - (3/3) Intensity - The Druid gains 10 additional rage instantly upon using Enrage.
  • Tier 3 - (1/1) Omen of Clarity - Each of the Druid's damage/healing spells and auto attacks has a change of reducing the mana/energy/rage cost of the next ability by 100%.
  • Tier 3 - (2/2) Master Shapeshifter - Increases damage done by 4%.

3 common PvE tanking builds are 0/60/11, 0/58/13, and 0/55/16

Video Tutorials


See also

External links