Tuesday, October 28, 2008

[Druid] Bear FAQ for 3.02/Wrath

Over on Maintankadin, one of my favorite posters put up a great FAQ on tanking for paladins in 3.0.2 and Wrath. I've not seen anything like that for bears - so here's my try. Please comment, ask questions or clarifications and I'll do my best to update it.


Q: What's the point & purpose of this FAQ?
A: Short & simple answers for people who want a quick fix. You don't need to have followed the beta changes since day one. This is for those who didn't read everything on EJ, didn't pour over changes and just want to know what the heck is going on.

Q: You're wrong! My research says blah!
A: Maybe. And if so, point it out and I'll correct it. But I warn you - I do a lot of research and I'm good at it.

Q: But what about 5-mans? Or PvP?
A: I don't care. This is for bears who are MTing 10 and 25-man content, especially 25-man. It is probably suboptimal for other choices.

Q: You smell, and I hate you!
A: Enjoy the WoW forums then. I get flamed over there all the time too.

Q: You don't talk about trash mobs, enchants, or detailed gear selection!
A: Nope, this is quick and dirty. I've talked about professions, gear choices, various good stats and other things elsewhere.

Q: You're just repeating stuff on EJ, Rawr, and Toskk's forums!
A: Largely yes. That's kind of the point - I do the reading so you don't have to.

Mechanics & play changes:

Q: What rotation do I use?
A: For max threat, Mangle->FF->Lacerate. For max DPS, lacerate to 5 stacks, mangle->swipe with refresh on lacerate to keep the stack up. Maul always, no matter what. At high levels of AP swipe beats lacerate on a single application but does not beat a lacerate stack - but those levels of AP aren't really applicable until post-Naxx.

Q: Wait, Faerie fire? Really?
A: Yep. Faerie Fire does damage based on AP, has a high amount of threat - higher threat than lacerate or swipe at lower levels of AP - and it can crit (though it uses spell crit).

Q: I get the 'more powerful spell is in effect' when I use FFF.
A: Use it every 30 seconds; this is a bug that is probably going to make it in.

Q: When do I use Berserk?
A: At the beginning of the fight and then whenever you can, unless you have to save it for a fear break.

Q: I just got crushed.
A: Not by a raid boss. Mobs that are 4+ levels higher than you can crush. But in a raid you'll be fine.

Q: So the magic number for defense was 156 defense rating or 103 resilience rating before. What is it now?
A: 0. As long as you have 3 points survival of the fittest you won't be crittable by raid level mobs.

Q: So no defense then? Or resilience?
A: Yep!

Q: My macro for drinking pots in forms doesn't work any more - how do I fix it?
A: Druids can use potions and other consumables in forms now, so there's no need for a shift to caster to drink then shift back macro. You can do it if you want a bit of extra health, but it's not required.

Q: Wow, I've got all these cooldowns now - how do I use 'em?
A: With the glyph, you've got three ohshit buttons - Frenzied Regeneration, Survival Instincts and Barkskin. And you've got Berserk to break a fear if you need. Barkskin should be used every minute unless it's a fight with predictable spiky damage (like Brutallus tank swaps). Try using Survival Instincts with things like Shadowmoon Insignia for extra health. Try using Frenzied Regen with any healing effects you can do.

Q: Pots in forms, more ohshit buttons...any other big changes?
A: Swipe hits infinite targets!

Q: So I can solo SM in 5 minutes now?
A: Yep, really easily as a matter of fact.

Q: Anything else?
A: Growl has a 20 yard range. And Faerie Fire does damage, but I covered that. And bash now does a spell interrupt.

Q: My powershifting macro is broken!
A: Another not a question, but powershifting is nerfed TO THE GROUND. It doesn't work at all. Don't use it.


Q: Where's all my armor?
A: Gone, baby, gone. No more extra armor on leather items.

Q: So what, we're supposed to wear rogue leather?
A: Yep.

Q: That sucks!
A: Tell me about it.

Q: What rogue leather is best then? It's got all these weird-ass stats...
A: The only stats that help mitigation/avoidance that are on rogue leather are agility, stamina and expertise. Everything else only helps threat.

Q: But doesn't that mean PvP gear has the best stats for tanking then?
A: Yep! At least it has the best mitigation/avoidance stats. The PvE gear is better for threat.

Q: So great...I have to pvp now, don't I?
A: Nope. Sunwell gear is fine for tanking Naxx, as are the lvl 80 quest blues and non-heroic items you get. Threat isn't really a big concern, nor is survivability right now. If you want to get an edge I'd recommend getting enough honor/arena points to get the PvP belt/boots/bracers, which are better than anything that drops in T7 and which should be pretty cheap.

Q: What about the non-leather items?
A: Armor! Yep, lots of armor there. Extra armor is the best stat for mitigation by far; you should have it on your rings, trinkets, amulet, weapon, and extra armor on your cloak.

Q: Man, there's all this shitty defense on all that gear. Why don't they make druid-itemized gear?
A: They hate the druid. But it's okay. Defense is not bad at all, and is only a bit less effective than dodge at higher levels of dodge. Strength is nice for threat. Just try and skip the stuff with parry rating or block rating. Though really - if it has armor on it, it is 4 bare. Armor is so good that anything with armor that isn't leather is automatically a possible choice, even if the rest of the stats suck. Armor and spellpower wouldn't be a bad trinket for a bear.

Q: How about gems?
A: Stamina scales better, but dodge helps too. Don't go overboard with agility like you used to, but definitely do have some agility in there. Agility right now is slightly worse than dodge for giving dodge%, but it also gives armor and threat so it ends up being better.

Q: You have mongoose on your tanking staff?
A: Yep! Mongoose and all 'on hit' enchants works on bears now, and Mongoose is much better than +35 agility on the staff for bears. This is especially true when hitting multiple mobs, as mongoose has a chance to proc per hit on a mob. Right now it's the best enchant for weapons.

Q: Okay...what about other enchants?
A: In general, go for stamina and agility, then avoidance.


Q: I can't take all the talents I want!
A: That's not a question, but...you need the Core Bear Talents. Beyond that it's a lot of personal preference, but you must take those. And you won't be able to take everything you want.

Q: Does infected wounds stack with other slows? Should I take it?
A: It doesn't stack with thunderclap or judgments. And it doesn't work on every single boss or mob (especially robots and elementals, in case you're wondering). If you're doing 10-mans, you should take it as you're probably the only one there who can do the slow. If you're doing 25 mans, probably not unless you find yourself the only guy on a mob. It's easy for you to apply, but a prot warrior will be tclapping all the time - and there's a lot of points to spend in that tree.

Q: What about Feral Aggression? Does it still suck?
A: At level 70: Yes, it still sucks.
A: At level 80:It doesn't suck as much as it used to. Demoralizing roar is equivalent now to demoralizing shout at level 80, and with 5 points in FA it's as good as a warrior's talented demo shout. It's a bit easier for a warrior to get the 5 points to put into their shout, but talk with your other tanks and see who should do it.

Q: What about natural shapeshifter/master shapeshifter?
A: Master shapeshifter would be good if it were only 2 points, but it's essentially 5. And natural shapeshifter is worthless. There are a lot of other places to spend 5 points for more threat/DPS.

Q: Primal Tenacity?
A: Nope.

Q: Intensity?
A: Not for raiding. Lots of other talents to take in its place.

Q: Predatory Instincts? Shredding Attacks?
A: all cat-only, really.

Q: King of the Jungle?
A: One of the best cat talents, but only meh for bears. Nice for an early threat lead but not all that useful otherwise. And threat really isn't that big of a concern right now. Still, get it if you plan on doing any decent amount of kitty.

Q: Furor?
A: Honestly, I'd go with 3/5 furor and 2/2 Imp MotW. You can always shift a couple times to get the furor bonus if you need.

Q: Damnit, just tell me the spec you'd use!
A: Fine. At 70: 0/61/0
I know I just said don't use KotJ, but it's that and bash or 4 points in furor, and furor really isn't worth it. The 10 points to get naturalist skips out on too many important talents, and you want to play with your new toys. Helps a bit for cat too.
A: At 80: 0/60/11.

Q: What should I go with for leveling in WotLK?
A: Go with 0/50/11 and then put points into Berserk, Rend & Tear, and finish off as you'd like to. Or go 0/61/0 and just AoE grind.

Other choices:

Q: What Inscriptions?
A: At 70: Frenzied Regeneration and Maul.
A: At 80: Frenzied Regeneration, Maul and Growl if you really want, Rip or Mangle otherwise.

Q: What professions?
A: See this post - the best are leatherworking, then enchanting/inscription/jewelcrafting, depending on your needs and wants.

Q: If I'm taking all these bear talents, how do I dps as a cat?
A: Manglespam! With improved mangle, the 2pT6 bonus and Rend & Tear a bear can just go cat and manglespam. Only shred on an omen of clarity proc (assuming you took it), and otherwise keep up rake, savage roar, rip and ferocious bite when you can. And manglemanglemangle. Even without the 2pT6 bonus this is pretty good damage.

Q: Wow...you're a sexy theorycrafter. You're so smart when you explain things. Where can I find the places that you stole this from more information?
A: EJ forums on WotLK Feral druids - the big one.
Combat Ratings at 80, which talks about diminishing returns
Beta forums, which kind of suck right now
MMO Champion, which has the latest updates on specs and talents
WotLK wiki, where I got most of the info for professions, enchants, gems, and talent changes
Rawr, the best damn optimizer on the planet.
Unbearably HoT on Demo shouts and on gear at 80
Of Teeth and Claws on Glyphs
Toskk on DPS as a kitty (and the Druid wiki in general)

Plus a whole ton of places that I can't be bothered to mention.


Joel said...

Thank you for this information - I'm new to bear tanking so I really appreciate it.

Karthis said...

Damned fine post, as always, Kalon!

Felkan said...


I assume your cat leveling spec assumes 4T6 otherwise I'd take iMangle before spending points on RnT. At least that's what I read recently in the EJ thread.

With 2T4 and other T4-ish gear, I find that lvl 72 leveling mobs (Ogres above shat) are nearly dead by the time you reach 4CP making a crit FB worthless. In fact, sometimes another white hit or two does them in without a finishing move at all. And with the new changes to Furor you are no longer punished for self-healing making iLotP less important for leveling. Plus TF/KotJ are always available if you are caught without energy.

I assume I'll want to tank 5-mans while leveling so I'm going to take this 0/50/11 build when I start leveling. Pickup Berserk and back fill RnT.

If later I learn I can tank 5-mans with T4-ish gear and a mostly cat spec, I'll change. Until, then, I'll take NR and IW for increased survivability. IW isn't too bad for solo cats either.

Kalon said...

Hey Joel - thanks for commenting, and glad it helps :) Let me know if you have any other questions.

Karthis, thank you :)

Felkan - hey. :)

It doesn't assume 4pT6 or anything of the sort; it just assumes that you'll either be manglespamming your way to freedom or you'll be doing the pounce-shred-mangle-FB type of deal. Rend & Tear isn't that special for this specifically; you can go with predatory instincts too. The main reason it's there is that it helps tanking damage tremendously, it helps with bear AoE farming thanks to the maul glyph, and it helps if you want to shred.

Honestly, the more I play with it the more I want to just AoE farm my way around. Bear AoE farming is amazingly fast, durable, and requires very little downtime. It can even handle casters fairly well now. This is part of the 4pT6, I reckon. :)

On your spec - it's an interesting notion to take infected wounds over protector of the pack, but it makes sense if you're the only tank. Hadn't really thought about that. I would probably take protector of the pack over improved mangle; you don't need the threat boost at that point and 12% less damage, especially from magic, really helps - and your cat stuff won't be that affected.

You really can tank the first instances with T4 gear without any real problem. You probably won't upgrade a lot of the T4 until 75ish.

Felkan said...

I was trying to build a spec that was mostly cat with a touch of bear to handle regular 5-mans from 70-80. I saw IW as a bear/solo cat talent, whereas PotP is just a bear talent. I'll pickup PotP on the way to 80.

I must not have the bear AP/crit (or the patience) to do AoE leveling. I need to try it a few more times, but I don't like it. Even if it is effective. A co-worker swears by it, but I think his main is a pally so he is use to it.

Anonymous said...

hey thanks thats a great little writeup!

dont feel too bad about the "rogue" leather. I'm assuming its gonna become known as "leather wearers" leather and we'll do just fine with the stats blizzard give us. And if not, they'll fix it.

I'll be going with a pure bear levelling build, I think. Bear damage is just too much fun these days. I wonder if other people have that experience... and if cat dps going to be a dying spec...?

Race said...

Well I for one am glad you are finally acknowledging your odor.

You really need to wash off those rotten tomatoes people chuck at you after you tell another lame joke.

BTW The threat on KJ is pretty sexy. I was windshocking every cooldown with a warlock tank.

Copey said...

I’m a bear, in mostly T4 and badge gear (but still have my clefthoof set for tanking). I don’t have any of the high level badge gear yet from Smith Hauthaa, but I do have 71 badges with two weeks to farm Kara to get another 40 or so before the release of WOTLK. My question is with my 100 or so badges should I get the feral pants, or the feral chest? I currently wear the clefthoof chest and pants for both bear and cat. Or should I even bother at all?

Second question is about enchants. At first I was hesitant to re-gem or re-enchant anything since the patch was coming, even though it would have helped my damage. Now I keep hearing that the stuff I’m wearing now might last me until mid 70s or possibly later, depending on how much I run instances. You say Mongoose is the way to go, yet it is still an expensive enchant, and I don’t want to re-enchant something (for 500 gold) if it’s going to get replaced at level 71 or 72. I currently have Earthwarden for tanking (with the +35 agility on it) and Terestian’s Stranglestaff for dpsing (with no enchant on it since I don’t dps that much). Should I drop the coin on one of these (or possibly both) to help me level and run instances?

One last quick question about druids. With the new itemization, and us wearing rogue gear, am I going to be able to get down to having one set of gear for feral dpsing/tanking, and one set for resto/spell dpsing? I recently compiled all my resto/boomkin gear into close to one set, but as a feral still have a full set of gear in my bags depending on what I’m doing. Kara for example, sometimes I’ll main tank, and sometimes I put on my full dps gear when only one tank or no tank is required. I’m tired of hauling around 9 pounds of crap in my 10 pound bag.

Kalon said...

Hey, Copey - good questions!

If you're going to get one badge item (and you don't already have the Staff of the Forest Lord) I would go and get that. It'll be the best overall for leveling. If it's between the legs and the chest, I'd go with the legs; I still use Tameless Breeches in Sunwell, and they'll be good tanking pants for a while.

Though the things that will last longest (until 80, most likely) are the badge ring, badge cloak and the Badge of Tenacity. Okay, that was a lame joke.

I wouldn't bother putting mongoose on any staff you have right now unless you're swimming in the mats (our guild has a ridiculous amount of void crystals, for instance, so it's cheap for me). One of the first things you can get is pretty awesome for bears, and there are plenty of good ones for cats in there too. That being said, as it stands right now mongoose is the best enchant in WotLK for bears, so if you can find some cheap void crystals now's a good time to get 'em.

As to one set of gear - not likely. You can do it if you want, but the real problem isn't the gear itself, it's the enchants on the gear. Even if you can find pieces that are ideal for both (which isn't always the case anyway; cats want hit, agility, strength, AP and crit; bears want stam, agility, expertise) you still are likely to enchant them and gem them differently.

Some pieces should be reasonably interchangeable - the gloves were in BC, for example. The legs sort of were a lot of the time, and you might be able to do the chest and possibly the boots. But the head, shoulders, bracers and belt are all likely going to be very different. Sorry to disappoint. :(

Felkan said...

Make sure you have both the Exalted Kara ring and Ring of the Stalwart Protector, as they are the #4/5 best bear tanking rings in the game even after LK is released due to their high armor, +sta and dodge or def. Which means they will last you a long time.

I'm picking up my Ring of the Stalwart Protector (60 badges) tonight and should be Exalted with The Violet Eye tonight as well. Not sure what I'll do with the remaining 40 badges or so...

I was going to get DPS pants, with my 100 badges, but I think the ring will "last longer" making it a better value.

Anonymous said...

I do wonder about using pvp gear to pve. When you say its better than anything in t7, do you mean a particular combo of stats are better, and another combo are worse? There has to be some trade off for all that unused resiliance. GC just posted a comment about this subject comparing 2 pieces side by side; with the pvp piece you get extra health, and less threat. Stamina's a pretty boring stat. And armor? Give me a break :P I love armor as much as the next feral, but enough already. I have way too much stamina and armor. I'm ready to play around with something new, since Blizz are clearly moving the spec in a different direction. Why fight it?

Anyway, recommending pvp to get the edge for bear tanks sounds a bit outdated for wrath. If you like pvp go ahead. But if you dont, I dont believe you'll have any measurable edge in hardcore raiding, and you may be gimped, as per GCs comments (http://blue.mmo-champion.com/2/12065146837-ghostcrawler--any-news.html)

You know all this I'm sure. That's why your comments on pvp gear sound like personal preference rather than objective fact.

(I dislike pvp - I should at least own up)

(offtopic) I often wonder if we dont all take theorycrafting too seriously (me too). I mean, if you play with good players, dont you find wow easy? And that extra little bit of juice from hours of theory? Dont you find it eclipsed by skill & quick reactions - knowing how to work with other players? And if you dont know players like that, all your theorycrafting goes in the wipe-bin anyway?

Kalon said...

Hey, anonymous - thanks for coming by. :)

On pvp vs. pve gear - I did a lot more analysis than that one comparison, and Toskk did as well. He reiterates the point in this topic a few posts down. The robes are by far the best item in PvE due to the expertise. But if you look at something like the belts, boots and bracers that are available in PvE, they're not even close to what you get for PvP. In those cases you're giving up sometimes as low as 10 AP for 20-30 stam and/or agility. In that circumstance, it's not a really small change.

In any case, Toskk's data and my data both point to the same thing: PvP gear in a number of slots has better time to live than PvE gear does at the same ilvl. To me, that's "better" for tanking and is pretty objective.

As to theorycrafting and taking it seriously - well, that's something I actually enjoy. I like crunching the numbers and figuring out exactly how to tweak the best performance out of my character. That's why this blog was created in the first place - to explore those things about tanking. Does it matter that you could have another 10 stam on that one piece? Doubtful. Will you not be included on raids if you don't have that pvp gear? Probably not a problem.

So why do it?

Because I like to. Simple as that. And if it also gives you a slight edge on progression-level content, awesome. I've done the best I can for my group, and hopefully that will make a difference.

Copey said...

And thank goodness you do Kalon. Because I love to play WOW, but am not interested in crunching the numbers. It makes me so happy to find blogs like this and others that I can look to and then say "Wow, if I should get this enchant or that gem instead of what I was thinking.". Because of blogs like this I was able to make a full resto to tank switch, and now in my group of friends I'm the one they call on if they want something tanked.

Kudos man.

Copey said...

Also, it gives me something to read while I'm at work!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting the piece by piece comparison by Toskk. I took a look and its true for some of the pieces, but I tend to side myself with GCs later statement:

"...we want tanks to contribute damage. The days of tanks stacking nothing but effective health and relying on the rest of the group for dps are over. You might find an enrage timer that you can't hit because your tank's dps is so paltry."

I tend to feel a lot of old skool druids are hanging out in the past, and not giving enough room for Blizzard to move the spec in a different direction. Toskk works very diligently, but if his "time to live" criteria are no longer so important then the conclusions are questionable. Haste contributing to parry contributing to quicker death? Its logically true but that doesnt make it right.

Kalon said...

Hey, Anon -

"...we want tanks to contribute damage. The days of tanks stacking nothing but effective health and relying on the rest of the group for dps are over. You might find an enrage timer that you can't hit because your tank's dps is so paltry."

Right now Bears in Naxx are putting out 7000 TPS. They can put out somewhere between 2.5kDPS and 3kDPS in an optimal environment. And this isn't with perfect gear; this is with Naxx-10 level gear or Sunwell-level gear mixed in with quest blues at 80. That sounds about right to me too; I'm doing 1400-1500 DPS in my gear as it stands, and that's not even remotely optimal compared to what the lvl 80 stuff is.

I really don't think that 200 AP and 1% more crit is going to make that big of a difference on a fight, especially compared to another 1500 health and 1% dodge and the crit/armor you get from agility + the sockets you're getting that aren't on PvE gear. It might...but if you're finding that you're needing that much damage from the tank, chances are that it would be better to go for higher threat pieces on the non-leather anyway.

The real point here is that none of the other tanks have this issue. Their gear isn't set up as threat vs. mitigation, as basically every stat they stack pulls double duty or is straight survival. Druids are the only tanks where they're expected to stack threat stats and non-threat stats separately. We saw this in BC before with paladins, and the end result was that you would have paladins doing really insane things with threat and damage because they could - but they'd do so at the expense of mitigation. It was a universally loathed notion and made paladins worse because they had to choose - they could either go for more threat, or more mitigation, but never both.

When a fight comes out that requires a tank to do maximum DPS or it's a wipe, I'll revisit this. As it stands, nothing in Naxx-level comes close. And for every fight that requires a tank to go balls-to-the-wall DPS, I'll bet you there are 3 where the boss hits harder than anyone's ever seen and time to live is more important than ever.

I'm also willing to bet that they'll never come out with a fight where that max DPS is such a requirement, because the tuning on it would be ridiculous. It would be another M'uru. It's much easier to tweak the DPS of the DPS classes than the tanks. They simply scale better. If they didn't, people would dps as tanks.

Anonymous said...

Kalon, thanks for your comments that does explain alot and I'm obviously very passionaate, and concerned, about feral tanking in wrath just like you are. Your points seem absolutely correct too.

I can only say that a warrior cannot heal, battle rez or decide they want to play a caster tomorrow. I see no problem with prot warriors being the tank's tank, because its not as if they have a ton of other options. Arms? Melee dps? You'll only ever get a rage bar if you're a warrior. We have 4 very different playstyles, and we'll never be theoretically perfect at any one of them - it just wouldnt be fair to the other classes.

Maybe we just have to agree to differ on this one. I should also say that what interests me most about the game is the synergy of the collective, not the prowess of the individual. I'm all about my own prowess too - but I'm willing to lessen its importance when I'm not soloing.

With respect. I do love your blog. Looking forward to carrying the conversation on into wrath, and seeing how the ferals do as tanks.

Rasmus said...

OK, I'm in a bit of a dilemma here regarding professions.

I'm already an ench, and that is not going to change :) 2nd prof is herbs, which I find very profitable and the new "skills" with it is good. Then LW'ing comes waltzing in with a stam BoP I cannot turn down. What is the word from dev's on lw'ing BoP patterns and are the stam applications really going to make it to the expansion, cause they seem immensely superior to a tanking class.

What I am going to do is gather the mats for lvl'ing lw to 375 pre-wotlk, and stick to herbs until 80 and follow the development of LW. I know I'm gonna need a crapload of g at 80 (like at 70, when tbc came out), so abandoning my herbs is a really hard choice for me.

Any advice? IMO theres still too little info about BoP-patterns to risk it...

Kalon said...

Hey, Rasmus - thanks for coming by. :)

There's no official word on what specific LW patterns are going to be BoP. As of this moment there are zero, zilch, nada BoP patterns. There are rumors that some of the BoEs in the beta (like, for example, the trollwoven gear) will become BoP, but my suspicion is that they're not going to have a lot of BoP gear at the start; they'll use BoP patterns that drop from raids to make up for itemization deficiencies down the road.

I don't think you'll be at a serious disadvantage if you choose not to do leatherworking. Right now it's the best for bears, but enchanting is awfully good too. And the herbalism bonuses are pretty decent for tanks as well. If I were you, unless something seriously awesome (the equivalent of the frozen shadoweave set) comes out for bears in LW, I wouldn't bother with it.

Hydra said...

Thank you for this Q&A. I am very new to Bear and there is so much old information mixed in with the new. This has helped clarify a lot of my basic questions.

Maybe I should know this but I don’t, but how does strength benefit bear (and cat)? How does it compare on an item at the same item level with same armor but with stam/agiliy vs stam/agility/strength. If there is a post I should read I would be grateful.

Thank you for the great post and your time.