This is an update of the 3.0.2 FAQ for bears. So much has changed since then that it made sense to redo things instead of just revising that content.
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 or the patch notes. 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: UPDATED: Depending on what skills you have, you should do the following:
if mangle is off cooldown, mangle
if faerie fire is off cooldown, faerie fire
if you have more than 6k AP and the lacerate stack is > 5 seconds, swipe
And at all times, maul.
Q: Wait, Faerie fire? Really?
A: UPDATED: Yep. Faerie Fire does damage based on AP, has a high amount of threat. It does higher average threat than lacerate or swipe at any level of AP. Even with it being based on spell hit and spell crit, it does the most threat.
Q: I get the 'more powerful spell is in effect' when I use FFF.
A: UPDATED: This should be fixed now, and you should be able to do it every 6 seconds provided there isn't another bear or cat in your raid.
Q: What about best damage?
A: For best damage, you should swipe whenever mangle isn't up and keep your lacerate stack up. And still use faerie fire - it still does more damage too!
Q: I had heard that swipe was better than lacerate for threat - is that true?
A: Most of the time. It really depends on your armor penetration, your AP, and what talents you have. This is for short answers, and no matter what your gear level you'll do okay with spamming lacerate.
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 unless they do something to you, like unbalancing strike.
Q: So no defense then? Or resilience?
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 Sartharion giant breaths or Tympanic Tantrum on XT-002.). Try using Survival Instincts with things like Shadowmoon Insignia for extra health. Try using Frenzied Regen with any healing effects you can do like health pots.
Q: Pots in forms, more ohshit buttons...any other big changes?
A: Swipe hits infinite targets! It doesn't require a target! It hits everything in 360 degrees around you!
Q: Wow...swipe's that changed?
A: Oh yes.
Q: I didn't have anything targeted and couldn't swipe. What the?
A: You need to have an enemy mob targeted in order to swipe, but you don't have to face them in order to hit them - and that mob doesn't even need to be in range in order to swipe.
Q: Okay, so swipe now is like a consecrate. What else is new?
A: Savage Defense!
Q: Savage...defense? That was the name?
A: I know.
Q: What does it do?
A: When it works, on a melee critical hit or bleed crit it procs an absorption shield that absorbs 25% of your AP off of the next physical attack and then goes away, regardless of how much it absorbed.
Q: That sounds great...what do you mean, when it works?
A: It has some latency bugs associated with it.
Q: So...I should gear for AP now?
A: Not really. Savage Defense isn't that big a deal, and tends to be no more than 5% of your overall mitigation.
Q: So it's still just bonus armor I want on everything?
A: Nope! Bonus armor doesn't get multiplied by bear form. In fact, no armor on rings, trinkets, necks or weapons gets multiplied.
Q: Doesn't that make us have low armor?
A: Kinda. Bears have lower armor than they did at the end of Sunwell. But that's okay - between no crushing blows and protector of the pack, bears still don't take a lot of damage from physical attacks. Q: What was that about bleeds critting?
A: With the talent Primal Gore, your lacerates and rips will crit. Which means that your lacerate stack should stay up at all costs.
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 30 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. And no bonus from non-leather as well.
Q: So what, we're supposed to wear rogue leather?
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: UPDATED: Armor, stamina and then avoidance/threat stats. Armor isn't as important as it was in Sunwell to be on rings/trinkets/necks/cloaks, but it's still very good for mitigation.
Q: Man, there's all this shitty defense on all that gear. Why don't they make druid-itemized gear?
A: UPDATED: 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. Armor is good, agility is good, stamina is good. Try and find items with two of the three.
Q: How about gems?
A: UPDATED: Stamina scales better, but agility helps too. Don't go overboard with agility like you used to, but definitely do have some agility in there. Agility is right now the best avoidance stat and the best overall stat (the only one that provides mitigation, avoidance and threat). If you have a doubt, tend towards stamina.
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 and armor.
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: UPDATED: Master shapeshifter would be good if it were only 2 points, but it's essentially 5. And natural shapeshifter is worthless. With the advent of dual specs, you should probably have a really good bear build and a really good cat build. In that case, go with master shapeshifter, as it's the best bang for your threat and damage buck. If you need to go with a hybrid build for doing good cat damage while tanking, I'd recommend not taking it and going with a 0/60/11 build like this.
Q: Primal Tenacity?
A: Nope. Only works in cat form now.
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: Imp Mark of the Wild? But I don't buff my raid ever!
A: Imp MotW now adds 1% more stats per talent point. It's a must have, and you want to get to naturalist anyway.
Q: Primal Gore?
A: It's a great talent, and Rend & Tear is already one of the best threat talents you can take. It adds about 2-3% threat by itself. Take it.
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: 0/55/16.
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.
Q: What Inscriptions?
A: At 70: Frenzied Regeneration and Maul.
A: At 80: Frenzied Regeneration, Survival Instincts. Then Growl or Maul depending on whether you need to make sure a taunt lands or you need more threat on multiple mobs. Carry around stacks of growl/maul - they're cheap to make and can be used any time.
Q: What professions?
A: See this post - the best are Jewelcrafting, then leatherworking/enchanting/inscription/blacksmithing/mining, depending on your needs and wants. But they're all very close to each other.
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
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.