Bear pre-raid tanking gear and strat

I was originally thinking of putting in a list of pre-raid gear pieces for tanking druids, but since I can’t access wowhead at work and I’m too busy playing at home… I kept putting it off. Well today is Tuesday and its extended maintenance so…

Altosis has put up a list of pre-raid feral gear which is pretty good, but it seems to have a few key omissions and quirks because he apparently filtered for items that have strictly no defense. I’ll try to put together a few good options here from a variety of sources like Kalon’s but without the raid drops and with some easy quest options.

Weakness Spectralizers are good if you’re an Engineer (will be added in 3.08)
Mask of the Watcher from Heroic Oculus
Headguard of Retaliation from a quest in Utgarde Pinnacle Vengeance Be Mine!

Titanium Earthguard Chain from Jewelcrafting is good, but quite expensive
Chained Military Gorget is available for 40 Emblems of Heroism, about equivalent to the Titanium Earthguard
Amulet of Wills from normal Halls of Stone

Trollwoven Spaulders from Leatherworking, easy to get and one of the best
Shoulderpads of Fleshwerks from a quest in Icecrown The Flesh Giant Champion

Durable Nerubhide Cape from Leatherworking, recommended
Cloak of the Gushing Wound from Heroic Violet Hold
Cloak of Holy Extermination from Honored Argent Crusade
Bloodbane Cloak from quest in Icecrown The Fate of Bloodbane

Exotic Leather Tunic from a quest in Utgarde Pinnacle Junk in My Trunk
Polar Vest Leatherworking Frost Resist set
T7 chest 80 Emblems of Heroism or normal Archavon

Bindings of the Tunneler from Heroic Utgarde Keep
Njorndar Furywraps from a quest in Icecrown Not-so-Honorable Combat
Eviscerator’s Bindings from leatherworking, it’s one of the cheapest pieces to make so you might be able to pick them up at a discount from leatherworkers notching up

Handwraps of Preserved History best tanking gloves in game, but going to be nerfed. From a quest in CoT Strat A Royal Escort
Eviscerator’s Gauntlets from leatherworking, pretty cheap
Rough Climber’s Grips quest in Storm Peaks The Reckoning

Trollwoven Girdle from Leatherworking, recommended
Sharp-Barbed Leather Belt from Heroic Utgarde Keep
Glitterscale Wrap from revered Oracles

Gored Hide Legguards from Heroic Gundrak
Mind-Expanding Leggings from revered Kirin Tor
Chain Gang Legguards BoE drop from Violet Hold, quite common
Tattooed Deerskin Leggings from a quest in Violet Hold Containment

Polar Boots from Leatherworking Frost Resist set
Boots of the Neverending Path Exalted Argent Crusade
Rhino Hide Kneeboots from quest in Gundrak One of a Kind

Keystone Great-Ring from Heroic Draktharon, best ring in game
Titanium Earthguard Ring from Jewelcrafting, crazily expensive
Ring of the Kirin Tor tanking Dalaran hearth-ring to be added in 3.08, even more crazily expensive
Hemorrhaging Circle from Heroic Gundrak, have to fight all melee dps for it
Ring of Earthen Might from Jewelcrafting
Iceforged Battle Ring from quest in Storm Peaks The Brothers Bronzebeard

Essence of Gossamer from Heroic Azjol-Nerub. Please kick and /spit on any idiot non-tanks that try to roll on this “for PvP”
Valor Medal of the First War for 40 Emblems of Heroism, basically super-upgraded version of Moroes’ Lucky Pocket Watch and best use of first Emblems given the lack of other choices
Monarch Crab if you are a Jewelcrafter, basically the only JC BoP trinket that doesn’t suck
Sonic Booster if you are an engineer
Commendation of Kael’thas is actually still pretty good, I’ve been trying to farm this from Heroic Magister’s Terrace with Yannie. Gotten 1 of each of the other trinkets so far, but no tanking trinket…

Idol of Terror is currently the only choice. You can solo farm badges in Outland Heroics or if really desperate get the sucky version from a quest in Borean Tundra Get Me Outa Here!

Enraged Feral Staff from Heroic Utgarde Keep
Staff of Trickery from Heroic Violet Hold
Stave of Shrouded Mysteries from Revered Kirin Tor

Gear Overview

Feral druid gear is kinda strange right now. I originally decided on a bear as my tank because it was easier to gear up with the Heavy Clefthoof LW set giving huge defense. Now… it’s also relatively “easy” to gear up, but for a different reason. Feral druids basically don’t need anything except armor, stamina and agility (roughly in that order for a starter set). We do not need defense at all since we are uncrittable even if naked due to Survival of the Fittest. We don’t use parry or shield block. There are no longer any items with extra armor, so basically any leather piece with high stamina and agi will work.

The biggest problem starting heroics is survivability, not threat. With the bear form multiplier, armor and stamina will be the highest priority. Agility provides a tiny bit of armor, dodge and crit, but my opinion is that until you reach a certain amount of health dodge should be a lower priority than stamina. You need to avoid getting insta-gibbed by hard hitting bosses, and dodge is merely a chance to avoid that. Without a high-enough health pool, there will always be a chance that you will die to a unlucky burst before your healer can do anything. After you reach a comfortable level, you can start stacking agi to get pure avoidance to reduce the strain on your healer’s mana.

Any other stats will merely be extras since they only add to threat (AP, crit, haste) and frankly as a starting bear, you will have infinite rage on every pull because you get hit like tofu and shouldn’t have threat problems. Expertise is the only other “extra” stat that helps survivability by reducing parries, but I wouldn’t gimp the main stats just to get it.

Some pieces of the Polar frost resist set from LW are actually a pretty good investment if you’re intending to do Naxx eventually (since your guild may ask you to get them anyway for Sapphiron and Kel’Thuzad) and there are quite a few fights in dungeons with frost damage. They have crazy high stamina, high armor due to item level, and best of all they are socketed. E.g. you could put 3x 16 agi gems into the Polar chest and end up with a chest with 48 agi and 169 stamina with high armor and 115 frost resist as well. Pretty decent, with even more stamina if you get the socket bonus. They are also good if there are relatively few options for that slot (chest and feet).

Summary: Wear the highest ilevel item (highest armor) which has high stamina. If you are into PvP, the Savage Gladiator’s Sanctuary set does pretty well also since it has high stamina and sockets. You’ll be doing Heroic Utgarde Keep a lot, and the first rep should be Kirin Tor (for weapon and legs) followed by Argent Crusade (boots, back and head enchant).

Tanking overview

I’ve seen many articles which claim that bears have problems, are the least desired tanks etc etc. All I can say is “Wtf?” I’m seriously at a loss to understand this, unless it’s just the usual “everyone is OP except us” kind of thinking that every moron has. Tanking as a bear is really drop dead easy in every heroic I’ve run so far, provided the group isn’t completely moronic (dumbkin in Strat…)

The biggest problem we will face is the pull. If you don’t get all the mobs focused on you at the start, a simple pull can become really bad. If there are mobs running all over the place at the start, it’s hard for a bear to gather them all up and get them back without blowing a challenging roar because they are not grouped up enough for swipe to hit everything and there isn’t enough rage to spam swipe everywhere because not everything is hitting you (vicious cycle).

So, if you need to pull back, tell your group members so they don’t start nuking mobs before they even get to you. Pull with faerie fire (does huge threat), and demo roar as the pack comes. Why demo roar? Demo roar is a circle all around you, unlike swipe (admittedly swipe radius is huge, it’s more a half-circle than a cone). This helps if for some reason someone in the group generates >1 threat during the pull, which means the other mobs will head for him and might actually get behind you causing swipe to miss. Demo roar is only 10 rage meaning you will definitely be able to do it just after turning bear and immediately on pressing enrage. It also helps reduce incoming damage so your healer doesn’t have to immediately heal you for huge amounts and pull more aggro.

Once you have them targetting you, spam maul (with glyph of maul) and swipe. It’s impossible to run out of rage and you don’t even really need to switch targets, unless dps is being silly and unloaded on a different target than your original (best to mark it with skull, which I hotkeyed). If the pull consists of only 3 mobs but they are very dangerous, remember to pop Berserk and go crazy spamming mangle + maul to dps them down fast. Even if they pull aggro, growl is ranged and has a really short cooldown. Feral faerie fire is a ghetto growl that also works great. For example, an add is summoned mid-combat that heads for your healer, just hit it with feral faerie fire instead of wasting growl.

On a single target, priority is mangle -> lacerate to 5 -> swipe -> lacerate to keep the stack up, hitting maul all the way as long as there is spare rage. Remember to keep faerie fire on the boss and demo roar if he melees hard. Again, threat should really not be an issue and most heroic bosses are tauntable. I literally just spam 1,2,3 (mangle, maul, swipe) brainlessly and press lacerate once in a while and never ever come close to losing aggro.

Bears can easily do 1200 dps in average blue gear in heroic instances so we rarely have any trouble in those fights which require us to kill something (rifts, voidspawns, other group members…).

Again, most of the time any difficulties in heroics are not due to the tank’s gear, but rather some other mistakes by the group that make an otherwise easy pull difficult (trinket + pyroblasting a mob that only has 1 swipe on it…). When I started doing heroics I had 17k hp and 22k armor… which was really pathetic. But we had a good group of players which made even voidwalker + ethereal boss in Heroic Violet Hold very doable. So it just goes to show that +int to player head > +gear to tank.

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