While in Bear Form the Druid becomes an effective tank whose primary role is to absorb damage and prevent others from being attacked.
The Bear Form
When a Druid shapeshifts into a bear the following happens:
- The Druid is allowed to use various bear abilities like , , and .
- The mana bar is replaced by a rage bar; the mana is still visible as a miniaturized version under the rage bar.
- Stamina is increased by 40%.
- The Druid gains a percentage more armor from every leather and cloth item they have equipped based on level.
- The Druid's abilities cause extra threat.
- Causes agility to increase attack power.
A Druid lives off of his or her agility and superior stamina in bear form. Agility is of particular importance because not only does it increase the chance to dodge (avoidance), it also gives attack power (AP) to increase damage done and threat on a target (threat per second, or TPS). Agility also increases the chance to critically hit, which is a Druid bear's basis for proccing to block some of the incoming damage. Stamina is also important for it is the basis of the Druid's health. With enough stamina, a Druid bear can take on the challenge of being a tank.
Advantages of a Druid Tank
Updated as of Patch 4.0.6.
- Although not an advantage nor a disadvantage, bear Druids are slightly different from the other three tanking classes regarding stats (although all tanks are generally equalized for Cataclysm). A bear tank might have more health, a higher dodge chance, and more armor than other tanks; but these extra stats are a balance for the inability to parry or wear a shield.
- allows the Druid to resurrect a dead ally while in combat. Note: as of Cataclysm, only one in-combat resurrection can be used at any given boss attempt, which includes the Warlock . Shaman is not included in this restriction. In 25-man raids, three combat resurrections are allowed.
- Druids are immune to and Humanoid Mind Control effects, but these are extremely situational.
- 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.
This section concerns content exclusive to Cataclysm.
- In Cataclysm, 85 Druid Bears have gained great abilities that help ensure survivability and threat for the druid. New abilities such as and add new depth to Druid tanking. Druids are also given a new ability called , which makes them a proper interrupter. is a new ability that increases the movement speed of a druid bear and other players around him/her for 6 seconds. A new stat Mastery, , grants Druid tanks a new passive ability to ensure survival. New tanking mechanics such as (for all tanking classes) also bring new depth to the role of the tank as a whole and helps ensure threat scaling as DPS gear improves.
- Tanking changes from Wrath to Cataclysm: Is on a 6 second cooldown. is on a 3 second cooldown. now stacks up to 3 (can be applied with one cast fully talented). has been changed from a persistent buff to a 20 second buff (not castable in bear form as of patch 4.0.6).
- The AoE tanking (for all tanking classes) is more involved and more challenging than AoE tanking in Wrath of the Lich King. With the new AoE damaging skill, , druids are given one new tool to assist with AoE tanking.
- Single-target tanking is relatively the same as it has been before. With the addition of to the druid skill set, and the proper rotation, a druid tank's threat and damage will be that of other tanks, if not more.
- With the addition of , Hit and Expertise are all but deemed unnecessary for a tank. Dodge and/or (Mastery) is preferred by most tanks and less-important stats such as Haste are often reforged to dodge or mastery. (Note: while there is no clear emphasis on expertise or hit, it is noted that hitting the expertise soft cap of 26 (780.78 expertise rating) will ensure better threat/dps for AoE tanking).
- For gemmming, there is still a large debate on whether it is better to stack full agility or stamina. Again, it is up to the player's discretion, but the overwhelming consensus is that a tank should have enough health AND avoidance to be viable.
Disadvantages of a Druid tank
Updated as of Patch 4.0.6.
- One of the disadvantages of bear tanks was their limited set of skills, abilities, and last-resort options. While Druid bear tanks are build around versatility with and (to a very small degree), the tanking style of a bear ultimately becomes more bland compared to other tanks.
Threat Generation, Pulling, and Maintaining Threat
Updated as of Patch 4.0.6.
- 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.
- can also be used after shifting into bear form. Note that it gives you a 10% increase in physical damage taken, but the Druid can remove the debuff before the pull. This is only a means to generate initial rage.
- can then be used at the Druid's discretion to mitigate initial damage before or after the initial pull.
- In Bear Form, mobs can be safely pulled from the maximum range of , which now does spell damage. If this is the method of choice to pull a group of mobs, and/or are good next moves as it will get the attention of the whole group as they run up to you.
- 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 and start AoE tanking right away. Although this is not usually an issue, make sure not to pull nearby groups by getting too close to them.
- Against single targets and bosses; , should be used first with the pull. should then be used for snap aggro and to apply a bleed debuff. should then be applied to the target to max stacks (3). should be used next to apply the buff to increase critical strikes. Reapply for free procs. Weave and into your rotation as well. Use as rage permits.
- Against multiple targets, the use of and is highly recommended. Also of great use is the , 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
Updated as of Patch 4.0.6.
Mitigation, Avoidance and Defense
As of patch 3.1, druid tanks gained the 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.
Agility increases Dodge (Avoidance), Critical Strike, and Attack Power:
- 1 Agi = 2.1624 AP
- 1 Agi = 0.0129744% Crit
- 1 Agi = 0.0225641% Dodge
As of Patch 4.0.1, Defense has been taken out of the game for druids.
Healing a Druid Tank
Updated as of Patch 4.0.6.
Due to tanking class changes in Cataclysm, all four tanking classes have been brought closer together. While there are still differences between stats and stat priorities between each tanking class, all tanks generally take the same damage.
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 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.
Updated as of Patch 4.0.6.
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 or . Druids can also use fear-dispelling trinkets such as s/, although these are all on relatively high cooldowns.
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.
- increases maximum health by 30%, increases health to 30% (if below that value), and converts up to 10 rage per second into health for 20 sec. If glyphed with , healing effects on you are 30% more powerful but causes your to no longer convert rage into health. This ability is on a 3-minute cooldown. It should be noted that consumes a lot of rage (if not glyphed), so a bear using it will be constrained to use their threat-generating moves less, particularly .
- (now usable in feral forms) reduces all damage taken by 20%. While protected, damaging attacks will not cause spellcasting delays. This spell is usable while stunned, frozen, incapacitated, feared or asleep. Usable in all forms. Lasts 12 sec. 3-minute cooldown.
- (Herbalism) can be used in feral forms and will provide you with 3600 health over 5 seconds at the max level, for herbalist Druids.
- While in a dire situation, a Druid can run away and use , , or to heal themselves, but 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.
- As with the above situation, a Druid can bandage him or herself, but due to the "casting" time and it being interrupted by a single attack, it is highly unreliable during tanking situations.
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.
Updated as of Patch 4.0.6.
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 - (2/2) Feral Swiftness - Increases your movement speed by 15% in Cat Form and increases your chance to dodge while in Cat Form or Bear Form by 2%/4%.
- Tier 1 - (3/3) Furor - Grants you a 33%/66%/100% chance to gain 10 Rage when you shapeshift into Bear Form, allows you to keep up to 33 of your Energy when you shapeshift into Cat Form, and increases your maximum mana by 5%/10%/15%.
- Tier 2 - (2/2) Infected Wounds - Your Shred, Maul, Ravage and Mangle attacks cause an Infected Wound in the target. The Infected Wound reduces the movement speed of the target by 25%/50% and the attack speed by 10%/20%. Lasts 12 sec.
- Tier 2 - (3/3) Fury Swipes - When you auto-attack while in Cat form or Bear form, you have a 5%/10%/15% chance to cause a Fury Swipe dealing 310% weapon damage. This effect cannot occur more than once every 3 sec.
- Tier 2 - (2/2) Primal Fury - Gives you a 50%/100 chance to gain an additional 5 Rage anytime you get a critical strike while in Bear Form and your critical strikes from Cat Form abilities that add combo points have a 50% chance to add an additional combo point.
- Tier 2 - (2/2) Feral Aggression (Optional) - Increases the damage caused by your Ferocious Bite by 5%/10% and causes Faerie Fire (Feral) to apply 2 stacks of the Faerie Fire effect when cast.
- Tier 3 - (1/3) King of the Jungle (Optional) - While using your Enrage ability in Bear Form, your damage is increased by 5%/10%/15%, and your Tiger's Fury ability also instantly restores 20/40/60 energy.
- Tier 3 - (1/1) Feral Charge - Causes you to charge an enemy, immobilizing them for 4 sec.
- Tier 3 - (0/2) Stampede (Optional) - Increases your melee haste by 15%/30% after you use Feral Charge (Bear) for 8 sec, and your next Ravage will temporarily not require stealth for 10 sec after you use Feral Charge (Cat), and cost 50% less energy.
- Tier 3 - (3/3) Thick Hide - Increases your Armor contribution from cloth and leather items by 4%/7%/10%, increases armor while in Bear Form by an additional 26%/52%/78%, and reduces the chance you'll be critically hit by melee attacks by 2%/4%/6%.
- Tier 4 - (1/1) Leader of the Pack - While in Cat Form or Bear Form, the Leader of the Pack increases critical strike chance of all party and raid members within 100 yards by 5%. In addition, your melee critical strikes in Cat Form and Bear Form cause you to heal for 4% of your total health and gain 8% of your maximum mana. This effect cannot occur more than once every 6 sec.
- Tier 4 - (2/2) Brutal Impact - Increases the stun duration of your Bash and Pounce abilities by 1 sec, decreases the cooldown of Bash by 5/10 sec, decreases the cooldown of Skull Bash by 25/50 sec, and causes victims of your Skull Bash ability to have 5%/10% increased mana cost for their spells for 10 sec.
- Tier 5 - (1/1) Survival Instincts - Reduces all damage taken by 50% for 12 sec. Only useable while in Bear Form or Cat Form.
- Tier 5 - (2/2) Endless Carnage - Increases the duration of your Rake by 3/6 sec and your Savage Roar and Pulverize by 4/8 sec.
- Tier 5 - (2/2) Natural Reaction - Reduces damage taken while in Bear Form by 6%/12%, increases your dodge while in Bear Form by 3%/6%, and you generate 1 rage every time you dodge while in Bear Form.
- Tier 6 - (3/3) Rend and Tear - Increases damage done by your Maul and Shred attacks on bleeding targets by 7%/13%/20%, and increases the critical strike chance of your Ferocious Bite ability on bleeding targets by 8%/17%/25%.
- Tier 6 - (1/1) Pulverize - Deals 80% weapon damage plus additional (450 * 80 / 100) damage for each of your Lacerate applications on the target, and increases your melee critical strike chance by 3% for each Lacerate application consumed for 10 sec.
- Tier 7 - (1/1) Berserk - Your Lacerate periodic damage has a 50% chance to refresh the cooldown of your Mangle (Bear) ability and make it cost no rage. In addition, when activated this ability causes your Mangle (Bear) ability to hit up to 3 targets and have no cooldown, and reduces the energy cost of all your Cat Form abilities by 50%. Lasts 15 sec. You cannot use Tiger's Fury while Berserk is active.
- Tier 1 - (2/2) Natural Shapeshifter - Reduces the mana cost of all shapeshifting by 10%/20% and increases the duration of Tree of Life Form by 3/6 sec.
- Tier 1 - (3/3) Heart of the Wild - Increases your Intellect by 2%/4%/6%. In addition, while in Bear Form your Stamina is increased by 2%/4%/6% and while in Cat Form your attack power is increased by 3%/7%/10%.
- Tier 2 - (3/3) Perseverance - Reduces all spell damage taken by 2%/4%/6%.
- Tier 2 - (1/1) Master Shapeshifter - Grants an effect which lasts while the Druid is within the respective shapeshift form. Bear Form - Increases physical damage by 4%. Cat Form - Increases critical strike chance by 4%. Moonkin Form - Increases spell damage by 4%. Tree of Life/Caster Form - Increases healing by 4%.
(Note: This is just one of many specs)
- Patch 3.0.2 added the talent , which helps mitigate magic damage somewhat, but still doesn't meet the measure of other tanks' magic-damage reduction abilities. can help mitigate, but only for some seconds out of a minute, so high-magic-damage fights generally don't favor Druid tanks. - Protector of the Pack isn't on the game anymore.