A while back I wrote about how versatile us resto druids can be. About how we can carry around a bear-set, and a caster-dps set, and so on. I do this myself: my bear set is probably up to tanking MH and BT if I spec feral (and I occasionally do; spec feral that is, not tank MH and BT). Only last night I tanked some AQ20 and ZG for fun. I’ve tanked heroics, I’ve tanked Kara. But not every druid who’s carrying around a few pieces of defense and stamina gear knows what’s going on with bears. Not every druid did lots of levelling as feral, and not every druid really knows much about tanking mechanics in general.
In fact, my first attempt at tanking as a level 70 (having spent all of 50-70 healing) was fairly poor. I didn’t even know there was an ability called lacerate, and while I wasn’t dying immediately, I just wasn’t putting out enough threat to let the dps kill things fast enough.
So, this post is for the tanking-noob who wants to carry around a bear set and tank sometimes. It contains a few of the lessons I’ve learned, and while it won’t give you all the tips and tricks of druid MTing, it will at least give you a rough idea of what to do.
The first thing you have to do is get your gear set up properly, and your first goal with gearing is to make sure you’re not crittable. Luckily, there’s a druid talent which reduces our chance to be crit by 3%. Unluckily, it’s deep in the feral tree, and we can’t get there as a resto. If you’re prepared to respec before tanking, you only need to grab 415 defense to get there. If you want to be able to throw on bear gear at a moment’s notice and resto-bear-tank, you need 490.
Actually, you don’t. My feral-tank set has 393 defense, and my resto-tank set has about four-twenty-something (I forget). You can make up the difference with Resilience, which isn’t quite as good for mitigation as defense, but it is easier to get sometimes. I’m not quite sure what the conversion rate is: instead, I use a great little addon called TankPoints, which does all the calculations for me and just tells me my chance to take a crit. As long as this says zero, I’m set. If you really don’t want to install ANOTHER addon, wowwiki has a few tips.
After you’re uncrittable, you want a whole bunch of stamina, and a whole stack of dodge. As far as I’ve been able to work out, this isn’t much easier to balance than +healing and regen. Stack some agility, stack some stam, and try to hit at least 30% dodge. You’ll want a bit of strength as well, but that’ll probably come on the gear you’re using anyway. Oh, and you want one of those custom-built feral druid staves, or else go and buy the Earthwarden (a very nice 2-handed mace from the Cenarion Expedition quartermaster in Zangarmarsh, which requires exalted rep). Actually, you’ll probably want the Earthwarden over most of the staves, which are usually more designed around feral dps than tanking. The Feral Staff of Lashing, from Warp Slinter in heroic bot, is also a good option.
Ok, your gear is sorted. You’re uncrittable, have a pile of agi and stam, you’ve picked up a nice weapon, and you’re ready to go tanking. What do you need to do next?
First, learn about druid pulling. Druid tanks tend to be fairly rare, so it’s even possible that you haven’t seen one before, and have no idea of the technique. The two main types of pulls are spell-based and melee.
If you want to pull the mobs to you, the spell-based ones may be more useful; they have the advantage of establishing a small threat head-start before the mobs even get close. If you have one, two, or even three mobs, consider a moonfire/starfire pull. Wind up a starfire on an odd mob, moonfire the other mobs, and switch to bear form and pop enrage. Do this from max-range and make sure you’re in bear form before they get to you! For bigger pulls, again move to max-range and drop a hurricane with the back edge of it just hitting the closest mob. Let all the mobs run through it, hopefully taking a tick or two of damage each, and drop into bear form before the closest one gets to you.
There’s an in-between option, if you have feral faerie fire: use that to pull the mobs to you, and open up with melee threat as soon as they’re close enough.
The melee pulls have the disadvantage of not opening with threat on all the mobs, and not pulling them back to your location. Just charge in and start hitting things: you can use feral charge if you’re specced for it. The big advantage of melee-pulling (and fff pulling) is that your rage doesn’t reset: you can start the pull with heaps of rage, if you have it left over from the last pull.
Once you’ve pulled, you need to build threat on all the mobs you’re trying to hold. You have a few tools for this, and Lacerate is the key to it all. Lacerate is the bear’s answer to Sunder Armor. It stacks up to five times, and the bulk of your threat comes from spamming this. If you’ve specced far enough into feral, you may also have mangle: use this every cooldown. Particularly if you don’t have mangle, burn your spare rage on maul as often as possible. Throw in a swipe here and there if you’re trying to hold multiple mobs (you may need to shuffle backwards every now and then to keep them all in front of you), but remember that swipe only hits up to three mobs, so tanking four or more mobs can be touch and go.
Your emergency buttons are growl, to force a single target to come back to you, and challenging roar, which is an aoe taunt on a long cooldown.
And there you have it. This is hardly an extensive guide to druid tanking, but it should be enough to get you started, whether you want to stay resto while you tank, or respec into feral. Prior to moving into serious raiding, I actually managed to find a spec which included tree of life (and was more than sufficient to heal any heroic), and still had enough feral points to viably tank level 70 instances, and even easier heroics.
Anyway, if you’re getting a little bored with healing, experiment. Throw on some bear gear and go offer to tank a normal ramps (believe me, level 70s who want to tank something easy like ramps shouldn’t have trouble finding a group). Move on up to something like mech, and try to pick instances you know well from healing them.
Overall, have fun.