Bear Bomb

The life and times of a feral druid

A Level 80 Feral Tanking Build

Talent builds are the one thing you can be guaranteed to find on any blog or guide.  One thing I haven’t seen regularly, however, is a plain discussion of why a posted build is supposed to be the best.  Let’s try to change that, shall we?

First of all, here’s Luxul’s Build.  Now, here’s why I spent the points I spent.

[UPDATE: I’ve respecced, pulling points out of Improved Mangle and King of the Jungle and moving them to Natural Shapeshifter and Master Shapeshifter.  I’ll let you know how it goes in a later post.]

Restoration Tree

This is the tree I have the most doubts about.  I’m actually considering an alternate build at the moment, so I’ll probably be updating this post later with the results.

  • Improved Mark of the Wild : This is mostly useful if you’re soloing or running heroics, since any raid group is very likely to have a boomkin or tree with this talent.  However, the two points go toward filling out the first tier of the tree, and they’re pretty much completely useless in either of the other two talents, so as long as you have any points in Resto, you might as well have IMoW.   [EDIT: As Paperclip pointed out in the comments, I forgot to mention that IMoW also makes Mark of the Wild convey a 2% bonus to your total stats, which is another reason to keep two points in this talent instead of moving it somewhere else. ]
  • Furor : This talent is mostly filler so we can get further in the tree.  The 60% chance for extra rage is nice, since it’ll occasionally give you a free charge immediately after a shift, but it’s not enough to rely on.  If I need to charge into a pull, I’ll typically use Enrage to fuel Feral Charge, rather than shifting out and back to bear in the hopes of a Furor proc.  Also, when you’re clearing the trash in an instance, leftover rage from the previous pull is typically going to be more than the measly 10 you’d get from this talent.
  • Naturalist : Now here’s a worthwhile talent.  10% physical damage bonus across the board.  I don’t think I even need to justify that. :)  Just remember: more damage = more threat = you’re doing your job better.
  • Omen of Clarity : This is the one I’m on the fence about right now.  When I was doing solo questing and heroics, the clearcasting proc was useful to keep my damage output high.  In a raid, however, I’ve typically got so much stuff beating on me that it’s physically impossible to spend all of my rage.  I’ve got a second build I want to try out soon, so I’ll update this post when I’ve managed to gather some more data.  Bottom line: If you’re leveling, this can be a lifesaver due to free Healing Touch or Maul casts, but its utility is very much questionable after you hit end-game content.

Feral Tree

  • Ferocity : A 5 rage cost reduction may not seem like a lot on the face of it, but Maul, Mangle and Swipe are the three skills bear tanks rely on the most.  Over the course of a single encounter, you’re going to be pounding those buttons a LOT, and all those 5 point savings really add up.  But, even if you’re not sold on that, the alternative of Feral Aggression is completely useless for a tank.  Demoralizing Roar is something we should drop purely for a threat boost; other classes are better equipped to decrease the enemy’s attack power.
  • Feral Instinct and Savage Fury : These talents are pure damage buffs.  As a tank, more damage is always good.  Feral Instinct is one some people will argue about, claiming that tanks don’t need the AoE damage from Swipe.  Those people have’t ever played a bear tank.  Swipe is the single most useful ability you’ll have to gain threat on a group of adds.  (We’ll talk about all of that in a later post.)
  • Thick Hide : 10% increased armor contribution from cloth and leather.  At the end-game, this is going to be counting for as much armor as some mid-range shields.  We’re mainly focused around dodge, but an extra 2% damage reduction from armor can’t hurt, right? :)
  • Feral Swiftness : Bear tanks focus more on dodging attacks than reducing the damage from a hit, so the extra 4% dodge chance from this talent is priceless.
  • Survival Instincts : This talent can be a bit tricky to use well, but it can really save your bacon if things go wrong during a fight.  Even a good healer can be silenced or stunned at a bad time, and popping SI will give you that extra buffer you need to survive until they can stitch you back together.
  • Sharpened Claws : The extra critical strike chance is good enough on its own, but this talent also opens the way for Primal Fury.  Having a high crit chance and Primal Fury is one of the best ways to ensure you never run out of rage during a fight, even if you’re not being mobbed by attackers.
  • Predatory Strikes : An increase to your attack power means you’ll be generating more threat, which is our main function in a fight.  Pretty straight forward. :)
  • Primal Precision : This is the first talent that I would consider really optional.  Currently, Luxul doesn’t have a lot of hit rating on his weapons, so this talent makes up for that deficit.  If, however, you’re hit-capped just from your gear, there’s a lot to be said for dropping this talent and taking Brutal Impact instead.
  • Feral Charge : Very useful during fights that do knockback, or when adds come in from behind the party to pick on the squishies.  One of my favorite things about being a bear tank is when a boss knocks me through the air, and I can turn around and close the distance again before I even hit the ground.  Plus, there’s a really neat trick you can do with it once you’ve got Flight Form.  It’s what gives this blog its name, and I’ll have a post about it eventually. :)
  • Natural Reaction : Another buff to your dodge rating.  As previously stated, that’s a bear’s bread and butter defense skill.  In addition, this talent helps you fuel your attacks by sidestepping incoming damage, so it’s a non-negotiable must-have.
  • Heart of the Wild : The intellect bonus is nice, but the real tasty morsel is the 10% buff to stamina when you’re in bear form.  For Luxul, currently, this works out to an additional 2000 hit points.  Hardly a number to sneeze at.
  • Survival of the Fittest : Another absolute must-have for bears.  At level 80, a raid or heroic boss has around a 5.5% chance of critically hitting you.  Most tanking classes have to stack defense until they hit the defense cap (around an extra 150 points of defense) in order to ensure bosses don’t deal critical strikes.  SotF replaces that for druids, immediately dropping us into the uncrittable range required for any raid tank and leaving us free to stack other stat bonuses from gear.
  • Leader of the Pack, Improved Leader of the Pack, Protector of the Pack : Between these three talents, you’ll gain 5% chance to critically hit, a 6% bonus to attack power, 12% reduction of all incoming damage, and a chance to heal yourself for 4% of your total health each time you critically strike.  In addition, the crit bonus and healing chance apply to all raid members within 45 yards.  Do I really need to make a case for these talents? :)
  • Infected Wounds : The main benefit of this talent comes from the 20% reduction in enemy attack speed.  This effectively works out to an increase in your damage reduction, since the baddie won’t be beating on you as much.  It’s not strictly necessary for a tanking build, but your healers will thank you in the long run.
  • King of the Jungle : Honestly, I picked this up as filler.  The 10% bonus damage will generally outweigh the 27% reduction in armor — after all, you’re trying to dodge more than you soak — but I try to save enrage for the rare cases where I need extra rage for generating threat.  This is a complicated one, and I’m still on the fence about it.
  • Mangle and Improved Mangle : This is another non-negotiable purchase for bears.  Mangle is one of our biggest threat generators, and when combined with Berserk, it becomes a massive boost to our AoE threat generation.
  • Rend and Tear : Your primary skill rotation while fighting will include lots of Lacerate stacks, which is a bleed effect.  RnT’s 20% boost to bleed damage will turn Lacerate from a really good source of threat to an excellent source of threat.
  • Primal Gore : And, building on the statement about Rend and Tear, this talent will cause Lacerate to occasionally critically hit, generating more threat, rage and dead bodies. :)
  • Berserk : Another talent that can technically be done without, Berserk is very useful in some situations, and adds a very nice boost to your DPS, should you require it.  It’s also a good way to gain threat on multiple enemies at once.  I’ll likely put up a full blog post about using berserk at some point in the future.

Okay, that’s the current state of Luxul’s build, and my rationale for most of the choices made.  Feel free to post comments, questions, etc.


February 3, 2010 - Posted by | Editorials, Mechanics, Play Tips


  1. Lux, fellow WoW blogger here. I like where this blog is going and will certainly be following it. One of my (many) alts is a resto/feral tank druid. Finding good information isnt always easy, I look forward to reading more of your posts.

    Comment by Chris | February 3, 2010 | Reply

  2. Thanks for the kind words, Chris! Definitely jump into the discussion if you have any thoughts about the tanking side of things, or if you want to plug a site that has resto information. :)

    Comment by Luxul | February 3, 2010 | Reply

  3. Don’t forget that Improved Mark of the Wild gives you a personal boost of 2% to base stats. While this is not a huge gain, it may tip the balance of the alternative of five points in Furor even if you do have another druid casting the buff.

    I’d also be interested in hearing you reasoning for skipping talents in the feral tree (Shredding Attacks, Brutal Impact, Primal Tenacity). Not that I disagree with you, but each of these appear to have value to bear tanks on their face. Do they just not stack up or could they be options in specific situations/group compositions?

    Comment by paperclip | February 8, 2010 | Reply

    • Good point about IMoW. Totally slipped my mind when I was putting this post together. I’ll get that fixed shortly. :)

      As for the skipped talents you mentioned, they just don’t quite fit with a raiding feral tank’s strengths. Shredding Attacks is a good talent for a cat DPS build because nine energy is a good reduction on Shred, especially as energy generation is fixed. But a one rage reduction on Lacerate is going to make literally zero difference in a raid encounter with the bear as the tank, since rage generation increases when things are attacking you, and Lacerate isn’t an ability you’re generally going to be spamming.

      Brutal Impact is an example of a talent that looks good on the surface, but really just siphons points away from more useful abilities. Bash has a horribly long cooldown at 1 minute, especially when compared with the interrupt abilities of other tanking classes, and investing in BI still leaves you with a 30 second cooldown on the ability. In any raid fight where interrupts are useful or important (Council of Iron, for example), a druid on a 30-second cooldown is just going to make it more complicated for the raid to coordinate interrupts. In my opinion, other classes with shorter base CDs on their interrupts are much more likely to be effective at rotating the responsibility without the 30-second bear throwing off the rhythm. :)

      Primal Tenacity is very useful for PvP, but I haven’t found it to be terribly helpful in raids. If you’ve got a shaman in the group with Tremor Totem, then the talent becomes pretty pointless. Add to that it seems like half of the stun effects in raid encounters are “storyline” mechanics that even Insignia of the Horde/Alliance isn’t going to let you get out of, and I’d rather put those points in something else.

      Comment by Luxul | February 8, 2010 | Reply

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