Not smarter than your average bear - an #MMONBI post

Battlechicken's 4th challenge for those newbies (yes, yes I know, I am not a Newbie, but maybe if I write about it some Newbie might be inspired by my post - thought that would only work if Newbies actually read my blog, and I don't think I have attracted any with my crazy rants) is a difficult one!

Week 4 Challenge - LEARNING IS FUN
Find something you only know a little bit about, learn something new, and tell us what you learned.
So my challenge is - how to grin and BEAR it.

I haven't really bear tanked properly in a raid since Karazhan, way back when.  I even had to tank up for Zul'Gurub back in the day which was bloody scary.  People laugh when I say that I used to tank, because the idea of it is so foreign (almost as scary as when Fue tells me he was healing).  Tanking full time is challenging and most tanks are quite emotional and get cranky and burnt out, so we do go through a fair few.  I'm hoping Mists will produce a few monk healers and tanks for our raid teams and that people will start coming back to raiding.

So, should I learn about tanking in Cataclysm, or research what I should be doing in Mists?  I decided to just look at Mists, because I figured by the time I learnt all about bears in Cataclysm, it would all change come the expansion.

Sunnier's Art of War is where I would go if I wanted to read about Bear tanking.  Call me sexist, but a girl tank just seems rather cool to me - I'm a bit tired of hearing that girls only heal or play a ranged DPS.  So to be different maybe I'll try to learn bear tanking and I'd better learn it well because there will be a hell of a lot of criticism!  Besides, going tank for Mists is good for dungeoning, because I am sure I can find a healer (cough, Lushnek) to accompany me and get our "stuffs".  So I went to see what she had to offer me in terms of teaching a new bear.

So I started with reading Bears Still Need More Flavor. This post talks about the changes with Mists, what talents bears have lost and what could we do to improve the Guardian spec of Druid.  I realised that this post was a bit beyond me, because it assumed I had some knowledge of Bear, which I don't.  So it looks like I need to go even further back.  Maybe I should go back to Cataclysm bear tanking so I can get my head into the basics so I can understand what all these clever people are talking about.

Sunnier has a rotation to follow in her Bear Guide:
Single Target
Bears follow a priority system. This is the most basic rotation, though there are variations depending on whether you want to maximize threat, damage, or damage reduction (I’ll get into those later). Remember that you can pull with Faerie Fire (Feral) and don’t forget to apply Demoralizing Roar as soon as you have a decent threat lead.
  1. Mangle, whenever it’s available.
  2. Maul if you have 70 or more rage. It’s off the global cooldown, so you can hit it at the same time as other attacks.
  3. Lacerate, get 3 stacks while still prioritizing Mangle when it’s available.
  4. Pulverize, if you have 3 stacks Lacerate and the Pulverize buff not up or about to fall off.
  5. Keep Lacerate on the target for Berserk procs.
  6. Use Thrash and Lacerate as a filler, when you have nothing else to do. Thrash is our second best threat generating attack, behind Mangle. Even on single target.
Multi Target (more than 3)
Multi target is closer to an actual rotation. It should look something like this:
Thrash -> Swipe -> Mangle -> Swipe -> repeat.
Don’t forget to apply Demoralizing Roar as soon as you have a decent threat lead, and use Maul if you have extra rage.
OK, I have no idea what Pulverize is.  I don't think I have that ability.  Let me check my talents - oh there we go, I don't have Pulverize as a talent.  No wonder I don't know what it is (I am specced kitty after all!).  Well, ok, maybe this is one of those things that need I need to go practice.  But I have no gear - well I do, but it's all cat gear, and I'll be damned if I'm going to carry healing gear, PVP healing gear, kitty gear AND bear tank gear.  Though... if I do that, I may have a 4th set to transmog.  IDEA!!!

OMG I love this picture! It's by NightblueArt for the WoW TCG

Next stop, the Inconspicuous Bear.  This is one of those Team Wafflecast people I think!  Ooh look what a nice banner on their blog!  Whoops, I was supposed to be looking at Bear tanking - phew, there's even a whole forum on it!  Looking at it, it's great!   This is what I need to read.   I am trying to figure out what stats to stack and what are hit and expertise caps and things.  Ooh, here's a bit on stats and reforging.  This whole bit is interesting:
There is no “tanking leather” and getting dodge as secondary stat means suboptimal gearing, you should be filling your gear slots with x/Mastery gear. Beyond that, Expertise/Mastery and Crit/Mastery gear choices are the absolute best. However, because there are stats better than Mastery (Agility and Dodge), you should not be reforging or gemming towards it.

For reforging, the best course of action is reforging the least wanted stat into Dodge Rating. This is the best support for survivability, while simultaneously keeping our avoidance above the plate tanks. The Reforge priority is as follows, from least wanted to most wanted:

Haste to Dodge.
Hit / Expertise (if beyond soft cap), if no Haste, to Dodge.
Crit >= Expertise (if below soft cap), if no Hit or Haste to Dodge.
Mastery, if no Haste, Hit, Expertise or Crit, to Dodge.
So what's hit cap?  Oh I see, here it is. 8% (961 hit rating) is what I should be aiming for.  Expertise soft cap is 26.  Same as cat.  Is there a certain amount of Dodge I should have?  Surely Dodge is a good thing for a tank, but I can't figure out how much I should have, or what's a good number.

"Insignia Taken" - by Sleepingfox

OK, I think I have a bit of a rotation out, and I have a vague idea about stats.  Maybe now I can look at some of the Mists of Pandaria stats I'm supposed to be aiming for.  This is what I got from Inconspicuous Bear's Mop Guardian Bear spreadsheet:
  • Dodge > Crit > Expertise = Hit > Mastery > Haste
  • ~5 RPS leading to a ~50% Savage Defense uptime (in practice will be slightly less with RNG causing rage clipping and starvation)
  • 10 RPS is the theoretical Soft Rage Cap, 20 RPS allows us to keep FR up fulltime too.
  • Beyond Rage Cap, Hit Haste Crit and Expertise lose all of their value.
  • Mastery is pretty crap at the moment (Dodge is ~2-3x better)
OK the first line I can understand.  The second line... what's RPS?  Rage per second?  I think that makes sense since it's rage that funds all our bear activities.  And what's FR?  Sigh, I really need to go do more reading.

I am almost ready to give up here.  I was reading Tzufit's post about Intentionally Undergeared: The Role of Instinct in Skill, and this bear thing doesn't come naturally to me.  When I read about druid healing I know exactly what's going on and I can understand when people are describing something, but this all sounds a bit like mumbo jumbo.  Lucky I'm only going to start learning it during the expansion so that I won't look like a total nooblet.  I hope.

This is me - Noob Tank

I think I've embarrassed myself long enough.  With this amount of homework I've done, I hope that I can do a little bit of bear tanking myself without being laughed at to much.  The thing that really petrifies me is being terrible at it, and all my friends and guildies laughing at me or talking about me behind my back about how crap I am.  I don't feel like that about my healing, even if I am the lowest on the meters these days, because I know that I am good at what I do.  Sounds conceited though, doesn't it?  But it's true, I know healing but I don't know this tanking business.  I guess talking about it isn't going to solve anything, I just need to get out there and do it. 


  1. And remember to tank the boss from the front navi! Not the tail end of a dragon ;) -Roshi

  2. Nice Photoshopping BEAR FART :D

    Remember if you ever need any tips or tricks, I'm happy to help in either general tanking or bear tanking :)

  3. @Roshii - meanies :)
    @Tout - interestingly that's not photoshopped! It's one of those flares and I stood on it. Thank you for the offer, and I will ask if I need, but I want to try and do it myself first and then ask when I get stuck :)

  4. Looks great, I have a druid heal/tank that I've played as a main for several years. Most your thoughts and research is spot on. Now I also know where to go to get prepared for MoP taking myself. Change can be fun!

  5. Hey, Navi - even though I normally play Alli side, I do have an 85 ret paladin Horde-side who is not heroic geared. If you want some help in terms of some DPS who promises not to laugh at you, hit me up. We'll need to connect for RealID, though. (Also, it hasn't been that long since I've been new to tanking. Heroics are SCARY.)

  6. @gnomegates - Ty for visiting! Change will be interesting, but not sure about the fun yet! Petrifying maybe!
    @shortly - that is so sweet! I hope u have enough gold for repairs :) will let u know when I start!

  7. Hehe, awesome post, Navi! I taught myself bear tanking just like you did around the end of T11. I enjoyed it, but I hated being worried that I was going to be the one to cause the group to fail, so I went back to moonkintreecat. lol.

    Thanks for letting us in on your research process! :-D And good luck! I hope you'll update us!

  8. You sure made a point out of it to do enough research! I don't like bear tanking, I find it too hard compared to the easy mode-pala and dk tanking where it's so evident to keep aggro. Don't worry about it though, just explain to people you are new to it and here to learn, so they keep that in mind.

    I think FR is Frenzied Regeneration, or that's the only bear skill I can think of.. But it doesn't make sense to me in that sentence - I've never even heard of a hard or soft "rage cap" (feel silly now!).

  9. @battlechicken - TY! LOL at you going back to the soft option. Great challenge!
    @Toki - I am still scared though. And I'm not convinced it's FR because how can that be up all the time?

    1. FR is genuinely Frenzied Regeneration. It does seem like nonsense in that sentence, which is the point Arielle (I think it was him) is making. If you can get enough rage to support Savage Defense (SD) and Frenzied Regeneration (FR) up every time you can (100% uptime), then basically you're too overpowered.

      The point of the Active Mitigation model is to make you push buttons to survive. By making it be maintenance of two buffs (SD & FR), it's not a "fun" way to tank yet for Bears... especially if you can keep them up 100% of the time anyway - then you're Rage Capped (meaning: you can't spend enough of the stuff, so that resource goes wasted).

      As a quick aside, in Cata we actually functioned as a two-resource class. Attacking (or being hit) would generate Rage (resource #1), which would pay for special abilities. Lacerate would cause a stacking debuff on the opponent (resource #2), which is where the 2nd resource comes in. That stack could be spent with Pulverize - which cranked up your crit chance (which meant more damage, and more Savage Defense procs!).

      When I learned bear tanking, I had never tanked before, ever. The biggest thing to know is never read out-of-date guides. Once upon a time Maul was a "make the next hit harder" self-buff, so you always hit it, now it's a rage-sink, something you push when you have too much rage. I was constantly out of rage, and couldn't hold aggro on anything because I was just doing the wrong stuff.

      Another big ticket item to know is that the default UI for aggro is useless. You need an add-on called Tidy Plates:Threat Plates. It gives you floating health bars over the mobs heads', which are color-coded (and re-sized) based on their aggro. The only thing to be cautious of there is that it doesn't really tell you what's CC'd, so don't go "pick up" the CC'd mobs, your PUGs will complain if you do that. A lot. I still do this all the time. :)

      The final thing to be aware of is that there are just too many abilities these days. You'll need at least two full action bars of buttons to push. It's absurd, especially when you read the three/four button rotations (or priorities) lists that are suggested behaviors. But hardly anyone mentions all the other little cooldown things to push, like Berserk (to's credit, they did explain this well to me). Put everything that doesn't change you out of bear on your bars, including your racial abilities.

      Anyway, great job taking on one of the strangest tanks in the game. Sunnier's blog is great, I'm a big fan of hers (especially the homemade art!). One of her posts explains bear tanking the best, by calling us "offensive tanks" - in Cata, to survive better, we hit the enemy harder. That's what I love most about bears. There's a cute little cartoon of a bear saying "#$%^&@!!!" to accompany it.

      Trying to learn bear tanking in the Beta is going to be tough, as nothing is tuned well yet - aggro is all over the place, and damage is pretty strange currently as well. If you're learning a class for the first time, be sure to do the polished version that's live.

      Great write-up!

    2. @Khuruuk - OMG thank you for visiting! It's great to have a real bear tank (and blogging one at that!) come visit and give me advice when I'm being totally spazz trying to understand things. I will be on your site constantly when I learn it for Mists :)


Post a Comment

I hope these comments work! Not sure why people can't comment lately, it makes me sad :(