Part 0: Introduction
Part 1: Why Play a Bear Tank?
Part 2: Talent Overview, Builds, Leveling
Part 3: Abilities, Rotation, Cooldowns
Part 4: Gear/Glyphs/Enchants/Gems/Consumables
Part 5: Addons and Other Resources
In this section, we’ll discuss all the relevant feral talents, put them together into some talent builds, and also talk about leveling as feral a little bit. Grab a drink, and let’s dive in. (Note: For almost all talents, you either invest full points or no points, so I’ll only list the description for the full point investment here.) Note: If you want to skip the talent wall-o-text and go right to the builds/leveling advice, click here.
(Feral druids will never take a talent from the balance tree.)
Feral Combat, Tier 1:
Feral Aggression, 5 points: Increases the Attack Power reduction of your Demoralizing Roar by 40% and the damage caused by your Ferocious Bite by 15%.
This is a very situational talent. Demo Roar, by itself, is an essential ability for boss tanking, (16% melee damage reduction). The imp. version tacks on another 1% DPS reduction per point. For 25-man progression raiding, that extra 5% reduction in boss damage is very important. However, you’ll give up a lot of hybrid DPS utility. IMHO, best picked up only for progression fights where tank survivability is an issue. (Gormok, Vezax, etc).
Feral Combat, Tier 2:
Feral Instinct, 3 points: Increases the damage done by your Swipe ability by 30% and reduces the chance enemies have to detect you while Prowling.
Without this, you will struggle mightily at AOE tanking. Recommended, but skippable on a situational basis.
Savage Fury, 2 points: Increase the damage caused by your Claw, Rake, Mangle (Cat), Mangle (Bear), and Maul abilities by 20%.
Must-take talent for DPS/TPS.
Thick Hide, 3 points: Increases your Armor contribution from cloth and leather items by 10%.
Very good talent for mitigation. The 10% increase stacks multiplicatively with the 400% increase from Dire Bear Form. Required for tanking, though the least-important “required” talent.
Feral Combat, Tier 3:
Feral Swiftness, 2 points: Increases your movement speed by 30% in cat form and increases your chance to dodge while in cat form, bear form and dire bear form by 4%.
2 talent points for 4% dodge? No-brainer, grab it.
Survival Instincts, 1 point: When activated, this ability temporarily grants you 30% of your maximum health for 20 sec while in Bear Form, Cat Form, or Dire Bear Form. After the effect expires, the health is lost.
Your best cooldown ability, will save your bear butt in a pinch, especially when glyphed. Also allows for insane HP numbers to win tank HP pissing contests. Get it.
Sharpened Claws, 3 points: Increases your critical strike chance while in Bear, Dire Bear or Cat Form by 6%.
Nothing too great here for Bear, but you need it to unlock two essential Tier 4 talents, so take it.
Feral Combat, Tier 4:
Shredding Attacks, 2 points: Reduces the energy cost of your Shred ability by 18 and the rage cost of your Lacerate ability by 2.
A purely DPS talent, but a good one. Recommended for a hybrid build.
Predatory Strikes, 3 points: Increases your melee attack power in Cat, Bear and Dire Bear Forms by 150% of your level and 20% of any attack power on your equipped weapon. This talent now also causes the druid’s finishing moves to provide a 7/13/20% chance per combo point to make the next Nature spell with a cast time below 10 seconds instant cast.
Some extra AP…the insta-cast nature spells part (new in 3.2.2) will be great for leveling, but not much use for raids. Talent is meh but required, so take it.
Primal Fury, 2 points: Gives you a 100% chance to gain an additional 5 Rage anytime you get a critical strike while in Bear and Dire Bear Form and your critical strikes from Cat Form abilities that add combo points have a 100% chance to add an additional combo point.
Great for rage generation. Take it.
Primal Precision, 2 points: Increases your expertise by 10, and you are refunded 80% of the energy cost of a finishing move if it fails to land.
Expertise is great for boosting your DPS/TPS, and a lot of early leather doesn’t have any. Reccommended, though less necessary once you get to the soft expertise cap. This is also an excellent hybrid talent, as you will probably not be hitcapped.
Feral Combat, Tier 5:
Brutal Impact, 2 points: Increases the stun duration of your Bash and Pounce abilities by 1 sec and decreases the cooldown of Bash by 30 sec.
PVP talent. Skip it.
Feral Charge, 1 point: Teaches Feral Charge (Bear) and Feral Charge (Cat).
Very good for tanking/hybrid DPS, as the mobility lets you get to adds faster, and the interrupt can be helpful on some fights. It’s skippable for a max survivability build, though.
Nurturing Instinct, 2 points: Increases your healing spells by up to 70% of your Agility and increases healing done to you in Cat Form by 20%.
PVP/semi useful Cat talent. Skip it.
Feral Combat, Tier 6:
Natural Reaction, 3 points: Increases your dodge while in Bear Form or Dire Bear Form by 6%, and you regenerate 3 rage every time you dodge while in Bear Form or Dire Bear Form.
Essential tank talent. Take it.
Heart of the Wild, 5 points: Increase your Intellect by 20%. In addition, while in Bear or Dire Bear Form your Stamina is increased by 10%, and while in Cat Form your Attack Power is increased by 10%.
More stam = less dead. Take it.
Survival of the Fittest, 3 points: Increases all attributes by 6% and reduces the chance you’ll be critically hit by melee attacks by 6%. Also grants 33% bonus armor in Bear form and Dire Bear Form.
The best tanking talent in the tree, by far. Makes you uncrittable (540 defense? who cares?), huge stat boost, and big armor buff, all in 3 little points. Need I say take it?
Feral Combat, Tier 7:
Leader of the Pack, 1 point: While in Cat, Bear or Dire Bear Form, the Leader of the Pack increases the ranged and melee critical chance of all party members within 45 yards by 5%.
Awesome talent for raidbuffs, take it. Even if there’s another feral, you need it for PotP anyway.
Improved Leader of the Pack, 2 points: Your Leader of the Pack ability also causes affected targets to have a 100% chance to heal themselves for 4% of their total health when they critically hit with a melee or ranged attack. The healing effect cannot occur more than once every 6 sec.
This talent is absolutely godly for soloing/leveling. Unfortunately, it doesn’t proc off of bleeds, but you’ll still see it pop every 7-8 secs or so if you’re steadily attacking. In a raid, it’s helpful, but it can be skipped.
Primal Tenacity, 3 points: Reduces the duration of fear effects by 30%, reduces all damage taken while stunned by 30% while in Cat Form, and reduces the mana cost of Bear form, Cat form and Dire Bear form by 50%.
PVP talent, skip it.
Feral Combat, Tier 8:
Protector of the Pack, 3 points: Increases your attack power in Bear Form and Dire Bear Form by 6%, and the damage you take is reduced while in Bear Form and Dire Bear Form by 12%.
Essential tank talent, take it.
Predatory Instincts, 3 points: While in Cat form, increases the damage from your melee critical strikes by 9% and decreases the damage taken from area of effect attacks by 30%.
DPS-only talent, skippable.
Infected Wounds, 3 points: Your Shred, Maul, and Mangle attacks cause an Infected Wound in the target. The Infected Wound reduces the movement speed of the target by 25% and the attack speed by 20%.
Essential debuff for boss tanking. However, of all the tanks, ferals probably spend the most, utility-wise, to pick this up, so it’s optimal if another tank can keep this up.
Feral Combat, Tier 9:
King of the Jungle, 3 points: While Enraged in Bear Form or Dire Bear Form, your damage is increased by 15%, and your Tiger’s Fury ability also instantly restores 60 energy.
The bear buff is pretty useless. (you generally want to avoid using Enrage while tanking a boss, because of the armor reduction). However, its one of the best talents for kitty DPS. Hybrid specs only.
Mangle, 1 point: Mangle the target, inflicting damage and causing the target to take additional damage from bleed effects for 12 seconds. This ability can be used in Cat Form or Dire Bear Form.
A key part of both the bear and cat DPS rotations. You’d be foolish not to get this.
Improved Mangle, 3 points: Reduces the cooldown of your Mangle (Bear) ability by 1.5 sec., and reduces the energy cost of your Mangle (Cat) ability by 6.
This is a very marginal ability for 3 points. Without delving deeply into the rotation (I’ll save that for part 3), it lets you Mangle every third attack, instead of every fourth. While good in theory, it causes GCD clashes with FFF, which is also on a 6s CD. It’s a “small” DPS/TPS boost, so I generally wouldn’t recommend it.
Feral Combat, Tier 10:
Rend and Tear, 5 points: Increases damage done by your Maul and Shred attacks on bleeding targets by 20%, and increases the critical strike chance of your Ferocious Bite ability on bleeding targets by 50%.
Required for decent tank DPS/TPS.
Primal Gore, 1 point: Grants the periodic damage from your Lacerate and Rip abilities the ability to critically hit.
While this isn’t a huge DPS upgrade, Lacerate crits do proc Savage Defense, so it’s worth it. Obviously required for hybrid specs.
Feral Combat, Tier 11:
Berserk, 1 point: 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. Clears the effect of Fear and makes you immune to Fear for the duration.
Not required, per se, but VERY helpful for burst DPS, and required for hybrid DPS. When tanking H CoS, I regularly am first or second on the overall DPS meters due to effective use of this talent. (And I’ve never failed to get the drake, either.)
(Not every talent is viable for Ferals…I’ll only list the ones that are, and their feral components.)
Restoration, Tier 1:
Improved Mark of the Wild, 2 points: Increases the effects of your Mark of the Wild and Gift of the Wild spells by 40%, and increases all of your total attributes by 2%.
A buff for all, and a mini-Kings for you. Take it.
Furor, 3 points: Gives you 60% chance to gain 10 Rage when you shapeshift into Bear or Dire Bear Form, and you keep up to 60 of your energy when you shapeshift into Cat Form.
I’m listing the 3pt version here, since this talent is essentially filler to get into Tier 2 (and you’ll be investing 2 points in IMOTW). The rage/energy on shifting is nice for changing to/from DPS, but it’s not necessary at all.
Restoration, Tier 2
Naturalist, 5 points: Increases the damage you deal with physical attacks in all forms by 10%.
Huge damage buff. Required for all feral builds.
Natural Shapeshifter, 3 points: Reduces the mana cost of all shapeshifting by 30%.
Horrible talent, but required for Master Shapeshifter. Certain builds only.
Restoration, Tier 3
Intensity, 3 points: Allows 50% of your mana regeneration to continue while casting and causes your Enrage ability to instantly generate 10 Rage.
This talent used to be somewhat helpful, but the Enrage buff has made the talent worthless. Skip it.
Omen of Clarity, 1 points: Each of the Druid’s damage, healing spells and auto attacks has a chance of causing the caster to enter a Clearcasting state. The Clearcasting state reduces the Mana, Rage or Energy cost of your next damage, healing spell or offensive ability by 100%.
This is, point-for-point, the highest DPS talent for kitty DPS. That said, it’s not that great for bears, as rage is typically not a major issue.
Master Shapeshifter, 2 points: Natural Shapeshifter Grants an effect which lasts while the Druid is in the respective shapeshift form. Bear Form – Increases physical damage by 4%. Cat Form – Increases critical strike chance by 4%.
This talent is essentially 5 points (since you have to pick up the totally worthless Natural Shapeshifter to get it), and it’s not that great for 5 points. Take it only for a high-DPS build (or if you’re lucky enough to have another tank to pick up the attack speed debuff from IW).
Base + IW (0/53/10), 8 pts to spend
This is your baseline Bear build. At this point, you can choose to go in several different directions. (Infected Wounds may or may not be baseline, depending on your situation, but I include it here to get down the tree.)
Hybrid Tank/Soloing/DPS (0/60/11)
This is my preferred build. It adds OoC, Shredding Attacks, KOTJ, and ILOTP, to give you excellent DPS and soloing ability. This build lacks Predatory Strikes- if you don’t care about the soloing ability, feel free to drop ILOTP for 2/3. To max it, you’ll have to drop something more valuable, like a point from Feral Instinct (-10% swipe damage), IW (+6% boss attack speed), Feral Charge, or something else. Obviously, if someone else is putting up the attack speed debuff, dropping points from IW is not a big issue.
MaxSurvival (0/60/10), 1 filler pt
This build adds 5/5 Feral Aggression, to give you the Improved Demoralizing Roar debuff (-5% boss melee DPS) and ILOTP, with a filler point to use where you’d like.
MaxDPS/TPS (0/53/16), 2 filler pts, drops IW
This build goes for maximum bear DPS/TPS. It drops IW to pick up Imp. Mangle in the Feral Tree, and picks up OoC and NSS + MS. This leaves you with 2 points to use where you’d like, probably ILOTP (or back into IW, if you don’t have someone else to apply the debuff, and you don’t mind it being slightly weaker).
I’m not going to mince words…leveling a feral druid kinda sucks to start. You don’t get catform until level 20, and even then, cat form doesn’t really come into its own until you get Ferocious Bite/Ravage at 32. Balance, with root + nuke, is boring (kill, drink, kill, drink), but much easier. That said, this is a feral guide, so you’re sticking it out. :) (See Lissanna’s druid leveling guide for a TON more info as well.) I’m assuming you’re doing the majority of your leveling via questing/BG’s, as it’s almost impossible to find groups for low-level instances (and bears don’t make great tanks until 40 anyway, when they get Dire Bear). Lissanna has some more info on talents in her guide if you do choose to go that route.
No feral forms until bear at 10…so pretend to be a caster for a while.
10-19: 5/5 Ferocity, 2/2 Savage Fury, 3/3 Feral Instinct
You get bear at 10, but your only attack is Maul…a stronger autoattack! Yay. If you can make it through the first few levels, you get a glyph slot at 15 (buy Glyph of Maul ASAP; for minors, get one of Dash/Thorns/Aquatic Form) and Swipe (AOE attack) at 16. You should now be pulling two enemies at all times. (Three shouldn’t be too bad, as long as you can root it.) Rejoice that you now get travel form at 16, and cry when it becomes obsolete at 20.
20-29: 2/2 Feral Swiftness, 3/3 Sharpened Claws, 2/2 Primal Fury, 3/3 Predatory Strikes (feel free to pick up Survival Instincts instead if you’re dying frequently).
Like I mentioned above, cat isn’t so hot when you first get it. Claw and Rake (lvl 24) are your only two usable abilities for leveling, as most stuff won’t last long enough for a Rip DOT to really be effective. It’s your choice whether to play weak cat or slow bear. If you decide to stay cat, swap your Glyph of Maul for a Glyph of Claw. Do get in the habit of going cat in non-mount areas when you need to get somewhere, to save time.
30-39: 1/1 Feral Charge, 2/2 Shredding Attacks, 1/2 Brutal Impact, 1/1 Survival Instincts, 5/5 Heart of the Wild
Well, your talents aren’t so hot for these levels, but you finally start getting some usable cat abilities. Ferocious Bite/Ravage/Pounce at 32+36 finally gives you a finisher, a couple good stealth openers, and some options. With a point in Brutal Impact and 2 points in Shredding Attacks, you can get off a Pounce and 2 Shreds before the enemy can retaliate, regen to 35 energy, and FB to finish the enemy off, or Rip if needed. Don’t forget about the instant-cast nature spells from Predatory Strikes…toss yourself a heal, or root an enemy, etc.
40-49: 1/1 Leader of the Pack, 2/2 Imp. Leader of the Pack, 3/3 Survival of the Fittest, 3/3 Predatory Instincts, 1 free feral point (your choice)
With Improved Leader of the Pack, things become much easier, due to the constant self-heal. With Dire Bear/Savage Defense, tanking is now quite doable as well, though you’ll need a decent healer since you haven’t picked up any dodge talents.
50-59: 1/1 Mangle, 3/3 King of the Jungle, 2/2 Imp. MOTW (resto tree), 3/5 Furor, 1/5 Naturalist
You are now OP. Mangle rocks. Toss Claw off your bars…Mangle’s your primary attack from here on out (when not shredding). KOTJ makes Tiger’s Fury go from useless to awesome, as you just got a whole lot burstier. You can almost forget DoTs now…Pounce/Mangle/Shred/TF/Mangle/FB kills stuff fast. Or, hell, just charge and Rake/Mangle/TF/Mangle/Mangle, wait, FB. Not quite as fast, but much less setup time. Now, you have a choice after KOTJ. You can either go into the Resto tree to pick up Naturalist/OOC, and come back for the rest of Feral, or you can go for Berserk now. I prefer the first option, but it’s your decision. Also, new glyph, though there’s not much for ferals to choose from at this level (Most of your choices buff Rip, which you’ll hardly use while leveling).
60-69: 4/5 Naturalist (max), 1/1 Omen of Clarity, 1 free feral point, 4/5 Rend and Tear
Not much to say here. YOu get Maim at 62, which can be used as a (horrible) interrupt, and Lacerate at 66, a key part of the bear tanking rotation. Enjoy flight form at 60…all those collect X quests just became 10x easier.
70-80: 1/5 Rend and Tear, 1/1 Berserk, 1/1 Primal Gore, 8 free points
The big additions here are Swipe (Cat) at 71, and Savage Roar at 75. For soloing, neither is much use. Get used to Savage Roar, however, as it’ll be a major part of a feral DPS rotation.
Wow..3000 words…if you’re still here, congrats. :) Probably should have broken this post into two. Ah well. I’ll be putting up Part 3 in the next few days, going over actual rotations for bears at 80…I’ll see you then.