Regional Flag[4.0 GUIDE] Bear Tanking for DummiesSource
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#0 - 2009/06/08 12:35:19 PM
Bear's Manual to Tanking
Now with extra large pages for clumsy claws. By Legende - Khadgar Europe

Welcome, druid, to becoming a good bear. I trust the great Bear Spirit has been generous with his knowledge to you as well about shapeshifting into a bear, with body and heart. If he hasn't, then before reading this guide you should speak to him in Moonglade, and you should really visit the class trainer more often. This column will guide you through your furry adventures as a bear tank, from the basics to the very limit of humane play, but is aimed at a bear in the stage of heroic dungeons.
I'll try to update the bear tanking guide as nessecary if major changes occur in future patches. Latest update was during patch 4.0.1. This guide will only discuss bear tanking in PvE, to tank players in PvP you need to become a Moonkin with Starfall. I'll be using many game terms throughout the guide. They are marked with an asterix (*) and are explained at the end of it all for those less familiar with complicated game terms.
If you'd like to add something or discuss something, feel free to chatter about in this thread! Every bear is different and might want to share how they like to roar. I'll try to answer as many questions as possible, I'm good at that.

Table of Contents
1. Strengthes and Weaknesses. Why would you breed bears?
2. Tanking and you. Basics of the tanking principle in general.
2.1. Tanking. Your function, your goal, your dream.
2.2. You. Behaviour in a group is key to having fun.
3. Abilities. Comprehensive list of the buttons you're going to maul.
3.1. Offensive abilities. Methods to gain threat.
3.2. Defensive abilities. Methods to reduce damage.
3.3. Utility abilities. Methods to become useful.
4. How to use abilities. The important part of being bear is how to use your claws.
4.1. Single enemy. Fair one versus one combat but with a healer on your side.
4.2. Double enemy. For when you've had too much alcohol.
4.3. Trash pack. Ordinary trash packs in a dungeon or raid.
4.4. Swarms. Learn how to defeat legions of enemies at the touch of a button.
5. Talents of a Bear. Pretend you have talent as tank by filling them in that way.
6. Gear. Making a dodgy and healthy bear.
6.1. Equipment. Making a good-looking tank was never simpler but never harder.
6.2. Enchants. Making your fur shimmer.
6.3. Gems. Tuning your bear to the finest.
7. Frequently Asked Questions. And their answers are also included.
8. Useful links. Includes further reading, add-ons and talent builds.
9. Legend. I always liked that chapter.


1. Strengthes and Weaknesses.
Why would you breed bears? Because they're fun to play in your opinion perhaps, or because you think they're strong. Perhaps you just liked the way they can sit on gnomes or their dance? Let's take us through the strengthes and weaknesses of bears!

Bears in general play it safe. They rely on a relatively large amount of armor and a larger health pool than other tanks. This all counts towards our survivability, our ability to absorb large amounts of damage in a short time and to reduce overhealing*. However, you will also take more damage overall than all other tanks. We have less evasion* (dodge, parry and miss) than other tanks, since we can't parry and generally don't have much Defense Rating. On top of that, armor and dodge are suffering from many Diminishing Returns* and we have little ways to reduce that effect.
Bears are very versatile, especially in easier encounters. We've got sharp claws and strong paws for extremely good threat too and if the enemy has a time-out for a while (fear, a long stun, long cast, or some boss ability that causes it to pause damage), experienced bears may even switch to Cat Form and start out with full energy for that extra burst of damage. We may also switch to Cat Form longer if another tank is found, because in roughly the same talent build and gear you'll deal some sharp amounts of damage as well. They make for excellent off-tanks.
Bears are also rather easy to play. Threat is for most not a problem any more. Once you're in the hang of it you'll easily take everything on. We are also very mobile; without Consecration or Desecration we can go and shuffle about all we want during combat, and shapeshifting removes any rooting or slowing effect. However, possibilities are also a bit limited here and there. We don't have many good panic buttons to use when things are getting bloody.
I found as well that it rarely gets boring to play a druid, but this may be a personal opinion. There are four specialisations possible and every one of them has rather extreme differences and interesting theory to craft.

  • Slightly larger amount of health.

  • Huge, spiky threat on single targets.

  • Hybrid combat, fitting in the needs of the situation.

  • Easy to play.

  • Mobile tanks.

  • Variety as a druid in general.

  • Taking slightly more damage overall.

  • More pressing diminishing returns allow for less progress in gear.

  • Limited panic buttons.

Bear in mind that these differences are diminishing. The generic trend throughout the patches is bringing tanks closer together. This mostly means we're trading in health and armor for mitigation* and we're recieving some extra panic buttons. A raid leader should have no reason to pick a druid above other tanks.
The next chapter will go into more detail what tanking is.

2. Tanking and you.
If you've ever been in a dungeon or raid group where enemies can hit harder than a female gnome you will have seen them. Vast and superior, leading the group into unknown peril while glimpsing over the edge of a broad shield, and always bravely charging in first. These are the tanks and you want to become one.

2.1. Tanking
If you thought becoming a tank was about riding in a huge machine and firing missiles at enemies and the occasional rocket at your healer, you're all wrong. As a tank you will be expected to take all damage but not too much damage. The function of a tank is subject to opinions. Generic opinions are as follows:
  • Thou shallth reduce the damage the entire group takes as much as possible.

  • Thou shallth take the hits of ev'ry activated enemy.

  • Thou shallth make sure thee group stayeth alive.

This means you have to take on the attention of every creep that is in combat and not incapacitated, asleep, stunned, frightened, charmed, rooted, disoriented, banished and polymorphed. Especially, keep them off your healer. The healer cannot stop healing, there is no excuse for losing threat against a healer. The healer is also the one that keeps you alive and is probably quite vulnerable to attacks. Whether or not the duty of a tank is to keep them off damage dealers as well even if they don't mind their threat, can turn into a long discussion sometimes. Taking attention is abbreviated as 'having aggro'. This is done by attacking (generating threat). The player with the most threat will nearly always be the victim of the NPC. To take over aggro from someone, you have to have 10% more threat than the current target in melee, or 30% in range.
This also means you have to take as less damage as possible with all these enemies on you. Bears have their armor, dodging, being missed, and their Savage Defense as mitigation*. We can also reduce the healing needed on ourselves by applying Regrowth, Rejuvenation and/or Lifebloom on yourself when you have a couple of safe seconds, before combat for example. There are many debuffs to give to your enemies as to make them deal less damage, and things like Bash and Improved Leader of the Pack help too.

2.2. You
As a tank you will often be charged with leading the group. Tanks are supposed to lead the way through a dungeon. The reason for this comes from the fact that a tank should (nearly) always be the first one to start the combat. This makes all enemies head initially for the tank and makes it much easier for you. Before you charge in though, you should learn to judge what you'll face in that group. Damage dealers will generally attack the ones closest to them (because tab will target that for them) so you should attack those first. For the rest, you might want to try and bring down a healer first if they are around, or any particularily strong foe.
For communicating that with the damage dealers, particularily in raids, there are raid target icons. In the harder groups you will want to put some of these on your enemies. These are the possible markings and their meaning:
  • Skull: First target, main priority of damage dealers.

  • Cross: Secondary target, sometimes held by a second tank in raids.

  • Circle: Tertiary target / Crowd Control or generic utility marking.

  • Moon/Star/Diamond/Square/Triangle: Crowd Control or generic utility marking.

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#13 - 2009/06/08 05:55:27 PM
Added this to the 'Druid Guides & Useful Links' sticky thread: