How to bear tank: levels 21 – 30

Paz at level 60. Yay!
Well hello there, friends. It’s been a while and I apologize for that. I haven’t been on Twitter that much nor have I had any real time to spend on the internet rather than my two-night raids. Even if I don’t know you, will never meet you, or you never comment on this blog, I feel like I have to say: you are my friends, and I enjoy this sometimes one-sided dialogue we have. I enjoy blogging and I wish to continue it for the foreseeable future. My job in that regard is to talk a lot, and that’s something I plan on doing no matter how busy my life has a tendency to get sometimes.

Since my last “How to Bear Tank” post a little bit has happened: I was linked by WoWInsider and got at least 1.8k hits on that very day, I’ve had family issues to deal with, and my job started getting really busy. The last two have little to do with my internetlife and, honestly, aren’t that big of a deal. The post that was linked (You are a good tank.) got comment after comment agreeing with me, telling me how refreshing it was to see a call to decency in a game that can be very harsh. It was nice to get validated by part of the community. I’d also be lying if I told you that I didn’t get a smallish panic attack when I noticed the spike in traffic. It’s almost as if I had no idea that putting words out on the internet could cause people to, I don’t know, read them and take notice (no matter how small).

For this installment I’m going to be looking at levels 21 – 30 or bear tanking and, more specifically, how to do it well. I’ll talk about how to use the new abilities you’re going to get and the glyph system you’ll be introduced to at level 25. Tomorrow I’ll be discussing talent point allocation and (time permitting) the dungeons you’ll run in your 20th season. My main goal here is to help, so if I’m wrong about anything drop a line in the comments and let me know what I need to fix so that anyone reading this will have an accurate guide.

Let’s dive into the abilities first.

LEVEL 22
ENRAGE
(No rage, self-cast, 1 min CD)

Enrage is a tool that some would say is very outdated. Like our Warrior brothers (before Shouts gave rage) it allows us to push a button and generate a decent amount of rage. Unfortunately this comes at a cost: for 10 seconds (the entire time you’re gaining rage) you take 10% more damage. Sometimes this can be a terrible thing – other times it will go unnoticed by you or your healers. My personal opinion is to get into the habit of never using it beyond the first pull so that you won’t have to think too hard about when to use it.

Another thing to grasp is what to do after an Enrage/Furor. After popping Enrage and waiting 10 seconds you will have 40 rage. The worst thing you could do is run into a pack of mobs and slam Maul. Ideally you’ll run in/LOS/do whatever needs to be done, Mangle and Growl if there are multiple targets, and wait until your second auto-attack until pressing Maul. (If you’ll remember my last article on bear tanking, you want to Maul over 55/60 rage and not less.)

How to use at level: You’re staring at a group of four mobs and your rage is at zero. Seems like to perfect time to hit Enrage and rush in, right? Wait! You’re forgetting about Furor! (What’s that? I forgot to talk about talent point allocation? FUCK DAMN IT) This wonderful little talent gives us 10 free rage just for shifting into razorblade!bear form. So, let’s rewind our scenario: shift out of bear form and immediately shift back in (I’d highly recommend keybinding this to an accessible key), smash Enrage, wait a few seconds and wreak bloody havoc on the Bad Things.

LEVEL 22
SKULL BASH
(15 rage, 13 yrd range, 1 min CD)

Our interrupt. I love this thing. I also enjoy the fact that we get it early as a reminder that, yes, we can interrupt and that, yes, we should be every chance we get. Keep in mind that until patch 4.1 our interrupts cost rage and have a chance to miss. When the patch drops in a month and a half/two months it will cost no rage and never miss. Now, while leveling we may be hard-pressed to find gear with +Hit, but I’d be lying if I said my Skull Bash missed all that much in dungeons. (Anecdotal evidence! Shame!) It gets worse when you hit the level cap, but while we’re coasting along in Gnomer or Scarlet Monastery we should not have that much of a problem with interrupting.

Side note: the 1 minute cooldown is nothing to worry about. Brutal Impact reduces the cooldown of the ability by 50 seconds, putting the ability in line with other melee interrupts at 10 seconds. The highest level you can reach this talent is at 39, though I’d suggest waiting until 41/43 until filling it out because Leader of the Pack is so awesome. Once 4.1 comes out and Skull Bash can no longer miss this talent will be mandatory for anyone who enjoys being a bigger asset to your group/raid other than being the fuzzy meatsponge.

How to use at level: Bad Thing casting KILL TANK DEATH CLEAVE? Skull Bash that mothersucker, yo.

LEVEL 24
FAERIE FIRE (FERAL)
(No rage, 30 yrd range, 6 sec CD)

Faerie Fire is an ability the we druids get that allows us to reduce the armor of our opponent by 4% of each stack, stacking up to 3 times. Faerie Fire (Feral) is what we, the bear and cat druids, get to use. The only difference between the two is that (Feral) can be used in, SHOCK, feral forms. Feral Aggression makes this ability very handy for us bears as it allows us to dump all three stack of FF(F) on our target at once, giving us a goodly amount of threat and 12% armor reduction on our target.

How to use at level: I use it to pull, mostly. Once you get this ability I would strongly suggest doing the same, as having Growl off CD just in case something bad happens is a great way to plan ahead. As a tank, you’ll be required to plan ahead with such things, so learning them as you’re leveling is a Very Good Thing, indeed. (It’s also decent for a Low Rage Rotation, in which case you use it when you have very little rage but still need to build threat. FF(F) is no slacker when it comes to threat, so never be afraid to use it or spread the debuff around.)

LEVEL 28
CHALLENGING ROAR
(15 rage, 10 yrd range, 3 min CD)

Challenging Roar is a lot like our old friend Growl only it works on every monster within 10 yards of you. How cool is that, guys? Give up? It’s very fucking cool. The 3 minute CD keeps us from being too liberal with its usage, but that does not mean you should be stingy with it if it happens to be off CD and you have no other way to get aggro quick enough. At level 28 you’ll have one AE ability (Glyph’d Maul, which we’ll discuss later) and a worn-out Tab key, so this ability is a godsend for those pulls gone terrible.

How to use at level: Like I said before: don’t be stingy with it, but think about when you use it. If you’re up against three melee monsters, should you really be using Challenging Roar when you can FF(F) one, Growl another, and Mangle the last? I save it for times when two groups get pulled (mostly by DPS who enjoy kissing the floor) or the pull just plain goes wrong. Though that’s my preference, I’m sure you’ll find a sweet spot to give this ability all the love it deserves.

LEVEL 29(?)
FERAL CHARGE
(5 rage, 8 – 25 yrd range, 15 sec CD)

What’s that, an ability not trained but learned from talent points?! Paz, you cry, you’ve gone mad! Mad with the jungle-fever! And to that I retort: yes, I am mad from jungle-fever, but this is no error in judgment. The simple fact is that I forgot to mention how to spec your new bear tank last article and I’m rectifying that very soon. The other simple fact is that it is possible to get Feral Charge at level 29 (though I do not recommend it).

Feral Charge is a fun little thing known as a “gap closer”. For those less educated about context clues, a gap closer is something one can use to get to a monster or opposing player in PVP much faster. (Not to be confused with a snare or root.) Feral Charge costs 5 rage (a relic from when the ability used to interrupt spell-casting as well as rush your furry butt towards a monster/player) and makes you go all “zoom zooooom” towards whatever you are targeting. It’s fun, guys, it really is. You become this chainsaw-equipped death machine, a furry panzerbjorn with a damn rocket strapped to your back, a tank most quick, a metaphor similie metaphor, and it’s so fucking awesome I don’t understand it.

BUT WHAT I DO FOR GLYPHS PLZ

Glad you asked.

At level 25 you gain access to glyphs. Glyphs, in a nutshell, are scrolls you can get from Scribes (who have learned the primary profession Inscription) that are used to augment your existing abilities. Some glyphs make an ability do something else entirely, sometimes they just lower the cooldown, other times they make abilities stronger. What each glyph does depends entirely the glyph in question, as you’d guess.

There are three types of glyphs:

PRIME GLYPHS – These are glyphs which are very easy to understand: they make some of your abilities stronger. These glyphs make things hit harder, heal harder, be harder, etc etc.
MAJOR GLYPHS – These are sometimes easy to understand: most of the times they add additional things to your abilities which can sometimes be useful and sometimes not. Major Glyphs, unlike Prime Glyphs, are not so easy to confine within the realms of “good” and “bad”. Half of the time, depending on your class and spec, Major Glyphs are preference rather than “U MUST TAKE THIS NAO”.
MINOR GLYPHS – These glyphs are extremely easy to understand: they do small things, things which will never make or break the way you tank or heal or do damage.

At level 25 you gain access to one glyph each. Depending on your server or guild you may have to go to the Auction House to get some. Once again, depending on your server, these glyphs can range from between 3 gold and 300 gold. Just know that at level 25 the only glyph that will make a huge difference is Glyph’d Maul. The other ones I mention will not make or break your tanking, but that doesn’t mean you should forget about them: keep an eye on the AH to see them dip when the market is inevitably flooded for a short time.

Recommended Glyphs:
Prime Glyph – Mangle This glyph is easy: it makes Mangle hit things harder. What’s not to love?
Major Glyph – Maul Another easy one: it makes your Maul hit two targets, giving you a very much welcome “AE” at level 25. This will not make things infinitely easier, but it will certainly make your life a little less stressful.
Minor Glyph – Challenging Roar The only bear Minor Glyph with any real purpose: with this your Challenging Roar ability is reduced by 30 seconds, giving it a 2 minute 30 second cooldown. It’s nothing game-breaking but it’s a nice little quality of life glyph.

That’s all for today, friends. Tomorrow I’ll have a post up midday talking about talent points and the benefits we get just from choosing to play the best tanking class in the game.

- Paz

2 responses

  1. Great post, I love these kinds of reads :)
    A good way to use Furor without waiting around for shapeshifting in and out, is to do a key that will only make you shapeshift into bear (this used to be more valuable when druids could still shapeshift out of snares). That way if you are in bearform and press the key, you’ll still be in bearform but 10 rage richer! I don’t play a druid much myself so I don’t know if this could even work while fighting and in desperate need of rage, I’ve just seen that my better half uses this macro alot (which also is the reason I don’t have the macro myself).

    • I would never powershift midfight for a Furor proc. Melee attacks and getting hit provide enough rage to coast you through as long as you’re not spamming Maul every 3 seconds. Most times that I find myself with little rage in boss/trash encounters can be solved by giving Maul a little rest. :)

      Thanks for the comment! Love hearing that people don’t fully believe that I don’t know what I’m talking about, haha.

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