How to Mangle: low-level bear talents circa lvl 30

Hello again, friends.

Something that a lot of people misunderstand is what it takes to be a tank. As a warrior, does a shield make you able to tank? Is it the skill derived from years and years of practice? A lot of people are of the mindset that only the “best” or better players than themselves tank and that any trial on their part is wasted effort. This partly stems from the pressure we put on tanks we run with, be they PUGs or guildies, and also from the stories we tell that glorify our tanks to others. Those more in the know understand that while tanking may not be all that difficult there is a definite burden placed upon their shoulders and thus have no qualms about not wanting to tank.

For a bear, unlike a warrior or paladin, we simply cannot shapeshift and be raid-ready or even dungeon-ready. What separates a cat from a bear, both spec’d Feral, is how we apply our talent points. We have no parry, no traditional block (our “block” being our mastery and inferior to a warrior/paladin), and no more massive health pools relative to other tanks; this puts the onus all on our talents and how they reduce the incoming damage we take.

With the Cataclysm revamp of talent trees it has become even harder to mess up any one build. If you are speccing for DPS you take all the +damage talents you can find and choose any utility talents which looks good to you. The same could be said for healing and tanking to an extent. Even still on my holy paladin I find bear after bear, warrior after warrior, paladin after paladin with a spec which makes no sense and gearing like a hummingbird whose veins were pure LSD. While I can go off cursory knowledge I’ve absorbed by those better than I to tell warriors/paladins how they can improve (DKs be warned: I’ve tried to tank as your class and I’ve done OK, but then I’ve tried to study what it takes to DK-tank at higher levels and OH GOD WHAT THE FUCK BLOOD STRIKE so I’m pretty clueless at your class), they are not what I know in my gut… but bears are. I know bears, baby, and I can help you talent.

CONGRATS, YOU’VE REACHED LEVEL 10

Rather than Balance Express or Restoration Bus you’ve taken the Feral Train to bear town and I’ll be your conductor on this joyous ride.

One of the first things you’ll notice when you specialize into the Feral tree is that you gain access to four abilities, three of which are good for us bears: the first is Mangle, which we’ve discussed before; Aggression, a 25% bonus to our attack power; and Vengeance, a wonky little thing that allows us to gain attack power based on how hard we get hit (up to 10% of our base health). We care little for Prowling as a kitty, so we’ll gloss over that.

Since I’ve only gotten to level 30 with my guides, I’ll only focus on the first 11 talent points you’ll use as a RDF tanking bear. Until level 29 (our 11th talent point) we have only 2 talents that help us out with survivability while the rest will focus on rage generation. It’s hard to critique talents this low on the tree without understanding that some/most have secondary effects that other druids may or may not take should they choose (they should not), but the fact that it takes 14 levels of tanking to get any kind of pure damage reduction talent irks me quite a bit. Perhaps I’ll feel less inclined towards anger later on when the RDF tanking tribulations of Pazdingo have lost their sheen in my memory, but for the moment they’re fresh and I’m pretty damn irritated.

This is the talent selection I strongly recommend at level 29:

Let’s dig a little deeper, why don’t we?

LEVELS 10-11: Feral Swiftness. This is an incredible talent to get so quickly into our tree. Any bear not taking this talent should be shot and skinned for their blasphemy. If you’ve read it and are still confused, I’ll be brief: you get 4% extra dodge. There it is, folks. 4% extra dodge. Any extra of our best avoidance stat is a good thing. Another good thing is that it scales, so as we get more dodge we’ll see a bigger increase via this talent.

LEVELS 13-17: Furor. This is an amazing way to gain rage from zero. You should be using it in conjuncture with Enrage at the start of most pulls when you have no rage. It’s also a boon when you decide to quest for a bit while waiting for RDF queues, since all you need to do is pop Cat Form and bam diggity bam you have 100 energy.

LEVELS 19-21: Primal Fury. I took this first, as opposed to the other three options, because it is a very good tanking talent. 5 rage from any critical attack is nothing to scoff at, despite the fact that crit only becomes very good at a much higher level. Since we wear rogue/low-level hunter/shaman gear, we’ll see some crit on our gear, so why not make it count?

LEVELS 23-25: Infected Wounds. This is a very nice tanking talent. It applies a debuff that reduces the target’s movement speed by 50% and reduces the attack speed of the target by 20%. What we care about is the latter effect, which will overall reduce the incoming damage coming from the Big Bads. More goodness.

LEVELS 27-29: Two abilities: Feral Aggression & Thick Hide. The first ability is a decent threat boost in that it reduces the amount of time it takes for us to apply three stacks of Faerie Fire (Feral). FF(F) is something we always want on the boss or as many monsters as we can get it on to increase the damage done to them. What’s not to love?

The second ability is something I want to spend a little time on. At level 29 we’re allowed access to the third tier of talents, giving you a bevy of abilities to choose from. The problem is that only two of them are actually good for bears, while the other two are pretty crummy given the other choices we have. The two that we will eventually fill out are the aforementioned Thick Hide and Feral Charge. Thick Hide is a glorious talent which does a great number of things: the first is that it increases the armor we get from our gear by 10%; the second is that it increases the armor we have while in bear form by a whipping 78%, something which was increased pretty recently in the expansion; the third is that it makes us immune to Bad Things critting us. All things are amazing for tanking, while Feral Charge only lets us run fast on a 15 second CD. Given that, which would you choose as a bear leveling through RDF? (Hint: you want Thick Hide.)

All in all, by level 29 and 30 you should be seeing a great increase in the amount of damage you can take and your threat. You won’t have Swipe yet but you’ll be much more able to hold onto a few things with the glyph’d Maul and liberal applications of FF(F)/Mangle. Things will not be perfect, but know that it is doable.

Please, if you have any questions feel free to leave them in the comments. I’m but a humble servant, here to help.

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

Race Pride

I’m going to forgo this week’s My Week in Azeroth segment to touch on something that will no doubt be brought up time and time again on this blog: the races in Azeroth. Particularly, the Forsaken. Don’t worry, for the two of you who enjoyed last week’s article, I’m bringing it back next weekend. I’ve found myself having very little time to do much on the internet, much less play WoW, so the post I’ve wanted to write all week has been pushed aside again and again.

To preface, let me make a couple of things clear: 1) if you follow me on Twitter, or take two seconds to browse what I’ve tweeted, you’ll know that I am an unabashed fan of the Forsaken; 2) I know my way around Azerothian lore; 3) there are no playable races in-game that I find to be boring. What I mean by the last part is this: the human model, in-game, is horrible unless you are playing a female. Humans in World of Warcraft, however, are incredibly interesting (tell me with a straight face that the formation of the Defias and the reasons behind it are not really, really cool storytelling). I joke about punting gnomes, as do a lot of Horde players, but honestly I can’t get enough of their architecture and characters. Blood Elves, while I hate their casting animations, are some of the slickest guys you’ll ever see, with a mean streak in them a mile and a half long.

What I find throughout my time playing World of Warcraft is that I’m drawn more towards races as opposed to factions. I think that the Alliance and the Horde are cool and that they’re both as morally gray as the other. They’re both interesting to me. Yet time and time again I wonder why I haven’t picked one side to be fanatically devoted to and I’ve only been able to come up with one reason: I love the races. I love the lore behind the gnomes and dwarves as well as the orcs and trolls. They’re all so fascinating to me. I suppose that if you spend enough time reading the pen-and-paper resource guides to WoW as much as I do, you get a feel for more that happens in Azeroth. More than you would playing through one quest hub/zone.

Some people play through Hillsbrad and come out of the experience hating, loathing, the Forsaken. I read about Brann Bronzebeard’s travels through Brill and about how he has come upon Forsaken losing their minds to the Scourge again and how he’s seen friends or family around the increasingly insane undead shudder and cry out with fear and I see a race beset on every imaginable side by adversity and the rage they possess at simply existing. The smallest things, to me, shed scads of light on things I had previously thought illuminated. There is more than just the Horde, or the Alliance: there are the dwarves and the humans and the tauren that make up both sides. That’s something that I think slides past some people’s mental sieve.

But, if more people cared about a particular race, would this cause a problem? Would we niche ourselves even more than we already have? There are players out there who will never, in their entire life, play an Alliance character, and vice versa. Were there more people who identified and cherished a select few races, could there bloom a group of people who will never, in their entire life, play anything but a blood elf? The stagnation in both cases is astounding: so much is lost by simply only playing as an Alliance, or a dwarf, or a Forsaken. So much lore passed by, so much immersion and emotion thrown to the wayside simply on the basis of perceived superiority.

Keep in mind that this is coming from a person who loves the lore in World of Warcraft. I’ve stayed up entire nights because I wanted to continue a quest line that just never seemed to end, or farmed something on the offchance that I’d have a new vanity item named after a really cool dude. If you’re still lost: I’m kind of insane and often have too much time on my hands. This post is a call-out to those who enjoy their MMORPGs as story-rich as I do. If you’re the kind of dude who only plays blood elves because you like their model most of all and not because they are, without contest, the slickest motherfuckers this side of the Dead Scar – power to you, brother, rock on in your play time.

When the urge to finally write this post was coming upon me I put the call out to Twitter, asking if anyone was as proud of a specific race as I was. Rades was quick to say that there were, in fact, those kind of people out there. (I’m actually kind of ashamed these people slipped my mind…) Antigen, Jong, and Rhidach are all members of the Blood-Elf Appreciation Club (23rd chapter, order of the wombat), Vidalya of various-blogging fame has an intense love of draenei (which is great, ’cause someone has to), Rades himself is a self-professed fan of orcs and Forsaken (I’m getting to him, I think), and Faeldray is a lover of all things tauren. These are, of course, member of the WoW blogging community, with a voice louder than my own and interests known by quite a few people, so there’s always a chance that we’re the outliers of the playerbase.

Idea: people have an intense love of one race and, instead of saying “yeah man I play on the Alliance, but more importantly dwarves” they just say “I’m an Alliance player”. Is this a lie, though? Is there anything inherently misleading about the label – or are they the same thing?

The logistics are slightly confusing at this point, but Loa help me I’m charging forward pretending like I’ve got a clue.

What about you, those two readers I have? Do you have a race you love above all else? Why? I’d love to know in the comments!

(Oh, and speaking of the Forsaken, I have five ideas about posts concerning them… You’re in for a treat.)

Sunday Morning Post: My Week in Azeroth

My Week in Azeroth is a weekly post detailing the things I’ve done in the game which I’ve found to be, either: A) completely cool, B) worth taking screenshots of, or C) something I know is only cool to me but my ego demands I post it anyways. Nothing in this post is serious; it’s a fun thing to do on the weekends when I’m normally very busy. Was your week in Azeroth just as cool as mine? Let me know in the comments!

I love slow weeks, don’t you? No hassle, no deadlines to meet, just you and the cold silence. That’s what this week has been like for me in WoW. I had no raids (indeed, no raid team), no dailies I have to do, no professions I have to level… which leaves me with time to just enjoy the game. Which is really nice. For the past few weeks I’ve been almost frantic trying to find a raid team in AIE who needs a hunter and, surprise, we seem to be too numerous. I almost quit the guild to join an afternoon progression guild on the same server, but thought against it when I was told the guild leader was a hunter and they had another one in their ranks. Now, gear isn’t everything, but I’d at least like a shot at something when it drops, yanno?

None of that right now, though. I can raid later. For now I’ve just been getting some classy achievements on Frite that I’ve been putting off for a while. This mostly included a mad-dash to get the Elder achievements, which I haven’t done in three years. The verdict? Make that FOUR years I’ve let the achievement/holiday slide by me. I’m really bad at this holiday thing. I wanted to do it, I really did, because I want at least one proto-drake, but… maybe next year? *SIGH* Procrastination, you win again.

In happy fun time fuck Tol Barad news:

YEAAAAH

I dislike Tol Barad. I disliked the Isle of Quel’Danas back in BC. I disliked the Argent Tournament in Wrath. Now, I don’t mind dailies, as I need something to do while my DPS dungeon queue ticks ever forward, but something about having a centralized daily hub that you go to every single day irks me. Maybe it’s the convenience. Maybe I just hate things for no reason. Either way, I’m not done with Tol Barad dailies, as I’ve yet to get the tabard/seagull pet/spotlight/ghost wolf. Sadface. I think I may have a problem.

GLORY TO THE SIN’DOREI

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Olim, formerly an Alliance scum, is back where she belongs in the Horde. I had a hard time choosing whether or not to be a tauren or blood elf, but in the end it came down to one thing: which do I think is cooler? To be honest, while I love the Tauren and actually have a few on other servers slowly leveling whenever I get tired of Earthen Ring, I don’t think that Olim was meant to be one. She’s a scientist. Her knowledge of the Light is academic and precise. I just can’t see her being anything but, and the blood elves fit that trope to the letter. The option of gender-changing her was another obstacle, as I think both genders have horrible casting animations. In the end I went with the one who looked less like an idiot: the female.

This means I get to heal again! Yay! And Frite gets free alchemy transmutes/Volatile elements! Yaaay! Everyone wins, but mostly I win!

The prospect of raiding on Olim as opposed to Frite has crossed my mind several times. I’m probably going to end up making her my raiding main because, let’s face it, healers are in far more demand than hunters. This was the case in ICC, and it always made me a bit sad not to be playing the character I refer to as my main, but it’s a rather small sacrifice to get back into raiding (something I want to do terribly).

ARCHAEOLOGY

I’ve gotten into it. I really have, guys. Its mindless fun, like fishing but with more time on my pretty new drake. Around 70 I got my first rare dig (Skeleraptor pet! Score!). Because Archaeology hates me, I didn’t get enough Fossil digsites to make it until around 145, but make it I did damn it!

He’s incredibly adorable and I can’t wait to get his older brother, the Skeleraptor mount.

PAZDINGO UPDATE

I decided to stop tanking for a few levels on Paz and just quest. No pressure, no key-spamming, no cursing at stupid DPS, just me and kitty form and a love for pouncing.

There are some hilarious quests involving this bloodmachine. A random goblin in Gadgetzan wants you to kill basilisks/rocs/hyenas and summon the small gidget so it can harvest their carcass. The bot loves his job, as you can see, and makes what would have normally been a dull “kill 10 pixels” quest into something I actually enjoyed doing. Blizzard’s learning a lot when it comes to quest design and the role that NPCs play in them. This little machine may not be a named NPC who will go on to kill Deathwing, but I’m certainly going to do his quests every time I level a character through Tanaris. Blizzard has been doing this all throughout Cata: Zen’Kiki from the Western Plaguelands (the entire REASON I made my druid a troll :D), Darnell from the Forsaken starting quests, and Orkus the Kingslayer from his quests in Hillsbrad all come to mind when I think of NPCs I won’t be forgetting soon.

There’s a post about NPCs and how Cataclysm has changed their role somewhere in my head, but Rades can do that post a thousand times better than I can.

How was your week, gang? Any phat loot? Cool mounts obtained? RP gear farmed? I wanna know in the comments!

You are a good tank.

Remember how I said I’d frequently update? Yeah, I’m so sorry, guys, but I haven’t been (shock!). This blogging thing is new to me and it seems that, unless there is very real danger in not posting, I can’t be arsed to do it. But you know what? Eff that. Eff that right in its eff-zone, because I love posting, I love this blogging thing, and I want to do it more. So I’m going to. No more “meh but the idea I have is shit, I won’t blog about it” BS I come up with. Idea comes to mind worth posting about? I’MMA DO IT, GANG. There is no way I’m letting this be something else I give up on after five minutes.

LOOKIT WHAT I BOUGHT :D

So, today’s post. Yep. I’ve had this idea for a bit now, and I wanted to really share it in case there are low-level tanks looking for advice, or even players who have been around since Vanilla and haven’t tanked but want to. This post idea came about after a weird little Dire Maul – West run.

Now, to preface, allow me to strut my feathers like the good little boy peacock I am: I am a good low-level bear tank. I am, really. I know what to look for in gear (barring the few levels when I was starting out when I used Intellect leather, but guys I thought I would be a boomkin so shush), I know what the hell my abilities do, I can LOS pull, I can kite (I’ve played a hunter for six years – I can kite, baby, you just have no idea), I can do all of that hoo-hah that you level-capped tanks can do.

But there’s one thing I cannot do, and it is not my fault: I can’t reduce incoming damage. By that I mean I have no defensive CDs yet, so in essence I’m tanking au naturel. Big spike damage coming from the boss? LOL HEAL THROUGH IT PLZ. I don’t have Shield Block (gained @ level 28) and I do not have Divine Protection (gained @ level 30). What I have, by level 29, are two points in Feral Swiftness (4% dodge) and one point in Thick Hide (which equates to a metric assload of armor). At level 30, when both other tanking classes have one or more defensive CDs, I have none. Now, this is not to say that I have nothing going for me – quite the opposite! As a druid I have more passive mitigation in my dodges and the sick armor from Thick Hide (yay for 4.0.6!) to hold me over, so I’m not exactly keeling over every pull.

But, I’d be lying if I said that the lack of CDs were not noticible.

Preface aside, here’s how it went down: I zone in with a shaman healer, warrior DPS, paladin “DPS”, a hunter, and myself as tank. I grab all of the quests from the charming Dagg’thol (what? You want me to bow before your Master, do you? I dunno, Daggy, I have this thing about bowing before Masters who have less than five eyes… oh you don’t say. How many?) and Mr. Warpwood and trek forward. The shaman, upon inspection, is running low on mana. No problem, Innervate hoooo! and I’m back in bear form, popping Enrage and being a polite, patient deathmachine. Then I notice a shield. It belongs to my best friend, the paladin. Thankfully he does not have Righteous Fury on, so I assume he has no dual-spec and expected to tank (why he queued for tank and damage, I haven’t the foggiest). No big deal, this has happened before and the runs have gone smoothly.

My other best friend, the shaman, is bursting with mana, and so we adventure on. Faerie Fire (Feral) the big tree to my right, charge into the pack of treants on my left, and we’re off to the races. For those keeping track at home, the packs of treants come in two varieties: singular or triplicate. This pull happened to have three treants, so that puts us at four monsters hitting my furry behind at once. I’ve tanked more and lived, through liberal kiting, application of Demo Roar, and interrupts, so I honestly thought nothing of it. Dear readers, I came out of that pull with 2HP. There is no punchline.

As much of a tank as I am, I am also a healer, and a DPSer, so after the initial pull and I’m spamming Maul or Mangle for a few seconds, I like to see what everyone else is doing: what they’re casting, where they’re standing, if they’re AFK… the usual. The shaman (my other bestest friend, if you’ll recall) did not start healing until I was on the last treant. So! He was busy: his house was on fire, his grandma fell down a well, his baby was crying, his dog learned to speak and was cursing at him very harshly, his girlfriend was hitting him, his boyfriend was leaving him. It happens, I understand.

Three pulls laters, I’m dead. Now, I have no shaman past 20, nor have I any idea how they heal (I know they like putting stuff that looks like floating poo around me, which is awesome in a 5th grade sense of humor). I do, on the other hand, know how to heal. I know that spamming your low-cost, long-cast heal when the tank is getting hit steadily is a good thing, nay a great thing. I also know that when my HP drops below 20 and I can do nothing but watch while I die, you better pray to all the Loa you can think of, ’cause I wanna see that high-cost, fast-cast heal firing. In essence, I’d like you to heal, and to do it with some semblance of knowledge. I saw neither of this. Instead, I see this:

“god youre terrible. let the pally tank.”

I’m sorry, I blacked out there. For a second I was swimming in a sea of red with shapes moving beyond my sight, indeed beyond my realm of kin, with all of the hate the universe could ever dare produce pumping like magma in my chest. I’m… I’m what?

Friends, let me fill you in on a secret: I am emotionally involved in this game. Let’s define that! It means I care about the people I play with and value my time spent in game. I am invested in this blogging community we have, with the shithole we call an official forum, with the dickheads and the carebears. I care, is what I’m saying, and sometimes I care with my hatred of everything “brotacular” and sometimes I don’t.

I was offended. I was also hurt, I really was. I denied all responsibility to myself. It’s not my fault, I told myself, it’s Blizzard’s for not giving me the tools to perform my job… to his… standa- Wait. To his standards? No. Nononono. Negative, Ghost Rider. Though I still felt that pang in my chest, the one which always follows the slights of LFD dickmuffins, I also felt something like indignation. (“Oh, I’m not good enough for Mr. Shaman, eh? Really? Shall I go respec prot warrior and Last Stand/Shield Block my way to e-fame for your whims? Art thou not entertained, Caesar?”) In a moment I’m proud of, though, I said simply, “Why?”

“idk i just like healing palas. just fucking let pala tank gees”

“Again: why? Do I get a reason or is it ‘because I said so’?”

Nothing. No answer. Nothing, really, from the shaman after that, except some random garble before he left group about “putting *something* near the silljin”. Though, I did get to contend with the hunter pulling every goddamn thing in sight and the warrior making love to his Taunt ability. It was rough, but I did it, and do you know why?

Because I am decent. I know my speech at the top of the post was full of bravado, but guys, honestly, I’m only pretty good, not great. You may see me in a LFD PUG and think “I’ve had better” but I guarantee you’ve had worse.

And this brings me to the title of this post (I applaud you if you’ve made it this far): you are a good tank. I promise you are, no matter what the dickpants in LFD PUGs say. I know you. I’ve leveled alts through LFD. I’ve probably healed you before, or DPSed while you tanked. You’ve made mistakes, and sometimes we’ve wiped, but that’s okay, because I’ve had fun during those times. We may have never seen each other again, but put me behind a healer while you tank and I’ll remember you vividly from our times in Scarlet Monastery/BRD/BC dungeons/Wrath dungeons. Do you know why? Because you’re a good tank, and let me tell you, you’re a fucking dime a dozen.

You will mess up, my friends. You will hit one button when you meant to hit another, and you will wipe. You will focus on the boss while adds are swarming your healer and you will wipe. You will die because you’re eating a sandwich. It’s okay. I promise that you’ll learn, that you’ll adapt and, eventually, people will make level 1 alts on your server/faction just to ask you how they should gem/enchant their gear. All it takes is practice and the devotion to your craft to power through the shitmongers and idiots and just get better at your own pace.

Back in Vanilla, there was a semi-spoken truce among druids: Horde or Alliance, PVP flagged or not, you just didn’t hurt each other. The druid population was dwindling, and support for the class seemed non-existent. This was before Alamo’s famous DURID manifesto. At the time, if you played a druid, you played it because fuck yeah druids best class ever, not because you were OP. Where is that these days? Camaraderie, my friends, I’m looking for the camaraderie.

More examples: in junior high (for my friends over-seas, this would put me in about 7th grade), I had geek friends. I was not all that popular, but the best friends I had then were my geek friends (apart from one friend who was a jock, and we’re still friends to this day). If someone picked on one of us, we’d group up at one of our houses and play video games and tell stories about how we heard that bully was caught picking his nose on the bus or something equally stupid. We bonded together through our adversary.

As adults, our adversaries are immaterial things like money, the time we have left to live, or simply how to survive. We have nothing concrete to direct our anger at. Instead, some of us turn to video games to calm down our aggression. Killing this internet dragon feels good because we are powerful in this game, because we are not John Doe who has ten bills to pay and little money to pay it with. We all do this at some point in our life. Everyone who plays World of Warcraft shares this, and is united by this.

And yet instead the culture sees how my gear is better than yours or how I love blood elves and you love dwarves or how I love Uldum and you love cheese. Does it fucking matter? Really? Why do we have to be so goddamn rude to each other? Yes, I’ve read John Gabriel’s Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory, but I hold a unique position of being completely opposite of that theorem (more on that in another post) and thus am forced to wonder: why?

(Addendum: This spiraled out of control, really. It went from rant to actual post to me ranting again about idiots on the internet. To note: I, honestly, am not upset at the shaman for being rude. What I am upset about is the culture within WoW which believes him a hero for being a douche for no reason whatsoever. That’s all, really.)

How to bear tank: levels 15 – 20

Today I’m going to be talking about the basics of the basics when it comes to low-level bear tanking. Later on I’ll get into some tips that I’ve learned in my experience, but the majority of this post will be going into discussion about what spells we get and how to use them. Most of this will be basic on a level bordering inanity, but I feel it’s necessary to assume that at least one person reading this has never touched bear form as this entire blog is dedicated to a lower level of gameplay (as opposed to the level cap).

Quick note: tanking is going… well, it’s going. At the start my two biggest problems with tanking were survivability and maintaining aggro. At around the 20th level most of my aggro problems had been resolved (by better gear and just plain being a higher level) but the survivability issues are still there and in a very big way. This topic warrants a post of its own, but I thought I’d share my experiences so far before getting into the nitty gritty.

After the cut we’ll stop the jabbering and get onto the meat of this post.

Read more of this post

Starting out.

Before I got the idea for this blog, my only concern was leveling a druid. I had been watching guildies enjoy their moonkins and kitties and bears and thought, “y’know, I have a baby druid already, but he isn’t a troll, which is an obvious tragedy.” So I rolled a new one.

Nothing big planned, just a new alt of many. My initial thought was to level Paz as a moonkin because of my love of ranged and the badass red moonkin form. I had it all in my mind already: the fluffy harbinger of all things starry and death-flavored, barreling down Azeroth, spraying starstuff across the wilderness, meeting hot babes and rescuing dragons from other dragons. I was going to be a badass. Read more of this post

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