Warcraft Druid Tanking Guide

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Disclaimer

I am no longer active on World of Warcraft, and have not even played Lich King. This material should be taken with a grain of salt. I can now be found on the text-based MMORPG Discworld MUD, where I am one of the administrators. Drop by and check us out - it's all text, but I'm sure you'll manage!


Druid Beginner Tanking Guide

V3.0
Written by Drakkos of the Argent Dawn (EU) Server


With thanks for their help and support to: Shandrila (Argent Dawn), Veldarion (Argent Dawn), Ardavon (Argent Dawn), Dagr (Argent Dawn), Lyrena (Argent Dawn), Felyae (Kil'Jaeden), Aralie (Shadowsong), Skylaar (Kilrogg), Omniel (Sporeggar), Kinthak (Dunemaul), Mozi (Sporeggar), Emmerald (Draenor), Orphes (Balnazzar)


Bing! Just thought I'd share a few Tricks and Tactics for those of the Furry Persuasion who might be tempted to add their names to our Roster of Tanks. I take no responsibility for this advice wiping your party.


The intention of this guide is that it's for people who are looking at tanking for the first time, or are Hesitant Tanks. It's not expected that anyone who is already comfortable with tanking will find much of value within, but I appreciate any feedback others may have on it.


Table of Contents

Druid Tanking Equipment

Druid tanking equipment has the following primary characteristics:


  • Leather (of course)
  • High Armour
  • High Stamina
  • High Agility

As a secondary consideration, druid equipment should also have:


  • Strength / Attack Power
  • Intellect
  • Defence / Resilience

You should look to maximise the primary characteristics. The secondary characteristics have lesser importance. Over your entire set of gear, a druid tank needs to hit 5.6% critical hit reduction to become critical hit immune (more on this later). Intellect is important up to a point if you want to do some Hybrid Tanking (which I do recommend – play to your strengths), but too much is going to be a waste. A mana pool of five or six thousand should be more than ample – any more is likely to be unnecessary if you are main-tanking.


Strength or Attack Power are valuable for threat generation, but a lot of your threat comes from static high-threat moves. Don't stack it in favour of primary characteristics, but get it wherever you can.


As far as enchants and gems go, these are easy – where possible, you want Stamina or Agility gems and enchants. Go for stamina primarily and agility second until you have a Very Large Health pool - then you may want to look at additional avoidance for maximum benefit..


The Druid Wiki ( [[1]] ) rates each of the primary stats with the following points (these have been rounded up):


Stat


Weight


Stamina


3.9


Agility


3.45


Defence Rating


2.4


Resilience


1.4


Dodge


2.5


The druid Emmerald scores all the druid equipment according to this model so you can see what ranks high as tanking gear - [[2]] shows an updated version of the very excellent list. The list is not wholly applicable to beginning tanks because, on the standard list, it doesn't take into account hard-caps (Resilience has absolutely no value beyond a certain level, for example). The 'High-Gear' mitigation list takes into account defence and resiliance hard-caps, but won't be entirely appropriate for tanks who are starting out since the assumed druid stat levels of the model are higher. Many thanks to Emmerald for clarifying that point for me.


You should be looking to get Stamina enchants and gems where you can, and Agility enchants and gems when you can't.


Dodge is rated quite highly, but I would recommend avoiding it for reasons I'll explain in the section on mitigation and avoidance.


Usually you should ignore socket set bonuses to ensure maximum benefit from your gear – take the Heavy Clefthoof Legs for example – two blue slots and a yellow slot. The set bonus is +4 dodge rating. The best easily obtainable tanking gem is the Solid Star of Elune (+12 stamina, fits a blue slot). The best easily obtainable yellow tanking gem is the Enduring Talasite (+6 stamina, +4 Defence Rating). Bear in mind (teehee) that after you hit the cap for being uncrittable, defence becomes substantially less powerful as a stat, but we'll ignore that for this comparison. Using this for your yellow slot will get you the set bonus:


Stat


Score


6 Stamina


23.4


4 Defence Rating


9.6


4 Dodge Rating


10


Total Mitigation Points


43


Ignoring the set bonus and putting a Solid Star of Elune into your yellow slot will get you instead:


Stat


Score


12 Stamina


46.8


Total Mitigation Points


46.8


The set bonuses on gear are almost always negligible unless they give you something substantial like an agility or stamina bonus. The only caveat to this is if you are going to be looking to use a meta-gem later on - stacking the most beneficial gems makes it quite hard to meet most meta-gem requirements.


For comparison purposes, the following un-buffed attributes are recommended for tanking heroics. You can do normal five-man instances with substantially less, but this is what you're looking for as a ‘good' tanking makeup.


Stat


Value


Health


12,000


Armour


20,000


Dodge


23%


Crit Reduction


5.6%


Attack Power


1,300


Some Nice Druid Tanking Equipment

The following items are all great for tanking and fairly easy to obtain. They should form the basis of your ‘base' tanking set. I've also included some suggested upgrades for when you need a bit of extra oomph – these will be harder to get hold of, but not so hard that they are unobtainable. The PvP stuff in particular is surprisingly easy to get, and the arena stuff just requires you to be constantly emasculated for a few weeks. The only real risk is never having enough self esteem to sexually satisfy your loved ones ever again. But that's a fair price for Nice Things, right?


Where there is no non-raiding upgrade, or an easily obtainable upgrade that is of Dubious Value, I'll leave it blank.


Slot


Item


Upgrade


Head


Syling Purple Hat


Merciless Gladiator's Dragonhide Helm


Neck


Mark of the Ravenguard
Strength of the Untamed

Necklace of the Deep


Neckless of the Juggernaut


Shoulders


Shoulderpads of Assassination


Merciless Gladiator's Dragonhide Spaulders


Back


Cloak of the Valiant Defender


Thoriumweave Cloak


Chest


Heavy Clefthoof Vest


None


Wrist


Umberhowl's Collar


Veteran's Dragonhide Bracers


Hands


Verdant Gloves


Merciless Gladiator's Dragonhide Gloves


Waist


Manimal's Cinch


Veteran's Dragonhide Belt


Legs


Heavy Clefthoof Leggings


None


Feet


Heavy Clefthoof Boots


None


Rings


Iron Band of the Unbreakable
Mok'Nathal Clan Ring


Ring of Unyielding Force
Yor's Revenge


Trinkets


Argussian Compass
Badge of Tenacity


Darkmoon Card Vengeance


Weapons


Braxxis' Staff of Slumber


Earthwarden


The 'upgrade path' here is mostly based on bear mitigation points assigned by Emmerald - as you progress and build up your equipment, you will find that you may disagree with this as a metric, but if you're at that point you'll know for yourself what's going to be good for you.


I'm going to talk a little about the Badge of Tenacity as a special case - it's one of the best druid trinkets out there partially because of the armour on it, but also because of the 'on use' which gives a big boost to agility for twenty seconds. Unfortunately, it is not easy to get hold of because of how it drops. I myself grinded a full 27 hours before it finally dropped for me, and I've seen it on the auction-house three times since the patch that introduced it. The first two times it was over 2,000g to purchase. The last time, it was an 1,800g buy out. It's a fantastic trinket, but very highly sought after and not something that you can easily grind for.


However, its value, in my opinion, starts to diminish once you're looking at the equipment on the upgrade path - armour becomes a less sought after property since the things you'll be getting are often heavy in armour themselves. The darkmoon card gives a huge chunk of stamina and also some nice extra multi-mob threat generation. Moroes gives a nice extra 'ohshit' button. Such things are sometimes quite hard to value, but anything that gives an extra level of control at sticky moments gets highly rated by me.


Your mileage may well vary for this, and a case could be made for the badge in particular having no actual upgrade path - my hope is that by the time it actually matters for this, you're confident enough in what you need to be able to make your own mind up.


Armor And You

Druids can pile on some crazy armour, there's no doubt about that - the reason for this is our very generous Dire Bear Armour formula, which gives us 500% of the base armour on a piece of equipment. If you pull on your Leggings Of Insane Protection and they have 200 armour in caster form, they have 1,000 armour in dire-bear form. If you also have the Thick Hide talent (you should have this), that'll translate into 1,100 armour for that single piece of equipment. This armour bonus is the reason why armour bearing (hoho) rings and trinkets are so valuable to us - it's like a shield on your fingers! The Badge of Tenacity has 308 armour on it - in Dire Bear form with Thick Hide, that's a massive 1694 armour - that's a hell of a lot for a slot that doesn't normally produce any passive mitigation!


This bonus though doesn't extend to the following:


  • Armour from agility
  • Armour from potions
  • Armour from enchants
  • Armour from leatherworking patches

These kinds of armour are added on after your base armour has been calculated. Armour enchants are not good value for a feral druid tank.


At A Glance

The system of ratings, stats and benefits per level is very complex (too complex), and it's sometimes difficult to know how much of everything you need to get what you want. Most of the figures are quoted in the body of this guide, but the following table puts it All Out There for everyone to see.


To Get You Need
1% Critical Hit Chance 25.1 Agility
1% Critical Hit Chance 22.1 Critical Hit Rating
1% Dodge 14.7 Agility
1% Dodge 18.9 Dodge Rating
1% Crit Reduction 39.4 Resillience

1% Crit Reduction
1% Dodge
1% Chance to be Missed


57.6 Defence Rating
15.45 Health in Bear 1 Stamina

Basic Pulling Strategies

Bring a group of mobs into combat is known as ‘pulling'. Druid tanks need to spend a talent point in feral faerie fire (Henceforth known as FFF) – it is your basic pulling mechanism. FFF causes a little bit of threat, but it is effectively a ranged attack that causes no physical damage. In bear form, it has no rage cost and applies a tiny bit of aggro – if no-one has yet generated any threat, you can use it to ‘snap' aggro to you if a mob hasn't been ‘tagged' by you. Sometimes a mob (such as a patrol or such) will start to run towards someone in range (known as a body pull) – if you hit them with FFF, they will change their target abruptly to you. Keep an eye out for when faerie fire can be more than just a pulling tool.


Feral charge is, in general, a bad way to engage mobs. You want them to come to you, not you to come to them. The closer you are to the spawn point of a group of mobs, the easier you'll pull further groups with patrols and runners (mobs that flee on low health). Plus for a druid, unlike a warrior, a charge costs rage. For a warrior, it generates rage.


As a Bear Tank, your problem is casters. You have no way to silence or counter-spell them, so they usually stay back at range. If you have a mage or shadow priest you can make use of them to helpfully bring Casters into melee range. If not, you'll need to rely on the physical layout of the instance itself. In such cases, it's common to Corner Pull or Pull Way Back. Some casters can safely be ignored once they're focussing on you as a tank (moonfire and starfire can be useful here), staying at distance until they run out of mana – familiarity with different instances will tell you which casters are which.


Basic Pulling Preparation


You've got to have rage to tank, and so the first step of preparing for a pull is to give you the rage to unload a mangle or a lacerate. If you have no rage and your cooldown is up, use enrage . If you have the talent Furor, then you can shift out of bear and back into caster to give you the rage you need. If you have neither, your party needs to be aware that you need a few seconds to build rage before you can hit anything.


A good tip for keeping rage is for you to FFF any critters you see in the instance – your rage wears away if you are not in combat, and FFF on a critter will keep you in combat in-between pulls.


Corner Pull


When you have a corner, hit one of the mobs with FFF and then immediately run behind the wall. If the caster mob cannot gain Line of Sight on you, they will be forced to run to a point where they can. Corner Pulling is also an excellent way to deal with groups that have runners in them.


If a caster begins a spell before you make it behind the corner, it's likely that spell will go through the wall and hit you anyway. You need to hold your nerve – you're a big bear with a hide like a concrete elephant, so don't panic. Any subsequent attempts by caster mobs to hit you with magic will fail, and they will have to come to you. Don't run back thinking that they can hit you anyway – it's just a quirk of Blizzard's line of sight system.


Pull Way Back


If you're in an instance that has no easy corners or even pillars to hide back, then you need to Pull Way Back, which means FFF them, turn around, and run as fast as you can in the opposite direction. It's vital that none of your group engages the mobs as you do this as you won't have built up any threat. Even your healer should be careful about drawing aggro – as far as possible, you should be running out of casting range to ensure you take minimal damage.


When you've reached a safe distance (that will vary from instance to instance), stop and engage the mobs normally.


Focus, Focus

Make sure you mark up all mobs in a pull with raid symbols so everyone knows what the strategy is. You're the boss in the group, you tell your other members what they are supposed to be focussing on. Don't let your DPS run rampant, or it's a wipe for everyone - two DPSers focussing on a single mob is exponentially easier to deal with than two DPSers focussing on a mob each. My usual marks are as follows:


Symbol


Meaning


Skull


Kill This First


Blue Square


Primary CC


Star


Secondary CC


Cross


Second Target


Diamond


Third Target


Unmarked


By the time we get to these, it doesn't matter.


Everyone should be focussing on the same mobs – aggro control is a group problem, not the tank's problem. If you're primary tanking the skull and the mage is blasting the cross, then the mage is going to pull aggro no matter how good you are. You're effectively the one setting the pace and rules as a tank, so make sure that people follow the symbols. If they don't, it's okay to let them die. Seriously - it's the only way some people will learn.


Building Rage

Rage is the currency you spend on your bear special attacks. It's gained by four things:


  • Shifting into bear form if you have the furor talent.
  • The enrage ability
  • Taking damage
  • Dealing white (autoattack) damage

Most of your rage is going to come from taking damage and dealing damage. The formulas for how much rage you gain is as follows:


  • For every 99 points of damage you take, you gain one point of rage.
  • For every 37 points of damage you deal, you gain one point of rage.

These values are derived from the formulaes in this thread here, which goes over some extra tanking information (primarily for warriors, but druid tanks should give it a read too). Assuming you are making white hits of 250 points of damage, you're generating 7 points of rage each white attack.


When out of combat, your rage decays at a rate of three points every three seconds. It doesn't take long for that to entirely wear away between pulls. One handy hint for delaying this is to throw a faerie fire on a critter - that will keep you in combat and thus delay rage decay.


To build rage, you need to be taking damage - if you have an abundance of crowd control in your party, you may find it easier to tank if not everything is controlled. It means more work for your healer, but more rage for you if you're being beaten on by multiple mobs.


Threat Generation

As a basic rule, don't use maul . It's an awful way to generate threat because it's an on next attack spell. I'll explain why that's bad in a little bit.


You will retain aggro on a standard mob as long as you have the most threat on the mob's hate list – in order for someone to pull a mob off of you, they need to have 110% of your threat if they are in melee range, and 130% of your threat if they are not. If a mob is unable to reach the player highest on its hate list (for example, if it's rooted or frozen to the spot), it'll attack the highest-threat target it can reach.


Feral threat generation works according to the following basic rules. Every point of damage you deal is a point of threat. Bear form has an innate threat generation bonus of 30% (so you get 130% of the damage as threat). Catform has an innate threat generation of -29% (so you get 71% of the damage as threat). Druid tanks should take the Feral Instinct talent which gives a further 15% bonus to bear threat generated (bringing you up to 145% threat from damage). We'll assume you have the full three points in feral instinct, because if you're a feral tank there's no reason why you shouldn't.


Feral Attacks


Maul has an inbuilt threat bonus – it does (damage + bonus) * (druid threat multiplier) in threat. Rank 7 maul has 207 threat as a bonus. Rank 8 has an estimated 320 bonus. If you use have Feral Instinct and use maul rank 8 (let's say it does 500 points of damage), then it generates (500 + 320) * (1.45) threat. In other words, a 500 damage maul does 1189 threat. However, maul is a bad tanking ability because it works on your next attack turning an autoattack into a special attack. Every time you deal white (autoattack) damage on an attack, you gain rage. Using maul means it becomes a yellow (special) attack and so it costs you the rage from the maul and the rage it would have otherwise have generated from the autoattack. It's a bad attack for rage generation. It can be worth using in unlimited rage situations (when you're taking so much damage that you're generating more rage than you can possibly use), but other than that, give it a wide berth. Again, others will disagree and that's fine - you may find that throwing in an occasional maul is worth the cost - that's discussed later.


Mangle has a threat multiplier on it - 30% if I recall correctly. So if your mangle does 500 damage, you generate (500) * 1.45 * 1.30 threat, giving a total of 943 threat. It's an instant attack and only costs the rage listed on the tooltip, it won't affect your rage generation otherwise. Spam it every time it's up.


Lacerate does a tiny bit of threat from damage, but has a comparatively high static threat component. The threat from its damage is greatly reduced (it does 20% of the damage it does as threat), but its constant ticking threat. The highest rank of lacerate has a threat modifier of 285 every time you apply it. It can be used on bleed immune mobs, but you won't notice it being ‘applied' as a debuff. A single application of lacerate does 285 * 1.45 threat – 413.25, plus 20% of whatever damage it causes. It's a very rage efficient way to spam threat on a single target. It's an instant attack with no cooldown, and does not interfere with normal rage generation.


Swipe has no in-built threat modifier, it does damage * 1.45, but it works on three targets. Spamming this is also a rage efficient way to tag multiple mobs with substantial threat. It's an instant attack with no cooldown, and does not interfere with normal rage generation. With a high crit rate, this can be very rage efficient -every single swipe target is a separate chance to crit and thus gain five free energy!


Tanking Single Mobs


On single targets, the only two attacks you need are Mangle (use it every time it's up) and Lacerate. Spamming these will generate significant threat. Bears have pretty high threat generation – on a single target, you shouldn't lose aggro too easily unless you have High Aggro DPSers.


Tanking Multiple Mobs


Multiple Targets have two basic strategies, depending on how much attack power you have. If you have lots of attack power, then ‘swipe spamming' can be enough to keep the mobs off of the healer. You need to alternate high threat generation on your primary target with swiping on the mobs around. The best way to do this depends on how many mobs you're actually tanking.


2-3 Mobs


Simple sequence here – Mangle your main target every time the cooldown is up, and hit swipe the rest of the time. Don't worry about lacerates, the damage done from your swipes should be ample. If you find that's not enough, you can apply lacerates to each by tabbing and hitting lacerate, or using a mouseover macro (see later). If you are comparatively undergeared, then you may find swipe alone does not meet your needs. You should find a balance between swipes and lacerates.


4+ mobs


This is an area where druids have it tough – our only AoE tanking ability is directional (swipe works in a cone in front of you) and hits a maximum of three targets. We need something else for 4+ mobs.


Step one is a demoralising roar – it does tiny threat, but it will cause all the mobs in range to focus on you. Hit your primary target with a mangle, swipe, and apply mouseover lacerates (if you can) to every mob around you in sequence. If you don't have a spare mouse-button to bind to a mouseover lacerate, then you can rotate with the tab key – mangle, swipe, lacerate, then tab and repeat, focussing for a bit longer on your main target. This will ensure a coverage of all the mobs with swipes (keeping your healers from being attacked) and also ensure you don't lose aggro on your main target. You need to have disciplined and focussed DPS for multi-mobs pulls like this – everyone needs to know what's being attacked.


Swipe Versus Lacerate, The Great Debate

For multi-mob pulls, do you apply multiple lacerates or do you swipe away? Largely, this depends on how hard your swipes hit. To do the base threat of a lacerate, your swipe needs to do 171 points of damage - that's probably more than you can hope for in your tank gear. But on the other hand, if you have a decent critical hit chance, your swipes can easily do substantially more than this, and each crit is free rage. With decent feral gear (with potions and food buffs), you should be looking at around a minimum of a 25% crit rate in bear form - one in every four swipe attacks over a long enough fight should critically hit. The problem is you can't guarantee on which mobs they will critically hit, and when they will critically hit - this means uneven, spikey threat.


A heroic geared feral (using the standards outlined above) will hit for about 130 damage self-buffed with swipe - that's 188 threat. With instance / raid buffs, that should go somewhat higher. It may seem like lacerate is the best option, but in the time it takes to apply lacerates to three separate mobs (at a talented rage cost of 39), you can apply three swipes at a maximum rage cost of 45 (and usually substantially less than this because of rage refunds on crits). If just one swipe attack crits, the rage costs are almost identical.


You might say 'Ah, but Lacerate has a chance to crit too, and thus could be cheaper still!'. That's very true, but three swipes gives nine chances to crit, whereas lacerate gives three. Let's compare four lacerates and four swipes (for the ease of the arithmetic). With a 25% crit rate you can reasonable expect (over a long enough testing period) that one in four of your lacerates will crit refunding you five energy. That gives a talented rage cost of 47. With four swipes, that's twelve chances to critically hit - you can reasonably expect (again, over a long enough testing period) that three of these attacks will critically hit. This gives you a rage cost of 45. Swipe, regardless of arguments to the contrary, can be a very rage efficient way to generate large amounts of multi-mob threat - it's just not something you can rely on in a short period of time because of the random nature of critical hits.


Anyway, back to the threat generation - those three swipes generates a base 564 threat on three mobs, while the lacerates which took longer to do, did less damage and offered less chance for crit refunds, did


413

base threat on each mob. Plus, this doesn't take into account crits on swipe - on average, two of your swipes will crit generating even further damage (and thus threat) on the mobs. Provided no-one else is focussing on these mobs, swipe should be ample to give you the threat to keep ahead of your healers.


Lacerate generates additional threat from its DOT component, and over a long fight that can be significant - but most trash pulls in an instance are not long fights.


My advice is, swipe away for multi-mob pulls - but be careful. Swipe is a bugger for breaking crowd control. Lacerates are far better though for single-target threat generation and for building 'snap' aggro.


Maul For Threat Generation, The Second Debate

My advice, as stated above, is 'don't use maul except in unlimited rage situations'. That's a good rule of thumb and one that has not steered me wrong. Others however gain good results from using maul, but I find it a bad practise to get into.


We've already discussed how rage is generated - it comes from your white hits. Maul has a 'hidden cost' built into it because it turns a white attack into a yellow attack - the maul costs the ten talented rage points quoted on the tooltip, plus the rage that the white-hit would have otherwise generated. If you're hitting for 259 or more white damage, the maul costs at least 17 rage.


A good chunk of the damage from that maul was already going to be done as white damage - the highest rank maul increases the damage that attack would have done by 176. I nipped into an instance to check the 'real figures' for this, and this was what I came up with at 1450 attack power:


Average White Hit Damage Average Maul Damage
288 441

So, for 17 rage you're getting 153 extra points of damage. In terms of threat, you're getting 542 extra points for 17 rage. 542 is a significant chunk of threat, but I'm not sure it's worth the cost. Maul eats up your rage very quickly, and you may find it tapering out even if you have what looks to be a good surplus.


My recommendation remains, 'only in unlimited rage situations'. Your mileage, of course, may vary.


The Threat Generation of Other Animals

Threat works similarly for DPS classes, although they all have their own aggro wipes and modifiers - the simple rule is, the more damage they're doing, the more aggro they are generating. A mob will cease focussing on its current target under four normal conditions:


  • The mob is taunted (more on this in a moment)
  • A player in melee range exceeds the threat of the current target by 10%
  • A player outside of melee range exceeds the threat o fthe current target by 30%
  • A debuff is applied that causes the main target to be an invalid target (cyclone, blessing of protection, etc)

Each mob maintains a hate list of players that have angered it - causing damage, gaining mana, rage or energy, casting a debuff and healing all cause aggro. In fact, practically everything you can possibly do causes some degree of aggro. Damage done is individual to a particular mob - hurting one mob won't generate hate on another. Healing aggro is spread over all mobs in combat at a base rate of one point of threat for every two points of healing (one point of threat for every four points of healing for paladins).


This is why you need to ensure you are generating aggro on all mobs - you need to keep ahead of your healer(s). It is also why it is important that your DPSers focus on a single target - if they're both focussing on one target you can front-load your highest aggro generating tools on that one and keep ahead of their threat.


Positioning

The hidden skill of druid tanks is positioning - it's the one that makes the difference between successful tanking and unsuccessful tanking - and yet hardly anybody even notices it being done. Being able to herd mobs to where you want them to be, and simultaneously avoid causing any unfortunate body-pulls in the process, is a key skill.


Step one is that you want all the mobs you are tanking in front of you, ideally in a cone so that you can hit them with swipe. This is sometimes hard to do while maintaining aggro, so practise makes perfect here. Choose your main target and move backwards past the secondary targets. They will follow you provided you are holding aggro, and they tend to follow in a 'flock' pattern - as you move back, they will move themselves into striking position facing you. Sometimes they jostle around, and you're going to have to ensure that when they do you are responsive enough to keep them in your frontal cone.


Never let mobs attack you from behind - they should always be in front of you so you don't lose valuable seconds turning around should you lose aggro.


Also, a useful tip (thanks to Mozi of Sporeggar for this) is to tank mobs facing away from your party, especially your melee DPS. That way, you know when you've lost aggro on one because they'll turn away from you towards the new target. On some mobs, that may not be especially noticeable, but on most it gives you a very clear instant signal that you've lost aggro and need to taunt.


The easiest way to learn proper positioning is out in the wild - you don't need an instance for it. Head out into a random zone, find a group of mobs together, and pull them all. Practise going bear form and swiping them down - you'll soon learn where your cone extends and what you need to do in order to bring all the mobs into range,


The One That Got Away

As a tank, it's your primary job to keep everything focussed on you. You won't always be able to do this, and that's fine – the important thing is that you can manage the situation when it happens. Your base tool for this is growl, which is a taunt. Save your growls for snapping attention back to you when a mob goes away – growl is great, it permanently sets your threat to the threat of the primary target and focusses it on you for a few seconds so you can rebuild aggro. Growl, mangle, lacerate, and you should gain its attention pretty nicely. Growl does not generate any innate threat of its own on a target already focussing you - you only use it for snap aggro - snapping the attention of a mob back to you.


If a mob goes for a healer, drop everything to intercept it (although see later) – the healer is your primary care since the healer is the one keeping you alive.


Intercepting is best done by feral charge – save it for covering distance to a group member that's being attacked. People tend to panic when a mob comes for them and runs away, which makes your job much harder. As a general rule, advise people to ‘run to the tank' when they gain aggro. It makes your job easier to pick the mobs up again.


If they don't though, feral charge will be your only way of catching the mob. Charge it and it'll freeze in place for a second, giving you time to growl and gain some snap aggro with mangle and lacerate. Feral charge is one of your most important tanking abilities, and it's a good idea to use it as much as possible. It'll interrupt (but not silence) casters if you catch them in the middle of a spell, and if you are knocked back by any mobs (like for example, the Inciter in Shadowlabs) you can feral charge to get yourself back into the fight as soon as possible. You can even use it while airborne after being knocked back – every druid tank should try to charge from mid-air as much as possible, because it's crazy cool.


In a situation where everything is going wrong, you have Challenging Roar which will focus every mob on you for six seconds. After that time has elapsed, the mobs will go back to their original targets but it should be enough to rescue part of the situation – pull at least a couple of rogue mobs back to you.


When situations go wrong, it's important that your DPS knows what to do – Stop Nuking. Most classes have ‘oh shit' buttons to help them survive such situations, and they should use them. Once again, aggro control is a group problem .


It's Okay to Let Them Die

The rule that's hardest to take on board as a tank is – sometimes you can't save everyone. Part of your job in situations like that is prioritising who is to live and who is to die, and who is to get your attention first and who can wait a little. The simple hierarchy is this:


  1. THE BARE MUST LIVE
  2. The healer must live
  3. The DPS must live

It gets a little more complicated after point one – unless a pull is already mostly finished, the tank dying means everyone dies.


As for healers, Restoration druids are going to be your first priority – they have no way to shed aggro, and are very squishy. They can go into bear form in a pinch, but while in bear form they're not healing you.


Priests are next – they have much greater survivability then restoration druids. They can reduce aggro with fade, shield themselves, fear (but hope they don't have to). Don't rely on this though – if you see a mob heading for your priest, tackle it as your first priority. If you're lucky, a fade will send it right back to you. If not, you're going to have to deal with it right away.


I don't know much about shaman healers, I have to say, so I won't comment on those.


Paladins are Hard as Nails when it comes to healing, and hardly ever draw aggro since they generate half the healing threat of any other class. They have plate armour and high pushback resistance which means they can heal themselves pretty easily when attacked by one, or even two, mobs. If those mobs have interrupts (kick or silences), then there's going to be trouble. Paladins also have an instant aggro dump (divine shield), although it's on a five minute cooldown. Pull the mobs off the paladin, but don't worry about dropping everything and risking More Trouble.


For DPS, it comes down to additional group utility. Sad as it is, you can usually let the feral die without much worry. Ferals bring pretty heavy DPS (contrary to popular opinion), but they don't come with much in the way of crowd control, caster interrupts, or group buffs (they come with Leader of the Pack, but so do you as a feral tank). If they have a combat resurrection or innervate handy, then they can save the day, but usually you have to accept that they are very low on your list of priorities when Shit Goes Wrong.


Hunters have a hundred and one ways to avoid dying – a pet that can tank for them in a pinch, feign death, concussion shot, traps – they should be your last priority for concern since they can look after themselves quite well.


Warlocks, depending on their spec, are pretty squishy and have no easy way to get out of troublesome situations (they have aggro reduction, but no aggro dump). On the other hand, depending on what mobs you're facing, they may also have limited group utility to contribute – it's going to depend on that.


Mages have frost nova and blink for survival, and can sheep in combat – that's immensely useful and it's well worth putting effort into keeping them alive with things go bad, but frost mages in particular have a pretty easy time (comparatively) of dealing with aggro.


Rogues can largely look after themselves – vanish keeps them alive every five minutes, and they have a plethora of attacks and skills that can keep them from pain for a limited period of time.


Warriors and Balance Druids as DPS are always problematic – pretty insane damage combined with very limited threat reduction means they pull aggro much more easily than most other classes, and have no way to shed it. Neither come with any critical group utility either, and so should in most cases be prioritised last.


Of course, this is only in ‘Someone is going to die' situations – ideally, you don't want to be in many of those.


Mitigation and Avoidance

You're a tank because you can soak up a lot of damage – you're basically a big wall of meat between the bad guys and your party members. Your ability to deal with damage comes in two forms. Mitigation reduces the damage you take, and avoidance completely negates an incoming attack. As a druid, your two mechanisms for this are Armour and Dodge.


Druids can easily gain huge amounts of armour, making us excellent for soaking up physical attacks. The downside is that magical attacks completely ignore armour and we have no way of mitigating that. Against heavy caster mobs and bosses, we are virtually defenceless. Nonetheless, stacking armour is your primary form of mitigation and you should strive to get as much as possible until you hit the armour cap (which is at about 35,000 armour versus bosses. In raids and parties you'll sometimes find yourself buffed with armour increases, so you probably want to aim for a realistic maximum of about 30k armour if you're raiding).


There is a common belief that armour suffers from diminishing returns – as in, the more armour you have the less valuable each point becomes at higher levels. This is not true – 1 point of extra armour when you have 30,000 armour has exactly the same impact on your survivability as 1 point of extra armour when you have 0 armour – check out some Actual Math for proof.


Druids gain very favourable conversion rates for agility to dodge – 14.7 points of agility gives us 1% of dodge.


Avoidance seems to be the best since it stops you taking any damage from that attack at all – but you need to take damage to build up rage. Too much avoidance and you'll start having rage generation problems. This is why dodge rating should be ignored as far as possible as a stat, and you should focus instead on agility. The other reason is that druids get a bad deal out of dodge – it takes 19 points of dodge rating to give us 1% dodge, but only 14.7 points agility.


Agility gives dodge, but it also increases your critical hit chance at the same time. Druid tanks should, without question, take two points in the Primal Fury talent – this gives extra rage on a critical strike. By stacking agility you gain critical hit (at a rate of 25 agility points to 1% critical hit) and dodge, and the extra critical hit offsets the loss of rage generation. This is crucial – dodge, by itself, is a bad stat to stack.


The second downside to avoidance is that it leads to spikey damage - you may take nothing at all for five attacks, and then take ten in a row - that can make things harder for your healers to judge. Also, your avoidance rate is over the long term - 30% dodge doesn't mean you can safely count yourself as having that additional protection against attacks - you should make sure you have sufficient armour and stamina before stacking avoidance.

As a druid tank, you want to avoid critical hits – in heroics and raids where mobs are hitting for normal damage in the 3-4k range (and sometimes higher), a critical hit can be absolutely devastating. If you get critically hit for 8k twice in a row, there's not a healer in the world that can save you. Your first priority then should be making sure you stack enough defence rating or resilience to make yourself critical hit immune.


The base chance for a boss to critically hit you is 5.6%. You need to reduce your chance to be critically hit by this to ensure safety – the stats for doing this are defence and resilience.


Druids have a talent called Survival of the Fittest – three points in that will shave 3% off of your chance to be critically hit right away. We'll assume you have that – it's virtually mandatory for a feral tank. That means that you only need to get 2.6% critical hit protection from your gear – that's useful, because comparatively little druid gear is defence heavy.


That's actually good – we gain less from defence than paladins or warriors. Defence increases your chance to dodge, block and parry. Druids cannot block or parry, so we don't get that benefit. However, it also reduces your base chance to be hit, and critically hit – in terms of overall mitigation, defence is better than resilience. In terms of purely avoiding critical hits, resilience is better than defence. A combination of the two can work nicely.


Every 25 points of defence skill gives you a 1% reduced chance to be critically hit, a 1% reduced chance to be hit at all, and an additional 1% chance you dodge an attack. Every 39.4 points of resilience reduces the chance you'll be critically hit by 1%, and the damage critical hits actually do by 2%.


You need the combination of these two to hit 2.6% to make you critical hit immune. If you're stacking one over the other, 415 defense will take you to that point, as will 103 points of resilience. The Gladiator PvP kit has nice amounts of armour, stamina, agility and resilience making it good high-end tank gear – most of the druid tanking equipment that drops from raids has little defence on it.


There is a school of thought that says it's impossible to be immune to critical hits – that there is always a miniscule chance regardless of how much defence you have. I have never experienced a critical hit when I have had sufficient critical hit reduction, so until I see some actual evidence of this theory, I continue to discount it as Myth and Legend. Some bosses have higher chances to critically hit you than the base 5.6%, so 415 won't make you immune in all situations – it'll make you immune in enough of them to be all that's realistically worth aiming for though.


Your health is the buffer that gets eaten up when attacks get through – your health exists as a pool of time for your healer – the more health you have, the more time they have to react and the more effective their heals are. Night Elf druids in bear form, with all the appropriate tanking stats (Survival of the Fittest and Heart of the Wild) gain 15.45 points of health for every point of stamina they have.


Oh Shit Buttons

Oh shit buttons are the ones you press when things go wrong. As a druid, you have Frenzied Regeneration and… well, that's it. You also have bash, which can give a few seconds of respite in an emergency (or interrupt a caster or healer). But that's about it. That's really what sets us apart from warriors – warriors can manage bad situations far better than we can. There are a few nice trinkets you can get though that will provide you with at least some measure of control. The one that's technically easiest to get (you can buy it on the auction house if you want to spend an arm and two legs) is the Badge of Tenacity. It has high armour making it a great druid trinket right away, but it also has a ‘use' that increases your agility by 150 for 20 seconds, with a two minute cooldown. Effectively, you get 20 seconds of an extra 10% dodge and 6% extra critical hit – extra avoidance and extra aggro generation is a Very Good Thing.


Moroes' Lucky Pocket Watch is another useful trinket. It drops from one of the early bosses in Karazhan, and it gives you another nice ‘oh shit' button when things go pear-shaped.


Basically though, you're on your own unless you get all trinketted up.


Hybrid Pulling Strategies

You're a druid – hybrid tanking gives you some additional pulling strategies that are not available to other classes. These advanced strategies are why intellect is indeed a feral tanking skill. They're done in caster form, so you don't get any threat multiplies applied to the damage, but that's not a big deal – they're pulling strategies, not tanking strategies. Be warned though – when using these strategies, keep an eye on your mana . More than once I've done one of these pulls to leave myself without enough mana to shift into bear form. Keep a few mana potions handy, just in case!


Hurricane Pull


See that group of six or seven mobs? That's going to be a nightmare to get initial aggro on – before your healer can safely cast a single heal on you, they all need to be hit by you or they'll run right for your lifeline. So why not make use of your only AoE spell to get a bit of a head start? Cast barkskin and then hurricane as many of them as you can – you should be able to get two ticks on the majority of them, and each tick does (with no +spell damage gear) 206 points of damage… the ones nearest you will probably only get a single tick of it, but the ones at the back should get 412 threat applied right away. That should give you the head-start you need to apply threat the normal way.


Starfire/Wrath Pull


Single mobs can benefit from a starfire pull – a nice upfront loading of threat will ensure that it sticks to you like glue when you start piling on the real threat. It's effectively applying two lacerates from a distance. As a useful tip, while your starfire is casting you can switch targets and get ready to throw on a moonfire - your starfire will hit the originally targetted mob and then you can instantly moonfire the next.

Pulling with Wrath is an identical strategy, except that it takes less time to cast (so you don't need to worry about wandering mobs so much) and it takes a second or so for the wrath to hit the target - that extra second can be very useful in situations where you don't want to risk your reactions being the sticking point, such as in heroics when even one hit while in caster is going to cost you dearly (thanks to Felyae for that suggestion).


Moonfire Pull


The druid pull of champions! Multi-mob groups can be easily managed by this, but it takes a good deal of co-ordination. If there are mobs to be crowd-controlled, do not moonfire them. If they are to be CC'd before the pull (sap, for example), then leave them be entirely. If they are CC'd after the pull (sheep), then target them first and start casting a starfire. As the starfire casts, switch to another target and prepare to cast moonfire as soon as the starfire hits. Then back away as the global cooldown wears off, and moonfire the next mob, and the next, until they all have a moonfire ticking away. Then shift into bear form. Each mob you hit with a moonfire will take about 900 threat from your pull, meaning that it's easy to keep ahead of your DPS and healer threat.


Healing Pull


Just after you perform your pull, throw a rejuvenation and lifebloom on yourself – you'll heal quite a bit of the initial damage meaning your healer can hold off on aggro generation for a little longer, and each of the ticks of healing will generate AoE threat in themselves. This can be nicely combined with a moonfire pull if you have the mana to make it work. Skylaar (Kilrogg) also notes that when the lifebloom 'blooms', you'll get a sudden instant AoE burst equal to half of the damage healed by the bloom. If you are using PvP equipment at all for tanking, the +healing on that can turn this into very effective aggro generation.


You have to do this after you've performed your pull - otherwise, the heal generates no additional threat (thanks to Kinthank (Dunemaul) for clarification of this point.


Cyclone Pull (Thanks to Omniel (Sporeggar) and Aralia (Shadowsong) for this pull)


Cyclone is weak crowd control, but it can be useful for pulling if you want to keep one of your foes out of the fight for a few seconds so you can generate aggro on the rest - for six or so seconds, you can effectively remove one mob from the equation. Pick a melee target (so they run to you when cyclone is up) and then hit them with cyclone. Moonfire your primary target, and then pull back as you shift into bear form. Those six seconds can turn a tricky four-mob pull into an easily manageable three-mob pull. When the cycloned mob arrives, you should already have a fair head-start of threat on the ones that are already there, and can manage the pull more easily.

Alternatively, you can use the cyclone to single out a mob for later attention - by separating it from the pack, you're making it easier for your crowd controllers to handle it without it getting close enough to you for swipe to be a problem.


Macros

I don't have all that many tanking macros – a few that make my Awesome Gaming Mouse (oh yes, that's another tip – get an awesome gaming mouse) do a bit of the work for me. One macro that I do find insanely helpful though is the following:

/cast [target=mouseover] Lacerate

It's tremendously simple - the only drawback is that you have to bind it to a mouse-button to be any use. All it does is perform a lacerate on any target that you move your mouse-cursor over. You don't even have to switch targets – just press the button and you apply lacerate. It makes multi-mob tanking so much easier. Like, insanely easier. Seriously, it's the dog's bollo… look, it's just great. Use it.


Buffs, Potions and You

Druid tanks are often a confusing oddity for people who don't play with them very often, and this can lead to some odd buffs being put on you by other members of the party. Paladins in particular often find it difficult to determine which of their many blessings is most appropriate for a druid tank – this isn't surprising, as most druids aren't entirely sure what blessings are most appropriate for them either!


The Standard Set of buffs (Mark of the Wild, Arcane Intellect, Power-Word Fortitude) are all very valuable for druids – Arcane Intellect is the least valuable of these unless you do a lot of Hybrid Tanking (as outlined above). You should always ensure that you're buffed with the three standard druid tanking buffs – Mark of the Wild, Omen of Clarity, and Thorns. Don't discount thorns – it's great for multi-mob aggro. On this note, only those members of your party who are actively looking to increase their aggro should be buffed with thorns. Thorns is reflected damage, and although in very early versions of World of Warcraft it was classed as ‘Threat-Free Reflected Damage', that is no longer the case. Every point of damage reflected with thorns is extra aggro for you.


Paladin Buffs


For paladin blessings, Kings is king – 10% to all of your stats gives you extra threat generation, extra dodge, extra stamina, extra critical hit – it's goodness all around. Consider a simplified druid tank with the following stats, and how that tank is buffed by Kings:


Stat


Base Value


Buffed Value


Impact


Strength


200


220


+40 AP


Stamina


700


770


+1081 health


Agility


400


440


+2.7% dodge


+1.6% critical hit


+80 armour


Intellect


100


110


+150 mana


Spirit


100


110


N/A


That's a lot of bonuses for a single blessing! The next most useful blessing for improving a druid's effectiveness is Might, but that's purely a buff for threat generation.


Paladins more worried about actually keeping their tank alive (especially a tank that is comparatively under-geared) should consider Blessing of Light in High Threat situations.


For auras, it depends on your tank's relative gear level and the rest of your party makeup. Tanks that are Hurting might like devotion aura for its additional armour – if your tank is suitably geared up though, consider Retribution aura for hugely increased multi-mob aggro.


Potions and Food


There is a bewildering array of foods and potions out there – druid tanks looking to buff themselves with consumables should consider the following as the ones to go for:


Consumable


Description


Calculated Impact


Elixir of Mastery (battle)
15 to all stats

+51 Attack Power
+1.02% dodge
+0.68% critical hit
+30 armour
+231 health


Elixir of Major Agility (battle)


+35 Agility, +20 critical strike


+2.3% dodge
+2.3% critical hit
+70 armour
+35 Attack Power


Earthen Elixir (guardian)


-20 damage taken from all attacks


Can remove substantial chunks of damage from trash pulls


Elixir of Major Defence (guardian)


+550 armour


N/A


Elixir of Major Fortitude (guardian)


+250 health and +10 hp5


N/A


Spicy Crawdad (food)


+30 stamina


+463 health


Buzzard Bites / Clam Bar / Feltail Delight (food)


+20 stamina


+309 health


Warp Burger


+20 agility


+1.3% dodge
+0.75% critical hit
+40 armour


For tanking, I use the Earthen Elixir – other druids use other potions dependant on what their specific needs are. For the foods, go for which one you think you're most lacking in – if you're short on health, go for the stamina foods. Otherwise, the warp burgers are all sorts of great.


Don't worry about health or short-duration potions – despite promises that they were ‘looking into potions for druids in forms', we are still the only class restricted from using healing potions, health-stones and other consumables while we are in one of our primary forms. But hey, I'm not bitter.


Helping Feral Tanks – You and Your Furry

There are a few handy hints that other classes can take on board to make life easier for everyone:


Class


How You Can Help


Druid


Be ready to briefly take over tanking if you're feral. Sometimes it's necessary for a druid tank to lose aggro for a few seconds (perhaps to throw out an innervate or a combat resurrection) – you don't need to be in your tank gear, but a few seconds respite when called for can be the difference between success and a wipe.


Also, if you're a cat druid, don't worry about mangle – the bear will be keeping that up, meaning all you have to do is shred. It's easier for the bear to do that when the debuff on the mobs is properly showing the time out.


Oh, and when you're doing Heavy Nuking, cower whenever you can.


Hunter


Misdirection is awesome.


When trapping things, it helps immensely if they can be trapped a good way away from the druid. God help us, but we do love to swipe.


Mage


AoE is probably the biggest problem for druid tanks to deal with, so unless it's something specifically asked for in a particular pull, best to avoid it. The exception to this is frost nova if you're being attacked – frost nova is awesome for letting a feral pick up any stray aggro.

It's also a handy tool for crowd control in instances when things get a little crazy - a mage running in and hitting nova can give you the time you need to back away, shift out and innervate or combat res. That's an awesome benefit. In multi-mob pulls, frost-nova can make it all more manageable - your primary DPS target will break free very quickly, and you can pull it back so that you're all concentrating on that one while the others remain frozen and useless. Thanks to Felyae (Kil'Jaeden) for that excellent advice.


As with hunters, sheeping a bit away from the druid is always greatly appreciated. Swipe has a very large range and it's easy for it to hit a stray target.


Warlock


Druids love your little imps.


Unless you really know what you're doing (and there are some warlocks who do), fear is almost always a bad idea. It makes it harder for the druid to catch a mob, and always runs the risk of drawing mobs further down the instance.


Warrior


If you're not Pared To The Bone in DPS gear, picking up stray mobs and herding them back to the druid can make a bad situation so much more manageable.


Pay attention to your shouts - if you're in a bad situation, switching to the health buff shout can make all the difference.


Paladin


Bear (hoho) in mind that druids have virtually no magical mitigation – if you're facing mobs that have fire, frost or shadow damage, switching your aura to the appropriate resistance can be a massive help.


Shaman


Your agility totem is just lovely, and you are lovely for bringing it.


Orphes of Balnazzar has the following additions:


The strength totem of a shaman is also an extremely valuable buff for druid tanks - our threat scales very well with our white damage, and our attack power is easiest built with strength. The 88 extra strength that the totem brings is 196 attack power which translates into a very noticeable buff to threat generation.


There is also a great synergy between Leader of the Pack and the 'unleashed rage' talent of enhancement shaman - if you are lucky enough to have one in the group, every time they get a critical hit they will give you a 10% boost to attack power which again is a very noticeable buff to threat.


Bloodlust/Heroism can be just what's needed at the start of a boss fight to help the tank generate additional aggro and rage, as well as just what's needed when things go wrong - it can help the tank get a situation under control.


Priest


Remember that after a fade, you're going to produce a helluva lot of aggro (you get the full aggro from the action, as well as all the aggro you faded away). Make sure the tank has a clear hold on whatever mob was heading your way.


Also, shielding your druid tank isn't always appreciated, especially early in a fight- we need to take damage to build rage, and if you shield us before a pull, then we're very likely to generate sub-par aggro until the shield is gone - that means everyone has to worry! If it's the difference between a tank living and dying, throw on a shield - otherwise, they are usually best reserved for others in the group.


Rogue


Feint during Heavy Nuking is always appreciated.


Be careful with your stuns - druids (and warriors) need to take damage to sustain aggro, and the loss of one mob beating on the tank can be the difference between sufficient and insufficient aggro generation. On the other hand, if the tank is full of rage, go nuts.




Other Stuff

Not sure what I've missed out here, so if you have any questions let me know and I'll add them in. Other druid tanks should also feel free to post their advice and such, and I'll compile it all into the main document.