Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Bear Form Threat Guide

For some time now, Feral Druid tanks have been a viable option for even the most challenging of World of Warcraft's encounters. When designing a new Bear tank, most players put a great deal of thought into survivability, tweaking gear, gems, glyphs, and enchants to generate huge health pools and a hearty dodge percentage. That is all well and good, but absorbing damage is only half of a good Druid tank's job. Aggro management, or holding your targets' attention, is the other piece of the tanking puzzle and is just as important.

For a fresh level eighty Feral Druid, maintaining threat can be a huge problem. In heroics and introductory raids, you will frequently find yourself fighting alongside veteran damage dealers. Aside from generating well over 3k dps with little effort, these players are likely accustomed to an AoE burn play-style that pays little attention to threat management. As a result, any Feral Tank who neglects threat maximization will quickly find them self surrounded by the corpses of soon to be former group members. To help you avoid this terrible fate, I have laid out some Bear Form threat tips below that should help your targets stick to you like glue.

1. Bear Form Rotation

Using the right abilities in the right order is key to maintaining threat.

For Single Targets:

Generally speaking, you should always open a pull with Feral Faerie Fire because it is ranged, super high threat, and free. If you cast this while closing on your target or Charging, your global cool down should be up by the time you reach it meaning you can immediately follow up with Mangle. Then, it is time to start stacking Lacerates up to five. To maximize your initial threat, interrupt your Lacerate stacking whenever Mangle or Feral Faerie Fire is available. Once you hit five stacks of Lacerate, use Swipe in its place making sure to Lacerate only enough to keep the debuff rolling at five stacks.

It is also important that you Maul on every single melee attack. Maul generates huge amounts of threat and a missed Maul can spell disaster for your party. Obviously you must make concessions if your rage is limited, but you will want to cut your post five stack Swipes rather than your Mauls. They are just that important.

In summary, for single target Bear threat:
Keep Maul up throughout, open with Feral Faerie Fire, Mangle, stack Lacerate to five interrupting to Mangle or Feral Faerie Fire whenever possible, and then Swipe whenever Faerie Fire and Mangle is on cool down except where Lacerate is needed to prevent the debuff falling off

For Multiple Targets:

For large pulls, simply spam Swipe and Maul while cycling targets. Use the Infected Wounds debuff to track which targets have yet to feel the wrath of your Maul and keep them targeted until they get the debuff. As long as you are spreading around your Mauls and pounding mercilessly on your Swipe key, you should be able to hold on. If trouble strikes, use Challenging Roar to lock down the group while you catch back up to the dps.

For smaller multiple target pulls, Berserk and Mangle/Maul spam can quickly lock down your targets. If Berserk is unavailable, Maul and Swipe while target cycling just like with the larger pulls. If a particular target is threatening to pull away, hit it with Mangle. This will not only generate a quick burst of threat, but will enhance Maul damage on the target for the duration of the debuff increasing your chances of holding it for the long run. Just be sure not to neglect too many Swipes as you may lose track of your other targets.

2. Glyph for Threat

Unless there is a very specific reason to the contrary, every Bear Druid should have Glyph of Maul equipped. Hitting two targets at once with this threat hammer is key to holding the attention of more than one mob at a time. Bear Tanks with serious threat problems may also want to swap out Glyph of Frenzied Regeneration or Glyph of Survival Instincts for Glyph of Growl to increase the chances of recovering from dropped threat.

3. Gear for Threat

Particularly in a raid setting, when a Bear Tank has threat problems it is often due to not enough of a Druid's attacks connecting. This problem is easily remedied through increasing Expertise. Though you should not gem for Expertise, working it into your gear will appreciably help your threat by reducing the percentage of your attacks which are dodged or parried. Push your Expertise Rating to 213 then feel free to start mixing in Hit Rating to further increase your threat generation. A Druid tank will stop seeing any benefit for Expertise at a 492 rating and for Hit at 262.

There are also threat boosting glove enchants available in the form of Enchant Gloves - Threat and Enchant Gloves - Armsman, but you should try to stay away from these as you would be better served by Stamina boosting Heavy Borean Armor Kits. If you are going to get one of these enchants anyway, may as well go with Threat as it will likely be cheaper and Bears do not benefit from Armsman's parry boost.

4. Prepare for Pulls

Going into a pull with a healthy amount of Rage and targets marked will make maintaining threat infinity easier. As for Rage, shift in and out until your Furor procs and then pop Enrage. If your threat is exceptionally weak, let Enrage run its full course before charging in. If you have a little wiggle room, simply take the initial Rage dump for the ability, cancel the debuff (so as to avoid the damage reduction) and head in swinging.

For the exceptionally lazy Bear you can auto mark the primary attack target with Faerie Fire by using the following macro:

#showtooltip Faerie Fire
/cast Faerie Fire (Feral)
/script SetRaidTarget("target",8)

5. Macro for Threat

As mentioned in the rotation section, to maximize your threat, you will want to
Maul on every single white attack. Firing up all those Mauls manually can be exhausting, distracting, and can easily lead to mistakes. As a result, automating your Mauls can not only make your life much easier, but can also help increase your threat output.

Thankfully, automating your Mauls is as simple as creating Macros for all your key abilities (Faerie Fire,
Lacerate, Swipe, and Mangle) which causes them to also trigger Maul. Use the template below to generate your Macros replacing ABILITY with Swipe, Lacerate, etc.

/cast !Maul

6. When All Else Fails

Sometimes your dps will out gear you to such an extent that even despite following all the tips above, aggro will still be an issue. At that point, it is time to turn to your group mates for help. A Hunter's Misdirection or a Rogue's Tricks of the Trade can really help you lock down a target, especially if used as many times as their cooldowns allow. Additionally, many dps classes have threat reducing or dropping abilities and you would be wise to caution them to watch their threat and use those abilities as needed.

Also, do not forget your Growl and be quick to use it whenever a target turns away. Increased hit rating will help your Growls land more consistently. Also, immediately follow up your Growls with a high threat ability like Mangle or Faerie Fire to lock your target back in place. If Growl fails Challenging Roar is your go to backup. If both fail or are unavailable, Berserk driven Mangle spam will give you the best chance of reclaiming aggro. Good luck and happy tanking!


  1. Great post, i was previously a lazy tank spaming swipe in aoe and mangle maul lacerate for single target, this increased my threat significantly. Thanks :D

  2. Really glad that it was helpful for you! Please let me know if there is anything else you would like to see on the website and I will be happy to oblige :)