Friday, October 15, 2010

Feral Tanking Guide for 4.0.1

After a brief sabbatical, I have returned to Druid Digest just in time to help you sort through the confusion that is Patch 4.0.1 for World of Warcraft.  As anyone who has logged onto the realms recently can tell you, World of Warcraft's mechanics have drastically changed.  This is particularly true for everyone's favorite fur balls: Bear Tanks.

Don't panic though.  Many have speculated that these changes may lead to the extinction of Feral Tanks, but I am here to help put those rumors to rest.  Feral Tanks are every bit as viable as they were before the pre-Cataclysm patch.  Are things more difficult?  Absolutely, but using the tips I have outlined below, you will be back out there as a clawed threat machine before you know it.  Read on after the bump.

What has Changed for Feral Tanks in 4.0?

In a nutshell, pretty much every Feral Tanking ability has changed in some way.  Each of these changes introduces a little more complexity to a bear's rotation and the sum total is a dramatic increase in the amount of attention you need to pay to your spells and abilities.

You will also notice a significant loss of damage throughput, particularly on multiple targets.  Do not worry, this is normal.  Just be glad your survivability remains as potent as ever.

What is the 4.0.1 Feral Tank Single Target Rotation?

If your remember nothing else from this guide about single target tanking, remember that when Mangle is off cooldown use it.  This means not only whenever your six seconds are up, but also when you Lacerate ticks proc the new Berserk effect.  Mangle hits exceptionally hard now and generates tons of threat.  Use it whenever you can.

Speaking of abilities to use whenever you can, do not forget about Maul.  Maul is no longer activated on your next auto-attack, but it is still off the global cooldown.  Unless you are rage starved (which you likely will not be until well into Cataclysm), hit Maul whenever it is off cooldown.  If you do not want to worry about staying on top of Maul, feel free to macro the ability on the tail end of your other attacks.  Just be cautious about draining too much rage.

The next thing you need to worry about are your Lacerate stacks and Pulverize.  You will want to keep Lacerate at the maximum 3 stacks for as long as possible.  You also want to assure that you have your Pulverize critical strike buff up 100% of the time always consuming a full three stacks.  This means constantly building, rebuilding, and maintaining your Lacerate stacks and them dumping them with Pulverize right as you are about to lose your critical strike buff.

Feral Faerie Fire is a good place to dump free global cooldowns assuming you are meeting all of your targets above.  This is especially true if there are no other sources of armor reduction in your group and you are not at a full 3 stacks.  Regardless, the ability offers decent damage, solid threat, and serves as our only ranged attack.

Should you have the global cooldown and rage to spare, Swipe is a decent rage dump of last resort.  Odds are you will be too busy juggling your other abilities to bother using Swipe on one target, but should you ever find yourself with nowhere else to direct your attention, it will fill a void.

As for your cooldowns, you can use them pretty much as you would have before.  Berserk allows you to spam Mangle which is a relatively more powerful attack than before the patch.  Use it whenever you need a heavy burst of threat.  Though Survival Instincts, Frenzied Regeneration, and Barkskin have changed, all remain great defensive cooldowns which should be used as needed.  Lastly, Enrage is a good way to get some extra rage, especially if you pick up the talent King of the Jungle and Primal Madness.  Be wary of using it in combat, however, as it increases your damage received.

To pull a single target, be sure to Feral Charge to activate Stampede.  As you are Charging, throw down a Feral Faerie Fire and once you are in melee range it's time to Mangle and Maul.  Then settle in as per the instructions above.

 How Do You Multi-Target Tank as Feral in 4.0.1?

Swipe spam is gone and it is not coming back.  It is best to get your head around that as soon as possible so as to move on and start learning to deal with the tanking tools we have.  I will readily admit that dealing with multiple adds is significantly tougher now, but it is still manageable if you adhere to some of the following tips and tricks.

First, even though Swipe now has a 6 second cooldown, it is still your best friend in terms of locking down and holding large packs of mobs.  The cooldown simply means that you need to be more cautious when you first use it.  When charging into a pack of mobs, try to position yourself carefully so that your very first Swipe hits every single target.  You won't get another shot at it for six seconds, so you really need to hit as many targets as possible with that first Swipe.  Even when pulling mobs back to you with Feral Faerie Fire, wait until they all reach you before taking a Swipe at them.  After that first Swipe, use it every time the cooldown is up as soon as you can.

Maul is another ability you will want to be using as often as you can on large mob packs, particularly once you pick up Glyph of Maul.  Tab through your targets and throw out a Maul every time its cooldown pops.  You can track which targets you have hit recently by looking at Infected Wounds debuffs.  Try to land each Maul on a target either without the debuff or with very little time left on the debuff.  This will assure you are spreading your Mauls as evenly as possible through a mob pack.

Just as you are spreading your Mauls around, you will also want to be laying down Mangles on as many different mobs as you can.  Here you will again be looking to apply the Infected Wounds debuff to all of your mobs.  For particularly challenging AoE pulls, consider using Berserk.  Randomly tabbing through targets and spamming Berserk enhanced Mangles is an easy way to hold packs of mobs, especially if you do not neglect Swipe when it is available.

With your spare global cooldowns, you can go in one of two directions.  First, you can use them to spread Lacerates around your many targets.  I would recommend, however, using those cooldowns to try and get a full Pulverize debuff up and running.  I would rather have 9% extra crit for all of my Swipes, Mangles, and Mauls than a bunch of single stacked Lacerates slowly ticking away.  The choice is up to you though as either approach contributes to your ability to hold the mobs.

As a last tip for multi-target tanking in 4.0.1, consider casting Thorns on yourself right before the pull.  Thorns does a ton of damage now and you can use all the help you can get.  Also, as always, do not neglect your defensive cooldowns.

Hopefully these tips will help you return Bear tanks to their former glory.  What are the biggest challenges you have faced tanking since the patch?  Let me know in the comments.


  1. Very cool, I had trouble at first with AoE threat, but after settling in to the new changes, I find bear tanking much more rewarding and effective.

  2. Do you suppose we could talk on AIM or something? I'm sorry, it's just I quit WoW a while back and I was dual speced resto and balance, but since tree of life is now a cool down, I want to get into feral tanking. I was horrible at it during my lower levels (now a 73 Druid) so I was wondering if you could explain a few things to me. it would be greatly appreciated just helping my choose gear and maybe set up a macro or arrange my moves just so it is easier to remember :) email me at , thanks so much

  3. Aye, Thanks alot now i can maybe handle some Heroics and Raids with my Feral Drood

  4. What about using Fearie Fire Feral for aoe tanking, as it does a high amount of threat?

  5. Feral Faerie Fire does generate significant threat, but it only hits one target. I have a hard time working it in between all of my Swipes, Mangles, and Mauls, especially since I elect to try and keep Pulverize up.

    If you have spare cooldowns to toss around Feral Faerie Fire in an AoE situation, go ahead. I just doubt you will because of all the other higher priority abilities you need to keep track of.

  6. Any reason you left out roars in AoE situations? I thought debuffing the whole group added threat.

  7. What I do as my level 78 feral tank druid is throw a fearie fire on an opposite target after i charge the initial target for the haste buff then i swipe then stack up lasorate till i get the berserk proc and use mangle (if it doesn't proc before the swipe cooldown I'd use an additional swipe and maul to keep up aggro on up to 8 targets at a time) Is this ok? or is there a better way?If you could tell me some tips it'd be very appriciated (

  8. @Anonymous re: using roars - The roars do generate threat, but not all that much. If you're going to roar, I would recommend doing only for the resulting debuff, not to establish threat.

    @Lucas - I would recommend taking advantage of the fact that you can cast Faerie Fire at range. On a pull I will Faerie Fire one target (such as a caster) and then immediately Feral Charge another. If you Faerie Fire while still at range, that frees up extra time to use your melee abilities after your charge.

    As an illustration, if you Feral Charged then cast Faerie Fire, you would be in melee range of the enemy and have used two abilities. If, however, you cast Faerie Fire then Charge then Mangle, you are in melee range of the enemy and have used three abilities. Saving Feral Faerie Fire for after your Charge wastes the fact that it is a ranged ability.

  9. Good pointers for sure. Remember that we have another AoE ability Thrash coming at 81 which will help on trash pulls immensely.

    I tend to think keeping up demo roar is a difference in experience levels. It definitely about damage mitigation not threat but is still a necessary thing to learn to keep up if you want to be a good tank.

    You talk about watching debuffs and stacks which I totally agree is super-important but I am bad about watching (I tend to just count stacks and GCDs in my head and hope I'm right). My question is about UI: do you have a nice BIG graphical addon recommendations for watching those?

  10. Thanks Pathis. Mind posting the code for a macro for Swipe + Maul? The one I had that was working in WotLK is not working now.

    I was surprised how much stuff got changed in Cat; this is a great primer - thank you.

  11. AoE pulls in Cata:

    This is based on only having one target being CC'd (caster preferred, not healer).

    Select your first target carefully, I like to take out healers first, but in some cases certain mobs need to go down first, anyways, here's an account of my AoE pull:

    Scenerio: 5 mob: 3 melee, 1 caster, 1 healer
    CC'n Caster with Hex/Sheep/Sap etc... (we used Sheep)

    Cast Thorns on yourself, Faerie Fire your strongest melee (Melee #1), Charge healer, Mangle, Lacerate, turn mobs so that your Bear Butt is turned to the CC'd Caster, tab to Melee #1, Swipe, Lacerate, tab to Melee #2, Thrash, Mangle, tab to Healer, Growl, Lacerate, Swipe, (Healer should be down), tab to Melee #1, Thrash, Berzerk GCD, Mangle, tab, Mangle, (Melee #1 should be down), tab to CC'd Caster, Charge, Lacerate, Swipe, tab to Melee #3, Mangle, Thrash, tab to Melee #2, Growl, Lacerate, Swipe, (Melee #2 down), tab to Caster, Lacerate, (Caster should be down), tab to Melee #3, Growl if you lost him, Mangle, Lacerate, Lacerate, Lacerate, Pulverize... and he died before I could Mangle again.

    I Growled Melee #3 cuz he started going to the Mage just as I tabbed back to him.

    Hope this helps. :P

  12. This has been the best tips I've read so far, just one question what is the required dodge now for heroics and raids

  13. @Brian: I had that same problem when Cataclysm first came out. The name for Swipe in Bear form is now "Swipe (Bear)" so a simple Macro to use both Swipe and Maul would look something like:

    /cast Maul
    /cast Swipe (Bear)
    @Anonymous: I used to use an addon called Feral by Night, but I haven't for some time now. I'll keep my eyes peeled for a good addon to fit the bill and let you know if I come across one.

    @Growlz: Great tips!

    @Anonymous: There isn't really a set Dodge percentage that you should be aiming for. If you are not neglecting Agility and reforge some haste and any excess hit into Dodge you should be fine so long as your ilevel is up to snuff.

  14. Stat Importance:
    Reforge for Hit and Expertise until capped.
    Hit = 8.0%
    Expertise = 25-26

    When you iLvL gets up around 345ish your gear will take care of most of your Hit needed, but I had to reforge alot for Expertise. At lower iLvLs I Reforged for more Dodge, but as I lvl'd and my iLvL increased, the Expertise helped my Threat more and it didn't affect my survivability much losing the "Reforged" Dodge. And now I have no problems with threat, and I have maybe 2 items reforged for Dodge.

    Thanks Evania for the advice. :P

  15. I have an issue I hope someone here can help with.

    I am currently struggling with keyboard ordering of abilities as a revived feral tank. I had little to no problem tanking in Wrath because we primarily spammped swipe, maul, and put up our two dots (lacerate and mangle).
    Now we have thrash, beserk, etc... and frankly I am having a hard time using more than keys 1-6 and the mouse. I would use two hands for keys 1-=, but then I wouldn't have the mouse to turn and whatnot.

    Here is my current key binding:
    1 - Basic Attack (always like to have this handy to turn off auto-attack if needed).
    2 - Growl
    3 - Maul
    4 - Mangle
    5 - Swipe
    6 - Lacerate
    7 - Pulverize
    8 - Thrash
    9 - Bash
    0 - Challenging Roar
    - - Demoralizing Roar
    = - Farie Fire

    On other tool bars are the following
    Surivial Instincts Macro (bark skin, SI, frenzied regeneration)
    Feral Charge
    Skull Bash
    Stampeding Roar

    Essentiall I feel like I am floundering trying to use keys 1-6 with my left hand, use the mouse to click keys 7-= and other buttons with my right hand, watch the boss for ability/spell activations, watch the other mobs to make sure I don't have to pick them up, and also watch the general landscape for things like spikes and boulders to dodge.
    I.E. I am not pulling it off well since I had to start using a mouse to click the additional abilities because its just 1 thing too many.

    I am sure other people out there have run into this overload and might have some suggestions. I suspect I will have to Macro some stuff up to reduce the buttons on my left hand to "must haves", but I am concerned about doing something like Maul and Swipe as a macro in the case when you have to hit something that is next to a CC'ed mob.

    Thanks for any input.

  16. I'm a little surprised you didn't mention thrash at all. Maybe I'm being a noob and thinking its worth something but I feel its a decent amount of threat and DPS for AoE tanking. I don't use it all the time as I'm much more occupied with the rest of my rotation but its a good filler for when the time is right. Single target its kinda worthless but it helps keeps some hate on multiple mobs. And it has a really sick animation! :D

  17. Ok...
    After discussing this with a friend recently, he gave me the look of horror when I told him normal attack was bound to 1. I should be ashamed of myself for leaving it there, it's just been there from the start though.

    Meanwhile I used the following Macros to try and make my fumbling around on screen less of an issue:

    Charge the moused over target if it is hostile and not dead:
    #showtooltip Feral Charge(Bear Form)
    /cast [@mouseover,exists,harm,nodead] Feral Charge(Bear Form)

    Growl at the moused over target if it is hostile and not dead:
    #showtooltip Growl(Bear Form)
    /cast [@mouseover,exists,harm,nodead] Growl(Bear Form)

    AOE swipe/thrash the target if it is hostile and not dead. Start with swipe on the first cast since it's rage is lower, and if I hit the button again 6 seconds then thrash, otherwise reset back to swipe:
    #showtooltip Swipe(Bear Form)
    /castsequence [@mouseover,exists,harm,nodead] reset=6 Swipe(Bear Form),Thrash(Bear Form)

    The first two allow me to not have to click the mob and then click the button. All i have to do is hover over them and click the button.
    The third allows me to combine two buttons in one so I don't have to worry about which ability I am using, just that it's an AOE swipe.

    These should help my feeling overwhelmed, and so should the Razer Naga mouse I am about to pick up that has like 12 assignable buttons. I think beyond that all I need is a cool down indicator near the middle of the screen so I don't have to look down at my buttons and take my eyes off the boss or the trash/area.

    Just thought I would share what I did to try and make things easier on myself.

  18. I promise I'm not trying to take over this thread. :) I tried those macros above and found them wanting. Specifically for charge and swipe, I had to be mouse hovering over the target I was already targeting which was just plain silly, so I added some conditions to target what I was hovering over, but if I wasn't mouseovering to use my current target.

    I also made some other tweaks and thought I would share what I am currently using to close the loop:
    - Charge
    /tar [@mouseover,harm,nodead][@target,harm]
    /cast [nostance] Bear Form; [stance:1] Feral Charge(Bear Form)

    /cast [mod:alt] Challenging Roar(Bear Form); [@mouseover] Growl(Bear Form)

    /castsequence [@mouseover,harm,nodead][@target,harm] reset=6 Swipe(Bear Form),Thrash(Bear Form)

    /cast [@mouseover,harm,nodead][@target,harm] Skull Bash(Bear Form)

    -Oh Shit
    /run c="!OH SHIT button pressed!"if UnitInRaid("player")then SendChatMessage(c, "RAID")elseif GetNumPartyMembers()>0 then SendChatMessage(c, "PARTY")end
    /Cast Survival Instincts
    /Cast Barkskin (Bear Form)
    /Cast Frenzied Regeneration

  19. Aoe tanking as bear is so annoying now I can see why tanks are hard as hell to get in randoms. Don't gimme that dps class are needed more bs either. Its just crap. If tanks liked to play their spec as much as dps there wouldn't be a 40 min que for everyone else and tanks are just getting right in. Healers almost as fast. Fix tanks blizzard. Thanks.

  20. A tip for a simple addon for nice BIG icons that tell you when you have stacked something up enough, or lost a buff, or whatnot: TellMeWhen

  21. A note if you're trying TellMeWhen:

    Setting it up is simple, but there are a few gotchas. You need to rightclick and set up the icons you want. Then use /tmw to lock it. It wont actually work until it is locked. Also, you can have multiple bars, just go enable them.

  22. Well, for all of the Bears out there fighting for threat, no worries my furry comrades. It all goes away when your iLvL goes up. LoL. Sadly, your talent as a Bear Tank will only cause you stress until you get better gear. I'm not totally geared out, but at 352 iLvL, well I can nap thru most heroics now. It's so much easier that it's not even funny. Gotta love that the game is so gear based, sometimes it just doesn't seem right. I don't even use CC in most dungeons now.... Charge pull, Swipe, Thrash, Mangle, Maul, rinse & repeat. Growl then Mangle any stragglers.....

  23. Hello my main is a feral tank. His name is chernd on misha. I find that a macro with swipe and challenging roar is very helpful as long as ur glyphed for it.

  24. I'm curious about thrash as well. Someone mentioned you not touching on it because right now i too use it in my rotation. If someone could discuss why or why not its used that would be great.

    Also i found it really amazing to macro Maul with all of my main abilities in Wrath but now none of them work except my lacerate one. It was a significant dps increase as well as helping with threat so i am hoping to get that working again.

    I saw that you listed one for swipe but if there is a working macro for combining maul with mangle, and thrash i would love to know it.

  25. I'm pretty sure this thread was started before Cataclysm went live. That's why he never discussed Trash. This was mainly to help you through the end of Wrath.